Monday, May 31, 2010

Dairy-free Lavender Vanilla Shake
and a Contest Winner!

This morning's post is short and sweet. Heartiest congratulations to Helen, who won a copy of Donna Klein's wonderful book, Supermarket Vegan. I know you're going to love it! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest.

In pursuit of all things lavender, I came across a recipe for honey-vanilla lavender milkshakes. My veganized version uses agave in place of honey and So Delicious Creamy Vanilla ice cream.

 
The sprigs of Spanish lavender pictured above were snipped from my garden to beautify this photo. They are not what I used to make lavender-infused agave.

I recommend getting the best culinary lavender you can get your hands on. It makes all the difference in the world. These creamy shakes will make a delicious addition to all of your summer cookouts. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup agave nectar + 2 Tbs water
3 heaping Tbs culinary lavender flowers
8 scoops So Delicious Creamy Vanilla ice cream, softened for about 10 minutes until slightly melty at the edges
1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (I used Vanilla)
1 very ripe banana
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Do ahead: Mix the agave, water, and lavender flowers in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the agave is liquified, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit for about an hour. Strain the mixture into a small bowl or jar, pressing the lavender, to release all of the liquid. Cover and set aside at room temperature, until ready to use. (Up to five days.)

When ready to prepare shakes, place ice cream, milk, banana, lavender, and vanilla in a blender. Blend on low, and gradually increase to medium speed until blended thick and creamy. Pour into two tall glasses and serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway! Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Recipes for Real People in the Real World
by Donna Klein


So many vegan cookbooks, so little time ... When I first heard the title of this new book, I thought, "what a great idea!" As a food coach and author of So Now What Do I Eat? The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Convenience Foods, my readers know that I'm all about making it as easy as possible for people to transition to a vegan diet. Visiting clients at their homes and taking them shopping has shown me that many people feel overwhelmed by the prospect of adopting a plant-based diet. When I help someone clean out their refrigerator and pantry of all products containing animal ingredients, we're often left standing in the middle of a kitchen with bare cabinets, an empty fridge, and a pile of food in boxes or garbage bags on the floor. Later, when I take them to their local natural foods store and introduce them to healthier but unfamiliar ingredients, they seem confounded by the strangeness of it all. So what a great idea to be able to say to someone that everything they need to prepare a bounty of healthful, delicious, plant-based meals is sitting right there in the ordinary surroundings of their local supermarket!

Supermarket Vegan is filled with a tantalizing array of appetizers, soups, stews, salads, wraps, noodle dishes, and desserts showcasing international cuisine from the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. With dishes like Greek Buglur-Stuffed Peppers with Mint, Cellophane Noodles with Scallions and Chow Sauce, and Curried Eggplant Black-Eyed Pea Stew, and Avocado Tostadas there's something wonderful to tempt everyone's palate.

As I do with any new cookbook, I sat down and read through every recipe before choosing which ones I wanted to sink my teeth into. If I have one criticism of this book, it's that most of the recipes are fairly high in fat. But that is easily remedied by cutting out half the oil called for in any given recipe or by eliminating the oil completely. I did this with several recipes without compromising taste, as with this gorgeous recipe for Hawaiian-Style Sweet and Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers.


Pineapple and coconut intermingled beautifully to create a dish that was distinctly Hawaiian. I added marinated tempeh and served it over a bed of steaming jasmine rice to create a meal that was delightfully nourishing and satisfying.

One evening I read off some of the recipes I'd bookmarked to Mark. Buddhist Hot-and-Sour Soup with Tofu appealed to him, because there was a chill in the air, and he very much enjoys having soup on a cold and blustery day. I loved the rich brown broth that was achieved by combining soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and black bean sauce, and was thoroughly delighted to discover that yes indeed, my local supermarket did carry the latter two. To make the soup a bit heartier so that we could enjoy it as a main course, I added cellophane rice noodles, scallions, carrots, and water chestnuts. We both agreed that it was one of the tastiest soups we'd ever had.

