The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

GreekStyleYogurtVeganYield: 3/4 cup

This recipe (or, really, more of an ultra-easy formula) was inspired by an invitation from Tofutti to create a plain Greek yogurt using any of their products.

Wanting a nut-free version, I had initially thought I would combine their Better than Cream Cheese or Better than Sour Cream with tofu, until I remembered how pronounced is the soy flavor of processed tofu.

So, then I wondered what would happen if I combined only the two Tofutti products.  Eureka!  Perfect in thick creamy texture and almost pure white color.

The remaining issue was the particular “tang” of Greek Yogurt.  (Sorry, but I had to take tiny tastes of my husband’s dairy variety to try to match it as closely as possible.)  The flavor is is definitely NOT lemony, so neither juice nor zest would do the trick.   I wondered about vinegar, but white vinegar is too astringent, apple cider vinegar to dark in color, and balsamic to pronounced in flavor, as well as deep in color.  But rice wine vinegar proved to be the ticket!   One teaspoon wasn’t quite enough; two was perfect!

The purity of the flavor of Greek yogurt is tricky to duplicate, and my version admittedly has a little more complexity of subtle flavor notes than its dairy-based cousin.  But it comes exceptionally close.  Enjoy using it however you use plain Greek yogurt!

Get the recipe here!

Greek Yogurt (Plain)--Homemade--Tofutti

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Pumpkin Seed-Chocolate Chip CakeA recipe from Rick Bayless–the iconic American chef steeped in traditional Mexican cuisine which he serves up, with a modern twist, at his Frontera Grill restaurants in Chicago and cooks up on his PBS series–inspired my vegan version (which I submitted to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!).

I spotted the recipe in “Chefs’ Weeknight Dinners” in the July 2014 issue of Food and Wine while on an airplane and knew it would be one of the first new recipes I created once I got back home.

I followed his recipe and method except for the eggs and the chocolate.  For the 3 eggs, I substituted 1/2 cup mashed banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk, and an additional 3/4 teaspoon baking powder.  I chose banana as I’m not a powdered egg replacement fan and the banana seemed both Mexican and compatible with chocoalte.  (I think pureed pumpkin would also be a nice substitute.)  And for the Mexcian chocolate, finely chopped, I simply subbed vegan mini chocolate chips.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla and a smidge more confectioners’ sugar for dusting.

The recipe is a cinch to make and very earthy due to the large amount of pumpkin seeds.  It calls for just over a cup of sugar, but the pumpkin seeds are roasted and salted, so this unfrosted cak is not too sweet.

The result is deliciously different without being odd.  The cake has a consistency somewhat similar to a blondie with chocoalte chips.  But its flavor–with the banana virtually undetectable–is all its own, so I think you’ll love adding it to your repertoire.

 

1 3/4 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (any granulated sugar will work)

1/2 cup mashed banana

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

Optional: 1 tablespoon tequila

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup softened butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (unbleached all-purpose flour would also be fine)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 ounces vegan mini-chocolate chip (or chocolate/chocolate chips finely chopped)

2 tablespoons confecitoners’ sugar

Spray a 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  Trace around the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out just inside the line.  Place paper in greased pan and spray again.  Sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and 2 tablespooons of turbinado sugar.  In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds with the remaining 1 cup of turbinado sugar until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Add the banana, soymilk, optional tequila, vanilla, and butter, and process until smooth.  Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until incoproated.  Add the chocolate and pulse until well distributed.  Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, gently smoothing to make an even layer over the pumpkin seeds.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean and edges are golden brown.  Rotate the pan halfway though baking.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate and carefully peel off the parchment paper.  Dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Julia Child Birthday Bash Invitation 2014For the last five years–since the move Julie and Julia came out–my husband, Joe, and I have hosted a birthday party for Julia Child on or near the weekend of her August 15 birthday.  And I invite you to do the same!

