Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Pie

I was so excited when I first went to the farmer’s market in Vancouver to find out that hazelnuts are grown in BC. They are one of my favourite nuts, and now I can justify buying them more often. You can bet that I’ll be making lots of hazelnut fig granola this summer! I used up the rest of my beloved hazelnut butter to make this delicious pie, but that’s okay because I’ll just get more next time I go to the market!

I actually made this a while ago and gave a bunch of it to my landlord as a thank you for him giving me a bunch of arugula from his garden. My desserts for your arugula and mint – it’s a deal☺

Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Pie

1 pre-baked pie crust (I used this one, but just about any crust should work – if making a plain white-flour crust, I’d recommend substituting some of the flour with ground-up hazelnuts for extra hazelnut yumminess)
1 cup non-dairy yogurt (I used home-made rice yogurt, but soy would probably be better)
4 tablespoons hazelnut butter
200 g good quality dark chocolate
2 tablespoons demerara sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness of the yogurt)
5 tablespoons coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons powdered egg replacer (or just arrowroot)
Whole hazelnuts for decorating (optional)

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler (or, like me, by putting the chocolate in a smaller saucepan placed inside a larger one that is filled with 2-3 inches of simmering water). Meanwhile, blend the yogurt and hazelnut butter together. Add the sugar, coffee, vanilla and egg replacer, blending really well. When the chocolate is completely melted, add it to the blender and blend really well. Add this point do a taste test, and if you’d like a the filling a bit sweeter, add more sugar. Now pour the filling into the pie crust, smoothing it out, and decorate with some hazelnuts, if you’d like. Cover it in plastic and pop it in the fridge overnight.

This pie freezes great, too! Oh, how I wish I still had some…

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spiced Rhubarb-Apple-Almond Bread Pudding

If you’ve found yourself with some slightly stale bread and don’t want to just throw it out, take a cue from Laura Matthias (author of Extraveganza, one of my favourite cookbooks) and make bread pudding! All you have to do is cube the bread and leave it out in the open air to dry out (if it’s not in the open air then it might mold, and no one wants that). Once you’ve collected enough dried bread, you can make a bread pudding with it. This is one that I made recently:

Spiced Rhubarb-Apple-Almond Bread Pudding

5 cups cubed, stale bread
1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped

2 apples, chopped (I didn’t bother peeling them, but you could if you wanted to)
¾ cup demerara sugar
½ cup water

2 – 2 ½ cups almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cardamom
1 good pinch each of allspice, cloves and nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon arrowroot

1 apple, sliced (for topping)

1 cup almond slivers or chopped almonds (for topping)

Place the bread in a casserole baking dish and set aside. Combine the rhubarb, apples, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer for 10 or so minutes, until the rhubarb and apples can be mashed easily. Place the saucepan ingredients in a blender and add everything except the bread and topping ingredients, blending until smooth (or you can put them in a bowl and blend with a hand-held blender, like I did). Pour this mixture over the bread and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes, preheating the oven to 350 degrees toward the end of that time. If all the liquid seems to have been absorbed by then, add some more almond milk and stir gently. Now sprinkle the top with ¾ of the almonds, arrange the apple slices on top of the almonds, and finish by sprinkling on the remainder of the almonds. Bake for about an hour.

I used rye bread for the pudding, which I think made it especially flavourful. While it can be eaten by itself, in my opinion it tastes best with either warmed almond milk or some vegan custard or vanilla sauce – delicious!

(Why is my custard sauce so yellow? I don't know)

A note on the sauce:

Not that you need a recipe for making custard sauce, but here’s what I do:

I heat about 2/3 of a cup of almond milk in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Meanwhile, I whisk 2 teaspoons of vegan custard powder and 1 teaspoon of cane sugar with a couple of tablespoons of almond milk in a small bowl until very smooth. Then I whisk the custard mixture into the saucepan and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes (or else it lumps up) and then I take it off the heat and stir in a couple of crops of almond or vanilla extract (and pour some of it over my bread pudding – there’s lots extra, of course)

Before I had custard powder, I made vanilla sauce – I basically did the same thing as above, only instead of custard powder I added 2 teaspoons of arrowroot. I also added probably twice as much sugar and a full ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and a small pinch of salt as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Roasted Green Pepper and Almond Soybean Dip

I've seen lots of recipes for roasted red pepper hummus and other spreads, but never one with roasted green peppers instead (although I'm sure they must exist). Since green peppers are so much cheaper to buy, I thought I'd try my hand at making a dip/spread with them for a change. They're obviously less sweet, but still make for a yummy dip (especially with raw vegetables like carrots or cucumbers). This one's adapted from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Roasted Green Pepper and Almond Soybean Dip

1/3 cup raw almonds
juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 can soybeans

2 green peppers, roasted*

1 clove of garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt
freshly-ground pepper to taste
¼ cup parsley

In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine meal. Add all remaining ingredients except the parsley and puree until very smooth. Now add the parsley and puree briefly until incorporated. Makes About 2 ½ cups.

