Esther’s Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Esthers Brownies 3

Here’s a recipe from Esther’s Kitchen (Esther being none other than media phenomena and fashionista Esther the Wonder Pig) that is so easy, versatile and forgiving, I have to share it.

Esther’s chef, Linda, tried these brownies 11 different ways – each way being equally delicious I’m sure.

Then I tried the recipe two more ways. Again, all fabulously delicious!

The best part – you just bung everything into a food processor or mixing bowl and hand mix, then pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan and bake. You end up with dense, moist, chocolatey and spicy brownies that satisfy.

Here’s Esther’s Kitchen’s original recipe post:

This recipe has been tested using the following choices: almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dairy-free butter, coconut oil, almond flour, all purpose flour and gluten-free baking flour blend. Each one tasted great and had unique flavors. All of the ingredients resulted in a moist brownie that held together well. The brown rice syrup had the least amount of sweetness. This batch was baked with almond butter, almond flour, coconut oil and agave.

Esther’s Pumpkin Brownies

Cuisine: Esther Approved Dessert, Baked Good, Gluten-free and Nut-free options

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 25 minutes Cool Time: 15 minutes Yields: 12 (3”x3”) brownies

By: Chef Linda | Esther’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin from a 15 oz can or homemade and excess water drained
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond, peanut or seed butter (almond was used)
  • 2 Tablespoons softened coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup (agave was used)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice: almond, gluten free baking blend or all purpose (almond was used)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar Instructions

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Line an 8“ x 8“ baking dish with parchment paper. Press the paper alond the bottom edge and all 4 corners; set aside.

3. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor. Use an electric hand mixer or process in the food process until the batter is smooth.

4. Pour all of the batter in the center of the parchment lined baking dish. Scrape out remaining batter from the bowl or food processor. Spread the batter into the corners until you have a level surface.

5. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes. Cool the brownies on a metal rack for 15 minutes.

6. Pull up two sides of paper and lift the brownie out of the pan. Place the paper and brownie on a cutting board. Slice the brownie into 9 pieces or as desired.

Here’s what Chef Linda’s brownies look like.

Esther brownies

I hope you give this amazingly versatile recipe a try and make it your own! The key is to know where you can make swaps:

  • the type of flour
  • the type of oil
  • the type of nut/seed butter
  • the types of sweetener, and
  • the spices.

You can also try add ins such as chocolate chips, walnuts or pecans, even diced candied fruit.

Just do not mess with the proportions of ingredients because that’s where the chemistry is.

Here’s one of my versions:

I used, pumpkin, regular flour, a mix of maple syrup and agave, coconut oil, tahini paste instead of a nut butter, and added a cup of chocolate chips and a big pinch of cayenne pepper. This batch was made in the food processor.

Esthers Browniew mine

For my next batch, I diverged and used: mashed banana and no pumpkin, regular flour, the full amount of coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup only 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon cardamon. I also added a cup of chocolate chips because it’s chocolate and more is more.

Esthers Brownies 3

Why are you still reading? Go make some brownies!!

 

 

 

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Massaman Curry – all the flavour without the heat

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Esther the Wonder Pig’s executive chef (Yeah, I know right? She has her own chef!) recently posted a recipe for Massaman curry. I had never heard of this dish – a fragrant, comforting, delicious stew originating in the Malaysian peninsula. While Esther is a pig of delicate tastes, I like my foods spicy and flavourful. We both agree that Massaman curry is best made vegan.

This curry is very straightforward to make and in less than 1 hour – from start to finish – you will be sitting down to a restaurant-worthy meal.

Do not let the long list of ingredients daunt you. You probably have most of the ingredients already on hand.

MassalmanCurryIngredients.jpg

Ingredients

1 pound yellow potatoes (about 2-3 potatoes), washed, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion cut into 6 pieces

3 carrots cut into coins

3 cloves garlic minced

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp Chinese 5-spice powder

I Tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1 piece of star anise

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

400 ml (13 oz) can coconut milk

2/3 cup vegetable broth

½ Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

¼ cup peanut butter (please only use the kind that is just peanuts and oil – no brands full of added sugar and chemical brands)

½ cup whole, unsalted peanuts

MasalmanCurry2.jpg

Directions

In a medium sized pot, heat the oil. Sauté the ginger, garlic, 5-spice powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves and cumin to heat the spices through (this step helps release the flavours).

Add the broth, salt, coconut milk, star anise, maple syrup (or brown sugar) and curry paste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer covered for about 20 minutes. You want the potatoes to be cooked through.

Fish out the piece of star anise; it’s done its work.

Add the peanut butter and peanuts and stir until the peanut butter is combined. You will have a thick, creamy sauce.

