Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blackberry Tart with Coconut Custard

Here in the great Pacific Northwest we have stunning scenery that grabs hold of your soul, directs your eyes, and fills your every breath with beauty.  Gorgeous landscapes of mountains layered with forest, rivers, lakes, sky, offer a veritable treasure chest of inspiration, gratitude and grandeur.  When I first arrived in Washington, I stood in awe at the sheer beauty of this place and its heart stopping, breath stealing landscapes.  As any PNW newbie always does, I took endless photos of sky, water and lush little sprigs of moss covering the tress.  Gazing at the abundance of trees and ferns it felt like entering an enchanted land of magical forests, dew drops and the purest air I had ever tasted.
Gorgeous Lake Cushman where water blends to trees, mountain then sky. Classic PNW.
Classic mossy tree shot.

Breathtaking water views are everywhere!
You can imagine my childlike delight when summer came along and all of the "sticker bushes" that everyone complained of turned out to be wild blackberry bushes!  Fields and fields of blackberries in all directions just saturated in little black dots and dripping in the sweet nectar.  Although these pesky plants are covered in brutal thorns, just like a rose bush, they usually offer enough heavy bundles of berries that the branches will bow and practically beg to be picked!

This season we hung bird feeders in the trees and it seems to have kept the local wildlife well fed enough to leave our harvest of blackberries intact.  So much so that we have a bit of an overload of berries at the moment. 
Succulent blackberries pictured with some of our other local treasures, wild pea flowers and lavender.

They are so sweet and juicy in their raw state that I could never dream of cooking them and robbing these little black gems of the flavor the sun had infused within them.  Therefore, I decided to keep it light, keep it fresh and keep it raw.  My mini tart pans were in need of use as was a coconut I had on hand.  These little Blackberry Tarts with Coconut Custard are arguably one of the best dishes I have ever made!

The coconut custard is golden, sweet, thick and tastes just like crème brulee! Very exciting stuff for anyone who has wanted to indulge without taxing their body with unwanted toxins and processed sugars.  I hope you guys love this recipe as much as I did! Let's get started!

Coconut Custard Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups coconut meat from 2-3 young Thai coconuts
1/3 cup coconut nectar, raw honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup water or coconut water
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped OR 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
pinch of salt
pinch of turmeric
Coconut Custard Method:
Open your coconuts and remove the meat.  Reserve the water for smoothies, drinking and even a little for the custard.  If you don't know how to open a coconut, my tutorial is here.
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add all ingredients except the coconut oil.  Process until creamy, scraping down the side occasionally.  To melt coconut oil, bring a shallow pot of water to boil then turn of the heat and set your jar of coconut oil in the water.  Once melted it is easily measured and poured.  With the processor running, add the melted coconut oil.  Scrape down the sides and process again until all ingredients are well incorporated and the cream is smooth and custard like.  Place custard in a bowl and refrigerate overnight to allow it to set. 
Crust Ingredients:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked 4-6 hours, drained, rinsed
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted  (if your dates are dry, soak in water for 30 minutes to an hour)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Crust Method:
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the cashews, salt, shredded coconut and vanilla.  Process into a powder.  Roughly chop the dates and add them to the food processor slowly while it is running.  When the mixture forms a dough that sticks together (test by pinching a piece between two fingers and see if it holds together) then it is ready.  If the dough is not sticking, add another date and process again.
Take 4 small tart pans (or one 9" tart pan and line with plastic wrap if the bottom is not removable).  Press dough into the pan to form a pie crust. 
Cover and refrigerate overnight to set.  If you are pressed for time, stick the crusts in the freezer for 1-3 hours to make for a quicker setting time.  When the crust is set.  Remove from the pans and they are ready to fill.
To serve:  Spoon the coconut custard into each tart crust and smooth with a butter knife or spatula.  Then top with berries and orange zest (optional) and serve!  To store, just cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Thank you for stopping by the Venturing Vegan blog! I hope you are able to try this recipe and fall in love with it just as I did! I'd like to give thanks to my little black kitty, Little, as she was a great help in the kitchen and in the garden gathering berries! Happy Summer!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chili Lime Kale Chips

Kale chips are a healthy and easy snack that I love to have on hand.  The flavor combinations are endless and since I had a bunch of limes it seemed only natural to create a new recipe using the combination of gorgeous greens: kale, lime and cilantro!  Therefore, I give you Chili Lime Kale Chips with a hint of cilantro!

Plus, it is the season for raw sunflower seeds and I harvested my biggest sunflower and let its seeds dry out.  Now, they are part of my kale chip recipe!  Can't wait for the rest of them to mature but this little guy is smallest so I decided to appreciate this little dude for beauty and not bounty :).

These chips are so full of fresh flavor that I ate almost all of them and barely had enough left for the picture! They are that good!  Very filling, too!  Let's get started!

Chili Lime Kale Chips Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale, washed, torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked 4-6 hours, drained, rinsed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime
additional water

To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add all ingredients except the water.  Process until well combined.  Slowly add in the water until desired "hummus-like" consistency is achieved.  Give the batter a taste and see if you need to add more salt.
Place all the prepared kale in a large bowl.  Pour the chili lime batter on top and massage into the kale making sure all chips are well covered.  Then to parchment or teflex lined dehydrator trays, add your kale in a single layer making sure not to overlap.  Dehydrate 8-10 hours.  Enjoy!


