Aug 30, 2012

roasted corn bisque

A bounty of corn was to be had in my CSA box a few weeks ago. We love this sweet taste of summer, roasted, barely cooked, slathered with butter and a dash of salt. In its simplicity, nothing really says summer more than an ear of corn. Unless it is a ripe tomato or juicy nectarine or decadent eggplant... 

I had a mushroom bisque slated for the menu on this day, but as soon as the new box arrived, it was time for a change of plans. Roasting corn brings out the sweetness in it, so let's talk roasting. 

Whenever a restaurant dish specifies "roasted" on the menu, the dish gets special attention from the customers. That is because the word 'roasted' evokes a sort of nostalgia, even though it is probably evoking a misconception. Most folks consider roasting to be done in the oven, but technically, and preferably, roasting should take place on the stove top where the cook can see, smell and hear the food cooking to perfection. It is the best way to maintain the proper heat in the pan and adjust seasoning and timing appropriately. Were we to be cooking animal flesh, we would need to finish it in the oven (under ideal conditions), but we have no such restrictions and can easily finish the cooking on the stove top. Roasting is not killer-high-heat cooking, but medium heat cooking. It gives you an opportunity to coerce the food to release its sweetness, its flavor, its aroma. It prevents burning the food (which makes it bitter) and leaves you with the best possible dish. This of course takes time, around 20 minutes, so patience is a must for success.

This bisque utilized the roasting process of corn. Since the corn releases its own 'cream' once blended, there is no need to add vegan milk or cream. After the soup is cooked properly, blend to pulverize it. At this point it is ready to serve as a rustic bisque. If you want a silky, smooth, velvety soup, one you would be able to order at a fancy restaurant, use a very fine sieve, a very fine cheesecloth, or nut bag, to remove the pulp. 

This is a little messy and takes a bit more time, but the resulting texture is worthy of a holiday table or a weekend-night dinner when you want to pamper yourself and your guest(s).

Cost Breakdown

corn: $3

onion, celery, carrot: $.75
herbs, garlic, tomato paste: $.75
flour, wine: $1
Total to make 4 servings:

Aug 21, 2012

tater tot casserole

Alas the first chosen winner for Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day never responded and therefore some other lucky person is the new winner! 

Laurie is the new winner!
Laurie, please contact me to own your very free new cookbook 
by Tami Noyes and Celine Steen!
veganaide (at) yahoo (dot) com

In other interesting development, below is Tater Tot Casserole, Duggar style, just a lot healthier. 

Tater Tot Casserole is amazing because you can utilize whatever protein you'd like for the bottom layer: soy curls (thanks, Dorian!), TVP, ground seitan, tofu, marinated, grilled and diced, or tempeh. I used Soy Curls, rehydrated and sauteed with onion and garlic. The sauce is a creamy "chicken" style gravy. The whole thing is slathered with tater tots and baked to golden crispiness. 

It is as easy as you want it to be and it is sure to be the favorite of any kid. Throw some veggies on the side to make it a complete meal. 

I've blogged about Tater Tot Casserole before, but this time, I am taking the time to write up the recipe.

Cost Breakdown

Soy Curls: $3

onion, flour, spices: $.75
almond milk: $1.50
tater tots: $3
Total to make 5 servings:

RECIPE UPDATE: this dish has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.

Aug 12, 2012

"vegan sandwiches save the day" + cordon bleu wheels

Traditionally Chicken Cordon Bleu has involved three different animals: chicken, pig and cow. This dish is a chicken breast, either butterflied or pounded thin, rolled around bacon, prosciutto or ham with a slice of cheese. It is all rolled up, breaded and fried.

Daiya has introduced a few new products (at least in my neck of the woods) and since the wedge of Jack, a soft, easily melt-able, cheese-sub, sounded perfect for the veganization of Cordon Bleu, here is a new rendition of Cordon Bleu. 

My previous Cordon Bleu post involved replicating the dish using gluten as the main ingredient. I wanted to change things up a bit, especially for all those who are not yet loving gluten as much as my family does.

For this version I utilized puff pastry dough as the medium of rolling choice and relegated the gluten (or tofu) to the inside along with the cheese.

Let's break it down: the puff pastry bakes up crispy, especially with the addition of the panko crumbs it is rolled in, layered with thinly sliced seasoned seitan (or tofu) and slivers (or shreds) of vegan cheese. 

Comparatively, the prep for this version is ridiculously easy: Prepare the seitan, roll the dough, slice the Daiya, layer, slice the roll into wheels and bake.

Naturally, I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided on another component. I add kale and parsley sauteed with garlic. Parsley should not be just the condiment as it is originally in the traditional recipe where it is added to the breading. In addition, kale added to anything can only be wonderful, as far as I am concerned.

