Friday, March 30, 2012

Scott's Broccoli

What could be better than strolling through the farmers' market and picking out some beautifully local gown veggies? I'll tell you! Getting vegetables out of your (or your friend's) garden. While our garden is still trying to grow up and mature, some of my friends' gardens are producing crazy amounts of gorgeous vegetables.

My good friend and co-worker Scott and I chat often about our gardens. I love our garden chats and the advice he shares with me. His thumb is very green. He has been picking bunches and bunches of broccoli every day. He and his family can't eat it fast enough. He was sweet enough to share his mother load with me the other day. He brought in a super gigantic bag of tender, dark green, fresh broccoli. There was so much in fact, that both my office mate and I were each able to take home a healthy amount. Look at how pretty it is!!

I took a taste of it just raw and man was it tasty. I wanted to prepare it pretty simply so that the natural flavor of the broccoli would shine through. I also wanted to do some roasting. It's going to be hot here before we know it, and the oven will be the last tool I will want to use over the summer. Roasting also brings out the beautiful natural sugars in the vegetables; giving them a richer flavor than steaming or even sauteing. With these goals in mind, here is what developed:

Scott's Roasted Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Garlic

Makes 4 servings (maybe 2 if you love broccoli as much as I do)

1 lb fresh broccoli
6 large sun dried tomatoes (in oil) thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
t tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash broccoli. Some varieties of broccoli have very thin stems. This is the kind I had for tonight. This makes it very easy to prep. You just break it up into little trees, no stem trimming necessary. If the broccoli you have is the type with thick stems, slice off stem about 2-3 inches down from where the florets start separating from the stalk. Cut off individual florets and part of the remaining stem.

Place broccoli in a very large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat completely. Spread in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 12-15 minutes until broccoli is cooked but still a bit crunchy. Enjoy!!

Don't have friends with awesome gardens? This time of the year here in AZ, you should have no problem finding some great fresh broccoli at the farmers' markets. Click here for a nice list of local farmers' markets.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lavosh Pizza

Last week I was shopping at Trader Joe's and came across some whole wheat lavosh. My original plan for the lavosh was to make a wrap with some type of white bean dip and lots of fresh veggies. I'm not sure why that hasn't happened yet. Maybe later this week for lunches. What did happen was lavosh pizza! The lavosh was a great crust. It was very thin and light. The edges got super crispy with the center being more tender.

Probably the biggest reason I went with pizza is that I had small amounts of a few ingredients left over from other recipes. Pizza is such a great way to use up small amounts of goodies that might otherwise get left behind. I had opened a jar of roasted red peppers for some soup I made this weekend. I had just a small amount of kalamata olives left over. Then I found a partial onion hanging out. Then there was some basic about to brown on me. I had a few creminis hiding out, but sadly my fridge did a Mr. Freeze on them. This recipe is very flexible, you can use your favorite toppings. Make sure not to over crowd the pizza so the crust can get nice and crispy.

If you haven't made it yet, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Tofu Ricotta recipe is a fantastic substitute for the dairy version. This is often my go-to recipe for first time vegan diners. I served stuffed shells to my very meat eating extended family. They had no clue it was vegan. It's just incredible. As an added bonus, it is super easy to make. You can make the ricotta and the sauce ahead of time to make this a quick week night dinner. I always have a hard time finding a pizza sauce that I really like, but I think I may have created a winner tonight. I'll let you be the judge. It's very easy to make and has lots of yummy herby flavor. If you do try it, I'd love to hear what you think...leave me a comment.

Lavosh Pizza

Makes two pizzas

2 Lavosh
1 recipe pizza sauce (recpe below)
1/2 recipe Tofu Ricotta
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
2 roasted red peppers, sliced into thin strips
12 slow roasted halved cherry tomatoes
15-20 medium sized fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 425.

Place each lavosh on a cookie sheet (no need to oil). Spread with a thin layer of pizza sauce over the lavosh, leaving about 1 inch of the edge naked. Drop ricotta by the generous tablespoon about 1-2 inches apart. Using the back of the spoon, flatten ricotta. This will help it cook more evenly. Spread toppings evenly over the top. Bake for 10 minutes until lavosh is crisp on the edges and ricotta is hot. 

