Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Deviled Goodness (Vegan Deviled Eggs)

You can't have a holiday weekend without serving Vegan Deviled Eggs.   Seriously these are amazing!  My husband could not get over how much they tasted like the real deal, texture and everything.  As I mentioned in previous posts, I have never liked eggs (no matter how they were prepared)...but with one exception...my Mom's Deviled Eggs.  Everything she made tasted great and I think that she would love these too!


This recipe is so simple, but you'll need a mold to create the cashew-agar base to hold the piped tofu mousse.  I used a ceramic deviled egg holder that I had in cabinet, but it was a little shallow.  I'm going to look on line and see if I can find a deeper base, but other than that they were absolutely perfect...beautiful and delicious.

This recipe makes about 36 portions so you will need more than one mold because the agar will solidify if you don't work quickly.  Or you can cut the tofu mouse recipe in half and pipe less.

Cashew Cream-Agar Egg Base:

1/2 cup cashew cream, (1/2 cup cashews blended in a high speed blender with 1-1/4 cup water.  If you don't have a high-speed blender then you will need to soak the cashews for about 4 hours and then strain through cheesecloth or a fine strainer.  You will not use all the cashew cream but it will keep in the refrigerator covered for up to five days.)
3/4 warm water
1 tsp Agar-Agar powder (I purchased my powder at an Asian market, for $2.99, but Whole Foods carries the agar flakes, but it will cost you about $9.00.  Also, if you use the flakes then you'll need to increase the amount to 1 Tbsp and boil it a little longer.
1/4-1/2 tsp Black Salt (found in an Indian or Asian market--it's actually pink and very salty.)

  • Lightly oil mold with vegetable oil and set aside.  
  • Blend cashews with water and measure out a 1/2 cup of cashew cream.  Whisk in black salt and set aside.
  • Pour 3/4 cup water into a measuring cup and warm in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.  Whisk in agar-agar powder and then place back in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and let it boil.  
  • Place cashew cream into microwave for 30-40 seconds to warm and then whisk mixture into hot agar water making sure there are no lumps.
  • Skim off any bubbles off the top before pouring into mold, or pop bubbles with a toothpick.
  • Let mold sit on the counter for about 15 minutes before moving and placing in the refrigerator to chill for about one hour to harden completely.

Once hardened, using a small pairing knife, remove cashew-agar base and place on a plate.  Then using a small melon baller or spoon, scoop out a small portion of the base without breaking through the bottom.  Then pipe in the tofu mousse and chill for about an hour before serving.  Also, the agar will not melt or soften if these are left out for a little while at room temperature, but they are better served chilled.  So if you are serving a lot of people, I would serve a dozen at a time and keep the others chilled.

Tofu Mousse:
(You can cut the recipe in half if you are making less portions)

7.5 oz organic sprouted extra firm tofu (I used Wildwood--it comes it two sealed pouches, 7.5 oz each).
1/4 cup Follow Your Heart original organic Vegenaise
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 - 3/4 tsp black salt
1 tsp apple cider, or white wine vinegar

  • Drain tofu and press dry with paper towels and place in a food processor.
  • Add all ingredients except for black salt and blend until smooth and creamy.  You may need to add a little more Vegenaise to get the right texture.
  • Add black salt to taste and then pipe or spoon mousse into base.
  • Garnish with paprika and chives and chill for about one hour before serving.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spicy Korean Tacos with Pickled Cucumber Salad

I must confess...these really aren't spicy Korean tacos because I didn't have any Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes or paste), but you really don't need it.  I made a quick spicy BBQ sauce using ketchup, sriracha, tamari, rice wine vinegar and water.  But you can just purchase your favorite spicy BBQ sauce, and doctor it up with some soy sauce and you're all set.  Whenever possible try to purchase organic BBQ sauce that doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup.


What really makes these tacos is the crunchy pickled cucumber salad.  Here's what I used:

1 medium English cucumber sliced into half moons
1/4 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed and julienned into thin strips
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3-1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp light agave syrup
1/4 cup green onion, sliced on a bias
Kosher salt to taste

Method:  Place all ingredients in a bowl (except for the salt) and let marinate in the fridge for about one hour before using.  Salt just before serving so that the cucumbers maintain their crunch.

Not only is this a super quick weeknight dinner but it would be great for Memorial Day weekend.  If you can find sheets of seitan, I would brush the grill lightly with oil and grill for 1-2 minutes on each side, then slice into thin strips and toss in the warm BBQ sauce.

For the tortillas you can use corn or flour, but I prefer flour because this is a substantial taco and corn tortillas will not hold up to all the ingredients.  For garnish I used green onion, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.

