Harry Potter Dinner – Chik’n Fried Tofu, Mashed Potatoes, Harvard Beets, and Green Bean Succotash

Chik'n Fried Tofu, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Succotash, Harvard Beets

Harry Potter Dinner – Chik’n Fried Tofu, Mashed Potatoes, Harvard Beets, and Green Bean Succotash

I’ve been celebrating favorite books and movies, and Harry Potter is both. I recently bought the whole collection of movies, a couple of which I hadn’t seen, and once a week, I’ve been watching one. I knew I wanted a Harry Potter themed meal, but there is so much to choose from… In the movies, there is such wonderful food, but a lot of the food is just good down-home favorites like sausages, and fried chicken. The desserts, however, are out of this world, at least some of them. True, one can find (if not a vegan) chocolate frogs and Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, but where to find a Treacle Tart, which Harry has more than once in the books, if not to make it, or travel to England?

It all started with the Treacle Tart, long before I thought of making a meal myself, at Vegan Dad. He has had Harry Potter cakes for his kids, and now here was a whole meal, with a vegan Treacle Tart.

My own vision of a hearty filling meal that Harry, Ron, and Hermione might eat was one we probably had many times while I was growing up, only vegan style.

I don’t have preparation times for each dish, but the whole meal, not including dessert, took about 2 hours. Preparing the green beans took the longest. The beets took the longest to cook.

For a more flavorful, less traditional tofu, marinate in ¼ c. tamari for half an hour. I made this tofu a lot when I was first a vegetarian and missing a hunk of protein at my meals.

When I was planning this meal, I thought of succotash, which my mother made with lima beans and corn. I don’t really like this, but it seemed so traditional. Then I found a recipe in the 9/28/11 San Jose Mercury for a succotash risotto made with green beans, corn, tomato, and basil, and that sounded quite good, without the rice and cheese. Eureka! I found a succotash I love!

Chik’n Fried Tofu

Makes 4 servings

14-16 oz. firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 c. tamari (optional)
1/3 c. white rice flour (you use less than this)
1 t. ground paprika
½ t. salt
2 T. high heat oil, for frying

Cut the tofu into about 2 inch by ¼ inch squares. Marinate the tofu, if desired, and drain.

Mix the flour, paprika, and salt in a small bowl. Heat the oil. Dredge each piece of tofu on all sides in the flour, and fry quickly on both sides to seal the flour, and then fry on each side until lightly brown on both front and back. Fry in batches if your frying pan is not huge, in which case you may need more oil. Remove and keep the fried tofu warm until all are fried.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 179 calories/ 9.3 g. protein/ 10.8 g fat

Mashed Potatoes

Makes about 4 servings

4 small potatoes (about 4 c. chopped)
½ c. soymilk
1 t. salt
¼ c. vegan butter (optional)

Peel the potatoes and chop into about 1 inch wide pieces. Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until they potatoes slide off a knife when pierced, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pan. Add the salt, soymilk and optional veg butter and mash with a potato masher, fork (this is tedious), or hand blender until creamy.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 229 calories/ 2.5 g protein/ 9 g fat

Green Bean Succotash

Makes about 4 servings

2 lb. fresh green beans
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 c. chopped fresh tomato
¼ c. chopped fresh basil

Cut the ends off the green beans and cut each in half, then in 2 inch pieces. This is called a French cut. If time is a constraint, just cut the beans in 2 inch pieces and cook a few minutes longer.

Cook the green beans in about ½ c. water, until tender, about 5 minutes. The last 2 minutes, add the corn. Drain and return to the pot. Add the tomato and basil and cover until you’re ready to serve. This will heat the basil and tomato without cooking them. Salt if desired.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 109 calories/ 4.6 g protein/ .7 g fat

Harvard Beets

Makes about 4 small servings

2 medium sized beets
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. white sugar
½ t. salt
2/3 c. water
¼ c. red wine vinegar

Either peel and chop the raw beets or cover them with water and cook until tender and then cool and then peel and chop them. I prefer the former method, which took about 40 minutes with the beets cut into 1/3 inch strips.

When cooked and chopped, mix the cornstarch with 2/3 c. water until dissolved. Stir in the sugar, vinegar, and salt and add the beets and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 62 calories/ 1.8 g protein/ .2 g fat

Treacle Tart

Treacle Tart with Gluten Free Breadcrumbs and Vegan Clotted Cream

Treacle Tart

I was intrigued by a recipe for Treacle Tart from Vegan Dad. I thought of it when I decided to do a Harry Potter meal, though I don’t usually like puddings with bread crumbs. I Googled Treacle Tart and found two other Harry Potter Treacle Tart recipes, and great sites. Indeed, I saw that all Treacle Tarts had bread crumbs. So I set out to make some. First I went to the British Food Store I went to once or twice when I was a vegetarian. There were lots of great food, and the candy was less likely to have gelatin than American candy. But, other than the treacle and some marmalade, there wasn’t much vegan.

We found the treacle, and it was the Lyle’s brand Vegan Dad had mentioned. It tasted very sweet, and reminded me of the hideous glucose I had to drink for a glucose tolerance test. (It’s actually glucose and fructose.) I decided I needed to eat a big meal first, to dilute all the glucose.

I tried to convert Vegan Dad’s recipe. Often he does the conversion for us (he lives in Canada), but not this time. I quickly bogged down and decided to wing it. I made a gluten free pie crust and weighed 5 oz. of bread which one recipe called for. I heated up ¾ c. of the glucose and mixed in lemon juice and rind (I decided against ginger) and the bread crumbs. I mixed it all together and poured it into three of the six crusts I made.

I mixed up clotted cream from the Vegan Yum Yum recipe I already had found and love, as Vegan Dad suggested. I used vegan sour cream instead of vegan cream cheese, and thought it tasted more like milk clotted cream. In the photograph, I just used a little bit so we could see the filling. But I actually spread the clotted cream liberally over the whole tart.

Then I had a big meal and cleared it away (while watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and took a bite. Hmm. Interesting. And different. The crust was totally stuck to the pan. And I’m sure that was because of the treacle, as the unfilled crusts I made didn’t stick to their pans. I ate it, and I couldn’t decide if I liked it much or not. It was sweet, and unusual, but not really great. I had another tart the next day, and then I was sure I wasn’t going to figure out how to fix the recipe. Just one for the books. Now… what other dessert can I make for next Harry Potter day?

Nut Cheeze Ball

Nut Cheeze Ball with Almonds, Pine Nuts, and Walnuts and a Wasabi Rice Cracker

Nut Cheeze Ball

My recipe card says, “Seriously good.” I had this last year for Thanksgiving to sustain us while I cooked and baked, and it became an instant tradition. We like it on Whole Foods Wasabi Rice Crackers.

I grew up with a cheddar cheese ball that my mother (or I) made for parties. It had cheddar and blue cheese and cream cheese, and was rolled in chopped walnuts. I tried to make it several times using vegan cheese, but it never was to my satisfaction, in fact, I threw most of them out. Then by accident I found this recipe at My Vegan Cookbook. I tried to go back to link to the page, but there doesn’t seem to be a search engine at the site, and I couldn’t find the recipe. My memory is that the original recipe didn’t use walnuts.

Although pine nuts are very expensive these days, you don’t need much for this recipe, and I recommend them for the wonderful flavor.

Nut Cheeze Ball

Makes about 6 servings
Preparation about 20 minutes
Can be made ahead
Freezes well

1 c. almonds, chopped
¼ c. pine nuts
½ t. salt
1 t. sugar
4.5 oz firm tofu
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. onion powder
2 diced scallions

¼ c. finely chopped walnuts

Put the walnuts in your food processor and process briefly to make large crumbs. Set aside and clean the food processor.

Process the almonds, pine nuts, salt, and sugar until creamy, which takes about 2 minutes in my processor.

Drain the tofu and press. Add to nut paste along with vinegar, lemon juice, and onion powder. Process until well mixed. The mixture should resemble thick hummus.

Add the scallions and process briefly to mix.

Roll into a ball or two. This works best if the nut ball is refrigerated for a while first. Roll in the walnuts. Refrigerate until just before serving.

Serve with crackers.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 200 calories/ 8.2 g protein/ 17.4 g fat

Star Wars Meal – Blue Corn Tempeh

Salad with Lettuce, Carrot, Fennel Bulb and Leaves, and Flax Oil Dressing
Star Wars Menu with Blue Corn Tempeh, Brown Rice and Broccoli with Tahini Sauce
Blueberry Vegan Cheesecake

Star Wars Meal

It’s interesting to think about things that might look alien in a science fiction movie. Especially food. In the original Star Wars movie, Luke’s aunt is preparing fennel and a blue smoothie kind of thing. As I have been making meals for favorite books lately, I inevitably turned to Star Wars as a possible fun meal. And what better meal than what my husband thinks of as impossibly alien, tempeh (“it’s a fungus!!”). Of course there had to be fennel and something blueberry – how about cheesecake?

The tempeh recipe is from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine. It’s tempeh marinated in a tahini sauce and breaded with crushed blue corn chips and pistachios. The recipe title is Nooanda’s Pistachio Blue Corn Crusted Tempeh. It’s a great cookbook. I’ve made several things, some more than once. I used the tahini marinade as sauce for broccoli.

I figured any humanoid on a distant planet would be eating something like brown rice and broccoli, two extremely healthy and nutrient rich foods. On a barren planet like Tatooine, I would think only the most nutritious crops would be grown, but then why the fennel? Perhaps it was brought in from a more watery planet? (I know the real reason is because fennel looks so alien!).

I used the fennel in a salad with fennel bulb and leaves, lettuce, carrot, and simple vinaigrette with flax oil, agave, and apple cider vinegar.

I had trouble with the cheesecake. I must have tried 20 or more vegan cheesecake recipes (cheesecake was a specialty in my omnivore days), but I have never made one more than once as I was never satisfied. I just know that with the wonderful vegan cream cheese and sour cream we have, a great cheesecake can be made, but I haven’t come close yet. The recipe from Hungry Hungry Hippie looked promising, made with vegan cream cheese and sour cream, plus cashews and tofu. I had already decided that tofu is a problem in a vegan cheesecake, but there wasn’t much, so I thought I’d try, and had great hopes as the picture looked really creamy. Alas, the cheesecake collapsed as soon as it was out of the pan. I should try it again without the blueberries, which add a lot of moisture, and may have been the main problem. It tasted okay, but as I do not have a super blender, the cashews were a bit grainy which I didn’t want in a creamy cheesecake. Anyway, it was blue.

I am thinking about other books and movies that might deserve a great meal… Dickens, anyone??


Potato Latkes with Vegan Sour Cream, Homemade Applesauce and Salad with Kale, Tomaot, Carrot, Cucumber, and Cashew Butter Dressing


My mother was a great one for holidays. Each holiday had its own decorations and special food. One year, she decided to celebrate a Jewish holiday, and looking at the calendar, she saw the nearest one was Yom Kippur, so she asked a Jewish man who worked with my step father what did they eat on Yom Kippur? To our surprise, he told her it was a day of fasting. Well, I think that put mom off from celebrating Jewish holidays, as I don’t recall we ever did anything for the other Jewish holidays. We did celebrate Japanese Children’s Day though.

When I went away to college, as a rebellious teenager, I stopped celebrating any holidays, even Christmas! However, I mellowed in a couple of years, and slowly began adding holiday celebrations to my activities. Over the years, I’ve developed special meals for each holiday, and have added several extra holidays of my own, such as Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday and Narnia day. I don’t have many decorations, but I do have a lot of music that I play on holidays. I play Christmas music the whole pre-Christmas season from after Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s or beyond. I play the movie music for my literary holidays, and Valentine’s Day calls for some sweet, if not sappy, love music.

When I decided to celebrate Jewish holidays, I read that Hanukkah celebrations usually featured latkes, to remind us of the miraculous oil that burned for 8 days. I, however, thought that doughnuts were a more appropriate oil food, and I didn’t want oily latkes too, so I switched them to have on Rosh Hashanah, and on Hanukkah I have a less greasy carrot loaf with the doughnuts.

Here, then, is my Rosh Hashanah latkes, which my husband loves, now that I don’t fry them in a lot of oil, but fry briefly in a small amount of oil, and then pop them in the oven to finish cooking.

I always make homemade applesauce with latkes, partly because applesauce is not a staple in our house and I forget to get it in time, and partly because I much prefer the flavor and texture of homemade applesauce. I cut up several apples and cook them with raw sugar and water to cover them until they are quite tender and falling apart, about an hour. These sit on the stove while I attend to the latkes.


Makes about 4 servings
Preparation about 45 minutes plus 15 minutes baking

4 medium potatoes, grated (about 4 c.)
1 small onion, diced
3/4 c. white rice flour
¾ c. sorghum flour
1 t. xanthan gum
1 ½ t. salt
2 T. oil in skillet

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grate the potatoes and squeeze out well in a thin towel or cheesecloth.

Mix flours, xanthan gum and salt, and add to potatoes and onion.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and form patties about a handful each. Fry briefly to brown both sides. Fry in batches if necessary and bake about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately with applesauce, sour cream, and something green.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 407 calories/ 9.8 g protein/ 8.5 g fat

Fall Equinox Meal – Walnut Cheddar Loaf

Celery Sticks with Vegan Cream Cheese, Celery Seed, and Black Olives

Vegan Walnut Cheddar Loaf with Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Fall Equinox Meal: Walnut Cheddar Loaf

Although Equinox was a warm day, it felt good to celebrate (which I did a week late) with a fall menu, looking forward to cooler days, as the longer nights are already reminding us. Walnut Cheddar Loaf is a vegan adaptation from my first vegetarian cookbook, Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. I have tried dozens of loaf recipes, but never had one I like better than this. I make it like meatloaf with catsup on top, and have it with mashed potatoes and a green veggie, usually broccoli.

For an appetizer, I like to make celery sticks filled with vegan cream cheese, topped with black olives, and sprinkled with celery seed. My husband loves these too (though not the loaf).

I used Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheddar, but other vegan cheeses would work too.

Add the vegan milk to make a softer loaf, more like meatloaf.

Walnut Cheddar Loaf

Makes about 8 servings
Preparation about 25 minutes
Freezes well

1 ¼ c. cooked brown rice
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 c. (about 3 oz.) grated vegan cheddar
¼ c. soy or other vegan milk (optional)
2 T. nutritional yeast
1 T. olive oil
1 ½ c. onions (1 onion), chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
1 t. Dijon mustard
¼ t. ground black pepper
2 t. dried sage
½ c. catsup

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Sauté onions in the oil until translucent, and add the garlic and sauté a minute until lightly browned. Add to the rest of the ingredients, except the catsup, and mix well. Scrape into a lightly greased loaf pan and smooth the top. Spread the catsup over the top.

Bake about 30 minutes until the edges, under the catsup, are browned.

Adapted from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 217 calories/ 4.8 g protein/ 12.4 g fat

Frodo and Bilbo’s Birthday 2011

Vegetable Pie in a Gluten Free Crust with Broccoli, Potato, Turnip, Carrot, Celery, Sage and Thyme

Lavender Cookies

Frodo and Bilbo’s Birthday 2011

Each year, I celebrate Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday (from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) with a special meal, usually some or a lot of vegan versions of the food Bilbo gave to the dwarves at the beginning of The Hobbit, just before he set out on his long adventure. Last year’s meal and recipe is here. This year, I used a different crust, which I’ll post below.

The Hobbit mentions a seed cake and a biscuit, which is British for a cooky. I combined the two ideas and made seed cookies with caraway and lavender. This year I managed to photograph them before we’d eaten all but one.

May your own celebrations be happy and delicious.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Makes about 6 servings
Preparation about 15 minutes
Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use

¼ c. white rice flour
½ c. brown rice flour
¼ c. millet flour
¼ c. sorghum flour
2 T. potato starch
2 T. tapioca starch
½ t. xanthan gum
½ t salt
1 T. sugar
1/3 c. safflower or light oil
About 3 T. cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the oil and mix well. Add the water bit by bit until the dough holds together when squeezed.

This is crumbly dough, so though it is possible, with a lot of patience, to roll it out, I usually prefer to pat it into my pie pan.

Bake with a filling, or for pre-cooked fillings, bake at 350° about 15 minutes. It goes from light brown to too brown very quickly.

