January 12, 2013

Chickpea & Rice Soup With A Little Kale

Serves 6
Total time: 40 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes

Chickpea & Rice Soup

See those sets of footprints in the snow? Now notice where one set disappears? That was when soup was carrying you.

It’s January (again? wtf!) in the midwest. The Christmas lights are coming down (well, they should be anyway), the Valentine’s hearts have not yet appeared, and the New Year’s Resolutions are just beginning to wobble. The only thing that’s keeping society from falling to pieces is soup!

Invite a friend over, break some bread (olive sourdough spoken here), and inhale big bowlfuls of comfort like this one. Chewy rice and succulent chickpeas, fragranced with rosemary, thyme and celery, pulled together by luscious cashew cream. And of course I throw in a little kale at the end for good measure. I chose lacinato because it holds its bite, but you, of course, can use whatever you like! Some green onions on top add another whiff of of flavor and even a hint at Springtime, which — hard to believe — is just around the corner. I promise.

Recipe Notes

~ I used red rice here, but you can use whatever you like. Just note that brown rice will have a longer cooking time, so plan accordingly.

~ A good strong broth is essential for flavor here. I recommend Better Than Boullion, No Chicken flavor if you can get your hands on it. So worth it! Especially in the winter months when you might not have any homemade.

~ If — for whatever reason — you don’t want to use cashew cream, unsweetened plain almond or soy milk will work. It doesn’t get as creamy, but it’s still yummy! Just please double and triple check that it’s unsweetened, or it’ll be awkward tasting.

3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours or overnight

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup rice, rinsed (see note about rice)
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, diced chunky
5 cups vegetable broth

1 24 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
4 cups chopped kale

Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of fresh water. 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.

Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and saute a minute more.

Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 15 more minutes, until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.

Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry. Serve topped with green onions.

It thickens as it cools, so if you have leftovers, just thin with a little water when you reheat.

December 30, 2012

Hoppin’ John Bowl With Red Hot Tahini

Serves 6
Total time: 45 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes

Hoppin' John

I am soooo looking forward to the new year. 2012 was one of those that had me screaming “DO OVER!” Still, I know I have a lot to be grateful for and of course December 31st is the perfect time to reflect on that: family, friends, my home, my cats (ok maybe it was hard not to put “cats” first.) But whether or not the year rocked or sucked, it’s always nice to have a clean slate. And a clean kitchen. So let’s start the year off right, with some black eyed peas!

If you only make beans from scratch once a year, definitely make it New Year’s and definitely make them black-eyed peas. Of course, it’s said that these little legumes bring prosperity when eaten on the New Year, a little Southern custom that’s thought to have Jewish roots as well. But let’s leave the origin arguments to the discussion page on Wikipedia, and get down to what matters…the recipe!

Traditional Hoppin’ John is made with ham hock, but in this vegan version we’ll be using “ham mock” or “sham hock,” or whatever vegan pun you prefer, it’s just a little liquid smoke and bay leaves. Since I’m not really content with a few beans over rice, let’s turn the bean around and prepare a full-on bowl. Lots and lots of steamed greens, red rice and smoky beans, smothered in a sauce that keeps up the Southern Jewish theme; a simple concoction of tahini and Frank’s Red Hot! This stuff is irresistible: spicy, nutty, savory, tangy, garlicky bliss. And to cool things down, a little tomato parsley salad is a welcome burst of freshness. This bowl will definitely start the year off right!

From my kitchen to yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL! Here is to a fabulously prosperous 2013, glowing with peace, love and plenty of tahini.

Recipe Notes

~For time management purposes, start the rice and simmer the beans at the same time. While those are working away, throw together the sauce and salad. Steam the greens once everything is ready, since they take a matter of minutes and you don’t want to serve cold greens accidentally.

~If you prefer not to make the beans from scratch (for shame),  you can use two 15 oz cans of beans, rinsed and drained. Heat very gently on the stove top or in the microwave, and sprinkle with a little salt and a few drops of liquid smoke.

~Tahini can vary in liquid from brand to brand. Some are very fluid and others are stiff and chunky. I prefer to use the more liquidy brands. Don’t be surprised if you have to add up to 1/2 cup of extra liquid when making the sauce, depending on the kind of tahini you have.

~Collards are probably the most fitting green to serve here, but the ones at my local Whole Foods were looking kind of sad, so I went with beautiful lacinto kale. Collards take about 7 to 10 minutes to steam, and kale only about 5. Simply discard the rough stems, tear leaves into large pieces, place in your steamer, and flip every few minutes using tongs, while checking for doneness. I like a little snap left in my greens, and consider them done when they’re a bright Godzilla green.

