Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for the ‘Vegan for the Holidays’ Category

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS GIVE-AWAY!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 1, 2013

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HOW THE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK WAS BORN

Many years ago I remember being bummed out when one of our kids brought a vegan friend over the house for dinner. At that time, it was a big deal because I had no idea of what to fix for them.

Now that I’ve been vegan for 24 years, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Though things have changed considerably over the years, and many people have become pretty darned savvy about what’s vegan and what’s not, there are still some big gaps and big humps for vegans to overcome.

One of the major humps still plaguing vegans is the traditional holiday dinner, when the whole family comes together for the festivities. The lone vegan in a non-vegan family may be one of the lucky ones to have a vegan-savvy family that knows just what to cook to satisfy all tastes.

For the vegan whose family cooks the Standard American dishes for those big holidays like Thanksgiving, the struggle goes on.

That’s mainly why I created the Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook, but it was for me, too. I thought it would be fun to have a whole bevvy of holiday dishes in my repertoire that I could count on year after year and not have to struggle to come up with something special for the occasion.

I figured I wasn’t the only vegan who faced the quandary of what to cook for those special holiday meals–dishes that really stand apart from stuff I cook the rest of the year.

A FEW DISHES FROM VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I also wanted to be able to share those special dishes that make the holiday dinners so divinely delicious and so very memorable. Here are a few dishes to stir your curiosity:

carrotwreath copyAlmond Thumbprint CookiesNew Year LogSanta's Favorite Panforte

There’s nothing like a tasty teaser to spark even more curiosity, so I want to share one of my favorite appetizers that appears in the Christmas section of Vegan for the Holidays. Truth is that this recipe is so versatile, it doesn’t have to wait for the holidays to arrive.

Because the ingredients are available year round, Tofu Tijuana Cocktail is a delight even in the middle of July. Actually, it’s a fabulous starter in July when avocados are in abundance and reasonably priced.

Another point of versatility is the inter-play between tofu and chestnuts. When chestnuts are in season, generally from October through December and sometimes January, they ought to be the featured item in this starter. And, if you’ve never ventured into the land of cooking and peeling chestnuts, check out the step-by-step Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts details that appeared in an earlier post Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts.

The thing about chestnuts is their ultra sweet flavor and soft and pleasing potato-like texture. Chestnuts are not like any other nut, yet they are still considered a tree nut, like walnuts or almonds. What makes them so different? For starters, they have a soft and starchy texture rather than a crunchy nature like other nuts. They are extremely low in fat–about 2% rather than the usual 50% to 80% fat in most other nuts. Chestnuts are starchier than other nuts with about 27% carbohydrates, while other nuts range in carbs from 12% to 32%.

When chestnuts are not in season, replace them with chunks of firm tofu and enjoy a delicious starter that looks elegant served in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes.

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TIJUANA TOFU COCKTAIL

Colorful and inviting, this zesty appetizer comes alive with bright colors, bold flavors, and a glamorous presentation. I created this recipe to spotlight fresh chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, this is a delicious starter. If you enjoy chestnuts as much as I do, go ahead and substitute them for the tofu and you’ll find they add a pleasant sweet balance to the savory and spicy flavors.

Yield: 6 to 8 servingsTijuana Tofu Cocktail 2copy

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced firm tofu, or chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1. Combine the canned and fresh tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.

2. To serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashioned glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime perched on the rim. Serve with spoons. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.

Posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Vegan for the Holidays, Zel's Cookbooks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

POMEGRANATE – AN AUTUMN TREAT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 28, 2012

When I was a child, I used to think pomegranates were magical. Their neatly ordered, tightly clustered seeds and amazing sweet-tart flavor always intrigued me, and I loved the flavor with my first taste. I have never fallen out of love with those divinely bright red, mystical fruits and always wait with anticipation for autumn to come and ripen the pomegranates hanging from my neighbor’s tree.

It’s ironic that I have a neighbor who doesn’t like the fruit but has a beautiful and very prolific pomegranate tree in his yard. Luckily, he knows I adore them and is happy to see the pomegranates leave his care for a better home.

I put them right to work and they’ve magically turned up in four of the recipes in my new cookbook, Vegan for theHolidays that features so many foods that are special to the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

In the recipe below, the “magical fruit” meets up with other bold flavors and delivers a lively autumn salad that works perfectly as a side dish on the holiday table.

