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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LENTIL AND RAPINI STEW WITH SPICY VEGAN SAUSAGE

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 Even though I am part Italian, I only discovered rapini a decade or so ago. Being partial to "bitter greens" (which include arugula, radicchio, mustard and turnip greens, sorrel, young dandelion greens and curly endive), I was attracted by this "new" vegetable when I first saw it in a grocery store. Rapini, which is also called 'broccoli raab" or simply "rabe”, only slightly resembles broccoli. It has tiny bunches of broccoli-like blossoms on long stems in the midst of large spiky leaves.



Unlike common broccoli, which is from the cabbage family, rapini is related to turnip, but it grows in the same way as broccoli, except that it's ready to harvest earlier and can be grown all year round in temperate climates. The flavor is pungent, with a slightly spicy bite, which makes it a great foil for bland ingredients, such as white kidney beans, pasta, rice, polenta (Italian cornmeal) and potatoes. It can take seasonings that have big flavors, such as garlic, spicy vegan sausages and hot peppers. Try using it in lasagne, stuffed savory crepes, ravioli filling, stuffed pasta shells, quiches and soups. I love it so much that I actually crave it sometimes!

Italian cookbooks as far back as the 14th century included rapini recipes. The classic Italian preparation is to braise it in olive oil and flavor it with garlic, anchovies (I use miso instead!) and bread crumbs; or simply sautéed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. The blossoms, leaves and stalks are equally edible and flavorful. Rapini is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. The stalks tend to grow to an equal thickness, making even cooking a snap.

In supermarkets, rapini comes in bunches of 1 to 1 1/4 pounds. Look for slender, crisp stalks, bright color, fresh-looking leaves and relatively few opened buds. Plan on 3 to 4 servings from each bunch or 2 servings per bunch if you plan to use it as part of a main dish-- with pasta, for example. Store it in zipper-lock bags in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to a week. Because it is usually eaten cooked, you can also blanch it for 2 minutes in boiling water, "shock" it in ice cold water, drain it and freeze it in this semi-cooked state for future use in recipes.

Before cooking, rinse the greens well in plenty of cold water. Trim only the end of the stems and discard them (there is very little waste with rapini!). Cut the rest of the stems, leaves and tops crosswise into 1 to 2-inch lengths. Some cooks like to blanch the rapini before cooking (see paragraph above), to reduce its bitterness, but I don't bother with that unless I want to use the plain, cooked rapini in a recipe. I like that slightly bitter edge!

Rapini is a also nutrition powerhouse, by the way. It is low in calories (only 25 in a cup!) and sodium and has no fat or cholesterol. What it does have is plenty of vitamin A (110% of the Recommended Daily Value), vitamin C (130% of the RDV) and vitamin K, as well as potassium and folic acid. Potassium, along with folic acid, fiber and the bioflavonoids found in the cruciferous vegetables may help prevent the risk of stroke. Rapini also provides iron and calcium and like other cruciferous vegetables, contains nutrients, compounds and antioxidants that appear to have cancer-fighting benefits.
Fortunately, there are many delicious ways to enjoy rapini, and there are several other recipes on this blog:
Mediterranean-Style Bean Stew with Rapini & Vegan Sausage
Italian-Style Cannellini (White Kidney Beans) with Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)Farfalle (bowtie) Pasta & Rapini with Italian Walnut Sauce
Tagliatelle with Rapini, Onion, Chickpeas & Creamy White Bean Flour-Based Vegan BechamelTortino di Patate (Layered Potato Casserole with rapini, onions, vegan Italian sausage,and vegan cheese.)

The following recipe (from my book "World Vegan Feast") is one of those simple Italian-style stick-to your-ribs stews-- delicious with a green salad and crusty bread to soak up the juices.  


Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S LENTIL AND RAPINI STEW WITH SPICY VEGAN SAUSAGE
(From my book “World Vegan Feast”, Vegan Heritage Press)

Serves 6

1/2 pound (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) dried brown lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 cups canned tomatoes and juice, chopped
2 cups tasty vegan broth 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 spicy vegan sausages, such as Tofurkey Italian "Sausages" or Field Roast Chipotle "Sausages", sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 to 1 1/4 pounds (1 bunch) rapini (broccoli raab-- see above), tough stems removed, washed, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch lengths 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or marjoram (or 1 1/2 teaspoons, dried) 
1/2 cup vegan parmesan substitute (such as Go Veggie! or Follow Your Heart [EarthIsland in Canada])

Mix the drained lentils, tomatoes (with juice) and broth in a medium pot. (If you are using dried herbs, add them now). Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

While the lentils are simmering, heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté them until translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and onions to the lentils.

Brown the sliced sausage slices in the same skillet sprayed with oil from a pump sprayer. Add the sausage to the lentils. Add the sliced rapini and the fresh herbs (if you have not added the dried ones already) to the lentils and cook an additional 5to 7 minutes or until the rapini has wilted.

Serve the stew hot in shallow soup bowls, topped with the vegan parmesan. 

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 342 calories, 66 calories from fat, 7.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 568.6mg sodium, 748.1mg potassium, 40.3g carbohydrates, 17.8g fiber, 7.4g sugar, 26.9g protein, 9.3 points.

Enjoy!



Thursday, July 20, 2017

NEW NO-COOK CREAMY LOW-FAT VEGAN MAYONNAISE WITH OR WITHOUT EXTRACTED OIL (can be soy-free and/or nut-free)

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UPDATED ON AUGUST 4, 2017-- method refined and a new optional ingredient.
I had a cooking accident last week.  I was getting ready to make my low-fat vegan mayonnaise and it had been a morning of solid cooking by the time I got around to it.  I was tired and perhaps a bit distracted and, before I knew it, I had dumped the water meant to be used for cooking the cornstarch and agar powder into the blender along with the milk, seasonings and oil!  That recipe will not work unless those two thickeners are cooked first.  I didn't want to throw out the other ingredients and start over, but I didn't know what else to do.  Then I had a brainstorm-- why not try using Instant Clearjel® instead of the starch and agar? If it didn't work, I would start over, but, if it did, I would avoid throwing out the ingredients.  Not much to lose.

So, I added 4 Tablespoons of Instant Clearjel® (sounded about right) and 1/2 tsp. of guar gum (you can use xathan instead, if you like-- I usually add 1/4 teaspoon to my cooked version).  Then I turned on the blender and, whoosh!!... it almost immediately turned into a creamy, thick mayo.  Success!



So, if you would like to try an even easier, faster version of my Low-Fat Vegan Mayo with No-Extracted Oil (or the variation with no nuts, but a small amount of oil), read on.

INSTANT CLEARJEL® NOTES AND SUPPLIERS (July 2017)
In this recipe, DO NOT use the regular Clearjel® meant for making jam and pies and needs to be cooked.  Instant Clearjel® does NOT need to be cooked.  It is carried on amazon.com, hoosierhillfarm.com, barryfarm.com and King Arthur Flour for US customers. It has been available in Canada primarily from baking supply wholesalers, but,  good news for Canadians-- amazon.ca finally carries Instant Clearjel®! (Make sure you add a note to your order specifying that you want INSTANT Clearjel®.) According to their website, Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC carries it, too, but I'm not sure if they do mail order (their website is under construction right now).
IMPORTANT TIP:When using a fairly large amount of Instant Clearjel® in a blended recipe, I do the following:  I mix the liquid ingredients in the blender and then turn speed to low and carefully spoon the Instant Clearjel® into the center of the vortex of liquid. This keeps the Instant Clearjel® from clumping up and/or sticking to the sides of the blender jar.
For information about these thickeners, see
http://sharealikecooking.blogspot.ca/p/clearjel-page-clearly-best-thickeners.html (According to this source and others, Instant Clearjel® and Ultra Gel® are both NON-GMO.)



