Monthly Archives: January 2014

Rum Balls

DSC_0193 - CopyWho doesn’t love a rum ball?!

For ukrainian christmas, my pop and I made these tasty vegan treats to serve with coffee. The traditional Ukrainian Christmas meal includes 12 dishes, all without meat or dairy. Essentially, it’s a feast full of mushrooms and beets and hearty grains.

This is the recipe we were inspired by. We added more melted chocolate, and rolled some in good quality cocoa powder (it made for a prettier plate). We also didn’t have a lot of dates so we made up for the difference with raisins (as a raisin fiend, I was very happy with this choice). The final touch, was that instead of the 4 tablespoons of rum, we did 3 tablespoons rum and 2 tablespoons cognac.

The one thing we were sad about was that as the hours passed, the alcohol either evaporated or was seriously absorbed by the fruit. Luckily these puppies didn’t wait too long to be consumed but it did pose an interesting problem.

HOWEVER, if you didn’t add the booze, these would be AWESOME energy bites/snacks. The dates provide the needed sugar for a good work out and the fat in the nuts would keep you satisfied and keep you going longer. Huh. From boozey party time to sweaty dancing time!

RUM BALLS: yields about 50 satisfying balls

  • 3 cups medjool dates (about 36 large dates)
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cocoa powder to coat

Method:

In a food processor pulse the dates, rum, cognac, vanilla, brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashews until they are chunky but well mixed. Drizzle in the melted chocolate and run the food processor until everything is finely chopped and sticking together.

Spoon the mixture into a large bowl and using your hands (or a wooden spoon), mix in the coconut. Once everything is well combined use your hands to roll out the balls.

If desired, roll the ball in cocoa powder (and tap off the excess).

Store in an air-tight container.

These balls were a huge hit with my fam… and I’m sure they will be with your fam too. (Unless your fam is my fam because my fam are my only readers… hehe)

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Much love and warmth.

Brazil Nut Butter

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This was a very fun activity! We made our OWN nut butter! My family is addicted to brazil nuts. For good reason. They are high in selenium and vitamin E. They basically prevent cancer! Maybe that’s a bit over the top… but for more info, here’s a simple and informative resource. (I’d also like to thank my wonderful sister¬†for letting us use her AMAZE-BALLS food processor)

We made 3 jars worth, one for my sister, one for my parents, and one for me to go home with (where ever “home” is…). Once it was all said and done, 5 cups of brazil nuts yielded approximately 850g of butter. 3 cups would nicely fill a 500g jar. I’m not sure if it’s possible to OVER process the nuts, but I wouldn’t recommend processing the nuts much longer after they’re turned creamy.

So let’s talk nut butters. They are the bomb, right?! Not only are they perfect on toast with jam or honey, a big spoonful on granola is also a good option. There’s also the option of using it in smoothies as thickener (and a protein boost!). Nut butters also work wonders in dressings for salads, or pasta dishes. Nut butters are also a key ingredient in many vegan baking recipes; they work as a great binder in muffins and loaves and granola bars. They’re also wondrous in dips, and savoury spreads. As we know, each nut has a very different and distinct flavour. Although the flavour is milder in butter form, they all vary. While something like peanut butter has a very potent taster, here the brazil nuts offer a very mild nutty flavour that lend themselves well to act as a base for other flavours. Another benefit, is that brazil nuts are the cheapest bulk, raw nut!

I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in peanut butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter, hemp seed butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, walnut butter, hazelnut butter, and of course TAHINI (which is sesame seed butter). I’m not sure where I was going with this train of thought… basically any nut or seed can be turned into a butter to enjoy (and inhale by the spoonful).

To conclude, making your own nut butter is not only satisfying, but it’s also a cheaper alternative and it opens the doors to an infinity of possibilities. Imagine making a cashew-pecan nut butter. DROOL. Or walnut-almond. Or pistachio-cashew. Wow… I’m getting really excited over here… One final idea would be to add flavours such as cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, maple, sea salt, or cocoa. WAIT, what about adding herbs like dill or basil (they’d reduce the shelf life, but imagine cashew-dill butter on a cracker under some guacamole).

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RAW BRAZIL NUT BUTTER: fills one 500 gram jar

  • 3 cups raw brazil nuts

Method:

In a food processor, pulse the nuts 20-40 times. Scrape down the sides with a spatula then let the food processor run for about 2 minutes until the desired consistency is achieved. (The nuts will go through several stages where the nuts turn into a powder then into a sticky crumble, then into a weird ball. Then the oils will come out and finally turn into a wonderfully smooth butter.)

*NOTE: Nut butters are best kept refrigerated up to about 4-6 months.

Pops getting really stoked on the nut butter

Pops getting really stoked on the nut butter

A Vegan Christmas Day Dinner

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Firstly, forgive me. My christmas break was spent entirely away from my computer. For the first bit, that was by choice. However, some VERY unexpected technical issues cropped up with my computer and I’m now forced to learn Windows 8 (… what is this. How does anything work on this thing?!).

Secondly, my immediate family also eats vegan which explains the vegan christmas dinner (of course we all have “cheats” whether it’s a good cheese or some good chocolate or a good puff pastry. We all abide by the Pleasure Principle: if it feels good, do it. So if we want some dairy we’ll have it.). This year posed a good challenge for the chefs and bakers of my fam, but HOLY MOLY WE SUCCEEDED.

What is on that heavenly plate, you may ask. WELL. At the bottom, the two weird round things, are slices of the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast. It comes a frozen, giant log-type thing, and you let it thaw then bake for a few hours. You don’t need to baste it (or whatever), you just bake it. Making it a SUPER simple feast. Being part of a large meal, like this one, it feeds six perfectly.

Moving clockwise from the roast slices, (beyond the little lump of beet horseradish) are steamed peas and broccoli florets with dill and almonds. This was an awesome way to get some green on the plate. All we did was steam a few cups of frozen peas with a large head of broccoli that had been chopped into small florets. We then transferred it into a serving bowl, mixed in 3 tablespoons of fresh dill, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds and a fat pinch of salt. BAM. Easy greens. (Next time I’d add some lemon zest)

Moving on, we had Mushroom gravy (or something of the like) on fluffy mashed potatoes. The mushroom gravy has shiitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms… IT WAS DELECTABLE. It also had a drizzle of truffle oil that my sister brought back from Italy. The mushroom gravy also had mushroom bullion, a bit of water, a small onion, a few garlic cloves, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, pepper, red wine vinegar, and some chile flakes. The mashed potatoes were awesome because after boiling the potaotes, my pop used So Delicious coconut beverage and some Soy-Free Earth Balance butter spread to cream them up. Along with some salt and pepper, they were heavenly!

Finally, right in the middle, is a cranberry, pomegranate compote my pop made. From what I understood, he simply boiled fresh cranberries in diluted POM pomegranate juice. IT WAS AMAZING ON EVERYTHING. Tart AND sweet.

Sigh. My holiday was fabulous. It was spent goofing around with all of my favorite people. We ate so much amazing food, and drank so much good scotch and beer, and we had SO many painfully joyous laughs. I also saw my puppies, who I already miss. And the cats. I also read some great books and received some other great books.

I look forward to the rest of 2014. But more on New Years soon!

Stay warm and jolly in this odd, dark, and cold first month of the year.

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