Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tomato Crostini

This crostini recipe is for 2 - serve it as a romantic appetizer before heading out to otherwise celebrate New Years Eve! Happy 2010 to all; I have many exciting recipes planned for the new year...

To make this dish, combine 1/2 cup chopped plum tomato, 1 tablespoon chopped basil, 1 tablespoon chopped and pitted green olives, 1 teaspoon capers, 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. sea salt, a dash of black pepper (which I forgot!), and 1 minced garlic clove. Set aside.

Cut 4 (1-inch) slices of French baguette. Coat both sides of the bread with cooking spray and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 4 minutes on each side.

Rub 1 side of each bread slice with the cut-sides of a halved garlic clove (I also forgot this step; it's New Year's, so I guess I can be forgiven lack of attention...). Top each slice with about 3 tablespoons of the tomato mixture.

Two topped bread slices make a serving of 110 calories - serve with a glass of champagne!

Cost:
plum tomato $0.48
basil $2.99
green olives $3.99
French baguette $1.29

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lemon-Ginger Biscotti

These lovely little cookies are a perfect snack with a cup of coffee or tea on a winter afternoon.

Lightly spoon 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Place the flour in a large bowl, and combine with 1 cup raw sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Finely chop 1/4 cup of crystallized ginger, and stir into the flour mixture - check to make sure that the sugar used to crystallize the ginger is raw - your best bet is an organic brand such as Woodstock Farms: www.woodstock-farms.com

In a separate small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind, 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and the equivalent of 3 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Add to the flour mixture, and stir until blended. The original recipe cautioned that the dough would still be crumbly, but mine was so crumbly as to be unworkable. I added an extra 2 tablespoons of water, since the original recipe had called for large eggs, hoping that the added moisture would make up the difference, and indeed, this idea seemed to work.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 7 or 8 times (which I sort of fudged, again due to how crumbly my dough was).

Divide the dough in half, and shape each portion into a 9-inch long roll (this was delicate work, using a pinching/stretching motion until I achieved the desired length). Place the rolls on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, then flatten with your palm to 1-inch thick.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon water with the equivalent of one additional egg, and brush this mixture over the rolls. Sprinkle the rolls evenly with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. I mistakenly added this last bit of sugar to the water/'egg' mixture, instead of sprinkling it on top, but oh well! I suppose in brushing the mixture on, the sugar got in there still.

Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. On a cutting board, slice each roll diagonally into 15 slices - as with the last time I made biscotti, my initial slices were a bit too thick, so my last few slices were quite slender; I recommend estimating the length more carefully than I did before you start slicing!

Place these sliced biscotti upright on the baking sheet (that is, with the water/'egg'-brushed side on top). Return to an oven reduced to 325 degrees and cook for 20 minutes.

Cool the biscotti completely on a wire rack - they will still be a bit soft in the middle when you first pull them from the oven, but will harden as they cool.

1 biscotto is 80 calories.

Cost:
all-purpose flour $3.99
crystallized ginger $5.99
lemon $0.79

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sweet-and-Sour Beet, Cabbage, and Tomato Soup

This version of borscht (beet soup) is good hot or cold. I tried it both ways and was surprised that I actually enjoyed the latter more!

Bring 2 and 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 3 cups shredded cabbage, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup diced and peeled beets (about 1 large or 2 medium), 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons chopped celery root, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons organic brown sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

A couple notes on ingredients: the original recipe didn't specify red or green cabbage, but since red cabbage was the only one I could find pre-shredded at the supermarket, that's what I bought. I figure it doesn't matter much because the beets are going to dye whichever variety you choose purple! The original recipe also actually called for petite diced tomatoes, which I have never seen at Whole Foods, so I used their regular canned diced tomatoes. Del Monte and Hunt's do make the petite version, however, if your supermarket carries those brands. Finally, if you don't want to buy celery root just for those 2 tablespoons, you can use chopped celery instead.

After an hour, add 1 tablespoon golden raisins, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Continue to simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Ladle 1 cup of soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream), and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (don't forget to grate the rind before your squeeze the lemon for juice!). Each serving is 120 calories.

Cost:
shredded cabbage $1.99
onion $0.58
beets $1.17
canned diced tomatoes $1.19
tomato sauce $0.79
celery root $0.50
lemon $0.79

Monday, December 28, 2009

Garlicky Green Beans

If you did a lot of cooking or baking around the holidays, you probably want to make something simple right about now! This side dish is a snap.

Trim the ends off 2 cups of green beans (I used regular green beans, but you can use the slimmer haricots verts if you prefer). Cook the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain, plunge in ice water, and drain again.

Melt a teaspoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a small skillet coated with cooking spray, over medium heat. Add the green beans, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and 1 minced garlic clove; cook for 2 minutes until thoroughly heated.

Divide among two plates for 2 side servings of 60 calories each.

Cost:
green beans $1.21

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Waldorf Coleslaw

This yummy dish combines the classic components of a Waldorf salad - tart apples, walnuts, raisins - in coleslaw form. A few simple tweaks make it vegan.

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups shredded cabbage, 3 cups diced Granny Smith apple, 6 tablespoons raisins, and 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy), 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I like the light canola mayo from Spectrum), 1 tablespoon agave nectar (in place of honey), 1 teaspoon prepared (i.e. bottled) horseradish, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Drizzle the dressing over the cabbage mixture, and toss well to coat. Cover and chill - the original recipe suggested for 2 hours, although mine was just fine after 3.

1/2 a cup of coleslaw is 70 calories. This recipe makes enough for 10 servings.

Cost:
cabbage $3.41
Granny Smith apple $2.60
raisins $2.39
walnuts $0.70
plain soy yogurt $1.79
prepared horseradish $1.69

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pear Applesauce

The scent from a pot of this applesauce simmering on the stove will fill up the kitchen! Using red-skinned pears and apples lends a wonderful pink color to the final product.

In a large saucepan, combine 1/4 cup apple juice with 1 pound Fuji apples (cut into wedges but not peeled!), 1 pound red Bartlett pears (also cut into wedges and not peeled), 1 cinnamon stick, and a quarter of a lemon, cut into 2-inch pieces - reserve the rest of the lemon for another use.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes - the fruit should be very tender. Remove the cinnamon stick.

I had trouble with the first suggested method for turning this fruit mixture into applesauce, which was to press the mixture through a sieve over a bowl, using the back of a spoon. and to discard the skins that got left behind. Perhaps the holes of my sieve are too fine, so instead I used method #2 - to pulse the mixture in a food processor. If you use this way instead, let the fruit cool slightly, peel off the skins from the fruit wedges, and then pulse. Because I was in a rush this afternoon, however, I skipped that step and decided a little bit of fruit peel would add a rustic touch to my applesauce.

