Happy Cow Features a New Blooming Platter Recipe for Meatless Mondays: Vegan Southern Style Cashew Cheese Grits with Kicked-Up Kale

Yes, I know, it’s not Monday.  So sorry.  Eric Brent and the good folks at Happy Cow published my recipe for Vegan Southern Style Cashew Cheese Grits with Kicked-Up Kale  this past Monday, but we are dealing with dog drama, so I hope you’ll forgive my tardiness.

Our 14 year old Auzzie Shepherd broke her toe and, though it’s a long story, suffice it to say that our lives have been disrupted in the extreme.  We live in a sea of baby gates, a huge crate, new runners on our tile and hardwood floors so that she can stay upright, and an inflatable bed in front of our fireplace (the one up-side) so that I can sleep downstairs with her.  My poor back couldn’t take sleeping on the floor another night AND carrying her almost 60 pounds self up and down, 5 stairs to do her business (our house is on pilings and there is no way in or out without negotiating stairs).

But I digress.  I hope you’ll follow this link to access the recipe and that you’ll enjoy my cheese grits-and-greens any day of the week!

While you’re at the Happy Cow, I encourage you to spend some time; it’s a terrific site.

Thanks Happy Cow!

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Our Blooming Thanksgiving Platter–Third Up: Barley with Butterut Squash and Baby Bellas

For this addition to our five-star Thanksgiving feast, I turned to star chef, Emeril Legasse. 

In a recent culinary magazine, his recipe for a barley, mushroom, and squash risotto made in a slow cooker really appealed to me.  I gave my slow cooker away age ago–I just don’t enjoy cooking that way–but I loved his concept.  So I simply made some quick-cooking barley and folded in cubed and sauteed butternut squash and baby bellas whose flavor I deepened with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.  It was a hit and it made a ton, so I plan to add broth and make soup with the leftovers.  

Minced rosemary would be a nice addition, but I was flavoring the gravy with rosemary, so I didn’t include and it is still super tasty.   Similarly, since our dressing included sauteed onion, I didn’t add, but sauteed onion and garlic would be nice, though my stripped down version was delicious and satisfying.

Yield: 16 servings (when served with a couple of other side dishes and a main dish)

4 cups vegetable broth or stock

Pinch sea salt

2 cups quick cooking barley

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 butternut squash about 8 inches long, seeds, membrane, and peel removed; cut ino 1/2 inch pieces

Pinch of sea salt

1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (I purchased them pre-sliced from Trader Joe’s)

Approximately 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the broth or stock and a pinch of salt to a simmer.  Stir in the quick cooking barley, and simmer, loosely covered, about 12 minutes or until tender and water is evaporated.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add squash and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until tender and just beginning to develop some color.  Lower heat if necessary to prevent from sticking.  Add mushrooms and continue sauteeing and stirring for about 3 minutes or until tender.  Turn off heat and stir in nutritional yeast.  Spoon cooked barley into a large bowl, add vegetables, and gently stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.  If you make the dish well in advance of serving, spoon it into an oiled heat-proof serving dish, cool, cover, and refrigerate until about an hour and a half before serving time. Remove the dish from the refrigerator about an hour before serving.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat barley mixture, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until lheated through.  Serve immediately.

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Vegan Quinoa Pancakes

Yield: 8 small pancakes

Inspired by my Vegan Silver Dollar Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Jelly Pancakes made earlier in the week, I decided to try a different grain and I’m glad I did!

This time I used everyone’s favorite (cooked) grain: Quinoa!

I cooked the quinoa in the microwave, according to the directions on the box, because I was starving and didn’t want to wait longer than I had to.  As Goldilocks would say, the results were “just right.”

The topping you see in the photograph I made from fresh plums and, while it was good, it wasn’t perfect enough for Blooming Platterists.  So, I’m going to work on it a bit more before I post that recipe.  I also dabbed on a little vegan sour cream and garnished the cakes with pineapple sage from my garden.  If your garden center carries this herb, I highly recommend it.  It makes a large shrub with beautiful red blooms and, where we live, it is a perennial, or at least it was from last summer to this.

Enjoy these quinoa-cakes with whatever your favorite topping happens to be, even savory.

