Smell and taste Harvest

Even though I live in Santa Barbara, fall is upon us.  For those of us who have experienced a “real” fall, you know how the air shifts — you can actually smell it in the air.  I can smell fall in the air today, and it excites me.  Fall time makes me want soups and stews.  Of course, I always love a good salad, but I enjoy warmer foods when the climate changes.

Today I made Organic Tomato-Fennel Soup, and it’s FABULOUS!  There’s nothing like fresh fennel and organic vine-ripened tomatoes. Couple it with a spinach salad, a slice of gluten-free sourdough bread, a glass of white wine, and you’ve got a great light meal.

So, here’s the recipe!

Organic Tomato – Fennel Soup (Vegan)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium or large fennel bulb (trimmed, cored and chopped…save the feathery leaves)

2 large garlic cloves

4 medium shallots, finely chopped

2 large parsley springs, finely chopped

2 small carrots, finely chopped

3 fresh vine-ripened organic tomatoes, diced

1 16 oz. can organic fire-roasted tomatoes, diced (Trader Joe’s)

3/4 cup organic vegetable broth (low sodium)

1 cup water

1 teaspoon Braggs seasoning salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed aniseed

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-size stock, place the oil and the fennel, carrots, shallots, garlic, and parsley and cook over medium-low heat (stirring occasionally) until vegetables are softened, but not brown.

Add the fresh tomatoes, the vegetable broth, the fire-roasted tomatoes, the water and the seasonings.   Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes.

Either transfer the mixture to a blender or use a high-power hand blender and puree.

Serve hot garnished with chopped fennel feather leaves.

*Note:  A sprinkle of fresh grated Romano cheese is also a nice touch for non-vegans.

Buon Appetito!

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Organic Tomato – Fennel Soup

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I really didn’t know what to do…

I’ve had a few long days and nights if you will.  Mostly work-related, but I’m simply exhausted.  I was up at 5:45 this morning and out the door at 6:00.  By the time I got home this evening, the last thing I wanted to do was cook. Truly, even cracking an egg seemed bothersome.  However, something happened to me as I stood in front of my refrigerator gazing inside–inspiration came!

I haven’t made this in a long time, but I decided to make my Broccoli Veggie Slaw with Pistachio Vinaigrette Dressing, Portobello Mushrooms in Wine Sauce over Brown Rice Pilaf and a large Steamed Artichoke with Aioli Dipping Sauce.

It was spectacular!

Broccoli Veggie Slaw with Pistachio Vinaigrette (V)

Ingredients:

8 ounces cherry tomatoes cut in half (I often use the multi-colored variety)
1 zucchini, sliced in thin strips (I use the Spirooli 3-in-one vegetable slicer)
1/4 cup roasted pistachios
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 bag Trader Joe’s Broccoli Slaw
Rainbow Black Pepper (to taste)
Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss with Pistachio Vinaigrette Dressing (below)

Pistachio Vinaigrette (V)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled, roughly chopped
1/4 shallot, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 sprig fresh rosemary, stem removed, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh basil, stem removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
Celtic Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Sauté shallot, rosemary, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, dash of sea salt and pepper into a skillet until just fragrant and onion is soft. Toss in pistachios and sauté for an additional minute. Toss ingredients into a food processor or good blender. Add remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil and honey. In a food processor, pulse until well combined. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Thin with water if desired.

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Portobello Mushrooms in Wine Sauce (V)

1 cup of cleaned sliced Portabella mushrooms (3-4)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 medium shallots sliced thin
½ cup of red wine
2-3 tablespoons of butter (or Earth Balance)
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

In a hot sauté pan add oil and mushrooms allow to cook 2 minutes before adding the shallots and garlic. Continue to cook until mushrooms are soft; add red wine. Reduce the wine by half and stir in butter and add thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

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Brown Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
3 tablespoons angel hair pasta pieces
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 cup long grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water, or vegetable broth
Celtic Sea Salt & Rainbow Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter (Earth Balance).  Add the onions and saute. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Heat the water or vegetable broth and add to rice, bringing it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until all the water has been absorbed by the rice, about 45 minutes. Please don’t lift the lid to give a peek or stir or the rice will not cook evenly.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper and serve.

NOW, take the Portobello Mushrooms and serve them over the Rice Pilaf, and voila!  It’s so darn good!

Steamed Artichoke with Aioli Dipping Sauce

Clean (cutting off pointed edges & stem) the artichoke and then steam in a pan of water with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of salt and 2 crushed cloves of garlic, until done. While steaming, make the Aioli Dipping Sauce.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (Veganiese)
3-4 sun-dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced

Blend in food processor or blender until creamy and serve with the Artichoke.

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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: Portobello Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

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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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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/

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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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Another Qunioa moment!

Whew!  I made it through the holiday’s in one piece, and we’ve nearly completed the first month of 2013!  Yay!  I hope the New Year has gotten off to a good start for everyone.

