Coconut Bread Pudding: So Yummy, Good for the Tummy

Easy Coconut Bread Pudding
Easy (and Vegan) Coconut Bread Pudding, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

A lovely dessert is always a welcome ending for a great meal. I have a major sweet tooth, but I am not a great baker and cake maker. So, my desserts are usually no-bake, like the Chocolate Bon Bons and the Blueberry Cheesecake, or simple cookies, muffins and crumbles that are full of fruit and really forgiving when it comes to exact measurements.

Still, none of those come even close to the simplicity and versility of my Coconut Bread Pudding. This bread pudding requires no prior knowledge of baking techniques, and uses plant-based ingredients. The final product is deliciously sweet, comforting and satisfying, so you can eat it as a dessert, as well as breakfast or brunch.

In terms of the skills required to make this wonder bread pudding happen, you only need how to mix and soak. The recipe starts with a super easy wet mix which you can whisk in a flash. Then comes bread which you can cut up or break into chunks by hand. The best type of bread to use here is a spongy one, because the main thing the bread needs to do is soak up the wet ingredients. One trick people sometimes use is to leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen counter for a day or so, and use this, slightly stale bread, to make the bread pudding. In my opinion there’s no reason to do this on purpose, but if you have stale bread on your hands then transforming it into a bread pudding is the way to go! Regardless whether you use fresh or stale bread, you should give your bread chunks time to soak up all the juices before taking the next step, so leave them in the wet mix for at least fifteen minutes.

Once the bread is ready, add raisins and shredded coconut, mix gently, pour into a baking dish and about half an hour later you will have a kitchen that smells like heaven and a bread pudding that tastes like paradise!

Coconut Bread Pudding

What you’ll need:

6 slices of bread, cubed (or about 1/2 of a large bread loaf)

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

1/4 cup raisins

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cooking spray


What you’ll do:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
  2. Chop the bread into 1 x 1 in (2.5 x 2.5 cm). Note that these are approximate measures and you don’t have to go crazy here. The point is to have bread chunks that can hold their shape yet have enough surface area to soak up all the liquid. If you are using stale bread you can go smaller. If you like your bread pudding to maintain more of your bread dough texture go bigger! Place the bread chunks into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl (or a large soup plate, which is my preferred way) mix the wet ingredients, everything except raisins and coconut flakes.
  4. Pour over the bread chunks and gently fold everything together. Be gentle here if your bread is very soft because you don’t want to end up with a mushy mess. Larger bread chunks and more rustic bread can take a bit more beating but do proceed with caution. Let the mix rest for at least 15 minutes.
  5. When the bread has soaked up (almost all) the liquid, add raisins and coconut flakes and mix gently. At this point your bread chunks will be fragile and mushy so you want to preserve their structural integrity as much as possible so give your pudding a more interesting texture.
  6. Spray a bottom of a deep 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish with cooking spray and pour the bread mix in.
  7. Put in the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Keep an eye on your oven, as you want the top of your bread pudding to be nice and brown. Let it cool for a moment or two and dig in. You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of you like, or add some fresh fruit if you are feeling adventurous!

Enjoy for breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert… Sky is the limit!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

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Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff 

Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Mushrooms come in many different shapes and sizes. They also range a lot in terms of their availability and price. The kind I find readily available in my local supermarket are white button mushrooms. They tend to be affordable and versatile, and use them in many of my recipes. Those with bigger caps are easy to stuff, and I’ve experimented with couple of different types of stuffing, like the mashed potatoes and corn tortilla, Mexican-flavor inspired stuffing. Small and imperfect mushrooms are great for chopping up, and using for recipes like a quiche or a stews. White button mushrooms are also a common ingredient in my burgers and my homemade ground beef substitute, where I grind them and add to the burgers for color, texture and flavor.

In many aspects, white button mushrooms and baby portobello (crimini) mushrooms are interchangeable, and I may use one or the other or both depending on which variety looked best at the store that day. Crimini mushrooms had a more woody, deep and rich flavor than white button mushrooms, but the differences are not major, so they tend to cook and taste about the same. They also cost about the same as well, and tend to be on sale at the same time!

