Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Week's Menu

The Well on Wheels test kitchen was all abuzz this week with pungent aromas and exotic flavors.  After the holidays, I must confess that I get a little burnt out on food, so in times like these I poke around my spice jars for inspiration.  This week I came up with a winner in paprika.

I had always heard about Chicken Paprikash, but I've never made it, and yet that didn't stop me from pondering, "I wonder if I could make Tofu Paprikash."  So that was my mission.  I found a chicken recipe in Real Simple magazine which I tweaked a bit and came up with my own combination of savory-spicy-sweet that I think was a winner.  I started by sauteeing red, yellow, and orange bell pepper with some sliced onions in olive oil.  When those softened, I added mushrooms, garlic and sundried tomatoes to the mix.  The last step is to stir in some vegan yogurt, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and paprika, then season with salt.  I used So Delicious plain coconut milk yogurt, which has a slightly sweet undertone.  The sauce cooked for a few minutes until thick and bubbly, then I poured it on top of baked tofu and fettuccini pasta.

Another test recipe this week was Millet and Sunflower Seed Patties with Roasted Garlic Aioli.  Both required several steps in the prep arena, but once they were out of the way, the process went pretty quickly.  If you've never roasted garlic, I highly recommend it, because after doing it once you'll think to yourself, "why don't I make this every day?"  Just lop the top off a bulb of garlic, drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil, wrap it in a little foil pouch, then bake at 400 degrees for about a half an hour.  You'll smell it when it's done... just be careful to let it cool before squeezing out the garlic goodness.

The last entree I've made several times for a client who had eaten Pecan-Crusted Seitan at Candle 79 and wanted me to give a try making it.  She said mine came out just as good, if not better, than the original.  The crust is made with a combination of pecans, rosemary, and tarragon, then it's topped with a citrusy tomato marinara.  I served it with a Potato Turnip Mash and Stringbeans.  It's a pretty and tasty combination.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Cupcakes

For dessert this Christmas, I decided to go with the cupcake theme, and what perfect combination is there for winter than chocolate peppermint stick?  I topped these luscious gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with a creamy vanilla frosting flavored with mint extract and sprinkled some crushed peppermint candy canes on top.  A lovely little holiday treat.

Start by crushing 5 or 6 mini candy canes in the food processor (or by hand with a baggie and rolling pin, if you need the stress release).

Pour your chocolate cupcake batter into cupcake papers, filling them about 3/4 of the way.

Frost your cupcakes with mint flavored vanilla buttercream made with non-hydrogenated Earth Balance sticks.  Top with a sprinkle of crushed peppermint and a mini candy cane.

Viola!  Merry Christmas!

Amazingly Awesome Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup Red Mill all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
3 Tbl cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Florida Crystals organic sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers (this makes 12-16). In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir together wet ingredients and sugar. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps. Evenly distribute batter among cupcakes. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until center is springy when touched.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Week's Menu

The Well on Wheels kitchen was cooking up some spicy dishes this week.  Our clients' favorite was the butternut squash risotto that had a little bit of kick from some curry and some creaminess from coconut milk.  This is a luscious twist on a traditional Italian side dish, and I think it works perfectly during a change of seasons and on chilly evenings.

The curried butternut squash risotto was served with oven baked tofu and vegetable mallum.  In this case, the mallum (or "mix up") was a saute of string beans with shredded coconut and turmeric.

The next entree featured southwestern flavors of cumin and chili powder.  They were used here in Black Bean and Quinoa Cakes topped with Campari Tomato Salsa and Cumin Scented String Beans and Carrots on the side.  This was all topped wit some leaves of fresh cilantro.

The third entree featured an Indonesian Peanut Sauce seasoned with chili powder.  This was tossed with steamed tempeh, broccoli and rice noodles.  In addition to the peanut butter, there was a little added creaminess from coconut milk in this sauce, making for a rich and comforting dish.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gluten-free Black Bean and Quinoa Cakes

We were in the mood for some Mexican food last night and I wanted to experiment with something beyond the usual burrito/enchilada/taco fare.  Not that there's anything wrong with these... but for someone like me who has a wheat and corn sensitivity, I wanted to create something a little different that wouldn't compromise my health.

I found a luscious looking recipe on for Black Bean Chipotle Cakes that was made with polenta as a base, and so I thought to myself, I wonder if quinoa would work as a substitute? I decided to give it a try.

The key to making the recipe a success was to add a little more cooking water than usual to the quinoa so that it would come out slightly softer than normal and clump up after cooking.  [Note:  This is normally referred to as "a mistake."]  Then, after mixing and mashing the cooked quinoa with all of the other ingredients, I let the mixture cool in the fridge for about an hour.  This made it easy to form into balls that could be flattened into thick cakes, then dipped in tapioca flour before frying.  They held together nicely in a non-stick pan coated with a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  The key was to cook them on medium heat until the got a golden crust before flipping them.  Don't rush the process, or you'll end up with a messy pan of black bean and quinoa hash!

These came out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.  They held together well with a mix of rice flour and Daiya cheese that melted from the heat of the cooked quinoa, and then again from cooking in the frying pan.   I topped them with guacamole and fresh salsa, and accompanied the cakes with a bed of mesclun greens tossed in dijon agave vinaigrette.  Pretty brilliant I'd say.

The next day's leftovers went really well with crispy oven roasted chili pepper fries drizzled with Sriracha and some steamed broccoli on the side.  Yum!

GF Black Bean and Quinoa Cakes
1/2 cup of quinoa, rinsed
1 cup of water
1-2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shallots, chopped fine
1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Daiya pepper jack vegan cheese
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour for dredging
2-3 Tbl olive oil for frying

In a medium sauce pot, combine quinoa, water, cumin, chili powder, sea salt, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/4 cup shallots.  Cover, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender.  Pour cooked quinoa into bowl on top of shredded cheese and black beans, then add green onions, remaining minced garlic and shallots, and rice flour.  Stir together, mashing ingredients as you mix.  When everything has been combined, place bowl in refrigerator to cool for approximately one hour.  Remove cooled quinoa mixture and form into patties using a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out equal portions.  Flatten to about an inch thick, then lightly dredge in tapioca flour.  Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and test with a drop of water to be sure it sizzles before adding oil.  Then add enough oil to thinly coat bottom of pan and fry quinoa cakes for 10-15 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and crisp.  Serve immediately topped with salsa and guacamole.