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This original recipe from Vegetarian Times has become a Fall favorite. I like this cassoulet so much that I convinced my family to have it as the main course in our Thanksgiving meal one year. And the ingredients are EL CHEAPO. I got everything I needed, sans herbs and oil, for less than 10 bucks and the leftovers lasted many moons.  I used to make this on the stove, but I recently bought a slow cooker and enjoyed the benefits of not having to slave over a hot pot for hours. In fact, I ran errands all day long and came home to this perfect, finished stew. Whether you make it on the stove or in the crockpot, this is a very delicious, hearty dish that will comfort and warm you on chilly October nights.

On a personal note, there are a few meals that I gravitate towards for those rare occasions when I have dinner ready with candles and a fancy setting for my hubs when he comes home. This weekend I made this dish on my day off for that purpose. It’s that good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 small shallots, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 3 15.5-oz. cans great Northern beans, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • Half a lemon (optional-really doesn’t need it unless you like your soups to have a background tang.)
  • 2 bay leaves, snapped in half to release flavor
  • 1 ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced fresh parsley for garnish (in the picture I obviously didn’t mince it – but I like fresh herbs to be chunky.)

Directions for Slow Cooker:

  1. Pour oil into slow cooker, and turn it on high. Add shallots and garlic. Cover, and cook to soften, about 15 to 20 minutes. (You can hasten this step by browning the garlic in a pan, softening the shallots in the same pan, then transferring shallot/garlic to the slow cooker.)
  2. Add carrots, turnip, parsnip, beans and tomatoes. Stir in broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Add a little lemon juice, if you prefer a little zing in your cassoulet.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook until all vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 hours. 
  4. Remove and discard bay leaves. Garnish with minced parsley. Add more lemon, if you like it that way.

STOVETOP METHOD: Heat oil in 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and carrots. Cover, and cook 5 minutes to soften. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are fully cooked, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

French Apple Tart



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Picked these Empire apples myself in Hood River.

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Melted earth balance, evenly distributed.IMG_8804First layer-pack it tight.

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 Second layer- just pile it on.

This is from the original French Tarte Tatin recipe,  only with vegan butter.  Don’t be daunted.  This is just an apple pie without seasonings or a top crust, and the only scary part is flipping it over.  But take my word for it, it is not that scary. You peel and cut some apples,  melt the soy butter, dissolve the sugar, pack the apple slices in, add another layer of apples, then cover the skillet with your dough, bake it in the oven and flip.  Easy.  It’s so delicious and simple. You might think that just apples, butter and sugar would be bland, but its rich and delicious.

IMPORTANT: You need a small cast iron pan for this. It’s possible that another type of oven proof skillet would work, but I’ve never tried that myself.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet or ovenproof pan
  • baking sheet
  • 1 sheet (about 8 ounces) frozen puff pastry OR 2 rolled up pie crusts
  • 8 Tbs earth balance
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (brown sugar is fine to use if you don’t have white, or a combo of white and brown.)
  • About 8 sweet firm apples peeled, cored and quartered
  • If you like, you can add a few squeezes of lemon juice at the end before putting the dough on top.

 Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees – have your skillet and baking sheet ready

2. Thaw your dough, then roll it out and refrigerate it.

3. Put the skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it melts, sprinkle the sugar over the butter until it dissolves. Remove from heat.

4. Fit a layer of apples into the skillet, putting the apples into the pan in tight circles. What’s important here is to pack in the apples — because they will shrink as they cook, you want to make sure they are snug in the pan.

5. When you’ve got a tight single layer, cut the remaining apple quarters in half and strew them over the first layer. This layer can be somewhat mounded, which will give the tart some height.

6. Put the pan over medium heat and cook — staying close by — until the sugar turns a deep caramel color. You’ll see it bubbling up the sides of the pan, but if you need a clearer view, you can gently push an apple aside. To get the color you want without burning the sugar, you may have to lower the heat after a while. Count on 15 minutes, more or less, to get the color. Transfer the skillet to the baking sheet.