Once in a while I lay my hands on really large portobello mushrooms, and those I like to grill and transform into portobello steaks. They look and taste amazing, and make for an easy and healthy dinner. The price tag on these is a bit larger, and you do have make more of them to feed the crowd, because one portobello steak is usually not enough. But, they are absolutely irreplaceable if you need to make a great grilled steak vegan style.

What makes mushrooms an essential staple of any vegetarian, vegan and plant-based kitchen is their flavor, and a large amount of umami, the flavor associated with perception of meatiness. The naturally occurring chemicals behind this umami flavor are glutamate and guanylate (plus couple of others), and mushrooms have large amounts of them, none more than shiitakes. Shiitakes are native to Southeast Asia and have been used in local cuisines for centuries, either fresh or dried. They are also now becoming more commonly available in US supermarkets, although they tend to be more expensive.

Luckily for me, I recently ran into a pile of loose shiitake mushrooms in my store that were plump, fresh, large and reasonably priced. I bought about a pound (half a kilo) of shiitake mushrooms and decided to try making a Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff. I am sure this recipe would work with other types of sturdier mushrooms but shiitakes, becasue of their sweeper umami flavor, work exceptionally well.

I paired Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff with some spaghetti for a satisfying dinner. You can make the dish gluten free if you need to by the right kind of pasta. Alternatively, you can serve with quinoa for a higher protein meal.

 

Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) shiitake mushrooms

5-6 cloves garlic

1 cup raw cashews, unsalted

3/4 cup almond milk, plain & unsweetened

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon olive oil

freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)

fresh basil (for garnish, optional)

crushed red pepper (for garnish, optional)

1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to instruction on the box

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cover the cashews with water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes, best overnight.
  2. The next day, rinse the cashews and place them into a blender. Add almond milk and tapioca starch, and blend until creamy. Set aside.
  3. Clean the shiitake mushrooms to remove the stems and any signs of visible dirt. Rinse them with water, pat dry with some paper towel and slice the caps intro strips.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them very thinly.
  5. Place a large pan over the medium heat and add olive oil to it.
  6. When the oil is hot, add mushrooms and garlic to the pan. Stirring frequently sauté the two for 5 to 10 minutes, until mushrooms have softened.
  7. Mix in the freshly ground black pepper to taste, then add cashew cream sauce and fold everything together.
  8. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is rich and thick.
  9. Pour over your favorite pasta, quinoa or polenta, and enjoy with a sprinkle of crushed red peppers and fresh basil!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

A “Thank You” Cake, for All of You!

Dark Chocolate Brownie “Thank You” Cake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

10000 views… I can’t believe that my tiny,  homemade, low key, experimental, and very much just for fun blog recently hit a phenomenal milestone: 10000 views!

I am still in a bit of disbelief about it all, to be quite honest and totally humbled, yet thrilled.

Although I can’t explain how I went from my very first posted to 10000 views in less than 6 months, I’m guessing that this is a sign that there are many of you out there who are looking for guidance, inspiration and help in transitioning to 100% plant-based eating and cooking, while at the same time staying within a reasonable budget.

I can only hope that at least some of you have found my recipes to be yummy, homey, inviting, creative, entertaining and pure fun, which is what this entire transition to vegan cooking has been for me. Thank you for joining me on this journey and for helping me along the way with your kind comments, suggestions and many, many engagements.

And… this being a vegan, plant-based, healthy cooking type of a blog I thought that it would be cool to say a huge “Thank You, All” with some cake. So, thanks everyone – I hope you enjoy this Dark Chocolate Brownie “Thank you!” Cake, and come back again for seconds!!!

The recipe is super simple and uses ripe bananas as an egg replacement, and lots of dark, Dutch process cocoa. It also uses a simple trick to transform almond milk into almond butter milk by adding a tiny amount of cider vinegar to almond milk and letting it stand for fifteen minutes at room temperature before using. Finally, to help the dark cocoa release its color you will need to use some hot water.

Putting all this together, you will start by mixing dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl separately from wet ingredients (all except water), combine them together and then add the hot water gradually as you mix, keeping a close eye on consistency. You want your batter to be smooth and fluid, but not completely liquid. The recipe below makes two 8 in (20 cm) round brownie cakes, or one 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) rectangular cake. I recommend lining the bottom of your baking pan with some parchment paper, as this helps get the cake out. In principle you could bake this cake in a springform pan, and it should pop right out.

