Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

This dish is courtesy of some fine fellows down at the Fallbrook Mushroom Company, who periodically drop a few (large) boxes of shiitake mushrooms off at a Bank of America down in Temecula. I get to take a load home, and experiment! Shiitake mushrooms are quite different to regular mushrooms in my mind. Although they taste fairly similar, I don’t think you can rinse them like normal mushrooms, and the stems are really chewy. In this dish, I removed the stalks, but I didn’t throw them away, as they are wonderful in veggie burgers!

This risotto is an uncomplicated, richly mushroom-y supper. A really personal pleasure.

shiitake risotto

Serves 2 well
1 tbsp margarine
8 oz of shittake mushrooms
1 tbsp margarine
1 cup arborio rice or similar short grain white rice
4 tbsp mushroom powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 pint white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
black or white truffle oil garnish

Prepare the mushrooms by wiping any dust/dirt off them with a paper towel. Remove the stems. If the mushrooms are fairly small, leave them whole, otherwise, quarter them.
Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Add the mushrooms, and fry for about 5 minutes until softened.
In a second pan, warm 2 1/2 cups of water, with the mushroom powder, salt, pepper, and wine.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan, and put to one side.
In the mushroom pan, melt the second tbsp of margarine; add the rice, and stir frequently until the rice is all coated with fat and turning translucent.
Add about 1 cup of the warmed water mixture to the rice, and stir frequently until the water is almost completely absorbed.
Keep adding the warmed water mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, and allowing each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding the next. Repeat until all the warmed water mixture has been added.
Check the rice is cooked; if necessary, add another 1/2 cup water and continue cooking.
Stir in the cooked mushrooms.
Serve with optional (and highly recommended) black or white truffle in olive oil garnish.

Mushroom Pate

Daughter #2 loves mushrooms. She also likes a bit of variation in her school lunches, so I have introduced this recipe to her repertoire. Mushroom pate is pretty quick to make, and squishes down nicely in sandwiches. It’s a lightly peppery, distinctly mushroom-y affair, good enough to serve to guests, but not to those who don’t like mushrooms.

Pate on toast

Vegetarian, mushroom pate, here served on teff toast.

1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 large (or 1/2 a medium) onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
5oz firm tofu
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp mushroom powder
1 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Sauté the onion in the margarine for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and thyme, and sprinkle with the 1/4 tsp salt to draw out their water. Once the onions are cooked, and the mushrooms are softened, add the garlic to warm through.

Put all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until a rough paste has been attained.

Return the pate to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes to drive off excess moisture, stirring frequently.

Check for seasoning, press into serving bowls, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

(Nearly) Instant Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Sauce

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Rich Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Sauce with GF Pasta

This pasta sauce is rich with a very pronounced taste of tomatoes. It’s one of those instantly ready ones that can be made in advance, but is still good enough for entertaining, along with a light, green salad of some description.

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup fresh or chopped tinned tomatoes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
4 large fresh basil leaves
extra basil and diced tomato for garnish

Blend everything together with 6 fl oz (3/4 cup) water until completely smooth.
Stir into cooked pasta. This amount is sufficient for 1 lb of dry GF pasta.

Crumbly, Tangy, Dairy Free Feta

Moist and tangy, this faux feta is very quick to make, and strongly flavored like the dairy cheese. I like it best on crackers and tortilla chips, though in a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes is good, too.

The rationale behind this recipe is to simmer the tofu in liquid for at least 5 minutes, so that its texture firms up and the harsher vinegar notes are driven off, and to infuse the tofu with the flavorings in the process. It then needs to cool (and continue drying) to firm up.

My miso is a bit lumpy so I quickly blend it with the other ingredients to make a homogenous liquid before adding to the tofu, but if yours is smooth already, you can just whisk the flavoring ingredients together.

The miso I use has a light color, and a rich winey flavor. It isn’t particularly salty, so you may need to adjust the recipe to suit your miso.

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This quantity makes 1 – 2 servings of Feta. If you have cause to increase the batch size, make sure to use a large frying pan so the juices have plenty of room to evaporate.

1 tbsp chickpea or other light colored miso
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1/3 packet tofu

DSC_0001Blend the miso, salt, vinegar, and nutritional yeast together with 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) of water.

Heat the margarine in a small frying pan, then roughly mash the tofu with the back of a fork into the margarine.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, and simmer until the water evaporates and the tofu starts to sizzle in the fat. Drying FetaAvoid breaking up the tofu lumps too much.

Fry for a couple of minutes to drive off any excess water, stirring continuously, then turn off the heat.

