Easy vegan, almond-almond cookies

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I recently bought “Isa does it” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – it’s a recipe book chockablock full of delicious, doable vegan recipes. One of the first that I tried was her lemon-lemon cookies. They’re pretty much like crack. It’s impossible not to eat them all immediately and then crave another batch.

But I also happen to love almonds so I wanted to see if I could recreate Isa’s lemon-lemon cookies but with an almond flavour. And yup, I did it. These cookies are rich, nutty, chewy, crunchy and just as addictive as the lemon-y originals And, because there’s no lemon rind grating involved, these cookies are kinder on my knuckles too.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

For the cookies

½ cup coconut oil melted

¾ cup white sugar

3 Tbsp almond flour– toasted*

½ tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp almond milk

1 ½ cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cornstarch

For the icing

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

½ Tbsp melted margarine

1 Tbsp almond milk

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Direction

*To toast the almond flour, place it on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the flour in the oven at 400F for two minutes max. Not kidding – not one minute longer or it will burn! Remove immediately.

I have a toaster oven so I toasted the almond flour in the toaster oven. If you used your regular oven, turn the heat down on the oven to 350F. You may need to leave the oven door open for a minute to get the heat to drop.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sugar, coconut oil, almond extract, vanilla extract, and almond milk together until they are combined. Add the toasted almond flour and stir to combine. Sift in the cornstarch and baking powder and then add the flour and stir to combine.

Use a teaspoon to drop the cookie dough in mounds onto the cookie sheet. You can use the back of the spoon or your fingers to flatten the cookies down slightly. I can get 15 cookies from this recipe.

Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden.

Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a plate or cooling rack so you can drizzle on the icing.

To make the icing, combine all the icing ingredients in a small bowl or cup. The icing will be drizzly. Use a spoon to pour over the cookies, and while the icing is still wet, sprinkle on any garnish you might want or leave plain.

Let the icing set and serve up! Enjoy.

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It’s been a stormy, icy weekend here and almond-almond cookies, a good book and some kitty snuggles made it really quite perfect.

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Isa Chandra’s dilly stew with dumplings

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I have never eaten stew with dumplings but when I saw the recipe and enticing photo in Isa Chandra’s cookbook Isa Does it, I had to make them. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of these little fluffy lumps of dough floating in a savoury stew but my tummy figured out pretty quickly that this was a great thing. Isa’s recipe takes about one hour from start to finish and is really very straightforward. I embellished a little by adding extra veggies, but essentially this is how Isa does it.

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Ingredients

For the stew

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

¼ cup flour

1 medium onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

2 ribs celery

2 carrots cut into coins or half moons

1 ½ cups cooked navy beans (that’s a 15oz can drained and rinsed)

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes cut into chunks (2 medium potatoes)

½ cup frozen or fresh peas

½ cup cremini mushrooms chopped

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)

2 Tbsp fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried – but seriously try to get fresh for this one)

½ tsp paprika

1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

For the dumplings

1 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped) OR 1 tsp poultry seasoning

¾ cup unsweetened plant milk (almond, soy etc)

2 Tbsp olive oil

 

Directions

Melt the margarine on medium heat in a large, wide pot that has a tightly fitting lid. Add the flour and heat through to make a soft roux – stir constantly for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour taste but without burning the roux. Add the onions and garlic and sauté together for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and stir constantly using a whisk so that the flour is incorporated evenly and lump free.

Add all the other ingredients and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking. The stew is done when it’s nicely thickened and the potatoes and carrots are easily pierced with a fork.

While the stew is simmering, make the dumpling batter.

In a small bowl, sift in the dry ingredients. Okay, not going to sift? At least sift in the baking powder so you don’t end up with salty, crystalline lumps in your batter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir everything to combine – you will have a rather ugly looking batter and that’s okay.

 

dough

It’s not pretty, and I was very dubious about this whole dumpling thing at this point.

 

When the stew is done simmering, drop the batter by spoonfuls on top of the hot stew. I got 16 dumplings that completely covered the top of the stew.

Put the lid on the stew pot and let the pot simmer for another 14 minutes. No peeking! It’s the steam in the pot that cooks the dumplings. They will puff up and be nice and firm to the touch when they’re cooked, but will be cakelike on the inside.

 

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Here are the dumplings after steaming. At this point I was REALLY wondering what I had done. But ladle up a dumpling and some stew on top, dig in and it’s savoury heaven!

 

Ladle the stew and dumplings out in a bowl. This dish makes 4 very satisfying servings and will last up to 3 days in the fridge. It makes great, microwavable leftovers.

 

Dumpling stew

You end up with this, and this is DELICIOUS!

 

The first and still the best vegan cheese I ever made

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In the first week of my vegan journey, I craved some creamy cheese. I bought a store-made brand and after one taste, dumped the whole tub. That chemically, chalky glop tasted like something that had been made by people who had never had cream cheese.

A quick google search didn’t bring me much luck either – I wanted cream cheese NOW not after eight hours of soaking cashews.

This is what I came up with and it’s still one of the best vegan cheeses ever. It’s so popular with my tribe that my friend, Cathy, specifically requests it for her birthday gift.  This recipe is nearly instant, easy and simple. And best of all, it’s delicious.

Let’s get started.

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Ingredients

¾ cup raw cashews

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

2 tablepoons nutritional yeast

2-4 tablespoons water (I used 4 today for a very spreadable cheese).

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Directions

Put everything in a blender and whiz until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple times.

Serve with crackers, rye toast, slices of apple or tomato.

 

 

Moroccan lentil soup

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The LA Times reported that the top food trends for 2018 spotted on Pinterest include Moroccan cuisine, plant-based proteins and soup. So here’s an on trend recipe that’s easy to make and delicious. It’s also ridiculously good for you with garlic, ginger, turmeric and iron-and-fibre-rich lentils.

My first thought when I encountered this recipe, which is from Healthy Starts Here, was “This is just weird enough to work.” And it certainly does with a hint of tanginess, a touch of sweetness from the apricots and mellow spices.

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Ingredients

1 tbsp canola or peanut oil

2 onions diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1-2 inches of ginger root peeled and grated

3 stalks of celery sliced

1 cup of red lentils

1 cup of water

4 cups of vegetable broth

28 oz can diced tomatoes

8 dried apricots

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

¼ tsp allspice

Optional but awesome – a cup of fresh kale, chard or spinach torn to bite sized pieces.

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You can add some fresh leafy greens for extra colour, texture and nutrition.

Directions

Measure out your spices and have the garlic and ginger prepped.

Sauté the onion and celery in a very large pot for about 5 minutes until the onion gets a bit golden. Add the spices, garlic and ginger and stir for another minute, heating everything through. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

If you’re adding any leafy greens, add them after the soup is done cooking, but while it’s still hot. You want to wilt, but not cook the greens.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings and freezes well. I love it with warm pita bread.

 

Beet, carrot and clementine slaw. So pink. So good.

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 Does anyone else notice their tastes change through the seasons? We’re in the heart of a Canadian winter now and I just cannot get enough of root vegetables and cabbages, kale and broccoli. Perhaps they just happen to be the most appetizing produce available this time of year or maybe our dietary needs really do change with the rhythm of the year.

This salad is earthy and delicious but also sunshine-y with a bit of spice. It’s perfect for brightening up the still-too-short winter days.

 I used a food processor but you could make this dish using a grater and a good knife.

 Let’s get started!

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Ingredients

2 large beets cleaned and peeled.

2 medium or 3 carrots cleaned

2 Tbsp raisins (any type) OR 2 dates with the stones removed

1 shallot peeled

2 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1/4 of a lemon)

½ Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp garam marsala

¼ tsp ground ginger

2-3 clementine or mandarin oranges

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Directions

 Whiz the raisins, shallot, and clementines (or mandarin oranges) in a food processor. You’ll end up with a pulp. Remove this pulp and place it in a medium-sized bowl. Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry, garam masala, ground ginger and maple syrup and blend to make the slaw dressing.  

In the same food processor – no need to clean it – switch the blade to finely grate the carrots and beets. 

Add the grated veggies to the salad dressing and toss to combine. You’ll have a furiously fuchsia salad! 

Serve up and enjoy. This dish will last for 3 days in the fridge.

 

Smoky, vegan pea soup

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There’s something very homey and comforting about a bowl of pea soup on a cold winter day. I remember my mother making pea soup that started with the leftovers of a ham – leg bone and all – simmering in a pot and imparting its rich, smoky flavour.

But today we have liquid smoke and smoked paprika to the rescue. Pigs and vegans rejoice!

This recipe is fast, easy and will last for 3-4 days in your fridge. In fact, it’s even better the next day.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

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2 Tbsps. oil

1 medium onion diced

2 medium carrots cut into quarter moons or diced

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup yellow split peas

1– 3 Tbsps. red lentils (the more you add the thicker your soup will be).

½ tsp salt or to taste

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp liquid smoke

 

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The more red lentils you add, the thicker your soup will be. I used 2 tablespoons of red lentils and can stand a spoon up in the soup when it’s cold.

Directions

In a medium-sized pot, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil until the onions are translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for one hour until the split peas are tender.

Optional – I like to use a hand blender and give the soup a brief whiz just to make it creamier while still retaining its chunkiness.

Enjoy!

p.s. This soup is wonderful with some crispy fried Sham.

 

Sham or scam – it’s a pigless ham

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Here’s one of the most ridiculously easy and delicious seitan recipes you’re ever going to find. With the investment of just a couple dollars for ingredients and a little more than 2 hours of your time (most of which will be spent watching Netflix while the sham/scam bakes), you’ll end up with a beauty of a faux ham that easily serves 4-5 people.

I had my sham/scam for dinner with sauerkraut and potatoes because I was feeling exuberantly German one night. The next night, still feeling all Teutonic, the sham/scam accompanied a pea soup (recipe to follow).

This recipe, created by Courtney Oliverez, is pretty forgiving and flexible. If you want to substitute in different spices or sweeteners go for it. Just do not play around with the cooking time or temperature or the amount of vital wheat gluten.

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Ingredients

Mix in a blender

14 oz can beets, juice and all (not pickled beets)

½ cup water

3-4 Tbsp brown sugar (I find 3 tablespoons is plenty but if you think you want it sweeter, go for the full 4 tablespoons). You could also try maple syrup for a deeper flavour. I haven’t done this yet.

¼ cup olive oil (or peanut oil)

3 Tbsp liquid smoke (yes, that seems like a lot but trust me on this).

2 Tbsp onion powder

2 Tbsp garlic powder (or as I discovered, 1 Tbsp garlic powder and one clove garlic work too)

3 Tbsp miso (either red or white)

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp sea or kosher salt (Measure this. With the amount of miso already in this recipe, your sham/scam can end up pretty salty very quickly if you over do the salt)

½ to 1 tsp pepper (preferrably white)

Mix in a large bowl

2 cups vital wheat gluten

¼ cup chickpea flour, almond flour or regular flour

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Directions

Pour the blender ingredients into the bowl of flour. Combine everything with a spoon or your hands (I use my hands). You will end up with a very unappetizing pink and brain-like bowl of goop. Oh boy!

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The unappetizing brain-like dough. 

Let this mix stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325F.

After 15 minutes, lay a large sheet of heavy duty tin foil out on your counter. Place the dough mix on the foil and shape into an oval loaf. Wrap the dough thoroughly and tightly but leaving a bit of room for the dough to expand. I like to double wrap my seitan, and if you’re not using heavy duty foil, I strongly recommend you double wrap, making sure all the seams are sealed.**

At this point I like to “burp the baby”. Pat and smack the dough to help spank out air bubbles because you do not want an airy, bready loaf.

Place the wrapped dough on a sheet and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool. Seitan is always best if it’s allowed to cool for a minimum of 8 hours in the fridge, but I have to be honest, I almost always eat a slice of sham/scam as soon as it’s cool enough to handle because it’s that good

Out of the oven

Here’s my sham/scam right out of the oven and unwrapped — a fragrant thing of dubious beauty!

** What’s with all the security?? Seitan can explode in the oven if it’s not wrapped well. By the way, that is not my photo; I haven’t experienced the seitanic explosion yet.

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A seitanic explosion caused by poorly wrapped dough. Don’t let this happen to you.