Friday, December 31, 2010

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Phyllo Napoleons

It's New Years Eve and that calls for a festive and fun meal.  Especially a festive and fun dessert!  We decided to stay home this year and have dinner and celebrate as a family. Just the four of us, a great meal and time to reflect on the past year as well as welcome in the new one.

Years ago, I made a similar (non vegan) dessert  from an issue of  Bon Appetit magazine. Both  my husband and I liked it a lot. I don't know what got me thinking about it today but I decided to make it again, in a vegan version this time.  It was wonderful and the kids loved it too.

The vegan lemon curd recipe is not totally my own. I found this recipe on the Cookies and Candids website.  I did change it a bit by using So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut milk.  It came out great.

Be warned, this is a bit of work, but well worth it! A great way to welcome in the New Year.

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Phyllo Napoleons

1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups plus 3 tsp organic cane sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
Zest of 3 large lemons
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
6 tbsp So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
6 sheets phyllo dough
2 pints raspberries
Powdered sugar for garnish

Combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp of the lemon zest in a blender. Blend for a few seconds until mixed well.

Pour mixture into a saucepan and add the rest of the lemon zest. Over medium heat whisk mixture constantly until it comes to a full boil.

Stop stirring and let the lemony liquid boil on its own for 1 minute. It will thicken and turn somewhat clear.

Add the So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk and 2 tbsp Earth Balance, and stir in well with the whisk.

Remove from the heat and cool the curd at room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container until fully cooled.

To prepare the phyllo preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of Earth Balance. Cut the phyllo dough into a 10 and a 1/2 inch square.  Cover phyllo with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel.  Brush a baking sheet with some of the Earth Balance. Place one sheet of phyllo on the baking sheet, brush it with the metled Earth Balance and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sugar. Top with second phyllo square. Brush lightly with melted Earth Balance. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Top with third phyllo square. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Make sure that as you are working that you keep the phyllo you are not using covered with plastic wrap and a dampm kitchen towel.  Cut into 9 equal stacked squares. 

With another baking sheet repeat the process of layering and cutting with remaining 3 phyllo sheets, sugar and Earth Balance making total of 18 stacked phyllo squares. Bake at 375 degrees until phyllo is golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool completely.

To assemble, place phyllo square on a plate, top with lemon curd and three raspberries. Top with another phyllo sheet and repeat until yo have three layers of phyllo.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

It really wouldn't be the holidays if a green bean casserole didn't show up on the table at least once.  Since we did not have one on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas this year I figured I couldn't let the holiday season end without one. So, New Years Eve it is!

This is my take on the traditional classic. Instead of canned green beans I used fresh and steamed them. That way the beans are not mushy like canned beans can be. If you want to use canned, by all means, do- that would work too. And, as I did not have any french fried onions I opted for a breadcrumb topping instead.

Green Bean Casserole

12 oz fresh green beans cut into bite size pieces and steamed to desired tenderness
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, melt 1/4 cup of the Earth Balance and add the flour. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, garlic and onion powders. Stir constantly, until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy. Whisk in the vegetable oil and nutritional yeast.

Place the green beans in a bowl and add the gravy. Toss to coat. Put the misture into a small casserole dish.

In a food processor or blender place the breadcrumbs and remaining Earth Balance and pulse until incorporated. Place on top of the green bean mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff

Mr. Meat and Potatoes LOVES beef stroganoff and  although I have not had it in many, many years (more than 30?) I love the smell of it cooking.  Today it was snowy and cold and comfort food seemed like a good idea.  I had a whole bunch of dried porcini mushrooms in the house that I had bought for another recipe, but it turned out I didn't need them. So I decided to be decadent and do a mushroom stroganoff, with the porcinis, that we both could enjoy.

Once this dish begins to simmer the aroma is just wonderful. So much so that we decided we couldn't wait to eat and had a really early dinner tonight.  He really liked it and so did I.  This is pretty easy to make, very flavorful and filling. I served it with some crusty seeded Italian bread. A simple green salad would go well too.

Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pan searing flour (flour seasoned with salt and pepper)
3 tbsp vegan butter
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms stemmed and quartered
8 oz cremini mushrooms sliced
12 oz button mushrooms sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 large Spanish onion minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons dry red wine
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
Freshly chopped parsley to taste
1 lb of your favorite pasta cooked and drained

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl of hot water and allow to steep for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Add pan searing flour and cook for four minutes stirring often.  Add onions, garlic, butter, 1/4 cup red wine, mushrooms and tomato paste. Saute until soft. Add thyme, oregano and bay leaves.  Add the vegetable stock and So Delicious Coconut Milk and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Turn off heat. Add the rest of the red wine, fresh parsley and sour cream.  Serve over pasta.

Be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Banana Bread

This Christmas holiday was particularly special for me. I got to spend lots of time with family, share wonderful meals with those I love most, and watch my kids run around playing with their cousins in a way reminiscent of my youth.  And as if this were not special enough my Mother made Christmas extra special this year by giving me a gift that I cannot find words to express how thankful I am.

I never met my Great Grandmother Catarina but I have heard a lot about her. Clearly, my Mother has much affection for her so imagine how I felt when I opened my Christmas gift from my Mom to find Catarina's mortar and pestle inside!

Today my son decided he wanted to make banana bread. He asked if he could use the mortar and pestle to mash the bananas. Absolutely!

I feel the love in this bread, knowing that the bananas were mashed in an over-a-century old heirloom by my son. The same heirloom that my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother, and now me and my family have used.  I look forward to many years of  cooking with it before I pass it on to one of my own kids and they to theirs.

Banana Bread

1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/2 cup raw organic turbinado sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut)
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the Earth Balance and turbinado sugar.  Stir in the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add in the non dairy milk, bananas and chocolate chips.  Place batter in a loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandma's Meat(less) Sauce

"Taste and smell are wonderful memory aids. Its amazing how you can catch a whiff of something; fresh cut grass, a summer rain, baking, and be taken back years to a childhood, to be placed back in the very scene. You can almost look around and see and smell everything around you in great detail. A simple scent can transport you in full HD back to a time you could not have recalled if you tried."

How true! The quote is from my friends Brian's blog,  One Crabby Vegan.  I think he is right.  For him, it is a cookie called a galette. For me, it is my Grandmother's kitchen at the holidays. Our holidays consisted of big, noisy family gatherings in a brownstone on Union Street in Brooklyn.  Lots of kids running around (I have fifteen cousins!) and the adults perhaps even louder than the kids.  I still remember exactly how her  meat sauce smells and tastes, though I have not had it in probably 30 years. There would be a big pot simmering on the stove and we would all "sneak" some before dinner by dipping  bread into the pot to get a taste. The smell and taste of that sauce will stay with me forever along with the memories of those wonderful family gatherings.

My Grandmother has long since passed but her recipe lives on through my Mother, Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  My cousin Cathy recently decided that she would make a vegan version of the sauce for her daughter Alyssa. Alyssa is largely vegetarian and she wanted her to have a recipe to make and share with her friends.  How lucky for me!

The smell of this sauce simmering in my kitchen yesterday invoked those very memories Brian refers to.  Thank you Cathy for such a wonderful gift!

Grandma's Meat(less) Sauce

1 pound shitake mushrooms minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms minced
3 12 oz cans plain tomato paste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion minced
3 cloves of garlic- chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 qts. organic mushroom broth
4 leaves of fresh basil rough chopped

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil over a low flame. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender and translucent. Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Stir in the tomato paste one can at a time, combining each can with the mushrooms mixture before you add the next, warm through while stirring. Add the mushroom broth slowly, stirring from the bottom of the pot until it is completely combined. Add salt, pepper  and basil. Simmer, stirring every 20 minutes or so for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve over pasta

Max's Apple Crisp

My 12 year old son has taken an interest in cooking. He had a cooking class in school and it seems to have sparked an interest.  I am really happy about that.  He especially likes to cook things he can do "all by himself".  Apparently they made apple crisp in school. Yesterday he asked if he could make it at home. You don't have to ask me twice! He even said he would make a vegan version so Mom could have some too (love that kid). 

