Eggless Quittata

DSC09613-002A quittata is a hybrid of a frittata and a quiche. What makes this recipe unique, other than the fact that it’s 100% plant-based, is the savory bread crust (as opposed to using a traditional quiche pastry crust). Tender and flaky pastry crust can be difficult to prepare and personally I find them to be rather bland in flavor. The savory bread crust resolves that problem and requires no baking skills. As the quittata bakes, the exterior crust becomes nice and crispy while the interior remains moist and tender. And unlike a traditional pastry crust, it won’t crumble when sliced, which makes a much nicer presentation.

If you don’t have a springform pan, the quittata can be baked in a casserole dish or baking dish and served as a breakfast/brunch casserole. Seasonings and vegetables can be modified to suit your taste; just be sure any vegetables are cooked sufficiently to remove excess moisture before adding to the eggless custard mixture.

For a traditional eggless quiche or frittata, refer to the “Chef’s Tip” at the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients for the Eggless Filling
• 2 cartons (12.3 oz. each) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• ½ medium onion, diced
• 4 oz. mushrooms, any variety, sliced or chopped
• 8 oz. ground vegan sausage (or replace with vegetables of your choice)
• ½ tsp dried thyme
• ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• 6 Tbsp cornstarch or unmodified potato starch
• 4 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
• ¾ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt)

Ingredients for the Savory Crust
• 5 to 6 oz. “day old” bread of your choice (about 6 slices, crust intact), cut into small cubes
• ¼ cup non-dairy butter or margarine, melted (plus additional for greasing the springform pan)
• 1 tsp dried marjoram
• ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
• ½ tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• 4 oz. shredded vegan cheese that melts (about 1 and ½ cup)

Additional Item
• 9-inch springform pan (or for a casserole use a baking dish or shallow casserole dish)

Technique
Drain the tofu and slice each block into 4 slabs. Place the slabs on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel to drain for a minimum of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, blot the surface of the tofu with additional toweling to remove as much moisture as possible. This step is very important or the quittata will fail to set properly.

While the tofu is draining, prepare the crust and the filling. Generously grease the springform pan with butter or margarine and place the pan on a baking sheet. In large mixing bowl, toss the cubed bread with the melted butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Pack the bread mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the bread mixture. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Add the olive oil to a skillet and place over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, sausage (or vegetables), and a pinch or two of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms have completely released their moisture and the onions are beginning to caramelize. It is essential that the mixture be cooked thoroughly and the excess moisture evaporated or the quittata will fail to set properly. Stir in the thyme and black pepper and set aside to cool.

Crumble the silken tofu into a food processor. Add the starch, nutritional yeast and kala namak. Process the contents until smooth. Transfer the tofu mixture to the mixing bowl. Stir in the skillet mixture and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the filling over the bread and cheese mixture and smooth the surface with the back of the spoon; sprinkle with additional ground black pepper, if desired. Bake uncovered on the middle oven rack for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the quittata is golden. Let the quittata cool for about 15 to 20 minutes to allow it to “set” before removing from the springform pan and transferring to a serving plate. Slice and serve.

If the quittata needs to be reheated, cover securely with foil and heat in the oven at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Slices can also be reheated in the microwave but this will make the crust a bit soggy.

Chef’s Tip: For a traditional eggless quiche, omit the savory bread crust and prebake a 9-inch pastry crust for about 15 minutes at 375°F. Layer 4 oz. of shredded cheese over the bottom of the crust. Add the eggless filling mixture and smooth the top. Bake uncovered on the middle oven rack for about 50 minutes or until golden. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes to allow it to “set” before slicing and serving.

For a traditional eggless frittata, omit the crust entirely and spoon the eggless filling mixture into a greased 9-inch oven-safe stainless steel skillet or a tart pan with or without a removable bottom. Smooth the surface and top with 4 oz. shredded cheese. Bake at 375°F on the middle oven rack for about 50 minutes or until golden. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes to allow it to “set” before slicing and serving.

