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Vegan Planet: June 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Rustic Stone Fruit Pie

Whoever came up with the phrase “easy as pie” must have had rustic pies in mind. No fitting in a pie plate or fussy crimping for these pies. No. Just roll out a single crust, pile on the filling, and bring the edge of the crust up over the filling. The more “rustic” looking the better! It tastes just as good as regular pies, without the fuss.

This week I got some cherries on sale, along with the sweetest apricots and plums.  I also got some blueberries (not shown) and seedless black grapes. With so much luscious fruit in the house, I just had to use some of it in a pie. Here’s what I did:

I pulled a single pie crust from the freezer, thawed it, and rolled it out between two pieces of parchment.  After preheating the oven to 400 degrees, I placed the crust (still on the bottom parchment) on a baking sheet (discard the top piece of parchment).  I then spread about 2 tablespoons of lime marmalade on the crust, to add a bit of citrus flavor, but this is an optional step.  For the filling, I combined about a cup of pitted and halved cherries with two apricots and two plums, pitted and sliced.  I tossed in a handful of blueberries, too, just because I had them on hand and I like to add blueberries to just about everything!  You can use any kind of fruit, separately or in combination, in this type of pie.

Over the fruit, I sprinkled about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and about 1/3 cup sugar (you might need more depending on how sweet your fruit is).  I then stirred gently to combine and piled the fruit in the center of the crust, leaving about a two-inch border all around.  You can go all fancy and arrange your fruit in a pattern if you like, but to me, the idea of a rustic freeform pie is to just toss it together.  The edge of the dough then needs to be gently pulled up over the fruit — I do it in clockwise sections and the dough folds nicely into pleated sections, leaving the center of the pie exposed.  To bake, just sprinkle a little sugar over the whole thing and bake until the crust is nicely browned, about 30 minutes.  Cool before serving.  Here’s what it looks like out of the oven:

As it happens, this is also my Birthday Pie this year, because tomorrow is my birthday and I like pie better than cake!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011


UPDATE: Recipe Testers

UPDATE:  Less than 2 days after announcing my need for recipe testers for my new slow cooker book, I have been totally inundated with e-mails from talented cooks who want to help test.  I already have heard from more than four times the number of testers I need, and it will take me awhile to get through all the e-mails.

So....the cut-off for tester applicants has been moved up to TODAY at 5pm Eastern time. 

A huge thank-you to everyone who has e-mailed me.  I'm truly humbled by your enthusiasm and desire to help.  I wish I could test recipes with each and every one of you, but unfortunately that's not practical.  So now I have the very difficult task of narrowing down the tester group to a manageable size.  I will e-mail everyone who is chosen to test sometime in the next few weeks.  If you don't hear from me by July 6, it means I already reached the number of testers needed.  Thanks again!

COMING SOON:  A guest recipe post by Seattle chef extraordinare, Francis Janes.  You asked for the recipe for his amazing gluten-free vegan mac and cheese and Francis heard the call: the recipe will be in my next post!


Monday, June 20, 2011


Recipe Testers Wanted

I’m excited to announce that I recently signed on to do a new vegan slow-cooker cookbook. It will contain over 150 brand new recipes along with about 50 revised/updated recipes from my previous slow-cooker book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker that I wrote back in 2003.

A new cookbook means that I will need about a dozen dedicated and enthusiastic recipe testers who would like to volunteer their time and talents to test recipes. Here’s the criteria to be a recipe tester for this book. You should:

• own one or more slow cookers or “crock pots” (please list quart size and brand)
• enjoy cooking with a variety of vegan ingredients
• be detail-oriented and good at following recipes (previous testing experience a plus)
• agree to provide a critique of each recipe tested (ability to provide photos of tested recipes a plus)
• be willing to test 15 to 20 recipes between August 1 and November 1

If this sounds like you, and you’d like to help me out by testing recipes, please e-mail me at and tell me why you’d make a great recipe tester. Be sure to include the brand and quart size of your slow cooker(s) and mention if you’ve tested recipes before, as well as if you can take photos of the recipes you test.

If you are chosen to be a tester, I'll e-mail you with the news! I know there are lots of great testers out there, so let me hear from you no later than July 6th, so I have time to go through all the e-mails -- I know it will be a tough decision.

