Holiday Kourabiedes – Walnut Sugar Cookies


Tis the season to learn of new traditions. When I first heard of these I couldn’t help but be excited.

Greek Kourabiedes are popular special occasion cookies. They are often served at weddings, christenings and of course, Christmas. You might also find them on an Egyptian cookie tray for the similar celebrations. There, they are called Kahk.

They remind me a bit of what a cross between a shortbread and a sugar cookie.
They’re simple, nutty AND they use some of my orange blossom water I coveted for recipes past.

Kourabiedes are subtle and not too sweet. The seasonal walnuts may be traded for almonds, but I love the combination of the bitterish walnut and bursts of salt with a hint of citrus and the warming, sweet and intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms. They’re perfect for the Holidays. I hope you try them.

KOURABIEDES – WALNUT SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 Cup Walnuts
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (vegan) Butter, like Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven, until golden brown, about minutes.
Pulse about 1/4 cup of the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add the flour, baking powder, remaining nuts and salt. Pulse again to mix everything together and roughly chop the remaining nuts.
Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugar,  Cointreau, orange zest and vanilla extract together with an electric or stand mixer until and fluffy.
At a low speed, stir in the nut/flour mixture to make a crumbly dough. Bring the dough together with your hands (it IS crumbly). Flatten it into a disk, like pastry dough, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate dough for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 20 pieces. Roll into balls between with your hands. Flattening to shape each piece into a round   disk.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and lightly brush the orange blossom water over the tops of each cookie.
Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with additional confectioners sugar.

Raw For Dessert


For the longest time, I think I’ve misunderstood raw eating. The desire for it or the satisfaction from it was a bit of a mystery as most of my comfort foods (mashed potatoes and gravy, minestrone soup or ooey gooey, fresh out of the oven oatmeal chocolate chip cookies) are all well cooked items. Now, I could understand the desire to be vegetarian, but it wasn’t until tasting a brownie, of all things, did I get the raw idea.

It’s fresh. It’s alive an you can taste the foods! It just feels healthy.
…And this was all from a brownie! The hard day satisfaction wrapped in chocolaty goodness.

How wonderful (and intrigued I was) to be invited to flip through Jennifer Cornbleet’s newest creation: Raw For Dessert.
Her recipes are well thought out and all use fresh ingredients, which I love…. And a food processor, which I LOVE, LOVE!

I had to try her 10 minute, one bowl brownies. The recipe was clear, simple and of course, fast.

Everything into the food processor as directed and I still think I had a minute to spare.

With the cocoa and walnuts the flavour was extremely chocolaty but a touch bitter. I found the that the finished brownies stayed together, but were still crumbly when I tried to cut or most importantly, eat them. I’m not sure I ended up adding enough dates to sweeten and stick everything together. Perhaps if the recipe went by weight for the dates, rather than in numbers, I may have been more precise. Either way,  I was yearning for a perfectly placed dried cherry in each bite as that’s what seemed to help balance and sweeten my untrained for raw palate. Not for the kids, but   a m a z i n g   with an afternoon cup of coffee and practically guilt free!!!

Always wooed by photos, I wish there were more. Either way this is a book I’m holding on to. I’m itching to try at least another half dozen recipes! That being said, Jennifer has let me know that I can keep my copy and still share!

Leave a comment, tell me about your raw food adventures. If you’ve tried it, if you want to… Let me know your comfort food.
I’ll be randomly drawing to choose someone to have a copy of Raw For Dessert for your very own.
Tell your friends, let them enter and I’ll enter you twice!

I’ll give you a week.

Until then, here’s the recipe to indulge without indulging:


REALLY! ONE BOWL BROWNIES

Recipe courtesy of Raw For Dessert
By Jennifer Cornbleet

3 Cups Raw Walnuts, unsoaked
1/8 teaspoon Salt
16 Pitted Medjool Dates
2/3 Cup Cocoa powder, or raw cacao powder
1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped
1/4 Cup Raw Cacao Nibs, optional ( I didn’t include these)
2 teaspoons Filtered Water

Place the walnuts in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until coarsely chopped.
Remove 1/2 Cup of the walnuts and set aside in a small mixing bowl.
Add the salt to the food processor and process until the walnuts are finely ground.
Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
Add the cocoa powder and process to incorporate. Add the chopped walnuts, dried cherries, optional cacao nibs, and water and process briefly, just until mixed.
Pour the mixture evenly into an 8-inch glass baking dish and press down with your hand to compact. Cut into squares.
Covered with plastic wrap, Really! One Bowl Brownies will keep for 5 days stored n the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

Yield: 16 small brownies (8 servings)

Mihl over at Seitan Is My Motor also reviewed this book. Check out her awesome blog and what she had to say…

Thanks for commenting and for waiting. After getting a number at random, we have a winner!
Congratulations Kelly! We’ll be in touch via email so I can get this great book out for you to enjoy too!