No’Nam Pla (Vegan Asian “Fish” Sauce)

This briny infusion is rich in “umami” (a loanword from the Japanese which can be described as a “pleasant savory flavor”) and can be used in equal amounts as a replacement for traditional fish sauce in your favorite Southeast Asian recipes. This recipe yields about 1 cup.

Ingredients
• 2 cups water
• ¼ cup tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• ½ medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 T (4 g) dried shredded wakame (seaweed)
• 1 oz (28 g) dried shiitake, porcini or portabella mushrooms
• 1 tsp whole black peppercorns

Technique
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a glass jar, pressing the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use. Due to its salt content, this sauce should stay fresh for several months in the refrigerator.

Lemon Meringue Pie

DSC09494Tangy and refreshing lemon curd is poured into a prebaked pie crust and then chilled until set. The pie is then topped with billowy clouds of eggless meringue and lightly baked to perfection.

About the meringue: The recipe and technique for the eggless meringue is an adaptation of a recipe posted by Goose Wohlt in a vegan cooking group on Facebook. However, I do know that other chefs have been experimenting with chickpea liquid to create a whipped “egg white” texture prior to Goose’s discovery. Regardless of the originator, the idea is brilliant and I offer my heartfelt gratitude. For the meringue you will need a stand mixer with a balloon whip attachment or a handheld electric rotary mixer with a whip attachment or 2 beaters.

Note: As a pie meringue, I feel this recipe is superior to meringue made with Versawhip 600K and far superior to egg replacer powder; however, Versawhip 600K is still my ingredient of choice for preparing marshmallows and crispy meringue cookies (because it is a pure protein rather than a starch).

Pie Crust
• 1 nine-inch non-dairy and egg-free pie crust

Pie Filling Ingredients
• 1 carton (12.3 oz.) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar
• 1 and ¼ cup organic sugar
• 1 cup water
• ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
• 5 T cornstarch or unmodified potato starch
• 1 T fresh grated lemon zest
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Meringue Ingredients
• ½ cup plus 2 T organic sugar
• 1 can (15 oz.) cooked white beans (Great Northern, cannellini or white navy) or garbanzo beans (chickpeas), preferably salt-free*
• ½ tsp guar gum, xanthan gum or sodium alginate
(food gum stabilizes the meringue and discourages deflation when baked)
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract

*In my opinion, Great Northern beans possess the mildest flavor which is ideal for this recipe.

Technique
In a DRY blender process the meringue sugar (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) until finely powdered. Set the powdered sugar aside in a small bowl. This will be used for preparing the meringue and is not added to the pie filling mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the pie crust for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove and set aside to cool.

In the same blender, process the pie filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the blender contents into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a flexible spatula. The mixture will be foamy and milky in appearance. Stir constantly as the mixture begins to thicken. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and the milky and foamy appearance transforms into a thick and gelatinous lemon curd.

Pour the filling into the pie crust, smooth the top gently with a rubber/silicone spatula or the back of a spoon and place in the refrigerator uncovered for a minimum of 2 hours until the top of the pie is firmly set.

After the pie has chilled for a minimum of 2 hours, preheat the oven to 200°F while preparing the meringue.

Preparing the Meringue
Strain the liquid from the can of beans into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the food gum and begin whipping on high speed for 3 minutes.

Gradually begin to incorporate the powdered sugar, in increments, while whipping. Continue to whip the mixture until soft peaks begin to form. Add the vanilla and continue to whip the mixture until it is voluminous and stiff peaks begin to form.

DSC09479Spoon and spread the meringue onto the surface of the pie, avoiding the edges by ½-inch. Create soft peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. To lightly brown the meringue, set the oven on “Broil” and position the pie on an oven rack close to the flame source. Keep the oven door open while doing this and watch the meringue carefully – it will brown quickly and can burn easily. Rotate the pie as needed until the peaks are evenly browned.

Remove to cool for about 5 minutes and then place the pie in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly for several hours until completely set before serving. Keep the pie refrigerated but do not cover or the meringue will turn into a gooey liquid.

For Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts
Prepare the pie filling according to the recipe. Fill individual frozen mini fillo cups with the filling and refrigerate as recommended. Then top with a small dollop of meringue and bake according to the directions. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.

Channa Masala Hummus

DSC09354-005This unique dip and spread is a flavorful fusion of warm, aromatic Indian spices and creamy Mediterranean hummus. A blender is required for efficient processing.

Ingredients
• ¼ cup olive oil, divided in half
• 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 large jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 T tomato paste
• 2 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp paprika plus additional for garnish
• 2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
• 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed well and drained
• ¼ cup cashew butter or sesame tahini
• ¼ cup water
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• ¾ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• optional garnishes: toasted cumin seeds*; chopped tomato; Hari Chutney (see recipe in this blog)

*To toast the cumin seeds, place 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds in a dry skillet and place over medium-low heat. Occasionally shake the skillet back and forth gently until the seeds are very aromatic, about 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Transfer to a small dish to cool.

Technique
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet and place over medium heat. Add the onions and hot pepper and sauté until the onions are lightly golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, paprika and ginger and stir to combine. Sauté until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Add the garbanzo beans, cashew butter or tahini, water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and salt to a blender. Add the sautéed mixture. Cover and process until very smooth. Add additional water as needed for processing (this shouldn’t be necessary).

Taste the mixture and add salt to taste as desired. Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until well-chilled. The mixture will thicken upon chilling. To serve, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with toasted cumin seeds. Also garnish with chopped tomato and Hari Chutney, if desired. Serve with wedges of pita or crackers; or use as a dip for fresh vegetables. Channa Masala Hummus also makes a unique sandwich spread.

Hari Chutney (Cilantro Mint)

DSC09368-002This bright green, tangy and refreshing Indian chutney is my absolute favorite condiment. Enjoy it with all Indian cuisine and as a spread or dip for samosa (deep-fried or baked pastry with savory filling), pakoras (Indian vegetable fritters) naan, papadum, roti and any and all other flatbreads and crackers. If you have a timid palate, start with ½ of the green chile and increase according to taste. Try mixing the chutney with plain non-dairy yogurt for a uniquely different salad dressing. It also adds wonderful flavor to non-dairy Crème Fraîche, sour cream and even eggless mayonnaise. The chutney will last about 1 week stored in the refrigerator; simply freeze any unused portion (try freezing in silicone molds or ice cube trays for easy use). This recipe yields about 1 and ¾ cup.

Ingredients
• 2 large bunches of cilantro (excess stems at bottom removed)
• 1 large handful of mint leaves (stems removed)
• 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 small green chile, seeded and chopped (or a large chile if you can take the heat)
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• ¾ tsp sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste

Technique
Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with additional salt to taste as desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Eggless Egg Omelets (New Method)

DSC09366-001Fluffy and delicate eggless omelets can be filled with your choice of ingredients. The cooking technique has been simplified from earlier editions of my cookbook, which allows all omelets to be prepared and served at the same time. A standard 9-inch pie plate is required for each omelet (non-stick is not required). This recipe yields 2 omelets, so you will need 2 pie plates to prepare 2 omelets at the same time. For additional omelets, simply double or triple the recipe and use additional pie plates for each omelet (most large ovens can accommodate 6 pie plates with three on each rack). This is a foolproof method of preparation with no-risk of scorching or undercooking, so don’t be intimated to try it.

Ingredients
• 1 carton (12.3 oz.) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar
• 3 Tbsp cornstarch, unmodified potato starch or arrowroot flour
• 1 Tbsp non-dairy butter (from my cookbooks) or commercial vegan margarine, softened or melted
• 1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
• ½ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt) – or sea salt or kosher salt if you prefer
• ⅛ tsp onion powder
• ⅛ tsp turmeric
• fillings, toppings and garnishes of your choice

Tip: Cheese Melts (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook) work beautifully for omelets since the cheese is already melted. Shredded block cheeses (from the same cookbook) can be added to the cooked filling mixture while still warm to assist melting before filling the omelet.

