My swoonworthy caramel apple tarts

This has been a long, warm autumn and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, especially the apples. I grew up with apple trees in our backyard and never touched the fruit except to have to rake up all those heavy, roly-poly apples. But this year, I cannot get enough and I’m eating apples by the peck! Yes, the peck.

Here’s my latest ode to the autumn and all its warm, bright sights and flavours: caramel apple tarts.


12 vegan tart shells (in Ontario, use President’s Choice no-name brand, ready made shells or make your own tart shells – there are tons of great vegan pie crust recipes out there. Making pastry is not my fave thing to do)

For the caramel

¼ cup vegan margarine

¾ cup loosely packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp plant milk (I used almond milk)

2 Tbsp corn starch

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the apple filling

½ cup raisins

1 small apple (I used macintosh) peeled, cored and diced finely

2 tsp real maple syrup

½ tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground cardamom


Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Arrange your tart shells on a cookie tray.

For the caramel

Using a hand mixer or spoon – mix together the caramel ingredients until you have a creamy, lump-free sauce. Set aside.

For the apple filling

In a small bowl, stir together the apple filling ingredients until the apples and raisins are well coated.

Spoon an equal amount of the apple filling into each tart shell (about 1 ½ tsp per shell). Then spoon an equal amount of the caramel over the apple filling (about a generous tablespoon per tart).

Bake for 30-35 minutes. They are done when the tart shell is slightly golden and the filling is bubbling. The tarts are extremely hot when they come out of the oven so let them cool for a while before handling them. Serve them up as is, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream…. or some other decadence (and please do tell me about that!).

These tarts can be frozen for a month or two.

Kaleslaw – crispy, crunchy, creamy, tangy and chewy


Kaleslaw has been my go-to salad all winter. Thanks to affordable, mixed bags of already shredded kale, cabbage, broccoli and Brussel sprouts, I can make this salad in less than 10 minutes and it will last for several days in the fridge. It also travels well in packed lunches.

For a burst of bright colour and extra nutrients and flavour, I sometimes peel and shred in a raw beet too.



For the salad

4 cups of shredded mixed kales, cabbage, broccoli and Brussel sprouts

1 granny smith apple cored and diced, but not peeled

1 rib of celery sliced

¼ cup raisins (optional)

¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 raw beet, peeled and shredded (optional)

For the dressing

1/3 to ½ cup vegan mayonnaise

¼ cup plain vegan yogurt

The juice of ½ lemon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

½ tsp salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

A few grinds of pepper

kaleslaw beets.jpg

Adding a shredded beet gives the kaleslaw extra crunch and nutrients and a gorgeous colour.


Mix all the dressing ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add the salad ingredients and toss to combine. This salad is even better if left to sit for an hour or more to let the flavours combine.

kaleslaw super close.jpg

Thug Kitchen’s Apple Baked Beans

Finishedbowl1.jpgThese “baked” beans are a misnomer since they’re cooked entirely on the stovetop. That means, though, that they’re a great dish to make all year round. They’re tangy, sweet and just a little bit different thanks to the addition of diced apple and fresh rosemary.

I follow the Thug’s recipe faithfully except for a few tweaks: maple syrup, liquid smoke and salt (don’t add the salt ‘til the end; you may not need it). Here’s their recipe, tidied up a bit for delicate sensibilities (that would not be mine) and with photos, which are not in the cookbook.

There is some overnight prep involved – read the recipe all the way through!



1 ½ cups dried white beans (I use a mix of navy beans and Great Northern beans)

2 tsps olive oil

½ onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp liquid smoke

15 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp molasses

2 Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsps soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp sea salt (optional)

1 sprig rosemary (sprig should be about 6-8” long)

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 medium apple washed but not peeled, cored and cut into pieces about the size of your pinky fingertip. I use either a Granny Smith or Macintosh apple.


Soak the beans in a big bowl of water for 8 hours. I soak my beans in the fridge overnight.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it’s starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and paprika and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add the drained beans, tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, maple syrup (or brown sugar), liquid smoke, vegetable broth and rosemary. Stir it all up. This is the “witch’s brew” stage or as the Thug’s say it will look like you’re “trying to cast a spell or some shit”.


Simmer this all together for about 1 hour. The leaves will have fallen off your rosemary so just fish out the remaining twig.

At this point, taste the beans and add salt, if you want.

Stir in the chopped apple and simmer for about another 30 minutes.

Serve up immediately. This dish will last for 4 days in the fridge and freezes well. It makes 4 extremely filling servings.


