The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Jokerz Wild Cookies--Horizontal 1Yield: 2 dozen cookie balls

I am slowly working my way through a box of seven different candy bars from the good folks at Go Max Go Foods, makers of vegan candy bars that will remind you of some of your childhood non-vegan favorites, but are no mere knock-offs.

As if the flavors and textures alone weren’t enough to tempt, their commitment to ethical and non-GMO sourcing is the icing on the cake, er, the coating on the candy bar.

In this recipe, cookie dough and Jokerz candy bars “complete each other” like Batman and his nemesis for a wildly delicious double dose of peanuty, nougatey, chocolatey goodness.

 

2 Go Max Go “Jokerz” candy bars, sliced lengthwise and then across to create 12 pieces each

1/2 cup vegan butter

2 tablespoons crunchy “natural” peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup powdered sugar + 1/2 cup additional powdered sugar (for rolling)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips or 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Slice each candy bar lengthwise and then across to create 12 pieces each.  Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar until fluffy.  With mixer on low, mix in flour and sea salt followed by chocolate chips or peanuts.  Shape generous tablespoons of dough around each candy bar piece to form a ball and place cookies about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until set and light golden brown, watching carefully during the last minute or two.   Avoid over-baking or they will split open and the candy bar will ooze out.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Place remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each cookie in it to coat.  Place cookies on wire rack to cool completely.  Roll again in powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

 

 

 

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Summer Squash, Zucchini and Basil SlawRecently, I enjoyed coffee (actually an iced soy chai latte for me!) with a former art student who just graduated from college (with a minor in art!).

Her family has long tended a bountiful garden, so she brought me beautiful squash among other specimens.

Planning for a beach picnic with a good friend yesterday evening, I thought that maybe a squash and zucchini slaw–with some shredded carrots I had on hand and basil from my own herb garden–would be the perfect accompaniment to our Vegan Baked Bean Crostini…and it was!

This beautiful slaw goes together in a flash but looks and tastes very special.

 

3 cups shredded yellow squash, zucchini, and carrot, roughly equal parts of each

Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnasie

1 tablespoon apple cider or malt vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped capers

2 tablespoons basil chiffonade (stack basil leaves, roll tightly, and slice into very thin slivers

Optional garnish: whole capers and fresh basil sprigs

Toss together shredded vegetables and a pinch of salt, place in a collander, top with a plate and something with a little weight–like a can of beans–on top and let drain for about 20 minutes.  Then, in a medium bowl, toss together all remaining ingredients, including more salt to taste.  Cover and chill until serving time.  Toss and serve garnished if desired with whole capers and basil sprigs.

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Baked Bean CrostiniYield: 12 crostini

My parents have a nack for making any simple run-of-the-mill meal or activity seem special.

When I was a kid, a favorite sandwich that my mom would whip up with leftover baked beans was simply cooled beans mixed with mayo and pickle relish served between slices of toasted white bread, with or without butter lettuce.

Make this delicacy yourself in minutes and watch it disappear!

Because I love to nosh, my modern twist on her tradition is simply to serve the filling openface on small pieces of grilled crostini.  I made these yesterday for an evening beach picnic with a good friend.  Bean-filled bliss!

 

Approximately 1 1/2 cups thick baked beans, chilled (I used a 15.5 ounce can of Bush’s vegan “Steakhouse” variety that I baked for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees to thicken and concentrate flavors)

2 to 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sweet or dill pickle relish

Optional: 2 sliced scallions, both white and green part (stir in or use as garnish)

12 thin slices lightly oiled and grilled or toasted bread (Italian, French, etc.)

Optional garnish: tiny sprigs of fresh basil

Stir together beans, mayo, relish, and opitonal scallions until combined.  Pile on top of grilled bread and garnish with basil.  Serve immediately.

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Go Max Go Cleo's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Treats--VerticalYield: 4 treats

If you think peanut butter cups are good, try peanut butter cups topped with layers of creamy vanilla ice cream and decadent chocolate ganache for a frozen peanut-topped treat.

If she’d had to chose, Cleopatra certainly would have chosen these over Mark Antony!

The Good Folks at Go Max Go Foods sent me a bounty of bars recently, so stay tuned for more creations and visit them on Facebook!