Beautiful Restrictions


I was recently invited to attend a wedding celebration for good friends of ours.
Ecstatic, we did the usual most people do to prepare; plan a gift, get a new outfit, a hair do…
but you see I also had the pleasure of being asked to cater.

For the small gathering, I was asked to bring the desserts, only there were a few little catches.
Being vegan was a given, so any baked goods were to be egg and dairy free, but add a few more allergies and the offerings now needed to be gluten and nut-free too.

I am a girl who loves a challenge. And this day was to be all about love, wasn’t it?

I wanted to have a few selections, so I opted for small, and the mother of the groom suggested that it would be great if we didn’t need to cut cakes or fumble with too much extra cutlery. Small and quaint, that was the goal.

With weeks of research in, I gave myself two days to prep and begin baking. Thankfully, I had a Daring Baker deadline looming, and, like always, I figured it would fit into what was going on in my life this month.

Of course, ever since a botched my daughter’s first birthday cake, I’ve always seemed to find gluten-free baking a little daunting.
Since that day, of any research I could muster, I’ve realized that it take a good number of replacement  flours to create a good combination. Different flours do different things. Some are starchier, heavier and most create a much drier batter than you might be used to. Considering this, I thought I’d create a bit of a safety net by combining my little cakes with a touch of fruit.
That and I put together a few recipes, you know, just in case.

CARAMEL APPLE GATEAU TATIN

1/4 Cup White Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Soy Flour
2 Tablespoons Potato Flour
3 Tablespoons Spelt Flour*
2 Tablespoons Cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Hot Water
1/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

5-6 Firm Apples, I used Empire
2 Tablespoons Butter, vegan
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Apple Juice

*To go gluten-free, substitute the spelt for 3 Tablespoons of rice flour.

Peel and slice the apples 1/4″ thick.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, then shake over the sugar.
Once the sugar has begun to melt and bubble, add the apples in an even layer.
Cook until the apples are tender, then add the apple juice, stirring to incorporate. Coat the apples well before removing from the heat to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flours. (If not going gluten-free, 3/4 cup of an unbleached AP, may be substituted.)
Add the cornmeal and baking powder and sift together.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut oil and the sugar with a stand or hand mixer until well combined.
Mix the ground flax and the water, then add it and the vanilla to the sugar mixture.
Alternate adding the flours and the soy milk until everything has been added.
Spoon about 3 slices of apples, along with a little “caramel” into a oil sprayed miniature muffin tin.
Next drop the batter, by the tablespoonful, over the apples then bake for 18-20 minutes.
Cool slightly, then gently run a knife around the edges to release the cakes.

If desired, garnish with dried apple chips.
To make, thinly slice one apple with a mandoline. Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a sprinkling of confectioners sugar. Drop onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and leave in a 200ºF oven for at least 2 hours or until crisp.

Best Vegan Visitor Recipes of 2008


ytd2008

JANUARY

The citrus obsessed that I am decided away with diets and and that pink grapefruits were way underused:
Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

Every winter likes the cold and every winter I battle it with something extra warm:
Creamless Potato Leek Soup


FEBRUARY

This Chili continued to warm + what would the Superbowl be without it’s tailgate chili?
Superbowl of Chili

And this was just goood:
Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


MARCH

Daring Baker’s sent me the perfect gift. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for my own birthday cake:
Perfect Party Cake

A March break get-away might have almost gotten me trapped by a snowstorm, but it was Montréal. I was hardly complaining:
Maple Madeleines


APRIL

It’s my daughter’s birthday in April and it just wouldn’t be tradition if she didn’t get her “Favourite Things Dinner”.  She’s six, I’ll give you one guess what her favourite thing is to eat:
Cheeseless Macaroni n’ Cheese

Spring and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, EAT them:
Warm New Potato & Dandelion Salad

After breaking out the BBQ for the first grill of the season, I discovered one of the best soups ever with the leftovers:
Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


MAY

A peanut butter cookie bomb became one of my favourite desserts:
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts

Mother’s Day brunch wouldn’t be complete without cake. And what better one than this coffee cake developed from my Nana’s own recipe box:
Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake

JUNE

Squeaking it in for the last of the school year. I couldn’t resist buying more snacks for lunches, so I replicated them instead (even though I was made fun of for it):
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Getting sick of watching countless sandwich crusts go to waste, I came up with a solution. I saved the crusts and made bread pudding. Waste Not:
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
JULY

Summer’s in full swing with heat beaters and last minute evening parties. I took full advantage of the garden’s offerings with these easy recipes:
Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet
Scape Salsa Verde Potato Salad
AUGUST

