Making Meatballs Meatless

My maternal Great-Grandma Felicetta and her daughter, my Grandma Mary before (whom I’ve written about before), were infamous for their Italian meatballs, strife with a plethora of animal products.

It was a challenge to come up with a version that forsakes these ingredients without abandoning their amazing flavor and texture.  It took a while to come up with this version; but as best I can remember (I haven’t had one of their meatballs in over 34 years—they have long passed away, but my father, Dutch by birth but Italian through osmosis, continues the tradition), this recipe absolutely fits the bill.

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Great-Grandma Felicetta’s Italian Meatless Meatballs

Growing up, my Italian Grandma Mary would make these delectable and delicate cookies on what looked to me like a mini waffle iron. She would stand in front of that machine for over an hour, as each set of cookies (her “iron”, which I have come to know as a pizzelle machine, made two at a time” would cook the cookies in a minute flat. She’d then remove them to a cooling rack and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, and if we grandchildren didn’t snatch them before she got to do it, after about another minute or two, she’d stack them onto a beautiful ceramic platter.

Of course, her recipe, which she passed on to me, was not vegan, having eggs and milk in it. Also, they were made with your typical white flour. Today, I’ve been able to use my ‘veganification’ methods, and convert her heirloom recipe into the exact same, absolutely delicious, cookies that I so fondly remember, without any sacrifice, and now 100% plant-based, vegan.

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Pizzelles

One of my favorite culinary techniques is working with doughs or all sorts. I think I probably have the most fun with focaccia dough because it is rather unlike most other doughs in that it is soft and wet. Rather than kneading the dough and punching it down, you instead do a sequence of stretching and folding the dough to develop the gluten followed by a sequence of what I like to call “playing the piano.

The lightness and airiness of the interior of the focaccia coupled with the crispiness of the crust and the toppings you select make for a delightful bread that rightfully can stand alone but also makes a great sandwich bread or dipping into gravy (either my Italian tomato gravy or Bolognese).

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The Magic of Focaccia

During Martin Luther King’s Birthday weekend, I participated in the Sedona VegFest as an Exhibitor (that’s me on the right-hand side representing the Meetup Group that I founded/organize, Verde Valley Vegans). It was an exciting weekend, having the opportunity to meet so many like-minded, wonderful, and interesting people.

As is typical of me, conversations tend to shift towards the direction of food and recipes. One of the lovely participants (who requested to remain anonymous but gave me permission to share her recipe), told me about one of her family’s heirloom recipes for a Gingerbread Cake. It was not at all vegan; however, she successfully veganized it; and shared it with me so I could share it with you.

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3-Ginger Gingerbread Cake

Sorry I missed writing last week. I was out-of-town, traveling for business. Whenever I do so, I try to book myself in hotels that have those mini suites that include a refrigerator and an induction stovetop. Makes life on the road sooooo much easier, at least in the food department. I get to control what I eat and what goes into it. Traveling is stressful enough…adding eating out throughout the duration gets old quickly, not to mention the temptation of ordering not only an entrée but also an appetizer, and heck, if they have it, a vegan dessert.

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Hotel Pasta

In the cold winter months when the house is closed up and I am chilled to the bones (I am an absolute sissy in cold weather!), there is nothing better than the anticipation of a yummy warm-me-to-the-core pot of goodness that is simmering away on the stove, perfuming the kitchen with its aromatic flavors.

This Fennel Mushroom Ragu is, in its simplicity, precisely one of these meals. Adorn it over pasta, or as the crowning glory atop grilled polenta cakes or tofu, or toss with pasta and vegan ricotta for a baked pasta casserole. Add a protein—such as beefless tips or chickenless strips for a heartier, stick-to-your-ribs dish. Possibilities abound…enjoy!

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Fennel Mushroom Ragu

I am fortunate to have whom I consider to be the absolute best neighbors in the world. They live across the street from me. For the first six years, I did not reside in my home, but rather, visited several times each year. During the first six years, we became friendly with one particular couple. And then finally, on September 1, 2015, it happened! I was able to semi-retire and move to my dream house in my fantasy world, although it was neither a dream nor a fantasy. It was real life. Ah, so much to be grateful for today. Since then, we (my partner, Richard, and I) have become endearing friends with Skip and Cynthia. But, I am digressing here just a bit. Back to being on point….

If you’ve been following this blog, you might have realized by now that I not only love to cook, but also have a real passion for baking as well. Coupled with that, it positively feeds my soul to gift my baked treats to those I love.

Skip is diabetic, so I tweaked my original carrot muffin recipe (which was not vegan) into a delicious (and quick and easy) sugar-free carrot-apple muffin in his honor.

I just finished baking these muffins as part of my Holiday gift to Skip and Cynthia. I will be presenting these baked goodies to them on “The Giving Plate”. The giving plate reads: This special plate is yours today. Its purpose is very clear. It comes to tell you that you’re loved and someone holds you dear! Savor all the plate contains and fill it full again. Then send it on renewed with love to family and friends.

So, here’s my new, veganized recipe. At the very end, I will include my former original non-vegan recipe, since after all, this blog is “veganification”, celebrating the journey of becoming and being vegan. That includes recipes in addition to us sentient beings.

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Carrot-Apple Sugar-Free Muffins & The Giving Plate