Sichuan Black Eyed Pea Soup with Hot Chili Oil (vegan & plant-based)

It is fair to say I am obsessed with the Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil at Judy’s Sichuan, a great local restaurant. But with its big cubes of deep fried tofu, it is a fairly high calorie dish. So I have created a profusion of ways to incorporate the flavor profile into healthier dishes, including popcorn and even popcorn salad, a whole grain-based salad like no other.

I created this warming and pleasantly *lip numbing soup so that we could enjoy our black eyed peas on New Years Day with punched-up flavor. Though Bob and I have been very fortunate during the Covid19 pandemic, I felt I should enjoy a bowl of this good luck omen on behalf of this beleaguered world.

While I made the soup for the holiday, please enjoy it any day for any reason. These humble black eyed peas are remarkably tasty with their unexpected twist.

*Sichuan peppercorns, not peppers at all, possess a numbing property that is not due to heat and, in fact, enhances other flavors.

Sichuan Black Eyed Pea Soup
Yield: 4 servings

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns (I purchase at Asian grocery)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal
1 to 2 tablespoons Chinese hot chili oil or fried chili crisp (I purchase the latter at Kroger on International aisle and use as is or make my chili oil from it)
2 cups fresh black eyed peas (you may substitute canned, rinsed and drained, or cooked dry peas)
1-15 ounce can lite coconut milk and 1/2 can warm water
Optional Garnishes: scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal, lightly roasted and salted peanuts, star anise

Cover bottom of soup pot with water, add sesame oil, and place over medium heat to bring to simmer. Add onion and bell peppers, sprinkle with salt and ground Sichuan peppercorns, and simmer, stirring frequently, until tender. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavours have married, peas are very tender, and soup is heated through, approximately 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste and add more water if needed. If desired, puree 2 cups of soup and pour back in, stirring to distribute. The soup will be less colorful, but creamier; I enjoy it both ways. Serve in mugs or bowls garnished as desired.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedSichuan #veganSichuan #veganblackeyedpeas #plantbasedblackeyedpeas #veganblackeyedpeasoup #plantbasedblackeyedpeasoup
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Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/ Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based]

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

These buttery cookies are so pure and simple, the perfect hybrid of crisp and tender.

Wherever we were for Christmas as a family of four–our home in Richardson, TX, our maternal grandmother’s in Dallas, or Mam-ma’s and Pap-pa’s in Houston–Mam’ma always made sure these and three other kinds of cookies, perennially the same, were there too, packed in wax paper-lined metal holiday tins.

The crackley paper, the aroma of sweet butter, vanilla, and almond–none of her cookies were spiced–and the shapes: slices, balls, Santas, reindeer, stars, bells, Christmas trees, and more, are the embodiment of Christmas for me.

Though Mam-ma probably creamed the butter by hand, I use my Kitchen Aid mixer, except when including my addition of nuts and dried fruit. Then I use a food processor as it does the chopping for you. But feel free to chop the ingredients and fold them into the dough made by hand or with a mixer.

Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based)

1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Optional:
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Place all ingredients, including optional nuts and fried fruit, in a large food processor. Pulse until well combined and dough comes together in a ball. Divide dough in half, roll each into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. With a thin sharp knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4″ thick slices, and place about 1-inch apart on prepared sheets, as they won’t spread much at all. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #Veganchristmascookies #plantbasedchristmascookies

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Eggnog French Toast–So Quick & Easy (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

A holiday gift of a homemade sourdough loaf on the counter, So Delicious Dairy Free Nog in the fridge, and chickpea flour in the freezer inspired this divine and ready-in-a-flash Eggnog French Toast.

And because I am on winter break from school, I just might have made a warm topping with a 2 to 1 ratio of maple syrup and Bailey’s vegan Almande.

For each serving:

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1/4 cup So Delicious or Silk dairy-free nog

1-1 inch slice sourdough bread, preferably homemade or artisanal

Almande-Maple Syrup (recipe follows) or maple syrup

Optional: chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar

Whisk together chickpea flour and nog in a small bowl. Place bread in bowl and press down on one side, flip over and repeat. Allow to soak for as much time as you have up to 20 or so minutes. Even 5 or 10 will be delicious. Flip bread once or twice while it soaks. Then, either melt a tablespoon of vegan butter in a large skillet or simply spray skillet with nonstick spray as I did and place over medium low heat. Remove bread from nog mixture, lay in skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and custard is set. Serve topped with the syrup of your choice plus optional chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Almande-Maple Syrup Optional:

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Bailey’s Almande

Whisk very well, as Almande wants to float on top, and heat in microwave for 10 or so seconds. Careful or it will boil over.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedeggnogfrenchtoast #veganeggnogfrenchtoast #plantbasedfrenchtoast #veganfrenchtoast

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Vegan Stuffed Southwestern Acorn Squash

This was my delicious, lo-cal dinner on a recent autumn evening.

