The one year anniversary of my moving from my forever home in New York City to my new forever home Philadelphia (a.k.a. The City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love) became a day-long celebration of, well, love.
The Veggie Queen visits Philly
My longtime sister-from-another-mister Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen, was due for a short visit Monday through dawn Wednesday. Her upcoming visit had me not only excited, it but moved my packing and organizing for this weekend’s departure to the resort and spa that Jill and I love most in the world—Rancho La Puerta—into high gear.
BIrthday cake at Rancho La Puerta last year. I’ll be at The Ranch for my birthday this year!
I’m going to give you an idea of Jill’s whirlwind visit and my ever deepening appreciation of Philly and the many Philly friends who’ve supported me over the years and made my move a piece of vegan cake in this blog post today.
Jill eats her lunch salad on my terrace in Philadelphia
Jill, who had stayed with me in my New York City apartment, walked in and her jaw dropped. “Fran, you have so much more space AND a terrace with a view!” Yes, I do, and I’m grateful for it. I had a heart connection with this apartment, and as soon as I walked in, I knew. I’d made a big lunch salad for us, using chickpeas “leftover” from making the aquafaba meringue that she tasted for dessert, three ways. Certainly, the plating of these desserts is awful but I wanted her to taste all of the meringues, along with the raw chocolate tart I’ll be making at the Ranch. It is a recipe from the Rouxbe Essential Vegan Desserts course.
I asked Jill to taste 3 desserts
We waited for my new sofa to be delivered– it was and it’s very nice, and then we hit the streets. Happy Hour at VEDGE was a must, and I live just five minutes away. We enjoyed all of the dishes on the Happy Hour Menu, and then off the menu, we tasted three perfect ice creams: Rhubarb, Snickers, and Kumquat. Jill got to meet chefs Kate and Rich, too. A fellow diner told us about the live Cuban music happening at 8 pm at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. We went, we listened, watched, and danced.
Happy Hour at Vedge ice creams from the dinner menu.
Friends finding friend’s products at Mom’s Organic Market – Jill with Miyoko’s Creamery Butter
It was time for Jill and chef-educator Charlene Nolan to meet in person at the market that has become my go-to, Mom’s Organic in Center City. As a New Yorker, I had never heard of Mom’s, but Char told me I’d be there several times a week, and that is true. We strolled over. While awaiting Char’s arrival, we played “spot the friends’ products.” That included Soom Tahini, Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart among many of the others, and our gal-pal Miyoko’s Vegan Butter was back in stock as you can see.
Char & Jill meet in person at Mom’s
Jill, Char, and I chatted for about 2 hours, after posing with produce. Then Jill and I went on to Reading Terminal Market. We didn’t take any photos, but you bet we had fun.
Special lunch salad at Mom’s in Center City, Philadelphia
A Walking Tour of Philadelphia
The real walking that totaled six miles by the time we reached our final destination, Soy Café, for dinner, began now. We went to Independence Plaza, Penn’s Landing, and to the 9th Street Italian Market to see Fantes Kitchen Shop. I told Jill they carried everything, and she soon agreed. Jill got to meet the owners Mariela and Liana and talk pressure cooking. We also went to Cardenas Taproom, where Jill flipped for the fig balsamic, in particular.
Mushroom Pho at Soy Café
Although I’m much better about directions now, I’m still known as Wrong Way Costigan, so I was thoughtful about walking to Northern Liberties and Soy Café, where we’d meet chef Alice and wish her a happy 14 year birthday for the café, along with Dynise Balcavage and Andrea Corbi Fein, a lovely and talented Philly friend who is a Rouxbe Plant Pro grad. This took us through many neighborhoods, and with about 1.5 miles to go, we started flagging but persisted. Once we got to Second Street, I showed Jill Penn Herb, the oldest natural food stores in the city, and Blackbird Pizza, a few doors away from Soy Café. We sat down tired and revived ourselves a bit with an Inspired Brew Kombucha.
How to cook beans
So what do beans have to do with this? Well, one of the dinner companions mentioned she’d met someone who didn’t know what a bean was. We all agreed that people who want to eat more healthfully need to be taught compassionately. There are no dumb questions!
No Churn Avocado Lime Ice Cream will satisfy your sweet cravings on hot summer days. It’s vegan, gluten-free, no added-oil and low in sugar. It’s paleo too, when made with all coconut sugar. But I am sharing this recipe because it is fast and easy.
Sure, the day after the rainy and cool Memorial Day weekend in Philly was bright and sunny and the temperature hit close to 90°F. Having passed on the vegan ice cream at Penns Landing, from Franklin Fountain over the holiday weekend, I had ice cream on my mind. I had a blog post to write. I wanted a fast no-ice-cream-maker needed ice cream since my fabulous just-plug-it-in-and-go ice cream maker was still in a box in the closet from my move last year to Philly.
