Spiced Middle Eastern Inspired Green Bean Stew & Rice Pilaf

IMG_8802.jpg

This dish has fast become one of my favorites. It’s inspired by the purple pole beans that I grew in my garden this summer and Selma, the owner and cook at Bloodroot Vegetarian, who taught me how to make my new favorite pie crust.

Selma told me to make this recipe when I told her I had lots of beans in my garden. I made up the measurements based on our conversation but this is a pretty versatile dish so cut these measurements down to fit your needs.

Spiced Middle Eastern Green Beans
1 big onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. green beans, about 4 cups
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
A few shakes of cinnamon, more to taste
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg, more to taste
A few pinches of salt, more to taste

Slice the onion in half and then into semi circles. Heat the oil in a large pan with sides and slowly caramelize the onions until they start to soften and brown.

Trim and cut the beans into bite sized pieces and add to the onions. Add the tomato paste, water and seasonings. Mix well. Cover and cook until the green beans have softened considerably. When the beans are like buttah, they are done!

Rice Pilaf
2 cups uncooked rice
1 onion
1 teaspoon of olive oil
4 cups of water
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Fresh lemon juice, 1/2 of a lemon, or more to taste

Dice the onion and saute in the oil until just transparent. Add the rice and toss around to coat in the oil. When the rice is transparent, add water. Cover and cook until the rice is fluffy (check package for directions.)

Plate the rice. Top with green bean stew. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

Roasted Potatoes, Tomatoes & Onions

IMG_7697.jpg

I have no words to describe how much I love this dish. It’s plain and simple but it’s absolutely beautiful and tasty. My tomatoes are still turning red and so I still have fresh summer produce to work with. I am not sure I can ever go back to eating tomatoes in the winter. Sad, but it will be a winter of squash instead!

12 little round white potatoes
12 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 a big red onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt, a pinch

Toss. Roast. Eat. Enjoy!

IMG_7698.jpg

Blue Plate Special #64: Kid-Approved Honee Tempeh with Steamed Broccoli & Carrot Slaw with Dill & Capers

IMG_8823.jpg

Blue Plate Special

This summer I built two raised beds on the side of my driveway and created a little food garden. I am loving growing food – kale, parsley, chives, radishes, basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and carrots. These big, colorful, glorious very carrot-y carrots! I am definitely hoarding them and using them up slowly.

IMG_8809.jpg

Garden Carrots

To showcase these for my family, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a nice slaw piled on a classic Lisa Blue Plate Special with my official kid approved Bee Free Honee tempeh and steamed broccoli.  It’s easy and comes together quickly.

Note: any part of this plate can be served with anything else you like! Don’t limit yourself. But let’s face it, the tempeh and the carrot slaw are irresistible!

Honee Tempeh
8oz block of tempeh
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon Bee Free Honee

Cut the tempeh into cubes. Heat oil in a skillet and when it is hot, add the tempeh. Toss around to coat and cook for a few minutes. It will start to smell good and brown a little.

Drizzle the tamari over the tempeh and toss around. The tempeh will continue to brown as it cooks. As you toss, try to get all sides on the surface of the pan.

When the tempeh looks nice and crispy, drizzle with honee. It will caramelize quickly so toss around and then take right off the stove.

Steamed Broccoli
1 head of broccoli

Steam. 🙂

IMG_8820.jpg

Carrot Slaw with Dill & Capers

I usually like a creamy dressing (like my homemade cashew mayo or Fabanaise) with my slaws but I decided to go for a light variation with this slaw to be sure the flavor of the carrots shines through.

2 big or 4 little multicolor carrots, about 1/2 lb.
1/2 small red onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons capers, drained

Shred the carrots on a box grater or in the processor with the shred blade. Thinly slice the red onions. Chop the dill. Drain the capers. Mix together in a bowl.

Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (champagne, sherry or white balsamic)
2 teaspoons homemade mustard or store bought
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
Salt, to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar. Shake it up.

Taste and adjust salt and/or sugar. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Pour over the carrot mixture. Enjoy!

