Showing posts with label Blasts from the past. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blasts from the past. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2012

vegan mofo :: 50 ways to stuff zucchini – blast from the past

Stuffed zucchini never gets old

Originally posted July 7, 2008. I need to do more fun posts like this.

With apologies to Paul Simon...

Choose stout, chubby zucchini. Scoop out zuke innards with a spoon. Set aside to use in recipe or for zucchini bread. Rub zucchini cavities with salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and then stuff with your filling of choice. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.

All fillings mentioned below should be cooked first unless specified.

  1. Just rethink your snacks, Jack.
  2. Stuff 'em with bran, Stan
  3. Fill with bok choy, Roy. But seriously, folks....
  4. [pictured, above] Saute zuke innards, 1/2 chopped green pepper, 1 onion and 3 garlic cloves. Season with thyme, sumac [a Middle Eastern spice] and parsley. Mix with basmati rice and red lentils, 
  5. Fill with leftover mashed sweet potatoes, seasoned with rosemary.
  6. A taste of Morocco: Pack with whole-wheat couscous, raisins, and slivered almond, season with a pinch of cinnamon and cumin.
  7. Pack cavities with leftover mushroom risotto.
  8. Thanksgiving zukes: Make your favorite vegan stuffing recipe and stuff zucchini halves. Drizzle with gravy.
  9. Beans and greens: sauté kale, Swiss chard or spinach, along with zuke innards, in plenty of olive oil and garlic. Line zuke halves, then top with sprinkled vegan cheese.
  10. Saute an onion, diced carrot, garlic and celery in olive oil. Toss with cooked quinoa and your herbs of choice.
  11. Shred apples and vegan cheddar, Mix with sultanas and a pinch of cinnamon,
  12. Saute exotic mushrooms [shitake, maitake, cremini, etc[ in a bit of olive oil, white wine and oregano. Deglaze the pan with white wine, cook down and add enough whole grain breadcrumbs to make a paste.
  13. Mexican zukes; stuff with canned refried beans. top with shredded vegan cheddar and store-bought salsa. 
  14. Raw Mexican zuke: stuff with chopped tomatoes, avocado, onion, pepper and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Do not bake--eat as is.
  15. In food processor, puree cooked black beans with lime juice, zucchini innards, garlic, onion, and vegan sour cream. Stuff into shells and drizzle with vegan mayo before baking.
  16. Weeknight quickie: Reconstitute TVP in veggie broth. Add frozen veggies of choice and top with olive oil.
  17. Zucchini side salad: stuff zuke halves with leftover hummus. Top with chopped veggies [your choice--tomato, onion, corn, spinach, arugula, avocado, red pepper, etc.]
  18. Leftover take-out wizardry: Mix leftover take-out rice with leftover Chinese food. Sprinkle with soy sauce and slivered ginger before baking.
  19. Mix drained, crumbled extra firm tofu, reconstituted hijiki [or your seaweed of choice], sea salt, nutritional yeast, sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar. After baking, drizzle with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. 
  20. Steam cauliflower and garlic gloves. Blend in food processor with oil, cayenne pepper and water. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  21. White trash special: Cube canned or homemade seitan. Mix with mashed potatoes. Top with brown vegan gravy.
  22. Crumble microwaved veggie burgers and mix with bread crumbs, and vegan cheese chunks. 
  23. Mash canned chickpeas with shredded carrots, olive oil, white rice vinegar and herbes de provence.
  24. Raw tropical treasure: Fill cavities with cubed pineapple, mango, red pepper and onion. Drizzle with agave nectar and sprinkle with dried coconut.
