Veganizing Leftover Mashed Potato & Cheese Biscuits

Best Leftovers Ever?

Yeah, you can correctly assume that this leftover-incorporation project was an experiment gone oh, so, tender and right. Being that J. Legume and I were opting for something different this past Thanksgiving, we decided to make what turned out to … Continue reading

Obsessing over cherries and making my own liqueurs…

Homemade Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Updated with prettier pictures of the finished projects & much blushing to see this included on the PPK 100 for 2012! If you’re looking to make your own syrups for drinks, per #52, check out my Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime … Continue reading

Heartichoke: The Perfect Lychee Martini

Photo by Jen

‘Perfect’ is such a temperamental, evolving term, and I certainly wouldn’t be using it if my sister didn’t keep lychee juice in her fridge for her precious lychee martinis. Our stop into Verlaine on the lower east side, years ago, for … Continue reading

The night the pea shoots came to dinner

The night the pea shoots came to dinner was a very good night, indeed.

Pea shoots are wonderful. The flavor is just so damn…fresh. I picked up a bunch from my weekly trip the farmers market last weekend, and while my first thought was to serve them fresh with lemon juice on top of beet burgers, I ended up sauteing them, yet again, and the result was lovely.

It was one of those casual, homemade meals, that I swear, can make your evening. It had been some times since I had made pasta – let alone, traditional (and beloved) white pasta – and on top of that, it was a clean-out-the-fridge meal that utilized two farmers market purchases: the sun-dried tomatoes I picked up in Eugene last month, and the aforementioned pea shoots. Inspiration, am I right?

Here’s the gist:

Saute four cloves of minced garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, add 3 ounces of sun-dried (truly dried) tomatoes, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of pepper – I used freshly ground white. Add enough white wine to cover and bring to a boil. Stir in a teaspoon of white miso, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, half a tablespoon of Earth Balance, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced. Had it been two months ahead, I would have thrown in some cherry tomatoes.

Boil water for pasta – I used capellini, which cooks in under 3 minutes. Immediately after you put the pasta in to cook, saute 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic in a little bit of olive oil in a separate pan, and stir in washed pea shoots. I find the long pieces classier, for whatever reason, and enjoy that delusion, but feel free to cut them.  Add a splash of water or white wine or broth, stir, and cover until wilted. At this point, your pasta is likely done, so drain it, toss it with the sauce as desired, and plate over wilted pea shoots, making sure to include the garlic. I served this dish with nooch on the side, but didn’t find it calling for any.  What I did enjoy was a chilled glass of white, of course.

Let’s do this.

The final plate was garnished with nothing more than fresh, flat-leaf parsley.

organic pea shoots from Portland, organic sun-dried tomatoes from Eugene.

It’s true. Get Sconed! <3 extra virgin olive oil.

Totsgiving Plans & Sweet Potato Pie Casserole

Fun fact: Tator Tots have Oregon pride. Photo credit: Legendsrevealed.com

The past few years have seen me making one or two dishes for Thanskgiving day vegan potlucks, where reclaiming the holiday with close friends with similar values and cruelty-free cuisine really does make it one of the better days of the year.

This year, my possible hosting of my baby brother and has turned into a definitive visit (he’s here!) from my now early-twentysomething year old sibling, and paired with the company of a few close friends who decided that spending the holiday together was better than any other affair, well, there’s a warm and fuzzy week unfolding, and one hell of a theme. Surely, my friends are attending thanks to the guaranteed creativity and awesomeness of our theme: Totsgiving. If only it could bring one Panda Cookie to town…..

Our tentative menu is set to feature:

  • tator tot, greens & mushroom stuffed seitan roulade
  • tator tot-topped shepherd’s pie
  • three corn casserole [tots exempt due to tradition]
  • dinner rolls [from Sweetpea, so tots exempt]
  • pumpkin pie [ditto, cause my friend will be coming from work]
  • apple tator tot crisp
  • chorizo tot strudel [I don't know where my friend is going with this one, but I'm freaking intrigued]
  • smokey & spiced cranberry bbq sauce [clearly, for the tots]
  • gravy [ditto]
  • roasted green beans with balsamic & garlic [to mix things up]
  • sweet potato pie casserole [tots exempt due to tradition]
Who needs a mac & cheese & tot casserole when you have this line up?
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Sweet Potato Pie Casserole, circa 2006.