The cake tastes rich and decadent, yet it’s relatively light in terms of the ingredients and especially in terms of added sugar. The bananas help not only hold the cake together, but add natural sweetness to it, so you can use 1/3 amount of sugar that a cake of this size would normally use. Of course, you are not limited to sugar and can use a sweetener of your choice, including artificial sweeteners if that’s what you like or need to use.

Dark Chocolate Brownie “Thank You” Cake

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa, Dutch-processed

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 bananas

1/2 cup powdered sugar, vegan (+ 1 tablespoon for dusting)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot water

2 tablespoons coconut flakes, unsweetened (optional)

Zest of one orange (optional)

What you you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Mix the almond milk with apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. This will be your almond buttermilk.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your standing mixer, combine all your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients except the hot water. Note that powdered sugar and the bananas count as a wet ingredients. I recommend that you use a blender to cream your bananas, although you could simply mush them with a fork. Either way, make sure that your wet ingredients are fully mixed together and as smooth as possible.
  5. Next, slowly add your wet ingredients into the dry ones. For this, I keep my standing mixer runing on low, and pour the wet ingredients in, bit by bit.
  6. Let everything combine before adding the hot water. I recommend adding 1/4 cup water at a time, slowly so that you are in full control over the consistency of your batter. It should be smooth and pour out with ease.
  7. Line two 8 in (20 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper and pour the batter in.
  8. Put in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Take the cake out, flip it out of the pan, and leave it to cool for 1-2 hours.
  10. Cut into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar, coconut flakes and orange zest. Serve and enjoy!!!
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Saying “Thank You!” with a Cake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins

 

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Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Corn bread and corn muffins are a great way to enjoy freshly baked bread but without the agony of waiting for dough to rise and wondering whether the yeast is still alive. Corn bread and corn muffins are also very customizable – you can make them into a sweet tasting treat or you can add savory ingredients and make them into a complex tasting appetizers or breakfast items.These corn muffins are spicy, thanks to a good amount of fire roasted green chili peppers and vegan pepper Jack cheese. They also include a secret ingredient- pickles! Pickles add a bit of acidity and crunch to the muffins, pushing them over the edge of plain and into the area of edgy and fabulous.

What can you serve these with? Well, they go really well with a chili or a soup like the Bean & Leek Soup with Soy Chorizo, or Balkan Cabbage and Bean Stew. The muffins are somewhat similar to Balkan Style Cornbread but they do use green chilis and pickles whit gives them a very specific and spicy flavor. This means that they work well as appetizers, especially when paired with some guacamole. They are great for breakfast or a quick snack, and would complete any salad. They are best fresh from the oven, but should keep well for couple of days.

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Spicy, and oh, so cheesy, Corn Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal

1/2 cup corn starch

1 cup rice flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 pickles, finely chopped

4 oz (113 g) fire roasted diced green chiles

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, vegan

1 1/4 cup seltzer water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except seltzer water and mix well.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and mix. Keep adding the last 1/4 cup gradually to make sure your batter is smooth but not runny. Let stand for 10 min.
  4. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray and divide the batter into 12 even amounts.
  5. Place the muffins in the oven for 10 min, then lower the heat to 350 F (180 C) and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. These corn muffins come out bright yellow and are ready to eat after you let stand and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Puffy Popovers of the Vegan Kind

Puffy Popovers of the Vegan Kind
Puffy Popovers of the Vegan Kind, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
If you never had a popover before let me try to describe it to you: it is light as a feather and hollow, not actually fried dough but tasting as if the fried dough has decided to leave the deep frier and take a yoga breathing class to fill itself with air and become almost weightless. Popovers are a special breakfast treat to rejoice and enjoy, sprinkled with powdered sugar, with a spoonful of jam, or a handful of sliced fruit. Anyway you cut it they are amazing!

Popovers get their fluffy structure from lots of eggs, milk and butter, and their final elevated shape from a specially designed popover pan. Although popover pan may remind you of a muffin pan, which may lead you to believe that you can just your muffin pan to make popover, it’s best not to go there. I tried it, and it did not end well. So, you will need to get a real popover pan if you want to make the puffiest of popovers and there is not substitution for it!

But, is there a substitution for eggs, milk and butter? Of course there is! At first I was very skeptical that I can make popovers work by replacing basically the three quarters of ingredients that make popovers with vegan alternatives, but I did and it does!!!

My vegan, plant-based version is also very simple, with three main ingredients only: silken tofu, white wheat flour and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. To that you can add things like maple syrup, agave nectar or sugar, a bit more vanilla extract, a sprinkle of lemon, lime or orange zest, or cinnamon, for a sweet version, or stick with plain almond milk, a dash of salt and a sprinkle of dry basil and oregano for a more savory version. The basic batter is flexible and customizable, so feel free to make these popovers your own. Of course, you can always stick with the basic batter and add layers of flavors with condiments like jam, nuts, fruit, cashew sour cream, or macadamia nut queso fresco.

The main trick to making perfect, puffy popovers is to preheat the popover pan by itself before pouring in the batter, and then add the batter when pan is scorching hot and sizzling. Then bake the popovers at high temperature for a short period of time, lower it down and leave them to make for a while. I add an extra step where I decrease the temperature gradually so my popovers spend fifteen minutes at 425 F (220 C), then 20 minutes at 375 F (190 C) and finally another 10 minutes at 350 F (175 C). This helps them puff up and then cook through to their final glorious heights.

Puffy Popovers all in the row
Puffy Popovers all in the Row, Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Puffy Popovers

What you’ll need:

16 oz (454 g) silken tofu

1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon turmeric (optional; for color only)

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Once preheated, place the popover pan in for 15 minutes to get sizzling hot.
  2. Drain excess liquid from tofu but don’t press. Place the tofu, almond milk and vanilla extract into a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and blend well. Add turmeric if you like to give your batter a bit of a yellow tint and make it visually more egg-like. Mix everything well. The batter consistency should be similar to American pancakes (a bit denser than crapes).
  4. Wearing good oven mittens, take the popover pan out, spray with cooking spray, and pour the batter in, about 2/3 of the way. Place the popover pan on the baking sheet (to minimize splatter) and put it in the oven.
  5. Bake at 425 F (220 C) for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 F (190 C) for 20 minutes and finish at 350 F (175 C) for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Take out the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. The finished popovers should slide out the pan with ease.
  7. Enjoy warm as is, or with any topping you like!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Today is a double whammy of a day. It’s the National Oatmeal Cookie Day and at the same time the National Raisin Day. So I just had to join in the celebrations by putting those two together into these lovely, healthy and chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that use couple of very simple ingredients and take no time to make.

I decided to start with some naturally sweet ingredients in order to completely omit using added sugar. So I went for a combination of carrots and raisins, both with an amazing amount of sweetness that baking brings out to an amazing extent.

For my oatmeal, I decided to toast some of it to add extra dimensions of nuttiness to the flavor of these cookies without the need to use any nuts. Additional trick I used is to grind most of the oats which made it easy to skip using flour. Still, I did add a bit of corn starch to help the cookies along, and “flax egg” to bind everything together.

Of course, you can’t have a good batch of moist cookies without adding a bit of fat and in this case I decide to use solids out of the can of coconut cream. I used all the liquid and couple of tablespoons of solids for my Bread Fruit Curry, so I had some solids leftover. You can also use coconut oil in this application as well. The oil does not need to be fully melted but it does need to be softened so that can mix well with the rest of the ingredients.

So without any further ado I give to you on this special day gluten-free and dairy-free, no sugar added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, No Sugar Added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, No Sugar Added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

What you’ll need (for 24, 2 in (5 cm) diameter cookies):