The result was fantastic!

About as good as dishing out the contest winner for Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Out of the 61 comments who entered the contest, number 32 is the winner, awesomeveganrad. Please contact me by next Sunday to claim the book!
(my email is   

The second place winners are encouraged to purchase their very own copy!

Aug 7, 2012

bryanna's palm-oil free vegan buttah

Palm oil production has skyrocketed in the recent times. Unfortunately, most of that production is taking place in third world countries where there is a dismal lack of oversight for the welfare of the natives, workers, animals and environment. Most of the palm oil plantations are centered in Peninsular Malaysia, where orangutans reside. They and three other native mammals are expected to be extinct by the end of the century, due to habitat loss and the outright killing of these animals, as production invades their habitat and palm oil plantations are encroaching into their environment.

As vegans, vegetarians and just plain caring folks, we are indirectly contributing to this problem. If you grab your Earth Balance spread, the best vegan butter substitute until now, you will note that palm oil is an ingredient. As of yet Earth Balance has not responded to the information of habitat loss of orangutans since they are still using palm oil after National Geographic reported on this in November of 2008. What is a vegan to do with a ready to spread toast or a warm fluffy pancake? 

Bryanna Grogan Clark, food scientist extraordinaire, has once again come to the rescue by creating the Buttah. I cannot give you the recipe, but she has it for free here via

Once you mosey over there and read the recipe, or if even just the thought of making your own butter is giving you heart palpitations, hold on. While I cannot give you the recipe, I can make you a How To Breakdown for making the Buttah. 

The process is more intimidating than difficult; in fact, the whole thing, including prepping, took about thirty minutes, minus the cooling of the prepared Buttah. 

Procure the weird and wacky ingredients: xantham gum (or guar gum), liquid lecithin, cocoa butter (fair trade and deodorized - not as bad as it sounds!), a digital scale, and get blending! 

And don't forget to enter the cookbook giveaway  for Tami Noyes' and Celine Steen's Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. Drawing will be at the end of the week.

UPDATE: Earth Balance's response to the palm oil crisis:

Click Here

Aug 1, 2012

"vegan sandwiches save the day!" + giveaway

Happy August, everyone! 

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day is in my hands and I am ready to pass it on to one lucky winner! Tami Noyes and Celine Steen are the authors of this can't-do-without cookbook of over 100 to-die-for sandwiches. I know. I tested for them last summer - "the super summer of sandwiches." 

To start the Fall off with a bang (I know, it isn't fall, yet, but ever since we had a cool day here in Chicago my youngest has been on the Halloween kick and I am feeling a little autumn-y even if the weather is not.) By Fall I mean, it is time to blog again. What better way to begin the blogging new year than with a free, brand spanking new cookbook, hot off the presses? Tami and Celine are sending me a cookbook for being a tester and I am getting my own from Amazon (via so I have a copy up for grabs. The only restriction is that I can only ship in the US. 

Since I received the book, the family has been wanting me to actually use it - so, very carefully, I looked at the recipe, from far away in the living room so as not to get it dirty, and made Kate's favorite: Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich. This one is made with a garlicky spread, avocado and Tami's and Celine's Moo-Free Seitan. Cute name, huh? The seitan is robust, the bread is crunchy, being served on a ciabatta bread, and the avocado gives it a deliciously creamy element. We all love this sandwich!

The second sandwich I made last night was an homage to Ray Bradbury. The author of Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes (as well as many, many other works) died last month on June 5, just shy of his 92nd birthday. He was raised here in Chicagoland, in Waukegan, and I still drive by his childhood home, my kids play in the ravine that he made so famous in Dandelion Wine and we are constantly reminded of his legacy. Tami and Celine must have seen it coming since one of their sandwiches is Something Blackened This Way Comes. Great sandwich in honor of a fantastic writer. If you haven't read Dandelion Wine or Something Wicked, you should. His writing is lyrical, poetic and just such a pleasure to read. I sometimes read him just to hear the rhythmic flow of his writing. It is just simply pure. 

This sandwich would have made him happy, I think. The delightful spiciness of the No Cluck Cutlets and the cooling relish with the creamy spread is perfectly wicked. 

I made a little side dish for these wonderful sandwiches, Crispy Kale and Patty Pan Squash.  I used the leftover blackened seasoning mix from the sandwich above as a tie-in, but that is a bonus which I cannot give away. It is in the book, though! Or, you can head over to Tami's and Celine's websites (links above) to get some free recipes, from this very book. Or better yet, get yourself a copy! 

If you want to try to win my copy, please leave a comment and I will let pick the winner.