Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Easy Pea-sy Vegan Chicken Pot Pie

Just a week ago I was denying the fact that summer was coming to an end. I was determined to enjoy the most sunshine and blue skies possible. I love summer. It's my favorite season. I love tank tops and sundresses, the feeling the sunshine on my shoulders, and wearing less make-up so my freckles can shine through.

Then it happened. Yesterday, as I was on my lunch break, it happened. A drop of rain hit my windshield. Then another. And another! And just like that, my brain went into fall mode. "Must. Have. Comfort. Food." I began daydreaming of what I could make for dinner that would satisfy my urge to create in the kitchen, and also satisfy my husband's 12-year-old-I-only-eat-yummy-foods palate. Not to mention, I wouldn't be home until about 6pm, and it needed to be on the table by 8pm or it would be a no-go.

As soon as I got off work, I called him. "Hey! What do you think about pot pie for dinner?" And he immediately said, "Mmmmm." And I knew what he was thinking. Maybe I could swing by Fox Coffee House and pick up a whole Vegan Pot Pie on my way home from work. And it's true, they have AMAZING vegan Pot Pie, and if you call in advance, you can pick up a whole one to go. But I wanted to cook! To turn on the oven. I mean it's under 80 degrees (if only by a few) and that means it's time to get cozy in the kitchen, right?

To my surprise, Dan offered up an amazing idea. "Buy everything in cans...even the you won't be cooking all night." Boom. Brilliant. Mad at myself for not thinking of it first. So I stopped by the market on the way home and picked up a few things. I went to Ralphs (Kroger in other parts of the country) and found everything I needed. Isn't it so great that options like Morningstar Farms Vegan Chicken Strips are available at main stream grocery stores now?

Enough chit-chat. Let's get to cookin'!

Easy Pea-sy Vegan Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe can be made in parts...if you don't have the time to do it all at once. You can make the filling ahead of time, then assemble and bake the pot pies the next day. Just as a side note, you can also use this filling all on its own as a hearty stew. A big bowl of this, while curled up in the corner of the couch, under a snuggly blanket just might be my idea of heaven.

*For this recipe I used 5-inch pie tins. You can use whatever size you want. You can even make one huge casserole sized pot-pie. The directions are still the same, you will just have a different yield depending on the size baking dish you use. The cook times given here are based on 5-inch pies. Larger pies may require slighly longer cook times. Just look for that puff pastry to be golden brown and crispy, then you will know it's done!

I am also trying to cut back a little bit on food spending, so I was happy to report that this recipe, which makes enough for eight 5-inch pot pies*, rolled in at a total cost of right around $25, or about $3.15 per pie. And believe me when I tell you each pie is definitely big enough for a meal!

2 (10-ounce) packages of vegan puff pastry (Pepperidge Farms is accidentally vegan!), thawed according to package directions
3 ounces vegan butter (about 1/3 cup) or oil
3 ounces all-purpose flour (just under 3/4 cup)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 (15-ounce) cans white potatoes, rinsed and cubed
1 (15-ounce) can green peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can carrots, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) package of Morningstar Farm's Meal Starters Chick'n Strips (or any other of your favorite vegan chicken substitutes...and to be honest, you could totally leave this out and it would still be fucking delicious.)
additional melted butter for brushing

To Make the Gravy
While your puff pastry is thawing, you can make the gravy and filling.
In a large pot (if you don't have a large pot, you can use a smaller one, just know that you will need to transfer the gravy to a larger bowl once you add in the fillings) add butter or oil and heat over medium heat.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir vigorously until all of the flour is absorbed into the butter or oil and forms a thick golden paste. Continue to cook, constantly stirring, and turning until it is dry and kind of looks like play-doh. About 5 minutes.
Slowly stir in the vegetable broth and continue to stir. Stir in the parsley and pepper and continue to cook until thickened.
Remove from heat.

To Make the Filling
If your pot is large enough, you can dump all the ingredients (potatoes, peas, carrots, corn and Chik'n) right into the pot and stir. If not, pour all of the ingredients into a large bowl and carefully pour the gravy into the bowl, then stir to combine.

