Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Drunken" Rum Balls

Just wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays!  My husband and I will be heading down to San Diego for a week and we're looking forward to warmer weather and spending time at the beach.  I'll be back in the New Year with really healthy and nutritious recipes that will definitely help shed all the unwanted excess from the past two months!  Until then, I wish you and yours a safe and wonderful holiday, wherever your travels take you.


The reason why I call these rum balls "drunken" is because if you were to eat more than one and drive and a police officer pulled you over--you would probably fail a breathalyzer.  So not advisable.  

Rum balls are usually made with finely ground vanilla wafers, but I made a small batch of vegan snickerdoodle cookies and used them for the base.  Other ingredients that I used were the usual...dark rum, toasted pecans, unsweetened cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, agave syrup (instead of corn syrup) and vanilla extract.  To garnish I rolled them in finely ground pistachios, powdered sugar and cocoa powder--but they are also good dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with toasted coconut!    

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mexican Pozole Soup

As you can see I'm still on my soup kick.  Soup is perfect for December when you're really busy running around shopping and it's cold outside.  And it has been really chilly in the Bay Area this past week.  It's also inexpensive and nutritious.  I was going to make udon soup but hubby wanted pozole.  I've never been a big fan of pozole because I don't like hominy--it's a texture thing for me.  But this soup has so many other textures with the addition of pinto beans and the cabbage salad that I don't mind the hominy.  Also, I love the flavor and color of this soup from the dried chilies--really looks festive with the brick red broth and bright green salad. 


Ingredients: 

6-8 dried New Mexico Red chilies, depending on size, stemmed, seeded, soaked
2 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded, soaked
1 dried Chipotle chili, optional, stemmed, seeded soaked
3 cups filtered water
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion diced small
1 green pepper, seeded, diced small
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, or more depending on consistency
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp Mexican dried oregano
3/4 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight, cooked until tender, or 1 14oz can rinsed
1 28 oz can white hominy, drained
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Tapatio Hot Sauce, optional

Method:
  • Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add dried chilies, cover and soak for 30 minutes until tender.
  • Place chilies and liquid in blender and blend on high until smooth.  If you don't have a high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, you may need to strain the mixture.
  • Add diced tomatoes, and blend on high again.  Set aside.
  • In a dutch oven or stock pot, add olive oil and saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until onions are soft.
  • Add green peppers, spices, chili/tomato sauce, vegetable stock and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes for flavors to combine.
  • Add pinto beans and hominy and cook until heated through for about 5-10 more minutes.  Reason with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with cabbage/radish salad.
Cabbage & Radish Salad:

1 1/2 cups thinly shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup thinly sliced red radish
1/2 avocado, finely diced
1-2 tbsp finely minced jalapeno
2 tbsp fresh mint, cilantro or parsley
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste



Monday, December 12, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Pepper & Onion Sub

When my sister and I were growing up my father was the maintenance contractor for an apartment complex about a mile from where we lived.  Since our apartment complex did not have its own pool my sister and I were given permission to swim at the other complex during the summer.  I remember that we would be the first kids to arrive at 10:00am when the lifeguards unlocked the gates and the last to leave at 7:00pm when they closed.  Needless to say that sometime around 2:00pmish we would be starved and so we would walk another mile to an Italian sub shop in Irvington, Baltimore.


They had the best subs/hoagies (whatever you want to call them) that I've ever tasted in my life.  Now I've never been a big fan of eating meat and so I would order mine with just grilled peppers, onions, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and their "SECRET" sauce.  The sauce totally made the sub--and I would of been happy just eating the sauce alone.  I don't know what ingredients they used but I think that I'm pretty close with this recipe.  Funny how certain memories remain with you your entire life...really good memories that I shared with my sister!

My Secret Sauce:

1 cup Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
1/4 cup organic ketchup
1/4 cup Louisiana Hot Sauce (more or less to taste)
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup minced dill pickle
1/4 cup minced pickled jalapeno or hot cherry peppers (more or less to taste)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Method:
  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and chill until ready to use.

 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Moroccan Marinated Tofu with Fruity Couscous

I love North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.  The combination of flavors are amazing, especially when you mix several regions together to create a dish that is spicy, sweet, and tangy.  I know from my photo it's hard to see, but the tofu has been marinated and then threaded on wooden skewers, pan seared and then served over the couscous.  The plate I used has a lot of detail and makes it hard to see the food, but I love my Moroccan plates and use them whenever I can!
 

