Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Word About Rawcos

Raw Tacos. Rawcos. They rock. I've been indulging in a bit of word play around this latest run at raw cuisine. So many possibilities! So potentially annoying! I've been thinking of this last three day stint as Rawmageddon. Because of this, I've frequently had Def Leppard crowding out a plethora of other musicians whose songs tend to compromise my inner soundtrack. Not so bad, really. Are you getting it? Rawmageddan it! Really getting it? Rawmageddon it!

Now that that's out of the way, I can tell you about our week, which culminated nicely with raw tacos. Produce is just so much cheaper and more plentiful here in California than it was in New York that I keep being tempted back into rawness. Such a seductress! After securing C's only slightly hesitant agreement, I planned out three raw nights. The first night, I made raw pasta and marinara. The pasta was thinly cut red bell pepper, zucchini, and bok choy. The marinara is made from sun dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and some other stuff. The resulting dish was not terribly pretty--thus no picture--but quite tasty. We both enjoyed. The next night was rather more of a bust: raw egg salad. I couldn't honestly tell you how much of the failure of this dish had to do with my total disregard for measurements, or the liberties I tend to take with ingredients, or my impatience at trying to reduce cauliflower to egg salad sized bits. Probably quite a bit. The resulting "salad" was only really "salad" in the gloopy sense of that word. It was fine, but I'm not a fan. We'll have the rest of it on bread, I imagine, or using bok choy stems as vehicles. Both recipes can be found here.

All of that is a preamble, though, to what I really want to tell you about: the raw tacos. I made these once last summer during my first foray in raw food. I really liked them then, but this time they were even better. These rawcos are also evidence of my ongoing love for Ani Phyo. The following recipe is from her blog, and pretty damned close to those found in her book Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.

Baja Fresh Taco Boats Filled with with Cilantro Cashew Cheeze, Fresh Corn and Tomato Salsa, and a Ground Almond Taco Meat
(makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh, from about 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup water, as needed
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, cut off cob
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro,  chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped green chilies, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 12 small romaine leaves
  • 1 avocado, pitted, sliced
To make taco meat, process almonds into small pieces. Add oil, cumin, coriander, and salt, and process to mix well. Set aside.
To make cheeze, process garlic and salt into small pieces. Add cashews, juice, cilantro, and only enough water to process into a thick cream texture. Set aside.
To make salsa, mix ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
To assemble, fill romaine leaves with about 2 tablespoons cheeze. Sprinkle on 1 to 2 tablespoons taco meat and salsa. Top with avocado slices and serve.
 The recipe from her book uses half walnuts and half almonds for the nut meat. Also, C is deeply averse to eating raw corn (which totally sucks because it's awesome), so I used zucchini in the salsa instead. The salsa recipe I followed also called for a red pepper, and I added a bit of sweet onion. I also used whole green cabbage leaves instead of romaine for the taco shells. Believe me when I tell you they work much better. I also skipped the cheese because I haven't had much luck with it. It's also just one more thing to make, and frankly, I liked the tacos better without it.

I filled the cabbage shells with a layer of fresh field greens (from our farmbox), then topped with the nut meat, salsa, and sliced avocado. Freaking delicious. Dear reader, if you think you're not into raw food. If you fear it's gloppiness and over-dependence on ground flax. You must try these tacos. If you make no other rawcipe (see how insidious!), make these.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Bakers March Challenge

I have a fantasy that you've been waiting for this post with bated breath ever since I indicated, way back at the beginning of March, that I had joined the Daring Bakers cabal. Please don't disabuse me. For the uninitiated, I offer this brief summary of the mechanics of the thing: On the first of each month, the DBers--a shadowy and mysterious group into which unsuspecting (but hopeful) novice DBers are from time to time inducted--post a new challenge. Since this was my first challenge, I can't really say for sure whether there is any theme or consistency with these challenges, though perhaps time will reveal a code of some sort. We'll see. Dan Brown and I will keep you posted.  Get it? Dan Brown. Daring Bakers?

The challenge for this, my maiden Daring Bakers voyage, is called a Tian. What made this dessert, in effect, challenging, were the various components that you had to make in order to have participated properly. These were as follows: 1) a citrus marmelade, 2) a pate sablee, which is french for rich pastry crust, 3) a stabilized whipped cream, 4) segmented citrus fruit, and 4) a caramel topping. As a vegan, the most problematic element here should be obvious. My old nemesis: whipped cream. It's incredibly difficult to come up with a finished product that sufficiently recreates the airy fattiness of dairy whipped cream. I have posted already about my trials and tribulations as I strike out on (not exactly uncharted) territory for the perfect vegan whipped cream. I believe I mentioned, for example, that the silken tofu based whipped creams are total bullshit. They might make passable pudding and quite excellent fruit dip. But whipped cream? No way. Then again, this kind of attitude might be what C was referring to when he told me I was hypercritical. If you are a generous reader, though, perhaps you will accept my hypercriticality (having a PhD entitles me to make up words) as something I submit in service to you. Thus, perhaps you won't have to go down those disappointing paths, futilely whipping silken tofu with maple syrup, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, or anything else, only to watch it be, unmistakeably, silken tofu whipped with maple syrup, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, or anything else.

I did have some luck with the Soyatoo, however, when I made C's T-Day celebration cake. A lot of people complain about Soyatoo's aftertaste. I don't mind the beaniness, so much, but I was sort of put off by the mouthfeel of the stuff. I think maybe the high concentration of palm oil kind of ruins it, you know? Please understand, though, I'm not saying I don't like it. When I saw this challenge, though, I took it as an opportunity to surpass my (more or less) success of my previous whipped cream adventures.               

