Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ramp Pasta with Fava Beans

Dinner 4/30

Ramp Pasta with Fava Beans

Back to the test kitchen for another flavored pasta, this time with our favorite springtime vegetable, ramps!

We started off by grilling the stems and leaves brushed with a mix of olive oil and tamari...

The ramps were chopped up (about a 1/3 cup) and then pureed in the vita-mix along with 2 tbs. of water and 1/4 cup of soy sour cream -- this was to give the vita-mix enough volume to break the ramps down. The wet ingredients were added to 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbs. egg replacer and kneaded into a dough on a lightly floured surface for 5-7 minutes until the dough became smooth. We wrapped the dough in plastic and put it in the fridge until dinner time.

Liz rolled the dough out and let it rest for a few minutes, then finished rolling it out to about 1/8" thick. Then, using a pizza wheel, the dough was cut into fettuccine-size noodles.

The noodles were dropped in a pot of boiling, salted water until they floated to the top, about 2 minutes. They were drained and immediately dropped into the saute pan.

Normally, the sauce would start with shallots and garlic, but we really wanted the ramp flavor to be the focal point, so we kept the sauce simple -- 1/4 cup white wine, reduced by half, then add 2 tbs. Earth Balance, 1 tbs. nutritional yeast and salt & pepper to taste. The sauce was heated through long enough that the nutritional yeast got a little browned, which added a nice toasted note.

The dish was topped by another springtime favorite, Fava Beans.

The end result was fantastic -- the ramps were the star of the dish, and really shone through. The fava beans added a nice textural & flavor compliment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cherry-Smoked Eggplant Po' Boy with Cole Slaw

Dinner 4/27

Cherry-Smoked Eggplant Po' Boy with Cole Slaw

Grilled Okra

A slight riff on our recipe, smoking the eggplant with cherry wood and adding the spices to the flour, instead of the breadcrumbs.

Eggplant Po' Boys

Start by peeling, cubing (about 1/2") and cherry-smoking the eggplant for 20 minutes. Then coat the eggplant in batches using the three-pan method.

Pan 1: 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour seasoned with 2 tsp. of smoked paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Pan 2: A cornstarch slurry (1 tbs. cornstarch and 2 tbs. of cold water).

Pan 3: A mix of 1/3 cup of cornmeal and 2/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs, 2 tbs. of nutritional yeast, stirred to combine.

Then, deep-fry the eggplant, working in batches, in 385F peanut oil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, remove and drain on a wire rack or paper towels.

They were served on a hollowed out bun along with hot sauce (optional) & cole slaw and grilled okra (not shown).

The okra was marinated in a 2:1 mixture of melted soy margarine & tamari, then basted occasionally on the grill with the leftover marinade. You want to make sure the okra is blackened in spots and is cooked through completely.

Saveur has made a terrible mistake!

We’ve been named a finalist in the “Best Special-Interest Blog” category in’s 2011 Best Food Blog Awards.

No, I’m not quite sure what that means or how that happened either, but we're very grateful. ;)

If you’d like to see the other nominees and/or vote for us, here’s the link.

voting closes May 12 and it looks like you’ll need to sign-up to be able to vote, takes about 30 seconds

Update: From Saveur: "For now, international voters should select USA or Canada as their country, and proceed from there."

Also, here's one of the desserts (Passion Fruit Cheesecake) we made for Easter but didn't shoot that day -- because we were so full! ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hickory-Smoked Tofu with Collard Greens and Morel Mushrooms, Puff Pastry Horns with Grilled Asparagus, Braised Carrots, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Easter Dinner 4/24

Hickory-Smoked Tofu stuffed with Collard Greens and topped with Morel Mushrooms

Puff Pastry Horns filled with Grilled Asparagus and Bechamel Sauce

Braised Carrots

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

For me, Easter dinner really marks that transition between winter and spring foods -- but this April has been cold and very, very rainy -- and our ramps haven't done so well. There wasn't that much else out there this year, but we did manage to find some nice asparagus & morels.

The block of tofu was cut into six cutlets (rather than the usual eight pieces), hickory-smoked for 25 minutes, then pan-fried until golden brown on both sides -- about 5-6 minutes per side, then splashed with tamari and allowed to cook another 1 minute per side. After the tofu had rested for five minutes, a slit was cut in the side of the tofu creating a small pocket, where the cooked collard greens (shredded, cooked in olive oil, with shallots, garlic, pepper and tamari) were gently added. Ten minutes before dinner, the stuffed tofu was put in a 350F oven to finish cooking through. Once plated, it was topped with Morel Mushrooms (cut in rings, sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper).

A couple of weeks ago, we were looking for our cone-shaped pastry molds (a.k.a. cream horn molds), but couldn't find them. So we called around and finally found a set in Aurora at Le Gourmet Chef. The puff pastry was cut into strips, which were wrapped around the cone as shown.

Here they are coming out of a 350F oven after 15 minutes, ready to be filled with the grilled asparagus.

Here's the asparagus plated, right before the bechamel sauce (roux, shallot, rice milk, salt, pepper and thyme) was added.

Finishing the plate out was braised carrots.

Of course, it's not Easter unless there are extra pictures of the table decorations. ;)

Table Right


Bunny and Lilies

Chick with Straw Boater Hat.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Dinner 4/22


We took another run at the crostini tonight (also made, but not shown, blini with beet caviar).

I cut the bread into small rounds and used the smallest ice cream disher we had to put the mixture on top -- then baked it for 15 minutes at 350F.

The mix was diced & fried seitan sausages (leftover from Vegan Iron Chef), minced & sauteed shallots and garlic, raw arugula (stems removed), soy cream cheese, Daiya Mozzarella, nooch, salt & pepper.

The amounts are up to you, but we tried to balance the sausage and arugula with just enough cream cheese and Daiya to hold it all together so it won't completely melt in the oven.

The end result is a nice one-bite appetizer that goes well with champagne or red wine -- and yes, we tested it with both ;)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mac 'n Cheese with Green Beans and Morel Mushrooms

Dinner 4/21

Mac 'n Cheese with Green Beans and Morel Mushrooms

Bringing back our son's Mac 'n Cheese recipe with a few tweaks, this time topped with green beans and sauteed morel mushrooms.

Mac 'n Cheese
(makes 4 really big portions or 6 regular sized)

1 package pasta, cooked (we used elbow macaroni, but fusilli or farfalle also work)

2 tbs. soy margarine
2 tbs. AP flour
2 cups of plain soy/rice milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. of fresh nutmeg (use a microplane to zest)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

8 oz Daiya Cheddar

Over med-high heat, melt the soy margarine, add the flour and make a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it bubbles and turns a nice golden color. Add the soy milk slowly, whisking quickly to avoid lumps. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens about 4-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, zested nutmeg, nutritional yeast and whisk to incorporate.

Add the Daiya, stir until melted, add the cooked pasta to combine.

Check for seasoning.

You can either eat it right now or place the pasta into a lightly greased (with soy margarine) Au Gratin dish or 6oz. ramekin. Sprinkle extra nutritional yeast on top (to taste) or bread crumbs (or both).

Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Turnip and Seitan Sausage Pintxo

Dinner 4/20

Turnip and Seitan Sausage Pintxo

Part III of "The Plate That Never Was"

I'll admit the secret ingredient at Vegan Iron Chef surprised us -- we were thinking something more seasonal and turnips don't exactly scream "Spring!" ;)

Though we've never made this before, after making the patatas bravas in potato ball form recently, it seemed like a simple enough lateral move, and the recipe translated perfectly.

The turnip balls were scooped out using a melon baller and smoked for 15 minutes. The balls were placed in a small pan and covered with cold water. The water was brought to a boil, and the turnips cooked for exactly 2 minutes. We drained the water, removed the turnips and dried the pan off. Then we added 1 tbs. of olive oil over med-high heat and cooked the balls, rolling them constantly to get all of the surface browned -- about 4-5 minutes. Next, off heat, we deglazed the pan with 1 tbs. of red wine vinegar -- careful! -- you don't want to inhale any of the fumes. Finally, back on the heat, we seasoned it with salt, pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika and kept turning the pan to evenly coat the balls.

The turnip balls were placed on the spike ("Pintxo") with a piece of homemade seitan sausage (cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked paprika), which was hickory-smoked.

The turnips added a complexity to this savory one-bite dish that really made it "pop" in the mouth. I think we'll make something like this for the annual holiday party this year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mushroom, Quinoa and Turnip Mini-Cheeseburger

Dinner 4/19


Here's Part II of our Vegan Iron Chef plate that wasn't: mini-burgers (a.k.a. sliders) with smoked portobello mushrooms, red quinoa, zucchini, onion, garlic and grated turnips (the mystery ingredient), which added a delightful peppery note.

It was topped with Daiya (the other required ingredient). The purple disk on the center of the burger is a quick turnip pickle (cut about 1/8" thick on the mandoline, then cut into a smaller round with a cookie cutter and put into a mix of vinegar, water, sugar, salt & beet juice). Liz brushed the buns with a little Earth Balance near the end of baking and sprinkled on sesame seeds.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Polenta Mini-Bundt Cake with Turnip Greens

Dinner 4/18

Polenta Mini-Bundt Cake with Turnip Greens

About the only good thing about missing Vegan Iron Chef yesterday is that we now have plenty of food for the rest of the week. ;)

The mystery ingredient was turnips (and their greens). Here's one element of the final plating we were going to make -- you saw the polenta mini-bundt cakes the other day, but this how it was going to be finished in the Chinese soup spoon with the cooked greens (shredded, cooked with olive oil, garlic, pepper and tamari).

The polenta was smoked and finished with Earth Balance, Daiya, salt & pepper and poured into the mold to set up in the fridge for 20 minutes. It was finished by sprinkling smoked paprika on top.

Vegan Iron Chef III

Normally, this post would be pointing out our traditional third-place finish at Vegan Iron Chef, but this year was a little different...

About 10am, as we were about to load up the car with the food & cooking gear, our son took a tumble down the basement steps and smacked his head. The good news is there were no broken bones, no sprains and no concussion. The bad news is he has two pretty nasty abrasions -- one near his eye and one on his chin.

Needless to say, we stayed home to make sure he was going to be OK. We were bummed to miss the competition, but grateful that his injuries weren't worse...

Here's what we missed yesterday:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eggplant Panini, Chocolate Ganache Tart with Sea Salt topped with Whipped Cream and Raspberries

Dinner 4/13

Eggplant Panini


Chocolate Ganache Tart with Sea Salt topped with Whipped Cream and Raspberries

We picked up a pair of lovely graffiti eggplants from Kent Natural Foods the other day and cut them lengthwise about 1/4" thick slices. They were hickory-smoked for 15 minutes, then brushed with an olive oil, tamari, tomato paste, pepper and agave mixture and grilled. The sandwich was layered with Daiya Mozzarella, the grilled eggplant and tomato sauce and then fried in a cast-iron grill pan with another (heated) cast-iron pan used on top as the weight.

For dessert, Liz made another delicious Chocolate Ganache Tart with a cacao nib crust, this time with raspberries on top.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shish Kabobs, Couscous

Dinner 4/11

Shish Kabobs


A simple dinner tonight as we fired up the grill and made shish kabobs with hickory-smoked tofu, red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms with a olive oil, tamari & pepper marinade.

The couscous (1 cup of couscous, 2 cups of hot water, cover five minutes) was seasoned with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pepper & sea salt.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Blini with Beet Caviar, Crostini

Dinner 4/09

Blini with Beet Caviar


Still working away on ideas for the Vegan Iron Chef competition coming up on 4/17. The blini were the vehicle for the beet caviar which really "pop" against the cream cheese mixture and on the palate. The caviar might change depending when the second secret ingredient is revealed.

The crostini were topped with a mix of soy cream cheese, Daiya, diced seitan sausages, arugula, nooch, shallots, garlic, salt & pepper -- we might use this filling for the zucchini lattice balls...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Red Potatoes with Rosemary cooked in a Clay Pot, Polenta Bundt Cakes, Zucchini Lattice

Dinner 4/08

Red Potatoes with Rosemary cooked in a Clay Pot

Polenta Bundt Cakes

Zucchini Lattice

We cleaned out the little cabinets above the fridge today and came across a mini-bundt pan as well as our clay roaster and decided to utilize both for tonight's meal.

