vegansaurus!

03/27/2012

Recipe: The Haight-Ashbury eggless tofu salad!   »

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Back in the day, when I was an omnivore, I loved egg salad. Actually, I loved anything mixed with mass amounts of mayonnaise because I’m an American gross! So, of course as a vegan, I took it upon myself to come up with an eggless tofu salad! I know there are a million and a half variations upon which to make one’s tofu salad, which is why I’m calling mine ”The Haight-Ashbury” (upper Haighters, represent). I hope that you like it, and please, share your versions in the comments; I would love to know how you make yours! I know dill is quite popular in this kind of dish, but I’m not a big fan. (Except when it’s in here!)

Ingredients
1 batch homemade vegan mayo (or 3/4 - 1.5 cups of store-bought)
1 block of tofu (I used Wildwood super protein, 20 oz.)
1 Tbsp. mild vinegar (red wine, white wine or rice vinegar)
2 tsp. salt (I used black salt)
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
3/4 - 1 tsp. cumin
2 dollops of yellow mustard
3 ribs of celery
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped green onion

Instructions
In the future I will use the extra-firm tofu, as opposed to extra protein, as I like a softer consistency in my salad.  Extra firm has to be drained, for which I use the best, most genius technology known as the Tofu Xpress (but I totally used to do the paper towel technique—you know, wrapping up tofu in paper towels and stacking cans of beans on top to drain the water out!)

Once the tofu is drained, I crumble it into very small pieces, till it’s practically a mush. Next, finely chop celery and red and green onions. Now add all the ingredients and mix!

You can eat immediately, but I like to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, even  overnight. It’s one of those foods that tastes best after it marinates, like potato and pasta salads!
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I may have a had a few libations when I “plated” this. However, I can report back from experience, that it makes a great late-night snack!

03/07/2012

How-to, yo: Make vegan mayonnaise!   »

Store-bought mayo is expensive! I mean, it probably won’t break the bank, but if I could give you a cheaper alternative, you’d be into it, right? Right! Let’s get started! Summer is coming, and we need mass amounts of vegan mayo for all of our potato salads!

Ingredients
1 10 oz. package silken tofu
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. rice or white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon

Take these ingredients and process until smooth in your pulverizing equipment of choice. I used a food processor, but a blender works too! That’s all there is to it—now you have mayo! Get to making your sandwiches, potato salad or tofu “eggless” salads!

This recipe yields about 1.5 cups mayo, and I usually end up doubling it. This should last about five days in the fridge.

Remember when Laura showcased all the upcoming Vegenaise flavors? You can make them at home! Add some pesto, garlic, chipotle sauce, bbq sauce, or horseradish to this basic recipe—your options are endless!

02/02/2012

How to, yo: Cook yourself some beets!   »

Beets! They are delicious and so good for you! I learned how to make them a few years ago in Chicago, when my then-roommate, Jeremy Cox (also a vegan! That’s why I picked him!) showed me how. He was also the one who introduced me to sauteing the beet greens! Beet greens? Let me tell you, back then, I was a 27-year-old who didn’t know kale was edible. What? I’ve come a long way since then!
Let’s get this started!
Making beets the way I do is a little bit of a process, but so worth it! You need to steam, then sauté. Elbow grease never hurt anyone, right? If you have a different approach, as always, post in the comments! Let’s trade tips!



1. Buy yourself a bunch of beets, greens included!
2. Wash and chop your beets. I like to leave the skin on, and then cut it off once the beets are steamed.
3. Steam your beets until fork tender. I NEVER use a microwave to cook food. (Just saying! I prefer you use the stove top method, but I’m not your mom!)
4. Now that your beets are soft, peel or cut the skins off. Wash the beet greens, stems and all. I cut the stems into 1 inch pieces and slightly tear chop the greens into smaller pieces. Like, the size of spinach leaves!
5. In a pan, heat up some oil. I use whatever is available—sometimes it’s vegetable and sometimes it’s olive. Put in your beets, stems and greens. Sauté on about medium/medium high heat until greens are cooked to your liking! When I made mine, I didn’t use any seasonings; I think beets are that flavorful! Plus, I think you’ll find that the stems and greens are a bit salty by nature. However, I bet some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar added to the sauté process would be delicious. Garlic powder? Probably!


Roughly chopped.


About to steam!

Serve. Knock the socks off everyone. My Dad loved this side dish. Man, it always feels great to impress my parents with my cooking prowess! (And to give my mom a night off in the kitchen when I’m home!)

