Monday, November 29, 2010

Ginger Pear Crumble (Vegan, Gluten Free)

I make this crumble most often once when the fruits of summer give way to apples and pears in the fall. Crumbles are easier to prepare and faster to bake than pies, crisps and cobblers and are the perfect showcase for seasonal fruits.

This dessert is the simplest of all: fresh pears are covered with a ginger snap topping and baked until the crust is crispy and the filling bubbles and thickens. Gingersnap cookie crumbs is the base for this sweet, nut-filled crumble that tops this pear crisp. I used Trader Joe's Gluten Free Ginger Snap cookies, however feel free to use any other brand of your choice. Serve with light cream or a scoop of vanilla yoghurt.

Serves 8


4 medium pears, pared, halved and cored
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup finely crushed ginger snap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place pears, cut side up in a 9-inch pie pan. Drizzle orange juice over pears.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine ginger snaps, sugar, walnuts and butter. With your hands work it until it looks something like mortar.
  4. Pat ginger snap mixture over the pears. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegetarian Pepper Steak (Vegan, Gluten Free)

In China, during the Han Dynasty (about 600 B.C.E) mock meat was born to accommodate the foreigners that visited the Buddhist monasteries. Since respect for all life and abstaining from meat is apart of Buddhist philosophy, the Chinese developed a mock meat that approximates the aesthetic qualities, primarily texture, flavor, and appearance of meat to make their carnivorous guests feel at home.

Today, most mock meats you find in the supermarket are over processed and filled with chemicals and fillers. If you are not eating meat for health reasons, this alternative is not a very good one. That is why it's important to read the labels of any mock meat you buy and just like meat, should be eaten in moderation.

There is a brand of mock meat that I buy that I am very pleased with. It's from a company called May Wah found in China Town, NY. The ship all over the world if you can't find this brand in your local store. Or, you can do what I did and ask you local supermarket to carry it. I went to the local HMART and asked them if they would carry this brand and they were more than happy to carry this mock meat since many of their customers are Asian.

For this Pepper Steak, I used the chicken strips from May Wah called Vegetarian Pepper Steak.  It's ingredient list is:

  • Soybean Fiber
  • Soybean Protein
  • Soybean Sauce
  • Natural Seasoning

As you can read, it does not have anything in it I can't pronounce and don't recognize.
Stir Frying

This Chinese American dish is a variation of the traditional stir-fry, with slices of vegetarian beef strips marinated in soy sauce and rice vinegar. The best part of this dish is it’s cooked in onions, green scallions and ginger with a hint of salsa for a deeper intense flavor. This dish will be a great hit with your meat-eating guests, because it really tastes and feels like the “real” thing.  Serve on a large platter over plain rice or rice noodles.

Serves 4

1 (16 ounce) package of vegetarian beef strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 green onions (green parts only), chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons salsa


3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1-teaspoon agave syrup
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger

      1      Whisk soy sauce, water, oil, rice vinegar, agave and ground ginger. In a medium size bowl, pour over beef strips and marinate for 10 minutes. Set aside.
      2      Heat oil in wok over high heat; sauté onion, green onions, garlic, and ginger for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn clear.
      3      Stir in green pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until peppers become soft.
      4      Add the vegetarian beef with marinade and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes.
      5      Stir in the salsa and cook for another 3 minutes blending all ingredients.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts (Vegan, Gluten Free)

When I started foraging for dinner ingredients this afternoon, I found a few autumn vegetables for this soup.  Cooler weather always has me craving snuggly socks, a toasty blanket and a soup that just warms me up. The great thing about cauliflower, beside the lovely potato like taste and all the vitamins, is that the soup get a creamy thick consistence without using cream, or any other kind of thickener. By also adding lemon to the soup you get this fresh taste. Top with toasted hazelnuts and  you get that warm nutty crunch that makes this a hearty winters' soup. Purée in a blender for the smoothest, creamiest results. Make the soup up to a day ahead, and store in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Peter Berley, author of The Flexitarian Table



Sea salt
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1-2 head of cauliflower (3 pounds in total), separated into florets
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium or 3 large leeks — tough green parts discarded, the remainder thinly sliced and thoroughly rinsed
1-2 quarts vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup peeled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Finely chopped fresh parsley


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the lemon juice. Add the cauliflower and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and stir to coat, season with salt and cook until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent browning. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a simmer. With a slotted spoon transfer the leeks and cauliflower to a blender or food processor and puree with some of the stock until smooth. Return the puree to the pot.

