Sunday, June 30, 2013

Part III: Keeping a Tidy Kitchen

Have you ever walked into your kitchen at the end of the evening and thought that a tornado must have hit while you were eating dinner?  Or worse, you haven’t even begun cooking and you’re already on the phone to FEMA?  The answer to your dilemma may not be emergency relief, but instead, a few simple steps that you can take to prevent a disaster from happening in the future. 

In the third part of my Kitchen Cool:  Secrets of a Vegan Personal Chef cooking series, I address one of the unspoken taboos of chefs:  a messy kitchen.  Not only is it impossible to get any work done in a kitchen filled with chaos, but it's also de-energizing, demoralizing, and downright depressing.  Sadly, the energy that surrounds you is also what ends up going into your food, and nobody wants a plate full of that!

The remedy is to always remember that your kitchen is a sanctuary...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Recipe: Chickpea "Tuno"

I recently held a vegan potluck picnic at my home to celebrate the Summer Solstice.  Not only was it great getting together with a bunch of awesome people who I hadn't seen in awhile, but there was also the food... the glorious, delicious vegan food.  And oh how we indulged!!

One of everyone's favorites was the Chickpea "Tuno" Salad I prepared.  It has a flavor reminiscent of tuna fish, but without too much "fishy" flavor.  For those who grew up on this dish, it was a pleasant surprise to discover how delicious the vegan version is.  And those who had never eaten tuna declared, "This is SO GOOD, and I don't even know what tuna tastes like!"

Whether omnivores or vegans, the consensus of all those who enjoyed this salad was, "can I have the recipe??"  So, by popular request, here it is!

Chickpea "Tuno"Salad
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1/2 cup celery (approx. one rib), diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup pickle, diced (or pickle relish)
1 Tbl lemon juice
1-2 tsp dulse granules
1/2 cup Nayonaise or other vegan mayonaise 
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

Place chickpeas, celery, red onion, and pickle in food processor and pulse several times until chickpeas are shredded.  Be careful not to overprocess.  

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and squeeze lemon juice over top. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Season to taste, then serve on a bed of field greens or with Cruciferous Vegetable Slaw.  This makes for quick and easy meal that's easily transportable and keeps well in the fridge.  In fact, it gets better the next day, so double the batch, or bring it to your next picnic potluck and enjoy!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Solstice Vegan Potluck Picnic

I recently celebrated the change of seasons as well as my Ten Year Anniversary in business as a vegan personal chef with Well on Wheels - YAY!!  Thank you to family, friends, clients, friends who became clients, and clients who became friends who have supported me through the years!  I couldn't have done it without you.  And special thanks to those who came from near and far to join me for a Vegan Potluck Picnic to share the vegan love in person.  I had a great time seeing everyone and enjoying deeelicious vegan food with you!

The afternoon flew by in a whirlwind and I was too preoccupied catching up with people to take oodles of photos as I normally do for these events.  Hence, you'll see a few pretty food shots, but mostly a disheveled buffet table of vegan goodies and plenty of us stuffing our faces.  It was tough to stay focused.  Here are some of the foods we feasted on:

Several guests swooned over the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp I made for dessert.  Pictured here in all its fresh berry and edible flower lusciousness, it was not only vegan and gluten-free, but, you guessed it, yummy.  I found that the sweet and sour filling contrasted perfectly with the Salted Caramel Cupcakes another guest had brought.  Want the recipe for this perfect summer dessert? Get it here.

Two other favorites were the "Tuno" Salad and the Dilled Red Potato Salad, both made with Nayonaise vegan mayos. The Tuno disappeared in the blink of an eye, and even nonvegans said they could forego the real thing and eat this one instead.  Vegans who had never eaten real tuna just thought this tasted pretty amazing.  By popular request, here's the Tuno Salad recipe for you to make and enjoy with family and friends!

