Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A New Go-To Salad Plan

This isn't a recipe but rather a set of instructions for building a dynamite "base" for salad. The finished dish will look (and taste) differently on every table, dependent entirely upon your creativity and the veggies available. First, start with 1 small-medium red onion. Slice thickly. You'll want around one cup total. Now pit and tear apart into halves 3/4 cup Kalamata olives. Add both to to a large mixing bowl.

Add to the bowl and mix with onions and olives: 3 T. olive oil, 1 T. balsamic vinegar, 1 t. apple cider vinegar and chopped red or green chilies to taste. Whisk together before adding the primary salad components.  Finish by seasoning further with salt and black pepper.

Option One
Add to the above salad base: 3 cups lightly steamed broccoli florets, 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley (very roughly chopped), 1-2 sliced roasted red bell peppers

Option Two
2 cups thickly sliced cucumber, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and chopped romaine lettuce

Option Three
1/2 lb. lightly steamed green beans (left whole but ends trimmed), 2 cups very roughly chopped cilantro, 1 avocado (sliced thinly or cubed) and toasted pumpkin seeds

Option Four
Whatever you want. Whatever you have.

The Best Bean Burger for Your Freezer

Our Pinto Bean BBQ Burger, thawed and warmed in the microwave, rests atop a skillet-toasted gordito (thick corn tortillas found at Latin markets). Vegan Jack cheese, sauteed peppers and onions and snipped micro-greens grown in the kitchen window add extra panache.

This super simple meal is completed with another warmed gordito, roasted sweet potato wedges, salad, cranberry chutney and a pickled jalapeno.
A freezer stocked with homemade veggie burgers isn't just a good idea; it's almost a necessity for fast, high-protein weeknight meals. At Cafe Drake HRV right now we have Black Bean and Wild Rice Burgers, Sunflower Millet Burgers (grab recipe HERE from the 2011 Cafe Drake archives) and the Pinto Bean BBQ patties featured here all frozen in zip-lock bags, ready at a moment's notice when the mood strikes. For optimal texture frozen burgers should be thawed overnight in the fridge, but they can also be cooked directly from the freezer in a microwave or lightly oiled skillet.

This recipe from Terry Hope Romero's Protein Ninja cookbook is a current favorite because it's chewy and hefty and boasts the universally loved flavors of BBQ sauce.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Very Easy, Very Vegan Dinners: Sweet Potato Nachos

Garden Salad and naked Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

And now . . . Roasted Sweet Potato Nachos! Don't worry, the sweet potatoes are under there somewhere.

 Because now more than ever we need Comfort Food . . .

It's been a long day. You really just want to drink your dinner. Or maybe get immediately prone with Lifetime Movie Network. Or just go to bed without eating. Don't do it. You deserve a healthy and soul-satisfying dinner, one that nourishes and fulfills those indulgent cravings.

It's Cafe Drake HRV and our Sweet Potato Nachos to the rescue. You're gonna love these so trust us, add any ingredients you don't have to your next shopping list. Opening the door to a carefully-stocked pantry and fridge is key to making fast, easy meals a real possibility.

More a suggestion than an actual recipe, here's how to do it: Clean but do not peel 2-3 medium size sweet potatoes. Slice each sweet potato into 8 wedges. If some are much larger than others, slice horizontally. You want all of the wedges to be as close as possible to the same size. Toss very well with 2 T. olive, vegetable or coconut oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper and chipotle or ancho chile powder. Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, using two if needed. Roast for 15 minutes in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven. Flip the wedges and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until browned and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, simmer 1-2 cups of pre-made vegetarian chili for about 5 minutes. Since ease is our goal tonight, you can also microwave the chili until piping hot; a good quality canned chili is fine here. (Our favorite brands are Health Valley and Fantastic Foods and we always grab one without kidney beans. Another stand-by here is a cache of zip-lock bags of homemade chili in the freezer.)

When the sweet potatoes are roasted, transfer to a platter or individual plates and immediately top with the hot chili. Drizzle vegan or dairy sour cream or plain yogurt over all and then festoon freely with sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped cilantro and diced red onions. Sprinkle your favorite hot sauce over all and sit down and enjoy your guilt-less guilty pleasure.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ramen, the Real Deal

(above two photos) For dinner at Cafe Drake HRV our ramen bowl included broiled tofu, red chilies, chives and sorrel from the garden and pickled mushrooms.

A less spicy lunch the following day was reheated ramen and broth with the addition of stir-fried bok choy minus the chilies.

In case you didn't already know, the success of any ramen bowl is dependent upon the flavorful broth that plays the starring role. In Japan traditional broths would be made from pork; the lengthy process involves roasting bones and fatty cuts of meat along with aromatic veggies. You can create complex and earthy flavors however from a vegetarian broth based around mushrooms and umami-enhancing kombu seaweed. So let's begin there.

In a large pot bring to a boil 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, a three-inch piece of kombu seaweed and a handful of dried shitake mushrooms. Kombu is a dried seaweed available at all Asian markets and natural foods stores, valued for boosting the flavor of many broth-based Japanese dishes, but you can leave it out if you wish. Once the broth is boiling, reduce heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside for an hour or two and allow the mushrooms and kombu (if using) to infuse the stock.

With a slotted spoon remove and discard the kombu. Remove as well the mushrooms. Chop finely the soft bits, tossing away the tough, woody stems. (They've done their job of enriching the broth by now.) Place the chopped reserved mushrooms in a blender with 1 cup of the broth and puree until silky smooth. Return the puree to the stock pot along with 1 thinly sliced onion, 1-2 T. grated ginger and 3-4 T. tamari or soy sauce. Simmer over a low flame for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Now stir in 1 heaping T. of white miso paste, mixing well to dissolve.

The recipe pretty much ends here. As we said earlier, it's AATB, or All About The Broth. How you complete the ramen bowl is a wide universe of opportunity. Let your creativity and on-hand ingredients dictate the final result. Every bowl will be different we predict. Basically, assembly involves: 
1) heating or re-heating the ramen broth and lading about 2 cups each into wide or deep bowls 
2) placing cooked ramen noodles, prepared according to package directions, in each bowl (Allow around 3-4 oz. dried ramen noodles per serving.)
3) adding toppings of choice. 

Tried and true garnishes might include slivered scallions, minced chives, a dollop of horseradish or Chinese mustard, shredded shiso leaves, diced radishes or toasted sesame seeds.

Leftover noodles and broth should be stores separately in the refrigerator. Rub any cooked noodles with a drop of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Note: If you'd like to crown your own ramen bowl with broiled tofu, as seen above, scoop our recipe from the Cafe Drake HRV archives RIGHT HERE.