Thursday, July 31, 2008

Smoked Onion and Garlic Soup

This was the second recipe that called for smoking the vegetables on the grill. Given my disastrous attempt with a stovetop smoker a couple days ago, I decided to sacrifice authenticity. The next best thing, I concluded, was to broil the onions and garlic in the oven. However, if you have access to a grill, smoke the onions and garlic over indirect heat for an hour and fifteen minutes on a "tray" made of aluminum foil, according to your grill's instructions.

If you don't have a grill, fret not! You can still make this variant on French onion soup.

Place 3 cups thinly, vertically sliced yellow onion and 8 garlic cloves on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with aluminum foil. Broil for 5 minutes in the oven. There's a little bit of smokiness to be had from broiling, right? (Just nod along; I'm really sad that I didn't get to try out true "smoking").

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme (use about 3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme if you have it), one teaspoon tomato paste, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Add 21 ounces vegetable broth and two tablespoons dry sherry. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for a full hour.

The original recipe, of course, called for beef broth, which is why I never get to enjoy French onion soup in restaurants anymore - well, that and the cheese. But vegetable broth works just as well at home. As for the sherry, if you're a strict vegan, you'll be worried about the filtration process. As with the last recipe I made involving sherry (see May), try the Fino en Rama unfiltered sherry. If you're not strict about filtration processes, use any dry sherry (the Puerto Fino from Lustau is a great one, and not too expensive).

After an hour, ladle one cup of soup into each of three bowls. Top each with two (half ounce) slices of French baguette and two tablespoons shredded "cheese". The original recipe called for Gruyere but I used the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods. (Note: toast the slices of baguette in the broiler for one minute, so they're nice and golden).

Place the three bowls on a baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes, until the 'cheese' melts. Make sure your bowls are oven-proof!

Each serving is 190 calories. And yes, I'm crazy: I cooked this on a 88 degree day.

yellow onion $1.24
garlic $1.76
tomato paste $1.39
sherry $16.99
broth $3.19
vegan cheese $3.39

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rattlesnake Beans with Olive Tapenade

Rattlesnake beans are an heirloom variety with a "mottled" skin of purple and green that resembles the marking of their namesake. It soon became apparent, however, that this type of bean was available down south, not up here in NYC. Reader, I kid you not, I was about to throw in the towel and just make this recipe with regular beans and sacrifice authenticity, when I walked into the tiny organic store on the corner from my apartment to buy vanilla extract (see yesterday's recipe) and THERE in a big beautiful cardboard box, in all their purple mottled glory were my beans.
I'm not kidding; I'd been hunting for these little things in every farmers' market in the city all July. I literally couldn't believe my eyes.

I bought a pound and a half. Just look at these beauties:

So tonight! I can make the recipe. However, all my nuttiness aside, you can easily substitute either regular green beans or pole beans for this recipe. Indeed, once cooked, rattlesnake beans lose the mottled appearance, so by all means don't waste all your energy like I did.

Tracking down the beans was tough, the recipe itself is simple: bring 2 quarts (8 cups) water and one teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add one and a half pounds trimmed rattlesnake (or green) beans, cut into one-inch pieces. Rattlesnake beans are tougher and need to cook for about 25 minutes. Regular beans only need about 8. Cook accordingly and drain. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, one teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, one and a half teaspoons grated lemon rind, one and a half teaspoons lemon juice, one and a half teaspoons olive oil, one chopped garlic clove and one medium shallot, quartered. Pulse until finely chopped (you will probably need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a couple of times with a spatula).

Toss the beans with the tapenade. The yield for this recipe is 6 servings, of 3/4 cup and 70 calories each.

rattlesnake beans $6.24
kalamata olives $6.99
rosemary $1.99
lemon $0.79
shallot $0.20

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Polenta Cake with Late-Summer Berries

The wedding I attended on Sunday happened to accomodate me and two vegetarians in the room with a delicious, savory polenta cake and grilled vegetables for dinner. I was delighted to learn that any time they prepare a "vegetarian" entree, they make it vegan by default. The venue has even done entirely vegan weddings! So my praise goes to Tribeca Rooftop.

The great thing about polenta is its versatility -since I had a savory version for dinner the other night, here's a sweet version that works as a dessert.

In a medium bowl, combine one and a half cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife), 1/3 cup polenta, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/8 tsp. salt. Set aside.

The original recipe calls for 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites. Instead, use egg replacer (such as Ener-G) to make 4 whole eggs. Make 2 "eggs" in each of 2 small bowls. Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to one of those bowls, and set both aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup raw sugar and 6 tablespoons softened vegan butter (such as Earth Balance). Beat with a mixer for a full 5 minutes until creamy. Add the vanilla mixture/"eggs" and the second bowl of "eggs", and beat another 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Pour the batter into an 8x4 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray and bake for one hour at 350 degrees, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool ten minutes on a wire rack in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Cut into nine equal slices.

Before dessert time, make the filling: in a food processor or blender, combine one tablespoon raw sugar, 2 tablespoons water and a 10-oz package of frozen raspberries (thawed). Process until smooth, and strain through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids.

Combine the sauce with two cups halved strawberries, one cup blueberries, one cup raspberries, and one cup blackberries, tossing to coat.

Heat a grill pan over the stove over medium-high heat (or use the real thing if you have a patio...). Grill the polenta cake slices for one minute on each side. Place one slice on each of nine plates, and top each with half a cup of the berry mixture. Each serving is 320 calories.

cooking spray $5.99
vanilla extract $5.99
sugar $5.29
10-oz frozen raspberries $3.99
strawberries $3.99
blueberries $3.49
raspberries $3.99
blackberries $3.99

Monday, July 28, 2008

Smoky Tomato Salsa

This month’s cooking magazine has a whole chapter on smoking on the grill – I was really eager to try it out, with the unfortunate fact that I live in a New York City studio and do not, therefore, have a grill for smoking. I even dallied with the idea of buying one and storing at a friend’s house, but since they run about $600, my boyfriend quickly dissuaded me from the idea.

