Friday, August 27, 2010

A New Award

I am finally home from the moving fiasco with a slam-packed U-haul truck sitting in my driveway.  I broke not one but TWO I've already declared that I will do NO MORE MAN WORK!  My husband and his other woman (his friend and partner in crime Ron who sees my husband more than I do) are going to get off their butts and put this junk in the storage unit tomorrow morning and I'm not lifting a finger!! 

I just wanted to take a minute to thank Shirley from Shirley's Luxury Haven for the Versitile Blogger Award.  It's always a lovely thing to log on and find that you've been given an award.  I really appreciate it Shirley.  You have nominated some wonderful bloggers so I am in esteemed company.  I will write more later after I've gathered my wits about me from this trip.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Road Trip

Good morning everyone.  I just wanted to drop a couple of lines to say I'll be out of town for the rest of the week.  Yes..I know, I said I was done traveling but my mother's house in Jacksonville sold quite quickly and unexpectedly.  Now we must got pack it up and bring her things to Cape Coral.  You certainly can't look a gift horse in the mouth.  For anything to sell in this economy...especially for someone to call you out of the blue and offer to buy it for cash is nothing short of a miracle.  We all figured she was going to be sitting on it for quite a while.

Its raining of courseHave you ever moved when it wasn't raining?  This is six hours away from Jacksonville so maybe it isn't up there; one can hope.  At any rate, guess who gets to drive some bouncy uhaul back down here on Thursday or Friday?  You got that sure isn't Mama!  How do I ge myself into these things in the first place?

It's a good thing I'm married and not forced to take a personals ad on one of these dating sites.  It would read something like this...

I dislike drunks, don't understand how people can eat cheese that smells like feet, and I HATE moving...even if it isn't my junk.  I'm short and plump with a sassy mouth and take no crap attitude and did I mention I hate moving? I look like Carol Channing on a three day crack binge until I've had my morning coffee.  My hobbies include blogging, cooking, writing and obsessive compulsive cleaning...but most certainly do NOT include moving!  Turn ons:  a well executed souffle, Johnny Depp, anything with chocolate in it or on it, Johnny Depp and getting on someone's last good nerve.  Turn offs:  Moving, the smell of a cat in the house, moving, people who whine, moving, children putting their dirty little paws in my hair, moving, Wheel of Fortune and moving.  For the addendum of turn offs:  see the attatched pages.  For a good time; call somebody else.  For the honest to goodness truth about why you are not married me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trio of Vegan Crostini

Even though it's been a couple of days since my last post, I'm rarely ever not cooking!  As some of you may know, I am working on testing recipes for a new cook book and that requires a lot of fiddling around in the kitchen.  Obviously, thats the reason for all the appetizer/starter recipes lately.  I'm working on beverages as well so you'll be seeing a few of those also.

My biggest issue with most appetizers is the heavy reliance on dairy products...mostly cheese.  If you have read this blog for any length of time you are well aware that I attend Feta-haulics anonymous (Chef Dennis is right down the hall in the Squash Blossom Addiction Recovery Meeting) pretty much to no avail.  I really TRY to be a good vegan but for that evil feta...okay maybe I'm not so stalwart where Greek Yogurt is concerned either but we won't talk about that.

What I like most about crostini as a starter course is that you can put anything you want on the top and call it party time without having to rely on cheesy, high calorie, high fat spreads.  I usually buy whole grain baguettes, slice and toast them myself to save on the fat and improve on the nutrition.  Ready made (in most bakery departments) are usually from white bread and coated quite heavily with suspicious oil.  Basically, IMHO...if it isn't olive, coconut or grapeseed's probably suspicious but thats another article.

Today I have a trio of vegan crostini for your viewing and reading pleasure.  They are simple, pretty, delicious, inexpensive (except maybe for the mushroom medley) and very easy to make.  Included here is another one of my lovely "mocktails".  Now I know you're probably saying to yourself..."Gee, that would be awesome with some booze in it" and you'd probably be right.  Unfortunately, I bust out in hives within minutes of taking one sip of alcohol so mocktails it is.  Ever the party animal huh?  I'm practically certifiable when sober...'nuff said!

