Archive for the ‘Vegan Appetizers’ Category

  • Vegan Cheese Ball

    Date: 2011.12.12 | Category: Dairy free, Gluten-free, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers, vegan cheese, Vegan Holiday Treats | Response: 0

    Vegan Cheese Ball

    Here is a great appetizer everyone will enjoy around the holidays and for any party. Who knew that you could make a dairy-free cheese ball? Warning!  This ‘cheese’ ball disappears as soon as it is served so make sure to make a double batch if you have a big crowd! You get all the flavor and none of the guilt because this version has no saturated fat or cholesterol. So you can have your cheese ball and eat it too!

    Ingredients:
    1 cup blanched almonds
    1/2 cup pine nuts
    1/2 cup of firm tofu well drained
    1 Tbl nutritional yeast (optional)
    1 tsp red wine vinegar
    1 tsp vegetable oil
    2 drops of liquid smoke
    2 tsp onion powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 Tbl fresh chives

    Preparation:

    1. Place the almonds, the pine nuts and process quickly.
    2. Squeeze as much water from the tofu.
    3. Add the tofu, the olive oil, the liquid smoke, the onion powder and salt and blend.
    4. You may need to stop and mix with a spoon.
    5. Pour the mix in a bowl and fold in the chives.
    6. Make a ball and wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
    7. The next day, crunch 1 cup of walnuts into small pieces and roll the ball to cover it completely.
    8. Serve with crackers, celery sticks or bread slices.

    Notes:
    You can make a garlicky version or use fine herbs of your choice.
    Be creative and let me know how it turned out.

    Bon appetit !

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  • OLIVE TAPENADE

    Date: 2011.04.18 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers | Response: 0

    Pronounced “tah-puh-nod”, this dish, usually served as an appetizer on sliced French baguette, crackers or fresh cut vegetables, originates from the South of France. It is an olive spread, a form of caviar that captures the rich and natural essences of Provence, through the olives, the capers and the olive oil.

    In some regions, the traditional recipe includes anchovies but it isn’t needed in any way. Why add something dead when olives have plenty enough flavor on their own?

    Tapenade is traditionally made with black olives, but you can also use green ones or mix a little of both.

    INGREDIENTS

    1 cup black olives*
    1/2 cup walnut ground (optional)
    1 clove garlic
    3 Tbl capers
    2 Tsp Lemon juice
    1 tsp  dry oregano, thymes, basil

    PREPARATION

    Process all above ingredients in food processor, stopping and scraping every few seconds. Make sure not to pureed because you want some texture.  Serve as appetizer, can be added to tomato sauce over pasta, over polenta, as a spread on sandwich with tomatoes, basil etc. Will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.
    *You can use American olives, eventhough they aren’t as flavorful as French or Greek olives or use 1/2 of the large American olives and 1/2 of the more expensive ones.

    Olives are a good source in fat and sodium, so enjoy every bite. You will feel full and satisfied.

    Bon appétit!

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  • CROSTINI DI POLENTA (Polenta sticks)

    Date: 2011.03.22 | Category: RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers, Vegan Entrees | Response: 0

    Pronounced “Po-len-tah”, this native dish of Italy is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal. Unlike grits, which is corn that has been soaked and processed to remove the tough outer hull, polenta has the hull and is therefore more nutritious and less processed.

    If you are tired of rice, pasta, quinoa or other grains, you can make something really good with this simple staple. Try to buy organic cornmeal because 80% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified to be fed to cattles and other farm animals (there isn’t enough grazing land to feed 10 billion of them!) Come to think of it, it is outrageous that this ancient plant native to the Americas, that was available in so many diverse types has been reduced to a patented engineered seed that has taken over the market.  Don’t get me started on this!

    But I digress, what is nice about it, is that you can make it in all different ways. You can serve it soft like mash potatoes for a rustic meal (a little like grits). Want to impress your guests? Make thick slices, balls, patties or sticks for an appetizer. Can you see the possibilities?

    It is quite versatile, you can serve it with your favorite sauces, maybe a tomato sauce, a curry or mushroom cream sauce. In the photo, I simply pan fried it until it is golden brown and crispy and served it with a dipping sauce. You can also grill it. You can even serve it sweet for breakfast on a cold winter day. When cooked polenta takes on a smooth, creamy texture But don’t stop there, pour it into a dish, let it cool off. Then you can slice it. 

    TYPES OF POLENTA
    There are 2 kinds of polenta (cornmeal). Most stores carry the regular kind but you can sometimes also find instant polenta, which cooks much faster. I don’t mind using the regular kind, because I am in the kitchen usually preparing the sauce while it cooks. This way, it is nice, cooks over medium heat. No rush, no stress. That’s my motto and I am sticking to it!

    COOKING THE POLENTA
    Similar to other grains, you need to boil water, add salt and grain, and simmer until tender (approximately 30-45mn). The ratio for the basic recipe is 3 parts liquid to 1 part polenta. You will need to stir every 10mn to keep it from sticking or turning lumpy. If you want a softer result, add a little more water.

    Basic ingredients are:
        3 cups water
       1 tsp. salt
       1 Tb vegan butter
       1 cup cornmeal

    NOTE: For fancier versions, you can use vegetable or mushroom broth, instead of water.
    You can also add spices, herbs, chopped olives to change its flavor and appearance (you can see the herbs in the close-up photo above).
    Get creative.

    When the polenta is cooked, transfer it to a greased loaf pan.
    Let it cool off for a few hours or refrigerate, then cut the polenta into slices.
    You can either pan fry it or use an electric grill (like in the photo) and grill the sticks with very little oil for a low fat version. That’s pretty cool.
    Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
    E tutto (that’s it, in Italian!)
    Buon appetito!

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  • MINI PEPPER QUICHE

    Date: 2011.02.16 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers | Response: 2

    I found an old black and white photo of my grandmother and I when I was 4 years old. It brought back so many happy memories and especially of being in the kitchen and watch her lovingly concocting all kinds of delicious dishes.  The colors, flavors and textures varying with the seasons. I had the all important job of official taster and spoon cleaner! Someone had to do it! These were the good old days! This dish is inspired by a French classic called ”Timbale de légumes“. Originally served in small bite sizes, it is a hearty dish that is usually served with a salad. The chickpea flour replaced the egg mixture and makes this a denser and more nutritional dish, with no cholesterol and lots of protein from the garbanzo bean flour.

    It can be served all year around, right out of the oven in the winter and cold in the summer. They are great for picnics too. You can keep these babies in the fridge for a week. You can make it in all kinds of fun shapes for creative visual displays (loaves, muffins etc). Make sure to include seasonal fresh herbs for a burst of flavor in every bites. I used fresh basil leaves this time.

       INGREDIENTS:

    3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
       2 Tbl rice flour (optional)
       1 red bell pepper diced

       1 chopped tomato
    1/2 cup zucchini diced
    ½ cup bread crumbs
       1 Tbl olive oil
    1 Tbl tahini (sesame butter)
    Little water
    Fresh green onions, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

       5-6 leaves of fresh basil (optional)

    PREPARATION:

    1) Preheat the oven at 375F, lightly oil muffin tray or ceramic cups

       2) Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
       3) Add the vegetables and mix with hands.
       4) Drizzle the olive oil and the herbs over and mix with spoon.
       5) Add a little water so that the mix is moist and holds together.
       6) Spoon the mixture in ceramic cups or muffin tray cups and flatten the top.
       7) Bake for 20mn
      8) Serve hot or warm
    FUN FACTS ON GARBANZO BEAN FLOUR (a.k.a Chana):
    a) Mixed it with an equal amount of water and you have a perfect egg replacer that is gluten free.
    b) Use it to create a crisp texture to parboiled vegetables by rolling pieces before pan frying them (potatoes, zucchinis etc.)
    c) Ladies, how about a homemade exfoliant
    Mix 4 tbsp of chickpea flour, a pinch of turmeric powder (optional) with a little water until you get the consistency of a paste. Apply to your face and leave it on to dry and then wash it off. You can do this while taking a bath for a special treatment. I like to add a drop of lavender for the super treatment. If  you use essential oil be careful, mix it with a little vegetable oil first to avoid burning your skin.
    Have fun and let me know how it turned out!
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  • EGGPLANT CAVIAR

    Date: 2011.01.31 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, heart healthy foods, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers | Response: 0

    Ok, so after an extended trip to the South of the border (3 Mexican recipes in a row!), we are going over to Europe, to the South of France where I come from, for a delicious appetizer. Traditionally, this eggplant recipe is served cold in the summer but you can also serve it warm in the colder months. It calls for the big round purple ones but you can also used the long Asian ones. There are many varieties of eggplants and all are beautiful and delicious. The only thing is to make sure that they are firm and without blemishes otherwise, you will get a lot of seeds and little flesh.

    Some cool nutritional facts:

    1. Eggplants are rich in water (92%), in minerals (magnesium and zinc) and high in potassium (260 mg/100), making it a great natural diuretic.
    2. They are also rich in easily digestible fiber if steamed or baked (forget deep frying!)
    3. The skin is high in anti-oxydants.
    4. They are good for people with type 2 diabetes because they are high fiber with a low glycemic index.
    5. If you track your calories, you will be happy to know that it is one of the lowest calorie vegetable (18 kcal/100 g), making it comparable to tomatoes, endives or lettuce.
    6. More recent studies even states that it can also help lowering cholesterol. Apparently, they have discovered that eggplant captures the fat and prevent it from seeping into the blood stream. That’s why, if you try to fry it, you will have to use a ton of oil because its fibers absorb everything! So skip the frying and instead steam or bake and let the fiber absorb the internal fat!

    No wonder, it is one of the star of the Mediterranean diet!
    So why not splurge and start incorporating it in your diet?

    INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
    – 2 eggplants
    – 1 medium onion
    – 1 tomato
    – 3 Tbl olive oil
    – 3 Tbl lemon juice
    – 1 garlic clove
    – Fresh basil an parsley (optional)
    – salt & Pepper

    PREPARATION:

    1. Preheat oven to 300F
    2. Place whole eggplants on a baking dish and bake for 35mn until the flesh is soft when you touch it.
    3. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Without burning your finger, slice them in half lengthwise, and with the help of a soup spoon, scoop out the middle.
    4. Place the flesh in a thin thieve to drain the excess water (remember it is a sponge).
    5. Slice the onion and the garlic thinly.
    6. Gently heat a little olive oil and add the onion and garlic until golden. You can add a little water if needed. Note: If you can digest raw garlic, skip this step.
    7. Blanch the tomato. Boil some water, make a cross on top of the tomato. Drop it quickly and remove it so that you can easily peel it. Remove the seeds and dice it.
    8. Place the eggplant, onion, tomato and remaining ingredients, except the olive oil in a blender or a food processor and blend. Add the remaining olive oil and blend again. Taste and season more if you need.
    9. Pour into a nice dish, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
    10. Serve with crackers, on sliced french baguette and with cut raw vegetables.

    Yumm!

    BONUS RECIPE:

    If you have even less time or don’t have a food processor, you can slice the eggplants with the skin, place them in a large salad bowl.  Sprinkle with a little garlic salt and drizzle with some olive oil and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon. On a lightly oiled baking tray, sprinkle with a little garlic salt and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake at 350F for 15mn, flip the slices and drizzle a little more olive oil, bake for another 5-10mn. Serve with rice, or quinoa, or in a sandwich. It is soooo good and sooo simple!

    Enjoy!

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