My next thought was a stovetop smoker. I found one for about $50 that got great online reviews, so I snatched it up and set it aside just for this recipe.

Well, I tried it tonight, and to my dismay, the apartment reeked of smoke 4 minutes in, to the point where my neighbour across the hall knocked on my door in concern! In embarrassment – and a little bit of fear – I quickly turned off the burner and put my smoker away, I imagine, forever.

But I still wanted to impart smoky flavor to my tomatoes for this salsa. So I put them in a skillet over low heat, covered it, and cooked for about 12 minutes until they were nice and tender – okay, so this isn’t the most authentic recipe I’ve made, but I found that it still worked.

If you do have a grill, smoke 5 whole plum tomatoes (about 2 pounds total) and one jalapeno pepper for 50 minutes over indirect heat, according to your grill’s instructions. Here's a website with a general how-to on smoking:

If you don’t have a grill, do as I did on the stovetop above. After 12 minutes, remove the stem for the jalapeno, then place the jalapeno and the 5 tomatoes in a food processor or blender along with one tablespoon lime juice, half a teaspoon dried marjoram and 2 minced garlic cloves. Blend until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and add one cup chopped red onion, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro and a quarter teaspoon salt. Cover and let chill in the fridge at least 45 minutes before serving. A quarter cup of salsa is 20 calories – delicious with tortilla chips!


plum tomato $3.00

jalapeno $0.20

garlic $0.48

red onion $0.92

cilantro $1.99

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spicy Pickled Beans

These pickled beans make for a great snack to have on hand during the summer – just keep in an airtight jar in the fridge and pick out a few every once in a while! They’re also great on a platter of appetizers during cocktail hour.

Make this at least the day before you want them ready. Bring 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add half a cup trimmed green beans and half a cup trimmed wax beans, and cook for four minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine one and a quarter cups red wine vinegar, half a cup raw sugar, half a cup sherry (or cider) vinegar, half a cup vodka (I used Absolut), 2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds, one tablespoon black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 4 whole garlic cloves, 4 dill sprigs and 2 bay leaves.

Bring to a boil, then cook for one minute, until the sugar dissolves.

Pour over the beans. Cover and let marinate in the fridge at least 24 hours. Remove the dill and the bay leaves (the recipe didn’t specify to remove the garlic cloves, but I discarded those , too). You can drain the beans if desired, or store them in a jar with the liquid.

One ounce of beans is 30 calories.


green beans $0.70

wax beans $1.29

mustard seeds $2.25

dill $1.99

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Zucchini Bread

I've been so excited to make this recipe all week! The final item in my fridge from my friend's garden is an enormous, beautiful zucchini. I took one look at the size of the thing and instantly thought... I must make zucchini bread. And so here it is.

In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. baking soda. Stir gently and set aside.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup egg substitute plus one real egg. Instead, make the equivalent of 5 eggs using egg replacer of your choice (such as Ener-G), which yields the same quantity.

Combine the "eggs" in a large bowl with 1/3 cup canola oil, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. (Full disclosure: I was a bit unorganized this morning! I'd used my lemon in a recipe the night before, completely forgetting I needed to save the rind, so I used 1 tsp. bottled lemon juice instead. Also, there was only 1 tsp. vanilla extract remaining in the vial in my cabinet, so whoops! I was a teaspoon short. Shh, don't tell).

Add one and a half cups sugar, stirring to combine, then 3 cups shredded zucchini (if you are not blessed with a giant one from a friend's garden, buy about 12-oz worth of zucchini at the store). Stir in 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Coat two (8x4 inch) loaf pans with cooking spray, and divide the batter evenly among them. Cook at 350 degrees for one hour (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Let cool on wire racks for ten minutes in the pans, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Each loaf will have 12 servings of 150 calories.

Check out the size of that zucchini! I've included my cell phone as a reference.

all-purpose flour $3.79
zucchini - a gift!
walnuts - 4.99

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cold Summer Pasta with Vegetables

For one of those nights where you don't want to eat anything hot! This pasta is also chalk-full of fresh color and summer vegetables.

Cook 6 oz gobbetti pasta according to package instructions - although the original called for the spiral-shaped cavatappi, I still can't find a vegan version of that, so I use Bionaturae's spiral-shaped gobbetti. ( In the last minute of cook time, add 1/2 cup (1-inch) slices of asparagus and 1/4 fresh shelled green peas. Although the original recipe didn't call for it, I also added 1/2 cup slices carrot, since they were yet another gift from my friend's garden, and i figured the more vegetables the merrier.

Drain, then rinse under running cold water and drain again before transferring to a large bowl. Add a teaspoon and a half of olive oil and toss to coat.

Add: 1/2 cup (halved) red cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup (halved) yellow cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped yellow squash, and a teaspoon and a half chopped fresh chives.

Note: I couldn't find yellow cherry tomatoes, but one regular yellow tomato, seeded and chopped to equal half a cup worked just as well.

In a small bowl, combine a tablespoon and a half olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and one and a half minced garlic cloves (or two small ones). Pour over the pasta mixture, and toss well to combine.

You can serve this either at room temperature or chilled. Have two cups worth for 340 calories.

A note on shelling peas - this was the first time that I did not opt for the easy way out - packaged frozen peas - and bought snap peas to shell. So I didn't realize how many it would take even to produce a quarter cup! I bought about 20 peas, which yielded maybe half what I needed, so when you're grocery shopping for this recipe, don't underestimate.

asparagus $4.35
green peas $1.40
red cherry tomatoes $2.49
yellow tomato $1.76
red bell pepper $1.81
yellow bell pepper $1.44
orange bell pepper $1.16
yellow squash $0.79
chives $2.99
lemon $0.79

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spinach and 'Gruyere' Tart in a Three-Pepper Crust

This tart makes a very hearty vegan entree, almost like a quiche but without the eggs. It does require quite a bit of time, so don't make this on a busy night! I recommend having a chilled bottle of Beaujolais on hand and sipping a glass or two while you cook...

