The Intrigue of the Pizza: balsamic beets, sweet corn & cauliflower basil ricotta

Sometimes, you scratch your brain for ideas when you’re hungry and come up with more than just popcorn + spices. Sometimes, you really regret baking tofu for lunch the night before, because that *so* could have started a tofu scramble revolution for dinner. Sometimes, the thought of simply roasting your beets and having a side of this or that just seems silly. Most of the time, when it’s two days before payday, yet you have the time on your hands to truly cook dinner, you can’t help but hope creativity wins out over desperation and random produce.

This is one of those dinner stories. The Intrigue of the Pizza.

It begins with a mind stuck on tofu ricotta topped pizza. The chapter continues with the boiling of cauliflower,  journeys into a patch of beets, and concludes with a food processor and fresh basil.

cauliflower basil ricotta

Cauliflower Basil Ricotta. Basically, I substituted semi-boiled cauliflower and a small handful of cashews for the primary component of the tofu ricotta recipe in Veganomicon. I added more basil, nutritional yeast and a bit of miso to overpower the ‘flower.

The pizza had both creative toppings and very particular slicing.  The dough was spread with a thin layer of the cauliflower basil ricotta, and topped with balsamic roasted beet cubes, sweet corn, pine nuts, spicy vegan Italian sausage and fresh tomato. As for my fridge, it now solely holds carrots and condiments.

clean out the fridge vegan pizza

Tales from the Nut: Cashew Mushroom Alfredo

Vegan Cashew Alfredo, topped with sautéed Maitake and Porcini Mushrooms

cashew

If you’re vegan and enjoy cooking, I’m sure soaking nuts for cream sauces and vegan cheeses has already entered your culinary repertoire. If not, get on it. I’ve enjoyed my share of tofu-based cream sauces, but the silkiness of soaked nuts usually overrules thick soy.  If you’re allergic to nuts, well, I’ll cry into my cashew alfredo for you, and sympathetically relay my soul-crushing hazelnut allergy developments. It’s hard to admit, because that makes it real.

This recent cashew and mushroom alfredo was inspired by a lovely meal at a famed vegan trattoria down the street, and the never-ending container of soaked cashews in my fridge. I must be secretly hosting soft-toothed squirrels because my cats are simply not capable of such a production.

I loosely followed this recipe for Cashew Alfredo Sauce on Vegweb.  The sauce consisted of soaked cashews, water,  salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground nutmeg, and nutritional yeast. It was pureed in one of the prides of my kitchen (and oh-my-god, food blogging perks), the Vita-Mix. I didn’t have any lemons, so I omitted that, and utilized garlic and olive oil while sauteing local maitake and porcini mushrooms. I half-considered indulgently adding the cream sauce to the mushroom mixture, but my personal preference was to keep things separate.

When I nut alfredo it up again, I’ll be sure to add sautéed or roasted garlic into the actual sauce.

alongside: Balsamic Grilled Sugar Snap Peas

balsamic grilled sugar snap peas

Cashew Alfredo, served over housemade fresh pasta from Pastaworks (a few varieties are actually vegan!)

cashew

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Kind Collards & Live-Streaming Vegan Iron Chef!

Sicilian Collards with Pine Nuts and Raisins, from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet

collards

Life has been purposely hectic and these greens were hecka refreshing and simple to make! I added a splash of Braggs to my individual servings. The Kind Diet isn’t a book I’ve cooked a bunch from, but I find reading it inspirational. I wanted something different for my collards, and well, how could I go wrong with a combination of my vegan and Sicilian roots?


Required Plug for Portland’s Inaugural Vegan Iron Chef,

This Weekend!!!

It’ll be Live-Streaming at 5pm PST!

You, too, can gasp when the secret ingredient is revealed!!

You’ll be able to watch the sweat drip from our contestants’ faces, as they rush to complete 3 courses!!!

See the wild smiles of glory!!!!!

Sing along with the crowning anthem!!!!

Practically taste the last minute garnishes!!!!!!!!!

Hear the judges rave!! and rave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please RSVP to the Vegan Iron Chef UStream channel

See you Sunday!

new teese on pizza

The vegan cheese wars are fascinating, ridiculous, and full of hyped out opinions.

Every now and then, something special comes along, making its way amongst all the passable, or please-pass non-dairy alternatives. Follow Your Heart, Daiya, Teese,  and Cheezly are all brands that have gained notoriety in the vegan community in recent years.

If you’re already rolling your eyes and agreeing with the first statement, stop reading now, because I’m clearly about to wade into the waters.

If you agree, and yet, like me, you can’t resist trying each new one as soon as you can, please, continue.  It primarily boils down to sheer curiosity - Which one is the best? Which one will make your life that much easier?  Which is actually worth buying? Which one will make your pizza look real? We want to know!

