Tag Archives: appetizer

Vegan Cream Cheese

I am so proud of myself! I made vegan cream cheese today and it’s delicious!

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You know, sometimes I lack confidence in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and creating delicious and creative vegan dishes and meals, but, most of the time, I follow a recipe. I get a bit anxious about launching off on my own without a recipe to anchor my creativity. Oh yes, there are several dishes I can make off by heart or have invented (humous, various salads and salad dressings, chili, bowls …), but most cooking days find me consulting a recipe. Now, this cream cheese recipe … I based it on Kaylie Johnson’s Dairy Free Paleo Cream Cheese Recipe on the blog Paleo Gluten Free Eats. I followed her recipe, but I wasn’t pleased with the flavour. So, you know what I did? I added a bit of this, a bit of that until I was satisfied. While I was adjusting, I realized that I was feeling confident and sure, that I have enough experience to just go for it. Although I used someone else’s recipe to start, I made this recipe my own. I can truly call it my own because I used what I know, what I like, and made something that worked for me. Yay me! So here it is:

1 cup cashews, soaked

1 1/2 tbsps water

1/8 cup + freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/8 tsp salt

1/16 tsp finely minced garlic

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. If you are using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you shouldn’t have to blend for too long to get everything blended and the right consistency. If you have an ordinary blender, like I do, you will have to blend for at least 5 minutes, probably more, scraping down the sides as you go. I was able to keep the blender going while using a spatula to push the mixture from the sides into the middle. This way, the blender didn’t get stuck and I got everything really well blended together.

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This cream cheese is a savoury type, due to the salt and garlic, so use it in that way – on crackers, on bagels, on toast, with tomatoes … whatever your cream cheese thing is! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you could use this cream cheese in things like a layered mexican dip or in a salad dressing. Try it and let me know what you think and how you used it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a snack!

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce and Garlic Aioli

I made another yummy taco salad last weekend. I had a house guest staying so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some new recipes … you know, give “Tom” a break from being the only taste tester. The new recipes we sampled were vegan taco “meat”, vegan “cheese” sauce and a cashew garlic aioli. All were pretty good, but the cheese sauce and the aioli were outstanding!

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The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

(adapted from A Dash of Compassion’s Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce – http://www.adashofcompassion.com/2016/06/my-favourite-taco-salad-with-spicy-lentils-and-easy-vegan-cheese-sauce/)

Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world! 

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2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized potatoes)

3/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium carrots)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsps. salt

Cook the potatoes and carrots together until very soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside to cool a bit. Combine everything in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, if needed to make a pourable sauce. (I added 2 tbsps. water).

Cashew Garlic Aioli

(adapted from Vegan Heaven’s Vegan Sour Cream – http://veganheaven.org/recipe/vegan-taco-salad-lentil-walnut-meat/)

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Use this aioli anywhere you would use sour cream or mayonnaise. We ate it as a dip for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and as one of the condiments for the taco salad.

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling water

2 tbsps. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup + water

Drain the cashews from their soaking water. Put cashews, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Blend for about a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, to the blender in order to get the sauce to blend freely, but not so much to make the sauce too runny. Blend for 5 minutes in total to get a smooth sauce.

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Dinner Party Extrodinaire!

“Tom” and I just finished hosting a great dinner party. It was such a relief to get this party going because it was prefaced by organizational challenges – procrastination, rescheduling, commitment, on again, off again. Usually our little gang of dinner partyers has our dinners scheduled ahead of time, but not this time for some reason. Funny thing is I’ve had the menu planned for months! So once we nailed down a date, I was raring to go! Here is the menu:

Cauliflower Ceviche *

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad with Cilantro Cashew Cream *

Slow Cooker Refried Beans *

Chocolate Mousse – Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits *

fresh fruit (watermelon and cherries)

* see below for recipes

You can find the recipes for the Taco Salad and the Chocolate Mousse on my blog – see links above.

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Cauliflower Ceviche

(adapted from Dora’s Table’s Cauliflower Ceviche)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup of diced tomatoes

1 cup of peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber

1/2 Serrano pepper, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp (or more) salt

Put the cauliflower florets into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into a big bowl of cold water. When cool, chop finely. (I threw the cauliflower into my mini-food processor to chop). Put all the chopped vegetables in a big bowl, add the cilantro, lime juice and salt and mix together. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. We ate this with tortilla chips and alongside the taco salad as a kind of salsa.

This was the first time I made this dish. It was pretty good and was well received, but I think the next time I make it I will take it up a notch. I only put 1/2 a Serrano pepper in because I wanted to be careful about the heat, but I could easily have put the whole thing in. (You just never know with peppers … you can get a super fiery one or a fairly mild one)! Also, the dish needs more lime juice or vinegar or something to up the tangy taste. This will make the dish more liquidy, but after marinating, the ceviche could be transferred to another bowl leaving the excess liquid behind.

Cilantro Cashew Cream (This stuff is crazy delicious!)

(adapted from Oh She Glows’ Cilantro Lime Garlic Cashew Sauce)

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3/4 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tbsps. fresh lime juice (the juice of 1 whole lime)

2 tbsps. avocado

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup water

Drain the soaking water from the cashews. Through everything into the blender and blend for 2 or 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides and blend for another 2 or 3 minutes. (Unless you have a high powered blender then you can blend it until smooth in 2 minutes).

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

(my own recipe)

image2 cups dry pinto beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 small onion, diced

4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp hickory black pepper, if you have it, otherwise use plain black pepper

1 tsp chipotle paste (I make paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce through the blender, then I store the paste in a jar in the fridge)

5 cups vegetable broth

Throw everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Turn to low, coarsely mash the beans in the pot with a potato masher, and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to use. I stirred a tsp of hickory smoked salt in just before serving. (The refried beans will probably be a bit runny. When they cool down, they thicken up. You can also reduce the liquid in the slow cooker by 1/2.)

Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits

(makes 5 servings)

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1 recipe chocolate mousse

2 cups strawberries

2 cups halved, pitted cherries

2 tbsp maple syrup

5 cherries with stem attached

Make the chocolate mousse ahead of time and leave in fridge to set for a few hours. Put the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium to low heat and add the maple syrup. Bring to low boil then let simmer for 30 minutes. Put the cherries in a small saucepan and heat over medium to low heat. Bring to low boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In parfait glasses (I don’t have parfait glasses so I used wine glasses), begin the layering process. Set out the glasses, and put a layer of chocolate mousse in each. Then put in a layer of strawberry compote, another layer of chocolate mousse, then a layer of cherry compote, and finish with a layer of chocolate mousse. Of course, you need to put a cherry on top!

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Looks like a mess when it’s all on the plate, but don’t let that fool you! It was all dee-licious!

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Dill Pickle Chip Dip

I’ve probably  mentioned it a time or two on this blog, but I’ll say it again … I LOVE POTATO CHIPS! Have you noticed at this time of year, potato chips are on sale? You can’t afford to not buy them when they’re such a deal! So, of course, I have chips in the cupboard. Actually, they’re on the table right now. Right beside the computer while I type this. Open bag. Testing the recipe while I type!

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Earlier today, I thought I might like to have a potato chip snack and I started reminiscing about potato chip dips. The ones that we only had at Christmas time. The ones full of dairy! Well, I wanted a dip, a vegan dip, to go with my chips, darn it, so I just … made one! Here it is:

Dill Pickle Chip Dip

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1/2 cup organic, raw cashews

2 dill pickles

2 to 3 tbsps. dill pickle juice

1 tsp onion powder

Soak the cashews for several hours (or if you’re in a hurry like I was, soak them in boiling hot water for 20 minutes). Chop up the pickles, reserve about a tbsp. for garnish. Throw the drained cashews, pickles, 2 tbsps. pickle juice and onion powder into a blender and blend for about 2 minutes. If you need a bit more liquid, add in the extra tbsp. of pickle juice. Continue to blend for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl, garnish with the reserved chopped pickle and eat with your favourite potato chips.

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Here’s the dip chillin’ in the fridge just after I made it.

