Crisper Drawer Risotto | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Twenty

Week Three: Budget Week
This week, we’re going to prove once and for all that veganism is affordable!

Risotto might not be top of mind when you think of budget meals, but hear me out. What better way to glam up the floppy carrots, wilty greens, and otherwise less-than-perfect produce languishing in your crisper drawer than by throwing it all in a pot of creamy, rich rice, a dish that’s more than the sum of its parts? Sure, you could make a stew or a soup or a chili, but risotto is just a little fancier, a little more elevated.

In my kitchen sink, crisper drawer, leftover-friendly risotto, I used carrots, okra, and kale that were past their prime. I chopped them all up small and cooked my rice in vegetable broth, adding vegan butter towards the end for extra richness, then topped my dish with roasted Brussels sprouts for added texture, nutrition, and deliciousness. A squeeze of lemon brought it all together, adding a little acidic punch to the savory dish.

I’ve provided a recipe below, but you can use it as a template for any ingredients that would otherwise go to waste (and waste your money). Peas, broccoli, carrots, squash… anything and everything can find a home in risotto with a little creativity. I left my flavors pretty basic, but you can fancy up your DIY risotto by cooking the rice in tomato sauce thinned with water, adding a splash of white wine, stirring in a couple cloves of roasted garlic, topping it with vegan parmesan, etc. Be creative and have fun! (And check out the recipe notes below for a few more suggestions.)

Risotto is NOT as intimidating a dish as many folks make it out to be, and it’s just about guaranteed to taste good no matter what you throw in it. (Just be sure to cook those grains until they’re soft.) And if arborio rice is not in the budget, try it with any short-grain rice: They are a fine stand-in for arborio if you cook ‘em low and slow with lots of liquid.

Crisper Drawer Risotto with Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 6-8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 – 2 cups chopped veggies (I used carrots, okra, and kale)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Optional topping:

  • 1 pint Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (cut into sixths if the sprouts are particularly large)
  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 415˚F and start heating about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat
  2. Toss trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts with a little oil, salt, and pepper, then tip onto baking sheet. (I don’t usually line my sheet; the oil prevents sticking and I actually like the near-burnt bits on my sprouts!) Place in preheated oven and set timer for 15 minutes.
  3. When the oil in the pot is just shimmering, add the chopped vegetables and cook for a couple minutes, then add the sliced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, just until the garlic begins to turn golden.
  4. Add the rice and stir so that the rice is coated with the oil, veggie, and garlic mixture. Add a cup of the vegetable broth and stir to combine.
  5. Over the next 20-30 minutes, keep checking the rice and adding more broth as it starts to get soaked up. Give the rice a good stir every couple minutes, but don’t feel like you need to stand over the pot the entire time. You might not use all the broth, and that’s okay.
  6. After the sprouts have roasted for about 15 minutes, use a spatula to flip most of them over. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until they’re as crispy as you’d like them. Turn off the heat and leave them in the oven. (If they’re too blackened, remove from oven and set aside.)
    Bonus! If the leaves of your sprouts start to burn in the oven, just scoop them out with your spatula and give yourself a little mid-cooking treat. They are like crispy little sprout chips.
  7. Taste the risotto as the rice begins to soften to test whether it’s done. Towards the end of the cooking process, add the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and any additional spices you want to try. Turn off the heat and stir in the vegan butter (if using).
  8. Drizzle with lemon juice, top with roasted Brussels sprouts, and serve right away.
Notes:
  • Use whatever veggies you have available. They likely won’t add a ton of flavor but will provide fiber and nutrients while bulking up the rice.
  • Increase the garlic to as many cloves as you’d like, or substitute with diced shallots or onions. Do try to use at least one allium, though!
  • If you want to cut down on the veggie broth (or don’t want to make too much and waste it), you can use hot water and just add a bouillon cube to the risotto to taste.
  • Feel free to swap out the crispy roasted Brussels sprouts for another roasted veggie (like broccoli) or something crunchy (like toasted nuts). You don’t absolutely have to use a crunchy, crispy topper, but I think it provides a really nice textural counterpoint.
  • The lemon juice at the end is non-negotiable! :)

Check out my Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts for another take on risotto, and share your favorite risotto recipe with me!