Scoop all together to form a block, and leave in the pan to cool and solidify. (~1/2 hour) Pack into a small container and store in the fridge as necessary.

Dairy Free Iced Chocolate Coffee Drink

The temperatures are up in the 90s (F), again today. Yesterday it was even hotter, and the girls were desperate for something cool when they got home from school. This is a drink for when you’re sitting in the sunshine watching the world go by, or just sitting with your feet in a pool of cold water trying to get cool, and facing the idea of homework. Icy refreshing, coffee with a hint of chocolate. Something to make you feel that the world is actually a good place to be.

chocolate coffee frozen drink

Serves 1
1 cup (8 fl. oz) sweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz) ice

Blend everything together in a blender until smooth (~30 seconds), and serve immediately.

 

Cashew Mozzarella

Mild in flavor and close textured, this browns nicely in the oven, and tastes great with basil and fresh tomatoes in an almond bread sandwich.

You’ll note that I’ve used both xanthan gum and tapioca starch in this recipe. The xanthan gum is used to make it stiff, and the tapioca gives it a bit of wobble and that knife-clinginess that fresh mozzarella has. This recipe went though a fair number of revisions to get to this stage. I’ve had the taste pretty much where I wanted it for a while, but the texture hasn’t been right. The last two versions, however, have been very interesting! This current version with 3 tsps of agar, makes a sliceable cheese, somewhat softer than the partially dried stuff that comes in plastic wrap, but more manageable than fresh mozzarella. 2 tsps of agar makes something more akin to fresh mozzarella which sticks to the fingers a bit in a lick-able sort of fashion.

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1/2 cup raw cashews
3 tsps agar powder (use 2 tsps for fresh mozzarella, 3 for sliceable)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chickpea miso
2 tsp nutritional yeast

Soak the cashews in water for at least 1 hour. (Not needed if you have a high speed blender.)

Put the agar in a medium size saucepan along with 1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz) of water, and bring slowly to a simmer over a medium high heat, stirring frequently, to dissolve the agar.

While the agar is dissolving, put the drained nuts, salt, starch, vinegar, lemon juice, miso, and yeast into a blender, along with 1/2 a cup (4 fl oz) of water, and blend until smooth.
molten mozzarella

Once the agar has come up to the boil and thickened, add the smooth contents of the blender, and stir vigorously until combined.

Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring or whisking to prevent sticking, and cook for about 2 minutes until the starch has cooked and thickened.

Lightly oil a 1 pint container, scrape the hot cheese into it, and refrigerate until cold and firm (~2 hours), or drizzle straight over your pizza which is waiting to go into the oven.

Breakfast Casserole

Ah, comfort food. This is perfect breakfast food after a busy night. You can make it the day before, and feed 4 people with very little effort (and possibly a little toast) the next morning. It is warming and satisfying, but not at all heavy.

I designed this with sliced red potatoes (grated ones cooked to a mush), and with the tofu on top so it can bake and dry slightly. Don’t miss out on the lemon / lime juice that’s added to both the onion/pepper mix and the tofu; it gives an interesting zing, lifting the flavor and reducing the amount of salt required. The general consensus of opinion was that the vegan cheese was a good addition, too, and needed to be all over the surface, albeit in a thin layer. I baked it until both the cheese and the tofu were starting to brown.

 

2 tsp oil
1/4 large onion, cut into long strips
8 oz bell pepper flesh, diced or sliced
1/4 tsp lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 lbs red (waxy) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup cashew flour
14 oz firm tofu, drained
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
light dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon/lime juice

6 baby tomatoes, for garnish
2 oz faux cheese, for garnish
Optionally serve with Ranchero sauce and toast.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and cook the onion and peppers over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, and the onions are starting to brown (~10 mins).

Line a 10 x 8″ casserole dish with parchment paper or  grease. Peel and finely slice the potatoes into the casserole dish, and toss with the 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Distribute evenly over the bottom of the casserole.

Sprinkle 1/4 lemon or lime juice and 1/8 tsp of salt over the onions and peppers, stir, then spread evenly over the potato.

Combine the remaining ingredients (except garnish), together in a large mixing bowl, and mash thoroughly with a pastry wire (or the back of a sturdy fork) until no large lumps remain, or pulse in a food processor, but do not puree.

Spread evenly over the onion and pepper layer.

Press the tomato and cheese garnish into the top of the tofu layer.

Bake in the middle of the oven, at 400F for 30-35 minutes.

Check the potatoes are completely cooked by sticking a fork into the middle of the dish, if still not soft, cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm rather than hot, optionally with Ranchero Sauce and almond bread.