My First Cooking Demonstration Video!

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I am happy to announce that I have started a channel on YouTube to share and demonstrate my recipes! I hope you will visit and give me feedback on this new brand new venture. I am a complete newbie to video and this a a solo project so there is quite a lot to learn! I feel very accomplished at what I have completed so far and I look forward to sharing more!!

Thai Peanut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

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This is one of my very favorite dishes! Creamy, sweet and spicy–with lots of tender-crisp vegetables and protein-rich tofu! My recipe is easy to prep ahead of time and enjoy whenever you are ready!

Thai Peanut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

 

2 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 cup Veggie broth
¼ cup Peanut butter, creamy
1 tsp. Red curry paste
2 tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Tamari sauce
2 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
1 Bell pepper, red, diced
7 ounces Tofu, extra firm, diced
6 ounced Mushrooms, sliced
½ head Broccoli
1 cup Coconut milk
1 tbsp. Lime juice

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

Method: First, make the sauce base. Combine ingredients 1 through 8 in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth and well-blended. Continue whisking and cook on medium-low heat until thick. Remove from stove and set aside. At this point, you may wish to refrigerate your sauce base until about 30 minutes before meal time.

If not, continue on by adding the coconut milk and vegetables. Cook on medium low, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Finish with lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

If using the make-ahead option:  Pull base from fridge and heat gently until warmed. Add coconut milk and vegetables and follow remaining recipe steps to finish. Enjoy!

Maple-Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

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If you think you don’t like brussels sprouts, then you probably never tasted them roasted with maple syrup and a touch of dijon mustard–crispy caramelized edges and sweet, tender mild almost broccoli-like flavor.

This is a simple, no-fuss recipe that provides excellent results every time. Give it a try!

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

from Big Vegan by Robin Asbell

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, Trimmed and halved
2 small Shallots, Quartered
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sprouts and shallots lightly with olive oil, maple syrup and mustard. Roast on parchment-lined sheet pan for 20 minutes. Stir and roast another 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately. Yield: 3 servings

Raw Lasagna Rolls

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Tasty, easy and healthy—these rolls are an exciting twist on a classic Italian dish. Having just recently begun my exploration of raw foods, I admit I was skeptical at first. However, I am so pleased with the intense flavors of foods in their natural state when you have the right mix of ingredients! Now, it would seem a shame to cook this dish and wash out the flavor and texture.

This raw marinara sauce is so flavorful–it just pops! With the creamy smooth nut ricotta filling and the thin wrapper of zucchini these rolls make a perfectly delicious snack or light meal.

RAW LASAGNA ROLLS

from http://www.nakedavocado.com

Raw Flaxseed and Tomato Crackers

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Laura-Jane The Rawtarian has done it again! These crackers are rich, hearty and delicious. They make a perfect base for a raw pate or an accompaniment to a fresh salad.

Unlike conventional crackers, they contain no flour, sugar, fillers or anything else that isn’t whole, natural food. Packed with protein, they are substantial enough to eat on their own when you need a little snack to tide you over to your next meal.

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Raw Flaxseed and Tomato Crackers

from http://www.therawtarian.com

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Raw Chocolate Brownies

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you may have noticed that when I do chocolate it’s never in a small way. I like it rich and dark and decadent. These brownies are all that–plus they are psychologically satisfying in that they are almost good for you, albeit highly caloric.

I discovered Laura-Jane, The Rawtarian, quite by accident, but I can’t say enough good things about her website and her recipes. Her site offers free how-tos, videos and recipes–she will even email you a beginner’s guide to raw food in pdf format. Cool lady, cool content–I dove right in and I’m still exploring her recipes, looking forward to my next raw foods culinary caper.

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Serve these brownies in small pieces, because they are very rich. One thing I have learned since going vegan–dishes made from whole foods tend to fill you up quickly as they are identified by our bodies as nutritious fuel. Although these are meant to be a treat, they are filled with organic raw pecans, dates and coconut–plenty of real, whole foods; no  grains or starches. Enjoy!

Raw Brownies

from  www.therawtarian.com

French Bread (Gluten free)

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I am so impressed with this recipe I found online, I have to share it. As you may know, there are a few gluten free french bread options in your grocer’s freezer, but the brands in my neighborhood markets include eggs.

Happily, I came across this recipe–that not only turned out two fragrant, delicious loaves of bonafide French bread, but it was also quick and easy. Once I got all the ingredients gathered together, the whole project took about an hour (including rise time)!

The loaves look pretty rustic and bumpy, because the dough is not formable with the hands, per say, like gluten flour doughs. It is scooped carefully into the molds. However, it rises and bakes up like a dream!

French Bread Recipe

from bookofyum.com

 

Cauliflower Potato Curry and Palak Paneer

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If it were up to me, every night would be Indian night in my kitchen! I love the complex spice blends and flavor contrasts as well as the great variety of vegetarian dishes that can be created with just a few humble kitchen staples.

