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Vegan Planet: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012


Vegan Cooking For Carnivores: Guest Post by Roberto Martin

When I first discovered Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin, I was struck by the author’s message of making plant-based cooking easy and accessible for everyone. As Roberto says in his Introduction, his hope for his book is that it “will make the decision to go vegan easier by helping people cook familiar comforting foods…”  It reminded me of why I do what I do: the more people who eat vegan = less animals that will be killed for food.  

Roberto Martin is the personal chef for Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, who wrote the Afterword and Foreword to his book, respectively.  With that kind of star-power, a collection of easy vegan comfort food recipes (several of which use commercial products such as Gardein, which you can easily sub out if desired), and drool-worthy photos by Quentin Bacon, it’s not surprising that this newly released book is already a bestseller.

It’s my pleasure to turn this post over to Roberto who agreed to write a few words about his new book and share his recipe for Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores.

Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce, photo by Quentin Bacon
From Roberto Martin:

I wanted to write a vegan cookbook that appealed to the general public. I felt that for the majority of people, most of the vegan food that was available was too different in appearance and flavor from the food that people were accustomed to eating. I wanted to share with everyone how familiar and easy vegan cooking can be. It is my hope that after using this book the reader will be able to make their own vegan version of any recipe they encounter.

One of Ellen and Portia's favorites, these spring rolls are delicious, easy, and fun to make. Don't get discouraged if the first one you make is a disaster. By the time you roll your third you will be a pro.

From VEGAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES by Roberto Martin. Copyright © 2012 by Roberto Martin. Used by arrangement with Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Dipping Sauce:
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 small orange
1 teaspoon minced or finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Dash of Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
Spring Rolls:
1/2 head green cabbage, julienned
1 bunch cilantro with tender stems, roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, sliced on the bias
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
20 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled, grated, and squeezed dry in a paper towel
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
2 firm avocados, halved, pitted, and removed from their skins
2 packages spring roll wrappers (rice papers)

Make the dipping sauce: In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce, adding the Sriracha sauce, if using, for a little extra kick.
Assemble the spring rolls: Mix the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
Slice each avocado half into 8 even slices and set aside.
Select a dish or pan that is large enough for the rice paper to lie flat inside.
Inspect each rice paper carefully and discard any sheets that have holes or cuts. Add about 1 cup of very warm water to the dish or pan and soak 1 sheet of rice paper for about 20 seconds, or until the paper has softened but has not become completely "gummy bear" soft. Place the rice paper on a cutting board and rub it gently with your wet hands to flatten it and work in more water.
(1) Place 1/2 cup of filling on the rice paper, slightly below the center, working from the edge closest to you. (Where the smile on a smiley face goes.) Top the mound with 2 avocado slices.
(2) Pick up the edge closest to you and fold the rice paper up and over the mound.
(3) Fold the right and left sides toward the center.
(4) Pull the spring roll gently toward you as you roll it up burrito style. Protect the spring rolls from each other with moist parchment paper. Repeat the procedure until all the avocado slices and filling have been used. Cover the spring rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
The spring rolls can be made up to 2 hours before serving. If each guest is to have their own dipping sauce, cut each spring roll in half at an angle just prior to serving. If the dipping sauce is to be communal, cut each spring roll into thirds just prior to serving.


Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce, photo by Quentin Bacon

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Sunday, April 29, 2012


Butterscotch Figgy Bites

Some of my favorite recipes have been developed on the fly.  Combine a little of this with a little of that and often the result is something quite delicious.  That's what happened when I made these Butterscotch Figgy Bites.  I usually don't keep desserts in the house unless we're having company, but Jon was in the mood for something sweet.  So I stared at the pantry shelves for a minute until some promising ingredients revealed themselves to me: figs, butterscotch chips, and bran cereal flakes.  I never combined figs with butterscotch before but somehow I thought their flavors would be wonderful match.  And they really are.

Into the food processor went about 1 1/2 cups of figs (just cut off the hard tips).  The first time I made these I used kalmyra, this time I used mission.  The figs should be dried (as opposed to fresh) but moist, not all dried out. To the figs I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan butterscotch chips (the Food Lion store brand is vegan, although there may be other vegan brands available).  To hold it all together I added about 3/4 to 1 cup of ready-to-eat bran cereal flakes.  I processed the ingredients until everything was well chopped and would hold together when pressed.

When I made these the first time, I pressed the mixture into an 8-inch baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  For this batch, I pressed them into a mini muffin tin (also sprayed with cooking spray).  They could actually be eaten as is but I think the flavor is better if you bake them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  The baking lets the butterscotch chips melt a bit and allows the flavors to combine.

For only containing three ingredients, these little bites are extremely rich-tasting with a great depth of flavor. If you can't find butterscotch chips, they might be good made with chocolate chips, but I haven't tested out that theory yet.  If you try them (with either butterscotch or chocolate chips), let me know what you think. 