Printable Recipe
BRYANNA’S NEW NO-COOK CREAMY LOW-FAT VEGAN MAYONNAISE WITH OR WITHOUT EXTRACTED OIL (can be soy-free and/or nut-free)UPDATED ON AUGUST 4, 2017-- method refined and a new optional ingredient.
Servings: 32;  Yield: about 2 cups

There are about 90 calories in a tablespoon of regular non-vegan mayo and also in Vegenaise Original or Earth Balance Mindful Mayo. There are 45 calories per tablespoon in Vegenaise Reduced-Fat, 35 in Spectrum Eggless Light Canola Mayo, but only 10 to 25 calories per tablespoon in this mayo (depending upon whether you use nuts or oil, respectively; see Nutrition Facts below recipe for both versions),  so you can indulge yourself!
NOTE: This was calculated using generic soy milk, but I calculated it (with Living Cookbook software) using various non-dairy milks and they were all in this range-, except when made with canned full-fat coconut milk.  See below for Nutrition Facts when using oil or nuts with soy milk or other non dairy milks in cartons, and also when using canned coconut milk with nuts or oil.

NOTE: If you are allergic to nuts, use the oil option.

Ingredients:
1 cup any creamy non-dairy milk, Original type-- doesn't have to be unsweetened
1/4 cup raw shelled Brazil nuts, (roughly chopped before measuring), or raw macadamia nuts, or raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
    OR 1/4 cup oil
(But, remember, if you use canned full-fat coconut milk the calories will go WAY up if you use oil in place of nuts as well.)
10 tablespoons cold water (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (my favorite), plain rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice (or a combination of any of these, dpending on your taste)
1 1/2  teaspoons salt (For an "egg-y" flavor, use Indian Black Salt [Kala Namak-- it actually looks pale pink] instead of 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (mustard powder)
1/4 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum (you may need 1/2 tsp. when using oil instead of nuts)
New addition Aug. 4, 2017- Optional, but yummy:
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes-- or 1 Tablespoon when using oil instead of nuts (This adds a subtle richness to the mayo.)
Lastly:
4 tablespoons Instant Clearjel® (See Ingredient Notes in text above.)

Instructions:
Add the non-dairy milk and soaked, drained nuts (or the oil) to the jar of a good blender. Blend on high as long as you need to make a smooth "cream".

At low speed, add all of the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the Instant Clear Jel, to your blender jar in the order given above. Turn speed to Medium and carefully spoon the Instant Clearjel® into the center of the vortex of liquid. (This keeps the Instant Clearjel® from clumping up and/or sticking to the sides of the blender jar.) Blend at high speed until the mixture is thick and creamy-- this will happen quite quickly.

Scoop the mayo into a clean pint (2 cup) jar with a slim spatula (there may be a little bit extra, which you can scoop into a tiny jar or sample cup), cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts when made with raw cashews:
Nutrition (per serving): 10 calories, 5 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 33.7mg sodium, 16.5mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 0.3 points.

Nutrition Facts made with 1/4 cup oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 25 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 33.8mg sodium, 16.5mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 0.7 points.

Nutrition facts when made with raw cashews and canned coconut milk:
Nutrition (per serving): 20 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30.4mg sodium, 22.5mg potassium, less than 11g carbohydrates, less than 11g fiber, less than 11g sugar, less than 11g protein, 0.6 points.

Nutrition Facts when made with 1/4 cup oil and canned coconut milk (NOT a low-fat option!)
Nutrition (per serving): 80 calories, 76 calories from fat, 8.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30.6mg sodium, 22.6mg potassium, less than 11g carbohydrates, less than 11g fiber, less than 11g sugar, less than 11g protein, 2.3 points.

VARIATIONS:
MISO MAYO: Omit the salt and add 3 tablespoons white miso.

ROASTED GARLIC MAYO: At the end of blending, add 1 head of roasted garlic, squeezed out of the skins.

ONE MORE! Do you prefer a Miracle Whip-type spread to mayonnaise? Try this: 
Use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon mustard powder and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon organic sugar or agave nectar to the recipe. (Sugar levels in this type of recipe vary, so start with this and then let your taste dictate the results.)

Enjoy!




Sunday, July 9, 2017

FINAL VERSION: PALM OIL-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD FOR EATING, BAKING, COOKING (NEW, EASY, CRUELTY-FREE )

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I promise you, this is the LAST and FINAL version!