Start out with the crust: in a food processor, combine one cup flour (spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with a knife), 1/2 tsp. salt and a 1/4 tsp. each of three types of pepper - ground black, ground white, and ground red. Pulse a couple of times. Add 3 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), chilled and cut into small pieces. Pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs (about 4-5 times).

Pour the mixture into a bowl and add four and a half tablespoons ice water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with your fingers. Don't form a ball, even though it's tempting to do so! (To make ice water, just fill a bowl with cold tap water and add ice cubes so it is extra chilled).

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times, then place on plastic wrap and pat into a 4-inch circle. Cover with the plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Place two sheets of plastic wrap on a lightly dampened surface. Place the chilled dough on top of that, then top with two additional sheets of plastic wrap. Through the wrap, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 10-inch circle. (I know this sounds complicated, but it makes perfectly intuitive sense once you're doing it). Place the dough in the plastic wrap in the freezer for 5 minutes. 5 minutes later, remove one layer of plastic wrap. Place the crust (uncovered-side down) in a 9-inch pie tin coated with cooking spray. Remove the remaining plastic wrap, and press the dough to fill in the bottom and sides of the pan. Line the bottom of the crust with a layer of parchment paper, and top that with pie weights. If you don't have pie weights (which I do not), dried beans work in a pinch (which I have) - sprinkle in enough to completely cover the bottom of the crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes; the crust will be a light golden brown. When it comes out of the oven, carefully remove the parchment paper and pie weights/dried beans, and cool completely on a wire rack.

While it's baking and cooling, prepare the filling!

To start, bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 4 yukon gold potatoes (1lb. total) and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Let cool, then slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and cook 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water and one 10-oz bag fresh spinach. Cover and cook until the spinach wilts (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool.

Once everything cools down, assemble the tart: spoon half the spinach mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top with half the potato slices, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 cup grated 'cheese'. Instead of gruyere, I used the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods. Repeat the layers with the rest of the spinach mixture, the rest of the potato slices and another 1/4 tsp. salt. Although the recipe didn't call for it, I added about a 1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon here, since that is another one of the goodies currently in my fridge from my friend's garden - it added a great touch!

Next, the original recipe called to pour in an 8-oz container of egg substitute. Since even egg substitute is made with real eggs, make 8-oz worth of vegan egg replacer instead, such as Ener-G. Pour over the tart. Finally, top it all with an additonal 1/4 cup grated 'cheese'.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before slicing. You'll have 6 wedges of 260 calories.

If I were to do this over again, I would make sure to wrap the crust up over the lip of the baking tin. By not doing so, my crust shrank back slightly in the baking process, and was thus harder to fill. It still tasted great, but wasn't quite as aesthetically-pleasing!

yukon gold potatoes $1.03
onion $0.86
fresh spinach $2.50

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'Smoked Mozzarella', Spinach, and Pepper 'Omelet' Sandwiches

I'm finally daring to try something I've been curious about for a long time - the vegan omelet. Sure, eggs are easily replaceable in baking with egg substitute and tofu makes a good stand-in for a scrambled egg. But how to make an omelet??

Well, tonight I turn to another vegan blogger, at My fellow vegan posted an ingenious recipe for an omelet that mimics the real thing, so I borrow from her here. Tonight's original recipe called for 6 egg whites and 3 eggs to make the omelet. To replace that, you're going to use: one 12-oz package silken tofu, two tablespoons nutritional yeast, two tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 tsp. turmeric for color. Add to that 2 tablespoons plain soy milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and a dash of hot sauce. Blend until smooth in a food processor or blender and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Saute 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper and 3/4 cup chopped onion for 4 minutes. Here is where you were supposed to add the "eggs". Pour in the tofu batter, spreading to about 8 inches, and use a spatula to smooth the surface. Scoop the red peppers and onions up into the filling if you need to (the veggies tended to gather around the edges of the pan once I poured in the "eggs"). Fatfreevegan's recipe said to cook for two minutes, covered, after having reduced the heat to low. I doubled that to four minutes, since I had doubled her original "omelet" recipe, and I have to confess, mine still didn't set the way her version did, nor did it look quite so much like real eggs. To be honest, the taste was more akin to egg salad, but since I haven't eaten egg salad in over ten years, maybe that's faulty memory on my part! The bottom line is, it did set enough to make this recipe still work, so don't sweat it if, after four minutes, your 'omelet' isn't completely omelet-y. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the meantime, take 4 English muffins - the original called for sourdough, but I couldn't find a vegan version of those, so used Whole Foods' 365 brand of plain English muffins. Divide each in half, and place all eight halves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top each half with one tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese - I used the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods, which, okay, doesn't quite have the flavor of smoked mozzarella, but close enough. Broil for one minute until the "cheese" starts to melt.

Now assemble your sandwiches. On each muffin bottom, place a quarter of the 'omelet' (a spatula comes in handy here to transfer from skillet to muffin). Divide a cup and a half of pre-bagged spinach leaves evenly among the four muffins, then top with the muffin tops. One sandwich is 300 calories, and tada! Your very own vegan Egg McMuffin sandwich.

Finally, on an unrelated note, I'm still enjoying the bounty from my friend's backyard garden. One delightful surprise was kaffir lime leaves, which I've read about but never used. I know they're supposed to work great in stir-fries, and I may try that in the next couple days, but in the meantime, I found this quick summer refresher online: for every liter of water, add eight kaffir lime leaves (make a few tiny tears in each leaf to release their flavor). Let stand about an hour, then remove the leaves and serve - add a little sugar and it tastes almost like limeade!

plain soy milk $1.49
12-oz silken tofu $2.19
nutritional yeast $4.49
red bell pepper $1.81
English muffins $2.09
'mozzarella' $3.39
packaged spinach $2.50

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil

These little grilled flatbreads make for a delicious bite - a little bit bread basket, a little bit salad all in one! The original recipe called for topping it with plum tomatoes and regular basil, but for a variation, try using cucumbers and lemon basil: my friend just shared some of each with me from her backyard garden (right in New York!) So of course I had to try a variety with not just the plum tomatoes but with thin slices of the cucumbers she gave me. The lemon basil she gave me worked really wonderfully on the tops instead of regular basil - delicious!