Summer (or Anytime) Cucumber Salad

IMG_8931.jpg

Obviously this salad is terrific in the summer when cucumbers are abundant. But theoretically, you can make it anytime. It is best served immediately.

The key to the salad is to salt the cucumbers and onions in order to drain the excess water out of the vegetables or the salad will be a wet, soggy mess!

Serves 2 to 3

1 lb. cucumber (that is one really big one or a few little ones, good to have a kitchen scale)
1/2 small red onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vegan sugar (I like beet)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill

Peel, deseed and slice the cucumber. Thinly slice the onions into half moons. Place the cucumbers and onions into a tight mesh strainer over a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss around to evenly coat with salt. Let sit and drain for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the dill.

In the bottom of your serving bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar.

Press out any excess water and add cucumbers and onions to the bowl. Toss around. Add the chopped dill and mix well. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Homemade Polenta aka Creamed Corn

IMG_8662 2.jpg

Polenta aka Creamed Corn

When I was growing up, my mother used to serve us creamed corn. You know, the kind in the can! I freakin’ loved it. But I would never eat that now so I have lived without that creamy goodness. Until now!

This summer I discovered homemade polenta. Which is, let’s face it, creamed corn. I love it even more then I remember loving the canned stuff. And it is so easy to make it’s ridiculous!

4 ears of corn
Water, to cover the corn
2 tablespoons butter, or more to taste
Salt, to taste

First, shuck the corn and remove the silks. Then, you want to cut the kernels off the cob. The best way I have found to do this is to use my bundt pan. Stand the cob up in the center and the shave off the kernels. The bundt pan will catch them. Then use the back of your knife to release the “milk” (that is that little pile on the bottom right of the photo.)

IMG_8659.jpg

Cutting the corn off the cob over a bundt pan

Drop all of the corn and the milk into a sauce pan. Just cover with water. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes on a low simmer. Drain the corn but reserve the cooking water.

Drop the corn into the processor and process until creamy, adding some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry or you want it creamier.

IMG_8660.jpg

Processed corn

Add the corn paste back to the pan with the butter and salt. Heat just to melt the butter. Add more cooking liquid if you want a creamier texture, cooking it down so it is not soupy.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with your favorite food. Check out this bowl of goodness:
Polenta
Lime massaged kale
Black beans
Guacamole
Cashew sour cream
Red onions
Scallions

IMG_8665.jpg

Bowl of goodness!

The New Pie Crust! And, Tomato Pies & Galettes

IMG_8855.jpg

I recently had the opportunity to have brunch at Bloodroot Vegetarian restaurant, a vegetarian institution up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. As I was ordering our food, I could not decide between the tofu chilaquiles or the quiche. So this nice lady who was sitting next to the register suggested that since it was my first time there, I should order the quiche. And so I did. It was delicious! I have not had quiche in years and it blew me away. It wasn’t too heavy and the crust was so flaky.

As I was finishing my quiche, that nice lady came over to my table with a small bowl of the tofu chilaquiles for me and then sat down to talk about vegan cooking! She is one of the owners and cooks of the place. Her name is Selma and she is pretty awesome.

I told her how much I loved the quiche and she proceeded to share her recipe! It is almost unheard of for a restaurant to share their recipes (and believe me, I always ask!) but this was a whole different experience.

First, she told me how to make the pie crust. She explained it to me, it’s so simple, I didn’t even have to write it down. Then she shared her quiche recipe. She even let me take a picture of it!

Since it’s the summer and I have an abundance of tomatoes, I decided to try the crust and work with tomatoes and figure I’ll make the quiche in the winter when I am looking for a project.

First, I made a galette (also known as a crostata) with big heirloom tomatoes from my friend’s garden. A galette is free form so I didn’t have to worry about shaping it in a pie plate (which isn’t that hard either!) I sliced big beautiful ripe tomatoes, layered them on the crust, sprinkled with thyme and oregano, and brushed it with a little olive oil. I baked it at 350 until it looked done. Check it out! It is beautiful and delicious.

