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Vegan Planet: January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011


Spread Some Love for Valentine’s Day

Looking for a great way to spread some love for Valentine’s Day? Consider sponsoring a rescued farm animal from the Farm Sanctuary shelter. You can sponsor or adopt an animal in your name or give a gift sponsorship to someone special in your life as a special Valentine. It’s a wonderful way to help animals and show someone you care at the same time.

Sponsors receive an adoption certificate with a color photograph of their adopted friend (like little Riley, here), an adoption card, an invitation to schedule a VIP tour to meet their adopted friend, and other benefits depending on the animal chosen for adoption. And, best of all, your gift will keep giving because every purchase from Farm Sanctuary directly supports the lifesaving work they do on behalf of farm animals. (They’re selling these cute chocolates and other gifties, too!)

On a local level, consider making a Valentine’s Day donation to your local animal shelter or other animal welfare group or bringing some food, toys, or other gifts for the animals. Better yet, think about making room in your home and heart and adopt a new companion from your local shelter.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's Party Vegan time!

It's almost February.  There are 28 days in February. That’s 28 reasons why you need to get Party Vegan now. Here are just two of them:

#1 - Super Bowl Party Menu:
Olive-cado Dip
Finger Lickin’ Tempeh Fingers
Devil’s Details Chili
Super Slaw
Confetti Cornbread Muffins
Man-Size Chocolate Chip Cookies

#2 - Valentine Dinner for Two:
Chickpea-Artichoke Bites with Rosemary Aioli
Red Bliss Potato and Fennel Soup
Pastry-Wrapped Seitan with Spinach-Mushroom Duxelles
Heart-Beet Rosti
Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Balsamic Drizzle
Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
(plus: my tips on how to avoid a St. Valentines Day massacre in the kitchen!)

What about the other 26 days in February?  Well, that's just the point.  Most of the recipes in this book are great for "anytime" cooking, too, so you can cook from it every day.  So, don't let the word "party" fool you -- you don't have to actually throw a party to use the recipes in Party Vegan.  Because every day is a reason to celebrate delicious vegan food!
At only $10 and change on Amazon, there's no reason not to have these 150 recipes (and LOADS of tips) to enjoy throughout the year. 
(psst... If you already own Party Vegan, please give it some love on Amazon by posting a review. ~thanks!~)


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Yuba-Wrapped Vegan Haggis

 Okay, I know the real thing is gross and that the chances are remote that anyone would ever say, “I’d go vegan if only I had a plant-based alternative for my beloved haggis.”

Still, I’ve always loved the challenge of making a vegan version of meat-based recipes, not because I miss the meat (could anyone actually miss haggis?) but because I like to show that virtually anything that is made with animals can be made with plants — and no one has to suffer and die for it.

Haggis is traditionally served on Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25th) with mashed potatoes and mashed rutabaga (called “swede” in Scotland). I first made my vegan version (mostly as a joke) for my husband Jon who is of Scottish heritage. It turned out so well (what’s not to like about a bean and vegetable loaf made with oats and a splash of Scotch?) that I included a recipe for it in my book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Over the years, I have since tinkered with the recipe. Below is the latest version in case you want to celebrate the birthday of a certain Scottish poet.

This morning, I got my vegan haggis ready to cook all day in the slow cooker. These photos show the mixture in the bowl before going in the slow cooker, then in the slow cooker before and after folding the yuba over it. Sorry for the quality of the photos on the fly. I’ll try to snap a shot of the “after” photo later on when it’s done cooking.

P.S. If you do make this, you’ll want a flavorful brown gravy to go with it. Scottish cuisine isn’t big on seasoning and so the seasoning in this recipe leans to the mild side.

Yuba-Wrapped Vegan Haggis
Yuba, or bean curd skin, is used as a crispy outer wrapper for the Scotch-laced oat, bean, and vegetable mixture. Yuba is available in Asian markets where it is sold fresh or frozen in large sheets and is a versatile ingredient often used as a dumpling wrapper. Note: if you can’t find bean curd skin, the recipe can be made without it — just spoon the stuffing mixture directly into the lightly oiled cooker insert and proceed with the recipe. The stuffing can also be baked in a loaf pan.

