Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vegan Aioli - DIY Pantry

Aioli is one of those traditional sauces that I discovered late in life but savor every time I eat it! Now that my diet is plant-based, I wanted to try out a vegan version: simple and soy free!

After perusing a few recipes on the web I went with a tofu-free one that uses creamy mustard as the base rather than egg yolks. The plus of going yolk free is you are freed from the tyranny of painstakingly dripping the oils in slowly to ensure it all emulsifies. While your forearm will still get a good workout using that whisk to beat the oil into a creamy sauce, the mustard starts the emulsification almost instantly!

Vegan Aioli - DIY Pantry
(makes 2/3 cup)

1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons creamy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, safflower)
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a mortar and pestle smash garlic and salt into a paste; scrap into a small mixing bowl and add mustard and whip with a whisk until well blended. Pour oils into mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking furiously to blend and emulsify. Halfway through adding oils, add vinegar and lemon juice and continue whisking. Finish adding oils and taste for salt. Keep refrigerated when not in use. If sauce begins to separate, simply rewhisk.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Willy Wonka's Chocolate Mushrooms at Think. Care. Act.
Almond Brown Rice Pudding at Sidewalk Shoes
Triple Fennel and Spelt Salad at My New Roots

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garlickly Greens Scacciata Pie with Cashew Cheese

I wrote a post several years talking about my favorite family heirloom. Not a piece of furniture or art, per se, but rather the Sicilian Heirloom Scacciata, of unknown origins which I was so fortunate to know while growing up in Middletown, Connecticut. Since changing to a plant-based diet, I decided to make it using my favorite cashew cheese. Just as delicious!

Now that I have begun experimenting with Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese, I can't wait to try these with homemade vegan mozzarella! Look for a forthcoming version with garlickly broccoli!

Garlickly Greens Scacciata Pie with Cashew Cheese
(serves 2-4)

4 cups chopped greens (2 large bunches of any of the following: kale, collards, swiss chard, purslane, turnip greens, beet greens)
1 cup onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours or more
2/3 cup almond milk
1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste)

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Add yeast to water and set aside to proof. Mix flour and salt in bowl and add proofed yeast and stir to combine. Add olive oil and mix well. Turn out onto floured counter and kneed 5-7 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place in clean bowl and cover with damp dish cloth and place in warm place and allow to rise 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes until you can smell garlic but before it begins to brown. Remove garlic and set aside. Add onion and saute for 1 minute until it turns translucent. Add greens and cook for 4-5 minutes until wilted. Add garlic back to pan and cook another 3 minutes until flavors meld. Set aside to cool.

Place soaked cashews and almond milk in blender and puree until smooth. Add nutritional yeast and puree until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down dough and pull apart into 2 pieces. Roll out each piece into a large circle. Place half of filling in the front part of the circle and top with half of cashew cheese. Pull dough over filling and roll edges to seal, tucking ends under sciaccatta. Oil top with olive oil and place on greased baking sheet and bake 40 minutes or until top is nicely browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Serve with warmed marinara sauce or plain.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Gratin at Closet Cooking
Shrimp Enchiladas with Green Chile Sauce at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Vegan Corn Dog Mummies at Fork and Beans

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moroccan Lentil Stew over Couscous - Farewell to PPN

If you scan my labels on my blog, you'll notice that Moroccan dishes are up there with my other favorite types of cuisine - Asian, Mexican - only beat by Italian (kind of hard to compete with that!) When Joanne of Eats Well With Others posted her version of a Moroccan Lentil Stew I knew that my version would soon follow.

A huge fan of Harissa, Preserved Lemons, and Pomegranate Molasses, all of those fun DIY Pantry ingredients found their way into my version. I served this over couscous, naturally, and perfectly it fit as my final offering and tribute to Presto Pasta Nights.