In the course of these new explorations, I discovered what I now believe is the absolute best vegan whipped cream. My days of messing around with complicated recipes, and silken tofu, and boxes of Soyatoo are at an end. Of course, this isn't exactly news. If you do a google search for coconut milk whipped cream, you'll end up with a number of hits. Most of these advocate a combination of coconut milk, powdered sugar, and soymilk powder. Because I needed to create a stabilized whipped cream for this recipe, I wanted to make sure my final product wouldn't wuss out. And frankly, most of the photos I've seen of coconut whipped cream make it look pretty wussy. It's melting all over the place, and generally puddling rather than holding up under the kind of scrutiny I expect my desserts to be able to face. (see comment about hypercriticality, above)  I decided to experiment combining my method for whipped cream with a different base substance: coconut milk instead of Soyatoo. Please keep my fussiness in mind when I tell you that I am very pleased with the result.

These photos illustrate basically the various components and construction of the tian. The classic tians are built in individual portions, and the directions indicated that we use small ring molds or cookie cutters. Of course, I have neither of these things. After a sleepless night of fretting about making the tian family sized, using a springform pan or a large loaf pan, and worrying about how to adjust the recipe measurements, I came up with the perfect idea. I would make my own ring molds. This I did with a bit of thin cardboard and some aluminum foil. I had a few minutes of trepidation that the dessert would end up sticking to the foil, but it absolutely did not. I was vindicated. My molds worked perfectly.

You build a tian upside down. At the bottom of the mold, you arrange your segmented oranges, covered with a bit of caramel. On top of that you put a layer of stabilized whipped cream. Then the pate sablee with a thick layer of marmelade. The whole thing goes in the freezer for a little while, then gets inverted onto a plate and drizzled with caramel. I liked it quite a bit, though if I had it to do over, I'd use a bit less whipped cream, and I'd play around with the citrus fruit instead of going straight orange.

I haven't gone into much detail here, but if you'd like more info about any step, let me know. I'm friendly. Kind of.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Savory Millet Pie, On Demand

I'm going to make a confession. I have a favorite grain. I suspect that professing to have a favorite grain is something akin to getting a tattoo of a pocket protector, you know? Just making things official. Most of the time, my go-to grain is organic short grain brown rice. We probably eat that more than any other. I've had some positive, but not extensive, experiences with buckwheat. I enjoy wheatberries when I can conjure the energy to make them, which is almost never. I feel a tad bit of trepidation about barley. I trace this back to a period in my life where I ate way too much mushroom barley soup. The memory of the way the barley grains were kind of overcooked and slimy skeeves me out. I feel that this is probably unfair to barley and that I owe it another shake. I really like whole oat groats for breakfast. Our friend Keith experienced the full goodness of this when he lived with us for a few months, and the last I heard he had begun to make them himself. I like quinoa, but it doesn't like me. At all. It makes me kind of feel like dying. At the risk of giving my dear readers a bit of TMI, I can only compare how I feel after eating it to having had dysentery on a trip to Mexico many years ago. This makes me sad. But millet? Millet has been my steady companion. My loyal friend. It's amazingly versatile, packed with nutrition, gluten-free, and easy to prepare. It has a lovely nutty flavor and aroma that make it suitable for any meal of the day. I've had it as a sort of breakfast porridge, in waffles, in baked goods, on its own, mixed with tomato sauce and spices as a sort of Spanish rice (except with millet, you understand).

This post is called millet on demand because it actually represents a totally original recipe generated at the behest of C. We were having an impromptu dinner brainstorming session (see pocket protector reference above), and we were both thinking about millet. I had been thinking about something cheesy and either incorporating artichokes or being a casserole sort of thing. C wondered whether it would be possible to make millet into a kind of pressed polenta. We bandied our ideas about a bit after that, decided on beans for the proteiny component of the meal, and then I took it from there. The result was very tasty, and easy! I highly recommend it for a night where you want a healthy, proteiny, low-starch meal with minimal fussiness.
I imagine that you could play around a lot with the ingredients and seasonings for this pie. The important elements involve seasoning the millet base (because otherwise it would be bland), the creaminess of the beans, and the saltiness of the olives.  I would like to try it with, for example, italian seasonings in the millet, roasted vegetables and hummus in place of the refried beans, and kalamatas. And tomatoes. You get the picture.

Savory Millet Pie

1 c millet
3 c water
1/2 t sea salt
1 vegan boullion cube
1 T oregano (Mexican oregano, if you can find it)
1 t chili powder
1 can refried beans (whatever flavor you desire)
1 small yellow or sweet onion
1/2 c grated vegan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella)
1/2 c sliced green olives (pitted, obviously)

In a medium saucepan, boil the water. Add the millet, salt, and boullion. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed, which should be about 30 minutes. If I were you, I'd start checking it after 20, though, as grains can be a little temperamental. Remove from heat, stir in the oregano and chili powder, and set aside to cool. Leave the lid off, silly. I'd give it about 15 minutes. While you're waiting, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350. Also, lightly oil a 9 inch springform pan. If you don't have a springform pan, you can use a regular pie pan. It just won't be as pretty, but maybe you're all right with that. I won't judge you.

When you return, dump the millet into the prepared springform pan and press down gently. You want it to be packed down and evenly distributed. Bake for 20 minutes. While it's baking, get your filling ready.

In a medium frying pan, cook the diced onion in a bit of olive oil until golden brown. Go ahead and caramelize them if you have the time, ability, and inclination. When they're finished, add the beans and stir to combine.

When the millet is finished baking, remove the pan from the oven. Spread the beans over the millet, and sprinkle with olives and cheese. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes. Don't get frustrated because your cheese, mostly likely, isn't melting. Here's what you do: For the last five minutes of baking, switch your oven to broil, and adjust the position of your pan as necessary. In my old oven, the broiler was in a separate compartment at the bottom of the oven. In my new one, it's actually at the very top of the oven. In any case, you can figure it out. Broil your pie for a few minutes, checking it frequently. I mean that. This is the time for vigilance. If you get lackadaisical, you could totally scorch the top of your pie, and then you'll look ridiculous. I may even come take away your pocket protector.

The pie will hold together best if you give it a few minutes to cool down and set up. If you can't wait, though, dig in. It'll still be delicious.