When the beets exit your body the next day, don’t worry! You don’t have to go to the emergency room, I promise! It’s just that beets have a tendency to turn EVERYTHING red [Ed. note: Jenny! Gross!].


01/27/2012

How-to, yo: Roast asparagus!   »


"What’s on that asparagus?" my roommate Dan asked me.
"Why?! IS IT THE BEST ASPARAGUS YOU’VE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE??"
"Yes. It’s really fucking good.”

This conversation happened. It happened 30 seconds ago. You see, I’m trying muster up the energy to write about my trip The Detox Market, which is the cutest vegan specialty shop in San Francisco, but I am so very tired. You feel me, right? So I’m going to share my dinner instead and also teach you how to roast the best asparagus of Dan’s YOUR LIFE. (Think you have a better recipe? Share the love in the comments! I want to know!)

My other roommate Crystal was the one who introduced me to roasting asparagus. I had always steamed it before. BORING!

Here’s the lowdown:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Wash your asparagus (I used a little over a pound of it). Snap off the ends. I forgot to do this (so very tired tonight) and it’s important because the ends are so tough you won’t be able to chew threw them. I had to cut off all the ends after they were roasted! LAME!
3. Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil. I used vegetable, but olive oil would probably be ideal. Place asparagus on baking sheet and lightly drizzle with more oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (garlic salt or powder would be delicious as well!) and then squeeze the juice of one lemon over the stalks.
4. Place in oven and roast until fork tender!
5. Serve to all your roommates, the friend you invited over, and yourself. You will be the most loved person ever.

(Also pictured is my cheesy eggplant casserole! Changes I made to the original casserole recipe posted include using Daiya cheese instead of Italian-style cashew cheese or tofu ricotta, and substituting kale for spinach. Next time I think I’m going to use kale AND spinach! Leafy greens galore!)


It’s not hard for me to get people to come over to dinner at my pad! Plus I’m ALL my roommates’ favorite roommate. Just kidding! We all love each other equally!

01/18/2012

How-to, yo: Blanch broccoli!  »

Is it crazy that I just learned how to blanch my vegetables? Yes, yes it is. But I figure, if I didn’t know, and I cook all the time, other people have got to be stumped by this too.

Whenever I cook my veggies, they end up a mushy mess. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like it that way. However, I believed it was time to learn the more professional method of blanching my vegetables, specifically my broccoli. After perusing a website for help, I decided to ask my boss (Mitchell Fox, chef and co-owner of Source, no big deal) how to blanch my broccoli.

Here’s the lowdown:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add lemon juice and salt to said water (before boiling it.) Lemon juice will help keep your broccoli a beautiful green color.
2. Immerse broccoli in boiling water for 30 seconds. NO MORE THAN 45 seconds!
3. Immediately dunk broccoli in a bowl of ICE cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. Use broccoli in a delicious vegan dish! It’s so green and crisp! Great job!


Broccoli in ice water. Isn’t Instagram the best?!

I used my broccoli to make a healthy mac’n’cheese bake! I took my nacho cheese, added nooch, subtracted chili powder, added soy noodles and blanched broccoli, then baked it off! So tasty! (With a side of sauteed beets and the leafy greens they come with!)

01/10/2012

Recipe: Roasted fennel — Do this!   »

The holidays are over! Now it’s time to start dreading Valentine’s Day! Just kidding. I love watching people walk around with cutesy gifts, listening to them make fancy dinner reservations, seeing them proclaim their love for each other all over the fucking place. It’s the best! It definitely doesn’t make me wish for immediate death!

Where was I? Oh yes! The holidays are over! As much fun as it’s been gorging my face off since Thanksgiving, I’m feeling low on energy from all the heavy holiday foods. The shopping, the family time, the traveling, the working — man, I’m burned out! You too? I thought so. That’s why I present you with a recipe for an easy yet extremely tasty (side) dish. It’s light, it’s flavorful and it takes little to no energy to make! Roasted fennel — let’s do this!

Ingredients
Fennel bulbs (They can be expensive, so I usually just get two.)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
Vegan cheese (optional)

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Cut your fennel bulb into 1/3 of an inch strips. Put strips into a bowl and lightly coat with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss! Make sure each piece is coated with spice, oil and vinegar mixture.


Tossed!

Place your fennel into a baking dish. Bake until the fennel is fork tender, which is about 45 minutes. If you simply must add vegan cheese, sprinkle it on about 5 minutes before you declare your fennel done. Or if it melts easily (Daiya!), you can probably sprinkle it on after you take the fennel out of the oven. I don’t put cheese on mine, but I imagine it’d be tasty.


Baked!

