POMEGRANATE SALAD WINS THE HOLIDAY RIBBON!

Pomegranate Apple Salad5 copyPOMEGRANATE-APPLE SALAD WITH GINGER AND MINT

Taking full advantage of the fruits of the season, this sweet and tangy tart salad makes an eye-appealing side dish, adding diversity in flavor and texture. And, it’s so easy to assemble. You’ll quickly notice that with each bite of this zesty and flavorful fruit mélange, the plump, juice-filled pomegranate seeds release their rich, ambrosial juices, and deliver bracing sweetness with a pleasing crunch.

I’ve made this salad many times over the years and discovered it’s easy to vary its good looks by sometimes cutting the fruits into small dice, while on other days I make the salad much chunkier.whole-and-sliced-pomegranates

Unfortunately, this is not a salad you can make a day or two ahead because it rather dramatically loses its bright looks as well as fresh flavors. You CAN remove the seeds from the pomegranate a day or two ahead and refrigerate them.  If you make sure to have everything at hand, it’s a fairly quick assembly.

 POMEGRANATE-APPLE SALAD WITH GINGER AND MINT

 Yield: 6 servings

1 large pomegranate

2 sweet, crisp apples, unpeeled, choppedPomegranate Apple Salad5 copy

8 ounces edamame, cooked and shelled

1 navel orange, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 heaping teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

  1. Carefully following the handy directions below, remove the pomegranate seeds, drain them well and put them in a large bowl.
  1. Add the apples, edamame, orange, maple syrup, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, ginger, and salt and toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  1. Add half the mint leaves and mix well. Garnish the top of the salad with the remaining mint leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve the salad within 2 hours to preserve the bright colors.

Two Techniques for Retrieving Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate-seeds1Removing the pomegranate seeds from a fresh pomegranate is easy. Here’s one handy technique:

  1. Put on an apron. Pomegranate juice will most likely splatter a bit, so protect your clothing. Have a deep bowl handy. Wash the pomegranate and cut it in half crosswise. Put the cut sides up and make a couple of cris-cross cuts into each half.
  2. Take one half, turn it upside-down over the bowl, and use your fingers and thumbs to break up the sections. Some of the seeds will begin to fall out. Tap on the top to release more seeds.
  3. Continue to use your fingers and thumbs to loosen the seeds from the pith by pushing on them until all the seeds are in the bowl. Use them immediately or put them into a covered container and refrigerate them. They’ll keep well for up to a week.

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Here’s another method that involves releasing the pomegranate seeds in water:

Ripe pomegranate on the branch. The foliage on the background.

Ripe pomegranate on the branch. The foliage on the background.

  1. Place a colander into a very large, deep bowl and fill the bowl with enough water to submerge a large pomegranate. A salad spinner is the perfect bowl and colander set-up.
  2. Put the pomegranate on a cutting board and cut the top off. Carefully, cut the pomegranate vertically into six sections.
  3. Working with one section at a time, lower it into the water with the seeds facing downward. Use your fingers to release the seeds into the water.
  4. Most of the seeds will sink to the bottom, while the pith floats to the top for easy removal with a skimmer. Repeat the process with the other pomegranate sections. Then, simply lift the colander and shake off the excess water.

For convenience, remove the pomegranate seeds a day ahead, put them in a container, and refrigerate them until ready to use. To prevent the naturally bright colors of the pomegranate seeds and edamame from becoming muddy looking, assemble the salad an hour or two before serving, and the salad will look bright and cheery and very inviting.

WARM, SWEET, AND SPICY PUNCH FOR HAPPY HOLIDAY TOASTING

Latin-Twist-cover-300Authors' photo

 

As a food blogger, my aim is to share those tasty bites and sips I think you will find as delightful as I do. I recently had the pleasure of meeting two exceptional authors and food bloggers at a presentation at Melissa’s Produce in Los Angeles (Melissas.com). Vianney Rodriguez and Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack teamed up to create a true thirst-quencher, Latin Twist, a gorgeous book filled with 97 traditional cocktail recipes from 18 Latin countries plus Spain.

