It’s about that time…

Spring is in the air, and summer is around the corner!  That means, it’s time to get the grill out!  I absolutely love grilled veggies.  If you’re looking for a great summer pasta, that is loaded with grilled vegetables, try this:  Gemelli & Grilled Vegetables with Pesto Sauce.

Gemelli is a single “s” shaped twisted pasta, derived from the Italian word for twins. It’s not difficult to find.  Barilla makes a nice Gemelli pasta.

A1_PB_ID121_2

 

So, let’s get cooking, shall we?

Gemelli & Grilled Vegetables with Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

2 large red and yellow bell peppers

12 stalks asparagus

1 med red onion, sliced

3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

6 ounces (2/14 cups) gemelli or rotini pasta

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh, grated Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

Here we go!

Get the grill fired up!  Cut the bell peppers in half; remove the seeds.  Place asparagus and onion on a large plate, and coat with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Grill the peppers, skin side dow on a covered grill, over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the skins are blackened.  Place peppers in a plastic baggie or paper bag, and let stand for 15 minutes.  The skin should be soft enough to peel off.  Cut peppers into chunks and set aside.

Next, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and return to the pan.  While the pasta is cooking, grill the asparagus and onion on  the covered grill over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until tender, turning as needed.  Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces and cut the onion into small pieces.  Add the vegetables to the pasta.

Place the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor.  Process until coarsely chopped.  Add basil and process until finely chopped.  While the processor is running add remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until the mixture is fully blended.  Stir in cheese, salt and pepper.  Add the basil mixture and tomatoes to the pasta and toss until the pasta is fully coated.  Serve immediately!

Buon Appetito!

941163_10151648808284458_940532735_n

 

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: Portobello Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

TASTE…and See

Advertisements

I’m just crazy about…

Arugula! No kidding.  I think I could eat it every day.  Even though it has a very strong flavor…I simply love it!  When I got home from work this evening, I decided to enjoy a fine wine, a variety of foreign cheeses, a Trader Joe’s “Margarita Pizza,” and salad of shaved fennel, sliced oranges and candied pecans.  It was fabulous, if I do say so myself.  But hey, don’t just take my word for it–try it, and see for yourself!

Shaved Fennel, Arugula Salad with Sliced Oranges, Candied Pecans and a Vinaigrette Dressing

INGREDIENTS:

Salad

3 tablsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tablsp. white wine vinegar

1 medium fennel bulb, rinsed, cleaned and thinly sliced

2 valencia oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups organic baby arugula leaves

pinch celtic salt

course black pepper (optional)

Candied Pecans

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 tablsp. organic maple syrup

1/2 tsp. raw cane sugar

1/2 tsp. celtic salt

dash cayenne pepper

Here We Go!

I would suggest making the candied pecans first, especially because they need to be cooled before throwing into the salad.

To make the candied pecans, preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the pecans in a small mixing bowl with the maple syrup.  Add sugar, salt and cayenne, mix to coat.  Spread the nuts on a small baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.  Really watch them, because some ovens cook hotter than others, and they can quickly burn.  Cool before placing them in the salad.  Break apart and toss in the salad.

For the salad, whisk together the oil and vinegar in a salad bowl.  Place the thinly sliced fennel, red onions, orange slices and arugula into the bowl with the oil and vinegar and toss throughly.  Add salt and pepper.  Make sure the salad is completely coated with the oil and vinegar.  Add the cooled pecans and serve!

This is a fabulous salad that is especially great with cheese and crackers, wine and goat cheese pizza, even though we settled for Trader Joe’s “Margarita Pizza” tonight.  Sometimes you just have to compromise a little, ya know?  😉

Enjoy!

531909_10151639337594458_614373532_n

 

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: 

TASTE…and See

 

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!

44a0db04996311e2ab4c22000a1faffd_6

Vegan Apple Pie

photo

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: 

TASTE…and See

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

392808_10151595632244458_39308902_n

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!!!