However you obtain your applesauce, transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar.

This sauce is equally delicious at room temperature or chilled. 1/4 cup is 80 calories.

Cost:
apple juice $1.39
Fuji apples $3.06
red Bartlett pears $2.61
lemon $0.79

Friday, December 25, 2009

Vanilla Bean Pancakes

This batter makes for a great brunch at some point over the holiday weekend! You'll need to start the mix a couple of days in advance to infuse it with the vanilla bean flavor.

Lightly spoon 2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Combine the flour in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon raw sugar, 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/4 tsp. salt. Add 1 whole vanilla bean. Transfer the mixture to an air-tight container and let stand for at least 2 days - I let mine sit for 3.

Remove the vanilla bean, but save it for another use! (One idea is to place it in a canister of raw sugar, for gently vanilla-infused flavor in your next baking expedition).

Make 1 and 1/2 cups vegan buttermilk by placing 1 and 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a measuring cup, then filling with plain soy milk (such as Silk), until you reach 1 and 1/2 cups total. Let stand for 5 minutes to clabber (sour) the mixture. Combine the 'buttermilk' with the equivalent of two eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G).

Add the flour mixture into the 'buttermilk' mixture, and stir until well combined. (I did this in reverse, i.e. adding the 'buttermilk' into the flour, but luckily that didn't seem to affect the quality of my batter).

Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake onto the griddle, turning after about 3 minutes (or when the tops have tiny bubbles), then let cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Work in batches of course so your skillet doesn't get too crowded!

This recipe makes enough for 12 pancakes. 2 pancakes are a serving of 210 calories. Try them with the Maple-Blueberry Syrup recipe I posted a couple of days ago, or regular maple syrup.

Cost:
vanilla bean
plain soy milk $2.49

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Preserved Lemons

These lemons make a beautiful gift around the holidays. Just be aware you need to start them about a week in advance. Tell the gift recipient that they are great stirred into just about anything - salads, soups and stews, cooked rice, or stir-fried veggies. And don't forget to save a batch for yourself!

At least one week before gifting, combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads - I only had about 1/4 tsp. saffron left at home, but my lemons still developed a beautiful orange-y/golden color.

Slice 2 cups of thinly sliced lemons (my slices were about 1/8-inch thick). Place one lemon slice in the bottom of a wide-mouth glass container or jar. Sprinkle with a dash of the salt mixture. Repeat with the rest of your lemons and salt until you have used up both. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days.



3 days later, press the lemon slices down with a spoon. Pour 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil over the lemons. Place a ramekin, custard cup, or other weight (such as a decorative stone) on the lemons, to weigh them down. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 5 days. Try to make sure that all of the lemons are covered by the liquid - I had one corner protruding up, which developed a tiny bit of mold! Luckily I could discard that one lemon slice, and the rest were just fine.



You'll wind up with about 1 cup of preserved lemons - 1 tablespoon is a mere 15 calories. Use any of the culinary suggestions I listed above, or come up with your own! These will keep for 1 month at room temperature, or up to 6 months in the fridge.

Here they are stirred into rice and stir-fried veggies:



Cost:
kosher salt $6.99
lemons $3.16

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Squash-Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted-Shallot Sauce and Hazelnuts

There are several components to this vegan entree, making it a little complicated, but the end result is so worth it! I highly recommend preparing this while some classical holiday music plays in the background.

The first component is the filling:

Cut 5 cups worth of 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash (about 2 pounds total). Combine the squash with 2 tablespoons chopped shallots and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), and toss to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once out of the oven, place the squash mixture in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add 1/4 cup vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream), 2 tablespoons plain soy creamer (such as Silk), 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper, stirring to combine. Set aside.

The second component is the sauce:

Coat either an oven-proof Dutch oven or an oven-proof skillet with cooking spray (I used the latter, since I don't own the former). Add 2 slices of vegan bacon (such as Light Life) and cook over medium-high heat until crisp - about 4 minutes, which is slightly longer than package directions. Remove the 'bacon' from the pan, chop and set aside. To the pan, add 1/4 pound halved and peeled shallots and 1 crushed garlic clove. Saute for 5 minutes.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return to the stovetop over medium-high heat, and add 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used an organic Petit Chablis), scraping to remove any browned bits from the pan. Add 7 ounces vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon soy creamer, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Set aside.

The final component is putting it all together:

Cook 8 lasagna noodles according to package directions (ideally while the shallot sauce is roasting in the oven). I used the lasagna from Whole Foods' 365 brand. Arrange the noodles flat on a work surface. Spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the butternut squash mixture over each lasagna noodle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border at the short end. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, and place the noodles seam-side down in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour the shallot sauce over the noodles.

Sprinkle the top with 6 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese in place of Fontina (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), then bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped 'bacon' and 2 tablespoons chopped and blanched hazelnuts. To blanch hazelnuts, place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes, then let stand for 15 mintues before rubbing off the skins with a dish towel or paper towel. I made two mistakes here: a) I thought that I was supposed to add the 'bacon' and hazelnuts at the same time as the 'cheese', so they were in the oven for that whole 25 minute period! b) because I thought I had to have the hazelnuts ready so early, I ran out of time to blanch them! I tried a quick method I found on the internet, of pouring boiling water over the nuts, letting them stand for 1 minute, then draining and rubbing off the skins, but this didn't work one whit. So my hazelnuts went un-blanched.

My mistakes aside, this meal came out delicious! 2 rolled up cannelloni are a serving of 350 calories.

Cost:
butternut squash $6.64
shallots $3.99
sage $2.49
vegan bacon $3.39
vegan cheese $3.39

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maple-Blueberry Syrup

This easy syrup makes a beautiful gift around the holidays in a pretty glass bottle. Or, just make some at home for yourself and serve over vegan pancakes or waffles!

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups maple syrup and 12-ounces of frozen blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (which took longer than I anticipated!).

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl and cover and chill until ready to serve; you'll want to reheat this before serving, though, as it is yummiest when warm.

This recipe makes about 3 cups total - 3 tablespoons of syrup is a serving of 120 calories.

Cost:
maple syrup $10.99
frozen blueberries $3.99

Monday, December 21, 2009

Green Beans and Red Onion with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette

I didn't have to alter a thing from the original recipe, as this dish was already vegan.

Trim the ends off 1 and 1/2 pounds green beans, then cook them in boiling water for 6 minutes; drain.

