Posted tagged ‘mushrooms’

Sweet Hot Potatoes

February 20, 2013

Koimo sweet potatoes are my new love.  (If you use the link:  the only mention I could find for Koimo sweet potatoes was on Wikipedia.  You will need to scroll down to Japan to read about Koimo sweet potatoes.)  I bought them at Hmart in Burlington, thinking they would behave like the ordinary orange sweet potatoes we eat raw.  The flesh was a creamy white and I expected the same sweet, crisp crunch.  Instead, they were hard, starchy and bland.  Disappointed, I tucked the rest in the back of my vegetable crisper.  One late afternoon while rummaging for dinner possibilities, I decided to roast them.  The dense, buttery sweetness was unlike any other sweet potato I have ever eaten.  I had prepared a simple lentil dal recipe I adapted from my best Indian cookbook—Indian Home Cookingphoto-3I roasted some asparagus and mushrooms and served the dal on top of the Koimo sweets.  Now it’s all I can think about eating on these cold winter nights.

I invited my friend Heather to lunch, wanting to share this incredible pairing with someone else who gets as excited about food as I do.  She writes a wonderful food blog and loves to try new vegetables.  We ate in my dining room, talking about our daughters, running, and of course, food.  In the end, I sent her a link to the Koimo sweets (because, naturally, I had taken a picture of the display at Hmart.)IMG_0024 and she asked for the lentil dal recipe.  The lentil dal is perfect to serve over roasted potatoes of any kind, sweet or not.  It is also delicious spooned into half of a roasted squash, or over rice or quinoa.  You can tweak the heat up or down, depending on how much spice you enjoy.  Here you go, Heather!

Roasted Koimo Sweet Potato with Simple Dal.  Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus for extra beauty and deliciousness.

Roasted Koimo Sweet Potato with Simple Dal. Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus for extra beauty and deliciousness.

Simple Lentil Dal with Fresh Ginger, Green Chiles, and Cilantro  (adapted from Indian Home Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 c lentils (I use yellow split peas, but you can use red or pink lentils)

1/2 t turmeric

1 t salt

4 c water

Tempering oil:

2 T olive or canola oil

2 t whole cumin seeds

3 whole dried red chiles

1/4 c minced fresh ginger

2-3 T chili garlic sauce (found in the Asian section of any grocery store) OR 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 minced hot green chile

1/4 c fresh chopped cilantro

juice of 1/2 lemon or lime (either is delicious)

Method:

Rinse lentils and put into a large saucepan with the turmeric, salt and water.  Bring to a boil and skim well.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes.

For the tempering oil:  Heat the oil with the cumin seeds in s small skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cumin seeds begin to darken and become fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Ad the dried chiles, ginger and chili garlic sauce OR garlic and green chile and cook, stirring, until the ginger softens, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and add a little water to stop the cooking.

When the lentils are soft, remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, blend until about half of the mixture is smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can mash the dal with a fork, or puree half in a food processor.

Add the tempering oil, stir, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes more.  Stir in the cilantro and the juice.  Serve hot as is, or over roasted sweet potatoes, potatoes, or grain of your choice with a salad or other green vegetable.  This recipe freezes well, so if it turns out that you really like it, double it and save some for a night when there’s no time to cook!

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Shhhh…Secret Vegan Cooking Class

January 22, 2013

I am preparing for my fourth vegan cooking talk and demonstration.  The secret is that it is not technically a vegan cooking class—I have been invited by the Essex County Garden Club to talk about how to use winter vegetables.

The back story: Last spring I joined a CSA.  I bought one share for our family and had the pleasure of visiting Alprilla Farm each Wednesday afternoon to choose whatever I desired.  Each week I brought home a giant bag packed to the brim with the most beautiful organically grown vegetables.  The selection was vast—eight or nine types of greens and heirloom tomatoes, several types of beets, onions, carrots, peppers, kale and squashes.  Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, beans, soy beans, and much, much more.  Whenever I arrived, I met someone new and fun to talk with about how to prepare and eat the bounty offered.  I met a woman named Nina who seemed to be on my schedule and she would follow me around, asking what to do with celeriac, or how I managed to get my kids to eat kale.

