29 April 2008

COMING SOON: Vegan, Raw Girl Scout Cookies

like I said... coming soon. Hubby's calling me to bed *eyebrows*

Vegetarian Paella

Rice commodities are rising, and are expected to continue to rise, so I thought I'd take a moment and make this classic dish before prices went into the stratosphere.

Paella comes from Spain, originally, taking its name from the Valencian word for 'frying pan' - it's usually made from vegetables, seafood, and meat, and liberally dosed with saffron and olive oil.

I was short on saffron tonight, so as you can see... I left it out.

It's usually cooked so that all the liquid is absorbed and the bottom forms this fantastic crust - my favourite part - but I was also short on time, and I thought that The Carnivore would react better to a 'stoup' - as Rachael Ray calls it - than a dryer consistency (which he usually refers to as 'a side dish').

Turns out he prefers to add a little ground beef to his paella - guess it's still a side dish - but the kids and I were loving it.

Here's the recipe for your perusal. Feel free to add saffron. Oh, and if you have time, let the rice completely absorb and form that crust. You won't regret it.

Vegetarian Paella

1/4 cup of olive oil

5 cloves minced garlic

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups rice

1 can crushed tomatoes 9or 4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped and a generous 2-3 threads of saffron)

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

2 c asparagus, cut into small pieces

1 cup green peas

1 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is tender and translucent. At the same time, heat the broth in a separate pan until simmering.

Pour the rice into the pan and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers and tomatoes and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the simmering vegetable broth and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes or until almost tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the peas and asparagus.

Squeeze the lemon over the rice. Continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

Serve the paella straight from the pan, garnished with lemon wedges.

It's Truly Vegan! Asparagus Linguini Alfredo

After four long years of waiting, our first crop of asparagus was finally ready to harvest - asparagus, you may not know, takes so many years to establish that it almost makes one wonder if it's worth it to plant in the first place.

Trust me - it is.

After four long... (did I say long? I meant loooooooooonnnnnnnng) years of cultivating the plants, you'll begin to harvest asparagus - lots of it. And you'll keep harvesting this (free!) veggie for the next twenty years. More if you're willing to do the back-breaking labour of splitting the roots.

I love asparagus. Every which way. In lemon sauce, steamed, boiled, baked, fried in tempura - I don't care how it's done. I love it.

I sat there wondering what on earth to do with this first harvest, and it hit me -- alfredo!
Rich and creamy, ultra dreamy loaded with fat and calories - who doesn't love the buttery, cheesy goodness of a real alfredo sauce?

Well, vegans for one.

Or those with dairy intolerances. What's a gal to do?

I came up with this lovely alternative for alfredo, and it passed with everyone - even The Carnivore. Everyone assumed it was the normal dairy version.

Traditional alfredo is pretty straightforward. Extremely high-fat-content butter (European style) is warmed and melted with plenty of high-quality Parmesan, that's thinned with just a bit of pasta cooking water. The starch in the pasta water gives a certain body to the sauce that would otherwise be lacking.

In the United States, things get a little more complicated. The lack of high quality butter (most of our butter has too high a water content to work) and parm makes it difficult for the average homemaker to make a good sauce. Also problematic - people tend to use too high of a heat or the wrong proportion of ingredients - and they end up with a gloppy-oily mess or something tasteless.

Because of this, most restaurants (and home recipes) use a flour-thickened cream or milk-based white sauce into which plenty of parmesean has been melted. Garlic and cayenne pepper are the secret ingredients of the most popular restaurants' alfredos.

People tend to crave what they know, and assuming people have rarely if ever had a traditional alfredo (I have...wow! Amazing), I went for the more commonly available taste and texture.

Macadamia nuts are the secret here for texture - They're superstars in the vegan world and great for subbing for dairy cream.

A combination of vegan 'cheeze' fave nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, salt and garlic (and a tiny pinch of cayenne) takes care of the taste. One thing I advise - I've gone a little light on the salt. Traditionally Parmesan adds a very salty dimension to food, and your taste buds may insist on more salt. Feel free to add it at the end, by sprinkling over the plate.

Better Batter Flour adds body, and olive oil adds the final touch of fattiness to the dish and helps round out the flavour.

Asparagus Linguini Alfredo

1 pound Thai Kitchen Linguini style Rice Noodles
2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces
3 tbsp olive oil

2 c water
1/4 c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour (optional, for thinner sauce, omit)
1 1/2 c macadamia nuts
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c nutritional yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/16-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c olive oil

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a blender, combine water, flour, mac nuts, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Blend until completely smooth.

