Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amazingly Addicting Vegan Carrot-Coconut Macaroons

First, a note:  I have been having issues transferring images from my camera to my computer.  This is whyI haven't posted in a while.  Until I figure out a new system, you'll just have to put your imagination hats to good use!

PSA over, now on to today's post: 

As many of you know, for quite some time I have been suffering from a mental block regarding fresh squeezed vegetable juice.  Yes, I know it's lower in sodium, artificial sugars, and preservatives than the V8/Tropicana Splash stuff, but I couldn't help myself.  Fruit juice, too--growing up my dad made us drink fresh-squeezed orange juice before we left for school, and I would make him strain all of the pulp out before I Needless to say, this deficiency has been an obstacle as I have attempted to maintain my cred as a hipster vegetarian over the years.  

But this summer I inherited an Omega Olympic Juicer from my parents while visiting Ohio.  There's something about having such a powerful piece of machinery (this thing is probably like 20 years old and in mint condition.  Nothing is built to last anymore...) that makes you want to put it to good use. 

After some successful forays into apple and pineapple juicing (trust me on this one:  it'll blow your mind), I finally decided I was ready for the main event.  One of the main excuses I always gave for not juicing was that, living alone (or at least shopping alone), I never bought vegetables in large enough quantities to justify using them all on juice.  My roommate, however, likes to grocery shop to feed small armies, so there's always an abundance of fresh veggies in the house.  

So one day, I finally took the plunge, juicing some fresh organic carrots one day when my immune system needed a boost.  And while my nose wrinkled at the first taste, I was delighted at how nourishing and rich flavor the bright orange elixir revealed.  Over the next few months I would continue my exploration--carrot/beet, apple/carrot--and have been delighted at the new world that has opened up for me.

Still, one element of fresh juicing has nagged me:  what to do with all of the pulp left over in the mesh strainer?  Sure, you can compost it--but that bright orange color seems a shame to waste.  As a leftover queen and hoarder of jewelry from 7th grade, I like to think there can be a use for everything.

So on a particularly angsty Tuesday evening, I went trolling the internet for carrot pulp uses.  While there were numerous recipes for carrot muffins, I was after something a little more exciting (plus my muffin track record has been somewhat off these past few months, and when I'm stress-baking I don't like to set myself up for disappointment). 

After a a few misses, I finally hit upon fascinating list of recipes on an message board,  What caught my eye about many recipes here is that they went beyond the obvious of simply baking them into bread or muffins and use carrots in a whole new way.  In particular, the carrot pulp marmalade recipe kind of blew my mind.  But since I lacked both pectin and fresh oranges, that would have to wait for another rainy day. 

Instead, I settled on the other recipe that caught my eye:  Golden Macaroons, made with fresh carrots and grated coconut.  While I always have some initial hesitation with vegan versions recipes for items that primarily rely on eggs as their base (and don't call for real sugar), my coconut obsession won the day.  

My first reaction upon tasting these was slight disappointment, first upon realizing I forgot to add the water recommended in the recipe.  Also, despite adding extra maple syrup and agave it seemed my initial instincts were correct about needing real sugar.  Also, it occurred to me how much the addition of either almond or coconut extract would have really kicked it up a notch.

But here's the funny thing:  despite my initial lack of enthusiasm, I found myself unable to stop eating them.  Whether it was needing a light midnight snack with my tea or an extra boost to make up for a missed breakfast, I found that one was simply not enough. Like carrot juice itself, the subtle balance of flavors sneaks up on you in a way that satisfies without giving your immune system sugary shock-treatment. 

Amazingly Addicting Vegan Carrot-Coconut Macaroons
1 cup carrot pulp (or grated carrot), packed
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sweetener, or to taste (I used maple syrup.)
1 1/2 cup grated coconut
1 cup oat flour (I substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of oats)
1/2 tsp salt (optional) 

1 tsp vanilla (I also think almond extract or coconut extract would be amazing in these.)
Blend dry, quick or rolled oats to make a flour. Mix well all ingredients. Let sit 10 min. firmly pack dough into a tablespoon then drop on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 30 min.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Look Ma, No Ice Cream Maker!

