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Cooking Tip/Technique Archives - Everyday Vegan Cooking

Everyday Vegan Cooking

Vegan Recipes for Everyday Meals

Category: Cooking Tip/Technique

Vegan Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato (Yam) Quiche

This post is going to be a little bit extensive in details. If at any time you feel that you just want to read the full recipe, just scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a printable, consolidated version of this recipe.

However, I see this post as a vehicle that will carry you through some awesome tips, tricks and cooking techniques that should help you in achieving better results while cooking other recipes that you are already familiar with and will open a window to the thought process behind creating this recipe.

So, what I’m planning to cover besides giving you an awesome quiche recipe?

  • How to create an amazing crumbly but stable pie crust (shortcrust), that you can use for any quiche or a sweet pie (with the addition of just sugar)
  • A binding and delicious vegan custard mix for quiches, savory pies and casseroles (“eggs and cream” / custard substitute).
  • How to easily separate the quiche from a pan with a loose bottom?
  • How to avoid having a runny filling in a quiche that has greens (or mushrooms) in it.
  • How to get that shiny top without using eggs.
  • And probably more.

So let’s start.

What is a quiche?

Quiche  is (from wikipedia) “...a savoury, open-faced pastry crust with a filling of savoury custard with cheese, meat, seafood, and/or vegetables. Quiche can be served hot or cold. It is part of French cuisine but is also popular in other countries, particularly as party food…

From the definition above you can rightly assume that the custard part (usually cream and eggs) is the main barrier between many vegans and the perfect quiche. In addition to that, the pastry crust in the non vegan world is full of butter, that adds fat to the flour and creates a texture to the crust that semi melts in your mouth (butter is solid in room temperature and becomes liquid in your mouth) and very crumbly.

So how do we veganize the custard part of the quiche? 

Let’s start with the recipe and later break it down and explain the function each ingredient plays in this vegan custard version.

In a vitamix or a similar blender, blend:

  • 1 cup of soaked (for 3 hours) raw (unsalted) cashews (or macadamia nuts)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 200 grams (about 1 cup) firm tofu
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Flavoring:

  • 2 TBS nutritional yeasts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt (I use grey sea salt)

Blend all the vegan custard ingredients in a blender to a creamy texture

How did I arrive to the above vegan custard recipe?

The custard plays several roles in the quiche. The main role is to  bind the veggies or other ingredients you decide to put in your quiche. Second, it adds fat and “fluffy” texture (mouthfeel) that is very pleasing, soft, yet with an omelette-like bite to it. The eggs that start as a liquid, become solid and “fluffy” when heated and bind the quiche ingredients to each other. The added cream, will soften the texture of the eggs and will add fat for a more pleasing mouthfeel (just like you would do when you make a non vegan omelette).

My substitute for the binding attributes of eggs is a cashew cream (cashews blended with water). It can basically be any type of nut cream (like macadamia or even almonds), but cashews have relatively high fat content and also serve as a substitute for the fat content a non vegan recipe will get from the cream. When you blend (soaked) cashews with water to a cream consistency and then heat it up, the water evaporates and the cashews  will go back to a solid state, but since it is now spread throughout the quiche, it now has the binding attributes similar to that of an egg. So we got ourself a binder, which adds almost neutral-nutty flavor to our quiche. BTW, why do you soak the cashews? when you soak the cashews they 1. It becomes softer and easier to blend to a smoother texture 2. It become neutral in flavor.

So what’s next? Eggs also tend to expand with heat, giving you this “fluffy” texture. For this attribute of the custard, we will add about 1 teaspoon of baking powder for each cup of soaked cashews.

Let’s move on. We are still missing some fat and protein content in this vegan custard. For that we will add a bit of olive oil and some Firm Tofu. Tofu is not a must here. I got similar binding results without tofu, however, texture wise, when water content evaporates with heat, the tofu serves as a binder as well and in addition, giving the mixture a scrambled-egg-like texture. The downside of having tofu in the mix is the after taste some tofu has. This can be resolved with adding some flavor to the custard like nutritional yeasts, garlic and salt and finding a tofu that is more neutral in flavor (experiment with different brands – go for the freshest tofu you can get).

