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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Chimichurri Sauce
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Chef’s Best Hoisin Sauce

hoisin

Hoisin is a thick, aromatic condiment sauce with a salty and sweet flavor. It is commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a grilling glaze (superb for seitan, tempeh and tofu); as an addition to stir fries; or as dipping sauce (try it with spring rolls). It is also used as a condiment for phở, the classic Vietnamese soup. My homemade variation contains no added sugar, starch, gums, starches, colors or preservatives, unlike most of its commercial counterparts, since the fruit naturally sweetens and thickens the sauce. This recipe yields about 1 and ½ cup.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup dark seedless raisins
• ⅔ cup water
• ⅓ cup tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 2 T rice vinegar
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 2 tsp sesame oil
• ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
• ¼ tsp Chinese Five Spice powder

Technique:
Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to brief boil. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool. Add the mixture to a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Press through a fine mesh sieve back into the saucepan to catch any stray particles. Transfer to a sealable container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use; the sauce will thicken as it chills. Due to its salt and vinegar content, the sauce should remain preserved and fresh for a few weeks.

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Chef's Best Hoisin Sauce
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Chef’s Favorite Garden Salsa

DSC07977
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.

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Chef’s Favorite Garden Salsa
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