Coconut Samosa Potato Salad (from Salad Sam!)

As I type this up, I’m looking to my right at a box of Salad Samurai books, unopened, on the kitchen floor. My single copy is no longer just that! This is really happening folks.

Book release dates are fickle creatures: in this instance, Salad Sam was originally slated for sometime in early June. Then a bunch of printing issues happened, the on sale date shifted all the way to July 1st, and then hurray it’s back to mid-June. Maybe the 16th? Either way, the world will get some salad and not soon enough for the warming spring weather.

But until then, here’s a loooooong overdue recipe from the book I presented at a chill cooking event with Isa in Sydney, Australia back in March. This is for the 19 attendees who lingered through the heat of that early fall evening waiting for a taste crunchy, tangy potato salad inspired by everybody’s favorite savory Indian pastries. Tender potatoes and chickpeas are bathed in a bright curry vinaigrette, lots of fresh herbs, and instead of a crust (salad after all), I toss in a handful of toasted papadum, a common find in Indian markets and a crunchy fun in a salad.

Coconut Samosa Potato Salad (from Salad Sam!)
 
A hearty potato and pea salad dressed with warm curry dressing, garnished with cashews, and crushed toasted papadum (crunchy Indian lentil wafers) that’s reminiscent of samosas, the essential Indian deep fried stuffed pastry. Great any time of year but invigorating comfort food in cooler fall weather.
Serves: 2 huge servings, 4 little servings
Ingredients
Salad:
  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (half of a 14 ounce can)
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup lightly packed mint, roughly chopped
  • ⅔ cup roasted, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons mild flavored vegetable oil such as grapeseed
  • 6 curry leaves, roughly chopped (leave out if you can’t find them)
  • 4 teaspoons mild or hot curry powder
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Garnish
  • 2 cups gently crushed toasted papadam chips
  • ½ cup toasted, unsweetened coconut shreds (see East West Corn Salad, page XX, for tips on toasting coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
Instructions
  1. Either thoroughly scrub potatoes to remove any exterior dirt and carve out the eyes, or completely peel the potatoes. Dice into 1-inch cubes, transfer to a large pot and cover with 3 inches of water. Over high heat bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork. About 2 minutes just before the potatoes seem done, stir in the peas and cook until bright green but firm. Drain and set aside the potatoes and peas to cool.
  2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry leaves and fry for about 1 minute until crisp and turn off the heat. Stir in the curry powder to gently cook the spices in the oil and set aside to cool for 1 minute. Whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients.
  3. Transfer potatoes and peas to a large serving bowl and add the chickpeas, onion, cilantro, mint, and cashews. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Heap on the crushed papadum and coconut, and dust the top of the salad with garam masala. Serve away!

samosapotatosalad

Save the Lamprey Ale & Seitan Pie

It’s Sunday morning, I’m up far too early (jetlag has me running on London time) but if I accomplish one thing today it’s going to be catching the season 3 premier of Game of Thrones. And what better way to re-familiarize myself with my kitchen than crafting a vegan approximation of everybody’s favorite GoT food item (the book series is bursting with detailed descriptions of food and drink) the fascinating and gloriously gnarly medieval lamprey pie.

Sadly, lamprey eels, which look a little like nature’s cosplayers of that perfect X-Files episode, are endangered in the U.K., home to a long tradition of lamprey pie. Any renewed interest in the pie may not only be illegal depending where you live, but just bad news for the slippery little guys. Either way, I’m never going to eat a lamprey, but I love making pie. So an adventure in vegan eel pie is on the menu tonight.

Chewy, adaptable seitan, sliced into thin strips, is my stand in for these beloved parasitic bloodsuckers. Ancient recipes for the pie reveal the medieval chefs’ fondness for flavoring meaty foods with sugar, wine or ale and exotic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and occasionally mustard. Rather than throw sugar into this savory pie, I opted for pairing it with naturally sweet parsnips and a long sauté of the onions to unlock their sugars. I love cooking with booze so naturally I reached for the of ale (a domestic IPA) and a touch of nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground mustard creates an aromatic, hearty pie worth getting in trouble in a castle dungeon for (something I recall reading in one of the books, maybe? It’s been a while).

Round out this meal with a shot of green: toss together fresh spinach with toasted hazelnuts, fig balsamic vinegar, a dash of olive oil, Maldon salt, and a twist of black pepper. I recall characters in the book dining on something salad-like at lavish dinners, along with olives and a certain “Dornish chickpea paste” that sounds too similar to hummus, proof that the world of Game of Thrones is totally vegan friendly.

