Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Roasted Potatoes with Creamy Herb Dressing

Roasted Potatoes with Creamy Herb Dressing

Lots of fresh herbs on these roasted potatoes make for a special potato salad. Because it’s a green dressing the end result is not the prettiest until additional fresh herbs are sprinkled on top which then becomes quite lovely – so don’t skip this step.  I used colored potatoes but will look nicer with all cream colored ones.  Aside from that, the taste is just fantastic as I’ve made this twice in just two weeks!

Creamy Herb Dressing
½ cup raw cashews
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp water
2 tbssp fresh tarragon
2 tbsp fresh dill
2 tbsp Chive
¼ tsp Sea salt
 4 turns black Pepper
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Method for Dressing
Add all to a blender until creamy and set aside.

Potato Salad
24 oz Roasted potatoes
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp tarragon
2 tbsp chive
2 tbsp dill
2 tbsp rinsed capers
Large pinch sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Method for Potatoes
Pre heat oven to 450 line a baking sheet with parchment paper

1. 24 oz small potatoes washed and cut in half.
Drizzle with olive oil sea salt and black pepper and toss well. Place evenly of baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until golden.

2. Chop the tarragon, chive and dill combine and set aside

3.  Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Add 3 tbsp of the dressing more if needed, ¾ of the chopped herbs 1 tbsp of the capers, hefty pinch of sea salt and black pepper and toss well. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a pretty serving plate and finish with the remainder herbs and capers. Serve warm 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Carrot Cake with Cashew Lemon Coconut Cream

unsweetened shredded coconut blitzed in spice grinder 

full fat coconut cream after refrigeration skimmed from the liquid

cashew lemon coconut cream

Carrot Cake with Cashew Lemon Cream
It was one of those days where I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I just felt funky and underwhelmed and without any reason. I really dislike days like that. Instead of moping around trying to figure it out, I decided to bake. And doesn’t baking, make things all better? It certainly did for me.
I’ve never made carrot cake but it’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, so I gave it ago this weekend two times and with some tweeking have a cake my husband and I really enjoy. After making the cake, I searched online to compare other recipes and noticed the heavy use of oil and sugar, not sure if this is common with carrot cake but glad to know I used quite a bit less for still wonderful tasting and moist cake. In fact all of my cakes and donuts use a lot less oil and sugar than typically used, but I figure the end result is what matters and I’m going for healthier here.
Xoxo Diana

1. For the filling I made lemon coconut cashew cream and a coconut whip topping though the recipe below for the lemon cream is enough to fill and top the cake without the whip.
2. Read recipe before you begin
3. Have all your ingredients ready before you begin
4. Use the right measuring cups – dry for dry – liquid for liquid
5. Aerate the flour by stirring it with whisk or fork then dip your measuring cup and wipe off excess with back of knife, spooning flour into the cup is in-accurate for my recipes
6. Be sure to cool the cake in fridge for a couple hours before frosting.

Two Layer Cake 8’’ pans
350 for 50-55 minutes 

Ingredients for Cake
1 2/3 cup unsweetened milk beverage – I used coconut So Delicious
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup unrefined fine brown sugar – I used coconut sugar, Sucanat or Moscobado works
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut ground in spice grinder to smaller bits
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup grated carrot
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup ripe mashed banana
4 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 ½  tsp pure vanilla extract

Method for Cake
Pre heat oven to 350 rack in the middle

1. Lightly oil and flour two 8” round tin pans, cut out a circle of parchment paper and line both the bottom of the pans, set aside

2. Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside

3. In a large bowl sift the pastry flour, spelt, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, when it’s in the bowl add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.

4. In a medium bowl combine the mashed banana, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla extract and stir to combine, add the milk and vinegar mixture and combine again, add the to the flour mixture and mix until just combined, fold in the carrots, and walnuts and divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 30 minutes then rotate the pans and bake another 20-25 minutes, the cake should pull slightly from the sides and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for 15-20 minutes in the cake pans on wire rack, remove carefully from the tins and continue to cool on rack.

Notes for Cashew Cream
1. I didn’t soak my cashews because I use a powerful Vitamix which blends the nuts nicely, if you have a less powerful blender soak them.
2. The cream firms even more if left in the fridge a few hours before frosting.
3. When I added the cream between the two layers and then added cream to the top layer the top cake moved around a bit slipping on the cream in the middle. I held the cake to keep it in place while I frosted the top. Once you are done adding cream to the top layer it won’t shift anymore and when kept in the fried it bonds nicely. Just thought I’d mention this. Or you can frost the top layer cake before adding it on top of second layer.