  25. Brown vegan Italian sausages and cube. Toss with roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms and your grain of choice [amaranth, barley, millet, couscous, or rice].
  26. Beautifully presented zucchini dip: Puree zucchini innards, garlic cloves, fresh basil, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast and olive oil until they form a paste. Serve in zuke shells along with raw veggies, crackers, bread, etc.
  27. Deconstructed mofongo: Saute plantains, cubed seitan, onions and plenty of garlic in oil. Sprinkle with hot pepper and salt.
  28. Saute a pepper. TVP, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Immerse in crushed tomatoes and simmer until reduced. Stuff zuke shells .
  29. Mix drained canned artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, and cannelini beans. Stuff, drizzle with oil and herbs.
  30. Marinate zuke innards, cubed mango and cubed drained extra-firm tofu in your favorite BBQ sauce overnight. Fill and bake.
  31. Stuff with leftover vegan paella. Drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice.
  32. Soak stale cubed whole grain bread in soy milk and squeeze out excess. Saute celery and onion in olive oil and then toss with drained bread and herbs of choice [oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram, etc]. 
  33. Toss cooked puy lentils with browned onions, slivered portabella mushrooms and plenty of cooked garlic. Drizzle with black truffle oil.
  34. Stuff zuke halves with prepared polenta. Top with vegan parmesan and bake. Serve with a bowl of tomato soup.
  35. Cook bulgur, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and fennel seeds in veggie broth. Stuff and bake.
  36. Zucchini & weenie [for the wee ones]: Mix baked beans and zuke innards with sliced vegan hot dogs. 
  37. E-Z-Zuke: Stuff zucchini with zuke innards, crushed whole garlic and cherry tomatoes. Roast until tomatoes are tender. Sprinkle with fresh or dried basil
  38. Steam tempeh, crumble and marinate in hoisin sauce at least one hour or overnight. Stuff and bake.
  39. Zucchini "pie." Chop tart apples. Toss with zuke innards, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ground ginger. Top with oatmeal, whole-wheat flour and Earth Balance..
  40. Toast pine nuts. Saute spinach in olive oil. Mix with raisins and pine nuts and bake. 
  41. Cubist zucchini: Cube vegan cheese, yams, onions, and potatoes. Toss with olive oil, a pinch of rosemary and salt and white pepper. You know what to do next.
  42. Fill zuke shells with cornbread batter and bake [optional: add peppers, onions, vegan bacon, etc]. Keep a close eye on this--oven temps may need to be adjusted depending on the cornbread recipe you use.
  43. Another raw dinner: fill zuke shells with pesto made from either basil or arugula and nuts, best quality olive oil and garlic. Slice and enjoy.
  44. Cook rice, froze peas, and canned beans or edamame in veggie broth. Stuff and enjoy in a raw or baked shell.
  45. Make your favorite vegan meatloaf and use the zuke shells as loaf pans. This looks gorgeous when sliced. This is a good use for late August's baseball bat zukes.
  46. Mash potatoes with wasabi, garlic and a dollop of veganaise. Stuff and bake.
  47. Make a tarragon sauce using Earth Balance, flour, tarragon and soy or rice milk. Toss in leftover or frozen veggies, and either tofu or seitan chunks.
  48. Quick, Spicy Thai Zuke: Marinate tofu cubes and zuke innards overnight in vegan sate sauce. Stuff shells with tofu, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and cooked rice noodles. Drizzle with rice vinegar and soy sauce and sprinkle with hot pepper flakes. Don't forge to eat the bowl. 
  49. Stuff with leftover marinara spaghetti, drizzle with olive oil and bake. Top with nutritional yeast.
  50. Pearl onions and peas, Lee...and set yourself free.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

