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Preview: just the food. blog

a vegan blog. recipes and rantings about my adventures in vegan cooking

Updated: 2017-11-22T10:31:40.664-08:00


Holiday Helpers! Herb Crusted Coconut Chevre


Herb Crusted Coconut Chevre from Going Vegan (Front and Center: Smoky with Dill, Top: Smoky with Black Pepper, Right: Smoky with Paprika, Chipotle, Parsley and Smoked Salt) With this batch I made mini Chevres and wrapped them individually so that I could give them away to friends at work. I wrapped each chevre in waxed paper.
Every holiday get together deserves a yummy cheese plate! This one is nut-free and uses coconut flour. Get creative with your herbs and spices. I share a few of my favorite combos below, but there is no limit to what you can do here...

Herb Crusted Coconut Chevre
*Soy Free     *Gluten Free     *Nut Free
Trust me here. It really does work! The mild flavor and smooth texture of coconut flour lends itself nicely to this cheese. It also makes it suitable for those with nut allergies. You can shape this cheese in many ways. As a log, in a large wheel, mini chevres (perfect for gifting!), in blocks, or pretty much any way you want.

1 ounce (28 g) agar flakes or powder
3 cups (705 ml) water
2 cups (224 g) coconut flour
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) mild flavored vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Assorted dried herbs and spices for crust

In a medium pot, place agar in water over high heat. Bring to full boil. Boil five minutes, whisking frequently.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together coconut flour, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Into the boiling mixture, stir lemon juice, oil, and mustard.
Add dry mixture into the water-agar mixture and mix until well combined and resembling play-dough.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool enough to handle, but still warm and pliable. Keep covered, to prevent drying out while working.
Form into desired shapes and coat with herbs and spices.
Wrap with waxed or parchment paper or store in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. (The mixture will harden into a semi-firm “cheese” that’s perfect for crackers.)
It will last one week in the refrigerator and up to four months in the freezer.

Some of my favorite combinations:
-Add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the entire batch at the same time as the mustard. Coat with BBQ dry rub.
-Paprika, chipotle, parsley, garlic powder, smoked salt
-Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
-Garlic, lemon pepper, basil
-Fresh cracked black pepper

Yield: 2 pounds (908 g)

Holiday Helpers! Roasted Butternut Squash with Fennel


Check out this super easy, super tasty, super seasonal side dish to add to your holiday table!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Fennel
Such a simple list of ingredients! And when you have great ingredients, it's best
to let them do the work. A tad of olive oil, salt, and pepper is all it takes to make this lovely side dish that will add a punch of color and flavor to the plate.

1 butternut squash, Skinned, cored and cubed
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 full head of garlic, peeled and each clove cut in half
1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil to drizzle

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment or a reusable baking mat.
Prep all produce and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for about an hour, or until fork tender, tossing half way through.

Yield: 6 to 8 side servings

Holiday Helpers! Easy Vegan Cheese Ball


This purty little gal was originally featured in The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions. (Fairwinds Press, 2015) by me and Celine Steen. But I have been making a variation of this ball since way back in 2006 when we were working on 500 Vegan Recipes. What can I say? I love balls!

This is a simple stunner that is perfect to bring along to holiday potlucks and parties, and of course for your own festive gathering (even if it is a gathering of you and your furbabies spent on the sofa binge watching the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!)

This is it. In it's very plain and unadulterated state. Which is fine. It works. People like it that way. But, when I want to get really festive, I add in some dried cranberries or currants to the outside. I also like to use a variety of dried herbs and spices tossed with the almonds before coating.  Once I made a cracked peppercorn crust and that was a reeaaalllllly good one. Get creative! Have fun with your balls!

Sharp Almond Cheese Ball
*No added oil
*No added sugar

8 ounces (227 g) extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegan milk
1/2 cup (48 g) almond meal (raw almonds ground into a fine powder)
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot powder
1 to 2 tablespoons (18 to 36 g) miso to taste (the more the miso, the sharper the cheese)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 onion powder
1/4 cup (20 g) quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (45 g) sliced almonds (toasted or un-toasted, your call!)

