Refreshing Grapefruit-Fennel Juice

This is my birthday weekend!  The actual birthday was yesterday, and today, Mr. Man, Queenie and I are going to celebrate at the Herb Farm in Woodinville, where we will partake in a 9-course tasting menu that will span 4 hours!  The Herb Farm is not a vegan restaurant, but they have happily agreed to craft vegan tasting menus for Queenie and me, pairing each course with a non-alcoholic beverage.  Mr. Man will be having a vegetarian tasting menu, with each course paired with wine.  I will be driving.

Given that we have such an indulgent evening lined up, I decided that my lunch today would be very, very, very light.  I made this grapefruit-fennel juice and enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d share the recipe.  What I used:  2 pink grapefruit (peeled); 2 Granny Smith apples; 1 bulb of fennel; 1/2 lemon (peeled).

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Run it all through your juicer, and voila!  Wonderfully refreshing juice with a pretty pink hue.

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Even if you’re not planning on embarking on a marathon feast, it’s a great juice to have in your repertoire.  Enjoy!  xo

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Entertaining, Vegan-Style: Mother-Daughter Book Club

I had to share about the fun afternoon we had today!

Before we moved from LA to the Pacific Northwest, Queenie started reading a series of books entitled The Mother-Daughter Book Club.  We talked about them as she read them, and I thought that the premise was quite fun:  a group of moms and their daughters reads a different classic book each month and gets together to talk about it, along with snacks that connect, at least loosely, to the book.

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I thought this would be a fun idea to try up here in our new world, and today was the kick-off meeting of our club.  Queenie picked Little Women for our first book, both because she wanted to read it and because it was the first book that the characters in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series read.

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I hadn’t read this book since I was about Queenie’s age, and given how long ago that was and how many film adaptations I’ve seen since then, I was surprised at how many details I’d forgotten from the original text.  It was a real treat to spend time with and think about this book and share it with Queenie, although we just barely finished it in time… she was reading the last two chapters to me as I was preparing the snacks for the meeting!  Whew – that was close.

Queenie prepared some “Fun Facts” about the author to share with the group, and it helped launch a very fun, lively discussion.

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In honor of the March sisters, we prepared an afternoon tea for our guests.

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Along with fresh mint tea, we offered an assortment of finger sandwiches.  These are white bean puree and arugula on olive rolls:

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This tray features two types of “eggless salad” (i.e., tofu salad) sandwiches, a curried salad with green apple, and a more traditional salad with celery and carrot:

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We had one gluten-free diner, so we prepared one of each kind of sandwich using gluten-free bread for her:

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This is the divine broccoli quiche from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch, prepared without a crust for the aforementioned gluten-free friend:

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And what tea would be complete without sweets?  In addition to an assortment of fresh berries, we made coconut macaroons…

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… and chocolate truffles, the recipes for which came from Eric Lechasseur’s wonderful macrobiotic cookbook, Love, Eric, which means not only are they vegan, but they are free of processed sugar.  Yay.

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Queenie and I had a wonderful time hosting and spending time with some of the terrific women and girls we’ve met up here.  It felt like a good time was had by all.

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xo

Kale and Roasted Potato Salad

There are many delicious versions of this salad out there, but this is my favorite.  I used to make it a lot a few years ago, but I got a little burned out and took a break from it.  I dusted the recipe off yesterday, though, and made it for Queenie’s lunch (and my breakfast – yum).  When she saw it, she jumped for joy.  It is officially back in the rotation.