Serve on brown, basmati or jasmine rice. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Fettuccini Alfredo – the best vegan recipe of all time

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Okay. Ready? This is it. The best vegan recipe ever. Ever.

It’s easy, simple, fast, no-fail and delicious. Luckily for me it was also one of the first vegan recipes I ever tried and still my favourite.

Make this dish and thank me later for spreading the joy.

The recipe comes from Deborah Gleason, Esther the Wonder Pig’s first chef.

Ingredients

12 to 16 oz pasta – I use spaghettini because it cooks in six minutes. If you use less pasta, you have a saucier dish, which suits me just fine.

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup raw cashew pieces

3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 ½ to 2 tsp sea salt (I use 2 teaspoons because I don’t salt my pasta water)

A few grinds pepper

387ml can coconut milk

Directions

This recipe takes as long to make as it takes to cook your pasta. Seriously. That’s what? 10 minutes max., right?

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and put in a large serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, put all your other ingredients in a blender. Blend until you have a creamy sauce. Pour over the hot pasta, toss to combine and serve. That’s it.

Taste and swoon.

I love this dish served with broccoli and green peas on the side or stirred right in.

Chickpea mini muffins with lemon tahini sauce

ChickpeaMuffins

These little cuties are savoury and satisfying. I love them served on a bed of millet with lemon tahini sauce and a big side salad.

The original recipe is from Esther’s Kitchen (Esther being the Wonder Pig). I have made a few alterations and embellishments to the original recipe to amp up the flavour because that’s how I like it. Feel free to leave out any of the seasonings –the herbs, garlic, shallot/green onion or salt as you prefer…. But why? Why?

You can eat these muffins hot or cold, they’re portable so they make a great snack or breakfast on the go, and they’re easy and affordable. What’s not to love?

Ingredients for the muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins

2 cups of chickpea flour – also called besan or gram flour

2 cloves garlic minced

2 shallots diced OR 3 green onions chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped

1 Tbsp fresh dill chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 cup water

Directions

Heat the oven to 400F. Grease a mini muffin tin.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until everything is incorporated and moist. Spoon into the muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes. The muffins should be golden on top when they’re done.

Ingredients for the lemon tahini sauce

1/3 cup hot water

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup tahini

Directions

Mix everything together in a small glass or bowl. Whisk until well blended and spoon over the muffins.

 

Permission from a pig

EstherAnyone who knows me knows that I have fallen in love with Esther the Wonder Pig. This social media superstar is a real pig – who, just three years ago, as a tiny piglet, somehow escaped the horrific factory farm system and made her way to Steve and Derek, two men with hearts as wide open and big as the sky.

 
Steve and Derek quickly realized a couple things:
1) Esther was no family-pet-style mini-pig. She was a commercial pig, bred to grow quickly and become food.
2) Esther was not food. She was family, part of the brood of pets in Steven and Derek’s Toronto home.

 
Because she was not food, Steven and Derek questioned what else they had considered to be food.
They knew the dark side of the world’s industrialized factory farming, but had never really delved into it. Now they did. Within weeks of Esther joining their clan, Steve and Derek became vegan. Esther and all animal-based foods were literally no longer on the table.

 
And then Steven and Derek, affectionately called the Dads, did all manner of brave and outrageous things.

 
Esther became the “spokes pig” for their message of veganism and kindness to all creatures on earth. The Dads began to share photos of their giant house pig (Esther is now 700 pounds) along with witty, heartwarming and engaging comments on social media. Esther now has an ardent global following of almost half a million people and has inspired many people – me included – to adopt a vegan diet.

 
Keeping Esther in her Toronto home was a municipal violation. So the Dads decided to open an animal sanctuary called Happily Ever Esther. They crowdfunded the purchase of a farm and raised far more than the $400,000 they were asking for – all from strangers.

 
Esther and her dads have been in the news and on the news all over the world. Celebrities have come to visit her. People flock to see her, make donations and passionately share her story.

 
I’ve wondered often what has made Esther the Wonder Pig such an incredibly popular phenomena. After all, there are loads of cute animals on social media. There’s a ton of funny stuff too, and vegan recipes and calls to action against animal cruelty abound on the internet. So what is the magic of Esther and her Dads?

 
I believe it’s the permission they give us. The permission we rarely are given (or take!) to be ourselves.
To love openly.
To be vulnerable.
To ask for help.
To be kind and generous.
To care desperately.
To be authentic.
To be different.
To be brave.
To dream.
To challenge the status quo.
To embrace and welcome others.

 
It’s a marvelous gift. And when you receive it and open it up, you automatically pass it on to others.

 
So wave your freak flags, love and shine on!