Archive | September 2010

It’s Time to Party Vegan!

I’m very happy to announce that my newest book, Party Vegan, is now available. You can get it through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.

I’m really excited about this book. It shares all the professional strategies I used when I was a busy Charleston caterer. These tips can really help make entertaining fun and stress-free.

The recipes are organized according to menu for everything from casual get-togethers and holiday dinners, to cocktail parties and children’s birthday parties. It also has great ideas for potlucks and includes a detailed guide to hosting vegan parties.  It covers everything from planning your event including menus and themes, to food presentation, shopping lists, and make-ahead tips. Most holidays and special occasions are included — Valentines Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and even the Super Bowl.

Best of all, the recipes are easy and versatile and can be used for everyday cooking too — no special occasion needed. You can make every day a reason to celebrate!

Party Vegan was lots of fun for me to create. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and using it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Little Grapes, Big Flavor

These very tiny and delicious grapes (only about the size of a blueberry) are about the sweetest things I’ve ever tasted. Called Corinth grapes or Santé currants, they’re also known as “champagne grapes” because they’re sometimes used to garnish glasses of champagne.

I’m fresh out of champagne, but I hooked a bunch of them onto a glass of grape juice, just to see how it looks. Pretty cute, huh? If you happen to see these little grapes for sale, do yourself a favor and pick up some. You won’t believe how much naturally sweet goodness is packed in such a tiny fruit!

Guacamame

There was a bag of rice and bean chips in the pantry just waiting to be devoured, so I thought I’d whip up some guacamole to try them out.

With only one very small avocado in the house and some cooked edamame in the fridge, it seemed clear that fate had dictated a batch of Guacamame, a recipe from my 2005 cookbook, Carb-Conscious Vegetarian. I’ve included the recipe below, although I left out the onion and at the last minute I added about 1/4 cup of vegan sour cream to make it creamier. (It’s good either way.) 

I served the Guacamame with the chips (which were yummy, by the way, but kind of fragile) and also some lightly steamed broccoli, and sweet little grape tomatoes.  It made a delicious and fun lunch! 

Guacamame
Creamy, green, and delicious, this dip is lower in carbs and higher in protein than your standard guacamole. Using protein-rich edamame to replace some of the avocado makes it lower in fat, too. Garnish with sliced grape tomatoes, sliced pitted black olives, or chopped cilantro.

1 cup cooked edamame
1 small ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup chopped green chiles (I used jarred chopped jalapeños)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sliced raw vegetables, for serving

In a food processor, combine the edamame, avocado, chiles, and lime juice. Process until smooth. Add the onion (if using), garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse to blend, leaving some texture. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the raw vegetables.

Note: For a creamier version, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vegan sour cream and process until smooth. For a chunkier version, mash the ingredients together in a bowl instead of using a food processor.

Laksa with Rice

Laksa is a deliciously addictive Indonesian noodle soup.  But the last time I made it, I used rice instead of noodles.  So here’s my question: If you make laksa with rice instead of noodles, is it still laksa? 
I haven’t resolved that question yet, but I have discovered one thing about this rice-not-noodles laksa wannabe — it taste just as wonderful as a traditional noodle-totin’ laksa, which brings me to the conclusion that whether or not it can be called laksa isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that, just like its noodle-centric namesake, Laksa with Rice is one luscious (and spicy) soup!
 

Laksa with Rice

Adapted from the recipe “Laksa Come Home” from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson © 2009, John Wiley & Sons.

3/4 cup chopped onion
5 dried red chiles, softened in hot water
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 scallions, minced
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce, or to taste
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

In a food processor, combine the onion, chiles, lemongrass, and ginger, and process to a paste. Add the coriander, curry powder, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne, and process until blended.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring for 3 minutes, stirring in a small amount of the broth to prevent burning. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes then strain and return the liquid to the pot. Stir in the tofu, scallions, coconut milk, and sriracha and heat until hot. Do not boil.
To serve, spoon the rice into the bottom of soup bowls and ladle the soup on top of the rice. Garnish with cucumber, tomatoes, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, if using.

Serves 4

September Soup

It happened again. Soon after Labor Day, the magic wand that makes me want to prepare soups instead of salads waved over me again. Without missing a beat, I got out the soup pot the other day and put together this luscious French Lentil and Spinach Soup.

It’s not that I don’t make any soups during the summer, but the ones I tend to make are lighter brothy soups, chilled soups, or Asian soups. Not the hearty lentil or bean soups that I associate with colder weather.

