Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Raw for Dessert

I would say my diet is about 50 percent raw, and during the summer it was quite a bit higher than that. I thought maybe I was enjoying more raw foods because I was tired of cooking, but thankfully that’s not the case. Actually, raw food is just good food. Fresh, unprocessed, naturally delicious food.

I was delighted to be asked to review Jennifer Cornbleet’s newest cookbook, Raw for Dessert. As much as I would have loved to have made any of the delicious looking pies or ice creams, I was limited to desserts that didn’t require the use of a blender. (By the way, I appreciate all of your input regarding my broken blender. I finally decided to contact KitchenAid, and it turns out the part that needs replacing only costs $6. It just arrived in the mail today!)

While browsing through the Raw for Dessert recipes, I noticed that several of them used maple syrup and agave nectar as ingredients. We all know that both of these products are processed, and I think it’s generally thought that even agave nectar labeled as raw cannot truly be regarded as raw. Raw for Dessert addresses the use of maple syrup in the introduction, and I also asked the chef at my favorite raw food cafĂ©, Beets, for her take on the use of these ingredients, as I remembered eating a delicious maple ice cream on my first visit to the cafe. I flat out asked the chef if she considered maple syrup and agave nectar as raw and she answered No. I asked her for her philosophy on using these ingredients and her answer delighted me: If you’re going to indulge in a decadent dessert, a bit of something not 100% raw is okay to be part of the indulgence. For those of you 100% raw, I would say most of the recipes in Raw for Dessert would satisfy you.

So… I made my very first raw cookies! I chose Lemon Cranberry Pistachio Cookies. The recipe was quick and easy to make in the food processor. I let the cookies set up in the fridge for a while.

The cookies are beautiful and so delicious.

I also made my very first raw Brownies. Oh… my… goodness. These are heavenly. Good for me for making a half batch because this chocolate fiend could eat a whole big bunch of these! The recipe called for dried cherries, but since my lemon cookies had dried cranberries, I left them out of the brownies. I used the optional cacao nibs to maximize the chocolate experience. My brownies were not too sweet and bursting with chocolate flavor – just like I like them. This was also a very quick and easy recipe to make in the food processor.

Both of these recipes use dates as the sweetener. The verdict - a big thumbs up so far for Raw for Dessert.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuffed Flying Saucer Squash

I was pleasantly surprised with something other than eggplant and okra in my last CSA box – flying saucer squash. Flying saucers are basically giant patty pan squash, soft flesh with minimal seeds and edible skins. They are great raw or lightly steamed, but I thought I should do something other than chop them up. I decided to showcase their fun form by stuffing and baking them. This delicious recipe is adapted from one I found on Tofu Mom’s blog.

Stuffed Flying Saucer Squash

Cut the tops off six large squash. Scoop insides out leaving 1/4 inch shell. Reserve scooped out flesh.

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
reserved scooped out squash, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted green chiles
1/3 cup your favorite salsa
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
vegan "cheese" as garnish

Saute onions and garlic in nonstick pan until onions are soft. Add squash, chilies, salsa, black beans, and seasonings. Simmer until squash is soft and most of the liquid has been released. Add rice and stir until heated through. Check seasonings and adjust if needed.

Season inside of squashes with salt and pepper. Pack filling into hollowed out squashes. Set squashes onto baking sheet. Top with vegan cheese if desired

Bake for 30 - 40 min. at 375 degrees or until squash is soft - put broiler on for a moment to melt cheese, if using.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro to garnish.

Dear blogger buddies, I need some advice. My blender broke. It was a nice KitchenAid blender, but not a great one. I used it to make my Green Smoothie Dressing every week, and of course for other smoothies, ice creams, etc. I dropped my entire last batch of dressing when I was taking it out of the fridge and I’m sort of having withdrawals.