Combine the beans in a large bowl with 1 cup vertically sliced red onion, and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; cook for about 30 seconds, until heated, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables, tossing to coat. Make this just before serving time, as it is at its yummiest when served immediately. 1 cup makes a side serving of 70 calories.

Cost:
green beans $2.27
Dijon mustard $2.49

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quick Roasted-Vegetable Fajitas

These make a quick satisfying supper!

Julienne-cut 1 and 1/4 cups zucchini and 1 cup yellow squash, and slice 1 cup of red bell pepper strips and 3/4 cup vertically sliced red onion.

Place the vegetables in a large zip-top bag. The original recipe called for a vegetable soup and dip mix for flavoring, such as Lipton, which is primarily made of dehydrated onion and 'natural flavors' - since I wasn't sure about the sugar in it, and didn't like the fact that it uses partially hydrogenated oils, I opted for the southwest taco seasoning mix from Simply Organics instead - it's a little bit spicier, but essentially the same idea.

So add 3 tablespoons of whichever sesasoning mix you choose to the vegetables, seal the bag, and shake until they are coated. I only had small ziplock bags, so put half the veggies and seasoning in one, and half the veggies and seasoning in the other, which worked fine.

Place the vegetables in an 8-inch square baking dish and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

While the veggies cook, heat 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas according to package directions - generally about 5 minutes wrapped in foil in the oven. I like the whole wheat tortillas from Maria & Ricardo's, which are vertified vegan. www.mariaandricardos.com

Also heat canned re-fried beans according to package directions - the re-fried black beans from Whole Foods' 365 brand are vegan. You'll only need half of a standard, 15-ounce can for this recipe, so save the rest for another use.

Now it's time to assemble the fajitas!

Lay the four tortillas flat on a work surface. Spread about 3 tablespoons heated re-fried beans over each. Top each with 1/2 a cup of the roasted vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup shredded leaf lettuce (I used butterhead lettuce), 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods), 2 tablespoons chopped tomato, and 1 tablespoon bottled salsa. Roll up and serve!

Each fajita is 310 calories.


Cost:
zucchini $0.84
yellow squash $1.52
red bell pepper $1.61
red onion $1.00
seasoning mix $1.49
flour tortillas $2.99
canned refried beans $1.49
leaf lettuce $3.99
vegan cheddar $3.39
tomato $2.22
bottled salsa $4.39

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pomegranate Cocktail

Both the gorgeous red color and the ingredients of this drink fit the season perfectly.

In a large pitcher, combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 3/4 cup vodka, 1/2 cup grenadine, 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed blood orange juice, and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. As easy as that!

A note on ingredients - vodka is a safe bet for vegans, so use whichever brand you prefer - I probably committed heresy by combining a little bit of leftover Absolut with a new bottle of Skyy!

For the grenadine, I wish I could advocate the most natural brand out there, but alas, I cannot. From the French word for pomegranate (la grenade), grenadine used to be and should be simmered and condensed pomegranate juice with added sugar. Alas, most versions you'll find nowadays are corn syrup and flavorings, with no pomegranate left at all. Sur la Table makes a real version, but alas, not with vegan sugar.

Luckily, the more fake version on the market, Rose's grenadine syrup, is vegan, although it contains high fructose corn syrup and Red 40, both of which I generally avoid. For a libation for one night, however, they do meet the vegan criteria. If you want a slightly more natural version than that, Nature's Flavors sells grenadine bar syrup online which is certified vegan, made of rice syrup and natural colors, instead of Red 40. Make sure you order ahead though, since they can take up to 2 weeks for delivery! www.naturesflavors.com

Blood oranges have a beautiful red flesh, which I had to photograph for you here. If you can't find them though, the drink will taste just as yummy with regular fresh-squeezed orange juice.



This makes enough for 6, 1/2 cup servings of 180 calories each. Double the quantities to serve a larger crowd of holiday revelers!

Cost:
pomegranate juice $2.99
vodka $11.99
grenadine $3.79
blood oranges $1.43
limes $1.00

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sauteed Apple over 'Ice Cream'

Make this easy dessert for two any night of the week!

Melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups sliced and peeled Fuji apple and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. I forgot to peel the apple before slicing it, so sliced off the peels with a knife after, which explains why my slices have very sharp edges!

Add 1 tablespoon raw sugar, 3 tablespoons brandy, 1/4 tsp. lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger to the skillet; continue to cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

Scoop 1/2 cup vanilla soy frozen dessert into each of 2 glasses - I am a big fan of the fruit-sweetened Soy Delicious vanilla from Turtle Mountain. www.turtlemountain.com

Spoon 1/2 a cup of the apple mixture over each serving of 'ice cream'. You'll have two desserts of 320 calories each.

Cost:
Fuji apple $1.56
vanilla soy frozen dessert $4.19

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Buttermilk'-Chive Biscuits

These delicious little biscuits round out a holiday meal or simple weeknight supper. You can make them up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container.

Lightly spoon 2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Combine the flour in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut 4 tablespoons of chilled vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) into small pieces, and cut into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs - you can use a pastry blender for this step, but I've discovered that my favorite method is to use my fingers!

Make vegan buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a measuring cup, then filling with plain soy milk (such as Silk) to equal 1 cup; let stand 5 minutes to clabber (sour) it. Combine 3/4 cup of your 'buttermilk' with the equivalent of 1 egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G), then stir in 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives. You can discard the remaining 1/4 cup of the 'buttermilk', or save it for another use.

Add the 'buttermilk' mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface (I threw down a generous handful of all-purpose flour, unsure exactly what "heavily floured" meant), and knead lightly 5 times. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about 1/2-inch thick, and cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter. Place the dough rounds on baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps once you've finished cutting the first set of biscuits, and re-roll them out to cut some more - you should have enough dough to get 20 biscuits.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. These are great warm or at room temperature - if you want to reheat them, simply place them in the oven at about 300 degrees for 10 minutes.

Each biscuit is 80 calories.

Cost:
chives $1.99

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rich Chocolate Souffle Cakes with Creme Anglaise

I was delighted with these little souffles for so many reasons! First, they represent the second time I've gotten Ener-G egg replacer to act like egg whites and puff up a souffle. Second, unlike most souffles which need to be eaten immediately, these won't deflate much and are actually just as yummy served chilled as they are warm out of the oven - which means they are a perfect candidate for a make-ahead dessert while entertaining. Third, you can probably make them entirely with ingredients you have in your pantry, which means no dashing out to the grocery store in the cold weather. And finally, of course, they are decadently delicious! Never let it be said that a vegan can't indulge...