blast from the past :: agar basics, passionfruit mousse recipe

Easy Passionfruit Mousse, made with agar
What's in your gelatin? Chances are, even the staunchest pig ear- and cow butt- eating omnivores may balk at the fact that regular gelatin is made from collagen extracted from the horns, hooves, bones, connective tissues and intestines of pigs, cows, chickens and even horses. Yummy, yummy, right? As I write and test recipes for my upcoming pie and tart cookbook, I have rediscovered the wonders of agar, a seaweed gelling agent commonly used in Asian desserts. Since I needed to revisit this primer, which I posted on my original blog on February 24, 2008, I thought you might also find it useful. Hope the information gels. [Groan!]


Agar Basics
If you're American, chances are that your introduction to agar-agar was in high school biology class, where it's often used as a growing culture in petri dishes. Personally, I prefer agar-agar in dessert dishes. Agar-agar is a versatile, neutral-tasting seaweed. A kinder, less processed thickening agent than gelatin [which is made from cows' hooves], agar is commonly used in Asian desserts. The name comes from the Malay word "agar," which means "jelly." In Japan, agar is known as "kanten."

How tos:
You need to dissolve agar in hot or boiling liquid for at least 1-2 minutes to unleash its poweful gelling properties. I like to let agar flakes sit in the liquid [usually fruit juice or soy milk] at room temperature for about 10 minutes before bringing the liquid to a boil to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.
  • You can substitute powdered agar for equal amounts of gelatin.
  • If you're using agar flakes, you'll need to up the quantity 3:1, for example, 3 teaspoons [1 T] agar flakes = 1 tsp agar powder.
  • Generally speaking, for a "jello-like" texture, you'll need about 2 teaspoons of powder or 2 T flakes added to about 2 cups of liquid. Use less for mousses, more for "jigglers."
  • With highly acidic fruits like strawberries, you'll need to add more agar.
  • Certain fresh fruits, including pineapple, kiwi, mango and peaches, actually disable agar's gelling properties. You can still use these fruits--you just need to cook them first
While all these factoids might sound complicated, in reality, using agar is easy. The most common mistakes are not adding enough agar, or not ensuring it's properly dissolved before molding.

Saving money on agar-agar
Buying agar powder or flakes in a health food store is agar-vatingly expensive--usually about $6 for about 6 tablespoons. To save money, I buy large packets of whole agar in an Asian grocery, and then pulse it into flakes in the food processor or in a VitaMix if you are lucky enough to have one. The result? A few years' supply for only about $1.40.


Recipe :: Easy Passionfruit MousseIf you're an agar newbie or are simply craving a light dessert, try this simple recipe. I enjoy this mousse for breakfast, or as a refreshing dessert after a spicy Indian or Carribean meal.14 oz passionfruit pulp [I use Goya brand]
1 12 oz aspectic box of silken firm tofu [Do not use refrigerated tofu--it will create a grainy mousse]
3/4 cup sugar
1 T agar-agar flakes
Strawberries or raspberries and/or soy whipped topping for garnish

Makes 6-8 servings


Pour sugar and fruit pulp into a saucepan. Sprinkle in agar-agar, mix and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, open the box of tofu and pour it into the food processor.

Slowly bring the fruit-agar mixture to a boil, stirring every now and again. Boil gently for about 1 minute, then remove it from the heat and let it sit for another minute.

Carefully pour the hot mixture into the food processor with the tofu. Blend well [Again, be careful of the hot liquid!], until the mixture is absolutely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. This takes about 3-5 minutes. Pour into prepared dishes or glasses and chill until firm and cool--about an hour. Top with desired garnishes and serve.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

blasts from the past ::
10 tips for veg travelers

A page from my overburdened passport
I get a surprising amount of e-mail from vegans and vegetarians who admit they're afraid to travel, for fear of consuming something non-veg. As a veg-head who's been to 30+ countries--and counting--I'm here to tell you that you can--and should travel. Your lifestyle choice should open doors, not close them, and infuse the world with positivity. Traveling vegan just takes a little planning and patience.

  • Before you go, visit Happy Cow and compile a list of veg restaurants in your destination.
  • Don't forget to order a vegan meal from the airline a few weeks in advance. As a back-up, you might want to pack your own sandwich or snacks. Airlines are notorious for two things: "running out" (!) of vegan meals and offering vegan [and non-vegan] meals that are inedible, at best.
  • Create a post on your favorite veg forum and ask if any fellow veg-heads have ventured to [insert vacation destination here]. Other vegans can offer valuable words of wisdom, and more importantly, tasty restaurant recommendations. The Post Punk Kitchen and Vegan Freaks are good starting points.
  • Learn how to say basic vegan phrases in the necessary language. When I'm in a Spanish-speaking country, for example, I become "Senora Sin Queso y Sin Crema." "I'm allergic to..." is another useful phrase to learn. Of course, it's better to explain the ethics behind your diet, but this is not always possible in a foreign country, when you don't speak the language.
  • I avoid checking in baggage like the plague. How do I fit all my girl props into those pesky 3-ounce containers in my carry-on? I decant toiletries, like toothpaste, gel and moisturizer, into recycled containers. [As you can see from the photo below, empty Lush moisturizer containers are great for this purpose.] Also pictured is my Lush Karma portable perfume, Lush solid shampoo, which doubles as soap, a Lush body butter, and Occitane Shea Butter.
Decanting can save you big bucks. Trial sizes are ridiculously overpriced.
  • Since you went to all that trouble toting your vegan toiletries halfway across the world, you may as well tell the hotel management why you aren't using their provided, non-vegan shampoo and shower gel.
  • Size does matter. And in this case, smaller is better. Pictured is my mini toothbrush, mini, cruelty-free makeup brushes and mini Thai deodorant stone.
Smaller is better.
  • Don't forget your vitamins. See photo, above.
  • Be mindful of the environment. Reuse hotel towels, when possible. Ask the maid not to change the sheets daily [Who does that in real life, anyway?] Take only digital photos. Recycle. Use vegan, biodegradable sunscreen, especially if you're at a sea- or lake-side destination.
  • When you come back, post about your trip on your blog or Faceboook account, so other veg-heads can benefit from your experience.
Please feel free to post your own vegan traveling tips as comments.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

