Vegan Pizza Soup

April 8, 2011
pizza soup

Everything in pizza, except the dough, in soup form

Pizza Soup

I served this soup without telling my guests what it was. Since the menu was “Illusion Food,” everything was supposed to look like one thing, but actually be something else. So this looked like a blended tomato-vegetable soup and grilled bread triangles, but it had a very familiar flavor. I made them guess what it was.

Everything you’d put in pizza (except the crust) goes into this soup, so it’s no wonder it tastes like it. I served it with wedges of pizza dough, rolled into circles, cut into 12 wedges per circle, then cooked on a grill pan until each side had grill marks. It reminded everyone of pita bread wedges, although they weren’t puffed up at all.

Yes, eventually someone guessed what it was. “P..p…pepperoni pizza!” she cried.

How did I get the pepperoni flavor without using pepperoni or any meat? I used the spices: fennel seed and black pepper. Those, along with the garlic, basil and oregano that would normally be in the pizza sauce, gave it enough of a pepperoni taste to pass.

The nutritional yeast is there for the “cheese,” but if you aren’t vegan, you could use real grated cheese, I’m guessing. Add it just before serving, after you’ve blended the soup.

Recipe: Vegan “Pepperoni” Pizza Soup

3 TBS olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 TBS chopped garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 4 tsp dried basil
2 TBS chopped fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 can whole olives, sliced, or one of those small cans of chopped olives
8 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped

2 cups water
6 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS sugar

Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrot in oil 10 minutes. Add all ingredients except water, yeast and sugar. Cover and cook 30 minutes, until carrots are completely soft and the flavors have blended.

Blend in batches in a blender. (NOTE: Keep the blender lid partially off, and cover it with a cloth. Do NOT completely cover your blender when blending hot liquids. The mixture can explode, burning you and creating a huge mess!)

You can also use an immersion blender if you have one, to blend the mixture.

Add water and nutritional yeast, and sugar, if desired. You might not need the sugar, depending on the sweetness of the other vegetables.


An April Fool’s Birthday Party: Illusion Food

April 7, 2011
vegan meat loaf

Vegan "meat loaf" cake and "ice cream"

This year, we celebrated my friend’s birthday with a party on April Fool’s Day, April 1. It was the perfect time to try out my menu of Illusion Foods.

Some years ago, on a Food Network television show called Dinner Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine was invited to a magician’s convention in Las Vegas. His mission was to create a dinner menu of Illusion Foods.

In other words, each dish had to look like one thing, but taste like something else. He served a soup that tasted like Ceasar Salad and another soup that tasted like pizza.

With the help of chemicals like xanthan gum and liquid nitrogen, he mutated mango and chocolate to create Dessert Nachos.

He cut tortillas into triangles, baked them, and sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar. Chocolate and some chemicals were frozen and blended to create “ground beef.”

Grated “cheese” for the nachos were made with mangoes and some other chemical that allowed it to stay somewhat pliable when frozen and grated. And the “salsa” was sauce made from strawberries and cherries.

Inspired by that show, I came up with a vegan version of his Illusion Food menu. I used the pizza soup idea and served it with grilled triangles of pizza dough.

vegan pizza soup

Vegan Pizza Soup

(Sorry, no photo of the bread. The reality of food blogging is that you often eat all the food before you remember to take a picture!)

Salad was in the shape of a centipede. I used carrot sticks for legs, and cut pieces of red bell pepper for head and stingers on the tail. The antennae were made from the tips of tiny green onions.

centipede salad

Centipede Salad--not for the faint of heart!

I should have put it on a different platter, so you could see the colors better, but you get the idea.

The main course was Cake, Ice Cream, and Sauce. The birthday girl exclaimed, when it was presented, “raspberry sauce!”

vegan meat loaf

Savory cake, ice cream, and raspberry sauce--not!

The “cake” is a vegan “meat” loaf made from nuts, vegetables, and bread, baked. The “filling” and “frosting” is a cauliflower puree.

Scoops of “ice cream” were actually mashed potatoes, and the “raspberry sauce” was a beet sauce.

Dessert had to be birthday cake and ice cream, so I tried my hand at fondant for the first time, using a vegan fondant recipe.

I cut and decorated the cake to look like a chameleon. Vegan ginger ice cream was frozen in candy molds in the shape of fish.

chameleon cake with vegan fondant

Chameleon Cake with vegan fondant and Vegan Ice Cream Fish

The party was a hit, although it did somewhat confuse one of my older friends. It’s kind of like when you see a white person speaking fluent Chinese…the image in front of you, and the image of what it’s supposed to look like don’t quite match.

So eating ice cream and cake that taste like meat loaf and mashed potatoes was a little discombobulating. But still delicious!


Vegan Spicy Peanut Dip/Sauce

April 7, 2011
vegan spicy peanut dip or sauce

Vegan Peanut Dip or Sauce

Spicy Peanut Dip/Sauce

This is kind of like Indonesian satay sauce, but without the coconut milk. It’s easier to make than the traditional version, because we are starting with peanut butter instead of raw peanuts. I used creamy, but chunky will work as well.

There is a mixture of sweet, salty, sour and spicy, along with a creamy richness from the peanut butter. You can adjust the spiciness to your taste. The recipe as written is on the mild side.

It works great as a dip for crudite, and I mixed the leftovers with sautéed vegetables and served them with rice. You can sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top for garnish.

Vegan Spicy Peanut Dip/Sauce

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 TBS shoyu
4 TBS brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 TBS apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 TBS toasted sesame oil (optional)

Mix together all ingredients. Using hot water helps to soften the peanut butter and makes it easier to mix.

Note:
This was served at Ray’s memorial service at the arboretum. The other recipes can be found also, including Black Bean Dip, Broccoli Salad, Pea Salad, and Vegan Tofu-Spinach Dip.


Black Bean Dip

March 6, 2011
vegan black bean dip

Vegan Black Bean Dip

I had forgotten about making this recipe in a normal-sized batch, and a friend reminded me today about it. So I apologize for the delay.

Yes, this is the dip that was served at Ray Baker’s memorial at the arboretum.

(If you want the dip with the hoisin sauce and lots of garlic, that’s the Asian Black Bean Dip recipe you want.

If you want the other memorial food recipes, so far I have:
Broccoli Salad
Vegan Tofu Spinach Dip
Frozen Pea Salad (with or without feta)
Russian-Korean Carrot Salad)

This black bean dip is quick to make and extremely healthy, full of fiber and antioxidants. You can adjust the cayenne to taste, or use fresh or canned chiles or chipotles or chipotle powder instead. It has a mild chile hit to it as it is.

I haven’t tried it with other beans yet, but my guess is it would be just as tasty with other types, such as kidney or pinto beans, and possibly garbanzos, too.

Here is the recipe. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think if you try this yourself.

Vegan Black Bean Dip

3 TBS canola oil
1-1/4 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1 can (11 oz) corn, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
3 TBS apple cider vinegar

Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and corn in oil until onions and bell peppers are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add to blender or food processor with the other ingredients. Blend.

Serve with tortilla chips or crudite. Makes 3 cups dip.


Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad With Cranberries

January 11, 2011
vegan broccoli cranberry salad

Easy, Crowd-Pleasing, Vegan Broccoli-Cranberry Salad

Here is another one of those easy, basically dump-and-mix salad recipes. It’s a broccoli salad with cranberries or raisins, that you can make vegan very easily. I started with a popular recipe by Paula Deen, famous food celebrity.

Then I read some of the many comments and tried some of them out. All the variations I tried seemed to come out well.

The salad is a lovely mix of crunchy, creamy, salty, sour and sweet. You can substitute other dried fruits, such as dates or raisins, for the cranberries. You can use different nuts. We used pecans in some batches and almonds in others, when we made food for a memorial service and started with 24 pounds of broccoli florets.

We made some with the carrots, and some without, when we thought we had run out of carrots. I had brought liquid smoke, intending to add it in place of the bacon bits or vegetarian, fake bacon bits, but I forgot to add it. So it’s quite a versatile salad.

It has been very well received whenever I’ve served it, too. Even a friend, who doesn’t care for raw onions, ate it and didn’t complain.

You can make it vegan by using vegan mayonnaise and vegetarian bacon bits. With the combination of vegetables, nuts and fruits, the salad packs a nice wallop of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, too.

You could go through the trouble of blanching the broccoli if you find it too hard. But I prefer the less-work method, and it’s not necessary. Hey, you burn more calories when you chew more!

Here’s the recipe.

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad

4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 stalks)
1 cup minced sweet onion
2 carrots, grated
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup vegetarian bacon bits
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together.

The only complaints about this broccoli salad I heard were from those who were making it. We were using warehouse club bags of already cut broccoli florets, and dumped and mixed them with the other ingredients.

“This broccoli is too big!” and “How are they going to eat it–with their hands?” is what I heard them saying. “Aren’t we going to cut it smaller?” “Aren’t we blanching it?”

“NO!” I said. “We don’t have time.” We had hundreds of pounds of food to make, and no time to waste cutting or blanching broccoli.

“If anyone has a problem with the food, they can come talk to me,” I said.

Of course, I couldn’t help teasing them when we ate some for dinner that night. “Where is the quality control around here? WHO is in charge of this food? Look at this broccoli tree on my plate! Don’t choke on it!”

I guess you can’t please everyone.

But they had a point. The floret I had was the size of my palm. I cut it with a knife before eating it. So if you cut the florets yourself, be as meticulous as you so desire.

I hope you enjoy this Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad With Cranberries recipe. Let me know if you try other variations and how they turn out.


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