Donna's recipe for African Cabbage, Carrot, Potato, and Chickpea Stew sounded equally tantalizing. Cumin, turmeric, and red pepper delicately seasoned this stew and allowed the flavor of the gently cooked vegetables to take center stage.


Following is the for recipe African Cabbage, Carrot, Potato, and Chickpea Stew from Donna Klein's Supermarket Vegan excerpted by arrangement with Perigee Books, a member of the Penguin Group. Copyright © 2010.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs peanut oil and/or extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted this and used vegetable broth, instead)
1 16-oz bag baby carrots
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8 ounces shredded cabbage (I used red and green)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
2-3 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar, or to taste (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large deep-sided nonstick skillet with a lid, heat oil (or broth) over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes, adding the garlic the last minute or so of cooking. Add the potatoes, chickpeas, cabbage, broth, water, tomatoe paste, sugar (if using), cumin, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes (if using), and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, an cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes, stirring ocassionally. Serve warm over rice or couscous.

I'm very excited about sharing a copy of Supermarket Vegan with one of my readers. It's a wonderful resource for those of you who are just starting out on your vegan adventure and would make the perfect gift for someone you may know who is just starting out. Here's all you have to do to enter to win:

Follow this blog, and leave a comment here telling me why you'd like to win a copy of Supermarket Vegan. Please make sure to include your email address, so I can contact you when you win.

You can earn extra entries by following me on twitter (@vegiegail) and tweeting about this contest with a link back to this blog post. Stay tuned—I'll be choosing one lucky winner later this week. Good luck!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spice Market Sweet Potato and
Lentil Packets


I can't remember the last time I looked at a copy of Vegetarian Times. But I happened to notice the May/June 2010 issue sitting on a friend's desk the other day, and I couldn't resist skimming through its pages. This recipe for Spice Market Sweet Potato and Lentil Packets cooked in a curried ginger broth looked jumped out at me. Sweet potatoes and lentils gently cooked in a curried ginger broth sounded intriguing. It turned out to be simple to make, fun to eat, and absolutely delicious, too. The only change I made was cutting the amount of oil in half to significantly reduce the total fat per serving.

Ingredients:

2 cups sweet potatoes, finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced (1.5 cups)
1 cup fresh green beans, finely sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tbs hot sesame oil (I used 1 Tbs)
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp)
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, rinsed and drained or 1 15-oz can lentils, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons prepared mango chutney (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 4 16-inch lengths of foil on work surface. Fold foil in half from short side. Unfold. Shape corners and edges of one half into semicircular "bowl" with 1/2-inch sides. Coat insides of foil with cooking spray.

Combine sweet potato, bell pepper, green beans, and raisins in medium bowl. Add oil, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Whisk together broth, ginger, garlic, and curry powder in small bowl.

Divide sweet potato mixture among packets; top with 1/3 cup lentils. Pour 1/4 cup broth mixture over lentils, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fold ther half of foil over ingredients, and crimp edges in overlapping folds until packets are sealed. Transfer packets to baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes.

Transfer to plates. Let each person open packet carefully, because escaping air will be hot. Top with chutney if desired, and serve with basmati rice or quinoa. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Own Private VeganFest!

I could have stayed home Sunday and been depressed about not being able to go to WorldFest in Los Angeles. Instead, I decided to use such a springlike western Oregon day to create my own private vegan festival. I headed up to Portland and sampled some of the best vegan food to be found in Stumptown or anywhere else, for that matter.

First stop: Mississippi Marketplace—ten food carts that form an "L" shape around the German brew pub, Prost. It's located in the heart of the Historic Mississippi District at the corner of Mississippi and Skidmore.


At the apex of the "L" are three vegan food carts: The Ruby Dragon, The Sushi Tree, and Native Bowl.


Mississippi Marketplace is the vision of businessman Roger Goldingay, who according to an October 2009 article in The Oregonian converted "a dilapidated building and an abandoned lot into a food-cart center, a community gathering place, and an incubator for small artisan businesses focused on food and crafts." The entire cart space is constructed on eco-friendly, permeable asphalt with native plant landscaping. Cart-hoppers can enjoy their food at canvas-shaded tables or on Prost's expansive deck, where smiling waitresses serve eleven different imported German beers. (In winter months, a beverage purchase from the bar allows you to stay warm and dry and enjoy your food-cart meal indoors.)


