Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vegan Quiche + A Pear Tart

Today, after a languid Sunday morning complete with Stumptown coffee, a bagel and a long walk in the snow I came home to tackle my produce box. After a long afternoon in the kitchen I now have a beautiful quiche cooling on my stove and batches of potato leek and lentil soup in my freezer. I used the second crust for the quiche, which kept the recipe simple. This is a veggie-loaded recipe that is SO much lower in fat than traditional quiche and perfect for all three meals.

Spiced Pear Tart with Cashew Custard
1 unsweetened spelt crust, 9"
3 firm, but ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4" pieces
2 t brandy
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 T lemon juice, divided
1 c raw cashew pieces, soaked in water for one hour
1/4 c maple syrup
1/3 c filtered water
1 vanilla bean

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the pears with the spices, brandy, sugar, and 1 T lemon juice. Drain the cashews and blend them into a smooth paste with the water, syrup and the scraped out inside of the vanilla bean. Spread the cashew custard evenly in the crust and then top with the pear slices. Take about one spoonful of the liquid from the pears and drizzle it over the top of the tart and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Serve warm.

Vegan Quiche with Leeks, Shallots, Mushrooms, Chard and Fresh Herbs
1 9" spelt tart crust
1 12 oz container of Firm Silken Tofu
4 oz Extra Firm Tofu
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1/8  c corn starch
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t smoked paprika
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 leek, sliced into thin half moons
2 shallots sliced in thin half moons
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1 bunch chard, stalks rinsed and diced, leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces and well washed
1/2 c fresh parsley well chopped
5- 6 large basil leaves, well chopped
1- 2 T white wine
Olive oil

In a large skillet, heat about 2 T of olive oil and sauté the shallots and leek until lightly caramelized, set them aside in a large bowl. Sauté the mushrooms until browned and set them aside with the leeks and shallots. De-glaze the pan with a splash of white wine and sauté the diced stalks of the chard until soft, add the chard and allow it to wilt. Drain the chard in a colander and squeeze all of the extra liquid out. Add the chard to the other veggies and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a food processor or blender, purée the tofu, nutritional yeast, corn starch and turmeric until totally smooth. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the tofu mixture to the bowl of veggies, add the chopped herbs and lemon juice and stir until the ingredients are well-combined and evenly distributed. Spread the mixture evenly in the crust and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Warm-up Cream of Carrot with Ginger Soup

Oh, Chicago you are a cold, cold place to live and your winters make me eat like a champion to survive the cold, to stay awake in the face of never-ending darkness and lately to compensate for my "I can't write my thesis" guilt. Despite only making it a week on my no-drinking plan, and only 10 days on my no sugar plan, I'm doing my best to keep the winter munchies healthy...And trying to make a jar of almond butter last longer than 7 days. Almond butter is like crack to me, it's a sick, sick addiction. Today when my produce box arrived, I discovered about 2.5 pounds of big winter carrots in the bottom. I'm not a fan of eating the big ones raw because they lack the intensity of flavor that I value in a summer carrot, but I have been craving ginger flavored soups. So, I threw together a quick carrot-ginger soup to keep those carrots from languishing in my produce drawer. In the summer, I like to make carrot ginger soup without anything creamy and enjoy it on lazy evenings with a big salad dressed up with orange slices and avocado. But, look, I'm cold all the time, I'm strapped to my space heater, and I'm up to my eyeballs in my own mediocre writing so I thought it might be nice to take my summer recipe and winterize it with the addition of a little cashew cream and a hint of toasted sesame oil. What results is still a fresh, light bowl of soup...But, with a little more commitment and depth. This soup is emotionally available. And, when garnished with a quick chop of fresh mint and cilantro and set up next to a simple spinach salad it makes a simple, warming lunch or dinner.

(Serves 6)
1 T olive oil
1/2 T toasted sesame oil

1 sweet onion roughly chopped
2.5" piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

About 2.5 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped. Don't worry about dicing them too fine, I find 1/4" rounds to be about the right size.
1 large apple, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2- 1 t red pepper flakes
4 cups water
1 vegan bouillon cube (alternately, use a favorite veggie stock in place of the water + cube)
1/2 cup cashew cream (equal parts soaked cashews and water, puréed until smooth)
Sea salt, shoyu or Bragg's to taste (I like Braggs)
1/2- 1 t rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped mint and cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the onion until translucent and then add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute and then add the carrots and apple stir to coat in the oil and let sauté for about five minutes. Add the water and bouillon cube and bring the soup to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the cashew cream. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 30 minutes. The carrots should be soft, but not mushy. Remove the soup from the heat and purée with an immersion blender until totally smooth. Taste for salt/salty substance and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Serve garnished with chopped mint and cilantro.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Pictures coming soon...I ate all the ones I baked off before I could take a photo :)

These are the perfect little bites of oats and raisins, a little crunch on the outside and soft in the middle...Try them with tea while snuggled up with someone sweet.