blast from the past ::
101 fast recipes for inspired picnics

Spring is in the air, and that means it's time to pull out your bike, a good book, a bottle of wine and  a picnic basket. I thought it was a good time to repost this golden oldie, which I originally published on 7/7/08.

On the cookbook front, the manuscript is finished and will go to the publisher next week. So I should have more time to devote to blogging. In the meantime, I hope that you'll find something among these 101 ideas to inspire your own picnic.


Mark Bittman did it again. He published "101 Fast Recipes for Inspired Picnics" in last Wednesday's New York Times. So of course, I had to do it again, and publish a vegan version. Most recipes here are Bittman's, others are Bittman-inspired and the rest are mine. So now, there's no excuse not to slather on the sunscreen, pack yourself a picnic, and get out and enjoy the sun.

  1. Gazpacho: Combine a few pounds of ripe tomatoes, one cucumber, a slice or two of bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Chill and pour into a thermos.
  2. Thai Gazpacho: Combine tomatoes, one cucumber, soft parts of lemongrass, cilantro, a dab of miso, and lime. Chill and pour into a thermos.
  3. Mix peel, grated carrots with chopped dates, cumin, minced chili. citrus juice, mint or cilantro.
  4. Slice fennel, apple and tart apples. Dice some jicama. Toss with freshly chopped tarragon, basil or chervil, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. You can also add oranges.
  5. GuacasalsaMash an avocado into some salsa. Add chips. Voila. A picnic meal.
  6. PazzanellaCut day-old bread into cubes. Just before leaving for your picnic. toss with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and fresh basil. Pack dressing separately: olive oil, red wine vinegar. miso paste, capers, salt and pepper.
  7. Toss toasted pita with olives, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, bits of chopped lemon (rinds and all), chopped, seeded tomatoes, chopped, seeded cukes, and chopped red pepper. Take olive oil to dress.
  8. Thinly slice Savoy or Napa cabbage (and think of Malcolm Gladwell). Toss with thinly sliced red onion. half a dice jalapeno, and some chopped cilantro. Dress with olive oil, lemon, with wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
  9. Halve cherry tomatoes and toss with firm smoked or regular tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, scallions and a pinch of sugar or mirin. Add chopped Thai basil and or cilantro, mint just before serving.
  10. Toss cooked couscous with oil, parsley, black olives, capers, red onion. salt and pepper. Scoop out medium red tomatoes and fill with mixture. Pack carefully.
  11. In a food processor, mix a cup or two of cashews, a chili, garlic, a splash of soy sauce, and enough water to process. Add cilantro or chives. Fill celery sticks or endive leaves with this and chill
  12. Peel and grate cooked beets. Add nuts, & citrus zest. Dress with citrus juice and olive oil. Finish with chopped parsley.
  13. Tomatoes and Peaches: Toss together sliced, seeded tomatoes, peaches, thinly sliced red onion, and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  14. Grapes and Soy Cheese: Mix cheese chunks and grapes (or grape tomatoes and watermelon pieces). Add salt, pepper, mint, olive oil, and a bit of chili.
  15. Pesto Seitan Rolls: Season and grill seitan strips. Brush wrap with vegan pesto. Layer with seitan, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula. Roll up and cut diagonally.
  16. Cornflake Tempeh Bites: steam tempeh for 10 minutes and cut into "bites." Dip in rice milk and dredge in seasoned, crushed cornflake or panko crumbs. Pan-fry in oil. Drain, cool and eat cold with celery sticks, with a creamy vegan dressing or dipping sauce.
  17. Curried Tofu Salad: Mix drained, pressed tofu with Veganaisse, curry powder, Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, pepper, cilantro, red onion, and sliced apple.
  18. Cold Peanut Noodles: Cook spaghetti, drain and rinse. Toss with sesame oil and peanut butter or tahini, sugar, soy sauce. ginger, vinegar, black pepper and chili oil. Pack shredded seeded cucumber, shredded carrots and chopped scallions separately.
  19. Poach 2 pounds of dark leafy greens, like kale, collards or spinach. Drain, cool, squeeze dry and chop. Then toss with oil, salt and lots of lemon juice. Serve with more lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Call it horta.
  20. Brown fresh corn kernels in hot oil with chopped chili and garlic, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and toss with cilantro and lots of lime juice.
  21. Cook whole unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet, turning occasionally, until collapsed and soft. (Or grill, or roast, or hold with a fork over an open flame.) While it’s cooling, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Chop the eggplant flesh (leave the peel behind) and roughly mash in the bowl. Add red pepper flakes if you like. Serve with pita
