20 November 2009

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Daiya Cheese

I enjoy watching the Food Network quite a bit. Although it is a vast wasteland for vegetarians and vegans, some of the ideas can be converted. It does give one pause though, or should, when one of the most venerated cooks on TV is best known for laughingly adding a stick of butter or more, to every dish she makes. Is that really funny?

One of the most annoying things of nearly EVERY show is at least one reference to how 'bacon makes everything better'.

Yeah, well, maybe not for the pig.

On some of their competition shows, you just know, as soon as a contestant mentions 'vegetarian', 'organic', holistic' or 'vegan', they are going down in flames. Quickly...

During the series of Food Network Thanksgiving shows, one of the pig mad chefs made a Brussels sprout casserole of some sort. All I remember of it was that it had bacon in it. But it did put me in the mood for Brussels sprouts, and surprise, the store had them on sale the very next day.

Lately, I have been obsessed with using Teese creamy cheddar to make mac & cheese. I demand that the Brussels sprouts MUST comply to my current cheesy madness. So, I thought, gratin topped with some of the Daiya Italian Shreds that I had just bought (5 pound worth...) might work well on a cool November night. They certainly did not disappoint.

I use smoked Spanish paprika and some chile de arbol powder for some smoke and heat. You could substitute some chipotle powder for those if that's what you already have on hand. I also add Bacon Salt directly over the sprouts to boost that 'bacon flavor', but it really isn't needed unless you are looking for a faux bacon hit, or maybe serving non-vegans.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Daiya Cheese
Serves 3-4 (see note below)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed
1 Tbs + 1 tsp salt (divided)
1 Tbs Earth Balance 'Butter' or olive oil
1 Tbs all purpose flour
1 c soy or almond milk, slightly warmed
1/2 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp chile de arbol powder (or add some Tabasco)
1 tsp Dijon whole grain mustard
1/2c Daiya Italian shreds
1 tsp Bacon Salt (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
If your bakeware can do it, put the baking dish in the oven to get hot. I use a cazuela that is pretty much non-stick. If you need to do so, lightly oil your pan or spray it with cooking spray.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil with 1 Tbs salt.

Boil sprouts for about 7 minutes or until starting to get tender.

Shock the sprouts in an ice bath and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs Earth Balance in a small pan.

Add the flour and whisk for a minute until.

Gradually add the soy milk while whisking to incorporate it all.

Add 1 tsp salt, paprika, and mustard and stir well.

Turn off heat.

Dry the sprouts and cut in half from top to bottom.

Carefully remove hot dish from oven and CAREFULLY lay sprouts cut face down into the dish and them evenly distribute what is left.

If using, sprinkle the Bacon Salt over the sprouts.

Pour bechamel evenly over the sprouts.

Top with Daiya shreds.

Bake about 20-25 minutes until the Daiya starts browning and it is bubbly around the edges.

Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

Note - use about 6-8 ounces of sprouts per person you need to serve as a main dish, half that for a side dish. For each person, use about 1/2c bechamel sauce and 1/2 tsp of mustard, 1/4 c of Daiya.

14 November 2009

Spicy Orange Broccoli & Tofu

This is an updated version of our Spicy Broccoli & Orange Tofu recipe of March 17, 2009. This newer version is much closer to a 'restaurant version' and still very simple to make. I've tried a dozen versions of this dish, because I love it, but I've never had a recipe for it that was nearly as good as this one.

The original restaurant versions of this dish used small pieces of deep fried chicken tossed with red chiles in a spicy-sweet orange flavored sauce with an otherworldly color to it, and served with florets of steamed broccoli.

Obviously, a vegan or vegetarian version is not going to use chicken. In this version, we use baked tofu, but if you can't find that, you can use a 14 ounce block of drained, pressed extra firm tofu instead. Baked tofu is already pressed and dense and ready to go.

Another option would be to soak about a cup of Butlers Soy Curls in either chicken flavored or beef flavored vegan stock, and stir fry the soy curls.

I also cook the broccoli in the same pan as the sauce and tofu. It might be more authentic to steam the broccoli separately and add them together at the end, but I just toss it all together to eat anyway. And this way, I save washing another pan...

Spicy Orange Broccoli & Tofu
serves 4


1 1/2 Tbs oil
1-8 small dried red peppers (to taste)
8 ounces baked tofu, chopped into 1/3 inch squares
2 cups orange juice
zest from oranges (if using fresh squeezed juice)
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
2-3 Tbs raw sugar
1 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
2 crowns broccoli, in florets
2 carrots in coins
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbs cold water

cooked brown rice


Heat a 12 inch saucepan over medium heat.

Add oil to hot pan.

Add the tofu and red chile peppers and saute until the tofu is browned.

Remove tofu and chiles to a plate.

Add orange juice, zest, if using, pomegranate molasses, mirin, 2 Tbs of the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce to the pan and boil over high heat to reduce.

If you want a spicier dish the red chile peppers back to the pan now.

When sauce is reduced to about 1/3 in about 10 minutes, check for sugar and salt. If you need to, add a little more soy sauce, or the other Tbs of raw sugar and stir them in until they are dissolved. Add the chile peppers back now if you haven't already done so.

Add the broccoli florets and carrot coins.

Saute, still over high heat, until broccoli is tender but still slightly crisp.

Add the cornstarch slurry and stir rapidly while sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and serve over plenty of hot rice.

10 November 2009

Split Pea & Wild Rice Stew

We've had a few days of warm weather and it was easy to forget that it was November and we really weren't meant to be wearing shorts... So, mother nature decided to bring us back to reality this morning with some cooler weather. What better day to make a hearty, filling vegan stew?

Split Pea with Wild Rice

1/3 c chicos, prepared (see below) (optional)
2 Tbs canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 small or 2 large carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 c wood parched wild rice, rinsed
1 c split peas, rinsed and sorted
1 tsp hickory powder
2 tsp Massels or other vegan stock powder
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1 1/2 c cooked lentils (optional - about 1 can)
2 tsp Bacon Salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
5 c total water

In a large Dutch oven, saute the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the carrots and saute for about a minute. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Simmer covered for 25 minutes up to 40 minutes until rice is cooked and the split peas have the texture that you like them to have.

Taste for salt and add more if it's needed.

Serve with croutons or vegan parmesan cheese. I used Calbee's Sugarsnap Pea Crisps (those things are addictive...) and crusty bread slices. Only the plain 'original' snaps are vegan.

Need more heat? For this dish, I recommend 1/2 - 1 tsp Aji Amarillo chile powder for some heat and a citrusy taste. Or add 1/2 - 1 tsp chile de arbol powder for pure heat.

Wood parched wild rice. My favorite wood parched wild rice is from Farm Next Door . The rice used this particular night was 'standard grade' from KC's Best Wild Rice

Note Preparing chicos. Chicos are corn kernels dried by smoking in NM. To prepare, soak them overnight in clean water. Pressure cook them for about 40 minutes, using the soaking water. If you don't have a pressure cooker, simmer them in a pot for about an hour using the soaking water. Use all the cooking liquid as part of total water called for in the recipe.