This was time consuming, but boy it was good:
Summer Pea Ravioli

The cherries were awesome this year, sweet and almost never ending. When I *almost* became tired of spitting pits, I decided I could finally bake with cherries more instead:
Cherry Streusel Muffins
SEPTEMBER

One of my favourite times of year. You know it, when there are too many tomatoes to eat at once. Never a fan of it as a kid, still I tried my own swing at it and will forever be changing my tune about tomato soup:
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tree-fruit season YAY:
Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars
OCTOBER
Have I not yet mentioned how much I like autumn and the tree fruit? This was so easy, especially when tearing through a freshly picked bag of apples before our vacation:
Apple Upside-down Cake

Super good, super easy and quick autumn-y gnocchi with one of my most favourite flavour combinations:
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Spinach
NOVEMBER

Move over Charlie Brown, I’m the pumpkin patch junky. Never fails, ever November I find myself with, well, enough pumpkins to last me until next Halloween. This year I FINALLY made this:
Maple Pumpkin Butter

Everyone needs a quick go-to recipe to use up those browning bananas, and this one is it for us:
Ultra-Quick Banana Bread
DECEMBER

I took a scoop of that long over due pumpkin butter and added it to my favourite brownie batter. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Honestly one of the best gingerbread men I’ve ever bitten the head off of:
Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Wow. What a year! Wishing you and yours the happiest 2009!

Countdown to Christmas: Dessert – Ginger Pear Tarts


Here it is, the big day. I hope you have all that shopping done.
You’ve planned for the appetizers, the sides and the main attraction…
I hope you’ve saved room for dessert.

I couldn’t resist something spiced and a little lighter than a cake or that never ending tray of sweet offerings that nibble me into a coma. The gingerbread was such a hit, I decided to use it as the base of the tart. It holds up pretty well as a crust and with a light cream there’s plenty of room for spicy, soaked pears.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you enjoy the Holidays, the food and your families!

POACHED SPICED PEARS

2 pears, peeled halved and cored; I used Abate Fetel
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Vanilla Pod, split
1 Cinnamon Stick, 2″ in length
Zest Strips of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Brandy

Combine the sugar and the water in a large saucepan over a medium high heat.
Add the vanilla pod, cinnamon and lemon strips.
Once the sugar has dissolved add the brandy and the pear halves.
If the pears are not submerged, just cook until softened then turn them over, occasionally basting, if necessary.
Remove when softened, about 20 minutes. Cool and store in the liquid until ready to use.
May be made two days in advance.

TOFU CREAM

300g Soft Silken Tofu
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1  (2-inch) Fresh Ginger, peeled
1/4  teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Pastry Flour

Grate the ginger and squeeze to remove the juice, should equal one tablespoon.
In a food processor, blend the tofu, ginger and lemon juice along with the vanilla, sugar, salt, flour and arrowroot powder.
Serve cold or baked.

GINGERBREAD COOKIE CRUST (half batch)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll out the chilled cookie dough. Cut into rounds to fit your tart shells.
Dock with a fork to prevent excessive air bubbles and bake for 10 minutes..
While the tart shells cool, prepare the tofu cream and thinly slice the poached pears.
Dollop the cream and top with the sliced pears.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tofu cream is set and firm.
Makes 6 four inch tarts.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies



Yes, I said pumpkin. Soooo, does that make finally make brownies healthy?

Super chocolaty, spiced with pumpkin butter, these are so chewy and rich it’s tough to believe they’re egg free brownies.

These unbelievably easy to make brownies are simple as melting a bit of chocolate and mixing everything else up in a food processor kind of easy. Dotted with pumpkin butter and generously twisted into a heavenly chocolate ending kind of easy.
Good thing, since I’ve been sick, I could use something good this side of heaven, easy and healthy (ish).

1/2 Package Silken Tofu (3/4 Cup)
1/3 Cup Margarine
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 Cup Dutch Processed Cocoa
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, Organic
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup Unbleached Flour, sifted
1/3 Cup Pumpkin Butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line the bottom of a brownie pan (9×9) with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the tofu until it is just smooth.
Prepare a double boiler, or place a heat proof bowl over a simmer saucepan of water. Melt the margarine and add the chopped chocolate; stirring occasionally, until melted.
To the tofu add the cocoa, salt, sugar and vanilla; combine well.
Stir the melted chocolate into the tofu mixture.
With a spatula, fold in the flour, combining until it is just moist.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Dot pumpkin butter in rows over the brownie batter. With a knife drawn to the bottom of the batter, drag it through in an “s” shape to pull the pumpkin and create a marbled effect.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until just set and shiny. (Try not to over bake or scorch the edges.)
Cool to remove the brownies from the pan.