Archive for the ‘vegan’ Category

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

January 7, 2015

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My sister gave me a stash of cooking magazine to look through and this recipe popped out at me. It is the sort of brilliant recipe that is dead simple and super quick to make, but tastes as complex as a time-consuming complicated recipe.

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Interview with the Authors of Secret Restaurant Recipes (plus recipe for Eggplant Tofu)

December 2, 2014

Secret Restaurant Recipes Cover - HI RES.jpgDisclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes and gave me access to the authors for an interview. Opinions expressed are my own.

The recently released Secret Restaurant Recipes is an especially attractive cookbook: large 9”x9” format, nicely designed layout and lots of photos of beautifully plated food. Add to this the intriguing theme of recipes “from the World’s Top Kosher Restaurants,” and you have my full attention.

Authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek spent a year getting recipes from popular kosher restaurants and then testing them and adapting them for the home cook. In the book, they reveal that “not everyone believed that we’d be able to complete a book like this, and our publisher agreed that if we could, it would be a great accomplishment.”

I asked Victoria and Leah how the challenge of creating this cookbook compared to their work on their earlier cookbooks. Leah explained that the “most difficult part was getting the chefs to give over the recipes. When we wrote our own cookbooks, we could easily go into the kitchen and create a dish. Here, we had to wait to get each recipe. Once it finally came in, we had to test it. If it didn’t test well, we’d have to get back in touch with the chef to perfect it. We couldn’t just make changes on our own, because it had to be authentic.” “Believe it or not,” added Victoria, “tracking down and testing other people’s recipes is way, way more time-consuming that simply writing our own in our kitchens.”

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Mario Batali’s Chilled Tomato and Bread Soup

July 4, 2014

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This recipe is ideal for when it is brutally hot and you just don’t feel like cooking. It is so easy: just puree canned (or fresh) tomatoes with day-old bread, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Swirl in a little olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and scallions and you are done. The complex taste belies the simplicity of the preparation–no one will know you didn’t slave over this.

Don’t expect this to be like gazpacho, which I find to be too spicy and raw onion-ey. This is subtle and mild. The fresh basil absolutely makes this dish, so don’t leave it out.

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Maple Tamari Tofu

June 9, 2014

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The problem with most tofu that I get in restaurants is that  the sauce just sits on the surface of  thick pieces that are flavorless on the inside.

Here is my tricks for getting  flavor all the way into the center of the tofu:

(1) Put salt and pepper on the tofu while it drains. The seasoning works its way into the tofu. The longer the tofu absorbs the seasonings, the more flavor on the inside of the tofu;

(2) Cook the tofu a long time before adding the sauce to drive off excess moisture and make the inside of the tofu a bit spongy; and

(2) Add water to the sauce. If you dilute the sauce, the sauce will soak into the tofu. After it soaks in, then you can boil down the remaining sauce into a thick glaze.

The following maple soy sauce has become my new go-to glaze for tempeh and tofu.

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Chunky Chickpea Guacamole

May 14, 2014

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Chickpea guacamole is everything that is good about guacamole, but with an added extra satisfying heft to it. Serve this with chips as a snack or spread this on whole wheat toast (maybe sprinkled with a little crumbled feta) as a light lunch.

The proportions are not set in stone. You can increase the amount of avocado or increase the amount of chickpeas.

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Paula Wolfert’s Pan Roasted Cauliflower

March 19, 2014

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I love Paula Wolfert and I love cauliflower. Here is a recipe from Paula for cauliflower. What could be better?

As a cookbook writer, Paula has been a visionary, an innovator who was exploring and writing about authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before it was trendy. Her classic book on Moroccan food was published in 1973, and she has promoted the food of the region ever since with a series of acclaimed books such as The Cooking of Southwest France, The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Mediterranean Grains and Greens, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking and, most recently, The Cooking of Morocco (2012 James Beard Award winner for best international cookbook).

Recently, Wolfert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Well, actually, to be precise, she was diagnosed by two different neurologists with either early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or “mild cognitive impairment, a form of dementia that can progress to Alzheimer’s.” In addition to changing her diet by adding in more super foods, she has become an Alzheimer’s activist. This April, she is behind a fundraiser dinner for the cause. The Mediterranean Feast menu will include her pan roasted cauliflower.

As she explained in a PBS segment with Judy Woodruff, Wolfert learned this cauliflower recipe from a well-known chef and cookbook author, Arto der Haroutunian (born in Syria to Armenian parents and then transplanted to England). She likes it because “it is so simple to make.”

