Sicilian Panelle

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DSC01470-001Panelle, also known as Panella di Ceci, are Sicilian fritters made from chickpea flour and seasonings and are similar to fried polenta. They are a popular street food in Palermo and are often eaten between slices of bread or on a roll, like a sandwich. Panelle are believed to be of Arabic origin. The panelle can be cut into various shapes and sizes before frying.

Ingredients for the Panelle

• 1 cup chickpea flour
• 2 T dried parsley flakes
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp dried basil
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 2 cups water
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• high-temp cooking oil for frying

Ingredients for the Relish (optional)

Mix together in a bowl:
• 3 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 3 T finely diced onion
• 3 T finely chopped flat leaf parsley
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preparation
Oil and 8”x8” baking dish or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the chickpea flour, parsley, onion powder, basil and garlic powder in a bowl.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, oil and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and sprinkle in a small portion of the flour mixture while whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Continue to incorporate the flour mixture in increments. Cook the mixture until it begins to pull away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. It will be very thick.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and spread evenly. Let cool a bit and then cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or until completely chilled and firm set.

Cut the panelle into any desired shape and fry until golden brown in hot cooking oil. They take a little time to brown, so be patient. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot excess oil. Serve warm.

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Sweet and Smoky Tofu Bacun

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DSC00988-003Tofu bacun is so easy to prepare and yields excellent results. It just requires a little time for pressing the tofu (8 to 12 hours), marinating the tofu with the seasoning liquid (a minimum of 12 hours), and low-oven baking or drying in a food dehydrator (about 2 hours). For this recipe I recommend using a tofu press, such as the TofuXpress®, that will hold the shape of the tofu while compressing the texture and removing the water prior to marinating. This recipe yields about 8 oz./½ lb. of bacun.

Ingredients
• 1 block (about 14 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu
• high-temp cooking oil for frying

Marinade Ingredients
• ⅔ cup water
• ⅓ cup tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• ¼ cup dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 1 T vegan Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 T liquid hickory smoke

Preparation
Press the tofu to remove as much water as possible. Blot the surface dry and then cut ⅛-inch thick slices lengthwise.

Combine the marinade ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. If you prefer a less salty bacun, opt for low-sodium tamari or soy sauce. Pour a small amount of the marinade into a small food storage container and begin layering the tofu strips into the container, overlapping the slices as you layer. Handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate.

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Pour the remaining marinade over the slices and seal the container. There should be sufficient marinade to just about cover the slices completely. Seal the container and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 48 hours, with 24 hours being ideal.

Preheat the oven to 225°F/110°C. Place a non-stick baker’s cooling rack on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a cooling rack, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

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Place the slices in a single layer on the rack. Again, handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate. Place the sheet on the middle oven rack and low-bake for 2 hours.

Alternately, a food dehydrator can be used at the highest setting. Dry for 2 hours or until the slices are dry to the touch but not completely dehydrated.

Place the slices in a food storage container and refrigerate until ready to finish and serve.

Finishing the Bacun
Tofu bacun benefits from frying in oil to create the crispy texture. Pour enough high-temp cooking into a skillet to cover the bottom completely and place over medium-high heat. Add the strips to the skillet without overcrowding and fry until nicely browned, turning occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Try laying the bacun on the towel with an undulation to mimic a cooked bacon appearance. If desired, season with some coarse ground black pepper while still hot. The bacun will crisp further as it cools and will hold the undulated shape.

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use in recipes. Pre-fried bacun can be reheated in a low oven.

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“Hard-Cooked” Eggless Eggs

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28Important! This recipe should only be used if you wish to prepare solid “hard-cooked” eggless eggs. If you wish to prepare vegan deviled “eggs” or eggless “egg” salad, please see the appropriate recipe in this blog or in my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook, as these recipes are much less involved and easier to prepare.

This is my own recipe and technique for producing “hard-cooked” eggless eggs that are remarkably similar to their egg counterparts in appearance, flavor and texture. For this recipe, you will need 2 six-count egg molds which will yield one dozen “hard-cooked” eggless eggs. If you only have one mold set, any remaining “yolk” and “egg white” mixture” can be used for crumbled “hard-cooked” eggless egg (superb for topping cold salads) or for eggless egg salad sandwiches.

