All posts by Toni Fiore

Toni Fiore was raised by an Italian-American father and a German mother who instilled in her a sociable nature and the love of travel and of good food. She has lived in Italy and Germany and now resides in southern Maine. She is the author of: Totally Vegetarian: Easy, Fast, Comforting Cooking for Every Kind of Vegetarian

Fiona’s Fabulous Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Club Sandwich

best club sandwichWhat better way to celebrate Meatless Monday and all of our wonderful turkey friends than with a super simple, delicious Vegan Club Sandwich? Inspired by Fiona the Turkey who I had the pleasure of meeting on my recent visit to Peace Ridge Farm Sanctuary , this sandwich is stacked and packed with so much traditional flavor I guarantee you’ll never miss the turkey, bacon and cheese!

Fiona at peaceridgesanctuary
Fiona

 

 

 

Makes three triple deckers

1-2 tablespoon of oil, olive or vegetable

9 slices whole grain bread, lightly toasted

1 package (15 slices) Deli Style Tofurky Oven Roasted Turkey

1 package (14 slices) Litelife Smart Bacon or tempeh bacon

2 vine ripened organic tomatoes, sliced

2 avocados, sliced

8 leaves organic green lettuce leaves, washed and dried

¼ red onion sliced into thin rings (optional)

¼ cup vegan mayo (or sandwich dressing of choice)

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

 

Heat a skillet on medium. Add the oil and spread evenly into the pan. Use a little more as necessary. Next add the bacon and fry on both sides until lightly crisped. Drain on paper and set aside. Begin assembling the sandwiches. Lay out three columns of three slices of bread. Spread mayo on the first and last slices. Spread mustard on the center slice. On the bottom slices begin with a layer of lettuce followed by the tomato and onion. Cover those with the center slices of bread. Layer on your turkey, then your bacon and finish with the avocado. Season if desired with a little fresh ground black pepper. Top with the last slice and cut in half or cut into the traditional diagonal quarters.

 

Note# Want a great sandwich fast? Sometimes store bought prepared quality ingredients are the way to go, especially when time is of the essence! Shop wisely for packaged goods that have ingredients in them you can read! For these sandwiches, the overall cost of the turkey, bacon, tomato and avocado is about $11.00, or roughly $3.60 per serving. Generous, healthy , delicious and VEGAN!

Save the Rainforest Blueberry Crisp

by Toni Fiore

Rainforests are the earth’s largest sinks of carbon, safely storing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In Indonesia, rainforests are razed to create industrial palm oil plantations, releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making the tropical nation the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Rainforests also provide critical habitat to thousands of species including highly endangered Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, rhinos and orangutans. These species are rapidly being driven to extinction. The Indonesian government has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020. As consumers we must make every effort to eliminate palm oil from our food, personal care and cleaning products.

For the past year in lieu of gifts for holidays, birthdays and weddings I’ve been making donations to organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and release animals whose forest homes have been exploited and destroyed by invasive palm oil production. There are “sustainable” palm oil alternatives but even those often overlap with non-sustainable sources. I’m trying my best to find products that don’t contain any palm oil. Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. In fact most often it’s downright impossible.
I’ve been working with coconut oil as a palm oil free alternative and I’m loving it! Here are a few reasons why this is such a good choice. Studies have shown that coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It helps to fight off yeast, fungus and candida. Coconut oil can boost your metabolism, energy and endurance all while improving digestion and helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

 
Bluberry Crisp 1200

Blueberry Crisp
It’s August in Maine and it’s the height of summer fruit season. Blueberries, plums, peaches and blackberries are everywhere! One of my all time favorite desserts for summer (and winter) is my easy and delicious Fruit Crisp. I’ve always prepared this recipe with vegan margarine and it’s been great. However, after a few modifications I’ve gotten a fantastic result using organic expeller pressed coconut oil. Now my fruit crisp has a lighter texture, better flavor and the best part for me is that it’s PALM OIL FREE!
Ingredients:

6 Cups Blueberries (or any fruit of choice)
1-2 Tbl. all purpose flour
1 tsp lemon juice and grated zest from one half

1 cup Light brown Sugar, packed
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 ¼ cup Flour
1 cup whole (old fashioned) oats
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
10 tablespoons organic refined coconut oil, room

Preheat your oven to 350. Toss the fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour, lemon juice and zest. Spread the fruit evenly into a 12 inch casserole or baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and then begin blending with your hands, working the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs that are not uniform in size. The crumb should clump easily into one to two inch pieces. If it feels too dry add additional coconut oil one teaspoon at a time. Alternatively if the crumb feels too oily add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. Spread the crumb evenly over the fruit. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake an additional 30 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit bubbles on the side.

