29 January 2010

Daiya Eggplant Parmigiana

This recipe is a vague offshoot of a Mario Batali recipe. In that recipe, he bakes the eggplant first before assembling the parmigiana, thus eliminating the frying step. I personally find eggplant parmigiana with fried eggplant to be far too greasy and this technique eliminates the problem.

This is a fairly simple recipe and shows the excellence of Daiya cheese to real advantage. This would also work fine with Teese vegan mozz, but I think the Daiya is as close to real mozzarella as you could get here.

The red wine in the sauce is optional, but recommended. I used a California zinfandel in this dish and it was excellent. Any dry red wine that isn't heavily oaked should work fine.

A salad goes very well with this dish. I had an organic herb salad with Amy's Tuscan salad dressing. Any of the Amy's vegan dressings would be fine, but the sharpness of their Tuscan is especially nice with this. Eggplant parmigiana has a very rich mouth feel and the vinaigrette cuts that nicely.

Daiya Eggplant Parmigiana

2 medium eggplant
ground coriander
olive oil

1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, minced, optional
1/2 t marjoram, dried
1/2t thyme, dried
1 t raw sugar
3 c vegetable juice (low sodium)
1/2 c red wine (optional)
1 t salt
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1 c Daiya 'mozzarella' cheese
2 T vegan parmesan cheese
1 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs water

Preheat oven to 450F.

While oven is heating, wash and slice eggplant into 1 inch slices. If you prefer it peeled, peel before slicing.

Lay eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ground coriander seed.

Drizzle very lightly with olive oil.

Bake eggplant for about 10 minutes

While eggplant is baking, sweat onion and garlic and chile, if using, in a 2-3 qt saucepan until translucent.

Add marjoram and thyme and stir.

Add juice and red wine, if using, and bring to a low boil.

Boil juice until it is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 of its volume, reduce to simmer.

Mix cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl.

Add to the juice and stir until juice mixture starts to thicken, maybe 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove eggplant from oven and reduce heat to 350F.

Put 1/2 the eggplant into a layer into an 8x11 pan.

Sprinkle the layer with 1/2 the Daiya cheese, half the vegan parmesan cheese and several ladles of sauce.

Make a second layer and repeat. it is not necessary to use all the sauce. Use as much as you like, but it is excellent with bread.

On top, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs. Optionally, lightly drizzle some olive oil over the top.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until sauce is bubbling and the top is turning golden and crunchy.

Serve with a salad and plenty of good bread to sop up the sauce.

18 January 2010


While I don't pretend to know anything about authentic mofongo, I have read about it and it is a flavor combination that seems like a great idea. Anyone who has had plantains as tostones or plantain chips knows that these are NOT just a really big, really ugly banana. They are a starchy food that can be used from its green state with no sweetness to a totally black state with a lot of sweetness.

For this recipe, I used a plantain that was nearly yellow and just slightly green but a yellow one with some black spots would also be fine. It is very easy to make and very quick if you use canned peppers.

I add a poblano pepper under the plantain and bean to give another level of flavor. Poblano peppers have little heat to them but if you are worried, you could also roast a green or red bell pepper. If you are really in a hurry, just use some chopped red bell pepper from a jar or green chiles from a can.

makes 2 servings with other side dishes

2 poblano chiles (if using)
1 large plantain
5-6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 c cooked beans
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Blister, peel and seed your poblano peppers, if using. Roughly chop and set aside.

Heat a stainless or hard anodized skillet over medium heat. do not use a non-stick pan. Non-stick pans can give off harmful fumes when used like this

Toss your garlic cloves onto the skillet and let them pan roast in the dry pan. Turn them every minute or so. Cook them until they are soft when squeezed with your tongs.

While the garlic is going, take your plantain and cut off both tips. Carefully, cut a slit on either side of the plantain just through the skin. Wrap in a paper towel.

Microwave about 2 minutes and check if for softness. If not soft, turn it over and microwave another minute and check. Continue until it is soft when you squeeze it.

When the garlic is soft, remove to your cutting board.

Add the beans to the skillet with the cumin and heat them.

Peel the garlic and toss them into a mixing bowl. Using your fork, smash them up. When the plantain is finished, peel it and add it to the bowl, smashing it up with the garlic. Add the salt and mix.

To serve: place chopped poblanos on the plate. Add the plantain mixture over it. Spread the plantain mixture to make a hole in the middle and add the beans. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime.

05 January 2010

Rustic Blue Corn Tamal

I love tamales but nearly all of them have meat or lard in them, so, I learned to make my own. They are a fair bit of work but really not difficult. However, there is an easier version that Rick Bayless calls a 'rustic tamal'. These are like a 'super tamale' and are traditionally baked wrapped in banana leaves. I don't know about you, but I have never even seen a banana leaf for culinary use, so I'll stick to good old aluminum foil.

I have often seen Bobby Flay using blue corn masa on Iron Chef but have never seen anywhere to buy it. Blue corn masa is not the same as blue corn meal. Masa is dried corn which has gone through a process involving lye/wood ash and it removes the outer skin and releases some of the nutrition of the corn that would otherwise not be available to your body. I was happy to find some from NM, at Jane Butel's Cooking School.

The day the masa arrived, I had already planned to make a dish based on Missouri Native Americans' use of corn, squash and beans together in a stew. Why not mix the two ideas and have a native type stuffing for the tamal?

The Native Americans also used buffalo fat, but we're vegan here, so that is definitely out... In fact, most tamale/tamal recipes call for quit a bit of lard, which, even when you substitute vegetable shortening is, in my opinion, way too much fat. The normal recipe for this would call for at least a cup of shortening. I have trimmed that down to about 1/3 of a cup.

You only need a small winter squash for this, or you could use leftover squash. I used a Sweet Dumpling, but delicata would also be excellent in this, or Heart of Gold.

Rustic Blue Corn Tamal

2 c blue corn masa
2 c stock, divided
1 t baking powder
1/4 c shortening
2 T olive oil

1/2 c corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 c cooked beans, drained
1 c small winter squash
1 t salt
1 t chile powder
1/2 c Daiya cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C

Spray a 5x7 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Hydrate your masa by adding the masa to a mixing bowl with 1 1/4 c cool stock. Mix well so all the corn is damp. Set side 5 minutes.

Take your winter squash and cut it in half lengthways. Remove seeds and place halves cut side down on a microwavable dish.

Add 1/4 c water, cover with plastic wrap and poke 2 or 3 slits in the plastic. Microwave for about 6 minutes until fully cooked. Uncover and set aside to cool a little.

While the squash is cooking roll your masa into a ball and set on the chopping board. Add the shortening, oil and baking powder to the bowl. On a low speed, use your mixer to froth up the fats and baking powder. Add the masa back to the bowl as your beat it together, adding more cool stock as needed to keep it soft. Continue until all the masa is incorporated.

Put masa in the fridge until it is needed. Leave the mixer out.

Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the beans and corn and a little of the leftover stock. Take the cooked squash and using a spoon, dig out about a cup of small bites or balls of squash. When the beans are hot, add the squash, chile powder and salt, mix well, and turn off the heat.

Remove the masa from the fridge. If it has firmed up some, add a little more stock and beat it some more. Corn doesn't have gluten, so you don't have to worry about over-beating it. The masa mixture should be soft and not quite as runny as a muffin batter.

Take half the masa and put it into the loaf pan. Using the back of a silicon spatula or spoon, spread the masa all along the bottom, into the corners, and start pulling it up the sides. You want it to look like a masa bowl inside.

When you have the bottom layer, add the cheese, if using, then pour the filling into the middle of the loaf pan and spread it out. Press it down slightly so the top surface is flat.

Add the rest of the masa and spread it evenly over the top.

Cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325F, 165C and bake another 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake another 15-30 minutes until the top feels crunchy and firm and the sides have pulled away from the pan.

Dump the loaf pan out onto a plate for easier slicing. Serve a slice over greens with garnishes of vegan sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or chopped chiles.