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

Masalmancurry.jpg

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!

 

 

 

 

Red lentil dal – dishing up some red hot love

redlentildal

I love Indian food, and lucky me, I got to spend a month in the south of India partaking of some of the best Indian meals any person has ever enjoyed.

This recipe for red lentil dal is highly westernized but no less flavourful and nourishing than the more exotic originals. What it is though, is faster to make using ingredients that are readily available in North America and Europe. Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you – it’s mostly spices you likely already have in your cupboard.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)

1 large onion diced

2 Tbsp curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

397 ml can tomato paste (13.5 oz)

1 cup chopped spinach (optional)

2 tomatoes diced

Directions

Cook the lentils. You need 4 cups of liquid. I use a mix of vegetable broth and water. You can use just water or all vegetable broth. Bring the lentils and liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer covered. The lentils will only take about 15 minutes to cook. There may be a tiny amount of liquid in the pot and that’s okay. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the coconut oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden.

Add all the spices and seasonings: curry paste, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, chili powder, sambal oelek, garlic, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and heat through combining with the onion. Add the chopped tomato and combine. Add the tomato paste and spinach and combine. Last, add in the cooked lentils and mix everything together.

Serve with basmati rice, samosas and chapati bread. Mmmmm.

 

Moroccan stew – the warmth of the sun in a bowl.

MoroccanStew.jpg

When I make this stew, I find myself saying “redolent” over and over as in “this stew is redolent of a sunlit Moroccan bazaar.” It’s not the prettiest dish, but there’s nothing else like it when you want something rich, warmly spiced and satisfying.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine

1 onion chopped

1 cup shredded kale or spinach (optional)

4 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of diced canned tomatoes

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 carrots diced

½ cup dried red lentils

1/3 cup dried apricots chopped

1/3 cup wheat bulgur (optional – to help thicken the dish)

Spice mixture – combine in a small cup or bowl

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp curry powder

Directions

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the spice mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients except the kale or spinach. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the kale/spinach and cook for another minute to let the greens wilt.

Serve up and enjoy!

This dish freezes well.

Baked curried tofu with creamy coconut rice

curriedtofu.jpgI absolutely love marinated and baked tofu. Depending on the marinade and how thinly or thickly you slice the tofu, you can create a range of flavours and textures.

The dish is easy to make though you need to allow time for the tofu to marinate.

The rice is a tasty side that comes together effortlessly. The sauce is my vegan riff on a traditional Indian raita – a cooling yogurt-based sauce that accompanies spicy dishes.

Make the tofu

Ingredients

14 oz block extra firm tofu

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp water

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp tumeric powder

½ tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic minced

Directions

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Mix all the other ingredients together and spoon a small amount into the bottom of a shallow dish. Place the tofu in the dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers Spoon the marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate in the fridge 1 to 4 hours

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.

CurriedTofu2

Make the rice

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

3 cardamon pods (or about ½ tsp ground cardamon)

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp tumeric powder

1 chili sliced (optional)

½ cup peas

Shelled pistachios for garnish (optional)

Directions

Add everything but the pistachios and peas to a pot and stir together. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas. Top with pistachios if using.

Make the raita

Ingredients

½ cup unsweetened soy-, nut- or coconut-milk yogurt (not coconut-flavoured yogurt but yogurt that is made from coconut milk)

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

½ cup diced cucumber

1 shallot diced finely

Directions

Mix everything together and serve with the tofu and rice.

I enjoyed this meal with a beet and mandarin orange salad on the side.

Chestnut cookies with almond drizzle

ChestnutCookies

I love chestnuts and eat them throughout the fall and winter. They work in savoury dishes such as my stuffed acorn squash and in sweet dishes, like these cookies.

Roasting your own chestnuts is charming and also dangerous and labour intensive – a lot like dating. So I buy my chestnuts already roasted. You can find these chestnuts in 100 gram bags at grocery stores and even the dollar store. Aurora is one well known brand.

These cookies are not too sweet and dangerously addictive.

