The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

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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(Vegan) Buffalo Wings and the Super Bowl go together like Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz!

I wouldn’t touch chicken wings many years ago when I ate chicken, but my vegan version is a slam dunk…hmmm, wrong metaphor. But you know what I mean.

Find my delicious recipe here and may the Seattle Seahawks, er, I mean, may the best team win.

:)

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Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--horizontalYield: 6 to 8 servings

(If you want to skip the backstory and product review, just scroll down a little bit to the creamy-cheesy recipe!)

Recently, I received a big box of Go Veggie! vegan products to test.  If your preferred grocery store, like mine, only stocks Go Veggie! vegetarian products (made with casein and such) and you thought it wasn’t the brand for you, I have good news: they make quite a range of vegan cheeses and, so far, I have found them very tasty with beautiful melt-ability.  Look for the purple packaging and click here for a store locator.

Just prior to receiving the bountiful box, I had seen two unrelated shows on the Food Network in which the hosts made mac-n-cheese, so that seemed the perfect dish in which to test several of the products all at once.  Both recipes were made with a veloute sauce instead of a bechamel.   Of this pair of French “mother” sauces, bechamel is a classic white sauce and veloute exactly the same, only made with stock instead of milk or cream.  I liked the idea of a veloute since so much “dairy” is used for mac-n-cheese anyway.  But if you are a non-dairy “Dairy Queen,” then, by all means, substitute your favorite non-dairy milk for the vegetable base/bouillion and water.

So, this morning, having literally not cooked all week–we dined out for dinner a lot with a guest in town, meaning there was also plenty of leftovers for my school lunches–I eagerly woke up  and dove into what turned out to be my very simple and satisfying project.  Since the cheddar-like package of “shreds” I was sent was called “Mexican Flavor,” I decided to nudge my recipe slightly west of  the Missisippi River without making it overpoweringly Mexican.

The award-winning Go Veggie! Dairy Free Cream Cheese Alternative added just the right amount of body to my veloute, which is definitely a bit thinner than a bechamel, due ot the lack of butterfat.   Their cream cheese has a pleasantly mild flavor and creamy texture, though a little liquid had separated, which may have been due to shipping and really didn’t present a problem, regardless; I simply poured it off before using.

The Go Veggie! Dairy Free Mexican Flavor Shreds melted beautifully, though I could barely detect any Mexican spices in the mix of both Cheddar- and Jack-style shreds, which is probably just as well because that allows the cook to better control the spices and resulting flavor.  I chose a mere half teaspoon of ground cumin and a quarter teaspoon each of chili powder, dried oregano, and smoked paprika, along with onion, garlic and roasted poblano peppers.

For the topping, the Go Veggie! Dairy Free Grated Parmesan Style Cheese was tasty–nutty, pungent and appealingly dry–and browned just perfectly mixed with vegan butter and Panko bread crumbs.  I could have used crushed corn chips, but I was trying to merely suggest the Southwest, not hit anyone over the head with a sombrero!

Speaking of heads, I am head-over-heels for this one, and hope you are too!  My finished dish is just perfect to me: not a thick, “gloppy” cut-it-with-a-knife mac-n-cheese, but pasta noodles bathed in a rich, silky, deeply flavorful and golden sauce with plenty of cheesiness, though far less cheese than many recipes call for.

6 tablespoons vegan butter

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

2 rounded teaspoons powdered vegetable base (or 2-3 bouillion cubes; not the extra large ones for 2 cups of liquid)

Pinch sea salt

2 cups water (or your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk)

1/4 cup Go Veggie! Dairy Free Cream Cheese Alternative

1-8 ounce package Go Veggie! Dairy Free Mexican Flavor Shreds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chili powder (mile or hot, your choice)

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon freshly gound black pepper

2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded, halved, roasted under the broiler until skin blackens (about 5 minutes), skin removed, and finely diced

8 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained, rinsed, and drained again

Crunchy Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.   In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onoins are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook and stir for another minute.  Whisk in flour to make a roux, cooking and whisking for a couple of minutes to remove raw flour taste.  Slowly whisk in vegtable base and water.  (Note: you may substitute vegetable stock for vegetable base and water.)  And cook for about 7 or so minutes or until sauce is quite thick.  Add cream cheese alternative and whisk until melted, followed by shreds and all spices.  Check for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.  Stir in poblano peppers and then fold sauce into pasta and spoon lightly into prepared dish.  Sprinkle topping evenly over the surface, covering completely, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to reabsorb back into the pasta.

Crunchy Topping:

1 tablespoon vegan butter

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup Go Veggie! Dairy Free Parmesan Style Grated Cheese

In a small saucepan, melt butter overmedium high.  Remove from heat and stir in crumbs and cheese until all ingredients are well combined.

Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--vertical

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Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer

Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer

Yield: 6 serving

Necessity was definitely the mother of invention with this soup: I was hungry for dinner and there was a can of diced tomatoes and pureed pumpkin in the pantry, and lemons and Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese in the fridge.  Voila: soup!  I was drinking a glass of wine while I was cooking, so in went some of it and, honestly, not a whole lot more save some aromatics, spices, and veggie stock.

The results received raves from three friends who were recipients: my yoga teacher (who is a foodie and cooking instructor in her own right), and two others who are nursing some kind of bug that is going around, both also excellent cooks and, as it happens, artists, one of whom took the photo at right before she and her husband tucked into it. Her photo has an artist’s touch no?  She said I should describe this recipe as, “The soup that briangs you back!”

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry red wine

4 ounces vegan cream cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest (do not omit–adds such a lovely freshness!)

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high.  Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and spices and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, for another minute.  Add tomatoes and pumpkin and stir until well combined.  Whisk in stock, 1 cup at a time, followed by red wine.  Heat through and then add vegan cream cheese in pieces, whisking until completely melted.  Stir in lemon zest and serve.

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