Total time: 40 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes
For a girl that lives in Nebraska now, I sure don’t post enough corn recipes! And I must reallllly love corn chowder because there’s a different recipe for it in three of my books.
What I dig about this version, is that you really can dress it up or down for any season. It being almost summer and me with a freshly sprung garden, I like to run out and snip whatever fresh herbs call out at me. In this case, basil and chives. A few radishes poking their heads out? Well, great, let’s slice ‘em up and throw ‘em on!
I find that coconut oil and coconut milk give this chowder a heavenly richness while providing the perfect backdrop for all that corn flavor. The chowder is thick, rich and creamy with nice chunks of potato and carrot, and a little lime juice to give it a bit of ZING. It’s filling, yes, but also fresh and summery. I like a big pinch of red pepper flakes for some spice, but you can suit to taste. A jalapeno might be nice if you’ve got some around. Some chopped fresh tomato when they become ripe.
In the summer, serve with a salad (this Garlicky Zucchini Ribbon Salad, maybe?) and in the colder months, serve with a sandwich or just a nice crusty hunk of bread. Maybe a Banh Mi? It really can be a soup for all seasons.
~ This recipe uses a method that really makes corn chowder shine: let the corn cobs stew in the pot. They hold lots of maize-y flavor, so don’t let ‘em go to waste. At the end, you remove the cobs and only your delicious soup knows they were ever there. I suppose you can use frozen corn instead, but only if you’re really crunched for time.
~ To slice corn from the cob without the corn bouncing all over the place, put the husked corn in a wide bowl and simply use your chef’s knife to slice down each side. The kernels will fall into the bowl. All will be well.
~ Many supermarkets have already husked corn in their produce department! I (shamefully) take that shortcut when I can, because it shaves like 10 minutes off prep time. Maybe more if you’re a little slower than me.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cup fresh corn (from 5 to 6 ears)
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 lb thin skinned potato (like yukon gold), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot
3/4 cup coconut milk, regular or lite
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh chives (1/2 cup should do it)
Thinly sliced fresh basil (1/2 cup or so)
Thinly sliced radish
A few extra fresh corn kernels
Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium high heat. Saute onion in oil with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Add corn and carrots and cook for 3 more minutes or so.
Measure one cup of the broth into a measuring cup. Mix in the cornstarch with a fork until dissolved. Set aside.
Add remaining 3 cups of broth to the pot, along with the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, break the corn cobs in half and add them to the pot. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove corn cobs. Add remaining vegetable broth and starch mixture, and cook to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, black pepper, salt to taste and lime juice.
Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender (get one!) then transfer about half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth then add back to the pot. If the soup is still steaming hot, make sure to either keep the opening on top of your food processor open, or lift the lid often for steam to escape. If steam builds up in a close container it can explode the lid off. Ouch.
Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh corn kernels, fresh herbs and radishes.
Total time: 15 minutes
I rarely put the word “vegan” into a recipe because that would get tedious. But the reason I’m using it now is that I want to stress that this is a classic vegan Caesar. Not a classic Caesar, but a salad that vegans have been making for as far back as, I don’t know, the 1980s? The legend goes that some vegan awoke from a long VCR’ed Dynasty marathon, with a yearning for garlic and nutritional yeast… and the vegan Caesar was born.
When translating a Caesar salad, you want to capture the tanginess, the creaminess, the umami and the garlickyness. Vegan versions are all over the map, I’ve even published several kinds of Caesar, but this one is three things that cooks love to hear: quick, easy and simple!
The tahini is the creamy base, lending also an irresistible nuttiness. Nutritional yeast and dijon mustard provide the umami tang, and if your mustard is whole grain you get some texture, too. And then there’s garlic! This dressing is kept easy so that there’s no need to break out the blender, just a coffee mug and a fork will do. Use my tip below for a very lazy method of garlic prepping.
As for accoutrement, well, avocado and chickpeas are certainly my go to. But you can do it up in a gazillion different ways. Here are some of my favorite additions: toasted pine nuts, capers, olives, a handful of cooked quinoa, sliced baked tofu (from a package is fine), sliced warm Chickpea Cutlets (or any chicken-y thing), garlicky sourdough croutons, vegan bacon, (deep breath…ok, proceed), tempeh (Chimichurri or Garlicky Thyme), grilled seitan, grilled asparagus, grilled portobello, roasted squash. See? It’s really fun and versatile. And it will get you totally excited about salad! So crimp your hair, protest Reagan and get ready for some classic vegan deliciousness.
~ If you’re feeling super lazy about peeling garlic, here’s a trick: Grate it on a microplane, with the skin still on. The skin should stay on top of the grater and fall away. You won’t be able to grate the whole clove, but hey, all in the name of laziness! Just be sure not to start at the nub side (you know, that rough spot at the top of the clove) since it’s too rough to grate.
~ And another garlic thing: You don’t have to waste time measuring garlic into a teaspoon, just eyeball it. Since this dressing comes together in a snap, you can adjust to your tastes very easily.
~ Sometimes tahini does this thing where it seizes and looks curdled and stiff when you add water. I don’t know why! I do know that if you give it a minute, it will go back to normal. (Have you ever experience this weird phenomenon?)
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (plus more for thinning)
2 teaspoons fresh grated garlic (see note)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz romaine (2 hearts), chopped
Handful of baby arugula
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 avocado diced
Fresh black pepper to taste
Stir together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, or a coffee mug. Use a fork to blend smooth. Add additional tablespoons of water to thin, as needed. Taste for salt and seasoning. It should be slightly salty, because the saltiness will subside when you dress the salad.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the greens with the dressing. Add the avocado and chickpeas. Serve with fresh black pepper sprinkled on top.
Total time: 30 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes
Chipotle Mac & Cheese! Okay? I probably don’t need to say anything else, you’re already rummaging through your pantry for a can of chipotles and some cashews to soak. Mac & Cheese is, after all, the ultimate comfort food. A box of macaroni might as well come with sweatpants, a cozy blanket and an entire season of Mad Men DVDs.
