Escabeche (Mexican Spicy Pickled Vegetables)

DSC09705“Escabeche” is the Spanish word for “pickle”. This simple but zesty combination of crunchy pickled vegetables is a favorite for serving with Mexican cuisine.

Ingredients
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
• florets from 1 small cauliflower
• 12 whole cloves garlic
• 3 large jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded, membrane removed and sliced lengthwise into slivers
• 3 T coarse sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 and ½ cups water
• 1 cup champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
• 1 T organic sugar
• 2 bay leaves
• ½ tsp dried oregano
• ½ tsp dried marjoram
• ½ tsp dried thyme

Technique
Add the olive oil to a large cooking pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and salt and sweat the mixture for about 10 minutes until softened. Keep the heat on the low side to avoid browning the vegetables.

Add the water, vinegar, sugar and herbs and bring to a rapid boil. Cover the pot and remove from the heat to cool. When cooled, divide the mixture between 2 one-quart jars (be sure to include a bay leaf into each jar), seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days before serving (the longer the better). The refrigerated escabeche will last for a few months stored in this manner.

To seal the jars and preserve the escabeche for pantry storage, removing the pot from the heat. Carefully divide the hot mixture between 2 one-quart mason jars (be sure to include a bay leaf in each jar). Put the lids in place and tighten the lid rings. Invert the jars for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, upright the jars and slightly loosen the lid rings. Let the jars rest and cool until the lids “pop” and seal shut. Retighten the lid rings and store the jars in your pantry until ready to use.

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Escabeche (Mexican Spicy Pickled Vegetables)
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Sweet and Smoky Tomato Jam

DSC09681Although many people consider tomatoes to be a vegetable, they’re actually a fruit; so why not make them into jam? Actually, tomato jam is more like a relish than a true jam. My partner Chef Mike and I created this blend one Sunday afternoon and we were thrilled with the lovely balance of sweet, tangy and smoky flavors. This jam is wonderful when used as an alternative to ketchup on veggie burgers and hot dogs. It’s also excellent when served with cheese, such as non-dairy chèvre, on crostini or crusty bread. This recipe yields about 2 cups.

Ingredients
• 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled plum tomatoes or 1 and ½ lb fresh plum tomatoes
• 1 T olive oil
• ½ cup diced sweet yellow onion
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ cup organic sugar
• ¼ cup sherry vinegar
• 2 T tomato paste
• 2 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ½ tsp ground white pepper

Technique
Drain the excess liquid from the can of tomatoes and place the tomatoes into a food processor; do not process yet. If using fresh tomatoes, bring a large volume of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and place them into the boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately plunge them into an ice water bath. Once cooled, the skins should slip off easily. Place the tomatoes into the food processor; do not process yet.

In a medium saucepan, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The goal is to soften and draw out the flavor of the onion and garlic without browning. When the onion becomes translucent, transfer the mixture to the food processor with the tomatoes and pulse a few times into a “salsa-like” consistency.

Transfer the tomato mixture back to the saucepan and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the jam cool and transfer to a sealable container. Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving. Keep in mind that this is a fresh jam, not a preserved jam, but the acidity and sugar will keep it fresh in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

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Sweet and Smoky Tomato Jam
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Rating: 3.67
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Votes: 3
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Hari Chutney (Cilantro Mint)

DSC09368-002This bright green, tangy and refreshing Indian chutney is my absolute favorite condiment. Enjoy it with all Indian cuisine and as a spread or dip for samosa (deep-fried or baked pastry with savory filling), pakoras (Indian vegetable fritters) naan, papadum, roti and any and all other flatbreads and crackers. If you have a timid palate, start with ½ of the green chile and increase according to taste. Try mixing the chutney with plain non-dairy yogurt for a uniquely different salad dressing. It also adds wonderful flavor to non-dairy Crème Fraîche, sour cream and even eggless mayonnaise. The chutney will last about 1 week stored in the refrigerator; simply freeze any unused portion (try freezing in silicone molds or ice cube trays for easy use). This recipe yields about 1 and ¾ cup.

Ingredients
• 2 large bunches of cilantro (excess stems at bottom removed)
• 1 large handful of mint leaves (stems removed)
• 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 small green chile, seeded and chopped (or a large chile if you can take the heat)
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• ¾ tsp sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste

Technique
Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with additional salt to taste as desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Hari Chutney (Cilantro Mint)
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Quick Yogurt (uncultured)

Non-dairy yogurt preparation involves introducing specific strains of lactobacillus bacteria into a blend of soy and cashew milk. The yogurt culture then produces lactic acid which in turn thickens and acidifies the milk mixture, thus creating the tangy yogurt.

With this recipe and technique, the culturing step is bypassed and commercial lactic acid is added directly to the milk mixture, which creates a thick and tangy uncultured yogurt.

While it lacks the probiotic benefits of cultured yogurt, quick yogurt offers convenience for culinary applications. No substitutions can be made for any ingredient in this recipe since each ingredient serves a specific function. This recipe yields about 2 and ¼ cup; should more be needed, simply double the recipe.

