May 23, 2011

vegetable strudel

With their beautiful presentation, strudels make a great appetizer/finger food. Baked until crispy and filled with herb infused filling, these are crunchy on the outside and bursting with flavor in the inside. Pretty much anything can be used as filling; just make sure that the vegetables are not too wet or else they can make the whole strudel soggy. Don't be intimidated by the use of phyllo dough. It does require a teeny bit of patience but the results are well worth it!

(makes about 9 pieces)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yam, diced
1/2 - 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme

1 bunch of scallions, sliced

1/2 recipe of Easy Cheezy Tofu Ricotta (optional)

1 roll of phyllo dough (Fillo Factory makes great organic ones)
*Phyllo dough must be thawed before using. I take them out from the freezer the night before and thaw them overnight in the fridge.

Extra virgin olive oil for brushing

  1. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant. Add diced onion and sauté until translucent. Continue to sauté diced carrot, yam and red bell pepper (if using) in that order, each for a few minutes or until done. Season with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and dried thyme. Throw in scallions at the end. Set aside to cool.
  2. After the filling has cooled down to body temperature, add tofu ricotta (if using).
  3. Spread out the phyllo dough on a work surface. (Make sure you cover the phyllo with a damp towel when not using.) Take a sheet and place on a cutting board. Brush liberally with oil and place another layer of phyllo on top. Repeat the process until you have 5 to 6 layers. (No oil on the top layer.)
  4. Cut the sheets into thirds lengthwise. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the filling on the bottom part, leaving some space on the sides. Roll the phyllo tightly while tucking the sides in.
  5. Place the strudels on an oiled baking pan. Bake them at 350°F (preheated) for 15-20 minutes until the outside looks slightly brown.

May 6, 2011

apple delight

Did you know that gelatin is actually a slaughterhouse by-product that comes from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hooves, and connective tissues? Really, who wants all that in a nice dessert that is meant to make you relax? Well, there is a more appetizing alternative for gelatin in the vegan/macrobiotic world called agar agar or kanten. Agar agar is a sea vegetable that helps liquids to gel. This dessert is a twist on the simple yet relaxing macrobiotic dessert, apple kanten. I made this for a friend who was on a healing journey and she went crazy! The texture is surprisingly smooth and rich, considering the fact that it contains no soy, gluten or nuts. It's the little bit of tahini that gives a nice richness.

(Serves 4)
Apple mousse
3 cups apple juice
4 tsp agar flakes
Pinches of salt
2 apples (peeled and cut into chunks)
2 TBS tahini
2 TBS rice syrup (adjust to liking)

4 tsp kuzu (dissolved in 2 TBS apple juice or water)

Apple topping
1 cup apple juice
1 tsp agar flakes
Pinch of salt
2 apples (diced)

  1. In a pot, place the apple juice, agar flakes and pinches of salt and put it on medium high flame to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until the flakes dissolve.
  2. Add the cut apples and cook until soft for about 5 minutes.
  3. Place the contents in a blender along with tahini and rice syrup and blend until smooth. (Make sure the blender is not totally full since the contents may spill due to the hot liquid.)
  4. Return to pot and when it comes to boil, add kuzu dissolved in apple juice and stir until it thickens. Pour it into parfait glasses. Chill to set.
  5. In a small pot, place apple juice, a pinch of salt and agar flakes. Cook until the flakes dissolve completely. Add diced apples and cook lightly.
  6. Put the topping onto the apple mousse. Chill and serve!