The creative process is a strange and mysterious thing, leading travelers to down many bizarre and twisted roads.  This summer, my attempts to burn off creative angst have sparked whims of hand-sewing yoga pants from salvaged t-shirts, single-handedly painting the borders along my ceiling and doorways lavender, and walking all the way from 52nd St. and 11th Ave all the way to Broadway (for those of you not familiar with NYC, that's over 60 city blocks on foot).

When I'm trying to work out something that's weighing heavily on my mind, I enjoy doing things the hard way.

Which leads me to my latest venture.

Homemade ice cream recipes aren't that hard to come by.  Problem is, the majority of them call for eggs.  And an ice cream maker.  Even though I have no problem with eggs, my roommate doesn't eat them, and it makes me sad to make something I cannot share with people I like to feed.  After a quick internet search, I came across a pretty basic corn starch ice cream recipe by my guy Mark Bittman.

As for the ice cream maker problem, I discovered there are two main methods for making ice cream by hand.  The quickest involves putting the ice cream mixture into a plastic bag and then shaking it vigorously with ice and rock salt.  While that method sounds extremely cool in a Bill Nighy the Science Guy sort of way (and would no doubt be an instant hit for babysitting and kiddie birthdays), rock salt is an item I don't generally keep in stock.  So I fell to method number 2, which involves whipping in between several freezing cycles.

My first batch was somewhat less than perfect.  Often when I am trying a recipe for the first time, I am loathe to use up the entirety of any particular ingredient in case I have nothing to show for it.  So I used a little milk, a little yogurt, and a little coconut milk.   The resulting texture was a chalky and watery (but still quite edible with enough chocolate chips, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and maple syrup.  What can I say?  I love my toppings).  The worst part was the yogurt I used was one my roommate had bought by mistake, so even if it hadn't been so lackluster, I still wouldn't have been able to share it.

So for my second attempt, I resolved to follow the recipe exactly as Bittman had written it, going out and buying a carton of light cream from C-Town.  Still, just because I'm going back to the basics doesn't mean I have to stick to plain vanilla:  I added 1/3 cup of cocoa powder while simmering and then a scoop of peanut butter just before freezing.  Though it didn't seem to want to crystallize as it was supposed to, the outcome was creamy, luscious, and absolutely decadent. 

Emboldened by this success, I decided to take a stab at making a truly vegan ice cream (this is a healthy-ish blog after all). Given my druthers, there are few treats more wonderful than the various coconut milk ice creams sold at health food stores.  Problem is, they generally cost upwards of $6 per tiny pint, greatly reducing the incentive to avoid the $1.99 per gallon Breyers.

So last night I went back to C-Town and picked up two cans of coconut milk (actually one can.  I had picked up two cans a few weeks ago, but seemed to have misplaced one of them in the disaster zone that is my room).  I also decided to take my stepmom's suggestion and add some crushed pineapple for a pina colada variation.  This one did manage to freeze as directed, leaving me with dairy-free goodness the next morning.

The only problem I can't seem to solve is how to keep the ice cream from being hard as a rock after prolonged time in the freezer.  Not sure if this is a problem with the storage container or freezer temperature, but either way it's nothing 30 seconds in the microwave can't solve.  But if you're able to plan ahead, I would try and make the ice cream on the same day you plan on eating it.

But enough talk.  Here it is, folks:

Homemade, Handmade Ice Cream

Time:  About 2 1/2 hours
Quantity: 1 generous pint

2 1/2 cups light cream, milk or coconut milk (I'm sure other vegan milks would work as well, though coconut milk is preferable because the high fat content more closely resembles cream.)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons of corn starch
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional:  1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1-2 scoops of peanut butter, chopped fruit, or additional extracts (I used coconut extract in both of mine).  The sky's the limit, really. Here is where you can get creative and tailor it to your particular tastebuds.

Heat 2 cups of cream in a saucepan, along with sugar, salt, and cocoa powder if using.  Cook at a low heat until milk begins to steam.

While the milk is steaming, in a small bowl mix corn starch with the rest of the milk until smooth.  Add corn starch mixture to pot.  Cook, stirring until the mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil (about 5 minutes).  Lower heat and stir for another 5 minutes until the mixture is thick.  Add extracts now if using. 

