Tag Archives: dessert

Oh My Freaking Pie

I have these moments when I find myself smelling a cheeseburger or fried chicken, or I have a nasty craving for a hot dog. A small part of me says, “Hey, it’s okay to give in” while the rest of me says, “The gastrointestinal consequences are NOT worth it.”

Then there are moments when being vegan is the bomb. Like when I’m shopping and I spot it: Vegan Cherry Pie!

I can’t put into words how f’ing delicious this was. Guilt-free, 100% vegan, cherry pie. I don’t know how they did it and I don’t need to know. I’m just happily enjoying it.

Here’s to a short and sweet post! –Melissa

 

 

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Nuts about Flowers: Rose Pistachio Chia Pudding

Rose is one of my favorite flavors. I’m not big on the flowers themselves but as a food ingredient I think rose is the bees knees. I’m known to add a little rose syrup to a glass of sparkling white wine every now and again (I especially love Spanish cava!) so I’ve got rose syrup just lying around. I have long wanted to make rose pistachio rice pudding but have been too lazy to cook rice… that’s kind of sad. Anyways, I was recently introduced to the joys of chia seed pudding and it’s quickly become a house favorite.

I wanted to use rose with pistachio to flavor chia seed pudding; I just had an inkling that the two would work well together. I also wanted to see the pink and green together.  I combined the following:

1 tsp rose syrup (more if you like it sweet)

1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

about 10 pistachios, shelled and crushed

2 generous pinches of food grade rose petals

I combined the seeds, syrup and almond milk and set it aside for about half an hour.

I shelled and crushed the pistachios and mixed them into the pudding and garnished with a little pinch of petals and nuts. I LOVED how the nutty, salty vanilla roasted flavors in the pistachios picked up the delicate rose and made it warm and earthy in addition to being deeply floral.

I love how the pink rose petals offset the green of the pistachios against the calico pudding. The petals aren’t necessary for good pudding, I’m just secretly artsy. If you use your own petals, be careful that they weren’t treated with any chemical herbicide, pesticide or fungicide that might make you or your family sick. This is common with roses you might buy at your local florist.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Suman and Mango

One of the wonderful things about Filipino food and veganism is that a lot of Filipino sweets are vegan as-is. One vegan sweet is suman, sticky sweet rice and coconut milk that is steamed, usually in a banana leaf. Suman is a nice treat with fresh sweet mango:

We like to leave the making of suman to those who do it better than we do. We have several of this particular suman in our freezer and steam them when we want to eat them.

This particular suman was perfectly sweet. Sometimes, we dip suman in sugar or a thick cocoa. Another way to sweeten suman as you’re eating it is to dip it in latik, which is reduced coconut milk. Now that I think of it, there are probably a lot of great ways to use latik as a sweetener. I will have to experiment with that! (Sorry, I didn’t have latik this time so no photos!)

Suman and mango make a great combination: it’s a great vegan alternative to mango ice cream or dairy shakes. I actually prefer it to mango ice cream.

I love it when I get to enjoy my favorite foods without having to veganize them! –Melissa

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Let Them Eat Cake! I’ll Have Fruit Instead.

It’s really starting to feel like summer here in Chicago! We had some crazy 80 degree weather at the end of March, but that was a complete freak show, weather-wise. It’s mid-May now, so the warmer weather is a lot more appropriate, and much more springy and refreshing: it’s warm but breezy, and cool in the AM and PM. Perfection. Outdoor Farmers Markets are starting up again in full force, I got to indulge in mangoes during peak mango season, and street festivals will be starting soon. I’m pretty freaking excited!

It was a bit of a letdown this past weekend when the Mother’s Day desserts were brought out and none of them were vegan. I passed on having a slice of marzipan cake, which is my absolute favorite, you guys. However, I made up for it by making myself a fresh treat for dessert this evening:

I started with a handful of pretty strawberries. Hey, they match my nail color!

Then I took a sprig of mint…

I cut up the strawberries and shredded a bit of the mint and mixed it together. But, wait! There’s more! I kept thinking that it was missing something, and the missing ingredient I couldn’t stop thinking about was Cool Whip. I blame Mad Men, which had a Cool Whip bit on last week’s episode. Cool Whip is not cool for strict vegans. So I sprinkled some fresh lemon juice and coconut onto the fruit (I stole the lemon juice idea from Jamie Oliver’s recipe; the coconut was all me).

