Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

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Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

In Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia, where I grew up, there is only one type of pancakes people make – palačinke. They are huge in Central Europe and on the Balkans, and if you are wondering how to pronanounce their name before you munch on them, you would pronounce “č” the same way you do the digraph “ch”. They are thin, they roll and fold easily, they can handle any type of topping, and they are super easy to make. They are also pretty much the same thing as crêpes, so I am sticking with that better known name for the rest of the post. It’s probably one of the first recipes my mom taught me, and knowing how to make crêpes was a bit of a teenage rite of passage for my friends and me. If you knew how to make them you were definitely a part of the in-crowd!!!

And while crêpes are considered very much a French thing (and now you probably appreciate that they are also huge on the Balkans), scallion (or green onion) pancakes hail from a totally different culture – they are a staple of Chinese cooking. Some of the Scallion Pancake recipes use chicken fat (!), but the one by Ming Tsai, a TV chef known for his East-West fusion cuisine, is vegan-friendly, and you may want to give it a try. But, these pancakes do require kneading, and a bit more hands on than I am prepared to do.

So, channeling my inner Ming Tsai and his East-meets-West fusion style, I now give you Scallion Crêpes with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Ginger Dipping Sauce. The crêpes take about an hour to make, from start to finish, and the sauce comes together in five minutes or so.

If you have never made crêpes before, relax – they don’t take much time or much effort. All you need is a large bowl and a large whisk, or a large blender. Your goal is to mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth and very runny batter forms. Crêpes come out best when you use a large frying pan with a very flat bottom, when you keep your pan hot, but not too hot, and when you drizzle a drop or two of fresh oil before pouring in a new batch of batter in. If you have a really fantastic non-stick pan, you may be able to skip the oil but crêpes can be sticky, so proceed with caution.

One of my mom’s tricks is to use a teaspoon of oil and a really hot pan for the first crêpe. That crêpe is too oily and is usually discarded, but cooking it seasons the pan so that you only a drop or two of oil for the rest of the crêpes that should slide right out there when done.

There’s a bit of technique to flipping the crêpes over. First of all, you will need to figure out how much batter you need to pour in to make a thin, yet not too flimsy crêpe. For a regular size frying pan (8 in; 20 cm) I’d say start with 3/4 cup of batter. Pour the batter in the middle of the pan and then move your pan around quickly to help the batter spread around all the way to the edges, making one smooth, thin layer.

Second thing that you will need to know is when to flip, and the answer to that is when the uncooked side starts to look dry, which should not take more than couple of minutes. Once you see that it’s time to take hold of the pan’s handle and give it a shake. If everything is working according to the plan your crêpe should be sliding around the pan freely. If not, you will need to use a thin spatula to slide it under the crêpe and ensure all the sticking points are unstuck. The best spatulas to use for this are the metal ones you would normally use to frost a cake.

With your crêpe’s surface looking dry and your crêpe moving freely around the pan you are ready to flip. I flip my crêpes either by tossing them in the air – that’s my signature move and a crowd pleaser, and it took quite a few mistakes to perfect – or by using my fingers.  I grab the edge of a pancake with both hands and flip it over, taking good care not to touch the pan. This only works if the edges of your crêpe are curling up and away from the sides of the frying pan.

Now that you know what I typically do, let me tell you what I think you should do. The best thing to try first is to use a thin, long and wide spatula that can go under the crêpe and in one swift move flip the crêpe over.

Once the epic flipping of the crêpe has been accomplished the crêpe will need only a minute to finish cooking on the other side. Normally, you would add a spread or a filling just after you slide the crêpe out while it’s still hot. In this case I actually don’t think the spread is needed as all the scallions make the flavor pretty rich to begin with. Add to that the dipping sauce full of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, squeez of lime, and freshly grated ginger – mmmmm… – and you’ll get plenty of flavor.

Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

What you’ll need:

  • For the Crêpes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon corn starch

1 3/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)

1 cup almond milk, plain and unsweetened

1 cup scallions (spring onions), white and green parts, chopped

Oil for cooking

  • For the Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium

2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; skip if you don’t enjoy spicy food)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the crêpes’ ingredients except scallions in a blender and mix well. You can also mix everything up with a regular mixer or by hand. The resulting batter should be smooth and clumps-free.
  2. Add the chopped scallions, mix them in and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  3. While the batter is resting, mix together the dipping sauce. For best results use fresh ingredients, and toast the sesame seeds yourself – they need only 2-3 minutes in a toaster oven or in a frying pan on the stove top. Cool the seeds a bit before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Heat a large frying pan with a flat bottom until hot. Add a teaspoon of oil and 3/4 cup of batter. Spread the batter around until it covers the entire surface of the pan.
  5. Lower the heat to medium to medium high, and cook until the upper side starts to look dry. Flip the crêpe and continue cooking on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Slide the crêpe out, fold twice, making a sort of triangle, and keep the crêpes warm either by covering them, or by putting them in a warm oven.
  7. When all the crêpes are done, arrange them on a platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce (or without!).

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Homemade 1-Minute Peanut Butter Nutella

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Homemade 1-minute Peanut Butter Nutella, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Believe it or not, you can now make your own Nutella-like spread in less than a minute. Yes, you read that right – and it is not a question of gimmicky gadgets or anything like that. It’s really all about having three ingredients at hand and readily available. The trifecta in this case consists of peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia.

Peanut butter powder is my newest discovery so let me rave about it for few minutes. I believe that you can now get peanut butter powder in any US-based grocery store. Even the peanut butter behemoth, Jif, has its own version of this product, which I have not tried yet so can’t really comment on whether that specific brand is any good and how it compares to others.

Peanut butter powder is mostly protein left over after you remove most of the fat (and thus lots of calories), so it is an ideal addition to smoothies, oatmeal, baking, even desserts like Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (as a substitute for almond butter), and even Pad Thai or other dishes that ask for peanut butter. The powder adds creaminess and packs all of that peanut flavor so a little usually goes quite a long way.

Plus, as a bonus, it transforms into a peanut butter-like spread when mixed with some water!

There are couple of different peanut butter powder “formulations” out there so check the ingredients list first in order to make an informed decision. My first excursion into the peanut butter powder land involved a product that contained added sugar, and that was not what I was looking for. So, I currently use peanut butter powder that lists only one ingredient: peanuts! Needless to say, if you do have a peanut allergy, this is not for you!!!

The recipe below is my new go-to, quick fix bread spread which has less calories, is low-fat and low-sugar so completely vegan, paleo-friendly, and done in a minute. I call it Homemade Peanut Butter Nutella because it combines that rich darkness of cocoa with the peanut aromas into a creamy spread. The recipe below makes one serving – I’ve no clue whether this would store well because I make one single serving at a time, so I recommend you start off using it in this way as well.

Homemade 1-Minute Peanut Butter Nutella

What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons peanut butter powder (no sugar added)

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 packet stevia powder (or your sweetener of choice)

2-3 tablespoons hot water

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients (peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia) in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add hot water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix well with a spoon until you get the smooth and spreadable consistency.
  3. Enjoy on toast, fruit, or in any other way you would normally use a spread like Nutella for!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Vegan Onion and “Bacon” Tart

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Vegan Onion and “Bacon” Tart, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Savory tarts are a great source of comfort during long, and cold, winter months, so fall seems like a perfect time to stock pile great savory tart recipes. One of the favorite topping combinations for this type of tart is onions and bacon. There can be little mystery about why this is so. Caramelized onions are sweet and juicy, and browned bacon is crispy and salty. Putting those two together makes for a sweet, salty, juicy yet crispy topping. Add to that a thin tart crust – and you get the picture!

In this recipe I wanted to recreate a bit of that onion-bacon dichotomy, by combining thinly sliced onions caramelized to perfection with marinated, thinly sliced, tempeh that has been browned until crispy on the outside. The trick with onions is to slice them into thin strips and then let them caramelize for a long time over medium heat. If you are counting calories and trying to stay as oil-free as possible, you can use just a bit of cooking spray to get your onions going – I did it, and it works just fine! But if you regularly use oil, starting with a tablespoon of olive oil will work well here. I recommend using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet here – not only will it help caramelize the onions and brown the tempeh bacon, it will also go straight from the cooktop to the oven, making this a one pot dish.

To prep the tempeh, first boil it for couple of minutes, pat dry it, cut into thin strips, and let it marinate for couple of hours. I used the same basic marinade that The Buddhist Chef used for his Tofu Bacon. It’s made of oil, maple syrup (I did skip maple syrup in this case since caramelized onions are plenty sweet), soy sauce,  liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast. I prepped the tempeh ahead of the onions, so when the onions were done I could remove them from the skillet and cook the “bacon” immediately afterwards.

My version of the tart is crustless, so there is no fancy pastry making required. What holds the tart together is the mix of almond milk and corn starch that comes in last, as the veggies are finishing cooking. And speaking of veggies, one other ingredient here is jackfruit. I use canned jackfruit and for this tart you will want to rinse it out well, drain it, then shred with your fingers, and remove any tough core bits. I can’t comment on using raw jackfruit since I’ve never done it, but I am guessing that it would be better since canned food does come with a bit of that canned taste/flavor.

The tart will spend some time in the oven, and to finish it off I recommend turning on the broiler at the end for five minutes or so to crisp up and brown the top. Let the tart cool for about ten to fifteen minutes before serving, and enjoy as is, or with some yogurt – I used a drizzle of cashew yogurt and a sprinkle of thyme. The tart is rich, fragrant and fantastic!

Vegan Onion and “Bacon” Tart

What you’ll need:

2 large onions

8 oz (225 g) tempeh

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more, depending on your taste)

2 20 oz (570 g) can young green jackfruit in brine

3/4 cup almond milk (plain, unsweetened)

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 teaspoon dry thyme

Cooking spray


What you’ll do:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to gentle boil in a pan that’s large enough to hold the entire piece of tempeh flat without cutting. Lower the tempeh into the boiling water and let it boil for couple of minutes.
  2. While the tempeh is boiling mix together the marinade by combining oil, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast.
  3. Take the tempeh out and pat dry. Let it cool for a moment, until it feels ok to handle. My heat tolerance is pretty high so I usually wait only a few minutes, but depending on your comfort zone when it comes to handling hot things you may want to wait longer before slicing the tempeh into relatively thin slices. Lower the slices down into the marinade and let it stand for an hour or two.
  4. While tempeh is marinating, prepare the jackfruit. Rinse the canned jackfruit well and let the excess water drain. Using a fork or fingers, pull the jackfruit into shreds. Discard the hard core, if present. Set aside.
  5. Slice the onions thinly into fine strips.
  6. Turn the oven to 400 F (200 C).
  7. Heat a heavy skillet, like a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray (or add a tablespoon of olive oil if using), and add the onions. After about 5 minutes at medium high heat, reduce the heat to medium to medium low and cook for another 10 minutes, until onions are soft and golden brown. Transfer the onions into a separate dish.
  8. Increase the heat to high and add tempeh “bacon” strips. Let the side brown then turn over and brown on the other side.
  9. Add back the onions, and jackfruit, mix the “bacon”, onions and jackfruit well, and continue to brown.
  10. In a small mixing bowl combine almond milk and corn starch. Whisk them together so that there are no clumps. Pour over the rest of the ingredients and let it start to bubble.
  11. Sprinkle the thyme and nutmeg, mix again and place the skillet into the oven for 20 minutes.
  12. To brown the top, turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes, until the top is browned and crispy.
  13. Take the tart out of the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a side of salad, or drizzle some yogurt over the top for a delicious meal.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Ever since I’ve decided to transition into 100% plant-based eating, I’ve been going easy on pasta mostly because it is yummy and enjoyable, yet not really all that great for you given the calories and starch. I’ve tried some replacements, like spaghetti squash, which made a great Pad Thai, and black bean pasta, which made an awful base for my “Clam” Sauce.

Of all the things I’ve tried, zucchini noodles are simply the best! They work really well with meatballs or even lighter veggie toppings that I’m thinking of ditching spaghetti all together.

But, there are some dishes that are hard to imagine without pasta, like a very simple yet incredibly delicious pasta salad I made at the height of summer season, and these stuffed jumbo shells right here.

The shells are stuffed with cauliflower “ricotta” and spinach mirroring a very traditional ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed shell recipe. The shells I use here are the “jumbo” kind, and their name is well-deserved. Two or three of these makes a solid serving size, so the recipe below ought to serve four people easy.

The main departure I took from the traditional recipe, which is vegetarian, is to skip the tomato sauce, usually a simple marinara, and to use my own creation, a cauliflower “ricotta” cheese, which makes this recipe dairy-free, vegan, and plant-based.

The cauliflower “ricotta” is inspired by cashew ricotta that I’ve made in the past. I was very curious about whether cauliflower can help the basic cashew ricotta recipe (some great examples here and here), and retain all the creaminess while cutting down the cost (frozen cauliflower is cheaper than raw cashews), and the calories and fat (cauliflower has far less calories than cashews and no fat!).

The cauliflower “ricotta” works well here, and it’s a useful cheese alternative to have for other pasta dishes, or a lasagna. Amazingly, what puts this entire dish over the edge is actually a tiny bit of nutmeg. Just a pinch goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it.

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

What you’ll need:

16 jumbo shells, boiled

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen chopped spinach

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen cauliflower

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the shells and let them boil for 8-10 minutes. Take the shells out, rinse with cold water, and place them aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Cook the cauliflower and spinach according to the instructions on the bag. You can use a microwave or a stove top method and you don’t need to thaw the vegetables but I recommend that you squeeze the access water out before using. Keep the cauliflower and the spinach in separate bowls. Cauliflower should take about 10-15 minutes to cook, and spinach about 5 minutes.
  4. Place the cooked cauliflower, soaked cashews, and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process until you reach the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  5. Spray the bottom of 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) with cooking spray and pour in 1/2 cup of cauliflower “ricotta” and spread around to cover the bottom.
  6. Using a tablespoon, spoon some cauliflower cheese into a shell, then some spinach, and place into the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the ingredients until all the shells have been filled.
  7. Spread any leftover spinach and/or cauliflower ricotta over the top, spray with a bit more cooking spray, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the top is golden and sides are slightly browned.
  8. Let the stuffed shells rest for 5 minutes before serving then enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Vegan Zucchini Fruitcake

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Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Fruitcake has a bad reputation. Nobody loves it, yet puts up with it because of the tradition and whatnot. And although some of you may find it hard to believe, fruitcake can be really delicious!

In this veganized version of the milenia-old (oh, yes – fruitcake dates back to Ancient Rome) tradition, I skip the butter, extra sugar, and eggs and go really wild with dried fruits. I combined everything I could get my hands on – figs, dates, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and pineapple – with a nice selection of spices featuring orange and lime zest, as well as almond extract, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I also used some finely grated, almost sauced, zucchini as a binder, and roughly chopped walnuts and red maraschino cherries for some added texture.

The key to this cake is soaking the fruit and although you could soak the fruit in rum, as is the custom, I soaked mine in water to avoid being too over the top with the flavors and the kick to the system this cake delivers. Although most of the alcohol would evaporate as the cake bakes, I wanted to keep this one rated G so that both kids and adults can enjoy as much of it as they like and decided to skip the rum altogether. At the end, the most important thing is to let the fruit soak in liquid (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) because that will help keep the cake moist and soft.

This fruitcake is pretty rich and filling. It makes for a lovely treat, as well as an excellent breakfast choice. It is definitely one more thing to add to your list of vegan Holiday treats and traditions, like the Peppermint Bark and the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes. If you are wondering whether this cake can be made gluten-free, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour and go for it.

 

 

Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini

What you’ll need:

1 zucchini, small (1 1/2 cup grated)

5 medjool dates

15 dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup dried pineapple

5 dried figs

1/3 cup prunes

1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped

1 cup flour

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 tablespoon almond extract

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lime

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all the dried fruits in a large bowl, cover with warm to hot water, and let soak for 30-60 minutes. Drain the fruit, pat dry to remove excess water, and chop to bits and pieces of different size. Place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Grate the zucchini using a fine grater or a food processor. The finer the grating the better!
  4. Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients to the chopped fruit and mix well until everything is combined.
  5. Line the bread pan, or any other baking pan (I used a spring form pan because it makes getting the cake out a breeze), with some parchment paper. Pour in the fruitcake batter and spread around to form a 1.5 in (3-4 cm) thick layer. The cake will not rise much, and it will be quite moist, so don’t make it too thick as your surface will burn while you wait for your center to bake.
  6. Bake for 35 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake stand for at least 15 minutes, ideally an hour, before cutting and serving. Serve with some vegan whip cream, ice cream, or with a glass of eggnog, and enjoy the season!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes

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Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

One thing that sweet potatoes have going for them is their amazing natural sweetness. Another thing they have going for them  is their price – they are super affordable. And, for those of you keeping a nutritional score, sweet potatoes are an amazing source of vitamins, fiber and even protein.

Speaking from a recipe developer’s perspective, sweet potatoes are a versatile ingredient that lends itself to a range of recipes, from main dishes to desserts. The very first recipe I shared on this blog was the Sweet Potato Butter. More recently, I used sweet potatoes as a key ingredient in a red curry. And now it’s time to introduce Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes.

The key ingredient for the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes are the roasted sweet potatoes. Roasting sweet potatoes brings out their sweetness and adds nice caramelized overtones. Plus it makes the otherwise hard potatoes easy to mash. You could boil the sweet potatoes as well, or put them in the microwave for ten minutes to soften them up, but none of these methods will help the sweetness fully develop. So, unless you are in a super huge rush do take the time to roast your spuds. What I do is roast the whole pile of sweet potatoes at the same time and stash them into the refrigerator. Then I have a roasted sweet potato on hand to use for all sort of different applications, like these pancakes.

The pancake recipe asks for two large sweet potatoes, and I mean large. They should yield anywhere between cup and a half to two cups of sweet potato purée, so find some good, big specimens for this one. Roasting sweet potatoes could not be easier. You will need to wash the potatoes, pat them dry and place them on a baking sheet – I like to line mine with either parchment paper or aluminum foil to easy cleanup more than anything else. Put the baking sheet into a hot oven – I recommend 425 F (220 C) and roast the potatoes for about thirty to forty five minutes. Take them out and let them cool completely before handling. And thats’ why is handy to have a stockpile of roasted sweet potatoes in your fridge!

One note on the flour. This recipe is gluten-free and uses a combination of white rice flour and corn starch, but if you are not looking to restrict your gluten intake feel free to use all-purpose flour. In that case you can skip corn starch and you don’t need to replace it with anything else. Two cups of all-purpose flour should work well enough.

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes

What you’ll need:

2 large sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled

2 cups rice flour

3 tablespoons corn starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons imitation maple syrup flavor (or vanilla extract)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened

Cooking spray (optional)

Topping suggestions: fresh fruit, powdered sugar, jam, maple syrup, vegan butter or cream cheese, nut butter, melted vegan chocolate…

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large blender or a food processor. Blend untill a smooth, lump-free batter forms. Pour the batter into a large bowl – this will make it easier fo you to ladle out the pancakes. If you don’t a blender or a food processor, all this can be done by hand in an old fashioned, whisk-based sort of way. If you are doing everything by hand, do spend some time on mashing the sweet potatoes – the smoother you get them the better the pancakes. Let the batter rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place a large frying pan over high heat. You can also use a griddle if you have one. In both cases make sure your surface is nice and hot before using. You could spray with some cooking spray if needed – some pans have a lovely non-stick surface and you can definitely skip the oil.
  3. Pour out half a cup worth of the pancake batter per pancake. This should make 5 inch (12 cm) pancakes, and the amount of batter will be enough to serve 4 to 6 people. After the first 1-2 minutes lower the heat to medium-high and let the pancakes brown. You will know that it is time to flip them when the top surface becomes nice and bubbly and almost dry. Flip the pancakes, let them brown on the other side, which will take just a minute or two, them slide them to a serving plate. To keep the pancakes warm as you work you can keep the done batch in a warm oven or under some foil or a kitchen towel. To get the pan ready for a new batch increase the heat to high, let the pan come up to temperature again and repeat…
  4. Serve warm with any topping you like, fruit, maple syrup, powdered sugar, chocolate syrup… I used sliced banana and a drizzle of softened almond butter. Yummy!!!

Note: These pancakes freeze well, so if you do end up with leftovers, let them cool than place them into a freezer safe bag or container, and you’ll have great pancakes to enjoy on another day. One trick to prevent frozen pancakes for sticking to each other is to use wax paper to separate the pancakes. You can separate them one by one, two by two, three by three, whatever is you preferred serving size. Then, when you are in a need for a quick breakfast, snack or even dessert you can take the batch out with ease. I usually zap mine in a microwave for a minute or so and they are ready. You can also use a toaster oven to heat them up, just remember that the toaster oven will dry them out a bit, so they will come out a bit less soft.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese – Deluxe Edition

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese – Deluxe Edition, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Hooray – a plant-based cheese success story!!! Believe me, the three exclamation points are not for nothing as I’ve had my fair share of plant-based cheese disasters. But, let us not dwell on failure and talk about this latest, greatest treasure I discovered. Like my vegan fresh mozzarella experiment that was out of this world delicious, this Baked Sunflower Cheese is fully based on a lovely recipe created by another person. Credit for today’s recipe goes to Sweet Potato Soul, a lovely and so bright and cheerful vegan food blog by Jenné (you can also follow her on Twitter @SweetPotatoSoul).

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese topped with slivered almond, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I was looking for something to do with sunflower seeds and this recipe popped up. The recipe is simple and follows the same logic of plant-based cheese making – you soak in this case the seeds but more often the nuts overnight, and then you process them with flavor and umami agents of your choice. Jenné’s recipe uses a nice combination of ingredients that all play well together with the raw sunflower seeds, so other than adjusting the amount of lemon juice and miso paste, I increased both, and dialing down the nutritional yeast, I followed all the rest.

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese on a cutting board, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

My main point of departure was at the end. Once I’ve chopped and blended everything in the food processor I used my muffin tin to form small individual cheeses. I sprayed the muffin tins with some olive oil cooking spray, and packed the cheese mix into the molds tightly. I let it firm up in the fridge overnight and the next day I inverted the individual cheeses out, topped them with couple of different toppings (capers, slivered almonds, sun dried tomatoes, and hot sauce), placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and baked them at 350 F (175 C) for 10-15 minutes, just enough for the individual cheeses to warm up and the topping to caramelize.

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Slivered Almonds topped Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I served the cheeses at a party, with some crackers (and couple of other goodies), and it was amazing!!! Pictures here tell only half a story, so make thus cheese and see for yourself how the story ends.

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese topped with capers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Note: I stored the leftover cheese in the fridge and used it the next day to make wonderful sandwiches with roasted red pepper hummus and the cold Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese. Yummy!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Cream of Carrot Soup


Cream of carrot? How can that be? Well, it can, and it is, and you will not believe how great this soup is. Carrots are the star, to be sure, but what gives the soup its rich creaminess (without any cream) are the white potatoes, and you want to pick nice, starchy potato variety, like the Russets.  The starchier the potato, the creamier the final soup. Usually, the really starchy potatoes don’t hold well to boiling and tend to fall apart. In this case that really does not matter because everything will go into a blender at the end. I do recommend you chop your carrots and potatoes into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process, but they don’t need to be finely diced.

The potatoes and the carrots cook together with flavor agents, like soy sauce and the Worcestershire sauce, and the spices, like smoked paprika or smoked paprika flakes, garlic powder and ground mustard.  I also suggest you use vegetable stock and not water, because a really great stock will extend the richness of your flavors, while water will dilute them out. In terms of what stock to use exactly, you’ll have to try it out and see what you like. Reduced sodium options are probably the best starting point, and you can always taste a bit of the stock before dumping it into the pot. If the stock is not pleasant to drink, it will probably not make for a pleasant soup to eat. I would stay away from roasted garlic infused or very heavy on spices stocks and go with mild almost bland stocks that you can build on and that will not interfere with all the other ingredients you are using.

This soup is in many ways an extension of me using carrots for as many things as possible, including the summer hit – carrot dogs – and some of my baking, like cookies and muffins.

What helps put this soup over the top is just a sprinkle of fresh dill at the end, and a handful of freshly toasted croutons. With all that in place all that’s left to do is grab a spoon and dig in!

Cream of Carrot Soup

What you’ll need:

6 large carrots

2 potatoes, Russet or white

2 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoon ground mustard powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)

1 teaspoon steak sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika flakes

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons dill, fresh


What you’ll do:

  1. Wash, peel and cube carrots and potatoes. Place in a pot, cover with water and boil for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are just soft but not falling apart.
  2. Drain the vegetables, pat dry to absorb as much of the access water as you can, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oil, spices and sauces and mix well. Let marinade for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Place all the vegetables and the marinade into a blender and add the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth and silky. You can do this step in the mixing bowl with an immersion blender but I think the regular upright blender produces smoother consistency.
  5. Pour back into the pot and bring to simmer. Let the soup simmer gently for 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. While the soup is simmering you can toast some bread, or make some croutons.
  7. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of fresh dill, and some toast, croutons, bread or even tortilla chips on the side. Mmmmm… good!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

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Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Like a fabulous supporting actor in a movie, the perfect side dish for a rich, holiday meal is subtle and complementary to the lead actors laid out on the festive table, yet able to make a lasting impression of its own.

This Holiday Quinoa with Cranberries and Pistachios is just that – visually pleasing, with layers of complexity in terms of texture and flavors, yet not overwhelming. Additionally, for anyone putting together a vegan, fully plant-based feast this side dish will add lots of protein to your plate.

Quinoa, just in case you are not familiar with it, is a grain, not a cereal, like wheat, but more like rice, and you would cook it like rice as well. When cooked it actually looks like couscous, and you will need to fork it up the same way. Although quinoa is fine served by itself, given that we are in the midst of fall/winter holiday season I decided to add just a bit to it, by adding some chopped pistachios and some oven-roasted cranberries.

One note on cranberries: fresh cranberries are very tart, and almost impossible to eat without adding a huge amount of sugar to them. I decided to try roasting and that worked to a point. Roasted cranberries are still tart, but a bit of tartness in this dish is actually a nice thing. If you prefer something with less bite, toss your cranberries with some sugar or a sweetener of choice, or simply chop some dried cranberries up – those are most certainly sweet.

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

What you’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

1 shallot, finely diced

1 cup pistachios, chopped

1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries – this will yield about 3/4 cup roasted

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash and sort the cranberries. Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast them for 20-25 minutes. Once soft and slightly browned, take the cranberries out the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.
  3. While cranberries are roasting, cook your quinoa. Mix 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, decrease the heat to a gentle simmer and let quinoa cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let quinoa stand for another 10 minutes. Use the fork to fluff up quinoa before using in the next step.
  4. Spray the bottom of a skillet with some cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots and let them sauté for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Once shallots are done, add chopped pistachios and let them toast just slightly, for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the fluffed up quinoa, mix well, and sauté for 5 more minutes or so.
  7. Turn the heat off and mix in the roasted cranberries. Go gently as they will be very soft and falling apart.
  8. Serve warm, and enjoy with some White Wine Gravy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup

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Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

A bite of baklava is a shock to the system, but once you have recovered from that first bite you won’t be able to stop eating, usually until your teeth start feeling like they may just fall out from all the sugar. Baklava is a dessert from Middle East that has made its way to Greece and beyond. It is made with thin sheets of dough, the phyllo dough, and it is usually layered, although some recipes do ask that you roll up the sheets into a strudel.

The most commonly used filling for baklava are ground walnuts. And the signature feature of baklava is the super sweet syrup that is poured over the hot baklava immediately after it comes out the oven. The baklava is then allowed to soak up all the syrup, which usually takes a day or so. At the end of that process you end up with a super sweet and very rich piece of dessert on your plate that is very often an acquired taste.

I personally have a bit of love/hate relationship with baklava. It’s been on my mother’s holiday dessert list for as long as I can remember, and I was not a huge fan until she started using apples to break up the heaviness of walnuts and the syrup, and lighten things up.

In this recipe I wanted to combine that insight into what makes a perfect baklava with what makes a great pecan pie, the apple in the eye of every Southern cook, the amazing creaminess combined with the crunch of pecans.

Neither baklava nor pecan pie is actually good for you. They are both full of high amounts of sugar and fat, so my challenge for this Pecan Apple Baklava was to flip the dessert into something much healthier without sacrificing any flavor. I used lots of apples, some pecans, and to sweeten things up a good amount of maple syrup. But, instead of drowning your baklava in pure maple syrup I recommend combining maple syrup with some orange juice, cooking it down a bit, and pouring it over your baked baklava while both the syrup and the baklava are still hot.

There’s not much in putting baklava together. Traditionally, you would use melted butter on each sheet of phyllo dough but you can achieve the same thing with spreading just a bit of water or water mixed with a drop of lemon juice, or a a bit of oil. It’s up to you to decide how much oil you want to use. Here, I use only some cooking spray on my dish, to make sure the baklava slices come out smoothly at the end. For the rest I use plain water. So you will layer a sheet of phyllo dough, brush very lightly with water, layer another one, put your ground pecans on, layer a sheet of phyllo dough, brush lightly with water, lay another sheet, pour pecans, another layer of phyllo dough, then apples, and so on and so forth until you run out of things to layer. One trick for getting the perfect baklava is to slice before you bake. And don’t forget that a bit of oil mist will help brown the top!

Final touch? Make baklava one day ahead. It will be rich, delicious and ready to serve, and you can feel good about serving your friends and family a dessert that is actually full of good for them stuff!!!

Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup

What you’ll need:

8 oz (225 g) pecans, ground into a rough meal

4 apples, grated and drained of excess liquid

1 lbs (450 g) phyllo dough

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 cup orange juice

Cooking spray or oil

Fresh orange slices, for decoration and presentation

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
  2. Using a food processor grind the pecans into a rough meal. You want the pecans to be almost a meal but having few bigger pieces would add some interesting texture, so keep that in mind. Place pecans into a bowl, mix in cinnamon, allspice and ground nutmeg, and set aside.
  3. Using the same food processor with a grater blade, grate the apples. You don’t need to peel them unless you really want to. But you to have to squeeze the excess moisture out using your hands, and set aside. (Keep the squeezed out juice – it’s delicious as a freshly pressed cider which you can enjoy as you are making you baklava!)
  4. Spray the bottom of 9 x 13 in (22 x 33 cm) baking pan with cooking spray and start layering the baklava. Place one sheet of phyllo dough at the bottom, and brush couple of water drops across. Layer the next sheet, sprinkle pecans, layer another two sheets one at a time spreading a drop or two of water in between, sprinkle pecans, then repeat with two more phyllo sheets, spread a batch of apples, 1/2 cup or so, then continue layering following the same pattern until you use up all the ingredients.
  5. Cut the baklava into pieces, spray the top with a bit of oil, and put in the oven for about 20 minutes. You want the baklava to be nicely golden brown.
  6. While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup by combining maple syrup and orange juice into a saucepan and reducing the volume down to about 1 1/2 cup or so.
  7. Once the syrup and baklava are ready and still hot, pour the syrup over the pastry one 1/2 cup at the time, starting with pouring along the cut sites so that the syrup can penetrate to the bottom of the baklava, and then what ever you have leftover you can pour right over the top. Place the cut orange pieces over the top, cover with foil and let the baklava sit for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
  8. Serve with a cup of strong coffee – and get ready to dance the night away!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Pumpkin Truffles – Two Ways

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Pumpkin Truffles, Traditional and Dark Chocolate, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Thanksgiving desserts are all about pies, most often pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, or pecan. Those are the big four, with pumpkin pie being the gold standard. I am not a baker – I mean I do bake, and I have made pies, including the pumpkin variety, in the past, but these pies are a bit too much for me to handle if I am making a big holiday feast.

So, this year I am trying out a no-bake route to a dessert offering that captures the spirit of winter holidays but does not require any oven real estate or lengthy prep work. With this in mind I developed these Spicy Pumpkin Truffles and I did them two ways – Dark Chocolate Covered and the Traditional, which means rolled in cocoa powder.

No baking, a handful of simple ingredients, and your holidays feast will be complete! The only trick, which by the way I am yet to master, is getting an even coat of chocolate. This batch turned out just a bit too irregular but that did not make them any less irresistible – the treats disappeared in a blink of an eye.

The truffles themselves are very easy to mix together and they are inspired by the pumpkin pie recipes. I used some canned pumpkin and mixed it with almond meal, almost flour, and coconut flour. I added some maple syrup to sweeten things up because the pumpkin I was using was not sweet at all. But before you add the sweetener of your choice do try your mix and adjust to taste. Keep in mind that your chocolate is sweet as well, unless you are using bitter kind, so you may need to play around a bit to achieve the right level of sweetness for your taste.

What pulls these truffles over the top are actually the spices. I used ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves. Those three spices blended well with the pumpkin, maple syrup and the almond/coconut flour mix and gave these yummy treats a real winter holidays flair. Bite in, and you’ll forget all about baking and enjoy the no-bake holiday desserts!!!

Pumpkin Truffles

What you’ll need:

1 15 oz. (425 g) can pumpkin

1 1/2 cup almond meal

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

12 oz (g) vegan dark chocolate (chunks, chips, or blocks)

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large mixing ball combine all your ingredients except cocoa powder and the chocolate – those will come later.
  2. Mix everything well and using your hands for the dough into balls that are approximately 2 in (5 cm) in diameter. Place the preformed truffle balls on a platter and set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate using either a microwave oven or a double boiler.
  4. Dip half of your truffles into the melted chocolate and place on the platter or a plate that’s lined up with wax paper.
  5. Put your chocolate covered pumpkin truffles in a refrigerator so that the chocolate coating hardens.
  6. Pour the cocoa powder in a flat dish and roll the rest of the pumpkin truffles in cocoa powder.
  7. Arrange the two kinds of Pumpkin Truffles any way you like. You may want to place couple of pieces of cloves in the bottom of your serving dish, or line your serving dish with some finely pulled orange peel. None of this will change the fantastic flavor of the truffles but it will make your dessert tray more festive! Enjoy!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

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Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

This soup is pure gold, and by gold I mean absolutely a light delight, and by light delight I mean that it uses none of the usual suspects you can find in a creamy soup. So, on the side of ingredients that this soup does not use you will find cream, butter, and flour, and on the side of ingredients that this soup does use you will find cauliflower, green peas, yellow corn, vegetable bouillon cube, fresh thyme and almond yogurt. Yes, you read that right – six ingredients and you will be done!

The soup comes together in less than an hour and serves four to six people, and if you include on your holiday menu where lots of other goodies are being served as well, this recipe can easily be served to eight people! So, one head of cauliflower with couple of extras can really go a very long way.

All you need to do is wash and chop one large head of cauliflower, put the pieces into a large pot, pour in 3 cups of water, add the bouillon cube, cover, bring to boil and cook the cauliflower for fifteen minutes or so, until cooked through. Let the soup cool a bit – it does not need to be completely cold but you do need to be able to handle cauliflower and the broth safely. Purée the broth and the cooked cauliflower until completely smooth, with either an immersion blender or using a standing blender. I highly recommend getting an immersion (stick) blender, if you don’t already have one. This is a kitchen gadget I use all the time for soups, burgers, even cookies, so I am getting a lot of mileage out of mine.

Place the soup back on the stove top, add green peas and corn, and bring to gentle simmer. You can use either fresh or frozen peas and corn, or even canned. If using the canned vegetables do check the salt content and buy “no salt added” variety. The soup should simmer for about twenty minutes. Turn it off, and then stir in fresh thyme and plain, unsweetened almond yogurt. Serve warm, with a squeeze of lemon if you like (I do!!!), and a handful of oyster crackers or freshly toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

What you’ll need:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 1/2 cup green peas, frozen

1 1/2 cup yellow corn, frozen

1/2 cup almond yogurt, plain and unsweetened

10 springs of fresh thyme

What you’ll do:

  1. Cut the cauliflower florets out, wash them and chop roughly into bits. Place in a large pot, add water and the bouillon cube, cover with a lid, and bring to boil.
  2. Boil the cauliflower for 15 minutes or until fully cooked – cauliflower should be soft and falling apart.
  3. Purée the cauliflower together with the broth it cooked in with a stick (immersion) blender until smooth.
  4. Add frozen (fresh, or canned) peas and corn. If you are using canned vegetables make sure you use “no salt added” and make sure you drain the veggies well before adding them in.
  5. Bring the soup to gentle simmer, and leave it for 20 minutes or so. If you are using canned vegetables you can simmer for less, and 10 to 15 minutes should be plenty.
  6. Turn the heat off, then add thyme and yogurt, mix well and serve. This soup can be a meal on its own, with some freshly toasted bread, or a nice start for your next three course, festive winter holiday dinner!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017