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Monday, August 31, 2015

Banana Custard for One

If you want to feel like a very grown up person and a child at the same time, this is the dessert for you. It’s quick (although you have to wait for it) and easy, and you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen.

½ tablespoon cornstarch
4 teaspoons sugar
1 pinch salt
½ cup almond milk
¼ ripe banana, squished and mashed thoroughly
¾ teaspoon vegan margarine
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch nutmeg

  1. Whisk cornstarch, sugar, and salt together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add milk and banana and whisk until lumps disappear.
  3. Heat over medium heat, whisking, until the custard thickens.
  4. When the custard is thick enough, take the custard off heat. To test whether the custard is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and run your finger through the coating. The clean spot will not close back up when it’s thick enough.
  5. Whisk in butter, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  6. Pour into serving bowl, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate. If you cool it with a plastic sheet pressed to the surface, a skin won’t form on the top.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Spinach Salad with Carrot and Ginger Dressing for One

This dressing is nice cold on spinach salad, or warmed by boiling the carrots before blending them up with the other ingredients and then served over steamed veggies and rice. It’s that zing of ginger that will make your feet launch into the happy dance all by themselves.

For the Dressing:
1 carrot, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 TBLSP vinegar (red wine is nice, or try rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
2 TBLSP water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil (peanut oil works nicely too, or it can all be olive oil)
½ teaspoon brown rice syrup (or maple syrup)
¾ teaspoon soy sauce

For the Salad:
I large handful of raw spinach (washed, and chopped, if you like)
½ carrot, sliced into coins or diced
2 green onions, chopped
2 mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/3 avocado, sliced or diced
1 tangerine, peeled and sectioned
Peanuts for the top
Ground black pepper, to taste

Make the Dressing:
  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and whirl until it’s all smooth and silky.
  2. If you want it even smoother, steam the carrots for 5-6 minutes until they’re easily pierced with a fork.
  3. If you like it thinner, add more water or vinegar, depending on your tartness quotient.

Make the Salad:
  1. Settle the spinach into the bottom of your serving bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the carrots, green onion, and mushrooms on top of the spinach.
  3. Nestle the tangerine comfortably on top of your veggie confetti. Intersperse the avocado pieces among the tangerine sections.
  4. Dress the salad and top with peanuts, and ground black pepper, if you like.

  • I like this as a salad dressing, but it could go nicely on your steamed veggies, as a dipping sauce for sushi or spring rolls, and in its thick form, it makes a nice bright pizza sauce. You could marinate your tofu in it before stir frying, too. Yummmm.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Creamy Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette for One

It’s summer, and my attention has returned with a giggle of glee to salads. This little dressing whips up in no time, uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, and it tastes like a million bucks! (Well, not the actual bucks. Just the metaphorical ones.)

¼ shallot, diced small
2 TBLSP olive oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2/3 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/3 teaspoon agave nectar (or maple syrup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Whirl all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

 Use on salads, as a dip for crudités, as a marinade for tofu…go wild! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kale Tahini Green Dressing for One

This dressing isn’t just a beautiful color, it’s also delicious. Use it on your salads, but also fancy up rice, noodles, seitan—just about anything you want!

2 TBLSP olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 ½ TBLSP tahini
¼ cup packed de-stemmed kale
A pinch of salt
A wedge’s worth of lemon juice
Water, if you want it thinner

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whale away on it until it’s completely smooth and dreamy creamy.
If you don’t use it all right away (this recipe makes about ¼ cup) store it in the refrigerator. It will separate a bit, but if you’ve put it into a nice jar, you can just give it a shake. Yummmm.

