25 April 2012

Raw Apple Pie Tarts

My goodness! I can't believe it has been over a week since I've posted. I suppose I've been caught up in trip planning, my girl bff's upcoming nuptials, extra teaching, summer program planning... and despite being fairly well-organized, I've still felt as though something was not quite right - missing.
Uh... yeah... THIS.
I haven't been in the kitchen to actually prepare a dish. A gathering had been set for this past Sunday, and I was planning on preparing some fun, chocolatey treats, the recipe of which would then find it's way to being shared here. Alas the gathering was cancelled, and the chocolatey treats were (temporarily) abandoned.1

This, however, may have been fortuitous2 because I'd been postponing another recipe... or more appropriately, I waited to share it and was then distracted by other recipes I was creating. So, this presentation is brought to you by a specifically arranged series of events/occurrences.

I know. A small dessert. Why are all of the "dessert" items I make small?
Someone might say it's because I'm small. I say that small things are cute.
And I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I've also been known to a bite or two of a sweet and then try to pass the rest to the nearest bystander (usually the BFF). Small treats eliminate that tendency.

In addition to being nut free, I'd say these tarts fall are somewhat closer to a fruit salad than a pastry. They're quite fresh and light. The crust isn't heavy. The fruit isn't overly sweet or bogged down under a thick, syrupy "glaze". I made a batch for our YTT graduation party, and despite my last-minute concerns over bringing a raw dessert, they were very well-received.

Don't be intimidated by the number of steps/prep time required. They're really not at all difficult to prepare.
I actually thought later that they would be quite nice crumbled (or smushed) over a chia pudding or raw ice cream. Although, after taking the time to put them together so nicely, it would be a shame to just smash them up. They could make a nice presentation sitting atop a scoop of raw ice cream... OR if a crumbled topping idea does sound interesting at all, you can (of course) prepare the components as directed and skip the crust pressing and assembly steps :-)

For our current purposes, however, we are going to continue with pies!3

Mini Raw Apple Tarts
(makes 12)

For the Filling
  • 3 large Granny Smith or Fuji Apples
  • 6-8 (75g) Pitted Dates
  • 1/2 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • dash of Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • pinch Sea Salt
For the Crust
  • 1 1/2 Cups (120g) Shredded Coconut
  • 5-6 (40g) Pitted Dates
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
For the (optional) Creme Topping
  • 1 Young Coconut (Meat & Water)
  • 2 tsp Ground White Chia (black chia is fine; it will just make the topping more "speckled")
  • Seeds from 1/3 Vanilla Pod (or 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract)
  • pinch Sea Salt

Soak the dates (for the filling only) in the 1/2 cup of water for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Peel, core, and dice the apples into small, bite-sized pieces.

In a blender or mini blender, puree the soaked dates, with their soaking water, until smooth. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, lemon juice, and salt; give the blender a a few quick pulses to make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Add the date mixture to the diced apples, and gently stir enough to ensure the all of apples are evenly coated. Allow the apples to marinate, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Wait until the apples have marinated sufficiently, before you begin to prepare the crust.

In a blender or mini blender using the grind attachment, pulse the shredded coconut until it develops a fine, more flour-like consistency. Take care not to over-blend, or it will begin to turn into coconut butter.

Add the coconut, dates, coconut oil, vanilla and salt to a food processor, and blend until the dates have combined smoothly and evenly. If your dates are on the harder/drier side, soak them in room temperature, filtered water for 10-15 minutes; remove them from the soaking water before blending with the other crust ingredients.

Use a mini tart pan, or line 12 muffin tins with muffin cups. Press the crust mixture evenly into the tins/cups to create a crust that is approximately 1/8" thick. If using muffin cups, create a crust that is between 1/2" to 3/4" tall.
When all the crusts are prepared, spoon the apple filling into each crust, allowing the filling to come slightly above the rim of the crust. Allow the tarts to chill and set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.
Trim any excess paper from the muffin liners, once the tarts are set.

