Salad of Belgian Endive and Apple

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Apples may be a more seasonal choice of fruit in the fall but this salad is totally thirst quenching and refreshing – just the kind of thing you’d want on a warm spring or hot summer day.   When paired with an oil-free citrus-ginger dressing, the salad comes alive with flavours and contrasting textures that are perfectly balanced between tart and sweet, crunchy and soft. Raw or roasted walnuts contribute a rich, earthy sustenance that compliments all of the other flavours and provides the finishing touch here, . You’ll feel really light and energized after eating this!

This simple salad is a great dish all on its own but it would also be the perfect accompaniment or side dish at a summer barbecue, picnic or potluck.

Yields 6 generous servings (ingredients are easy to double or triple).

Dressing

  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • ½ tbsp. homemade date or maple syrup
  • ½ tbsp. fresh gingerroot, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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For the Salad

  • 4 large or 5 small Belgian endive
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 1 ½ tbsp. fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oranges, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2-3 tbsp. walnuts, raw or roasted, coarsely chopped

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Pour the dressing into a large mixing bowl.  Slice the endive into julienne strips and core the apples. You can peel the apples before coring and slicing if you prefer but it isn’t necessary.

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Quarter the apples and cut each quarter into thin slices, and then into matchsticks.  As you cut, place the apples and endive directly into the bowl with the dressing, lightly tossing to prevent them from oxidizing.  Can be made a few hours ahead to this point. When ready to serve, add in the cilantro or parsley and walnuts and garnish with orange wedges. 

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Mini Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing

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Wow, a delicious gluten-free, vegan doughnut that is also free of oil, soy, and refined sugar! I am so excited to share this recipe! Nuts are completely optional so these can be made nut-free too! Since everyone knows someone who is gluten free, vegan or has dietary restrictions of one kind or another, here’s a treat you can prepare that virtually everyone can enjoy!

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It all started with a work-place celebration and the doughnuts that one of my colleagues brought in for the occasion. These were not your average doughnuts. These were amazing doughnuts from a local shop that specializes in gourmet doughnuts. In fact, that’s all they sell. That night I went home with thoughts of recreating a carrot cake doughnut or at least a healthier version of the carrot cake doughnut I had eaten at our morning celebration. It was a crazy idea for someone who rarely eats cake or baked goods, and for good reason. Doughnuts typically contain butter, eggs, refined sugar and gluten and they are deep-fried in a large amount of oil. Vegan doughnuts are an emerging trend but they are still hard to come by and they almost certainly contain sugar and are fried in oil.  Clearly, I had tasked myself with a challenge! 

I made several attempts at these doughnuts using oats or oat flour and found the flavour was pretty good, but the texture was a bit rubbery. Then I tried using a combination of  various gluten-free flours and starches and ended up with either a texture I didn’t like or a flavour that was’t up to snuff. Yes, there was quite a bit of experimentation involved to get the flavour and texture just right, but I can honestly say that I am thoroughly pleased with the results posted here. 

The icing starts with a vegan cream cheese from cashews and in my opinion, this is hands down the best version of non-dairy cream cheese you’ll ever eat! However, to make the cream cheese, you’ll need to plan a couple of days ahead. Don’t be put off by the time factor though as  the result is worth it. The cream cheese really does taste just like the commercial variety and can be used for anything that calls for cream cheese. There’s nothing difficult about the process but it does take a minimum of two days from beginning to end so you will want to make the icing first.

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Doughnut Ingredients

 Dry:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 3 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2  tsp.  cinnamon
  • 1 1/2  tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch baking soda
  • 2 Tbs. sultana raisins, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

Wet:

  • 2/3 cup apple sauce, unsweetened (about 210 ml)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup finely grated carrot, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place the first 11 ingredients in a small bowl. Then, hold a sieve over a sheet of parchment paper and sift the dry ingredients onto the parchment. Now place the sieve on top of the bowl, and pour the ingredients through the sieve, back into the bowl – effectively sifting the dry ingredients twice.

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Remove a tablespoon of the dry mix and toss with the chopped raisins (and walnuts if using) in a small bowl, then add the coated fruit and nuts back into the bowl with the excess flour mixture. 

In a separate large mixing bowl, stir the the wet ingredients and then add in the dry ingredients. Stir gently but thoroughly until the wet and dry are well mixed.

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The easiest way to fill the molds is with a piping bag so if you have one, use it. In a pinch, a Ziploc bag can be substituted for a piping bag. Simply spoon the batter into the piping bag until the bag is 2/3 full. Don’t fill it or you won’t be able to close the bag and the batter will ooze out of the top as you start to fill the molds. Twist the top to close it off and then holding the bag over your pan, snip an inch or two up from the tip of the bag to create an opening). 