Technique
Remove the tofu from the carton. Slice the tofu into 4 slabs and place the slabs on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel to drain for a minimum of 20 minutes. Firmly blot the tofu with additional towels to remove as much moisture as possible. This step is very important or the omelets will not set properly.

Crumble the tofu into a food processor* and add the starch, nutritional yeast, butter or margarine, kala namak, onion powder and turmeric. Process the contents until smooth. The ingredients will form a thick, pale cream (the egg color will develop when the mixture is cooked). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside while the oven is preheated and any fillings are prepared.

*A blender can be used, but the mixture will be thick and difficult to retrieve from around the blades; therefore a food processor is recommended for ease of preparation.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. If using a convection oven, reduce the heat by 25°F/10°C.

When using vegetables that have high moisture content, such as mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, diced tomatoes, etc., be sure to sauté them until they have released most of their liquid. Transfer the vegetables and other fillings to a separate bowl and set aside. If using shredded cheese, mix the shreds with the warm filling to assist melting before filling the omelet.

Lightly mist the pie plate(s) with cooking oil spray. Add half of the mixture (about ¾ cup) to each plate. With the back of large spoon or flexible spatula, pat and spread the mixture evenly to the interior edges of the plate. Place the pie plates, uncovered, into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Test the omelets by touching the center; the center should feel dry to the touch. If it feels gooey, bake an additional minute or two until just dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and spoon the filling onto one side of the omelet. With a flexible spatula, carefully lift the opposite side of the omelet over the filling. Return the omelet(s) to the oven for 3 minutes.

Slide the omelet(s) onto a serving plate and top and/or garnish as desired. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Kalamata Olive and Artichoke Hummus

DSC09281-001Artichoke hearts and tangy Kalamata olives are blended with chickpeas and Mediterranean herbs to create this savory dip and spread. A food processor is recommended for a textured dip (which is ideal for this recipe) but a high-powered blender can also be used for a smoother texture.

Ingredients
• 1 can (about 14 oz.) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed thoroughly and drained well
• ¼ cup sesame tahini
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp dried basil
• ¾ tsp sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper, or more to taste
• 1 can (about 14 oz.) artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well (about 8 oz. after draining)
• ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained well and cut in half to ensure that there are no stray pits
• optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, chopped Kalamata olives and a drizzle of olive oil

Technique
Place the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, basil, salt and black pepper into a food processor and process into a coarse paste.

Add the artichoke hearts and olives and process until blended but slightly chunky (or smooth if you prefer); season with additional salt and pepper to taste (keep in mind that the olives are inherently salty). Refrigerate to blend the flavors.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, chopped olives and a drizzle of olive oil before serving, if desired. Serve with toasted pita wedges or crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.

Quick Yogurt (uncultured)

Non-dairy yogurt preparation involves introducing specific strains of lactobacillus bacteria into a blend of soy and cashew milk. The yogurt culture then produces lactic acid which in turn thickens and acidifies the milk mixture, thus creating the tangy yogurt.

With this recipe and technique, the culturing step is bypassed and commercial lactic acid is added directly to the milk mixture, which creates a thick and tangy uncultured yogurt.

While it lacks the probiotic benefits of cultured yogurt, quick yogurt offers convenience for culinary applications. No substitutions can be made for any ingredient in this recipe since each ingredient serves a specific function. This recipe yields about 2 and ¼ cup; should more be needed, simply double the recipe.

Ingredients
• ½ cup (2.5 oz.) whole raw cashews (sorry, no substitutions)
• 2 cups organic plain unsweetened soymilk (sorry, no substitutions)
• 2 and ½ tsp vegan lactic acid powder* (sorry, no substitutions)

*Vegan lactic acid powder is available from ModernistPantry.com

Preparation
Rinse the cashews to remove any debris, drain and place them into a blender (they do not require pre-soaking). Add the soymilk and process on high speed for 2 full minutes.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a small saucepan. This will capture any minute particles; a nut milk bag is not required.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir slowly and continually until the mixture thickens and is just coming to a simmer. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat to cool for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally while cooling to discourage a “skin” from forming on the surface.