Wishing you a safe holiday weekend and I'll post my homemade hot dogs and buns next week (if they turn out...but I think they will)!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Verde (Tomatillo-Poblano) Chilaquiles

I learned how to make Chilaquiles as a line cook working at a restaurant.  At least once a week while we were prepping for service Noel and Bernardo (my amigos) would take turns making them for our family meal.  They were always made with a red sauce, somewhat spicy and super delicious.  Noel would always give me a hard time because I never made Chilaquiles for them.  So one day I came in a little early and I made Verde Chilaquiles and they loved them...I felt so great that the pressure was finally off.  But one can only produce the best dish when one learns from the best...and Noel and Bernie were truly the best!


Verde Sauce:

3 Tomatillos, skins removed
1 Poblano pepper
1 Jalapeno pepper
1 Onion sliced (skin on)
3-4 Garlic cloves (skin on)
1/3-1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3-1/2 cup cashew cream (1/2 cup cashews, blended with 1 cup water)
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Method:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place all ingredients on a sheet tray and roast for 10-15 minutes until charred.  You may need to need to remove the garlic first so that it doesn't burn.  Let cool and peel and seed peppers.  Place in a blender and blend until smooth.  I did not add cilantro to my sauce because I added it to the pico de gallo and guacamole. 


After you make the sauce, turn the oven down to 325 degrees to toast the tortilla chips.  Normally, the tortilla chips are fried but you don't need to do this.  Baking produces the same end result without all the fat and calories.  When purchasing the corn tortillas I usually look for a heartier brand that will hold up to the weight of the sauce and cheese without becoming too soggy, but soggy is good too!  I like using the sliders because they cut perfectly into 4ths.  

Method:  Spray a sheet pan with vegetable spray and then spray the top of the tortillas lightly and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in the oven for about 12-14 minutes until crisp and lightly golden brown.  Turn chips over half way through the baking and keep an eye on them so they don't burn.


You have no idea how many gallons of pico de gallo I have made in my lifetime!  It is so easy and I prefer homemade salsa over store bought any day!  There is really no recipe for fresh salsa.  If you don't like white onion, add red onion and if you like it super spicy then add the whole jalapeno or leave in the seeds.  The most important thing is to dice and mince the tomatoes/vegetables perfectly...it's all about uniformity!... :-)

Pico de Gallo:

5 organic Roma tomatoes, seeded, julienned and diced
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced 
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


I  like using individual cazuelas to serve my Chilaquiles.  (Serves 2) 

Baked Tortilla Chips
2 - 3 cups Verde Sauce
1 package Daiya Havarti-Jalapeno Style Cheese, shredded
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Method:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add chips to a large bowl, along with 1/2 of the shredded cheese.  Heat sauce on the stove, adding additional veg stock if the sauce is too thick.  Pour sauce over chips and toss evenly to coat.  Divide mixture evenly between cazuelas or ramekins and top with additional cheese.  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes on a sheet tray until mixture is bubbly.  Remove from oven and serve immediately garnished with cilantro and green onions.

And now for the toppings.  At the restaurant we would always serve our Chilaquiles topped with pico, guacamole (avocado, cilantro, green onion, Vegenaise, lime juice, salt and pepper) and salad made with romaine lettuce, radish, jalapeno, tossed with a red wine-oregano vinaigrette.  It doesn't get any better than this.  To my friends...Noel & Bernardo...thank you for everything you taught me in the kitchen!   


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Smoked Tofu and Cucumber-Dill Tea Sandwiches

With all of our record temperatures the past three days my house hasn't been too unbearable, but I still haven't turned on the stove or oven.  These little tea sandwiches are just perfect for the dog days of summer, as well as any upcoming wedding or baby showers!  If you want more variety you could serve my Egg(less) Salad on white bread, my TuNo Salad on wheat bread, and the smoked tofu on rye, which is what I used.

Dill Aioli:

1/2-3/4 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup minced dill (more or less)
2 TBSP minced capers (more or less)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper

Other ingredients:

1 packet sprouted organic smoked tofu, sliced thinly (I used Wildwood with Szechuan spices because I like a little kick)
1/2 English cucumber, sliced thinly
Red onion, shaved thinly (optional)
Rye bread (I used Genuine Bavarian Whole Rye Bread)

Enjoy and stay cool!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad) with Homemade Feta

Whew...it's a toasty one...reaching 98 degrees here today.  Whenever it gets this hot out it reminds me of when my husband and I were traveling in Crete and we were staying along the Libyan Sea.  It was like 100 degrees, combined with Southern California Santa Ana type winds (if you've ever experienced them before) and you get the idea of how hot and dry it was.  We lived off of Greek Salads and good Greek wine and beer...not a bad vacation!   I really love the hot weather though, especially if it's only for a few days.  There is nothing better than taking a walk at 9:00pm and having it be 80 degrees outside!


So tonight, the stove and the oven will remain off and a Greek Salad is the order of the day.  I've always been interested in making my own vegan cheese, but I just haven't had time.  My hubby bought me a vegan cheese making book for Xmas, but they didn't have a recipe for Feta.  So I decided to throw something simple together using Greek flavors such as oregano, basil and mint.  Since this Feta is made with tofu, it doesn't have a melting quality, but it is great for a salad and really resembles Feta.  Plus it gives the salad some protein!


Feta Ingredients:

1 10 oz block of organic Sprouted Wildwood Super Firm Tofu (or similar)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp fresh minced oregano
1 tsp fresh minced basil
1 tsp fresh minced mint
1/2 tsp oregano flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:  Remove tofu from package and pat dry.  Slice in half and using a fork crumble into 1" sized pieces.  Place in a bowl and add lemon juice, vinegar and salt, stir and set aside while mincing herbs.  Combine all ingredients together and let sit for about an hour in the fridge for flavors to combine.  Best used within 1-2 days.

In Greece they don't crumble the Feta (you get a 1" thick slice on top, drizzled with olive oil and oregano, nor do they use red wine vinegar.  They also don't use romaine lettuce, but since this is our dinner this evening I wanted a more substantial salad.

Other Ingredients:

Chopped romaine lettuce
Roma tomatoes, quartered
Cucumber, sliced
Green bell pepper, sliced
Red onion, sliced thinly
Kalamata olives, pitted
Oregano flakes
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Red wine vinaigrette (I just whisked together a quick vinaigrette, but you could just drizzle your salad with good quality (preferably Greek) cold pressed olive oil!)

Enjoy (Opa!) 



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Berger Cookies...My Mom's Favorite Cookie!

Mother's Day is a tough day this year because my mom passed away in August.  Normally on this day we would talk on the phone and I would send her a card, flowers (usually tulips) and a box of cookies...she had a sweet tooth...especially for Berger Cookies, a local Baltimore favorite.  So in memory of my mom today I decided to make homemade Berger cookies which are unlike any other cookie in the universe!  They are a cake-like vanilla cookie covered with chocolate-fudge ganache.  The cookie to ganache ratio should be 50-50, so don't skimp on the chocolate! 


In addition to Berger Cookies, Baltimore is known also for Old Bay Seasoning and steamed crabs, UTZ Potato Chips (puts Lays to shame) and Natty Boh (National Bohemian) Beer.  My mom could care less for the beer (she preferred wine), but she loved Old Bay Seasoning, UTZ potato chips and of course her Berger Cookies!  My mom was an excellent cook and it was hard deciding what to make in her memory (I could of gone with a savory dish), but I believe that she would be in Berger Heaven after eating these, and I know that she is!

Cookie Base:
Makes about 30 cookies

1 stick Earth Balance Butter
3/4 cup pure organic sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1 1/2 Tbsp Egg Replacer powder, whisked with water according to package directions (I used Bob's Red Mill, but you could use Energ instead...you just want the equivalent of 1 1/2 eggs.  You could also use flax eggs but the cookie will be even more cake like without any crunch.) 
2 1/4 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cashew milk (see below)

Cashew Milk:

1/2 cup cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained.  Place in a high-speed blender with 1 1/4 cups filtered water and blend on high for a couple of minutes.  If you don't have a high speed blender then strain milk before using.  You will have enough milk for the cookie as well as the ganache frosting.


Method:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using the standard cookie creaming method, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer until fluffy, add vanilla extract and the egg replacer mixture and mix until combined.  In another bowl whisk together, flour, salt, and baking powder and add alternating flour and milk to the mixer and only mix until combined.  Line a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a silpat and scoop dough using a teaspoon or a 1-teaspoon ice cream scooper (which is what I used).  Take your fingers and press the dough lightly to flatten.  Bake cookies in the middle of the oven rack for 9-10 minutes (turning halfway through the baking process).  Remove the cookies immediately with a spatula onto a cooling rack and cool completely before icing.


I made my ganache the day before and kept it in the refrigerator so that it would set-up be ready to frost the cookies after they cooled.  Also, my ganache was just a tad soft.  It still set up fine, but it could of been a little firmer.  Perhaps it is because of the cashew cream or because I ran out of chocolate chips.  But here's what I did--if you want it firmer then add a little bit more chocolate.  Also, I don't like using light corn syrup, but this will give the chocolate a glossier finish.

