Shredded Kale Salad with Quinoa, Toasted Walnuts, Cranberries & Carrots

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I have a love hate relationship with kale. But this salad is moving me toward love. I think it is the cranberries that do it – they offset the bitterness of the kale perfectly. You can use whatever dressing you love. I always have my tahini dressing on hand. Make as much or as little as you want. These measurements are for one regulation sized bunch of lacinato kale.

serves 2 to 3

1 bunch kale
1 cup toasted walnuts
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 carrots
6 scallions

Prep the ingredients. Cook the quinoa. Chop the walnuts and place in a 350 oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant and toasty.

Chop the cranberries, grate the carrots and thinly slice the scallions.

Take the kale leaves off the stems and pile one on top of the other. Chiffonade (thinly slice) the kale.

Place all ingredients into a big bowl and toss together with your favorite dressing. Enjoy!

Onion Soup

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I used to love onion soup and I hadn’t thought about making it at all, really. But I have been experimenting with baked onion rings and because I want big fat onion slices to bread and bake, I had lots of awkward sized onions left over. And that inspired this soup.

I toast up a big piece of homemade bread, top it with Kite Hill cheese and gently lay it on top of the soup. Then I wait a few minutes before I eat so the bread has time to absorb the soup on the bottom side. The contrast is just wonderful!

makes 2 nice sized bowls

1 big white onion
1 clove of garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 cups filtered water
Salt, a pinch
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh bread
Kite Hill cheese, either soft ripened or ricotta

Slice the onion into rings, kind on the thin side. Place them into a soup pot and cook over medium heat. The goal is to caramelize the onions so they are brown and delicious.

When they are nice and brown, press the garlic over the onions and mix in. Cook for a minute. Pull the thyme off the sprigs and add to the onions along with the the vinegar and water. Season with a pinch of salt.

Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or so.

Toast the bread and top with cheese. Ladle the soup out into two bowls and gently lay the toast on top. Grind some fresh pepper over the top. Enjoy!

Leeks, Peas & Carrots *Oh, my!

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It is what it says. I love the combo of peas and carrots – it reminds me of my childhood. But the addition of leeks makes this a very grown up side. Just make as much as you need for how every many people you are cooking for.

This serves 2 to 3 people.

1 leek
2 carrots
1 cup frozen peas
S and P, to taste
Vegan butter, optional

Clean and cut the leek, the white and light green parts, into circles. Peel and cut the carrots into coins. Defrost the peas.

Sauté the leeks in a few tablespoons of water while steaming the carrots until just softening.

When the leeks are soft add the carrots and peas a cook until the peas are warmed through.

Enjoy plain or with a dollop of vegan butter. Enjoy!

How To Make Bread

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I have always wanted to make my own bread. And last Christmas, a dear friend, who heard me lamenting about how I-just-can’t-make-good-bread-with-all-that-kneading-and-those-complicated-instructions, got me the best gift ever – the book My Bread by Jim Lahey, a kitchen scale and a Le Creuset pot.

It is the most spectacular gift – the subtitle of the book says why: it is the revolutionary, no work, no-knead method of making bread. I have now spent the better part of a year perfecting my system.

Buy the book for the interesting details – like Jim’s story, how he came up with the method, information about heat, yeast and salt, and why we are baking inside of a covered LeCreuset – or refer to the recipe in the New York Times.

But until you do something yourself, it is just words on a page. When I started, even though I was a little intimidated, I pressed on. Like a good little girl, I followed the instructions. Over time, I gained confidence, memorized the recipe, and got some new tools. I also learned some big lessons:

  • A round loaf is called a boule.
  • Laying fresh dough for the second rise on kitchen towels eventually ruins the towels and gets flour everywhere.
  • Bannetons are the perfect vessel for the second proof. They are made of rattan and do not even have to be cleaned!
  • Instead of buying individual packets of yeast, I keep a container in the freezer. It is both economical and convenient.
  • I prefer a lot more yeast than the original recipe.
  • Organic bread flour makes the best bread.
  • Superfine brown rice flour dusted on the surface of the dough makes the crustiest crust.
  • It is important to wait at least 8 hours to slice the bread. Believe me, hot bread right out of the oven is amazing but slicing it really does ruin it.
  • An excellent bread knife (mine is a Wustof) is super important for smooth slices.
  • And it is helpful to have a special bread cutting board (but not 100% necessary.)
  • It is best to start the bread making process at night, do the second rise upon waking, and bake early.
  • Since we go through a lot of bread, I bought another LeCreuset so I can make two at a time!