I haven’t enjoyed palak paneer in years, ever since I went vegan–so I was elated to come across an excellent recipe online for a vegan version made with tofu instead of the cheese.

Vegan Palak Paneer

 www.olivesfordinner.com

I couldn’t decide which recipe to make, so I made both the Palak Paneer and Cauliflower and Potato Curry for the same meal. Boy, were we stuffed–but happily so and with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!

Cauliflower Potato Curry

http://www.ethnicvegan.com

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (gluten and soy free)

 

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Image courtesy Steve daPonte http://www.dapontephotography.wordpress.com

I’m all about taking a good thing and making it better. That’s what I did with this classic chocolatey favorite. Rich, dark and decadent chocolate cake can now be enjoyed by those with gluten and/or soy intolerance. Add a layer of tangy, sweet raspberry preserves and you just kicked it way up to an elegant special occasion or company dessert.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake

(adapted from Audrey Snowe’s Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes)

¾ cup + 2 tbsp superfine brown rice flour

⅓ cup + 2 tbsp potato starch

2 tbsp tapioca starch

½ tsp xantham gum

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tbsp cocoa powder

¾ cup light coconut milk (the canned type)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, salt, and baking powder. Add cocoa powder and mix until all ingredients are combined. In a large mixing bowl, mix together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and vanilla extract. Add sugar and mix once more until sugar is blended in. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix all ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven on center rack and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When completely cool, split cake into two layers and spread with the best quality raspberry preserves you can find. Assemble the cake and pour chocolate ganache over the top to coat. Refrigerate until about 15 minutes before service time.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Almond Ginger Cookies (Gluten and soy free)

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Finally! A moist, chewy, gluten-free cookie made with whole, natural ingredients. I love this recipe because it is simple and easy–no science project here, just straightforward mix and bake.

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I found this recipe video by Emily Phares online and it made me laugh. The girls were so cute, I just had to give it a try

 

Arepas (gluten and soy free)

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Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It has a great variety of uses and is often eaten for breakfast with jam or split for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and seeing that it was vegan, gluten and soy free I just had to try it. I really liked the simplicity of the recipe and the result was a nice little corncake, a lot like an English muffin, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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I stuffed mine with a spicy Mexican bean and cheese filling, but I imagine you could serve them with just about anything.

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Arepas

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit magazine

2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, not masa harina or corn flour, this is very important)

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix masarepa with salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Allow to sit for five minutes to hydrate the mixture. Knead mixture a few times then divide into 8 portions, forming each into a ball then patting into a small cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet and place four arepas to cook, covered, until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, uncovered about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with 1 tbsp oil and remaining arepas. When cool enough to handle, split and fill as desired.

Stock Options: Vegetable Broth

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The classical foundation of a successful soup or sauce is a well made stock. In vegetarian cooking many cooks use prepared stocks, bouillon cubes, powders and pastes. However,  to avoid the excessive sodium and fat contained in prepared products, a fresh stock can be made easily at home.

Most importantly, to create a clean, delicious tasting stock, the vegetables must be fresh, organic if available. This recipe will produce a light, delicate result, perfect for a broth based vegetable soup or sauce and the flavor can be intensified with the addition of tamari or soy sauce and heartier vegetables such as mushrooms, leeks or parsnips.

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This is the classical French method I learned in culinary school. I find it worth the little bit of extra effort to create a very pure, clear result. I hope you give it a try!

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Basic Vegetable Broth

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 large celery ribs, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

8 cups cold water

1 Bouquet Garni (see below)

Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to an active simmer and allow to reduce by half, uncovered (about 1-1 1/2 hours). Lightly skim off any foam that accumulates on top of the stock. Do not stir the pot. This will help avoid cloudiness.

Strain through sieve, pressing lightly against vegetables with the back of a spoon to catch juices. Season to taste with sea salt. Store covered in refrigerator up to 3 days. May be frozen for 3 to 4 months.

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Bouquet Garni

1 square piece of cheesecloth (approximately 4″x4″) rinsed and squeezed out

Kitchen twine

Handful fresh parsley stems

3 springs fresh thyme

1 Bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 clove garlic

Place flavoring ingredients in center of cheesecloth. Gather and tie into a sachet with enough length of twine left to tie to the handle of the stockpot (careful to trim the end so it doesn’t catch fire on a gas stove).

New! September Menu

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Melanie daPonte Owner/Executive Chef Vegan Flavorista Personal Chef Service

I am excited to roll out my new personal chef service menu for September! It’s been a long, hot Florida summer and I always look forward to serving new clients in the busier seasons of the year www.veganflavorista.com.  Some of the menu items have been featured recipes here on the blog and others may be coming soon, so stay tuned for more delicious vegan dishes!