 P.S. Yes, that's a glimpse of this year's lilacs in the photo.  They bloomed a full month earlier than usual and are now almost gone, when normally they'd just be starting to bloom!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Nacho Chips with Pinto Queso Dip

I was excited when the nice people at Beanfields offered to send me some samples of their bean and rice chips.  I’ve been hearing wonderful things about their line of chips, especially the Nacho Bean and Rice Chips which won the “Best of Show” award from VegNews at the Natural Products Expo West.

The chips are not only free of dairy, MSG, and anything artificial, they’re also corn- and gluten-free as well.  With 4 grams of complete protein in each serving and likewise 4 grams of fiber, these healthy chips have a terrific resume.  But how do they taste?  Absolutely outstanding: crispy, flavorful, and hearty. All the flavors are good, but those vegan nacho chips -- wow.

Because I had a feeling that the chips would be as delicious as everyone says they are, I figured I’d want to eat more than just a few.  I decided to make a special dip to enjoy with them that could be served as a kind of fantasy lunch. I mean, chips and dip for lunch?  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

I adapted my Easy White Bean Queso Dip, giving it more depth of flavor to stand up to the nacho chips. I used pinto beans, but I could totally see using black, white, or red beans to make this.  The clincher for me is the addition of spinach in this dip, making the dip not only rich in protein, but with lots of veggies as well, helping to make “chips and dip” a well-balanced (but fun!) meal. The color of the dip turned out to be about the same as the nacho chips!  If you get a chance to try Beanfields Bean and Rice Chips, you’ll be glad you did.  Here’s my yummy dip recipe that, like the chips, tastes almost too good to be so good for you.

Pinto Queso Dip with Spinach
If Rotelle brand tomatoes with chilies are unavailable, your favorite tomato salsa (well drained) can be used instead. This dip is great with Beanfield Nacho Bean and Rice Chips, but if you can serve them with whatever chips you have on hand.

1 1/2 cups or 1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and blotted dry
1 (10-ounce) can Rotelle tomatoes with green chilies, drained
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a food processor or high speed blender, combine the pinto beans, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, paprika, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Set aside.
Heat the oil or water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach and cook 2 minutes longer, until the spinach is wilted and any liquid is absorbed.
Add the spinach mixture to the bean mixture and process until smooth. Transfer mixture back to the saucepan and cook, stirring over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes. It should be thick but pourable. Stir in the lemon juice.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Transfer to a bowl and serve with chips.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


One-Dish Vegan Meals: Tester Photos

Frittata Primavera from One-Dish Vegan Meals

I've been crazy-busy lately working on two book projects, the first being the edits for my new slow cooker book, Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker (due out in October).  Sneak peek of the cover coming soon!

I've also developing recipes for a new book called One-Dish Vegan Meals which will be a complete revision of an earlier title, One-Dish Vegetarian Meals. Testing is already in full swing for the one-dish cookbook, so I thought I'd share jut a few of the photos taken by my amazing recipe testers.  The photo above, taken by VeganAide is the Frittata Primavera.

This is the Soba Salad with Edamame and Cucumbers, photo by Melissa Chapman:

Soba Salad with Edamame and Cucumber from One-Dish Vegan Meals

Here's the Jamaican Coconut Rice Bowl, photo by VeganAide:

Jamaican Coconut Rice Bowl from One-Dish Vegan Meals

 And this is Lori Maffei's photo of Creamy Noodle Curry:

Creamy Noodle Curry from One-Dish Vegan Meals

This is Lea Jacobson's photo of the Black Bean and Avocado Rice Salad:

Black Bean and Avocado Rice Salad from One-Dish Vegan Meals

And here's one of the many chili recipes in the book -- this one is Texas Chili -- photo by Barbara Bryan:

Texas Chili from One-Dish Vegan Meals

There's loads more great photos I could post, but I'll save them for another time.  Now I better get back to work!

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Thursday, April 5, 2012


Lentil Sambar Redux

I love lentils any way I can get them --  in a soup, a pilaf, chili, pasta sauce, or even burgers.  One of my all time favorite lentil recipes is the lentil sambar recipe in Vegan Fire and Spice. I've posted the sambar recipe before here.  You can also find the recipe here on FatFreeVegan along a lovely photo by Susan Voisin (check it out if you haven't seen it before).

I made this delicious sambar again recently, but I added extra lentils to make it even heartier and thicker.  The nice thing about a sambar is that it can be used almost like a condiment when served with Indian dosas, but it's also terrific served like a soup (if made thinner) or like a stew over rice, when made thicker, which is my preference. You can cut the vegetables larger or smaller, too.

I served the sambar alongside potato "dosadillas" (my "quick-fix" solution to enjoying the flavor of dosas by using tortillas when there's no time to make actual dosas) and some spicy mint chutney. 

I ended up with some leftover potato filling and the next day I served the lentil sambar as a stew with a large spoonful of the potato mixture on top and some cooked spinach as well. With some warm naan and more of that spicy mint chutney on the side, it made an amazingly delicious meal as you can see in the photo at the top of this post. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and if you haven't tried it yet, I hope you will soon!

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