Dinner tonight was Savory (vegan) French Fry Salad Sundaes (in our new stainless steel French fry cones)!
I love French fries but I like bulking them up with fresh raw ingredients so they are more filling with few additional calories.
We make 2 servings of fries in our new Cuisinart mini-fryer and divide them between paper- or towel-lined cones. Bob devours his with ketchup. I top mine with things like shredded cabbage or, in this case, chopped cauliflower, diced celery, and halved cherry tomatoes.
In the cute little sidecar is a vegan Buffalo Sauce made with my Blooming Platter Lo-Cal Mayo at about 10 calories per tablespoon.
Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)
I have a new summer crush…
But it is less of a recipe, except for the sauce and mayo, and more of a method for creating one of the tastiest treats you will ever put in your mouth.
My scrumptious sauce, which is very low calorie, compensates for any excessive calories in the fries. We used Kroger brand crinkle fries–it has to be crinkle in my book!–to save money and felt that the quality was on point. No need to pay Ore-Ida prices.
And we fried rather than baked them because we just purchased a Cuisinart Mini-Fryer, exactly like the Waring Pro Fryer we have, only smaller. Waring Pro makes the same mini-fryer but Waring was purchased by Cuisinart and, while you can still purchase both, the Cuisinart model is the newer one. Each costs $43.95 with free shipping on Amazon.
So, while we fried–and drained/blotted–our fries to test drive our sleek little fryer, you can bake them according to package directions and still love the results.
Then, you just pile fresh ingredients on top, which we like to set up like a mini-bar: finely shredded cabbage because we had it, though bean sprouts would be the traditional; sliced green onions; chopped cilantro; and a spritz of lime juice. Finish with a generous drizzle of my Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce and some roasted and lightly salted peanuts and you are all set. I like to garnish the dish with lime wedges but I inadvertently left them out in the photo.
I love eating my fries with chopsticks, though I needed a fork right at the end to scoop up every outrageous bite.
1 serving frozen crinkle fries, baked or fried according to package directions, and drained on a paper towel-lined rack set over a rimmed sheet pan (this will keep bottoms crispy)
1/2 cup or more shredded cabbage, cabbage-carrot mix, or bean sprouts
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons or (much!) more Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon roasted and lightly salted peanuts
2 lime wedges
Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce
Note: make more than you need for 1 serving
1/2 cup Blooming Platter Mayo (recipe follows; you can use Vegenaise or another prepared brand, BUT keep in mind that it is 100 calories per tablespoon to my mayo’s 8)
1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce
Optional but delicious: 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian in Asian markets)
Optional but recommended: 1 teaspoon lime juice
Whisk together all ingredients and set aside. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Blooming Platter Low Calorie Mayo
(the BEST and so quick and easy)
Yield: 2 cups. There are only 250 calories in the entire recipe or 8 calories per tablespoon!
1 pound Silken tofu (I used plain Nasoya brand which also sells a “Lite” and “Organic” variety)
1 tablespoon yellow or stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 very large garlic clove, cut into about 3 or 4 pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Sea salt to taste
Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
Bob and I hosted our 2nd Annual Christmas Day open house again this year. It is amazing how many people are available on Christmas afternoon. We started at 3:30 and went on for hours. 35 people graced our home with their love, laughter, and warmth, creating such a special holiday.
Oh, and they also graced it with lovely and delicious vegan food. Last year, because we were hosting Christmas dinner for Bob’s family afterwards, I just did sweets and cider. This year, generous guests wanted to bring much more food and I didn’t turn them down on their gracious offers.
Our good friend, Juan Gelpi, loves my hot buffalo chickpea dip, so I made some in my never before used deluxe stainless steel Crock-Pot, and I will definitely do that again.
With some leftovers and a house guest for the week who we ended up taking out for most every finner, I didn’t want any spoilage and waste, so I decided to make Juan and his wife, Barbara, both excellent vegan cooks, a casserole out of the leftover dip.
Let’s just say that these two serious foodies gave it a big thumbs up. And I hope you do too. Honestly, there i nothing not to like about this intensely comforting and satisfying casserole.
1-20 ounce package white or sweet potato tater tots, baked according to package directions ( I used Alexia brand Sweet Potato Puffs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup celery, diced
3/4 + 1/4 cup cup sliced green onions
3 cups Vegan Cheesy Baked Buffalo Chickpea Dip, at room temperature
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese or cheddar cheese blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and saute, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 3/4 cup green onions and continue sauteing a couple of minutes just until slightly wilted. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine sauteed vegetables, baked tater tots, and dip. Spoon into a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with grated cheddar and remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.
