Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cheddar-Crusted Apple Pie

Fruit and cheese are a natural pairing, and I'm here to promise you that that won't end in life-after-dairy.  The vegan cheese aisle just keeps expanding, allowing me to play around with flavor combinations like figs and blue cheese.  Perhaps the most iconic pairing is apples and cheddar, which go together in this intriguing, savory-crusted pie - yes, the cheddar bakes right into the pie dough.  My preference here is Daiya's shredded cheddar, but you might also try the strong cheddar from Sheese or cheddar from Vegan Gourmet.

For the crust:
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded Daiya cheddar
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
For the filling:
  • 10 cups very thinly sliced and peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Ener-G egg
1. To prepare the crust, combine 1 tablespoon flour with the cheddar in a bowl, and toss well.  Place the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Lightly spoon the remaining 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine 1/4 cup flour in a bowl with the ice water, whisking to form a slurry.  Combine the remaining 1 and 3/4 cups flour in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is like coarse meal.  Stir in the cheddar cheese mixture, and then add the slurry, tossing with a fork - do not form a ball. 

Note: The mixture should still be just a tad dry and crumbly, but add up to another tablespoon ice water if needed; I used an extra teaspoon.

3. Divide the dough in half, and press each portion into a 4-inch circle on 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should extend at least 13 inches in all directions).  Cover each portion with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap, and roll each, through the plastic, into a 12-inch circle.  Chill for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Combine the sliced apple and lemon juice in a large bowl.  In a second bowl, combine 3 tablespoons flour, the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a dash of salt.  Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the apple mixture and toss well.

5. Remove the top sheets of plastic wrap from 1 dough portion.  Flip over so the remaining plastic wrap is on top, and fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray (a little bit of the dough should extend beyond the pie plate).  Discard the remaining plastic wrap.  Spoon the apple filling into the crust, and brush the edges of the crust lightly with water.

6. Remove the top sheets of plastic from the remaining dough portion, and place, plastic wrap side up up, over the pie filling.  Remove the remaining plastic, and press the edges of the top and bottom dough together; fold the edges under and flute.

7. Cut 3 (1-inch) slits in the top of the dough with a sharp knife, and brush the top of the dough evenly with the Ener-G egg.  Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1 wedge), Calories 285 

Tasting Notes:
I expected the crust to be the best part about this recipe, but the filling delighted me more.  Between the spicy ginger and the brightness of the lemon juice, it was quite different from your standard apple pie - in the best way.  The crust was equally deliciously different, more like the savory cheese crackers my grandmother used to make at family get-togethers.  However, the cheddar flavor was very toned down and muted, when combined with all the other flavors of the pie.  I would not only add a touch more cheddar to the crust, but would sneak some into the filling next time.


Here are just a couple more fun vegan cheese and fruit pairings to try.

Skip the pizza and just serve slices of buttery Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack with sliced mango for a snack.

Spoon Tofutti's new Better than Ricotta over berries and serve for an easy dessert - yum!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baba Gha-Hummus

Baba ghanoush is a wonderful party spread, and hummus is a wonderful party spread, so why not combine them?  This dip is an intriguing hybrid of the two.

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 (15-ounce) rinsed and drained can chickpeas 
1. Pierce the eggplant several times with a fork and place on a jelly roll pan or baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool, then peel and discard the skin.

2. Combine the eggplant flesh in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients; process until smooth.

Serve with crudites, crackers, or pita toasts. 

Nutrition Info
8 servings (1/4 cup), Calories 114

Tasting Notes:
Alas, disappointingly bland.  I realized right off the bat that this needed lots of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to brighten it up, a good bit more salt, and more spices.  I would also use a smaller eggplant next time for better balance.  (My apologies that the "large" eggplant called for here is vague; I neglected to weigh the one I bought, so can only estimate it was about 1 and 1/2 pounds.  Go smaller than that).  Play around with those suggestions and tweaks, and let me know if you like this recipe better.

Update: because of the above-mentioned blandness, I enjoyed this best as a spread on pita sandwiches with lettuce and bottled roasted peppers - the strong flavor of the red pepper helped bring out the taste of the eggplant, and was a better application for this spread than a dip, in my opinion.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce

This peanutty noodle dish gets bonus points in my kitchen for two reasons.  First, it comes together in under 30 minutes.  And second, as if the first isn't good enough, it's just as good served warm as it is at room temperature or cold, making it an ideal make-ahead meal. 

