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.

Chimichurri Sauce

DSC08339Chimichurri is an aromatic herb sauce that originated in Argentina and is traditionally used for grilled meat. In vegan gastronomy, it can be used as a sauce for grilled seitan, tofu, tempeh, portabella mushrooms or cauliflower “steak”. It’s also wonderful as a dip for crusty bread or for marinating cooked beans.

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
• 2 T red wine vinegar
• 2 cups chopped flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
• ½ cup roasted red pepper, skin removed plus additional for garnish if desired
• ¼ cup fresh chopped oregano, loosely packed or 4 tsp dried oregano
• 1 shallot, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tsp minced habanero or jalapeno pepper
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp sweet paprika
• ¼ tsp ground cumin
• ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Technique:
Process all ingredients in a food processor but leave little bit of texture. Add salt as needed to taste. Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use; shake well to re-emulsify before using.

Olive Salad Spread

DSC08727This recipe is my version of the mixed olive tapenade served on the famous New Orleans Muffuletta sandwich. Its bold Mediterranean flavors also pair well with hummus and baba ghannouj on crackers and crusty bread. Or try it on grilled eggplant sandwiches. Ideally it should be made a day in advance to give the flavors time to blend. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this spread will last for months.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup small pimento-stuffed olives, drained
• ½ cup small pitted Kalamata olives, drained
• ½ cup coarsely chopped Giardiniera (see recipe on this blog), or commercial equivalent
• 2 pepperoncini, stems removed
• 1 T capers, drained
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 T olive oil
• 1 T red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper

Technique:
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Refrigerate to blend flavors before using.

Lemon Meringue Drop Cookies

DSC08656-002Crispy and light as air, these lemony drop cookies melt away on your tongue. A stand mixer with a balloon whip attachment is recommended for this recipe; however, an electric hand-held mixer will work if that is your only option. Do not use an immersion blender, standard blender or food processor, as the mixture needs to be whipped. This recipe yields about 48 one-inch diameter meringue drops.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup organic sugar
• 1 T Versawhip 600K™ (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp guar gum
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Technique:
Add the sugar to a DRY blender and process into a fine powder. Set aside in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Into the bottom of the mixer’s mixing bowl, stir together the Versawhip 600K™ with the guar gum, salt and approximately ⅓ of the finely powdered sugar. Add the water and lemon juice and turn on the mixer, gradually increasing the speed to high. Whip the mixture until stiff peaks begin to form, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and sprinkle in ½ of the remaining powdered sugar. Resume whipping for another 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining sugar. Resume whipping again for another 2 minutes.

Drop the meringue by teaspoonful, about 1-inch in diameter, onto a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (e.g., Silpat™). Alternately, the mixture can be decoratively piped onto the baking sheet using a pastry bag. Don’t spread the drops too far apart or you won’t be able to fit 24 onto a single sheet. Repeat on the second baking sheet.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 1 and ½ hours. After baking, let the meringue drops cool at room temperature for 1 hour on the baking sheet. This will ensure that the drops are sufficiently dry before storing in a covered container at room temperature. Do not attempt to touch them or move them until they have completely cooled.

Whole Grain French Toast

Whole grain French toast Polynesian-style. Topped with caramelized bananas, warm coconut syrup and roasted, crushed macadamia nuts.

Whole grain French toast Polynesian-style. Topped with caramelized bananas, warm coconut syrup and roasted, crushed macadamia nuts.

Sliced whole grain bread is dipped in an eggless egg mixture, pan-fried until golden brown and garnished with toppings of your choice.

You will need:
• 4 to 6 slices whole grain bread*
• cooking oil
• toppings of your choice, such as real maple syrup, coconut syrup, fruit syrup or jam; or top with fruit compote and dust with organic powdered sugar

*Old bread is best (but not stale); or leave fresh bread out overnight exposed to the air. Whole grain bread has a heartier texture than white bread and is better for you too. There should be sufficient batter to make 6 slices of French toast.

And for the batter, process the following ingredients in a blender until smooth:
• ½ carton (6 oz) extra-firm silken tofu, drained
• ¾ cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
• 3 T unmodified potato starch, cornstarch or arrowroot flour
• 1 T nutritional yeast
• 1 T cooking oil
• 1 T organic sugar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract
• pinch of sea salt
• optional: ½ tsp cinnamon (or try pumpkin pie spice)
Technique:
Pour the blender ingredients into a pie plate or wide, shallow dish.

In a non-stick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Crumple a paper towel and wipe the oil around in the skillet (reserve the oily paper towel to re-wipe the skillet in between batches of French toast).

Dip a bread slice briefly into the batter. Coat both sides but do not soak. Gently slide the slice of bread between your fingers to remove the excess batter. Add the bread slice to the skillet and repeat with another slice.

Fry until golden brown on each side. Test each piece in the center with the tip of the spatula or your finger to make sure the batter is cooked through and toast has firmed up. Set on a plate and place in a warm oven while you repeat the process with additional slices. Re-wipe the skillet with the oily paper towel as necessary before adding more battered bread.

Serve hot with a dab of vegan butter or margarine and the toppings of your choice.