Monday, June 24, 2013

Ultimate Creamy Vegan Mayo - No Tofu!

One of the things I miss most from the non-vegan food is mayonnaise. Yes, I admit it. I do not miss eggs, milk, fish or meat but mayonnaise is something that it is missing from my vegan sandwiches. I tried Trader Joe's vegan mayo which I didn't like much and I also tried the Veganaise from "Follow Your Heart" brand which I liked a lot...but I wanted to avoid the almost $5 a jar! After researching the Net I ended finding the best recipe on an Italian YouTube channel. I wanted an easy, fast and tofu-free recipe I could prepare whenever I was craving for mayo.

 The recipe is so simple and uses simple ingredients, here is it:
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
- Juice of 1 lemon (I have used half lemon in my recipe)
- pinch of salt
- pinch of turmeric (which I omitted this time)
- 1/2 T of mustard

You just add the ingredients on a tall glass and mix them with an immersion blender, trying to incorporate air going up and down as you mix. I was amazed by how creamy the result was and the flavor blew me away, it tastes just like a good old mayo! I put the mayo in a small jar and stored it in my refrigerator (I believe it lasts about one week). I used part of it for my lunch sandwich with tomato and basil...I didn't feel guilty adding mayo on BOTH sides of my sandwich! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Creamy Vegan Potato Soup

Another great recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs/YouTube channels. We had a surprisingly cold middle June so I was craving for some warm and comforting soup and this one hit the spot! 

 I always have loved the combination of potatoes and rosemary and this soup well combines the two flavors. I also liked that it was smooth but it still had chunks of potatoes, it made me think of a creamy clam chowder. 

I believe I will be often preparing this soup next Fall and Winter, I look forward to it!

Onion Focaccia with Semolina Flour Dough

I have never used semolina flour for bread or pizza dough before so I wanted to try this pizza dough recipe. I prepared an onion focaccia instead of a pizza and I liked the result a lot, the dough was crispy on the outside and soft inside. Another difference I felt from my usual recipe is that the dough was somewhat translucent after kneading and a little bit after cooking. I used Bob's Red Mill semolina flour which is very fine so it blended well with the white flour.. After flattening the dough on a parchment paper I added pre-cooked white onions. 

I wrote the recipe down on my recipe book because it's a keeper and I look forward to try it for my next pizza.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

There was a bakery near Rialto bridge in Venice where I was often stopping by to buy an amazing olive bread, warm and freshly made of course. The bread was crunchy outside and very soft in the inside, it was filled with black and green olives and sometimes toasted sesame seeds or walnuts. 

I was searching for a similar bread to prepare at home and finally I found it! This YouTube video is very well made, the man who made it sounds like an expert in bread making and it shows in the way he meticulously prepares the recipes and explains the process. The result was amazing and it did remind me of that Venetian bread. I added toasted sesame seeds to the dough (which is a no-kneading dough so it gets extra points!) to reproduce the flavor of the bread I loved. This recipe is a definitively a keeper!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Vegan Spinach Hummus Wrap

I don't like to cook just for myself. Usually if I am alone a big salad or something fast and filling will do for lunch or dinner, in fact when I was in college I was known as the "rabbit" and the "bird" because of my salad meals topped with seeds and nuts! Yesterday I cooked pasta for the kids but I wanted something fresh and not cooked so I prepared a cold tortilla wrap for myself:

I spread hummus on a soft tortilla and added a bit of organic sweet relish (from Trader Joe's). On top I added a bunch of fresh spinach and rolled up everything into a wrap. I also cut some organic tomato which I could have put inside the wrap but it would have made the wrap too soggy for my taste. This lunch was satisfying and I loved the freshness and crunch of the spinach!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coconut Banana Vegan Cake

As I wrote in a previous post, I have never been a great baker and the only cake I was preparing since the 90s was a popular and easy recipe where you used yogurt and the yogurt cup as a measurements for other ingredients. I recently bought few dairy-free yogurt cups made with coconut milk and I decided to dedicate one of them to making a cake the way I was used to...just the vegan version of it. I found a recipe on an Italian site for a vegan cake which seemed easy and required a vegan yogurt cup for measurement. The recipe goes like this (keep in mind that the "cup" refers to the actual yogurt cup):

- 1 cup vegan yogurt (coconut, almond, soy or rice)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oi
- 1 t baking powder
- 3 small mashed bananas
 Bake in the oven at 350° for 25 minutes.