First there was my "Buttah", back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?!), which was a solid product, spread well, but would stay in a block like dairy butter. Then, earlier this year, I developed two different versions for two different posts of an easier "Butter-y Spread", made with less cocoa butter (or coconut oil as a possible alternative) than what was used in "Buttah", a sort of "tub butter", if you will. I used the method for vegan soy mayonnaise (developed by Seventh Day Adventists many years ago)-- dripping liquid oil into soymilk, which contains lecithin, an emulsifier-- but the minus the vinegar. The last version that I blogged about-- an amalgamation of the two earlier posts (which I have since removed)-- was in May of this year. It was good, but I still wanted a slightly firmer version and an easier method. Back in June of this year, it occured to me that maybe the new "mayonnaise" method might work with my old Buttah recipe, and would definitely be an easier, less fuss method for a firmer product. I figured that it might also coagulate better so that there would be no danger of separating and having to stir it while it firms up in the freezer, which happened about half the time. I also checked the cocoa butter percentage of the three products (the original "Buttah", the "tub version'"of Buttah, and the new Butter-y Spread), in order to see which recipe contained the least amount of cocoa butter while still producing a fairly firm product. My reason for this concern is that cocoa butter is very expensive in Canada now, partially due to the low Canadian dollar, and partly higher postal fees to the USA. I prefer to use cocoa butter instead of the easier-to-obtain coconut oil because it is a great deal lower in saturated fat than coconut oil, and it produces a more solid product, being a very hard product. It turns out that the original firm version of Buttah contained 3.02g cocoa butter per tablespoon, the tub version of Buttah contained 2.3g per tablespoon., and, surprise, surprise, the new Butter-y Spread contained 3.6g per tablespoon! I realized that, since the new Butter-y spread contains less liquid oil, the cocoa butter content is actually higher per tablespoon. So, I tried using the ingredients for "tub version" of Buttah, rounding the weight of the cocoa butter in the recipe out from 81.6g to 82g, and using the new "mayonnaise" blender method from the new Butter-y spread recipe. (The amount of monunsaturated fat-- the most important kind-- in this recipe, made with cocoa butter, is more than twice the amount as the combined saturated and polyunsaturated fats.) I also further streamlined the Butter-y Spread by adding all of the ingredients except the oils into the blender with the soymilk right at the beginning, so that I didn't have to add them later-- it works just fine and saves a step! So, this worked beautifully and the result was actually more firm that the original "Tub Buttah". It also worked better in baking, since it has a higher overall fat content than the softer Butter-y Spread.
My friend Brenda Wiley again experimented with my new recipe and reported back. She gave me some good advice about describing the method, and the salt content. (She used Whole Foods brand Original Soy Milk.) Many thanks to Brenda!!
I hope you will give this new, easier method a try!

PS: WHY PALM OIL-FREE? It's important-- trust me! For information on the palm oil problem, ingredients and equipment, and about the different types of fats, see this page. And here's a recipe for palm oil-free and trans-fat-free shortening, as well.)



BRYANNA'S PALM OIL-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD FOR EATING, BAKING, AND COOKING (NEW, EASY, CRUELTY-FREE )
© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2017. All rights reserved. (Revised July 9, 2017)
Yield: 2 1/4 cups/36 tablespoons
This is an inexpensive, delicious and easy-to-make butter-y spread that is low in saturated fat.  It’s firm enough to use in place of butter or solid margarine in baking, though it may work best for some baking if it’s frozen first and used quickly. This spread has a consistency like a firm tub margarine.
NOTE: Silk and So Delicious brands use cruelty-free coconut products.
See WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL? At end of recipe document.

Ingredient List:
1/2 cup soy milk (I use Silk Organic Original)
OR other plant based milk for drinking or coffee that is creamy and not thin (rice milk is too thin)

OR Silk or So Delicious brands of Coconut Creamer (Original)
2 tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin (Use 1 Tbs if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
(See lecithin shopping notes below.)
1/2 tsp lemon juice (Unlike vinegar, lemon juice produces a lovely, mellow, delicate flavor.)
3/4 to 1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum (Use 3/4 tsp if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
1 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil
2.9 oz.(82g) cocoa butter (preferably steam-deodorized), melted
        NOTE: Instead of cocoa butter, you can use 1/2 cup cruelty-free coconut oil, melted (see brands here).  But, remember, the result won’t be as firm as it is with cocoa butter and it will add saturated fat.
Only the weight of the cocoa butter is given in the ingredient list, for the simple reason that, after much  experimenting, it was discovered that it is the weight of the cocoa butter that is the essential measurement, so the best practice is to weigh it accurately before melting. Measuring the melted, liquid cocoa butter in cup measures does not ensure a predictable result in the final product.



PS: This scale has a function to erase the weight of the container, so that you get the weight of the product only.

NOTE: Try to use organic, fair trade cocoa butter, if you can.  If you live in the USA, this is a reliable vendor with decent prices--Chocolate Alchemy.
Affordable prices are harder to find in Canada, so you might want to try using an organic natural, UN-deodorized cocoa butter, which is cheaper, from a health food store [wafers or chunks].  It's such a small amount that the chocolate odor may not make a difference, depending on your sensitivities. Online, this one is a good price and this one, too, if the shipping is by Canada Post. Food grade cocoa butter, including organic and sometimes fair trade, is often available online from organic soap-making and cosmetic suppliers, so,when Canadian dollar is low, I purchase it from this Canadian company.

Instructions:

Important Note: After weighing, I melt the cocoa butter (or coconut oil) in a gravy pitcher (one that holds 2 cups) or something similar, with a spout or lip, in the microwave for a couple of minutes at medium heat. If you prefer, place the pitcher in a saucepan with hot water and heat over medium heat until it melts. Either way, remove carefully using a potholder. Add the neutral oil to this and use the pitcher to pour the mixed oils into the blended mixture slowly, but NOT drop-by-drop, as you would when making soy mayonnaise. A pitcher will give you more control for pouring, and less chance of spilling.  

MELTING THE COCOA BUTTER:
Chop the cocoa butter into small bits. (Tip: If you slice down into very thin slices with a sharp knife, it will shred, which helps it to melt faster).
To melt the cocoa butter- #1, my preferred method: place it in your 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup and melt it in a microwave oven. I timed the melting of the cocoa butter and it took about 2-3 minutes at 50% power in a 1200 watt oven. (Don’t use 100% power-- it will get too hot.) If it isn't completely melted, stir it a bit until it melts, or give it a few seconds more. Add the liquid oil.

OR #2 method: place the cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler and melt it over simmering water until liquid. Pour into the 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup, along with the liquid oil.

BLENDING THE BUTTER:
Pour the milk (or creamer) into a high-speed blender container, add the lecithin lemon juice, salt and xanthan or guar gum, and place the cover on it, with the central cap off.  Mix the liquid oil with the melted cocoa butter OR coconut oil, if you must) together in a 2-cup pitcher-- see Important Note above. Turn the blender on to Low speed and pour in the mixture of the two oils slowly into the milk until all of it is used up. (When I say “slowly”, that’s what I mean-- a slow steady stream, but NOT drop by drop, and NOT in just a miniscule stream. If you do it too slowly, the mixture may thicken too soon, and then separate. If it “globs” up too soon, turn the speed of the blender up and quickly add the rest of the oil mixture. Now, increase the speed of the blender to a little bit. Blend for a short time, just until it thickens to the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. (Blenders differ in power and speed, so you may have to experiment.) 

Use a slim silicone spatula to scoop the mixture into two shallow refrigerator containers with lids, or any kind of butter dish with a lid. Scrape as much of the blended mixture out of the blender container as you can.

If it separates around the edges in the blender and doesn't "glob up", don't panic! It can be whisked back to normal during the cooling step, if necessary, but this has only happened to me once or twice. Do as follows:




If your mixture is not as thick as pictured above and has separated a bit around the edges, scoop it into 2 shallow containers (each able to hold slightly more than 1 cup) and place in your freezer on a level surface. After 10 minutes, using a small wire whisk, stir the mixture around the walls of the container and then into the middle. This is to mix the colder portion of the mixture around the sides in with the warmer mixture in the middle. Freeze another 10 minutes and repeat the mixing. Check after another 10 minutes and repeat if necessary. You shouldn't have to do it again. Let it freeze solid and then you can place one container in your refrigerator if you wish, or keep both in the freezer.
(For advice about cleaning the greasy blender container, see the end of this page.)

Using the spatula, smooth the tops of the Butter-y Spread in the containers.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours before using. You can also freeze it (you can scrape the Butter-y Spread off the frozen mixture very easily), or freeze it until the mixture is firm and then refrigerate.

Makes 2 1/4 cups or 36 tablespoons


Nutrition Facts for spread made with cocoa butter (Serving size: 1/36 of a recipe/0.5 ounces/1 tablespoon)

Nutrition (per 1 tablespoon): 90 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10.1g total fat, 1.94g saturated fat, 5.21g monounsaturated fat, 2.44g polyunsaturated fat, 0g Trans Fatty Acids, 0mg cholesterol, 40.6mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 2.6 points.


RECOMMENDED TYPES OF OIL TO USE IN BUTTER-Y SPREAD

LIQUID LECITHIN:
For a Soy-Free Buttah-- Organic Sunflower Liquid Lecithin:  
Upaya Naturals (This is a Canadian site, but they sell to Americans, too.)
bluemountainorganics.com (USA) (raw liquid lecithin)

Organic Liquid Soy Lecithin:
Mountain Rose Herbs (This is a US site, but they ship internationally.)
MyWorldHut.com (US site)

WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL?
See this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil.
See photographs at this article:
"Life in chains: Heartrending pictures of caged Indonesian monkeys being sold to coconut farmers"
Published earlier this year, the most comprehensive article I read, Pay Coconuts, Get Monkeys, gives us an idea  of what life is like for these monkeys, how valuable they are economically, and how legal loopholes enable trainers and “zoos” to essentially get away with animal abuse and neglect.
Early on in the piece a man called Noi Petchpradab, who has been training macaques to harvest coconuts for thirty years, was interviewed and discusses daily life for these working monkeys: "When they are not working, the animals are chained to tree stumps, which Mr. Noi said is due to their aggressiveness. They are given three daily meals, consisting of rice mixed with Lactasoy milk."

The article also goes on to say:
"Due to their ability to work for long hours, the macaques are capable of collecting 600-1,000 coconuts per day, compared to only 100-200 for humans. On a few occasions, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired they faint.
This practice will surely continue as long as there is both a market for coconut oil and consumers who are ignorant to the fact that this is even happening. Also, there will always be an economic incentive for people in these areas to use monkeys as performers as long as tourists are willing to spend money to visit them."


CLEANING YOUR BLENDER CONTAINER AFTER MAKING YOUR "BUTTER-Y SPREAD":
My friend Brenda Wiley said that she had a heck of a time cleaning the greasy blender container after making this.  She was using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap, which I also use as an all-purpose cleaning product, but not for dishes.  She said she had to wash the container about 3 times. I have not had this problem, and, no, I do not use Dawn!  I use Nature Clean Dishwashing Liquid (I like the Lavender & Tea Tree Oil one  -- there's an ingredient list at the link) and very hot tap water and have never had a problem.  (Nature Clean is a sulphate-free Canadian product and you can buy it online or in most supermarkets and drug stores in Canada.) Before I add the soapy water to the greasy container, I rinse out as much of the greasy residue as possible with hot tap water, using a bottle brush in the corners.  I dump that out and add more hot water and a generous squirt of the dishwashing liquid.  I scrub the inside with the bottle brush and rinse with more hot tap water. I looked online for some US products that looked similar.  This looked like a good one, and the price seemed reasonable: Natural HomeLogic Eco Friendly Liquid Dish Soap, Powerful, Pure Non-Toxic Cleaning; Plant & Mineral Derived.  It's available on amazon and their website gives you other locations.  Brenda bought some and said it works like a charm! If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comment section-- thanks!
Enjoy!


Monday, June 19, 2017

PERUVIAN-STYLE RICE AND VEGETABLES WITH VEGETARIAN "SCALLOPS"

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It's been a long time since I last blogged.  I guess I just needed a break.  I'm happy to say that some inspiration is returning and I've been playing around with veganizing some more Peruvian recipes.  (In case you're new here, my father was Peruvian and I still have family there.)



My Abuelita's (Grandmother) house in Miraflores, Lima (it is now a restaurant).


My late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina
The Urbina Family in Lima, Christmas 1954; Abuelita in the center, my father in the back row on the far right, standing behind my mother; my sister Karin on the far right in the first row, on the floor; and I am just behind one of my little cousins, who is third from the left on the floor.

Peruvian food is delicious and colorful.  It is a heady mixture of the cooking and foodstuffs of the indigenous people, the invading Spanish, African slaves, and immigrant from Italy (the second largest European group in Peru after Spanish), China and Japan.  I've veganized a number of Peruvian recipes on this blog and in workshops, but still have a long list to get through. (If you type "Peru" in the search bar of this blog, all of my Peruvian food posts will come up.)


Sometimes it can be difficult to find Peruvian ingredients outside of large cities, so it's not unusual for me I have to improvise, while striving to preserve authentic flavor. (I live on a little island off of Vancouver Island on the West Coast of British Columbia.) I do my best and try to stock up on authentic Peruvian condiments, etc. when I make one of our infrequent trips to Vancouver.  


Anyway, on to the recipe! Peruvians love seafood, and the following recipe is a vegan version of a well-known and popular Peruvian rice and seafood dish.  (Rice was brought to Peru by the Spanish, by the way, and is served at almost every meal, often in the company of the indigenous potato!)  I hope you enjoy it!




Printable Copy


BRYANNA'S ARROZ CON CONCHAS VEGETARIANAS

(PERUVIAN-STYLE RICE AND VEGETABLES WITH VEGETARIAN "SCALLOPS") 
Serves 4
This makes a satisfying light supper on its own, or an excellent side dish for a more elaborate meal. I use less fat than they would in Peru, by the way.

1-2 tablespoon olive oil and/or vegan butter

about 24 vegan "scallops"-- made from mushrooms, tofu or gluten-based "Sea Meat" **(See below recipe for making mushroom scallops; see this page for how to make tofu scallops, and see this page for how to make my "Sea Meat" scallops.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons Peruvian aji amarillo paste (See Notes at end of recipe for where to purchase and also a possble substitute.)
1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels (In Peru these would be large white kernels, but I use North American yellow corn kernels.)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
1 cup thawed frozen green peas (or thawed shelled frozen edamame [green soybeans])
2 cups "Sea Stock" (vegan "seafood" broth-- see recipe below)
1/2 cup dry white wine, OR 1/4 cup Pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) or dry sherry
3 cups cooked long-grain rice (This can be a white rice such as basmati or jasmine, or a brown version of either one, or converted/parboiled rice.)
1 cup EACH diced red bell pepper and orange bell pepper
salt to taste
For Serving:
chopped fresh cilantro, or Italian parsley, or a mixture of mint and basil
lemon or lime wedges

First of all, heat the vegan butter and/or oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet.  Add the "scallops" and saute until they are lightly browned.  Remove the "scallops" from the pan and set aside.


Add the next 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened.  Stir in the aji amarillo paste (or substitute).  Add the diced carrots, peas, wine and "Sea Stock". Cook, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is somewhat reduced.  


Add the cooked rice and the diced peppers.  Toss well and keep cooking, uncovered and stirring now and then, until the rice has soaked up some of the liquid. Taste for salt and add as necessary.  Stir in the sauteed "scallops".  Heat briefly and serve sprinkled with cilantro or alternates, with wedges of lemon or lime to squirt over the rice as desired.




Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 400 calories, 101 calories from fat, 11.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 423.6mg sodium, 729.9mg potassium, 62.5g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 11.1g sugar, 10.5g protein, 11.8 points.

NOTES:

You can use my Tofu "Scallops" (recipe at this link), or my "Sea Meat" (gluten-based) "Scallops", recipe at this link), 




or "Mushroom Scallops":













Making "Mushroom Scallops":

Many recipes these days call for using thick slices of stems of King Oyster mushrooms  or King Trumpet mushrooms.  They are expensive and very hard to find where I live, so this is what I do:
I use large ordinary white mushroom caps, or even cremini mushrooms, stemmed, and cut out rounds with a small biscuit cutter. (PS: I use the scraps for mushroom soup.)




Then scrape off  the gills with a grapefruit spoon.

And peel off the brown skin (if you are using cremini mushrooms) with your fingernails (it comes off easily).






Aji Amarillo (the dried version of aji amarillo/Peruvian yellow pepper is often called aji mirasol):

In the USA you can purchase Aji Amarillo Paste in many Latin American food stores, or online Latin American food purveyors, or on amazon.com.
In Canada, it's overpriced on amazon.ca, but, if you live in a large city you can probably find a Latin American food store that carries it, or order it online from this Vancouver store chain.  
A substitute might be a Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce mixed with pureed roasted large yellow bell peppers (Scotch bonnets are "fruity" like aji amarillo, but much higher on the heat scale!)




BRYANNA’S VEGAN “SEA STOCK”

Yield: 4 cups
This is a handy recipe for vegan “sea-meat” recipes.
From: http://www.veganmainstream.com/2014/01/23/homemade-vegan-seafood-satisfies-some-nostalgic-cravings/

6 cups hot water

10 medium dried shiitake or Chinese black forest mushrooms
1/2 oz dried kombu seaweed
2 teaspoons light miso
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetarian “oyster” sauce (see recipe and info on commercial brands below)
1 teaspoon salt

Simmer the mushrooms and kombu, covered, in the water for 30 minutes. Strain in a colander. Save the mushrooms for another dish, if you like. Discard the kombu. Stir in the miso, vegetarian “oyster” sauce, and salt. Dissolve thoroughly. Strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate.


Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per 1/2 cup): 18.6 calories; 6% calories from fat; 0.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 318.5mg sodium; 75.3mg potassium; 4.3g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 1.5g sugar; 0.7g protein ; 0.3 points.


VEGETARIAN “OYSTER” SAUCE:
Chinese oyster sauce is a favorite flavoring, thick, rich-tasting, and slightly sweet. I use the vegan version frequently to coat plain tofu for use in stir-fries and fried dishes instead of chicken, and, of course, it’s essential in some Chinese dishes. As well, it can add rich flavor to homemade seitan/grain meat. If you can’t buy it, it’s easy to make a very acceptable substitute (see below).

You can find commercial vegetarian versions, made with mushrooms, in some Asian groceries and large supermarkets (and online, including at amazon). Sometimes it is labeled “vegetarian oyster sauce” or “mushroom oyster sauce". It is also marketed as “vegetarian stir-fry sauce” (Lee Kum Kee brand-- a very common one). It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator. However, it can be difficult for people in some areas to find, so I am giving you a recipe for a homemade version.


BRYANNA’S HOMEMADE CHINESE VEGETARIAN MUSHROOM “OYSTER” SAUCE (ALSO KNOWN AS “VEGETARIAN STIR-FRY SAUCE”)

Makes 18 liquid oz., or about the same as a commercial bottle

NOTE ON MUSHROOMS: For the dried mushrooms, you don’t need expensive shiitakes—just use the inexpensive dried Chinese mushrooms (or Chinese forest mushrooms) that are easily available. Snap off the stems and discard them, then grind the mushrooms to a powder in a DRY, clean blender or coffee/spice grinder.


1 1/2 cups boiling water

6 tablespoons ground dried Chinese mushroom (see note above)
6 tablespoons Chinese brown bean sauce or paste
OR use 5 tablespoons mild brown miso + 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 generous tablespoons brown sugar,
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in
1 tablespoon cold water

Blend all of the ingredients EXCEPT the dissolved cornstarch in a blender until as smooth as possible. Pour into in a medium saucepan and heat to boiling over high heat.  (IMPORTANT: leave the plastic cap out of the center hole in the blender lid and cover it with a folded towel, so that the hot liquid doesn’t explode.) Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until thickened. Cool and store in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Since it is quite salty and sweet, it should keep for several months.


NOTE: You can, alternatively, microwave the mixture, with the cornstarch, in a medium bowl and cook on 100% power for about 1 minute, then whisk. Repeat until thickened and store as above.


Enjoy!