Remove from heat and place in a medium sized metal or plastic bowl.  Chill either by placing mixture in an ice bath (bowl filled with ice) or in the refrigerator.  Now is the time to add chopped fruit, peanut butter, or other add-ins.  Once chilled, place bowl uncovered in the freezer and freeze for about 45 minutes, or until tiny ice crystals start to form around the edges.  Take the bowl out of the freezer and with a hand mixer, stick blender, or a strong whisk, beat the mixture until it is smooth again.  Return the bowl to the freezer and repeat the whipping process every 30 minutes.  This mimics the ice cream machine, which spins the ice cream vigorously to keep it from crystallizing. Plan on repeating this process two or three times.   

After the last cycle, transfer mixture to a container with a lid and freeze until ready to eat!
Pina Colada and Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Scoops Topped With Peanut Butter-filled Pretzels, Pineapple, Maple Syrup and Blueberries.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homemade Kale Chips

When you tell most people you're vegan one of the first questions you inevitable are bombarded with is (annoying nasally voice):  "Where do you get your CALCIUM?"  For, as we all learned in health class, the only way to insure that your bones don't disintegrate from Osteoporosis, is to drink a giant class of milk every morning. 

I'm not going to spend this entry breaking apart that particular sacred cow (I know, I'm witty!), but suffice it to say the vegetable kingdom provides more than adequate calcium-rich options.  Namely, I'm talking about dark, leaf  greens--kale, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, collards, mustard greens, and even broccoli.  Now, I love me some broccoli, but there's only so much a girl can eat in a lifetime.  And as for the others, well, I think there's also a 5-year-old in all of us that instinctively recoils at the sight of of a big lump of green stuff on our plate. 

Of all of the leafy greens on the list, spinach was the only one I ever explored.  Living alone, I tended to shy away from purchasing produce that couldn't be eaten right out of the fridge or used in several capacities, for instance, salads or panini sandwiches, and baby spinach fit the bill perfectly.  Now that I live with another vegetarian, however, I am finding myself wanting to be more ambitious and craving something heartier, with more "meat" to it so to speak. 

I first encountered kale chips at my internship this summer when my fellow intern Deepali pulled them out of her lunch bag.  I'm not sure if it was the kale chips themselves, or simply the fact that for the first in mt life someone had weirder items in their lunch than me--at any rate, I was intrigued. I tried one and was blown away by a texture that was crunchy like a potato chip, but more delicate and with a fuller flavor. 

So at the Highland Park farmer's market last week, I picked up a bunch of gorgeous organic kale.  While Deepali had given me a basic sketch of the preparation method, I found a recipe online for backup.  To that basic recipe, I added some lemon and lime juice for extra flavor.  The result?  Crunchy, calcium-rich, green goodness.

Homemade Kale Chips

1 Bunch of Kale
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Salt and Lemon/Lime Juice to taste
(I can also imagine other spices working well with this too--curry powder, tamari, garlic--let your imagination run wild!)

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventures in Veggie Dining: Red Bamboo


This is the kind of restaurant in that's paradise for adventurous vegetarians (and oddly enough, it's two doors down from a similarly awesome Chinese restaurant called Vegetarian Paradise 2.  More on that in a minute.)  If you're a veggie, you're used to the experience of going to a restaurant and opening up a glossy,  wide-ranging menu only to be segregated to a tiny box on the lower left-hand side of the back page listing "vegetarian options."  The menu at a place like Red Bamboo, on the other hand, completely inverts this situation.  While on first glance it looks like a traditional high end "soul food" joint with items like "Creole Soul Chicken," "Oxtail Stew" and "Codfish Cakes," but the kicker is the preface at the beginning of the menu:  it's all completely and totally vegetarian.  

About 12 years ago, Vegetarian Paradise 2 provided my very first experience in faux-meat dining and has held a very special place in my heart ever since.  I first discovered it again last fall during my first failed attempt to snag student rush tickets to David Cromer's Our Town at the Barrow Street Theater (there's a $40 deal on Playbill right now.  You won't regret it.)  But my traveling companion at the time was not in a gastronomically adventurous mood, so we passed on.  

Last night, however, I was on them move with my favorite veggie partner-in-crime Laura, up from DC.  I presented her with the idea of checking out a vegetarian Chinese place, and she was all for it.  As we approached our destination, we passed by Red Bamboo first on our right.  Drawn by the bright red-tiled exterior, she perused the menu and asked if I'd mind eating here instead.  Always up for an adventure, I eagerly stepped down the steps into one of New York's many little holes-in-the-wall.

