Monthly Archives: July 2015

BBQ Port-OH-bello Brisket

 Portabello BrisketPortabello SlicesSince we live about 20 minutes away from the Mushroom Capital of the USA (Kennett Square, PA), you’ll find quite a few mushroom recipes on Vegicurious. If I’m lucky enough to catch the manager’s special at Sherockee’s Mushroom Outlet, I’ll come home with an entire box of portobello mushrooms for $5. That’s about 30 huge mushrooms. One of the easiest things to do with portobello mushrooms is to grill then marinate them. I had several grilled portobellos left over and decided to slice them up and marinate them in balsamic vinegar and garlic. While slicing them, I noticed that the mushroom flesh looked like flank steak. Perhaps this was a mirage or maybe just wishful thinking, but I kept slicing just the underside of the mushrooms until I had a pile. The top of the mushroom stayed intact, almost like a skin (see picture top right). I wondered what I would do with these “beefy” looking slices and decided to smother them with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbeque Sauce, pile ’em on a toasted wheat bun and top it off with leftover grilled onions. Serve with a side of coleslaw or cabbage salad and you’ve got yourself some healthy barbecue. Oh, that’s good. Port-OH-Bello good. Have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

BBQ Portobello Brisket

Several portobello mushroom caps
BBQ sauce
Whole wheat hamburger buns
Grilled onions

Remove stems from mushroom caps; do not scrape out the “gills” as this adds a meatier taste. Prepare grill by coating grates with non-stick spray. Heat on high, then lower to medium. Grill mushrooms until both sides are light brown and the mushrooms are tender, but not mushy. Remove to cutting board and let cool.

Using a long serrated knife, slice the underside of the mushroom on an angle. The outer skin should become separated from the mushroom slices. Discard the outer skin.

Add barbeque sauce to mushroom slices and gently fold to coat. Heat in microwave for a minute or two. Serve on toasted bun with grilled onions.

 

30 Jul 2015

T.G.I.F. Coconut Mango Chiller

Coconut Mango Twister T.G.I.F.Thank Goodness It’s Flowing. I wanted to make a tropical cocktail to enjoy on the patio tonight. Luckily, I had a few mangos and coconut water on hand. Coconut water is a good source of B vitamins and potassium. Mangos are full of antioxidants, fiber and flavor. Put the two together and you have one healthy mixer. The choice of liquor was easy . . . Jamaican rum.  I made my mixer by pureeing the mango and coconut water in a blender, then letting  it chill out for a bit. I didn’t want to water down the creaminess of the mixer, so I opted to stir (rather than shake with ice) the drink. My biggest decision was the choice of glassware. Martini glasses are so misused and easily knocked over, so I went with an old fashioned glass. Just pour the mixer in the glass, add a shot of dark rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg and you’re done. You can even serve these with ice or without the rum and still serve up some fun. Have a great and Vegi-curious weekend.

Coconut Mango Chiller

  • 1 whole mango
  • 11 oz. container coconut water
  • Dark rum
  • nutmeg

Coconut Mango Mixer:

Remove pit and peel from mango. Place mango and coconut water in blender container. Process until smooth. Refrigerate thoroughly.

 To make cocktails:

Pour 3 parts of Coconut Mango mixer and 1 part dark rum into old fashioned glass. Sprinkle nutmeg over surface.

 

25 Jul 2015

Putting It All Together: Grilled Baby Eggplant with Almond Cheese

Grilled Eggplant with Almond CheeseHopefully by now you have a few wheels of almond cheese under your belt and have been enjoying it on crackers and in sandwiches. All you need to do tonight is grill a few baby eggplants, slather on some marinara and sprinkle a few crumbles of Raw Almond Cheese on top. Okay, if the almond cheese is a bit of a stretch, you can try a store-bought vegan cheese or simply leave it off.  Serve the eggplants alongside Orzo Buerre Blanc and you’ll have a meal that will impress your family and friends. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 

Grilled Baby Eggplant with Almond Cheese

  • About 10 baby eggplants, sliced in half from stem to blossom end
  • ½ wheel of almond cheese
  • ½ cup marinara sauce

Heat grill on high, then lower to medium. Coat grates with non-stick spray. Place eggplants on grill, cut side down. Grill until light brown, then flip and grill skin side until light brown. Spoon a small amount of marinara on cut side of eggplant, then crumble almond cheese on top. Cover and grill another 3 minutes.

22 Jul 2015

Faux Cuisine: Orzo ala Buerre Blanc

 Orzo Buerre BlancFeeling kinda French today; hence the title of this post. About 14 years ago, my good friends gave me a gift certificate to a local cooking school as a bridal shower gift. I signed up for a class called “Spa Cuisine”.  I picked up a few techniques for preparing tasty, healthy dishes. The instructor did use butter, but it was sparingly. One of my favorite recipes was for Orzo with a Buerre Blanc sauce. Buerre Blanc is French for “white butter”. I haven’t made this dish in a long time so I wanted to come up with a butter-free recipe that I could live with. Quite to my surprise, it was easier than I thought. I left out the butter, used a teeeeeny bit of oil to brown the garlic, simmered it in Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” Base and stirred in a little nutritional yeast, nutmeg and parsley to finish it off. I don’t say this too often, but I didn’t miss the butter at all. I served it alongside Grilled Baby Eggplants with Almond Cheese, but it would be nice with some steamed broccoli for a quick weeknight dinner. You might also try folding in some peas for a one pot meal. All I can say is “C’est bon e bon apetit!” and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Orzo ala Buerre Blanc

Makes 6 servings

2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
Olive oil (optional)
2 cups orzo pasta
4 cups water
2 teaspoons Better Than Boullion “No Chicken” Base
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

In medium sauce pot, brown garlic in a small amount of water or olive oil. Add orzo, water and bouillon. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes.) Mix in grated nutmeg and parsley. Voila!

21 Jul 2015

T.G.I.F. Just Peachy Prosecco

Just Peachy ProseccoT.G.I.F.  Day Two of my birthday celebration and I’m enjoying Just Peachy ProseccoInspired by the world famous Bellini from Harry’s Bar in Venice, some fresh local peaches and a bottle of Prosecco that’s been tying up some valuable real estate in my fridge, this cocktail is a new twist on an old favorite. Prosecco is a sparkling wine (vino frizzante) from Venice. This wine has a special place in my heart since Bruce’s Italian ancestors are from that area of Italy. To put this recipe together, puree fresh peaches (with or without skin), add a little sugar, then freeze the puree in an ice cube tray. Once the puree is frozen solid, place one or two cubes in a champagne flute and fill the glass with some Prosecco. While you’re sipping, the ice cube starts to soften and the puree turns into a delightful slush. You can keep adding more Prosecco until the puree disappears. You can keep a supply of peachy ice cubes on hand to enjoy whenever the mood hits you or to have at the ready for your next summer soire. Why not pick up a peck of peaches this weekend while they’re in season and store up some fun in your freezer for when summer is gone. Buona Fortuna and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Just Peachy Prosecco

4 large peaches
Sugar (optional)
Prosecco, chilled

Remove pit and skin from peaches. Place in food processor or blender and process until pureed. If peaches are not very sweet, you can add some sugar. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Place one or two cubes into champagne flute and fill glass with Prosecco.

17 Jul 2015

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Raw Almond Cheese

Almond CheeseI came across this recipe for Raw Almond “Cheese” a while ago and was reluctant to write about it, for a  few reasons. And, there are a few reasons why I decided to write about it today.

One: When you say the word “cheese”, people get all optimistic and think that plant-based “cheese” will taste like dairy cheese without the harmful effects. It doesn’t; and the sooner we accept that fact, the sooner we can embrace nut “cheeses” into our lives.

Two: It used to be so easy to go to my favorite artisan cheese shop and pick up a few wedges of cheese. There aren’t any good sources of tasty vegan cheeses where I live (and probably not too many in the rest of the country for that matter.) What this means is that you have to make it yourself, which takes some time, a bit of patience and a high-powered blender. Once you find a recipe that you like, it’s well worth the effort.

There are two reasons I’m writing about almond cheese today. First, it’s tasty. For me, that’s reason enough to make it. Second, it will make another appearance in the near future in my post about Grilled Baby Eggplant with Almond Cheese (so get moving). Third, you can get creative and use it in so many other recipes.

Raw Almond Cheese doesn’t require any special culinary skill, but this is where the patience comes in. In a nut shell, you soak raw almonds overnight; add some garlic, lemon juice and water; whirl in a food processor or blender; let sit overnight, then place in a dehydrator if you have one. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply air dry the wheels in your refrigerator for a few days.) The “cheese” comes out slightly grainy, but very tasty. I liken it to Boursin Gournay cheese that is often sold in the dairy aisle. I like to coat the wheels with cracked pepper or fresh herbs like dill or tarragon. Spread it on crackers with a nice white wine before dinner or with a glass of Prosecco or late harvest Riesling for an after-dinner cheese course. Smear it on grilled vegetable sandwiches or crumble it on salad. (Hmmm, I’m already thinking about some homemade potato and cheese pierogi.)

Good things come to those who wait, but why wait to make this tasty Almond Cheese? Thanks for stopping  by and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Simple Almond Cheese

Makes 2 wheels of cheese

• 2 cups almonds, soaked, drained and skins removed
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
• 6 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 cloves garlic
• pinch Himalayan Salt (try adding 1 tbsp. miso paste)

Soak almonds overnight in water. Drain and pop off skins. Place all ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth. This will take a bit of time, don’t rush. Place nut mixture in cheese cloth or butter muslin and tie with butcher’s twine. Suspend inside a deep plastic container and place lid on top. (The idea is to allow the liquid to drain while preventing the surface to dry out.) Let set at room temperature for 24 hours.You can refrigerate the cheese at this point. If you want it more firm, form into two wheels (about 5 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick) and place  in a food dehydrator for 6+ hours (at 115 degrees) to form a rind. If you don’t have a dehydrator, place the cheese on a cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and air dry in the refrigerator for a few days.