3 large carrots

1 cup raisins

2 cups oatmeal

1/4 cup flax meal

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup corn starch

1/4 cup coconut solids

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Place raisins into a large cup and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Add flax meal to a large cup and mix well with 3/4 cups of hot water. Let stand for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Toast 1/2 cup of oat meal in a toaster oven until they begin to slightly brown and start smelling lovely and deliciously toasty, which should take about 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on the toaster oven though as the oats will burn quickly. You can toast the oatmeal on the stove top, using a frying pan. I recommend dry toasting them, although you can use a drop of oil or cooking spray to help the toasting along.
  5. Add the toasted oats to a food processor and grind to a fine meal. Pour the toasted oatmeal into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Add another 1 cup of oatmeal to the food processor and grind as finely as the previous batch. Combine with the ground toasted oatmeal.
  7. Add reminder of the oatmeal (1/2 cup) into the mixing bowl without grinding for added texture.
  8. Grind carrots finely using the food processor and add to the oatmeal mix.
  9. Drain the raisins well and add to the oatmeal and carrots.
  10. Add “flax egg” and mix well. The mixture should be moist but not runny.
  11. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If your coconut oil needs a but of melting, put it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep an eye on it because you don’t want it to be completely melted, just soft enough to be able to mix well.
  12. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spoon out the cookies with a tablespoon. This should yield 24 cookies, 12 per baking sheet. Use your fingers to shape the cookies into nice, flat rounds or any shape you like. Their final thickness is about 1/2 in (1 cm) and they will not spread or rise much so make sure that you do actually flat them out before baking.
  13. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. The cookies will be soft to touch but will firm up a bit as they cool.
  14. You can frost them with simple sugar frosting if you like, but I did want to keep this recipe “added sugar” free and they are delicious as is. Enjoy!!!
  15. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Quick Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Tofu

Quick Quiche with Tofu and Mushrooms
Quick Quiche with Tofu and Mushrooms, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Eating pie for lunch sounds so decadent, doesn’t it? And that’s what makes quiche so appealing. I usually stay away from making quiche because I can’t deal with making my own crust. The crust takes time and effort that is beyond my capacity. Luckily for me, and I am guessing many of you, stores carry pre-made pie crusts that are ready to use.

My quiche recipe uses one of those and that really makes it come together relatively quickly. One tip when using the store bought frozen pie crust is to bake the crust by itself first for ten to fifteen minutes while you are mixing and preparing the other ingredients. This pre-baking will help make the crust nice and crunchy and help it hold the filling.

Filling is definitely the star of any quiche and it is traditionally made of eggs and cheese, often with mushrooms, ham, spinach, artichokes or other meat and vegetable components thrown into it. So, the result is usually light in texture but heavy on your stomach and very calorie dense.

In my first attempt to veganize quiche I decided to keep it simple and start with mushrooms, red onions and tofu as main ingredients. Most of the cooking actually takes place in a pan on the stove top as both red onions and mushrooms need to be fully cooked before they hit the pie crust. I recommend taking the time to caramelize the onions nice and slow, as well as let the mushrooms cook most of the way before adding tofu. In this case, the tofu needs to be drained and crumbled but you can skip the “pressing tofu” step that almost all tofu recipes have making this a really quick dish!

Quick Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Tofu

What you’ll need:

1 store bought pie crust, vegan

1 red onion

10 oz (300 g) white mushrooms

14 oz (400 g) extra firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon dry basil leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Once ready, put the pie crust in to pre-bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Cut the onion into fine, thin slices.
  3. Spray the bottom and sides of a frying pan with cooking spray and place it over medium high heat. Add the onion and let caramelize for 5 to 10 minutes. The onion should be nicely browned and soft.
  4. While the onion is caramelizing, clean and slice the mushrooms, or you can always buy sliced mushrooms and skip this step.
  5. Add sliced mushrooms to the onion mix and cook until mushrooms soften, which will take another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Drain tofu and crumble it into small crumbles with a fork or with your hand. The size of the crumbles should be similar to scrambled egg.
  7. Add crumbled tofu, nutritional yeast, corn starch, basil and oregano. Stir well the quiche filling, let brown for another 1 to 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and let sit until your pie crust is done pre-baking.
  8. Pour the filling into the crust, spray the top with some cooking spray and return to oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  9. Take the quiche out, let stand for 5 minutes then serve with your favorite salad or top with some sun dried tomato shreds like I did on this occasion.
  10. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

No-fumble Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble with Vegan Ice Cream
Apple Crumble with Vegan Ice Cream, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Mmmmm, apple crumble! Need I say more? This sort of pie, sort of pudding, sort of fruit bowl has been my go to dessert for some time now for couple of simple reasons. First of all, it does not require much careful measuring and weighing as dough and batter based desserts do if the cake or cookies are to come out just right. Second, it comes together very quickly and uses ingredients that I have on hand almost all the time. So, in the words of the American football jargon from the title of this post, it is practically impossible to fumble this recipe. But just to make it even more error-proof I simplified the recipe further.

Apple crumble goes under another name that you may be familiar with and that’s apple crisp, because the characteristic topping this dessert has is crispy and crumbly at the same time. The classic recipe starts with tart apples, like Granny Smith, and then uses lots and lots of sugar to sweeten things up, some flour to bind things together, and lots and lots of butter to get the topping, made of nuts and oats, crunchy. So basically you star from delicious fruit said to keep the doctor away, and add reasons that will in the long run likely lead you to pay your doctor a visit.

Apple Crumble Apples
Apple Crumble Starts with Apples, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
In my recipe I removed the flour to make it gluten-free (I used corn starch instead) and removed the need for butter by adding some walnuts and almonds to my topping. Walnuts excel in the amount of polyunsaturated fat they have and are a great substitute for butter here, and almonds add more monounsaturated fat and some extra fiber. Needless to say, both walnuts and almonds taste more interesting than butter so the crumble/crisp flavor will blow you away!

When it comes to keeping things sweet without adding sugar, I decided to use raisins as natural sweeteners and to get them to their juicy magnificence I soaked them in hot water for 30 minutes, then drained, before use.

Apples, Raisins and Cinnamon
Apples, Raisins and Cinnamon on Their Way to Apple Crumble, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
One last note is that I used some lime juice and lime zest and at the end I think that this small amount of very aromatic citrus made a huge difference. The crumble was delicious and had a wonderful aroma, so much so that we ate the whole crumble in one sitting. So much for portion control!

Apple Crumble

What you’ll need:

4 large tart apples (Granny Smith or other)

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, raw

1/2 cup almond, raw

1/2 cup oats

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 lime, juice and zest

1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. Soak the raisins in 2 cups of warm water for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut the apples into slices and place in a large bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the apple slices as you go and mix the juice in to keep your apples from oxidizing (turning brown) while you work.
  4. Drain the raisins and pat them dry. Add them to the sliced apples. Add lime zest, corn starch and cinnamon. Stir well to coat and combine.
  5. Spray the bottom and the sides of a square 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish with cooking spray. Add the apple mix and spread around. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. While the apple mix is baking prepare the crumble. In a food processors chop roughly the walnuts, almond and oats. You don’t want to make a fine meal, rather pulse the food processor and stop at a point where some of it is very fine but there are still plenty of chunky pieces left.
  7. Remove the foil from the baking apple mix and sprinkle the crumble on top. Don’t mix!
  8. Put the apple crumble back to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  9. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes to cool just slightly.Enjoy the Apple Crumble warm or cold!

Note on serving suggestions: I realize it is customary to serve warm apple crumble with cold vanilla ice cream, and that is swell! But give this crumble a try on its own – it is fantastic!

Note on peeling apples: I prefer not to peel my apples as peeling takes time and the peel adds a nice texture to the crumble. But if you like the crumble to be smoother then do peel them.

Note on the featured image: The featured image on the home page includes two small scoops of green ice cream. This is homemade coconut milk ice cream that owes its green color to food coloring – sorry for not coming up with something more natural… yet!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Balkan Style Cornbread, Gluten-free and Vegan

Balkan Corn Bread
Balkan Style Cornbread, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Yesterday I shared the recipe for Balkan Cabbage and Bean Stew that I developed as a way of keeping my grandmother’s culinary traditions going in the 21st century. The very best, and also very traditional, side food for a sturdy Balkan dish featuring a pile of cabbage and beans is proja (pronounced pro-ya), a savory cornbread that is, in its pure form simple and subtle.  Think polenta but in sold form!

Over the years, recipes for proja have diversified away from using just corn flour, water, oil and baking soda, into more elaborate recipes that include eggs, cheese, yogurt, ham, and even pickles. I tried and enjoyed many of them, and they are delicious. But when it comes to pairing with a rich main dish, simpler is better. The recipe below is a relatively pared down but not-your-grandma’s Balkan style cornbread that is gluten-free and vegan.

I decided to add actual corn kernels to this recipe for a slightly more interesting texture. The corn I use is frozen corn that I defrosted on my kitchen counter top (you can always do it overnight in the fridge or quickly in the microwave). To jazz things up a bit I did add a can of fire roasted diced green chiles. You can totally skip this or add any other pepper you like if you are into a spicier version of the corn bread with a bit of kick!

Balkan Style Corn Bread
Balkan Style Cornbread, Gluten-free and Vegan, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Balkan Style Cornbread, Gluten-free and Vegan

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cup corn meal, fine

1 1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup corn starch

2 cups kernel corn

1 can chili peppers

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons  vegetable oil

2 cups water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except water. Add 1 cup of water and mix well. The cornbread batter should be wet but not too fluid, so I recommend adding the second cup of water in stages to make sure you don’t end up with a corn bread soup.
  3. Spray the bottom and the sides of a 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) baking dish with the cooking spray.
  4. Pour the cornbread batter in, even it out and put it in the oven.
  5. Bake at 425 F (220 C) for 20 min then lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) for another 20 minutes.
  6. Leave on the counter top for 10-15 minutes to cool, then cut and enjoy!

Note: This corn bread tastes great warm but if you don’t finish the entire cornbread immediately I recommend taking it out of the baking dish and storing in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can reheat it in the toaster oven or zap it for 30 sec in the microwave oven.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins

GlutenfreeCarrotCakeMuffins_DONE
Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Baking does not come easy to me and gluten-free vegan baking is even more difficult. But, creating a recipe for carrot cake muffins that fits into my philosophy of vegan cooking with minimal amount of added sugar was hard to resist. This recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients like carrots, apples, walnuts, and raisins. It also uses couple of ingredients that make this gluten-free and vegan, like flex meal, rice flour, and tapioca starch.

The result is a recipe that is fun to make, and works well as a family activity that can teach very young children about measurements and mixing, as well as using some basic kitchen equipment. Because the recipe uses ingredients that don’t require cooking to be edible (like carrots, apples, raisins) and don’t pose any health risk, unlike common muffin recipes that use eggs, the recipe is very worry-free when it comes to licking the bowl and spatula, putting messy hands in the mouth, or other types of ad hoc tasting that young chefs gravitate to.

One tip for making this into a smooth sailing assembly line is to use the food processor to do most of the work, and start by chopping carrots, followed by apple, then move to walnuts. Additionally, starting the flex meal vegan egg mix prior to all the chopping is a good idea as well. Finally, the mix will be sticky so do spray your muffin tin liners with some cooking spray. It will help peel the wraps off, and has minimal impact on fat content or the baking process.

This recipe makes 12 large muffins, and each muffin is very filling so you may want to start here and scale up if you find the muffins irresistible (which you will!). Do these muffins need frosting? I don’t think so, but if you’d like some then a frosting with a hint of orange zest would work really well and build on a bit of orange juice that I use in the batter.

Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins

What you’ll need (makes 12 muffins):

3 large carrots

1 Granny Smith apple

2/3 cup walnuts

2/3 cup raisins

2/3 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

2 tablespoons flex meal

6 tablespoons warm water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Mix flax meal with warm water and set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash and peel the carrots. Using a food processor grind the carrots to a fine grind. Put the ground carrots in a large mixing bowl. Core (but don’t peel) the apple. Grind it to a fine grind and add to the carrots. Next, grind walnuts to a fine meal. Add to carrots and apple mix.
  4. Add the flex meal that has by now become a very gooey and viscous to the carrot-apple-walnut mix. Continue to add the rest of the ingredients except the orange juice. Mix well and check for consistency. The mix should be soft and wet, but not so fluid that it runs from the spoon. Use orange juice to adjust and go easy as you may discover that you need to use more or less than 1/2 cup I list here. The total amount will depend a bit on how large and juicy your apple is!
  5. Leave the mix to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Line the bottom of your muffin tin with liners and spray with cooking spray. Fill them with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the mix.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes then check for doneness using a toothpick. If the inserted toothpick comes out dry, you are done. If not, proceed for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Take out of the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes. If you plan to frost them let them cool completely before taking the next step. For a good vegan frosting recipe you can try one that uses coconut oil and add some orange zest for add kick!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017