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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unbacon for One

Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of experience with bacon from a pig. But I like the idea of a crunchy, crispy fried something-or-other to sprinkle on my salad, slice into my sandwich, or serve as a side with breakfast. This is an adaptation of someone else’s recipe that made twice as much (and had nightshades in it)—my recipe will make about a dozen strips, maybe more if you slice it really thin.

For the Brown Dough:
½ cup vital wheat gluten
1 TBLSP nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup water
1 TBLSP maple syrup (or brown sugar)
1 TBLSP tamari or soy sauce
1 TBLSP liquid smoke
½ TBLSP miso paste (yellow or red)
½ TBLSP vegan Worcestershire Sauce (from the recipe below or store bought)
½ TBLSP olive oil
For the White Dough:
2 ½ TBLSP vital wheat gluten
½ TBLSP garbanzo bean flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 ½ TBLSP water
Pinch fine sea salt or kosher salt
½ TBLSP olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper or brown sugar for the outside (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out a foot-square piece of aluminum foil somewhere out of the way.
Make the Brown Dough:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the gluten, yeast, and onion powder.
  2. In another small bowl, mix together the water, syrup (or sugar), tamari (or soy sauce), liquid smoke, miso, Worcestershire Sauce, and olive oil. Make sure that the miso and the sugar (if you used it) are completely dissolved.
  3. Combine the gluten mixture with the water and syrup mixture until it’s well mixed. It will be a smooth and very soft dough.
  4. Divide the dough into three or more pieces.

Make the White Dough:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the gluten, flour, and garlic powder.
  2. Add the water, salt, and olive oil, stirring it into a loose and smooth dough.
  3. Divide the dough into two or more pieces.

Assemble the Unbacon:
  1. On the aluminum foil you’d prepared earlier, flatten one of the pieces of Brown Dough into roughly a square or rectangle shape, about 1/4–inch thick. Don’t worry about it being even.
  2. Spread one of the pieces of White Dough on top of the brown rectangle. It doesn’t have to completely cover it, as this is what makes it look like natural marbling.
  3. Repeat, altering the layering until all of the pieces are used and piled up on top of each other. You can hang some dough over an edge and roll it around the other dough too. There’s really no reason at all to be tidy here.
  4. Once all the layers are on, shape the dough into a slab about 1-inch thick. I started with a rectangle that was about 5 inches by 4 inches and then folded the short ends together to make a nice stack because the White Dough didn’t always reach the edge of the Brown Dough. My slab was about 2 ½ inches by 3 inches and 1-inch tall in the end.
  5. If you like, rub the outside of the slab with freshly ground black pepper, maple syrup, or brown sugar. You could also cut the slab in half lengthwise and rub each half with a different coating.
  6. Wrap the slab of Unbacon in the foil, like a present. Be sure to seal the edges well so it steams itself and doesn’t get dried out. Place the wrapped package in the oven on the middle rack.
  7. Bake for 90 minutes.
  8. Let the Unbacon cool in the foil until it’s cool enough to handle.

To Serve:
  1. Slice the Unbacon thinly if you want it crispy and thick if you want it chewy.
  2. Fry slices of Unbacon in a shallow pan with a TLBSP of olive or canola oil. It should be lightly browned and crisp around the edges. Don’t overcook!
  3. Blot off any excess oil in a paper towel before serving warm.  

You’ll want it crumbled into salads, laid across sandwiches and burgers, and it makes an excellent side for a Nomlette or faux fried eggs (coming shortly).
Worcestershire Sauce
This great little sauce is a welcome component in many dishes. Mine is not only vegan but also nightshade-free. Yay!

1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup tamari (or soy sauce)
2 TBLSP brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground yellow mustard seed or dry mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and let cool completely before using.

Store in an airtight container for up to three months. It may need a little shaking up every now and then.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Clementine Green Beans for One

When my dad and I traveled to China, we ate the best clementines (tangerines) I’ve ever been fortunate enough to consume. The trees they were picked from were barely feet away, and a huge bag of them only cost about $0.25. The only unfortunate part of the situation was that my dad began singing “Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, oh my darling Clementine” every ten minutes or so for the duration of the trip. And still. <sigh> He still sings it constantly.

Handful of green beans, ends chopped off
1 cup of water
1 shallot, diced fine (or two green onions, or a TBLSP or so of finely chopped red onion)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup clementine juice (or orange juice—oranges are easier to juice, for sure)
Pinch of dried oregano or 1 teaspoon of fresh, finely chopped
1 clementine, peeled and segmented
1 TBLSP tamari or soy sauce
1 TBLSP slivered almond (toasted, raw, or however you like them best) for garnish

  1. Set the green beans to boil in the water. The sauce and the beans will take about the same amount of time to cook.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the shallots, garlic, and olive oil until they just begin to wilt.
  3. Once the shallots and garlic are starting to wilt and are fragrant, add the juice and oregano.
  4. When the juice is just about to boil, add the clementine segments and tamari.
  5. Serve the sauce liberally over the green beans and then festoon the whole shebang with almonds.

