Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Sometimes I like to make this vegan mushroom gravy because you can dump it all over all kinds of stuff and it makes everything taste amazing. Savory and meaty and delicious.  (Sausage gravy will achieve the same purpose, but this is cheaper than buying nice sausage from the farmers market, and mushrooms are really tasty anyway). mushroomsToday I put it on a baked sweet potato for lunch.  Last night I put it on spaghetti squash and collard greens.  This is my go-to gravy for making vegan/vegetarian soul food dinners; I usually make mashed sweet potatoes with some brown sugar and bourbon, whip up a batch of this gravy, stew some greens, maybe fry a couple green tomatoes or bake some biscuits…. good to go.  No meat needed. purple sweet potato and mushroom gravy(I feel like I need to acknowledge that this sweet potato is bright purple.  I bought it at the co-op the other day, not realizing how vivid the color would be.  Hooray for purple vegetables, right?)

VEGAN MUSHROOM GRAVY

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs. vegan margarine, butter or olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. diced onions
  • 3 c. sliced mushrooms*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. of soy sauce (or, if you don’t eat soy, balsamic vinegar is good)
  • 3/4 c. water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs. chopped parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a sauté pan on medium.  Add the garlic, onions and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are translucent.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are cooked through.  Add 1/4 c. of water to the mushrooms while they’re cooking to make sure they don’t stick and burn.  Add the whole wheat flour and nutritional yeast and stir to coat the mushrooms mixture.  Let it start to brown on the pan a little bit, add the soy sauce and let it cook for another minute. The pan should be getting a little brown and crusty, but not actually burned.  Deglaze the pan with 1/2 c. of water or vegetable stock.  Keep stirring and the gravy should come together and thicken within a few minutes.  If it’s too thick, add a little more water.  Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a mixture of shiitakes and button mushrooms, but it really doesn’t matter what varieties you choose.

Advertisements

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

moroccan vegetable stewThis is a perfect fall stew, filled with vegetables from the late summer garden and richly spiced with cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric.  It’s based off a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant, so I can’t take credit for the brilliant idea, but when I made it for the cooking demo at the Redwood Valley Farmers Market this past Sunday, I realized I’d made so many small changes to it so it would fit what we have locally available that I should probably write up a fresh version so I don’t have to explain it to anyone else.  Because it’s so good! You must make it. If you want a simple, cheap, delicious dinner using a bunch of stuff you probably have around anyway, this is it.

The original recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, which is a fantastic cookbook and worth every penny.

MOROCCAN VEGETABLE STEW

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 3 c. diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. (or less) cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 c. peeled, cubed winter squash – 1″ cubes (this is about 1 average sized butternut squash or 2 average sized buttercup squash)
  • 2 c. water or vegetable stock
  • 3 c. diced heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 c. diced eggplant
  • 1 c. diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 c. diced summer squash (any color)
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. diced tart apples
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges, optional, for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium low heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, covered, for five minutes.  Add the garlic and spices and sauté, covered, for another three minutes.  Add the winter squash and sauté for a couple more minutes, then pour in the water.  Add the tomatoes and eggplant, cover and let everything simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add the peppers, summer squash, chickpeas, raisins and apples, cover, and simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the winter squash and eggplant are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Garnish with lemon wedges.

Feel free to change around the fruit based on what you have available.  This stew would be great with dried apricots instead of raisins and I’d love to try it with chopped fresh pears instead of the apples.

Gobi Mutter Masala (Kind of, I think), aka. Cauliflower Curry

I think that maybe this would maybe be called gobi mutter masala? That’s what I was googling when I was originally looking at recipes for cauliflower curry.  But then I changed the recipe a whole bunch, so maybe it’s just some weird americanized cauliflower curry.  Really, I have no idea.  Either way, this curry is delicious and a really wonderful way to use up cauliflower if you happen to have some lying around.cauliflower curryA few notes:

I used a pretty substantial amount of heavy cream and some butter in this recipe, but it could easily be made vegan by switching to a neutral flavored oil and coconut milk.  The amount of heavy cream can also be tweaked; I used an amount that made it taste super rich and creamy and good, but if you’re trying to go a little bit lighter (since it’s January and all), you could just add another cup of plain yogurt instead of the heavy cream.  It won’t be quite as luxurious, but it will still taste good.  For a lighter vegan version, I would use plain almond milk.

GOBI MUTTER MASALA

Serves: 4-6, depending on portion sizes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 tbs. paprika
  • 1 tbs. turmeric
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (remove the seeds if you want to keep the dish on the mild side)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 quart crushed tomatoes
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1  c. heavy cream
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 c. frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Heat the butter on medium heat in a large pot. Add the dry spices (fenugreek, coriander, cumin, paprika and tumeric) and saute them in the butter for a minute or two. Then, add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and onion and saute for another few minutes until the onions start to turn translucent. (Add more butter or a little water if the onion/spice mixture gets too dry and starts to stick).
Add the quart of crushed tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, yogurt and heavy cream and turn the heat to a low simmer.  Cook for ten minutes and then puree with an immersion blender (or whatever you use to puree things in your kitchen).
Add the cauliflower and peas to the tomato sauce, cover the pot, and then simmer for another 20 minutes or so to cook the cauliflower.  Taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice as necessary.  At this point the curry is ready to serve, but you can also simmer it on low for a bit longer if you have the time.  (The flavors tend to improve if it sits on the stove for awhile. )
Serve over rice topped with chopped fresh cilantro.