Serve warm or at room temp with a scoop of dairy free ice cream, whipped topping or just by it’s delicious self!

Note: Unrefined coconut oil has a more distinct coconut flavor, which can be a nice addition to this dessert.

Fabulous Fourth of July Grilling ideas from Toni Fiore

I love when people ask, “Hey what do vegetarians cook on the grill anyway? Veggie burgers, corn, fake hot dogs??” Well, since all we hear about for the entire week leading up the Fourth of July are the recipes, stories and suggestions for grilling hundreds of pounds of burgers, steaks, chicken and ribs (did I say boring?) I guess it’s a pretty fair question! Let me tell you… there’s no limit to the delicious meatless main meals, side dishes, pizzas, salads and desserts you can make outdoors on the grill. Actually, what’s pretty amazing is that there’s virtually nothing you CAN’T prepare outdoors! And these days when you look at grill accessories there are all kind’s of special pans, grill tops and gadgets that are not only very inexpensive but make grilling a pleasure. Some of the most fun we’ve had filming have been our summer grill recipes. Following are my top picks for this holiday weekend or, really, all season long.

My Portobello- Arugula Salad Burger is always a hit. It’s hearty, colorful, packed with better-than-beef flavor and EASY. I top this recipe with the arugula salad, but you can use your favorite slaw or better yet try the cabbage slaw from my next Fabulous Fourth pick, Cathi DiCocoa’s Rasta Pups. These little gems are perfect for kids if you can snag them away from the adults first. For kids just you might just spare the jalapeno in the slaw, which is cool, cause that leaves more for you! Grilled Seitan 3 Ways is also a terrific choice. Made on skewers you can use any spice rub, jerk or barbeque sauce on these tasty meaty bites. If you’re looking for the best fluffy crispy giant french fries ever, grill em!

The Perfect Grilled Potatoes have an absolutely perfect (no more burned outside raw inside potatoes) texture and take all the mystery out of preparing potatoes on the grill.

For a side salad or for those folks eating REALLY light, try my Grilled Panzanella Salad with it’s nice little Mediterranean spin this recipe is a great way to feature garlic, fresh plump tomatoes and basil! Finally…you’ve got to grill fruit! Peaches on the Grill are absolutely succulent, especially topped with a little light non dairy ice cream or whipped topping. No peaches? No problem! You can substitute, pineapple, apples, pears, bananas or whatever fruit YOU like. This week why not try something new and give these recipes a spin! You, your family and friends will love them. So from our Totally Vegetarian table to yours, all of us at Delicious TV wish you a happy, healthy, compassionate and fantastic Fourth of July! Enjoy!

Maximize Your Kale

Toni's Kale Pesto from the upcoming Vegan Mashup series

 

Recently I read a great article touting the health benefits of kale. It’s pretty evident that the word has gotten out, with many people expressing awareness that kale is considered the new “superfood”. Every year something “new”, that actually isn’t new at all, hits the airwaves as the one thing you’ll want to include in your diet that will fight cancer, lower cholesterol, improve your memory, keep the pounds off… the list goes on. What’s not said most of the time, is that a low fat plant-based diet rich in color and variety is, hands down, the best and most complete eating plan for life. I’m not talking about having kale, blueberries or tomatoes on top of or alongside foods on the negative list, I’m talking about an exclusively plant-based diet. So while kale is the new wonder kid on the block (and don’t get me wrong, it is)  the majority of mainstream kale recipes hitting the airwaves are simply laden unhealthy animal protein sources like pork, bacon, chicken, sausage and cream  to name a few. I often wonder when I read these recipes, these “healthy” recipes, what on earth are these people thinking? It obviously doesn’t take much to ruin a perfectly good “perfect”vegetable. While it’s true that what you eat is very important it’s equally important to remember that keeping healthy food healthy depends entirely on how you prepare it. Substituting kale in any of my recipes that are made with greens like collards, spinach and chard and paired with healthy protein sources like lentils, beans and quinoa, is a good start to incorporating more kale into your diet.