Ingredient note: you can successfully prepare this delicious salad with all potato–sweet or white–all cauliflower–orange or white–or a combination such as I have done. I used sweet potato to keep the dish autumnal, cauliflower to lower the calories and carbs, and orange cauliflower to complement the color of the sweet potato flesh.
Looking back at my most recent posts, I see that my self-perceived obsession with everything Buffalo and pumpkin is not perception but reality. I have been nuts for pumpkin–savory or sweet–for as long as I can remember, which includes, as a very young girl, accidentally dropping my slice of pumpkin pie upside down at my grandparents’, flipping it back over on my plate, wiping the whipped cream up off the floor, and going back to ask for another generous dollop.
My Buffalo Sauce infatuation started much more recently. I was struck with a violent stomach flu or food poisoning the first week of school on September on a Thursday and Friday. When I felt like allowing the first food to pass my lips, other than a smidgen of vegan strawberry ice cream–Saturday at about noon–I was craving Whole Food vegan Buffalo Pizza which I had never eaten in my life. But I had to have a slice. I couldn’t finish it, but it tasted so satisfying to me.
Then, later in the fall, our Guidance Department hosted a come-and-go luncheon for teachers and someone brought a baked cheesy Buffalo dip that was not vegan. But it had an intoxicating aroma, and I had to sample a little bit for research so that I could duplicate it. And I haven’t stopped, creating crowd-pleasing Quick and Tasty Vegan Buffalo Chickpeas, Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Potato Skins, Vegan Baked Buffalo Dip, and now Buffalo Sweet Potato (and Cauliflower) Salad.
Actually, when I reviewed my recipes to find these links, I realized that my obsession started even earlier, with Bloomin’ Best Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower (for tacos) and earlier still with Vegan Buffalo Chex Mix (please make this for holiday gift-giving!). And, of course, my vegan version of the original Vegan Buffalo Wings with Creamy Vegan Blue Cheez Dressing predated all of the above.
But back to this Buffalo potato salad: I think it looks pretty served in a martini glass with or without “stripes” of smokey tempeh up the side of the glass. But I like it with, as the flavor combo is just right to my palate.
I hope you love this salad even half as much as I do.
Vegan Buffalo Sweet Potato (and Orange Cauliflower) Salad
2 cups cubed, peeled sweet potatoes
1 head orange (or white) cauliflower, separated into florets
1 recipe Blooming Platter Mayo (recipe follows)
2 tablespoon Frank’s Hot Sauce (maybe start with 1 if you don’t love hot stuff)
1 tablespoon Liqiid Aminos
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon melted vegan butter
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 celery hearts, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional garnish: a drizzle of Daiya Blue “Cheez” Dressing, halved cherry tomatoes, and sprigs of celery leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, spread potatoes and cauliflower evenly on sheet, spray with nonstick spray (use olive oil if preferred), and season with sea salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes or until tender and barely starting to caramelize. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, make Blooming Platter Mayo, blending in hot sauces, vinegar, and butter at the end. Check for seasoning and add additional sea salt and pepper to taste if desired. Add celery and green onions to potatoes and cauliflower. Pour spiced mayo over the vegetables and toss gently to combine. Chill for a couple of hours and serve garnished as desired.
Blooming Platter Mayo
I-12 ounce carton soft silken tofu
Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
1 teadoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
Yield: 8 potato skins
Powerful cravings seem to be inspiring a lot of my recipes lately. This one was based on a dish spotted on the online menu of The Hound’s Tale in Williamsburg, VA: sweet potato and black bean tacos.
However, not feeling like I wanted the additional calories of taco shelsl, it occured to me that the potato “shells” would be the perfect containers–like cute little boats–and these delicious, spicy, but not-too-firey, potato skin boats were born. An optional Frito scoop garnish nods in the tortilla direction.
Easy and quick, other than baking the potatoes, you can bulk them up many ways by adding additional ingredients like sauteed onion, garlic, and bell peppers for more of a fajita style. But I like them just like they are.
Hungry though you may be, I would advise against microwaving the potatoes or skipping the extra 10-minute skin crisping step. I promise the texture will be worth it.
4 medium-small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and lightly pricked all over with a fork
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar or cheddar-jack cheese blend (I use the So Delicious brand cheddar-jack variety) + optional 1/2 cup additional cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 cups moderately firmly packed baby kale, lightly steamed (I microwave it for 1 minute in a medium bowl)
1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 green onions, thinly sliced (optional: reserve 2 of the sliced onions for garnish)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chipotle-Lime Sour Cream Sauce (recipe follows)
Garnishes: cilantro sprigs and optional Frito’s scoops and reserved green onions; roasted pumpkin seeds would also be lovely
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on an oiled or Silpat-lined baking sheet and spray them lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Bake 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Let potatoes cool enough to handle and then slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out flesh leaving a 1/8-inch shell. Spray inside of shells lightly with non-stick spray and return to oven for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mash potato flesh with 1/2 cup cheese, cumin, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Fold in lightly steamed kale, black beans, and green onions. Season to tasted with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide mixture evenly among potato skins, top with optional 1 tablespoon shredded cheese, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately drizzled with Chipotle-Lime Sour Cream sauce and garnished, as desired, with sprigs of cilantro, Frito’s scoops, reserved green onions, and/or roasted pumpkin seeds.
