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Celebrate Mardis Gras!

I love any excuse to make something special for dinner and Mardis Gras is no exception.  In fact, there are almost too many delicious dishes that would be a perfect way to celebrate!

Maybe cook up a nice pot of Spicy Vegetable Gumbo from Vegan Fire & Spice. Or maybe the Cajun Style Tofu from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. From Quick-Fix Vegan you can choose from the Cajun-Spiced Dirty Rice, Muffuleta Pizza, or Jambalaya Bake.

You could throw a party and serve the Phat Tuesday Party menu from Party Vegan:

  • Collard and Red Bean Fritters
  • Remoulade Sauce
  • Smoke and Spice Jambalaya
  • Grits ‘n’ Greens
  • Pastry-Wrapped Bananas Foster

Or you could just kick back and snack on some cajun-spiced popcorn or kale chips!

Whatever you decide, laissez les bon temps roulez!

Black Lentil Pilaf

Some of my favorite meals are those spontaneous, last-minute, clean-out-the-fridge concoctions where the end result is even better than anticipated. Case in point: this black lentil pilaf.

I had actually forgotten that I had those black lentils in the refrigerator. I bought them a while back at Trader Joes (sold already cooked in a vacuum-sealed package) and had planned to use them for something fancier, but never got around to it. A lack of time and increase of hunger prevailed and tossing together a quick pilaf won out.

The lentils teamed up nicely with other on-hand ingredients: cooked brown rice, chopped onion, garlic, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, a handful of frozen peas, some walnuts, and some seasonings. Within 15 minutes, a satisfying, tasty, and very colorful dinner was on the table.

In other news… A copy of 1000 Vegan Recipes is being given away this week on Here’s the link — post a comment for your chance to win.

I recently did an author Q&A with Matt on his blog NoMeatAthlete. Check it out (along with the great photo of my Mac and Chard recipe).

Speaking of great photos, my irrepressible cat Gary couldn’t resist getting in this basket and we couldn’t resist snapping his photo. Cute, huh?

Red Bean Jambalaya … and a Book Giveaway

Since the Tabasco sauce was still near the front of the refrigerator shelf from the New Year’s Hoppin’ John, it reminded me that I hadn’t made jambalaya in a long time. So before my sriracha sauce elbowed the Tabasco to the back of the fridge again, I thought I’d better make some. I decided on the Red Bean Jambalaya from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

Beginning with the N’awlins “trinity” of onion, celery, and bell peppers, the spicy tomato-based sauce was simmering in minutes. The wonderful aroma wafted through the house and made me wonder why I waited so long to make it. In addition to the red beans, I added a few sliced vegan sausage links and, of course, the requisite Tabasco. Since I had some rice already cooked, I didn’t add any to the jambalaya, preferring instead to spoon the jambalaya over the rice. It really hit the spot in this cold weather.

Book Giveaway:

If you still haven’t snagged your copy of 1,000 Vegan Recipes, head on over to Vegan Appetite where Tami is giving away a copy of the book. Tami was a tester for 1,000 Vegan Recipes and shares her photos of some the dishes she made.

Too Good Tiramisu

Desserts are a rarity in my house — I usually only make them when we’re having company, or if I need to test a recipe. This can be a problem when your husband happens to have a sizeable sweet tooth. So, for Christmas this year, I told Jon I’d make him any dessert he wanted. He chose tiramisu.

I have long been tinkering with making a vegan tiramisu that captures the decadent richness of the non-vegan version and I think the one in 1,000 Vegan Recipes does the trick. The secret is in the filling: I combine tofu with vegan cream cheese and vegan vanilla ice cream to get just the right balance: firm yet light, sweet yet not-too-sweet. For the cake, I use the pound cake recipe also found in 1,000 Vegan Recipes. It works beautifully, but you can use another white or yellow vegan cake, if you prefer.

Here’s the tiramisu recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as Jon did. By the way, the recipe is easily doubled, if you need a dessert to serve a crowd on New Year’s Eve.

I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. See you in 2010!

Vegan Tiramisu

Serves 6

For extra decadence, add a layer of vegan whipped cream and chocolate curls. This recipe is from my latest book, 1,000 Vegan Recipes (where you will also find the recipe for vegan pound cake).

1 cup firm tofu, drained and pressed dry
1 (8-ounce) container vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup vegan vanilla ice cream, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1 vegan pound cake (or other white or yellow cake), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1. In a food processor, combine the tofu, cream cheese, ice cream, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Process until smooth and well blended.
2. In a small bowl, combine the coffee, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and the coffee liqueur.
3. Arrange a single layer of cake slices in an 8-inch square baking pan and brush with half of the coffee mixture. Sprinkle with half of the cocoa. Spread half the tofu mixture over the cake. Arrange another layer of cake slices on top of the tofu mixture. Brush with the remaining coffee mixture, and spread evenly with the remaining tofu mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cocoa. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Pasta Fagiole… and More

There’s something about a 24-inch snowfall that makes you want to cook hearty, comforting food. For us, it was pasta fagiole, the classic Italian pasta and bean soup. As the snow fell relentlessly for 24 hours straight, we were warm and cozy inside, cooking up a storm to rival the one outside. We’ve lived in the South so long, we don’t even own a snow shovel.

