Blooming Platter Best Raw Vegan Carrot Cake
with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 1-8 inch cake

This, my first foray into raw vegan desserts, may be the best cake, baked or raw, you have ever eaten. I hope that doesn’t sound boastful, but my omni friend said as she chewed, eyes squeezed shut, “This is like church.”  So, it is omni and vegan–and teen and adult- approved.

11-12 ounces baby carrots or carrot pieces
8 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
8 plump dried apricots, quartered
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup walnut pieces
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Garnish: 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces

Line 8″ square pan with foil. Pulse all ingredients in food processor, a couple of ingredients at a time, until a homogenized, but textured, dough-like consistency is achieved.  Press in pan, frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with walnut halves or pieces.  Keep refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup coconut oil (solid at room temp)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on consistency desired)

Process until smooth.

Best Hot Vegan Crab Dip (baked)

How can healthy and quick taste and feel so decadent and delicious?

12 ounces silken tofu
4 ounces vegan cream cheese
Optional (but recommended): 2 teaspoons vegan fish sauce, sold as vegetarian fish sauce at Asian markets
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Optional (but recommended):1 teaspoon Dulce flakes
Zest and juice of one medium lemon
Optional: 1 to 2 drops hot sauce
1 can hearts of palm, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 bunch or about six to seven green onions, thinly sliced
Optional: 1/4 cup + 2 T. shredded vegan parmesan (I like Follow Your Heart brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a medium ceramic or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Process first 9 ingredients until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in hearts of palm, green onions, and optional parmesan.  Transfer to baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan, if desired, and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with toast, crostini, crackers, or raw vegetables.

Continue reading “Best Hot Vegan Crab Dip (baked)”

Bloomin’ Best Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower
(in Tacos or “Naked”)

Yield: 2 servings

Late to the Buffalo Cauli party, I had plenty of time to research recipes. Though I love battered and fried as much as the next gal–and even came across a battered and baked method which piqued my interest–and bevause I have no interest in a dehydrator, I decided to simply roast the cauli. Good choice.

So I carefully selected my Buffalo Sauce ingredients from a range of options, balancing my desire for a simple, quick recipe with an even stronger desire for complex, harmonious flavor notes.

The result is a mouth-explosion whose layered flavors belie the low calorie and fat count and throw-together quick prep time.  Add toppings and sauce–and a warmed corn tortilla if you like–and this is one beautiful, textural powerhouse of a meal.

My dear friend and dinner guest, Jill, confessed to not brushing her teeth Friday night before bed to “savor the flavor mix in my mouth.” I don’t necessarily recommend not flossing and brushing, but I do recommend this dish.

2 tablespoons melted vegan butter
3 tablespoons Pete’s Hot Sauce
1 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin or curry powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper

Condiments: shredded red cabbage, sliced celery and radishes, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and a vegan ranch-type dressing (I use Just brand) sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Optional: 4 warmed corn tortillas

Stir or whisk all ingredients together except cauliflower, condiments, and tortillas.

Place cauliflower on metal baking sheet or roasting pan, spray lightly with cooking spray, lightly salt, and roast 10 minutes. Drizzle with sauce, toss, and roast another 10 to 20 minutes depending on preferred degree of caramelization.

Serve inside warmed corn tortillas–or not–with condiments piled on top and dressing drizzled over.

Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Cream Cheese Pound Cake…ever!

Yield: 1-10 inch bundt pan

Feeling confident after successfully veganizing my go-to poundcake from years ago (read the backstory and find the recipe here), I decided to try my luck with the Southern Living Cream Cheese Pound Cake that was published in this month’s issue; the one that had me thinking about pound cake to begin with.

I am pleased to announce it was another vegan- and meatatarian-approved success. In fact, Bob said he liked it even better than its forebear. Picking for me would be like choosing a favorite dog, so you please be the judge.

Both have all the characteristics that I favor: a thick-ish, tender-chewy crust and a density that shouldn’t be confused with heaviness. But, if it is possible that this one is even more moist than the other, it is, courtesy the cream cheese which also lends a pleasing and subtle tang.

Veganegg is the key to the rise, the structure, and the texture of my pound cakes. But, almond extract is one of the keys to the cakes’ delectable flavor.  It masks the savoriness of the Veganegg that comes from the black salt which gives the product its convincing sulphery, eggy taste.

