The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Serves: 25 or more as part of an appetizer buffetBeans and Greens Dip

Last Tuesday night was my 15th annual all-girls Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party and Swap.   This beloved fete is one of the most cherished of the holiday season.

This year, twenty-two of my nearest and dearest gathered for a tasty and festive vegan spread, including this dip, lots of conversation–and wine–and lively swapping of enticing items (home, garden, fashion, etc.) in excellent condition for ourselves and for holiday gift-giving.

If you’ve never hosted a swap, here is my easy formula:  set up a table near your entrance outfitted with clothespins, markers, and index cards.  As your guests arrive with their items, invite them to write a description on a card for each item (so that swappers will know what is yours and what is up for grabs) and place it with the item in the designated area.  In my case, that’s my living and dining rooms (I serve the food on the peninsula in the kitchen).

Then, for each item a guest brings, she receives a token in the form of a clothespin on which she writes her name with marker.  I save them in zip-lock bags, one per person, from year to year so as not to be wasteful.  When each guest finds an item she wants, she clips one of her clothespins to the card or the item.  If an item only garners one clothespin, that person gets to take it home.  If more than one, the clothespins go in a basket or bag and someone draws the winner with the other person or people allowed to continue shopping.  Anything left over at the end of the night is either donated to charity or, if someone is out of tokens and covets another item, can be purchased with the proceeds also going to charity.

Because most all of us have more than we need, it is an excellent time to shop for gifts.  Just remind guests that the party is a “swap,” not a “drop” so that no one says, “I really don’t need anything, so I’m not going to shop…”  Otherwise, the hostess ends up hauling lots of stuff to the thrift store and it’s not nearly as much fun.

 

Vegan Beans and Greens Dip

16 ounces vegan sour cream

8 ounces vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise or Just Mayo from Whole Foods)

2-16 ounce bags frozen mixed greens or spinach, thawed, and squeezed out (I purchased organic 365 brand at Whole Foods)

2-14 to 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

Approximately 2 tablespoons of your favorite spices or blends (I used a blend from Spice Ace in San Francisco, a gift from a friend, but use what you like; it’s hard to go wrong)

Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together, chill, and serve with crackers or toasts.

CCC&C--Betsy and Jonell

Hostess, Betsy DiJulio (in her hat from the swap), with Jonell Walthall, who brought a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook to be signed.

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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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Soup 2Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This rich, smoky and healthy bisque is perfect for a day like today in Eastern, Virginia: cool, rainy, and a bit dreary.  This soup will warm you from the inside out and brighten the darkest of days and nights which come so early this time of year.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

7 ounces vegan chorizo (I use a half a package of Trader Joe’s brand)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds richness and depth of flavor)

1 tablespoon adobo sauce froma can of chilies in adobo

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

12 ounces flavorful vegan beer (check out Barnivore for an A-Z list of vegan beer, wine and liquor)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, drained

3 to 4 cups fresh baby kale

2 cups vegetable stock or broth

Juice of 1/2 medium lime

Opttional: 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese or your favorite nut cream

Toppings: fresh cilantro leaves, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced avocado, halved grape tomatoes, vegan sour cream or more nut cream, etc.

 

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.  Add chorizo and garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another couple of minutes.  Lower heat if the onion or garlic starts to scorch.  Stir in all remaining ingredients, except lime juice, until well combined and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Stir in lime juice and serve warm topped as desired.

 

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Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach DipThis luscious-but-healthy dip with sea salt pita chips was a hit at a recent wine tasting (for my husbands posthumous 57th birthday party, as he, sadly, didn’t quite make it).  Afterwards, the leftovers were scrumptious as a quesadilla filling.  I topped those golden beauties with vegan sour cream, shredded purple cabbage and carrots, and fresh cilantro leaves.

 

8 ounces vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

2-15 ounce cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

Approximately 1 cup sauteed spinach, coarsely chopped

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced)

1/2-1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Zest of 1/2 lemon (good without; better with)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Accompaniment: pita chips or other crackers

Mash together vegan cream cheese and mayonnasie until well combine.  Add beans and coarsely mash.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir together until well combined.  Serve chilled with your favorite chip or cracker or use as a filling for quesadillas or enchiladas.

