Sunday, July 31, 2011

Raw Almond Frangipane Cream

There are berries galore out there right now. Peaches and cherries are also starting to show up at the markets. So much fruit, so little time! If you're like me, your fridge is full to bursting with awesome produce. At the moment, I have blueberries, cherries and peaches waiting for me to eat them. The cherries we usually eat like candy. They're so sweet and amazing right now; it's hard to stop eating them once you start. You can't eat just one!

As for the blueberries and peaches, I think they'll do quite nicely mixed together as a cobbler or perhaps just as they are with some raw almond frangipane cream on top. I love this stuff. It's the recipe I've made the most out of Ani Phyo's Ani's Raw Food Desserts. Though, I refuse to spell it the way she does. It just reminds me of chatspeak and I really can't abide that. I get that she's trying to differentiate between foods made with animal products and the raw, vegan versions, but I still just can't get behind it. But that's a whole other discussion.


This almond cream is so easy to make and tastes great on pretty much any kind of fruit you can throw at it. Though maybe don't actually throw things at it or you'll have a fun afternoon of cleanup on your hands. I haven't met a fruit that didn't like this almond cream, so put it on whatever you want. It's also great as a whipped cream substitute on pies and ice cream sundaes and the like.

The only downside to this recipe is that you need to plan ahead. You really need to soak the almonds for a good while before you blend them or it won't be very creamy. If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, you should use that. Otherwise, just use your food processor or regular blender; you'll just have to blend for a few minutes longer. Unfortunately this won't work with an immersion blender so if that's all you have, maybe try to borrow a food processor from a friend in exchange for some of your almond cream?


Raw Almond Frangipane Cream (recipe from Ani Phyo's Ani's Raw Food Desserts)

1 cup raw almonds, soaked at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight.
1 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Combine all of the ingredients in your blender or food processor. If you have a high-speed blender (lucky you!) then you'll only have to blend for about 30 seconds. For the rest of us, you'll want to blend in your food processor or blender for 3-5 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides at least once.

This will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge or for several weeks in the freezer. Why not make a double batch and freeze some for later?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things That Are Awesome: Bob's Red Mill 8-Grain Hot Cereal

I'm one of those few people who doesn't like oatmeal. I know, I know. It's supposed to be so good for you and all that. I've just never been able to stomach it. I've tried and tried over the years and I still just don't care for it. And yes, I've tried just about every different brand and type of oatmeal you can imagine with all different toppings. Still not a fan. I've finally stopped trying to convince myself that I might one day wake up and have a hankering for oatmeal. Not gonna happen.

I do, however, love me some grits. I am a Southern gal, after all. Grits, however awesome, aren't always as filling as I'd like in the morning, especially when we don't generally take our lunch breaks at work until 1pm. I was buying flour at the market one day when some of the Bob's Red Mill hot cereals caught my eye. They have so many different kinds, all named things like 10-Grain Hot Cereal and 8-Grain Hot Cereal. I think there are two different kinds of the 10-Grain one, even. How many grains are the right amount? Who knows. I decided to try the 8-Grain Hot Cereal. That one's wheat free, but not totally gluten-free. Though they do have a couple of gluten-free hot cereals.

Now I've been eating this hot cereal for breakfast for a few years now. It's pretty awesome. I like to add some dried fruits and nuts and a little bit of agave nectar or maple syrup. I've been doing a bit of experimenting with Traditional Chinese Medicine here and there lately. One of the things I was doing had me eating or avoiding certain foods to help balance my qi. I was off sugars so I didn't want to add my usual sweetener. Molasses was on my list of recommended foods so I decided to try a spoonful of that on top of my cereal instead. Cherries and coconut were also supposed to be beneficial and I just happened to have some of each in the cabinet. (The dried cherries were from the Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies which I heartily recommend you try if you haven't already.)

I was a bit suspicious about how this weird looking concoction would taste, but to my surprise it was kind of great. I've started using molasses on my cereal sometimes now just to shake things up a bit. Even better blackstrap molasses is a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. The nutrients are basically packed in there; you get a pretty good amount of each of those minerals from just a tablespoonful. Awesome! Also, dried cherries are crazy amazing in hot cereal. I dare you to try it, but maybe do it on this kind of hot cereal not that icky oatmeal.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Polenta Stuffed Peppers

I got inspired by The Reduction Project's use of the Polenta Stuffing in Appetite for Reduction and decided to do a bit of the same. What can I say? I'm a sucker for anything with a bit of a Mexican flair. It's all of those years I spent living in South Florida and Texas that have changed my palette forever. Maybe that explains my love (lust?) for nachos. It really is kind of out of control how much I get excited over nachos. Though not the fake kind with that gross, bright yellow Teese nacho cheese. What is it what that stuff, anyway? I really wanted to like Teese, but their nacho cheese flavor just tastes like plastic. Yuck.

But I digress, back to Polenta Stuffing. I think this is a great way to use up leftover polenta if you have some. If not, just go buy one of those tubes of polenta from the grocery store. That's what I did. I actually think those polenta tubes are really well suited for stuffing. They're already quite firm and easy to slice and you don't have to do any polenta prep! Awesome!

Ideally, you'd probably want to use poblano peppers if you're going to stuff them like this. When I went to the market the poblanos were smallish and next to them were these amazing anaheim peppers so that's what I bought instead. Anaheim peppers will still work beautifully, but they do have a tiny bit of heat to them. Not even as much as a jalapeno, but you'll want to make sure you're wearing gloves when you cut and deseed them so you don't burn your fingers. I usually just wear my dish gloves.

Polenta Stuffing Stuffed Peppers

One recipe of Polenta Stuffing from Appetite for Reduction
6 large peppers (poblano or anaheim are probably best)
1 can of diced tomatoes (or use fresh ones if you want, it's just faster to use canned)
A handful or so of Daiya cheese, any flavor (I used pepperjack)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

This is crazy easy. First, make your stuffing and set it aside. Wash your peppers. Give them a nice slice down the middle and a perpendicular slice at the top just near the stem to make a T. Carefully with a small knife, cut out the seeds and the white bits inside. You'll want to be gentle so you don't tear the peppers while you're doing it.

Now, depending on how you want to do this, you have a few options. You can steam the peppers for about 5 minutes before stuffing them or not. It all depends on how soft your pepper to be at the end of things. I just didn't really feel like adding another step to this so I didn't steam mine. Carefully spoon the stuffing inside of the peppers. One recipe of stuffing filled 6 peppers for me, but it'll depend on how large your peppers are. Just smash it inside of them, don't worry about keeping things loose and fluffy.

Now that your peppers are full of polenta stuffing, it's time to add the tomatoes. Spoon them on top of the peppers. I used the entire can for the 6 peppers. Sprinkle some Daiya cheese on top. I like the pepperjack flavor for this. I find with the Daiya, a little bit goes a long way, so you won't need much. Just add however much you like.

Cover your pan with foil and put it in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let the peppers cool for at least 5 minutes before you start eating them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summertime Tempeh Pasta

Okay, I'm being optimistic calling this summertime pasta. Mostly I just wish Vancouver would act like summertime. But if it was warm here, I bet I'd want to eat this.

This was pretty much born from me trying to clean out the fridge and make a healthy dinner from the remnants. I still have too many peas in the freezer so I knew I had to try and build a dinner around using peas somehow. I'm a big fan of pastas like this. They're easy, super flavorful and so good for you. You can really add whatever you happen to have on hand. I bet some chard or kale would be great in this. Some diced heirloom tomatoes added just at the end of cooking would be pretty awesome, too. Get crazy!

Just use whatever kind of pasta you like. I had some rice fettucini so I used that. I'd actually avoided eating it because I remember how gross and mushy rice pasta used to taste. When did rice pastas get good again? I couldn't even really tell that the noodles were that different from wheat noodles. That's kind of awesome. I do like to buy corn pasta sometimes, but I find that sometimes has a bit too much of its own flavor if you're making it with something that doesn't have really strong flavors already.

I didn't write down what I did when I made this, so this is just a guestimate, but really, you can't go wrong making something like this anyway. I think the fresh herbs really add something special to a simple pasta like this. You can use whatever you happen to have on hand. If you don't have any fresh herbs, no worries. Just use about a half teaspoon each of dried thyme and oregano. That'll do the trick.

Summertime Tempeh Pasta

1 block of tempeh, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic (or however much you like. I probably actually added way more than that because I'm a garlic fiend.)
a handful of shitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
about 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
pasta of your choice

Steam the tempeh cubes for about 10 minutes. You want to get it soft and remove some of the bitterness.

In a pan (cast iron if you've got it) over medium heat, heat the olive oil for a minute and add in the garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tempeh and saute for 5 - 10 minutes or just until you start to get some browned bits on the tempeh. Add the broth, herbs and peas and stir. If you're using frozen peas, make sure to cook until the peas aren't frozen anymore! If you're not, just give the mixture a stir every minute or so for a few minutes until the peas aren't raw. Maybe about 5 -10 minutes?

Turn off the heat, spoon over pasta and serve. You might want to add some salt and pepper to taste. A dash of balsamic vinegar on top would also be pretty stellar. Maybe sprinkle on some nutritional yeast if you want a bit of extra zing?

A Weiner and Other Randomness

Goodness gracious. I do apologize that I've been MIA for so long. Yikes. I should have announced the contest winner last weekend. So much has been going on around here lately that it's amazing I'm able to keep my head on straight. I've been thinking about food quite a bit lately, but I've either not really had much to say or I haven't had the time to say it. I have such a backlog of photos, I really have no excuse.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest to win a copy of the Joy of Vegan Baking! I appreciate the suggestions so much. I'll try and incorporate as many as I can in future posts. I've been looking for more portable foods to take for lunches and snacks during the day, so it's kind of good that so many of you want more of that, too. It'll help me get my butt in gear and get it figured out.

Congrats to Emma who is the weiner! Erm, I mean winner. So says the random number generator! Hey, Emma, send me an email at veganchicksrock [at] gmail [dot] com with your address and I'll send the book on over. :) Thankfully Canada Post is delivering mail again after the strike so that's a good thing.


It's just starting to act like summer here in Vancouver. I guess I should be glad that it's not crazy hot. Most people I know in other places seem to be completely overwhelmed with heat at the moment. The cool weather keeps me distracted from wanting an ice cream maker. I have way too many gadgets as it is, but wouldn't it just be so awesome to be able to make homemade ice cream and sorbet? I've been really wanting some cantaloupe sorbet lately so I think I'm going to have to improvise. I think if I just blend some frozen pieces of it that might do the trick.

Speaking of gadgets, my immersion blender died on me this past week. It was a sad day. I've used that thing almost every day for about 4 years so I can't really complain. The poor thing was just not interested in making one more smoothie for me. So much thick smoke started pouring out of it. I could hear some crackling inside, too. I was so nervous that I unplugged it and tossed it in a sink full of water. Yikes! It's never a good sign when your appliances catch on fire from the inside! I guess I'm in search of another immersion blender this weekend. Hopefully there will be some good Canada Day sales going on.

More food talk soon! :)