Monthly Archives: September 2015

Smoky Shitake Stir Fry

Smoky Shitakes

I was making Roberto Martin’s Umami Patties the other day. The recipe called for using just the stems from a pound of shitake mushrooms. (Gee, and I always threw them out or used them in soup.) Since I’m not terribly fond of bell peppers outside of chili and stew, I wasn’t going to use the caps to make his shitake-bell pepper recipe to accompany the patties. I decided a simple stir-fry would go nicely with his Umami Patties and my Grilled Maple-Glazed Yams. I took a “less is more” approach and used a few ingredients to enhance and not outshine the subtle flavor of the shitakes. The flavors were slightly sweet, mildly piquant with a hint of smoke and verrrrry tasty. Stir up these Smoky Shitakes and wake up your tastebuds. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Yams & Smoky Shitakes 006

Smoky Shitake Stir Fry

  •  1 lb. shitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with oil and  brown mushrooms over high heat until golden and tender. Stir in ginger and scallions and saute another minute, then stir in soy sauce, vinegar, syrup and sesame oil. Remove from heat.


26 Sep 2015

Grillin’ While It’s Chillin’: Grilled Maple-Glazed Yams

Grilled Maple-Glazed Yams

Did you ever wonder why outdoor cooking is so popular during the summer? After all these years this burning question just hit me today. When you think about it, what’s so enjoyable about standing over a smoking hot barbeque when the temperature’s 95 degrees and the sun is beating a mad headache on you? You’re hot, sweaty and irritable; not sexy at all. Do you think Giada would subject herself to such misery? I think not. This time of the year is the perfect time for outdoor cooking. The evening temperatures in Delaware have been in the high 60’s making it quite nice for grilling. I picked up some huge yams this week and wondered if I could grill them without too much oil. I decided to pre-cook the potatoes in the microwave, then brushed them with maple syrup and sprinkled on some Chinese Five Spice seasoning. With a light coating of non-stick spray, on the grill, the potatoes charred nicely and didn’t stick to the grates. So simple, so tasty, so pleasant. I served these along with Roberto Martin’s Umami Patties and my own Smoky Shitakes (look for this recipe in my next post). While the air is chillin’ do some grillin’ and try these Maple-Glazed Yams. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Yams & Smoky Shitakes 006

Maple Glazed Grilled Yams

  •  2 jumbo or 4 large sweet potatoes
  • Maple syrup
  • Chinese five spice

Pre-heat outdoor grill on medium-high and coat grates with non-stick spray.

Cook potatoes in microwave so that they are partially cooked. Start with 3 minutes and keep checking. The potatoes should be cooked enough to pierce with a knife, but still firm enough to stand up to cooking on a grill. Cut potatoes cross-wise into ½” slices or into large wedges. Do not remove the skin. Brush with maple syrup, then sprinkle with five spice seasoning. Grill on all sides until slightly charred.

Makes 2 to 4 servings





25 Sep 2015

Con-fusion Cuisine: Samosa-dillas



What do you get when you cross a Samosa with a Quesadilla? A Samosa-dilla!  Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions. Asian fusion might combine elements from East, South-East and Southern Asia. Tex-Mex in a fusion of Mexican and Southwestern United States cuisines. Sounds like an identity crisis to me. Perhaps, it should be called Con-fusion Cuisine. The trend has been around since the 1970’s, so I figured I better explore some fusion dishes before the concept is cleared off the table.

