Friday, June 28, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Honey Ice "Cream"--Dairy Free!

Chocolate Coconut Ice "Cream"
This is another great recipe from our favorite vegan, Emily.  (Thanks, Emily!)  It's delicious, creamy and couldn't be simpler, made as it is with just coconut milk, cocoa and honey.

Instead of honey, Emily uses agave syrup--a nice alternative for those vegans who eschew honey.  There is, in fact, a great debate about whether honey can be included in a vegan diet. For more on that debate, check out this Slate article as well as this page on the Vegetus website. For the record, the Vegetus site argues that beekeepers exploit honeybees, a point we obviously dispute.  We can appreciate someone making a decision not to consume any animal or animal-created foods (like honey or milk) on principle, and Vegetus author offers a thoughtful and thorough discussion. Yet most of the foods that vegans enjoy are available because of the industrious (and indeed at times exploited) honeybee. As backyard beekeepers, we prefer to think that instead of exploiting them, we're helping them to thrive.

Whew! After that lengthy detour, it's time to enjoy some delicious ice "cream," don't you think?

Chocolate Coconut Honey Ice "Cream"
As Emily notes, the recipe comes from the Detoxinista website, with helpful directions for how to make it if you don't have an ice cream maker.  I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to give the flavor a little bump.

Just poured into the ice cream maker
1 14-oz can coconut milk
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons cocoa (I used Hershey's dark cocoa)
1/4 cup honey (or agave or maple syrup if you insist!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whirl all of the ingredients in a blender and pour into an ice cream maker.  If you've made other more traditional ice creams before, this will look a bit more runny than most ice cream bases.  Have faith! Process in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes until it is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.  You can spoon it out into bowls right then and enjoy. Or, if you want the ice cream to be a bit firmer, place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for a few hours. This is best eaten within a day or two (I could barely stop myself from eating the whole thing in one sitting!.)

What it looks like when it's done

Ready to eat!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Recipes for July 4th! Honeyed Three Bean Salad & Honey Cheese Cake Squares

Honeyed Three Bean Salad

I'm trying to make up for my two-month hiatus as a blogger by posting a few recipes at a time. The first is a take on the classic three bean salad, with a few twists--including using edamame (soy beans) as one of the three beans.  Like its classic cousin, this salad a bit on the sweet side--but it's delicious and refreshing and sure to please at a July 4th cook out.  The poppy seeds make it special.  You could skip the edamame for classic green beans instead.  If you do, don't make the salad too far in advance as the vinegar in the dressing will turn the green beans a dull grey.  The inspiration for this salad came from a recipe in a May/June 2007  issue  of Vegetarian Times.

The second recipe, for Honey Cheese Cake Squares, is one that I pulled from an April 2003 issue of the now defunct Gourmet Magazine.  Recipes from Gourmet are all now available on Epicurious. The honey cheese cake squares were a hit for dessert this weekend when my cousin, his new wife and son were visiting from North Carolina (they're adorable newly weds!). The honey in this recipe really shines through--and a lighter honey I think works best.

Need more recipe ideas for your July 4th cookout or family get together?  Check out a past post for Memorial Day Picnic Recipes (including honey baked beans and grilled skirt steak).

Three Bean Salad
1 10-oz package frozen shelled edamame beans (2 cups) 
1 15-oz can dark kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz can navy beans, drained
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced (about 1/4 inch)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Cook edamame according to package direction and then immediately put in ice water to cool and stop cooking.  Drain and put in a large bowl along with drained kidney and navy beans.  Add red onion and celery to bowl and toss. In a jar (or food processor), combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, oil and poppy seeds and shake (or process) until well combined.  Pour over beans and toss to evenly distribute.  Taste and season with salt & pepper.  Let the flavors meld for a few hours and up to one day.  Serve cold.  Makes about 8 servings

Makes about 24 1 1/2 inch squares

For the crust:
6 whole graham crackers, crumbled
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup light (spring or summer) honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Pulse the graham crackers, sugar and butter in a food processor.  Press mixture evenly over the bottom of a 8x8 square baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and let cool for about five minutes.

