Category Archives: Spreads, Dips and Sauces

Reconstructed Mayonnaise, vegan and raw

MayoDSC_6107
Mayonnaise is technically an emulsion, a blend of oil, an emulsifier, a sour element, sweeteners and spices. Traditional emulsifiers are eggs, agents, that enable and stabilize the blend of oil with watery substances. You can use other emulsifiers, likely something that has a certain oil content, are soy or nut milk, or as I have heard even cauliflower…
First we were looking for alternative store brands. There was Nayonnaise, then we found Vegenaise more convincing. Alternative brands are often made with soy or canola oil, and it is not clear if these ingredients are derived from GMO plants, I highly recommend checking labels. The Vegenaise Grape seed oil version is also Non GMO verified. Taste and consistency was right, although very salty and we bought it in large containers as a base for potato salads and remoulade dips. 
After I met the very nice Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann at a recent health conference in New York, I started reading their book ‘Raw Food for Dummies’. They use a very simple raw mayonnaise base which I can recommend; it is close  to the creamy dressing recipe which I posted some time ago. The blend is softer at room temperature and will get the right consistency in the fridge. My recipe is a bit different, mostly because I never have the right ingredients in the house. It also tastes great as a sauce over shredded kale. See recipe

Nutty schmear

SchmearDSC_5858What will go on my bread? If you don’t do cheese, cold cuts or liverwurst, you may wonder what will go on your bread. While you can make your own cream cheese or paté, even ajvar in summer, I recommend to experiment  with a wide selection of nut and seed butters.
Europeans grew up with chocolate noisette creams, such as Nutella and Americans have their Peanut butter. Real peanut butter, technically not a nut butter, but a bean butter, is avoided by some because of high aflatoxin and allergy risk. Stores readily sell alternative butters from ‘real’ nuts and seeds, some are even made from peas.

With a food processor, you can make some fresh butters yourself with ingredients of choice, which may also qualify as RAW food.
Doing it yourself  also brings you awareness of how highly concentrated food a butter is. See 1/2 cup of tree nuts turn into concentrated spoonfuls of delightful butters that will be gone quickly. For example hemp butter, which also adds healthy Omega3’s. See recipe

New Twist for a well known theme

DressDSC_5216Burgers again? The real advantage of plant based food is that there are so many different recipes to discover. Even though they might look the same as their carnivore cousins, they’re never the same old recipe. This time I tried a blend with mushrooms, walnuts and oatmeal. Mushrooms add umami and juice and the rest adds texture, if you want, you can also add some leftover black beans to the mix. See recipe
I also posted my variation of easy veg’n carrot ginger dressing that goes very well with a light garden salad, or even baby spinach. See recipe

Oh, my Godess…

GreenDSC_4354For Shakespeare, ‘Salad Days’  were not a diet. Likewise with ‘Green days’ he described a youthful inexperience. Sounds good to stay young and green, and eat that salad too!
When making salad dressings, I tend to settle with the tried and true. But it is great to look over the fence sometimes. With summer herbs in abundance, try a creamy herb based ‘Green Godess’ variety, such as the Mexican Creamy Cilantro dressing. If prepared and bottled ahead of time, you have a quick alternative. This vegan version of the dressing goes well with green salads and mexican salads with bean or corn, also works if you have anything but cilantro… See recipe.

Easter Brunch

CheeseDSC_3228.1No special Easter treats this year, just ‘cheese’. After too many bunnies and sweets, we kept a low profile. Family feasts are so difficult. There are many traditional foods and we are tempted between a healthy vegan lifestyle and alienating family traditions. For example Easter Brunch. I haven’t dared to invite anyone to do a ‘Vegan Brunch’.  Continue reading

New York Deli

ThunaDSC_3181New York Delis have fooled many city visitors. Expecting a real ‘Delicatessen’ store, which in Europe is a premium feast for the eye and the palate, visitors enter a Deli in New York, but calling it such is a joke at best. A NY Deli sells coffee and sandwiches in a quality found in gas stations all over the country. One staple in delis, sandwich chains and bagel cafes is the common tuna salad. An often soupy concoction with only two distinguishable ingredients: mayonnaise and celery, other ingredients, hopefully tuna, hidden in the mesh. As tuna taste is addictive and vegans commonly miss it, there is now relief: The very convincing and most healthy vegan un-tuna blend. Just what I had for lunch!

Broth, bouillons and stock

Broth cubes are so ‘modern convenience’, they add a quick flavor to sauces, soups and stews. Did you know they have been around for more than a hundred years? In Northern Europe, the Maggi company built an empire with the soup extract, elsewhere did Oxo and others; Lovage is sometimes called ‘Maggikraut’ in Germany, because of its telltale scent. Continue reading

Artisanal Cheeses

A challenge in plant based diets are cheeses. …or better, the lack of it. The addictive taste has been for many a reason to stray from a vegan diet. While commercial solutions have been more or less acceptable, there has been recently a trend in homemade cheese recipes. I tried already the Mozzarella style cheese from the VegNews article. Another recipe I tried now is for a french chèvre style cheese, that can taste like ‘Boursin’, I also changed it to a very garlicky spreadable ‘Le Tartare’. I altered both from the basic chèvre mix, that includes making Rejuvelac to incubate the cheeses. The process takes several days. So far, I love the results of the spreadable cheese. Contact me for recipe

What about Tofu?

