November 24, 2012

Raw Strawberry Macadamia Pie with Chocolate Chia Crust

Making pie crust with the chocolate chia seed crackers was so intriguing to me, I quickly took some strawberries out of the freezer.  I had some macadamia nuts in the fridge just waiting for the right recipe. I don't buy them often but thought we could have a nice treat for Thanksgiving.  One of those items I love that are in the bulk section because I can buy a small amount.  This was not only a good recipe, but with dates for sweetener, bananas, fresh frozen strawberries, and raw nuts, it made a great breakfast too.  After all, the day after Thanksgiving, pie most often finds it's way to breakfast around here.  This pie isn't too far from what I'd put in the blender for a morning smoothie. 

The chocolate chia seed crackers are not crisp like a flax cracker.  They are firm, but have some pliability about them.  It was easy to mold them around a pie plate into a crust. You can use raw cashews in place of the Macadamia nuts.  I used regular dates found in any bulk section of the grocery store.  If you're using Med Jool dates, they tend to be a bit larger, I would decrease the dates to  seven or eight.  This is a very versatile recipe.  You can also replace the fruit with any fruit or berry you like.

Strawberry Macadamia Nut Creme Filling

3 cups frozen strawberries, thawed (two 10 packages)
2 medium bananas
12 dates, pitted
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 cup macadamia nuts

1 TB Agar powder
1 Cup boiling water

Place strawberries, bananas, dates, lemon zest, and nuts in a blender and blend for 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth and thick.  If you don't have a high speed blender like a Blendtec or VitaMix you can still make this pie.  Just soak your macadamia nuts for an hour and blend.  It will work, it just may take a little longer. 

Whisk the agar powder in the hot boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Add the agar to the blended berry mixture and blend for about 5 seconds.

Pour the whole mixture into the pie crust and chill until firm, about two hours.

I served mine with some strawberry sauce and a little rice whipped creme.  We really liked this dessert, it's light, sweet and tangy, and very refreshing.

This is a very easy Vegan Fusion recipe from the Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, my first vegan cookbook and the one that really got me excited about plant based cooking.

Simso's Strawberry Sauce

1 Cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
7 TB filtered water
1 TB Agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or sucanat
1 tsp Mirin
1/2 tsp Mint
Pinch Cardamom powder
Pinch Cinnamon Powder

Place strawberries and filtered water in a small saute pan and heat over  low heat until strawverries strt to break apart, approxmately 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

Chocolate Chia Crackers

I am so excited about this little recipe.   What a treat, chocolate crackers that are high in protein, iron, calcium, and omega 3s. In my opinion, they have a taste like an Oreo cookie. I couldn't believe it when I read the recipe over and realized it was dehydrated pudding.  I couldn't wait to see how they would turn out.  I liked them so much, I immediately made another batch. I took a bag of crackers over to share with Rachel and her first words were "This would be great for a pie crust." What an awesome idea.  For our Thanksgiving dessert I used them as a pie crust for a raw strawberry pie.  The crust was tender, but not so moist you didn't know it was crust.  The next time I make this recipe with the idea of using it as a crust, I'll make it a little thicker.

This recipe calls for making hazelnut milk to use in the mix, but you can substitute with cashews, almonds, or macadamia nuts or any non dairy milk.  I used some millet milk and almond milk in my second batch and it worked out just fine.  Organic cocoa powder works well if cacao powder isn't available.

Chocolate Chia Crackers
   Fills 2 Dehydrator trays

 - 1 cup chia seeds, depending on how thick you like your puddings
- ½ cup
raw cacao powder
- 3 T + ½ cup
agave nectar
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, or macadamia nuts
- 1 ½ t pure vanilla extract
- 2 T raw
coconut oil
Celtic sea salt

- Blend the hazelnuts with 3 cups water and 3 T agave. Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove the fiber. (I don't strain if I use cashews or macadamia nuts)

Mix 2 cups of hazelnut milk with the chia seeds. Let stand, stirring occasionally.

- Blend the remaining 1 cup of hazelnut milk with the cacao powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract and coconut oil, along with a dash of sea salt. Mix in the soaked chia seeds, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

- Spread the pudding onto 2 lined dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for about 4 hours, or until you can flip the crackers on a mesh tray. If desired, score the crackers into small pieces. Dehydrate overnight, and keep the crackers in a sealed bag in the fridge. They will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.

Here's a look at what I did with them for Thanksgiving.  The crust isn't quite even as I didn't plan on using them as a crust.  But, when Rachel mentioned it, it sounded so right.  Next time I'll not score the crackers and make it a little thicker for a raw pie crust.  The crackers softened a bit under the pie, but were still firm enough to slice like a crust.

 Raw Strawberry Macadamia Creme Pie with Chocolate Chia Cracker Crust

November 3, 2012

Vegan Chicken Pot Pie in Winter Squash ~ Vegan comfort food

These were pretty fun to make.  I had a hankering for some chicken pot pie, vegan style of course.  I also have quite a few little winter squash around, some acorn squash, small pumpkin squash, and the black futsu squash I picked up at the People's Coop Farmer's market.  I had a weird notion that they would make excellent crusts or bowls for my pot pies.  I roasted three of them about half way so they'd be easier to get into.  The futsu squash shell was about as tough as the acorn squash.  I cut them in half, filled them with the chiken pot pie mixture and covered them with a baking powder bisquit crust.  They were really nice, more filling than they look.  We enjoyed these for lunch and dinner a few days.

Vegan "Chicken" Pot Pie

    * 1 package super firm tofu, died in ½" cubes
    * 6 cups vegetable stock I used low sodium vegetable broth
    * 1 cup yellow onion, diced
    * 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
    * 1 cup diced potatoes
    * 1 cup green peas
    * 3/4 tsp thyme, minced
    * 3/4 tsp sage, minced
    * 3/4 tsp sea salt
    * 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    * 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
    * 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
    * 2-4 tbsp olive oil
    * 3/4 cup flour
    * 3/4 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
    * 1 puff pastry sheet rolled out to by 12x10 inches

Pre-heat oven to 375ยบ.

Brown diced super firm tofu in a saute pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. To make a roux, melt the vegan margarine in a saute pan, add flour and whisk constantly until light brown in color. Cool and set aside.

In a 5.5 qt. stock pot, cook onions in oil or water, adding 1-2 TB at a time to keep from sticking to the pan, for 3 minutes and add carrots, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add already boiling stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in nutritional yeast flakes.

Add the roux a bit at a time and continue to cook as sauce begins to thicken. Stir in "chicken" cubes, tamari and peas. Pour mixture into a large shallow pan to cool.

Once mixture is cool, pour into individual ramekins, glass pie pan or small casserole dish. Cover mixture with puff pastry (be sure to leave a small excess of pastry for folding and fluting of the edge) and seal edges. Cut small slits.


I used a simple baking powder bisquit recipe and rolled small crusts and gently placed over the top of the filled winter squash and baked until thouroughly heated and the crust was golden brown and crispy.