1 large sheet fresh or frozen bean curd skin (yuba)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, finely shredded
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more if needed
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans or other nuts
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Scotch whiskey (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon vegetable broth powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour (if needed)
1 potato or onion
Your favorite brown gravy, to serve
Thaw the bean curd skin if frozen — it should then be soft, not brittle. If brittle, soak in a shallow bowl of water for a few seconds to soften. Lightly oil a 4-quart slow cooker and set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until tender then add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Stir in the oats and the 1/2 cup of broth. Set aside.
Mash the kidney beans and black-eyed peas and stir into the oat mixture. Add the nuts, parsley, whiskey (if using), soy sauce, thyme, vegetable broth powder, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more broth to make it hold together. If the mixture becomes too moist, stir in up to 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour or chickpea flour.
Cut the potato or onion into 1/2-inch slices and arrange evenly in the bottom of the slow cooker — this is done to make the loaf easier to remove from the slow cooker. Line the slow cooker with the yuba sheet and spoon the stuffing mixture inside, spreading evenly. Fold the yuba sheet over onto the mixture to enclose it.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serve hot with brown gravy.
Serves 4 to 6

Oven-Baked Variation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a round baking dish and line it with the yuba. Spoon the stuffing mixture inside, spreading evenly. Fold the yuba sheet over the top of the mixture to enclose it. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes longer to slightly crisp the yuba.
NOTE: If you can’t find yuba, you can bake it without it — just spread the mixture evenly into an oiled loaf pan, cover tightly, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

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Monday, January 24, 2011


Pasta “Fazool”

If this isn’t pasta fazool weather, I don’t know what is. Nothing takes the chill off like a bowl of stick-to-your ribs pasta and beans in saucy tomatoes. Side note: I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s that “fazool” was just mangled Italian-American for “fagioli” (beans).

Yesterday I made the fastest “zool” ever: I happened to have about 4 cups of cooked farfalle in the fridge and about a cup and a half of marinara sauce. I combined them in a pot with a can of petite diced tomatoes, a can of white beans, a splash of water, and lots of dried oregano, basil, a little salt, red pepper flakes and some cracked black pepper. That’s it. Heat and serve. Ready to eat in about 10 minutes. The best part? Jon said it was the best pasta e fagioli he ever ate and that it tasted like it had been cooking for hours!

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Friday, January 21, 2011


The “Apple Thing” aka Apple Cream Pie

This lovely wedge of deliciousness is a piece of the second pie of last week’s two-pie weekend. Jon wanted me to bake a “regular” apple pie, but since I was already making a blueberry pie, I wanted to make something different and maybe a little special, so I was thinking more along the lines of a vegan cheesecake. Still, those apples were calling me…

Ultimately I compromised and made what is now very lovingly referred to around our house as the “apple thing.” It’s not exactly a pie, it’s not really a cheesecake, it has a streusel-ish topping like a crisp. So what is it? I finally settled on calling it Apple Cream Pie, but when a dessert is this flagrantly delicious, it’s really just known as “More, please.”

Here’s how I made it in case you want to do a reenactment: Press graham cracker crumbs (moistened with a little melted Earth Balance) into a springform pan or pie plate (I used a springform pan). Combine 8 ounces of vegan cream cheese with about 1/3 cup light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until smooth, then spread the cream cheese mixture onto the bottom of the crust. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel, core and thinly slice about 5 apples (your choice — I used a combo of Gala and Pink Lady). Saute the apple slices in a large skillet with 2 teaspoons of Earth Balance, a splash of lemon juice, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, to taste. When the apples are reasonably tender (not too soft), scoop them out of the skillet (leaving their liquid behind) and spread them on top of the cream cheese mixture. Reserve the liquid that remained from the apples. In a bowl, combine about 1 cup of granola and 1/2 cup of walnut pieces. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of the reserved apple liquid to moisten, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the apples. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool before serving to serve at room temperature or refrigerate for at least 2 hours to serve chilled. That’s it!

If you make it, let me know what you think. I came up with this on the fly and didn’t measure anything, so measurements are approximate. The type of apple you have and how much sugar you use will dictate how sweet this is. If you serve it warm, it has that cozy warm apple pie flavor, but the cream cheese mixture is soft. If you chill it, the pie slices easier and the cream cheese mixture is firm. It’s great either way!


Monday, January 17, 2011


Two-Pie Weekend

I’m coming off of a two-pie weekend and it was everything I hoped it would be. If you follow my blog, you know that I only make dessert on special occasions or when company’s coming. So when one of our favorite people in the whole world came to spend a few days with us at the end of last week, I made both a “special occasion” dessert and a “company’s coming” dessert. That’s how we ended up having a two pie weekend. And what yummilicious (is that a word?) pies they were! Best of all, these pies were new creations — I had never made them before. They were so good, I seriously need to remember what I did exactly and write them down for a future cookbook. For now, I’ll just describe the process.

First up (and pictured above) is the Mixed Berry Pie in Winter. The “in winter” part comes not just from the dusting of confectioners’ sugar “snow” but because although berries are summer fruits here in Virginia, I was able to find beautiful blueberries from Peru and strawberries from Florida. I only bought one container of each — not enough to fill a pie of any distinction, plus the strawberries weren’t super-sweet. Solution: I sliced the fresh strawberries and mixed them with a can of blueberry pie filling. The two-color berry filling was gorgeous and the sweetness of the pie filling complemented the strawberries, just as the freshness of the strawberries boosted the filling.

