Monday, January 5, 2015

Dates on the Half Shell

Dates on the Halfshell, Two Ways

Yesterday I was t the Hillcrest farmers market; one of San Diego's biggest, busiest and best farmers markets. While there are numerous vegan options, including lots of delicious prepared foods, I was on the hunt for some fresh raw ingredients. I was not disappointed. After walking around and enjoying a slightly sweet and super sour passion fruit, I came across some organic medjool dates that were so large and luscious looking, and that the gentleman at the stand guaranteed me had been picked fresh from the tree that morning. A few stands down we ran into a farm that sells some of the most amazing and succulent looking berries you've ever seen. I then proceeded to snatch up some citrus (Myer lemons, limes and blood orange).
A dear friend, who just so happens to also be a vegan chef, was visiting from New York, so we whipped up an amazing and eclectic dinner from our market finds. When it came for dessert, I knew I would be using the dates to make something simple, but elegant, and out of this world delicious. And these dates did not disappoint. When an accomplished chef who has eaten their way around the world tells you "this is one of the best tasting things I have ever had" you know you are on to a recipe that you just have to share. This is a quick and easy recipe to prepare, and is a decadent and satisfying snack for those with even the most hardcore and discerning of sweet tooth's.


Dates on the HalfShell, two ways

Makes approximately two dozen pieces.

1/2 pound medjool dates
Pit and halve the dates, move to a plate or baking sheet and place in the refrigerator while you prepare your fillings.

Chocolate Ginger Ganache filling

1/3 cup Cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/4 cup ginger syrup (I happened to have a ginger flavored syrup on hand, but  you can make your own with some agave or coconut nectar and a teaspoon of grated ginger)
pinch orange zest
pinch salt

Whisk/stir all ingredients together, adding coconut oil last, in a mixing bowl. Fill half of the dates with the chocolate ganache using a spoon, pastry bag, squeeze bottle, etc. Do so immediately before the coconut oil re-solidifies and your chocolate sauce hardens in the bowl. On the other hand, you do want it to harden in side the date, which is achieved by keeping the dates cold in the refrigerator. When the coconut oil in the gancache comes in contact, it should solidify perfectly for you.

For the Candied Raspberries

A handful of fresh raspberries
a squeeze of ginger syrup
a few pinches of coconut sugar crystals

Add 2 or 3 candied raspberries atop each date, then garnish with coconut flakes and a little more drizzle of ganache on top



Sweet Sesame filling

1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 T cinnamon
pinch salt

Mix ingredients in a mixing bowl with a fork until thoroughly combined. Fill the remaining half of the dates with sweet sesame sauce, then garnish with two or three bits of blood orange, coconut flakes and chia seeds.

Find a friend and enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pumpkin Spice and Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream Sandwhiches

Yes, you read that right--RAW ICE CREAM SANDWICHES! Sorry to raise my voice, but if you can't get excited about ice cream sandwiches..well, what's this world coming to anyway? I made these recipes for a Thanksgivegan potluck. Being the weekend of the Thanksgiving holiday it only made sense to go with two seasonal favorites, so I made a cinnamon almond-based cookies and pumpkin seed cookies, as well as pumpkin spice ice cream and sweet potato pie ice cream. For future reference-this sweet potato pie ice cream is out of this world; make it often, and then sprinkle some coconut sugar crystals on top and go to town! What's better than healthy ice cream that you can feel good about eating (yes, I just put healthy and ice cream in the same sentence, without the word not)?

In and of themselves, all of these steps are very easy, however this recipe takes some time and forethought as you'll need to dehydrate your cookies and freeze up your ice cream. Keep in mind if you are using an ice cream maker, most require that you place the receptacle in the freezer for 12-24 hours to properly chill it. If you are making both of these recipes then you'll also need time for the receptacle to chill again. You'll want to start your ice cream at least 2-3 days ahead of time so it's ready in the freezer when you are ready to make your sandwiches.
Without further adieu... 

The Cookies 

Almond Cookies

1 cup almonds 
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup dates
1/2 T salt
1/2 T vanilla
1/2 T cinnamon 

Pumpkin Seed Cookies 

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup dates
1/2 T salt
1/2 T vanilla
1 t cardamom 
1 t clove powder 
For either recipe, process ingredients in a food processor until a uniform mixture is achieved. If you want round cookies to bite-sized sandwiches like I made, then shape your dough into little discs and dehydrate for 3-4 hours at 110. Otherwise, using your a non-stick sheet, go ahead and line the tray with the cookie mixture and spread evenly. Score into rectangles halfway through the dehydration process.

The Ice Creams


Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
1 cup coconut meat
1 cup coconut water
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup cashews
1 T Himalayan Salt
1 T vanilla
1 t nutmeg
1 t cardamom
1/2 t clove powder

Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream

1 cup coconut meat
1 cup coconut water
1 cup cashews
1 cup sweet potato
1 T Himalayan salt
1 T Vanilla
1 T cinnamon

For either ice cream, blend all of the ingredients in a high speed blender, about one minute, until smooth. Add to your ice cream maker and make according to manufacturers instructions.

To Make the Sandwiches
Once your cookies are done and the ice cream is made, a small scooper is perfect to spoon out the ice cream onto a cookie. Add a second cookie on top and squish your scoop of ice cream between the two cookies. It may be helpful to keep your ice cream container in a cold water or ice bath to keep it from melting while you make the sandwiches. Repeat until all sandwiches are made. Eat immediately or put in the freezer until ready. Enjoy at will!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Orange Cookies

I love cookies! Come on...who doesn't like cookies? They are sweet, delicious, chewy, crumbly and handheld. This is another super duper easy to make raw food recipe that requires little time and can be recreated in moments with no advanced technique required--and it is delicious. I do use agave in this recipe, but if there another liquid sweetener that you prefer such as coconut nectar, yacon or maple syrup, feel free to substitute instead. Another great swap is to use a 1/2 cup of pitted and soaked dates in place of a liquid sweetener. There is a little coconut sugar in these cookies additionally. Feel free to omit if you like, but these are cookies, so a little decadence is essential.

Chewy Chocolate Orange Cookies

Makes 1 dozen large or 2 dozen medium cookies

2 cups cashews
3/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
 1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut sugar crystals
2 T orange juice
1/2 T vanilla (powder, bean, extract)
 2 t pink Himalayan salt
2 pinches orange zest

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process for about a minute until you have a uniform mixture. Use a cookie scoop or your hands to form into cookies and place on a lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate for 2 hours at 115 degrees. For a different twist on this treat form into small balls, transfer to freezer to set and then dunk in your favorite ganache/chocolate sauce.

And remember--if you're supposed to be taking photos to share with people, make sure you remember before eating half the cookies...I told you they were delicious!