2015 Lenten Potluck #6: Earthy Mac n Lentils

Seems to me pasta with some kind of creamy, possibly cheesy, sauce is one of the best foods ever in the whole world. I guess that’s why I grabbed this weird gluten free, 100% lentil penne from Uddo’s Kitchen, I just couldn’t resist. But the first time I tried some, something really odd happened. The water thickened and turned milky. I started to think maybe the lentil-y water would make a good soup base, so I drained it into a jar and put it in the fridge. And when I looked at it the next day…

I saw it separated, and there was a sort of a lentil paste at the bottom of the jar.

Hey, what if I made my coconut milk cheese, but left out the tapioca/corn starch and the agar agar, and added in this lentil mush? Lentils have a very earthy flavor, so this isn’t gonna be like Kraft mac n cheese. That’s okay. We’ll expand our horizons.

So, I boiled the remaining pasta (two of the three bags, you get three bags when you buy a box from Costco). My pasta pan with the special lid for draining wasn’t really big enough for all the water called for in the directions, so I just used enough water to cover the pasta…that was sort of a mistake. Because although it cooked through just fine, I could. Not. Drain. The pasta. The water really thickened up this time. Oops.

I added a tablespoon of tahini and stirred. Then seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir. Careful not to mash the pasta, gluten free pasta seems to be more delicate than it’s gluton-full counterpart.

Add the earthy cheez sauce…

stir to coat.

This really made a lovely sauce. As you might imagine, there is a very strong lentil taste. This recipe is oil free, but on an oil day sauteed onions and garlic would be an excellent addition. Maybe even crispy fried onions, like the kind used to garnish mjuddara.

We had a smaller crowd today,

but those who came brought the good stuff!

I did very well today taking small portions – it only took six weeks to gain self control!
For the first round, I had a small bowl of Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-Cancer Soup, a stuffed grape leaf, some delicious bread, a wonderful rice with veggies that was topped with slivered almonds, baba ghanouj, and a stuffed cabbage roll with tomatoes. Not pictured, I had a small bowl of minestrone that was packed with chickpeas and veggies and lots of black pepper, and a little square of wacky cake with walnuts and cranberries.

This is the last of our Wednesday evening Lenten potlucks, but we also have a tradition of throwing together a coffee hour after the Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday. Then for Palm Sunday (remember, we Orthodox are a week behind Western Easter this year) we’ll have a parish lunch and bring Lenten desserts to share.

Does your parish do anything special for Lazarus Saturday?

Recipe Recap
~2 C Lentil broth/paste from previously boiled & drained lentil penne
1 13oz can full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp salt
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste

24oz Uddo’s Kitchen red lentil penne
1 heaping Tbsp tahini
salt, pepper & garlic to taste

In a saucepan over low medium heat, combine coconut milk and lentil paste. Add remaining ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Allow sauce to boil lightly for a few minutes so it will thicken. If you do not plan to use the sauce right away, let it cook and store it in an air tight container, probably best to use within one to two days.

Boil penne according to instructions, but using just enough water to cover. When done, penne should be coated in the creamy, thickened boil water. Add tahini and stir to coat – you may need to add a little more water if it seems too thick. Season pasta with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.

Add sauce. Stir gently to combine, careful not to mash the pasta.

2015 Lenten Potluck #5: Artoklasia Cake for Annunciation

Yesterday the fast was relaxed for the feast of Annunciation, the day we commemorate “the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb.” Even better, the feast fell on a Wednesday this year, so it’s one of the rare times wine and oil are permitted not only on a weekday during Lent, but on a Wednesday in general. I wanted to take full advantage of that!

A couple years ago I shared the recipe Fr. R and I used for Artoklasia bread, a sweet bread that is blessed and served on certain feast days. But what if…

Artoklasia Cake
3 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp anise seed
3 Tbsp vinegar
3 Tbsp gin*
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C cold water
1 1/4 C orange juice
1 C margarine, melted or extremely soft

For the soak:
1 1/2 C sweet red wine
1/2 C orange juice
olive oil
confectioners sugar

*I couldn’t find masticha like we used in our bread, so I used gin for the pine taste. By the way, this is actually just another variation on my Lenten Cake recipe, it’s so versatile!

WARNING: This is not to actually be used for an Artoklasia service! Not that your priest would let you get away with that 🙂

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add first four ingredients to a large bowl and mix with a fork. Make a well in the center, and pour in all wet ingredients. Mix just to combine. This recipe will make one 9×13″ cake or two 8″ round cakes. A large cake takes approximately 45 minutes to bake, smaller cakes about 25 (keep an eye on them and check the center with a toothpick when in doubt). Make sure you grease or line the cake pans.

