Thursday, January 1, 2009

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

First watch this:

...and then watch this:

Here's to a spectacular, peaceful, filled-with-hope 2009.

(Thanks, Gigi, for the link!)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Coconut Whipped Cream and Chocolate Nut Tart

Whipped Coconut Cream and Chocolate Nut Tart

Sometimes I feel like a cooking genius. This has nothing to do with actual skill. It has to do with choosing the right recipes. Easy but impressive. This Chocolate Nut Tart is what I brought to our Dancing Rabbit Christmas Potluck Dinner. It made me very popular. Perhaps I should always carry one around, giving samples. I might get to be Prom Queen!

Besides being easy, and VEGAN (although one could never "tell") we served it with Whipped Coconut Cream. Once again, delicious and EASY!

Whipped Coconut Cream
1 13.5 ounce can Coconut Milk (not LIGHT Coconut Milk, not Coco Loco or Coconut "cream")
3 Tb. sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Put a can of coconut milk in the fridge (or outside in the snow, as it were) for a couple of hours. This enables the cream to float to the top of the can, and the clear liquid to settle to the bottom.

2. Open the can. Carefully scoop out the cream and put it in the bowl of your mixer. About 3/4 down you'll run into the clear liquid. Leave that - compost it, or put it in a smoothie - we don't want it here.

Scoop the cream into the bowl of your mixer.

3. Start whipping the cream on high speed with the whisk attachment. Unlike cream from milk, this will not curdle. I usually whip mine for up to ten minutes, trying to get as much air into it as possible.
4. Just before you are finished whipping, add a few tablespoons of SIFTED confectioner's sugar (repeat after me - "no lumps!") and a teaspoon of vanilla extract (the real stuff, please).
5. Scoop into a serving bowl, and keep cold until it's time to eat. This has a slightly blue-ish tint to it, and a faint coconut taste. It is absolutely perfect (but then, I'm biased!)

Triple Nut Chocolate Tart
Serves 12 (we served 16, easily)
Notes: This is, amazingly, vegan. For the best effect, use a tart pan with a removeable bottom. The crust is easy because there is no rolling - just pad it out with your fingertips. Three cups of ANY nuts will do (I used walnut and macadamias, as that was what I had). I used Sunspire Organic Chocolate Chips, real maple syrup, regular all-purpose flour and Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread.

1 cup pastry flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 Tbs. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup vegan margarine (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbs. cold water

3 cups mixed walnuts, pecans, and almonds (1 cup each), coarsely chopped
¼ cup vegan margarine (½ stick)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 Tbs. pastry flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract


To make Crust:

  1. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in bowl.
  2. Rub margarine into flour mixture with fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  3. Sprinkle in vanilla, and stir.
  4. Add 1 to 2 Tbs. cold water until dough clumps together loosely.
  5. Press dough into pie dish or tart pan until sides and bottom are covered.
  6. Chill in freezer 30 minutes.

To make Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread nuts on baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. Melt margarine and chocolate in saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle in flour and salt, and stir until smooth.
  5. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
  6. Stir in nuts.

Assemble and Bake:

Spread nut mixture in piecrust. Bake 25 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is firm. Cool on wire rack at least 20 minutes before serving.

From Vegetarian Times Magazine.