Monday, December 05, 2016

Spelt Banana Bread

This evening I tried a new recipe for banana bread, and this one was a huge success. It's sweetened only with the bananas, doesn't have cinnamon or nutmeg, and has chia seeds in lieu of flax. The process was so simple and mess-free, partly because of our new and wonderful hand mixer. Here goes:

Wet Ingredients

4 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup nut milk (I used unsweetened soy)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

2 cups whole spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
handful of walnut halves

Heat oven to 350 Farhenheit. Mash bananas well. Add nut milk, coconut oil, chia seeds, and vanilla extract, and whisk or mix well. The chia will absorb some of the liquids and make the whole thing a bit more gel-like. Then, add the dry ingredients and whisk/mix until just combined. Pour into loaf pan and decorate the top with walnut halves. Bake for about 45-50 mins or until pick/fork comes out dry. Let cool for about 30 mins, then take out of pan and place on cooling rack.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Vegan Salade Niçoise

It's been a month of bad news on every possible level: personal losses, professional disappointments, you name it. To keep our spirits up, we're trying to eat healthy and well, and today I was inspired to put a little French elegance into our dinner with this simple version of a salade niçoise. The components of this nice composed salad are easy to make and a breeze to assemble.

I'm not particularly in love with the pre-made fake tuna product we used, Vegan Toona, and next time I make this recipe I'll make a chickpea substitute from scratch (this recipe looks intriguing.) But let's discuss the different components.

Ready-made stuff you'll need include cherry tomatoes (colorful ones are especially fun,) Persian cucumbers, tiny radishes, and good olives (not the nasty canned stuff.)

You'll also need tiny waxy potatoes--we used red and purple--which you can bake for about 20 mins. at 350 degrees, and green beans, which you'll steam or pressure-cook (I do it for 1 minute in the Instant Pot on high pressure) and, when still crunchy, drop immediately into ice water.

Another component is my beloved tofu eggless salad, which I made this time with olives in lieu of pickles, lots of green onion and parsley, and some kala namak salt for extra egginess.

And finally, Toona is sorta good if drenched in fresh lemon juice and mixed with some thinly minced green onions.

After organizing all the components on the plate, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Herbs de Provence.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Green Chai Latte

One of the perks and perils of San Francisco is the stream of culinary novelties. A few weeks ago I set aside my skepticism about our continuous chase after "the cool" and went with a colleague to the David Rio chai bar, where I had a lovely cup of steaming chai. Only one of their recipes is vegan (why, when easily all of them could be, and just as tasty?) but they do have a really nice assortment of nut milks, including soy, almond, hazelnut, and macadamia.

Last time I was there, they had some bottled chai for sale, including an intriguing blend of their green tea chai with chia seeds. I've been ruminating on how to make a homemade version, and today's blended treat came out delicious.

I put all the following in the blender:

2 cups vegan milk (this time I used unsweetened Ripple, which has a very bland and forgiving taste, but any nut milk would work just fine)
1 heaping teaspoon Matcha green tea
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
a drizzle of maple syrup, or pitted dates to taste)

After blending and pouring into a tall glass, I mixed in a few chia seeds and waited a few moments for them to expand and absorb the liquid. It was delicious: a creamy-but-refreshing afternoon beverage.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tropical Pudding

It's been a difficult few weeks for us. A couple of weeks ago we lost our beloved cat, Spade, to a car accident, and we are wrecked with grief. Our grief is, of course,  compounded by the results of the recent U.S. election and our concerns about fascism, bigotry, and authoritarianism on the rise. The most healing thing we've done was spend time at home with Spade's brother, Archer, and newcomer kitten Inti. At first they were a bit suspicious of each other, and so we separated them, but gradually we increased their face time and now they are best buds.


Several lovely friends came to visit us, to alleviate our grief over the loss of Spade and to meet little Inti and see how well he and Archer are getting along. And so, we served vegan fruit pie from Mission Pie, as well as a delectable pumpkin pie which we made based on Minimalist Baker's recipe. We also served a nice tropical pudding, which was exceedingly easy to make: 

1 ripe mango
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup silken tofu
1 handful cashews
1 tsp vanilla extract
blueberries for garnish

Pop first four ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into little ramekins or cups and refrigerate for a couple of hours - the pudding's consistency will improve. Then, decorate with blueberries and serve in the little cups.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Vegan Pâté

Hurrah, my parents are visiting us! It's always a pleasure to have them with us. And it's even more of a pleasure that they have graciously accepted my polite request not to bring meat into the house.

Since my dad is a great meat lover, I bought some vegan bologne and pastrami slices from Tofurkey, which he likes a lot. And I also made him vegan pâté, which he has declared super tasty. The preparation is very very simple, but you'll need a lot of patience, because the more you brown and caramelize the ingredients, the tastier the final result will be. Here goes:

Vegan Pâté

1 cup walnuts
2 large or 3 small zucchini
2 onions
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp pink salt (or other salt; this one gives the dish a richer, eggy taste.)

Heat up olive oil in pan. As it heats, thinly slice up onions, and add the slices to the pan. On medium heat, toss the onions about with a wooden spoon until they are very brown and very done (translucent or beige doesn't cut it in this recipe.) This may require quite a bit of patience, but it's worth it! As the onions are cooking (and in between tossing them), chop up the zucchini into small cubes or slices. When the onions are ready, add the zucchini and continue tossing both ingredients together, until zucchini becomes very soft and a bit brown. Remove the mix from the pan, place in a bowl, and let cool.

