Aug 06 2013

Chickpea Burger with Heirloom Tomatoes

Leftover Makeover: Who says leftovers are predictable?

A few nights ago I prepared roasted chickpeas and a special jalepeno-cilantro spinach bulgar for a burrito dinner and had plenty of chickpeas and bulgar left over. The next evening I prepared corn stew over polenta and had a ton of polenta left over. I could just serve these leftovers as is, but they deserve more than that. With a little love, they can get a makeover and feel brand new again. In fact, it would be even more special if I could reinvent them into one dish where they can make good friends.

Chickpea Polenta Bulgar Burgers with Heirloom Tomatoes and Balsamic Glaze

Chickpea Burger

Chickpea Burger

Recipe
Yields 4 patties

1/4 cup polenta/cornmeal
1/4 cup bulgar
1 cup spinach
1 cup cilantro
1 Jalapeño
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon liquid amino acid
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3 green onions
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 butter lettuce leaves
1 big heirloom tomato
1 small red onion
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons balsamic glaze
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pickled veggies of your choice

Boil a cup of vegetable broth and whisk in the coarse cornmeal gradually until it becomes a creamy consistency (about 20 minutes). Allow it to cool.

In a blender or food processor blend the cilantro, spinach, and seeded jalapeño with a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth until its smooth. Place the mixture in a small pot and bring to boil. Add the bulgar. Reduce to simmer and cover for ten minutes. Fluff with fork and cool.

Place the chickpeas and spices in a food processor process until its ground.

Combine polenta, bulgar, and chickpea mixture together with your hands. Add the liquid amino acid and liquid smoke. Chop the green onions and add them too. Keep combining with your hands until everything is well incorporated and has a hamburger consistency.

Form into patties and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Put 2 tablespoons of canola in a cast iron pan on medium high heat. Cook patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side to get a nice golden brown crust.

Place on a toasted whole grain bun. Top with a slice of an heirloom tomato, fresh basil, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, slice of red onion, crisp lettuce, and pickled vegetables of your choice. Slather a bit of Dijon mustard inside the top bun and finito!

Bon appetit!

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Aug 03 2013

Corn Stew over Creamy Polenta

Published by under Comfort Food,Stew,Vegan,Vegetarian

Be Corny!

Summer in the Midwest means lots of sweet corn. Inspired by the lovely yellow cob, I created this stew recipe to embrace the flavor of these delicious golden kernels. Serve it over polenta and its double the corn power!

Corn Stew over Creamy Polenta

Corn Stew over Creamy Polenta

Corn Stew over Creamy Polenta

Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup coarse cornmeal
4 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
3 ears of corn
1 bell pepper
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 fresno chili pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil

Boil the corn for 10 minutes and simmer for another 10. Allow to cool before removing kernels and pulp with a knife.

Chop the peppers, onion, garlic, and basil. Slice the grape tomatoes in half.
In a medium heated sauté pan pour the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Let it sweat out for a couple minutes and add the peppers until they’ve all softened. Add the oregano and thyme. Finally, add the grape tomatoes, corn, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. After a couple minutes, add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Bring to boil; then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Bring 3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Gradually, add the cornmeal with one hand and whisk with the other. The whole process will take 15-20 minutes, so be patient. Once it’s creamy and no longer grainy, stir in the vegan butter, season it with salt and pepper and ladle some in a bowl, top with the corn stew, and garnish with fresh basil.

Bon Appetit!

