Friday, November 24, 2006

Almond Bliss Scones

JD decided he wanted to make a 20-pound turkey for Thanksgiving. Since we both live (separately) in apartments with tiny kitchens, we decided that he'd make all the non-vegan essentials--turkey, giblet gravy and stuffing (plus a small batch of vegan dressing), at his place, and I'd make all the other dishes vegan-friendly, at my place. We had agreed on a 6 pm dinner. But the turkey wasn't going to be done by then, so we pushed it back to 7 and I cooked all my dishes at a leisurely pace, watching a movie and relaxing as I prepped so that everything would be fresh and hot when the turkey was ready....when it wasn't done at 7, and I had already cleaned my kitchen, I decided to whip up a quick batch of scones, since the oven was already at the proper tempurature.

These scones feature almonds, coconut, and chocolate (like those candy bars), are a joy to make, but absolutely blissful to eat. I made similar scones for JD's family the first time I met them, and they all loved them. I've never met anyone who didn't like these, and a batch never lasts more than twenty four hours.

Almond Bliss Scones
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 6-9 scones
Baking time: 20-25 minutes

1 cup organic whole wheat or whole spelt flour
1 cup organic unbleached white flour or white spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch unrefined sea salt
1/2 cup safflower oil or vegan butter substitute such as Earth Balance or Soy Garden
1/2 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or organic unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/4 cup dairy-free, fair trade dark chocolate chips (or your favorite vegan chocolate bar, chopped)
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2-1 cup unsweetened soymilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In a separate large bowl, mix sweetener and oil or margarine with extracts. Add dry ingredients and mix until a sandy texture is reached. Add chocolate, almonds, coconut and mix well. Add 1/2 cup soymilk and stir gently. If dough is too dry add a bit more soymilk, being careful not to overmix.

Scoop by 1/4 cup scoops onto a stainless steel cookie sheet or glass baking dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.


I like to use the big coconut flakes, but you could use shredded coconut

This recipe is very easy to change. I like making cranberry coconut walnut scones, or chocolate pecan scones. Simply substitute 1/4 cup of up to three of your favorite ingredients in place of the coconut, almonds and/or the chocolate.

Great with coffee, tea or grain coffee as a light breakfast or for dessert.
The last bite

Sugar High Fridays: Pomegranate Truffles, Hazelnut Macadamia Truffles, and Peppermint Truffles

I am participating in my first blog event, Sugar High Fridays. I used a few of my tried and true vegan truffle recipes, and decided to create a new and unexpected recipe using a seasonal fruit, the pomegranate! In case you're unfamiliar, truffles are notoriously hard to veganize (by the way, if you're avoiding refined sugar, I have grain-sweetened truffle recipes, but I didn't have time to make any before the Sugar High Fridays deadline. Post a comment if you're interested).

The pomegranate truffles came out better than I could have imagined. The chocolate covered version is amazing: the center melts as soon as it enters your mouth, so when you take a bite, or press your tongue against it, the tart liquid explodes in your mouth, the coating collapses, and the only tangible thing you have is the rich chocolate coating, slowly melting away. I will definitely use this ganache recipe again for truffles, as a sauce for a simple cake and maybe even as a chocolate fondue. (It reminded me of something from Chocolat, and I told JD I thought it was sinfully sensual and sexy. He said he never understood why people considered chocolate "sexy". I balked. He said I was sexy, then proceeded to lick the ganache from my fingers--after I had finished rolling all the truffles-- and we both agreed that that was sexy.)

The cocoa/powdered sugar covered pomegranate truffles are lovely in a less in-your-face kind of way. The powdered sugar cuts the tartness a bit and makes the ganache a little bit more solid. For these I used Scharffen Berger 99% unsweetened chocolate and Valharona 61% chocolate. Please, use the recommended ingredients and the best quality you can find/afford as it really does make a difference.

I've made a small change to the instructions for the pomegranate truffles. I made them last week and the soymilk and pomegranate mixture curdled and tasted decidely less pomegrante-y. I will be retesting soon, but hopefully these updated instructions will fix that snafu.

Pomegranate Truffles
Christina Terriquez

For filling:
2 oz 99% unsweetened chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon organic raw, unrefined coconut butter
1 tablespoon pomegranate pekmez
1 tablespoon organic pomegranate jelly
1/2 cup organic, unsweetened soymilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt or drop of ume vinegar

For garnish:
2 oz 60-65% dairy-free chocolate, chopped
1/4 organic unrefined sugar, plus
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

In a double boiler, melt unsweetened chocolate with coconut butter and soymilk.

In a separate bowl, mix pekmez, jelly, salt and vanilla extract and stir thoroughly.