-Toni Fiore
Host of Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian and VegEZ

What is the ultimate cooking show? “A Vegan Mashup”!

Where would you turn for a Vegan TV cooking show that teaches you just how easy and quickly you can make the best most nourishing meals for yourself and your family? Well, the answer of course is, RIGHT HERE! After hosting four seasons of Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian on Public Television and over 140 VegEZ podcasts I am personally very pleased and excited to announce our  newest, fun filled and most inspiring food television production to date! Welcome to Delicious TV’s Vegan Mash Up! This fantastic six episode season of 1/2 hour vegan cooking shows will feature four chefs instead of one. Three will be regulars (Terry Hope Romero, Miyoko Schinner and me, Toni Fiore) and one will be a surprise chef! You know, there are so many talented and energetic Vegan foodies out there that this new format will give you, the viewing audience, more variety and delicious recipe ideas than ever before.

But we need your help and support to make this happen! Delicious TV is currently raising funds for television production, post production and marketing. Check it out at http://www.indiegogo.com/Delicious-TVs-Vegan-Mashup. With a minimum of $10 (of course more is sublime), your help gets us closer to delivering this new, fresh and delicious cooking series to public television for your viewing pleasure! Follow the indegogo link above, give what you can and help spread the word through your friends, social networks and even in your holiday gift giving! Our goal is to pull together 6 fabulous episodes that are not only Totally Vegan but will totally knock the socks off all those tired meat based cooking programs on mainstream television. Please help make Vegan Mashup happen!  – Toni Fiore

Better Than Feta

I never really ate a lot of cheese, but I did use bits of it in and on a great many of my traditional Italian or Greek recipes. Personally I found working around not adding cheese to my food to be really easy. However, that said, there are some recipes that really depended on either ricotta or feta as a main ingredient. Once I discovered how flexible and economical tofu can be as a cheese substitute I started working on a few recipes that utilize this fantastic food in a variety of delicious and creative ways. This weeks podcast of Herbed Tofu Cheese highlights just what you can do with tofu without sacrificing flavor or texture. Once you get this basic formula down ( it’s soooo easy) you’ll see all the great possibilities! I love this “cheese” instead of feta or ricotta on Flatbread Pizza or as a filling for lasagna or ravioli. Cubed and seasoned  Tofu can also become tart feta and is wonderful when added to salads like Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad. And, as is the case with all my recipes, you can add your own favorite herbs and spices, as much or little as you like. Tonight I used the basic herbed version as a base replacing traditional ricotta in a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart. The best part? Not one person missed the cheese.

When Veggies Become Tuna

Click the photo to watch the episode.

When I’m preparing vegetarian versions of classic recipes like Maryland Mock Crab-cakes, Grilled Seitan or Tofu Phish I’ll focus on recreating the familiar flavors of those dishes by using many of the same spices and flavorings that would be added to the traditional meat or seafood versions. That, by and large is fairly easy. What can be trickier is achieving similar textures and I think texture is equally important as taste when it comes to food. Over the years I’ve had a great many versions of “tuna” that were prepared with tofu, tempeh and even chickpeas. Although they were all really delicious there seemed to be something missing. There was always that texture problem. One day while I was processing artichokes for my Artichoke Pesto I noticed that chopped artichokes actually really looked like tuna! The pesto never materialized however within a day or two I managed to nail down a recipe for “tuna” that was not only tasty and healthy, but had that tuna look and feel. So, with the busy holiday season rapidly approaching and colder weather right around the corner, now is a perfect time to have healthy soup and sandwich meals ready to go. For a nutritious comforting lunch or supper try a pairing of my Creamy Cauliflower Soup and Mock Tuna Salad sandwiches.  That’s what we had this evening and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Start of Soup Season

