Monday, December 1, 2014

Vegan Minestrone Soup

A hearty vegan minestrone soup with pasta, kale, spinach, oven roasted tomatoes, and three different kinds of beans.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups oven roasted tomatoes, crushed (375 degrees F. 20 to 25 minutes)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 cup fresh kale, chopped
1 15-ounce can of beans, rinsed and drained (I used a tri-blend) 
1 cup pasta
2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute carrots, celery, and onion till soft and lightly golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add in garlic, bay leaf, and oregano. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, vegetable broth, and potatoes. Cover and simmer on low for 1 to 4 hours. 30 minutes before serving, add in spinach, kale, beans, and pasta. Cover and simmer till pasta is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, you may want to add in the maple syrup. And if you like a little heat, add in the hot sauce!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vegan Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies with Cranberry Whipped Cream

For the Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cheescake:
16 ounces Trader Joe's vegan cream cheese
3 ounces organic non-GMO extra firm tofu
1/3 cup organic sugar 
8 ounces pumpkin purée
8 ounces mashed sweet potato
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon each of clove, allspice, nutmeg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk 
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Dash of salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and 8x2 inch square baking dish. Place a 7.5 inch wide by 14 inch long piece of parchment paper into the greased dish so it covers just the bottom and overlaps over 2 sides. This will help you remove it from the pan really easily. In a blender of food processor, combine all ingredients and blend well until smooth and creamy. Pour and smooth out into prepared dish, reserving 1/2 cup of the pumpkin mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the brownie batter. 

For the Brownie
2 heaping tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons water
3 ounces vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup hot coffee or espresso
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) Earth Balance butter, melted
3/4 cup organic sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reserved pumpkin mixture

Combine flax seeds and water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate chips and let sit a minute. Stir to combine. Add melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and flax mixture. Mix. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, cocoa powder, and flour. Add flour mixture and reserved pumpkin mixture to chocolate butter mixture and mix just until combined. 

Remove pumpkin layer from the oven. At his point it will still be pretty soft. So very carefully spoon the brownie mixture on top, dropping small amounts all over and then smoothing out to cover. Return to oven and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, till brownie is set. Let cool, and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Using the overlapping parchment paper, carefully lift out the pumpkin cheesecake brownies and set on a baking sheet. Place another baking sheet or small cutting board on top and carefully flip over so that the pumpkin is on top and brownie is on the bottom. Slice into squares. 

Cranberry Whipped Coconut Cream
1/4 cup whole cranberries 
1 tablespoon orange juice 
1 teaspoon sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/4 cup powdered sugar  

In a small pan, combine cranberries, orange juice, and sugar. Cook over medium low heat until cranberries cook down and a sauce forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Separate the solid coconut fat from the top of the can. You should be left with a little bit of clear coconut water at the bottom. I tested out all be different brands from my store as to which one works best. Some don't firm or separate at all. So find which brand works for you! In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the solid coconut, powdered sugar, vanilla and cranberry sauce. Mix till fluffy.

For the garnish, I baked up some little leaves made out of simple pie crust. Place 3/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 4 tablespoons cold Earth Balance in food processor. Pulse about 20 times. Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water. Mix till dough forms. Roll out onto floured surface. Cut out desired shapes. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, till golden. 

To serve, top each square with a little cranberry whipped cream and garnish with pie crust leaves. I added some pomegranate seeds around the plate for color. 

Vegan Pizza

Vegan Pizza with purple potatoes, crispy sage, brown butter spinach, and coconut milk mozzarella cheese drizzled with basil cashew cream and garlic cashew cream.

