Posts Tagged ‘daiya’
Grilled Portobello Sandwich

It’s only about once in a blue moon that I put together a sandwich. I never liked them much growing up, and often limited myself to peanut butter and jelly. In my adult life, I do from time to time enjoy a sandwich, with the following constraints.

Bread: The foundation of any good sandwich will be the bread. I try to stick to artisan bread (for this sandwich I used a rustic olive batard), and I always toast it before assembling. Even if I plan on eating my sandwich cold or at room temperature, I find this step is crucial to protect the crispness of the bread.

Spread: As you know, I am a conscientious objector to mayonnaise. As such, I find it helpful to use my oil-free pesto as a replacement. I have also been known to smash up an artichoke. The spread is important because it helps keep the bread from getting soggy, and once you’ve gone through all the trouble of toasting it, wouldn’t it be a shame to throw that all away?

Size: If you are used to a subway sandwich, you are completely off. 5 inches of bread, max.

Topping Ratio: Never make a sandwich so big that it doesn’t fit in your mouth. If you need to, you can hollow out the bread a little bit and fill it with your sandwich core.

Vegan Cinco de Mayo

I was never a huge fan of Mexican food, and would eat it every once in a while, despite living at the epicenter of Americanized-Mexican food. Most Mexican restaurants put chicken stock and/or cheese in just about everything, and I had no problem giving them up when I went vegan. However, sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. As a result, when Cinco de Mayo started looming closer, I started thinking about a taco night. I was planning on being at work pretty late tonight, so I celebrated Cinco de Mayo eve last night. Please note that in some regions, it is referred to as Quatro de Mayo, and some may just know it by it’s more commonly occurring instance: Taco Tuesday. I enlisted the help of a talented and capable sous chef to help bring my vision into being.
Trader Joe’s has great fat-free vegan refried beans, and we jazzed them up by heating them and then mixing in about a quarter cup of cheddar daiya. They may look a little weird coming out of the can, and fresh beans would always be preferable, but as a quick side dish, they cannot be topped. Unless of course, you are also making Spanish rice. Usually I will cook brown rice in vegetable stock, but last night I also cheated and used pre-cooked brown rice, which I mixed with some sauteed onions, garlic, vegetable broth, and half a can of crushed tomatoes. We just set that on medium heat and let the liquid cook off. We took quite a few shortcuts last night, but I feel like we illustrated a very important point: it is possible to cook a quick and healthy dinner on a week night. Plus, it was delicious.
I rounded out the menu with mushroom tacos, home-made pico de gallo, and guacamole. My guacamole recipe is very simple. Take an avocado and mash it with a tablespoon of lime juice and a touch of garlic salt. That’s all you need. Avocado is delicious on it’s own, and if you think you need to muck it up with a bunch of other things, you are sadly mistaken. If you need to be fancy, you can garnish it with a sprig of cilantro. Otherwise, you can find an outlet for your fancy cooking by referring to the recipe that follows.

Mushroom Tacos

  • 1 container of white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TBSP red chili powder
  • 2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • 1/4 c. vegetable broth

In a sautee pan or wok, stir together the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and vegetable broth. Bring the pot to medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Home-made Pico de Gallo
here’s a chance to show off your fancy knife skills, or to just make a mess of things

  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a green pepper, diced
  • 2 TBSP. minced onions
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro
  • pinch of sea salt

Prep your vegetables and toss in a bowl with the lime.
Remove the leaves from the cilantro and chop into small pieces. Toss in with the vegetables and season with sea salt to taste.

Tofu Scramble

This morning I woke up and had an intense craving for tofu scramble. I have done some recipe research on it  in the past, but never gotten around to making it. Usually I want something sweet for breakfast: pancakes, french toast, or even just an english muffin with peanut butter, but every once in a blue moon I want something salty and with a little heat.
I luckily had all the ingredients on hand for my tofu scramble, except for onions. Somehow I never seem to have onions in the house when I need them, and when I do have them in the house, they go bad because I don’t use them. Luckily it was a Saturday morning and the farmers market was in full swing across the street. I threw on my sneakers and my members only jacket and “rolled out” as I like to call it when I leave the house looking like an abonimable snowman in the morning. I am NOT a pretty sight to wake up to in the morning, in case you were wondering. I got to pay a visit to my favorite farmer, a Brit who sells Spanish Onions, which are smaller than regular onions and thus the perfect size for my table-for-one lifestyle. I came home and put together my scramble. I’ll be honest, it was a little off. I think that the nutritional yeast plus the daiya just gave it too strong of a flavor, so I adjusted the measurements before posting it below. That’s right, readers, I do all of the mis-adventuring so that you don’t have to.

