Jun 25, 2010

Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Tofu Salad...On A Chip

It's tofu salad on crack.  The mashed chickpeas and cauliflower provide a rich creamy texture and flavor, and the spicy kick of curry gives it a nice twist.  Serve it on a crispy pita cracker (as shown above), in a sandwich, over salad greens, or off your finger... if no one's looking.


1 head of cauliflower, cut into chuncks
1/2 yellow onion, cut into thirds
2 T. olive oil15 oz. can of chickpeas (or use fresh cooked if you have)
1/4 C. minced green onions

1/4 C. Vegennaise
2 T. Hot curry paste (I used Patak's) -use more or less to your liking
1/2 package firm tofu (about 7 oz.), @ 1/2" cubed salt to taste


Arrange cauliflower and onions on a prepared sheet pan.  Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil, then roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (lightly browned and fork tender).  Pull out of the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.  

Put the veggies and all the other ingredients except tofu and green onions into a food processor, and blend until creamy with small chunks.  Transfer to a mixing bowl, and mix in the tofu and green onions. Taste and add salt if needed.  Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Jun 23, 2010

Meatballs- The Perfect Burger's Lil' Side Kick

Versatile and unassuming (unless arranged on a nice plate with toothpicks), these little bites are worth the effort of getting your hands dirty. Smothered in gravy or a beautiful marinara over a bed of noodles. Tucked into a soft toasty bun with melted cheese and grilled onions and peppers. You get the idea.

Still working on the recipe, and the first run got very good reviews. But I'm going for "No way... really?" before I post it.

Of course, the meatballs were the inevitable offspring of the Mother of All Burgers...which will be confirmed or denied shortly.

Off to the Testers!

Jun 13, 2010

Quest for the Perfect Burger

Can't have a casual dining place without the perfect burger. This one came pretty close, and was "...pretty f*ing good, dude..." as my seitan-hating hubby declared.

But the perfect burger is but a matter of opinion, and is based not only on the patty (although that's pretty important), but also on all the accoutrements.

What do you like on YOUR burger?

Mine had avacado, grilled onion, extra tomatoes, creamy mustard slaw, and melted Daiya cheddar (which tastes more like American to me)... Heaven on a toasted bun.

But getting back to the all-important patty, this one consisted of a base of vital wheat gluten, TVP, and mushrooms, and was seasoned with what I'll call a "condensed flavoring gravy." This had an incredible "beefy" flavor, but there was still a slight wheat gluten aftertaste- which I find unpleasant. Most people who like the taste of meat (ok, animal flesh) will care about this, but if you've never had meat before or don't really remember because it's been decades, then this burger would probably blow you away!

Anyway... if any of you would like to try my new and improved recipe, as well as "Hot Dog v.2" and others, I'm still looking for a few more TESTERS.

Jun 7, 2010

Tofu Ceviche and Watermelon Pearls

Do you remember last season's Top Chef episode when Hector Santiago made Tofu Ceviche? It was a very warm day today, and I really didn't want to heat up the kitchen too much with hot food, so I looked online to see if that recipe was available, and viola!
The recipe is quite challenging, with the Mango and Cilantro Pearls, but I thought I'd give it a try- it was just too cool to pass up. It's made by heating juice with agar and then dropping it (drop by drop) into canola oil that's chilled in the refrigerator. I was missing the mango, so I tried it with watermelon. At first, the agar mixture just sank to the bottom of the oil and didn't form "pearls." So I stuck the oil in the freezer and tried it again, with some success but I would recommend letting the agar mixture cool a bit so it's not so hot and quicker to set.

The recipe that I found was a little hard to follow, so hopefully mine will make it a bit simpler. I opted to use pre-made tortillas and happened to have a really cool jar of habanero pickled garlic that Mark got from the Farmer's Market, and used it in the dressing instead of sprinkled on top. I changed a few things around, so you could say that mine is a variation... or one of my "spinz."

Marinated Tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu (14 oz.), drained and pressed to remove most of the water
1/3 C. orange juice
1/3 C. lemon juice
1/3 C. lime juice
1 T. tequilla silver (clear)
2 tsp. kosher salt

Cucumber Avacado Salad:
1 large cucumber (about 2-3 cups), cubed
1 ripe avocado (about 1 cup), cubed
1/2 C. fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 C. green onions, finely chopped
1/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T. fresh jalapeno chili (minced)
Dressing for salad:
1 dried guajillo chili + 2 dried puya chilies (soaked in warm water to rehydrate)
3-4 cloves of pickled garlic (you can use the original recipe to make your own if you don't have store-bought)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. agave nectar
1/4 C. water (or more)
salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp.)

Watermelon Pearls:
fresh watermelon (enough to make about 3 cups), cubed
pinch of salt
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. agar flakes
small bowl of canola oil, chilled in the freezer (won't solidify, so don't worry!)

Tortilla Chips:
(as many as you'd like) small corn tortillas, cut into quarters*
oil for frying
*You can use store-bought tortilla chips if you want, but fresh ones are SO good!


First put your bowl of canola oil into the freezer to chill for a good hour.

Cut the tofu into small bite-sized cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients in a shallow casserole dish and add the tofu, spreading evenly. Put into your refrigerator to chill.

For the salad, put the soaked chilies, and the rest of the dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. I didn't have 6 chilies as the original recipe called for, so I subbed fresh jalapenos for more heat, but didn't blend those- just added to the salad. Add more water if needed (should have the consistency of a thin salad dressing). Add dressing to the salad, and toss.

For the watermelon pearls, puree the pearl ingredients until completely liquified. Strain enough to make 1 cup of juice. Add the agar, and heat until boiling, then turn down to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring. When agar is dissolved, take off the heat and let stand until warm but still liquid (not hot).
Drop droplets into the bowl of oil. It should float for a bit. If it sinks immediately, then let the liquid cool down a bit more. Put everything back into the freezer to set.