In a saucepan saute asparagus with 1/4 c olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add alfredo sauce and heat through. Stir in olive oil. Stir in hot noodles and serve.

Bengali Inspired Spinach Curry

I love Indian food - the blend of spices, the comfort-food textures - it's my idea of heaven. Unfortunately The Carnivore disagrees. To him Indian food is just so much weirdness rolled into one - and the fact that there's about zero chance of getting any kind of meat with the meal tends to put him in a 'lovely' frame of mind.

Because of that, I rarely make Indian food -- it's not worth the dirty looks.

So you can imagine my utter joy when my oldest son (whose turn it was to pick dinner) asked for ingredients that really and truly couldn't combine into anything other than... INDIAN FOOD!

This meal is really more of a fusion food than truly authentic Indian Food - I've been having massive cravings for black beans and spinach in some sort of combination (don't ask), so I had to tweak the original Bengali recipe a bit to make flavours mesh.

Contrary to popular belief, curries don't have to have loads of tumeric or (gasp) curry powder to work. Curry, according to a childhood friend of mine, is essentially any kind of a vegetable stew.

This particular curry is sweet and spicy, creamy and fresh, and blends well with the tumeric scented pilaf that I made as a side dish, using none other than our beloved Seamaiden's rice recipe as inspiration. It also happens to be super high in protein and fiber.


Bengali Inspired Spinach Curry

1/4 c olive oil
1/3 c raw sugar
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste

4 oz diced green chilis
1 onion, diced
2 pounds frozen spinach, thawed
2/3 c slivered almonds
1 c dehydrated coconut
4 c cooked black beans (1 can)
1/4 c water

In a large pan, saute the oil, sugar, mustard seeds, cumin, sea salt , and tomato paste until the sugar and tomato paste begin to caramelize.

Add the chilis and stir well. add the onions and saute till soft. Add the spinach, almonds, coconut, beans, and water, and simmer until heated through.

Serve with pilaf and naan.

18 April 2008

Chinese Spring Rolls and Dulse Rangoons

I've always been a sucker for things wrapped in wontons and deep fried - really doesn't matter that I'd be in pain for several days afterward - I have never been able to resist the siren call of the egg roll, the spring roll, and the infamous crab rangoon.

Of course, finding out that the misery was due to a genetic disorder really put a damper on m love relationship with these delicacies - the specter of cancer doesn't really make them as appetizing... and my decision to stop eating pork and shellfish sealed the deal.

Did you know that most egg rolls/spring rolls have pork in them? And most crab rangoons contain... you guessed it - actual crab. Shocker, eh? And the rangoons that don't??? Well they contain fake crab, aka GLUTEN....

So I've been rangunless for a while now, and I just couldn't take it any more.

I decided to make a go of it and came up with these recipes. Dulse adds a seafood dimension to both the spring roll and the rangoon. Have fun!

If you're going to make your own dim sum, you need wonton wrappers. These are relatively easy and very quick to make, and they can be used anywhere traditional wontons are called for. This makes 16 wonton wrappers.

1 c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
1 egg
2 Tbsp water (up to 4tbsp total - save 2)

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg and flour together, adding 2 tbsp of water. The mixture should stick together when pressed - like a stiff pasta dough. If it's too dry add up to 2 tbsp of water.

You'll want to heavily flour your rolling surface. Split the dough into four parts and flatten each into a square. Sprinkle the top of the dough heavily with flour and roll out until the square is 8 inches by 8 inches - it will be thin.

Take a knife or pizza cutter and cut the square into four smaller squares.

Now you can leave these squares as they are, but I think it's better to make the squares really, really thin. To do this you'll want to flour the rolling surface again, as well as the surface of the wrappers - don't worry that this will make them too dry - it will help combat the moisture of the filling. Roll them out until you can see through them - each square will be about 5 to 6 inches wide. I've included a rather ghetto picture of one of my wrappers on top of my ecover dishwashing tabs box, so you can see how thin the squares will be.

Use these anywhere you would use wonton wrappers.

Chinese Spring Rolls
It's a common misconception that spring rolls= rice wrappers with lettuce. Chinese Spring rolls differ very little from Chinese Egg Rolls - they're both fried parcels of cabbage wrapped in egg-dough wrappers. Not exactly what comes to mind when one thinks spring, I know. Still, these manage to taste fresh and light, which is a miracle in itself when you're dealing with anything deep fried. They're also extremely simple and require only easily available ingredients. Serve these as a meal in themselves, or as an accompaniment to any meal. This recipe makes 16 spring rolls.

