Gluten-free vegan pumpkin cornbread

See. It's not air. You really can make a gluten-free vegan pumpkin cornbread that tastes like...cornbread. Really good cornbread.

With tomato-fennel soup ready for dinner, I scurried around the Internets looking for something quick and starchy to make, knowing soup wouldn't sustain Mr. Nake-id. Cornbread seemed the perfect thing: autumnal and just a bit sweet to offset the tarty tomatoes. And there was cornmeal in the fridge.

Then I wondered whether it could be made gluten free.

This recipe turned up, which I combined with this newly veganized favorite, Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread. The bread is crumbly, full of corn flavor with just a hint of sage. Definitely Thanksgiving-worthy!

The recipe follows:

    2 cups organic yellow cornmeal
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
    1/4 cup butter-flavored grapeseed oil or neutral-tasting oil
    1 cup nondairy milk
    8 or 9 whole fresh sage leaves
    1/4 cup agave nectar, or to taste

    Preheat oven to 425. Spray medium-size cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and lay sage leaves in bottom of skillet.

    Carefully pour batter into your skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and invert onto serving plate.

Spaghetti Vegan: Kelp noodles

There has been a lot of experimenting with foodstuffs around here. And after seeing these curly wonders recommended enthusiastically by raw food types, I bought a bag.

Then they sat in the refrigerator for a month. Or two.

After sampling nori sheets used as sandwich wraps in lieu of tortillas (nori are those dried sheets of seaweed surrounding sushi rolls), I was suspect. Nori has a strong oceanic smell, or more bluntly, it stinks of fish, putting this writer off her feed. So it was with great trepidation that I snipped open the kelp noodle pack.

The noodles are translucent and bouyant and not at all redolent of fish. I had read to cut them up a bit, so as to prevent slurping, and to rinse well. All of which I did. I then incorporated them into a salad of sliced carrots, cucumbers and peanuts drenched in an almond-butter "peanut" sauce you can find here.

Don't expect 100 percent durum semolina pasta. The noodles have a healthy vegetal crunch (marinating ameliorates this, apparently), a neutral taste and make a fine low-calorie bed for Asian salad. But they are not linguine.

Strict raw foodists fuss that the noodles are too highly processed to be raw. As these things go, it's hard to tell. I wondered about their nutritional content, given their albino aspect. (A good source of calcium and trace minerals, not much else.) For gluten-intolerant folks and calorie watchers, Kelp Noodles are probably a welcome treat. For my noodle analog, I'll stick with spaghetti squash.

The ecstasy and the agony of a weeknight vegan apple pie

Since we are celebrating the anniversary of Mr. Nake-id's birth, Ms. Nake-id decided to bump dinner up a notch with a vegan apple pie.

Mr. Nake-id offered a few suggestions (yes, he's a Scorpio, it's what they do), such as using the small pyrex baking dish instead of a pie plate; this turned out to be genius. Deeper+bigger=more apples, raisins and walnuts. For the  crust I used my usual recipe, subbing Earth Balance for the butter. The trick seems to be keeping everything very cold, including the bowl and flour, and not overworking the dough. As you can see, the dough didn't get as overworked as the cook.

For the filling: eight organic gala apples sliced thinly, healthy handfuls of chopped walnuts and organic raisins, juice from half a lemon, a heaping tablespoon of Vietnamese cinnamon, a tablespoon of flour, a half cup of brown sugar, two tablespoons of maple syrup and a tablespoon (or two) of cheap bourbon.

Cook on 350 until bubbling and brown, 35 to 45 minutes.

Survey the carnage. Then enjoy.

Good and "Plenty"

This found its way into my shopping bag during a dissolute two-day shopping trip with a mall-starved friend from Westcliffe.

By the British sensation Yotam Ottolenghi, who writes a vegetarian column for The Guardian, Plenty is a gorgeous, Middle Eastern/Asian/Sub-continent-inspired veggie cookbook filled with food photography so inviting, I want to lick the pages. But that's not what sold me. A review indicating that Ottolenghi could tease flavor from cardboard--flavor being what's called for in these waning days of summer--prompted me to hand over my credit card, with nary a thought to my groaning book shelves.

There are vegan recipes or those that can be easily veganized, such as chickpea, tomato and bread soup; lentils with broiled eggplant; mangoes and coconut rice salad.

Some of the dishes require what I call "eye-of-newt" ingredients (those not easily sourced). I've heard tell on the Internets that some vegetarians are fussing because Ottolenghi is an omnivorous chef, who serves his delicious vegetable dishes alongside glistening hunks of lamb. Others are saying the recipes don't test well.

We'll see. At this point, I'm still turning pages, dreaming and reading and imagining beautiful, Saturday night meals, which, to my way of thinking, means Ottolenghi's done half his job, inspiring a home cook to think outside her spice chest.

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

With the cucurbits coming in fast and furiously, I'm forced to bake--even in this heat. Since there is no turning the oven on after noon, I was at it early making our contribution to tonight's neighborhood dessert party: vegan chocolate zucchini bread. Bet they can't wait for us to show up.