  22. Giardiniera: Simmer one part olive oil, two parts red wine vinegar and four parts water with herbs, salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables, firmest to softest — maybe carrots first, then cauliflower, then peppers — and poach until just getting tender. Remove from heat and chill overnight in the liquid.
  23. Cut zucchini into big chunks and roast or grill with olive oil (and, if you like, whole garlic cloves). Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.
  24. Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven until browned and cooked; while still warm, toss with curry powder and a handful of raisins. Pour on the lemon juice.
  25. Soak wakame or other seaweed in hot water until soft; drain and squeeze dry. Toss with chopped celery, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin (or agave nectar) and rice wine vinegar. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  26. Clean a bunch of mixed mushrooms; quarter any large ones. Steam for about five minutes. When still warm, toss with sliced shallots, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, cracked coriander seeds, chopped fresh cilantro, sherry vinegar and more olive oil if necessary.
  27. In a blender or food processor, combine ginger, a half cup or so light miso, a little more than that of walnuts, and enough soy sauce to make a sauce. Toss with cooked green beans or eggplant.
  28. Steam or boil a bunch of asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with orange segments, zest and juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with sesame seeds. Add your legumes of choice, if you like.
  29. Steam or boil green beans or asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, a dash of liquid smoke, olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  30. Combine cooked or canned (and drained) black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. Add diced red and green pepper, some corn kernels and a minced jalapeño. Season with lime juice, chopped marjoram or oregano, salt and pepper.
  31. Cook lentils with garlic, onion and thyme. Toss with salt, pepper and fresh chopped herbs: marjoram, tarragon, chervil or basil. Dress with vinaigrette made with oil, vinegar and mustard.
  32. Toss cooked or canned white beans with chopped seeded tomato, a bit of miso, chopped olives, oil, lemon juice, lots of black pepper, salt if necessary and parsley.
  33. Steam frozen (shelled) edamame or limas. Toss with chopped seeded tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce and a suspicion of sesame oil. Salt and pepper.
  34. Steam frozen edamame and chill. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, lots of chopped mint, salt, pepper, and as much nutritional yeast as you like.
  35. Mix cooked rice and cooked lentils with very, very well caramelized onions. Add sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and, if necessary, a bit of oil.
  36. Combine cooked brown rice with small, barely cooked broccoli florets and chopped pecans or walnuts and parsley. Dress with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon.
  37. Combine cooked Arborio rice with thin pesto, peas, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper.
  38. Soak a tablespoon or two of black beans in sherry or wine; toss with cooked rice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and cilantro.
  39. Mix cooked couscous with olive oil; add pimentón, cumin, salt and pepper, chopped shallot or red onion, toasted slivered almonds and orange zest and juice. Cooked cauliflower is good, too.
  40. Toss a load of chopped parsley with a little cooked bulgur — say three to one in favor of the parsley. Chopped seeded tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. Call this real tabbouleh.
  41. Make tabbouleh as above and embellish with more vegetables — like cucumbers and radishes — and/or toasted nuts. Or smoked tofu or smoked tempeh, whatever you can think of. How can you go wrong?
  42. Make potato salad with mustard vinaigrette. Add chopped cooked asparagus, peas, green beans, etc.
  43. Make potato salad with Veganaisse and crumbled tempeh bacon, and add grated vegan Cheddar, celery, and onion.
  44. Roast or boil sweet potatoes, but not too soft. Make a blended vinaigrette with a little chili, cumin, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Pack separately and toss together with scallions and mint.
  45. Make eggless salad with pressed, crumbled extra firm tofu, sesame oil and seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions and chilies.
  46. Tofu salad with chopped seeded tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
  47. Tofu salad with vegan sour cream, a shot of liquid smoke and chopped chives.
  48. Take cold vegan pizza and lemon. Squeeze lemon over pizza. Really.
