26 March 2009

Product Review: Organicville Agave-Sweetened Ketchup

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

The short (and a little too sweet for my taste) of it is that if you miss Heinz ketchup because you eschew high fructose corn syrup as well as regular corn syrup, Organicville's organic ketchup is the one for you. It has the same smooth consistency as Heinz as well. The color is bright red, from healthy, organic tomatoes. Essentially, it's an organic, "healthier" version of Heinz ketchup.

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

To be fair in my review, I did a similar comparison to the one I did with the Wholemato Ketchup review. Except this time, I made homemade home fries from some very tasty, leftover herbed roasted potatoes.

In all honesty, I prefer Wholemato organic agave-sweetened ketchup. It's fresher tasting, has far less sweetener, and has a lovely, pureed tomato texture and thick consistency that lets you know you're eating real tomatoes. It also makes a superior cocktail sauce. I just wish the stores here carried it.

Whole Foods in Princeton said they had it, but they didn't. That's how I ended up buying Organicville's ketchup. I thought, "I really enjoy Organicville's dressings, so their ketchup can't be bad." And, it isn't. It's just not my taste. Now, my husband John would probably like it because he enjoys Heinz.

Me? I'm a Wholemato girl all the way. It tastes like what I'd make if I made ketchup myself.

19 March 2009

Best Vegan Thumbprint Cookies Ever!

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

My go-to vegan cookbook for cookies is now Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. I've made agave nectar versions of her cookies before with great success, but these are over the top.

Even though they're vegan they taste genuinely buttery. She uses maple syrup and brown rice syrup along with a little bit of sugar in her original recipe, so making the agave leap wasn't a big deal. However, I used a completely different technique to create the cookie.

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

I made two different versions of these -- one close to the original, with walnuts and a strawberry all-fruit spread for the middle; and in the other, I used almonds and a lovely plum all-fruit spread. Fantastic! The almond version is what I'm bringing to a St. Joseph's Feast celebration tonight, because traditionally, almond cookies are served (albeit, not ones like these) for dessert along with zeppoles.

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

The texture of the almond version is not as smooth as the walnut cookie, but slightly crunchy. I love that she uses barley and oat flour for these cookies. You can taste the oats much more in the walnut version than in the almond cookies. I'm definitely going to try these with other flours and nuts. I kept thinking that cashews would make an amazing cookie. With those, I'd probably make some kind of carob-y ganache to use as a filling.

Because I altered the recipe significantly, I'm publishing my version here. However, I strongly urge you to buy a copy of Dreena's wonderful Eat, Drink & Be Vegan for yourself.

The Best Vegan Thumbprint Cookies Ever (inspired by Dreena Burton's Jam-Print Cookies, from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)

Yield: approx. 32 cookies


2/3 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
3/4 cup barley flour
1/2 cup walnuts (or almonds, or your choice of nut or seed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil (I used olive)
Just under 1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Your choice of unsweetened fruit spread/jam


1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, grind up the oats until they are almost powder.
3. Add the nuts/seeds to the oats and grind until the mixture resembles crumbs.
3. Add the barley flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, then pulse for a minute until everything is well combined.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, agave nectar, and vanilla until well combined.
5. Add the liquid mixture to the food processor and process until the dough collects itself. This should take a maximum of 40 seconds (and that's long).
6. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the cookies, four to a row, evenly spaced, on the sheets. Place one of the sheets in the refrigerator.
7. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to a small bowl. You will use this to dip a small spoon into while you're making the depressions in the cookies for the jam. Dip the spoon into the water, shake off any excess water and use the spoon to gently make a nickle-sized depression (about 1/4 in. deep) into the center of your cookies. Wet the spoon each time. You'll need to do this and it makes it much easier, trust me.
8. Fill each of the depressions with your jam/spread of choice. Put that sheet of cookies into the fridge. Take the other sheet out and repeat step seven on those cookies while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
9. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes, then switch the sheets' positions in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
10. Let the cookies cool on their sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. This is a very important step because the cookies could break if you don't.
11. Enjoy!

10 March 2009

Recycling: Moosey Hamantaschen

This is the first time I've ever recycled a post, but seeing how it's Purim time, I thought those of you who celebrate, might appreciate the blog post below. FYI, I didn't publish the recipe as I made it, but I will be remaking these soon and publishing a full recipe since I anticipate major changes.

I've written and tested hamantaschen recipes before, but had yet to achieve the buttery crispness found in the bakery cookies I ate in my youth. That is, until I tried altering the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant hamantaschen recipe for agave nectar.

The cookies shown above are the result of my efforts. I made these while cooking another recipe, so I didn't make one of my short films about the experience. However, I can tell you that I only used half the recipe and made about 24 tasty cookies.

My alterations to the recipe included 1/2 cup coconut flour for part of the all-purpose flour called, 1 cup of agave for the sugar, 2 teaspoons pineapple juice for the orange juice, and a completely different set of fillings.

For the fillings, I used a base of chopped dried tart cherries and dried apricots. I hydrated these and drained them, then pureed them. I divided the puree in half, then mixed each with a different fruit-sweetened mixed fruit spread, respectively. One was a peach spread, while the other was this amazing concoction from Trader Joe's with pomegranate in it.

Both were wonderful foils for the buttery cookie. However, I plan to try this recipe again, substituting more coconut flour for the ap flour and using a poppyseed filling. I've had a bag of Pensey's poppyseeds in my cabinet for a few months mocking me. So, it's time to use them.

Just a tip for creaming butter with agave, make sure that the butter's softened to almost mush. It incorporates much better that way, and even gets to a nice, fluffy consistency quite easily with the stand mixer.

05 March 2009

Off Topic, But Worth the Trip

My pal Richard is known for many things, but one of his defining characteristics is his love of all things chocolate. This can be witnessed in his kitchen in various ways -- from the giant jars of chocolate candies to his freezer full of Godiva ice creams.

He usually tolerates my forays into desserts because I don't cook/bake with chocolate any more, but he has enjoyed my pie.

If you are a chocolate lover, treehugger, or science teacher (or just simply curious about what this truly interesting man has to say), go visit Richard's Chocolate Lab. It's on his blog today, but he's told me there will be more on other chocolate candies tomorrow (or soon enough). His blog is definitely worth the trip.

04 March 2009

Eat Me, Agave Nectar -- Coconut Oatmeal Carob Pecan Squares

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

I love the blog eat me, delicious. The recipes are fantastic, the photos are gorgeous, and the writing is clear and humorous. So, go visit! Especially, go visit this recipe to see the original of what I made above/below.

These are very tasty bar cookies. I've rearranged the title of the cookie a bit because they are much more coconutty than oatmeally, but ever-so-yummy nonetheless. I think when I make these again, I'll add a bit more agave nectar and use a little less coconut. It might make the pecans a little more pronounced. Another thing I considered was slivers of dried apricots. How fantastic would that be?

For my vegan friends, these are very easily veganized. Just use flaxmeal and non-dairy milk for the egg and 4 tablespoons of your favorite oil instead of the butter. In fact, next time I make these, it will be veganized as well.

OK, here's the recipe as I made it most recently.

Coconut Oatmeal Carob Peanut Squares


3 oz agave nectar
4 teaspoons melted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt


1. Oil an 8 by 8 in. baking pan. (I used a glass one.) Heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Beat together the agave nectar, butter, egg, and vanilla until completely combined.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients until well combined.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and mix well.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes until just golden brown.
6. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.