For starters, make the dough. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 flour, 1/4 warm water (100 to 110 degrees - I suggest using a thermometer for accuracy), and one individual packet yeast (about two and a quarter teaspoons). Stir with a whisk and let stand 30 minutes.

The recipe called for bread flour, which I couldn't find at the supermarket. Bread flour is made of barley flour, which helps the yeast work, and also has a higher gluten level than all-purpose flour, which produces a chewier end result (i.e. it's great for pizzas and breads - not so great in cakes). However, all-purpose flour will work in a pinch, or, as I used here, all-purpose whole wheat flour.

After 30 minutes, add 2 cups more flour, another 1/2 cup of warm water, one tablespoon olive oil, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. The original recipe said to add an additional tablespoon of bread flour, but with my whole wheat flour, I judged that it didn't need it.

When you're done kneading (remember: punch, fold, quarter-turn, repeat!) place the dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray (turning to coat the top), cover and let rise for one hour until doubled in size.

While the bread rises, prepare the topping for the flatbreads. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; stir with a whisk. Add 4 cups (1/4-inch thick) slices of plum tomato and toss to coat. (As mentioned above, here's where you could substitute cucumber slices for some of the tomatoes!) Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the dough has doubled, divide it into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a 6-inch circle (cover the remaining dough in between to prevent it from drying), and place the circles on a lightly floured baking sheet so they don't stick to the counter or anything as you roll out all the other pieces! Over a prepared grill, grill each flatbread for about two minutes on each side.

Of course, I'm not grilling in my apartment - by all means, if you have access to a grill and a backyard, prepare the grill in advance to medium-high heat and use the real McCoy. If you're indoors like me, pull out your trusty grill pan, heat it over medium-high heat on the stove, coat it with cooking spray and voila! You'll get those same lovely grill lines along the bread and (maybe) no one will know the difference.

Once you've grilled your flatbreads, top each with 1/2 cup of the tomato and/or cucumber slices. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons regular or lemon basil. Each of the eight flatbreads is 180 calories.

Here's a picture of the variation!

olive oil $12.99 (yes once in a while I have to buy a new bottle for the pantry!)
plum tomatoes $3.06
basil $3.49
cucumbers and lemon basil - gift of a friend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fresh Orange Sorbet with Bittersweet Chocolate

Thanks to yesterday's cake, now I have a lot of leftover oranges, but luckily I know exactly what I want to do with them. At least once or twice a summer I like to pull out my ice cream maker and whip up my own batch of sorbet or soy ice cream.

For this recipe, squeeze the juice from fresh oranges to equal one and a half cups (about 6 small oranges). Combine with 1/2 cup raw sugar in a large bowl, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 4 oranges (which you have sectioned and chopped) and one cup water.

Now freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. I use the ice cream maker GVS 1 from Krups. It works great, but the one trick to remember is that you have to freeze the freezer bowl of the machine for 24 hours before pouring in the sorbet mix. So plan ahead for this one!

Anyway, the freezing process should take about 6-12 hours. Come time to serve, scoop a cup of the sorbet into each of 6 bowls. Shave one ounce of bittersweet chocolate and divide evenly among the tops of each serving (the dark chocolate from the Endangered Species line is certified vegan! But as a rule, most dark chocolate shouldn't have any butter or milk in it and should pass the test). 150 calories per serving.

dark chocolate $3.99

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Orange Yogurt Cake (Bizcocho de Naranja)

Know anyone with a summer birthday? I'm sure you do! In which case, try making them this fresh, fruit-flavored cake (based on a Spanish recipe)and it means everyone gets to have a slice, vegan and non-vegan alike.

First, bring 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice to a simmer over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Definitely use fresh orange juice for this (about 4 oranges), and not store-bought juice. Add 1/8 tsp. crushed saffron threads, then remove from heat and let stand ten minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife), 1 and a half teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place one cup raw sugar and the equivalent of 2 eggs made from egg replacer (such as Ener-G). The original recipe called for one egg and one egg white, but simply using egg replacer for two eggs seems to have done the trick. Beat at medium speed with a mixer for a full five minutes (the mixture will become a little thick). Beat in 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy). Then gradually add 6 tablespoons olive oil and the orange juice mixture, beating until combined.

Add the flour mixture in two separate batches, beating each time until just combined. Spoon the batter into a 9-inch cake pan coated with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool the cake on the wire rack until completely cooled.

Once cool, transfer to a platter. To make the cake glaze, combine 3 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade and one tablespoon grand marnier liqueur in a sauacepan - bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Strain the mixture through a sieve directly on top of the cake, and spread to cover evenly. Discard the solids in the sieve.

Divide the cake into 12 edges (240 calories each). Top with berries for a pretty presentation!

oranges $3.99
plain soy yogurt $0.99
orange marmalade $4.99

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

Another simple side dish that lets the fresh produce of summer shine through - this one would work nicely with that corn pizza from a couple nights ago, if you have leftovers!

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add a pound and a half trimmed, fresh green beans to the pot, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes until the beans are tender. Drain and pat dry.

In a medium skillet, heat one and a half tablespoons olive oil and one and a half tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium heat. Add one minced garlic clove and saute 30 seconds. Add the green beans, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper. Cook two minutes. Remove from heat and toss with two tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.

You'll have about 6 servings of 3/4 cups (50 calories) from this recipe.

green beans $1.89
parlsey $1.49

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Squash Chowder

I know, I know - soup doesn't always come to mind in the summer. But I see everyone else eating that time-treasured summer favorite of my childhood - clam chowder - and get a little jealous. So here's an all veggie version that means you won't miss out!