To marinate the tofu, I used extra firm tofu and pressed it for about an hour to remove any excess moisture.  I then made a marinade using ground cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, pimenton, saffron, fresh garlic, chopped marcona almonds, minced preserved lemons, sliced green olives, lemon juice, olive oil, vegetable stock and salt and pepper.  I then marinated the tofu for about an hour and then threaded it on skewers alternating it with sliced olives and then pan seared it until golden brown.

 
For the whole wheat couscous I used toasted pistachios, currants, ground sumac, fresh mint, fresh parsley, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  I then made a sauce with the reserved marinade, adding additional vegetable stock to thin it and simmered it for a few minutes until the garlic was tender.  I then poured the sauce over the tofu, and garnished with additional mint....Just delicious!



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Apple & Maple Tempeh Breakfast Patties

Frustrating...I woke up early and decided to make a nice weekend breakfast.  I have never made Apple & Maple Tempeh Breakfast Patties before and so I was measuring and writing down the recipe so that I could post it this evening.  Well, I had a bag of whole grain spelt four (for the pancakes) and a bag of vital wheat gluten (for the breakfast patties) right next to each other on the counter and I kind of lost track how much gluten I added to the patties.  I think that I added a cup, but I could of added some spelt by mistake.  Anyway, the patties had great flavor and texture, but I need to make them again next weekend before I post the recipe.  In the meantime if you're interested in making the whole grain pancakes, here's the recipe.  



Friday, December 2, 2011

Butternut Orecchiette Pasta with Sage Cream

Cashew cream...I love this stuff...all the pleasure of eating a creamy sauce without any guilt.  When we would serve cream-based pasta dishes at the restaurant I would dread having to continually taste the sauce because I knew that it was bad for me, but not with cashew cream.  This doesn't mean that you should consume it every day because it may contribute to a few pounds, but at least it won't cause high cholesterol and artery clogging heart disease.  Best thing about it though, you really can't tell the difference in terms of consistency and it actually tastes way better.  Another thing--to this day I still can't spell orecchiette--I always need to look it up in google!...:-)


You can use any pasta you like, but I prefer orecchiette (little ears in Italian) because the sauce pools within the pasta and you get a little sauce with every bite.  For an extra health benefit look for a whole wheat/grain version.  Also, you can use any type of squash that holds up well to roasting.

Ingredients:
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, diced into 1" pieces (yields 4-6 cups depending on size--mine yielded 4 cups)
1 large leek, white and light parts only, diced, washed
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
2 tbsp minced fresh sage
1/2 cup white wine, or brandy (brandy and sage/cream is a match made in heaven, but I didn't have any and so I used Pinot Grigio)
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (I used Whole Foods 360 Brand), plus more for thinning if necessary
1 1/2 cups cashew cream (see below)
1 cup organic baby arugula or wild rocket
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
12 small-medium fried sage leaves (see below)
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and toss squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes (tossing once) until tender and golden brown.  Remove sheet pan from oven and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, add olive oil, leeks, garlic, thyme and sage and cook on medium-low for about 5 minutes until leeks are tender, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning.
  • Deglaze with white wine or brandy and cook for a couple of minutes until alcohol has reduced.
  • Turn heat up to medium and add vegetable stock and cook until stock has reduced by half about 15 minutes.
  • Add cream and cook until lightly thickened about 5 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta, rinse well under water, and drain well again.
  • Start off by adding 3/4 of the cooked pasta to the pan, along with roasted butternut squash and arugula and toss to heat through.  
  • Depending on how much sauce you have, add the remaining cooked pasta--you may need to add a little more vegetable stock if sauce is too thick.
  • Serve immediately garnished with toasted pine nuts and fried sage leaves and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Cashew Cream:

1/2 cup raw cashews soaked overnight, drained
1 cup filtered water

Method:
  • Drain cashews and add to a blender.  Add filtered water and blend on high for about 4 minutes (with ear plugs...:-) until creamy.  Strain cream and set aside.  You'll need 1 cup for this recipe.  Use any remaining cream in your morning coffee.
Fried Sage:

12 small sage leaves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Method:
  • Heat a small saute pan on medium heat, add sage and cook for about 1 minute, turning once until darkened and crispy.
  • Remove from pan and place on a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt.

