Friday, October 30, 2015

Klunker's sambal

Klunker's sambal

Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars. Wikipedia

A guy I work with has been growing an organic garden all summer, and has brought me veggies from time to time.  This last week, he brought me a huge bag of red jalapeno's.  What on earth was I going to do with all these chili peppers????  Well, I just happened to have a package of dried chilies, garlic, rice vinegar......shoot, I had the makings of my version of sambal!  Is it authentic?  Probably not.  I know it is just supposed to be ground chilies and some salt, but hey, it's Klunker's sambal. 

Now, this is just my recipe.  Let it be a guide to you.  Experiment with different chilies and different heats.  I found the mix I used to be perfectly spicy for me.  I can't see this quart jar lasting too long.
(just a note of caution here, WEAR RUBBER GLOVES AND WASH EVERYTHING DOWN WELL!  And most importantly, DON'T RUB YOUR EYES!!)


1 lb. fresh, red jalapenos, stems removed
1 package of dried chapones chili peppers (4 oz.  about 20 chilies, stems removed)
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Korean hot chili flakes
1 tsp. salt

Combine all the above in a large blender or food processor.  Blend until all broken down, but not smooth.  You want it to have some texture.
After blending, pour into a 1 quart jar, and close lid.  Leave on the counter overnight, then put into the fridge.  
IT IS THAT EASY.  The longer it sits, the better it will taste.  It will be spicy, but such a great spicy.
I plan on making this for Christmas presents this year.  
Once you make your own, you will want to keep doing it.  

Like I said above, experiment with different chilies, maybe instead of vinegar, use lime juice.  It is fun to experiment and see what you get.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Klunker's easy pita bread

Klunker's easy pita bread

One thing I really miss is good, fluffy pita bread.  I used to get a big bag of it from Costco®, and would eat the whole thing within a few days.  It had the best flavor and the best texture too.  But, alas, it had oil in it.  So, it went on the chopping block.  
Now, I have a homemade version, and it is just as good.  It is fluffy, soft and oh so good.  The best part is that it is easy to make.  


1 1/2c plant milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 tsp. yeast
1 tablespoon sugar of choice
2 tablespoons aquafaba (juice from a can of chickpeas)
3 1/2c unbleached flour 
1 tsp. kosher salt

First thing, warm up the milk.  You don't want it to be hot, just very warm.  I put in a big measuring cup and in the microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and add to your mixing bowl.  Add the yeast and sugar, aquafaba and 1 cup of flour.  Mix well with a whisk and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  Put the dough hook on the mixer, and mix in the remaining flour.  
 Mix until the dough is just pulling away from the sides.  It will still be a little sticky.
 Mix for about 5 minutes, then turn the machine off.  Remove the dough hook and let the dough sit for another 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, divide the dough into 8 or 9 even pieces.  Work with one at a time and roll out on a well floured surface.
 You want them to be about 1/4 inch thick and about 6-8 inches in diameter.
Keep them covered.  
Now, heat up a large, nonstick pan over medium high heat.  Wait until it is very hot.  Sprinkle some water on the surface and when it sizzles then it is ready.
Put first bread on the pan.  When it just starts to get little bubbles on it, turn it with a spatula.  Press it down with the spatula.  As you press it down, it should start to puff up.  
 Now, not all of them will puff up all the way, and that is ok.  They will turn out just fine.
Some of them will puff right up though.  You want to cook on each side for about 2 minutes.  Watch them close so they don't burn though.
 As you remove them from the heat, place on a plate.  Stack on top of each other, and cover.  The steam/heat will make them get soft.
 When you are done, place into a large zip bag or a large plastic, airtight container on the counter.  They will last for a few days there. (mine never make it that far though)  
You can cut in half and open like a regular pita bread, or use as a base for a great pizza, or maybe a thick, half sandwich.  I love them with peanut butter and banana on top.
Most of all, enjoy and this recipe is easy enough to make even when you don't have a lot of time. :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tomato etouffee' over cheesy grits

Tomato etouffee' over cheesy grits

This recipe came about by request from my friend Julie.  She sent me a picture of a meal at a restaurant and asked if I could re-invent it.  Well, It took a few weeks to get to it, mainly because I was waiting for exact ingredients.  My produce man was not able to provide those items, so I came up with an original.
Now, this recipe is not something you can just throw together.  It will require some work and some planning.  The smoked mushrooms take several hours to make.  So this will be a recipe you make on a Sunday afternoon, or when you have company come over.  But I promise you this, it will taste amazing and it will impress anyone you serve it to.  
Take your time and put lots of love into this recipe.  It is fun to slow down and make a masterpiece from scratch.  
This recipe will be broken down into parts.  You can do them all around the same time, but this recipe has many parts and breaking it down is easier.  So lets start with the ingredient lists.

Here is the recipe for the smoked mushrooms

For the salsa fresca:

6-8 roma tomatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4c chopped cilantro
salt and pepper 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Cover and put into fridge.

For the greens:

1 large bunch of collard greens, cleaned well, stripped from large veins, and chopped into 1 inch pieces 
1/2c veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. onion powder

In a medium saute pan, combine the veggie stock and spices and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Add the collard greens and cover.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring one time during cooking.

While the greens are cooking, lets start on the tomato etoufee'

Tomato etouffee' with mushrooms and white beans

1 14.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can of Rotel (tomatoes and green chilies)
8 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped small
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/2c veggie broth
2 bay leaves 
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cajun spice
2 teaspoons paprika 
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

In a large saute pan, combine the onions and garlic.  Saute over medium high for 5 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the flour and mix in, stirring constantly for about a minute.  Add the veggie broth and stir until the flour is dissolved into the liquid.
Add the spices and stir well.
Add the can of tomato, Rotel, mushrooms and beans.  Stir well, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stir often to avoid anything sticking to the bottom.  Turn to low after 15 minutes and let stay warm.

Finally, lets make the grits!

4c good veggie stock
1c dry grits
1/4c plant milk
1/4c nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, combine the stock and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Add the grits slowly, whisking as you add to avoid lumps.  Bring back to the boil and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes or longer, to get smooth and creamy grits.  Stir often.  When you remove from heat, add the nutritional yeast and salt/pepper.  Stir well.

Now, assemble everything.

In a serving bowl or large plate, put a base of grits.  Place some of the greens, some of the etouffee', smoked mushrooms and the salsa fresca on top.  (see illustration for example)
Serve hot and a dash or two of good hot sauce.
Lots of parts to this dish, but worth every bit of effort you put into it. :)

Smoked mushrooms

Smoked mushrooms

I decided to post the recipe for these wonderful smoked mushrooms separate.  The reason is because they stand alone.  I recently used in a wonderful dish, but they could be used in many other recipes.  So get some mushrooms and make these delightful additions to your creativity.


1 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (you can use regular, hickory or mesquite
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 gallon zip top bag

After slicing mushrooms, place all of them in your zip top bag.  Add the salt and gently mix around in the bag so all the slices get a little salt.
Sprinkle the liquid smoke in the bag, and zip shut.  Gently mix around until all the slices have some of the liquid smoke.  I did this for about 10 minutes, this made sure they were kissed with smoke.
Now, open the top and squeeze the air out the best you can.  Place flat in the fridge.  
Keep in fridge for at least 6 hours but 12 is better.  Turn every so often and make sure the liquid that is now collecting is mixed and covers the slices.
After 6-12 hours, open the top and pour onto a plate.  
You can cook them or add to whatever you want that wonderful smoky flavor.
You can add some crushed garlic for a wonderful variation.
It is that simple.  They will last in the fridge for a couple of days.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Korean rice cakes (ddeok)

Korean rice cakes (ddeok)

Today I am thrilled to write about one of my favorite foods.  Korean rice cakes are one of those ingredients that actually put a smile on my face whenever I pull them out.  They are chewy, a little nutty, and are simply amazing food.  I put them in soups, stir-fry, and of course my all-time favorite meal, ddeokbokki!! (recipe here)
I have found that the store bought kind are great.  The biggest problem I have found is that many people (me included) don't have an Asian market close by, and my regular grocery stores don't even know what I am talking about.  So, I had to find out how to make them myself.
I have known for a while how to make them, but I found that many of my fellow plant-based friends have the same problem.  So this recipe is dedicated to my friend Joy.  I hope you find these to be much better then those midget hockey pucks you had the other day.


2 c white sushi rice
1 1/2- 1 3-4 c boiling water
1/3 tsp. salt

You will also need a very good, high speed blender, a good food processor or a good coffee grinder.

The very first thing you want to do is make some rice flour out of your sushi rice.  Place into your blender of choice.  (I use a coffee grinder that holds 1 cup at a time, so I work in shifts)  Blend until very fine powder.  (it took me about 2 minutes)  Pour the flour into a fine mesh strainer.  Sift the rice flour, and any pieces that don't go through, put back through the blender with the next batch.  You want 2 cups total of the flour.  Pour into a large bowl.

Bring your water to a boil.
While your water is coming to a boil, add the salt to your flour, and mix well.

 When the water comes to a boil, add 1 1/2 cups of it to the mix.

 Mix well.  It will be a little on the dry side.  If all of it is not mixing in, you can add a little more water.  You don't want a wet dough though.  It needs to be just wet enough to loosely hold together.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave a small vent on one edge of about 1 inch or so.

 Place in microwave for 2 minutes.  After 2 minutes, remove (carefully, it will be hot) and take the plastic wrap off.  Stir around and mash with the back of your spoon.  Cover back up with plastic wrap (with vent) and microwave another 2 minutes.
When 2 minutes more is up, remove (again, hot stuff, so be careful).
Remove plastic wrap, and scoop the now very rubbery dough out onto a clean work surface.

 Do not let this rubbery, crumbly pile of white dough intimidate you.  You are the master, and you will win.
Cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap for a couple of minutes, until it cools down enough for you to work with it.  (but not too much, you want it to be hot to work with)
Begin to knead the dough as soon as you can touch it without getting 3rd degree burns.
This is the hardest part of the process.  You need to work this dough for at least 15 minutes.  So put your favorite exercise music on and get to some serious arm day exercise!!
After 15 minutes, you should have a very smooth, elastic dough.
Now, roll it into a large log, about 12 inches long.  Bend the log in half.

 Now cut right where it bent.

Place one of the halves to the side and cover so it doesn't dry out.
Roll the half you have on the work surface again.  You want to roll to about 12 inches again.

 Again, bend in half and cut!

Now, I hope you are seeing a pattern here.  Take one of the halves, put aside, covered and work with the other half.  Roll out again, into a long snake.  You want it to be about the thickness of your index finger.

Now, bend in half again, but this time, after you cut, you are going to place to two pieces together, and cut into the final size.  I like mine about 3 inches long.  You are the rice master, you get to choose though.  You can make them 4 inches if you want.  Or, if you are feeling playful, you can cut smaller.  It is really up to you.  Depends really on what you are planning on using them for.  I like to do most of them at 3 inches, and maybe one "snake" I will keep long, let sit out for about an hour to dry, and cut into small pieces for soups.

Now, you have a few more "snakes" to work with, but when you are done, you will have lots of Korean rice cakes.  As you cut them down, stack on a plate and cover them.  When they are all done you can separate them into smaller portions.  I will get two freezer bags and just put half in one and half in the other.  If you are not using right away, put in fridge.  They will stay in there for a week with no problem.  If you are not using within a week, well, shame on you.  But they do freeze well.  So you can store them there too.
Get creative with them.  Enjoy them, and don't let them intimidate you.  It is just a big rice noodle.
**Just a side note.  When you store in fridge or freezer, they will get hard.  From the fridge you can just put into whatever dish you want and they will soften up.  If you froze them, let the thaw for a while in the fridge, or soak for 10 minutes in some hot water.
After you make these a few times, it will just be second nature.  I set one day aside each week and just make these and put them in the fridge for the week.
They are filling and there are many recipes you can find out there for making them.  
Most of all, they are pretty much fat free, no added oils and they are good for you, so enjoy them!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pumpkin tortellini with ragout

Pumpkin tortellini 

It is October, and even though I enjoy pumpkin everything year round, it just seems appropriate to have it more dominate this month.  I love pumpkin, and it really doesn't matter how it is presented to me.
I was really in the mood for pasta.  I really am a lover of pasta dishes, so putting that with pumpkin just seemed like the best idea.  And how about make a nice ragout to go with it.
I choose not to make the pasta from scratch, instead I used Chinese dumpling wrappers. These are the ones I used.
If you cannot find this brand, you can find a recipe for them, and there are some other brands out there.  Just make sure they are vegan and no oil.  Also, good news, they do sell gluten free wrappers too.  So you can enjoy this recipe if you need to be gluten free.  Amazon has a few you can order, and I have seen a few in the freezer section at the Asian market. :)

Ingredients: (for the tortellini)

1 package Gyoza Wrappers (Twin Dragon if you can find them)
1 14.5 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/4c pecans, chopped extra fine (I put mine in a food processor)
2 tsp. tapioca starch or corn starch
1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (fresh grated if you have it)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (optional)
1 tsp. fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Ingredients (for the ragout)

1 medium red onion, peeled, cut in half and then into half moons 1/4 inch.
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1 lb. baby spinach, washed and chopped
1 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

OK, lets make the tortellini first.
Open your can of pumpkin puree (or fresh if you have it!) and dump it into a fine mesh strainer.  Put that in a bowl and let it drain for about an hour.  You want to get some of that liquid out of it.

After 1 hour, dump the puree into a bowl.  Add all the spices, nutritional yeast, nuts and garlic.  Mix together well.

 Now it is time to stuff the pasta. Have a little bowl of water to dip your finger in.  Take one round, and in the center put about 1 tsp. of the pumpkin mix.  Dip your finger in the water and moisten half the round on the edge.  Fold over the wrapper so you have a half moon.  Press out any air and make sure the edges are sealed.  Then moisten the two corners and fold over.  Make sure you pinch together. (see below)

There really is no wrong way to do this, as long as you confine the filling and pinch everything shut.  I like to pull down the top of the half moon as you can see in the picture above and below.

After you have used all of your filling, or your wraps, place on a large plate or a baking sheet lined with parchment and let air dry for about 10-15 minutes.
While they are drying, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.
Also, this is a good time to make your ragout.
In a large saute' pan, over medium high heat, saute your onions for about 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.  Add the mushrooms and saute' another 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, spices, nutritional yeast and stir well and turn the heat down to medium low. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the spinach at the end. 
At this point your water should be boiling.
Add the tortellini (I had to work in batches) and boil for about 5-8 minutes, or until they float to the top.
When they are done remove with a slotted spoon and add to your ragout mix. 
Mix very carefully, so you don't break your tortellini.  
Serve right away with an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Klunker's pie crust

Klunker's pie crust

I have to admit, when I was making this recipe, it was not to make pie crust.  It was to try and duplicate a recipe.  As I continued though, I realized that if I couldn't make a good pie crust, what went into the crust didn't matter.  And that led me to just make this a pie crust.  
I decided that if you can make a good pie crust, you can fill it with whatever you want.  It didn't matter if I could duplicate the filling, it was the crust we have issues with being plant based.  Mainly because we don't use oil or butters.  NO ADDED FAT.  
That really throws things into a quandary, because part of a crust is lots of butter/margarine.  I will admit, replicating that is so far impossible.  This crust, and really no crust I have seen yet that is fat free and plant based is flaky like a good old fashioned crust.
But, I sure did enjoy this crust.  It was light and it filled the gap.  You can honestly stuff it with whatever you would like.  So far I have done one recipe with savory and one with sweet. I will say, you need some patience to do this recipe.  You cannot rush it., but in the end, it will be worth it.


2c unbleached flour
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
3-4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. baking powder

To start, measure out your apple sauce and almond milk.  Put both in the freezer.  You want these to be very cold.  Leave in there for at least 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.  
Take the applesauce and almond milk out of the freezer, add the applesauce and 2 tablespoons of milk.  With a fork, cut the applesauce and milk to the flour.
As you mix lightly, if you see it is too dry, add a little more milk.  You don't want it to be too wet.
 When you have just mixed the dough, (as above) put the bowl into the freezer for 8-10 minutes.
Then remove from freezer and dump onto a clean, floured working surface.  Gently form into a dough ball and flatten a bit.
Flour a rolling pin, and gently roll out to about 1 inch.  Then fold one side over the other.  You want to do this a few times to make layers.
After doing this 3 times, roll your dough out to about 1/4 inch.  This is the point where you cut it to whatever size you are wanting.  
For the hand pies, I used a 4 inch bowl, and turned it upside down to cut circles. 
Depending on your recipe, bake at 400* for 15 minutes.  Open oven and brush top with plant milk.  Bake another 10 minutes. (this worked best for the hand pies)

Explore with different fillings, or make a whole apple pie.  Do not overcook, so on the last 10 minutes, watch close.

 **  Instructions for hand pies.
After cutting shapes, place filling (about 1/4 cup) into the center of the bottom.  With your finger, wet the edge of the bottom with some water.  Place the top on the bottom, and press the edges down.  Then, with a fork, press the edges to seal and form a decorative edge.
Gently press the top down a bit to distribute the filling.  Then, with a sharp knife cut a couple of small vents on top.
Brush top with some plant milk, and place in 400* oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush the top again.  If you are using a sweet filling, sprinkle some sugar on the freshly brushed top.
Bake another 10 minutes, until just golden.
Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to set up.
Get creative, there are endless possibilities for stuffing.
I am still working on a gluten free version.  I have tried two recipes with no luck, but will keep trying.