Please note: The “eggs” cannot be used for heated applications, such as “Scotch eggs”, because the agar will melt and the eggs will turn to mush. They must remain chilled or at room temperature for serving.

About the egg molds: The internet source I was recommending for the egg molds is no longer offering that product, so you will have to do some internet searching for the molds. Many of my readers have found luck locating them on Ebay.com (search for “Jell-O jiggler egg molds”).

eggmolds

Food Processor Ingredients for the “Egg Yolks”
• 5 oz pressed extra-firm block tofu (about one-half of a standard block; do not use silken tofu)
• 2 T refined coconut oil, melted
• 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
• ¼ tsp sodium alginate, guar gum or xanthan gum

Saucepan Ingredients for the “Egg Yolks”
• ½ cup water
• 1 and ½ tsp agar powder
• ½ tsp sweet paprika
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• ¼ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt)

Blender Ingredients for the “Egg Whites”
• 5 oz pressed extra-firm block tofu (about one-half of a standard block; do not use silken tofu)
• 3 cups water
• ½ cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
• 4 tsp agar powder
• 1 and ¼ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt)

Additional Items Needed
• 2 six-count egg molds
• food processor
• blender
• small saucepan
• a melon baller or ½ T measuring spoon
• small food storage container that will hold about 2 cups
• 2 cup measuring cup with pouring lip
• wax paper or parchment paper

Preparing the “Yolks”
Set the “egg molds” aside. Be sure they are completely snapped together.
Place the food processor ingredients for the “yolks” into a food processor; process into a coarse paste.

Combine the saucepan ingredients for the “yolks” in the saucepan and heat until bubbly over medium heat. Swirl the contents occasionally as the mixture heats.
With the food processor running, pour the molten saucepan mixture into the food chute. Process the entire contents until smooth. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula.

Transfer the “yolk” mixture to the food storage container and chill uncovered for a minimum of 1 hour to firm.

Line a plate with wax or parchment paper. Using a melon baller, rounded measuring spoon or similar object, scoop some of the “yolk” mixture into a rough ball shape, about the size of a hardened egg yolk. Roll the mixture between your palms to round the ball and smooth the surface a bit. It doesn’t have to be totally smooth. Set it on the lined plate. Repeat the procedure until you have 12 “yolks”. Make sure the “yolks” are not touching each other on the plate or they will stick together when frozen. This procedure is a bit messy and some of the mixture will stick to your hands, so keep a moist towel nearby. Place the uncovered plate into the freezer for about 1 hour. Avoid freezing for more than 2 hours or ice crystals will form on the “yolks”.

Preparing the “Egg Whites”
When ready to proceed, add the blender ingredients for the “egg whites” to a blender and process until completely liquefied. Add half of the mixture to the saucepan and heat to a soft boil, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Transfer the hot mixture to the measuring cup with the lip. The mixture may begin to curdle a bit in the measuring cup – this is normal and will not affect the finished flavor or texture. Pour the mixture into the molds, filling them no more than halfway. Let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes to help set the “white” mixture just a bit (this will help keep the yolk suspended, rather than sinking).

Carefully open the molds and place the frozen “yolks” in the center of each “white”. Close the molds and securely snap shut. Make sure they are completely snapped shut or the molten “white” mixture will leak out when topping off.

Pour the remaining “egg white” mixture into the saucepan and bring to a soft boil, stirring frequently. Transfer the mixture to the measuring cup and then fill each egg mold with the mixture to the top of the stems. The mixture may begin to curdle a bit in the measuring cup – this is normal and will not affect the finished flavor or texture. Let settle momentarily and then top off each mold with the mixture (the excess “whites” in the stems can be trimmed away later).

Transfer the molds to the refrigerator and chill for a few hours until completely set. Be careful handling the molds when transferring to the refrigerator so they do not pop open accidentally (for assurance, place the molds on a tray and then transfer to the refrigerator).