Though the set-up of Red Bamboo is rather snug, the decor is tasteful with soft hipster music in the background.  For an appetizer, we decided to share the Cajun Fried Shrimp.  Now while I've been a veggie my entire life, I did dabble with some meat items during a rebellious period of high school, and fried shrimp was one of the few dishes I had actually sampled during that period.  So my evaluation of this dish carried a tiny bit of clout.  Visually, the dish was stunning.  Four breaded, shrimp-shaped pieces with cocktail sauce in the center.  Biting in, it was hard not to be impressed by the attention to detail in the pink tails and the white "meat." Taste-wise, Laura and I were both extremely impressed.  The "meat" was tender and the breading well-seasoned.  

For the entree, Laura and I both decided to avoid the many faux-chicken items, not because faux chicken isn't amazing, but it's so readily available and this was a special treat.  Laura decided on the Ginger Beef and I chose the Butterfly Soy Chops with fresh apple-raisin sauce served with collard greens, veggie ham and corn mashed potatoes.  Both dishes were elegantly presented and were generous portions.  While I found the ginger in Laura's dish a bit strong for my tastes, she liked it just fine, the tender "beef" strips stir-fried with garlic, ginger, scallions, carrots, sugar and snap peas served with white rice.  My butterfly soy chops were a site to behold:


When I read the words "apple raisin sauce" i had pictured something more liquid like and was delighted to see whole sliced apples and raisins.  The perfect flavor and moisture of the fruit provided a wonderful balance to the dryness of the chops.  The collards with "ham" bits and the sweet corn mashed potatoes were forgettable, but serviceable enough to provide a balance of textures to the breaded "pork" and the fruit.  

My only major gripe was with the service, which was on the slow side.  And the fact that they were out of the organic peach beer.  But if you're in Greenwich Village looking for a reasonably-priced vegetarian adventure with enough variety to please everyone in your party, save a place for Red Bamboo on your itinerary.

Red Bamboo
(212) 260-7049
(212) 260-1212
140 West 4th Street
(between 6th ave & macdougal)
12:30 to Midnight
Noon to Midnight
Last Seating:
Sun - Thurs: 11:15
Fri: 11:40
Sat: 11:40
Delivery Until 11PM Daily


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes (Oh Yeah, They're Vegan)

As some of you might know, for the past few months I have been attending a weekly vegetarian dinner at my friend Sneha's apartment.  And every week, I make a different cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World  by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero (like Julie and Julia, but with vegan cupcakes).  If you're a vegan who enjoys baking, or just someone for whom the words Tiramisu cupcakes makes your mouth water, you must add this book to your library.  Not only are their recipes easy-to-follow (even if some of the directions seem a bit counterintuitive), but they have a keen understanding of texture, moisture, and flavor that many vegan bakers lack (the reason so many vegan baked goods come out dense and dry).  Many of the techniques they employ creating vegan desserts are applicable to non-vegan desserts, and I've found the skill set I've developed empowering.  Before I started baking with them, I never would have dreamed I would be able to whip up my own frosting or throw some fruit, cornstarch, and vanilla into a saucepan and have enough confidence to know that it would come out looking like pie filling.  (Hey this is all sounding really compelling--maybe Amy Adams should star in a movie about me!)

Now onto the main event.

To preface, allow me to rewind to say, Thursday morning.  I am frantically running around in preparation for what looks to be a fun-filled, friend-filled weekend.  That evening the Rutgers Bhakti club was hosting Sacred Sounds, with internationally known kirtan band Gaura Vani.  Friday, my friend Laura was coming in from DC and I was going to look like the coolest host ever by taking her to my veggie dinner and then hang out with all of my Mason Gross theater friends at Midnight Special.  

Then, disaster struck.

Now, I've been cool with all of the blizzard weather that has inundated the Northeast this year. Maybe I've been living near better scenery this year, or have just been listening to a lot of Fleet Foxes, but more than any other winter I've had little trouble fancying myself in an adaptation of the Snow Queen every time the snowflakes swirl around me. 

So I get it.  Winter Wonderland.  YadaYadaYada.