POMEGRANATE-APPLE SALAD WITH GINGER AND MINT

Yield: 6 servings

1 large pomegranate
2 sweet, crisp apples, unpeeled, chopped
8 ounces edamame, cooked and shelled
1 navel orange, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 heaping teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

1. Cut the pomegranate into quarters. Carefully remove the seeds with your fingers. Put the seeds in a large bowl.

2. Add the apples, edamame, orange, maple syrup, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, ginger, and salt and toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.

3. Add half the mint leaves and mix well. Garnish the top of the salad with the remaining mint leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve the salad within 2 hours.

Posted in Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

GLAZED RUTABAGAS & CARROT-RAISIN MUFFINS FOR A DIVINE CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 30, 2012

Sam Houghton, the creative Quantum Vegan blogger, took on a curious challenge the moment she bought a vegetable she didn’t know what to do with. Today’s familiar mantra is “Search and ye shall find,” –the internet, that is, and that’s exactly what Sam did. The result is an innovative, yet easy recipe that makes rutabagas a stand-out side dish for the Canadian Thanksgiving celebration.

Healthy muffins are always a nutritional bonus, but how about muffins that are delicious, chock full of sweet raisins, shredded carrots, chunky walnuts, AND are really healthy! Serve them for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning and enjoy a great start to the festive day.

Sam’s lively blog features a host of recipes, product reviews, and book reviews. Her Lifestyle feature offers a glimpse into everything from eating disorders to all manner of vegan living. You can also find Sam on Twitter and Facebook.

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Rutabagas were on sale recently and I decided to buy one, as I am often wont to do with sale vegetables. Of course, once I had it on hand I had no idea what to do with it, and for once my cookbooks didn’t have many suggestions. But it’s the beauty of today’s social media world that you can put out a call for rutabaga recipes on twitter and have half a dozen responses before lunch time. Thanks to cookinvegan, I settled on a maple mustard glaze that sounded amazing.

MAPLE-MUSTARD-GLAZED RUTABAGAS
serves 2 as a side

Ingredients
1 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 tbsp. olive oil

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl big enough to hold the rutabaga, mix all the glaze ingredients together until well blended.

2) Add the rutabaga pieces and mix until well coated.

3) Spread the rutabaga on a baking sheet, drizzling with any remaining glaze. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once, until the glaze darkens and the rutabaga is tender.

I wound up making two separate batches of glaze and turning one into a marinade for tempeh a la Veganomicon. I added about 6 tbsp. of water to the glaze to make it a marinade and marinated 1/2 block of tempeh for an hour before panfrying it for about ten minutes. The flavor took really well and some green beans were all we needed to complete the meal!

So now that I know how tasty rutabaga is, I’ll be using it more in the future!

WHEAT-OAT CARROT MUFFINS
Substitutions in baking don’t always work out the way you intend them to. Sometimes you wind up with a total mess, while other times you get a nice surprise. I’d put these muffins somewhere in between. The substitutions I made were out of necessity, and the only complaint I had was that they didn’t rise very much. So they were a success, albeit a bit of a “rustic-looking” success!

The original recipe came off the back of a box of Hogsden Mills hot cereal and called for some of the cereal as a dry ingredient. The rest was pretty simple, and the only non-vegan ingredients were some milk and an egg, so adapting it was a snap. However, I found myself in an interesting position the second time I wanted to make a batch. We were very nearly out of both whole wheat pastry flour and spelt flour, my two go-to flours for muffins; and there wasn’t a whole lot of the dry cereal left, either. The only thing to do was improvise.

I looked around at what we did have and wound up swapping wheat bran for the cereal and oat flour for the regular flour. I also added some raisins, which weren’t included in the original muffin recipe. As usual, I used maple syrup instead of sugar and applesauce instead of oil–both of which I’d tried the first time around and had success with. The result was a dense and tasty muffin that was good with all sorts of different “toppings:” almond butter, sunflower butter, raspberry jelly and even chocolate raspberry peanut butter!

As sort of an added bonus, these are healthy muffins that don’t taste healthy. There’s very little sugar and a lot of whole grains, plus the carrots and raisins. The batter winds up very chunky and can just about support a half a cup of nuts, but I wouldn’t add anything else for fear of them falling apart. Also, if you don’t have any oat flour hanging around, you can make your own by grinding regular oats in a blender (about 1 1/4 cups to make 1 cup of flour).

