Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Appetizer Menu

Hopefully you are having a lovely winter season! This season also means family, friends, and food. Sometimes as vegans, there aren't too many menu ideas (that's quickly changing because of the Internet- thanks, Al Gore!) so here is an Appetizer Menu. Mix and match and even review if you have the time!
These recipes/recipe ideas were ripped from Yahoo Food's page. For the ones that I thought looked decent, I veganized them for you, added or subtracted what I thought would be good, or subbed a different recipe altogether.

Some do heavily rely on prepackaged things, but that's not terrible, especially during a busy season. I have no problem with glorious vegan "dairy" goods anyway, though! I tried to keep away from the Kraft products as well, preferring more vegan-friendly companies. If you are on a budget (like everyone this year), just use what you can- sale items, more of one thing and less of another, canned items, frozen or bulk items, etc. The bottom of this post has some links so if you aren't familiar with the products, you can see what they look like.


Cluck-Free Quesadillas
Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Felafel Spiced Pecans
Hot Artichoke Dip (With Spinach variation)
Top-of-the-Stove Spinach Seitan Ballz
Tofurkey Toasties
Wild Mushroom Crostini
Beefy Seitan-Asparagus Negimaki
Porky's Pasture No-Pig Rolls
Seitan Satay
Spinach-Tofu Dumplings
White Bean Crostini w/ Spicy Cucumbers


Cluck-Free Quesadillas

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Felafel Spiced Pecans

Hot Artichoke Dip

Top-of-the-Stove Spinach-Sietan Ballz

Porky's Pasture No-Pig Rolls

Spinach-Tofu Dumplings

Bruschetta (broo-sketta, not broo-shetta). Comes from the Italian word that means "to roast over coals" (or something similar).

* 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
* 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*Kalamata olives*
* 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread (can also use vegan Cuban bread)
* 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450

- Prepare the tomatoes first. After cutting an X on each tomato, parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Peel skins, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers.

-While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.* It may not be traditional, but chopped Kalamata olives would be a tasty addition at this point

-Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. Toast on top rack only, so you may need to do these in batches. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

-Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Makes 24 small slices.

Cluck-Free Quesadillas

2 bags (8oz each) Morningstar Farms vegan Chik'n strips, defrosted and sauteed. (Sauteeing is very important- it makes them crispy and delicious!)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 ounces (1/2 block) Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated
8 (7 inch) flour tortillas
Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
Salsa (your pick)
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges
Green onion, chopped

-Sprinkle chik'n with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
-Cook onion with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes.
-Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute, then transfer to a large bowl.
-Add chik'n to onion mixture along with cheese.
-Put 1 tortilla on a cutting board and spread 1/2 cup chik'n mixture over half of tortilla, then fold other half over to form a half-moon, pressing firmly on seam. Assemble 7 more quesadillas in same manner.
-Heat lightly oiled grill pan over high heat until it thins, then reduce heat to moderate and grill quesadillas, 2 at a time, turning over once, until cheese is melted and golden brown grill marks appear, about 4 minutes total per batch*. Transfer with a spatula to cutting board and cut in half.
*May need to cook longer over lower heat for the vegan cheese to melt.
Serve with delicious condiments. Makes 8

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pound medium fresh mushrooms, cleaned
Few piece of torn stale bread
1/2 c vegetable broth (add more if necessary)
1/2 cup Gimme Lean "Pork Style" sausage, cooked, crumbled (also may want to add a tiny bit of fennel seed and crushed red pepper)
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese, grated finely

Preheat broiler.

-Remove stems from mushrooms (use them for stock, or another dish).
-In a large pan, saute mushrooms in a little olive oil, until softened. Remove from pan.
-Add torn bread to the sausage to pan (heat still on) and add just enough broth to hold together. Add cheese. Cheese will melt a bit in the hot broth.
-Press sausage mixture evenly into each cap. Sprinkle evenly with a little more cheese (optional).
-Broil 5 min. or until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Yields 12 servings

Felafel Spiced Pecans
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons earth Balance margarine, melted
1/4 cup dry falafel mix (can use Fantastic brand or your preferred brand)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, toss the pecans with the melted butter until evenly coated.
In a small bowl, combine the falafel mix with the sugar and cayenne. Pour the spice mix over the pecans and toss to coat. Spread the spiced nuts on a lightly greased baking sheet and toast for about 9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden. Let cool.

