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Monday, July 18, 2016


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Once again, I apologize for posting so infrequently.  I guess I'm being a lazy cook these days!  In my defense, however, we have had some exciting family times lately-- I just became a great-grandmother for the first time! Here is my great-grandson Westen, at just a day old:

Mama (my granddaughter) and daddy and baby are doing wonderfully well, I'm happy to say, and have lots of family support on all sides.

Now that things are settling down, couple of days ago I decided to make some of my homemade vegan chorizo, and I realized that I've never posted the recipe.  It's pretty easy to make and you can freeze excess for another meal-- something I do whenever possible.

I know that commercial vegan chorizo is available in many places, especially in the USA, but, where I live it's hard to find and expensive when we do find it.  I use delicious and spicy Field Roast Chipotle sausages when we can get them, but I don't always have them on hand.

My recipe is not gluten-free or soy-free, just so you know. (I developed a Tempeh chorizo for a magazine article, if you would prefer that.  See I generally use Yves Veggie "Ground Round" (the plain variety) for this recipe, but other varieties would be fine, I'm sure. Using vegetarian “hamburger crumbles” in the recipe gives this vegan chorizo the "coarse grind” feeling that I remember from eating chorizo in California when I was growing up.

BTW, I chose to form the chorizo into patties rather than "links" because it seems to work better.

I made some easy and delicious Potato-Chorizo Tacos with some of the chorizo, which we enjoyed two nights in a row, and froze the rest for another meal.  I'll give the general recipe for the tacos below the chorizo recipe, and also how to make a delicious vegan Mexican-style Crema.

Printable Copy

Yield: Makes 14 pattiesGreat with scrambled tofu and many other recipes.

4 cups vegetarian “hamburger crumbles” (such as  2 pckgs. Yves “Ground Round”) OR use crumbled veggie burgers of your choice (the more "meaty-textured" variety)
12 oz firm tofu, mashed
6 Tbs red wine vinegar 
2 Tbs dry red wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cornmeal
Seasoning Mixture:
8 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs pureed or mashed canned chile chipotle in adobo sauce (See my note and photo below about how I store leftover chipotles from a can.)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together well with your hands.  

Form into about 14 patties. (I use an English muffin ring to form mine.)

Cook the patties in batches in a covered, preheated large heavy skillet (I prefer well-seasoned cast iron), or pancake griddle (stovetop or electric), or in a roomy electric skillet, over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side. (Don't crowd them.) Carefully (the patties are rather fragile when hot), remove the patties to a platter and refrigerate to firm them up.

To store for later use
, layer them with cooking parchment in a rigid container and refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze them. To eat immediately (with scrambled tofu, for instance), quickly heat them up over medium heat in a heavy preheated skillet.  Break them up with your scramble, if you like, or serve intact, as you would any sausage.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per patty): 91 calories, 14 calories from fat, 1.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 655.2mg sodium, 340.6mg potassium, 9.1g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 1.4g sugar, 11.6g protein, 2.7 points.

To store canned chipotles in adobo sauce for future use,
I freeze each chile with some of the sauce in a section of an ice cube tray. When they are frozen solid, a loosen them and remove them from the ice cube tray and store them in a freezer container or zipper-lock bag in the freezer.



Tacos de Papas con Chorizo are common in Mexico and there are many recipes for it.  I made a very simple version.

I used two soft, warm corn tortillas for each taco. The following made 8 tacos.  

For the Filling, I sautéed a medium onion, chopped small, in a little dark sesame oil and then added 8 of the cooked Chorizo patties, crumbled coarsely, and a couple of tablespoons of chopped pickled jalapeño peppers from a jar, and kept sautéing for a few minutes.  Then I added about 3/4 lb. of diced thin-skinned potatoes which I had briefly microwaved until firm but cooked through.

Toppings: I had no avocado or red salsa, and we had a big salad on the side, so I didn't add extra vegetables (such as shredded cabbage).  For the only toppings, I used some homemade green salsa that a friend had made from her homegrown tomatillos (I added some of the pickled jalapeño brine to make it a bit spicier) and some homemade vegan Crema.