Within the past year, I’ve become a fan of Indian food, especially Samosas. A Samosa is a fried pastry that’s filled with a savory filling, usually potatoes and peas. So, there are reasons I haven’t ventured into Samosa production. While the act of making and rolling out dough (and cleaning up the post-frying mess) is a labor of love, it’s still labor. And after three years of striving to follow a whole-food, plant-based diet, my system does not process fried foods very efficiently. I wanted to figure out a way to get around these two obstacles. I remembered that I had a package of frozen Indian Roti bread in the freezer. I buy them in the Indian section of an ethnic produce market. The Roti look like raw flour tortillas and brown up nicely when cooked in a skillet or on an electric griddle. (This is the “-dilla” part of the recipe’s name.) I was optimistic that the Roti would be the time-saving and fat-eliminating solution I was looking for. For the filling, I cooked up some potatoes, onions, peas, jalapeno and Indian spices. After the griddle was up to temperature, I threw on a frozen Roti and grilled it just enough to cook but not brown the one side so that the filling would have a sticky surface to settle into. After I turned it over, I spooned the filling onto one half and folded the other side on top, pressing down with a spatula. When the one side of the Samosa-dilla was browned, I turned it over and browned the other side. A few peas and pieces of potato were able to sneak out, but I was surprised that my Samosa-dilla was a neat little package. And that’s when the wheels kept turning. I wanted to make them just a little neater and decided to wrap the filling into pockets and bake them. To do this, I simply let the Roti defrost just enough to cut them in half, filled them and pinched the edges together to form a triangular bundle. When they came out of the oven, they had a golden-brown color and a crispy texture. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. And that’s when the wheels started turning again. Now I’m planning a plant-based cocktail party in my head . . . Samosas, knishes, mushroom bundles. When will it end? I hope it never does. Back to reality . . . if you’re pressed for time, just make the Samosa-dillas and serve with your favorite chutney. You can make the filling a day early and fill and grill them the next day. So I wonder . . . since I used an Indian flat bread and not a Mexican tortilla, is this really Fusion Cuisine? Perhaps not, but it sure tastes good! Make yourself a Samosa-dilla and make it a Vegi-curious day!










  •  1-1/2 lbs. white potatoes, peeled & cut into ½” chop
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 jalapeno or other green chile, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  •  Frozen Roti, as needed

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and let cool.

In a non-stick skillet, toast mustard, cumin and coriander seeds until aromatic. Place in spice mill to grind. If you don’t have seeds, use ground mustard, cumin and coriander. Adjust quantity to your taste.

Heat 2 tablespoons of water in sauce pot or the same non-stick skillet. Add onions and saute until golden, adding more water to prevent sticking. Add jalapeno, spices and cilantro and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in potatoes and peas.

Heat electric griddle or non-stick skillet on high. Place Roti on griddle and grill until the dough “sets” but does not brown. This should take about 1 minute. Turn Roti over and spread some of the potato filling on one half. Fold over and press down with spatula. When brown on one side, turn over and brown the other side. Remove to cutting board and cut into three wedges.

Serve with your choice of chutney.

To make Pocket Samosas:

Let Roti defrost enough to be able to fold. (This takes only a minute or two.) Cut Roti in half and place filling on one half of the semi-circle. Fold the dough over the filling and press edges together to seal. Bake in 450F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning over once.

Number of servings: depending on how much filling you use per Samosa-dilla, you will get about 8 to 10. If you’re making the baked pockets, you’ll get about 16 to 20.






23 Sep 2015

Not-So-Crabby Pom Pom Mushroom Cakes

Pom Pom Crab-less Cakes“When one door closes, another door opens.” I’ve heard this saying many times throughout my life. I never knew that the quote is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and I never heard this other, and perhaps more poignant, part of the saying :but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” 

I thought about how fitting this saying is for how I got to this point in my life of sharing my plant-based journey and culinary escapades with you.

When we moved to Delaware in 2010, I was still eating meat, fish and dairy. About three years ago we adopted a plant-based diet. I felt as if a big door was about to slam right in my face. After all, cooking and sharing food has always brought me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s a part of who I am. Life would never be the same. Living so close to the Chesapeake Bay, we enjoyed some of the best crab cakes in the country for the first two years living here. Only two years! It didn’t seem fair that I would never enjoy crab cakes again. There I was looking so regretfully upon that door and so many other closed doors that I couldn’t see what lied ahead.

Fast forward to yesterday when Mom and I set out for eastern Pennsylvania hunting for some Royal Trumpet mushrooms with which to make Mushroom Bacon. (More on that recipe in a future post.) I found them at a mushroom store called The Woodlands in Kennett Square. While there I became re-acquainted with Pom Pom mushrooms. When the girl at the store mentioned that some people use Pom Poms to make Mushroom Crab Cakes, I felt as if I had to wedge my foot in that door and keep it open long enough to get a peak. (And I liked what I saw.) With a half-pound bag of Pom Poms and a recipe clenched in my hand I headed for home.

