Bacun Bits

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This recipe yields 1 cup of deliciously sweet, salty and smoky vegan bacon bits, which are ideal for topping salads or eggless egg recipes, such as omelettes, scrambles or vegan deviled “eggs”. However, these crispy bits are not recommended for prolonged cooking in moist dishes such as casseroles or quiches, as the coconut will rehydrate and produce an undesirable texture.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill™ brand)
Bobs-Red-Mill-Coconut-Flakes-Unsweetened

Seasoning ingredients:
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 2 tsp liquid smoke
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably from my recipe which can be found in The Gentle Chef Cookbook)

Technique:
In a bowl, whisk together the seasoning ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut flakes and toss well to evenly distribute the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of several hours, and better overnight, to rehydrate the coconut flakes and absorb the flavors.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and distribute the seasoned coconut flakes on the parchment paper in a single layer. For a peppery bacun flavor, season with fine ground black pepper. Place the baking sheet in the oven on a middle rack and set a timer for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir the flakes, again redistributing them in a single layer. This process will need to be repeated every 5 minutes for a total of about 15 minutes for slightly chewy bacun bits, or 20 minutes for crispy bacun bits.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in a zip-lock bag or a suitable covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use

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Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole

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Ingredients:
• 1 T Better Butter (from either cookbook) or commercial vegan margarine
• 1 cup uncooked rice of your choice
• vegan no-chicken broth, vegetable broth or water*
• ½ medium onion, diced
• 2 cups mix of chopped broccoli and cauliflower
• Colby Melt or Tangy Cheddar Melt (from The Non-Dairy Formulary)
• additional soymilk to adjust consistency as desired
• sea salt or kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste

*The amount of broth or water required will depend upon the rice you are using; use the appropriate amount according to the directions on the package. For this dish, I use white basmati rice and 1 cup uncooked basmati rice requires 2 cups of broth or water.

Technique:
In a large saucepan, bring the broth or water to a boil. Add the butter or margarine, rice and onion. Stir well, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for the amount of time suggested on the rice package.

Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, prepare your cheese melt and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

During the last 10 minutes of cooking time for the rice, add the vegetables on top of the rice and replace the lid. Do not stir! The vegetables will steam while the rice completes cooking.

Stir the cheese melt into the rice/vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture seems a bit dry, stir in small amounts of soymilk in increments until the desired consistency is reached.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled casserole dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover the casserole dish, set the oven on broil and lightly brown the top of the cheesy rice mixture under the broiler, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller

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This is my own vegan version of the classic appetizer. Fresh oyster mushrooms are often difficult to locate and when they are available, they’re rather expensive. However, canned oyster mushrooms can be purchased from your local Asian market and are very inexpensive. They also have the perfect texture for this recipe. Canned abalone mushrooms work well too.

Traditionally Pernod, an anise flavored liqueur, is added to the spinach and shallot mixture in the skillet; however, it is rather expensive, so I’ve substituted dry sherry (you can also use vegetable broth) with ground fennel to impart that wonderful anise flavor.

Special items needed:
• Large ceramic soup spoons or individual ramekins

Ingredients
• 1 can (about 7.5 oz. drained weight) oyster mushrooms (available in Asian markets) or 8 oz. (½ lb.) quartered fresh oyster mushrooms
• 4 T Better Butter (from either of my cookbooks) or vegan margarine
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• ⅓ cup Panko bread crumbs
• 2 shallots, finely chopped or 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
• 2 packed cups chopped fresh spinach
• ¼ cup dry sherry (or vegetable broth)
• ¼ tsp ground fennel
• sea salt or kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste
• dash red pepper sauce
• 2 T olive oil
• ¼ cup Grated Parmesan (from The Non-Dairy Formulary) or commercial vegan parmesan
• 2 T minced fresh parsley
• lemon wedges, for garnish

Technique:
Drain the water from the oyster mushrooms (if using canned), remove the tough part of the stems, cut into quarters and set aside.

Canned oyster mushrooms, quartered

Canned oyster mushrooms, quartered

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the garlic for 2 minutes to infuse the butter.

Place the bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl and add half the garlic butter, set aside.

To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add the chopped mushrooms, shallots and spinach and sauté for 3 minutes until the spinach wilts.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the dry sherry. Replace the skillet over the heat and add the fennel, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of red pepper sauce. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes but do not let it dry out.

While the mixture is cooking, finish the bread crumbs by mixing in the olive oil, vegan parmesan and parsley; season with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the mushroom/spinach mixture into each serving spoon or fill the individual ramekins halfway. Top with a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet and then under a broiler for a few minutes until golden brown on top. Serve with lemon wedges and additional red pepper sauce.

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Fried Oyster Mushrooms with Fire-Roasted Jalapeno Lime Tartar Sauce

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Fried Oyster Mushrooms is my vegan version of fried clams or oysters. I use organic cornflake cereal crumbs for the breading because the light cereal sweetness mimics the sweetness of fried clams and oysters. Regular fine breadcrumbs will work too.
Fresh oyster mushrooms are often difficult to locate and when they are available, they’re rather expensive. However, canned oyster mushrooms can be purchased from your local Asian market and are very inexpensive. They also have the perfect texture for this recipe. Canned abalone mushrooms work well too. Serve with vegan tartar sauce or cocktail sauce. Here I’ve served them with a vegan fire-roasted jalapeno and lime tartar sauce (recipe follows).