Here are a few of the people photos I did manage to have a camera in hand to capture.  You all rock my vegan world!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vegan 101 Cooking Class

If you care about the environment and want to learn how to build a sustainable community both locally and globally, the New Haven Bioregional Group is the organization to join.  Each month they offer free or low-cost "skill shares" teaching attendees about gardening, energy conservation, bicycle maintenance, and GMOs.  I have been fortunate to attend and learn from several of their programs, and I was happy to offer one of my own recently on vegan cooking.

I spoke about using seasonal ingredients such as arugula, dandelion greens, and wild chives in recipes and discussed the health benefits that these superfoods offer.  I also addressed the perennial question, "where do vegans get their protein/calcium/iron?" The recipes I demonstrated answered all of these concerns.

During the presentation I demonstrated how to make a simple Mediterranean Quinoa Pilaf using arugula, fresh oregano, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and lots of garlic.  NOTE:  arugula and other greens are high in calcium.

For dessert I prepared Cinnamon Spiced Date Nut Hemp Truffles rolled in cocoa powder and coconut.  These decadent little morsels packed a punch of iron, protein, and heart healthy omega-3 oil.  It was a healthy, yet delicious, ending to a lovely light lunch. NOTE:  Dried fruits such as dates, figs and raisins are high in iron, and hemp seeds are a complete protein.

Thank you, Maria Tupper, for the photos, and the Bioregional Group for hosting this presentation.  Thank you also to all those who came to learn about vegan cooking!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Recipe: Savory Bacony Potato Chowder

One of the items tucked in my Vida Vegan Con goodie bag was a little packet of WayFare Foods Pig Out bacony bits.  This is the kind of indulgence I typically don't splurge on, but since it was RIGHT THERE, I immediately tore open the seal and tasted a pinch.  Oh to my delight when my tastebuds were greeted by the smoky, savory crunch that time forgot.  These tasted just like the bacon bits of my childhood, but without the grease!

I couldn't wait to get back home to try creating a recipe that incorporated that flavor.

Part II: 7 Time-saving Tips to Save Your Sanity in the Kitchen

In the second part of my "Kitchen Cool: Secrets of a Vegan Personal Chef" series, I address one of the greatest obstacles we all face when it comes to cooking: time. We never seem to have enough of it. And we always try to cram as much as we can into what little we have. While that can sometimes help with productivity, it often comes at the expense of our mental health and overall satisfaction.

But how do you make more time when we only have the same 24 hours of it each day??

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Orange Infused Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes

Every morning I take my dog Zinny for a walk at Edgewood Park.  This is followed by my usual breakfast of gluten-free cereal (Erewhon Organic Crispy Brown Rice is my go-to box) after feeding Zinny and my kitty, Gremlin.  But on the way home this morning I felt in the mood for something a little different... something citrusy.  More precisely, a glazed orange donut.  Alas, since I don't have a donut mold, I was thinking since it was Sunday morning, how about pancakes?  I've never tried making them with orange, so I figured I would test out this combination for breakfast.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Recipe: Pinto Quinoa Patties

I'm always looking for a good vegan burger recipe that's gluten-free or can be modified to be made without gluten.  One of the problems I have with most recipes is that without breadcrumbs or that gluten "glue," they just fall apart when you eat them.  Or worse, they end up in a crumbly pile when you try to flip them in the pan.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Part 1: Begin with the First Step

In the first part of my cooking series, "Kitchen Cool: Secrets of a Vegan Personal Chef," I address one of the biggest complaints I hear about switching to a vegan diet:   not knowing where to begin.  The change alone often feels so overwhelming, but if you’ve already made that decision, BRAVO!  The rest is easy.  That is, once you get over the “fear of flying” in your kitchen.  But how do you do that??

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Introducing new series: Kitchen Cool! Secrets of a Vegan Personal Chef

I’m often asked how I manage to cook a week’s worth of meals in just a few hours, especially when it’s in a stranger’s kitchen.  The answer is simple:  by being fast, smart, and efficient.  This is a talent I’ve developed over the years through hours of practice, trial and error, and even a little sweat and tears (which no one sees when you’re cooking alone!).  Fortunately, I’ve made all the mistakes myself so you don’t have to, and instead you can just reap the benefits.