Monday, July 27, 2015


Best Blog Tips

I must confess that Julie Hasson inspired this dessert with her scrumptious-looking creamy vegan chocolate-crushed vegan "Oreo"-topped pie that she shared at a demo we did together in Portland OR several years ago.  However, it was so popular that I never did  get to taste it! So, I devised a recipe of my own (for my old Vegan Feast subscription newsletter) 10 years ago. I'm going to share the slightly revised and updated recipe with you here.  It makes a fabulous summer celebration dessert-- for a birthday, perhaps?

Printable Copy

Serves 12   UPDATED July 31, 2019
I do love "Oreo"type cookies, though we only indulge once or twice a year. And there are vegan (and organic) Oreo-type chocolate sandwich creme cookies on the market that make this possible. This pie is definitely an indulgence, but it's actually very easy to make if you have made the gelato ahead of time, or if you make it with your favorite commercial vegan chocolate and coffee "ice cream".
See Cooking Tips below for  vegan, palm-oil-freebrand of vegan "Oreo" cookies, and vegan graham-type cookies.

1/2 cup organic dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/4 cup vegan butter (see my homemade palm oil-free recipe here)
1 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs (see Cooking Tips below)
1/2 cup finely-chopped nuts of your choice
1 cup full-fat soymilk or nut milk
8 oz organic dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 Tbs (2 little packets) espresso powder or use 1 Tbs. instant coffee powder
2 Tbs Kahlua , other coffee liqueur, or 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
2 cups Bryanna's Revised Vegan Chocolate Gelato OR 1 pint commercial vegan chocolate "ice cream" (premium variety)
2 cups Bryanna's Vegan Coffee Gelato (see recipe below) OR 1 pint commercial vegan coffee" ice
cream" (premium variety)
GARNISH: (see Cooking Tips below)
8 organic vegan chocolate sandwich creme cookies, broken up
10 intact vegan chocolate sandwich creme cookies
Your favorite vegan whipped topping

To make the Crust:
Melt the chocolate and vegan together in the top of a small double boiler over simmering water, or in a microwave-proof bowl in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. Add to the crumbs and nuts in a bowl and mix well. Press into pie pan 1-inch up sides. Chill.

To Make the Chocolate Sauce:
Bring the soymilk to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate; whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in espresso powder and Kahlua or vanilla. Let the sauce cool.

To Fill the Pie:
1.) Microwave the Coffee Gelato  on low setting at 10-second intervals until slightly softened. Spread this evenly over the crust.

2.) Spread 3/4 cup of the Chocolate Sauce over the Coffee Gelato.

The Coffee Gelato spread over the chocolate crumb crust
3.) Sprinkle the sauce-covered gelato evenly with the broken cookies. Freeze until gelato is firm, about 20 minutes.

4.) Arrange the Chocolate Gelato in side-by-side scoops around edge of pie.

5.) Wedge 1 whole cookie between each scoop. Freeze pie until firm (covering it with plastic wrap if it's going to be in the freezer for more than a few hours), at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Cover and chill the remaining sauce.

To Serve, cut the pie into 12 wedges. Drizzle each serving with a little of the Chocolate Sauce. Add whipped topping, if you want to "gild the lily".

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 588.0 calories; 36% calories from fat; 25.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 275.1mg sodium; 183.7mg potassium; 90.9g carbohydrates; 3.5g fiber; 49.5g sugar; 7.2g protein, 13.2 points.

Cooking Tips
Country Choice Organic Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: This is the brand I use-- it's also Fairtrade Certified and free of palm oil. It is a Canadian brand, owned by Nature's Path. Find Canadian retailers here. Country Choice is also available in the USA ( carries them, too) and the UK

VEGAN GRAHAM CRACKERS (without palm oil): (Updated Nov. 27, 2016)

Some bulk graham cracker crumbs are vegan-- check the label on the bin (if it's visible) or ask your grocer to let you see the original bag.

The following crackers are "accidentally vegan" and not made with organic or whole foods ingredients (but no palm oil):
Keebler Original Graham Crackers
Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers
NOTE: Sweet & Sara's brand contain palm oil.

Another option I have used is to make crumbs out of "animal" crackers-- here are some vegan ones made with organic and/or healthful ingredients.  They are often easier to find than vegan Graham crackers and usually not expensive:
Barbara's Bakery Snackanimals Animal Cookies 
Trader Joe's Organic Animal Crackers
(Both of the above are organic, whole grain, palm-oil-free, HF-corn syrup-free, but they do contain soy lecithin)
Annie's brand Bernie's Animal Farm Cookies

Another option: there are numerous vegan (including GF) graham cracker recipes on the 'Net, if you are into making your own.

