Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for the ‘Vegan Desserts’ Category

A PEACH OF A SUMMER DESSERT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 22, 2016

Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

Delicious ripe peaches, one of the summer’s sweetest and juiciest treats of the season, become the perfect perch for plopping an irresistible, walnut-studded chocolate orb into the cavity of a peach half. Can anyone resist chocolate sweetened with nothing more than dates and flavored with almond extract? I sure can’t!

Fresh, sun-ripened peaches play a key role in making this easy and naturally sweet dessert a top choice for a summertime treat. They look so tantalizing, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous stuffed peaches in a flash.

The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stove-top to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so inviting.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesI prefer the yellow peaches for this dessert for two reasons. First, they’re firmer and retain their shape and pleasing texture better than the white peaches. The second reason is they can be cut in half and separated without becoming mushy. They’re often called freestone peaches.

Buy the peaches when quite firm and leave them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for only a day or two. That gives them just enough time to be ripe and ready for stuffing.

Generally, white peaches have a higher water content and are not freestone. A day or two on the counter topChocolate Stuffed Peaches and white peaches might turn into a mushy mess when you try to separate the two halves. I confess, though, that white peaches are mighty delicious and my family enjoys them thoroughly.

The secret to separating the halves of white peaches is to cut them when quite firm and use a pairing knife to cut them off the pit. It’s a little tricky, but patience pays off. Overall, though, the yellow peaches are my first choice.

After cutting the peaches in half, I prepare the chocolate stuffing by softening the pitted dates with a little water in the food processor. As I measure the dates, I snip each one in half with a kitchen scissors. That way I can find the one or two pits that were overlooked during the commercial processing–and it saves my processor blades from damage.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesThen I add the raw cacao or cocoa powder and almond extract and process to distribute the flavors thoroughly.

The next step is to transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and add the coarsely chopped walnuts. For coarsely grinding the walnuts I use my inexpensive hand-crank nut mill that can be purchased in a well-stocked kitchen shop.

Be sure to set aside some of the coarsely ground nuts for the topping. Now comes the fun part–rolling the chocolate mixture by hand into 1-inch balls and plunking them down into the peach cavity that’s ready and waiting for its sweet treat!

Chocolate Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

 Yield: 12 stuffed peach halves

6 fresh yellow peaches

 

1 cup firmly packed dates, snipped in half with kitchen scissors

2 to 3 tablespoons waterChocolate Stuffed Peaches

 

2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

 

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nut mill

12 golden raisins, for garnish

3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish

 

  1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.
  1. Stuffed PeachesPut the dates in a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water only if needed to moisten the date mixture.

 

  1. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.
  1. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.
  1. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Stuffed PeachesChocolate Stuffed Peaches

Posted in Desserts, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SOUTHERN PECAN PIE FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 9, 2015

Pecan Pie copyDOWN HOME PECAN PIE

Pecans are native to the American South, and you can bet those creative Southerners put them on the menu every chance they could find. Those delicious little pecans even made the South famous for its pecan pie, an irresistible dessert that makes ex-pat Southerns very homesick.

Many Southern families have their own treasured family recipe–possibly even some handed down from grandma’s or great-grandma’s secret recipe. Years ago, family recipes were so cherished many were kept secret.

I have great respect for those delicious heirloom recipes that bring families together at special times like the holidays. And I also love the way Southerners say pecans– south of the Mason-Dixon line they call them puh cons.

My holiday version has all the eye-appealing and flavorful attributes of its traditional counterpart with the added benefit of being totally vegan. But I must admit that veganizing the recipe was one heck of a challenge.

My first 8 attempts–yes, it actually took 9 tries to get it right–came out too runny or totally soupy. It was maddening and totally frustrating, but I was one determined gal. The goal was to find a way to thicken and bind the ingredients, as eggs would do in the traditional recipe. About the 8th time the top baked perfectly, and I thought I had achieved success at last. But, no! As soon as I cut into it, it was soup.

Taking the place of the eggs is a combination of tapioca flour and flaxseeds that gives the pie its unique, creamy texture. The tapioca flour also performs the double duty of thickening the filling as well as providing an inviting glaze that enhances its appeal. The key was tapioca flour –it worked like magic! Now I’m thrilled to share this recipe that’s from my cookbook The Nut Gourmet.

