Chef’s Favorite Garden Salsa

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This fresh chunky garden salsa has a medium heat which can be adjusted to suit your taste. I chose canned whole tomatoes because they are partially stewed during the canning process, thus producing a superb texture for salsa. It’s very easy to make and so much better than store-bought. This recipe yields about 4 cups.

Ingredients:
• 2 cans (28 oz each) whole tomatoes
• 3 large scallions or 6 small scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
• 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 for timid palates)
• juice of 1 lime
• 1 small Serrano or jalapeno pepper, finely minced (about 1 T), or more to taste
(for a fiery salsa try including the seeds; for a milder salsa reduce or omit)
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro, or more to taste
• ¾ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Technique:
Remove the tomatoes from the can and finely dice, reserving any juice in the can for other uses, if desired. The tomatoes themselves contain a great deal of juice, so use a cutting board with irrigation channels if you have one; if not, dice 1 or 2 tomatoes at a time. Place the diced tomatoes in a mixing bowl and toss together with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for several hours to blend the flavors, ideally overnight.

Taste and add additional salt before serving, as desired. The salsa will keep for about 10 days in the refrigerator. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips; or use as a topping for your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex recipes.

Refrigerator Pickles

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These easy-to-make pickles are fresh, crisp, tangy and nicely seasoned. The amount of brine is sufficient for preparing 2 quarts of pickles.

Ingredients:
• cucumbers, any variety, but pickling cucumbers are best
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced
• 3 cups filtered water
• ½ cup champagne vinegar or white vinegar
• 3 T sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 T organic sugar
• 2 T minced garlic (6 cloves)
• 2 T fresh chopped dill
• 1 tsp whole coriander seeds (optional)
• 1 tsp whole peppercorns or ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
• 2 bay leaves

Technique:
In a bowl or large measuring cup, dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water to create the brine. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, dill and optional coriander seeds and pepper to a large container with a lid, or divide among 2 mason jars.

For smaller cucumbers, such as pickling cucumbers, leave unpeeled and slice in half or quarter lengthwise. For larger salad cucumbers which have tougher skins, use a vegetable peeler to cut strips of peel away, leaving some of the peel intact. This gives the cucumbers a nice variegated appearance; then cut into ¼ to ½-inch crosswise slices.

Stand the spears upright or layer the slices in the 2 jars. If using a large container, lay the spears on their side or layer the slices.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers, submerging them completely. Cover tightly. Refrigerate for a minimum of 72 hours, but the longer they “pickle”, the better. Enjoy!

Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Bean Dip

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A zesty and cheesy Southwestern bean dip served hot with your favorite chips or bread for dipping.

Ingredients:
• 1 can (15 oz) or 2 cups cooked white beans (cannellini, navy or Great Northern)
• mild-flavor cooking oil
• 3 large jalapenos, seeded and diced
• 1 large Anaheim chili, seeded and diced or 1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies
• ½ medium onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 and ¾ cup non-dairy milk (soymilk works best)
• ¼ cup tapioca flour (starch)
• 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 T mellow white miso paste
• 2 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 tsp lactic acid powder or 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
• ½ cup panko bread crumbs or plain, dry breadcrumbs

*Note: Use protective gloves when handling jalapeno peppers; or wash your hands thoroughly several times after handling.

Technique:
If using canned beans, rinse thoroughly until all traces of foam disappear. Drain well and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a small, shallow baking dish with cooking oil and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a skillet and place over medium-low heat. Add the jalapeno, fresh Anaheim chili, onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and “sweat” the vegetables until softened (if using canned mild green chilies, set aside for later).

If using canned green chilies, add them at this time. Increase the heat to medium and sauté until any liquid has evaporated and the onions are translucent and lightly golden – do not brown. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool.

In a small saucepan, whisk together the non-dairy milk, tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, miso, salt and acids. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is hot, cheesy, bubbly and smooth (the cheese sauce will be somewhat salty at this stage but will balance out when mixed with the bean purée and vegetables). Keep warm over low heat.