~You can definitely make everything but the greens and tomatoes in advance, if you like! The beans taste even better if they have time to absorb the smoke and seasoning overnight and the sauce keeps well in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.

For the Hoppin’ John:
1 1/2 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

For the Red Hot Tahini:
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup Louisiana Hot Sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup water (plus more as needed)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic

For the Tomato Parsley Salad:
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely sliced green onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several dashes fresh black pepper
Dash salt

1 pound steamed greens (I used lacinto kale, see note)
6 cups cooked rice for serving (I used red rice)

Hoppin' John

Make the Hoppin’ John:
Drain the soaked beans, and place them in a 4 quart pot. Submerge in water, with water coming about 2 inches above the beans. Add bay leaves, salt and liquid smoke. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down low, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Check often so that they don’t overcook. When beans are still firm, turn the heat off and uncover. Let them hang out until everything else is ready. They will continue to cook in the hot water, so turning the heat off ensures that they don’t overcook.

Make the Red Hot Tahini:
Simply blend everything up in a little blender until smooth. A Magic Bullet works perfectly. Add water by the tablespoon to thin as needed. Taste for salt and spiciness.

Make the Tomato Parsley Salad:
Toss all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Taste for pepper and vinegar.

Place greens and rice side by side in a large bowl. Top with black-eyed peas. Drizzle with sauce and top with the tomato salad. Serve immediately and prosper!

November 15, 2012

Voluptuous Pumpkin Pie

Makes one 9 inch pie

This recipe first captured my heart in 2001. I had discovered Myra Kornfeld’s wonderful Voluptuous Vegan and was so happy to have a guide that used so many from-scratch vegan ingredients. This pie was actually my first ever attempt at a homemade vegan pumpkin pie and I haven’t strayed from it since. Why mess with perfection? It’s rich and creamy, and has got the perfect amount of autumn spices. Myra includes a nut topping in her original recipe, but I like mine unadulterated. Well, ok, maybe a little Rad Whip or other creamy topping, but that’s about it. The recipe is slightly modified from Voluptuous Vegan and appears in our pie book, Vegan Pie In The Sky.

Recipe Notes

~ Agar powder is a crucial ingredient here for getting the perfect texture. It’s similar to a vegan gelatin, but made from seaweed, not whatever gross stuff gelatin is made from. It comes in flakes and powder form, but I prefer the powder because it is so fool-proof and easy to work. Check your local Asian market for Telephone brand, or you can order it from Amazon or Vegan Essentials. One small jar will get you through dozens of pies, so it’s a worthwhile ingredient to have on hand.

Single pastry crust, fit into a 9 inch pie plate

3 cups cooked pumpkin or other sweet winter squash
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 /4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon agar powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a blender, pulse together pumpkin, maple syrup, soy milk, canola oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cornstarch and agar powder until very smooth. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 60 to 65 minutes until the center looks semi-firm not liquidy. Check the edges of the crust after baking for 40 minutes; if the edges appear to be browning too rapidly carefully remove the pie and apply crust protectors to the edges to keep from getting too dark.

Remove from oven and onto a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then chill for at least 4 hours before slicing. Serve with Rad Whip, vegan whipped topping or your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream. In the photo, we piped cream around the edges of the pie with a large decorating tip.

October 23, 2012

Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles

Makes 6 eight-inch waffles

Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles

I know a magical place, where blueberries are always in season….my freezer!

For a long time, I had a fear of putting blueberry batter into my waffle iron. I mean, maybe it was a valid concern. The blueberries do sorta’ explode, and that could lead to burning. But I guess you can add “burnt blueberries” to the list of things I no longer fear. The thing is, they taste good. Call them “caramelized,” if you must. The trick is to spread the batter a bit, and close the lid slowly but firmly. You will get beautiful, evenly cooked waffles that are literally bursting with berries!

I love the texture of this waffle; a bit crispy from the oatmeal, but still deliciously moist from the applesauce. It’s the perfect way to start the day. Or, whatever, have waffles for dinner. See if I care!

If you’re looking for a waffle iron recommendation, I love my Cuisinart 8 inch waffle maker. I keep the heat on 3 most of the time. And if you’re in the Omaha area, come to my Vegan Waffle Party at the Omaha Public Library Read It And Eat Culinary Conference on Saturday November 3rd. Don’t forget your bib!

PS I really wanted to get a killer maple syrup food porn shot, but my camera battery died, and waffles wait for no man.

Recipe Notes

~ This recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, which is an amazing variety of wheat that bakes and tastes a bit more like all-purpose flour, with a wholesome tinge. I kinda’ dig wheaty tasting waffles, but if you’d rather use all-purpose, then go ahead! You can also use whole wheat pastry flour, if you prefer.