This version is creamy, of course, but also spicy and smoky. But what really sets it apart is how EASY it is. That’s ALL CAPS and throw in an italic EASY.
1) Boil some macaroni 2) Throw some stuff into the blender 3) Put it all together. 4) There you go. I roasted some brussel sprouts, too (as I do), but you can add any manner of veggie; steamed kale, grilled asparagus, sauteed zucchini…you get the picture. I do highly recommend the brussels, though, because they roast away effortlessly, and you are free to prepare everything else. Oh, and of course, they’re also super delicious.
The only thing that’s a little fussy is getting the seeds out of the chipotle. But follow my notes below and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Happy macking, everyone!
~ If you forgot to soak the cashews, have no fear. You can boil them for the same creamy effect, and still have this on the table in 30 minutes. Just submerge in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain, and proceed.
~ Sometimes people forget that chipotles are still HOT and can give you jalapeno hands if you touch the seeds. You can use small pieces of plastic wrap when handling. Seed them by placing one flat on the cutting board, splitting down the center with a paring knife and using that knife to scrape out the seeds. Immediately scrape the seeds into the sink and wash them away, to prevent and further contact, then place the seeded one into the blender, and repeat the process.
~ The reason we’re removing the seeds, in case you’re wondering, is that seeds are really spicy. With the seeds removed, you can use more chipotles, thus getting more smoky flavor without all the heat.
~ Update! If you’d like to make this was blanched, slivered or sliced almonds, go for it! People have been reporting back that it works well.
~ For a non-spicy version, try one roasted red pepper (homemade or from a jar) in place of the 4 chipotles.
~ I love a milder miso here. I used chickpea, but mellow white would be nice, too. The kind of miso you use will determine the saltiness, and so I suggest salting to taste before and after adding it to the macaroni.
8 oz macaroni (gluten-free, whole wheat, or any type)
1 lb brussels, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
4 chipotles, seeded (see note)
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons miso (I used chickpea miso)
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F for the brussels, and prepare a pot of salted water for the pasta. In the meantime, prep the brussels and make the sauce.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the quartered brussel sprouts with olive oil and a dash of salt. Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly browned. No need to flip them, just let ‘em roast.
To make the sauce: Drain the cashews and place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend away until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Depending on the strength of your blender this could take from one to five minutes.
When the macaroni is tender, drain it in a colander. Immediately place it back in the pot you boiled it in and stir in the sauce. Place pot on low heat and stir for 3 minutes or so, until the sauce is thickened a bit and everything is deliciously creamy. Taste for salt, toss in the brussel sprouts and serve!
(In the pic I put some extra chipotles in, but that was just for show. Unless you like things REALLY spicy you can skip that.)
Makes 16 rolls
Total time: 3 hours || Active time: 40 minutes
I always swoon over photos of negimaki. Beautifully grilled teriyaki rolls stuffed with vibrant scallions. See? Did you swoon?
A vegan version is easy enough. The meat = seitan and the scallions = well, those are already vegan, silly! I tried to keep the ingredients list as simple as possible. The characteristics that I wanted to really shine were the charred grilled flavor and, of course, the scallions. The simple marinade of hoison and mirin really does its job, keeping things juicy with the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.
Don’t feel like you can’t serve these unless you’re having an all-out Japanese feast. If you’re hosting a little garden soiree (or just watching TV, or catering a bar mitvah…) you can serve these rolls right along hummus and stuffed mushrooms. I guess I take a fairly laid-back approach to menu planning; it’s more about the balance of the overall menu rather than following a strict flavor profile outlined by national borders. So I just try to have a good mix of fresh and cooked items, grains and proteins. The more flavors the merrier.
That said, these would be wonderful served alongside sushi or a Japanse noodle dish. Maybe with a fresh, gingery salad? You can even serve negimaki over rice, with some steamed veggies, as a main course.
However you choose to serve, have fun with it! It’s a really playful and delicious grill recipe that is worth the extra effort. SWOOOOON.
~To simmer the seitan, you’ll need a pot that is at least 9 inches at the base. A 5 or 6 quart pot oughtta’ do it. If you’ve only got a 4-quart, then slice the seitan log in two before simmering.
~ Make the seitan a day in advance, so that it can cool in the gingery broth overnight. Or at least give it plenty of time to cool.
~ This recipe makes more seitan than you’ll need, but that’s ok! It may take a couple of tries before you get the strips perfectly thin for wrapping. And any left over seitan will be great in a stir-fry.
~ I made these on an indoor grill, but they’ll work outdoors, too! You might want to soak the toothpicks in water, so that they don’t burn too badly.
For the simmering broth:
8 cups vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup fresh sliced ginger
For the seitan:
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup soy sauce
For the marinade:
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Sriracha (plus extra for garnish)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, microplaned or minced to a paste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 bunches scallions, green parts only, sliced 3 to 4 inches long
A few tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Plain wooden toothpicks
Make the seitan:
Place all the ingredients for the simmering broth in the pot and bring to a boil. In the meantime, make the seitan.
Combine wheat gluten and nutritional yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the water and soy sauce and knead until it forms a stiffish dough, two to three minutes.
Form dough into a flat log that is roughly 8 inches long and 4 inches wide.
When the broth is boiling, lower heat to a simmer and submerge the seitan. Simmer for 30 minutes, leaving the lid ajar so that steam can escape. Let cool completely in the broth.
Once seitan is cool, start the marinade. Simply mix all ingredients together in a wide, shallow bowl.
Now, slice the seitan. You want it to be about an 1/8 inch thick, but it doesn’t have to be perfectly even (you can see in the pic that mine wasn’t.) Just make sure that a the slice can wrap around your pinky nicely, without breaking or being unruly.
Once you have 16 slices, place them in the marinade for an hour, flipping occasionally.