Yields 8 servings

Hot Artichoke Dip (With Spinach Variation)
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1/2 c Vegan Mayonnaise (Vegenaise/Nasoya/your choice)
1/2 c Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream/Sour Supreme ("Guacamole"-style will work in this as well- trust me)
1/4-1/2 cup vegan grated Parmesan completely optional
1 tablespoon vegan dry onion soup mix (such as Lipton)(taste first and adjust) OR All-Purpose Seasoning Salt and onion powder to taste
1 clove garlic, minced (opt)
2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons sliced green onions

Note: I usually double this recipe because it's gone so fast

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except tomato and onions.
Spoon into 9-inch pie plate or shallow ovenproof dish.
Bake 20 to 25 min. or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with tomatoes and onions. Serve with vegetable dippers, tortilla chips, assorted crackers or assorted cocktail bread slices. If you want to get all fancy-schmancy, serve inside a hollowed-out bread bowl.

Spinach Variarion-For recipe above: completely thaw and squeeze (very hard) all the water out of 1 standard frozen block of spinach. Pick pieces apart and "fluff" back up, adding to artichoke/creamy mixture before baking. Mix well, so you get a little of everything in each bite. Bake as directed.

Top-of-the-Stove Spinach Seitan Ballz
Haha, ballz. Of spinach. You can pretend you are eating healthy or something. This recipes was adapted with a lot of different factors, so please adjust as necessary!

3 1/2 cups cubed stuffing mix (a little less if using denser stuffing or bread) (I use Pepperidge Farm)
1 1/4 cups hot vegetable broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (no, it doesn't contain chicken)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
1 cup minced cooked seitan
1 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained and squeezed and patted dry (chop these a little)
1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese (omit if necessary and add a little nutritional yeast)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 small or medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp NRG egg replacer powder whisked with 1/4 c water (or use another egg replacer. May be able to omit altogether)
1/3 c bread crumbs (reserve)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Mix stuffing mix, hot broth, seasoning,and margarine in large bowl until well blended. Note- do the broth a little at a time and allow a few minutes to let the stuffing absorb the liquid.
-Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Shape by rounded Tablespoon. You can use a dessert/ice cream scoop to make this easy).Place in single layer in two 15x10x1-inch baking pans sprayed with cooking spray.
-Bake 15 to 20 min. or until lightly browned. Halve this recipe for smaller groups.

Makes about 45 balls.

Tofurkey Toasties

1 1/2 ounces Tofurkey Deli Slices, finely chopped (I think Hickory Smoked is best)
3 ounces (about 1/4 block) finely shredded Follow Your Heart Cheese
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 baguette, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 crisp dill pickles, thinly sliced

-Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
-In a small bowl, stir together the deli slices, cheese, mayo, onion, and mustard.
-Arrange the bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place 2 pickle slices on each slice of bread, then spread about 1 tablespoon of the deli slice mixture on top. Bake the toasties for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 5

Wild Mushroom Crostini
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 loaf long Italian or French bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
Extra-virgin olive oil, for bread
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, and chanterelle, cut into 3/8-inch slices

-In a bowl, combine dried porcini and 1 1/2 cups hot water. Let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from soaking liquid. Carefully pour off liquid, leaving sediment in bowl; reserve liquid. Coarsely chop porcini.
-Chop together garlic, parsley, and salt.
-Make crostini by grilling or toasting bread under broiler. Brush lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
-In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add porcini, shallots, and thyme, and cook, stirring often, until shallots wilt, about 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Add wine, and cook over medium-high heat until liquid is almost completely reduced, 5 to 7 minutes. Add reserved porcini liquid, and cook until almost completely reduced again, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.
-Rinse skillet, dry, and return to high heat. Starting with the firmest, cook wild mushrooms in two batches using a tablespoon of butter and oil for each batch. Season well with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are nearly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Keep in a large bowl while second batch cooks.
-Return all the mushrooms to the pan. Add porcini and parsley mixtures. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic gives off an aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, and remove pan from heat.
-Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and serve with crostini, or spoon a bit of the mushroom mixture on each slice of crostini and arrange on a plate.