Avocado Lime Ice Cream
The single avocado in my refrigerator, the one that I hoped would be perfectly ripe, but not-too-ripe (for what I thought would go into the raw kale avocado salad for my dinner) said, “Use me.” When I spied 2 little limes and a 5.4 ounce can of coconut cream in the refrigerator too, it became clear that I’d try my hand at a vegan Avocado Lime Ice Cream. In Mexico, particularly in Oaxaca, this frozen treat is a staple refresher. I’ve seen many recipes for Avocado Lime Ice Cream, many using sweetened condensed milk, sugar syrups, eggs, and heavy quantities of maple and agave syrups. I thought differently. I did pour out a small amount of coconut nectars but after tasting them, I decided against adding the rather definite flavor of these sweeteners. Instead, I opted to use 2 tablespoons each of coconut sugar and organic cane sugar.
I did write down the ingredients I had in mind and the quantities. Not a very detailed recipe at that, but a start and quite easy. (I’ve learned my lesson about “I’ll remember, no need to get pen and paper.”) I needed only a cutting board, zester, can opener, and blender, and five ingredients: avocado, lime zest and juice, coconut cream, water, and granulated sweetener.
Rejoice I did, as I bet many of you do as well when the cut avocado is perfect! I learned years ago that using a too-ripe avocado in desserts yields a too vegetal flavor.
The lime zest was fine and fluffy, thanks to my new microplane zester. These last a long time, but not forever. Grate only the outer green part, leave behind the bitter pith, and always zest the limes before you juice them.
Squeezing the limes in my lemon yellow juicer yielded 3 tablespoons of juice. I stirred the zest into the juice to allow it to soften while I opened the can of coconut cream. Why coconut cream you might be asking? Simple. I didn’t want to open a full can of cold coconut milk since I thought the amount of cream that would have—or actually should have risen to the top—might be too much for what I was making. This was either a half recipe test or a full small household recipe, to be seen.
The five ingredients went into the blender and the taste was delicious. Not too sweet, with lots of bright citrusy lime. I did not use the blender’s tamper, instead, I stopped the blender a few times and moved the mixture around with a spatula.
Freezing the Ice Cream
As is my habit, and should be yours, I did a test before commiting the base to the freezer. Here I spooned a scant tablespoon of the ice cream base into a small freezer-proof dish, put it into the freezer and set the timer for 10 minutes. I used the time to wash the cutting board, and knife but not the blender in case I needed to adjust the recipe.
At 10 minutes: almost frozen, still creamy
At 15 minutes, frozen, still creamy
At 20 minutes, still frozen and still creamy
I spooned the 1 1/3 cup yield of ice cream base into a flat container, wondering still if it would be scoop-able when solidly frozen for hours or overnight. Usually, I babysit what I am testing, but I had to leave the apartment. I wrote the time, 3:36pm, in my notebook.
When I returned at 6:30pm, I took the container and the second little test from the freezer to the counter. Frozen but not rock hard, still. Five minutes at room temperature was all it took for me to enjoy a citrus-fresh tasting creamy ice cream appetizer, the sample, while my dinner warmed.
This morning, after an overnight in the freezer, the ice cream needed closer to 12 minutes at room temperature to be scooped. Watch yours, it might need less time.
Serve Avocado Lime Ice Cream with toasted coconut shreds or flakes, cacao nibs, chopped macadamia or pistachios, sliced banana, fruit, or anything you’d like, but load up the ice cream with the fruit! I’d try some chopped cilantro as a garnish too. Here I have topped the 3 small scoops with cake crumbs, toasted coconut flakes, chopped pistachios, and a drizzle of the ganache I always have in the freezer. I added blueberries but forgot the photo.
No Churn Avocado Lime Ice Cream
Note that I am giving you a recipe that makes a small amount – enough for 2 to 3 servings. Simply double the recipe to make a larger batch.
Makes 1 1/3 cups (double for 2 2/3 cups)
1/2 an average size avocado, ripe, but not too ripe
finely minced zest and juice of the two small limes ((about 1 tablespoon zest and 3 tablespoons lime juice))
5.4 ounce can coconut cream ((this is 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp, or 150 milliliters))
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons cane sugar
Put all of the ingredients into a blender container. I used my Vitamix high-speed blender.
Start blending on low speed and quickly increase the speed to high. You will need to stop the blender a few times to scrape the sides and get the mixture moving.
Taste and add more sweetener or lime, but to me this was just right.
Spoon the puree into a shallow container. Cover and freeze for 3 hours or until solid. Every freezer is different.
