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Dips, Sauces, and Spreads

So on Saturday night, we finally had our big fondue night.  I tested 5 cheeses and 4 of them made it to the “fondue island” (my parents’ kitchen island transformed into fondue frenzy).  All of them featured a cheese from the book Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner.  From the top left and moving clockwise in the photo above, we have Gruyere, Spinach Artichoke, Chipotle Queso, and Sharp Cheddar.  The Swiss cheese didn’t melt right, so we didn’t use it.  I will do a cookbook review later, but for now, I want to feature an easy recipe that uses the Cashew Cream Cheese from Miyoko’s book.

Spinach Artichoke Fondue

  • 10 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 14 oz can quartered artichokes
  • 1 cup cream cheese (from Artisan Vegan Cheese p. 20)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

First wilt the spinach with 1/2 cup water in a covered frying pan over medium high heat.

Drain any excess water, push the spinach off to the side (chop any large pieces with some kitchen scissors), and add your cream cheese to the pan while it is still warm.

Mix the nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in with the cream cheese, tasting for the right seasoning.  Add the quartered artichokes to the pan, cutting each of them an additonal 3-4 times with some kitchen scissors until you’ve reached the desired size.Now mix the three together!Ready for the fondue pot!  My favorite dippers with the spinach artichoke dip were soft pretzel rolls,  cauliflower, and tortilla chips.

Eating these kind of reminds me of what it used to be like eating ribs… messy but delicious.

This was a delicious, smoky, and spicy alternative to plain corn on the cob.  I think the only thing I will do differently next time is to grill the corn.  From tips online, I gathered that you should first soak the corn in their husks for 30 minutes to several hours.  Then you can grill the corn, still in the husks (and wrapped with foil if you are worried about burning them), for about 20 minutes on the grill and they’re done.

Since we didn’t have the time, we just boiled them.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

(inspired by this recipe)

Shuck the cobs of corn and place in boiling water.  When the water comes back to a boil, wait a few minutes until the cobs are cooked and remove from the water.  Should take about 10 minutes.

Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well.  Add enough lime juice so that the mixture is the consistency of a rub (thicker than a marinade, but not as thick as a paste).  Spread on corn… a little goes a long way (in the picture above I actually ended up removing some of the rub because it doesn’t need much to taste delicious).

I would rate the spice level of the rub somewhere between mild-medium.  If you like a kick that doesn’t kick you over, you will like this.

When I saw these videos a few weeks ago, I decided I needed to make this entire meal sooner than later…

Here are my results, everything was delicious!  I’m showing you mostly pictures up-front because I hardly changed anything.  You can find the “Smoky Chipotle No-Queso” recipe here.  For the rest, you can check out my map of the “It’s Nacho Business” meal here.

We found a couple of these “love mushrooms”… unfortunately we had to separate them. :/

Enchilada filling: mushrooms, red pepper, onions, and cumin. Everything is better with cumin

Queso, before blending.

Queso complete!

my full plate.

This recipe made 20 enchiladas (two 13×9 pans)

Papaya Salad and Nacho fixings. The salad dressing is at the top of my favorite salad dressings ever.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Cashew Cream and Sauteed Mushrooms, Vegan Sausage, and Greens.

Okay.  I’m just going to say it.  This is the best thing I’ve ever made!  This is omnivore approved and my mom puts it up there with my adapted version of the Vegan With a Vengeance Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto.  Yes it’s that good.  A little involved, but so worth it.

I originally planned to make both orange and purple gnocchi (from purple potatoes)… but the purple just turned to mush when I cooked it.  I was just happy that ANY of this worked given that this was my first attempt at gnocchi. It takes time, but it’s really not rocket science.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Method based on this recipe.

  • 1 lb. garnet yams (about 2 potatoes)
  • whole wheat pastry flour (2-4 cups)

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into bite size chunks.  Steam in a steamer basket in a pot or medium-large saucepan until soft (approx. 20 minutes).

Mash with a potato ricer (the easy way) or a fork (the longer way) until completely lump-free.  Then spread the potatoes across your work surface/cutting board until cool enough to work with.

Pull the potatoes into a soft mound and sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour across the top.  To incorporate, use a metal spatula or a pastry scraper.  If the dough is easily sticking to the spatula or your hands, add another 1/2 cup flour and incorporate.  Then, continue adding 2-3 Tbsp flour at a time just until the point when the dough still feels slightly wet, but is not sticking to your spatula/hands (moist but not sticky).

Gently knead dough a few times to form into a ball.  Cut it into four pieces.  Now gently roll each fourth of the dough into a snake-shaped log, roughly the thickness of your thumb.  Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch.  Dust lightly with a bit more flour.