Assemble and cook:
In the marinade bowl, move all the seitan to the side, and add the sliced scallions, coating them in sauce. So your bowl should be one side seitan and one side scallion, more or less.
Form the rolls on a dinner plate, to avoid messiness. Take a slice of marinated seitan and place it on a dinner plate. Place 4 or 5 scallions across, so that scallions will poke out of the ends an inch or so. Now roll the seitan around the scallion, and secure it with a toothpick or two. Make sure that the toothpicks are going in the same direction, so that you’ll be able to grill them without toothpick interference.
Once rolls are formed, heat the grill over medium heat. Spray or brush grill with oil, and cook rolls until grill marks appear. I did 8 at a time, and it took about 4 minutes on my indoor cast iron grill. Use a metal spatula to get under the rolls and flip them, spraying more oil as necessary. Cook on the other side until grill marks appear.
Transfer rolls to a serving plate. When ready to serve, drizzle with leftover marinade, and some Sriracha (if you like it spicy, it’s ok to leave off) and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve!
Total time: 20 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes
My midwestern summer has been severely stunted. I’ve planted at least three times because: SNOW IN MAY?!??! But hopefully things are on the right track now. Snap peas are poking their little green heads out of the soil, and I’ve even got some strawberries that look like they might ripen any day. But, thankfully, I’ve also got the grocery store and I’ve been stocking up of fresh, juicy pints of organic strawberries almost every single day.
I use strawberries in a million ways, from ice cream to barbeque sauce, but I really really love strawberry salads, especially when the little guys are at their ripest. The berries take to tangy ingredients so beautifully, their aromatic sweetness providing a perfect balance. I love this simple salad with mâche, which, if you’ve never had it, is a velvetty salad green with a complex flavor; earthy, nutty, grassy and peppery all at once! It’s pronounced like “mosh” for all you punks, and sometimes it’s called “corn salad” or “lamb’s lettuce.” I know that gardens and CSA boxes are overflowing with mâche this time of year, and I was even able to purchase some at my local Whole Foods.
The end result is dizzyingly delicious with the addition of fresh basil and toasted almonds. If you’ve never strawberried a salad, now is the time.
~ If you can’t find any mâche, then a spinach/arugula mix would be really nice, too.
~ I love the look and texture of whole grain mustard in the dressing, but some regular old dijon would be just as delicious!
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, microplaned or minced to a paste
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Fresh black pepper
For the salad:
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 oz mâche
12 oz strawberries, stems removed, berries quartered
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
10 basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
To make the dressing, just mix all of the ingredients together in a little bowl.
Next, toast the almonds. Preheat a small pan over medium low heat. Toast for about 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until honey brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
To assemble salad, In a large mixing bowl, toss together mâche, strawberries and red onion. Add the dressing, and toss to coat. Top with almonds and basil, and serve!
Serves 2 to 4
Total time: 15 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes
I love that zucchini can be cut into noodly strips and called “raw pasta.” But I also love that you can make a raw zucchini salad!
Despite what a lifetime of overcooked zucchini might have you believe, zuke actually has flavor. It’s delicate, yes, but fresh and verdant. When eaten raw, it’s delightfully crunchy, and perfect for a light lunch or alongside a sandwich or veggie burger.
I dressed it really simply, but don’t be deceived, it still has flavor to spare. There’s lots of garlic; like, enough to ward of kisses for at least several days. A touch of olive oil and some fresh tomato dress it beautifully. And basil makes everything pop like a springtime garden in your mouth.
Sometimes it’s the simple things. Enjoy!
~ If you’re looking for a more substantial salad, you can bulk it up. Add chickpeas, toasted walnuts, and avocado. Yum!
~ Don’t worry about getting the zucchini into perfect ribbons. Simply give the zuke a preliminary peel so that you don’t have too much skin (unless you like that.) Then place on a cutting board and peel into rustic ribbons, turning the zuke as you go. You might have a little nub left over, so just slice it up and add to the salad. Really, you can’t go wrong. Anyway you slice it (har har) it’s going to be great.
~ Use a non-serrated peeler if you can, or your ribbons will have ridges. Not the biggest deal, but probably worth mentioning.
~ You want to serve this as soon as possible, to retain its crunch and freshness. If you let it sit for awhile, it will become more like a slaw.
1 cup diced fresh tomato (from 1 average sized tomato)
10 large basil leaves, thinly sliced (plus extra small leaves, to garnish)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb zucchini, peeled into ribbons (see note above)
Fresh black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the tomato, basil, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Add a big pinch of salt and some fresh black pepper. Let that sit as you prep the zucchini.
When zucchini is ready, add to the bowl and using your hands, toss to coat. Taste for salt. Garnish with basil leaves and serve!
Makes 16 rolls
Total time: 45 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes
I just took my first trip to London and I’ll write more about that soon, but the first thing I felt like making when I came home was…Vietnamese-inspired food! Perhaps my palette was overloaded with mashed potatoes and delicious gravies, and I needed the bright fresh flavors of ginger and mint.
I have an obsession with Southeast Asian food, and until I take my dream trip to Vietnam, I’ll gratefully settle for my favorite Vietnamese here in the states, like Lan in NYC and Jasmine 26 in Minneapolis. And, of course, whatever I make at home.
This time, it’s rice paper rolls. Call them summer rolls, if you prefer! They are the perfect appetizer for any occasion, really. I served these with a rich coconut curry, but they’d be just as at home at a summer BBQ or on their own for lunch.
For me, the most important characteristic of a rice paper roll is freshness. Fresh ingredients and fresh wrappers. The rice paper should be supple, and the temperature should be chilly. Inside, there should be crunch and clean flavors. I like to save the spicy assertive notes for the sauce.
I love how beautiful my cutting board looks with the simple ingredients for stuffing inside!