Ten to fifteen minutes before serving, remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften until you are able to scoop portions into serving dishes.
Serve with toasted coconut shreds or flakes, cacao nibs, chopped macadamia or pistachios, sliced banana, fruit, or even chopped cilantro.
The color of this No Churn Avocado Lime Ice Cream is not bright green, and that’s just fine.
Elixr, a really cool coffee house, is just five minutes from my home, and that alone is very good news. Odd, don’t you think that it took my kids visiting from Bucks County recently to let me know about this terrific place. My first time there, I wanted a matcha latte and asked if they served Oatly, the oat milk sensation from Sweden. Indeed they do, and I enjoyed a delicious matcha Oatly oat milk latte! More recently I’ve had an iced matcha latte as well—on one of the (too) rare warm days so far in Philadelphia.
Today, after two workouts—Yes, I did!—I came home wanting a matcha latte, but the rain was pouring down, and I didn’t want to go outside again. Then, I remembered I’ve made oat milk a couple of times and really liked how quickly it is to make, and how creamy the milk is. I decided to make a half batch, because instead of using rolled oats, as usual, I used steel cut oats. Why steel cut? Well, that’s what was in my pantry. “Use what you have if possible,” is my motto.
Homemade Oat Milk
I tasted no difference in the resulting creamy oat milk between the batches I’d made with the rolled oat and today’s steel cut oat milk. The difference was in the prep, or as we say at the Rouxbe Cooking School in all of the courses (Plant Based Professional, Essential Vegan Desserts, Culinary RX), the mise en place. I do not soak rolled oats, but I did soak the steel cut for 20 minutes in boiling water. Next, I strained the oat milk through a fine mesh strainer, and added the resulting oat cream to add to my morning oatmeal. I expected the oat milk to be bland, so I added, as I normally do, some vanilla extract and maple syrup. Delicious. You can add any sweeter or flavoring you like.
I made what I consider to be a half recipe, as I was not sure of the final result. Scroll to the recipe and increase it to make a larger amount. You can certainly soak the steel cut oats longer in room temperature water and I am sure you make oat milk from oat groats. Those will need a much longer soak. Per my usual, I started the blender on low and quickly increased the speed to high. Boom. Creamy oat milk.
Oat Milk Matcha Latte
The baristas at Exlir have nothing to worry about, but I saved money and didn’t have to go out in the rain. My frother is on the fritz so all I could do was heat and aerate the milk. The milk aerated a lot less than almond milk and soymilk, but still, it made a fine oat milk latte. Oat milk is a good plant to use in baked goods too I learned this in Italy during my Vegano Italiano Tours, where I first found it.
Oats are very healthy, as is matcha, so this is a win-win! According to Mother Jones, oat milk has three times the protein of its almond-based rival and at least twice the fiber.
Some of the health benefits of oats include:
Oats are rich in antioxidants
They contain a powerful soluble fiber called beta-hlucan.
Oats can lower cholesterol levels and protect LDL cholesterol from damage.
They can improve blood sugar control.
Homemade Oat Milk
This oat milk comes together quickly and tastes great! Enjoy it in your morning latte. Feel free to increase the recipe. Don’t blend longer than it takes to make the milk, or you risk having a gummy oat milk. Add water if you want it to be thinner.TIp: You can add a few pitted dates to the blender and allow to soak with the oats.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups creamy oat milk
½ cup steel cup oats
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple syrup, or to taste
Pinch sea salt
Place the oats and boiling water in high-speed blender and allow to soak for 20 minutes. If you’d prefer to use room temperature water, allow the oats to soak longer.
Start blending on low and quickly increase the speed to high.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag. Save the oat cream to add to your cereal.
Add the vanilla extract, maple syrup, and salt. Taste and add more sweetener, or spice- like cinnamon, if you like,
Oat milk will separate, so just shake it. It lasts 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Why do a variation of my tried and true, very popular Big Orange Bundt Cake? Well, I fell in love with the Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan that I bought at Fantes, and had to honor it, so I did an Orange Almond Bundt Cake using almond meal and blood orange extra virgin olive oil. It is divine, just like the bundt pan.
I stuck with apple cider vinegar but the Lambrusco from Cardenas is out from my salad. lunch.
The Orange Almond Bundt Cake Variation:
I reduced the whole wheat pastry flour to 1 cup from 1 1/2 cups.
I replaced the 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour with 1/2 cup almond flour.
I replaced the neutral vegetable oil with Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Cardenas Taproom.
I changed the granulated sweetener too, just a little.
