Thyme for Tofu Scramble

A friend recently gave me some dried thyme from her garden.  When I opened the charming package, it smelled divine, and I wanted to use it in something immediately.  After scanning the ‘fridge and pantry shelves, I decided to make a tofu scramble that would feature the thyme.  It turned out delicious – one of my favorite tofu scrambles ever.  However, since I was completely winging it the first time, I went back and made it again a few days later, jotting down what I was doing this time, to see if I could replicate what I’d done.  Good news:  the second try was just as tasty as the first.

My inspiration:

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Having this great ingredient definitely elevated my dish.  While any thyme you have on hand will work, if you can get your hands on some super delicious, freshly dried stuff like this, it will make a big difference.

The first thing I did was sizzle a bit of garlic in olive oil.  You want to brown it gently, being careful not to burn it.

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Next, add some chopped broccoli to the hot oil, followed by some mushrooms.  (Note:  these veggies are what I had on hand and what I like in a scramble.  Feel free to substitute whatever you prefer.)

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Crumble up some extra firm tofu and add it to your pan.  Now you’re going to season it.  I should warn you that when I’m in “wing it” mode, I’m not measuring exactly.  I’m seasoning to taste, and that’s what you’ll be doing, too, using my suggestions as a jumping off point.  Given that thyme was the starting point of this recipe, I first crumbled a generous amount into the pan.  Next I added a pinch of dried tarragon and a pinch of black salt.  (Quick note:  if you don’t know what black salt is, it’s also known as Kala Namak and can be found at Indian markets.  It has a pungent, sulfuric smell that creates an egg-like sensation in vegan scrambles quite nicely.  A little goes a long way!)  I ground a lot of black pepper into the mix next, followed by a splash of soy sauce, about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Stir until everything is incorporated and heated through.

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Add salt to taste.  You’re done!

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Enjoy!  xo

Sexy Tacos

The “Grilled ‘Fish’ Tacos” from Brian Patton’s The Sexy Vegan Cookbook are insanely good.  I absolutely love them, and so does everyone I’ve ever served them to.  They would make an excellent lunch of dinner on a lazy summer day, so have at it!  While I urge you to get the cookbook (every single thing I’ve made from it has been delicious), in the meantime you’re in luck as I found a link to the recipe that I will include below.

For toppings, you’ll be making Patton’s “Sour Creaminess” and combining that with vegan mayo and hot sauce.  You’ll also need some cabbage and tomatoes.  Pretty simple.

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The “fish” is made from extra-firm tofu that is marinated in lime juice, seaweed powder, cilantro, chipotle powder and salt and pepper.  They are cooked for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, until nicely browned.  While cooking the tofu, warm up your tortillas so they’re pliable and ready to go.

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Finally, assemble your tacos and get ready to be happy!  SOOOO good!

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As promised, the link:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/meatless-monday-recipe-the-sexy-vegans-fake-fish-tacos

Enjoy!  xo

Stone Fruit Salad with Sweet Almond Ricotta

It has been HOT here in the Seattle area, so we’ve been eating a lot of food that doesn’t require heating.  Lots of salads and sandwiches and fruit.  Happily, it’s stone fruit season, so the offerings are plentiful and delicious.  But this morning, I wanted to jazz things up a bit, so I turned to Judita Wignall’s terrific book, Raw & Simple.  Technically, I turned to it last night, as one of the items in this recipe requires a little planning:  you need to soak the almonds, which I did overnight.  This morning, I turned those soaked almonds into Judita’s yummy sweet almond ricotta by adding young Thai coconut meat, agave nectar, vanilla, salt and water.  Then it was just a matter of cutting up some tasty fruit, chopping up some almonds, sprinkling the whole thing with fresh mint, and whisking together the dressing ingredients (agave, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar).  In truth, the dressing step could be skipped, since the fruit can more than stand alone.  However, the dressing definitely adds a tasty element to it, so I recommend trying it.  Simple, as Judita promised, and lovely.

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Enjoy!  xo

Cocoa-Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

It’s pretty much a rule that you should never make a recipe to share with others that you’ve not tried out beforehand. While this rule makes sense in most cases, if the recipe hails from one of Bryant Terry’s books, you can throw it out the window. Every single recipe I’ve ever made of his turns out beautifully, and every single one is something special and company-worthy. This cake was no exception. I made it to bring to a 4th of July party and it was a hit. Unique, decadent and fabulous.

The recipe is from Terry’s most recent book, Afro-Vegan:  Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed.  Like his previous books, this one is a delight, filled not only with sumptuous recipes and inspiring photos, but also music and book recommendations galore.  While I certainly recommend that you pick it up as soon as possible, in the meantime, you’re in luck… the author published this recipe on his facebook page, and I am sharing it here:

Cake
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon fine raw cane sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado, packed, about 1/2 medium avocado
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark Jamaican rum
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) finely chopped crystallized ginger

Ganache
5 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dark Jamaican rum (optional)
12 pieces thinly sliced crystallized ginger, for garnish

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil an 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides.

Whisk or sift the sugar, flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg into a large bowl and stir with a whisk until well blended.

Put the coconut milk, oil, avocado, rum, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until smooth (or put them in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth). Make a well in the center or the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients and the crystallized ginger. Fold together until uniformly mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Slide a butter knife around the edges, then invert the cake onto a rack and let cool to room temperature.

