Friday, August 26, 2011

Coconut Flour Chronicles: Episode One, Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Coconut flour is something of a magical ingredient for me right now.  I am trying to find zuzus to bake and snack on that are mostly guilt-free....meaning carbohydrate free. Coconut flour is high in fiber, low in digestible carbs and a source of protein.  It also is somewhat naturally sweet, so added sweetening tends to be low to make a nice treat.

Many of the recipes I have been trying use a lot of eggs; that adds substantial protein to the product.  These cupcakes, because of the low carb and high protein factor are satisfying for quite a while.  They do have a good fat content, but I find that one cupcake is enough.

The finished product is not-too-sweet, light and souffle-like and very moist.  They have been a hit where ever they have gone.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a muffin tin pan or line with paper baking cups.

½ cup coconut flour, sifted
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
6 large eggs (using fresh local free-range gives the cupcakes a lovely golden color)
½ cup canola or other lightly flavored oil
½ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda; whisk until mixed.
In another bowl, blend together eggs,  oil, agave and vanilla.
Mix wet ingredients into dry and blend with a mixer or hand blender until smooth.  The mixture will be loose at first and hard to mix with a whisk, but if you walk away for a couple of minutes, the coconut flour absorbs the moisture and it will whisk up like crepe batter.
Pour batter into prepared muffin pans.
Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes
Cool completely.
Top with chocolate frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

I used a combo frosting because I had some Vegan Cream Cheese I wanted to use up.  It has more sugar than I would like, and I will try the Vegan Chocolate frosting which follows it next time.

Melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp. oil.  Beat in a food processor, 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese and 1/2 cup vegan butter.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the melted chocolate; blend until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar, processing until smooth.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and oil
Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to chill and thicken
Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
Frost the cupcakes with a couple of tablespoons of either frosting.  The grandson immediately figured out which cupcake had the most frosting.  Quality control...the next generation.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cheesy Kale Chips

These became my favorite snack when I recently bought a package from a friend.  I hoarded them in a little bag for a week before I finally finished them.  They were an antidote to between meal hunger pangs, and I wanted more.  I have lots of kale in my garden, and I can beg some from my son's in a pinch, so I decided to see if I could make them.

I found a fairly simple recipe; I even had all the ingredients on hand.  I do have a dehydrator, but I thought maybe I could make them in the oven instead, as the dehydrator takes up a lot of room.  I didn't want a spicy mixture on the leaves, but cayenne or other spicy spices can be added at will.

The Cheesy Kale Chips

4 cups Purple, Lacinato, or Red Russian kale, torn into bite-size pieces (stems removed) washed and spun dry.
1 cup cashews (soaked 1 hour)
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt salt

Blend all ingredients, except for the kale, in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth. In a separate bowl toss the kale in the "cheese" sauce and mix well to incorporate and coat all the leaves. Spread the kale evenly on a teflex sheet and dehydrate on 115 degrees for 16-20 hours, or until dry and crunchy. If using the oven method, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. and bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 1 to 1/2 hours or until dry and crunchy. Fluff them up about half way through to make sure they get evenly dehydrated.

Easy easy easy.  Snack, crunch and enjoy.  These are really expensive in the shops and markets.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fusion Chimichanga Samosas with Coriander Chutney

Fusion  Samosa Chimichangas

Samosas are a traditional Indian pastry snack made with potatoes and fresh vegetables cooked with spices, wrapped in a flour dough and fried or baked.  I have made my own dough and used phyllo dough also.  Now I am jumping continents and wrapping them in an whole wheat flour tortilla.  Leftovers are good as taco filling the next day; just toast a tortilla over the gas flame, fill, fold and eat.

Samosas are traditionally served with some kind of spicy sauce: fresh chutney, preserved chutney, flavorful raita, or other pungent dip.  I like mine with a fresh coriander chutney; few ingredients and it's very easy to make.

This recipe is adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse; it also looks similar to the recipe in Veganomicon, my new favorite cookbook.  When I first made these with whole wheat flour tortillas, I softened them, filled them, and put them in the oven.  They came out a little tough that way, although they were ultimately delicious.  

Substitute any vegetables you have on hand or in the garden.  I used fresh green beans sliced into 1/2" lengths, and I may use zucchini next time since they are abundant now.