I hadn’t made “pasta fazool” in ages, and suddenly Jon and I were both craving it. I usually make it with cannellini beans and elbow macaroni, but with the snow raging, I had to make due with pinto beans and tiny tri-color shell pasta. It may be a new favorite combination. I sautéed some onion and garlic, added diced tomatoes and a little tomato sauce I had on hand, some basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper. Within 20 minutes, it was ready. I especially love the way the pasta absorbs much of the flavorful broth, making the finished dish less a soup, but no less delicious. Let it snow!

Speaking of snow, one of the ducks who shares our property with us decided to make his very own “snow angel.” How cute is that?

1,000 Vegan Recipes News:

1,000 Vegan Recipes
has been popping up all over lately and thanks to everyone who has blogged, commented, or written such great things about my new book. There are two in particular that I would like to share here. The first is from the December e-newsletter of cookbook author Nava Atlas and the second is from this month’s e-newsletter of Howard Lyman, the “Mad Cowboy” himself. (They both also posted sample recipes!)

from Nava’s e-newsletter:
“Okay, vegans, here it is—your very own Joy of Cooking. Covering every culinary angle under the sun, Robin’s tome is a great resource and reference for every vegan kitchen. Robin has been a great colleague for many years and is a prolific and talented food writer. Her recipes reflect the way I like to cook, with creative variations on easily available ingredients and streamlined procedures. …The Soy-Tan Dream Cutlets, made from both tofu and gluten, cooked up quickly and were indeed a dream for my sons, who love “meaty” items made from these ingredients; I paired these cutlets with Golden Mushroom Gravy, which has a hearty base of pureed chickpeas. I inadvertently increased the quantity for this, which made for quite a lot of gravy, but no matter—tonight I used the leftovers as a base for really good soup Chocolate Chip-Banana Bread was every bit as good as Robin’s testers claim it to be.” — Nava Atlas

from Howard’s e-newsletter:

“Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes is the perfect book for a start towards a healthy new diet. Robin has created a must have for everyone interested in not only tasty food, but food that is good for you. 1,000 Vegan Recipes is the crown jewel of cook books.” —Howard F. Lyman LL.D., “The Mad Cowboy”

(Thank you, Nava and Howard!)

Stove Rags and Book Giveaway

Nothing says comfort food like potato pancakes. After all, they’re made from potatoes, they’re pancakes, and they’re fried!

My mother used to make two kinds of potato pancakes: one from raw grated potatoes and another that used leftover mashed potatoes combined with flour, which were known as “stove rags” in the coal region of Pennsylvania where I grew up. They got their name because they were cooked directly on the coal stove, which is how my grandmother made them.

Although “stove rags” may be the most colorful name for potato pancakes I’ve ever heard, it’s certainly not the only one. In Eastern Europe, potato pancakes are known as latkes or latkas. In Sweden, they’re called raggmunk or rarakor. Potato pancakes are also found in many other countries including Korea, India, Russia, and Ireland. Naturally, every culture has a unique spin that makes them their own.

At my house, we usually enjoy them served with applesauce, although I sometimes put out small bowls of vegan sour cream, chutney, chow-chow, and even cranberry sauce. I’ve even served them doused with sriracha sauce, which takes them to an entirely new level. My current favorite condiment for them is sour cream with some sriracha blended into it (as seen in the center of the condiment tray in the photo, flanked by chutney and applesauce).

I wonder what my grandmother would think of stove rags with sriracha.

Book Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of 1,000 Vegan Recipes, head on over to Cafe VegNews where the VN staff is cooking up a recipe from the book every day this week — and also giving away a copy of the book each day. That’s five chances to win!

Broccoli and White Beans with Potatoes and Walnuts

Rich in potassium, vitamin C, and other nutrients, broccoli is a superstar vegetable to be sure. It’s readily available, reasonably priced, and infinitely versatile. Think of it: this verdant crucifer is equally at home in a creamy soup or spicy stir-fry as it is steamed and sauced or added to a salad or pasta.

Broccoli also shines in the dish you see here, where it shares top billing with potatoes and white beans. With walnuts added for crunch and seasoned with garlic, lemon, crushed red pepper, and your favorite herb (I used savory) this is a simple and satisfying meal that can be made ahead of when you need it. (It makes a great lunch.)

The recipe is from 1000 Vegan Recipes, and it calls for fingerling potatoes, but any potato can be used — the tiny red-skinned ones are especially pretty in this. The potatoes and broccoli are steamed and the garlic sautéed in olive oil and combined with creamy cannellini beans or other white beans. Some chopped red onion can be sautéed with the garlic, if you like. And, if you have time, you can roast the potatoes instead of steaming them. The dish can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.