How much do I love this recipe? Let me count the ways. Number one, pear is an awesome, versatile, sweet (local and sustainable) fruit that should feature prominently on everyone’s weekly menu. Number two, I can’t say enough about cinnamon and ginger. We go through pounds of these two queens of the super spices in our tea, in our favourite tofu marinade, in stews and soups, and just about anything and everything. Number three, who can resist the temptation of carmelized organic cane sugar? (Enough said on that one.) And number four, with a dollop of coconut milk ice cream on the side, you get that hot/cold thing I’ve always loved as the ice cream melts into the sugary syrup.

3 – 4 medium-sized ripe pears

2 tbsps lemon juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

Peel the pears. Cut them in half and scoop out the cores. Place in a small baking dish with the pears packed in tightly. Drizzle the pears with the lemon juice and then sprinkle with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In a small heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat stirring carefully until the sugar melts and turns to golden brown. Drizzle over the pears until they are coated evenly.

Bake the pears in a preheated oven at 375F for 30 minutes, or until the pears are completely tender. Serve with a dollop of coconut milk ice cream and a generous ladle of the sugary syrup.


v:(alentine) gourmet

February 12, 2012

A friend complained to me the other day that she was stressed out about what to serve her sweetie for Valentine’s Day dessert. Let’s be honest – there are many things you should be doing on Valentine’s Day; stressing about dessert is not one of them. If you want to spend time in the kitchen cooking up a flourless chocolate cake, that’s fabulous. If not, why not put together a carefully curated selection of vegan chocolate, spiced pecans, and sliced pears to savour beside the fire after your Valentine’s Day feast?

I get my chocolate from Soma, my favourite chocolatemakers on the planet. Any of their dark chocolate is vegan by its very nature. The tumbled almonds are to die for. The old school chocolate bar has only two ingredients – cocoa nibs and cane sugar. Chocolate as it was back in the day, thousands of years ago. And then there’s always the chocolate with aleppo peppers or maldon salt or wild cherries, barberries, and cranberries. If you don’t have a Soma nearby, check out any of your local chocolate purveyors. You never know, if you ask, you might well receive. Happy v:(alentine’s) Day.

cranberry-apple spice cake

December 1, 2011

Some people say to me “eating vegan day-to-day is hard enough, but what about the holidays?” I say poo-poo to that kind of thinking. With things like this Christmas-y cake full of cinnamon and spice and all things nice like fresh cranberries, apples, and pecans, your holidays will be as festive as ever. This cake will be on my holiday menu for sure – tangy, sweet, and spicy. What better way to say happy mistletoe!

2 tbsps flax seeds

6 tbsps water

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup sunflower oil

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 ground nutmeg

1 tsp sea salt

2 cups sliced apples

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans (plus a few whole ones for decoration on top)

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.Grind the flax seeds in a spice grinder or mortal and pestle. Add water to the ground flax powder, whisk, and refrigerate for 15 – 30 minutes. (This is your egg replacement. Crazy eh? But it works. You can also put the flax seeds and water in a blender but I like using the spice grinder better.)

Meanwhile, cream the sugar and sunflower oil. Add the flax mixture from the refrigerator and mix well. Add the flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Blend together. The mixture will be thick and gooey. This is fine but if it’s too stiff, add a bit of extra water.

Stir in sliced apples, cranberries, and chopped pecans. Place in a 9 x 13 greased pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes.

lemon poppyseed cake

September 17, 2011

Breakthrough!!! I’ve found vegan baking a little difficult. It’s been the one transition that’s been harder than the rest. I guess it’s because when you are brought up in a house with  a mother, grandmother, aunts, and sisters who are all super-bakers of the egg, butter, and sugar sort, it’s a big shift to coconut oil and xantham gum. But yesterday I was wanting to make a special cake for a special baby shower and opened up Angelica’s Home Kitchen from the Big Apple and found this fantabulous lemon poppyseed cake. And it worked. And it was delicious. And it was full of super foods like poppyseeds and maple syrup. And I ate it last night as dessert. And I ate it this morning as breakfast. And everyone loves it. Crumbs and all. So mark this day, this 17th day of September 2011, as my v:baking breakthrough day and celebrate by pulling out your mixing bowls. Turn on that oven, get out that loaf pan, and bake away.

2  cups pastry flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder

2 tsps baking soda

1/3 cup poppy seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup lemon juice (juice from approx 2 lemons)

1/3 cup water

1 cup apple cider or apple juice

1 2/3 cups maple syrup

2/3 cup olive oil or sunflower oil

2 tsps vanilla extract

4 tbsps lemon zest (zest from approx 2 lemons)

1 cup super fine sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush 8 x 12 baking pan with oil. Add several tablespoons of flour and shake to coat evenly. Invert pans and knock against the counter to rid them of excess flour.

Whisk the flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds together in a medium-size mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon and apple juices, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and zest. Using a wooden spoon, stir the wet mixture into the dry to form a batter. Do not overmix. Transfer batter to the baking pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes before removing.

