The Vegan Gutbuster

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

The Vegan Gutbuster Sandwich
In Honor of My Alma Mater, The University of Illinois

Homemade Vegan Italian Sausage on a Toasted French Baguette
Green Bell Pepper, Onion, Mushroom, Tomato
Spicy Tomato Sauce, Vegan Mozzarella, Basil Chiffonade

Last summer my Alpha Phi sorority sisters met in Champaign, Illinois for a PHI-abulous reunion. Over 80 members who graduated between 1976 and 1982 took a trip down memory lane for the weekend, we visited some of our old haunts, and had a blast reconnecting and rekindling old friendships. We slept and ate in the sorority house, so fun ~ and our contributions for staying there helped to raise funds for the chapter. Thank you for the hospitality, ladies!

alpha phi university of illinois

One of the fond memories from our college years was pizza. Garcia’s Pizza. And the Gutbuster was their famous 3/4-pound slice with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. Something we all remembered with affection…It had been many years since I even thought about the Gutbuster, but since our reunion weekend, I have been pondering a makeover of our beloved pie.

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Pappardelle ~ Apple, Fig, Pistachio, Mint, Saffron Cream

Pappardelle with Saffron Cream
Apple, Fig, Pistachio, Mint

  • Our 5 Star Makeover Cooking Club is featuring apples for the fabulous September event.
  • My family and friends are celebrating the Jewish New Year 5773. And I’m thinking about noodle kugel. Kugel is a sweet Jewish casserole. I bake mine with egg noodles, golden raisins, cottage cheese, cinnamon, and apples. I was also thinking about my saffron matzoh balls…
  • My little guy Wilson needed some tests. When I dropped him off, his awesome veterinarian gave me a big basket of fresh figs from her garden.

These three events cosmically intertwined. Apples & figs collided with noodles & saffron. And the result was a delightful vegetarian pasta with a luxurious saffron cream sauce. It was an exotic marriage of sweet & savory, creamy & crunchy. The colors were glorious ~ golden yellow saffron, pale green granny smith apples, pink salmon-hued figs, and bright green mint.

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Miso-Braised Asparagus, Ginger Sauce

miso braised asparagus, ginger sauce

Miso-Braised Asparagus, Ginger Sauce, Sliced Scallion
served on
My “Le PONT de la TOUR” China
in Honor of
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

While ginger sauce makes a heart-healthy alternative to hollandaise, braising asparagus in miso broth adds another layer of subtle flavor. A casual ladle of ginger sauce over braised asparagus makes for a zippy vegetable side. The addition of buckwheat noodles, tomatoes and pine nuts makes a vibrant meatless meal.

❖❖❖

Lucy Robinson Hanson
1886 – 1970

Over a century ago, Lucy Robinson and Jack Hanson were Londoners. Early in the 1900’s, Jack left England for Chicago to follow his dreams. Shortly thereafter and still a teenager, Lucy left her family and followed her true love to America. By 1952 Lucy was a widow, a mother of 7 and grandmother of 17 when Princess Elizabeth, while visiting Kenya, received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne.

Lucy decided to take one of her grandchildren back to England to visit the family she hadn’t seen in many many years and to witness The Coronation which was to take place in Westminster Abbey on the 2nd of June 1953. They boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth and sailed to England. The granddaughter that accompanied Lucy was my mother. She was 19.

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Fiddlehead & Flower Month-of-May Salad

fiddlehead fern salad, edible flower salad
fiddlehead fern frond & edible flower
tatsoi & arugula salad
avocado, yukon gold potato, dijon dressing

April showers brought May flowers. And with the upcoming opening of our “ristorante alfresco virtuale” Ciao Fiore! I’ve got edible flowers on my mind. Marigold and Johnny Jump-Up, Nasturtium, Pansy, and Borage too. I spotted the fiddlehead fern fronds at Whole Foods Market, in season right now just shipped down from Portland, Oregon. Flowers and ferns seemed like a pretty pairing, and thus this delightful Month-of-May salad was born.

Edible Flowers in the Salad:

  • marigold – bright orange petals, some with red tips
  • johnny jump up – small purple petals
  • nasturtium – large orange flower
  • pansy – large dark violet-purple flower
  • borage – tiny blue petals

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Woodsy Shiitake & Black Kale Soup

shiitake soup
Shiitake, Black Kale, Tofu & Seaweed Soup
Sesame, Scallion, Sriracha Garnish

Woodsy. Earthy. Deep.
This is one intense vegan soup that offers full epicurean contentment.

Flavor profile:
meaty shiitake mushroom, robust kale, subtly sweet ocean-y wakame seaweed,
toasty sesame oil, tangy hot sriracha
Aroma profile:
heady, intense, wet forest, earthy
Texture profile:
steamy broth, chewy kale, silky shiitake, slippery wakame, spongy tofu, crunchy sesame seed
Color profile:
deep dark broth, midnight-green wakame and kale, spring-green scallion, electric red sriracha

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Linguini, Smoky Avocado Sauce, Black Beans, Lime

avocado pasta

Linguini, Grilled Avocado Sauce with Lime & Cilantro
Topped with Black Beans, Red Onion & Serrano

Been seeing the avocado puréed, and used as a sauce or dressing a lot lately? I sure have. With pasta, as a substitute for mayonnaise in tuna salad, as a substitute for hollandaise with fresh fish or vegetables. Great heart-healthy ideas all!

Here, I take flavors that pair well with avocado such as lime, green chile, red onion, cilantro, black beans…and re-mix them into a refreshing green pasta dish. And by adding one more layer of flavor – smoke – the silky sauce takes on another dimension. Lime juice keeps it bright, and serrano kicks up the heat. It’s a healthy pasta fiesta!

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baby tagine = indian eggplant, lemon confit, garlic, thai basil

baby tagine, indian eggplant, thai basil

baby tagine
indian eggplant, lemon confit, garlic, thai basil, olive oil, red pepper flakes
with toasted ciabatta

indian eggplant, baby tagine

What to cook first in my new baby tagine?  I had been dreaming of a baby tagine ever since our most memorable meal on the 40th Floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange at Everest. Chef Joho serves a vegetable mélange side dish in the most charming vessel.

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