So, perhaps it's time for our first vegans squared reader poll. What's your favorite grain? Or, what is your preferred method of ridiculing people who have a favorite grain?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pizza Manifesta

You should make your own pizza. Seriously, you should. There are some very notable premade crusts available, of course. In particular, I'm thinking of a locally-made, cornmeal-based crust that our lovely new friend Diana introduced us to. There are also many many unnotables. Before I discovered the wonders of homemade pizza dough, I usually purchased the frozen, or semi-frozen, premade dough that you just stretch, top, and bake. Sometimes this dough doubles as just about any kind of breadly stuff you can ask for. What a can-do dough, right? But nobody likes a show-off. Also, damned mediocre.

This post, then, is devoted to encouraging you to stop buying premade crust (unless you're Diana and have your finger on the pizza pulse). Stop with the Boboli and the Rustica. Stop with the multi-purpose dough masquerading as pizza dough. Just stop. The only real downside to making your own dough is that it requires something many of us have little of: time. The answer to this is to make it on a day when you're mostly home, but doing other things. Allow about four hours from mixing to eating, though a bit more or less doesn't matter terribly. I like to mix and knead right after lunch. Then I go about my business for a few hours before punching the dough down. A few hours later, I'll have my toppings ready to go and my oven heated up. Make whoever is eating with you put together a fresh green salad and you're done. Well, mostly. C and I are total and complete condiment whores. We always have an array of salty, spicy, cheesy, etc. toppings at hand. On pizza, we like sea salt, nutritional yeast, and Franks Red Hot. Actually, we eat just about everything with some combination of those three things.  

While you're at it, why not double all of these ingredients? That way you can freeze half the dough after punching it down and half the sauce. The next time you crave pizza, you won't need four hours of your life to make it happen. My dough recipe follows. As with all other things, it's cobbled together from a bunch of different dough recipes and my own tweaks. The sauce recipe is under the entry for Portabella Pizzas, as is the recipe for Pepperoni Crumbles, which you see on the photo of my finished product.

 Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

2 1/4 t active dry yeast (you DO buy your yeast in bulk, don't you?)
1 c lukewarm water
1 T raw sugar (a bit more if you like a sweeter crust)
1/4 c olive oil
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 c unbleached white flour
1 1/2 t sea salt
a bit of cornmeal

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. As I've emphasized before in matters pertaining to yeast, make sure your water is lukewarm. If it's too hot, your yeast will die and all your doughy aspirations will come to nothing. Let the yeast mixture sit on your countertop for about 10 minutes. At that point, it should look kind of foamy, which is a sign of life. You want the foam. If no foam, let it sit a while longer. If still no foam, start over with more yeast. Of course you buy bulk yeast, so now you should either feel really guilty for killing your perfectly good yeast or you should be pissed at the store for selling you dead yeast. In either case, get some more. Or give up. Perhaps you weren't meant to make dough.

Assuming that the latter scenario has not occurred, prepare to make dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Go a bit light on the flour. I recommend saving out about 1/3 cup for kneading. The basic wisdom applies: You can always add more, but you can't take it out. Mix in the yeasty mixture and oil all at once. When you can manage it, dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Don't skimp on the kneading. Knead in the extra flour and as much as you need (knead!) to get a supple, elastic, and only slightly tacky dough. If it sticks to your hands, or the kneading surface, add a bit more flour and knead. Continue until it doesn't stick.

While you're kneading, I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to engage in a bit of relationship maintenance that will have the added bonus of making your life easier. Call your partner into the kitchen. Though he (or she) was probably doing something at the time that she (or he) thought was important, you should complain about your beleagured status as indentured dough kneader. Point to the minutes ticking slowly by on your microwave timer and ask him (or her) if he (or she) could help you for just one minute. Look a little weary, and don't worry about having your fatigued facial expression belied by your otherwise vigorous treatment of the dough. Ask her (or him) to wash the large bowl you used to mix the dough. He (or she) will then need to dry the bowl and dribble a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom. Thank him (or her) fondly, gesturing once again to the not-much-diminished time on the microwave. Say something like this: "Thank you so much, honey. I only have to knead this for another 5 minutes." He (or she) will then quickly leave the kitchen, congratulating himself (or herself) on both 1) having gotten off the hook so easily, and 2) having helped to make what seems like a very intimidating food item.

When you're finished kneading, put the dough in the prepared bowl and roll it around so that the sides are coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, or a lid, or a plate, or whatever (I abstain from plastic wrap), and put it somewhere warm for at least 2 hours. If you're busy, and that 2 hours turns into 3, don't beat yourself up. Punch it down. This is very satisfying and leaves a cool fist print in the dough. Depending on how good of a job your partner did, and how much he (or she) grumbled while helping with the bowl, you might offer this simple pleasure to him (or her). Reshape the dough and either freeze it or let it rest again, covered, for another hour or so.

When the time is up, I like to divide the dough in half and stretch it to fit over two cookie sheets. Sprinkle the sheets, or whatever pan you're using, with cornmeal. This will prevent the crust from sticking and make you happier in the long run, though I'd hate to think of anyone's happiness being contingent on cornmeal. How sad. Don't worry if you rip the dough, just ball it up and start over, or kind of patch it. Nobody will notice, or, for that matter, have shit to say about it.

Spread pizza sauce on the crust, leaving a 1 inch margin all the way around. Top with whatever you want. I like tofu ricotta, roasted garlic, sauteed vegetables--especially chard (thanks again to Diana!), mushrooms, and broccoli, caramelized onions, pepperoni crumbles, capers, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, and cheese (Daiya is absolutely, hands down, the best vegan cheese on the market. If you can't get it where you live, well, I'm sorry about that.) Bake the topped pizza in a 500 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Finally, to encourage you further, because I am the encouraging sort, I'm including a photographic journal to guide and support you on your (perhaps not so) maiden voyage into pizza making.

This is the newly kneaded dough, anxious to fulfill its potential.  

This is the same dough with a very inflated sense of self-importance. See what a couple of hours in a warm place will do to this stuff?

This is print my fist made, having put the dough in its place.