For my cake I reduced the amount of sugar to 1 cup because I used nicely ripened bananas which were already sweet. Also, I only used two bananas because they were big ones. I added a teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. After the cake cooked and cooled down I sprinkled powdered sugar on top and added one of our passion flowers from the garden as decoration (I don't think it's edible though it's an amazing flower!).

I had to cook the cake for more than the required 25 minutes because the bananas made it kinda too wet inside, even when the "toothpick test" came out dry. The taste was good but I'd rather find a different substitute for eggs, I feel that the bananas just didn't do well in this recipe and made the cake feel heavy. If I will be trying this recipe again I will rather use applesauce instead of the bananas.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Almond, Apricot and Cardamom Vegan Cookies

This is another great recipe which I found in one of my favorite cooking blogs. I love anything with cardamom so for these cookies I was happy to take out my small Ikea mortar and pestle to ground our whole cardamom pods. The recipe called for walnuts but I added chopped silvered almonds instead and they nicely fit the other flavors.

I liked the chewyness of the apricots in these cookies which are on the soft side, not the crumbly one. They also passed the children and husband test so this recipe is a keeper! 

Next time we are craving for cookies I am actually planning to modify this recipe a bit to try different flavor combinations and see whether I can come up with something interesting. Results will be posted here!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Focaccia, Part Deux

I found another great recipe for a focaccia, the result was perfect and everyone loved it! It was so soft inside and it leavened so well, I must say that the whole recipe process was interesting. My favorite part is flattening the elastic dough on the pan and imprint my fingers on it! I used an aluminum pan because I liked the elegand scalloped edges it would have imprinted on the focaccia.

The original blog post called for onions and cherry tomatoes but I instead used green olives and rosemary, my favorite focaccia toppings. The top gained a nice golden color and the inside was perfectly fluffy and airy.

I will definitively save this recipe for whenever I am craving for a soft focaccia. If you are looking for a traditional Italian focaccia recipe, this is it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vegan Focaccia Tiles

I have sweet memories linked to focaccia bread, to me it's linked to the Adriatic sea and my summer vacations as a child there. I tried the original focaccia in Liguria (that's where it's traditional) but I remember another great focaccia from a bakery in our favorite city by the Adriatic sea. We were buying the warm focaccia cut in squares for then bringing it to the beach, it was a fluffy focaccia topped with rosemary and salt crystals. 

Sometimes I crave that focaccia flavor so I prepare it at home, it's also a good way to use the rosemary from our garden. Few years back I fell in love with a focaccia recipe I found in a Better Homes & Gardens issue, the photo of the recipe was so beautiful and the idea of having different tiles on one focaccia which I could customize intrigued me. This is the photo from the original recipe:

Isn't it a mouthwatering photo? This recipe became a staple in our family, I prepare it whenever we want to snack on focaccia. The kids requested a pesto tile and I made a tile with oninon and anchovy for my husband. The other tiles were vegan and my favorite was the roasted red bell pepper. This is my focaccia tiles (before hitting the oven...when they came out we were too hungry to wait for pictures):

After the focaccia came out of the oven I broke some of the rosemary leaves on top of each tile...because you must have rosemary on your focaccia! I look forward to prepare this recipe during summer to use our tomatoes and zucchini on top of it!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

I bought some almond flour few weeks back and stored it in my refrigerator waiting to find a good recipe to try. Finally the web came to the almond flour rescue when I found this vegan recipe. Because I had not enough agave syrup I have used raw brown sugar and added 2T of unsweetened applesauce to add moisture.

The cookies look dry in the picture because of the "crumblyness" of the almond flour but in reality they came out perfect! The kids loved them and I feel it will be the perfect breakfast cookies to get energy in the moring. I have never baked so often! I just like the many choices of healthy desserts and cookies that the vegan world offers! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Raw Vegan Lunch

What can I say? This is beauty and joy in a bowl. Raw kale salad, recipe here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strawberry Jam Vegan Tartlets

Today I wanted to prepare a snack for my son's after soccer practice. Few days back I found a tartlet recipe on an Italian site so today I felt it was the perfect time to give it a try. The recipe is for a whole "crostata" jam cake but I made instead small tartlets, filling them with strawberry jam. After 10 years cooking with American recipes I somehow feel strange following a metric recipe but the result was great and my son and daughter loved the tartlets. The same recipe can be used to prepare fruit tartlets, where you cook the empty tartlets in the oven, fill them with vegan cream and top it with fresh fruit. I will definitively try that as well.

