Jun 18, 2014

bok choy and chickpeas over ginger polenta bowl

Lunch at our house these days leaves little time for cooking, but the meals continue to be needed. Couple the demand for food, about thirty minutes to cook and seasonal produce and you have the making of bowl meals.

This time I wanted to use beautiful baby bok choy that had been delivered a few days before and when I think of bok choy, I immediately think of Asian food.

I decided to saute my bok choy and serve it with chickpeas that had been sauteed with a little sesame seed oil. As soon as the chickpeas hit the pan, I knew that these beans were the bridge to making creamy polenta, studded with slices of ginger and chili flakes.

I made a simple sauce using tamari and vegetable broth and lunch was ready quickly.

While creamy polenta might not be the first thing someone thinks of as a foil for Asian food, it was really delicious. Since my hubby is away this week, I was secretly a little glad that I got to eat more than my fair share. It was a little surprising how wonderful spicy, garlic and ginger creamy polenta can be!

Bok Choy over Spicy Ginger-Scented Polenta and Chickpeas Bowl   
Serves 4

2 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
10 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
3 ½ to 4 cups unsweetened plain vegan milk
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, (half sliced thin and the other half finely grated), divided
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup polenta or medium-grind cornmeal
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
3 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil, divided
10 ounces baby bok choy, halved through the stem
6 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari

1. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in 6 minced garlic cloves and the chili flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Stir in 3 ½ cups milk, the sliced ginger and salt. Bring the milk to a simmer and using a whisk, slowly add the polenta while whisking the milk. Bring the milk back to a simmer, lower the heat until the polenta barely bubbles. Cook until the polenta is tender, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. When the polenta is cooked, stir in additional milk, up to ½ cup, to achieve a creamy consistency. Remove and discard the garlic slices, if desired.
2. While the polenta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil and the chickpeas. Season the chickpeas with a little salt and cook until the chickpeas are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add 1 tablespoon neutral oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil to the still hot skillet. Add the halved boy choy, cut side down, and cook until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
4. Heat the remaining teaspoon of sesame seed oil in the still hot skillet. Reduce the skillet heat to medium and stir in the grated ginger and the remaining garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden. Carefully add the vegetable broth and tamari. Stir and cook until the sauce reduces by one-quarter.
5. To serve, divide the polenta into 4 bowls, top each bowl with an equal amount of bok choy, chickpeas and sauce. Serve immediately.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

I'd like to give a shout-out to GiGi over at Veganville. She was one of my irreplaceable testers for Everyday Vegan Eats. GiGi is right this very minute running a contest to giveaway a copy of EVE to one lucky US or Canada resident. If you don't have it, yet, here is an opportunity to win it. 


She is sharing the recipe for the Seafood variation of Marinated Tofu from Everyday Vegan Eats. With the marinated tofu you can make such recipes as this No-Fish Filet Sandwich:

Some of you may not know that GiGi runs the very divine vegan bakery on etsy: Veganville Bakery

My son just celebrated his 19th birthday last month and I ordered a few boxes of GiGi's voopee pies for his special day. I asked GiGi not to have it delivered until his birthday because, well, they might not last long enough to make it to his birthday! 

Let me tell you that we are not short on sweets at our house, so it wasn't that my kids were hankering for sugar, but they inhaled these beauties! Veganville was nominated by VegNews for the best online bakery, and it is no surprise. 

We procured two boxes: Assorted Gift Box and Assorted Chocolate Love Box. And not a single voopee pie was left. 

Thank you, GiGi! We all LOVED the voopee pies!

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan Fridaysand What I Ate Wednesday. 
 Healthy Vegan Fridays at Rock My Vegan Socks

Jun 16, 2014

back to basics - vegan sour cream

A few days ago I read a comment on another blog that vegan sour cream was hard to locate for the author. Whether you have easy access to vegan sour cream or not, this recipe, another one that didn't make it into my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, is the perfect vegan sour cream recipe for any number of reasons: lack of availability or a need-to-know the ingredients in your condiment.

I did a lot of research into what makes dairy cream turn into dairy sour cream and I am here to share the delicious news.

Dairy sour cream is made by culturing cream. Dairy yogurt is made by culturing milk. The difference between cream and milk is the fat content. Cream is much higher in fat and therefore, dairy sour cream is higher in fat. Milk is lower in fat and therefore yogurt is lower in fat. 

It stands to reason that the difference between sour cream and yogurt is the fat content. This is the key to making homemade vegan sour cream taste delicious! Stirring vegan butter (homemade or store-bought) into homemade vegan yogurt adds much needed richness to the yogurt, which is easily made at home, and thus results in vegan sour cream. Add a little more tang to the yogurt and behold: homemade vegan sour cream. 

The tang is the next challenge. Yogurt has some of its own tang, but to make sour cream we need to add just a tad more. Most vegan sour cream recipes use lemon juice to achieve that tang, but adding just lemon juice is not enough - another dimension is needed since lemon juice alone leaves the typical homemade vegan sour cream flat.

This is where lime juice is useful. Lime juice is tangy, but since it is slightly different from lemon juice, it layers the tangy goodness, and thus offers another needed dimension of flavor without adding any unusual acid, such as vinegar.

You must use homemade vegan yogurt for this (link to yogurt making steps and recipe). All store-bought yogurt tested in this recipe did not taste good. In fact, your own homemade yogurt cultured with your own homemade yogurt is the very best! The only exception might be, which I haven't tried, yet, is Whole Soy, which has been off the market for a while, but is now back on the shelves.

Make sure that you drain your yogurt for four hours before making the sour cream. Use cheesecloth layered 8 times or a nut milk bag. Set the yogurt in the cheesecloth, set the cheesecloth in a strainer and set the strainer over a bowl. 

Now you can make your own creamy, dreamy, tangy vegan sour cream at home, in a few easy steps.




Speaking of Everyday Vegan Eats

Vegan Crunk of Cookin' Crunk, reviewed Everyday Vegan Eats and I deeply appreciate it. She made this Creamy Macaroni Salad from EVE. Thank you, Bianca!

The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado by Maggie did a bang up job of reviewing the book, complete with gorgeous photos, such as this one of the Deli Reuben:

Photo by Maggie Muggins of Vegan Cookbook Aficionado

And in case you have't seen the recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Chic Vegan has posted it:

From around the web, a few other bloggers have taken precious time and energy to review Everyday Vegan Eats, such as another one of my fabulous testers, Claire of Great Vegan Expectations, who has this great photo of Flaky Buttermilk Herb Biscuits.  Thank you, Claire!

And VegBlogger, who reviewed the book and made my kids' favorite dish: Tater Tot Casserole. Thank you for your review and kind words!

Jun 14, 2014

spinach pesto with fava beans and potatoes bowl

I've recently been on this kick of making food in a bowl. Robin Robertson has a whole chapter on bowl dishes in her new cookbook More Quick-Fix Vegan, and I know that a lot of people enjoy eating a great meal with all the components in one big bowl.

I designed this bowl of food around my produce box, hence it is seasonal and, as an added bonus, I got to use some unique ingredients that somehow always seems to find its way into my box.

Last week I received fennel, more new potatoes and fresh fava beans. Fava beans are incredibly delicious, if you ever have the opportunity to find them fresh. However, they are truly a labor of love, as the beans need to be shelled, quickly blanched and then peeled of their tough outer skin. Once the beans are blanched, the tough outer skin can be easy pierced and the delectable beans popped out of their skin.

Fava beans are buttery and creamy and I fell completely in love with them with the very first bite.

The potatoes are roasted with the fennel, which adds a wonderful light anise flavor and the ingredients are then tossed with an easy-to-make nontraditional pesto.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top of each serving to cut through the richness of the potatoes and fava beans and enjoy! I served ours with some toasted French bread.

Spinach Pesto with Fava Beans and Potatoes Bowl   
Serves 4

6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
5 tablespoons vegetable broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 pounds small new potatoes, halved
2 small fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled (about 2 cups)
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 ounce fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon neutral oil
Lemon wedges, garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees F. Combine 4 minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons olive oil  and salt and black pepper, to taste, in a small personal blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Mix the potatoes, fennel slices and garlic-mixture in a medium bowl. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet. Bake until tender and golden, about 30 minutes.
3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil over medium heat. Add the shelled fava beans and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the cooked beans to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a separate bowl. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute.Transfer to the bowl of ice water to cool. Drain the spinach and squeeze out excess moisture. Transfer the spinach to a food processor and set aside.
4. Peel the blanched fava beans. Each bean is encased in a tough outer-skin that needs to be removed.
5. Add the basil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons vegetable broth and salt and black pepper to the food processor with the spinach. Process until smooth as possible and set the pesto aside.
6. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the peeled fava beans and saute until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the roasted potatoes and pesto. Mix well to combine and cook to reheat the potatoes and pesto, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve the potatoes and beans with lemon wedges.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

Jun 2, 2014

"vegan finger foods" winner

The winner of "Vegan Finger Foods" cookbook by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen is comment number 37...Jenny Bunny.

Contact me with your address and we'll get the book out to you as soon as possible!

zsu (at) zsusveganpantry (dot) com