This is the dough, ready to be topped and baked. See how imperfect, yet, somehow, perfect?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

For some reason, brownies are one of those classic American desserts that are just a bit pesky and elusive for the vegan baker. Chocolate chip cookies are in the bag, and have been there for a long time. Apple pie? Please. My pie kicks an omni pie's ass any day of the week. I don't know how many times I have to say that you emphatically do not need lard or butter to make a delicious, flaky pastry. Really, you don't. I defy anyone who says differently. But brownies? A little tough. I don't know that I've had a vegan version that quite matches the ones I had as a kid, and I've had a lot of vegan brownies that sucked, some of which I made myself. Now that I've fiddled around with the brownie recipes in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, however, I feel that the problem with the other versions is how bent out of shape people get about egg replacements. For example, some vegan brownies rely heavily on pureed fruit of some sort or another, but I find that this gives the final product a fruitiness that is not at all desirable when I'm trying to get serious about chocolate. At the same time, and before I deliver my new recipe for the above named confection, I should pause to award an honorable mention to this recipe, courtesy of vegweb. In this version, which had held me off from further experimentation until just recently, the aforementioned no-egg-induced fussiness takes the shape of a sort of paste made from cooking flour and water together. Still, pretty damned good, but not quite right.

The impetus for these experiments was that I needed to come up with a dessert for a dinner party (or two, as it turned out!). I toyed with making a cheesecake. I contemplated paring chocolate mousse with strawberry shortcake. I even thought about cake. But in the end it was my sister's quip that brownies are always good that sealed the deal. Of course, I'm not content to make basic brownies, though. As I said, first I played around with the recipes in Isa's above-mentioned book. I thought the brownies these recipes produced were just not quite the right texture, so I decided to build. Having a food blog, it turns out, endows one with the hubris to monkey around with the most delicate of baking procedures. Luckily, after a few tries, I think I got it. These brownies are very chocolatey, spicey, and salty. That's how we like them. Brownie texture is one of those either/or issues that tend to be very polarizing: crunchy or creamy, boxers or briefs, vodka martinis or gin, etc. The recipe below is far denser than the original recipe, and while it falls quite short of muddy, I think it straddles the line between cakey and fudgy quite admirably.

I've noted that I used the brownie recipe from the illustrious Isa's book as a base, but I made so many changes that I feel comfortable posting it here as my own version. What is recipe-making if not so much boldfaced thievery in an apron?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

3 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/3 c vanilla non-dairy yogurt
1/3 c coconut milk (the full fat kind from the can, not the fancy Coconut Milk beverage)
1/3 c canola oil
3/4 c sugar (I always prefer raw, organic sugar. The refined stuff comes from hell.)
2 t vanilla
1 c flour (you can use ap, but I think ww pastry gives this a desirably heavier feel)
1/4 c dutch processed cocoa powder
1 T cornstarch (or arrowroot, if that's what you have)
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sea salt (I used a chunky, gray salt. Quality is fairly important here, so use your best stuff.)
1 t ground cinnamon (or a bit more, depending on how much of a cinnamon freak you are.)
1/2 t cayenne (I suggest adding this slowly, as cayenne varies a LOT in heat depending on what kind you have and how old it is. If you're nervous, use a bit less and add until it suits you. Up in our house, I spice up my brownies with wild abandon.)

Preheat your oven to 325. I used a wide silicone loaf pan, but you could probably use a standard 8 x 8 (or 9 x 9 for a thinner product) brownie pan. I come from a family that actually thinks there is a kind of pan that is specifically called a "brownie pan." Deal with it. Grease that pan liberally with a bit of vegan margarine or vegetable oil. I'd be cheating not to note that one of the virtues of silicone is that nothing sticks to it. It's magic. If you're using glass or metal, please just know that I can't guarantee your results. Probably it will be fine. Let me know.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate in 15 second increments, mixing between, until fully melted. Alternatively, if you are microwave averse, and nobody blames you for that, you could melt your chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate has melted, dump it into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the yogurt and coconut milk until well-combined. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla and whisk again. Without stirring, add to the bowl the flour, cocoa, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and spices. I even recommend adding the dry ingredients in that order. Just don't add the baking powder before the flour. Fold everything together until just combined. You can add a splash of non-dairy milk if the batter seems unreasonably dry to you.  Taste the batter for saltiness and spiciness and adjust as needed. Be careful not to over-mix, though. This is the time for restraint. Don't futz with your brownie batter too long. When it meets your requirements, spread the batter evenly into your prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is almost firm to the touch. With brownies, slight under-baking is much preferable to the alternative.

I highly recommend eating these with a lovely vegan whipped cream. Of course, I have a recipe for the perfect thing. We had them with an orange-infused coconut whipped cream, but you can also use the much-maligned Soyatoo or Hip Whip or whatever. Ice cream would also be good.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Turnip Greens and Potato Salad

As I mentioned in my last post, this week's farmbox caused some delayed-onset inspiration. A while ago, C had attempted a soup from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. At the time, we couldn't find any turnips with greens still attached, so he used parsley instead. The resulting soup was good, but we both felt that it wasn't as good as it could have been. This is not at all to disparage C's excellent kitchen skills, but it is to lament the fickleness of available produce. When we got a lovely bunch of young turnips with greens, then, I finally got around to thinking about that soup again and contemplating making another run at it. We haven't actually had all that much luck with this book, though I continue to return to it. I was beginning to worry that I mostly love the look of the thing, though it bears noting that Terry's method for baking tofu has become gospel around here.

