The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Greens, Mushrooms and Water ChestuntsYield: approximately 6 cups

Baby, it’s cold outside!  At least it is here in Eastern VA where we are expected to experience the southern edge of the winter storm headed for New England.  A warning is scheduled from 7 p.m. this evening until 4 p.m. tomorrow.  Yippee….Snow Day!

When snow is on it’s way, there is only one thing to do: make sure there is delcious, nutritious, body-and-soul warming food ind the house.  And this dip (which is darn tasty in a baked potato) fits that bill.

Inspired by the Super Bowl–you have to have dip during that game of games, no?–and by a bountiful box of GO Veggie! vegan cheeses kindly sent to me to test, I incorporated three kinds of cheesiness to achieve the flavor and texture I was after.

I am a new fan of GO Veggie! cheeses, having only discovered that the company makes vegan products (look for the purple label) when they contacted me recently, as the Kroger where I shop only stocks the vegetarian varieties.  With nice mild flavor, texture, and meltability, all they lack is “stretch,” and I can live with that.  Find a store near you.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced (or 1/2 medium onion)

Sea salt

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-8 ounce carton GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Chive and Garlic  Cream Cheese

1/2  to 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano)

2-14 ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained well, and chopped

3 cups coarsely chopped and lightly packed fresh mustard greens (feel free to use the greens of your choice, e.g. kale, spinach, Swiss Chard, etc.)

1-7 to 8 ounce cansliced  mushrooms, drained (I almost always use fresh everything, but canned are perfect for this)

1-8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained

1-8 ounce package GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Mozzarella Shreds

1/2 cup GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Parmesan Grated Topping, divided

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Garnish: smoked or plain paprika

Accompaniments: chips  or crackers of your choice (I bought the beet tortilla chips in the photograph in T. J. Maxx–tasty and such a pretty contrast with the green dip!)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add, garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add the cream cheese and Italian seasoning and stir until melted,lowering heat at any point if necessary.  Stir in artichoke hearts followed by greens, one cup at a time, allowing each cup to wilt before adding next cup.  Then stir in mushrooms, water chustnuts, mozzarella shreds, and 1/4 cup parmesan topping, stirring until mozzarella is completely melted.  Season to taste with additional sea salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper.  At this point, you may transfer into a greased casserole dish if you like, but I baked it right in the skillet.  Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan and sliced almonds.   Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with smoked or plan paprika and serve hot with chips or crackers.

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Hot Chai Cocoa--Navitas Naturals

Though my Countdown ended yesterday, I promised a “Beverage Bonus” recipe today.  Enjoy it while you are preparinig your Valentine my Red Velvet Pancakes, or anytime tyou need to warm body and soul.

When Navitas Naturals kindly sent me their Cacao Powder to test, I thought to myself, “Really?  How much difference can there be between their product and my grocery store variety?”  The answer is “Considerable.”

My hunch is that when cocoa powder is one of a number of ingredients in a recipe, the difference is less pronounced.  So, I decided to conduct a side-by-side informal taste test of the pure powder.

I moistened my finger, dipped it into my Kroger brand cocoa powder and put it straight in my mouth, closing my eyes and trying to really analyze its flavor.  Then I drank a little water and repeated my test with Navitast Naturals Cacao Powder.  There was a notable difference.  My go-to cocoa powder was extremely mild in terms of chocolate flavor, a bit chalky, and pretty one dimensional in terms of flavor.  The Cacao Powder, on the other hand, had a more intense chocolate flavor of greater complexity and depth without the same chalkiness, not to mention more nutrition and a darker color.

So, Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder?  I’ll drink to that.

And here’s how I drink it:

Hot Chai Cocoa

1-1 1/2 cup serving (easily multiplies)

Note: I have also made this hot cocoa with other tea, like a Chocolate Hazelnut variety that I like, and it was delicious, with the tea imparting a subtle earthiness.  Use any tea that seems compatible with chocolate: mint, orange, raspberry, etc.

1/2 cup water

1 Chai tea bag (or any flavor you wish)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

2 1/2 tablespoons Navitas Natural Cacao Powder (or, okay, your favorite brand of cocoa powder)

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk (or your favorite non-dairy milk; I prefer soy for its protein content)

Place water and tea bag in a large mug and heat on hi in microwave for 30 seconds.  Lift out tea bag, add remaining ingredients, whisking after each, replace tea bag, and microwave for an additional 1 1/2 minutes.  Squeeze tea bag over cocoa mixture, discard bag, whisk mixture again, and enjoy.

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I thought that breakfast for your Valentine would be the perfect note on which to wrap up my Countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015.

And for that, nothing beats my Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes for real Red Velvet Cake flavor–not just color!–texture, and spectacular presentation.

If you would like a little savory side for your plate ‘o cakes, you will love my vegan sausage “Heart Tarts”: simply beautiful heart-shaped puff pastry tarts with a vegan “sausage”  and bell pepper filling.

Stay tuned, for tomorrow I offer a breakfast bonus…just have some flavored tea bags, cocoa powder and soymilk on hand…

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Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Layer 2My Vegan Red Velvet Brownies recipe garnered over 1,000 “likes” last year on One Green Planet!

As you’ll read in the back story, my online research produced nothing that was quite what I wanted, so I set about making my own 3-layer confection with a cream cheese-like swirl.  There were quite a few trials and errors—lots of errors (probably about 1,000 “licks”-ha!)–to arrive at just what I wanted.  But I hope you’ll agree that I finally got it.

When you click on the link above to visit the OGP site, you’ll also notice that there was a bit of controversy from folks who didn’t read the fine print about NATURAL red food color.  But, eventually, they were able to calm down and brownie on. :)

Red Velvet Brownies

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Red SaladYield 2 servings

Since I chose to make decadent (vegan) posts all week as my “Countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015,” when I received this delicious-sounding and -looking, heart-healthy recipe with an invitation to publish from Paulding & Company, I thought I’d share the love.

Paulding & Co. is a full catering kitchen, based in San Francisco, boasting vast opportunities for bonding and excitement founded by mother-daughter duo Tracy and Terry Paulding. The company is going RED for the month of February to support Women’s Cardiovascular Health Awareness and, of course, Valentine’s Day.

Their Valentine’s Day Red Salad is a tasty treat packed with tons of flavor so we can all eat healthier with our sweethearts in 2015.

With “heart-felt” thanks to  Paulding & Co., here is their recipe:

Valentine’s Day Red Salad

1 small red beet

1 small “cocktail size” grapefruit

1 small blood orange

1small head Treviso (red chicory)

½ cup finely shaved fresh fennel

Dressing

grated zest from the orange

1 tsp. finely minced shallot

1/8 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsp. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/8 tsp. salt, or more to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

 

Steam the beet until tender, ½ hour for medium sized. When the beet is tender, cool, peel and cut julienne (if you slice it on a mandoline and then sliver the slices, you’ll get even size pieces). Place in a bowl large enough for all the salad ingredients.

Zest the orange and set aside in a bowl. Completely peel the grapefruit and orange: first slice off the top and bottom, then stand the fruit on the cutting board and pare away the skin and pith in broad swaths. Slice or segment the orange, and segment the grapefruit (do this over a bowl, to catch the juice for the dressing).  Place the segments in the bowl with the beets.

Carefully wash and dry the treviso leaves, then slice cross-wise into slivers. Place in the bowl with the beets and citrus.

Wash the fennel, trim off any brown spots and surfaces. Using the stalks as a handle, thinly shave the fennel bulbs on a mandoline, being very careful of your fingers; if you don’t have a mandoline, simply slice as thinly as possible with a sharp knife. Add the fennel to the chicories.

Make the dressing: combine the zest, minced shallot, mustard, vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper in the bowl with your captured grapefruit and orange juice. Whisk in the oil. Taste the dressing, adjust balance as needed with more vinegar, salt, etc.  Since the beets and fruit are sweet, you want the dressing a little more tart than a regular salad dressing.

Just before serving, toss the salad with some of the dressing, to taste. Finish with a light grinding of black pepper from the mill.

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Vegan Mini-Heart Cake 2

Yield: a Baker’s Half Dozen (7) Mini-Heart Cakes

I’m not sure how or why I dreamed up these particular concoctions of rich chocolate, espresso, hazelnuts and dried apricots, but I’m so glad I did!  I went through a number of iterations in my mind, but these are what emerged.  As delicious as they are exquisite, they are also stupid-easy.  They just looks ultra-special.

As a dress rehearsal for Valentine’s Day, I created the recipe and whipped up a trial batch for Principals’ Appreciation Week a couple of weeks ago, giving the 7th one to my Pilates/Barre instructor.  An A+!

Though these mini-cakes would be beautiful for a dinner party (and certainly don’t have to be heart-shaped), for my presentation needs, I simply packaged them in patterned cardboard boxes with clear peek-a-boo lids from the craft store, placing each one on an opened-out cupcake liner before carefully setting it inside the box.  To transport them, I just lined up the boxes on a jelly roll pan.  The generous size and low sides of the pan were perfect for moving them from home to school.

Wherever you serve yours, they are sure to be loved!

