Meyer Lemon Strawberry Whipped Cream Pie and Honey Balsamic Strawberry Galette.

Strawberries were my favorite as a kid. They have always captivated me with their bright red colors and tiny seeded flesh. I enjoy the juicy sweet varieties and even like the not so sweet ones too. There’s just something about them that I have always loved. I like to eat them in their raw state (sans powdered sugar or sweetener—ew). It was only two or so years ago that I made my first strawberry-rhubarb pie and have been enjoying strawberries in cooked desserts ever since. Of course I still enjoy them in uncooked desserts too.

Strawberries are definitely one of those fruits that you should buy organic/chemical free. It shocks me how much poison they dump all over conventional strawberries. I’ve been growing them for years and I find them both disease and pest resistant without much help from me.

This is my Chandler strawberry plant. I also grow Sequoia strawberries.

For the first strawberry dessert of the season, I made this Honey-Balsamic Strawberry Galette. I saw the recipe over on Honey & Jam. The recipe is almost vegan, but if you don’t want to use honey, sub brown rice syrup or agave.

With the next batch of strawberries came this incredibly rich pie. This pie reminds me of strawberry shortcake with a touch of lemon, only pie. It’s really easy to make, super rich and creamy like mousse, but with a touch less air.

Meyer Lemon Strawberry Whipped Cream Pie

Adapted from Eat the Love

Ingredients:

1 recipe pie crust (use your favorite recipe: the one from Vegan Pie in the Sky would be great here)

For the filling–

1 box MimicCreme Healthy Top

1/4 c confectioner’s sugar

pinch sea salt

zest of one meyer lemon

1 tbsp meyer lemon juice

2 pints strawberries, divided

2 tbsp apricot jam

Method:

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out your crust and place it in a 9″ pie plate. Take a fork and poke some holes in your crust for ventilation. Place a piece of parchment paper in your crust and add pie weights, dry beans or rice. Bake your crust until it starts to turn golden. Depending on what recipe you use, the exact baking time will vary, but it should take around 15 to 20 min. Once your crust is cooked, remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the filling, chill your Healthy Top for about 30 min. Once the Healthy Top has chilled, pour it into the bowl of your standing mixer. Add meyer lemon zest, salt and sugar. Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment and turn to a high speed. Whip according to package direction or until peaks form. Take 1 pint of your strawberries, hull, stem and slice them. Fold them into the whipped cream.

Transfer your whipped cream to your pie crust. Stem the remaining strawberries and arrange them on top of your pie. Drizzle with meyer lemon juice. Heat your jam for a minute in the microwave; once melted, brush the jam over the berries. Serve and enjoy!

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Apple & Beet Pizettes.

I saw these apple and beet pizettes on an episode of Giada At Home. I decided they need to be in my mouth and hence they were made. I found them quite delicious and I think you will too.

Apple-Beet Pizettes

Ingredients:

1 medium or large beet, sliced thinly with a mandoline or vegetable peeler

1 medium or large apple, sliced thinly with a mandoline or vegetable peeler (I used Pink Lady, but if you’re making these in the fall, Honeycrisp would be perfect)

about 1/2 c Daiya Mozzarella style shreds

1 recipe vegan fontina or creamy tofu ricotta (there are TONS of tofu ricotta recipes out there)

1 recipe pizza dough (I decided on a whole wheat dough) You can also use store bought dough from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods

herbes de provence for sprinkling

a touch of cornmeal

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll out your dough into a big circle. Using a biscuit cutter or pint glass turned upside down, cut out as many dough circles as you can. Spread some vegan fontina or ricotta onto the circles. Top that with some Daiya shreds. Sprinkle on some herbes de provence and then top each pizette with a sliced beet and apple. Sprinkle on more herbes de provence if you please. Place pizettes on a pizza stone or baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes until Daiya is melted and dough starts to turn golden around the edges.

Apple-Lavender-“Goat Cheese” Galette.

Herbs and fruit, I loves it. Add a tofu based vegan chèvre and some wine and you have yourself an afternoon. 😉

This is a pretty loosey goosey recipe. It really was thrown together with leftovers of all sorts. I used this recipe for the tofu goat cheese. It’s getting more and more difficult for me to accurately remember the specific tastes of certain non-vegan foods. I have to say, this probably doesn’t taste exactly like goat cheese, but I thought it to be a damn fine substitute and healthy to boot. Give it a try and see if you like it.