 










 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cajun Gumbo with Farro, Black-Eyed Peas & Kale

Gumbo's are normally made with a roux consisting of oil and flour that is slowly cooked until it develops a deep chestnut color.  The purpose of the roux acts as a thickening agent for the gumbo.  I don't find roux's to be very healthy and so I don't use them in my cooking.  I prefer to thicken my gumbo's the natural way using a starchy grain such as farro perlato or hulled barley.  Another option is to use okra or filĂ© powder to thicken the gumbo--but I'm not a big fan of these either.  Also, I like a spicy gumbo and so I make my own Cajun seasoning blend.  If you purchase Cajun seasoning in the store, read the label and choose a brand that does not contain salt, or make sure that salt is listed at the bottom of the ingredient list.  Some brands are just too salty and can ruin your soup.  You can always add more heat, but you can't remove salt.


Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 organic green pepper, diced small
1 cup organic celery, sliced 
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)
1 14 oz can tomato puree
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
10 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup black-eyed peas
1 cup farro or hulled barley
4 cups organic chopped kale or collard greens, stems removed, washed
1/2 cup cut blanched green beans or okra, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Louisiana Hot Sauce, optional

Method:
  • Using a dutch oven or stock pot, add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook for about five minutes until onions are soft.
  • Add Cajun seasoning, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add black-eyed peas and reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Bring soup back up to a boil and stir in farro, green pepper, celery, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
  • Reduce heat and simmer soup for 30 minutes until farro and black-eyed peas are tender.
  • Just before serving, add chopped kale and green beans/okra, if using and heat through for about 3 minutes until kale is wilted.
  • Remove bay leaf before serving and serve with Louisiana Hot Sauce. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creamy Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

I've been on a soup kick ever since Thanksgiving.  This past week I've made Minnesota Wild Rice, a Tunisian Vegetable-Garbanzo Bean with Spicy Harissa, and a New Orleans Farro Gumbo.  But wild rice soup is definitely one of my favorites.  I just love the texture and the nutty flavor.  Plus it's gluten-free and packed full of nutrients such as B vitamins niacin, riboflavin and thiamine, as well as potassium and phosphorus. It is also considered a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids.  Unfortunately, most stores sell a cultivated-hybrid version of wild rice, which is what I used.  But I'm definitely going to seek out the real deal even though it's more expensive so that I can do a comparison.  Either way--it's definitely a grain that you want to keep in your pantry and use often!

Ingredients:
(Serves 4)

1 cup small diced carrots
1 cup small diced celery
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, small diced and washed
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp finely minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup pale dry sherry
8 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (I used Rapunzel)
1/4 cup vegan "chicken" flavored seasoning (found in the bulk section of Whole Foods), optional
3/4 cup organic wild rice
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup cashew cream or soy milk (if you use soy milk you may want to add a little more cornstarch to thicken to your liking)
1/4 cup minced chives
Kosher salt and black pepper

Method:
  • In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil and add leeks, garlic and thyme and cook until leeks are soft, about five minutes.
  • Add dry sherry and reduce for a couple of minutes and then add vegetable stock, along with flavored seasoning (if using).
  • Bring broth to a boil and stir in brown rice along with celery and carrots and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook until rice is tender about 45 minutes.
  • Five minutes before serving, whisk together cashew cream or soy milk with cornstarch and add to soup, stirring slowing for about 3-4 minutes until soup thickens.
  • Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with minced chives.
Cashew Cream:

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least four hours, drained
1/2 cup filtered water

Method:
  • Drain cashews and place in a blender along with filtered water and blend on high for about 4 minutes until creamy.  
  • Strain mixture.  You should have about 3/4 cup of cream.  If less, add additional water.





 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ooey-Gooey-Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

Growing up macaroni and cheese was a staple at our dinner table.  Except my mom never purchased the boxed stove-top version.  She always made it from scratch using a blend of aged white and yellow cheddars, along with parmesan and a creamy bechamel sauce.  It was a killer mac and cheese (seriously--it's a wonder my family doesn't have heart disease), but it was my most favorite dish growing up as a kid.


