Swoon-worthy BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Avocado Slaw

I love the Minimalist Baker, Dana Schutz, and absolutely recommend connecting with her if you haven’t already.  Her cookbook, blog and Instagram feeds are all worth checking out.  To get you started, here’s a recipe that I recently tried that is DELICIOUS and was a huge hit with my people.  She posted the recipe on her blog, and I’ve included a link below.  The only tweaks I made were coating the buns with Vegenaise, squishing avocado on to one side of the bun, and omitting the cashews (although I’m sure they’d be nice).

The first step is to get your hands on some jackfruit.  I used this canned jackfruit, which I picked up at my local food co-op in the “Asian food” section.  The recipe contains details about exactly what kind of jackfruit to look for.

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After you drain and rinse the jackfruit, you’ll remove the core (the more solid-looking parts), leaving the shreds.  The next step is to toss these shreds in a spice rub, which ends up looking like this:

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Next up, you’re going sizzle this mixture in a hot pan and then simmer it with BBQ sauce (I used Annie’s, but just use your favorite).  As it cooks, use a fork to separate the strands to get a perfect texture.

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While the jackfruit simmers, make the slaw.  Do not be tempted to skip this step – it’s a wonderful part of the final sandwich and it’s simple to make (especially if you take Dana’s recommendation and use the Trader Joe’s cruciferous veggie mix like I did).

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Assemble the sandwich (I quickly toasted some buns in the oven)…

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… and get ready to be very, very happy!

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The link with all of the details:

https://minimalistbaker.com/bbq-jackfruit-sandwiches-with-avocado-slaw/

Enjoy!  xo

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My World Famous 3-Day Lasagne

When I have a special occasion and want to make a stunning feast, I will often turn to this dish.  The initial inspiration came from the lasagne served at Union Square Cafe in New York and featured in their book The Union Square Cafe Cookbook by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano.  While that recipe calls for goat cheese, eggs, and grated parmesan, I have, of course, veganized my version.  My attempts to do so have evolved over time, but I think it is now pretty much perfected so I’m going to share it with you.  And don’t worry, while it’s a bit labor-intensive, you won’t really be working for 3 days to get it into shape.  The name came about because there is one step that requires you to plan ahead because something needs to sit for a few days to deepen the flavors.

As with many lasagne recipes, this one is comprised of a lot of components.  Happily, they can all be made ahead, including the assembling of the dish, which is a great help for your festive occasion; since all you have to do on the night of your dinner party is pop it into the oven, you will be free to have fun with your guests.

Now for the components… let’s start with the one that gave it the title, the one that takes three days, namely the oven-dried tomatoes.  These tomatoes are delicious, juicy, flavorful wonders that can be used in place of sun-dried tomatoes in any recipe, not just this one.  You will need to get your hands on about 2 pounds of plum or Roma tomatoes and split them lengthwise.  Place them on a baking sheet with their cut side up, sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt on them, and let them sit for an hour.  Now put them into a preheated 200 degree oven and roast them for 5 to 6 hours, until they are dried but still plump (not shriveled and leathery like a store-bought sun-dried tomato).  Once they have cooled to room temperature, put them in a storage vessel along with 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 1 fresh rosemary spring (cut in two), 3 sage leaves, and 3 cloves or garlic cloves, halved.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days before using.  Note that these tomatoes will keep for up to 2 weeks if properly stored.

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After they have done their thing in the refrigerator for a few days, they will look like this when you take them out and get ready to use them:

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For this recipe, I make a tomato sauce from scratch.  I start by simmering onion, zucchini, garlic, red bell pepper, and red pepper flakes in olive oil until soft and aromatic, about 25 minutes.

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Next, add canned plum tomatoes and about 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, along with fresh basil, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

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Puree this mixture with an immersion blender and voila – your sauce.

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You will need to make something to stand in for the traditional ricotta of lasagne (or in the case of this recipe, the goat cheese that Union Square Cafe used).  My favorite vegan ricotta recipe is the tried and true one from Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I love how it performs in baked pasta recipes such as this one and definitely recommend it (it’s also in Veganomicon and available all over the internet), but feel free to use any recipe or product that you happen to love.  If you go with the tofu ricotta, it will look like this:

