Romanesco & Romesco

IMG_3874

Romesco sauce may be my most favorite sauce ever. If you love roasted red peppers you will love it too! It works with tofu, on crostini, or as a dipping sauce for this gorgeous Romanesco cauliflower which is just coming back into season.

Romesco is a sauce from Spain that is made from roasted red peppers and almonds. Super easy to make; only a few ingredients in the processor. Don’t tell me this sounds difficult to make like my Aunt just did when I told her I was having it for lunch. It’s only a few ingredients! Make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Then heat it up.

Romanesco is a sort of broccoli/cauliflower combo. It is has little light green cone shaped florets that easily cut apart. It has a crunchier texture than cauliflower and a sort of nutty flavor.

So these two together equal deliciousness for a side or snack.

Romanesco Cauliflower
1 head of romanesco
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Salt, a pinch

Cut the romanesco into florets and cut any really big ones in half. Toss with oil and salt. Turn out onto a baking sheet, cut side down for the bigger pieces, and roast at 425 until browning on the edges and bottom, anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Romesco Sauce (makes about 1 cup)
3 roasted red peppers
1/3 cup raw almonds
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste

Toss the garlic and almonds into the food processor and pulse until finely ground. The finer the almonds, the smoother the sauce. I like a little texture myself. 

Add the peppers, paprika, sherry vinegar and pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and salt and process until combined. Taste and adjust spices.

Serve and enjoy!

IMG_3873

Sunday Morning Prep

I do Sunday prep every weekend. This makes my weekday meals, which are breakfast, dinner, and sometimes lunch, much easier to deal with because there is always stuff in the refrigerator ready to go.

Here’s what I do. On Saturday morning, I look at what is leftover from the week that I can still use. This week for example, there was a cooked sweet potato, some scallions, a few pieces of a red and an orange pepper, a cup of homemade macadamia nut milk, and about 2 cups of chickpeas that I made last week but never used.

I stand in front of the refrigerator and think about what would be good with what or as my friend Sophie says, “This would be cool with that!” Then I check the pantry to see what I have on hand to determine what I need to put on the Saturday shopping list. Then we head to Whole Foods and complete the mission buying fresh fruits and vegetables, pantry staples like nuts, seeds, and rice, and what ever else attracts my attention. Then I am all set up for Sunday morning prep. When it’s all over, I package everything up so the kitchen and refrigerator are nice and organized.

Here is what today’s prep looked like.

First up, breakfast staples which I make every weekend. We eat tons of granola with homemade yogurt, chia seed pudding post morning runs and for afternoon snacks, and pancakes for breakfast before school.

Granola

IMG_6608

Chia Seed Pudding

IMG_6609

Pancake Batter 
(using the cup of macadamia nut milk)

IMG_6614

Next up, I roasted beets and a small butternut squash. I envision a basic beet salad and chickpea crepes with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts for dinner tomorrow night.

Roasted Beets

IMG_6612

Roasted Butternut Squash

IMG_6615

While this was going on in the oven, I cooked a cup of black beans on the stovetop which yielded about 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans.

Black Beans

IMG_6613

And while the beans were cooking, I sautéed an onion with the leftover scallions and peppers and seasoned them with cumin, garlic parsley and salt, also on the stovetop. Then I added the vegetable mix to the food processor with a cup of the black beans and that leftover sweet potato. The result: five burgers. I browned them in the same pan I cooked the vegetables in (one less pan to wash). We had two for lunch and the other three went into the freezer.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

IMG_6606

I also made a beautiful and flavorful batch of saffron rice pilaf with an onion and a pinch of saffron that I steeped in boiling water. We ate some for lunch and the rest will become a side for dinner this week probably with the black beans and butternut squash.

Saffron Rice Pilaf

IMG_6610

IMG_6611

Then my son, who helps with everything, decided he wanted to make Chef Chloe’s Goldfish crackers so got out the stand mixer and whipped up some dough. We had a great time using all of our cookie cutters to make not only goldfish but owls, circles, flowers, and more.

Goldfish

IMG_6607

Finally, I turned the old chickpeas into hummus which I make all the time. We love it on top of salad, on toast for lunch with avocados, or as a snack with carrots.

Hummus

IMG_6617

This all happened in the midst of cleaning as I cooked, watching Clone Wars, playing Sorry, and having a Nerf gun fight!

