Horta = Vegetable. Hortamatic = Traditional recipe gone veganized goodness.

Showing posts with label appetizer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appetizer. Show all posts

November 24, 2010

Creamy Spinach Basket Dip

They were all out of round bread baskets.

Intros and Inspirations

At one point probably already mentioned on this blog I thought it would be a grand idea to make all foods with edible containers. Off the top of my head, this already includes burritos, taco salads, spring rolls, pot pies, pizza, and….spinach dip in bread baskets. I also recall an edible bamboo basket at Seattle’s vegan restaurant Bamboo Garden. Zero waste and 100% filling? It’s very utilitarian.

Utility aside, I love to eat a damned good spinach dip. I’m especially keen on the fact that, as a friend exclaimed, “You can’t even taste the spinach!”

History of Dish

My rule to spend two seconds searching for food item history did not yield results for the origin of spinach dip, so I am going to opine the following:

Spinach is yucky. If you hide it in cream and fat and salt, you will not notice this trait as you eat it and you will absorb a lot of iron.


One bowl o’ spinach dip enough for bread basket.


Mix together in bowl:

  • 8 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 5 stocks celery, chopped/minced
  • 1 leek, minced
  • ½ cup Bac’Uns
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetarian “chicken” broth powder

Blend in mixer/blender:

  • 1 tub Tofutti sour cream
  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

Add the blended mix to the other mix, and stir together.

Cut out a hole from the top of either a round or regular loaf of bread as pictured. Chop up the cut outs for dipping.

Place spinach dip into the bread hole and you’re finished. Serve with Ritz-style crackers (we buy the generic Whole Foods brand).


This one is a potlucker, meaning it might take the place of my seitan at future parties, for awhile. Delicious, smoky, smooth, creamy, lovely iron.

July 10, 2010

Seitan '10 or 麵筋

Seitan! (as seen on My Carolina Today.)

Intros and Inspirations

I guess I've been making seitan too long since I had to think about where my homemade seitan process began. I found a recipe online and adapted it. This is for certain: the need arose out of thriftiness. Some might say cheap-skate-ness. It's a heck of a lot more economical to make your own, and quite easy. This recipe will cost you about $4.50 for a couple pounds, or .56 per serving. That's crazy!

Since seitan is made from the protein part of the wheat (gluten) it is extremely high in protein. As with all non-animal products, it's cholesterol free.

Finally, it's tasty as all heck and holds up great whether BBQ'd, skewered, or stir-fried. I believe that we as a culture are just at the tip of the seitanic iceberg and more variations are forthcoming. If you have any, feel free to post them below.

My previous recipe called “Saved by Seitan” featuring Chef Shirle and Phil & Brad of Megafaun is also available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-XJjQip44M

This version is not too dissimilar: based on inspiration from this Vegan Sausage recipe I added some friendly Garbanzo Bean (Chickpea) Flour to the mix and reduced the salt.

History of Dish

From Wikipedia:

Wheat gluten...is believed to have originated in ancient China, as a meat substitute for adherents of Buddhism....One story attributes the invention of imitation meat to chefs who made it for Chinese emperors who, traditionally, observed a week of vegetarianism each year.”

It is the stuff of royalty!

Yield and Pre-heat

Eight 'servings' of about ½ cup each.

Order of preparation: Start your stock, then stir your dry ingredients together while the stock heats.



  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Add to broth: fresh sage, garlic, onion...or whatever spices float your gluten boat


  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Redmill – available in the health sections of most stores)
  • ½ cup chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
  • ¼ nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 T ground pepper


  1. Put all the “broth” ingredients in a large pot (I use a cast-iron cauldren) and set heat to medium-high to begin heating.

  2. Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients with a fork.

  3. Once almost boiling, reduce heat to simmer/low.

  4. Scoop out 11/2 to 2 cups broth and add to the dry mixture and stir with your fork as the broth might be too hot (It will be hard to handle with a fork and you will need to switch to clean-hand kneading in a moment.)

  5. Knead by pulling the dough almost apart and together, folding in on itself (see the video if needed). You can also punch it. The idea is to get it very elastic and firm, or as Phil said, “brain-like.” Most recipes call for 5 minutes kneading, but I usually knead for 2-3 minutes only until the desired firmness is achieved and the dough is a big ball.

  6. Once consistency is reached, tear the ball in half. Carefully drop each half into the now-hot broth.

  7. Make sure the heat is turned to low so it just simmers.

  8. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then flip. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes.


Since it's summertime, lately I've been going the easy route with these suckers. Once boiled, let it cool and drip-dry in a sieve. Then, cut the seitan ball into small shishkabob pieces, and marinade in your favorite BBQ sauce. Skewer, then place in aluminum foil to BBQ. Right before it's ready, seer on the grill for those pretty lines. This way it won't dry out. Or you can baste them and not use the foil as a random 4th of July party-goer suggested.

Another favorite is to coat them in a mixture of oat flour, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast, then lightly fry in a cast-iron pan. Delicious coating almost like Shake-n-Bake. Which should be the standard of excellence for all foods.


I interrupted Rob's practice to ask him to pose for these seitan shots.

With the flash on:

And off:

Another happy customer.

Rob post-bite and prior to throwing seitan chunks across the room after one too many takes of this pose.

Also brought this new version out at parties, and it's a hit. Whether or not the praise is statistically significant is a debate for another blog....or up to you. I'd love to hear your variations. Post them below if you'd like. I want to figure out a way to make seitan have fatty pockets. Any discoveries of how to do this would be worth 1,000 drachmas.

April 25, 2010

Better'n Chicken Salad Tangy Wraps

The picture does not convey the yumness. This is because I made 240 of these and photography was not a strong point by 10 pm when I finished all the chopping, mixing, and wrapping.

From the Delight Soy site.

Intros and Inspirations

The Earth Day Festival, Durham, NC. Chickens. Connection between diet & planet. The Delight Soy “I cannot believe it's not chicken” patties (pictured above) owned/distributed by nice folks (pictured below) from Morrisville.

The owners of Delight Soy of Morrisville. They are like celebrities. Or, as I mentioned to them, drug dealers (if drugs are Delight Soy patties).

History of Dish

I had never made Chicken Salad, vegan or otherwise, ever. But I kind of had a feeling that anything you do with the delicious Delight Soy patties could not go wrong. Except maybe making soy sundaes with them.

After a few searches on the web, I did not find any recipes that looked good to me, but did get the gist of what goes into Chicken Salad, and used these ideas to create this version.

I made about 240 to give away for free at the Earth Day Festival. Huge thanks to VegFund for sponsoring the giveaway, which included literature from Vegan Outreach and Compassion Over Killing as well.

"Free samples?"

I actually stood during most of the event from 12-5. Martyr points, check.

I've reduced the recipe here for normal household use.


About 15 burrito-size wraps, or 60 bite-sized, depending on amount of filling placed in the wrap and the size of the wrap. And how much you eat while you're making this delicious mix.

Ingredients / Mixing/Blending

Chop finely:

  • 4 cups Soy Delight brand “chicken” patties*
  • 5 green onions (scallions)
  • 6 stalks celery
  • ½ cup red bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill

Mix together:

  • ½ cup sweet relish
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 cup Vegenaise* (add another 1/2 cup if you prefer very creamy)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

Combine the chopped ingredients with the above mix. Spread on bread for a sandwich, or wrap up in a tortilla.

* Both Soy Delight patties and Vegenaise are available at the Whole Foods Market.


Festival goers enjoying the wraps. Even the kids loved them.

I could not believe how well these were received. Many people found us after others had told them how good they were. Folks could not believe they were not actually chicken. Most wanted the recipe, which is another reason I'm posting it here.

Special note to Durham restaurants: carry this product!


Several versions online contained scary things like raisins. Add at your own peril! Spicy chipotle powder would be a delicious addition.


Best summarized by one attendee, who said: “If this ain't chicken, then what's in my mouth?”

Rob Beloved with his tray and soy chicken wrap love.

Special thanks to those who helped hand out literature as well, and to everyone who tried a sample.

January 23, 2010

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

Intros and Inspirations

When I lived in Seattle, there was this wonderful vegan restaurant called The Globe. The food might have been even more delicious due to the long delay that typically preceded it; I remember sometimes waiting up to an hour as my breakfast became brunch.

It was at The Globe that I first began my appreciation of biscuits* in the form of their deliciously popular Biscuits & Gravy dish I'd wait for every weekend. When something is this delicious, why not try and make it at home? (The following recipe is only biscuits: Biscuits & Gravy will be a separate post someday.)

* It was also at the Globe where I learned that not all poetry should be read aloud. Or shared, in general.

History of Dish

According to foodreference.com, the first biscuits were cooked twice (“bis” = twice and “cuit” = cooked in French). They were very hard and called “stone bread” during the time of Louis XIV. Soldiers and sailors at biscuits, then used them as weapons. OK, I made up that very last bit. Britannia has a slight different take on their origins, tracing biscuits to Roman times, claiming the name to be Latin-derived. The same soldiers and sailors ate them, as they would last for many days onboard ships without spoiling.

