Monday, April 14, 2014

creamy tahini pasta

This is a dish my friend made for me in college, a long time ago. It's so scrumptious, I still turn to it when I need something easy to pull together for dinner. Actually, I crave it. It's got a great earthy flavor, lots of garlic, and the tang of lemon really brings it together. This time I served it with sausage, but some baked tofu is also a great way to go.  This recipe makes enough for 3-4 servings, it is pretty rich.

1/4 cup tahini
1 1/2 cup soy milk, maybe a bit more
1 yellow onion, sliced into half moons
4 big cloves minced garlic
3-4 TB lemon juice
1 TB soy sauce
cayenne powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste

a few cups of chopped vegetables, I had cauliflower and zucchini
green onions for garnish
1 lb favorite pasta, I wouldn't use something too delicate, I used linguini

2 links of field roast sausage or 1 block firm tofu

Chop the vegetables and place in a strainer.
In an iron skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in about 3 TB water, or oil, to soften. After about 3 minutes, add the tahini and soy sauce, and stir to combine. Then add the soy milk and lemon juice and stir until everything is smooth. It will probably look like it's curdling but will come back together. Cook for another minute on medium low heat, and taste for salt. It will thicken, so you may need to add a bit more soy milk.
While the pasta is cooking, sauté the sausage in a bit of olive oil.
When the pasta is about 3 minutes from being done, lower in the veggies in the steamer basket into the water, remove when they are al dente.
Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water. Using tongs, add the pasta to the skillet of sauce. I did not use all of the pasta.
Plate the pasta, add the vegetables and sausage and garnish with the green onions.

Monday, April 7, 2014

portabella mushroom sandwiches with chipolte mayo

I love all kinds of mushrooms and lately have been really into portabella mushrooms. This sandwich was a great weekend lunch, hearty and full of that great mushroom flavor, made only better by the spicy mayo.

for 2 mushroom caps/sandwiches
2 TB balsamic vinegar
good pinch of black pepper for each
sprinkle of salt for each
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil

for the chipolte mayo-
your favorite mayo, such as veganaise
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chipolte chili powder
2 TB finely minced fresh basil
dash paprika
salt and pepper to taste
    mix everything together

quick pickled onions
lots of boston lettuce
tomato slices, I had cherry tomatoes

your favorite bread, or bun

Remove the cap from the mushroom and clean. This time I lightly scraped some of the under gills off, just in case they would be bitter… Honestly, I didn't notice a difference. Drizzle the mushrooms with the balsamic, soy sauce, oil, salt and pepper and let them rest on a parchment lined baking sheet for five minutes. Enough time to make the mayo.
You can cook the mushrooms in a pan, or broil them. It takes about 4-5 minutes each side when broiling. They should be soft in the middle, but not mushy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

easy cinnamon sticks

These churro like sticks are an easy way to serve up something sweet, but not too sweet. They're light and crispy, and not greasy. I made these one afternoon and I was taking this photo, I could hear Camilla finishing off the rest directly off the tray in the kitchen...

1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2 cup white sugar
1 TB cinnamon
3 TB earth balance

Heat the oven to 425.
Melt the butter and set aside.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, and set aside. (You'll have left over from this recipe)
Defrost the puff pastry in the fridge and leave it in there until you are ready to use; is easier to work with if it's pretty cold. Lay the sheet on a cutting board and brush with the slightly melted and cooled butter, turn it over and brush the other side.
Slice long wise into nine strips and then cut cross wise, which will make them easier to twist. Sprinkle very generously with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Twist each strip and lay on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon sugar. And if you want them to be sweeter, you could whip up a bit of icing made with confectioners sugar and water, for dipping.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

smokey green peppercorn tahini dressing

The green peppercorns were an accidental purchase, I thought they were capers, until I bit into one. Not sure what they could be used for, I  decided to grind them into a salad dressing. They add a nice spike of peppery heat which pairs well with all kinds of vegetables, and holds up nicely to a grilled portabella mushroom. I tossed some vegetables together and plated over bibb lettuce.

chopped carrot
grated red cabbage
sliced cucumber
chopped green onion
sliced cherry tomatoes
bit of chopped parsley
small handful of lima beans
a few toasted slivered or chopped almonds
1 portabella mushroom