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The last time I made this lasagne, I had a bit of an extra degree of difficulty added to the recipe because one of my guests doesn’t eat soy, so I made a macadamia nut-based ricotta for her.  Problematically, Mr. Man can’t eat many nuts, so this lasagne ended up being half nut-free and half soy-free.  The macadamia ricotta recipe is from Allison Rivers Samson and here’s a link (note:  the entire baked ziti recipe is divine, not just the ricotta!):

https://allisonriverssamson.mykajabi.com/blog/cheesy-vegan-ziti

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The next component is the Mozzarella Sauce from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli.  I adore this sauce (I could just about eat it with a spoon – it’s good on everything!), and I use it as a drizzle on top of the lasagne at the end.  Because it is nut based, on this particular lasagne (as you will see later), I only drizzled it on half of the pan.  But trust me, you’re going to want to slather it on everything!  Because every single thing I’ve made from this book has been delicious, I absolutely recommend that you pick it up at your library or bookstore and play with it yourself.  The mozzarella sauce recipe is on page 237 and involves cashews, lemon juice, salt, garlic, onion powder, cornstarch and magic.

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The final components of the lasagne that require any effort are the veggies that will be layered throughout, specifically eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash.  Slice a large eggplant thinly and evenly, place the slices in a colander and salt both sides of each one.  Place some kind of weight atop them and let them sit for at least 30 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly, pat dry and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle some olive oil over the slices, sprinkle with black pepper, cover with foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until very soft, about 20 minutes.

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Cut one large zucchini into rounds and toss with olive oil, salt and black pepper.  Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.  Repeat with one large yellow squash.  (Do not combine the two squashes as you will be layering them separately.)

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Now it’s time for assembly:

Cover the bottom of a large baking pan with tomato sauce, then put a layer of lasagne on top of the sauce.  (Note – I’ve used both no-bake lasagne sheets as well as lasagne that you need to boil first.  Either is fine.  You will just need to have the one of your choice on hand and ready to go at this point.)  Spread more sauce on top of the lasagne, enough to cover it.  Arrange a layer of eggplant (use half of your eggplant supply) and a layer of zucchini (this will be all of your zucchini) on the sauce.  Next, spread half of your ricotta.  As you can see below, half of this pan has the tofu ricotta (left), while the other half is macadamia ricotta (right).

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Top this layer with some of the oven-dried tomatoes:

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Beginning with a layer of pasta, repeat the above steps, only this time use up your yellow squash.  You should have used up your eggplant, your ricotta and your tomatoes. Your final layer will be a layer of pasta, a covering of tomato sauce and a slathering of mozzarella sauce:

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Cover the lasagne in foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.  Here is the nut-based side, including the mozzarella sauce drizzle:

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And here is the nut-free zone, with the tofu ricotta and no drizzle:

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They’re both delicious, but my personal favorite way to build this dish is to mix everything together!  Both kinds of ricotta (in alternate layers) with tons of the mozzarella sauce drizzle is heavenly, indeed.  But just as I did, feel free to make this your own.

Since I don’t always have this much time and effort to spend on a meal, I am happy to report that I have also recently perfected what I’ve dubbed my “Everyday Lasagne,” which comes together quickly and easily.  I will be posting that soon.  In the meantime…

Enjoy!  xo

The Most Unhealthy Thing I’ve Ever Made (aka Nate Cake)

One of Queenie’s friends, Nate, recently celebrated a birthday, and I attempted to make him the cake of his dreams in honor of the day.  Yes, his dream cake.  Some months ago, our families sat around a table, wistfully discussing some of the most delicious things we’d ever eaten and dreaming up the most delicious things we could imagine eating.  During this discussion, Nate declared that the ultimate cake would contain the following:  a layer of Twinkies, a layer of frosting, a brownie layer, a layer of whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

My stomach turns slightly just typing that, but we decided that if that’s what he wants, that’s what he’s going to get, veganized of course!

The first layer presented the first challenge because Twinkies are definitely not vegan.  Like most (if not all) of the Hostess snack line, they contain beef fat (or tallow), so we were going to have to find or make a vegan version.  Thankfully, our fabulous local vegan grocery store, Vegan Haven, carries Dillos, and they had enough in stock to create Nate’s first dream layer.  In case you’re not fortunate enough to live near Vegan Haven, here’s a link to help you track them down:

https://store.veganessentials.com/dillos-creme-filled-snack-cakes-by-cakewalk-baking-co-p2706.aspx

Next up, I made the classic vanilla buttercream frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and put it in the ‘fridge while I got things ready.  You should own this book, but if you don’t, here’s the recipe:

http://www.food.com/recipe/vegan-basic-vanilla-fluffy-buttercream-frosting-453377

Next up, I made the brownie recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, and it turned out great.  Because it was larger than the amount of space that would be taken up by the “Twinkie” layer, I had to do a little figuring and cutting to make it just right.