Assemble Your Pot Pies
You will need two layers of puff pastry for each pot pie. One for the bottom, to line your dish, and one for the top to create a buttery flaky crust.
Line each of your pie tins, baking dishes, or ramekins with puff pastry dough, using your fingers to shape it and press it into place. Luckily, puff pastry is quite forgiving and you don't have to be too gentle with it. If you tear it, don't worry, just make a patch with another small piece and you will be good to go.
Ladle in the filling until the dish is full. It can be really full! Pile it in there so you don't end up with wimpy pot pies!
Next place another layer of dough on top and pinch together the edges to seal. I use the tines of a fork to do this.
Poke a venting slit in the top.
Brush the tops with melted butter.

Bake to Golden Perfection
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C, or Gas Mark 5).
Place your pot pies on a baking sheet...just in case some of that filling does decide to spill over.
Bake for 15 minutes, then crank up the heat to 400 F (204 C, or Gas Mark 6) and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 (5-inch) pot pies

Monday, September 5, 2016

Watermelon Poke Bowls

Over the weekend I was out at Tanaka Farms teaching the third and final of my Summer Cooking Series classes. (Don't worry, next up is the Fall Harvest Cooking Series!) It's kind of a weird time on the farm...I mean it's the end of Summer, so our Fall harvest is not quite ready for picking and the Spring harvest has long since gone. Ripe seasonal produce is mostly tomatoes, corn, and melons. And when I do these classes, I really like to focus on celebrating the season's bounty, so my recipes always center around what's in season. 

I chose to focus on watermelon. After all, there are a lot of folks heading to the farm for the Melon Tours and to get their hands on a sweet yellow watermelon. "Perfect!" I thought to myself. "But what am I going to cook with watermelon?" I mean I already did a kids class on Watermelon Agua Fresca a few weeks back and other than grilling it (which isn't much of a recipe) watermelon pretty much is a fruit that stands alone.

Back in my Whole Foods Market days, a few of us creative types used to do some fun experimenting and I do remember using watermelon as a stand in for tuna to make a sashimi, and then I remembered seeing my friend Erin's post on her beautiful site Olives For Dinner where she made a Watermelon Poke Bowl inspired by a recipe in Bon Apetit Magazine. And I know Erin doesn't mess around when it comes to vegan-izing seafood. I mean she's a genius when it comes to that stuff!

Inspired by Erin, and a host of other recipes from the old internet machine, I set out to create a very simple recipe for traditional Poke that would be easy to make and impress the very-much-not-vegan crowd at the farm. I am limited in cooking equipment out on the farm, so it had to be something I could pretty much make in one pan on a single portable gas burner.

I am happy to report...this one really hit the mark! Not only was it simple to make, but the taste was spot on! Not exactly like tuna (I mean it IS watermelon, after all!) but according to all that gave it a try, it certainly was reminiscent of Poke, and had the right flavors and components found in a traditional Poke Bowl. Even Farmer Tanaka himself gave it the thumbs up.

Okay, okay. Enough chit chat. On to the recipe!

Watermelon Poke Bowls
For a downloadable PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE.

This recipe can definitely be made in parts and it can be made ahead of time so that all of the components are ready in the fridge when you are ready for some serious Poke Bowl action.

Watermelon in Marinade
This marinade will transform your watermelon from sweet to savory. The vinegar will help soften the fruit and prepare it for cooking which will soften it even more making it the perfect substitute for ahi tuna in this vegan version of a Poke Bowl.

¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cubed red seedless watermelon (cut it into small cubes no larger than ½-inch)

Mix together marinade in a shallow dish with a lid, or a re-sealable plastic bag.
Add watermelon and refrigerate for at least one hour, but it’s even better if you can do it overnight. Transfer marinated watermelon to a pan with a lid.
Cook covered on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, or until deep red and translucent and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
If you have a really juicy watermelon, you can drain off any excess liquid.
 Chill until ready to serve.

Watermelon Poke
Hawaiian Poke was made popular by fisherman who made this fish salad with the trim and scraps leftover after the prime cuts were used or sold to eat as a snack or appetizer.

1 recipe Watermelon in Marinade
1 cup julienne cut Maui Onions
1 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons soy sauce

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss to coat.
Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Watermelon Poke Salad

For the Sweet Sticky rice

This sweet rice makes a perfect base to serve under your Poke. Use an Ice Cream Scoop for perfectly shaped balls of rice.

2 cups short grain arborio or sushi rice, rinsed
3 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons agave
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your rice cooker and follow the directions on your rice cooker. If you do not have a rice cooker, bring salt and water to a boil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Stir in remaining ingredients. Return to a low simmer, cover and
simmer for about 20 minutes, or
until water has been absorbed.

