Vegan Mini-Tater Tot Waffles
with Savory or Sweet Tot Toppings

Yield: 4 mini-waffles (recipe easily multplies)

[At bottom, I include instructions for one large waffle.]

Last week, eyes wide, a colleague brought down to my classroom a culinary magazine featuring a San Francisco restaurant specializing in Tater Tot Waffles.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Basially, anything is better atop a Tot it seems, so while this chef’s toppers tended to be fish-and meat-centric, I figured a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside potato base would be irresistable with anything–or nothing–on top.  And I was right.

I looked up a recipe pretty sure that Tater Tot Waffles are a thing–and they are–and followed it to the letter using Alexia’s Potato Puffs with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper.  I have nothing against good ‘ole Ore-Ida, but I found myself at Whole Foods, and Alexia’s the brand they stock.  But it took almost one bag–or 5ish servings–to make one waffle, which Bob and I split 3/4 to 1/4, and that’s a bit too much of a good thing.

So, tonight, with him out to dinner with his brother and me craving more of this crisp-and-slightly-greasy goodness, but not very hungry, I wondered if I could make Mini-Tater Tot Waffles.  Indeed!  They cook up brilliantly, are easier to remove from the waffle iron, and lend themselves to party fare or to the tapas-style meals I prefer.  Plus, just last night I had sent out invitations to the Starlight Supper Club gathering that Bob and I are hosting on March 4 and included Mini-Thai Tater Tots, so I figured I better make certain the concept actually worked.

Boy does it!  Having gone out for Ethiopian food on Saturday night and brought home leftovers, I decided to top mine with a tiny spoonful of the collard greens and a little piece of cooked tomato with a dab of vegan mayo for color and creamy contrast.  Wow!  But top them with anything you choose, savory or sweet..

Mini-Tater Tot Waffles

16 tater tots (I used Alexia brand Potato Puffs with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper)

Nonstick cooking spray

Savory or sweet toppings of choice (vegan greens, cheeses, spreads, salsas, tapenades, syrups, citrus curds, nuts, etc.)

Spray electric waffle iron with nonstick spray and preheat.  Meanwhile, place tater tots in a bowl and place in microwave on full power for a minute to two to thaw.  Place 4 tater tots, 2 sides of each one touching, in 1 layer of each quadrant of the waffle maker.  Close lid, gently press, and cook for about 5 minutes or until crispy and golden.  Carefully remove each waffle to a serving platter or plates, top as desired, and serve immediately.

Note: to make one large waffle, follow directions above except thaw about 4 to 5 servings of Tater Tots and use them to completely cover the surface of the waffle iron.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes.  You can check after about 5 minutes and fill in any holes with additional thawed tater tots if desired.

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Quick Vegan Chilaquiles–A Mexican Restaurant Leftovers Redux

Quick ChilaquilesYield: 2 servings

Joe and I go out for Mexican food at least once a week–alternating between two neighborhood restaurants– and, last night, we both ordered something different than we normally do.  He, an omnivore, ordered chilaquiles and I ordered what I didn’t realize was vegan fajitas, as it was called something like “Vegetarian E,” with a side of refried beans.  Had I realized, I would have known it would be way too much food, though I never mind tasty leftovers.

I topped my beans with a few of the griddled veggies–onions, red and green peppers, and mushrooms–including some of those nice deeply caramelized bits, and enjoyed them with a side of tortilla chips (too many!) and fresh, zesty pico de gallo.  I felt completely sated, yet there was a heaping mound of the vegetables still left and three tortillas rolled up in foil.  So, we packed it all up and brought it home.

Having considered lots of options for those vegetables–some I hope to try in the future–I ultimately decided on my own version of chilaquiles for lunch today.  I sliced the tortillas, pan sauteed them in a little oil, crumbled in some tofu and spices which I sauteed until the tofu began to turn the barest hint of golden brown, added the veggies with a little salsa and nutritional yeast, and sauteed the whole mixture until heated through.

I hope you find this quick Mexican melange as addicting as I did topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a slice of marinated cucumber.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3-8 inch flour tortillas, stacked, rolled, and cut into 1/2-inch clices

Sea salt

7 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed gently with paper towel (half of a 14 ounce box)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 cups sauteed and slightly caramelized fajita veggies (sliced onion, red and green bell peppers, and mushrooms)

2 tablespoons prepared salsa (I used a pineapple variety)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Garnish(es): vegan sour cream, sprigs of fresh cilantro, slices of cucumber or lime, and lightly salted and roasted papitas (pumpkin seeds)

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add tortillas and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring constantly, until beginning to turn crisp. Crumble in tofu, sprinkle with cumin and smoked paprika, and saute, stirring, for a couple of minutes or until tofu becomes a little drier and begins to turn a light golden brown.  Scrape up any bits of tortilla or tofu that begins to stick on the bottom of the skillet and turn brown, as they add great flavor.  Add the vegetables, salsa, and nutritional yeast, and continue sauteing, stirring, and scraping, until heated through, only a couple more minutes.  Serve immediately garnished as desired.

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Countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015: Day 5–Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes

I thought that breakfast for your Valentine would be the perfect note on which to wrap up my Countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015.

And for that, nothing beats my Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes for real Red Velvet Cake flavor–not just color!–texture, and spectacular presentation.

If you would like a little savory side for your plate ‘o cakes, you will love my vegan sausage “Heart Tarts”: simply beautiful heart-shaped puff pastry tarts with a vegan “sausage”  and bell pepper filling.

Stay tuned, for tomorrow I offer a breakfast bonus…just have some flavored tea bags, cocoa powder and soymilk on hand…

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Vegan Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fritter-Cakes

Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fritter Cakes--with ForkThese savory fritter-cake hybrids are made from a trifecta of favorite, healthful, colorful and plentiful ingredients: chopped fresh kale, shredded sweet potato, and black beans.  Green onion adds a fresh, pungent, herb-y kick.

A food processor made short order of  finely chopping the kale and, with a quick blade switch-out, creating beautiful, consistent shreds of sweet potatoes and no scraped knuckles.  For efficiency, I used canned black beans, rinsed and well-drained, mashing about half of them with a potato masher to help the fritter-cakes hold together without  a lot of additional ingredients.  However, I did use a little flour and soymilk (use the nondairy milk of your choice) plus some baking powder and soda for a hint of lift, but not enough to create a “batter.”  The finished consistency of these is somewhat similar to a latke with a bit more body.

For spices, black beans would suggest Mexican or southwestern flavor notes.  But, for some reason, I wanted to nudge these fritter-cakes in a slightly Middle Eastern direction.  So I did invite cumin, coriander and lime zest to the party, but also smoked paprika and sumac which lends a lovely earthy lemony profile.  It is widely sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, just order it online or leave it out.  However, it has been one of my favorite kitchen companions of the last few years.

For cooking, I tried both oil and nonstick spray and found that the calories in the oil were worth achieving a crispier crust, but see what you think.

I love a savory and ever-so-slightly sweet balance, so for a topping, I whisked a little lime juice and tamarind syrup into vegan sour cream.  Tamarind syrup lends a heavenly, subtle and distinctively Middle Eastern floral note tempered by the sweetly acidic lime juice.  Again, the syrup is sold at Middle Eastern grocery stores and online.  But you could substitute pomegranate syrup which is fruity without being floral or just leave out all together and go with a citrus sour cream which would be delicious too.

A little spoonful of the sauce, a thin slice of lime, a few pine nuts and a sprinkling of smoked paprika created a beautiful presentation of these delectable disks, perfect for breakfast brunch, lunch or even dinner, perhaps with a side salad.

3 cups shredded sweet potatoes (slightly over a half-pound potato)

4 cups coarsely chopped or torn kale, finely chopped (I used a food processor)

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and well-drained; half of beans mashed with potato masher

6 green onions, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste + a small amount more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1/2 cup soymilk (or an nondairy milk)

Tamarind-Lime Cream (recipe follows)

Garnishes (optional): thin slices of fresh lime, a few pine nuts, dusting of smoked paprika

 

Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fritter Cakes--Uncooked
Mixture Before Frying

Line a baking sheet with paper towel and set aside.  Set oven to lowest temperature.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together with your hands sweet potato, kale, green onions, and unmashed sweet potatoes.  In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed beans, flour, baking powder, baking soda, all spices, including salt and pepper, and soymilk.  Spoon in roughly even dollops over vegetable-bean mixture and combine well with a fork.  The mixture will be very textured and moist, mounding nicely, but will not form a batter.

Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil (or a combination of vegetable and olive oil) in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Divide mixture into 1/12ths and, using a spoon or scoop, place 4 evenly-spaced mound into the sizzling oil pressing to about 1/2-inch thick with a metal spatula.  Cook for about 2 minutes, flip and cook 2 more minutes, lowering temperature if necessary to prevent scorching.  They will turn a rich nutty brown (as opposed to a light golden brown).  Remove fritter-cakes and drain on prepared baking sheet, sprinkling each with a few granules of sea salt.  Keep warm in oven.  Repeat twice more with remaining mixture.  Serve immediately topped with Tamarind-Lime Cream and garnished as desired.

 

Tamarind-Lime Cream

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

1 teaspoon tamarind syrup (or pomegranate syrup)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Sea salt to taste

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Savory Summer Tarts with Swiss Chard, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes and Walnuts

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 its best and brightest!

And it has been so popular, I thought 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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World’s Easiest Vegan Kale “Kakes”

DSCN2334Yield: 12-2.5-inch cakes

(4 servings)

A recipe prepared by Giadia De Laurentiis on her “Giada at Home” Food Network program inspired this recipe: waffles with pancetta (ick!) and cinnamon.  The inspiration was certainly not pork(!); rather it was the combination of sweet and savory.

Since it was New Year’s Day, I was wanting “good luck” foods, and I had already enjoyed griddled tempeh with maple syrup and vegan Hoppin’ John for breakfast at the Sanderling Inn.  So, I was craving greens for dinner. And these “kakes” took the cake!

I enjoyed mine without any spices, but feel free to kick them up with curry powder or whatever your imagination seizes on.

1 cup all purpose or white whole wheat flour (I use the latter)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup unsweetened soymilk + 2 to 4 tablespoons, if necessary

1/4 cup vegan butter, melted in skillet

3 cups very finely chopped kale (I use a food processor for this task, processing the kale in two batches.)

Filling, topping, and garnish of your choice (I like vegan sour cream, cashew cream or a jam/chutney for the filling, maple syrup over the top, and a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts, but the sky’s the limit!)

Place all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the center, add 1 cup soymilk and the melted butter, and whisk just until combined.  Stir in kale–it will look like way too much–and add additional soymilk to create a thick spoonable batter.

Lightly spray skillet in which butter was melted with nonstick spray and spoon batter into 4-2.5-inch circles, lightly smoothing top if necessary.  Cook a couple of minutes or until lightly browned, flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 2 or so minutes on reverse.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with sour cream, cashew cream, chutney, etc., a generous drizzle of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts.

New Years 2014, Duck, NC

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“Righteous” Vegan Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup

“Your peanut butter-apple pancakes were righteous!”

So proclaimed Gary Loewenthal of Compassion for Animals and Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in an email last week.

He then explained that he had been invited to give a vegan cooking demo and talk at a health food store near him and asked if he could prepare my recipe and print it for the attendees, with a credit and link to The Blooming Platter.

That required no thought at all, only a resounding “Of course!” especially when he said, “One thing I loved about the pancakes is that the PB was not overpowering. I love PB but it blended beautifully.”

I haven’t made my Vegan Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup in a while, but he reminded me how good they are; and, with local apples cropping up this autumn in farmers markets everywhere, I thought I should post a link.

What a great way to celebrate the first weekend of fall.  Thanks, Gary!

