Category Archives: Recipes

Cooking great food

Fresh Plum Upside Down Cake

No fat Vegan Fresh Plum Upside Down Cake

When I bought my house, I inherited portions of a 50 year-old orchard that once covered the vast hillside where our urban neighborhood now sits.  Pears, apples, grapes. plums, and of course, blackberries grace my kitchen every summer.  This year our plum crop is BIG. What to do? Well, my sis tells me to freeze ’em and worry about what to do later!  So after washing, pitting and halving and freezing a large bucket full, I’ve begun the creative part of the project.

First, I’m dehydrating some in my new Bosch oven.  The special dehydrate setting provides steady 140 degree heat with true convection for 24 hours.  I simply put the halved plums on a small barbecue rack, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and popped them in.  It took only about 8 hours to finish them, and I’m having fun finding different uses for them. which I’ll share later.

Next, I’ve got a sumptuous autumn cake that really makes plums shine! It is, of course, no fat and no animal, as are all my recipes.  I really think it is the kind of cake you could serve to any kind of eater and they would be most appreciative.  You’ll need a 9 ” non-stick cake pan, and a healthy appetite.  I served mine with a light cinnamon cream and it got the gone-in-minutes award of the week in my house.

No fat Vegan Plum Upside Down Cake

1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
7 to 8 medium plums, washed, pitted, halved

1 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1 TBSP. flax meal (ground flax-seed)
1 – 4 oz. container Motts peach apple medley (or 4 oz. applesauce)
1/2 C vanilla soy milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
zest of 1 lemon
3 TBSP vanilla soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together well and spread into the bottom of your cake pan.  Place your plums on top of the sugar, skin side down, forming a nice pattern. Depending on the size of your plums, you may need more or fewer halves to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes or until the sugar melts.  Remove pan from oven and prepare batter.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and stir just until well mixed.  Pour the batter gently over the plums and return the pan to the oven.  Bake 30-40 minutes until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes. Invert cake onto a large platter.  Spoon any extra syrup over the top of the cake and enjoy it warm with cinnamon cream (below).

Cinnamon Cream:

1/2 of a 1 lb. package of silken tofu (8 oz.)
1/4 C maple syrup
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Process for 1 – 2 minutes in food processor and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse with Cinnamon Cream

No-fat Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Cinnamon Cream

One of my favorite quick and super satisfying sweet fixes is mousse. Using silken or firm tofu as a base, you can build a wonderful dessert in a couple of minutes.  Today, I’ve found a way to dramatically improve my favorite flavor – Chocolate.  Using Wax Orchards spectacular fudge sauce improves both the flavor and the texture, and served with silken cinnamon cream, it is beyond luscious, and a little goes a long way!

Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Cinnamon Cream

Chocolate Mousse:

1/2 of a 1 lb. package of firm tofu (8 oz.)
3 large TBSP Wax Orchard Fudge Sauce
1 pinch salt
1 TBSP agave or grade A maple syrup

Process for 1 – 2 minutes in food processor and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Cinnamon Cream:

1/2 of a 1 lb. package of silken tofu (8 oz.)
1/4 C maple syrup
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Process for 1 – 2 minutes in food processor and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

To serve, place 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of chocolate mousse in a nice serving glass.  Drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon cream over the top and garnish with mint or fresh berries.

Individual No-Fat Barbecued Pizza

I’ve spent a lot of time lately cooking outside on the grill while I wait for my new oven to arrive.  Fortunately, I benefit from my college-age son’s vast experience at this.  He has taught me that if you are really doing it right, barbecue  can be the centerpiece activity for your family or your guests  Don’t just cook outside, party outside! Take your time. Don’t try to do 5 other things. You wait until the coals are really ready. You gather your people in comfortable chairs by the grill so they can enjoy the smells and watch the lusciousness emerge. Everybody loves to help, even if it is just to offer advice!

To really pull people into the scene, I love to do individual pizzas, where everyone assembles their own from an assortment of ingredients. For an easy crust, I use Basson Pita Bread.  It stands up to the coals well without charring, and crisps up perfectly after 20 minutes on a low grill.  You can use any sauce you like, but I like a raw sauce where the flavors are bright and stand up to the smokey grilled flavor of the crust. I also enjoy using a good no-oil barbecue sauce.  Spoon your finished sauce onto the pitas, lay out your array of ingredients and let your eaters make their masterpieces.  Grill for about 20 minutes on low heat, covered, checking often to be sure your coals are not too hot for the bread. Use the indirect method of grilling if possible, discussed here at BBQ University. With this pita bread and the correct low heat, you will not need to oil the grill, making this an Esselstyn diet success.

Quick no-cook tomato sauce:

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBSP agave or maple syrup
1 tsp salt
dash ground chipotle or black pepper to taste

Process all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth.

Set out your pizza toppings. For the most part, be sure you have pre-cooked the toppings, since they will not be on the grill long enough to cook. I’ve found a couple successful exceptions: finely chopped garlic, thinly slice red onion, and of course, fresh sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes.  Some of my favorite combinations are here:

BBQ sauce with Smoked Tomato Field Roast, pan-grilled onions, broth-sautéed sliced sweet potato/yam, sunflower seeds and fresh chopped basil

Tomato sauce with fresh sliced tomato, broth-sautéed sliced fennel root, chopped garlic, steamed snow peas, fresh chopped parsley and toasted walnuts

Sun-dried tomato (water packed or re-hydrated dried), chopped artichoke hearts and toasted walnuts w/fresh chopped herbs (basil, mint, parsley)

Tomato sauce with sautéed wild mushrooms and fresh herbs

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

Good news: my long-suffering oven has finally gone to meet it’s maker. Bad news: it is Sunday night and although I have a luscious long list of recipes to test bake, my oven is kaput.  I’m going to Plan B, which is to use the Ras el Hanout spice I was gifted recently to build an exotic batch of stove-top Moroccan couscous. The spice is widely available in the U.S., but it differs greatly in composition from brand to brand.  Mine has warm, fruity scent, almost like the spiced winter holiday pudding I love so much. Wherever you find yours, be sure to sniff to make sure it tempts you, and acquire only small amounts, freshly ground.