Place the white beans into a food processor and process into a paste. Alternately, mash the beans thoroughly with a potato masher or ricer. Transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the cheese mixture to the mixing bowl and stir all ingredients thoroughly. Transfer to the greased baking dish, spread evenly and top with the panko crumbs. Season the topping with coarse ground black pepper and mist with cooking oil spray. The oil will help the crumbs brown in the oven.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly. To enhance browning if necessary, place under the broiler for about 1 minute.

Serve hot with warm tortilla chips, chunks of crusty bread or crackers. The dip will be saucy when very hot but will thicken substantially as it cools.

Maryland Crab’less Cakes

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Maryland Crab’less Cakes have an amazing crab-like texture and authentic seafood flavor, which makes them an impressive seafood appetizer or first course. The cakes are baked rather than fried, which ensures that they are cooked through evenly, and with less fat. This recipe yields 8 large to 12 standard-size crab’less cakes.

Crab’less cake ingredients:
• 1 can (14 oz.) hearts of palm*
• ½ cup chopped green onions, including some of the green
• ½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
• 2 T olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 block (14 oz.) firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu (do not use silken tofu)
• ½ sheet toasted nori seaweed, torn into pieces
• ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
• ¼ cup unmodified potato starch, cornstarch or arrowroot powder
• 2 tsp Chesapeake Bay™ or Old Bay™ seasoning
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce (pg. ) or similar
• ½ tsp fine sea salt of kosher salt
• ⅓ cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs) or gluten-free bread or cracker crumbs

For the breading, you will need:
• 1 cup very fine, dry breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs of your choice
• 2 tsp Chesapeake Bay™ or Old Bay™ seasoning
• cooking oil spray for misting

*Canned hearts of palm can be found in most supermarkets. Hearts of palm, when flaked, bear a resemblance to crabmeat. Hearts of palm are commercially grown and harvested in Central America and Hawaii and have absolutely no relation to the palm species from which palm oil is derived.

Technique:
Drain the liquid from the canned hearts of palm and rinse the hearts thoroughly in a colander; drain well. Cut the hearts into chunks.
Place the green onions and bell pepper into the food processor. Pulse until minced. Add the hearts of palm to the vegetables and pulse a few times until flaked. Do not purée!

Sauté the minced vegetables with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until the excess moisture is evaporated and the onion is lightly golden but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Drain the excess water from the tofu container and cut the tofu into quarters. Wrap the quarters in a lint-free kitchen towel, twist the top closed and squeeze the water from the tofu. Place the dry tofu in the food processor with the torn nori seaweed. Add the mayonnaise, starch, Chesapeake Bay™ or Old Bay™ seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Process the mixture briefly until the tofu has a crumbly texture. Do not process until smooth!

Transfer the seasoned tofu to the mixing bowl with the sautéed vegetables and add the panko crumbs. Stir well until the mixture begins to hold together.

Form 12 patties from the mixture, about 2 and ½-inches in diameter and ½-inch thick and set on a work surface. At this point, you will want to bread and bake only what you will be serving immediately. Store any extra patties in an airtight container between layers of wax paper and freeze until ready to use.

Baking the crab’less cakes:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a bowl, combine the fine breadcrumbs with the Bay seasoning. Gently press each patty into the breadcrumbs and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Mist the breaded patties lightly with cooking oil spray and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully flip the patties over. Continue to bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and let the patties cool for 10 minutes to set. Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice.

Grillin’ Burgers

Teriyaki Burger with Grilled Pineapple, Crispy Onion Straws and Guacamole

Teriyaki Burger with Grilled Pineapple,
Crispy Onion Straws and Guacamole

At last! A homemade cruelty-free burger with the appearance, flavor and texture of real ground beef hamburgers! This recipe yields 6 burgers.

For the dry ingredients you will need:
• 1 cup vital wheat gluten
• 2 T garbanzo bean flour or soy flour
• ½ tsp smoked paprika
• ¼ to ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• ⅛ tsp ground rosemary

For the liquid ingredients you will need:
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ cup fresh shredded onion, including liquid (see the technique below for instructions)
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T vegan Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 T olive oil
• 1 tsp liquid smoke
• ½ tsp browning liquid

For burgers with a uniform appearance, you will need a 3 and ½-inch ring mold. The burgers can also be shaped free-form if desired.