Meanwhile, place walnuts in pan (you can add a bit of olive oil if you wish, but the pan will be rather oily from the caramelizing. Toss the onions on high heat for a couple of minutes, then decrease the heat and continue tossing them until they roast well and are dark brown.

Place the walnuts in the food processor and process until you have thin nut crumbs. Then, add the onion-zucchini mixture, tomato sauce, cumin seeds, and pink salt, and continue processing (pulsing helps) until completely smooth.

This is absolutely delicious as sandwich filling, especially if you add fresh tomato and cucumber slices.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Comforting Stew

This thing is a real marvel on days in which you need some warm and hearty nourishment--spiritual, emotional, you name it! This thing hugs you from the inside when you feel like you need a nice, loving, kind hug. We made it with homemade seitan sausages, but I figure any fake meat will work. It tasted so rich and wonderful.

2 large carrots
1 large zucchini
2 large or 3 small Russet potatoes
1 white or yellow onion
1 seitan sausage, the size of a hot dog
1 cup tomato juice
1 heaped tablespoon ras-el-hanout
1 tsp olive oil
a few drops of Bragg's liquid aminos

Heat up olive oil in a pan and slice up the seitan sausage and half the onion. Brown the sausage and onion, and add a bit of Bragg's to flavor.

When that's done, cut all other veg into cubes. Place in slow cooker and add the browned sausage and onion. Add tomato juice and, if you're worried it might be too dry, add some water. Slow cook on high for about 5-7 hours. Bon appetit, and if you need a hug--here's one, from Mission Terrace straight to you.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Spanakopita

A big upside of vegan cheesemongering is that it's possible to recreate fabulous cheesy dishes. They taste so much like the original, it's like sorcery! This was my first venture into phyllo dough territory--hence the less-than-perfect presentation. But the dish itself was tasty and filling, and also healthy--full of spinach. It's a hefty project, so set aside some time to play with this.

Phase 1: The Preparing of the Dough

1 package whole wheat phyllo
parchment paper
damp paper towels
3 tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
3 bay leaves

Defrost the phyllo. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work area. Slowly and carefully unroll the phyllo. Place some damp paper towels on the rolled dough leaves.

In a little pan, heat up oil or butter with bay leaves, until aromatic (and, in the butter case, melted.)

Phase 2: The Preparing of the Filling

1 tsp olive oil
1 pound spinach, chopped
1 tbsp herbs de provence
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp oregano
1 large handful chopped green onion - white and green parts
1/2 cup almond feta
4 tbsp flax seeds
10 tbsp water
juice from 1 lemon + some lemon zest

Grind flax seeds and mix with water. Set aside.
In a large pan, heat up olive oil and add herbs de provence, sage, oregano, and green onion. When the herbs are fragrant, add chopped spinach and move it around the pan until it wilts and softens. Turn off the heat.
When the spinach is no longer piping hot, mash feta into flax mixture and add to spinach. Mix well. Add lemon and lemon zest for a last quick mix.

Phase 3: Assembly

With a little rubber brush, oil a 9x13 lasagna pan.
Place the top phyllo leaf in the pan, with its sides draping over the pan. Dip brush in oil/butter and lightly oil the leaf. Place a second leaf on top, also draping over pan. Lightly brush that one as well with oil. Repeat until you have about 6 layers.

Spoon spinach mixture over the leaves and flatten with a spatula. Then, fold the draping corners of the dough over the mixture.

Place a phyllo leaf on top of the mixture, carefully tucking its corners around the mix. Lightly brush its top with oil. Place a second leaf on top, also brushing with oil. Repeat until you have 6-8 layers. End with a light brush of oil.

Phase 4: Bakeage 

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 mins, or until top layers are golden and crumbly.

Zchug Jack

My vegan cheesemongering adventures continue! To the left are two new cheeses I made today: on the far left is a new batch of cheddar and on the right, zchug jack.

Zchug is a Yemenite hot pepper paste used with pretty much everything. It's delicious and makes for a neat substitute for jalapeños in this recipe, but you can do what Miyoko Schinner recommends in The Homemade Vegan Pantry and use fresh or canned jalapeños.

Step 1: Culturing

1 cup cashews
1 cup rejuvelac
1 tsp salt

Place in blender, blendblendblend until smooth. Place in container with jar (I use a plastic yogurt container.) Be sure to leave room at the top, because this thing expands like there's no tomorrow when it cultures.

But happily, there *is* a tomorrow, and when you open the container the next morning, see whether the thing has changed. It will unmistakably morph: air bubbles, yeasty scent, expansion, gooey texture.

Step 2: Cookin'

1/2 cup water
1 tbsp agar
the cheese mix from before
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp tapioca

On low heat, simmer 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp agar in a lidded saucepan. Don't peak for 3-4 mins. Then open lid, and make sure that the agar is bubbling away. When it finishes the bubbling process, scoop in all the gooey cheese mix and whisk well.

At the same time, quickly dissolve 2 tbsp tapioca in 2 tbsp water. Add to mix and whisk.

Mix until the thing becomes stretchy and shiny.

Step 3: Settin'

2 tbsp zchug, jalapeño, or other hot pepper product of your choice

Add zchug to cheese mix and mix well. Then, pour into container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours for the cheese to set.