Having just seen the movie with my parents and sister five years ago, and looking for an excuse to gather some friends together for a late summer party, I hit on a birthday party for this larger than life icon and role model for home cooks who wanted to elevate their culinary repertoire a la Francaise (beginning in 1961 with the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)

This summer soiree has turned out to be our friends’ favorite gathering of the warm weather season, so the tradition has continued for this, our sixth summer.  And it is a no-brainer for me as the hostess because it is fortune du pot or potluck.

However, some rules do apply:  while I do not insist that contributions be vegan or vegetarian (I am the only vegan in the crowd and Reese Lusk the only strict vegetarian), they usually are, e.g. Beet Bourguignon.  But they must be prepared according to or inspired by one of Julia’s recipes or, at least, something French.  And everyone is asked to bring a bottle of a favorite wine, prerferably French, of course.

Our generous comrades go way beyond with gifts and flowers, all of it unnecessary but much appreciated.  And the presentation!  All of these folks love good simple design as much as they love good simple (or sometimes not-so-simple) food and good company, so it is like a tantalizing parade as our guests start arriving.

We only confer minimally ahead of time about what eachof us plans to prepare, but the spread is alway spsrawling and spectacular in both taste and appearance, with every dish complementing every other beautifully.  I sometimes prepare a birthday cake, though not always, as its not like we need to amp it up in the celebration department.  Wine, conversation and good cheer flow freely for several hours around our dining table that comfortably seats 10.

Iget a kick out of designing a digital invitation like the one shown here in Microsoft Publisher after conferring about a date via email (sometimes we’ve had to hold the party the week before due to scheduling conflicts).  After that, there’s nothing more to do except anticipate a beautiful summer evening that practically creates itself.

Bon Appetit!

P.S.  Here are some links to posts about past soirees: 2013 2011 2009-a 2009-b

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Close-upYield: 6-8 servings (depending on other side dishes)

 

I took this salad to a 4th of July celebration at our good friends’ Mary Beth and Ken Mays’ home where it was a huge hit along with burgers (veggie and beef–I was the only vegan, though Mary Beth is a pescetarian and her cousin a vegetarian), red skinned new potato salad with artichoke hearts and both green and ripe olives in a light vinaigrette dressing, and a beautiful fruit salad for dessert.

Since we decided to go fairly traditional with our menu, I felt a slaw was in order.  But I also felt a little more protein would be nice, not to mention more color and texture contrast.  When all was said and done, this was one addicting salad!

 

1-12 ounce package prepared (but not dressed) broccoli slaw

5 ounces mixed or single greens like kale, Swiss chard, etc., finely chopped (I use a food processor for this task)

1 orange or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1-15.5 ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and well-drained

5 stalks celery hearts, diced

1/2 cup roughly chopped smoked almonds

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Lime Aioli Dressing (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, toss together all salad ingredients.  Drizzle dressing over the top and toss well to combine.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least a half hour to allow flavors to marry.  Serve cold.

 

Lime Aoili Dressing:

Juice and zest of 1 small to medium lime

1 teaspoon stone ground mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Pinch turbinado sugar (or your favorite granualted sugar)

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Place lime juice and mustard in a medium bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth and completely combined.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.Bean and Broccoli Slaw

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Two Tarts--Bird's EyeYield: 6-5 inch tarts

A recipe in a summer issue of one of my culinary magazines for a quiche featuring zucchini, tomatoes and walnuts inspired this dish.  However, I had a bunch of local Swiss chard from our farmer’s market that needed used, so I finely chopped it and folded it into my vegan quiche batter.  This is summer satisfaction at it best and brightest!

And it has been so popular, Ithought it would be nice to contribute to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck 3, an ingenious idea by An Unrefined Vegan.