So when Anna of Green Talk sent me a message a couple of weeks ago asking me what soy cheese I use to make macaroni and cheese I told her I would send her my recipe.  She said that her kids really don't like fake cheese substitutes and I guaranteed her that they would love this version using Daiya cheese.  By the way, Anna's site is phenomenal--anything and everything you ever wanted to know about eco-friendly, green-living is all in one place on her website.  I use it as a reference all the time--great articles and very informative!  And Anna if you're reading this, definitely let me know if your kids like the recipe!

So getting back to the mac and cheese--this recipe is really versatile.  You can dress it up or dress it down depending on who you're serving it to.  If making it for kids, just use yellow cheddar and skip the herb-panko topping and of course serve it with an organic ketchup.  For a spicy version, use both cheddar and pepper-jack cheese, along with a couple splashes of your favorite hot sauce, and for a more sophisticated adult version, add minced rosemary, or chopped black truffles and a drizzle of white truffle oil.

Now I have to be honest, I have never made this recipe without using my Vita-Mix for the cashew cream.  So if you don't have a high-speed blender you really need to soak the cashews overnight and blend them for about 4 minutes and then strain afterwards.  This will help prevent the cheese sauce from separating if the mac and cheese sits out for any extended period of time--but I don't think that will be an issue.  Also, this is a non-bake version and so cook your noodles until completely done--no al dente here.  And no, I don't recommend using another nut milk other than cashew.  Soy milk imparts a strange flavor, almond milk has too much of a distinct flavor and rice milk is just too thin.  You want it creamy without using any flour or cornstarch and I find that since cashews have a high-fat content they work best...now on with the recipe already!

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 large head of garlic, roasted (see instructions below)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh thyme, optional
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 1/3 cups cashew cream (see instructions below)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
1-2 tsp Dijon or spicy brown mustard, depending on taste
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste), plus more for cooking noodles
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds, divided
Herb-panko crumb topping (see recipe below), optional
1 lb macaroni noodles, cooked and drained
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks

Method:
  • In a small sauce pan add olive oil, onions, garlic and thyme and cook for about 10-15 minutes until really tender.  Add vegetable stock to keep onion mixture from burning, but cook until stock is evaporated.
  • Once onions are soft, add cashew cream and roasted garlic puree to the pan and heat until scalding--you do not want to boil the cream or it will get too thick.
  • Immediately pour the mixture into a blender and add turmeric, salt, pepper, mustard and 1 cup of Daiya cheese and blend until smooth.  If too thick add a little more cashew cream if needed.  Keep mixture covered and warm.
  • Cook macaroni noodles per package instructions in salted boiling water, drain really well, place in a large bowl and stir in Earth Balance Butter until melted. 
  • While noodles are still hot, add warm/hot cashew cheese mixture, along with another cup of Daiya cheese and mix well to combine.  The Daiya will start melting and the noodles will start absorbing the sauce.   
  • Check for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.  
  • Cover and keep warm until ready to serve or serve immediately.
  • Top with herb-panko topping if desired.
  • The macaroni and cheese can be reheated in the microwave.  If too thick add a little more cashew cream to thin it out.
Cashew Cream:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight, drained, blended and strained
2 cups filtered water

Method:
  • Drain cashews and place in a blender, along with filtered water and blend on high for about 4 minutes until creamy.
  • Strain mixture and measure out 2 1/3 cups cashew cream for the recipe.
  • Reserve remaining cashew cream in case you need to thin out the recipe.  
  • Cashew cream can be frozen and used for another recipe.  Thaw in the refrigerator and blend before using.
Roasted Garlic Puree:

1 large head garlic, top cut off
Olive oil to drizzle
Kosher salt and black pepper

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut off top of garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap in foil.
  • Roast in the oven for about 60-75 minutes until soft and caramelized, checking after 45 minutes.
  • Let garlic cool to touch and then squeeze out puree and set aside.
Herb-Panko Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp assorted minced fresh herbs of choice:  parsley, thyme, chives, rosemary
Kosher salt and black pepper


Method:
  • In a small saute pan, heat olive oil and add minced herbs and cook for a couple of minutes to soften.
  • Add bread crumbs and cook for a couple of minutes until lightly golden brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and place in a bowl to cool.











