Friday, December 24, 2010


Best Blog Tips

Printable Recipe
Yield:  about 50 cookies
I made these last night-- yum!  I adapted a recipe from the Dec. 2009 Cooking Light magazine.

9 ounces unbleached white flour (about 1 cup, lightly spooned into cup)
2 cups organic powdered sugar
2/3 cup organic unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan butter, softened (try my homemade vegan palm oil-free Buttah)
2 tablespoons Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
about 1/2 cup vegan hazelnut-chocolate spread (preferably palm-oil-free)
(NOTE: There's an easy homemade recipe from my book, World Vegan Feast, but the recipe is also at
Or, purchase a dairy-free hazelnut-chocolate spread-- there are many brands, such as Nocciolata Dairy-Free Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl and whisk.

Place vegan butter in a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Whisk the egg replacer and the espresso powder with 1/4 cup water until frothy and add to the margarine. Add this and the vanilla to the margarine and beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined, then, if you are using a stand mixer, use the cookie paddle to mix it until it is smooth and shiny.

if you don’t have a cookie paddle, turn the dough out onto a sheet of baking parchment and knead the dough 6 times or until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into about 50 (1-inch) balls. Roll sides of balls in the nuts, pressing gently. Arrange the cookie balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Press your thumb gently into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon of the hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie, swirling it to a peak.  Refrigerate the cookies until the spread hardens and then cover the plates.


Friday, December 17, 2010


Best Blog Tips

I'm still busy playing catch-up with housework and various projects and haven't blogged as much as I'd like to!  I've been dying to bake, but I'm trying to lose weight as well, so I've been holding off until I have company.  I hadn't quite got into the Christmas spirit yet, but we attended a great Christmas concert on Denman last night, put on by the Denman Is. Elementary and Community School and the "Rock Club" (as in "rock'n'roll"!).  Half the island came and we all had a ball-- what talented kids (including 2 of my grandaughters!). 

I wanted to share this favorite cookie recipe with you for the holidays before we head off to Vancouver for a few days to visit family and friends, and see my stepson Laurence play with his Celtic/rock band at a concert in Kitsalano.

DH loves macaroons, so some time ago I played with this recipe for several weeks.  Recipes solely based on beaten egg whites inevitably fall short of the mark when veganized, so I started with an old-fashioned American recipe which is based on sweetened condensed milk.    I used unsweetened large-flake coconut because I liked the texture better and I wanted them less sweet than usual, but you can use whatever coconut suits you.

We really enjoyed these, and they are easy to make and pretty, with lots of coconut crunch.   They are also versatile, and can easily be altered by adding bits of chocolate or dried fruits. The recipe can be doubled, in which case, beat the sugar mixture in a blender.

Yield: 30
UPDATE: Dec. 2014.  If you prefer, you can use 1 ¼ cups of one of the many vegan sweetened condensed milk recipes on the internet instead of my own version (included in this recipe)-- just do a quick search and you'll find lots.
       In any case,  if you are allergic to soy, you will have to use one of the traditional-type recipes in which you cook down the milk of your choice slowly (may take an hour) until it is reduced and thickened.

Easy Sweetened Condensed Soymilk (just enough for this recipe):
3/4 cup unbleached granulated organic sugar (light color)
1/3 cup boiling water
1/2 Tbs vegan "butter" of choice (try my homemade vegan plam-oil-free butter)
3 Tbs soy milk powder
2 1/2 Tbs soy protein powder (plain)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1 pinch salt
Whipped Egg Replacer:
2 Tbs Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder (only these will whip up properly)
1/4 cup water
7 oz large-flake unsweetened coconut (or use smaller shreds, if you like)
If you like, you can add up to a cup of finely-chopped dried cranberries, pineapple, mango or papaya, or vegan semi-sweet chocolate
In the container that comes with a hand immersion blender, mix the sugar, boiling water, and Earth Balance.  Stir to melt.  Add the remaining ingredients up to and including the salt.  Blend until the mixture is smooth.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Beat the water and egg replacer in a stand mixer until like almost-stiffly-beaten egg whites (about 7-10 minutes). You can use the whip attachment on a Kitchen-Aid mixer, or the small whip attachment to the Bosch Universal Slicer/Shredder bowl, or the beaters on any inexpensive stand mixer-- it doesn't need a powerful motor to perform this task. 

Scoop the sugar mixture into the beaten egg replacer and fold until thoroughly mixed.  Add the coconut (and any optionals you are using) and mix evenly.

Line two cookie sheets with cooking parchment.  Scoop the cookie mixture out in slightly rounded tablespoons or with a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism.  Place the mounds, which should not be loose-- make sure the mixture sticks together well-- about 1" apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until the cookies begin to turn golden.  Cool on racks.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per cookie): 71.5 calories; 53% calories from fat; 4.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 24.1mg sodium; 46.7mg potassium; 7.4g carbohydrates; 1.1g fiber; 5.7g sugar; 1.1g protein; 1.6 points.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Best Blog Tips
Dori's Raw Cranberry Relish (recipe below)

We don't go to alot of parties, but yesterday we had 2 in one day-- our neighborhood Christmas get-together, and our vegan dinner party group holiday meal.  Both are potluck, so I made most of my contributions, or the components to them, on Saturday.

Herbed Mushroom Pate (UPDATE: recipe in my new book World Vegan Feast)

At 4 PM we went up the road apiece to our neighbors, Toby and Mikell, to meet and greet and eat with the neighbors in our little area of Denman Island.  It's a diverse group of interesting people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. Unfortunately, in order to finish off my dishes for the vegan dinner party, we only had an hour!  Most of the nibblies there looked wonderful, but were not vegan.  There were some lovely roasted nuts, olives, a spicy bowl of popcorn and some aromatic mulled (local) cider, which was plenty for us, since we had a feast to attend later!  I brought my Herbed Mushroom Pate (recipe in my new book) because I got several requests for it after the last party I brought it to.  ALL of the omnis loved it and I must admit that I take pleasure in watching the reactions when I tell them  there's no meat involved!  (I made an extra one for us to enjoy at home, too-- it makes a great snack on a  rye crisp cracker, or a delicious sandwich.  I usually make more than one at a time because it freezes well.)

We rushed home to turn on the oven and roll out the fat-free vegan brioche dough (rising in the refrigerator) for my Vegan Chikn Pot Pie, which is full of somewhat unusual veggies and a sherry-laced cream gravy-- I'd made the filling the day before and the gravy that morning.  I popped those in the oven along with one of my seitan "hams" (made 2 of them on Thursday) and some pineapple chunks.  I had made the "ham" gravy that morning, along with a delicious raw cranberry relish.

Vegan Chikn Pot Pie, just out of the oven above; leftovers below 

My seitan "ham":

It was great to join with the four other couples in our vegan dinner group for great conversation, wine, and too much wonderful vegan food!

Starting the dinner with Fireweed's absolutely delicious Borscht, made with local (roasted) beets and potatoes!  In the center of the table is Sarah's scrumptious Succotash Salad, which I neglected to get a separate photo of, darn it!  It was soooo good-- full of lima beans, corn, arugula, zucchini and lots of other stuff.

Also un-photographed, I'm afraid,  was our hostess's lovely roasted potatoes and glazed, grilled eggplant slices.

Ellen brought the dessert, which included some delicious Scandinavian almond brittle, again, un-photographed, as well as:
 Homemade vegan truffles

 Ellen's refreshing raw berry pudding with vegan ice cream and a truffle on top!

Here's the recipe for the raw cranberry relish I brought.  It was given to me by Dori Harvey, a longtime subscriber of my now-defunct  newsletter, an enthusiastic vegan cook, many years ago and we loved it!  It was a hit at the dinner party, and I ate some for breakfast!

Printable Recipe

Place the following in a food processor and chop to the size of rice:

12 ounces fresh whole cranberries
1 peeled orange or 2 mandarin oranges, removing most of the pith
2 Tbsp. grated organic orange zest
1 medium apples, cored and chunked

Add the following to a medium mixing bowl along with the processed mixture above:

1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
Optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine well.  Allow flavors to meld one hour.

Dori wrote: “Whenever I find a great buy on cranberries I make a bunch of this up and freeze it in addition to just freezing the berries.  I add it to muffins, put it in salad dressing, and directly onto the salad when I want color.  I also add it to sandwiches, stir into my morning oatmeal, and top cornbread with it for an interesting change.  Even after it has been frozen it has an acceptable texture.  As you can tell this is my favorite.”