Lastly, if we would like to get the sheen we get when baking a non-vegan custard, we should add the cornstarch. When cornstarch is baked or fried, it becomes crispy and shiny. 1 tablespoon of cornstarch will give us the desired sheen.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Look at the sheen this quiche has thanks to the added cornstarch.

Ok, now what about the crust?

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (it can be any flour, including GF flour. I used whole sprouted spelt flour)
  • 1/2 cup almonds flour / almonds meal
  • 3 TBS (of 15mL) aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup of refined coconut oil (refined coconut oil is neutral in flavor, you can use a non-refine coconut oil if you don’t mind the faint coconut aftertaste you get)
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix it all with your hand to a crumbly dough.

How did I arrive to this crust / shortcrust recipe?

The almonds flours helps a lot in achieving the desired crumbling effect of the crust. If you only use flour (and omit the almonds flour) and over process/kneed the dough,  there are high chances that the crust will be too stiff and dry, similar in texture to a cracker and will not be as pleasant to cut and eat, texture wise. The almond fine grains, are making sure that this will not happen, as they separate between the flour parts (gluten and starches). It also adds some awesome nutty flavor to the final outcome. #win

Aquafaba (AF). Well, for over a year now I use AF to sub eggs in pastry with amazing results. The AF will make the crust softer and will even help it rise a bit, just like an egg would do.

Refined coconut oil. Coconut oil is a fat that has some similar attributes to that of a butter. It does liquefy in a lower temperature than butter, but it works great in this recipe. You can use olive oil instead, however, the end result will be less “melt-in-your-mouth”. When the quiche cools down, the coconut oils solidifies and when you put it in your mouth – it melts, just like butter. If you have some time in your hand, and would like to achieve similar melting temperature for your fat content, you can melt 1 part of cocoa butter with 10 parts of coconut oil and use it in this recipe. I find it better to use in sweet pie crusts than savory crusts, though the cocoa flavor is hardly noticeable. you really have to look for it to notice it.

If you would like to use this shortcrust recipe in sweet pies, just add two tablespoons of sugar to this recipe and reduce the salt content to 1/4 teaspoon.

Shaping the crust

This crust dough, doesn’t need refrigeration before you put it in a pan. You simply crumble it onto your 10″ pie pan and press it to the pan evenly with your fingers:

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Here is how you shape some nice edge to the pie:

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Stab it slightly with a fork, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

How do you make the filling?

Now, when you already know how to make the perfect crust and the perfect vegan custard, you can go wild with the filling you choose. You can basically veganize any non-vegan recipe of your choice.

In this case, I used the following veggies:

The Yam (sweet potato)

I’ve boiled diced sweet potatoes (to avoid undercooking) in salty water. Just bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Use the same process but boil for extra two minutes, if you decide to use potatoes in your quiche.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) QuicheThe swiss chard

I’ve sauteed a big bunch of sliced swiss chard, making sure that there are no excess liquids. In this process, the chard loses about 4/5 of its volume! The same process is applicable to mushrooms in case you want to make a fried onions and mushrooms quiche.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) QuicheThe shallots

I finely sliced two shallots and placed them in a large mixing bowl.

Assembling the quiche and baking

In a large bowl, mix with a spatula your boiled yams, chard, shallots and your vegan custard.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Take your crust out of the fridge and spread the mixture evenly in the crust using a spatula.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Bake on 320F for about 45 minutes or until you see that your pie gets the desired sheen.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Place your pie on a container that is slightly narrow than the perimeter of the pie and slide the metal edge down.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Now it’s ready to cut.

Vegan Swiss Chard & Yam (sweet potato) Quiche

Some afterthoughts. I would add some roasted bell peppers to the next quiche I would made. I think it would add some nice texture and flavor to it.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this post and if you like me to post more posts in this fashion.

Guy

Here is the printable recipe:

5.0 from 3 reviews
Vegan Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato (Yam) Quiche
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a recipe that fits a 10" pie pan.
Cuisine: French
Ingredients
The vegan custard
In a vitamix or a similar blender, blend:
  • 1 cup of soaked (for 3 hours) raw (unsalted) cashews (or macadamia nuts)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 200 grams (about 1 cup) firm tofu
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeasts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt (I use grey sea salt)
The veggies
  • 1 large sweet potato diced and boiled in salty water for a minute.
  • 1 big bunch of swiss chard sliced and sauteed until all water content evaporates
  • 2 shallots thinly sliced
The crust
  • 1½ cups of flour (it can be any flour, including GF flour. I used whole sprouted spelt flour)
  • ½ cup almonds flour / almonds meal
  • 3 TBS (of 15mL) aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • ½ cup of refined coconut oil (refined coconut oil is neutral in flavor, you can use a non-refine coconut oil if you don't mind the faint coconut aftertaste you get)
  • 1 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Make the crust. Mix all the crust ingredients with your hands to a crumbly dough. Crumble the dough evenly on a pie pan with a loose bottom. Use your fingers to flatten the dough evenly to the surface and edges. Stub the bottom of the crust slightly with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring the diced yam to a boil in a pot with salty water. remove from heat.
  3. Sautee a big bunch of sliced Swiss chard until all water evaporates.
  4. shallots - finely sliced
  5. Put the yums, shallots and chard in a large bowl.
  6. Blend all the vegan custard ingredients in a blender and mix, using a spatula in a bowl with the veggies.
  7. Take the crust out of the fridge and spread the above mix evenly using a spatula.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes at 320F until the quiche gets a sheen

 

Red Lentils Omelet / Savory Pancake Recipe

Before I’ve transitioned to a vegan diet, one of the most common dinners that I used to have was an omelet and a salad (usually along other condiments and bread). Since the transition, I’ve explored and developed many vegan omelets recipes that I love which I will probably share in the future. I’ve recently started making this recipe and I find it to be one of the tastiest versions of a vegan omelet. These vegan lentils omelets are very nutritious and full of protein and I bet you and your family will love to have it for dinner.

Please note: you will probably need a strong blender like the Vitamix to prepare this recipe as weaker blenders cannot create a smooth enough mixture from red lentils.

Ingredients for 8 medium omelets:

Must haves:

1 cup of red lentils – washed
1 cup of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Olive oil for frying.

Optional – for flavor:

Small bunch of parsley
1 glove of garlic
3 TBS nutritional yeasts – will add nutritional values as well as egg yolk flavor
1 shallot
1/2 tsp Kala namak – a salt with a taste and a smell of sulfur – will give the omelet an egg like taste

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Directions:

1. Place the lentils, water, clove of garlic, nutritional yeasts, salt, half of the parsley and Kala Namak in the blender container and blend for about 2 minutes until very smooth and creamy. It is better to put the lentils and water first, when you start preparing the ingredients for this recipe so the lentils will soak in water for few minutes. Add the other ingredients as you have them ready.

2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the chopped shallot, chopped other half of the parsley and the baking powder. Taste the mixture to see if it is salty enough for your taste, I like it less salty than others.  Mix well.

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3. Preheat a nonstick pan on a medium heat, add some olive oil. Using a ladle put from the mixture in the pan and fry from one side for about 2-3 minutes until the top part is slightly dry.

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4. Flip the omelets using a flexible flip turner, the omelet should be slightly brown. Fry the other side of the omelet for additional 2 minutes.

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5. Transfer the omelets to a plate lined with paper towels. It is ready.

Serve warm or eat cold a day after in your sandwich or lunch box. I suggest to serve it with fresh raw salads, tahini, hummus, olives and bread.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Red Lentils Omelet / Savory Pancake Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8 Medium
Ingredients
Must haves:
  • 1 cup of red lentils - washed
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Olive oil for frying.
Optional - for flavor:
  • Small bunch of parsley
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 3 TBS nutritional yeasts - will add nutritional values as well as egg yolk flavor
  • 1 shallot
  • ½ tsp Kala namak - a salt with a taste and a smell of sulfur - will give the omelet an egg like taste
Instructions
  1. Place the lentils, water, clove of garlic, nutritional yeasts, salt, half of the parsley and Kala Namak in the blender container and blend for about 2 minutes until very smooth and creamy. It is better to put the lentils and water first, when you start preparing the ingredients for this recipe so the lentils will soak in water for few minutes. Add the other ingredients as you have them ready.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the chopped shallot, chopped other half of the parsley and the baking powder. Taste the mixture to see if it is salty enough for your taste, I like it less salty than others. Mix well.
  3. Preheat a nonstick pan on a medium heat, add some olive oil. Using a ladle put from the mixture in the pan and fry from one side for about 2-3 minutes until the top part is slightly dry.
  4. Flip using a flip turner, the omelet should be slightly brown. Fry the other side of the omelet for additional 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. It is ready.
Serve warm or eat cold a day after in your sandwich or lunch box. I suggest to serve it with fresh raw salads, tahini, hummus, olives and bread.

 

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Oven roasted corn tastes much different than corn cooked in boiling water. You can cook your corn using different cooking techniques and even eat it raw: you can boil it, grill it, with the husks, without the husks, brush it with oil and spices or just serve it with some salt. It is very hard to ruin a fresh corn on the cob when cooking it.

This is yet another very simple recipe that will help you make perfect corn! no more guessing if it has boiled long enough or burning it on the grill. the corn comes out hot, tender al dente and absolutely delicious! It is also the perfect solution for parties, as it is easier to fit many more corn in the oven than in a pot.

This technique will yield a more firm, crunchy and juicy corn and can serve as a template recipe that you can adjust to your particular taste. If you are up to it, you can follow the same steps described in the directions but instead of using an oven, use a grill. it will be ready in less time but will require more attention. If you would like more detailed instructions about grilling corn, please leave a comment and I will reply to it.

Ingredients:

4 ears fresh corn
Optional:
Olive oil
Soy sauce
Mirin
salt
Sweet chili sauce

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C).

2. Place corn husks directly on the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.

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3. Take the corn out of the oven using oven gloves and place on a surface like a big plate or a cutting board. I really like these gloves that I linked to, they are heat resistant and still gives you enough flexibility when handling hot things you take out of the oven.

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4. You can peel down the husks, using the oven gloves and use as a handle when eating. You can sprinkle some salt and eat it as is, it will be delicious! However, you can proceed with the next step, which will make it more special.

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5. Wash the husks in water, this will prevent it from burning while you roast the corn the second time. Twist the husks a little, so it will be easy to hold. You can also make a knot if you feel extremely creative 🙂

6. Brush the corn with some flavored liquid or sauce: Olive oil and salt – will not overpower the corn taste but will enhance its flavor. 3 Parts of soy sauce + 1 part of Mirin – will give you a Japanese style corn (especially if you use your grill instead of your oven). Sweet chili sauce – will give it a sweetness and spiciness. Be creative and flavor it as you like. If you are brushing it with a thick dressing that might drop in your oven – it is wise to place a baking pan underneath the corn rack.

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7. Place the corn back in the oven and bake for additional 15-30 minutes until slightly brown.

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8. Serve.

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5 Minute Pasta Tomato Sauce & a Brief Introduction to Pasta Cooking

I never buy jarred or a canned tomato sauce since I always sense an after-taste in these pre-made and packed sauces – the taste of preservatives, or the unpleasant taste of processed food even in those declared “preservative free”.

When I don’t have an hour to prepare a really good tomato pasta sauce (I promise to post a recipe next time I make one) I cook the sauce using the shortcut technique described below.

Before going into recipes, two tips that will improve the flavor and the texture of any pasta dish you make. Try using them for your favorite pasta recipe and see the difference. I promise you will take it up a notch in terms of texture and flavor.

Tip #1 – How to cook pasta?

The Italians say that to cook pasta properly you need 1 liter of water and10 grams of salt to every 100 grams of pasta. If you’re willing to weigh your salt and pasta, and to measure the volume of the water you use, I encourage you to use this scientific-like method. However, I assure you that a less scientific one will work just as well.

