Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vegan Valentine Dinner

I had the pleasure of cooking a vegan dinner for a lovely couple this Valentine's Day, and while that sounds like that makes the chef the third wheel, it was actually quite fun.  This was more of a cooking lesson, and we enjoyed tasting and testing along the way.

The entree was a Baked Portobello with Shallot Herb Stuffing.  This would've been hearty enough on its own, but I couldn't stop there.  Underneath was a silky Chipotle Infused Cashew Aioli which added a sweet and spicy dimension to the dish.  Then the portobello cap was served over a creamy Asparagus and Leek Risotto, and topped with sauteed savoy spinach.  Perfection!

Dessert was pure decadence:  Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Berries.  The cake sets up with a firm outer crust, and the center sinks into a saucy pool of chocolate pudding.  This is one of those desserts where if you can't decide if you want something creamy or something caky, you get both!  It looks dangerously difficult to pull off, yet it's so easy if you follow the recipe.  And decadent, too.

The next time you have an intimate dinner for two, this is the dessert you'll want to share.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Recipe: Chipotle, Smoked Paprika, Yellow and Green Split Pea Soup

Today was the perfect soup-making weather.  We're in the midst of one of those famous New England Nor'easters that lays about a foot of snow down in 24 hours and keeps everyone cooped up inside scrambling for things to do.  I've been productive this afternoon testing recipes for my new cookbook, Easy Peasy Vegan Eats, which I hope to publish by the end of the month.

One recipe I've been working on recently is a spicy and smokey split pea soup.  I think I came up with just the right flavor combination and I'm happy to share the success here.  The soup has a velvety texture and deep, rich smokey undertones from the two prominent spices.  I added a squeeze of lemon at the end to brighten up the flavors and bring everything together.

A swirl of cashew sour creme pretties up the presentation and adds another layer of decadence to this luscious soup.  A big bowl with a slice of toast left me warm and satisfied all afternoon.  I hope you enjoy some on your next Snow Day!

Chipotle Smoked Paprika Yellow and Green Split Pea Soup
1/2 cup green split peas
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 Tbl olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (approx. 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced through garlic press
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 large Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice 
5 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
2 scallion, diced

Rinse split peas in a colander and set aside to drain.  In a large pot, saute onion, celery, and carrots in olive oil on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add garlic, paprika, and chipotle and saute one minute.  Add split peas, potato and water, then cover pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 1 hour or until split peas are soft, stirring occasionally.  If soup is too thick, add a little more water.  Stir in fresh lemon juice and garnish with chopped scallion.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Month of Menus

We're buried in snow and ice here at Well on Wheels headquarters.  Fortunately, I was able to get some cooking in earlier in the week to prepare some meals for my regular clients.  As I was putting together the menu for one of my clients, I realized it was our Seven Year Anniversary of vegan personal chef services, and her Five Year "Veganversary" (of which I'm happy to have played a part!).  So I celebrated by preparing the same menu as the first day I ever cooked for her.  It was exciting to see how the menus have developed over the years!

Here's what I've been cooking the past few weeks.

Week One

Tofu, Snow Pea, and Shiitake Stirfry over Udon Noodles

Asparagus and Leek Risotto with Escarole and White Beans

Baked Tofu with Cauliflower Hash and Sauteed Baby Spinach 

Week Two

Baked Tofu with Harissa, Mashed Potatoes and Zucchini Ribbons

Vegan Sausage and Peppers on Baked Polenta

Pan-fried Tempeh with Braised Cabbage and Barley Pilaf

Week Three

Fusilli with Zucchini, Crimini Mushroom and Vegan Bechamel 

Jerk Tempeh with Red and Green Peppers, Pineapple, and Jasmine Rice

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

Another view of the African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

Week Four - Happy Anniversary Menu!

Tofu Sesame Stirfry with Baby Bok Choy, Snow Peas and Carrots on Brown Rice

Black Bean and Garnet Yam Enchiladas

Mediterranean Pasta with Baby Spinach, Kalamata Olives, Sundried Tomatoes and Cannelini Beans