Monday, October 20, 2014

Vegan Purple Potato Quinoa Cakes with Maple Brussels Sprouts, Sage Walnut Pesto and Crispy Shallots

This recipe is so PERFECT for a dinner party. Especially if you want to impress someone. It feels like eating a fancy dish from a restaurant. There are a lot of different components, but each one is so easy! And the best part is that everything can be made ahead. Just reheat the brussels sprouts before and sear the quinoa cakes right before serving. 

For the Purple Potato Quinoa Mash

4 to 6 small purple potatoes
1 medium sized red beet, steamed and peeled 
3 tablespoons Trader Joe's vegan cream cheese
1 tablespoons olive oil 
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Steam purple potatoes for 15 to 25 minutes  fork tender, depending on size. Let cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes. Mash potatoes, vegan cream cheese and red beet together. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion till soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook just a minute or so. Add quinoa and sauté for another minute. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and let sit another 5 minutes.

Combine quinoa and purple potato mixture. Form into patties, whatever size you would like! Makes about 8 three inch patties. Set aside. 

In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium night heat. Said the patties on each side till golden brown and crispy. About 4 minutes each side. 

For the Maple Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 glove garlic
2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1 tablespoon gluten free low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water  

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallots and cook till soft. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for 8 to 10 minutes till nicely browned on the edges. Combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, and water. Add the the brussels sprouts. Cover and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, till liquid is absorbed and slightly thickened. 

Fried Shallots

3 medium sized shallots
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
Oil for frying 

Heat oil to about 350 degrees. 

Thinly slice the shallots and toss with the flour. Shake off excess flour. Fry the shallots till golden brown, only a minute or 2!

Basic Hummus 

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender.

Sage Walnut Pesto

1 cup loosely packed basil 
1/4 cup loosely packed sage 
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender till smooth. (Can be left slightly chunky if you prefer!)

To assemble, spread a couple of tablespoons of hummus on the plate. Add some brussel sprouts. Place potato quinoa pastor on top. Top with more brussels sprouts and fried shallots. Drizzle with pesto. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Pumpkin Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

It stays pretty warm all through October and even into November here in California. But the Autumn spirit is still in the air. And these ice cream sandwiches are the perfect solution to this conundrum. Creamy pumpkin spiced cashew ice cream between chocolatey hazelnut cookies are super easy to make. I made these mini sized, about and inch and a half wide. They were so fun to eat!!

 Pumpkin Vanilla Ice Cream

You can either make your ice cream or buy it. I used my cashew vanilla ice cream recipe but omitted the chocolate chips. Add in about 1/4 cup organic pureed pumpkin and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice. If you are short on time, you can just buy the ice cream! I rarely see any flavors other than chocolate and vanilla when it comes to store bought almond or nut-based ice creams. But you can easily transform store bought vanilla into pumpkin spice by adding in the pureed pumpkin and spices on your own.

Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish. Line with parchment paper. Smooth your pumpkin ice cream into an even 1 inch layer. Refreeze till completely firm, at least an hour. With a round cookie cutter roughly the same size as your cookies, cut out rounds from your block of ice cream. Place the rounds on a parchment lined tray and keep in the freezer until ready to build your sandwich cookies.


 Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
(makes about 40 cookies, or 20 ice cream sandwiches, depending on size)

For the cookies, I veganized this chocolate hazelnut cookie recipe.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon finely ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
 1/2 cup vegan chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Justin's brand)
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup turbinado sugar to coat the cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine ground flax seeds, water, and vanilla.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combing chocolate hazelnut spread, Earth balance, sugar and brown sugar. Mix on medium speed about 3 minutes till creamy. Add in flax seed and mix to combine. Slowly add the flour and baking soda and mix just until smooth dough forms.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in turbinado sugar to coat. Set on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes. Remove from oven. With the bottom on a jar or a any flat surface, gently flatten each cookie. Return to oven and cook for 4 more minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

To assemble, place 1 pumpkin ice cream round between 2 chocolate hazelnut cookies and press gently. Eat right away or store in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap or parchment paper.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Frozen Birthday Cake

I had so much fun making this Frozen cake! Especially sculpting little Olaf. The cake is a basic chocolate cake with vanilla butter cream. Everything is made from fondant aside from Elsa and Anna which are card stock cut outs. I took inspiration from this paper ice castle tutorial to come up with my edible version. Olaf is made out of fondant. 1 toothpick for support and angle hair pasta for arms.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Vegan Caramel Apples with Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

Almost 2 weeks into October and it is just now beginning to feel like fall around here. And one of my favorite fall time traditions is apple picking in Oak Glen with my mom and sister. Now, what to do with this abundance of apples? I say, drench 'em in caramel and chocolate! I used the apples from Oak Glen which are much smaller than regular store bought. This recipe makes enough caramel to double coat about 8 regular large granny smith apples.

