Vegan Apple Crisp – Melanie daPonte

I remember when I first became aware there was such a thing called apple crisp. And it wasn’t at home. It was in my elementary school lunchroom. This exotic dessert was warm and sweet and cinnamon-y, with this outrageously crispy topping…so way over and above apple pie. It made an impact on me!

I am sure the recipe originated in somebody’s grandma’s kitchen. Most warm apple desserts do 😉 But, I was ever after held captive by that crispy sweet crust of oats and pecans and brown sugar atop those sweet-tart warm apples.

I hope you enjoy this version, from America’s Test Kitchen, slightly modified by the substitution of vegan margarine for the butter called for in the original recipe:

Apple Crisp

Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour ¾ cup pecans, chopped fine ¾ cup oats, rolled ½ cup brown sugar, light ¼ cup sugar ½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick, melted and cooled

Filling: 1 ½ cups apple cider 1 tbsp. lemon juice 4 pounds apples, golden delicious, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges ⅓ cup sugar ¼ tsp. cinnamon 2 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit . Set oven rack in middle position. Mix together topping with margarine until moistened and crumbly.

2.Bring cider to simmer in 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Transfer to liquid measuring cup and stir in lemon juice.

3.Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and become translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. (do not fully cook apples). Off heat, gently stir in cider mixture.

4.Transfer apple mixture to 13 x 9 inch casserole dish (or individual dishes as shown), sprinkle evenly with topping, breaking up any large chunks.

Bake until fruit is tender and top is deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

5.Reheat in 425 degree oven until slightly warm, about 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Top with vanilla non-dairy ice cream and this fantastic

vegan caramel sauce

from our fellow blogger, Larice at feedingyourbeauty.com.

Oh, yeah!!!

Dixie Dharma Vegan Restaurant, Bakery and Bar, Orlando – Melanie daPonte

Breakfast at Dixie Dharma              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

When traveling, we are always on the hunt for vegan eateries and this past weekend was no exception. iPhone technology has been a real game-changer in this regard and driving through the Orlando area we were able to nimbly avoid the Disney-bound traffic and score a real winner in Dixie Dharma vegan restaurant!

Market on South, which houses Dixie Dharma, is a vendor collective, located on the first floor of a small, gray two-story just off the interstate and abutting a picturesque and visibly gentrifying suburb of Orlando. The building itself seems oddly placed alongside an old barber shop with a gravel parking lot alongside, but don’t be put off by the lackluster surroundings. This place is not to be missed.

A small, but clean and cozy interior offers comfy, mismatched tables and chairs, a few booths and a short row of barstools at the counter, overlooking the open kitchen.

Dixie Dharma interior, order counter/bakery          Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

We arrived early, around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The restaurant was quiet, but the bakery cases were fully stocked with goods from Valhalla  and Valkyrie vegan bakeries.

Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery case                Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

The cashier was friendly, attentive and fast! We ordered the dirty scramble and the biscuits and gravy along with two hot cups of coffee. While waiting for our food, we perused the various offerings for sale from local artists and artisans displayed on the shelves surrounding the dining room.

Meanwhile, the back of the kitchen bustled with energy as the row of cooling racks filled with fresh-baked cakes and cookies. Every now and then a baker would emerge, producing a huge iced and decorated layer cake to place in the cold display case with a price tag marked $50.

A line of eager patrons started to form as our food was delivered. Young, fit couples, some with baby strollers, many in athletic wear, an occasional smiling grandma in tow, ordered vegan doughnuts and coffee, seating themselves in a happy, relaxed smattering about the place.

Dixie Dharma Dirty Scramble

The food was flavorful with generous portions! The dirty scramble in particular, I think, could have fed two or even three people for breakfast! The coffee tasted smooth and fresh. All in all,  one of the best vegan breakfasts I have ever eaten on the road.

Dixie Dharma Biscuits and Gravy with Maple Bourbon Sausage           Photo: Melanie daPonte

The vibe was so low-key and comfortable I was sure we would return for a late lunch and a few choice baked goods before we headed for home.

Dixie Dharma outdoor seating in front of building         Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

At lunch, the place was really at peak business with a long line waiting up front, but the staff was breezy and professional as they went about taking orders and delivering food to both seated diners and takeout customers.  We shared the chili dogs with ‘tater salad at one of the large picnic tables in the back yard.

Dixie Dharma Chili Dawgs             Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

I can see why Dixie Dharma is famous for their vegan hot dog truck! The dogs were the best vegan franks I’ve ever tasted. I swear you couldn’t tell they were meatless. And the Indian-spiced chili was hearty and wholesome–filled with beans and lentils. A truly substantial meal before our drive back to Palm Beach County.

Saving the best for last, our visit couldn’t be complete without a sampling of the beautiful bakery offerings. There were just too many choices and I had to be reasonable, breaking it down logically. I have to be careful not to lose my head in the face of such a decadent display of sweet vegan goodness!