Lets begin with our first crostini which is the most basic of all...bruschetta.

Simple Bruchetta Crostini

The key to really great bruchetta lies in the quality of the ingredients.  I've used vine-ripened local tomatoes, fresh garlic, top shelf cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and young tender basil from my patio garden.  Take note of the bread.  It is whole grain baguette with flax seed which I've sliced, toasted and then rubbed with cut garlic while it is still hot.  The bruschetta is made simply by starting some sliced garlic out in cold oil and warming slowly till the garlic is browned.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow oil to cool before stirring in diced tomatoes and fresh basil.  I taste, add salt as needed and chill.  What could be easier?

Next up is Cannellini and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini

Again, it can hardly be any easier and quicker than this.  Rinse and drain a can of organic cannellini beans and toss into the food processor.  Add 1/4 cup of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes (with their oil), a couple of pieces roasted red bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste and pulse away.  Drizzle in more olive oil as needed.  Spread on crostini, top with slivers of more sun-dried tomato, toasted pignoli, a drizzle of the tomato olive oil and fresh herb of choice.  You can whip up a platter of these in mere moments to enjoy with friends.

These delicious appetizers are full of fiber, antioxidents, healthy fats and bursting with flavor.

Lastly, I have a little different crostini for you.  This one is made of polenta which is cooked in vegetable broth with some garlic, salt and pepper.  Spread into a greased mould of choice and chill.  I actually used the lid to a butter dish to make a small rectangle that sliced up into lovely bite sized pieces.

Polenta Crostini with Wild Mushroom Medley

Prepare the polenta according the ratio on the package substituting low sodium organic vegetable broth for the water and a pat of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread for butter.  Add kosher salt and some fresh grated or pasted garlic.  When cooked, spread into mould and chill.  Slice polenta and lay on a greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with olive oil, bake util slightly crisped on the outside.  The polenta will still be soft in the center.  You may broil the tops if you like.

The mushroom medley is just a BIG heap of whatever wild or cultivated mushrooms you can get sauteed in olive oil with chopped scallions.  Add salt and pepper, a little dried thyme and finish off with a pat of Earth Balance.  Use to top toasted polenta crostini.

As promised, I'm throwing in a cocktail and it's a good one!  I call it a
Lime Coco-jito

You'll need to prepare some lime simple syrup which I do by adding the peel of one whole organic lime to 1 cup organic cane sugar and 1 cup water.  Heat until sugar melts and let it cool with the lime peel in it.  Discard the peel and use the syrup for drinks.

Add desired amount of syrup to the bottom of a tall cocktail glass.  Squeeze half a lime into the glass and add several pieces of mint.  You may muddle the mint a bit if you choose.  I usually drop the squeezed lime half into the bottom as well.  Fill the glass halfway with sparkling mineral water and then add ice.  Top off with a splash of organic unsweetend coconut milk and swirl with a coctail stir.  Deeee-licious!

It was about to storm like the end of the world so these came out a little dark...sorry!  Next time I make them, I'll take new pictures.

(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Post

Hello everyone!  I just wanted to do a quick post to add the link for my guest post.  A couple of months ago I won the "Quickies Challenge" hosted by Denise at and Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks for my Avocado Fudge Brownies with Feta Cheesecake Swirl.

The prizes were a copy of Denise's beautiful cookbook; Quickies Morning Noon and Night and a guest post on Lazaro's blog.  If you don't follow Lazaro's blog already, please check it out.  He is a prolific writer, fabulous and creative cook and he features amazing guest blogs each week.  While you are there, go ahead and check out my guest post and recipe for Vegan Goetta and Scrambled Tofu.

Check it out if you have a moment!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Savory Red Lentil Cakes with Coconut Curry Vegetables

Ok, so I DID promise to post the unusual (perfectly normal IMHO...unusual in theirs) dinner that I prevailed upon my mother and husband to consume Sunday night.  Yes, it was vegan and YES, they are both still alive and kicking despite their assurances that both would suffer food bourne illness and expire prematurely.  People are so afraid of fermented foods for some reason. 