Wheat Oat Muffin Batter

Wheat Oat Muffins with Carrots & Raisins
Author: Sam
Recipe type: snack
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 35 mins

Serves: 6-12

Ingredients
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup oat flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup nondairy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease or line a small 12-cup or a large 6-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat bran, oat flour, baking powder and baking soda, stirring well to combine.

Add the nondairy milk, maple syrup, flax seed mixture, applesauce and vanilla. Stir until moistened. (Batter will be thick.)

Fold in the carrots, raisins and walnuts (if using). The batter should look chunky and “rustic.”

Divide the batter equally between the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. These don’t rise very much, but they’re tasty and hearty!

Posted in Breakfast Dishes, Canadian Thanksgiving, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan for the Holidays, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS ARRIVES WITH GOOD CHEER!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 17, 2012

My shiny new cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, has formally arrived this month and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s a beauty!

After a few years of dabbling in a fun and deliriously wild exploration of holiday kitchen alchemy, I gathered up my multitude of little pieces of paper and tiny recipe notes and popped them into the oven.

And –would you believe–out popped this beautiful book of recipes for killer-delicious celebration dishes! Vegan for the Holidays makes Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day a divine season of grand feasting.

Vegans need never feel deprived and never have to resort to a mere salad while others at the Thanksgiving table chatter enthusiastically about the turkey. Now we can feast on awesome dishes like Savory Lentil Terrine with Mushroom-Wine Sauce or Pistachio and Sweet Pea Torte with Roasted Tomato Aioli.

Perhaps, the Thanksgiving Phyllo Pie will be the centerpiece dish at your family celebration.

Bask in the sweet paradise of Santa’s Favorite Panforte for Christmas or rich and savory Potato Latkes and Vegan Sour Cream for Hanukkah.

Dine on sumptuous servings of Mac ‘n’ cheese and Jamaican Jerk Tofu for Kwanzaa. Conclude the year with the dazzling, sweet and spicy Apricot, Date, and Hazelnut Sticky Pie on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

For a mini tour, take a little peek inside Vegan for the Holidays:

Vegan Holidays Peek copy

For more information and to order Vegan for the Holidays, visit my Vegetarians in Paradise page http://www.vegparadise.com/veganholidays.html

Here’s an easy holiday appetizer that puts yuletide spirit on a plate and unveils your hidden talent as a sculptor. Make it mildly spiced or crank it up to muy picante with extra jalapeno chiles and a pinch of cayenne. Just remember to thaw the peas, then you’ll be ready to let the food processor do the work.

JOLLY GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE

Dip
1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1 (150ounce) can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and coarsely chopped’1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powdfer
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Ornaments
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced’1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 green onion, white part only, sliced (optional)
1 whole star anise, or 6 whole cloves

1. Put the dip ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.

2. Spoon the mixture onto a large platter and use the back of a spoon to form the mixture into the shape of a large Christmas tree. Decorate the tree with the bell pepper, carrot, and the optional green onion. Place the star anise at the top or arrange the cloves into a radiating star. Serve with baked tortilla chips, bean ships, toasted pita wedges, or your favorite crackers.

Posted in Appetizers, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts, Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

4 NO-FAIL NUTTY PIE CRUST RECIPES

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 11, 2012

Pie making was always something I feared and completely avoided because I was frightfully intimidated by the finicky nature of traditional flaky pie crust. Getting it right takes some skill and perseverance. Whenever I did venture into pie-crust territory, I could never got it right. The crust was either too wet or too dry to roll properly and the finished pie never looked like it ought to. Quite honestly, I was a pie crust flunk-out and my pies were a flop. My pie crust self-esteem was so low I didn’t touch a pie recipe for years.

Going vegan opened up a whole new world of ingredients and inspired me to use those items inventively.

The solution to overcoming pie phobia was to focus on my new, UN-traditional pantry and experiment with different ingredients that could hold a pie together without the fuss and fear of failure. These recipes work every time. If I can make a successful pie crust, so can you.

The following pie crust recipes are for pies that require only a bottom crust. The complete pie recipes can be found in my just-released cookbook Vegan for the Holidays available on Amazon and at Vegetarians in Paradise.

Dessert lovers can never have too many desserts!
If you’ve made extra desserts for your holiday celebrations, I have no doubt you’ll be happy to store the leftovers and feast again next day. As you probably know, second time around is always better and gives you something sweet, spicy, and holiday-perfect to look forward to.