Presto Pasta Nights was my introduction to blog events and the one that has most enriched my life. Not only did I host it six times but many of the bloggers that I met through PPN are now my favorites as well as being part of my virtual blogging community. I can't remember how I first came across PPN but my blog and my food repertoire has grown so much because of the following blogs:

Once Upon a Feast
Chaya's Comfy Cook now Bizzy Bakes
Chez Cayenne
Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
Closet Cooking
Cook Almost Anything
Eats Well With Others
Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine
Honey From Rock
More Than Burnt Toast
Sidewalk Shoes
Thyme for Cooking

Thank you to everyone for sharing your passion, food and energy with us all, how lucky we are! And thanks most of all to Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. Here's to so much more great food to come!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving RoundUp - Vegan Friendly

It is that time of year when omnivores reign supreme - Thanksgiving. But not to forget the spirit of the holiday - gratitude - I am generously sharing lots of suggestions for omnivore and vegan/veggie cooks alike.

It is mainly the baking and entree side that trips up newbie Thanksgiving cooks, who are frazzled enough with making a huge bird and hoping it isn't over- or under-done. Unless you're on great terms with the cook, let go of having protein at this one meal and focus on the sides and desserts, they are really the best part of the meal in my mind! But if you can get a burner in the busy kitchen, here's my recipe for Marsala Seitan with Sauteed Mushrooms (courtesy Field Roast)

My preference if I am dining at someone else's table is to ask if I might bring something to share. Most cooks will be happy to have your contribution so they have something less to worry about. Depending on your palate - sweets galore, vegetable-aholic, fun appetizers - you can bring your favorite dish and ensure you really enjoy at least once dish and show friends and family how delicious vegan can be!

Showing lots of compassion for all beings, here are some humble suggestions for a happy dining experience for everyone at this year's Thanksgiving!


Chocolate Pudding Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Limoncello Macaroons

Grasshopper Pie

Hors d'Oeuvres

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

Fermented Cashew "Boursin" Cheese

Raw Spinach and Artichoke Dip



Creamed Spinach

Pan Roasted Mushrooms and Wild Rice

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a joyous and delicious day!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Presto Pasta Nights - # 289 - The Penultimate Round-Up

Welcome to Presto Pasta Nights #289! This is my sixth time hosting (kind of hard to believe!) but a bittersweet one since this is the penultimate roundup of Presto Pasta Nights. Next week's roundup will be the last, capping off more than 5 years of weekly roundups of pasta! So please join me with your favorite glass of drink to celebrate all of the yummy pasta we have before us!

First of all I want to pay tribute to Ruth Daniels of Once Upon A Feast for creating Presto Pasta Nights. Since I started blogging more than three years ago, PPN has been the event I have participated in most and from which I have met such wonderful bloggers. I have always loved that it was weekly - the frequency made it feel cosy, like cooks sharing recipes over the back fence or in the aisle of the grocery store. Everyone was so welcome and it created so much virtual community, one of the main reasons I personally enjoy blogging so much!

So often Ruth's dishes feature interesting pasta as well as delicious flavor combinations. Of course this week is a perfect example: Conchiglioni with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms. In a word, Yum!

Next is Lana of Bibberche with her Mediterranean Pasta with Sardines. Lana not only went "pantry spelunking" (something I adore!) to bring the briny goodness of her childhood to her family, but she produced a dish that left her family silent in rapture-filled eating. Sounds like a winner to me!

Stash of Simple Kitchen Seasons is a cook after my own heart. Reminding us of the authentic way to make Spaghetti Carbonara - no cream, raw eggs! - he serves up a gorgeous carbonara that lets the simple ingredients shine in perfect harmony allowing the pasta to take center stage.

Catherine of Cate's Cates brings us Vegan Pasta Primavera with fresh herbs, fava beans (or broad beans as some call them) and a bowl full of fresh spring veggies because she's living where Spring is just blooming, lucky duck! Well she stole my heart when she started talking fresh herb sauce with favas - all of which are growing in my southern California winter garden right now! So this dish goes to the top of my must make list!