 

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Aloo Tikki – Indian Potato Patty

Last night I went out for dinner with “Tom” and some friends. We’d just been to see a play at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, a play called Love is for Superbeasts written by and co-starring my young friend, Mily (Emily) Mumford:

Love is for Superbeasts

Mily told us she often feels very hungry after a performance and it was probably 8:00 by the time we got to the restaurant so we were all ready for a meal by then. We chose an Indian restaurant because there are always vegetarian choices on the menu. Unfortunately, there were several disappointments at this restaurant. Fortunately, one of the dishes was inspirational … in that, I had visions and dreams all night long about how to recreate the dish and make it better! The restaurant called it Chaat Tikki, and it was fried potato cakes served with chickpeas. A little internet research clarified a few things for me:

  • chaat means snacks

  • tikki means croquette

  • aloo means potato

What I ate was a popular street food snack called Aloo Tikki which is a fried potato patty. This appetizer is often served with Chana Masala, a spicy chickpea stew/curry, and with chutneys and yogurt. My vision for this dish was to bake rather than fry the patties and serve them on a layer of Chana Masala (“Tom” is the Chana Masala chef in our household) on a bed of steamed spinach. Yummy and healthy!

Today, however, I only got to the making of the Aloo Tikki. The whole meal deal with the greens and chickpeas is a menu for another day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the potato patties with you today.

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Aloo Tikki

(adapted from a recipe on Indian as Apple Pie)

4 medium to large potatoes, peeled

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1 onion, finely chopped, divided

1 inch ginger, grated or minced

pinch of salt

1 tbsp. minced green chilies (I just used canned chilies ’cause that’s what I had on hand, but fresh would be better, and if you like lots of heat, use a Serrano chili)

2/3 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and thawed

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp garam masala

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tbsp. chickpea flour

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup + fine cornmeal

Boil the potatoes whole. When just cooked (a sharp knife slides in easily, but not mushy), drain and cool in cold water. Grate the potatoes into a large bowl.

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In a frying pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin an turmeric and cook until the seeds begin to pop. Add 2/3 of the minced onion and the salt and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger and green chili, then the peas and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add this mixture to the grated potatoes.

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Into the bowl, add the coriander, garam masala, cayenne, salt, chickpea flour and the remaining 1/3 of the onion. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon and your hands. Add in the lemon juice and mix again.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with a tbsp. of melted coconut oil. (I just put the coconut oil on the baking sheet, shove the pan in the oven for a few seconds, pull it out, spread the oil around evenly). Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Keep both oiled pan and cornmeal handy.

Take about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture, roll it into a ball, flatten it into a patty, dredge in the cornmeal and place on the baking pan. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture. (My  mixture made 13 patties – depends on the size of your potatoes and how big you make your patties).

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Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, pull the pan out, flip the patties, bake for another 10 minutes. The patties should be nicely browned and crisped up on both sides. You may need to bake for a bit longer on one or both sides.

Serve with chutney.

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Bruschetta

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There seems to be a bit of a disagreement around these parts (meaning in my family) about what “bruschetta” actually is and how the word is actually pronounced. For years, I pronounced it “bru-shetta” and believed it to be a savoury, raw tomato-based topping on slices of toasted French bread. Then I read this in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: “Bruschetta (pronounced bruce-ketta), a traditional shepherd’s lunch, is a simple and succulent dish – grilled or toasted peasant bread, rubbed with raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil. This is perfect by itself or can easily become the base for Crostini. Crostini (“toast” in Italian) is sliced crisp bread with a savoury topping.” And Wikipedia defines bruschetta as, “an antipasto from Italy consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes, olive oil , salt and pepper.” So now I’m not sure what to call these delightful and delicious appetizers … should I call them bruschetta because they are definitely slices of bread rubbed with oil and garlic, or should I call them crostini because they are definitely slices of bread with a savoury topping? Either way, this is a delicious dish and perfect for eating on the patio or deck in the summer. Here’s how to make it:

1 loaf fresh French bread

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved crossways

1 tsp or so of olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced (garden or market fresh are best)

1/4 of a small red onion, finely chopped

handful of cilantro, chopped

1 tsp or so of rice wine vinegar

a sprinkling of salt

Slice the French bread into slices about 3 cm thick. Pour the olive oil into a little dish and add the garlic. Rub the oiled garlic onto the bread slices. You can lightly toast the bread under the broiler now if you like or you can leave the bread untoasted if you can’t face turning the oven on in the heat of the summer.

Gently toss together the diced tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, rice wine vinegar and salt.

I used some coarse salt which I bought at the Ladner Market from a vendor who hails from Sooke, Vancouver Island. Salt West is a new company that produces sea salt using environmentally sustainable methods.

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Pile the tomato mixture onto the slices of bread and eat right away. Yum!

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Nest and Glow

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