My Communal Table


Beet Samosas with Mint Sauce
November 2, 2010, 11:14 am
Filed under: Appetizers, sauces and condiments | Tags: , , , ,

Beets! Yes, you read it correctly. They have to be the most beautiful of the root vegetables and I just adore them. These samosas have a nice flaky crisp when you bite into them. The beets are so naturally sweet that is almost could be served as a dessert. Then you put some mint sauce with it and you have fresh taste with a big kick. Being a member of the spinach family its loaded with tons of nutrients, fiber and low in calories and fat. Without even trying, I made a wonderful vegan dish. It is always good to have a few of those up your selves.

I had my youngest son’s two best buddies and their families over for Sunday dinner and I served these. The samosas were a hit with the kids because they were sweet and then with the addition of the mint sauce… it makes it far more sophisticated for the adults. One of keys to successful entertaining is to have your most of your meal prepared ahead of time. These take a little time to prepare, but hold wonderfully while you are pulling together your meal.

We gobbled down the leftover samosas the next morning with lots of strong tea and it was a fabulous breakfast.

Makes 12

Beet Samosas:

2 beets, medium size
3 cloves garlic
3-5 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
8 sheets of filo
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
1 lime, juice of

1. Peel beets and quarter them, placing in foil.

2. Add garlic, salt & pepper, then cover beets with oil. Secure foil around beets.

3. Cook in foil at 400F for about 40 minutes. Make sure the beets are tender.

4. When beets cool, grate them and place in a bowl.

5. Add soft garlic from foil, grated ginger, and lime juice. Then salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

6. Place 1 filo sheet on work surface, brush with olive oil, place next filo sheet on top, brush with olive oil, repeat for a total of 4 sheets of filo.

7. Cut filo into 6 equal strips along the width.

8. Place a heaping tablespoon of beet mixture on one end of strip and fold like a flag, forming a triangle. Place on baking sheet.
Repeat with the next four sheets of filo.

9. Bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and flaky. Serve with mint sauce.

Mint Sauce:

1/2 cup mint, fresh
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh
1 jalapeno, deseeded & deveined
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon white onion
1 1/2 tablespoon Water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
salt & pepper, to taste

1. Add mint through water in food processor and blend until finely chopped. Put in bowl.

2. Add sesame oil, salt and pepper. Serve with beet samosas.

This dish is inexpensive to make, but packs a bunch in presentation and flavor. It is a little labor intensive on the beginning end, but super easy to make in advance. I love how everyone was so appreciative of the effort I made for the meal. Everyone felt so taken care of. Now that is what makes entertaining fun for me.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Wacky Cake

I am not baker by any means. Actually, I do not even have much of a sweet tooth, but do expect a quick fork jab in your hand if you even try to take a french fry from my plate. Now, I have a son with real sweet tooth and I have a inclination of indulging it because he is allergic to everything else. He is so patient when we are at school or social events and the food that is served is nothing he can eat due to his allergies. He’ll say, “It’s okay, mommy. I was not hungry anyway.” Ohhh, it just breaks my heart a little, but my pride of how well he handles these situations everytime heals the heart break immediately. So I bake…so I indulge.

Wacky cake, crazy cake or depression cake are some of the names that I have heard it called. This spongy rich cake is made with oil, cocoa, and vinegar, but no eggs and dairy. Eggs and dairy were not readily available during the Depression, so the wacky cake was born. You can make it with everything you have in your pantry. It was present at almost every Methodist potluck I attended in my childhood. I also remember that is was the only cake my mom ever made right it in the same pan that she baked it in. I revisited this recipe when I learned that my son had allergies. I have heard it touted as a vegan cake, but giggle at the thought of explaining to the ladies at the church social back in the 70’s-80’s what the word “vegan” meant. How the world has changed, huh? This cake is just good, fast and easy to make and my son can eat it.

Original Version:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 T. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 T. vinegar
6 T. vegetable oil
1 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a 9inch square baking pan, mix all the ingredients through salt. Make sure that it is all blended well.
3. Then add vanilla, vinegar, oil and water. Stir well.
4. Bake in oven for approximently 25-30 minutes. You want to make sure that is not over cooked.

