Thursday, March 27, 2008

vegan pepperoni pizza recipe

This is a great pizza recipe that I adapted from a non-vegan cookbook. I don't feel like giving free publicity to a cookbook that is full of meat and cheese recipes so I won't mention the title. But trust me - this is probably the most adaptable recipe in the whole book because it does not depend on pounds of cheese for the flavor.

I have never been a big fan of vegan pizza that uses a lot of vegan cheese - it has never tasted "really good" to me, more like "almost pizza." I also get tired of the typical tomato sauce and veggies. If you do end up with the tomato sauce and veggie pizza it is a lot better if you put your favorite salad dressing on it. I like that better than melted vegan cheese.

This is one of the pizza recipes I plan to feature on this website. It is unique and very tasty. Here is a bit of trivia to go along with this pizza. You can be the Cliff Claven of your pizza party with this: The Italian word for bell peppers is peperoni.

vegan pepperoni pizza
makes one pizza

> 2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
> 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
> 3 cloves garlic, chopped
> 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
> 1/4 tsp salt
> 2 oz. (or more if you like) sliced vegan pepperoni, coated in oil

1. Combine the peppers, onions, garlic, oil, oregano, and 1/4 cup water in a large skilled. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender. Add salt and let cool.

3. Spoon the vegetable mixture over a prepared pizza dough (recipe follows.)

4. Arrange the pepperoni evenly on top of the vegetable mixture, pushing the pepperoni in a little bit.

5. Bake in a pre-heated 500 degree oven, 6 or 7 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crisp.

pizza dough
makes one 12-inch crust

> 1 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
> 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
> 1 Tbsp oil
> 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
> 3/4 tsp salt
> cornmeal + extra flour

1. Combine the water, yeast, oil, flour, and salt. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or about 4 minutes in a standing mixer.)

2. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until almost doubled in size, about an hour.

3. Roll the dough out to about 12-inches diameter on a pizza peel or other flat surface that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal and flour.
my notes for this recipe:

1. If you have a bread machine it probably has a pizza dough cycle. This will take care of steps 1 and 2 for you.

2. The dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic overnight, or it can be frozen.

3. Coating the pepperoni in oil is important to keep it from burning while the pizza cooks. I add extra oil to most meat substitutes because they tend to be dry otherwise.

4. I have never tried making my own pepperoni but I found out from Vegan Dad that it can be done. I am putting this on my list of things to try. Update July, 2008: I tried the recipe from Vegan Dad and it was just as good as the stuff you can buy. I might add some red food coloring to it next time.

5. I have also never tried making my own vegan parmesan cheese substitute. I will have to give that a try too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Soy Milk - Make or Buy?

Here is a brief history of soy milk from my perspective:

164 BC - Soy milk was (probably) invented in China in 164 BC by Liu An of the Han Dynasty.

164 BC - 2001 AD - yada yada yada

2001 AD - When I first started eating a vegan diet in 2001 it was available at certain stores in aseptic packaging (the cardboard packages that don't have to be refrigerated until opened) or as a dry mix.

2008 and beyond... - Now you can find it at most grocery stores in the dairy section or in aseptic packaging. Even Walmart is getting a piece of the action with an organic line of soy milk marketed under its Great Value brand.

What is it? Soy milk is the result of cooking soy beans, blending them in hot water, and then straining out the pulp. Most commercially available soy milks are also flavored with salt, sweetener, vanilla, chocolate, etc. The pulp that is left behind is called "okara" and is high in nutrients and fiber. Soy milk is also a precursor to tofu. If you want to be a tofu scholar you should start at Wikipedia.

One attractive aspect of making your own soy milk is the cost savings. If you are a single person and rarely eat cereal, and never want to make vegan ice cream or pudding that calls for soy milk, then the price might not seem like a big deal. However a cereal loving family with one or more kids stands to save a lot of money if they decide to be frugal and make rather than buy. Here is a price comparison (based on prices at the time of this blog entry.) Note that the refrigerated and aseptically package soy milk typically comes in either a 1 quart or 1/2 gallon size. The prices in the table are based on the equivalent price per gallon.

Soy milk Price Comparison
storebrand packaging$/gallonnotes
WalmartGreat Valuerefrigerated$4.92store brand
Silkrefrigerated$5.52national brand
CostcoKirklandaseptic$4.00store brand
AmazonBetter Than Milkdry mix$5.00great for camping/hiking
homeyou choosepitcherpennies

As you can see there is a lot of money to be saved if you are willing to be milk some beans. A few years ago I was trying to be frugal and do just that. I purchased an automatic soy milk maker thinking I would use it all the time. What could be better than fresh soy milk that is easy to make and costs next to nothing?

What I found out was that I didn't like the flavor of fresh soy milk as well as what I could buy. From what I have read most people don't like the flavor as much. I also found out that it is not that easy to make.

The process of brewing a batch isn't difficult, but cleaning the machine and straining the milk is a real pain. I don't mind doing it once in awhile, but not every other day. If you don't strain it it will be gritty.

