Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creamy-Tomato Pasta in a Flash

As a cheese substitute I have been using Daiya brand vegan cheeses.  It is the only cheese at my local store that is both dairy free and soy free.  Almost all of the vegetable based cheese contains casein from milk, and the only other vegan cheese contains soy.  
Daiya makes three varieties, and of course I can only find two.  I am still looking for the pepper jack.  This dish uses the mozzarella and cheddar.  I like the Daiya cheeses, although it somewhat, but not completely resembles texture of American cheese when it melts.  It is different enough from American so that I like it enough to use it for pizza, pasta, and omelets.  (As you can tell, I am not a fan of melted American cheese.)
This is a quick and easy dinner to make.  The cheese melts giving it a nice and creamy taste.  I had some canned chicken to use up, so it was the seed for this recipe.  It was not enough to be the center of a meal on its own, but in a pasta dish, you would hardly notice.  You could easily leave the chicken out for a completely vegan meal.  Some chickpeas would make a nice substitute.  
Creamy-Tomato Pasta in a Flash (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)
Two Servings
1 cup of Daiya cheese mixed between yellow and white 
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
4 oz. can of mushrooms (drained, but reserve if you want to add in step 6)
3 oz. of tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 oz. can)
2 small onions
5-6 cloves garlic
10-15 canned olives halved
a few oz. of left over chicken or canned chicken
rice pasta of choice (enough for two servings)
Red Pepper Flakes
Red Wine vinegar
  1. Start salted water for pasta.  
  2. Begin dicing onions and mincing garlic, and heat oil in saute pan.
  3. Start cooking onions in pan.  
  4. Whenever pasta water is boiling, add and cook pasta for 3/4 of the time required on the package.  Drain; shock with cold water to stop cooking process.
  5. When onions are soft, add garlic, mushrooms, olives, chicken, and spices to taste.  Cook covered for a few minutes more before adding tomato products.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar.  Stir.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Add partly cooked pasta and a little water if there is not a lot from the canned tomatoes.  The idea is to allow the pasta to soak up any excess liquid without becoming soggy.  Allow to cook for a minute or so and test for doneness.  When pasta is almost done, add cheese to top and cover to melt.  Turn off heat if pasta is done.  Stir in melted cheese and serve.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poached Egg and Probiotics

Since giving up dairy I went looking for a new source of probiotics in an edible form of course.  One of the first I have tried is miso.  I did a google search for soy-free, gluten-free miso and found South River Miso.  They have three varieties that are both soy-free and gluten-free, and each of them is good.  My favorite is the Azuki Bean Miso stirred into hot water and drunk like tea.  I use the Garlic Red Pepper Miso in salad dressing.  It is great to have a rich tasting dressing for salad again.  I use the Garbanzo Bean Miso in the recipe below.
All of their miso contains live culture, so they only ship during the cool months of the year.  See their website for a shipping schedule.  It costs a bit up front, but if used in moderation the miso will last a while.  This was a product worth waiting for.  
Poached-Egg in Miso Broth (Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free)
Serving 1-2 (one meal or two sides)  You can easy increase this for more servings as needed. 
2-3 celery stalks chopped
2 small onions diced.
olive oil
sesame oil
hot water
1-2 eggs
2-3 tbsp. miso
  1. In pot or pan, add olive oil and sesame oil to taste.  Heat on medium-low heat and add chopped veggies.  Cook until onions are soft.  Celery can still be crunchy when soup is ready.
  2. Add hot water until the veggies are not quite covered (or a little more if making for two) and gently boil for a few minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and turn heat back to low.  Once broth settles, stir in miso and return to heat.  Do not go above a simmer once the miso has been added!
  4. Cover and simmer for one minute.  
  5. Form a well in center (or one for each egg) of pot by pushing veggies to sides and add egg.  Cover and cook egg.  I like my yolk super soft, so I flipped the egg with a rubber spatula rather than letting it cook sunny side up.
You can probably get a prettier more presentable egg if you use more water for your broth, but for my purposes, this method worked just fine.  The main part of the egg stayed intact and there were some extraneous bits of white floating about.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip When You Cannot Have the Cheese

Spinach-Artichoke Dip (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)
8 oz. raw almonds with skins
3 medium large onions
5 large cloves of garlic
4.5 oz. fresh spinach
2 - 14 oz. cans artichoke hearts quartered in water - not marinated
grape seed oil
olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Barely cook almonds in water that does not cover.  The skins should be loose.  You can remove them this way if you wish, but I left them on.  Drain.  
  2. Brown the onions and garlic with pepper in the grape seed oil and wilt the spinach in the pan.
  3. Combine above in a food processor and puree with drained artichoke hearts.  Add lemon juice and olive oil to taste (start with a quarter cup).  Check to see if you want to add salt.  You may not need to because there is salt in the canned artichoke.
This recipe make a fair amount, so if you are just making it for yourself, you should only make a half-batch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Chocolate Twist

The other week I had some leftover coconut milk and a craving for seven layer bars.  Solution: Substitute the coconut milk for sweetened condensed milk.  What I was using was canned coconut milk - not the light kind.  This meant that it was thick and ready to go without simmering water off, and there is no added sugar.  Using just what I had on hand, I made up the following recipe.  

Enjoy this picture I took in Brussels instead of chocolate bars 
because Belgium has wonderful chocolate.
Chocolate-Nut Layer Bar (Dairy Free, Gluten Free)
8” Spring form pan - greased lightly.
1 cup raw almond in skins
1 whipped egg white (or egg substitute for one egg)
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate mini-morsels (I used Enjoy Life brand)
1-2 cups Chopped walnuts
2/3 cups canned coconut milk
1 tbsp. raw sugar crystals (optional)
  1. Chop almonds in food processor until they resemble a course flour (should be fairly fine for chopped nuts).  You could also use a nut grinder if you have one.  Right before you are done chopping, add in sugar.  Transfer to large bowl.
  2. Whip egg whites into stiff or nearly stiff peaks.  Fold into nuts.  You do not need to preserve bubbles.  The point is to bind the nuts.  Transfer to greased spring form pan.
  3. Wet your fingers and press nut crust into place so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.  You want to set it, but not fully cook it.  Remove.
  4. Add the layers beginning with chocolate chips; then add walnuts to taste; and then drizzle on the coconut milk.  Sprinkle with sugar crystals if you like.  (Other options: kosher dairy-free butter scotch chips or a few tablespoons of gluten-free oats.)  
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.  The chocolate will appear to be mostly melted on top and the coconut milk will appear tan near the edges of the pan.  It will smell done, and like it it close to jumping to overdone.  
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature before removing ring.  Cut into 1 X 1 1/2” bars.  Put in fridge to chill.  Do not remove from base until fully chilled.  They are too soft to handle before chilling.  Store in an airtight container in fridge.
While this is not sugar-free, it is not excessively sweet because most of the sugar is just what is in the chocolate chips.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Update and Link to a Give Away

Hello my fearless readers, all 2 of you.  I might have more if I got around to blogging, but school keeps me busy.  I have been having many adventures with learning new cooking techniques and recipes.  Life did not slow down between summer studies and the fall, so I really have not had the time to write new pieces, although I have had many opportunities to develop new recipes.   This coming weekend, I hope to have a chance to make my own mochi.  Once that works out, maybe I can post about that.

In the meantime, I came across this give-away of a cookbook that fits right into the philosophy behind this blog - that food should be wholesome and nutrient rich.

The give-away is sponsored by Frontier Dreams.  The cookbook is The Organic Family Cookbook.  The give-away closes the 23rd.