Place all ingredients, except for the oatmeal and sliced almonds, into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. The mixture should be thick, not runny, about the same consistency of creamy peanut butter.
Transfer to a pot and mix in oats.
Heat over medium high heat for 10 minutes, constantly scraping and turning with a rubber spatula to prevent the mass from sticking to the bottom and scorching. The mixture will not boil. 10 minutes over medium high heat should be plenty of time to cook the oats, and activate the arrowroot, as well as evaporate excess moisture.
Remove from heat and cool completely in the refrigerator to thicken.
Place sliced almonds on a plate
Once cold, roll mass into a ball about the size of a navel orange in the palms of your hands. It will be sticky, but manageable.
Set ball on plate of almonds, then wash those hands clean.
Press almonds all over the ball by rolling the ball in the almonds on the plate.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Yield: one cheese ball

Smoky Pub Cheese


Smoky Pub Cheese from 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman (Fairwinds Press)

Smoky Pub Cheese
Have you been craving a vegan cheese that isn't made by blending cashews (or other nuts) and then having to wait a week (or more) while it funk-tifies? Yeah, that artisan vegan cheese making is best left to the professionals if you ask me! I like my homemade vegan cheese fast and easy!  And it seriously doesn't get easier than this. If you follow the microwave instructions you could be on the couch bingeing season 2 of Stranger Things in two minutes!

This one is a throw back to 500 Vegan Recipes (which is 8 years old already!!!) and is one of those recipes that was inspired by a product I used to buy and adore by Wayfare Foods. It was a hickory smoked cheese dip. I know the company still exists, but it doesn't look like they make this flavor anymore. So, I thought I would share this ridiculously easy recipe so you can get your smoky cheese dip on whenever you want to!

1 cup (235 ml) vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons (32 g) tahini
2 tablespoons (15 g) to 1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (78 g) quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons (45 ml) canola or other mild flavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (12 g) diced pimiento, or piquante, or pepadew peppers
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Mix together water, tahini, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in oats, oil, peppers, and liquid smoke. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to cool.
Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a tabletop blender) blend until silky smooth. The consistency will be that of thick peanut butter.

Microwave method:
Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a microwave safe dish. Heat on high for one minute. Stir. Heat at additional 20 second intervals until thick and creamy.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces, 336 g)

Eating Vegan on a Budget in a Food Desert Part 2: 7-Elempanadas


"7-Elempanadas" made with only ingredients available at 7-Eleven in North Long Beach.Welcome to North Long Beach, California.  Northtown (aka Northside, Norf Norf, or Uptown) is a community of 17 diverse and colorful neighborhoods, and filled with about 93,000 diverse and colorful residents.*Northtown is a working class neighborhood. Many families live here. In fact, it is home to roughly one fifth of Long Beach's entire population! The main streets are lined with small businesses, apartment buildings, and churches while the interior neighborhoods are filled mostly with modest two and three bedroom single family homes and duplexes. The homes and apartments here range from historic Spanish, and California Bungalows, to classic post World War II era little boxes, with a few unsightly (imho) ginormous stucco apartment buildings built in the 80s and beyond.North Long Beach is a vibrant part of the city. Full of diverse cultures, art, and hard working folks. From Left to right: A shiny new North Town firetruck from new Fire Station 12 on Artesia, The Harmony mural, Xochi Mochi reading to kids as part of the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, Jordan High School.It is also home to 84 fast-food type restaurants, at least 33 liquor stores, 17 gas stations with snacks and/or liquor, 6 mini-markets, and at least 2 dollar-type discount marts. Oh yeah, to serve all 93,000 men, women, and children, we also have four whole grocery stores. One Big Saver Foods, one Superior Grocers, and two Food for Less markets. We also have a Walmart and a Target. Just outside the line is a WinCo foods, but technically, that is in Lakewood.*According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the neighborhood was home to over 93,000 people. Roughly 54% of the population was Hispanic, roughly 21% were black, roughly 8.7% were non-Hispanic whites, and roughly 11% were Asian. There is also a significant Tongan and Samoan population.As I mentioned in the previous post, a food desert is when in a low-access community, at least 500 people, and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population, resides more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. The concept behind this is that it is reasonable for a shopper to be able to carry groceries one walking mile.The below map shows a grey circle mapping a one mile radius with my house dead center. You can move that gray circle all over the map and see that the MAJORITY of the people in this census tract, are indeed living in a food desert. Those two blue dots represent La Bodega Mexicana #1 and La Bodega Mexicana #2 (also Mentioned in my previous post) and they hang-out just on the edge of my one mile radius, and are the two markets I frequent most regularly when I need some produce and don't feel like trekking all over town.7-Eleven is a pretty much a staple in Long Beach. There are four I can walk to in my one mile radius and a total of thirteen in the city. I'm not gonna lie, it's where we stop most often when we just need a thing or two. And believe it or not, there are quite a few vegan options there. And while it is indeed a convenience store, they have stepped it up, lately, with their own private label products to offer some healthier options. Check out their "Better for You" (though not all vegan) page on their website. (I've purchased those watermelon cups on several occasions when making watermelon poke!)So I will give credit where credit is due. 7-Eleven saw an opportunity to offer a few fresh produce items and a few healthier options to their customers that will benefit everyone, not just those living in a food desert. But here's the thing. A watermelon cup at 7-Eleven costs about twice as much as watermelon from a grocery store. That's the real rub. It's not their fault. It simply costs more to sell fewer items in a small retail space than it does to sell mass quantities in a large one.My point is, that even when there are small corner stor[...]