12/22/2011

Recipe: The best cornbread ever, with gluten-free option!  »


Homemade cornbread and chili, together? The best!

Not that long ago, when I was living in Chicago (and walking home, two miles from work, in the snow) I came across this cornbread recipe on the internet. You see, back then I was not rolling in dough (I could not afford a bus ride home), and I needed meals that would sustain me for days, while allowing me to spend the least amount of money possible. Chili it was! And what goes magnificently with chili? Cornbread! I have not only made a couple of changes to the original recipe, but added a gluten-free option as well. (Can we talk about how the recipe was created by an 11-year-old? Brava, Dana, brava!)

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 cup + 2TBS hot water
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour*
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup soy milk or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
 1/2 bag frozen corn + 1 small red and 1 small green bell pepper sauteed together (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425 F.

The ground flax seeds and hot water act as “eggs” in this recipe. You will need very hot water for this, so you can boil it, but I just use water from my tap, as it’s hot enough. I put the ground flax and hot water in a mug, whisk them together with a fork for a couple beats, and let it sit while I get the rest of my stuff together. It should make a gelatinous substance.

Whisk all dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients, including flax seed mixture. Mix until smooth, being careful not to overdo it. Basically, just whisk until your dry is incorporated into the wet. Fold in sauteed veggies.

Grease a baking pan. Find one that the batter will fill about halfway. It rises quite a bit, and you don’t want the outside to burn while the inside is still raw! Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. The top should be ever so slightly golden brown.

Gluten-free option
You can make the gluten-free version SO EASILY! Instead of unbleached flour, I use 1/3 cup corn flour, 1/3 garfava flour, 1/3 cup rice flour, and 1 tsp. xantham gum! I add a little more salt, about 1 1/2 tsp., and 1/3 cup agave nectar. Also, I notice gluten-free baked goods have a shorter baking time, so check it out around the 15 minute mark.

I think it would be a wonderful idea to make gluten free stuffing with this cornbread (minus the sauteed veggies). Bake it, then let it cool over night. The next day, cut into cubes and bake until sides are crispy. Use it in place of croutons!

For a sweet cornbread (or muffins!) I take out the sauteed veggies and instead add nutmeg and cinnamon! I usually do this with the gluten-free version, making myself healthy breakfast muffins!


Hello, breakfast!

12/20/2011

Make this banana nog!  »

A couple of weeks ago, Laura taunted you with a skeleton of a nog recipe I was working on. Well, I am proud to say that it is complete and delicious! This nog doesn’t necessarily taste like the store bought stuff, but is delightful nonetheless. Even better, it’s vegan (duh), raw, soy-free, and gluten-free. G’damn!

Ingredients
2 cups soaked cashews (heaping 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked for at least six hours, overnight is best)*
3 cups water
1 banana
5 dates, pitted
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. lucuma (optional, but will give it a buttery taste and is a super food!)
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla powder (extract would be fine too, just add a little more)
If you have it, Maca would be a wonderful addition as well!

Instructions
Rinse your soaked cashews. In a blender (Vita-Mix is best!) pulverize cashews and water until completely smooth. If this is not possible to obtain with your blender, you may need to use a nut milk bag, or come to terms with the fact your nog will be a little chunky. Add the rest of your ingredients and blend together! Because this recipe has banana in it, the longer it sits, the more unappealing the color becomes. It’s best to make this the day of consuming it; however, if beige beverages don’t gross you out, it tastes awesome the next day!


Virgin banana nog, second day. Dusted with cinnamon.

Add brandy or dark rum and have at it!

*Short on time? Not caring if the nog is raw? Just boil the cashews.

12/08/2011

Recipes: The most amazing, soy-free, gluten-free alfredo sauce!  »

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m patting myself on the back for this recipe. Now, normally I like to stay humble, but sometimes I have to throw that notion aside and exclaim that I am a GENIUS! Too much? Probably, but I assure you, this alfredo sauce is a crowd-pleaser. Plus, you can feed it to your allergy-ridden self or friends.

Ingredients
Heaping 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
About 2 Tbsp. olive oil, for sauteing
1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp. salt
3 scant Tbsp. nutritional yeast (large flakes)
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. coconut aminos, Braggs, or soy sauce (using soy sauce will no longer make it soy- or gluten-free)

Instructions:
Boil your cashews until they are soft. I boil mine on medium heat, because I like the idea that it’s gentler on the cashews. It takes about 20 minutes. This will give you about 1 cup “soaked” cashews. Make sure you rinse the cashews before using them.