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First I just sat the wrapped Dillos on top of the brownies to eyeball what I’d need to do.  Next, I spread a layer of the frosting on a cake pan, figuring that this would not only be tasty (more frosting!), but it would also serve to anchor the Dillos.

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Once I placed the Dillos on the frosting, that gave me the dimensions of the cake and what size to trim the brownie layer.  Measuring happened.

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The next step was to thoroughly frost the Dillo layer, including all of the cracks and crevices.  Frosting, frosting and more frosting.

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I placed the brownie layer atop the frosted Dillos very carefully…

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… and frosted the sides of the brownie layer to make it seem like one cohesive cake.  I left the top unfrosted because it gets a different treatment (but it would also work to frost the whole thing).

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I left the cake like this until right before serving, at which point I topped it with whipped cream, which needed to stay cold until we were ready to serve.  Specifically, I used So Delicious Coco Whip, which I had never used before.  Oh my – love it!  Light, fluffy, divine.  I bought it frozen at Vegan Haven and then thawed it in the refrigerator, where it sat until its big moment.  Here’s some info about it:

http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/coconut-milk-frozen-desserts/cocowhip-original

Once I’d spread a nice, thick layer of the Coco Whip on top of the brownie, I drizzled chocolate sauce (Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup) on top.

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I honestly only thought that Nate and Queenie would dare to try this messy creation, but all of the adults, myself included, dug in as well.  It was surprisingly tasty and unsurprisingly nausea-inducing!  That’s a whole lot of sugar for my constitution.  But the guest of honor was happy, so I put this in the win column!  If you have a sugar fiend in your midst, he or she might just like it, too.

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Enjoy!  xo

Battle of the Breakfast Tacos

In one corner, we have the “Diner Breakfast Tacos” from Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten; and in the other corner, we have the “Supreme Bacon, Scramble and Cheese Tacos” from The Taco Cleanse by Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger and Jessica Morris.  Who will be named the champ?  Let’s find out…

The Diner Breakfast Tacos come out swinging with a delicious single-pan taco filling concoction comprised of potatoes, onion, vegan sausage, tofu, spinach and spices.  It comes together beautifully.  Quite swoon-worthy.

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But the secret weapon of this taco is baking the tortillas with some cheese shreds before filling.  Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

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Put these together, and it’s quite a one-two punch.  The recipe calls for adding salsa, sour cream and/or avocado, all of which would be fun but none of which are necessary.  These tacos are delightful as is.

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And what does the Supreme Bacon, Scramble and Cheese Taco have up its sleeve?  While the tacos above are light and nimble on their feet, happy to spar and trade jabs, these Supreme Tacos are big, heavy sluggers.  Three different components come together in a corn tortilla, and it’s quite a feast.  First, there’s tasty tempeh bacon cubes with a perfectly balanced, scrumptious mix of flavors.

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Next comes a deliciously flavored tofu “scramble” that goes heavy on the nutritional yeast (yum!).  The word scramble is in quotes because this is a baked tofu treatment, and while the authors call it a scramble, it’s certainly not a traditional one.  It is, however, wonderful and quite simple to prepare.

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The final filling element for this taco is a cheese sauce.  There are recipes for home-made sauces in the book, and I bet they’re great, but I used the Heidi Ho Organics Creamy Chia Cheeze, which never disappoints and takes two seconds to heat up.

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Put all of that together and you’ve got a knockout punch of taste and texture.

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So who gets the trophy?  I’ve conferred with the judges and it’s… a TIE!  These are both insanely good tacos that will make you happy at any time of day (breakfast tacos for dinner has become quite popular around here).  While they are very different, they are both perfect.  It simply comes down to what you’re in the mood for.

I recommend picking up both books (every recipe I’ve made from both of them has been excellent), but if you google these specific recipes, you’ll find them reprinted in something that seems to be called google books.  I am not familiar with this platform and don’t know if it’s done with author permission, so I’m not linking here, but it’s easily located if you’re so inclined.  But again, BUY THESE BOOKS!

Enjoy!  xo

Chickenless Noodle Soup

This recipe is called “No-Bird Noodle Soup” in the book from which it hails, Eat Like You Give a Damn:  Recipes for the New Ethical Vegan by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten.  Before we get into the recipe that I’m featuring today, I must spend a few moments telling you how FANTASTIC this cookbook is!!!  Seriously fantastic.  Must-end-up-in-your-collection fantastic.

