Fran Costigan’s Coconut Macaroons

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Just in time for Passover. Macaroons! When we were little, my mother bought those macaroons in the can. I loved them. Today, I made Fran Costigan’s macaroons which are reminiscent, but better than, those old faves.

The original recipe is actually for chocolate-dipped macaroons but we opted for plain. If you are into that, go to Fran’s website and find the recipe here. You can also get her amazing book Vegan Chocolate which is unbelievably beautiful and full of amazing (and easier than you might think) chocolate recipes.

My son and I made these macaroons just now, kind of on a whim, so we had to use what we had on hand. I hope Fran, or as we affectionately call her, Grandma Fran, doesn’t mind! We used coconut palm sugar instead of granulated sugar and flax instead of chia. They came out great!

Note: These are gluten-free and oil free!

makes 12 macaroons

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded coconut, divided
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons room temperature water)
1/4 cup coconut flour
7 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar, divided
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. Pour off the coconut, line the baking sheet with parchment and keep the oven on.

Place the ground flax in a bowl and cover with water. Whisk together.

In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, 7 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.

Whisk the flax egg well and then mix in the vanilla and coconut milk. Pour the liquid into the coconut flour mixture and mix to combine very well.

Press the dough together using your hands.

In a small bowl, combine the extra sugar and coconut.

Use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scooper to make each macaroon and squeeze it into a ball making sure the dough sticks together. Roll each macaroon in the coconut/sugar mixture and then press it onto the baking sheet flattening it just a bit.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Let cool. Enjoy!

Rustic Summer Tomato Sauce

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This is by far my most favorite sauce I make. Velvety tomatoes with a little kick. Personally, I like it chunky but if you prefer a smoother sauce, like my husband, run it through a Foley Mill.

serves 2

4 beautiful red ripe summer tomatoes
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of good organic tomato paste
Red pepper flakes, big pinch
Sea salt, big pinch
Spaghetti, enough for 2 people

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Make an “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Set up an ice bath.

When the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in and keep them in there for 30 seconds. Drop right into the ice bath. When the tomatoes are cool, peel the skin off. Next, core and de-seed the tomatoes and chop them up. Set aside.

Dice the onion. Drop into a sauté pan along with a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Dry sauté until the onions start to stick and then add a bit of water to deglaze the pan. Cook until the onions become translucent. (Use oil if you prefer.)

Grate the garlic with a microplane or press in a garlic press and add to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Two minutes is slightly arbitrary. Remember, cooking is an art,not a science, and you just have to keep an eye and nose out for what makes sense. The garlic should be getting soft and smell really good.

Add the tomato paste and stir around to coat the onions and garlic.

Get the pasta going.

Add the tomatoes and a splash of water (so that the pan is not dry). Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Cover and after a few minutes, reduce the heat. Cook for 15 minutes or so until it looks good enough to eat.

When the pasta is almost al dente, use tongs to drop it into the sauté pan. Toss well with tongs and cook together for another minute or two. This enables the pasta to soak up some sauce and finish cooking.

Serve in a big bowl with extra sauce on top. Enjoy!

Daily Buckwheat Pancakes (Gluten-free, Oil Free)

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My son is on a pancake rampage this week. I think it is because he has been at soccer camp and can’t eat enough! I love making these pancakes because buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, energizing, and packs a nutritious punch! It is full of flavonoids, magnesium, has a deeply rich flavor and is a great source of easily digestible protein.

This batter makes about 24 silver dollar size pancakes. Refrigerate any leftover batter and make pancakes daily!

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 cups fresh almond milk
1/4 cup fresh almond pulp
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon maple sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together with a whisk. Heat a non-stick skillet. Drop pancakes into the pan with a tablespoon measure. When bubbles appear, flip them over. Cook for another minute on the second side. Enjoy with maple syrup and any fruit you like!

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Kale & Radicchio Salad with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

IMG_5135This salad was inspired by one I had recently at Pure Food & Wine. I rejiggered all of the ingredients into my own version of the salad and dressing. The same flavors but easy to make at home!

Lemon Caper Vinaigrette (makes about 2 cups)
1 cup cashews
1 cup filtered water
The juice of 2 lemons, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoon capers, plus a little brine
1 tablespoon Dijon or stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix or blender and let it rip until smooth. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.

Kale
Radicchio
Red grapes
Golden raisins
Pine nuts
Pumpkin seeds

Slice the kale and radicchio into ribbons and the grapes in half and place into a bowl. Add the raisins, pine nuts and pumpkins. Toss with the dressing. Enjoy!

Update on the Oil Free Experiment

Exactly six months ago I decided to eliminate oil from my cooking repertoire as my month long blogging project for Vegan MoFo 2013. It was a big success. I lost a few random lbs. and I noticed that I cooked with oil a lot. It was in everything from salad dressing to sautéed vegetables to soups. And in my baked goods.

My goal was to see if I could make my basic recipes without oil. And if you read the blog during last September (click here for a recap) you will remember that I did. Everything from hummus and pesto (I used a zucchini to add a little creaminess) to salad dressings made with sunflower seeds, cashews, and avocados to soups and sautés using water. I baked tofu and tempeh and even caramelized onions in water.  As I mentioned, I upped the amount of fresh herbs and spices I used to give my food some extra flavor but it was worth it.

Potatoes didn’t make the oil free cut; they just have to be roasted with a little oil or nothing good happens. And even though I made a cookie or two without oil, generally I left the baking out of the experiment.

A few weeks ago, I started my professional plant-based certification course at Rouxbe.com. In order to complete my assignments properly, I had to use oil. I learned the proper methods for sweating and roasting vegetables and the ratio of oil to vinegar for the perfect salad dressing.

I was wondering how I was going to feel after eating a salad dressed with olive oil and white wine vinegar and a quinoa pilaf with a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery sweated in oil. Because it was my cooking and my kitchen, I controlled the quality and quantity of the oil. And I am happy to say that I felt fine which made me realize that it is probably okay for me to add a little bit of oil back into my life. 

While I really do believe that the best way to get healthy fats is from the whole food itself e.g., avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, and coconuts, now, I might finish a salad with a drizzle of olive oil or roast with a very small amount of a high heat oil like grapeseed or sunflower. I am even thinking about working with coconut oil too. Stay tuned!