Here we’ve got my favorite cabbage to eat raw, nappa cabbage. It has a gardeny flavor and the perfect amount of snap; not too difficult to chew. Carrots, cut into matchsticks, for their color and crunchiness. Avocado to add a creamy fattiness that is the perfect foil for all of the veggies. And you can’t have rice paper rolls without fresh herbs! Mint and cilantro make these rolls pop. Since I served these as part of a larger meal, I didn’t feel a need to add tofu, but you totally can, if you like. Baked or sauteed and sliced into strips is ideal.
The peanut dipping sauce employs a little cheating ingredient: red curry paste. This way, we don’t have to do any more chopping or cooking, everything goes into a little blender and 30 seconds later a spicy, peanutty, gingery, tangy sauce appears. Magic! Just double check your red curry paste for fishy ingredients. Thai Kitchen paste is widely available and vegan.
If you’ve never worked with rice paper wrapper before, don’t be intimidated! Follow my notes below and you can not go wrong. And even if you do, no big deal. There are, like, a million wrappers in a package last time I counted. But really, it’s all about the fun, so grab a friend and get rolling! You’ll be a pro in no time. Now go get fresh.
~ These tips are all going to be for how to keep your rice paper rolls from ripping. But as I said, if one rips, it really doesn’t matter. Either eat it anyway (as a test subject!) or empty out the ingredients and start again. NBD.
~ When adding the wrappers to the warm water, add them one at a time. If you put them all in at once in a pile, they’ll stick together. Do 3 or 4 at a time, adding them into the bowl individually.
~ Keep a clean towel nearby, to wipe your hands and keep them dry. This keeps the slipperiness to a minimum. Also, wipe down your rolling plate every now and again to keep it from being too slippery.
~ Don’t overfill the rolls. I’m including a pic to give you an idea of how much filling to add, but don’t worry, if you’re using too much filling, you’ll figure it out quickly.
~ Avoid having pointy sharp ingredients right at the surface of the wrapper. Carrot sticks and cilantro stems like to poke through the wrapper, so as best you can, try to prevent that.
~ Reserve extra nappa cabbage leaves for serving. The wrappers like to stick to the surface of plates, but they lift easily away from cabbage leaves.
For the Red Curry Peanut Sauce:
3 tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon agave
1 teaspoon sriracha (or more to taste)
1/4 cup water
For the Rice Paper Rolls:
22 cm rice paper wrappers (8 or 9 inches)
1 head nappa cabbage, a few leaves reserved, the rest thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup fresh mint leaves
A lot of fresh cilantro springs (about a 1/2 bunch)
First, make the sauce. Just put all of the ingredients into a small blender and blend until smooth. Add a few tablespoons water if needed, to thin. Taste for seasoning and keep sealed until ready to use.
OK, now let’s get rolling!
Prep all ingredients and lay them out on a cutting board. Drizzle the sliced avocado with lime or lemon juice to prevent browning.
Have ready a dinner plate to roll on. Also, have a baking dish lined with moist paper towels, to place the rolls once ready. This will keep them fresh and prevent sticking.
Use a large bowl, wide enough to accommodate the rice paper wrappers. Fill the bowl with really really warm water, that is not too hot to handle. You’ll have to refresh the water a few times while rolling, to keep it warm.
Add 3 or 4 wrappers to the warm water, one at a time, and dunk them in to submerge. Let steep for a minute or so, until nice and soft.
Remove a wrapper from the water. Handle gently and patiently, and spread it out on the plate. It won’t be perfect, but that’s ok, just get it as flat as you can without being too fussy.
Place a bit of cabbage, a few carrot sticks, a slice or two of avocado, and a generous amount of cilantro in the lower third of the wrapper. Add a few leaves of mint. Like so:
Now fold the sides over the filling, and roll up the bottom of the roll, tucking it over the filling, and continuing to roll until it’s, well, a roll!
Place each roll in the baking dish and cover with damp paper towels to keep fresh. You can even make these a day in advance, wrapping the dish tightly in plastic wrap, until ready to use.
Serve with sauce, and if you’d like to be fancy, you can cut them in half and place standing cut-side up on a cabbage roll. Pretty!
Makes 12 cupcakes
This combo is basically heaven to me. Butterscotch and bacon have a caramelly affinity for one another and I love the sweet salty combo. As for the bacon craze: I get it. Add some smokiness to the mix and you’ve got something really special. But I love pigs, they are cute and smart, and so my bacon comes in plant form.
Now, this recipe really elucidates vegan rule #14 “Vegans can and will make bacon out of everything.” Hide your eggplants, protect your carrots and build a safehouse for your coconut because the vegans are coming for their BLTs. And cupcakes.
But before you yell at me about how inaccessible this recipe is, let me state: you can make these into plain old (but deliciously amazing exceptionally wonderful) Vanilla Cupcakes With Vanilla Frosting. I, however, had just come into a windfall of Coconut Bacon and I was determined to use it. My boyfriend does this blog, The Laziest Vegans In The World, and he purchased a bunch of Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon. Honestly, I mostly ignore the stuff he eats (unless it’s chocolate, duh), but I was pretty intrigued because, well, see above. I love vegan bacon. And I especially loved the simple ingredients list and, yum, is this stuff ever smoky and good! Because it’s made from coconut, it just seemed right to put it in a sweet treat. You can order Coconut Bacon or make it yourself.
The second exciting part of this post is about the coconut-based frosting and cupcake. Not to get too heavy-handed in a post about cupcakes, but I also love orangutans. Just today I saw a heartbreaking article about what palm oil production is doing to orangutan habitats. Although there are claims of sustainability from some companies, there is too much conflicting information about it. And so, awhile ago I decided not to use palm oil in my recipes. Which, unfortunately, means I won’t be using any vegan butters (for now.) So this recipe uses an applesauce-coconut oil concoction that I find works perfectly for buttery baked goods.
Now that I’ve made this recipe totally depressing, let me brighten it up! As I mentioned, these make perfect vanilla cupcakes as well. The cupcake is already vanilla, so we’re good there, and for the frosting, simply replace the extract with pure vanilla. Since vanilla is much less powerful than butterscotch, use a bit more. Say 1 1/2 teaspoons. And dress ‘em up with some cute naturally colored sprinkles or whatever else makes you forget about all of the misery in the world.
OK, now go forth and be sweet and salty!
~ I don’t want to scare you off, working with coconut oil isn’t difficult, but you do need to pay attention to a few things. You can not do a one for one swap, or your baked goods will come out greasy because coconut oil pretty much pure fat, whereas margarine has some water and other ingredients in there. I really like to use a little unsweetened apple sauce in combination with the coconut oil. For 1/2 cup of margarine use about 1/3 cup coconut oil and 2 tablespoons applesauce, as I’ve done here.
~ For the frosting, you have to work warm. Otherwise the coconut oil coagulates and just doesn’t act how you want it too. So follow the directions, paying attention to the temperature of both the melted coconut oil and the warm milk.
~ Use refined coconut oil, because otherwise the coconut flavor will be very pronounced. Just be sure that the jar says “expeller pressed” so that you know it’s not overly processed or hydrogenated.
~ If you can’t find vegan butterscotch extract, you can order it online. I think it’s worth it to have around, since it’s such an easy and affordable way to elevate your baked goods with a special flavor. One bottle will last you a lifetime.
~ Lastly, I made these cupcakes into minis. But I am giving directions for full-sized. If you want to make them into minis, bake for 16 minutes, and be advised that they make about 3 dozen minis.
For the vanilla cupcakes:
1 cup plain almond milk, or favorite vegan milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the butterscotch frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted if clumpy)
2 or 3 tablespoons warm plain almond milk, or favorite vegan milk (divided)
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
3/4 teaspoon butterscotch extract
1/2 cup coconut bacon, prepared or homemade
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and spray lightly with cooking spray oil.
In a measuring cup, mix together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar, and set aside to curdle.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on medium speed to beat the coconut oil, apple sauce and sugars, until it appears caramelly. Now add 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt, and beat again. Add half of the milk and another 1/2 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Staggering the milk/flour helps to achieve a smooth and even batter. Add the remaining milk and flour and beat just until smooth.
Fill cupcake liners most of the way. Bake cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, until a butter knife inserted through the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely, and in the meantime, prepare the frosting.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip the sugar and a pinch of salt with 2 tablespoons of warm milk and half of the melted coconut oil, until well combined. It should be thick but pliable and almost smooth. Add the remaining coconut oil and, if necessary, the remaining tablespoon of warm milk, along with the butterscotch extract. Beat until totally smooth and ribbony.
Refrigerate for about an hour, and whip again. It should be ready to use now! If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon or so of warm milk, until you get the right consistency.
To assemble cupcakes:
Use a large tablespoon to scoop on a good sized amount of frosting. Smooth is out with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle on a scant tablespoon or so of coconut bacon. Serve!
Total time: 90 minutes (1-hour marinade) || Active time: 20 minutes
A few things happened this week that had me searing up this succulent tempeh with a bright, fresh, tangy, garlicky, herby sauce.
One was a long conversation at Omaha Vegan Drinks with our friend Hector, who is from Argentina, the land of chimichurri. I would love to visit someday, and he was telling me about some of the traditional foods. (PS They are verrry meat-centric.)
And then the next day, I heard this fabulous story on NPR about a tempeh cooperative in Jakarta, another place on my travel wish-list: “Journey To Java’s ‘Tempeh Village’: Where Soybean Cakes Are Born.” You can read or listen here.
It got me thinking about traditional vegan foods and food history and food future. And how vegan cuisine plays with traditions from all over the world bringing together every corner of our little planet. And so here we are, with Tempeh Chimichurri.
One of my favorite quotes from Hendeko, the tempeh coop manager: “My world revolves around tempeh, I have tempeh every day. Even though there are other dishes, a meal just wouldn’t feel the same without tempeh.”
I sliced the tempeh thin here so that it would soak up plenty of marinade. Simply slice tempeh into four slabs, then cut each slab in half, like a sandwich. See?
And then I reserved plenty of chimichurri for pouring over the finished dish, so that you get all those bright, fresh flavors. Saute up some asparagus for a few minutes, before cooking the tempeh, and you can serve with a baked potato as well.
And there you have it, a trip to Indonesia and Argentina, all in one.
~This recipe serves 2 as an entree, but if you’d like to serve 4, it’s easy. Simply make an extra half serving of the marinade, no need to double it. That will be enough for a pound of tempeh.
~If this is your first time working with tempeh, I wrote a tempeh primer for the Washington Post awhile back. Give it a read!
~If you wanna’ just make the chimichurri, that’s cool, too! It makes a great sauce for black beans, kale and quinoa.
8 oz tempeh, sliced into 8 thin slabs (see pic above)
For the chimichurri:
4 cloves garlic
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup veg broth
For the additional marinade:
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
Olive oil spray
Sauteed or steamed veggies
Baked potato or rice
First, steam tempeh for 10 minutes. This softens up the tempeh and gets it ready to soak up plenty of marinade.
Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. Simply blend all of the sauce ingredients (not the tamari, though) until relatively smooth.
When tempeh is steamed, pour half a cup of chimichurri into a measuring cup and add the soy sauce. (You want the soy sauce in the marinade, but not the finished chimichurri, it would be too aggressive and salty.) Reserve the rest of the chumichurri for pouring over the cooked tempeh.
Place warm tempeh on a plate and pour marinade over. Rub the marinade into the tempeh. Let sit for an hour, flipping once, and rubbing in the marinade again.
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with a thin layer of oil. Place tempeh in a single layer and cook for 4 minutes or so, until lightly browned. Spray with more oil, and flip tempeh, cooking for 3 more minutes. Now add the remaining from the plate marinade and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, flipping occasionally.
Serve tempeh over veggies, drizzled with more fresh chimichurri.
Total time: 40 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes
My mailman rarely talks to me, but he made sure to tell me that this soup smelled great when I was cooking it. So, there you go, endorsed by the US Postal Service.