The clay pot was soaked in water for a 1/2 hour, dried off and then loaded with the red potatoes, which were tossed with olive oil and toasted garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary. The clay pot was put in a cold oven and brought up to 400F and baked for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. They turned out great!

The mini-bundt pan was loaded up with our usual polenta recipe and chilled for 20 minutes, removed (be sure to oil the pan or they'll stick). They were dusted with a mix of smoked paprika and salt.

Also made the zucchini lattice things again -- no pictures this time though. We're still tweaking the size aspect to make them more "one bite" -- one more iteration ought get us where we need to be for Vegan Iron Chef on the 17th.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Gobi Manchurian, Tofu Triangles, Stir-Fry, Jasmine Rice

Dinner 4/05

Gobi Manchurian

Tofu Triangles


Jasmine Rice

As most of you know, we stopped posting stir-fries a few years back -- mostly because of their ubiquity -- and I also ran out of novel ways of plating them. ;)

But, I thought this one was different enough.

The Gobi Manchurian, is a riff on this recipe. Basically a tempura-like batter with a spicy tomato-based sauce to accompany.

The Tofu Triangles were tea-smoked, marinated in 1 tbs. gin and 1 tbs. tamari, tossed with cornstarch to coat and and deep-fried for 3-4 minutes at 375F until golden brown and puffy.

For the stir-fry we made a quick garlic sauce: garlic, ginger, tamari, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, hoisin and a cornstarch slurry to thicken, which went over the carrot, red bell pepper, broccoli and shiitake mushrooms.

Black Tofu

Why yes, I did have a little too much free time today...

(the font is Friz Quadrata Bold)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Vegan Test Kitchen

Vegan Test Kitchen 4/04

With Vegan Iron Chef III around the corner, we spent the weekend trying out a couple of ideas...

Starting with a zucchini lattice wrapped around tofu ricotta, wrapped in plastic, and steamed to shape. they were about the size of a tennis ball -- we need to get them more golf ball sized.

Hopefully the filling can be modified to accept the secret ingredient.

Next up, a tapas idea, thinly cut beet rounds, marinated in blood orange & olive oil, filled with a mix of soy cheese cream & dill and topped with caviar (somehow you knew that was coming back).

These worked out fine, we just need a slightly bigger beet -- but they're kind of delicate.

Another tapas idea is Patatas Bravas -- unlike the sous-vide version, these potatoes balls were taken out of a large potato with a melon baller, then blanched, drained and rolled (continuously) in a pan with olive oil & Earth Balance. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and then deglazed with red wine vinegar & sherry. I wouldn't change a thing on these.

These will probably be part of a larger skewer.

Finally, it was late and silly (but tasty) things happened.

More to come...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Escarole, Blue Sheese & Shiitake Mushroom Pizza with a Garlic, Rosemary and Marcona Almond Cream Sauce

Dinner 4/02

Escarole, Blue Sheese & Shiitake Mushroom Pizza with a Garlic, Rosemary and Marcona Almond Cream Sauce

It took less time to eat the pizza than it took to say the name ;)

We used Marcona almonds in the cream sauce tonight. The garlic was toasted with the skin on in a dry pan on med-low heat for about 10 minutes until the outer skin started to blacken. Then we slipped the skins off and added the almonds, minced rosemary, olive oil, nooch and barely enough water to make it turn in the vita-mix.

The sauce was spread over the pizza dough and topped with shredded escarole and shiitake mushroom with a little microplaned Blue Sheese on top.

For dessert, we ate most of the goodies from The Akron Vegan Bake Sale for Japan posted below. Nom!

Pictures from the Akron Vegan Bake Sale for Japan

The Akron Vegan Bake Sale for Japan 4/02

The Akron Vegan Bake Sale for Japan was a rousing success, raising $2921.50!

Pics from the big day can be found here.

Here's a few of the goodies we brought home with us...

Chick Cake Pop

Passion Fruit Cheesecake / Blueberry Mini-Cheesecake

Monkey Bread

Citrus Surprise Cupcake

Carrot Cake Cupcake

Green Tea Cupcakes


Coconut Cupcakes

Main Table

Part of the items we purchase from the bake sale...

Here's 2 of the 3 things we made:

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Cacao Nib Crust and topped with Smoked Fleur de Sel

Espresso Cupcakes with Vanilla Caramel Frosting