So this dish, which I adapted from a recipe I saw in Vegetarian Times over a year ago, is actually pretty simple but it just requires a little bit of prep time.  There is 24 hours of soaking and then 12 hours of fermenting. 

The originial recipe was a little heavy on the dairy for my taste what with all that ghee and yogurt going on.  Also, their ratio was more rice than lentils in the batter and mine is the opposite.  That was done to increase the protein and fiber.  It doesn't really cut back on the carbs much since lentils are not exactly low carb but oh is still healthy and delicious.

Mine is a vegan version, made with homemade coconut yogurt in the lentil batter but you may purchase coconut milk yogurt or use dairy yogurt if you prefer.  Either way, they are extremely tasty!

Savory Red Lentil Cakes with Coconut Curry Vegetables

  • 1 1/2 cups organic dried red lentils
  • 1/2 cup organic long grain brown rice ( I used basmati)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
  • 1 small shallot, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • coconut oil for pan frying
  1. Combine the lentils and rice in a large glass bowl.  Add water to cover by about 3 inches and soak overnight.  In the morning, rinse and drain mixture.  Transfer half the mixture to the blender; add 1 cup of fresh water and the salt.  Blend until smooth and thick.  Add the remaining soaked lentils and rice a little at a time and continue blending until completely pureed.  The mixture will be thick.
  2. Pour the lentil puree back into the glass bowl, cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours or until the batter has begun to form small bubbles on the surface.  *Note:  this isn't the best smelling stuff in the world at this point but it WILL end up tasting wonderful!
  3. When finished with fermentation, stir in yogurt, minced shallot and baking soda.  The batter will be very airy and light despite the heaviness of the lentil puree. 
  4. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet until hot.  Using a soup ladle, add batter to hot skillet.  Do not try to spread the batter; it will make you cakes too thin.  It will spread enough on its own.  Sprinkle the tops of each cake with some of the peas.  Fry until golden brown on the bottom and beginning to dry a bit on the top.  Flip and fry on the second side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with Coconut Curry Vegetables and a dollop of coconut milk yogurt.

Coconut Curry Vegetables
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup young (thai) coconut meat
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 serrano or habanero (if you dare) chili, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon ground corriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of peeled carrot chunks, about 1" thick
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups mixed cauliflower and brocolli florets
  • 1/4 pound fresh young green beand (haricots verts left from the previous nights dinner shown here)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  1. Puree the cilantro leaves, coconut meat, coconut milk, garlic, chili and spices in the blender.  Use a little extra coconut milk to facilitate blending if mixture is too thick.  Blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and pre cook carrots and sweet potatoes for 2 minutes.  Add cauliflower and broccoli and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Drain well.  Pour vegetables into a 3 quart baking dish; add green beans and peas.  Pour the coconut mixture over the vegetables and toss gently until well coates.  Transfer to the oven and bake at 350 degrees until vegetables are all tender.  This should only take about 14 minutes.    Season with salt to taste and serve with Savory Red Lentil Pancakes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Yesterday just flew by for some reason.  It got off to an early start with some prep work for the lentil and brown rice pancakes I'll be making for tonight's dinner along with some roasted Veggies.  You know, rinsing lentils can be risky business at 7:30 am since one is not often conscious enought to realize that said lentils are small enough to pass through the holes in some colanders.  The relative inexpensiveness of lentils influenced my decision to just run some water and let them go down the drain as opposed to spending an hour and half picking them out of the sink one by one! 

My mother and I made an emergency run to Bath and Body Works to take advantage of the bag sale.  Our favorite farm stand is on that side of town as well so we stopped off there for some fresh, locally made goat cheese (I probably petted the very goat the milk came from) and some local produce.  From there it was off to BJ's wholesale club to restock some of the essentials.

