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.

Matzo Ball Soup

DSC09142-002Matzo is a traditional Jewish unleavened “bread” or cracker. Matzo balls are comprised of matzo meal, which is basically matzo crumbs. In traditional cooking, matzo balls (which are essentially round dumplings) require eggs as a binder. So, I challenged myself to create matzo balls without any binder at all and I’m actually pleased with the results.

If you’re expecting fluffy matzo balls similar to the egg-laden version, you may be disappointed. In order to hold them together without binders, semolina flour is used in a 50/50 ratio with the matzo meal. Semolina is a coarse golden flour derived from durum wheat and is used in making pasta and couscous. The semolina makes them a bit more dense than traditional matzo balls, with an ‘al dente” texture (matzo enthusiasts would label them as “sinkers” since they do not float like fluffy matzo balls).

The matzo balls are served in a “no-chicken” broth flavored with thyme, parsley and a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions; simple and yet delicious. This recipe yields 6 medium-size matzo balls and about 1 quart of soup.

Ingredients of the Matzo Balls
• ¼ cup matzo meal
• ¼ cup semolina flour
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• ⅓ cup water
• 1 T mild cooking oil (plus 1 tsp for the mixing bowl)

Ingredients for the Soup
• 6 cups vegan “no-chicken” broth
• 1 large carrot, sliced
• 1 large rib celery, sliced
• 1 small onion, peeled, thinly sliced and then chopped
• ½ tsp dried thyme
• 2 T chopped curly parsley
• coarse ground black pepper to taste
• kosher salt, to taste as needed

Technique
In a mixing bowl, combine the matzo meal, semolina and salt. In a small cup combine the water and oil. Pour the water and oil into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Form the dough into 6 walnut-size balls. Add 1 teaspoon cooking oil to the mixing bowl and roll the matzo balls in the oil until evenly covered. Cover again and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil in a cooking pot. Carefully lower the chilled matzo balls in the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and cook for 12 minutes. When done, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until well-chilled. DO NOT omit this step.

Bring the stock, carrot, celery and onion to a boil in large cooking pot. Add the thyme, cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chilled matzo balls to the soup, cover the pot and continue cooking for 40 minutes. The matzo balls will swell slightly during cooking.

Stir in the parsley and season with pepper and additional salt as needed to taste.

Gentle Chef Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder

This convenient, instant powder can be used to prepare a comforting and savory golden broth by the cup or the quart. This recipe yields about 48 cups of prepared bouillon.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
• 5 Tbsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ cup onion powder
• 2 Tbsp organic sugar
• 1 Tbsp commercial poultry seasoning blend
• 1 Tbsp garlic powder
• 2 tsp dried celery flakes
• 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
• 2 tsp dehydrated carrot flakes (optional)
• ½ tsp ground white pepper

Preparation:
Process the ingredients in a dry blender until finely powdered; store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For a soothing mug of golden bouillon, dissolve 2 level teaspoons bouillon powder in 12 oz. of piping hot water. Stir well. A fine seasoning sediment will settle on the bottom of the mug, so stir occasionally while sipping or simply discard the sediment after consuming.

To prepare an instant broth for soups and stews, use 1 and ¼ teaspoon of bouillon powder for each cup of simmering water, or more or less to taste. For 8 cups of broth, use about 3 tablespoons, or more or less to taste.

For a clear broth, let the prepared broth cool to room temperature and pour into a sealable container, discarding any seasoning sediment that has settled on the bottom of the cooking pot. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 10 days, which will allow any micro-fine seasoning sediment to further settle on the bottom of the container. Decant the clear portion of broth and use in recipes as needed.

Tip: Gentle Chef Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder is also a convenient, nutritious and delicious alternative to chicken broth served in hospitals for vegan patients restricted to a liquid diet.

Shredded Chikun

DSC08849-002Although seitan is versatile, slices beautifully and grinds nicely, it doesn’t shred well. So my goal was to create a plant-based chicken specifically intended for shredding. This recipe is a preview to my upcoming cookbook.

Shredded Chikun is prepared from a blend of wheat protein from gluten, soy protein from tofu and select seasonings. It amazingly resembles shredded chicken in flavor, aroma and texture and is ideal for any plant-based recipe where a baked, shredded texture is desired, such as chikun salad (it won’t water down eggless mayo), hot or cold wraps or sandwiches, casseroles, pot pies, Mexican cuisine (tamales, enchiladas, taquitos, flautas, burritos), etc. If you are sensitive to the flavor of wheat gluten, then you will also appreciate the very mild flavor. It’s very easy to prepare and even forms its own golden brown “skin” as it bakes. Keep in mind that this product is intended to have a drier texture, similar to that of baked chicken.