Squeeze the batter into each doughnut mold until the batter is used, refilling the bag as necessary.

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Divide the mixture evenly between 12 mini-doughnut molds (I used 2 non-stick pans with 6 mini-doughnut molds in each).  These don’t rise a lot, but don’t overfill the molds. Smooth out the tops with a palette knife. 

When all of the molds are full, place the pans in a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. In my oven, they were done in exactly 18 minutes. 

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When the doughnuts spring back to a light touch, they are done. Let them rest in the pans for 10 minutes before removing.

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Then, invert the pan over a cooling rack and allow the doughnuts to cool completely. These doughnuts literally fell out of their molds when I inverted the pan over a cooling rack. No prodding or coaxing. Awesome!

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Makes 12 mini donuts

For The Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked or 2-4 hours
  • ½ cup water, scant (just enough to reach the level of the nuts in the blender)
  • ½ tbsp. probiotics (about 10-12 capsules)

Place the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth – the mixture should be glossy and smooth – it should have the look and texture of commercial sour cream when it’s ready. If you have a VitaMix, this will take about 2 minutes but if you are using a less powerful, blender it may take longer (could take 8-10 minutes).

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Line a sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth or fine mesh and place the sieve over a small bowl. Pour the “cream cheese” into the cheesecloth and pull the corners of the cloth up and over the cheese to cover completely. Twist the ends to maintain a secure closure and then place a can of vegetables or pie weights if you have them on top to weigh the cheese down. Loosely cover the whole ensemble with saran wrap and place the bowl in a warm place for 24-48 hours. (The length of time will depend on how fast the cheese ripens and how warm the environment is). I used my dehydrator to speed up the process (I left the bowl in the dehydrator at about 80°F – 90°F) and the cheese was ready in just under 24 hours. Alternatively, you can leave the bowl in a cold oven with  the light turned on. 

Once the cheese is thick and ripe, unwrap it and scoop it into a clean bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whisk until the mixture is free of any lumps.  Don’t worry if the cheese developed a crust on the outside edges during the ripening process – just add it in to the mixture and break it up with the whisk. When nice and smooth, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours to firm up. After 12 hours, the mixture will have the  consistency of store-bought cream cheese and taste exactly the same.

Measure out 1 cup and add:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together and spoon icing into a piping bag with a decorating tip. The icing will be soft, but will hold a shape. Pipe the icing over the tops of each doughnut and top with a few strands of carrot shavings. 

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Top with carrot shavings (optional). 

Carrot Shavings

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Peel a small carrot and then shave it. Toss the shavings with:

  • pinch of cinnamon,
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of maple syrup, – just enough to enable the shavings to stick. 

Place carrots on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. They should be golden brown and starting to crisp – if necessary give them another minute or two but watch closely because they will burn. Allow to cool. They will crisp even more as they cool. Crumble the longer strands and sprinkle on the iced doughnuts. 

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Quinoa Chipotle Burger in a Lettuce Wrap

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Veggie burgers have a reputation of falling apart and tasting a lot like beans – or mushy beans – or mushy beans loaded with salt. Store bought varieties tend to hold together better than homemade but they generally lack enough vegetables, or the right vegetables to balance out the beany flavor. They also contain a host of preservatives, and sometimes soy and oil. Without a doubt, the best veggie burgers for your health are homemade so I knew I had to come up with something that held together, wasn’t mushy and had superior flavour to anything I’ve ever had before.

And I did! I have to say, these quinoa burgers are in a class of their own and without the traditional bun, you can enjoy an awesome meat-less burger that is also gluten-free, vegan, and contains no oil, soy or sugar! Best of all, these burgers won’t fall apart when cooked in a frying pan without added oil – no small feat when you realize that the fat content helps to bind ingredients together in burgers of all kinds. (Just be gentle when flipping your burger over – homemade veggie burgers are a little more delicate than burgers with lots of fillers and binders).

The ratio of quinoa/almond meal to beans (black-eye peas) results in an impressive meaty texture without an overpowering bean taste and thanks to the addition of chipotle and garlic, they are bursting with flavour. Piled high with more vegetables and a few condiments, they are ultimately satisfying!  They are also surprisingly light so make lots and don’t be surprised if people ask for seconds. Even my meat-eating friends think these burgers are super delicious!