~ I used regular old plump frozen blueberries, but wild blueberries are a great choice because they’re smaller, which means they distribute more evenly into the batter.

~ Slice leftover waffles and freeze them in a plastic freezer bag. Then just toast and serve whenever you need a waffle fix!

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and allspice into a mixing bowl. Mix in the oats. Make a well in the center and add applesauce, milk, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Stir with just until combined.

Let batter rest for 5 minutes or so, it will thicken a bit. Fold in the blueberries. Don’t worry too much about the blueberries bleeding into the batter, it’s no biggie.

Cook in waffle iron according to manufacturer directions. In my 8 inch waffle iron, I use a heaping 1/2 cup of batter. Remember to spray or brush the iron with oil in between each waffle.

October 21, 2012

Roasted Butternut Alfredo

Serves 4
Total time: 1 hour (plus cashew soak. 30 minutes if using canned butternut.)
Active time: 20 minutes

Roasted Butternut Alfredo

Whether you’re lugging them home from the farmer’s market, or plucking them out of your backyard garden, October means it’s time for butternut everything. If you’re a butternut maniac like I am, then this is good news. But perhaps in your zealous lust for the creamy orange flesh you’ve come down with a severe case of Butternut Burnout ™.

Yes, butternut in your breakfast, soup, muffins and in your salads…it has taken its toll. No more sweet gingery autumnal goodness, you say. No more spicy warm cinnamon goosebumps. Butternut Burnout ™ means a steady diet of kale and chocolate forever more or at least until Spring.

However, there is a way to combat BB. And that’s by treating it with savory elements, rather than sweet. This Roasted Butternut Alfredo is sure to combat all of the damage done to you by those butternut waffles. The squash is roasted first, and then pureed with cashew cream to make a thick, autumnal sauce, that is lush, creamy and most importantly, savory. White wine, some sauteed onions and garlic…oh yes, keep it coming. Butternut forever! Butternut for life!
Roasted Butternut

Recipe Notes

~ An average butternut weighs like 3 lbs. You don’t need that whole 3 lbs for this recipe, but you should roast the entire thing anyway. To roast, Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large chef’s knife, cut the the round part of the butternut from the long part. Slice the round part in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush or spray parchment lightly with oil and place squash pieces, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until squash is very tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the squash needed for this recipe. Save the rest for whatever you like: soup, muffins, or just mashed up with some ginger, maple syrup and cinnamon.

~ You can make this with a can of butternut or pumpkin puree, too. Of course you won’t have the roasted squash to put on top, but them’s the breaks. It will still be yum.

~ You can also make this with any winter squash, I’d imagine. Pumpkin, delicata, acorn, kabocha….all good choices.

~ I like to have extra sauce to serve with veggies and stuff. If you have no such need, then this sauce will probably be sufficient for an entire pound of pasta.

~ I would have loved to use fettuccine or linguine here, but I didn’t have any. I ended up using strozzapretti, but that’s a bit hard to find. Fusilli would be a great choice, or a smaller pasta like orecchiette. I can see penne working, too! What I’m trying to say, I think, is that this is a great sauce for any kind of pasta.

~ As always, you can soak cashews overnight. Or soak em all day. Just try to remember to soak ‘em in advance so that you’re not waiting for the cashews to make the recipe. If you have a Vitamix or Blendtec type million dollar blender, well, luck you! You can skip the soaking step.

1/2 pound pasta (see note)

1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash (see note)
2 tablespoons mellow white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the rest:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
3/4 cup dry white wine
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For garnish:
Extra roasted squash
Pepitas, or chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts

Once the squash has roasted, bring a salted pot of water to boil for the pasta. When boiling, cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, drain the cashews and place them in a blender with the vegetable broth. Blend until very smooth. Rub sauce between your finger and when hardly any grittiness remains, add the roasted butternut, miso, nutritional yeast (if using) and lemon juice. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything.

While the sauce is blending, start the onions. Preheat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so, just until fragrant. Mix in the sage and pepper. Then add the wine and salt and turn the heat up to bring wine to a boil. Let boil for about two minutes, to reduce a little.

Turn down the heat to medium low. Now add the butternut cream to the pan, and stir to incorporate the onions and everything. Heat through, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken a bit. Taste for salt and seasonings.

Oooh, creamy!!!!

Set aside some of the sauce (you can reserve a cup or so for veggies if you’d like to throw some on top.) Add the pasta, and toss to coat. Serve topped with additional roasted squash and a sprinkle of nuts.