Saturday, February 18, 2017

Red Pepper Tomato Soup*

                                                                             photo GCB Press all rights reserved
Peppers are indigenous to the new world, fossilized remains in Peru indicate that peppers existed as early as1200 BC, and were cultivated in Central and South America in prehistoric times. Columbus brought them to Europe in 1493, and they were quickly adopted and cultivated as decorative additions to floral presentations.** 

Europeans gave peppers their modern name when it was discovered that the fruit of the plant was edible and tasted like the black and white ground condiment used at their tables, pepper.

Today the confusion remains and the argument over whether peppers are fruit or vegetable depends on largely on whom you ask, a gardener or a cook.

(1825-1905) "Soup" (1865)     
This recipe marries red peppers with tomato, another case of dual identities combined in a tasteful union. 


1 soy bacon strip
2 teaspoons Earth Balance vegetable spread, divided
1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Splash hot pepper sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream [vegan alternative: to 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk add 1 teaspoon Sour Supreme, mix      thoroughly]
1/4 teaspoon salt or preferred, Himalayan Pink Salt


        1 To a skillet add 1 teaspoon vegetable spread and cook soy bacon  until crisp. Remove, set aside. To the drippings, add the red pepper, onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, hot pepper sauce and cayenne until well blended. Add 1/4 cup broth. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender; set aside.

    2 In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt remaining vegetable spread. Stir in flour; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Gradually add remaining broth; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; reduce heat to low.

3 Gradually stir in cream and salt. Add puree; heat through. Crumble soy bacon over top. Garnish with vegan sour cream, chives and red pepper if desired. 

Serves 2

*Originally published as Pretty Pepper Soup in  Reminisce Extra August 1998, revised by HCAYK to be vegetarian

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

No-Bake Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake

                                          photo Green Cutting Board Press, all rights reserved

Cheesecake, a popular if admittedly decadent dessert [we'll get to that later] has its origins far from the currently accepted "baked or unbaked" traditions. History grants the ancient Greeks credit for divining this food of the gods — by the Greek physician Aegimus, who wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes (πλακουντοποιικόν σύγγραμμα—plakountopoiikon suggramma)…We know this as written in the oldest known surviving work of Latin prose the De Agri Cultura [On Agriculture,160 BC] by Cato the Elder

If cheesecake really is the food of the gods this no-bake conception must be their supreme accomplishment; and just as a whim we transformed it to a vegan version — not so decadently fat…apologies to Aegimus, Cato the Elder, deli bakers and supreme beings everywhere.
2 1/3 ounces (about 2/3 cup) graham cracker crumbs 
2  tablespoons Earth Balance, melted 


1/2 container (4 ounces) Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, at room temperature 
1/4 cup Agave Powder 
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/4 cup vegan chocolate, recipe by our favorite vegan baker, The Minimalist Baker
3-4 medium strawberries - sliced

  1. For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted vegan spread together in a small bowl until the mixture looks like damp sand. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of 2 Crème Brulée Ramekins
  2. For the filling, in a small bowl whisk the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat again for a minute or so until combined. Add the sour cream, vanilla and mix. 
  3. Add the melted chocolate (make sure it is room temperature), whip for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and light. 
  4. Divide the cheesecake filling evenly between the 2 ramekins, cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set. 
  5. Top with sliced fresh strawberries and savor 

Serves 2

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chorizo Mushroom Stuffed Red Pepper


Bell Peppers when fully ripened turn a deep, glossy red and are sweeter than their green cousins. Bell peppers are also the only peppers that produce no capsaicin, the chemical that causes irritation [heat] when in contact with our taste buds. A traditional recipe in Spain using piquillo pepper which are smaller than bell but of the same variation are stuffed with a variety of ingredients including meat, seafood, or cheese, and served as tapas; in Mexico called Chile rellenó, literally "stuffed pepper," or in middle eastern, Turkey, Greek cuisine called Dolma, a tradition of stuffed vegetables.

In this recipe the enhanced sweetness of red bell peppers adds an unexpected flavor note to the heat of the chorizo and the savory middle eastern blend of quinoa, onion, garlic and olive.