3 cups flour (I use white whole wheat)

3 cups granulated sugar (I use organic cane sugar)

1 1/2 cups vegan butter at room temperature (I use Earth Balance)

8 ounces vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti)

5 Veganeggs (10 tablespoons Veganegg powder whisked until smooth and completely combined with 1-1/4 cups ice water)

1/4 cup vegan buttermilk (1/4 cup soymilk whisked together with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar; it will curdle and thicken in about 1 minute)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 teaspoons almond extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a-10-inch bundt pan. Place all ingredients in the 4-quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Beat at low speed for one minte, scraping down sides as necessary. Then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Transfer batter to prepared pan, gently smooth top, and bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Then turn out onto rack and cool completely covered with a dish towel. Store tightly covered.

Continue reading “Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Cream Cheese Pound Cake…ever!”

Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Poundcake
…Ever!

Yield: 1-10 inch bundt cake

Toss out all other vegan poundcake recipes–including the other one here on The Blooming Platter–as THIS is my best bloomin’ poundcake…ever!

My search for the quintessential poundcake began in my youth, well before I became vegan, when I was drug to a “dinner on the grounds” at my grandmother’s country church in rural Mississippi.  There, where covered tables set end-to-end stretched over rolling hills under big oak trees for what seemed like as far as the eye could see, I had a religious experience.

That is, I tasted pure heaven in the form of a mammouth poundcake such as I had never before tasted.  Its crust was a little thick–exactly right–and the tiniest bit chewy in contrast to the almost creamy center, dense but not heavy.  It was the Platonic ideal of poundcakes.

Not knowing who made it or how to procure the recipe, I did what any other determined MS high school student would do in pre-internet days: I called the home economist at the local extension service and picked her brain.  I did the same with the home economics teacher at our school, I combed through cookbooks, and I experimented.  But the perfection of this poundcake eluded me for oh, say, a couple of decades.

Then, in February of 2000, Southern Living Magazine published the Two-Step Pound Cake  in their “Taste of the South” column. Ecstatic, I could tell from the photo that THIS was the Holy Grail I had long sought.  And I loved that their test kitchen experimentation had rendered the old, time-consuming method of creaming butter and sugar until fluffy, adding eggs one a time until incorporated, and adding the milk and flour in alternating increments obsolete.

They advocated placing all room temperature ingredients in the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer and beating for 3 minutes.  And they could not have been more right.  The only change I made to substitute buttermilk for whole milk.

Eight years later, I became a vegan. Determined to veganize my go-to poundcake, I failed utterly.  The 3/4 cup of buttermilk was no problem thanks to unsweetened soymilk and vinegar.  It was those six eggs.  No egg replacer did the trick.  Eventually, I found a recipe online that I tweaked and published here, one that is hugely popular with readers.  But it is made in a loaf pan, calls for tofu, and is very close to, but not quite, the chosen one.

This past weekend, going to couple friends’ home for a Cuban feast on Sunday evening, I wanted to take them a gift to thank the woman, Barbara, for remaking a quilt of Bob’s that had come unstitched.  I knew she wouldn’t take money and, for some reason, I wanted to make a big beautiful poundcake.  I think the most recent issue of Southern Living–to which I mostly subscribe for Rick Bragg’s “Southern Journal” column–had planted the seed because they featured yet another “best” poundcake, this one a cream cheese variety.

Feeling confident, something told me that a commercial product fairly recently available in our area might be the missing link: Veganegg.  I could not have been more right.  I made the recipe with just the slightest tweaks and this cake baked up perfectly, rising and not falling; turned out of the pan without so much as a stutter; and cooled into a dome of perfect.

Something told me it was going to look perfect on the inside and taste even better so, though I insisted the cake was a gift and that Barbara should not serve it, she insisted that she wanted to try it, and I was secretly glad–and a little relieved–that it looked as beautiful inside as out and it’s texture and flavor were exactly right.  It was utterly addicting and comforting in that sitting-under-a-cotton-towel-on-grandmother’s-kitchen-table-with-the-back-door-open-on-a-summer-day kind of way.

To make Veganegg, you simply whisk together 2 tablespoons of the powder with 1/4 cup ice water.  For six eggs, I used 3/4 cup powdered Vegan Egg and 1 1/2 cups ice water.  However, I reduced the buttermilk in my recipe from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup because, while eggs are almost 1/4 cup of liquid, they aren’t quite, so the Veganegg yields a bit more egg mixture than if I had used eggs.

