"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Vegan surprises in Bath England

I really should blog my vegan travels more often. Last year for my birthday I was in Amsterdam and Berlin. I will say that although I didn’t blog it because I was probably too busy eating, that dining in Berlin completely exceeded my expectations. I would still like to reflect back with a photo journal of that week for my vegan travel records. Perhaps, it too will be handy for the vegan tourist who like me, will travel far for vegan food.

IMG_2367This time it is about falafel. Surprise #1- I had the best vegan falafel ever! Today it wasn’t about me..  just about finding a spot which served some late breakfast and was somewhat veggie friendly. We stumbled onto this cozy cafe upstairs from a local shop. Somewhere back in my service industry work experiences, I recall learning about the 30 second rule. This is a rule of thumb for a business to welcome or acknowledge you within the first thirty seconds or they could potentially lose business. Well “Americana me” shouldn’t share that with a Brit. Next thing I know the conversation switches to how we are in England not America – and especially not in New York.  Ok fine, I admit that I’m an on-the-go New Yorker with a lack of patience – guilty as charged! It’s true too that I’m on vacation and totally not in a rush. I’ll keep my service industry comments to myself. Lol. The service picked up and they were not only super polite but also extremely accommodating.

I ordered direct off the menu – a vegan falafel. This was the best falafel I have ever had. Being a New Yorker, I think I’m a pretty good judge of falafel. I didn’t ask for this “veganized” since it already was. The falafel sandwich was made with a shaved carrot, radish or cabbage finish and this amazing secret sweet chili sauce. Really wonderful flavor; something like a chutney- they should bottle that dressing alone.

IMG_2365Not that we were competing today but.. I WIN! My friend had a beautiful vegetarian frittata, although it looked something between a quiche and a potato lasagna.  The best part was that when my friend wanted a coke but couldn’t get the waiter’s attention, her British self actually had to eventually get up and get her hehe. Patience! I did get a chuckle. This place I believe was pretty much a vegetarian cafe. They didn’t have any vegan desserts but they are working on it. They had lots of gluten-free options as well soya milk for a latte. Metropolitan Cafe, Bath, England well worth the wait!

During our after lunch stroll around town, I found myself literally being pulled into the Fudge Kitchenfrom the aroma and interesting views through the window. They make the fudge right there in front of you. Of course me… IS IT VEGAN?

I must admit tIMG_2518hat I get somewhat disappointed when places don’t have vegan options. With all of today’s allergies, is it really that difficult to offer something milk free, for example. It’s not just for vegans but most of the world actually is lactose intolerant.

Anyway, I politely make my requests and was thrilled with excitement over his answer;  the gentleman said – sure I can make that fudge dairy free, which one would you like? Like a kid literally in a candy store, I jumped up like a rocket with “Salted Caramel PLEASE”.


IMG_2522Surprise #2 – Salted Caramel Fudge veganized.
The next day we picked it up and I was on a sugar high until it was completely out of my system. I’m good now for another year to my next birthday.

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Vegan day 327: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

By the time one searches for a real vegan pie.. 
one could make it themselves!
Unless of course you live next to a vegan bakery! 

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m pretty sure it will be hard to sit through a dining room filled with desserts like pumpkin pie, pecan pie and blueberry crumb pie! Instead of waiting out the torture and getting upset that most bakeries do not know how to (nor care how to) prepare a dessert without butter, butter and more butter lol.. not too mention milk and eggs,— I will just be quiet and make my own. In retrospect, had I known it would be so easy, I probably would have started baking a long time ago. 

I didn’t even waste time researching. I googled and took the first recipe that popped up on my phone. 

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/desertrecipes/r/tofupumpkinpie.htm
Recipe as per Jolinda Hackett (About.com)

3/4 silken tofu package
1 can organic pumpkin (16oz)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – could have been the key ingredient that put this over-the-top delicious!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil – That was tricky.. what should I use? I used mostly coconut oil and the rest earth balance vegan buttery spread.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of organic sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses – I used pure organic maple syrup
1 pre-made vegan pie crust – Yes I needed a shortcut today!

For once, I followed the recipe! I mixed all the ingredients in a food processor and then poured it into the pie crust. I baked it at 350 degrees until it stopped jiggling – about an hour!

The true test was my more than honest 16 year old nephew. He will simply tell it like it is.. vegan or not vegan. He did a side by side comparison with the typical pumpkin pie. He liked mine better.. I think we decided it was the nutmeg. It just had more flavor. Yay! Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Thursday, November 22nd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 321: Raw Key Lime Pie

I love KEY LIME PIE!
Not such an easy thing to replicate, however, this recipe is probably close EXCEPT that I’m sure I messed something up. It didn’t look good for sure. The pecan crust was amazing of course but the filling was a bit more challenging. I think I went avocado crazy lol. It’s really a shame that I made a mistake because the ingredients are all delicious and nutritious!