 This would also be wonderful using asparagus instead of string beans. I like it served over a grain, like brown rice, quinoa, or millet. But you could certainly just eat it plain. I just don’t like to miss out on any of that juice, you know?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Salad Sushi for One

Two of my favorite things are salad and sushi. I like them eaten together as a meal, but what if you combined them—and made sushi out of the salad? I had this idea because I wanted a salad and I was out of leafy greens. But I’m not sorry! This is me, doing the happy dance.

1/3 cup sushi rice,
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 TBLSP rice vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
½ stalk celery, sliced into thin strips (julienned)
½ carrot, sliced into thin strips (julienned)
2 TBLSP pumpkin seeds (or other small nut)
5 black olives, sliced and diced
1 TBLSP fresh parsley or cilantro, diced
2 sheets nori (for rolling)

  1. In a covered pot, cook the sushi rice in ¾ cup water until all the water is absorbed and the rice is soft, about 20 minutes. (Put it on to boil, and once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and cover it.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the still-hot rice (once it’s cooked), and mix it in with a smooshing motion. Let the rice cool all (or at least most) of the way to room temperature. Don’t refrigerate, though, or it will get stiff.
  3. Organize the fixings on the nori by making a row of rice, then putting the onions, celery, carrot, seeds, olives, and parsley on top of it and then capping it with another row of rice. I use a little tool to help press it together, but you could do it right on top of the nori if you’re good at rolling sushi. Roll the fixings inside the nori and then seal the end by rubbing a piece or two of rice on the flap of bare nori.
  4. You should be able to get two, maybe three rolls out of this. Slice into eight even rolls and serve with Green Goddess Dressing or soy sauce/tamari and wasabi. Or both! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tofu Adobo for One

This simple dish is so yummy, I’m upset that I didn’t know about it and make it sooner. This one is good for people who don’t like to make a fuss, who like simple dishes that taste fancy, and who are hungry. A couple of the steps take a few minutes, but most of the steps you mix something up and walk away for a bit. Even if you count pressing and waffle-ironing the tofu, it's only six steps!

½ package firm tofu, pressed* and waffle-ironed*
2 ½ TBLSP white vinegar (I use rice vinegar, but any other colorless vinegar will do)
2 ½ TBLSP soy sauce or tamari
1 large clove garlic, crushed
8 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
  1. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaf in the pot you plan to cook the tofu in, one with a lid.
  2. After pressing and waffle-ironing the tofu, cut it into bite-sized cubes (or other shape) and place it in with the marinade. Cover it. Refrigeration is optional. Let it sit for 1-3 hours.
  3. Uncovered, bring the marinade with the tofu still swimming in it to a boil, and then lower the heat, put the cover on, and let it simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Then uncover it and simmer until the sauce is significantly reduced and thickened, perhaps another 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf. (You don’t want to chew on a bay leaf. They’re sharp.)
Serve over steamed rice and surrounded by veggies.

*Press the tofu by slicing the block of tofu lengthwise into1-inch thick slabs. Place the slabs on a plate and cover them with another plate. Weight the upper plate with a can or two, or perhaps a heavy pot. (I have a little device just for pressing tofu, but it’s not really necessary.) This technique pushes water out of the tofu so you can put your own flavoring in. You definitely don’t want to put wet tofu on the waffle iron or you’ll have a big soggy mess. You really have to press the tofu first. You can skip the waffle-ironing, though, if you like a softer mouth feel.

*Waffle-iron the pressed tofu by making sure that the waffle plates are well-lubricated and heated to a high temperature. Place the slabs of pressed tofu between the iron’s plates and waffle ‘em for 10 minutes or so, until they’re firm and slightly golden. This technique makes a wonderful texture and also makes the tofu more receptive to marinades.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Simple Green Stir Fry for One

You can use whatever green veggies are in season, or, you could go wild and throw other colors in there too! This is one of my go-to recipes—I can add soy sauce, more or less of the various greens, toss some kale or spinach in near the end, or just squirt some lemon juice at it. It tastes different every time I make it!

1 TBLSP canola oil
1 TBLSP sesame oil
¼ leek, diced or sliced
½ cup broccoli, chopped coarsely
1/3 fennel bulb, sliced or chopped
5 stalks asparagus, chopped bite-sized
2 mushrooms, chopped
2 green onions, cut into coins
½ inch ginger, peeled and chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
Shake or two of Chinese five spice
Handful of cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
Sesame seeds to garnish
  1. Place the oils in a sauté pan or wok and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the leeks, broccoli, fennel and asparagus and turn it to coat. Stir it frequently while you prepare the other vegetables. You’ll add them slowly because they need less time cooking.
  2. Add the mushrooms, then the onions, then the ginger and garlic. Add in the Chinese Five Spice and the cilantro leaves. You might want a wee bit more sesame oil at this point, just so you get the flavor of it. It’s finished when the broccoli and fennel are soft enough to eat happily.
  3. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve over rice or on its own, or stuff a piece of pastry with it. Yummmm. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Strawberry Cake for One

