Monday, September 30, 2013

Dragon Fruit

Until last week I had never heard of dragon fruit. Maybe I'm just a slow learner, but also maybe you've never heard of it either, so here's an intro. I couldn't resist picking one up when I saw it at our local market the other day. It's such a beautiful thing. I bought it on looks alone, without asking the price ($7.00!!!), and took it home, hoping it wouldn't be a cousin of the awful, stinky durian.

Turns out this is a cactus fruit that's very sweet and wonderful and non-stinky. There are several varieties, some white on the inside like this one, and some red, with tiny, edible black seeds. I had to do some googling to figure out what to do with it (besides admire it). It's actually really easy to just slice it in half, scoop out the fruit with a spoon, and cut it up.

Place the fruit back in the shell for an exotic serving bowl. Dragon fruit is delicious all by itself, and we also liked it with a little bit of Strawberry-Balsamic Reduction Sauce. I think a squeeze of lime would be nice too. If you see this crazy fruit in the store, buy it! It might not become a staple in your house, but it's certainly something worth experiencing at least once.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spanakopita Triangles

Spanakopita Triangles are a great place to start if you've never worked with phyllo. The lovely, flaky pastry dough can be a little intimidating, but really, you can do it! Find phyllo (pronounced FEE-low) frozen in most markets. In some places you can even find whole wheat or spelt varieties, but most often it's made from white flour. I prefer whole grains, but in this case I make an exception because these are such a great treat, and everyone seems to love them. I made some for a family gathering last year, and my teenage niece, who is a very picky eater said, "I don't know what's in these, and I don't want to know, but I love them." I think I blushed with pride.

There's a VIDEO to go with this recipe!

Spanakopita Triangles

1 box phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
olive oil for cooking/brushing - optional
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed if you have time
1/4 cup tahini
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
2 T lemon juice
1 T tamari
salt and pepper to taste

To make the filling, sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil (or water) for about 3 minutes.
Crumble the tofu into the pan and cook for 3 minutes more.
Add the tahini, nutritional yeast, herbs, and pepper flakes. Stir well.
Gradually add the spinach, just wilting it into the mixture.
Add the lemon juice and tamari, and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and place the filling in a bowl on your work surface.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or a light spray of oil.
Roll the phyllo out onto the work surface, and cover it with a damp dish towel.
Gently take one sheet of phyllo from the stack, lay it out flat, and fold it in half (or thirds for smaller bites). Cover the dough with the towel until you're ready for the next piece.

Spray or brush the dough with a little olive oil if desired. (Melted vegan butter is extra decadent.)
Place a little bit of filling at the bottom end of the folded phyllo, and then fold one corner over the filling, making a little triangle.

Continue to fold in the triangle pattern the same as you would fold an American flag. When you get to the end, either tuck in any excess dough, or cut it off with a knife.
Place the finished triangles on the baking sheet, and spray or brush the tops of them. You can skip this, but they'll brown better with a little oil.

Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes. Watch them carefully. They should come out golden brown and flaky. Let them rest 5-10 minutes before eating, because they'll be really hot inside.
Serve with some Basil Cream, or your favorite cucumber sauce.

Basil Cream
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes or more, and drained
1 cup fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 large clove fresh garlic
2 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in your blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until very smooth.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Sneak Preview - Spanakopita Triangles

I'm working on a video showing how to make my wonderful Spanakopita Triangles. The technique for working with phyllo is in the video, and the filling is in a written recipe (along with instructions and pictures on how to put them together.) You can get it in a tasty Sneak Preview in the Recipe Box right now! If you don't already have it, get it. It's good! And so is the Spanakopita.

The Recipe Box is how I get paid for all the free stuff I give you. Please pick yours up now! It's filled with over 100 of my best and favorite recipes, plus Sneak Previews like this one, Exclusives that will never hit the blog, and darling printable recipe cards. It's so worth the few bucks I charge for it, and I'll love you forever if you buy it. Thanks! xo

Tortilla Pizza on PVTV

Check out my newest video over at PVTV! Tortilla Pizza is quick and easy to make. Perfect for a fun Friday night at home or a busy weekend snack. I should know... after all, I am the Pizza Queen. (Find out why in the video.)