6-5 inch blind-baked tart shells (recipe for Press-In Pie Crust  follows)

1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed, and very finely chopped (I used a food processor for this task)

14 ounces extra-firm tofu (not Silken)

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk or any unsweetened non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Zest of 1 small to medium lemon

1-2 tablespoons finely chopped basil or chiffonade (leaves stack, rolled, and thinly sliced)

18-1/4 inch thick zucchini slices, cooked (approximately 1 medium zucchini; I like to grill them in an indoor gill pan; but you can saute, broil or steam)

9 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

6 walnut halves and approximately 36 walnut pieces (but you don’t have to be that exacting)

Approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt divided among the 6 tarts

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Note:  if you make your own crusts, which I highly recommend–my recipe is quick and easy–just leave the oven set to 400 degrees.  Proceed with recipe while shells bake.  Place Swiss chard in a large bowl.  Rinse and dry food processor bowl and puree together until smooth tofu, soymilk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste.  Spoon mixture over Swiss chard, add lemon zest, and fold together until completely combined.  Divide filling evenly among tart shells.  On top of each, arrange 3 slices of zucchini, 3 cherry tomato halves, and 6 walnut pieces in a pinwheel design and place 1 walnut in the center.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to cool just enough to remove tarts from pans, place tarts on serving plates, and drizzle each tart with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon coarse see salt.  Serve warm.

 

Press-In Pie Crust

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat, but you can also combine half all-purpose with half whole wheat)

2 teaspoons turbinado sugar (any granulated sugar is fine)

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

3/4 cup canola oil (or any neutral-tasting vegetable oil)

3 tablespoons unsweetened soymilk or anyunsweetened non-dairy milk

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tart pans with removeable sides on a rimmed baking sheet.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the center, pour in wet ingredients, and stir with a fork just until a nice, moist dough forms.  Divide into sixths and pat evenly into tart pans.  Prick a few times with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven.

 

Slight Bird's Eye

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Pie Ice Cream 3--UneditedIf you love Apple Pie a la Mode–and who doesn’t?–my Vegan Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream is for you!

The ingredient list is short and the process simple, so you can make it today and it will be ready just in time for your July 4 celebration!  And nothing is more American than apple pie, right?

After some experimentation, I found that cooking the apple puree until it formed a thick paste concentrated the deep apple flavor along with its rich, golden color.

And a generous amount of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream tempered the overall sweetness while lending to the ice cream its luscious texture.

Enjoy alone or with my simple, no-roll cinnamon-and-sugar Pie Crust Pieces broken up and mixed-in during the last minute or so of churning or sliced into strips and served as side-cars for a delectable crunch.

A cinnamon stick garnish isn’t necessary, but it looks adorable, no?

However you serve it, you and your friends and family are sure to enjoy mom’s apple pie in ice cream form!

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I am THRILLED to share with you my new recipe–a Tofutti exclusive–for Sea Salt and Caramel Ice Cream just in time for July 4!

I don’t know about where you live, but here it is heating up quickly and nothing beats the Coastal VA heat like cool, creamy ice cream, especially one with a little crunchy flaky salt to replace all that is lost in that summer sweat.

Picking a favorite recipe is akin to picking a favorite child (or dog, in our case) but, I have to say, this may well be, at least, my favorite ice cream.   I highly recommend splurging slightly on Maldon Salt Flakes, though you could certainly get away with any flaky sea salt.  It just won’t have quite the same feathery mouthfeel, like an ethereal snowflake.

Is it easy?  You bet is is!  Even making the caramel syrup is a breeze, though I recommend a simple clip-on candy thermometer to make sure it reaches just the right temperature/consistency!

Assert your independence from dairy and make sure this stunning recipe is on your Independence Day menu, though I suspect you will be making it all year!  A friend and fellow cookbook author’s husband said after enjoying a scoop, “The last bite is such a sad moment.”  Indeed.  So make lots!

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Tofu-Cauliflower Potato SaladYield: 8 servings

After making my Vegan Cauliflower Steaks with Curry Bechamel and Candied Eggplant, I had some leftover cauliflower that I had cooked before leaving town for the weekend.  We ate beautiful food al fresca while we were away, prepared and served by our generous and gracious hostess and friend, Juliane Curvin.

