Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

This is another one from the Candle 79 Cookbook, which is super simple and quite decadent. In my usual fashion, I didn't totally stick to the recipe.

The original recipe calls for:
2.5 cups semisweet dark chocolate chips
1 cup soy milk
1 lb silken tofu
3/4 cup maple syrup

I used:
1 70-percent cocoa chocolate bar (about a cup of chocolate)
1 cup soy mlik
1 14-oz package of silken tofu
1/2 cup agave

Either way, what you do is dissolve the chocolate in the soy milk over a double boiler. Add the mixture to the tofu and sweetener, blend in the blender for about 3 min. Pour into cups and chill in the fridge overnight.

The whole process takes about 20 min, tops, and the result is a super-yummy and relatively low-fat dessert!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

This dish is from the Candle 79 cookbook, which contains recipes made at the very upscale vegan restaurant Candle 79. Most of the recipes in this book either A. Would take me all day to make or B. Involve ingredients which are difficult to find and probably expensive. This was one of the simpler recipes (still much more time-consuming than my usual cooking), and the only things I omitted were a piece of kombu (sea vegetable) and I used regular chile powder instead of chipotle. 

It requires:
1.5 cups dried black beans
1.5 cups brown rice
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 onion
Paprika, chili powder, olive oil, salt

Soak the beans overnight, drain, re-cover with water, and add a tsp of chili powder, 1 chopped onion, and a sprinkle of salt. Cook 1.5 hrs in a regular pot or about 15 min in the pressure cooker.

Meanwhile add 3 c water and a pinch of salt to the brown rice, cook 45 min in a regular pot or about 20 in the pressure cooker.

Saute the pumpkin seeds in olive oil , pinch of salt, and a tsp of paprika (the recipe called for "smoked paprika" so I added a splash of liquid smoke flavor) about 5 min on medium heat until browned.

Combine these 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Take half of the mixture and puree it in the food processor, then mix it again. You should now have a not-too-goopy mix you can form into patties. Make patties about 3 inches wide and one inch thick and fry in olive oil, about 2 min on each side. Baking is also an option: grease a pan with olive oil and bake at 350, 15 min per side.

I served these initially on whole wheat buns with the traditional lettuce and ketchup. A more interesting choice would be to top them with salsa and avocado.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vegan Marshmallows

Stumbling home in the blistering heat on Sun night, a sight on Lexington Avenue in the mid-50s stopped me in my tracks: Sweet and Sara vegan marshmallows were visibly apparent through the store window from the street. Like a moth to a flame, I followed them in, and purchased a vegan s'more (vegan marshmallow on a super-rich homemade graham cracker enrobed in thin, rich dark chocolate) which I inhaled immediately, a vegan rice crispy treat made from organic brown rice, and a variety pack of marshmallows, whose flavors include vanilla, strawberry, and coconut.

Those blissfully unaware might want to skip the rest of this post, but, newsflash: marshmallows are made from meat. So are Starburst, Skittles, Gummy Bears, Jell-O, and a host of pudding and pie fillings. Gelatin, the offending ingredient which gives these treats their chewy texture, is made from cow or pig bones, hooves, skin, gristle, and other undesireable parts. Gelatin has absolutely no nutritional value and is made from parts of the animal which would otherwise be thrown out.

For marshmallow lovers who are also veggies, however, there is an answer. I had not eaten a marshmallow in 20 years (and had NEVER HAD a rice crispie treat) before I was turned on to Sweet and Sara, a tiny, single-female owned local business in Long Island City which almost exclusively makes vegan marshmallows. Their brand has rapidly branched out from solely being available online (my favorite mode of purchase as they often have special discounts) to being available in a host of local health food stores (albeit, in my experience, at a substantial markup from their online prices) to now becoming available, unbelievably enough, at a corporate chain such as Duane Reade which normally I would systematically avoid, and at VERY reasonable prices!

Now, I would not go so far as to call S+S a health food, and I will give this caveat: you may become horribly addicted, order 60 bucks worth of marshmallows at a time, eat all of them with your husband in 3 sittings, and gain 5 lbs. Not that anyone I know would do such a thing. S+S mallows are mostly sugar and contain corn syrup, but to their credit they don't have any super-weird chemical additives, preservatives, or artificial colors or flavors. And let's face it, traditional marshmallows are a junk food, so at worst you're replacing something already bad for you with another junk food which is not contributing to animal suffering (not to mention supporting a sole proprietorship run by an innovative young woman, which is a noble cause in and of itself.)

I am shocked that a corporate company like Duane Reade would carry a specialty item by a local artisan, delighted that it is, very happy for Ms. Sara, hopeful that this may spark more vegan awareness, and grateful that this favorite treat of mine has become more readily and affordably available.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chickpea Meatless Balls

 This is a yummy and healthy alternative to the traditional spaghetti and meatballs.

Put 2 slices of whole wheat toast, a pinch of salt, and a liberal sprinkle of Italian herbs in the food processor. Blend until bread crumbs are produced. (You could use packaged crumbs, but why, when this is cheaper, healthier, and takes 15 seconds.) Pour crumbs into bowl.

Put 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, (save the water) in the food processor and blend until a crumbly texture is achieved. Combine with bread crumbs, mix well. 

Add 2 Ener-G egg replacers or 2 beaten eggs to the mix, mix well.

Place entire contents back into the food processor, add water from  chickpeas a tbsp at a time while blending until a thick paste is formed. (Err on the side of less water, if it becomes liquidy all hope is lost.)

Form the paste into meatball-sized balls.

In a large saucepan, saute 1 onion and 1 garlic clove in olive oil until soft. Add the remaining water from the chickpeas, a quarter cup ketchup*, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, another generous sprinkle of Italian herbs, and a tbsp of nutritional yeast**. Stir well, then drop the balls in carefully. They should be about half covered, if there is too little gravy add a bit more water.

Simmer on low heat for about 25 min. Periodically gently turn the balls over with a spoon. They are not going to become hard, but should somewhat congeal.

Serve over pasta or alone.

*This is a recipe which as far as I know was invented by my father, who due to having lived through WWII has certain poverty foods he is attached to, such as pasta sauce made with ketchup and baked beans on toast. Having grown up eating these dishes made by him, there is a comfort-food factor in the flavor of a ketchup-based sauce for me. If you find the idea of seasoning with ketchup unbearable this dish would probably also be fine if the balls were cooked in tomato sauce.

** Nutritional yeast, which is not used in my father's version, gives the sauce a rich, cheesy flavor and is also chock-full of Vitamin B12.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

 This is a very simple, quick, and low-fat recipe.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c soymilk or almond milk
3 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer + 2 tbsp warm water**

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk in wet ingredients until a batter is formed. Add about a cup of blueberries and mix well. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan and drop in clumps of batter by the heaping tablespoon. This batter is thicker and less liquidy than normal pancake batter and the pancakes will come out more like very soft biscuits. Fry each side on medium heat for about 5 min or until brown and crispy. Top with real maple syrup or agave and Earth Balance vegetable oil spread.

** There may be other ways to replace the eggs in the standard pancake recipe, such as silken tofu, but I find this brand, which is made from potato starch and calcium carbonate, thickens up nicely and is very inexpensive. You can find it at most health-food stores.