Shredded Chikun is superb for soups and stews; however, due to its higher tofu-to-gluten ratio it should not be simmered in liquids for extended periods of time, but rather added just before serving to prevent it from getting soggy. Due to its baked texture, Shredded Chikun is not recommended for grilling or frying; it’s already finished and further dry-heat cooking or frying will yield very dry results.

xfirmtofuExtra-firm water-packed block tofu is used in this recipe. It’s not necessary to use this particular brand (the photo is used only as an example). This can be found in the refrigerated section of the market. Do not use silken tofu, such as Mori-Nu™; it won’t work for this application. In the United States, extra-firm water-packed tofu is typically sold in blocks weighing about 14 ounces.

For the standard portion, one-half block is required (reserve the remaining half for other recipes). For the family portion the entire block is required. The tofu will need to be thoroughly pressed to remove the excess water.

To do this, wrap the tofu in a lint-free kitchen towel and press firmly with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. The pressed tofu should be crumbly yet feel slightly damp if done correctly. A tofu press can also be used but allow about 24 hours for sufficient pressing.

A standard commercial block of tofu will generally yield 10 to 12 ounces after thorough pressing and one-half block will generally yield 5 to 6 ounces. Minor weight variations within these ranges are inconsequential to the recipe. If you have any doubt as to whether you are using the correct amount, weigh the tofu after pressing.

So why remove the water from the tofu only to add water back into the recipe? The reason for this is very simple: Water content in tofu varies from brand to brand and even from block to block. By removing the moisture from the tofu and then adding back a precise amount of water, the texture of the finished product remains consistent.

Vital wheat gluten is also used in this recipe but in a significantly reduced amount than would be used for preparing seitan. Since it is used in such a reduced amount, it must be very high quality. Be sure the vital wheat gluten is labeled at a minimum of 75% protein. Bargain and bulk gluten is generally of lesser quality and contains a significant amount of starch. Excess starch will yield a bread-like texture in the finished product.

The standard portion for this recipe will yield about 8 ounces of shredded chikun and the family portion will yield about 1 pound. Keep in mind that you can always freeze leftovers, so preparing the family portion is recommended. Also in doing so, you can use the whole block of tofu rather than having the remaining half block of tofu stored in your refrigerator.

Standard Portion
Dry Ingredients
• ⅔ cup vital wheat gluten
• 1 tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Blender Ingredients
• ½ block extra-firm tofu, pressed
(about 5 to 6 oz. after pressing)
• ½ cup water
• 1 T mellow white miso paste
• 1 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ½ Tbsp (1 and ½ tsp) mild vegetable oil

Family Portion
Dry Ingredients
• 1 and ⅓ cup vital wheat gluten
• 2 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp ground white pepper

Blender Ingredients
• 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed
(about 10 to 12 oz. after pressing)
• 1 cup water
• 2 T mellow white miso paste
• 2 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 T mild vegetable oil

Technique:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Be sure to use accurate and level measurements throughout this recipe.

Crumble the pressed tofu into a blender and add the remaining blender ingredients. Process on low speed to initially break the down the tofu and gradually increase the speed, processing the mixture until the tofu is completely liquefied. This step is essential! Stop the blender as necessary to scrape down the sides. The mixture should resemble a very thick cream.

DSC08888-001

Scoop the liquefied tofu mixture into the dry ingredients (a small amount of the tofu mixture will remain in the blender; this is inconsequential) and stir with a sturdy silicone spatula until the tofu mixture is incorporated and a sticky, paste-like dough begins to form. Continue to “knead” and work the dough in the bowl with the spoon or spatula for 3 full minutes. This is very important in order to develop the gluten. Rest your hand and arm as needed while “kneading” (sorry, resting time does not count as part of the 3 minute “kneading” time). The dough will remain moist and sticky but if it is overly dry or overly wet, something was not measured correctly or the tofu was not pressed properly.

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Tear off a long sheet (about 18-inches) of 18-inch wide heavy duty aluminum foil and place it on your work surface. Transfer the dough to the foil and using your fingers, shape into a rectangular slab about 2-inches thick. Don’t focus on shaping perfectly; this isn’t required. Fold the slab of dough in the foil (don’t roll), creating a semi-flat package. There should be sufficient foil so that the package can be folded over several times. Fold in and crimp the sides of the package to seal but be sure to leave a little room (about 1-inch on each side) to allow the dough to expand as it bakes.