2 packages Go Max Go Cleo’s peanut butter cups (each package contains two cups) or the vegan peanut butter cup most readily available in your area.

1 pint vegan vanilla ice cream, softened and stirred until creamy

1/4 cup vegan soy or coconut creamer

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Garnish: 4 large peanuts or 2 teaspoons chopped peanuts

Line 4 muffin tins with 4 muffin liners and place one Cleo’s peanut butter cup in the bottom of each.  Top each with 1/4th of the ice cream, smoothing the tops.  Freeze.  Meanwhile, heat soy creamer to just before simmering on top of stove or in microwave.  Whisk in chocolate chips until smooth.  Cool to room temperature and top each ice cream treat with one-forth of the ganache, smoothing the tops. Garnish with one large peanu tor 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped peanuts.  Refreeze for at least 2 hours.  To serve, remove each treat from the muffin tin, which may require a knife to pop it loose.  Peel off muffin liners and discard, serving on top of fresh liners, if desired.  Allow to soften slightly before serving with a small sharp knife for the initial slice through the bottom.

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Grilled Watermelon GazpachoYield: 4 main dish servings

Monday evening, I hosted a mini-dinner party for two foodie friends.  Our temperatures here in Eastern Virginia spiked that day after quite a cool week, so I wanted to serve a light menu and maybe a chilled soup.

On my DC day-hiking experience with my cousin last weekend, we had enjoyed two(!) meals at Nora–America’s very first and still chart-topping organic restaurant–in Dupont Circle where I was enchanted with the asparagus vischysoisse.   I toyed with that idea, but on our Rock Creek Park hike, I had packed a picnic lunch that included watermelon cubes, which I seldom eat.  I confess to not eating a lot of fruit, probably because of its high sugar content, but this was addicting and so hydrating.

I came home from our trip sort of obsessed with the idea of grilled watermelon and I’m not sure why; maybe I saw it on a menu somewhere in the city.  So, not long after I had decided against the vischysoisse–asparagus isn’t still in season here–I thought of grilled watermelon gazpacho.  I saw only a couple of recipes for it online and I consulted one of them, but then just made up my own creation, choosing what looked the most enticing at the grocery store.

Wanting a more golden rather than rich tomato-ey soup–of which I’m not a big fan and often prevents my ordering gazpacho in restaurants–I chose golden grape tomatoes and an orange bell pepper, among other ingredients.  But choose whatever you like, using my recipe as is or as a guide.  My dinner guests will attest: this is one amazing soup, even with no herbs and spices other than salt and pepper and a garnish of cilantro and I will make it again and again just like this!

And it was the perfect supper served with a pair of Beet Bruschetta.  Oh, and a couple of glasses of wine.

Happy Independence Day!

2 1-inch thick slices of seeded watermelon about 9″ across at the widest point (basically enough to completely cover the bottom of a 10-inch indoor grill pan in one layer)

10. 5 ounces yellow grape tomatoes

1 10-inch English cucumber, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 medium red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/8ths

1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered

3 large cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon of pepper or to taste

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Recommended Accompaniment: Beet Bruschetta

Preheat oiled grill pan over medium-high.  Arrange watermelon slices in pan in one layer.  Cook about 3 minutes or until nice grill marks appear, carefully flip, and repeat.  Remove watermelon to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, slice off rind.  Then place all ingredients except sour cream, lime zest and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor in about three batches and process until desired consistency is reached, transfering each batch to a storage container or serving bowl.  Stir to combine completely and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until serving time.  Just before serving, stir together sour cream and lime zest.  Serve each bowl topped with 1/4th of the Lime Sour Cream and the chopped cilantro.

Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho--Aerial

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Zucchini and Yellow Squash Torta 2Yield: 4 main dish servings (2 slices each, as they are so light) or 8 side dish servings

Last Tuesday, realizing that I was leaving town in a couple of days (for my annual summer day hiking trip with my cousin Earl) and that I had a big beautiful zucchini and yellow squash from the farmer’s market in the fridge, I realized I needed to create something that would showcase them for lunch for the next couple of days.

Whatever it was, I wanted it to be light with a chilled component.  With just about a cup of tofu in the fridge, the idea of a salad-topped torta struck and I set about seeing what I could come up with.

The result was a well-behaved  one-dish meal that is as addicting as it is nutritious and low calorie.  In fact, this dish is so light, who cares if you wipe out the whole torta in one setting?  Okay, well maybe half.  I confess to devouring three slices for lunch both days.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-8 inch zucchini (about 2″ in diameter at widest section), very thinly sliced

1-8 inch yellow squash (about 2″ in diameter at widest section), very thinly sliced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced

7 to 8 ounces extra firm regular tofu (half of a 14 to 16 ounce box, however your favorite brand is sold)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (nothing beats freshly ground!)

8 to 12 fresh basil leaves

Tomato Cucumber Salad (recipe follows)

Garnish: sprigs of fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add zucchini and yellow squash slices and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Saute, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until squash begins to soften.  Add 1 clove of minced garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until squash is perfectly tender and most of moisture is absorbed/evaporated.  Remove from heat and lightly smooth the top to create a flat surface.  In a food processor, blend all remaining ingredients, except basil, including remaining clove of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.  Add basil leaves and pulse just to chop and distribute.  Pour mixture over cooked squashes, sealing to edges.  Bake in center of oven for about 35 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top.  Cool about 15 minutes or until just warm for best flavor, texture, and easy removal from the pan.  Serve topped with Tomato Cucumber Salad and garnished with fresh basil sprigs.

Tomato Cucumber Salad

1 cup diced cucumber

1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes

2 teaspoons mild vinegar like cider or malt

Pinch Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, gently combine all ingredients.  Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

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Beet BruschettaYield: 4 servings (8 bruschetta)

As I’ve mentioned, the newly formed Starlight Supper Club consisting of three couples–a vegan (me), 2 vegetarians, 1 pescetarian and, yes, my husband the carnivore–celebrated our inaugural dinner last Saturday night at the home of Becky Bump and Reese Lusk.  The setting–their tiny log cabin with an exquisitely designed interior and a furnished deck on Chubb Lake–was outdone only by the food and company.

The appetizer alone set me off on a several day-binge of Beet Bruschetta.  I can’t believe I never thought of it before, but it has quickly become a staple.  Becky and Reese made theirs on Reese’s delicious sourdough bread, but I just used bread from the bakery section of the grocery store and it was tasty.

Be sure to roast the beet a little over an hour before serving time.  And keep the bruschetta on the smaller side or it is too difficult to pick up and enjoy.

1 fist-size beet (which will shrink slightly while roasting), rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled lightly with salt, wrapped in foil over a pan to catch drips, roasted at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender, and slightly cooled

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic

Sea salt

8-1/3 to 1/2″ thick slices ciabatta bread (or something similar), about 2 1/2″ in diameter

Approximately 7 ounces extra firm tofu, crumbled (half of a 14 ounce box, as is available here) or Homemade Vegan Ricotta

Freshly ground black pepper

8 large basil leaves

 

While beet roasts, mince garlic into olive oil, add a tiny pinch of sea salt, stir to combine, and set aside.  While beet is cooling, brush bread very lightly with garlic oil and grill in an indoor grill pan over medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly toasted.  (If you don’t have a grill pan, broil, watching carefully).  Lightly mash tofu with about 1 teaspoon garlic oil and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cut beet into 8 slices, crosswise.  Divide tofu among bread slices and place a basil leaf on top of each, followed by a beet slice.  Drizzle with garlic oil and finish with a few grains of sea salt.

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Mashed Beets with Butter and Sour CreamYield: 4 servings

Saturday night, Joe and I and two other couples celebrated not only the almost-Summer Solstice, but the inaugural dinner of our Starlight Supper Club (named after the Stardust Supper Club in the small town where I grew up).

The first dinner was hosted by Becky Bump and Reese Lusk, two inspired cooks and highly creative individuals:  Reese is an artist and designer and Becky owns a public relations firm.  I have been fantasizing about the appetizer–and the pie!–ever since and, in fact, we had not been home from the party a full 12 hours before I was roasting beets to make my version of their Beet Bruschetta–genius!  Stay tuned for this recipe on Saturday, June 27.