For the crust I use my go-to favorite, the rich and flakey Olive Oil Double Crust in Vegan Pie in The Sky, made with 1 part all purpose flour and 1 part white whole wheat flour. Or use any double crust pie dough you like; a coconut oil crust would be especially decadent. I like to make potpies in a variety of different shaped oven proof dishes and bowls; the wavy edge square dish in the photos is just big enough for two, and the remaining pie stuff was baked in a deep 9 x 11 ceramic dish.

I have no idea if this tastes like genuine lamprey pie, or if these pies can rescue an endangered species (but if a few lamprey are left uneaten, it may help a bit). But when you play the game of (tasty vegan) pies, everybody wins!

Save the Lamprey Seitan & Ale Pie

Serves 4-6 made in a 10 inch round deep dish or 13 x 9 inch square plate

Crust tip: Make any pie crust recipe suitable for a 9 inch double crust, flatten the dough to about an inch thickness roughly the same shape of the baking dish(s) and sandwich between two large pieces of waxed paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a shape about 1 inch wider than the edges of the dish and chill while the filling is prepared. When ready to bake, rip off the top layer of paper and slap it directly on top of the filling in the dish. Gently shape the edges against the sides of the dish, pressing the dough to seal the edges. Use the tip of a knife to slice a few air vents through the top of the crust.

Seitan tip: If you’re making seitan, use any Veganomicon seitan recipe or the Red Seitan from Viva Vegan!. If using store-bought, slice up 2 eight-ounce packages.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe double pie crust, rolled and chilled as directed above

Filling:

  • 16 ounces seitan (purchased or homemade) sliced into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  • 3 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (sliced into half moons)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip (about 1/2 pound) peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light colored ale (about one 12 ounce bottle)
  • 2 cups richly flavored vegetable broth (I used a concentrated batch of veg Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (or kosher salt) or season to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a deep dish 10 inch pie dish or 13 x 9 rectangle baking dish. Over medium high head preheat a 12 inch stainless steel pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté seitan until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer seitan to a bowl, add 1/2 cup of the ale to the pan and simmer and stir a few minutes to release any fried bits of seitan from the bottom and the ale is reduced by half. Pour the ale (now loaded with tasty bits of fried seitan) over the seitan in the bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the onions and saute for 8 minute or until very tender and golden brown. Add the bay leaves, celery, and parsnip and fry for 4 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and stir for 2 minutes to coat everything in flour, then stir in the remaining 1 cup of ale. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes until thick and bubbling, then add the broth, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, and seitan. Stir occasionally and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes to thicken up a bit. Taste the gravy and add smoked salt and pepper as desired, then stir in the chives. Turn off the heat and discard the bay leaves.

3. Pour the filling into a baking dish(s) and cover with pie crust as directed in the tip above. Brush with a little plain almond milk and slide into the preheated over; slip a large baking sheet either underneath the pie or onto a baking rack directly beneath to catch any bubbling juices. Bake for 30 minutes; the pie is ready when the gravy is bubbling through the either the sides or the ventilation slits (told you it would bubble!). Remove and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Broken oven creates a knead for old fashioned soda bread

The oven is broken.

For someone for whom a baking session is the equivalent of a relaxing massage or a few hours of Skyrim, I’ve been a little in crisis mode the past month. Month? A whole month without a working oven! I’ve been busy and not home a lot, so repairing the poor dear has fallen to the wayside.

I wanted to present to you an updated version of my favorite twist on soda bread (just in time for March 17th) from Veganomicon, the Whole Wheat Soda Bread with Millet and Currants. It’s a rich, tender bread similar to a scone with the snappy addition of crunchy millet.

I love it. You should make it sometime.

But that’s not in the recipe cards for me. However, I’ve been told that true Irish soda bread is not baked in an oven but over an open fire or stovetop. Very well, I have a fabulous cast iron Dutch oven that I’ve used for countless versions of no-knead bread. Seems entirely feasible to craft old fashioned soda bread (with new fashioned whole grains and vegan adjustments) with a similar set-up, only setting the covered oven on top the oven instead of inside it.

But I did have my reservations: old fashioned soda bread is a lean thing indeed: no added fat, not sugar and only buttermilk (or for me, clabbered soy milk) and baking soda to make it rise. I was skeptical going in, but it made for a fascinating process…and hells bells, the bread rose and baked all the way through.