But then I kept getting texts that indicate my social life has basically been cancelled--first Midnight Special, then Sacred Sounds, then my veggie dinner (I knew a text from Laura couldn't be far off)--and I soon found myself curled up in a fetal position with hot cocoa and Bailey's listening to Joanna Newsome music.

Thursday morning, starved for human contact, I trudge through the tundra to work at the theater office.  Suddenly. my luck began to turn around.  First, Laura informs me she is on her way after all!  And Sneha asks me if I'm doing anything and would I like to have dinner.

Um. YES.

So with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf playing on my MacBook, I set to work deciding on this week's cupcake.  While my car was finally back from the hospital (long story), I was loathe to choose any recipe  that would require ingredients I would have to drive to procure, as the thought of finding street parking in the blizzard was not a pleasant one.  And for the sake of not repeating myself (I am determined to bake through the entire book eventually) I decided on the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.  The one substitution I did make was I ran out of frozen strawberries, so I ended up mixing in some chopped frozen mango and cherries, which added an extra dimension of flavor and color.

My only real hesitation with this recipe was the method for making the velvet icing, which in involves the kind of multi-step process that always makes me feel like medieval alchemist.  I trusted Isa and Terry, however, and the result kind of blew my mind.  If you ever need a vegan whipped cream recipe for anything at all, this should be the only one you ever use from here on out.  

 Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

1 cup dairy free milk (minus 1 Tbsp to counteract the juiciness of your berries)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, softened (like Earth Balance)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon or orange extract (I just squirted some lemon juice, but I don't know if made any difference)
about 1 cup strawberries chopped into smallish pieces

Preheat your oven to 350F. Do your muffin liner thing or grease your muffin pan. Whisk the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside 5-10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir it up to combine. In a separate large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract. Now beat in the soymilk mixture and dry mixture in alternate separate batches just until combined. Don't over-beat or your cupcakes will get tough. You just want it to be combined.

Fold in the chopped strawberries. Fill your cupcake pan cups about 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 22 minutes. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Make sure they're cool before you frost them!
Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup superfine, castor or powdered sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the flour and soy milk. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and has a pudding-like consistency, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and press plastic wrap onto the top of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow mixture to cool completely before the next step. (This is very important, as warm pudding will melt the shortening and margarine.) You can also put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes if you're impatient.

Cream together the shortening, margarine, vanilla and sugar then beat in cold custard. Beat with an electric mixer for 4 to 6 minutes; frosting should become lighter in color and have a very creamy texture, similar to very thick whipped cream.

To assemble, take a teaspoon and scoop out the center of the cupcake and set the scooped-out part aside.  Next, fill the cupcake with chopped fruit.  Take a dollop of frosting and spread it over the cupcake.  Place the scooped out part on top of the frosting and then put a tiny drop of frosting on top of that.  Finally, take a slice of fruit and place it on the very top.  If this all sounds terribly confusing, just look at the picture:

Monday, January 4, 2010

And now the recipe--Flourless, Eggless, Dairy-free, Sugar-Free Fruit Pie of Deliciousness

This pie is very special to the Huberman family.  The genesis of the recipe comes from my Grandma Ruth, a vegan for over half a century who with my late Grandma Max, opened Youngstown, Ohio's first health food store in the 1950s.

My grandparents subscribed to the tenets of Natural Hygiene, which (and I'm totally paraphrasing here) maintained that fruits and vegetables had enough natural flavor without the addition of salt, butter, and oil.  In the place of these flavorings, Grandma came up with creative solutions like cooking rice in fresh celery or carrot juice and thickening her eggplant patties with ground up almonds.

About six years ago, Grandma began making fruit pies.   It's hard to remember a time before the pies began--throughout high school I only remember an unending stream of them that would appear and disappear from our refrigerator.  We ate them for breakfast, lunch, dessert, and midnight snacks.  While each pie contained the same basic elements (mainly, apples) , they were never the same twice.  One week would contain cherries, one week mangoes, one week coconut, one week pistachios.  When pressed for a recipe, Grandma would always shrug and say she didn't have one.

