Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Am a Full-Blown Hippie Now! (Homemade Yogurt)

I'll post more about my vegan cheese adventures, but for now, the most life-changing piece of the journey has been making my own yogurt! I make at least a batch a week, and I use it in all kinds of stuff - queso dip, ranch dip, cream cheese spread, granola berry parfaits....NOM NOM NOM
The best part is that there's no icky stuff in it - no stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, or flavors. 

All you need is:

4 cups soymilk
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup yogurt (from last batch, or any unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt)* 

* OR Vegan Yogurt Starter (available at Real Foods, Good Earth, and some Whole Foods in the refrigerated area)

Using a high speed blender, pulverize cashews and 3 cups of soy milk. Strain through a mesh sieve to catch any hard nut chunks that survive into a medium saucepan. Add last cup of soy milk. Place a thermometer in pan, and heat until 110 degrees F. (Hotter than that might kill the culturing bacteria, and you don't want that!)

Whisk in yogurt or starter. Pour mixture into prepared glass containers in a crockpot (lined with a kitchen towel) and leave on "WARM" setting for a minimum of four hours (I've had it take up to eight hours) until the yogurt is thick and tastes tangy. Allow to cool to room temperature and cover, then refrigerate.

Here's the picture tutorial, for the visual learners like me:

Ridiculously Healthy Queso Dip

Ever crave the gooey nacho cheese product you might eat at a stadium, or maybe 7-11? Well, I've got a vegan version that you won't believe is actually (relatively) healthy! It's a mish-mash of the Butternut Squash Queso from "Vegan Artisan Cheese" and the Carrot-and-Potato cheese recipe that's been going around. Grab some chips and enjoy!

2 cups diced potato
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt* (see my post about making your own - it's easy!)
1/2 cup reserved boiling water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 chipotle pepper (canned, in adobo sauce. NOT a whole can, just one pepper)

Boil potatoes and carrots in a small pot with just enough salted water to cover. When they are mushy (depending on the size of the chunks, 20 minutes or so), place in blender along with all other ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Voila!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gumbo Z' Herbes

As part of my fascination with Southern Cooking, I went on a Gumbo jag there for a while. I read up on some of the controversies ("Roux versus no roux"!!!) and tried a bunch of recipes. This is what I came up with as my favorite, aiming for low-to-no fat, vegan, and gluten-free (hence, no roux for you!) I owe much of the inspiration to Jay Solomon's gumbo in "Vegetarian Soup Cuisine."

Folklore AND Religious Studies Alert! Green Gumbo is traditionally served during Lent (on Good Friday, when one is presumably refraining from meat-eating). You're advised to use an odd number of greens, and as many different ones as possible - because each one represents a new friend in the next year :-)

1 teaspoon oil (or 1 tablespoon water)
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (plain is okay, too)
1/2 small can tomato paste
5-6 cups water
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
4-6 cups chopped fresh greens (kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards...I usually go easy on any chard or beet greens because they seem to have such a 'swampy' or 'earthy' flavor)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
Frank's Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
Cooked rice (or another grain if you're feeling feisty!)

Warm oil (or water) in a large soup pot on medium heat. If you go with water, you'll need to do the saute step at a lower temperature, and definitely cover the pot, stirring occasionally. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes first, then add peppers and celery. When onions are translucent and everybody's tender, add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and all of the spices. Simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add greens (I usually deal with them while the other veggies are sauteing) and beans. Simmer until greens are tender, at least 20 minutes (at this stage, I usually transfer to a crockpot and let it simmer for a long time, because I like my greens very tender). Taste and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce. Stir in parsley just before serving over a scoop of rice. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Big Event

Recently, I planned the food for 100+ people at my church for the kick-off to our annual pledge drive. I was approached about helping with vegetarian and gluten-free options for the event and proposed a primarily Vegan and Gluten-free menu (we ended up with two non-GF items: breadsticks and breaded shrimp - the one non-vegan item as well.) Both of those items were purchased at Costco, and were basically the only things I didn't "make" for the dinner (FYI - the desserts were made by another member). Here's the menu, and below the photo are the recipes. Enjoy!
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on veggies (cucumbers, carrot chips, etc.)
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers
- Twice Baked Potato Bites with Pesto & Asparagus
- Breaded Shrimp with Balsamic Drizzle
- Zesty Tomato Soup
- Breadsticks
- Rustic Polenta Pie

Rustic Polenta Pie
1 1/2 cups Polenta (Corn grits)
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large butternut squash
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 zucchini, sliced thinly
2 cups fresh spinach or kale, coarsely chopped
1 large package mushrooms, sliced (about 1/4 inch thick, can be white or portobello)
1 frozen package artichoke hearts, defrosted and minced
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and minced
Pesto -OR- Marinara sauce
Fresh basil
Red Pepper Flakes

Lightly oil a 9” springform pan (for a fancy torte) or lasagna/casserole pan.

Roast the squash: heat oven to 375 and halve squash, scoop out seeds, and wrap in aluminum foil (or place cut-side-down on a cookie sheet). Bake for 45 minutes or until very soft. Remove and allow to cool.