It probably wouldn't have been such an ordeal if it had not been 115 degree freaking heat index.  Heat like that sucks the life right out of you.  We came home literally THREW ourselves in the pool for a couple of hour.  I always have a pitcher of fruit water in the fridge so I filled some glasses with ice and we drank them out by the pool...super refreshing.  There's no big secret to the fruit water...fresh cut fruit, sweetener or not (stevia in this case) depending on your taste, fresh mint and mineral water...sparkling or plain.  Just let the cut fruit and mint leaves sit in the water in your fridge for a couple of hours.  Waa laa...fruit water, natural and healthy (unlike some of those nasty artifically flavored fruit waters you see in the store).  If I'm going to use sparkling water, I just fill the glass about 1/3 of the way with the prepared fruit water and then top off with sparkling water so as not to water it down. 

Zero calories...plenty of satisfying flavor!  Plus, you get to eat the lovely chilled fruit when the glass is empty.

I seriously had no desire for cooking last night after all that so I didn't really plan on having anything to post.  However, I underestimated the beauty of the fresh produce.  This was about as simple a meal as you could prepare; pan cooked chicken breasts in a thick balsamic glaze with a side of haricots verts, slivered almonds and fresh peaches.

Just cook the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in some olive oil until they are mostly done.  Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to the skillet and bring to a boil.  I also added a couple of tablespoons of honey but you don't have to.  Turn the chicken a few times as the vinegar reduces so that it becomes coated in the glaze.  It ends up being the most beautiful mahagony color and tastes sweet and tangy at the same time.

The beans didn't even require pre-cooking because they were so tiny.  I just sauteed them in olive oil with a little sea salt.  When they are crisp tender, add the slivered almonds and one large peach, sliced.  Toss gently until the peach slices are warmed.  When you plate everything, drizzle the chicken and beans with some of the balsamic glaze and enjoy!

BTW...We uploaded a brand spanking new video to our youtube channel today.
I apologize that it has taken me so long to start the next series of videos.  I haven't made any new ones in about three months.  My life SHOULD be settled back to my version of normal now so hopefully we can go back to adding a new one each week. 

I'll be adding a new page to the blog which will correspond with the weekly youtube video.  The recipes will be dated for the week that they post and then hopefully archived (once I figure out how) for future reference.  Just a note...even though I feature all kinds of foods on the blog, the recipes for my youtube channel are all vegan and vegetarian.  I strive to demo as many vegan recipes as possible because those are the ones viewers seem to want the most.  As you all know, my husband and mother are NOT vegans so I do cook meat (obviously) and those will continue to show up on the blog's main page.  I am working on them though.  Look for tomorrow's post about the incredible vegan dinner they are having!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Patio Tapas Party

Here in South Florida, some days are just too hot and sticky to cook let alone eat large heavy meals.  It is days like this (when the humidity makes the air quality feel like you're trying to breathe pea soup) when I rely on either raw or nearly raw ingredients or super easy, quick cooking techniques.

Today's offering is rather like a tapas spread; a series of dishes meant to be shared.  I can fill the patio table with simple, delicious platters of finger foods and we can sit back under the monitone hum of the ceiling fans and languidly take a two hour repast with friends and family.  When the platters are empty and the dishes have been cleared away we usually end up engaging in a cut-throat game of Texas hold-um. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about taking everyones' money...but not usually!

Roasted Asparagus Antipasto Platter

Use whatever veggies you like or have on hand to make an attractive antipasto platter.  I begin mine by coating tender young asparagus in olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt.  Then roasting in a 500 degree oven for 3-5 minutes; turning once. 

While the asparagus is warm, I toss it in a simple Dijon vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon Mustard, garlic, a spoon full of sugar, salt, pepper and some fresh minced tarragon.

The other veggies pictured here are roasted red pepper strips (organic...water packed jars), baby artichoke hearts, sliced tomatoes, Greek Olives and sweet rings of fresh onion.  Arrange on platter and drizzle with more vinaigrette.  I just place a few coctail forks around and let people take what they want.

Next up is a series of dips; each of which can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.  Everyone and their brother and the horse he rode in on has a recipe for Hummus so I won't bore you with mine.  Suffice it to say that it is the usual list of suspects: chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  I may differ somewhat with mine because I use roasted garlic instead of raw.  What you add to your basic hummus after that is up to you.  Pictured here is my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Mixed Olive Hummus (which has a little bit of kick too it from red pepper flakes)

I prefer to make my pita crisps by using purchased organic whole grain pita breads brushed lightly with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  They take about 10 minutes to bake and you should turn once so they brown evenly on both sides.

Mixed Olive Hummus

 Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Creamy Baba Ganoush is made from grilled slices of eggplant that I first seasoned with salt and allowed to "weep" between layers of paper towels.  Then douse with olive oil and grill until soft.  The eggplant goes into the food processor with more roasted garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice.  I add a touch of coriander to mine along with the salt and pepper.  I've made a simple gremolata for the top by browning homemade seasoned whole grain bread crumbs in olive oil and adding minced parsley, sesame seeds and a bit of fresh garlic.  Serve with more of the bake pita crisps.

Marinated Mixed Olives

There is always a jar of these waiting in my fridge.  I buy bulk olives from a local Italian Market and place them in a clean glass jar.  Slice 6 or 7 cloves of garlic and add to 1 1/2 cups olive oil (for a 1 quart jar of olive) to a saucepan.  Add the garlic to the cold oil; turn on the heat to medium and heat the oil and garlic simultaneously.  Allow to cook until garlic is golden brown.  Don't burn it...burnt garlic is some seriously bad juju!  When the oil is infused, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and either discard or save for another use.  While the oil cools, toss your olives with some slices of fresh garlic, herbs of choice, lemon zest and whatever else you like.  Place this mixture in the clean jar and fill with the cooled garlic oil.  That's it.  I usually add the brine that the olives came in as well because I like it!  These will keep for months in the fridge.  Instant party food...

Quinoa Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls

Another make ahead that is so simple.  These are very similar to the Greek Dolmas only instead of grape leaves, I've used blanched red chard.  Remove the thick vein from the center of the chard leaves and dip them into boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Drain on paper towels while you prepare the filling.  I start by heating olive oil in a lidded saucepan and sauteeing minced shallot, garlic and the reserved stems of the chard (minced as well).  Add the quinoa and vegetable broth according to the amount of quinoa used.  Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed.  Use this mixture to fill the chard leaves.  Prepare a large, shallow skillet with lid for steaming the chard rolls by laying down a layer of sliced lemons across the entire surface of the pan.  Rest the chard rolls on the lemon slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and add about 1/2 cup vegetable broth to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and steam 5 minutes.  Pan juices can spooned over prepared rolls.  These are actually BETTER after they have sat in the fridge for about 24 hours.  I just pack the cooled rolls into containers and pour the pan juices over them, cover and chill. 

*Rolls are pictured here with crumbles of Feta cheese but you may forego this if you're Vegan. 

Don't let the heat get to you!  With a little bit of preparation and minimum of heat, you can have a little tapas buffet on the table in no time!

Serve with this amazing Virgin Sangria...made from Natural Peach Nectar, Mango Puree, White Grape Juice and Sparkling Mineral water.  It is garnished with frozen grapes, slices of orange and white nectarine.

Go ahead, you know you want to take a big sip.....

(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweet Pototo Adventures and A Luscious Vegan Cake

Do you ever have one of those days when you open the fridge and there is just a scrap of this, a bit of that and big leftover baked sweet potato that you have no idea how you are going to use?  That happened to me tonight.

I had a different menu planned for dinner tonight but alas...I was out voted by my husband and my mother.  They were in usual.  How sad is it when your own mother sides with her son in law to keep from having to eat a completely delicious vegan meal??

I suppose I should cut them a break since they've been fed vegan dinners three times and vegan lunches 4 or 5 times already since my last trip to the grocery.  Frankly, I don't see either one of them wasting away and if memory serves me, they have BOTH been back for seconds on more than one occasion.

Anyway, I caved.  The scrumptious veggie curry with coconut kefir that I had planned for tonight will have to wait.  However, I did prepare an amazing Bing Cherry and Pineapple Upside Down Cake and it is 100% take that you dirty co-conspiritorial carnivourous rats!

I had 3 very fresh, lovely organic zucchini that were just screaming to be stuffed.  I found a package of ground chicken breast in the freezer and a container of chopped red and green bell pepper that I froze awhile back.  Half a baseball sized vidalia onion was in the onion keeper and I found one large leftover baked sweet potato from two nights ago. 

Yes, it has occured to me that this is a strange list of ingredients but oh well!  In fact, there were actually no plans to post this recipe until after dinner when both husband and traitor mother declared it fantastic.  So, for better or it is!

Ground Chicken and Sweet Potato Zucchini Boats

  • 3 large (8-10 inch) organic zucchini, halved and hollowed out into boats

  • 1 lb organic ground chicken breast

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 cup diced  organic mixed color bell pepper

  • 1/2 cup vidalia onion, diced

  • 1 cup frozen white corn kernels

  • 1 large baked and cooled sweet potato, peeled

  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat colby jack cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Make zucchini boats by removing pulp from halved zucchini.  Cut each boat in half horizontally if desired.  Arrange zucchini boats in a 3 quart oiled casserole dish, set aside.

  2. Heat olive oil in in a large skillet.  Cook ground chicken in oil until no pink remains.  Make sure to break chicken up well.  Stir in chopped peppers, onion and corn.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add the cooked, peeled sweet potato and break up with wooden spoon.  The potato will blend and just become part of the filling as it cooks.  Add the water or vegetable broth and season to taste.  Stir until thickened and creamy.

  3. Spoon mixture into zucchini boats.  Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle shredded cheese over boats.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.
*Note:  Since there is no sauce on these, it is important to bake covered.  The steam will cook your raw zucchini boats.  If you prefer a tender crisp boat, you may reduce bake time.  There are no worries about the filling since it is already cooked.

Now on to my cake! The inspiration was simple...some cut, fresh pineapple in the fridge that needed a home and a bag of frozen bing cherries that I bought for no reason in particular. 

Everyone knows the look right?  Sticky pineapple rings with a cherry in the center plastered to the bottom/top of a cake with a glue of brown sugar and butter.  Ok, so my vegan version isn't wildly different except for ingredients and the ratio of cherries to pineapple.  In my cake, the cherries are the star of the show.  The pineapple is the supporting actress. 

My cake is made with raw coconut sugar but if you can't get it, feel free to use succanat or organic brown sugar.  I prefer to use the raw coconut sugar because it is not a processed sugar and has a significantly lower glycemic index.  Unlike sugar, raw coconut sugar also has nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.

Vegan Bing Cherry & Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan buttery spread, stick style

  • 3/4 cup raw coconut sugar or organic brown sugar, divided

  • 1/4 cup organic raw blue agave nectar

  • 1 bag Cascadian Farm Organic Bing Cherries, thawed and drained

  • 1/2 cup organic fresh pineapple thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon rum extract

  • 1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour (may use unbleached all purpose too)

  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Grease a 9" round cake pan and set aside.  In a large stainless steel skillet, melt TWO tablespoons of the earth balance and add 1/4 cup of the coconut sugar or brown sugar and 1/4 cup agave nectar.  Bring mixture to a boil reduce heat and boil gently until thickened and reduced by about half.  Stir in the drained cherries and pineapple pieces.  Cook 5 minutes or until pineapple begins to get tender.  Spoon fruit and syrupy liquid into the bottom of prepared cake pan; set aside.

  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the remaining 4 tablespoons of earth balance with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar) until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and rum extract; set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda.  In another small bowl or measuring cup combine almond milk and vinegar.  Allow the almond milk mixture to stand 5 minutes.  It will look curdled.