Chocolate Heart Cakes

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

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegan butter

1 1/2 cups demerara sugar (or any granulated sugar)

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat for virtually everything)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 10 x 15″ sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper, pressing into corners and edges, and spray again.  In a small bowl, whisk vinegar into soymilk and set aside to curdle, whisking again before using.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter.  Add sugar and continue creaming for about 3 minutes.  (When using a natural sugar like demerara, it will not fully dissolve, so expect some pleasant grittiness, but will melt during cooking.)  Beat in cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Then, with mixer on low, beat in flour in three batches, alternating with soymilk mixture.  Beat only enough to combine ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Transfer batter into prepared pan, distributing batter into corners and gently smoothing the top.  Bake for 18-20 minute or until top of cake springs back when lightly pressed and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a metal rack.  Then cut out 14 heart shapes using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter.  Mash cake scraps together to make cake balls (dip in chocolate and serve with vegan ice cream) or reserve them in a zip-lock bag or other airtight container in freezer to make crumbs for another use.

 

Hazelnut-Dried Apricot Ganache Filling

1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I like a darker chocolate, but use your preference)

1 tablespoon vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

7 dried apricots, finely chopped (be sure they are moist and plump)

3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (I toast them over medium-high in a dry skillet for about 4 minutes, until fragrant; watch closely as they will burn quickly)

Melt chocolate, dip apricots for garnish (see below), and then whisk in sour cream, dried finely chopped apricots, and toasted hazelnuts.

 

Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon espresso powder (or instant coffee, ground to a powder in a spice grinder)

3 1/2-3 3/4 cups powdered sugar (adjust to create desired consistency)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in extracts and espresso powder, followed by powdered sugar in half-cup increments.  Be sure to start the mixer on low and gradually increase it so that you aren’t dusted with powdered sugar!

 

Chocolate Dipped Apricots with Sea Salt

7 dried apricots (moist and plump ones, but not too large)

Melted vegan chocolate (from filling recipe)

Maldon or other large flaky sea salt

Before adding sour cream to melted chocolate, dip each apricot, halfway up and set on a plate covered with parchment or waxed paper to dry.  After chocolate is cool, but not completely set, sprinkle liberally with Maldon sea salt.  Refrigerate until needed.

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Each day this week, I am featuring 4 of my favorite Blooming Platter Valentine’s treats from the past and one brand new one which I’ll post about mid-week, as it may require a quick trip to the grocery store.

I am always surprised when someone says they don’t care for peppermint and chocolate together, as I think it is a divine marriage of flavors, perfect for Valentine’s Day.

If you agree, you will love my Vegan Peppermint and Chocolate Patties.  I created these easy and beautiful treats in 2011 to share with our beloved IB and fine arts assistant principal.

I apologize that my photography wasn’t better way back then, two cameras ago, but I think you can get the delectable idea.

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Valentines-Truffle-02-BD1Beginning today and for four of the next five days, I am going to link to some favorites from Valentine’s past on The Blooming Platter.

About mid-week, I will post my new 2015 creation to give you time to shop for the few ingredients you may not have on-hand like dried apricots, hazelnuts, and espresso powder.

First up are my beautiful Vegan Chocolate Truffles.

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Chickpea, Sweet Potato, and Peanut Stew

Seriously, this soup will make you ‘wanna ‘holla…for more!  This is, quite honestly, one of the best soups–flavor, texture, color, etc.–that I have ever eaten…of mine or anyone else’s.

My recipe was inspired by a couple in recent culinary magazines.  Only, one of the recipes called for a whole cup of peanut butter.  I love peanut butter as much as the next gal but, honestly, that made me feel a little queasy just thinking about so much of such a rich ingredient.

So, I use a mere 1/4 cup.  That same recipe–or was it the other?–called for a making a sweet potato broth and using that in the stew.  If I can skip a step, I do, so I just made aromatics like onion and garlic plus the sweet potaot part of the soup.

Love!

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion (half a medium onion), diced

Sea salt

1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 cups vegetable stock

1-14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomoatoes with juice

1-15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-15 ounce can coconut milk

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground black pepper

2 lightly packed cups coarsely chopped mustard greens

Juice of 1/2 medium lime

Garnish: lime zest and roasted and lightly salted peanuts

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until softened and translucent.  Add bell pepper and garlic and continue to saute and stir for about 3 more minutes.  Add sweet potato and stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add all remaining ingrdients except greens and lime juice, bring to a simmer, and stir until peanut butter is melted and soup is heated through.  Stir in greens and cook just until wilted, but still bright green.  Add lime juice and serve hot garnished with lime zest and roasted and lightly salted peanuts.

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Today seemed like the perfect day to repost  a recipe I recently developed for Tofutti even if Super Bowl Sunday finds you sitting on your sofa rather than your tailgate: Vegan Tailgate Taters–Game On!

Vegan Tailgate Taters

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