2 c cabbage
1 c shredded carrots
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/2 c water
2 Tbsp dulse
1 clove garlic, grated or crushed
1/2 inch ginger, grated
2 Tbsp gf Tamari
dash hot chili pepper sauce

1 recipe Won Ton Wrappers

Mix the cabbage, carrots, onion, vinegar, water, dulse, ginger, garlic, tamari, and hot sauce in a bowl and let marinate overnight - you can let this soak for up to three weeks, and honestly I think it's better and tastes 'fresher' the longer it sits. Drain the mixture, squeezing it dry and reserve the liquid to make a dipping sauce.

Place a wonton wrapper on a floured surface. Working quickly, place about 3 Tbsp of the mixture on the wrapper, starting about 1/2 inch from the top and sides. Fold the sides of the wrapper in and quickly roll the wrapper into a sausage shape, enclosing the filling. Quickly dampen the edge of the wrapper with a wet finger and finish rolling the spring roll. Press lightly to seal and set aside. Repeat this process until you've used all of the wrappers and filling.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a wok or deep fryer. Fry up to three spring rolls at a time, until golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid and add 1 tsp of either tapioca starch or cornstarch, and bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Let thicken and remove from heat - add salt to taste.

Serve the wrappers with dipping sauce.

Dulse Rang00ns
I couldn't take it anymore - I had to make some of those wickedly junk-food concoctions that I'm sure are pure Chinese-American junk food. Ranguns. Dulse gives a distinctly sea flavour to the cream cheese filling and deep frying makes these treats just like their restaurant counterparts. Don't be shocked by the inclusion of Worchestershire here - the basic ingredients of the stuff are staples in the asian kitchen. This recipe makes 16 ranguns.

4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c green onions, minced
1/4 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp gf tamari
1 very small clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
2 Tbsp Dulse

1 recipe Won Ton Wrappers

Beat the cream cheese, onions, sauce, tamari, garlic, and dulse together. Take 1 1/2 tsp of the filling and place in the center of each wonton wrapper. moisten the straight edges of the wrapper and,placing your fingers on each straight edge, press them together in the center, so that the corners form little pockets, or petals. This will take a few times to get exactly right.

Heat ta least 2 inches of oil in a wok or deep fryer and fry the rangoons a few at a time. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Adopt a Blogger: Tapioca Pudding

My adoptee of the month was Kate of Gluten Free Gobsmacked!

Now, apparently I'm supposed to tell you a little about her - last month I neglected to do this (*sorry, Sea!) because.... well, frankly because I'm notoriously fuzzy with details. So here's my take on Kate:

Kate's a long time celiac (2000, right, Kate??) who's famous for her beautiful photography and creative recipes. One thing I've come to appreciate about Kate is her ability to weave a tale. Usually a food blog (especially mine) runs something like this: "Blahblahblahrecipedescription, recipe, pic" Not the most scintillating to read... Kate manages to bring a background into her tale, and I find myself reading her entire post, instead of skimming through and looking at the pretty pictures.

In fact it was her warm and personal style that led me to adopt her this month. Many of you who follow my blog -- when I'm posting regularly - know that I have my own gf flour blend, and so Kate's recipes, which rely heavily on her own mixes and a more traditional approach, might seem a little strange. At fist I thought it was a little strange, too...

But Kate always has options available! I pulled a fantastic Tapioca recipe from her blog, and let the magic roll. Now my pic looks nothing like her pretty pic, so I'll let you wander over there and peek - I'm sure it tasted every bit as good.

Kate's recipe varies from the traditional recipes in a few ways -- most appreciated on my list, the cinnamon sticks, which lent a spicy, clean taste to the tapioca without muddying it, like ground cinnamon would have. I'd never thought to add cinnamon to tapioca pudding, but I don't think I'll ever want to make it otherwise, now that I've been enlightened!

The other major difference: This tapioca is baked. I honestly had never heard of a baked tapioca pudding before - baked bread pudding, baked rice pudding... but never baked tapioca pudding. This made the pudding a little more custardy, which is perhaps why she recommends adding whipped cream to the pudding afterward. We didn't, which is perhaps why our pudding isn't prettiful like Kate's.

I never thought it would be possible to call a tapioca pudding decadent, but Kate proved me wrong. Way to go!