I took pictures of the entire process and while it seems like a lot, it really isn’t. Follow along and then go for it!

Recipe (for one boule)
400 – 415 grams organic bread flour
8 grams instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons, which is 1 packet)
8 grams salt
300 – 315 grams of cold filtered water

Stuff 
Scale
Ceramic bowl for the first rise
Banneton or towel (linen-free) for the second rise
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 qt. round Dutch oven
Cooling rack

Weigh the flour. It doesn’t have to be exact, exact. Anything in the range is fine.

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Add the yeast and then zero out the scale. Add the salt.

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Mix the flour, yeast and salt with a fork, to combine. Place the bowl back on the scale and zero it out. Slowly pour the water straight in the bowl. (If I add 412 grams of flour, I try to add 312 grams of water.) It doesn’t have to be exact, but better less than more. You can always add a tablespoon at a time.

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Mix with a spoonula or wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise overnight.

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This is the dough in the morning, after the first rise.

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Flour a banneton and your hand before pulling the dough out of the bowl.

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These strands are the developed gluten.

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Drop the dough into the banneton.

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Cover with a kitchen towel for the second rise, 60 minutes. Set the timer and at the same time, start the preheat to 475, with the covered LeCreusets on the bottom rack. (That is my pizza stone at the floor of the oven.)

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This is the dough after the second rise.

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Use hot hands to take the LeCreusets out of the oven. Carefully drop the dough into the pot. (It doesn’t have to be centered.) Cover the pot and place back into the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes, use hot hands to take the top off the pot. The bread is gorgeous, with a pale crust. Put back into the oven, uncovered. Set the timer for 15 more minutes.

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After 15 minutes, use hot hands and carefully drop the breads down onto the cooling rack. (Usually they tumble out and then I organize them nicely on the rack.) These are the finished boules singing on the cooling rack. You can actually hear it crackling!

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Wait at least 8 hours to slice the bread. We like to slice it the long way and then slice each side into thin pieces.

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Store in BPA free plastic storage bags in the refrigerator and freezer. Enjoy!

Chickpea-Millet-Corn Croquettes

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The little gems were inspired by Jamie Oliver’s The Best Vegan Buger. I loved the basic concept of chickpeas and corn seasoned with coriander, paprika, cumin and lemon zest. In my version, millet and scallions round out the party. In less than 3 minutes, croquettes! Serve these with anything that you like – steamed greens, rice, a big salad, etc.!

I ate a few as I was writing this recipe and so I lost count of how many I got, maybe 10, using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scooper.

1 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup cooked millet
1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
2 thin scallions (or 1 big one)
1/4 teaspoon each coriander, paprika and cumin, or more to taste
Zest of 1/4 a lemon
Pinch salt
Dash white pepper
High heat oil, for cooking

Place the corn into the food processor and process for a few pulses. The corn will break up and some of the starch will be release. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until everything looks chopped up and it kind of comes together.

Turn the mixture out into a bowl. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop up the mixture. Form it into a cake and then press it down a bit so it is kind of flat.

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet and gently cook a few croquettes at a time. Turn over when the first side starts to lightly brown. Eat immediately or let cool and store until ready to eat. Enjoy!

Eat-the-Rainbow-Everyday Salad with Tofu Croutons

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I make this salad pretty much every day. You can really put whatever you want in it, but I find that since I want to make sure we eat the rainbow every day, I always have these ingredients in the house. Dress it up with tofu croutons, toasted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and top it with your favorite dressing. Mine is my creamy tahini.

Rainbow Salad
Red – red peppers, grape tomatoes
Orange – carrots, orange peppers
Yellow – yellow peppers
Green – Romaine lettuce, cucumbers
Purple – red cabbage

Tofu Croutons (makes enough for two lunch-sized salads)
1/4 of a block of extra firm tofu, pressed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, a pinch
Fresh pepper, a grind or two
1 teaspoon sunflower oil

Cut the tofu into small bite sized pieces. Add the oil to a heated skillet. When it is shimmering, add the tofu and toss around to coat. Sprinkle the garlic over the tofu along with the salt and pepper. Toss around again to coat. Continue to cook the tofu over medium heat, tossing it around as it cooks to make sure it doesn’t stick. It should be crispy in 7 to 10 minutes until the tofu is crispy. Enjoy immediately or save for later!

Taste Test: The Vegan Egg

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I finally got the Vegan Egg from Follow Your Heart. I had to try it because it is, after all, the hot new product. But I am not sure how I feel about it – I don’t miss scrambled eggs. The texture and flavor is spot on and I kind of felt a little weird eating it. But for people who want to eat a pretend egg, this is definitely for you!