To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Put the coconut milk, sugar, and cayenne in a small saucepan and heat until steaming hot (avoid boiling), stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly pour over the chocolate and let stand until the chocolate is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until slightly cooled but pourable, about 5 minutes.

To glaze the cake, pour the ganache evenly over the cake and let stand until the ganache is set, about 30 minutes.

Yield: 8 to 16 servings

Enjoy!

 

“An Easy, Elegant, Lemony Pasta Dish”

The above title is in quotes because that’s what the author of the recipe, Bryanna Clark Grogan, calls it.  I figured that’s what I should call it, too, but if left to my own devices, I’d probably name it something like Lemony Spaghetti with Asparagus, Peas and Veggie Ham.  More descriptive, but not as catchy.  Whatever you want to call it, this pasta is CRAZY good.  Seriously.  One of the best pasta dishes on the planet.  Bryanna posted the recipe on her blog and her photo looked enticing.  Given that I already trust her culinary genius (I adore her book, World Vegan Feast – we make and happily eat her Bahn Mi (aka “Saigon Subs”) recipe every New Year’s Eve for some delicious reason), I was eager to give this a try.  I am very, very glad I did.  Wow.

The link to the entire recipe on her blog is below.  If you’re too excited to wait, scroll down and go for it.  It’s not difficult at all.  If you have a moment, let me walk you through it…  First, you’ll be making “Bryanna’s Quick Creamy Sauce for Pasta,” which involves dumping a bunch of stuff in a blender and then heating it until it thickens a bit.  Super easy.  For this particular recipe, lemon juice is added.  Yum.

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Next, blanch some chopped asparagus until crisp-tender.  Since you’re also going to be adding some frozen peas that need to be thawed, I recommend draining the asparagus in a colander with the peas in it.  That way, the hot asparagus water thaws them quickly for you.  Run cold water over the asparagus (and peas, if you went that route) to arrest cooking and set aside.

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You’ll want to get your pasta water going at this point and proceed to cook your pasta according to directions.  (I used brown rice spaghetti.)  Meanwhile, saute thinly sliced veggie ham (I used the Yves brand) for a few minutes, and then add the peas and asparagus and heat up.

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Next add the Creamy Pasta Sauce, along with the parmesan substitute of your choice, and mix well.  It looks a bit soupy at this point, but fear not.  It will continue to thicken gently as it cooks.  Let it bubble over medium heat.

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Once your pasta has cooked, drain and then add to the magical mixture.  Toss until everything is well mixed.

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Get ready for a mouthful of happiness!  Added bonus:  this makes A LOT.  You can either feed a fairly large group, if you have one on hand, or you will be enjoying the leftovers as I’m planning on doing for lunch today.  Seriously yummy.

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Here’s the link:

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/easy-elegant-lemony-pasta-dish.html

Enjoy!  xo

Dreamy Asparagus Risotto

The asparagus crop is looking lovely up here, so I took out one of my favorite recipes and made Asparagus Risotto.  The recipe is adapted from Vegan World Fushion Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi of Blossoming Lotus Cafe fame.  The book is full of wonderful recipes, and this is one that I turn to again and again.  In addition to being delicious this way, it’s also a great base for other risotto recipes.  Instead of asparagus, just add whatever you prefer or have on hand:  peas, mushrooms and thyme, squash… you name it, it will probably work.

To begin, you’ll need some heated liquid on hand and ready to go (either vegetable broth or water).  While the water warms up, simmer shallots in olive oil.  After a few minutes, add arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes.  You want to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn and so that it will be completely coated with the shallot oil.  The next step is to add a hit of acid to the mix, in this case lemon juice but you could use a vinegar instead.  After the lemon juice is absorbed, begin adding your warmed water or broth, stirring until it is fully absorbed.  It will look about like this at this point:

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Meanwhile, cook some asparagus in whatever way you choose.  I went with oven roasting, but steamed or blanched is also perfectly nice.  Once it’s cooked and cooled, cut the asparagus into bite-sized bits.

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Back in the saute pan, you keep on slowly adding liquid and stirring and stirring until the rice has reached the desired consistency (a nice creamy al dente).  Depending on your rice, this will take anywhere from 3 to 5 cups of liquid and 20 to 45 minutes, generally somewhere in between both of those ranges.  Once your last bit of liquid has been absorbed, add the following items to make it dreamy:  coconut milk, tahini, mirin, saffron strands soaked in a bit of water, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  (Note:  the original recipe also calls for adding nutritional yeast, basil, parsley, black pepper and soy sauce, but I’ve dropped those over the years.)

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Stir until all of those ingredients are creamy and well-blended and then add your asparagus bits until heated through.

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Enjoy!  xo

Chocolate Banana Bread – Vegan and Gluten Free!

I made this.  You should, too.  YUM!!!!!

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This super easy and divinely delicious recipe is courtesy of Sarah Yates and her terrific blog, A House in the Hills.  Here’s everything you need to know to make this yourself:

http://ahouseinthehills.com/2014/06/09/vegan-gluten-free-banana-bread-omg/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AHouseInTheHills+%28a+house+in+the+hills%29

Enjoy!  xo