The atmosphere at Mississippi Marketplace on this delightfully sunny Sunday was fun and festive, almost like a carnival or Oktoberfest in spring! I parked myself at Native Bowl, and just watched the action for a while, observing happy customers come and go. Julie Hasson and her husband, Jay, are Native Bowl's owner/operators.


I recently met Julie at the Portland Food Cart Festival, where we quickly became friends. I'm a fan of her online vegan cooking show, Everyday Dish TV, and I couldn't wait to visit Native Bowl and wrap my lips around some of her fabulously inventive vegan cuisine.

Each of her native bowls are a combination of fresh vegetables and grilled tofu or soy curls in flavorful sauces on a bed of jasmine rice. Wait a minute—soy curls? What the heck are they? The funny thing is, I'd heard this phrase when I visited another wonderful food cart in Portland last fall, Homegrown Smoker. But since I didn't order them at the time, I never bothered to ask exactly what soy curls are. But more about them a bit later ... Back to Native Bowl ... Julie explained that each signature bowl is named for a street or neighborhood in Portland: There's a Mississippi Bowl, a Couch Bowl, (for out-of-towners like me, it's pronounced "kooch" not "couch"), an Alberta Bowl, and a Broadway Bowl. How cute and clever is that? I couldn't decide which one to order, as they all sounded enticing. Julie thoughtfully gave me a taste of each of the sauces, which made choosing a lot easier. I went for the Mississippi Bowl, as I am a sucker for barbecue, and it contains a luscious combination of creamy ranch dressing and two different barbecue sauces!


Looking almost too pretty to eat, Julie advises first-timers like me to mix everything up to get the most out of this dish. You can glimpse what mine looked like after a stir and several chopsticks-full, next to this little sign that was affixed to the table where I ate. Rabid reformed smoker that I am, I was very happy to see it.


How do you describe something that tastes so good that adjectives like delicious, delectable, and scrumptious just don't do it justice? I don't know, but all I can say about the combination of crunchy fresh vegetables, chewy soy curls, fragrant jasmine rice, creamy ranch dressing, and sassy barbecue sauce was enough to make me wish I lived in Portland so that I could eat at Native Bowl for lunch every day.

And if that isn't enough inspiration, here are two more gorgeous native bowls: the Alberta Bowl and the Broadway Bowl.


Okay, so back to soy curls ... Julie explained that soy curls are the clever invention of local entrepreneur Dan Butler. They're made from whole non-GMO soybeans and nothing else! Having moved away from fake meats containing isolated soy proteins, I was intrigued and enthused about soy curls. In the conventional processing of isolated soy protein, toxic chemicals like hexane (a solvent), are commonly used to release the oil. But soy curls are not processed with any chemicals. The texture of the soy curls in my Mississippi Bowl did not disappoint my taste buds, and in fact, far exceeded my expectations. They would be perfect in all kinds of recipes like fajitas, un-chicken salad, and chili, and they'd satisfy even the most hardcore omnivore's craving for something meaty in texture. I look forward to getting my hands on some soy curls and trying them in all kinds of recipes. You can learn more about soy curls, how to cook them, and where to buy them at ButlerFoods.com.


Lucky dog! Everyone can have a tasty treat at Native Bowl!

I was so full when I finished my bowl, I couldn't believe it when Julie offered me dessert: one of her Chocolate Cups a la Mode! (Think "death by chocolate" and you'll begin to have an idea of how amazing this tasted. In fact, I'm quite sure this is exactly how I want to die—while eating one of these.) It's a warm, melty, deeply rich chocolate cake topped with a scoop of Cherry Chocolate Chunk soy ice cream, and slathered in an incredible house-made chocolate sauce. You can't tell from the photograph, but what was in this cup was way beyond decadent. I thought I could only eat a spoonful or two, but remember that stupid Alka Seltzer commercial? Well, I'm gonna say it: I can't believe I ate the whole thing!


