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Raw & Vegan: Peach and Candied-Ginger Pie

17 Jul

I challenged myself to make over a recipe for an incredible-looking nectarine and ginger pie, because it included butter, cream cheese, mascarpone *and* sour cream. Yikes! That is a lot of dairy for someone who is allergic, and a lot of decadence that could probably be skipped with good result. I am finding that it is really easy to turn a lot of recipes into healthier versions that taste just as good as the original, and this pie is no exception.

Now, the original is undoubtedly amazing, because my friend Dana only makes things that are amazing. So for those of you who don’t have a problem with dairy, I have included the original recipe in case you want to try it. But, for those of us who can’t partake, this is a pretty great substitute.

First, I made a raw crust from hazelnuts, candied ginger, coconut and dates. Pressed it into the pan and let it sit in the fridge to harden a bit.

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Then, I made the filling from cashews, more candied ginger, maple syrup and vanilla. It is amazing what you can do with those nuts! You can make “cheese” out of them, and just about anything sweet you can imagine. They are probably the most versatile item in a vegan kitchen.

Finally, the sliced peaches on top (I used peaches because I had some from the farmer’s market that needed using, but nectarines are fab too).

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And viola! Raw, vegan, healthy and super delish too.

Peach and Candied-Ginger Pie
From LaFemmeCooks

1/2 cup raw hazlenuts
1/2 cup dried finely shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbs candied ginger
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup organic raw cashews soaked for 2 hours
1/4-1/2 cup filtered water depending on desired thickness
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup or more to taste
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract, or a little more to taste
3 tbs candied ginger
a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
To prepare the crust, process nuts, coconut, buckwheat and sea salt in a food processor until the nuts are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Spread into a pie pan and press firmly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling, throw everything into your high-speed blender (I use a Vitamix) and puree until thick and creamy.It is a good idea to start with ¼ cup of water, and then gradually thin it out in order to achieve the desired thickness. Pour into crust and freeze until firm.  Top with sliced peaches.
Keep the pie in the fridge or freezer, which is perfect for these hot summer days. Enjoy without guilt!

Quince and Sweet Gorgonzola Salad

4 Jan

Happy New Year! I hope you said a proper goodbye to 2011, and thank you for continuing to read my blog. I know I only post sporadically, but perhaps in 2012 I will be better about it. I don’t make resolutions (mostly because I never keep them), but if I did I am sure blogging more would be at the top of the list. The good news is that I’m not cooking any less, just really busy with my day job and finding less and less time in my day. But, since I own my own small business I guess being busy is a good thing, especially in this economy.

Since I saw you last I have been cooking up a storm from Plenty, the latest cookbook from London chef Ottolenghi. The recipes are all vegetarian, but they are designed to be filling and hearty and attractive to carnivores as well.  This salad would be an excellent accompaniment to anything, from fish to chicken to beef and pork. Quince are my new favorite fruit, and though they require some cooking time to make them easily edible, they are such a fragrant, delightful treat that I can’t resist any recipe that contains them.

One caveat: quince are only in season through February, and may be hard to find if your grocery store doesn’t have them. We get ours from our CSA, and I just got these last week so I know there are still some out there. Many people actually have quince trees and don’t have any idea what to do with the fruit. Friend one of these people, and “help” take some off their hands.

Quince and Sweet Gorgonzola Salad
From Plenty
Serves 4

1 3/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
15 black peppercorns
4 strips orange zest
2 bay leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup red wine
2 medium quinces
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
4 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups mixed greens
4-5 ounces sweet gorgonzola
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, some whole and some roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 275. Take a medium-sized heavy pan that can go in the oven and for which you have a tight-fitting lid. Place inside the water, sugar, peppercorns, orange zest, bay leaves, lemon juice and red wine. Set on the stove and bring to a light simmer. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, peel the quinces; keep the skin. Cut the fruit vertically into quarters and remove the core; keep this too. Cut each quarter into two segments. Place the quince segments, plus the skin and cores, in the sugar syrup. Cover the pan and put it into the over to cook for about two hours. After this time the quince should be completely tender. Remove from over and leave to cool, uncovered.

Whisk together until smooth the mustard, vinegar, 4tbs of the quince cooking liquid, 1/2 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper.

To finish the salad, place some salad leaves on 4 serving plates. Arrange four quince sergments per portion and some hand-broken pieces of gorgonzola on the leaves. Try to build the salad up. Place a few more leaves on top. Spoon the dressing over and scatter over the pistachios. Finish with a light drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, arrange similarly in a large central mixing bowl and bring to the table.



Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple

21 Dec

I really do love the holiday season. I think it is easier to love in the last five or so years since Dave and I decided to get out of the STUFF cycle– no more stress of finding the exact perfect thing for someone who already has everything s/he wants or needs; no more shocking credit bills in January; no more frantic trips to overcrowded shops, no more pretending to love something you know will get thrown straight into the trash bin.  But I do love the spirit of giving, and so I have managed to find a happy balance for myself by focusing on homemade gifts. Nothing is more fun (to me) than starting lemons and vodka in July in anticipation of bottling limoncello in December for my friends. Last year I made this, to rave reviews, and the mustard I am sharing with you now was also such a big hit last year I had to make it again.

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share of the mustard (computer issue, I won’t bore you with the details). So instead I will share a photo of Robyn and I and the fun we have been having this season, and you will just have to trust me that this mustard  is really, really good. Slather it on pork or chicken and roast away. Or add it to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, or serve with crackers and an kind of cheese.  Once you see how easy it is to make your own fresh mustard, you might never want to buy the supermarket stuff again.

Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple
Yields about 8 cups

2 1/4 cups  whole yellow mustard seeds (see Tip)
3/4 cup  whole brown mustard seeds (see Tip)
2 1/2 cups  cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups  water, plus more as needed
1 head  garlic
1 teaspoon  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons  salt

Combine yellow and brown mustard seeds, vinegar and 1 1/2 cups water in a large bowl; cover and let stand at room temperature until the liquid is mostly absorbed, at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours).

About an hour before you’re ready to make mustard, preheat oven to 400°F. Rub off the excess papery skin from garlic without separating the cloves. Slice the tip off the head, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with oil and wrap into a package. Place the package directly on the oven rack and roast until the garlic is very soft, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze half of the cloves out of their skins into a blender. Add half of the mustard seed mixture and pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary and adding water by the tablespoon as needed to facilitate the blending, until some of the seeds are coarsely chopped and the mixture looks like grainy mustard. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining roasted garlic and mustard mixture and add to the bowl. Stir in maple syrup and salt.

Spoon the mustard into airtight containers and refrigerate.

Green Vegetable Salad

5 Oct

The book Veganomicon had a hold of my heart this summer, but I think the fall might belong to my latest addition, Home Made.  I heard the author interviewed on Edible Radio, and this book sounded right up my alley.

I like this recipe because it ties together the end of summer: an abundance of herbs in the garden (literally) dying to be used, and the last of some of my favorite green  things from the farmers market.

The green veggies in their cooling water bath

The authors suggest serving this with some crumbled goat cheese which would be a nice addition, I think. The dressing is really a perfect, creamy match for the greens all on its own, though.

I’m sad to see the end of summer, but I do so love the fall. I’m heading back to France in just under 2 weeks, and fall is my favorite time to be there. Can’t wait to visit the cider makes and fromagers in Normandy, and I just love the air this time of year no matter where I am.

Green Vegetable Salad
From Home Made
Serves 4

3 cups of mixed green vegetables: fava beans, peas, snow peas, asparagus or a mixture thereof
2 ribs celery
1 cup mixed herbs like parsley, tarragon, mint, dill or any mixture of those

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs finely chopped dill
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup hazelnut oil

Cut the long vegetables, such as asparagus or green beans, in half. Blanch all veg for 2 mins, in turn, in a pan with plenty of boiling water. Finish with the fava beans since they will color the water purple. Rinse everything immediately under cold running water. Mix the vegetables, stir in the herbs (reserve some for garnish) and toss with the dressing.

To make the dressing, thoroughly blend all ingredients except the oil. Lastly, beat in the oil in a think trickle.

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry

1 Oct

Have I mentioned that I don’t like tofu? I don’t know if I would go so far as to say I hate it, but I seem to always eat around it if I order something vegetarian in a restaurant that automatically comes with it, and I never ever ever make it at home. But the one questions vegetarians are asked unceasingly is: “Where do you get your protein??” and until recently the answer has usually been tofu. Blech.

Luckily for vegetarians there is protein in literally everything (it is one of the building blocks of nutrition, after all), and though I could talk about the excessive consumption of protein in this country that has helped lead to our obesity epidemic (1 in 3 Americans is now obese), I will simply say that quinoa is a quick and delish way of getting a complete plant-based protein. So goodbye tofu!

This is one of my fave quinoa recipes. You really do want to use fresh pineapple in this. You will need the juice from a fresh pineapple to use in the quinoa, and this does taste best if you make the quinoa itself a day ahead and let it sit overnight to absorb all the pineapple-y goodness. But, if you’re pressed for time and can’t wait so be it. It will still be good. And, though this dish is the bomb as-is, I also think it would be fantastic with some grilled shrimp or salmon on top. Just no tofu!