Try Gardein's buffalo or barbecue chicken wings for this recipe (sold in the freezer section), and simply discard the sauce that comes with the package, or save for another use.  The wings are the perfect size already, requiring no chopping or slicing.

  • 5 ounces uncooked chucka soba (Japanese curly noodles)*
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce**
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter**
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup**
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 pound Gardein chicken
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
  • 1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided
1. Cook the noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, ketchup, and crushed red pepper.  Set aside.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and saute for 4 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.  Remove the chicken mixture from the pan and combine with the cooked noodles in a large bowl.

Note: although you can prepare Gardein chicken from frozen, it cooks a bit more evenly if I give it a quick defrost in the microwave first.

4. Heat the remaining teaspoon sesame oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger and garlic; cook for 15 seconds.  Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

5. Add the hoisin mixture to the chicken mixture, along with 1/4 cup green onions, and toss well.  Sprinkle with the remaining green onions.

To round out the meal, add broccoli spears and this simple Asian slaw: whisk together 1 tablespoon vegan sugar, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil.  Pour the dressing over 4 cups cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw mix in a bowl, and chill until ready to serve. 

Note: If serving this dish cold, I recommend adding a touch of warm water, or the noodles might stick together.

*A quick tale of vegan caution.  I was so delighted to find chucka soba that I bought a package without reading the ingredients - I mistake I almost never make.  Just before making this dish, I noticed 'carotene for color' was added.  A quick Google search revealed that while the source of carotene is probably plant-based (think anything orange, like carrots), gelatin is needed to suspend and isolate the carotene.  I was not about to have pig hooves and bones in my curly noodles, so I hurried back to the store and bought a new brand - with no carotene added for color. 

**Forgive me for sounding like an advertisement, but I do recommend specific brands for the items called for in this recipe.  Whole Foods 365 brand makes an organic hoisin sauce, so even pesky things like organic caramel color will be vegan.  My favorite vegan peanut butters are Earth Balance, Jason's, and Peanut Butter & Co.. Buy any and all of them, eat off a spoon, and repeat (and save a little for this recipe).  I like ketchup from Annie's and Organicville, both certified vegan.

Nutrition Info:
5 servings (1 cup), Calories 353 

Tasting Notes:
A super peanutty, wonderfully thick sauce; the rather odd mix of ingredients in the hoisin mixture worked just perfectly, and decadently coated the noodles and chicken.  I'd add more fresh veggies next time - shredded carrot and snow peas perhaps - to "freshen" the flavor up a bit. If you love the theme of Asian-flavored noodles + protein for dinner, you could also try my recipes for Shrimp Pad Thai or Curried Noodles with Tofu.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Three-Fruit Salsa

This vibrant mix of fruits and veggies is just begging to be a part of your Memorial Day, as we kick off the unofficial start of summer.  Try pairing it with something savory (grilled Match pork slathered in hoisin sauce, anyone?) for a wonderful flavor contrast.  Or go the simple route and serve with tortilla chips.

  • 1 cup finely chopped and peeled cantaloupe
  • 1 cup finely chopped and peeled mango
  • 1 cup sliced small strawberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded, and peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons seeded and finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, and toss to combine.

This salsa is best served with a slotted spoon, to leave the liquid behind in the bowl, otherwise your entree or chips will become soggy.

Note: do use the smallest strawberries you can find, so that the slices aren't much bigger than all the other finely chopped items; because they're often smaller than their conventionally grown cousins, see if you can find wild strawberries for this dish.  If you do use larger strawberries, I recommend cutting the slices in half again, to keep the pieces uniform.

I served with Match pork in hoisin sauce and mashed potatoes, for a savory, contrasting dinner.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (about 3/4 cup), Calories 59 

Tasting Notes:
The moment you think this is too spicy from the jalapeno, the sweetness of the fruit kicks in; the cantaloupe, mango, and strawberries are stunning together.. So many flavors in here it's almost hard to make sense of, but every little bit - from a crisp bite of cucumber or bell pepper to the heat of the jalapeno to the freshness of the mint - blended beautifully.  The combination felt vaguely Thai-inspired - perhaps why it worked so well with my hoisin-slathered Match pork.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shrimp with Feta

I'm having so much fun playing around with the vegan shrimp from Sophie's Kitchen.  A package of their breaded vegan scallops are waiting in my freezer, too; if anyone has cooked with these already, I'd love to hear how they taste.  This quick dinner also features vegan feta from Veg Cuisine.