One of my inspirations for preparing my Parsnip Butternut Squash Bisque for this weeks podcast actually was last weeks podcast! When Elizabeth Fraser was putting together her Ginger Snap Breakfast Smoothie (if you haven’t seen the episode you should be sure to tune in) and added fresh ginger to the fruits and veggies, I was reminded of how much peppery warmth ginger adds to even the most simple recipes, and how much I like it. I’ve been making this bisque for years, sometimes swapping out the squash with carrots, pumpkin or when the Farmers market has an abundance of smallish to medium parsnips I’ll just let them fly solo. The extra large parsnips can be a bit woody, so stick with the smallish sizes! Here are a couple of things about this soup that you might want to keep in mind or try.  If you follow the TV series “Totally Vegetarian” or the Vegez podcasts,  you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of taking one recipe (especially one as easy and delicious as this bisque) and then modify it with a few tweaks. I’ll share some suggestions that I happen to like a lot. Adding a fresh fall apple or two along with the squash gives this parsnip bisque a really nice gentle sweetness, especially paired with the spicy ginger. Although my soups are typically low in fat (this recipe uses only two to three tablespoons of vegan margarine or olive oil) you can make it virtually fat free. Preheat your oven to 350. Take your diced veggies, toss them in about 1 tablespoon of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender. Meanwhile heat your stock. When the veggies can be easily pierced with a fork (about 25 minutes) add them to the blender bowl along with the stock and process until smooth. I made a big pot of this soup just prior to vacation and put a few servings in the freezer. It’s best defrosted in the fridge and reheated on the stove versus the microwave. Add a little water if  the bisque seems thick. We just had this yesterday for dinner along with a crispy vegetable pizza. So warm and wonderful!

Can’t Beat Beets

Like Cilantro it seems that people either love beets or hate them! Tonight I made Beet Burgers (recipe courtesy of Didi Emmons and in my book “Totally Vegetarian”) for a couple of friends who swore they would never (ever) develop a liking for this sadly underused root vegetable. Even though I’m seeing beets making more frequent appearances on menus in upscale dining establishments, I find that very simple preparations not only taste better but are more economical for the everyday cook. This particular recipe is really easy to pull together, full of fiber, nutrients and makes enough for a couple of meals worth of burgers. Extra plus is that there is no added fat. I cook my burgers in a cast iron pan with barely a tablespoon of vegetable oil, however in a ceramic non stick pan they can be cooked fat free. Just watch the heat! I served these crisp on the outside warm and crumbly on the inside burgers without a bun, topped with a generous squeeze of Sriracha sauce. I complimented these flavorful and subtly “beety” burgers with a simple side of rosemary roasted potatoes and sweet organic pears. I’m happy to say, much to everyone’s surprise, that the entire dish was a hit! Be sure to buy your beets with nice fresh leafy tops. Tomorrow all of those glorious greens are going to find their way into a hearty minestrone.

Stir Crazy

After driving down the West coast today, Steve and I  stopped for dinner in Fort Myers at a place called Stir Crazy. Stir Crazy is an Asian influenced chain restaurant where you can either order prepared food off of the menu or go through a line called a Market Bar and create your own dishes. For example at the Market Bar you can choose tofu and then select an assortment of vegetables, a sauce that you like, rice or noodles and then step up to a wok area where your meal is cooked. This actually works out pretty well. Before we hit that bar I had a couple of Mango Martinis (which were very nice) from the other bar. Then we moved on to the set menu for an appetizer. Since we’re not huge fans of fried food we ordered the fresh Lettuce Wraps and some Edamame. Both were good.  The SC wraps were made with vegetables and tofu. I usually make my Lettuce Cups with sticky rice and spicy baked seitan, but really you can tuck virtually any variety of vegetables in fresh crispy lettuce leaves and not go wrong. For the entree Steve and I split a tofu vegetable bowl with rice an Asian Slaw and some Tempura Green Beans.  The slaw reminded me of a few of Didi Emmons slaw recipes that we prepared on two seasons of Delicious TV. The SC slaw was a bit more chopped and dressed but had some similar elements to Didi’s that I enjoyed, especially considering this was a chain restaurant. The portions are very generous and I could have easily stopped at the Lettuce Wrap and stir fry but we wanted to try a few things just to see how they were. Over all for this area Stir Crazy was pretty good. As a Vegetarian or Vegan the choices are fairly limited , but there are some and they will work with you. As I’ve learned while traveling, if you need to eat meals out some locations require a bit more effort. Fort Myers is one such area. Bear in mind that the portions are, as I said, very generous and it’s easy to over order. The best way to eat here, like most places, is to order a small variety of items, a couple of good drinks and share.