Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes (Easy Vegan Yam Cakes)

Sweet Potato Pancake with Brown Sugar Syrup and Pecans
These delicious and toothsome pancakes are heavenly; they remind me of pecan pralines with the brown sugar "butter" sauce and toasted pecans!  All the recipes I have seen use cooked, mashed sweet potatoes; too much hassle for me!   So, I created and tweaked my own recipe to use raw, grated sweet potatoes.  It goes together rather quickly to produce delectable pancakes.  I serve them with the brown sugar sauce, fresh chunky applesauce and/or luscious orange slices.  The leftover cakes hold up quite well and are delicious with the cranberry thokku too for a savory option!

These make a perfect breakfast/brunch for company or special occasion.  I am serving these for the New Year's day this year!  Happy New Year's Day Everyone!

Any extra sauce may be saved in a covered jar and refrigerated; warm gently until heated through when ready to use.  It makes a great topping for ice cream, pumpkin bread pudding, and other desserts.

Notes: When measuring out brown sugar, it should be packed firmly.  If oat bran is difficult to obtain, use regular oatmeal.

About 12 cakes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and coarsely grated
1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 c Oat bran
1/2 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 - 11/2 cups Soy/other Milk
Vegetable Oil for cooking

Brown Sugar Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup Vegan butter substitute (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp water

Topping:
1/2 cup Toasted or Candied Pecans

Method:

Gather all the pancake ingredients for the pancakes (except the oil) in a large bowl and mix just until combined; add just enough milk to moisten well - the batter will be thick.

Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat until a little drop of water flicked on it sizzles; dribble a few drops of oil on the griddle and smear it evenly with a  paper towel to make a nice non-stick coating.

Spoon about a quarter cup of the batter on and gently spread into a small thick circle.  Two or three pancakes may be cooked at a time depending on the size of the griddle.

Sweet Potato Cakes cooking
Drizzle with a few drops of the oil and let cook until bottom is golden brown.

Flip the cakes to cook the other side; the pancakes should be golden brown on both sides; cook the cakes about 3-4 minutes on each side on low to medium heat so that they cook through in the middle.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Use the batter to make as many pancakes as needed.  If there is extra batter, it will last two or three days refrigerated promptly to use another day; or make cakes and reheat to serve later.

While the pancakes are cooking, place the sauce ingredients in a small pan and heat over low heat. Use a spoon or a small whisk to stir occasionally.  Let the sauce come to a boil and then simmer gently for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

Place 3 or 4 pancakes on a plate and spoon some of the sauce on top.

Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

Eat immediately while still hot.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Andean Quinoa Soup (Vegan Veggie Soup)

Quinoa Soup is a treasure I found on a recent trip to Peru to add to my collection of fantastic soups.  An Andean lady from Maras demonstrated how to prepare this simple but soulful soup; it is so easy and yet sustaining with all the essential ingredients for good health.  Apparently on the cold highlands of the Andes, the day may start as well as end with a warming soup like this. Our hostess chopped and diced the veggies in the order she needed as the soup was bubbling along.  She recommended eating quinoa soup twice a week for not only good health but great complexion :) - ladies take note!  The first thing I cooked upon returning from the trip was ... any guesses? Absolutely Delicious! So what are you waiting for?  

I have given the recipe here as I witnessed to the best of my recall; for best results, add the vegetable ingredients in the order given. The soup we had in restaurants had local zucchini, red bell peppers, cilantro, and once, even finely diced tomatoes in addition to the other basic ingredients; so you may add/subtract ingredients to suit your preferences.  

Quinoa is a protein-rich Andean grain that grows on the highlands of Peru; Fava or broad beans are also grown there. If Fava beans and quinoa are unavailable, use a good handful each of red lentils (skinless Masoor dal) and barley or brown rice; I have done so without changing the essential nature or taste of the soup. As usual, I add turmeric to the boiling water for all the health benefits it imparts. I substituted a sweet potato or yam for the regular potato and also added a couple of little Peruvian blue potatoes that I had grown.  A few grinds of black pepper or a chile or two will not be amiss at this time to add a little kick; if you are lucky to come by some Peruvian aji amarillo or yellow chile (fresh or dry), that would be even better.  Sumaq mihuna!

Quinoa Soup with blue potato
6 Servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup dry Quinoa
Water
Sea Salt
1 large Carrot, diced
3 ribs Celery, diced
1 handful freshly shelled and peeled  Fava Beans
1 large Potato, cut in chunks
1 piece of Pumpkin/Winter Squash, diced (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp dried Oregano 

Method:

Rinse well and cook the quinoa in 1/2 cup of boiling water; simmer until soft.  Add a sprinkle or two of boiling water if it looks too dry.  Cover and set aside.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add sea salt to taste.

Add each of the ingredients one by one in the order given; wait for the soup to come to a full boil before adding the next ingredient.

Add the carrots to the boiling water first.

Stir in the celery next.

Fava beans go into the pot next.  If using red lentils, this is the time to add it.

Gently drop the potato chunks and let them cook for about five minutes.

This is the time to cook the onions:  heat a small pan and add the oil and onions.  Cook on medium heat stirring often until the onions are translucent.  Crush and add the oregano and cook for another minute or so and remove from heat.

Put in the pumpkin pieces into the soup.

Spoon the cooked quinoa, onions and herbs into the soup; deglace the onion pan with about 1/2 cup of boiling water and add to the soup.  Bring to a boil again; add a little more boiling water if necessary - this is a soup with lots of broth.

Let the soup simmer for about five more minutes or until the veggies are cooked and turn off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.

If using cilantro, stir in after turning off the heat and keep the soup covered until serving.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve.  Enjoy!!



Quinoa Soup from Maras with eggs and cheese

Vegan Quinoa soup from Maras
Happy and Healthy New Year to Everyone!! May the world be cruelty free and peace and love reign in every heart!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Muesli

Muesli is one the most healthful foods there is and very easy to prepare; it was one of Kou's favorite breakfast foods while growing up.  It is delicious cold but may be served warm on a cold day!  This is my all time favorite go-to recipe for breakfast.  It is loaded with nutrient-rich ingredients which provide everything from anti-oxidants to plenty of complex carbohydrates and protein that jump-start your day but sustain you through to lunchtime.

The following recipe will make 2 servings; you can multiply the amounts to suit your needs.  Feel free to vary and change the spices, nuts, dried and fresh fruit, berries, etc according to the season and your preference.  Although the muesli is quite sweet and satisfying with all the fruit and soy milk, you may like to sweeten it with a little maple syrup or brown sugar.

2 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup Oats or multigrain flakes
1 Apple, finely chopped (not necessary to peel)
1/3 cup fresh Blueberries
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
2 Tbsp Raisins
2 Tbsp Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup dried Apricots/Peaches, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract or ground Cardamom
1/2 - 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
11/2 - 2 cups Soy or other milk
2 Tbsp Soy Yogurt (optional) for serving

Method:

Combine all the ingredients except the yogurt in a bowl and mix well; cover tightly.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Spoon the muesli into two bowls and top with the yogurt.

Serve cold or warm as desired.  Enjoy!!