*To roast the peppers, remove the stem and seeds and then quarter them. Toss in a little bit of olive oil, then lay down skin side-up on a cookie sheet and broil for about 10 minutes, until the skins start to blacken (watch closely). Remove from the oven and slide the peppers into a bowl with a plate on top. Once cool, peel off the skins (they will come off easily) and you’re done!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Collard Chips, and Sprouts in a Smoothie

So much green stuff, it's not even funny (or maybe it is, I don't know). I went to the farmer's market on the weekend and got a little over-excited about all the new and beautiful greens available; I bought myself one large bunch of collards, a bag of mixed baby greens, a big bag of baby kale, one bunch of dinosaur kale, and one bunch of arugula (I'm sure the farmer thought I was feeding a small family, but it was all for myself). Add to that the fact that I almost always have a jar of sprouts growing in my kitchen (and sometimes forget about them), and that is a lot of green stuff to go through in one week! So, I've been looking for alternative ways to use these things up, and here's what I've come up with lately:

I've known about kale chips for a while, but I never tried them before. Collards seemed like they could work too, and they definitely did - crispy, salty, and papery-thin (not good for dipping, but great on their own). I won't pretend that this is a very original recipe, but here it is:

Collard Chips

1 large bunch collard leaves, stems removed and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ -1/2 teaspoon salt (depends how salty you want them)
freshly-ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl until oil and seasonings are evenly distributed amongst the greens, and then spread out on 1 or 2 cookie sheets, making sure no leaves overlap. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until dry and crispy.

I tried to make a green smoothie with sprouts in it a couple of times, and it took some experimenting to come up with something that has enough sweetness and creaminess to somewhat mask the fact that there's sprouts in there. This may be a creamier smoothie than some people are used to, but honestly, it's one of the best I've ever had.

Green Smoothie with Sprouts and Kale

3 baby kale leaves
1/4 cup sprouts (I had a mixture of mung beans, azuki beans, chickpeas, red radish seeds and fenugreek, but that's just what I happened to have in my fridge)
1/2 cup mango nectar (any kind of fruit juice would probably work)
1 frozen banana
1/2 an avocado
1 teaspoon flax oil
1 tablespoon mint leaves (optional)
enough almond milk to thin it out, probably 1/4 - 1/2 cup

Blend the kale, sprouts and nectar/juice in a very good blender or a food processor for a couple of minutes, until it looks a uniform green. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend again. Then fill your favourite glass (oh yeah, and it has to have a mustache on it or it doesn't count) and raise it up!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I blogged about this one a little while back, and now I’m back with a recipe! This time I tried it out with some sugar beet syrup that I had come across (it has a dark flavour, like a cross between agave and molasses), and it was great, possibly even better than with maple syrup. However, the choice is yours. Either way, it will make for a decadent, delicious (and sort of comparatively nutritious) treat, and you can pretend it’s actually good for you!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

2 avocados
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar beet syrup (or maple syrup or agave)
1 pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend the avocados until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until completely smooth. That’s it! Chill in the fridge for an hour, or just gobble it up at room temperature. Makes 2 servings.

Variation: add 1 good pinch of cayenne for some heat!

Sunflower Chickpea Spread

With beginning to make bread from scratch, I’ve been going through bread a lot quicker than usual, and bean spreads are a great way to make a nutritious meal of it and also let the flavour of the bread shine (well, as long as the flavour of the spread is mild enough!). More bean spreads can be expected in the future, that is for sure. This one is a variation on hummus, and makes a nice summery spread. In this picture I’ve made it the base of a delicious veggie-full open-faced sandwich, on my homemade bread along with lettuce from my garden, local organic cucumber, home-grown bean sprouts, and some chives, also from my garden. This spread also makes a very addictive tortilla chip dip!

Sunflower Chickpea Spread

½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup water (or more)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more)
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
5 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
juice of 1 lemon
1 handful fresh sage (or other fresh herb – rosemary or thyme would probably work, too)
1 handful fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Toast the sunflower seeds until fragrant. Grind them in a food processor until as fine as possible. Then add the water, oil and chickpeas, and blend, adding more water or oil (if needed) to get a good spread-able consistency. Then add all the other ingredients and blend until very smooth. Done!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Danish Braid v.2 – Rhubarb-Coconut-Pistachio and Almond

I still had the rest of that Danish dough in the freezer from the end of April, and I knew I had to use it soon. I was planning on making a nut-cream filling, but then I went to the farmer’s market and picked up some rhubarb, and it was practically hollering at me to use it in the Danish braid. And when rhubarb hollers at you, you gotta do what it says.

