Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maple Bourbon Chocolate Ganache Tart with Salted Hazelnut Crust, Vegan, Paleo, and Gluten-Free

This may be one of the best desserts I have ever made. It is complex and perfectly balanced with a salted hazelnut crust and a creamy maple, bourbon chocolate ganache filling.

The crust has a similar texture to graham cracker crusts and the filling is richly dense while remaining easily sliceable. The tart is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and paleo.

I recommend it for an adults-only crowd, or reduce or omit the alcohol for younger palates. My kids enjoyed a few bites before announcing that there was something strange about it. I admitted to possibly adding a splash of bourbon. Possibly.

“It was on the shelf,” I said. “It was calling me.” 

“You should have resisted the temptation,” Brad said, pushing his pie away. “See how well it worked out for Adam and Eve?”

Good point. 

Rich helped himself to the rest of Brad’s pie.

In my defense, bourbon has as much alcohol as vanilla extract does. Actually, vanilla extract is bourbon, primarily. So, if you put vanilla in your desserts, why not bourbon? I rest my case. In any case, more pie for me.  

Make sure to use a good quality unsweetened chocolate. I prefer Guittard Unsweetened Chocolate Gourmet Baking Bars because they are Certified Fair Trade and has a deep chocolate flavor with floral and spice notes. 

Maple Bourbon Chocolate Ganache Tart with Salted Hazelnut Crust

Serves 12

For the crust:

2 cups (about 200 grams) ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons palm shortening or vegan butter, melted

For the filling:

¾ cup coconut cream, divided
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
Pinch sea salt
6 ounces 100% cacao chocolate, such as Guittard, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon, optional  

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, and sea salt. Drizzle in the melted butter or shortening and vanilla extract. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  3. Press the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. 
  4. Place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

To make the filling:

  1. Bring ½ cup of the coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla, sea salt, and bourbon to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Remove from the heat. 
  2. Stir in the chocolate with a spatula and then allow to rest for 5 minutes. Stir again until the chocolate is melted.
  3. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of coconut cream to cool the mixture.
  4. Pour into the prepared tart shell and refrigerate until set, 2 to 3 hours.

Nutrition Information:
Hazelnut Bourbon Maple Chocolate Torte, 12 servings
Per slice: Calories 273, Fat 23, Protein 5, Carbohydrates 17 (Sugars 10), Fiber 4

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Date Caramel and Apples from The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Families

I am so excited to announce that my new book The Gluten Free Cookbook for Families is available for pre-order on Amazon and is the number one new release in gluten-free diet today! My amazing publisher has teamed up with the Beyond Celiac organization to bring one lucky winner a gift basket loaded with gluten-free treats and pantry staples.

Simply pre-order the book, and enter here for your chance to win. 

The winner will receive :
    Arrowhead Mill Coconut Flour
    Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Pasta
    Mia's Kitchen Gluten Free Garlic and Onion Pasta Sauce
    Imagine Organic Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth
    Annie's Creamy Deluxe Gluten Free Mac and Cheese
    Modern Oats Nuts and Seeds Oatmeal
    Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal
    Enjoy Life Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Jason's Gluten Free Bodywash

As many of you know, I have written more than a dozen books, but this one is especially close to my heart. Going gluten-free has made such a profound impact on my health and my kids' health and well-being. The book is brimming with stories and recipes for our family's favorite meals. Some recipes I'm especially excited about include Loaded Vegetarian Pizza (with a grain-free, paleo pizza crust!), Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Sauteed Zucchini, and the most authentic recipe for Shrimp Pad Thai you'll ever find. 

I'm also pretty smitten by this simple salted date caramel with sliced apples. It's naturally free from gluten and refined sugar and is a healthy snack my kids will devour when they come home from school. 

Date Caramel and Apple Slices
excerpted from The Gluten Free Cookbook for Families, by Pamela Ellgen

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Allergen-Free, Vegan, One Dish
Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus 15 minutes inactive time / Cook time: 0 minutes 

The first time I tasted date caramel, I was undone. It requires no cooking and no added sugars, and yet it’s sweet, syrupy, and exquisite drizzled over pancakes or used as a dip for apples. Store it in a sealable container for an energizing snack.  