These do take a bit of work, but I promise it's worth it - plan on setting aside a full hour start to finish.

Begin by coating 4 (4-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar, turning to coat the bottoms and sides. Set aside.

Combine 1/3 cup raw sugar with 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring so the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Stir in 1 and 1/2 ounces of chocolate (I recommend the dark chocolate from the Endangered Species chocolate company, which is certified vegan and whose proceeds -as the name suggests - go to a good cause!). Stir with a whisk, until the chocolate melts.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and a dash of salt. Add to the chocolate mixture in the saucepan, stirring with a whisk until combined. Whisk in the equivalent of 1 egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G) and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Set aside.

Now it's time to mimic egg whites! Combine the equivalent of 2 eggs in a large bowl with 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar - there are other ways to make "eggs", I know, but you really will want Ener-G powder here. Why? Because when you beat it with a mixer for a full 12 - yes, 12 - minutes, it actually forms a white, glossy, thick mixture similar to beaten egg whites. In the last few minutes of beating (or about the 9 to 10 minute mark), gradually add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of raw sugar, a little at a time, incorporating each portion before adding the next.

Gently stir one-fourth of the "egg white" mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining "egg whites". Spoon the mixture evenly into the 4 ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a large baking dish (an 11x7-inch dish worked well). Fill the dish with hot water to a depth of about 3/4 inch. I probably added not quite enough water, but luckily I don't think it mattered too much.

Bake the souffles at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, be very careful extracting them from the baking dish, since the hot water is still in the bottom.

While the souffles puff up, make the creme anglaise:

Make the equivalent of 1 egg (see how much you can do with Ener-G?), and combine with a dash of salt. Gradually add 3 tablespoons raw sugar, and whisk vigorously for about 3 minutes - the mixture will be nice and glossy and thick.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) in a saucepan over medium heat, just until bubbles form around the edge, but before it boils. The original recipe suggested this would happen at 180 degrees, but I removed my pan from the heat at 130 degrees, because the soy milk was just on the verge of boiling.

Gradually whisk the hot soy milk into the "egg" mixture, then return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low for 5 minutes, stirring constantly; it should be thick by the end. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1 souffle plus 1 tablespoon of creme anglaise is 280 calories. You'll probably have some creme anglaise leftover, so use it to top berries or other desserts!

Cost:
cornstarch $3.49

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spicy Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

This simple side dish makes just enough to serve two.

Coat an 11x7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In the dish, combine 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. dried thyme (use 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme if you prefer), 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper, and 6 small red potatoes, each cut into quarters. Toss to combine.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in 2 tablespoons vegan grated Parmesan (such as the Parmesan sprinkles from Galaxy Foods), and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic.

Meanwhile, snap the tough ends off 1/2 a pound of asparagus spears. Combine the asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic.

Add to the dish with the potatoes and continue to cook an additional 10 minutes.

Divide evenly among 2 plates for 2 side servings of 230 calories each.

Cost:
red potatoes $4.99
asparagus $4.16

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wilted Cabbage with Toasted Cumin

Raw cabbage can leave my taste buds disappointed, but once it's cooked and softened - yum. Try this side dish alongside any winter night meal.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 12 cups coarsely chopped Savoy cabbage and 1/2 cup water. (Savoy is the green cabbage with crinkly leaves; you can use napa cabbage if you can't find Savoy). Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, than stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

While the cabbage cooks, place 1 teaspoon cumin seeds in a small skillet and cook over medium heat for 1 minute - shake the pan frequently so the seeds don't burn.

Add the toasted cumin seeds to the cabbage, along with 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (you can use cider vinegar if you don't have sherry vinegar, in a pinch). Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. I cooked mine about 3 minutes longer than suggested,to ensure it was tender enough for my taste.

1 cup makes a side serving of 60 calories.

Cost:
Savoy cabbage $2.66

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warm Mushroom Spread

This recipe called for Madeira, a fortified wine I've never had before. I wasn't sure if it was vegan, but a Google search turns up numerous other vegan websites that use Madeira in their recipes, so I guess that means it's safe! I bought a really nice one, to enjoy on its own in the months to come (unlike wine, it keeps for years after opening since it has already been exposed to oxidation), but cheaper versions are available, including some really cheap ones just for cooking.

Heat 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots and 1 small minced garlic clove; saute for 1 minute. Add 2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms and 2 cups chopped shiitake mushrooms; saute for 5 minutes.

(Note: before chopping the portobellos, make sure to scrape out the black gills, otherwise they might discolor your final product).

Add 1/2 cup Madeira wine, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper; bring to a boil, then continue to cook for about 15 minutes, until almost all the liquid is evaporated.

Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream), and 3/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with an additional teaspoon and a half of chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, cut 16 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread baguette. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and brush the tops evenly with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Broil for 1 minute.

Serve the baguette toasts with the spread - 2 bread slices plus 2 tablespoons spread is an appetizer nosh of 190 calories.


Cost:
French bread baguette $1.29
portobello mushrooms $3.49
shiitake mushrooms $3.99
Madeira wine $67.99
parsley $1.69

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Puree of Roasted Garlic and White Vegetables

This creamy puree is yet another delicious alternative to mashed potatoes. Bring this dish along to any holiday table!

Remove the outer, white papery skin from a garlic head, but don't peel or separate the garlic cloves. Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before separating the cloves and squeezing out the garlic pulp, otherwise you'll burn your fingers! Set the pulp aside and discard the skins. (Note: I just learned the neatest trick for removing the scent of garlic from your fingers; stainless steel neutralizes the odor, so wrap your hands around your sink faucet for a moment or two after the garlic-extraction process).

Meanwhile, place 3 and 1/4 cups chopped and peeled baking potato, 3 cups chopped and peeled turnip, 2 and 1/2 cups chopped and peeled celeriac (aka celery root), and 1 cup chopped onion in a Dutch oven. Cover the vegetables with water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, then process in a blender or food processor in 2 batches until smooth - I still had a few lumps, so got rid them with a potato masher even after blending.

Melt 2 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic pulp, the pureed vegetables, and 1/4 cup vegan cream (such as Silk plain soy creamer); cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. 3/4 cups makes a side serving of 190 calories.

Cost:
garlic $0.54
baking potato $2.41
turnip $1.22
celeriac $3.16
plain soy creamer $1.99

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eggplant and Green Pepper Kugel

If you're celebrating Hanukkah, this is a great vegan variation on kugel to bring to the holiday table.