Chipotle-Lime Sour Cream Sauce
1/2 cup vegan sour creeam
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
Zest of 1/2 medium lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until completely combined.
Yield: 8 potato skins
This recipe is my response to a powerful craving for comfort food during a week that experienced the Las Vegas mass shooting, the death of a friend, the death of a friend’s aunt, and the death of Tom Petty.
Every month, we have gotten together with the Gelpis for two years and counting to cook back and forth at each of our homes, always with a theme. With comfort food this month’s concept, I was fantasizing about all kinds of naughty dishes like fried onion rings, Buffalo Chickpea Dip, potato skins, loaded tater tot nachos, and more.
As the week drew to an end, I had reigned myself in, deciding to make vegan pigs in a blanket with a pepper jelly – ketchup dipping sauce and combining the dip and the skins into one best-of-both-worlds dish: Buffalo Chickpea Potato Skins. The Gelpis contributed a tasty vegetable pizza ring and a vegan apple pie, both with divinely crispy crusts.
Small servings, no seconds, and smarter choices than I was contemplating at the beginning of the week meant that I was very satisfied, but not stuffed and ashamed.
I could make a steady diet of these potato skins and hope you agree.
- 4 medium-small baking potatoes, scrubbed
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese or cheddar cheese blend (I used So Delicious brand cheddar-jack blend)
- 1/2 cup vegan blue cheese or ranch dressing (I used Daiya brand, which makes both)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Optional: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon non-chicken vegetable soup base (semi-liquid paste)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 green onions, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prick the potatoes a few times with a fork, spray potatoes lightly with non-stick spray, and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Lower temperature to 350 degrees.
- Let the potatoes cool slightly, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh leaving about 1/8 inch shell. Place the scooped out potato in a large bowl.
- Spray the potato skins with nonstick spray and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the scooped out potsto flesh except 1/4 cup shredded cheese and the sliced green onion. Stir well, Mash with a potato masher, and stir again until all ingredients are completely combined and the desired texture is reached.
- Divide potato and chickpea mixture evenly among potato skins, mounding attractively. Sprinkle with reservedcheese, dividing evenly.
- Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. (Shredded cheese on top may not look melted.)
- Garnish each potato skin with 1/8 of the green onions and serve immediately.
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.
Not to be cliche, but I am not quite sure where the time has gone since Christmas when I intended to post a number of scrumptious new recipes. I guess snow storms, work, new love (!), and just life intervened.
As most of your know by now, my husband unthinkably passed away July 30, 2015, and my dog and mother–all adored–within the next two months. I have been figuring out a lot of things–including the holidays–since then. And, I’m grateful for the new insights and perspectives gained.
To celebrate Christmas 2015, I suggested that I meet my father and sister–who live together in MS–in New Orleans, a richly idiosyncratic city passionately loved by my family. And we did. I was as blissfully content as I could have bee, wandering the streets of the historic French Quarter. But my father and sister, both more sedentary than me–as an octogenarian, he has a good excuse–were restless and a hint malcontent, only leaving the room in our favorite hotel with its exposed brick walls, lovely courtyard, and newly renovated interior for meals (some disappointing) and a modicum of site seeing. We visited the Roosevelt hotel with its magical Winter Wonderland of a lobby. And the Monteleone Hotel–where my parents honeymooned and where we hosted their 50th wedding anniversary–with it’s slowly rotating bar.
So,while it wasn’t entirely a bust, I didn’t feel we should attempt a repeat. Plus, in September, Bob and I feel in love and wanted to spend the holidays together. He went with me to a wonderfully warm Thanksgiving in MS and LA (at close friends’ gracious home in Covington, just outside of New Orleans), so I felt we should spend Christmas in VA where much of his family lives. I invited Papa and Gin, they readily accepted, and then they both took ill, my father, too ill to travel. So my sister, of course, chose to stay with him, as I encouraged her to do. It was nothing too serious; just a combination of maladies that, together, didn’t lent themselves to plane travel.
