Only 3 Days Left to Enter The Blooming Platter (Vegan) Cookbook Giveaway!

In honor of Vegan MoFo 2011, as many of you know, it is my pleasure to offer a giveaway of my brand new cookbook, The Blooming Platter: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  It’s simple to enter.  Just go here for all the tasty details.

And to entice you into entering and, oh, I don’t know, purchasing a few copies as Christmas gifts, following is a photo and an excerpt from one of many generous reviews on Amazon:

“I am seriously impressed with the recipes in Betsy DiJulio’s new book THE BLOOMING PLATTER COOKBOOK.

“These are some of the most elegant and impressive recipes I have ever seen collected between two covers yet each one is easy doable by any cook.”   ~Terri Merritts

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Blooming Platter Cookbook Giveaway AND Vegan Pumpkin Pie Espresso (with REAL pumpkin puree)

First, don’t miss my cookbook giveaway by going here.  Deadline is next weekend.

And, second, it is Day 3 of Vegan MoFo and, Starbucks, you know I love ‘ya, but you can’t touch this!…

In recognition of this season of vegan eating and drinking, it is my pleasure to offer you my brand new breakfast beverage that is quick enough for a hurried weekday morning.  But it’s also perfect for a weekend morning when the first nip of fall is in the air.


As a pre-vegan child, I was never much of a breakfast eater, especially on weekdays.  Getting out the door to school–which I actually loved–was enough of a challenge.  So, my nourishment of choice was Carnation Instant Breakfast.  Always Chocolate.  Remember those?  It was (and I guess still is?) a vitamin and mineral-fortified powdered mixture that is whisked into milk.

Turns out that the most important meal of the day (though there is now some debate about that) is still not my favorite on weekdays.  On the way to school, now as an art teacher, I whip into Starbucks and grab a venti Green Tea Soy Frappuccino to go–hold the classic syrup and, of course, the whip–in one of their insulated travel cups.   (An aside: my neighbor, Joe Pitt,  who “tricks out” high-end custom motorcycles is making a bracket so that he can attach a cup holder to my Vespa!)

On weekends, though, I love to make, especially, pancakes a zillion ways, but also French toast and other fruit pastry type dishes (you’ll find many on this blog and more in my cookbook.)

However, after one of my favorite SB baristas told me about an apple cider and soy concoction, I decided to try to make one at home.  It was a miserable failure.  The soymilk curdled the apple.  I’ll have to find out her secret.

In the meantime, still craving a warm and comforting beverage of some sort–and with some pumpkin puree on hand–I created Pumpkin Pie Espresso which I hope might become a staple in your home. It’s quick, delicious, nutritious, fragrant, and super-satisfying.  The real pumpkin puree lends just the right of body so that it is still very sip-able, but with a lusciousness about it.

Minnie in the Morning--when food is involved, Minnie is never very far away!

Yield: 1 1/2 cups (that’s a single serving for me!)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Sweetener of your choice: agave or maple syrup, natural sugar, Stevia, Splenda (eek!), etc.

Pumpkin pie spice, to taste (or a combination of small pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves–go lighter still on the cloves–etc.)

1 1/4 cups unsweetened, plain or vanilla soymilk

1 rounded teaspoon of instant espresso (about 1 1/8-1 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cinnamon stick

Saucer garnish: a star anise pod

Optional: Rosemary-Caramel Sauce to drizzle (I love the rosemary, but if that sounds odd to you, just follow the recipe but omit the rosemary)

In a microwave safe 2-cup measure or a 1-quart saucepan, whisk together pumpkin puree, sweetener and pumpkin pie spice to taste.  When you have it just right, whisk in the soymilk and espresso powder.  Drop in the cinnamon stick and either microwave for about 2 minutes on high–watch closely so it doesn’t spill over–or simmer for approximately the same amount of time over medium to medium-high heat.  Remove the cinnamon stick to a mug and then pour in the pumpkin-espresso mixture.  Serve with a star anise on the saucer.  [I love the way these look–so organic and autumnal, but they aren’t to be eaten, so when I’m finished, I just pop it back into the jar (with clean hands) and use it again.]

To make this beverage ultra-decadent, serve it with a caramel drizzle.  Mine isn’t formulated to float on top like Starbucks is, but mine also isn’t dairy!  And since it sinks, it adds flavor, but it’s also about the overall presentation.  A little bowl of caramel sauce and a pretty silver spoon just looks so inviting sitting on the table.


For more than 150 additional mouthwatering recipes to celebrate all year long, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.


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Blooming Platter Vegan Cookbook Giveaway AND Baked Apples Baklava with Cider Sauce

In celebration of the first day of the first full week of Vegan MoFo 2011, I wanted to offer a cookbook giveaway for all you MoFos out there.   On the block is my brand new cookbook, The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, published in May 2011 by the good folks at Vegan Heritage Press.

It’s simple to enter!  Just add a comment to this post on one of two topics: 1) either share how you “MoFo” (do you blog, subscribe to MoFo headquarters rss feed, read more blogs than usual, cook more than usual, etc.); or 2) share your favorite way to enjoy apples in the fall.

I’d also love it if you checked out the book on Amazon, read one or two of the very generous reviews and, if you like what you see, “like” the book while on the Amazon site.

A winner will be chosen at random (using–very cool site), next Sunday, October 9.  Deadline to enter is midnight (wherever you are in the world), Saturday, October 8.  Make sure your email address is accessible through your comment.  The winner will be notified privately via email to provide me with your mailing address.

A quick note: I will respond to the comments at the end of the contest because if I respond as I receive them, it will throw the numbers off for the random calculation of a winner.  So, I want you to know in advance that I appreciate you, and don’t want you to think I am being rude by not acknowledging your time and effort!

That’s all there is to it!  Please spread the word.  But first, check out this sneak preview recipe from The Blooming Platter Cookbook.  I love re-imagining one dish as another, and my Baked Apples Baklava is a perfect and perfectly tasty example of that.  And, though the presentation is elegant, the recipe is as simple as can be, provided you purchase the phyllo dough.  If you decide to be an over-achiever and make your own, that’s on you!

Baked Apples Baklava with Cider Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Baked apples are one of the wonders of autumn. In this dessert, tender stuffed apple halves are wrapped up like a beautiful package in buttery phyllo dough. They are as scrumptious for breakfast or brunch as they are for dessert.


1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon natural sugar

1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

2 teaspoons agave nectar

2 large McIntosh or other sweet-tart red apples, stemmed

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon natural sugar

16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed


Cider Sauce:

3/4 cup apple cider

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick, halved


Optional Garnish:

Cinnamon stick halves

Walnut pieces


1. Apples: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, sugar, apple pie spice, and agave nectar and set aside. Cut the apples in half lengthwise.  Using a melon baller, remove the core of the apples in two scoops to make a generous void for the filling. Rub the cut surface of the apples with lemon juice. Press one-fourth of walnut filling into each hollowed out void.

2. Combine the vegan butter and olive oil in a small bowl. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Remove one sheet of dough to a flat work surface and brush lightly with butter-oil mixture. Repeat with three more sheets, stacking them.

3. Place the apple half, filling side up, in the center of the stacked phyllo. Bring up one corner of the dough over the filling, then the opposite corner. Repeat with the remaining corners, smoothing as you go, to make a tight package.

4. Brush on a little more butter-oil mixture and place the apples, flat side down, on a baking sheet or stone. Brush the top with a little more of the butter-oil mixture, smoothing down the edges of the dough. Repeat with remaining apple halves, filling and dough. Sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Cider Sauce: In a 1 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes. Cool slightly to serve. Remove the cinnamon stick halves before serving or use them as two of the garnishes.

6. To assemble: Arrange the baked apples on dessert plates drizzled with the Cider Sauce and garnished with cinnamon sticks and walnuts, if using.

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Vegan Southwestern Zucchini and Beans with Smoked Paprika-Lime Cashew Cream

I’m a MoFo Virgin.  Hold on…get your mind out of the butter, I mean gutter.  Well, same thing.  Anyway, it’s just that today is the first day of “Vegan MoFo 2011,” that’s “Vegan Month of Food” for any neophytes out there, and it is my very first time to participate.

Click the link to visit the official Vegan MoFo Headquarters where you can learn more and subscribe to the feed…and we do mean feed!

Simply put, Vegan MoFo is a month-long celebration of vegan cooking and eating.  Around the globe, vegan bloggers will be posting as much and as often as they can about vegan food.  And you can be privy to it all by subscribing.  You can also search Vegan MoFo online, as many bloggers, like me, use that category or tag.

Many thanks to vegan guru and cookbook author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and her Post Punk Kitchen for launching and maintaining Vegan MoFo.   Isa and her team make it so easy to participate, even providing the cool banner (above) at no charge  and with just a click to download–no copying of code into the bowels of one’s blog program–whew!

And now let the feast begin, quickly before the last of summer’s zucchini had withered up…

Yield: 4 servings (you will have leftover beans and cashew cream, but you won’t mind a bit!)

Plan to start making the Cashew Cream the day before you want to use it, as the cashews need to soak overnight.

Paprika-Lime Cashew Cream

3 cups raw cashews, divided in half  (I buy Trader Joe’s reasonably affordable organic cashews)

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch of garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Pinch of white pepper (black is fine; it just shows up more)

Zest of 1 small lime + juice of half of the lime

First make basic cashew cream:  Place 1 1/2 cups of cashews covered with water in an airtight container and let soak, refrigerated, overnight.  The next day, rinse and drain the cashews in a colander, and place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.   Add remaining cashews and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  The processing will take several minutes.  Remove a generous cup of the cream to a small bowl.  Transfer the remaining cream into an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for another use.  (Adding a little sugar, vanilla and lime zest makes a lovely cream topping for sweet dishes.)  To the cup of cream in the bowl, whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Begin making beans early in the day, as they will need to soak;

1 pound bag of Anasazi beans (pinto beans or something similar would also work great)

10 cups of water, divided into 6 and 4

1 tablespoon of salt + more to taste

2 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup vegan beer or nonalcoholic beer (not all brands are vegan)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (you can use any chili powder you like, but I am especially fond of the characteristics of chipotle powder)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 of a medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 zucchini

Pinch of sea salt

1 medium tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 cup of Smoked Paprika-Lime Cashew Cream (recipe above)

Optional garnish: vegan sour cream, cilantro sprigs or chopped cilantro, and/or roasted pumpkin seeds

Bring beans and 6 cups of water to boil over medium-high heat in a covered 4-quart saucepan.  Reduce heat and gently boil for 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and let beans sit for about 6 hours.  Add remaining 4 cups of water, tablespoon of salt, bay leaves, and garlic, and gently boil uncovered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until most of the water is evaporated.  During the last half hour, add the beer, the 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, and the cumin, oregano, and chipotle chili powder.  Adjust heat as necessary.  The bean mixture should be quite soft and creamy, but the beans should still hold their shape. Check for seasoning and adjust to suit your taste.

Meanwhile, heat the tablespoon of olive oil to shimmering in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, zucchini, and salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to develop some color.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the bean mixture plus the diced fresh tomato.  Cover and refrigerate remaining bean mixture for another use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil 4 gratin dishes and divide bean mixture evenly among them.  Drizzle-dollop one-quarter of the Smoked Paprika-Lime Cashew Cream over each serving.  Place the dishes on a baking sheet for easy transport, slide the sheet into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve hot dolloped with vegan sour cream and sprinkled with cilantro and or roasted pumpkin seeds if desired.


For more than 150 additional mouthwatering recipes to celebrate all year long, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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