The authors are the creators of the Herbivore clothing line and the owners and proprietors of the Herbivore shop in Portland, Oregon.  If you’re ever in Portland, you’ll be happy if you make a point of visiting their store, which is full of their creations, as well as other snazzy vegan finds such as bags, belts, wallets, jewelry and quite possibly the most comprehensive vegan cookbook selection on the planet.  Luckily for you, you can also visit them online:

http://www.herbivoreclothing.com/

On a recent visit to Portland, I picked up the Eat Like You Give a Damn book at the store and I am thrilled that I did.  I have now made eight recipes from the book, and all eight are spectacular.  Not just pretty good, GREAT!  That’s an abnormally high ratio of awesome.  To make your mouth water, I will tell you that I’ve made the Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Walnuts, Apricots, and Garlic Aioli; the Smoky Cauliflower Soup with Fennel, Carrot, and Potato; the Herbivore Chili (that is so good my daughter, who doesn’t really like chili, had two bowls for dinner and then asked for it in her lunch the next day); the Savory Chickpea Pancakes; the Curry-Barbecue Soy Curls Bowl; the Classic Skillet Cornbread; and the Don’t-Be-Blue Cheese Dressing.

And, of course, the No-Bird Noodle Soup that I want to share with you today.  The flavors in this recipe come together to create a wholly satisfying bowl of deliciousness, one that is very reminiscent of my (somewhat distant) memories of what chicken noodle soup is supposed to taste like.  All I know for sure is that I loved it and my family happily slurped it up.  Let me walk you through the components, and there’s a link with specifics at the bottom…

Standing in for the chicken chunks are some tasty, happy, cruelty-free tofu chunks that have been sizzled with nutritional yeast and tamari.

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Next you’ll be creating the comforting soup base, with its herbed broth and chunks of carrots, celery and onion.  To this, you will add angel hair or spaghetti.

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The last step is to add in the tofu cubes and any nice brown bits from the pan, and you will end up with a delicious bowl of soup that resembles this:

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I found the recipe at this blog, which seems to be authorized (the blog’s author received an advance copy to review), so I’m sharing it here.  But PLEASE, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and get this book!  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Tofu ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup

Enjoy!  xo

Scrambled Tortillas

If you’re looking for a hearty dish to make on a wintry weekend, look no further than this one, which hails from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s terrific book, Vegan Brunch.  It’s not the most photogenic dish (as the author notes, it “might not photograph well but is darn hard to stop eating”), but don’t hold that against it.  It’s somewhat unique and super tasty.  Try it – you’ll see!

First, you steam corn tortillas and then fry them up in a pan with onions and jalapeno.

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Then you add soft tofu to the mix until everything’s coated.

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Meanwhile, you will be doing two things.  First, steaming sliced potatoes:

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Second, making a quick sauce that is basically seasoned tomato sauce (featuring garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder):

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At this point, the tortilla mixture should be getting nice browned bits.  (Be sure to use a very thin spatula so that you don’t lose this yumminess on the bottom of your pan).  While the outside of the tortillas is browning, rest assured that the inside is tender and scrumptious.

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The final step is to fold the steamed potatoes into the tortillas.  Once they are mixed, dish it out and top with the sauce and anything else you’d like (guacamole and vegan sour cream come to mind).

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Enjoy!  xo

 

Seriously Great Tofu Scramble

I love tofu scrambles.  I make a lot of different scrambles with a lot of different vibes and I enjoy them all.  If I had to crown the King of All Scrambles, though, that prize might have to go to this one.  It’s a heavy duty, seriously filling, decadent sort of scramble that feels just right on a lazy, cozy weekend morning.  I came upon it via the Hot Knives guys, and their link provides a full demonstration so I won’t replicate that here.  I will say that the one tweak I made was adding just a smidge of black salt (aka Kala Namak) during the seasoning sessions.  Not vital but mighty nice (and eggy).  And I will also say that the technique of letting the scramble sit for a bit leads to heavenly browned bits, a technique that should be used every time you make a scramble.  Final thought:  you can use this recipe as a base and just add whatever ingredients you are craving at the time.  The sausage definitely makes it a lot heavier, so when you’re not feeling it, just leave it out.  Or put in more veggies.  Or… no rules!

Here’s the link:

http://urbanhonking.com/hotknives/2013/10/22/yachts-tofu-scramble-secrets/

And here’s a quick pic of my scramble in process.  Look at those browned bits!!!

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Yum.  Enjoy!  xo