Thursday, May 14, 2015

VEGAN GOOD NEWS!


I'm posting this picture of the delicious vegan Pad Thai that I got for lunch on Mother's Day from Dao Palate because, well, I'm way behind on writing a new post for the blog and I just needed something to get your attention. The real reason I'm posting right now is because I have HUGE NEWS to share. The news is: I GOT MY FIRST COOKBOOK DEAL!!!!!

Now, I can't tell you the details of the book but I can tell you that it will come out next year, and it is a specialty cookbook, full of vegan recipes centered around one main type of ingredient. And you will NEVER guess what the ingredient is! I really think this cookbook will make big waves among vegans and omnivores alike. I can't wait to share more with you about it, and will do so as soon as my publisher (that's the first time I've said "my publisher"!) allows.

And if that is not exciting enough, I have even MORE GOOD NEWS! I have yet another new job to tell you about! In just a few short weeks I will be starting as the new Customer Service Manager for Vaute Couture, the innovative and inspiring, eco-conscious and ethical, all-vegan fashion line founded by the animal-loving and lovely Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart. I have made my love for Vaute Couture previously known in this blog, and my husband even photographs her collections sometimes, so I am beyond excited to work with someone whom I both admire and call a friend.

Leanne and I met to discuss this opportunity at Dun-Well Doughnuts, and if there weren't reason enough to join her team, these vegan delights being conveniently located near the new VC headquarters would have sealed the deal. So hooray for vegan doughnuts, hooray for vegan fashion, and hooray for vegan cookbooks! I feel truly blessed to have so many good things - vegan good things! - happening in my life right now. I can't wait to share more with you soon.
xo
Leinana


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Veggie Pasta (and adventures in meringue making)


I've got another springy recipe for you today, a lemony pasta loaded with spring veggies, but first an update on the vegan meringue situation in my house. In my last post I told you how I've become obsessed with following this Vegan Meringue page, where people post all of their experiments working with the now-famous aquafaba (aka bean juice). I finally had a chance to try my hand at making some, and I started with the most basic meringue cookie recipe.

My first attempt was a near-hit, but then a miss. The aquafaba whipped up beautifully, just like egg whites, into perfect stiff peaks. But then I got too fancy and decided to add some flavor and coloring. My son was helping, and his favorite color is yellow, so we decided on lemon flavor and yellow coloring. The problem was that my lemon flavor was made from essential lemon oil, and apparently meringues and oil don't mix well, so when I added it (1/2 tsp.) my meringue quickly deflated and turned into a soupy mess. I had to toss it out and start over.

Before flavoring was added
And after. :(
I did add a little yellow color to the second batch, but skipped the flavor, and then used a piping bag to create the cookies. They turned out really good! They are perfectly dry and crisp, but then melt away in your mouth when you eat them. I am still working up the courage to attempt a batch of vegan macarons. I can admit that I'm a little intimidated!

Finished product. Cute little meringue cookies.
And just in case you're wondering what to do with those chickpeas, which now suddenly seem like the leftover part of the can that I have to use up, there's always hummus of course, or you can make a scrumptious Chana Masala (Indian Spiced Chickpeas), like I did, pictured below. I used the recipe at the link, but added some frozen spinach to mine.

Sorry hummus, curry wins every time.

But enough of my adventures in aquafaba-land. Back to lemony Spring Veggie Pasta! I seem to be in a phase where the only dishes I can make that the ENTIRE family will eat are pastas or rice-based dishes. This gets tricky because my husband insists that he only likes "plain" pasta which, for him, is linguine with marinara sauce (I swear, he is more fun and exciting than this makes him sound), but I tire of that quickly and am always looking for more interesting pasta dishes to make. This one has a lemony, light cream sauce, with plenty of veggies. My husband claims to hate cream sauces but apparently the lemon won him over in this one, and he happily ate two generous helpings.  I also love a lemony sauce over pasta, and this one was a perfect spring meal that I will gladly make again. The recipe is from Cooking Light, I just veganized it for you, below.