Tofu Scramble

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 oz of tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 4 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen spinach (take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes early, but it doesn’t have to be totally defrosted)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 oz. cheddar-flavored daiya
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and sautee the onions for 2 minutes over high heat. 
  2. Crumble in your tofu. Don’t mash it completely, just crumble it until it resembles scrambled eggs. Turn the stove on to high and add the mushrooms and spinach.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the garlic powder, salt, cumin, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce. Stir well.
  5. Add the water, you may need more or less depending on how much water was in the tofu when you started.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. 
  7. Turn off the head and stir in the shredded daiya cheese until melted. 

Serve with tortillas, over toast, or with hash browns. I went with the hash browns and a nice cup of Sumatra coffee with almond milk. This recipe serves 2 people at about 210 calories each, or just one very hungry person

Black Bean Burgers
Every vegan loves a good veggie burger, right? Wrong! Most veggie burgers have eggs or cheese hidden in them and are not, in fact, vegan. Most vegan burgers are soy patties made from imitation meat. So what do you do when all you want is to sink your teeth into a delicious veggie burger, but still want to maintain the purity of your temple? Simple, you take matters into your own hands. I love black beans and I love veggie burgers, so it made a lot of sense to combine the two into an absolutely delicious fiber-rich dinner. I served my veggie burgers with daiya cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and lettuce on an english muffin. You could also just serve them over some brown rice or quinoa.

A quick note: Check your breadcrumbs! I used panko because they are the most reliably vegan.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 tsp. of egg replacer mixed with 2 TBSP. water
  • 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
  • quarter of a red pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Mash 3/4 of the beans with the ener-g until it forms a thick paste.
  2. Add vegetables, spices, and bread crumbs and mix well.
  3. Take 1/4 of the mixture and form it into a thick patty in the palm of your hand, you will flatten it after you put it into the pan.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  5. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high and spray with nonstick cooking spray
  6. Place the burgers into the pan, pressing down with the back of a spatula until they are about 1/2″ thick. Make sure that there is plenty of room in between the burgers, and that their edges don’t touch. This will get them nice and crispy.
  7. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until you get a nice crust on one side, and flip, cooking for an additional 4 minutes.
  8. Serve on english muffins, hamburger buns, over rice, and with any condiments that you desire.
yields 4 burgers at 110 calories each
Daiya, Daiya, Daiya

Daiya cheese is , from what I can tell, one of the hottest new vegan trends. Any place that is serious about making vegan pizza carries daiya.  Whole Foods sells it both as blocks and shredded. There are countless blog posts about it. Hell, they even have it in my hometown of Belmar, NJ.  When I tell people I’m transitioning to veganism, and they actually know what that means, one of the first things they mention is daiya. It’s pretty easy to feel like daiya is your pretty, popular, older sister who is dating the big man on campus, and that you are just a shy kind of awkward middle sister. But, before you go out and buy an unflattering black afro wig, let me share a secret with you. The reason why everyone is talking about it is because it is THAT good.

Daiya is a cheese that is free of soy, casein, gluten, egg, and even nuts. It melts to a deliciously gooey consistency. And it has less fat than regular cheese and no cholesterol. One of the reasons why I stopped at 28 days of veganism (the first time around) was my dislike of most soy cheeses. I was stocking up on Follow Your Heart mozarella for my pizza, but it just wasn’t doing the job. If I had only had the foresight to buy daiya from Whole Foods and stock it at home, I don’t think I would have ever run into that problem. They make an italian blend and a cheddar, which means that you can use a daiya replacement for just about any dish involving cheese: lasagna, pizza, tacos, fondue (I would use the italian), and my favorite: macaroni and cheeze.
I’ve been making baked macaroni and cheese for years, so I improvised a recipe that made a pretty filling meal for one. I’m always on the lookout for good weeknight meals for one, because I am single, I live alone, and I’m on my way to turning into a crazy cat lady. This was a great comfort food meal and a perfect end to a very looooong day.

Rotini and Daiya

  • 1/4 c. unsweetened soy milk (it’s very important to use unsweetened when you are cooking)
  • 1/3 c. shredded cheddar daiya
  • 1/4 tsp. earth balance
  • 1 tsp, flour
  • pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • dash of garlic powder
  • breadcrumbs
  1. Boil a pot of water and add pasta. Cook for 5 minutes until just tender.
  2. Transfer to a baking dish and add the daiya, mix well.
  3. Return the empty pot to heat and melt the earth balance. Add pepper and garlic powder and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add soy milk and flour and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly.
  5. Pour hot milk over the pasta and stir well. Sprinkle with a handful of breadcrumbs.
  6. Pop into a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs brown. I left mine in for 10 minutes and it was a little darker than I had hoped.
Easy Daiya "Quesa"dilla