The recipe called for a large, 2-pound eggplant, but I couldn't find any that big so used two slightly smaller ones instead! Pierce the eggplant with a fork several times, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before peeling and chopping - I actually had a quite a hard time peeling off the slippery skin because the eggplant underneath was so tender, so I used a combination of a knife, a vegetable peeler, and my fingers! If anyone has egggplant-peeling suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Place the chopped eggplant in a large bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I actually used olive oil by mistake) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 cups finely chopped onion, 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell pepper, and 3 tablespoons pine nuts; cook for 6 minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the eggplant, along with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Stir in 3/4 cup matzo meal, and toss gently until combined.

Spoon the mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon paprika, then bake at 450 degrees for 35 minutes. This recipe makes enough for 8 side servings of 3/4 cup and 140 calories each - double portions if this is your entree!

Cost:
eggplant $6.10
onion $0.85
green bell pepper $1.23
matzo meal $2.00

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barley Risotto with Caramelized Leeks and Mushrooms

Using barley instead of rice means you get a delicious risotto without the intensive labor of stirring!

Start by heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped leek and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally - the leeks should be tender and golden by the end. I did turn my heat down a notch to medium-low about midway through, to make sure that the leeks didn't brown instead, then back up a notch to medium towards the end of the 20 minutes.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushroom and cook for 5 minutes, still stirring occasionally. Next add 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add 14-ounces of vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovering to stir occasionally.

Uncover and cook a final 5 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley.

As with all risottos, this is yummiest and creamiest when served immediately. 2/3 a cup is 210 calories. You can double this recipe easily, and make it either a side dish or the star of the meal, depending on how large you want portions to be.

Cost:
leek $1.15
cremini mushrooms $1.00
vegetable broth $2.69
flat-leaf parsley $1.69

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White Bean-Rajas Soup

When I first saw the name of this recipe, I assumed it was Indian, as in 'White Bean-King's (raja) Soup. To the contrary, rajas are cooked or pickled peppers in Spanish, so it is the poblanos in the recipe which lend their name to the soup.

Coat a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup chopped white onion, 1 cup chopped and seeded poblano chiles, 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (I was a trifle short, and only had about 1/3 a cup), and 2 minced garlic cloves; saute for 5 minutes.

Add 14-ounces of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 (15-ounce) rinsed and drained can of navy beans, 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice and 1 tablespoon ground cumin. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

For the topping, the original recipe called for Monterey Jack and sour cream; luckily, vegan versions of both exist! Try the Monterey Jack from Vegan Gourmet, and Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream.

A serving is 1 and 1/2 cups of soup topped with 3 tablespoons shredded vegan Monterey Jack and dolloped with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vegan sour cream. Each serving is 380 calories.

Cost:
white onion $0.82
poblano chile $2.00
canned navy beans $2.19
lime $0.59
vegan Monterey Jack $4.39
vegan sour cream $2.79

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Orange-Glazed Carrots and Onions

This quick and easy side dish gets a nice twist from the orange marmalade.

In a saucepan, combine 1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion, 1 cup vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I recommend a low-sodium variety), 1 pound baby carrots, and 1 minced garlic clove. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, then uncover and stir in 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Continue to cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, stirring frequently. The original recipe said this would take about 30 minutes, though mine took closer to 40.

For the marmalade, just double-check the ingredient list for sugar. I prefer to avoid any risk of bone char filtration by using the grape-juice sweetened orange marmalade from St. Dalfour.

1/2 a cup makes a side serving of 70 calories.

Cost:
baby carrots $1.99
orange marmalade $3.50

Monday, December 7, 2009

Potato-'Gorgonzola' Gratin

This recipe would have been difficult to make even in the recent past, but since my discovery of Sunergia's Soy Blue cheese, any recipe that calls for a blue cheese variety - such as Gorgonzola - is suddenly made possible again. FYI, I love Soy Blue so much that I will literally eat it by the forkful by itself - consider it my vegan guilty pleasure.

Start this recipe by melting 1 tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 tsp. flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. (I accidentally added about 1/4 tsp. flour too much, but it didn't seem to make a difference).

Stir in 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, then slowly add 1 and 1/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), still stirring with a whisk. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. (My second mea culpa of the night was adding the soy milk first, then the thyme, not the other way around - oops!)

Add 1 and 1/2 ounces (about 6 tablespoons) of crumbled Soy Blue in place of Gorgonzola. Cook for a final 3 minutes, still stirring constantly; the mixture should be slightly thick by the end.

Add 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper, then remove from heat and set aside.

Peel 1 and 1/2 pounds baking potato, and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange one-quarter of your potato slices on the bottom of the pan, and cover with 1/3 of the sauce (about 6 tablespoons). Repeat the layers twice - one-quarter of the potatoes, 1/3 of the sauce, one-quarter of the potatoes, 1/3 of the sauce. Layer the final quarter of potatoes on top, and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of grated vegan Parmesan, such as the Parmesan sprinkles from Galaxy Foods.

Cover the dish and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 40 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before dividing into 4 equal portions of about 1 cup and 260 calories each. Although originally recommended as a side dish, I think this gratin can easily be the centerpiece of the meal, alongside a tossed salad and some veggies.

This recipe is easy to double; just bake it in a 13x9-inch dish instead.

Cost:
plain soy milk $2.49
soy blue cheese $4.49
baking potato $2.41

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Quick Vegetarian Chili

I made the mistake of not having all the ingredients prepped for this hearty chili, and had to momentarily remove the pan from the burner to catch up on chopping vegetables! So I recommend having everything chopped and ready to go before you start the burner.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 2 minutes (technically, you should stir constantly, but as mentioned above, I was so busy chopping veggies I had to forgo that instruction!). Add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped zucchini, 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, and 1 cup chopped green bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 4 cups chopped tomato, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 11 ounces of spicy vegetable juice (such as R.W. Knudsen's Spicy Very Veggie), 1 (15-ounce) can of rinsed and drained black beans, 1 (15-ounce) can of rinsed and drained kidney beans, and 1 minced jalapeno pepper.

Note: I recommend seeding the jalapeno if you don't want this chili to be too too hot. If you like it hot, leave the seeds in!

1 and 1/3 cups of chili is 200 calories - this recipe makes enough for 6 servings.

Cost:
onion $1.16
garlic $0.39
zucchini $1.22
red bell pepper $1.41
green bell pepper $0.96
tomatoes $4.91
spicy vegetable juice $3.49
black beans $1.09
kidney beans $1.09

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sugared Cranberries

Offer these in place of nuts, as an appetizer for party guests during the holidays.