Another problem I had was with the soy milk going bad really fast (within 3 days). And when you have a batch turn sour, watch out. It smells bad and even starts to look slimy. If you are careful to scald everything that will touch the soy milk this will be less of a problem.

I had the best luck with Bryanna Grogan's always-creamy-never-beany recipe. This rice/soy milk tasted fairly close to what you can get from the store. If you do make your own and dislike the beany flavor of most homemade soy milk recipes then you should give hers a try.

If you want to try homemade soy milk without investing $100 in a maker you can do it the old fashion way, with a blender. I have never tried it this because I read that the temperature is difficult to control, and that getting the temperature right is critical to getting good flavor. The automatic soy milk makers (pictured below) have a built-in thermostat so the temperature is perfect every time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

vegan lettuce wraps recipe - kid version

My kids weren't very impressed with the lettuce wraps at the birthday party the other night. My oldest said that his favorite food that was served was the potato chips. I think he meant just the chips, he didn't mention the delicious vegan onion dip my Mom brought over.

This is the simple, kid friendly variation I came up with for them to try last night. Both boys ate them up .


vegan lettuce wraps - kid version

> lettuce leaves (butter lettuce works best)
> tofu
> hoisin sauce

1. Scramble and fry the tofu in a little bit of oil. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
2. Wash the lettuce leaves and pat dry.
3. Put desired amount of scrambled tofu and hoisin sauce on each lettuce leaf.
4. Roll each leaf up and serve.

My notes on this recipe:

1. You can use toothpicks to keep them closed if the kids are old enough that they won't try to eat them. Food with toothpicks has a certain coolness factor that kids pick up on.

2. Picky grown-ups would probably like these too. You might consider serving these alongside some more adventurous lettuce wraps if you will be hosting guests from the meat and potatoes crowd.

3. Hoisin sauce, also called Chinese barbeque sauce is a fragrant, pungent, sweet sauce used frequently in Asian stir-fries and marinades. You can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores. I have noticed that most grocery stores charge a high price for a small jar. I get mine (the kind pictured here) at a local Asian grocery store for about $2.


Be sure to check out these lettuce wraps.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

vegan lettuce wraps recipe

Lettuce wraps are great party food. I served these at my wife's birthday party last night and they were well received. Of all of the variations I have tried the Thai version in Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet (available from are my favorite.

The ingredients are pictured above starting with cilantro at the top of the large plate. Moving clockwise we have minced shallots, minced serrano peppers (the Vegan Planet calls for Thai chiles), chopped peanuts, toasted coconut, minced lime (the whole lime), and minced ginger. The brown 'sauce' in the middle is a combination of peanuts, tamari soy sauce, toasted coconut, and brown sugar. These ingredients are boiled until thickened and then blended until smooth (I posted the recipe below.) The wrapper is butter lettuce.

The first time I served these I pre-wrapped them before the party started. I remember they were a little sour because I used too much lime in each one. This time I just put the ingredients out in small bowls and let people wrap their own. Some people skipped the hot peppers, others skipped the shallots. I think people enjoy putting their own food together.

Biting into one of these is amazing - all of those strong flavors hit you at once. The leftovers were gone by noon today. Here is the recipe for the sweet and salty sauce:

Lettuce wrap 'sauce' (more like a paste)

> 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
> 1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
> 1/4 cup brown sugar
> 3 Tbsp tamari
> 1/3 cup water

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

This is one of 400 great recipes from Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet. For other sample recipes see my chili and corn bread post.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Free Vegan Cookbooks

The Vitalita Culinary Group (VCG) is offering two vegan cookbooks that you can download for free. Both books together offer over 150 original vegan recipes. You can access .pdf versions of either book by clicking the pictures at the bottom of this post. When I was looking through them The Blood Orange Sherbet caught my eye (pictured above) as well as the Saffron-Garbanzo Rice Pilaf Wrapped in Filo (pictured below.)

You can purchase printed versions of these cookbooks for $16 each from their website.

The electronic versions are free to download but are intended as shareware. Therefore, if you enjoy using them, you are asked to send a $10 contribution (for each cookbook) to show your appreciation. All proceeds from these cookbooks are donated to Vegan Outreach (a non-profit vegan advocacy/education group). You can send all contributions directly to Vegan Outreach at:

Vegan Outreach
P.O. Box 30865
Tucson, AZ 85751-0865 USA

Or you can make an electronic donation at

If you try any of these recipes, please leave a comment and let us know how it turned out!

Tangy Potato Salad Recipe

This is a recipe I adapted from an old Sunset Vegetarian Cooking cookbook. I am a big fan of potato salad. We typically make a traditional potato salad which is soft and creamy. This recipe is good too - I have never tasted anything like it. It is colorful, crisp, and tangy.

We have always served this during the summer. I have memories of green grass and barbecues and this salad. It would also be tasty during the cold months with vegetables from the last garden harvest.
Tangy Potato Salad Recipe
adapted from Sunset Vegetarian Cooking
makes 10 servings

> 1 lb potatoes
> caper dressing (recipe below)
> 2 medium granny smith apples
> 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
> 1 small red onion, chopped
> 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
> 15 oz. can pickled beets, drained and diced

1. Place potatoes in 1-inch of boiling water, cover, and cook just until tender when pierced (20 to 25 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, prepare caper dressing in large bowl.