What would you like to see on PVTV? Send me your suggestions. I'm always looking for ideas!
Please take a moment to subscribe to my channel, and leave comments on your favorite videos. It helps me get found in the YouTube world. Thanks!

Have a great weekend!
Eat Your Greens!
xoxo Kim

What's for dinner? Look in the Recipe Box!
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jeanette Zeis Vegan Dish(es)

As one who cooks a lot and loves beautiful food, I also love beautiful, simple pieces to serve (and photograph) it on. I have recently completely fallen for Jeanette Zeis Ceramics. I visit her website often, and dream of cabinets filled with her lovely plates, bowls, and cups, and maybe a cake stand on the table, for my latest batch of cupcakes. I'm sensibly waiting until I move, but I'm waiting with a plan! I think it's just so adorably perfect to eat a tasty vegan soup or stir-fry from a pretty handmade bowl that says "vegan" on the side, or to sip a favorite tea from an officially vegan mug. If I worked in an office, I'd take one with me to send the message to my co-workers every day. The more we splash the V-word around out there in the world the better. I think so anyway.

Jeanette generously gave one of her darling keychains to every attendee at VidaVeganCon. I liked them so much I stole Rick's from him so I could have two. Well OK, he didn't really mind. In fact he gave it to me. But still...

I am so taken with these pretty dishes, I want to trade in my old favorite Fiestaware for a kitchen full of Jeanetteware. Maybe for now I'll just sprinkle in a few pieces here and there. And as much as I love all the colors she uses, I'm really drawn the simple cream colored dinner plates. Food looks so pretty on white, and I already have a whole lot of color in my cabinets.

Wander on over to Jeanette's place, and see if there's something to inspire your creativity in the kitchen. I think a beautiful blue bowl would be perfect for a new (possibly struggling) vegan. If such a person were to follow the beautiful tradition of eating all their meals from one simple bowl, it would be practically impossible to put anything but vegan food in a bowl marked "vegan." I don't need the nudge, but I want the bowl anyway.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

My First Big Gig as a Chef

Weeks of preparation, menu planning, shopping, and recipe testing finally brought us up to the big event on Saturday night. The benefit dinner I cooked for my friends at Reason2Hope was a terrific success! If you're with me on Facebook, you might have seen the pics already. If not, here you go...

The day before the party I made one last trip to the market for produce.
The dinner was held in Mary Van Kampen's studio in Taos.
I love this painting.
One of the appetizers - mini spanakopita.
Taos Caesar Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing
Roasted Red Pepper Bisque with basil cream, toasted pine nuts, and edible borage blossoms
And for dessert, Chocolate Mole Spoon Brownies, Lemon Blossom Cakes,
and Fresh Fruit with Strawberry-Balsamic Reduction

Everyone left full and happy and inspired to donate to the school in Gambia, which was the whole idea.  They also asked a lot of questions about veganism, which was an added bonus for me. I'm pleased and exhausted, and have no idea where to go from here. Maybe Secret Vegan Suppers this winter? Would you come? Or maybe even host a dinner at your house? I think we might work something out. Think about it. I'd love to put this cute chef's coat to more use!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cookies on PVTV

Who knew Taos would ever be one of the rainy parts of the country? It sure has been a wet summer here, and the last couple of days have felt more like the northwest than the southwest. It's great cookie baking weather though, so come on over to PVTV and make some tasty Banana Raisin Cookies with me. They're completely guilt free, and amazingly tasty. Go figure!

Here's the Video
Here's the whole PVTVchannel
Please take a moment to subscribe, and leave a comment and a thumbs-up on the video. It really helps me get found in the world! Gracias! (Now where are my rain boots...)

What's for dinner? Look in the Recipe Box!
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gambia on My Mind

I'm up to my nose this week in preparations for my first real gig as a chef. Our friends Mary and Dan made connections in Gambia some years ago, fell in love with the place and the people, and started a non-profit foundation called Reason 2 Hope. I know exactly how they feel, and so admire the education-focused work they're doing there. I haven't been to Gambia, but I have been to Ethiopia, and I know what a huge difference a few dollars and an open heart can do in places like these. So when Mary asked if I would be willing to volunteer my services in the kitchen for an evening, to raise funds to rebuild a school that has fallen to ruins, I jumped up and got to work almost a month before the big event.