7. Remove pie crusts or pastry from the fridge and place it over the top of the pan, covering the fruit, loosely tucking in any overhang.

If using two pie crusts, just put one on top of the other.

8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is baked through and, if you used puff pastry, puffed.

9.  Now it’s time to flip it over! Cover the skillet with the large, rimmed serving plate (or pie plate) and, acting quickly and confidently in one smooth flip motion, flip the tart out onto the platter and remove the pan. If any of the apples have stuck to the pan — it happens to the best of us — gently lift them off the pan with an icing spatula and press them gently back onto the tart.

10.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

The caramelized sugar is hot enough to be dangerous. Let the tart sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, preferably on a windowsill with a chilly breeze wafting in.

 

Bruschetta



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This is one of my favorite dishes because it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I’ve had it as all three, sometimes in one day.  It’s a really great cheap Summer meal if you have an oven.  Just heed the main rule of broiling: DON’T LEAVE THE KITCHEN WHILE BROILING THE BREAD!

There’s something really satisfying about bruschetta.  It hits all the little places in your tastebuds that make you happy, and deeply satisfies you at the same time.  It’s also incredibly healthy.  Chow down on this Italian delicacy. Usually, this performs as an appetizer, so feel free to use it that way at your next occasion.

Let it be noted that this is the first dish that taught me to keep a HIGH quality olive oil around at all times.  The greener the better. Don’t be fooled by green glass.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • Crusty white bread (I’ve used good quality whole wheat before, just make sure it has a nice crust and an inside that stands up well to toppings.) Slice it thick.
  • 2-3 cups of the sweetest small tomatoes you can find. cherry tomatoes are great, “Earli Girls” are best, in a pinch you can use Romas. Chop them as small as you can. Remove seeds if you have picky eaters.
  • 2 cloves of garlic – one for the garlic press, one cut in half.
  • 1 cup of finely minced basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (mozzarella flavor is best)
  • 2 Tbs high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbs high-quality olive oil
  • finely ground salt/pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine 1/2 cup “cheese”, diced tomato, diced onion, minced basil, one pressed garlic clove, balsamic vinegar,  1 Tbs olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Toss well, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Place your thickly sliced bread on a baking sheet and turn your oven to broil on high
  3. Cut one of your garlic cloves in half and rub the cut side it on each slice of bread to transfer the flavor
  4. sprinkle the “cheese” shreds on the bread slices evenly in one layer.
  5. Drizzle olive oil on the bread
  6. Then broil the bread slices until the “cheese” until melted. This happens quickly, so don’t leave the kitchen. Just keep checking. This makes the bread toasty, ingrains the garlic and melts the cheese in one go.
  7. Once the “cheese” is melted, pull the slices from the oven.
  8. Place bread slices on your serving plates and top with the tomato mixture.  Try to drain out the tomato liquid if you have picky eaters. (I don’t mind if my bread gets slightly soggy with the tomato juices.)
  9. The final touch is to drizzle everything with one more pass of olive oil. Then munch.  You’ll be in heaven.

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There’s so many ripe,  sweet tomatoes and basil out right now that people are giving them away.

I don’t know what it is about basil, but it instantly makes me happy. It seems to be the perfect herb- turning light dishes into meals that taste rich and complex. Paired with garlic, basil is irresistible.

You’ll notice there’s some zucchini I threw in there on the side…that’s because I eat zucchini in everything these days.  If I don’t have a more elegant plan for it, I just sauté it in a little olive oil/salt and put it on the side of my main course.  My boss grew a gigantic one that took me more than a week to eat!  Never pay for zucchini in the Summer unless you live in the North Pole.

This pesto recipe is the same as the one we use for our pesto pizza, it couldn’t be simpler. Just prepare the pesto, mix with your diced tomatoes and combine with your choice of drained, hot pasta.  Appearing here is linguine.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3-1/2 cup raw unsalted pine nuts  (toasted is a nice touch for deeper flavor, if you have time) Substitute almond slivers, if you can’t find pine nuts.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 5 medium sweet tomatoes, diced as small as possible
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 4 servings of your favorite pasta, cooked and hot (but make the pesto first!)