IMG_8731.jpg

Tomato Galette

Then I made little tomato tartlets. These are inspired by a tomato pie my niece brought me and by the cutest little tomatoes my friend brought. It’s the same crust, but I cut out little rounds and pressed them into my tart pan. Then I sautéed some onions, garlic and oregano with a whole bunch of tomatoes of varying sizes and colors. I doled that out amongst the tarts, topped each of them with one little tomato and a combo of pecans, nooch and olive oil plus a sprinkle fresh parsley from my garden.

IMG_8835.jpg

Tomato Tartlets

Both came out perfectly. This dough is life changing! I usually only make pecan pie during Thanksgiving but I have a feeling this crust is going to change my pie life!

Coconut Oil Crust
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegan sugar (cane or beet)
1/3 cup melted refined coconut oil
Water, to the 1/2 cup line (about 2 tablespoons)

Scoop out a cup of flour. It doesn’t have to be perfect, no exact measurements! Add the salt and sugar and mix around to incorporate.

Add the coconut oil to a measuring cup. Then, fill the cup up with water to the 1/2 cup line.

Add the oil/water mixture to the flour and mix together. It will come together quickly and easily.

Have two big pieces of plastic wrap ready along with a rolling pin.

Turn out dough onto one of the pieces of plastic wrap. Top with the other piece and roll out the dough, turning it every so often so the dough becomes round and flat and as thin as you would like it.

Use as desired, either as a free form galette, cutting out little tartlets, or turning out into a pie pan. If making a pie, you will have enough dough to shape the edges and depending on the pie, you might want to par bake the crust with a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom filled with dry beans for about 10 minutes.

Note: I use the entire dough for the galette but only about two thirds for the tartlets. I put the rest into the freezer for a future project. The quiche perhaps!

IMG_8851.jpg

Tomato Tartlets

Taco Tuesday: Shredded Maitake Tinga Tacos

IMG_8776.jpg

I am a firm believer that anything can be tacos (see my other taco recipes here) but in this case, Tinga tacos are a real thing! Tinga is a sauce made with smoky chipotles in adobo, onions and tomatoes. They also call for shredded stuff that I won’t eat so I sub shredded maitake mushrooms and voila! Shredded maitake Tinga tacos!

Maitake mushrooms are also known as Hen of the Woods. They are those big, flowery mushrooms that are sold in a package (at least where I shop!) I was first inspired by Wicked Healthy to press and char maitake mushrooms which gives them a cool, meaty texture. They are an awesome plant sub for a lot of dishes. Here, I shred them and add them to the Tinga sauce for a fun taco Tuesday idea.

These tacos are also topped with avocado crema, lime massaged kale, and chives from my garden, but you can top them however you want!

Notes:

  • This recipe makes three small tacos. I am the only one who eats mushrooms in my family so double, triple or quadruple the recipe as you need to.
  • I keep homemade pureed chipotles in adobo in my freezer and just break off pieces when I need them for a recipe. If you have a can, one chipotle works and maybe some sauce, depending on how spicy and smoky you like it.
  • To drizzle the avocado crema, I put some into a small baggie and press it all to one corner. Then I cut off the little corner piece to make a piping bag. You an easily just spoon it on!

Tinga Tacos
1 maitake mushroom
1/2 small onion
1 teaspoon chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup water
Sprinkle of oregano
Salt, to taste
3 corn tortillas
Avocado crema
Kale
Fresh lime juice
Chives (or onions or scallions)

Slice the onion into semi circles. Water or oil sauté the onion until it is translucent. Add the chipotles in adobo, tomato and oregano and stir around. Add the water and mix around breaking up the chipotles and paste. Cook on medium heat and let the sauce develop. Add more water if it is looking too thick.

In the meantime, add the maitakes to a big nonstick skillet, cast iron if you have one. Turn the heat to medium. Place another heavy skillet or pot on top of maitakes to press it down. Put something in the pot to keep it steady and even.

