Lemonana

IMG_2104     We had frozen “Limonana” (Lemonana) at Dizengoff in Philadelphia recently and I was struck by the herbal flavor of it, and by how well it went with their very excellent hummus.  Lemonana is basically lemonade with a generous dose of mint, and it’s been called the national drink of Israel.  This aint your Grandma’s lemonade–it’s assertively tart with a divine herbal edge.  It can be made in a good variety of ways, but I know they make a mint syrup at Dizengoff, and they choose to serve it frozen.  I looked at a bunch of Lemonana online and developed this easy recipe, which tastes a lot like the one at Dizengoff.  I’m convinced, however, that Dizengoff uses a secret ingredient–some savory herb or something.  I’ll be trying that in future, but in the meantime, this is so good and refreshing that I’m satisfied.

LEMONANA

Serves:  2 to 3

Mint Syrup
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1.5 oz. fresh mint
Combine water and sugar in a very small saucepan and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and wait 10 minutes for the syrup to cool slightly.  Stir in fresh mint, cover and let steep for 15-30 minutes.  Remove and discard mint leaves or strain syrup through a mesh sieve and allow to come to room temperature.  Store in a sealed glass jar or bottle in refrigerator for up to one month.

Lemonana
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup water
2/3 Cup mint syrup
2 drops orange blossom water  (optional)
20-30 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS
To a blender, add lemon juice, water, mint syrup and orange blossom water, and stir.  Add ice and blend until frozen, adding a little more ice if necessary.  Taste.

Notes:  My ice cubes are those smaller crescent-shaped ice “cubes” that come out of an ice dispenser in my freezer.  You may need more ice than this, unless you’re using the old-fashioned, big rectangular ice cubes.  Any leftover mint syrup can also be used in iced tea, of course.  To save time, make mint syrup ahead and have it well chilled.  Two photos of Dizengoff below.  Dizengoff has a cult following for their hummus and their pita bread.
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Vegan Ottolenghi Raspberry Oat Bars

IMG_1971    These vegan Raspberry and Oat Bars by Yotam Ottolenghi have a caramel nut topping,  raspberry filling and rustic oat-pastry base.  You can vary the types of nuts and jam–use what you have on hand.  Although there are a few steps to these, this is an easy recipe,  and you wind up with something rich, decadent and kind of special.  I did add a pinch of salt to the topping, and used Spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour.  There is another excellent Raspberry Oat Bar on this site as well.

VEGAN OTTOLENGHI RASPBERRY OAT BARS

Makes 16 bars

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup spelt flour   (or all-purpose flour,  or whole wheat pastry flour)
scant 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
6 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/3 Cup vegan sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 Cup rolled oats

3/4 Cup raspberry jam  (I prefer Dickinson’s brand)

TOPPING
3/4 Cup sliced almonds
3/4 Cup raw pecans,  chop coarsely
1/2 Cup raw hazelnuts, chop coarsely
1/2 Cup raw Brazil nuts, chop coarsely

6 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/3 Cup vegan sugar
2 Tablespoons So Delicious Coconut Creamer  (or other plant milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper each way so the paper comes up each side of the pan to create tabs to lift the bars/slab out of the pan.  This will take two longer sheets of parchment paper.

To make the base.  Dry whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add sugar and dry whisk again.  Add cold vegan butter in small chunks, and cut in with a pastry cutter to form a crumb texture.  Stir in the oats.  Press this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool 10-15 minutes.  Stir jam until smooth and then spread the jam over the base crust.

To make the topping.  Place all chopped nuts in a large, heat-resistant bowl and stir  together.  In a small saucepan, heat butter, sugar and plant milk over medium heat.  Stir until sugar has dissolved, and then stir in vanilla.  Pour this mixture over the chopped nuts and stir together.  Pack nut mixture evenly over the jam/base, and return pan to oven to bake for 30 more minutes, until nuts have turned a nice golden brown.  Leave pan to cool on rack.  When it’s fairly cool, chill in fridge (it will firm up in the fridge).  Remove from pan and onto a large cutting board.  Peel away parchment paper and cut into squares.

Notes:  I reduced the butter in the base and in the topping by one Tablespoon each, as written above.  Measure out and then chop the nuts.
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Vegan Brazil Nut Pate

IMG_1411    What we have here is a really nice vegan pate.  Inspired by a very simple Brazil Nut Pate I saw in Vegan For Her, I referred to my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and also my 1961 copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cook Book.  Pates in those old tomes call for some common elements to choose from, including salt, pepper, Worcestershire, allspice or nutmeg, pistachio nuts, truffles, grated onions, parsley or chervil and lemon juice.  Also, a single type of alcohol, such as brandy, cognac, Madeira or sherry.  A bit of flour is often added, possibly for a binder.  Also, sometimes, whipping cream, which can easily be replaced by cashew cream.  And we now also have vegan substitutes for other commonly-used pate ingredients like gelatin and cream cheese.

Garnishes often include parsley and cornichons, or even stuffed olives and thinly sliced limes.  I would suggest that tiny sweet gherkins would do if cornichons are not readily available.  I added olive oil to mimic the fatty quality of outdated pates.   We like this on Ritz crackers or very thin slices of toasted garlic bread.  I know some consider Ritz a bit lowbrow, but we like the buttery, salty quality of them, and their delicate crispness.

VEGAN BRAZIL NUT PATE

Yield: 1.5 Cups?  (not sure)  This recipe will fill two 4-inch ramekins for a party though.

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 Cup blanched almonds
1/3 Cup pickled red onions (or regular red onions), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon organic vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as Wizard brand
2 Tablespoons Madeira wine  (or cognac, or brandy or sherry)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin organic olive oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS
Soak all nuts for two hours, or overnight.  Drain and rinse nuts in colander.
In a food processor (not a blender), add all ingredients and process to as fine a consistency as you can, scraping down the sides often.  Add an extra Tablespoon of plant milk or water if necessary.  Set in fridge for a few hours or even better, overnight, for flavors to meld.   Garnish with parsley and cornichons.

Serve with thin slices of garlic bread, crackers, and/or raw vegetables such as slices of sweet red bell pepper, or endive.  I could also see stuffing cherry tomatoes and garnishing with a thin round slice of olive, for example.

Notes:  Read the lead-in for variations suggestions.  Brazil nuts are definitely a power food, providing calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omegas, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc., etc.  Another vegan Worcestershire sauce is by Whole Foods 365 Organic.  You can also sprinkle with Paprika.

Vegan Potato, Sweet Potato and Onion Latkes

I adapted and veganized this old Martha Stewart recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for years, and it came out great.  It’s simple, and I like that you get that deep-fried effect with only a few Tablespoons of oil.  I increased the onion just a bit to get a better potato/onion ratio.  Replaced the egg and followed a couple of Latke Tips from other web sites.  Now we’re able to make these ahead, and reheat them in the oven to an even crisper effect.  These little vegan Latkes are special due to incorporating the sweet potato, and the Martha recipe advises that you could also use carrots and parsnips.  I don’t think I’d eliminate the white potato altogether, however, for structural reasons.  There are many latke videos on youtube and I chose this one from the Culinary Institute of America to share with you here.  The C.I.A. also does an eggless latke, and I knew you didn’t need the egg after making this egg-free potato galette.  After doing some reading, I realize these are not kosher for Passover due to the small amount of flour in them, but they’d be great for Hanukkah.  Supposedly, you can simply substitute matzo meal to make them kosher for Passover, but I can’t vouch for that because I haven’t tried it myself.  But then again, I’m not Jewish, I just like Latkes.  I made a quick dill sour cream with some softened Tofutti and chopped fresh dill, and it was perfect with these, and I threw some organic applesauce on the side too, which played off the sweet potatoes.  Now we can have excellent Latkes at home, and serve them to guests without having the hot-oil fuss going on.  These would be great for a breakfast, brunch, luncheon, or side dish with supper.
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Vegan Potato, Sweet Potato and Onion Latkes

Makes 18 small Latkes

INGREDIENTS
1 all-purpose Yukon Gold potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1 sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1/3 large white onion, peeled
1 Tablespoon dry Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, or rice flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (no kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil for frying (not canola) (use olive, peanut or safflower, etc.)

DIRECTIONS
Put filtered water in a large non-reactive bowl (I like glass).   Add a Tablespoon of fine sea salt to this water and stir to dissolve (this will keep the potatoes from going brown).   Grate both potatoes using the largest holes of a four-sided grater, immediately placing the grated potatoes into the salt water as you go.   Let the grated potatoes sit in the salted water for about 20 minutes while you work.

Grate the onion and place it in a small dish and cover it with a napkin (to spare yourself from the fumes).   Dry whisk flour, egg replacer, sea salt and pepper to thoroughly combine.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.   Place grated potatoes into a sieve or fine colander, let drain and press the water out well.   Rinse your mixing bowl and wipe it dry.

Place a Tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and let it heat.
Place potatoes back into the dry mixing bowl and stir to combine thoroughly with the grated onions.   Add in the flour mixture and stir thoroughly again.

With a heaping Tablespoon, shape Latke mixture into discs and place into hot oil in skillet, and do not crowd the pan.   Let latkes cook for three minutes and then turn them only once.   Flatten latkes lightly with a spatula and let cook 3 minutes on second side.  If skillet becomes dry, add a Tablespoon of oil, but you should only need 2-3 Tablespoons total by the time you’re done.   Place finished latkes on paper towels.

Keep warm in a 250 degrees Fahrenheit oven, until ready to serve.
Or, you can place cooled latkes in the fridge and then reheat in the oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, for 10-15 minutes.
If you must freeze them, reheat from frozen.

Notes:  The pale yellow color of the Yukon Gold potato fools the eye into thinking there is more oil in the latkes than there actually is.  The acid in the onion helps keep the potatoes from turning brown.  The salt water also helps the latkes crisp up, and it helps keep the latkes from browning too quickly in the pan.  Baking latkes after frying them actually creates a crisper latke.  The best ratio for latkes is 5 parts potato to 2 parts onion.  Have a few spidery “legs” sticking out of your latkes, so they’re not too round and perfect, to increase the texture variation, and give some good crunchy bits.  Turn latkes only once in pan, to reduce oil absorption.  My own preference is not to use canola oil for frying because even fresh canola oil can sometimes taste metallic or fishy on high heat.  My own preference is not to use kosher salt due to its metallic, chemical taste.  Supposedly, you can substitute part of the potato for any starchy vegetable, such as beets, zucchini, etc.