Before we realized they wouldn’t be making the trip, I had quickly set about planning our celebration, having not spent Christmas in my own home for the entire 26 years I have lived here. Joe and I had always hosted Thanksgiving but then, without children, went to spend Christmas with each of our families, he in PA, me in MS. With no frame of reference, I was so surprised at how many of our friends were available over the Christmas weekend and, pretty soon, a restaurant brunch was planned with friends for Christmas Eve Day and invitations were sent for a Christmas Cheer Open House on Christmas afternoon followed by Christmas Dinner with Bob’s and my families at my house on Christmas Night.
Shortly thereafter, I was suddenly faced with wrapping my arms around the fact that my family wouldn’t be here–the first time in my entire life I had not been with them on Christmas–so I threw myself into merry making of a different sort, keeping all of our plans in place, just with a bit of a void created by the absence of Papa and Gin. I had done my usual minimal, but sparkly and special, decorating with the help of my beloved friend and house guest, Donna Reiss, for my annual Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party in mid-december. That left concentrating on friends and food for Christmas weekend.
Here I share a favorite dish from Christmas Dinne 2017. These potatoes are as delicious warmed and served the next day as when fresh and crispy out of the oven. But don’t expect many leftovers. And don’t wait for a holiday. These spuds are striking, but easy enough for a weeknight provided you use a mandolin for slicing.
Crispy Vegan Fan Potatoes
2 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed, and sliced about 1/4-inch thick (I used a mandolin for this purpose and microwave the small ends for gnoshing or potato salad)
1/4 cup (or more!) melted vegan butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 taspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspooon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Spray with nonstick cooking spray a 9 x 13″ pan or therabouts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the melted butter, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, and add the potatoes, a handful at a time, tossing as you go to coat them completely. “Shingle” or “fan” the potatoes in rows in the prepared pan, overlapping them fairly closely. No one will tell if you drizzle just a hint more butter over the top. Cover the pan tightly with foil or an oven-safe lid and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil–potatoes should be cooked through (the tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the potatoes)–and roast, uncovered, for another 25 minutes or more, until potatoes are golden and crispy on the edges. Even, or maybe especially, a little overly brown is scrumptious. Sprinkle the top with a bit of smoked paprika and let the potatoes cool for about 5 minutes before serving with a spatula. Use the knife-edge of the spatula to cut into sections, and then lift each section out with the flat surface.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings (6 wedges each)
A couple of nights ago, I had “French Fries and Champagne” for dinner. Don’t judge. I’m a widow in need of the occasional comfort food…and, besides, I had kale, carrots, and fruit earlier in the day. I only ate a few, so a friend and fellow-widow is coming over tonight to join me for a bike ride and leftovers.
Driving home the night before and listening to “Out of the Box,” Paul Shughru’s award-winning “new music” show on our local NPR affiliate, WHRV, he played The Hot Sardines “French Fries and Champagne.” And that nostalgic 40’s-infused suggestion was all I needed.
To arrive at my version–which is roasted, not fried–my imagination went to favorite champagne food pairings, especially Indian or Thai with my all time favorite, Prosecco. Thinking that an Indian flavored dry spice rub would be easier to create than one with Thai flavors–which seemed to rely more on fresh herbs that would burn at the high roasting temperature–I decided on sweet potato wedges with a golden Indiean spice rub mixed with Panko bread crumbs for a bit more crunch.
For a dipping sauce, any Indian chutney whisked into vegan sour cream or vegan yogurt (if you can find an unsweetened version, which we can’t in our area) is perfection, perhaps with a a few sprigs of cilantro on the side, if you’re a cilantro-lover.
In truth, I don’t actually recommend only french fries and champagne for dinner…at least not often.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in half lenghtwise, then crosswise, then each section cut into 3 wedges to yield 12 wedges per potato
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons any vegan chutney (mango, mint, cilantro, etc., found in supermarkets or Indian/International markets)
4 tablespoons vegan sour cream (or vegan plain yogurt or mayo if you prefer)
Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs, if desired, and champagne, Prosecco, or other sparkling wine
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle baking pan with olive oil, add potato wedges, toss lightly to coat, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and toss again. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring or turning about ever 6 or 7 minutes. Meanwhile combine bread crumbs in a small bowl with ground coriander, cumin, garlic and onion powders, smoked paprika, turmeric, and black bepper. Remove potatoes from oven, sprinkle with bread crumb and spice mixture, stir to coat, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, stirring after 5. (Note: if you prefer your potato wedges really crispy and caramelized, roast them for 25 to 30 minutes before adding the crumb mixture and roasting another 10.) Meanwhile, prepare dipping sauce by whisking together chutney with vegan sour cream in a small bowl. Remove potatoes to a serving bowl or platter–I like to use a parchment paper- or napkin-lined plastic “burger basket”–sprinkle with any crumb mixture that remained in the pan and serve with dipping sauce, fresh cilantro sprigs, if desired, and champagne.