The first thing you need to do is prep your apples. Wash and remove any waxy layer from the apples (of store bought). The wax will prevent the caramel from sticking. Remove apple stems and replace with your stick of choice. Twigs, skewers, popsicle sticks, chopsticks. You can pretty much use anything you've got handy.

Have a parchment lined tray ready to place the dipped apples on.

For the Vegan Caramel

1 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
2 cups organic cane sugar
2 cups soy or almond milk
1 cup organic corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all ingredients except for the vanilla. Stir to combine and set over medium high heat. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium low. Cook until temperature reads 245 degrees on a candy thermometer. You can also check the old fashioned way. After about 10 minutes, drop a bit of the caramel into ice cold water. It should be soft enough to chew but firm enough to form a ball and keep its shape. Once you reach this point, remove from heat and add the vanilla extract.

Transfer caramel to a large glass measuring cup. Let sit for about 3 minutes to cool slightly.

Carefully dip each apple in to the caramel and place on parchment. Let sit for a few minutes and dip again. Let sit for about 20 minutes.

For the Chocolate

1/2 cup dark chocolate
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios

Microwave the dark chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate is melted. Add the coconut oil. Dip 1/2 of each caramel apple into the dark chocolate. Sprinkle the chocolate with chopped pistachios. Set on parchment to firm up completely.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last of the Summer Fruit Pie (vegan)

A rustic, free form pie filled with the last of our frozen summer fruits. Nectarines, peaches, strawberries and blackberries. Best served warm, with vegan vanilla ice cream!! This is the perfect dessert to begin the transition from summer into fall.

For the Vegan Pie Crust

The most important thing to know about making good pie crust is making sure everything is chilled very well! The flour, the butter, heck I even chill the food processor blade if I've got the time. This helps to ensure that the butter is broken down into tiny little bits instead of fully combining into a smooth paste. When the pastry is baked, the tiny bits of butter melt and steam, causing air pockets throughout the dough, hence the flakiness. So, cold is key!! 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Earth Balance vegan butter (chilled very well)
2-3 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and earth balance. Pulse 15 to 20 times, just until the butter and flour resemble a sand like texture. Add water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between. Add just enough water so that when squeezed in the palm of your hand, the dough sticks together. It should look just a touch too dry.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better.

For the Pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3 cups chopped fruit (can be any combination; nectarines, peaches, blackberries, strawberries, etc.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruits you are using)
1/3 cup flour

Combine fruits, sugar and flour.

Once chilled, roll dough into a rectangle-ish shape. It really doesn't matter as this is a free form pie. A circle tastes and looks just as good. The dough should be about 1/4 cm thick. Transfer dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Pile the fruit mixture into the center of the dough. Gently fold up the sides around the fruit. Brush with vegan milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Let cook at least 30 minutes.

Serve with vegan vanilla ice cream or vegan whipped cream!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sofia the First Cake

Sofia the First themed birthday cake I did a little while back!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vegan Black Bean S'mores Brownies

Brownies and s'mores are two things I never really thought I would get to enjoy on a vegan diet. But I was thankfully very wrong!! This recipe combines both into one delicious dessert.

Black beans are the main component in the brownie mixture, which may seem odd. But in fact, the black beans have a very mild flavor that lends really well to the rich cocoa powder. The black beans and ground flax seeds are what make it possible for this brownie to be flour and egg free.

The brownies are baked and then topped with vegan marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate.  

Black Bean S'mores Brownies (adapted from The Minimalist Baker)
(Makes 12)

2.5 tablespoons finely ground flax seeds (a coffee grinder works well)
6 tablespoons water
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed very well and drained
3 tablespoons oil (coconut, melted earth balance, vegetable)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies Air Puffed from Whole Foods)
Vegan gluten free graham crackers (again, from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup vegan dark or semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Combine ground flax and water in a food processor. Let sit for about 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken. Add the well rinsed and drained black beans and oil. Blend until very smooth.

Add remaining ingredients and blend till just combined.

Grease a 12-muffin tray. Divide batter evenly among the tray. Bake for 25 minutes. The brownies will be soft in the center and slightly crisp around the edges. Let cool completely before removing from the tray. 

Top each brownie with the marshmallows. Using a small kitchen torch, lightly toast the marshmallows. Sprinkle on finely crushed graham crackers.

Place chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments until melted. Drizzle over the toasted marshmallow.