Hump Day Grilled Cheese Glory

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VeganMoFo Day Four> Yeah, it’s a great day when you don’t have to depend on a (pricey!) store-bought vegan cheese alternative. It’s all about the flavor and purpose: bringing the bread together with a bit of melt, if you dare. Continue reading

Smokey Baked Mac & Cheese and inspiration from Bang Bang Cafe in Seattle, WA

Smokey Mac & Cheese, inspired by Bang Bang Cafe

This recipe marked the first time I’d turned to VegWeb for guidance in years. The veg recipe directory and LiveJournal’s vegan cooking communities were my learn-as-you-go and read-the-comments because you can only-sorta-trust-the-internet tip toes into the vegan culinary world back in the early 2000s. It’s like I can recall mildly freaking out when the number of nutritional yeast sauce recipes rose above 10. After our time apart, I admit that I really enjoyed seeing that most of the recipes I perused were still called “The Best Ever” “The Very Best Ever” “Mom’s Best” “The Best in the World!!!!”, etc. I like vegan enthusiasm.

To get to the point, I just decided to chance it on the internet, test my tastebuds and emulate the memorable vegan mac & cheese my friend Chelsea ordered at Bang Bang Cafe at Seattle this past weekend. I stole a couple of bites, and I was a little jealous that I hadn’t ordered their smokey vegan mac for breakfast, too!  I thought it was so good that it must contain vegan cheese, and was surprised to learn that it was tofu and nutritional yeast based! Swell.

Back to Bang Bang, where I fed my bourbon-induced mild hangover a more wholesome bean and roasted veggie filled burrito. When I returned, however, I had a potluck meeting to attend to the next day and after browsing my limited ingredients and finding a box of whole wheat shells, knew it was time to eye my 2 jars of Spanish smoked sweet paprika, Hungarian hot paprika, Hungarian half sweet paprika, Alder smoked salt and my good buddy, the giganto container of nutritional yeast flakes. The finished result didn’t seem to fit everyone’s tastes – which is how vegan mac & cheese always seems to work – but more than a couple folks seemed obsessed and another friend had me write down the recipe, so here we go. Dare I say I had fun making a mac & cheese recipe where you simply had to puree the cheesy sauce ingredients..because, I did.

Smokey Baked Mac & Cheese, adapted from Best Vegan Mac and Cheese in the entire world…seriously, as posted on VegWeb.com. I halved the recipe and made a few changes based on what I was aiming for and had on hand.Go, go smokey, creamy mac!

Ingredients:

  •    3/4 lb whole wheat pasta or rice pasta, preferably with ridges

Cheesy sauce

  •     1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I used a combination of So Delicious coconut milk beverage and soy milk)
  •     3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  •     1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine
  •     1/2 cup water
  •     2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  •     1/2 cup soaked and drained raw cashews
  •     1 clove of garlic
  •     1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch hot paprika
  •     generous pinch of salt (add more to taste after blending sauce)
  •     1 tablespoon mustard (I used TJ’s spicy sweet mustard)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Additional: 
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Teese cheddar sauce)
  • breadcrumbs
  • pinch of additional paprika and cayenne
  • olive oil mister/spray
  • smoked salt

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease a small casserole dish. Boil the water and cook pasta 1 minute less than instructed. Drain and add to your casserole dish. You’ll want at least a couple inches of room to be able to add the cheesy sauce.

2. Puree the cheesy sauce ingredients  in a blender until smooth and adjust the seasonings to taste. Carefully stir into the cheesy sauce and vegan cheese, if using.

3. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly on top, followed by the smoked salt and additional paprika and cayenne, if using. Lightly spray with oil. Bake until the breadcrumbs looks golden, 15-20 minutes. Broil an additional 5 minutes, if desired.

Serve with steamed greens, unless you’re nuts.

Bang Bang's Vegan Mac & Cheese

The aforementioned vegan breakfast burrito with red chile sauce

Alicia's Bang Bang burrito with red & green chile sauces

Melissa went with a classic Mighty-O Donut

A Day in the Life: My Favorite Vegan Mac & Cheese remains the New Farm

This falls into my MoFo theme as an immediate result of yesterday’s post and the failed intention to make some for dinner last night. I did my part, supported my own economy, and did that leftovers thing.