We also had a bunch of parsley hanging around. While it's not romantic to say so, we always struggle to use up fresh herbs once we have them. Isn't that unfortunate? I know that as a food snob, especially a California-dwelling food snob, I should be mincing out to the garden to clip fresh herbs. I should have little bunches of them drying here and there. I should be extolling the wonders of fresh herbs and uttering proclamations about how no dried herb can possibly compete and so on and so forth. Though it may be a sign of amateur cooking status, I just don't really care. Mostly, I don't like to waste food or money, and if I know (and believe, me, I know) that I don't have a prayer at using up more than a sprig of rosemary for the recipe I'm working on, I'll just use dried. If that's wrong, I'm not sure I want to be right. Anyway, that's a long way of telling you about the plan I devised to use up the parsley before it wound up, like the bunch before it, in the compost heap. Continuing to thumb through Terry's book, I found a recipe for a red potato salad with a parsley-based pesto. All of the ingredients were not expensive and easy to get, so I had our menu plan. I made the Roasted Turnips and Shallots with Turnip Greens Soup and Roasted Red Potato Salad with Parsley-Pine Nut Pesto. I asked C to kick in a salad of some sort. 

 For the soup, which I couldn't find posted anywhere on the internet, you slow roast turnips and shallots with some salt and olive oil. Then you toss them in with the sauteed turnip greens. You add broth and seasonings and simmer the whole lot. I had to halve the recipe because I only had one bunch of turnips, and this made just the right amount for the two of us.

The potato salad was also really good, though I had to make some substitutions. I found the recipe posted here, and it is as follows:

Roasted Red Potato Salad with Parsley-Pine Nut Pesto
For the pesto
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cups loosely packed, flat-leaf parsley
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp mellow white or yellow miso
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
For the salad
2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black peppers
  1. Place pine nuts in a small skillet and toast over low heat until golden brown, taking care that they don't burn.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the pine nuts, parsley, garlic, miso, and lemon juice and puree. Slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth Add 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and the olive oil. Toss to coat. Transfer the potatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Add the peppers to the baking sheet and stir to combine. Roast for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the peppers are roasted.
  4. Transfer the potatoes and peppers to a large bowl, add 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp pesto, stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature. Cover the remaining pesto with a film of olive oil in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
 I used curly parsley because that's what I had. I also subbed raw pistachios for the pine nuts because pine nuts are expensive and, really, what's the big deal? I toasted them just as the recipe directs and did everything else as suggested. Sorry about the pics, dear readers. I know you've come to expect a certain level of crappiness from my photos, and this post doesn't even really meet those low expectations. Even C's effort to show me how it's done yielded a blurry photo. Let me leave you with the promise that I will strive to do better in the future. Also, the brownies are coming. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cashew Miso Stir-Fry (with Puffy Seitan)

I was feeling ~really~ uninspired yesterday. I kind of knew that I should blog, but I've been rather preoccupied with a brownie project of late that keeps me from thinking seriously or with any kind of inspiration about healthy (non-brownie related) food. C was home grumping on his computer all day and declared his intention not to venture out, so in spite of my lackadaisicality, I knew dinner was up to me. Also, while I'm disclosing, it was my turn to cook. Out I went, and after I worked out (which was very satisfying), I went food shopping (which was less satisfying). I picked up our farmbox: chard, baby turnips with greens, salad mix, a few russets, a couple of oranges, and some raisins. None of this felt like dinner, at the time, so I proceeded to the store. I had already been mulling something Asian-ish, largely thanks to Vegan Dad's recent post about oven-baked chow mein. Since I'm not allowing myself to eat things like noodles these days, I successfully channeled my energy into stir-fry.

In the interests of even fuller disclosure, I'm really not the stir-fry maker. C usually handles most foods Asian, which includes the phos, the bibimbab, the teriyaki-ish, the sushi. My best forays into Asian cuisine have been things like steamed buns filled with barbecued vegetables and those delectable crispy sesame balls filled with sweet red bean paste. You can tell who the fatty is in this relationship, right? In any case, as I've said, I steeled myself to stir-fry. I didn't want to end up with a non-descript vegetable and tofu mash, having made an uncomfortable number of those in the past, particularly when I was just teaching myself to cook. I opted for seitan instead of tofu as it tends to absorb sauces a bit more readily and evidences a staying power for which you can't always rely on the beloved bean curd. After I managed to make that decision and powered through an uninspired trip to the market, I ended up making the following dish. C was kind enough to provide a title, since we all know I suck at those.

The first thing I made was the seitan. I wanted to use thin strips of baked and seasoned seitan. As a sort of lucky accident, making seitan isn't quite my thing either. The product of my efforts in this regard were unintentionally delightful. C always manages to churn out steaks that are flavorful, well-behaved, and chewy. The seitan I made for this recipe, though, turned out puffy, lightly-seasoned, and layered. The skin sort of separated slightly from the inner steak and the lot soaked up the savory sauce to excellent effect. It ended up being a bit like chewy-proteiny shitake. If you choose to go this route with the steak and all that, and are set on repeating my mistake/success, simply ignore anyone who laughs at your clownish seitan steaks, puffing up and looking ridiculously out of control. They won't laugh that long.

After the seitan was done and out to cool, I started the rice and prepped the vegetables. By the time I finished stirfrying, I had about 10 minutes before the rice was done. This bit of time is essential as it gives your cabbage time to wilt and lets the whole mess cool enough not to kill the miso. See what you think.

Cashew Miso Sitr-Fry (with Puffy Seitan)

2 seitan steaks, Marla style, cut into cubes (recipe follows)
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced or shredded
1 red pepper, sliced
1  inch chunk of ginger, minced
2  garlic cloves, minced
2  carrots, sliced
2 c sliced white mushrooms
1/2 c raw cashews
2 T Braggs
2 c vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T mellow white miso
oil for frying (I used canola)

In a large frying pan, or wok, fry seitan in a bit of oil until it starts to brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a bit more oil if you need to, then lightly fry ginger and garlic for one minute. Add the carrots and cook for another minute. Repeat with red pepper. Add seitan, cashews, and mushrooms and stir. In a small bowl, combine broth, Braggs, and cornstarch. Pour over cooking vegetables. Reduce heat and cook until the vegetables are nicely coated and no longer soupy. Turn off the heat and mix in the cabbage. Go away until your rice is finished cooking. When you're ready to eat, test the stir-fry for heat. You want it to be warm, but not hot. You can gently reheat if necessary, but if you've timed it right, you shouldn't need to. In a small bowl, mix the miso with about a half cup of water. When it's dissolved, pour it over the vegetables, stir to coat, and serve.

