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.

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.

Quick Non-Dairy Sour Cream

Tofu-based sour cream has never appealed to me because I cannot tolerate the chalky undertaste; and uncultured cashew-based sour cream doesn’t work for me either because the natural sweetness of the cashews yields a product that is much too sweet for my liking (although it works in dessert applications). Cultured cashew-based sour cream, on the other hand, has a very accurate dairy sour cream flavor because the lacto-bacterial culture converts the natural sugar in the cashews into lactic acid, thus providing the authentic tanginess and eliminating the excessively sweet taste. However, preparing rejuvelac and culturing the cream takes several days and sometimes a quick alternative is appreciated.

It took some experimentation to achieve a texture and flavor that satisfied my taste, but I think this quick version makes an excellent alternative to its cultured counterpart. While this recipe still uses cashews to add body to the cream, the ratio of cashews is significantly reduced. Please note that there is no alternative to using soymilk in this recipe. Thickening is dependent upon the curdling action of soymilk when lactic acid is introduced. Other plant milks will not react to the acid in the same manner.

Vegan lactic acid powder can be purchased online from ModernistPantry.com. Citric acid powder can be used as an alternative to lactic acid powder but will not provide the same lactic dairy flavor. I don’t recommend lemon juice as an alternative acid for this recipe, since the water content in lemon juice will thin the texture too much. This recipe yields about 1 and ¾ cup sour cream.

Ingredients
• ¼ cup refined coconut oil
• ½ cup (2.5 oz.) whole raw cashews (pre-soaking is not necessary)
• 1 and ¼ cup organic plain unsweetened soymilk (sorry, no substitutes)
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 and ½ tsp lactic acid

Preparation
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 the coconut oil and set aside.

Measure the lactic acid and set aside in a small dish.

Add the cashews, soymilk and salt to a high-powered blender, cover and process for 2 full minutes.

Remove the lid plug and with the blender running on high speed, add the coconut oil.
Reduce the speed to low and add the lactic acid powder. The cream will thicken instantly – turn the blender off. Do not continue to process once thickened.

Transfer the sour cream to an airtight container, seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours until well-chilled and further thickened. Consume within 10 days of preparation.

Sunflower Parmesano

DSC09227-001Sunflower Parmesano is prepared from sunflower seeds and is a tasty alternative to grated dairy Parmesan for those abstaining from dairy products and for those who cannot consume tree nuts due to allergies. It has a granular texture reminiscent of a grated dairy Parmesan and Romano cheese blend. While it lacks the pungent aroma of its dairy counterparts, it has its own unique identity and savory flavor. Because Sunflower Parmesano is made with miso, a fermented product or “living” food, the flavor will continue to develop during refrigeration. It will also stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks or more if stored in an airtight container.

Ingredients
• 3 oz. natural raw sunflower seeds
• ¼ cup white rice flour
• 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 Tbsp mellow white miso paste
• ¾ tsp vegan Lactic Acid (available from www.ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp garlic powder

Preparation
Place the sunflower seeds and the white rice flour into a food processor and process until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until well-blended. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.

Tip: If you are allergic to soy, look for miso paste made from chickpeas.

Indonesian Vegan Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

DSC09190The sauce/dressing used for this salad is tangy, creamy and slightly spicy with bold Southeast Asian flavors. Peanut butter is rich in natural plant fat/oil, so I didn’t add any additional oil to the sauce – it just doesn’t need it. I chose crunchy peanut butter since many Indonesian and Southeast Asian dishes call for chopped or ground peanuts; however, smooth peanut butter can be used if this is your preference. Sambal oelek is a crushed chili paste commonly used in this regional cuisine, but Sriracha™ can be substituted if this is what you have on hand.

Sauce Ingredients
• ¼ cup warm water
• 2 tsp organic sugar
• 2 T rice vinegar
• 2 T fresh lime juice
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T sambal oelek or Sriracha™
• 1 T fresh grated ginger root
• ½ cup natural unsalted crunchy peanut butter
• 1 large scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped

Sauce Preparation
In a bowl or large cup, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the scallion and whisk vigorously until creamy. Stir in the scallions and refrigerate in a covered container for several hours to blend the flavors before using.

Salad Ingredients
• 3 cups lightly grilled or sautéed vegan chicken; chilled and chopped, sliced or shredded
• ½ English cucumber, seeded and julienned
• 2 average-size carrots, peeled and julienned or shredded
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro or mint leaves
• fresh lime wedges
• Butterhead lettuce leaves (Butter, Boston or Bibb lettuces all fall within this category)

Salad Preparation
Toss the vegan chicken, cucumber and carrots with ¼ cup of the sauce and chill for about 30 minutes. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Fill lettuce leaves with the salad and drizzle additional dressing over each lettuce cup. Serve with lime wedges.