Dice 5 cups yellow summer squash (about 1 and a half pounds), and combine in a Dutch oven along with 1 cup fresh corn kernels (again, why use the frozen stuff at this time of year? You'll need about 2 ears), one cup chopped yellow bell pepper, 1/2 cup chopped vidalia onion and one 14-oz can of vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool before pureeing it in a blender, in separate batches so as not to overfill the blender.

Return the pureed mixture to the pot, and add 1 and 3/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper (cue the mortar and pestle...). Cook over low heat until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

Six, one-cup servings of 100 calories. This would be delicious alongside the beet salad from yesterday's post!

yellow squash $2.85
fresh corn $2.99
yellow bell pepper $1.72
vidalia onion $0.83
vegetable broth $1.19

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tossed Greens and Beets with Pistachio Dressing

A light summer salad that would make a good lunch or a side serving at dinner. Bonus points: it requires absolutely zero stove top or oven on a hot day!

In a food processor, blend together 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons pistachios, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 2 tablespoons agave nectar (the vegan equivalent of honey), a dash of salt and 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper. Process until smooth, cover and chill.

Don't waste your time - or the heat! - roasting fresh beets for this recipe. Instead, take advantage of canned beets. Drain a 15-oz can of sliced beets, and chill the beets until you're ready to mix together the salad.

When ready to serve, toss 8 cups torn curly leaf lettuce and 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion with the pistachio dressing. Serve 1 cup lettuce on each of six plates, and top each serving with about 5 beet slices. Each of the six servings is 100 calories, but you can double, triple this recipe etc. if making a main course out of the salad.

pistachios $7.49
curly leaf lettuce $1.93
red onion $1.21
canned beets $0.99

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roasted Fresh Corn, Poblano, and 'Cheddar' Pizza

This pizza is made easier thanks to pre-made refrigerated pizza dough. Believe it or not, the Pillsbury version of this product is vegan - if you don't believe me, it makes the list on PETA's "I can't believe it's vegan" website - and if it's good enough for PETA, it's good enough for me.

Before you get to the pizza crust, though, prep the topping. Preheat the oven to broil and broil two whole poblano chiles for ten minutes, turning half way through. Remove from oven and seal in zip-lock plastic bags for ten minutes, then discard the skins, stems, and seeds and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray. Add 2 cups fresh corn kernels, 1/2 cup sliced green onions and one minced garlic clove. Sure, you could use pre-packaged frozen corn for this recipe, but it's the perfect time of year to shuck fresh corn on the cob and slice the kernels right off. You'll need about 3-4 ears to get 2 cups of kernels.

Saute all that for two minutes. Add 1/2 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) and cook another 2 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg substitute (such as Ener-G) to equal 3 'eggs'. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, the corn mixture, the chopped poblanos, and 1 cup shredded 'cheddar cheese' (such as the cheddar block from Galaxy Foods). Stir to combine.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (disclaimer: I had none, and luckily this didn't seem to make any difference in ease when it came time to remove the pizza from the baking sheet, so don't sweat it). Pour out your 13.8 oz can refrigerated pizza dough onto the parchment paper.

I will say this for the Pillsbury brand - it may be vegan, but I had to wrestle with this damn stuff. It did not want to be formed into a 13x8 inch rectangle. The result is that my pizza came out a bit misshapen, but the taste was the same!

Anyway, if you can, shape your dough into a 13x8 inch rectangle by patting it. Pour the corn mixture evenly over the top. Fold one inch of dough up over the edges of the mixture to create a crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes, until set.

Slice into 6 squares when it's done. Top each with a one teaspoon dollop of sour cream and one teaspoon diced cilantro. Each slice of pizza is 340 calories.

poblano chiles $1.15
fresh corn $2.99
green onions $0.98
soy milk $2.00
'cheddar' cheese $3.39
refrigerated pizza dough $3.09
cilantro $1.99

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Strawberries with Crunchy Almond Topping

The biggest vegan challenge that this recipe posed was the amaretti cookies for which it called. Amaretti are a traditional Italian almond cookie, but they also contain egg whites. Luckily, Whole Foods did not let me down. On the shelves I found almond cookies from Joseph's, without any animal ingredients:

4 to 8 hours ahead of time, slice strawberries to equal 3 cups. Place in a medium bowl along with 1/4 cup raw sugar and 1 tablespoon amaretto (almond flavored liqueur). Cover and refrigerate.

When it's time to serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the strawberry mixture into each of 3 dessert bowls. Crumble one almond cookie (amaretti) over each serving, and top with one tablespoon of vegan sour cream (such as the one from Tofutti: When the cookie crumbles mix with the sour cream it tastes like powdered sugar - yum!

Each serving is 210 calories.

More importantly, however, is the reason that I made a dessert recipe tonight; I had dinner at an Indian restaurant with a - drumroll please - vegan section to it's menu. I was thrilled! So I highly recommend that all vegans high to Chola Restaurant in NYC on East 58th street.

strawberries $4.99
amaretto $2.50
almond cookies $5.29

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spinach and 'Cheese'-Stuffed Portobello Caps

As any vegan probably knows, the meaty texture of portobello mushrooms is so rich and dense that they make a very satisfying - sometimes deceptively so - entree. One time, an old roommate of mine walked in while I was frying portobello caps over the stove and asked, "Who's cooking steak?"!

For this entree, take 4 large portobello mushroom caps; remove the stems and scrape out the black gills with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and sprinkle with an 1/8 tsp. salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.

While they bake, prepare the filling in a medium bowl. The original recipe used one cup ricotta, but here, I crumbled firm tofu to equal one cup. To that, add 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, a dash of black pepper and another 1/8 tsp. of salt. Add one 10-oz package of frozen spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed thoroughly dry), and 1/3 cup chopped, bottled roasted red pepper. (You can find pre-bottled roasted peppers near the olives in grocery stores, or roast your own at home).