 


Saturday, November 19, 2011

French Apple-Custard Tart

Today is my last post for my Thanksgiving Series.  When I mentioned my series back in late September I posted a photo for an Apple-Riesling Tart.  I did not post the recipe because I felt that it was too complicated.  And so I simplified the recipe by using a store-bought apricot jam and left out the Riesling reduction altogether.  The added cost for the Riesling really didn't provide much to the recipe--even though it sounded good.   I also experimented with a gluten-free version of the crust, but it was just too crumbly to hold up against the weight of the apples.  But I will continue experiment with a gluten-free crust for future posts, so stay tuned.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to serve on Thanksgiving, but I'll post my final menu next week.  Until then, thanks for following along with me and I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!


Flaky Pastry Crust Ingredients:
(Makes enough for 2 9" Tart Pans)

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp unfiltered sugar
12 tbsp or 1-1/2 sticks Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, cut into small cubes, frozen
4 tbsp or 1/2 stick Earth Balance Natural Shortening, cut into small cubes, frozen
1/4-1/2 cup cold filtered water

Method:

  • Add flour, salt, sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine.
  • Using the pulse mode add butter and shortening and pulse until the texture is crumbly and the fat resembles small peas.
  • While still in pulse mode, drizzle in water slowly until dough sticks together when pressed in your hand.
  • Remove dough from bowl and place on a cutting board.  Divide dough into two 1" high flat disk/circles.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour before rolling out.  If only making one tart, wrap the second disk in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Cashew Cream:
 
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in filtered water
2 cups filtered water
 
Method:
  • Drain cashews and place in a blender and cover with 2 cups filtered water.
  • Blend on high for about 4 minutes until creamy.  You'll need to strain the cream if you don't have a high speed blender.
  • Measure out 1 cup for the custard and reserve the other cream for other uses.
Tart Filling:

3-4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced in half and then thinly sliced
1 cup cashew cream
1/3 maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup apricot glaze (I used 100% pure fruit apricot jam, heated it and then strained it removing any solids) 
 
Method: 
  • Peel, core and slice apples and decorate top of tart shell.
  • In a blender mix together 1 cup cashew cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cornstarch.
  • Pour over top of tart/apples (see assembly instructions below).

Assembly:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  • On a lightly floured cutting board, roll out the dough to 3/8" thick and line a 9" tart pan, pressing along the sides and removing excess from the edges.
  • With the prongs of a fork, prick the bottom of the dough several times and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
  • Remove tart from the freezer and place on a sheet tray.
  • Brush the bottom of the tart pan with a little apricot jam and then start overlapping apple slices starting at the top edge and working around to complete the circle.  You want the apple slices to cover the edge of the tart.  Follow the same pattern for the second and third layers, using any small apple slices to fill in the holes.  
  • You want the entire surface of the tart covered with apples.
  • Move the tart/sheet pan to the oven rack and then slowly pour in custard in a circular motion.
  • Carefully slide in oven rack and bake tart for about 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown and custard is set.  If apples start to brown too much you can drape tart with foil or turn oven down to 350 degrees, but you may need to adjust your cooking time with a lower temperature.
  • Remove tart from oven and let cool on rack for about 15 minutes before removing tart ring.
  • While tart is cooling, brush with warm apricot glaze.
  • Let tart cool for about 30 minutes before cutting and serve with your favorite vegan ice cream or sweetened cashew cream (see below).
Sweetened Cashew Cream:
 
1/2 cup cashew cream
1/4 cup apricot glaze
 
Method:
  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl and chill until ready to use.
 
 
 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roasted Potato, Mushroom & Kale Torte

This torte is very similar to the Potato and Spinach Gratin that I made about a month ago but it is more substantial.  I know that on Thanksgiving some people like to serve a dish that is the center piece of their meal and this dish could fill in for that purpose.  For me however, it has always been about the variety of the side dishes.  Nothing makes a Thanksgiving plate more beautiful than an array of fall colors, and different flavors and textures. 

For the torte I made the same cashew cream sauce that I used for the gratin, but changed up the other ingredients and served it with a Mushroom-Marsala Jus.  Whether you serve this as a side dish for Thanksgiving, or for a simple dinner when you have a craving for warm comfort food, I know that you and your family will really like it!


Cashew Cheddar Sauce:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in filtered water, drained

1 1/4 cup filtered water

1 bulb of garlic, roasted until soft
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on taste
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Note:  You may have cashew cheddar sauce left over depending on the size of the casserole dish you use.  Place it in a container and freeze for up to three months.  To use, thaw in the fridge and blend before using.

