Strawberry Apple Crisp

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Fruit desserts are the epitome of deliciousness to me. Maybe I have nothing revolutionary to add to the apple crisp world, but goodness gracious this is lovely. I don’t know about you, but the plethora of popular gluten free blogs that make regular use of oatmeal really gets me fired up and mad. I can’t eat oatmeal. It makes me sick. Even the certified wheat free stuff. Maybe you’re the same. In addition, husband is allergic to oats. If you are, take heart and try quinoa flakes. They, so far, have been completely interchangeable for me. You may notice a slight herbal edge to them, which I happen to think is quite lovely. I’ve been using them cup-for-cup in my old oat recipes, so go ahead and use oatmeal, if you’d rather. This would be a perfect recipe to use frozen strawberries in; I wouldn’t even slice them.

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Makes one 9 x 13 baking pan

Fruit Bottom

2 lbs strawberries, hulled, cleaned and sliced large
6 medium apples, something not too sweet, I used MacIntosh, cored and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon all purpose gluten free flour
Juice of half a lemon

Crisp Topping

1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup non dairy margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss sliced fruit with all ingredients and lay out in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the topping, except the melted margarine. Once the dry ingredients are well mixed, add the melted margarine and stir.

Press the topping over top the fruit and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with non-dairy ice cream or on its own.

Rainbow Cake (Gayke)

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A month to the day to that I moved to Montreal and in with my best friend, he passed away suddenly. He was always on the lookout for fun, let me tell you. We fought light-heartedly about everything, including his obsession with fun.  In honour of him and everything we had, I make a rainbow cake for every birthday of his that passes. Maybe you have a desire to make a cake that knocks people off their feet but don’t want to learn fancy piping techniques? Well, here you go.

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This cake is moist, scented with orange (because I just couldn’t fathom eating any more vanilla cake; I don’t have a vegan recipe that I really LOVE just yet) and probably the most exciting cake you could ever cut into. It can be prepared as I did, as cupcakes or in 6 separate layers (as I have done in the past). I am currently working to develop a lighter version of a vegan vanilla cake, which often times feels impossible. If you’re just starting out vegan baking, I really don’t recommend you start with vanilla – go for almost anything else. As it stands, people love this cake – I’m just fussy and forever striving for more, better, perfect… On the other hand, I have made the perfect buttercream. Yep.

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I’m torn between appreciating the separate layer approach and the unique never-the-same-twice look of the swirls I did this year. They are absolutely equal amounts of work, though you may finish baking faster if you go with the latter look. Make with regular old wheat flour, if you’d like. All my baking is set up to work both ways.

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Rainbow Cake

Adapted from Chef Chloe’s Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake recipe

1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used a combo of rice and soy; it was just kicking around my fridge)
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (go high quality, I beg you)
3 cups all purpose gluten free flour (Mine, sifted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one naval orange
3/4 cup non-dairy margarine, chilled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line each round cake pan you are going to be using with parchement. I did two layers, so two pans. You’re doing 6 layers, so 6 pans (or as many as you have and be prepared to repeat this process as needed).

In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest, until thoroughly combined. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the pieces of margarine, one at a time and with relative patience, until the mixture has the texture of wet sand (hopefully not the colour because that’d be weird). Add the vanilla extract to your milk mixture and then slowly, while still mixing on low, add the liquid to the dry. Mix until incorporated, checking to make sure the side and bottom of the bowl have been taken care of. Now mentally prepare yourself for some arts-and-crafts!!

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Most recipes will tell you to have six same size bowls and to divide the batter evenly between them. If you are lucky enough to have six same-size mixing bowls, please go ahead and do that. I live in an apartment with no counter or accessible cupboard space, so this is impossible. I took three bowls and divided half the mixture evenly between them. Starting with indigo, I dyed the first layer using red and blue food colouring. Pour the indigo layer into the pans you are using. The batter is pretty thick, so I spread it out evenly and smoothly with the back of a tablespoon. Repeat the dying and spreading of the batter until you have covered the rainbow. 

Protip: Reuse the same bowl for colours that use the same primary colour. Example: My yellow bowl easily became the orange bowl with more batter and few drops of red. 

If you have made a swirly layer cake, bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. For a six layer cake, bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool and prepare your frosting.

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Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 1/2 cups non-dairy margarine, softened
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk 

Get your mixers ready. Using a hand mixer and great strength or a stand mixer, whip the margarine for about 5 minutes. It will become like satin and take on a lighter colour. Add the vanilla bean and mix an additional minute. Slowly begin adding the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and splash of the milk. Finish off the icing sugar and mix for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more milk, if you feel the frosting is too dry.

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Assembly

When the layers have completely cooled, frost with a crumb coat. Let that set and frost to your heart’s desire. Allow people to drop at your feet because of your brilliance with food colouring.

To my darling Kyle, we’ll keep the fun and rainbows in life, sometimes only because we must.

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Sexy Lentil Soup

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Oh man, has anyone ever called lentils sexy before? Probably not, but I’m just so damn excited about this recipe and its splendid rainbow of supporting characters. It all starts with a sauce – man this sauce should have its own post. You can use it on so many things: as a marinade for tofu, on boiled potatoes, over gnocchi. I learned to make it when I was about 17 and would make it constantly except my husband is not able to eat 90% of the ingredients in it.

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Oh, the lentil. It’s so humble and savoury. So nutritious and fibrous. So tasty and economical. I miss them. Husband also very allergic to lentils, so this one is for Jason. 

A word of caution when you’re first learning to cook lentils, they have naturally occurring sodium in them, so I don’t tend to salt dishes with lentil, but you should totally taste at the end and see what you feel about that.