This is the basic idea: cook cauliflower in oil in a pot until it gets soft and caramelized. Then add garlic, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts. After that, put in in the oven in an oven-proof casserole. Finally, sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley. It is a nice change of pace from the usual oven-roasted cauliflower and the texture is superior, I think.

Bonus: Here is my version of Wolfert’s recipe for Morshan, chickpeas and greens.

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Tofu Teriyaki

February 3, 2014

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This started off as a fairly complicated recipe from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. The original recipe involved using half the teriyaki sauce for marinating tofu “steaks” and simmering the other half of the marinade with orange juice and sake to make a reduction sauce. The tofu steaks then get baked and served with the reduction over udon noodles with basil, snow peas, water chestnuts, wild mushrooms and a basil/red chile/scallion garnish.

I have a much simpler approach. I use the teriyaki sauce for marinating cubed tofu, which I then sear in a skillet. The leftover marinade is poured over the seared tofu in the skillet and reduced down and thickened with a little cornstarch. The tofu can be served over rice or noodles.

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Nutty Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse

February 2, 2014

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I spent a lot of time mulling over how to title this post.The recipe is for a decadent chocolate mousse that is dairy-free, egg-free and possibly refined sugar-free. My brother invented the basic recipe, and he calls it Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse. I am going with his name for this recipe, but this also a recipe for chocolate peanut butter mousse, chocolate fruit dip, chocolate spread, and even chocolate frosting. This recipe is just that versatile.

The mousse is soft when first made and can be used as a dip for fruit. When thoroughly chilled, it is thick enough to be used as a frosting or chocolate spread.

The original, basic recipe is simply this: walnuts, plant-based milk, dates and cocoa powder processed together to form a smooth, creamy mousse. The walnuts provide the Omega-3 oil referenced in the title, but you can easily use other nuts or even seeds. This recipe is particularly delicious made with peanut butter, but hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are also great choices.

It can be made with whole nuts and dates, pureed in a high powered blender. If you use a nut butter and silan (date syrup), it can be very easily stirred together, without any high powered equipment. You could also make your own nut butter ahead of time, so that it is ready for mixing up into mousse (take a look at Mollie Katzen’s instructions for making walnut butter using a food processor).

The flavor of the basic mousse is reminiscent of brownies studded with chopped walnuts. The walnut flavor recedes more into the background if you add the optional melted chocolate. If you use peanut butter, of course, the mousse tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and adding the optional melted chocolate does not mute the strong peanut flavor in the least.

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Multi-Grain Spinach Balls

January 20, 2014

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Everyone loves spinach balls. I thought this classic appetizer could use a little makeover to be a little more healthful, though. The usual spinach ball recipe calls for spinach to be bound together with butter, cheese, eggs and either stuffing mix or seasoned bread crumbs.

Here are my substitutions:
1/4 cup olive oil instead of lots of butter;
quinoa and brown rice instead of stuffing mix/seasoned bread crumbs;
ground flax instead of eggs; and
ground seeds or nuts and nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

Ground flax seeds combine with the excess moisture in drained spinach to make an egg substitute. As you mix the flax seeds and spinach, you can see the moisture around the spinach turn slightly viscous, as if the spinach were bound together with egg whites. When the spinach/flax mixture is combined with cooked whole grains, the mixture becomes firm enough to shape into balls. Lots of well cooked onion and garlic, plus generous seasoning give the spinach balls the flavor boost that they need in the absence of lots of butter and cheese.

With all the changes, the spinach balls are also gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Garlicy Cashew Green Beans or Broccoli

October 14, 2013

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There is a popular recipe for Spicy, Garlicy Cashew Chicken that appeared in the NYT.  Basically, the recipe calls for marinating and then grilling chicken in a paste of cashews, lime, jalapeno pepper, oil, garlic, soy sauce and brown sugar. I made the recipe (using boneless dark meat chicken), and the cashew paste very much reminded me of coated kale chips.

I got the idea of using the sauce to make vegetable skewers using broccoli and red pepper. I parboiled broccoli, tossed it with olive oil and salt and pepper and then coated it with the cashew paste. The broccoli was then grilled (I used a George Foreman grill). The results were fantastic. The nut mixture got crisp in spots and remained soft in spots. It added the kind of varied texture and savory intensity to the broccoli that a cheese topping usually does.

Anyway . . . . fast forward to this week. I ask my husband if he would like the cashew sauce on grilled green beans and he said “YES!” before I could even finish my sentence. This cashew sauce inspires that kind of enthusiasm.

Note: I grilled the green beans, but I think roasting the green beans would also work.

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