But I had a lot of beets and remembered that Reese had said that the only way he enjoys beets is in my Beet Muhummara which is, if I so stay so, a spectacular spread.  But I started wondering why beets couldn’t be prepared like mashed potatoes, complete with butter, sour cream, cream, salt and pepper.  And they can:  wow!

Mashed beets are beautiful and delicious and, while they still taste like the best of beets, the other ingredients mask that beet-y “whang” that some folks don’t care for.

8 “woman’s fist size” beets, trimmed, but  not peeled (the beets will shrink as they roast)

olive oil

sea salt

4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegan butter

4 tablespoons vegan sour cream

2 tablespoons plain soy creamer (unsweetened if you can find it)

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional garnish: fresh thyme sprigs

Prheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place beets on a sheet of foil on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow juices), rub with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with just a bit of sea salt.  Wrap and roast for about an hour (check for tenderness at 45 minutes).  Unwrap, allow to cool for about 10 minutes or until comfortable to handle, peel, and cut into quarters.  Put through a food ricer or puree in a food processor with remaining ingredients.  Serve warm, topped with a tiny pad butter (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a sprig of thyme if desired.

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Orange-Mocha Ice CreamYield: 1 quart

Over the very hot and humid weekend, I decided that my Vegan-Espresso Dreamsicle Smoothie might make a scrumptious ice cream…and I was right!

I love this ice cream’s rich almost caramely color which results from combining the bright orange frozen orange juice concentrate with the warm browns of espresso and cocoa powder.

And the flavor is so complex: tart, but with deep dark, yet somehow subtle,  notes of coffee and chocolate.

Cream of Coconut makes a luscious ice cream base, but only reveals the barest whisper of coconut flavor to those who know to be “looking” for it.  So those who don’t fancy coconut won’t even know it’s there.

14 to 16 ounces extra-firm tofu (whatever weight in which your favorite brand is sold), regular or,f for extra creaminess, silken

1-15.5 ounce can Creme of Coconut, refrigerated (located where alcoholic drink mixers are sold in the grocery store; Coco Lopez is a popular brand)

1-8 ounce can frozen orange juice (look for an organic brand)

1/4 cup sugar (I use demerara)

1 tablespoon espresso or instant coffee, regular or decaf

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Place tofu in the bowl of a food processor and process until almost smooth.  Add all remaining ingredients and process for about 3 minutes or until very smooth.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.  (I love my electric Cuisnart.) Transfer to a lidded container and freeze several hours or over night to ripen.

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Fruit Pickles--Peaches and RosemaryYield: 1 quart

I think that canned fruits and vegetables are so beautiful, sparkling like jewels under glass.  But, sterilizing jars is  a deal-breaker for me.

So, when I saw this recipe from Robby Melvin in Southern Living, I was all about it.  These quick pickles are “put up” in jars, but no sterilizing is required, as they stay refrigerated.

His paired strawberries and rosemary, honedew and thyme, and peaches and mint, but pair up any fruit or berry and woody herb you choose.

I altered the recipe just a little only because I  didn’t have white balsamic vinegar on hand, but did have white balsamic vinegar reduction and white vinegar.  I also upped the vinegar in the vinegar-water ration–I love bold flavors–and I didn’t have mint in my herb garden, so I used rosemary with the peaches I purchased at the farmer’s market on the way home from yoga yesterday morning.

I doubled my recipe to make 2 jars and took them as gifts to the inaugrual dinner of the Starlight Supper Club last night.  I’ve always wanted to be in a “supper club,” so two friends and our husbands finally started one.  Becky Bump and Reese Lusk set the bar high  with a deliciously inspired menu in a breathtaking setting among treasured friends. More on our wining and dining throughout the year.

Note: you may substitute 1 generous cup white balsamic vinegar for the white vinegar and white balsamic vinegar reduction if you choose.

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar (I use demerara sugar)

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar reduction (I purchase at Kroger)

2 teaspoons sea salt

3 peaches

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, water, white balsamic vinegar reduction, and salt to a boil.  Remove from heat and completely cool (about 1 hour).   After about 45 minutes, slice peaches into eighths and place in a 1 quart jar along with rosemary on the sides so that it shows nicely.  Poor cooled pickle brine over the fruit, seal tightly with a lid and refrigerate for 1 hour, at least, but best after 8 to 12.  Keeps about 1 week in the refrigerator.

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