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The quantities below will yield 6, 4-oz burgers but you can certainly make them smaller. The patties are a perfect base on which to pile an array of sauces and condiments, or to serve alongside a salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked black-eye peas, mashed (cannellini, pinto or navy beans also work)
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2-cup gluten free bread crumbs (I used homemade)
  • 2 tbsp. ground chia seeds + 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 16-20 Butter lettuce leaves (or other types of lettuce, green leaves, such as collards or chard leaves)

Instructions

For the Quinoa Patties

In a small bowl, combine ground chia seeds and water and let set for 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl place the cooked quinoa, mashed beans, almond meal, breadcrumbs, garlic, lemon juice, chipotle chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork to combine the ingredients and then mix in the chia seeds, which by now will have absorbed the water. Form the quinoa mixture into even-sized patties. I use a 4-oz. ice cream scoop for this, firmly packed, and I get exactly 6 burgers. 

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Place patties on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. At this point, the patties can be frozen to be eaten on another day. Assemble your condiments and toppings.

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Heat a ceramic lined non-stick frying pan to medium. You want the pan hot, but not too hot – the burgers will burn on the outside before they are heated through if the heat is too high. Add patties and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. They should be nicely browned and heated through – that’s all they need since the quinoa and beans are already cooked. 

Alternatively, the quinoa burgers can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and bake the patties for about 15-20 minutes each side, or until lightly browned and heated through. 

Assembling the Burger

To assemble the burgers, place a couple of overlapping lettuce leaves on a plate a little larger than the size of your burger. Place your cooked, hot, quinoa patty in the centre, then pile on the toppings, sauces and condiments you like. I happened to have some yams and baby beets, homemade vegan garlic-herb cheese, and some freshly made pickled onions on hand so I threw them all on top! I also added some thinly sliced cucumbers, and a big dollop of chipotle dressing before I was done!  (The yams and beets were divine in this ensemble!)

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Finish with a lettuce leaf or two on top.

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Now I have to ask, how on earth would you wrap your mouth around something like that? As enticing as this looks, you just know the toppings and sauces will end up in your lap, or at the very least, all over your hands and face after just one bite!

Fortunately, I have a couple of solutions…

One, make a small bag out of parchment paper to hold the burger and all of its toppings, and two, enclose the burger and all of the toppings in blanched the lettuce leaves. Blanching the lettuce leaves makes the leaves supple and enables you to enclose the entire burger ensemble, keeps the juices intact and prevents the toppings from spilling out. The latter method requires a bit more effort from you up front, but your guests will thank you! 

Parchment Burger Bags

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First, tear a sheet of parchment paper from the roll, about 12-inches long. It doesn’t have to be exactly 12-inches but that length works well for these burgers. Fold the cut sheet in half and cut or tear in two pieces. Fold each half in half – lengthwise. You want the bags to be wide and shallow rather than deep and narrow. 

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Then, starting at one of the short ends, fold the edges over 3 times to secure – again, it doesn’t have to be exactly 3 folds, but you want the sides of the bags to remain closed once they’re filled with a burger and all of its accompaniments. Three times is sufficient for this. 

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When ready to serve, open the bag wide, and place the lettuce wrapped burger inside. There will be extra space around the burger so just tuck any extra parchment underneath the bottom of the burger to hold the burger securely.

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Voila! Now you can safely enjoy your burger, knowing that the parchment paper will catch all of the juices and toppings that might otherwise end up in your lap!

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Blanched Lettuce Wrappers

I used butter and romaine lettuce leaves because that’s what I had but you can use any type of lettuce. Gently remove the largest leaves from a lettuce and clean thoroughly. Then place the leaves in a large bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Leave them submerged for about a minute, or until they wilt and turn vibrant green.

Strain off the hot water and pour ice-cold water over the leaves to shock them. (This stops the cooking process and helps to maintain the colour).

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Strain and dry the cooled leaves, being careful not to tear them. Transfer to a plate or cutting board and lay in a single layer, slightly overlapping in a circular pattern. Cover up any tears or holes in the leaves as you go.

Lay the quinoa patty in the centre of 1 or 2  lettuce leaves, and top with all of your desired   accompaniments. 

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Fold the leaves over the top, enclosing the burger and toppings. The supple leaves will adhere to each other and make a nice tight seal around everything.. 

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Vibrant Jasmine Rice Salad

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This delectable jasmine rice salad combines contrasts of chewy, crunchy and soft textures with flavours of sweet, salty, spicy and tart all at once. Principles of layering perfectly balanced flavours typical of Thai cuisine apply here, and as with most salads, the complex flavouring comes from the dressing.   

Some of the preparation can be done ahead, such as cooking the rice, toasting the coconut, and making the dressing. The dressing and toasted coconut will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. The salad should be assembled just before serving. In fact, this salad looks spectacular when everything is arranged on a serving platter so for presentation, why not  toss the assembled ingredients at the table in front of your guests? 