2 Tbsp. oil or ghee
1 tsp. mustard seeds, yellow or brown
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 hot green chile peppers, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 large baking potatoes, like russets, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice, and boiled until just tender
1 small carrot, quartered and sliced 1/4"
1/2 cup par-cooked and drained green peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Heat oil or ghee; add mustard seeds and cook till they pop. Saute onions until translucent, add garlic and ginger; saute a few minutes.  Add spices and cook, stirring 3 minutes.  Add vegetables and 1/2 cup water.  Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat, check for seasoning, and cool.

Soften tortillas and roll up with 4 tbsp. filling, lengthtwise, burrito style. Place in lightly greased baking dish, brush the tops of the chimichangas with oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with fresh Coriander chutney


1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander
5 cloves garlic
1" piece of ginger
2 green chillies
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps lime juice

Cut off roots from the coriander and any thick stalks from the mint and discard. You should now have enough coriander and mint to loosely fill 1 1/2 to 2 cups with each of them.
Peel garlic and ginger and remove stalks from green chillies. Wash all these ingredients thoroughly.
Grind all the ingredients (including the salt which you can add more of later to suit your taste) into a smooth paste in a food processor.
Chill and serve.

Variations: All coriander or a Mint Mango with a little yogurt

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vegan Cheezy Summer Vegetable Gratin

I made this impromptu casserole tonight with an assortment of fresh veggies from the farm and from the market.
The Cashew cheese gives it a nice richness without dairy, and the Panko crust has a wonderful crunch.  Of course, any combination of vegetables you have or like can be used here.  You need to make sure that once they get into the pan, they will cook to doneness in the same amount of time.

Preheat oven to 350:
For the Casserole:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium sliced Zucchini
10 Cherry Tomatoes, halves
10 Brussel Sprouts, halved and steamed until crisp tender
5 small potatoes, halved and steamed until tender
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup homemade Cashew Cheese

For the Topping:
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup fresh Basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Oil a 7 1/2" x 11" glass  baking pan with the 2 Tbsp. oil.  Spread the sliced zucchini and tomatoes across the bottom.  Layer on the brussel sprouts and potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper. Spread the Cashew cheese by the spoonful over the top and spread thinly.

Mix topping ingredients together.  You can do this in a processor or by hand.  Spread evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden and zucchini cooked through.

Cashew Cheese--a Satisfying Non-Dairy Alternative

I just started making this stuff a week ago, and now I am totally hooked.  I am avoiding dairy for health reasons, so I did some research and started using this homemade Cashew cheese sauce.  We eat a lot of tostadas in the summer because we have lots of veggies from the garden, and I can mix and match.  I used the cheese sauce and served grated cheddar on my husband's meal, and this stuff is sooo good I did not feel in the least bit jealous or deprived.

This sauce is very easy to execute; it only takes a few seconds after the cashews are toasted.  The last time I bought already roasted cashews (non-salted) from Harvest Market, and it was even easier and quicker.  It's hard for me to heat the oven for such a small thing; I think it's wasteful.

This cheese sauce is adaptable for many uses--a little more lemon and a sprinkle of cayenne and it's Hollandaise Sauce for a Benedict or Rancheros.  Add some diced, roasted and peeled green chilies, and it's a Chile non Queso dip or sauce for Nachos.  A little tomato paste or sun-dried tomato and a bit of spice will make it a sauce for Welsh Rarebit, a nice easy dinner served on whole wheat toast. You can also thicken it with potato or cornstarch for Macaroni and Cheese or a garden vegetable gratin.


·         ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
·         1 teaspoon onion powder
·         1 cup water
·         1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
·         1 cup raw cashews (or toasted cashews from health food store)
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1/2 cup canola oil
·         1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
·         1/3 cup lemon juice

If toasting your raw cashews, reheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread raw cashews on baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye and nose on them, as they can burn quickly. Remove and cool completely.

In afood processor add nutritional yeast, onion powder, water , garlic powder and salt. Blend until the cashews are liquefied. Keep the food processor running and slowing add the oils through the feeding tube. When oils have been added and mixture begins to thicken, add the lemon juice until well blended.

Store Cashew Cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I have stored it for as long as a week.