Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘vegan appetizer’

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS GIVE-AWAY!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 1, 2013

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HOW THE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK WAS BORN

Many years ago I remember being bummed out when one of our kids brought a vegan friend over the house for dinner. At that time, it was a big deal because I had no idea of what to fix for them.

Now that I’ve been vegan for 24 years, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Though things have changed considerably over the years, and many people have become pretty darned savvy about what’s vegan and what’s not, there are still some big gaps and big humps for vegans to overcome.

One of the major humps still plaguing vegans is the traditional holiday dinner, when the whole family comes together for the festivities. The lone vegan in a non-vegan family may be one of the lucky ones to have a vegan-savvy family that knows just what to cook to satisfy all tastes.

For the vegan whose family cooks the Standard American dishes for those big holidays like Thanksgiving, the struggle goes on.

That’s mainly why I created the Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook, but it was for me, too. I thought it would be fun to have a whole bevvy of holiday dishes in my repertoire that I could count on year after year and not have to struggle to come up with something special for the occasion.

I figured I wasn’t the only vegan who faced the quandary of what to cook for those special holiday meals–dishes that really stand apart from stuff I cook the rest of the year.

A FEW DISHES FROM VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I also wanted to be able to share those special dishes that make the holiday dinners so divinely delicious and so very memorable. Here are a few dishes to stir your curiosity:

carrotwreath copyAlmond Thumbprint CookiesNew Year LogSanta's Favorite Panforte

There’s nothing like a tasty teaser to spark even more curiosity, so I want to share one of my favorite appetizers that appears in the Christmas section of Vegan for the Holidays. Truth is that this recipe is so versatile, it doesn’t have to wait for the holidays to arrive.

Because the ingredients are available year round, Tofu Tijuana Cocktail is a delight even in the middle of July. Actually, it’s a fabulous starter in July when avocados are in abundance and reasonably priced.

Another point of versatility is the inter-play between tofu and chestnuts. When chestnuts are in season, generally from October through December and sometimes January, they ought to be the featured item in this starter. And, if you’ve never ventured into the land of cooking and peeling chestnuts, check out the step-by-step Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts details that appeared in an earlier post Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts.

The thing about chestnuts is their ultra sweet flavor and soft and pleasing potato-like texture. Chestnuts are not like any other nut, yet they are still considered a tree nut, like walnuts or almonds. What makes them so different? For starters, they have a soft and starchy texture rather than a crunchy nature like other nuts. They are extremely low in fat–about 2% rather than the usual 50% to 80% fat in most other nuts. Chestnuts are starchier than other nuts with about 27% carbohydrates, while other nuts range in carbs from 12% to 32%.

When chestnuts are not in season, replace them with chunks of firm tofu and enjoy a delicious starter that looks elegant served in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes.

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TIJUANA TOFU COCKTAIL

Colorful and inviting, this zesty appetizer comes alive with bright colors, bold flavors, and a glamorous presentation. I created this recipe to spotlight fresh chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, this is a delicious starter. If you enjoy chestnuts as much as I do, go ahead and substitute them for the tofu and you’ll find they add a pleasant sweet balance to the savory and spicy flavors.

Yield: 6 to 8 servingsTijuana Tofu Cocktail 2copy

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced firm tofu, or chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1. Combine the canned and fresh tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.

2. To serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashioned glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime perched on the rim. Serve with spoons. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.

Posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Vegan for the Holidays, Zel's Cookbooks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TREASURED VEGAN DELIGHTS FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 28, 2012

Today’s post is from guest host Dianne Wenz, VLC, HHC, AADP, a Holistic Health Counselor, Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Plant-Based Nutrition Specialist. Dianne coaches people from across the country to help them improve their health and wellbeing, and she helps people make the dietary and lifestyle changes needed to go vegan. Dianne lives in New Jersey, where she runs the busy MeetUp group Montclair Vegans. Through the group she hosts monthly potlucks, runs charity bake sales and organizes guest speaker events. An avid cook and baker, Dianne also teaches cooking classes to local clients. She writes the weekly Meatless Monday column on the New Jersey website Hot From the Kettle and is a contributing writer on ChicVegan To explore more of Dianne’s endeavors, visit Dianne’s website and blog at Veggiegirl

Growing up I was never very fond of Thanksgiving. I wasn’t too crazy about any of the food that was served, but I felt that I needed to fake it and pretend that I liked every morsel of it. But now that I’m an adult, and a vegan, it’s become my favorite time of the year. The foods that I despised as a child are now some of my favorites. I usually invite my vegan friends over, and we have a feast fit for royalty. While the menu changes from year to year, stuffing, stuffed mushrooms and roasted Brussels sprouts are so well loved that they’ve become Thanksgiving traditions.

MUSHROOM AND SPINACH STUFFING

Ingredients:
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 lb. assorted mushrooms (like chanterelle, shIitake, and crimini), sliced
• 1 large onion, diced
• 2 to 3 cups celery stalks, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
• 8 oz. baby spinach leaves
• 10 cups 1-inch cubes day-old bread with crust
• 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 cup vegetable broth (plus more, if stuffing is too dry)

Directions:

1. Heat olive in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté until mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside in a large bowl.

2. Add onions and celery. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add all herbs and sauté 1 minute longer. Add the spinach and toss until just wilted, about 1 minute. Add vegetables to bowl with mushrooms.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until bread is crusty but not hard. Transfer to very large bowl and cool.

4. Lightly oil a 13” x 9” baking dish. Stir vegetable mixture into the bowl with the bread cubes. Add the broth, salt and pepper, tossing to combine even. Add more broth, ¼ cup at a time if the mixture seems to dry. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish.

5. Bake stuffing uncovered until cooked through and brown and crusty on top, about 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH TOASTED ALMONDS

Ingredients
• 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
• 1/8 cup olive oil
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and remove any stems and brown leaves.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the sprouts out in 9” x 13” baking dish or roasting pan
4. After 20 minutes, stir the Brussels sprouts with a spatula or large spoon to prevent burning and ensure all sides roast evenly. Add the almonds to the dish with the sprouts.
5. Continue to roast the Brussels sprouts for about 20 – 25 more minutes, until they are browned and fork tender.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Ingredients
• 12 to 16 large cremini or button mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and black pepper
• 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms stems and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring until the mixture is softened, and well combined, about 3 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and mix in the breadcrumbs. Add more olive oil if the mixture seems to try.
4. Stuff the mushroom caps with the stuffing and arrange in a greased shallow baking pan. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is hot, about 20 minutes

Posted in almonds, Appetizers, Celebrations, Guest Posts, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE PERFECT BITE FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 27, 2012

Thanksgiving guests might arrive desperately hungry and raring to eat. No worry! With Cobi Kim as your vibrant video host you’ll have the “perfect bite” ready to tame those growling tummies. Cobi’s guest post features her stunning video with all the details you’ll need to create Thanksgiving Won Tons. Visit Cobi’s Veggietorials blog where visitors can learn how to assemble her colorful vegan delights with ease.

Turn your Thanksgiving or any holiday leftovers into the perfect bite! Check out my video to see how to whip up an easy Quinoa & Cauliflower Mash that tastes like creamy mashed potatoes, but has more fiber per serving. Oven Roasted Butternut Squash gives a sweet balance to the savory fillings like Vegan Stuffing with Collard Greens. Roll it up and fry it to savor the day after Thanksgiving without eating another turkey sandwich. I dipped my hot won ton pockets of goodness in cranberry sauce for a sweet and tart twist or smother them with gravy.

THANKSGIVING WON TONS

QUINOA & CAULIFLOWER MASH

1 cup steamed or roasted cauliflower

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons vegan butter

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic

Salt to taste

Puree until almost smooth, but do not over process.

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

1 small squash, cut into small cubes

Olive oil

Salt

Nutmeg

Cinnamon

Arrange squash in an even layer on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Spray squash lightly with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Roast for 35-45 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Puree and adjust seasoning.

VEGAN STUFFING MIX– I always doctor mine up with onions, celery and water chestnuts. I added some cooked collard greens after I fluffed the stuffing.

Field Roast, Tofurky or your favorite faux meat

Wonton Pi or Mandu wrappers, Egg roll-Spring roll-Lumpia wrappers If you’re trying to keep it plant based, check the ingredients to avoid ovo/lacto. I use a local brand made without animal products.

Posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, Guest Posts, Holiday Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

CHESTNUT BUTTER RULES THE PLANET!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 4, 2011

Garlic and chestnuts might seem like an unlikely pairing, but wait ‘till you taste this awesome and easy, buttery spread. It has become so addictive I simply can’t keep my fingers out of the bowl.

Unfortunately, the little bowl of creamy, brown chestnut butter is not very photogenic so I hope you’ll take your palate on this trip instead of your eyes.

In my home, life becomes rosier when chestnuts are on the holiday menu. I can say with confidence that this savory chestnut butter has no equal. With the addition of a bit of kitchen sorcery and a whirl in the food processor, naturally sweet and starchy chestnuts become transformed into an irresistible creamy spread that stands out on any variety of bread or cracker. I love the spread as a filling for celery sticks or spread on carrot, turnip, or Persian cucumber slices.

You can take this spread in a different direction by replacing the onions, garlic, and salt with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and a smidgeon of maple syrup to create a sweet spread or filling for baked goods. You can even stuff it into dates and top with a walnut half or a slice of Spanish olive. No doubt, creative cooks will find tons of other reasons to lick this savory-sweet chestnut butter off their fingers.

The chestnut butter is a good keeper and retains its flavor for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For directions on cooking and peeling chestnuts, scroll down to the previous post and you’ll find step-by-step photos and directions. You can even skip the cooking and peeling by buying cooked and peeled chestnuts in jars or vacuum sealed packages during this holiday season.

Garlicky Chestnut Butter

Yield: 1 cup

1/3 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small sprig parsley

1. Combine the onions, garlic, olive oil, and thyme in a skillet and cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if needed to prevent burning. Add the chestnuts and cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

2. Transfer the mixture to the food processor, add the water and salt, and process until smooth and creamy. Spoon the Garlicky Chestnut Butter into an attractive serving bowl, garnish with the parsley, and provide a spreading knife.

If you love garlic, you’ll go nuts over this quick-to-assemble spread. Please do let me know if you come up with interesting ways to enjoy it, and I’ll gladly share your suggestions on this blog.– Zel

Posted in chestnuts, Nut Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CHESTNUTS ARE BACK AND SO AM I!!!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2011

The chestnut harvest is in and ready for cookin’! I’ve just placed my order and will probably be cooking and peeling a heap of the beauties when they arrive in about a week.

This year I ordered from Girolami Farms and Correia Farms but an abundance of the sweet nuts can also be found at Allen Creek Farms, Croft Chestnuts, Washington Chestnut Company, Chestnut Growers, Inc., and Delamarvelous Chestnuts. Don’t wait too long to order. Many of the farms sell out by mid November, though some will have chestnuts through January.

Honestly, I’m not getting a commission for touting the chestnut growers. I’m just very passionate about chestnuts and hope to see more people cooking and enjoying their naturally sweet flavor and delightful soft and creamy texture.

The neat thing is if you’re not inclined to cooking and peeling chestnuts, you can buy them already cooked and peeled. It doesn’t get better than that!

Today, I’m welcoming myself back to fun and utterly delicious nutty blogging. I’ve been absent for good reason. I just turned in the manuscript for my new cookbook. Yea!!!! And Whew!!!!!

While the new book will still have a banquet of nut recipes, it places the focus on killer-delicious vegan recipes for the holidays—from Thanksgiving through the New Year. During the year and especially during this coming holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of the nuttier delicacies from Gone Vegan for the Holidays, starting today.

A year ago I was puttering in the kitchen with my freshly cooked chestnuts and came up with a seductively delicious meal starter I call Tijuana Chestnut Cocktail. No, this cocktail is not a beverage like its name suggests. Instead, it was my effort to create a vegan version of shrimp cocktail—only much tastier with the addition of chestnuts that contribute more complex flavor.

It looks really elegant and is amazingly easy to assemble. The photo says it all.

Initially, I created this recipe to spotlight chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, it’s a delicious starter. For an exceptional presentation, serve the cocktail in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes. Put each glass on a dish with a doily underneath and garnish with a slice of fresh lime on the rim. Make the cocktail a day ahead, chill it, and it’s ready to serve.

TIJUANA CHESTNUT COCKTAIL

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled and chopped chestnuts, or cubed firm tofu
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine the diced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute evenly. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

2. When ready to serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashion glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime. Serve with spoons.

Posted in chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Companies, Nut Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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