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For the Dressing

Dulse flakes add protein to this salad in place of animal or fish protein typically found in traditional Thai dishes and they are high in fibre and a good source of minerals too. I purchase them at my local health food store. I can sometimes find kaffir lime leaves at my health food store too but they can also be purchased at ethnic grocers, particularly those carrying middle eastern ingredients. 

Date sugar is wonderful in the dressing even though it doesn’t dissolve completely because the ingredients in the dressing are strained after simmering and before pouring on the salad. If you can’t find date sugar locally, (I believe it can be ordered online) you can substitute coconut sugar but coconut sugar is sweeter so you may want to reduce the amount of coconut sugar you use in the dressing. 

Ingredients

  • 2 large stalks lemongrass
  • 2-inch knob of fresh ginger root
  • ¼ cup dulse flakes, scant
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¾ cup date sugar
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallots
  • 3 large or 4 small kaffir lime leaves*
  • ½ tsp. Celtic or pink Himalayan salt

Peel the stiff outer stems of lemongrass from the stalk and discard. You want only the tender inner stems, which are soft, creamy white with a visible purple ring running through them.

Coarsely chop the lemongrass and then bruise it by placing the cut lemongrass pieces under the flat side of your knife blade and whacking the blade with the palm of your hand. (Bruising the lemon grass releases the oils and intensifies the flavour). Place in a small saucepan.

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Peel and slice the gingerroot into ½-inch sized discs and bruise as above. Add to the pot with the lemongrass.

Coarsely chop the shallots and add to the pot along with the dulse flakes, date sugar, kaffir lime leaves, and water.  

*If you don’t have kaffir lime leaves you can substitute the zest from 2 limes instead.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir. Bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to a syrupy liquid. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the syrup into a heat-proof bowl, pressing against the solids to release as much liquid as possible, then discard the solids.

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You should have about 1/2-cup of dressing – if not, place the strained liquid back into the pot and reduce to 1/2-cup. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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For the Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups organic, gluten-free jasmine rice
  • 1 cup green beans or sugar snap peas
  • Leaves from 1 large head of Belgian endive
  • 1 cup mildly bitter green, such as swiss chard, kale or collards
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 cup jicama or granny smith apple
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, hard outer layers removed, and minced
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp. zest of one lime, grated
  • 1 tbsp. zest of one orange

Condiments

  • 2 tsp. of chilli powder, served on the side
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges, served on the side

Bring 2 cups of jasmine rice to a boil in 3 cups of filtered water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The water should be completely absorbed. Leave to stand for 10 minutes off the heat, then fluff with a fork and set aside. Rice should be at room temperature when assembling the salad. 

Blanche the green beans or sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute and then shock in ice-cold water to preserve the vibrant colour. Top and tail; then slice into ½-inch pieces on the diagonal

Slice the Belgian endive into thin julienne strips.

Peel the jicama or granny smith apples and cut into matchsticks. If using apples, toss them in a teaspoon of lemon juice after cutting to minimize discolouration. This step is not necessary if using jicama.

Place the coconut flakes on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in a 350°F oven. This took only 3 ½ minutes in my oven so watch carefully to ensure that the coconut doesn’t burn. You want to achieve a deep golden colour though. 

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Zest one lime and one orange. Mince the lime zest but leave the orange zest in long strips for an attractive garnish.

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Assembling the Salad

First, using wet hands, firmly pack a small bowl (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup measure) with cooked rice to shape the rice into a dome. It helps if the inside of the mold is also a little wet. Flip the mold over and unmold rice onto a serving platter. The rice will stick together and unmold easily, maintaining its shape. Repeat the holding process with the remaining rice – you should have 4 or 5 domes of rice arranged on the platter.  

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Arrange the beans or peas, endive, bitter greens, bean sprouts, and jicama or apple decoratively in between the rice domes. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes around the edges of the platter and fill in any gaps between the other ingredients. 

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Place a couple of lime wedges at either end of the platter and some along the sides. Sprinkle the minced lemongrass, lime and orange zests over top of everything. 

Pour the prepared dressing into a small serving bowl and place in one corner of the platter. In another small bowl, add 2 teaspoons of child powder and place on the platter. 

Take the assembled platter to the table just as it is in the photo below, so that you can toss the salad in front of your guests.

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Pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with a generous pinch of the chili powder, reserving some in the bowl for those who might like to add more.  Toss the ingredients gently but throughly  until the salad is well mixed. 

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Squeeze a wedge or two of lime juice over all and serve. 

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