Plan Ahead for Cashew Cream
Place one can full fat coconut milk in fridge overnight for fat to solidify.

Cashew Lemon Cream
1 cup raw cashews soaked one hour or longer
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp coconut milk full fat from can
1 tbsp + 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp full fat coconut cream

Method for Cream
1. Skim the solid fat from the liquid and place in bowl and set aside in fridge
2. Drain the soaked cashews add to blender with the liquid coconut milk, not the fat, add lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract and blend on high until creamy, add the full fat coconut cream and blend again.  Store in fridge for couple hours to firm up.
3. If you have left over coconut cream - whip it up and use it on the cake or something else. recipe here

To frost the cake place the cake on serving dish you will use. Apply cream with back of a spoon.  Frost the second layer and add it on top of first layer. Add additional shredded coconut and nuts on top.
Keep stored covered in fridge

Friday, February 13, 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cashew Cake

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cashew Cake
I wish I had more pictures to share but this treat was a bit unplanned. While making my chocolate raw cake for a neighbor, I decided to try a peanut butter version and was very happy with the result.  Instead of waiting till next time to make this, I’m sharing it now, and lucky enough I wrote the recipe as I was making it.  I can’t really call this a raw dessert for three reasons; I prefer the taste of pure maple syrup to agave and brown rice, I used full fat coconut milk for extra creaminess, and I love chocolate melted from a bar more than I love raw cacao powder used as ganache;  just my preference. I like the richness of melted chocolate. However, if you insist on pure raw than the latter may be your choice. The web site This Rawsome Vegan Life has such a recipe.  Having said that, there’s enough raw goodness in here to benefit all of us.

I’ll note that the image posted here does use cacao powder and coconut oil, with coconut butter, but if I were to make it again, I would use chocolate bar such as used in my smoked paprika brownie. 

I tend to make smaller batches because, I don’t have a large family to feed and also it’s darn expensive using cups and cups of nuts for one cake. Anyway, the half versions are always just enough. I used a bread pan for this recipe so I can cut little squares but if you like a round cake a 6” will work wonderfully.

This cake is delicious and creamy you can really taste the peanut butter and banana. The longer the cake sits in the fridge the color of the cake will darken because of the banana but inside will be light. This doesn’t affect the taste of the cake. I’ve had it four days in the fridge and it tastes great!

Note: use a 5x9 pan that is very square at the corners unlike the glass Pyrex ones that have a curve on all sides. If using curved pan your treats when cut will tip on its side when served on a plate. – I know because I’ve made this mistake.

1. Soak cashews for 4 hours

2. Line your 5x9 in pan with parchment paper or if you don’t have plastic wrap works too.

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cashew Cake
Makes 15 square 1.5 inch slices

Crust Ingredients
2/3  cup almonds
2/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 oz 70 % organic chocolate chopped - optional
2 tbsp agave  
2 tbsp peanut butter  - good without peanut butter too

Method for Crust
1. Add almonds to processor and pulse until broken down, add the coconut, sea salt, cinnamon and chocolate if using and blend until crumbly and combined, now add the agave and peanut butter and blend until combined. Should hold together when pressed between fingers.
2. Add this to the lined pan pressing evenly and well into the corners. Set aside and start your filling.

Cashew Peanut Butter Banana Filling
1 cup cashews soaked 4 hours
¼ cup + 1 tbsp agave or brown rice syrup, or pure maple syrup
¾ cup full fat coconut milk from can
1 rip banana medium size
¼ cup unsalted peanut butter
2 tbsp raw coconut oil - melted
3 tbsp coconut butter or 2 tbsp more coconut oil - melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or scrape a bean
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Small pinch sea salt

Method for Filling
1. Add the agave to powerful blender such as Vitamix, followed by coconut milk, cashews, banana, peanut butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt

2. Add this on top of the crust, cover and freeze for 7-8 hours.  Lift by the parchment paper pull cake out of the pan and place on cutting board. Slice the cake in 3 rows lengthwise on the long side, now cut 5 rows the other way. 

If you prefer bigger slices cut less rows.

Chocolate Ganache
2 oz 70 % chocolate chopped
¼ cup non dairy milk
Teeny pinch sea salt

Chocolate Ganache Method
Add the chopped chocolate to a small stainless steel bowl, helps to melt the chocolate
Heat the milk until bubbly and add it to the chopped chocolate, let it sit 1 minute without stirring, then stir. When it’s all melted add a pinch of sea salt and stir well, place in the fridge for 1 minute to cool and thicken – should still be pourable keep an eye, or if it looks good before putting in fridge skip this step.