There are many ways to arrange the pecans on the top. Some people simply sprinkle broken pieces over the filling, but I wanted a pecan pie that was pretty darned eye appealing. If you have the time, start by sorting out beautiful pecan halves of similar sizes for the topping. Then arrange them side-by-side in concentric rings beginning in the center of the pie.

At serving time, make way for those pecan lovers who scramble for a piece of pie!

Down Home Pecan Pie

DOWN-HOME PECAN PIE

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

Nutty Wheat Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 tablespoons cold water

Pecan Filling
1 1/4 cups coarsely broken pecans

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) dairy-free margarine
1 1/2 cups light or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup regular soymilk
1/2 cup tapioca flour, packed

5 tablespoons flaxseeds
1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1. TO MAKE THE PIE CRUST, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet. Combine the pastry flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.

2. Add the oil and mix with a spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Add the water and stir thoroughly until the mixture forms a soft dough and all the water is absorbed.

3. Form the dough into a ball and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper, place the pie pan over the dough, and invert the dough and pan together. Remove the waxed paper carefully and firm the edges of the crust. Trim the excess crust with a knife. Bake the Crust for 5 minutes and set it aside on the baking sheet to cool.

4. TO MAKE THE PECAN FILLING, put the coarsely broken pecans on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 minutes. Immediately pour them onto a dish to cool. When cool, spoon the pecan pieces into the bottom of the pie shell.

5. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 5 minutes and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes.

6. Put the soymilk in a small bowl and stir in the tapioca flour. Set it aside for 5 minutes to allow the tapioca flour to absorb some of the liquid. Don’t rush this step. The tapioca flour needs a full 5 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.

7. Meanwhile, put the flaxseeds in a blender or mini chopper and grind them to a fine meal. Add the flaxseeds and the soymilk mixture to the cooled corn syrup mixture. Stir to combine, and pour the mixture into the blender. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Pour over the toasted pecans.

8. Top the pie with the pecan halves, arranging them in concentric circles, beginning in the center. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool thoroughly before chilling in the refrigerator. The pie will firm after it is thoroughly chilled.

Posted in Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Nut Desserts, pecans, The Nut Gourmet, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

POLENTA PORCUPINE PIE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 30, 2014

I’ve only encountered polenta in a savory form, usually served as a side dish. But I often wondered if it would be possible to turn it into a delicious, gluten-free dessert. When a friend invited me for dinner and asked me to bring dessert, she created the perfect opportunity for an experiment.

The texture of polenta was a concern. If polenta is not fully cooked, it can have a rather grainy texture, which would be horrible in a dessert. I also wondered if I could make the dessert sugar-free, since recent studies have revealed health concerns about sugar.

I decided to make a dessert polenta with dried fruits and prepared a simple date paste as the sweetener. As with most kitchen experiments exploring new territory, success often comes after several trials, eliminating this or adding that, or even changing the cooking method or varying the temperature.

Occasionally, magic happens and that first go-around works as if there were a tiny kitchen elf holding my hand and guiding me every step along the process. Amazing! And it looked pretty darned appealing, too!

It was a delicious surprise that also looked enticing enough to bring to a dinner party. When my friend asked what to call this dessert, I hesitated only a moment–and out popped the amusing name. Because of the bounty of fruits, small servings make this dessert go a long way. I actually squeezed 16 servings out of this dessert, but, really, 10 to 12 servings would be more realistic.

Polenta Porcupine copy

POLENTA PORCUPINE PIE

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Fruit Mix

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded

3/4 cup golden raisins

3/4 cup black raisins

1/3 cup diced dried Turkish apricots

1/4 cup pine nuts

 

Date Paste

2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half and lightly packed

1/2 cup water

 

Polenta

4 cups water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarse whole grain cornmeal