Now just look at this cake! I found it so stunning on its own that I did not glaze it. Don’t forget though, with bundts, you want the cake to come out of the pan. Use a pastry brush to oil all crevices and then lightly coat with ap flour. You can use one of the aerosol sprays for cake release.
The question became, “How do you cut such a cake?” The answer is just like any cake.
My June newsletter will discuss the differences between almond flours and meals and ground almonds.
This is a variation of my Big Orange Bundt Cake recipe from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar
2/3 cup Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil or any oil
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup any non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
3 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Oil a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan thoroughly.
Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the white flour, pastry flour, almond flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and sugar, to the strainer. Use a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to distribute the ingredients.
Combine the Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil, orange juice, non-dairy milk, vinegar, vanilla and orange extracts, and zest in a separate bowl, and whisk until well combined. Pour into the dry mixture and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan. The pan will be two-thirds full. (If you have more batter than that, perhaps a cup or so, bake it in one or two 1-cup baking ramekins or custard cups.) Smooth the top of the batter with a small spatula. Rotate the Bundt pan to level the batter, and tap it lightly on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden and springs back near firm at the center when touched lightly. A tester inserted in a few spots near the center of the cake should come out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.
Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Place another wire rack on top of the cake and turn the pan upside down. Shake the pan gently to release the cake. Cool the cake completely before serving.
TIP: If the cake seems stuck in the pan when it is inverted on the rack, wet a kitchen towel with very hot water. Press it onto the cake pan. Wait a few minutes and the cake should release. Failing that, put the cake back into the oven for a few minutes, and try again.
Looking towards Mother’s Day this Sunday, May 13th, I am honored to offer a guest post from the founders of the iconic Bloodroot Restaurant entitled Purpose, along with a lovely spring recipe happens to be perfect for the day we celebrate moms. I have long been inspired by Selma Miriam and Noel Furie, the founders of Bloodroot, which can be found in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s historic Blackrock neighborhood.
This unique restaurant has not only survived for decades, but it has thrived for over 40 years and is still led by Selma and Noel, the founders. The food is diverse, ethnically inspired, vegetarian, and delicious. The menu is constantly evolving, as new international cuisines are tested and added, but one thing remains constant at Bloodroot—Selma and Noel’s principles. An entire wall is dedicated to antique photographs of (mostly) anonymous women, Bloodroot’s posters, handwritten signs, and tapestries, which create a unique and welcoming experience. Still, it is the food that brings people – neighborhood regulars and destination diners – to Bloodroot.
I remember getting an email from Selma sometime after More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts was published. Her note said, “We like your voice in this book and would like to carry it.” How proud I felt. I know you will enjoy this essay from Bloodroot’s founders, my guest bloggers this week, as part of my Fabulous Women in Food series, as well as the recipe. Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a copy of the new Bloodroot Calendar Cookbook. Happy Mother’s Day.
Every restaurant, indeed every business has a purpose. Perhaps simply to make money. Perhaps to make a duplicate of what already exists – such as the best modernist food, or the most vegan, raw, gluten-free place to eat, totally organic, all food locally sourced, etc.
None of these are our main purpose,and one’s purpose determines what kind of food results and what the customer’s dining experience becomes.
Our purpose starts with our feminism. Others will have different definitions of feminism, but amongst other issues, to us it means: Not eating other sentient creatures, and so most of all, we want to be as vegan as possible. We also want to eat with the seasons as much as we can, and to use local farms and to buy from the farmer’s market in season, but we especially treasure learning the foods of people from all over the globe, and to find what dishes Latina, Asian, Mediterranean folks, etc. cook with no meat, chicken or fish. We want to learn and to cook from people all over, to use food as a welcome to everyone.
We truly believe that a world that promotes respect and admiration for others is a world we want to live in, and we believe that there is no art or craft form better to spread that respect than the sharing of food. That is our purpose, to learn other people’s food, and to share and promote from as many cultures as possible (no secret recipes!).
We believe we are unusual, in fact unique, in that we are unlike other restaurants.
We are not health food
We are not fancy food
We are not really expensive
We are not really cheap
We haven’t a “trained” chef
We don’t have a wait staff
We are political – that is feminist-vegetarian
We don’t want to eat other sentient creatures
We care about the environment
We do care about health – just not the endlessly changing fads
We love the idea of finding, cooking and promoting food from all over
I like what Syrians (and many other ethnic peoples) say: “We must share bread and salt between us to be friends”. We believe that understanding others happens best with food, and we want to be an agent of the sharing.
With that in mind, here is a recipe that is perfect for Spring and reflects our interest in different cultures from our newly released cookbook The Bloodroot Calendar Cookbook available from our website www.Bloodroot.com or at our restaurant.