Though inspired to make her flavorful lentil soup, eggplant stew, and chickpea and pomegranate seed salad, with Independence Day approaching, I had more traditional picnic fare on my mind.

Essentially, this salad is what you would get if you added cooked potato to tofu egg salad, only with cauliflower replacing the potato as a lower calorie alternative.  So, it’s a kind of a potato salad-egg salad hybrid, which works beautifully, as the ingredients are similar and so compatiable: celery, (green) onion,  pickle relish, vegan mayo, mustard,  turmeric, garlic powder, and black salt with its uncannily-similar-to-boiled-egg flavor!

 

Salad:

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed, wrapped in paper towels, and drained

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon black salt (lends a distinctive “boiled egg” flavor–it’s magic!)

4 stalks celery hearts, finely diced

4 green onions, thinkly sliced

2 cups cooked cauliflower florets (should be quite tender)

Dressing (recipe follows)

Optional garnish: green onion and a pinch of paprika/smoked paprika

 

In a medium-large bowl, mash tofu (I like to use my fingers) with spices and then fold in celery, green onions and cauliflower using a fork.  Add dressing and toss to completely distribute.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Refrigerate until serving time to allow flavors to marry.  Garnish if desired

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or dill pickle relish if you prefer)

1 tablespoon stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

 

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

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With Napkin and ForkYield:  4 steaks (with extra sauce and Candied Eggplant)

On Good Friday, Joe and I made the pilgrimage that every self-respecting foodie must make at least once in his or her life…to the fabled Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA.  Our dinner and our lodging/breakfast experience at the Foster Harris House is recounted in Coastal Virginia Magazine (July 2014).  Suffice it to say that the Inn lives up to its storied reputation.  And the Foster Harris House, which we chose by perusing websites when there was no room at the inn, is also on our “go back” list for both lodging and dining.

After my exquisite 4-course vegan meal, I swore that I would recreate the entree: Cauliflower Steak with Curry Bechamel and Candied Eggplant.  It has taken me this long to get to it, as I wanted to devote my full attention and we are now out of school for the summer.  So, at last, here it is!   Wow!  As elegant as this meal looks and tastes, it is ultra simple to prepare.  Just be sure to make the Candied Eggplant the day before you plan to serve.

It took me two tries to get the steaks and the sauce just right, but the Candied Eggplant, adpated from MarcheDimanche Recipes, were like, well, candy from the get-go.  I used the cooking method for the steaks that restaurant chefs swear by for beef: a sear followed by a few minutes in the oven.  The sauce, made with a roux, is a fairly straightforward preparation, only the first time it was way too sweet.  Combining vegetable stock and unsweetened soymilk with the coconut creamer, and thinning slightly with a very dry Prosecco, did the trick.

Though this version of the sauce is slightly sweet in that coconut milky way, it is a beautiful pairing with the cauliflower and candied eggplant, and is nicely balanced with a side of sauteed bitter greens or, as I prepared it, quick-pickled thinly sliced zucchini and red onion.  For a garnish, you wouldn’t think that you would want more sweetness, but slightly spicy candied walnuts are the way to go.  However, you can simply toast the walnuts for a few minutes if you prefer.

While most of us can’t visit the Inn at Little Washington even once a year, this beautiful and delicious ode to “The Inn” is simple enough to prepare once a week!

 

Make the Candied Eggplant the day before you plan to serve.

Candied Eggplant:

2 small eggplants, stemmed (Japanese eggplants work nicely for this as I like their small diameter)

1/4 cup+ olive oil

Sea salt to taste

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon agave nectar or turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves (regular thyme is fine if you can’t find lemon thyme, but I grow it because it is so special)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Slice the eggplants into 1/8-inch slices. Working in two batches, heat half the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet placed over medium high.  Add half the eggplant slices, sprinkle very lightly with salt, and cook for about a minute on each side or until they are lightly browned.  Add more oil if necessary to prevent burning or drying out.  Remove to a a non-reactive dish.  I use a 5 x 9″ ceramic bread pan.  Repeat with remaining oil, eggplant, and another pinch of salt.  In a 1-quart saucepan, bring the vinegar, agave nectar or sugar, water, lemon thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and cinnamon to a boil.  Pour over the eggplant, cool, cover, and refrigerate over night.  Heat in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop before serving.

