Summer Vegetable Strata

Summer Vegetable Strata

Every week we get a share of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Blue Pike Farm, the “first farm established in Cleveland, Ohio in the 21st Century.”  http://bluepikefarm.com. Carl Skalak, our farmer, generously shares both his produce and his considerable knowledge.

What was in the bag this week? Zucchini and sacred basil(among other things)! I decided to combine the zucchini with some pattypan squash I picked up at the farmers market to make a layered gratin of summer vegetables.

Summer Vegetable Strata
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
2 zucchinis
2 pattypan squash
bunch of sacred basil (or any fresh basil)
1 jar of tomato sauce
salt, pepper, and oregano to taste
1/4 cup of Japanese panko (or breadcrumbs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Slice the onion and lay half the slices in the olive oil. Salt and pepper them. Slice one zucchini and lay over the onion, and then slice one pattypan squash and lay over the zucchini. Pour half the tomato sauce over the layers, and sprinkle on half the basil and some oregano. Lay the other half of the onions on top and repeat the layers. Mix the panko crumbs (or any breadcrumbs) with olive oil and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour. The panko topping will form a nice gratin crust.

Options: I am just waiting for my backyard tomatoes to grow and then I will use big juicy tomato slices in place of the tomato sauce.

I served the strata with a side of japanese sprouted mung beans – cooked in water for 20 minutes, drained and served with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Summer vegetable delight!

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Raw Carrot Cake

Raw Carrot Cake

Our Passover dessert was a cake made with no flour, sugar, or an oven! As unbelievable as this may sound, this cake was a breeze to make, though be sure to allow enough time to make each layer and chill it before going on to the next. It is superbly delicious and unlike any cake you’ve ever eaten.

My husband Irad made the cake for our Passover Vegan Seder, and the recipe and his comments are below:
The recipe comes from http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/rawcarrotcake.htm :

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
•    2 cups finely ground raw almonds
•    ½ t. salt
•    ½ cup finely chopped Medjool dates
•    1/3 cup maple syrup
•    ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
For the Filling:
•    1 lb. carrots, finely chopped
•    1 16-ounce bag frozen pineapple, thawed
•    1/3 cup finely ground raw cashews
For the Frosting:
•    1 1/3 cups finely ground raw macadamia nuts
•    2 cups finely chopped Medjool dates
•    1/4 cup maple syrup
•    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Preparation:
1. Line the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan with parchment paper.
2. Make the crust. In a food processor, blend the almonds, salt, dates, and maple syrup until creamy. Mix in the sunflower seeds and press into the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before adding the filling.
3. Make the filling. In a food processor, blend the carrots, pineapple and cashews until just combined. Spread the mixture on top of the crust layer and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
4. Make the frosting. In a blender or food processor, blend the ground macadamia nuts, dates, lemon juice and maple syrup until creamy. Spread over the filling and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

Couple tips: Make sure the almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews are finely ground first, before other ingredients are added. The crust and frosting are quite sticky, and take some patience to spread.

-Irad

It was beautiful, delicious, very satisfying in terms of chiming all the sweet tooth bells, and even healthy. Chag sameach – Happy Passover.

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Lentil Stew (Spicy Ethiopian Style)

Lentil stew

This is my adaptation of a recipe from The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon. It became an adaptation the first time I made it because it called for red lentils when I had only brown. I picked this because it used Berbere, the new Ethiopian spice I found at my spice shop. The author also cooks the onions, garlic and spices in a thin layer of water, whereas I went to my default tablespoon of olive oil for sauteing the onions and spices.

Here is my version of this absolutely delicious lentil dish:

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Berebere (or substitute chili pepper, cayenne)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 cups of water
1 cup of lentils
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes,
salt and pepper to taste
lots of cilantro for garnish

1 cup of brown rice

Variation: Add chopped kale,  chard, or spinach 5-10 minutes before taking off the heat to get your greens in.