Roasted Asparagus Avgolemono Soup with Dill
Heat oven to 425°F. Cut tough bottoms from 3 pounds asparagus. Turn bottoms into a pot and cover with 6 cups water. Coarsely chop 2 large onions and add to pot. Simmer until asparagus bottoms are tender.
Use a large soup pot to make a roux: Combine 2/3 cup grape seed oil and 2/3 cup flour over low heat until well blended. Add 1 cup white wine and bring to a boil. Add 10 cups unsweetened almond milk and bring to a simmer, stirring with a whisk. Add grated rind of 1 lemon.
Use a Vitamix to purée asparagus bottoms and a bit of the cooking water. Add purée to soup pot with 2/3 cup lemon juice.
Cut tips off reserved asparagus; turn into a roasting pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and broil until nicely colored. Set aside.
Cut remaining stems into ½ inch pieces. Turn into a roasting pan, add 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil with salt and roast in a 425°F oven until slightly browned. Set aside.
Finish soup with salt and pepper to taste. If you like, add 3 tablespoons Seitenbacher broth powder. Soup should taste strongly of lemon. Add lemon juice and lemon rind as needed. Don’t reheat asparagus stems and tips when serving. Add stems and tips to each serving of hot soup and top with minced dill.
I have a copy of The Bloodroot Calendar Cookbook for one lucky winner this week. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight on May 15th. U.S residents only, please. Good luck!
Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb is on the menu today! This naturally sweetened, quick and easy recipe is perfect for May! I know – I talked about Rhubarb in my April newsletter, but I do admit to being obsessed with this quirky vegetable that is treated mostly as a fruit. Since it has a finite season, we who like it enjoy it often while we can.
Most rhubarb recipes use huge amounts of granulated (white) sugar to make the very tart vegetable palatable. To my mind, oversweetening negates the appeal of rhubarb; that is its underlying tartness. Today’s recipe for Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb features a natural sweetener, and not too much.
Mis en place includes a random bottle of Fran-made Kombucha – Orange and Rhubarb Flavored
Rhubarb and Orange
Orange and rhubarb are complimentary flavors, and today I’m using orange three ways to flavor the rhubarb: zest, fresh juice, and my vegan orange blossom honey. The flavors create a deliciously aromatic dish—just wait until the scent of the cooking fruit wafts through your kitchen.
Serve Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb many ways!
You will find many ways to use this Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb and the resulting cooking syrup. For the first dish, I toasted a piece of a cake, one I found in my freezer. It happened to be orange, but vanilla, lemon, or chocolate would be delicious, too. I spooned some of the poached rhubarb onto about 2/3 of the cake, drizzled it with a bit of the syrup and then added a nice dollop of aquafaba meringue to which I added the smallest amount of fresh lemon juice – more citrus never hurts.
The second dessert is a Fruit Fool. Here, poached rhubarb and syrup are added to aquafaba meringue. I’ve got a spoonful of the Vanilla Custard Cream in the bottom of what you can’t really see is a teeny glass, but any cream, say – cashew or coconut cream, or even cream – would be sensational. You can fold the Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb into non-dairy yogurt or even your morning oatmeal.
More notes on this recipe: I have a big Kitchen Aid Mixer, and wondered if just 2 ounces of aquafaba would mix up well. it sure did. And the leftover meringue stayed nice and fluffy overnight in my refrigerator.
Just one caveat! Remember, do not ever eat the leaves. They are toxic. You can find more about that here.
Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb
Use Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb in a fool, to make shortcake, or with aquafaba meringue or ice cream. Note that Rhubarb contains a lot of water, so this method, although the fruit is cooked in the oven, is much more like poaching than roasting. The amount of fruit you will end of with is variable. Cook the rhubarb until it is tender but not mushy so check on the early side.
12 ounces rhubarb, rinsed and cut into approximately 2-inch pieces
finely grated zest of an organic orange, about 2 tablespoons
6 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
6 tablespoons vegan orange blossom honey, warmed until pourable
pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Put the rhubarb into a bowl. Add the zest, orange juice and honey and toss everything together until the rhubarb is coated.
Pour the coated rhubarb into a shallow dish, large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the rhubarb is softened but not mushy and the liquid is bubbling.
Remove the baking dish from the oven. Gently lift the rhubarb with a slotted spoon, right back into the mixing bowl. Some of the accumulated liquid will join the rhubarb in the bowl.
Pour the rest of the syrup, scraping any of the thicker juices from the bottom of the baking dish, into a jar and save for another time to mix, mix into berries or creams, combine with carbonated water, or spoon over ice cream!
How would you serve this Orange Oven Poached Rhubarb?
This new book, The Wicked Healthy Cookbook, Free. From. Animals, authored by my longtime friends the brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, with collaborator David Joachim (and you will meet another brother, the mixologist Darren), is everything. I know, I know, you’ve heard me gush over others of the crop of new, fabulous vegan books recently (hooray!), but this one is very special and unique. I’m not gushing and excited and shouting to you all, “pre-order this book a.s.a.p.!” just because I love and respect these men, or because the book is gorgeous (it is!), but because this is a book to learn from, to cook from, and to enjoy as a great read. And I have a copy for one winner, so make sure to read the post and enter the contest!
The photos by Eva Kosmas Flores are gorgeous. I find the dramatic black backgrounds used to showcase many of the recipe photos stunning and modern, and the photos of Chad and Derek making food and at the market and playing with food (see page 234), are just so much fun.
Chad and Derek know vegan food. Chad developed the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Course, and he and I worked together to get my Essential Vegan Desserts course at Rouxbe up and running. Derek is the Director of Plant-Based Innovation at U.K. retail giant Tesco where he has plant-based meals flying off the shelves. There’s more coming soon from this dynamic duo, but for today, back to Wicked Healthy, the cookbook!
With Derek Sarno, Tal Ronnen, Chad Sarno phot by Sally Ekus.
I’ve known Chad and Derek since 2006. We met at the Vegetarian Awakening Conference at Grand Rapids Community College, Culinary School. During that conference, we sat around with other vegan chefs discussing emerging vegan cuisine and wondering aloud if “vegan” would ever be considered a cuisine. I knew as I tasted their dishes, watched, and listened to these guys, along with our colleague Tal Ronnen (who as many of you know went on to found Kite Hill vegan cheeses and yogurt, as well as Crossroads Kitchen in L.A.) that vegan as a fine cuisine could happen, but I did wonder if, when, and how broadly. We know now that vegan cuisine is the fastest growing cuisine. You will find Tal’s recipe for his exceptional, and do-able, vegan pasta dough in The Wicked Healthy Cookbook.
80% Healthy + 20% Wicked equals “Wicked Healthy,” which means good-for-you food that tastes so good you’ll think it’s bad for you! Ok, who wouldn’t be down for that!? If you are wondering how-to though, especially newbies or the just curious, you will find the first section of the book to be a series of detailed and thorough lessons that Chad and Derek have made accessible to all kinds of eaters. (It’s mostly wicked, as there are low or no-sugar, low- or no-oil, and no gluten-free recipes—all here).
Vegan Almond Meringue Cookies
Chad and I have discussed desserts aplenty over the years, and intensely during the development of my Essential Vegan Desserts with Rouxbe. While I have made vegan aquafaba meringue many times, I was drawn to these Almond Meringue Cookies and was given permission to offer the recipe here. Follow the tips and you cannot fail.
Now, excuse me, I have to get into the kitchen to make the Wicked Healthy Cheese Sauce for lunch, and later, the Barbecued Maitake Steaks. Here in Philadelphia, we have ‘shrooms, thanks to Kennett Square, and I am fascinated by the Sarno’s break-the-rules manner of cooking mushrooms.
Almond Meringue Cookies
In the fall of 2015, we featured these cookies on several catering menus. We usually made them with dried fruit powder like raspberry, then dried the meringue in sheets and broke it up into shards, as in Brûléed Pineapple with Spiced Panko, Berries, and Meringue. Flavor the cookies however you like (see the Options), but try to stick with freeze-dried fruit powders. Liquid extracts and flavorings tend to make the meringues fall. —Chad
Plant-Based Meringue ((see below))
1 teaspoon almond extract
Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean
¼ cup finely ground unsalted roasted almonds, optional
Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make the meringue until it is fully whipped. Whip the almond extract and vanilla seeds into the meringue.
Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Or use a zipper-lock bag and cut off a corner. If your parchment is curling up from the baking sheets, dollop a little meringue under each corner to secure it. Pipe cookies into pointy mounds about 1½ inches in diameter. They should look like big Hershey’s kisses. You need only about ½ inch space between cookies because they won’t expand much during baking. Sprinkle the ground almonds, if using, evenly over the cookies.
Bake until the cookies look dry and off-white in color, 2 hours. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking for even heating. Cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in well-sealed containers. Humidity and moisture will make the cookies sticky, so store them in a cool, dry cupboard.
Raspberry Meringue Cookies: When making the meringue, add 1/3 cup powdered freeze-dried raspberries (buzzed in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute raspberry extract for the almond extract.
Lemon Meringue Cookies: When making the meringue, add 2 tablespoons lemon peel powder (buzz the dried lemon peel in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute lemon extract for the almond extract.
