Thursday, May 31, 2012

Herbed Quinoa White Bean Salad


I love white beans.  I have mentioned this before, and there is no hiding it. If there is a pot of white beans on the stove in the deli where I work, 99% of the time they are mine.  In some of my coworkers have begun to call the navy beans the Amy beans.  I guess with the type of cooking I do, they just seem to go best, and I can also blame my Mother who always bought white beans.  It was always cannelini or navy or great northern...all white!  I recently heard that they are good for your health as well, so maybe I am onto something with my (as my coworker called it today) obsession.  Coworker was complaining that the garbanzo beans took too long to cook, so I jokingly told her she should have used white beans...she told me I was being snarky today, and I was.  But it is true, they do cook faster! 


I made a salad last night when I got home using the fabulous white beans, combined with quinoa for a substantial supper.  I added some toasted hazelnuts for crunch, and some currants for a little sweetness. But it needed some green and since I had finally managed to plant my herbs this week, I thought they would be wonderful in it as well!  So basil and thyme joined the party!  I tossed it with olive oil and lemon and it was delicious as a finished dish!  They may be silly white beans to my coworkers but I love em'!


Herbed Quinoa White Bean Salad
Serves 4

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup dried white beans
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dried currants
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of one large organic lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed about 15 minutes, or when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Drain, and let cool. Place beans in a medium pot and cover with water by about 4 inches.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.  Cook until beans are tender, about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the freshness of the beans.  Drain and let cool completely.  If you wish to skip this step, you can use 2 oz 15 cans of white beans drained and rinsed.  In a large bowl, combine quinoa, beans, hazelnuts, herbs, currants, olive oil, lemon juice and zest along with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Toss well, and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wild Rhubarbtini


As I head out for my morning run, I ignore the sound of the traffic and the smell of the pollution as the cars and busses go by...I am half asleep, anyhow and there isn't much to see.  That is until I get away from the noise and enter the woods.  I then begin to breath in the fresh air, which is like nothing else.  The smell of the vegetation, wild flowers and wood on the path below my feet.  I forget about the paved roads and cars I passed on the way here and just enjoy.  All I can hear is my feet hitting the ground, the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, and the song of the birds and insects as they call out to each other creating a beautiful syphony.  I pass lovely little purple and white wild flowers, ferns curling their way up from the ground and some of the most luscious looking wild rhubarb.  If I were not running, I would stop to pick a large bunch and bring it back home with me as I am sure no one else will.  But it is meant to remain growing there for the remainder of the season until it goes to seed.  It is its lucky day, because I would have loved to have disturbed it. 


I begin to think about rhubarb and what can be done with it for the remainder of my run...so many delicious things, mostly desserts, but then something that stands out in my mind...a cocktail!  Maybe it was the fact that I was thirsty at the time, but I knew I must later create it! 


Since I had rhubarb that was given to me in my fridge at home, I made a Wild Rhubarbtini.  It had a gin base, a touch of honey and lemon and of course the rhubarb.  It was herbal and floral, tart and sweet, refreshing and wonderful in every way...like running through the woods.  Sometimes we all just need a little escape! 


Wild Rhubarbtini
Makes 1

Drink:
1/4 cup cubed rhubarb
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp filtered water
a few fresh sprigs of thyme
6 large ice cubes
4 oz gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
 a strip of rhubarb
a sprig of thyme

Puree the rhubarb, honey and water together until smooth.  In a martini shaker add the ice, and muddle it with the thyme until it is fragrant.  Add the rhubarb mixture, gin and juice and place top on shaker. Shake until well blended. Pour the drink into a chilled martini glass through a strainer, garnish with thyme and a strip of rhubarb and serve!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Cheesecake


I managed to get my run in yesterday morning and then it decided to down pour.  But I didn't mind because I was not out in it.  Just because it is raining outside doesn't mean it has to be a bad day...I prefer to look at it as an opportunity to create deliciousness in the kitchen!  So I put in my Adele CD and watched the rain through the window as I started out creating my recipe. 