The salad in this photo plays a supporting role is what I call “kitchen sink salad,” which means that I put rather a lot of bits and bobs from the refrigerator in there. This one has alfalfa sprouts, chickpea sprouts, wheat berry sprouts, lettuce, radish, green olives, carrot, mushroom, green onion, kidney beans, avocado, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Green Goddess Dressing for One

This unctuous and liquescent sauce will predispose you toward gratuitous and superfluous polysyllables without apparent foundation. You won’t need much of this creamy richness, and you’ll love the color as much as the texture and taste. I find it useful on starches (like rice, quinoa, and noodles) as well as on steamed veggies and salads and as the secret sauce on my bean burgers. 

1 small garlic clove
1/3 of an avocado
1 ½ teaspoons water
6 fresh basil leaves
3 sprigs of fresh parsley, stems and all
1 green onion (dark green part only, not white)
2 teaspoons tahini
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
Dollop of maple syrup or agave
(optional slosh of olive oil)
  1. Process the garlic clove in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.
  2. Add in the avocado, water, basil, parsley, onion, tahini, and vinegar or lemon juice. Process until smooth.
  3. Add salt and pepper and just a slosh of sweetener.  
  4. If it’s too tart for you, try adding more tahini, water, or a slosh of olive oil.

This beautifully green dressing is good cold on salads or as a dip for crudités, but I love it over quinoa and steamed vegetables, perhaps with a bit of veggie burger crumbled over the top.

The above photo is quinoa with zucchini, sweet potato, red onion, and crumbled Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Barley Burger that had a bit of vegan mozzarella melted on it.

This last photo (and the one at the top of the page) is mixed greens, carrots, radishes, jicama, green onion, pear, Kalamata olives, and leftover Quinoa, Sweet Potato, and Barley Burger. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fruit Salad with Faugurt Dressing for One

Fruit comes in so many different sizes, shapes, and colors, you can really keep yourself entertained endlessly by experimenting with the various offerings in the produce department.

1 banana, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 tangerine, peeled and segmented
½ orange, peeled and segmented
½ apple, sliced into bite-sized pieces
½ pear, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 strawberries, sliced
1 TBLSP raisins
2 TBLSP non-dairy yogurt (I like soy)
2 shakes cinnamon
½ teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  1.  Slice and otherwise prepare all the fruit and combine it in your serving bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the yogurt, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
  3. Dump the yogurt dressing over the prepared fruit and give it a good stir.

  • Use whatever seasonal fruit you can get your hands on, like grapes, pineapple, kiwis, and figs.
  • Add nuts. I like the complex flavor that toasted almonds offer, but pretty much any nut—even a salted nut—is pretty good.
  • Put the yummy salad into a bowl of shredded lettuce.
  • Put the yummy salad into a pie crust and give it a bake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Carrot, Jicama, and Cherry Salad for One

It’s cherry season and I can’t get enough. But you don’t have to obsessively eat them right off their stones, and they don’t have to be baked into a pie. Nope. You can make this unique salad and have dessert and lunch at the same time!

1 small carrot
¼ of a jicama, peeled (about enough to make ½ cup of shreds)
1 small green onion (or two, if you like ‘em)
12 cherries, pitted and halved (dried cherries are nice too)
1 TBLSP Dijon-style mustard
1 TBLSP rice vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  1. Grate the carrot and jicama into a small bowl. Dice the green onion, pit and halve the cherries, and add them to the bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and maple syrup, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour the dressing over the shredded veggies and toss with wild abandon. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the top to make it pretty.

That’s a side of baked carrot chips. I just sliced them thin with a potato peeler, brushed them with oil, and then wove them together. They crisped up in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven in about 15 minutes, turning once in the middle.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Avocado, Cucumber, and Dill Pickle Salad Dressing for One

Sometimes, the collection of things in the refrigerator is a little odd, and you just have to make do. That’s when the magic happens!

½ medium avocado, peeled and pit removed
1 TLSP water
Juice of 1/8 lemon
¼ cup cucumber slices
¼ of a whole dill pickle
Sprinkle of turmeric
Pinch of ground cumin
Slosh of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a food processor or blender, place the avocado, water, and lemon juice and whirl away until it’s fairly smooth.
  2. Add in the cucumber slices and whirl until it’s fairly smooth.
  3. Add in the pickle, turmeric, cumin, and olive oil, and blend until it’s well combined. You might need a bit more olive oil or water if it’s too thick. 
  4. Add in the salt and pepper. You’ll need less salt than you think because the dill pickle adds some salt, so taste it!