It turns out that she is the event planner for the Essex County Garden Club.  One afternoon, she asked if I would be interested in sharing my knowledge about vegetables—why they are good to eat and how to prepare some of the more daunting ones—and I knew it would be a wonderful opportunity to teach how to cook vegetables.  It would also be a chance to share vegan cooking with a lot of people— a chance to be on the offense about being vegan!  I knew I would be be able to show the beauty in the way I choose to eat without having to do anything other than be myself.

So I’m in my kitchen.  I want to show off, thus I have been prepping all day.  I clean, peel and dice beets, carrots, red potatoes and sweet potatoes.  I wash kale and tear the leaves from the stems.  I spiral slice beets and carrots.  I make ginger nama shoyu dressing for steamed vegetables.  I scurry out to my garden and cut fresh rosemary and sage.  The show-stopper will definitely be the beet and carrot “noodles” turned from the spiral slicer because I also make my delicious vegan Alfredo sauce with mushrooms.

I make raw ginger cookies for dessert sampling, too, taking the time to press out the dough and cut hearts with a cookie cutter, because it’s close to Valentine’s Day and I love to share these amazingly simple and flavorful treats.  (And because Nina, who came to one of my vegan cooking classes here in my kitchen and tried one before, asked so nicely.)

Raw Ginger Cookies

Raw Ginger Cookies

The plan is to roast some vegetables in garlic olive oil, steam some and serve with quinoa and ginger nama shoyu dressing, and boil the noodles and serve with the Alfredo sauce.  Then cookies.  I know everyone will ask for the sauce recipe, so here it is.

Prep for Essex County Garden Club
Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Mushrooms top center and middle row second bowl in

Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Mushrooms

Ingredients:

1/2 c cashew cream*

3 T olive oil or flavored olive oi, divided (I like to use mushroom sage oil for this recipe, but plain is fine)

1  12 oz pkg sliced mushrooms

1 large sweet onion, diced

1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes

generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 c peas, fresh or frozen

2 c vegetable stock or vegetable broth

1/3 c nutritional yeast

1/4 c minced fresh sage leaves

1/4 c orange juice concentrate

3 c raw baby spinach

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms, turn heat to high, and cook, tossing every few minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown and they release their liquid.

Heat the remaining T oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook about 7 minutes, or until onion is soft and beginning to brown.

Add the cooked onion to the mushrooms.  Add nutmeg and crushed red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for another minute.  Add the vegetable broth or stock and bring to a boil.  Stir in the peas.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the cashew cream and the nutritional yeast.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Add the sage and the orange juice concentrate.  Stir well to incorporate.  Remove pan from heat and fold in the baby spinach.  Grind a generous amount of black pepper into the sauce, taste, and add a little salt to taste.

*another way to make cashew cream:  soak 1 c raw cashews in cold filtered water for at least an hour but overnight is fine, too.  Drain, rinse, and drain again.  Pour soaked cashews into a blender and add 1 c filtered water.  Blend until smooth.  Use for this recipe.  Freeze any leftovers for next time.  Keeps at least 3 months in freezer.

All packed up and ready to go.  No room left in the fridge!  Notice that somehow my kombucha scoby jar is front and center on the top shelf.

All packed up and ready to go. No room left in the fridge! Notice that somehow my kombucha scoby jar is front and center on the top shelf.

Vegan Cooking Demo #3

January 14, 2013

At dinner one night with a group of friends, one of them thought it would be a good idea if I started teaching them how to cook vegan.  The women who are in this little group with me are thoughtful about what they bring when we eat together, but I always bring both an entree and a dessert so I know for sure I will not go hungry, in case someone forgets that chicken broth is not vegan, or that eggs are not okay if they are in a cake.  Sometimes they just don’t know how to make a cake without any animal products.  “What should I use instead of eggs?  Ground flax seed?  How would that work?”  or “What would I put in the salad if you don’t eat goat cheese?”  (The answer to that one is easy—leave out the cheese, or at least offer it on the side.)

I thought it was a good idea, but I am a bit shy about standing in front of a group and talking about, well, anything, really.  I am comfortable in small, informal settings with people I know.  Stage fright hits when I am standing in front of a roomful of people and expected to perform in any way, even just cooking.  My friend Michaela, the one who is a superb baker and who has the most imploring big brown eyes asked again and again until I finally conceded.  Vegan cooking lessons for everyone.  In my kitchen.  Second Sunday of each month at 2 pm.

I thought it would be good to start with desserts, an area that seems the most challenging for bakers who want to try making vegan sweets.  I double and triple checked my recipes, trying things out ahead of time, and my family benefited from multiple batches of cookies and muffins.  I scrutinized recipes I make regularly, making sure the measurements were exact.  I prepared a sheet of vegan baking substitutions and handouts of all the recipes.

I was shaking as I began the first session, but after a few minutes, I forgot I was being watched and just started chatting away as I measured, mixed, and baked.   I planned to pull off three different recipes—giant, crunchy, chocolate chip cookies, molasses ginger cookies, and the famous Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin recipe.  I printed the blueberry muffin recipe right off of the internet, using it like a worksheet so everyone who came could see how easy it is to figure out the substitutions.  1/4 c silken tofu for each egg.  Soy or almond milk in place of dairy milk.  Vegan margarine in place of butter.  Organic sugar.  I made the muffins with the changes, and no one could believe how delicious they were—just as good, if not better than the original recipe.

It went well.  Really, really well.   “Is it okay if I invite a friend next time?”  “Can I bring my niece?”  “Could you please email me a link to your blog?  To that website?”  “What was the name of that book you read?”  My cell phone began ringing—strangers calling.  “I heard you are giving vegan cooking lessons.  Do you have room for one more person?”  “How much does it cost?”

The answer was, of course, yes!  And it’s free.

The second lesson focused on entrees, and I demonstrated how to make homemade seitan, a chewy and delicious main course.  I also showed how to make cashew cream, and from that, made a vegan Alfredo sauce with mushrooms, peas, and kale, served over spaghetti squash.  We ate dinner together at the end of that demo, and I happened to have enough raw ginger cookies to pass around for dessert.  “Raw cookies?  How do you do that?”  “These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!  Could you share the recipe?”  It was a small group, easy to please, full of excitement for learning vegan cooking.  Then another round of phone calls and suddenly a bunch of people, some of whom I have never met, are sitting in my kitchen, raptly watching me chop, stir, process and talk about why I am a vegan.  And a vegan cook.

So— here I am at the beginning of my third group vegan cooking demonstration, this time teaching how to make vegan cheeses.  My friend Krissie was kind enough to bring her camera and take a few shots of the event.

I am holding up a package of agar-agar, a type of seaweed used as a thickener for many vegan cheeses.

I make three different cheeses in one hour.  The first is  smokey cashew cheese from the fabulous website:

 http://www.olivesfordinner.com

  Krissie got a great shot of the smokey cashew cheese.

The second is pine nut cheese, adapted from a recipe a friend found online while trying to impress me with her vegan cooking skills.  (Not that she needs to try—my friend Stephanie is an amazing cook and I always leave her table with a happy, full belly.)

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Beet-Ravioli-with-Pine-Nut-Goat-Cheese-Rosemary-Cream-Sauce-Aged-Balsamic-Vinegar-354390

I have made this entire recipe as it stands and was a bit disappointed, especially in the pine nut cheese.  The lemon was far too strong, so I eliminated the lemon zest, and instead of using the full amount of lemon juice, I used a little less than half the amount and used organic apple cider vinegar for the remaining volume.  I added about 2 tsp fresh rosemary to the processor along with everything else and wound up with what is perhaps the best nut-based ricotta cheese ever!  It freezes very well, so go ahead and make the full recipe, then divide into 1/2 cup containers and store in the freezer.  This is amazing in a vegan lasagna, or on a whole wheat pizza with a little vegan pesto, some tomato sauce and some caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms.

The final cheese is tofu feta.  Tofu feta is tricky.  There are a lot of recipes out there and I have tried many.  This one is truly delicious and easy.

http://www.ourveggiekitchen.com/2010/03/tofu-feta.html

My captive audience.  I’m making tofu feta in this one.  Beneath the orange pot lid is a block of tofu.  The block is wrapped in a clean dishtowel and the weight of the lid is pressing out the excess water so that the tofu will absorb more of the marinade.

I serve the tofu feta mixed with some chopped cucumbers, halved baby grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, all dressed with a dash of hemp oil, a bit of lemon juice, a sprinkle of oregano, and some freshly ground black pepper.

For a quick and easy tasting of the pine nut cheese, I cook a box of pasta, add a couple of cups of chopped fresh broccoli, a can of drained chickpeas, and some red sauce.  I pour that into a casserole, dollop on the pine nut cheese, and heat at 350 ° for about half an hour.  There are no leftovers!

Sometime during the lesson, my friend Jane raises her hand, old-school style.  “I think you should get paid for this, Elizabeth.”

“Oh, no, I don’t want to take any money for this.  I am truly okay doing it for free.”

“No, we should at least reimburse you for all the ingredients.”

“No, it’s really fine!”

And so on, until, as I stand behind my kitchen counter, trying to talk and cook and be entertaining and all that, one after another, my audience comes behind the counter.  They tuck bills into the front pocket of my jeans.  I am uncomfortable with this, but at the same time, secretly thrilled that anyone is willing to pay me to teach how to cook vegan.  After they leave, and I clean up, I empty the contents of my pocket onto the counter.  I think— I could make a living doing this—and my gratitude is immense for the generosity and kindness of my friends and the friends they have brought to me.

Vegan Twice-Baked Potatoes

November 27, 2012

My husband and I attended the Boston Vegetarian Society’s Food Festival a few weeks ago. We had the opportunity to sample dozens of delicious vegan foods and to pick up a wide assortment of vegan propaganda—one of my favorite parts—like stickers that said “Praise Seitan” with a little pentagram graphic and t shirts with the slogan “Only Kale Can Save Us Now!”.   We were fortunate to have the chance to listen to lectures by world famous chefs, physicians, and film makers.  One lecture in particular, given by Dr. Pam Popper, motivated me to revisit our nutritional standards once more.  Her philosophies and advice are based on cause-and-effect studies, rather than correlation studies.  This makes the most sense to me.

Cause and effect studies are studies that show direct relationships between an event and a result.  An example is that if you stand under water, you get wet.  Simple.  I am not saying you cannot prevent the water from touching you, either by using an umbrella or a waterproof jacket with a hood; but it is obvious that when water touches you, it causes you get wet.

My friend Charlene shared a perfect example of a correlation study:  If you eat ice cream, you are more likely to drown.  Sounds crazy, right?  The reason those two events are lumped together in that way is that people eat more ice cream during the summer months, which is also when more people are likely to go swimming.  And drownings are most likely to occur from swimming accidents.  The only connection is that both activities take place during summer.  The lack of connection between eating ice cream and drowning ends there.  Eating ice cream does not cause anyone to drown.  So why would we draw a solid conclusion from that correlation?

Many of the studies we see on the news or read about in health magazines are based on correlation rather than on cause-and-effect.  Many studies are also funded by those involved in making money from the sales of certain agribusiness products, and by drug companies who are far more interested in selling their drugs to mask or relieve symptoms of our lifestyles and diets rather than finding and eliminating the actual causes of our health problems.  No one makes money by taking away or solving the problem, and yet, if we eliminate the causes or solve the problems, we improve our health.  We don’t need to take medications.  We don’t need to give our money to conglomerate agribusiness, or to drug manufacturers.