At this point you pretty much could have rolled me on out of there. But Jessica over at The Sushi Tree had something delicious to share. And anyone who knows me knows that I love really good vegan sushi. She proudly held out a plate with one of her Green Dragon Rolls, and well, I couldn't exactly refuse to taste it, could I? That would have just been rude.


The Green Dragon is a delightfully inventive mix of all sorts of yummy things like asparagus, daikon, sunflower seeds, avocado, cucumber, and cilantro that melted in my mouth. While I couldn't possibly eat a whole one of these generously sized rolls after all the other food I'd eaten, I had to take one to go. Even after the long ride home, the sushi still tasted so fresh and delicious, I wished I'd ordered more than just one for the road. (The idea of moving to Portland is becoming more appealing all the time.)

The farthest thing from my mind at this point was the idea of eating another morsel. But I had to see what kind of food was coming out of the beautiful little custom-wood-designed Ruby Dragon cart. The Abbott open-faced sandwich looked sensational, and I can't say I wasn't tempted to taste one. It's made with two huge slabs of curried tempeh dusted with a blend of sixteen Ethiopian spices, glazed with brown rice syrup, and served on toasted Dave's Killer Bread with home fries on the side. The Jade Forest Kale Salad looked equally tantalizing.

All three of these food carts offer world-class vegan food at bargain prices. (But hey, wait a minute, I want to move someplace sunny, not Portland!) For the time being, I do wish I lived closer, though.

Just two days earlier, I learned of a new vegan bakery in Portland, (well, new to me, it opened in October),Back to Eden Bakery Boutique. Julie encouraged me to visit, and I thought to myself, "could there really be another vegan bakery in Portland to rival all of the sweet decadence of SweetPea Baking Company? So before heading across the steel bridge to Powell's Books, I made my way to the trendy Alberta Arts District to find out.


Oh, if only I had room for some cafe au lait, a milkshake, or an Italian soda! Click on the pic below, and just look at all those yummy flavored syrup choices!


But with a case filled with delectable-looking cupcakes, cheesecakes, truffles, pies, and layer cakes, it wasn't going to be hard to find something wonderful to take home to enjoy later with a cup of tea. Choosing what to take, was going to be the hard part!


After several minutes of vacillating back and forth between this and that, I finally decided on a scrumptious-looking Strawberry Hazelnut Layer Cake and a Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Strawberry Filling. They were both sinfully delicious. I've never tasted strawberry frosting or filling that were so sweetly fruity. It was as though fresh strawberries had somehow just morphed themselves into buttery sweet creaminess.


I made my way to Powell's, and after selling back a bunch of books I'd purchased the last time I was there, I scored a pile of Robert Silverberg books I haven't yet read. When I got home, I cracked the first one open, poured myself a cup of tea, and settled in for the evening.


The vegan food, the energy, the people, the books ... I really do love Portland! Especially when the sun is shining!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Too Good Not to Share: Noodles and Greens

In case you're wondering what I did with that lovely bunch of Russian kale I got at the Farmer's Market the other day, I stumbled upon this lovely recipe for Noodles and Greens in the latest online edition of the McDougall Newsletter. (Scroll down to the the bottom of this page to see the recipe.) The dressing for this recipe was created by and vegan chef and author Miyoko Schinner, whose recipes have always reflected her culinary philosophy that "food is a celebration of life."

The creamy rich Japanese dressing is so decadently delicious, I could eat this dish for lunch every day for a week and not grow tired of it. I could have chosen to use any type of noodles (even gluten-free pasta), but made it with udon and enjoyed it for lunch two days in a row.


For more taste-tempting recipes like Polenta with Lemony Asparagus and Chickpeas and Double Chocolate Brownies, as well as several other great recipes for dark leafy greens, check out the latest issue of Dr. McDougall's newsletter.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review:Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero


I've been wondering what Terry Hope Romero, the adorable coauthor of the best-selling books Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar has been up to lately. Well, apparently she's been busy in the kitchen conjuring up 200 authentic and fabulous Latin food recipes. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of her new book, Viva Vegan!