Fennel and apple soup – elegant and satisfying


Now that autumn weather is definitely here, it’s soup season. This fennel and apple soup is easy to make, has a rich taste and texture and is elegant enough for company.

There are two recipes in one here – one for the soup and another for the cashew cream.

Soup ingredients

1 bulb fennel cleaned and diced (reserve some fronds for garnish)

1 large apple cored, peeled and diced

1 shallot sliced

1 rib celery sliced

2 cups of vegetable stock

the juice of ½ lemon

salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper)

1 tsp Dijon mustard (I used grainy mustard)

1 cup cashew cream (see below)*


Place the fennel, apple, shallot, celery, stock and salt and pepper in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.

When the vegetables are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork, turn off the heat and blend the soup mixture. I use a hand-held immersion blender, but you can also use a regular blender, working in batches.

Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard and cashew cream and stir together. Taste and adjust the salt, if needed.

Serve with a bit of fennel frond for garnish.

Makes 4 servings. The soup will last for up to 3 days in the fridge.

*Ingredients and directions for the cashew cream

1 cup raw cashews

2/3 cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

¾ tsp salt

Soak the raw cashews in water for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Drain the cashews and blend in a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients. The cream will thicken as it sits and will last in your fridge for up to 3 days. You will have about 1 ½ cups of cashew cream – more than you need for the fennel and apple soup – so reserve the remaining amount to have with borscht or perogies or natchos/tacos or wherever else you’d use sour cream.

Hasselback apples – apple, caramel and a nutty crunch.


A couple years ago, everyone was making hasselback potatoes. Now it’s hasselback apples. This is my vegan version.

So what’s a hasselback? It refers to slicing a potato, or in this case apple, in thin slices almost all the way through but not quite. The final effect reminds me of a little hedgehog or armadillo.

This hasselback potato.pngis a hasselback potato – you can see how it’s sliced, ready to impress.

We’re going to do the same thing to an apple, then drizzle it with a delicious sauce that turns into caramel as it bakes. Oh yeah.

Hasselback apples look fancy schmancy but they’re really just an apple cobbler all dressed up for a party.

I’m giving you the proportions for one apple and you can easily scale up the recipe from there.


1 apple – I used a yellow delicious.

1½ Tbsp vegan margarine

1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp rolled oats

1 Tbsp chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds (optional). I used chopped pecans.



Heat your oven to 400F.

Peel the apple and cut it in half. Carefully remove the core; if you have a melon baller, that’s an ideal tool to use. You want the apple half to remain intact. Place the apple half cut side down and slice ¼ inch wide slices into the apple almost all the way through but not quite. You should be able to fan the slices open, but not have the apple fall apart.* Repeat with the second apple half.

Grease a small oven-safe dish and place the hasselbacked apple halves into the dish.

Melt ½ tablespoon margarine with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Spoon this mixture evenly over the apple halves.

Cover and bake the halves for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients together to create a streusel crumble mixture. After the apples have baked for 10 minutes, spoon this mixture evenly onto the apples. You can try to get the mixture down between the slices, but it’s not necessary.

Bake for another 10 minutes uncovered.

Serve each hasselback apple with the now carmelized brown sugar-cinnamon sauce spooned over top. Seriously – all that stuff that’s in the bottom of the baking dish, scoop it up and put it back on the apple and eat it.

Serve the apples with vegan ice cream – I’m a huge fan of So Delicious (cashew-based) brand – and a drizzle of maple syrup.

*Oh oh! I sliced too far. My apple fell apart. Now what? Not to worry. Just break the apple up into chunks and bake it in a ramekin. It will be a mini-cobbler instead of a hasselback and just as delicious either way!

The reincarnation of the Waldorf Salad


When a good Waldorf Salad dies, it comes back in its next life as this salad. Gone are the eggy mayonnaise and whipping cream. Instead you get all the Waldorf deliciousness and crunch with a halo of compassionate goodness.


½ bunch of kale (about 4 cups) cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces. If you don’t like or have kale, raw spinach is an excellent replacement.

1 red apple cored and diced. A red delicious apple is ideal.

1 cup of grape halves

1 stalk of celery diced

Sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts for garnish (optional)


¼ cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayo-style dressing

¼ cup unsweetened, plain vegan yogurt (Yoso is my chosen brand)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

Few grinds of pepper

1 tsp Dijon mustard


Place the kale, apple, celery and grapes in a salad bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or mug and pour over the salad. Toss to combine and serve. Garnish with sunflower seeds or walnuts, if you like. Enjoy!