The maitakes will start to cook down, release their juices and flatten out. Listen for the sizzle and check them in a few minutes. At some point, the bottoms will be blackened. Use tongs to flip them over and char the other side. This is what they will look like when they are done!

IMG_8559

pressed and charred maitakes

Slice maitakes into long strips and add them to the sauce. Toss around to cover and let the maitakes stew in the sauce for a few minutes and keep warm.

Make the avocado crema (see below). Chop a piece of kale and massage with a few drops of fresh lime juice. Slice the chives.

To serve, char the tortillas on an open flame. Drizzle with cashew crema, top with massaged kale and chives. Sprinkle with extra lime juice, to taste. Enjoy!

Avocado Crema
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup cashew sour cream (see below)

Combine the avocado and the sour cream in the blender or Vitamix.

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews *
1 cup water
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt

*Soak if you don’t have a Vitamix. Drain water and use new water.

Place all ingredients into the blender and let it go until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust lemon if you want it more tart and salt.

Scampi v2: Cauliflower Scampi

IMG_8766.jpg

In the early days of the blog, I made tofu scampi a lot. I would cut it into rounds and make myself a most delicous and elegant meal. But I wanted to see what else I could sub for the tofu. How about cauli?

This is one of the easiest dishes to make. The sauce is kind of classic. It would be great with oyster mushrooms too!

I use the freshest of the freshest garlic I have ever had. My friend grew some in her garden this year. I am so inspired! I am definitely planting some this fall for next year!

Makes 2 big bowls

1/2 small head of cauliflower
1/2 lb. linguine (or other long flat pasta)
2 tablespoons butter (homemade! is best)
2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 teaspoons, divided
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup white wine (I like Vegan Vine Chardonnay)
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt, a pinch or two
Fresh pepper, a few turns
Fresh parsley, a big handful

Get the pasta going.

Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Toss in the 2 teaspoons of oil and add to a pan. Cook over medium heat and turn a few times as it browns.

In another big pan with sides, melt butter into the olive oil. Press the garlic into the pan and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add wine, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the wine by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and toss around to coat in the sauce. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.

Use tongs to lift the pasta out of the water and toss with the cauli. Enjoy!

IMG_8770.jpg

IMG_8773.jpg

Loaded Nachos Supreme with Potato & Carrot Cheeze Sauce

IMG_8596.jpg

Loaded Nachos Supreme

Nachos. Literally, what else can I say? You can top yours with anything you want but this pile is epic. Starting from the bottom, here’s what I’ve got:

Oil free corn chips (sliced and baked corn tortillas)
Cheeze sauce (See recipe below)
Black beans
Mole sauce
Lime massaged kale
Chopped cilantro
Guacamole
Red onions
Scallions
Chives
Cashew sour cream 

It’s kind of an epic platter of plant based goodness!

IMG_8598 2.jpg

Loaded Nachos Supreme

Let’s talk about the cheeze sauce, the star of this post. It’s brilliant. I have seen recipes for queso/nacho style cheese sauce made with potatoes and carrots for years but I never jumped on that bandwagon. Well that was a mistake. This stuff is brilliant and works really well with Mexican style food as well as a mac ‘n cheese sauce.

IMG_8581.jpg

Potatoes, Carrots & Onions

What really turned it around for me was the explanation in the Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) cookbook for Nacho Dip  (recipe reprinted below). This is what it says:

“…we had a revelation when we broke a cardinal kitchen rule: We whirred boiled potatoes in the blender at high speed to release as much gummy, gluey starch as possible. While this would make the most unappealing mashed potatoes, the sticky mixture was the ideal base for a cheese-like sauce with stretch. We blended in a few other key ingredients—carrot for a hint of sweetness and a color, nutritional yeast for funky depth, and a bit of vegetable oil for richness and fluidity—and ended up with a sauce with a pleasing orange color, mildly earthy flavor, and ultra creamy texture….”

IMG_8582.jpg

Magical Cheeze Sauce!!!