Now rewrap loosely in an additional sheet of foil and place the package seam side down directly on the middle oven rack. Bake for 90 minutes for the standard portion and 2 hours for the family portion.

Let the chikun cool in the foil to room temperature and then refrigerate for several hours until well-chilled to firm and optimize its texture, or for up to 7 days before shredding and using. You can also store the chikun in the freezer wrapped in the foil for up to 3 months.

Unwrap the chikun and recycle the foil. Using your hands, tear the chikun in half lengthwise. “Pull” the chikun with the tines of a fork into shreds (or use your fingers if you prefer). Try to pull or tear long strips, following the grain of the “meat” if possible, and then tear those pieces into smaller bite-size shreds. For a finer texture, place the shreds into a food processor and pulse once or twice. Use in your favorite recipes as desired.

Quick and Easy Recipe Ideas
◊ Toss shredded chikun with your favorite BBQ sauce and gently heat for sandwiches.

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◊ For Tex-Mex shredded chikun, combine 1 teaspoon mild chili powder (such as ancho), ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder in a small dish. Mist a non-stick skillet with cooking oil and place over medium heat. Add the shredded chikun and sauté until lightly golden. Add ¼ cup no-chicken broth or vegetable broth, sprinkle in the seasonings and toss well. Continue to sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated and the chikun firms up a bit. Season with salt to taste and use in your favorite Tex-Mex recipe as desired.

◊ For an Asian shredded chikun and vegetable stir-fry, combine 2 tablespoons of tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™ and 1 tablespoon sweet mirin or water in a small dish; set aside. Heat a wok until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other high-heat cooking oil) and a teaspoon or two of sesame oil. Add 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons minced garlic and your favorite vegetables; stir-fry as usual. Just before the vegetables reach the desired tenderness, add the shredded chikun and the tamari/mirin (or water) mixture. Toss well and add a tablespoon of chili garlic sauce just before removing from the heat. Serve immediately with sticky rice or Asian noodles.

mediterraneanchikun

◊ For Mediterranean-style shredded chikun, combine 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and a pinch or two of crushed red pepper in a small dish. Mist a non-stick skillet with cooking oil and place over medium heat. Add the shredded chikun and sauté until lightly golden. Add ¼ cup no-chicken broth or vegetable broth, sprinkle in the seasonings and toss well. Continue to sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated and the chikun firms up a bit. Add the juice of half a lemon just before removing from the heat and toss well. Finish with fresh ground black pepper. Serve with orzo, couscous or rice and garnish with chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley and optional pitted Kalamata olives. The seasoned chikun can also be served, hot or cold, in a flat-bread wrap or pita pocket with your favorite grilled or fresh vegetables and optional sauce (such as tahini or non-dairy Tzatziki).

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◊ For soups or stews, add the shredded chikun just before serving to maintain its texture.

Classic Eggless Egg Custard

DSC08835-001This egg-free and dairy-free custard is very easy to prepare. It has a sliceable but delicate, silky texture and can be used for custard pie or served on its own in individual dessert ramekins. This recipe relies upon the thickening power of starch and agar powder (a tasteless seaweed derivative) for setting the custard as it cools. Agar flakes or agar in stick form are not recommended for this recipe since they do not dissolve as readily as the powdered form. This recipe yields enough custard for 1 nine-inch pie or 7 half-cup servings.

Ingredients:
• 3 and ⅓ cups non-dairy milk
• 3 T cornstarch or unmodified potato starch
• ¾ organic sugar (for a sweeter custard increase by ¼ cup)
• 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 and ½ tsp agar powder (be precise)
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract
• ⅛ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt (a pinch)
• 2 T non-dairy butter or margarine
• fresh grated nutmeg for dusting (about ¼ tsp)

For custard pie:
• 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell of your choice

Technique:
If preparing custard pie, prebake the pie shell in advance for the time recommended for that particular crust.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Although the custard is cooked in a saucepan, the oven is necessary for finishing and creating a golden “baked custard” surface.