Here are four unique pie crust recipes–3 are ideal for dessert pies–1 recipe forms the base of a savory, dinner pie.

OATMEAL CRUMB CRUST

This very quick prep featuring walnuts belongs to two tantalizing recipes: Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie and Apples ‘n’ Cream Pie. Both these dessert pies bring the Thanksgiving meal to a delicious and satisfying conclusion. They look appetizing and taste so good you just might want a second helping.

Makes 1 (9 or 10-inch) pie crust

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup walnuts
4 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons organic sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Pour the oats into a food processor. Pulse 12 to 15 times. Add the walnuts, oil, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Process until the mixture is a fine, crumbly meal and holds together when pinched. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water to help it hold together.
2. Spoon the mixture into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Press on the edges to firm. Add your pie filling and bake.

FLAXSEED PIE CRUST

This simple recipe forms the crust of the Easy Pumpkin Tofu Cheesecake in the dessert section of the Thanksgiving menu. The recipe requires no high-tech culinary skills–only your fingers to press it into the pie pan.

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust or fills the base of a 9-inch springform pan

1/2 cup whole almonds
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil

1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they form a coarse meal. Add the flour, ground flaxseeds, brown sugar, and salt and process until thoroughly mixed. Add the water and canola oil and process until the mixture becomes a moist, soft dough. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
2. Spoon the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to press it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If using a springform pan, press the mixture into the bottom and only 1-inch up the sides. Add the filling and bake.

SWEET POTATO NUT CRUST

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust

This very unique crust belongs to a scrumptious, Italian-inspired, savory main dish. Tomato-Pine Nut Pie makes a delicious entrée on the Christmas menu of Vegan for the Holidays. It’s melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out with plenty of holiday spirit.

12 ounces sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2/3 cup well-mashed firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly oil a 9-inch pie pan.
2. Put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.
3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.
4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 inch higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

CRANBERRY ALMOND CRUST

Makes 1 (9-inch) crust

This crust recipe is super-easy and belongs to the tangy, deliciously crunchy base of the NO-BAKE Cinnamon-Peanut Butter Torte, an awesome dessert you can prepare in a springform pan two or three days in advance and freeze. Ten minutes before serving, transfer the pan to a platter, and remove the springform collar. Garnish, cut into wedges, and enjoy the compliments. You’ll find the complete recipe for each of these enticing pies in Vegan for the Holidays.

1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
4 to 5 tablespoons water

1. Cover the base of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of parchment paper 2 inches larger. Snap the collar back onto the base, and cut away the excess parchment with scissors. Lightly oil the sides of the pan and set aside.
2. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they become a coarse, slightly chunky meal.
3. Add the cranberries and water and process until the cranberries are broken down into tiny bits and the mixture holds together when gently pressed. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too dry to hold together. Spoon the crust mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and press the mixture firmly with the back of a spoon to distribute it evenly. Add the filling and freeze until ready to serve.

Posted in almonds, Appetizers, Main Dishes, Nut Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts, Vegan for the Holidays, Vegan Websites, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE NUT GOURMET IS BRANCHING OUT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 11, 2011

I’ve got exciting news and want to share what I’ve been working on.

While I’m still dedicated to all things nutty, during the past five years I’ve written a new cookbook focused on vegan holiday recipes. Because of my passion for nuts, I’ve included nut-focused recipes, but I’ve also created many non-nutty dishes.

The working title of the new book is GONE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS, but that could possibly change as the book progresses through the editing process. The book features recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years and aims to bring a touch of nostalgia to the holiday table with attractive presentations and foods that are typically connected to the autumn and winter season.

Today I send my final manuscript to the publisher (Book Publishing Company) and next month I start working with an editor. I have a hunch Gone Vegan for the Holidays will be published about middle of 2012—so, not too far away. I’m very excited and will be sharing recipes on the blog.

In two days, I leave for a two-week vacation with my sweetie. We’ll be flying to the Philippines to spend an exciting time with our son and future daughter-in-law and help to plan their wedding. Our house will be in good hands, but our cat, Fuzzy, will be missing us greatly.

I hope to bring back tons of photos and some delicious Philippine recipes to share–veganized, of course.

For now my wish is for all to enjoy and warm, loving, and fulfilling Holiday Season!

Until next year – – -

Posted in Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

 
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