Pâté Champignon with Cognac and Truffle Oil

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An elegant, earthy and rich mushroom pâté flavored with cognac and truffle oil. This pâté has a strong mushroom flavor; for a milder pâté, reduce or omit the truffle oil.

Ingredients:
• ½ block (7 oz. before pressing) extra-firm water-packed tofu
• 1 to 2 tsp white or black truffle oil
(according to intensity of flavor desired)
• 1 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 T vegan butter or margarine
• ½ 1b (8 oz.) cremini mushrooms (baby portabellas), sliced
• ½ cup chopped shallots or onion
• ½ cup cognac, brandy or dry white wine (i.e., Pinot Grigio; Sauvignon Blanc)
• ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, lightly packed
• 6 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 and ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves or ½ tsp dried thyme
• 1 tsp dried porcini mushroom powder, optional
• 2 T organic refined coconut oil
• ½ to 1 tsp cracked black pepper, or to taste

Technique:
Press the tofu until it is not releasing any more liquid. It is important to press the tofu as dry as possible.

Line a 2-cup minimum plastic, metal or ceramic container with plastic wrap. The container will serve as the mold to shape the pâté.

Crumble the tofu into a food processor. Add the truffle oil and salt and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter or margarine. Add the shallots/onions and mushrooms and sauté until the vegetables are nicely browned. Add the cognac, parsley, garlic, thyme and optional mushroom powder and sauté until the liquid has completely evaporated. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the food processor.

Remove the lid from the jar of coconut oil and place the jar in a microwave. Heat until the solid oil liquefies, about 30 seconds to 1 minute (this will depend upon the solidity of the coconut oil). Alternately, you can place the jar in about an inch of simmering water and melt the oil in the same manner. Measure 2 tablespoons and add to the food processor. The coconut oil is used to firm the pâté when chilled.

Process the mixture until smooth. Add the pepper and pulse a few times to combine. Taste and add additional salt or pepper as desired.

Transfer the mixture to the container, smooth the surface, cover with additional plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until firm. When firm, lift the pâté from the container and invert onto a serving plate. Peel away the plastic wrap. Spread on hors-d’oeuvre toast or savory crackers.

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Mock Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

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Large mushrooms are filled with a zesty mock crab filling, green onions and shredded cheese and baked to perfection. These mushrooms make a wonderful first course or light entrée.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup flaked green jack fruit or hearts of palm (see notes below)
• 8 baby portabella mushrooms or large white mushrooms (about 2” in diameter)
• 5 green onions, white and green parts, chopped (about ⅓ packed cup)
• 1 T vegetable oil
• 1 tsp Old Bay™ or Chesapeake Bay™ seasoning
• ½ tsp kelp powder
• 2 T fine, dry, plain breadcrumbs
• 2 T No-Eggy Mayo (from my cookbooks) or commercial vegan mayonnaise
• ½ cup shredded vegan cheese that melts (I recommend the soymilk-based block cheeses from The Non-Dairy Formulary)

Notes: For this recipe, you will need 1 can (about 17. oz.) of green jackfruit. Canned green jackfruit has no real flavor of its own, but has an uncanny resemblance to shredded crab when cooked. It can be found in Indian and Asian markets or purchased through the internet. Look for the label “Green Jackfruit” or “Young Green Jackfruit” and be sure that it’s packed in water or brine (preferably water) and not syrup. You may notice cans of ripe jackfruit packed in syrup stocked nearby but don’t be tempted to substitute as it will be too sweet.

If you cannot locate jackfruit, try substituting with 1 can of hearts of palm. Canned hearts of palm can be found in most supermarkets. While not exactly the same texture as jackfruit, they will flake nicely in a food processor and will serve the purpose for this recipe. Hearts of palm have a tangier, acidic flavor, whereas jackfruit is more neutral. Please note that hearts of palm is commercially grown and harvested in Central America and Hawaii and has absolutely no relation to the palm species from which palm oil is derived.

Technique:
Drain the liquid from the can of jackfruit or hearts of palm and rinse thoroughly. Drain in a colander. If using jackfruit, remove the tough core from each chunk of jackfruit with a sharp knife and discard. Break the chunks apart with your fingers and remove the soft seeds and discard. If using hearts of palm, simply slice the hearts about ¼-inch thick. Wrap the jackfruit or hearts of palm in a lint-free kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze to remove as much water as possible.