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Aug 02 2013

Coconut Cocoa Cashew Cookies

Published by under Comfort Food,Cookies,Vegan

A Quick Sweet Treat

Vegan Organic Coconut Cocoa Cashew Cookies

Coconut Cocoa Cashew Cookies

Coconut Cocoa Cashew Cookies

Some of life’s greatest discoveries happened by accident even in the culinary world. Chocolate chip cookies were an accident when the owner of the original Toll House Company ran out of baker’s chocolate for her chocolate cookies so she used broken pieces inside the dough. The potato chip was discovered when a chef in New York was fed up with a customer returning potatoes to the kitchen for being cut too thick, so he sliced them so thin they were a thin potato chip. Last night when I was preparing a sweet dressing for my popcorn, I realized the dressing was too thick to coat all my popcorn. It had a thick batter consistency. So, I squashed the popcorn dressing idea and formed little balls out of the batter. It worked, no flour, egg, or other binder was needed, so I threw them in the oven for 15 minutes. What came out was a chocolatey, nutty, spiced cookie that my husband went crazy for. Within a few minutes I prepared more batter, scooped them into little balls, and stuck them in the oven. 15 minutes later a dozen more cookies. Cheers to happy discoveries!
Recipe
Yields 12 cookies
Ingredients:
1/4 cup organic oat bran
1/4 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Roughly chop half of the cashews. Grind the rest in a food processor anywhere between medium grind and fine grind. Mix the ground cashews with the other dry ingredients.

Melt the vegan butter in the microwave for a minute and add it to the dry mixture along with the maple syrup. Stir until you get a thick batter. Fold in the reserved chopped cashews. Using a small ice cream scooper or spoon form the batter into 2 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to rest for at least 10 minutes. Then you are ready to enjoy them!

Bon Appetit!

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Jul 04 2013

Vegan Pho with Grilled Eggplant and Mushrooms

Happy Pho of July!

Vegan Pho with Grilled Eggplant and Mushrooms

Vegan Pho with Grilled Eggplant and Mushrooms

This Fourth of July celebrate your patriotism with a bowl of a soon-to-be American classic. Living in Chicago, a quintessential melting pot, I’ve tried a wide variety of international cuisine in very intimate, authentic, and mom & pop style eateries. Whether it’s pot-stickers, samosas, baba ghanoush, or pierogies, what was ten years ago known as exotic cuisine, is now considered an American favorite. One of my new American favorites is pho, pronounced “pha.” A couple years ago I discovered it in the Edgewater neighborhood on the north side of Chicago in a Vietnamese neighborhood filled with unique markets, restaurants, and pho eateries. Most pho is prepared with a broth simmered with thinly sliced meat such as rib-eye, brisket, tongue, and even more exotic meat like cow penis. I know, yummy! Long rice noodles are added to the broth. But it’s not the broth, the meat, or noodles that are the stars of pho. The stars are all the fresh ingredients you stir into the broth: fresh Thai basil, mint, bean sprouts, chilies, lime, and anything else you fancy.

The excitement is in using both hands to eat this bowl of goodness. You grab some noodles and fresh herbs with chopsticks in one hand and a sip of the spicy broth using an Asian soup spoon with the other hand. You might alternate and coordinate the pattern of broth to herbs and noodles any way that floats your pho.
Since removing meat from my diet and all high sodium foods, I’ve dearly missed this friend, not foe, but pho. (Please forgive the pun.)

So, I’ve recreated this favorite into a vegan and low-sodium treat you can make easily at home. To replace the meat, I’ve added grilled mushrooms and Japanese eggplant, also some fresh baby spinach to bump up the iron.

Vegan Pho Recipe
Serves 4
Ingredients:
Broth ingredients:
3 stalks of lemon grass
2 cups of mushrooms
1 lb of carrots
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
1 medium ginger root
1 cup fresh Thai basil
1 cup cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
5 raw garlic cloves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Toppings:
1 Japanese eggplant
1 cup pea pods
2 cups spinach
1 cup of portobello or shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup Thai basil
1 cup fresh mint
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Roughly chop the lemon grass, mushrooms, carrots, onion, celery, and ginger. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle with
1 tablespoon extra virgin oil. Roast in a 300° oven for 30 minutes.

After your aromatics have finished roasting, put them in a big soup pot or cast iron pot. Add roughly chopped garlic, jalapeño pepper, 1 cup of Thai basil, and 1 cup of cilantro. Add water (about 4-6 cups) to the pot, to cover all the aromatics. But keep in mind the ratio of water to the other ingredients should be less than half. Note the amount of water is important to ensure you create a very concentrated and flavorful broth. Add a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Bring pot to a boil, reduce to simmer for at least 1 hour, but ideally for 3 or more hours. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful the broth.