Technique:
Place a stainless steel wire rack on a baking sheet and line the rack with parchment paper. This will provide a layer of air between the rack and the baking sheet which will prevent the bottom of the burgers from over-browning.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

To shred the onion, cut the top and bottom from a large onion and peel away the outer layer. Shred the onion from the top or bottom end (which helps keep the rings from separating), using the largest holes on a box grater. Shred enough pulp to fill ¼ cup, including as much of the onion liquid as possible. Add the wet pulp to the other liquid ingredients in a separate bowl or measuring cup and stir.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Do not overwork the dough as the dough will become elastic and the burgers will be difficult to shape. The dough will be soft, wet and at saturation; this is necessary for producing the proper texture.

Divide the dough in the bowl into roughly 6 equal portions (divide the dough in half and each half into thirds).

Pick up a piece of dough and form it into a ball in your hands. Lay the ring mold on a work surface and press the ball of dough to fill the ring. If you don’t have a mold, simply press and shape the burgers free-form with your fingers.

Place the burgers onto the parchment paper and cover the baking sheet with foil. Crimp the edges to seal the foil around the baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet and let the burgers cool with the foil cover in place. When sufficiently cool, remove the foil and transfer and stack the burgers on the foil. Fold to create a package and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, or for up to 10 days, before grilling. Chilling will firm and enhance the burger texture. The burgers can also be wrapped in the foil between layers of wax paper or parchment paper and frozen for up to 3 months; just be sure to thaw the completely before grilling.

To grill the burgers on the stove, oil a non-stick skillet or grill pan and place over medium heat. Brush the burgers with liquid smoke or your favorite sauce, if desired, and pan-sear them until nicely browned. For outdoor grilling, brush the burgers with cooking oil and then liquid smoke or your favorite sauce, if desired. Grill over hot embers or a medium gas flame until grill marks appear. Avoid overcooking. Serve with your favorite condiments.

Raw Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage,” but is originally a Chinese invention made with rice wine. Sauerkraut is made from finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria which propagate naturally during the fermentation process. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctively sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.

Every chef has their own recipe for preparing sauerkraut and this is my personal formula and technique that works for me every time – with no undesirable mold blooms to skim from the surface of the brine during fermentation. Sauerkraut takes roughly 5 to 6 weeks from start to finish, so plan ahead and be patient – the results are worth waiting for.

Ingredients:
• 2 large heads green or red cabbage
• 3 T sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt
• 2 cups filtered or spring water
• 1 T dried juniper berries (optional)
• 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

You will also need:
• 1 gallon wide-mouthed clear glass jar
• cheesecloth
• 2 one-quart zip-lock bags
• plastic wrap

Technique:
Before beginning, make sure the jar has been washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water and rinsed well; or run through the heated cycle in a dishwasher. Wash your hands thoroughly.

In a small saucepan, add 3 cups spring or filtered water and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a brief boil and remove from the heat to cool until lukewarm.

Remove any loose and damaged leaves from the heads of cabbage and either discard the leaves, save for preparing stock or compost. Split the heads of cabbage lengthwise (from the crown to the core). Cut a “V” shape to remove the tough core from each half.

Place a half head, cut side down, on a clean work surface and using a very sharp knife, begin to slice or “shave” the cabbage as thinly as possible to create very thin, long ribbons. Take your time slicing the cabbage, as very fine shreds will yield the best texture in the finished sauerkraut (personally, I use only the long, thin ribbons for the sauerkraut and save any pieces that are too large or too small for vegetable stock).

Place the shreds into the jar and sprinkle in 2 teaspoons of the salt. Repeat shredding the second half and place in the jar. Sprinkle again with 2 teaspoons salt. Using a potato masher or similar object, pack down the cabbage as firmly as possible. The salt will help draw out the juice from the cabbage to create the brine. If using the juniper berries and/or caraway seeds, sprinkle half over the cabbage.