Pair these stuffed peppers with the rich, umami taste of this easy vegan Yorkshire Pudding and you experience the meeting of 2 worlds: the Old British Empire and the even older Ottoman Empire. That encounter produced a rich blended cuisine of northern European and middle eastern fare stirred, mixed and blended for four centuries until the end of the nineteenth century.

 photo: The Green Cutting Board Press, all rights reserved

Red Bell Peppers
  • 1/3 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced button mushroom
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • 1/3 cup diced green olives
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas [garbanzo beans]
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa 
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons vegetarian chorizo
  • 3 ounces queso fresco
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon no beef bullion base
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  1. Set a soup pot of water to boil.
  2. Cut the top of red peppers and remove the seed and veins. Place the peppers bottom down in the hot eater with their lids, cover and cook 10 minutes
  3. Brown tablespoon Earth Balance in a medium hot pan. Add first 4 ingredients and sauté 2 minutes
  4. Add water, chickpeas, quinoa, water and bouillon paste, cumin. Cover and cook medium for 10 minutes or until water is nearly absorbed.
  5. Remove peppers from water, drain and allow to cool
  6. Preheat oven to 365℉
  7. Fill the peppers with chorizo mushroom stuffing. Top with queso fresco and pepper lids. Place in an oven ready pan.
  8. Continue baking for 30 minutes
Serves 2 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Spaghetti con Salsa di Fragole, Pomodoro

Spaghetti con Salsa di Fragole, Pomodoro
Spaghetti With Strawberry-Tomate

No one can say for certain but it now appears likely that all Italy owes it’s gastronomic identity to a group of so called new world Indios known as the Aztec; it seems the humble tomato, like its earth sleeping cousin the potato, are but two of the edible gifts the “old world” received from the Americas.

The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word "tomate," from which, according to Wiki, the English word tomato originates.

The arrival of tomatoes in Italy dates to 1548 when the steward of Cosimo de' Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, wrote to the Medici private secretary informing him that the basket of tomatoes sent from the grand duke's Florentine estate at Torre del Gallo "had arrived safely.”

Hitherto tomate, a member of the poisonous nightshade family were appreciated only for their decorative attributes: shiny, red and luxuriant garden ornaments for the holiday table.

It was not until the 18th century that the tomato was added to the book of condiments as fruit or in the Italian lexicon, “pomo d'oro “ or “apple of gold," indeed the fruit of the tomato vine is classified as just that, fruit, not vegetable and so it is, with this admittedly heuristic leap of faith we gently present:

                                                      photo GCB Press, all rights reserved

A Romantic Vegan Valentine Dinner for Two

Considering that the tomato is a fruit, the addition of strawberries isn’t that strange in this sauce. The sauce should be quite spicy, which tempers the berries’ sweetness.


  2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch Kosher salt
1/2 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) strawberries, hulled, quartered
1 teaspoon agave 
12 oz. spaghetti [full bodied pasta works better than the thinner strands]
  1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh vegan ricotta* — follows
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
     Spring onion sliced


Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes, season with salt, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until tomato juices have reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. 

     Add strawberries and agave, cook, stirring often, until strawberries are soft and sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor to a coarse purée.
     Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally until al dente; drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
     Add pasta to tomato sauce along with ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
     Remove from heat, drizzle with more oil, and toss to combine. Serve pasta topped with onion, ricotta, and black pepper.

      SERVINGS: 2

Vegan Ricotta*

       •      2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, then drained
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup plain soy milk
1/2 tbsp agave
1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste

1 Add soaked cashews, garlic, lemon juice, soy milk, agave, oil, to      your food processor.
2 Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. If your ricotta is too dry, add more soy milk.
3 Season with salt & pepper, to taste 

Monday, September 21, 2015



                                                photo GBC all rights reserved

Maafe (var. mafémaffémaffesauce d'arachide (French), tigadèguèna or tigadenena (Bamana; literally 'peanut butter sauce'), or groundnut stew, is a stew or sauce (depending on water content) common to much of West Africa. It originates from the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali.[1]Variants of the dish appear in the cuisine of nations throughout West Africa 

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small Chopped whole tomato
1 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned chick peas - drained
1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter [smooth]
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 healthy tsp cumin
Hot sauce [to taste]
1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 scallion thinly sliced for garnish [white end only] 


  1. In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the red onion, ginger, garlic and chick peas. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Using a submersible blender, blend until smooth.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, chopped tomato and tomato paste, then transfer 1 cup of the hot stock to the bowl.  
  3. Pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. The soup should be thick and creamy. Season the soup with cumin and hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.

Monday, May 30, 2011


"A good gumbo does for the soul what a pretty woman does for the heart, if it’s that good, its gotta be bad." unknown

There are as many theories about the origins of gumbo as there are recipes but one thing is certain, whether its Cajun or Creole, spicy or not, vegetarian (z’herbes) or venison fish or fowl gumbo is king and the crown belongs to America for gumbo is truly an American Classic as elegant and robust as it is delicate and home spun.

Gumbo Filé is a thinner, darker gumbo than its country cousin Okra Gumbo and the difference may be a clue to the origin and ultimate evolution of this iconic one pot meal.