The thing about this soup, is that it’s almost the only time in the world where I don’t rinse the canned beans. The whole shebang is poured right in, creating a flavorful full-bodied broth that is so monumentally satisfying with the chewy quinoa. Of course, we have our usual black bean soup suspects — cumin, oregano, bay, cilantro — and all that flavor just gets sealed into the delicious broth. It’s familiar but definitely not ordinary.
You can certainly customize to your desires; add some kale at the end, maybe even potatoes with the carrots, or corn. I would have used jalapenos if I had some on hand, too. But the red pepper flakes provide a nice heat and this soup hits the spot if you’re craving something spicy and filling, that you can throw avocado on.
~If you’re wondering why I add only half of the broth at first, it’s so that it boils faster, thus cooking the quinoa faster. It’s just something I do.
~If you’re wondering why I don’t add the beans with the broth at first, it’s because when soup is thick, it takes longer to cook the quinoa. So I let it cook most of the way, then toss in the remaining liquids.
~Black beans tend to be salty, so I’m not adding a specific quantity of salt here. Definitely salt to taste!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup quinoa
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4 inch pieces or so
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 24 oz can black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and saute with the onions for a few seconds. Then add tomato, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or so, just to break down the tomatoes a bit.
Add quinoa, carrots and bay leaves, and then pour in 2 cups of the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes or so, until al dente (that’s mostly tender with a little bite.)
Add the remainder of the broth, the black beans with their cooking liquid, and the cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes or so, to cook the quinoa the rest of the way.
Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry. Remove bay leaves and serve topped with crushed tortillas, avocado and cilantro.
Makes 8 mini-poundcakes
These cakes are just lovely and darling. The crumb is somehow both dense and fluffy. The edges are crispy and sweet. And the almond flavor is simply bangin’.
And you know how I came up with the recipe? From my box of almond paste! Yes, I shamelessly ripped open the package and veganized one of the recipes that came inside. I actually made it several times, because I didn’t have the correct sized loaf pan, and instead of going out and getting the right size, I thought it was a better idea to futz with the recipe like five times.
Well, by the sixth time, I decided to just make them minis. Minis are so fun and giftable, and you can slice them up and serve with a little vegan cream and strawberries. It’s totally worth it to get a mini-loaf pan, I recommend this one. But if you have a 9×5 loaf pan, you can use that instead. I think the baking time will be more like 50 minutes to an hour, lowering the heat to 325 F after 40 minutes.
~I was lazy and simply used some premade vegan cream. I recommend either SoyAToo in a box (not the can), or Healthy Top.
~You can make a cute little bite-sized dessert outta’ these, that might be perfect for Spring holiday snacking. Slice a few of the loaves 1/4 inch thick, and top with a dollop of cream and a sliced strawberry. Now you’ve got a great little sweet that’s easy to grab.
~You can also make these into little individual cakes (or, fine, call them cupcakes) by using a muffin tin. Baking time will probably be around 24 minutes. Top with cream and sliced strawberry.
~Marzipan and almond paste are different things, believe it or not. Will marzipan work here? Ya know, maybe it would, but proceed at your own risk because I haven’t tried it.
7 oz almond paste
6 oz extra firm silken tofu (vacuum packed kind, like Mori-nu)
1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8-loaf mini-loaf pan.
Break almond paste up into smaller pieces and drop into a blender. Add the tofu, almond milk, and sugar. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything. Add the vanilla and stream in the melted coconut oil and blend again.
Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until smooth. An electric hand mixer will work best because the batter is quite thick, but a strong metal whisk will get the job done, too.
Fill mini-loaf compartments about 3/4 full, this should be about 1/2 cup of batter. Bake for for 30 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F and bake for 10 more minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with cream and strawberries.
I received this question on Facebook after posting Rice Noodle Salad With Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette:
“What is the secret to getting nicely browned, crispyish tofu, like what a restaurant would serve? Mine always comes out kinda soft, mushy, etc. I recently tried a firmer tofu – I even pressed out the water. It was better, but still not what I was hoping for. Any tips?
Signed, Soggy Soy In Sacramento”
Dear Soggy Soy,
You are definitely off to a good start by using firmer tofu. I recommend extra-firm tofu, but you can even find super-firm varieties. And yes, pressing tofu is great for soaking up marinade. But the secret to nicely browned tofu isn’t necessarily the tofu itself. The secret is (cue ominous music)….your equipment.
Now, I’m not saying to go out and purchase a $12,000 Viking stove (but if you get one, pick one up for me, too.) The tools I recommend are affordable objects that will take you a long, long way.
1) A cast iron pan. A well-seasoned cast iron pan, to be specific. Even a good quality stainless steel pan won’t do the trick, unless you’re frying it in tons of oil. And even then, your “mush risk” may be high. And those cheapo non-stick pans, well, they may work for a few months, but yuck.
Cast iron will last you a lifetime. And through that lifetime, it’s functions will only improve, because the more you use it, the smoother and more non-stick it becomes.
Because it heats quickly and evenly, it’s ideal for tossing around tofu with minimal oil, without fear or burning or mushing. And another added benefit is that it can go from stovetop to oven, if you ever need to finish something off down below. So get yourself a preseasoned cast iron pan and fall in love. Or better yet, steal a really well-seasoned one from your best friend’s mom, like I did. It’s from the seventies and works like a charm!
And the next most important tool is….
2) A thin, flexible metal spatula. Nothing fancy. Those big ergonomic plastic spatulas may seem friendly, but they’re like clumsy uncles on the dancefloor, tripping everyone else up. You can tell just by looking at them: they are way too thick to flip tofu efficiently. Even if you get your tofu perfectly browned, the spatula can not physically get under the browning to keep it intact. Instead, it tears the “skin” off, leaving the beautifully cooked layer stuck to the pan, and a sad mushy piece of tofu floating around willy nilly.