  • 1 (3.5-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) undrained cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup vegan dry white wine
  • 18 ounces Sophie's Kitchen shrimp, thawed
  • 4 ounces crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine)
  • Chopped parsley (optional for garnish)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the onion; saute for 4 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup chopped parsley, along with the salt, basil, oregano, dill, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and garlic.  Cook for 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the wine and the shrimp; cover and cook for a final 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with the crumbled feta.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice according to package directions; drain.  Serve 1 and 3/4 cups shrimp mixture over 1/2 cup rice on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh parsley as garnish, if desired.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 and 3/4 cups shrimp mixture, 1/2 cup rice), Calories 457 

Tasting Notes:
Nice flavor for such a quick and simple dish, thanks to the dried herbs and salty feta on top, but this didn't wow me either.  For even more flavor, I'd use fire-roasted or Italian-style diced tomatoes next time.  The dish also needs to be served over more heaping portions of rice to soak up all that sauce - or at the very least, with French bread on the side to sop up the juices.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Apple-Oat Muffins

These dense, hearty muffins are a perfect component to a weekend breakfast spread - try pairing with sliced fruit and my Raspberry-Orange Sunrises.  Or just grab one on the go if it's a busy weekday.

  • 2 cups peeled and shredded McIntosh apple
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • Cooking spray
1. Place the shredded apple on paper towels and squeeze until barely moist; set aside.

Note: a large-holed grater works just fine for shredding apple - no need to pull out your food processor.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a bowl with the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.

3. In a second bowl, whisk together the milk, canola oil, vanilla extract, yogurt, and Ener-G egg.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Stir in the apple.

4. Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. 

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when touched in the center.  Transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool.

Nutrition Info:
12 servings (1 muffin), Calories 190 

Tasting Notes:
The shredded apple kept the interior of these muffins wonderfully moist, giving them unexpected taste and texture compared to standard oat muffins.  Mildly sweet, with a nice hint of cinnamon.  I would add a tiny bit of streusel topping or turbinado sugar on top for just a bit of crunch, but otherwise these were quite yummy.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shrimp Skewers with Romesco Sauce

Using nuts in place of cream is a great trick for thickening sauces - and that isn't just a vegan thing.  Traditional sauces like Middle Eastern muhammara and Greek skordalia have relied on nuts as thickener for ages.  Tonight, I'm making the Catalan sauce romesco - a puree of almonds and red bell pepper.  Try it with the vegan shrimp from Sophie's Kitchen for a great grilled dinner.

For the romesco sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds*
  • 2 tablespoons toasted and chopped hazelnuts*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (1-ounce) toasted slice French bread baguette*
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (7-ounce) drained bottle roasted red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the shrimp:
  • 30 Sophie's Kitchen shrimp, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 lemon wedges
1. To prepare the sauce, combine the almonds, hazelnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, French bread, and crushed garlic in a food processor, and process until finely ground.  Add the plum tomato, vinegar, olive oil, paprika, crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and roasted bell peppers; process until smooth.

2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir in the parsley; set aside.

3. To prepare the shrimp, toss together the shrimp with the minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Thread the shrimp evenly onto 6 skewers.

4. Grill on an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan coated with cooking spray for 3 minutes on each side.  Serve with the sauce and the lemon wedges.

Note: you could also broil the shrimp on a broiler pan for the same amount of time on each side.

To round out a delicious late-spring evening, I recommend a salad and couscous on the side.  Toss cooked couscous with chopped green onions, and then throw together this simple salad with vegan goat cheese and Dijon dressing: in a bowl, combine 9 cups torn red leaf lettuce, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, and 1/4 cup prepared vegan goat cheese.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons olive oil; toss the salad with the dressing.

If you're looking for a good wine to pour with this dish, try Spanish Albarino - it's a nice citrusy white with a hint of almonds that will match the nuttiness and sweetness of the romesco sauce.

*Toast the nuts ahead of time in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning.  Likewise, you can toast the bread slice under the broiler or in a skillet for about 2 minutes on each side. 

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 shrimp skewer, 1/4 cup romesco sauce, 1 lemon wedge), Calories 263 

Tasting Notes:
These super simple ingredients come together in the best way - the toasty nuts combined with hints of garlic, fresh breadcrumbs, super-fresh plum tomato, and bell pepper.  The sauce was delicious slathered over the shrimp, and a spritz of the lemon wedge added a refreshing note  If you don't have vegan shrimp at home, I think this sauce would be equally delicious over grilled tofu or Gardein chicken.  


