The Vegans are Coming!

Now what do we feed them?

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Mushroom Terrine

Orange and Pink Peppercorn Dressing

After posting Chef Tom’s Orange and Pink Peppercorn Dressing I had a few readers wondering about the included picture and asking, “What is that brown thing that looks like meat?” Well, for vegetarians and vegans, it’s just about the next best thing to meat – mushroom terrine. Here is Chef Tom’s recipe:

Mushroom Terrine
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
6 grams agar agar
Wood chips (optional)
Corn starch
Olive oil

Product Note:
Agar agar, also known by its Japanese name, ‘Kanten’, is a Southeast Asian seaweed that can be used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Smoke mushrooms with woods chips in smoker for 4 minutes (optional).

Spread mushrooms onto pan and cook in oven until tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

While mushrooms cool, sweat shallots in a pan until translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil.

Once mixture comes to a boil take off the heat and strain.

In a deep glass dish or bake ware, begin layering ingredients. Layer one mushroom, then tomato mixture, and repeat until you have 3

mushrooms stacked. Repeat in another dish with remaining mushrooms and tomato mixture.

Place in cooler and let set until firm.

Take out of pan and cut into 2 inches slices.

Coat each slice with cornstarch.

Sear in pan with heated olive oil.


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Party Food and Tortilla Dippers

Tortilla Dippers 1

I was recently visiting my vegans while they were planning a birthday party.  This spurred a debate about appropriate party foods when vegans and non-vegans mingle.  Will your carnivorous friends appreciate your tofu taco bites?  I don’t know.  But I think the answer to keeping everyone happy is “dip it, spread it or scoop it!” Foods that you can dip, spread, and scoop are often vegan friendly. Here are some platter ideas that everyone can enjoy:

Party List

Tortilla Dippers

If you are struggling to find a vegan friendly bread or cracker for your dips and spreads, here is an easy semi-homemade alternative.  I haven’t included measurements for this recipe, because it is more of a technique.  Use it to make as little or as much as your party or personal snacking requires.


flour tortillas

olive oil (or other good tasting cooking oil)

ground seasoning of your choice: cumin, garlic, crushed pepper, etc.

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350⁰

Brush tortillas with light coating of oil

Stack your tortillas, three or four high, and cut like a pizza into small triangles

Spread the triangles onto a cookie sheet

Sprinkle your chosen seasoning, salt and pepper lightly over the tortillas

Bake in oven until the tortillas just begin to brown

Let the dippers cool, then serve with your favorite dip or spread.

Tortilla Dippers

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Orange and Pink Peppercorn Dressing

Orange and Pink Peppercorn Dressing

When I need food advice I always turn to my kitchen guru, Chef Tom. As an executive chef, he has run some of the best fine-dining establishments in London and New York.

No food quandary fazes him.

And so, when he learned of my vegan food blog, he filled my inbox with gourmet vegan dishes he has served in his establishments. I’ll be sharing these recipes throughout the coming year. Many of them will take a certain level of kitchen skill, but for the brave home cook, the recipes can be mastered.

Today, I’ll start us off with one of Chef Tom’s easier recipes. It’s a sweet and elegant dressing with just a little bite. Toss with mixed greens as a perfect side to any vegan dish.

Orange and Pink Peppercorn Dressing


1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup cooking oil

2 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons crushed pink peppercorns

1 teaspoon pink peppercorn crushed (for garnish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Product Note: Pink peppercorns have a more mild flavor than the dark varieties we typically use in our kitchen grinders. The soft pink color is unexpected and makes for a beautiful garnish on a dish.


Process all ingredients in a blender until emulsified (or well combined).

Chef Tom Tip: Instead of grinding or crushing the pink peppercorns, push them through a sieve.  This variety of peppercorn is delicate and the kernels will flake.  The flake effect gives the emulsion a pretty look.

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The Classic Vegan Pancake Recipe


If you scour the web for a vegan pancake recipe, you are bound to find some incarnation of this one.  I consider it the ‘classic’ vegan pancake recipe.

Yield: Varies based on size of pancakes made.


1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk or other dairy milk substitute
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
Additional oil or margarine to coat the pan or griddle with

Preparation Notes:

These pancakes tend to stick to the pan or griddle a little more than traditional ones, so you will need to keep the pan well coated with oil throughout the cooking process.  In addition, you may want to make smaller cakes for easy flipping.


Preheat oil coated pan on medium.

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.

Add almond milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.

Begin spooning batter into pan. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the batter into a small circle.

Flip once the edges begin to turn golden.

Serve with maple syrup and fruit!

Post Note:

The baking powder in this recipe helps to create air bubbles and fluff the batter when it is cooking. Some pallets are sensitive to baking powder and may be able to detect the flavor. If this is you, be sure to check back with “The Vegans are Coming!” in a few weeks, when we will post a reduced baking powder version.

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Did you Know? Non-Vegan Sweeteners

Question Mark Icon

Often when we think vegetarian, we think: “No meat or poultry.”

When we think vegan, we think: “No meat, poultry, or dairy.”

