Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade

I was recently in Atlanta for a few days for meetings.  When in Atlanta we often order lunch from a place called Fresh to Order.  They have some decidedly friendly vegan options in which includes a Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade that is absolutely wonderful.

Because we were a decent sized lunch order we ordered a gallon of the stuff. I am not ashamed to admit that between me and one other woman at the meeting we drank almost the whole gallon.  The flavor is sophisticated, delicious, unique and somewhat addictive.

This, and the Corn and Peanut Salad pictured below (which I hope to recreate soon) are definitely the reason I will be planning my next business meeting in Atlanta!



If you like lemonade, vanilla, and anise flavors I would strongly encourage you to give this a try. I will make it again and again.



Vanilla Star Anise Lemonade

For the simple syrup:
1 cup vegan granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 large pieces of lemon peel (best removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 vanilla bean
3 star anise pods
1 pinch sea salt
Cheese cloth or a fine strainer to strain syrup

For the lemonade:
Juice of 6-8 lemons, strained to remove pulp
Simple syrup (recipe above)
8-10 cups cold water
Lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Split the vanilla bean down the center and remove the seeds with a sharp knife. In a medium saucepan add the sugar, lemon peel, 1 cup of water, salt,  star anise pods and the vanilla seeds and bean pod. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Once the sugar is completely dissolved simmer  for a bout 5-10 minutes in order to bring out the flavors of the lemon, vanilla and star anise.

Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth and set aside to cool.

Once the simple syrup has cooled add it to a large pitcher and then pour in the strained lemon juice. Add 8-10 cups cold water (water may be adjusted to factor in more or less sweet/tart lemonade).

Serve over ice garnished with lemon slices if desired.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Vanilla Cake

My daughter started seventh grade this year.  One of the things I just love about her is that she enthusiastically brings home things she has learned at school and wants to try them out at home or demonstrate her learning for us.



She just had her first rotation in FCS, or Family Consumer Sciences (formerly known as Home Economics). Her first track was cooking and a couple of weeks ago she arrived home from school with some dairy free, egg free vanilla cake the class had made. I tasted it and it was great!

A few daysafter that she came home with the recipe book for all of the things she had made at school and was very excited to make the cake for us.

She did all the measuring and mixing herself and she did a great job. The result was a very moist vanilla cake.  We used a store-bought vegan vanilla frosting and it was delicious vegan vanilla heaven!

Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Vanilla Cake

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cold water
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl put flour, sugar, baking soda, sal, oil, white vinegar, vanilla and cold water. Mix until moistened, and put in an 8x8 baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil.

Bake at 350 degress for 22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completlly before icing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Miso Glazed Carrots

Isn't it funny how your tastes change over the years? I have always liked snacking on carrots, putting them in salad or dipping them in peanut butter. But, I did not liked them cooked.  No way, now how. I especially avoided glazed carrots. Something about brown sugar and carrots had always sounded kind of gross to me.  Well, that has all changed.



All of the sudden, a few weeks ago, I started craving cooked carrots. I have no idea what that is all about but I am glad it happened.  The first time I cooked them I did tahini roasted carrots. I really enjoyed them. So, I figured I would brave the realm of glazed carrots and see how that went. I adapted a recipe I found on the Earth Balance website and, I am pleased to say, it went quite well! Not your traditional glazed carrot but delicious nonetheless.



I will make these again and I cannot believe I am saying this but might up the amount of brown sugar next time.

I can't wait to try some other cooked carrot recipes. I never thaought I would hear those words come out of my mouth!

Miso Glazed Carrots

1 bunch of small carrots (the bunch I used consisted of 8)
1 tbsp vegan butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp miso (I used red)
1 tsp tamari sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Into the melted butter mix the brown sugar, miso, tamari sauce and ground ginger until smooth.  Toss the carrots in the glaze and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until they reach the desired tenderness.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lemon Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

I often cook on Saturday mornings. Now that my kids are older and are not up at the crack of dawn mornings are usually a nice quiet time where I can spend a little time in the kitchen. I often cook things that are needed to be used up before grocery shopping, as was the case this morning with a head of cauliflower.



I did a quick Internet search for "tahini cauliflower" and I found a recipe that looked good. I changed it a bit as I am a huge fan of lemon and most often find recipes never add enough lemon as printed!  I am also a huge fan of savory breakfasts, so as it turns out this was breakfast today, too.

The sauce is delicious with a bright lemony flavor offset by the deep flavor of sesame.  This would make a great side for dinner or a nice lunch, too.

Lemon Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower cut into florets
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tahini paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt plus more for salting cauliflower before roasting
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 435 degrees.

Place the florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat.  Season with salt and place on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown.

While the cauliflower is roasting put the rest of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic.  Sautee for a minute or two until the garlic turns fragrant.  Add the tahini, lemon and water and whisk until as smooth sauce forms.  You may thin the sauce as desired with more lemon juice or water until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt.