September Menu

GF= gluten free  SF= soy free

___White Bean Pomodoro with Cashew Ricotta and Seared Spinach GF, SF

___Falafel Burgers with Lemon Tahini Sauce GF, SF

___Barbecue Chik’n Sandwiches

___Indian Chik’n or Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice GF, SF option

___Buckwheat Soba and Pea Salad with Sesame Dressing, SF

___Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas SF

___Sichuan Stir-Fry with Shiitakes, Snow Peas and Broccoli GF, SF

___Fajita Salad with Black Beans and Spicy Ranch GF,SF

___Baked Penne Marinara with Cashew Ricotta GF, SF

___Chickpea Tikka Masala GF, SF

___Mac n Cheeze Casserole with Broccoli and Chik’n

___Tofu Pad Thai with Rice or Zucchini Noodles GF

___Farmer’s Pie GF, SF

___Portobellos Stuffed with Creamed Spinach, Leeks and Fresh Thyme GF, SF

___Thai Red Lentil Chili with Kidney Beans and Sweet Potato GF, SF

___Lentil-Walnut Loaf SF

___Tofu Scramble Florentine GF

___Buffalo Tofu Planks with Ranch Dressing GF

___Sesame Grilled Tofu with Spicy Asian Green Beans GF

___Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu or Chik’n GF

Sides

___Zucchini Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing GF, SF

___Chopped Greek Salad GF,SF

___Fresh Hummus with Crudités’ GF

___Chickpea Tomato Salad GF,SF

___Three Bean Salad GF, SF

___Broccoli Spinach Soup GF, SF

___Cheezy Corn Chowder GF, SF

___Faki (Greek Lentil Soup) GF,SF

___Tom Yum Soup GF,SF

___Golden Indian Dal Soup GF,SF

___Smoky Red Beans n’ Rice GF, SF

___Cheezy Broccoli

___Sautéed Kale with Shallots GF, SF

___Cheezy Queso Sauce with Tortilla Chips

___Cauliflower Rice GF, SF

___Sweet n’ Spicy Vegetable Slaw GF, SF

___Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins SF,GF

___Chocolate Mousse GF

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

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This is my go-to morning smoothie recipe. Simple, delicious and economical, the ingredients can also be prepared ahead and frozen in individual portions.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

1/4 cup cold water (or juice, if you like it sweeter)

Big handful fresh, organic spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon pure matcha green tea powder (I like Kiss Me Organics)

1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed ( pre-frozen if you like a colder smoothie)

1/2 fresh banana, in chunks

Method:

Blend up the spinach and water to a lovely green puree. Add the tea powder then top with fruit and another splash of cold water if needed to get things moving. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Serves 1

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (soy free, gluten-free option)

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This is a fun, easy, delicious whole foods meal–elegant enough for guests, but simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. Feel free to substitute rice for the farro, but you don’t know what you’re missing!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (or brown rice for gf option)

adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine recipe

6 4-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms, stemmed
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
1 ½ Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. fresh baby spinach
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese substitute, shredded ( I use Daiya)
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup farro
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray. Spray mushroom caps with cooking spray, and sprinkle gill sides with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange mushrooms gill-sides down on prepared baking sheet. Roast 10 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Turn mushrooms over.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and thyme, and sauté 4 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Add 2 large handfuls spinach at a time, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and most liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

IMG_1614Stir in cheese and pine nuts. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fill mushrooms with spinach mixture, mounding on top and packing filling down with hands. Bake 25 minutes, or until filling browns on top and mushrooms are fork-tender.

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3. Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water 20 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup farro mixture onto each plate; top with 1 stuffed mushroom.

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Carrot Spice Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting (gluten and soy free)

IMG_4545As we know, traditional birthday cakes are a nutritionally bankrupt prospect. Why not celebrate life by creating a memorably delicious cake filled with healthful ingredients? This recipe just skirts the fringe of being virtuous, because it does contain organic brown sugar. But it has so much good going for it–I urge you to give it a try!

Carrot Spice Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting

Adapted from a recipe by Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

Cashew Cream Frosting

2 cups raw cashews

1 1/4 cups almond milk

8 pitted dates (soak in hot water to remove skins)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional, but recommended)

Soak cashews in water at least 4 hours (longer is better). Drain and place in blender with 1 cup of almond milk and remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. Remember the consistency should be spreadable, so less is more when it comes to liquid. You may or may not need the remaining 1/4 cup of almond milk. Refrigerate until needed.

Carrot Spice Cake

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 1/2 cups peeled and grated fresh, organic carrots

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and coat lightly with brown rice flour. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one, except carrots and raisins– in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed. Gently fold in the carrots and raisins with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Bake in prepared pan 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on a rack before removing from pan. Allow to completely cool, then split into 2 layers. Assemble cake with frosting between layers and garnish with chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired. Serves 8-10.

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Orange Pound Cake (soy free)

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Once in awhile I come across a recipe that hits me like a ton of bricks and I just have to make it as soon as possible. I happily completed my mission with this delicious vegan version of sweet and citrus flavored pound cake from fellow blogger Dina over at bitesizeme.wordpress.com.

Vegan Orange Pound Cake 

More photos of this moist, delicious cake below:

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