Friday, December 10, 2010


Best Blog Tips

Last night we had dinner at our good friends Yoshi and Susan-Marie's house. Our hosts provided the bulk of the meal, our friends David and Carmen brought a lovely green salad, and I brought a bean dish and a simple dessert. The dinner wasn't Japanese, but was served somewhat in the Japanese style, with a number of small vegetable dishes to complement the rice. Yoshi made a delicious rice dish with yuba (beancurd skin) and mushrooms, and Susan-Marie served it with; a sweet and sour tomato soup with potatoes, steamed winter squash, marinated leeks and crostini. Most of the produce she used was grown in their own garden. The leeks tasted almost like marinated artichokes... so good!

I brought a dish I blogged about before-- Madhur Jaffrey's Black-Eyed Peas with Corn and Dill from her book "World Vegetarian". I've been reading (and owning) Ms. Jaffrey's books for years, but "World Vegetarian" is my favorite. It's not confined to Indian cuisine, with over 600 recipes from five continents with endless flavor combinations for beans, vegetables and grains (and dairy, too-- but you can ignore that chapter or use vegan subs). This encyclopedic volume it is arranged so that you can look up the chapter, say, on "Dried Beans, Dried Peas, Lentils and Nuts" and check for, in my case this time, recipes featuring black-eyed peas, and you will find a few recipes utilizing whatever is the particular item you have in mind and in your pantry. You always find a new surprise because you are always looking at it in a different frame of mind from the last time!

The recipe I made (on p. 19) is one of my favorites. It's made with items that I always have in my cupboard and freezer (corn, dill, chiles, onions, etc.),and it's full of flavor and texture, but very easy to make. Diners are always surprised by the goodness of this homey but spicy dish.

For dessert I brought the pineapple upside-down cake from Tamasin Noyes' recent and very popular book, "American Vegan Kitchen". It was easy to make and turned out beautifully-- as you can see from the photo! The only changes I made were to use half wholewheat pastry flour in the batter, and substitute dried cranberries for the cherries in the topping. Our hostess asked me for the recipe because she, though not a vegan, would prefer to make this without the eggs and so much fat as her normal recipe. We ate the whole thing!

Tamasin's book is well-written, with clear instructions, lots of homemade basics (so you don't have to go buy all your components!), and the kind of recipes most us in North America remember with nostalgia!

Here's a photo of my homemade Almond Creme whipped topping on top of a trifle (UPDATE: recipe from my book "World Vegan Feast", and shared here:


My new Cinnamon Red KitchenAid Wide-Mouth 12-cup food processor!

A few months ago my food processor died and I had to decide on a new one. The KitchenAid got rave reviews, but I couldn't afford the 12-cup one (over $300 in Canada!), so I got the 7-cup one with a small extra bowl for chopping small amounts. It's a great machine, but I missed having more room to do large batches, and my stepson said he'd buy my smaller one. Cook's Illustrated magazine reviewed food processors and gave the 12-cupper a rave review-- even better than the largest Cuisinart! Now they have one with "the largest feed-tube in the business!", called a "wide mouth"-- you can practically put 1/2 a small cabbage in there! I searched and searched for the best prices, locally and online, debating whether to go for the older 12-cupper, or the new wide-mouth. Price WAS an issue, even though I expect to get alot of years out of it.

Well, long story short, I found the wide-mouth (in Cinnamon Red-- not a popular color, I guess!) on eBay, IN CANADA (wonder of wonders), brand-new, in the box, for $179 (which included shipping!). That included all the 3 slicing and shredding discs, an egg whip (have to try it with egg replacer!), and a citrus press.  (You can get this same one in white in the States from for $199 in the States; or in Candy Apple red, with 4 discs for $228. But it was $273.75 Cnd. from and $379 in alot of places in Canada!. So, I'm happy, and my stepson is happy!

It should get a work-out during the holiday season, and looks very Christmasy, too!


Thursday, December 2, 2010


Best Blog Tips  
Mandarin Orange and Beet Salad

Now, Bon Appetit magazine might not be the first place to look for vegan recipes, but I found two in the latest issue while I was perusing it in the car as we waited for the 3 PM ferry.  I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner last night, so I was open to ideas.  Also, we had gone out to lunch with my mother and a friend, and ate too richly, I'm afraid!  So, I wanted something healthful and fairly simple.  Soup and a salad sounded perfect. I opened a page, and there was an article about the "perfect" lentil soup, which intrigued me because I love lentils.  As I read on (and it sounded good), I was further intrigued by the use of blended, cooked chickpeas to thicken the soup and provide a creamy base.  I had to try it!  I knew that I had chickpeas in the freezer and everything else I needed.  I thought I had French lentils, too, but I found out when I searched the pantry that I had used them up.  But I was determined, so I decided to take a chance and use regular green lentils.

