Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

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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 »

CHOCOLATE PASTA SAUCE? A NUTTY IDEA!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 26, 2012

Combining two dynamically healthful foods–walnuts and chocolate–seemed like a wildly awesome idea, but then, what to do with those two items that end up as a truly original dish — one that almost jumps off the plate and starts to sing.

Walnuts and chocolate already meet up in a ton of cookie, cake, muffin, and dessert recipes. So I had to take that great little duo on a totally new journey into the unknown. That started my crazy little brain thinking about a savory dish, rather than one that’s sweet.

An idea blossoms
I had just bought a big bag of tomatoes and was planning to make a traditional Italian pasta sauce for dinner. Then–click–on went a buzzer. A sizzling idea was arriving! Before long it took shape–and yes–the idea sounded like a possibility–admittedly, a crazy possibility. The idea was so potent I could barely control its compelling tug.

No use fighting the urge, so off I went to the kitchen and began to assemble a delicious, from scratch, homemade pasta sauce with chocolate. Yep, that’s the nearly uncontrollable idea that mentally dragged me into the kitchen and forced me to make pasta sauce with–OMG really?– chocolate.

The traditional pasta sauce itself is actually rather easy and tasty, but not extraordinary. What is exceptional is the addition of chocolate–unsweetened chocolate–the kind one uses in baking. The finishing touch was the coarsely ground walnuts that added not only divine texture, but also a wealth of wholesomeness to the dish.

The ultimate fork test
The scrumptious result was a beautiful, sable-hued pasta sauce with such depth of flavor it simply stood out as irresistibly delicious. Looking at the sauce, no one would ever guess it contained chocolate. Not even tasting the sauce would reveal its secret ingredient. The chocolate is simply hidden within the delectable molecules and oozing with savory richness.

So NutGourmet fans, serve this pasta sauce with gusto–and don’t let the secret out of the bag! It’s ours–just ours, and we’ll keep it that way!

NUTTY CHOCOLATE PASTA SAUCE

Yield: 4 to 5 servings or enough for 1 pound of pasta

3 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 head garlic, finely minced
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts

1.Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and pepper in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15, or until the tomatoes are well broken down and the onions are soft.

2.Add the chocolate and stir continuously for about 2 minutes, or until it is completely melted and thoroughly incorporated. Add salt to taste and cook another 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

3.Just before serving, stir in the walnuts and mix well. Cook another minute and serve.

Note: And don’t forget the Homemade Vegan Parmesan. Scroll down on the page past kale salad recipe.

Posted in Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, Vegan Blogs and Websites, Vegan Websites, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

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 »

WOW! JUST DISCOVERED . . .

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 25, 2012

Until now I have only shared my own original recipes and nut-focused how-tos, along with a host of nut-filled posts from health-oriented nut studies to occasional forays into a touch of silliness.

My resolution for this New Year is to travel beyond the boundaries of nuts and share, explore, and discover websites that post magnificent vegan recipes and food creations deserving of praise and recognition.

I won’t abandon my beloved nuts—I do love them so! And I’ll also share recipes and tidbits from my new cookbook that will be coming out in a few months. The new book, with the working title Gone Vegan for the Holidays, is a bounty of delicious recipes that will make holidays at the vegan table very very special. Book Publishing Company is the publisher.

One exceptional, must-see webhttp://veganmenu.blogspot.com What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway? Drop by for a browse and you’ll quickly find yourself salivating over some of the most innovative and tantalizing vegan dishes you could ever desire.

These creative home chefs have taken vegan cuisine to an artful level and given their readers a ton of visual feasts with enticing food styling. They employ an awesome variety of Mother Nature’s treasures with passion and have mastered the art of stretching the mind with their creations.

Enjoy the charming photographic displays at this website. It’s like treating yourself to a fun day of window shopping.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vegan Blogs and Websites, Vegan Websites | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

 
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