Try coating the cheese with crushed peppercorns, fresh dill, tarragon or other herbs before dehydrating.

 

15 Jul 2015

Let Them Eat Cake For Breakfast: Banana Pumpkin Pancake Layer Cake

Banana Pumpkin PancakesSerendipity . . .  the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. I had one of these moments last weekend and it made me feel like singing, “Serendiptiy-do-dah, Serendipity-eh”, but I got that mixed up with a Disney tune. Anyway, Mom had gotten up late and wanted pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Luckily, I had some leftovers in the freezer and took out a bag. Seeing that there were some extras, Bruce asked to have a few. Since that left only two lonely pancakes in the bag, I decided to join the party. That’s when I spied half of a banana that had been hanging around the kitchen since breakfast. And there was Serendipity, in the form of a banana, staring me right in the face.  Well, I sliced up that banana, layered it between my two pancakes and drizzled on some maple syrup. It was like a Bananas Foster torte that’s healthy enough for breakfast. It’ll be fun to see how high I can go with this torte the next time I make a batch of pancakes. So, let them eat cake for breakfast!  For the Pumpkin Pancake recipe, see my previous post here. May you enjoy a serving of Serendipity today and thanks for being Vegi-curious!

 

13 Jul 2015

TGIF: Melon Margarita Slushie

Melon Margarita SlushieT.G.I.F. Thank Goodness, It’s Flowing! I’m launching a new column that will appear on most Fridays in which I’ll be showcasing another one of my epicurean interests . . . Mixology. Like most of my posts, there’s a story behind it and this one actually has two.

For years, I’ve been concocting and consuming copious cocktails with the help of my trusty (and precise) Lab Assistant. For those of you who know my husband, Bruce, you know that he is a pretty precise person. Many cocktails ago, he made a Cosmopolitan for me that was not up to par. In his engineering fashion and pursuit of perfection he suggested that we get a few graduated cylinders for the bar (in our case, the kitchen counter). If you’re memory is a little cloudy, a graduated cylinders is a piece of glass measuring equipment from high school chemistry. So, I ordered a few from a company called, of course, The Science Fair. I haven’t been disappointed since!

The other story has to do with the carousel glasses. These glasses were a gift to my Mom for her bridal shower. I’ve had them for years and take them out for special times. Well, the launch of a new column and the creation of a new cocktail is a special occasion worthy of these special glasses. Is it me or have you noticed that food and drinks taste better in nice dishes and glasses?

Which leads me to why T.G.I.F will be part of Vegi-curious.com. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to create. I love to have a good time. Kicking back and enjoying a nice wine or a fun cocktail is definitely part of that, so why not try to incorporate some healthy aspects to it? This Melon Margarita Slushie has frozen watermelon for fiber and fresh lime juice for vitamin C and other phytonutrients and flavonoids with antioxidant properties. I’ll be sipping mine while swaying on our porch swing tonight. So do something good for your body and soul; make yourself a Melon Margarita Slushie, have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Melon Margarita Slushie

Makes four servings

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes

3 oz. tequila

3 oz. Triple Sec

2 oz. simple syrup

Juice of 2 limes

Chill 4 old fashion glasses. Place all ingredients in blender and process on low until slushy. Pour into glasses an garnish with lime wedge, mint leaf or whatever tickles your fancy.

 

 

10 Jul 2015

Never Underestimate the Power of Greens: Swiss Chard & Beans

Swiss Chard and Beans I was wakened by a wicked thunderstorm early this morning. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep I figured I’d enjoy some quiet time and do some blogging. Well, I’ve always been a morning person, so this is really not that much of a stretch for me.

I don’t know why, but I usually walk past Swiss chard in the produce aisle. I’m sure it would be pretty tasty swimming in a sea of garlic and olive oil, but we plant eaters need something more than what would otherwise be just a side dish. Greens are not very filling even though they are chock full of nutrients. According to WebMD, leafy vegetables are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer. Well, those are enough reasons to include more greens in my life. I got a little over a pound of Swiss chard as part of our CSA share and decided to make a suped-up saute. The addition of beans, carrots and celery added substance to the dish without making it too heavy for a summer supper. Of course, feel free to serve it with some crusty bread or baked potatoes. The bread does a nice job of sopping up all that goodness you can’t pick up with a fork. The next time you see Swiss chard at the market, grab an armful and cook up a storm. Thanks and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Swiss Chard Saute with Beans

Servings: 2 to 3

Olive oil (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, ¼” dice
1 celery stalk, ¼” dice
1 lb. Swiss chard, stems ¼” dice and leaves left whole
1 can of beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water or vegetable broth

Heat oil or a few tablespoons of broth in a deep saute pan. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery and Swish chard stalks; saute until lightly browned. Add chard leaves and broth; cover pan and cook on medium heat until chard wilts and vegetables are almost tender (about 5 minutes). Add beans and continue cooking, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated.

01 Jul 2015

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