I adapted the recipe from Hell Yeah It's Vegan, who adapted it from another source.

3 tbsp chia seeds whisked into ½ c + 1 tbsp warm water*
½ c oil (I used organic canola mixed with Wildtree butter-flavored grapeseed oil)
½ c applesauce
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups grated zucchini, packed (~3 medium-sized zucchini)
1½ c all-purpose flour
1½ c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
5 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder

1 cup vegan chocolate chips

½ cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans.

Mix wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another. Then combine, stirring until combined. Spoon into loaf pans.

Bake for 45-55 minutes. Revel in the scent eminating from the kitchen; is there anything better than the smell of baking chocolate and cinnamon?

*A note about chia seeds. Yes, these are the same chia seeds of chia pet fame. Packed with protein and Omega 3s, these little powerhouses are the new flax seeds. When mixed with water and other liquids, they create this viscous gel that acts as both a leavening and binding agent. (The natural food bloggers can't seem to get enough of this stuff as a pudding, but you gotta grok that slimy texture.) They're readily available at health food stores; in the Denver area, Sunflower Farmer's Market carries them in the bulk section.

Kale chips ahoy!

Not everyone is bananas about raw kale (though the roly-poly bugs in the garden seem to be liking it just fine). Here at Chez Nake-id, we love the stuff. So when organic kale started selling for $3 a bunch, I got out the seed pack and started planting.

Kale is the gift that keeps on giving. While the arugala and spinach went all loose and dishabille in the heat, the kale has kept it togther, producing steadily for months. The kale pictured above is lacinato or dinosaur kale, so named, I imagined, because the store-bought leaves have the consistency of brontosaurus ears. Grow it yourself and you'll be dining on shoots as tender blades of grass; many days I simply run to the garden and pick my lunch.

Two weeks ago in Crestone, our hosts set out bowls of baked kale chips for their guests to snack on. Know what? You can't eat just one.

There are tons of recipes on the internets. You can tart these babies up with everything from lime and chili powder to paprika, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast and fancy vinegars.

Here are the basics:

1 bunch (or two) of kale, lacinato or curly

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp good quality sea salt

2 pinches cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and dry your kale. Cut out the fibrous ribs (I didn't do this because *ahem* my kale is so tender) and roughly chop the kale.

Toss the leaves with olive oil, salt and cayenne and spread out in a single layer on baking sheets. (I used two very large sheets.)

Check for crispness after 20 minutes. Depending on how tightly you packed your kale on the baking sheets, you may need to bake a bit longer. You want them very crisp.

Serve them at your next do. They make for a great conversation starter.

Grumpy Vegan: It's official...sort of

The first vegan cookbook has made its way into the house, Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. You'll find it on many "best of" lists along with Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, The Voluptuous Vegan, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (not completely vegan) and many, many others. These aren't endorsements; if you were to experience the compost-like meals coming out of the Nake-id Cucina, you'd see I know not whereof I speak.

I'm hoping this will start us on the path to more "hit" and less "miss." Sweet squash in mole sauce, anyone?

Antone thinks I should stick to my knitting.


Vegan-What's-for-Dinner Contest Extention

I'm extending the Vegan-What's-for-Dinner Contest through Friday, Aug. 5 due to time constraints. I'll announce on Saturday. A winner will be picked randomly from folks who submit go-to weeknight vegan dinner recipes. The Boca Burgers are wearing a little thin.

The winner will receive two Vera kitchen towels.

In the meantime, enjoy this recommedation from Reflections of a Bad Catholic: Fennel and Pistachio Salad (she subs cashews for the pistachios).

Vegan What's-for-Dinner Recipe Contest

Any Vera fans out there? A post mid-century designer, Vera Neumann broke ground in the textile world by brightening up the tabletop and bringing big prints to sheets. If you're of a certain age, you'll remember that fashionable women everywhere festooned their necks with her scarves. She was huge in the SIxties and Seventies.

Though I'm a freelancer, I regularly collaborate with a team of extremely smart folks, who were in town yesterday for an all-day hoedown. After we made our presentations, we got to pick a surprise or steal someone else's. Since freelancers don't play well with others, I swiped the above.

These are going into the permanent collection at Chez Nake-id. But for the contest, I plan to reward the randomly picked winner with his or her very own veggie-themed Vera dish towels.

Post your recipe by next Tuesday, Aug. 2. The winner will be announced on Aug. 3.

I'll also post recipes contributed throughout the week with links to your blogs of websites.

Thanks for playing!

Vegan Recipe of the Day

Quorn Pasta (from The Crafty Geek)

Combine pasta, green pesto and Quorn, plus toasted pine kernels on top.

Grumpy Confused Vegan: What's for dinner contest?

Let's just say that sometimes a plate of broccoli is less than exciting.

Desperately seeking your go-to, week-night, plant-world recipes. A reward and contest is forthcoming. But any recipes contributed from now until Aug. 2 will be entered in a random drawing (and for consideration in the Nake-id Cucina).

Your suggestions, por favor?