Yields 15 servings

Beefy Seitan-Asparagus Negimaki

Salt for water
24 thin stalks asparagus
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 bunch scallions, greens only
1 1/2 pounds beef-style seitan (roughly 2 cups- try to get large pieces)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

-Preheat a grill or grill pan until hot, or prepare oven broiler.
-Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cut off asparagus ends to within 3 1/2 inches from tips (reserve bottoms for another use, such as sushi). Place tips in boiling water; cook until bright green but still crunchy, about 1 minute. Drain asparagus; transfer to an ice-water bath to stop cooking. Drain asparagus again in a colander, and set aside.
-Whisk together soy sauce and sugar until dissolved; set aside. Cut scallions into 3 1/2-inch lengths, julienned lengthwise; set aside.
-Slice seitan into thin pieces, less than 1/4 in. Trim into 2-by-5-inch rectangle if possible, or just a flat, wide piece .Repeat with remaining seitan.
-Heat a skillet with a small amount of oil and saute a couple minutes on each side (you will be cooking it more, so go easy- you just want the "raw" taste out)
-Dip a piece of seitan in soy-sauce mixture, and place on a clean surface. Season with pepper. Place 1 piece of scallion and 2 asparagus tips across 1 end of seitan, so vegetables extend over edges; roll. Set aside. Repeat with remaining seitan and vegetables.
-Grill or broil negimaki, brushing with sauce and turning, until slightly charred, about 2 minutes. Serve.

Yields 8 servings

Porky's Pasture No-Pig Rolls
1 can (gasp!) croissant rolls (many national or store brands are vegan- check and hopefully be surprised)
6 *good* vegan hot dogs (regular size)
6 slices Tofutti Cheddar slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
-Cook each hot dog in a saute pan with a little oil. You can add a drop of liquid smoke as well, for flavour. Cool and cut each hot dog into 4 equal pieces (once lengthwise, once crosswise).
-Cut each cheese slice into 4 strips; cut strips in half.
-Separate dough into triangles; cut lengthwise into thirds (do your best, they won't be even). Top each dough piece with 2 pieces of the cut cheese and 1 piece of the hot dog. Roll up. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
-Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.
makes 24

Seitan Satay

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Sriracha)
1/4-1/2 c coconut milk (optional)
6 hand-sized pieces of seitan (chicken-style)

-In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except seitan.
-Heat a large pan and saute each piece of seitan in a bit of oil until done, using whatever cooking broth the seitan was cooked in (if applicable). Cool, cube in large pieces and place in the marinade and refrigerate at least 2 hours, overnight is best.
-Preheat a grill to high heat. (or use your oven broiler but keep an eye on it)
-Weave the seitan onto skewers, then grill for 5 minutes per side.

Since this is a vegan recipe, you can use left over marinade as a dipping sauce. (Take that, chicken!)

Spinach-Tofu Dumplings (With Options)

5 ounces baby spinach
5 ounces firm tofu, cut into slabs
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
45 vegan gyoza or wonton wrappers (search the Asian market near you- some are eggless)
Optional add-ins: Shredded sauteed cabbage, finely-shredded carrot, peas,finely-chopped water chestnuts, etc. Be sure to increase the corn starch slightly, and drain excess liquids

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Heat a skillet with a small amount of peanut/vegetable oil. Saute the tofu on each side. When cooled, chop into a small dice.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a colander. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze it dry, then coarsely chop it. Keep the water hot.
-Transfer the spinach to a medium bowl and stir in the tofu, cornstarch, soy sauce and sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Add-ins go in at this time.
-Working with 4 wonton wrappers at a time, dampen the edges and mound 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each wrapper. Fold 1 corner of each up over the filling and seal to make triangles (or one edge and make half-moons if your dumplings are round). Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
-Return the water to a boil. Add the dumplings and simmer over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the edges are al dente, about 3 minutes. Carefully drain in a colander and transfer to a platter. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Alternate Cooking Methods:
Deep drying OR
Pot stickers- make dumplings as instructed, but instead of boiling, saute the dumplings in a large pan until golden. Add about 2/3 c vegetable broth and cover, steaming for about 6 minutes.

White Bean Crostini w/ Spicy Cucumbers
1/2 pound navy beans, soaked overnight and drained
3 large garlic cloves, 1 minced
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 English cucumber, very thinly sliced crosswise (can use wide vegetable peeler)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
40 1/2-inch-thick baguette slices, toasted

-Put the beans in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add the 2 whole garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and bay leaf and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (you can use canned beans for this as well- be sure to drain and rinse them)
-Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer the beans, garlic and cooking liquid to a food processor and puree. Press the puree through a coarse strainer into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice and season with table salt and pepper.
-Spread the cucumber slices in a large glass baking dish. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the vinegar, sugar, kosher salt and crushed red pepper; stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the dressing over the cucumber and toss. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, tossing occasionally.
-Just before serving, spread each slice of toast with white bean puree and top with cucumber slices. Arrange the crostini on a platter and serve.