Method:


  • Cover cashews with filtered water and soak for up to 8 hours or overnight.  Drain cashews and place in a blender, along with 1 1/4 cups filtered water.  Blend on high until creamy, about 4 minutes.  Strain mixture if you are not using a high-speed blender like a Vita-Mix and then place back in the blender.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the top off the garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in foil and bake until soft about 45-60 minutes.  Let garlic cool and squeeze out soft garlic cloves and set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil, onions, minced garlic, and fresh thyme and cook until onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.  
  • Add to the blender and cashew cream, the roasted garlic, onion mixture, cayenne pepper, Daiya Cheese and salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth and creamy.  It should be thicker than heavy cream, more like the consistency of a loose custard.  However, if too thick add a little more water.
  • Set sauce aside until ready to use.
Torte Ingredients:

3 lbs organic Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and sliced into 1/4" slices, roasted
1 1/2 lbs assorted mushrooms (I used 8oz each, cremini, oyster and chanterelle), roasted
1 bunch organic green kale, stems removed, cut into bite sized pieces and washed
3 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 bunch minced fresh chives
3/4 Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
1 to 1 1/2 cups Cashew Cheddar Sauce
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Note:  I used a 9x9" casserole dish which makes about 6 servings.

Method: 
  • Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  • Toss mushrooms together with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme and salt and pepper.  Spread out mushrooms on two baking sheets and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  • Toss potatoes together with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme and salt and pepper.  Spread out on two sheet trays (trying not to over-lap) and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping potatoes half way through the cooking process and rotating trays.  If the potatoes stick to the sheet plan when trying to flip, place back in the oven for a couple more minutes.  Once the starches become caramelized the potatoes will easily lift from the sheet pan.  Remove from oven and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, heat olive oil on medium-low and add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes until the garlic starts to sizzle.  Add chopped kale, and salt and pepper and cook for about 3-4 minutes until kale is wilted, but still bright green.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
Assembly:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly butter casserole dish and spread with 1/3 cup of cheese sauce on the bottom.  I made 4 layers so divide your ingredients to make sure you have enough for each layer.
  • Layer the casserole with roasted potatoes, mushrooms, kale, a 1/4 cup Daiya cheese, 1/3 cup cheese sauce, chopped chives, salt and pepper.  Repeat this process three more times, except for the top layer do not use the Daiya cheese, only the cheese sauce.
  • Cover with foil and bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes until bubbly, turning once half way through the cooking process.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.
  • Just before serving, garnish with herb panko topping and additional chopped chives.
Herb Panko:

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced chives
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:
  • In a small saute pan, heat olive oil, add bread crumbs, herbs, salt and pepper and cook on low until panko is lightly golden brown.  Stir frequently and be careful not to burn.  When finished do not leave in hot pan, transfer to a bowl and then sprinkle on gratin.
Mushroom-Marsala Jus:

8 oz cremini mushrooms sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Marsala fortified wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
1 tsp a/p flour
1 tbsp extra virgin olive
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Method:
  • In a small sauce pan, add olive oil, and mushrooms and cook on medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Add onions and garlic and cook about five minutes longer.
  • Deglaze with Marsala and cook until liquid has been absorbed.
  • Add vegetable stock, thyme, and bay leaf, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
  • Strain broth into a bowl, pressing solids with the back of a spoon.
  • In the sauce pan add butter and flour and cook for about 1-2 minutes until bubbly.
  • Whisk in mushroom broth and simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mango-Cardamon Smoothie

It has been over two weeks now and I'm still sick with my cold.  I actually think that it has turned into bronchitis or something and a trip to the doctor's office is in my near future.  Anyway, totally bums me out...I'm so over it!  So the last thing I wanted to do was cook tonight and so made myself a delicious and healthy smoothie.  I could drink this smoothie anytime, day or night--it's that good, plus it really helps soothe my sore throat and my hacking cough.
 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight, drained
5 dates, pitted, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen mango
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 cup crushed ice
Note:  Instead of using raw almonds and the water, you can use 1 1/2 cups already prepared almond milk.  Just look for a low sugar version, or cut back on the dates or it might be too sweet.

Method:
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high-speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Garnish with additional cardamon and a mint sprig.


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