29 May 2008

Mmmmmmmango Sorbet!

This absolutely simple and delicious sorbet is another remake from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. After trying several of the recipes from his frozen dessert book, I am now convinced he can do no wrong.

This sorbet is wonderfully smooth and tangy from both the mango and freshly squeezed lime juice. It's completely vegan, so have at it, my vegan friends.

While I usually prefer creamy frozen desserts, I can now say this mango sorbet tops my list of lovely light sweets to end a meal.

I didn't veer too afield of David's original recipe when I made it except for the following alterations:

1. I halved it,
2. I used frozen mango cubes from Trader Joe's (definitely worth it!),
3. I used agave nectar instead of sugar,
4. I used a LOT more lime juice, and
5. I omitted the rum and the salt.

Here's the recipe as I made it:


1 1-lb package of frozen, cubed mango
Scant 1/2 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup filtered, very cold water
The juice of 2 limes


1. Use a blender to puree the mango until smooth. (I used an immersion blender, and it worked like a charm.)
2. Blend in the remaining ingredients until well mixed.
3. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.
4. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

This is what mine looked like fresh out of the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment. I couldn't resist tasting just a small amount.

5. Pack the sorbet into small containers for single-serving, mango-loving experiences. It should make 5-6 ramekin-sized servings.

Please go visit David's blog for great information about living in and visiting Paris. He has such a great take on life, food, and culture.

27 May 2008

Book Review: Food 2.0

Charlie Ayers, former chef of search giant (and Blogger originator, for that matter) Google, has published "Food 2.0," a really useful cookbook packed with tips, recipes, and amusing stories. The dishes are as diverse as the employees at Google, but always healthy (or at least using whole, fresh ingredients). The recipes are very easy to follow and pretty simple to prepare. Those lucky ducks at Google!

The photo above is of the Coconut-Oatmeal Squares with Chocolate Chips recipe from "Food 2.0" that I've altered for this blog. I didn't fiddle with it too much so that I could get a true feeling for how Charlie's squares would taste. Aside from using agave instead of sugar, I substituted unsweetened carob chips for the chocolate chips, and added a small amount of coconut flour to account for the extra liquid.

Although I enjoyed the square I tasted (as did my regular Monday night tasters club), I'd probably noodle around with the recipe a bit more next time. For instance, I'd start by veganizing it, using oil for the butter and ommitting the egg. I'd definitely add some chopped nuts and substitute whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour. Finally, I'd add a touch more vanilla and some freshly grated nutmeg. Because the prep and cook time for this recipe is so short, I would definitely make these again soon (with the alterations noted above).

For now, here's the recipe as I made it:

(Inspired by Charlie Ayers' recipe for Coconut-Oatmeal Squares with Chocolate Chips, published in "Food 2.0.")


1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips
6 tablespoons melted butter cooled to room temperature
1 large egg beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a small baking pan (I used 7 x 11 in., the original called for 8 in. square) with parchment paper, using weights to make sure the paper stays put.
2. Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.
3. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients until well combined.
4. Whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla.
5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, making sure not to over mix the dough.
6. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan (of course, taking the weights out first).
7. Bake until just golden brown on the top (about 20 - 25 mins).
8. Using the parchment paper, pull the finished cookie flat out of the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Makes about 16 cookies, depending on how wide your cuts are.

20 May 2008

More on the Spicy Side -- Pumpkin Muffins

When you're working on a cookbook, you often look at the market to see if others are writing the same type of book or something slightly similar. Well, earlier this year, Ania Catalano published Baking with Agave Nectar, so I signed right up and bought it.

It's a lovely little book with very nice photos and a variety of interesting recipes. For the first try, I thought I'd give her Spicy Pumpkin Muffins a go. First, it was so nice to find and use a recipe that uses oat and barley flour. I've had some barley flour in my fridge for a while and was happy to use it in such a tasty recipe.

Second, this was my first time making muffins with pumpkin. I would definitely do it again. The muffins were really moist, yet not really heavy. The spices were a great touch, as were the add-ins. I used cranberries for raisins though, since I don't seem to tolerate raisins all that well anymore.

I made a little (8 minutes and change) movie of my experience baking the muffins, which I've included below.

It was awfully nice not to have to tinker too much with a recipe for agave nectar. Good show, Ania! I'll definitely be trying another recipe from the book soon. Enjoy the video. More notes follow it below.

In the baking portion, you probably noticed that I said 325 degrees F. I was mistaken, it was 350 degrees F. Also, when I tasted the muffin in the movie, I said that it was "gummy," and have since ate several of the muffins -- none of which were gummy at all. I'm thinking that it was just a single faulty muffin. Sorry about that.

Finally, those other muffins I've had since I made them on Sunday did not have the same stick-to-the-muffin-liner issue that the first one had. Could be that I should have waited until the muffin cooled completely. But that would have been very hard since the muffins smelled great.

Oh well. Live and learn.

What muffins have you made recently?

13 May 2008

Spicy Cookies!

These wonderful 5-Spice Almond Cookies are from the truly excellent Eat, Drink & Be Vegan cookbook by Dreena Burton. It's fast becoming one of my favorite books, despite not having nearly enough photos for my liking. However, her recipes are wonderful.

