Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vegan Summer Rolls

When we do our Brass Lotus workshops, one of the favorite dishes we prepare as a group is Summer Rolls, also called Fresh Rolls. It is fun to work as a group and it also is a great way to learn that working with rice paper is not as daunting as you would expect. Rolling Summer Rolls is also a cool way to make your own appetizer during parties.

6 large Portobello mushrooms, grilled and sliced thin (optional)
Tofu, marinated, grilled or baked and sliced into  thin strips
Romaine Lettuce
Any combination of the following:
Chopped Nappa Cabbage
Spring Mix
Pea Shoots
Thai Basil
Rice Paper
Prepare your veggies. Grill or roast the mushrooms and/or tofu and slice very thinly. Make sure all of the lettuce, greens and herbs are trimmed, cleaned, well drained, chopped if necessary and ready to use.

Making the rolls:  

Begin by dipping one sheet of Rice Paper in warm water. Rice Paper only needs a quick dip in warm water to soften. Do not “soak” the rice paper for too long because it will get too soft and be impossible to work with. Start with a large bowl of warm water, about bath water temperature. Rotate the rice paper in the bowl of water or quickly immerse it in the bowl for about 2 seconds. It may still feel a bit stiff but will soften as you work.

Lay the rice paper on a cutting board and s tart assembling your ingredients. On the end closest to you and about ½’ in lay a piece of romaine. Now lay the other filling ingredients on top of the lettuce – DO NOT OVER STUFF! Slowly roll the rice paper and filling away from you and tuck the filling toward you and roll as you go. After one complete rotation, fold the ends in and continue rolling the rest of the way.
Serve with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce or Sweet Chili Sauce
Best when served fresh. To store wrap individually in Saran Wrap.


2 T organic sugar
¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
¾ cup water
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water
1 T fresh lime juice
2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
2 T chopped green onions (optional)

Combine the sugar, soy sauce, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch/water paste. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the garlic, ginger, lime juice and green onions. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vegan Corned Tempeh Rueben Sandwiches with GF and No Oil options

   It's nearly St. Patrick's Day! Following tradition, I used to make corned beef, cabbage and potatoes for dinner every March 17th. Ever since embracing a more compassionate life we've opt for roasted carrots and cabbage with a side of mashed potatoes. That actually is delicious, I'm getting kind of hungry just thinking about it! I wanted to try to replicate corned beef though. I contemplated - and still may try "corned jackfruit". Inspiration arrived when my daughter and I had a tempeh Rueben sandwich at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor last week. It was fantastic! It was also (with a small bag of chips) $15. So, naturally, being thrifty and enjoying a challenge I thought I could replicate and perhaps even improve upon that sandwich.

   The resulting sandwich was a hit! I would start the corned tempeh the day before serving to give it a chance to really soak up the "corned" flavor. All in all, this sandwich is a satisfying meal that needs little else to accompany it, except maybe a nice half-sour pickle.

Corned Tempeh Ruebens  Serves 4 generously

In addition to the Corned Tempeh ingredients you will need:

1 loaf of sliced rye or sourdough bread -or- Schar Gluten-Free Deli slices
Thousand Island Dressing (recipe below) or grainy mustard for an oil-free option
Daiya Swiss slices (optional - I didn't use them)
A little Earth Balance or Olive Oil or a good non-stick pan for grilling the sandwiches

Making the Corned Tempeh

2 Packages of tempeh - I used Trader Joe's brand - cut in half (so now you have 4 squares of tempeh)
1 C Red wine
4 T Pickling spices
2 T mild yellow (or any flavor)  miso- I also got this at Trader Joe's
2 C Water
1 Beet - washed and sliced

In a low, wide covered pan pour the wine, add the spices, sliced beet and miso.

Arrange the tempeh squares around the pan.

Add the water. Cover and simmer on low for 30- 45 minutes. Adding more water, if necessary.  Turn occasionally to thoroughly and evenly flavor the tempeh. Also the beet slices add a nice color. You want to end up with about a cup of liquid. Remove pan from heat and transfer the tempeh and broth to a sealed container and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Turn the pieces if you happen to think of it. After 24 hours the liquid will be absorbed into the tempeh.

Making the sandwiches

You can prepare your tempeh one of two ways:
1) Brown the whole square in pan on the stovetop in a non-stick pan or with just a touch of olive oil.
2) Make a paste of brown sugar and mustard. coat the tempeh pieces and brown in a 375 degree oven just until bubbly. This is also acceptable to serve sliced with cabbage and potatoes for a traditional style St. Pat's feast.

Next slice the tempeh slightly thin. I use a serrated knife for this and work slowly and carefully trying not to crumble the tempeh.