Apple-Lavender-“Goat Cheese” Galette

Ingredients:

1 pie crust

2 golden delicious apples

sugar to taste (I added enough to coat the apples)

a few splashes of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 or ½ tsp dried lavender buds

tofu chèvre to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Peel, core and slice apples. Place them in a bowl and squeeze some lemon juice on them and stir to coat. Add sugar and toss the apples once more. Add lavender buds and stir. If you feel like it, add a lil splash of vanilla extract.  Roll out your pie crust on a piece of parchment. Place your apples in the center of the crust. Gently fold over the edges of the crust, creating a free-form pie. Transfer the parchment paper (along with galette) to a baking sheet. Bake for 10 min at 400°F. Lower heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes or thereabouts.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake.

To be honest, I can’t remember ever eating chiffon cake before. Supposedly it’s very fluffy and rich, made so by being full of eggies.

When I saw this Blood Orange Chiffon cake, I knew I wanted to make it. I have been really inspired by blood oranges this year and have made several desserts featuring them. I don’t know what got into me. Beauty maybe? Because, oh my, blood oranges are gorgeous. I’m not sure I think them more delicious than say, a Valencia orange, but the colors, the colors! I could just look at them all day.

But fast forward to chiffon cake….vegan chiffon cake….I searched everywhere for leads and came up with nothing. I knew I was going to have to experiment on my own….which I like doing, but you see I only had a limited number of blood oranges left for treats. I’m positive I got the absolute last ones of the season and I they had to used for something really special. I couldn’t go just wasting them on ruined vegan chiffon cake. Lucky for me, I used Irvin’s base recipe and just subbed out some things and added some other different things. And more things! I think I came up with something successful. I fed it to some omnivorous friends who seemed to enjoy it. It’s a slightly involved cake, feel free to make the blood orange butter a day or two in advance and then it seems like less work.

*Feel free to double this recipe for two full 9” cakes. The cake pictured is one recipe, baked in two pans. Each layer was then cut in half and then layered with the blood orange fruit butter (recipe follows).

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake

Adapted from Eat the Love

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup unbleached cake flour (I like King Arthur brand)

2/3 cup white whole wheat flour  (I like King Arthur brand)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup pure olive oil

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

zest of two blood oranges

Method:

Preheat oven 350°F.

Place all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Place wet ingredients into separate mixing bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined being sure not to overmix.
Pour batter into a greased 9″ cake pan or split between two pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, using the toothpick test for doneness. If you’re splitting the recipe between 2 pans, check on the cakes after about 18 minutes.  Again, use toothpick test for doneness.

 

Blood Orange Fruit Butter

Ingredients:

¾ c plus two tbsp fresh squeezed blood orange juice

¾ c palm sugar

1 tbsp blood orange zest

pinch sea salt

1 ½ tbsp coconut milk (the full fat canned variety)

1 ½ tbsp tapioca starch

1 ¾ tsp coconut oil

Method:

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar, orange zest, and salt over medium heat, stirring well until the sugar dissolves.

In a very small bowl, whisk the tapioca starch with the coconut milk. Combine with sugar and juice mixture and cook and stir until mixture starts to thicken. Add the coconut oil and stir until combined. Remove mixture from heat. Let cool completely and store in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. If you like canning, you can pour this butter into a jar or two and process it to use at a later date. Double the recipe for a bigger yield—I originally made twice the listed amount and got almost 4 pints, which was a little two much for one person. I ended up canning the remaining stuff.

For the frosting, I just made a vanilla bean vegan buttercream. Feel free to use your favorite recipe.

Gilcrease Orchard & Farm Fresh Apricots.

The last time I was in North Las Vegas, my friends and I attempted to visit one of the only local produce farms, Gilcrease Orchards, for some u-pick goodies. Unfortunately, they were not yet open for the season so we didn’t get to explore. The good news is, on my most recent Vegas jaunt, the farm was open for business and u-pick vegetables and apricots.

Looks like they’ll have some yummy pears soon 🙂

I was really looking forward to the apricots as their season in California is typically very short and I never knows how the cots will be each season. I haven’t had a good apricot in the past two years. The past two seasons I have bought them (from farmer’s markets and Whole Foods) they were just too sour for anything. I tried cooking them, as apricots on the tart side usually bake well, but no. Sour as could be and not in a delicious Granny Smith sort of way. I am extremely pleased to report that the apricots I picked at Gilcrease Orchards were sweet and delicious. This orchard is not certified organic, but they don’t use any pesticides on the fruit. You can tell, as the cots are a bit on the small side, but what they lack in size, they make up for it deliciousness.

Tree full of Apricots.

Farm Fresh Apricots.

And with these gorgeous and juicy cots, I decided to make Honey-Apricot Bakalava Strudel (adapted from Sunset magazine). I used holistic farm fresh wildflower honey, cardamon, pistachios, almonds and whole wheat filo. I have to admit though, I do enjoy true vegan baklava (with agave or brown rice syrup) a little more than I enjoy it made with honey. It was still really good it that sticky sweet kinda way.

Gilcrease Orchard

7800 N Tenaya Way

Las Vegas, NV 89131

Strawberry-Rhubarb Key Lime Pie w/ Toasted Coconut Cream.

Saw this pie on one of my very favorite blogs Eat The Love. Irvin’s creations are of endless inspiration and this latest pie was no exception. Since the recipe has both curd filling and a meringue topping it was super egg heavy. Rather than try to veganize the curd, I just decided to go with a curd-like key lime filling that I already knew was super delicious; the Spork sisters key lime coconut bar filling. Since I had learned to make key lime bars in their Hawaiian Luau class, I thought that filling may translate well into a pie filling. And it did. Yay. If you want the deliciousness of the Spork sisters recipe and you either live in LA, or will be visiting this Sumemr, you’re in luck. The girls are doing their Hawaiian Luau class July 21st and 22nd of this year. The key lime coconut bars are part of the class!

I made up the crust called for in Irvin’s recipe. I don’t really care for gold tequila, so I used silver Patron in the crust. Lovely crust recipe for mexican or tropical pies and desserts. I also decided to use the Earth Balance Coconut Spread instead of traditional Earthy B for the crust. It added that ever so subtle touch of coconut that I love. 🙂

I made the strawberry rhubarb topping per Irvin’s instructions and baked on top of the filling.

Last was the meringue topping. I really thought about doing a vegan coconut meringue topping for a long time. I was stuck trying to decide on whether or not I should do meringue or toasted coconut cream. In the end, it was the toasted coconut cream that won. I The pie seemed to have come out really great so far. Meringue is so temperamental that I didn’t want to risk wrecking my pie over the topping. I knew a vegan cream with toasted coconut would also be delicious, so I went for it. It would be nice to see if I could pull off the coconut meringue in the future. Someday!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Key Lime Pie w/ Toasted Coconut Cream.

Chocolate-Avocado Cake.

I decided to make this cake for Mother’s Day.

The Italian side of my family came over for a fresh and light Italian feast. I made all kinds of things; Creamy pasta w/ white beans and asparagus, vegan Caprese salad, Field Roast Sausage & peppers, a vegan version of Giada’s Goat Cheese, Lentil & Brown Rice Rolls, and a big mixed green salad. I also made minted-citrus iced sweet tea. I wish I had a picture of the whole spread, but I was too busy putting everything together.

But….I did manage to photograph the Chocolate-Avocado Cake. If you read the recipe linked to above, you’ll see that this cake calls for a mashed up avocado. I had reservations about making it for my omnivorous family, but I decided to go for it. They have never tasted any of the tofu or other weird things I’ve put in to cakes before, so why not? Glad I decided to take the plunge because the cake was a hit.

I made a hazelnut mousse for the middle layer and the outer layer of frosting was just a chocolate buttercream. I had seen a non-vegan version of the decorations on the cake, which I thought were ridiculous, but also completely adorable. I wanted to recreate that look for my family and the Italian feast. I used frosting coated in chocolate cookie crumbs for the “meatballs”, vanilla buttercream piped for the spaghetti and blood orange jam for the “sauce”.