Allow cake(s) to cool.
Combine 1 1/2 C red wine with 1/2 C orange juice.

Poke holes in the cake – I used a fork. Slowly pour the orange wine mixture all over the cake, giving it time to soak in, and making sure to distribute the liquid evenly between cakes if you made more than one. Chill cake in the fridge for at least half an hour.

When ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve immediately as the sugar will quickly begin to dissolve.

I meant to bring my little fine mesh strainer to help evenly and beautifully distribute the confectioners sugar over the top of the cake. I forgot it and had to use a wire colander with bigger holes…the confectioners sugar just kind of poured right through it!

The cake will be very soft, you can use an ice cream scoop to serve it.

I’ll tell you a story. I still remember the first time Fr. R made Artoklasia bread for us, it was for the vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil on Holy Saturday morning about six or seven years ago [actually it was EIGHT years ago, I can’t believe it]. There is a bottle of wine and a bottle of olive oil on the analogion with the bread while it’s being blessed (and wheat, in some traditions). In some places they give you a piece of the bread and little cup of wine, we just pour the wine over the bread and sometimes sprinkle it with confectioners sugar. Holy Saturday is a rare oil-free Saturday because we are keeping vigil, awaiting the Resurrection, so we just have a little bread and wine to hold us over. But that first Year of the Artoklasia someone made a mistake and drizzled the bread with olive oil before completely drenching it in wine and then covering it with sugar. The oil free business didn’t even cross my mind at the time – maybe I didn’t know about that then – and I just LOVED that bread.

The next year I was talking to an inquirer at coffee hour. I told her she had to go to the service on Holy Saturday morning because THE BREAD IS SO GOOD. When she walked away my sister wanted to know why, of all things, that was the one thing I thought to tell her about Holy Saturday. It does seem a little silly now, but that bread was good…and it is the inspiration for this cake.

P.S. The inquirer has now been a member of our parish for many years 🙂

2015 Lenten Potluck #4: Mortar & Pestle Hummus

2015-3-19 Traditional Hummus from Scratch
Some people like hummus because of its simplicity: just throw a few ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. But what if I told you I just spent about 6 hours making one batch of hummus? I don’t actually know exactly how long it took, but this week for the potluck I did hummus completely from scratch – I started with raw ingredients, processed them myself, and mashed everything by hand. I just wanted to see what it feels like. Here’s how it went down.

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I started with 1/2 C raw sesame seeds – I didn’t want to finish and find out I didn’t have enough! You will most likely have a little leftover unless you really love a strong tahini flavor in your hummus.

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Heat them in a dry skillet over low medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

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After a while, the seeds will become golden brown and fragrant, and begin releasing their natural oil.

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Transfer to the mortar, and get to work crushing and grinding.

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It’s a slow process,

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I have to admit I took a break every so often to let my arm rest!

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But I could see progress being made,

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so I kept going,

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and finally I had a sesame paste!

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Still some whole seeds in there, maybe not the smoothest, but I am pleased, except…it’s a little dry-looking, sorta powdery.

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I added a little water and it made a very thick paste. Hmm. I’ll get back to the tahini later.

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I had already prepared 1 1/2 C dried chickpeas by doing a quick soak, then draining & rinsing, covering with fresh water, and simmering another hour or so. The chickpeas were soft and delicate. Some of them got a little mashed while I peeled off the skins (yes, I recommend doing this, even though it takes a while).

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Now the peeled cooked chickpeas go into the mortar in small batches.

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Mash as well as you can.

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The consistency of the mashed chickpeas was actually similar to that of the sesame seeds.

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Of course you need garlic for your hummus. I thought about mincing it really finely, but since I was already in my groove crushing and grinding,

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into the mortar it went. I did three cloves. You may use more or less according to your preference.

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Freshly-squeezed lemon juice. This is also to taste.

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After adding juice from the first lemon, the ground chickpeas started to look a little more like hummus. I also stirred in a good dose of salt, and then…

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back to that tahini. I added a bit more water until it more closely resembled the store bought stuff I’m used to. Anyway, the thickness of it was similar, but the texture was totally different. Almost gritty, and although it had a sort of sweet aroma the bitterness was way stronger than any tahini I’ve purchased. That made me nervous.

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But I went ahead with my experiment. Add 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons.