Tofu has a non-taste. Maybe veg’n food has a bad reputation as tofu is too often used as a quick and careless replacement for meat. The bean curd has very different properties, besides little taste it has a chewy to creamy texture depending on style. It might accompany a veg’n dish but should not be the sole center of attention to replace a steak, even if it is marinated and grilled. See my recipe for scrambled tofu. Continue reading

Swabian delicacies

Spätzle are the German answer to Gnocchi! The popular board scraped or machine sliced fresh pasta, traditionally from Swabia, is flavored with spinach or cheese. Above picture shows the spinach style, which indeed looks as if someone slayed a dragon. There should be, other flavors possible. Just as the Gnocchi, they taste better freshly made. I veganized the recipe and also made a very convincing and tasty cheese sauce with it. Serve with salad and you will have a great lunch. Recipe

Superfoods

Kale is the new Super Food. The list of nutrients and benefits to  circulation, skin, immunity and energy is long. If you knew only cooked kale in winter, you will be surprised that steamed kale can make a wonderful salad or side dish any time of the year. Truly a keeper is following recipe of steamed kale with creamy dressing, from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book ‘Eat to live’, which I will write about soon. See recipe

Not your Polly O’s

I did it, I made vegan Mozzarella from scratch. Vegan Mozzarella! It comes a little late as we just had pizza night; the process needs certain ingredients which I needed to buy, plus a day to sit. So I had some for lunch with home grown yellow heirlooms plus handy garden basil. The recipe is from the October edition of Veg News. As there are not many convincing commercial veg cheeses to find, I had been looking into veg cheese recipes in different places. It seems as with Genome sequencing, different people were recently eager to solve the veg cheese challenge. Continue reading

Balkan secrets

AjvarDSC_2506Ajvar production – a wrinkled granny with headscarf and toothless smile stirring a vat of reddish paste. The article with the memorable picture was showing how Ajvar was made in the Balkan. Always eager to find plant based alternatives to put on a quick bread, without time to cook, I was excited to try this new old recipe. And finally we are in season for plump eggplants and red peppers. Besides my paté, there is now Ajvar.

Ajvar originated in Macedonia, or Serbia or maybe beyond, and has been brought here as specialty import. Hot and not so hot Ajvar, depending on your taste, can be also made at home. If you know the art of roasting peppers and eggplants without trashing your kitchen, the Balkan secrets can be all yours. See recipe

Salsa Roja

Fresh Salsa is short lived. The popular thick Latin American red sauce (salsa roja), sells meanwhile better in the US than ketchup and comes in many different colors and recipes. Unlike Salsa Cruda, which is a cooked version of the hot tomato dip, the fresh Salsa is made from raw ingredients. Use the molcajete (mortar & pestle) or an ordinary blender. Important is, that the garlic and lime juice have to be fresh, they prevent the growth of bacteria and therefore should never be replaced by dried powder mixes. On a hot day, with too many tomatoes at hand, Salsa even makes a light dinner with a side salad. Cut a tortilla sheet into chips and toast them on a frying pan and you will have fresh warm chips. Easy and nice effect. Recipe

Milking the soy cow

Try milk making at home. As I started this blog with my home made foamy almond milk, quick ‘milk making’ became an easy habit.
Despite storing a package of dried beans at home, I have never tried making soy milk. I never use much anyway. Soy milk easily flocks in hot drinks and sensitive people find the taste green and bitter. I am not a big fan of tofu either and the process sounded more involved. Besides, don’t you need special equipment for it? Continue reading

Poor man’s Caviar

Oh my; Liverwurst… from early teething, little children in Europe are reared on liverwurst, just the way U.S. children eat peanut butter. There are fine ground, and coarse country styles, some with herbs, onions, even burdock. Call it paté if you want to be more sophisticated or ‘foie gras’, use upscale packaging and maybe rare ingredients, such as truffles… However, it will always be a variation of a childhood memory just as the Ratatouille of Mr. Anton Ego. I was surprised how easy it is to make real good tasting paté without meat. So last week, I made my first coarse country style paté, D’Artagnan’s favorite! Oh, and did I mention the cinnabar chanterelles I put in there? See recipe

Leafy greens, again…

Our refrigerator is crowded… and more delivery of leafy CSA greens are coming this week. Something to build into our food plan.
Jorge’s mother makes huge pans of chard in scrambled eggs. And then there are green spinach pancakes, also with eggs. What if you blend lots of greens with just little flour and some tofu? …You’ll get little green cowpies. The patties are baked and then served with
my veg version of  Tzatziki, the greek cucumber yoghurt. In summer the patties can also be eaten cold at picnics and last for a couple of days in the refrigerator. See here for recipe

Gnocchi Time

Last time I made Gnocchi, I was still in college… I remember the sticky mess. To get a more manageable dough, we had added more and more flour, to almost double amount, but the easy to handle dough produced very heavy lumpy gnocchi. Plus the whole kitchen was dusted with flour… Continue reading

Asparagus season

No more hangovers! I recently read, that if you are drinking alcohol with dinner, a dish with asparagus can prevent hangovers. I am not sure if it works, but maybe worth a try. While the white asparagus season is ending, green asparagus is becoming even more available. Green asparagus is harvested above ground when spears are 18-25cm long. Asparagus is a good source of folate, dietary fiber and vitamins C and E. Continue reading

Love thy enemies

Just eat them!  Reading the German Wiki for the common Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria), I was surprised how different the view was from the American version a good idea to look over the fence sometimes. Here goutweed is shunned as an aggressive exotic invader, sprayed, banned and hated. Surely, the perennial, with pesky underground rhizomes, gave my family a share of cursing this weed. Little did we know that the plant is a reliable medicinal plant and vegetable that recently celebrated a comeback, at least in modern German cuisine. Continue reading