Monthly Archives: March 2010

On the Daiya Bandwagon (with Pizza)

Seemed like every vegan out there on the web had tried Daiya vegan cheese except me. Well no more! I nearly jumped out of my Calvins when I saw that my local Whole Foods Market had begun to carry pint-sized plastic containers of the seemingly mythical substance. At $8.99 per pound, I got around 2 packed cups of the shredded Italian blend for $4.58 and a little less shredded Cheddar-style for $3.15.

daiya olive-mushroom pizza_6

Thus a dinner of two pizzas was born, using a quick and tasty pizza dough recipe from Yeah, That “Vegan” Shit. Throw this together just 15 minutes before you want to bake a pizza, and you’re good to go.

daiya 2-cheese pizza_4

daiya olive-mushroom pizza_2

While possessing a “vegan cheese” texture when unmelted, Daiya is wonderfully full of flavor and can usurp its dairy counterpart in any traditional recipe requiring melted cheese. It makes lovely pizzas, quesadillas, and cheese sauces that my dairy-eating family went for with enthusiasm. But you can just selfishly snack on it straight from the package if you’re only human. This is currently my favorite of all vegan cheese products I have tried.

The price seemed a little steep to me, but after tasting it I don’t believe I will hesitate to buy more.


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Vegan Chocolate Reviewer: República del Cacao Dark Chocolate: Manabí Province

republica del cacao manabi bar_14

Product: República del Cacao Dark Chocolate: Manabí Province
Price: $2.79 for 1.76 oz at Whole Foods
Type of chocolate: 75% cacao from Manabí Province of Ecuador
My notes: Slightly fruity aroma. Hard snap, but so smooth and melt-able in mouth. Taste is sweet and fairly fruity, not at all bitter.
Overall rating (out of five stars): ****

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Have a whole bar for each person if you’re sharing this chocolate, or you will be left wanting more.

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This is a chocolate to daydream about. You daydream about chocolate too, right?

republica del cacao manabi bar_18

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Lasagne Verdi con Pinoli

Green lasagne of spinach pasta, basil pesto, and zucchini with a pine nut béchamel.

lasagne verdi after baking 2

Notes: I squandered my afternoon making the lasagne from scratch, but it would be more fit for a weeknight dinner by using about 3/4 cup pre-made pesto and dry lasagne noodles (which will take longer to boil). Throw the tofu ricotta together the night before. And the zucchini slices don’t even need to be salted and washed—I just seem to have rotten luck with getting bitter zucchinis, and I wanted them to be perfect. I used a mandoline to get quick even slices. Lastly, the lasagne strata are greatly open to improvisation: I left zucchini on top peeking through green noodle strands, but the spinach pasta recipe makes enough for a third noodle layer over another layer of vegetables, tomato sauce, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Be an architect: build your meals.

lasagne verdi before baking 2

Lasagne Verdi con Pinoli

Makes 12 servings (about one 3″x4″ piece each)

Spinach Lasagne Noodles

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp puréed spinach

Tofu Ricotta

14 oz drained firm tofu, patted dry
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Basil Pesto

2 cups basil, packed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Pine Nut Béchamel

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 1/2 cups soymilk
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup flour
1/2 medium white onion
several slices lemon peel
bay leaf
2 cloves
white pepper

2 lbs zucchini (about 5 medium), sliced into thin rounds

extra pine nuts, for topping

1. For spinach lasagne: Mix semolina and all-purpose flours in a medium bowl. Mix water and puréed spinach separately, then add to flours. Work flour into liquid until dough can form a soft green ball. Cover (as with a damp towel) and let sit for 30 minutes. Divide dough into three portions; work with one portion at a time while keeping remainders covered. Flatten dough somewhat into a rectangle and pass through a pasta roller several times until thin and elastic, folding in half each time and gradually rolling to about half the final desired thickness (pasta will plump when boiled). Repeat with remaining dough and cut into rectangular sheets to fit a 9″x13″ pan. Noodles can be sticky; allow to dry on cooling rack (or draped over chopsticks or long utensil handles held up by tall pots). Cook noodles just several pieces at a time, gently lowering into a generous amount of well-salted boiling water, for 3 minutes. Remove from water (gently) and dry on cooling rack.

spinach lasagna sheets_1

2. For tofu ricotta: Crumble tofu with hands and toss with lemon juice and salt. Keep refrigerated until needed.

3. For basil pesto: Process all ingredients in blender (or pound in mortar with pestle, adding basil a cup at a time) until a smooth sauce is formed. Store in refrigerator.

4. For pine nut béchamel: Blend pine nuts, soymilk, and white wine until smooth and cream-like. Melt margarine in a medium saucepan over low heat, then whisk in flour to form a smooth paste. Heat and stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in pine nut cream about a cup at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Add onion, lemon peel, bay leaf, and cloves, and raise heat slightly to bring sauce to a simmer. Simmer at least 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove onion, lemon peel, bay leaf, and cloves, then season to taste with plenty of salt and a pinch of white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

5. To prepare zucchini slices (optional): Toss slices with a generous amount of salt (at least 1/4 cup); set in a layer between paper towels to drain for at least an hour. Rinse off zucchini well, so that slices no longer taste salty. Pat dry with paper towels.

zucchini slices

6. Assembling the lasagne: Lightly grease the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking pan with olive oil. Lay down a flat layer of spinach pasta, followed by about 2/3 of the zucchini slices, then the tofu ricotta. Top with another layer of pasta, spread with pesto sauce, and pour béchamel all over. Top with remaining zucchini, slices of left-over pasta, and extra pine nuts. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 25 minutes, then place under broiler for extra 3-4 minutes to crisp top and toast pine nuts.

lasagne verdi

It was my St. Patrick’s Day dinner, but I couldn’t help but add some jarred red marinara to the plates—pretty.

lasagne verdi with marinara

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Spring Green

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To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the advent of spring, or just the natural vibrant verdure of fresh foods, here are a few emerald-hued recipes:

  • Kiwi Sorbet from The Delicious Life. This is the recipe where kiwis really come into their own. I was smitten with this sorbet as the first bit of frozen goodness melted on my tongue—so good, and so beautifully green.
  • Creamy Herb Dressing from Food & Wine made with plenty of fresh green herbs, plus two tablespoons of expeller-pressed grapeseed oil. You can make it as the recipe is, oil-free and fat-free, but I like the tastiness and pretty greenness the oil adds.
  • Honeydew Sherbet, pictured at top. Make a simple syrup by stirring 3/4 cup sugar with 1 cup water and heating until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool, then blend with 2 cups honeydew melon, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2 Tbsp coconut milk, and ¼ tsp salt. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Spicy Chickpea Purée from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Serve with chilled cucumbers and a sauce of blended jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice for a tasty sandwich filling.
  • Green Frosting from Bittersweet. Cookies and cakes topped with this avocado frosting become green, sweet, delicious desserts to lure all the little leprechauns to your kitchen.

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Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil

olive oil lemon curd tart

One of four tiny lemon tarts baked this weekend using a recipe from Gourmet. I omitted the eggs and added 5 Tbsp glutinous rice flour to the curd mixture. Butter was replaced by Earth Balance margarine, and I used an Italian extra virgin olive oil.

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Rich fruity oil and tart lemon, creamy gooey curd and crisp crust—this recipe is a beautiful indulgence. I baked four smaller rather than one larger tart, and topped each with a quarter lemon slice to mimic the ones I used to get from a local bakery as a child.

These were far better. They would be perfectly elegant enough for a fancy Easter brunch, but so easy to make just for a Friday breakfast in bed.

olive oil lemon tart 9

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