1/2 cup whole almonds

  1. Line a large, shallow mold, about 9 to 11 inches in diameter, or a 2-quart ring mold with plastic wrap large enough to drape over the sides. Set aside.
  2. TO MAKE THE FRUIT MIX, combine the carrots, golden and black raisins, apricots, and pine nuts in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE DATE PASTE, put the dates in a food processor. With the machine running, add the water and process until smooth. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Measure 1 cup of the date paste and set it aside for the recipe. Save the remainder for another use.
  4. TO MAKE THE POLENTA, put the water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Add the cornmeal and return the mixture to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add the reserved date paste and mix well with a wooden spoon to incorporate it thoroughly. The mixture will become very thick.
  7. Add the fruit mixture a little at a time, stirring continuously, until well mixed.
  8. Working quickly, spoon the mixture into the prepared mold and spread it to the edges. Let cool completely and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
  9. Before serving, invert the polenta pie onto a large platter and remove the plastic wrap. Poke the tips of the almonds into the top surface, gently pressing them in just enough to secure them.

Note:

Commercially packaged pitted dates, may contain one or two date pits that have evaded the pitting machinery. To avoid damaging the food processor blade, I use a kitchen scissors to snip the dates in half before adding them to the processor. The date paste makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Posted in almonds, Desserts, Nut Desserts, pine nuts, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SWEET SUMMER PEACHES DANCE WITH CHOCOLATE AND WALNUTS

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 13, 2013

Summer desserts often spotlight fresh fruits as the center of the season’s sweet indulgences. Many of us home cooks, feeling a little weary of the long, long season of apples, pears, and oranges, really look forward to the refreshing flavors of stone fruits. They perk up the fruit bowl with their brilliant colors, and every bite is divinely sweet and juicy.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the market on a hunt for fresh, ripe peaches with the hope they would also be sweet. Often, the first-of-the-season fruits tend to be a bit tart–and they were–so tart they even made my mouth pucker. On this week’s shopping trip I was thrilled to discover bins of beautiful yellow peaches with a gorgeous rosy glow. I bought some for my cooking class and had the pleasure of hearing the peaches were delicious and the dessert was a smashing success.

This is a dessert I devised especially because it contained no sweeteners of any sort. The sweetness comes only from dates. It’s also gluten-free. Anyone wanting to avoid sugar or suffering from gluten intolerance will find this an ideal dessert because there’s no sacrifice–really–none at all because it’s decadently sweet and chocolaty rich without the offending ingredients. If allergies are a problem, just leave out the walnuts, and you’ll still have a fabulous dessert.

Easy as pie–that’s how I think of this recipe, and I think you’ll agree. You can also make it a day in advance by brushing the exposed peach flesh lightly with lemon juice to prevent discoloring.

nut toolsThe only tools you’ll need are a food processor and a hand-crank nut mill to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. I’m pretty sure everyone knows what a food processor looks like, but I often encounter puzzled looks when I mention nut mill. If you don’t have one, you can use other tools, like a hammer, food chopper, rolling pin, or mini blender, to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. The nut mill is the item in the center of the photo and has a black cover and black handle on the end of the hand-crank. It’s a good old-fashioned low-tech tool, but turns out perfectly ground nuts I often use as garnish or to add a little texture to a recipe.

And don’t skimp on the garnish! Those little finishing touches are what dazzle the eyes and ramp up the temptation meter. A few perky sprigs of fresh mint and some scattered nuts on the dish do the deed.

Well, here they are–fresh, sun-ripened peaches stuffed with indulgent chocolate all ready for dessert. They look so irresistible, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous treats in a flash. The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stovetop to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so tantalizing.

Chocolate Stuffed Peaches copy

CHOCOLATE STUFFED PEACHES

Yield: 4 servings

6 fresh peaches

1 cup firmly packed dates, cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nutmill
12 golden raisins, for garnish
3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.

2. Put the dates into a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water if needed to moisten the date mixture.

3. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.

4. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.

5. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Posted in Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

APPLES, ROOT VEGETABLES, & STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM MAKE CANADIAN THANKSGIVING IRRESISTIBLE AND MEMORABLE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 7, 2012

Tami Noyes and hubby have been vegan since 2004 but welcome all diners to their table. When Tami started testing recipes for cookbook authors, she fell in love with vegan cuisine and is now the author of two beautiful cookbooks. American Vegan Kitchen is packed with familiar comfort foods we turn to for everyday dining pleasure. Her new book, just published is Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Tami considers sandwiches the best thing since sliced bread! When she’s not in the kitchen, Tami spends time blogging at Vegan Appetite.