Repeat with the second head of cabbage, adding 2 teaspoons of salt for each shredded half added to the jar. Pack down the cabbage again. If using the juniper berries and/or caraway seeds, sprinkle the remaining portion over the cabbage.

Fold a double layer of cheesecloth in half and cut to fit into the jar with some excess for tucking. Place on top of the cabbage shreds and using a dull table knife, tuck the cheesecloth snugly around the inner circumference of the jar. This will hold the shreds in place and keep them from floating upwards in the brine. Pour the cooled salted water over the cheesecloth.

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Fill a zip-lock bag about ⅔-full of water and seal. Tuck the bag into the second zip-lock bag and seal. The second bag will ensure that no leaks of water occur from the water-filled bag.

Place the water-filled bag into the jar on top of the cheesecloth. The weight of the bag will keep the mass of cabbage completely submerged in the brine during fermentation. If the cabbage is submerged completely, no undesirable mold blooms will occur. Seal the top of the jar with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation of the brine.

Place the jar in a cool place (a basement or cool pantry being ideal). A room temperature of 68 to 72 degrees is best for fermenting cabbage. Formation of gas bubbles after a few days indicates fermentation is taking place. Mark your calendar for 5 to 6 weeks.

Once a week, check the jar. The formation of gas bubbles will sometimes cause the packed shreds to rise in the jar, which can potentially expose the surface to air, thus encouraging undesirable mold blooms. Simply remove the plastic film and re-tuck and push the cheesecloth down around the inner circumference with the edge of a spoon. There’s no need to remove the bag of water; simply work around it (but be careful not to puncture the bag!). Re-seal the top of the jar with plastic wrap.

When fermentation is complete, pack individual mason jars with the sauerkraut and add enough brine to keep the shreds covered with the liquid, while leaving ½-inch of headspace in the jar. Fully fermented sauerkraut can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for a few months. The sauerkraut can be eaten raw, which promotes a healthy intestinal flora; or it can be cooked and used in your favorite recipe.

Instant Cheddar Cheese Sauce Mix

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This instant mix is a convenient timesaver for creating a rich and tangy cheddar cheese sauce for topping hot sandwiches or pouring over potatoes, pasta, rice or cooked vegetables. This recipe yields 2 cups of dry mix which will make 8 cups of cheddar cheese sauce.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 cup tapioca flour
• 3 T onion powder
• 3 T tomato powder
• 4 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 tsp lactic acid powder (order from ModernistPantry.com)
• 2 tsp dry ground mustard
• 1 tsp garlic powder

Technique:
Process the ingredients in a DRY blender or food processor until finely powdered. Store the seasoning blend in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

To make 1 cup of cheese sauce, whisk together in a small saucepan until smooth:

• ¼ cup dry mix
• ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
(soymilk is recommended)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook the mixture, stirring slowly and continually with a silicone/rubber spatula until the mixture becomes thickened, smooth and glossy. Taste and add salt as desired. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm until ready to serve; stir occasionally.

Mini Yorkshire Puddings

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Yorkshire Pudding is an English dish traditionally made from a batter consisting of eggs, flour, and milk and then baked in hot pan drippings. It’s not a pudding in the American sense of the word but rather a cross between a popover and a soufflé. The dish is usually served with roast meat and gravy and is a staple of British cuisine.

Creating a vegan version without eggs poses a fundamental problem, since the eggs are necessary to inflate the batter as the pudding cooks. However, with a few adjustments and substitutions a very satisfying, albeit less inflated version can be made. Be sure to read though the directions first and then follow them carefully for success. Serve the “Yorkies” with sliced roast seitan and plenty of savory gravy.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 T vegan butter or margarine, melted
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup very warm water
• 1 T Ener-G™ egg replacer powder (or similar)
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• 1 cup plain unsweetened soymilk, room temperature

Technique:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Sift together the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

In a small dish, mix together the melted butter or margarine with the Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spoon a little over one teaspoon into the bottoms of a 6-cup muffin tin (in other words, divide evenly).