New Farm Style Comforty Gluten Free Mac & Cheeze

I’ve been posting variations on the classic, but very, very rich New Farm Mac & Cheese for a long time. It’s one of those classic cookbooks that vegans don’t seem to mention anymore, and simply a recipe that I’ve added to – It’s by no means mine. Long live New Farm! My favorite variation is below. It’s gluten-free and adds a tint of green with chopped broccoli into the mix. I feel as though the gluten-free spirals hold up best after baking, and aren’t as heavy, or soggy, come leftover time. I’ve updated the recipe to have the right noodle ratio!

New Farm-Style, Comforty, Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

Makes: 4-6 servings (easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces.of uncooked rice spirals
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan margarine
  • 2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic
    • Or, 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ cup chickpea flour, or other gluten-free flour(s)
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
    • Nut milks are encouraged for creaminess
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Generous dash of freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon or hot or sweet paprika (use common sense with your tastebuds here)
  • 2 tablespoons of wheat-free tamari
    • Or, if gluten-free is not a requirement, soy sauce or shoyu, etc.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups of nutritional yeast

Consider:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free breadcrumbs for topping
    • Or, a combination of ground nuts and breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of rinsed and chopped broccoli
  • ¼ cup vegan pesto
  • 1 tablespoon miso – I just may find it impossible to make noochy dishes without it
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini – for that vegan ‘aged’ taste
  • Cajun style: add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon of Cajun spices, 1-2 tablespoons of hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke when you add the liquids.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350Fº. Lightly grease an 8×8 casserole dish.
  2. Boil and drain the noodles – save water for the sauce, if you’re that clever. Toss with a very small amount of oil or margarine. You know the drill – and you can easily do this as you cook the sauce, as well.
  3. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic, stir, and cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  4. Beat in the flour with a whisk, making a roux. Stir for one minute. Lower the heat if needed. It may clump, and that’s okay, just proceed quickly to the next step and don’t burn anything!
  5. Stir in the liquids, nutritional yeast, sea salt, tamari, garlic powder if using, turmeric, pepper, paprika, optional ingredients, and any other spices you want (Cajun spices, onion powder, oregano, thyme, chili powder, whatever).
  6. Stir for another minute or two until the sauce starts to thicken. Whisk in the oil and the nutritional yeast.
  7. Add at least half of the sauce to your cooked noodles and broccoli*, if using, in the casserole dish. Carefully spread in the rest of the sauce, optional toppings, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden (or, however you interpret orange to brown…)
  8. Broil for an additional 5 minutes, if desired.
  9. Cool for at least 10 minutes, and serve.
*Broccoli note: I don’t precook mine, but you can add it to the last couple minutes of boiling time, if you’re so inclined.
Karla or anyone else – if I’m utterly crazy with this pasta:sauce ratio, please let me know! We’ll boil water together and stuff.

Yummmmmm Saucccccccccce

It’s a rite of passage for every Oregon-based food blogger: the reproducing of the Yumm sauce.

For those not in the loop, Cafe Yumm! is a chain of eateries based in Eugene, OR that feature bowls topped with their signature Yumm sauce. You can also buy the rather pricey sauce in containers at natural type stores around the metro area, sold in Original, Roasted Garlic & Chipotle varieties.

Portland had its first Cafe Yumm! open in the downtown PSU area this summer and I’ve gone a couple times so far. Cafe Yumm offers what you want in a bowl and they’re famous for compiling it: wholesome beans, grains,  assorted toppings & that memorable sauce.

Now, I have no problem shelling out my lunch money for regular Whole Bowl cart visits, and  I’ll return to Cafe Yumm, but something hasn’t been as fresh or colorful in the to-go boxes or wait at this new Cafe Yumm. I do believe I had a  side of tofu cubes that was… microwaved…what? Even stranger in contrast to how  great their glazed tempeh is.  Regardless, that sauce sure sticks and it’s about time I made it at home, for way less money, for my own grain + beans + vegetables + sauce arrangements.  So, I did. And I’m content.

Red Quinoa with balsamic roasted cremini mushrooms, mini eggplant, carrots, cherry tomatoes, summer squash and simmered pocha beans.

The not-so-secret ingredients that make it soooo yum? Nuts, beans, lots of lemon juice, nutritional yeast and curry powder. My batch of sauce was based on my available ingredients, yearnin’ for spicy chipotles and the tang of a Whole Bowl (yes, I know rumor is that they just ripped off the yumm recipe, but like I can’t name 10 other bowls with sauce off the top of my head anyway! there’s room for delicious bowl competition!) Dear Cafe Yumm, this post was written with nothing but adoration for bowls.

Imitation Chipotle Yummmmmmm-Style Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (from canned chipotles)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • Dash dried basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1.  Puree everything in a blender.

2.  Scrape down side sand add more liquid if necessary.

3.  Season to taste.

4.  Sauce it up.

More Recipes & Yumm fanaticism online:

Check out the ‘original’ ‘imitation’ links above. Again, my batch was based on what I had on hand and I am very happy with the results – but there are clear differences in other recipes online, as well as many notes on how to achieve yumm-style authenticity in their comments.

from Cafe Yumm at PSU

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

double dippin’: the party

Roughly 1/10th of total dips that arrived at Double Dippin’

Fueling my dorky, themed party planning obsession, I hosted a dip-themed potluck and party last weekend. Double Dippin’: The Party* featured 4 tables of dips: Sweet, Savoury, Miscellaneous, No Holds Barred, and Michele performing the grand & appetizing Vegan Mozzarella Stick-Off in the kitchen.

The record was successfully broken for just how many people can fit into my apartment, surely set high for the number of dips through the door, special dietary needs were met (vegans are so nice!), my cats hid, dip rules were posted, various research was displayed, and I had an opportunity to make a giant pot of beer cheese sauce, among other dippy dishes. Dipshit was officially an endearing term, dip creativity and classicism was off the hook, and I just can’t seem to get this out of my head.

As for the actual food, contributions ranged from traditional pesto to spicy peanut sauce to chili to Russian beet dip to cashew green bean to saucey bourbon to spiced cheesecake to sweet chocolate frosting, and beyond. Beyond!

Smokey Beer Cheese

beer cheese

How To: Smokey Beer Cheese. Follow the Cheesy Sauce recipe from Veganomicon.  Add a diced poblano pepper with the garlic (up the garlic!). After you add the nooch and vegetable broth, throw in cumin, hot paprika, tahini, hot sauce, a bottle of cherished, local microbrew, and a good dash of liquid smoke.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes before making your gluten-fanatic guests happy.

Green Tea, Shallot & Cream Cheese, modified from Eat Tea

Green Tea, Caper & Shallot Cream Cheese

I was more wild about the idea of this over the finished product, but it was worth a shot. And look! garnish!

Raw Banana Coconut Almond Dip

raw banana almond dip

On one hand, sampling this dip made me realize I’m non-officially, but likely, allergic to freaking almonds. On the other, it went over well! It consists of pureed raw almonds, unsweetened coconut and banana. Once again, a pat on the back to the Vita-Mix.

Salt-Free Black Bean, Lemon & Garlic Dip

Picture 005

This was another contribution for the Eat to Live crowd. One of those few ingredient recipes from the internets. It was less creamy than I’d like, but I naturally blame myself, because I forgot the tahini. However, who cares about anything else when there’s a nice garnish?

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip with Nayonaise

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So creamy! I almost comprehend artichokes now.

Jeff’s Spicy Peanut Sauce

jeff's satay sauce

My friends Lucas and Jeff combined powers to offer a damn fine spread of fried tofu, peanut sauce and tofufffalo style hot sauce.

The Sweet table

Lauren plates my ode to our friend Bram – Peanut Butter Coconut Apple Pie (dip).

lauren at the sweets table

The Bar – featuring homemade Mixed Berry, Raspberry and Lavender Mango syrups. Plenty of makings for both cocktails and mocktails. My friend Emily contributed homemade Raspberry Ginger Shrub that was amazing!