In return for their help, those who test more than 15 recipes will receive a copy of the book, and I’ll also thank every recipe tester on the Acknowledgments page. So, if you enjoy using a slow cooker and want to be considered to help with recipe testing, please let me know.


Friday, June 17, 2011


Father’s Day (or Any Day) Cookout

Dads love their grills, so it’s only natural that the Father’s Day menu in Party Vegan is entitled “Boys and Grills.” This easy and hearty menu makes the most of the fresh produce of summer with enough grilling to please even an omnivorous father on his special day.

Of course, this menu is a great for everyone — not just dads! Best of all, the various components are timed so that the grill doesn’t need to be crowded all at once. In fact, you can make the recipes either together or separately, anytime you feel like a cookout. In case of a rainy day, indoor cooking options are provided within each recipe.

The menu begins with vegetable dippers with creamy ranch-style dressing:

The main event features yummy barbequed vegan ribs slathered with a smoky and spicy sauce served with roasted corn, potatoes, and vegetable skewers, shown above. (Note: if you don't have time to make the ribz, you can just skewer some seitan, tempeh, or tofu chunks with bbq sauce and put them on the grill!) Dessert is a luscious blueberry-peach cobbler that takes advantage of the wonderful fresh fruit now coming into season:

— Cookout Menu —
Boys and Grills

Vegetable Dippers with Ranch Dressing
Spicy-Smoky BBQ Ribz
Foil-Roasted Corn and Potatoes
Grilled Vegetable Skewers
Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

Here’s a recipe from Party Vegan for my favorite way to enjoy corn and potatoes during the warm summer months:

Foil-Roasted Corn and Potatoes
These summertime favorites are great on the grill and easy to make when wrapped in foil. The optional addition of fresh herbs to the corn adds wonderful and unexpected flavor notes. This recipe is from Party Vegan: Fabulous Fun Food for Every Occasion by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.

4 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
Olive oil
8 ears corn, husks left on
Fresh basil leaves, thyme sprigs, and other herbs (optional)

1. Preheat the grill. Rub each potato with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt. Wrap each potato in a sheet of aluminum foil and place them on the grill, away from the hottest part of the grill. Close the lid and allow the potatoes to roast until softened, turning occasionally, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the potatoes.
2. Remove the tough outer husks on the corn, leaving on the inner husks. Carefully pull back the inner husks; do not remove. Remove all the corn silk and discard. Rub the corn kernels with a small amount of oil and a few sprigs of fresh herbs, if desired. Bring the inner husks back up around the corn and wrap each ear in foil. Place the corn on a hot grill and cook, turning frequently to cook evenly and prevent charring, 8 to 10 minutes. Pile the corn and potatoes on a platter and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Rainy-Day Variation: Bake the potatoes in a 425 degree oven until soft, about 1 hour. Cook the corn in a large stock pot of unsalted boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.

BTW... Party Vegan is selling for $11.47 now on Amazon -- a small price to pay for a book that can be your best friend in the kitchen all year long!  Party Vegan happens to be one of my personal favorites of all of my books.  If you have it and like it as much as I do, please leave a review on Amazon and/or other review outlet to let people know about it.  If you don't have it yet, now is a great time to buy.  Thanks!
And a special thanks to Tami Noyes for taking these great photos of the recipes when she tested them for Party Vegan.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Green Papaya Salad

Green papaya salad is refreshing and loaded with flavor. I love it, but because most Thai restaurants use fish sauce in the dressing, I rarely order it out. I’ll never forget one time when we were eating in a Thai restaurant, a lady at a table near us had ordered the papaya salad. She nearly shrieked after her first bite, and then said loudly, “What kind of fruit salad is this supposed to be?” I guess she was expecting something sweet, like that canned fruit cocktail. She’ll know better next time!
Here’s my recipe for papaya salad from Vegan Fire and Spice. I sometimes serve it as a prelude to a Thai meal like Drunken Noodles, but it can also be enjoyed as a light main dish when topped with fried or baked marinated tofu.
I made it for lunch the other day, but I had to leave out the cilantro — just when I was getting ready to go pick some from the garden, I noticed that the groundhog mom and her two babies were nibbling on grass nearby and I didn’t want to disturb them.

Green Papaya Salad
This recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson © 2008, Vegan Heritage Press. If you can’t find vegan fish sauce, I’ve included a recipe for it.