Set up your brown rice to cook. Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil. When onions are translucent add all the spices and mix around to coat the onions. Add the water and lentils. After about 15 minutes, add the diced tomatoes. When lentils are completely soft and stew is heated through, serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

This is the kind of staple you can eat every day. Recently I planned to make this and discovered I was out of lentils, so I made it exactly the same way with mung beans.The mung beans may have even been better than the lentils! I would suggest trying this formula with different color lentils, mung beans, yellow split peas or adzuki beans. Rotate the brown rice with quinoa or couscous. Add different leafy greens. A whole week of meal planning done – It is great any which way.

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Kik Alicha (yellow split peas)

Kik Alicha

Every once in awhile I impulse-buy a new cookbook. A few weeks ago I threw The Happy Herbivore into my cart while ordering something at Amazon. I leafed through the cookbook when it arrived, reading the author Lindsay S. Nixon’s introduction (another one of those vegans who lost dozens of pounds, sigh, just by becoming vegan, though in this case by eating fat-free recipes only) and noticed that she said she particularly loved ethiopian food.

About a week later in a spice shop I noticed, in the grab-bag basket at the cash register, an ethiopian spice called Berbere, and I thought, “Hmm, I’ll bet I can find a recipe that uses this in The Happy Herbivore,” and picked up a packet. Sure enough there were two amazing recipes based on this spice – here is the first of them, vegan AND fat-free.

Kik Alicha
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup dried yellow split peas
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Berbere
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
salt and pepper, to taste.
[cilantro for garnish – my embellishment]

Boil the water or broth and add the split peas. When water returns to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until the peas look soupy. Just before the split peas are done, heat the onions and garlic in a skillet with a thin layer of water until onion is translucent (3 minutes). Add spices and stir. Add onion/spice mixture to yellow split pease and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.

If you don’t have Berbere I imagine a little chili pepper would be a good replacement as the Berbere does contribute some heat to the dish. I like to pair legumes with a grain, and I served mine up with quinoa and topped with cilantro. I also cooked the onions with the spices first, and then added the split peas and water to the onion mixture and cooked them all together just to simplify the process. So basically, you are sauteing (or cooking in water) onions and spices,  and then throwing in the yellow split peas. It was still delicious.

This is the kind of food you can’t stop eating, yet don’t feel stuffed and bloated with afterward. It makes a perfect one bowl meal, or part of a more complex plate featuring a variety of vegetables, a heap of rice, and a golden fragrant scoop of Kik Alicha. Very kid-friendly; yellow split peas have a natural sweetness.

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Kitchen Sink Miso

Kitchen Sink Miso

 

The third in my series of Miso Soups, this one has everything in it but the kitchen sink. It is rich, hearty and satisfying, yet not heavy. It is a meal alone, or a great first course. It is almost the other two misos from this blog combined, and there is plenty of room for improvisation.

Ingredients (highly flexible except for the miso itself)
2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil (or canola oil)
One onion (or scallions or shallots)
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or more if you really like ginger)
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 pkg of dried shitake mushrooms (or any dried mushrooms
1/2 cup of miso
8 -10 cups of water or vegetable broth (I use water and it is fine)
1/2 lb. of firm tofu
3 carrots, shredded
1/4 large head of white cabbage, shredded  (purple will muddy your soup)
shredded daikon radish
12 oz. can of garbanzo beans (or 1 cup pre-soaked and pre-cooked)
frozen peans
your additional vegetable improvisations (green beans, corn, radish slices,)
sprouts and cilantro for garnish

Cook the onions in the oil, add the garlic, ginger and crimini mushrooms. Put the dried mushrooms to soak in a cup of water. When the mushrooms begin to look cooked, add the miso, the soaked dried mushrooms with their water,  and the remainder of the water (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil and throw in all the other ingredients. Cook 5 minutes, garnish and serve – Do not overcook the carrots/cabbage – it is better to have some texture to the vegetables, and leave room for reheating the soup.

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Charoset and Poppyseed Filled Vegan Hamentaschen

Poppy Seed and Charoset Hamentaschen

My son just told me his friend told him he was “crunchy.” (As in “crunchy granola” for those of you who are my age.) I said, “Well, yeah, look at our hamentaschen!” They are big, bold, rough around the edges, full of whole grain power and so far beyond a cookie that they are an event unto themselves. So here is the recipe to have a vegan Purim with traditional hamentaschen.