One year on break, I managed to assist on the process and found that the crust contained a combination of nuts, medjool dates and  manna (or essene) bread, which is a moist, sprouted bread and bound together with apple juice.  The filling, however was the real secret:  she would steam the fruit in apple juice before pouring it into the crust.  And while I had long assumed this was a raw pie, I discovered Grandma did in fact bake both the crust as soon as it's made and then the entire pie once assembled.  But though I now had access to this holy grail of culinary knowledge, I was not yet confident in myself as a cook to take the leap and make one myself, still dependent on exact measurements to guide me through.

This year, I went down to Florida to visit my Mom for her birthday, which falls on New Year's.  My Mom has always joked that she's always been ahead of the curve when it comes to food sensitivities.    In the 1970s, she was a vegan when health food stores were few and far between and Tiger's Milk was the only alternative to Hershey's.  By the time the options started to expand and Silk soy milk began running national ads in the late 1990s, Mom discovered she was allergic to gluten, further limiting.  Now this year, as even restaurants like Outback Steakhouse are happy to provide gluten-free menus, Mom has eliminated oil, salt, and anything resembling sugar as well.

This latest development posed a challenge to me as I prepared to make her a treat for her birthday, as the lack of oil and sugar basically eliminated the gluten-free baking mixes I had relied on in the past.  Taking a deep breath, I decided it was time to attempt a fruit pie of my own.

The one big modification I had to make for Mom was in the crust.  As manna bread contains gluten, I had to eliminate it and use extra dates and nuts, also adding dried apricots that my Grandma Maddy happened to have on hand.  As a guide, I looked up a recipe for a no-bake date-nut pie crust that I  doubled in order to make sure I had enough.  For the filling, I used a combo of apples, pineapple, frozen berries, and raisins.  While the original plan had been to steam it all in fresh apple juice as per Grandma Ruth's custom, a shortage of apples forced me to blend the apple juice with some fresh-squeezed pineapple, which gave the whole pie a refreshing lightness.  My only stumbling block was greasing the pan, as I was terrified that the crust would stick once baked.  I was able to convince Mom to consent to a tiny bit of coconut oil, but I would be happy to hear any other suggestions.

The result was an unqualified success, kicking off 2010 with licked lips and happy tummies.

And now for the recipe.

Flourless, Eggless, Dairy-Free, Sugar-free Fruit Pie of Deliciousness


3 cups of unsalted nuts (I used almonds and pecans, but cashews, walnuts, pistachios, or just about anything else will do just fine)
6-12 pitted dates.  You can mix it up by adding other dried fruit like pineapple or apricots
1/4-1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1-3 tbsp of water or fruit juice, for binding crust together.


4-5 granny smith apples, peeled cored and sliced.  Granny smith apples are recommended, but really any apples you have on hand will do just fine.
2-3 cups of some other fruit, something like mango, peach, pineapple, berries, cherries, etc.. Really, the possibilities are endless.
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Water or juice for steaming

Optional:  Berries or other fruit for decoration.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Begin by grinding nuts in a food-processor or blender until fine.  Next add dates and blend until mixture is sticky.  Add cinnamon and just enough liquid to hold mixture together.  Press crust into greased (if desired) pie plate, leaving about 1/3 cup aside for the crumb topping. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crust just begins to harden (but not too much--it still has to go into the oven again later).

While the crust is baking, make the filling.  In a large bowl, combine apples, additional fruit, raisins, and cinnamon.  Fill a large steamer pot with about an inch of juice or water until barely touching the bottom of the steam basket.  Pour fruit into pot and steam for 20-30 minutes or until apples are tender.

Take the crust out of the oven and pour in the pie filling.  Don't worry if you've made too much for filling--any excess can be perfectly delightful atop ice cream, oatmeal, cupcakes or any other combination you can think of.  (Another fun variation that Grandma Ruth often does is mashing a soft persimmon over the filling, but as we didn't have persimmons this wasn't an option.)

Once filled, take the extra crust mixture and sprinkle atop the pie, covering it completely.  If you find you don't have any extra crust (as I did when I found someone who shall remain nameless gobbled it up), simply grind up some more nuts and dates. To decorate, arrange sliced fruit (berries and cherries work best) in an aesthetically pleasing pattern of your choosing.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops of the crumb topping begins to brown.

 Cut into slices and, if desired, top with your favorite vegan ice cream (in this case, Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss).  Y'all know the next step:  eat and enjoy!