At Melissa’s I was sampling five delicious “mocktails,” that is, the cocktails without alcohol. After tasting Ponche Navideno, I was enthralled with the flavors imparted by the exceptional combination of fruits, some familiar and some exotic. Not only did this festive beverage taste great, but it also emitted irresistibly sweet, spicy, and fruity aromas throughout the room. This was a recipe I knew I must share.

Don’t let the 20 servings discourage you from making this wonderfully satisfying punch. If you’re not serving a large group, you’ll have plenty for a cozy gathering of celebrants to enjoy seconds and thirds. You’ll need a large stockpot, about an 8- to 10-quart size.

PONCHE NAVIDENO

Ponche Navideno(Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)

 Ponche Navideño is a hot punch served with or without alcohol during the holiday season and most generally during Las Posadas. On those chilly nights this fragrant infusion warms you from the inside out. The intoxicating aroma and perfumed air in your home will certainly entice your guests to give the drink a try. After that, they’re hooked. Brandy or tequila can be added, making it Ponche con Piquete (punch with a sting).

Makes 20 servingsCinnamon sticks

16 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

5 long tamarind pods, husk removed, and seededTamarind pods

1/2 pound tejocotes or crab apples, left whole

6 large guavas, peeled and cut into large bite-size chunks

2 red apples (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

1 pear (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

2 (4-inch) sugarcane sticks, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 cup pitted prunespiloncillo

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 orange, sliced

8 ounces piloncillo, chopped, or 1 cup dark brown sugar

1 ounce brandy or tequila per cup (optional)

Directions:

Ponche NavidenoPlace the water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, tamarind pods, and tejocotes or crab apples in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. After it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tejocotes are soft.

Remove the tejocotes or crab apples from the pot with a slotted spoon, peel, remove hard ends, cut in half, and deseed. Return them to the pot.

Add the guavas, apples, pear, sugarcane, prunes, raisins, orange slices, and piloncillo. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. Discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

To serve, ladle into coffee cups or mugs, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit. If desired, add 1 ounce of brandy or tequila to each cup.

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The two charming authors generously shared another warm, fruit-filled punch recipe from from Latin Twist that’s typically enjoyed at Christmas. Ponche de Frutas is similar to Ponche Navideno but has a few additional exotic flavors such as coconut, plantain, and a hint of ginger. Both can be sipped and thoroughly enjoyed with or without alcohol.

PONCHE DE FRUTAS

Makes 15 servings

16 cups waterhandful allspice berries

3 cinnamon sticks

4 whole allspice

1-inch piece fresh ginger

5 whole cloves

2 (8-ounce) bags dried fruit mix

1 pineapple, husked, cored, and diced

1/2 medium papaya, diced

4 red apples, diced

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup prunesplantains

1/2 cup raisins

3 plantains, diced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark rum (optional)

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil with the cinnamon sticks, allspice, ginger, and cloves.

Add dried fruit mix, pineapple, papaya, apples, and coconut. Follow with prunes, raisins, plantains, and sugar. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. When the fruit is cooked and sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and pour in the rum (if using).

Serve hot with some of the diced fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHAT’S FOR DESSERT ON THANKSGIVING? BET YOU CAN GUESS!!`

 WILLIAMSBURG PUMPKIN PIE

Wiliamsburg Pumpkin‘Tis the season for pumpkin! There’s no doubt about that. Everywhere I look there are recipes for Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin stew, pumpkin scones, pumpkin breads, pumpkin sauces – you get the idea!

And wouldn’t something as highly anticipated as pumpkin pie be missing from the dessert table on Thanksgiving if it weren’t there? There’ll be no dessert disappointment for my family–pumpkin pie will take center stage at dessert time, along with a creamy and compassionate Satin Whipped Cream to spoon on top.

