Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crab-less Cakes

Recently a friend who lives in Maryland asked me if I had a vegan version of crab cakes. While I did not, I told her to give me a little while to think on it, to test some ideas but that I would figure out a recipe for her.  This was one of those lucky instances where my first attempt was dead on!  These are good! Really good!  My meat and potatoes husband took a bite of one, then another bite, then yet another bite and next thing you know... one less crab-less cake on the plate!  Not surprising as these have a wonderful crispy outside and creamy inside.

Thanks Danielle for suggesting this.  I hope you try and enjoy them. I enjoyed both making and eating them! Iam all about sharing the love so keep the requests coming!

Crab-less Cakes

2 16 oz cans chick peas drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can canellinibeans drained and rinsed
2 ribs celery chopped fine
1 carrot chopped fine
3 green onions chopped fine
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped fine
1 8 oz can chopped water chestnuts drained and rinsed
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)
1/2 cup parsley
1 tbsp vegan sour cream
2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
2 tbsp chick pea flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp olive oil
Cocktail sauce for serving

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the celery, carrot and onion.  Saute until soft, about five minutes. Add the roasted red pepper and allow to cook another minute or so. Turn off the heat and put aside.

Put the drained chick peas and cannellini beans in a food processor. Pulse until they are no longer whole but not completely smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl  Add the sauteed vegetable mixture to the bean mixture and stir to incorporate.  Add the water chestnuts, Worcestershire, Old Bay, Vegenaise, sour cream, bread crumb, flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, chic pea flour and cayenne.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for at least an hour.  This is important as you will want the cakes to stay together when you cook them.

Once the mixture has cooled for at least an hour remove from the refrigerator and shape into patties.  You should end up with about twelve cakes.  Heat the rest of the olive oil in a saute pan and place cakes in oil.  Pan fry on either side for about five minutes.  Be careful when flipping the cakes as they are very delicate.  When they are heated through and golden brown on each side transfer to a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Serve with cocktail sauce.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Savory Beet Petit Fours with Roasted Pepper Sauce and Asparagus Salad

I had a really hard time naming this dish. My original intention was to make this like ravioli but I was unable to slice the beets thinly as I would have liked so they came out a little more like small beet sandwiches. I hesitate to call them sandwiches though as if you ate them with your fingers I anticipate you would have very red hands! Plus petit fours sounds so fancy and well, this is kind of a fancy dish!

Regardless of what the dish is called it is utterly delicious. The raw beet is such a lovely flavor and the cashew nut cheese filling would pass for the finest cheese in any cheese shop. I will warn you though, it is a bit messy-my kitchen was bathed in a hue of red when I finished so clean up was a bit longer than usual! 

I hope that you try this and I would love to hear about your results.  And, if you have a better name for this dish I would love to hear your ideas!

Savory Beet Petit Fours with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

2 large beets, sliced with a mandolin to 1/16th inch thick
2 to 3 asparagus stalks sliced with a vegetable peeler (recipe is for a single serving)

For the filling:
1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Pinch of sea salt
1 green onion minced
1 tbsp minced tarragon
1 tbsp minced parsley

For the Roasted Pepper Sauce
1 roasted red pepper
1//2 tbsp lemon juice
1 green onion, white part only
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts

For the salad dressing
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
Pinch of black sea salt

First make the filling by placing cashews, lemon juice and zest, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor until smooth.  Fold in onion, tarragon and parsley. Set aside.

To make the roasted pepper sauce place the roasted pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, onion, pine nuts and salt into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside. 

Prepare the salad by combining asparagus with the olive oil, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar and black sea salt.  Mix to coat.

Cut roasted beet slices into uniform squares.  To assemble the dish place one teaspoon of the cashew nut filling on a beet slice and cover with another slice.  Place on a plate with the asparagus salad and roasted red pepper sauce.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bertha's Biscuits

As you may know I have an English Bulldog named Bertha.  She is such a joy and an important part of our family.  And yes, she is named after the Grateful Dead's song "Bertha".  However, contrary to the lyrics of that song, she can come around here any time!

To level set, Bertha is not vegan. However, Bertha struggles sometimes with doggy breath that is less than desirable.  I started looking around for some biscuit recipes that would help "bust" her sometimes bad breath.  Since parsley seems to help with this I looked for recipes that either had parsley in them or could easily have parsley added.  I ended up with a recipe I found on the Organic Pet Digest.  While I am not sure yet if her breath is any better she clearly loves these biscuits.  Mind you, this is not a stretch as Bertha eats anything put in front of her!

Bertha's Biscuits

3 cups minced parsley
1/4 cup carrots, chopped very fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I used organic) 
2 tablespoons bran ( I used unprocessed wheat bran)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet (or two depending on size) with olive oil cooking spray.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another smaller bowl mix parsley, carrots and oil. Add the veggie mix to the dry ingredients.  Gradually add water, mixing well. The batter should be moist but not wet. If needed, add  more water. Knead for one minute.

Roll dough  on a floured surface to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (I used a dog biscuit shape) to cut out the biscuits. Place them on the greased baking sheet. Gather scraps, re-roll and cut until all the batter has been used.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until biscuits have browned and hardened slightly. (They will harden more as they cool.) Transfer biscuits to a wire rack. Once cooled store in airtight tin.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nachos Supreme

It's football Sunday and as is usually the case my husband is tied up in front of the TV all day rooting on his team, managing his fantasy football league and being a typical male football junkie.  In an effort to make dinner that is in line with football Sunday food I decided to try a vegan version of nachos complete with "cheese" sauce.  He devoured it so I have to assume it was good even to a meat and potatoes sorta guy.

And, in classic form, I was unable to follow my own recipe (man, I am bad at following directions). So, the cheese sauce is slightly altered from what I had expected but the result is unexpectedly good (and a lot healthier, too). I used the same cheese sauce recipe as I used for my "More Mac and Cheese" recipe a few posts back but I inadvertently left out the 2/3 cup of Earth Balance Buttery spread.  The result was still excellent.  I wrote the recipe below to include it as an optional ingredient, but honestly, I did not even miss it!

I served this with some home made guacamole and I must say it was a perfect football Sunday snack/meal.

Nachos Supreme

For the nachos:
1/2 package of your favorite tortilla chips
1 can Hormel vegetarian chili with beans
1 cup water
2/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread (optional)
1 cup red bliss potatoes peeled and cubed
1/4 cup carrots peeled and chopped
2 tbsp shallot, chopped
1/3 cup red onion peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
black pepper and cayenne to taste
Vegan sour cream

For the guacamole
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup fresh salsa (I used store bought)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
salt to taste

To make the nachos:
To make the cheese sauce add one cup of water, the potatoes, shallots, onion carrots to a pot.  Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes until vegetables are very soft.  Add vegetable mixture including the water to a food processor along with the Earth Balance (if you want to use it), cashews, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne. Pulse until very smooth.

On an oven safe plate arrange about a half package of tortilla chips and cover with the can of vegetarian chili and cheese sauce (I used about 3/4 of the mixture). Place into a 350 degree oven and heat for 10-15 minutes until heated through.  Top with some fresh salsa and your favorite vegan sour cream. Serve with guacamole for dipping.

To make the guacamole
Cut the avocados and place the flesh in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash with a fork to desired texture. I like mine a bit on the chunky side.

Righteous Tomato Pie

I feel so very blessed to have reconnected with Fred, a close friend from high school.  I always marvel at how you can not see someone at all for twenty plus years and then when you do it is as if  no time has passed at all. I suppose that is the definition of true friendship.

Having reconnected with Fred has been wonderful and has brought with it the perk of  getting to know a great bunch of guys who collectively make up the band SpiTune. This includes Mike, the bass player and fellow foodie/ blogger. Though not vegan I admire his talent and technique in the kitchen.  Mike recently posted a recipe for a tomato pie that looked great. Too great, in fact, not to come up with a vegan version. So, here is my spin on his pie.  Perhaps the next time I see Mike he can taste test it and see what he thinks. My gut tells me he will love it. After all, good food is good food!'

Thanks Mike for the inspiration!

Righteous Tomato Pie

For the crust (enough for two crusts)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup very cold water
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I used Earth Balance)

For the filling:
7 small to medium size vine ripe tomatoes
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)
3/4 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds
3/4 cup Daiya cheddar shreds
1/4 cup green onions, chopped, tops only
1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Chiffonade of basil, about 20 leaves
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp paprika

First make the crust by mixing the flour and salt together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix 1/3 cup of the flour and salt mixture and mix it with the cold water to form a  paste. Set aside.  With a pastry cutter or fork add the vegetable shortening to the rest of the flour mixture until the texture is like pebbles. Add the paste to the flour and shortening mixture until it can be shaped into a ball. Divide the ball in two.

Lightly flour your rolling surface. Roll the crust by the center out, lifting the roller at the end of the dough (as opposed to rolling back and forth). Roll to about an 1/8-inch thickness.  Set crust aside for later.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato and blanch them in boiling water for a minute or so (until the skin begins to peel). Remove from the water and run cold water over them. When cool enough to touch peel the skin from the tomatoes and slice them,  Place them on a rack, sprinkle the slices with salt and allow them to drain.

While the tomatoes are draining mix the mayonnaise, cheese and green onion, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Place  the pie crust in a pie pan (I used a nine inch deep dish style)  and trim. Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 1 tbsp of the nutritional yeast. Remove the tomatoes from the rack and dry them with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Rough chop and place in the pie pan.  Cover with the mayonnaise and cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast and the paprika on the top. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes until crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Mac and Cheeze

I have finally found it! The perfect mac and cheese replacement!

As some of you may know, my son has an intolerance to cheese and I have been on a quest to find a perfect mac and cheese substitute that we both can enjoy.

EUREKA!! This is it!

The creaminess of this cheese sauce is exactly the same texture as traditional mac and cheese and the flavor is right on. My son devoured it and said it got an A+. I have to agree with him.

I cannot take credit for the genius behind this recipe. I found this through VegNews and after reading all the rave reviews decided I had to try it. This did not disappoint! I did make a few slight alterations, nothing substantial. I also altered the name to "More" Mac and "Cheeze" because certainly everyone will be asking for seconds.

More Mac and Cheeze

4 quarts water plus 1 cup
2 tsp sea salt
8 oz macaroni (any shape you like)
1/4 loaf of seeded, crusty Italian bread, cubed and toasted
2 tbsp plus 1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 cup red bliss potatoes peeled and cubed
1/4 cup carrots peeled and chopped
2 tbsp shallot, chopped
1/3 cup red onion peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
black pepper and cayenne to taste
1/4 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tsp of sea salt to a boil and add macaroni, cooking until slightly underdone (al dente). Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside. In a food processor make breadcrumbs by adding bread and 2 tbsp Earth Balance. Pulse until they are a medium fine texture. Set aside.

In a sauce pan add 1 cup of water, potatoes, carrots, onion, shallot and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. In a food processor process the cashews, vegetables with their cooking water, the rest of the salt, garlic, Dijon mustard, cayenne , lemon juice, the other 1/3 cup Earth Balance and pepper until very smooth.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta and blended sauce until well coated. Spread mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish and spread prepared breadcrumbs on top. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350 for 30 minutes until top is golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbly.

Enjoy! This is a wonderful dish!

Creamy Potato Salad

I recently had a party at my house where a couple of people brought potato salad. It looked good, but were loaded with mayonnaise or sour cream and one even had bacon mixed in it.

This got me thinking about (and craving) potato salad, something I have not had in a long time. So, here we are a week later and I have made my own vegan version of potato salad that is outstanding. The next barbecue or summer get together at my house I am going to make and serve this version and I am quite sure no one will guess or care that it is vegan as it is as good as any potato salad I have ever had.
Creamy Potato Salad

1 pound red bliss potatoes cubed
1/4 cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup vegan sour cream such as Tofutti
1 small red onion finely chopped
3 ribs celery finely chopped
Dill, chopped, to taste (I used about a 1/4 cup)
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot bring water to a boil and add potatoes. Boil potatoes until tender. Once tender drain the potatoes in a a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to cool. To make the dressing, mix the Vegenaise, sour cream, red onion, dill, celery, cayenne and salt and pepper in a large bowl until incorporated. Once potatoes have cooled add them to the dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate before serving.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bread Salad

Two of my favorite things in the world- crusty, seeded Italian bread from Caputo's bakery in Brooklyn, NY and tomatoes right off the vine in my own garden. Today, I am lucky enought to have some of each in my kitchen!

As summer winds down I always lament the last tomato and I think I may have picked it today. Thankfully I was able to enjoy it in this fantastic bread salad. Many thanks to my cousin Brian, who brought me the world's best bread, bar none, from Caputo's Bakery (and the fond childhood memories that go along with it). If you cannot get to Brooklyn to get your bread, don't worry as any good crusty Italian bread will do.

This super simple recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser. After all, there is nothing better than dipping that crustily bread in the leftover juices from a good tomato salad. And with this, no dipping required, the bread is in there to soak up all the tomato goodness!

Bread Salad

1/2 loaf of crusty Italian bread cubed (day old bread works well)
1/2 red onion sliced thin
4 large tomatoes cut into bite size wedges
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4-1/2 cup chiffonade of basil
Salt and pepper to taste (I used black sea salt)

Turn on oven broiler. Place cubed bread on baking sheet and place in broiler, turning halfway through until browned (about five minutes). Remove bread and allow to cool.

While bread is cooling place all other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add bread and mix with your hands. Serve immediately.

Note- this would be excellent with some white cannellini beans. I didn't have any on hand. Next time.