Growing up in Italy the "crostata" was a cake which my mother was often preparing, always made with some kind of homemade jam. I am happy to have found a great vegan recipe for these jam tartlets so I can continue the tradition of "crostata" cooking in my own home.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Raw Cauliflower Salad, Two Ways

I did not know you can eat raw cauliflower. Of course I did know that eating a vegetable in its raw form would be the best way to preserve its nutritional value so when I found a recipe for a raw cauliflower salad I thought I would give it a try. This was the result:

I loved the crunchiness of the cauliflower and the sweet, salty and sour combination of the ingredients. As you can see there also are broccoli florets which I already eat on a regular basis. Adding nuts was a great way to add protein to this raw dish. 

In one of my favorite food blogs I found another interesting recipe which I tried the other day. Again, the sweetness from the applesauce and the tangy flavor of the capers made the salad really interesting and pleasant to eat. 

Cauliflower Salad with Applesauce and Capers

These were definitively two filling and satisfying salads which I will be happy to eat again!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Best Vegan Pancakes!

I always have wanted to start a "Pancakes Sunday Breakfast" tradition in our home so I started researching for a good vegan recipe around the web but all the recipes I found where never giving me results of a perfect fluffy pancake. My search for it finally came to an end when I found this recipe which was written to celebrate National pancake day so it HAD to be the best one! The pancakes came out fluffy and delicious, making all my family happy and ready to start a great Sunday! The only thing I would change is the amount of baking soda to add to the batter, I would rather use 1T instead of 2 because I don't like too thick pancakes. Also, to the basic recipe I added dried blueberries and for toppings I added fresh blueberries and maple syrup. Let the "Pancakes Sunday Breakfasts" begin!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vegan Wedge Salad...with Vegan Bacon Bites!?

I love to eat salad, it's definitively not a boring meal! Salad to me is like pasta or rice, it's a base that you can customize and create so many variations of it. I was once researching online about vegan dressings for salads and I ended on this post about a vegan wedge salad recipe. Not only the pictures were very appealing, there also were instructions about how to prepare vegan bacon! I have never liked bacon but I could dig its vegan version! This was the result:

The salad did not only tasted great, it was beautiful to see, too and I like when my food is both tasty and beautiful. I used vegan barbecue sauce to prepare the vegan bacon and it turned interesting, a really nice addition to a fun salad.

The Vegan Baker

I have never been a good baker. I remember that the only thing I was good at baking when I started cooking was a popular and easy yogurt cake where you were using the yogurt cup to measure everything...a pretty easy and foolproof recipe. I do bake a good pizza but that's not dessert! Since I started exploring vegan recipes I turned into an enthusiastic and happy baker. I always have dreaded all the butter and sugar that traditional dessert and baking goods use so I have never approached dessert baking before. Vegan desserts seemed more approachable to me and I think it's amazing what you can prepare without eggs, milk, cream or butter!

The other day my four years old boy asked for brownies and I knew only one thing: I did not want to prepare them with a boxed mix. I started researching and found a video recipe on You Tube which not only only was vegan, it also sounded yummy and easy to make! I prepared vegan brownies before but the recipe called for bananas and they became way too sweet for our taste. The interesting thing about all these vegan brownies recipes is that they almost always call for black beans, how cool is that? Getting great protein from a brownie? I am in! The result was great, everyone loved it and my son was very happy to have his brownies. You will find the written recipe here. I did reduce the amount of sugar from 2 and 1/2 cups to 1 and 1/2 cups and they were sweet enough in my opinion. 

Black Beans Brownies

My Online Recipe Collection (Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw)

This blog will be a collection of vegetarian, vegan and sometimes raw recipes I have found around the web or in recipe books. I am a vegetarian who often have vegan and even raw eating days, though living with meat and fish eaters...and loving them all! I became vegetarian mainly for health reasons but I am definitively happy to save some animals lives because of my eating habits, too. We are what we eat but I am also aware that different people and cultures eat in different ways and have different points of view about what's right or wrong to eat...I do not judge people by what they eat but by who they are. I come from an Italian family so meat and fish were a big part of my childhood meals and I honestly do not regret eating them also because linked to that food were very special memories. What I am eating now is what my body tells me to eat to be at its best and I have learned to listen to my body cravings which always gravitate towards fresh and vegetarian options. So here's to a hopefully pleasant recipe sharing experience!
Green smoothie with avocado, spinach, ginger, raw cocoa powder and cinnamon.