Ingredients

Cookies

100 grams roasted chestnuts (about 9-11 chestnuts)

1/3 cup pecans

2 Tbsp flax or chia seeds

6 Tbsp plant-based milk (I use almond)

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ tsp each of ginger and allspice

¾ tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup brown sugar lightly packed

¼ cup melted coconut oil

Almond drizzle

¾ cup icing sugar

½ tsp almond extract

1-2 Tbsp plant based milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the chia or flax seeds and 6 tablespoons plant milk. Combine to create 2 flax or chia“eggs”. Set aside.

Grind the chestnuts and pecans and 1 tablespoon of the flour in a food processor until you have a mealy consistency.

In a mixing bowl combine the chestnut/pecan mixture with the flour, spices, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. I recommend sifting in the flour, spices and baking powder.

Add the vanilla, oil and “eggs” and mix everything together. I find it’s easiest just to combine everything with my hands. You will have a ball of slightly oily-feeling dough when you’re done.

Pinch off a bit of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a walnut. Place the ball on an ungreased cookie sheet and press the ball down slightly to flatten it. Repeat. You should end up with 24 cookies.

Bake for 6-10 minutes. Let cool.

To make the icing drizzle, combine the 3 ingredients in a small bowl or cup. Start with one tablespoon of milk and add more if needed, but be patient. You’ll feel like the sugar is never going to turn into icing and in a blink of an eye, it will transform.

When the cookies are cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies. The drizzle will set in about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thai one on – Coconut curry soup with noodles and tofu

coconutcurrysoup

I love to Thai one on now and then and find that Thai cuisine is especially amenable to being veganized, if it’s not already vegan.

Here is a spicy, flavourful coconut yellow curry soup that’s a complete meal in a bowl thanks to my addition of tofu and glass (a/k/a bean thread) noodles.

The beautiful thing with this dish is that, because you make this soup from scratch, you can change it up any way you want. Make it hotter, spicier, veggier, no-carb-i-er – whatever suits you.

Here’s the version that suits me, closely adapted from The Thug Kitchen. This makes 3 pho-sized (i.e. very big) bowls of soup.

This recipe is easy to make and comes together quickly. You can be sitting down to a fragrant big bowl of coconut curry heaven in less time than it takes delivery food to arrive.

Ingredients

2 tsp coconut oil

½ large onion coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 large carrot cleaned and sliced in thin coins (I used a box grater’s slicing side)

1 yellow pepper coarsely chopped

1 cup broccoli florets cut into spoon-sized pieces

3-4 cremini mushrooms sliced

I packed cup spinach leaves

1 15oz can coconut milk (I use Arroyo-D)

4 cups vegetable broth

A thumb size piece of ginger root, peeled and grated (approx. 2 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce. Okay, I used that AND added two hot chilis but that’s just me

Juice of one lime

1 Tbsp yellow curry powder

2 Tbsp yellow curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)

¼ cup fresh basil chopped – if you don’t have it, leave it out.

¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped – if you don’t like it, leave it out.

6 oz plain tofu, cut into cubes

2 bundles (about 4 oz) bean thread (a/ka/ glass) noodles. If you don’t have/want these, you could add 1 cup of cooked rice or 4 oz of cooked spaghetti (about 1 cup cooked) or just leave omit this starch component. You are going to add already-cooked noodles or rice to the pot, so in the case of the glass noodles – rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water for 5 minutes and drain.

If you had kaffir lime leaves, it’d be awesome to throw one or two in as the soup simmers.

Directions

In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the coconut oil until the onion is transluscent. If you are adding extra chilis, add them at this stage.

Add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms and saute for maybe a minute. Keep your veggies crisp because they will cook more in the broth.

Add the ginger, curry powder and curry paste and stir around to incorporate and let the spices get fragrant.. TIP – never use your curry powder in any dish without letting it have this cooking step. It will give your dish a finished flavour.

Add the broth, soya sauce, coconut milk, broccoli, basil and cilantro. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes (depending on how mushy you want that broccoli). If you are using lime leaves, add them at this stage.

Add the lime juice, srirachi sauce, and spinach and stir in. Add the tofu and noodles. Let simmer one more minute to give the spinach time to wilt.

Remove the lime leaves. Taste and adjust flavours to suit yourself. Because I used homemade broth, my soup was not salty at all so I added more soya sauce.c