Here is my recipe. Note that it stores and reheats really well on the stovetop with a little water.

1 big Russet potato
1 small to medium sized carrot
1/4 of a white onion
Water, for boiling
2 rounded tablespoons nooch
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vinegar (champagne or white!)
1/2 teaspoon each: dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt

Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to a pot. Cover with water and boil until everything is soft.

Reserve a 1/4 cup of the boiling water and drain the rest. Add the vegetables back to the pot to cool off for a bit.

Add the cooked vegetables to the Vitamix and add nooch, oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Process until creamy. In the Vitamix, this will take less than a minute. If it seems to thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Use immediately or store.  When ready to reheat, add a little water to thin it out. Enjoy!

Nacho Dip from ATK
From the ATK website

Makes about 2 cups

12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1‐inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½‐inch pieces (⅓ cup)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
⅓ cup minced poblano chile
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder

Bring 2 quarts water to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add potatoes and carrot and cook until tender, about 12 minutes; drain in colander.

Combine cooked vegetables, ⅓ cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt in blender. Pulse until chopped and combined, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. (You will need to stop processing to scrape down sides of blender jar several times for mixture to come together.) Process mixture on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and poblano and cook until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chipotle, cumin, and mustard and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; remove from heat.

Stir processed potato mixture into onion-poblano mixture in saucepan and bring to brief simmer over medium heat to heat through. Transfer to bowl and serve immediately.

IMG_8490

Nacho Dip with Chipotles in Adobo & Homemade Oil Free Corn Chips

IMG_8531

Chipotle Mac ‘n Peas ‘n Chz

Mole Sauce!

IMG_8432.jpg

Introducing mole sauce. Have you ever had it? The first time I tried it was at Modern Love Brooklyn on some really awesome cauliflower wings. It was possibly the best sauce I have ever had. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. So, I had to recreate it in my kitchen.

Now, as with much of what I make at home, this may not technically qualify as authentic mole, but I don’t care! It’s my kitchen and I had to make a version that works for me. This is what I came up with and everyone who has tried it has loved it. Of course, you can do some research on mole recipes and add what you like but I think the combo of ingredients impart wonderful depth of flavor especially the chipotles in adobo and chocolate.

This post is all about the sauce but that big, fat stuffed burrito topped with sauce is known as a Burrito Enmolda, a smothered burrito, which is really a vehicle for the sauce. You can put whatever you want inside that burrito. I like to sauté onions, carrots, red peppers, spinach and add corn and black beans. Add what you like and stuff those big flour tortillas, roll them up, smother them with a big ladle of sauce, vegan sour cream (recipe below) and guacamole or simply mashed avocado.

This recipe makes a few cups so portion it out and freeze some for future use. Or make nachos to serve before your Burritos Enmoladas. Check out the photo below for my loaded nachos supreme!

Mole Sauce
1 red onion
1 package of Taza Mexican Chocolate (2 discs, 2.7 ounces)
1 heaping tablespoon chipotles in adobo
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or almond or peanut butter)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, a few pinches

Dice the onion. Add to a deep pot and sauté in water or oil until just softening. Press the garlic over the pot and stir into the onions. Add the chocolate, chipotles in adobo, and spices and stir together until the chocolate melts. Add the slivered almonds, tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes and starts to smell freakin’ fantastic.

Turn the heat off and let the sauce cool. Carefully transfer to the Vitamix or blender and process until smooth-ish.

Serve immediately over burritos or nachos. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for a few months. Reheat when ready to use. Enjoy!

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews *
1 cup water
The juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Pinch salt

*Soak if you don’t have a Vitamix. Drain and use new water.

Place all ingredients into the blender and let it go until smooth and super creamy. Check the texture. Add a small amount of water if needed to get the blender blending.

Taste and adjust lemon or vinegar if you want it more tart. Let sit out on the counter in a jar with a lid for 24 hours to “ripen.” Then refrigerate and use at will. Add water and stir to thin it out if it becomes too thick.

IMG_8598 2