Drizzle the chocolate on top of each square
Store in fridge covered

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup
So gratifying being able to make some of my favorites soups right here at home; hot and sour soup being one of them. There was a time when I would save some of my favorite foods for nights out at a restaurant assuming I could never create this myself. However, since my marathon adventures in the kitchen in the last 3 years I’ve learned quite a bit, and realized many of the foods I enjoyed dining out can be enjoyed right here at home and anytime I want. And you know what? It’s probably a lot healthier. 

I’ve made this soup two times in the last 3 days; it’s warming and spicy with a touch of tang. Browning the onions adds wonderful sweetness to the soup, which I wouldn’t skip out on and just takes a few minutes.  I’ve had this without the noodle and just as good but noodle makes it heartier.

Spinach is added when served in bowls; try not to adding it to the pot while cooking.

Tofu added at end just before the soup boils
Sliced green beans
Mung bean sprouts

Serves 2
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 green onions sliced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Sea salt
1 tbsp ginger minced
10 - 12 0z mushrooms sliced I used baby Bella and Flower Shiitaki
1 ½ tsp srirachi sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar – I used seasoned traditionally brewed
3 cups veggie stock
2 tbsp tamari - gf
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp organic corn starch
Spinach chopped
Asparagus sliced diagonally is pretty – peel the woodsy end
brown rice vermicelli - just a little

1. Cook brown rice noodle in boiling water with a touch of oil for 4 minutes, oil will make noodles a little less sticky when done. Remove from water and set aside covered.

2. Combine the cornstarch with 1tbsp + 1tsp water in small bowl and set aside.

3. Sauté onion, healthy pinch of sea salt and red pepper flakes in oil for 5-6 minutes on medium heat until lightly golden brown, add the ginger and combine 30 seconds, add the mushrooms a small pinch of sea salt and saute 2 minutes, if pan is too dry add 2tbsp veggie broth, stir in the rice vinegar and sauté mushrooms 2 more minutes, they should be reduced by ½ in size at this point. Add the srirachi, tamari and combine, add the veggie broth, lime juice and cook 2 more minutes, add the cornstarch and cook to thicken about a minute or so then turn up the heat,  once it starts to boil turn off the heat,  taste for seasoning and serve.

Add some of the noodles to a bowl with chopped spinach and asparagus, top with the broth and finish with chopped cilantro or parsley.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Whole Grain Banana Bread with Walnuts

almond meal

Whole Grain Banana Bread with Walnuts
Boy I’m really missing sunshine and walks in the country, wearing sandals and having lunch outside. But here we are heavy into winter with yet another gray cold day. The sidewalks are still icy and the air is heavy with salt, which I can taste on my lips after a walk with my dog. So I decided to fill my house with sweet smells of baking. The two very ripe bananas sitting on my counter were beckoned for banana bread and how fitting. Making the bread takes no time at all – from start to finish it’s one hour, and soon you can enjoy a slice with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

I’m really into whole grain when it comes to baking and you’d think spelt and almond meal would be dense but this recipe makes a very moist and delicate bread. I’ve added walnuts here and think chocolate chips would be nice too or blueberries, though I haven’t tried that yet but plan to next time around.

Note: use liquid measuring cups for liquid and dry cups for the flour. loosen the flour with fork to aerate it, then measure the dip, scoop and wipe excess method. 

5 ½ x 9 ½ pan

1/2 cup coconut milk from carton or almond
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup almond meal
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder –
1/3 cup sugar sucanant or other unrefined brown sugar  - made to powder using spice grinder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup very ripe mashed banana
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil melted or extra virgin olive oil

Notes: stir the flour and almond meal to airate it before measuring. dip measuring cup and wipe excess. This is how I measure for my baked recipes.

1. Pre heat oven to 350 and lightly oil and flour your bread pan

2. Combine the vinegar with the milk and set aside

3. In a large bowl sift the spelt flour, almond meal, sea salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, once it passes give a quick stir in the bowl and add the walnuts.

4. Mash the banana and add it to a deep medium bowl, add to it the vanilla extract, maple syrup and oil and mix well, then add the milk and mix again.  Add this to the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk until just combined. Add mixture to the loaf pan and bake for 43 minutes .
When done cool on wire rack still in the pan for 5 minutes – remove carefully and continue to cool.