The recipe came from the Martha Stewart Living magazine from some years back.  Happily, the recipe was vegan to begin with, so I didn’t need to do any tweaking.  To make it, roast about a pound and a half of sliced potatoes (fingerlings are perfect) and some thinly sliced red onion in a little olive oil, salt and pepper until the potatoes are tender and the onions caramelize (about 40 minutes at 450), stirring them once or twice during the cooking process.  Some of the potatoes will get crispy and some of the onions slightly burnt, but I love it that way.  If you don’t, you’ll need to keep a close watch on them.  Meanwhile, whisk together 1-1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small bowl and have it standing by.  In a large skillet, cook 1 clove of garlic in olive oil until lightly browned (about 2 minutes), then add a pound of kale that has been cleaned, stemmed and chopped into large pieces (2 bunches of lacinato kale did the trick for me).  Cook until the kale is wilted and tender, about 6 minutes, then add the mustard-lemon mixture and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with a little salt, and then toss with the potatoes.  Voila!  Great texture, wonderful taste.  Happiness in a bowl.

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Enjoy!  xo

Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach

This is what Queenie enjoyed for lunch yesterday.  The recipe hails from Isa Chadra Moskowitz’s book, Appetite for Reduction, and she sums it up quite nicely:  “This is a perfect, no-nonsense recipe for when you want your pasta, protein and veggies all in one big bowl, and don’t want to futz around too much.”  Yep.  It’s quick, easy, hearty and tasty, easily whipped up for a school lunch or a quick dinner.  It’s tomatoes (canned this time of year, but fresh ones in the summer elevate it, to be sure), a healthy dose of garlic, white beans, pasta, spinach and a few seasonings.  Simple and delish.  Sorry the photo’s so messy.  I was focused on getting Queenie ready for school and not on making the food look pretty for its close-up.  It’s much tastier and more attractive than this pic would suggest!

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Enjoy!  xo

Arancini with Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce

For dinner last night, I tried something new, namely the arancini recipe from the Candle 79 Cookbook.  In case you’re not familiar with them, arancini are fried rice balls coated in bread crumbs.  They reportedly originated in Sicily, and they are generally stuffed with mozarella and accompanied by either a meat or tomato sauce.  Obviously, this recipe has been veganized by the talented folks at Candle 79, and since I’ve had good luck with other recipes from their book, I thought I’d give it a shot.

First, I made a batch of Candle’s roasted plum tomato sauce.  At this time of year, I opted for canned plum tomatoes, which worked just fine.  It’s a simple recipe, involving only the tomatoes, olive oil, onion, basil and salt, but it worked perfectly with the arancini.

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The first step in making the arancini themselves is to make the most basic risotto I’ve ever seen.  It starts out like a pretty standard risotto:  saute some shallots in olive oil, add the Arborio rice until coated, pour in some white wine, then start adding water until the desired tenderness is reached.  However, no further seasonings are added during the cooking process.  This is some pretty bland rice.  I was getting a little worried.

Once it’s cooked, you remove the rice from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya, which the book recommends) and a little parsley.  Then it sits and cools for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, stir together another 1/4 cup of Daiya and an equal amount of cooked tempeh bacon.  Sounds odd, but just go with it.  You will have two bowls of stuff that look like this:

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Once the rice has cooled enough to handle, the idea is to form it into balls.  I had some trouble at first, as it was both sticky and falling apart.  However, I just worked it a little more vigorously, and it cooperated.  The next step is to get about a teaspoon of the tempeh mixture into the ball.  The book describes the technique thus:  “…make an indentation in the center (of the rice ball) that extends halfway into the ball.  Fill with … the tempeh mixture, then roll to cover the filling.”  My filling process wasn’t as controlled as this sounds, but it did work, for the most part (there were some errant pieces of both Daiya and tempeh bacon here and there, but that didn’t end up being a problem).  Final prep step:  roll the filled balls in bread crumbs.

Next, you fry the balls in a bit of olive oil, turning them often, until they are golden brown.  Serve with the tomato sauce.  While my finished product wasn’t as elegant as the photos in the cookbook, they had a lovely, crispy outside texture and a nice, melty interior.  They also tasted great!  The various flavors really do come together beautifully.  It wasn’t bland at all – yay.

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This is a messy, fun, tasty recipe, and a great one to tackle with a friend or family member.  Have fun with it!

Enjoy!  xo