3rd Annual SoCal VegFest Cooking Demo: The Monte Cristina


The Monte Cristina from Vegans Go Nuts! by Joni Marie Newman and Celine SteenLast weekend was the 3rd Annual SoCal VegFest held at the OC Fairgrounds. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of vegans, vegetarians, and veg-curious folks filled the humongous venue and enjoyed a weekend of learning, shopping, music, community, and of course, eating!As one of the Event Coordinators, my job is to organize and execute all of the Featured Chef cooking demos. It is a lot of work, but it is sooooo much fun. All day Saturday and Sunday the demos were packed and everyone had a great time.All nine of us vegan chefs! Left to right, and top to bottom: Chef Tanya Petrovna of Chef Tanya's Kitchen, Chef Lemel Durrah of Compton Vegan, Chef Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack, Chef Gwenna Hunter of Vegans of LA and Vegan Outreach, Chef Brian Manowitz aka the Vegan Black Metal Chef, Chef AJ of Eat Unprocessed, Chef Rod Rotondi of Leaf Cuisine, lil' ol me, and Chef Jenee Claiborne of Sweet Potato SoulWe had such an amazing and talented group of powerhouse vegan players in the group this year, and every single dish was not only delicious, but totally and completely different than the next. From sauteed greens to raw kelp noodle mac and cheese to a whole cauliflower feast to chili verde to seitan buffalo bites to maple mustard tempeh buddha bowls...My oh my did we teach some folks how to cook some awesome food this weekend!When it was my turn to get things started on Sunday, I did a brand new Monte Cristina from Vegans Go Nuts! The crowd loved it, and I promised to share it here today, so without further ado...The Monte CristinaA Monte Cristo sandwich is two slices of French toast filled with fried ham and cheese. It is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with fruit preserves. This is Cristo’s Latinx cousin, Cristina. She’s spicy and sweet, with a touch of sass.For the blackened tofu:1/2 teaspoon onion powder1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon turmeric1/4 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)1/4 teaspoon paprika1/4 teaspoon chipotle powderSalt and pepper1 block (1 pound, or 454 g) extra or super firm tofu (I love to use smoked tofu for this recipe), drained and pressed, then cut into 8 thin squaresFor the Spicy French Toast :8 slices of bread (this is a great way to use up stale bread)½ cup (120 ml) prepared Peanut Chipotle Ranch (see below)For the Sandwich:1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter1 cup (30 g) mixed baby greens,tightly packed16 slices of cucumber1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup1/4 cup (28 g) chopped peanuts¼ cup (30 g) nutritional yeastTo make the tofu: Add the spices to a re-sealable plastic bag or a shallow dish with a lid. Shake to mix. Add the tofu and shake to coat.To cook the tofu, you can panfry in a bit of oil, or bake at 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5) for about 15 minutes per side, or until blackened . . . but we love to use a waffle maker to cook the tofu so that it’s crisp and blackened on the outside, but soft, moist, and chewy on the inside. To do this, spray nonstick spray on the waffle iron, then place one layer of tofu inside and lock closed. It cooks perfectly, and you won’t have to heat up the entire oven to make it.To make the spicy French toast: Spread 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the Chipotle Peanut Ranch on each side of the 8 pieces of bread. Cook on a flat pan or griddle over medium-high heat until browned. Flip and repeat on the other side. Repeat with all 8 slices.To assemble the sandwich: Spread 1 tablespoon (16 g) of peanut butter on 1 side of each of the pieces of French toast.Layer 1/4 cup (7 g) mixed baby greens, 2 squares of blackened tofu, and 4 slices of cucumber to 4 slices of French toast. Then top with remaining 4 slices.Cut in half, if desired, and plate. Drizzle each sandwich with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of maple syrup, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon (7 g) each of chopped peanuts and nutritional yeast. We suggest eating this bad girl with a fork, a[...]