To assemble:

1. Place salad on the bottom of your plate.
2. Top with "ceviched" tofu cubes.

3. Scoop out watermelon pearls and strain out the excess oil, then place the pearls on top of everything.

4. Finish with a spoonful of tofu marinade, drizzled on top.

4. Place tortilla chips on the side.

Jun 4, 2010

Baby Zucchini with Stuffed Blossoms

Tender baby zucchini, left raw, with their attached blossoms stuffed, battered, and quickly fried until crisp. Then drizzled lightly with garlic lemon oil and fresh basil. This was an interesting finger food, as the first question on everyone's mind was: "How are you supposed to eat this?"

Mark picked three very adorable baby yellow zucchinis from the garden yesterday evening, and I just had to make something with them before those lovely blossoms wilted. This is definitely a recipe for all you home-gardeners (or friends of home gardeners), with zucchinis everywhere!
First, I removed the stamens by pinching with my fingers. Then I cleaned them gently with a damp paper towel to remove any soil or little critters that might be lurking in there.
I then carefully stuffed each blossom with a mixture of extra firm silken tofu, Tofutti cream cheese, fresh corn, fresh basil, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, and salt & pepper.
The batter was a very simple tempura made with flour, cold water, a pinch of salt, and pinch of baking powder.

The lemon oil was made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, water, lemon zest, garlic powder, agave nectar, salt, and pepper. I didn't do any measuring of ingredients this time, since I was whipping them up like a storm, but these are easy to throw together and adjust to taste.

Here is the approximate quantities:
Filling (this makes more than enough for three blossoms- more like 5-6):
1/4 C. extra firm silken tofu (I used Mori-Nu)
1 T. plain Tofutti cream cheese
3 T. fresh corn, or thawed frozen corn
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Tempura Batter:
1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder.
Add 2 T. cold water, then mix and add a little more at a time until you get the consistency of pancake batter.

Lemon Oil:
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
salt & pepper to taste

Mash all ingredients for the filling together and spoon carefully into each blossom. Fold the petals around the filling, tucking the tops of the petals down over one another. Secure with toothpicks as needed. With tongs, hold the zucchini securely and dip the stuffed blossoms in the tempura batter, being careful not to batter the zucchinis, then into the fryer. Fry for 30 seconds or so (it's very quick) until golden. Remove to a lined plate to drain. Arrange on a serving dish and whisk together, then lightly drizzle the lemon oil with a spoon. Sprinkle fresh chopped basil, and sprinkle zucchinis with a little extra salt.

So... the consensus on how to eat: Hold the zucchini part and eat the warm crispy rich blossom first, then follow with the tender raw zucchini. SO GOOD! Wish I had more than three. This would be cool to serve as an appetizer at our restaurant, but only if we had a killer zucchini garden!

Oh, and I still need TESTERS, if anyone is interested for testing recipes for our menu.

Jun 2, 2010

Vegan Basil Mac-N-Cheese...Would you order this?

Mark and I have been tossing around the idea of opening a restaurant for the past couple of years, and now it's become much more serious. When Mark came to live with us, vegan cuisine was pretty new to him. Now, he's about 80-90% vegan, lost 30 pounds, and loves the idea of opening a veg-friendly restaurant. It's still a little scary in our small town to open a full-on vegan place, so we're shooting for good organic, locally produced/grown "conventional" food, with a vegan side of the kitchen to serve a good variety of veg-friendly options. There's currently nothing like this in our area.

As some of you may know, Mark has extensive experience in the restaurant biz, having had two of his own, and working as entertainment/restaurant director of the Hard Rock Cafes all over the US for a number of years. Now, having had his life savings burned down to the ground after his main property investment was lost in a forest fire, he's ready to start something fresh.

Thus, the question above... We're starting to test recipes that will eventually go on our vegan menu.

If you'd like to be one of our Testers, please let me know!

The above dish is a variation of vegan mac-n-cheese, and had a wonderful rich sauce, despite not having any processed vegan cheese in it (like Daiya), which I love, but am trying to make dishes without too many processed foods.

Here's the recipe for all of you to try. We'd appreciate any feedback you can give!


1 lb. macaroni or similar dry pasta
1 C. raw cashews
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. kosher salt, plus extra for cooking pasta
12-14 fresh basil leaves
1 large zucchini (about 2 cups), cubed
1 small onion (about 1 cup), cubed
2 medium potatoes (about 2 cups), cubed
1 C. unsweetened soy milk
3 C. water for cooking (1 cup reserved for sauce)

2 C. fresh bread crumbs (I used a stale French bread loaf)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1 T. olive oil

Roasted Tomatoes:
16 oz. grape tomatoes
1 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to sprinkle

Cook pasta as directed until al dente in salted water. In a medium sauce pan, add 3 C. of water, onions, potatoes, and zucchini and boil until potatoes are tender. In a high powered blender, add basil, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Then strain the boiled veggies (reserving 1 cup of the liquid), and add the veggies to the blender. Lastly, add the soy milk and veggie water to the blender as well, and blend on high until very smooth.

For the topping, you can use ready made bread crumbs, but I suggest you make your own by cubing some stale or day-old french bread and pulsing in a food processor. Then add the salt, pepper, and basil to the processor. Turn on and stream in the tablespoon of olive oil for a few seconds, until well coated and mixed.

For the roasted tomatoes, put all of the ingredients into a baking pan and toss around until tomatoes are well coated. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They should be slightly browned and burst open when done.

Pour the sauce into a 9" X 13" casserole dish, then add the drained pasta. Mix until well combined. Sprinkle bread crumb topping evenly over pasta, and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes on top, and serve warm.