  49. Mix a few cups of cold leftover cooked short-grain rice (if you happen to have risotto lying around, so much the better) with a few T of oil and some nutritional yeast. Form balls; and roll in bread crumbs. Refrigerate if convenient. Deep or shallow fry until golden. Packed carefully, these will be fine. Call them supplì al telefono.
  50. Purée roasted red peppers (jarred are O.K., piquillo are even better) with vegan feta [or oil-cured tofu], marjoram or oregano and parsley, olive oil and garlic. Serve as a dip.
  51. Make burritos, using the biggest flour tortillas you can find: rice, beans, cilantro, salsa.
  52. Marinate extra-firm, presseed tofu or vegan cheese in olive oil, with rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red and black pepper. You don’t need much of this, but it’s good.
  53. Make a cheese ball: Mash together equal parts good grated vegan Cheddar, crumbled vegan blue and vegan cream cheese, maybe thinned with a little vegan sour cream. Shape into a ball and roll in fresh chopped herbs and/or hazelnuts. Take Triscuits. You think people won’t eat this? [Yes! It CAN be veganized!]
  54. Make simple syrup with rosemary; purée in a blender with watermelon, rum (optional) and lemon juice. Use more rum and call this a cocktail, or omit rum, and eat with a spoon. Keep it cold in either case.
  55. Use a spoon or melon baller to make equal size pieces of watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, or, I don’t know, Charentais. Mix together and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt or (better still) chili, sugar, salt and lime.
  56. (A) Make fruit salad, however you like it; pack it. (
  57. (B) Take seeded papaya halves, well wrapped. Put (A) in (B), drizzle with lemon, and serve.
  58. Husk and quarter strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.
  59. Cut melon into wedges and wrap thin slices of tempeh bacon around them. Stack in a container, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Take romaine lettuce and serve the wedges over the greens, with the accumulated juices as a dressing. It works.
  60. Toss cornbread cubes with blueberries, lemon juice, olive oil and hazelnuts. Yes.
  61. Toss lightly mashed chick peas with lemon juice, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Use this to fill avocado halves. (If the avocado browns, blame me. It’ll still taste great.)
  62. Boil potatoes, corn kernels and cooked chickpeas; drain and chill. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges along with Veganaisse mixed with garlic and crumbled saffron. Call this Aegean  salad.
  63. Soak 1/4 cup hijiki in warm water for 10 mins. and drain. Mix with cannellini beans, chopped tomato, diced shallot, chopped black or green olives, chopped parsley and basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve on bread (scooped out ciabatta is very nice) or over greens.
  64. Combine a bunch of watercress or arugula with thinly sliced radishes and red onion; Dress at the last minute with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, a few drops of liquid smoke, salt and pepper.
  65. Sear tofu fillets in oil on both sides until brown; set aside. Sauté onions, garlic, fresh chilies if you like; deglaze the pan with one part red wine vinegar, two parts each red wine and water and a handful of soaked hikiki or arame. Pour over tofu and chill for up to two days. Call this vegan escabeche.
  66. Make escabeche with white wine and vinegar, dill and lemon slices.
  67. Pan-cook tempeh in oil. Separately sauté fresh and dried chilies with lots of onions and garlic; add beer, reduce and pour glaze over tempeh.
  68. Mix canned beans with diced fennel, tarragon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. No mayo.
  69. Mix canned beans with some miso, dissolved in olive oil), nutritional yeast, bits of lemon and some lemon juice, olive oil and perhaps a thimbleful of Worcestershire. No mayo.
  70. Mix canned beans with Veganaisse and mustard; add capers and dill.
  71. Cut seitan strips into two parts, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill or roast until crisp and golden. Whisk together mustard, agave nectar and lemon juice, and toss with warm strips. Chill overnight (or eat them and take something else to the picnic).
  72. Combine equal parts soy sauce, mirin and sake with a little sugar and sesame oil; boil for a minute. Use this to baste tofu or steamed tempeh as you grill or broil it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or chopped scallions — ginger and/or lemon are good too — just before serving. Call it teriyaki.
  73. Make seitan teriyaki as above, then toss with a little Veganaisse and perhaps more soy. Awesome.
  74. Toss seitan with lemon juice, olive oil and herbs of your choice.
  75. Pack in three containers: grilled sliced seitan, with its juices; watercress or arugula tossed with mint, basil and/or cilantro; a dressing of lime juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. Dress greens; put seitan and its juices over all.
  76. Thinly slice grilled seitan; toss with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, mint, and chopped red onion.
