Living the WELL Life

A Cold Weather Brunch - by Christina Pirello

Friday, March 05, 2010

There’s nothing like cold weather to create the desire to get together, cook and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones…I love this menu!


Champagne and Pomegranate Juice
Grilled Soy Sausage Sandwiches
Scrambled Tofu Florentine
Fried Tempeh with Apricot Mustard
Shaved Fennel and Artichoke Salad

Champagne and Pomegranate Juice
Chilled pomegranate juice
Chilled champagne or sparkling water
Fresh lime juice

For each drink, mix together equal amounts of juice and champagne, with a light squeeze of lime juice.  Whisk and serve.  Note that these must be mixed to order, as they will get flat and tasteless if made too far in advance.  Serve garnished with lime slices.

Grilled Soy Sausage Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions

extra virgin olive oil
6-8 yellow onions, thinly sliced into half moon pieces
sea salt
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or honey
½ (one half) teaspoon caraway seeds
8 ounces vegan soy sausage, rolled into 3-inch logs or sliced

4-8 thick slices whole grain, sourdough bread
stoneground mustard
4-8 leaves Romaine lettuce, rinsed well, left whole
2 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

Place 2 tablespoons oil in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  Saute onions, with a generous pinch of salt until they begin to wilt.  Stir in rice syrup and caraway seeds, season lightly with salt and cook until onions are quite limp and browned, as long as 25 minutes, stirring frequently.

    When the onions are almost ready, prepare the sausage.  Place a generous amount of oil in a skillet and turn heat to medium.  Add sausage logs and cook, turning frequently, browning them evenly.  Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly so you can handle them.

      Lay bread on a dry work surface.  Spread mustard on half the slices and lay tomato slices and lettuce on top of the mustard.  Slice the sausage logs in half lengthwise and lay them on top of the tomatoes.  Lay remaining bread slices on top and cut in half diagonally.  Makes 2-4 sandwiches.

Scrambled Tofu Florentine
Extra virgin olive oil
½ (one half) yellow onion, finely diced
sea salt
1 small carrot, finely diced
1-2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 tablespoon mirin
1 pound extra firm tofu, coarsely crumbled
¼ (one quarter) teaspoon ground tumeric
½ (one half) bunch arugula, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ (one half) cup shredded soy or rice mozzarella (vegan)
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place a small amount of oil and onion in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until shiny with oil.  Add mirin, crumbled tofu and tumeric and stir well, incorporating tumeric throughout the dish.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in arugula and soy cheese, cover and cook for 1 minute.  Turn off heat and allow to stand until cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir well to combine and serve garnished with fresh parsley.  Makes 3-4 servings.

Fried Tempeh with Apricot Mustard
Extra virgin olive oil
8 ounce block of tempeh, cut into 1-inch triangles

apricot mustard
4 tablespoons stoneground mustard
4 tablespoons unsweetened apricot preserves
grated zest of 1/2 (one half) lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
sea salt
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
1-2 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place enough sesame oil in a skillet to generously cover the bottom.  Turn the heat to medium and when the oil is hot (patterns will form in the oil, known as
dancing) begin pan-frying the tempeh until browned, turning once, cooking 1-2 minutes per side.  Drain on paper and set aside.

For the sauce, simply place all ingredients in a small sauce pan, using salt to your taste.  Warm over low heat until the preserves and rice syrup thin, creating a thick sauce, about 1 minute.  Do not cook until the mixture foams.  As soon as the apricot mustard thins, stir in tempeh to coat.  Transfer to a serving platter and serve garnished with minced parsley.  Makes 3-4 servings.

Shaved Fennel and Artichoke Heart Salad
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thin half moon slices
sea salt

6-8 artichoke hearts, split lengthwise
1 small fennel bulb, tops trimmed, 2-3 tablespoons leaves reserved, very thinly shaved or sliced
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 bunch watercress or escarole, rinsed well and hand-shredded

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and red onion in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute until quite limp, 3-4 minutes.  Add artichoke hearts, sprinkle lightly with salt, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender, 17-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in fennel and lemon juice and adjust seasoning.  Arrange greens on a platter and spoon fennel mixture over top and sprinkle reserved fennel leaves on top, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve warm.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Note: To prepare an artichoke heart, cut the stem of the artichoke off at the base.  Remove the outer leaves of the artichoke by pulling them down so they snap off.  Using a sharp knife, cut the artichoke crosswise, removing the remaining leaves, leaving about a 1 ½ (one half)-inch base.  With a small paring knife, trim the green leaf stubs off the bottom of the base.  Then trim the dark green leaf stubs from the top of the base.  Using a melon baller, remove the hairy choke from the base of the artichoke.  Place the prepared artichoke heart in a bowl of cold water that has had the juice of one lemon mixed in.  Or you can use canned or jarred artichoke hearts and cook them for only 7 minutes.

1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup almond butter
1 cup grain-sweetened non-dairy chocolate chips
3 cups crispy brown rice cereal

In a large sauce pan, heat rice syrup and almond butter until creamy. Stir in chocolate chips until they melt. Remove from heat and stir in crispy rice until well-incorporated. Press into a shallow, square casserole dish. Allow to set until firm. Cut into squares and serve. Makes about 1 dozen. You may also roll them into 2-inch balls instead.
    Variations: Any nut butter is fabulous in this treat. Peanut butter, cashew or hazelnut butter...yummy.


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