Slice and serve immediately. Serve with extra sauce on the side. 

Pizza Sauce

Makes approx 1 1/2 cups

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
pinch fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
15 oz can organic tomato sauce

Sunday, March 25, 2012

White Bean and Orzo Soup with Fresh Italian Herbs

This past year, two of my very close girlfriends have been undergoing breast cancer treatment. As a survivor myself, I know how hard it is to ask for help. It is also difficult to keep up with all of the doctors' appointments, keep your energy up and take care of everyday life. It's hard to know what to do to help. One thing I know I can always do is make some healthy eats for them.

My friend who was just diagnosed has always been crazy about my soups, so much so, that she suggested I start my own line of healing soups. I thought that was pretty darn cute of her. But she is one to always find new business propositions. The challenge I have when creating recipes for her is that she is allergic to garlic. I adore garlic and rarely make anything savory without it. It is such a great flavoring agent and nothing is quite the same.

To offset the lack of garlic, I decided to ramp up the flavor with robust fresh herbs. This soup is loaded with nutrient dense vegetables. Great white Northern beans provide protein and additional fiber. The fresh tomatoes and roasted red peppers boost the vitamin content and add lovely color and flavor to the soup. Caramelized onions lend a hint of sweetness. This is a meal in a bowl. Serve with a nice crusty Italian bread and a simple green salad if you are very hungry.

Today at the farmers' market had some absolutely beautiful tomatoes (I love this time of year in AZ).

We have some wonderful red Russian kale coming out of the garden, so that became part of the mix.

I also grabbed some fresh thyme and oregano from our herb garden. I bought some fresh basil for another recipes that didn't happen this week, so I really had some great stuff to start with!

White Bean and Orzo Soup with Fresh Italian Herbs

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced, approx. 3 cups
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 large tomatoes, 1/2 inch dice
3 roasted red peppers (I used jarred this time), 1/2 inch dice
1/3 cup tightly packed fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh oregano leaves, chopped fine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 fresh cracked pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
1 - 14.5 oz can Great Northern beans, liquid included
1/2 cup dry orzo
1 bunch kale chopped into small pieces
2 oz fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan or stockpot over medium low heat, add olive oil, onions, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute onions until they are just turning golden and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally. This may take a little bit of time, but it is worth the wait to coax out the sweetness of the onions. This will give you time to chop your fresh herbs. 

Add diced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, oregano, thyme, black pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Raise heat to medium. Simmer until tomatoes just soften and liquid is almost gone, about 5-7 minutes.

Add vegetable stock and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add white beans, orzo and kale. Simmer for 15 more minutes until orzo and kale are both tender. Remove from heat and add basil. Let sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the basil to release it's flavor. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.

Seitan au Poivre

Once upon a time, I was a culinary school student. My chefs were classically trained in the European, Escoffier ways of gastronomy. The methods we learned were steeped in centuries of tradition. They were hardly vegan or heart friendly; using plenty of high fat animal products. I must admit back in those days, I loved trying all the new and exciting techniques and favors I was being introduced to.

One of my ultimate favorite meat based dishes from back then was Steak au Poivre. This was a decadent dish made with beef tenderloin coated in black peppercorns. The filet was then seared, flamed with brandy, smothered with a rich demiglace and garnished with fresh chopped parsley. We cooked it table side at the school's student run restaurant. It was one of our most popular dishes. It was quite a show! One time, my partner and I were doing several orders at once. I loved the big flame, so I used a pretty healthy dose of brandy and promptly singed my bangs. Not an appetizing smell, that burnt hair. But it was pretty entertaining.

In this more compassionate version, you can still get the big show. I am going to suggest you leave out the flaming hair. The tenderloin is replaced by seitan steak. Panko crumbs are added to the peppercorns to add a hint of a crunchy texture. The peppercorns give a wonderful peppery bite and texture to the steaks. The rich velvety sauce makes you feel like you are in a five star restaurant. Steak au Poivre is traditionally served with potatoes. Tonight toasted Israeli cous cous with walnuts worked as a fun stand in. I had some chard in the fridge that I paid far too much for at Whole Foods. This was simply sauteed in olive oil with caramelized red onion, a touch of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

I have to admit, I did this from memory and I missed a couple of components that I realized after the fact, but it was still very tasty! In the classic version there is often an addition of mustard, and you certainly can add it if you please. In all honesty, it is excellent without it. I made extra sauce/gravy for potatoes later on.