I decided to use the technique of browning the mushrooms from their recipe and the ingredients from one I’d been using for years to come up with this recipe. It’s pretty straight forward: saute onions and celery, brown the mushrooms with nori seaweed dust and Old Bay, stir in bread crumbs, vegan mayo and seasonings, then brown them.  I used the mayo recipe from the Non-Dairy Evolution cookbook, but you can use any vegan mayo you like. Trying to keep the fat content as low as possible, I cooked them on an ungreased electric griddle and they browned up beautifully. I drizzled on a little leftover Mornay sauce from the same cookbook, but you can make some tartar sauce using the mayonnaise, capers and pickle relish. All I can say is that this meal was a joy to put together and a delight to eat.

I couldn’t see it three years ago, but I see it so clearly now. A door was closing. Yes, we did live close to the Chesapeake Bay, but I wouldn’t be able to eat crab cakes (or meat,or dairy or eggs) again. What I didn’t realize was that another door was opening. We live just minutes away from some local farms that produce wonderful vegetables, fruits and, yes, mushrooms. This crab cake-mushroom analogy really represents just one small door in my life. The bigger door that has opened is the one that has lead to a healthier, cleaner and more humane lifestyle. There are no regrets about that. I hope you can hunt down some Pom Pom mushrooms where you live and try this recipe. It’s bound to put you in a good mood. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pom Pom Mushroom

Pom Pom Mushroom










Sauteed Pom Pom Mushrooms

Sauteed Pom Pom Mushrooms









Crabby Pom Pom Mushroom Cakes

 Makes 3 servings

  •  ½ cup water plus ½ teaspoon Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” base (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lb. Pom Pom mushrooms, broken into bite size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Nori seaweed dust, or to taste *
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon reduced sodium Old Bay seasoning, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • Few drops of hot sauce


*To make seaweed dust, place ½ sheet of sushi seaweed in coffee mill or mini chop and process until finely ground.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

In non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of broth. Add onion and celery and saute until lightly browned, adding more broth to prevent sticking. Remove to large mixing bowl.

Lightly coat skillet with oil and heat on high. Add mushroom pieces and saute until lightly browned. Add seaweed dust, sugar and Old Bay and continue to saute about 2 additional minutes. Add to vegetables in mixing bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, mayonnaise, soy sauce and hot sauce. Form into three cakes, place on parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Heat an electric griddle on high and cook cakes until browned on both sides. You can also use a non-stick skillet that’s lightly coated with oil.

20 Sep 2015

Hey, Who Sat on My Waffles?

 Pumpkin Pizzelle“Hey, who sat on my waffles?”  You might ask yourself this if you never had the pleasure of eating Pizzelle Cookies. Pizzelles are traditional Italian waffle cookies made with eggs, flour, sugar and butter. Thin, slightly sweet and crisp. Without all that butter, sugar and fat from eggs, I thought it would be impossible to make a plant-based version of these little delights that would be crisp and, as equally important, be able to release themselves from the intricate surface of the pizzelle maker. You see, a pizzelle maker is similar to a waffle iron, except that it presses the batter very thinly. Here’s what mine looks like:


Without all that butter in the batter, I was a little skeptical that I could make a healthy version. I decided to use my recipe for pumpkin pancakes as a starting point. After all, pancakes are close to waffles and pizzelles are waffle-like, so what the heck? I eliminated the baking powder and baking soda, used brown instead of white sugar and added a little more coconut oil. I was happily surprised that the pizzelles released effortlessly. I was even happier when I bit into one and felt that crisp texture that makes a pizzelle so different than any other cookie. If you’re really quick, you can wrap the warm pizzelle around a cone-shaped object to make ice cream cones . . . or around a cylinder to make cannoli shells or . . .  pressed into a small ramekin to make a vessel for mousse, ice cream or any other spoon-able dessert. Straight off the press, pizzelles add a nice touch to a cup of coffee or tea, a shot of espresso, a steaming hot soy latte, or even a dish of vegan ice cream. Bene! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Pizzelle

makes about 30 pizzelle

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tablespoons flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup almond milk, warmed to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional)

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together vigorously the almond milk and apple cider vinegar until the mixture is a little frothy. Mix in the coconut oil, the pumpkin.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them until the batter is totally smooth.