Mistaken Seitan Steaks

1 c vital wheat gluten
1 t ground black pepper
1 t sea salt
1 t dried basil
2 T nutritional yeast
1 c water

Preheat oven to 400. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add water and knead for about 2 minutes. Shape dough into two balls. Stretch them out as thinly as you can on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, then flip and bake an additional 15. Don't freak out when they start puffing and misbehaving. You can smack them around if you like. When they're finished, allow to cool until you can handle them, then slice and dice.

If I may, two teasers. First, I finally did find some inspiration related to those turnips I mentioned. I plan to make some explorations in this vein later today and will post the results, unless they prove wildly unsatisfactory. Similarly, I'm hoping soon to offer you a prototype of the Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie. I have a recipe that I'm working with, but it has not yet yielded the kind of results I'm looking for. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Or even maybe might have been. That is, I was going to make tacos. I mention this as a sort of segue, however temporary it ends up being, away from the raw foods track I've been on recently. We've both hit that wall that inevitably stops us from getting really serious about living foods. For C, the wall was the raw asparagus. For me, it was my old enemy--the flax. This is mostly unfortunate because I'm only half-way through the second batch of onion bread, and I still have three of the salmon patties. The lot of it has been kicking around the kitchen, mostly loitering the days away on a baking sheet in the cold oven, while I reluctantly tell myself I'll get around to eating it. I may still, of course. I had an onion bread/salmon pattie/hollandaise/tomato sandwich for lunch yesterday and finished it feeling about 40% that it was delicious and 60% skeeved. I continue to suspect that the problem is that I'm ill-equipt. I keep thinking, and have some experience to back up this suspicion, that the bread would be light, flavorful, and delightful if only that little bit of flaxy viscosity could be sucked out of it.

I'm afraid I'm coming off more negative than I mean to be. Truly, it's delicious. Raw food should be about expanding our horizons. Stripping away the limitations imposed by thinking that we always have to cook just about everything that isn't salad. As I was just opining to my ever-patient sister, I prefer to think about raw food in these kinds of positive terms. I'm obviously not a purist about it, and I rather resent the way that veganism (and even vegetarianism) is so often cast as something riddled with restrictions and limitations and deprivations. People love to tell vegans about how they could almost be vegan, except that they love cheese so much. Thus vegans are figured as people depriving themselves of good things. This is annoying for a number of reasons, one of which is that I really don't feel deprived. I don't feel sad for myself because I don't eat any longer the foods I enjoyed before I went vegan. For the record, I was hugely into fresh mozzarella. And calamari. And muenster cheese. And bree. And crab. And lots of things that I truly no longer feel tempted to eat. I couldn't even properly be said to miss them. I think it's hard for people to believe me when I say that, but my food world expanded so much when I went vegan, that at least from where I'm standing it's ridiculous to think that my options have been limited. Of course, had I been at all smart about food before going vegetarian and then vegan I may not have had this life-altering experience! Oh, the silver linings.

But all this was by the way of telling you that I was going to make tacos, and I still might. I was beginning to scheme, the little budding taco thoughts were just tentatively feeling their way out of my brain-pan, when C announced that he couldn't keep on with the raw thing. Since I was on the verge of a similar sentiment, I agreed that we kind of can it for a while (except for the aforementioned stragglers, marooned on a desolate baking sheet). I was perusing the blogs, doing my usual rounds, when I found a link to some grain free pancakes that I'd always planned on trying. Since we're still off of flour, at least for the time, I decided to give them a go last night. Verdict? Pretty good! The batter was very thick, so I ended up making what we used to call (and maybe still is called? I don't get to diners much.) silver dollar pancakes. They had a very pronounced smell before cooking that I can only describe as "raw," and which made me a litter nervous because of my love/hate relationship with flax. The final result, though, wasn't viscous in any way. Because they don't contain any grain-based flour at all, these won't leave you with the satisfying feeling you probably are accustomed to from eating carbilicious pancakes. They did have a nice texture, though, and were light and tasty. I cooked them in very little oil, and next time might increase that to make them crispier. I also recommend cooking them for longer on low heat even though they cooked easily and quickly. If you have gluten allergies or are just trying to stay away from flour or are looking for a nutritious alternative kinda side dish, try these.

We had these with butter and syrup, steamed kale with fresh tomatoes, and some tofu that I marinated (in marinade leftover from the Tofu Benny) and baked. It all went together really well.

Recipe, from the cool Diet, Dessert and Dogs Blog follows:

Grain-Free Lemony Almond Pancakes
1/2 cup (85 g) natural almonds, with skin (raw or lightly toasted)
1/4 cup (25 g) finely ground flax meal
2/3 cup (160 ml) plain or vanilla soymilk
1 Tbsp (30 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 ml) chickpea (besan) or whole bean flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) fine sea salt
In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds and flax until you have a very fine meal the texture of coarse cornmeal.  There should be no large pieces of almond visible.
Add the milk, agave, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice and whir again.  Allow to sit while you prepare the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
Heat a  nonstick frypan over medium heat (I use cast iron).  Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and whir just until blended.
Using a small ice cream scoop or 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml), pour batter onto hot pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until bubbles appear and then pop on the surface of the pancakes and the edges look dry.  Gently flip and then cook another 2-3 minutes on other side.  Keep cooked pancakes warm while you continue with the rest of the batter.  Makes 8-10 small pancakes (if you prefer regular-sized pancakes, you’ll get 4-5). May be frozen.
If I make these again, and I probably will, I'd just grind the almonds and flax in my little coffee grinder, mix everything in a bowl, and let it sit for five minutes or so. I also would use a little more lemon juice and zest than is called for. Don't hope to feed more than two people with these as a side dish unless you're making multiple batches. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Go Ghoti

I was trying to come up with a title that would play in some way with the word fish since this post and the last one are primarily focused on raw, vegan, fishy dishes. Then I remembered learning about this word "ghoti" in a linguistics class in college as an alternate, plausible (given the largely nonsensical and quixotic rules of pronunciation in English) spelling for the word fish. Too silly? Too academic? Too irrelevant?

