Monday, July 30, 2012

Cherry Clafoutis

Any recipe that is McDougall compliant as written is a bonus, but even more so in the dessert category. Desserts recipes are rarely oil-, egg-, and dairy-free. That's why I was so very happy when I read the recipe for "Cherry Clafoutis" (page 490) and found it didn't call for oil or margarine, and I could make the recipe without altering a thing! Not to mention it just plain sounded delicious. Per the recipe notes, Clafoutis is a French dessert of cherries baked into a pancakelike batter, and that seemed to be a fitting description. Basically you spread cherries (fresh or frozen - I used frozen with excellent results) in a pie plate, pour the batter over the top, and bake. Very easy. The batter consists of vegan yogurt, soymilk, vanilla, sweetener, flour, and baking powder. Just before serving, add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to each individual slice. This dessert was light, yet satisfying, and very elegant looking as well. I think it would be good with other soft fruit too, as the recipe suggests, such as strawberries or peaches, blueberries, or even plums. I could have used whole wheat pastry flour to up the nutritional value, and next time I make this, I might try that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The recipe for "Pastitsio" (page 226) is so-called because it is a pastiche of several ingredients combined into one final dish. Most of the recipes in this cookbook are reasonably quick and easy to put together, but if you are in a lazy mood and wish for a dish with more drawn out preparation, this one will be fun for you. It involves a food processor (chopping the garbanzo beans), precooking pasta, sautéing veggies, creating a white sauce, and layering the different components into a casserole dish, in the manner of lasagna. The recipe calls for frozen spinach, and that did save a little time, but I think I would have preferred using fresh for the superior flavor it imparts. The final layer is chopped pine nuts (I left them whole, they are already so tiny and soft I can never see the point in chopping them) before the casserole is baked in the oven. This will feed two people over several meals, or think about taking it to a potluck. Good hearty fare.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce

I'm always happy when I come across a recipe that is McDougall friendly, with no alterations necessary. The "Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce" (page 559) is one of those recipes. A very simple mixture of fresh ginger and green onion, soy sauce, vinegar, and orange juice, this sauce is bursting with flavor and is an absolute must with the Sesame Seitan & Spinach Spring Rolls. Any Asian food (tofu, rolls, dumplings) would be wonderful dipped into this teriyaki style sauce.

Sesame Seitan & Spinach Spring Rolls

"Sesame Seitan & Spinach Spring Rolls" (page 26) are in the appetizers chapter, but combined with Vegetable Fried Rice it become the centerpiece of an Asian inspired meal. Spring rolls have always been a little tricky for me, but even if they aren't wrapped as tightly as the ones I get in a restaurant, with a little patience they usually turn out tight enough, and these were perfectly delicious. The filling is a combination of marinated seitan rolled in sesame seeds, pan fried, then rolled up in rice paper wrappers along with shredded carrots and spinach. The marinade calls for a tablespoon of sesame oil, but I cut that back to ½ teaspoon, just enough to add flavor. I skipped the additional tablespoon of oil called for to sauté the seitan, using my non-stick skillet instead. The recipe suggests serving these with Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce, which I did, a perfect complement that rounded the meal out nicely.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vegetable Fried Rice

Fried rice does not have to consist of white rice and overcooked vegetables drenched in oil, as I found out when I tried the "Vegetable Fried Rice" (page 268). The trick here is to cook the rice ahead of time and chill it, so some planning ahead is necessary. But this is a necessary step so that the rice remains fluffy and separated when cooking with the vegetables. (I used long grain brown basmati rice.) The recipe calls for a total of 3 tablespoons of oil, 2 for sautéing the veggies (onion, carrot, zucchini), and an additional 1 tablespoon of sesame oil added at the end for flavor. I completely omitted the sautéing oil, as this isn't necessary in a good non-stick skillet, and used only ½ teaspoon of sesame oil for flavor, not too bad stretched over four servings. In addition to the sautéed veggies, green onion, ginger, and frozen green peas are incorporated into the mix, with soy sauce and dry white wine providing extra flavor as well. Turmeric is suggested as an optional ingredient if you want to color the dish yellow, but I opted to leave it out this time. This is a great dish that goes well alongside any Asian themed meals.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tofu-Tahini Wraps