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Now, It’s been a few years since I’ve broken out the most sentimental dish in my holiday repertoire: my mom’s sweet potato pie casserole, and I was nervous my brother wouldn’t really remember, but Rick was smiling and stoked. I’ve been making it and quietly let my tears fall into the sweet filling in her memory since the Thanksgiving after she passed in 2005, but I think it’s likely he hasn’t experienced it since he was oh, 10. It was always my favorite dish, and the smell is pure nostalgia.  The original recipe was cut out of an edition of New York Newsday from the 1980s, faded with time, and called for eggs, milk and heaps of butter. I used to sub in some soy yogurt or cornstarch for the eggy factor, but there’s really no need. What I’m saying is…Earth Balance to the rescue.
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I’ve posted the recipe before in the past, but it’s always a mess (again, I’m probably crying and all that jazz) and it hasn’t been since I relocated this site (and learned how type complete sentences, or so I hope), and follows below.
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Sweet Potato* Pie Casserole
Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 medium sized yams
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk, such as soy or almond (I’d recommend against coconut, because this is so decadent as is)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup organic cane juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of bourbon
Topping Ingredients:
Note: I’ve been known to double this for extreme sweet potato pie, and always add more pecans.
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped (but not super crumbled) pecans
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4-6 tablespoons of melted earth balance
  • optional: 1 cup of additional whole pecans

Directions:

  1. Wash and peel the yams, boil for 25-30 minutes in a large pot of water and drain once incredibly pierceable with a fork.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a casserole dish.
  3. Add the nondairy milk, Earth Balance, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and maple syrup or bourbon, if using, and incorporate. Continue mashing if needed and spoon into casserole dish.
  4. Stir the topping ingredients together, and distribute over the casserole. Consider making a design with whole pecans first, and then sprinkling on the sweetened topping.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden. If you notice the nuts browning, carefully lay a piece of foil on top for the remainder of baking.
  6. Spoon & enjoy!
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Double Sweet Potato Pie Casserole, circa 2007. Pre-baked.

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I’ve also been throwing out the idea of adding a vegan version of this cocktail into our plans, however, I’m not a fan of vomit. We’ll stick to canned beer, water, and perhaps, cranberry old-fashioneds.

*Yam, baby, yam. The recipe was printed in New York, okay?

Salt Spring Inspired Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup

Break out your rain boots, adorn your favorite hoodie and repeat after me: it’s officially soup weather.

Roasted cherry tomato soup, garnished with fresh basil and black pepper

It seems like only yesterday, but I earned some real Pacific Northwest points with a British Columbian adventure back in May. It was my first ever visit to Canada, at all, and I’m truly an idiot for waiting so long. Not as idiotic as my brother not realizing Canada stretched across the entire United States, but I feel foolish for waiting nearly three decades to cross those country lines. Looking back, my family didn’t take epic road trips, and the party bus from my college in Boston to Montreal seemed just that…a ridiculous party bus. I’ve re-caught the travel bug this past year, have my mind set on Thailand and Laos this winter, and now that I have a Canadian BFF and a little crush on a French Canadian waiter at a certain vegan restaurant in Vancouver (J’espère qu’il la lecture de ce parce que Vancouver est la première VÉGÉTALIEN Prom approche!), I plan on not departing the Amtrak train in Seattle, if you catch my drift.

While I was up north, I spent time in Vancouver, Victoria and on Salt Spring Island. I’ll save more thoughts and photos for the day I may actually post about my adventure up north™ and have the determination to scroll through that many pages on Flickr. My short stay on Salt Spring Island, where Gabrielle, her partner, and the small, sneaky bundle of wonder known as Buhbah, reside, started with a specially prepared vegan dinner at Market Place Cafe. This lovely meal included a rich tomato soup drizzled with olive oil that’s lingered on my mind since the first spoonful. Gabrielle and I were nerding out and talking tomato soup recently, and after hearing her spicy plan and having roasted a ton of cherry tomatoes that were impatiently waiting for their moment, all by their lonesome in my refrigerator, it was time for delayed inspiration.

Something of a recipe tale. To begin, I sautéed minced shallot, a diced red bell pepper and Hungarian wax pepper in a bit of coconut oil, added some fresh black pepper, sea salt, marjoram, cayenne and oregano, and cooked until soft. After deglazing the pan with the last of my Salt Spring Millotage (can you say bonus points?), I added the two pints’ worth of cherry tomatoes I had previously roasted with garlic, extra virgin olive oil & sea salt, along with two cups of vegetable broth, one cup of water, brought this to a boil, and then simmered, covered, for just under an hour. I threw in a handful of fresh basil, since I can’t resist buying basil or tomatoes whenever I see them at the market, carefully pureed the mixture in my Vita-Mix, and transferred to a saucepan. Minutes later,  I had my first bowl of those sweet, deep flavors, garnished with additional basil and freshly ground black pepper.

The view from the Salt Spring Winery - also my first ever wine tasting experience!

Pasta at Heart

White pasta fans, you’re in luck.

I’ve spent much of the past 2 days on the phone with my sister, who just returned from a 3 week vacation in Italy. She spent her days working on small farms and her evenings sipping red wine. I’m so proud, and my kitchen has been thinking of her as I recall the brief Sicilian wanderings of my early 20s.

Cashew miso alfredo over fusillata casarecci with sauteed morels and fresh parsley.

This isn’t the first nut-based alfredo that’s come my way, and barring any further, emerging allergies, won’t the be the last. And I just can’t put into words how stellar and succulent the Earth Balance sautéed morels were with this. Wait.

