November 2016 Cooking Class – Comfort Food

November 13, 2016

It’s been a busy summer and fall, but we managed to squeeze in one more cooking class for the year. The weather is still nice out, but you just know that any day the bubble will burst and the cold and snow will arrive. It is a great time to enjoy hearty soups, stews, chowders and good old comfort food.

7_dinnerNovember’s cooking class featured a Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Gravy, a flavorful Italian Salad Dressing that uses vegetable broth thickened with chia seeds instead of oil, and a new take on an old fashioned Apple Crisp without the refined sugar and butter.

Thanks James for the great photos.

 

 

Green Smoothie

1_green-smoothies

You can’t have a cooking class without a green smoothie. I strongly believe that the most important change you can make to your diet is to consume more leafy green vegetables. For this class we enjoyed my favorite Classic Mango Kale Smoothie which follows The Raw Family’s basic recipe of 2 cups water, 2 cups greens and 2 cups fruit.

  • 1_green-smoothiw-ingredients2 cups water
  • 2 cups kale
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • 2 cups frozen mango cubes

Place ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and creamy.

 

 

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

2_shepherds-pie-ingredThis recipe is an adaptation of Angela Liddon’s recipe in her new cookbook Oh She Glows Every Day. Like all the recipes in her new cookbook, this one is simple to make. It does have quite a few steps but don’t be intimidated, it comes together quickly. While this is a great every day comfort meal, it also makes a great company meal and left overs are great for lunch the next day.

This great for company because you can make it ahead of time and then pop it into the oven to heat while you visit. Just remember to add a bit extra cooking time if the dish is put into the oven cold.

While the original recipe contains both vegan butter and oil, it was easy to modify and omit these ingredients without compromising on the taste. I also substituted extra broth and a splash of red wine vinegar instead of the red wine in the recipe, and added a dollop of ketchup to the sauce.

Topping:

  • 2 ½ pounds potatoes, red, Yukon Gold, Sweet Potato or a mixture (about 6 medium potatoes), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ to ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant based milk  (I used cashew)

Filling:

  • 2 medium leeks or 1 large onion, diced (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces (450 grams) cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound (450 grams) frozen mixed veggies or your choice of 4 cups diced veggies
  • 2 tbsp potato starch (or substitute 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 and lightly oil a 4 quart casserole dish.

Put potatoes in large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add garlic, garlic powder and salt. Mash until smooth adding milk as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the filling. In a large saucepan or wok, add leeks and garlic and sauté until soft. Add mushrooms and peppers and sauté until soft. Add vegetables and sauté until heated through.

In a small jar, mix broth, potato starch, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme and ketchup until smooth. Add to the veggies along with the lentils and cook until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon filling into prepared casserole and spread it out evenly. Top with potato topping in an even layer. Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 25 minutes or until heated through. Broil for a few minutes to toast the topping slightly if desired.

2_shepherds-pie-and-gravyServe with gravy.

Gravy

Since the filling of the Shepherd’s Pie is not very saucy, it is best served with gravy on the side. I used an oil free adaptation of Angela Liddon’s Cozy Gravy from her new cookbook Oh She Glows Every Day.  The oil can be easily omitted in almost all recipes that call for sautéing veggies in oil. You can add a splash of broth or water if you find the veggies sticking to the pan; however, I seldom find that any liquid is necessary if you cook on a medium heat.

I love Angela’s method of making the gravy and then blending it smooth in a blender. It makes a really smooth and flavorful gravy.

The original recipe uses flour as a thickening agent. I substituted arrowroot powder, but cornstarch would also work, as a gluten free option.

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup low sodium tamari or soy sauce (or 2 tbsp of regular)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

In a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic and sauté until soft adding a tablespoon or two of broth if needed to prevent sticking. In a jar, combine broth, cornstarch, tamari, nutritional yeast and pepper. Cover jar and shake well. Add broth mixture to the onion mixture and simmer until mixture boils and thickens. (if not thick enough, mix a bit more cornstarch or arrowroot with water, add and cook. If too thick, add a bit more water or broth) Remove from heat and transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth. ( or use an immersion blender to blend the gravy in the saucepan)

Italian Salad Dressing

3_salad-ingredWe served the Shepherd’s Pie along with a simple green salad to complete the meal. This Italian Salad Dressing recipe is from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell. Instead of using oil, which adds few nutrients and a ton of calories, this recipe uses vegetable broth and chia seeds. The chia seeds produce a dressing that has a similar consistency to store bought oil based Italian dressings.

  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp sweetener (agave, brown rice syrup, honey, raw sugar)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika

3_salad-dressing-doneMix broth and chia seeds in a blender container and let stand at least 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the blender container and blend 10 to 15 seconds. Store in the fridge in a glass jar. (note, the original recipe does not call for soaking the chia seeds prior to blending but I find they blend better if soaked)

 

 

 

Apple Crisp

4_apple-crisp-ingredApple Crisp is a classic autumn recipe and is a great way to use apples from your tree.  Even though this recipe easily serves 8 to 10 people, I often make it for Ken and myself and consume it over the week. And when it is as healthy as this one, you can even enjoy leftovers for breakfast.

 

4_apple-crispThis recipe is a combination of a delicious apple crisp in Angela Liddon’s first cookbook The Oh She Glows Cookbook, and one found in Kim Campbell’s The PlantPure Nation Cookbook. I omitted the coconut oil in Angela’s recipe and replaced it with nut butter and apple sauce as used in the PlantPure cookbook.

Filling:

  • 8 heaping cups apples, chopped (we used a mixture of granny smith and gala)
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup almond or cashew butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

Preheat oven to 375֩ F and line a 11×9 inch pan with parchment paper.

Make the apple filling – (Note: You can peel the apples if you like, but I don’t find it is necessary.) Place chopped apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Toss until combined. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour apple mixture into the prepared dish and smooth out evenly.

Make the topping – Stir together the oats, almond meal, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Mix maple syrup, nut butter and apple sauce together in a small bowl until smooth. Add nut butter mixture to oat mixture and combine until the oats are evenly coated with the nut butter.  Sprinkle oat mixture over apples in an even layer.

Cover the dish with foil and poke a couple of air holes in the foil. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the apples are just fork tender. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the topping is golden.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. The crisp is good served hot, warm or cold.

Making Coconut Whipped Topping
Making Coconut Whipped Topping

For the class we served it with coconut whipped topping, but it is great alone without any topping.

7_dinner-plate

Recommended Cookbooks

As you can tell from my recipe sources, I am a big fan of Angela Liddon as well as Kim Campbell.  I love every single dish I have ever made of theirs.  Below is a list of my most frequently used cookbooks.

  • The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
  • Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon
  • The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Forks Over Knives The Cookbook by Del Sroufe
  • 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

Recommended Documentaries

Recently there has been an explosion of great documentaries outlining the benefits of plant based eating on health, environment and compassion for animals. They are a great way to educate yourself on the issues. Below is a list of my favorites.

  • Live and Let Live
  • Before the Flood
  • PlantPure Nation
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Vegucated
  • Cowspiracy
  • Food Matters
  • Hungry for Change
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

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