No real recipe, but one big secret: while my acorn squash roasted, I cooked a few french lentils and mixed them with sauteed onions, carrots, and, wait for it… shredded cabbage(!), all seasoned up with cumin, smoked paprika, and sea salt. Yummm!!!!!

Lentils are somewhat high in calories because they are nutrient dense, so I added additional bulk, nutrition, fiber, texture, and flavor with almost no-calorie cabbage.

I topped the beautiful little mound with pico de gallo and a dab of vegan sour cream. What a beautiful meal enjoyed on the deck in this cool weather with a glass of even cooler Prosecco.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfood #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfood #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn

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Best and Easiest Vegan Roll-and-Cut Gingerbread Cookies

You will love this no-fail, no-egg recipe that I have had since I was an adolescent growing up in a small town in south-central Mississippi.  There, Quinn’s, the local pharmacy, was virtually the only place to purchase cosmetics. Just beginning to experiment with make-up, one year, I was seduced around the holidays  by “gingerbread” flavored lip gloss which was sold complete with a gingerbread cookie recipe printed on an accompanying card.

I first made them for one of the attorneys with whom my mother worked.  He loved them and, thereafter they became known as “John’s Gingerbread Cookies.”  I made them frequently but I haven’t made them for a long time.  However, this holiday season I saw a mason jar filled with miniature gingerbread boy and girl cookies and tied with a bow.  I was smitten, yet I never had an opportunity to make them during the winter holiday season. But, with my partner Bob struggling with several weeks of pain from bulging disks in his neck, I decided he needed a treat so I made a half batch shaped as hearts.  He ate half of them in half a day.

The only ingredient that needed to be substituted to make the cookies vegan was butter. Thank goodness for Earth Balance.  The rest is a piece of cake, er, bite of cookie.  And your home will smell divine.

Best and Easiest Vegan Roll-and-Cut Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup softened vegan butter

1 cup sugar (I like to use demerara, available at Kroger)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger or ground ginger (I like the pungency and brightness of the fresh, but I purchase it in a jar for ease and convenience)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, which I found too strong)

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or, my favorite, Silpat (silicone baking mats).  In large bowl of electric mixer, cream together vegan butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy.  Beat in maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until completely combined.  Don’t worry if mixture looks slightly curdled.  Then, with mixer on low, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, just until incorporated and dough comes together.  Add water, a teaspoon at a time, if dough seems too dry.  Avoid over-mixing or cookies will be tough. Working with one-fourth of dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured board to a thickness somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4″.  Cut into desired shapes, place close together on prepared baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool slightly and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.

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Vegan Nutella and Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

I can’t see Santa’s Forest for these adorable trees.

Apparently they are all the rage this year, but I was evidently a little late to the pastry tree party.  Make yours with pizza dough or puff pastry and spread with the sweet or savory filling you most crave. Just be sure to include a creamy base to adhere the layers together.

My version is sweet–but not too–uses only three ingredients and, after the pastry thaws, is ready to devour in under 30 minutes.  I left a Middle Eastern dinner and this tree last night for our dog sitters (yes, we are those dog owners) while we joined friends for their Christmas Eve Eve tradition: a salad and sip of wine followed by a Christmas light-lit walk over to the Naro, an independent film house, to see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The twins left some of the tabouli salad but not a crumb of the pastry. It was a huge hit with these 19 year olds.

My take on this new classic was inspired by its key ingredient: Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Oraganic Dairy-Free Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread, generously sent to me for product review purposes. With a deeply nutty and chocolatey flavor–its richness undiluted by dairy–and a thick and creamy–but spreadable–texture, this product is tops in my pantry (it needs no refrigeration).  It is also gluten- and palm oil-free.

Recipe

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions

4.5 to 5 ounces vegan Hazelnut-Cocoa spread (1/2 jar Nocciolata)

1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On baking stone or parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, stack the two pastry sheets.  With a sharp knife, cut into a triangular tree shape with a 1-inch or so wide trunk at the bottom. Remove top sheet, spread bottom sheet with hazelnut-cocoa spread, replace top sheet, lining up edges, and press down gently.

Cut 1 star from scraps and whatever other shapes you like fir nibbling or to serve as croutons on salads. Place pastry shapes on a separate stone or lined baking sheet.