IMG_6618

Thanksgiving 2014: Baked Rosemary Pecan Tofu with Homemade Gravy, Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Twice-Baked Corn Bread Stuffing & Orange Cranberry Sauce

IMG_6579

Thanksgiving 2014 is almost here! This is my practice run and my contribution to the vegan Thanksgiving universe. There are so many menus to choose from and so many possibilities including past ones on this blog.

This year, I created a new cornbread stuffing based on my Great Grandma Leeza’s but better because the cornbread is homemade and gluten-free. I also made a lovely rosemary pecan crust (which could easily be used on tempeh and on any night of the week) and instead of the usual roasting of the Brussels sprouts, I shredded them and cooked them on the stovetop. Gravy and orange cranberry sauce round out the meal.

Our sweet, savory, memorable, traditional, and comforting Thanksgiving meal is our way of celebrating thankfulness. And this year we adopted a flock of turkeys! Check out this amazing way to save a bunch of turkeys.

2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Tibbott 2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Martha2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Cecelia 2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Elsa2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Anna2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Turpentine 2014-Adopted-Turkeys-472x394-Gable

Notes: These measurements serve 4 to 6 people. The cornbread should be made the day before. Both the cranberry sauce and gravy can be made ahead of time. I chose to make the Brussels sprouts on the stovetop so all of my kitchen stations were being utilized and everything was ready at the same time.

Rosemary Pecan Tofu
1 package of extra firm tofu
Flour, about a 1/2 cup
Vegan milk, about a 1/2 cup (use unsweetened vegan milk)
2 cup pecans
2 sprigs of rosemary

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for and then cut it into 8 rectangles.

Take the rosemary off the sprig and place in the food processor with the pecans. Process until they are a fine meal. Set up a breading station by pouring each element into a bowl.

1 – flour
2 – vegan milk
3 – rosemary pecan mixture
4 – lined baking sheet for crusted tofu

Dredge the tofu in the flour, then the milk, and then the pecans. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 oven.

New Year’s Day Gravy (makes about 1 cup)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons tamari
1 sprig of rosemary
2 to 3 tablespoons chickpea flour (or other flour)
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or more, to taste)

Place ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Whisk together until the gravy is thick. If it gets too thick, add water.

Twice-Baked Cornbread Stuffing
I use 3 cups of the cornbread for the stuffing. Save the rest for later. I also use corn flour for this version because I like that is (a) gluten-free and (b) kind of crumbly.

Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup vegan sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
1 cup vegan milk
1/4 cup oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Make the flax eggs.

Mix the cornmeal, corn flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add in the flax eggs, milk and oil. Mix well.

Pour into a small baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Stuffing
1/2 onion
1 leek
2 cloves of garlic
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
2 tablespoons dried herbs (sage, marjoram, rosemary, thyme)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Salt, to taste
3 cups cornbread

Sauté the vegetables in oil or water with a pinch of salt until all are soft. Rub the dried herbs in between the palms of your hands and then add to the vegetables. Finely chop the parsley and mix into the vegetables.

Break up the cornbread into a crumble and mix with the vegetables.

Turn out into baking dish and press down. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.

Orange Cranberry Sauce
2 cups of fresh organic cranberries
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup maple sugar
The zest of 1 orange

Bring to a boil. You will start to hear the cranberries start to pop, lower the heat. Then use a spoon to press out all of the cranberries that haven’t popped. The sauce will get thick. If you like the texture, stop here. I like it super smooth, so I put the sauce through my Foley food mill to take out all of the skins.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 dozen small Brussels Sprouts
2 shallots
1 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Big pinch of salt

Shred the Brussels sprouts. Thinly slice the shallots. Place into a saucepan with the oil and a pinch of salt. Bring up the heat and cook until the mixture smells great and starts to brown.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Thai BBQ Sauce

IMG_6590

My husband loves the Thai BBQ Tempeh Sandwich from The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck and I wanted to see if I could impress him with my own version. So I worked up this sauce after doing some research on the internets. I have made both the same day and ahead of time, keeping it in the refrigerator for whenever the urge to make a Thai BBQ meal strikes, like tonight. It is great over tempeh and tofu. And just like The Snail, I like to serve it with my own homemade pickled red onions and chili roasted peanuts.

Thai BBQ Sauce (makes about 1 cup)
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 small green chilis
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons vegan sugar (I use coconut palm sugar)
2 tablespoons chickpea miso
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
The juice of 1/2 a lime, lemon or even an orange

Place all ingredients into the food processor and process until it is all combined and smooth.

To serve, heat the BBQ sauce in a saucepan and pour it over whatever dish you are serving. Enjoy!