Toast sesame seeds in a nonstick pan over medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant.

When the cauliflower is finished remove from the oven, transfer to a plate and pour the sauce over top. Garnish with parsley and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Fondue

Fondue is such a fun thing to eat.  I always loved the ritual of sitting around a fondue pot dipping crusty bread into gooey wine infused cheese.  So simple and delicious and a great way to eat a relaxed social meal. I remember fondue being a big thing back in the 1970's. Always a fun time.



Recently, while on Pinterest I ran across a recipe for a potato based vegan fondue.  The ingredients were so simple... could it be good?  The reviews on the page were mixed, but I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe closely but added a splash of kirsch at the end. I always remember that being the "extra special" ingredient that really "made" the fondue.



The result of this fondue is surprisingly close to the real thing as verified by my husband who eventually told me he had to walk away from the fondue pot lest he'd eat the whole thing.

This was good enough that I am thinking about hosting an all out 1970's style fondue party.  Who's in?

Fondue

11 fingerling potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small cooking onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tsp salt
1 cup dry white wine (divided)
Splash kirsch (cherry liquor)
Grating of nutmeg
Cubes of crusty bread (for dipping)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about ten minutes. Drain and set aside.

In the pot the potatoes were boiled in add the olive oil to a skillet over low heat and add the onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until onions are translucent and tender.  Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes or so.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 cup of water and stir to make a slurry. Add to the onion mixture and increase the heat to medium. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes and then remove from the heat and add the potatoes, salt, and half the wine.  Return to the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the mixture.  If the mixture is not entirely smooth transfer to a high-powered blender (I used a Vitamix).

Return to the pot, add the other half of the wine and a splash of the kirsch. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm with Sterno. Grate a small amount of nutmeg over the top of the fondue and serve with crusty bread chunks for dipping.

Note: the original recipe called for nutritional yeast which I had intended to add but simply forgot. I do not think the recipe needs it but if you decide to use it, add 2 Tbsp after simmering the onions. Stir and simmer a few minutes longer.

Monday, December 29, 2014

White Bean Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini

This was a very merry Christmas, indeed.  I got to spend lots of time with family and was able to get away to spend a few days after Christmas with my in-laws in Florida. And of course, there was lots of good food, like this White Bean Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini.



Before heading out to Florida the day after Christmas, I hosted my parents for dinner on Christmas Day. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing the meal, but, the truth be told, my favorite part of any holiday meal has always been the snacks enjoyed before dinner.



My favorite dish from this year's Christmas dinner was these White Bean and Spinach Crostini hors d'oeuvres I found in a holiday issue of Fine Cooking. Not only are they very festive dressed in their Christmas red and green they are disproportionately delicious to their ease of preparation.

Dinner was quite good, too. For myself and my daughter (the only non-meat eaters in the family) I took the 'easy' route and bought a prepared gardein Holiday Roast. I paired it with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cipollini Onions and an arugula, roasted yellow beet and radish salad.  Quite delicious, really.  The meat eaters got to eat something they really enjoyed as well, but we won't get into that here.



I hope all of you had as wonderful a holiday as I did. I, for one, feel very blessed to be able to share the holidays with those I love most.

White Bean, Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 oz baby spinach leaves
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Crostini bread or melba toast

In a skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook until golden.  Transfer the garlic and all but one tablespoon of the olive oil to a food processor.  Return the skillet to the heat and raise to medium high. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Add to the bowl of the food processor the cannellini beans and fresh thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pulse until a very smooth mixture is formed.

When ready to assemble place some of the bean mixture on a crostini or melba toast, top with some of the spinach and garnish with thin slices of the sun dried tomato.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ice Box Cake

I am told we had Ice Box cake growing up.  It consisted of Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers Cookies covered in whipped cream and chilled in the refrigerator.  Apparently not just my immediate family had this dish, but my extended family, too.



When I posted a picture of my Ice Box Cake on my Facebook page I was readily informed of this fact. Two of my cousins and my sister confirmed that somehow I missed this part of my childhood:



I am actually not sure exactly where I learned about Ice Box Cake but when the nice folks at So Delicious sent me some of their new CocoWhip to try that was the first thing I thought about making.

I believe the traditional way to make this is how my cousin Angela describes above- to layer the cookies and whip into the shape of a log, cover with whipped cream and then once chilled slice on the diagonal.  I did mine in small stacks of four or five cookies alternating cookies and CocoWhip and then covering them in the CocoWhip.

I thought this was delicious; especially for a cake with a scant two ingredients.

Ice Box Cake

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
So Delicious CocoWhip

Layer the cookies and whip in a vertical stack of your desired size or create a horizontal log shaped row alternating the layers of cookies and whip.  Cover the stack or row entirely with CocoWhip. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve chilled.