This salad includes red-leaf lettuce, green onion, red onion, radish, carrot, cucumber, asparagus, chopped raw almonds, and a tiny bit of Miyoko’s Double Cream Chive Cheese. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Simple Peach Pie for One

It's summer, and the trees are heavy with fruit. One of my favorites is the delicate and fragrant peach, and this simple little pie takes advantage of both those things and not only that, it's pie!
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 TBLSP shortening or vegan butter
1 ½ TBLSP ice water (or half vodka)

1 TBLSP granulated sugar
½ TBLSP all-purpose flour
1 very ripe fresh peach, sliced and diced
A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vegan butter

            1 TBLSP almond milk
            1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Make the Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then add the water/vodka and mix until it holds together in a very soft dough. (Vodka is a pie-maker’s trick. If you use it the crust will be a little lighter. In such small quantities, though, you may not notice the difference. The alcohol burns off, so you don’t taste it, but, like the water, it evaporates and leaves little fluffy openings in the dough.)
  2. Form the dough into a ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Just squish it together until it holds.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 7- or 8-inch circle or square.
  4. Put the dough, still flat, in the refrigerator for an hour or two (overnight is fine). I use the same waxed paper that I roll it on (speeds clean-up), slide it onto a plate, and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. You might prefer plastic wrap if you have a lot of stinky things in your fridge.

Make the Filling
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a ramekin
  1. Combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl.

Assemble the Pie
  1. Cut out a section of dough large enough to cover the bottom and sides of your ramekin, with about a half-inch extra at the top for folding over.  You may have to do some trimming to avoid thick places.
  2. Toast the empty bottom crust in the oven for 5 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dough. It doesn’t need to be cooked through, just develop enough sturdiness to support the wet fruit.
  3. Cut the remaining dough into a round that will cover the top of the ramekin. Or you could cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, or make lattice strips and weave them. If you do the lattice, weave it on the waxed paper and transfer it to the top of the pie as a unit so the bottom crust doesn’t get soggy while you weave over the top of the filling.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust.
  5. Place the crust or assemble the lattice on top of the pie. Crimp the edges to the ½ inch of extra dough from the bottom crust.
  6. Brush the top crust with almond milk. I just slopped some into a small bowl and did it with my fingers, so there’s no need for fancy equipment here. Sprinkle the crust lightly with the sugar, just enough to make it sparkly. If you made a solid crust on top, prick it with a fork in several places.
  7. Put the ramekin on a baking sheet (it can get messy), and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Let it cool on a rack before selecting the utensil by which you will destroy this treat. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Salad Spring Rolls for One

I love salad. I also love food that I can pick up. What better combination than playing with Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a nice crispy salad?
For the Sauces:
2 teaspoons peanut butter
2 TBLSP soy sauce or tamari
1 TBLSP rice vinegar
A shake or two of garlic powder
A shake or two of ground ginger
1 teaspoon spicy or Dijon mustard
1 ½ TBLSP soy sauce or tamari
For the Rolls:
4 spring roll wrappers (from the Asian food section at the grocery store)
¼ cup leftover cooked rice
1/6 avocado, sliced
½ carrot, julienned
½ stalk celery, julienned
1 green onion, diced
3 slices faux cheese (I used Gloucester with Onions and Chives, from Skye Michael Conroy’s “The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook”); you could also use tofu or cream cheese
Make the Sauces:
  1. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, tamari/soy sauce, rice vinegar, and the garlic and ginger powders.
  2. In another small bowl, combine mustard and tamari/soy sauce.