½ cup pitted medjool dates
¼ to 1/3 cup hot water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into wedges 

1.     Cover the dates with hot water in a heat proof container, using as much as needed to cover. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
2.     Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Use an immersion blender to puree until very smooth.
3.     Serve the date caramel with the apple slices.  

Serving Tip: If you’re sending this in a school lunchbox, sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chewy Vegan Gluten-Free Brownies

Last night after a full day of surfing and our weekly family grill night, Rich said he was craving brownies. I love having a stocked pantry that allows me to whip up whatever sounds yummy at the moment. Good quality cocoa powder is a must. My favorite is Equal Exchange Baking Cocoa, which is fair trade and has such a profound impact on all of my baked goods. A baking cupboard full of gluten-free flours is helpful, too.

The foundation for this recipe came from my much loved (and smeared with lots of chocolate) copy of Babycakes by Erin McKenna. However, I changed the recipe substantially, skipping the applesauce, chocolate chips, and xanthan gum. I also used palm shortening instead of coconut oil and used brown sugar in place of white sugar because the complexity of brown sugar complements chocolate so beautifully, which I learned about 10 years ago from Nigella Lawson in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

These brownies are crispy on the edges and decadently chewy on the inside. We ate them straight out of the pan while they were still so hot they burned our mouths and crumbled everywhere. Hey, surfing burns a lot of calories. We were hungry! They are even better once they cool off a bit.

Yields 15 small squares 
1 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 cup brown sugar* or coconut palm sugar  
2 teaspoons double-acting, aluminum free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup palm shortening
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon powdered sugar* (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 6x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the palm shortening, vanilla extract, and hot water and stir until just combined. 
  4. Spread the mixture into the baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 27 minutes. The top will still be slightly jiggly. 
  5. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before sifting powdered sugar over the top, slicing and serving. 

*Note: If you are vegan, look for a vegan brown sugar and powdered sugar. Alternately, use coconut palm sugar and skip the powdered sugar.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick Preserved Lemons

California lemon season lasts from December to May, though lemons may remain on the tree all year here if they're not picked. They're delicious juiced, zested, infused in wine, and whipped into lemon meringue pies. But I find that only goes so far in really maximizing the lemon harvest. Enter, preserved lemons.

Preserved lemons have a bright, briny flavor and chewy texture. They can be used in risotto, lemon and artichoke pasta, chopped with parsley for an out-of-this-world gremolata, and to make a boss harissa. They also make a perfect easy DIY Christmas gift. 
Some recipes call for preserving lemons for several weeks. Although the flavor does improve over time, you can begin using the lemons in as few as five days after preserving them. Here is my recipe for quick preserved lemons, loosely based on a recipe in the cookbook Gjelina by Travis Lett. My version is much smaller and designed for home kitchens. 

Yield 1/2 pint 

1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 lemons, scrubbed
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red chili flake 

1. Toast the coriander and fennel seed in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the red chili flake and set aside. 

2. Cut the lemons into wedges lengthwise. 

3. Pour one tablespoon of salt and a generous pinch of the spices into a perfectly clean mason jar. Squeeze the juice from two of the lemon wedges into the jar and swirl gently. Stuff the lemon rinds down into the salt and juice. 

4. Top with another tablespoon of salt and a pinch of spices. Squeeze the juice from another two lemon quarters into the jar and then add the rinds. Repeat until the jar is full and the lemon rinds are fully submerged in juice, finishing with salt and spices. You may end up using all of the juice but not having room for two of the lemon rinds. 

5. Cover with a clean lid and place in a cool dark place for five days before using. Refrigerate after opening.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Grilled Ginger Sesame Portobello Mushrooms and Kale - Vegan and Paleo

I purchased portobello mushrooms a couple weeks ago to make mushroom napoleons with poached eggs and spinach. I wrapped them in a paper bag and put them in the refrigerator and then forgot about them completely. Fortunately, storing mushrooms in paper is the absolute best way to keep them fresh. So, although they were slightly wilted and dry, that only intensified their flavor.

Feel free to use crimini or button mushrooms, if that's what you have. Crimini mushrooms, also called baby bellas, are, as you might have guessed, simply immature portobello mushrooms.