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Sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper of any colour, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of cilantro, chopped (large handful if you have tiny hands like me)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 bunch green onions, whites included, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon brown mustard
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add all the chopped vegetables and let begin to sweat. Once the vegetables have begun to let off their water content, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. You want to create a loose sauce of sorts, so let it cook up until it starts to resemble one. Taste and imagine all the possibilities.

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Soup

2 cups brown lentil (any lentils, really, my friend; some just cook faster than others)
2 litres water
1 large potato, diced
1 green plantain, diced (optional)

Once you feel your sauce is saucy enough, add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil and add the starches. You may need to add extra water, as lentil are greedy and thirsty. Simmer about 25 minutes, until both the potatoes and lentils are soft. 

Eat with rice or on its own, as it is very filling. 

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Ginger Pumpkin Cheese Pie

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One last cold weather hurray from me over here… I broke into the last of my $1 pumpkin stores from the Jean Talon market last week and remincised about the warmth of autumn.  All I really wanted to do was make some pumpkin bread for husband’s new office but here we are with seeds and roasted pumpkin and this delicate cross between a pie and a cheesecake. To be honest, cheesecake is too rich for my tastes. As for pumpkin pie, my mom would always make at least fifty in early November when I was a kid when all I wanted was a nice fruit pie – maybe apple or cherry or blueberry – since the texture was too much for my small self to handle. I acquired the taste when I was on my own and started making vegan pumpkin pies with tofu but it’s still not my favourite thing in the world. This is a lovely combination of the two desserts in what I consider to be a good size (not like those gargantuan cheesecakes).

If you have pumpkin puree on hand, this is really quick and simple to throw together and it makes people really happy. As this is a mix between pie and cheesecake you can go with graham cracker crust or with pate brisee. Any size that suits your fancy; I did a couple of tarts and a whole springform pans worth with a graham cracker crust. That being said, I’m only going to include the recipe for the filling because I want you to use your imagination, what you have in your pantry and possibly Google, if this is a dessert you’d like to make. 

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Pumpkin Cheese Pie Filling

8 oz non-dairy cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 flax eggs , cooled (instructions)
2 tablespoons corn starch

Using a food processor, hand or stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is creamy. Add the rest of your ingredients and buzz them until they are well mixed.

If using a graham cracker crust, pour filling over prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes in a 350 F oven. Be sure to use a water bath if you decide to make tarts.

If using pate brisee, pour filling over unbaked pastry and bake at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or as is. Both are better the day after you’ve baked them, so try to be patient.

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Lemon Blackberry Loaf Cake

Let me tell you about how moist this loaf cake is: very. Unfortunately that means I also have to tell you that I accidentally left this out sliced and uncovered overnight which is what led me to discovering how moist it truly is. When I returned to the cake after my blunder, it was still soft, fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth good. Wow, right?!

As with all my recipes, this is designed to be made as you wish – gluten free or not.

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Please note when baking a loaf cake, you absolutely must line the bottom with parchment paper. The cake itself has too light a texture to get out of the deep loaf pan without damage to the bottom. Learned that lesson the hard way so you don’t have to. This loaf cake is not too sweet, with just a hint of citrus and the freshness of blackberries scattered throughout.  The optional orange zest will just add one more pop of citrus, should you desire.

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Loaf Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (mine)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup non-dairy yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
Egg replacer, equivalent to 2 eggs
2 teaspoons teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup light olive oil (or other light vegetable oil)
1 cup blackberries, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease and flour the loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, whip together the yogurt, sugar and egg replacer until fully combined. While still mixing, add the zest, vanilla, lemon juice and oil. Finally add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold until a batter has formed. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle. Cool on a baking rack and once it has cooled turn over to free from pan. Slice and serve with marmalade for a really good time.

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Get Well Soon Soup

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I’ve been making this soup for a couple of years now. It has everything you need to feel better, sooner. It has the immediate benefits of clearing up your stuffiness for a few minutes and the added bonuses of more garlic and ginger than you could otherwise manage to eat. You can make it as clear and thin as you like or dress it up with noodles or rice. It really does make you feel better.

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I make it in two steps, but you can feel free to skip the first one if you’re pressed for time. If you sick and no one is making this for you, then I’d skip the first step, throw all the ingredients in the pot, get it to boil and just get to the eating.

Serves 4, as a meal

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Broth

1 large onion, sliced
10 cloves garlic, diced
3 inches fresh ginger, diced
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled and chopped
3 or 4 kefir lime leaves (I used dried)
5 mushrooms, cut in half
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Hot pepper, to taste (I used half a ghost pepper)
1 litre vegetarian chicken stock
1 litre water
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to boil over high heat. Let simmer until the liquid has evaporated to about half the amount you put in, for at least 45 minutes.  Taste for seasoning. Strain out liquid, smushing all the liquid out of the vegetables and set aside.

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Soup 

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 pound extra firm tofu, salted and chopped
Zest and juice of one lime
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
Salt, to taste
Fresh cilantro, mint and basil, chopped
Bean sprouts
Lime wedges

Return the hot broth to your soup pot and add the carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, tofu, mushroom, lime zest and juice. Bring back up to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and taste for seasoning. Once the carrots are soft, add the broccoli, and whatever optional add-ins you wish, to the soup. Serve in a big bowl topped with fresh herbs and bean sprouts, lime wedges on the side.

I did a bowl with buckwheat ramen and spinach at the bottom and added water chestnuts, baby corn, red pepper and mushrooms to the pot this time around.

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Optional add-in ideas

Fresh spinach
Water chestnuts
Bok choy
Baby corn
Red bell pepper
Cauliflower
Cherry tomatoes
Nappa cabbage
King oyster mushrooms, fried or raw