So I made two smaller braids with the rest of my dough, one was the (maybe) more-traditional almond cream with tosca-style almond topping, and the other was rhubarb-coconut (with a hint of orange) and pistachio topping.

Almond Cream Filling (only slightly altered from the Macadamia Crème recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance)

½ cup blanched, roasted almonds
scant ¼ cup almond milk
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon arrowroot

Grind the almonds in a food processor until as finely ground as possible. Add the almond milk and blend to form a thick paste. Add the sugar and extracts, and blend again. While continuing to blend, add the oil in a thin stream. Then add the arrowroot, and blend again. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until cold.

Rhubarb Coconut Filling

1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/8 cup water
¼ cup cane sugar (or less if you want a more breakfast-like Danish braid)
juice and zest of ½ an orange
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon arrowroot

Combine the rhubarb, water, sugar, and orange in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the rhubarb can easily be mashed with a fork. Mash the rhubarb, add the coconut and cook for a minute or so. Add the arrowroot, mix it all together and remove from heat. Let cool, transfer to a container and then refrigerate until cold.

After letting the dough thaw in the fridge for a couple of days, I rolled it out to ¼ inch thickness and split it into two rectangles. I then followed the rest of my directions for making the Danish braid. The only thing different that I did was to add a topping. I used the Tosca Topping from Tofu for Two’s Tosca Cupcakes (will I ever tire of that blog? not any time soon) for the almond braid, and I followed the same directions, substituting chopped pistachios for the slivered almonds, for the rhubarb-coconut pistachio braid. After rotating the pan in the oven and turning down the oven heat, I pulled the braids out and spooned on the toppings, then put them bake in the oven until they were done (it took about the same length of time as it did for the larger braid). That was it! Not too much work for something so delicious.

Unfortunately the rhubarb-coconut pistachio braid opened up after I put the topping on. Maybe the weight was too much for it to handle? Oh well, it still tasted damn good.

And no, I don’t eat portions the size of the ones you see at the top! I’ve decided to bring half of both of them to the people at work tomorrow, so I won’t eat them all myself (and I’ll freeze some, too).

Happy 1st of June!

Another Rice Bowl + Beet Soup

As I'd mentioned earlier, I'd said I was on a dragon bowl roll. But then it got jilted a bit. This one I made with the intention of making something that seemed starchy and comfort food-y, but wasn't actually very bad for you. I'm going to tweak the recipe a bit more, but in it I had (besides brown rice): baked Jerusalem artichokes and carrots, kale, some leafy greens from the market that I forgot the name of. The whole thing was topped with a garlicky tahini nutritional yeast sauce and then garnished with home-sprouted mixed bean sprouts. Oh yeah, and there was marinated tempeh in there as well.

Beet soup (Borscht? What makes a Borscht anyway?) with carrots, red cabbage, red onion, garlic, broccoli and some homegrown herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, just like in the song). More tweaking needed, but it was good and satisfying.

Yellow Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

I devised this as a way to help use up a copious amount of berry soy yogurt I had acquired earlier. The flavour reminds me of a blueberry bundt cake that my mom made when I was little. Actually, this batter would probably make a pretty decent bundt cake as well.

Yellow Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

1 cup of spelt flour
½ cup sugar (I used demerara, but cane sugar would probably up the yellow-ness)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional – I love cardamom and you can’t stop me from adding it to everything)
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup berry soy yogurt
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon canola oil
zest of one lemon
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix, but not too much (to avoid gumminess). Fold in the blueberries. Pour into a sprayed muffin tin, filling ¾ of the way up. Sprinkle tops with demerara sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 9-10 muffins.

Seedy White Chocolate Clusters

I made these to give away to some fellow vegan bloggers, the good people behind Veganachronism and the Year of the Vegan, when we went out for lunch one day. They were well-received.

These little guys may not look like much, but they are certainly tasty, and my favourite way to use vegan white chocolate chips. They make a good snack cookie thing, what with all those seeds in there.

Seedy White Chocolate Clusters

1 ¼ cup combination of pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
¼ cup raisins
1/3 cup vegan white chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 or more tablespoons almond milk or water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the seeds together in a dry skillet until fragrant (not very long). Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, stir together raisins, chocolate chips, salt, flour, and baking powder until well-combined. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla, oil and milk or water. Once the seeds are cooled, add them to the dry ingredients, mix, and then add the wet ingredients. If the mixture isn’t coming together easily, add a bit more milk or water to help it out. Spray a cookie sheet or line with parchment, and scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture, forming it into a ball with your hands, and place it on the cookies sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. This is a tad messy - you’ll probably need to rinse your hands a few times in the process. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, until they start to colour a little bit. Makes 14-18 clusters.