Saturday, March 14, 2015

Avocotta Lasagna Rolls

I swear I woke up in the middle of the night recently and thought "Avocatta".  The next day I went online to see if there was any semblance of such a thing but did not find much.  As I thought more about what this concoction could be I started to visualize a lasagna roll up but instead of the traditional ricotta to fill in with avocado.



Success!  These were really easy to throw together, were really flavorful and were also very filling. I am not sure why there are not more recipes out there that substitute avocado for ricotta. Maybe because avocado is often associated with Mexican cuisine and lasagna with Italian.  I don't know, but I am glad I decided to try this as it was very tasty. I love the creaminess of the avocado blended with more traditional Italian flavors.



If you like avocado and you like Italian I think you will find this a winning combination. I think there is a lot of opportunity to change what you add into the mix.  Already I am thinking roasted red peppers would make a good add.

This made five rolls for me. If you want to make more just adjust the amount of filling you use in each or increase the amount of filling you make.  As for the vegan Parm, I provided a link to another recipe that has the directions contained within.

Avocatta Lasagna Rolls

5 lasagna noodles cooked according to package directions
2 ripe avocados, pitted
2 tbsp vegan Parmesan
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil (if using fresh increase the amount)
1/3 cup chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
6 grape tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup or more marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the filling by combining the avocado, vegan Parmesan, garlic powder, basil, spinach, parsley, tomatoes and salt and pepper. Mash until well combined but not totally smooth.

Prepare a baking dish by covering the bottom with some of the marinara sauce.

Lay one lasagna noodle on a flat surface and spread some of the mixture on its entire length. Roll the noodle into a cylinder and place it upright in the dish prepared with the marinara. Repeat with all remaining noodles.



Cover loosely with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.  Drizzle with extra marinara and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.  I also sprinkled some leftover breadcrumb gremolata on them. It was a nice touch but nt necessary.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fettuccine with Lemon "Butter", Capers and Breadcrumb Gremolata

There are few things I love more than cooking and one of them is cooking with my daughter.  She has been after me to make pasta from scratch for a while now.  I had purchased a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer a while back and it has yet to see any action. Until yesterday, that is.



She and I had a good time making the pasta and an even better time eating it. I pulled this dish together from a variety of recipes I found online. The pasta is Vegan Dad's and the Breadcrumb Gremolata I used The Wimpy Vegetarian's recipe and modified it with some homemade vegan "Parmesan" a la The Minimalist Baker and some extra lemon zest. I did not have very high expectations for the Parm and thus I was very pleasantly surprised- it was great even just on its own! Thankfully the recipe makes a bunch so I have some leftover for other uses.

This takes a little bit of time and effort and is well worth it as it is a flavorful, hearty and satisfying dish.  I love lemon in just about anything and the lemon really shines through in this dish. If you don't have the wear with all to tackle homemade pasta then by all means use the stuff that comes in a box!



I will make this again and again, it's that good.

Fettuccine with Lemon "Butter",  Capers and Breadcrumb Gremolata

For the pasta:
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup water

For the Gremolata:
1 cup breadcrumbs (I made my own from day old whole grain ciabatta bread)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan cheese (recipe below)
2 tbsp minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Lemon "Butter" Sauce:
2 tbsp vegan butter (or more to taste)
1/3 cup white wine
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp capers
Salt and Pepper to taste

Vegan Parmesan Cheese:
3/4 cup raw cashews
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder


Prepare the pasta by combining all ingredients in a food processor until a dough is formed. If the dough seems dry add more water a tablespoon at a time. The dough should hold together well and not be overly sticky or wet.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, no more than about five minutes.  Put through your pasta machine according to its directions and set the pasta on a lightly floured surface or over a cabinet door to dry. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes.

While pasta is drying make the vegan Parmesan by putting all ingredients into a food processor until a fine powder develops.  Set aside.

To prepare the gremolata heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.  Add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and saute until the breadcrumbs begin to crisp up.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and vegan parmesan cheese.  Transfer to another container to cool.

Heat 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil to cook the pasta.

While the water is heating prepare the lemon "butter" sauce by adding the two tablespoons of vegan butter to a skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the lemon juice, wine and flour.  Whisk until sauce begins to thicken and add salt and pepper to taste. Note: you may adjust the wine/lemon/butter quantities to suit your personal taste.

Once the water is boiling add the pasta and  cook for 1-2 minutes until it reaches desired doneness. Drain and add to the lemon "butter" sauce and add capers. Toss to coat.

To serve top pasta with the gremolata and additional lemon zest and parsley if desired.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade

I was recently in Atlanta for a few days for meetings.  When in Atlanta we often order lunch from a place called Fresh to Order.  They have some decidedly friendly vegan options in which includes a Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade that is absolutely wonderful.

Because we were a decent sized lunch order we ordered a gallon of the stuff. I am not ashamed to admit that between me and one other woman at the meeting we drank almost the whole gallon.  The flavor is sophisticated, delicious, unique and somewhat addictive.

This, and the Corn and Peanut Salad pictured below (which I hope to recreate soon) are definitely the reason I will be planning my next business meeting in Atlanta!



If you like lemonade, vanilla, and anise flavors I would strongly encourage you to give this a try. I will make it again and again.



Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade

For the simple syrup:
1 cup vegan granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 large pieces of lemon peel (best removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 vanilla bean
3 star anise pods
1 pinch sea salt
Cheese cloth or a fine strainer to strain syrup

For the lemonade:
Juice of 6-8 lemons, strained to remove pulp
Simple syrup (recipe above)
8-10 cups cold water
Lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Split the vanilla bean down the center and remove the seeds with a sharp knife. In a medium saucepan add the sugar, lemon peel, 1 cup of water, salt,  star anise pods and the vanilla seeds and bean pod. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Once the sugar is completely dissolved simmer  for a bout 5-10 minutes in order to bring out the flavors of the lemon, vanilla and star anise.

Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth and set aside to cool.

Once the simple syrup has cooled add it to a large pitcher and then pour in the strained lemon juice. Add 8-10 cups cold water (water may be adjusted to factor in more or less sweet/tart lemonade).

Serve over ice garnished with lemon slices if desired.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Vanilla Cake

My daughter started seventh grade this year.  One of the things I just love about her is that she enthusiastically brings home things she has learned at school and wants to try them out at home or demonstrate her learning for us.



She just had her first rotation in FCS, or Family Consumer Sciences (formerly known as Home Economics). Her first track was cooking and a couple of weeks ago she arrived home from school with some dairy free, egg free vanilla cake the class had made. I tasted it and it was great!

A few daysafter that she came home with the recipe book for all of the things she had made at school and was very excited to make the cake for us.

She did all the measuring and mixing herself and she did a great job. The result was a very moist vanilla cake.  We used a store-bought vegan vanilla frosting and it was delicious vegan vanilla heaven!

Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Vanilla Cake

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cold water
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl put flour, sugar, baking soda, sal, oil, white vinegar, vanilla and cold water. Mix until moistened, and put in an 8x8 baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil.

Bake at 350 degress for 22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completlly before icing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Miso Glazed Carrots

Isn't it funny how your tastes change over the years? I have always liked snacking on carrots, putting them in salad or dipping them in peanut butter. But, I did not liked them cooked.  No way, now how. I especially avoided glazed carrots. Something about brown sugar and carrots had always sounded kind of gross to me.  Well, that has all changed.



All of the sudden, a few weeks ago, I started craving cooked carrots. I have no idea what that is all about but I am glad it happened.  The first time I cooked them I did tahini roasted carrots. I really enjoyed them. So, I figured I would brave the realm of glazed carrots and see how that went. I adapted a recipe I found on the Earth Balance website and, I am pleased to say, it went quite well! Not your traditional glazed carrot but delicious nonetheless.



I will make these again and I cannot believe I am saying this but might up the amount of brown sugar next time.

I can't wait to try some other cooked carrot recipes. I never thaought I would hear those words come out of my mouth!

Miso Glazed Carrots

1 bunch of small carrots (the bunch I used consisted of 8)
1 tbsp vegan butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp miso (I used red)
1 tsp tamari sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Into the melted butter mix the brown sugar, miso, tamari sauce and ground ginger until smooth.  Toss the carrots in the glaze and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until they reach the desired tenderness.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lemon Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

I often cook on Saturday mornings. Now that my kids are older and are not up at the crack of dawn mornings are usually a nice quiet time where I can spend a little time in the kitchen. I often cook things that are needed to be used up before grocery shopping, as was the case this morning with a head of cauliflower.



I did a quick Internet search for "tahini cauliflower" and I found a recipe that looked good. I changed it a bit as I am a huge fan of lemon and most often find recipes never add enough lemon as printed!  I am also a huge fan of savory breakfasts, so as it turns out this was breakfast today, too.

The sauce is delicious with a bright lemony flavor offset by the deep flavor of sesame.  This would make a great side for dinner or a nice lunch, too.

Lemon Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower cut into florets
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tahini paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt plus more for salting cauliflower before roasting
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 435 degrees.

Place the florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat.  Season with salt and place on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown.

While the cauliflower is roasting put the rest of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic.  Sautee for a minute or two until the garlic turns fragrant.  Add the tahini, lemon and water and whisk until as smooth sauce forms.  You may thin the sauce as desired with more lemon juice or water until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt.

Toast sesame seeds in a nonstick pan over medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant.

When the cauliflower is finished remove from the oven, transfer to a plate and pour the sauce over top. Garnish with parsley and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Fondue

Fondue is such a fun thing to eat.  I always loved the ritual of sitting around a fondue pot dipping crusty bread into gooey wine infused cheese.  So simple and delicious and a great way to eat a relaxed social meal. I remember fondue being a big thing back in the 1970's. Always a fun time.



Recently, while on Pinterest I ran across a recipe for a potato based vegan fondue.  The ingredients were so simple... could it be good?  The reviews on the page were mixed, but I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe closely but added a splash of kirsch at the end. I always remember that being the "extra special" ingredient that really "made" the fondue.



The result of this fondue is surprisingly close to the real thing as verified by my husband who eventually told me he had to walk away from the fondue pot lest he'd eat the whole thing.

This was good enough that I am thinking about hosting an all out 1970's style fondue party.  Who's in?

Fondue

11 fingerling potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small cooking onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tsp salt
1 cup dry white wine (divided)
Splash kirsch (cherry liquor)
Grating of nutmeg
Cubes of crusty bread (for dipping)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about ten minutes. Drain and set aside.

In the pot the potatoes were boiled in add the olive oil to a skillet over low heat and add the onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until onions are translucent and tender.  Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes or so.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 cup of water and stir to make a slurry. Add to the onion mixture and increase the heat to medium. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes and then remove from the heat and add the potatoes, salt, and half the wine.  Return to the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the mixture.  If the mixture is not entirely smooth transfer to a high-powered blender (I used a Vitamix).

Return to the pot, add the other half of the wine and a splash of the kirsch. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm with Sterno. Grate a small amount of nutmeg over the top of the fondue and serve with crusty bread chunks for dipping.

Note: the original recipe called for nutritional yeast which I had intended to add but simply forgot. I do not think the recipe needs it but if you decide to use it, add 2 Tbsp after simmering the onions. Stir and simmer a few minutes longer.