Category Archives: Desserts

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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Mango Madness and a Milestone!

Guess what?! Today is the six month anniversary of Turning Veganese! Wooot!!!! It’s been six months since I decided to go vegan. I can’t believe it. I never dreamed that the blog would become what it is. I had no idea how much I would learn about cooking, food and myself. I can’t believe that it’s only been six months! I’m so thrilled and… goodness, I wish I had planned better for this day because I have so much to say but no idea how to say it.

So, I’ll say this: I am so grateful. Grateful that I can share this with Christie and Brent. Grateful for how rewarding going vegan has been for me personally. And I am especially grateful for you. Yes, YOU! Our lovely and loyal readers. All of your support, comments, knowledge sharing and humor has meant a lot to me. I think I speak for Christie and Brent when I say that we are happy to have met you and to have joined your community.

Lest I embarrass myself, let me get back to business. It is our anniversary week, but I feel like we should declare this week MANGO WEEK on Turning Veganese.

Noooo, not THAT Mango. The fruit!

Oh hello, delicious goodness! This concoction was fresh and easy. I took a manila mango and made three big slices, cutting as close to the pit as I could. I took the two “ends” and used a melon baller to scoop out the meat. Why? Because balls are pretty. Heh. Balls. Ahem. Next, I cut up some strawberries and threw it in the mix. I still had some mint, so I topped it with some mint. Finally, I spotted some crystallized ginger, so I finished it off with some ginger bits.

It’s funny… I used to hate mangoes as a kid. I think it’s because my first memory of mango was in dried form. We use both ripe and unripe mangoes in my household. The unripe ones are eaten in a savory style and can be quite tart — another turnoff for a little kid.

It’s a small victory for me whenever I have fruit because I used to be very fruit deficient. I kept a food diary a few years ago and went over a month without eating fruit. Unbelievable!

Okay, I’m back to being really excited about this being our six month anniversary. Yay! I hope you will all do a celebratory dance for us!! –Melissa

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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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Coconut Lemon Custard PIE!

I got some Meyer lemons at our local market. Is there anything these crazy Floridians won’t grow?
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Anyways, Meyer lemons look like lemon colored oranges and tastes like a lemon would if it wasn’t acidic… at all. They’re mildly fragrant and delicious. I decided to make them into a lemon coconut pie. This is what I started with:
6 Meyer lemons
1 1/2 cup of shredded coconut (unsweetened)
4 tbsp coconut sugar
1/3 cup of cashews
1 box of silken tofu
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional, if you don’t have coconut sugar)
1 tsp of arrowroot starch
1 tsp of vegetable gelatin
1 pinch of salt
I combined the lemon juice (be careful to exclude seeds and any rind from the mix as it will make the pie bitter… like mine was /sadface) tofu, half the coconut, cashews, vanilla extract, sugar, starch, gelatin and salt.
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I blended them until they were smooth and then poured them into a saucepan and heated it to marry the flavors. While I did this, I adjusted the seasonings. After it was steamy and warm, I poured the mixture into a springform pan over a crust in the style of Melissa’s previous raw cheesecake experiments  using another 1/2 cup of coconut in addition to the nuts and dates.
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I sprinkled the remaining coconut over the top and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and them moved it to the refrigerator. The texture was light and smooth.
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I did get a little too much of the rind from the lemons into the custard and it made the end product slightly bitter but it didn’t stop us from devouring most of it.
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The coconut and lemon were complimented beautifully by Melissa’s date crust. WIN!
This is Christie, signing off!
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Adventures in Fruit: Mamey, Rhymes with “Hooray!”

This is one of my favorites. If I hadn’t moved to Miami I would never have never gotten to try this amazing fruit. Did I mention it’s one of my favorites?

It’s flesh is a similar texture to sweet potato but creamier. It’s flavor is like creamy honeyed banana mixed with pear. It’s awesome in flan, milkshakes or with a spoon. I ate this one with a spoon. Another favorite application is to put the flesh into the blender with almond milk and make it into popsicles. Talk about a nutritious refreshing post-work-out snack!

You’ll be able to recognize this fruit by it’s gritty brown skin and its about the size of a Nerf football. They’re ripe when they start to get wrinkly. Cut away the area around the seed and discard the skin. I hope you find one!

This is Christie, signing off.

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The essential vegan: PB&J the ultra easy

If you’re vegan, your go-to sandwich should be peanut butter and jelly. Just because you’re eating the sandwich of your youth doesn’t mean it has to be unsophisticated. A recent favorite is the deconstructed white chocolate peanut butter and apricot jam sandwich.

I’m sorry I don’t have a few pictures of my dried cherry and chocolate almond butter sandwiches from the holiday season. They were AMAZING!

PB&J isn’t a tired ordinary dish if you don’t see it that way. If you’ve got access to good jam and dried fruits, try Peanut Butter and Company for their chocolate, cinnamon raisin and white chocolate peanut butter or Justin’s Nut Butter for organic hazelnut and almond butter (chocolate too!). Bottom line: fruit and nuts are delicious and rich in nutrients, together or apart. Nourish your body and senses with both.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Adventures in fruit: papayayayayayaaaa!

That’s a battle cry. Right?

Papaya is known as a folk remedy for stomach upset. The presence of a heat stable enzyme called “papain” lends credence to this claim as an aid to digestion. Otherwise, it’s loaded with all the standard vitamins and minerals and is delicious to boot. Get to know this familiar stranger. I like mine with a squeeze of lime. I think the tart citrus balances out the honey sweet fruit for a perfect breakfast.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Adventures in fruit: Intergalactic planetary!

This is something many of you may be familiar with – starfruit.

It’s about the flavor of an apple with a rubbery outer skin and the texture of pear… maybe? Anyways, this striking fruit is better known for it’s shape than it’s flavor and makes awesome vegan gluten-free, soy-free decorations for cakes and pies.

If you see it, I hope you’ll give it a try.

This is Christie, signing off!

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