Whisk in the lactic acid powder until blended and transfer the mixture to a sealable container. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and thickened. Use in your favorite recipe as needed. If the yogurt thickens excessively or becomes lumpy during refrigeration, add small amounts of soymilk while whisking vigorously until silky and smooth.

Chilled Greek Garden Soup

DSC09239-001Chilled Greek Garden Soup is a delightfully refreshing spin on the classic Greek salad. This recipe yields about 6 servings.

Soup Ingredients
• 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole peeled tomatoes with liquid
• 1 large cucumber
• 1 small red onion
• 1 red bell pepper or large sweet red pepper, chopped
• 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 T red wine vinegar
• 1 T sherry vinegar or dark balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper, or more to taste

Garnishes
• thinly sliced cucumber
• thinly sliced red onion
• fresh marjoram leaves (optional)
• pitted Kalamata olives, halved
• micro greens or baby greens of your choice, such as arugula
• crumbled Mediterranean Feta (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)

Preparation
Thinly slice several cucumber rounds with the peel intact. Set aside for the garnish. Peel the remaining cucumber, cut in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Chop the cucumber and add to a blender.

Thinly slice some of the red onion and set aside for the garnish. Chop the remaining onion and add to the blender. Add the chopped red bell pepper.
Add one can of the tomatoes with liquid to the blender. Add the olive oil, vinegars, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Process the mixture until smooth and transfer to a large sealable container. Add the remaining tomatoes with liquid to the blender and pulse a few times until puréed but chunky. Stir the chunky tomatoes into the soup mixture in the container; season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled to blend the flavors.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with the garnishes. Serve with toasted pita wedges if desired.

Easy Cream Cheese (Tofu and Cashew Base)

This recipe produces a velvety smooth cream cheese that rivals its commercial non-dairy counterparts; and since no culturing is involved, it’s much quicker to make than cultured non-dairy cream cheese (however, for a truly authentic and complex lactic flavor, I do recommend the cultured cashew-based Cream Cheese in my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook). The cheese mixture is very thick, therefore a high-powered blender is recommended for efficient processing.

Vegan lactic acid powder can be obtained from ModernistPantry.com. Please do not replace the soymilk with other non-dairy milks since the curdling reaction of the lactic acid with the soymilk is essential to the final texture. This recipe yields about 2 cups.

Ingredients
• ¾ cup (3.75 oz. by weight) whole raw cashews
• ½ cup organic plain unsweetened soymilk
• ½ block (about 7 oz. before pressing) firm or extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• ¼ cup refined coconut oil
• 2 tsp lactic acid powder
• ½ tsp raw apple cider vinegar
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt

Preparation
Rinse the cashews to remove any dust or debris and drain thoroughly. In a covered container, soak the cashews in the soymilk for a minimum of 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Press the tofu to remove as much moisture as possible.

Remove the lid from the coconut oil and place the jar or bottle into a microwave. Heat until melted (about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending upon the solidity of the coconut oil); avoid overheating the oil. Alternately, place the jar or bottle into a container filled with near boiling water and let stand until the oil melts. Measure ¼ cup.

Tip: Let the cashews, soymilk and tofu come to room temperature before blending as this will make processing easier.

Add the cashews, soymilk and coconut oil to a high-powered blender and process the contents on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender jar and push the mixture down into the blades as necessary (the mixture will be very thick, so use a tamper tool if you have one).

Crumble the tofu into the blender and add the lactic acid, vinegar and salt. Continue to process on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender jar and push the mixture down into the blades as necessary (the mixture will be extremely thick at this point, so use a tamper tool if you have one). Transfer the cheese mixture to a container with a lid and refrigerate until chilled.

Variations: For cream cheese with onion and chives, stir in 1 tablespoon dried minced onion and 1 tablespoon freeze-dried minced chives before chilling. For fruit flavored cream cheese, mix ¼ cup all-fruit jam into the cream cheese after it has chilled and firmed.