3. In a toaster oven, bake at 350F the hazelnuts for about 8 minutes or until fragrant.

4. Bring the soup to a simmer, season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Serve the soup garnished with the hazelnuts and parsley.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roasted Squash with Sunflower Seed Dressing over Wild Rice

I need to have a good breakfast before I make this dish because I need all the power in my arms to hack away the skin off the squash. I use an 8 inch Wusthoff knife to slice away the the thick layer of skin that is protecting the sweetest moist orange flesh that is the star of this dish.

It is Fall and I love autumn produce. This giant dish is a seasonal favorite of mine. How do I describe this dish to you... there is so much going on here and it is one the best recipes out there for squash, thanks to Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbook vegetarian website. I have been following her vegetarian blog for sometime and am quite impressed with some of the dishes she has created. This is one of them.

This wild rice dish with roasted squash features two of my seasonal favorites; squash and tiny red onions.  Topped with a sunflower cilantro dressing and you have a healthy hearty and incredibly complex dish.  So many exciting flavors... sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy all in one that just creates a POW in your mouth and stomach.

Now you may not be able to tell from the picture, but the wild rice is under the squash. I did not want to mix it to much because I did not want to break apart the soft roasted squash. I also used Sweet Dumpling Squash which looks like a miniature pumpkin with a hint of orange skin. You can use any squash you have for this dish.

Serves 4

3 cups Sweet Dumpling Squash (or other winter squash), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
extra-virgin olive oi
fine grain sea salt
12 tiny red onions or shallots, peeled (OR 3 medium red onions peeled and quartered)
2 cups cooked wild rice* 
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Toss the squash in a generous splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt, and layer onto a baking sheet. At the same time, toss the onions with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and layer onto a separate baking sheet. Roast both for about 45 minutes, or until squash is brown and caramelized. The same goes for the onions, they should be deeply colored, caramelized, and soft throughout by the time they are done roasting. You'll need to flip both the squash and onion pieces once or twice along the way - so it's not just one side that is browning. This could take about 40 minutes. You should keep an eye on the onions because they will roast faster then the squash.
  3. In the meantime, make the dressing. With a food processor puree the sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and sugar until creamy. You may need to add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the dressing a bit. Stir in the cilantro, saving just a bit to garnish the final plate later. Taste and adjust seasonings (or flavors) to your liking.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the wild rice with a large dollop of the dressing. Add the onions, gently toss just once or twice. Scoop the rice and onions out onto a platter and top with the roasted squash (Gently toss to disperse the squash a bit). Finish with another drizzle of dressing and any remaining chopped cilantro.

* To cook wild rice: Rinse 1 1/2 cups wild rice. In a medium sauce pan bring the rice and 4 1/2 cups salted water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and splitting open, stirring occasionally. You'll have enough for this recipe and some leftover.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Curried Celery Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free)

How annoying is it when you are cooking up a dish from a recipe that calls for one or two celery stalks and you are still left with a bunch of celery?  How many times has celery just sat in your fridge begging to be used to no avail?? A celery here... a celery there.... still it just does not get used up and this is because, most of the time celery is used as a root in a recipe and does not really enhance the flavor to the dish.

Finally a soup that uses 1 1/2 pounds of celery!! That's right.... now you get to use up that glut sitting in the fridge for an Indian spiced soup that will beckon you to make this soup over and over again.

While I agree that celery may not have a lot of taste, when combined with potatoes, onions and curry, celery morphs into an exotic blend that is perfect for a winter warmup.

Serves 4-6


2 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, washed and sliced
1 1/2 pounds celery, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf tied together)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, leek and celery. Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring the vegetables occasionally.
  3. Add the potatoes, stock and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove and discard the bouquet garni and set the soup aside to cool lightly.
  5. Use a hand blender and process in pot until smooth.
  6. Add the fresh parsley, season to taste and ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with some celery leaves.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...