Potato, Leek and Fennel Gratin

DSC00686-002Sliced Yukon gold potatoes, fennel bulb and chopped leeks are bathed in a rich non-dairy Gruyère-style cheese sauce and baked until browned and bubbly.

Ingredients
• 2 T non-dairy butter or margarine, plus 1 T for greasing the baking dish
• 2 and ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes
• 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only,
split lengthwise, rinsed well and chopped into half “moons”
• 1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
• coarse ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 cups Gruyère Cheese Sauce (see following recipe)

Gratin Preparation
Grease the interior of a shallow, rectangular baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and slice them ⅛-inch thick. A mandoline makes the job much easier and creates more uniform slices – but watch your fingers! Place the slices immediately into a large pot of water to prevent the slices from oxidizing (turning brown). Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for exactly 1 minute. Remove from the heat and drain the slices thoroughly in a colander. Set aside.

Add the remaining butter or margarine to a skillet and place over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and sauté until tender and golden. Add the garlic, thyme and a dash of black pepper and sauté an additional minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Prepare the Gruyère cheese sauce; set aside over low heat to keep warm.

Layer ⅓ of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish and top with half of the leek and fennel mixture. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the layers. Repeat layering with another ⅓ of the potatoes, the remaining leek and fennel mixture and finish with a layer of potatoes. Cover with the remaining sauce and season with additional ground black pepper.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until browned nicely. Remove from the oven and serve.

Gruyère Cheese Sauce
Dairy Gruyère is a slightly salty, ripened Swiss cheese. While its texture and complex flavor is difficult to reproduce in non-dairy form, this cheese sauce captures the flavor of Gruyère fairly well, while retaining its own unique character.

Sauce Ingredients
• 1 and ¾ cup plain unsweetened soymilk
• ¼ cup mild vegetable oil
• ¼ cup tapioca starch
• ¼ cup mellow white miso paste
• 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 2 T extra-dry vermouth or dry white wine
• 2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
• ½ tsp kappa carrageenan (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ tsp dry ground mustard
• ¼ tsp ground coriander

*The vermouth or wine can be omitted for health or ethical reasons, but this will alter the flavor profile.

Sauce Preparation
In a small saucepan, vigorously whisk together the ingredients until smooth (a blender can also be used to efficiently combine the ingredients). 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. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to use. For a spreadable consistency, remove from the heat and allow the melt to thicken.

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Bedeviled Eggless Eggs

19Bedeviled eggless eggs are remarkably similar to deviled eggs in appearance, taste and texture. They make the perfect bite-size finger food for BBQs, picnics and parties. Kala namak, or Himalayan black salt, is essential to impart that familiar egg-like taste to these savory bites.

A blender is required for preparing the “egg whites” and a food processor is recommended for the “yolk filling”. You will also need an 8” square baking pan and 1 block (about 14 oz. before pressing) extra-firm water-packed tofu (not silken tofu). If you have egg molds, or a heat-proof container that specifically holds deviled eggs, the “egg white” mixture can be poured directly into the molds to create perfect, halved hard-boiled egg shapes. This recipe yields 16 to 24 bedeviled eggless eggs or more depending upon the mold(s) used for the “egg whites”.

Ingredients for the “Egg Whites”
• ⅓ block (about 5 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• ¾ tsp kala namak (Himalayan black salt)
• 2 cups water
• 2 and ¼ tsp agar powder

Ingredients for the “Yolk” Filling
• ⅔ block (about 9 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• ¼ cup eggless mayonnaise
• 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 T dill pickle brine
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard or spicy golden mustard
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp kala namak* (Himalayan black salt), or more to taste
• ¼ tsp sweet paprika (for extra “bedeviling” add a pinch of cayenne pepper too)
• ¼ tsp ground turmeric

Garnishes

• sweet paprika
• optional: coarse ground black pepper, sliced black olives; fresh snipped chives or “spears”; capers; minced celery; minced onion; chopped cornichons; chopped dill or dill “fronds”

Preparation
Drain and press the tofu until it is not releasing any more liquid. Slice ⅓ of the tofu to use for the “egg whites”. The remaining ⅔ will be used for the “yolk” filling.

To prepare the “egg whites”, place the “egg white” ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the tofu mixture. Avoid boiling as this will cause the soy protein to re-coagulate (a minimal degree of re-coagulation may occur as the mixture is brought to a simmer but will not affect the final appearance or texture). Pour the mixture into the 8” baking pan and set aside to cool. If you have egg molds, or a heat-proof container that specifically holds deviled eggs, pour the tofu mixture directly into the molds and set aside to cool. After cooling a bit, refrigerate until completely set, about 1 hour.

Next, crumble the ⅔ block of pressed tofu into the food processor and add the remaining “yolk” filling ingredients. Process the contents until completely smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Alternately, the mixture can be mashed using a fork or a potato masher/ricer, but the mixture will not be as smooth. Taste the mixture and add additional kala namak (or sea salt) as desired.

Transfer the “yolk” mixture to a bowl or food storage container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now, run a table knife around the perimeter of the baking pan to loosen the “egg white” (or simply pop them out of the egg molds). Invert the baking pan onto a clean work surface. At this point, the “egg white” can be cut into rectangles or cut into rounds or ovals.

For rectangles, cut the “egg whites” into 6 even strips. Turn your cutting surface and make 4 even slices. This will create 24 rectangles. For rounds or ovals, use a 1 and ½-inch to 1 and ¾-inch cookie cutter or ring mold. Any “egg white” remnants can be finely diced and mixed with any of the leftover “yolk” filling for a quick eggless egg salad sandwich.

Spoon a generous teaspoonful of the “yolk” mixture onto the top of each “egg white”. Alternately, the mixture can be decoratively piped onto the “egg whites” using a pastry bag. If you don’t have a pastry bag, try placing the mixture into a zip-lock bag, seal and then snip off a tiny piece from the bottom corner of the bag with scissors. Squeeze the bag to pipe the mixture onto the “egg whites”.

Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with optional ingredients as desired. Cover gently with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly before serving.

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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.

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Apple, Walnut and Beet Salad with Citrus Miso Vinaigrette
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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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Whipped Potato and Parsnip Gratin featuring Jarlsberg Melt
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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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