DELISH! Let them eat cake. I’ll have fruit instead! –Melissa

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Hopia Experiment #1: Hope-less-ia

Hopia is a Filipino dessert that is typically made with mung bean, but is also made with ube (purple yam) or baboy (pork, which I found nasty even in my pre-vegan days). Hopia is very possibly my favorite Filipino dessert. The only thing that makes traditional hopia non-vegan is the egg wash that is brushed on the pastry before it is baked. I bought some yellow mung beans and decided to try making my own hopia. I’m very much not thrilled with how it turned out so I won’t go into specifics on ingredients, but I’m posting this because I like seeing how my cooking skills improve (or not) and want to learn from my mistakes. Someday, in the next 40 years or so, I will get over the trauma of this experience and try making it again.

First, I got my mung beans and soaked them for about 4 hours. Three hours in, I started working on my dough. I despise flour and dough and proportions and mixing.

Two doughs are required for hopia. Pictured above is Dough #1. It’s flour and oil, proportioned and mixed into loose crumbs. I honestly don’t know if this is how Dough #1 was supposed to turn out. Dough #2 was more traditional. By this time, I was so tired and annoyed (it took two tries to get both doughs right) that I didn’t bother to take photos. Basically, you’re supposed to flatten Dough #2, sprinkle it with Dough #1, and then roll it into a log. Uh, yeah. That didn’t happen. I just ended up mixing the two doughs together.

Four hours passed. I drained and rinsed the mung beans (yes, the water turns yellow).

Then, I put the mung beans in a pot, added enough water to cover it, and brought it to a boil, mixing until the beans got soft and it started to get pasty. Keep an eye on the beans!

I took the beans out, added salt, and then tried mooshing them into a paste. That did NOT work, so I put them in a food processor, which did the trick. I added the agave nectar and then microwaved the filling to dry it out. I dried it out until it was about the consistency of mashed potatoes. I thought I was a genius, but I had to keep in mind that I would still be baking this; my filling ended up being pretty dry. Note: I could have just eaten this with a spoon at this point.

I took an ice cream scooper and formed the filling into balls so that I would know how many piece to divide my dough into.

Now it was time to make the pastry. In theory, you’re supposed to flatten the dough into a very thin layer, place the filling on top, and then pick up the rest of the dough to cover it up in a ball and flatten it. I tried! They did turn out pretty, in my humble opinion. I brushed the tops of the hopia with almond milk and then put them in the oven.

Here are the finished hopia, done and baked. I added some almond slivers to a few of them, and put almond slivers on top to indicate so. The hopia were OK – the filling tasted sweet enough but could have used more agave nectar. I’m reluctant to try stevia and I even have some reservations about agave nectar, but I didn’t want to use regular sugar.

Coincidentally, my Dad showed up with real hopia, so here’s a comparison. It’s a little hard to tell, but the real hopia has a flakier pastry and yellower filling.

Anyone have any advice for my next try? I am completely baking-challenged! Thankfully, I know an awesome lady who makes wonderful hopia, so I will happily eat hers for the time being (removing the top later to avoid the egg wash).

hopia have a great day! –Melissa

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Macaroons… funny name, serious snack.

I love macaroons and have found that raw cookies resembling macaroons are a staple in vegan cuisine. Still, I’ve been craving the real thing. Shredded coconut is high in fiber and saturated fat. You might think, “this chick is terrified of fat… what’s she doing with coconut?” The saturated fat in coconut is largely composed of fatty acids like lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic acids. Maybe now you’re thinking, “speak English, woman!”

Fun fact: your brain is the fattiest organ in your body – almost 2/3 of it is fat. Your brain is kind of like a huge incredibly intricate ball of electrical wiring, except instead of using rubber and plastic to insulate the wiring, it uses fat. Fatty acids like those found in coconut and other tree nuts, avocado, olives, and certain grains like flax make excellent building blocks for your brain. The fiber in these foods also makes it easier for your body to absorb these important nutrients.

Okay, now my brain hurts from thinking too hard and I must replenish it with macaroons. You’re going to need the following ingredients.

1.5 teaspoons EnerG egg replacer or starch
4 tablespoons almond or soy milk
2 tbsp syrup (agave nectar, maple, whatever kind you like)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tbsp almond or cashew nut butter (peanut butter works in a pinch but has it’s own distinct flavor, cashew and almond are more neutral)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (omit the 2 tbsp of sugar if you get sweetened shredded coconut)
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, if you want chocolate macaroons!)
Preheat oven to 325F/160C degrees. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment and grease it lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl, stirring and perhaps microwaving to get them to blend well. When everything is uniformly mixed, combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. It should form a semi-dry dough.
Place rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet you prepared earlier. I ended up mooshing them into appropriate shapes with my hands and then making an indentation in the middle with the bottom of the spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes. For an additional 5 minutes, watch the macaroons closely and take them out of the oven if the edges start to get too brown. Pick up the edges of the parchment carefully and place the parchment on a clean dry towel on a cool surface to cool. Makes 8 or so cookies. I drizzled mine with some cocoa that I melted with coconut sugar and cocoa butter.
This is Christie, signing off. OMNOM!
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Adventures in Fruit: Under the Bed!

This post is about monster fruit and dragon fruit – two fruits that I decided to try for no reason other than that they’re fascinating. I’m actually not new to dragon fruit. I have seen it in Central America, California and Florida. I hope you find it at your market.

I’ve seen flesh in these fruits, yellow, hot pink, and white. It tastes like and has the mouth feel of kiwi but not as acidic.

The next new fruit on the menu is called “monstera” or monster fruit.

This particular fruit is rather amazing. It reminds me of pineapple. As the fruit ripens and dark green outer scales fall off, pale white flesh is revealed. I tried pulling it off with my fingers but that got messy. I ended up eating it like corn on the cob. It tastes like pina colada. I hope you get to try this one too. I hope I find it again.

This is Christie, signing off to look for more terrifying fruit!

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Adventures in Fruit

I made a post not long ago about egg fruit and black sapote, two fruits grown here in South Florida. http://turningveganese.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/culinary-adventures/

I know why egg fruit is called egg fruit: the ripe fruit has the texture and appearance of a hard boiled egg yolks. It had one seed in the middle and was dry in texture. They taste like a cross between banana and sweet potato with a touch of vanilla. It might sound weird but I’d buy it again. I suspect it would make an amazing vegan flan.

Now on to the black sapote, also called “chocolate fruit”. I was told to eat the fruit when it started to get noticeably soft and wrinkly. The pulp was smooth and had 8 hard brown seeds reminiscent of lima beans. This bad boy was the color, texture and flavor of really good chocolate pudding. I bought 5 more this weekend at my farmer’s market to take with me to work for lunch this week. I’m looking forward to having this one made into custard or just chilled, just like the snack-packs of my youth. I’m really glad I decided to branch out and try both of these.

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Strawberry crisp: delicious, easy, healthy… what’s not to like?

I went strawberry picking with some friends Sunday. You might ask, “it’s the middle of December and you’re doing WHAT!?” It’s Florida, our weather is so good it’s criminal.
I’m going to make a quick note about sugar before we start. You might notice that I haven’t listed granulated sugar in any of the recipes I’ve submitted to this forum. It’s always molasses, agave nectar, etc. The granulated sugar that you buy at the supermarket isn’t vegan. It’s bleached using the charred bones of animals. If that wasn’t icky enough, brown sugar is granulated white sugar mixed with molasses. WTF?
Anyways, other available sweeteners have unique flavors and nutrients that are removed from granulated sugar during processing. For example, I use molasses for most of my sugar needs. I like that it comes from plants and has iron in it. Girls need a little extra iron, right? Ounce for ounce, molasses has almost 3 times the iron of beef and none of the cholesterol. Black strap molasses has a unique earthy flavor robust enough to eat drizzled over plain tofu. I also like maple syrup because it’s delicious and promotes preservation of old growth forests. It has a light woody flavor that’s great for cookies and cakes. Sometimes I get granulated coconut sugar at my farmer’s market. It’s lightly fragrant and creamy in flavor. I’m a big fan of agave and rice nectar: both have low glycemic indexes and a light mellow honey-like flavor but it’s beginning to sound like all unrefined sugars are my favorite. Let’s talk strawberry crisp. In this recipe I used turbinado sugar (which is actually semi-refined sugar) but granulated coconut or maple sugar work fine.
You can use any kind of sweet non-citrus fruit for this recipe as far as I’m concerned. Frozen or fresh – it doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s ripe. I’ve done this with peaches, apples, blueberries, and today I’m using strawberries.
5 cups fresh fruit, pitted and sliced (I like to leave the peel on but you can take it off)
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
2 tbsp corn starch, tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tsp)
I just mixed them directly in a glass baking dish
For the topping,
1 cup quinoa flakes or rolled oats
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (granulated maple or coconut sugar are fine too but harder to find)
1/2 cup flour (I used rice but whatever kind you like)
almond milk to texture
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
cinnamon or pumpkin spice to taste
In a medium sized bowl, stir the dry ingredients together.
Work the olive oil in, and then the almond milk. Stop adding when it starts to get crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake 375F/190C, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the topping starts to brown.
Serve hot and enjoy! Soy or coconut milk ice cream is an excellent compliment.
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Raw Cheesecake Experiment #1

Confession: I think I am a failure when it comes to baking. I burn cookies. I don’t keep cakes in the oven long enough. Pastries fall apart. Things that are supposed to be firm are simply goop. So I was pretty excited when I heard about raw cheesecake – not necessarily because it’s vegan, but because it is a no-bake dessert. I first had raw cheesecake when I went to the Chicago Diner while Christie was in town. I was blown away by how creamy and tasty it was and then even more blown away knowing that it was a raw food. I always thought, “hmm, I should try making some raw cheesecake,” but it wasn’t until I started this blog that I had the motivation to do so.

I visited what seems like several web sites to come up with my own raw cheesecake recipe. Here are the ingredients I used for Raw Cheesecake Experiment #1. Make sure you read this entire post as there are certain things I will definitely change about the ingredients/measurements the next time I make this.

For the crust:
1 cup almonds
12 dates, softened

For the filling:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked
2/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water

Before you do anything, measure out the cashews and soak them in water. I soaked them for one hour. Longer than that is probably much better. Some sites say to do it overnight, others didn’t mention soaking them at all. When I make raw cheesecake #2, I think I will try to soak them for 3-4 hours. Another to-do before you begin is to take your jar of coconut oil and stick it in a bowl of hot water so that it’s melted by the time you need it.

Start by making the crust. Soften the dates first by steaming them for a few minutes, and then remove the seeds if needed. Then, combine the almonds and dates using a food processor. Now, I adore my mini food processor. It has never let me down. Then again, I have never jammed almonds and sticky dates into it. I’m still not sure what the most efficient method is for combining these without wanting to give up, but I eventually ended up with a good result. More confession time: I used almonds because I saw one recipe that used them and I already had them. Next time, I’m going with pecans or walnuts.

The mixture should be tasty and a bit sticky. Get your favorite cheesecake pan (8″ is ideal, the pan I used was too big). Take the crust mixture and press it down into the pan. Try to make it as smooth and uniform in height as possible. I like using the bottom of a measuring cup to help with that sort of thing.

Now, grab the rest of your ingredients and mix them together in a blender, using the water as needed. A lot of the recipes I saw called for a 1:1:1 ratio for the lemon juice, coconut oil, and agave nectar. Next time, I am cutting down on the lemon juice as my cheesecake came out a bit tart for my taste (my brother said it was more like ‘key lime pie’ instead of ‘cheese’cake). You should end up with a thick mixture that you can easily pour and smooth into the pan over your crust. Put the cheesecake in the fridge or freezer to set for at least one hour.

This cheesecake was kid-approved! It tasted great plain, but I also tried it with some chocolate syrup and topped with pomegranate seeds. I imagine it would be great with the cherry topping that Christie made for her ‘cheese’cake.

I wish I had pictures of the other steps in the process, but my hands were really sticky from the dates and I was cursing in the kitchen from how challenging this recipe ended up being, so I wasn’t exactly in the picture-taking mood. At any rate, this was a great learning experience for me, and I’m eager to try again and make it more interesting: add cinnamon, fruit, cocoa to the filling… if you have ramekins, you can easily make individual cheesecakes if you’re having a dinner party or just want to be fancy.

Raw cheesecake is a great dessert. It’s healthy, and no animals had to die in order for me to make it. Plus, it’s soy- and gluten-free in addition to being vegan. If you’re in Chicago and not up for making your own, definitely check it out at The Chicago Diner.

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