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Once again, after I added the tahini it began to look more like hummus. Then I added the juice of a second lemon. Add the garlic and stir really well for a few minutes.

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The texture was so different, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

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I could taste each ingredient individually, but strangely the flavors didn’t seem to come together.

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WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES IT?? But hummus is one of those foods that tastes better after it sits overnight, so I covered it and tucked it in the fridge. Fingers crossed.

Then yesterday at work I started getting really nervous. I ended up whipping up a bean dish when I got home (basically a variation of This), and I also stopped by the movie theater to get my popcorn bucket refilled. I figured if I brought three things, at least one of them had to be good!

2015-3-19 Lenten Potluck Vegan
Once again we had a great spread, and looking at this picture I can see at least three things I didn’t have room to try 🙁 That’s my hummus there front and center, garnished with paprika. I was still too nervous to try it on the first round.

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I was not about to miss out on fresh-from-the-oven soft pretzels, though. For years Super Pretzel was one of my go-to Lenten snacks, but of course homemade is better. And due to my plate being so crowded, some of my salad stuck to the mustard on my pretzel and I decided to just go with it. It was wonderful. Now I understand why pretzel buns are so popular. And now that I think of it, the roasted vegetables were great with those beans & greens.

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On my second round I finally tried my own hummus and beans. The hummus tasted SO much better after chilling overnight!! Most of it was gone by the end of the night. It was a good match with that salad.

On to the other dishes. The chickpeas in tomato sauce had a hint of cinnamon, if I am not mistaken, and the chickpeas were nice and tender. And yet another chickpea dish with tahini, Nadira’s salad with cucumber, fava beans, parsley and sumac. Now, I think you can’t have a Lenten potluck without pasta, we need a few extra carbs for energy this time of year. So that was it, I had the perfect meal.

Recipe Recap
1/2 C raw sesame seeds
1 1/2 C dry chickpeas
2 lemons (or to taste)
3 cloves of garlic (or taste)
salt to taste

Quick soak chickpeas, then drain, cover with fresh water, and cook another hour or so until very tender. Drain and set aside.

Toast sesame seeds in dry skillet over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden brown and fragrant. Place them in the mortar and grind until paste is formed. Scrape paste into a small bowl. Stir in a few tablespoons of water. Set aside.

Peel chickpeas. Mash peeled chickpeas with mortar and pestle in small batches, scraping each batch into a large bowl once it’s as smooth as you can get it. Set aside.

Mash garlic with mortar and pestle. SET ASIDE.

Juice two lemons, and add juice to mashed chickpeas. Stir in two to three heaping tablespoons of tahini, and salt to taste. Add garlic and mix well. You may add a little water to the hummus if it’s not as thin as you like, or just keep adding more lemon juice if that’s your thing!

Chill hummus for several hours before serving. You may want to taste again and adjust seasoning. Garnish simply with a dash or two or paprika and perhaps a sprig of parsley on a strict fasting day. When oil is permitted, drizzle olive oil over the top in the form of a cross before garnishing. Toasted pine nuts or walnuts will also look lovely sprinkled in the center.

If you can do this all in one sitting without interruption, it might be a good time to practice the Jesus Prayer 🙂

2015 Lenten Potluck #2: Mock Tuna Salad with Avocado Mayo

I was very bad Tuesday night and neglected to make my potluck dish ahead. That meant all day Wednesday I was trying to plan what to make, and how I’d make it in the very tiny window of time from the time I leave work to the time I get back to the church. I have a mere two hours, and I also needed to stop at the store! Luckily I already had a plan to use up two more avocados, so I just had to figure out what I wanted to cover in Avocado Mayo, a recipe I found at Girl Makes Food.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Avocado Mayo
I decided to do yet another version of mock tuna using chickpeas, and I even had a little bag of dried seaweed flakes from my last haul at the Asian market.

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For the mayo:
Use a fork to mash two avocados until creamy and smooth. Stir in 2 Tbsp white vinegar, juice of half a lemon, 1/8 tsp onion powder & 1/8 tsp garlic powder. Salt to taste.

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For the mock tuna:
I lightly mashed four cans of chickpeas. Of course I bought the cheapest chickpeas I could find, and they turned out to be pretty firm and didn’t mash as well as I would’ve liked. Better to go with chickpeas that are a little more tender if you can. After mashing them, season with salt and pepper (and if you like egg taste in your tuna salad, add gray salt for the sulfur taste).

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Now, depending on how fishy you want the salad, add 1/4 C to 1/2 C seaweed flakes.