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Vegan risotto made with leftover veggies from your crisper drawer // govegga.com

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Strawberry Oat Milk | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Nine

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

This week’s theme is near and dear to my heart. My sister is terribly allergic to most nuts (except almonds), so I’ve become quite attuned to their presence in everything I eat! Watching her have to whip out the Benadryl or her EpiPen — and visiting her in the emergency room on one scary occasion — has made me hyper-aware of how sneakily pervasive nuts can be. She can also be sensitive to cross-contamination, so I’m pretty careful to stow the peanut butter and the cashews (a particularly bad trigger) whenever she comes to town.

So this week, my eats will be nut-free — and occasionally gluten-free, too. I know (and have baked for!) a few celiacs, and it can be tough! But it’s also totally doable with a little research and a few key ingredients.

During most of this week, I’m going to be focusing on one superstar nut-free, gluten-free ingredient: oats! Just be sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats if you’re cooking for someone with severe celiac disease so you don’t make them sick due to cross-contamination.

So let’s start the week with something fun: strawberry milk! Oat milk is one of the cheapest and easiest non-dairy milks to make, and it’s especially great for baking. (There’s a whole section in the America’s Test Kitchen vegan cookbook about why; basically, the extra sugars in oat milk (compared to nut milks) help baked good brown.) And its creamy, almost sweet flavor makes it a great base for a super-simple, visually pleasing pale pink drink. (Mine is very pale, simply because I didn’t have a ton of strawberries on hand! I’ll likely make it again with more strawberries and get a much more vibrant pink drink.

The method couldn’t be simpler; you just blend oats, water, a couple dates (for sweetness), a little vanilla, and a pinch of salt together, then strain out any remaining solids using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. I also recommend briefly soaking and then washing your oats before making the milk. I know it sounds finicky, but giving them a few baths and swirling and draining the water until it runs almost clear helps to reduce the one occasional unpleasant aspect of oat milk: a bit of sliminess. Moving on!

So, why strawberries? I just happened to have them in the fridge. :) I made strawberry shortcakes for a crazy-amazing vegan wing night (!) and had some berries leftover, and I figured they’d make a fun addition.

Strawberry Oat Milk

  • 1 cup rolled oats, soaked for 15 minutes and then rinsed
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes (you can soak them with the oats)
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 strawberries, tops removed (Try giving them to your pup as a treat!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional; or use seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean)
  • Pinch salt (optional)

Blend all ingredients for 2-3 minutes on high (ideally in a high-powered blender), then strain using a nut milk bag. Chill and enjoy… or save to use in a baking recipe for an infusion of strawberry flavor!

* Keep in mind that oat milk tends to separate in the fridge no matter how vigorously you blend and strain it, so give it a shake before drinking or using!
* Also note that this is more a method than a recipe! The proportions don’t really matter. Less water will make a creamier milk (or even a coffee creamer!); more strawberries will make it pinker and more strongly flavored. This recipe isn’t terribly sweet, so you may want to add a little agave nectar or maple syrup if you like things sweeter. Just don’t do what I once did and accidentally leave in your date pits, or you’ll get a bitter-tasting surprise!

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Vegan Chamomile-Lemon Scones | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Nine

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
History. What would you cook for your favourite historical figure?

The idea for these chamomile-lemon scones came to me a few weeks ago, but I haven’t had the energy to try them till this weekend. On our all-vegan fjords cruise last month, Steven and I became wholly enamored of the afternoon tea tradition. Between 3:30 and 4:30 PM, we could choose from a massive display of little finger sandwiches and sweet treats — including lots of vegan scones (served with cream and jam, of course). We inevitably filled up on all these delicacies, but that meant we just availed ourselves of a later dinner. No problem.

