Hamentaschen – gluten-free and can be vegan!

Hamentashen

Hamentashen are a traditional Jewish cookie, served at the holiday Purim. They are shaped like the three-cornered hat of Hamen, the villain in the Purim story.

Oh today we’ll merry, merry be.
Oh today we’ll merry, merry be.
Oh today we’ll merry, merry be.
And nosh some Hamentaschen.  :)

How to shape the dough

How to shape the dough

Years ago, I wanted to try making gluten-free Hamentaschen. So I searched the web and found a recipe by someone named Ellen Switkes. It works great! I have been making this recipe for years. The Hamentashen come out tasting a bit more like cookies and a bit less like bread dough than traditional Hamentashen — they are very yummy.

This year my daughter and I tried making this recipe vegan. The Hamentashen came out great that way too!

Hamentashen

Hamentashen after baking

The one thing that I will do differently next year is that this year I used some teff flour in my flour mix, and teff makes dough look brown and whole-wheat-y. So next year I plan to use a flour mix next year that doesn’t have any teff in it, so that the Hamentashen come out looking more of the color of traditional Hamentashen.

 

 

Twice I have made Rainbow Hamentashen. Someday I will post the recipe! The batch in the picture below was particularly neat because all of the coloring was done with food: beets, cocoa powder, and spinach. Yum!

 

 

Ellen Switkes says: Don’t wait until Purim.

rainbow hamentashen

Hamentaschen - gluten-free and can be vegan!
 
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Hamentashen are a yummy traditional dessert food for the Jewish holiday Purim. These are gluten-free, and optionally vegan. Happy Purim!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: 29 Hamentaschens
Ingredients
Dough
  • 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour mixture (for example 3/4 cup each quinoa flour, garbanzo flour & potato starch - or whatever flour mix you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (only if you used gluten-free flour, and only if it doesn't already contain this)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (or 2/3 teaspoon baking soda + 2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar)
  • 1/2 cup oil (eg. organic canola oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
Filling
  • chocolate chips, or other traditional Hamentashen filling such as jelly or stewed dried apricots
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If you are using flax eggs, mix them up and let them sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients, to prevent lumps.
  4. Add the wet ingredients, including the eggs or flax eggs. Stir well.
  5. The dough should have the consistency of fabulous fresh playdough, straight from the can. If it is wetter or dryer than that, add some flour mix or a tablespoon of water and stir again, and repeat until you have a dough with the perfect consistency.
  6. Break off a blob of dough that is about 1 inch in diameter. Roll it into a ball, then pat it into a flat circle on a fabulously non-stick cookie sheet. The circle should be about 2 1/2 inches wide. Carefully pat any raggedy edges together, so that you end up with edges that are perfectly smooth and round.
  7. Put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of filling in the middle of the circle. Less filling works better than more -- you can always add another dab of filling after the cookie is shaped if you want to. Then carefully fold each of the three sides upward, forming a triangle. Pinch the corners together, so that it will hold its shape. If it cracks, just pat it back into shape, seal the crack, and it should be fine.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Yum!
  10. Ellen Switkes says: Don't wait until Purim.

 

Chocolate Mousse – gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, quick, and my kids love it!

Chocolate Mousse

When I first tried this recipe, I wrote in the cookbook, “Drop-dead FABULOUS mousse!!!!!

Because it is!!!!!

It is also easy to make, healthy, vegan, and my kids and I love it. What more could you ask of a recipe? :)

The pictures show the mousse with fruit. I like to use the mousse as a topping for fruit. My kids like plain mousse without fruit added. That’s perfectly fine — the mousse itself is made of fruit, so it is healthy even if you don’t add more fruit to it.

In addition to fruit, my favorite way to serve it is with a pinch of cardamom on top. I love cardamom — it is a magical addition to this mousse.