  77. Grind reconstituted TVP in a food processor with onion, parsley, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Make into small meatballs and sauté or roast. Serve sliced with pita wedges or in pita, with lemon, and a dollop of soy yogurt or vegan tapenade.
  78. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Duh!). Or cashew butter and jelly. Or almond butter and jelly, of you can afford it.
  79. Hummus wraps with sprouts and red peppers. (Duh again!)
  80. Chop various vegan cold cuts. and combine with your vegan cheese of choice, bell pepper, red onion and fresh oregano. Heavily dress in vinaigrette. Take shredded romaine lettuce for tossing. And bread, obviously.
  81. Make chopped olive salad (eg, onion, thyme, capers, a little garlic). Hollow out a medium-size round bread, or a few rolls. Put in olive salad and cured vegan cold cuts of your choice. Call this a muffuletta.
  82. Slice open a good baguette and fill it with chopped or shredded cooked seitan tossed with soy sauce, chili, sugar, lime, garlic, scallions and Thai basil (or, in a dire emergency, regular).
  83. Take pitas, chopped seeded tomato, avocado, sliced red onion and shredded romaine. Add cooked seitan and tempeh. Assemble sandwiches in situ; dress with olive oil and cheap vinegar.
  84. Blanch frozen fava beans in salted water. Pulse in a food processor with some mint or parsley until roughly chopped; season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Slice baguette and spread one half with crumbled, pressed tofu, then drizzle with olive oil. Spread the other half with the fava beans. Put arugula in there and sandwich-ize.
  85. Spread both halves of a sliced baguette with extra virgin olive oil. Layer with thinly sliced vegan coldcuts — and many halved cornichons. Call this une sandwich.
  86. Halve a cucumber or two; scoop out the seeds. Slice it thin and salt it for a bit if you have time; in any case squeeze out some of the liquid. Combine it with shredded cooked seitan or tofu, ginger, soy sauce, salt, pepper and cilantro. On a baguette, it’s reminiscent of banh mi.
  87. Grill a seitan steak; slice it thin. Butter a baguette on one side; put Dijon on the other side. Pile the bread with steak, roasted peppers (canned are fine; piquillos are best), and something crunchy, like radicchio or fennel. A little avocado wouldn't hurt.
  88. Toss drained chickpeas with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls. (In fact: cook anything; toss with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls.)
  89. Dredge pressed, thawed frozen tofu fillets in cornmeal. Sauté in abundant olive oil until crisp. Let cool a bit, then use for sandwiches, packing tomatoes separately.
  90. Make a foccaccia. Adorn with grilled veggies and plenty of olive oil. Cut into slices and call this lunch.
  91. Cook fusilli or other cut pasta; rinse in cool water, but don’t bother to chill. Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Good with olives, too.) Do not call this pasta salad, because pasta salad is no good, and this is.
  92. Shred carrots and zucchini. Mix lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil. Cook soba noodles, drain and rinse under cold water. Toss noodles with the vegetables and dressing.
  93. Cook rice vermicelli and drain. Toss with kimchi, lots of cilantro and cooked chopped seitan, if desired.
  94. Cook garlic in olive oil until just sizzling; about 2 pounds of chopped spinach and a shot of dry white wine, and, cook, stirring, until wilted. Remove and combine with the garlic, oil, any liquid in pan, chopped tomato and cooked pasta. Add more oil as needed, with lemon juice, parsley, salt (if needed), pepper and oregano, if you like.
  95. Combine equal parts agave nectar and brown sugar with a little oil and bring to a boil; toss with good granola until the mixture is very sticky. You can add more nuts, or raisins and, yes, O.K., you can add dark chocolate chips. Line a pan with waxed paper or film with oil. Press mixture into pan and let cool. Call these granola bars.
  96. Cook a couple of pounds of berries with some sugar and a little water until they break down. Layer in a plastic container with slices of good pound cake. Pour any remaining juices on top. You might want some nut cream.
  97. Make sandwiches of vegan sponge cake and ganache or fruit compote.
  98. Mix peanut butter and vegan cream cheese. Spread between two good cookies and make sandwiches. Or mix maple syrup, lemon zest and vegan cream cheese. Make sandwiches with ginger snaps
  99. Put sorbet (make it yourself if you have time) in a really cold thermos; it will be slushy by the time you open it. Add a splash of Champagne or Gewürztraminer if you like, maybe some mint, and eat like cold soup.
  100. Take a container of melted chocolate thinned with vegan creamer or vegan sour cream with strawberries, pineapple or bananas for dipping.
  101. Take the makings of vegan S’mores [Be sure to read the label on those grahams!]. Build a fire.