This is perhaps an obvious pairing, but I’m going to invite Jane Austen over for afternoon tea. I wouldn’t say she’s my all-time favorite historical figure, but I’ve long admired her writing and think she’d be a lively companion. I could ask her all about her life and her works, getting answers to the questions biographers have puzzled over for centuries. We’d chat over pots of dark tea and heaping baskets of scones — including these chamomile-lemon ones.

Vegan chamomile-lemon scones // govegga.comThis is a relatively straightforward vegan scone recipe, but the inclusion of dried chamomile and lemon gives these scones a somewhat unusual — yet subtle — flavor. They’re not super sweet, so feel free to add a little more sugar if you’d like. I opted for refined coconut oil as my fat of choice for; unrefined will give you a more coconutty flavor, and you could easily substitute vegan butter or shortening. I also used oat milk instead of the usual suspects (soy, almond); it’s America’s Test Kitchen’s alt-milk of choice for baked goods, so I figured I’d give it a shot. (Look for a review of their new(ish) cookbook, Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between, soon!) For the chamomile, I used the contents of a few teabags, but looseleaf would be a great choice here as well. Serve these with butter and vegan clotted cream, if you’d like!

Chamomile-Lemon Scones

Makes 12

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil (use refined to avoid coconut flavor)
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers, ground
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Scant cup oat milk (read instructions for details)

Preheat oven to 400˚F and prepare a baking sheet by lightly oiling or lining with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Add the coconut oil and use either a pastry cutter, your fingertips, or two forks, cut in the oil to make a crumbly, sand-like mixture.

Make a well in the center of bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, holding out some of the milk. Mix gently until a soft dough forms. If it’s too dry, add the rest of the milk.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured, clean surface. Flour your hands and gently give the dough a few kneads. Pat dough into a circle about 3/4″ to an inch high. Using a floured cookie cutter or a glass turned upside-down, cut out circular scones about 2 1/2″ in diameter.

Transfer scones to the prepared baking sheet. (Optionally, dust the tops with extra sugar.) Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two before serving.

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Vegan chamomile-lemon scones // govegga.com


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Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream | Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Deconstructed dish: Hipster style food. Serving it on a slate is optional.

I was tossing and turning the other night, awoken by a thirsty Moria who’d gotten up for a midnight drink, when the idea came to me: deconstructed pies. Pie crust — turned into individual crisps. Pie filling — turned into dip for said crisps. Whipped cream — because duh. A hands-on eating project where you have completely control over your pie-to-filling ratio.

It was, apparently, a better idea than the one I’d been planning on for this prompt: deconstructed pierogies, basically potato-onion patties, pan-fried and served with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and cashew sour cream. Those fell squarely into the MoFo fail category; I tried making them in September and they were… not good. Gluey and dense, the patties reminded me more of a make-your-own-paste project than pierogies in any form.

Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousseHappily, this deconstructed pie idea worked out much better. Although I think apple pie would’ve been lovely here — I’m imagining dipping the crust crisps into gooey apple-y filling — I opted for pumpkin, simply because I had a can on hand and knew I could whip up a mousse-like dip easily. This recipe is more like a template; play with it to create the deconstructed pie of your dreams!

Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream

Makes a whole lot

  • 1 recipe your favorite pie crust recipe (I used this one, swapping in 1/4 almond meal for some of the flour and using half coconut oil alongside the shortening.)
  • 1 recipe pumpkin mousse (I used this one, but used just two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup. It’s not super sweet, so adjust accordingly. I also added spices to taste.)
  • 1 recipe aquafaba whipped cream or coconut whipped cream (The former is nice and light, while the latter is richer and creamier.)

First, prepare your pie crust dough according to the recipe’s instructions, including preheating the oven and lining a pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough to a little less than 1/4″ thick, then cut into triangles. (I cut around a small plate, then sectioned that into eight triangles.) Move the triangles to a baking pan. Optionally, brush with aquafaba and sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake according to directions — mine took about 17 minutes. Don’t overcook!

While the crisps are baking, prepare the mousse and whipped cream according to your recipes.

Remove crisps from oven when just barely golden. Let cool before serving.