Yeh, that was fun to clean up! I really really want a VitaMix, but it’s difficult to justify that expense when money is tight. I can buy a refurbished one for a good discount and pay for it in three installments, but it’s still a LOT of money. What would you do? VitaMix with a seven year warranty or cheapo with a 90 day warranty?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge - Indian Dosas

This was my favorite challenge so far. Thank you Debyi from Healthy Vegan Kitchen for this vegan, gluten free, and low fat recipe from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. It may not sound as though this was much of a challenge for me since it is exactly the way I normally cook, but it was my first attempt at dosas. I’ve made Indian food numerous times, so I decided to use the recipes Debyi provided for the entire dish, with the addition of potatoes to my filling since that is Chase’s favorite.

First I made the chickpea filling. It was easy to make and quite good. I found it a little salty on its own, but perfect when eaten with the dosas. I made a half recipe because, well it’s just me here!

Curried Garbanzo Filling
This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don't be afraid to make a full batch.
5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

I also made the coconut curry sauce. It too was quite easy to make and was a soothing complement to the spicy filling.

Coconut Curry Sauce
This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same, but the texture is a little runnier, not quite as thick as it was before freezing.

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced

1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2. Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3. Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4. Let it simmer for half an hour.

I did not photo the sauce or the dosas alone. I guess they were too brown and boring to make me think to get a picture. So you’ll have to trust me that they both turned out fine. I had at least a dozen little six-inch dosa pancakes to fill and plate.

Dosa Pancakes
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
cooking spray, if needed

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter.
Makes 8 pancakes.
To plate, a little sauce on the dosa, followed by filling, then roll into crepe or cone, or fold in half like omelette. More sauce on top. Serve with rice and side veggies.
For a side dish I made Rice with Cabbage, but I overcooked the rice and it was mush. I swear I will never be able to make a proper rice. The only way I can get it right is to bake it in the oven. You’ll probably tell me to get a rice cooker. I had one, but I lost it. I don’t know how you lose something like that. I just know I can’t find it anywhere in my house. Anyway, the rice and cabbage was pretty, but you can see it is more akin to mashed potatoes. You can’t discern one grain in this picture!

I also sliced some cucumbers and carrots for a side salad, and topped the dosas with plenty of cilantro.

Indian food is always a favorite here because it’s so flavorful and delicious - without meat, fat, or gluten!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

End of Summer Food

Finally the 100 degree weather has gone and we’ve actually gotten some much needed rain. Perhaps I’ll feel like doing some real cooking soon! Until then, here’s some of what I’ve been eating recently.

First the raw foods:

Raw spaghetti sauce made with sundried and fresh tomatoes over zucchini noodles and shredded romaine lettuce. I wasn’t crazy about the sauce, but I loved the lettuce mixed with the zoodles.

Raw broccoli salad, with mango, avocado, green onions, and dried cranberries – very yummy.

Marinated portobello salad from Whole Foods raw bar – fabulous!

A green salad with mango tomato dressing and sprouted legumes.
And a couple cooked dinners:

Yellow squash stirfry with mushrooms, tomatoes, and green peppers over zoodles.

And a Lentil Veggie Wrap (from one of Dreena’s books – can’t remember which!) wrapped in romaine instead of a tortilla. This was so delicious. I ate a ton of them!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Love Soup

I recently received a copy of Love Soup to review. Love Soup is a huge collection of soup recipes by Anna Thomas, author of The Vegetarian Epicure. The book is very nicely laid out by seasons, and broken out further into subchapters such as Green Soups, Hearty Summer Soups, Holiday Soups, Cold Soups, and also includes recipes for broths, breads, salads, sweets, spreads, and other accompaniments. There are 160 recipes provided, and the recipes are very creative and utilize fresh seasonal vegetables and herbs. While not all the soups are vegan (and this is acknowledged in the introduction), most could easily be made vegan by using nondairy creams, cheeses, and yogurts. I love to use coconut milk and coconut yogurts, and usually find most recipes don’t REALLY need cheese. Ms. Thomas offers variations and loads of helpful tips with each recipe.