Serves four for an appetizer (one for an entree) 

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
Pinch red chili flake 
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup 
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 4 portobello mushrooms
4 cups shredded kale
2 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias 

1. Combine the ginger, garlic, chili flake, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup in a glass jar. Drizzle the olive oil into the dressing, whisking constantly to emulsify.

2. Place them gill-side up and pour half of the dressing over them. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Pour the excess marinade from the mushrooms, shaking to remove any excess. Place them gill-side down on a preheated outdoor grill or grill pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Flip and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Remove the mushrooms from the grill and allow to rest for 2 minutes.

5. While the mushrooms are resting, toss the kale with half of the remaining dressing and arrange it on a serving platter.

6. Slice the mushrooms into thin pieces and place them atop the kale. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and top with green onions. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roasted Asparagus with Crisp Fried Peel

I have long appreciated the "nose to tail" way of thinking about cooking animals. It is so honoring to the life of the animal to raise it sustainably, harvest it humanely, and then use every potion, wasting little or none.

Now chefs are talking about a similarly beautiful concept, "root to stalk", which utilizes all edible portions of the plant in cooking. I first heard about it while reading the absolutely epic cookbook Manresa; An Edible Reflection, written by chef David Kinch of the Los Gatos restaurant Manresa.

I approached this spring's first bouquet of asparagus with this approach. Typically, I remove the woody ends of asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler and am left with a heap of thin but tough ribbons of the vegetable. This week, I tossed this pile in two batches into hot oil and fried it for about 90 seconds until crisp, drained it on a paper towel, and salted it. It provided a delightful textural contrast to the creamy first-harvest asparagus spears. I'm so excited to explore other root-to-stalk cooking methods.

serves 4

1 bunch asparagus
coconut oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
red wine vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  2. If the ends are dry, remove a small segment from each asparagus spear. Peel the bottom two inches of each spear with a vegetable peeler. 
  3. Place the asparagus on a large square of parchment paper. Drizzle with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the parchment to form a small package, also referred to as en papillote. Roast for 20 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat about 1/2-inch of coconut oil in a sauce pan. When it is very hot, fry the asparagus peels in two or three batches, being sure not to crowd the pan. Use tongs to remove each batch, setting it on a paper towel to drain. Season generously with salt. Repeat until all of the peels are cooked.
  5. When the asparagus has finished cooking set it on a serving platter and sprinkle with red wine vinegar. Top with the fried peel and serve immediately. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Paleo Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

Hello, darlings. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and if you're like me, you have no taste for cloying milk chocolate confections, never mind the roulette of trying to pick one from the box that isn't filled with orange cream.

You can of course purchase from an artisan chocolate maker, such as Moonstruck, a favorite in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Or you can make your own and choose only the flavors you love.

I opted for sea salt and cacao nib crusted and cinnamon-cayenne dusted truffles. The fillings are the same and are both paleo and vegan. They would be raw as well, but I use a roasted almond butter.

yields 2 dozen

1/2 cup roasted, salted almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cacao nibs
sea salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt

  1. Combine the filling ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a shallow dish in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally and chill until nearly set. The consistency should allow you to easily scoop and shape into balls.
  2. Remove the chocolate in one-teaspoon portions and use a pair of spoons to shape roughly into a ball. For the cacao nib and sea salt version, sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and then roll in the cacao nibs. 
  3. Alternately, combine the cinnamon, cocoa, cayenne, and sea salt in a shallow dish and roll the truffles to coat. 
  4. You may need to pause mid-way through the process and chill for another few minutes. 
  5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Protein and Greens Blueberry Paleo Breakfast Smoothie

I've been following a primal diet for over a year now, and can I just say, I'm still not tired of bacon and eggs! But, I'm not convinced that it's altogether healthy to eat the same thing every day. So, in the interest of mixing things up, and you know, actually eating some vegetables and fruit in the morning, I began whipping up this simple smoothie.

Unlike pure fruit smoothies, this one is rich in healthy fats from coconut oil and protein from almond butter and spinach. Bonus, it keeps me just as full until lunchtime as did my go-to two eggs and two slices of bacon. A pretty impressive feat, if you ask me, especially because it's not only paleo but also vegan!