I wasn't sure about this one at first. Right after they came out of the oven and were just cool enough to touch, I gingerly broke one in half to taste it. It tasted like it had too much salt or baking soda. So, I let the other half cool completely before trying again.

A huge improvement. In fact, I didn't taste the salt or the baking soda at all on the second try. There was an even greater improvement the next day. When my friend Andrea tried them on Monday night (the day after they were baked), she gave me the thumbs up and declared them "yummy!" Oh, and gave me the thumbs-up signal to show she really enjoyed the cookies.

I won't print the recipe here because you really ought to go buy the book if you don't have it already -- you won't regret it in the least. The only changes I made to the recipe were:

1. Doubling the recipe because the yield seemed a little small for the place I was taking them.
2. Using an oven temperature of 325 degrees C.
3. Using 3 oz. of oil instead of 1/2 cup (for a doubled recipe).
4. Cutting the amount of sweetener to 3/4 cup of agave nectar instead of 1/2 cup of unrefined sugar and 2/3 cup of maple syrup.

The five-spice powder gives the cookies such an interesting flavor profile. I'm sure it's the fennel or the white pepper that took folks by surprise on Monday night. Lots of raised eyebrows, but many approvals as well. Mind you, someone else brought a very fancy carrot cake from Calandra's bakery, so there was mighty competition that night.

By the way, a few folks have asked where my little movies are. Glad you asked.

I recently tried making vegan marshmallows with agave nectar. The recipe, as I filmed it, failed so miserably that I had to make something else in the short time allowed without running the camera.

However, I'm planning to film the next Altered Plates recipe. So, you'll be getting some new wee films soon enough. I'll be doing the same for some reviews at Here and There, so check there too.

04 May 2008

Parsnips in a Cake?

Why yes! And they taste delicious in this fruity spice cake from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. Well, to be truthful, I couldn't tell they were there. Instead, I tasted the raisins, pineapple, and spices. I've made quite a few adjustments to "Anna's Country Spice Cake," but I'd bet I captured the spirit of this cake.

Why would one want to eat parsnips in the first place? Well, for one thing, they are very high in vitamin C and folic acid. Parsnips also provide a lot of fiber and potassium to their eaters. Overall, this white root has more bang for the buck than it's cousin the carrot. So, if you want to make a carrot cake, rethink it in favor of the humble parsnip.

Speaking of cakes, this one reminds me a LOT of a carrot cake, but without the carroty flavor. Next time, I'll make it with fruit-sweetened cranberries instead of raisins. Raisins seem too sweet to me these days. The best part about the cake is that it is moist and light, despite all the liquid and seemingly heavy ingredients. It seems like it could easily do without the eggs in order to veganize it. Just substitute the appropriate amount of flaxseed meal.

Finally, I used a 7 x 11 in. pan instead of the 8 in. square pan called for in the recipe. This yielded a much shorter baking time, even at a lower temperature.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

Inspired by "Anna's Country Spice Cake" from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.


2.5 oz vegetable oil (a tablespoon shy of the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in the original)
scant 3/4 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated parsnips
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (do not drain; this is contrary to the original)
3/4 cup minus two tablespoons white flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I mistakenly left this out -- it was fine without it)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces


1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Oil the pan and dust it with flour. (I'd like to say this made a difference, even with the non-stick pan I used, but it didn't. You're probably better off just lining your pan with parchment paper.)
2. Beat the oil, agave, and eggs until well combined.
3. Mix in the parsnips.
4. Mix in the lemon zest and crushed pineapple.
5. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the raisins and nuts. Mix until combined.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in two batches until there isn't any more dry mix.
7. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
8. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 35 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Just a tip, be sure to pay attention to the oven temperature. If it winds up in the 330s, lower the temperature so that it averages around 315.


02 May 2008

Slow Oats for Breakfast

When I found out a recent blood test (not fasting, mind you) discovered an elevated cholesterol level, I went on the offensive. Breaking out the slow-cooker, I made enough steel-cut oatmeal for 8 breakfasts.

The pink color in the slow cooker above isn't a trick of the light, it's due to the Trader Joe's freeze-dried strawberries I added to the mixture. Actually, I added a lot of stuff to this oatmeal: almond milk, extra oat bran, flax meal, hazelnuts and more. To sweeten it a bit, I added some agave nectar. That really made a difference -- since then, I've made different versions with other dried fruit, but without the agave, and it's just not as good.

But it's still crunchy from the nuts; chewy from the oats; sweet and tangy from the fruit; and chock full of healthy, cholesterol-lowering goodness.

Here's my recipe:

Deb's Slow Oats

Makes 8 portions.


4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries (or any dried fruit)
1/4 cup museli (chose one with lots of nuts, seeds and dried fruit)
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup water


1. Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir well.
2. Turn the cooker on high and leave it for 2 hours.
3. Spoon into 8 containers and heat for breakfast when desired.

I added a little water to the chilled oatmeal each day to loosen it up.

By the way, I had blood drawn today and will find out next week what my number should be. I'll certainly post it here.

What do you put in your oatmeal?