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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.

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Ever since I saw pictures of the chickpea flour quiche on The Taste Space blog, I knew eventually I would take a shot at it!   I can’t imagine the need to ever make a tofu-based quiche again… this is my new go-to base.  It’s wonderfully creamy on the inside and has a crisp outer layer.

Kitchen Sink Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche

based on this recipe

Quiche base (blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth):

  • 2 1/4 cups chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup almond milk (or more water)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black salt*
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (or other herbs of your choosing)

The Kitchen Sink:

  • I used leftover spring mix, bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, scallions, and roasted red pepper, but honestly use whatever you have!  If you’re using a springform or frying pan, fill it halfway up with veggies.  If you are using a pie plate, fill it to the top.

*also called kala namak, this salt is pink in color, and found in asian grocery stores.  It gives a bit of an eggy taste, but feel free to leave it out or replace with normal salt if you can’t find it.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Grease a 9 in. springform pan, pie plate, or metal frying pan.
  2. Chop up all your veggies you plan on putting in the quiche, then toss them in the pan to mix together.
  3. Blend all the quiche base ingredients in a blender and pour into the pan with the veggies.
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until browned on top and somewhat firm.

If we had been patient, we probably would have gotten a cleaner cut.  So if you can, wait a few minutes to slice into it.

So I have not posted any recipes this week because I am following a Happy Herbivore meal plan (getmealplans.com) that I will post about this weekend.  Seriously check it out… If you are having a busy week and you want to eat healthy and delicious food without putting in crazy hours of prep, then these meal plans are for you.

Tonight I met up with some family at my parent’s place and so we made my dad’s yummy mushrooms and brown rice…

This is one those “I can’t believe it’s that simple!” recipes.  When I first tried it, I could not believe the mushrooms were only cooked with two ingredients.  Crazy good… just try it.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Add mushrooms to a large saucepan over high heat.  Stir mushrooms till they release some of their moisture and start to cook down (you do not need to add water or oil to the pan).

Add soy sauce and garlic.  Bring to a boil and turn down heat to medium till mushrooms are cooked, about 5 minutes.

Serve mushrooms over bowls of brown rice, and be sure to ladle in some of the sauce from the pan.

Serves 6.

This was so yummy and hearty. It’s messy, so be prepared with a fork or serve open-faced!

Beer Bread

Beer Bread is so amazing!  It takes seriously 3 minutes to come together and 1 hour in the oven.  The inside is soft and the outside is crusty.  And you don’t have to like beer to like this bread… the beer flavor is there, but subtle.

Follow this Happy Herbivore recipe for 100% whole wheat beer bread.  Some tips:

  • Prep your dough after the oven is preheated!  The dough comes together so fast and you don’t want the leavening to weaken while it’s sitting on your counter waiting for the oven.
  • Consider doing half whole wheat pastry and half regular flour if you are using this for a sandwich as it can be a little dense as is.  Keep it all whole wheat if you are serving this with soup!

Caramelized Onions

  • 4 onions, sliced like this
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp no-beef bouillon base
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup water

Heat a large pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, whole thyme sprigs, and pepper, and cook until the onions are caramelized.*  Dissolve no-beef bouillon in a small bowl with the wine and water.  Add the liquid to the pan, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium, simmering until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry.  Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

*Quick way to caramelize onions (Seriously this takes half the time with the same result!):

Start with a dry non-stick pan at medium-high heat… do not add water or oil.  Add onions. Stir once every minute or two with a wooden spoon until the onions release some moisture and then that moisture cooks away.  

When the moisture cooks away, the onions will start to brown and you will see a sticky brown substance start building up on the bottom of the pan.  This is when you want to start stirring the pan more frequently, every 15-30 seconds.  Allow the onions to stick to the pan a little and brown, but do not let them or the sugars on the pan burn.  Now every couple minutes or so, start adding two tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan.  Only deglaze the pan when you fear the sugars on the pan might burn or you will slow down the caramelization process.  When your onions look like this, you are done!

Creamy White Cheese Sauce

Chop the following veggies and steam in a steamer basket in a pot or saucepan:

  • 1 cup yukon potatoes (if using russet, you will need to peel)
  • 1/3 cup red onion
  • 2 Tbsp shallots or more onion

While the veggies are steaming, blend in your blender:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp or a few drops of yellow mustard
  • a few cloves of garlic (amt. depends on personal preference)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

When steamed veggies are soft, add to blender and process till smooth.

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”:

Let’s just say my search for the perfect vegan grilled cheese is over.  And I will say the same for this tomato basil soup.  Although, if you’re making the soup for yourself, cut the recipe in half as it makes a lot!  The vegan grilled cheese is based off of VegNews mac and cheese sauce here. The tomato soup is a simplified and veganized version of Ina Garten’s Tomato Basil Soup here.  I have to say, I really love these two together!

I’m not sure if this is three pounds, but it worked out perfectly!

Purchased at Whole Foods… it has a lot of salt in it, so if you’re avoiding that, just use water.