Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cooking Vegan

It’s January, and you know what that means. It’s time for all of us to start getting healthy. Time to start hitting the gym and eating better. Yep, it’s a new year, a new you! Up until next month when you forget all about your resolutions.

In the spirit of ambition, this month I’ll be featuring a few good-for-you recipes that will make sticking to your “get healthy” goals a little easier. I hope these simple, light and nutritious foods will help you to feel some glimmer of attaining wellness, even long after you’ve decided that you hate the gym and it smells. Starting with—for the first time ever—an entirely vegan dish!

Wondering what the difference is between a vegetarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and a vegan? Read up on the various kinds of vegetarianism here.

Vegan Pumpkin Crepes with Vegan Maple Ice Cream and Maple Pecans 

Listen, burgers, charcuterie plates, and chunks of parmigiano reggianno cheese dipped in honey are a few of my favorite things. In the words of the wonderfully blunt Anthony Bourdain, “To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.” All in moderation of course. But I took on the challenge to cook something vegan anyway and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

I picked foods that, like me, are not very vegan: ice cream and crepes. A vegan breakfast/brunch/dessert made of items that usually consist mostly of heavy cream, milk, and eggs. I knew I could make them taste delicious without any of the dairy, though I’ll admit I was a little skeptical. Mostly I worried that the recipes would not physically come together without the products that typically help them to leaven, thicken, and set. It definitely took a bite of trial and error. 

The crepes are pumpkin flavor. Along with pumpkin puree, I used vanilla almond milk to take the place of what would be milk and heavy cream to make them, and used just a bit of baking soda to help the crepes set—no eggs necessary. Crepes are fun once you get into the rhythm of making them. Some tips to remember when making crepes: cook over medium-high heat, use a brush to lightly grease the bottom of a nonstick pan (with vegetable oil to be vegan), and have faith in your pan flipping skills! On top is a garnish of chopped maple-candied pecans. Try them on your crepes or in a salad.

Now let's talk about this vegan maple ice cream. Oh, this ice cream. It is so good! It’s made of just four ingredients, the main ones being full fat coconut milk and maple syrup. The light consistency is very refreshing and reminds me of a creamy Italian ice. Surprisingly, the coconut milk is not too overpowering; the maple flavor really comes through. It’s ice cream that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating (not that I personally ever feel guilty about ice cream).

Have I gone vegan? Not quite. But I have definitely been enlightened to a different way of eating.

Vegan Pumpkin Crepes with Maple Pecans
Yield: 10 crepes
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vanilla almond milk
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for pan
1) Add the pecans to a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and toast. Stir in the maple syrup and simmer until reduced to a thick consistency, about 1 minute. Cool on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Chop.
2) Whisk all remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl until well blended. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the pan with the vegetable oil. Pour or ladle the batter into the pan and swirl until the bottom of the pan is lightly and evenly coated. Cook the batter like a pancake, loosening the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula to prevent from sticking. When the bottom is lightly browned, flip the crepe in the pan to cook the other side.
3) Fold the crepe into quarters to serve, if desired. Top with Vegan Maple Ice Cream and maple pecans.

Vegan Maple Ice Cream
Yield: 1 pint
- 1, 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
1) Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well blended. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Add the mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze overnight.


Joan Nova said...

Excellent job on the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative (so agree about reggiano and honey!) and anything with pumpkin and maple is enticing to me.

Faith said...

Crepes are something I always love, but don't necessarily think of making very often. You did an incredible job on them here - looks like a delicious vegan treat!

Magic of Spice said...

Your crepes are just beautiful and the ice cream...wow! Excellent vegan treat that anyone would enjoy!

Victoria said...

Wow, these crepes look delicious! Would never guess they are vegan :)

Lazaro Cooks said...

What a clever idea. Flawlessly executed.

lostpastremembered said...

These are just gorgeous. I love the idea of the coconut ice cream and the crepes look divine. Superb creation for the challenge!