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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Walnut and Apple-Stuffed Squash for One



With its herbed stuffing and warm squash, this apply treat is comfort food of the finest order. Savory apples? Why not!?!  

1 cup firmly packed diced whole-grain bread (you could substitute a grain, like rice or quinoa)
1 TBLSP olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
½ large apple, peeled and diced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 TBLSP chopped fresh parsley
A pinch of dried thyme
2 leaves of fresh sage, thinly sliced
2 TBLSP finely chopped walnuts (or other nut)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 TBLSP apple juice
Half a squash, such as acorn, pumpkin, or butternut, cleaned of seeds, and with a nice open space to pile the stuffing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  1. Place the squash half cut-side-down on a large baking sheet for 20 minutes. (With the bread, the squash will have roasted for about 30 minutes total before you stuff it.) 
  2. Toast the diced bread on the same large baking sheet in the oven by spreading it in a single layer and stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion over medium heat, until soft, about 5 minutes, maybe less. Add the diced apple and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the bread cubes, the onion and apple mixture, and the scallion, parsley, thyme, sage, walnuts, and salt and pepper. Once it’s well mixed, drizzle in the apple juice and mix to just moisten the mixture. You want to make sure that the bread is wet, for sure.
  5. Pull the squash out of the oven and turn it over. It should be starting to soften up a bit. Stuff the opening in the squash with the apple mixture and settle it on the baking sheet. If there’s any stuffing left over, put it into a nice ramekin. Of course, if you’re anti-squash, you could bake the whole batch in a small casserole.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes. When the stuffing is golden brown and still moist, and the squash is squishy when you poke it with a fork, it’s finished. You might need to add water to the bottom of the pan if the stuffing is cooking faster than the squash. The water will keep enough moisture in the oven for everything to turn out just fine. If you need to, cover the stuffing with a bit of foil so it won’t burn while the squash is finishing up cooking.


Variations:
  • Replace the bread with rice or another grain.
  • Bake the stuffing separately and roll seitan strips around blobs of it. Fasten the rolls with a toothpick and sauté in a little bit of oil.
  • If you can eat bell peppers (I can’t), it would probably be nice stuffed in there.
  • Wrap a piece of lavash or a burrito-sized tortilla around some of the cooked stuffing, add a little faux sour cream or cheese and some greenery and call it lunch.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Apple and Pumpkin Soup for One



The days are turning chilly and so for Day 4 of Apple Week, it’s time for some nice soup. Bake some crusty bread (like Garlic Buns for One or Fluffy Biscuit for One, or even Naan for One) and dine like the royalty you know you are.

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ a medium sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, de-seeded
½ of an apple
¼ of a medium yellow onion
1 TBLSP olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic
3-5 TBLSP almond milk (or the non-dairy milk of your preference)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
A pinch of ground cardamom
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a baking sheet.
  1. Slather a little olive oil and salt and pepper on the cut side of the pumpkin or squash. Roast it cut-side-up on the prepared baking sheet for 20 minutes. Turn it on its tummy and roast for another 20-30 minutes, until the flesh is soft when you poke it with a fork. 
  2. While the squash roasts on its back, slice the apple and onion into wedges and arrange them on the same baking sheet when you flip the squash to its tummy. (So the apple and onion will roast for the last 20 minutes.) 
  3. For the last 10 minutes of roasting time, toss the garlic in there too. You can peel it later, if you want, but I like to peel it first.
  4. When they’re all cooked and cooled enough to handle, scrape the pumpkin or squash meat into a blender or food processor. Add the apple, onion, garlic (skinless, please), milk, ginger, cardamom, and salt. Puree until smooth. If it’s too thick, add water or more milk. I like mine fairly thick.
  5. Reheat it in a saucepan on the stove.



Variations:
  • Try it with coconut milk and coconut oil instead of the nut milk and olive oil.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Savory Apple Tart for One



It’s Day 3 of my Week of Apples, and it’s time for something savory. Savory apples? Sure! Apples are sweet and crunchy, and they play nicely with herbs, cheese, and onions.

For the Pastry:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
3 TBLSP vegan butter, cut into chunks
1 ½ TBLSP cold water (or part cold water, part vodka, which makes a lighter pastry)

For the Filling:
½ of a yellow onion, sliced
1 TBLSP olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, chopped or ground in the mortar and pestle
1/2 tart apple (I like Grannysmith)
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 TBLSP of shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)

To Make the Pastry:
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and cut with a pastry knife or a fork until the dough is roughly the consistency of coarse meal.
  2. Add the water (and vodka), mixing until well combined.
  3. Gather it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you make the filling, about half an hour.