Purim: Jewish Holiday that celebrates a time in ancient Purim when Jews avoided             destruction by an enemy named Haman.
Hamentaschen: A pastry modeled on Haman’s three cornered hat. Also known in Hebrew as Oznei Haman, or Haman’s Ears.

There are many ways to fill hamentaschen – apricot filling, fruit fillings, poppy seed, chocolate. I chose to make poppy seed, and then on a whim, I ground together apples, walnuts, honey and wine to make “charoset” – a food usually reserved for the upcoming holiday of Passover, and one of those delicious foods that everyone looks forward to. Each family has their own recipe – I usually make mine with dates, walnuts, apples, wine and cinnamon, cloves and cardamon. So in anticipation of the coming holiday, also known as the holiday of spring, and since Purim fell on the first day of spring, I decided to fill hamentaschen with charoset. It was a complete and total hit -my husband said it must go on the blog -and it goes in my permanent recipe file.

Hamentaschen dough:
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
1 seedless navel orange
1/2 cup soy milk with 2 teaspoons of vinegar in it
3 cups of whole wheat flour (a mixture of whole wheat pastry dough and regular whole wheat is also an option)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of oil
2 tsp of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
orange zest (taken off the orange before peeling and throwing orange into the processor)

First grind the almonds in the food processor. Then add the orange and blend in the soy milk. Then sift the dry ingredients together and add them slowly to the food processor, pulsing with each addition.

Take out the dough and work it by hand into a soft, elastic ball. Divide it in two and roll out one half at a time. When a nice thin even dough is obtained, use the top of a water glass or a biscuit cutter to cut out small circles. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle, pinch together one side, then pinch together two opposite corners to make a triangular pouch. Roll scraps of dough out to make more, then use second half.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until slightly brown at tips.

Charoset filling:
one good sized sweet apple (I recommend fuji)
1 cup of walnuts
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of cinnamon.
up to a quarter cup of sweet Jewish wine to taste

Rinse out food processor. Blend all the ingredients together into a paste.

Poppyseed Filling:
1 cup of poppyseed
1 cup of soymilk
1/2 cup of organic sugar
zest and juice of one lemon

Cook together for 10 minutes in a saucepan. Let cool.

I don’t believe there is any law, Jewish or otherwise, against eating these yummers anytime during the year.

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Mucho Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

These cupcakes are to die for. I am permanently converted to cupcake fandom. I am even willing to concede there are desserts without chocolate that for which it is worth getting out of bed in the morning.  Thanks to son Amnon, who has toyed with being a pastry chef since the age of 10, for taking these on and delivering! Ours came out even more beautiful than the picture in the cookbook they came from – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Moskowitz and Romero. (See Tofu Crossing Trading Post http://astore.amazon.com/rebeccacarmiw-20 for cookbook link.)

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 cup soy milk or rice milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Margarita Icing (recipe follows)
Large crystal decorating sugar for edges of cupcakes ( 1/2 cup) [we used turbinado]

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degreesF. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In large bowl, beat together lime juicce, zest, soymilk, canola oil, tequila, vanilla and sugar. Sift in flour baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until batter is smooth. Fill liners three quarter os the was full and bake 20 to 22 minutes until knife or toothpick inserted into center of one comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting; allowing cupcakes to set for an hour or two helps flavor set.

ASSEMBLE
Spread icing on cubcakes, spreading all the way to the edges, then roll just the outer edges of cupcake in sugar crystals, or sprinkle on edges by hand.

Margarita Icing:
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoons soy milk or rice milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
tiniest drop of green food color or food color paste you can manage (optional)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Generous pinch kosher or coarse salt, optional
Blend margarine with a fork till soft and fluffy then stir in soy milk, lime juice, tequila and food coloring (if using, to make icing very pale green). Sift in 2 cups confectioners sugar and blend (low speed in electric mixer) till creamy and smooth.  If it’s a little too liquidy, sift in the remaining confectiners sugar, one tablespoon at a time, till a thick but spreadable consistency is reached. Refrigerate until ready for use.

I never would have guessed that tequila is so good baked! And you don’t have to remember whether to suck the lime or lick the salt first.

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