Baked Kale & Artichoke Dip

This dip is inspired by the spinach-artichoke dip that I think many people have probably had at some restaurant or another.   It’s not anything new or trendy but let’s pretend it is since I’m using kale instead of spinach. I was thinking about making it the other day and realized I didn’t see any recipes for it on the internet that looked very good.  Most involved a lot of mayonnaise.  Sorry, but no.  It is weird that the idea of baking a mayonaissey dip sounds disgusting to me? Cheese is for baking, not mayonaisse.  Melty cheese = amazing.  Melty mayo = um…. dino kale This dip would be perfectly at home on a holiday appetizer table and is best paired a sparkly cocktail or three.  It’s also great for convincing people who hate kale that they actually love kale (what vegetable isn’t delicious drowned in cheese?)kale and artichoke dipBAKED KALE AND ARTICHOKE DIP

Cook Time: 45 min.

Makes: a large batch, enough for 5-10 people depending on portion size

Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1 c. chopped cooked kale leaves
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 + 1/4 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients except 1/4 c. of the monterey jack cheese in the bowl and mix for a minute or two to combine everything.  You can do it by hand, too, but you really need to make sure that the cream cheese is fully softened.  Transfer the dip to a small oven-safe dish, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil for the last 3-4 minutes to get the cheese on top properly brown and bubbly.  (Keep a close eye at this point…. things go from bubbly to black and burned really quickly).

Serve hot, with tortilla chips, pita chips or raw vegetables.

Potato-Leek Pancakes with Pear Sauce

On nights that I’m just cooking for myself, I have huge problems motivating to cook anything remotely resembling a coherent dinner. Lots of times I just make scrambled eggs. Sometimes I make popcorn.  These potato pancakes are my attempt at cooking a meal that’s a little more like real food, but still is cheap (really cheap) and lightning fast to throw together.  potato pancakesYou probably already know how to make potato pancakes, but sometimes I write stuff here more to remind people that it’s a good idea.  Instead of having them with the traditional applesauce accompaniment, I used bartlett pear sauce that I made earlier this fall and it was totally delicious.  My friend Jen from Salt Hollow Flower Farm turned me on to canning pear sauce instead of applesauce, and I have to agree, it really is divine.  (I used this pear sauce recipe here.)

POTATO LEEK PANCAKES

Makes: 4 medium pancakes or 8 small pancakes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. of shredded potato, tightly packed (about 2 large potatoes)
  • 1/4 c. thinly sliced leeks
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs. wheat flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbs. safflower or other neutral flavored oil
  • for serving: pear sauce, sour cream and sliced scallions

Combine the potato, leeks, egg and flour in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix together everything thoroughly. Heat the oil in a frying pan on high heat. Form the potato mixture into patties and set them in the pan. Cook for about three minutes, then flip them with a spatula to cook the other side for a few minutes.  The pancakes are done with each side is a nice shade of golden brown.  Serve immediately, topped with sour cream, pear sauce, and scallions.

How To Pull Off Your Own DIY Wedding, Pt 2: The Food!

When I saw all the boring menus offered on most wedding catering websites, we immediately decided just to cater the whole thing ourselves.  Other blogs talk about self-catering your wedding like it’s an insanely difficult task, along the lines of building a rocket ship or performing open-heart surgery, but it’s really not hard at all if you plan it right.  For anyone that enjoys cooking and is having a smallish wedding, I think it’s perfectly feasible. The key to doing this successfully is that you don’t want to actually cook anything on your wedding day.  I made virtually everything in advance and then just had my mom keep an eye on the oven while it all reheated. (We were outside trying to see if the dogs would sit still for wedding portraits.  They wouldn’t). wedding dog portraitIf you decide to go the self-catering route, there are a few things that you need to think about while you’re menu planning:

1. Does the dish hold well in the refrigerator for a day or two?

It’s perfectly fine to cook things several days in advance from a food safety standpoint, but will you be sacrificing texture or flavor? Steamed rice will dry out in the fridge, spaghetti is basically impossible to reheat without a microwave, mashed potatoes turn into one solid lump.  It’s better to think more along the lines of casseroles, braises, stews, curries and the like.  You can always do a test batch in the months leading up to the wedding and then see how it lasts in the fridge. Since we were cooking for such a large range of diets for our wedding day, we decided to go italian with everything. It tends to be a good common ground that will make everyone happy, from carnivores to vegans.