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Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousse // govegga.com

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Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Nineteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
A dish with five ingredients or fewer (not including cooking oil and salt and pepper)

Spicy potato-chorizo hash! Two of the five ingredients are right there in the name, and the other three are not too tricky to guess: onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. This versatile recipe does involve a fair amount of chopping, but it’s relatively painless and makes a great lazy dinner or brunch side dish. For the chorizo, I use my go-to — the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s — but any product with lots of flavor will work here. I keep seasonings to a minimum since the chorizo adds heat, and the onion and garlic provide quite a bit of flavor. If you’re not limited to five ingredients, go ahead and add some spices: paprika, Mexican oregano, or anything your heart desires.

Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hashIn the past, I’ve simply sautéed the potatoes from raw, but they end up taking forever to cook through and often break down and get crumbly. So this time I experimented with kitchen genius J. Kenji López-Alt’s method: par-cooking with vinegar before sautéing. He says it helps them retain their shape and stand up to the sauté pan a little better, and in my single test of his method, it worked great! I’ve written the instructions with this method in mind, giving you tips for what to do at each step.

Although I sometimes cook everything in the same pan, staggering the time I add each ingredient, my favorite cast-iron pan can’t really accommodate this larger recipe. So I’ve written the instructions to cook the onion, pepper, and garlic together, and then the potatoes and chorizo. If you halve this recipe or have a massive pan, you can cook everything together.

Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash

Serves four

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, diced into 3/4” cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 9 oz. (3/4 package, if you’re using TJ’s) vegan chorizo
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, heat a pot of water with about a tablespoon of vinegar. While it’s heating up, prepare the veggies: dice the onion, mince the garlic, and dice the bell pepper. Add cooking oil of choice to a cast-iron pan (or other pan of choice) and heat to medium, then add the onions and peppers.

When the water boils, add the diced potatoes and cook for 7-10 minutes or until just tender (not cooked through). Drain and set aside briefly.

While the potatoes are boiling, monitor the sauteéing veggies. When the onions start turning translucent, add the garlic. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, till everything is moderately soft. (I like my peppers to retain a little crunch.) When all the veggies are done, remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and add the boiled potatoes. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until just about tender, then crumble in the chorizo. When the potatoes are completely fork-tender, turn off the heat and stir in the veggies.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup or hot sauce.

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Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hash // govegga.com

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Vegan Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Seventeen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Let’s get boozy! Food involving booze, like beer brats, Welsh rarebit or a boozy dessert. Feel free to make a non-alcoholic version if you prefer.

It is perhaps not in the spirit of this prompt to offer up a recipe for a drink. But I made this delightful hot beverage the other night and knew I had to share, so I’m flouting the rules.

You might recall the hot molasses mug I shared during VeganMoFo 2014. It remains one of my favorite cold-weather beverages, a surprisingly nutritious and warming drink that’s superbly easy to prepare. Not satisfied leaving well enough alone, however, I took it a step further this weekend and added a healthy pour of my favorite maple liqueur. Holy smokes! It’s delicious, and just in time for the cooler weather. Forget hot toddies; this spiked hot maple-molasses mug is my new favorite boozy drink for the cold months.

Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug For added deliciousness, I topped my mug with aquafaba whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Additions like those are optional but delicious. ;)

(As a side note… did you know that you can make a single (well, single-ish) serving of aquafaba whipped cream with a  powerful immersion blender?! Game changer! I didn’t even bother with the cream of tartar and it worked fine.)

A caveat: If you’re not fortunate enough to have maple liqueur in your liquor cabinet, you can most likely substitute about 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup and a scant shot of bourbon or something similar. I haven’t played with alternatives like that, so let me know if you try it! Or go buy some maple liqueur. It’s worth it.

Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug

Serves one

  • 1 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 shot (or more?!) maple liqueur
  • Dash pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, warm the almond milk until it begins steaming. (You can also microwave it if you’d like.) Transfer to a mug and add the molasses, maple liqueur, and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until combined. Enjoy.