The original version of this recipe came from the cookbook “Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People” by Jennifer Cornbleet. (I have linked to a newer edition of the book than the one that I have — an edition that I have never seen.) I changed the recipe by replacing maple syrup with more dates, and by increasing the quantities in the recipe so that it uses two avocados instead oChocolate Moussef one and a half.

A food processor works much better than a blender for this recipe. And you need a good sturdy food processor for this. I have a Braun Multiquick food processor that I really adore. I am convinced that Braun makes the best food processors, much better than any other brand, because theirs are sturdy and have a lot of attention to important details. Like for example, I used to have a KitchenAid food processor where the edges of the lid fit onto the outside of the bowl, which meant that splatters all ran down the outside of the bowl. The Braun has a lid that fits inside the bowl — which means that any splatters run down inside the bowl, which is where I want them. Best of all, the bowl on the Braun has no hole where the blade connects to it, so you can put easily twice as much food into the Braun compared to the KitchenAid. Anyway, I can go on and on about why I like Braun food processors, but I won’t ask you to wade through any more about it. The link from this blog to Amazon will send me a tiny percentage of the purchase price if you buy what I linked to, but other than that I have no relationship with Braun except as a satisfied customer. But so far my total income from Amazon for this blog has been exactly zero, so this is not exactly a get-rich-quick undertaking. :-P

This recipe uses dates. Dates vary a lot, from tougher dry ones to wetter soft ones, but any dates should work fine in this recipe. Make sure to remove the pits, if yours have pits, and check every date for bits of stem to remove, because sometimes a date will still have a collar of hard stem attached to it. Also, even pitted dates sometimes still have a pit, so it’s helpful to check for that, too.

Too much chocolate can keep me awake at night, so I often replace half of the cocoa powder in this recipe with carob.  I like Foods Alive organic carob powder. This recipe tastes almost exactly the same when it is made with half carob and half cocoa powder — and it is much less likely to keep me awake at night.

The most important ingredient in this mousse is perfectly ripe avocados. If you have never tried a recipe like this, using avocados in this way may sound very strange to you. But it works really well in this recipe. There is no green color or avocado-y flavor. The finished mousse tastes like a rich, chocolate dessert.

To check the ripeness of an avocado, do not poke it with your finger. That will leave black spots inside the avocado. Instead, hold it in your hand and see what the avocado’s skin feels like. If it feels hard, the avocado is not ripe. If it feels soft and smooth, like touching human skin, then the avocado is ripe. Also the skin of most avocados turns black when it is ripe, so that is another way to recognize one.

Avocados go quickly from ripe to overripe, so once you have ripe avocados it’s necessary to use them within about a day, or you will lose them to overripeness. You can put ripe avocados in the refrigerator to delay this process — they can last for up to a week there.

Variation: To make this recipe chocolate-free, I have replaced the cocoa powder with a little ground cardamom — maybe 1/4 or 3/8 teaspoon. This makes a bright green mousse that my kids won’t touch, because of the color. But I love it that way. And if the kids won’t touch it, there is more for me!  :)

Chocolate Mousse - gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, and my kids love it!
 
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A rich, fabulous chocolate mousse, made from entirely healthy, raw, vegan ingredients -- mostly fruit! And only four ingredients! Even my picky eater kids adore this recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: French
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup dates, with pits removed -- also check each date for any hard stem pieces and remove them
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 perfectly ripe avocadoes -- remove pits, skin, and any black spots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder -- or 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup carob powder
  • optional: fruit or berries, such as cherries, blueberries, or strawberries
  • optional: a pinch of ground cardamom for each serving
Instructions
  1. Put the dates and water into a sturdy food processor. Blend for several minutes, until they form a smooth syrup. You will still be able to see bits of the skins from the dates, but the syrup itself should be smooth. Depending on your food processor and your dates, you may need to add a little extra water to get this to blend. Tip: I start blending this at slow speed, then raise the speed to high, to cut down on splashing and noise inside the food processor. The most important step to getting the mousse to come out really smooth is to blend this mixture until it is really smooth, even if it takes several minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients to the food processor -- except for the optional ones.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve plain, or with fruit, and/or with a pinch of ground cardamom on top.

 

Stroganoff – creamy, soothing, vegan, and gluten-free

stroganoff

I love this creamy vegan meal of pasta. It is warm, salty and soothing.

This is based on a Seitan Stroganoff recipe from the cookbook Friendly Foods by Ron Pickarski. But I have converted the recipe to be gluten-free and much quicker and easier than the original.

I love Ron Pickarski’s cookbooks –Friendly Foods and Eco-Cuisine. From what I read in his cookbooks, Ron Pickarski was a monk who worked in the kitchen at his monastery, and he had a medical concern that limited him to a vegan diet. I am amazed by the creative solutions he has come up with for making vegan food that is interesting and delicious. For example, he makes a sauce out of yellow peppers. His recipes are sometimes time-consuming, but they are very consistently very yummy food. Some of the recipes in his cookbooks have been entered into the International Cooking Olympics — and sometimes they won! I am intrigued by his creativity and thoughtfulness with food.

ps. Check out the “music” table napkin in the picture — I made it myself! My friend Carol Simmons taught me how to use a sewing machine, and my son Corbin picked out the fabric. :)

Anyway, onward to the recipe!

Stroganoff - creamy, soothing, vegan, and gluten-free
 
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This creamy, salty, pasta dish tastes too rich and yummy to be vegan, but it is!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces uncooked spiral pasta (or another shape)
  • 2 cups of your favorite "meaty" item, cut into bite-sized pieces (I like Butler Soy Curls - rehydrate 1 cup of them in warm water for this recipe; or if you can eat gluten, seitan works well in this recipe; or you can cut up six Tofu Pups; or use 1 cup of olives cut in half and with the pits removed)
  • 1 onion, diced - optional
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic - optional
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon stone-ground prepared mustard (I like Annie's brand Dijon Mustard)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons of umeboshi paste -- or 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce/tamari (I like San-J organic reduced-sodium gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (the brown toasted kind) (I like Eden brand)
  • optional: 1/3 cup green olives, pits removed and sliced into o-shapes (I adore Organic Divina brand olives, or sometimes I'll use Jeff's Natural's olives - black olives that are pre-sliced and a real time-saver)
  • optional: about 2 cups of frozen kale, defrosted (or fresh kale, chopped)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, if you are using soy curls, break the dry soy curls into pieces that are about 1 inch long or less. Put one cup of dry soy curls into a few cups of hot water, to start rehydrating. If you are using another "meaty item" instead, cut it up into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Heat the canola or olive oil in a big pot. If you are using onions, cook them in this oil until translucent. Add the garlic, if you are using it, and the mushrooms. Cook for 6-10 minutes, until soft.
  4. In a food processor, put only 1/2 cup of the water. Add the cashews. Blend until smooth. Add the dried parsley, mustard, cornstarch or potato starch, umeboshi paste (or honey and salt), and tamari. Blend for several minutes, until the mixture is creamy and super-smooth.
  5. Add the sauce mixture and the sliced olives (if using) to the pot with the mushrooms in it. Use the other 1 cup of water to rinse out the last sauce from the food processor, then add it to the mushroom mixture. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce boils, then turn off the heat.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, the mix it with all of the other ingredients, including the toasted sesame oil. Stir everything together well. Add more water to the mixture if needed.
  7. Serve!
  8. Yum!!

 

Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole – gluten-free, vegan, warm, soothing, and delicious

Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole

 

Potatoes and frozen veggies

Whole potatoes and frozen veggies

Oh my goodness it’s been a long time since I last posted here!!! I always have good intentions of posting twice a week — and then life gets in the way.