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Cauliflower Tacos--Aerial ViewYield: 6 tacos

In these addicting tacos–seriously, probably a Top 3–I put my own spin on tacos I discovered in Thug Kitchen Cookbook (thanks Dusten Keith for turning me on to this dynamic duo).

Instead of creating a braising liquid and a separate spice rub for roasting the cauliflower and onions, I created one thick marinade that serves as both, and I do actually marinate–rather than braise–the cauliflower and onions before roasting them.

In addition, the Thug Kitchen recipe calls for a cilantro slaw.  I chose instead to use shredded purple cabbage as a topping, along with cilantro and halved grape tomatoes, as build-your-own options because some folks–though it’s hard to believe–don’t care for cilantro.

For creaminess, because I do like a creamy contrast to the chewiness and crunchiness, I added my luscious Baja Sauce, a slightly adapted verison of the sauce that accompanies my Baja Tacos in  The Blooming Platter Cookbook.  This sauce is such a perfect balance of flavors that I like a little both under and over the layers of ingredients in these beauties.

 

Beer, Lime, Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower (recipe follows)

Baja Sauce (recipe follows)

8-6 to 8-inch whole wheat tortillas at room temperature, wrapped in foil and heated during last 5 minutes of cauliflower roasting

Toppings:

Shredded purple cabbage

Halved grape tomatoes (I like tri-color)

Fresh cilantro leaves

Roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds

Lime wedges

(I am allergic to avocado, but if you’re not, by all means!)

To serve, allow diners to build their own tacos.  I like to start with a thin layer of Baja Sauce on a warmed tortilla followed by the roasted cauliflower adn onion, cabbage, grape tomato halves, fresh cilantro leaves, a little more Baja Sauce, and a few roasted pumpkin seeds with a lime wedge on the side for squeezing.

About 1 1 /2 hours before you plan to serve the tacos, prepare cauliflower.
Beer, Lime, Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons medium-dark, flavorful beer

Juice of 1 small-medium lime

2 to 3 tablespoons Adobo Sauce from a can of Chilies in Adobo

2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1 head cauliflower (I like to use the golden yellow variety), trimmed and broken into florets no larger than a grape

1 medium onion, quartered, and sliced into 1/4-inch wide slivers

In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Add cauliflower and onion and toss well to coat.  *Heat for 1 ½ minutes on high in microwave, toss again, and let marinate for about an hour at room temperature.  After about 50 minutes, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss cauliflower again, drain off any excess liquid (reserve for another use if desired), spread cauliflower and onion in an oiled roasting pan, and roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and beginning to caramelize, stirring once or twice during roasting process.  About 5 minutes before cauliflower is finished, place foil-wrapped tortillas in oven to heat through.

*While cauliflower marinates, make Baja Sauce.

Baja Sauce:

1/2 cup vegan sour cream (or your favorite nut-based “crema”)

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 small lime

1 heaping tablespoon capers, drained and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon or stone ground prepared mustard

½ teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably the Mexican variety)

1/3 cup fresh dill weed, finely chopped (or 1 heaping tablespoon dried dill week, not seed)

Optional but delicious: 1 tablespoon chimichurri

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined.  Chill, covered, until serving time.

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Smoky Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Nutritional Yeast, Dried Orange Zest and SeaweedYield: 2 pounds nuts

This flavor combination is a nod to by my beloved Hurricane Popcorn, which was inspired by the Hawaiian mainstay.

 

1/4 cup vegan butter (you can subsitute olive oil, but the flavor won’t be as rich)

2 pounds raw pumpkin seeds (I purchase two 1 pound bags from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon Nori powder or dulce flakes (to make Nori powder, break up and process a Nori sheet in a spice grinder)

1 teaspoon onion powder (or garlic powder for a slightly different, but equally delicious, flavor)

1 teaspoon dried minced orange zest (I purchase it prepared on the spice aisle)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in oven in 9 x 13″ roasting pan.  Remove from oven and add all ingredients, sprinkling dry ingredients over the whole surface, and stirring to evenly coat seeds with butter and other ingredients.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven, cool in pan on a wire rack, and package in airtight containers.

These nuts will make a tasty and highly sought after holiday gift from your kitchen…if you don’t eat them all first!

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Barbara's Chocolate TartYield: 8 to 12 servings (it is decadent and rich, so a thin sliver may do the trick)

 

This recipe began its life as No Bake Chocolate Cake (which is really more of a terrine) at 101 Cookbooks.

But, my enterprising friend, Barbara Gelpi, simply poured the mixture into a crumb crust–homemade or purchased, plain or chocolate–and voila!: the densest, richest, most delectable tart imaginable with not a bit of tofu in sight.

Though I happen to love tofu, the absence of it removes all the soy, to which some folks are averse, while also removing the need for a food processor.  Considering that my new dog Patsy “retrieved” the blade from the counter where it was draining and ruined it by chewing up the plastic part only–thank goodness–that is a good thing.

Barbara and her husband, Juan, joined me in the preparation of a delectable vegan Moroccan meal last night, so Barbara’s addition of a pistachio garnish was perfectly fitting and tasty, and the green was such a pretty contrast with the warm reddish-brown of the chocolate.  But use any nut you like or no nuts at all.

This tart is sure to become a staple and all of your friends will ask you to bring it when they invite you for dinner.  Heck, they may invite you to dinner just so you’ll bring the tart!

8 ounces vegan chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

1 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon allspice, cinnamon, chili powder, etc.

2 teaspoons espresso

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 crumb pie crust

Optional topping: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios or your favorite nut

Melt the chocolate on the stovetop or in the microwave.  Heat the milk with the spice of your choice, the espresso, and the salt just bubbling.  Whisk the chocolate into the milk.  Allow to cool and thicken a bit, and then pour into crust.  Sprinkle with nuts,  and chill a couple of hours or until cold throughout and set.  It should be firm enough to slice beautifully.  Note: to make peanut butter version, melt 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter with chocolate and sprinkle top with coarsely chopped peanuts.

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Layered Fudge and Pumpkin Brownies--horizontalYield: 1-8×8″ pan of brownies

These are the perfect fall treat: chocolate always understands and pumpkin is just the perfect personification of everything appealing about autumn.

 

Brownie Layer:

1 box or bag of brownie mix that calls for only 1 egg, and contains no dairy products in the mix (I use Marie Callender’s “Restaurant Style” 10-0unce Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, sold locally at our Dollar Tree)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee

1/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer:

3/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

 

Ganache Layer:

1/2 cup non-dairy creamer (like soy or coconut)

4 to 5 ounces vegan chocolate chips

Spray a metal 8 x 8-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  (Optionall: cut a 3-inch wide strip of parchment paper long enough for ends to overhang sides of pan, press into bottom and up and over sides, and spray again with non stick spray.)  Make brownie layer: in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined and then whisk for 50 strokes.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Make pumpkin layer:  place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Gently smooth pumpkin mixture over the top of the brownie layer, spreading to cover.  Using a skewer or a knive, make narrow zig-zag lines through both layers from side to side, turn pan one-quarter turn, and repeat to make perpendicular lines.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies are set and no longer glossy on top.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  In the meantime, make ganache: heat creamer in microwave or a saucepan until very hot or just begining to bubble (about 1 minute or so in microwave).  Whisk in chocolate until melted.  Allow to rest at room temperature while brownies cool; mixture will thicken as it cools (speed process by refrigerating for a few minutes, if desired).  Gently pour and spread ganache over pumpkin layer of brownies.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until set before slicing and serving.

 

 

 

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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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Photo: Alisa Fleming

Photo: Alisa Fleming

And the winner is…me!

So Delcious and Go Dairy Free just announced the winners of their “Snackables” national (vegan) recipe contest and my Thai Biscuit Mini Sandwiches won the Grand Prize in the “Savory” category!  These are the perfect mini-meal, packed with flavor and nutrition and cute to boot.

This award is such an honor because I know of their high standards and rigorous vetting process.

Congrats to all winners and runner’s up!  And a huge thanks to So Delicous and Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free!

 

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