Slice your eggplant 1/4 inch thick on a bias and then your mushrooms. Drizzle them with a tablespoon of olive oil, and toss them with salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Place them on a really hot grill pan, an outdoor grill, or in a good old fashioned frying pan. Flip them after a couple minutes and remove them after another couple minutes.

After at least an hour of simmering, strain all ingredients from the broth. You can throw these out as they have fulfilled their destiny, or if you’re my husband, you might insist on pickling these aromatics. Pour the broth back into your soup pot and add the noodles. Cover the pot and turn the heat on medium high. Allow the noodles to cook for at least five minutes in the broth. Then add your peapods and allow them to cook for two minutes or until they turn into a bright green color.Turn off the heat.

Place some spinach into a deep individual serving bowl. Ladle the broth with about an inch still remaining at the rim of the bowl. Add some of the grilled eggplant and mushrooms.

Place the mint, basil, lime, and bean sprouts on a plate along side your bowl of pho.

Bon Appetit!

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Jun 28 2013

Lentil Burger with Home Fries

Comfort Classic without the Guilt

Lentil Burger with Home Fries

Lentil Burger with Home Fries

For the last few months, I’ve challenged myself to take classic comfort foods and adapt them to my newly acquired meat-free diet. Nothing says comfort to me like burger and fries, and because the veggie burgers out there are not necessarily heart-healthy with the excessive sodium, I experimented with the underrated lentils and am happy with the outcome. I was afraid that without a binder like eggs the patty would fall apart, but by mashing up half my lentils, the consistency of my patties became very similar to ground meat.

Recipe- serves 4
Ingredients:
1 cup dried petite lentils
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 fresno chili
1 cup cilantro
5 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
Poblano pepper
Vegan mayo
2 teaspoons ancho chili
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium avocado
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 lb organic russet potatoes

Slice up the potatoes, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, one teaspoon each of garlic powder, ancho, oregano, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
Bake in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. At the same time roast the poblano pepper.

Peel the skin and remove the seeds of the poblano pepper. If you place the pepper in a dish and cover with plastic, you will trap the steam and make it easier to peel the poblano.

Boil lentils in water for 20 minutes. Remove, strain, and cool. In a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil cook the fresno, garlic, bell pepper, and onion with a pinch of salt and pepper on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until they soften. Remove and cool.

With a food processor or potato masher purée half the lentils or mash them. Place the lentils (pureed and whole) in a mixing bowl. Add the sautéed veggies, chopped cilantro, remaining oregano, garlic powder, all of the coriander and cumin, teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Combine well with hands. Form into patties and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a cast iron skillet, melt the vegan butter. Add the patties and flip after 4 minutes. Cook for another few minutes on the other side.
Stir 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder with vegan mayo.
Slice the poblano into strips.
Cut the avocado into thin slices.
Toast the buns.
Slather the inside of the top bun with the ancho mayo.
Slather the inside of the bottom bun with a squirt of Dijon.
Place the lentil patty on the bottom bun. Add a couple strips of poblano, some avocado, and place the top bun.
Serve with your home fries.
Bon appetit!

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May 22 2013

Mushroom Barley Stew

Published by under Stew,Vegan

Portobello Barley Stew with Grilled Corn and Fresh Basil

For simple, healthy, and hearty goodness in a bowl try this stew. Since my journey to Vegandom I’ve been experimenting with high protein alternatives that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside without the meat.

Mushroom Barley Stew

Mushroom Barley Stew

Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 pound of baby portobello mushrooms
4 stalks of celery
10 organic baby carrots
1 small red onion
5 cloves of fresh garlic
1/3 cup of organic fresh or frozen green peas
3 ears of corn
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup organic pearl barley
12 oz can of Italian San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon house seasoning (I prefer Kirkland’s organic no-salt seasoning. It has everything from dehydrated onion, garlic, tomato to dried herbs.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon (optional)

Dice the celery, onion, carrots, and sauté them with minced garlic and olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat.
After a minute, add the sliced portobellos.

Add the tomatoes, broth, and spices and bring to a boil.

Then add the barley and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for at least 1 hour before serving or until the barley is tender.

Serve with chopped fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon is optional.

Bon appetit!

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