Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille (rat-uh-too-ee) is a traditional French stewed vegetable dish made with onions, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and herbs. Your family and friends are bound to be impressed. After all, Ratatouille is very French-sounding and has been prepared by the likes of Julia Child. What I like about Ratatouille is its versatility. You can simply serve it with some crusty bread for a nice dinner. I’ve tossed it with pasta and enjoyed it both hot and at room temperature. It’s perfect for brown bagging or to tuck away in a picnic basket. Use left-overs to make Ratatouille-stuffed baked potatoes. Ratatouille flat-bread pizzas make a tasty lunch, appetizer or party food. Voila and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Ratatouille & Pasta

Ratatouille Tossed with Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille

1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
a 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
3/4 pound small ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 1/4 cups)*
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of water; add the onion and the garlic and saute until light brown. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in oregano, thyme and fennel seeds and heat until aromatic. Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.
*Note: You can substitute canned diced tomatoes.

29 Apr 2015

Jamaican’ Me Crazy Burgers

Jamaican' Me Crazy BurgerOoops! I did it again — I overcooked a batch of red beans in the pressure cooker. Not one to throw imperfectly good food away, I set out to find a use for these beans. As the song goes, “Don’t worry, be happy.” When something goes awry in the kitchen, try to make the best of it. The beans were going to be used in my Jamaican Red Bean Stew, so I used that recipe as my inspiration. The burgers are made with red beans, sweet potatoes, cashews, coconut, ground oatmeal, scallions, garlic, Jamaican curry, allspice and thyme. I couldn’t decide on a sauce to complement the burgers, so I came up with two recipes. Both are made with Jamaican Jerk Seasoning; one with avocado and the other with raw cashews. Depending on how much of a kick you can handle, the Jerk Seasoning can be found either mild or hot. Try to get the Jamaican curry powder as it is quite different than Indian curry powders. Now, I’ve tried a few bean and veggie burgers, both in restaurants and at home. These are by far our favorite burgers. And, as an added bonus, they do not smush out of the bun while enjoying them. (Okay, call me a little O.C.D., but I do like a neat burger.) Serve on a toasted (or not toasted) bun with lettuce, tomato and one of the Jerk dressings. Ya mon, dis is tasty. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Jamaican Red Bean Burgers

1-1/2 cups grated sweet potato
6 scallions, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, finely chopped
½ cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, processed into a coarse flour
1-1/2 cups cooked red beans (or 15 ounce can, drained & rinsed)
2 tablespoons ground flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed in bowl
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the grated sweet potato, scallions, garlic, coconut and cashews.

In a food processor, add the oats and process until the texture is like a coarse flour. Stir the oat flour into the bowl with the vegetables.

Add the red beans into the processor and process until finely chopped. Add to the sweet potatoes and ground oatmeal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water. Let it sit for only 20 second, then add to mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut oil, tamari, lime juice, curry powder, red pepper, thyme, allspice and salt.

Shape the mixture into 6-8 patties. Place each patty onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake – until the burgers are light brown on the bottom (about 10 – 15 minutes) then gently flip the patties bake for another 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve on toasted buns with tomato, lettuce, onions and one of the Jamaican Jerk Dressings, below.

Avocado Jerk Dressing

1 Haas avocado
3 teaspoons mild or hot Jamaican Jerk Sauce

Place avocado flesh and Jerk sauce in small bowl and mash well. You can process in a mini chop for a smoother sauce.

Cashew Jerk Dressing

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
3 teaspoons mild or hot Jamaican Jerk Sauce
Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons coconut water

In high speed blender, process all ingredients until smooth and creamy, adding more coconut water if necessary.

22 Apr 2015

Grandma’s Ice Box Cake

Ice Box CakeWhile making Vanilla Pudding the other day, I thought about my grandmother. Well, I think about her often when I’m in the kitchen as I have fond memories of learning to cook from one of the masters. It seems like she always had an Ice Box Cake in her refrigerator. The Ice Box Cake became popular during WWI. The original recipe called for Nabisco Chocolate Wafers layered with whipped cream and left overnight in the “ice box”. Through the years, the recipe evolved into graham crackers layered with pudding. What a delight it was to open her refrigerator and see a towering Ice Box Cake. Once you have the pudding made, it’s just a matter of layering it with the graham crackers. Many years have gone by and I couldn’t remember how the layers held together; so I decided to start small. My first attempt, pictured here, was only two layers each of chocolate and vanilla pudding. As the cake sets, the crackers get moist (but not soggy) and the cake serves up neatly. The nice thing about this cake is that you can use any type of graham cracker and any flavor of pudding. I’m thinking chocolate chia and banana chia pudding might be a good combination. Or how about chocolate graham crackers with vanilla pudding? You can test your nerves and see how many layers you can pile on. You can make a single serving or a cake big enough for a crowd. Make an Ice Box Cake today and make some fun! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegi-curious Vanilla Pudding

  • 2-1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Measure out 1/2 cup of cashew milk; add corn starch and whisk until lumps disappear. In small saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and sugar over low heat. Just before it comes to a boil, add corn starch and whisk together. Continue boiling until thick, about 5 minutes. Pour into container, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cooled completely.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 16 dates
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder

Place ground chia, milk, dates and cocoa powder in blender container. Blend until smooth.