Either way, I’m just posting photos of a pizza that some dear friends and I put together, my contribution being the new formula of Mozzarella Teese that some vegan bloggers were sent a sample of:

Pizza with Mozzarella Teese, Marinara by Liz, Roasted Butternut Puree by Bram, Handmade dough by Chelsea, and sliced mushrooms.

new teese

Flavor-wise, I didn’t notice a huge difference.

I admit – I’ve been a fan of Teese since it premiered in 2008. I find it similar to Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, but tastier and a tad saltier. Formerly, Teese Mozzerella used to do the pooling melt thing, but I didn’t see any of that this time.

It was overall, creamier, from the shredding to the softening.  Our dough was beginning to overcook, or else I think a few more minutes would have led to more of the sought-after ‘melting’ achievement vegans dream of every single night.

I have some more left, so I’m going to try again on another pizza, and likely, a panini.  I really like the idea of an insane pizza with a little bit of Cheelzy, the new Teese, and sauteed raab.

I hope at least one of my Daiya-happy friends chimes in with their opinion here (pssst, Chelsea)!

Over all, I’m pleased with it!  I think it’s scary to be anyone but Daiya in the vegan cheese world lately, but I’d prefer it on pizza any day.  Teese is making an effort – and perhaps they can also offer cute bags of shredded soy dairy, because I’d be all over that.

More Pizza.

new teeeeeeeeeeese

Close up:

new teese close up

Check out the slightly cooled look:

teese

Thank you, Chicago Soy Dairy!

In other vegan cheese news:

Anyone else tried it yet?

Check out the new labels coming soon here!

The Teese Challenge: Broccoli Raab, Garlic & Teese Rolls

The long-awaited (in my head) goal of recreating the classic broccoli & mozzarella pinwheels of the local pizzerias of my childhood finally came to vegan, teese-covered fruition!

This is definitely the first test batch, but overall, I’m pleased with how they came out.  The one BIG difference I’d change for the next round is to double the pizza dough.  There was a little bit of both fillings left over, and with double the dough, I’d be able to make even large, spiral rolls – aka pinwheels! I used broccoli raab, because, you know, farmers markets, the joy of raab, etc.

Broccoli Raab, Garlic & Teese Rolls

teese challenge

Here’s what you need:

  • Double batch of pizza dough, fully risen.
  • Flour for the dough.
  • One bunch of broccoli raab or small head of broccoli, roughly chopped.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of minced garlic
  • One batch of Tofu Ricotta (I used Nasoya firm with the recipe from Veganomican/Vegan with a Vengeance with the addition of a teaspoon of tahini).
  • One small tube of Mozzarella Teese, shredded.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Prepare the Tofu Ricotta and set aside.
  3. Sauté the garlic on low/medium heat in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add a dash of crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper, a generous pinch of sea salt, and the chopped broccoli raab (or broccoli).  Add a splash of water, and stir for 5-7 minutes, until well-cooked.
  5. Remove the sauté pan from heat, cover and set aside.
  6. Flour your hands and roll out the pizza dough to a large oval.  Use more flour if needed.
  7. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, or use a mister.
  8. Place large spoonful of tofu around the dough.  Use a spatula to spread out.
  9. Carefully do the same with the broccoli raab mixture.
  10. Spread 3/4 of the shredded teese log onto the other fillings.  It’s okay if it clumps a bit.
  11. Roll up like cinnamon rolls, and precisely cut with a sharp knife.  Rinse your knife between cuts if you need to.
  12. Lightly grease a 8×13 pan (you may need more than one).
  13. Place rolls in the pan(s).  If there is a more open side, place that side up.
  14. Sprinkle the rolls with the leftover (1/4 tube) of shredded teese and a drizzle or spray of olive oil.
  15. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  16. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.
    Ready to roll

roll

Teese, Teese, Teese! The eventual double-dough rolls will be prettier!

teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

These rolls are part of the official Teese Challenge.  Chicago Soy Dairy generously sent vegan food bloggers their soy cheese to cook with and document.

Photo Essay #703: BloLo Brunch & Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

One of my favorite, least-cohesive type of updates.

Over the course of this past slammin’ weekend, I saw the Mayor at a brew pub, dined with friends at Taqueria Los Gorditos: The Restaurant, tried out a new karaoke spot, baked biscotti, finished The Comeback (delightful!), sipped a couple local microbrews on the engaging, Pretzel Necklace™ NW Portland Brewpub Crawl, baked more biscotti, baked even more biscotti, brunched at the new Blossoming Lotus,  sold cookies at Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti, and had a super fantastic meeting with my friend Janessa for a secret big project we’ll be announcing later in the month. !!! I also found a bit of time to feed my cats and do one mere load of laundry, score!