Savoring this wonderful lentil soup, I realize that the loss has been mine. Next summer, I plan to keep some hearty soups on the menu — they’re just too good to give them the summer off!

In the news…

I’m still on Cloud 9 1/2 from the splendiferous review of Vegan on the Cheap in the September+October issue of VegNews Magazine. “Culinary gem” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

The interview I did with Vegan Culinary Experience is in their current issue.

A big thanks to Mark at SoulVeggie for the wonderful review of Vegan on the Cheap and to Betsy at The Blooming Platter for the great review of Vegan Unplugged.

And congrats to Krys at Two Vegan Boys for her prize-winning chile pot pie. As you may know, when she’s not busy winning contests and taking care of her adorable sons, Krys has been cooking through all the recipes from Vegan on the Cheap — and she’s well on her way through the entire book. 

I hope everyone is enjoying this cooler weather. I know I am!

Vegan Unplugged and an Amazing (Technicolor) Chickpea Salad!

Since we live in the same house, it’s pretty easy to keep tabs on what my husband, Jon, is up to, at least most of the time. This includes the progress of his publishing company, Vegan Heritage Press. At the risk of blatant commerciality, I really must let you know about his latest title, Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cookbook and Survival Guide, a book Jon wrote and for which I contributed the recipes.

This is no ordinary vegan cookbook. First of all, it’s pantry cooking, and I’ve devised 80 recipes—all made with nonperishable ingredients. (They’re so simple, even Jon can make them.) You can make these recipes in fifteen minutes or less, often using only one pan. Second, Vegan Unplugged is an emergency guide for you, your family, and companion animals to be prepared for those times you may find yourself without electricity due to power outages. It’s also great for camping or those times when you just don’t feel like cooking.

The recipes include Almost-Instant Black Bean Chili, Pantry Pasta Salad, and Fire-Roasted Blueberry Cobbler. One of the great things about the recipes is that in addition to being ideal in an emergency or when the refrigerator is bare, they’re also extremely adaptable and can be augmented with fresh ingredients for quick and easy meals.

For example, the recipe above is the Amazing Technicolor Chickpea Salad. In an emergency situation, it would be made strictly with pantry ingredients, but because I had access to fresh veggies, I was able to make it with fresh roasted beets (instead of canned) and serve it on fresh lettuce leaves.

Vegan Unplugged is available now on Amazon (where it only costs $10!), Barnes and Noble, or it can be ordered through any bookstore. Do check it out, and, if you’re so inclined, subscribe to Jon’s new blog, aptly called Vegan Unplugged.

Crispy Stuffed Filet of Soy

You know how sometimes you hear an old song that you haven’t heard in awhile and then remember just how much you really like it? I’ve discovered that the same can be true of recipes. Case in point is the recipe for “Crispy Stuffed Filet of Soy” from my 2002 book, The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.

I developed the recipe based on one taught to me by a fabulous Taiwanese vegan chef named Roger who had a restaurant in Virginia Beach back in the ‘90s. He called his version “crispy fish” because the nori lends a flavor of the sea to the dish.

I’ll say up front that this recipe is a bit time consuming, but well worth it: first you make a stuffing using shredded “bean curd pak” (a frozen bean–curd product found in Asian markets). If unavailable, shredded tofu can be substituted (as it is in the cookbook), although the texture and flavor will be a bit different. The stuffing is enclosed in a sheet of nori and then inside a sheet of yuba (bean curd skin — also found in Asian markets, the frozen whole sheet yuba is better than the dried kind).

The stuffed “filet” is first sautéed on both sides to brown nicely and then placed on a baking sheet and baked a bit longer in the oven. It is then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices, arranged on a platter and topped with a spicy ginger sauce that’s so delicious, you want to drink it. Because the sauce and the filets can be made in advance, it makes a great company dish, because you can simply do that last bit in the oven and at serving time and just reheat the sauce as well.

Years ago when we lived in Virginia Beach (and near Asian markets), we used to enjoy this dish frequently, especially when we had friends over for dinner. After moving to the mountains and away from good places to shop, the recipe receded to the background. However when these same friends came to visit a couple of weeks ago, we decided it was time to make our old favorite “crispy fish” again.

Having been in Charlottesville recently, I was able to find both bean curd pak and yuba, so the recipe went together without a hitch. I made individual servings instead of one or two large “fish” and served them over rice, smothered in spicy ginger sauce, and surrounded by stir-fried vegetables. It was unbelievably good, and I know I’ll be making it again soon.

Sometimes the oldies really are the goodies!