Prepare polenta layer: Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and olive oil, and slowly whisk in polenta (add in a stream, not all at once, stirring constantly). Continue to stir frequently, adding water if it gets hard to stir, and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t stick. Simmer about 20 minutes, until it is thick, sort of coming away from the sides of the pan when you stir it, and thick enough for a spoon to mostly stand up by itself in it. Remove from heat and pour into prepared pan. Cool to room temperature and put in fridge for 20 minutes or so, while you are prepping the other layers.

Squash: Scoop out squash into a large bowl and add balsamic vinegar, salt. and pepper.
Leafy green: wash, dry, and coarsely chop.
Mushrooms: clean with damp paper towel and trim stems. Slice.
Zucchini: wash and slice thinly.
Artichoke hearts: mince and mix in bowl.

Remove polenta from fridge (should be fairly solid by now). Spread squash over entire surface evenly, then top with layers of greens, mushrooms, zucchini, and artichoke hearts. If using pesto, spread it in a layer between zucchini and artichoke hearts. Cover pan with foil and bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes. Let cool down a bit (at least 10 minutes) before removing spring-form and slicing for best presentation. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, and pepper flakes, and serve topped with marinara sauce if using.

Quinoa Stuffing (for stuffing Mushrooms and Bell Peppers)
2 cups quinoa
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried basil
Stems from 1 package of mushrooms

Rinse quinoa well and put in a pot with 4 cups of water, a splash of oil, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince the onion, garlic, combine in a microwave-safe covered dish with tablespoon of olive oil. Microwave for 5 minutes. Mince mushroom stems, and zucchini. Add to onion mixture and microwave for another two minutes. Add salt, pepper, spices, and minced sun-dried tomatoes. Mix into quinoa, and use to stuff mushroom caps and halved bell peppers. Bake stuffed veggies for 15 minutes (or until veggies are tender-crisp) at 400 degrees. If desired, top with bread crumbs before baking the mushrooms and peppers.

8 oz Fresh Basil
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Almond Butter

Put all ingredients EXCEPT almond butter in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add almond butter and pulse just until well-mixed. Keeps in fridge for a looooooooong time.

Red Pepper Hummus
2 cans (15.5 oz.) of garbanzo beans, drained
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water, adjust as needed

Put all ingredients EXCEPT garbanzo beans and water in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add beans and pulse to desired consistency, adding water as needed. Keeps in fridge for a week, but tastes yummiest the first day.

Potato Boats w/Asparagus
1 lb Asparagus
3 lbs Small red potatoes
1/4 cup Pesto
Plain Soymilk

Boil potatoes until done, 5-10 minutes depending on size. Cool.

Blanch Asparagus (Trim, submerge in boiling water for 3 minutes or so until crisp-tender). Chop into 1/2 inch lengths.

Halve potatoes and scoop out insides with a melon baller, leaving a 1/4 inch or so of potato on the skins to give it shape.
Mash potato innards with pesto, salt, pepper, and soymilk, using just enough soymilk to make them creamy. Stir in asparagus, and re-fill potato skins. Bake at 400 degrees until hot all the way through.

Friday, September 28, 2012

All Hail Seitan!

Because of a recent sauerkraut jag, I went searching for recipes for vegan reubens and in the process found this blog ( It turned out GREAT the very first time I tried it, which in turn got me experimenting with making my own "chicken"-style seitan....and here you go! 

The "Corned Beef" style seitan

Liz' Vegan Reuben! NOM!

Chicken-Style Seitan
Mix thoroughly in food processor:
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp oil
1 cup water
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons Frontier brand vegetarian broth powder 'chicken' style
1/2 tsp dried mustard
Transfer to a large bowl and stir in with a fork:

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Make sure all dry flour is well incorporated; I knead it lightly a few times, but I've been hesitant to knead a lot, because I don't want an overly smooth consistency in the final product.

Shape 'dough' into a rectangle, that will fit into whatever steaming device you have. Wrap well in foil, double-folding seams. BUT: don't wrap too tightly - the seitan will expand somewhat during cooking. Steam over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on how thick your "loaf" is. After 40 minutes, start checking your loaf - it should be not sticky or doughy, slightly darkened, slightly but not too rubbery. If you steam at too high a heat, your seitan will be tougher than a rubber ball, so don't be hasty!

Allow to cool to room temperature, and slice, chunk or whatever! Keeps well in fridge for up to two weeks, but is definitely tastiest and has the best consistency in the first three days. I haven't tried freezing it yet, but I will let you know how that goes when I do. Below are two tacos I made in the cafe - Jamaican Jerk Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa, and Korean Tacos. ENJOY!

Jamaican Jerk Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa

Korean Tacos with Kimchi

Again, thanks to Vegan Dad for the inspiration and instructions for making seitan! (

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Banh Mi Obsession, and whatnot....

So, thanks to a friend of mine posting on the FaceBook about his favorite new Vietnamese place (The friend = Richard Wolfgramm, the place = Oh Mai Vietnamese Kitchen), I have been obsessed with pickled daikon radish. So, you know what that means....searching the wide wide world of web and playing with new recipes. I have made the same flavors serve my appetite in spring roll, noodle salad, and sandwich form!