To make the cashew cream, I blend my cashews and 1 1/4 cup water to make 2 cups of cream. I use a Vita-Mix to make my cashew cream, but I understand not everyone owns one, as they are very expensive —but so worth it! Because cashews are a softer nut, you can use a food processor or run-of-the-mill blender. Your sauce may come out a little chunky, but some people like texture, right? A small immersion blender would probably work as well.

While your cashews are boiling, you can start sauteing the other ingredients. On medium heat, saute your chopped onion in olive oil. I like to take mine until caramelized, but you can go until they are transparent (depending on how much time you have). Next, add your chopped garlic and cook a couple of minutes, until fragrant. It’s important you do not let the garlic brown, as it becomes bitter. Add all your spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast) and cook on medium-low heat for about three minutes. I am constantly turning the mixture with a spatula, as I don’t want it to burn, or the garlic to brown.

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Onions, garlic, spices, nooch, lemon juice, and coconut aminos.

Now add the lemon juice. Cook until it’s hot, about a minute or two. If you haven’t made the cashew cream, do that. Then add your sauteed mixture to blender or food processor and blend until smooth! Taste. I like the seasoning mix I came up with, but we all have different palates. Do you like a cheesier flavor? More nooch! Not salty enough? Have at it! Adjust to your liking.


Inspired by Eat More Kale man, I like to add sautéed kale and mushrooms to mine! I find those two vegetables go very well with this creamy, cheesy white sauce! What do you do with yours?

11/23/2011

Recipe: The Absolute Greatest Stuffing For Every Holiday!  »

This recipe is the family heirloom in my clan. I’m not totally sure it’s OK to give it away, but I fancy myself a rule breaker. No, that’s a lie, I hate getting in trouble. In the paraphrased words of Taylor Swift, “I am scared of the principal’s office of life.” Mom, don’t be mad that I’m giving away our family recipe! It’s too amazing to keep a secret!
That being said, is best stuffing recipe you will find, I’m sure of it. Plus, it features all my most very favorite ingredients — spinach, mushrooms, onions, and garlic!

Ingredients:
     1 package croutons (make sure they’re vegan) 
     2 or 3 packages of frozen, chopped spinach*
     3 or 4 short cans of sliced mushrooms*
     1 tsp. Bell’s Seasoning
     Between 3 - 6 white onions (obviously your discretion. I’m an onion girl. 6 it is!)
     4 - 5 ribs celery, chopped
     1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
     3 - 4 cloves garlic (Or, if you’re me, 8)      
     Olive oil!
     Salt and pepper, to taste 

Instructions:
Chop your onions, your celery, your garlic. Drizzle yo’ pan with olive oil (a couple tablespoons olive oil, if you’re into measuring stuff out). Turn it on medium/medium high.  Saute onion until transparent (I caramelize, bitches!), add celery, cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic. DON’T LET YOUR GARLIC BROWN. That’s why you add it last. Cook the flavor in, but it gets bitter when it browns. If you’ve had it on medium high, turn down to medium at this point. Add Italian herbs, salt, pepper and Bell’s, too. Let the spices cook in. 

If you are using packaged spinach, boil according to directions. Open your cans of mushrooms. 

In a PRETTY LARGE BOWL, pour in croutons, cooked onions/celery/spices/garlic, canned mushrooms and cooked spinach! Mixed together! Let sit overnight. Stuff a vegetarian something or other. If you aren’t stuffing anything, you just want delicious stuffing, bake covered at 350 til heated through and through. Take off covering (foil?) and bake for another 5 - 10 minutes until top is lightly browned.

Stuffing atop the tofurkey I made from scratch, Christmas 2009.


Stuffing baked alone for Easter 2011, with fresh ingredients including sourdough bread!

As always, if you make this, let me know of any modifications you make. I want to know everything!

*This stuffing is so good with the canned stuff. I remember telling my mom, “if it’s not broke, why fix it?” — which she agreed with, wholeheartedly. I mean, we were raised on this stuff! However, I use fresh ingredients these days. I’ve slowly ventured to using a bag of fresh spinach and about a pound of fresh mushrooms. If using fresh spinach and mushrooms, saute your chopped, fresh mushrooms until browned, then add spinach. Saute ‘til spinach is cooked down. Put aside, and continue on in the recipe! Oh, and as for croutons, I made my own for Easter** last year. I’ll do that again and get back to you about how it turns out.

**Last Easter, I took a loaf of sourdough bread, chopped it up, drizzled it with olive oil, and baked until toasty. I called that croutons. Turns out, I don’t know how to chop bread into small pieces. But! My friend Evan described my ‘stuffing’ as a savory bread pudding. I LOVE bread pudding. Score!

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