And it’s wonderful. The texture is light and springy, and a crunchy roasted crust forms on the bottom (and slightly on top after flipping) with the aroma of the currants and caraway penetrating though the golden brown crumb. It’s unlike any other quick bread I usually make, and is relatively low maintenance for a stove top treat. I adore currants (or here, affordable faux currants made from Zante grapes) and caraway seeds, but you could leave these out for a very simple loaf.

Here’s a few tips for your stovetop bread adventures:

-This is lean bread without any added fat, so the key to a tender crumb is to just barely mix the dough; over-knead it and the bread can be tough and tasteless. So be careful to stir only enough to moisten everything (some streaks of flour in the dough are fine), drop it into the floured surface and shape immediately into a ball.

-Preheating the Dutch oven is key! Using cast iron is probably the best material for making any stove top bread.

-Being generous with the flour coating. No need to grease the Dutch oven; the coating of flour and the preheated surface will prevent sticking. If you bread sticks, you haven’t preheated the pot enough and you didn’t use enough flour

-For a sweeter bread, try using sweetened milk and adding 2 tablespoons sugar along with the soy/almond milk

Broken Oven Soda Bread

Makes 1 generous loaf

  •  1 ½ cups graham flour, whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plain soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dried Zante currants or genuine dried currants
  • 1 rounded tablespoon caraway seeds

1. Cover cast iron Dutch oven with a lid and preheat over a medium-high flame for at least 15 minutes. If you have a heat diffuser plate, place that underneath the pot.

2. Sift together both flours, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup whisk together soy milk and apple cider and set aside to curdle for 2 minutes.

3.   Form a well in the flour, add the curdled soy milk, currants and caraway seeds. Stir only just enough to moisten ingredients. The dough will be slightly sticky, that’s fine…don’t be tempted to add extra flour.

4.   Generously flour a work surface and drop the dough into the flour. Gently pat the dough into a circle, then carefully flip over a few times to coat generously with flour. Pat the sides with a little additional flour.

5.   Use a shape knife to slice a deep X into the top the dough at least 5 inches long (cut deep, about 2 inches deep). Uncover the Dutch oven, lower the dough into the pot and cover. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread is about doubled in size and feels firm to the touch. Uncover the pot. Use a long handled spatula (and wearing oven mitts to protect your hands!), carefully flip over the bread and bake uncovered another 5 to 10 to minutes to lightly toast the top of the loaf.

6.   Remove the bread, transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. Wrap leftovers tightly and reheat before serving.

Kale Takes the Kake Every Time

If you’re in NYC this weekend (unfortunately I am not) please allow me to nudge you towards where the cool kids will be having all the fun at the 3rd annual deliciously exciting NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. There’s something for everybody at this vibrant, growing festival and the hardest part may be just deciding to attend either Saturday or Sunday. Or you can do it like a pro and go both days to get your fill of the diverse line-up of speakers and presentations. Nosh on the trendiest vegan delights, get a live earful from the exciting line-up of speakers and celebrate into Saturday night for me!

While I’m sad not to be in town this year, I’ve had my share of excitement these past few months post release of Vegan Eats World: collaborating on recipe development projects, trying my hand at some restaurant line work, assisting food photography shoots. I’m also fresh from a trip from northern Italy that has given me a slow-food feast of ideas that I hope to express more fully in the following months.

But for right now, there’s the matter of that strange hankering for fresh foods that happens every year for me around this time. Late winter has lengthening days and has me yearning for warmer weather, but local fresh produce is almost two months away. So I turn to the staples that have kept me going all this time: kale, potatoes, legumes and olive oil, shaping them into something new.

Here I’ve literally shaped these essential components into plump cakes, dredged them in crunchy panko crumbs and pan fried them in a little olive oil to golden browned perfection. I like to keep these rustic and scrub the skins well rather than peel the potatoes, but I’ll leave that up to you. Serve them with a spicy Indian chutney (tamarind or tomato is ideal) or a dollop of olive tapenade, with or without a crisp green salad. I adore these vegetable-full croquettes; they have the heartiness of cold weather food with a hint of longer, warmer days ahead.

Potato Kale Kakes

Serves 6 or more

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and roughly diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups roughly chopped kale, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked, drained green lentils
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • About 1 ½ cups panko crumbs for breading
  • Olive oil for frying

1. Cover the diced potatoes with at least 3 inches of cold water, bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes until tender (easily pierced with a fork). Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.