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I did 1/4 C. It looked like a lot, but next time I’m upping it!

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Add avocado mayo and stir to coat.

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Add two cans of peas, drained – you can reserve a little liquid in case you want to thin down the mayo in the salad. Turn the salad very gently to incorporate the peas, you want to avoid crushing them.

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I found an antique bowl that matched the salad beautifully, it belonged to my grandmother 🙂

If I were making a smaller batch of the salad just for myself, I’d use two cans of chickpeas, one can of peas, but the same amount of mayo. I’d get it good and salty, probably use 1/4 C of seaweed flakes again (since I’d have a smaller portion of chickpeas to season), and let the salad sit over night. It should keep from browning if you cover it in plastic wrap with the plastic touching the salad. Although if it’s just for me, I don’t care if it browns a little. Just stir it up and it’s fine. On its own, the salad is both oil free & perfect for a strict fasting day, and also gluten free. Serve with pita bread for those who are gluten full.


2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck
We had way more people than usual at Presanctified Liturgy, and way more food than usual at the potluck.

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This is just the main table with the savory food, we had another counter filled with sweet stuff.

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Mjuddara with hummus and salad is a classic Lenten meal, is it not? We also had Sloppy Joe’s made with TVP and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, and guess what? The little buns were made using my Tasty Buns recipe! They turned out beautifully, I think they were better than mine! I also tried the pumpkin bread, and a lovely bowl of magenta-colored soup (is there any vegetable more beautiful than the beet?).

I know some of you are also enjoying Lenten potlucks in your own parishes. What are you cooking?

2015 Lenten Potluck #1: Suzi's Blackened Carolina BBQ

Ah, the first Lenten potluck of the year! I was SO looking forward to it, and I even made my dish the night before instead of rushing home with 1 hour and fifteen minutes to try to whip something up. I just needed to throw it in the oven during Presanctified Liturgy. In fact, I was feeling so relieved, I decided I had time to make rolls to go with my pulled jackfruit in Caroline BBQ sauce in case anyone wanted to make a sandwich. Well, just goes to show nothing ever goes the way I plan it, but it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been… And it started out very promising. I show you:

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I started with four cans of jackfruit in brine, drained.

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I recommend draining it in a colander because next you need to squeeze out as much of the brine as possible. When you’ve finished squeezing, put the jackfruit in a bowl and begin pulling the pieces apart so it looks like pulled or shredded pork.

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For the Caroline BBQ sauce, I modified a random recipe I found googling the other night. Here’s my version:

balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water & ketchup (homemade or store bought),

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maple syrup,

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salt, garlic powder, and a few shakes of black pepper.

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Frank’s Redhot Sauce,

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This sauce doesn’t normally call for oil, if we were using pork it would provide its own fat. But we’re using jackfruit, so I added 1 heaping Tbsp of tahini. Because of this you may need to adjust the other ingredients to cover a very mild sesame flavor (you could also add even more tahini and adjust, if you want more fat).

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Add to jackfruit.

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Stir to coat.
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On oil days I would saute onions and bell pepper to top my sandwich, but there’s a simple alternative to sauteing or frying.

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Just mix it into the jackfruit. Cover and marinate overnight.

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So even after running home and making the dough for the rolls, I *still* got back to church early. I spread the jackfruit on a parchment-covered baking tray and popped it in one of our commercial convection ovens at 350 with the fan on low, rolled my dough into cute little rolls (I’ll post that recipe next), and went over to the chapel. I have baked things during Presanctified Liturgy before. It usually works out. This time I could smell the BBQ sauce almost as soon as I stepped out of the chapel. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Then I opened the oven.

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I burned it! I should’ve known even on the low setting those ovens bake everything SO quickly! I just stood there staring at the pan for a long time before deciding to trash it and just be happy I also had the rolls. Next thing you know everyone’s coming to the hall and making comments about the wonderful smell of Carolina BBQ sauce in the air. Well, I had only dumped the charred remains back in my bowl, not in the garbage, and if you can believe it…people still wanted to eat it!

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So there it is in a little dish on the buffet table – I only put out a portion of it because I figured no one would really eat it, but the dish was empty at the end of the night. So I decided to name this dish after the person most adamant I put it out instead of trashing it 🙂

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I’m really trying to keep it light this year, so I had my guacamole and hummus with carrots (I know, I know – anathema). The beautiful medjool dates were my dessert. The soup is lentil curry with potatoes. I also tried a vegetable soup – I don’t remember exactly what was in it, but it was blended and had a great creamy texture and lovely orange hue. I had to only eat half a bowl of each because I also wanted to try the third soup, a spicy lentil chili. I was too full to try the pasta, so I’m hoping it will make another appearance. I also missed out on a salad and a couple fancy-looking breads (didn’t even have room in my tummy for one extra piece of antideron). Oh, and there was CANDY.

Next week I might just have to take only one bite of everything so I can try it all. Also trying to decide if I want to do the jackfruit again and see if I can Not burn it. I bought a bunch of other interesting ingredients from the Asian market the other day, though, so it might have to wait til next year.

Recipe Recap

    Carolina BBQ Sauce

1 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C water
1/2 ketchup
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a few dashes of black pepper
Frank’s Redhot Sauce to taste
1 Tbsp tahini

In a medium bowl, whisk ingredients together to combine.

    Carolina BBQ Jackfruit

4 20oz cans jackfruit in brine, drained & pulled
1 to 2 small sweet onions, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
Carolina BBQ sauce

Drain jackfruit into a colander. You may wish to give it a little squeeze to get out the excess brine before pulling – pull apart as you would pulled pork. Place jackfruit in a large bowl with sliced veggies. Add BBQ sauce, stir to coat. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, but overnight is best.

Spread in a single layer on a large parchment-covered baking tray, and bake at 350 until veggies are tender and jackfruit is browned (in a regular oven this should take 45 minutes to an hour, unless you really want it blackened!). You may want to turn it a couple times during baking. Serve with rolls to make sandwiches (Tasty Buns recipe here)

2014 Lenten potluck #5: Mushroom Jerky

Okay, so it turns out *tonight* is actually the last Lenten potluck! And I haven’t made anything yet. And I’ll have just two hours to drive home from work, whip something up, and drive back to church. While I’m trying to figure out what to make, have a look at last week’s potluck and my mushroom jerky.

I bought a couple small bags of dried black fungus (yum yum) from the local Asian market.

I tripled this old recipe for the marinade for pepperoni beets, and added an extra 1/2 C water. I also accidentally sixtuppled (is that a word? multiplied by six is what I mean) the amount of smoked paprika. I do not recommend it.

I gave the mushrooms a good long rinse in the colander, drained them,

and added them to the large bowl filled with the marinade. Stir to coat. Cover the bowl and let it set 4 to 8 hours, stirring once or twice.

The mushrooms were soft and rubbery and absorbed most of the liquid. Great. Now spread them in a single layer onto a baking sheet – I used parchment paper because I omitted the oil from this recipe.

Bake at 250 until the mushrooms have a chewy texture. I only gave mine about 15 minutes, but they really needed more like 25 or 30, I think. If there’s a lot of liquid left on the mushrooms or on the baking sheet, they need a little more time.

They were still good, even though they didn’t have the exact texture I was going for (I made these once before I had the blog, so I know the right texture can be achieved!). Also the extra paprika was a bit much for me, although other people said they really liked the mushrooms. Do as you please.

We had another great spread at the potluck, wouldn’t expect anything less.

Salads, soups…leftover holy bread. Ya know, the usual 🙂

Green beans & rice, a Middle Eastern pastry made with farina wheat and soaked in a wonderful simple syrup, hummus, guac – the flat pretzel chip thingies are a nice alternative to tortilla chips if you’re avoiding all oils.

And I believe this was a southwestern corn soup. Everything was great!

What’s your favorite Lenten potluck dish?

Lenten potluck with friends

Last weekend Amanda hosted a Lenten potluck, and guess what? I made vegan nachos again with my now infamous tahini nacho cheez sauce, dotted with jalapeno cashew cream.

I seriously never get tired of eating these nachos in all its many forms. But there was a lot more to eat that evening…

As you can see, we had a small feast!

Amanda made two kinds of enchiladas (gluten free), and cooked up some veggies to go with them.

The crumbles on top are a faux cheese made of tofu, it’s really good with a nice firm texture. I will have to get the recipe for all of you.

We also had vegan mac n cheese, with a nutritional yeast-based cheez, vegan mashed potatoes, Amanda’s garlicky vegan mayo, guacamole (that’s just plain old avocado there on my plate, but for the next round I had guacamole), and salsa. And

we had Hop Soda to drink, my first time trying it. It’s made in Grand Rapids, but you can also order it online.

Do you have Lenten dinners with friends to help you get through Lent??

2014 Lenten Potluck #4: vegan nachos

I’m so behind in posting about the Lenten potlucks! This is from last week. I basically used a bunch of leftover ingredients from Tuesday Taco Night to make vegan nachos since last Wednesday was a feast day (the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel) on which oil is permitted.

You’ve probably seen my nachos before, but if you haven’t, check THIS out. These nachos are topped with tomatoes, onion, bell pepper & cactus, and I added a little olive oil to the mix. Covered in my tahini nacho cheez sauce.

Lots of Lenten desserts last week.

When you can have oil on a Wednesday in Great Lent, you might as well go all out and just put out a bowl of it!

Of course I didn’t have room on my plate for everything, but along with my nachos I had baba ganouj, quinoa with mushrooms and asparagus, some sort of yummy blueberry-filled dessert thing with a nice, crispy top,

and a bowl of lentils & potatoes. You can’t see it, but underneath there’s also a scoop of rice with chickpeas. Everything was excellent. Tonight will be bittersweet…looking forward to seeing what everyone will bring, but it’s the last Lenten potluck of the year 🙁

2014 Lenten potluck #3

Well, I couldn’t make anything for last night’s potluck because I have a cold, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to handle other people’s food. With the time I saved by Not cooking, I made a grocery run…

for a few things I hope will help me get rid of this thing. I slammed the C-Boost last night, today I’ll polish off the veggie juice and my dinner will be extra garlicky (I’m sure anyone I’ll be around the next couple days will be thrilled). I had a bowl of the kimchee this morning to clear my sinuses, it worked for about 5 minutes. The avocado is…just because. Because you need to feed a cold to KILL IT.

So last night I blasted the little sucker with plenty of wonderful food from our third Lenten potluck of Great Lent.

Beautiful halva.

The potato salad was great. It had pickles in it, my favorite 🙂

Also on last night’s menu: a sweet roll, mjaddara, and you can barely see it but there were cabbage rolls with mushrooms. And a chili-like soup with sweet potato. There were vegan sloppy Joes, too, but my plate was full.

What do you all do to get rid of a cold?

Buffalo Tofu Bites

Okay, I’m back! Last night we had our first Presanctified Liturgy of Lent, followed by our first Lenten potluck of the year. I made Buffalo Tofu Bites (oil free, perfect for a strict fasting day), a snack that is much beloved by my friends at any time of the year – but especially during Lent, or on Super Bowl Sunday! Recipe below.

20140306 buffalo tofu
I use water-packed tofu that is frozen and then thawed, giving it a meatier texture.

Last night I had to pop it in the commercial convection oven at church before I went to Liturgy. It bakes way faster, so I never know what temp to use or for how long. I ended up covering it with foil and baking it at 300 for about an hour, then ran to check on it and turn it after Communion, and popped it back in without the foil at 375 for the last 15 minutes I was in the chapel.

I was really nervous when Father decided to give a sermon at the end, but luckily the timing was perfect. It was nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. There have been a couple times when I came back to the kitchen to find my food shrunk down to almost nothing, or was totally blackened!

There she is. It made a little more than I could fit in the bowl, so…I ate the extras.

We also had homemade black bean burgers with avocado, all kinds of veggies, and a tahini spread. There were 3 or 4 soups, some sort of casserole with cornbread on top and kidney beans on the bottom, chips & salsa, rolls, a giant bucket of rice!

And ful mudammas with pita bread. I think that’s everything… Next time I’ll try to sneak in earlier and get more pictures!

Buffalo Tofu
2 14oz packages water-packed tofu*

*You’ll need to prep the tofu at least two days ahead. Leaving the tofu in its sealed package, freeze for one day to ensure it’s completely frozen solid. Then thaw either by leaving in the fridge (can take a couple days) or by placing tofu STILL IN SEALED PACKAGE in a sink filled with very warm water. It can still take a couple hours to thaw in the water, and you will have to add hot water a few times during the process.
Once thawed, press tofu between two plates to get excess liquid out. Tear tofu into bite-size chunks.

Tahini Buffalo Sauce
1/2 C tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, to taste
1 tsp turmeric for color
optional: 2 tsp nutritional yeast

Combine all sauce ingredients, then thin it down with water until it’s soupy, stirring the water in a little at a time.

Add tofu to sauce and toss to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours to two days.

Preheat oven to 400.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Spread tofu over tray in single layer and bake 45 minutes, or until tofu is nicely browned. Gently turn the tofu halfway through.

We often eat these Buffalo Tofu Bites on their own, but you can also serve them with celery sticks and your favorite vegan ranch or bleu cheese dressing.