The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Recipes for 'Vegan Fruit'

Peeps in Nest with Wooden EggsI don’t often do “cute,” but these vegan “peeps,” first created and published On April 22, 2014, are too cute and delicious not to share again.

~Happy Rebirth/Reawakening!

 

Yield: 8 Peeps

These “Peeps” that I created–which I think look more like Toucans!–were inspired by “Ugly Ducklings” sold at a local Mediterranean restaurant called Azar’s.

I wanted to take the store-bought ones to an Easter dinner on Sunday, but the restaurant was closed and I could find no recipe, so I decided to “wing it,” so to speak.  Fortunately, the ingredients are few.

I’m so glad I did, as they are super simple and so unique!  I apologize for not having them ready to share with you in advance of Easter, but they are nice for spring in general, and certainly next year!

Resting in decorative cupcake liners and tucked, along with softly colored wooden eggs,  into their straw nest, they looked peepin’ adorable and were also a rave in the taste department!

They seem especially appropriate for spring, but the ingredients are pretty season-less, so enjoy all year when a festive presentation and a little decadent bite is in order.

 

Approximately 1/2 cup (or slightly less) almond paste (I purchase it in a can on the baking aisle of the grocery store)

16 pitted dates, opened out (be sure to use fairly moist ones)

1-9 or 10 ounce package vegan chocolate chips

8 whole roasted and lightly salted cashews

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  Using your fingers, mold a scant tablespoon of almond paste into an egg shape.  Moisten your fingers if your paste seems dry.  Then press into one of the dates, pressing another date over the top to encase the almond paste inside, forming an egg or bird body shape.  Continue with all remaining dates and almond paste.  Cover and refrigerate them for about a half hour.  Melt chocolate in microwave in a narrow deep bowl for ease of dipping.  (For 9 to 10 ounces, I have found that 1 minute on full power, a slight stir, and then 20 to 30 seconds at full power, followed by a good whisking works in my microwave.)  Pierce each date-almond paste ball with a toothpick.  One at a time, dip them into the chocolate, covering completely, and place on prepared baking sheet.  Remove toothpicks and “patch” hole with a dab of melted chocolate if need be.  Then, one at a time, dip half of each cashew into the chocolate and attach it to the top of each “body,” slightly toward one end, with the cashew “beak” curving into the body and touching at each tip–chocolate toward the center–so that it is secure.  Refrigerate for a half hour or until chocolate is hardened.  Arrange as desired and serve.

Note: you will have some chocolate left over, but when it gets low, it is difficult to coat the date-almond paste balls.

 

Close-Up

 

Just-Dipped Peeps

Just-Dipped Peeps

 

Nest Ready for Peeps

Nest Ready for Peeps

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Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Sandwiches

(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

[Betsy’s Note: the “F” on Kim’s photo is the grade she gave herself for her adlibbed cheese layer of the sandwiches, NOT for the recipe.]

Today I was super ambitious and decided to take on two recipes.

The first one, Curried Couscous, was the easiest one I have made to date. My biggest challenge was the fact that I had no idea what couscous was. My family has never eaten it. So of course I’m standing in the rice aisle at the grocery store searching up and down. I suppose I looked lost because two of the store managers who were in a deep discussion behind me stopped and walked over to see if I needed help. I said I was looking for couscous explaining that I had never used it before and one pointed it out to me and then proceeded to show me all the different kinds. The other manager told him to stop confusing me and just handed me a box of the plain. They were both so kind that I took two and was on my way.

Putting this recipe together was totally uneventful, thus a real confidence builder for me. I’m totally getting the hang of this vegan cooking… until I took on the Pear Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches.

Ok I had already decided that my “blue cheese” wasn’t going to have quotation marks around it. I was buzzing on a total confidence high from the couscous. Pears, bread, mustard, and brown sugar? I got this! The assortment of flavors sounded a little strange, but one thing I have learned from cooking The Blooming Platter is to just go with it and it all comes together in the end.

So I now have the sandwiches under the broiler and go to the fridge for my cheater blue cheese dressing and once again…I can’t find any. It’s gone. So now what? The sandwiches are now out of the oven and sitting on top of the stove not looking so appetizing to me (I was really looking forward to the blue cheese). I searched the fridge again hoping it would magically appear. It did not. So I started reading the recipe for the “blue cheese” and I have none of those ingredients. Time to get creative I guess.

I chose pepper jack cheese and cream cheese – I know, don’t judge me – and I layered it on the sandwiches and put them back under the broiler. Then I remembered I forgot to put the walnuts on it so I quickly took it back out and buried them under the cheese. It came out a little burnt around the edges so I cut the crust off and I honestly did eat it for lunch. I have to say it wasn’t bad!