It takes a few minutes to make. Just scramble it in a skillet.

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I seasoned it with salt and pepper and ate it with a big squirt of ketchup.

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I have to be honest and say that I won’t be eating these again but I may use them in some baking experiments. Try it and let me know your thoughts!

Noochy Brussels Sprouts

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Nutritional yeast + Brussels sprouts = nutty deliciousness.

This is so easy it isn’t even a recipe. Trust me – slice, dice and sauté. Then sprinkle with nooch. Done and done!

Brussels sprouts
Sunflower oil
Nutritional yeast aka Nooch

Slice the little end off the Brussels sprouts. Then, slice them thinly.

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Add a small amount of oil to a pan and heat it up. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss around to coat. Cook until they are bright green and starting to get browned.

Turn them out onto a plate and sprinkle with nooch. Enjoy!

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Twinkies!

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OMG. Twinkies. Vegan. Homemade. In. My. Kitchen!

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My son and I been wanting to make our own Twinkies. We got two Wilton Non-Stick 12-Cavity Delectovals Cake Pans and went to work. We filled them up way too much the first time around but we realized that if we fill the delectovals only about half way, we get Twinkie perfection!

I used my vanilla cake recipe and my buttercream frosting recipe. This recipe makes 16 Twinkies.

Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegan cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add the wet ingredients and use a hand mixer to combine into a smooth batter.

Using a small ladle, ladle batter into each delectoval filling up about halfway. Err on the lesser side.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry. Let cool completely!

Buttercream Filling *
1/2 stick Earth Balance shortening
1/2 stick Earth Balance butter
1 1/4 cups vegan powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon filtered water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

*There will be more frosting than needed for the Twinkies. Freeze it and then defrost it in the refrigerator next time you need frosting. Fluff it up using a hand mixer before decorating.

Make sure all ingredients are the same temperature. Cream together the shortening and butter. Add the sugar, water and vanilla and use a hand mixer to combine thoroughly.

Use a small icing tip to punch three holes in each Twinkie. Add the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip and pipe in a dollop of filling into each hole. Enjoy immediately or save for later if you can!

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Moroccan Tofu & Vegetables

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I love the website and mobile app from Happy Cow – it helps us find vegan eats wherever we go. We have been lucky – we found so many great vegan places including Nucleus Foods in Luzerne, PA. I recently received a cookbook compiled by the site. It is chock full of interviews with the owners of top-rated restaurants from all over the world – Israel, Europe and the U.S. It is interesting to see what is happening on the vegan scene outside of NYC!

There is a recipe for Moroccan Tajine from SunCafe Organic in Los Angeles. I love the concept and flavor profile but I adapted it to fit my cooking style – almost one pot and super easy. This dish was a big hit and has become a staple dinner in my house! Tonight I served it over rice. Couscous, polenta, or potatoes would work equally well.

Serves 2

1/2 block of extra firm tofu
2 carrots
4 scallions
1 clove of garlic
1/2 regular size zucchini
1/2 of an apple
1/2 cup frozen peas
Water, for sautéing
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, optional
1/2 cup cashew milk *
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Fresh dill, about 1 tablespoon **
Salt, to taste

* Cashew milk thickens as it cooks. If it gets too thick for your liking, add a few tablespoons of water. Make your own cashew milk by adding 1 cup of cashews to 3 cups of filtered water into the Vitamix and let it rip until blended. If you don’t have a Vitamix soak the cashews for at least 4 hours or soak them for 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain the soaking water or cooking liquid and use fresh filtered water to make your milk. Save the rest for tomorrow’s breakfast.

** If you only have dried dill, use about 1/2 tablespoon, but adjust to your liking.

Prep everything. Cut the tofu into small cubes. Slice the carrots into half moons. Cut the scallions into rounds, using the white and green parts. Press the garlic. Dice the zucchini and apple. Defrost the peas. Chop the dill if using fresh. Save some extra dill and scallions for garnish.

In a small steamer, steam the carrots until just soft, easily pierced with a fork.

At the same time, drop scallions, garlic and zucchini into a pan with sides. Add a few tablespoons of water and cook on medium heat until the zucchini is bright green. Add the carrots, apples and peas and tofu. Cook for a few minutes to heat the tofu and soften the apples.

Add the sesame seeds, dill, cinnamon and paprika and gently mix with a wooden spoon. Add the cashew milk and fresh lemon juice and gently mix again until everything is coated. Continue to cook on medium to low heat until the sauce is bubbling and it smells delicious.

Sprinkle with dill and scallions for garnish. Enjoy!