Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Not Chicken Soup and Matzofu Balls for Vegan Holiday Dinners (Plus the soup is a great basic veggie broth)

The Jewish High Holidays are a few weeks away, but I’m already thinking of my menu. Since I mostly eat vegan and always have vegetarian or vegan guests, I plan to have some dishes free from animal products for them to enjoy. Usually that means I look to the vegetable-friendly cuisines of the Sephardic and Middle Eastern traditions, but this year I have a hankering to serve some dishes from my own Eastern European heritage.
The Not Chicken Soup works well as a chicken soup alternative or as a vegetable stock to use in other recipes. Serve it on its own or with my Matzofu Balls, an eggless version of the classic Ashkenazi knaidlach (matzah ball). Made from matzah meal and silken tofu, these dumplings have the look and texture of the classic matzah ball. They taste best when served warm. I like to vary the recipe by adding 1/4 cup of fresh minced flat leaf parsley when I add the matzah meal for beautiful green-flecked dumplings.

Not Chicken Soup (aka Vegetable Broth)
Makes about 9 cups of broth

1 medium large onion, unpeeled
3-4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots, unpeeled
1 large parsnip, unpeeled
1 large russet baking potato, unpeeled
1 large turnip, unpeeled
8 small white or brown mushrooms
2 medium to large stalks of celery, with leaves
2 medium tomatoes, halved
1 bunch fresh parsley
About 10-12 cups water
1/2 plus 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 plus 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2-4 cups diced warm steamed vegetables, optional
Finely chopped dill, optional

Remove outer layer of onion peel if dirty, trim roots and rinse unpeeled onion, cut in quarters and put in a large soup or stock pot. Add garlic cloves. Trim, scrub and rinse carrots, parsnip, potato and turnip. Cut into 1” pieces and add to pot. Wipe down mushrooms, trim off end of stem, cut in half and add to pot. Cut celery into 1” pieces and add to pot with tomatoes and parsley. Add water just to cover (use a little less rather than a little more). Add 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, stir and bring to a low boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft and the broth is full tasting (30-45 minutes). If the broth is too strong add water. If broth is too weak, remove cover, return to low boil and let cook until the broth is reduced to desired strength. Strain soup, pressing down on vegetables to extract liquid. Discard solids. Return broth to pot and return to a simmer. Add remaining salt and pepper or to taste.  If desired, serve by adding steamed vegetables to soup bowl, ladling in soup and sprinkling with dill.
Matzofu Balls
Makes 16
1-12 oz. box of soft silken tofu (shelf-stable aseptic package)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne (ground red pepper)
1 cup matzah meal
1/2 cup unflavored seltzer
Whip or beat tofu until smooth in large bowl. Mix in oil, salt, turmeric, pepper , cayenne and matzah meal. Stir well. Add seltzer. Stir gently until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Put a large pot of water on the stove. Cover and heat to boil. Form batter into 1” balls. Add to pot once water boils. When water returns to a low boil, cover  and simmer until the dumplings are cooked  and fluffy, about 20-25 minutes (cut one open, there should be no raw or hard spots). Turn off heat. Hold in covered pot for up to an hour. Drain. Serve warm in hot soup. If needed, reheat in simmering water or broth.
Chicken graphic courtesy Microsoft Office Clip Art. Adapted by me.  A version of this article first appeared in j. Weekly.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All Mixed Up -- a Crazy North African Dish for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

This vegan shashuka (means crazy, all mixed up with lots of other spellings including shashooka) is traditionally a spicy tomato based stew from North Africa that has been adapted and adopted all across Israel.  Usually eggs are poached in the sauce (which can range from mild to fiery), but I put  cubes of medium firm tofu in the stew and heated them through just before serving.  Serve with crusty bread or pita. It will also work well on top of pasta, rice or grains.
I didn't take notes but my basic technique was to brown 1/2 onion and 4-5 cloves of minced garlic in oil (I used peanut), add a tsp. or more of cumin, salt and pepper and sauté a bit.  Then I added 5-6 roughly chopped tomatoes and large red pepper chopped and sautéed until peppers began to soften, adding a bit of water as needed.  Add small can of tomato sauce (8 oz.) OR a few heaping Tbs. tomato sauce and a cup or so of hot water, adding more water as needed to keep dish a bit on the saucy side (I used the tomato paste option in this version).  Add a heaping Tbs. or to taste -- Yemenite hot relish (z'hug) or harissa or chile garlic paste.  Mix well. Sauté until simmering.  Add a few handfuls of chopped kale or other greens.  Once they begun to wilt, add 1 lb. rinsed and drained (but not pressed) tofu cubes. (I cut the tofu cake in half horizontally then cut the 2 halves into cubes. Too large the cubes are hard to eat, too small and they will disintegrate into the sauce.  I think I cut each half into about 12 cubes) 
This is often thought of as a breakfast food, but I like it as a light meal anytime.  It is very versatile and other or additional vegetables can easily be added.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Make Your Own Almond Milk -- It's Utterly Easy and Delicious