Divide the mixture evenly among the 4 mushroom caps. Top evenly with 3/4 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup shredded 'mozzarella' cheese (use the Vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods). Finish it all off by sprinkling evenly with 1/2 tsp. dried oregano. Return the pan to the oven and bake another 8 minutes at 400 degrees. For a final minute and a half of cooking, increase the temperature to 'broil' so the 'cheese' gets crisp on top.

Two of the caps are a filling vegan entree of 310 calories.

portobello caps $7.98
firm tofu $1.49
frozen spinach $2.99
bottled red peppers $5.99
tomato sauce $0.69
'mozzarella' cheese $3.39

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Basic Pot of Pole Beans

Pole beans are exactly what they sound like - beans grown on a pole instead of on a bush. Longer and flatter than regular green beans, they make a great variation on this standard summer veggie. I admit I had a bit of trouble tracking them down - am wondering, perhaps, if they are more common down South? - but I did find some at the Greenmarket in Union Square. My friend also grows them in her own Brooklyn backyard! If you, too, can track down this delicious variety of bean, here's a simple way to prepare them.

For this recipe, you'll need a pound and a half of pole beans. Trim the edges as you would with regular green beans, and slice them in half since they're awfully long. Set aside

Spray a large Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add 3 slices vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon: and cook about two minutes on each side until crisp. Remove and crumble; set aside.

Add one cup chopped onion to the pan, and cook 3 minutes. Then re-add the 'bacon' crumbles, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, the pole beans, and 3 (14-oz) cans of vegetable broth. Bring it all to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes - the pole beans are tougher than the bush variety as well, so require a longer cooking time.

This recipe makes 8 one-cup servings of 70 calories.

'bacon' $3.19
onion $0.77
broth $3.57
pole beans $9.00

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Three-Pepper Slaw

Serve this side dish alongside the rest of a spread at a Saturday afternoon picnic! Unlike other coleslaws, it's not smothered in mayonnaise or other vegan no-nos.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 a cup thinly sliced red bell pepper, 1/2 a cup thinly sliced green bell pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno pepper, 1/3 cup sliced green onions and one 10-oz package angel hair coleslaw. Angel hair coleslaw is available under the Dole brand, and consists of plain, finely slivered green cabbage. If you can't find it, buy any other company's pre-bagged coleslaw mix and just pick out the carrot bits, leaving only green cabbage behind! Or, if you're willing to put in the effort, you can very finely slice green cabbage yourself to equal 6 cups.

Toss to combine.

For the dressing: whisk together 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, one teaspoon raw sugar, 2 teaspoons canola oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a 1/4 tsp. white pepper. This was another fun opportunity to use my mortar and pestle, since I bought whole white peppercorns and ground them down.

Drizzle the dressing over the slaw, and toss to combine. You'll have 8 servings of 3/4 cup and 30 calories - now pack in Tupperware and head to the beach!

red bell pepper $1.68
green bell pepper $0.87
jalapeno $0.28
angel hair slaw $2.49
white pepper $5.99

Friday, July 11, 2008

Peach Melba with Blackberry Sauce

Summer is the perfect time of year to build a dessert around fresh fruit - take advantage of peaches and blackberries for this one. Make sure to peel, halve and pit the three peaches ahead of time, since once the cooking liquid gets going you need to stir.

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water and half a cup raw sugar over medium heat. Cut a one-inch piece of vanilla bean in half, and scrape the seeds into the pan. Add the vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, and once simmering, cook an additional ten minutes (I assumed I should still stir this whole time).

Add your six peach halves, and simmer 5 minutes just until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon or fork, so you don't lose any liquid, and set aside.

Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to about a 1/4 cup (5 minutes). Remove the vanilla bean and add one cup fresh blackberries. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool the mixture for 5 minutes before pouring it into a food processor or blender and processing until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl and discard the solids.

On each of three plates, scoop 1/2 cup vanilla soy ice cream (such as the low-fat Soy Delicious Vanilla from Turtle Mountain: Top each serving of ice cream with two peach halves and 2 and a half tablespoons blackberry sauce. 290 calories.

vanilla bean $5.99
peaches $2.11
blackberries $2.99
soy vanilla ice cream $3.00

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Veggie Tostadas

This main dish has it all - heart-healthy fats from the avocado, protein from the beans, loads of fresh veggies, and tons of flavor.

Place 2, 10-inch flour tortillas (the recipe called for regular fat-free ones, but use whatever kind you like - there's an abundance of whole wheat or flax tortillas on the market from organic producers now...) on a baking sheet. Broil for one minute on each side.

In a saucepan, heat a 16-oz can refried beans (I like the fat-free refried pinto beans from Whole Foods' 365 brand) over medium heat in a saucepan until warm. The recipe said to add 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce to the beans. A perusal of the ingredient list didn't reveal anything that looked suspicious except sugar, which, may be - although is not necessarily - processed with bone char. Since I couldn't get confirmation one way or another, I can't guarantee that it's vegan, but since 2 tablespoons is not much, skip it all together if you like. The 505 company makes an organic version:

Now top each tortilla with: 1/2 the bean mixture, 1 cup gourmet salad greens, 1/2 cup diced plum tomato, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon chopped ripe (black) olives and a teaspoon and a half chopped bottled jalapeno peppers.

Cut an avocado in half and peel. Cut each half into six wedges. Lay six wedges on top of each tortilla evenly.

Half a tostada is 320 calories.

tortillas $1.69
refried beans $1.19
enchilada sauce $3.39
gourmet greens $4.99
plum tomato $2.59
black olives $2.69
avocado $2.50
bottled jalapeno $0.99

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

'Cheese' and Olive-Stuffed Tomatoes

A fantastic and cute little side dish - I think I've learned that I just love stuffing vegetables.

For this one, cut the tops off four tomatoes (the recipe called for 2 and a 1/4 lbs, mine weighed a little less, at a pound and a half, but things still worked). Discard the tops, and scoop out the pulp; finely chop the pulp and place in a bowl. To the pulp add: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia).

