Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jazzy Vegetarian Classics + Free Recipe! [Black Forrest Pecan Pie}

Recently I was offered the opportunity to ask the gorgeous Laura, author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics some questions and delve into her delicious recipes. Oh boy does life hand you presents when you need them most! 

Her book is packed with vegan twists on American family classics. While she uses the term vegetarian she offers up a multitude of vegan recipes for us to enjoy! Laura's recipes are so in tune with my style of cooking, clean, quick, easy recipes that taste divine. Just the book for me- so I know you'll enjoy it too!

We've been slowly munching our way through her book and have especially enjoyed the Magnificent Maple Granola with Banana Whipped Topping, Coconut Oatmeal, Beautiful Basil Lemonade (so loving the drink recipes btw), Strawberry Surprise Apple Muffin, Cinnamon-Maple Mini Muffins, Fancy Peeled Salad, Coconut-Encrusted Tofu Cutlets,  Cashew Parmesan, Quick Baby Spinach Salad, Summer Cucumber Salad, Paprika and Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes, Dreamy Banana Pie, Black Forest Pecan Pie (Delicious recipe below).

There are so many amazing sauces/dressings in this book, I fear I might forget some but my other half loves the BBQ sauce, we're both nuts for the Tomato-Mushroom Gravy and the Dijon dressing, Creamy Dijon-Mayo dressing and Orange-Tahini dressing are some of my faves.

Obviously there are many many more recipes still on our 'to cook' list but these are the ones we've got through so far.

I should also mention that Laura's 'menus' are super convenient, I love having it all set out for you, it makes life much easier when time is lacking! We don't usually make them ALL (soup, salad, main, side and dessert) but having the options there allows us to choose which bits we feel like.

I just love getting the opportunity to ask cookbook authors questions and Laura was no exception. Have fun getting to know her better too!

1. What's your favorite part of a meal? (Mine used to be dessert but now it's a draw with sauces!)
I love the veggies! Baked potatoes with steamed or sautéed greens and sunflower seeds are one of my favorite meals!
2. What are your favorite summer and winter ingredients?
Summer: Fresh Basil from my garden.
Winter: Organic Kale - it is available all winter long!
3. What makes you smile in the kitchen?
Having successfully created a new recipe that tastes great and I know everyone will love.

4. What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen?
My latest challenge has been figuring out how to make vegan pancakes...almost there!
5. You've got some great meal plans in your book. How do you go about planning a menu for a dinner party (or just yourself!)?
I think about the guest list, what they like to eat and I craft the menu around that. Then I break it down, organizing each course: Soup, salad, main dish and dessert. There it is!
6. When cooking/sharing with others do you divulge the ingredients before or after? Do you tell people it's healthy or just let them dive in?
I answer ingredient questions throughout the meal, but usually I let everybody taste each course first, because I know they will then say: YUM - then ask "What is in this dish to make it so delicious?"
7. Do you have any tips for people who think they can't cook?
Start with simple recipes. Chili is a good one. Two cans of beans (drained),  1 can of  corn, (drained), 1 jar marinara, 1 diced onion, 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. You cannot go wrong!
8. How do you explain your food restrictions when ordering at restaurants?
I just say - make sure there are no animal products in the meal. No dairy, meat, eggs or fish. Then I say: Make sure that there is no chicken/beef stock, butter or cheese either - no animal products what-so-ever. Done!
9. How do you feel about the more processed vegan ingredients like sugar/oil? I notice you give low fat substitutions but still use some in the Jazzy Vegetarian Classics
I think they are fine in limited quantities.
10. If you could choose, what would your last meal be?
See question 1!

And now for the ooey gooey delicous dessert I've chosen to share with you all. You're welcome!
To finish any festive meal with a flourish, I take a cue from my mother, who always offered a homemade pecan pie as the finale for our holiday gettogethers. Now I have carried on that tradition with an innovative and tasty vegan version of this gooey, sweet treat that features a flourless crust. I must admit, I think this is the most decadent dessert I have ever created!
Black Forest Pecan Pie

Makes 8 servings

10 pitted Medjool dates
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
¼ cup pecan halves

½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
5 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups pecan halves

15 pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the dates, oats, coconut, and pecans in a high-performance blending appliance, and process to the consistency of soft dough. Transfer the dough onto a board and form it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10- inch round. Invert the dough on to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press the dough mixture evenly over the bottom of the plate, pushing it up the sides of the pie plate as you go, to make a crust. To craft a pretty edge to the crust, use your index finger to push the inner edge of the crust out, while pinching the outer edge in with the thumb and index finger of your other hand to make a classic scallop edge around the pie crust.

Put the maple syrup, molasses, vegan chocolate chips, pitted dates, vegan margarine, water, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour the maple mixture in a medium bowl. Fold in 1½ cups whole pecans. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top using a rubber spatula. Gently press 15 whole pecans into the top of the pie, arranging them in a pleasing manner. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges start to set and brown. Tent the pie with foil and bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, or until the pie has almost set in the middle. The filling will still be somewhat soft.

Carefully put the pie on a wire rack (the filling will be very hot!) and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled. Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I hope you enjoy this divine pie as much as I did!
Love and Smiles,

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