553217_10151595692329458_705281679_n

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: 

TASTE…and See

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!

url

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: 

TASTE…and See

Crazy for coconuts!

If I could sip coconut water all day, and eat coconut meat, I would.  Coconut is something I really love, and it’s so healthy for you!  For example, organic raw coconut water has the same nutrient balance as plasma–filled with electrolytes, potassium, magnesium and calcium. It’s a great drink for rehydrating your body, and excellent to drink when exercising.

Coconut oil is also a healthy alternative when used in cooking.  Some of the benefits include: hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, building the immune system, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone strength and cancer.

I just found this great article about coconut flour, and wanted to pass it on to you.

http://coconutoil.com/how-to-use-coconut-flour/

Image

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: 

TASTE…and See

French Apple Tart–The Vegan Way

With the arrival of fall, and Thanksgiving around the corner, apples are a big dessert item!  I can’t remember a fall where I didn’t have something with apples in it for dessert.  Whether an apple pie, an apple tart, or good old fashioned apple crisp, apples are an all-American favorite!

One of the reasons I specifically enjoy a good apple tart, is because it doesn’t have to be overly sweet, and you can still enjoy the amazing flavor of seasonal apples.  When it comes to tarts, the French make some of the best.  However, for those of you who avoid using animal products, here is a vegan modification of a classic French Apple Tart recipe!  By the way, I don’t always stick to just apples.  Sometimes, for a little variation on a theme, I throw in dried cranberries and pecans, or pears and apples, or raisins and chopped walnuts.  You can just get creative with this, which is always a lot of fun!

So…

LET’S GET STARTED!

PASTRY INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup fine-grated sugar
1/2 cup butter substitute (Earth Balance)
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp cold water
2-3 tbsp chilled coconut milk
1/4 cup finely chopped (I use a bullet) pecans

MAKING THE PASTRY SHELL:

  • Mix together flour and sugar.  Cut in Earth Balance until mixture has large pea-size crumbs.
  • Sprinkle flax over the water and 2 tbsp of the coconut milk, then whisk until goopy.  Add to flour mixture along with the finely chopped pecans and mix with a fork until it comes together into a soft dough.  If too dry, add more coconut milk as needed.
  • Press dough into a metal bowl, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour.  You can even leave this in overnight.
  • When pastry is cooled, roll out into a 12-13 inch circle on a floured surface.  Carefully place dough into a 9.5 inch tart pan, letting the excess hand over the sides. Trim overhanging dough to 1/2 inch.  Fold overhang into the pan and press dough into the pan to make a smooth and uniform shell.
  • Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • When oven is a heat, line shell with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust has dried out.  After 15 mins, pull back some of the foil and check if it is wet/oily.  If it is, replace the foil and check again in two mins.
  • Once dry, remove foil/beans, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until very lightly golden (you only want to partially bake the crust).  Let cool on a wire rack.

TART INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs cooking apples (about 5), peeled, cored, and cut into uniform 1/2 inch CHUNKY pieces
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
2 cooking apples, cored, and thinly sliced  (you can peel these, but I frequently leave the skin on this group of apples)
1 tbsp margarine, melted
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. brandy (optional)
1/3 cup apricot jam

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together apple pieces, sugar, lemon juice and melted margarine in a large bowl and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until soft and mash-able.  Mash until chunky and set aside to cool.
  • Once cooled, spread into the cooled tart crust.
  • Uniformly layer the sliced apples over the apple sauce mixture.
  • NOTE: The apples will shrink when cooked, so don’t space them too far apart. You can even overlap them slightly.  Brush lightly with Earth Balance, then sprinkle sugar over the top. For a stronger cinnamon taste, you can sprinkle this along with the sugar on top.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes, unit apples are soft.  Let cool on a wire rack for 30 mins.
  • Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve, then brush gently over the apples.  Serve at room temp, or heat it up and serve it a la mode with your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream!

IT’S SO YUMMY–YOU’LL NEVER MISS THE EGGS OR THE BUTTER…TRUST ME! 

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: 

TASTE…and See