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cinnamon Cookies

These lovely little rolled cookies are easy to make with Earth Balance butter.

  • 6 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegan brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1. Combine the sugar, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat at medium speed until blended.  Add the Ener-G eggs and beat until combined.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a bowl with the cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Add to the butter mixture and beat well.

3. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, and roll flat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Freeze the dough portions for 20 minutes.

4. Working with 1 dough portion at a time (and keeping the remaining dough in the freezer), remove the top sheet of plastic.  Cut the dough into circles with a 1-inch cookie cutter until you have 12 cookies.

Note: it's fine to gather together and re-roll the dough scraps as needed until you have all 12 cookies; indeed, the dough is incredibly workable, even once it thaws a bit.  If you prefer a crisper cookie, roll the dough even thinner and cut with a 2-inch cookie cutter instead.

5. Place the cookie rounds on baking sheets and discard the bottom sheet of plastic wrap.  Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough portions.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes, just until lightly browned.  Remove from the baking sheets and cool on a wire rack.

7. Once the cookies have cooled, make the frosting: whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon; drizzle evenly over the cookies.  Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.

Note: I find it best to sift powdered sugar before making frostings.  If your frosting is still a touch thick, add about 1 teaspoon water and you should be able to drizzle more easily over the cookies.

The cookies are perfect with a spot of tea.

*An even more accurate method for measuring flour than my suggested scoop-and-level method is to use a kitchen scale.  The 1 and 1/2 cups called for in this recipe should be about 6 and 3/4 ounces.

Nutrition Info:
48 servings (1 cookie), Calories 45 

Tasting Notes:
Delicious little bites.  Only mildly sweet, and more like a cinnamon-infused shortbread than a sweet cookie.  I made my cookies on the thicker side (with a 1-inch cookie cutter), and thought the resulting texture was excellent.  I would add more almonds next time, and also toast the almonds first.  I'd also add more cinnamon because, well, I can never get enough cinnamon.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monterey Pizza

This tropical pizza is a fun twist on more standard pineapple versions, featuring sweet mango instead.  It's great for showcasing your favorite vegan Monterey Jack; try Vegan Gourmet, or Daiya's new jack wedge.

  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled and chopped mango
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded vegan Monterey Jack (such as Vegan Gourmet)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 finely chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers
1. To prepare the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the olive oil and salt.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Add 1 and 3/4 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture, stirring to form a dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic (it should feel like the flesh on the inside of your arm).  Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed while you knead, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.  Here's a handy how-to on kneading.

3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so the top is coated as well.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.  A closed, unheated oven is a great spot for rising dough, since it will be warm and free from drafts.

4. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a baking sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal.  Roll or pat into a 14x10-inch rectangle.

Note: I found patting to be a much easier tactic in this step.

5. Lightly coat the dough with cooking spray.  Combine the Monterey Jack with the cilantro in a small bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the dough.  Top evenly with the chopped jalapeno.  Bake at 500 degrees for 8 minutes.

5. While the pizza bakes, combine the mango and lime juice in a small bowl; top the pizza with the mango mixture once out of the oven.  Cut into 16 squares with a pizza cutter.  I hope you can see in this photo just how lusciously gooey and melted the cheese is, just out of the oven. 

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (2 slices), Calories 236 

Tasting Notes:
A perfect pizza dough, topped with wonderfully gooey cheese and sweet mango.  Surprisingly, the pizza was a touch bland; leave the seeds in the jalapeno for more heat, or add a touch of herbs or spices to the cheese-and-cilantro mixture.  I also would add the mango before the pizza bakes next time, so it becomes warm and lightly caramelized . 


I preferred this pizza even better when sprinkled with chopped Lightlife ham:

Or chopped and cooked Gardein chicken on top:

Both add an extra, savory layer to the flavor. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spiced Yogurt Dip

As promised, here's a highly-spiced dip to pair with the flatbread (Chapatis) that I made last night.  If you prefer to skip the bread-making, serve this dip as an easy appetizer with store-bought pita wedges or crisp veggies.  It's simple to make, and the toasted spices will infuse your kitchen with their scent.

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 cups plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Place the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in a spice grinder and process until finely ground.

Note: Freshly grinding whole spices will guarantee the best flavor, so I recommend purchasing spices in whole form whenever possible, and grinding little bits at a time like this.