  4. Beat flour mixture and almond milk mixture into sugar and butter mixture in three installments each,  beginning with flour.  The batter will be thick.  Spread batter over cherry and pineapple mixture in the pan.

  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cake is risen and browned. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Make sure to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan before flipping onto serving platter.  Serve warm or room temperature. 
*Cake is pictured with scoops of coconut vanilla bean vegan ice cream

(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding with Gingered Peach Compote

With being away so much this summer, I feel as though my typing muscles have withered and died!  My poor arthritic fingers...backspacing and correcting typos every other word.   I actually made today's recipe before I left for Kentucky but did not have sufficient time to post it. 

We love rice pudding in this house.  While my husband would be more than happy to eat the dairy is like kryptonite to my species.  Despite all the non-vegan foods that I make and post, personally I eat as animal free as possible with two notable exceptions; feta cheese and greek yogurt!

The first time I ever prepared my vegan rice pudding for him, he made a face like he'd just drank curdled milk and declared that he would "pass" on the dessert.  A few minutes later, I caught him skulking around the kitchen with a spoon and an ambivalent look on his face.  That first bite was a true epiphany!

There's no big secret to making coconut milk rice pudding unless of course it's using the wrong kind of rice or overcooking it.  The former will result in a loose watery bowl of sweet rice and the latter...a glop of sweet starchy mush.

I have tried to "healthify" rice pudding a bit further by using brown rice but it comes out more like a breakfast porridge than a dessert.  It just isn't the same.  However, if you prefer that to the creamier, more custard-like consistency of rice pudding; by all means, knock yourself out.

The ingredient list is short, the recipe simple and yet the end product is sinfully delicious.  Add ins depend upon your likes but the basic recipe is as follows.

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding with Gingered Peach Compote

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain organic jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 cups full fat organic coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raw Coconut Crystals*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut butter**
  • optional ground cinnamon for top of pudding
  • 3 fresh organic peaches; peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons raw coconut syrup or raw blue agave*
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  •  1/2 teaspoon arrowroot
  1. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil; add salt and jasmine rice.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer until water is absorbed.  The rice will still be a little undercooked due to the water/rice ratio.
  2. To the rice; add coconut milk, coconut crystals and ground cardamom.  Return to heat and bring to a simmer.  Cook uncovered until thick and creamy.  You will need to stir often.  Most of the coconut milk will get absorbed. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and coconut butter.  Stir to combine.  Turn pudding out into a 2 quart glass dish.  Immediately cover the entire top of the pudding with ground cinnamon if using.  This makes a "crust" that prevents pudding from forming a skin and it tastes great too!  Pudding may be served warm or cold.
To prepare the Gingered Peach Compote:
  1. Place prepared peaches, raw coconut syrup or agave and grated ginger and 1/4 cup of the water in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and cook until peaches are tender.
  2. In a cup, combine remaining 1/4 cup of water with arrowroot to make a slurry.  Stir this mixture into the peaches and cook 2-3 minutes until thickened and sauce has lost its cloudy appearance.  Serve warm of cold over top Coconut Rice Pudding.

*For those not familiar with raw coconut crystals, they are sold under the brand name "Coconut Secret" (there may be others but this is the only brand I've been able to get).  Raw coconut crystals are 100% pure dehydrated coconut tree sap.  They are gluten-free, unbleached, unrefined, non-gmo and vegan.

Coconut trees are tapped for their nutrient-rich sap which comes from the blossoms.  It is a low glycemic index sweetener coming in at 30 calories, 7 carbohydrates and 7 sugars per tablespoon.  With a GI of 35, it is a more diabetic-friendly sweetener than sugar.

Since the product is raw (evaporated at a low temperature for only 90 minutes) the abundant minerals and enzymes have been retained.  Coconut crystals contain 17 amino acids, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins and a nearly neutral ph.  The evaporation process preserves the live enzymes as it's drying temperature is consistent with the average temperature in the tropics.  By way of contrast; brown sugar is boiled at 220 degrees with an end product containing 93% sucrose.  Coconut Sap Crystals contain 16% sucrose.