Cashew Miso Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2-3 cloves worth of sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch fresh thyme
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon white miso (less can be more – same goes for the garlic)
  • salt & pepper (preferably white), to taste
  • fresh parsley
Directions:
  1. Saute the sliced garlic in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat, and carefully add to blender, along with the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the parsley.
  3. Gently reheat in a small saucepan, and whisk in more water if needed.
  4. Serve over pasta or other entrée, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and additional pepper, if desired.
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Next up, a vibrant edition in the never-ending, clean-out-the-fridge series. It’s a take on this recipe, which was inspired by the smokey mac at Bang Bang Cafe in Seattle. I left out the (pointless – I was simply out of oil?!) bit of packaged vegan cheese this time around, and skipping the cashews, incorporated both roasted red peppers and coconut milk into the pureed sauce.

Smokey Roasted Red Pepper and Coconut Mac & Cheeze

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Tomatoes are having a slow start this summer. Sadness. I finally spotted some at the Montavilla Farmers Market  a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve grabbed a pint at every market since then. Fast forward a couple of more weeks, and I’m impatiently expecting true sweetness!

Orrechiete with sautéed red and sungold cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, purple and roasted garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, crushed red pepper and fresh black pepper. Served with balsamic roasted green beans, with a pinch of brown sugar. The pasta dish was inspired by a similar meal from a downtown food cart last week.

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu, Peanuts & Garlic Scapes

local garlic scapes have arrived.

It’s time for my warm weather motto: I may hate the heat, but I heart farmers markets. I also heart venturing into other neighborhoods and secretly pretending that I live in them. The day will come that I move out of my dear Division St. apartment. That day could bring me further-out southeast into a neighborhood I have strong feelings for – Lents. I’m a frequent visitor to the farmers market, particularly come late July, because the hot pepper prices are unreal. I took my first trip of the season to the market opener on Sunday, and while I was ‘out there’, I stopped by J.C. Rice Noodle for a couple pounds of their fresh namesake, fresh tofu, and continued onto Fubonn for randomness. Once home, I quickly threw together something of a Pad Kee Mow with saucey, soft tofu and roasted peanuts taking the place of the scrambled eggs.

There is nothing quite like the combination of fresh rice noodles you pull apart with your hands, salty soy sauce, hot chiles and fresh yet sweet Thai basil. What a freaking thrill to semi-confidently create things like this (without the worries of fishy sauces) at home. WHAT A FREAKING THRILL.

holy.basil.

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu and Peanuts

Serves 3-4

Note: This sauce is based on my own taste buds of the moment. If you like things sweeter/saltier/spicier, do it. I’ll be listing the bolded ingredients in rounds, as I started mixing and cooking like so…

Round 1 of Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package soft, water packed tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry/mushroom sauce, like this 
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce, like this
  • 1 small handful roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste, like so
  • dash of black sesame oil
  • pinch turmeric
  • pinch black salt
  • fresh lime juice, to taste

Mash together the tofu and above ingredients with a fork in a medium or large bowl. Leave some chunks of tofu. Set aside.

Round 2 

  • 1.5 cups chopped vegetables: I went with swiss chard, daikon, carrots, asparagus and zucchini
  • 1-2 cups of vegan protein of choice: tempeh cubes, tofu strips, seitan, or tofu sheet knots
  • Cooking oil of choice

Tofu Sheet Knots: because sometimes you need to buy things out of the freezer at Fubonn with your eyes closed

If using a frozen protein, make sure to defrost. Pan fry your protein in 1/2 tablespoon oil on medium heat for 5 minutes, turning over to reach a golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.

Heat the same pan and add more oil if needed (I didn’t). Add your vegetables and stir fry for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Add a tiny splash of vegetable broth or white wine if vegetables begin to stick. You want to keep your vegetables vibrant – do not over cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan you keep on using, sauté the following:

  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped (whatever, use the top!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1-3 minced Thai chiles – stick to 1 if you’re unsure and grab the Sriracha later!
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil

Tightly sealed Thai chiles, clearly not from the farmers market

Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the tofu mixture and bring to a boil.

It'll look like this mess.

Once boiling, lower heat and cook until some sauce is absorbed, about 2-4 minutes. Quickly add cooked noodles (Note: if using fresh noodles, rinse or immerse in cool water first) for 2-4 servings, vegetables, vegan protein, and a handful of fresh Thai holy basil.
Serve quickly, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, more Thai basil, roasted peanuts & lime wedges.

If you're awesome, you'll garnish it with a curled scape.

behold, the casual Lents International Farmers Market

Anatomy of a Grocery Trip, from Fubonn: Thai holy basil,ginger,bean sprouts,limes,Thai chilis,Tacoma soft tofu,coconut milk,young coconut juice,lychee juice,mango nectar,Ota soy nectar,fried seitan,frozen tofu knots,tamari,vermicelli noodles,coconut cookies,roasted seaweed snacks,roasted green tea,vegetarian mushroom stir fry sauce