To prepare the custard, pour the milk into a large saucepan and whisk in the starch until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients except for the nutmeg and place over medium heat. Please note that the butter or margarine will melt and combine as the mixture heats. Cook until the mixture comes to a soft boil while stirring constantly with a flexible spatula to prevent scorching. Do not walk away from the mixture as it heats or it can quickly boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

For custard pie: Pour the custard into the pre-baked pie shell and dust with the nutmeg. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

For custard without a pie crust: Pour the custard mixture into a shallow baking dish or individual ramekins and dust with the nutmeg. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes; or place the ramekins on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven to cool. Unlike a traditional egg custard which cooks and sets in the oven, eggless custard sets as it cools. Let the custard cool until the bottom of the pie pan, baking dish or individuals ramekins are lukewarm. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill uncovered until completely set, about 1 hour. Once set, loosely cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Apple, Walnut and Beet Salad with Citrus Miso Vinaigrette

DSC08734-004This salad is a combination of earthy beets, fresh sweet apple, crunchy walnuts and peppery arugula. Mellow white miso adds plenty of umami (the Japanese word used to describe a savory flavor) to the simple citrus vinaigrette.

Ingredients for the dressing:
• juice of 1 fresh orange
• 2 T mellow white miso paste
• 2 T rice vinegar
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 small shallot, minced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ½ cup mild salad oil, such as grapeseed, sunflower or safflower
• ½ tsp Asian red pepper sauce (such as Sriracha™)

Ingredients for the salad:
• 1 lb. trimmed medium beets
• coarse sea salt or kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste
• 8 packed cups arugula (about 8 oz.) or mixed baby greens of your choice
• 2 crisp apples, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Gala
• ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Technique:
In a shaker bottle or similar sealed container, add all dressing ingredients. Seal and shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing. The dressing will keep for about 1 week, refrigerated. Shake well to re-emulsify before using.

In a large cooking pot, place the beets in plenty of water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a vigorous simmer and cook until the beets can be pierced easily with a fork, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Peel the beets, cut them in half and then thinly slice. Arrange them on a platter or on salad plates and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the apples in half and thinly slice. Combine the slices with the arugula (or other greens) in a large mixing bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly but sufficiently dress the greens and apples. Top the beets with the greens and apple, sprinkle with the walnuts and serve.

Whipped Potato and Parsnip Gratin featuring Jarlsberg Melt

DSC08752A fluffy and creamy gratin of whipped potatoes and parsnips blended with non-dairy butter, tangy non-dairy Crème Fraîche and gooey, melted non-dairy Jarlsberg cheese.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup Quick Crème Fraîche (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)
- or 1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice
• 6 medium russet potatoes
• 4 medium parsnips
• 1 cup Jarlsberg Melt (recipe following)
• ¼ cup non-dairy butter or margarine
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ tsp ground white pepper
• ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

Technique:
If using the Crème Fraîche, prepare according to the cookbook instructions and refrigerate until ready to use. Non-dairy milk can be used instead, but the flavor and richness of the gratin will be altered somewhat.

Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Place the potatoes immediately into a large cooking pot with plenty of water to cover. This will prevent oxidation of the potatoes (turning brown) while the parsnips are peeled and sliced.

Peel and slice the parsnips. Add them to the pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Avoid overcooking.

While the water is coming to a boil and the vegetables are cooking, prepare the Jarlsberg Melt and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. “Butter” a large baking or casserole dish and set aside.

When the vegetables are done cooking, drain them thoroughly in a colander for a few minutes and then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, salt, white pepper and nutmeg and mash thoroughly using a potato ricer or masher.

Add the Crème Fraîche or non-dairy milk in increments and whip the mashed vegetables with an electric rotary mixer (if you have one). Otherwise continue to mash by hand until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Note: Never use a blender or food processor to mash potatoes as this will damage the cell structure of the potatoes and cause them to fall flat or become gooey. When potatoes are boiled, their starch granules swell. If those granules are broken too vigorously, the cells release large quantities of starch, resulting in potatoes with a pasty consistency.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and top with the Jarlsberg Melt. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes and then place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to achieve a bubbly and browned cheese crust on top. Serve hot.

Jarlsberg Melt
(from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)
Jarlsberg shares flavor similarities with Swiss cheese and can best be described as mild, buttery and nutty with a hint of sweetness. Do not omit the ground coriander, even though only a small amount is needed, as it is essential to the flavor of this melt. This recipe yields about 1 cup of melted cheese.

Ingredients:
• ¾ cup pure soymilk
• ¼ cup mild vegetable oil
• 3 T tapioca flour
• 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 T dry sherry or dry white wine*
• 2 tsp mellow white miso paste
• ½ T (1 and ½ tsp) sesame tahini
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ tsp guar gum, sodium alginate or xanthan gum
• ⅛ tsp ground coriander

*The sherry or wine can be omitted for health or ethical reasons, but this will alter the flavor profile.