 

Curry Bechamel Sauce:

1/2 cup vegetable stock [choose one really rich in flavor or use 1 cup water + 1 large (9 g.) bouillon cube (enough to make 2 cups stock so that it is extra concentrated)]

1/2 cup plain coconut creamer (or other plain non-dairy creamer)

1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 medium shallot, peeled and halved

1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise

1/16th teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (barely a pinch)

1 tablespoons vegan butter

2 tablespoosn unbleached all-purpose flour

Optional: 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: up to 2 tablespoons very dry white wine or Prosecco (my favorite)

 

In a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable stock, creamer, and unsweetened soymilk with shallot, garlic, and nutmeg to simmering.  Watch closely, as it can boil over quickly, and reduce heat as necessary to maintain a simmer for 10 minutes.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium high, melt butter, whisk in flour, optional nutritional yeast, curry powder and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook 2 minutes, whisking continually, to make a roux to thicken the sauce.  Reduce heat if necessary.  Remove shallot and garlic pieces from simmering liquid and whisk the liquid into the roux, 1/2 cup at a time.  Simmer, whisking frequently, for about 10 minutes or until thickened and flavors are nicely combined.  Thin, if desired, by whisking in wine a tablespoon at a time.  Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Keep warm or reheat to serve.
Cauliflower Steaks:

Note:  Regardless of how large the cauliflower, I have yet to be able to slice more than two nice steaks from a head. I get other large pieces that I can arrange to look like a larger “steak,” and that works just fine.  So don’t fret if you encounter the same thing.,

1 large head cauliflower, thick stem and leaves removed, cut into four 3/4-inch thick “steaks”

Sea salt

1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: lemon thyme sprigs and toasted or spicy candied walnuts (just find a recipe to your liking online)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large cast iron skillet liberally with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high.  Working in two batches, sprinkle cauliflower lightly with sea salt on both sides and sear for 3 to 4 mintues on each side, adding additional spray if necessary.  Remove to an oil baking sheet.  Repeat.  In a small cup, whisk together melted butter and olive oil.  In a second cup, whisk together salt, coriander and pepper.  Brush first side of steaks with half the butter mixture, sprinkle with half the salt mixture, carefully flip, and repeat.  Bake for 10 minutes.   Serve hot with curry sauce and several slices of candied eggplant, garnished with candied or toasted walnuts.

Aerial View

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No-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Smoked Almonds

Yield: 4 servings

I have created quite a few no-chicken salad recipes from seitan, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein.  (To find them, just search “chicken salad” here on The Blooming Platter or consult the index of TBP cookbook.)

This tempeh version, made with two of the glories of summer–tomatoes and basil–is made even more addicting with the addition of smoky and crunchy almonds plus a little celery.

There is something about the saltiness of the almonds playing off the sweetness of the tomatoes with a hint of that herby freshness from the basil that is utter perfection.  Every rendition I create becomes my new favorite so, for now, this no-chicken salad is my “favorite.”  I think it is destined to become a classic and hope you agree!

(I am participating in Virtual Vegan “Linky” Potluck  with this recipe.  Follow the link to discover other tasty potluck contributions.)

 

1-8 ounce package tempeh, cut into 8 pieces, lightly oiled and salted,  baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and slightly cooled

1/2 cup smoked almonds

4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped basil or chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice very thinly)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Crumble tempeh into a medium bowl.  Process smoked almonds and celery until finely chopped and add to tempeh along with remaining ingredients.  Toss all together and refrigerate to allow salad to chill and flavors to marry. Serve as you would any such salad, though I like it especially well scooped up with veggie chips.

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