The festive evening, titled "Good For You, Good For Gambia" is this Saturday. It will be a 5 course vegan dinner for 12 adventurous non-vegans, served in an exotic tent in the Taos landscape, all draped in textiles, rugs, and cushions in a sort of "Out of Africa" theme. At a mere $50 a plate, with wine included, these folks are in for a rare and wonderful experience, and all proceeds will go straight to Reason 2 Hope.

The menu is not African. We decided to come up with a meal that would be somewhat familiar to non-vegans, but with lots of fancy twists. We'll start with layered black rice and polenta bites, topped with herbed cashew cheese, kalamata olives, and tiny vine ripened tomatoes from my own yard, along with mini spanakopita triangles and cucumber dipping sauce. Next comes Roasted Red Pepper Bisque with Basil Cream and toasted pine nuts, followed by a Taos Caesar Salad with creamy Chipotle Dressing and spiced, toasted pumpkin seeds. The main course is mini glazed Tempeh Loaves with mashed garlic cauliflower-potatoes, mushroom gravy, greens & beans, and a bit of cranberry sauce. Then, hopefully everyone will have room for dessert, because the last flavors to linger in their mouths that evening just might be the best of all. I'm making tiny, dense, moist Lemon Blossom Cupcakes with blueberries and lemon buttercream frosting, plus warm Chocolate Mole Spoon Brownies with fresh raspberries, and finally, fresh kiwi slices with a drizzle of strawberry-balsamic reduction sauce. Can I have an amen to that brothers and sisters...

Of course the hope is that once we have them in a food coma, our guests will dig deep into their hearts and wallets, and come up with some generous donations. My first goal in creating this dinner is to raise money for Reason 2 Hope, and those gorgeous children who want nothing more than a school to attend, a uniform to wear, and a simple meal. Surely we can make that happen.

My secondary goal is to open minds, mouths, and hearts to the idea of taking a more compassionate approach to their own lives, starting with the food they choose to eat. From my own perspective as a mild mannered Kitchen Activist, not only will 12 people not be eating animal products that night, they'll also be getting an enlightening taste of how wonderful vegan food can be. It's all connected, and yes, there is enough to go around in this world if we who have the most begin to make some different choices for ourselves.

I'll have more on this big event, and lots of pictures next week. For now, if you'd like to help, please consider making a donation to Reason 2 Hope. It's tax deductible, and since I'm volunteering my time (weeks of it!), the more money we raise, the higher "paid" I will feel.

Now back to the kitchen with me! I have lots to do in the next few days, and I can so do it!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Black and White Bean Hummus

As you know, hummus is traditionally made with garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas). I absolutely love the stuff, and it's a staple in most vegan diets, so imagine my surprise when I started to run across people who do not care for garbanzos. Maybe it's a texture thing for them. Granted, garbanzo beans can be sort of mealy, so hopefully this version will solve the problem and get the anti-chickpea set back in the hummus saddle. It's delicious, packet with protein from the beans, and also with calcium from the sesame seeds, which also eliminate the need to buy expensive jars of tahini. Try it eve if you like garbanzo beans! It's a nice change of pace.

Black and White Bean Hummus
makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup raw unhulled sesame seeds
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 can white beans (cannellini or great northern)
1 can black beans
juice of 1 lemon
2 T nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 T fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dry)
2 T tamari
1 T olive oil - optional
up to 1/2 cup water

Rinse the sesame seeds, and toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until they start to pop. Set aside.
Place the garlic in a food processor, and chop it first, all by itself.
Drain and rinse the white beans and add them to the food processor.
Drain and rinse the black beans and set them aside.
Add the sesame seeds and all other ingredients, except water, to the food processor, and blend well. Add a little water at a time to get a smooth texture.
Adjust seasonings to your liking.
Add the black beans last, and pulse them just a few times, so they remain coarsely chopped.
Stir the black beans in with a spoon if necessary, but do not over blend in the food processor.
Serve on bread, crackers, pita, sandwiches and wraps, etc.


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

PVTV Time - Sampling the VEGG!