Before you ask: Wooden spatula? No, pretty much the same problem. Save that for soups. Thin plastic spatula? Uh-uh. Not strong and not precise enough. Some other kind of metal spatula? Not those stiff stainless steel ones. Your spatula needs flexibility. It’s all about sneaking it’s way between the browned surface and the pan.
The good/bad part is that they don’t make spatulas like they used to. The best ones that I’ve found come from thrift stores, and cost under a dollar. Fancy-ass kitchen supply stores tend to only carry the tofu-hating kinds of spatulas. So if you’re buying new, look for those super cheap ones in your supermarket or at a dollar store.
Allow these Instagrams to demonstrate:
Now that we’ve got the equipment covered, let me give you a little advice on actually sauteeing your tofu.
Preheat the cast-iron pan to medium. Don’t add tofu to a cold or luke-warm pan. It needs to hit heat so that it can sear. If you don’t hear a sizzle immediately, your heat is too low. Don’t be shy, turn it up.
Always lightly oil the pan before adding the tofu. A little spray of oil should do it. In fact, I think the less oil you use, the better. You can add a little more as needed during cooking.
Once tofu is in the pan, sprinkle with a little salt, for flavor and for drawing out the moisture.
Let it cook for a few minutes before flipping. The beginning stages of cooking, when the water is being drawn out, aren’t ideal for flipping. The skin may be adhering to the surface of the pan too much. But in a few minutes, when it’s lightly browned, it will release, and become easy to sneak your spatula underneath to flip.
And, that is pretty much it. Flip tofu to brown on all sides, but don’t fuss over getting it perfectly uniform. It really shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes. Then your tofu is ready to be smothered in sauces, stuffed into sandwiches and sacrificed in stir-fries. If you use this method, you don’t even need to press the tofu beforehand, a cursory squeeze over the sink should suffice, just to get a bit of the water out.
So, I hope this wasn’t so long as to be intimidating. Really, it’s nothing. You flip some tofu around in a hot pan. End of story. End of mush. Now let’s get some tofu browning!
And if you want to read more about cast iron and seasoning, here are a few great links:
A very thorough investigation of cast-iron seasoning and upkeep
How to season a cast-iron skillet. But read the entire series on the Ktchn.
Makes 20 hors d’oeuvres
Total time: 1 1/2 hours || Active time: 20 minutes
I know. Adorable, right?
A tender roasted potato with a creamy, eggy filling. Sprinkled with a little paprika and a sprig of dill, they taste as irresistible as they look.
My first meeting with deviled potatoes was when my friend Lauren made them for an Omaha potluck. And of course I came to expect an inviting trayful at all subsequent potlucks. But then Lauren moved away and I was stuck staring at a tray of…nothing. Only my own tears.
The recipe she used (and I think most people use this one) is from VegWeb, called Potato Angels. Awww!
I wanted to make a version that would be perfect for Passover or Easter. Pop them into one of those vintage egg trays and impress everyone.
Happy first day of Spring, everyone!
~A little black salt, called kala namak, is used for the eggy flavor, but you can use regular old salt, too. Just reduce the amount to 3/4 teaspoon. But kala namak is a really fun ingredient, and great in tofu egg salads, or vegan omelets, so pick some up at a specialty shop or order it for good times.
~I actually didn’t have a vintage egg tray, so I cut off just a tiny sliver of potato at the bottom, to prevent wobbling. But a little wobble isn’t going to hurt anyone.
~Try to find egg-shaped yukon gold potatoes that are all as close in size as possible. As you can see from the pic, they aren’t going to be totally perfect, but that adds to the cuteness.
~Use a jar of ground black pepper instead of fresh ground black pepper. I dunno, it just kind of adds to the authenticity!
~If you don’t have a pastry tip you can slice off the corner of a plastic bag with a 1/2 inch slit and pipe the filling in that way. Alternatively, you can use a rounded tablespoon to scoop it in. But get a pastry bag and pastry tip (I used Wilton 4B), it’s fun!
1 1/2 lbs small thin-skinned potatoes, like yukon gold (about 10)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
3/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kala manak black salt (or 3/4 teaspoon regular salt)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
A big pinch black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice potatoes across the waist and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Rub potatoes to coat, and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
In the meantime, drain the cashews and place them in the blender with vegetable broth and turmeric. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your blender.
When potatoes are tender, remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, but still hot, scoop the centers out with a melon baller or rounded teaspoon, leaving about 1/4 inch lining of potato inside.
Place the scooped out potato into a mixing bowl and mash until smooth. It’s important that they’re still warm so that they mash well. Add the cashew cream mixture, salt, lemon juice and black pepper, and continue to mash until well incorporated. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that the mixture stiffens up.
Once cool, scoop into pastry bag fit with a medium sized serrated tip (I use Wilton 4B) and fill potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika and top with a little sprig of thyme. Keep chilled until ready to serve! These taste best at room temp, I think. Enjoy!
Serves 4 (Doubles well)
Active time: 30 minutes || Total time: 30 minutes
If this were an item on a fancy restaurant menu it would be all: Chilled Rice Noodles In Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette. Then there would be a clean typeface listing all of the components with a classy flourish — “ruby grapefruit, sesame smoked tofu, black sesame, mint.” And then you’d be like “I’ll take three, please!”
This is a really pleasing spin on a Vietnamese noodle salad. It’s bright, fresh, zesty and studded with savory smoky flavors, too. What I love about cold noodle salads like this, is how the contrasting flavors create something otherworldly. And it’s easy on the eyes, as well. Pretty jewels of ruby red grapefruit, set off with the black sesame seeds. Wasn’t pink and black your favorite color combo in the 80s? Yes, mine, too!
The dressing on its own would be nice to keep bottled up in the fridge this spring. Is there any sweeter music to the ears than Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette?
And just one last thing. Don’t you get annoyed when your camera phone pics look better than the pics from your real camera? Such is the case here. (PS I’m on Instagram: IsaChandra.)