Peanut butter sounded really good...but not cookies or bars, some form of creamy dessert.  Cheesecake!  I know I have made a lot of them lately but it is my favorite dessert in case you couldn't tell.  But not a strait peanut butter cheesecake, peanut butter banana with a bit of chocolate for good measure.


I decided that this was going to be vegan, because I have plenty of raw cashews on hand, and no cream cheese.  You cannot classify this as raw however because I used roasted peanuts in the base as they taste so much better in my opinion! 


I even made the crust from peanuts, and it was simple and delicious, just peanuts, dates and sea salt.  I could have just snacked on it, but then I would have no crust!  For the filling, I added cashews for smoothness, peanuts and peanut butter for flavor blended with coconut oil, agave nectar and vanilla.  I threw in a few small bananas, as they were to be an important flavor component! 


I blended cocoa powder into half the filling, to create a marbled cheesecake.  I suppose I could have made the whole thing chocolate but I wanted to taste the banana and peanut butter as well!  But the peanut butter in the base wasn't enough for me...I love the stuff, and I wanted it to be very present so I made a peanut butter swirl in the cake as well! 



I couldn't wait to try it all together, because tasting the components separately was delicious...I imagined it to be 10x more heavenly!  It totally was!  It was hard to wait for it to set up, but the 5 hours was nothing compared to the baking and cooling time of a dairy cheesecake. 


It was amazing!  Decadent, creamy, smooth peanut buttery goodness with a hint of banana and rich dark chocolate!  I sat and watched the rain as I enjoyed every last morsel of that piece of cheesecake...it was peaceful, and I didn't mind that the sun did not decide to show its face.  If you would like to enjoy some of this cheesecake for yourself, I have included the recipe.  Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!



Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Cheesecake
Makes one 6 inch cake
Crust:
3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Filling:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight, drained)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (preferably soaked overnight, drained)
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp coconut water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
2 small ripe organic bananas, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp organic smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Swirl:
1/4 cup smooth organic peanut butter
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cream Topping:
1/4 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh young coconut meat
1 tablespoons agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

Spray a six inch spring form pan with coconut oil spray (or other oil spray) and set aside.
To prepare the crust, process peanuts and sea salt in a food processor until the peanuts are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
To make filling, drain cashews and peanuts and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, agave nectar, coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla and bananas and peanut butter in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove the filling from the food processor and divide evenly between 2 bowls. Place half back into the food processor and add the cocoa powder. Puree until smooth. Whisk swirl ingredients together.  Drop the filling alternating between the plain and chocolate(in about 3 tbspful amounts) over crust in pan, as well as 3 tsp amounts of the peanut butter swirl until all is used up, sort of in a checkerboard fashion. Tap on the counter to level (keeping pan level) and swirl with a knife to create marbling. Place in the freezer until it is set, 6 hours.
To make topping, drain cashews and blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor, and set in the freezer about 30 minutes until a frosting consistency. Place in a pastry bag and pipe decoratively on top of the cheesecake. Keep refrigerated. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dark Chocolate Lavender Gin Truffles


As I walked into the large beautifully decorated room, I was greeted with the sound of many conversations.  The crowd was elegantly dressed in brightly colored ball gowns, and it appeared to be decorated for some special type of event or party.  I myself was wearing a long silk lavender dress, which was slightly difficult to walk in given the height of the heels I was wearing.  I spotted a table full of what looked to be delicious desserts and I walked over for a closer look.  As I got closer I saw many different types of petit desserts...macaroons, petit fours, and truffles.  A platter of dark chocolate truffles caught my eye and I decided I had to have one.  My mouth was watering and as I reached for it, and elderly lady who seemed to have come out of nowhere said to me "No!  you mustn't eat!  They are for the guests!"  I was confused, wasn't I a guest?  I ignored her and reached for one anyhow and she slapped my hand.  The truffles turned into what appeared to be some sort of sparking glass, then...I woke up.  I was dreaming... I was in my bed, and my hand hurt, although it had not been real.  I must have been sleeping on it funny, because it felt tingly as the blood rushed back in.   What an odd dream, I thought to myself!  I guess that is what I get for being on Pintrest before bed!