Candy Cane Meringue Cookies: When making the meringue, reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons and add 3 to 4 tablespoons crushed candy canes along with the sugar while whipping. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute 1 teaspoon peppermint extract or a few drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil for the almond extract.
This recipe still blows our minds. You mean the leftover liquid from a can of beans (called aquafaba) can be used to make desserts?! Most people pour their bean liquid down the drain. But surprise—it has enough protein to whip up just like egg whites. Voilà—plant based meringue! You can use this meringue as a base for everything from pancakes and pastries to meringue-topped pies and Almond Meringue Cookies. All without a hint of beany-ness. You can even use aquafaba to make Plant-Based Mayo.
1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added chickpeas
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup semifine (see Pro Tip) organic cane sugar
Strain the chickpea liquid into the bowl of an electric mixer. You should have about ½ cup.
Add the cream of tartar to the bowl and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture increases in volume and stiffens a bit, 4 to 6 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium high and gradually add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Blend about 4 minutes more, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The meringue is done when it holds its shape as the whip attachment is lifted. You should also be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue falling out. Continue whipping until you can do that. Otherwise, the meringue will not hold its shape when cooked.
Pro Tip: To make semifine sugar, grind it in a food processor or Vitamix for 10 to 15 seconds.
Think of this Mocha Tahini Milkshake as a flavored coffee drink. I almost named this Secret Ingredient Mocha Shake but I when I upped the tahini to 2Tbsp per drink, the secret was out.
My blog recipes lately have been leaning towards being more like templates for you to use as starting points, and then personalize to your particular taste. Actually, this is the way I do recipes in my home for myself, which is quite different from the way I do recipes for publications and my cookbooks –those are most definitely definite!
So scrumptiously luscious is this Mocha Tahini Milkshake (or beverage – reader’s choice), that I made and drank three samples, even though I was set after the first test. As a milkshake, this is thick and creamy, but not as thick and caloric as the infamous tahini shakes known to Philadelphians. While I don’t officially count calories, and I love the idea of Goldie’s shakes, I can’t afford to drink an entire day’s calories in one sitting.
If you follow me, you’ve noticed that I seem to have been on a tahini bender lately. Yes, but tahini tastes good and is super versatile. As a kid, tahini-based halvah was a special treat,I shared with my grandpa. Maybe this tahini-scented beverage reminds me of happy days with grandma Ida and Grandpa Joe. It is one of their plates that is holding the Mocha Tahini Milkshake and why-not, a couple of Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles. My tahini of choice is Philly’s own Soom, but any good tasting tahini will do.
Here, you have three choices. Number 3 is my favorite, and worth waiting an hour to enjoy. You could make 2 times the recipe, drink one asap, and chill the other—I did just that. With this Mocha Tahini Milkshake, we are talking about only a portion that measures 3/4 cup. You know me, pushing huge portions of greens, beans, grains, veggies and small portions of sweets.
Vegan Mocha Tahini Milkshake
Think of this Tahini Mocha Milkshake as a template for a flavored coffee drink, as there are three different ways to serve it to choose from. I like to use Soom tahini in this recipe.
2 ounces espresso, decaf is fine
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
2 tablespoons tahini ((I use Soom))
2 tablespoons plant milk, (almond, cashew, macadamia, or soy)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave nectar ((start with less and you decide))
2 ice cubes
Whisk the still warm espresso, with the cocoa powder and tahini in a glass until you’ve got a smooth paste.
Mix in the maple or agave, and add the plant milk.
Now you have a choice:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a glass, add the ice cubes, and drink enjoy.
Pour the ingredients into a blender with the ice cubes, pour into a glass and enjoy.
Or, blend it with the ice cubes, per number 2, then pour into a glass and refrigerate for an hour or until it’s really cold. You will be rewarded with a thick and creamy milkshake.
Optional: Add 2-3 tsp coffee flavor liqueur such as Kahlua per serving.
A variation of Strawberry Brown Betty is what is on my mind and on a plate today. This year, for the 3rd time in a row, strawberries topped the list of the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables, according to the Environmental Working Group. I adore fresh strawberries and have struggled over the choice between local, seasonal vs. organic, but with the EWG information, it will continue to be organic fresh strawberries for me. Yesterday at my local Mom’s Organic Market, Center City, Philly, I was delighted to see boxes of organic strawberries on sale. I looked at the boxes carefully, turning them over to check for signs of mold. I made my selection, and as soon as I got home, opened the box and checked the berries for any bruised or moldy ones. Truth: one spoiled berry will spoil the bunch. What I do when using fresh organic strawberries is not feasible, is use frozen ones in desserts.