See, we don't eat meat all the time.

serves 2 
1 ripe banana
1 orange, peeled
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 cups spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
  1. Place the banana and orange into the blender. 
  2. Melt the coconut oil in the warm water and add to the blender. 
  3. Top with spinach. Pulse a few times, but not until thoroughly combined. 
  4. Add the almond butter and blueberries and blend until smooth.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paleo Energy Bars

While some people choose the paleo diet for weight loss, many more choose the lifestyle for improved performance in sports and recreation. For the latter, getting enough calories from ancestral foods can be challenging. I mean, how many chicken thighs can you eat? Okay, don’t answer that one. The point is, nutrient and energy density are desirable when you’re expending a significant amount of calories in a CrossFit box, paddling out to the lineup, or wrestling with rambunctious kiddos.

Yesterday we took the boys up to Zuma to surf. The thing about surfing is that you don’t really feel like you’re exercising, but it burns through so much energy… especially if you spend more time paddling for waves than actually catching them.

Fortunately, I planned ahead and made these amazing paleo energy bars adapted from Dannielle Walker's Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great. By the way, this cookbook was instrumental in helping me transition to a grain and dairy free lifestyle. I highly recommend it.

The kids love these bars and they kept the hunger gremlins at bay until we got home and enjoyed salmon and kale salad for dinner.

Yields 12 bars
½ cup almond butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
½ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
3 ounces roughly chopped dark chocolate, 80 percent cacao preferred

1. In a small saucepan, bring the almond butter, maple syrup, salt, and coconut oil to a gentle simmer. Stir until well combined. Remove from the heat.
2. Combine the nuts and raisins in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is roughly chopped and thoroughly integrated. Add the shredded coconut and pulse one or two more times.
3. Dump the nut and raisin mixture into a mixing bowl. Pour in the sweetened almond butter and stir to combine.
4. Add the chocolate pieces and stir just to combine. The residual heat of the almond butter mixture will slightly melt the chocolate, but should leave some pieces intact.

5. Dump the mixture into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Use another sheet of parchment to press down on the mixture.
6. Place it into the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and slice into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes with Barbecued Tempeh

I've come to the conclusion that you can put any good sauce in a chef squirt bottle and drizzle it across your plate to elevate even the humblest vegetable to haute cuisine. And does it get any more comfortingly humble than fried green tomatoes and barbecue sauce? I don't think so.

If the presentation weren't enough, the textures and flavors of this dish are amazing. The tangy, crunchy, cole slaw perfectly offsets the creamy heat of the tempeh and the juicy sweetness of the fried green tomatoes. Oh, and of course, it's vegan.

serves two

Cole Slaw
inspired by a recipe in Tyler's Ultimate 
1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 red onion, sliced in rings
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the prepared fruit and vegetables no more than half an hour before serving.

Fried Green Tomatoes
1 large green heirloom tomato
1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
1 flax egg
1/4 cup cornmeal
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet.

Core then slice the tomato into four equal pieces. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dredge in the flour, then the flax egg, then the cornmeal. Place each slice in the hot oil. Cover the pan with a frying screen if you have one. Cook on each side for about two minutes, or until a lovely brown crust forms. Remove to a paper towel.

Barbecued Tempeh
1 package tempeh
1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce
olive oil

Slice the tempeh as you wish. I like to cut it in half horizontally, then into triangles for a total of four thin pieces. Heat the oil in a separate non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Sear the tofu on each side for about two to three minutes, or until a crust forms. Add the barbecue sauce to the pan and allow it to cook briefly on very low heat or the residual heat from an electric stove top. Do not allow it to burn.

To serve, drizzle barbecue sauce across the plate then stack the tempeh and fried green tomatoes. Top with cole slaw and serve immediately.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Simple Lentil, Mint and Nectarine Salad

I'm now working full time as a freelance writer on health, fitness and nutrition. Go figure, I'm blogging less now than ever. Nevertheless, the job is ideal and allows me to both dust off my ambitions and help my oldest with his homework and play with my youngest between his naps. I am blessed.

In between marathon writing sessions in my home office evaluating the benefits of yoga versus aerobic exercise or the latest research on this or that nutrition advice, I enjoy frequent trips to the kitchen for a fresh cup of coffee or a quick lunch. 