Yield and Pre-heat

12 biscuits. Pre-heat to 425 degrees farenheit.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour (optional: use whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening (see below)
  • ¾ cup soy milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


  • Place the soy milk and vinegar together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Stir all the dry ingredients together with a fork.
  • Cut in the shortening with a fork, pastry cutter, and/or your fingers, until the mixture is grainy and most of the larger lumps of shortening are gone. Some small lumps remain, which make nice pockets of fat for you later!
  • Add the soy milk mixture and stir in with a fork, then knead together with your hands to make a sticky ball of dough. You should still be able to handle the dough.
  • Flatten 1/3 of a section onto a lightly floured plate, to about ½ inch thick.
  • Cut out biscuit shapes, and place on baking sheet (I used stoneware). For these biscuits, I used my star, flower, and roundish cookie cutters.


Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.

Pre-baked biscuits in fun shapes so you eat more of them.


These are just begging for some Earth Balance melted on top of them.

Mrs. Pac-man biscuit with a bite


Depending on what they are accompanying, you can also make sweet or savory biscuits. To make sweet, add a Tablespoon of sugar and some cinnamon. For savory, add your favorite spices such as oregano or sage.


Fluffy, melty, just-right-crumbly biscuits for any occasion. Especially with greens if you are in the South like I am.

January 8, 2010

Jalapeno Poppers

Intros and Inspirations

Denny's, circa 1980's. Besides ordering these on the night menu of Denny's, I had no idea how to make a popper, let alone a vegan version. Therefore, I used Cashew Cheese Technology1 along with a traditional popper recipe2 and was beyond satisfied with the results. (All that remains from the traditional recipe cited is the breading method and addition of “bacon” bits.)

History of Dish

According to Wikipedia, the origins are unclear but poppers are thought to be 2nd cousins with chile rellenos. Apparently there was a family feud in the 70's and they parted. There is also a note about the label “poppers” being trademarked, so if you see me rename this post to, say, 'pops' or 'moppers' this would be the reason.


Makes 32 poppers.


Advanced preparation alert: Cover the cashews and almonds in ¾ cup water overnight or at least 4 hours. The water will be used in the recipe.


  • ¾ cup raw cashews & ¼ cup raw almonds + remaining water from soaking (initially ¾ cup)
  • ½ cup firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • ½ T agave or other sweetener
  • 1 T tahini
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ t tumeric
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • Optional: smoked chipotle powder to taste

Added Later!

Main feature:

  • 16 jalapenos, sliced and seeded (see below)
Batter / Breading:

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
  • 1.5 cups white unbleached flour + 1 t paprika
  • 1.5 cups crushed “Ritz” style crackers3 + 1.5 T garlic granules + ½ t salt (Optional: substitute crackers with actual breadcrumbs)

Blending and Baking Filling

The baking process will make the filling spreadable for slathering on the jalapeno halves. Once the filling is baking, you may proceed to the jalapeno preparation step.

  • Place “Filling” ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a Corningware or similar dish for baking.
  • Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes at 250-300 degrees fahrenheit until thick like cream cheese. Stir well every 10 minutes during this process to circulate the resulting thick portions and crisped browned parts of the mixture.

Example of filling consistency. This recipe makes more filling than pictured above.

Preparing while Waiting for Filling to Bake


  • Cut off top part of jalapeno stem first (about 1/8”). Retain for use in filling.
  • Slice in half lengthwise.
  • Scrape out seeds with small spoon. (Discard or retain for other recipes.)
  • Careful not to squirt juice in your eyeball like I did.
  • Slice up the small bits of jalapeno connected to the stem (but NOT the stem itself) then add to the baked filling.

Artistic display of spoon and knife

Prepare the breading next:

  • Place the flour mixture in a small bowl.
  • Place the soy milk in a separate small bowl.
  • Crush the crackers into fine pieces then stir in garlic granules and salt in another bowl.

Filling and Breading

  • Once the filling has been baked and removed from the oven, adjust the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  • Stir in Bac'uns and previously added chopped-up jalapeno tops to baked filling.
  • Spread filling into jalapeno halves, so that the filling is slightly heaping over and lightly coating the side edges of jalapeno.

  • Dip each jalapeno half into soy milk, then roll into flour mixture. Place on plate or sheet.

A not-quite clockwise presentation of the first dipping process.