Assembling the sandwiches:
Spread a generous amount of Thousand Island Dressing on each slice of bread - for an oil free option use grainy mustard.
Top one slice with some sliced Corned Tempeh and a generous amount of sauerkraut. Put your other slice of bread on top and we are ready to grill this thing!
I used a cast iron skillet over medium low heat. I used a bit of Earth Balance on the outside of the sandwich, too.
Once your pan is heated place the sandwich in the pan - then I like to really squish then down while grilling so, I put another cast iron pan on top. Grill for 3-5 minutes. Flip gingerly - like, oh so gingerly so it doesn't fall apart and grill the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

(optional amazement) for a completely non-traditional treat you can add baby spinach, sliced avocado, grilled onion - the sky's the limit! Or you can just do what I do and add some more Thousand Island Dressing.

Cut that sandwich in half, make it look all pretty on a plate and BOOM! dinner is served.

Sláinte, iterally translates as "health" in Gaelic. For your health. For the health of the planet. I hope you enjoy this delicious, compassionate option this St. Patrick's Day or anytime you get a hankering for a big ol' deli sandwich.

Sláinte, my friends!

Thousand Island Dressing:

1/2 C Ketchup
1/2 C Just Mayo
4 T Sweet pickle relish
1 T Horseradish (optional)
1 T Grated onion (optional) 

Just mix it up and it's ready to go. Use as a sandwich topping or salad dressing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chickpea Omelet

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl:
½ C Chickpea flour
¼ t Salt
¼ t Turmeric
¼ t Baking soda
½ t Trader Joe's 21 Salute seasoning

½ unsweetened plant based milk ( I used TJ’s coconut beverage)
Mix well.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. When pan is heated oil lightly and pour batter into pan.
Top with:
A selection of sautéed veggies - mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, asparagus - anything!

When omelet puffs up – flip over and finish cooking until dry in center. (like a puffy pancake)
Remove from pan and place on top of:
1 C baby arugula

Top with:
¼ Avocado – sliced
Red Hot Tahini

Red Hot Tahini – your favorite hot sauce mixed with tahini, water and salt

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles

300 grams of dairy free dark chocolate (chocolate bars)
240 ml coconut milk
3 Tablespoons of coconut oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt

using a large kitchen knife, chop the chocolate into small pieces – the smaller the better. Place the chopped chocolate into a medium mixing bowl.  Add the coconut oil and salt to the chocolate. Heat the coconut milk just to a boil and slowly pour over the chocolate mixture while stirring. Stir until smooth. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the chocolate and refrigerate overnight.
When completely chilled you will have a lovely bowl of chocolate ganache. Before rolling these into truffle size pieces I have a plate chilling in the refrigerator or briefly in the freezer.  Working in small scoops – and working quickly, roll small spoonfuls of ganache into balls using your hands. This gets messy, there is no way around it.  Place the balls on the chilled plate. When you have finished rolling the balls return the plate to the refrigerator while you prepare the next step.
Depending on how you want to finish the truffles have a bowl or bowls ready with any of the following: 
Pink Himalayan Salt
Cocoa powder
Finely chopped nuts
Shredded dried coconut
Matcha powder
Curry powder (heavenly!)
Smoked Paprika
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator a gently roll in any of the finishing ingredients you have selected. Store the finished truffles in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

* Based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe

Fat Tuesday Red Beans and Rice

Loosely based on traditional Louisiana Cajun style red beans and rice, this scrumptious, hearty dish is a perfect plant-based Mardi Gras treat that is still compassionate, clean eating. It has a little zip to it, too. Boom, Boom, Boom.

1 pound small red beans - soaked overnight in 6 cups water then drained
1 green bell pepper - diced
2 ribs celery - diced
1 shallot - diced
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 tablespoon olive oil or 2 tablespoons water for sauteing veggies
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cubes Edward and Sons Veggie bouillon

 Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Diced the shallot, celery and bell pepper. Mince or press the garlic.

Saute the diced and minced veggies in a large stock pot over medium low heat until they begin to turn clear.  You may use 1 Tablespoon olive oil for this or 2 Tablespoons water for ultra low fat version.

 Add your spices and herbs, stir briefly. I always like to warm my seasonings a tiny bit, it seems to deepen the flavor. Hold up on adding the bay leaves for just a minute.

Add the soaked, drained, rinsed beans to the pot.
Are they soaked? Are they drained? Are they rinsed?
These beans have an identity crisis! Shut up, beans and get in the pot.

Add 7 cups of water and the bay leaves.

Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Low and slow. If you forgot to soak your beans this part may take up to 3-4  hours.

Check the beans for tenderness. Once the beans are nice and tender add 2 cubes of Veggie bullion ( I added the photo of the Not-Chick'N because most folks are familiar with that one). Never add any type of salt to beans until they have reached the proper tenderness. Salt inhibits the beans from becoming tender.

Start a pot of rice. I like short grain brown rice, but prepare your favorite while the beans continue to simmer. at this point you may taste the pot liquor (potlikker or broth) for seasoning. Add a bit more cayenne if you like it hotter. I like to add Frank's Red Hot or Tapitio at the table.

To serve, put a nice ladle full of beans in a bowl. Top with a scoop of rice and some chopped green onions.
Add a dash or two of hot sauce and you'll be in bean eatin' heaven! Laissez les bons temps rouler!