To Assemble Ice Box Cake:

Place a layer of graham crakers on serving platter, preferably one that is square. Start building your cake by covering the crackers with chocolate pudding, then add another layer of graham crackers, followed by a layer of vanilla pudding. Repeat until the cake is

15 Apr 2015

Vanilla Pudding & Cashew Milk

Vanilla Pudding

Cashew Milk. This is my new favorite thing. I’ve been getting coupons for cashew milk every time I buy almond milk at Shop Rite. I’ve been putting it off. After all, I’ve got almond milk and that’s good enough for me. Well, I was thinking about making my grandmothers Ice Box Cake which requires chocolate and vanilla pudding (and graham crackers). I’ve got the Chocolate Chia Pudding recipe down pretty good, but I haven’t found a vanilla pudding recipe that I like, until today. Cashew milk is creamier than almond milk, so I thought it would work nicely for pudding; and it did! I simply modified a recipe for vanilla pudding made with milk, sugar and corn starch. The pudding came out smooth, creamy and not too sweet. I recommend using unsweetened cashew milk in desserts that have other sweeteners in the recipe. I plan on trying sweetened cashew milk to use for smoothies that need a little sugar. Anyway, here’s the recipe for vanilla pudding. Look for the Ice Box Cake in a future post. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 Vegi-curious Vanilla Pudding

2-1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk

3 tablespoons corn starch

1 vanilla bean, split in half

1/2 cup sugar

Measure out 1/2 cup of cashew milk; add corn starch and whisk until lumps disappear. In small saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and sugar over low heat. Just before it comes to a boil, add corn starch and whisk together. Continue boiling until thick, about 5 minutes. Pour into container, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cooled completely.

Makes about 6 servings.

 

 

 

 

 

12 Apr 2015

Marinated Artichokes & Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Marinated Artichoke HeartsIt all started out with a hankering for grilled vegetable sandwiches. I’ve been waiting for some warm weather and new barbeque grates to arrive so I could grill some eggplants, zucchini and red peppers. Not one to stand around and do nothing,  I decided to make marinated artichoke hearts. I could have opted to buy them already marinated in a jar, but they’re usually loaded with oil and herbs that are a little too much for my liking. I modified a recipe I’ve had around for years and simply reduced the amount of olive oil. Canned artichoke hearts are very delicate, so I simmered them in a single layer in a non-stick skillet rather than tossing them around a in pot. I grilled the vegetables and started building my sandwich.  I didn’t have any nice Italian hard rolls on hand so I toasted up some sourdough bread, layered on the grilled veggies and topped it off with a few artichoke hearts. These were so good, they didn’t make it off the cutting board before I bit into one. What’s great about grilled vegetables is their versatility. You might try smearing some hummus or avocado on the bread and add a slice of tomato and spicy arugula. Arrange the grilled vegetables and artichoke hearts on a platter and serve with a sliced baguette and bread sticks for a special occasion antipasto. Or, cut the veggies into slivers and toss with some cut pasta or use as a topping for grilled pizza. It’s so good and so good for you. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

1 can artichoke hearts

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

oregano to taste

Cut artichoke hearts in half and place cut side down in a single layer in non-stick skillet. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes. Place in jar and refrigerate.

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Grilled Vegetables

2 – 3 red bell peppers

1 eggplant, sliced into 3/8″ slices

2 zucchini, sliced into 3/8″ slices

minced garlic

onion and garlic powders

balsamic vinegar

oregano

Heat barbeque grill on high. Place peppers on grill, close cover and grill until the skin is totally charred. Place in paper bag to allow the steam to soften the skins. Peel skin and remove stem and seeds. Set aside.

Spray grates with non-stick spray. Place eggplant and zucchini slices on grates, cover and grill on both sides, turning once. Sprinkle zucchini slices with onion and garlic powder and place in separate container. Layer eggplant with garlic, oregano and vinegar in a separate container and let marinate a few hours.

04 Apr 2015

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