During the hot summer months I am always looking for quick meals that don't require a lot of cooking over a hot stove, or the use of an oven (which heats the place up). Sandwiches and wraps readily fit that criteria and the "Tofu-Tahini Veggie Wraps" hit the spot one recent hot summer night. The filling consists of tofu and tahini blended in a food processor along with green onions, celery, parsley, capers, and various seasonings, including a pinch of cayenne, adding a lovely glow to the mixture. I thought the filling was crying out for the addition of fresh minced garlic, so I threw a couple of cloves into the mix as well - good idea! J Once the filling is prepared, a small amount is spread onto a flour tortilla or lavash bread, topped with shredded carrot and lettuce, and rolled up to eat. Happily, there is no added oil in this recipe as written, so no changes were required to keep it oil free. If possible, try to use whole grain wraps. We had left over filling which we used on toasted bagels, as a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich, and a dip for pretzels.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Orange-Dressed Asparagus

The great thing about the  "Orange-Dressed Asparagus" (page 355) is that it can be prepared and served either immediately (hot), or later (chilled). I chose to serve it chilled since we were in the middle of a heat wave when I decided to make this dish, and all cold food sounded good. To serve it cold, once the asparagus has been steamed, cold water is run over it to stop the cooking process, and the spears are put into the refrigerator until ready to eat, at which time you add the dressing. The dressing is a blend of sautéed shallots, orange zest, fresh orange juice (it just so happens that one medium sized orange provides the correct amount of both zest and juice), fresh lemon juice, and sugar. The dressing also calls for olive oil, but I just left this out altogether and didn't miss a thing. I'm quite an asparagus aficionado, and this preparation was particularly pleasing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grilled Portobello Burgers

What would a chapter on burgers in a vegan cookbook be without a grilled portobello burger recipe? "Grilled Portobello Burgers" (page 118) offers a simple presentation that showcases the wonderful juiciness and chewiness of a grilled portobello served on a bun. Not only are the mushrooms grilled, so too are slices of red onion, and the buns, nice touches that create a total outdoorsy grilling experience. The mushrooms and onions are grilled first, and the marinade is brushed on afterwards. I substituted fresh lime juice for the olive oil in the marinade, but didn't change any of the other ingredients (balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper). A nice twist was the use of basil leaves instead of lettuce (or I suppose you could do both). Put everything on a kaiser roll, add a slice of tomato, drizzle on the rest of the marinade, and you've got yourself a perfectly easy and delicious summer meal in the making.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vietnamese Po'Boys

"Vietnamese Po'Boys" (page 117) cleverly combines the idea of bahn mi, traditional Vietnamese sandwiches, with the Po'Boy sandwiches popular in the American South. "Soy Tan Dream Cutlets" (see review here) provide the "meat" for the sandwich, while the condiments (onion, carrot, cucumber, and cilantro) are borrowed from the Po'Boy concept. The dressing is vegan mayonnaise mixed with chili sauce and lime, adding wonderful warmth to each bite. If you like things even spicier, jalapeño slices are suggested as an optional addition to layer in. Baguette or sub rolls are the breads suggested, and I used sub rolls. I used a vegetable peeler to create long thin strips of carrot (which looks like cheese in the picture), much easier than shredding a carrot and less messy as well. To keep this McDougall friendly (oil free, and whole grain), do not use oil to brown the Cutlets, use oil-free vegan mayonnaise, and look for rolls made from whole grains. These sandwiches are hearty and delicious, and make a great summer meal, especially with "The Crunchy Sesame Slaw" (see review here) on the side.