2. Transfer the ground spices to a small skillet, along with the turmeric and ground red pepper; cook over medium heat for 1 minute.

3. Combine the spice mixture in a bowl with the yogurt, green onions, lime juice, agave, and salt, stirring well to combine.

Note: you can prepare the dip ahead of time too, but if you do so, I recommend adding the green onions just before serving, so their strong flavor doesn't overwhelm the rest of the dip.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1/4 cup), Calories 33 

Tasting Notes:
Incredible flavors of cumin and caraway, but also a note of caution - this is spicy.  In addition to serving with flatbread, I thought it would make a nice compliment to Indian-spiced eggplant and potato dishes, but that was the wrong choice; usually yogurt is a cooling condiment to spicy sauces in Indian cuisine, but this one only added spice to spice!  So it's definitely best with the cooling contrast of bread.  To tame the spice, I'd use more yogurt next time, and a touch more agave nectar.


Sunday, May 13, 2012


Well first thing's first; this post is my 300th on this blog, a milestone of which I'm quite proud.  I have no intention of stopping any time soon, but please refer friends and family this way whenever they think a vegan diet is a limited one; at this point, it would take them nearly a year just to make everything I've posted.

Tonight, I wanted to go back to an idea I played around with last May, pairing Indian flatbread with an accompanying condiment.  Last year it was dosas and chutney, and tonight, I tried my hand at making chapatiChapati is an unleavened bread, distinguished from roti by the inclusion of whole wheat flour.  Stay tuned for an accompanying sauce to serve with this bread.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Lightly spoon both flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flours in a bowl with the sea salt.

2. Add the warm water and olive oil, and stir well.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently just until smooth and elastic - you should only need a minute or two, as the dough is quite sticky.  Cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Note: don't expect the dough to rise during this period; it's not a yeast bread, and by definition unleavened ('chappa' means flattened in Tamil).  I assumed this was more of a "rest" period for the gluten in the flour.  Other chapati recipes online, however, don't include the hour rest period, so if you're in a rush I'm tempted to say you could skip it.

3. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a ball.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Working with 1 portion at a time (and keeping the remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying), roll into a 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Working with 1 dough portion at a time, cook for 4 minutes on each side; the chapatis should be lightly browned with dark spots.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve alongside any dal, curry, or other Indian entree. Tonight I served with a Madras curry made with Gardein beef.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 chapati), Calories 127 

Tasting Notes:
These came out so well I'm almost pinching myself.  Soft and pliable, just lightly chewy, and perfect for scooping up curry. The bread is also delicious on it own, with a nice touch of saltiness.  The cast-iron skillet gave a good charred flavor, like they'd cooked over an open flame instead.  Quite a triumph, particularly since I worried my dough was too sticky at a point or two during the recipe process.

Update: as promised, I paired the chapati with my Spiced Yogurt Dip, a wonderful combination.  The spiciness of the dip was offset by the salty flatbread - especially when the bread was lightly reheated and served warm.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Raspberry-Orange Sunrises

Here's the perfect beverage to pour in honor of Mom for brunch this Mother's Day weekend.  Definitely take the time to squeeze out fresh oranges for the best flavor, and serve with any brunch food - breakfast burritos, muffins and fruit, or a hearty strata are all great vegan dishes to serve.  Either way, please take a moment and remember the mother cows, mother pigs, and mother hens this Mother's Day, who don't get to keep their babies - and then kick dairy, eggs, and meat from your plate in their honor!

  • 4 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sparkling wine*
  • 3 orange slices (optional for garnish)
1. Combine the orange juice and raspberries in a blender and process until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl or pitcher.  Stir in the sparkling wine.

2. Serve over ice in juice glasses.  Cut 3 orange slices in half, and add an orange half to each glass rim as garnish if desired; the garnish reminded me of a little sun rising on the horizon.

*For the sparkling wine, it doesn't have to be true champagne: prosecco, cava, or American sparkling wines will all work just as well here.  Either way, dozens of sparkling wines are on the vegan safe-list at, including the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot, so you shouldn't have much trouble.  Choose a semisweet variety (often labeled demi-sec), not one that's extra dry (brut).

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 cup), Calories 178 

Tasting Notes:
One of the most refreshing brunch cocktails I've ever had - a cross between a raspberry sorbet punch and a mimosa.  I liked that the drink was only lightly effervescent from the champagne, but didn't have the strong taste of alcohol.  Zero complaints on this one.