Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Time is for Salad Rolls

Salad rolls are great since they taste fresh and don't have to be cooked. This means you don't have to heat up your house to enjoy a good meal in the summer time. The most important part of the salad roll is the rice paper for the outside. Once you have that, the insides are up to you! If you can find a vegan "ham", this works really well. I got some from an Asian food market called Fubon made by VegeFarm. I simply cut the "ham" into long slices and cooked them before hand. You can also use cooked tofu, tempeh or seitan and simply season it with Braggs. Just vegetables for the salad rolls will work well too!

I liked cutting everything in long slices to better fill the rolls. You can fill the rolls with bell peppers (red is my favorite), green onion, avocado, carrot, cucumber, beets, cabbage, celery, greens, lettuce, spinach, kale and whatever else you can think of.

I enjoy making a sauce for the rolls. I make a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and use very fresh and crispy vegetables. You could also use vegetables to go with other sauces such as a sweet mustard sauce, peanut sauce, bbq sauce, sesame tamari, tahini, italian and the list can go on as far as your imagination.

The hardest part of making the salad rolls is dealing with the rice paper. These come in round circles and are dried. What I use to soften them is some warm water in a large bowl. I have found cold water does not soften the papers fast enough, and hot water makes them too soft to work with. I place three rice papers in the water at a time and it takes less than a minute to get it soft. I place a paper towel on a plate and when I take out the rice paper from the water, I straighten it out of the towel. I take a second paper towel and blot the rice paper dry. Then, I start adding fillings to the middle. I leave at least an inch on both sides of the rice paper for rolling.

Once I am done with the fillings, I wrap up the inch long ends and then roll the rest of the paper up as tightly as I can. I set it aside and start over. This will take practice!

Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

2 Roasted Red Peppers
1/3 cup Veganaise

Blend these two ingredients in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth. This also works great for dipping artichoke hearts and asparagus. You can also use it for sandwiches instead of regular Veganaise for a great change.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sweet Tooth Favorite

I have a serious sweet tooth, which is why I have 3 favorite desserts; ice cream, cakes and cookies. My favorite cookies are Chocolate Chip Cookies, but the funny thing is I don't like too many chocolate chips in them. I want at least two good bites with no chocolate in them.

That is why I developed my own cookie recipe almost 10 years ago. These chocolate chip cookies have been through a lot. I share them with friends, bring them to potlucks and always with rave reviews.

When I lived in Corvallis I started a small business called Ida Goods. I would bake at night and deliver to businesses in the morning. Eventually Interzone, a coffee shop, opened up their kitchen to me. I baked for them in the early morning, then delivered to the local co-op and the Oregon State University campus store. I would deliver vegan tempeh turnovers, muffins, coffee cake, scones, pizzas and cookies. The cookies were by far the most popular.

OSU started to request my cookies for catered events. I would deliver hundreds of them at a time and they were always well received. No one ever knew they were vegan, unless they knew me.

photo courtesy of Food Fight!

At Food Fight!'s first anniversary, they hosted a vegan chocolate chip cookie contest judged by Dennis Kucinich. I was really scared. I was so proud of these cookies the idea of them not winning would have been heart breaking. But luckily my heart did not break that day since Dennis Kucinich raised my cookie with his arm to declare it the winner! I had mini-dreams of catering for the white house.

My cookie is like a child to me. I care for it, I am proud of it, and I watch it grow, all the while with people enjoying them. So I want to share them with you! They are great for potlucks, to bring camping, on a road trip or just when you are craving a good cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups Organic Cane Sugar
¼ cup Margarine
1/3 cup Oil
2/3 cup Soy Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
3 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Salt
½ cup Chocolate Chips

Cream together sugar with margarine and oil. Add in vanilla and soy milk and blend some more. Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend with an electric mixer until just combined. Add in chocolate chips and finish blending all ingredients.

Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red Russian Invasion

My parents had a fairly good-sized garden when I was growing up. I became familiar with so many vegetables that by the time I reached adulthood, I felt I had a good understanding of the vegetable kingdom. I have been surprised to hear how many people have not heard of certain vegetables, ones I find as common as a carrot. A co-worker of mine had never had eggplant before; she was in her 40s. My mother use to prepare eggplant by slicing, dipping it in breading and frying it. It was a dinner item we all looked forward to. The eggplant would be fresh from the garden, and maybe that is why I had such fondness for it.