Makes 40 servings

BASIC cooking tips, hints, and product info
And I mean basic, baby.

To peel and chop garlic: take the clove and lay flat on cutting board. Take the wide part of your chef knife, lay it on top of garlic, make a fist and hit the flat part of the blade. The peel will come off. Wet your knife before cutting garlic, as it gets sticky.

Q:Why do we cut bread on the diagonal?
A: Because it looks prettier and also adds to surface area so we can put more stuff on it to stuff our little faces with

Q:What can I do with discarded veggies?
A: put them in a container and boil them into a stock

Q:What are all these products you are talking about?
A:Tofutti, makers of vegan cream cheese, sour cream, sliced cheese, ice creams, etc. Follow Your Heart Cheese, Vegenaise, Nasoya", Lipton Onion Soup (I have failed you. It's a Kraft product.), Earth Balance

Friday, December 07, 2007

Birthday Cake for a Friend

Happy Birthday, Cindy!

This birthday cake was so good. I mean REALLY good. Probably the best (if not, one of the best) cakes I have made. My boyfriend doesn't really do sweets (blasphemy) but he had 2 pieces!

It is a lemon cake, filled with raspberry jam and frosted with lemon cream cheese icing. The contrast is lovely.

I must give credit where credit is due- my recipes are the slightest tinkering of Kittee's Vanilla Double Layer Cake and VCTOTW's Cream Cheese Icing.


In a large bowl, sift* the following:
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

In a separate bowl, mix the following:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 cups water
3/4 cups vegetable oil

Also: you will need a jar of good raspberry jam. I used Polaner Seedless Raspberry.

*If you do not have a sifter, use a mesh colander or something else. You want air in and lumps out.

Pour the liquids into the sifted dry ingredients and mix. Don't overmix, though. I mixed enough where I couldn't see lumps, and it came out fine.

Pour into 2 round cake pans (even amount in each). I use a nonstick 9" Wilton round cakepan. I sprayed it with nonstick spray and also cut a parchment round and placed it in the bottom to ensure easy non-sticking.

Cook in a 350 degree oven, roughly 30 min. When you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should be clean. Let rest 10 minutes out of the ofen then carefully place on a cooling rack to cool.

Next, cut in half lengthwise. The easiest way I have found to do this is cut about 2 inches in all around the cake, then take a piece of floss, wrap it around inside the 2' cut and pull it through the cake. Then again, I am no cake decorator and my cake is uneven, so take it or leave it! Keep cake (you will now have 4 flat cakes) on cooling rack until ready to assemble. Remember to remove parchment if you are using.

To assemble:
Use about a cup or more of jam. Heat in microwave a few seconds until it's very spreadable.

Put flat bottom of one cake on surface. Slather with jam. Top with (round) (top) cake. Slather with jam. Invert the other (round) cake and place it on top. Slather with jam again. Place final (flat) piece on top and let sit So basically you put one whole cake upside down on the other, except it makes 4 layers and has jam in each layer. I hope that made sense!

Frosting (Makes enough to frost the cake and decorate with some left over. You may want to do 3/4 of this recipe)

1/2 c vegan Cream Cheese (Better Than Cream Cheese), room temperature
1/2 c vegan margarine (Earth Balance), room temperature
4 c powdered sugar, sifted
dash lemon extract (I probably used 1-1 1/2 teaspoons total, do it to taste)

Cream cream cheese and margarine until combined (don't overmix). Add sugar in 1/2 cup increments until all sugar is added. Add extract at the end.

Decorate your heart out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanksgiving, Pumpkin Rolls, Veganomicon, DEOTS

Haven't posted in a while!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My mom is a great cook and made everything vegan-friendly (that could be). She made:
Knot rolls
Home-made cranberry sauce
Butternut Squash
Green Beans
Mashed potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

I made Green Bean casserole, Smlove Pie, and Tofurkey.

Table spread


My plate

Smlove Pie

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Don't Eat Off The Sidewalk (aka DEOTS)

This next dish comes from
Veganomicon (VCON). Chickpea cutlets with red wine roux. I made lemon-butter noodles as well.

Rough recipe for lemon butter noodles:

Cook up 1/2 bag egg-free noodles, drain. In same pan (dry), heat 1/2 c vegetable stock, 2 Tb. earth balance margarine, and let simmer a little. It will thicken slightly. Add a 1/2-1 Tbsp. or more lemon juice and add noodles back in, coating well.