For this recipe, as with the peanut butter-oatmeal cakes, I used a bit more baking powder and baking soda than I usually do for extra lift to counteract what could have been a little heaviness from the grains.  The result is light, but still toothsome.

1/2 cup spelt or whole wheat flour (I am a devout fan of spelt flour)

1/2 cup self-rising flour

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

3 tablespoons natural sugar (use just a pinch if making savory cakes)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Optional if making savory cakes: a generous pinch of garlic powder or more to taste

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain or vanilla would also be good–regular or lite)

Vegan butter and canola oil for frying (I like Earth Balance butter)

Accompaniments:  Jelly, jam, or a savory chutney, and optional vegan sour cream

Garnishes: sprigs of herbs (I like pineapple sage)

Preheat the oven to warm. Make pancakes:  in a medium mixing bowl, place both flours, sugar if using, baking powder, and baking soda.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the soymilk mixture. Whisk together until well combined.  Whisk in the cooked quinoa.  In a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter, oil or a combination. (I like a combination: the oil reduces the chances of burning while the butter contributes flavor.) Using about 3 tablespoons of batter, make pancakes, about four at a time. Cook two-three minutes on the first side until you get a nice rise, a few bubbles appear, and the edges appear set. Gently flip and cook another couple of minutes on the reverse. Add butter and/or oil to keep the skillet greased as needed. If pancakes are cooking too quickly, lower the heat to medium, especially for the second side. When cooked through, remove pancakes to plates or a platter, keep warm, and repeat with remaining butter or oil and pancake batter.  Serve each pancake topped with jelly, jam or chutney, optional vegan sour cream (I highly recommend), and a sprig of fresh herbs.

You’ll find other delicious summer pancakes in The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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Vegan Parsnip, Kasha, and Spinach Fritters with Indian Cilantro or Mint Chutney

These uniquely delicious fritters proved worthy of a very special celebration.

Monday night, ten of my beloved Advanced and Advanced Placement (AP) art students gathered for an end-of-year celebratory dinner at my home.

For several years, I have marked the conclusion of each academic year for these classes with an in-school soy yogurt parfait breakfast.  This year, though, in light of the publication of my Blooming Platter Cookbook, they requested a vegan dinner party, and I was more than happy to oblige.

For starters, I served these Parsnip, Kasha and Spinach Fritters which received “extra credit” from my discriminating students.  Also on the menu were:

Indian Spiced Lentil Sloppy Joe’s (I altered Food Network’s Aarti Sequeira’s Bombay Sloppy Joe recipe quite a bit, substituting steamed lentils for turkey and spicing them up a bit more; I will post when I’ve made the recipe again, and actually written down the ingredients);

Oven-Baked Three-Spice Sweet Potato Fries;

A barley, cous-cous and kasha salad featuring finely diced cucumber, red onion, basil, and lightly sauteed homegrown yellow squash-from one of my student’s garden;

and TFLC Cookies (Tea-Infused Five-Spice Lime & Chocolate Cookies)–stay tuned for this slightly exotic, but simple recipe.

Over dessert, I gave out my annual certificates to the AP students.  Each one is specially illustrated and worded to reflect his or her Concentration theme and unique approach to the exploration of that theme.  This year, I also gave out gifts that the students had made each other as a last “Creative Challenge.”  After drawing a classmate’s name out of a basket, each student was tasked with creating a portrait of that person, i.e. a physical likeness done in the student artist’s own trademark style.  Everyone loved their portraits and, as one student said, couldn’t stop looking at herself!  At their request, we had an impromptu mini-critique of the artwork around the dining table; the best dinner conversation!  The pieces–not to mention the students–are priceless, as you will see (I’ll post a photo soon).

They all agreed that this event should be an annual occurrence, and I concur!

