Tofu Cacciatore (or Red Pepper-White Wine-Caper Sauce)

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It is a little oxymoronic use non-vegan terms to name a dish but it’s a good way to describe a familiar dish. Cacciatore means “hunter” and this is a famous dish that hunter’s prepared. I guess you could say I hunted down the tofu at the health food store and, whew, that was hard. And now I made this dinner.

I researched cacciatore, first on Wikipedia and then different recipes. There are tons out there but the basic ingredients include onions, peppers, tomatoes and wine. Here is my version. Cacciatore is traditionally served over pasta but it is also great over rice and polenta. The sauce is just as good, if not better, the next day. Oh, and chickpeas are great with this sauce too. See the end of the post!

Note: This recipe calls for a roasted red pepper. Roast it ahead of time, say during a prep day, and have it on hand to make this dinner happen super quickly! You could also use store bought but homemade is always better.

Serves 2

For the sauce
1 small leek, green and white parts
1 clove of garlic
1 roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chickpea miso
1 cup white wine (I like Vegan Vines Chardonnay)
2 teaspoons capers
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced
A few tablespoons of water, for sautéing

1/2 block of extra firm tofu, pressed for as long as you have time for
2 tablespoons chickpea flour, seasoned with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons sunflower oil, for sautéing

Pasta, enough for 2

Get the pasta going.

Clean and thinly slice the leek. Add to a pan with sides. When the leeks start to soften add a tablespoon or two of water so they don’t stick. Press the garlic and add to the leeks. Chop the roasted pepper and add to the pan. Stir around.

Add the tomato paste and miso and use a whisk to break them down and incorporate into the vegetables. Add the white wine, capers and lemon slices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook out the wine, about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken up and smell great.

Season the chickpea flour with salt and pepper. Cube the tofu and coat in chickpea flour. Heat the oil in a separate non stick pan and sauté the tofu until golden.

Tuck the tofu squares into the sauce and toss around gently to coat the tofu. Let them cook together for a few minutes.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Note for chickpeas, make the sauce and mix in a cup of chickpeas at the end just to heat them through. I like that version over rice!

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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Whole. Roasted. Cauliflower!

Can that be any more awesome! This was the centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner this year and is now in the rotation whenever I entertain. For a dramatic presentation, place the cauliflower at the center of the table and carve it up in front of your guests!

I roast it with a simple rub of olive oil and salt and it comes out tender on the inside and beautifully browned on the outside. Serve it with your favorite sauces to go with whatever else you are making. Gravy, tomato sauce, pesto, lemon herb oil. The possibilities are endless!

You can easily roast this on a baking sheet or if you have a cast iron skillet, use that. If you do, be sure you have a silicone sleeve for the handle or remember to use a hot hand when taking it out of the oven.

Another note. This roasts in about an hour at 450. But if you are making other dishes and need your oven at 350, you can roast the cauli for an hour and a half to two hours. Just be sure to time yourself and it will work out!

1 head of cauliflower
Olive oil, about 1/4 cup, or more if necessary
Salt, a few pinches

Peel the leaves off the bottom of the cauliflower and cut the stem up to about the level of the florets at the bottom of the head of cauliflower. Stand it upright on the baking vessel.

Use a pastry brush, or your hands, to cover the entire head of cauliflower with oil. Be generous. Sprinkle it with a few pinches of salt.

Roast in a 450 oven for about an hour or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork.

Slice and serve. Enjoy with your favorite sauces!

Lentil Millet Salad with Fresh Herbs & Pomegranate Seeds

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This is such a pretty holiday season salad/side dish. We had it at Thanksgiving and I plan to make it at Christmas too. Serve it warm or room temperature. Either way, it is refreshing and light and a colorful addition to any holiday table!

Make the millet and lentils ahead of time and refrigerate separately until ready to assemble. Or, if making immediately, let the millet and lentils cool for a few minutes and then assemble and serve warm.

1 cup uncooked French lentils (or whatever lentil you like!)
1 cup uncooked millet
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Big handful of fresh parsley
Big handful of fresh chives
The juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the lentils and millet according to the packages.

Chop the herbs.

Mix the lentils and millet together. Add the pomegranate seeds and herbs. Mix well.

Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding

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I don’t know why I didn’t think of tossing peanut butter into my chocolate avocado pudding sooner?! I mean, who doesn’t like pb and chocolate? I just adjusted my chocolate avo pudding and voila!

1 perfectly ripe avocado
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter (homemade is best)
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup cashew milk * (or other plant milk)
Peanuts and cacao nibs, for garnish

*To make cashew milk, blitz 3/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 raw cashews in the Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak or boil the cashews.

Place all ingredients into the food processor or blender and process until smooth. Serve garnished with chopped peanuts and cacao nibs. Enjoy!

