Retro Blue Cheese Dressing

A friend shared this recipe and it was a recipe that her Mother learned in the 1950’s. No clue where it originally came from, but it’s very good.

I think it is best with a Maytag Blue or for a fun twist, Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue. Certainly, you will also never go wrong with a Roquefort.

Ingredients

4 oz of Blue Cheese of your choice
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
1 cup of Mayonnaise
1 pint of Sour Cream
1/8 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 small clove of Garlic, crushed
Pepper to taste, and add salt if needed. Often, it is not needed.

Combine the blue cheese and olive oil until well mixed, but still chunky  Add in all other ingredients and blend until well incorporated. Store is a glass jar in the refrigerator. It benefits from a day of rest, to give the flavors a chance to combine and mesh.

Smoky, Sweet and Spicy Collard Greens and “Snaps”

In today’s post, I want to discuss two ingredients which can help you reduce the fat in your meals, while giving up no flavor. 

The advantage of a plant based diet is that you are not introducing saturated fat into your food. We all want to eat healthier, but we still want to have our favorite comfort foods. 

I used to think that no fat, read as “no meat”, meant no flavor. However, I knew there had to be a way to create the flavor without the meat. 

Enter two very basic items. Vegetable oil and liquid smoke. These two ingredients can transform your cooking. Oil is essential for sautéing and browning, but an often overlooked fact, is that it adds mouth feel.

What that means is it adds a texture and a slick quality to foods. When you add liquid smoke into the equation, you get oily feel and smoky flavor. Hummmm….what does that sound like? Exactly, bacon!

So here is an example of a traditional Southern dish, which can be made using these two ingredients. I should point out that collard greens are packed with antioxidants and vitamins.

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs Collard Greens or a mix of collard and mustard greens.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1/4 cup Onion, chopped
1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke, depending on your preference.
2 tsp Sugar
4 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Chili Flakes, more or less to taste.
1Tbsp Salt
Black Pepper

6 cups of water, or a bit more, depending on the size of the saucepan

Begin by preparing your greens. You will need to cut out the tough stem. Or you can often buy them already cut and cleaned in the vegetable section. If you are going to prepare them yourself, just lay the leaf flat and use the pointed end of a knife to slice out the stem. Then roll them all together and cut into strips. Rinse them thoroughly and drain.

Put all the ingredients together into a large saucepan and simmer covered for 35 minutes to 1 hour depending on how you like your greens. You can serve them with extra cider vinegar and chili flakes.

Snaps with New Potatoes

These are so good. For those of you who don’t know the meaning of “snaps”, in Southern VA, that’s what we call green beans.

1 pound of Green Beans, trimmed and cut in half.
1/2 lb new/baby Potatoes
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper
3- 4 cups of water depending on the size of the saucepan

Sauté the chopped onion in the saucepan, just until the onion is translucent. Stir in all ingredients, except the green beans, and bring to a boil and then add the green beans. Simmer for 20-30 minutes depending on how done you like your beans.

Curried Carrot Soup – Yes, it can be chilled!

This is a recipe from a few years back, but it makes such a tasty soup, and it is amazing chilled, so I thought on this very hot day, it sounded perfect.


The key is to make sure the carrots are thoroughly cooked; otherwise they won’t purée properly and to only add the lime juice at the end to maintain the full flavor.

Ingredients

2 lbs of organic baby Carrots, chopped in half
1 large Onion
1 Shallot, finely chopped
4 Tbsp Butter or non dairy substitute, such as Earth Balance
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Curry Paste or Curry Powder.
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
6 cups of Vegetable Broth
¾ cup Heavy Cream or So Delicious Creamer or similar.
Juice of one Lime
 
Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy saucepan, and then add the onions and shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 mintues.
 
Now add the curry paste, salt, cayenne pepper and sauté for one minute. Add the broth and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through.
 
Puree the mixture using a hand blender in the saucepan or transfer to a food processor and purée in batches. Then add all back to saucepan and add in heavy cream, bring to a gentle simmer, add lime juice and serve. You may garnish with a bit of chopped chives if desired.

If you want to serve it chilled, cool it down quickly by putting the soup into a large bowl and sitting it in an ice bath. Then cool completely in the refrigerator and serve.

Poached Salmon

This is a very basic recipe and easy to follow.


Ingredients

1-2 lb Salmon fillets, pin bones removed, if present, and skin on. Try for pieces that are thicker rather than flat.

½ cup Water

½ cup dry White Wine

1 Shallot sliced
3 springs of fresh Dill
2-3 whole Cloves
2-3 Black Peppercorns
Salt 
Black Pepper
Salt the salmon filet. Bring water, wine, shallot, dill, cloves and black peppercorns to a boil. Gently place the salmon, skin side down, into the pan, cover and cook on a very low simmer for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Serve with fresh lemon slices and a bit of freshly ground black pepper. You can also chill and serve later. It makes great leftovers. 

Or use the leftovers for the amazing “Le Bernardin” Salmon Rilette, originally published on June 1, 2012.

Vegan Mac and Cheese. Is this the greatest comfort food of all time?

Nothing speaks to me like mac and cheese and for many it\’s our go to comfort food. However, if you’re allergic to dairy, lactose intolerant, or vegan by choice, what’s can you do?

Thankfully we have our friends at VegNews Magazine to come to our rescue. This is their number one mac and cheese recipe of all time. Make it once and you’ll know why.

I have reprinted this recipe in it’s original form, because I honestly can’t think of changing anything. Any changes to this recipe would only diminish it. Thank you to chef Allison Rivers Sampson for her wonderful interpretation of this classic.

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 quarts Water
1 tablespoon Sea Salt
8 ounces Macaroni
4 slices of Bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup Earth Balance
2 tablespoons Shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup Carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup Onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup Water
1/4 cup raw Cashews
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Paprika

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until just al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.


In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a blender, process cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown. 

Vegan Shepards Pie

This is the ultimate English comfort food. I love the browned mashed potatoes and “meat” combination.

Traditionally made with either lamb or beef, I like the non meat version better, as it’s lighter and actually has more healthy plant based protein than the true meat version, but without the added fat. 

This can be made in individual portions or family style. Either way it’s a keeper and is sure to please.

Ingredients

2 large Potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces.
3 Tbsp Earth Balance or suitable spread
1/4 cup Daiya Cheddar Shreds
1 Packet Boca Crumbles or Beyond Meat Crumbles
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen Peas
1/2 cup Veggie Broth
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce or HP Sauce (kind of like A1, but better)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
Chopped fresh Parsley

Makes 2 individual pies, or one medium size (9×9) piePrepare your potatoes and place into boiling water. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain and add Earth Balance, cheddar and blend/mash until you have a mashed potato consistency. 

While the potatoes are cooking, put you olive into a sauté pan and  sauté the onions, carrots and frozen peas. Once they are translucent, add the crumbles and sauté for a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper, broth, and Worcestershire sauce and sauté until thickened. 

Preheat your broiler. Spoon your “meat” mixture into an individual oven proof crock or a larger oven proof baking dish. Put your mashed potatoes on top, sprinkle on your smoked paprika and put under the broiler until the potatoes are nicely browned. Toss with chopped parsley and serve.

Mushroom Marsala

I’ve always thought that one of the nicest things about any sort of marsala variation, was the amazing mushrooms. Since I rarely eat meat now, I wanted to replicate the dish without losing any flavor. I found that a meaty mushroom, such as a shitaki, works very well and it is really tasty. It really does have that wonderful marsala richness without the meat. I like to point out that if you are not avoiding dairy, then feel free to substitute dairy versions for any ingredient. 

Ingredients

1lb Shitaki Mushrooms, sliced
4 tbsp Earth Balance
1 clove of Garlic minced
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup chopped Green Onion
Sea Salt and Black Pepper 

1/2 cup non dairy creamer. I like the So Delicious brand
Parmesan Cheese, I like the Go Veggie brand.

Melt the butter in the sauté pan and add the garlic and gently sauté, then add the mushrooms and salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are softened. 

Add the green onion and the lemon, sauté until incorporated and then add the marsala wine and increase heat until the mixture thickens. Finally, add the creamer and cook until it thickens. Serve over pasta or noodles with Parmesan.