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Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug // govegga.com

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Roasted Broccoli Galette with an Almond Meal Crust | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Fourteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Repurposing food: Show us what you do with mushroom stems, stale end bits of bread, carrot tops, etc.

If I were to take this prompt literally and to show you what I do with leftover bits of food, I would be sharing a picture of the compost bin at work, where all my vegetal leftovers wind up. Not a pretty sight, but perhaps a reminder to try a little harder to use all the bits and bobs leftover after cooking.

One remnant I do use up, every time, is the almond pulp left over after making almond milk. Although you can certainly use it right away as a wet ingredient in crackersfeta, and even coconut Bounty Bars (!), I prefer to dry mine to create almond meal or flour. To do so, I spread the clumps onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven at a low temperature (~250˚F) until it’s dried and crackly on top. Then I turn off the heat and let it continue to dry out, sometimes overnight. I then use the dry container of my Vitamix to process it into meal. It’s a relatively hands-off process, and I’m left with quite a lot of almond meal each time.

That being said… when I checked my almond meal stores in the pantry before embarking on the recipe I’m about to share, here’s what I found:

Nearly empty almond meal canisterThat is a sadly depleted store of almond meal, alas! So, for this recipe — which, by the way, makes a pair of sweet toasty galettes — I’m using less almond meal than I would have liked. Next time, I’ll increase the almond meal and decrease the flour accordingly.

So, with that out of the way… with what shall I fill my only-slightly-almondy crust, you ask? Another oft-discarded ingredient: broccoli stems!

Well, not just broccoli stems, but the whole broccoli stalk. In this simple galette, crispy roasted broccoli adds a flavorful crunch and lots of nutrition to a cheesy filling. As I mentioned in last week’s cheese-centric MoFo post, I don’t actually purchase premade vegan cheese all that often, opting instead to make my own. And although it’d be relatively simple to spread a nice cashew cream (or my tofu-walnut ricotta) on this galette, truthfully, I didn’t feel like making one! I wanted a sharper, deeper flavor and more meltiness, and I wanted the simplicity of using something pre-made. Use your favorite cheddar or go for the gold and make your own cheese. It’ll be tasty either way.

Broccoli-cheese galette with an almond meal crust

Roasted Broccoli Galette with an Almond Meal Crust

Makes two single-serve galettes or one large galette

For the filling
  • Two heads broccoli
  • 3 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash sea salt, optional
  • ~1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup vegan cheddar shreds
For the crust
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup ice-cold water
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Roughly chop the broccoli, including the stems, into bite-sized pieces. I like to shave the rough edges off the stems but that’s not necessary. Toss with olive oil, salt, and garlic, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

While the broccoli is roasting, make the crust dough. Combine dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, salt, and garlic powder), then use your hands or a pastry cutter to cut in the vegan butter until it forms sandy crumbs. Drizzle in the cold water and stir to combine, using your hands to knead if necessary.  Start with 1/3 cup and add more by the tablespoon if necessary. Work it gently until it comes together into a soft but not sticky dough; do not overwork. Form into a ball and place in the refrigerator while the broccoli finishes roasting.

When the broccoli is starting to crisp up and blacken just a little, remove from the oven. (It might take more than 15 minutes.) Turn the oven off to let it cool to 350˚F while you prepare the galette crusts.

Divide the dough into two equal balls. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rough circle or oval about 1/8″ thick. Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper. Leaving a 1 1/2″ border, divide most of the cheese between each crust, reserving about 1/4 cup. Pile the roasted broccoli on top of the cheese, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Optionally, dust with nutritional yeast as well. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, overlapping with each fold.

Bake at 375˚F for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown.

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Broccoli-cheese galette with an almond meal crust

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Vegan Pumpkin Streusel Muffins | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Ten

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
 Secret ingredient: Is there an unconventional ingredient or product you use to make a certain dish that no one would suspect?

The idea of “hidden” or “secret” ingredients in my food has always weirded me out a bit, perhaps because I grew up with a younger sister who has some pretty severe nut allergies. “Hidden” nuts in food sent her to the hospital or to her emergency Benadryl/EpiPen stash more than once, so I’m all for transparency in labeling and serving.