Friday, February 04, 2011

blasts from the past ::
make your own natural food coloring

Originally ran Feb 9, 2008


Winter in a Northeastern city grows awfully grey this time of year. Flowers, movies and the occasional ethnic dinner out provide a temporary color-fix, but they're no match for February's industrial landscape. This drabness-- and the impending promise of Easter and Spring--inspired me to make my own natural food colors, using minimal effort and common items from my pantry. [See "How tos," below]




What's in your food coloring?
As anyone with kids can tell you, food coloring can bump up one's perception of taste--one reason why they're so widely used in the U.S. But the day-glo colors of traditional food colors scare me--and with good reason. Many food colorings approved by the U.S. are actually banned in other countries.

A few cases in point: A known carcinogen, FD&C Red No. 40 is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Norway. FD&C Yellow No. 5 is banned in Austria and Norway, since it's linked to asthma attacks and thyroid tumors.

Natural food coloring how tos:
Using about 1/4 cup of vegan buttercream icing as a base for each shade, I came up with 4 shades: yellow, mint green, blush, and raspberry. I wanted to add as much color as possible without altering the flavor. You'll need to double or triple the recipes and experiment with the intensities, depending on the quantities of and types of food you want to color. Mix in the coloring well to avoid streaking.

Yellow: Add 1/4 tsp and a large pinch of stale turmeric to the icing. Turmeric is often used to give vegan puddings and tofu scrambles that "eggy" shade. This is a good use for turmeric that's past its prime, since stale turmeric is fairly flavor neutral.

Blush: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 3 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries directly into the icing.

Mint green: With a fork, mash 1/4 of a small avocado until creamy. Mix this into your icing. [The avocado makes your icing thinner, but in a fluffy, pleasant way.]

Raspberry: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 6 fresh or thawed frozen blueberries and 6 fresh or thawed frozen blackberries directly into the icing.

This list is certainly not definitive. Other natural sources of color include carrots [orange], annatto [yellow], beet juice [pink to red] and chlorella or spirulina [green]. Experiment and color your world! And if you don't have time to make your own food colorings, please be safe and buy all-natural versions.

As most of you know, I took down my original blog (urbanvegan.blogspot.com) several years ago after the dissolution of my marriage. It was too painful/weird for me to leave up what had become a visual diary of my life, meals and travels with my ex. While closing down the original blog was healing for me, it had its downside in terms of frustrated readers. People still email me, inquiring as to the whereabouts of certain posts and recipes. In response, I've decided to occasionally republish some of the more popular articles in a new feature,"Blasts from the Past." If there's a recipe or article you'd like me to repost, please comment or email me.