May 21, 2014

back to basics - homemade soy yogurt

Everyday Vegan Eats has been out for about a week now and I hope you have seen the recipes from the cookbook floating around the web. Don't forget to enter the giveaways for the book on Tami Noyes' site and Robin Robertson's site before they end today.

Since the book is hopefully in a few hands by now, I'd like to post a few recipes that didn't get into the book. These recipes are important in the sense that having the ability to make them at home is not just beneficial economically, but also gives us the chance to make these basic recipes ourselves, controlling the quality as well as the ingredients.

I speak of dairy substitutes: soy yogurt, vegan sour cream and vegan cream cheese.

While developing recipes for EVE, I realized how important it is to be able to make these basics ourselves, in case they are hard to attain or, just simply, are more desirable as homemade products.

I did a lot of research regarding the dairy equivalents of yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese and had a few epiphanies. From these revelations I realized that I could make a really excellent vegan sour cream and vegan cream cheese using vegan yogurt. The only catch is that homemade yogurt is the best.

There are a few commercial vegan yogurts on the market, but the only one I would recommend is the Whole Soy brand, in terms of texture and flavor. Since Whole Soy has just returned to the market, I haven't had the chance to test the sour cream and cream cheese recipes using Whole Soy yogurt, but I did have the chance to try my recipes using the other brands on the market, unfortunately, with dismal results.

Another issue regarding store-bought yogurt, beside flavor and texture, is the difficulty in finding a brand of plain vegan yogurt that is unsweetened. That is the best kind to use in savory dishes and since good brands are few and far between, homemade is your best bet.

Conclusively, the best vegan yogurt is one you make yourself. The good news is that it is easy! All you need is soy milk with sugar content of 6 grams (this is the optimal sugar content to help feed the live cultures) and a small container of plain yogurt from the store. Any brand will do as long as it contains live cultures: almond, coconut or soy, it matters not.

After you make your first batch of yogurt you will make any subsequent homemade yogurt using your own homemade yogurt to start a new batch. In addition, yogurt you make using your own yogurt will get better and better with every batch!

Let's get started!

You will need:

  • 1 quart soy milk with 6 grams of sugar at least
  • large pot
  • thermometer - I use an instant read thermometer
  • fine-mesh strainer
  • store-bought plain yogurt with live cultures (you will use 1/4 cup)
  • bowl with plastic wrap
  • warm place to incubate yogurt, such as dehydrator
  • cheesecloth or nut milk bag


Transfer your milk to a large pot. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Boil the milk for two minutes and remove from the heat.


Cool the milk to about 110-degrees F, but no more than 112-degrees or less than 100-degrees. Cooling the milk will take about 15 minutes.


Strain the cooled milk through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. This step will produce a smooth final yogurt, removing any soy milk skin that developed as the milk cooled.


Whisk in the 1/4-cup yogurt and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.


 Place the bowl in a warm spot, one that will keep the inoculated milk at a steady 110-degrees F for 9 hours. 6 hours. [I found 9 hours made the yogurt too tangy - start checking it at 6 hours and see if you'd like more tang.] A dehydrator or the Instant Pot 7-in-1 (which you can use to prepare it from start to finish0 works beautifully. Check out some other warm spots at the end of the post.

After 6 hours your yogurt will look like this. If you tip the bowl you can see the whey and the curds separate somewhat. You will be able to make thicker yogurt when you begin using your own homemade yogurt for the culture.


Transfer the yogurt to a container and cool the yogurt in the refrigerator. The chilling will thicken the yogurt a bit more. Chill for at least a few hours.


When chilled, remove 1/4 cup of the yogurt and set aside to culture your next yogurt. Drain the yogurt for 20 minutes through 8 layers of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag by transferring all of the yogurt to the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Place the nut bag over a strainer and the strainer over a bowl. 

There you have it. Homemade soy yogurt. Whisk the yogurt using a whisk before storing in the fridge to use as needed. 

You will need homemade yogurt to make vegan sour cream and vegan cream cheese. Those posts will be coming in the following weeks.

As a gentle reminder, the giveaway for Tamasin Noyes' and Celine Steen's new cookbook, Vegan Finger Foods, will be ending May 29, so make sure you have entered HERE.

Warm Places to Incubate Yogurt

Yogurt incubates best at 110-degrees. If all else fails, get a yogurt maker.

Here are a few ideas for an ideal environment to incubate yogurt:

 ~ A yogurt maker! ~ Dehydrator set to 110-degrees. ~ Oven that maintains a 110-degrees with the aid of a pilot light and oven light. ~ Oven that maintains a 110-degrees with the aid of 2 tea candles. Light 2 new tea candles after 4 hours. ~ Place an electric heating pad set to medium between two bath towels on the counter; place the bowl on the towel and wrap another bath towel over the bowl to make a warm nest. ~ Transfer the yogurt to 2 (1-quart) jars; place jars in 3-inches of hot water in an ice chest; reheat the water as needed.

If any of these warm places are less than 110-degrees, the incubation will take longer, about 1 to 2 hours more. Do not let the yogurt incubate for longer than 10 hours, though; it begins to develop a yeasty flavor.

May 18, 2014

hungarian twice-baked potatoes + blog tour summary

Growing up, my mother used to make mashed potatoes loaded with caramelized onions and paprika. This is a complete comfort food for me and when my kids asked for twice-baked potatoes, I was instantly reminded of those potatoes.

When I think of traditional twice-baked potatoes, I have flashbacks of lots of cheese, butter and bacon. Loaded with fat. The beautiful thing about these potatoes is that they are flavorful without all the added fat. I also added spinach to my filling to increase the nutritional element. Very happy I did! The kids loved it and this is a wonderful version of a baked potato. 

Use an ice cream scoop to remove the inside of the baked potatoes, but take care to leave enough potato in the skins to maintain the integrity of the walls of the potatoes, otherwise you'll wind up with a floppy potato skin, one difficult to stuff. 

As I am sure some of you know, my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, hit bookstores and Amazon earlier this week. To launch the book, we are celebrating with a blog tour, one going from Canned-Time to Robin Robertson's Global Vegan Kitchen. Most of the stops along the tour are offering a chance to win my cookbook, so I hope you have maximized your chances of winning by entering every single one!

Along the tour, you've had a chance to sample recipes from the cookbook and I couldn't be happier! 

A word of note, though, many of the giveaways are ending in the next few days, so don't delay. Click the links and enter to win!


GIVEAWAY ends May 20th.

Photo by Angela McKee, featuring Scampi Pasta:

GIVEAWAY ends May 19th.

GIVEAWAY ends May 20th.

Photo by Cadry

GIVEAWAY ends May 22nd.

Photo by Tamasin Noyes

GIVEAWAY ends May 22nd. This is a double giveaway in that Robin is giving away my book AND her new More Quick-Fix Vegan cookbook. Win them both!

Oakland Veg featured my Pad Thai recipe:

Mrs. Pine Nuts also wrote up a review on her blog. She was one of my amazing testers and she runs down the dishes she made. Her post is HERE.

If you do not win, don't fret! Either buy your own copy or wait for more giveaways coming next week. GiGi at Veganville and Maggie Muggins at The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado will be our next stop along the blog tour, with giveaways at both stops.

As a reminder, if you haven't entered the giveaway for Tamasin Noyes' and Celine Steen's Vegan Finger Foods cookbook, make sure to enter HERE.

I am linking to these recipe parties: The blogs hosting Healthy Vegan Fridays are Suzanne at Hello Veggie, Anna at Herbivore Triathlete, and Kimmy at Rock My Vegan SocksI’ve also decided to submit this dish to What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Peas and Crayons. 

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan FridaysWhat I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. 

Pin it!

May 5, 2014

"vegan finger foods" giveaway


It's that time again, when another wonderful cookbook I tested for is being released across bookstores nation-wide and I get to give away a copy to a lucky winner. I seem to be rotating back and forth between Robin Robertson and the duo of Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen. 

The duo's latest creation is Vegan Finger Foods. Get the party started! The ladies have conjured up "more than 100 crowd-pleasing recipes for bite-size eats everyone will love." Including my family!

During testing, I feasted on Spinach Swirls (above), with a Quickie Marinara dip. Below is Banh Mi Lettuce Wraps, which is truly scrumptious.


This book, as all of their cookbooks from Fair Winds, is just as beautiful as their first one, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! They keep the goodies coming with the Hot Pepper Toastwiches, pictured below.



Another favorite was the Green Snackers, above, perfect for dipping or just chowing down, and Polenta Fries, below. This is the way to throw a party!


And this was one of my faves during testing, the Portobello Horseradish Bruschetta. The mushroom was tender, the sauce just piquant enough and the pea shoots added just the right touch of crunch and earthiness. So delicious!


The ladies and Fair Winds Press have sanctioned the publication of the recipe for the first photo, Spinach Swirls with Quickie Marinara:

Spinach Swirls
Yield: 20 swirls

These easy little spinach bites are an impressive part of an appetizer spread. Try to resist eating the filling with a spoon, but we won’t blame you if you do. Serve these with our Quickie Marinara (page 16).

For the dough:
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon Sucanat
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup (120 g) white or regular whole wheat flour
1⁄2 cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Nonstick cooking spray

For the filling:
3 cups (90 g) finely chopped spinach
2 tablespoons (15 g) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper

To make the dough: Stir together the water, Sucanat, and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast bubbles. Add the flours, oil, Italian herb blend, and salt. Mix on low until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 6 minutes. (Alternatively, knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.) Add an extra 1 tablespoon (8 g) flour or (15 ml) water if needed to make a cohesive dough. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray.

Round the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl, turning so the oiled side is up. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into an 8 ≈ 10-inch (20 ≈ 25 cm) rectangle.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5).

To make the filling: Stir together the spinach, nutritional yeast, oil, and pepper in a medium-size bowl. Spread half the filling evenly on each rectangle. Roll from the 10-inch (25 cm) side, pinching the dough together as you go, including the ends and the last edge of the dough, so the swirls don’t unwind in the oven. Cut each roll into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices, and place on a baking sheet with the filling side on top, and against the baking sheet.