My daughter Kendra and I adore this recipe. It is my adaptation of a recipe for Southwestern Twice Baked Potatoes from the very yummy cookbook Forks Over Knives by Del Sroufe.

a diced potato

The easiest way to chop most veggies is to cut them in half first (from top to bottom, not sideways like in this picture!), so that you have a flat surface to put on the bottom.

I have changed the recipe enough that it barely resembles the original. Actually I feel a little weird about the changes that I made, because Forks Over Knives is an oil-free cookbook, and I have added some oil to this recipe. It feels disrespectful to fundamentally change a recipe like that. It’s like taking a vegan recipe and posting that you think that you made it better by adding meat — that feels wrong to me. But I do think that it’s important to have some fat in our diet. Fat is needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Plus, research shows that unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola and olive oils are associated with healthier outcomes. So I think it is important to include them in one’s diet.

Toasted potatoes

The bottom layer of toasted potatoes, before spreading them out evenly.

The original version of this recipe involved baking whole potatoes in the oven, then topping them with a variety of veggies and beans, and adding a creamy white sauce on top, made from blended tofu — a bit like sour cream but much healthier. I have speeded up this recipe by dicing the potatoes into little cubes before baking them. In addition to being much faster to cook, I think this dish is easier to eat that way, too.

All layers except for the sauce

All layers except for the sauce

The casserole after baking

The whole casserole after baking

Also, I have replaced the creamy topping with a salty version of my adaptation of the house dressing from the awesome vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant, located in Ithaca, New York. Like the main recipe here, my version of this dressing has diverged very far from the original version, but it is awesomely yummy. I have also given my salad dressing recipe its own page on this website, because it is so yummy that it is really worth talking about. But I am also including it as an ingredient here.

Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole
 
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My daughter and I totally adore this casserole, made of toasted potatoes, red bell peppers, corn kernels, black beans, and a creamy vegan sauce on top that is made from blended silken tofu that tastes like sour cream but is much healthier.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Potatoes
  • 6 cups of potatoes -- about 2 pounds
  • olive or canola oil
  • salt
Toppings
  • 1 red bell pepper, or about 1 cup of frozen, chopped bell peppers
  • 10 ounces of frozen corn kernels -- "supersweet" corn is good in this, though any kind should work
  • 1 15-ounce can or bag of black beans, drained and rinsed
Sauce
  • 1 12.3 ounce package of silken tofu (I like Mori-Nu organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive and/or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Dice the potatoes into cubes that are 1/2 inch or smaller.
  3. Place the diced potatoes onto a non-stick cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkle on some salt (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) and some oil (maybe 2 tablespoons).
  5. Stir the potatoes, oil, and salt until they are evenly mixed.
  6. Bake the potatoes in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on most sides. When I did not preheat my oven ahead of time, I clocked this step at 30 minutes. If your oven is fully pre-heated, figure maybe 20 minutes. When the potatoes are done, they should look like gorgeous cube-shaped nicely-browned french fries. If you are in a hurry, you can bake them less, just until they are soft when pierced with a fork. That will work fine too, though I think they are yummier when they are browned.
  7. Meanwhile, while the potatoes cook, defrost the corn in a bowl in the microwave. Microwaves vary, but in my microwave this takes about 4 minutes.
  8. If you are using fresh bell pepper, chop it. If you are using frozen, defrost it in the microwave.
  9. Rinse the black beans -- I like to put them into a strainer and run cold water through it to do this.
  10. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  11. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
  12. Carefully pour the hot potatoes and any oil that is with them into a 9x13 inch pan. Distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan.
  13. On top of the potatoes, add layers of beans, corn, and bell pepper, spreading out each one evenly.
  14. Pour the sauce on top. Use a spatula to spread it out to almost reach the edges of the pan, but not quite touching. (By not quite touching the edges, this keeps the sauce from sticking to the sides of the pan, which makes cleanup easier.) Keeping the sauce at about 1/4 inch of distance from the edges works well.
  15. Put the 9x13 inch pan in the oven, uncovered.
  16. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  17. Serve!