Now, in the spirit of spring-cleaning, I am continuing to use what I have in the freezer. I found a few pieces of the orange bundt cake from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, and loved the idea of pairing this cake with the beautiful organic strawberries I bought. I defrosted a few pieces of the cakes and crumbled them, and then toasted the crumb in my oven. The cake became my bread cubes and crumbs for the Betty. Why the blueberry Betty in progress? Well, frozen berries are standing in here for fresh. Naturally, you can make a Betty more traditionally using bread crumbs and cubes too. Vary away.
What is Brown Betty?
A Brown Betty is an old-fashioned baked fruit dessert, made with coarse toasted and buttered bread crumbs or cubes, that alternate with layers of fruit. They do not have milk and eggs in them, unlike conventional bread puddings, and I figured there is no need to use bread. In fact, I decided to make a make Strawberry Brown Betty, with the above-mentioned leftover orange cake and the sliced fresh strawberries macerated in just a little pure maple syrup. If I’d had frozen strawberries, I would have defrosted them and lightly sweetened the resulting liquid. Original Bettys were totally simple, using bread, butter, and fruit. Newer recipes reflect modern tastes and spices and spirits are often added. I choose to make my Betty without adding flavorings to allowing the fruit to shine. The toasted cake still tasted of citrus.
Eating fruits and vegetables is crucial for good health, so what do we do when organic is not an option? And, what about local produce vs. shipped. Definitely food for though. Wouldn’t it be something if we were asked to pay more for chemical-laden produce. I’m very interested in your opinions and would be so appreciative of comments here on this blog post.
Strawberry Brown Betty
All measurements are approximate, based on your baking dish. Mine was 6 inches across and 3 inches high, about 4 cups. I figure that is 4 servings.
Strawberry Brown Betty is great on it’s own, but it also pairs perfectly with Vanilla Custard Cream or non-dairy ice cream.
Cake or bread crumbs to equal 3 cups
Strawberries, sliced to equal 3-4 cups, sliced to equal 3-4 cups
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, more to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Crumble the cake, defrosted if needed, onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
Toss the sliced berries with the maple syrup and allow to macerate about 20 minutes. The maple syrup here sweetens and stands in for the butter.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with about an inch of crumbs, more or less.
Add a layer of berries and some of the accumulated liquid.
Repeat 2-3 times.
Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the berries are warmed through, but not mushy.
Cool a few minutes and spoon into serving dishes. The Betty is good at room temperature too.
Serve as is, or add some Vanilla Custard Cream, or a scoop of a vegan ice cream, especially good with a warm from the oven Betty. Enjoy!
I first met Gena Hamshaw at Vida Vegan Con, when she moderated a panel that I sat on. She was organized, thoughtful and friendly—someone I wanted to get to know better. I saw Gena a few times in New York City, and was thrilled to learn that she was going to work at Food52 as the vegan blogger/recipe developer. That is a big deal! Her recipes are healthful and delicious, and altogether very appealing and cartable. Gena is detail oriented, so her recipes work for everyone!
I am very impressed with Gena’s new cookbook Power Plates, a wonderful follow-up to Food52 Vegan. This gorgeous hardcover book made me want to run into my kitchen and start cooking. Gena’s delicious recipes are focused on the art of crafting complete, balanced meals that deliver sustained energy and nourishment, and they just happen to be vegan.
Every one of the 100 recipes in Power Plates contains the key macronutrients of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, which together make for a complete meal. The book contains mouthwatering recipes for meals such as Smoky Red Lentil Stew with Chard and Falafel Bowls with Freekah and Cauliflower. Photographs accompany each recipe, showing how Gena’s simple techniques and fresh ingredients yield delicious meals. Additional tips and tricks for taking food on the go, and for cooking ahead on the weekend for quick weekday lunches and dinners, are included in the book.
Gentle Morning Kitchari
If I could eat one thing for breakfast every day, it might be kitchari, a gently spiced rice and lentil dish that holds a cherished place in Indian cooking. Also known as khichdi, the dish varies from region to region, but it’s nearly always a combination of basmati rice and dal (dried split peas or lentils, which can be found at Indian grocers or well-stocked health foods stores). White basmati or long-grain rice will yield the best results, but if you don’t have either on hand, quinoa is a good substitute.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 white or yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup (140 g) white basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed
1 cup 200 g dried moong dal, toor dal, urad dal, or red lentils
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (950 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups (475 ml) water
Lemon wedges, chopped fresh cilantro, melted coconut oil for drizzling
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, and ginger and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent.
Stir in the rice, dal, turmeric, cloves, salt, pepper, broth, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, stir well, and then simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the texture resembles porridge (for a soupier texture, decrease the cooking time, and for a thicker texture, cook it a bit longer). Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve with your toppings of choice.