I prebaked the pie crust (which I had stashed in freezer for such an occasion) for a few minutes, then spread the filling and baked it about 30 minutes. After cooling for a few minutes, I topped it with fresh blueberries, pressing them into the baked filling. When ready to serve, I dusted the pie with confectioners’ sugar. This pie was so good and fresh-tasting. Like a taste of summer in the middle of winter. The combination of blueberries and strawberries was wonderful and the burst of fresh berries along with the cooked berry filling and flaky pie crust was amazing.

I’ll tell you all about the second pie in my next post, but for now, here’s a hint: “Apple Cream Pie.”

Before I close, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has written me such nice e-mails about my books.  It means a lot to me!  And now I'd like to ask a favor:  if you can spare a few minutes, please leave brief reviews on Amazon or wherever else you can leave a review on my books that you enjoy.  It will be a huge help to me and also helps others trying to decide what books to buy.  (thanks!)


Thursday, January 13, 2011


Party Vegan Winner!

A big thanks to everyone who entered the Party Vegan giveaway — for a grand total of 123 comments!

As you know there can only be one winner and I’m glad I can pass along that difficult task to the trusty random number generator. The winner is: Panda with Cookie — congrats!! (Please send me your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of Party Vegan in the mail to you right away.)

Thanks again to everyone who entered for all your great comments. It was fun to celebrate LeBefana with you all.

Almost forgot...can't leave without posting a food photo!  The lovely photo below was taken by recipe tester and food photographer Lori Maffei.  It's the Maple-Pecan Baked Pears from my upcoming book.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011


La Befana and Party Vegan Giveaway!

While many of us know today is the feast of the Ephiphany or “trree kings,” as they used to say back home, today is also La Befana day.
LaBefana is an old woman of Italian folklore who delivers gifts throughout Italy on the night before Epiphany. La Befana is usually portrayed as an old lady wearing a black shawl and riding on a broomstick. She is often depicted as smiling, carrying a bag filled with gifts, and covered in soot because, like Santa Claus, she enters houses through the chimney, leaving toys and candy for the good children and coal or garlic for bad children. She is also said to sweep the floor before she leaves a house. Much like leaving cookies and milk for Santa, Italian families typically leave a glass of wine and a small plate of food for La Befana. In some regions, the food includes broccoli and sausage (!).
Just in case the legend is true, I made some pasta with broccoli and vegan sausage so I could leave a snack for La Befana, along with some good Italian wine – a crisp vernachia from San Gimignano. I don’t mind if LaBefana leaves me garlic (who can’t use more garlic?) instead of candy, as long as she sweeps my house before she leaves!

Cookbook Giveaway: In honor of LaBefana, I’m giving away a gift to one lucky someone – a copy of my latest book, Party Vegan! Much more than a “party” book, Party Vegan is filled with great recipes and menus for everyday meals as well as special occasions throughout the year, from a guy-friendly Super Bowl party to a New Year’s Eve appetizer party.
To enter: leave a comment at the end of this post.
For a second chance to win: link to this post from your blog, Facebook, or Twitter and then leave a second post, telling me you did so. That’s it! I’ll choose the winner at random (using on Wednesday, January 12 at midnight EST. The winner will be announced here on Thursday, January 13.

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Monday, January 3, 2011


Slow Cooker Chipotle Cornbread Topped Hoppin’ John

Looks like my New Year’s Day ritual of eating Hoppin’ John for good fortune in the coming year has already paid off. It has provided me with enough leftovers to make a fabulous slow cooker meal that’s even better than the first time around. Since I didn’t want the leftover Hoppin’ John to stick to the pan while reheating, I used a slow cooker to reheat it, with some extra vegetable stock to loosen it up and a few shakes of Cajun seasoning. It was then I remembered one of my favorite recipes from Vegan on the Cheap — the slow cooker chili topped with chipotle cornbread dumplings. And the rest of the meal wrote itself. Instead of making dumplings, I just made my normal cornbread batter with the addition of a few tablespoons of pureed chipotles in adobo. I spread the batter on top of the hot Hoppin’ John that was simmering deliciously in the slow cooker, and within an hour, the cornbread topping was “baked.” Phenomenally tasty, I must say. And so easy.

If you thought the holiday gift-giving season was over, then you may not know about LaBefana, the Italian witch who delivers gifts down the chimney on January 6th. In the spirit of LaBefana, I’ll be doing a giveaway of my latest book Party Vegan, beginning on January 6 when I’ll also tell you more about the legend of LaBefana.

Until then, I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2011 and thank you all for your friendship and support for my blog and my cookbooks. I hope you continue to enjoy them in the coming year. To let others know about my books, I’d very much appreciate it if you could spread the word by writing a brief review on Amazon or anywhere else you post reviews.

Thanks and Happy New Year!


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