The word gumbo, likely a variation on the Bantu word for okra (kingombo), would have described the natural thickening okra imparts to any dish. Okra, common in Africa, was not native in the Americas so early settlers learning from local peoples used the sassafras tree, found only in North America and Asia to thicken their stews. The powdered leaf or filé is added after cooking and gives Gumbo Filé its slightly “stringy” texture.

As successive waves of French Canadians, French, Spanish, West Indians and Africans merged along the deltas of Louisiana their rich blend of heritage cooking became synonymous with good food, good times and good people.

Shrimp and a shellfish alternative
1 Package extra firm tofu
1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
Drain the tofu then place on a clean paper towel in the bottom of a strainer. Place a small pan on top of the tofu filling it with water to act as a weight and let stand for 30 minutes to press excess water from the tofu. Cut the tofu into wedges.
Add Old Bay Seasoning to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cut pieces of tofu reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, set aside. Reserve the seasoning water.
Add 2 Tbls of butter to a heavy skillet set over a medium high flame add the tofu pieces and sauté until lightly browned. Return seasoned boiling broth to pan and cover. Continue cooking on low for 15 minutes or until broth is evaporated. Set aside.

Browned sausage, beef cubes or chicken
Using the same heavy skillet crusty pieces and all, add sliced sausage (andouille is a favored Louisiana style sausage), pieces of lean beef or chicken cut into 1 inch cubes and sauté until lightly browned...or, this is gumbo - why not add all three.

Alternatively seafood gumbo suggests an equally rich variety of shellfish, ocean and fresh water fish combinations.
(Most grocers now carry a variety of non meat alternatives to traditional beef, sausage pork and fowl for vegetarians who want to indulge their gumbo ya-ya)

The “Trinity”
I/2 cup each of onion, celery and green bell pepper chopped coarsely, set aside.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup cold water

Again, using the same heavy skillet, crusty parts and all, heat oil over a high flame and add the flour; now you need a wooden spoon. turn the flame down to medium and stirring constantly let the mixture turn a dark chocolate brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Various shades of browning determine the flavor of the roux; the longer you cook and stir the darker the roux becomes and richer. A white to nutmeg color is great for country cooking with chicken and turkey. A darker cinnamon color works well with pork and a darker roux compliments beef dishes. The darker the color the thinner the roux will be until it’s almost a broth consistency and then with a little onion and good merlot you have a great base for French Onion Soup.

Gumbo servi style Cajun 

Now for the flavor and goodness - hence the name, add the “Trinity” mix to the bubbling roux, turn down the flame and continue cooking up to an hour.

Once the flavor is in add the browned meat and continue cooking on low heat covered for another thirty to forty-five minutes adding water if it becomes too dry.

Serve over rice with a little filé powder to season. Never add filé to the cooking pot, it will turn bitter over constant heat.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Got Key Lime Pie

Living in Florida is its own reward, sun and surf, beautiful sunsets, bikinis and, as if that weren't enough, now and then a delight for the palate. I'm speaking, of course, about Key Lime Pie that rare combination of citrus from tiny, tart Key limes and the silk-smooth, creamy richness of sweetened condensed milk.

Each year hoards of tourists arrive in Florida and devour hundreds of tons of this amazingly simple but oh so tropical dessert. The dessert is made easily, by combining a couple of cans of sweetened condensed milk with eggs and the juice of a dozen or so Key limes. Pour into a graham cracker crust and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with mounds of sweet whipped cream.

So we set about to create a traditional yet vegan Key Lime Pie

Turns out the question arises, what is sweetened condensed milk and moreover why does it exist? Useful, of course, for many desserts sweetened condensed milk doesn't seem to have any other purpose. So we did a little digging.

In 1856 Gail Borden a tinkerer and inventor submitted his patent for Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. By extracting the water from whole milk and replacing it with sugar Borden was able to preserve canned milk and thus make it portable in a world without refrigeration. Milk spoils in hours left unrefrigerated and "milk disease" in the mid 1800s was a serious public health issue. With Borden's invention mothers could now send canned milk to school with their children and city folk could count on safe milk for their meals far away from the source, the dairy farm.

Diseases and illness related to milk products are historically so prolific that whole societies have created laws to govern the consumption of milk. Kosher law strictly forbids serving milk and dairy together or even sharing food vessels and utensils for fear of cross contamination.

Lactose intolerance is considered by many as the single most widespread allergy in the world today. Many countries have banned the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH, which is used in cows to accelerate their growth, citing insufficient research concerning the impact on human consumers.

Finally, in the early 21st century milk has come under suspicion by UK researchers as a likely vector for Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) bacteria the principle causal element in Crohn's disease, the human equivalent of "Mad Cow."