The quotation marks are to appease a certain smart-ass coworker of mine who claims that the word vegan quesadilla is an oxymoron.
By now it’s no surprise that I am a big advocate of Daiya cheese. This tapioca-based wonder tastes so good, that I would choose it over regular cheese any day. Lately, I’ve been experimenting a lot with Mexican Food, which is weird because I never used to really care for it. Vegan mexican food is like the holy grail, because most Mexican restaurants are not very vegan friendly. Pure Luck in East Hollywood has a to-die-for burrito, but I have yet to find a vegan quesadilla anywhere but in my very own kitchen. I punch up this quesadilla with sauteed mushrooms, roasted corn, and some garlic salsa. It’s very, very easy to make and a great pack-ahead lunch for work.

2 corn tortillas
1 oz. vegan cheddar cheese (I like daiya because it’s pre-shredded)
3 medium sized mushrooms
1/4 c. frozen corn
1 Tbsp. of your favorite salsa

Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place the first quesadilla inside. Layer half the cheese, vegetables, salsa, and then the rest of the cheese. Place the second quesadilla on top and press down gently.
Cook 2-3 minutes each side over medium heat, or until cheese is melted.

When The Moon Hits Your Eye

Since the revolution (which is how I refer to me becoming a vegetarian), I have been bringing my own lunch to work almost every day. Sometimes, my co-workers get lunch envy, and nothing gets them gathered around and asking questions like when I show up with a home-made vegan pizza.
Now, I am from New Jersey, which means I know more about pizza than you do and I make better pizza than you ever will. I spent a summer working at Vesuvio’s Italian restaurant in Belmar, NJ, where they made some of the best thin crust pizza I’ve ever tasted.  I picked up a thing or two while working there, and now you, gentle reader, get to reap the benefits.

Step 1: The Dough
Now, the reason why New York, Boston, and New Jersey have the best pizza in the world is supposedly in the water. However, the real reason why it’s a thousand times better than those Papa Huts and Pizza Johns is that the crust is rolled out until it is as thin as possible. A good slice of pizza is a 1-to-1 ratio between crust, sauce, and cheese. That being said, you can recreate some of that pizza magic in your own kitchen by just taking the time roll out your dough to the proper thickness.
I like to use Trader Joes’ pizza dough in whole wheat, although their garlic and herb is also very tasty. They sell it refridgerated in big bags, and I will bring it home and freeze individual servings of dough. When it’s time to make a pizza, I defrost my dough and then roll it out onto a cutting board with plenty of whole wheat flour. You should knead it a few times before gently stretching the dough in your hands until it is no more than 1/4″ thick. Be liberal with your flour, because the dusting of whole wheat on the bottom of the pizza is really going to make your crust.

Step 2: The Sauce
A good pizza sauce should be very, very thin. One shortcut that I use sometimes is to take canned tomato paste and mix it with a little bit of water and some spices. Another real shortcut is probably to just buy the stuff in a jar. Either way, you want to get a nice thin layer of sauce on top of your dough.

Step 3: The Garlic
I’ll usually mince two cloves of garlic and sprinkle them on top of my sauce layer. I eat a lot of garlic.  It probably really sucks to kiss me, but I’m selfish so I really don’t care. I’m going to continue to eat as much garlic as I want. It’s a natural antibiotic. It’s good for your cardiovascular system.It has antioxidants. I’m worth it.

Step 4: The Cheese
When making a vegan pizza, you have a few options. One is Follow Your Heart Mozarella, a soy-based cheese that actually melts. Another is Daiya cheese, wich is tapioca based and featured at Pizza Fusion (in Santa Monica and San Diego). A third option is to forgoe cheese altogether and just sprinkle a pinch of nutritional yeast over your sauce and top with a bunch of veggies. My favorite is the Italian Daiya, which you can probably get at Whole Foods, I know that we can out here.

Step 5: Toppings
This is a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have lying around in your fridge. My favorite pizza topping is frozen spinach, which I will defrost and saute in a little bit of cooking spray before topping my pizza. Another good option is to use mushrooms, which are especially nice if you are foregoing cheese altogether. I also love fresh basil, but can never seem to use an entire package of it, so I rarely keep it on hand. I’ve had great success with Tofurkey’s sausage. Check the label very carefully, because they only have one vegan variety.

When I was in college, we had a Wolfgang Puck Express in the middle of campus, and I cannot tell you how many times I had their pesto and sausage pizza for lunch. No wonder why my jeans didn’t fit. I have recreated the flavor combination, though, by using a low fat vegan pesto, soy cheese, “sausage”, and fresh tomato slices. It’s absolutely amazing, and sometimes it’s fun to go wild and use something other than classic tomato sauce.