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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!

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-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.

Peach and Pistachio Salad

25 Jul

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day… well, I wouldn’t know much about summer here in Seattle. I hear the rest of the country is having quite the heatstroke, but today in Seattle it is raining and THUNDERING and I can’t recall whether this month is July… or January. Normally this time of year I would be making gazpacho and grilling and doing all of those fun summer-type things, but this year I am making warm, hearty dishes to take away the chill. Enter: peaches.

Peaches mean it is summer time. Who eats peaches in the winter?? Not me. So this salad proves it is summer out there, somewhere…right?  This salad is really flavorful, and was the star of the meal. In fact, I don’t remember what I served it with because we were too busy going crazy over the salad. Add a glass of Lillet on ice, and you have the perfect summer meal. Somewhere.

Peach and Pistachio Salad
From Food & Wine

1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large hot red chile, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 underripe medium peaches, very thinly sliced
1 small jicama (about 8oz) peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
3/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios
2 cups baby arugula

In a large bowl, combine the shallot, red chile, sugar and vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the peaches, jicama and pistachios and toss well. Fold in the arugula and season with salt and pepper. Serve right away.


Pan Bagnat

22 Jun

One of my favorite things about visiting Nice is the street food.  I tried so many things there, like socca and pissaladiere, and have great memories of hanging out in the sunshine while eating some new thing or another.  We were planning a road trip recently, and the thought of packing a picnic and enjoying a pan bagnat in the sunshine reminded me a lot of our time in southern France.

If you have ever had a salad Nicoise then you are already familiar with the ingredients that make up a pan bagnat, which is essentially a salad Nicoise eaten as a sandwich.   The best part is that the sandwich gets weighted down overnight and is a dense, hearty meal the next day.

The perfect summer sandwich

Feel free to play with the ingredients and add/subtract things as you wish.  Veganomicon has a great recipe for a vegan version of this sandwich with roasted eggplant if you prefer to have yours without the tuna and eggs. I left the eggs off mine, and I added red bell pepper and shredded carrots for a little color and crunch.  I added some homemade pesto that I had on hand, and an olive tapenade from Trader Joe’s that I like.  Traditionally it is served on a round loaf, but a baguette would work just fine here too. Below is my own version, made to my taste preferences, but nothing is written in stone for this recipe.

Pan Bagnat
From LaFemmeCooks

1 round loaf of bread (I used the Rosemary and Sea Salt version from Essential Bakery here in Seattle)
1 cup spinach, lightly tossed in olive oil and vinegar of any kind
1 can tuna, drained
1/2 can marinated artichoke hearts
1/3 cup pepperocinis
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 sliced red bell pepper
olive tapenade or chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup pesto

Slice bread in half through the middle. Scoop out much of the bread from the halves, but leave enough to support the sandwich toppings. Spread pesto on the top half and olive tapenade on the bottom half. If you don’t have either of these things add a good dijon mustard instead.  Add the spinach first, then top with remaining ingredients, being careful to spread everything out evenly. When all toppings are added, put the “lid” back on the sandwich and wrap the sandwich in wax paper. Place it in the fridge overnight with a good heavy weight on top. If you don’t have overnight to wait, a few hours will do. Remove the weight when ready to serve, and cut into wedges. Serves 4, depending on the size of the bread.

Nice harbor, from our trip April 2009


Rosé Sangria

11 Jun

Bonjour mes amis!  I am so happy to see June arrive, I cannot even tell you.  June is such a great month– for the first half of my life it meant the end of school and the beginning of a few months of adventure, and now it is a month of transition as the sun keeps cranking up the volume and winter fades into (what I wish was) oblivion.

It also happens to be my dad’s birthday early in the month, and there is no one the planet whom I adore more than my dad. I know I have talked about him before here, and the truth is there really aren’t words glowing enough to describe him. He is just a superstar.  So, for his birthday I wanted to have him over for a lovely dinner that he well deserves. I grilled copper river salmon, made this salad, and had plans to bake this bread (which I didn’t get around to, but luckily we have some great bakeries around here!).  I wanted to make something fun for cocktail hour, and decided that sangria would be the perfect choice because it is a rule of nature: once you make sangria, it is officially summer.

Sangria on a sunny day

I’m sure this recipe is similar to many out there (I mean, there are only so many variations of this drink, right?). This one turned out really well, was light and refreshing and really easy to make.  Plus, doesn’t all the fruit make it a health food?

Rosé Sangria
From LaFemmeCooks

1 bottle Rosé wine
1 bottle Riesling
1/2 cup triple sec/Grand Marnier/Cointreau
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 cup canteloupe
1/2 cup mango
1/2 cup raspberries
Club Soda to taste

Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces. Too small and they will turn to mush; too large and they are unwieldy to eat.  Place all fruit except mangoes and berries in a large glass pitcher. Add both bottles of wine and the triple sec.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the alcohol has a chance to soak into the fruit.  To serve, add the berries and mangoes into glasses, then a few pieces of each fruit from the pitcher. Pour wine over the fruit, and top with club soda to taste.  You can omit the club soda if you prefer a stronger sangria. Enjoy!



Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

27 May

I know I talk a lot here about my love of France, and really what isn’t there to love about that place?  But my husband and I also fell in love with a place closer to home: a small town in Eastern Washington called Walla Walla.  Now, if you know anything about wine you have probably at least heard of Walla Walla, and many of the best wines from this state are grown there.  It also happens to be an adorable town with a charming main street, dry weather (something that is a wonderful reprieve from the wet weather we have here in Seattle), and it happens to be perched at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which makes for stunning scenery all around you.