As I was out on a run later, I couldn't help but think about truffles.  Well, since this is real life, I thought I CAN have them without anyone slapping my hand.  So I decided to create some truffles inspired by my unusual dream.  They would be dark chocolate, and would contain lavender since I was wearing a lavender gown.  I decided to add a little gin as well, because it is sort of elegant in its herbal quality, and it is so refreshing during the warm months which we are now in.  I knew the truffles would be delicious!  For the base, I used a combination of coconut milk and good quality vegan dark chocolate with a touch of vanilla.  It creates wonderfully silky truffles without heavy cream which I don't usually have on hand. 


I infused the truffles with dried lavender and added enough gin to make them boozy!  I tasted some of the mixture before it had a chance to harden, and I had to restrain myself from eating a large part of it because it was so delicious! 


I dipped the truffles in more dark chocolate and garnished them with a little lavender to make them pretty.  I couldn't wait to taste one...and nobody was going to tell me I couldn't eat them or slap my hand.  I picked one up, and was going to take a bite when I thought oh, what the heck...and popped the whole thing into my mouth. Improper I know, but it was amazing!  It was decadent and rich, intense dark chocolate with a hint of floral lavender and quite boozy from the gin!  It probably tasted better than the truffles in my dream would have! 


If you would like to try some for yourself, I have included the recipe!  I hope you all are having a wonderful week!


Vegan Dark Chocolate Lavender Gin Truffles
Makes about 20

3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (the thick part from the top of the can)
10 oz vegan dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dried lavender
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp gin
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
dried lavender for garnish
Place the finely chopped chocolate in medium heat-safe bowl and set aside. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat with lavender until it is just under a boil then remove from heat and pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and whisk them together along with gin and vanilla extract until the chocolate is melted and it becomes a smooth ganache. Press a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the ganache, and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to scoop and roll, about 1 hour. If you wait too long it will get very stiff and hard to work with, so check it after an hour to make it easy to shape the truffles. Use a spoon to form small balls from the ganache, and roll them between your hands to get them round. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm. To make coating, melt the remaining 8 oz chocolate in the microwave until it is smooth and fluid (stirring after 30 second intervals). Using forks or dipping tools, dip a truffle until it is completely submerged in the melted coating, then bring it up out of the coating and tap the fork against the lip of the bowl to remove excess. Place the truffles on a foil-covered baking sheet, and while it is still wet, top each with a little dried lavender if desired. repeat with remaining truffles and place sheet in the refrigerator to set the coating for about 15 minutes. They are best served at room temperature.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Coconut Raspberry Rhubarb CrumbleTart


You can't always get what you want...like the song by the Rolling Stones says.  I can remember when I was little and I would be begging my Dad for something and he would start singing that song for me, or play the tape.  I hated it with a passion, because I knew I was not going to get what I wanted.  He thought it was very funny however.  If you are not familiar with what I am talking about, the song title is "You Can't Always Get What You Want", by the Rolling Stones and the lyrics go..."You can't always get what you want, and if you try sometime you find you get what you need."  Or the jist of the song at least. Now as an adult, I can appriciate that song.  I mean, it is so true.  Sometimes I wish I could sing it to people that freak out when they don't get their way...but I suppose that would be a bit inappropriate in some situations.  I remember being in the produce department a while back and a lady freaking out at the produce guy because they didn't have arugula.  So buy spinach...it is called improvisation and an important skill to have.  So...I was going to make a strawberry rhubarb tart this weekend but I had forgotten to buy the strawberries!



