Sunday, February 24, 2008

Award Winning Vegan Chocolate Fondue Recipe

This is a recipe my wife created. We took it to a fondue party last night and it won the award for best dessert, hence the title of this post.

One of the other dishes we took to the party was the
vegan meatballs I posted the other day. these were served with a fondue pot full of Classico tomato and basil marinara sauce. I recommend this marinara if you don't have time to make your own. Unlike most marinara sauces you can buy these days it is not sweetened. The meatballs didn't win an award but they were all eaten up by the end of the night.

There was one funny thing that happened. We got to the party a little late and there was not much room left on the table to put our food out. We ended up with the crockpot full of chocolate fondue next to the casserole dish full of meatballs. We put a little label card on each that simply read, "vegan". After that we were standing in line and the hostess ran up to us and said that WE NEED TO MOVE THE CHOCOLATE! PEOPLE THINK IT IS BARBECUE SAUCE AND THEY'RE DIPPING THE MEATBALLS IN IT! Apparently people didn't notice the marinara fondue pot, but it seemed obvious that the two things marked "vegan" must go together.


> 12 oz. semisweet vegan chocolate chips
> 3/4 c. soy milk
> 1 tsp. vanilla extract
> 1/2 tsp. almond extract
> assorted bite size food for dipping (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, pretzels, cookies, brownies, etc.)

Combine the chocolate chips, soy milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a slow cooker. Turn the cooker on "high" and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Serve in a fondue pot, or in the slow cooker set on "low".

My notes on this recipe:

1. You can add extra soy milk to thin the fondue if you want to. You would probably need to do this if you wanted to use it in a chocolate fountain.

2. The fondue is the consistency of a stiff frosting at room temperature.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vegan "Meatballs" Recipe

This is an easy, great tasting recipe that I developed based on similar recipes that Chef Deb has posted on her discussion forum. These are great to serve at parties. I have seen non-vegetarians scarfing these down at my house.

In the past I have made a huge batch of these and frozen them. They tend to fall apart more after they have been thawed. But the taste and texture are not affected.

This recipe does rely heavily on pre-packaged meat substitutes. These always drive the cost of a recipe up. But they are very convenient and taste good. I have experimented with trying to make vegan "meats" at home but have had mixed results. I will post some of the recipes I have had the most luck with in the near future. If anyone knows of any vegan "meat" recipes that turn out as good as what you can buy, feel free to leave a link or copy of the recipe in the comments.

> 1 package Gimme Lean (Sausage or "Beef" Flavor)
> 6 oz vegan burger crumbles
> 1/2 cup cracker crumbs (saltines)
> 1/2 tsp onion powder
> 1/2 tsp garlic powder
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1/4 tsp basil
> 1/4 tsp salt
> dash of pepper
> 2 Tbsp olive oil
> additional vegetable oil for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or electric mixer. Form into any size balls you like. Brown on all sides in oil. Continue heating until hot throughout.
My notes for this recipe:
1. I typically use burger crumbles from Morningstar Farms.

These would probably work great in a deep fryer if you are going for maximum juiciness.
3. I have made these with both the "beef" and sausage flavor Gimme Lean. I like both, but I get the most positive feedback with the sausage flavor.
4. I have served these with pasta and marinara, with toothpicks covered with marinara, and with marinara fondue.
5. This recipe has me thinking about the meatball subs I used to get from Subway when I was (not vegan) in college. Maybe meatball subs will be on the menu next week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vegan Twinkies

I'm going to eat a Twinkie. Who woulda thunk it? Because they contain animal fat I have not eaten a Twinkie since becoming vegetarian, long before my transition to veganism. To tell the truth I never thought they were THAT good even when I was a kid. I always enjoyed my Mom's home baking more than anything that was available in a crinkly plastic wrapper. But now I will eat one just because I can.

I recently stumbled on this post at shmooed food that provides a recipe which, according to the reviews, tastes better than real Twinkies anyway. Now all I need is my own Hostess Twinkie Baking Set which is available at Amazon for the low, low price of $9.99 and I can live the dream.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Real Vegetarian Thai Sample Recipe: Simple Curry Paste Recipe

I highly recommend this Thai cookbook. The recipes turn out just as good as what you would expect to order in a restaraunt. Of course you have a lot more dishes to choose from since you don't have to worry about egg and fish sauce that is so prevalent in authentic Thai cooking. One of the recipes I use the most out of this book is the basic curry recipe posted below. This is what the author has to say about it:

" Here is my stripped down version of Thai curry paste, using ingredients available in many supermarkets. Make it in a flash and then turn a few spoonfuls of your freshly made paste into tonight's pot of curry. This will work in any recipe calling for a Thai-style paste."

The books also contains recipes for more authentic curry pastes with ingredients that you may need to get at an Asian grocery store. One popular ingredient in Thai cooking is lemon grass. I think I will try to grow some this year, and post the results here.

> 5 fresh serrano chilies, 3 fresh green jalapeno chiles, or 7 long, slender dried red chilies
> 1 cup coarsely chopped cilatro leaves and stems
> 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
> 1/3 cup peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
> 1/4 cup chopped garlic (15 to 20 cloves)
> 1 Tbsp grated lime zest
> 1 Tbsp ground coriander
> 1 tsp ground cumin
> 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
> 1 tsp salt

Stem the chilies and discard some of the seeds. Chop the fresh chilies coarsely. Soak the dried chilies in water to cover for about 10 minutes.

