Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Vegan Pie

What do you think of when you smell sweet potatoes roasting in the oven? How about when you see a carved pumpkin sitting on the outside steps of your neighbors' home? I think of Fall- of course, and these orange vegetables mimic the turning of the leaves with its vibrant hues bouncing off the sun.

Thanksgiving for Vegetarians can be challenging, since it's traditionally around a turkey, however thinking about this holiday for the real essence of what it was supposed to be is about being truly conscious of your surroundings and thankful for all that you have. In that light, you are more likely to take slow, healthier steps to consecrate this holiday in a more pleasurable way.

Thanksgiving is one of the rare holidays that my entire extended family have an opportunity to get together one time during the year. All my cousins, aunts and uncles can get together to celebrate just being together. Since we are roughly 60 people gathered in my aunt and uncles' house, each one of us has to bring a potluck dish. This pie is my contribution and my thanksgiving to my family for our cohesiveness and a gift on how to eat tastefully and humanely.

The flavors of this orange fleshed pie are full, warm and inviting- everything you would want from a holiday pie. In fact the texture is rich and creamy, reminiscent of cheesecake with a naturally sweetened oat crust. No one ever guesses, unless I tell them that it's vegan and that it's made from sweet potatoes. Thanks to Stella from the Witchy Kitchen for sharing this recipe and giving the gift of this pie to my entire family.

Serve 8


2 (1 ½ cups) Sweet Potatoes
3/4-Cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Tapioca flour
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
¾ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4-Cup Plain Vegan Yogurt

Oat Crust
1 1/4 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2-Cup Pecans
6 Dates, pitted
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Almond Butter (any nut butter can work)
3 tablespoons Cold Water

                        1      Preheat oven to 400° F.
                        2      Wash sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until done.
                       3      Remove from the oven and lower heat to 350° F. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool.
                       4      Place pecans in a food processor and break down to a very course meal. Add oats and pulse a few times till they become part of the course meal. Then add the dates, oil, and almond butter. Pulse till combined (the mix will be dry). Add water and pulse once or twice.
                       5      Pour mixture into a pie pan and press it until it goes up the sides of the pan (start from the middle and move out). Place in the fridge till crust is ready for pie batter.
                       6      In a small mixing bowl, combine sugar, tapioca flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
                       7      Place the sweet potato in another mixing bowl and mash it down with a fork until it is smooth. Add the sugar mixture and combine well. Then add the almond milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Blend till completely smooth.
       8      Pour into crust and place on the middle rack oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until filling hardens. Allow cooling on a baking rack for at least 3 hours.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spiced Pear and Almond Sesame Parfait

Last week was the final week of the fruit share for the season from my CSA. Bless them... for a good portion of the fruit share I received apples and pears. So much so - that I just could not eat them fast enough. I decided that the best use for the pears was a spiced pear parfait.

 I spiced up the pears with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom- scented them with vanilla and added some golden raisins to it. The combination of golden raisins and cardamom are classic combinations along the Silk Road- adding just a bit of bite to the sweet moist plump raisins.
Then I made some tofu cream- for all those out there that are vegan or avoiding dairy all together. I spiced up Silken Tofu with vanilla and blanched almonds. To top off this creamy Sunday, I made a sweet and salty almond crunch. 

A beautiful presentation in a glass with layers of golden pears and lightly colored cream laced with cinnamon. Whip some up in the fall when pears are at their peak. Thanks to Amy from the FragrantVanilla Cake for sharing this recipe and inspiring me to recreate desserts into healthier wholesome delights.

Serves 4


Pear Filling
4 Forelle Pears, peeled, cored and cubed
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup golden raisins
2-teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2-teaspoon cardamom
1/4-teaspoon nutmeg
2-teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt

1 package silken tofu
1/4-cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4-cup raw white sesame seeds
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp sea salt

Nut topping (optional)
½ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2-tablespoon maple sugar
1/8-teaspoon sea salt

                      1      Place pears in a skillet over medium heat and combine with sugar, raisins, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Stir occasionally so that the pears don’t stick to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until pears have softened. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, and salt. Let mixture cool completely then place in the refrigerator until cold.

                       2      To make cream: In a food processor, combine tofu, maple syrup, almonds, sesame seeds, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt and process until very smooth. Place in the fridge to chill until very cold before assembling parfaits.

                         3      To make nut topping:  preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray. Toss almonds, sesame seeds, maple syrup and salt until well combined. Spread out on prepared sheet, and bake for 7 minutes until seeds are fragrant and toasted. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely.

                       4       To assemble:  line up 4 (8 ounce glasses). Place a third of the cream in the bottom of each, dividing evenly between the three.  Top with half the pear mixture, dividing evenly between the three, then half the remaining cream, then the rest of the pears, then the last of the cream.  Top with the almond sesame mixture. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apple Crumble

If you get a chance to do your own apple picking- do it! Driving right to the orchard, where you can set up a family picnic is an idyllic way to spend the day. Wander through the orchard with a basket in tow and breath the crisp fall air.

Apple picking is one of those familiar autumn traditions and with its bounty calls for an old-fashioned apple crumble. Easy to make and a perfect dessert to beckon the Fall season with warm baked apples.  An oat crust, that cracks audibly when you press it with your fork, sandwiches a moist apple filling in a cinnamon spiced syrupy juice.  Can be served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6


2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup vegan butter or 1 ½ sticks vegan butter
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (fugi or cameo)
1/2 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup crushed walnuts

1 Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch pie pan.

2 In a bowl, combine rolled oats,  and ½ cup butter. Knead the crumble until all ingredients are mixed well.

3 Combine sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

4 Firmly pat three quarters of the dough into the pan. With finger, spread the dough out into a thin layer. The balance of the dough will be used for the crumble topping.

5 Pour apples on top of the oat crust and then the water. Cut remaining butter into pats and place over the apples. This helps to emulsify the apples when cooking. Add remaining crumble on top of the apples, firmly patting into place. It will not completely cover the apples, but that is fine. Sprinkle walnuts over the crumble and in between the gaps.

6 Bake covered for 50 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

7 Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

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