Remove the stem of the mushroom and slice. Heat an iron cast pan with a bit of oil and cook the mushroom slices, turning them over after a minute or two. (I've heard you should scrape out the gills but honestly I didn't think that was necessary. They are supposedly bitter. ) Towards the end of cooking, pour a dash of soy sauce in the pan and shake to coat.
Toss everything in a drizzle of the dressing, lay the mushroom on top and sprinkle over with the almonds.

for the dressing-
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp honey
2 tsp raw green peppercorns, don't drain from the brine
1 small garlic clove
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2-3 TB water, maybe even more

Blend everything in a high speed blender until smooth.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

polenta 'fries'

I made these during spring break, when we were at the beach. They're not really that much like french fries, but they are deliciously crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. These were served with chili, but they'd make a nice appetizer too.

1 cup polenta
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Cook the polenta and towards the end of the cooking time, add the garlic. When it's done, about 15 minutes or so, pour into a lightly oiled 8X8 pyrex pan. Let cool in the fridge and then slice into rectangular shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle just enough olive oil over the slices to coat them, and give a good sprinkle of salt. Roll each slice around so everything gets covered, then bake at 475 for 15 minutes, turn over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite ketchup, or as my grandmother used to say, ketsup.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

baked potato & leek soup

Camilla loves the baked potato soup at Houston's, so I have been trying to re create a soup for her approval.  Finally, a success! The first few times I made this I used too many fennel seeds and the soup was overwhelmed; a little goes a long way but it really does add a great flavor.

one large baking potato
1 large leek, white and up through a couple inches of the darker green
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
2 cup veggie broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews

sausage, my current favorite is field roast's apple, though pictured is tofurky's kielbasa

Let the cashews soak in water while everything is cooking.
Grind the fennel seeds with the garlic and a half teaspoon of course salt into a paste. I used a mortal and pestle but the side of a knife would work too. Slice the leek down the middle and chop into half moons.  Peel the potato and dice. Sauté the potatoes and leek in a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, until the leeks start to wilt, then add the garlic/fennel paste and stir and cook for another minute, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes until everything is soft.
Drain the cashews and blend with a cup of water until smooth, and set aside.
Set aside two cups of drained potato and leeks, about half of the soup. Blend the rest until smooth and return to the pot with the cashew/water mixture and potato and leeks. Heat to serve.
Saute the sausage while the soup is heating.

Monday, March 10, 2014

orange sesame tofu with rice

Brielle told me about this dish she had at her friend's house, she said it was the best tofu she'd ever had. I called her friend's mom and she told me what she did. The original recipe calls for fresh orange juice but I use a good quality oj and it works just fine.

1 block of extra firm tofu
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 egg replacers: 3 tsp ener-g and 4 TB warm water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds plus extra for garnish
vegetable oil
2 cups orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TB brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
8 green onions, finely chopped

white or brown rice for serving
broccoli or another vegetable for steaming

Press the tofu by wrapping in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, place between two cutting boards and place something on top of the cutting board that weighs a few pounds, such as a tea kettle or a couple of cans. Leave to drain about 15 minutes. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Whisk the egg replacer and water together until frothy, add the corn starch, salt, sesame seeds, and 1 TB water and whisk to blend well. This will resemble a loose pancake batter. Add the tofu to this mixture and toss to coat.

I have cooked the tofu two different ways.  The original recipe calls for frying it in a pan, in batches. I was curious as to how it would be to bake the tofu, if the coating would become crispy, and it does. Flavor wise, we couldn't tell the difference. The tofu won't brown as it does when cooked in oil, but it gets mixed with the sauce so that doesn't matter anyway.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, turn over and cook another 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam a couple cups of chopped broccoli and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the oj, soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 tsp cornstarch, and sesame oil until combined. Pour the mixture into a skillet and turn up the heat to medium high. Once the sauce boils, reduce to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until the sauce thickens a bit to a syrupy consistency. Return the tofu to the pan, along with the green onions, and cook for another minute or two to heat everything. The sauce will thicken some more once you add the tofu. Serve over rice and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds. I also added some chili flakes for a bit of spice.