Drain the dried chilies, if using. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or mini processor and grind to a fine, fairly smooth puree, stopping often to scrape down the sides and adding a few tablespoons of water as needed to move the blades. Transfer to a jar, seal airtight, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 1 cup.

My notes on this recipe:

1. I have always used fresh serrano chilies and it has turned out well.

2. Most of the heat in the chilies are in the seeds, so use more seeds if you want it hot and less if you want it milder. What I like to do is make it mild but set aside a small amount in a dish. Then I blend all of the chilie seeds into the small amount and let people add that to their serving of curry if they want to spice it up.

3. You can also use red chilie paste to increase the heat, it is available in a squeeze bottle in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

I will be posting some Thai recipes in the weeks to come, some of which can be made with this curry paste.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Vegan Planet Review and Sample Recipes

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson is a great cookbook - one of the ones I use the most. It has over 400 recipes covering....everything. With over 70 reviews and a 4-1/2 star rating at how can you go wrong? These are the recipes that I have tried and recommend:

- Thai-Style Leaf-Wrapped Appetizer Bites
- Baked Sweet Potato and Green Pea Samosas

- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Balsamic Vinaigrette with Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Three-Fruit Chutney
- Chickpea and Green Bean Tagine (double the garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and allspice)
- Three-Bean Dal (I use a hand blender to partially blend this - I like it best when it is creamy)
- Red Bean Cakes with Creamy Coconut Sauce
- Irish Soda Bread

Here are two sample recipes from the book that go well together and that I make all the time:


> 1 Tbsp olive oil
> 1 large yellow onion, chopped
> 2 Tbsp chili powder, or to your taste
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1/2 tsp cayenne
> one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
> one 6-ounce can tomato paste
> 2 cups water
> 2 cups vegetarian burger crumbles
> 3 cups cooked or 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
> salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cayenne, tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the burger crumbles, beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Serve hot.

serves 6

Notes for this recipe: This is GOOD, rich, flavorful chili. Some of the vegan chili recipes I have tried in the past have been watery enough that I would argue that I was eating bean soup. And others taste too much like green peppers, or onions, or something else that is not CHILI. I typically use burger crumbles from Morningstar Farms. I have tried TVP but it does not work as well. I serve it with Fritos and guacamole but it tastes perfectly good on its own. Another good addition is chipotle flavored Tobasco sauce.


> 1-1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
> 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
> 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
> 1 tsp salt
> 1 cup soy milk or other dairy-free milk
> 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
> 1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen corn kernels, cooked and drained
> 1/4 cup corn oil
> 2 Tbsp finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the soy milk, maple syrup, corn kernels, corn oil, and chiles and set aside.

4. Heat a well-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. While the skillet is heating, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with a few quick strokes. Transfer the batter to the hot skillet and bake on the center oven rack until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

makes 1 loaf

Notes for this recipe: The chipotle chiles give this a great smokey flavor. I have made it without chiles and it turned out fine too. I have also made it with green chiles. The green chiles didn't add much flavor. Most of the time I substitute corn syrup for maple syrup and it doesn't seem to affect the flavor much. Whatever you do, do not use artificially flavored maple syrup. Your corn bread will taste like pancakes. I have always used an 8x8 glass baking dish instead of a cast iron skillet. This would be a good recipe to try in the dutch oven.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vegan Dutch Oven Pot Pie Recipe

This recipe takes a lot of preparation but it is worth it. It is adapted from the "Tofu Pot Pie" recipe in Tofu Cookery. The number of briquettes is based on a 12-inch dutch oven during calm, warm weather. You can adjust the number of briquettes for your oven and weather conditions by following the advice of the Dutch Oven Dude:

serves 12-16

Use a minimum 5 quart dutch oven. I used a 12-inch Lodge oven which holds 8 quarts. There was more than enough room for this recipe.

Have ready:

> approx. 2 lb firm tofu (not silken) frozen, thawed, squeezed dry, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
> 2 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes and parboiled for 10 minutes
> 2 cup carrots, sliced or cut into 1/2" cubes and parboiled for 10 minutes
> 2 cups frozen peas
> 4 cloves garlic, minced

Top Crust...

> 2 cups flour
> 1 cup vegetable shortening
> 1 teaspoon salt
> 1/2 cup water

Mix flour and salt with a fork. Cut shortening into flour/salt mixture with fork until dough appears crumbly. Add water a little at a time, until the dough can form a ball. Roll out dough on a floured surface to the diameter of the dutch oven. Cover with a damp towel while preparing the gravy and filling.


Heat about 24 briquettes. Place about 12 briquettes under the oven and allow it to preheat. To prepare the gravy, bubble together over low heat for about one minute:

> 6 Tbsp oil
> 6 Tbsp flour
> 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Whisk in:

> 3 cups water
> 3 cups soymilk
> 2 tsp salt
> 2 tsp sage
> 1 tsp thyme
> 1 tsp garlic powder
> 1 tsp black pepper
> 1 tsp paprika

Heat and stir with the whisk until boiling and thickened. Pour the gravy into a pan or metal bowl and wipe oven clean with a paper towel.

Putting it all together...

Saute together:

> 2 Tbsp oil
> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
> 1 tsp salt

When the onions are soft, add the garlic, tofu cubes, parboiled vegetables and peas, and simmer for about 2 minutes, mixing frequently. Mix in the gravy and cover with the pie crust. Put the lid on and arrange briquettes to bake at 350 degrees (about 18 on the lid, 6 underneath). Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden.