Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baked Macaroni and "Cheese"

Son of a bitch.

If I would have known that I could eat macaroni and "cheese" like this, I would have been vegan long ago.

This grub is so good it makes me want to cry...Or quite possibly even plummet myself to the ground in a fit of rage and throw a temper tantrum that would rival that of a three year old girl who just got her favorite toy swiped out of her sweaty palms by her bastard older brother.

It's just that good.

Not only does it taste great, but it tastes great without all the saturated fat and cholesterol of your traditional "Mac and Cheese."

For the pasta, I used my favorite "Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta" that has a great texture and, as advertised on the package is "not mushy!"

So, if you're looking for a blast from the past, and a dish that will bring you to tears, this is your bag, baby.

[UPDATE June 13, 2010: Since I posted this recipe back in 2008, I've added a little more "cheesiness" to the dish in the form of Daiya Mozzarella style cheese. It makes it a bit more creamy, a bit more stringy, and a bit more "watch out while I slam my fist through the table in an uncontrollable spasm of delight." Yup. It's just that good.]

Baked Macaroni & "Cheese"
From the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Veg News
Serves 6

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 oz macaroni
2 Tbsp + 1/3 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
2 Tbsp shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
3/4 cup Mozzarella style Daiya vegan cheese (optional)

1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.

3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened veggies and 1 cup cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

4. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta, blended "cheese" sauce and Daiya, if using, until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the "cheese" sauce starts to bubble and the top has turned golden brown.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Soup

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this freaking soup.

I found this recipe in the December 2004 issue of Organic Style Magazine...which consequently is no longer in print...But don't let that sway you from making this soup! It's excellent, damnit!

When you make this, choose wild mushrooms-chanterelle, black trumpet, hen-of-the-woods, shitake, oyster, or cremini-that are moist to the touch, with no shriveled, dried edges, bruises, or spots...There's nothing worse than a shriveled beaten mushroom.

If you don't want the trouble of peeling and cutting hard squash you can instead substitute diced carrots or parsnips, but I say grow a pair and cut the damn squash...It's what makes this recipe.

Also, I use Bionature Gluten Free Pasta. Keep in mind that it only asks for one cup pasta, and please only use one cup...Otherwise when you refrigerate the leftovers (if there are any leftovers, oink) the pasta will soak up all the juice and you'll have nothing but gigantic soggy pasta, and you don't want that...Unless of course you like gigantic soggy pasta, then I would suggest visiting a good therapist, there are 12 steps for people like you.

Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 to 6

8 cups veggie broth
1/2 oz dried porcini or morel mushrooms
1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced red onion
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, tough stems removed, cleaned and sliced
1 cup small gluten free pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat broth in a large stockpot. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl; pour 1 cup hot broth over mushrooms; let soak 20 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter or paper towel. Add mushroom liquid to broth. Rinse mushrooms and dice; set aside.

Add squash and bay leaf to broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add all mushrooms and saute until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes, adding a little broth if they become too dry. Transfer to stockpot. Add pasta and cook until pasta is done and squash is tender, 5-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with parsley.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Coconut Rice

This recipe is so easy to make my six year old nephew could throw this together blind folded, gagged, and with one arm tied behind his back. With that being said, if you can't somewhat successfully prepare this dish there is something wrong with you and you should ask yourself how you can make it through the day.

I had a dish similar to this at a local Mexican restaurant. I was unable to use the sour cream, and had them hold the cheese, but when I made this at home I was able to throw on some Tofutii "Sour Supreme" which does add more than just leaving it out. You can use soy cheese, but be careful which brand you use as some brands include casein, which is a milk protein. Personally, I'm not a fan of soy cheese and think that the sliced avocados on top more than make up for it.

Also, when I made this I just used plain brown basmati rice, because I didn't want to fuss and I just wanted to make a simple, easy dinner. However, if you have time I will include a recipe for Cilantro Coconut Rice that I think would go great with this.

Oh, and do yourself a favor and make (or buy) some fresh salsa for this. If I catch anyone using "Pace" or anything like "Pace" I will drag them out into the street and shoot them. O.K., maybe not...But I will be extremely disappointed. I bought the salsa I used from the deli at Whole Foods, but I'll include a simple recipe for those of you who would like to make one.

Black Bean Tostadas

2 cans black beans
6 plain corn tostadas (found in the Mexican section of your grocery store)
Tofutti Sour Supreme
Fresh salsa
One avocado, sliced

Drain the black beans of their liquid and place in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until warm.

Spread Sour Supreme evenly on tostadas, cover with black beans, sliced avocado, salsa and another dollop of Sour Supreme. Serve with rice.

Quick and Easy Salsa

4 lg. ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped scallions
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced jalapeno pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the halves into 1/4" and dice. Place in a medium size bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Let sit, loosely covered, at room temperature for the flavors to blend. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 4 hours.

Cilantro Coconut Rice

3 cups basmati rice
3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1 Tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh jalapeno
3 Tbsp Canola oil
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups packed fresh cilantro
4 scallions, chopped

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350.

Wash rice in cold water until water is almost clear. Soak rice in cold water 30 minutes, then strain well.

Spread coconut in a shallow baking pan and toast in oven, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Cook ginger and jalapeno in 1 Tbsp oil in a 4 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until chile is softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in water and 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to large bowl.

While rice cooks, pulse together coconut, cilantro, scallions and remaining 2 Tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor until finely chopped.

Add cilantro mixture to cooked rice and stir gently until combined well.

Makes 10 servings.