Book Report: Homestyle Vegan + Bonus Recipe

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Amber St. Peter, the founder of FettleVegan.com, recently released her first cookbook. It is full of fun, easy everyday recipes that are perfect for new and experienced vegan cooks alike.

There are 80 recipes, every single one of which has a photo, that range from homey and old style favorites to new and creative ideas. There are no recipes with faux meat (phew!) or tofu (bummer because I’m not against tofu!) but there are recipes for pancakes, oatmeal and granola, vegetable pot pie, chili and stuffing, and crowd pleasers like polenta pizzas, spinach artichoke dip, and quinoa meatball subs! No cookbook would be complete without recipes for cookies, brownies and a few pies.

And my favorite section, “stock your pantry,” which is filled with DIY staples like pizza dough, pesto, pasta sauce, nut milk, and applesauce. If you read my blog regularly, you might even be making these already!

That is why this book is appealing – it is simple. Many of the recipes are veganized versions of regular, everyday food. I like that! And I think you would too!

I got permission from the publisher to reprint a recipe that I kind of can’t believe I didn’t think of myself – Cauliflower Steaks With Pesto + Grilled Onions. Check it out below. I made it for dinner last night with arugula pine nut pesto I had stored in the freezer. Make your own favorite pesto or check out one of my pesto recipes.

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These cauliflower steaks are super easy to make and look fancy to serve at a dinner party. The cauliflower steaks would be great on their own, but the salty pesto and savory grilled onions kick it up a notch for sure. They take an ordinary vegetable and turn it into a mouthwatering main dish. They’ll go quick, so double the recipe for larger groups!

Serves 2

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS
1 large head cauliflower, sliced into 1″ to 1 ½ ” (2.5- to 3.8-cm) thick slices
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

GRILLED ONIONS
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 to 6 tbsp (15 to 90 ml) water, as needed

1/2 cup (260 g) Hemp Seed Basil Pesto (page 170), or store-bought (or your own)
Micro greens or parsley, for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish

To make the cauliflower steaks, preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Place the slices of cauliflower, the “steaks,” on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Bake the cauliflower steaks for 40 to 50 minutes, flipping halfway through. They are done when they are fork-tender but crispy on the outside.

While the cauliflower cooks, prepare the grilled onions. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed to prevent sticking. They should be a deep golden color when finished.

Plate the dish by topping the cauliflower steaks with the grilled onions and pesto. Garnish with micro greens and lemon slices before serving. Enjoy!

Tip
Make the pesto ahead to save time. You can make a batch and use it for a few different recipes!

Black & White Cookies

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This recipe was created by my very good friend, Kim, who happens to be an amazing vegan baker. In fact, when we met we bonded over our vegan blogs. I’ve gotten better at baking over the years, but this woman is a rock star. Often, we come home to beautifully packed baked goods which are out of this world. But these Black and White Cookies, which are THE quintessential New York cookie, are by far our favorite.

And now we can all make them at home. They are way easier than they look and they are really impressive. Trust me, they are better than the original!

Makes 12 mini cookies

1/3 cup rice milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup softened Earth Balance buttery spread
1/2 cup organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Make vegan buttermilk by combining plant milk and lemon juice.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cornstarch together in a big bowl.

Beat the earth balance and sugar with a hand beater for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the vanilla.

Mix in, alternating “buttermilk” and flour mixture at low speed until just combined. End on a flour. With a spatula add 1 tablespoon warm water.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, drop batter onto prepared cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.  Use wet fingers to make sure the bottom of the cookie is a nice round shape.  This cookie will spread and puff a little bit.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges are just browning. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Black and White Glaze

1 1/2 cups organic confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons of water, as needed
1 to 2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder

Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, lemon juice. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to make the icing smooth and the consistency of a thick honey.

Transfer half of the white icing to another bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add water as needed to get the same smooth consistency as the white icing.

When your cookies are cool, frost half with a flat frosting knife, on the FLAT side of the cookie with the white and then the other side with the black. Use your finger to wipe the edges of the cookie if it drips onto the side. Place each frosted cookie onto the cooling rack to set for 30 minutes.

These are best eaten on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for another day or so. Enjoy!

Baked Guacamole Mac ‘n Cheese

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I made this up for Vegan MoFo and it’s so good that I had to share. It was fusion day and so this has my two favorite things – cream cheese and guac. I have to say that I think the best part is the tomato on top – it gets baked and soft and mixes in so nicely with the cheesy guac. I am telling you, I think I outdid myself on this one!

I bake the macaroni and cheese in individual oven safe bowls but you can easily  make this in a small baking dish if you prefer. This recipe makes 2 nice size servings.