Tra-la-la!

To Make the Filling:
  1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil, onions, salt, and rosemary, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or so, stirring often. The onions should be soft and golden when they’re done.
  2. While the onions are cooking, prepare the apple. Peel it (optional), quarter it, and slice it thinly. When the onions are done, take them off the heat and add the apples and walnuts. Set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Assemble the Tart:
  1. Roll the dough into a large circle. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it should be about 1/8th inch thick. That’s not very thin—roughly like a sugar cookie. It will fit on a salad plate when you're finished.
  2. Lay the circle of dough on a baking sheet or in a pie pan. You’ll want to make sure that nothing drips into your oven, so your pan should have a lip.
  3. Leaving a 1-inch gap at the edges, spread the filling out over the dough. Sprinkle the cheese over the filling, and then bring that inch-wide dough-gap up and over the edges of the filling. This will be a very rustic looking tart. Unless you’re fastidious. I’m not. <shrugs> Sometimes, it looks a bit like a volcano. Other times, it’s more sophisticated.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Let it cool slightly before devouring.

Variations:
  • Diced vegan Beer Brats arevnice in the filling.
  • Rice or quinoa mix nicely with the filling too.
  • Try dried or fresh tarragon instead of rosemary for a slightly licorice taste. 



Monday, November 24, 2014

Fresh Apple Cake for One



This is a family favorite of my friend Rachel Craig. She begged and danced around and pled her case for months. So finally I veganized the recipe and cut it down to suit one ravenous consumer. (I did share it with her. I’m only a little mean around the edges.) But this is delicious, and I will make it again and again, whenever the cake craving hits.

For the Cake:
2 ½ teaspoons flax seed meal
1 TBLSP water
½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
5 TBLSP plus one teaspoon granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking soda
A shake of nutmeg
4 TBLSP canola oil
3 ½ TBLSP almond milk (or the non-dairy milk of your choice)
½ cup peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced apple (Grannysmith, or other tart apple)
2 ½ TBLSP chopped pecans

For the Frosting:
3 TBLSP vegan cream cheese, softened
4 teaspoons vegan butter, softened
A slosh of vanilla extract
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 TBLSP chopped pecans for decorating or putting into the frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil and flour two ramekins or two spaces in a muffin tin. I thought it would be fun to use a small loaf pans to get a rectangle shape. Experiment!

For the Cake:
  1.  Mix flax seed meal and water in a small bowl. It will get all viscous and gloppy while you’re preparing the other ingredients.
  2. In another small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add in the flax glop, and the oil, and milk. Mix it until it’s fairly smooth. It will be a thick and sticky batter.
  3. Add in the apples and pecans and stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins or pans.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  6. When it’s cooled for 5 minutes, remove it from the pan and let it cool the rest of the way on a rack.

Let it cool completely. Tra-la-la! Don’t frost it early! Fiddle-dee-dee! You’ve got to wait until it’s cool! Hey-nonny-nonny!

For the Frosting:
  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a small bowl. Add the vanilla extract to make it a bit easier.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and stir enthusiastically until it’s frosting-textured.
  3. If you want to, add the pecans and combine, but not for too long. You don’t want to crumble the pecans too much. I like to put them on the outside instead, though.
  4. Refrigerate until the cake is completely cooled.

To Assemble the Cake:
  1. Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the frosting over the top of one cake. It will be bumpy. It’s a feature. Luxuriate in it. You might have to slice off the puffy tops of one or both cakes to make them nestle nicely. (As evidenced by the photos, I thought of this step AFTER I’d frosted them.)
  2. Place the other cake on top of the frosted one, and frost the sides and top.
  3. Decorate with pecan pieces, apple slices, or you could even leave it plain!


I am a terrible cake froster. There’s documented evidence of this fact. So I doubled the frosting recipe and was rather generous with it and put the pecans on the outside to make up for this horrible deficiency. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Apple-Cinnamon Waffle for One



You know the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, this recipe can keep the blues away too (unless you mean the music. This recipe cannot stop the music). It’s quick and easy and can make any morning feel like a celebration.

