Beans

Vegan Monte Cristo Sandwich – Vegan MOFO Iron Chef Challenge!

I haven’t entered any of the Vegan MOFO cooking challenges yet since I had no idea what I’d make with the ingredients given. This one was a no brainer…

We were given three ingredients to work with, Sunflower Seeds, Grapes and Hot Peppers. I used the hot peppers in the dried variety.

With those three ingredients, I created 3 recipes you’ll need to make this sandwich, a Savory Grape Focaccia, Thick “Ham Slices” and a Sweet and Sour Grape-Pepper Jam

Savory Grape Focaccia

  • 1 1/2 C. organic unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour
  • 1  c. warm water
  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
  • 2 t. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 T. dried rosemary
  • 2 T. sunflower seeds (for topping)
  • 1 C. grapes, cut into halves (I used red and green)
  • 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Focaccia Dough: drizzled with olive oil, pressed with grapes and sprinkled with sunflower seeds, red pepper flakes and dried rosemary

Method: Combine flours, half the salt, half the olive oil, the active dry yeast and the warm water in your kneading apparatus (or use a large bowl and your hands) knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Lightly oil a 9×13 pan with extra olive oil then roll press the dough into the pan with your hands to fit the sheet.  Drizzle the dough with remaining olive oil and smooth it all over the surface with your hands. Press grape halves all over into the dough, sprinkle with sunflower seeds, red pepper flakes and the remaining salt. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the meantime, let dough rise again until doubled in size, about 30 more minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden and crispy. Remove from pan and let cool on a cooling rack. Cut into sandwich sized pieces, I got 8 nice sized pieces.

Thick “Ham” Slices

  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C. of my grated smoked coconut gouda or other vegan mozzarella cheez
  • 1/4 C. minced onion
  • 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 C. sunflower seeds
  • 1 t. celery salt
  • 1 T. liquid smoke
  • 1/4 C. vegan fakin’ bacon type bits (I buy mine in bulk at my local health food store, mine have no artificial colorings or unsavory ingredients)
  • 1/4 C. masa harina (finely ground corn meal used for tamales)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If your food processor isn’t broken like mine is at the moment, add all ingredients and pulse til combined. Otherwise, dump everything into a bowl and squish it all to bits with you hands. Beans should be mostly mashed. Press mixture into a lightly oiled (I used pan spray) 9×13 baking dish and score into 8 even pieces with a knife. Spray the mixture with a bit of pan spray and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through and and lightly browned. Remove “ham” slices from the pan with a spatula and let cool on a cooling rack.

Sweet and Sour Grape-Pepper Jam

  • 2 C. grapes (I used all red grapes)
  • 1/2 C. grape juice concentrate (the purple kind from concord grapes)
  • 2-4 dried red chilies, snipped into bits
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 2 t. dry Pomona’s Pectin powder
  • 1 large pinch calcium powder from the Pomona’s Pectin calcium packet

Method: Blend all ingredients in the blender until small bits remain intact, pour mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes then pour into a clean glass jar. Jam will set and thicken while it cools.

Additional Assembly ingredients for the Monte Cristo Sandwich: 

  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Sliced Smoked Coconut Gouda or Vegan Mozzarella Cheez
  • Spinach or Lettuce Leaves
  • Vegan Mayo

Assembly: Preheat your oven on the broil setting, Slice focaccia pieces in half to make sandwiches. On a baking tray place thick “ham” slices and cover with slices of smoked coconut gouda. Spread jam from above on the bottom half of the focaccia pieces, cover with spinach, avocado, tomato slices and smoked coconut gouda slices. Broil all on top oven rack until cheez is melted, about 2-4 minutes. Slather top half of focaccia piece with vegan mayo and some of the jam. Put it all together, see if your mouth will possibly fit over it. If you are feeling absolutely ridiculous, sprinkle the sandwiches with vegan powdered sugar before serving.

Pepper Jack Cashew Cheese

pepper-jack cashew cheez

Warning: This is an incredibly simple recipe, but when making this, work quickly and without interruptions if possible. The cheese sets fast and needs your complete attention!

It shreds and melts!

Updated Pepper Jack Cashew Cheese

  • 1/2 package Pomona’s Pectin (must use this brand! Otherwise it won’t set!)
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 C. raw cashews
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 2 t. crushed red pepper flakes (depending on your heat-o-meter)
  • 1 t. agar powder (optional, makes for an even firmer cheese)
  • you can also quickly stir in some added some canned green chilies and pimientos just before putting in containers to set, but doing so will cause the cheese to have a bit of a shorter shelf life.

Nacho Tower with Pepper Jack Cashew Cheez

Method: Lightly oil half (6) of a cupcake tin rounds in a pan with a 12 cupcake capacity (or if you have a 6 cup one, just use that!). Use your blender to combine 1/2 package of the dry pectin (about 4.5 teaspoons) and the agar powder (optional) with the water and lemon juice. Pour water mixture into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat while stirring constantly. Set to low heat and let simmer while you grind cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder and onion powder until very fine in food processor or with your Estrogen (Blendtec) or Testosterone (Vitamix) Blender. Do not over process and make nut butter.

Mix 1/2 C. water (not included in amount above list) with the small calcium packet from the pomona’s pectin package, set asidePour the boiled water mixture over the ground cashew mixture into the power blender, ignoring instructions in your blender manual that say not to use boiling water in it. Blend until smooth and creamy. It’s gonna thicken quickly, so immediately add HALF (1/4 C.) of the calcium water and the crushed red pepper flakes and pulse until all combined. Immediately pour the hot cheese into the prepared cupcake tin(s).

Refrigerate uncovered for an hour. Turn mini cashew cheeses out onto a plate (upside down) and let set uncovered in the fridge for another 4-5 hours. 1 serving of cashew cheese is half of one mini round, which is the perfect amount for 1 grilled cheese sandwich or 1 quesadilla. This recipe makes 12 servings of cheese. Don’t forget to store the rest of your pectin and calcium water for the next batch. Calcium water stores well in the fridge and the pectin will store in your pantry indefinitely. Cashew cheese keeps for about a week in the fridge and freezes well.

In our house we like to watch Nacho Libre while we eat Nachos.

To make nachos, preheat oven to 450 degrees, layer tortilla chips (we like red hot blues), vegan refried beans, sliced olives, jalapenos and a couple of rounds of grated pepper jack cashew cheese on a baking sheet. Heat for 5-10 minutes or until all hot, melty and bubbly. Serve with sriracha and olive salsa fresca.

You can find Pomona’s Pectin at Whole Foods or order it here online, international orders are available.

Maple Dijon Baked Baby Lima Beans

Lima beans have a bad reputation, I don’t know what they did to deserve it! They are buttery, delicious and generally inoffensive. Especially when baked in a secret sauce… Plus how can you resist the baby ones?

Baked Maple Dijon Baby Lima Beans

Ingredients: 2 C. dried baby lima beans (soaked overnight or with the quick soak method and rinsed), if you have an aversion to lima beans, any white bean will do, 1 small can tomato paste, 2 diced onions, 1/4 C. pure maple syrup, 3 T. dijon mustard, a bit of sea salt, 4 C. vegetable broth, 1 t. baking soda (reduces cook time and gas).

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, on the stove top using a large lidded pot, water sauté onions until translucent, add all other ingredients except for salt and bring to a boil. Put lid on pot and put in the oven. Bake for 2-3 hours until sauce is thick and beans are cooked, add salt at this point to taste. I served these with sautéed collard greens and these fabulous marinated portobello strips.

why does the photo of my dinner look like it was taken in the 70’s?

Dad’s Cowboy Beans

My Dad, despite being a self-confessed carnivore, is one of the biggest supporters of my new vegan lifestyle. He's seen me go through hell and back so I know it truly makes him happy to see how healthy my diet has made me.

Last week he emailed me and asked me to share a recipe with you that he specifically adapted for us "Veg Heads."

Edward Abbey, Milo, Ken Sleight

To give you a little background on Milo (my dad), he's an animal lover, an environmentalist, a real estate developer and rare book collector. Though some of these things may sound contradictory, he worked hard to make his real estate projects environmentally friendly and when I was a child I remember him going to Washington D.C. on a mission to protect the endangered desert tortoises in the Southern Utah area.

He may best be known for his ability to clear a room with a belch.

Growing up we were always vacationing, going river running or camping. Since there were 9 of us kids, we had to travel in a big vehicle, a giant Chevy Suburban that was aptly named "The Tackle Box."

Dad's Man Cave

Our home was always open to strangers and friends, at any given time there was at least 1 or 2 strays staying with us. We always had plenty of good food. My dad really knows his way around the kitchen and he gave me my unrequited love for mashed potatoes.

The real men of Lydia's Canyon, Dad is second to the right

When it comes to food, I have a 4 day leftover rule. After 4 days it gets chucked out. My dad has closer to a 2 week rule.   Because everyone in the family knows his food rule, one holiday family gathering while we were all at my parents house, we were all afraid to eat Dad's Cowboy Beans because we didn't know how long they'd been incubating the fridge. So while dad made a trip to the store, someone secretly dumped the Cowboy Beans and buried them in the woods. When dad came back in, we pretended we had eaten them. It was at that point he told us he had just made them the day before in anticipation of us all coming to stay. Sorry dad….

Dad's Cowboy Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Kidney beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can stewed spiced tomatoes
  • 2 white or yellow onions diced
  • 1 small can green chopped chilies
  • 3 shots (vegan) Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 shots Soy sauce
  • 1 big squirt table mustard and another of Dijon
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ½ C. to 1 full C. brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Method: Cook chilies and chopped onions till well done, throw the rest of it in after draining off about ½ of the bean juice and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat anywhere from ½ hour to 2 days until the flavor and consistency are superb. Eat with big bowl and large spoon. Leave the house and walk 4 miles or one hour after consuming to protect the family and neighbors. 10 servings

Thanks dad for taking these photographs.