Heat a pizzelle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place 1 tablespoon of batter on pizzelle maker, close cover and grill until golden (about 1-1/2 minutes).




16 Sep 2015

Shoulder Season Minestrone

MinestroneIn the tourism industry there is something called the shoulder season, which is an abbreviated season that falls between a high season and a low season. September is a good example of a shoulder season because it marks the end of summer vacation and the return to school and work. I like to think of gardening as having a shoulder season as well. At this time of year, you might be snipping off the last few zucchini, peppers and tomatoes and starting to harvest some potatoes, cabbages and cool-weather greens. This is the perfect time to make minestrone, an Italian soup that contains a wide variety of vegetables. It’s still light enough to enjoy on a warm September evening, yet hearty enough for a satisfying meal. My Shoulder Season Minestrone calls for canned tomatoes, but if you feel ambitious you can dice up about 1-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. The minestrone goes nicely with some crispy Italian bread and good company. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Shoulder Season Minestrone

  •  ½ lb. dry navy beans or 2 cans (15 oz. each) small white beans
  •  1 large onion, ½” dice
  • 1 large carrot, ½” dice
  • 1 celery stalk, ½” dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, ½ dice
  • ¼ lb. green beans, cut into ½” pieces
  • ¼ lb. boiling potatoes, cut into ¾” pieces
  • 4 cups chopped Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Soup Base (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquid. If using canned beans, drain and reserve liquid.

In large pot, saute onion using a small amount of olive oil or water. When onions are soft, add carrot, celery and garlic and saute until soft. Add zucchini, green beans and potatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add cabbage and kale and continue cooking until wilted. Add in diced tomatoes (including juice), water, soup base and liquid smoke. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree half of the beans in blender, then add to soup with the remaining beans and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Continue cooking, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.


11 Sep 2015

Pumpkins are for Porches and More: Pumpkin Doughnuts

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I love this time of year when summer starts to fade into fall. The leaves are already falling in our yard and our squash and melon vines are starting to brown up. Pretty soon, you’ll see mountains of pumpkins in every size, color and shape in local farm stands. I always buy a great pumpkin for my porch. But pumpkins aren’t just for porches. I like to buy as many small pumpkins (about 8″ in diameter) as I can to make homemade pumpkin puree. It’s so simple and the taste of freshly baked pumpkin is so worth it. Just cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on a shallow baking sheet. Bake in a 350F oven until soft. Let cool, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor. You can use the puree now or freeze it in plastic containers or freezer bags. I use pumpkin in a lot of baked goods, much the same way you would use applesauce. It’s a good way to reduce the amount of fat in a recipe while giving a nice, moist texture to baked goods. I’ve used it in smoothies, pumpkin pie and custard, loaf cakes, cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts and pumpkin pancakes. The pumpkin also contains fiber and antioxidants, so there’s no need for a guilt trip this morning. These Pumpkin Doughnuts get an extra pumpkin punch with the addition of pumpkin butter. If you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute applesauce or apple butter. I dipped the cooled doughnuts in Alton Brown’s doughnut glaze substituting cashew milk for whole milk. (If you want more of an icing to drizzle, simple reduce the quantity of milk.) Delicious with a glass of almond milk or a cup of coffee or tea. So pick up a pumpkin for your porch and a few more for your pantry. Then bake up a batch of Pumpkin Doughnuts and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Veg-icurious Pumpkin Doughnuts

Makes 11 to 12 large doughnuts

Special equipment: doughnut baking pan

  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk, warmed in microwave
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin butter
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two mini doughnut pans or two regular sized doughnut pans with coconut oil.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, milk, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, brown sugar and melted coconut oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift the dry ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Using a pastry bag, fill the doughnut tins about ¾ the way full.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F or until they gently spring back when touched. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully using a butter knife to remove. Place on cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.




07 Sep 2015

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