Although there were so many treats I wanted to sample,  I only had this one shot, so here is my selection:

Bourbon Chocolate Chunk

Thick, sweet bourbon vanilla buttercream chocolate chunk cookie sandwich.

Cake Slice

I fine wedge of chocolate layer cake expertly filled and iced with vanilla buttercream

(like birthday cake)

Lemon Bar

Lemon curd on a shortbread crust with crumb topping

Chocolate Brownie

Dark chocolate brownie, dipped in more melted chocolate

Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery selection              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

It was a tough choice. Of course we had to try the cookies, and the cake and the buttercream and the brownies. The lemon bar was a wild card and I ordered it simply because I don’t like squeezing lemons and no vegan bakery in my town makes them!

What we didn’t order (this time):  Vegan cheesecake,  fruit cobbler, cupcakes, mini-cream pies, a chocolate-coated ‘Naimo(?)’ bar–which looked amazing, vegan doughnuts, a ‘brookie’ which is chocolate chip cookie dough baked on top of a brownie!! There’s more I am forgetting to be sure.

We we got home we sampled each item and they were delicious! Over time we have learned to manage these multiple item bakery sprees by cutting each item into small portions, say, the cookie sandwich into four quarters, and freezing them on a sheet tray, then transferring to an airtight container. Weeks later (or days) later we can enjoy them again.

Dixie Dharma was a delight. Wholesome, plant-based meals, a uniquely creative menu and presentations, outrageous, professionally-baked desserts, friendly, competent staff. They open at 8:00 a.m. and close at midnight!

We plan to make this outstanding vegan restaurant, bakery and artisan marketplace a regular destination every time we are in the Orlando vicinity!

DIXIE DHARMA WEBSITE

Easy Chocolate Ganache

Easy Chocolate Ganache

ganacheA rich, creamy coating of chocolate ganache makes a grand impression on a special dessert! Here is a simple recipe for glazing cakes, dipping strawberries or truffle-making.

Chocolate Ganache

1 can (14.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk

16 ounces non-diary chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

scale

Method:

Place chocolate in large bowl. Heat coconut milk to almost boiling. Pour slowly over chocolate in bowl.

chips

Cover bowl with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes. Remove plastic and with a whisk, slowly blend chocolate and coconut milk. The idea is to get a smooth ganache and avoid bubbles.

stir

Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for later use.

cake

Hurricane Bread | Melanie daPonte

With the imminent weight of Hurricane Irma bearing down upon us, all we can do is prepare as best we can. And wait. In my neighborhood, gas stations are running out of fuel, Costco is out of bottled water (as if that could ever happen), the grocery shelves all but stripped of non-perishable canned and dry goods. And of course, bread.

Time was…young girls were taught to bake as an essential life skill. As with cooking in general, this knowledge and feeling of self-sufficiency comes in handy during times times of lack.

So, I turn to my humble pantry heroes– yeast, flour, salt, sugar, oil and within an hour or two turned out these delicious fresh loaves to stick in the freezer for later, when we may really appreciate having something to spread our peanut butter on.

I enjoyed this recipe so much I plan to add it to my regular rotation when all of this is over.

Fast (and easy) Whole Wheat Bread

recipe courtesy Vaishali from Holycowvegan.net

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot– you will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place  1 cup of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix together.
  2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix. Add more of the bread flour if needed. How much flour you will need will depend on where you live and what the weather’s like. I made this bread on a rainy day in Washington and I needed nearly the whole cup. If you live in a dryer region you might need less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with your dough hook set to low speed.  You should now have a smooth, pliable ball of dough that’s not at all sticky.
  4. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and punch it well to deflate all the gases. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a triangle about 10 inches long. Now roll the dough toward yourself and make a cylinder, tucking down the seams and pinching them in so you have a smooth loaf.
  7. Place the dough in a standard loaf pan, seam side down (most loaf pans are 9 X 4 1/2 or 10 X 5 inches)
  8. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let the bread rise in a warm place about 30-45 minutes or until the loaf has risen and domed over the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the loaf pan to a rack and let it stand until the bread is cool enough to handle. Remove the bread from the pan by loosening the sides with your fingers or a spatula. Place on a rack until it has cooled through.

Soup: A Vegan’s Best Friend | Melanie daPonte

With the popularity of the raw food movement over the past few years it seems some of our old standbys may have faded into the background. I’m here to remind you that soup is good food.

I like salad as much as the next vegan, but, there is something to be said for that satisfied, warm tummy feeling that can only come from hot food, eaten slowly. We often make a meal out of a simple bowl of soup at my house. Maybe a little chunk of bread, maybe not.

It’s filling, it’s nutritious and most soups are inexpensive to make and prep for the week’s menu or even as a fill-in for those moments in-between when you want a quick something hot.