Fresh-made almond milk is amazing and incredibly easy to make. It is very customizable and avoids all the thickeners and additives commercial almond milk has. (Although it doesn't have the fortified vitamins or calcium, either.)  I like to pour it in my cereal or drink it plain or flavored with chocolate syrup.  It is a good base for recipes calling for non-dairy milks.  It works okay in coffee if you drink it right away. (It separates out when left sitting, so you'll need to give your hot drink a stir if you linger.)
It lasts for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, just shake before using if it separates out.
This recipe makes a slightly creamy, nutty flavored milk.  Add agave syrup or other sweetener to taste if you'd like afterwards. (I skip that.)  A bit of vanilla or cinnamon would also be nice additions. 

Almond Milk
Makes slightly more than 2 cups
Once your nuts have soaked, this recipe takes longer to describe than do.  (If your tap water doesn't have a nice, clean taste use filtered or bottled water.)
Equipment notes -- You'll need a nut milk bag -- a reusable, closely woven mesh bag available from Whole Foods and other natural foods retailers -- to strain and squeeze the milk through.  If this is not available, line a colander or strainer with several thickness of cheesecloth, leaving enough cloth overlapping the sides that you can gather the ends together, twist it tight and squeeze the milk out.
You'll also need a blender -- I used a regular home blender with a pretty strong motor.  You can use one less or more powerful, just watch for when the nuts are totally pulverized.
1 cup shelled raw almonds (with skins - no need to blanch or rub off the skins)
Water to cover
2 1/2 cups water
Cover almonds with water and let sit overnight (8-10 hours).  Drain and discard water.  Rinse almonds several times.  Put in blender jar with 2 1/2 cups water.  Blend until almonds are totally pulverized and only infinitesimal bits.  Pour into nut milk bag that is propped up in a large bowl or a 4-cup measuring cup. (Make sure it is big enough to catch the almond milk that will soon be flowing through the bag.) Scrape out all the liquid and solids that remain behind into the bag.
Lift nut bag up out and over the bowl and squeeze (as if you were milking a cow if you like that analogy) until all possible liquid is squeezed out of the pulverized nuts.  Transfer to storage container, stir in any sweeteners or flavoring, cap/cover and store in refrigerator.  Shake well if milk separates.
If you like yours creamier or thinner, use more or less water. 
You can discard the leftover bits of almond or reuse.  Reusing seems like a great idea, but I never seem to do that.  Maybe next time I'll use in a cake or stew.
Update:  Added the nut meal to a soup.  It gave it a creamy texture with a pleasant grit, plus it amped up the protein.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ethiopian Lentil Stew - Messor Wot

You can read the back story and explanations here, but I wanted to be sure this wonderful vegan recipe was also posted here.  If you need gluten free not only is the wot (sometimes written wat) gluten free, but if you can find real injera, check to see if it's 100 percent teff.  Teff is also gluten free.

I buy injera (a fermented flatbread) premade from a local vendor, but often Ethiopian restaurants will sell you an order very reasonably.

I wrap leftovers in injera or other flatbread with mango chutney for a quick lunch.

Messor Wot – Ethiopian Lentil Stew
Serves 6
This is my adaptation of a traditional lentil stew. Berbere is available from some specialty markets and on line. See my post at for a substitution and another vegan Ethiopian inspired recipe. Cooking time is approximate. Sometimes lentils will take longer to cook. Works well made in advance and reheated.

2 red onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. plus 2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/3 to ½ cup berbere
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
½ cup olive oil
4 cups water
1 lb. lentils (green or brown supermarket style)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt

In a large, heavy pot over medium high heat, add onions (with no oil or other fats), cook until translucent and soft (about 5-10 minutes). Stir if needed or add a bit of hot water if browning. Do not let brown or burn. Add garlic and 2 Tbs. tomato paste. Stir well and cook for a few minutes. Add berbere, ginger and cardamom. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, adding hot water if needed to keep from sticking or burning. Add oil, stir well, cook for 5 minutes. Add lentils, mix well. Add 4 cups water. Bring to simmer. Cover and simmer until lentils are soft and falling apart, about 35-40 minutes. Sauce should be thick and not at all soupy, but add hot water if needed. Add remaining tomato paste, pepper and salt. Mix well. Let cook a few more minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve with green salad with injera (Ethiopian flat bread), millet or rice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

oops i forgot to post

Don't worry, I'm still true to vegan in my way, still developing recipes, just been a bit busy to post.  I'll do some catching up and get some new info on this site soon..