Step One: Carrot & Daikon Pickle

So, this one's simple but intense. Also, daikon stinks something fierce. Just a friendly warning :-)
Cut a large daikon and a couple of large carrots into matchsticks.
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup rice vinegar to a boil. Fill jars or tupperware with veggies and pour the slightly cooled liquid over them. Let sit for a hour before using and will stay good in the fridge for at least 4 weeks. One recipe I tried had you salt the veggies and let them soften until they would bend in half without breaking, then rinse, dry, and pour on the sauce sans salt. I didn't detect much of a difference between the two kinds myself, and I'm lazy :-)

Step Two: Vietnamese Curry Powder, from

  • 4 large bay leaves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon annatto powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  2. Toast whole spices for 30-45 seconds by placing them in the hot pan and occasionally shake the pan or stir the spices with a wooden spoon or chopsticks to prevent them from burning.
  3. Place whole spices in an electric spice/coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Add the powdered spices to the grinder and pulse for a few seconds to mix well.
  5. Store in airtight container away from direct sunlight.
Makes about 1/2 cup of curry powder. I used cayenne for the "chili powder" since it didn't specify what kind. Also, I didn't have annatto powder, so I simply left it out.

Step Three: Sweet Chili Dressing

4 garlic cloves
2 red jalapenos, or 2 tsp red chili paste from the jars with the lime green lids
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon potato starch (cornstarch would work just fine)

Throw everything but the starch in a blender. Blend it up! Bring to a boil in small saucepan, then make a slurry of starch plus 2 tablespoons water (slurry= watery paste, blended well with fork or whisk). Add slowly to sauce while stirring. Cook until it thickens a bit.

Step Four: Currify something as a base

There's many options here. I've done onions, mung bean sprouts, tofu, and rice noodles in various combinations.

1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vietnamese curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups whatever you want to curry.

Warm oil, saute powder for a few minutes until nice and fragrant. Add salt and whatever else, keeping in mind that onion would work better cooked for much much longer than the rest of the options (when doing onions, I turn the heat way down and cover the pan for a while, stirring occasionally until they are super soft). Taste and adjust curry powder and salt.

Step Five: Assemble!
Really, let your imagination go wild. My crucial ingredients are listed below:
Cucumber, sliced
Cilantro and other fresh herbs if you've got 'em, like thai basil, mint....
Jalapeno, thinly sliced
Lettuce or Arugula

Baguette for Sandwich-style
Rice Paper wrappers for spring roll-style
Tortillas for taco-style

Go nuts! And...Enjoy!

Here's the Taco version I made at work!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Atlanta Vegan Quest...or, how I cemented my idea of what constitutes a "Jerk Burger"

In March 2012, I tagged along with my better half on a work trip to Atlanta, which spawned some fascinating cuisine experiences. I found a hip vegan bakery/cafe, visited a crazy "Farmers Market," ate at a vegetarian Buddhist restaurant, and tried a vegan "soul food" restaurant run/inspired by the African Hebrew Isrealites of Jerusalem organization...all of which will figure into the next few blog entries!

The first, Jamaican Jerk Burgers, was modeled after a sandwich Russ had at World Peace Cafe, the aforementioned Buddhist establishment ( I'm no restaurant reviewer, so I'll leave out the critique and just say that I knew I had to try to make a better version when I got home, and I did! The jerk seasoning paste keeps well in the fridge, so now I try to have some on hard for whenever the mood strikes. This isn't a quick meal, but it is so worth it...

Liz' Jamaican Jerk Burger:

Okay, here are all the components. I suggest starting the lentils and quinoa, then making the salsa and slaw (make the jerk seasoning paste in advance and have it in your fridge, that's easiest - or make it first). 

Jerk Seasoning, adapted from The Ethnic Vegetarian by Angela Shelf Medearis:
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, including seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Pulse first five ingredients in a food processor to chop finely. Add the rest of the spices and mix well. I've been known to splash a little apple cider vinegar to help smooth out the paste. Store in a well-sealed glass jar in your fridge...

Jerk Patties:
1 cup red lentils, cooked until starting to get mushy, drain & let cool
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well, and cooked in 2 cups of water until soft, about ten minutes of boiling followed by ten minutes of sitting covered. Drain if necessary and mix with lentils in a large bowl.
3/4 cup shredded carrots
Mix the following together and then mix well in bowl with the first three ingredients:
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Jerk seasoning paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Form into patties and gently fry in a non-stick pan.

Mango Salsa:
2 ripe mangoes, diced (or pineapple if you can't find nice ripe mango)
1 small red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Mix all ingredients together.

Coconut-Cilantro Slaw:
1 small head green cabbage, cut as for slaw
Pulverize in food processor or blender:
1 cup cilantro stems and leaves
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut, soaked in 1/4 cup very hot water for 10 minutes (do not drain)

Mix dressing and cabbage well, allow to sit to let flavors meld for 30 minutes, then adjust salt.