My version:
Add 1 banana mushed
Use only 5 T. oil
Replace 1/2 of the water with coffee

Glaze:
4 T. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. Cocoa powder
1-2 T. Milk/Rice Milk

1. In microwave safe dish, melt butter in microwave.
2. Stir in the sugar and cocoa.
3. Slowly add in milk until smooth

Banana Cake version:

Omit cocoa powder
2 mashed bananas added
only 4 T. oil
add extra 1/2 t. vanilla
a few grates of nutmeg

Note: We placed a few ripe pear slices on top before we baked it. Turned out great. Do not know why you could not add strawberries or blueberries. Endless possibilities.

I am here to say Wacky Cake is one sane and satisfying cake. I would love to hear about your different takes on this recipe and about the wacky family members you make it for. Super good and cost effective on top of it.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Greens and Potato Soup for Meatless Monday

“Meatless Mondays!” An intiative with the goal to reduce meat consumption by 15% to improve personal health and the health of our planet. I just love the idea and found out that “Meatless Mondays” is not a new concept. It was first introduced to Americans during World War 1 by the US Food Adminstration, though is was reintroduced in 2003 for health, as a way to reduce the consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” were born. According to Meatless Mondays.com

The effect was overwhelming. Some 10 million families, 7,000 hotels and nearly 425,000 food dealers pledged to observe national meatless days. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved some 116 tons of meat over the course of just one week. According to a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently for the better”.

Now do not get me wrong, I have said often the I am unapologetic carnivore, but working towards better health and safer planet is really a no-brainer. I make an effort to know where my meat comes from and I no longer desire to have an entire side of beef at one sitting to feel satisfaction. So we, as a family, decided to start not having any meat one day a week. No beef, chicken, pork or fish, so when you have a son that is allergic to dairy and eggs its more like vegan Mondays.

Okay, I was a little scared about doing this, but it has turned out surprisingly well. I have never allowed my child to eat something different then what the adults are eating unless is has to do with his allergies. I am not a short order cook to meet his every whim when it comes to food. I also believe that this really helps with the ability to try new things in many aspects of life. Have you ever know a super picky eater that loves to travel and explore new things? Gabriel know that what is served is what he gets for dinner or he doesn’t eat that evening. That being said, I do try to find things that he will find pleasurable. Soup is my best vehicle for going meatless for my six-year-old. He loves soup.

Super fast, super tasty, super healthy is Greens and Potato Soup. My six-year-old actually ate two bowls full.

Serves 2-4

Kale, one big bunch
3 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into chucks
1 large leek, thinly sliced
2 gloves of garlic
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 big handfuls washed spinach
fresh dill or other herbs that you have on hand.
few pinches hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Finish with purple onion,olive oil, and peashoots.

1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.

2. Remove heavy thick stems from kale and slice up.

3. Place kale in boiling water for about ten minutes. Take a test bite of the kale and make sure that it is tender. When tender, drain.

4. In second sauce pan, place potatoes, leeks, and garlic with broth. Put enough broth in to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook until tender.

5. Use a potato masher to mash-up the potatoes in the broth.

6. Add cooked kale, spinach, herbs, and seasonings.

7. Add more broth if necessary, then heat through.

8. Taste and adjust seasonings.

9. Serve and garnish as desired. Today I garnished with purple onions, a drizzle of olive oil (would have loved pumpkin seed oil, but I can not find it), and a few sweet pea shoots.

Note: a. You can make this super thick or soupy. I have made it thick like mashed potatoes as well. Just use less broth.
b. You can also mix up your greens. Use whatever ones you have on hand.
c. I have also added curry powder to this soup as well for a different flavor sensation.

Think about Meatless Mondays you and your family. When you join me and my family on Mondays at my communal table you will find us enjoying the bounty of vegetables and grains. I seem to make a new recipe every week to learn more and more about how to cook this way. I would love to hear about your favorite Meatless meals.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Creamy Cauliflower Sauce & Pasta

In my never ending search for the perfect comfort food that is low in fat and calories, I decided to make the much talked about whipped cauliflower. It is rumored that it would replace my cravings for the much more fat ladened mashed potatoes. I started out by roasting the cauliflower with garlic in the oven, then I blended in chicken stock with my emursion blender. There was not one sign of it even resembling my beloved mashed potatoes, but what emerged was a pasta sauce. Hey, the flavor was good… I started the pasta water to boil.

I have made this as a pasta sauce over and over again. Super creamy, super satisfying, and has become a comfort food for my son. With his allergy to dairy, I realized that Gabriel had not had much of that creamy texture pasta comfort that good plate of mac and cheese would give you. This has become his mac and cheese and I have some gratification that I have figured out a beautiful healthy comfort food that my son is going to carry with him through his life. Maybe he will tell the story of the disaster that turned into his favorite pasta recipe to his children. Okay, okay, I am a total sap. Get used to it!


Serves 6

1 head of cauliflower, seperated into florets
3-5 gloves of garlic, smashed
3-4 T. olive oil
fresh thyme sprigs, 3 or 4
3-4 cups chicken stock
2-4 T butter, I use Earth balance, which is vegan friendly
1 lb. pasta, traditional or whole wheat works great
1 15 oz can of butter beans, drained
big handful of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place cauliflower florets on baking sheet with the smashed up cloves of garlic.

2. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Throw the sprigs of thyme on a baking sheet then toss all the ingredients together, making sure everything is coated with the oil.

3. Place in preheated oven at 400F for about twenty minutes. You will know it is done when the cauliflower is roasted a light brown and cooked through. Remember, brown adds flavor.

4. Place everything from the baking sheet into a large sauce pan or blender, except the wood of the thyme springs. Pop the garlic out of its peels, then add.

5. Add some chicken broth and start emulsion blender or stand blender slowly. Keep adding chicken broth until you get a smooth consistency. I throw in some butter to blend into the sauce to give it a nice finish.

6. If you are using a blender, put the sauce in a sauce pan to keep heated. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust. Taste always while cooking.

7. Start your pasta water boiling. Drop pasta in water when ready. Cook through.

8. Place drained beans into sauce. Heat through in pasta sauce.

9. Add drained pasta to sauce. Throw in hand fulls of fresh basil. Toss.

10. When I plate it, I drizzle some very virgin olive oil on the top.

I have made this ahead of time and put in a lightly greased baking dish, then topped with cracker crumbs and baked as a casserole. I have added tomatoes and spinach in it. I have grated cheese on it when I served it or just added it to casserole.

So for leftovers…

I love to add a few things to leftovers to make them different. I added red peppers (from a jar), chopped purple onion, peapods, capers, drained tuna, and a tablespoon of mayo to the cold pasta and you have a delicious tuna pasta salad for lunch.

By the way, I still think mashed potato is perfect comfort food and there really is no subsitute.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
February 24, 2010, 4:06 pm
Filed under: bread, Desserts, Vegan | Tags: , , ,

Okay, okay, okay… I know whole wheat muffins are usually horrible, but I think that I found a recipe that I actually like and will make again. It started when I was reading Mark Bittman’s recipe for whole wheat muffins and my son said that he had never had a muffin in his entire life. I thought, of course, he hadn’t with severe dairy and egg allergies. Well, I converted Mark’s recipe to a vegan one, so my son could eat it.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I use beet juice sugar, which drops the calories and glycemic index)
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup mashed or pureed banana, sweet potato, apple, zucchini, pear, etc.
1 1/2 t. egg replacer (available at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup + 2T. soy milk (vanilla)
2 T. vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredient first, then add wet. I used mashed pear for my fruit and a handful of blueberries tossed in flour after everything was mixed.
2. Baked for about 20 minutes at 375F.

This recipe made 14 cupcakes making every muffin about 100 calories, when I did the nutritional breakdown on it. Better yet, my son loved his first muffin. He actually requested I put some in his lunch box.



Pancakes from your pantry.
July 9, 2009, 4:41 am
Filed under: Breakfast, Vegan | Tags: , ,

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I love pancakes, but how many times do you wake up on that Sunday morning and realize that you are missing that one fresh ingredient that is needed for those much loved pancakes.

I started experimenting with vegan recipes because my son has severe food allergies and can not have most baked goods. I just wouldn’t settle. I wanted that perfect pancake that I could serve to my son and everyone else. It would be a success if no one knew that it was vegan. I found it.

Now do not get me wrong. I am an unapologetic carnivore, but you will see quite a few vegan recipes. First, it fits many of my sons dietary restrictions. Second, it is better for the enviroment  that we eat less meat. Third, it is healthier for us. Drats!

Vegan Pancakes

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 T. sugar (I ususally use beet juice sugar. Much lower glycemic level)

1 T. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1/8t. nutmeg

3 t. Egg Replacer (I get this powder at Whole Foods)

1 1/2 cup soy milk

1/2 t. vanilla ( if your soy has vanilla flavor, omit)

Mix dry ingredients first and then whisk in liguids. You are now ready for your griddle. I usually use soy butter and pure maple syrup. And your berries, bananas… whatever you want added before the first flip.

I also use this recipe for waffles. I make extra and freeze them to pop in the toaster for a mid week breakfast.