Pecan Walnut Ganache Tarts

IMG_5429

IMG_5432

I love these little chocolate-y babies! A great dessert for a dinner party or get together. Just make sure there is no nut allergy.

I like to use my tart pan because I wanted the little tart design and the size was perfect but you can use a regular size or mini cupcake tin but I’m not sure now many you will end up with.

Ganache
4 cups non-dairy chocolate chips
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a saucepan with a pour spout. Add the chips and whisk until melted. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Continue to whisk until the ganache is smooth. Let cool as you work on the crust.

Crust
1 cup walnuts (or all pecans or half walnuts/half pecans)
1 cup pitted dates
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Shredded coconut, a little bit
Whole pecans, 12

Process the walnuts, dates, oats and coconut oil in the processor or Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak the dates and then toss the soaking water before processing.

Sprinkle each tart/cupcake section with shredded coconut. Then, press the crust into each one. Press it down so that it is thin on the bottom and it comes up the side.

Pour the ganache into the tarts and decorate with a whole pecan

Place in the refrigerator to set and then use a small icing spatula to gently release each one from the pan. Serve and enjoy!

Eating Vegan on Long Island: Tula Kitchen in Bayshore

This summer we found a new restaurant on Long Island that serves fantastic vegan dishes. Tula Kitchen is in Bayshore, on the south shore, near the ferries to Fire Island. If you are on your way out east, this is the perfect stop for you. Lots of vegan options, a great atmosphere, and friendly staff. If you go after 6pm, you might need a reservation. We have stopped in several times since and we have been happy with our meal every time.

This bean salad comes to the table complementary. And it is so good we like to order more. It is made with black beans and chickpeas, peppers and carrots, red wine vinegar, and seasoned crispy pita triangles.

IMG_5449

We love the edamame appetizer bowl. It is sprinkled with lots of sea salt. IMG_5451This was the falafel special one night. My son was thrilled for the extra pita.

IMG_5452

IMG_5458

IMG_5463

This is the Tula lentil burger. It is fantastic. We love the sweet potato fries and caramelized onions. Plus, it comes with a side of hummus.

IMG_5465

This is the sesame crusted tofu with sautéed broccoli rabe over coconut basmati rice. Very flavorful but way too much broccoli rabe!

IMG_5464And the finale. A vegan cupcake with a crazy creamy center.

IMG_5467

If you are near Tula, go!!

Brussels Sprouts & Apple Slaw

IMG_6511

This salad is inspired by something that my husband has been getting for lunch at Organic Avenue. He likes to send me a picture of his lunch so I can figure out recipes at home. All I had to do was visit the Organic Avenue website to get the list of ingredients.

And now we have a new favorite salad to make this time of year. The ingredients are really basic and the flavors combine really well. It is kind of sweet and savory at the same time.

serves 3 to 4

1 green apple
1 dozen Brussels sprouts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Brazil nuts (walnuts would work really well)
1/4 cup capers
Red pepper flakes, optional

Dice the apple. Shred the Brussels sprouts by cutting them in half through the stem and then cutting them thinly from the fat top side down to the stem. Chop the Brazil nuts. Drain the capers. Mix together.

Lisa’s Cashew Mayo Dressing (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup water
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vegan sugar
1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix. Blend. If you don’t have a Vitamix, get one. Haha. Ok, if not, just soak the cashews for about 4 hours then blend until super creamy.

Place all of the salad ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup (or more to your liking) of the mayo dressing and toss well. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

IMG_6549

It’s cooke Sunday. When I saw this recipe on Chef Linda’s blog – she is the Director of Compassionate Cuisine at The Catskill Animal Sanctuary - I went into my pantry and luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand except I subbed sunflower oil for coconut oil. They came out fantastic - they are gluten-free and full of good ingredients.

This recipe makes a baker’s dozen using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scooper. I like big cookies but you can easily use a smaller measure like a tablespoon (as the original recipe says to.)

1 cup whole oats
1 cup unsalted peanuts
1 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sunflower oil (or other oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
Jam or preserves (I used organic raspberry)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Coarsely grind the oats in the food processor. Add peanuts to the ground oats and process again until the mixture looks like sand. Add the brown rice flour, vanilla powder and salt and pulse a few times until combined.

Add the oil and maple syrup and process until the dough comes together.

Using the ice cream scooper, scoop up the dough and the roll between your hands forming a round cookie. Then press it down on the baking sheet to make a circle. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Work the back of the tip of a spoon around the center of each cookie and press down to make an indentation for the jelly.