3. Drain potatoes, cool, peel, and dice directly into the dressing.

4. Dice the apples into the dressing. Lightly stir in carrots, onion, green pepper, and beets. Cover and refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Caper Dressing...

> 3 Tbsp white vinegar
> 3 Tbsp capers
> 1/2 cup vegetable oil
> 2 tsp sugar
> 1 tsp dry mustard
> 1 tsp salt
> 1/4 tsp black pepper
> 1/4 tsp paprika

Stir ingredients together.

My notes for this recipe:

1. The original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp dill in the dressing. Dill makes me sick to my stomach. I can eat a dill pickle but that is about it. The recipe is great without it but if you like dill you might want to put it in.

2. This salad holds up well in the refrigerator. You can make it the day before serving and it will taste great.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vegan Salad Dressing Recipe Collection part 1

A trip to the salad bar is a trip we vegans often make when eating out. Things are normally satisfactory until the end of the line - where are the ingredients labels for these salad dressings? Most of the time I end up using vinegar and oil. Sometimes I take a chance and get the French dressing.

But you don't have to be deprived at home. There are plenty of tasty dressings available at the grocery store that make the grade. Annie makes some pretty good stuff, but be prepared to pay $3.50+ per bottle.

Here are some recipes for 4 basic vegan salad dressings that don't use weird ingredients and won't break the bank. Unless you consider vegan mayonnaise to be weird. If you haven't heard already, the best tasting vegan mayonnaise is Vegannaise. It is full fat and full flavor. You may notice that I lean more toward flavor and less toward low calorie on this site. But I do avoid transfat for the most part.

Print these out and keep them handy:
Vegan Ranch Dressing
from Dragonshoes at

> 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
> 1/2 tsp garlic powder
> 1/2 tsp onion powder
> 1/4 tsp black pepper
> 2 tsp parsley , chopped
> 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk

Whisk all ingredients together and chill before serving. Add a little more soy milk if you need to thin dressing.


Vegan Thousand Island Dressing
adapted from Graybert at

> 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
> 2 Tbsp ketchup

> 1 Tbsp white vinegar
> 2 tsp sugar
> 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
> 1 tsp finely minced white onions
> 1/8 tsp salt

> 1 dash black pepper

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well.

2. Place dressing in a covered container and refrigerate for several hours, stirring occasionally, so that the sugar dissolves and the flavors blend.

Vegan French Dressing
from Darlene Summers at

> 1 cup corn oil
> 1 cup ketchup
> 1/2 cup sugar
> 1/4 cup white vinegar
> 1/4 cup water
> 1 tsp garlic salt
> 1 tsp black pepper
> 1/4 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed.

Vegan Italian Dressing
from Darlene Summers at

> 1 cup salad oil
> 1/3 cup wine vinegar
> 1 tsp salt
> 1 tsp sugar
> 1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves, crushed
> 1/4 tsp dry mustard
> 1/4 tsp paprika
> 1 garlic clove, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid; cover and shake to mix thoroughly.

2. Let stand at least 2 hours to blend seasonings.

3. shake well before using.

For part 2 of this series I will try for some more exotic flavors.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

VegBlogs: Vegan Blog Tracker

I just discovered a great way to keep track of what is going on at multiple vegan blogs:

fetches the latest vegan blog posts from around the web to help you find stories and podcasts that interest you. "

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vegan Maple Citrus Glazed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

This has got to be one of the best things I have ever tasted from a grill. Sweet potatoes and fire get along perfectly. Don't be confused by the labels in the produce aisle. For the best flavor you want buy what the local grocer calls "yams". They aren't really yams at all - good luck finding a real yam. This is part of an elaborate conspiracy that is tied up with the fake moon landing, fluoride in the water, and the DHARMA Initiative.

Since the weather is turning warm again I hope to be posting more recipes that can be cooked outside, either on the grill or in the dutch oven. If it is still cold where you are you can still enjoy this recipe fresh from the broiler pan.

Maple Citrus Glazed Sweet Potatoes

> 1/4 cup lime juice
> 1/4 cup real maple syrup
> 1 Tbsp soy sauce
> 1 tsp mustard
> 3 garlic cloves, minced
> 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
> about 3 lbs sweet potatoes

1. Combine all of the ingredients except the sweet potatoes together in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Add the potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.

2. (grilling instructions) Use a medium heat fire and turn frequently. Baste with liquid from the bowl whenever the potatoes are turned. Grill until they are lightly charred and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

3. (broiling instructions) Leave adequate space between the heat source and the broiling pan. This can take some experimentation. Turn the potatoes frequently. Baste with liquid from the bowl whenever the potatoes are turned. Broil until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

My notes for this recipe:

1. If you substitute lemon juice for lime juice you lose a lot of the flavor.

2. Getting the right heat and the right distance from the flame takes some experience and experimentation. You might want to practice with one piece of potato at a time until you get it right.

3. You should use a vegetable grill rack (see below.) The pieces of potato have a tendency to slip into the fire.