I did not make this for my family because they really don’t like pears for one, and two, they would definitely object to using fruits with mustard and cheese; and my husband hates walnuts as well. I can definitely say I will be making both of these again. The couscous tasted really good! We served it right out of the pot so fast that I did not get a photo of it but it was beautiful. However I regret to say that I did get a photo of the “sandwich” even though I am sure it looks nothing like a pear, walnut and blue cheese sandwich. I promise to do it by the (cook)book next time!

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Pear Salad(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

 

If I were to channel a Southern Living or Martha Stewart magazine article, I would say today’s recipe, Spicy Grilled Pear and Spinach Salad, is a delight to the senses. The preparation is effortless and the presentation would make a beautiful addition to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

But seriously, here’s how it really went down. It is a well known fact that my family hates fruit anywhere near their salads. I would have to blindfold them to get them to try this recipe. I, on the other hand, love salads with fruits. So I prepared this just for me as my lunch.

First I prepare the vinaigrette but my whisk is in the dishwasher so I simply shake it up in a covered bowl. Done! Next I core and cut the pear. Unbelievably, I have a corer so I tried it out, but it left the core in the pear so I just popped the core out of each slice. Perfect! I prepared the marinade in a small bowl as directed but no way could I get the pears coated in there so I scraped the marinade out with my finger (spatula also in dishwasher) and straight into a ziploc bag and threw in the pears. That works.

Kim Cooking PearsOk wait. I don’t own a grill pan so how will I get the desired grill marks?? You got it – 14 degrees outside and I’m wiping snow off the grill and firing it up. I will have grill marks! I lay the pears all out and wait two minutes as directed. No grill marks. Ok fine. Two more minutes. No grill marks. This went on for 14 minutes. Once I saw a faint grill mark appear I placed them on a plate and went inside. Looking at the photo now, I may have been imagining the grill mark but I was freezing!

Finally I got to arrange it all on the plate and decided the photo should be taken in the snow. Once I brought the plate back inside, there was snow all over the bottom, so I tried to wipe it off and almost dropped the whole beautiful plate right in the sink. Story of my life! Almost!

I have to admit that, while crunching on the smaller pears as I waited at the grill, I wasn’t sure about this recipe – that is until I tasted all the flavors together, including the toasted almonds. Incredible! Seriously incredible! So far I have really liked every recipe. But then again I have not chosen one with tofu yet. Stay tuned!

~Kim Howard Hastings

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Wine Poached Pears with Coconut Cream SauceSince my husband passed away on July 30, I don’t eat or cook as much as I once did.  But when I do, I try to make it extra-special as with this beautifully festive, deeply flavorful, but not-too-sweet dessert.

It is liable to be the prettiest guest with the best taste at your holiday table.

Wine Poached Pears

1 bottle (750 ml) vegan shiraz or other red wine (check out Barnivore for a nice list)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 medium orange, cut into 6 slices

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup sugar (I use demerera)

4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided

4 ripe pears, preferably with stems on for best eye-appeal

Coconut Cream (recipe follows)

Pomegranate seeds (life is too short–and, trust me, I know, to seed a pomegranate, so I buy the seeds in a carton; but here are simple directions for seeding your own)

Optional garnish: 4 star anise pods

Place all ingredients, except 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, in a large (4 quart) pot, partially covered, and bring to a simmer over medium-high.  Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that it will sit upright.  Using a mellon baller, core from the bottom to remove seeds and any membrane.  Then carefully place each pear, on its side, into the simmering wine and simmer about 25 minutes, turning after 10 to 15 minutes, or until very tender but not breaking down. Adjust heat, if necessary, to maintain a perky simmer.  Remove pears to a container or serving platter.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup to poaching liquid, orange slices and cinnamon stick and boil, uncovered, until reduced by about half.  Liquid should be syrupy but pourable and will thicken as it cools.

For each serving, place an orange slice on each dessert plate, top with a pear, and spoon some of the red wine reduction over the top and around the base.  Follow with the Cococnut Cream.  Garnish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and, if desired, a star anise pod.

 

Coconut Cream:

1 cup coconut cream (1/2 of 15.5 ounce can; note: if cream and liquid are separated, remove both, whisk or process together, and measure out 1 cup, refrigerating remainder for another use)

1 tablespoon sugar (I use demerera)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Place all ingredients, except lemon zest, in small microwave safe bowl, whisk together, and heat for 2 to 3 minutes in 1-minute increments, whisking after each, until thickened to a sauce consistency.  Whisk in lemon zest.

 

 

 

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Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Pumpkin-Apple Spice Muffins

My apologies for yet another hiatus…this one precipitated by the death of my adored mother, Sallie Gough–who inspired my love of cooking, art, and much more–on October 2.  But I’m back and, hopefully, facing at least a year of no major losses. Yet and still, I live in a perpetual state of grace and gratefulness for the last two months of so many gestures of love and compassion that I couldn’t pay them back in two lifetimes.

In fact, I created these muffins for my nextdoor neighbor, Sonny–who has been helping me out, especially with the new dogs, since Joe passed away–and his darling daughter the young soccer star.  He came over this morning with his coffee and visited with me while I sipped tea and unloaded the dish washer, leaving with the muffins to waft under the nose of his adolescent daughter who loves to sleep in, especially on chilly fall mornings.  They were a hit.

The love child of my vegan  Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Butter Muffins and my Peanut Butter and Apple Muffins, this recipe makes the most of two of my favorite autumnal ingredients that I happened to have on hand: pumpkin puree and fresh local apples.  Enjoy with a cup of hot tea or glass of cold soymilk.

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (you can use plain, but you might want to slightly decrease the sugar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup demeraral sugar

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch ground allspice

Pinch ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

2 medium apples, skin on, finely grated finely grated or chopped (fine like food processor-fine)

Line muffin cups with papers or oil well with nonstick spray.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin , canola oil, soy milk and vanilla until well combined.  Whisk in sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt just until a smooth, thick batter forms.  Then stir in grated apples only until incorporated.  The moisture from the apples will loosen the batter a bit.  Divide evenly among prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 to 23 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to cool completely or to enjoy while warm.

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Figgy Pudding SmoothieYield: 1 smoothie

As you have probably guessed by now, I am mad about figs. And so many generous friends and neighbors have brought me baskets and jars of them following Joe’s passing.

Tonight is our 7th annual Julia Child Birthday Bash–stay tuned for fabulous recipes and photos in the next few posts!–and I am making my Five-Minute Curried Figs Brulee, but I still have more than we will be able to enjoy this evening.

So, I made a fig smoothie today to drink on the way to yoga. Perfection!

Here’s the simple recipe:

1 cup ice

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (or your favorite plain or unsweetened non-dairy milk)

12 small fresh figs, stemmed

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (organic preferred)

Optional: sweetener of your choice to taste (I think it is sweet enough without adding additional sweetener)

Place all ingredients in a blender or, my preference, Nutri Bullet, and blend until very smooth.  Serve immediately.

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Curried Figs Brulee with PestoYield: 8 bruleed fig halves

As everyone probably knows now, when the rhythm of my life changed on July 30, so did my approach to cooking and eating.

For a week after my husband passsed away, I ate almost nothing.  But I have now segued to slightly more than nothing or what I call mini-meals.  They are gorgeous and nutritious, but they are tiny and, for folks eating normally, are perfect sides.  (These figs were today’s lunch with a peanut butter rice cake.)

Whereas, in days of old, communities rallied round those who had lost loved ones with heavy comfort foods.  In contrast, my tribe surrounded me, as I may have mentioned, with a bounty of fruits–figs and more figs–vegetables, salads, prepared vegan dishes, and vegan bakery treats that went into goodie bags for out-of-towners booked at the Westin for Joe’s (amazing) Celebration of Life.

My artist friend, Sheila Gioliti brought the biggest and the firmest figs which inspired this glorius oh-so-simple recipe.

4 large slightly firm fresh figs, stemmed and halved

2 teaspoons granualted or brown sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon curry powder (mild or “warm”)

1/8th teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vegan pesto or chimichurri (or more to suit your taste)

Garnish: fresh basil or cilantro and pine nuts, roasted or not

Prheat broiler.  Arrange figs, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  In a small cup, whisk together sugar, salt, and curry powder.  Sprinkle on figs, dividing evenly among them.  Broil for 3 minutes or until surface of figs is slightly caramelized, but figs still hold their shape.  Top, if desired, with pesto or chimichurri and serve with fresh sprigs of basil or cilantro, and pine nuts.

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White Bean-Fig GazpatchoYield: 2 servings

I deeply regret my 2 1/2 week hiatus from The Blooming Platter, and hope this is the beginning of the end of it.  As many of you know, my love, my husband of 25 years passed away from an acute coronoary on July 30 and life took on a new rhythm.

But, this past weekend, I already had a trip planned to meet my best friend from graduate school–we were both art history majors at Vanderbilt University–in Philadelphia for an “art tour.”  Joe was from Philly, so we had also planned a dinner at *Vedge (oh, wow–cannot recommend highly enough!) with his two sisters and our niece on Saturday night.  Knowing the trip would be “good medicine,” I didn’t change my plans, and I am thankful that I didn’t.