Spring Veggie Pasta
veganized version of this recipe

serves 4

2 tsp. olive oil
5 oz. thinly diagonally sliced baby carrots (about 1 cup)
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup fresh asparagus tips
1/2 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon rind, divided
5 oz. vegan cream cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. pasta, your choice (I used fusilli, but wide noodles would be good too)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, mint, or parsley

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots; sauté 1 minute. Add vegetable stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 4 minutes. Add asparagus, peas, and 1 teaspoon lemon rind; simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and vegetables are crisp-tender. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, vegan cream cheese, and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

3. Add noodles to vegetable mixture; toss to coat. Stir in 1/4 cup cooking liquid; add additional cooking liquid as needed to thin sauce. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rind and dill over pasta mixture. Divide pasta mixture into 4 shallow bowls. Serve immediately.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Risotto Primavera, and a very long aside about vegan macarons!


Happy spring everyone! Since my last post we paid tribute to the goddess Eostre with ancient symbols of fertility and renewed life, by gorging ourselves on vegan jelly beans and a chocolate bunny from our favorite chocolatier Lagusta's Luscious. Or, you know, we celebrated Easter.

Now that we've successfully managed to get the Easter candy out of the house, I swore off any more sweets... until I fell down the rabbit hole that is this Facebook page dedicated to Vegan Meringue. OMG DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS? The whole vegan food blogging community has gone certifiably and justifiably bonkers about this discovery that THE GOOPY LIQUID FROM A CAN OF CHICKPEAS CAN BE WHIPPED INTO A VEGAN MERINGUE! And not just meringues, you guys, we're talking any recipe that traditionally uses egg whites, and yes, I mean... FRENCH MACARONS.

Now if my all-caps excitement doesn't convey how much this means to me, let me tell you. As I have mentioned before in this blog, I lived for 3 1/2 years in Paris while I went to school. It was there where I tasted my first macaron from the famed Ladurée. I received a box as a gift and to this day, in my mind it is one of the best gifts I ever received. The macarons were a revelation. The crisp cookie shell, the way they delicately melt in your mouth when you eat them, and of course all those wonderful colors and flavors. Such beautiful little treats

For the longest time, macarons were probably the ONE thing (yes, even more than cheese) that I missed as a vegan. I remember a few years ago at a holiday party I was talking to a certain vegan cookbook author (yes, you know her, she's one of the most famous ones) and I mentioned how badly I wished I could veganize macarons. She was doubtful that it could be done properly. I thought, "Well if SHE hasn't figured out how to do it, nobody can!" Then fast forward a few years when I discovered Sweet Maresa macarons at one of the Brooklyn Vegan Shop-Ups. My heart leaped! Vegan macarons! They were perfect. It was like I had found the holy grail. Sweet Maresa macarons look and taste perfect, and if you haven't discovered them yet, you should order some up RIGHT NOW. 

But now that someone has discovered the magic of aquafaba (term coined by the now-famous Goose Wohlt, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba) we can all make our own vegan macarons at home! This is a huge coup for ambitious vegan home bakers. I can't wait to try my first batch. I so desperately want to master those little gems. 

But let's be real, few of us have the time to whip up a batch of macarons (they're not easy). But you do have time to make a nice pot of risotto, and if it's raining where you are today, like it is here, risotto is just the perfect thing. This one has mushrooms and peas, and just a touch of cream, so it is rich and satisfying but not heavy. I got this recipe from Cooking Light and the only thing I did to veganize it was to replace the mascarpone for vegan cream cheese, and I left off the parmesan. You can serve it with vegan parmesan if you want, but I didn't think it needed it. 

Risotto Primavera
veganized version of this recipe

Serves 4 

2 1/2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese (vegan sour cream works too)
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
vegan Parmesan, for serving (optional)

1. Bring stock and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.

2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, 2 teaspoons thyme, and mushrooms; cook 4 minutes. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add wine; cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup stock mixture to pan; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes). Remove pan from heat. Stir in peas, parsley, cream cheese, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and vegan Parmesan cheese, if using.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Vegetarian Times' General Tso's Tofu


Just wanted to share with you this recipe for General Tso's Tofu that I tried recently, from the Vegetarian Times March issue. I am a huge fan of General Tso's Tofu, if it is on the menu it's the first thing I always try at any new Chinese restaurant that we go to or order delivery from. The sticky, sweet, slightly spicy combination is one of my all time favorite comfort food dishes. This recipe gives you all that sticky sweet gloriousness without the deep-fried shame spiral, as the tofu is marinated and then baked until it is crispy and browned on the outside and tender on the inside. You need to allot a little bit of time for pressing and then marinading the tofu, but it is well worth the advanced planning for this dish. Served alongside simply steamed broccoli and rice, it is a perfectly satisfying meal, and if you cook Asian food regularly, chances are you will have most or all of these ingredients already.