When chocolate is completely melted, carefully remove from heat and stir chocolate into pomegranate mixture and blend well. Refrigerate or freeze until ganache is firm enough to be handled (ten to twenty minutes in freezer).

Working quickly, roll ganache into balls by the teaspoon. Balls will be about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Place balls on a foil covered plate and freeze for about two minutes.

For chocolate covered truffles:
In a double boiler, melt half of the sweetened chocolate. Remove from heat, add half of the remaining chocolate and stir until melted. Add remaining chocolate and stir until melted. Working quickly, dip chilled ganache balls into melted chocolate and place on a foil covered plate.

For cocoa covered truffles:

Mix sugar and cocoa powder then blend in a food processor or blender.

Roll ganache balls in cocoa powder mix. You will need to roll each ball in cocoa a few times.

Hazelnut Macadamia Truffles
Christina Terriquez

For filling:
1/2 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips or 2 oz 60-65%
1 tablespoon organic raw, unrefined coconut butter
2 tablespoons raw macadamia nut butter
pinch of sea salt or drop of ume vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut or almond extract

For garnish:
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts or hazelnut meal

In a double boiler, melt chocolate with coconut butter and macadamia nut butter.

When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and add salt and extracts. Refrigerate or freeze until chocolate is firm enough to be handled (ten to twenty minutes in freezer).

Working quickly, roll chilled chocolate into balls by the teaspoon. Balls will be about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Roll balls, one by one in hazelnuts.

Note: Vary this recipe but using different nut butters and rolling in different nuts. Almond butter and toasted almonds work well.

Peppermint Truffles
Christina Terriquez

For filling:
1/2 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips or 2 oz 60-65%
1 tablespoon organic raw, unrefined coconut butter
pinch of sea salt or drop of ume vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For garnish:
2-3 tablespoons organic, unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons raw cacao nibs, chopped finely

In a double boiler, melt chocolate with coconut butter.

When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and add salt and extracts. Refrigerate or freeze until chocolate is firm enough to be handled (ten to twenty minutes in freezer).

Mix cocoa powder with cacao nibs in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Working quickly, roll chilled chocolate into balls by the teaspoon. Balls will be about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Roll balls, one by one in cocoa powder mixture. Balls may need to be rolled in cocoa powder more than once.

Note: These are great as after dinner mints.

Update on 11-26-2006: The (tempered chocolate covered) pomegranate truffles were definitely the favorite, with the hazelnut macadamia easily sliding in second. I was surprised that JD loved the pomegranate so much, especially considering how much he loves hazelnuts. The hazelnut macadamia truffles are lusciously creamy without being so soft that they need to be kept in the fridge, or covered in chocolate.

The peppermint truffles were just a bit dry, but that was my fault, I accidentally used a bit too much vanilla(the alcohol in most extracts seizes the chocolate a bit, which is essential for these recipes, but if you add too much, the chocolate will seize completely. Adding extra peppermint extract is generally fine because 1) it's so strong you can't really add very much and have the end product still be edible and 2) peppermint extract is usually made from peppermint essence and some kind of oil, so it is alcohol free. Rolling the truffles in cocoa powder without coating in tempered chocolate also dries them out, so I may amend this recipe to always cover in tempered chocolate, then roll in cocoa powder. I love the dark, only slightly sweet flavor you get when you roll directly in unsweetened cocoa powder, but I suppose I could retain that aspect if I used 80% chocolate.

Perfect Vegan Pecan Pie, Part 2: Pie Filling

Christina’s Perfect Vegan Pecan Pie
Christina Terriquez

Yield: One 9-inch pie
Baking time: 50-65 minutes

1 9-inch organic partially baked pie crust
1/4 cup organic unsweetened soymilk
½ cup organic silken or soft tofu
3/4 cup organic steamed or nishimi-style cooked Kabocha (HokaiddoPumpkin) squash
4 teaspoons organic safflower oil
1 ½ cups organic rice syrup, Lundberg Farms Organic recommended
1 pinch of SI sea salt
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 cup organic pecans toasted and finely chopped, plus
1-1 ½ cups organic whole toasted pecans for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Blend soymilk, tofu and squash until smooth using an immersion blender.

3. Boil safflower oil, rice syrup, and sea salt on medium heat until foamy (about 3-5 minutes).

4. Reserve 1/3 cup of rice syrup mixture.

5. Blend rice syrup mixture and squash mixture together.

6. Add chopped pecans and stir to incorporate.

7. Pour mixture into prepared, baked pie crust.

8. Arrange whole pecans on top of pie.

9. Gently use reserved rice syrup to glaze the pecans.

10. Bake pie for 55-85 minutes, until top is bubbly and pie is very aromatic.

11. Let pie cool thoroughly, about two hours or overnight. Enjoy!


Kabocha squash is really the best squash for this recipe since it is sweet and slightly dry but super creamy. I buy organic kabochas, seed and cut off any woody parts of the skin, but leave green skin on for the gorgeous color contrast. The skin melts in your mouth. If you are unable to find kabocha, you can substitute butternut or acorn, but please try kabochas if you ever find any, they are unbelievably good simply steamed with a pinch of sea salt. Canned pumpkin can also be substituted.

Traditional pecan pies are mostly eggs and dark karo syrup. In my adaptation, I've cut the amount of syrup down a bit, and taken out the eggs altogether. I always found pecan pie to be a bit too sweet for me. The squash and soy make up for the egg's absence and add a creamy richness. If you'll notice in the pictures, the glazing step makes all the difference in making this pie look like a pecan pie, and it also adds a nice crunch to the pecans.

Perfect Vegan Pecan Pie, Part 1: Pie Crust

All-Purpose Vegan Pie Crust
Christina Terriquez

Yield: One 9-inch pie shell
Baking time: 10 minutes

1 cup organic whole spelt flour or whole wheat flour
1 cup organic white spelt flour or unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
½-3/4 cup cold organic safflower oil
1/4 cup cold organic, unsweetened soymilk

1. Stir flours and salt together in a large bowl with a fork. Add oil, mixing with fork while pouring over dry ingredients. Mixture should resemble pea-sized crumbs when oil has been incorporated.

2. Add 1/4 cup soymilk and gently mix. If dough is too dry, add more soymilk 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Being careful not to knead, as kneading will develop gluten and make crust tough, form dough into a ball with hands.

3. Flatten dough into a 5-inch disk and place on a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper that measures at least 12 inches in diameter. Center a second sheet of paper of equal size, over the dough. Roll dough into 12-inch circle, pressing rolling pin against center of dough and pushing out towards edges. Turn dough and continue rolling until dough reaches desired size.

4. Remove and discard top sheet of paper. Center an inverted 9-inch pie plate over dough. Slide hand under remaining sheet of parchment paper and carefully invert paper, dough, and pie plate in one motion. Remove and discard parchment paper.

Press dough into edges of pie plate. Trim excess dough to within 1/4 inch of rim. Flute edge as desired.

5. The classic pinched flute edge: starting at the 3 o'clock point on the pie, use your right thumb and forefinger to pinch the rim of dough, while using your left thumb to press down the mound created, thus forming a small "v" shape. Rotate pie plate approximately 1 inch and continue until you've reached the end.

6. Prick bottom of crust, to keep it from bubbling up during baking, and pre-bake crust in a 350º oven for 10 minutes before adding filling, to keep it from becoming soggy.


The amount of liquid varies based on freshness of flour, humidity, and type of flour. Spelt flour does not absorb liquid as well as wheat flour does, so when you bake with spelt, you may need to reduce flour by as much as 1/4.

To ease rolling and avoid dryness, roll crust out as soon as it is made. I recommend making, rolling and partially baking crust all at once to avoid dry, cracked edges.

Parchment (or waxed paper) is essential to making this crust. Parchment enables you to easily roll the dough without adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your counter or cutting board, and it enables you to easily flip the crust into your pie plate. I use unbleached parchment.

The classic pinched flute edge is simple but seems impressive. It looks like you spent hours, but takes less than five minutes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Buy Nothing Day--Austin, TX

JD and I are trying to set up a Buy Nothing Day event.

The idea hatched from Austin's recent obsession with Zombie Flash Mobs. I thought that staging a zombie flashmob at the Arboretum Mall on Buy Nothing Day would be perfect in a sort of Dawn of the Dead-consumerist-metaclusterfuck.

However, when I read a certain article this morning about Austin's newest non-weird Swedish import, I thought Ikea would be a much better place to stage a braindead buyer flashmob....

But then JD suggested serving free food and the idea morphed into free cafe. Free food and drinks, free music, free poetry, free art. Anyone have any input/ideas/want to help out? Suggestions for where to hold it? A park seems ideal...but I do like the idea of giving free stuff away as an alternative to buying on that day.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Impromptu Middle Eastern Feast

A few weeks ago, JD, R and I went to the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market. It was a nice, warm, fall day, and we didn't need anything in particular. I wanted some greens, and JD wanted some of his favorite coffee. I picked up a beautiful mix of seasonal salad greens, R bought an Asian-inspired shirt, and JD got the coffee he wanted. After that, it was a quick stop at Hobby Lobby. Neither R or JD had ever been to one before they met me, and now they both love remains one of the few places we can can shop without JD complaining.

Once we arrived home, we were all hungry, and didn't have anything prepared. Suddenly, I remembered the chickpeas, red onion, dill, mint, parsley, and cucumber I had. I usually keep some Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Pita Bread in the freezer, and R had some super ripe tomatoes. That sounded like the makings for a feast of hummus, tabouli, and Greek salad to me!

Looking through the pantry, I noticed I didn't have any bulghur wheat, but I did have a mixture of red and white quinoa, which is whole grain(bulghur is a cracked grain), but it has a relatively short cooking time and doesn't require soaking or toasting for proper digestion like most larger whole grains. I started boiling water while I washed the quinoa. While that was boiling, I washed the greens I had just bought, plus some arugala that I already had on hand.

The purple parts were slightly iridescent, like the wings of a butterfly. I told you it was beautiful. I set the greens aside to dry, since dressings and sauces stick to greens better if the greens are dry--if greens are wet, the surfaces are already slick, and the dressing will slide right off.

I started chopping veggies, herbs and seasonings like mad. Red onion, cucumber, tomato, assorted Greek olives, dill, parsley, mint, lemon, watermelon radishes, and garlic. Half of the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, dill, and garlic ended going into the salad, along with the radishes and olives. First I marinated them with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar.

By that time, the quinoa was done, so I fluffed it up, and poured it into a serving bowl to cool for a bit while I made the hummus, so that the heat of the quinoa wouldn't cook the raw ingredients. I also put the frozen pitas into a 200 degree pre-heated oven for a few minutes at this point.

To make the hummus, I simply added about 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas, 1 tablespoon raw tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, two small cloves of minced garlic and a few springs of chopped parsley to a food processor with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a bit of sea salt.

I mixed placed the marinated vegetables over the bed of greens.

Then, while R and JD set the table, I mixed the remaining red onion, tomato and cucumber into the cooled quinoa along with some parsley, mint, capers, olive oil, lemon and garlic.

I put out some kalamata olives, green Greek olives, oil-cured black olives (my favorite), with some capers and a small bowl of leftover notcheese because I didn't have any of my homemade tofu feta, but the notcheese is so creamy and smooth it balances out the sharp bitter and pungent flavors of the salad . I cut the warm-from-the-oven pitas into quarters and we sat down to our feast.

This is my plate up close:

JD didn't eat any salad of course, but he stuffed himself full of pita, hummus and olives. I think that's kind of a perfect meal for him.

Create-Your-Own-Pizza and Chocolate Fondue

JD and I had been having pizza quite often. It's pretty easy if you use a few pre-made ingredients, it's super satisfying, and it can be really fun if everyone makes their own.

This particular time, R, my roommate was home, and so we invited her to eat with us. We had a make a "quick run" to Whole Foods for the crusts and my vegan notcheese. While we were there, I picked up some lacinto kale and we decided we wanted a decadent but simple fruit dessert. Thinking back to Valentine's Day, I suggested chocolate fondue, and JD heartily agreed.

We bought French Meadow's Yeast-Free Sourdough Crusts, Follow Your Heart's Montery Jack Flavored notcheese (they make a mozzarella version, but I like the mild, buttery flavor of the M. Jack although I don't know if it really tastes anything like jack, as I never tried it before going vegan) artichoke hearts, pine nuts, fresh basil, garlic, fresh shiitakes, unsweetened chocolate, hazelnut milk and an assortment of fresh fruit.

We already had some pizza sauce, black oil-cured olives, assorted greek olives, pepperoni, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano and olive oil.

This was my pizza before baking:

This was my pizza before adding basil and baking. I took one crust, spread on tomato-based pizza sauce, plus some fresh minced garlic, crumbled the notcheese all over, then added artichoke heart quarters, shiitakes tossed with a little shoyu, pine nuts and oil-cured black olives.

JD and R made their own pizzas, and I swear I took pictures, but I think my camera's more vegan than I am, because they didn't save. They used the non-vegan items I mentioned, as well as the ingredients I used.

While the pizzas were baking, I blanched some kale for myself (they didn't want any), cut the fruit, and made the chocolate fondue. We had pineapple, raspberries, braeburn apples, and strawberries:

For the chocolate fondue, I melted the chocolate in a makeshift double boiler and added a touch of vanilla extract and agave nectar and hazelnut milk until it was sweet and creamy enough for our tastes. The hazelnut milk added a subtle but recognizable nutty flavor that JD loved, but it wasn't as creamy as soymilk, and the end result was a bit thinner than I would have liked. JD has discovered that he loves hazelnut milk, though, and I think he'd use it on cereal instead of cow's milk.

Here's a picture of my dinner from that evening:

R had a lovely bottle of wine which she and I shared. The create-your-own pizzas were a hit, of course, and the pineapple was the favorite dipper for the chocolate fondue.