Serves 8

1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup or brown rice syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup soy, almond or cashew milk
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
(If you are allergic to nuts, use 1/4 cup more  non-dairy milk and 1/4 cup oil.)
1/2 cup light unbleached organic sugar
2 Tbs (4 little packets) instant espresso powder (If you can't find this, use 1 cup liquid espresso or strong brewed coffee instead of 1 cup of the water.)
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel® OR 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
OPTIONAL: 3 Tbs Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until VERY smooth and frothy (make sure that it doesn't feel grainy).

Chill the gelato mixture and then freeze according to directions for your ice cream machine. Scoop into a quart plastic container, cover and freeze for several hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 220.9 calories; 15% calories from fat; 4.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 102.4mg sodium; 108.7mg potassium; 48.1g carbohydrates; 0.4g fiber; 38.6g sugar; 3.2g protein.


Sunday, July 19, 2015


Best Blog Tips

 I was lucky enough to get a copy of Miyoko's new book to review and to participate in the "blog tour" for the book.  Miyoko Schinner is well-known for her ground-breaking book "Artisan Vegan Cheese" (2012), which I own. (I must confess, though, that I haven't made very recipes out of it due to all the nuts required-- a bit too rich for our way of eating, and I lack the space to air-dry cheeses--but I love her easy Meltable Mozzarella recipe!) In any case, I've been following Miyoko since her first book, "The Now and Zen Epicure" (now out of print), was published in 1991, and I have her "The New Now and Zen Epicure", published in 2001, as well.

Her new book, "The Homemade Vegan Pantry", is a  guide to creating vegan versions of staple ingredients for the fridge and pantry.  There is something for everyone in this book, I'm sure! I'm looking forward to trying her yogurt recipe, since WholeSoy is no more and I'm having trouble getting my vegan yogurt the way I want it right now. I'm also intrigued by the Flakey Unfish, Unfish Sticks, and San Francisco Fab Cakes with Capers. and many more recipes.

I chose the Unribs recipe to make for this blog tour, mainly because my husband loves all kinds of vegan ribs! I found it easy to make.  Yes, there are a few steps, but they are simple and you can go put your feet up or do something else while they bake for 90 minutes. And you end up with a large pile of delicious vegan Unribs!  You also have the option of using oil, or not-- I used a little. We ate them hot and cold, and one day I sliced some into thin slices and made a sandwich with them on my husband's special homemade white sandwich bread with a little of my homemade mayo-- yum!

The Unribs that I made
I used Mikoyo's Zippy Barbecue Sauce, also from the book, since I had all of the ingredients at hand and it was delicious and super-easy-- just dump all the ingredients into a blender and whiz it up until smooth. NOTE: Don't be alarmed by the large amount of barbecue sauce used-- it works out!

Mikoyo's Zippy Barbecue Sauce

So, here is the recipe, courtesy of Miyoko and Ten Speed Press.  I have included photos within the recipe illustrating the steps in the recipe and the finished product.
 Photo credit: © 2015 by Eva Kolenko. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Printable Recipe


Reprinted from THE HOMEMADE VEGAN PANTRY Copyright © 2015 by Miyoko Schinner. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (if you are allergic to peanuts, other bloggers have said that almond butter or tahini worked fine)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon white, chickpea, or red miso (I used a dark miso)
4 or 5 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 to 3 cups vital wheat gluten
Oil, for cooking (optional)
3 1/2 to 4 cups your favorite store-bought variety (Miyoko has a recipe for Zippy Barbecue Sauce in the book as well, which I used-- recipe for it here)
2 cups water


In a food processor or blender, combine the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, peanut butter, tomato paste, miso, garlic, and water and process until a smooth and creamy slurry is created. If you are using a food processor, just keep everything in there.

If using a blender, pour it out into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 1⁄2 cups of the gluten to the slurry and mix well, either using the food processor or by hand in the bowl. If you’re using a food processor, keep pulsing to knead the dough, adding a little more gluten flour as necessary to form a stiff dough (the more gluten you add, the chewier your ribs will be, so you can control how tender or chewy you want them). It may form one ball in the center or break up into little beads; if the latter happens, all you have to do is push it together with your hands.

If you’re mixing it by hand, knead it in the bowl for several minutes until it becomes smooth.

Roll the dough into a log about 6 inches long. Slice the log lengthwise into four “steaks” about 3⁄4 inch thick.

Now here’s one of the places where you get to decide whether or not to use oil, and how much. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat—if you’re going for oil-free, make sure that it is nonstick. If you’re using oil, add a couple of tablespoons to the skillet and let it get hot. Add the steaks and cook until browned on both sides. They will rise and puff a little.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. If your skillet is ovenproof, you can just leave the steaks in the pan. If not, transfer them to a baking dish. Mix 11⁄2 cups of the barbecue sauce with the water. Pour the diluted sauce over the steaks in the pan and cover with a lid or aluminium foil.

Bake the ribs for 75 to 90 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and just barely coats them and the steaks are chewy and cooked through. They will be relatively tender while hot but will deflate slightly and become chewier as they cool, so fear not if they seem too soft right out of the oven.

Let them cool until they can be handled without burning your fingers. Then slice each steak lengthwise into “ribs” about 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 inch thick.

Heat the skillet over medium-low heat. You’re going to sauté the individual ribs once more to brown or even blacken them on both sides. Once again, you can choose to oil or not to oil. If you like your ribs on the greasy side, you’ll want to use a good 4 to 6 tablespoons of oil to sauté them. Or you can just use a dry nonstick skillet. Cook them all until nicely dark on both sides (I like them almost black). 

Then toss them with the remaining 2 to 21⁄2 cups barbecue sauce. Now you can dig in. Or wait until the next day, when they will have deepened in flavor and become even chewier.

To reheat, just throw them in the oven or on the grill, or eat them cold with some potato salad—yum! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


Monday, July 13, 2015


Best Blog Tips
Freshly-picked chard and Kale from our garden
We are NOT great gardeners, by any stretch of the imagination. We live on an island of fabulous gardeners, so we don't even try to compete. But we manage to grow kale and chard, summer squash, herbs, lettuce and tomatoes.  No tomatoes yet, of course, but it's so nice to be able to run out and pick enough veggies for a salad or a vegetable dish. 

Lettuce growing in a long planter on the deck (the lighting looks odd because I took the pics late in the evening)

A little green tree frog beside a pot of basil

Freshly-picked basil from potted plants on the deck, ready for pesto making

Today I made my second batch of vegan pesto this summer, but I changed my recipe a little.  I decided to use pecans for the nuts because they have such rich flavor.  I used a combination of miso and nutritional yeast instead of vegan Parmesan, and a bit of lemon juice to preserve the lovely color.

Printable Recipe

Makes 3 cups

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbs. light miso
8 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbs. lemon juice (this helps keep the color green)
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. fresh basil leaves (about 8 cups, packed down)

Place the ingredients, except the basil, in a large food processor (or a VitaMix) in the order given. Add about 1/4 of the basil and pulse until it starts making a paste.  Continue adding basil, 1/4 at a time, until it is all mixed in.  Then turn the machine full on and let it run until the pesto is relatively smooth.

Pack the pesto into containers-- preferably several small ones.  Place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment directly onto the pesto and fasten the lids over that.  Refrigerate for a few days-- after that freeze them, but use it up within a month or so, or the pesto will lose flavor.

Pesto can be stirred into minestrone (soup), and used on pasta (wide flat pasta or gnocchi are preferred in the Italian province of Liguria, where pesto originated).  I use it in summer vegetable salads and on grilled mushrooms, too.

To use it on pasta, be sure to save the pasta cooking water.  Add a bit of this cooking water to a glob of pesto and stir it into the hot pasta (and cooked veggies, if you're adding them).  Keep tasting and adding until it tastes right to you-- serve immediately

Dinner last night-- pasta and kale from the garden, with pesto

Other ideas for using pesto:
Here's a recipe for a hummus-based pesto sauce for pasta. 

And try this recipe for a Vegan Creme of Artichoke and Mushroom Soup with Pesto

I love to dress grilled or steamed vegetables with pesto:


Monday, July 6, 2015


Best Blog Tips

As you probably have noticed, I like to find ways to add legumes to our meals, as a protein alternate to soy foods and seitan, and also for the texture, mild flavors, fiber and nutrients that legumes give us.  This quiche recipe features inexpensive and protein-packed lentils as well as umami-rich mushrooms, and is low in fat. (PS: What's "umami"? Back in 2006 I wrote this article about umami for vegan cooking. Here's another post I wrote about umami, and  this one discusses umami in bread making; this one discusses umami in roasted vegetables; and this one shows how you can substitute miso for anchovies or anchovy paste-- both contain plenty of umami compounds.)