Where I live, I can get strawberries all year, and it’s nice to have fresh fruit in your baked goods, wouldn’t you agree? This cake is so simple, you’ll wish you’d made it sooner.
For the Cake:
6 TBLSP all-purpose flour (whole wheat works nicely, too)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch salt
2 TBLSP granulated sugar (less, to taste)
Slosh of vanilla extract
2 TBLSP melted coconut oil
2 ½ TBLSP almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 TBSP fresh strawberries, chopped
For the Frosting:
3 TBLSP vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon crushed fresh strawberries, juice included (use a garlic press or potato masher) (It took about 1 ½ small strawberries)

For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one ramekin for one large cake and two for smaller cakes or layers.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add in the vanilla extract, oil, and almond milk, stirring until just combined. Fold in the strawberries, trying not to crush them.
  2. Place the batter in the ramekins, dividing into even batches if you want a layer cake.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch and just starting to turn golden.

One of my layers refused to cook because it was heavily laden with strawberries, so I zapped it in the microwave for about a minute and thirty seconds. You can’t even tell which one it was!

For the Frosting:
  1. Cream the butter in a small bowl. Keep going until it starts to seem a bit fluffy. Don’t shirk. This is an important step.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, blending until the sugar is well-integrated. Don’t worry if there are lumps. Once the moisture is in, you can work on those.
  3. Add the crushed strawberries, stirring with considerable enthusiasm until the frosting is smooth, fluffy, and spreadable.

The frosting may need a few minutes to cool down so it doesn’t slide off your cake. Or, you might be a super-swift froster and can slam that cake into the refrigerator before it slides off. I am not so efficient, though, so I let the frosting rest in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Assemble the Cake:
  1. Once the cake is completely cooled, slice off the rounded tops so that you have a flat surface to frost. You can use the tops and any left-over frosting to make a sandwich cookie. Yummm. (I didn’t have any leftover frosting because I kept tasting the frosting to see if it was stiff enough. So I slopped some jam inside the sandwich instead.)
  2. Place one layer on a plate and raise it up a bit so you can access all its little edges. I put mine on an upturned bowl. Frost the top of that layer completely. If you like, put diced strawberries in there too. I did. Yummm.
  3. Place the unfrosted layer on top of the frosted layer. Frost the sides and then the top of the stacked cake. Decorate with sliced strawberries, crushed almonds, or chocolate chips—whatever pleases you! Let the cake rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so before consuming like the crazed strawberry hound you are!

  • Try substituting almond extract for the vanilla and putting some crushed almonds on the outside for decoration.
  • Toss in some chocolate chips (perhaps 2 teaspoons) with the strawberries.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Quinoa-Crusted Pizza with Squash and Tahini for One

I don’t know about you, but when the price of asparagus drops, I go a little nuts with it. Today’s offering combines the filling crunchiness of quinoa with the unctuous smoothness of a tahini drizzle and a tangy pesto sauce. You won’t miss the gluten or the cheese. Both the pesto and the tahini drizzle make extra, which will make you happy at another meal, too.

For the Crust:
½ cup quinoa, thoroughly washed and soaked in water for 8 hours, and drained
A pinch of salt
¼ - 1/3 cup water
For the Sauce:
I bunch fresh basil
½ bunch fresh cilantro or parsley
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and baked in the oven for 20 minutes (more garlic is good too)
1 ½ TBLSP olive oil
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
2 TBLSP rice vinegar (or other white/clear vinegar)
2 TBLSP sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted, and hulled) or other seed or nut
Salt to taste
For the Drizzle:
4 teaspoons tahini
1 TBLSP nutritional yeast
Several shakes of onion powder
Several shakes of garlic powder
1 TBLSP freshly grated horseradish (optional—you could use hot sauce, if you wanted)
2 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
A pinch of fine sea salt
4 TBLSP water (more, If needed to make it thin enough to drizzle)
For Toppings:
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas or other bean, rinsed and drained well
6 stalks asparagus, steamed and chopped bite-sized
2 green onions, diced
6 black olives, sliced or diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet, pie tin, or baking dish with parchment paper.

Make the Crust:
  1. Put the soaked quinoa, salt, and ¼ cup of water into a food processor. Whirl away. The result should be about the consistency of pancake batter. If it’s too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, let it drip from a strainer for a few minutes.
  2. Spread the mixture evenly on the cookie sheet (I like to make a rectangle, but you could make a more traditional circle) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is firm.
Make the Sauce:
  1. Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the sauce (basil, cilantro, etc.) in a food processor or blender and whirl until it’s not chunky. It doesn’t have to be super smooth, unless you like it that way.

Make the Drizzle:
  1. Put the tahini, yeast, onion and garlic powders, grated horseradish, vinegar, salt, and water into a small bowl and whisk until it’s smooth. Or you can use a food processor or blender. It’s your decision.

Assemble the Pizza:
  1. When the crust is out of the oven, spread a thick layer of the pesto sauce over the top of it and fling chickpeas all over it.
  2. Put the crust back into the oven for 3-5 more minutes, until everything is warmed through.
  3. Pull the warmed pizza out of the oven and top with asparagus, green onions, and olives. Salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with the tahini sauce.
  4. Bake again for 3-5 more minutes. Be careful not to burn the crust.