It was fairly simple and quick to make (the lentils cook in about 30 minutes), even after putting all the grocery shopping away, etc..  I may not classify it as the "perfect" lentil soup, but it's delicious and creamy and I'll make it again!  It has also opened up new possibilities for using pureed legumes as a thickener and to add creaminess.  Yes, I have used pureed white beans and potatoes instead of cream in soups, but I need to be more adventurous!

My version of the following delicious soup:

BON APPETIT’S CURRIED LENTIL SOUP (with a few minor changes)
Curry powders vary in flavor and heat; begin with two tablespoons and add more according to your taste. (My changes in red italics.)
6 servings
Recipe by Molly Wizenberg

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils (I didn’t have any French lentils, so I used ordinary green lentils.)
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1/ 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed (I used home-cooked chickpeas that I had in the freezer—1 1/2 cups.)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter (use vegan butter, like my homemade palm oil-free Buttah)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Ingredient Info
French green lentils are small, dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.

DO AHEAD Soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.

Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges. 

Nutritional Information
One serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 289.2; %Calories from Fat 37.9; Fat (g) 12.2; Saturated Fat (g) 3.4; Cholesterol (mg) 10.0; Carbohydrates (g) 35.6; Dietary Fiber (g) 9.0; Total Sugars (g) 3.5; Net Carbs (g) 26.5; Protein (g) 11.1; Sodium (mg) 30.4


The second recipe I wanted to make was a lovely looking beet and tangerine salad with a cranberry dressing. I didn't have any tangerines, but I had some mandarin oranges that needed using.  I had beets.  I didn't have watercress, but I could use Romaine lettuce, and I didn't have red onion, so what I ended up doing was soaking thinly-sliced yellow onion in red wine vinegar, to both give it a slight pink color and to get ride of some of the sulfur compounds in the onion.  I also had no cranberry juice concentrate for the dressing, but I had my own Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette already made in the refrigerator.  So, I improvised and it was both beautiful and delicious!

BON APPETIT’S BEET AND TANGERINE SALAD WITH CRANBERRY DRESSING (with, actually, several changes from yours truly!)
For this colorful and festive starter, be sure to grate the peel from the tangerines before cutting off the rind and slicing them into rounds. (My changes in red italics.)
Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

3/ 2 1/2-inch-diameter red beets, tops trimmed
3 large tangerines (such as Murcott) (I used 6 mandarin oranges.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/3 cup paper-thin slices red onion (I used yellow onion and I soaked it in red wine vinegar for about 30 minutes, rinsed and drained it.)
1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed (I used crisp, torn Romaine lettuce.)
NOTE from BCG: For the dressing, I had no cranberry juice concentrate, so I used 7 tablespoons of  homemade Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette that I had in the refrigerator, and I added finely-grated mandarin orange zest.
  The recipe is here.

Place beets in deep large microwave-safe bowl. Add enough water to reach depth of 1 inch. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until beets are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely grate enough peel from tangerines to measure 2 teaspoons. Cut top and bottom off each tangerine. Cut off all peel and white pith, following contour of fruit. Cut each tangerine horizontally into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, removing any seeds. Whisk oil, cranberry juice concentrate, vinegar, and reserved tangerine peel in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in onion.

Hold 1 beet under cold running water and rub off skin. Repeat with remaining 2 beets. Cut beets horizontally into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle beets with salt and pepper.

Arrange watercress sprigs on large platter to cover. Arrange beet rounds and tangerine rounds atop watercress. Using fork, lift onion slices from dressing and arrange over salad. Drizzle with dressing.

Nutritional Information
One serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 133.5; %Calories from Fat 49.1; Fat (g) 7.3; Saturated Fat (g) 1.0; Cholesterol (mg) 0; Carbohydrates (g) 17.0; Dietary Fiber (g) 2.5; Total Sugars (g) 13.4; Net Carbs (g) 14.6; Protein (g) 1.8; Sodium (mg) 44.7