Seitan au Poivre

4 servings sauce, 2 servings seitan steaks

For the Sauce 

2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons shallots, minced
4 oz cremini mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups strong vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen bouquet (browning sauce)

In a 1 qt saucepan over medium heat, melt vegan butter. When butter is melted add olive oil, garlic and shallots. Saute until shallots are translucent. Add mushrooms and saute until they just soft and release their liquid, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in flour to coat. Cook for about 2-3 minutes further. Whisk in vegetable broth and kitchen bouquet until smooth. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

For Steaks

4 - 3 oz. seitan steaks (I used the Beefy Seitan recipe from American vegan kitchen)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon corn starch
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons very coarsely ground peppercorns
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brandy
chopped parsley for garnish

Set up breading station. Combine soy milk and corn starch in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl mix the panko crumbs and peppercorns. Dip steaks, one at a time in soy milk mixture, making sure they are completely coated. Dredge in the panko mixture making sure the steaks are coated. Transfer to plate in a single layer.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in 10 inch iron skillet or other heavy bottomed skillet (do not use non-stick coated pan here). The oil should be hot, but not smoking before adding the steaks. Add the steaks making sure they are not touching. Sear for about 3 minutes on each side. When the steaks are seared (browned and slightly crunchy), quickly add the brandy. Carefully flame the brandy using a stick lighter. When the flame goes out, add about 1 cup of the sauce. It will bubble a little bit from the hot pan.  Using a spatula, transfer to serving plate. Spoon sauce remaining in the pan over the steaks (and potatoes if serving). Garnish with fresh parsley.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Horizons Cookbook - Trio of Tastiness

As I continue working through some of my cookbook selection, I thought I would break out a relatively new addition to my collection. Horizons New Vegan Cuisine came highly recommended by my foodie soul sisters; Tami from Vegan Appetite and Liz from Cooking the Vegan Books. They were right on with this one.

This book is lovely. The authors, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, take you on a trip to many exotic places. They have traveled extensively and share their journeys of food with their readers. It kind of makes me feel like I don't get around much. There are beautiful color pictures throughout the book. The layout is interesting. The ingredients are in a green side bar with the instructions on the inside "seam" of the book. It is pleasantly easy to read, which is a plus in the kitchen.

This book is full of interesting looking recipes. I had a hard time selecting what to make. I chose three dishes that didn't look too time intensive for a weeknight. First up was the Spinach Salad with Cilantro Dressing (pg. 64). This one came together in a snap. The dressing was made in the blender with simple ingredients that blended so well together. The creaminess of the mayo-mustard combo was delightfully brightened up by lime and cilantro. I served ours with the optional sliced jalapenos. Major yum, without major work.

I have had nagging voice in my head telling me I need black bean soup. I just happened to run across the Brazilian Black Bean Soup (pg. 35) and the voices sang. This recipe looked relatively simple, so I thought, "Why not?" The Latin Spice blend (pg. 27) is a flavor powerhouse. They give you the option to add whatever chile powder you like. I chose a combo of chipotle and ancho. The recipe for the spice mix didn't specify what type of paprika to use, so I opted for spicy smoked paprika. You can pick your pepper as well. I had jalapenos in the fridge, so they were the pepper of choice tonight. I thought it would be delightful in a Latin spice combo. It was a good call. The soup had a beautiful silky texture. It had a bit of heat to it, but not too much. I might try it with habanero another time to fire things up for my heat lovin' honey.

Horizon's Dinner

The real surprising treat for me was the Caramelized Cauliflower in Spanish Green Garlic Sauce (pg. 130). While I am not a hater, cauliflower is not my favorite vegetable. It seems I forget about this cloud-looking veggie. Again, this dish was very easy to throw together. The most time intensive part was chopping the parsley and mincing the garlic. I used my trusty Microplane grater and made quick work of the garlic. I added the optional chopped tomatoes. I am so glad that I did. Not only did they add a nice dimension of flavor, they added some beautiful color. Fred and I were split on this dish. I adored it, while he was...meh. I loves me some garlic. The garlic on this could easily be overpowering for many meeker folks. The garlic is not cooked, so it adds a dimension of heat that may turn some people off. I, on the other hand, figured it would do my heart good and keep the vampires away. YUM! Tell me this is not a gorgeous side dish?