It’s actually a little more complicated than that. Some foods that look innocent on their exterior, don’t meet the vegan test. Here are two sweeteners you may want to avoid serving your vegan guests:


Honey may seem obvious because it is an animal product, but many people still tend to think it is vegan friendly. In fact, my college hospitality students regularly get this wrong on their tests.

Vegans believe honeybees are not freely producing honey for human consumption and that bee keeping goes against the honeybee’s nature. Therefore, honey is not consumed by vegans.

Good Alternative: Agave Nectar. If you have never used agave nectar, it comes from the blue agave plant. This is the same plant that tequila is derived from, but the syrup has no resemblance to its alcoholic cousin. Compared to honey, the syrup is a bit thinner and lighter colored, but the taste is sweetly similar. You can usually locate agave nectar in the same grocery aisle as honey.

White Table Sugar

Most of our table sugar comes from two sources: sugar beets and sugar cane. Once processed, the two are virtually indistinguishable to the average consumer. How they are processed is where the issue lies. To refine the sugar cane, the product is filtered through charcoal. This charcoal is often made of animal bones. The use of animals in this product means that cane sugar is not vegan friendly. Sugar beets do not go through this process and are therefore fine for vegan consumption. The problem is, most sugar is not labeled, so many vegans avoid it altogether. In addition, this means that brown sugar and confectionary (powdered) sugar, which is derived from table sugar is also off the menu.

Good Alternative: You have several options when seeking to replace table sugar. Agave Nectar is a good option for use in beverages, such as coffee, lemonade, or ice tea. You can also buy unbleached cane sugar, which will generally substitute measure for measure. And finally, you can get brand savvy. Certain sugar brands are known to be Vegan Friendly, and only use beet sugar.  I found a great list of them at and have a link to the site below.

Most Importantly!

Remember, not all vegans believe the same things or follow the same practices. Although many vegans avoid honey and table sugar, others do not. Before you clear your cupboards of sugar, ask your vegan what he/she prefers.

Vegan Friendly Sugar Products:

Additional Sources of Information:


Peanut Butter Chocolate Bites


This is a quick and easy vegan adaptation of one of my favorite desserts.  Enjoy!

Yield: 5 Cups


Paper bag

2 cups powdered sugar

6 cups corn squares cereal (approximately)

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine or other butter substitute

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups dark chocolate chips

Product Notes: Not all dark chocolates are created equal.  Be sure to check the ingredients and confirm that it is dairy free.  Also, a smooth and creamy peanut butter will work best.  Avoid all-natural butters that have a grit to them.


Open the paper bag and dump the powdered sugar in.  Set aside.

Spread 4 cups of corn squares into a large cake pan or sheet pan. Set aside.

Begin to melt the margarine in a saucepan on medium heat

Once approximately half of the margarine has become melted, add the peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Gently stir the ingredients as they soften to combine them. Be careful not to let the bottom of the pan scorch.

Once the ingredients have melted and are thoroughly combined, remove from heat.

Pour your chocolate, peanut butter, margarine mixture over the corn squares and begin stirring the cereal to coat.  Depending on how warm your mixture has become, the coat it creates over the corn squares will be thicker or more thin.  This will affect how much cereal you will be able to cover.  Slowly begin adding in the final 2 cups of corn squares.  Stop when you run out of mixture to coat.  Feel free to add more corn squares as well!

Dump the coated cereal into the paper bag.  Seal the bag and SHAKE!

Paper Bag

Once the cereal pieces have all been coated with the confectionery sugar, you’re done!

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Cinnamon Rolls


This Christmas I wanted to make a rare breakfast treat – homemade cinnamon rolls!  After toiling over the non-vegan batch at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I didn’t really feel like diving into a second dough recipe. And so, this super simple semi-homemade recipe was born.

Yield: 8 rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

3 tablespoons margarine or other butter substitute

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 can refrigerator crescent roll dough


¾ cup confectionery sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

Product Notes:

Be sure to read the crescent roll’s ingredient list before buying.  Most brands are vegan friendly, but some may use dairy products.

Other Notes:

These cinnamon rolls are smaller than the premade ones you usually see in supermarkets.  If you have big eaters, you may want to make a double batch.


Preheat the oven according to the temperature directions on the crescent dough package.  Usually 375⁰.

In a small bowl, cream together the margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Open the can of crescent roll dough and carefully remove the packaging.  This dough typically comes with a seam down the center to separate the cylinder in half.  Gently separate this dough and roll it open.

Gently spread the cinnamon mixture across both halves of the dough.  It doesn’t have to be even or pretty.

Gently re-roll the dough back into its previous log shape.

Cut each log into four even slices.  I have found a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion achieve this best.  Be careful not to press down and squish your dough when cutting.

Place each slice into a cake pan or onto a cookie sheet.  Be sure to leave about an inch of space in-between slices so that they cook evenly.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the crescent rolls are baking, prepare the glaze.

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and stir until you have a glossy smooth icing.  It should be a consistency that will allow for drizzling.  Add additional sugar if it seems to wet or water if it is too dry.

Use your spoon to drizzle away!