1 large unripe (green) papaya, peeled and shredded
1 carrot, shredded
2 scallions, minced
1 small hot chile, seeded and minced or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Vegan Fish Sauce (recipe follows)
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon light brown sugar or a natural sweetener
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 small ripe tomato, cut into wedges
Crushed peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Combine the papaya and carrot in a bowl. Add the scallions and chile. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, then pour over the salad and toss until well mixed. Arrange on salad plates and garnish with the cilantro, tomato wedges, and peanuts, if using.
Serves 4

Vegan “Fish” Sauce
This sauce is used in much the same way as soy sauce. I like the extra dimension this sauce gives to a recipe, although, in a pinch, you could get by with substituting a good-quality soy sauce or tamari.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well blended. Store the jar in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3/4 cup

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Thursday, June 2, 2011


Gluten-Free Meal Roundup

As I mentioned on FB, we had houseguests last week with various dietary restrictions. As such, our meals needed to be gluten-free, as well as nut-free, bean-free, and mostly soy-free. Thanks to a good selection of alternative ingredients (and a guest chef helping with the cooking!), we enjoyed a wonderful variety of delicious vegan food. Here, then, is a round-up of the meals we had while our friends Carol and Francis, and their daughter Elizabeth, were visiting from Seattle.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to do much of the cooking, since our friend Francis is a fabulous vegan chef (he’s the former chef-owner of Seattle’s Café Ambrosia) and volunteered to cook many of our meals. (I love it when someone else does the cooking, especially when that someone is a first-class vegan chef!)

For Monday’s lunch I made potato and spinach “quesadillas” using brown rice tortillas accompanied by a fresh tomato and roasted corn salad.

For dinner that night, we invited our neighbors to join us, so we had a houseful and Francis and I split the cooking duties. For an appetizer, I made cornmeal-crusted artichoke hearts. They were devoured almost immediately, so I didn’t get a photo, but here’s a photo of my walnut-crusted artichokes that look similar:

Francis made his signature Caesar salad which was out of this world.

The main dish was his sublime Fettuccine Alfredo (photo is at the top of post) using brown rice fettuccine noodles combined with a creamy sauce and a variety of colorful vegetables. The noodles (Tinkyada brand) had a wonderful flavor and great texture that really held up to the sauce.

For dessert, I made a decadent bananas foster ice cream cake (using Rice Divine vegan ice cream and a gluten-free crust). (I made some with pecans, some without.)

For the next evening’s dinner, Francis made a fabulous vegetable risotto featuring roasted Brussels sprouts, artichokes, mushrooms, and topped with asparagus.

We enjoyed it with a salad dressed with more of that amazing Caesar dressing. For dessert, I made my Fresh Fruit Cake (forgot to take a new pic - link is to a previous post).

Francis also made a wonderful mac and cheese for lunch one day. Served with steamed broccoli, it’s a favorite of his daughter, Elizabeth. The “cheese” sauce for the mac and cheese was a creamy blend of cooked potato, carrot, red bell pepper, garlic, and nutritional yeast with vegetable broth and rice milk. It was as good as any mac and cheese I’ve had. (The ridged elbow noodles were the same Tinkyada brand of brown rice noodles.

On their last night here I made my Crispy Stuffed Filet of Soy over brown rice with vegetables and for dessert, Coconut Custard Pie, made with a gluten-free crust. (forgot to take photos again - links are to previous posts.)

Then it was off to DC where we enjoyed a lovely Thai meal at Thaiphoon, and then off to the airport. We had a wonderful visit with our dear friends and enjoyed a week of delicious gluten-free dining.  Can you tell we ate pretty well?



Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Party Vegan Recipes on

I recently did a QandA interview at where two recipes from Party Vegan are also posted.  Be sure to send the link the feature to any grandparents you know -- especially any that may be curious about going vegan.  The recipes featured are the Fresh Fruit Skewers with Two Dips and the Baked Potato Skins.  These recipes are especially "grandchild-friendly" -- quick and easy recipes that grandparents can make with their grandchildren!  But wait, there's more...

After you check out the recipes and read my interview, while you're there, you can sign up for a free membership to the Benefits Club.  Here's the scoop: has teamed up with some amazing partners to create the Benefits Club, featuring discounts on food, travel, shopping, and more. Now, they’re offering Vegan Planet blog readers a year-long membership (a $19.50 value) for FREE. Simply head to the Benefits Club website  to create an account. Enter VEGANGP in the promo code field on the second signup page.

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