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups raw sugar with 2 cups water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a simmer (I assumed this meant raising the heat to about medium/medium-high), but be careful not to let it boil or the cranberries will pop when you add them!

Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups fresh cranberries. Pour the whole mixture into a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

Drain the cranberries. (Note: if you like, you can reserve the cooking liquid to use as a cocktail mixer!) Place 3/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Add the cranberries, and roll them until coated in the sugar. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

(Note: if you prefer, pulse the 3/4 cup sugar in a food processor a time or two so that it's super fine and adheres to the cranberries even better. I skipped this step because my day was hectic, though).

Store these in an airtight container for up to a week. They make a beautiful present, in pretty gift tins lined with parchment paper! I still can't quite get over the way each one gives a "pop" in your mouth. 1/3 cup of cranberries is 120 calories.

Cost:
cranberries 2.99

Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Cabbage, Cranberry, and Apple Slaw

The dried cranberries, apples, and pecans update coleslaw for fall and winter weather!

Place 2 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage and 1/4 cup dried cranberries in a large bowl - I highly recommend buying the cabbage pre-sliced, as from Dole, to save a lot of time and effort! Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons raw sugar, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Drizzle over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

Cover and chill for 2 hours to let the vinaigrette soak into the cabbage, and plump up the cranberries. Just before serving, add 1 cup thinly sliced Granny Smith apple and 2 tablespoons chopped pecans - toast the pecans first, if you like. Be sure not to add the apples any sooner or they will discolor.

1 cup of slaw is 140 calories - this recipe doubles easily if you want to feed a crowd.

Cost:
sliced red cabbage $1.99
Granny Smith apple $1.41
pecans $6.99

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Marsala-Glazed Winter Vegetables

Winter (root) vegetables have such a bad reputation, but there are many yummy ways to prepare them. This dish would work well with just about any combination of winter vegetables you can think of!

Bring 2 quarts (8 cups) of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed and peeled rutabaga, 1 and 1/3 cups (1/2-inch thick) slices of parsnip, 1 and 1/4 cups peeled pearl onions (I actually used boiler onions instead, which are a tiny bit bigger), and 1 cup (1/2-inch thick) slices of carrot. Cook for 4 minutes.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for 1 minute. For a more thorough explanation of trimming Brussels sprouts, see my post for Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Spices.

Drain the veggies, then transfer to a large baking dish or roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Add 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (use 1/2 tsp. dried thyme if you prefer), 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg; stir until the 'butter' melts.

Pour 1/2 cup Marsala wine over the vegetables, and then cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and stir the vegetables, but don't remove the pan from the oven. Continue to bake for 15 minutes, stirring half way through.

1 cup of vegetables is 150 calories.

Note: I should specify that I have not yet been able to find the definitive answer on whether Marsala is vegan or not (i.e. filtered through an animal-derived product). However, there are many other vegan recipes online which feature Marsala (Tofu Marsala, Seitan Marsala...) so I am assuming that the community in general is not too worried about this product.

Cost:
rutabaga $2.49
parsnip $1.13
boiler onions $2.99
carrot $0.75
Brussels sprouts $1.32

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Braised Fennel with Orange

You'll need two large fennel bulbs for this recipe. When you cut them into 8 wedges each, try to leave enough of the root portion intact (you only need to cut off a thin slice from the bottom of the bulb) so that the wedges hold together. But if they fall apart, don't worry about it too much. It's more about aesthetics than anything else!

Bring 1 quart of water (4 cups) to a boil; add the fennel wedges and cook for 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

Heat 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel wedges and 1 teaspoon raw sugar; saute for 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind, 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes - the liquid should be almost all evaporated.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, then divide the mixture evenly among each of 3 salad plates (about 1 cup per serving). Each serving is 90 calories. This recipe also doubles easily if you want to serve a larger crowd.

Cost:
fennel $2.89
orange $1.15

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Risotto with 'Fresh Mozzarella', Grape Tomatoes, and Basil

As always, risotto is a labor of love - lots of stirring constantly! - but so worth for the end result.

Begin by heating 2 and 1/4 cups vegetable broth in a medium saucepan until it comes to a simmer; be careful not to boil. Keep warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, heat 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup chopped leek and saute for 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 3 tablespoon dry white wine (I chose an unfiltered Sancerre) and cook for 1 minute.

Now it's time to start adding the broth! Add 1/2 a cup, and cook until absorbed (about 3-5 minutes), stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium, then repeat by adding the broth 1/4 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (you'll need about 25-35 minutes total).

Stir in 2 tablespoons vegan cream (such as Wildwood plain soy creamer), along with 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper; cook for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, and 2 and 1/2 ounces of diced vegan mozzarella - since this recipe called for fresh mozzarella, I definitely recommend the vegan version from Follow Your Heart; it most closely resembles very fresh buffalo mozzarella.

In a small saucepan or skillet, bring 1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes until syrupy - don't turn your back on this process! I ruined my first batch by letting it cook closer to 4 minutes.

Divide the risotto evenly into 3 servings of 1 cup each. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp. of the balsamic syrup and 1/2 tsp. olive oil. Each serving is 380 calories.

Cost:
balsamic vinegar $4.99
vegetable broth $2.69
leek $1.72
Arborio rice $1.76
dry white wine $23.99
grape tomatoes $3.99
basil $2.99
vegan mozzarella $4.39

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips

If you eat seasonally, then you know potatoes can get a little boring as the fall and winter stretch on. Mashing parsnips in with the potatoes is a refreshing alternative!

Chop 2 cups of peeled parsnip and cube 2 cups of peeled baking potato; place the vegetables in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You want the vegetables to be very tender. Counter-intuitively, it's the parsnip that's the tougher of these two veggies, so cut the parsnip pieces smaller than the potato pieces so that they cook evenly.

Drain, then return the vegetables to the pan. Add 1/2 cup vegan cream (either Silk or Wildwood plain soy creamer), 2 teaspoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like - I like mashed potatoes really creamy, just like my dad used to make them!

1 and 1/4 cups is a side serving of 170 calories.

Cost:
parsnip $0.85
baking potato $1.10
plain soy creamer $1.99

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Spices

These Brussels sprouts are prepared Indian-style, with lots of spices. They're a welcome change from more traditional Brussels sprout dishes which tend to proliferate on holiday tables this time of year. If you don't like Brussels sprouts, try making the dish with carrots, green beans or cauliflower.

