14 November 2007

Vegan Stuffed Shells For Everyone

I wish I had a beautiful photo to show you... but hubby grabbed the plate of shells and took off with it to the bedroom... apologies to all, lol.

I've been having problems with most dairy for about 4 months now - I finally tracked down another source of migraines. Dairy. Drat. Mozzarella seems to be okay, strangely enough. In talking with others who have dietary induced migraines, I've heard the same thing. If anyone would like to explain to me why mozzarella is fine but, say Cream Cheese (which is another fresh cheese) isn't, I'd love to hear it. Occasionally I'll give into temptation and still have some kind of cheese - because I just love cheese - but generally speaking I am trying to avoid dairy altogether.

Anywhoodles... This stuffed shells recipe is delicious enough to please even the most picky eater. It really tastes like traditional stuffed shells.

If you don't have any objections to dairy, forego the vegan angle and top the shells with a lot of really nice mozzarella. Do that and no-one will even know that the filling isn't dairy.

This is a great way to use up all that pulp left over from making nutmilk.

Stuffed Shells

1 1/2 c nut-pulp (instructions below)
1 c sesame seeds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c water
2 Tbsp parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced to smithereens

1 package Tinkyada large shells

6-8 cups Chunky Tomato sauce (We like Ragu Organic or Muir Glen Chunky Tomato Sauce)

Optional- 8 oz. Whole Milk Shredded Mozzarella

1. You'll need to start this meal the night before you want to eat it, by making nut-pulp.

Start by taking 2 c almonds (I reccommend blanched almonds for the cleanest, whitest look) and placing them in a large mixing bowl. Boil 2 c water and pour over the almonds. Let soak for about 1/2 hour, or until the liquid looks milky.

Pour this mixture into your blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Wet a towel or nutmilk bag and pour the liquid into it, over a bowl) squeeze out the liquid.

Add 2 more cups COLD water to the blender and return the nutpulp to the blender. Blend for another minute or so. Strain this liquid.

Repeat the cold water step until the liquid being squeezed from the nutpulp looks like whey (milky water). Set the nutmilk aside to use for something else.

Take the nutpulp, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and water, and combine them. Let soak overnight, in the fridge.

The next day, whir this mixture in the blender until it's smooth. Add the parsley and garlic and whir again, until the parsley's chopped fine.

2. Boil the shell pasta until they're al-dente. Drain.

3. Put about 3 or 4 cups of pasta sauce in the bottom of a casserole.

4. Fill the shells with the 'ricotta' mixture and place into the sauce. Top with more sauce. (if you'd like add cheese now)

5. Tope with remaining sauce and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot.


12 November 2007

Vegetarian Potstickers

Potstickers are tasty dumplings, filled with vegetables, that can be steamed or pan fried. The secret to a good potsticker is to roll the dough very thin. This recipe makes about 60 potstickers. Feel free to half the recipe, and make other fillings, for a variety.

1 tbsp oil

2 c finely minced green cabbage

1/2 c finely shredded carrot

1/2 c chopped water chestnuts

1/2 c bamboo shoots, minced

10 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste

2 Tbsp ginger, minced (available at the grocery or mince your own)

1/4 c minced green onion

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dark sesame oil

1 recipe Base for stuffed Pastas

Flour, for rolling, as well as a 3 inch round cookie cutterand potsticker press (optional)

water or egg white

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the cabbage and cook until wilted, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add the carrot, chestnuts.bamboo shoots, garlic, ginger, green onion, salt, and sesame oil and stir well to mix.

Split the pasta in half, and roll out one half at a time. Place the dough on a floured surface (I like to use a silpat) and sprinkle generously with flour. Roll out until the dough is 1/8-1/4 inch thick.

Gently fold the dough in half to mark the center crease and unfold.

Using the cookie cutter, lightly mark circles on half the dough (do not cut through the dough!

Working quickly coat the marked side of the dough with water or egg white and place a large teaspoon (up to a tablespoon) of filling in the center of each circle.

Fold the dough over and press lightly to seal around the pockets of filling.

Using the cookie cutter, cut out the circles of dough. Gather and reroll the scraps, continuing to mark and fill the dough as instructed. Set aside to dry while you make the second half of the pasta.

Alternately, cut three inch circles and use a potsticker press to fill and seal the potstickers. Use a little egg white on the edges before sealing.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place half of pot stickers in bottom of skillet; cook 3 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Add 1/2 cup water to skillet; cover and cook 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Place pot stickers on a serving platter; set aside, and keep warm.

Wipe skillet with a paper towel. Repeat procedure with remaining vegetable oil, remaining pot stickers, and remaining water.

Serve with Dipping Sauce (Below):

Dipping Sauce

6 Tbsp GF Tamari Sauce

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp hot chili oil OR sesame oil

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

Combine all ingredients and let sit for about an hour before serving.

Cincinnati-Style, 4 1/2 Alarm Chili

According to legend, Cincinnati Chili was created by a Middle-Eastern immigrant who combined his favourite spices with meat sauce, put the conglomeration on top of pasta, added traditional 'chili' accompaniments, and marketed it well.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Cincinnati Chili is a unique and fabulously delicious meal - a filling combination of sweet and savoury with a tiny 'kick' of spice.

Real 5 alarm chili is made with a copious amount of ground beef, which is cooked in the highly spiced tomato sauce, producing a thick, very fine texture. Obviously, any vegetarian recipe is going to omit the beef. I've seen plenty of recipes which skirt this difficulty by using ground soy crumbles. Since we don't do soy in almost any form (except fermented wheat free soy sauce), this presented a problem.

I decided against using my favourite eggplant/walnut 'meat' combination, because I feared the combination of the eggplant with the spices, which truly are middle-eastern (in part) would make the dish taste too much like mousakka.

I experiemented with a number of options, but in the end, I settled for making a nice 'bean-paste roux' and using it to thicken the sauce. This allowed the flavour of the spices to shine through while giving the sauce a little more 'body' and stick-to-your-ribs protein.

My family adored it, and no-one complained about the meat. If you're not opposed, feel free to stir in soy crumbles, or heck! Use Ground beef. Either way, this is the best Cincinnati chili you'll find outside of the state.

FYI: The 'alarms' in a 5 alarm chili are the following. I have it on good authority that for an authentic 5 alarm chili (or in this case 4 1/2 alarm) , one simply 'must' add the toppings in the order listed. Of course, I ignore all of this, but hey...:

2 Alarm Pasta topped with Cincinnati style chili

3 Alarm Pasta, Chili, Sharp Cheddar Cheese (and don't skimp on the cheese!)

4 Alarm Pasta, Chili, Cheese, Chopped Onions

5 Alarm Pasta, Chili, Cheese, Onions, Kidney Beans

And now, here's the recipe:

Cincinnati-Style 4 1/2 Alarm Chili

2c cooked kidney beans, divided
1 c oil
2/3 c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
1 1/2 c minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1 15oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 c water

Cooked pasta
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
kidney beans

In a blender, combine the 2c kidney beans and flour and blend til smooth.

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the bean paste and cook, stirring, until the bean paste absorbs most of the liquid and begins to thicken. You'll need to scrape the bottom of the pan continuously.

Add the rest of the seasonings, ending with the water. Simmer, uncovered, for at least an hour or up to three hours.

Serve on top of pasta, with toppings, if desired.

05 November 2007

I have been sooooooo sick

Oh my word.

I've been down and out for at least three weeks now, so I'm biting the bullet and going to the doctor.

No idea what's wrong with me.

I'll keep you posted.