2. In a deep 12 inch skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat, add the mustard seeds and don’t stir. Once the seeds have finished popping, add the onion and garlic and fry until onion is translucent. Stir in the oregano, cayenne and chopped kale and fry for about 3 minutes or until the kale is tender and reduced in bulk by about half. Turn off heat and cool for 2 minutes.

3. Pour panko crumbs into a wide, shallow bowl or large dinner plate. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

4. Transfer kale mixture to the cooled potatoes, add the vegan mayo, pepper, lentils and salt. Thoroughly mix (I use my hands for the greatest control), making sure all the ingredients are moistened and the lentils and kale are evenly distributed. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Scoop up a generous ½ cup and shape into a patty about 1 ½ inches thick, dredge both sides in bread crumbs and set onto a clean, dry surface while you finish shaping the rest of the patties.

5. Fry patties in the preheated cast iron skillet with a little olive oil until both sides are golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve hot!

 

New year soupalution

Now that we’re into week three of the new year and the holidays are well behind us, it’s easy to stress about getting real with all those resolutions.

I don’t really care about making (or sticking to) New Years resolutions. I’m forever making changes and trying out new approaches toward getting things done in my life throughout the entire year, so piling them all on one date seems like a recipe for failure. When I’d rather just be thinking up tasty recipes. But the one palatable change after months of decadent holiday eating is “eat little healthier”. And for me, soup is always the answer, with it’s nearly endless flexibility and easy of loading up with tons of fresh veggies and legumes.

The following recipes adapted from my new book Vegan Eats World. Adapted in that I’ve streamlined a few things, because I really want you to make this rich and tangy Mediterrean-inspired soup and the delightful chickpea “parm” topping. The soup base itself is endless flexible and can be altered with the addition of any diced vegetable (zucchini, butternut squash, artichoke hearts) or bean (chickpea, kidney, navy) or any combination of fresh or dried herbs.

The parm topping is inspired from a perhaps unconventional source, a traditional Ethiopian dish that uses a toasted chickpea flour batter to mimic fluffy scrambled eggs that I played with during the writing of VEW. This tangier, finely crumbled version of bu’techa resembles fat crumbles of freshly grated parmesan cheese, that unlike popular nut-based parm, the crumbles dissolve upon contact with hot broth, creating a velvety tangy layer on top of any soup.

The chickpea topping is also excellent on top of red sauced pasta or tossed into any pasta dish, so the resolution to choose better everyday meals like soup can be all the more savory. Here’s to a tasty and healthy 2013!

White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigianino

Serves 6

  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • One 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans or any white bean
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling (optional)
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves or finely chopped escarole (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Few twists of freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 recipe Chickpea Parmigianino Topping

1. Pour the farro into a metal mesh sieve and rinse. In a 4-quart soup pot, preheat the olive oil over medium heat, stir in the garlic, and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and fry for 5 minutes or until onion is tender and translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, salt and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable broth, beans, and farro. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the farro grains are plump and tender. Occasionally uncover and stir the soup.

2. When the farro is tender, if using spinach or escarole stir into the soup and simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with pepper and salt to taste. Partially cover the soup and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

3. Ladle soup into large deep serving bowls. Sprinkle top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Chickpea Parmigianino.

 

Chickpea Parmigianino Topping

Makes about 1 1/2 cups topping

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Over medium heat in a small saucepan preheat the olive oil, then pour in the chickpea flour. Use a rubber spatula to mash the flour into the oil and stir constantly to toast the flour for about 2 minutes. The flour should turn a darker shade of yellow and look slightly damp.

2. In a measuring cup whisk together the lemon juice, water, and salt. Pour into the flour; it will sizzle and splatter a little. Stir constantly until a firm ball of dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the dough onto a dinner plate. Use the spatula or your fingers (once the dough cools slightly) to press and smear the dough into a thin layer over the surface of the plate. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.

3. Once the dough feels completely cool, remove from the refrigerator and drag a large fork through the dough. Continue to press the fork through it while also stirring and fluffing up the crumbs. The more you work the dough with the fork, the finer the crumbs will be. Continue for 3 to 5 minutes until it’s very fine and crumbly. Use the crumbs now, or pour into a container and chill another 20 minutes for firmer texture.

4. For best results, sprinkle crumbs generously over hot soup or pasta just before serving. The crumbs will dissolve on hot, moist food. To keep crumbs fluffy, use a fork to fluff up before serving.