Thanks Max for your kindness and your apple crisp.  I am one proud Mom!

Max's Apple Crisp

2 large Honeycrisp apples cored, peeled and cubed
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp organic raw turbinado sugar
6 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the apples in a pie dish in an even layer. In a bowl mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and melted Earth Balance. Stir to incorporate. Spread the mixture on top of the apples. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until the apples are soft and the top crisp. You may want to broil for the last minute or so to depending on how browned you would like the top to be.

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Delicious Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa can't help but remind me of childhood.  On cold winter days after playing in the snow my Mother used to make the best hot cocoa for ny sister and I. Warm, creamy, chocolaty and delicious.  And with the weather as cold as has been in the Northeastern US  I am finding for the first time in years that I am craving hot cocoa just like my Mother made.

I was not much of a milk drinker as a kid and am not a big fan of non dairy milks like soy, rice or hemp.   When I discovered So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk my whole attitude toward milk changed. Though I still don't drink it "straight" it is a pleasure to cook with. as it is nearly flavorless and has a wonderful consistency.

So I thought, what the heck... let me try making some hot cocoa and  see if it doesn't invoke memories of those days playing in the snow as a kid.  I loved it, it definitely took me back to childhood and as an added bonus my kids loved it too!

So Delicious Hot Cocoa

4 tbsp organic raw turbinado sugar*
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Soy whip (optional)

In a sauce pan add the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla and gently stir in milk. Heat over medium heat whisking constantly until hot (do not boil).  Pour into your favorite mug and top with soy whip if desired. Vegan marshmallows would also be lovely in this, but I did not happen to have any in the house.

* adjust sugar as needed to suit the level of sweetness you desire.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poblano Enchilada Casserole

A few weeks ago a childhood friend posted a recipe for an enchilada casserole made with chicken and lots of other non vegan ingredients.  The basic premise of the casserole was quite appealing and immediately I knew I was going to do a vegan version. So after mulling it around in my head for a few days I came up with this recipe.  I believe it maintains the integrity of the original but healthier and totally plant based. This certainly does not lack for flavor and honestly believe that even meat eaters would not miss the chicken in this dish.. Thanks Denise, for getting me thinking and giving me a new 'regular rotation' recipe.

One thing I do feel obligated to mention. When working with jalapeno peppers please be very careful not to touch your eyes before thoroughly washing your hands!

Poblano Enchilada Casserole

6 poblano peppers chopped
2 large jalapeno peppers chopped
1/4 large red onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 tbsp olive oil
8 oz tofu drained and cubed
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
1 lime halved
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp vegan sour cream
12 corn tortillas
1 cup  Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Shreds\
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan saute peppers, onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Squeeze the juice from half the lime into the pepper mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add add tofu. and continue to cook until tofu is warmed through.

In a separate pan melt Earth Balance over low heat. Gradually stir in the non dairy milk and flour whisking until smooth.  Add the sour cream, mushrooms, cilantro and the juice of the other lime half. and cook until sauce is nicely thickened and mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

In a 9x13 pan place six of the corn tortillas (this may vary depending on the size of the tortillas you use; there should be a single layer of tortillas).  Cover with half of the pepper and tofu mixture. Layer with half cup each of the mozzarella and cheddar shreds. Place the rest of the tortillas on top of the 'cheese'. Add the rest of the pepper and tofu mixture on top of the second tortilla layer and pour the mushroom sauce over the top. Finish with the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar shreds.

Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce bubbly.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Dijon Sauce

I love Brussels sprouts. Fortunately, my daughter does too. Unfortunately, she will only eat them steamed. So it takes a night like tonight where my husband and daughter are out on a father/daughter date night and my son is too wrapped up in his saxophone to bother with me for me to get to enjoy Brussels sprouts the way I like! Tonight I roasted them and they were absolutely divine.  And, given all the recent conversation on Twitter (mostly by my new friend (@CrabbyVegan)  about Brussels sprouts I felt obligated to post the recipe!

Simple and easy though you need to allow time for very slow cooking of the onions and of course, you cannot rush a roasted Brussels sprout!

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Dijon Sauce

Brussels Sprouts (I used exactly 13)
1/2 large Spanish onion sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove stems and outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and cut in half.  Place on a cookie sheet or foil and drizzle lightly with  olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast 30  minutes or until nicely browned and tender.

In a saute pan heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium. Add onions and turn heat to low.  Allow onions to slowly cook  until nicely caramelized. Don't rush this- it takes a while. In a separate pan heat the Earth Balance, Dijon, agave and balsamic vinegar. As Earth Balance melts whisk to incorporate.

When the sprouts are finished place some caramelized onions on a dish, top with Brussels sprouts and drizzle the Dijon Balsamic sauce.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetable Barley Soup

Lately it has been really cold in the Northeastern United States. I ride the train and out of the city everyday to work and sometimes the wait on the cold platform combined with a long train ride (often with little heat) can leave you chilled to the bone! Tonight I came home from one of those dreaded cold commutes and all I could think about when I walked in the door was of warm, hearty soup.

I barely had myself in the house before I was in the fridge looking for whatever vegetables we had on hand.  Luckily, we had some good stuff including leeks and Swiss chard; two of my favorite things (which I ironically do not eat that often).  So we had the beginnings of  yummy cold weather soup!

Wow! This really hit the spot and thankfully I am no longer chilled to the bone. It is filling and nutritious and this recipe makes enough to easily serve four with lots of leftovers.  I froze some for another day and have a good amount in the refrigerator, too. Looks like I don't have to worry about what is for lunch tomorrow!

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 carrot chopped
2 leeks cleaned and sliced into thin rounds
1 red pepper chopped
1 rib celery sliced or chopped
Chiffonade of several Swiss chard leaves (stems removed)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups medium pearled barley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium and add all vegetables except the Swiss chard. Sweat the vegetables until they turn a very bright color.  Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, thyme and barley. Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and cook for 30 minutes.  Add Swiss chard and continue to cook another 30 minutes or until the barley is tender.

Serve with some  toasted crusty bread. I was lucky enough to have some of the good stuff on hand- you know, the authentic Italian bread from Brooklyn.. It really doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

When we were on our honeymoon Mr.Meat and Potatoes and I spent a couple of days in England.  He ate Shepherd's Pie while we were there (a couple of times) and I remember that he liked it.  Why wouldn't he? It is right up his alley-- after all it is meat and potatoes!  I thought I would give a vegan version of this classic British dish a try. Good news- he calls it a winner and so do I.

This would be a great recipe to improvise with whatever veggies you may have in the house; especially those that have seen better days.  Below is my recipe - please let me know if you try it and also how you change it up!

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp vegan sour cream such as Tofutti
4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
1/2 large Spanish onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used criminis)
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
14 oz faux ground beef ( I used Gimme Lean Beef Style)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to broil. 

In a large pot boil the water and cook the potatoes until fork tender. Drain and place in a bowl with the 2 tbsp vegan sour cream, 2 tbsp of the Earth Balance and 1/4 cup non dairy milk. Mash the potatoes until almost smooth.  Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil, faux ground beef, carrot, onion, pepper, garlic and onion. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until vegetables are starting to soften and "meat" is browned. In a smaller skillet heat the rest of the Earth Balance (2 tbsp) with the flour for about two minutes. Add the vegetable stock and stir until smooth and thickened.  Add the 2 teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce and stir until incorporated.  Stir into the "meat" and veggie mixture.

In a 8 or 9 inch pie plate (or other similar sized vessel) spread the "meat" mixture evenly.Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. 

Place in the broiler until browned on top.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.