Beyond my own personal preference, I did a bit of research and found there are actually benefits to eating hot food. Who knew??

Benefits of Eating Hot Food

excerpted from the cable lifestyle blog thecable.ng

Mode of digestion

Hot meals aid proper digestion because of the time it takes to consume it. This enables the consumer to eat in adequate proportions which in turn gives less work to the organ that breaks down food.

Also, during the preparation of the meal, the chemicals in the food would have been broken down before it is served and consumed; the body easily absorbs the nutrients as they diffuse into the system, increasing the nutritional value.

Low risk of bacterial contamination

It is difficult for micro-organisms to survive in hot foods. Micro-organisms die while cooking but allowing the food get cold will reintroduce the bacteria, if not careful; which makes eating the meal in a hot state healthier.

Generates energy for consumption

Warm food restores the energy cold food saps from the body and equally stores up more energy for future use.

Regulates body temperature and weight

One key thing about ingesting hot food is that it regulates the body temperature in response to a cold climate, as it provides warmth from the hot food ingested.

Hot meals also help with body weight and fat; the suppression of appetite observed during the body’s exposure to heat causes the body weight level to drop below set-point which aids greater metabolic efficiency.

Once the body is able to rid unwanted products, the weight would be regulated.

The after-feeling

The feeling you get after taking a hot meal is an amazing one, compared to a cold meal.

Check out my selection of delicious soup recipes HERE!

Vegan Barbecue Ribz | Melanie daPonte

Fire up the grill this weekend and prepare your favorite barbecue sauce for these super-easy and super-tasty seitan ribz!

This recipe, direct from my archive, comes together faster than a batch of brownies. You can double up and freeze for later and also to slice  thin and fry up like bacon. Yum!

BARBECUE RIBZ

recipe courtesy Brian McCarthy

4 cups VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN ¼ cup PAPRIKA 2 tablespoons GRANULATED GARLIC 2 tablespoons GRANULATED ONION 2 tablespoons KOSHER SALT 3 cups ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER ¾ cups CANOLA OIL

2 teaspoons LIQUID SMOKE

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins | Melanie daPonte

Posted on October 24, 2014 by Melanie This entry was posted in Breakfast/Brunch and tagged Comfort food, dairy-free baking, holiday recipes, muffins, plant-based diet, pumpkin, Vegan, vegan baking, vegetarian by Melanie. Bookmark the permalink.

House Vinaigrette – Melanie daPonte

Sometimes I just want a simple, yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing for my salad. This is the classic recipe we were taught at culinary school. You can dress it up or keep it basic. The variations are endless.

House Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and crush garlic clove and add to vinegar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic and discard. Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

House Vinaigrette – Melanie daPonte

Sometimes I just want a simple, yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing for my salad. This is the classic recipe we were taught at culinary school. You can dress it up or keep it basic. The variations are endless.

House Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and crush garlic clove and add to vinegar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic and discard. Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Vegetable Potstickers – Melanie daPonte

These lovely little dumplings are a favorite at our local Japanese restaurant. Served with a simple dipping sauce, they make a tasty appetizer or a light meal. I was strolling my neighborhood Asian market and finally came across egg-free gyoza wrappers. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and fulfill my vision!

These can be filled with whatever flavorful blend of vegetables you prefer. You could also add a variety of proteins such as crumbled tofu, shelled edamame or one of the many flavors of Gardein meat substitute, chopped fine. Get creative!

Vegetable Potstickers

Ingredients:

Egg-free gyoza wrappers (store-bought or homemade)

Filling:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (I used pre-packaged angel hair coleslaw), lightly chopped

3/4 cups shredded carrot, chopped

1-2 scallions, chopped

1 cup shelled edamame (thawed, if frozen), roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari sauce

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1/s Tbsp. sesame oil, or to taste

Salt, to taste

Sesame oil for frying

1/4 cup water

Method:

If you prefer a softer cabbage, place shreds in microwave for about 3 minutes at 50% power or saute lightly in sesame oil. Otherwise, proceed with the next step. Combine vegetables in a bowl and mix in cornstarch. This will absorb excess water. Add seasonings and taste for flavor. Add additional soy sauce or salt or sesame oil to your liking. Make sure it tastes good.

Scoop about a teaspoonful of filling on the center of the gyoza wrapper, making sure the filling is not dripping wet. Lightly apply a bit of water around the edges of the dough. Fold over like a half-moon, pinching the edges to seal. Continue until the filling is used up.

Heat about 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry  as many dumplings as will fit in the pan at the same time until brown on the bottoms. Do not turn over. The following step is crucial. Immediately add the 1/4 cup water around the outside edges of the pan’s interior and cover. This will steam the dumplings. When all the water is evaporated and the bottoms “stick” to the skillet, they are done.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce (recipe follows)

Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. sesame oil 1 tbsp.  rice wine vinegar

¼ tsp. sugar