The rest of the refreshments – including Michele’s sparkling punch

This was posted above the No-Holds-Barred dip-as-you-will tator tots & dips table

Picture 136

Clearly the party was an ode to this.

No-Holds-Barred Table – early in the evening

Live action at the No-Holds-Barred table. I spy a spicy sesame cornmeal encrusted tofu dipper at the muffin tray, and churros and chocolate sauce in the back.

Jack & Simon: Bros and their tots – bonus special guest appearance by Portland’s own Pretzel Necklace!

The Savoury table at the pre-party

Stage 1: Dips

*Name Credit belongs to Lucas DeShazer. No surprise.

I didn’t take as many photos as I’d like, perhaps more of the dishes to come…

Next up in themed events coming this way I’m counting down to?  The Vegan Prom of Tomorrow and the second annual Fakin’ Fest!

Adventures with Daiya: Macaroni & Cheese

Vegan or not, who can deny this mac and cheese looks realistic?

I spy melting!

mac

Somewhere out there, a vegan couple is considering giving their newborn the middle name “Daiya”. Somewhere in Portland, I’ve come to accept and appreciate Daiya more than ever before.

The latest test? Adventuring into Macaroni & Cheese territory.

Vegan-traditionally, I prefer my noodles coated with a homemade nutritional yeast sauce started with a roux.  I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of Daiya experiences this past year, and I’ve been holding out for a real winner. With that, these Shells & Cheese with Daiya are now in the lead.

This vegan version is based on an adaptation from Serious Eats of Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics.

Macaroni and Cheese with Daiya 101

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 4 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
  • ½ cup flour (I used chickpea)
  • 1 clove grated or minced garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse salt
  • generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8th teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups of Cheddar Daiya (1 package)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 pound of pasta, such as shells, cooked al dente.
  • ¼-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons additional vegan cheese (homemade or packaged), or tahini
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon miso

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
  2. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the garlic and stir frequently, cooking an additional 1-2 minutes. Quickly whisk in the flour.
  3. Stir in the milk and cook until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Whisk frequently.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from heat and stir in the spices, salt, pepper, Daiya, nutritional yeast, and any additional ingredients.
  5. Carefully pour the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  6. Even more carefully, pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Cover with breadcrumbs, as desired.
  7. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.
  8. Optional: broil an additional 3-5 minutes for a crispier top layer.
  9. Let cool just a bit, and serve. And eat.

Consider: Adding chopped green vegetables to the last few minutes of pasta cooking, and consequently, into your mac.

Serves: A lot! I would recommend halving the recipe if you’re feeding 1-2 and don’t want leftovers for days.

Saucin’ and whiskin’

sauce

The melt: Daiya’s super duper melt remains revolutionary and the most impressive (and therefore, grossest?) on the market. I like to picture of a team of Susie-esque mad vegan scientists hard at work in Canada furthering their developments, and occasionally taking a snack break with Tings.

The taste: As my friend Maeve has so elegantly stated, it’s like Velveeta went vegan. Say what you will.

The verdict: I wouldn’t make this again. Using shredded Daiya felt like cheating, and I just don’t love the taste. Appreciate, sure. Like enough, maybe. However, it was fun adventure, and my mind was boggled at how the Daiya melted and stretched and sauced!

Shells and Cheese with Daiya 101

mac

Veganized Dharma Ration: Macaroni & Cheese Supper

Warning: Simply put – don’t read this if you’re just starting LOST.

It’s a wonder what one can do with their emergency powdered soymilk and stash of nutritional yeast. I’m glad I always travel prepared, just in case my fate is to crash on a mysterious island that cures my woes and never stops testing me.

Dharma Macaroni & Cheese Supper (vegan style)

Sorry, the lighting in this hatch sucks!

This is actually the Lower Fat New Farm Mac & Cheeze, my favorite vegan mac, made with whole wheat shells. I’ve been joking with my fellow LOST fanatic friend, Joanna, that I’m going to make one LOST meal a week during the final season.  I’m already a week behind, but I think Mr. Cluck’s Outback Combo Seitan may have to be next.