As you know it hasn’t exactly been soup weather here in Texas, but I did find nice soup and salad recipes to try. For my soup I made Mung Bean Soup with Spinach and Tomatoes from the Hearty Summer Soups chapter. I have had a 2 pound bag of whole mung beans in my pantry forever. There is lots of information about split mung beans, but I’ve never been able to find proper cooking instructions for the whole mung beans. I learned from Love Soup that mung beans are easy to cook, have a delicate flavor, are high in protein, and burst open when they cook! This soup is perfectly Indian spiced and completely delicious. I did have to deviate slightly and use a large can of fire-roasted tomatoes, because our fresh tomato season only lasted a month. It’s nice to know canned tomatoes work, because I would definitely make this soup again anytime.

For my salad I chose Heirloom Tomato Salad. I had a giant heirloom in the fridge waiting to be dressed up, and finding this recipe was perfect for a hot Labor Day lunch. As you can see, it is simply tomato, onion, fresh basil, and seasonings. In my opinion, heirlooms don’t need much more than that.

If you LOVE SOUP, I would definitely recommend LOVE SOUP. Honestly, it contains wonderful background with each chapter and recipe, and the instructions are about the best I’ve ever come across. Also on my “must make” list are Kale Salad with Tomatoes and Corn; Brown Rice and Chinese Cabbage Salad; Cucumber, Rice, and Fresh Herb Salad; Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Pesto; Deconstructed Hummus Soup; and Butter Bean and Summer Vegetable Soup.

And now I get to have a delicious soup and salad dinner!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Marvelous Mutabbal

Sunday the Austin Food Bloggers gathered for another potluck. This month’s theme was Hatch chile peppers. Our local markets have giant roasters and for the past two weeks have provided us with the most delicious peppers.

I really didn’t want to be the clichĂ© vegan bringing hummus to the party, and I came awfully close by selecting Mutabbal for my dish. I got the idea from Bryanna Clark Grogan. Mutabbal is basically a spicy version of baba ganoush. Bryanna’s recipe didn’t actually use any peppers though, just chile powder, so I improvised my own tasty recipe. I thought my Mutabbal turned out fabulously, and it got raves at the potluck. One guest said it was her favorite dish at the party, which I take as quite a compliment coming from a group of accomplished and creative foodies. So if you are lucky enough to get your hands on some Hatch chiles, this would be a great way to use them. If not, a poblano or even a jalapeno would work as well.


(This recipe serves 12, but can easily be halved.)


3 large eggplants, totaling about 3-1/2 pounds
12 cloves garlic, cut into several long wedges
½ pound roasted Hatch chile peppers
6 T. tahini
4 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more to garnish
¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts, to garnish
pomegranate seeds, to garnish


Prepare your outdoor grill and set it to high. Wash the eggplants and trim the tops, but don’t cut off the tops. Make many slits on each eggplant and insert the garlic wedges into the slits. Place the eggplants on the grill and grill until the eggplants are very soft, about 20 minutes. Turn the eggplants every 5 minutes to char evenly. Remove to a plate to cool. They will look like this:

When the eggplants are cool, remove the charred skins and chop off the tops. Place the eggplants with the garlic into a food processor. Pulse a few times. Add the roasted peppers, tahini, EVOO, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Puree until almost smooth (a little chunky is nice). Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to your tastes. Let chill for several hours or overnight; it keeps well for several days.

Spread the eggplant mixture onto a platter. Garnish with the parsley, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds. Serve with pita chips.

Not only does it look beautiful, but it tastes out of this world!

Here’s a few pictures from the potluck. Every dish was made with Hatch chiles, including brownies, cookies, breads, mac n’ cheese, Indian food, sandwiches, popcorn, gazpacho, and a fabulous vegan orzo pasta.

Rachel brought a delicious vegan peach cobbler with Hatch biscuits.

I think my favorite was the Hatch chile vodka served with habanero ice cubes – yum!

I hope you enjoy the Mutabbal recipe, and by the way, eat’n veg’n is now three years old!