As the fall colors build and the leaves fall, our taste-buds turn to apples and cinnamon. Made with mostly whole grain, this cake is a healthier alternative than some others. The addition of cashews creates a rich and delicate cake batter. We enjoy this lightly spiced apple-dotted cake for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or for dessert. For even more indulgence, top with maple frosting after cooling.

APPLE CAKE
Yield: 1 (6-inch) cake

3/4 cup nondairy milk
2 tablespoons cashew pieces
2 tablespoons nondairy vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
60 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup peeled, diced apple

Spray a 6-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the milk, cashews, yogurt, oil, flax seed, and extracts in a blender and process until completely smooth.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.

_________________________________________________________________

Author of more than 20 cookbooks (many best sellers), Robin Robertson has been vegan since 1988. She was a chef and caterer and presently consults and contributes a regular column to VegNews Magazine. She has been a contributing editor and columnist for Vegetarian Times and contributed to numerous magazines. Bold flavors and global cuisine is her passion as well as writing and teaching about healthy plant-based cuisine. Her newest cookbook Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker has just been released. Visit Robin Robertson’s Global Vegan Kitchen for more awesome website and a peek at her library of cookbooks. The following recipe is from Robin’s new Vegan Slow Cooker book.

MAPLE-DIJON GLAZED ROOT VEGETABLES

This dish is ideal for Thanksgiving dinner – or anytime. I like to use more carrots because they’re popular and colorful, with a lesser amount of turnips and parsnips, but you can change the ratio however you like.

Slow Cooker Size: 4-quart
Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours on Low
{gluten-free}
{soy-free}

4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 shallots, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly oil the insert of the slow cooker. Combine the carrots, turnip, parsnip, and shallots in the cooker.
2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, water, and mustard in a cup, stirring to blend, then pour it over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables are soft. Stir once about halfway through the cooking time, if possible. Serves 4

_______________________________________________________________

Debra Walton subscribes to the Hippocrates mantra to let food be our medicine. She holds a nursing degree, but though she is the mom of 5 “awesome children” and granny to 9 little ones, she is working on furthering her education seeking degrees in Health, Healing, and Nutrition. Debra follows a plant-based diet and teaches food preparation and nutrition to spread the word about the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Look for more delicious recipes on Debra’s delightful blog The Health Seeker’s Kitchen.

TENDER GREEN BEAN WITH MUSHROOM & LEMON PEEL

Serves 6 as a side dish.

Sauté:
1 Portabello Mushroom, diced
2 tab. yellow onion diced
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. olive oil
salt & pepper

Steam:
1 lb. fresh tender green beans
1/4 cup water

Sauce:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tab.Vegenaise
1/8 tsp. dried dill
Rind of 1 lemon (I use a lemon zester to make long thin slices)

Cook mushroom, onions and oregano in olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Cook until mushrooms look soft and turn color. Remove from pan.

Add 1/4 cup water to pan you cooked mushroom in. Add green beans and simmer with lid on until water has disappeared. Remove green beans and put in bowl.

Mix sauce well and stir into green beans. Add mushroom mixture.
Add rind of lemon to green beans and mix. Enjoy.

___________________________________

NON-DAIRY RAW STRAWBERRY BANANA ICE CREAM

Ingredients:
Cashew cream (recipe below)
14 regular pitted dates (soak in water until soft and reserve 1/4 c. water)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1 very large orange)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 cup sliced bananas (about 2 small)
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries (keep frozen)

Cashew Cream
1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soak in water for 2-4 hours)
1/2 cup water

Drain soak water and place cashews in blender. Add 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth.

Directions:
1.) Make cashew cream and leave in blender.
2.) Drain dates reserving 1/4 cup liquid and add both to cashew cream. Blend until smooth.
3.) Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
4.) Put ice cream in Cuisinart ice cream maker. In about 10 minutes ice cream will be ready to eat or put in freezer for an additional hour for a more firm texture.
5.) You can also pour ice cream into a container and freeze until ready.
6.) Enjoy!!