I'm a day early with my Friday post this week, but I'm so excited to share this with you, I just can't wait till tomorrow. I finally got a chance to try out the new vegan egg yolk product called "the Vegg," and it looks like a winner so far! Check out my most recent video on PVTV, where I sample the recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Bars by Lindsay Ray, from the Vegg Cookbook. They're fabulous! And the Vegg is a big part of their fabulousness.

I did some more experimenting after making the video, and tried subbing flax eggs (ground flax seed and water) for the Vegg. The results were pretty good, but not quite the same. The texture is better with the Vegg, and the color is much prettier. Lemon bars should be lemony-looking, which they are with the Vegg. When I used the flax seed, they were a bit on the brown side.

I also tried making the Scrambled Tofu from the book, and I have to say I was not impressed. The Vegg did not behave like an actual egg in this case. All it did was add a lot of moisture to the tofu that had to be cooked off. It took a really long time, and wasn't any more special than my usual tofu-scram.

(Here's a tip: if you want to add that eggy-sulphury flavor to things like scrambles and mock egg salads, get some Black Salt "Kala Namak," which is actually pink in color, but has a strong sulfurous smell and flavor. It's available on Amazon: The Spice Lab's Himalayan BLACK Crystal Salt Kala Namak Salt 16 Oz (fine ground))

My take on the Vegg so far is I love it for baking, and will keep exploring the "egg" dishes. Maybe I did something wrong with the tofu. There's an omelet and a quiche in the book that really look like they're worth trying. I'll let you know if I have success with them. Meanwhile, check out my new video. I had fun with this! And while you're over at PVTV, please leave a comment and a "Like," and be sure to subscribe to my channel! Thanks!

Try the Vegg for yourself. You'll definitely want to make the Lemon Bars! Order your combo Vegg/Cookbook combo pack at Vegan Cuts. It's a great deal!


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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Magic Sprinkles

If you're new to vegan cooking and eating, you might not have noticed yet what a big role nutritional yeast plays in rounding out dishes with that cheesy richness so many of us crave. "Nooch," as it's commonly referred to in our little world, is sprinkled on everything from popcorn to steamed veggies to pizza and soup and salad - similar to the way you might use grated parmesan.

There are several brands of vegan "parm" on the market too, and while some of them are quite good, I don't like paying $5 and up for a little jar of something I'm likely to use up in a week. So... I made my own. Of course I did!

Playing around with ingredients, I eventually came up with something so good I just like to eat little piles of it straight from my hand. I call it Magic Sprinkles, which I know is kind of dumb, but that's what it is to me. Magic. This stuff is like glitter for food - only not sparkly, better tasting, and much easier to digest. Yes, it has nooch in it, but it's so much better than plain nooch I actually considered manufacturing it and selling it. But no... I've done the make-it-sell-it thing, and I don't want to do it again. I'd rather you make it yourself!

The recipe for Magic Sprinkles is available only in the Recipe Box, along with over 100 other recipes, plus more and more Exclusives and Sneak Previews as we go. I really think this one little recipe is worth the price of admission, especially when you consider what you'll save on store-bought veggie-parm, and how much better this is than any of them. I really think so!

Click on over to the Recipe Box and get yours now. You'll use your Magic Sprinkles every day at home, and I'll bet you even start carrying around a little zipper baggie of the stuff to have with you out in the world. I know I do! If you see me in a restaurant, ask me for a taste. I'll share!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Flourless Whole Grain Banana Raisin Cookies

I'm writing this recipe on the August Full Moon, which just happens to be the Grain Moon. I didn't plan it, but sometimes perfection just happens. These cookies are flour free, sugar free, oil free, and gluten free if you so choose. We love them, and I love making them for my 2-year-old grandson, so he can have a treat without getting all sugar-crazy. I'm that kind of grandmother.

Whole Grain Banana Raisin Cookies
makes 12-15

1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 cups cooked grain, such as quinoa, brown rice, or any combination you like
2 flax eggs (2 T flax meal + 6 T water, chilled for 15 minutes)
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Mix all ingredients together, and place in large spoonfuls on the baking sheet.
Flatten the cookies slightly and shape the edges. They won't change much as they bake.
Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350º, until the bottoms are golden brown.


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