Finishing the “Hard-Boiled Eggs”
Open the molds and pop out the “eggs”. There will be a seam on the “eggs” where the molds joined together. Use a dry paper towel to gently rub the “egg” and remove the seam. Trim off the stem ends as needed with a paring knife. Chill the “eggs” in an airtight container until ready to use. The “eggs” should be consumed within 1 week. I’ve never frozen them for storage, so I cannot advise if this can be done successfully without damaging the texture.

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Eggless Egg Omelets (New Method)

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DSC09366-001Fluffy and delicate eggless omelets can be filled with your choice of ingredients. The cooking technique has been simplified from earlier editions of my cookbook, which allows all omelets to be prepared and served at the same time. A standard 9-inch pie plate is required for each omelet (non-stick is not required). This recipe yields 2 omelets, so you will need 2 pie plates to prepare 2 omelets at the same time. For additional omelets, simply double or triple the recipe and use additional pie plates for each omelet (most large ovens can accommodate 6 pie plates with three on each rack). This is a foolproof method of preparation with no-risk of scorching or undercooking, so don’t be intimated to try it.

Ingredients
• 1 carton (12.3 oz.) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar
• 3 Tbsp cornstarch or unmodified potato starch
• 1 Tbsp non-dairy butter (from my cookbooks) or commercial vegan margarine, softened or melted
• 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
• ½ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt) – or sea salt or kosher salt if you prefer
• ⅛ tsp onion powder
• ⅛ tsp sweet paprika
• ⅛ tsp turmeric
• fillings, toppings and garnishes of your choice

Tip: Cheese Melts (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook) work beautifully for omelets since the cheese is already melted. Shredded block cheeses (from the same cookbook) can be added to the cooked filling mixture while still warm to assist melting before filling the omelet.

Technique
Remove the tofu from the carton. Slice the tofu into 4 slabs and place the slabs on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel to drain for a minimum of 20 minutes. Firmly blot the tofu with additional towels to remove as much moisture as possible. This step is very important or the omelets will not set properly.

Crumble the tofu into a food processor* and add the starch, nutritional yeast, butter or margarine, kala namak, onion powder and turmeric. Process the contents until smooth. The ingredients will form a thick, pale cream (the egg color will develop when the mixture is cooked). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside while the oven is preheated and any fillings are prepared.

*A blender can be used, but the mixture will be thick and difficult to retrieve from around the blades; therefore a food processor is recommended for ease of preparation.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. If using a convection oven, reduce the heat by 25°F/10°C.

When using vegetables that have high moisture content, such as mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, diced tomatoes, etc., be sure to sauté them until they have released most of their liquid. Transfer the vegetables and other fillings to a separate bowl and set aside. If using shredded cheese, mix the shreds with the warm filling to assist melting before filling the omelet.

Lightly mist the pie plate(s) with cooking oil spray. Add half of the mixture (about ¾ cup) to each plate. With the back of large spoon or flexible spatula, pat and spread the mixture evenly to the interior edges of the plate. Place the pie plates, uncovered, into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Test the omelets by touching the center; the center should feel dry to the touch. If it feels gooey, bake an additional minute or two until just dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and spoon the filling onto one side of the omelet. With a flexible spatula, carefully lift the opposite side of the omelet over the filling. Return the omelet(s) to the oven for 3 minutes.

Slide the omelet(s) onto a serving plate and top and/or garnish as desired. Serve immediately.

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Chef’s Best French Toast

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DSC09106-001French toast is a classic breakfast and brunch favorite. My egg and dairy-free version consists of sliced bread dipped in a special eggless egg batter, pan-fried until golden brown and garnished with toppings of your choice.

Primary Ingredients
• 6 slices of bread*
• cooking oil
• toppings of your choice, such as non-dairy butter or margarine, real maple syrup, coconut syrup, fruit syrup, jam or marmalade; or top with fruit compote and dust with organic powdered sugar

*Bread that is a day or two old is best (but not stale). Whole grain bread has a heartier texture but I’m a traditionalist and prefer thick slices of homemade white bread.

Batter Ingredients
• ½ carton (about 6 oz.) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar
• ¾ cup plain or vanilla non-dairy milk
• 3 T unmodified potato starch, cornstarch or arrowroot flour
• 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 T mild vegetable oil
• 1 T organic sugar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract
• pinch of fine sea salt or kosher salt
• optional: ½ tsp cinnamon (or try pumpkin pie spice)

Technique
Carefully slide the silken tofu from the carton. Slice the tofu in half, reserving one half for other uses. Place the half block of tofu on a plate lined with a few paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel and let drain for 10 minutes.