~I used super firm tofu, because it doesn’t need to be pressed or anything, and it browns up in cast iron quickly and beautifully. You can buy it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, for sure, and probably other places, too. And ya know, if you’re super lazy, you could just buy some smoked tofu. (While we’re at it, you can use a half block of pressed extra firm tofu instead. )
~I sliced my tofu into matchsticks that were about 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long. You can also do a small dice, if you prefer.
~Ooh, you know what else might be good? Instead of tofu, saute chickpeas in the smokey soy mixture. I bet that’d be yummy.
~Sriracha lovers: feel free to add a little extra! It’s got some heat, obviously, but I’d say it’s like, oh, let’s say a four on the one to ten heat scale.
~I used mini cucumbers, but you can use large ones sliced into half moons, instead.
~If you’d rather a green salad, that would be delicious, too! Just replace the noodles with crisp greens.
~Two large, juicy red grapefruits will be enough for this salad. One for its juice, the other to slice into the salad.
~Diced avocado would be great on this, too! I didn’t happen to have any.
For the tofu:
8 oz super-firm tofu, sliced into thick matchsticks (see pic)
3 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
3/4 cup fresh red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the salad:
8 oz pad thai rice noodles
2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced (about a cup)
1 red grapefruit, cut into segments then halved
Black sesame seeds
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh mint
(I used sliced fresnos for garnish but, eh, you don’t need em.)
First, boil water for the noodles. While water is boiling prepare the tofu, prep veggies, and make dressing.
Prepare the tofu:
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
Measure the tamari, sesame oil and liquid smoke out onto a dinner plate. Dredge the tofu pieces into the mixture and toss to coat.
Spray pan with a little canola oil. Cook tofu, flipping often, until lightly to medium browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Prepare the noodles:
Once water has come to a boil, prepare rice noodles according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Once noodles are tender, transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool completely. Set aside.
Make the dressing:
Simply add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until very smooth. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Assemble the salad:
Toss together noodles, cucumbers, grapefruit segments and tofu. Coat with dressing, using your hands to mix (this way, you don’t break the tofu or smush the grapefruit). Garnish each individual serving with sesame seeds and mint. Serve cold!
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes
Oh my shamrocks, this is good. A fluffy potato biscuit soaking up a deeply savory gravy that is at once mysterious and familiar. The stout really gives this dish an allure, and two kinds of mushrooms make it meaty and earthy and just umami like nobody’s business. And ya know, for a special occasion, it’s not tooooo fussy.
I’m going to give you a few options here for the filling: one with frozen thawed tofu and one with straight-up kidney beans. I enjoyed both, with a slight preference for kidney beans only. My boyfriend, however, vastly prefered the tofu version. And he’s Scottish. And Scotland is near Ireland. So, you know, he’s kind of an authority.
I think it would also be great with some sauteed seitan or a few seitan sausages. But I’ll shut up now, and get to the recipe. Happy St. Paddy’s everyone!
UPDATED: I changed the broth to 3 cups after a few people said theirs looked a lot thinner than mine.
~ For the tofu variation:
Omit 1/2 of the kidney beans. Freeze and thaw a 14 oz block of extra firm tofu. Press tofu to remove excess water (wrap in a kitchen towel and place a heavy book and a few cans on top, for an hour or so.) Cut 1/2 inch dice and add to the pot when you add the beans.
~ This recipe calls for “leftover mashed potatoes” but you may not have any laying around! To make about the cup called for here, microwave a russet potato, and mash with 1/4 cup unsweetened vegan milk, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let cool, then measure and use!
~ Stout is often processed with animal products (namely, isinglass, from fish) so check out Barnivore to see if a brand is vegan-friendly or not.
~ If you don’t have a stovetop-to-oven pot, then simply make the stew, place it in a 9×13 casserole and form the biscuits into a rectangle instead of a circle. Slice and arrange them on top of the casserole and bake as directed.
~ If you’re feeling lazy, or just want a simpler weeknight meal, make the stew portion of the recipe, and leave off the biscuits. Serve with some nice crusty bread.
For the stew:
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced medium
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 lb carrots, peeled, sliced into thin half moons
1 1/4 cups stout beer
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Fresh black pepper (a lot!)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups cooked kidney beans – 2 15 oz cans rinsed & drained [see note for tofu version]
For the biscuits:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes [see note on leftover mashed potatoes]
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
Make the stew:
Place porcinis in a bowl that’s large enough to contain the 4 cups vegetable broth. If the porcinis look large, tear them into bite sized pieces. Boil the vegetable broth and pour it over the porcinis. Cover with a plate to keep hot, and prep everything you need for the recipes. This will soften them and make the recipe a bit faster.
Preheat a stovetop-to-oven dutch oven over medium heat. (See notes for non-dutch oven directions.) Saute onions and a pinch of salt in oil until until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, for about a minute, until fragrant.
Add sliced cremini mushroom (not the porcinis yet), celery, thyme and rosemary (crush herbs in your fingers) and saute for 5 minutes, until mushrooms release moisture and brown slightly.
Add carrots, stout, tomato paste, fresh black pepper and salt and bring to a boil. The liquid should reduce in about 3 minutes.
Add porcinis and vegetable broth, cover and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes or so, to finish cooking the porcinis.
Once porcinis are soft, in a measuring cup, mix the flour into one cup of cold water with a fork until no lumps are left.
Slowly add the water/flour to the pot, mixing well as you go. Let thicken for 5 minutes or so. Add the kidney beans, turn heat off and cover to keep warm. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425F and make the biscuits.
Make the biscuits:
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, use a fork to mix together mashed potatoes, olive oil and water. It should be very loose and mushy.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add the potato mixture. Mix with a fork until a stiff dough starts to form, then turn the dough on to a clean surface and knead a few times to smooth out. Flatten into a disc 2 inches smaller than the pot with the stew in it. Slice like a tic tac toe board into 9 pieces and arrange the pieces on top of the stew.
Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top, and bubbling up thickly around the biscuits.
Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then serve!