However, in all this time of gardening, my parents never grew kale. I guess when my parents thought of greens it was either lettuce for us or swiss chard for our guinea pigs. Somehow the guineas would know when you went outside to the garden to pick some of the chard. As you walked past the outdoor window of their room, you could hear incessant squeaking, anticipating the green freshness coming their way.

Luckily I was introduced to nutritious kale many years back. Since then, I have made dishes for my parents and convinced them to try growing it in their garden. Now that they live further away, I look for my favorite type of kale every time I go to the local Farmer’s Market. My favorite is the Red Russian Kale. I don’t know why you can’t find it with the other kales at grocery stores, but it is a rarity. This recipe can be made with any kale, but if you get a chance, pick up some of the Red Russian. It’s like a really good secret that you are lucky enough to hear.

Kale, Sun Dried Tomato & Bean Pasta

8 oz. Pasta (Spaghetti, Penne, Spirals)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 bunch Kale, chopped
½ cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes
½ cup Hot Water
1 15 oz can White Beans
1 Tb Balsamic Vinegar
½ tsp Salt

Prepare pasta as directed. Add the hot water to the sun-dried tomatoes to reconstitute and set aside. Sauté garlic in olive oil until golden on medium heat. Add the chopped kale and sauté until kale starts to lose volume. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add beans, balsamic vinegar and salt, stirring contents until all is covered. Heat another few minutes. Serve on top of pasta and sprinkle with nutritional yeast if desired. Enjoy.

Make Peace Not Pork - Celebrating the 4th of July

BBQ Gluten Strips! This is the dish that will convince people that vegan food can be the best thing ever! When I first made this dish for my family, they couldn't get enough. My niece and nephew asked for seconds when they normally don't finish their first plate. Co-workers beg for this recipe. It is always the first potluck item to be finished. Friends ask me to prepare the dish for them more often than anything else.

With the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations in mind, I wanted to provide a tasty alternative to what's being offered elsewhere. The abundance of ads celebrating America with a beer in one hand and some beef in the other is sickening to me. BBQ Gluten Strips are the best dish to celebrate the America that speaks up against injustice. It is the BBQ item which stands for peace, since veganism is nonviolence. Given that our food choices help support compassion, which I believe supports equality for all, we can celebrate with the constitution in one hand and a vegan BBQ in the other.

Well, at least vegans stand for change more than beer and beef represent the celebration of Independence Day. It is startling how many times I have been told I am Un-American by protesting something. To me, it is the most American thing we can do! We were given the right of Freedom of Speech (when convenient to the government at least) and there is a lot of speaking to be done. This country was founded through revolution and we need to continue this tradition. We should not settle for anything less than justice for all, no more than we should settle for bland vegan food. So speak up and chow down!

BBQ Gluten Strips

Gluten Mix:
3 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
2 Tb Nutritional Yeast
1 Tb Marjoram
2 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Sage
1 tsp Salt
2-1/2 cups Water
2 Tb Tamari
1 Tb Oil
*Blend together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix together liquid ingredients then quickly mix into the dry ingredients. This will turn into a spongy, elastic ball. Knead this 5-10 times. Set aside.

Tahini Mix:
1 Onion, chopped
2 Tb Oil
2 Tb Paprika
¾ cup Tahini
1 tsp Salt
*Sauté the chopped onion in the oil until clear. Mix together all ingredients.

In food processor, blend together gluten mix and tahini mix, ¼ quantity at a time. Spread onto a 9” x 11” baking pan. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Once baked, cut into strips. Put a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the bottom of a cookie sheet and then cover with gluten strips. Cover gluten in BBQ sauce. Bake an additional 20 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

¼ cup Onion, chopped finely
1 Tb Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
¼ cup Water
2 Tb Molasses
¾ cup Sucanat
½ cup Mustard
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tb Parsley
1 tsp Liquid Smoke.

Saute the onion in oil until soft on medium heat. Add garlic and saute an additional minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Heat until boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.