For the dough: Combine 3/4 cup warm water, 1 packet active dry yeast, and 2 teaspoons raw sugar. Let sit 5 minutes. In a food processor or stand mixer fitted with bread attachment, combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. Split dough into 4 and roll into balls. Cover and let rest another 30 minutes. On lightly floured surface, press, roll and shape dough balls into desired shape and thickness. Preheat over to 500 degrees F. Top with desired toppings and bake on sheet pan lined with a Silpat, parchment, or lightly dust your sheet pan with organic corn meal. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 

For the toppings, I first layered on some organic tomato sauce. I cooked fresh sage leaves in some Earth Balance till lightly browned and crispy. Then I sautéed some spinach in the same pan with the sage infused browned Earth Balance. I also added sliced steamed purple potatoes, coconut milk mozzarella cheese, basil cashew cream, and garlic cashew cream. (Soaked cashews blended up with a little almond milk, fresh basil, and garlic) 

For the coconut milk mozzarella, you will need 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk, 1 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons agar agar (powder or flakes), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon tapioca starch, 1 teaspoon corn starch

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, bring the coconut milk to a simmer. Peel and smash the garlic clove. Place the garlic clove in the coconut milk and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove garlic clove and discard. Add agar agar, whisking constantly, and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, lemon juice, tapioca starch and corn starch. Continue whisking over medium low heat for another 3 minutes. Pour mixture into a well oil container of your choice, keeping in mind if you want your cheese to be in a certain shape. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm. Thinly slice the mozzarella.

Vegan Tom Kha Thahu

Coconut lemongrass soup with shitake mushrooms and tofu. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 whole stalk of lemongrass, 1/2 inch slices 
1 3-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Sriracha or chili oil
32 ounces vegetable broth
1/2 an onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms of your choice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice 
2 13-oz cans full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup cubed organic firm tofu 
Soy sauce and Sriracha to taste
Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish 

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add in lemongrass and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes to bring out the aromatic flavors. Add in Sriracha or chili oil and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. If you have more time, let it go longer! Strain out the lemongrass and ginger, reserving liquid. In another sauté pan, sauté chopped onion and about sliced mushrooms. I used golden oak shitake mushrooms. Add in chopped garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with fresh lime juice and the reserved lemongrass broth. Add in coconut milk and cubes of organic tofu. Season with more Sriracha and soy sauce to taste. Once you add in the coconut milk, be careful not to over heat as this may cause separation. But if this does happen, fear not. All you have to do to save your soup is add in more coconut milk! To serve, I like to add in some fresh slices of ginger, lemongrass, and lime wedges to bring out a nice freshness. Top with cilantro and enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vegan Orange Pistachio Cake with Spiced Pomegranate Cabernet Poached Pear and Coconut Whipped Cream

I love simple. Give me a brownie or a cookie any day and I am a happy happy vegan. But every once in a while, the occasion calls for something a little more fancy. With the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to come up with a dessert chock full of rustic seasonal flavors that would be delicious as well as beautiful. When I was a teenager first starting to realize my passion for cooking, I would watch Food Channel constantly. And one of the first dishes I ever proudly presented to my family was Micheal Chiarello's wine poached pears.  To this day, I remember that dish and how special it seemed to me.

In my vegan version, I added a pistachio orange pound cake and coconut whipped cream. I made a pistachio pomegranate brittle for garnish and mixed the remaining caramel with a bit of the reduced wine poaching liquid for drizzling.

For the Pears

6 pears
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup red wine (I used a vegan cabernet)
1/4 cup raw sugar
Juice from 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves

Peel the pears, careful to keep stem in tact. This is simply for looks so its okay if you do loose a stem. From the bottom, core the pear and remove the seeds. I used a combination of an apple corer, a knife and a small spoon. Cut a thin slice off the bottom so the pears sit evenly. 

In a small to medium sized saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, wine, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn down heat to simmer. Place pears into wine mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let pears sit in the liquid for about 2 hours. Turn occasionally to ensure even poaching if the pears aren't fully submerged. Remove pears from liquid and set aside.

Bring the poaching liquid to a boil and reduce in half. Set aside for the caramel sauce and let cool.

For the Brittle and Wine Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon organic corn syrup
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup almond milk 
2 tablespoons reduced wine poaching liquid

In a small saucepan, combine all ingrediets. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until mixture starts to turn an amber color. Do not stir, but rather swirl the pan in small circles to mix. Remove from heat when the caramel reaches a deep amber color. Let cool for a few minutes. 

Using only 1/4 of the caramel, spread and drizzle the caramel into interesting shapes onto a silpat. Sprinkle on the pomegranate and pistachios. Drizzle with more caramel. When cooled, break into desired shapes.

