Easy as one, two, three!

Well, with Easter upon us, I’ve been in a pie baking moment.  This morning I was up at the crack of dawn, making vegan apple and mixed berry pies.  It’s going to be a LONG day!  I thought I would share my recipes with you!

Happy Easter!

Pâte Brisée (Pie Crust)

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 C flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup cold earth balance

1/4 – 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, combine the flour and the butter. Run it for about ten seconds, until you get a breadcrumb consistency. If the dough is still a little dry, add in a little water, a tiny splash at a time, until the dough comes together. (If you’ve added too much water, fret not, compensate with more flour.) Transfer the dough into a bowl, and chill for an hour.

Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface, and transfer  half the dough into a pie pan. Roll the remainder in a ball for the top.  Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Cover with aluminium foil, and let rest in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Take pie shell out of the refrigerator and bake for ten minutes or until golden.  Set aside.

APPLE FILLING:

7 organic apples

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all the above in a bowl and sit for 30 minutes.

*Note:  For a mixed berry pie substitute the apples with the following:

2 cups fresh organic raspberries

2 cups fresh organic blackberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons arrowroot

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoon red currant jelly

Combine all the berries in a large colander and gently rinse. Gently pat with paper towels to dry.  In a food processor, puree 2 1/2 cups of the mixed berries for 1 minute, until they’re fully pureed. Strain the puree into a non-stick saucepan and set aside.  Whisk together the sugar, arrowroot and salt in a small  bowl until fully mixed and pour into the puree.  Bring the puree to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wood spoon.  Once the mixture reaches the consistency of pudding, remove it from the heat.  Stir in the lemon juice and set aside to cool slightly.

While the puree is cooling, place remaining berries in a medium bowl.  Heat jelly in another saucepan over low heat until it’s fully melted.  Drizzle the melted jelly over the berries and toss gently to coat. Pour the slightly cooled puree into your cooled pie shell, and add fresh berries.

To finish the pie(s), roll out the remaining dough and gently put it over the top of the filled pie shells, pinching off the edges.  Cut a small hole in the middle of the pie and bake for another 30 minutes at 375 until lightly golden.

Voila!  These are truly great pie recipes, and relatively easy to make!

Enjoy!

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Vegan Apple Pie

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Vegan Mixed Berry Pie

Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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It was one of those evenings…

I had a really long day today, and worse still, I hadn’t eaten much, so by the time dinner time rolled around, I was ravenous! I needed to make something that didn’t take a lot of time–I don’t do hot dogs, nor do I buy frozen dinners, so…

I decided on Stuffed Tomato & Garlic Portobello Mushrooms, Kale With Roasted Pecans, Cranberries & Garlic  (V) and Sweet Potato Fries.  It was splendid, and quick and easy! 🙂

Stuffed Tomato & Garlic Portobello Mushrooms (Vegetarian)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

3 large leaves fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 large portobello mushrooms, whole

1/4 cup (1-ounce) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 tablespoons fresh grated romano cheese

LET’S GET COOKING!

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine tomato, cheese, olive oil, garlic, parsley, pepper and half of the balsamic vinegar (2 tablespoons) in a small bowl. Remove mushroom stems, dice and add to stuffing mixture. Continue to remove gills from underside of mushroom by using the side of a spoon and scraping them out.  Combine 1/2 teaspoon oil, lemon juice, and the rest of the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl; brush over both sides of mushroom caps. Place the mushroom caps, undersides facing down, in a large baking dish coated with cooking spray, and bake for 10 minutes. Flip mushrooms over and spoon 1/4 tomato mixture into each mushroom cap. Place back in oven and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted and mushrooms are tender.

Yields:  4 servings

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The stuffing

KALE WITH ROASTED PECANS & CRANBERRIES

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch organic kale, chopped (Trader Joe’s sells kale by the bag)

1/2 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 cloves pressed garlic

1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles (optional)

sea salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

HERE WE GO!

Place the pecans in a large skillet and roast in the pan, add the oil, cranberries, garlic, salt & pepper and kale.  Stir fry, cooking until the kale is mildly limp.  Remove from heat and place in a bowl.  Add goat cheese and stir.  Talk about fast and easy!!!

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The finished product!

Buon Appetito!

Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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Spaghetti with Red Onions?

Okay, okay… I know…red onions in spaghetti…it sounds weird, right?  Well, talk to the locals from Firenze (Florence) Italy.  This recipe is not uncommon.  I am not a big anchovy fan either, but sometimes it really enhances the taste of a dish, and it really adds to the flavor of this pasta.  Try it, you’ll like it!  🙂

Red Onion Spaghetti with Anchovy & Pecorino Cheeses

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 pound red onions, thinly sliced

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Celtic Sea Salt (to taste)

1 pound spaghetti

1 cup Pecorino Romano Genuino cheese, finely grated

1 cup Pecorino Fiore Sardo cheese, finely grated (you will probably have to get this at a deli)

3/4 cup cold water

7 flat anchovy fillets

1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper or crushed red pepper for a little extra kick

LET’S GET COOKING!

In a large skillet with lid, combine onions, 2/3 cup water, oil, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt; bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat, then cook until onions begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 25 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In the meantime, while the gravy is cooking, cook the spaghetti as directed–al dente is preferred.  In a separate bowl, mix the grated cheeses with the cold water and set it aside.
Next, add the anchovies to the simmering sauce. Cook, uncovered, stirring with a wooden spoon, until anchovies are dissolved (2-3 minutes).  Stir in the parsley and remove from 
heat. Cover sauce to keep warm.  Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot.  Add the sauce; cook over high heat, stirring, 2 minutes, then add cheese mixture, reduce heat to medium and, stirring constantly, cook 2 minutes more. Serve immediately, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and pepper.  If you want to spice it up a bit, add crushed red pepper.
I enjoy serving this with a wonderful Caprese Salad, but it’s great with any green salad of your choosing.  Pair it with a good Chardonnay, and you’ve got quite a meal.
Buon Appetito!
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Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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Sometimes you’ve just got to have a sandwich…

For the most part, I try to avoid a lot of carbs, but sometimes, you’ve just got to have a sandwich.  Years ago, I came across a recipe similar to this (this is a revision), and I just love it!  It’s spicy, healthy and so delicious!  Hope you like it too!

Avocado and Melted Swiss on Jalapeño Bread

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance

4 slices  Jalapeño Bread (Trader Joe’s often carries this)

1 cup homemade guacamole (see below)

4 med-thick slices of Swiss cheese

Lemon Pepper to taste

Sea Salt to taste

2 avocados, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup fresh salsa (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

1 cup organic spring mix (Trader Joe’s)

Guacamole 

3 avocado’s peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup finely diced red onions

1/2 cup finely diced ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon lime zest

1  jalapeño pepper finely diced  (for hotter guacamole you can use habaneros or sorrano chili’s)

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Directions:  

In a large mixing bowl combine the avocados, lime juice and the orange juice.  Mash together with a fork for chunky guacamole or put in a food processor or electric mixer for creamier consistency.  Add the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime zest, pepper and salt, and mix well (with a spoon)

*Note:  Store any leftover guacamole in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  If you place one of the avocado seeds in the center, it will prevent it from browning.

Here We Go!

Butter both sides of the  jalapeño bread slices and grill.  While grilling, place the Swiss cheese slices on the top of a grilled side, and cover to slightly melt.  Cut the bread slices diagonally and spread the guacamole sauce evenly over the slice with cheese. Divide the avocado slices between the two sandwiches.  Drain the salsa and put it evenly over the sandwiches.  Add the spring mix, cover with the other slice of grilled  jalapeño bread.  Place a toothpick to hold the sandwich together.

Garnish with grapes and berries.

*Note:  Smart & Final carry long sandwich toothpicks that are fabulous for thicker sandwiches.

ENJOY!!!!

Avocado & Melted Swiss  on  Jalapeño Bread

 

Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake With Ganache and Raspberry Filling

imgres-1It’s hard not to think of chocolate on Valentine’s Day… and so, I choose to embrace it!

Did you know that in Medieval times, girls ate unusual foods on St Valentine’s Day to make them dream of their future husband?  Isn’t that a hoot?  I can’t help but wonder if chocolate was in the equation…probably not.

Everybody loves chocolate, right?  For those of you making a love-filled dinner at home, may I suggest this wonderful Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake?

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake With Ganache and Raspberry Filling

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the better quality, the better your cake will be)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup organic canola oil (or coconut oil)
1 cup cold brewed organic coffee
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

For the Ganache:

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
6 ounces 72% dark chocolate (I use Sharffen Berger bittersweet dark chocolate)
3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

For the Raspberry Filling

You can use raspberry jam ( about 1/2-3/4 cup)
My preference is to use fresh raspberries.

Cook  2 cups of organic fresh raspberries with 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons sugar. Puree the raspberry mixture, then if you wish, press through a sieve to remove the seeds or leave the seeds in. Return to the sauce pan. Add 2 teaspoons of arrowroot or corn starch with a little water to become liquid. Add the corn starch mixture to the raspberry mixture and heat until the raspberry mixture become thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

LET’S GET BAKING!

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking oil spray, then place a circle of parchment paper in each pan and spray again.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, coffee and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a spoon just until combined. Add the vinegar and stir just until it’s evenly distributed in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched in the middle. Set aside to cool.

The Ganache

In the top part of a double boiler, place the soy milk and margarine, and heat together until the margarine melts. Add the vegan chocolate chips, continue to cook while stirring constantly until the vegan chocolate chips have melted completely and the mixture is very smooth. Use the ganache, warm, as a glaze for cakes or use as a dip or coating for fruit or nuts, or when cool, use as a filling for cakes and desserts. Store any excess in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be reheated in a double boiler as needed.

Yield: 2 Cups

Place frosting ingredients in a double broiler and heat gently and stir until the chocolate is totally melted and very smooth.  For glazing the cake, use the ganache warm.

When the cakes have cooled, put a serving plate on the pan and and carefully invert. Remove the parchment paper. Spread a small amount of raspberry filling over the top. Place a flat plate on the pan containing the second layer, invert and remove the parchment. Repeat the process with another plate so the rounded side is up.  Transfer it onto the bottom layer.

Glaze the cake completely (spreading to smooth the top) with the ganache, letting the frosting run down the sides of the cake.

For a nice touch, take several fresh, cleaned raspberries and place them on top of the cake for decoration.

Serve immediately or leave lightly covered at room temperature and serve later or the next day.

Serves 8

Enjoy!

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Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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Valentine’s Day = Love + Chocolate & Roses

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

url-1Valentine’s Day approacheth, and while it’s nice to receive a beautiful flower bouquet or box of chocolates, sometimes it’s really cool to take the time and make something special for someone.  Ladies, have you ever thought of making chocolate candy for your valentine?  This Valentine’s Day, I’m making Vegan Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, with love, of course!  They’re a healthier option, delicious and really easy to make.   It will be hard to eat just one!

Let’s Get Started!

Vegan Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

INGREDIENTS:

1 package vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s carries these)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons crunchy raw almond butter  (adding a little shredded coconut is a fun little option)

8 drops liquid stevia

Candy liners (I often purchase these online–ShopBakersNook.com)

Mini muffin pan

HERE WE GO!

Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips and the sea salt in a double boiler (water in the bottom half) on the stove.  Turn on burner and stir gently while the chocolate melts.

Place liners in muffin tray and distribute a teaspoon of melted chocolate in each candy liner.  Spread evenly around.o spread evenly around.  Allow the chocolate to fully cool and harden in the refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes.  Mix the stevia drops in with the almond butter.  Once hardened, scoop 1/2 teaspoon of crunchy raw almond butter in the center of each cup.

Melt the remaining chocolate and cover each cup completely with the chocolate.  Use a knife or spatula to spread the chocolate evenly around. I like to grind a little course sea salt on the top.  There’s nothing like chocolate with a little salt.  If you decide to do this, make sure you grind it before the chocolate hardens.

Place the cups in the refrigerator for an hour.  Once completely hardened and cooled, you can remove the candy liners (or not).

This is an easy, quick way to make someone smile, while enjoying a little bit of heaven!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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Oh my…it was a splendid lunch

So, for the most part–about 85% of the time, I eat vegetarian or vegan.  I’m pretty committed to organic foods and sustainable living.  On occasion, I do have fish, and today was such an occasion.  Shall we talk about the splendid lunch I made?  It’s been a longer-than-long week… make that two weeks, and while roaming the isles at Trader Joe’s, inspiration hit me.  I  had bought a new candle (not at Trader Joe’s), and decided to make my famous Almond Crusted Tilapia with Fried Bananas and Coconut (yes, I’m still on a coconut kick).  To go along with my fish I made a Spinach Raspberry  Salad with Champagne Vinegar Dressing and a Boiled Artichoke with Lemon Dill Dip.

Are you drooling yet?

It really was a splendid lunch.  So, without further adieu, I would like to share my recipes with you!

Almond Crusted Tilapia with Fried Bananas and Coconut

INGREDIENTS:

3 med. size Tilapia filet
3/4 cup Almond Meal (Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Earth Balance or Butter
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
2 med-large size ripe bananas
1/4 cup silvered almonds
1/4 cup Coconut Flakes (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

LET’S GET COOKING!

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large non-stick skillet.  In a medium size mixing bowl, place the almond meal, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper and mix well.  Next, take the fish filets and rinse them with water.  Place them in the bowl of almond meal, carefully turning until coated.

Put the filets carefully in the heated skillet and pan fry until browned on both side. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated.  Place on a platter.

Take the butter, and melt the butter in the skillet.  Add the bananas, almonds and coconut.  Fast fry until they are browned.

Arrange the fish on a plate putting the banana-coconut mixture on the top. You may need to add salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach Raspberry Salad 

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 bag of baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 mandarin oranges peeled, separated and cut in half
1 tablespoon flaxseed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
Place everything in a salad bowl.

DRESSING:

Juice from 1 med orange
Zest from 1 orange
1/4 cup Beaufor Champagne Vinegar
3/4  cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon fresh ginger finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon course black pepper

Whisk the above ingredients, pour over salad and toss.

Dill Dipping Sauce

(This dipping sauce can be used for a wide variety of things, but I love it with steamed artichokes!  Try it you’ll like it!)

3.4 cup Vegenaise (Mayonnaise substitute)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Dash of cayenne pepper

Bon Appetit!

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Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

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