Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Vegan Yeast Gravy Will Rock Your Meat-Eating Socks

I woke up craving vegan yeast gravy.

(I know, that sounds just the tiniest bit dirty.)

Vegan yeast gravy, made with nutritional yeast flakes (available in bulk at your health food store, also ideal on popcorn), is one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth.

My friend Laurel's mom (a silver fox!) always made it for their healthy brown-rice-and-vegetable dinners when she was in grade school (and still does), transforming a fairly bland, ordinary meal into a luxe, creamy, salty-good delight.

I recently visited Laurel and her own little nuclear family. After hitting a local farm for incredible Jersey tomatoes, the absolute freshest, greenest, loveliest okra I have ever met, creamy farm cheeses, and honeycrisp apples, we cobbled together a delicious late summer dinner.

(First we ate a bunch of apple cider doughnuts at the farm. Let's call that the appetizer course.)

Laurel and her husband (who holds the distinction of pulling off one of the finest senior year pranks our high school ever did see) are primarily vegetarian, so while it wasn't surprising, it was VERY EXCITING TO ME that the leftovers rattling around the fridge included a half-pot of -- that's right -- the magical yeast gravy of yore! (It reheats beautifully over low heat with rewhisking.)

So here I am, craving vegan yeast gravy and it's 8am. So I go for it.

You want to go for it? Here's how.

Pat's Vegan Yeast Gravy

1. First, toast 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup nutritional yeast in a skillet/frying pan. NOT BREWER'S YEAST! Even though it says so in the photo. I was not raised on health foods! So sometimes I get confused. Laurel assures me that brewer's yeast is thoroughly nasty tasting. I prefer not to find out for myself!

Then transfer to a smaller, higher-sided saucepan. (You don't have to, but it's better -- if you're willing to wash another dish.)

2. Add 1/3 cup oil (safflower or other veg oil)

3. Start whisking! Add, slowly, 2 to 2 1/2 cups liquid, either veggie stock or water (preferably heated). Whisk fast!

4. Sprinkle some cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika to taste.

5. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup good tamari to taste. Whisk whisk!

By now your gravy should be glossy and velvety thick, easily coating and clinging to a spoon. YUM!!

Serve over anything resembling rice and vegetables. Me, I made some brown rice and sauteed some yellow squash and green tomato slices in my cast iron.

Garnish with something acidic like fresh garden heirloom tomatoes (these are some Black from Tula and Jaune Flammes!)

Sprinkle with gomasio and you're good to go!

What is gomasio? Roasted sesame seeds and sea salt, pulverized in a food processor or blender until coarse. SO GOOD. Not sure of the ratio so you'll want to Google it. We keep ours in the fridge for long life and happiness.

One caveat: This gravy ends up tasting remarkably like fried chicken, despite being completely vegan/vegetarian.

Now, I LOVE fried chicken, so I'm super into it. But my sweetie, he eschews meat as well as anything that tastes meaty, so I have a feeling it's not going to float his boat*. But we'll see at dinner! Cause I'm going to eat this again. Tonight.

*The gravy passed muster with gusto. I've made it 4 times in the last 2 weeks and the sweetie loves it so much he actually sneaks and sips it like soup from his spoon after "accidentally" ladling "too much" onto his plate.

photos: TB

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bigBANG studio's Roasted Ginger Carrots: YUM!

This NYC/Joshua Tree artist's blog is great; just learned of it today. Can't wait to make these ginger roasted carrots!

Photo from bigBANG studio's post (with the *painfully* easy recipe), here.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Learning to Love the Biggest Nut in the Barrel

What to do with a big bag of Brazil nuts that no one wants to eat? Make pesto!

I had bought 2-3 cups of shelled Brazil nuts in bulk for my sweetie as a special treat, as he had mentioned that he and his brothers used to fight over the Brazil nuts whenever they were lucky enough to encounter nut mix as kids.

When I presented this big bag of specially acquired nuts to him (kept in the freezer to ward off rancidity), he did not seem thrilled. In fact, he revealed that he doesn't really even like Brazil nuts. The light bulb went off; I had misunderstood his childhood tale.

Just because a young boy fights over the biggest nut in the barrel doesn't mean he goes ape for them as an adult. And I think we can all agree that Brazil nuts just haven't ever really been that tantalizing.


First, roast them at 350 or so for a good 20-30 minutes, monitoring closely so they don't burn. They really take a good long while to roast thoroughly!
(While Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium and are only wild-collected for international trade [a good thing for the forests], they also contain the most saturated fat of any nut, more than macadamias, even! Don't tell your trainer.) 

Then rub the skins off, preferably in a hand-printed tea towel by my friend Gina Pericini, whose super affordable Flock Home Linens are featured in the September issue of InStyle Magazine. (Woot woot!)

Next, get a mess of fresh basil.

(Very) loosely following the pesto recipe from the Silver Spoon cookbook (gifted to me, so graciously, by my friend Wendy), but subbing in brazil nuts for pine nuts of course, throw the following in a food processor:

(I tripled the recipe, roughly)
- 75 basil leaves
- 1 cup so or Brazil nuts
- 1/2 cup+ olive oil
- generous salt
- 1 cup or so shredded or grated parmesan cheese

That's right, friends. No garlic! Doesn't even need it. (Note the sweet spatula I got as swag at a food writers' event at the new International Culinary School in San Francisco -- a sweet facility at the Art Institute of California that deserves some PR!)

And there you have it: a voluptuous Brazil nut pesto that tastes very much like regular pine nut pesto, but with a tad more oomph.

I tossed a half cup of this stuff with a half package of hot, freshly boiled spaghetti noodles and handed it to my sweetie.

It was devoured in moments!

Turns out he likes Brazil nuts just fine.


p.s. Notice that awesome vintage glass storage dish in the photo above? I had been looking for some of these forever, ever since loving/coveting the ones my friend Tali uses, and then my awesome stepmom called me up recently (not knowing a thing about my ongoing search) and told me she'd found some groovy vintage glass storage containers at a garage sale that she thought I might like.

Um, how awesome is that?

photos: TB