Take two spoons, and with one, scoop up some jelly and use the other spoon to push the jelly off the first spoon and into the indentation. You may have to work the dough back together if the edges break a little.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges turn nice and brown. Let cool completely so they have time to really firm up. Enjoy!

Eating Vegan in Nyack, NY: Art Cafe

On our way down from our annual visit to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary for the big Shindig party celebrating compassionate living, we stopped at this cute little cafe in Nyack called Art Cafe. I googled “vegan eating” as we were driving and this place came up. I checked the menu and the reason why we stopped there was because many of the dishes were list as vegan. The actual word “vegan” was printed on the menu and this makes me happy when eating out. To me that means the restaurant thought about it, understands it, and I can be free and happy while eating there!

Art Cafe has a cool organic coffee shop vibe.

IMG_5773

My husband ordered this St. Peter’s organic ale. Love the bottle!

IMG_5776

We started with hummus. Very traditional Israeli style with lots of za’atar and super thick pita bread.

IMG_5843And check out this malawach which is thin Israeli dough that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Loved it!

IMG_5845Then we ordered these little rice bowls. I got the Kahlo Bowl which was like a salad of chickpeas, cucumbers, red onion, and fresh herbs with sweet tahini dressing over rice and my husband got the Specialty Bowl with organic tofu slices and a flavorful pistachio and almond mix served over hot basmati rice made with israeli spices.

IMG_5846 IMG_5848Easy, fun vegan lunch at a cute local joint. If you find yourself around Nyack, go there!

Taste Test: Miyoko’s Kitchen Handcrafted Artisan Vegan Cultured Cheese

IMG_6513

Miyoko Schinner is a legend in the vegan cooking world. I bought her book Artisan Vegan Cheese when it came out two years ago but I never made a recipe. I supported the Kickstarter campaign for her vegan cooking show Vegan Mashup on Delicious TV just so I could watch her in action.

And now, Miyoko launched Miyoko’s Kitchen where she makes artisan vegan cheeses (which are actually cultured nut products) and now I don’t need the book and can just order online!

I liked cheese growing up but nothing fancy. Swiss cheese on toast, American cheese in macaroni and cheese, cream cheese on a bagel, or once in a while a fancy variation at a restaurant or something. Now I get to choose from these very fancy and beautiful handcrafted vegan cheeses. But which to buy? Miyoko’s Mix – why not get it all? – is what the website said. So I did!

IMG_6507

And last night we had a cheese tasting party. Grapes, apples, and eight different cheeses. We loved them all. Each has their own flavor and texture, true to their descriptions on the website (see below), and they last for a few months in the refrigerator and get better with time.

Here are some ideas for cooking projects but first I am going to toast a scooped out bagel and slather it with the double cream chive. This is the closest thing to cream cheese and chives from when I was a girl and I could not be happier! Then I want to melt the sundried tomato garlic into a big bowl of pasta and make risotto with the rustic alpine or the winter truffle. And then I want to sit with a plate of sliced apples and eat the rest or just go into the refrigerator and take a slice straight up.

What a joy that the vegan world has come to this! There can no longer be the excuse that  “I can’t go vegan because I would miss cheese too much” because these cheeses are healthier, environmentally friendly, and cruelty free.

Place your order ASAP and enjoy a whole new level of plant based cuisine!

These are the cheeses from Miyoko’s Mix with descriptions from their website:

No. 1 Classic Double Cream Chive - Buttery, savory, mild herbal garlic flavor.

No. 2 Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic - Creamy and robust with deep Mediterranean flavors.

IMG_6514

No. 3 High Sierra Rustic Alpine - Semi-hard wheel with nutty, sweet overtones and a buttery finish.

No. 4 Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf - Wine-soaked fig leaves caress a gorgeous soft, fresh, aromatic wheel.

No. 6 French Style Winter Truffle - Elegant, woodsy, earthy flavors full of umami in a luxuriously creamy base.

IMG_6516

No. 7 Aged English Sharp Farmhouse - Hard, aged round with sharp, complex flavors and a long finish.

No. 8 Aged English Smoked Farmhouse - Semi-hard with rich, smoky, sharpness that lingers.

No. 9 Country Style Herbes De Provence - Mildly tangy, coated in lavender and herbs for a touch of sweetness.

IMG_6515

And then there is this. Blue cheese! My son wanted to help me take a picture and the natural light was fading. He got his Anakin Skywalker light saber.

IMG_6517