Caramelized Cauliflower in Spanish Green Garlic Sauce

The Horizons Cookbook is likely to get some action in our house. I love dishes with lots of spices and bold flavors. The dishes I've tried so far easily fit this bill. If you like lots of flavor in your recipes and lots of beautiful pictures in your cookbooks, make sure to get a copy of this book. It's good reading and good eating!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vine and Dine - Spork Fed - Beer Battered Tempeh Fish with a Tartar Sauce

Welcome to the March Madness version of Vine and Dine. For my newer readers; Vine and Dine is a fun little challenge that Tami from Vegan Appetite created. She selects a recipe from a vegan cookbook and we go about trying to find a vegan wine that will complement the dish. 

The selection for this time around was Beer Battered Tempeh Fish with a Tartar Sauce from Spork Fed by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. Fish and Chips certainly have their origins in the UK. Exactly which part of England and which version is the true version is a matter of hot debate to this day. One indisputable fact is that Fish and Chips were one of the dishes saved from rationing during World War II. No small deal. 

This version would make the old school folks turn their noses up for sure! Tempeh instead of fish? Bloody bang out of order! Tempeh actually worked quite nicely here. I have to admit the texture of the tempeh did not come close to fish, but it was very nice with the batter. I might add some dulse or other sea type seasoning to add a bit of a fishy flavor.  This "fish" recipe and the tartar sauce recipe were both very simple. Admittedly, this was a very indulgent dish; not low fat by any means. I opted to halve both recipes, which was a good call. I don't think this would re-heat well.  The batter fried up beautifully crispy and golden. The creamy tartar sauce had a great pungent and salty quality from the capers and olives. 

I opted to make my own "chips". I used un-peeled russet potatoes. I did a quick blanching in hot oil for about 3 minutes. The potatoes were cooled completely and then fried again to perfect crispy golden perfection. They were tossed in seasoned salt. As is tradition in the UK, these were served with my very in-authenic version of mushy peas. This was a very filling, comfort-foody dinner. Fred really liked it. But I did let him know, this would probably not be in the regular rotation. I could feel it going directly to my hips and thighs!

Here is Fred to chat about the wine:

Tonight we (well actually Kim, as I worked a 15 hour day) picked an Arizona Stronghold white table blend called Tazi to accompany our meal. Tazi is also the name of Cochise's oldest son, the "peacemaker" for the Chiricahua Apache Tribe. Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay were all packed into this bottle which turned out to be a "comfort" wine for me, as no one grape took over. Every sip melded with each bite of food. It was wonderful! 

The nuttiness of the tempeh was complimented by the Chardonnay characteristics and then the peas got a goose from behind with the bright freshness of the Pinot Gris. It has a pomelo (asian grapefruit, only sweeter) finish which almost cleansed the palate after every sip. This wine with this meal is interesting, has personality, and is definitely fun. Tazi was indeed full enough to have it's own identity but yet a peacemaker with every flavor in our meal tonight.

A side note from the cook: All day long, I kept saying, "I can't even imagine not having beer with this dish. Maybe we should just break the rule and have beer." Last minute I went and found a wine for the dish so I wouldn't be a rule breaker. When did I become a conformist? In the end I'm glad I was...this time. 

You can see below that Fred is holding the debate in his head even as we are sitting down to eat. He is musing over two local beverages. Four Peaks Brewery 8th Street ale is made in Tempe, AZ, home of the ASU Sun Devils. According to Barnivore, most of their beers are vegan friendly with the exception of their cast-conditioned ales served at their pubs. Arizona Stronghold is produced in Cochise County Arizona. All of their wines produced after 2008 are vegan friendly. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kale and Get it Ripe

I went about attempting to plan the week's meals. This is so unnatural to me, it almost pains me. It is my attempt to reduce waste while giving some of my cookbooks some love. I have quite a library. Fred has mentioned more than a few times lately that he feels I don't use them. I do, but I often "wing" it and create my own dishes. I pulled a few volumes that haven't seen my kitchen in a while and selected some dishes for the week.