I find cold quiche perfect (and rather elegant) picnic fare-- easy to transport and you can eat it from a napkin , if necessary!  Make it in the morning-- before the kitchen heats up too much--  and by dinnertime the texture will be perfect. All you need is a salad and some fruit for a perfect summer meal.

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN LENTIL AND MUSHROOM  QUICHE (can be soy-free, gluten-free,
corn-free-- see Cooking Tips below recipe)
Serves 6
This creamy quiche is an unusual way to introduce a few more legumes (in both the filling and the crust) into your menus. By the way, this quiche, because it contains no eggs, needs to be eaten cold or at room temperature after it has set sufficiently to cut easily. So, it's a great make-ahead lunch or supper dish, and also a good potluck or picnic entrée.

1/2 cup wholewheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour or soy flour
3/8 tsp salt
3/8 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp sugar
3 Tbs oil
3 Tbs soymilk or nut milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup cooked or canned, drained brown lentils
1 Tbs olive oil or vegan butter
1 medium onion, thinly-sliced
6 oz sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
Creamy Mixture:
(To make soy-free, omit tofu and use 3 Tbs raw cashew pieces and 2 1/2 Tbs more non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 cups soymilk or other non-dairy milk
1/3 cup extra-firm SILKEN tofu or medium-firm regular tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! Vegan)
1 chicken-style vegetarian bouillon cube, or enough powder for 1 cup liquid
2 Tbs cornstarch or wheat starch, OR plain custard powder, such as Bird’s
1 pinch Spanish saffron OR 1/8 tsp. turmeric (you won't need this if you use custard powder)
1/2 tsp agar powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch grated nutmeg
freshly-grated black pepper to taste

Making the crust:
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the soy milk with the lemon juice, and then with the oil. Quickly stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix briefly, forming the pastry into a ball. If it's too dry, add cold water just a few drops at a time until it holds together. Don't over mix or the pastry will be tough.

If made ahead of time, place dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate it until you're ready to roll it out (several hours or even several days).

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out the dough to fit a 9" or 10" tart or pie pan. (If using a pie pan, just bring the pastry up to the inside top of the pan and flute it, to make a shallow shell-- not over the edge, like an American pie.)

Trim the top edge neatly. Place a square of cooking parchment over the dough and weight down with 1/2 cup of dried beans, spread out evenly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove beans and paper. Cool the pastry on a rack.

For the Filling:
Heat the oil or vegan butter in a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high. Sauté the onions until they start to go limp, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Keep stir-frying until the mushrooms are golden. Add the lentils and thyme and stir gently. Set aside.

Blend the Creamy Mixture ingredients until smooth in a blender. Spread the mushroom/lentil mixture evenly over the prepared pie crust and pour the Creamy Mixture over it evenly. Place the quiche in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 400° F.

Bake 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to firm up.

The quiche needs to be chilled for about 4 hours to be firm, and will keep well, refrigerated, for a few days. You could also make mini-quiches with this filling mixture.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 263.7 calories; 34% calories from fat; 10.2g total fat; 0.0mg
cholesterol; 345.3mg sodium; 467.9mg potassium; 31.3g carbohydrates; 5.4g fiber; 4.6g
sugar; 11.1g protein.

Cooking Tips
If you can't have corn or wheat, omit the cornstarch, wheat starch, or custard powder from the Filling and, instead, use 2 1/4 Tbs. white rice flour (along with the agar), and use your favorite wheat-free pastry recipe.

Or, here are two simple non-pastry Gluten-free and Corn-free quiche crust recipes from my book "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause":
1 1/2 cups cooked (salted) brown rice (short grain sticks together best)
1/2 Tbs EnerG egg replacer beaten with 2 Tbs water (or try using 3 Tbs aquafaba/chickpea cooking liquid)
1/4 cup vegan  Parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! vegan)
2 Tbs minced onion
1/4 tsp. dried basil or other herb of choice
 Press into bottom and sides of a greased 9" or 10" pie pan. Fill and bake as

3 cups grated raw potatoes
1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 Tbs EnerG egg replacer beaten with 2 Tbs water (or try using 3 Tbs aquafaba/chickpea cooking liquid)
1/4 tsp. salt
Press into greased 9"or 10" pie pan. Bake 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then fill and bake
as directed.