Vegan Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup

Yield: 8 pancakes (4 servings)

After a little gardening, yoga, and errands, I didn’t get around to “lunch” until about 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

I was craving one of the fresh Virginia grown apples I had just purchased at the farmer’s market with a little peanut butter.  But I was afraid I would be hungry an hour later.

So, I decided on filling–but not heavy– fall pancakes made from the same wholesome ingredients.  What a good decision!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. (Okay, and Minnie too.  I made one for our “little” Great Dane, my constant kitchen company aka chow hound.)

Just go to One Green Planet, where I am this week’s featured “Green Monster,” for the simple recipe.  Now you can enjoy everyone’s favorite after school snack for brunch!

 

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Red Wine Reduction for Grilled Peaches

Yield:  8 servings (1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce)

In August, Joe and I joined his sisters, Terri Ann and Tina, and their families for a short vacation in Ocean City, N.J.  (Our 14 year old niece, Gabriella, who is about as far removed from “Snooki” as one can get–thankfully!–does a great imitation.)  The DiJulios spent part of the summers there throughout their lives and, now that both of their parents are deceased, have vowed to keep the tradition alive.

Family dinners are part of the tradition so, late one afternoon on the way home from a bike ride, Terri Ann and I couldn’t resist the Jersey peaches at a local market.  Dinner was a grilled affair (marinated tofu for me) with my husband, Joe, in charge, so he put the peach halves on while we enjoyed dinner including Jersey corn and tomatoes plus sauteed kale from who knows where.

Before we sat down, I joined forces with Terri Ann (a good cook in her own right) and her husband’s son, Curt (a partner with Bonefish Grill who knows his way around a kitchen) and created a luscious, glistening, and not-too-sweet Cabernet sauce for the peaches.  We all gave it a can-I-please-have-some-more? enthusiastic thumb’s up!

I served it over a plain grilled peach for me, but added a little scoop of peach yogurt that was in the fridge for everyone else, omnivores all.  But, if you like, you can forget all the formalities and just eat it from a spoon!

Hopefully there are still a few summer peaches available in your neck of the woods, but if not, the sauce would be delicious over, say, grilled bananas, perhaps pears, vegan pound cake or ice cream (or both!), etc.

1 1 /2 cups Red wine (we used Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet)

2/3 cup sugar

Bring both ingredients to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer gently until reduced by about one-half to two-thirds.  You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sauce.  Remove from heat.  Reduction will thicken more as it cools.

Serve over grilled peaches with or without a dollop of vanilla or peach vegan yogurt.

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Vegan Fresh Fig (or Other Fresh Fruit) and Cashew Cream Crostada with Rosemary Caramel Sauce

Yield: 4 tarts

Until now, I’ve always used sweetened cashew cream as a topping.  But something made me wonder what would happen if I baked it as a filling in a darling little tart that I call a crostada because they seem a little Italian, especially when bathed in my glistening Rosemary Caramel Sauce, inspired by my love of my vegan cheese spreads, fresh figs, and rosemary.  So what did happen?  The emergence of one of my favorite desserts of summer!  But when figs aren’t in season, top them with any soft or lightly sauteed fruit.  And feel free to mix and match the herb you add to the sauce to best complement your choice of fruit.

1/2 cup Cashew Cream (recipe follows; must begin making the day before you plan to use, as cashews soak over night)

2 tablespoons natural sugar or confectioners’ sugar (the former will lend a hint of crunch, while the latter will yield a smoother product)

approximately 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Crostada Dough (recipe follows)

2 fresh figs (or other soft fruit, such as banana slices, lightly sauteed in vegan butter and a pinch of sugar)

Rosemary Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Cashew Cream (this recipe entitled “Chantilly Whipped Cream” is from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, page 153):

Note: this recipe will yield approximately 2 cups, more than you need for the crostada, but you’ll enjoy having it on hand.

2 cups raw, unsalted cashew pieces, divided

2 cups water, divided

6 tablespoons confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place 1 cup of the cashews in a medium bowl and cover with 1 cup of the water.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.  Drain and rinse the cashews in a colander.  Transfer the cashews to a food processor, add the remaining one cup of water and process until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.  Add the remaining cup of cashews and process another few minutes , or until thick and creamy, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  The mixture should have enough body to hold a peak.  Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and process until combined.  Taste and adjust flavoring if necessary.  Transfer the cream into an airtight container and chill for at least an hour before using.  Remove 1/2 cup of the cream to a small bowl, and return the remainder to the refrigerator.  Into the 1/2 cup of cream, stir the 2 tablespoons of natural sugar and optional lemon zest.  Set aside.

Crostada Dough (this recipe is from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, page 168):

Note: this dough is the world’s easiest and best-behaved around.  I’m just sayin’…I  thought I had added too much ice water, but I just pulsed it a couple more times, lifted out the ball, and placed it on my very lightly floured surface, turning it over once to coat both sides, and it was perfect.