Make the Rolls:
  1. Dip one spring roll wrapper in a plate of cold water. Don’t let go of it! Just slide it in there flat, pull it out, flip it over, and slide it in there flat again. You may need to do this two or three times to get it just a little bit soft but not dissolving into mush.
  2. Place the wet wrapper flat on a plate. Pile a little rice in a line on the lower third of the paper leaving plenty of room at the edges. Top with avocado, carrot, celery, green onion, and faux cheese. Don’t over-stuff!
  3. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the stuffing. Fold in both sides to form an envelope, and then roll the nice little package up. Don’t worry if it’s a little sloppy. By the fourth one, you’ll be an expert!
  4. Repeat until you’ve used up all the wrappers and all the filling. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Raisin-Filled Cookies for One

It doesn’t really matter what time of year it is, sometimes, you just want a holiday cookie. These little guys remind me of Christmas (although I couldn’t tell you why), but I wanted to celebrate Hug a Medievalist Day, so I made them on a Thursday in April. They’re also good on other days—just try them!
For the Dough:
1 ½ teaspoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon water
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup plus 1 ½ TBLSP pastry flour (all purpose is okay, if that’s all you have)
1 ½ TBLSP vegan butter
3 TBLSP granulated sugar
Splash of vanilla extract
2 ½ TBLSP almond milk or other non-dairy milk

For the Filling:
1/3 cup raisins
3 TBLSP water
1 TBLSP all-purpose flour (or more pastry, if that’s still out)
3 TBLSP granulated sugar

1 ¼ TBLSP confectioner’s sugar for decoration

For the Dough:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed and water. Set it aside to become viscous and eggy for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, baking powder, and flour.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and when it’s fluffy, add in the flax glop, vanilla, and milk. Mix it thoroughly.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry until the dough is thick and well combined.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough out, making it quite thin, about as thin, like pie crust. Use a round 2-inch cookie cutter to make twelve cookies (your mileage may vary), re-rolling the scraps until all the dough is used.
  6. Let them rest while you make the filling. Refrigeration isn’t necessary.

For the Filling:
  1. Place the raisins, water, flour, and sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until the raisins are finely chopped.
  2. Put the gloppy mixture into a small saucepan on medium high for 5-8 minutes, until it forms a gooey jam. Stir often, as the sugars will burn, and because of the dark color, you won’t be able to tell until you smell it.

Assemble the Cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  1. Lay half of the rounds of dough on the prepared cookie sheet.
  2. Add a dollop of the raisin mixture to the center of each round.
  3. Optional: With the remaining rounds of dough, cut little leaf shapes out of the centers with a sharp knife. I did this while the jam was cooking, keeping a close eyeball on the jam.
  4. Top with the remaining rounds, crimping the edges together. You might use a fork to make a pretty (and firm) connection on the edge. You want a good connection because you don’t want the raisin filling to bubble out the sides. I used a cocktail fork because the tines were close together.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until barely starting to change color and firm to the touch.
  6. While still warm, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the tops of the cookies. You could do it nicely, through a strainer, or just blow little puffs off a teaspoon, like I did.

If you have leftover jam, save it to plop into your morning oatmeal or smear on some toast. It’s pretty sweet, but oh, so yummy! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sweet Miso Noodle Salad for One

This simple dish can be made with a variety of noodles (try soba!), any green veggie (or other colors), and anything else in the salad section of your refrigerator. It’s the dressing that makes it so yummy, so consider using rice, quinoa, or even potatoes instead of noodles, too!

2 TBLSP mild white miso
2 TBLSP rice vinegar
1 ½ TBLSP tamari (or soy sauce)
1 ½ TBLSP agave or maple syrup
Slosh toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBLSP canola oil (or other light-flavored oil)
1 serving linguini noodles (about as much as can be encircled between thumb and forefinger), cooked
½ cup arugula or other bitter green (like dandelion, kale, chard, or even spinach)
¼ cup thinly sliced carrots
¼ cup thinly sliced radishes
2 TBLSP fresh cilantro or parsley
1 green onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted 
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, vinegar, tamari, agave, sesame oil, and garlic. Keep going until the only chunks are the garlic bits. Add the canola oil and whisk until the dressing is creamy.
  2. Place the cooked noodles in your serving bowl, and toss the arugula, carrots, radishes, and cilantro with it.
  3. Pour the dressing over the top, and toss until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Top with green onions and sesame seeds.