1 1/2 cups good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup cashew cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 1/2 cups organic confectioners sugar, shifted

Method:  Cashew Cream and chocolate can easily burn and so I placed the chocolate and cashew cream in a bowl over a pan of slightly simmering water for about a minute until the chocolate melted.  You could also microwave in increments of 25 seconds, stirring in between until chocolate is melted.  Once melted, whisk in melted butter, vanilla extract and stir in powdered sugar and beat with a spatula until creamy and combined.  Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours to chill and harden.  Before icing the cookies, beat the ganache lightly.  You can either hand dip the cookies (the traditional method) or use a small off-set spatula or pipe the ganache with a plain tip, like I did.  Let the icing set for about 30 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long).  My teeth hurt from all the chocolate!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Mother's Day and if you ever get a chance surprise your mom with a batch of homemade Berger Cookies on her special day!



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Creamy Spring Orzo Pasta

Easy weeknight dinner...fresh and delicious.  By Thursday night I'm really tired and I don't feel like cooking so I usually throw a quick pasta dish together.  This pasta is so great for spring using fresh English peas and asparagus.  I purchased my peas already shucked from the pod to save time, but you could use frozen peas and it would taste just a delicious.  For the herbs I used only fresh parsley, but tarragon would of been a great addition.  And instead of using pine nuts because they are outrageously expensive $35/pound, I used slithered almonds, toasted lightly.  You couldn't even tell the difference and they added a great contrasting texture to the orzo.

(Serves 2)

1/2 pound orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 TBSP minced garlic
1/2-3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup shucked fresh English peas or frozen
1/2 lb asparagus, tossed in EVOO, s&p and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes and then cut on a 1" bias
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2-3/4 cup cashew milk (1/4 cup soaked cashews blended with 3/4 cup water in high-speed blender)
1-2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted almonds or pine nuts
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Parsley for garnish


Cook pasta to al dente (about 9 minutes), drain well and set aside.  In a medium sized saute pan add olive oil and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for about a minute.  Deglaze with vegetable stock and reduce by half.  Add orzo (you may not use it all), asparagus, peas, cashew milk, lemon zest salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through and creamy.  (If using fresh peas you may need to add them first to the vegetable stock and cook for about two minutes before adding the other ingredients.)  If sauce becomes too thick or liquid is absorbed by the pasta, add more vegetable stock and/or cashew milk.  Stir in fresh parsley, lemon juice and top with toasted almonds.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Classic Cuban Sandwich with Citrus-Mojo Sauce

Miami and Tampa you've got nothing on this sandwich and I challenge anyone who loves Cuban sandwiches to tell me that this isn't the best sandwich they've ever eaten...even though it's 100% vegan!


It all starts with the bread and then goes from there.  Since I couldn't go to my local market and purchase traditional Cuban bread, I went to Le Boulangerie and purchased two freshly baked French rolls--super crispy crust with a soft interior.  Hoagie or sub rolls that you purchase in the grocery store will not hold up to the pressing or substantial ingredients so make sure you search around and find the best rolls.

For a traditional Cuban sandwich the pork is braised and so I wanted to create a mojo braising liquid for the three seitan deli cuts that I used:  Tofurky Smoked, Tofurky Peppered and Yves Ham.  I made the mojo sauce, poured it into a saute pan and then added four slices of each of the deli cuts to heat through and reduce the sauce.  That's 12 slices for one sandwich!

Citrus-Mojo Sauce
1 large Valencia Orange
1/2 lemon
1 1/2 limes
1 TBSP paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp finely minced fresh garlic
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

And now for the assembling...Cuban sandwiches use Swiss cheese, but I don't like the flavor of Daiya Swiss or Provolone and so I used my normal standby, which I love...Daiya Havarti Wedge, thinly sliced.  On one side of the bread I placed a generous slather of spicy brown mustard and the other side Vegenaise.  I then added cheese to both sides, dill pickle slices on one side and then layered on the deli cuts and topped with the reduced sauce and freshly black ground pepper and kosher salt.

This is a substantial sandwich folks...enough for two with a side salad or fries, but we each had our own and were stuffed!

A panini press with grill marks is not traditional and will not do, unless that's all you've got.  I used my trusty cast iron skillet, along with my cast iron Indian bread pan, which provided a perfect weight to press the bread without flattening to a pancake.  I added Earth Balance Butter to pan and cooked the sandwich on medium-low for three minutes, added more butter and flipped and cooked on the other side for three minutes.

Fant├ístico! and Delicioso!  Need I say more?