28 October 2009

Broccoli Rabe & Daiya Cheese with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Broccoli Rabe is probably my favorite vegetable. When I was living in Manhattan, I saw an article in the NY Times with a recipe for it, but I never cooked it. I did, however, clip the recipe and save it. The description of the slightly bitter greens and the strange small floret reminiscent of broccoli me intrigued.

A while later when I was staying in Hoboken, NJ, the section where I lived was an Italian section of town and every store store I shopped in carried beautiful broccoli rabe, fresh Italian bread from a coal oven, and home made mozzarella. One day, when I had time to cook, I picked up a bunch of broccoli rabe and made a recipe similar to the one below. I also had gorgeous fingerling potatoes, so they went into the oven as well, and my favorite dinner was created...

The NY Times recipe wasn't vegan, and Daiya cheese hadn't even been a gleam in the inventor's eye back then. I don't even have the recipe any longer but I salute whichever chef published it for me to see.

I don't need the recipe anyway, because every time I eat broccoli rabe, I eat it exactly the same way - sauteed with garlic chips and fingerling potatoes in herbes de provence. The only change I've made in 10 years is that I switched from 'real' parmesan cheese when I went vegan. I doubt I have any other recipe that I haven't 'improved' in ten years of usage. To my mind, this dish is absolutely perfect.

No one sells broccoli rabe where I live now. So, this year I grew my own, and this dish pictured is my first harvest!

Broccoli Rabe & Daiya Cheese with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
(serves 4 or more as side dishes)

2 pounds small fingerling potatoes, washed and dried
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 tsp herbes de provence
2 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 bunch broccoli rabe
8-10 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced thin
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
1/2 c Daiya Italian shreds (or vegan parmesan substitute)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C)

Toss fingerling potatoes with 1 Tbs olive oil, 2 tsp herbes de provence and 1 tsp kosher salt. Put on a baking tray in a single layer and bake. These will bake approximately 30 minutes while you do the next few steps.

Blanch and shock the broccoli rabe in boiling salted water. Set aside. Blanch - Submerge the rinsed broccoli rabe in boiling water for 2 minutes then move immediately to an ice water bath

Heat a 10-12 (25-30cm) inch skillet on medium low heat with 1 Tbs olive oil and fry the garlic slices until they are slightly browned Watch them closely, as they go from brown to burnt very quickly

Remove garlic slices to a small plate covered with a paper towel.

Chop the cooled broccoli rabe into 1 inch pieces.

Add the broccoli rabe to the skillet with the garlic oil in it and saute for 2 minutes with 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp of red chile flakes (or to your taste).

Add 1/2c water and steam the broccoli rabe until it is cooked to your preference - about 10 minutes. You can add a little extra water as needed. Make sure all the water is boiled off or drained before combining with the garlic and cheese.

When the broccoli rabe is done, remove to a small baking dish. Top with 1/2 c Daiya cheese, then the garlic chips.

When the potatoes feel nearly ready, add the broccoli rabe to the oven for the last 10-15 minutes of baking time.

Serve and enjoy!

Broccoli Rabe ready for the oven:

23 October 2009

Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese (Vegan)

Who doesn't like mac & cheese? Cheese is often one of the last things a vegan will give up. Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese... how can you live without them?

Luckily, there are some decent cheese alternatives on the market now. This recipe uses Teese Creamy Cheddar from the Chicago Soy Dairy to make a simple yet delicious mac & cheese. This product comes in a flexible plastic tube and feels very gooey and strange in the packaging. But it is meant for melting, and melt it does.

Both Tae and I have made this for non-vegans and every one of them loved it. Make plenty if you want leftovers. Yes, this is really that good, especially if you add some broccoli and chopped roasted red bell pepper to it. And, in my mind, the leftovers are even better.

Depending on how you like your mac & cheese, you may want to increase the bechamel sauce to 3 cups. Altered instructions for that are at the end of the recipe.

Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese (Vegan)
preheat oven to 350F (175 - 180C)

12 oz (by weight) dry elbow pasta (about 350g)
salted cooking water

2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs olive or canola oil
2c lukewarm soy or almond milk
1 tsp salt

1 10 oz tube Teese Creamy Cheddar
1 Tbs Earth Balance

bread crumbs - optional
broccoli florets - optional
roasted red bell pepper, chopped - optional
frozen peas - optional (do not require advance cooking)

If using the broccoli (or cauliflower, etc), dump the broccoli florets into the pasta water when it boils, prior to cooking the pasta. Boil one minute, remove to a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. The water will be slightly green but will not color the pasta.

Boil the pasta in well salted water for as little as possible to make it edible. Reserve 1/2 c cooking water. Drain pasta and return to the pot.

While boiling pasta, make 2c bechamel using the next 4 ingredients. Start by melting the oil in a saucepan. Sprinkle the flour over the top and whisk together. Cook for a minute then gradually whisk in the warm milk. Go at a moderate speed to eliminate lumps. After the milk is in, gradually bring nearly to the boil on a medium heat. Watch carefully so it doesn't boil over.

When the milk bechamel reaches boiling, remove from the heat, add the Teese in chunks and stir to melt. Taste and add 1 tsp of salt if needed.

In the pasta pot, mix pasta and sauce well. Add veggies if using.

If it looks too thick to you, add some or all of the reserved cooking liquid and stir it in.

Dot with 1 Tbs of Earth Balance, and scatter lightly with bread crumbs, if desired.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Spread into the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake 30 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered if desired.