If using/adding the Creme Topping, set the tarts in the refrigerator, while you prepare as follows:
Crack open the coconut. Pour the coconut water into a separate bowl, and scoop out the coconut meat.

In a high-powered blender, combine the coconut meat, chia, vanilla and salt, along with half of the coconut water.The goal is to blend the coconut meat until it is completely smooth. The trick is to use as little liquid as possible, in order to retain a thick consistency. This may require some patience.

If you find the mixture getting stuck or unable to blend, gradually add some of the remaining coconut water, in small increments - just enough to get the mixture blending.

Once the mixture is well-blended and smooth, spoon a dollop onto each tart, and allow the tarts to continue to chill for the recommended time (above).
Feel free to blend in a few drops of stevia, a couple teaspoons of coconut nectar, or 1-2 soaked dates, if you prefer a sweeter creme.

1. Fear not, dear readers. Those treats are on their way, so keep an eye out :-) 
2. You decide.
3. Tiny pies, obviously.
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14 April 2012

Super Simple Raw Blueberry Spread

Sometimes the best things are unplanned.1 I made this inadvertently, while preparing a separate recipe (which will hopefully soon be "on the radar").

It was designed to be one component of a frozen treat. However, once the ingredients (THREE to be exact) were assembled, and before I added it to the rest of the recipe to be frozen, I was pleasantly surprised at the consistency that had developed.

No pectins, gums, or thickeners. No refined sugars. No cooking. It was so lovely, I almost hated to freeze it. Of course, I had already committed to creating the first recipe, so when I completed that one, I immediately set about making another batch to use as a spread.

This is another ridiculously simple recipe. It literally takes all of 5 minutes to prepare, AND the only "processing" even remotely related to this recipe is blending the ingredients in a food processor.
The (magical) dates provide both an extra touch of sweetness and the necessary thickening.

I just happened to have on hand some Raw Coconut Apple Bread (nearly) fresh from the dehydrator. The spread complemented it perfectly.It's hard to go wrong with coconut and blueberries though - at least, as far as I'm concerned.

Raw Blueberry Spread/Jam
(makes 1 Cup)
4 Pints Raw Blueberries
4-6 Pitted Dates (soaked for 15-20 minutes)
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice (optional)

Add the dates and 1/4 of the blueberries to a food processor or high-powered blender, process into a relatively smooth paste/puree - the goal is to get the dates pulverized and smooth.
Add the remainder of the ingredients, and puree/process to the desired texture.

Transfer the mixture to a jar or covered bowl, and refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes; the dates will cause the mixture to firm up into a jam-like consistency.
That's it. It's that simple!!

Serve with dehydrated crackers, generously spread over a slice of your favorite raw or GF bread, or add a dollop to a chia seed pudding or over your favorite raw ice creme.


1. I find this to be true to most things in life - not just recipes - but those are perhaps tales for another time :-)
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08 April 2012

Chickpea Frittate

Most Italian traditional holiday dishes/treats, are not vegan or gluten free - many are not even vegetarian.1
Ever up for a challenge, I copied down a bunch of my great aunt's recipes (some holiday; some not), with the intention of converting them, Cucina Libera style.2 The sheer quantity of eggs required by most of the recipes, still has me working out some ideas.

However, a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about sharing a recipe traditional Easter-time "pie", which I knew I could easily veganize and make gluten free. The challenge would be to try to re-create it without using tofu or a faux-meat product. I was poring over ideas for days and days, but not really satisfied with what was coming up.
The funniest part about this is that I never really cared for the "pie". I would either avoid it entirely, or pick out and eat only the raisins, which had absorbed a bit of the salt from the cheese (salty-sweet -  mmmmm...). Why I decided I was going to try to make it (instead of the version with chocolate and rice), could only be explained by my desire to overcome the challenge.

In the end it didn't even matter because a busy week - and even busier weekend - thoroughly squashed any plans to even try to experiment.
Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I rambled on about this, if I'm not even going to cough up an Italian Easter "pie" recipe for you. Well, I was about to completely shift gears and post a very simple and delicious recipe idea I'd been wanting to share, when my father called and jokingly asked if I'd made a frittata for Easter.3 You know... with eggs.

Ha ha h... uh... wait. I can totally make a frittata. OK, maybe not quite the same way it's supposed to be done - eggy-style with mint (although, that would be super-simple with tofu), but a Tuscan-style chickpea frittata... oh yeah.

Chickpea frittatas (frittate) have to be one of the easiest things to make. They kind of look like an omelette but have the consistency of a fine polenta - great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also happen to be vegan and gluten/grain/soy/nut free, and this is without any tweaking on my part.
Traditionally, they are prepared in a cast iron skillet. I don't own one, and I didn't want to use a pie pan (although, you could). I thought it would be interesting to make individual mini frittate. Given my penchant for small foods, this shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Although chickpea frittate don't traditionally include mint, I would have prepared (at least) one that way - kind of like a "frittata mash-up". Unfortunately, I didn't have any mint on hand. Conveniently, any number of savory herbs and spices can be used. Rosemary is a very common one.
And even if it weren't, I probably would have put it in there anyway.4
In fact, I used my homemade rosemary-garlic infused olive oil, in addition to fresh rosemary.
Feel free to mix things up with any of your favorite herbs or spices -  thyme, sage, peperoncini...

Mini Chickpea Frittate
(serves 4-6/ makes 8 minis)
  • 1 1/2 Cups (180g) Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3 Tbsp (30g) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Cups Filtered Water
  • 2-3 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
Oven: 450F/225C
Bake time: 15-20 minutes (for the minis)

Combine all the ingredients together. Mix well, until the "batter" is smooth and free of lumps.

Pour the mixture into lightly oiled muffin tins, filling them evenly. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Slightly vent the oven and bake for 5 more minutes, or until golden brown.

If using a cast iron skillet, heat the empty skillet in the oven, and pour the mixture into the hot skillet. Bake for 14-15 minutes, then slightly vent the oven and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. The same baking times can be used for a pie plate, but do not pre-heat the pie plate.

Allow the frittate to cool slightly, then slide a knife around the edges to carefully loosen them from the muffin tins. Serve! They're wonderful alone, paired with a yummy salad, or topped with your favorite sauteed veggies. Vegetables can also be added to the mixture before baking.


1. FYI
2. - Knock-knock
    - Who's there?
    - Orange.
    - Orange who?
    - Orange you glad I didn't say Cucina Libera-ted again?
3. This is sort of a tradition itself - around Thanksgiving, he asks if I'm making a turkey; around the Christmas holiday, he asks if I've made baccalĂ  (salted cod)... and so on...

4. Give me any opportunity to use rosemary, and you know I will.
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02 April 2012

Springtime Carrot (Cup)cake + So Delicious Giveaway Winners!

Let's get to the fun stuff first... although, this entire post is a lot of fun, if I do say so myself :-)
It's time to announce the winners of the So Delicious Giveaway! The lucky winners are...

[moment of suspense]

Audrey  Mar 27, 2012 08:31 AM
I want to try the butter pecan ice cream!

Jenna Z  Mar 28, 2012 03:17 PM
Unsweetened almond milk for me! Yum!

Butter Pecan? Unsweetened Almond Milk? Ladies after my own heart :-)
Well, now you get to try them for free! Congratulations, friends!!
Please make sure to send me your email addresses, especially if you haven't yet heard from me. If I am unable to contact winners by Friday, April 6th, I will select a new winner(s).
(EDIT: New winner selected - corrected above.)

Also a big Thank You to everyone for participating. This was my first giveaway, and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed reading everyone's product choices. I may be doing another fun product giveaway in the near future, so keep checking back :-)

I'd have loved to give every participant a voucher, but since I only had two, it was just not possible. I can share some extra love by way of a yummy Springtime recipe, though. What say ye?
Carrots... cake... spice... creamy frosting... Sound appealing at all?

We haven't actually experienced Spring here quite yet. We went from winter temps to summer temps and then basically back to Winter.

Despite the wacky weather, I had Springtime recipe ideas running through my head. The stretch of warm weather caused the trees to bud and flowers to blossom early. That gives something of a sense of spring, despite the chilly temps.