Meanwhile, mix together the super fine sugar and lemon juice. Once cake is removed from the pan, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the lemon sugar icing.

tarte aux abricots

July 20, 2011

So it was a lazy hazy day in Prince Edward County and I was lying on the beach (see my view above) at Sandbanks Provincial Park. One of our favourite places to go. I was drinking a little chilled local rosé, reading some mags, and enjoying the sound of the kids frolicking. I had made it through a bunch of design magazines and decided to move on to Maisons Coté: Nos 100 Meilleures Recettes de Vacances. Did I hit the jackpot or what? I was expecting a lot of cheese, meat, and all those lovely foodstuffs associated with the French and instead I got a treasure trove of Mediterranean-inspired dishes that, lo and behold, happened to be vegan. God love the south of France. Feast your eyes on the tarte aux abricots below, only made with nectarines. Have you seen anything look as tasty as that?

220 grams flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tbsps Grand Marnier

1 pinch of white pepper

3 tsps olive oil

5 tsps marmelade, of your choosing

a handful of apricots

a handful of currants

First, let me apologize for the following translation. Now, here’s what to do. In a mixer, combine the flour, baking soda, Grand Marnier, pepper, adding the olive oil last. Mix just until it forms a ball. Press the pastry into a pastry dish with your fingers and prick with a fork. Spread the marmalade onto the pastry and cover with apricot halves (rounded side facing up). Brush the surface with a little more marmalade and the currants. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

rustic peach galette

September 10, 2010

It’s hard to resist fresh Ontario peaches at this time of year. I bought way too many at the market the other day so decided to experiment with this Rustic Peach Galette. I have to admit I’m a total pastry snob – blame it on my mom. She comes from a long line of very adept bakers. Her pastry makes every other pastry seem tough, lifeless, and not worthy of its contents. Problem is it’s got butter and eggs. I was ecstatic when I found pre-made vegan pastry at the health food store. Truth be told, it doesn’t come close to the tastiness of my mom’s but it’s not bad. I served this galette at a dinner party the other night and the peaches got 6 out of 6; pastry got 4 out of 6. But every plate was licked clean. You got to admit, it looks pretty damn good!

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large peaches, pealed, pitted, and sliced

extra flour for workspace

¼ cup maple syrup

extra sugar for top of galette

1. Thaw the pre-made puff pastry dough.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place dough on top.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add peaches.

4. Fan peaches in a circular shape in the center of the dough circle, leaving a 1-2 inch border.

5. Fold dough over peaches and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

6. Remove unbaked galette from refrigerator and brush dough with maple syrup. Sprinkle extra sugar over the dough and fruit. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated oven at 375 degrees until crust is lightly browned.

Adapted from Chef Chloe Blog

I mentioned Salome in my post re: Mushrooms on Toast. She also figures in what I’m calling Drunken Peaches au Sirop d’Erable. She served these at a dinner party last week and thus gets all the credit. 100%. A true blend of where she’s come from and where she’s at now – culturally speaking. Porto from Portugal and Maple Syrup from Canada. Gotta love it.  Thank you Salome! My father, who’s a purist when it comes to peaches, even approved. Couldn’t be easier or tastier.

Fresh Ontario organic peaches


Maple Syrup

Wash the peaches. Don’t peel – why would you? They are fresh, the skin is good for you, and it’s just too much work. Slice the peaches into a large bowl. Drench in a liberal amount of Port. Coat with a generous helping of maple syrup. Toss. Let sit in the fridge to allow for full drunkeness. Just before you’re ready to serve, saute in a saucepan until you achieve desired level of ooie-gooie sticky sweetness. Serve just plain drunk or with some soy ice cream (I’m a convert I must admit. So Delicious is oh so delicious).

photo credit: Cameron Johnson

apple strudel

June 4, 2010

This recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm. It’s super easy to throw together if you use store-bought puff pastry. As they mention in their intro “Surprisingly, the most common brand of puff pastry sold at the grocery stores is actually vegan. It’s not the healthiest puff pastry in the word, but it’s definitely vegan, easy to use, and easy to find. Check the freezer section for it; it’s sold in sheets that come in a narrow, rectangular box. Keep one in your freezer and you’ll always be prepared.” I found an organic version at the local organic grocery store which is great.

1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted

3 tbsps organic cane sugar

1 1/2 tbsps all purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch allspice

1 pinch sea salt

2 to 3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp soy milk

sugar, for sanding

Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions (it takes about 30 -40 minutes to defrost one sheet). Preheat oven to 375. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice and then coat with the dry spice mixture. Unfold the puff pastry and roll out. Place the apples in a line down the middle. Fold the dough over and tuck in the ends. Brush the strudel with soy milk and sand generously with sugar. Using a serrated knife, make several diagonal slashes in the strudel. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and puffy. Let cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes before slicing, then serve.

Photo credit: Vicki Vegan