The recipe is from RAWSOME by Brigitte Mars:
First of all, I need bakeware! I honestly don’t even know what pie tins, glass pie plates or springform pans look like. Well, I just ordered a springform pan today so now I actually know. I bought that for the cheesecake that we made yesterday. I have to keep doing these recipes until I get them right!


Check out all the fabulous and RAW VEGAN ingredients here:

CRUST
2 cups pecans soaked overnight, rinsed and dehydrated until crunchy
1/2 cup of dates soaked for 20 minutes

FILLING
1 avocado- I am guessing now- NOT a giant size one
1/2 cup coconut water
Coconut meat- about the amount of one young coconut
1/3 cup lime juice
Grated peel of half an organic lime
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon celtic salt
1/2 cup dates soaked for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds

1st make the crust: Combine the pecans and dates in a food processor and mix. Press the mixture into a glass pie plate. I worked with what I had and the crust was delicious. 

Next, combine all the filling ingredients into a food processor and puree. I’m guessing I didn’t puree long enough plus I used too much avocado. Pour the filling over the crust and chill for one hours. 

As soon as I come across a glass pie plate, I’m going to try this again!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Friday, November 16th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 320: Lemon Tofu Cheesecake

Call me lucky! After yesterday’s blog- learning all about the Art and Technique of Homemade Tofu, I was fortunate to get the project of making the cheesecake. Our class broke into groups for different recipes:

(1) Lemon Tofu Cheesecake
(2) Spicy hashed bean curd and pepitas
(3) Crispy pressed tofu with garlic and mint
(4) Seared tofu with spicy black beans and mango salsa

It’s no secret by now that I love my sweets and desserts. I have however, been slowly coming to the realization that I must someday release these. Sugar is not only an addiction.. but also a drug. Sugar has many faces and nicknames as well. As I am transitioning, the best I can do is prepare desserts with the best forms of sweetness that I can find. That being said, I am thrilled to have the assignment of cheesecake since it is my most favorite dessert!

Lemon Tofu Cheesecake
(from Peter Berley, Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health)

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
2lbs extra firm tofu
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon agar flakes
1 cup of cold water
2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
3/4 cup soy milk

Procedure:
We made the crust first- it was simple: 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Combine wet crust ingredients together and then the dry crust ingredients separately- stir each well and then mix the wet and dry together 
  • Press the dough into a lightly greased 9 inch spring form cake pan
  • Bake until golden brown – about 18 minutes. We didn’t have time in class for the filling to chill completely in the pie form so we made graham crackers with the crust ingredients instead. We scored it with a knife ahead of time so we knew where to break them. 
  • For the filling, we blended the tofu, oil, maple syrup, salt, lemon juice, zest and vanilla in a food processor until creamy.
  • Next we combined the agar and cold water in a sauce pan and simmered until the flakes dissolved. 
  • In a small separate bowl, we dissolved the arrowroot in the soy milk, and then added it to the simmering pan. We cooked this over medium heat until the mixture thickened and started to bubble. 
  • Add this mixture to the food processor batch and blend smooth.
  • Pour tofu mixture into the pie crust or small dessert dishes like we did. Chill for at least an hour.
  • When using the 9 inch spring form cake pan, run a knife around the cheesecake before releasing the spring.

ENJOY!

Other dishes my class made with the tofu prepared from yesterday’s blog:

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Thursday, November 15th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 304: Raw Vegan Apple Pie

It’s APPLE SEASON so I did have to make a few apple pies! There is a difference between vegan apple pie and raw vegan apple pie! Obviously, raw is not cooked! 


I needed the warm apple pie feeling yesterday to calm my anxiety about the hurricane which was and still is a nightmare for many of my friends, families, neighbors; their pets too, businesses, transportation and structures. 

The cooking went on or un-cooking I should say. I am so grateful that I have power. I had originally wanted to make this recipe first- now I was ready. I soaked the almonds for two days and then went right into my mistake. I was to grind the drained nuts and dates. Perhaps I should have used a food processor but instead I used my Montel Healthmaster which resembles almost a Vitamix. I added enough water so that it would mix. I guess I should not have done that because now it was too moist. I set the mix in a pie tray and dehydrated it for a few hours but that didn’t help. I later caved in and committed a raw vegan cardinal sin. I baked it. It was good lol I’m sorry and I will try try again! I know I ruined it as far as raw goes. The enzymes are lost in cooking and the benefits of the essential fatty acids in the nuts were gone. I could have eaten it raw- it would have been like a cinnamon apple oatmeal with maple syrup. I didn’t though.

The filling was similar to yesterday: apples, sucanat, maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon.

The crust was almonds (2 cups soaked, drained and crushed) and dates 1 1/2 cups (soaked, drained and crushed). 


Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Tuesday, October 30th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 303: Vegan Apple Pie

Vegan Apple Pie

I made this on Sunday and writing about it now. It’s been a crazy few days due to Hurricane Sandy. The news shows are here to help us but it’s really easy to get caught up in it and become overwhelmed. I made this pie on Sunday afternoon.. my anxiety was sky high. Some how, some way.. there is something about warm apple pie that no amount of calming medicine can come close to achieving. As my windows were shaking, trees blowing and branches falling, I was amazed that I could even focus on the recipes long enough. I’m pretty sure actually that I messed up a few things. 

I followed a few recipes online. First, I will say that I have never even made a pie. After researching a few different recipes, I got the direction that I wanted to go in. I was surprised not to see eggs included in some of the recipes nor egg replacers or flax. You see, I really don’t know what I am doing.. lol perhaps I should take a vegan pie making class. They have them at the Gourmet Institute. Perhaps not though, because they are not fat and sugar free at all! 

The ingredient list that I ended up using:
I doubled this recipe for two pies!

Crust

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Almond meal flour 1/2 cup
Baking powder 1 tablespoon
Salt
Dates 1 cup
Cold water
BUTTER BUTTER BUTTER- Earth balance buttery spread of course (1 cup)

Filling
Apples (4)
Maple syrup (1/2 cup)
Sucanat whole cane sugar (sprinkle on top of apples)
Lemon juice 1 tablespoon
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Whole wheat flour

I used almond meal flour simply because I had it. I make my own sometimes with the almond pulp left over from when I make my own almond milk. I dehydrate it and then grind it. You don’t have to do all that- you can simply use whole wheat flour and even some unbleached white flour if you must. I mixed together the dry ingredients for the crust and then added the  . This is where I may have messed up. I used all of the dates here but I think some were for the filling. In any case, I used those ingredients interchangeably – dates, maple syrup   and sucanat. Use pitted dates if you can or be sure to take the pit out yourself. You can soak them first or after. Be sure to let them sit for about 20 minutes. Date paste is when you grind the soaked dates with some of the soak water for a smoother consistency using a food processor. 

Cold water- what’s that all about and COLD BUTTER? This is critical. I actually had to watch a youTube video for the how to. The idea is to achieve a flaky crust. You mix in the ice cold water and very cold butter.  Don’t let it melt is the point. Leave it flaky looking. I really couldn’t believe HOW MUCH BUTTER I HAD TO USE. THIS IS TOTALLY FATTENING- VEGAN OR NOT!
This too is when I realize I need a rolling pin
Set the pie crust in a pie tin. You need to roll out more batter for the top of the pie too. Mine is not pretty. That’s for advanced pie making lol. I am lucky I made the pie even look like a pie.

Next for the fun filling. Trying not to eat these as I made it was difficult. We cut the apples into thin slices. Then I added lemon juice, maple syrup, some sucanat and spice. Mix that nicely and use it to fill the crust. Lastly, use the remaining batter for the top of the pie and then glaze it with a couple of tablespoons of nut milk and sucanat. 

I baked this at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. It helped reduce my pre-hurricane anxiety. It was perfectly delicious especially with the cashewtopia ice cream on top!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Monday, October 29th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 302: Pineapple and chocolate

Why didn’t I make chocolate covered pineapple like you would see at a street fair… or at a chocolate party with dripping fountains of chocolate and endless fruit. Have you ever been to one of those parties? I have once and only once but oh if I could go again I would be in heaven- well only if it was a vegan chocolate party! Now I’m getting carried away! 

Two of my “almost daily” favorites are pineapples and chocolate hands down! It’s strange in a way to eat pineapple everyday- it’s certainly not a local fruit so it’s not really necessary but I do confess that I love it. What I like about pineapple health wise is the enzyme bromelain. It’s known for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Personally, I often eat the pineapple saving the last piece for my skin. I use it directly on my face. Kids don’t try this at home.. lol as if any kids read my page. I actually wish I knew this as a kid! Seriously though, always test something on a small patch of skin first before trying it. I, on the other hand, am very adventurous. I try things first and research fully second! If you have time- this blog has a few different ideas for raw food skin maskshttp://vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/raw-skin-care.htm

For more information on pineapples, check out one of my favorite informative sites on whole foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

As for chocolate and even chocolate mousse like in the picture, I have spoken about it many times! I love my chocolate.. mostly because I can still eat it as long as it’s vegan dark chocolate. Of course as with most rich and indulgent foods, one has to exercise restraint and portion control.. and actually straight up exercise will help too if you are going to eat it a few times a week like me! I have had this chocolate mousse on my brain a lot lately as I just blogged it recently and am continuing to perfect it! 

This is a cute mini-meal morning, noon or night!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Sunday, October 28th 2012 blog]