Also, because Veganegg is colored with turmeric and flavored with black salt for that sulphery, eggy flavor that is just right in savory dishes, it is a little strong in sweet ones.  So, I added an additional teaspoon of vanilla and a half teaspoon of almond extract to neutralize that flavor.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

This poundcake is beautiful unadorned, but if you want to guild the lily, as I did for Barbara’s gift, you might consider my simple approach: I purchased a white platter from the thrift store, wrapped the cake in wired ribbon that I tied in a bow, and slipped a thrift store shot glass in the center into which I placed a couple of mini-peach roses from our garden.

Pretty enough for the magazine that inspired it.

Note: due to the volume and heft of ingredients, a stand mixer with a 4 quart bowl is highly recommended for this cake.

Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Poundcake

Place ingredients in 4-quart bowl of a heavy duty electric stand mixer in order listed:

4 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat, which will lend a slightly darker color)

3 cups sugar (I use organic cane sugar, which will also lend a slightly darker color)

1 pound vegan butter, room temperature and softened (I use Earth Balance)

1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (I whisk together 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)

6 Veganeggs [3/4 cup Veganegg brand egg replacer (shake well before using) and 1 1/2 cups ice water whisked together to completely combine]

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Oil and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.  (I use Baker’s Joy with oil and flour combined in a fluted style bundt pan.) Beat ingredients at low speed for 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.  Avoid over-beating.  Transfer into prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.  When cake is mostly cool, cover with a dish cloth.  Slide onto a serving platter, decorate as desired, and serve.  Cover any leftovers tightly.

 

Vegan Buffalo Chex Mix
Perhaps the Richest Yet

I guess I need to stop calling these creations of late Chex Mix because many of them contain no Chex. Still, they are in the spirit of Chex Mix and you could certainly substitute some Chex Cereal, say the corn variety, for Bugles if the recipe calls for that childhood favorite, as this one does.

I have experimented with this recipe three times. The first time, which was delicious, I made it with a prepared dried Buffalo mix.  I had bought two packages, so I made it again because I couldn’t remember exactly the proportions I had used the first time.  That second time, I made it with slightly sweet Cheerios thinking that I could substitute those for the maple syrup. It wasn’t nearly as good, so I scratch that.

The third time, yesterday, preparing a batch for Bob’s and his business partner’s Easter baskets, I reached in the cabinet for the last package of Buffalo mix forgetting that I had purchased two and had already made the recipe twice. Not wanting to return to the grocery store after a 13 mile hike(!), I had to make up my own spice and vinegar mixture and I loved it even more. I hope you do.

For the liquid part of the mix, I used vegan butter because butter is very much a part of Buffalo sauce for wings. I also used vegan mayonnaise to create the tangy flavor of the blue cheese sauce into which many wings are dipped.

The vinegar, Liquid Aminos (Worcherstershire in typical Buffalo sauce), and hot sauce are also part of standard Buffalo wing sauce mixtures. And since the wings are often served with celery, I added some celery salt.

While it is true that most wing sauce recipes don’t call for paprika, I added some for color. And, because many wings are grilled and have a bit of a smoky flavor, I chose the smoky variety of paprika.

The maple syrup was to balance the mayonnaise and vinegar and I think it is perfect even though it is not part of a traditional Buffalo wing sauce recipe.

The same goes for all of the cereal and crunchy snacks.  They really aren’t found in wing recipes of course, but the Crispy Onions and Potato Sticks reminded me of onion rings and french fries such as you might find in a restaurant that would serve wings. The pretzels seem like bar food and, likewise, the Bugles reminded me of corn nuts which I associate with bar food.

The pecan halves are included because all snack mixes need nuts, I love them, and pecans seem particularly appropriate, even though I associate them with southern food & Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo New York.  Go figure.

The Cheerios, in my mind, just have to be part of the mix because of their neutral flavor and the way they absorb all of the other flavors, not to mention their cute little shape.

So there you have it, the rationale for this deliciousness. Enjoy.

1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Frank’s RedHot, Sriracha (my choice) or your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups Crispy Onions (sold in cartons or cans, often near the green beans because they are so often used to top green bean casserole)

3 cups Bugles

3 cups Pecan halves
3 cups Potato Sticks
3 cups Pretzel Sticks
4 cups Cheerios (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut butter into chunks, place in a large roasting pan, and place in oven to melt. Remove pan from oven and whisk in all remaining wet ingredients and spices. Then stir in the remaining ingredients one at a time in order. Place roasting pan in oven and roast for one hour, stirring well after every 15 minutes. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Betsy’s Best Vegan Blondies

Yield: 16 bars

Wanting to try a blondie or cookie recipe with the white beans in my pantry, I searched and searched online but couldn’t find a recipe that quite suited me: they had to look beautiful, contain basic wholesome ingredients, and be the ideal texture. So I decided to create my own.