In a small bowl, whisk together the very warm water, egg replacer powder and baking powder until frothy.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and set a timer for 3 minutes to heat the “pan drippings”.

Meanwhile, add the soymilk, egg replacer mixture and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the flour and whisk vigorously until a smooth batter is achieved.

After 3 minutes, remove the muffin tin from the oven and immediately pour the batter, dividing evenly in each cup (about ⅓ of the way full). Place in the oven on a middle rack and set a timer for 35 minutes. Keep in mind that the puddings will have inflated only slightly and not in a dramatic fashion as their traditional egg-laden counterparts.

Remove the muffin tin from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Southwestern Polenta Crispy Fries with Cilantro Lime Aioli

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Golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender and delicious on the inside, these savory and generously spiced polenta fries are served with a tangy, citrusy sauce for dipping.

Ingredients for the polenta:
• 3 cups water
• 1 T vegan butter or margarine
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably non-GMO)
• 1 T dried minced chives or 2 T fresh
• 2 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp ancho chili powder (or any mild chili powder)
• ½ tsp dried oregano
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• ¼ tsp chipotle chili powder

Ingredients for the aioli:
• ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
• 2 T fresh chopped cilantro
• 2 tsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
• sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Technique:
Lightly oil a 9×5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter or margarine and salt to a boil.

In large measuring cup, mix together the cornmeal and remaining ingredients.

When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. While vigorously whisking, SLOWLY pour the cornmeal mixture into the simmering water. Slow addition of the cornmeal with vigorous stirring ensures that the corn meal does not form solid lumps. If lumps form, keep whisking until they break apart.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and begins to pull away from sides of saucepan. The mixture will cook quickly.

Spoon the cornmeal mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes and then place plastic wrap directly in contact with the surface; refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or until firm.

In the meantime, prepare the aioli by mixing together the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once the polenta has chilled and firmed, turn the cake onto a work surface. Cut the cake in half and then cut each half into “fries” or wedges (or any shape you desire). Deep fry the polenta in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. The polenta will take longer to brown than potato fries. Drain on a plate lined with several paper towels. Serve hot with the aioli.

Chef Skye’s Browning Liquid

For purists who prefer to make their own recipe components, I’ve developed what is to my knowledge the first and only browning liquid made with organic sugar. Browning liquid is useful for adding a rich brown color to gravies, soups, stews, seitan and TVP. This browning liquid has no added caramel color, nor does it have the sweet undertaste of commercial browning liquids.

For soups, gravies and stews use 1 teaspoon per 2 cups liquid. For seitan and TVP, use the amount specified in the recipe. This recipe yields about ⅓ cup browning liquid.

Warning: This recipe produces copious amounts of smoke. Do not attempt unless you have an overhead exhaust fan for your stove that vents outside!

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup very hot water
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T dark balsamic vinegar
• ½ cup organic sugar

Technique:
In a small measuring cup, mix the very hot water, tamari and vinegar; set aside.

In a small saucepan, place the dry sugar over medium-low heat. The goal is to melt the dry sugar and bring it to a darkly caramelized stage (essentially burnt). Swirl or gently shake the saucepan back and forth occasionally as the sugar begins to melt but do not stir. Melting will take several minutes. Be sure to run an overhead stove exhaust fan as the sugar will produce smoke as it begins to burn. As the sugar continues to melt and darken, it will begin to rise in the saucepan. At this point, begin stirring gently with a wire whisk. When the sugar reaches a very dark brown color, reduce the heat to low.

Now, while whisking vigorously, add the broth mixture a little at a time to the melted sugar. The mixture will foam and sizzle, so don’t be alarmed. Very hot steam will also be released, so try to keep your hands back as you stir with the whisk to avoid steam burns. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and then remove the saucepan from the heat to cool. Once cooled, the browning liquid will have a syrupy consistency.

The concentrated liquid will have a rather bitter, burnt flavor; however, when used in small amounts as recommended, it will add a beautiful brown color and enhance the flavor of your favorite recipes. Store the mixture in an airtight jar in your pantry; refrigeration is not necessary. Replace the mixture after 4 months.