I just realized that I'm posting back to back tofu dishes, but what can I say? We eat a lot of tofu in this house. This dish is such a good thing, so seriously, make it and enjoy!

Again, find the recipe here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Asian Barbecued Tofu with Miso Corn-Edamame Salad


I tore out this recipe for Spicy Barbecued Chicken with Miso Corn from the October 2014 issue of Food & Wine, and have been meaning to veganize it ever since. The photo just stopped me in my tracks, not because I wanted to eat chicken, but because something about the combination of barbecue sauce and grilled corn instantly sent me off dreaming about warmer weather and picnics in the park and cookouts and weekends at the beach with the kids... you know, summer stuff. After a particularly brutal winter and an incredibly stressful move, I found this recipe again among a shockingly large stack of recipe clippings (seriously, I think I have a problem) and knew that the time had finally come to try this one out.

It not being summer yet, corn is still not in season, but luckily I almost always have frozen corn in my freezer, as well as edamame. I thought a succotash-type salad would be a great accompaniment to some barbecued tofu. I didn't change anything at all for the barbecue sauce recipe, I simply marinated one package of extra-firm tofu in it, instead of chicken, then sliced and grilled it. This barbecue sauce is mind-meltingly good. It is slightly spicy and sweet and truly finger-licking good. I spooned the leftover marinade generously on the grilled tofu slices, and poured the small remainder over some rice the next day because I didn't want to waste a drop of it. The corn and edamame salad is buttery and miso-y, and is a perfect accompaniment to the spicy sweet tofu. This dish is great because you can make it any time of year, but will be really perfect to take on picnics too, once the weather warms up.

Like I said, I didn't really change the barbecue sauce, but I adapted the corn recipe so that it worked with frozen kernels instead of whole ears. Let's make this and meet in Prospect Park!

Asian Barbecued Tofu with Miso Corn-Edamame Salad
serves 2-4

Tofu:
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 15-oz. package extra-firm tofu, pressed

Corn:
1-2 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. white miso
1/2 scallion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame (shelled)

1. Prepare the tofu. In a large bowl, stir together all of the ingredients except the tofu. Add the tofu and let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, turning over midway through so that both sides are coated evenly.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the corn and edamame salad. In a small bowl, mix the butter, sesame oil, miso and scallion together. Add the corn and edamame, toss to coat evenly. 

3. Heat a grill pan* on high and brush with canola oil or use cooking spray. Cut the tofu into 8 even slices (cut width-wise) and grill 4-5 minutes on each side, until you have nice char marks, brushing the leftover marinade on the slices as they cook. 

4. Saute your corn and edamame salad in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for several minutes, until vegetables are heated all the way through. Serve warm or at room temperature alongside the tofu, garnished with sliced scallion. If you have any leftover marinade, feel free to pour that on top of the tofu slices. 

*If you don't have a grill pan, a regular non-stick pan is fine too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

PlantPure Nation: Ethiopian Lentil Stew


In my last post I reviewed Love Fed, a raw food dessert book from BenBella Books. For this post, I have two more titles from BenBella that I have recently tested out, and fallen in love with! First up is The PlantPure Nation Cookbook, by Kim Campbell, daughter-in-law of T. Colin Campbell whom you might know as the co-author of The China Study. We are huge fans of The China Study book in this house and have sent copies to many of our family members, where it goes largely unheeded, but that's another story. Anyway, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is the companion book to the documentary film PlantPure Nation, executive produced and directed by Nelson Campbell (husband to Kim and son to T. Colin, if you're keeping track), which will be released this summer. This is the same creative team that brought us the film Forks Over Knives, so I have no doubt that this will be another must-see documentary that will combine inspiring story-telling with a simple, science-based approach to show us all how a vegan lifestyle can, you know, save your life and the rest of the planet too.