  • Let jalapenos dry for about 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare a baking sheet by spreading about ¼ cup of olive oil on the sheet for baking (in lieu of deep frying).
  • After the 10 minutes when dry, dip each half in soy milk again, then dredge in "Ritz" breadcrumb mixture. It's OK if some green jalapeno is showing.
  • Set on greased baking sheet, starting filling side up, rolling once to ensure olive oil is lightly coating entire half. Alternative to rolling: use stainless steel spritzer to spray tops of poppers. Place filling side up.


Your oven should already be preheated to 300 degrees F. The 'traditional' recipe calls for deep frying these suckers. Instead, these are baked for 20 minutes, turned once. As with other fried goods, the pops are equally good, and lower in fat, baked with a spritzola of olive oil.

  • Place in preheated oven, then bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and flip with tongs carefully.
  • Bake for remaining 10 minutes until golden brown.


This is the best part, except you have to wait first until the poppers cool to move them to a plate (or your mouth). Otherwise they will unpop all over the pan.


Feel free to change up the filling by chopping and adding pimentos, olive bits, or other types of peppers.

I also made the filling without the tofu and Agave and it was still good, but not quite as tasty.

Instead of white flour, I used whole wheat the last time I made these = BLECHHHH.


Delicious and addictive: no need for a trip to Denny's. Reports from non-vegans: “I cannot tell this is vegan.” –Non-vegan who is not my mom


1 http://rockinthestove.com/2009/07/13/three-vegan-cheezes-gone-nuts/

2 http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-ever-jalapeno-poppers/detail.aspx

3 The Whole Foods brand of rounds is good, cheap, and vegan (GCV).

December 13, 2009


Kale-a-kopita is spanikopita's calcified cousin from Asia Minor. Kale grows like weeds here in Durham, NC, and when we had it in our garden I'd make this all of the time. Traditionally, spanikopita contains spinach and feta and is made with phyllo dough by my aunt Katie.

This version uses spring roll wrappers instead of phyllo dough, and an almond olive blend for the feta.
Originally I used kalamata olives and crumbled tofu for the feta. Here I retained the olive/tofu mixture but also included inspiration from my friend's almond feta post.

Yield: Makes about 16 kale-a-kopitas.

Estimated Cost: $6 - $8
(about .38 - .50 cents per roll)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.


First make your new and improved 'feta.' In your blender or food processor, deposit the following ingredients, then blend until smooth (there will still be tiny almond granules, that's OK).

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T tahini
  • ¼ cup firm tofu (not silken)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 t salt
  • ¼ cup kalamata (preferred) or green olives
  • 2 cloves garlic (or as you prefer)

Transfer the blend to a large mixing bowl, big enough to fit your chopped kale.


To the above mix, add:

  • 1 t oregano from the village mountains of your Greek father's home town (or store bought)
  • ½ cup chopped leek (preferred) or onion
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, drained, and chopped*
  • Optional: add 1 t dill weed


Now that your 'feta' is all cozy in the big bowl with the other ingredients, mix them all in using tongs. You will need to remix as you make the wraps to keep the liquid from remaining at the bottom of the bowl.

To coat your wraps, get a plate (a big serving plate works well) and place about ¼ cup of olive or canola oil on the plate, then:

  • Place one wrap on the oil, moosh it around, then flip it.
  • Take another wrap, and place it on top of this one to coat one side.
  • To coat the other side, flip this new wrap.
  • Then, take both wraps and flip them together upside down.
  • Repeat with about 5 wraps until the oil runs out. Now you are ready to stuff the first 5.


  • Place about ½ cup of the mix onto the mid-corner of the wrap.
  • Flip the bottom corner over the wrap, then flip the left and right sides over the stuffing.

  • Roll it up, tucking the wrap as you go along under the rolled stuffing.
  • Place each roll on an ungreased non-stick sheet (you can grease if you'd like).

Keep going until the filling runs out. You will need to add more oil to the plate and repeat the coating step above once or twice.


I like to sprinkle the finished wraps with garlic powder. You might not like that.

Place the finished sheet of wraps into your preheated oven and bake about 15 minutes until lightly brown and crispy at the top.

Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes.

* You can use spinach if you want. Also, I chop up the stems and add these to the mix. If you're serving more 'sensitive' (picky) guests, you might not want to use the base stems and retain those for other uses (such as throwing them at picky guests).


So good the bowl can fly.

Healthy or just hortamatastic?

Both. With both almonds and kale as a main ingredient, then adding tofu and tahini, you're getting a good dose of calcium. Tasty, too. By the end of this post, Rob and I had eaten them all.