Haalo of Cook Almond Anything, a PPN regular, sends us Tajarin con Ragu Leggero dell'Orto inspired by a recent meal at a local favorite restaurant in Alba (so much inspiration from the Mediterranean in this roundup as me dreaming of that wondrous food region!) Adding lots of vegetables - bell peppers, zucchini, red celery and peas - she lightens up the traditional notion of a ragu to create a confetti effect with gorgeous egg pasta!

Next is Alicia of Foodycat who serves up a real doozy - Prawn and 'nduja fusilli lunghi. Prawns + Calabrian spicy sausage? When I was an omnivore this dish would have sent me into ecstatic convulsions at the very description! All of this inspiration from the Mediterranean is having me longing for that magical place. Luckily it's easy to "take a trip" through the pantry and at least taste my way through deliciousness!

Skud of The Oeconomist serves up a Ricotta Pesto Vegetable Pasta Bake. Whew! That's a mouthful to say but better yet one I'd like to be forking into my mouth as soon as possible! He added mushrooms and sundried tomatoes along with a creamy version of Ricotta that is sliced up in wedges. I completely understand why he heard that kind of ricotta talking to him!

Tigerfish, another long-time PPNer whose dishes never fail to invoke involuntary drooling, brings us Preserved Chinese Leaf Mustard and Chicken Noodle Soup, writing at An Escape to Food. I am always intrigued by anything preserved (preserved lemons being one of my favorite ingredients) and the idea of adding preserved greens to a warming noodle dish sounds perfect as the darkness falls earlier and the rainy season begins in Southern California. This dish is zipping to the top of my must make list!
Bringing up the rear is my Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Parsley. Using that magical ingredient of soaked raw cashews, I made a pureed sauce with some nutritional yeast that paired perfectly with some orrechiete, peas, and parsley.

Farewell for now dear pasta eaters. See you all next week for the final celebration of Presto Pasta Nights! Thanks for participating this week and happy eating!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Chile Gorditas

Peasant food is my favorite kind of food to make. It's cheap, filling, usually from locally sourced ingredients if you cook according to the climate you live in, and perfected over centuries by home cooks, so almost guaranteed to be delicious.

Lately I've been making gorditas, "fat ones" which are Mexican in origin. Masa dough stuffed with simple things like sauteed garlic and chilies and a dab of cheese, pan fried into tasty goodness. They're highly addictive, very filling, and even reheat well in the microwave for office lunches!

In this version I used some vegan cream cheese, but use any mild cheese or dairy cream cheese and you'll be pleased with the results. These make a quick and satisfying dinner when you want something on the table quick but don't have time for fussing in the kitchen. Make a big batch and your lunch is waiting for you in the morning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Parsley - Presto Pasta Night

Pasta is gracing my table less often than it used to but when it does, I go all out, with something like this decadent creamy Alfredo pasta sauce. Adding sweet peas and fresh parsley and loads of black pepper makes my taste buds sing!

The alfredo sauce is vegan, made from soaked and pureed cashews (such a wonder nut!) with a good helping of nutritional yeast for that cheezy flavor and goodness. This dish is in honor of the end of Presto Pasta Nights. Next week I will be hosting the second to last iteration of this more than five year tradition. It will be my sixth time hosting and I am so honored to have participated in this amazing blogging event. Ruth of Once Upon A Feast has been the founder and stalwart organizer of this incredible weekly blogging event and while I am sad to see it go, there is no constant except change!

Over the years I have made so many blogging friends who were introduced to me via Presto Pasta Nights - Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice, Joanne of Eats Well With Others, and Clair of Chez Cayenne - just to name a few. Meeting these incredible bloggers as not only introduced me to delicious food on their blogs, but I have gotten to know these wonderful women who share so much of themselves in their writing as well as through their food. Ruth herself is such a generous heart and a joyful supporter of local purveyors of food (despite living in such a cold place as Halifax, Nova Scotia), that she is an inspiration to food bloggers everywhere!

Please send in a submission to kirstenmlindquist at gmail dot com and cc Ruth at 4everykitchen dot com and join me for next week's round up and consider joining in the finale for November 16 as well. It will make a wonderful send off for a beautiful journey of pasta!