Cooling Desserts for Lingering Evenings

June is here. Firefly season in Vermont. Lupines blooming blue next to ox-eye daisies.

The angelica, black cohosh and feverfew plants tower over the garden, delighted to be its protectors.

Last fall's potatoes are sprouting: it's time to plant them.

The soil is warm enough for winter squash seeds to sprout and peas are almost a foot tall.

At our homestead on Sparrow Farm Road, this is the time we await with delight. 

Whatever summer looks like for you, soak in it.

Sit with the evening and let yourself become absorbed in the pink light as it slowly gives way stars.

Find local raspberries ans strawberries to make an amazing topping for this vegan cheesecake.

Hawai'i Inspiration: Vegan Cheesecake

Recipe by Ani Phyo - courtesy of Alessandra Jann-Jordan

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts (or almonds)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates

  • 1/4 shredded coconut

Chop nuts and dates into small pieces.

Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Mix well.

'Flour' bottom of 9 inch spring form pan with shredded coconut. 

Press crust evenly on bottom.

For the filling:

  • 3 cups cashews

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup honey (or pitted dates)

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • Water as needed

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth cream.

Add water as needed to make a smooth, thick batter - like pancake batter.

Smooth into pan and place into freezer until firm - about 12 hours. 

Before serving, defrost on a plate 1/2 hour.

Top with fresh, chopped raspberries and strawberries.

Enjoy!

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Healthy Eating Inspiration from India

When I was traveling through Northern India, I spent as much time as possible absorbing the aromas, textures, flavors, and cooking techniques of roadside vendors and food kiosks.

It is amazing to get to watch food prepared in a way that's so connected to cultural creativity.

Try these recipes and food meditation, inspired by the healing culinary gifts of India.

Aloo Saag – Potatoes and Spinach

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into chunks

  • ½ tsp each: salt, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 2 cups spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and spices.

Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more.

Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan.

Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken and rice.

Ghee

Ghee, or clarified butter, is unsalted butter that has been separated from its water and milk proteins. When heated, butter will separate into three layers: the casein, a frothy layer on top; the clarified butterfat--the ghee--in the middle; and the milk solids, and proteins in the bottom.

Heat 1 lb. of unsalted butter in a stainless steel stock pot. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low.

Fetch a small bowl and spoon.

Stay with the butter, skimming the foamy white casein that rises to the surface with the spoon.  Repeat the skimming process for about 15 minutes, or until the ghee has stopped making any bubbling sounds.

Remove from heat immediately. Strain through a fine mesh tea strainer or cheesecloth into a glass mason jar. This process removes leftover milk solids. Ghee can be used to cook for people who are lactose intolerant.

Allow it to cool completely before closing.

Ghee stores at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

Home-Made Pasta and Sauce

As the holidays approach, I think of cooking with my father and grandmother. Because I had the great privilege of being raised with food, I now make it my passion every day.

I like to make pasta with friends and family. With a bit of team effort, the process is more smooth and rewarding. Be patient, have fun, and remember that you can always roll out your dough again if the noodles are too sticky or crumbly. 

I have created a lot of different sauces to accompany home-made pasta. This is my current favorite.


CASHEW CREAM SAUCE

You will need:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews - ground in a food processor

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, nutmeg, thyme

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 cup milk (almond, hemp, rice, or cow)

Whisk all ingredients together in a small pot.

Heat through and serve!

To thicken, cook it down on low heat for 15 minutes.

Get creative! Add crushed garlic, grated carrots, or a bunch of fresh, minced parsley.

Watch this video to see how it's done.


HOME-MADE PASTA DOUGH

You will need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup rye flour

  • 1 cup spelt flour

  • cornmeal for dusting

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons water

Prepare the dough by mixing everything but the egg in a large bowl. 

Make a well in the center, crack the eggs into it and whisk them together. Add oil and water and whisk a bit more. 

Then, slowly incorporate the flour into the the egg mixture. 

Once the dough is moist but not sticky (add another tablespoon of water if you need to), knead it a bit, but not too much. You want to develop the gluten but not over-work the dough, which makes it rubbery.

After kneading, shape it into a ball, place it in the bowl, and cover it with a cloth. Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Now, you are ready to roll! 

Start by pulling off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Flatten it into a rectangle. Either roll it out on a cutting board covered with cornmeal or use a pasta machine to flatten it.

If the dough starts to feel sticky, sprinkle with cornmeal. 

Once the dough is fairly thin (about 1/4 inch), run it through the cutting rollers on your pasta machine or loosely roll the pasta into a tube and dust it with cornmeal. Then, slice the rolls with a sharp knife.

This is a great moment for teamwork! Have people feeding the pasta through the machine, others who are catching it on the other side, still others who are checking on the sauces and water bubbling away on the stove.

Transfer the noodles to a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. You can hang them to dry and freeze them or throw them into salted boiling water to cook. Noodles are done when they float to the of the boiling water.

Enjoy with cashew cream sauce or make this wholesome 'no-mato' sauce if you can’t digest tomatoes.

You can also try your hand at spelt squash gnocchi

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Chocolate Pie

This wonderfully delicious pie is raw, gluten-free, and rich in protein and natural sweetness from dates and maple syrup.

It's a great alternative to Halloween candy, too.

You can watch this video to learn how to make it with me.

CHOCOLATE PIE

For the crust:

  • 6 dates, pitted, soaked briefly in hot water, and drained

  • 1 cup almonds

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Blend these all in the food processor.

Grease a pie dish with sunflower oil or coconut oil.

Flatten crust into the bottom and sides of the dish.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup cashews, blended in food processor

  • 1 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

  • 1 spoonful coconut butter

  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds as a topping

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Spread filling over crust and sprinkle chopped almonds over the top.

Chill for at least half an hour and enjoy!

If you prefer a hot pie, you can bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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