No worries though, I had frozen rasberries and I decided that they would do!  I didn't get what I had initially wanted, but it was still just as delicious if not even more so.  I wanted to make a crumble tart using berries and rhubarb, because it just sounded so good!  For the crust I used a combination of coconut flour and almond flour sweetened with coconut sugar and made rich with coconut oil.  I knew it would be wonderfully nutty and flavorful. 


I made a quick jam using the frozen raspberries and fresh rhubarb I had, laced with a little vanilla and agave nectar for sweetness.  I then topped it off with a crumble topping made from the same ingredients as the crust plus oats and large flake coconut! 



I knew it would taste wonderful...it smelled so good as it cooled!  I scooped some Roasted Rhubarb Honey Cardamom Ice Cream onto the plate with a large slice and couldn't wait to dive in!  It tasted even better than it looked...the jammy tart sweet filling, the crumbly toasty nutty topping and crust, it was quite heavenly! 


I may not have gotten what I wanted, but something even better.  Sometimes it is nice to be forced to try something different because you don't have the right ingredients on hand...you may just end up with a new favorite!  If you would like to try some of the tart for yourself, I have included the recipe! 

Coconut Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble Tart
Makes 1 8 inch tart


Raspberry Rhubarb Jam*
12 oz organic raspberries
2 cups organic rhubarb
1/2 cup agave nectar
a pinch of sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Crust:
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar or maple sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
6 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid

Topping:
4 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp almond flour
3 Tbsp coconut sugar or maple sugar
4 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup large flake coconut


For the jam, combine all ingredients except vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook until jammy, stirring often for about 35-45 minutes.  When jam consistency, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Let cool slightly.  Preheat the oven to 350.  To make crust combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with hands until it holds together a bit when squeezed.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of an 8 inch tart pan with removable bottom and bake for about 15 minutes until set and starting to brown a little.  Remove from oven and spread jam over it.  Combine all the topping ingredients and mix together with hands until clumps form.  Sprinkle over the jam and place back in the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes until it is lightly brown and crisp.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. 


*If you like, you can use your own jam, about 2 1/2 cups worth

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Strawberry Lavender Lemonade


We hit our first 90 degree day in Minnesota yesterday...and I can tell my body is not used to it yet.  I was standing over my cutting board chopping veg for a salad at work and I could feel myself starting to sweat uncontrollably under my chefs coat.  I could not help but think about how good a strawberry lemonade would be at the time to cool me from the inside.


When I got home I did just that...made myself a strawberry lemonade!  I had some lavender syrup on hand as well, so I decided to add that instead of honey for a floral note.  Afterall, it was Friday and I thought I deserved something special! 


Now I suppose I could have added booze...afterall, gin would be wonderful with the strawberries lemon and lavender, but another time.  This was so refreshing and delicious, I didn't think about missing it.  The lemonade was sweet with the perfect amount of tart, and the lovely scent of lavender!  I am ready for summer, especially when I know I can prepare cooling deliciousness like this for myself! If you would like to enjoy one as well, I have included the recipe!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Strawberry Lavender Lemonade
Makes 1

1/4 cup fresh organic strawberries, pureed
2 Tbsp lavender syrup* or to taste
2 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
ice cubes

Add strawberries and lavender syrup to a glass with 2 cups water, 1/3 cup lemon juice and a few ice cubes, and stir until blended.
 
*Lavender syrup
1/4 cup raw coconut nectar or raw local honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp dried lavender flowers
Combine all ingredients in a small jar, and shake to dissolve syrup.  Let sit at least overnight to infuse and keep in the fridge for up to a few weeks.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Roasted Rhubarb Honey Cardamom Ice Cream


Some people eat when they are stressed, but not me.  When I am stressed I run.  There is something about being out in the fresh air that clears the head, not to mention getting out energy in a positive way.  I was having one of those days recently and all I needed was a good run to put my mind set back in the right place.  After a mile I started feeling better and my mood only improved the rest of the 8...the fresh air fragrant with the scent of lilacs, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and the song of the birds was so calming.  The things that happened that day to stress me didn't matter anymore they were behind me.  I was feeling 100x better when I unlocked my front door to go back in the house, and I remembered a bag of fresh rhubarb that a coworker had given me. 