Like rice and beans, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, chili peppers, and chocolate are all, as Terry reminds us, very much a "part of the soul of Latin American cuisine," and also just happen to be vegan. While she's not attempting to recreate every meat-based Latin dish (you'll find no recipes for carne asada or sopa de mondongo here), this book is a fiesta of mouth-watering meat- and dairy-free recipes for dishes like hearty empanadas, tasty tamales, savory sancocho, and so much more. And if you're cuckoo like me for fried sweet plantains but not so crazy about all that fat, Terry has thoughtfully provided a recipe for roasting them without any oil! (I can't wait until the plantains I bought ripen!)

It is no small accomplishment that Terry has taken some of the meatiest cuisine in the world and made it sublimely vegan. Her Venezuelan roots and experience working at a Latino-owned vegan restaurant in New York City provided her with many of the tools needed to create such an impressive collection of Latin-inspired vegan recipes. Her culinary genius made every recipe in Viva Vegan! a masterpiece. I decided to dive right in and prepare a meal that incorporated four recipes:

Potato-Chickpea Enchiladas with
Green Tomatillo Sauce
and Pine Nut Crema
along with Swiss Chard with Raisins and Capers

My taste buds had no idea they were in for a meal that was going to be so ¡muy fant├ístico! I scored some blue corn tamales at our local Latino market along with every other ingredient I needed. My house has never smelled more delicious than when these tamales were cooking in the oven. They were steaming and beautiful when they were finally done.


Sadly, I didn't have the patience to wait long enough before serving them so that they wouldn't fall apart. I was salivating by the time they came out of the oven and couldn't keep from digging in. So while they don't look all neat and pretty on the plate, I can't even begin to express how amazing they tasted. I have lived in Southern California and New Mexico and have traveled through Mexico, so I've eaten my fair share of enchiladas. But these babies were the most delicious I've ever eaten anywhere! I never would have thought to combine potatoes with chickpeas for a creamy enchilada filling, and Terry's Green Tomatillo Sauce made this dish shine. The Pine Nut Crema made a luxuriously cheeselike and creamy topping giving it another delicious dimension. Unbelievably, these enchiladas tasted even more incredible the next day!


I had been to the farmer's market earlier in the day and selected a beautiful bunch of organic Russian kale from the table seen here.


I'm having a real love affair with greens these days, and I also grabbed a bunch of gorgeous rainbow chard so I could try Terry's recipe for Swiss Chard with Raisins and Capers.


I love the classic Spanish combination of sweet and salty, and have used it in my own recipe for empanadas. (There are four enticing empanada recipes in Viva Vegan!) I chose the rainbow variety of chard to create a dish that is as colorful as it is delectable. Following is the recipe from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan! excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2010. http://www.dacapopresscookbooks.com

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Capers

1 large bunch chard (over 1/2 pound or a little more)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 Tbs capers (drained)
1/4 cup dark raisins
2 Tbs cooking wine, vegetable broth, or water
Salt and pepper

1. Wash the chard, then trim away the dried-out-looking parts of the ends of the stems. Remove and dice the stems into 1/2-inch chunks. Roll up a few leaves and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons. Keep the stems and leaves separate for now.

2. Over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet, heat together the olive oil and garlic until sizzling. Stir in the capers and fry for about 30 seconds, then stir in the raisins and chard stems. Stirring occasionally, cook for 4-6 minutes, or until the chard stems start to become tender but are still firm. Toss in the chard leaves, stirring to coat with the oil, and cook until the leaves start to wilt, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the cooking wine to deglaze the pan and then remove from the heat.

3. Season the chard with salt and pepper and serve immediately, making sure to ladle some of the chardy juices onto the serving plates.

If the sixteen pages of color photographs featuring many of the recipes—like Portobello Feijoada, Pupusas Stuffed with Black Beans and Plaintains, and Savory Fresh Corn Pancakes—don't make your mouth water or your tummy growl, then you have to be gastronomically challenged. Otherwise, get your hands on a copy of this delightful book, and start living la vida deliciosa!