But back to the food. Pictured above is the most mouth-wateringly delicious Ethiopian Lentil Stew (recipe below). I love love love Ethiopian food, and as soon as I saw this recipe I couldn't wait to try it. The base of almost every Ethiopian recipe is a very complex spice mix called berbere, which can be very difficult to find, but Campbell helpfully includes a recipe (also below!) so that you can make your own mix and keep it on hand. The lentil stew had the wonderful berbere seasoning as well as butternut squash and spinach. I made it early in the day to have for dinner later, and it tasted even better after it sat for a few hours, allowing all the flavors to meld. And it was yet again even better the next day, when we finished up the leftovers. This recipe is going into my regular rotation, so I hope you make it and enjoy!

But that's not the only recipe I tested from the PlantPure Nation book - I pretty much always have to try a mac & cheese recipe if one's included. This Macaroni & No Cheese is baked and features a cheesy sauce made from cashews, butternut squash, nutritional yeast, and of course other seasonings. I added some peas and carrots to the mix to try to sneak in some extra veggies for the kids, but when they picked them out I could still be silently happy that I was at least making them eat squash. Solid, easy, and tasty.


These Gingerbread-Blueberry Pancakes were a special weekend treat. They were thick and hearty, and wonderfully spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Warming and delicious.


And I made this Broccoli Salad because it reminded me so much of a very similar recipe that my dear friend Wendy gave me last year. The veggies are mixed with raisins, sunflower seeds, and vegan bacon bits (I used tempeh bacon) and a mayo-mustard-agave dressing. It's smoky and sweet and crunchy and chewy all at the same time. Just calling it Broccoli Salad really undersells it, because it's so good.


And finally, before we get to the recipe, I also reviewed another title from BenBella, The Best Green Smoothies on the Planet by Tracy Russell. It has 150 recipes for, yep, you guessed it, green smoothies, helpfully categorized according to their main benefits: Detox & Cleansing, Weight Loss, Antioxidant, Fitness & Energy, Immune-Boosting, Calcium-Rich, Heart Healthy, Iron-Rich, and Mood-Enhancing. We have a serious green smoothie addiction in my house because, as I have mentioned, I have a vegetable-averse toddler. He will pick out the most microscopic "green thing" out of his food, but ironically will happily down just about any green smoothie that I make for him. It's an excellent way to get your greens in, whether you're a picky toddler or a busy adult. Some of the combinations I tried were the Banana-Pineapple-Spinach, the "Green Machine", the Mango-Kiwi, the Chocolate-Peanut Butter (because of course I did), and the Coconut-Goji Berry. I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of pictures of green smoothies though, so just have a look at my adorable baby girl drinking the Banana-Pineapple one here.


And finally, the exciting part. Thanks again to BenBella Books for granting permission to publish this recipe. As I mentioned, it can be hard to find in stores, but if you want to purchase your own berbere mix instead of making it, Amazon has it here.

Ethiopian Stew

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 45–60 minutes

This is an easy slow-cooked or one-pot dish. It is slightly spicy, sweet, and rich in flavors. This recipe uses berbere spice, which is a key ingredient in many Ethiopian dishes. It’s a combination of more than ten individual spices. It can be difficult to locate, but you can make your own (below). I also have purchased berbere through Amazon.

1½ cups dried lentils
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ tablespoons Berbere Spice (below)
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 red onion, diced medium
2 cups diced butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons pureed ginger
2 cups chopped frozen spinach

1. Put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45–60 minutes. Do not overcook because the lentils will turn to mush.
2. Add water if necessary to thin the stew. I sometimes like to add extra tomato paste for a richer flavor.

Berbere Spice

Yields: 6–7 tablespoons
Prep Time: 5–10 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes

This is a combination spice used in many Ethiopian recipes. Depending on where you buy this, you can get varied levels of heat. It’s not always an easy spice to find, so I did once purchase some online. However, I discovered that simply making my own is cheaper and more adaptable. Here’s a mild-heat version.