Maybe it was because I was hot from running, but  ice cream sounded good to me, so I decided to make rhubarb ice cream.  Not just plain rhubarb ice cream, roasted rhubarb honey cardamom ice cream.  I knew it wouldn't be ready to eat until the next day, but that was alright. 



I used my coconut milk ice cream base, blended in rhubarb I had roasted in the oven until it was flavorful and added honey for sweetness and cardamom for spice.  The base was wonderful, and I knew it would be even more fabulous once frozen. 
It was delicious once it had ripened in the freezer overnight!  Creamy and silky, a tad tart from the rhubarb and slightly sweet with a hint of honey and cardamom! It was so refreshing!  I know it would be fabulous atop some strawberry rhubarb crisp!  If you would like to enjoy some for yourself, I have included the recipe!  Hope you all are having a wonderful week!


Roasted Rhubarb Honey Cardamom Ice Cream
Makes 6 cups

Ice Cream:
4 cups organic rhubarb, sliced into 1 inch pieces
coconut oil, warmed to liquid
3 cups organic full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and line a sheet pan with foil.  Toss rhubarb with just enough coconut oil to lightly coat and spread out on pan.  Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and drain any juices from rhubarb reserving them.  Place juices in a saucepan and reduce until syrupy.  Combine with roasted rhubarb and puree until smooth. Combine rhubarb and all remaining ingredients in a blender, and process until well blended. Pour the mixture into a container and chill in the fridge until very cold preferrably overnight.  When chilled, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later). Once processed, pour into a freezable container with a lid, and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours, or overnight to firm up for best results.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Raw Vegan Strawberry Key Lime Swirl Cheesecake


Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful Mom!  Really, she is more than my Mom but also a best friend.  I very much appriciate all that she has done for me, and the way she has always been supportive of the things which are important to me that I choose to go after.  We have always been close.  The other day we were remeniscing about when I was younger and we had matching shirts...they were hideous.  Big T-shirts with lions on the front...which we would now consider tacky, but hey, it was the 90s!  I can remember begging her to curl my hair like hers with the big bangs around the same time when I was about 6 or 7 because I wanted to be just like her.  I still very much admire her although I now have my own style.  I still borrow jewelry once in a while though. 


I am cooking her dinner tonight, but we went out for an early Mother's Day dinner at Alma Restaurant in Minneapolis last night so we could relax and enjoy.  We always have a lot to discuss when we go out to dinner and last night was no exception.  I know we will always be close!


Since the raw cheesecake I made last weekend turned out so well, I thought I would make another one this weekend.  But it would be much more beautiful than the last, as this one was for Mother's Day!  My Mom and I have always shared a love of key lime and all things tart, as well as strawberries so I thought I would combine the two in the raw cheesecake! 


I was going to put a layer of key lime on the bottom and strawberry on the top, but I decided that it would be much prettier if I swirled the two, so each piece got a little of both and both flavors were visible from the top. 


For the crust I used a simple pecan, date and sea salt mixture, as is traditional, so not to distract from the scrumptious filling.  I put plenty of lime flavor into the filling both in the form of zest and juice because I wanted it to be very present. 


I blended fresh organic strawberries into half, and it was such a beautiful pink color!  Both fillings were so luscious and delicious, I could have sat there and ate them with a spoon...but I knew they would be even better in the finished cheesecake!


Once the cheesecake was all assembled it was so beautiful with the pink and green marbled filling!  After it was allowed to set in the fridge, I piped a little decoration around the edges and it was perfect!  Mom loved it as well, commenting that it was one of the most lovely cheesecakes she had seen!  It tasted even better than it looked...silky smooth, sweet tart lime and luscious berry in a decadent filling with a nutty crust!  It was so heavenly! Mom loved it as well and told me that she prefered it to regular cheesecake anyday! 