I started of with Get it Ripe by Jae Steele. She focuses on healthy and fresh ingredients. For some reason this is not a go-to book for me. I've only made a couple of things from it. There is one dish I have made several times (a rarity for me): Sesame Kale Soba. This is a quick, satisfying, nutritious dish, packed full of anti-oxidants. Sesame seeds provide some protein and calcium. You can add baked tofu to up the protein content even further.

Fred has been really craving miso soup lately. He doesn't often request things, but he has this on his mind for a few weeks. Get it Ripe has a Mighty Miso Soup recipe, so I thought, "What the heck?". This version is more vegetable laden than the versions we often find out at restaurants. I loved the fact that it was chock full of kale, mushrooms, carrots, sea vegetables and tofu. 

We had two bunches of kale that were just about to go South on us, so this was a perfect way to warm up a rare cold and rainy day today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sometimes Simple is Best

If you've been following the blog for a while or you know me personally, you are probably aware that my recipes often contain a load of ingredients. In my defense, they are often just spices that (hopefully) you have on hand. Last night I was in the mood for simple, wholesome food with very few ingredients; something that I could whip up without having to depend on my great dried herb arsenal. 

The herb barrel is doing quite well now. Those fresh herbs were calling out to me to be used. In addition, the fridge was stuffed full of produce quickly coming to the end of its prime. I bought lots of fresh goodies at the farmers' market the week before with good intentions of cooking up a storm. As my busy schedule would have it, cooking was not to be on the agenda after all. 

After a quick trip to cut the herbs and sort out the mess in the fridge I found the makings for a lovely, fairly light dinner. The smells of roasting rosemary, oregano and garlic were heaven to the nose. I don't know if it is even fair to call these recipes, but I will anyway!

Greek Lemon Tofu

4 servings

1 - 12 oz package extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 8 triangles
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, measured after chopping
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon or so lemon pepper seasoning
2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
spray olive oil

In an 8 x 8 baking dish stir together lemon juice, olive oil, vegetable stock and garlic until well combined. Place sliced tofu in a single layer in pan. Marinate for at least two hours, preferably overnight, turning about half way through marinating time. Remove tofu from pan and reserve marinade. 

Preheat oven to 350. 

Lightly oil parchment lined baking dish (you can use the same dish you used for the marinade, rinsing first). Place tofu in single layer in baking dish and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Brush or drizzle with reserved marinade. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn over and sprinkle other side with lemon pepper seasoning. Brush or drizzle lightly with reserved marinade. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon panko bread crumbs. Spray generously with spray olive oil or canola oil. Bake for another 20 minutes until panko is nicely browned. Remove from pan with spatula. Serve immediately with Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes (recipe below).

Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes

Make 4 servings

2 pounds small red potatoes, with peels, quartered
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (approx. 2 tablespoons), removed from stem
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large saucepan, add enough water to cover potatoes. Over medium heat bring water and potatoes to bowl. Reduce heat to low to simmer until just barely fork soft, about 15 minutes. Drain well. 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss together all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes and roast for 20-25 more minutes until potatoes are starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cooking Class Food Chatter

I just have to start of saying how really wonderful all of the participants of the dinner party cooking class are! Great bunch of people. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to all of you. As I went around the room it was interesting to hear what people enjoyed the most.

The overwhelming response was that the appetizer course, Red Inca Crusted Sweet Potato Cakes with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce, was the favorite. I have to say, I am in total agreement. The cooked quinoa gets a fabulous kind of crispy when it is fried. It's a wonderful contrast to the soft creamy sweet potato center. The cakes were complemented with a slightly tart and creamy Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce.

The second course boasted locally grown Arizona oranges...local like in my back yard local! We don't use any chemicals or pesticides in our yard, so they are fresh and natural. Horny Toad Farms grew the fresh cilantro, fennel and red cabbage for the Fennel and Savoy Salad with Arizona Orange Cilantro Dressing garnished with Cocoa-Chili Toasted Pepitas. The fresh light salad was a nice palate cleanser for the entree.

Here is a shot of the salad demonstration.