  • Substitute cooked green veggies for the fresh ones, like broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini. Just dunk them into cold water to cool them down, or plop them on there hot.
  • Use the sauce over steamed veggies. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Green Onion Pancakes for One

This quick bread is one of my favorites in a Chinese restaurant. I love that it’s savory and you can put all kinds of dipping sauces on it, but also that it’s quick, oniony, and delicious!

½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup very hot water (bring to a boil, pour into a measuring cup, and cool for a few minutes)
2 teaspoons canola oil plus more for frying
Slosh of sesame oil
Pinch of kosher salt
2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Combine the flour and water, kneading until the dough is formed. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and soft, and a little spongy, perhaps 5 minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes. (You can use the time to make a dipping sauce.)
  4. Meanwhile, combine the canola and sesame oils in a small bowl.
  5. When the dough has finished its little nap, cut it into two pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
  6. Roll one ball into a flat rectangle with a rolling pin. You’ll want to flour the board fairly heavily, as this is a pretty sticky dough.
  7. Brush the dough slightly with the combined oils, sprinkle generously with salt and about a TBLSP of the green onions.
  8. Roll the dough up over the onions like a cigar or rug. Then take the cigar and curl it into a spiral, like a snail’s shell/ Press the spiral down with your palm a little bit.
  9. With a rolling pin, flatten the spiral into a disk that’s about 1/8th inch thick.
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 with the other ball of dough, the oil, salt, and green onions.
  11. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with canola oil. Fry the pancakes one at a time for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  12. Place the pancakes on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any unnecessary oil. Cut each pancake into six pieces and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

You can see in the photo that I’ve gone with plum sauce. You can find the recipe here too.

  • As dipping sauces go, my favorite is equal parts of miso paste, mirin, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
  • Mustard makes a pretty good sauce all by itself. So does faux cream cheese. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Banana Crumb Muffins for One

Even though there are plenty of strong flavors in these little bready treats, the banana flavor really sings through. It’s enough to make you sing for joy, too, but wait until you’ve finished chewing, please!

For the Muffins:
2 ¼ teaspoons flax seed meal
½ TBLSP water
1 medium banana
2 TBLSP brown sugar, packed and slightly heaping
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 TBLSP vegan butter, melted
Slosh vanilla extract
6 TBLSP whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose)
2 TBLSP rolled oats
1 TBLSP walnuts, chopped
For the Crumble:
1 TBLSP sugar (I like brown sugar, but any kind will do)
1 ¼ TBLSP all-purpose flour
½ TBLSP vegan butter

Preheat oven the 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease 2 or 3 muffin spaces in a muffin tin.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the flax and water and let it sit, getting gloppy, for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a larger but still small bowl, mash the banana. It can be as smooth or lumpy as you like, depending on whether you like to encounter pieces of banana in your muffins or not.
  3. Add the brown sugar, baking soda, and salt, and stir them together with the banana. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Now add the flax glop and give the whole thing a mix again.
  4. Add the flour and oats and stir until it’s just barely combined. Add in the walnuts and fold them gently in. Don’t overwork this batter!
  5. Plop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling them about ¾ full. You can fill them more if you like that little muffin-top effect.
  6. Using the same bowl, mix the crumble ingredients together. It should be, as the name implies, crumbly, like wet sand. Top the muffins with the crumble.
  7. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the muffin tins and devour like the beast of breakfast that you are.

  • Toss in a little cinnamon with the dry ingredients.
  • Add some raisins or chocolate chips—or both!—with the walnuts.