These blondies are truly fabulous–everything you would want in the perfect Blondie–and get my very picky “omni” partner’s two thumbs up of approval.

I substituted 1/4 cup of mashed white beans + 1/4 cup of Bailey’s Almande liqueur, along with baking soda and baking powder, for an egg. But feel free to use another liquid, even non-dairy milk, or a different liqueur.
8 tablespoons vegan butter

1 cup demerera or lightly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup drained and mashed white beans

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup liqueur (I like Bailey’s Almande)

1 cup vegan chocolate chips (white or dark)

1 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, black walnuts, pecans, or cashews)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch metal pan or spray with nonstick sray. Line in one direction with a 4 or 5-inch strip of foil or parchment paper folded over top edges for ease of blondie removal.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until blended. Add the beans, vanilla, and almond extract, and continue to beat until  smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and liqueur, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.  Do not over beat. Add chocolate chips and nuts and blend on low speed to evenly distribute.

Spread the batter evenly in lined pan and bake 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean. Cool completely and then cut into 16 bars.

Next Level Vegan Ramen

This is not your mama’s Ramen.

And it is also not so much a recipe as an approach…

A few weeks ago shopping at a local Asian market, the checkout person generously tucked four packages of Ramen-type dry noodle soup packages into my box of purchased items. And the soup turned out to be vegan. On its own, it is flavorful, if a little salty, and a bit one-note in color and texture, not to mention of questionable nutritional value.

But, stay tuned…

Yesterday, hungry for lunch–I turned out not to need dinner–and with a fridge full of fresh ingredients left over from a dinner party, I changed all that.  The dinner party meal was Southwestern, but the raw ingredients could have just as easily been Asian.

To kick up a basic bowl of Ramen into a truly beautiful, vitamin-packed, and hydrating dish–company-worthy even–as I did, just follow or adapt my quick and easy formula:

To a basic Ramen package consisting of dry noodles and seasoning packets calling for 2 cups of water:

Double the water, add seasoning packet(s), loosely cover, bring to a simmer, add noodles, and simmer for 3 minutes. During last minute, add 2 big handfuls of greens (tender baby kale, spinach, etc.) and stir to combine.

To serve, ladle into one or two pretty bowls and top with any or all of the following:

  • Several good shakes of vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian)
  • Shredded raw purple cabbage
  • Shredded raw carrot
  • Thinly sliced raw radish

Thinly sliced rae yellow, orange, or red bell peppers

  • Raw bean sprouts
  • Sliced raw green onions
  • Lightly roasted and salted cashews or peanuts
  • Fresh cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil sprigs
  • Fresh lime wedges

Serve with chopsticks for the most satisfying quick meal ever.

 

 

Betsy’s Vegan Sea Salt and Coconut Oil Scrub

It has been a very long time since my schedule as a high school art teacher and freelance writer has allowed me to do something completely decadent for myself.

So on Saturday, with Spring Break having just commenced, I decanted oils and even mouthwash into these pretty glass bottles. Oh, and we took the Christmas Tree down–my grandmothers 1960s tinsel tree in its original box–because, yep, that is how busy we have been.  And because a two-month kitchen reno commenced right after Xmas.

While I had the food processor out to make the soup for our guests last night (the recipe for which will be on The Blooming Platter by popular demand soon), I made Bob, whose hands take a beating at his company, this amazing hand scrub.

After trying this, you will scoff at any other, often high-priced, exfoliating scrub in stores. . Bob is very discriminating about all products and we had run out of the “Seacret” salt and oil scrub my sister in law had given me. We were going to order more, but I decided to try my hand and Bob can’t say enough good things about it. That is really saying something I can assure you.

You will love my recipe’s perfect balance of exfoliating and softening power plus protection from the built-in emollient.  It is a little price brcsuse of the coconut oil, but lovely for gift giving decanted into canning jars.

1 1/2 cups coarse sea salt (I justbuy the Kroger brand, but experiment)

3/4 cup coconut oil (quite solid at room temp)

1/4 cup agave nectar

Optional: a drop or two of essential oil

Combine in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Or mash with fingers. Scoop into wide-mouthed lidded jars. Embellish jar as desired and give as a gift with a little card of instructions or hoard for yourself.

To use: scoop out about 2 teaspoons of sakt scrub and gently or vigorously rub all over dampened hands, feet, or elbows. Rinse with tepid water and gently blot dry with a soft towel.

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