To earn your own high marks for these teen- and teacher-approved fritters, here is the simple recipe:

Vegan Parsnip, Kasha, and Spinach Fritters

Yield: 36

1 cup cooked and cooled Kasha (prepared according to package directions)

1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled parsnip and onion puree (see below)

2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped coarse-fine in the food processor

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch chipotle chili powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Accompaniment: prepared cilantro and/or mint chutney (I purchase jars of these chutneys in a local Indian market, but any savory chutney with a contrasting color would be delicious and pretty)

Garnish: very thin slices or miniature “spears” of green onion and tiny leaves from a compatible herb (I used Thai basil buds)

Serving suggestion: place each fritter on a fresh baby spinach leaf

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat about 1/2-inch canola oil until a drop of water splattered on top sizzles.  Fry generous tablespoons of the mixture (I use a small scoop with a lever), about 9 at a time, for two minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Turn with a metal spatula.  They may feel slightly stuck on the bottom, but they will loosen easily.  Drain on paper towels, keep warm in a low oven, and serve warm or at room temperature accompanied and garnished as desired.  The fritters may be made ahead, drained, cooled, covered and reheated, uncovered, for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Parsnip Puree:

3 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced cross-wise into 3/4-inch thick rings

1 small yellow onion, halved, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

2-3 cups unsweetened soymilk

Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place parsnips and onion slices in a large cast-iron skillet.  Pour soymilk over almost to cover.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely, and simmer over medium-high heat until parsnips are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Avoid letting all of moisture evaporate.  Scrape mixture, including any remaining milk (don’t worry if top surface looks a little “scummy”), into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, until almost smooth.

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Vegan Late Spring Thai Quinoa Salad

This salad began its life Friday night as my intended contribution to a pre-Memorial Day block party on Saturday to which my good friend, Sharon Clohessy, invited me.   However, I ended up needing to work yesterday, which required an hour drive each way to and from Newport News.  A little weary of sitting in the car, I ended up deciding not to drive another half hour through resort strip traffic to get to the residential  “North End” of our beach where Sharon lives.

Friday night when I went to bed, the salad was a little lacking, but with the addition of Thai basil,  super sweet and juicy-firm grape tomatoes, and a little more lime juice, it turned out just right.  If you wanted to kick it up just a smidge, a tiny bit of seeded and minced hot pepper would do the trick.

The “Late Spring” of the title refers to fresh ingredients that span the cusp of spring and summer in Hampton Roads where we live.  (In our area, cilantro burns out once summer is in full swing.)  But please enjoy this burst of brightness whenever these ingredients are at their peak in your area.  I think this dish is best if allowed to chill several hours before serving.

I would have loved to have shared at the block party what turned out to be an utterly delicious and refreshing combination of some of my favorite flavors and crunchy-chewy textures.  However, friends invited me to the beach this afternoon, so I think I’ll take them a healthy portion.

But, while I’m enjoying delicious food with friends in an idyllic setting, I will be thinking with gratitude of those, past and present, whose sacrifices made this lifestyle possible.

Have a relaxing and reflective Memorial Day.


2 cups water or vegetable stock

1 cup quinoa

Sea salt

2 cups fresh baby spinach, packed medium-firm, coarsely chopped

1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large spring onion, thinly sliced (approximately 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts, chopped coarse-fine

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped coarse-fine

1/4 cup loosely packed thai basil leaves (about 16 leaves), chiffonade (leaves stacked, tightly rolled, and very thinly sliced


1 tablespoon canola oil, sesame oil, or 1 1/2 teaspoon of each

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or to taste–I like a fairly pronounced lime flavor)

1 tablespoon agave nectar or natural sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water or stock to a simmer.  Add quinoa and a pinch of salt, stir, cover loosely, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the water has mostly evaporated; quinoa will be tender and slightly.   Alternatively, cook, covered, in the microwave on high power for 4 minutes, stir, and then repeat for two additional 2-minute intervals.

Empty the cooked quinoa into a non-reactive bowl or container with a lid.  When quinoa is no longer steaming, but is still quite warm, add remaining salad ingredients and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over salad ingredients, and toss gently to coat.  Adjust salt and pepper if necessary.  Refrigerate several hours or over night for best flavor.

Note: though this recipe is too new to be in The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, which was just published, it does include more than 150 similarly fresh and flavorful ones that  you’re sure to love.

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Vegan Quinoa Pilaf with Leeks, Edamame, Red Chard and Mushrooms

Yield: 8 servings

Today, our friends Diane O’Neal (who is also our top-notch dance teacher) and her partner Steven Taylor, invited us to his parents’ charming cottage near the beach for a lovely Easter feast with friends and family. It seems that around every corner in their eclectic art- and flower-filled home were beautiful vignettes of good wines and delectable food. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for such an occasion–sunny and warm–with company and conversation to match the gorgeous food and setting.