Technique:
In a small saucepan, vigorously whisk together the ingredients until smooth. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring slowly and continually with a flexible spatula. As the mixture thickens and curdles (forms lumps), begin stirring vigorously until the curds disappear and the cheese becomes very thick, smooth and glossy. Set aside until ready to use in the recipe.

Santa Fe Cheddar

DSC08784-001Santa Fe Cheddar is a sliceable, shreddable and meltable block cheese with bold Southwestern flavors. Thin slices are ideal for cold sandwiches or for melting on burgers or other grilled sandwiches. When shredded, Santa Fe Cheddar is ideal for topping or melting in your favorite Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine.

Please note that only the formula is included here. For preparation instructions you will need to purchase The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook (purchase and format options provided on TheGentleChef.com website). Using the formula provided, simply follow the instructions for preparing the Block and Wheel Cheeses.

For this recipe you will need a glass, ceramic, metal or BPA-free plastic container which will hold a minimum of 2 cups liquid; this will act as the form to shape the cheese.

Ingredients:
• ½ cup organic refined coconut oil
• 1 and ⅓ cup pure soymilk or homemade Almond Milk (from the cookbook)
• ¼ cup tapioca flour
• ¼ nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 T mellow white miso paste
• 4 tsp kappa carrageenan
• 2 tsp mesquite liquid smoke
• 1 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• ½ tsp ancho chili powder or other mild chili powder
• ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Technique:
Before you begin, review the introduction to the Block and Wheel Cheeses in the cookbook. Gather all of your ingredients (mise en place).

Prepare the cheese according to the Preparation and Cooking Technique instructions in the chapter on Block and Wheel Cheeses.

Spicy Chipotle Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Pepitas

DSC08735Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce adds a spicy and smoky kick to this velvety pumpkin soup. For timid palates, the chipotle pepper can be replaced with a mild chili powder.

Ingredients:
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 and ¾ cup roasted and mashed pumpkin* or 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
or 1 and ¾ cup roasted and mashed butternut squash
• 4 cups (1 quart) vegan no-chicken broth or vegetable broth
• 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or 2 if you want to break a sweat; for timid palates omit the chipotle pepper and add 2 tsp mild chili powder)
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• sea salt or kosher salt to taste
• ¼ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
• cilantro for garnish (optional)

*For fresh roasted pumpkin, cut a sugar pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings and place the halves face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool and then scoop out the flesh. Freeze any remainder for other recipes. Butternut squash can also be used in this recipe as an alternate to pumpkin. Simply follow the same roasting technique.

Technique:
In a dry skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat. Stir the seeds frequently to evenly toast and prevent scorching. Set aside.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute. Transfer the mixture to a blender.

Add the pumpkin, 2 cups of stock or broth, the chipotle pepper and the cumin and coriander; process until completely smooth. Transfer to a large cooking pot and add the remaining stock/broth. Bring to simmer, partially cover and cook for 30 minutes; season with salt to taste. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with the toasted pepitas and optional cilantro.

Serve with warm flour tortillas if desired. To warm the tortillas, roll them up securely in foil and place in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Charred Brussels Sprout Slaw with Shallots and Toasted Pine Nuts

DSC08706-003This dish is very easy to make and may just win over dinner guests who never cared much for Brussels sprouts before. Any cold leftovers make a unique and delicious Spring roll filling.

Ingredients:
• fresh Brussels sprouts, about 1 lb.
• ¼ cup pine nuts
• 2 T non-dairy butter, margarine or mild olive oil (plus more as desired)
• 2 shallots, thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• sea salt or kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste

Technique:
Remove the tough stems from the Brussels sprouts and discard. Remove any outer leaves that are damaged or wilted. Shred the sprouts using the shredding blade in a food processor. Set aside.

In a small dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat. Stir the nuts frequently to evenly toast and prevent scorching. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, melt the butter or margarine (or heat the oil) over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and a pinch or two of salt. Sweat the shallots and garlic, about 10 minutes. You should hear a faint sizzle – if the sizzle is loud, reduce the heat a bit. The goal is to draw out flavor without browning the shallots or garlic.

Add the slaw and a pinch or two of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir the mixture occasionally. The goal is to slightly char or caramelize the vegetables just a bit. If the vegetables seem dry, add another tablespoon or two of non-dairy butter, margarine or olive oil, if desired. Cook until the slaw is tender crisp. Season the slaw with black pepper to taste and add additional salt as desired. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.