1 ½  teaspoon ground flaxseeds
1 ½ teaspoon water
5 TBLSP plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
A pinch of baking powder
1 teaspoon agave nectar
4 ½ TBLSP non-dairy milk (I like almond milk)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vegan butter (I like Earth Balance), room temperature
A dash of cinnamon
A slosh of vanilla extract
4 TBLSP grated, peeled apple (I like grannysmith, but use what you like), about ½ an apple
1 ½ TBLSP chopped walnuts (or the nut of your choice)
  1. In a small bowl, whip the flaxseeds and water until it’s frothy.
  2. In another bowl, a larger one, like a cereal bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, agave, non-dairy milk, canola oil, vegan butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the frothy flax seeds.
  3. Fold in the apple and nuts, and set the batter aside while the waffle-maker heats up.
  4. Lubricate your hot waffle iron—I use baking spray, but my mom used to grease the plates with oil after she washed them so they were already lubricated. I don’t use mine often enough to leave it lubed, but you do whatever suits you.
  5. Add the waffle mixture to the center of the hot waffle plate and spread it evenly around with the back of your mixing spoon. Close the waffle-iron and try to leave it closed until the light goes on again. I know it’s hard. But try to be patient. Once it has begun to cook, you can peek a bit without making a mess. It’s done when it’s golden brown.
  6. Serve with sliced apple, a sprinkle of ground ginger, and maple syrup. Yummy!


Variation:
  • Toss in some crystalized ginger that’s been all chopped up when you toss in the grated apple.
  • Use maple syrup instead of agave nectar.
  • Top with vegan cream cheese and orange marmalade, apple butter, fig jam, or your favorite preserves. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fluffy Biscuits (or Hamburger Bun) for One


My mother gave me a James Beard Bread cookbook when I was eight or nine years old, and that’s how my love affair began. This recipe makes a very soft biscuit that’s a perfectly good hamburger or sandwich bun. But it’s a quick bread (no real rising time, no yeast), so it will be a bit crumbly, as any good biscuit should be.


Makes two fluffy biscuits or one hamburger bun

6 TBLSP all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ TBLSP vegan butter, cut into pieces
3 TBLSP non-dairy milk, plus a splash for the tops
Sesame seeds (for a hamburger bun)


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best results make sure your ingredients are very cold. 

  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.
  2. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter pieces until the flour has the texture of coarse grain.
  3. Pour the milk over the flour and stir gently with a fork or spoon until it comes together.
  4. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few times until it's not super sticky anymore.
  5. Pat the dough gently to about an inch thick. Fold the dough over itself and pat it out to an inch thick again. Repeat twice more, so that in the end, you’ve folded it three times. Be very gentle! No pounding! Little baby pats!
  6. Fold the dough one more time, and pat the dough into a rectangle about ¾ of an inch thick. Cut it into two biscuits (with a knife) or leave it whole if you’re making a hamburger bun.
  7. Brush the biscuits with a daub of milk. I just splash a little into a small bowl and use my fingers. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, if you’re using them.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the tops are golden.


This tasty meal was a Fluffy Biscuit with chunky mustard, Daiya faux cheese, Tofurkey Beer Brat, pickle, and lettuce.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup for One



This simple little dish will make your kitchen smell marvelous and it will fill your tummy in the most satisfying way ever. And it’s orange. More food should be orange, don’t you agree?

½ TBLSP olive or coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, sliced
1 small sweet potato (about ½ cup), chopped into small cubes
1 dried apricot, diced
Dash of turmeric
Dash of ground cumin
Dash of ground ginger (or ½ inch of fresh, diced)
¼ cup water
Pinch of salt
Zest of ¼ orange (or dried)
1 ½ TBLSP orange juice (from the orange you just zested), about ¼ of an orange
1/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk—coconut would be lovely)
Ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the whole serving, heat the oil and toss in the garlic.
  2. Add the carrots and sweet potato, dried apricots and spices. Toss them around in there for 3-5 minutes, softening the veggies a bit. Don’t burn the spices, though. Just brown ‘em. Your kitchen should smell fabulous.
  3. Add the water and salt, give it a stir, cover it, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. You’ll probably want to turn the heat down a bit, so you don’t boil all the water away. The object is to soften the veggies, but not turn them into mush. You should be able to push a wooden spoon through the veggies when they’re cooked to perfection.
  4. Add the zest, orange juice, and almond milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Use an immersion blender or pour the soup into a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth.
  6. Top with ground black pepper and serve.



That yummy looking side dish is homemade naan topped with faux cream cheese, diced yellow onions, avocado, home-grown sprouts (alfalfa, mung, and broccoli), with a bit of chopped cilantro and some chopped raw almonds. It was yummy too.