This recipe is savory, with sweet dried fruit, but pulls its bright flavor from fresh lemon juice and orange zest. It is finished with crisp toasted walnuts, scallions and chopped cilantro, for a fresh-out-of-the garden texture.  Oh my!

No-fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous 

2 C dried dates and apricots, chopped
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 C dry couscous
2 C water or vegetable broth
1 TBSP Ras el Hanout spice
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped green onion
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
1/2 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange

Instructions

1. Put chopped fruits in a small bowl and marinate in lemon juice for 1 or 2 hours.

2. In a saucepan, bring the couscous, water or vegetable broth, Ras el Hanout spice, garbanzo beans and chopped onion up to a boil.  Cover and simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed, or 20 to 30 minutes. Remove lid and cool for 10 minutes.

3. Mix together the fruit with its marinade, couscous, & green onion.

4. Place the Ras el Hanout couscous in a favorite serving bowl and finish by squeezing the juice of 1/2 orange over all. Garnish with walnuts, cilantro and orange zest.

Individual Almond Tart Crust

Individual Honey Almond Tart Crust

I’ve been looking for a way to make fat free crusts for tarts and pies. One idea is to make a cookie that can be molded into individual tart crusts while it is still hot. I’ve adapted this vegan fortune cookie recipe from Vegan Treats & Eats blog. This recipe works perfectly well without any oil, so give it a try and fill it with some luscious mousse for a sweet and healthy end to your next dinner party.

Individual  Almond Tart Crust

3 tsp. EnerG Egg Replacer + 1/4 C warm water, whisked together
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
8 tsp. water
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C granulated sugar

Instructions

1. Cut out 12 5-inch squares of baking parchment paper.  You will be able to do 24 crusts, since you will use each paper twice by flipping it over to the unused side for a second crust. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg replacer, extracts, and water together well. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients until well mixed and then combine with the wet ingredients, stirring until you have a smooth, runny batter.

3. Set a parchment square on a large cookie sheet. Pour 2 to 3 TBSP of batter onto the square, making sure that the cookie is not larger than the paper.  You are aiming for about a 4-inch diameter cookie. Repeat until your cookie sheet is has six cookies.

4. Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns a bit brown, or 11 to 12 minutes.

5. Remove one cookie at a time from the oven and working very quickly, peel the paper from each cookie and mold the cookie into a cup over an inverted 2″ diameter form (the bottom of a jelly jar, or a metal measuring cup).

6. Hold the cookie around the form for 30 seconds or until it begins to harden in shape.

7. Repeat the process, doing 6 tart shells at a time.  Hold at room temperature on a cookie sheet until just before serving, then fill with any delicious vegan no-fat mousse. The unfilled shells will begin to soften after 8 hours, so just pop them back in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes to re-crisp!

These tart shells are delicious, but so are these variations:

Chocolate tart shell:
Add 4 to 6 TBSP unsweetened cocoa to the batter (good with chocolate flavored mousse

Faux “Coconut” tart shell:
Add 1/2 tsp. coconut extract to batter, and sprinkle 1 tsp. whole oats in the center of each cookie before baking (good with chocolate mousse or honey-vanilla mousse with fresh berries).

No-fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

No-Fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

I have been playing with flavor variations on a basic vanilla vegan mousse. This one brings the bright sweetness of oranges together with vanilla, and reminds me of those creamsicle ice cream cups we used to buy from the neighborhood ice cream man in summers past.  It is wonderful served in a parfait topped with fresh raspberries or strawberries, or you can make the almond cookie tartlet pictured above.

There are a number of recipes on the internet for tofu-based mousse.  This one differs only in that I use both firm and silken tofu to give the mousse good body, which helps it stand up well to whatever flavors you choose to stir in.

No-fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

Stir together and chill until serving:

1 Recipe Basic vanilla Vegan Mousse
1 C no-sugar orange marmalade

Basic vanilla Vegan Mousse

1 container firm tofu, drained
1/2 container silken tofu, drained
a pinch of salt
1 to 2 TBSP. vanilla, to your taste
1/4 to 1/2 C maple syrup, agave, or honey, to your taste

Instructions

1. Process all ingredients in food processor for about 1 minute, or until very smooth.  Taste and adjust flavor until you like!

You may add any number of extracts and flavors at this point. Try 2-4 TBSP Hershey’s Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa, or some Amaretto!  Use your imagination and enjoy! This makes about 3 cups.

No-sugar Orange Marmalade

No-Sugar Orange Marmalade

I’ve used marmalade as the foundation for several recipes lately, and to save money, I decided to make my own. This recipe is a no-cook version, and it is delicious and simple to make.

No-sugar Orange Marmalade

2 large seedless oranges
4 TBSP. frozen grape or apple juice concentrate
1/4 C. agave or honey (optional)
2 TBSP.  fruit pectin for no-cook freezer jam (I used Ball brand)

Instructions

1. In a stewpot, cover your whole oranges with water and simmer (no lid) for 2 hours on very low heat, adding water as necessary to keep them covered.  Drain and cool.

2. Cut off the ends of each orange to remove the stem area. Place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse process until you have the texture of peel that you like.

3. Spoon into clean containers (the new screw on plastic containers work fine) & leave 1/2 inch headroom. Store in the frig for 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year.