Ingredients
• 2 cans (about 7.5 oz. drained weight) oyster mushrooms or abalone mushrooms (available in Asian markets) or 1 lb. quartered fresh oyster mushrooms
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup non-dairy milk
• 2 T No-Eggy Mayo (from either of my cookbooks) or commercial vegan mayonnaise
• cornflake crumbs or fine breadcrumbs
• sea salt or kosher salt
• vegetable oil for frying

To make cornflake crumbs, place the cornflakes in a zip-lack or paper bag, seal and crush with your hands. They can also be crushed in a food processor.

Technique:
If using canned mushrooms, drain the water. Remove any tough portion of the mushroom stems and slice the mushrooms into strips.

Place the mushroom strips into a zip-lock bag and add the flour. Seal and shake well to coat the mushrooms.

In a small dish, mix together the milk and mayo until smooth and pour into the zip-lock bag. Add a few pinches of salt, seal the bag and shake until the mushrooms are coated.

Add the cornflake crumbs or the breadcrumbs to a bowl and dredge the mushroom strips in the crumbs until well-coated.

In a deep wok or skillet, heat about 1/2-inch of oil over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Fry the mushrooms until golden – they cook quickly, about 30 to 45 seconds, so watch them carefully.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot with the condiment of your choice for dipping.

Fire Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Tartar Sauce
Ingredients:
• 1 large jalapeno pepper
• ½ cup No-Eggy Mayo (pg. ) or commercial vegan mayonnaise
• 2 T minced fresh onion
• 1 tsp fresh grated lime zest and a squeeze of fresh lime juice
• sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Technique:
Place the jalapeno directly on the stove burner over medium heat. Turn frequently with tongs until the pepper is blistered and blackened. Place the pepper in small zip-lock or paper bag and seal to hold in the steam. Let cool. The skin should slip off easily. Cut off the stem end, split the jalapeno lengthwise and remove the seeds. Finely mince and add to a small bowl.

Add the mayo, onion, the lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix well and season with salt to taste. Refrigerate to blend flavors and until ready to serve.

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Spring Rolls

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Just about any filling can be used for Spring rolls. Raw, steamed or lightly sautéed vegetables should be coarsely chopped or sliced into thin slivers. Fresh herbs are wonderful to use in Spring rolls as well. Try my Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce (recipe follows) for dipping your rolls.

Ingredients:
• your choice of tofu, seitan, tempeh, and/or raw or lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables and sprouts
• Bánh Tráng – spring roll skins/wrappers

Technique:
Prepare your filling and set aside.

Fill a dinner plate with hot water and set next to your work surface.
Submerge a wrapper in the water on the plate. Count to ten and remove the wrapper. It may not feel totally pliable at this point but it will be by the time you wrap your filling. Hold the wrapper by the edge over the plate so the excess water can drain. Gently place the wrapper on your work surface.

Place a few tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper, avoiding about 2-inches on each side. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling. With your fingers, press down to compress the filling. Fold the sides in (like a burrito) and then roll up as tightly as you can. This technique takes a little practice so be patient.

Repeat until the filling is used up. If you have a hard time wrapping, try doubling the wrappers. Slice the rolls with a sharp knife on the diagonal. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
• 2 T organic sugar
• ¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• ¾ cup water
• 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water
• 1 T fresh lime juice
• 2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
• 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
• 2 T chopped green onions

Technique:
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch/water paste. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the garlic, ginger, lime juice and green onions. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Chill until ready to serve.

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Bhindi Masala (Indian-Spiced Okra)

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Bhindi masala is a very popular Indian dish consisting of spiced okra, onions and tomatoes. Okra is a powerhouse of nutrition due to its high soluble fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. It’s also high in antioxidants and a good source of calcium and potassium. Okra contains a large amount of mucilage: a slimy substance which is responsible for its high soluble fiber content. This gooey mucilage is very evident when okra begins cooking but dissolves when thoroughly cooked and mixed with the acidity of the tomatoes.

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup olive oil, divided in half
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 medium green chili, finely diced (mild or hot, your choice)
• 1 lb. fresh okra (bhindi) cut into ½-inch pieces
or a 1 lb. bag of frozen cut okra, thawed
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 4 tsp coriander powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp dry ground mustard
• ¼ tsp chili powder (mild or hot, your choice)
• large tomatoes, peeled and chopped * or 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes

*To peel fresh tomatoes, drop them in boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately transfer to an ice water bath; the skins will slip off easily.

Technique:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the onion and green chili. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the okra and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to lightly brown, about 15 minutes. The okra will be very slimy – this is normal.

Now, stir in the masala (coriander, turmeric, mustard powder and chili powder) and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, mix well and continue to cook until the tomatoes are cooked through and any excess moisture has been evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes; the mixture should resemble a thick stew.

Add additional salt to taste and serve hot.

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