1 T ground flax
3 T water
1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
3/4 c brown sugar
1/8 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t mace
zest of one orange
1/2 c raisins
1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 375. Blend the flax and water in a small food processor until thick and creamy. Cream the solid coconut oil, sugars, vanilla, orange zest and flax mixture until thoroughly blended. In another bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mace together. Mix the flour and sugar/oil mixture thoroughly. Add the oats and raisins and stir to mix. You may need to knead the dough with your hands to get it to come together. Use a 2t scoop to measure the cookies out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and press them lightly with a fork because they will not spread. Bake for 12 minutes and then cool on a rack, if you can somehow avoid eating them all as they come out of the oven...Makes about 36 small cookies.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Eyed Peas, Greens + Biscuits...Mmmm, biscuits.

Despite only having lived in Dallas for the first and least remembered five years of my life, I retain a strong attachment to the rituals involved in celebrating the new year. So, every January 1, for as long as I can remember, I have eaten spicy black eyed peas and a pile of greens, regardless of how harrowing a hangover I might have and without thought of whatever disappointments or excitements happened the night before. Despite a few small complaints, I've led a rather charmed life until this point, so I'm not one to mess with fate by skipping out on the meal that at least 20% of me believes might have some small part in preserving my quality of life and persistently Pollyanna-ish nature.

Yesterday afternoon a small, comfy clothes clad, pack of my nearest and dearest sat on my living room floor, reading cookbooks, playing with the cat and munching our way through a delicious first real meal of 2011. I'm not one to sit around and share resolutions...yet...maybe when I get a real table and some chairs?!  But, I really can't think of any better way to spend the first frigid day of any year.

My first serving...

Hoppin' John 
I've never quite figured out exactly what spices are supposed to go in Hoppin' John...I make it up every time and my version tends to be a little more Southwestern than Creole. But, I've yet to receive any complaints on that front.

3 cups cooked black eyed peas
1 cup long grain brown rice, soaked over night
1 large red onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 fresh red chile, diced (pick your heat level)
1 package of Tempeh bacon, crumbled
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t smoked paprika
1 t dried thyme
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 bay leaf
1 T brown sugar
3 cloves of garlic, roasted
~3 cups vegan stock
3 T olive oil + 1 T earth balance buttery spread

Heat the oil and earth balance in a large stock pot. Keeping the heat at medium-low, add the onion and shallot and sautée until translucent. Then add the chopped chile pepper, bell pepper and celery. Stir to coat and then cover the pot and let the veggies sweat for about 10 minutes. Add the spices, bay leaf, and sugar and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant. Then add the rice, and stir int he oil for about 2 minutes. Add the beans, tempeh and stock and cover the pot. Let the Hoppin' John simmer for about 30 minutes before removing the lid to reduce the liquid over low heat. When the rice is done cooking, taste for salt and pepper and season to your taste.

Rosemary Cashew Gravy
1 cup raw cashews
3 cups veggie stock, divided
1/4 c earth balance butter spread
2 heaping T all purpose flour
2 large shallots, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs worth of rosemary leaves, minced
1.5 t nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the cashews in enough veggie stock to cover them for at least an hour. Drain the cashews (I drain the stock into a measuring cup so I can keep using it in the gravy.) and place them in the blender with 1 cup stock. Purée until totally smooth.

In a medium soup pan, heat the earth balance over low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour and keep whisking for one minute. Add the shallots and garlic and then slowly pour in the cashew cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking regularly to avoid clumps. Reduce the heat to low and keep whisking as the gravy thickens. Add veggie stock until the gravy reaches your desired consistency. When the gravy is where you want i, add the rosemary, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Whisk well and add another small glug of veggie stock. Serve as immediately as possible.

Southern Style Flaky Biscuits
2 c all purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t nutritional yeast
1 stick earth balance
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy milk

Sift the flour, baking soda, nutritional yeast and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles the texture of small peas. Do not over mix and be sure to use cold margarine. Stir in the soy milk and form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill for one hour. When the dough is chilled roll it out to about 1/2" thick on a heavily floured counter. Using a water glass or a biscuit cutter with a 2" diameter, cut out your biscuits and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Stick the whole sheet in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 450 and then bake the biscuits for 10 minutes. Serve as immediately as possible.