Directions:

  1. Combine 1/2 tsp salt, garlic, olive oil, nuts and basil in food processor until finely ground
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste, scrape down sides of the bowl to combine everything thoroughly
  3. Put diced tomatoes in a medium bowl, then add basil mixture, combine well and taste for salt/pepper balance.
  4. mix with your hot pasta, combine well, and enjoy!

 

Cherry Pie


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Fun fact: the taste and fragrance of cherry pie (and cherry Coke,) is actually almond extract, not cherry itself.  So whenever I get the urge to re-live the experience of cherry pie, I take a little whiff of my almond extract from the cupboard. :)

This is not a top secret recipe. It’s just the recipe on the back of the label of  the red, tart Oregon Cherries.  The only change I made was the addition of lemon juice: about half a small lemon, added after the almond extract.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 regular-sized cans Oregon Red Tart Cherries (if you use the giant can, halve the cherry juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance
  • 2 crusts for a 9-inch pan (I use a store bought vegan one.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Drain the cherries and reserve the juice from one can. (half, if you’re using the big can.)
  3. In a saucepan, stir the cherry juice into the combined mixture of the cornstarch and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cherries and almond extract. Then add the lemon juice.
  5. Pour filling into pastry lined pie pan. Dot with butter or margarine. Adjust crust, seal and vent.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes or until crust browns and filling begins to bubble. If necessary, cover edges with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool pie several hours to allow filling to thicken before slicing.

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$7.50 – serves 3

In the realm of “no-egg salad sandwiches”, this is a delectable veggie-packed alternative to my scrumptious tofu salad sandwich. But this concoction has a little extra kick with the curry powder. The chewiness of the tempeh, the crunch of the celery, the tangy lemon and creamy veganaise…..it’s irresistible and healthy.  Tempeh is cited for its health benefits all over the web. If you’ve never had it, take a little time to look it up.  Any flavor tempeh will work in this recipe.  I usually put some sliced tomato in my sandwich before piling this on. And I keep some vinegar-y hot sauce on the side for a little excitement every few bites.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (1 package) Tempeh
  • 3-4 ribs celery, sliced thin (depends on how much crunch you want.)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1-2 Tbs lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2  tsp curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup veganaise
  • black pepper to taste
  • for a fancy splash of color and flavor, throw in some chopped parsley at the end

Directions:

1. Cube tempeh and steam for 15 minutes.

2. Prepare vegetables while the tempeh is cooking.

3. When tempeh is done, allow to cool slightly. Mash with a fork in a large bowl. Mix in the carrot, celery, and onions, and stir well.

4. Add the lemon juice, curry powder, stock powder, and celery seed. Mix well. Add vegan mayo, beginning with a couple tablespoons, and adding more if you want it to be creamier. Season with black pepper and your parsley, if using.

5. Let salad sit at least an hour before serving in your favorite sandwich bread. Pitas are highly recommended, and so is toasted rye.

This would be really good if served stuffed in some hollowed out and drained cherry tomatoes as appetizers!

 

The Perfect Taco

 


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…or burrito, if you have the patience to fold it up that way.

From left to right, How to make it:

- Strips of portobello, red onion, red and orange bell pepper and broiled, skinned poblano stir fried with fajitas seasoning, olive oil and  and garlic

- Fresh salsa: dice up a fresh seeded jalepeno, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro, add salt, sugar, lime juice and a little vinegar, stir well.

-Heated Uncanny Refried Beans (so convenient and tasty!)

- Pan heated Boca Grounds

- Chunky guacamole: avocado, red onion, a dash of cumin, cilantro, lots of lime juice, salt. Muddle together and stir well.

- Locally made tortilla  that contains no hydrogenated oil or palm oil

- And you have to have Cholula. Other hot sauces are welcome to join, but Cholula is the main squeeze.

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