For the filling, blend the cream cheese, egg, milk, zest, lemon juice and honey in the cleaned food processor.  Pour filling over crust and bake in the middle of the oven until the filling is set (and a bit puffed)--about 30 minutes.  Cool and then chill for at least three hours.  When fully chilled, cut into squares--they'll still be a bit rough around the edges, though--just like most of us! :)

Honey Cheese Cake Squares

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quinoa Salad (or Pilaf) and Bonus Recipe: Lentil Burgers!

I had dinner with my favorite 3-year-old and 1-year-old yesterday--Sam and his brother Bohdan.  They are a coupla busy guys!  Bohdan's new word is  "Uh-oh!" which comes in quite handy when a spoon or cup is dropped from the high chair.  I made this quinoa salad/pilaf and lentil burgers for dinner.  Can't say either of these two guys offered a ringing endorsement of them--but neither one of them spit them out.  Speaking of spitting, for "bessert" (Sam's favorite part of any meal!) we had watermelon and spit the seeds off the porch.   Sam & Bodhan's mom and dad liked the quinoa and burgers, so they make it on to the blog!

QUINOA SALAD or PILAF (you be the judge!)

This recipe is adapted from the May/June 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times.  I added the celery and red pepper--and honey, of course!  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed and provides a nice alternative to rice.  Here's a link to more information from and entity called the Quinoa Corporation.  You can play around with the ingredients here.  If you don't have a red pepper, mushrooms or zucchini would do--or skip the vegetables entirely and just use the herbs.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well 
2 cups broth 
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 spring onions (or scallions) sliced into 1/4 in rounds--including much of the green part.
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped mint.
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (unsalted if you can find them), chopped
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, toast the quinoa until it begins to brown and "pop" (about 3 to 5 minutes).  Add the broth to the pan, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa absorbs the broth.  Transfer to a bowl and cool.

While quinoa is cooking, saute the celery and red pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened but still a bit crunchy.  Turn off heat, add spring onions and stir.  Add to cooled quinoa in bowl.

Add parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and mint to the bowl and toss to mix well.  Stir in nuts.  Taste and correct seasoning--may need some salt and pepper.  Let sit for 20 minutes for flavors to develop.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.  Makes at least 8 servings.

There isn't a drop of honey in these burgers at all--but we've been eating these about once or twice a week.  Unlike many home made bean burgers, these actually hold up well in a burger bun.  The recipe comes from our vegan friend, Emily.  I've adapted it to our non-vegan tastes (but include the vegan directions below, too).  This recipe makes 8 burgers.

8 ounces mushrooms, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups cooked lentils, thoroughly drained and dry as you can get 'em (divided)
1/3 to 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce or (tamari)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg*  (see vegan substitution below)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil until they are very soft and have released their juices--about 5 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and saute a few minutes longer.  In a food processor, add the mushroom mixture, 2 cups of the lentils, 1/3 cup oats, corn starch, tomato paste, soy sauce, paprika and oregano. Pulse 5-10 times to thoroughly combine and chop the ingredients.  Place the mixture in a bowl and add the remaining 2 cups of lentils and the egg.  Mix with hands to combine.  The mixture should be more sticky than crumbly. If it is too wet to hold the shape of a burger, add up to another 1/3 of oats--but no more.  The burgers will be sticky and a little messy to work with.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, form mixture into 8 burgers about  2 1/2 or 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick (the size of an average burger).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Bake burgers in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  If you want cheese lentil burgers, you can place cheese slices on top and broil for a few minutes.  You can also grill these burgers after you bake them--just a few minutes on each side to give them some grilled flavor.  

*VEGAN SUBSTITUTION:  In place of the egg, you can use 2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water.  Add these to the mixture when you pulse everything in the food processor.