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Love Fed: Maple Banana Tiramisu Trifle

Maple Banana Tiramisu Trifle
Love Fed is a new raw food, plant-based dessert un-cookbook from Christina Ross.  I was happy to receive a copy for review from BenBella Books because after a long, cold winter, I still have a sweet tooth but I'm trying to lighten things up a bit. Raw desserts are an excellent way to feel like you're indulging, and yet still be healthy at the same time.

Love Fed is an informative, good-looking book with plenty of enticing pictures and recipes. Just some of the dishes that I have flagged to try out are: Triple Layer German Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Almond Hazelnut Caramel Apple Torte, Lemon Ginger Kiwi Tart, and a Banana Toffee Pie. All raw!

The first recipe I tried was a total winner: Mini Mint Chocolate Brownies. The "brownie" is a combination of ground pecans, cacao powder, agave nectar, and almond butter, with a fudge-y ganache-like topping. They are moist, chocolatey, and oh so satisfying. The funny thing about raw desserts is that even though they taste good enough to make you want to go in for seconds, they are so nutrient-dense that they are utterly satisfying, even after just a small portion. You don't need to grab another piece. But you might anyway, because chocolate!

Mini Mint Chocolate Brownies


And the next recipe I tried was the Maple Banana Tiramisu Trifle, pictured at the top. Like the brownies, this was another really easy recipe to make, it came together quickly, and required no time in the refrigerator to chill or set. It's made with bananas that fill in for the ladyfingers of a traditional tiramisu, layered with a sweetened cream made of cashews, almond milk, cold-brewed coffee, and seasonings. The chocolate sauce drizzle was also practically instant to make, and then some more cacao powder was gently sifted on top. This was a rich and decadent dessert that my whole family devoured, including my toddler who took a big lick right off the top of the dish after I took the picture. If that face isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is! 

If I had to make any criticism at all, it would be that making raw food recipes can be really quite costly. Ingredients like cacao powder, cacao butter, lucuma, and maca powder are very expensive and hard to find unless you shop online or have a well-stocked health food store nearby. Ross uses ample amounts of those in many recipes, as well as easier to find but also expensive items like raw nuts, agave nectar and pure maple syrup. Our weekly grocery budget doesn't allow me to fit items like these in all the time, but it's certainly worth a splurge once in a while. 

BenBella Books was kind enough to grant permission for me to publish the recipe below, so please make this and enjoy! Love Fed is full of other equally enticing and indulgent treats, so if you are interested in adding some raw desserts to your repertoire, you can't go wrong with this book. 


Maple Banana Tiramisu Trifle

Yield: 2 mini trifles
Prep time: 30 minutes

This is my raw-vegan mash-up of two favorite European desserts: English trifle and Italian tiramisu. The result is a sophisticated dessert worthy of any fancy tabletop.

CREAM
1 c. cashews, soaked and drained
1⁄8 tsp. sea salt
1⁄4 c. almond milk
1⁄4 c. cold-brewed coffee or 1 tsp. coffee extract
1⁄4 c. maple syrup
1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice

CHOCOLATE SAUCE DRIZZLE
1 tbsp. cacao powder
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1⁄4 tsp. vanilla extract 
3 bananas
11/2 tsp. cacao powder, for garnish

To make the cream: Place the cashews, sea salt, almond milk, cold-brewed coffee, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until very creamy.

To make the chocolate sauce drizzle: Whisk the cacao powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer to a squirt bottle, if you have one, or leave in the bowl until ready to use.

To assemble the trifle: Cut each of the bananas into 3 even sections. Slice each section in half lengthwise (you will have 18 total pieces of banana). Place 2 of the banana sections in the bottom of a 33⁄4x41⁄4" trifle glass or ramekin. Repeat in a second glass or ramekin. Squirt chocolate sauce (or drizzle with a spoon) along the rims of the glasses all the way around, reserving some for garnish. Next, add enough cream to cover the bananas. Layer another 2 bananas sections on top, then the cream.

Stand up the remaining 10 banana sections vertically around the sides of each glass (5 per glass), then pour in the cream to the top. Gently sift cacao powder on top and garnish with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Serve immediately or let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.