This is the easiest, most delectable entree salad I've ever had. I wish I could say it came to be of much contemplation and trial. But I have no time for either. It was just one of those meals that came dancing out of my refrigerator from the ingredients on hand. I suggest it for lunch or a side dish for dinner, especially a late-summer picnic dinner. 

serves 2 entrees (or 4 side portions)

2 cups cooked, cooled lentils
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
2 ripe nectarines, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
juice of 1 lime
sea salt
ground black pepper 

Toss the first five ingredients together then season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa with Orange Basil Vinaigrette and Pepitas

With only pennies remaining in our savings account, I decided to revisit The Veganomics Project, a venture I began while living in Europe to save money on groceries by eating a plant-based diet. The exchange rate crippled my plan, which made its chief ambition to spend only $50 a week to feed our family of four. But as we're back in the United States, I'm back in business.

This week, I'm trying all new recipes. It makes cooking and eating vegan so much more fun. Last night we kicked off the week with a recipe borrowed--and modified beyond recognition--from one of my favorite local restaurants, Windsor. Its Mixed Grain Salad combines black quinoa, kamut, and pearled barley with roasted vegetables, baby beets, currants, and fresh salad greens all tossed in an orange basil vinaigrette, topped with goat cheese and served with warm pita bread. It's a masterpiece.

My adaptation is gluten-free, vegan, and produces one sink-full fewer dishes than the original. But, it's still a masterpiece. Savory roasted vegetables sit atop a bed of greens and pillowy quinoa, perfectly offset by the delicate crunch of pepitas and sweet currants. It's a perfect summer dish because you can prepare many of the ingredients ahead of time and enjoy the dish cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Serves four 

Roasted Vegetables
2 zucchini, julienned
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup currants (raisins are acceptable)
¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade

Orange Basil Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one orange
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 Serrano pepper, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 head red lettuce, rinsed, dried and roughly chopped   
¼ cup pepitas 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the roasted vegetables, toss the zucchini, carrots, and grape tomatoes with olive oil in a 9x13 glass pan. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss with the currants and fresh basil. Set aside.

While the vegetables are cooking, cook the quinoa in a 1 1/2 cups salted water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients, using as much or as little Serrano pepper as you desire. About 1/4 of the pepper will produce a very mild and agreeable heat. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

To serve, toss the quinoa with half of the orange vinaigrette. Toss the lettuce with the remaining dressing. Plate the lettuce first. Top with quinoa and roasted vegetables. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of pepitas.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Espinacas con Garbanzos

There is no such thing as too much smoked paprika. You either agree with me or you haven't tasted it. Or you're doing it wrong; like my friend Kyle says, "The last time I smoked paprika, I tried to eat some guy's face." 

A far better application for this quintessential Spanish spice is in the vegan classic espinacas con garbanzos.  Translated: spinach and garbanzo beans. It sounds so much more exotic in Spanish, doesn't it? It combines smoked paprika with two other classic elements of the regional cuisine: red wine vinegar and cumin. 

We eat espinacas con garbanzos here almost weekly over a bed of quinoa and with a glass of Rioja or Tempranillo. It's simple, vegan comfort food, so good you won't be hungry for flesh at all. 

serves 2-4 

extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches fresh spinach, thoroughly rinsed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red chili flake 
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
2 plum tomatoes, diced 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 cups cooked quinoa 

Heat a two-count of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cover the pan with a lid, stirring infrequently until the greens are wilted. 

Add the chickpeas, vinegar, and spices and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat. Toss in the plum tomatoes and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Serve over quinoa. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Watermelon and Serrano Gazpacho

Finally we're settled in the United States again in the sweltering Arizona desert. On our way out of London, we enjoyed one last dinner out at a small French brasserie in Kensington where we both huddled under an awning in sweaters while the rain fell sideways, speckling our table with English summer. Thus, like a huge block of ice, we're thawing slowly, melting into a puddle in the blazing sun.
But we couldn't be happier.

As of Thursday, we have a dining room table and chairs, a couch, and an oven that works. I can't tell you how excited I am to cook and entertain again. So excited, in fact, that we've had dinner guests every night since. Last night, our friends Anna and David joined us. It was the first time all four of our kids played together. It's good to be home. 

Last night we celebrated the summer with grilled salmon and this amazing raw, vegan watermelon and serrano gazpacho, for which I can take absolutely no credit. Tyler Florence is the one chef who I can follow blindly and have every recipe turn out perfectly. He is a genius. I think you'll agree when you taste this cold soup that marries the traditional gazpacho ingredients of cucumber, tomato, and red wine vinegar with the surprising complexity of Serrano chili, dill, and fresh watermelon. 

3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
3 cups ripe tomatoes, cubed
1/2 Serrano pepper (or more if you like it hot)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 tablespoons dill, minced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh dill for serving
Puree the watermelon, tomatoes, and chili in a blender until smooth. Add the olive oil and vinegar while the blender is still running.
Add the onion, dill, and cucumber and pulse once or twice, just until evenly distributed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with a sprig of dill. Serve immediately or chill before serving.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

No other dessert on earth has power over me the way chocolate chip cookies do. It's an ungodly, unbridled, unrestrained passion. I cannot have then in the house without mowing through them in a matter of days.

All that changed when I went gluten-free over a year ago. Being vegan--at least for the now--further complicates my obsession.

Until now.

The forthcoming recipe is similar in flavor to the amazing cookies in my cookbook, Modern Family Table, but of course contain no wheat, butter or eggs. They're perfectly chewy and densely decadent, everything you want in a chocolate chip cookie, and nothing you don't!

yields 24 cookies

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar (make sure it's labeled suitable for vegans)
2 1/4 cups self-rising gluten-free flour blend*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup neutral oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips**

*I use a variety milled by Dove's Farm here in the UK. It is a combination of rice, potato, tapioca, buckwheat and maize and also contains xanthan gum and baking powder. Because it's not a finicky bread or pastry dough, I suspect you could experiment with relative ease
**You don't have to purchase chocolate chips that are specifically labeled vegan. Instead, just find a semi-sweet chocolate chip that contains no milk fat. I used Baker's in these. My favorite in the US is Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet chips.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the dry ingredients (in this recipe, sugar is considered a dry ingredient). Add the oil applesauce and vanilla and stir until combined.

Form into one inch balls and flatten with your hands to help them spread. They will be nearly the exact same shape when they come out of the oven because the oil is already at melting point at room temperature and therefore will not further melt the way butter or shortening does.

Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking tray halfway through cooking. Remove to a cooling rack. They taste lovely as soon as they've cooled but are out of this world a few hours later.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lemon and Garlic Roasted Eggplant

I just excused myself from the room so Rich would not see me crying. Today I received the book Forks over Knives; The Plant Based Way to Health and began reading while I enjoyed a dinner of tapas-style spinach and chickpeas over quinoa. I had never considered myself an advocate for animal welfare. My interests in veganism were purely self centered: to look better, feel better, save money and avoid the chronic disease that is the consequence of the standard American diet. 

That all changed about ten minutes ago when I turned to the chapter Good for Animals. A mere six pages, it provided me with just enough information to reconsider my dinner plate forever. Unlike the movie by the same title or the many other documentaries chronicling the horrors of the meat industry, the book provides no gruesome images. I'm reminded of the anti-abortion posters with arresting graphics designed to convince young mothers not to kill their unborn children. 

Images are powerful. 

But tonight the words were enough. 

We often hear about the mistreatment of calves raised for veal, but really, who eats veal? Not me. I'm more into the gateway meats, fish and chicken. I had convinced myself that fish are only kind of animals (Don't ask me how I managed to hold that belief; I taught myself biology.) Kind of animals don't have feelings or nervous systems or, well, I guess I just didn't want to think about it. It's easier that way isn't it? To not think about where our food comes from?

Just because it's easy, doesn't mean it's right. 

The book describes the problem with fish, "Those who make it to the ship's deck alive are left to suffocate or are cut open. Purse-seine nets are used to catch large fish such as tuna, cod, and haddock, who are fully conscious when their gills are slit and their bodies disemboweled... And the story is worse for farmed fish." 

It's so much easier to just plug my ears and shout, "LA LA LA LA!" 

But just because it's easy, doesn't mean it's right... 

So there's no easy way to transition to the food, but thank goodness it's yummy and vegan. 

Lemon and Garlic Roasted Eggplant
adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

serves four-six

zest of one lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
generous pinch sea salt and granulated sugar 
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggplants, sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Toss the eggplant slices to coat, adding more olive oil if necessary. Nothing soaks up oil like eggplant does.