If you would like to make some for yourself, I have included the recipe!  You will love that it requires no baking, just a food processor and a springform pan!  If you wish to make a 9 inch, just double the recipe.  Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!  Hope you have a fabulous day, you much deserve it!



Raw Vegan Strawberry Key Lime Swirl Cheesecake
Makes one 6 inch cake


Crust:
3/4 cup pecans
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped



Filling:
2 1/2 cups cashews (preferably soaked overnight), divided 
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp organic lime zest
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
a few spinach leaves (to color green if desired)
1 cup fresh organic strawberries

Cream Topping:
1/4 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh young coconut meat
1 tablespoons agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)


Spray a six inch spring form pan with coconut oil spray (or other oil spray) and set aside.
To prepare the crust, process pecans and sea salt in a food processor until the pecans are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.

To make filling, drain cashews and combine them with lime juice and zest, agave nectar, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove the filling from the food processor and divide evenly between 2 bowls.  Place half back into the food processor and add the spinach leaves to tint green and process until smooth and uniform, scrape back into the bowl and rinse out food proocessor.  Stir 1 cup strawberries into the other half of the filling and place back in the processor.  Puree until smooth.  Drop the filling alternating between the lime and strawberry (in about 3 tbspful amounts) over crust in pan until all is used up, sort of in a checkerboard fashion.  Tap on the counter to level (keeping pan level) and swirl with a knife to create marbling.  Place in the freezer or fridge until it is set, 4 hours or overnight (overnight in the fridge, but the freezer might get too hard after a few hours).
To make topping, drain cashews and blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor, and set in the freezer about 30 minutes until a frosting consistency. Place in a pastry bag and pipe decoratively on top of the cheesecake.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strawberries with Raw Almond Coconut Lavender Cream


Sometimes only a decadent dessert will do...and that was yesterday after work!  The weather was kind of eh...it was dripping a bit outside and something sweet sounded good to me! Afterall, it was National Eat What You Want Day...so I was going to eat what I wanted!  I was craving something with cream and strawberries, but since I didn't have cream in my fridge I thought I would go about the raw vegan route with the cream.  Better for me anyhow, and why not be healthy and get what I wanted! 


I had fresh organic strawberries, raw almonds and a young coconut so I decided on strawberries filled with raw coconut almond cream!  It would be a simple yet delicious dessert to satisfy my craving.  The cream was really simple to prepare as I already had some soaked almonds and young coconut meat scooped out of the shell in the fridge.  I just buzzed it in the food processor with some vanilla bean, agave nectar and coconut oil, let it chill for a while and voila!  Delicious almond coconut cream! 


I decided that it needed some lavender for fragrance as well before I piped it into the berries so I whisked some in which made the cream even more delicious!  I thought a little chocolate would make the berries even better, so I served the with a simple chocolate sauce. 


They were amazing!  They tasted so decadent...just as much as if I had whipped some real cream, but even better!  The cream was smooth and light, creamy and a perfect match for the sweet berries.  When I took a bite I got the fragrance of the lavender as well and a touch of the chocolate sauce...so heavenly!  If you would like to enjoy some for yourself, I have included the recipe!  Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! 


Strawberries with Raw Almond Coconut Lavender Cream
makes about 24

24 organic strawberries, leaves and centers removed with a sharp knife

filling:
1/2 cup raw almonds pieces soaked at least 3 hours but preferably soaked overnight
1/2 cup water

3/4 cup fresh young coconut meat
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers

Chocolate sauce:
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut oil
pinch of sea salt

To make cream, buzz all the ingredients together in a blender send through a fine meshed strainer, pushing the solids against the bottom (to remove any chunks and create a smooth cream) and place in the fridge to firm up for about an hour (until firm enough to pipe). 
To fill berries, place cream in a pastry bag fitted with a larger tip and fill each berry. 
To make sauce, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. 
Serve berries atop sauce on a plate for a pretty and delicious presentation!