Brunch at BloLo: Florentine Scramble Plate with Maple Seitan Sausage.

Brunch at BloLo

Brunch at BloLo: Sweet Pancake

Brunch at BloLo

Brunch at BloLo: Grits and Greens

Brunch at BloLo

Over all, one of the best and classiest vegan brunch experiences I’ve ever had.  Hands down the best in Portland so far.

The excitement never ends about Taqueria Los Gorditos.  It’s in my hood!

Fajita Soy Curl Burrito at Taqueria Los Gorditos

Taqueria Los Gorditos con amigos

Would you believe this is my first actual burrito from Gorditos? You should believe it, because it’s true. I hear they make their own soyrizo now.  I’m on a Soy Curl kick, myself.

Weekend Baking.

Biscotti: Savoury Italian with Sun-dried Tomato, Rosemary and Basil. Sprinkled with Coarse Sea Salt & Black Pepper.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Biscotti: Savoury Italian and Blueberry, Lemon & Basil

biscotti

Blueberry, Lemon & Basil Biscotti

biscotti

Rummy, Spiced Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

biscotti

I have social anxiety over making pretty things for bake sales, so I went with something I knew, and that was meant to be over-baked!

Onto the Bake Sale!

Insane amount of donations, insane amount of love, insane amount of purchases!  Isa’s idea was beautiful – last time I checked, the grand total for these nationwide, DIY vegan bake sales was over 32k! Portland topped 3k, alone!

For most of the day, there were 4 tables: $2, $3, $4, and COOKIE.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Some pretty scones and coconut cupcakes made their way to the cookie table.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Adorable Blackberry-Apple pie pops

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Behind the scenes, what at one point was the drop-off table

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Love

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Love – Leigh and Ann’s Spicy Haitan Creole Sauce. So good!

I had some over tempeh last night! Talk of this is all the rage on facebook.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Eek! Woof!

Love. Cupcakes.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Pie!

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Pretties.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Butterscotch Bundt !!

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Convenient Cookies!

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

A brief moment the cookie table wasn’t jam-packed.

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

Vegans rule.

Product Review: Dominex Eggplant Cutlets

Eggplant Cutlets, Red Wine Marinara, Lightly steamed Kale, Garlic Bread
Dominex

My experience with the Dominex Eggplant Cutlets featured delightful surprise after delightful surprise.

  • The first surprise was the initial email – I’m always intrigued when companies offer to send me something!!
  • The second was from recommendations.  I posted a photo on flickr and received an immediate recommendation and as I was checking out at New Seasons, both the cashier and woman in line behind me raved about them!  My curiosity rose.
  • The third delight was the product itself  - and my suspicion that the little bit of cheese pictured on the box below could pass for semi-melting vegan mozzarella…

Product Review Coming.

When Dominex, “The Eggplant People”, contacted me about sampling some of their products, I thought they were crazy.  Rather, I thought I was crazy agreeing to this, and frankly, didn’t have much hope that I’d enjoy this product.

Why?

1) It’s frozen and I’m often irrationally creeped out by frozen foods that aren’t tator tots.

2) It’s frozen, breaded eggplant – my Italian heart was pounding in fear.

3) Half of their products are vegan, half are vegetarian – and I was curious if the vegan products would live up to the exciting packaging of their vegetarian Parm Bites.

However, I was curious, enjoy a challenge & complimentary, additions to my budget – especially when they’re mass marketed as a vegan natural foods product!

Verdict: I’d buy it again, and I already have!

I liked the Dominex Eggplant Cutlets so much, I’ve already bought them again.  I’m sorry this is sounding like an infomercial, I truly get this excited about things.

Last night, I found the current $2.99/box sale at New Seasons irresistible (normally $4.99, I believe).  I’ve reviewed a lot of products, both complimentary and out-of-pocket, and this is up there with the best of the best.

Dominex also makes vegan Eggplant burgers, but I passed because I’m so delighted with these.   Plus, the novelty of an entire eggplant’s worth of cutlets in one box tops a box of 4 eggplant veggie burgers (that granted, I’ve yet to try, but packaging wise..)

The slices are breaded thicker than I’d do at home, but I can’t complain because they’re fantastic.

Crispy and golden on the outside, require little to no additional oil (if cooked on parchment paper) baked in the oven, and the insides are soft eggplant goodness.  Turn on the oven, pull out a few cutlets, throw together a side or two, and you have a nice, quick dinner.

Note: I have found I like them cooked upwards 20 minutes vs. the 12-15 advised.  Those few minutes aside, these remain an easy, convenient dinner treat I had no idea I ever wanted in my freezer before, and now I stand corrected.  They’ve saved my life (slight exaggeration) after coming home to an empty fridge after a trip more than once!

In Portland? They’re sold at New Seasons and Food Fight!