Crumble the tofu into a blender, add the remaining batter ingredients and process until completely smooth. Pour the blender mixture into a pie plate or wide, shallow dish.

Add 2 tablespoons cooking oil to a non-stick skillet. Crumple a paper towel and wipe the oil around the skillet (reserve the oily paper towel to re-wipe the skillet in between batches of French toast). Place the skillet over medium-low heat. The key to this recipe is to cook the toast low and slow so the batter cooks through without scorching. In other words, don’t use high heat.

Dip a bread slice briefly into the batter. Coat both sides but do not soak. Gently shake the slice of bread to remove excess batter. Add the bread slice to the skillet and repeat with another slice. Fry until golden brown on each side (if the toast is taking an excessively long time to brown, the heat may be too low; increase the heat slightly).

Test each piece in the center with your finger to make sure the batter is cooked through and toast has firmed up. Transfer to a plate and place in a low oven while repeating the process with additional slices. Re-wipe the skillet with the oily paper towel before adding more battered bread (add a little more oil if needed).

Serve hot with a dab of non-dairy butter or margarine and the toppings of your choice.

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Italian Farinata/French Socca

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DSC06547-001
Farinata, or socca, is a type of thin, savory, unleavened and gluten-free crêpe or flat bread made from garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, which is also known as gram or besan flour. It originated in Genoa, Italy and later became a typical street food of the sea coast region, stretching from Nice, France to Pisa, Italy.

Farinata, or socca, is made by stirring water into a mixture of chickpea flour, seasonings and olive oil to form a loose batter. Traditionally it is cooked in an open oven; however, for this version it is cooked on the stove. It is then cut into triangle-shaped wedges and eaten. With the inclusion of the rosemary, the crêpes have a flavor reminiscent of Middle Eastern falafel and are wonderful served with hummus or baba ghannouj.

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The crêpes can also be topped with cooked vegetables and/or non-dairy cheese and folded over like an omelette, and as such are ideal for those who cannot consume tofu-based omelettes. It is essential to cook the vegetables so that all of their excess moisture is removed, otherwise the moisture will make the crêpes soggy. Please note that if you have issues with texture, chickpea flour is not as smooth as other flours and a slight grittiness can be detected on the tongue. This recipe yields four crêpes.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
• ¾ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• ¼ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 and ¼ cup warm water
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 tsp fresh minced rosemary (optional but recommended)
• Better Butter (from either cookbook) or commercial vegan margarine for the skillet
(olive oil can be substituted but the crêpes will not brown as nicely)

Technique:
In a large bowl, whisk together the garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, salt, onion powder, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Whisk in the warm water and olive oil (and optional rosemary, if desired). Cover and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer, the better).

In a 10-inch NON-STICK or WELL-SEASONED cast iron skillet, add 2 teaspoons butter or margarine and melt over medium heat. Use the tip of a flexible pancake spatula to spread the butter around the pan.

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Pour a fourth of the batter (½ cup) into the center of the skillet. Tilt and rotate the skillet slightly to spread the batter evenly into a circular shape. Avoid spreading the batter all the way to the curve of the skillet, if possible, as this will make it easier to loosen the edges of the crêpe with the spatula and flip it over. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the surface appears dry. This will take a few minutes.

Using the flexible spatula, gently loosen under the edges of the crêpe. Slide the spatula under the crêpe and quickly but carefully flip it over. Continue to cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slip the spatula under the crêpe and carefully slide it onto a serving plate. Place the plate in a lightly warmed oven to keep the crêpe warm while preparing the additional crêpes.

Repeat the procedure for the additional crêpes, but reduce the butter or margarine to 1 teaspoon.

Cut the crêpes into wedges and serve warm.

To serve as an “omelette”:
After flipping the crêpe, top with shredded cheese or cooked vegetables and fold the crêpe in half over the toppings. If using cheese, cover with a lid, and continue to warm for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt. Serve immediately.

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