Note If you are used to more sauce, try increasing the amounts in the bechamel to these:

3 Tbs flour
3 Tbs olive or canola oil
3c lukewarm soy or almond milk
1 1/2 tsp salt

22 October 2009

Vegan Bread Pudding - Quick & Easy

The summer has seen a lot of canning, juicing and jam making. One of my interesting discoveries was Pomona's Universal Pectin. Unlike most pectin, which requires a large amount of sugar to set, Pomona's uses a calcium water to set the pectin, virtually freeing you completely from sugar and allowing any sweetener you wish, in any amount. It's amazing and works great. I'll never go back to normal pectin.

While looking at some of the Pomona recipes on their web site, I noticed that they had a recipe for setting milk directly into a pudding using Pomona pectin. I emailed for more info, and then decided this might be a simple way to make non-dairy bread pudding. Normal bread pudding sets a custard made of dairy and egg, but using Pomona's neither of those are required.

This bread pudding is not only incredibly simple, it tastes great. I used banana because that's what was on hand, but you could use raisins, sauteed apples, blueberries (my next attempt) or whatever you wish. The amount of sweetener is also completely variable. You could also dot the top of the pudding with more Earth Balance is you wanted a richer taste and browner top. Or leave out the sugar and make a savory bread pudding. Technically, you don't even need the bread in this... So, experimentation is the order of the day.

Vegan Bread Pudding

2 c soy or almond milk
3/4 c raw sugar - divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground wattleseed (optional)
1 banana - mashed
3 c dried torn (vegan) bread
1 tsp Pomona Pectin calcium water
1 tsp Pomona pectin
1/4 c Earth Balance vegan 'butter'

Preheat oven to 350F (175C)
Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray
Mix the Pomona pectin in a small dish with half the sugar and set aside
Add the soy milk to a saucepan and add the calcium water
Slowly bring the soy milk almost to a boil.
Add the sugar without the pectin and stir til dissolved
Add the sugar-pectin combination and whisk to get pectin dissolved evenly without lumps.
Add Earth Balance and stir briefly to start it melting
Remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl - mash the banana
Add vanilla and spices to the banana and mix.
Add the soy milk mixture to the bowl and whisk together.
Add the bread pieces and mix well.
Scrape bread mixture into your prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes.

Serve with Soyatoo 'whipped cream' on top.

Note - the bread pudding will set up even without baking. The baking is not to cook the custard liquid but to brown the bread tips on top.

Pomona's Universal Pectin can be ordered directly from the manufacturer at www.pomonapectin.com

For a variation, you can leave out the banana and mix in 1/2 - 2/3 cup frozen blueberries right before baking.

revised 26-10-09

20 October 2009

Hatch Chile and Teese Enchiladas

The local store had fresh Hatch chiles today, which is a rare event here. They normally get some around the Hatch Chile Festival, no one buys them, and they mostly go bad. Last year I bought all they had left and canned them.

As any chile lover knows, no matter what kind of chile you like, Hatch probably does them best. There is a wide range of chiles grown in the area but the long green ones are what are normally sold fresh as Hatch chiles.

So, Hatch chiles on the counter and I have a new Teese product called 'nacho sauce' to try. Delicious black beans cooked in the fridge (sourced from Rancho Gordo - fantastic black beans called midnight black). Leftover corn tortillas in the fridge. Sounds like a plan.

Teese is a vegan cheese substitute made in Chicago. Vegan 'cheeses' conjure up all sorts of controversy. Does it melt, is it stringy, does it taste like play-do or cheese, and on and on and on. Every brand seems to have fans and detractors. I find the Teese fake mozzarella very good on pizzas and lasagna, etc. The regular cheddar is ok. The creamy cheddar one makes great mac & cheese, and this is my first try at the nacho sauce cheese. Teese comes in a plastic tube like bulk sausage and has a strange texture straight from the tube. It is shiny like plastic and slightly rubbery. But it actually ends up being pretty good when it is used in cooking or on grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.

Teese creamy cheddar and nacho sauces are very soft in their tube. They exude a little water, so be careful when opening it as the water will squirt on you if you press too hard while cutting it open. You can make a bechamel sauce and melt the Teese into that and use that as your cheese sauce. But the nacho sauce flavor is fine on its own. I opened it and used my fingers to squish it around over the enchiladas. Squish is the best description I can give you. When it is melted, you can smooth it around a little with a spoon if it didn't flow around well enough.

Hatch Chile and Teese Enchiladas

1 1/2 c chopped mild Hatch chiles
1 c black beans
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp NM mild chile powder
10 corn tortillas
1 10 oz tube Teese nacho sauce

Preheat oven to 350-375F

Spray cooking spray on a dish about 7 x 10 inches or so, like a small lasagna dish.

Blister and peel your chiles. You'll probably need 8-12 chiles depending on their size. Blister them until the skin is black. Toss them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15-30 minutes, then remove the blackened skin and seeds. Chop the chiles.

I use the gas burners on the stove but you can also do it under the broiler. If the chiles you have are HOT, then do it outside on the grill. Blistering hot peppers inside can be a painful experience. I love chiles and eat them daily, but I still fear airborne capsaicin. It will hurt your eyes, make you cough and is hard to ventilate out the windows.

Using heat proof tongs, char your tortillas a little.

Again, I just lay them down on top of a burning gas flame and turn them after 15 seconds or so. You can also heat them in a cast iron skillet, a comal, outside on the grill or inside on a grill pan. You want them to turn soft and get a little black char on them

Combine the chiles, beans, garlic powder, salt and chile powder in a bowl and mix well.

Fill each tortilla with a couple of spoons of filling, roll them up and put them seam down into the dish.

Squish the Teese over the top evenly.

Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes covered. Remove the foil and continue to bake another 10-15 minutes until it is bubbly.

Serve with jalapenos, vegan sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or hot sauce.

Note: These are even better as leftovers. They can easily be re-heated in the microwave