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry
From Veganomicon
serves 4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp soy sauce

4 oz unsalted cashews
3 tbs peanut oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 hot red chili, sliced into very thin rounds
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen green peas or cooked edamame
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced  into thin shreds
2 tbs finely chopped mint
10 ounces fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs veg stock (or water)
1 tbs mirin
lime wedges for garnish

Prepare the quinoa first: Combine the quinoa ingredients in a medium pot. Cover, place over high heat, and bring to boil. Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 12-14 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa appears plumped and slightly translucent. Uncover, fluff, and let cool. After it has cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. If you’re in a hurry chill the quinoa for at least an hour. When ready to use, break up any chunks of the cold quinoa with a fork.

Prepare the stir-fry: Use the largest nonstick skillet you have or a wok. Have all of your ingredients chopped and easily within reach. Place the cashews in a dry pan and heat over low, stirring until lightly toasted  4-5 mins.

Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium, and add the peanut oil, scallions, and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle add the sliced chile pepper and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 mins, then add the bell pepper and peas. Cook another 3-4 mins, until the bell pepper is softened and the peas are bright green. Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.

In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, veg stock and mirin. Pour over the stir-fry. Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa. Continue to cook 10-14 minutes until the quinoa is very hot (note: I didn’t cook it more than another few minutes because I felt like it was done). Serve with lime wedges.

Vegan, Raw Chocolate Milkshake

26 Sep

Oh yes people, it is POSSIBLE. And even better than being possible, it is DELICIOUS.

Remember how I tricked you with that amazing (raw, vegan) chocolate mousse? Well, I am back with another delish, healthy recipe that will fool your kiddos into thinking they are having a naughty treat. It’s all made in the blender, which makes this so easy it is criminal.

Ok, the secret to this amazing shake? Brazil nuts. They blend up nice and creamy, along with some good quality cocoa and some dates, and voila! Dave and I have been making this on hot days as our afternoon pick-me-up, and we still can’t get over the yum factor for something so healthy. One tip: this recipe required a really good blender (Vitamix, preferably), because this has to blend for a good long while. Make sure you get it nice and creamy, and you will be richly rewarded.

Vegan Chocolate Milkshake
From Healthy Blender Recipes

2/3 cup raw Brazil nuts
2  cups filtered water
1 cup ice
3 large frozen bananas
3 Tbsp raw cacao or carob powder
4-6 pitted dates
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch Celtic sea salt

Throw all ingredients into blender and whirl until smooth and creamy!

Spicy Peanut and Coconut Vegetables over Bamboo Rice

21 Sep

Because I was a vegetarian for so much of my life, I must have a million different riffs on a vegetable stir-fry. This happens to be one of my favorites, because I really love bamboo rice.  I have found that simply changing up which rice I use makes a boring old stir-fry fun again. Though, to be honest, I never tire of the veggie/rice combo: a good stir-fry is one of my favorite dishes on the planet.

Where to find bamboo rice? I get it in bulk at my local market (Greenwood Market, if you are here in Seattle), but it can also be found from online purveyors and at Amazon.  I also like using different types of quinoa instead of rice in my stir-fry, or Bhutanese red rice, saffron rice, etc. There is a whole world of rice out there that you might not even know about, and it is fun trying out different kinds to see what you like.

I am giving you a basic recipe for what I made here, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. That’s the beauty of a stir-fry– you’re meant to just throw in whatever odds and ends you find languishing in your fridge. Of course you can add whatever meat or tofu you like, but I like mine with just vegetables, thank you very much.

Spicy Peanut and Coconut Vegetables with Bamboo Rice
From LaFemmeCooks
Serves 4

1 small head broccoli (or 1 bag frozen)
1 small onion
2 carrots, sliced into coins or matchsticks, whatever you like
1 container mushrooms, any variety
1 cup sliced purple cabbage
1 zucchini
1 cup celery, cut on the bias into one-inch pieces
3-4 leaves of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper
1 cup snow pea pods

1/2-1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 lime
1-2 tbs rice wine vinegar (add one, then test at the end for proper acidity and add more if needed)
1 tbs grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tbs chile sauce or sriracha (depending on how hot you like it)
1/4 cup each cilantro, mint and thai basil

Combine all ingredients for sauce in bowl. Heat vegetables over high heat, except snow peas. Cook about 5-8 minutes, until vegetables are al dente. Turn heat to medium and add snow peas and sauce. Mix thoroughly. Add more of the coconut milk if needed for desired consistency. You can serve this over rice, with a squeeze of lime, or I like to mix in the rice at this point so that it soaks up the sauce.