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)

pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated coconut oil (semi-solid at room temperature; now considered part of a healthy diet!)

Scant 1/3 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper, or use a seasoned baking stone, and set aside.  Combine the flour, salt, and coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse a few times until the coconut oil is evenly distributed and the dough looks like coarse sand.  Begin adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times after each, just until the dough comes together.  It should be slightly moist, but not sticky, very easy to handle, and formed into somewhat of a ball.  Lift it out of the  processor, gathering up any loose bits, and divide the dough into fourths.

On a very lightly floured surface, shape each into a small disk and then roll out, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to about 5 inches in diameter.  The dough should be quite thin, but not so much so that it will tear.  Gently lift each dough circle and place on prepared baking sheet, gently reshaping if necessary.  (I like to use the tried-and-true method of rolling the circle of dough around the pin, transferring it to the baking sheet, and then unrolling in place)

Assembly:

Place  2 tablespoons of cashew cream in the center of each circle of dough, gently shaping it into a disk with a generous border of dough.  Gently fold the edges of the dough over the outer edge of the filling, pleating the dough as you go.  Be sure to leave an opening in the center in which to place the fig half.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, but check periodically to avoid over-browning.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, as soon as the crostada are easy enough to handle, use a metal spatula remove them to a wire rack.  With the back of a spoon, make a depression in the filling of each tart and nestle a fig half, cut side up, inside.  Place each tart on a serving plate and drizzle withe the Rosemary Caramel Sauce.  Serve immediately and pass extra sauce.  These crostada are best served just after baking or, stored, covered, in the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature.

While tarts bake make sauce:

Rosemary Caramel Sauce

4 tablespoons vegan butter

1 cup natural sugar

1/2 cup soy creamer

Pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Place butter, natural sugary, soy creamer and salt in a one quart saucepan over medium heat.  Cook and stir or whisk frequently for about 5 to 7 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in rosemary.  Allow to cool slightly and then taste to determine if you want to add the vanilla.  I prefer it without as it dulls the lovely flavor of the rosemary.  Use right away or pour into a bowl or jar and allow to cool.  Refrigerate any leftovers tightly covered.  Reheat to use.

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Vegan Fresh Plum Tarts or Hand Pies with Basil Caramel Sauce

Yield: 4 tarts

My annual gift of fresh plums from Mike Grover via Diane O’Neal partially inspired these new treats.  Mike’s tree is prolific and, each year, he harvests more than he knows what to do with, so he generously shares.  Last year I created a favorite Vegan Thai Rice Noodle, Plum, and Shitake Salad published in my  new cookbook (see below) and Vegan Rice Cakes with Fresh Plum and Sake Maple Syrup; Mike created a beautiful-looking plum bread.

This year, with July 4 tomorrow, I created glistening red plum tarts and hand pies.  The jewel-tooned filling is encased in scrumptious dough from The Blooming Platter Cookbook.  I prepared enough dough and filling for four, so I shaped two as tarts and two as hand pies.  Though both require equal amounts of my tasty dough, I decided that I prefer the tarts because the beautiful filling shows more.  If you really want to serve hand pies, though, you could cut sluts in the top surface to reveal some of the  colorful interior.

The filling is based on a recipe in the July 2011 issue of Bon Appetit for Cherry Hand Pies.  It was the result of combining both fresh and dried cherries.  That sounded like it would deepen the flavor, yet still taste fresh.  The best of both worlds!  So, since I happened to have both fresh and dried plums, that’s what I used.

After sampling one, it seemed to need just a little something to take it over the top.  So I did what I always do: closed my eyes while taking a bite and mentally pairing the tart with other flavors until I hit on the right combination.  In this case it was caramel sauce and basil whipped cashew cream!  However, since I didn’t have any cashews and didn’t want to purchase some and then have to wait while they soaked over night, I decided to make a quick Basil Caramel Sauce.  Yowza!  Just perfect.

The sauce only takes about 5 1/2 minutes to make, and 5 minutes of that time is simmering.  Adding the basil at the end, allows it to stay fresh and green, but opens its flavor up.  It would be good with a spoon!  Note that it thickens as it cools.

Filling:

1 cup fresh chopped pitted plums (my plums were only about the size of a walnut, so I simply pitted and halved them)

1/3 cup dried chopped plums

1/2 cup natural sugar (adjust as necessary, depending on the tartness of your plums)

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or try a liqueur like Chambord)

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

2 teaspoons cold water

In a quart saucepan, combine both kinds of plums, sugar and salt.  Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.  While mixture simmers, stir together arrowroot powder or cornstarch and water to make a slurry.  Stir vanilla into the plum mixture, followed by the slurry.  If using arrowroot powder, remove the mixture from the heat immediately after adding or it could “break.”  If using cornstarch, return the mixture to a simmer and then remove it from the heat.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  While mixture cools, make dough.