The vineyards at Abeja Cellars in Walla Walla

Needless to say, we spend a lot of time in this town.  We know the area well, love the restaurants, and just plain enjoy the slow pace of small town life.  One of our favorite things to do while visiting is head over to the Farmer’s Market that happens weekend mornings.  On a recent trip with some friends we ended up trying some new things at the market, and my husband went crazy for a bean salad we had.  While eating it I tried to decipher the ingredients so that I could make it for him again at home, and it seemed to me most like tabbouleh with beans instead of couscous.

And so, here is my re-creation, inspired by the woman from Walla Walla.  It is the perfect accompaniment to summer grilling, or just alongside a sandwich.  Beans are super healthy, and so are herbs (which happen to be little antioxidant powerhouses).   I like my tabbouleh the traditional way, which is heavy on the herbs. These are a nice reprieve from the same old potato salad or coleslaw that show up at every summer event.

The version in the picture below is one I made with basil instead of the Tabbouleh dressing, so it is less green and herby than it usually looks. It tasted great, though, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

15 oz can each: black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans
1 tomato, diced
3-5 green onions, diced
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Juice from one large lemon
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Will last in the refrigerator for about a week.

Slow-roasted Tomatoes

17 Mar

I don’t eat “fresh” tomatoes in winter. I just don’t. I much prefer to hold out for the very first heirlooms from these guys, as a signal that summer is in full swing and all is right with the world. Winter tomatoes are merely holograms of their summer selves, and hardly worth the time or effort. But this week my CSA included them in my delivery, and I had to make the best of it.

I have been playing around with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at home, to my husband’s delight. I have used rosemary bread and potato bread and pain au levain; muenster cheese, chevre, roquefort and gruyere. I love to vary the ingredients, and have found that both of us prefer a vegetarian version, with grilled onions, avocado, and any kind of cheese or bread.


When the tomatoes arrived, I decided they would best be put to use slow-roasted to increase the flavor that I knew would be lacking this time of year. And it turned out to be a great idea, especially added to a grilled cheese sandwich! I also roasted some balsamic onions for a tart punch, and paired it all with a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. I am pretty sure that if there is a Heaven, everyone there is eating this sandwich.

Slow-roasted Tomatoes
From Daniel Bouloud’s Tomato Confit recipe

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed and finely sliced
10 basil leaves, torn
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 bay leaves, broken
20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper. Strew a little of the garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves over the oil.

Cut each tomato lengthwise in half and carefully, with your fingers or a tiny spoon, remove the seeds. Lay the tomato halves cut side down in the pan, wiggling the tomatoes around if necessary so that each tomato has a floss of oil on its cut side. Using a pastry brush, give the tops of the tomatoes a light coat of olive oil.

Season the tops of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and a little sugar, and scatter over the rest of the garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves. Slide the pan into the oven and bake the tomatoes for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are very tender but still able to hold their shape; turn the tomatoes over at half-time and open the oven for just a second every 30 minutes or so to get rid of the moisture that will build up in the oven.

Cool the tomatoes to room temperature on their pan. When the tomatoes are cool, transfer them to a jar, stacking them neatly. Pour whatever oil remains in the pan over the tomatoes and then, if you plan to keep the tomatoes longer than 1 or 2 days, pour in enough olive oil to cover and refrigerate.

Peach-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

31 Aug

I am sitting here on the final day of August in Seattle, rain drenching my windowsills and sending the tiny golden tomatoes on my porch into chilly convulsions.  Is it summer still? All is confused.

I should be basking in the sun in my front yard, eating ripe peaches and sipping Lillet on ice to cool down.  Instead, I have on a sweatshirt, wool socks and am sipping hot tea with lemon and honey for warmth.  Summer is so short here in Seattle, we count on every day of sunshine possible from mid-June to September.  Having just one sunny day taken from us feels like treachery of the worst sort… a winter storm in August?  Unreasonable.  I am counting down the days until I leave for Paris, but I know that they, too, are having an unfairly rainy summer.

What to do in times like this? Eat berries and stone fruit, of course.  Nothing says summer like raspberries and peaches, especially when topped with freshly whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream.  I have a wonderful recipe for upside-down pear cake that adapts well to any fruit, and it seemed like a perfect way to use the fresh fruit from my farm share.  Summer marches on, and ’tis best to enjoy every little bit that we can.

Peach-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

3 medium peaches
1 pint fresh raspberries
3 tbs butter
3/4 light brown sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup blanched almonds (any nut will work here, just omit the extract) finely ground
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the 3 tbs butter with the brown sugar in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the sugar is melted and smooth, then remove the pan from the heat.  Peel the peaches and cut them into slices about 1-inch thick.  Overlap the slices in the sugared pan, going around the outside and fan into the center.  Nestle raspberries between slices and/or sprinkle them over the peaches.

For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the vanilla and extract (if using).  Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth.  Stir in the nuts, followed by the remaining dry ingredients.  Spoon the batter over the fruit and smooth it out with an offset spatula.

Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden and springy when pressed with a fingertip, 35-40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then set a cake plate on top of the pan, grasp both the plate and the pan tightly, and turn it over.  Carefully ease the pan off the cake.  If any fruits have stuck to the pan, simply pry them off and return them to the cake.

Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.


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