Thank you for visiting the Venturing Vegan blog!  I hope you enjoy these recipes and find inspiration to eat well, live well and thrive!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Sunrise Cake

Good morning!!  Is there anything better than summer mornings?  The sun is up at 4 am which means I get to wake up to glorious sunshine instead of darkness.  To pay tribute and gratitude to the rising sun, I've made a Summer Sunrise Cake using delicious and local Rainier Cherries!!
This weekend I took a trip to the local farmers market and picked up a literal bounty of summer fruits!  Apricots, strawberries, grapes, lemons, and cherries!!  Looking at these beautiful fruits and the glorious sunrise we had this weekend, it just clicked!  Create a cake using summer fruits that look like the summer sunrise!
Washington state not only has really long days in the summer but we have Mt. Rainier and Rainier Cherries!!  Mt. Rainier is one of my favorite views here in WA.

Rainier cherries are sweet, delicious and beautifully colored!  To me, they look just like the sunrise and are as sweet as summer itself.  This cake is just heavenly and its subtle sweetness comes from fruit and a hint of maple syrup!!  Let's get started!
Lemon Coconut Crust Ingredients:
4 tsp. lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup raw walnuts or raw almonds
1/2 - 3/4 cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped
1/3 cup shredded coconut
pinch salt
Lemon Coconut Crust Method:
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the nuts and process until they are in small pieces.  If you want a really fine crust, then process until you have a powder.  I like little bits of nut in my crust so I process until the nuts are broken into small pieces.  Add the rest of the indredients and process until a dough ball forms.  If your dough is not sticking together, add additional dates.
To a square baking dish lined with plastic wrap, press the crust to the base.  Press it evenly and then cover and place in the freezer while you make the filling.
Summer Sunrise Filling Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 5-8 hours, drained, rinsed
1/4 cup coconut butter (optional but it creates a thicker, creamier cake batter)
1 to 1 1/2 cup fruit (I opted for 1 cup strawberries and 1/2 cup cherries)
3/4 cup coconut milk OR coconut cream
2 medjool dates, pitted, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
additional lemon zest and shredded coconut (optional)
Summer Sunrise Filling Method:
Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade or a high speed blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Remove half the filling.  Add the strawberries and blend.  Take your crust from the freezer and pour in the strawberry layer.  Cover and freeze for an hour.  Add the other half of your filling back to the processor or blender and add the cherries.  Process until smooth and then pour on top of your now frozen strawberry layer.  Sprinkle the additional lemon zest and shredded coconut around the rim of the cake.  Cover and freeze for 2 hours.
1/2 cup strawberries
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
squeeze of lemon
1/2 cup cherries, sliced
Blend strawberries, maple syrup and lemon juice in a blender until pureed.
To dress the cake:
Remove the cake from the freezer.  Carefully pour the strawberry coulis on the top of the cake and spread evenly.  Then layer your sliced cherries on top and place back in the freezer for 4-6 hours!  Serve right from the freezer and you'll have to wonder if this actually an ice cream cake! Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting Venturing Vegan!  I hope that this Summer Sunrise Cake brings some fun and flavor to your summer days!  Enjoy!
Our sunsets are pretty epic as well.  This sunset happened while I was writing this blog post.  I had to run and take a picture even though it was hot, humid and raining outside! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sprout Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Summer is all about delicious and fresh salads that are full of the seasons finest produce!  Even though I grow sprouts all year round, it is a nice treat to have a sprout salad in the summer since it makes me feel so light and healthy!  Plus, the high nutrient content of sprouts give me the energy I need to plow through my day, my workout and then gives me that extra boost to run outdoors and get in some adventure time before the sun sets around 10 pm.  If you are new to sprouting then check out my sprouting page! 
With my kitchen garden bursting at the seams, I've incorporated many vegetables that I have in the garden such as these beautiful radishes!

Nothing beats fresh local produce that is plucked from the soil just outside the kitchen door!  If you are new to gardening, radishes are a failsafe.  They grow quickly and are quite prolific!  Plus, they are pretty darn tasty!  In the garden is also an abundance of fresh basil!  Basil doesn't last long in the summer heat and will quickly go to bolt, growing little buds and flowers that will soon usher in the end of the plants growing season.  So, I'm taking advantage of this seasonal and homegrown, all organic produce in my Sprout Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette!
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard (if making this raw, then use 2 tsp. of my raw parmesan or omit) 
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed, finely chopped
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until well combined and smooth.

Sprout Salad (makes 2 servings)
1-2 small cucumbers, sliced
1/4 cup cherry tomato, halved
1 carrot, shredded (I've used a purple Dragon carrot for added color)
1/4 cup sprout mix
1-2 radishes, sliced and cut into half-moons
1 heart of palm, sliced
a few florets of broccoli
2 cups romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
Plate the ingredients and dress with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette.  

 Thank you for visiting the Venturing Vegan Blog!! I hope you enjoy this summer salad recipe!!