Dough (this recipe is from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, page 168):

Note: this dough is the worlds easiest and best-behaved around.  I’m just sayin’…I  thought I had added too much ice water, but I just pulsed it a couple more times, lifted out the ball, and placed it on my very lightly floured surface, turning it over once to coat both sides, and it was perfect.

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)

pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated coconut oil (semi-solid at room temperature; now considered part of a healthy diet!)

Scant 1/3 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper, or use a seasoned baking stone, and set aside.  Combine the flour, salt, and coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse a few times until the coconut oil is evenly distributed and the dough looks like coarse sand.  Begin adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times after each, just until the dough comes together.  It should be slightly moist, but not sticky, very easy to handle, and formed into somewhat of a ball.  Lift it out of the  processor, gathering up any loose bits, and divide the dough into fourths.

On a very lightly floured surface, shape each into a small disk and then roll out, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to about 5 inches in diameter.  The dough should be quite thin, but not so much so that it will tear.  Gently lift each dough circle and place on prepared baking sheet, gently reshaping if necessary.  (I like to use the tried-and-true method of rolling the circle of dough around the pin, transferring it to the baking sheet, and then unrolling in place)

Place one-fourth of the cooled filling in the center of each circle of dough.  If making tarts, fold up about an inch border of dough around the edges, gently pleating it to form a circle, but leaving a nice circle of filling showing in the center.  If making hand pies, fold one half of the dough over the filling, matching the edges of the dough circle to create a half-circle, crimping with a fork to seal.  (You may use a tiny bit of water rubbed on the edges with your finger to help seal, but I didn’t find it necessary.)  Make a couple or three slits in the top surface if desired to allow a little of the pretty filling to show through.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, but check periodically to avoid over-browning.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, as soon as the tarts/ hand pies are easy enough to handle, use a metal spatula remove them to a wire rack to cool slightly.

While they bake, make Basil Caramel Sauce.

Basil Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup natural sugar

1/4 cup cold water

2 tablespoons vegan soy creamer

1 tablespoon fresh minced basil

Garnish: for each tart/hand pie, a dab of vegan sour cream or whipped cream and a sprig of fresh basil

In a one-quart saucepan or small cast-iron skillet, combine sugar and water.  Heat over medium-high until simmering.  It will froth up liberally. Stir frequently for about 2-2 1/2 minutes.  Add creamer and continue stirring and simmering for another 2- 2 1/2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.  Cool a minute or so to thicken every-so-slightly and serve immediately over tarts/hand pies and garnish them as desired.  Store any leftover tarts/hand pies or sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Reheat before using.

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Vegan Caramel Apple Pancakes

Yield: 8 pancakes

These pancakes are like a fall festival on a plate. However their creation was no picnic. My previous two attempts were utter failures, but the third time was the charm. In one of the earlier iterations, applesauce had too weak of a flavor and, in another, grated apple made the batter way too moist to cook properly. Apple butter plus dried apple proved to be the winning combination. (Note: there is no butter in apple butter.) With a simple caramel sauce and a sprinkling of nuts, all that’s missing from these caramel apple treats is the stick!

Vegan Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup soy creamer
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Whisk together in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for two-three minutes and remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Pancakes:
2 scant tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance) or 1 tablespoon canola oil + 1 tablespoon vegan butter (the high sugar content from the apple butter can result in over-browning; a little oil reduces the chances)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon apple pie spice or 2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ginger + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup apple butter (there is no butter in apple butter!)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (plain or vanilla soy milk would be good too; vegan buttermilk is a little overpowering for the subtle pumpkin flavor)
1 cup dried apple slices, cut into small dice (they stay chewy, so they should be small, about 1/4-inch)
1 cup chopped or broken walnuts or pecans

Garnish: chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 scant tablespoon of the butter or 1/2 tablespoon butter with and 1/2 tablespoon oil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add apple butter and soy milk. Stir just until combined and few lumps remain. Gently stir in dried apple and nuts. Using a 1/4 cup measure, make three pancakes in skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on the first side, gently flip and cook another 2-3 minutes on the reverse. Add butter (or butter and oil) to keep skillet greased as needed. You may also need to lower the temperature a little closer to medium so that they cook through without becoming too brown on the exterior. (Note: Only a few bubbles will appear in this batter indicating doneness. So look for a fairly high rise and golden brown edges.) When cooked through, remove pancakes to plates or a serving platter, keep warm, and repeat with remaining scant tablespoon of butter (or butter and oil) and pancake batter. Serve with Vegan Caramel Sauce and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or pecans.

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