So, back to Dr. Popper.  She talked about altering biomarkers with medications, and how taking a cholesterol drug changes the reading of your blood cholesterol.  It changes the number.  It does not necessarily change the way your arteries respond to eating foods that contribute to clogging your arteries.  Or how taking medication for type 2 diabetes does not necessarily change the way your organs manage the glucose in your system, or the breakdown of body functions over a long period of time that occur as a result of type 2 diabetes.  The diabetes still affects the whole body, even though the drugs change the numbers.  This doctor addressed how diet—what you eat every single day—is what creates the actual change in the body.  Diet alters biomarkers, and also alters every single physiological aspect of the body, its organs, and its functions.

The aspect of her lecture that hit me the most was about fat consumption.  She discussed how fat consumption negatively affects our health.  She suggests, after studying cause-and-effect studies for many years, that we should consume far less fat.  The actual numbers?  10-15% of our daily calorie intake.  If you eat 2000 calories each day to maintain your weight, only 200-300 of those calories should come from fat.  It sounds like a lot of calories when you look at the numbers, 200-300 calories.  That’s a whole breakfast.  But 1 tablespoon of oil, any kind, is about 120 calories.  I can eat that in a few minutes, just with a can of smoked almonds beside me while I watch a movie!  She suggests that if we need extra calories, we eat them in the form of starchy vegetables and legumes.

What about the good oils?  Dr. Oz says olive oil is good for us.  And coconut oil?  Isn’t that supposed to be the new wonder oil?  And walnut oil?  Avocados?  Oil is fat.  Period.  Eat some fat, but make sure it comes from the foods we eat.  There is no need to add oil to get fat into our bodies.  We require such a small amount that there is plenty in 1/4 of an avocado, a tablespoonful of nuts, or a handful of seeds.  10-15 % is enough.

So I bought her book, Solving America’s Healthcare Crisis.  I started reading into her research.  I’m sold.  And now, I am attempting to cut back our fat intake.  The easiest way to start is to STOP ADDING OILS TO OUR FOODS.  There is plenty of fat in what we eat without adding more fat.  So, more roasting, more steaming.  Less sauteing.  And if I do saute, I try to use only a teaspoon of oil, then add a tiny bit of water at a time to keep the food from sticking or burning.  So far, it’s working out well.  I’m not sure we have reached the optimum low levels at every meal, and I cannot obsess on this all day long, but I can definitely be more aware, and prepare our meals with more emphasis on vegetables and less emphasis on added fat.

Potatoes, which are loaded with nutrients and filling starch, are not my favorite vegetable.  I do like french fries, and although delicious, they are loaded with oil.  To work on my new goal of not adding oil, I have been trying to come up with a way to eat them that excites my taste buds while also giving me enough calories to meet my dietary needs.  I had a beautiful stock of organic potatoes from my CSA share from Alprilla Farm and an empty belly.  I foraged around in my refrigerator and pantry, filled my steamer basket with water, scrubbed nine organic golden potatoes, and an hour later, served this delicious dinner to my family.  I made extra, so we could have them for dinner a couple of times, and lunches for the week.

Vegan Twice-Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

8-10 potatoes, scrubbed and pricked all over with a fork

2 c broccoli florets

1 c mushrooms, diced

4 c kale, washed, leaves pulled from stems and cut into bite-sized pieces or 4 c baby spinach, washed

1 can rinsed black-eyed peas

1 c plain almond milk, maybe a little more or less

1/2 c nutritional yeast

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced

1/2 c minced scallions, green ends only

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method

Heat oven to 400 ° F.

Place potatoes directly on oven rack and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until tender.

While potatoes are baking, steam broccoli and kale  for about 5-7 minutes, or until just tender.  Set aside.  If using baby spinach, add the spinach for the last minute only.