Of course, I don't really want to tell you about that whimsical little linguistic joke. I want to tell you about the Salmon patties, which were the product of a certain whimsy on my behalf. We've been really good about not eating flour or really anything at all in the way of processed food, and I decided to push our raw cuisine for just a day or two past the tuna. I spent a few minutes combing through Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen before I found her recipe for what she (less cleverly than I, with my ghoti) calls Save-the-Salmon Patties. These are mostly composed of carrot pulp, the masticated and usually composted remnants of making carrot juice, and a cheesy base made from raw sunflower seeds. She suggests serving them with an almond and lemon-based hollandaise.

I had been thinking along these lines, but holding off on making anything like a real plan for dinner while I waited to see what we would get in our very first farm-box from the CSA. When I saw carrots, I decided that this was a go. Of course, since I lack most of the necessary equipment to do raw food as well as one should, I don't have a juicer. I opted instead to simply shred the carrots. I can't say for sure what effect this ultimately had on the resuling patties, but I'm guessing that if one had access to pulp the final product would actually approach a salmon-type flakiness. With the shredded carrot, they were a bit moist but still very good. I also made my patties quite smaller than she recommends, so I got quite a few out of the recipe. Truth be told, I was worried about how they would dehydrate if they were too large or thick. The dehydrating technique I'm working with involves turning the oven on to it's lowest warm setting, and leaving the door open a crack. I let it go for a while, and then when everything seems to be getting warm to the touch, I shut the oven off. This strategy probably violates all the rules of raw food practices, but until the sun comes out for serious this seems to be my best option. I will not be defeated.

The recipe, which I found previously posted here, is as follows:

~ Patties ~
Pulp from 5 juiced carrots
1 batch of Sunny Dill Chz
2 tablespoon Yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt
2 tablespoon Dulse flakes,or more if u like
~ Hollandaise Sauce ~
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 Cup of water
2/3 cups soaked almond
2/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp turmeric
1/3 cup olive oil
~ Sunny Dill Chz ~
2 cup Soaked sunflower seeds
1 Lemon, juiced
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh dill
1 cup water
To make patties, place carrot pulp into lrg bowl with Sunny Dill Chz. Add onion, salt, and Dulse. Mix well. Shape into pattties, and dehydrate 5 hrs. This dries the outside layer and makes it look like real salmon cakes.
Hollandaise sauce, blend lemon, water, salt, turmeric, and almonds til smooth. Add oil and blend til thick.
Sunny Dill Chz,Blend seeds,lemon,garlic,and dill til smooth, adding water as needed to make creamy texture.
Here's another pic. We had them with raw asparagus that I tossed with just a bit of olive oil and salt. C swears this messed up his tummy, but I am doubtful. 

One final note, and it's really more of a teaser. I recently joined an online group called the Daring Bakers. Every month, they pose a different baking challenge. All the members make whatever it is, and then post their results on an agreed upon reveal date. That day is the 27th. Know that I have already completed the challenge. Know that I will be posting my results. Know that I can't tell you anything else about it lest the DBers find out and revoke my access to the DB forum. Know that there are pictures and at least one person (other than myself) disgusted with themselves for having consumed the delicious, decadent product of this challenge. Know that that person would do so again. And again. Also, know that I'm hoping for your comments. Waiting for them. Languishing. And if I don't get some soon, I'm going to change the title of this blog to "Howling (Vegan) Monad (Squared)."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuna and Martinis

Though it may suck for you to hear me say it, it's Spring in California! The streets are lined with daffodils and the produce section at evil Whole Foods is bursting with huge, luscious strawberries. We also just signed up with a CSA outside of Santa Rosa called Laguna Farms, and we get to pick up our first box today! All this produce, and our temporary aversion to flour and processed foods, has led me back to exploring the virtues of raw cuisine. We do have a bit of a rocky history, raw food and I.

Admittedly, much of what makes our experience together more tumultuous and ambivalent than it might otherwise be is my stubborn frugality. Though some people will claim differently, my research and experiences with raw food have led me to conclude that to do it and do it well, one really needs some equipment. There's an investment involved for those who want to do raw foods, whether you're a swinger or a monogamist, dabbling or planning to transition away from cooked food. At the very least, one needs a good food processor, a dehydrator, a good grinder or mill, and a spiralizer--average knife skills will only get you so far. I have two of these four things, and middling to average knife skills. What I lack in skill, I make up for in ambition. Or so I like to tell myself.

My reticence to acquire a dehydrator forces me to get creative when following recipes that specify dehydration. In Buffalo I had fairly reasonable success putting food on baking sheets and letting them sit in the afternoon sun for several hours. This worked perfectly well for making raw Buckwheat cereal, for example. I had more limited success making dried breads and burgers and the like. My raw experiments came to a halt after eating insufficiently dehydrated and very flax-intensive burgers and buns. Ground flax seeds are a fantastic binder in raw food recipes, which tend to use them very liberally. You mix some ground flax in with some shoyu, ground nuts, pulsed carrots/celery/onions, spread it all out to dry, and voila! When insufficiently dried, though, I was left with the viscosity of the flax, which rather coats the tongue and, in the fullness of time, really skeeves me out. This sliminess ended my raw food experiments for a long time, and it took the California sunshine, abundant produce, and recommitting to fresher food to turn my head again.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that C took me to Seed for our V-Day dinner. I ordered a raw toona sandwich that totally blew my mind. The toona pate, not so mysterious, for all that, came on this amazing, savory, and chewy onion bread. Totally delicious. I liked it so much, I decided to attempt its recreation at home. To my delight, googling "raw onion bread" yielded multiple hits for what I know now to be a rather famous creation in the raw foodie community. I looked at a bunch of different recipes, but ultimately decided to try this one from Raw Freedom Community. I used the author's recommendations and subbed some avocado and water for part of the oil. To be more specific, I used one half of an avocado, mashed, with a few T of olive oil and a bit of water. The liquid is really important as it activates the flax seeds, though "activates" there feels like a euphemism for "renders slimey." Recipe follows:

THE famous Onion bread
Originally posted by Pansy on RFT

2 1/2 lbs sweet onions, peeled
1 cup ground sunflower seeds
1 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
3 oz. Nama Shoyu

Put onions in food processor with 's' blade and process until small pieces, (but not mush). Put in mixing bowl with the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. The flax will absorb liquid. Smooth onto teflex sheets* about 1/4" thick and place in dehydrator for 5 hours, turning over for another 3-4 hours or until dry and crispy. Either break into pieces or cut with a pizza cutter, and store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Since I don't have a dehydrator, I spread the whole mess on a baking sheet and put it in the oven on the lowest setting for an hour. Then I turned the oven off and left it for a day. It still wasn't dry enough, so I repeated this process off and on for another day. In the end, I couldn't say for certain that the bread was consistently under the 110 degree cut off (or whatever it is) to actually be raw, but I'm not a purist about such things. Also, it was really good. We had it for dinner with the toona recipe that follows, and it was delicious. The bread was even the better the following day, since I flipped it and let it dry for an additional twenty-four hours. If you have a dehydrator, live in the desert, or just have lots of time to fuck with something like this, you should definitely try it. Really really really good. 

I used this toona recipe, as well as the recommended raw vegan mayo in that link. Because I think most people must have much blander palates than I, I tweaked the seasonings. I used a lot more vinegar and dill than the recipe called for and added a bunch of powdered kelp for fishiness. Recipe, with my modifications, marked by asterisks, follows:

Simple Tuna Salad Recipe – Easy Tuna Salad Recipe
Serves 4 (approximately ½ cup servings)Equipment needed: Food processor
¾ cup soaked sunflower seeds (soak ½ cup raw seeds for 8 hours)
½ cup soaked almonds (soak 1/3 cup raw almonds for 8 hours)
2 stalks celery diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice ****I used about 3 T
½ teaspoon dry dill weed ****who are they kidding? I used about 2 T
¼ teaspoon herbemare    ****omitted
1-2 tablespoons olive oil  ****omitted, there is plenty of fat in the mayo!

                                  ****added 3 T apple cider vinegar
                                  ****added 2-3 t kelp powder

Place all ingredients in the food processor with the S blade in place and process to desired consistency. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.
If you prefer a more traditional tuna salad recipe you can fold into the tuna mixture, by hand, 2 tablespoons of homemade vegan mayonnaise. This really makes it delicious. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce and top with sliced grape tomatoes. This makes an especially wonderful and healthy dish for a ladies luncheon. If you like, you can put the simple tuna salad recipe in whole wheat wraps and top with sprouts…you’ll think you are eating the real deal and the best part is, you won't have any fishy aftertaste.
I made sandwiches with the onion bread, pickles, toona, and thinly-sliced tomatoes. On the side we had a simple cabbage slaw one night, and a fennel and orange salad the next. Highly recommended. Oh yes, I also recommend that you eat this very fresh and healthy dinner with an equally fresh, but quite unhealthy martini. Tuna and Martini! It's fun to say. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Double Mushroom Portobello Pizzas

Though the title strikes me as redundant, I'm going with it anyway. I came up with the idea for these pizzas after C and I decided to back up off of flour for a little while. I still had some pizza sauce left over from when I made the phyllo dough pizza pockets, and I abhor waste. Abhor it. I knew I wanted to make pizzas and tried to think of what could serve for the base of one in the absence of the traditional, doughy goodness.

Of course, putting portobellos to this kind of use is hardly new. C and I were just the other day bemoaning how humdrum they've become. Many restaurants that are totally not veg-friendly at all will (in order to appear to be) put the same two items on the menu as every other place that wants to be able to claim that they are veg-friendly without actually being veg-friendly. If you yourself are veg-friendly, you likely know that these two items are 1) pasta of some description, probably with marinara or, more rarely, sauteed vegetables; and 2) the ubiquitous portobello burger. The latter of these is the commonest and easiest to veganize by leaving off the cheese (and you just know it comes with cheese). Then you end up paying $10 for a poorly cooked and seasoned mushroom cap on a dry bun with some anemic onions. Lame lame lame. 

In the face of these popular abuses, I decided to try to redeem the maligned portobello. I marinated them in Italian-inspired seasonings before lightly roasting. I didn't want them to get over-cooked (see description above). We both like our food to have some integrity, even after cooking. Then I filled the caps with crimini-laced pizza sauce, topped generously with Daiyya cheese, and baked again until hot and melty. The recipe follows. If I had one thing to do over about these, I'd make sure the mushrooms dried out just a bit more. Mushrooms have so much water that trying to dry them out can feel sort of sisyphusian, but you can certainly get close enough for these purposes. The resulting pizzas are toothsome, flavorful, and light.

Double Mushroom Portobello Pizzas

1 recipe pizza sauce (recipe follows)
1 recipe Italian marinade (recipe follows)
4 large portobello caps
1/2 c Daiyya Italian-style vegan cheese

Place portobellos in a shallow baking dish and cover with marinade. Let them sit for an hour or more, then flip and repeat. Preheat oven to 350. Place portobellos, gills down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip and roast 20 minutes more. When they are almost as tender as you want them to be, cover the tops with pizza sauce and then sprinkle with the cheese. You want to leave a narrow border between the edge of the cheese and the edge of the mushroom to reduce spillage and loss of melty, delicious, and expensive cheese. Let them cool for ten minutes before serving. Because we're lucky, we still had a bit of pepperoni crumbles, so we sprinkled those on top. You could, too. I'm just saying.  
Pizza Sauce

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 c chopped criminis (of more, if you really like them)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1 t salt

Saute garlic and onion just until translucent. Add criminis and cook 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Portobello Marinade

2 cups vegetable broth
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T thyme
1 T oregano
2 t garlic granules

Combine all ingredients.