The entree for the evening was Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffed Chiles served with a Guajillo Chile Sauce over Horny Toad Farm Butternut Squash Kale Bake. Anaheim chiles were selected for their hint of heat and they allowed for the perfect ratio of chile to stuffing. The vegan chorizo has only about 2 grams of fat per serving compared to its meaty counterpart at a whopping 23 grams of fat per serving. All of the flavor, none of the nastiness. The smoky guajillo sauce added a lovely dimension of flavor and balance to the dish. This photo doesn't show it, but there was just a drizzle of vegan sour cream over the top to really make the colors pop. The butternut squash kale bake boasted a good hit of antioxidants and yumminess.

As promised, I am posting the recipe for the corn bread. I chose Robin Robertson's recipe from her 2009 book 1000 Vegan Recipes (Published by John Wiley & Sons). It is a very simple recipe and lends itself perfectly for making cornbread crumbs as it doesn't have a really high moisture content or sweetness factor. 


Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups warm plain soy milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan and place it in the oven while you prepare the batter.

In a small bowl, combing the soy mil and vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the soy milk mixture and and the oil and mix well with a few quick strokes.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and scrape the batter into the hot pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

I am hoping someone from the class has a picture of the dessert plate. If you have one, I'd love to use it for my next post about the dessert.

There is a saying that says "It takes a village." In this case, it took a fantastic line up of volunteers and hard workers. I have to give a special thanks to my friend and business partner, Beth, for being there through recipe testing, development and many hours of preparation. Her dedication makes this whole process a lot more fun!

Another special thanks to my sister, who is always there for me. She also spent hours in the kitchen and serving the night of the class. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible sister. Not only is she my sis, she is my best friend.

Kudos also go out to the very handsome and patient men in our lives. My honey Fred, who kept the wine flowing all night and Beth's awesome hubby Jerry who was my on stage assistant (thanks for running back and forth all night!). 

Thanks also to my very talented and wonderful niece, Riley. She had no time to prepare for her impromptu appearance to assist with demonstrating dessert. She did an outstanding job and I look forward to featuring her talents in future classes. Thanks Ry!

My niece Jenna also got in on the action. She is a hard worker and very dedicated to the Hackett House and philanthropic persuits. Thanks for taking time out of study time to come down and bust out some clean up! She's the cutie on the far left.

Many, many thanks to all of the ladies of the Hackett House and all of the volunteers who came out for all of their hard work, encouragement and creativity. 

I look forward to participating in the fall cooking class series!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hackett House Dinner Party Cooking Class

What an evening! A couple of months ago I was invited to conduct a cooking demonstration at the Hackett House in Tempe. The Hackett House is a historical building downtown that houses an adorable gift shop and a very nice event venue. They are very involved with supporting the Tempe Sister Cities programs which provides a once in a life time experience for high school students to experience other cultures by being involved in an exchange program. They have a spring and fall series of cooking classes each year. This was the first time they ever had an all vegan cooking class. They were a little concerned there may not be enough interest in a vegan class. They were pleasantly surprised that not only did the class sell out, it was the largest class they have had so far. Yay for yummy vegan food!

This year is the 100th Anniversary of Arizona's statehood. To celebrate this momentous occasion I created a Southwestern themed menu that featured locally grown produce from Horny Toad Farms. Farmer Stella McPhee brought down some freshly picked produce for the dinner and took time out of her extremely busy schedule to come down and speak to the crowd about the farm, sustainable farming and their CSA (community supported agriculture program). Their farm is truly family run and not some big corporate puppet regime. Please support them and other local farmers by visiting your local farmers markets or joining their CSA. Click here for more info on the CSA.

She provided beautiful flowers that she grows out at the farm for the center pieces. As you can see below.

The crowd was fun and gracious. There were some great questions from the audience too! I took a little poll mid-class and found out that the majority of the guests had never had a vegan meal before. It was really exciting to see that they were really enjoying the food. I'm still catching my breath from such a wonderful and exciting event. I promise I will be posting more pictures and more on the food tomorrow. One of the guests, Colleen, had asked for the corn bread recipe. I have permission from Robin Robertson to post her recipe (which is the one I used for the stuffed chiles). I will be sure to post that tomorrow as well. 

Thank you to everyone who came out to see us! We will be back in the fall with another class featuring locally grown-pesticide free produce!