You can’t miss with this recipe that captures the spicy taste and aroma we’ve come to expect. The Pilgrims would have really appreciated this treat, especially with a dollop of Satin Whipped Cream as a finishing touch.

WILLIAMSBURG PUMPKIN PIE

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie: 6 to 8 servings

1 Oatmeal Crumb Crust (recipe below)

Filling

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, (plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot for butternut squash)

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 (12.3-ounce) box extra-firm silken tofu, drained

2 cups canned pumpkin or cooked, mashed butternut squash

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons organic sugarPumpkin pie

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

1 recipe Satin Whipped Cream (recipe below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare the Oatmeal Crumb Crust.
  2. To make the filling, combine the arrowroot and soymilk in a blender. Process at high speed for 1 minute until smooth and slightly thickened, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar. Set aside in the blender to thicken further.
  3. Put the tofu, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt in the food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, leaving no bits of white tofu visible, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
  4. Process the arrowroot mixture again and add it to the batter in food processor. Process until well incorporated.
  5. Spoon the filling into the prepared crust. Use the back of the spoon to spread the filling to the edges and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be slightly soft but will firm when chilled. Let cool completely.
  7. Cover the pie with an inverted 9 or 10-inch pie pan or form a tent with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Serve with Satin Whipped Cream on the side, if desired.

Oatmeal Crumb Crust

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup walnuts

4 1/2 tablespoons organic canola oil

3 tablespoons organic sugar

3 tablespoon maple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Have ready a 9-inch pie pan. Pour the oats into the food processor and pulse 12 to 15 times. Add the walnuts, canola oil, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse and process until the mixture is a fine, crumbly meal and holds together when pinched.
  2. Spoon the crust mixture into the pie pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Press on the edges to firm.

Satin Whipped Cream

1/2 cup cashews

1 cup water

1 small banana

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Put the cashews in a food processor. Process until ground into a fine meal. Transfer to a blender. Put the water, banana, sugar, xanthan gum, and vanilla extract in the blender with the cashew meal. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick, smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and chill for 8 to 12 hours to firm. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Satin Whipped Cream will keep for about 4 days. Before serving, fluff the mixture with a gentle stir.

Vegan Holidays highresYou can find this recipe and a host of other delicious dessert and celebration recipes in my Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook.

HELLO, SUGAR PLUM FAIRY. THANK YOU FOR THE SWEET GIFT!

SUGAR PLUM SPICED NUTS

Dish w:white cupAn ideal gift for special friends at holiday time or simply an extra-special treat to serve on a dessert table, these nutty delights can be made well in advance of the holiday rush. They’re good keepers if you store them in airtight containers.

Wrap it for Christmas, tie it in blue and white Hanukkah colors, decorate it in red, green, and black for Kwanzaa–any which way you play with decorating the finished nuts, you’ll have a very special homemade treat for sharing or giving. Holiday cheers!!!!

Walnuts

The success of this recipe depends on two factors:

  •  Measuring all ingredients in advance of assembly
  •  Applying patience and stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed

Closeup on dish

The recipe actually comes together quickly once you have everything ready.

 

SUGAR PLUM SPICED NUTS

 Yield: 31/2 cupsChristmas jar

 1/2 cup powdered sugar or more if needed

Spice Mixture

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepperwhite cup

1/4 teaspoon salt

COATING

1 tablespoon organic canola oil

1/3 cup organic sugar

3/4 cup apple juice

3 cups coarsely chopped raw walnuts

  1. Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set it aside.To make the spice mixture, combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl or cup. Stir the mixture well and set aside near the stove.
  2. To make the coating, pour the canola oil into a large nonstick skillet. Place the Hanukkah jarorganic sugar, apple juice, and walnuts in separate cups or bowls and set them aside near the skillet. Now you’re ready to begin.
  3. Heat the canola oil over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the organic sugar and stir another minute until hot and bubbly.
  4. Pour in the apple juice and stir constantly for about 1 minute, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. Quickly stir in the walnuts and continue stirring over high heat until all the liquid evaporates and the mixture becomes sticky and shiny. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture and toss to coat the walnuts, stirring for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the remaining spice mixture, tossing continuously.
  7. Pour the spiced walnuts into the bowl with the powdered sugar and toss to give them a white dusting. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a large dish or baking sheet to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, Sugarplum Spiced Walnuts will keep for up to 1 month.

Note: This recipe is not limited to just walnuts. It works quite well with all nuts.

white cup w:ribbonGift wrapped jar

TARTS FOR DESSERT? YOU BET!!!

Raw Gingerbread Tartlet1 LR 1500px RAW GINGERBREAD AND CHOCOLATE TARTS

oliverioPlant-fueled since 2011, Annie Oliverio writes, runs, and cooks in the heart of Cattle Country. An enthusiastic “home chef,” Annie started her blog, An Unrefined Vegan, to share her passion for creating cruelty-free, unprocessed, whole food recipes that are delicious, healthful, and simple to prepare. Annie’s dishes contain little or no oil and her desserts are sweetened with fruit, dates, or stevia. It’s all about nurturing body, brain, and conscience.

Through her project, Virtual Vegan Potluck, she invites both vegan and non-vegan bloggers to share a twice-yearly online potluck, demonstrating how food can bring people together. Annie is currently writing and photographing her first cookbook, crave/eat/heal.

She has been fortunate to have as participants, cookbook authors Kathy Hester, Robin Robertson, Natalie Slater, Ellen Jaffe Jones, and Bryanna Clark Grogan. Read more about that event on her website, Virtual Vegan Potluck. Annie is also a recipe contributor to One Green Planet and a featured chef on Raw Food Recipes.

 RAW GINGERBREAD AND CHOCOLATE TARTS

 Makes 9

Crust:
1/2 cup pecans

1 tbsp. crystallized ginger
1 tbsp. cacao or cocoa powderRaw Gingerbread Tartlet3 750px LR
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 dates, chopped
1 tsp. dried ginger
1 tbsp. water

Chocolate layer:
4 tbsp. low-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp. cacao or cocoa powder
1 tsp. agave nectar
4 tbsp. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Filling:
1 banana, cut into chunks
1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours, drained & rinsed
1/8 cup molasses
3 tbsp. low-fat coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
pinch ground cloves

~18 thin strips of crystallized ginger, for decoration
9 whole pecans, for decoration

Make the crust:
Have a 12-cup muffin pan at the ready.

In a food processor, combine the pecans, ginger, cacao powder, chia seeds, coconut flakes, dates, and dried ginger. Process until the nuts and dates are broken down into very small pieces. Add the water and process until the mixture starts to come together. The mixture should stick together when pinched.

Put 1 tbsp. of the mixture into each of 9 muffin cups. (You could probably eke out 10…) Press the crust firmly and uniformly down into each tin. Set aside while you prepare the chocolate layer.

Make the chocolate layer:
In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and melt over medium heat. This does not take long – so watch carefully so you don’t burn the chocolate. Whisk to thoroughly combine, then remove from the heat. Carefully pour the chocolate over the crust. Tap and tip the pan so that the chocolate completely coats the crusts. Place pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling:
In a high-speed blender, combine the banana, cashews, molasses, coconut milk, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and spices and process until very smooth. You’ll need to tamp it down a few times to get a really smooth mixture. You want it silky with no little chunks of cashews. You can do this in a food processor, but it takes a long time and you won’t get that silky smoothness.

Once the filling is smooth, scrape it into a small bowl. This just makes working with it a little easier. Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and divide the filling between the cups. Place two strips of crystallized ginger on each tart and gently press in one pecan per tart. Refrigerate for several hours.