 

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Vegan Fresh Fig Upside Down Pancakes

Fig Upside Down PancakesYield: 8 servings (16 small pancakes)

The other morning, for some reason, I was thinking about pineapple upside down cake and how nicely that translates into pancakes.  Suddenly, I had to have pancakes, though I am not much of a breakfast eater, unless I have breakfast for lunch.  I didn’t have pineapple, but I did have fresh figs and Vegan Fresh Fig Upside Down Pancakes were born!

The ground sumac– a beautiful earthy red powder derived from a berry of the sumac bush–is used in Middle Eastern and Greek cooking.  Since I think of figs in relation to Middle Eastern cuisine, and since I thought that the earthy lemony flavor of the sumac would complement the sweetness of the figs, I chose to add a little to the batter.   It‘s not absolutely essential, but it is delicate, delicious, and adds such a special quality.  Find sumac in Middle Eastern grocery stores and online.

Sage, too, is used widely in Middle Eastern and Greek cooking and I happen to have quite an abundant crop of it this year.  So I decided to garnish the pancakes with some of their most small and tender leaves to add a subtle sage-y flavor.  Eaten together, the trio is transcendent!

2 cups white whole wheat flour (this is what I keep on hand, but unbleached all purpose is fine, as is a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat)

1/4 cup natural sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Optional, but delicious: 1/2 teaspoon sumac

2  cups plain soymilk (I used lite, as that’s what I had)

Nonstick spray or canola oil

8 fresh figs, stemmed, halved and sprayed with nonstick spray or brushed with oil

Accompaniments: agave nectar and a sprig of small tender fresh sage leaves (yes, sage!–sounds a little odd, but is delicious with the figs!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients, make a well in the center, add soymilk, and whisk ingredients together until smooth.  Heat a large well-oiled skillet over medium high and make pancakes, 3 or 4 at a time, using 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter (they should be about 3 inches in diameter).  Cook for about a minute, lay a fig half, flesh side up, in the center of each pancake, pressing very gently.  You don’t want to submerge or for the batter to hide the fig when you flip it.  Cook for another minute or two or until golden brown on the other side, carefully flip, and cook until set, another couple of minutes or so.  Repeat with remaining batter, keeping pancakes warm while you cook the entire batch.  Serve pancakes, fig side up, with a drizzle of agave nectar and a sprig of fresh sage.  Note:  if a very thin layer of the batter has eased over the edge of the fig, just pinch it off to reveal the perfect shape of the fig.

 

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Single Serving Vegan Granola Pancakes with Sour Cream, Maple Syrup and Fresh Fruit (Recipe Easily Multiplies)

Granola Pancakes

Yield: 1 serving (2 small pancakes) [recipe easily multiplies]

These golden disks of textured bliss would be perfect for any Father’s Special Day.  Go Dairy Free kindly published my recipe for all to enjoy.  Just click HERE.  And if you’re interested in the back story, read on!

When I first met my dear friend, Yvette Hetrick, a foodie and entertainer extraordinaire, many years ago, she rhapsodized about granola pancakes that she and her husband, Randy, would devour for weekend brunches in, I think it was, San Diego. when they were dating.

She has a memorable way of describing food and I was sold from her first mention.  I have even tried to reproduce them before with no luck.

But, for some reason, I was craving them recently, my husband–who has cleaned up his eating act somewhat–had some Bare Naked Granola in the pantry, and I had some local Pungo strawberries fresh from the farmer’s market in the fridge.

My husband, a creature of habit and routine, is on an oatmeal kick as part of his new approach to eating.  So I knew he wouldn’t want any pancakes, no matter how irresisistable to the rest of us.  There was only one thing to do:  create a recipe for a single serving that could be easily multiplied to serve a family or a crowd.  And I’m so glad I did!

My fairly thick batter is the perfect consistency to support the granola.  Be sure to serve them granola-side up so folks will know these are no ordinary pancakes even before the first bite!

Happy Father’s Day!

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