When I returned home, a friend picked me up at the airport and I invited another to stop by for dinner of chilled gazpatcho on her way home from the hospital where she had been with her mother.  Gifts of food are as much a part of death as flowers, and our friends had filled my refrigerator and freezer with a bounty of beautiful  fruit, vegetables, prepared vegan dishes and, okay, vegan cupcakes from My Vegan Sweet Tooth, a new vegan storefront bakery in town.

So, I swirled together cantaloupe, watermelon, fresh figs, an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a half-pint of heirloom tomatoes, and some basil from my garden with cumin and smoked paprika to make the most beautiful of soups.  Then, as if to prove correct the “grieving” books and their gentle warnings of forgetfulness as part of the process, I left it on the counter in a sparkling crystal bowl in full reach of Minnie.  It got very quiet downstairs and then she came up with gazpatcho breath detectable from a foot away!

Not angry, just fearful, I first called our vet’s wife–on a Sunday–to make sure she’d survive.  And after learning that she would, I went looking for something else with which to make a cold soup.  And, though this combination of ingredients may sound a bit odd, my guest and I both thought the following combination of ingredients was delectable and I will be making it again and again.  Minne can’t say, as she didn’t get to taste this batch.

*V-Street, Vedge’s sister street food bar, specializing in flavor- and texture-forward small plates, is not to be missed either.  We ate three of our five meals at there, each one as delightful as the previous.

White Bean and Fresh Fig Gazpatcho

1 can white beans with juice

1 large tomato, cored and quartered

approximatley 8 to 10 fresh figs

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnishes: vegan sour cream, a few marinated veggies (onion, tomato and cucumber in a light vinaigrette), green or purple basil, and spiced pecans (I used rosemary-lime)

Place all ingredients except garnishes in food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached.  Serve chilled, garnished as desired.

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Banana Mocha-Cherry SipperYield: 4 snack size servings

When the temperatures rise, cool off with these sweet and refreshing shots of some of my favorite tropical flavors: banana, chococlate, coffee, and cherry.  And for adults only: a hint of Creme de Cacao.

This is my sixth and final entry in the fun “Savory, Sweet, Sippable”  Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free  Snackable Recipe Contest to celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook.  Each contestant was allowed to enter two recipes in each category, so I had fun working my way through from Savory to Sippable over the last few days.

My repertoire is a little light on beverages, so this was a fun excuse to “beef”–not!–it up.  Plus, it made for a nice little afternoon pick-me-up!

These Spiked Banana Mocha-Cherry Sippers would taste delicious drunk from a boot (!), but I love them served in little *jars (or shot glasses) on a long rectangular white ceramic plate with a summery napkin and cute paper straws (find these in the “$1” bin section of Target).

Cheers!

Vegan Spiked Banana Mocha-Cherry Sippers

1 small banana, peeled, quartered and frozen

8 ice cubes

12 maraschino cherries

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or decaffeinated coffee

2/3 cup So Delicious Chcocolate Coconut Milk

1 tablesoon Creme de Cacao (optional but delicious)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender container (I use the Nutri-Bullet) and blend until smooth.  Divide among 4 small glasses or* jars and serve with cute paper straws.  (*Note: many decorative glass jars like the ones pictured are NOT safe for food consumption, so read labels carefully.)

 

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Basil-Mint Peach Sipper with NapkinYield: 4 snack size servings

I confess to not eating a lot of fruit, but I do like to drink it daily in the form of juices, smoothies, and, on occasion, sangria.

The perfect opportunity to add a little somethin’-somethin’ to my repertoire of fruit-forward beverages was provided by the announcement of the  Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free  Snackable Recipe Contest to celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook.

Though this refeshing sippable snack very definitely tastes of fresh summer peaches, it is more green in color thanks to the addition of fresh basil and mint which also enhance its distincitve summery flavor profile.

Enjoy this trio of some of summer’s freshest flavors in my simple frozen snack you can slurp, er, I a mean sip through a straw!

1 large peach, cut into 8 wedges and frozen

2/3 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk

2/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (or substitute more So Delicious Coconut Milk)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Stevia or other natural sweetener to taste

12 fresh basil leaves + additional for garnish

12 fresh mint leaves + additional for garnish

Place all ingredients except garnishes in a blender container (I use the Nutri-Bullet) and blend until smooth.  Divide among 4 small glasses or* jars, garnish as desired, and serve with cute paper straws.  (*Note: many decorative glass jars like the ones pictured are NOT safe for food consumption, so read labels carefully.)

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