For my contribution, I set out to make a quinoa and red lentil pilaf using a recipe that I wanted to adapt. But I overcooked the lentils, which turned out to be a happy accident because I turned them into a Vegan Red Lentil and Pistachio Spread. I also didn’t have enough quinoa, so I mixed it with an equal amount of millet. Another happy “misfortune.” In the fridge, I had some leeks that I substituted for the onion and ravishing red chard that I subbed for regular chard. Since I couldn’t use the lentils, I needed another legume and decided on edamame, which I didn’t have, but I needed to run to the grocery store to purchase the mushrooms anyway. I do believe that the combination was spot-on in terms of texture, taste and color. A sprinkling of nutritional yeast deepened the flavors in just the right way and a garnish of pea sprouts and lemon zest finished off this hearty and savory, but springy, dish.

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Wheat Berry, Caramelized Onion, Dried Cranberry and Hazelnut Salad

Yield: approximately 4 cups or 8 servings

I am addicted to a wheat berry salad I discovered recently on the deli bar at our local Farm Fresh grocery store. I nabbed some one day when I had neglected to take my lunch to school. For some reason, I love to scoop it up with All Bran crackers. (Have you tried them yet? Mmm…)

Each time I purchase the salad for my lunch, I try to analyze what’s in it which is no small feat considering I’m usually wolfing it down. Finally, this weekend, I set about to recreate it. My recipe comes very close, except for the addition of hazelnuts which seemed like the perfect finishing touch to me. Besides tasting so good, making my own salad saves drive-time and money, though I suspect I have not had my last taste of the inspiration dish.

The only downside to wheat berries is the long hands-free cooking time, but you definitely don’t want to serve them undercooked, though they will be chewy regardless. And this salad is so worth any extra effort. Therefore, the day before you plan to serve it, start the berries soaking in 2 cups of water. Twelve hours later, they will be softened and ready for cooking.

1 1/4 cups wheat berries
2 generous cups water

Soak berries in water for 12 hours, drain, and proceed with recipe.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, very finely diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, very finely diced
generous 3 cups of vegetable stock
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider, fig or red wine vinegar (I used fig because I had some on hand)
zest of 1/4-1/2 of a large orange (you just want a barely perceptible hint of orange)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (dry toast in a skillet over medium-high heat for a very few minutes, just until lightly toasted)
approximately 1 tablespoon or so of snipped fresh chives

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat oil to shimmering. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently until they just start to turn golden. Add celery and red pepper and continue sauteing and stirring frequently until it softens. (Note: you may alternatively add uncooked red pepper at the end; the crunch and brighter red color is a nice contract with the other ingredients.) Stir in soaked and drained wheat berries. Add stock, stir well and cover with a lid or foil and simmer, lowering heat to medium if necessary, until tender and liquid is absorbed, probably about an hour, but start checking at 45 minutes. Add warm stock or water if liquid evaporates before berries are tender. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Stir in dried cranberries and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix together olive oil, vinegar and zest, pour over berry mixture and toss gently to coat. When mixture cools to room temperature, stir in hazelnuts, chives, and red bell pepper if you chose not to add it with celery. Adjust seasoning if necessary. This salad is best served at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

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Vegan Quinoa, Corn, Peach and Boiled Peanut Salad with Sweet Tea Dressing

Yield: 4-6 servings

Salads don’t get any more southern or more tasty than this one, not to mention beautiful and nutritious. Do yourself a favor and the salad justice by using only farm-fresh produce because the taste of the salad is largely dependent on that of the corn and peaches. If boiled peanuts sound odd in a salad, you’ll be so surprised. Their mouth feel is similar to beans, but their flavor is distinctive and delicious. I purchased mine at a farmer’s market, but they are sold in cans in the veggie sections of grocery stores. For a formal ‘south’ren touch, serve the salad in teacups like the one in the photo which I inherited from my late Nana. A sprig of mint or parsley completes the pretty picture.





For this recipe and some 170+ more,

I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:

A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press

Spring 2011

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