________________________________________________________________

Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Peanut Butter & Banana Creamy Dreamy “Ice Cream”

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 2, 2012

I know I’m not alone when I find myself staring into the fruit bowl with the ripening half-bunch of bananas full of dark spots. Unless you’re the rare individual who consumes the entire bunch of bananas before they reach that point, you, too, have probably had many moments of staring at speckled bananas and thinking “Darn! Right now I don’t have the time to bake up a batch of muffins.”

My favorite remedy is to carpe diem and peel those softies. I then cut them into 1-inch long chunks, put them on a metal pie pan, and tuck them into the freezer. The banana chunks can go to sleep in the freezer for ages until you’re ready to put them to work.

If you’re still enjoying some pretty darned hot weather like I am in Los Angeles, you can whip up a delicious dessert that takes no advance prep. Gather up those bananas, some dates, peanut butter, lime juice, and vanilla extract and toss them into the food processor.

You’ll have to fiddle with the processor a bit, stopping, redistributing, and starting again several times, but the end result is pure nirvana for us peanut butter nuts.

CREAMY DREAMY PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA “ICE CREAM”

Yield: 4 servings

4 frozen bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 heaping tablespoons crunchy or creamy peanut butter
10 to 15 pitted dates
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepared vegan chocolate syrup (optional)

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the chocolate syrup, in a food processor. Pulse and process several times. Because it takes time to break down the frozen bananas, you’ll need to stop the machine several times and use a firm spatula to redistribute the ingredients.

2. Be persistent and within a few minutes, you’ll be able to process the mixture into a thick and creamy, ice-cream-like dessert that will feel refreshingly cold as it glides down your throat.

3. Spoon the mixture into 4 dessert dishes and top with the chocolate syrup, if desired.

Posted in Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, peanuts, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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 »

HEAD FOR THE COOKIES AND YOU’LL REVEL IN CHOCOLATE AND NUTS

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

One of my favorite cookbook authors, the well-seasoned Nava Atlas, has created Vegan Holiday Kitchen, a stunning new book with an impressive 200 well-crafted recipes to bring vegan joy and dining pleasure to holiday meals throughout the year.

Nava has graciously allowed me to reprint one of her recipes from the Christmas section. These are so gooooood, you’ll want to make these in January, May, or September, or any time, just because they’re, well, addictively delicious.

They’re easy and WOW! they make the kitchen smell so good before, during, and after baking! Once I opened those little jars of spices and started measuring, I knew their aromas would drift up and out in all directions and send pleasing scents throughout the house and even out the window. My lucky next-door neighbor had the pleasure of a delightful, spice-scented afternoon.

A visit to Nava’s wonderful website VegKitchen.com is a must. Once there, explore her generous array of recipes, kitchen tips, articles, and discover her many other books.

CHOCOLATE NUT COOKIES

These have a nice cookie top highlighted by the use of sugar. If you need a big batch of easy little cookies, these are a good choice.

Makes about 4 dozen

1/2 cup Earth Balance or other hon-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup dry unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup rice milk
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered or granulated sugar for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, and rice milk. Whisk together until the mixture is a smooth syrup. Remove from heat.

3. Combine the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center and pour in the chocolate syrup. Work together, first with a spoon, then with clean hands, to make a stiff batter. Work in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Form into balls no larger than 1 inch in diameter. Arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets, flattening each ball lightly with your palm (or bake one batch at a time). Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are just starting to turn golden. Don’t overbake, as these crisp up as they cool.

5. Sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar. Allow to stand for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. With a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to plates until cool.

Posted in Vegan Desserts, Vegan Websites, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

GREEN AND TOTALLY PICKLED!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 27, 2011

You’ve heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s a truly creative approach to a less than ideal circumstance and turns a disappointment into a positive result.

That same inventive philosophy can be applied to nuts grown in regions where they cannot mature properly. Faced with a disappointing crop of walnuts, the English became wildly imaginative. They simply took their unripe walnuts and pickled them!

Check out this link to a unique and very delicious way to enjoy walnuts:

http://gabrielhemery.com/2011/06/13/pickled-walnuts/

Posted in Nut Desserts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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