Make 3/4-inch wide horizontal cuts from outer edges of triangle toward the center, stopping even with outer edges of trunk leaving a 1-inch or so wide trunk up the center. Twist each long cut strip twice and the shorter ones once, pressing tips firmly against baking stone or sheet.  Brush very lightly with non-dairy milk, press star onto top point, and brush star with a tiny bit more non-dairy milk.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, but remove shapes cut from scraps after 10 or 15 minutes or they will burn. Remove baking sheet with pastry tree from oven, cool slightly, and slide tree onto serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Vegan Roasted Za’atar Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

If, like me, you find yourself in need of quick, no-fuss holiday gifts from your kitchen, you and your recipients will love my twist on a classic. The Middle Eastern flavor of za’atar curls up next to a hint of smoked paprika, garlic, and tamarind syrup for an intoxicating savory and slightly sweet flavor combination that is tantalizingly exotic, but not odd.

Za’atar is an aromatic Middle Eastern herb blend of earthy-lemony sumac, oregano, thyme, savory, and sesame seeds.

Package these seeds in pretty canisters or jars…or enjoy them warm right off the baking sheet.

Note: adjust spices if necessary to suit your palate.

4 cups raw pumpkin seeds (I purchased sprouted seeds at Whole Foods)

Non-stick spray

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons za’tar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tamarind syrup (sold at Middle Eastern markets)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray (so that less oil is needed).  Spread seeds out in an even layer. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with remaining ingredients except tamarind syrup, and roast for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown, stirring half-way through. Remove from oven, drizzle with tamarind syrup, stir well to distribute evenly, cool on wire rack, and package in airtight containers.

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Vegan Mini-Chutney & Cocowhip “Pies”
Ready in a (Ginger)Snap

These pretty little mini-pies make holiday pie “baking” a snap. A gingersnap.

I am so happy to share this cheater “recipe” with you, the brain child of my good friend, Mary Beth Watson. It is really just a 3-ingredient lickity-split process.

After one bite, no one will care how little time you spent laboring in your kitchen.

Ingredients:

Anna’s or your favorite brand crispy scalloped (preferably) vegan gingersnaps

Chutney (apple-pecan or, for Christmas, cranberry-orange-walnut “sauce” works nicely)

So Delicious brand Cocowhip or your favorite vegan whipped cream

To make each mini-pie, top one gingersnap with a spoonful of chutney followed by a dollop of Cocowhip. That’s it! Make as many or as few as you need just before serving time.

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Best Vegan Salted Maple Brandy (or Bourbon) Pecan Pie
(Custardy Texture)

I got inspired AFTER Thanksgiving to experiment with pecan pie. The one at our repast was not vegan, so I couldn’t partake.

On a recent trip to Duck, NC, Bob had a scrumptious pecan tart with bourbon ice cream and salted caramel sauce which I had to taste for research purposes. I felt the caramel sauce was overkill. And I knew I wasn’t going to make ice cream just due to time, so I added the booze to the pie and served the slices with purchased vegan vanilla ice cream. Yes, please.

The question for vegan pecan pie bakers is silken tofu or no?  I say yes, as I was never a fan of syrupy pecan pie. So, I like the slightly more custardy texture of this one, which slices beautifully.  I hope you do too.

As I mentioned, this pie is addicting served with softened vegan vanilla ice cream. And while I deemed the caramel sauce too much of a good thing, everyone will look the other way if you drizzle a hint more brandy or bourbon over the top.

  • 1 prepared vegan crust
  • 3 cups whole pecans
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 cup demerrera sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
  • Juice of half a medium-large lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup soft silken tofu
  • Optional: a few vegan chocolate chips
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If pie crust is frozen, remove from freezer.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, spread pecans in a single layer on sheet, sprinkle very lightly with sea salt, and roast in oven for 3 minutes.  Set aside, but leave oven on.

In a medium saucepan, combine the vegan butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, corn starch, flour, and sea salt.  Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in brandy or bourbon, vanilla, and almond extract.
In a food processor, process the silken tofu until smooth. Add the maple syrup mixture and pulse again well combined. Reserve 28 of the pecan halves, add half of the remaining pecan halves, and break up the temaining ones as you add. Use a spatula to gently swirl them into the filling. Transfer filling to pie shell. Arrange the reserved pecans on top of the pie in two concentric circles. Dot with chocolate chips if desired.
Place pie on a baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven and bake for about one hour, until the crust is nicely browned and the edges of the pie are set. The center might still be a very slightly jiggly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with just a hint of flaky sea salt like Maldon or just a nice coarse variety and allow to cool completely before serving.
Serve with softened vegan vanilla ice cream (I like So Delicious No Sugar Added) or vegan whipped cream.



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