Nutritional information – not guaranteed to be accurate:
Per Serving – 237 calories/ 2.4 g protein/ 12.6 g fat

Narnia Meal Revisited

Narnia Meal - Tofu Brasied with Tamari and Kelp, Asparagus and Potatoes, and an Orange for Dessert

Narnia Meal 2011

For my Narnia meal this year, I made a lower fat, less rich meal than last year, with tofu sautéed in tamari and 1 t. kelp powder, boiled potatoes, asparagus, and a plain orange for dessert. It was still a celebration, and a time to think of the wonderful stories in the Narnia books.

Here is last year’s Narnia Meal and an explanation of why I celebrate it.

Halloween Meal

Pasta with Quick Pesto, Broccoli, and Garlic Gluten Free Bread

Halloween Meal

My Halloween meal for the last three years has had an emphasis on garlic, in case there are any vampires to repel.  We have learned from Buffy, however, that vampires don’t go out much on Halloween. But you just can’t be too careful…

Pasta with Quick Pesto

My husband invented this dish, one of the few things he cooked when we met.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation about 10 minutes, not counting cooking time for pasta
Freezes well

Pasta for 4, cooked according to the package directions
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 T. oil
2-4 T. dry basil

Sauté the garlic in the oil, stirring constantly, until it is light brown and is sticking to the pan. Add the basil and stir for about a minute to saturate in the garlic-scented oil.

Pour on the drained pasta and stir in well.

Garlic Bread

In the picture is sunflower seed rice bread, which I got at Whole Foods.

8 slices bread of your choice
½ c. vegan butter (I like Earth Balance organic whipped)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

Mix the garlic into the veg butter. I let the veg butter soften first about 15 minutes, but be careful if your kitchen is hot, as it melts very easily.

Prepare a casserole or aluminum foil topped with parchment paper. Spread two slices of bread with the garlic mixture and put them together like a sandwich. Repeat with the other slices. Top the casserole or wrap the parchment paper and foil securely and put on a baking sheet to protect your oven. You can also put the foil package on a hot barbecue grill and turn it every few minutes.

To complete the meal, you could sauté broccoli with more garlic, but I thought this meal had enough oil, so I just steamed the broccoli and left it plain.

Happy Halloween!

Orange Cupcakes

Orange Cupcake

Orange Cupcakes

Many years ago, my husband and I belonged to a garden club with little old ladies who brought wonderful potlucks of Middle American cooking. We had an orange cake there that I just loved, and tried for years to duplicate. You have to realize that I grew up in a household where most of the cooking was from scratch, and it took me about 10 years to realize the orange taste had been artificial, and the cake had probably been made from a mix. Nevertheless, I like the cake I developed over the years, always adding more and changing the orange flavors in it. It was easy to veganize, and easy to make gluten free. As with all gluten free cakes, they taste much better if you can give them some time after baking.

Makes about 12 cupcakes or 1 8 x 8 inch cake
Preparation about 25 minutes
Best flavor if made several hours ahead
Freezes well

1 ½ c. flours – for gluten free cake use:
½ c. white rice flour
¼ c. brown rice flour
¼ c. sorghum flour
¼ c. millet or amaranth or quinoa flour
2 T. tapioca starch
2 T. potato starch
½ t. xanthan gum

2 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt

1 ½ t. Ener-G egg replacer mixed with
2 T. water

1/3 c. safflower oil
¾ c. vegan sugar
¼ c. orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
½ c. soymilk
2 t. orange extract or 2 – 6 T. Grand Marnier or Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
1 T. orange zest

Preheat oven to 350°. Line or oil 12 muffin cups.

Mix flours. Set aside.

Mix egg replacer. A whip works best to get it foamy.

Mix sugar and oil. Add orange concentrate, soymilk, orange extract, orange zest, and mixed egg replacer and water. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Scoop into the muffin cups, about ¼ c. batter per cup.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool at least an hour.

Orange icing
Preparation about 10 minutes, plus 20 to ice cupcakes
Make just before icing

1 ½ c. sifted powdered sugar
¼ c. vegan butter (Earth Balance is best)
1 T. orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
1 ½ t. orange zest
1 t. orange extract
orange food coloring (optional)

Mix the powdered sugar and veg butter. Add the rest. Add a little more sugar if too runny.

Ice cupcakes, using an offset spatula, if you have one. These little wonders make icing so much simpler!

I am indebted to Ellen for her lessons in gluten free baking.