1. Bring the water to a boil: fill a large pot with water, 2/3 of the way, and turn up the heat to the maximum.

2. Salt the water: add salt by the teaspoon and taste the water after adding each teaspoon. When it tastes like the ocean – salty, but not too much – it’s the perfect time to add your pasta. How will you know when you have reached this point of perfection? Easily. Before reaching it, the water will taste too bland and after passing it – too salty.

3. Add the pasta and stir it with a long wooden spoon: this will prevent any of it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

4. Lower to medium-high heat and cook. Stir every 2 minutes or so, until the pasta is cooked all the way through. Bite the pasta after 6-7 minutes. If you feel it has a white spot in the center, or if it is too hard all over, it is not ready. Your pasta is ready when it is cooked all the way through but still firm. I find that the cooking time (in minutes) indicated on the pasta packaging is usually accurate.

5. When the pasta is ready, remove about 1 cup of the cooking water to save for later use when preparing the sauce (using my second tip below).

6. Turn off the stove and empty the entire pot into a strainer. Shake well, to discard all excess water, and cover with a lid.

7. If you don’t intend to use the pasta within 20 minutes, mix in a bit of olive oil (a teaspoon or two will do) – it will keep the noodles from sticking to each other. This works, however it is less favorable since the oil will create a barrier between the pasta and the sauce.

Tip #2 – Use the pasta cooking-water for your sauce

Before serving the pasta, add the sauce (any sauce!) to a pan, add the pasta and 1/2 a cup of the starchy-salty water you used to cook the pasta in. Cook in medium high heat for about 2 minutes and serve.

The starchy water works in two ways:

1. It serves as a “glue” bonding the pasta with the sauce, thus creating a much better, starchier (but in a good way) texture to the dish.

2. As odd as it sounds, it is also makes your sauce more “creamy”, even if you haven’t used any cream.

Try the above tips in your favorite pasta recipe and see the difference, I promise you will take it up a notch in terms of texture and flavor.

 

A simple 5 minute pasta tomato sauce 

This is a template recipe, you can enhance it’s flavor and texture and make it more complex by adding more texture and flavor to it with more ingredients. Try adding olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, jalapeno, mushrooms etc’. Please note that we are not frying the ingredients in oil, but creating an emulsion from the oil and the tomatoes’ liquids.

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes – diced

2 cloves of garlic – sliced

2 TBS of olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 basil leaves – chiffonade or 1 tsp of dry oregano (optional)

1/4 bell pepper – diced (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all the ingredients in a wok, Turn the heat high.

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2. Within 2 minutes, the tomatoes’ skins will begin to separate

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3. Stir occasionally. After 5 minutes the sauce will be ready.

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4. Add the pasta and 1/2 a cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauce.

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5. Mix well and cook for another minute.

6. Serve. You can garnish with some finely chopped parsley for decoration.

Printable recipe:

A simple 5 minute pasta tomato sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a template recipe. Please note that when preparing it we do not fry its ingredients in the oil, but rather create an emulsion from the oil and the tomatoes’ liquids You are invited to enhance its flavor and texture to create a richer sauce by adding more ingredients. Try adding olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, jalapeno, mushrooms etc’.
Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes – diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – sliced
  • 2 TBS of olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 fresh basil leaves – chiffonade, or 1 tsp of dry oregano (optional)
  • ¼ bell pepper – diced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a wok. Turn the heat high.
  2. Within 2 minutes, the tomatoes’ skins will begin to separate.
  3. Stir occasionally. After 5 minutes the sauce will be ready.
  4. Add the pasta and ½ a cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauce.
  5. Mix well and cook for another minute.
  6. Serve. You can garnish with some finely chopped parsley for decoration.

 

Seeding peppers – How to seed a pepper?

This is the first blog post that deals with a cooking method, tip or technique. I’m using this method for years, but haven’t seen others doing it (though after showing it to some people during the years, I was told that they are also doing that). This is especially useful when you have to seed these spicy Jalapeños but will work with any pepper.

Using the method described in the photos below, might save you some time when cooking in the near future.

No seeding – just the right way to cut it 🙂

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