Mexican Crema is runnier than sour cream and not quite as sour.  I used half my recipe for Tofu Sour Creme (made with extra-firm silken tofu) with 1/2 cup added soymilk and another 1/2 tsp organic sugar.  You could also use my recipe (the whole recipe) for Cashew Sour Creme, if you prefer.  I love this Crema-- so rich-tasting and smooth, and not loaded with fat.

Delicious and messy!


Sunday, June 26, 2016


Best Blog Tips

I do apologize for blogging do seldom lately!  A combination of lack of inspiration, attempting to sort through the accumulation of belongings after being in this house for 18 years and get rid of what is not needed, and various family stuff (including, I'm so sorry to say, a death in the family) has kept my cooking to a fairly simple minimum.

I'm happy to say that the early summer produce available locally and the need to use up bounty stored in the freezer and in jars from last year has inspired me  somewhat. This last is what inspired me to make this ice cream.

My granddaughter and her partner and her dad are coming over today for lunch (my husband is doing a photo shoot of her because she is due to have her baby in about 2 weeks!), and I wanted to make a nice dessert to come after the vegan chile, cornbread and salad.  I immediately thought of something lemony because I had 5 lemons that I needed to use up and lemon ice cream came to mind-- creamy, slightly tart. Just the thing.  But then I remembered the jar of my homemade Italian Wild Plum Jam (recipe here) in the refrigerator that I had made last year. I thought it would be perfect swirled through the ice cream, a color and taste contrast. (There are some suggested alternatives in the recipe if you don't have anything similar, BTW,  so don't let not having plum jam handy put you off!)

So, here is the result and very fine it is, in my opinion.  Let's see what my guests think...

Printable Recipe

Servings: 10
This is easy to make, creamy and  refreshing!

1 cup raw cashews (see Tips below for nut-free alternative)
2 1/2 cups creamy non-dairy milk (I prefer Silk original Organic Soy Milk)
1 cup unbleached organic sugar (light-colored)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated lemon zest
NOTE: I used 5 medium lemons in total
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum OR 2 1/2 tsp. Instant Clear Jel (use only the instant)
OPTIONAL: 2 T. vodka, white vermouth-- the alcohol prevents the ice cream from freezing rock solid
For the Swirl:
1/3-1/2 cup wild plum jam (see Tips below for alternatives)

Cover the cashews with boiling water and let stand for at least 10 minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients. When you are ready to mix them with other ingredients, drain them well.

Combine all of the ingredients (EXCEPT the jam) in a high-speed blender, including the soaked and well-drained cashews. Blend at high speed until very smooth and creamy.

Chill until the mixture is very cold.  Freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker.  (I use a Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker and it took about 20 minutes freezing time.)

Have ready a 2-quart rectangular glass, metal or ceramic baking pan (9 x 13"), or a rectangular 2-quart freezer storage container, which you have placed in the freezer while the ice cream maker does its work.

When the mixture is creamy but frozen, spread it into your frozen pan or container. For the swirl, drop blobs of the jam in two lines down the length of the ice cream.  Take a table knife and swirl it into the ice cream. Cover and freeze for several hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 219 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 77.8mg sodium, 208.4mg potassium, 35.9g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 28.7g sugar, 4.4g protein, 6.3 points.


Omit the cashews and the non-dairy milk and use instead 3 1/2 cups of your favorite dairy-free creamer, but don't use a sweet or flavored variety.  My favorites are So Delicious Original Coconutmilk Creamer and Silk Original Soy Creamer.

You can use any not-too-sweet plum jam, or other not-too-sweet dark-colored home-style fruit jam if you have no wild plum jam. If your jam is very solid, you may need to water it down a little so that it swirls nicely.  You could use water or even a little plum slivovitz or schnapps to thin it out, if you like.

My Italian-Style Wild Plum Jam recipe is here:
and there is a recipe for plum jam made with any type of plum here:
This Canadian website shows some types of commercially made home-style jams of a less common type than are generally available: ,  including Bonne Maman Mirabelles Plum Jam
I have seen these jams in well-stocked supermarkets and specialty stores. Amazon also carries various gourmet plum jams.


Saturday, June 11, 2016


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I've been working on this recipe for weeks now (which is one reason why I haven't blogged lately) and I think I have finally nailed it.  Quiche Lorraine (made with eggs and milk and bacon or ham) was one of my go-to dishes many years ago.  We always had it for Christmas breakfast, and on many other occasions.   It was great warm or cold and you could easily take it for a packed lunch.

I have made many vegan quiches over the years that we have enjoyed, some my own inventions, some from others, but I still have a hankering for Quiche Lorraine.  It's French, of course. North Americans often add cheese and/or onions to his quiche, but the classic version does not contain either, and that's what I was after.  In any case, I found that adding vegan cheese to the filling mix didn't really add much in the way of flavor and it stiffened up the filling too much.  I have also found that in many vegan quiche recipes result in a filling that is too thick, grainy or paste-y, so I was going for a more silky, delicate texture.

I tried several times with my own homemade Tofu Bacon, which we love, but the flavor was just too overwhelming for this quiche.  That is why I recommend a commercial vegan "bacon" or "ham" (or a homemade seitan "ham"), lightly sauteed in a little dark sesame oil, instead.

**I may cut down the amount of agar powder next time I make it (I added that option to the ingredient list) just to make the filling a bit more delicate, and I'll see which we prefer.**

Printable Copy

Makes one 9" quiche     Serves 4 to 6

9" pie shell (recipe below)
3 oz. thinly-sliced vegan "ham" or commercial vegan "bacon" product
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 1/4 cups creamy non-dairy milk (I prefer soymilk)
1 cup medium-firm tofu or extra-firm Silken tofu (2/3 of a 12 oz. tetra pak)
2 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. "chicken-style" vegan broth powder or paste
1 1/2 T. Bird's custard powder (no vanilla!) OR 1 1/2 T. cornstarch plus a pinch of turmeric for color
1/2 tsp. agar powder (If the quiche is too firm for your liking, use a little less agar next time.)
1/2 tsp. salt or Indian "black salt" (which has an egg-y flavor)
a pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Pre-bake the crust (prick the dough all over with a fork) for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven to a cooling rack.

Cut the vegan "ham" or "bacon" slices into about 1" pieces.  Brown the pieces over medium-high heat in the sesame oil until lightly browned, but not crispy. 

Blend the remaining ingredients well in the blender and pour over vegan "ham" or "bacon" pieces in the crust.  

Bake for 10 minutes, then cover the whole pie with a piece of baking parchment cut to fit (this keeps the top of the quiche from getting too brown and prevents the crust from burning) and bake 25 minutes more. Remove the quiche from the oven to a cooling rack and remove the baking parchment.

The quiche needs to be cooled down a bit before slicing-- we prefer it at room temperature.  It can be refrigerated for several days, if necessary.


Printable Copy
Makes one 9" crust
Although this crust does contain fat, it has about half that of ordinary pastry, and it uses oil rather than hard fat.  Divided into 8 servings, each piece with either a bottom OR a top crust (not both) and a fat-free filling will contain 5 g of fat.
The pastry flour and soured non-dairy milk make a tender crust that no one will guess is low-fat.

1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. MINUS 1 T. (7 T.) whole wheat pastry flour
3 T. oil (I like olive oil)-- if you have time, measure it & freeze for an hour or so.
3 T. plain soy, nut or hemp milk (or a plain vegan creamer) with 1/2 tsp. lemon juice added
3/8 tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. baking powder
3/8 tsp. sugar

Mix the flours in a medium bowl with the salt, baking powder and sugar.  Drizzle the oil into the flour mixture and cut the oil in gently with a fork so that it “beads up” with the flour (see photo).

Add the milk/lemon juice mixture:

and stir gently with a fork until it holds together in a loose ball.  (If it's too dry, sprinkle with a TINY bit of water.)  

If you have time, place the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate it for an hour before rolling out, but it works fine without chilling.  Roll out on a silicone mat, using as little flour as possible,  and bake as you would an ordinary crust.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


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To see larger images, right click on photo and choose "open image in new tab".

On May 12th I gave a vegan Peruvian cooking class for 14 people in Nanaimo, BC, which is about an hour south of where I live (Denman Island), but on the "Big island" (Vancouver Island).  Kelli Etheridge, of Stir Cooking School in Lantzville, BC, organized the class, and it was her friend Kimberley Plumley who suggested me-- so thank you, Kelli and Kimberley!  The class was held in the lovely mezzanine teaching kitchen at Lucky's Liquor Store in Nanaimo and I couldn't have done it without the help of the ebullient and tireless Jodie Robertshaw, Lucky's event and marketing coordinator (who also did all the dishes!!!).

I made a 4-course vegan Peruvian summer meal.  Only 3 of the participants were vegan, but everyone seemed to enjoy the vegan food.  The fresh Peruvian flavors certainly won them over! Jodie served her choices of craft beer and ale, each chosen to complement one of the courses.  I was impressed by her choices!

The first course was Causa:
a unique and delicious Peruvian cold salad that can be described as sort of cold terrine, with layers of savory, chili-laced vegetable filling and potatoes mashed in a garlicky lemon dressing. I like to use different colors of potatoes, if I can, but it wasn't the right time of the year for purple or blue potatoes. The recipe is in my book "World Vegan Feast".  Here is one of the terrines I made that night, and below that is a compilation of other Causa I have made in the past:

The second course was Salpicón De Tofu con Col (Peruvian-Style Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices and Cabbage Salad).  Below is the recipe, with a description and photos:

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This unusual cabbage salad (pronounced sal-pee-kohn day tofu kohn kohl) is not only delicious, filling and refreshing-- it's inexpensive and beautiful. Crispy fingers of pan-fried tofu cover a lemony wilted cabbage salad surrounded by colorful chunks of corn and sweet potatoes. It’s hard to describe just how terrific this salad is—suffice it to say that there’s never any left when I serve it. To keep the sodium down level down, I blanch the cabbage rather than the traditional method of wilting it with salt. We make this often for guests (this recipe is easily doubled). This recipe is a slight variation on the one in my book "World Vegan Feast".

12 Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices (I call this "Breast of Tofu"; recipe here)
1/4 cup aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups thinly-sliced or shredded Savoy cabbage
1 medium red bell pepper, in matchsticks
1 small carrot, peeled, in matchsticks
1 small sweet or red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (if you only have ordinary yellow cooking onions, see the Tip below) 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill  (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed) 
1 small steamed or baked orange sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 4 pieces (cold or at room temperature) 
12  Kalamata olives or Peruvian Alfonso olives
1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, tossed in 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chunks of cooked corn on the cob

Whisk the Dressing ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside. Blanch the cabbage for about 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water-- just until wilted. Transfer it to a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.

Mix the cabbage, onion, bell pepper, carrot, dill and Dressing well. Mound on a platter and surround with Garnishes. Cut the Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices into matchsticks and arrange on top of the salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.
#1) If You Have No Sweet Onion or Red Onion: Use an ordinary yellow cooking onion, but peel and slice it paper-thin. Transfer it to a bowl and cover it with boiling water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then drain and rinse it, then drain again. This removes the sharp raw onion flavor.

The third course-- the main course-- was my vegan version of Anticuchos, which are spicy West-African influenced Peruvian kebabs, served at every big gathering and purchased from street vendors to be consumed right on the sidewalk. Homemade seitan chunks make a wonderful animal-friendly substitute for these kebabs-- it's the spicy marinade and sauce that really makes the dish. Traditionally, these are served with chunks of cooked sweet potato and corn on the cob. The recipe is in my book "World Vegan Feast".  Here's a photo that Kelli took of one skewer of Anticuchos atop a mound of Salpicon:

The fourth course-- dessert-- was vegan Lucuma Ice Cream.  Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit that has a rather dry texture and is not really eaten as a fruit, but it has a "butterscotch-y" flavor and makes terrific ice cream. It's used in shakes, too.  I remember having the ice cream often while visiting Peru as a child.  It is now easy to find dried powdered lucuma in health food stores, as it is now used as natural sugar substitute by some folks.  The powder works well in ice cream-- fortunately, because it's hard to find either the fruit or frozen pulp where I live. You can find my recipe here:  Here is a compilation of photos of various versions of this recipe as I was developing it:

My father was Alejandro Jaime Urbina. Here's a photo of his family in Lima, Peru, when we were visiting from the USA in 1954.  My sister and I are seated in the front center, on either side of a young cousin. (I'm on the left and my sister, Karin on the right.  My Abuelita (grandmother), Clotilde Urbina de Roncagliolo,  is right behind me, and my mother is behind the young cousin.  My father is standing behind my mother. (Click on the picture if you want to see a larger version.)

Here are some photos from the class and also pics of the food from a couple of days later at home, when we had the leftovers for dinner with a friend:


Sunday, May 8, 2016


Best Blog Tips

I haven't made Jambalaya for ages and I had a craving for it today, so, guess what we had for dinner?  I wanted to make a spicy Cajun jambalaya that doesn't contain the tomatoes used in the Creole version. I had all of the major ingredients for a vegan version at hand. In Cajun jambalaya, protein and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice, which is cooked in a savory stock. The rice is added to the protein and vegetables before serving. It's called a  "white jambalaya." (We could call this one a "brown Jambalaya", since it's made with brown rice.)  This version works best with brown rice, in my opinion, because the brown rice needs a longer cooking time and if you cook everything together, it might get a bit soggy.

In any case, it worked well, we loved it, devoured it, and were very happy that there is enough left for lunch tomorrow.

NOTE: This dish is easy and fast to put together just before you eat if you treat it  as you would a Chinese stir-fry-- which means, have all of the ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking. For convenience, you can cook the rice the day before or earlier in the day, if you wish.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5
NOTE: If you can't find Cajun Spice Mix/Seasoning, there are many recipes online for making your own.

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice (preferably Basmati or jasmine)
2 1/4 cups vegan chicken-style broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth base)
1  Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 vegan chorizo-style sausage (such as Field Roast Chipotle), crumbled
1 mildly spicy vegan sausage (such as Tofurky Andouille or Italian, or Field Roast Italian), thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegan "ham", diced small
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 a red bell pepper)
1/2 cup celery, chopped, with leaves
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Cajun Seasoning/Spice Mix
3/4 cup vegan chicken-style broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth base)
1 cup shredded or thinly-sliced vegan chicken substitute, such as reconstituted Butler Soy Curls, or vegan chicken-style strips, or vegan "chikn brest"
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 green onions, whites and tops, chopped

Bring the brown rice and 2 1/4 cups broth to a boil in a medium pot.  Turn down to Low, cover and cook for 45 minutes. OR, to cook the rice in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 22 minutes and use natural pressure release.  Set aside. PS: You can make the rice earlier in the day, if it's more convenient.

Prepare all of the other ingredients before you start assembling the dish.

In a large heavy skillet, or flat-bottomed wok/stir-fry pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add the crumbled "chorizo" sausage and stir-fry for a few minutes.

Add the vegan "ham", chopped onions, green pepper, celery, garlic and Cajun or Creole seasoning.  Stir-fry until the onion has softened a bit, raising the heat as needed, adding a squirt or two of water if necessary to loosen any stuck bits, and keeping the mixture moving.

Add the cooked rice, the remaining 3/4 cup broth, shredded chicken sub, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir well to mix. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, stir in the green onions.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 467 calories, 91 calories from fat, 10.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1153.9mg sodium, 596.6mg potassium, 59.9g carbohydrates, 7.6g fiber, 6g sugar, 36.3g protein, 12.7 points.