There's something about carrot cake that makes me think of Spring. It's probably...


Spring > Bunnies > Carrots > Carrot Cake

Carrot cake became a birthday tradition, when we were little. It was a "sweet" treat my mom was willing to give us - NO artificial yellow cakes with artificially colored/flavored frostings. Later on we were allowed to get one certain cake from the local Italian bakery - always (only) the one layered with actual strawberries and real whipped cream "frosting".1
For a long time, I thought carrot cake was the most boring cake ever. It was not oozing a sweetness that permeated the entire cake. It was full of vegetables, and not at all a cake-y color.2
It was just this single-layered lump, covered with an off-white layer of frosting made from cream cheese.

Then I got wise and recognized the amazingness that is carrot cake... moist, oh-so-flavorfully spiced, and the perfect amount of (primarily natural) sweetness. In particular now, I am able to appreciate the amazingness of vegan, gluten free, allergy free carrot cake - even better still.

I Spring-ed/snazzed up the cupcakes with some homemade coconut candy buttons. They can literally be whipped up and ready in 5-10 minutes. I thought they lent an extra bit of "Spring" to the cupcakes, but without the sugars, artificial colors, and other potentially undesirable ingredients of store-bought candies and decorations. I've included the recipe for the candy buttons below as well.

Carrot (Cup)Cake
(makes 6 cupcakes or one 8" single-layer cake)
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp (85g) Sorghum Flour
  • 5 Tbsp (45g) Tapioca Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3/4 Cup (130g) Pulverized Carrots
  • 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 Chia or Flax Egg (1T Ground Chia/Flax + 3T filtered water)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (20g) Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp (10g) Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cream Cheeze Frosting
Oven: 350F/180C
Bake time: 25-30 mins

Lightly grease or line a muffin tin with baking cups.

Prepare the chia or flax egg and set aside.

Using a food processor, pulverize/process the carrots until they are very finely chopped and shredded.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.

Add the remaining wet ingredients (carrot, oils, maple syrup, chia egg, coconut milk, vinegar) to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined and batter becomes fairly smooth.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 or 7/8 full, and bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.
Once the muffins are completely cooled, frost them with some Cream Cheeze Frosting, and decorate with the coconut buttons.


Coconut Candy Buttons
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut Butter (Not coconut oil - I used Let's Do Organics... Creamed Coconut for this batch)
  • 1/4 tsp Beet Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla, Lemon or Almond Extract or any other flavors you wish! (optional)**
  • Liquid Sweetener [stevia, coconut nectar, maple syrup] to taste (optional)* 

Gently warm the coconut butter, so that it is soft and easy to stir.

Add the sea salt, flavored extract and any preferred sweetener (if you're using it), and mix well.
*Coconut Butter has a wonderfully subtle, natural sweetness. I think it's perfect as-is and did not add any  sweeteners.
Evenly divide the coconut butter mixture into two separate bowls. Add the beet powder to one bowl and the turmeric to the other. Stir in well. It may a take a few minutes to get the powder dissoled and the color evenly distributed.
**If you'd like to make different flavored buttons, add the flavor(s) after dividing the coconut butter, and add only 1/4 tsp of flavor to each half.

Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper.
Now it's time to create the buttons. I used a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the mixture and then carefully slide it out of the spoon and onto the parchment paper. The mixture should be thick enough to also try to roll out little beads/buttons with your fingers; although you would need to work quickly.
Small candy molds would work really nicely as well. Since, I don't happen to own any, I just got creative.

Once the buttons are formed/molds filled, pop them into the fridge for 1-2 hours, or until solid. The candies can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for several weeks (possibly more).
I wouldn't recommend freezing them, as it can cause a whitish film to form.

1. This was a HUGE treat for us.
2. Not to my young mind, at least. This was the same young mind that vowed to one day fill my cabinets with white bread, Coca Cola, and rainbow-colored cereals.
3. Again, my 8 year old "I-wish-I could-have-sugar" mind talking thinking.
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