Dec 20, 2016

prep ahead + winners of "the essential vegan travel guide"

Greetings all! Hope everyone is enjoying the ending of another year. I am so into learning about the patters of history and what brings us to where we are now, that I highly recommend The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe [AMAZON]; it turns out that we are on the cusp of a recurring Crisis. Very interesting!

I'm not into apocalypse theories so this one is really up my alley. Crisis doesn't mean the end of the world; it means a huge change that is measurable, especially in hindsight.

With that in mind - get your travel on while you can! The winners of the giveaway for The Essential Vegan Travel Guide [AMAZON] are....

US winner (of the paperback): Comment number one. Kellyanne, please contact me by December 28 with your mailing address.

International winner (of the Kindle edition): Comment number two, a bunch of random numbers and letters. Again, please contact me by December 28.

Congratulations to you both! zsu [at] zsusveganpantry [dot] com

It's been hard to miss that I've been cracking my head over how to make dinner faster, to the point that I've tried Dump Dinners (very limited in terms of possibilities) and I've tried Pantry+ recipes, but my pantry is not your pantry and let's face it, I doubt anyone actually follows pantry recommendations.

I do want to make meals faster, but I also want to make them healthy and use whole foods as much as possible. To that end, I created a few weeks of menus (testing things out before springing it on you) and I've come up with Prep Ahead.

Take one day, mine is Wednesday because CSA gets delivered on Tuesday, but if you work outside the house, that might mean Sunday, and use it as the Prep Day. Of course, pick whatever day works best for you.

Use the Prep Day to prepare whatever is possible to prepare up to 6 days in advance. A few recipes have night before prep required, but you can do that while you are finishing the daily meal.

The menu is varied, includes soy and seitan, each once a week. One pasta, a few bean recipes, a salad, a soup and a sandwich. All the meals are balanced, with grain, greens and protein.

Prep Ahead Week 2 consists of Italian Mushroom Ragu served over pasta (or rice, if you like). This is a slow cooker meal and I recommend serving it on Prep Day. It makes dinner ready when you are.

Meal 2 is Curried Chickpea Sandwich served with Bok Choy and Carrot Kinpira. Kinpira is an easy and flavorful way to cook vegetables fast. The vegetables are braised in a flavorful liquid and are ready in about 5 minutes.

Meal 3 is Chili Corn Chowder. This is another slow cooker recipe. Chowder and Chili meet forces to create a warm and hearty meal. Serve it with tortillas, tortilla chips or crackers. 

Meal 4 is Steak Salad. Cook up the prepared seitan you made on Prep Day and serve it warm over a bed of greens. It is served with Garlic Yogurt dressing and crostini - which is fancy talk for toasted bread. 

Meal 5 is Mexican Lasagna. Tortillas are baked with a vegetable and bean loaded filling. Serve with vegan sour cream or salsa and loads of radishes and jalapenos (if you like heat.)

Meal 6 is Brussels Sprouts and Balsamic Pasta. This pasta dish is brimming with roasted Brussels sprouts that are finished cooking in balsamic vinegar and served with black beans and walnuts. 

And Meal 7 is Souvlaki of tofu and zucchini served with Rice Pilaf and Spinach. Yogurt-marinated tofu and zucchini sit on top of a bed of deliciously toasty rice pilaf. This interpretation of the Greek dish is highly addictive. 

If you are game to try this Prep Ahead Menu, I have prepared a shopping list, what to do on the Prep Day, what to do on the Day-of serving and all the recipes to make this go as fast and smooth as possible. All the documents are in PDF. 

I recommend you print out the Day-of Recipes and cut the pages in half. Staple them together in the order you are planning to serve them.

Overview [comprehensive look at what is going on].

Dec 7, 2016

southwestern strata

Been busy little bees these past few weeks. My son has just completed applying to graduate school in an area that accepts woefully few applicants. He is an amazing film director, so he does have an excellent shot at it, but it's all a craps shoot.

I am posting his latest film at the bottom of this post. It's really good and I'd love your opinion about it, if you're game.

For the post this day, I am sharing a Southwestern Strata recipe. It is a perfect brunch recipe!

Strata is an interesting dish. It is supposed to be layers of white bread alternated with layers of cheese, then soaked in a milk mixture and baked. This is the very original version of strata.

Since then the milk mixture has been augmented with eggs to give it a custard-like texture and the the layers now are not so much layers, per say, as additions mixed in.

Mix-ins now can include, vegetables, meats and various types of cheeses. This being a southwestern version, it uses cornbread as the bread (I used the Cornbread Muffin recipe in Everyday Vegan Eats. Delicious!), and a homemade queso fresco (recipe coming this month).

It also includes sauteed peppers, onions and cilantro. I added spiced chorizo chickpeas since there is aquafaba in the batter anyway.

The batter is where it gets interesting. Because I fell in love with the bread pudding recipe in my cookbook Aquafaba [AMAZON], I wanted to make a savory version and this is the result. The aquafaba mixed with psyllium husk (cannot be omitted) and starch, results in a custard.

Mix, let the batter soak into the bread and bake. Serve it with some inspired tomato sauce and dig in.

As promised, here is Mikel's WE-System short film:


In case you missed it, I am hosting a giveaway for The Essential Vegan Travel Guide. My girls used it this summer when traveling in Europe and it is amazing! Go enter the contest or, better yet, pick up a copy! Contest ends December 19.

Southwestern Strata
Serves about 6

Chorizo Chickpeas:
1 cup chickpeas
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups stale cornbread (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup crumbled vegan cheese, optional (Kite Hill or Follow Your Heart block is good or use homemade)

6 tablespoons aquafaba**
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unsweetened plain nondairy milk
1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees F. Combine the chickpeas, broth, vinegar, oil, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika and salt on a baking sheet. Mix well and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet. Cover and cook until the onion is browning, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add a splash of broth if the onion is beginning to burn. Using a cover will prevent too much evaporation and help brown the vegetables without oil.
3. Add the aquafaba to a blender. With the blender running on medium speed, add the oil slowly. Add the milk in a steady stream (doesn’t have to be slowly) and the psyllium. Blend for 20 seconds. Add to a large bowl.
4. Add the cornbread, cilantro, cheese (if using) and reserved chickpeas. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes. Add to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake in a 325-degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to firm up. Serve.

** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.

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