The product is also available in a syrup form which I used as the primary sweetener for the peach compote.  If you cannot obtain raw coconut crystals or syrup you may sub succanat in the pudding and raw agave in the compote.

Nutritional information for Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Crystals comes from the label of the canister and is provided by the producers of the product.  I have not been contacted or compensated in any way by Coconut Secret.  I'm simply sharing what I feel is an extremely wonderful product.

** Coconut Butter or Concentrated Coconut Cream can be found in some health food stores or you can order it online from 
If you don't have any coconut butter, you may substitute coconut oil or even some Earth Balance vegan margarine.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Home at last.....

Well, there will be no more traveling for me this summer.  I have had it!  While I did enjoy visiting my daughters and my little brother and his family and my dearest friend in the entire world...I am pooped!!!!

I spent two weeks in Kentucky helping my best friend with her son's wedding and then went on to Columbus, Ohio for a few days to visit my oldest daughter ( ).  We didn't take care of the reception as the brides family handled that but we had one heck of a party for the reshearsal dinner the night before the wedding!  We ended up feeding about 50 people and had a lovely backyard party. 

I made a simplified version of Chicken Cordon Blue by wrapping boneless, skinless chicken breasts in strips of bacon (hello...this is Kentucky...of course there was pork fat!).  I scattered mushrooms over the top and baked them off then topped with slices of Swiss Cheese.  Once they were lidded up the cheese melts from the heat.  By not returning them to the oven at this point, it insures they'll remain moist and not over cook in the chaffing dishes.

The other protein choice was Seasoned Pulled Pork (Kentucky...Pork!!!!).  It was seasoned with a nice spice blend and braised with sliced onions.  When done (falling apart of its own volition), shred with two forks and ladle pan juices over it before adding the lids and placing in the chaffin dishes.  It was a monster hit!

Sides were out of control...buttered corn, broccoli, honey brown sugar baked beans with you guessed it...MORE PORK...slices of bacon on top.  Herb roasted baby redskins, honey blistered carrots, stuffed mushrooms, herbed cheese balls with assorted crackers and of Kentucky meal would be complete without Mac and Cheese! 

Those of you who know my cooking style well are probably saying..."HUH??" it's no secret that I DESPISE mac and cheese with a frentic passion, wouldn't eat a piece of bacon if you slapped me upside the head with it and in general stay as far away from Pork as is possible and still remain in the same hemisphere.  However, when cooking for must cook what THEY want!

I did fancy the mac and cheese up on them when they weren't looking though!  It began with a simple bechamel sauce to which I added shredded sharp cheddar, creamy fontina, tangy goat cheese and just a bit of asiago.  I might have snuck a little creme fresh into that bechamel but I can't remember for sure...

The dessert table was over the top with a four layer Strawberry Parfait Cake filled with clouds of strawberry mousse and frosted with a strawberry cream cheese frosting.  White cake with mounds of fluffy butter cream and flaked coconut, Triple Chocolate layer cake, one bite frosted brownies with 5 different fillings, lemon cream triangles filled with luscious lemon curd and frosted with rich lemon mascarpone buttercream, cheesecake topped with fresh cream and strawberries.  It was a sugar orgy!

I also made a lovely fruited ice ring for the punch bowl in one of those rose shaped silicone moulds.  It turned out perfectly.  The punch was rather simple; frozen pineapple juice concentrate, peach nectar and Sprite.  While all the children hovered around the punch bowl, the adults were lined up at the back door waiting for more grown up libations.  I made so many pina coladas that I nearly burned the blender up!

A good time was had by all and in the end that is all that matters.  I've known the groom since he was about 5 or 6 years old.  His mother has been my dearest friend for about 25 years and it was such a pleasure to go up there and help with the party. 

I took about 150 photos in all and it is obviously not feasible to post them all but here are a few.

Beginning to set up...sorry the foods are covered but we were outside and the sternos were lit so everything would get hot before the crowd arrived.

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Fort Myers, Florida, United States