That said, I appreciate the idea that sometimes an ingredient might put someone off a food if they knew what was in it. (Hey, kinda like those dumb-dumbs who don’t want to try vegan dishes even though they contain nothing weirder than vegetables, grains, and not-animal-based proteins!) I also appreciate the recipe developers who have found immensely creative ways to add nutrients to apparent junk food in an effort to healthify treats. (Though, to be honest, I personally want my junk food to be junk food and my treats to be treats!) Chocolate-Covered Katie in particular has a whole arsenal of ONE WEIRD TRICK-esque recipes, which rely on surprise ingredients to add moisture and flavor to (and reduce fat and sugar in) her baked goods. (See: a chocolate cake featuring cauliflower!)

So perhaps my issue is with semantics: Call it an “unexpected” ingredient and I have no quarrel with the notion. I even have a few recipes featuring unexpected ingredients of my own (black bean brownies, anyone?).

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins But one of my favorite ways to subvert expectations — while offering superior flavor — is a relatively simple one: using mashed roasted sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Much of the flavors we associate with “pumpkin” are actually the warming spices that typically accompany it, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice that just scream “autumn!” to most Americans. In reality, pumpkin by itself is quite bland; it really needs the augmentation of said spices (and some sweetness) to shine.

I offer up in its place sweet potato, which plays just as well with those lovely spices yet has an inherent mellow sweetness of its own. Cup for cup, it also boasts more fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Baked into a muffin and topped with a crumbly, oaty streusel, you get a treat that could easily pass for pumpkin. So, next time you fire up the oven to make muffins, pass over the pumpkin and pass me the sweet potato! (Just be on the watch for folks with sweet potato allergies.)

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

“Pumpkin” Streusel Muffins

Makes 12

Muffin ingredients
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel topping ingredients
  • 3 T softened butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T rolled oats
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash salt
Method

In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping with a fork until crumbly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Prepare a muffin tin by adding silicone or paper liners or spraying it lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients (almond milk through vanilla extract, whisking to combine. Add the sugar and thoroughly mix.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined; do not over-mix. (If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Some sweet potatoes seem dryer than others!) Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each well about 2/3 full. Add a spoonful of streusel to the top of each muffin.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or just until a toothpick or other testing mechanism comes out clean. Enjoy! You’re not eating pumpkin!

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"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

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Template for an Enticing Salad | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eight

VeganMoFo 2017

Week One: Changing Vegan Perspectives
You do make friends with salad: A salad to win anyone’s heart.

Colorful rainbow saladEarlier this summer, I had a bit of a salad revelation. It is, perhaps, a bit embarrassing that it took nearly eight years of veganism for me to realize that you can make a salad with LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU WANT. Limiting yourself to raw vegetables only? How provincial. Throw in some roasted veg, some beans, some crispy chickpeas… there are no rules! Limiting yourself to a particular set of flavors is also unnecessary — you can mix and match flavors with abandon. Make every bite a surprise!

So today I present to you an extremely loose template for creating a salad that both empties your fridge and leaves you full. Customize it according to your tastes and available veggies (or… fruits?! Get crazy!) and munch away. Salads aren’t just for bunnies anymore.

Template for a Super-Filling Salad

Serves 2

  • Greens (a few large handfuls): baby spinach, arugula, baby kale, romaine, mesclun… heck, even iceberg if you’re desperate!
  • Raw veggies (choose 2-4): sliced carrots, chopped tomatoes, shredded cabbage, sliced mushrooms, chopped peppers, thinly sliced radishes, diced avocado, edamame, sliced cucumber, chopped celery (not recommended, but acceptable if you’re desperate to get rid of it)
  • Roasted veggies (choose 1-2; optional but recommended): squash (delicata would be lovely), eggplant (I used cute Turkish eggplants in the salad shown above), cauliflower, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, corn kernels, diced beets
  • Protein (choose 1-2): cubed and marinated tofu, crispy roasted/sauteed chickpeas, crumbled veggie burger, Beyond Meat (or other) chicken shreds, crumbled tempeh, beans
  • Something sweet (choose 1; optional): dried cranberries, dried cherries, candied pecans/walnuts/other nuts, thinly sliced peaches/apples/pears, fresh berries
  • Crunchy topping (choose 1): hemp/sunflower/pumpkin seeds, croutons, extra-crispy roasted chickpeas, chopped nuts
  • Dressing (choose 1): classic olive oil + vinegar/lemon, Green Goddess, spicy almond (or peanut) butterCaesar, lemon-tahini, turmeric-ginger

Basically, do whatever the heck you want when it comes to salad. And let me know your favorite combinations — I’m looking for inspiration!

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An “Original Vegan” Dish | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Seven

VeganMoFo 2017

Week One: Changing Vegan Perspectives
Original vegan: Vegan meals that aren’t trying to replicate meat/omni ingredients.

I just love this prompt. My tastes tend to be cyclical; I’ll go through periods where I’m all about veg meats and cheeses, then longer stretches of time when I eschew those in favor of more whole foods. While I mused on this prompt, my mind immediately went to elevated dishes involving unusual takes on typical veg ingredients. Curried kasha, cooked in coconut milk and spices?! An elaborate pasta dish with plenty of roasted tomatoes from my still-abundant garden?!

…but then I took a step back and realized this is the perfect opportunity to highlight a super easy, nourishing, healthy veggie meal. The kind that, truth be told, I rely on most weeknights. Especially this time of year, when it’s getting a little chillier out and I don’t mind turning on the oven, I love featuring roasted veggies in my dinners. It’s not unusual for Steven and I to sit down with a bowl of two or three roasted veggies, maybe a grain, and some tofu or beans for protein. Meals don’t need to be a single cohesive dish to be satisfying; sometimes a bowl with a few simple yet tasty components can be remarkably satisfying.

Simple, veggie-rich bowlSo I present to you a vegan dinner that is simple, satisfying, terribly healthy, and quite affordable. It lends itself well to scaling up or down, depending on how many diners you’re serving, and can be augmented with additional roasted veggies depending on what you have wilting in your crisper at the moment. I used delicata squash (the first of the season!), spicy marinated tofu, and steamed kale. Roasted sweet potato would also be lovely here. You can swap out the garam masala (which I’ve used on my delicata rings) for another spice blend of choice, but I like the way the sweet spices works with the kickier harissa-spiced tofu. You could certainly fancy this up with a sauce, but I kind of like the simplicity of enjoying each element’s individual flavors. (Pardon my rough recipe; this is not a meal that requires precise measurements! And pardon the rough phone photo; I was hungry!)

Simple Veggie-full Dinner Bowl

Serves 2

1 lb extra-firm tofu, pressed
1-3 tablespoons Harissa paste, to taste
~1 tsp garlic powder
1 delicata squash
Vegetable or olive oil
1-2 tablespoons garam masala
Dash salt (optional)
3-4 roughly chopped handfuls curly kale
Lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

First, prepare the pressed tofu by slicing it into ~1” cubes. Toss it with harissa paste and garlic powder and set aside to marinate.

Trim the ends off the delicata, then slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, then cut each half into ~3/4” half-moon slices (see photo above). Toss with a little oil, garam masala, and salt, if using. Spread onto a baking sheet and pop in the oven, setting the timer for ~15 minutes. (Note: You can flip your rounds at some point to ensure even cooking, but I don’t always do that. #lazy)

When the squash rounds are nearly done (at about 15 minutes), heat a little vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet or other nonstick pan. Add the tofu cubes to the skillet and cook on medium heat, flipping occasionally, to brown them slightly. When they’re about done and the squash is fork-tender, start boiling water for the kale.

Remove squash from oven and let cool slightly while you steam the kale for ~3 minutes, until bright green and tender but not overdone. You can drizzle the kale with lemon juice at this point if you’d like.

Add a good portion of each component to your bowl and enjoy!

Editor’s note: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

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