To remaining warm caramel, add in the almond milk. Whisk to combine. Add in the reduced wine liquid. Let cool.

For the Orange Pistachio Pound Cake

I used this amazing pound cake recipe as the base. Thanks to Vegan Richa for this perfect recipe.

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp almond milk
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp ground raw sugar or other fine sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Juice from 1 whole orange

3 Tbsp coconut oil
6 Tbsp flour (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
1/2 cup almond milk

3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup medium ground roasted pistachios
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Zest from 1 whole orange

In a bowl, mix the ground flax seeds and almond milk, let sit for a minute. Then add the salt, vanilla, vinegar, sugar, coconut oil, and orange juice. Mix until well combined.

In another bowl, combine flour, ground pistachios, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and orange zest. Set aside.

For the roux, in a small pan, heat  coconut oil on medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Take the pan off heat and add a little bit of the almond milk. Whisk in and add the rest of the almond milk. Mix and put back on low-medium heat. Mix until a thick roux is formed and the it leaves the pan. 

Let the roux cool for a minute then mix into the wet mixture. Mix until well combined.

Combine the wet and dry. Drop batter into a greased and flour 8 inch square baking dish. Spread out with well oil hands.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes. 

Cool completely. I used a 3 inch round biscuit cutter to cut circles from the cake. But you can do squares and eliminate any scraps this way. Although, eating the scraps is half the fun!!

For the Coconut Whipped Cream

2 cans full fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons powdered sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Refridgerate cans of coconut milk overnight. When you open your cans, there should be a fairly thick layer of solidified coconut cream on the top that you can scoop out before you reach the clear coconut water on the bottom. Every brand is different here. I had 2 different brands and one had a 4 inch thick layer of coconut cream to scoop out where as the other one had maybe an inch. But get as much as you can out. Keep very cold until ready to use. Mix with the whisk attachment in a standing mixer. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until creamy and fluffy. Place into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. 

To Assemble 

Start with a piece of the pound cake on a plate. Pipe the coconut whipped cream onto the top of the cake. Also using the piping bag, fill the poached pear with coconut whipped cream. Place pear right on top of the cake. Add some more coconut cream around the plate. Drizzle with the wine caramel sauce and top with brittle. Get creative here!! Do whatever you think looks awesome.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Vegan Doughnuts!

Vegan doughnuts, colored with all natural ingredients! Matcha, blackberries, raspberries, and purple potatoes!

Makes 12 to 20, depending on size.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup non dairy milk, warm,  
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 "Vegg" egg yolks*
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons softened Earth Balance vegan butter
Vegetable oil for frying
Combine the yeast, milk, and 1/2 cup of the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. 

In a medium bowl, combine vanilla, "Vegg" egg yolks, and sugar. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on low till combine. Switch to bread hook and add in remaining flour. Mix on medium heat until the dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Push down dough to remove air. Cover and let sit another 30 minutes.

Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut desired sized rounds. Using a smaller round cutter, cut out your doughnut holes. Cover and let sit another 10 minutes to rest. Heat your oil to 360 degrees F. Fry each doughnut till lightly golden brown and drain on paper towels. Let cool!

For the icing base, combine, 1/4 cup softened Earth Balance with 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 to 5 tablespoons non dairy milk, and vanilla extract.

For the different colors, I separated out little bowls of the white icing and went to town with different colors. I used matcha, blackberry juice (from a bag of thawed frozen blackberries) , raspberry juice (frozen, thawed), and purple potatoes!! (Steamed, peeled, and blended with icing in my Vitamix)  I topped the doughnuts with pistachios, sprinkles, crushed organic vegan chocolate cookies, and shaved coconut.

Dip each doughnut into some icing, drizzle with a different color, or top with a fun topping!  

*The Vegg is an egg substitute you can buy online and in some vegan/health markets. If you can't get your hands on this product, this recipe would also work by substituting a vegan yogurt, a little veganaise, etc. Or a mixture of the two. About 1/4 cup total.

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Banana Shake

Blend together 2 frozen bananas, 1/4 cup soaked cashews, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3/4 cup coconut milk, 2 dates and a handful of ice cubes! Simple as that! Makes about 2 servings.