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray.  Heat skillet and add mushrooms.  Saute until mushrooms release their liquid, about  5 minutes.  Set aside.

Pour black-eyed peas into a large bowl and mash them well with a fork.  Add 1/2 c of the almond milk and the nutritional yeast.  Stir to combine.

When potatoes are tender, carefully remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cutting board.  Turn oven temperature down to 350 ° F.  When just cool enough to handle, slice each potato open length-wise, scoop out the flesh, and add to the black-eyed peas and almond milk mixture.  Set aside the skins.

Using an electric mixer or a potato masher, combine the potatoes  with the black-eyed peas and almond milk, adding more almond milk until the mixture is thick, as for mashed potatoes.

Add the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, scallions,  salt, and  black pepper.  Mix well.  Fold in the broccoli, kale and mushrooms.

Use a large spoon to generously stuff each potato skin.  Place the stuffed potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake again, this time for about 20 minutes, or until hot through.

Serve two halves for a meal, with a green salad dressed with lemon juice or your favorite balsamic vinegar.

Curried Veggie Burgers

August 2, 2012

Ah, summer and burgers.  The grill.  The bun.  The condiments!  I love veggie burgers— at least I love the idea of them.  Easy to heat and eat, can dress them up for company, or down for a quick summer supper with some lovely greens on the side.  The problem?  Some are bland.  Some are squishy and too fragile.  Store-bought varieties often have ingredients I do not recognize.  And, unfortunately, many online recipes fail when it comes to texture, flavor, and nutritional punch.  After a moderately successful attempt at an online recipe that tasted great but would never stand up to a bun and serious condiments, I finally marched myself into my kitchen, ready to face the veggie burger challenge.

I dug around in the fridge, knowing these burgers would have to include some leftovers.  Quinoa, small white beans, mushrooms, and a bowl of fresh ginger would be the main ingredients from which to build.  I wanted lots of veggies, so took out most of what I had and lined it all up on the kitchen counter.  I wanted lots of flavor, so dug around in the spice cupboard and came up for air holding handfuls of Indian spices.  I chopped and diced, sauteed and sprinkled.  I even measured, just in case I liked the end result.  Good thing I did!

Currie Veggie Burger with Indian Paratha, Chutneys, Onions and Greens

Ingredients:

1 c cooked quinoa

1 c cooked small white beans

2 T ground flax seed

2-3 T coconut oil

2 c peeled, diced sweet potato

1 c diced mushrooms

1/2 c minced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 c minced fresh ginger

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

4 c fresh kale, tough stems removed; chopped fine

3 T curry powder

1 t turmeric

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t salt

1/8 t cayenne pepper

1/3 c water

1 c frozen green peas

olive oil (for the cookie sheet)
Method:

Process the quinoa, half the beans, and the ground flax in a food processor until mostly smooth.  Set aside.

In a large, heavy, nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sweet potato, mushrooms, onion, garlic,  ginger, red bell pepper and kale.  Saute until the kale begins to wilt.  Add the curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir and saute the spices into the vegetable mixture until incorporated.  Add the water, cover, lower heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.  Uncover and remove from heat.  Spoon half of the vegetable mixture into the processor and process until the mixture is mostly smooth again.

Scrape down the sides of the processor and spoon the mixture into the vegetables that are left in the skillet.  Stir everything together until well mixed.  Fold in the remaining 1/2 c white beans and the peas.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously oil a cookie sheet with olive oil.  Use an ice cream scoop or cup measure to divide burger mixture into 10 rounds, each about 3/4 c.  Press and shape into patties on cookie sheet.  Bake 15 minutes.  Gently turn with spatula and bake 15 minutes more.

These can be served right away and are great with Indian condiments, such as coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, and onion chutney.  We liked them on Indian paratha with all the condiments and sliced onion, tomato, and bell pepper.

As the burgers cool, they firm up quite a bit.  They can be frozen and reheated on a cookie sheet at 375° for 18-20 minutes, or heated in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until crisp on the outside and heated through.