Sesame SriRacha Sauce
This sauce will quickly become a household favorite! I’m never without a squeezy bottle full in my refrigerator.

12 ounces soft silken tofu
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and
blend until silky smooth.
Keep refrigerated.

Assemble Your Poke Bowl
Time to get artistic! All of your hard work will now be assembled into the most beautifully arranged bowl of Watermelon Poke.

You will need:
1 recipe Sweet Sticky Rice
1 recipe Watermelon Poke
Sesame Sriracha Sauce
Shredded Nori
Sesame seeds
Chopped Green Onions
Wedge of Lime

Start by adding desired amount of rice to the bottom of the bowl.
Next add desired amount of Watermelon Poke.
Top with a generous amount of Sesame Sriracha Sauce, Then Sprinkle with shredded Nori, Furikake, Sesame Seeds, and green onion.
Serve with a wedge of lime.

Samples passed out at the end of class.
We ended up passing out about 150 samples between Saturday and Sunday's classes.
Talk about planting seeds!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Vegans Go Nuts! Barbecue Pecans

book cover
Vegans Go Nuts! Celine's and my new book is now available!
I am super excited to announce the arrival of our new book! Celine and I were at it again, together, to create an entire book full of recipes that bring our favorite ingredient (NUTS!) to the forefront. No longer are they relegated to a sprinkle on top of salads. Nope. Nuts take center stage in this book, with recipes for basics, like nut milks, butters, cheeses, and mayos to entrees like the slow-cooked barbecue pecans in the Texas Hold 'Ems (on page 100) that I am excited to share with you below!

Last weekend I was one of the featured chefs at the LA Vegan Underground Supper Club (The BBQ Edition!) at Green's Center for Plant Based Education. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to show off one of the recipes from the book. So I showcased these slow-cooked barbecue pecans on tacos and in bowls. I was so excited to hear folks tell me how much they liked them, and how original it was to use pecans instead of jackfruit or seitan.

Texas Hold Ems
As a taco! 2 street sized grilled corn tortillas, ranch slaw, BBQ pecans, spicy aioli, and a pinch of cilantro. 

Texas Hold ‘Ems 
(Savory BBQ Pecans)

If Texas is known for one thing, it’s BBQ. But did you know Texas is also known for its pecans? Here we smother and simmer pecans in a sassy barbecue sauce then stuff them into a handhold (a pita, tortilla, French roll, or even tacos) along with some chopped salad. As written, this recipe makes a bunch, but it keeps well in the fridge. If you make a big batch of the pecans, you can definitely use them in all sorts of ways, like the BBQ Pecan Bowl pictured below! 

For the Barbecue Pecans:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 cup (160 g) diced red onion
2 tablespoons (20 g) minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (366 g) tomato sauce
1 cup (235 ml) pineapple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) sriracha sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons (44 g) molasses
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegan
Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
4 cups (396 g) pecans, soaked overnight and drained*
Salt and pepper

For the Almond Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) mild flavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 g) Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons (3 g) onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill, or 1 tablespoon (4 g) fresh
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

For the Chopped Salad:
1 pound (454 g) romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces
1 medium red onion (about 6 ounces, or 170 g) peeled and finely diced
1 bunch (2 ounces, or 56 g) cilantro, chopped

For the Handholds:
Bread, rolls, pita, or tortillas

To make the Barbecue Pecans: Add the olive oil to the bottom of a pan and heat over medium heat. Add the diced onions and saute until fragrant and translucent, and edges are browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute 2 to 3 more minutes. 
Add in the remaining ingredients except the pecans, salt, and pepper.
Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, add in the pecans, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, returning to stir halfway through.

To make the Almond Buttermilk Ranch Dressing: Add the almond milk, lemon juice, and vinegar to your blender. (If you have an immersion blender this works perfectly here.) Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. It will curdle and become like buttermilk. Add in the remaining ingredients,
and blend until combined and thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the chopped salad: In a large mixing bowl, toss together the romaine, onion, and cilantro. Toss with dressing. If preparing in advance, do not toss with dressing until ready to serve. 
Assemble your handholds by layering the chopped salad and Barbecue Pecans in the handheld delivery method of your choice.

Yield: 8 servings of pecans and salad, and 1 1/2 cups (455 ml) dressing

BBQ Pecan Bowl
As a bowl! Dirty rice, garlicky greens, BBQ pecans, ranch slaw, fire roasted corn, and green onions.

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni