Archive for the 'Appetizers' Category

Peachy Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Peachy Vietnamese Summer Rolls

At most supermarkets, peaches and nectarines are labeled either yellow or white. But at the farmers market, local vendor Kashiwase Farms has all sorts of different peaches and nectarines. Practically from A to Z – Aortic Rose, Honey Royale, Snow King, White Lady, Zee Lady, to name just a few – I never even knew there was so many varieties.

My latest favorite is the Honey Kist nectarine – sweet with a bit of a mango taste. Combined with the flavors of fresh basil, mint and cilantro, crisp bean sprouts, baby romaine lettuce and served with a spicy dipping sauce, it’s a taste of summer in a roll.

Peachy Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Makes 4 rolls

1 medium Honey Kist yellow nectarine, or other variety, chopped
2 heads baby romaine lettuce, shredded
1 small carrot, julienned
1 green onion, thinly chopped
Handful of fresh bean sprouts
Fresh mint, chiffonade
Fresh basil, chiffonade
Fresh cilantro, chopped

4 eight inch round rice paper sheets
Hoisin sauce
Chili garlic sauce

Fill a large bowl with cold water and dip one rice paper sheet into the water for a minute or so until soft. Place the rice paper sheet on a flat work surface.

In the center, spread a bit of each of the filling ingredients, adding more or less of each item as desired. Fold in the sides of the rice paper sheet over the filling and firmly roll up. Gently press the seam to seal. Place seam side down on a serving plate. If you’re making more than a few rolls, cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out while you’re working.

For the dipping sauce, combine a spoonful of the hoisin sauce with a bit of the chili garlic sauce to desired spiciness. Thin with a little water if the sauce appears to be too thick.

Slice each roll in half and serve with the dipping sauce.

Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Seafood

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Calamari

Too tired or too lazy to make your own Baked Mushroom Calamari? There’s now Vegan Calamari from Sophie’s Kitchen. I found it in the frozen food section at the Cupertino Whole Foods (only select locations in Northern California have it).

I thought it was yummy, kinda chewy like calamari but not really seafoodie tasting. The texture though is very similar. Of course it doesn’t compare to the baked king oyster mushrooms. But it’s pretty good for something that’s frozen and took 10 minutes to heat up. It’s best to cook it a little longer than the 6 minutes as directed on the package, it makes it a bit more crispy.

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Calamari

It’s main ingredient is Konjac powder, a plant native to Asia and grown in China, Japan, Korea and India. In Japanese cuisine, it’s made into noodles. It’s also used as a vegan substitute for gelatin. And it’s the same stuff used to make vegan shrimp that you see in Chinese vegetarian restaurants sometimes or at the Asian supermarket.

Vegan Calamari Salad

The Vegan Squid Rings are basically the same as the Vegan Calamari but naked (without the breading). So it’s more of an ingredient than a heat-and-serve kind of thing. I went with an antipasto type of calamari salad – combining the flavors of marinated fresh veggies and salty olives with the chewy texture of the squid.

I liked both products well enough to get them occasionally, both were $3.99 each. Besides the calamari, Sophie’s Kitchen also has Vegan Shrimp, and Vegan Breaded Fish Fillet. I figured the shrimp is probably close to what I’ve already had before but I would like to try the fish fillet sometime.

Vegan Calamari Salad

Vegan Calamari Salad
Serves 2-4

1 package Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Squid Rings
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly grounded pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley to taste

Thaw the vegan squid rings according to package directions, cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the squid pieces, onion, tomatoes, olives and parsley and toss well. Chill for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

Seitan In A Blanket

Seitan In A Blanket

Having been intimidated long enough, I finally gave the whole make-it-yourself seitan thing a try. I started out with a easy and delicious recipe for breakfast sausage from one of my favorite blogs, VeganDad (who I must say, is like the master seitan maker).

Then I saw Chorizo Seitan Sausages in Viva Vegan! and decided to combine elements of the two recipes to make mini “hot dogs” for a seitan version of pigs in a blanket.

Since I was going for a hot doggy sort of seitan, I use tomato paste and paprika for the color and chickpea flour for a smoother texture. Of course, it doesn’t actually taste like a commercial hot dog, but it’s still good. And it’s fun to be able to customize the flavor and spices. It’s a little “wheaty” tasting right out of the steamer, less so after sitting in the fridge overnight and the flavors develop a bit more.

For the blanket, I used the dough from a pigs in a blanket recipe on VegWeb. I love it because there’s no scary yeast to deal with and no waiting either. Just mix, roll and go.

Seitan In A Blanket

Seitan Dogs
Makes about 12
1 1/4 cup wheat gluten
1 cup water
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Fresh ground black pepper

It’s best to make the seitan dogs the night before so the flavors have a chance to develop.

Set up a steamer and cut out 12 pieces of tin foil.

In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients and mix together. Knead the dough a little bit to develop the gluten. Divide the dough into twelve pieces. Roll each piece into a mini hot dog shape and wrap in the foil. Twist the ends together to secure, but don’t wrap too tightly otherwise it might bust out of its wrapper during steaming.

Place the seitan dogs in the steamer and steam for about 20-25 minutes, flipping over about halfway through. Remove from the steamer and let cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.

Blanket Dough
Makes enough dough for 6-8 pieces depending on the thickness of the blankets
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all of the ingredients, except the water, in a bowl and mix until it looks like coarse meal. Add a little bit of water at a time, mixing until the dough comes together in a ball (I added less than a 1/4 cup of water).

Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on the work surface and rolling pin so the dough doesn’t stick and roll out the ball of dough into a long thin strip. Cut into approximately 2″ high strips and wrap a section around the middle of a seitan dog. Gently press the seam to make it stay. Place seam side down on a well-oiled baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden, flipping them over halfway through. Serve with your choice of condiments.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari

I love fried foods. But I could never bring myself to actually fry anything at home. It’s much too messy and in the back of my mind I know I’m much too lazy to want to clean up after frying.

Then I came across a recipe for King Oyster Mushroom “Calamari” in Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. It looks just like fried calamari but it’s really king oyster mushrooms (also called king trumpet) that have been dehydrated. But alas, I didn’t have a dehydrator and I didn’t want to leave the oven on low for hours.

Inspired by the raw recipe, I made a baked version. Fresh out of the oven, the mushroom calamari came out nice and crispy. Easy, healthy and so good for satisfying that fried food itch.

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari
Serves 2 as an appetizer

3-4 large king oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 small lemon
Sea salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon ground flax meal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Wash and slice the mushrooms crosswise into 1/8″ slices. Using a small round cutter, cut out a hole in the center to make a ring. Save the centers for some other use.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add the mushroom rings and toss, leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the water and flax meal in a small bowl and let stand for a few minutes until the mixture becomes slimy and somewhat sticky. In a separate plate or pan, combine the breadcrumbs, spices and salt to taste.

Dip a mushroom ring into the flax seed wash and then into the breadcrumbs, covering well. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip over the rings and bake another 5 minutes on the other side until crispy. Serve immediately. It’s good plain or with tartar sauce.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Related Links
Spicy Mushroom Cocktail
King Oyster Mushrooms with Snow Peas
King Oyster Mushroom Salad

Spinach Bolani

Spinach Bolani

Walking around the farmers market, minding my own business, some guy calls me over for some samples. Sometimes instead of a hasty no-thank-you, I weasel out of trying samples by asking if it’s vegan. Usually it’s not. But sometimes, it’s like hitting a vegan food jackpot – like the bolanis and sauces from East and West Gourmet Afghan Food.

Bolani is a traditional Afghani thin flatbread stuffed with either spinach, potato, lentil or pumpkin and baked. Even though it’s low-fat, low-cal and low-carb, it’s very tasty as well as filling. One serving of the spinach bolani is just 103 calories.

Top with any one or a combination of their many sauces and spreads for a delicious layering of flavors. For the spreads, I got the Lentil Curry and Cilantro Pesto. The curry is not really spicy hot but it’s got plenty of taste. The pesto is also very nice and light as it’s made without any oil.

Spinach Bolani

Available at numerous farmers markets throughout Northern California and a few in Southern California, they’re very generous with their samples. They’ll just keep handing you sample after sample after sample. The only item that isn’t vegan is the Garlic Mint Cheese, but it is vegetarian.

Two bolanis come in each package for $6, the sauces and spreads are also the same price. But if you buy a few items, you’ll get a deal. I got 3 things for $15. Also available at NoCal Whole Foods, Andronico’s and Mollie Stone’s. But if you like to taste before you buy, the farmers market is really the way to go.

While shopping at Whole Foods recently, I see that the bolanis there are $5.79, the spreads were $4.99 and the sweet jalapeƱo sauce was also $5.79. So it seems to be cheaper at Whole Foods if you just want to buy one or two items.

Roasted Tofu Lollipops With Pesto

Roasted Tofu Lollipops With Pesto

I haven’t made roasted tofu cubes for awhile since I rarely turn on the oven in warm weather. But lately, it’s been unseasonably cool around here. So I broke out the baking pan and roasted up a batch using the method from Vegan Soul Kitchen.

Stick a little bamboo fork in a tofu cube, top it with a little pesto and you’re done. Easy peasy.

The pesto came out more walnutty than I had intended. I miscalculated the amount of usable fresh basil I had on hand so I ended up with a more-walnuts-than-basil ratio.

Because I was short on the basil, I kinda winged it on the recipe. I was trying to follow the basil mint pesto recipe from It still came out pretty tasty though.

Roasted Tofu Lollipops With Pesto
Makes about 24 lollipops

1 16-ounce block of extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons or more of pesto

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine the oil, paprika and salt. Cut the tofu into cubes and gently toss to coat with the mixture. Place each tofu cube in single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast for 15 minutes on one side, flip over and roast for another 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Stick a bamboo fork into the side of each cube, top with about 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite pesto and serve.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase.

Related Posts
Honey Walnut Tofu
Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu
Roasted Tofu with Leeks and Black Bean Sauce
Roasted Tofu Cubes From Vegan Soul Kitchen

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu

For this Super Bowl of weekends, I decided to make the snack of sports bars and fans everywhere – Buffalo Wings. But instead of wings, it’s roasted tofu cubes.

It’s amazingly simple and easy. I used the method for roasting tofu from Vegan Soul Kitchen then tossed in Buffalo hot sauce. That’s it.

So good and rich-tasting. It’s now my snack of choice for all sporting events. Bring on the Winter Olympics.

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu
Serves 4

1 16-ounce block of extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Buffalo Sauce
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1/8 cup Earth Balance Soy-Free Butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine the oil, salt and paprika. Cut the tofu into cubes and gently toss to coat with the mixture. Place each tofu cube in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast for 15 minutes on each side.

In a wok, melt the butter. Turn off the heat and add the hot sauce. Stir to combine. Add the freshly roasted tofu and toss until throughly coated. Serve immediately with celery sticks and ranch dressing.

Ranch Dressing
Makes a little over 1/3 cup

1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Chill until ready to use.

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

I’ve been experimenting with a vegan version of sticky rice in lotus leaf (called lo mai gai in Cantonese). It’s very popular at dim sum, although I have yet to come across a veggie one in a restaurant. It usually has chicken and maybe other meats in it. Hence the experiment.

It’s basically sticky rice (which is also known as glutinous or sweet rice) with a savory filling wrapped in a lotus leaf and then steamed. The lotus leaf imparts a fragrant, delicate flavor to the rice. While steaming, it smells a bit like tea.

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Lotus leaves are sold dried and can be found at the Asian supermarket. To use, soak in hot water until they become pliable and darker in color. The sticky rice (sweet rice) can also be found at the Asian grocery store. It is not the same as sushi rice; it’s stickier. Above is the brand I always use, I cooked it in my fuzzy logic rice cooker on the sweet rice setting.

Surprisingly easy to make, as it’s mostly just assembly and waiting for things to soak. Well, I wasn’t actually standing there waiting, that would be silly. But it’s well worth the little bit of effort and planning to make this classic dim sum dish.

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
Makes 6 dim sum sized packets

2 cups sweet rice (using the measuring cup that came with the rice cooker)
3 dried lotus leaves
Vegetable oil

4 dried mushrooms, soaked and diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
3 1/2 ounces vegan sausage (or 1 Tofurky Italian sausage), sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
2 medium green onions, diced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetarian oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Cooking directions is for use with a rice cooker with a 5.5 cups capacity. Using the inner pot of the rice cooker, rinse the rice in several changes of water until the water is clear. Add enough water to cook the sweet rice as indicated on the inner pot. Let the rice soak in the water for 2 hours before cooking. Cook the rice according to the rice cooker directions.

Trim off the ragged edges of the lotus leaf with kitchen scissors, then cut off the hard knobby part at the pointy end and cut the leaf in half. Soak in hot water for about an hour, turning them over halfway through and weighting the leaves down if necessary.

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat a wok to hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the veggie sausage and stir fry until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and carrot and continue to stir fry for another minute or so, if it seems dry, add a little bit of water. Add the green onions and then the sauce, combine well. Place on a plate and set aside.

Rinse the lotus leaves and gently squeeze out any excess water. Place on a work surface with the curved edge facing away from you. Rub a little oil evenly onto the leaf.

Take 1/6 of the rice and divide it in 2, place one half onto the lower center of a leaf and work it into a small rectangle shape. Place 1/6 of the filling on the rice, then top with the other rice half and pat down.

Fold the tip end of the leaf up over the rice, then fold in the left and right sides. Roll up towards the curved edge to form a rectangular package. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make all 6 packets.

Put the packets seam side down in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. To serve, unwrap the lotus leaves and transfer the rice onto a plate.

Dim Sum Related Posts
Mock Chicken
Stuffed Tofu Puffs with Chili Garlic Sauce
Chinese 5-Spice Jackfruit with Steamed Buns
Yuba Rolls

« Previous PageNext Page »