Ingredients
• ½ cup (2.5 oz.) whole raw cashews (sorry, no substitutions)
• 2 cups organic plain unsweetened soymilk (sorry, no substitutions)
• 2 and ½ tsp vegan lactic acid powder* (sorry, no substitutions)

*Vegan lactic acid powder is available from ModernistPantry.com

Preparation
Rinse the cashews to remove any debris, drain and place them into a blender (they do not require pre-soaking). Add the soymilk and process on high speed for 2 full minutes.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a small saucepan. This will capture any minute particles; a nut milk bag is not required.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir slowly and continually until the mixture thickens and is just coming to a simmer. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat to cool for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally while cooling to discourage a “skin” from forming on the surface.

Whisk in the lactic acid powder until blended and transfer the mixture to a sealable container. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and thickened. Use in your favorite recipe as needed. If the yogurt thickens excessively or becomes lumpy during refrigeration, add small amounts of soymilk while whisking vigorously until silky and smooth.

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Quick Yogurt (uncultured)
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Quick Non-Dairy Sour Cream

Tofu-based sour cream has never appealed to me because I cannot tolerate the chalky undertaste; and uncultured cashew-based sour cream doesn’t work for me either because the natural sweetness of the cashews yields a product that is much too sweet for my liking (although it works in dessert applications). Cultured cashew-based sour cream, on the other hand, has a very accurate dairy sour cream flavor because the lacto-bacterial culture converts the natural sugar in the cashews into lactic acid, thus providing the authentic tanginess and eliminating the excessively sweet taste. However, preparing rejuvelac and culturing the cream takes several days and sometimes a quick alternative is appreciated.

It took some experimentation to achieve a texture and flavor that satisfied my taste, but I think this quick version makes an excellent alternative to its cultured counterpart. While this recipe still uses cashews to add body to the cream, the ratio of cashews is significantly reduced. Please note that there is no alternative to using soymilk in this recipe. Thickening is dependent upon the curdling action of soymilk when lactic acid is introduced. Other plant milks will not react to the acid in the same manner.

Vegan lactic acid powder can be purchased online from ModernistPantry.com. Citric acid powder can be used as an alternative to lactic acid powder but will not provide the same lactic dairy flavor. I don’t recommend lemon juice as an alternative acid for this recipe, since the water content in lemon juice will thin the texture too much. This recipe yields about 1 and ¾ cup sour cream.

Ingredients
• ¼ cup refined coconut oil
• ½ cup (2.5 oz.) whole raw cashews (pre-soaking is not necessary)
• 1 and ¼ cup organic plain unsweetened soymilk (sorry, no substitutes)
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 and ½ tsp lactic acid

Preparation
Remove the lid from the coconut oil and place the jar or bottle into a microwave. Heat until melted (about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending upon the solidity of the coconut oil); avoid overheating the oil. Alternately, place the jar or bottle into a container filled with near boiling water and let stand until the oil melts. Measure the coconut oil and set aside.

Measure the lactic acid and set aside in a small dish.

Add the cashews, soymilk and salt to a high-powered blender, cover and process for 2 full minutes.

Remove the lid plug and with the blender running on high speed, add the coconut oil.
Reduce the speed to low and add the lactic acid powder. The cream will thicken instantly – turn the blender off. Do not continue to process once thickened.

Transfer the sour cream to an airtight container, seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours until well-chilled and further thickened. Consume within 10 days of preparation.

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Quick Non-Dairy Sour Cream
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Rating: 3.75
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Votes: 24
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Gentle Chef Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder

This convenient, instant powder can be used to prepare a comforting and savory golden broth by the cup or the quart. This recipe yields about 48 cups of prepared bouillon.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
• 5 Tbsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ cup onion powder
• 2 Tbsp organic sugar
• 1 Tbsp commercial poultry seasoning blend
• 1 Tbsp garlic powder
• 2 tsp dried celery flakes
• 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
• 2 tsp dehydrated carrot flakes (optional)
• ½ tsp ground white pepper

Preparation:
Process the ingredients in a dry blender until finely powdered; store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For a soothing mug of golden bouillon, dissolve 2 level teaspoons bouillon powder in 12 oz. of piping hot water. Stir well. A fine seasoning sediment will settle on the bottom of the mug, so stir occasionally while sipping or simply discard the sediment after consuming.

To prepare an instant broth for soups and stews, use 1 and ¼ teaspoon of bouillon powder for each cup of simmering water, or more or less to taste. For 8 cups of broth, use about 3 tablespoons, or more or less to taste.

For a clear broth, let the prepared broth cool to room temperature and pour into a sealable container, discarding any seasoning sediment that has settled on the bottom of the cooking pot. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 10 days, which will allow any micro-fine seasoning sediment to further settle on the bottom of the container. Decant the clear portion of broth and use in recipes as needed.

Tip: Gentle Chef Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder is also a convenient, nutritious and delicious alternative to chicken broth served in hospitals for vegan patients restricted to a liquid diet.

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Gentle Chef Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder
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Rating: 4.5
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Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
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