If you do use Brussels sprouts (which I love and recommend!) you'll need 1 and 1/2 pounds - I recommend smaller-sized ones so they cook quickly and evenly. Trim them first by cutting off a small portion of the stem and pulling off the tougher, outer leaves. Then score a small X in the bottom of each Brussels sprout. This video shows it far better than I can explain it with words:

http://www.finecooking.com/videos/how-to-trim-brussels-sprouts.aspx

Cook the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for 7 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 small dried hot red chiles and cook for 1 minute, shaking the pan frequently.

Add 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds and 1/4 tsp. nigella seeds - cook for 1 minute, partially covered, shaking the pan frequently.

Most of these whole spices should be available at regular grocery stores, but check Indian grocers too, especially for the nigella seeds. Also called black onion seeds or black caraway seeds, they add a wonderfully peppery taste. I recommend measuring them all out ahead of time so you can add them to the skillet in one go.

Next add 1 and 1/2 cups vertically sliced red onion and 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric; saute for 5 minutes.

Stir in the Brussels sprouts, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. raw sugar; cook for 3 minutes. Finally, stir in 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon grated coconut, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

1/2 a cup is 70 calories, and this makes enough for about 8 side servings.

Cost:
Brussels sprouts $8.44
dried hot red chiles $0.10
nigella seeds $2.75
red onion $1.13

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Caramelized Cayenne Almonds

Make a batch of these almonds - or several batches! - and keep on hand for family and friends to nibble over the holidays. They're the perfect nosh with an aperatif before dinner.

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup raw sugar, 3 tablespoons water, 1/2 tsp. to 3/4 tsp. ground red pepper (depending how spicy you like things!), 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. ground cumin. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then stir in 1 cup blanched almonds.

Continue to cook until the sugar mixture thickens and the nuts are coated, stirring occasionally. The original recipe said this would take 22 minutes, and I was perplexed as to why mine took exactly half. It may be because I halved the original recipe, but it maybe I was supposed to turn the heat down a notch; I can't be sure. So watch your pot carefully to see when things seem done.

Immediately transfer the nut mixture to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, arranging in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Once out of the oven, separate the nuts using two forks - they will definitely stick together, and I chipped the nuts a bit during this process, as you can see in the photo. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 2 tablespoons is 160 calories.

Cost:
blanched almonds $5.99

Friday, November 27, 2009

Warm Pumpkin 'Cheese' Dip

Thanksgiving may be over, but don't stop eating pumpkin for the season! This delicious dip will work well at any holiday party.

The original recipe called for 1/3 cup evaporated milk, which of course is easily bought at the store for lacto-ovo vegetarians. As a vegan, you'll need to make your own evaporated soy milk at home. The process takes some time, but as always, I find it quite therapeutic: cook 3 cups of soy milk over medium-low heat until reduced to 1 and 1/2 cups, stirring constantly - it should take just over an hour. Grab a good paperback book that you can hold with one hand, stir with the other, and have fun with it! I recommend making the evaporated soy milk ahead of time, and then letting it cool before using in the recipe. Save the extra as creamer for your coffee! It will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

For the dip, I wasn't sure if the first step of the original recipe was strictly necessary. That was to spread 1 and 1/4 cups plain yogurt to 1/2-inch thickness on several layers of paper towels, cover with additional paper towels, and let stand for 5 minutes. The purpose of this step is to drain the yogurt, and as I said, I'm not sure if it's necessary to do so with soy yogurt. Just in case, I did do the above with 1 and 1/4 cups plain soy yogurt. When you're done, scrape the soy yogurt into a bowl with a spatula and set aside.

For brands of soy yogurt, try Wildwood or Whole Soy.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup thinly sliced leek and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (use 1/2 tsp. dried thyme if you prefer) and 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside.

To the bowl with the soy yogurt, add 3/4 cup crumbled vegan feta (in place of goat cheese), 1/3 cup evaporated soy milk, and 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin. The original recipe also called for 3 egg whites here, for which I used 2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer powder whisked into 4 tablespoons warm water.

The original recipe said to beat all that with a mixer until smooth, but mine was so smooth just from stirring that I left the mixer out of it!

Stir in the leek mixture, then spoon the entire mixture into a 1-quart (8x8-inch) baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

As the name of the recipe implies, this dip is best served warm. It goes great with breadsticks or bagel chips. For the former, try the rosemary-flavored breadsticks from Alessi - they're the long thin ones like you find in Italian restaurants - yum! Stacy's Bagel Chips make the list on PETA's "I can't believe it's vegan" website, and if something's good enough for PETA, it's good enough for me.

1/4 cup of dip is 60 calories.

Cost:
plain soy yogurt $2.78
leek $1.15
vegan feta $3.69
canned pumpkin $0.99
egg replacer $5.69

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Braised Peas with Green Onions

Happy un-Turkey day to all you vegans! Here's yet another classic side dish, made vegan with just one switch or two. If you don't feel like cooking for the main event, try one of the many vegan entree options out there - from Field Roast, Tufurkey, or the latest arrival on market shelves, Gardein....

For this side dish, cut the green stems off 8 green onions; discard, or save for another use. Cut the white portion of the onions into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion pieces and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, then cover and cook for 3 minutes.

Add 2 cups peas and 1/4 cup water; cover and cook an additional 5 minutes - you can use either fresh or frozen peas, but if you use frozen, make sure to thaw them in advance.

Uncover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed - somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes; mine took closer to 5. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 teaspoon chopped marjoram (use 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram if you prefer), and 1/8 tsp. salt. 1/2 cup is 100 calories.

Have a great cruelty-free Thanksgiving!

Cost:
green onions $1.98
frozen green peas $1.29
marjoram $2.49

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Creamy Two-'Cheese' Polenta

This polenta is super comfort-food, and is super-quick to make.

Combine 2 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/2 cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, gradually stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, still stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in the two 'cheeses'. In place of mascarpone, I used 3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (try Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese), and for the grated Parmesan, I used 3 tablespoons of the vegan Parmesan sprinkles from Galaxy Foods. Like all polenta, this is best served immediately, although if you want to make it in advance, you can keep it warm and covered over very low heat.

2/3 a cup is 210 calories. Double the recipe easily to feed a larger crowd!

Cost:
plain soy milk $2.49
vegan Parmesan sprinkles $2.99

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Broccoli Rabe, Butternut Squash, and White Bean Soup

Last week I cooked with broccolini and cautioned against buying broccoli rabe by accident - here's your chance to cook with broccoli rabe! Interestingly, it is actually from the same subspecies as the turnip, rather than broccoli.

To make this soup, start by cutting 2 cups butternut squash into 3/4-inch cubes; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle the squash with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and toss to coat. Bake at 450 degrees until tender - about 25 minutes (I took mine out a minute or two early); set aside.