Place the jackfruit or hearts of palm in a food processor and pulse a few times to flake. Do not purée! You will need about 1 packed cup for this recipe; a little more or less is fine as the measurement doesn’t need to be exact (if you have extra hearts of palm, try adding the flakes to salads, since hearts of palm do not need to be cooked to be consumed). Set aside the flakes in a mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Add the vegetable oil to a skillet and place over medium heat. Add the green onions and sauté for 1 minute. Add the flaked jackfruit or hearts of palm and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the Old Bay™ or Chesapeake Bay™ seasoning and the kelp powder and return to the mixing bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs, mayo and shredded cheese and stir thoroughly until combined. Pack the mushrooms with the mock crab mixture.
Lightly spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil and place the mushrooms on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Curry Zucchini Corn Fritters

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Shredded zucchini, sliced onion and corn kernels are seasoned with curry and fried until crisp and golden brown. This recipe yields about 1 dozen fritters.

Ingredients:
• 2 average-size zucchini (about 7 to 8 inches long)
• 1 can (about 15 oz. or 1 and ½ cup) organic corn kernels, drained very well
• ½ of a medium onion, sliced very thin and then coarsely chopped
• ½ cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour plus more if needed
• 1 tsp curry powder
• ¾ tsp sea salt or kosher salt (plus 1 tsp for salting the zucchini)
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper

Technique:
Shred the zucchini with a standard vegetable grater or using the shredding blade on a food processor. Transfer the shreds to a large mixing bowl, add 1 teaspoon salt, stir well and set aside for 15 minutes. The salt will help draw out the moisture from the zucchini.

Pour off any excess liquid and place the shreds in a clean, lint-free kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Gather up the edges at the top and twist securely closed. Twist and squeeze the bundle into the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Transfer the shreds back to the mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the well-drained corn kernels to a food processor fitted with a standard chopping blade and pulse the contents 4 times. The goal is to break up the majority of the corn, releasing the starch while still leaving some kernels intact. DO NOT over-process! Transfer the corn to the mixing bowl.

Add the onions, ½ cup garbanzo bean flour, curry, ¾ tsp salt and the black pepper. Stir thoroughly until a thick batter is created. If the mixture seems too loose, add 2 tablespoons additional flour. Set the mixture aside.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat ½-inch oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, test the batter by carefully placing 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter carefully into the hot oil. After 1 minute, gently press down on the fritter with the back of a spoon to flatten it.

Continue to fry for a few minutes unto golden brown on both sides. Use 2 large spoons to help turn the fritter; this will prevent splashing of the hot oil. If the fritter holds together, repeat the process, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet. If the fritter falls apart, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the oil and add a little bit more flour to the mixture to help it hold together.

Transfer the fritters to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. If necessary, reheat the fritters in a 350°F oven until hot. Serve immediately.

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Falafel

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Falafel is a small, deep-fried patty made from ground chickpeas and a blend of herbs and spices. For my own signature version, I also incorporate ground split peas (which is optional) and season with my own blend of spices. Falafel is a traditional Arabic food, usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread and topped with various sauces and vegetable garnishes. This recipe yields about 16 falafel patties.

Ingredients for the falafel:
• ¾ cup dried chickpeas and ¼ cup dried yellow or green split peas
– or 1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
• ¼ cup diced onion
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 and ¼ tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp dried powdered rosemary
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
• 6 T garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour or soy flour
• 2 T olive oil
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed

Other ingredients needed:
• vegetable oil for frying
• pita or flat bread
• Tzatziki sauce, Tahini Sauce and/or Hummus
• thinly sliced onion
• sliced cucumbers
• chopped tomatoes

Technique:
Place the dried chickpeas and split peas (or chickpeas alone) in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let them soak for 24 hours, then drain thoroughly. DO NOT use canned chickpeas.

Place the drained, soaked chickpeas and split peas, onion, garlic, salt, rosemary, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process the mixture until all the peas are coarsely ground. Remove the lid and scrape down the peas as necessary to incorporate them into the mixture. DO NOT purée! It is important to retain a “grainy” texture”.