Eating Vegan on a Budget in a Food Desert Part 1: Roasted Potato Tacos with Radish Pico


Roasted Potato Tacos with Radish PicoFirst let me explain how I ended up living in a food desert. I grew up a few miles down the road from where I am currently living in a typical suburban neighborhood. A standard three bedroom house in a post-war tract of homes built in the late '40s and early '50s. Lakewood, California. I grew up in a middle class family. My parents were divorced by the time I was four years old, and I visited my father, who lived in the neighboring city of Bellflower, on the weekends and holidays. I had a very happy childhood. I never wanted for anything, and was safe, well fed, participated in after school sports, and was in lots of school activities. Yes, I was indeed a band geek. So, you could say I pretty much grew up in a very privileged home.As soon as I turned 18, I moved into an apartment with some friends. I moved to Long Beach (right next door to Lakewood) and knew from the first night I spent alone in my apartment, that Long Beach was my home. This place has such a gritty, colorful, creative, and diverse spirit, and over the years it has progressed into quite the amazing place. When I finally moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) we decided to get an apartment in Huntington Beach. From there we continued south into Orange County and lived in several places around the county before moving to our cottage in the woods of Trabuco Canyon for 6 years. All in all, we left Long Beach and lived behind the Orange Curtain for 15 years.Vegan Staples at 99 Cent Only StoresBut all of our friends, family, even work, brought us back to Long Beach almost daily, and we just knew in our hearts that it was time to go home. So in 2014, Dan and I decided to do just that. Move back home. But we are all grown up now. We are far too flipping old to be living in an apartment searching for parking and taking our clothes to the laundromat. Plus, as we were both encroaching on our forties, we were set on not paying someone else's mortgage anymore, and we wanted to own our own home. We began searching for a home we could afford with our salaries that wouldn't make us house-poor. We already learned that lesson once, and wanted to be much more responsible this time.We met with a Realtor and told her our budget and began looking daily at homes in our price range. We found some cute places in neighborhoods closer to the "hip" parts of town, but they were really tiny, with virtually no yard for the pups, and were surrounded by giant apartment complexes looking down on us. No thanks. Then we found the house we fell in love with. In North Long Beach. Like, really north. The area known as Northtown. Our house is not too far from Compton, but the house is nice, and the neighborhood seemed quiet. Mostly houses, ample parking, and in our price range. So we went for it!Great deals on produce at La Bodega Mexicana #1 & #2 on Atlantic Avenue in North Long BeachOur family and friends kept asking us, "Why would you move there?" My dad even scolded me for it. Told me it was a bad idea, and that our neighborhood was unsafe. And maybe that's true. Maybe it is unsafe. But, as soon as we moved in, I knew I was home. I mean, I fit in here. Not like in the OC where I constantly felt less than. Here, I know my neighbors by name, and we bring each other treats on holidays and attend each other's BBQs and baby showers. There is a real sense of community here. We look out for each other.There are absolutely no grocery stores close by. Plenty of liquor stores, 7-Elevens and "convenience" stores, greasy hamburger joints and Mexican Food restaurants, but no real grocery stores. Now, I used to work at Whole Foods Market, so I didn't really feel the pinch, I got what I needed after work and brought it home. And, to be honest, as a person of privilege, with the luxury of time, a vehicle, a decent income, and no children, I can still drive to a nice natural foods store whenever I choos[...]