Arrange the eggplant in a single layer on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes until browned and bubbling.  
Remove to a serving platter and douse with the red wine vinegar. Serve alone or with bread as a delightful appetizer. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Veganomics: Week 2

So here we are, at the end of the first week of eating vegan. Though not the intent of the project, I have lost a pound and about three percent body fat. (I'm not complaining.) The real goal of the experiment was to force myself to readjust to a plant-based diet. I used to think that we had a plant-based diet, but the truth is, the main part of the main dish at the main meal of every day came from an animal. Fish. Chicken. Eggs. Cheese.

What's wrong with that? Nothing. It's just that I'm starting to look my age. I'm starting to wish we spent less on groceries. And I'm starting to realize--no, starting to do something about--the fact that industrial animal farming is bad for everyone and everything. Except maybe livestock futures traders.

Thus, I'm embarking on another vegan week. This time with more enthusiasm. Tonight during my yoga class I felt this sense of peace--which, by the way, is totally irrelevant of my circumstances at the moment--a sense of oneness and steadfastness of strength and being. It was a cool feeling.

I created another menu and went shopping yesterday. Thanks to a few frequent-shopper points at Sainsbury's, I finished the grocery shopping for the week for our family of four at $33.05. Yes, you read that right. And we have guests coming over two nights this week. Tonight we enjoyed a Mexican tortilla soup with smoked paprika, fresh cilantro, black beans and avocado. Perfect on this bleary spring evening.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Veganomics: Day 6

My week got better by a factor of about 100 when I received this package in the mail from my friends Cameron and Kim Howell. The cookies are the most delicious, soft, moist, pillowy, did I mention delicious, gluten-free, vegan treats on earth. I miss them. Both our friends--"the Owls" as Brad calls them--and these  snickerdoodles from Trader Joes.

My vegan week is winding to a close. But I'm not dying for meat. Actually--and I never thought I'd say this--it sounds kinda gross right now. Truth is, I'm thrilled with the results of this week. There's more money in my bank account and more food in my fridge than there usually is at this time of the month. It's a beautiful thing. 

Speaking of beauty, when I woke up this morning, I noticed a glow to my skin. I've been looking for it, hoping that all I needed was one green smoothie or a few glasses of water to tap into that fountain of youth. But, after less than a week of eating vegan, I'm noticing a difference in how I look. 

If this isn't killing two birds with one stone, I don't know what is. I save money on food and the beauty treatments that keep my fellow thirty-somethings looking youthful over the next decade. It makes the cheap girl inside of me dance a little jig. 

Tonight I made this amazing Spanish tapas, espinacas con garbanzos from one of my favorite food bloggers, Smitten Kitchen. Check out the recipe here:  Spinach and Chickpeas

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Raw, Vegan, Just-Like-Lara Bars

I am enjoying my week of living vegan and astonished at how much food we still have in our refrigerator, how few extra trips I've needed to take to the grocery store--none actually--and how great I feel. I thought I would be hungry all the time or shrivel up and die without animal protein. Perhaps that comes later? 

For now, I'm just savoring all of the new things I'm coming up with in the kitchen, especially these orange chocolate bars. They're the closest thing to Lara bars I've ever found outside of, well, an actual Lara bar. Simple. Cost effective. Vegan. What's not to love? 

Yields four four-ounce bars

1 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (regular unsweetened cocoa powder is fine too if you don't care whether they're 100 percent raw)
3/4 cup fresh dates, pitted
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 teaspoon natural orange flavoring 

Pulse the walnuts, sea salt and cacao in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand. This is entirely a matter of preference. As you can see from my photo above, I left the mixture fairly chunky. 

Add the dates, raisins and orange flavoring and pulse until well combined. 

Remove the "dough" onto a cutting board and flatten into a square. Slice into four or five rectangular pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for a month. 

Raw, Vegan Chocolate Truffles 

Yields 20 truffles 

If you're feeling fancy, cut each bar into five pieces and roll in additional cacao powder. The trick with these is to make sure you pulse the walnuts to a very fine crumb and blend in the dates very well. I ate about four of these last night on my way to yoga class and felt so guilty until I remembered there wasn't a pat of butter or cube of sugar in sight. Sweet bliss!

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