To shape the gnocchi, hold a fork in one hand so that the tines are curled toward you.  Using your thumb on your other hand roll each gnocchi pillow from the base of the tines to the tips.  What you’re aiming for is a slight “c” shape, where the back has small ridges to catch the sauce.  Set each gnocchi aside until ready to boil.

This is usually the point when I make my sauce and cook the veggies that will go with the gnocchi.  I thought they benefited from a few minutes of rest.  

When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook the gnocchi in batches by dropping them into the boiling water roughly twenty at a time.  When they pop back up to the water’s surface, give them 10 seconds or so and remove them with a slotted spoon.  Have a large platter ready with a generous swirl of sauce.  Between each gnocchi batch, add a layer of your sauce and other ingredients, like cooked veggies and greens.

Sage Cashew Cream

  • 1 generous cup raw cashews (soaked for 30-60 minutes in very hot water and drained)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water + more if needed

Blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth.  Add water until the sauce reaches the consistency of heavy cream.  It should make about 2 cups (add more cashews if sauce gets too thin, more water if too thick).

Sautéed Mushrooms, Vegan Sausage, and Greens

  • 12 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 links vegan Italian sausage, crumbled or diced small (I used Field Roast brand, but you could make your own)
  • 2 cups fresh dark leafy greens, however much you like (I used dandelion greens and spinach)

Heat mushrooms and 1/4 cup water on a pan over med-high heat until mushrooms are cooked down a little, about 3-5 minutes.  Add greens, and heat until wilted.  Drain any excess liquid, then add crumbled sausage, and heat until warm.

Serve with a few fresh sage leaves.

Just to be clear… this is not a pesto made from kale.  I never understand how people can replace basil with cilantro or some random green like kale and still call it pesto!  Basil is irreplaceable in my book.

So I was needing a good dose of greens, but I didn’t want to eat them plain.  And I had some extra basil leftover from my tomato basil soup… so I made pesto.

Vegan Pesto

  • 1 tightly packed cup of basil leaves (rinsed clean)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, depending on personal taste preference

So there are a couple ways you can do this…

The easy way: Blend it all up in a food processor.  Done.

The less easy way: I wanted to try making it like an Italian grandmother (click here for link), because that just sounded too appealing!  So I followed her directions for the basil and garlic, but when it came time to incorporate the parmesan, I just grated some walnuts in a rotary cheese grater and added that and the nutritional yeast and salt to the minced basil mixture.

Then I steamed a bunch of kale in 1/3 cup of water till the water was mostly gone:

Then I combined the two… and voila!

I highly suggest serving this with leftover mashed potatoes and/or cauliflower, then you can be all fancy and call it “Pesto Colcannon”:

This recipe is a veganized version of Emeril’s Cucumber Soup found here.  The cashew sour cream is a modification of this recipe. 
Ingredients:
  • 6 cucumbers (6 pounds), peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (12 cups)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, minced (I used the seeds out of one of the peppers)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups plain soy yogurt
  • 1 recipe cashew sour cream (see below)
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • rounded 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • rounded 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • for garnish: fresh minced chives and extra batch of cashew sour cream

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a large bowl.  Working in batches, puree the ingredients in a blender until very smooth.  Transfer the soup to the refrigerator until well chilled, at least 2 hours.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve soup with each bowl with a sprinkle or two of salt and garnished with a dollop of sour cream and some minced chives.

Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in 1 1/2 cups water overnight or longer, and drained
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (1-2 Tbsp)
  • 1/3 cup water

Blend all ingredients in a blender for a few minutes till smooth (you may have to scrape the sides of the blender a couple times to ensure all the cashew pieces are incorporated).

This was both creamy and light, with a little kick! …perfect summer soup.

This nacho cheese was wonderful.  Great consistency and flavor.  Just right.

The recipe is from Happy Herbivore (click here for the recipe).  After making the sauce, I added two tomatoes (diced) and half a mini can of diced green chiles.  Both of these veggies added a little extra liquid, so I had to stir for a few minutes more to re-thicken up the sauce.  The chips are La Reina baked no-salt tortilla chips (from Whole Foods, only $2.19 a bag, only ingredients are corn and lime!).

I think next time I will ALSO add:

edit 7/7/12: I made this again, but omitted the cayenne and added 1/2 a chipotle in adobo sauce (click here to see on amazon) with about 1/4 tsp of the sauce added too.  This added a nice smoky, but mild kick.  If you are a spice lover, I say go for a whole chipotle and a bit of the adobo sauce.