Place the four hulled tomatoes in an 8-inch baking dish. Fill evenly with the pulp mixture. Broil for 2 minutes, and then serve! Each tomato is 80 calories.

tomatoes $2.73
'feta' $4.19

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baked Couscous with Summer Squash and Herbs

A simple dish that could be a side or a main course, depending on serving size.

First, open a 14-oz can of vegetable broth. Pour one cup into a saucepan (set the rest aside for later). Bring the broth to a boil, then gradually stir in 3/4 cup uncooked couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand five minutes, then fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups sliced yellow squash (about 2 small ones), 1/2 cup sliced green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh if you can find it), and one minced garlic clove. Saute for 3 minutes, then set aside.

Here, the recipe called to combine two types of cheese: an ounce of fontina and an ounce of parmesan. Instead, grate 2 ounces of the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods, to equal about 1/2 cup. Set aside.

In the large bowl with the couscous, add the squash mixture, 1/4 cup of your 'cheese', the rest of the can of vegetable broth, 1/4 cup egg substitute, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a dash of black pepper. If you're using Ener-G egg substitute, that's one tablespoon of the powder to 1/4 warm water.

Spoon the mixture into an 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of soy cheese. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, and serve warm.

This will yield six servings of one and a half cups and 170 calories, but as I said, double those portions up to make this a vegan main dish with some veggies on the side.

broth $1.19
couscous $5.69
yellow squash $1.25
green onions $0.99
basil $2.99
vegan cheese $3.39

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fruit Medley with Mint and Lime

Take advantage of the fact that stone fruits - peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums - are in peak season right now, and toss together this delicious combination. You could serve it either as a salad or a dessert.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup halved green grapes, 1 cup halved red grapes, 3 plums (cut into 1/2 inch wedges), 2 peeled peaches (cut into 1/2 inch wedges) and 2 nectarines (cut into 1/2 inch wedges). Cover and chill.

Remove 6, 2-inch strips carefully from 2 limes, being careful not to get too much of the white pith (a vegetable peeler works well). Place the strips in a saucepan along with one cup water, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and 6 mint sprigs (I wasn't sure if a 'sprig' meant one leaf or one little cluster of leaves, so I did a bit of each). Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until it reduces down to 1/2 a cup. Remove the mint and lime strips (discard), and let the mixture cool.

Once cool, add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice and 1 tsp. grated lime rind. An easy way to cut leaves like mint (or basil) is to pile them up, roll them together like a little cigarette, and then slice all at once into strips.

Pour the mint-mixture over the fruit, and toss gently to coat. Spoon 1 cup into each of six bowls, and garnish with additional mint sprigs for a pretty presentation. Each cup is 130 calories.

grapes (red and green) $5.99
plums $1.20
peaches $0.70
nectarines $0.79
limes $1.50
mint $1.99

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Spaghetti with Peppery No-Cook Tomato Sauce

This sauce is perfect for summer because it requires no cooking at all!

The recipe does call for peeling the tomatoes though, and for this you only need to use the boiling water you're preparing for the pasta for about 30 seconds. While the pasta water comes to a boil, slice an X in the bottom of three small tomatoes. Plunge in the boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice and water for a minute. The skin will now peel back easily from along the X. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then chop to equal one cup (you might not need all three tomatoes).

Meanwhile, cook an 8-oz package of spaghetti in the rest of that pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside. I like the spaghetti from De Boles pasta, made of Jerusalem artichoke flour and completely vegan, with the added benefit of having more protein that standard pastas (

Place your chopped tomatoes in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup crumbled 'feta' cheese (such as the soy feta block from Sunergia), 3 tablespoons chopped, pitted kalamata olives, 2 tablespoons capers, 2 and 1/4 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and two diced garlic cloves. Toss together. Add the pasta and toss gently until combined. Serve immediately.

This recipe makes 4 servings of 1 1/3 cups each (330 calories).

spaghetti $1.99
tomatoes $2.84
"feta" $4.19
kalamata olives $6.99

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cornmeal 'Buttermilk' Biscuits

These cornmeal biscuits are a snap to prepare and make a great side dish to a Southern flavored menu – think collard greens and baked beans.

In a medium bowl, combine one cup flour (spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with a knife), 1/2 a cup cornmeal, one and a half tablespoons raw sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir to combine. Cut in 3 tablespoons chilled vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), cut into small pieces, using a pastry blender or the back of a fork. Add 1/2 cup ‘buttermilk’ and stir the dough just until moist.

To make vegan buttermilk, you need to ‘clabber’ regular soy milk, meaning to sour and thicken it. Simply pour one tablespoon lemon juice into a measuring cup. Add soy milk (such as Silk) to equal one cup. Let stand for 10 minutes before using in your recipe.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into an 8x4 inch rectangle. Cut into 8 slices, by making one lengthwise cut and 3 crosswise cuts. Place the slices an inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet and cook at 450 degrees for 12 minutes (the tops will be golden). Serve warm or at room temperature!

Each of the 8 biscuits is 140 calories.


soy milk $1.49

Friday, July 4, 2008

Baked Rice (Arroz al Horno)

Here is another Spanish dish, traditional in the Valencia region - it didn't even occur to me when mapping out recipes for the week ahead that I'd be making it on the Fourth! Oh well, because it comes together in under a half hour, it would be a great side dish to accompany traditional Fourth of July fare for vegans and meat-eaters alike - add a little international spice to your holiday!

In a saucepan, heat 1 and a half tablespoons olive oil (the recipe didn't specify, so I used medium heat). Add 1/3 cup finely chopped shiitake mushroom caps and 2 tablespoons minced onion. Cook for five minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups arborio (risotto) rice, 2 and a half cups vegetable broth, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. crushed saffron threads (for more on this - the world's most expensive spice - see my post on Quick Vegetarian Paella from April).

Bring to a boil. If your saucepan is oven-proof, wrap the handle in foil, cover and transfer to the oven. If your saucepan is not - like mine - transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes, then stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme.

The yield is 6 side servings of 2/3 cup and 110 calories.

shiitake mushrooms 3.99
onion $0.60
arborio rice $3.10
vegetable broth $2.49
saffron $7.99
parsley $1.49

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Haricots Verts with Browned Garlic

Haricots verts - slender French green beans - are a great fresh summer side dish - and simple to prepare on a sultry-hot night!

Pour 2 quarts (8 cups) of water in a large saucepan, along with 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. (Note: the original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of salt here, but I just couldn't - the sodium! I was raised not eating salt, so don't crave it, but add the full two teaspoons if your taste buds demand...). Once boiling, add a pound and a half (about 8 cups) fresh haricots verts. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then drain.

In a large skillet, melt 4 teaspoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic and 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots - cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. I know that sounds like a lot of garlic, but the flavor will mellow quickly as it cooks. If ever there was a time to buy the pre-peeled garlic in the prepared produce section of your grocery store, this is it. Otherwise, figure on using about a whole head.

Add the beans, 1/4 tsp. more salt, 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary and a dash of black pepper. Cook another 4 minutes.

The yield is 8, one-cup servings, 60 calories each.

haricots verts $7.70
peeled garlic $2.47
shallot $0.40

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grape-Black Cumin Flatbread

A few slices of this almost pizza-like flatbread make a great dinner with a salad on the side, or would be a good appetizer for a crowd.

The recipe takes a long time, but more than half of it is idle time when the dough will be rising, so make this on a night you have other stuff to do around the house/apartment!

First, dissolve one packet (two and a half teaspoons, if you don't have the individual packets) of yeast in 1 and 1/4 cups warm water. For accuracy, check the temp with a candy thermometer - it should be between 100 and 110 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife) and 2 tbsp. raw sugar. Stir until combined (it will be very sticky), then cover and let stand in a place free from drafts for one hour. In bread making, this is called a sponge (it will rise and have bubbles). "Sponges" were used back in the days of homemade bread baking. They add both flavor and texture to the finished bread.

After one hour, add an additional cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp. black cumin seeds to your sponge, stirring in gently. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic (about 8 minutes). As previously stated in my June recipe for Olive and Caramelized Onion Tart, kneading consists of these three steps: punch, fold, turn a quarter turn. For more complete instructions, see that post. After kneading, shape the dough back into a ball. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside, turning so the top is coated with cooking spray too. Cover and let rise in a place free from drafts for one hour.

A note on the black cumin seeds: this recipe was from a historical bit about President Thomas Jefferson in my cooking magazine, and the kinds of foods he cultivated in his garden - he was apparently quite the foodie in his day! One item was black cumin seeds, known then as Nutmeg Plant. I bought mine at my local Indian spice store, but if you can't find them, you can substitute poppy seeds, caraway seeds or sesame seeds in a pinch.

After that hour of rising, punch the dough down and let rest 5 minutes. Then turn onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead in 2/3 cup grape halves. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Be careful on this step; I found that the grapes made the dough a bit mushy since the grapes got a little squished. Ultimately, it didn't effect the outcome!

After 10 minutes, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet that you have sprinkled with an additional teaspoon cornmeal. Gently pat it into a 14x10 inch rectangle (about the size of the whole sheet) - again, be careful of those grapes! Brush the top with one tablespoon olive oil. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Phew finally just a couple finishing touches. Sprinkle with an additional 1/2 tsp. black cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp. salt (use kosher salt if you want crunchier texture). Spread an additional 1/3 cup grape halves evenly over the dough, pressing in gently.

Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. Loosen the bread from the pan with a spatula. And now enjoy the fruits of your labor, as you can imagine Jefferson doing 3 centuries or so ago. Cut the flatbread into 12 slices, each of which is 190 calories.

yeast $2.69
all-purpose flour $3.39
cornmeal $2.49
black cumin seeds $3.75
red grapes $3.59

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Spiced Peaches in Crisp Phyllo Pastry (Bric de Melocoton Perfumado)

A great dessert rendered vegan with a little help from some vegan phyllo dough. Available at Whole Foods, the phyllo dough from Fillo Factory is not just vegan, but kosher, trans-fat free and cholesterol free - phew! Just make sure to thaw the frozen phyllo beginning the morning you want to make this recipe - it takes up to 8 hours, so don't get caught off guard.

Also, this recipe was featured in my cooking magazine under a feature on Spanish cuisine. I did some google-searching to see if this type of Spanish peach tart is a traditional dessert, but couldn't turn anything up. Oh well!

In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup raw (vegan) sugar and 3 tablespoons white grape juice. Cook over high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly (it will bubble and turn a light gold).

Remove from heat and add 5 more tablespoons white grape juice, 1/2 cup riesling or other sweet white wine, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind, 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 whole cloves, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 4 cups coarsley chopped, peeled peaches and cook until thick, stirring frequently. The original recipe said this would take about 25 minutes, but for me it was about 10 minutes more than that (note: I had the same problem when making cherry preserves back in June, so maybe it's something about the way I make jams and jam-like fillings!)

Cool for one hour - have a nice glass of that riesling in the interim :) As I've mentioned before, I managed to track down the information the Chateau St. Michelle's riesling is vegan (although their other whites aren't!)

You'll now need twelve sheets of 14x9 phyllo. Since the one from Fillo Factory is sold in 14x18 sheets, double up 6 instead. Working one sheet at a time on a flat work surface, coat the top of the phyllo lightly with cooking spray, then top with another sheet of phyllo. Repeat with cooking spray and remaining phyllo until you have 12 layers.

Spoon the peach filling along one long edge of phyllo, leaving a two-inch border. Fold the short sides up over the filling. Starting from the long side, roll the phyllo up jelly-roll fashion, but not too tightly, or your phyllo might crack. Place, seam-side-down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Scour 5 slits along the top of the pastry at even intervals so you'll have six even slices. Coat the top with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until lightly golden on top.

Dust the top with 1 tsp. powdered sugar, and cut into 6 slices along your pre-made slits. Yum!

white grape juice $3.99
riesling $16.99
lemon $0.79
peaches $5.77
phyllo dough $3.69

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance