Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices

img_3146     This Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices is perfect for Fall, and good enough for Thanksgiving too.  I love it.  Sauté shallots and a little garlic in olive oil and white wine, add an apple and a bit of real maple syrup for sweetness.  Warming spices and coconut milk round it out.  Dress it up any which way, with homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple slices, etc.

INGREDIENTS
2.5 to 3 lb. butternut squash  (cooked, seeded, peeled and chopped)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 Cup chopped shallots  (about 6 shallots, depending on size)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf,  one thyme sprig
1 Cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric  (for color–you won’t taste it)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
4 Cups vegetable stock
1/2 Cup coconut creamer or coconut milk
one single star anise

Any toppings you desire, such as homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple bits, etc.

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter and then add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric, and cook 3-5 minutes more.  Add squash, chopped apple, maple syrup, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and the single anise star.  Cook on low simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf, thyme and star anise.  Let soup cool.

Puree soup in blender.  Re-heat and serve with any toppings you desire.

Notes:  I like Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” base for this soup, but any vegetable stock will do.  Substitute onion for the shallots if necessary.   An easy way to cook the squash is to poke some slits down one side with a sharp knife, and then place it in a baking dish with about an inch of water.  Place in cold oven, set oven to 375 and bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  I add the anise star later in the cooking process so it doesn’t overpower the other flavors, but instead gives a delicate hint.

Vegan Caramelized Carrot Risotto

IMG_2868     After seeing the movie The Fault in Our Stars where they eat the Dragon Carrot Risotto, I knew I had to make it.  So last Fall, I ordered organic seeds from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, and began planning a few dishes to make.   I found this recipe online and veganized it.  Swapping out the animal products still produced a classic, restaurant-style risotto, with a real flavor of parmesan.  Caramelizing the carrots is genius, and this is good enough for company, for a birthday, or even for Thanksgiving.  In the end, I did use a mélange of carrot cultivars to make this dish, because that day, along with the Dragon carrots, I also pulled Cosmic Purple carrots and Atomic Red carrots from the ground.   This dish makes a lot and reheats well.

VEGAN CARAMELIZED CARROT RISOTTO

Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided  (not canola oil)
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, divided
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely and evenly as possible (about 3 Cups)
(I used a food processor for the carrots)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base)
1/3 Cup minced onion
1.5 Cups Arborio rice
1/2 Cup dry white wine
1/4 Cup vegan cream cheese  (I like Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup vegan parmesan, I like Go Veggie Vegan Grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon finely-chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 Tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon roughly-chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon vegan butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Add carrots and stir until well coated.  Ad 1/2 Cup water, salt and sugar, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender.  Uncover and cook a few minutes more, stirring occasionally until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown.  Reserve half of these cooked carrots.  In a blender, puree the other half with 3/4 Cup hot water.

Bring broth to a simmer and keep hot, covered, over low heat.

In same (unwashed) pot used for carrots, heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add rice, stirring to coat rice with oil, 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring until wine evaporates.  Add carrot puree and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.

Add 1/2 Cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid.  Repeat process, adding 1/2 Cup broth at a time and stirring often until each addition of broth is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes).  At least 1 Cup of broth will remain.

Set aside 2 Tablespoons of the caramelized carrots.  Fold in the remaining carrots, cream cheese, parmesan, 1 Tablespoon parsley, and the thyme.  Add up to 1 Cup broth (1/4 Cup at a time) to loosen the risotto.  Season with pepper.

Garnish each bowl of risotto with the remaining parsley and reserved carrots.  Serve immediately.

Notes:  Better Than Bouillon also makes a very good Seasoned Vegetable Base that would work fine.  When reheating, add some leftover broth or water to loosen it up again.

cropped-IMG_2825.jpg  Organic carrots from my garden.

Beet and Lemon Shrub using canned beets

IMG_2079     Cheers and Happy New Year  to you!  This recipe was inspired by a mocktail I had at Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia.  On the menu, it was called Pickpocket Soda, and it was described as a Beet Sage Shrub with Lemon.  My recipe here is adapted from the Beet and Lemon Shrub Cocktail from Russ and Daughters delicatessen in New York City, and (after three tries) it tastes remarkably like the drink I liked so much at Vedge.  I found the Russ and Daughters recipe a bit too watery, so I’ve reduced the water by 20%.  I increased the vinegar to be closer to the normal shrub ratio, and I also switched to a white balsamic vinegar (rather than plain white vinegar) which gives a smoother flavor.  My big trick here is that I used canned beets, which might seem like blaspheme to some, but it came out delicious, and it makes this so quick and easy to throw together.  This is a cold-process sweet shrub, to give a bright and fresh flavor.  One reason for using canned or cooked fresh beets is that many people cannot eat raw beets or drink raw beet juice because it can cause an allergic reaction or a sore, swollen throat, which can be dangerous.  Of course, many people can enjoy raw beets, so you could try to eat a tiny sliver of raw beet and see if your throat reacts.  I tried eating a sliver of raw beet and had a sore throat all day.  Please see my post on growing beets for more of an explanation.  Back to the recipe–you can use this shrub in a variety of beverages, from sodas to cocktails.  I don’t drink alcohol, but Lars made a cocktail with about 4 oz. of shrub, a couple splashes of seltzer and a shot of fancy gin, and he says it’s really good.  The cookbook Shrubs by Michael Dietsch is a great little guide to this ancient and historic libation.  If you really want to go crazy, you can try this drink called The Hot Pink, but it only makes enough for one drink, unlike my base  which makes plenty!

BEET AND LEMON SHRUB

Makes somewhat less than two quarts, I think.

Special Equipment:  a juicer

INGREDIENTS
2 15 oz. cans whole or sliced beets, drained  (or equivalent amt. of fresh cooked beets)
1 Cup fresh lemon juice  (from about 5 large lemons,  or 6 medium lemons)
1/2 Cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup vegan cane sugar
4 Cups filtered water
chilled seltzer water to add some fizz to individual drinks, if desired

DIRECTIONS
Squeeze lemons and set the fresh lemon juice aside.  Drain the beets and discard any liquid from the cans.  Juice the beets (you will end up with approximately 1/2 Cup of pure beet juice).  In a large glass (non-reactive) container, whisk together all ingredients until sugar is fully dissolved.  Refrigerate 48 hours before using.  Some people prefer to leave shrubs at room temperature for a day or two before refrigerating, to let more fermentation occur.  Some online sources say a shrub should last several months to a year in the refrigerator.

Notes:   I tried using Lakewood bottled lemon juice and the flavor was significantly better with the fresh lemon juice.  I also tried using the beet liquid from the cans, but it muddied up the flavor–don’t do it.  Chlorine and Chloramines interfere with fermentation, and a shrub is a fermented beverage.  If you cannot get filtered water, leave tap water out for a couple of days–long enough for any chlorine to evaporate.  You can check with your water supplier to find out if your tap water has chloramines in it, which do not evaporate and cannot be boiled off.  Filtered water is best.  Other beet posts on this site include Growing BeetsCinnamon Stick Quick Pickled BeetsRoasted Beet Salad, and Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers and Red Onion.

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IMG_2177  One of my essential old kitchen tools that really came in handy for this recipe.  Lemon squeezer by IMUSA.  Tip: cut the ends off the lemons to get the best squeeze.

Zippys Chili Recipe Gone Vegan

IMG_1881    My parents called from Hawaii yesterday, and they had just been to Zippys for breakfast.  It reminded me that I used to like Zippys chili (it’s famous in Hawaii).  After looking at copycat recipes online, I made a vegan version, and it’s really good–a keeper.  Although I’ve made several vegan chilis before, this one is just a bit meatier and richer than the others, and it really does remind me of Zippys.  I could see serving this easy dish for the Superbowl, or any game day.  If you want a healthier vegan chili, try this Perfect Vegetable Chili with Quinoa.  I like to serve chili with these Fruited Cornbread Muffins, or Tostitos Original Restaurant Style chips, Tofutti Cream Cheese, fresh avocado, etc.  More photos below.

ZIPPYS VEGAN CHILI

INGREDIENTS
11 oz. package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles  (or other ground beef substitute)
15 oz. can Kidney beans, with liquid from can
15 oz. can tomato sauce
10 oz. can Ro-Tel Mild Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies  (use 1/2 can, or more to taste)
2 teaspoons peanut oil (or grapeseed oil or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Vegenaise Reduced Fat vegan mayo  (the secret ingredient)
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (No Beef, or Vegetarian,  or No Chicken flavor)
1 Tablespoon Sherry Cooking Wine, (or red wine, or vinegar)
2 teaspoons minced dried onions  (from the spices aisle)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire, such as Wizard brand  (it’s delicious)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt  (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cinnamon  (a pinch equals 1/16th teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in small stock pot, and sauté onion and bell pepper.  Set beans aside for now, but add all other ingredients and simmer on medium heat for 5 or 10 minutes.  Add beans and bean liquid just before serving and stir them gently into the chili.  Serve with Tofutti Cream Cheese, fresh avocado, nacho chips, etc.

Notes:  I avoid canola oil for purposes of flavor.  I prefer Eden Organic beans because they use kombu to “salt” their beans, but any kidney beans will do.  If you want it spicier, add the full can of Ro-Tel, or the Ro-Tel can simply be put out to dollop on bowls for those who like it hotter.  The mayonnaise might seem an odd addition to this recipe but it’s rumored to be the secret ingredient in Zippys Chili, and it does seem to add an unctuous richness.  I reduced the mayo by 75% here and the chili still tastes really good.  I deleted the MSG from the original recipes, but if you want to add it back in, use about 1/2 teaspoon.  I grew up eating a lot of Ajinomoto, and I didn’t miss it here.
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Vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

IMG_2784    These vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits are especially good.   If we follow a few simple guidelines, Southern biscuits are easy to make.  With the addition of mashed sweet potato whisked into the vegan buttermilk, these achieve a bit of nutrition, and a lovely golden color.  The sweet potato flavor is not pronounced, so don’t look for it.  These would make good vegan ham biscuits.  Other vegan biscuits on this site include Yogurt Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits by Nava Atlas, and plain Buttermilk Biscuits.

VEGAN SOUTHERN SWEET POTATO BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Makes about 6-12 biscuits depending on cutter size

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups self-rising flour  (I used Gold Medal)
1/4 Cup Spectrum All-Vegetable Organic Shortening
2/3 Cup cooked finely-mashed sweet potato, chilled
3/4 Cup full-fat plain soy milk  (I used WestSoy)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

BUTTER GLAZE
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder  (no more)

DIRECTIONS
Put rolling pin and pastry cutter in freezer.  Cut shortening into chunks and chill in  freezer.  In a mug, stir vinegar into plant milk and chill in fridge (this is your buttermilk).  Measure flour into bowl and chill in fridge.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a very small dish, stir garlic powder into melted vegan butter.

With pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until lumps are pea sized or smaller.  Whisk mashed sweet potato into buttermilk until well blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour and stir with a wooden spoon just until dough comes together.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and gently fold dough over onto itself 4 or 5 times, adding more flour by the Tablespoon if the dough is sticky.  Folding the dough creates the layers.  Gently roll dough out until it’s 1/2 inch tall, no less.  Cut out biscuits close together with a biscuit cutter, using a straight up-and-down motion–do not twist cutter.  Lay each biscuit immediately upon the baking sheet.  Brush all biscuits with the melted butter.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown (not brown).  Remove from oven and immediately brush biscuits with butter again.

Notes:  If freezing biscuits, freeze the cut-out biscuits unbaked.  Then bake from frozen as normal.  If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can use an empty 15-oz. can.  If you don’t want to use parchment paper, make sure to use a greased shiny silver baking sheet, because dark baking sheets can over-brown the biscuit bottoms.   Here’s a good  video.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey

IMG_1221  I meant to try this Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey last year, but never got to it.  This comes with gravy and stuffing, which I promptly discarded (see postscript at bottom).  I served this with homemade sides:  classic stuffing dressing with apples and pecans, baked stuffed potatoes, cranberry sauce with Kirschwasser and Cherry, and Golden Gravy with chanterelle mushrooms.  We also had some delicious Treeline Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese as an appetizer, with some sparkling cider, and a salad.  For dessert, we had a choice of Pumpkin Pie with Streusel or Pear Crisp.  I basted the non-GMO vegan turkey with a glaze of vegan butter, a teensy bit of maple syrup and sea salt.  My review is that I was very happy with this soy turkey.  The “skin” on the outside does mimic turkey skin, and it could not be easier to make.  I rinsed it, patted it dry, baked it on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet for 45 minutes, with a basting after 15 minutes and again after 30 minutes.  The basting also helped the appearance.  I do recommend stuffing the turkey as it keeps the whole thing moist, but you will need to bake additional stuffing/dressing on the side, because you cannot fit much inside this bird.  I would guess it serves about 10 people and is a great solution for those transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian diet.  Lars is vegetarian and really liked it.  It slices beautifully, and makes the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever had, great for leftovers.  If you eat a bit by itself, there is a faint hint of soy flavor, but with the other sides, you don’t notice it, and in a sandwich, it’s non-existent.  I would definitely buy this again.  This turkey can be bought from Vegan Essentials online, and also from the Healthy Eating Catalog.  Sometimes they run out, so get your order in when you can.  Additional photos below.    Postscript:  Nov. 2014.  Lars requested this turkey again, so I made it and am just as happy.  However, I decided to try the stuffing and the gravy this time, for you all.  I simply sautéed chopped acidulated Fuji apple, and onions, and then used half the dry stuffing and followed all other directions, and it was decent.  About the gravy, it was TERRIBLE–don’t do it, make your own!
IMG_1230  Slices like a dream, and makes killer turkey sandwiches for leftovers.
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IMG_1215  We really liked this cheese on crackers.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make little canapés with it either.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel

IMG_1169    This is basically Gena Hamshaw’s pumpkin pie, but I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and also put a pecan streusel on it.  It’s thickened with cashews instead of eggs, and it’s delicious.  The photo above is old.  In 2015, I replaced the molasses with pure maple syrup, to lighten up the color and flavor.

VEGAN PUMPKIN PIE WITH PECAN STREUSEL

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS FOR PIE
1 single pie crust, such as my pate brisee
2.5 Cups pumpkin puree  (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 Cup cashews, soaked 3+ hours (or overnight)  and drained of soaking water
3/4 Cup demerara, brown, or cane sugar
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup  (instead of molasses)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves  (1/16th teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

INGREDIENTS FOR STREUSEL
1/4 Cup chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Stick
1/4 Cup flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 Teaspoon fine sea salt
tiny pinch cinnamon

DIRECTIONS
Roll out pie crust and place in pie pan, pinch the edges decoratively, and put it in the fridge.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make streusel:  Melt butter.  In small mixing bowl, dry whisk all other streusel ingredients.  Add melted butter, stir well to combine.  Set aside.

Blend all pie-filling ingredients in a food processor until super smooth.  I used a Vitamix instead, see photo below.  The mixture should be quite thick, but if it’s too thick, you can thin it with a Tablespoon or two of water or non-dairy milk (I did not thin it).  Spoon into the crust, smooth over, and put a pie shield on the pinched edges of the crust.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Add streusel to the top of the pie, and then bake 15-20 minutes more until edges of the crust are golden brown and the filling is dark.  Let cool completely before serving.  Serve with Coconut Whipped Cream or So Delicious CocoWhip.

Notes:  This is a great time to use fresh pumpkin, but canned is perfectly great too.  If you don’t have a pie shield, lightly crumple tin foil over the edges of your pie crust, to keep it from over-cooking.  Next time, I would possibly use all pure maple syrup, and no molasses, but it’s great this way too!
IMG_1156  Filling blended w/cashews in Vitamix.

Cranberry Sauce with Kirschwasser and Cherry

IMG_1145    This might be the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever made.  To temper the astringency of the cranberries, I’ve paired them with cherry brandy and 100% real cherry juice.  I used a potato masher on the cooked sauce to give it a smoother texture while leaving a bit of Early American rusticity.  Kirschwasser is a clear brandy distilled from a fermented mash of cherries.  I’ll use the leftover cherry juice in the juicer, but you could make cocktails with it, or drink it straight in the morning, because it’s great for inflammation.  I don’t drink, but with the leftover Kirschwasser, you could make festive cherry Sidecars for the Thanksgiving bar too.  If you don’t want any alcohol in the house, just substitute more cherry juice for the Kirschwasser.   p.s.  There are three other cranberry sauces on this site:  Classic Cranberry SauceHoliday Cranberry Sauce,  and Cranberry Sauce with Amontillado Sherry.

CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH KIRSCHWASSER AND CHERRY

Makes about 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. fresh cranberries
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup Kirschwasser  (I used Dekuyper brand)
1/2 Cup 100% cherry juice  (I used R.W. Knudsen Just Tart Cherry Juice)

DIRECTIONS
Bring cranberries, sugar and Kirschwasser to simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium or medium-low heat.  Stir until sugar has dissolved, a minute or two.  Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cherry juice.  Mash gently with a potato masher until it’s the consistency you want.  Cool completely.  Freeze or keep in refrigerator up to one week, in an airtight container.

Note:  If you don’t want to use the alcohol, just use more cherry juice instead of the Kirschwasser.

Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon Zest and Candied Hazelnuts

IMG_1037    Neither of us were crazy about Brussels Sprouts, until now.  I adapted this recipe from a non-vegan cookbook, and made some quick-candied hazelnuts.  These Brussels sprouts are still a bit crisp in texture, and bright with fresh lemon.  For me, the nuts added a missing element.

HASHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH LEMON ZEST AND CANDIED HAZELNUTS

Serves 5 or 6

INGREDIENTS
Juice of one medium lemon, plus grated zest of 2 lemons.
1 pound of Brussels sprouts
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 garlic clove, mashed and minced
2 teaspoons black poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons white wine or vermouth
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 Cup chopped raw hazelnuts  (or pecans)
1 Tablespoon vegan butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

DIRECTIONS
Place lemon juice in a large non-metal bowl.  Cut bottoms well off sprouts and discard.  Peel any less-than-perfect leaves off each sprout and discard.  Halve sprouts lengthwise, and thinly slice them crosswise.  As you work, transfer slices into bowl with lemon juice.  When all sprouts are sliced, toss them well in the lemon juice with a non-metal spoon, and cover and refrigerate the sprouts for 15 minutes or up to three hours.

For candied hazelnuts:  in a very small skillet or saucepan, heat the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and salt on medium heat.  Add chopped hazelnuts and cook and stir until you see a tinge of golden brown on a few of the nuts, this takes just a few minutes.  Set candied nuts on a clean plate.  Do not set them on paper towels, or they will stick.

When ready to serve, in a large skillet heat oil and butter over medium heat.  When hot, add sprouts, garlic and poppy seeds, and cook, stirring often, until sprouts are lightly cooked, but still bright green and crisp, about 4 minutes.

Add wine and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring for 1 minute more.  Turn off heat and stir in lemon zest, reserving a little zest for the top of the dish.  Transfer to a serving bowl or platter, sprinkle with some of the candied hazelnuts and the remaining zest, and serve.

Notes:  I recommend prepping some of the ingredients early, to save time, because the actual cooking is fairly quick.   I tried making them with vermouth but did not care for it.  When buying Brussels sprouts, look for fresh, green compact sprouts.  Wilted or yellow leaves are signs of age or mishandling.  Give them a sniff–old sprouts have a strong, cabbage-like odor.  Store up to three days in refrigerator.  The older they are, the less appealing their smell and flavor.  Overcooking also renders Brussels sprouts unappealing (in my opinion).

Maple Glazed Walnuts

IMG_0893    These quick and easy Maple Glazed Walnuts are perfect for the Autumnal salad, alongside bitter greens, dried cranberries, etc.  If there are leftovers, I sprinkle them on a bowl of hot oatmeal, granola or vegan yogurt.  These take 5 to 6 minutes to make, literally.

MAPLE GLAZED WALNUTS

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw walnuts
3 Tablespoons good/pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS
In a medium-size skillet, toast the walnuts (occasionally stirring) over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn heat to low, drizzle the syrup over the walnuts and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until walnuts are glazed and there is no wet syrup left in the bottom of the skillet, about 3 minutes.  Cool on a plate and store in a jar.

SPICY AFRICAN PEANUT STEW

IMG_0112   This recipe is from the Peas and Thank You vegan cookbook  by Sarah Matheny.  I first heard about it on the Indy Vegan Family podcast.    This is possibly more of a cold-weather recipe as it has beautiful, warming spices, but I needed something to make for supper that night and had all the ingredients.  It was quick to put together, and it made a lot, so I froze some for quick lunches.  Lars ate two bowls.  It’s a nice, rich soup, so packed with protein and fiber that you won’t be hungry until the next day.  I put a spoonful of peanut butter right in the center of my steaming bowl of stew, and it was so good.  A few salted peanuts scattered over it as a garnish made it even more decadent, and perhaps it’s a good idea anyway so people can see that it does contain peanuts.   The recipe as written below reflects my own changes to a few of the spice amounts, and I added in a bit of turmeric.  You can’t taste the turmeric, but it’s great for a golden color, and it reduces inflammation in the body.  Thanks, Indy Vegan Family, for putting out a fun podcast to listen to and sharing your recipe reviews too!

SPICY AFRICAN PEANUT STEW

Serves:  8

INGREDIENTS
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, cubed into 1/4 inch dice (no larger)
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed/crushed,  or minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes,  in juice
14 oz. can light coconut milk
2 Cups vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 Cup red lentils,  picked over and rinsed  (you can substitute quinoa)

Optional garnishes:  chopped cilantro,  salted or chopped peanuts,  dairy-free sour cream, or dairy-free yogurt.  You could also offer Sriracha for those who like it hotter.

DIRECTIONS
In a small stock pot, combine all ingredients and simmer on stove top for 30 minutes.
or
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and turn on high for 30 minutes.
Then switch to low for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve, and pass garnishes at the table.

Notes:  Upon reheating, you can add in some extra liquid if necessary.  Also, if you want a creamier soup, you can always puree a portion of it in the blender and then add it back in.  It’s fairly flexible, I might throw in an extra can of tomatoes next time.  Also, I’ll try making a cool cilantro/yogurt to dollop on top, dairy free of course.

Vegan Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and wow, is it good.   It’s rich and creamy but somehow light.  It has the pumpkin flavor without being cloying, and yet it’s also got that classic cheesecake tang and texture.  I would take this to any Thanksgiving, and serve it at any dinner party.  On the other hand, it’s easy to make, and you can throw it together in under 30 minutes, not counting cooking and chilling times.
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Vegan Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Servings:  8 to 10

INGREDIENTS
8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (look for the non-hydrogenated one in the yellow container)
12 ounces extra-firm silken tofu, such as Mori Nu (Morinaga) brand in the little box
1/2 Cup light agave nectar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons lemon juice, or the juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree  (canned, not pumpkin pie mix)
2 teaspoons rum (optional)  (I used Malibu brand coconut rum)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  (fresh is preferred but not required)

1 pre-made 8-inch graham-cracker crust  (or oatmeal cookie crust)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Put the first set of ingredients (Tofutti through vanilla) in a food processor and puree until completely, silky smooth.
Remove a heaping Cup of this mixture from the processor and spread it in the bottom of the crust.
Add the next set of ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg) to the ingredients remaining in the food processor, and process until well blended.
Smooth the entire mixture carefully over the white layer in the crust.
Bake until the center is almost set, about 50-60 minutes.
Insert a toothpick–if it comes out liquidy and cold, give it more time until the center is firm.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on rack.
Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least three hours.
Serve to delighted guests  (don’t tell them it’s vegan until after it’s eaten).

Notes:  I did not bake longer than 60 minutes.  If you don’t know what to do with the leftover pumpkin, dogs like a spoonful or two in their dinner,  but don’t give it to them all at once, if you know what I mean.  The original recipe called for only 1.5 Tablespoons of lemon juice.  My friend Piliki made it with her fresh, pureed pumpkin.  She put the pumpkin in a fine sieve and let it drain well and pressed excess moisture out of it.  She also baked it for 65 minutes, and said, “It was perfection.”

Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

These little Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies are such a nice treat for Halloween or Thanksgiving.  Lars gave them a thumbs up, and I’m impressed by how perfect the cake and spices are.    I’ve increased the filling amount below, because it made a lot more cake than the instructions said it would.  I also reduced the oil.  They’re perfectly spiced, thanks to a great recipe by Valeria on Food. com.   I’ll definitely make these again next year.

p.s. They freeze beautifully, so you could make them ahead.

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Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 24

INGREDIENTS
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2.5 Cups brown sugar
3/4 Cup safflower oil
2 egg substitutes  (I used 1 Tablespoon Ener G powder plus 1/4 Cup of water, frothed or whisked)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Cups canned organic pumpkin  (I used Trader Joe’s)

The filling
3/4 Cup Tofutti Cream Cheese
3 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons vegan butter or vegan shortening

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease them).
In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar, oil, egg replacer, vanilla extract and pumpkin.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until center of cookie springs back when lightly pressed.  I baked mine for 16 minutes in my accurate, electric oven.
Cool thoroughly on wire racks before spreading with filling.

While the cakes are baking, you can make the cream cheese filling:  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together vegan cream cheese and vegan butter.
Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until thoroughly blended.  Chill in fridge.

To assemble, spread a dollop of filling on the bottom of one thoroughly-cooled cake and make a “sandwich” with a 2nd cake.  Wrap individually as they tend to dry out.

Notes:  These come out approximately 3 inches across.  They freeze beautifully.  I used Trader Joe’s canned organic pumpkin and found it superior to other brands I’ve tried, silkier and lighter in color.

Nutrition:  Calories 250, Fat 10, Saturated Fat 2, Trans Fat 0, Polyunsaturated Fat 1, Monounsaturated Fat 6, Cholesterol 0, Sodium 107, Carbs 39, Fiber 1, Sugars 22, Protein 2, Vitamin A 63%, Vitamin C 1%, Calcium 2%, Iron 5%.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and it hails from My Vegan CookbookI have to give Josh credit for creating a recipe that is much lower in fat than the standard caramel popcorn (he uses an air popper and eliminates the oil).  Also, the recipe is dead simple and does not require a candy thermometer.  I did change a few minor things and added some nuts, but you don’t have to.  When I was trick-or-treating as a kid, if we were lucky, we’d come to a house where we’d receive large, homemade, gooey popcorn balls wrapped in waxed paper, and this brings back those memories just in time for Halloween.  This is my 18th post for Vegan Mofo 2012, phew.  For the last two days, I did not post because we’ve been getting ready for Hurricane Sandy here in the coastal areas of Maryland.
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Salted Caramel Popcorn

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup un-popped, organic popcorn kernels
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 Cup Unsweetened/First Pressing, canned Coconut Milk
        (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 Cup of cocktail peanuts or dried fruit  (optional)
1/4 Cup of sliced almonds  (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pop the popcorn in an air popcorn popper into a very large mixing bowl, like the largest one you have.
Mix any nuts and/or fruit into the popcorn and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Josh says oiling the pan is not enough; the caramel will still stick to the pan if you only use oil.

In a medium saucepan combine all other ingredients except vanilla.
Place on heat that is one-click-below-medium and stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Caramel should be bubbling well.
Remove from heat and carefully add vanilla while stirring, just in case it splutters a bit.

Drizzle caramel by the spoonful over the popcorn and stir well after each spoonful.
Spread caramel popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, mix popcorn gently with a spatula and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven.
Caramel will be soft but it will become crispy as it cools.

Notes:  You should link to the original recipe, because I have changed a few things.  This recipe is not quite sweet enough for me, so next time, I’ll probably make 50% more sauce and try rolling the popcorn into balls (after oiling my hands).  I’ll also add some dried cherries or some other extra goodies.  However, Lars likes a lighter, less-sugary popcorn and was really pleased with how light this is.  And so it’s his, all his, bwa ha ha.

Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Here’s a delicious, unusual little quick bread, perfect for Fall.  The slightly-spicy parsnips create sort of an Autumnal zucchini bread.  Due to the sugar and perhaps to the generous greasing of the loaf pan, there’s a thin caramelization on the outside of the crust that’s pleasantly chewy.  Zap it in the microwave and put a little Earth Balance vegan butter on it, and it’s surprisingly good.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Makes one loaf,  serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS
1.5 Cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 pound parsnips (about 2 medium), peeled and finely grated  (I used a little food processor for this)
1/3 Cup Safflower oil, or some other oil
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal plus 6 Tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix flax seed meal and water well, and set aside to thicken.
Generously grease a 9×5 inch or 8×4 inch loaf pan.  I generously sprayed my loaf pan with cooking spray laced with flour.
In a medium bowl, dry whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt.
In a large bowl, stir/mix together sugars, parsnips, nuts, oil, flax-seed binder liquid, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to parsnip mixture and stir well.
Spoon batter into pan, pressing batter gently into pan with your hands.
Bake 55 minutes, until a straw or knife comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Invert onto baking rack to cool further.

Notes:  I like to use a Caffe Latte Frother or tiny whisk for my flax seed mixtures.  My pan was 9×5 inches (regarding cooking time).  The flax seed liquid is a must, as it’s the binder in the recipe.

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squashes

These Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squashes can be made ahead to save time before dinner.  This protein-packed dish would be lovely for any Autumnal meal, or even Thanksgiving.  The Middle-Eastern ingredients are lightly spiced, and the raisins add chewy sweetness as a foil against the savory broth.  Instead of ground beef, I used chopped walnuts.  Walnuts provide not only extra protein and omegas, but a rich meatiness that pushes this into the main-dish arena.  For those who are avoiding gluten, you could easily substitute quinoa for the bulgur.  You could also add a cup of Beyond Beef Crumbles, or other vegan protein, if you want to.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squashes

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
2 small Acorn squashes
1/2 Cup bulgur wheat  (or cooked quinoa)
1 Cup vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1/3 Cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, chopped fine
1/2 Cup raw walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat one Cup of vegetable broth.
Put bulgur in a small bowl, pour in only 3/4 Cup of the steaming broth over the bulgur, and cover and wait 30 to 45 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1/4 Cup of hot broth over the raisins and set them aside to plump.

You will now pre-bake the squash so it’s easy to cut into.
Wash acorn squashes and set them in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water.  Find the place where you will cut each squash in half and then pierce along that invisible line several times, to let steam escape.
Bake squashes for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and carefully slice along your previous perforations with a sharp knife to create a continuous slit.
Bake 30 more minutes and then remove from oven to cool.

In a pot, heat oil and add onion and cook about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, spices and salt, and cook another minute or so.
Add hydrated bulgur and cook until any excessive moisture (if there is any) is gone, maybe 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, add parsley and walnuts and stir well.
Drain raisins and fold them into the bulgur mixture.
Scrape out the cooled squashes, forming squash bowls, and fold the squash meat into the bulgur mixture in the pot.
With a spoon, mix gently but well, and fill each squash bowl with stuffing.
You can now refrigerate these to bake later, if you want to.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place stuffed squashes side by side in a baking dish and bake until warmed through and tops are browned, about 20 minutes or so.  If squashes have been chilling, it might take longer.

Notes:  I used Bob’s Red Mill 100% Whole Grain Quick Cooking Bulgur.  All I had in the house were regular raisins, so the photo reflects that.

Vegan Molasses Cookies

These classic American molasses cookies are going in the mail tomorrow to my father in-law in the Midwest, for his 80th birthday.  They are a bit like him, progressive but still a bit old fashioned.   No eggs or dairy butter, but still with all the traditional flavor.  Happy Birthday, George, wish we could be there for the big day!
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VEGAN MOLASSES COOKIES

Makes 48 to 50 cookies

INGREDIENTS
4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick (1/2 Cup vegan butter)
1/2 Cup vegetable shortening, such as Spectrum brand
1 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup unsulfured molasses
3 teaspoons Ener-G powder plus 4 Tablespoons water (egg substitute)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.
Mix Ener-G together to a froth, and set aside.
In another large bowl, beat with an electric mixer butter, shortening, sugars and molasses until fluffy, like for several minutes on medium to high speed.
Add Ener-G mixture and beat again.
Gradually add flour mixture, and combine well.
In small shallow bowl put 1/3 Cup sugar.
Using a measuring tablespoon, form dough balls and flatten them slightly and roll in the sugar.
On baking sheets, arrange cookies 3 inches apart.
Bake in middle of oven for 13 minutes at most, or until risen and slightly cracked.
Cookies should be soft because they will harden as they cool.
Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes or so.
Transfer to racks to cool.
You can try one batch at 12 minutes for a softer cookies the next day.   (Vegan Mofo 2012)

Earl Grey Poached Pears

I recently got the cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  These Earl Grey Poached Pears are the first thing I’ve made in my 4 quart, oval Crock Pot.  You end up with a thin floral sauce that could easily be cooked down to a thicker syrup on the stove top.  While we ate them plain, I think these pears also would be great chopped up on top of hot oatmeal, in pancakes or crepes, or over some vegan ice cream.  I’m a tea addict, and have made side trips to Fortnum and Mason, Mariage Freres, etc.  While I normally only drink oolong or green teas, with the occasional Darjeeling debacle, I do like the Earl Grey here.  That faint scent of roses on the melting, sandy pears.  I actually doubled up on the tea bags and we both liked the result.  I have a bunch of other recipes marked in this cookbook to try.  So for Vegan Mofo 2012, I’m recommending this cookbook.  It’s really got me thinking.

Squash Curry Soup

Here’s a beautiful Fall soup with warming Indian spices for the cold weather.  It takes advantage of the early Butternut squashes, and it makes 4 pints,  so some can go in the freezer.  I originally saw Padma Lakshmi making this soup on the Martha Stewart show back in 2006 (video here).  I made her version but we could not take that level of heat and spice, so this is milder and does not obliterate the taste of the squash itself.  Use my easy method of baking-before-cutting, and you won’t have to struggle with a knife and a fresh, rock-hard squash.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Squash Curry Soup

Makes about 4 pints, serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
2.5 lb. Butternut squash, baked and seeded (yields 1.3 pounds, supposedly)
1 Tablespoon oil
1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 Bay leaf
1.25 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Cups vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1 Tablespoon palm sugar  (or brown sugar)
15 oz. can low-fat coconut milk

DIRECTIONS
Wash and pierce squash, and set in a glass baking dish with 1/2 inch of water.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
Cool squash, and discard seeds.
Peel, and chop squash meat into a bowl.
In a Dutch oven or stock pot on medium heat, heat oil and cook onions for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add ginger, garlic, cayenne, curry, and turmeric, and stir another minute.
Add squash, salt, vegetable broth and Bay leaf, and cook 5 more minutes.
Add palm sugar and coconut milk, and cook 5 more minutes.
Remove Bay leaf from the pot.
Now you have a choice; you can use a potato masher or immersion blender to make the soup however chunky or smooth you like.
Or you can cool the soup and then puree it in a blender for later.

Garnish with curry leaves, chives, pumpkin seeds, croutons, etc.

Notes:  I would prefer 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, but Lars doesn’t like it that hot, so I just use a little Sriracha at the table.  If making this for kids, definitely keep the cayenne and ginger light.

Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes with Date Caramel Drizzle

I brought these to Book Club last night, and they were very well received, with one comment being, “That is the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten.”  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Chloe Coscarelli won first place on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars with this recipe for Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes with Date Caramel Drizzle.  Then Chloe published this recipe in her first cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen.  I have made several of the savory recipes from that cookbook and liked them, most notably, her vegan Bolognese sauce.  On that same show, she also made Creme Filled Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (which I have not tried yet).  Chloe also has cooking videos on various sites, including YouTube.  Another reason I tried this particular cupcake recipe is because my friend Piliki’s daughter made them and their whole family thought they were really delicious.  OK, back to this recipe.  I could not find it published legally online, so I’ll just give my comments about this recipe below:

I like how you can make various components of this recipe ahead of time and she gives clear instructions for freezing, etc.  I made the Date Drizzle one day, and the frosting the next.  I even measured out the dry ingredients a day ahead and put them in a canning jar, so the day of, this was all very quick to put together.

The Caramel Date Drizzle adds a subtle dimension that I didn’t expect, so I’m glad I made it, and it only took 5 minutes to make.

The cake itself is very light, perfect.

On the frosting, I would try cutting the shortening in half next time, although my husband had no complaints at all.  He told me I should take these down to the local cupcake shop and let them experience what a real cupcake should taste like. 

Cranberry Pumpkin Cake a la Maida Heatter

This dark, rich cake studded with walnuts and fresh cranberries just screams Thanksgiving.  If you’ve never heard of her, Maida Heatter is a James-Beard-award-winning baker with nine cookbooks to her name.  I adapted this recipe from Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever.  I was looking for a serious, elegant dessert for Thanksgiving, and chose this Cranberry Pumpkin Cake.  I was wondering if it would turn out, due to the four large eggs called for in the original recipe.  The heavy spice amounts made me think twice, as did the fact that I did not have an 18-cup capacity tube pan.  I do however, have the cheapest Bundt pan known to woman; a pale-green, 12-cup, paper-thin aluminum Nordic Ware pan that I seem to remember buying at a grocery store.  I put the tube pan on top of a sheet pan, in case it overflowed (it didn’t).  This finished cake, sitting on the plate like a dark crown, only needs a dusting of confectioners sugar or a drizzle of icing glaze that you could flavor any way you want.  This would consist of about two cups of confectioners sugar with a few tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and some zest.  You could adorn it further with minced candied ginger, or sprinkle with dragees or edible glitter, etc.  Maida promises that the nuts and berries don’t sink in the batter, and they don’t.  This could also be brought out at breakfast the next morning and served with coffee or hot tea, with or without the icing drizzle.  Notes at bottom will tell you how I simplified this recipe.  More photos below.
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Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Cake a la Maida Heatter

12 portions

INGREDIENTS
5 ounces walnuts, chopped fine
7 or 8 ounces of fresh cranberries
3 Cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (this is my addition)
1 15 oz. can of 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 Cups granulated sugar
1-1/4 Cup vegetable oil (safflower or canola)
4 Tablespoons flax meal plus 3/4 Cup of water
    (this is your eggs substitute)
Cooking Spray with flour (such as Pam brand)

DIRECTIONS
Adjust a rack one-third up from bottom of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and drain cranberries, and set them on a towel to dry.
Combine flax meal and water, whisk with a fork and set aside to gel.
Generously spray with flour-infused cooking oil, a one-piece 10×4.25 inch tube pan with an 18 cup capacity and no design.  I used the store-brand cooking spray from Giant grocery store, but make sure it has the flour in it.  I used a 12-Cup capacity tube pan and it was just barely big enough.
Put sprayed tube pan in refrigerator while you prepare ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, and set aside.
In a really large bowl, mix with an electric mixer the pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla.
Add the flax meal and water mixture, and mix again.
On low speed, gradually add the whisked dry ingredients, beating only until smooth.
Fold in the nuts and cranberries.
Turn batter into the prepared tube pan, and smooth the top.
Set the tube pan on a baking sheet if your tube pan is less than 18-cup capacity.
Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Insert a cake tester into the middle of the cake, all the way to the bottom, and make sure it comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
Cover the cake with a baking rack and invert the pan and rack upside down.
Wait for cake to gently fall down onto rack, and remove pan.
Leave cake to cool while it is right-side up.

Notes:  I did not wish to toast the walnuts, or bake a chocolate cake so that I could coat the bundt pan with cake crumbs, both of which the original recipe calls for.  The original recipe calls for up to 12 ounces of fresh cranberries and 6 ounces of chopped walnuts.  I only had a 12-cup capacity Nordicware bundt pan, and the cake did not overflow in my accurate, electric, non-convection oven.  See more photos below.

Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi with Chanterelles and Sage

Rolling gnocchi off an antique butter paddle.  The whimper in the background is my dog Ipo letting me know it’s time for her mid-morning snack, not kidding.

I veganized this recipe from an old Martha Stewart show.  You can watch the video here.  The famous chef says this recipe is hundreds of years old.  I had never made gnocchi before and this combination sounded so good.  And, it is.  There’s a line in one of the Isabel Dalhousie novels where she says something like, “I think chanterelles just elevate a dish, don’t you?”  They sure do, and their golden color and flavor are so simpatico with the pumpkin and this time of year.  It wasn’t hard to veganize this.  I lightened it up by substituting cheesy (and vitamin packed) Nutritional Yeast for the parmigiana, and then used rich soy creamer and vegetable stock.  I also couldn’t see using two Tablespoons of salt.   One thing I ran into was that I needed a lot of bench flour, like more than an extra cup of it.  The dough was so sticky.  Watching the video helped, and I noticed that the chef used a lot of bench flour too.  I had never cooked with sage leaves in this way before, and was surprised at how wonderful and mild the flavor was.  With the golden chanterelles and the squash flavors, it was like a little Fall symphony!  p.s.  My gnocchi look a bit clumsy, but they taste great.  There are also some good videos on youtube where they show the old method of rolling the gnocchi off a fork to get the sauce-catching ridges in them.  Like this one.  These gnocchi freeze very well too.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 small sugar pumpkin (1.5 to 2 lbs.), stem removed, halved lengthwise and seeded  (or use my easier baked pumpkin method) (I bake two un-cut pumpkins since I’ve got my oven going)
2 Cups “00”  (zero zero) flour, plus more for work surface (or all-purpose flour, which is what I used)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt in the flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt in the water
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Stick)
2 shallots, finely chopped
20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, well rinsed, and sliced or trimmed
6 fresh sage leaves
1 Cup vegetable stock (I like Better Than Bouillon stock base, some are vegan)
1 Cup soy creamer  (I used Silk brand)
1 teaspoon dry sherry (totally optional)

DIRECTIONS
Use my easier baked pumpkin method, or do the following:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pumpkin halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and fill each with one Tablespoon of water.
Cover with foil.
Transfer to oven and roast until soft, about 45 minutes.  Let cool.
Scrape pumpkin flesh from skin, and discard skin.
I like to puree my pumpkin flesh now.
Reserve 1/4 Cup of pumpkin puree (for the sauce).

Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Add up to 2 cups pumpkin and the Nutritional Yeast to the well.
Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well.
Note;  I used another whole cup of bench flour to get rid of extreme stickiness.
When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces.  My knife kept sticking to the dough, so I switched to a plastic pastry scraper and it worked great for cutting the gnocchi.
Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, wet/damp towel.
Repeat process until all the dough has been used.

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
Add last teaspoon of salt to water, and return to a boil.
Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden.
Add stock, mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, vegan creamer, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
If you want to, you can add an extra Tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast here.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine.
Serve immediately with freshly grated nutmeg.
Everyone can season with salt and pepper at table.

Notes:  You can make the pumpkin a day ahead, as I did.   Note that once you begin to add the mushrooms, sage, etc., the sauce should be done in a couple of minutes.  If you overcook it at that point, it sort of turns into a loose pumpkin puree, instead of a creamy sauce.  I was surprised at how pleasant and mild the sage leaves were.  The second time I made it, I put the mushrooms in a couple of minutes earlier, and added 1 teaspoon of dry sherry, and we really liked it.  Be sure to rinse the chanterelles really well as they can have teensy bits of grit in them.  You could use cheaper mushrooms, but now that we’ve tasted the chanterelles in this dish, I wouldn’t even make it without them.  Their golden meaty flavor is just perfect here.  These gnocchi freeze very well.

Harvest Pumpkin Cake

Here is the link for this recipe.  I bought this cookbook called Vegan Baking Classics by Kelly Rudnicki, and this recipe is in there, along with her recipe for the Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting.  It seems that Kelly Rudnicki is not an ethical vegan, but cooks vegan due to having a child with allergies.  I’m not sure about this, but that’s what I’m getting from her web site and her cookbook bio.  Either way, this cake is absolutely scrumptious.  I would not hesitate to make it for an Autumnal birthday, or even for Thanksgiving.  Last year, I learned how to bake sugar pie pumpkins, and that’s what I used for this cake.  I just weighed out 15 ounces of pumpkin puree that I had run through the Vitamix.  FYI, I found organic “sugar pie pumpkins” at Whole Foods recently, the first time I’ve ever found them organic.  This is a very moist cake with a wonderful mild flavor.  The tofu is the egg replacer and gives it some extra protein.  Pumpkin is full of fiber, beta carotene and iron.  It also has protein, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium.  I did cut the margarine in half; I just couldn’t wrap my brain around using all that fat.  So, I did have to chill my frosting in order to do a crumb layer of icing.  Use as little icing as possible for your crumb layer because this recipe makes a somewhat scant amount, and you will need every bit of it for the finish coat.  I actually made a little extra frosting, and used it.
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HARVEST PUMPKIN CAKE

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup dairy-free shortening, such as Spectrum brand
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)  (I used my own pumpkin puree from sugar pie pumpkins)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
1 recipe Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine shortening, sugars, silken tofu, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract on low speed until creamy. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda with a wire whisk.
Preheat oven to 350ºF, and spray two 9-inch round cake pans with dairy-free baking spray. Add flour mixture alternatively with soy milk to the shortening mixture. Beat well.  Pour into prepared pans, and bake 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely, and frost with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting.  Note:  I let the cakes cool completely in the pans, and then ran a butter knife around the edges and then inverted them onto racks until they fell.
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Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 2 cups
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine  (I used 1/4 Cup)
3/4 cup dairy-free cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
21/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and beat 4 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Chill before using.

I baked the cakes for only 25 minutes in my electric, non-convection oven, until they pulled away from the sides of my pale-colored cake pans.  i did use use a tester to make sure it came out clean and that the cakes were done inside.

Easy Baked Pumpkin – Sugar Pie Pumpkin

You know those big pumpkins we turn into jack-o-lanterns?  Well, those are not the best pumpkins for baking and eating, as it turns out.  These cute little pumpkins are smaller than the large ones, and they’re called Pie Pumpkins, or Sugar Pie Pumpkins, or Baking Pumpkins, etc.  I found that even at my local grocery stores, produce clerks were not sure of the difference.  Supposedly, one pound of Sugar Pie Pumpkin equals one cup of pumpkin puree, and the puree is usually what you bake with, make soups with, etc.  I took a photo here with a coffee mug so you can see the approximate size of this very-small Sugar Pie Pumpkin, and of course, they can be larger or sometimes even smaller.  I got exactly 2 cups of cooked flesh out of this little pumpkin, but many bigger Sugar Pie Pumpkins will yield at least 4 Cups (one quart) of cooked flesh.  Here below is my super-easy method of cooking a raw pumpkin.

EASY BAKED PUMPKIN

DIRECTIONS
Use a pumpkin big enough for your recipe.  One pound of Sugar Pie Pumpkin will equal one cup of pumpkin puree.  So if you need two cups of pumpkin puree, buy a two-pound Baking pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put Sugar Pie Pumpkin in a baking dish or casserole, in one half inch of water.  Note, I do not cover with any foil or anything, and it works just great.

Bake for 30 minutes, and then pierce the pumpkin in several places with a sturdy, sharp knife.  Doing this will prevent the pumpkin from popping or exploding in the oven.

Bake 45-60 minutes more, until tender to the touch.

Cool and scoop out the innards, setting seeds and stringy matter aside (do not discard if you want to roast the seeds).  An ice cream scoop may come in handy here, but a large metal spoon is fine too.

Scoop out good flesh down to the skin, and process in a food processor.   If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the pumpkin meat with a potato masher until it’s really broken down, or leave a few chunks and mash for soups, as desired.  I found a blender did not work well because we are not adding any liquid.

Freeze in one-cup portions.

These are less watery and stringy than ordinary jack o’ lantern pumpkins, and sweeter and meatier.  See photo below, so you can see that the flesh can be light golden instead of the dark russet color of canned pumpkin.  Every fresh pumpkin is different so the color of the flesh will vary.  Also, it can be smoother or as stringy as this.  I could have baked this a bit longer, but I figure it’s going to get pureed and cooked in a dish anyway.

    This photo is after baking but before pureeing.

Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds!  Once separated from the stringy guts, rinse them (optional), pat them dry (optional) and toss them with 2 tsps melted Earth Balance, and the spices of your choice, or just a pinch of salt and bake them in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.  Stir them around on the baking sheet and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Pumpkin seeds are nutritious, with plenty of potassium and magnesium and some zinc, folate and iron too.  See my recipe for Chat Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Roasted Beet Salad

I got this bunch of organic golden beets on the last day of the St. Michaels farmers market.  Found this recipe on epicurious, and gave it a try.  It’s delicious, and I recommend you do as I did; make the beets the day before and marinate them in the dressing, for a deeper flavor.  Then you can put the beets on top of the greens and sprinkle with the almonds.  I also eliminated the Asian pear, because vegetables are best absorbed into the body without fruit, and with all these other flavors going on, you don’t need it.  I made the recipe several times and found that sherry vinegar really added something special.  Other than that, I didn’t deviate from the recipe.  Beets have a healthy dose of folate, which helps prevent fatigue and depression.  Beets also supply a fair amount of magnesium and potassium for better blood pressure, along with some vitamin C and iron for healthy blood and stronger immunity.  And as you can see by this salad, they’re gorgeous.  Of course, red beets are fine for this salad, and you could also substitute canned beets to save time!   p.s. If the fresh beet greens/tops are in good shape, you can wash and cook them as you would any dark leafy greens.  I put a photo of the trimmed beets at the bottom of this posting, so you can see that you should leave about a half inch of the greens stems, and this way the beets will bleed out less nutrients as they cook.  Healthier and it makes less of a mess.  p.s.  If you have any leftover salad fixings, including the beets and the nuts, they are super excellent in a wrap with some hummus and sliced, sweet bell peppers.
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ROASTED BEET SALAD

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch beets (3/4 pound without greens or 1 1/4 pound with), trimmed
1/4 cup sliced natural almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 minced shallot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (my preference here)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups mâche or baby arugula (3 ounces)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wrap beets in foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets and cool.

While beets are roasting, cook almonds in oil in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden. Cool almonds in oil (nuts will get darker as they cool). Transfer almonds with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and season with salt.

Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and oil from almonds in a large bowl.

Slip skins from beets and halve large beets. If you decide to chop your beets, remember to reserve four pretty beet slices; one to garnish the top of each salad.  Otherwise, cut beets into 1/4-inch-thick slices and add to dressing, tossing to coat.  Now you can marinate the beets in the fridge until you are ready to assemble your salad.

Arrange mache or arugula on a platter and top with beets and then sprinkle with almonds.  Drizzle with any dressing remaining in bowl.

Note:  Beets may be roasted and tossed with dressing 1 day ahead, then chilled and covered. Almonds can also be made the day before, and then chilled.  Bring almonds and dressing/beets to room temperature before using.