Peanut Butter French Toast Dippers with Peanut Butter Maple Pecan Dipping Sauce


It's getting to be that time of year, even in sunny Southern California, where it's still tipping the therm at over 80 during the day. But mornings and evenings are indeed starting to get chilly, and the fall flavors of maple and pecan just feel right. This recipe originally appeared in Celine and my newest book, Vegans Go Nuts! (Now available wherever books are sold.)Peanut Butter French Toast Dippers with Peanut Butter Maple Pecan Dipping Sauce*Soy Free*Quick and EasyThis is a great breakfast treat when you have a big family, or the kids are having a sleepover, or you want to make a fun, casual breakfast. If you want to make a smaller batch, feel free. The dipping sauce is made with equal parts maple syrup and peanut butter, so adjust accordingly!For the Peanut Butter French ToastDay-old french baguettes (You can use any type of bread, but I like French bread for French toast!)1 1/2 cups (180 g) whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour (185 g), spooned and leveled1/4 cup (24 g) powdered peanut butter*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt1 1/2 cups (355 ml) nut milkOil for fryingPowdered sugar, as garnish, optional*Powdered peanut butter is ground peanuts with the oil removed. For the Peanut Butter Maple Pecan Dipping Sauce1/2 cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter1/3 cup chopped pecans, roasted or toastedTo make the french toast, first cut the baguette on the bias into slices 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick.Mix together flour, powdered peanut butter, cinnamon, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Mix in nut milk and stir until well combined. The consistency should be that of a thin pancake batter.Add enough oil to equal 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) deep and preheat oil to 350°F (180°C).Line a platter or plate with paper towels to absorb excess oil.Dip slice of baguette into the batter and remove excess batter.Carefully add battered bread to the oil and fry until golden, flip and repeat with the other side. Carefully remove from pan and transfer to lined platter. Repeat with remaining slices until all batter is used.Garnish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar if desired.To make the dipping sauce, stir together maple syrup and peanut butter until well combined. Fold in pecans. (If you are using raw pecans, chop them, then lightly toast them in a dry pan. This process doesn’t take long, so be careful not to burn your nuts!)Serve on a plate with a small dish for dipping. Alternatively, you can serve traditionally with the dipping sauce drizzled all over the top.Yield: Servings will vary, depending on the size of your baguettes and how small or large you cut them.[...]

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese & A Giveaway!


Squash Blossom Pizza from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking (page 63) by Celine Steen. Photograph by: Celine SteenI have never been so excited to do a cookbook review then I am to do this one. Celine Steen of Have Cake Will Travel fame is a long time dear friend and co-conspirator in the vegan cookbook scene. Her and I go way back to when we penned 500 Vegan Recipes together in 2008, and then went on to write several more cookbooks together. Even when we weren't partnering up to write, I still made sure to have her gorgeous food photography grace the pages of a few of my solo efforts. It's fair to say I had VERY high hopes for this tome.Nothing could make my heart swoon more than flipping through the pages of Celine's solo debut, Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking! From the cover, to the font, to the photos, and, of course, the recipes...just everything about this cookbook makes me squee!Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post to enter for a chance to win a copy of Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking for yourself!Let's break it down a bit...first let's just talk about the book in it's physical form. Just shy of square, the book is 8-inches wide x 9-inches tall and 208 pages. The pages are a semi-gloss and almost every recipe is accompanied by a full color, drop dead gorgeous photos. The binding is strong and sturdy, and lays flat when opened, which is helpful considering how much use it's gonna get in the kitchen!  I love them. The recipes are well laid out and easy to read. The fonts are, dare I say, even a little punk rock?Now let's get to the vegan meat of the book: Broken down into 4 chapters, Savory, Spicy, Sweet, and Staples, I really love the idea of grouping the foods together this way instead of breakfast..lunch...dinner...dessert. It makes the book so much more interesting to thumb through. Besides, who's to say we can't have Piri Piri Pizza for breakfast anyways? (It's on page 73 in the Spicy chapter if you were wondering.)The book kicks it off with a sweet dedication, "For the Animals, Always." Which, gawdamm, brought a tear to my eye. Then a quick introduction and guide to the recipe icons in the book (recipes are labeled if they are gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, or in a hurry) and then she' starts right in on the recipes.The recipes in this book are elevated vegetable based dishes that are packed with a depth of flavor, layers of depth, really. Respectfully inspired by world cuisines, the recipes combine spices and texture in a way I haven't seen done before in a vegan cookbook. Celine isn't veganizing here. She is creating some really beautiful and flavorful dishes. Harissa, miso, sesame, chilies, ginger, homemade pomegranate molasses, and maca are just a few of the bold flavor components you will find here.I highly recommend this book to any flavor lover. Vegan or not. I also recommend this book to seasoned, experienced vegans, who are looking to take their flavor game up a notch. Seriously! This is all new stuff here. Some excellent techniques, and really great recipes that will impress anyone you cook them for.But you don't have to take my word for it...Celine was kind enough to share one of the recipes with you so you can taste it for yourself!Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen.Squash Blossom Pizzafrom Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen (reprinted with permission from the publisher)This is a deliciously savory pizza made gorgeous with the use of squash blossoms. If you cannot find any at the market, replace them with any zucchini or summer squash of choice, thinly sliced into rounds. You will need approximately 1 large squash or 2 smaller to cover the surface; have extra handy just in case. I could see adding minced fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano or parsley on top of this. The sturdier herbs can be baked, while parsley would be best added only upon serving[...]