Potatoes Lyonnaise with Lemon and Chile

13 Sep

The countdown to my next trip to France has already begun! In exactly one month I will be boarding a plane for my favorite place in all the world. I am again going to Normandy (fall is such an incredible time to be there, with apples ripe and cider season in full swing), and then to Paris. This month is going to fly by, I just know it.

The latest Food & Wine arrived yesterday, and the theme of the issue is New French Classics. I love this, of course, because I do this all the time at home. One of the recipes that caught my eye immediately was the updated version of Potatoes Lyonnaise. If you aren’t familiar with the recipe, it is simply potatoes, onions, garlic. But the marriage of the three (with a healthy dose of butter, I’m not going to lie), exults the simple tubers into things of sheer genius. You will never eat plain old hash browns again.

I didn't have parsley on hand so this pic is missing the oomph of green needed to make these pop, but they tasted great anyway!

Potatoes Lyonnaise with Lemon and Chile
From Food & Wine Magazine

1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 baking potatoes (peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick)
1/4 cup pork fat (I used leaf lard that I had on hand for pie crusts) or melted unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, chopped
freshly ground pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs chopped parsley

In medium saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the sliced onions and a large pinch of salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the potato slices in a large pan of water, add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; let cool to room temperature. Gently pat the slices dry.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the pork fat (or butter). Add the potato slices and cook over moderately high heat until they are browned and crisp, about 6 minutes on each side. Add the chopped garlic and shake it in the skillet until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked omnions and season them with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the crushed red pepper and lemon juice. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve right away.


Pineapple-Cilantro Popsicles

30 Aug

I bought some popsicle molds this summer, thinking they would be the perfect light treat on a hot summer day. Well, we haven’t seen a lot of hot days that warrant popsicle eating here in Seattle, so the new molds have sat on the shelf for two months.  When Dave flew back from a trip last week, he couldn’t stop talking about the cool popsicle ideas in the in-flight magazine and I knew it was time to break out the molds.

These would be really tasty with other herbs like shiso, verbena, or even basil.  It would also be fun to add a handful of strawberries or blueberries, or even some coconut milk.  These pops are a grown-up treat that even kids would love… or is the other way around?!

Pineapple-Cilantro Pops
From Spirit Magazine

1 ripe pineapple, cut into small chunks
handful of fresh cilantro leaves
⅓ cup sugar
juice of ½ lime
pinch of salt

Put pineapple, cilantro, sugar, lime juice, and salt in a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour mixture into 8 to 10 3-ounce ice-pop molds and add sticks. Freeze for 4 hours, or until frozen. Dip molds in tepid water to help remove the pops.


Dad and Dave enjoying dessert

Midsummer Corn Chowder with Basil, Tomato and Fennel

24 Aug

Summer is finally here in Seattle! We may get one whole month of it, so I am trying to cram as many “summer” recipes into August as possible.  One of my favorite foods of summer is corn, and this corn chowder makes perfect use of the sweet stuff brimming over at our farmer’s market. Also I am a closet fennel addict, so anything with fennel involved has my vote.

We are still cooking our way through Veganomicon, so this recipe comes from that book. My favorite thing about this recipe is that the soup is creamy, but there is no dairy whatsoever. This is a really healthy and delicious version of corn chowder that can be served to anyone with food allergies, too.

We took the time to make fresh corn stock as well, which is an easy way to use the leftover cobs after you take the corn off.  Just throw the cobs in a stockpot with a couple of carrots, a leek, some celery and an onion and let is summer for about an hour. Voila!  The perfect base for this soup.

Midsummer Corn Chowder with Basil, Tomato & Fennel
From Veganomicon

6 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
3 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, cut into fine dice
1 small bulb fennel, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
1 large carrot, diced
1 lb white, waxy potatoes peeled and diced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 quarts fresh corn stock, or vegetable broth, or water
1 lb tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly rolled and sliced into thin strips
salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove kernels from cob, and use cobs for stock as described as above if wanted. Preheat a large soup pot over meium high heat. Saute the garlic in oil for 30 sec0nds, then add the onion. Sitr and cover, sweating them for about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, stir, cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the fennel, stir, cover and cook for 3 minutes, then add the chopped potato and cook for 3 minutes. Finally, add the fresh corn, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock, stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and allow the soup to simmer, covered (with lid tilted so a small amount of heat can escape), for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, and puree half the soup with an immersion blender. Add chopped tomatoes and basil and simmer an additional 10 minutes.


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