Makes 2 bowls

1 cup uncooked macaroni
1/4 cup Kite Hill cream cheese
2 tablespoons cashew milk *
Breadcrumbs, a sprinkle
2 slices of tomato
2 teaspoon olive oil

Guacamole
1 avocado
1/4 red onion, or more
Bunch of cilantro
The juice of 1 lime
Salt, a few pinches

*To make cashew milk, blitz 3/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 raw cashews in the Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak or boil the cashews.

Start the macaronis cooking in a big pot of salted water. Cook until al dente!

Make the guacamole by mashing the avocado and adding the onion, cilantro lime and salt. Taste and adjust.

Add the cream cheese to guacamole and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Drain the macaronis. Add back to the pot and combine with the guacamole mixture.

Portion into individual baking dishes. Pour a tablespoon of cashew milk around the edges of the macaroni bowl. Top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, a slice of tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Bake until the top is golden, about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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Ranch Dressing (or Dip!)

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I love this dressing. It’s herby, fresh and tangy. It can’t be easier to make and it works as a dip for crudités too!

1 container Kite Hill plain yogurt (or other plain vegan yogurt) *
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup tahini (homemade is best!)
1 tablespoon miso
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons chives
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons dill
1 teaspoon mustard
Salt, a pinch

*If you can’t find yogurt or are not into it, you can use cashew milk, increase the tahini and add a touch of vinegar.

Place the yogurt, water, tahini, miso, garlic and mustard in the Vitamix or blender. Let it rip until blended, a few seconds. Pour into a jar that has a lid.

Finely chop the chives, parsley and dill add to the base. Screw the top of the jar on and give it a shake. Store in the jar and use at will. Enjoy!

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Stuffed Cabbage

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Okay, here it is, my mother’s stuffed cabbage – veganized. I’ve been making this for years and it is finally up here on the blog. I followed my mother’s super secret freeze-the-cabbage method so it is easy to peel apart the leaves. And then cooked the stuffed cabbages in a tangy tomato sauce. Everyone loves my version as much as mother’s original, which is a huge compliment. And no animals were harmed in the making of this meal!

Makes a dozen stuffed cabbages

1 regular size white cabbage
1/2 small onion
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 clove of garlic
8 – 10 white mushrooms (depends on the size)
Salt, a pinch
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
The juice of 1 lemon
1 cup golden raisins

Freeze the cabbage at least a day in advance.

When you are ready to make the cabbages, thaw the cabbage in the sink. Gnetly peel off leaf by leaf until you have them all. Cut the very thick stem off the bottom of each leaf. Place on a plate and set aside.

Place the onions, celery, carrot, garlic and mushrooms into the food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is chopped up but not mush.

Add the vegetables to a pan, with a pinch of salt, and water or oil sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Place in a bowl and mix the uncooked rice into the vegetables.

Set up a rolling station:

1. the cabbage leaves
2. the vegetable mixture
3. a plate for rolling
4. a plate for the stuffed cabbages.

Place a cabbage leaf on your rolling plate with the stem side facing you. Place a scoop of the vegetable mixture on the end of the cabbage facing you. Roll the cabbage over the mixture and then fold the sides in and then keep rolling until the little cabbage is sealed. Repeat until done.

Note: if you have any extra cabbage leaves and no more filling, just roll the empty cabbages and use them to test doneness.

Pour a bit of tomato sauce on the bottom of Dutch oven. Place stuffed cabbages on the bottom of the pot. Cover with more sauce and add the rest of the cabbages. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the raisins on top of the cabbages and squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Add any extra cabbage leaves you have into the pot.

Place on a high flame and bring to a boil. Cover, but leave the top a bit open, and cook on a lower flame until the cabbage is tender, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Serve immediately or save for later and reheat if there are any left. If you feel the sauce is too thick, feel free to add some water and swish it around. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Tater Tots

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My son asked for tater tots and I delivered. These could not be easier to make and you will never buy those frozen ones again!

There are no proportions for this recipe because it depends on how big the potatoes are. I like Yukon Golds and I usually make 3 big ones which yields about 18 to 20 tots. Obviously you can do 6 smaller ones or tons more, depending on how many mouths you are feeding.

And there is nothing in these tots but potatoes. It is a two step process and sometimes I will boil the potatoes in the morning and shape the tots and then bake them in the afternoon.

3 Yukon gold potatoes, about the same size
1/2 salt
Sunflower oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or a Silpat liner.

Peel and boil the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain them and let them sit in the colander to cool.

Use a box grater to grate the potatoes onto a board or into a bowl. They will get sticky from the starch so work quickly!

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Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and gently mix the potatoes and salt together for just a few seconds. You don’t want a big sticky ball, just the salt mixed in.

Use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scooper, or your own judgement, and form the usual cylindrical shape that defines tots. There is no right or wrong here.

Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tots with oil, sort of rolling them around to get all sides. Cook for 15 minutes and then flip them over and cook another 15 or so or until they are nice and crispy. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!