2. Do you have enough fridge space?

We were cooking for 25 people. We have a pretty average sized fridge and it was totally full of saran wrapped casserole dishes.  We couldn’t have fit one more thing if we tried.  Beverages were out in the garage and in coolers to stay cold. By this logic, I would estimate 1 refrigerator per 25 people. (You definitely don’t want to make a bunch of food and then realize you don’t have anywhere to store it…)

3. Remember food safety.

Remember to properly refrigerate the food you cook in advance. Make sure to reheat it thoroughly on the day of the event. When you’re cooking in the days leading up to the event, make sure you arrange your fridge properly and put vegetables and cooked food higher up than raw meats, which should be at the bottom of the fridge (so you don’t end up getting chicken juice getting on your raw vegan appetizers).

4. Menu Planning:

As with all local cooking, it’s not a good idea to get too set on a specific thing.  I knew what I had in the pantry and the garden, so I had some ideas, but I also shopped at the farmers market the week before the cooking.

With all that in mind, here’s the menu we figured out, doing our best to highlight the local foods we have available in February:

Friday Dinner:

We didn’t bother with a rehearsal or a rehearsal dinner, but for Friday night, when we had some friends over to help set up the space for the ceremony the next day, we had big pots of vegan curries that are simple to make and can hold on low for hours and hours.

 

and for Saturday, the wedding day:

Breakfast, self-serve for all of the guests that stayed with us:

Appetizers:

  • Vegan Summer Rolls stuffed with local greens, served with Peanut Sauce
  • Crab Rangoon, made with local dungennes crab and spring onions
  • Local Cheese Plate

Dinner:

  • Lasagna with beef & pork ragu, made with our home canned tomato sauce
  • Stuffed shells with local chard, ricotta custard and black pepper chevre from my friends at Shamrock Artisan Cheese, topped with our tomato sauce.
  • Vegan Polenta Casserole with Mushroom Ragu (The link takes to to a similar recipe with a different filling. Same idea though).
  • Garden Salad with greens from Floodgate Farms and Lovin’ Mama Farms

Dessert:

  • Vegan Chocolate Cake with Vegan Buttercream Frosting

 

Since I can’t write a post this long and not share a recipe, I should probably tell you about my summer rolls and peanut sauce…. summer rolls with peanut sauceThis is such a great appetizer; they always make people super happy and taste great.  Plus, since it’s really mostly salad, your guests don’t end up eating a bunch of rich food right off the bad (….. because that means food comas and food comas don’t really make for a fun party).  Summer rolls are super labor intensive, but they can be made a day in advance as long as you cover each layer thoroughly with saran wrap.   My new sister-in-law and I rolled about 100 of them while we hung out together the day before the wedding and it really went pretty quick.

The Kitchn has an excellent post about wrapping summer rolls, so I’m not going to bother re-photographing everything they already did….

For the peanut sauce, I use an approximation of the following recipe. (I wanted to tell you an exact version, but I burned out the motor in my blender, so now I just have to estimate.  I’ve made it so many times that this should be really close, though.)

Peanut Sauce

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. freshly ground peanut butter, usually found in the bulk-food section of the grocery store
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2″ of peeled ginger root, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 or 3 hot peppers, depending on your heat preference (dried or fresh will both work)
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1  c. orange juice
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce

Combine everything but the peanut butter in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add the peanut butter and blend again.* If the sauce is too thick for dipping, add some orange juice.  If it’s too thin and watery, add some more peanut butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If it tastes too spicy, add some honey or sugar.  You can serve this immediately but it will hold in the fridge for several days.

*If you put in the peanut butter first, you’ll burn out motor in the blender.

Note: Next time I make peanut sauce, I’ll check the amounts on this recipe, but if someone else makes it first, please let me know how it goes.

 

Winter Vegetable & Lentil Stew

I think the easiest way to make something good out of whatever vegetables you have on hand is to make soup.  And it’s great, because I really like soup. I like cooking it. I like eating it. I like that you can make a big pot and put the leftovers in the fridge and have lunches for days. I do a fair amount of professional cooking, and soups and stews are the most obvious choices when I need to feed a mixed group of carnivores-vegetarians-vegans-gluten free – whatevers. It’s pretty simple just to make a big pot of veggie stew, maybe serve it with a green salad and a grain.

Really, one of the main things I like about soup is that its a huge pot of vegetables, so when I have a bowl, I can pat myself on the back for eating healthy things and not Doritos.

These were the vegetables I decided to turn into soup today: winter vegetablesSomething about the sweet, nutty flavor of the parsnips really made this recipe worth righting about here. It was delicious.

We had it for lunch, topped with some parmesan cheese, with a few slices of bread.   winter vegetable and lentil soup

Winter Vegetable and Lentil Stew

Cook Time: 2 hrs.

Makes: a big batch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced in half, rinsed, and then sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, tops included, diced
  • 4 parsnips, diced
  • 1/2 sm. buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped
  • 2 c. crushed tomatoes with juice
  • about 13 c. water or stock
  • 1 lb. lentils
  • salt and pepper
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving

 

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, on medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onions, leeks, parsnips, and buttercup squash.  Saute for about ten minutes, til the onions start looking translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients- the tomatoes, water, swiss chard (stems and all!) and lentils, and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the cider vinegar and cayenne if you think it needs a little kick.  To serve, top with grated parmesan.