Category Archives: Viewer questions

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 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

Meatless Beef and Hot Dog Substitutes

I get lots of letters from viewers asking great questions about how to best transition away from meat and into vegetarian meat replacers. This is such a common question that I’ve decided to post viewer queries from time to time, followed by my suggestions. Please feel free to write in and share your ideas and solutions.

“I have to say I love the show! Here in Albuquerque Alan & I watch you on our Apple TV, but I need help w/ my mixed relationship. I’m more vegetarian than my other half. I’ve been wearing him down, but he has a need for chili dogs. I know you’ve said many times on your show that there’s many dishes that can be converted to vegetarian versions.

Keep in mind that he’s going to cover it w/chili sauce and tomato sauce, w/ ground beef (we need to replace this too), cheese & onions. It’s gotten to the point that he makes this because he likes the flavor, but he doesn’t eat enough meat to not get himself sick from this every time he eats it. I was thinking if we could find some kinda veggie hotdog, ground beef replacement then we could totally flip him over to our side. I’m sure you can help. Waiting patiently.” –Alan & Chris

What is Elephant Garlic?

A viewer wrote to ask me why I use small garlic cloves when I prepare food rather than the larger, easier to peel, elephant garlic. The reason is that elephant garlic really isn’t garlic at all, but are a bulb that is related to leeks. You know how leeks are milder than onions? Well, that’s the difference in flavor between elephant and regular garlic. Elephant garlic carries a more subtle, sweet flavor and is a poor substitute when you want the robustness of garlic. Elephant garlic bulbs can be quite large and sometimes one clove is bigger than an entire head of regular garlic.

When you’re buying elephant garlic, follow the same guidelines as when you’re shopping for ordinary garlic. Choose heads that are firm with plenty of dry, papery covering. Do keep in mind that elephant garlic is far more perishable than regular garlic so be sure to use it shortly after purchasing to maintain optimum flavor. It also has a higher sugar content so if you’re cooking with it, keep your eye on it because it will brown and burn quickly. Elephant garlic is a wonderful when added raw to salads or to soups and stews, when just a hint of garlic flavor is desired.

Look out! A new season’s comin at ya!

Catch new episodes of Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian!

Here’s how to get the new season of Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian in your area:
Contact your local PBS Station to let them know you want them to telecast the new season of Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian and that it’s available for free through NETA, our distributor.

Go to the PBS station finder to e-mail your local station.

Please don’t delay! The first episode uplink for the third season, via satellite, will be on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2007.

Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian once again showcases the easiest, most scrumptious, and accessible vegetarian and vegan recipes you’re likely to find anywhere. Our website makes it possible for you to print one or all of the recipes, ask Toni questions about vegetarian food and diets, and even blog your own vegetarian favorites.

The show is fun and informative, and what’s more, the food is fabulous.

Here’s a preview recipe.

Spicy Chick Pea Salad with Basil and Pine nuts

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T. red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. red or yellow bell pepper, chopped (or mix red and yellow for added color)
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/4 c. fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1-2 T. chopped sundried tomato (optional)

2 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. fresh chili paste
Salt and pepper

Rinse beans and place into a bowl. Add the onion, peppers, pine nuts, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, pepper paste, and lemon juice until emulsified. Pour over the chickpeas and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a hearty slice of bread to mop up the juices, or alternatively, lightly mash the chick peas and serve on grilled or toasted bread as a bruschetta.

More on Kitchen Equipment

More on Kitchen Equipment

While filming the second season of Totally Vegetarian, I was reminded of some viewer questions about kitchen tools and equipment. With so many gadgets on the market, which ones are really indispensable? Based on my experience, we generally have more gadgets hanging around than we really need, and own more than we could ever use.

But there are a few electric kitchen prep appliances that I use and use often. They are: a food processor, a blender, a mixer, and an immersion blender.

A food processor with a six to eight cup capacity is a very useful item, great for chopping, shredding, and processing foods like dips and fillings that require a drier texture than you could obtain from a blender.

A blender, on the other hand, is terrific for liquefying soups and smoothies, but not great for drier mixtures. The downside to a traditional blender is that you have to wait to blend very hot foods and limit the amount you place in the container because it is likely to blow out of the top during blending – a messy and potentially dangerous situation.

Because of my innate impatience, I circumvent this problem by using a variable speed blender which starts at a very slow and low rotation and then can be sped up quickly. No blow out. However, it is a somewhat expensive option to have both blender and food processor. That’s where the immersion blender comes into play. An immersion blender is a wand with a blade at the bottom. This type of blender goes right into the pot or container, so there’s no transferring and less mess, and it’s a less expensive option.

Last on my list is a mixer. I have both a stand and hand mixer. If I had to do without one it would be the stand mixer, but that’s because I’m not somebody who enjoys baking. Hand mixers have improved over the years and a good hand mixer will suffice unless you’re preparing bread or pizza dough in the mixer.

Great food doesn’t necessarily require the use of gadgets, but it sure does make the cook’s life a bit easier.

Where do pine nuts come from?

Where do pine nuts come from?

Yesterday I attended a pot luck dinner with some friends. I brought a dish that contained toasted pine nuts and during the course of the evening, it became apparent that not many people knew where pine nuts actually come from.

Having grown up in Italy, these nuts were a regular staple and available everywhere. Pine nuts (pignoli nuts) are the seeds of the Stone Pine, a native of the Mediterranean region, but the seeds of various other pines are also eaten in different parts of the world including the seeds of the Korean Pine or North American piñon tree.

Pine nuts are very labor intensive to harvest which explains their relatively high cost, but the Italian variety is far costlier than Asian pine nuts and there is a difference in shape and quality between the two. The Italian nuts have a slimmer shape, firmer texture, and more flavor, but they’re often three to four times more expensive. Pine nuts are vital for pesto, and are absolutely delicious lightly toasted. They can easily get rancid so store them in the refrigerator or freezer. 100 grams of pine nuts contain 31 grams of protein, the highest of all nuts and seeds, and they have a slightly sweet buttery flavor. While the Italian pine nut is superior in flavor to the more commonly found Chinese variety, I still recommend purchasing the less expensive variety if cost is a factor just to get pine nuts into your diet.

Pine nuts are a welcome, healthy, and delicious addition to many dishes.

Atkins Nutty Meatballs Tranformed into Delicious Baked Veggie Tofu Balls

Many people are asking me about the Atkins Diet and protein but want to do it veggie style. I have many recipes that utilize TVP as a beef replacer, but from a nutritional standpoint I believe  tofu is far superior. This is one of my favorite recipes – high in protein and low in fat. I think it fits into the Atkins plan nicely and these are really savory and delicious.

Original Recipe: Atkins Nutty Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon diced onion
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 garlic clove, pushed through a press
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Delicious alternative: Baked Veggie Tofu Balls


1 lb. firm tofu, pressed and mashed
2 T. ground toasted walnuts
1/2 c.  wheat germ
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. nutritional yeast ( optional)
1 T. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. oregano
2-3 T. olive oil

To prepare:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Press water out of tofu and wrap tofu cake in paper towels until it feels fairly dry. Mash the tofu until it has the consistency of cottage cheese. Mix tofu together with all remaining ingredients.

Oil an 8″x8″ baking dish with the olive oil. Form the tofu mixture into sixteen 1-inch balls and place in pan. Drizzle any remaining olive oil over the balls and place in oven. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, turning the balls carefully every ten minutes or so until they are evenly brown and crispy.

Serve as is or add to tomato sauce. These “meatballs” are delicious cold and will disappear quickly!