Meanwhile, cut an 8-ounce bunch of broccoli rabe into thirds crosswise. Place the broccoli rabe in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove; cook for 5 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, 4 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth (this was leftover holiday turkey stock in the original recipe), and 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed can of cannellini beans; cook for 10 minutes.

Place 1 and 1/2 cups of the soup in a blender and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to the rest of the soup still in the pan. Stir in the broccoli rabe and 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook for 5 minutes.

You'll have 4 hearty servings of 1 and 3/4 cups and 200 calories each.

Cost:
butternut squash $3.53
broccoli rabe $2.99
onion $0.88
vegetable broth $6.48
cannellini beans $0.89

Monday, November 23, 2009

Green Beans with Caramelized-Shallot 'Butter'

Here's a classic Thanksgiving side dish with a vegan tweak or two.

Melt 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup sliced shallots and saute for 4 minutes. Stir in 2 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and cook for a final 1 and 1/2 minutes - I nearly forgot this step, but remembered at the last second!

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook 1 pound of trimmed green beans (about 5 cups) in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the shallot mixture and toss well to coat. The quantities here make enough for 5, 1 cup servings, but the recipe doubles easily for a holiday crowd. Each serving is 90 calories.

Cost:
shallots $0.96
thyme $2.49
lemon $0.79
green beans $7.98

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin-Sage Polenta

This is up there as one of the best polenta dishes I've ever had.

Bring 2 and 1/2 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk) and 2 cups water to a boil over medium heat - I confess to turning mine up a notch to medium-high towards the end because I got impatient, but do be careful you don't go any hotter than that, or the soy milk may burn to the bottom of the pan.

Once boiling, stir in 3/4 cup canned pumpkin and 1/2 tsp. salt, stirring with a whisk. Reduce the heat to low and gradually whisk in 1 and 1/4 cups dry polenta; cook for 1 minute until thick (and don't forget that polenta continues to thicken as it cools!).

Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan, 2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese), and 1 tablespoon chopped sage. I confess my first choice for the 'Parmesan' would have been the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods, as it is most similar in texture to a block of fresh Parmesan, but the grocery store was sold out; instead I used the vegan mozzarella from Follow Your Heart.

Stir until the 'cheeses' melt, then sprinkle the top with an additional 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese of your choice in place of Parmesan.

This recipe makes enough for 8 servings of 3/4 cup and 200 calories each - you can easily double portions to move the polenta from the side dish to the main course. Polenta is, of course, best served immediately, but if you want to make this ahead (say, for the holidays), you can reheat it over medium-low and thin it with a little bit of water.

Cost:
plain soy milk $2.49
canned pumpkin $0.99
dry polenta $5.69
vegan cheese $4.39
sage $2.49

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Parsnip Slaw with Grapes

I always want to like coleslaw, but a lot of times the dish leaves me flat, I think because cabbage is the one vegetable that I can't really get excited about. So when I saw this slaw made with parsnip instead, I was eager to try it - and not disappointed!

Peel and shred 3 and 1/2 cups of parsnip, using the large holes of a box grater as I did or -if you're lucky enough to have one! - the shredder attachment on a food processor. Choosing fat parsnips will make your life much easier.

Combine the parsnip in a large bowl with 1 cup seeded red grapes (cut in half), 1/4 cup light vegan mayonnaise (I like the light canola mayo from Spectrum foods), 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy), 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Toss everything to combine, and serve!

2/3 a cup is 120 calories - this makes the perfect accompaniment to a sandwich for lunch, to round out the meal.

Cost:
parsnip $4.16
seedless red grapes $5.55
vegan mayonnaise $3.99
plain soy yogurt $1.59
flat-leaf parsley $1.69

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sauteed Leeks and Broccolini with Balsamic Vinegar

This is the first time I've ever cooked with broccolini - a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli (kai-lan); you can identify it by its long slender stalks. Make sure you don't buy broccoli rabe, which is something else altogether! (See below for a photo of the broccolini before cooking).

Trim the ends off of one pound of broccolini, then cut the pieces in half again crosswise (I actually didn't do the latter, so if my broccolini pieces look especially long in the final dish, that's why). Cut 2 leeks in half lengthwise, and then cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Cook 4 pieces of vegan bacon (such as Lightlife) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp - about 5 minutes, which is a little longer than package directions specify. Make sure to coat the skillet with cooking spray since, unlike real bacon, the vegan version won't yield its own cooking fat. Remove from the skillet, crumble, and set aside.

Add the broccolini and the leeks to the skillet; saute 4 minutes.

Add 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, and 4 thinly-sliced garlic cloves; continue to saute for 3 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1/4 tsp. salt; cook just until the liquid evaporates, about 30 seconds. I was sure I had leftover broth in the house, but did not, so I used 1/4 cup water instead.

Sprinkle the mixture with the crumbled 'bacon', then divide into 8 side servings of 3/4 cup and 90 calories each. This is at its best if served immediately.



Cost:
vegan bacon $3.39
broccolini $5.98
leek $1.43

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sauteed Spinach with Chopped 'Egg'

In place of the chopped, hard-boiled egg white that is normally sprinkled on top of this traditional New Mexican dish, I chopped up about half of a lite firm tofu package - it packs a protein punch and pairs nicely with the spinach.

The original version of this recipe actually would have been made with quelites - a tiny-leafed, wild green native to Mexico - but packaged spinach makes a fine substitute! Don't be alarmed by the fact that you'll need 5 (6-ounce) packages of fresh spinach; it sounds like a lot now, but it's going to wilt way down during cooking.

To prepare the recipe, heat 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat (I used olive oil instead, which worked just fine); add 1/2 cup chopped onion and saute 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and saute for 30 seconds. Add half the spinach; saute until the spianch wilts (about 3 minutes). Remove the spinach mixture from the pan, then repeat the procedure: an additioanl 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil (or olive oil), an additional 1/2 cup chopped onion, an additional 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, and the rest of the spinach.

Transfer the wilted spinach mixture to a colander and drain well. Return the pan, and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; return the pan to a burner over medium-high heat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle the spinach with the chopped tofu.

1/3 a cup is 60 calories - you'll have about 8 to 10 side servings, depending how far down your spinach has wilted.

Cost:
lite firm tofu $2.00
fresh spinach $12.50

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy http://www.wholesoyco.com/
  • Vegan milk - Silk http://www.silksoymilk.com/
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia http://www.sunergiasoyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods http://www.galaxyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G http://www.ener-g.com/
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html