Sprinkle in the garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, olive oil, black pepper and parsley and pulse the mixture several times to combine. Turn the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts and then gently press to flatten into small patties. The mixture will be moist and some will stick to your fingers, so keep a moist towel on hand while you work. Place the patties on a plate or cutting board.

In a deep skillet or wok, heat ½-inch of oil to 375°F, or for a full 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Fry the patties in batches for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Stuff half a pita with 3 falafel patties or serve on a plate. Garnish with fresh produce and condiment(s) of your choice. Store any remaining falafel in a covered container or zip-lock bag and refrigerate.

To reheat, wrap the falafel securely in foil and place in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes – or briefly reheat in the microwave.

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Spicy Buffalo Tofu Drummettes

DSC08594-001If you’ve ever been “on the fence” about tofu because of its texture, these spicy nuggets may just change your mind. They’re pre-baked to give them a dense, meaty and slightly chewy texture before breading and frying. I’ve often heard that people have a difficult time getting breading to actually adhere to tofu. So I experimented with a batter that seems to work rather well. And voila! Spicy Buffalo Tofu Drummettes. I served them with a side of Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing from my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook which can be purchased through this website. And they’re gluten-free!

Ingredients for the drummettes:
1 block extra-firm water-packed tofu
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 T No-Eggy Mayo (from either of my cookbooks) or commercial vegan mayonnaise
3/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, about 1 cup
vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients for the sauce:
1/4 cup non-dairy butter (from either of my cookbooks) or commercial vegan margarine
1/4 red hot sauce (a thicker sauce, such as Sriracha, works best)

Technique:
Drain and slice the block of tofu lengthwise through the center to create 2 slabs. Lay each slab on its side and slice lengthwise down through the center to create 4 slabs total.

Thoroughly press the tofu until it is not releasing any more liquid. This is important: the drier the tofu, the better the texture of the finished dish (this can also be done with a tofu press using the whole intact block and the block sliced after pressing).

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Now cut each slab into 3 drummettes. Try slicing on a slight diagonal, turning the knife slightly to left on the first slice and then slightly to the right on the second slice so the drummettes are irregular rectangles, for a total of 12 drummettes. This will give them a more natural and less uniform appearance. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and place the drummettes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Remove to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the nutritional yeast, milk, mayo, salt and seasonings until smooth. In a separate bowl, add the garbanzo bean flour.

Dip each drummette in the milk mixture and then dredge in the flour and set aside on a plate. Replenish the flour as needed. Let the drummettes dry for about 10 minutes and then dredge them in the flour again.

In a skillet or wok, heat about ½-inch of oil over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Fry the drummettes in the hot oil for several minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter or margarine and whisk together with the hot sauce until smooth. Just before serving, drizzle the sauce over the drummettes in a bowl and turn the drummettes gently until they are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with the dipping sauce of your choice (i.e., vegan blue cheese or creamy ranch dressing).

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Instructions
  1. Drain and slice the block of tofu lengthwise through the center to create 2 slabs. Lay each slab on its side and slice lengthwise down through the center to create 4 slabs total.
  2. Thoroughly press the tofu until it is not releasing any more liquid. This is important: the drier the tofu, the better the texture of the finished dish (this can also be done with a tofu press using the whole intact block and the block sliced after pressing).
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  4. Now cut each slab into 3 drummettes. Try slicing on a slight diagonal, turning the knife slightly to left on the first slice and then slightly to the right on the second slice so the drummettes are irregular rectangles, for a total of 12 drummettes. This will give them a more natural and less uniform appearance. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and place the drummettes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Remove to cool.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the nutritional yeast, milk, mayo, salt and seasonings until smooth. In a separate bowl, add the garbanzo bean flour.
  6. Dip each drummette in the milk mixture and then dredge in the flour and set aside on a plate. Replenish the flour as needed. Let the drummettes dry for about 10 minutes and then dredge them in the flour again.
  7. In a skillet or wok, heat about ½-inch of oil over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Fry the drummettes in the hot oil for several minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
  8. Meanwhile, melt the butter or margarine and whisk together with the hot sauce until smooth. Just before serving, drizzle the sauce over the drummettes in a bowl and turn the drummettes gently until they are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with the dipping sauce of your choice (i.e., vegan blue cheese or creamy ranch dressing).
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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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