Bake the rolls for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned and the centers are cooked. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Quickie Marinara
Yield: 13⁄4 cups (415 ml)

Extra easy, famously fast, and very versatile, this is a go-to in our homes to use as a pizza sauce,
for dipping sandwiches or calzones, and served alongside our Twisted Bread Sticks (page 108) and Spinach Swirls (page 111). Nobody will believe you can make a sauce this flavorful in only 15 minutes. Because canned tomato sauces vary in consistency, add a tablespoon or two (17 to 33 g) of tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1⁄2 cup (80 g) minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 can (15 ounces, or 425 g) tomato sauce
Fine sea salt, to taste

Heat the oil and onion in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, herb blend, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant, but do not brown it.

Add the sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasonings. The sauce may be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Gently reheat over low heat if refrigerated.

After you've come back from the kitchen with a plate full of Spinach Swirls, enter the contest to win your own copy of Vegan Finger Foods. By now you know that I hold giveaways quite frequently, so hopefully you won't mind following me on Twitter or liking me on Facebook. Once that is taken care, just leave a comment and a winner will be chosen on May 29, my son's birthday. Contest open to US and Canada residents. {Winner will be announced on the second of June}

Since my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, will be releasing next week, there will be more giveaways before the month is up! 

AND, in case you missed it, Tami is hosting a raffle (Quilts for the Cause) which benefits two amazing charities. Check out the info HERE and this gorgeous quilt she is raffling off: 

I am linking to these recipe parties: The blogs hosting Healthy Vegan Fridays are Suzanne at Hello Veggie, Anna at Herbivore Triathlete, and Kimmy at Rock My Vegan SocksI’ve also decided to submit this dish to What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Peas and Crayons. 

May 3, 2014

ratatouille fideo + "more quick-fix vegan" winner

Ratatouille is a popular French dish that I'm sure we've all heard of. The dish is a mixture of stewed squash and eggplant. However, most of the ratatouille I've seen recipes for do not cook the veggies long enough. While I love most of my veggies with a crisp-tender texture, this is one of those exceptions, very much like the Southern way of cooking greens. The vegetables simply melt in your mouth.

The vegetables in this recipe are first sauteed then braised and finally baked. This leaves the vegetables tender and flavorful.

Where does fideo come into action? Fideo is a Spanish or Mexican dish using toasted noodles. The word fideo actually means noodles in Spanish.

Capellini or angel hair pasta is toasted and then braised with broth. Toasting the pasta adds a unique nutty flavor to the final dish. In this instance, I put them together. It was so delicious! I am a complete fan of ratatouille now and even the chilled leftovers were a delight.

The recipe is simple enough to toss together, but make it soon, before your kitchen becomes an inferno in the middle of summer. Strangely, my kitchen was extremely hot these past few days while I hear snow is blanketing parts of the US. Odd weather patterns!

Ratatouille Fideo   
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice
1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch dice
1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch dice
2 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup tomato paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ cups vegetable broth, divided
8 ounces angel hair pasta
¼ cup minced parsley

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and chili flakes. Stir and cook until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring, until the onion is golden brown, about 4 more minutes.
2. Stir in the squash and eggplant. Continue to cook, stirring, until the squash is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and and tomato paste. Cook until the paste is  browning, about 2 minutes. Season well with salt and black pepper.
3. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
5. Toss the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil with the dry pasta and transfer the pasta to a 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake the pasta until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
6. After the vegetables are done simmering, transfer them, along with the remaining broth to the baking dish. Add the remaining 3 ½ cups vegetable broth. Do not stir. Bake the casserole until the pasta is tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the parsley and serve.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

I'd like to apologize for not posting the winner yesterday, as I said I would. I got very busy and I dropped the ball. I realize how frustrating it can be when you actually return to check on who the winner is (as I've asked you to do!) and then search in futility for something that isn't posted. I will make sure to do better from here on!

Check out a few more of the pics of recipes from Robin Robertson's much-needed and sure-to-be-loved  "More Quick-Fix Vegan" cookbook.

Out of 32 entries, the winner is comment number 11, Kelly G.
Congratulations! Please contact me at zsu [at] zsusveganpantry [dot] com. Please contact me by Monday night.

Someone asked in a comment if I would try to contact the winner. The answer is: of course! In fact, I have tried to contact winners before for past giveaways. Unfortunately, I've either been unable to since there was no contact info or the person never responded. 

Stay tuned for another giveaway coming on Monday! 




Enter to win Vegan Finger Foods on this blog:

Click book to enter

MY Cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats is now available for purchase, but you can enter to win a copy at: by Angela McKee (Contest ends May 20th)

Fudge Brownie. Recipe at Canned-Time.

Veggie Girl by Dianne Wenz (Contest ends May 19th)

Scampi Pasta. Recipe at Veggie Girl.

Cadry's Kitchen by Cadry (Contest ends May 20th)

I am linking to these recipe parties: The blogs hosting Healthy Vegan Fridays are Suzanne at Hello Veggie, Anna at Herbivore Triathlete, and Kimmy at Rock My Vegan SocksI’ve also decided to submit this dish to What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Peas and Crayons.