After basically 2 months of rich, calorie-laden foods, I thought I’d share a fabulous healthy recipe–in fact, it’s one my favorites!  If you happen to live in Southern California, accessing ripe avocado’s mid-January is not an issue… In fact, here in Santa Barbara, I have friends and family who have them falling off trees in their yards (no kidding).  We’re going to make “Lemon Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad, and I guarantee, this recipe will be a keeper!

LET’S GET STARTED!

Lemon Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad (Vegan)

Ingredients for the salad:
1/2 cup cooked, dry (cooled) organic quinoa
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1 can organic garbanzo beens (drained & rinsed)
1 cup ripe grape tomatoes cut in half
2 avocado’s diced
1 cups organic baby spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup red onion (diced or food processed)
2 large cloves garlic
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste

For the dressing:
Juice from 2 lemons
Lemon zest (1 lemon)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp.  cumin
Dash of fresh ground pepper & sea salt

Here We Go!

You want to cook the quinoa first, using the vegetable broth for liquid according to directions.  Once it’s fully cooked (don’t dry it out), then remove it from the heat, cover it and set it aside to cool.

In a food processor, add the spinach and cilantro and process the greens until they are finely diced.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can dice them by hand, but make sure they’re really “diced.”

Put the processed greens in a large bowl and set aside.  Take the red onion and the garlic cloves and put them in the food processor as well.  If not, then dice by hand.  Add this to the greens mixture.

Next rinse and drain the garbanzo beans.  Add them to the mixture and stir, making sure everything is mixed.  If the quinoa is cooled, then add it to the mixture.  Don’t add the tomatoes and avocado’s until the very end.

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the salad.  Mix this until fully saturated.  Add the tomatoes and avocados and carefully mix them in.

Set in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy, it’s so YUMMY!

Lemon Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad

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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‘Tis the Season…

to make cookies!

I love so many kinds of Christmas cookies, but one of my all-time favorites are “Russian Tea Cakes.”  As a kid, I remember my mom making these and I would try and pop them in my mouth when she wasn’t looking, only I always got busted because powdered sugar covered my mouth, hands and face!

…anyway…

They  are always such a nice addition to your dessert table, and add wonderful contrast against dark chocolate goodies, like candies, other cookies and cakes. If you like these little balls of powdered sugar, but you are a VEGAN, here’s a great recipe.

RUSSIAN TEA CAKES (makes about 3 dozen)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus about 1/2 cup more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely ground almonds or pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

LET’S GET BAKING!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, cream Earth Balance until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until fluffy and well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the almond milk and vanilla, beating until smooth.

3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, ground ground almonds or pecans and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until the mixture just comes together. Form the dough into 1-2″ balls. Place about 1/3 cup-1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the cookie dough balls in the powdered sugar until well coated, placing on the prepared sheet as you work. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool, then roll them again in confectioners’ sugar, and voila!

Serve in individual paper pastry cups at room temperature.

They’re just so darn good!   Bet you can’t eat just one!

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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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What? A moist VEGAN German Chocolate Cake?

Whether  you’re baking for the holidays, or any other time of the year, German Chocolate Cake is always a popular dessert.  Yesterday, I made a great German Chocolate Cake, and it was not just moist and yummy, but VEGAN!

INGREDIENTS:

THE CAKE 
3½ cups all- purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups almond milk
1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (Trader Joe’s has a great cocoa powder)
1 cup canola oil
3 cups real maple syrup
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

COCONUT-PECAN FROSTING
½ cup almond milk
¼ cup cornstarch
1 pinch sea salt
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1½ cups heavy coconut milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

VEGAN CHOCOLATE GANACHE (optional)
3/4 cup almond milk
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I recommend, Chocolove Dark Chocolate and Orange Peel or using Trader Joe’s brand chocolate chips)
1/4 cup real maple syrup

LET’S GET BAKING!

The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°f.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan to slightly bubbling, and then add the cocoa powder. Remove from the heat and whisk well. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk well. Pour in the almond milk–cocoa mixture, and whisk until smooth. Using a mixer or by hand, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter evenly into the two or three cake pans, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Set the cake aside to cool thoroughly.

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
Whisk the soy milk, cornstarch, and salt together in a small bowl.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the brown sugar in the coconut milk. Cook, whisking, until the mixture comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  With the mixture on the stove still over low heat, pour in the soy milk mixture and stir continuously until the mixture is very thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Cool before using.

Chocolate Ganache (This is optional.  Not included in my photo)
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, and stir continuously until the glaze is smooth. Remove from the heat, stir for another 2 minutes, and then cool to room temperature.

Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate or stand, and spread a layer of the coconut- pecan frosting over the top (but not the sides). If  you have made three cake layers, do the same with the second layer. Place the last layer on top of the first, and spread a thick layer of coconut-pecan frosting over the top.

If you choose to make the ganache, use an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with a thick layer of ganache. Then warm about ¼ cup of the ganache in a small saucepan, or in a micro wave oven, and drizzle it across the top of the cake (or use a pastry bag to pipe it).

*Note:  Whenever possible, I use only organic ingredients.

This is fabulous!  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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