Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’etendard sanglant est levé
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces feroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!
That’s all I know about La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem.
But I do know that I have a secret love affair with anything French… last year, about this same time, I was in Paris for the 3rd time enjoying my first ever international vacation all by myself. It was a great experience and something I recommend anyone to try at least once in their life.
To celebrate… I would like to recap a few of my favorite French-inspired vegetarian remakes for all of you who might think French food can’t be made vegetarian and delicious and authentic at the same time…
Crepes can be made without eggs… and even without gluten.
You just need to be patient and buy the right ingredients.
Crepes for Lunch or Dinner
Fill them with Spinach, Potato and Broccoli or just plain Cheese… Crepes are France’s version of the sandwich.
Photo Courtesy of MarthaStewart.com
Crepes for Dessert
Fill them with macerated fruits or even a dulce de leche, sweet crepes are the gold standard of street-food decadence.
A few weeks ago, the Yoga Center celebrated an International Festival of Vegetarian Dishes. I wanted to contribute by making something that is traditionally considered a “forbidden” food for vegetarians out there, but at the same time that it would be easy for me to make.
I have made crepes time and time again, but out of spelt flour, which is a cousin of wheat. Most people with wheat-intolerance deal well with spelt, but many people at the Center are avoiding wheat and gluten altogether so if I wanted to make a dish everyone would enjoy, including our Master, I needed to make something gluten-free.
This was my contribution to the Festival… vegan gluten-free crepes filled with macerated strawberries and decorated with a drizzle of carob syrup. This was my homage to Didier and the delicious sweet and very popular crepes he would make for me at the Alliance Française a few years ago.
VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CREPES
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
4 tbs coconut oil
2 cups almond milk + 6 tbs
½ tsp salt
4 ½ tsp egg-replacer
More coconut oil to cook the crepes to oil the pans
- First, prepare the egg-replacer mixture in a small bowl mixing the egg-replacer and 6tbs of almond milk. Whisk well together and set aside.
- In a blender, add the flour, 2 cups almond milk, salt and egg-replacer mix you prepared earlier. Blend well until all ingredients form a smooth batter mixture.
- Refrigerate the crepe batter for at least 2 hours. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. I cannot stress this enough… if the batter is not rested for at least 2 hours your crepes will be full of bubbles and they will cook uneven.
- When you’re ready to use the batter… move it around and see if it has the consistency of a light pancake batter. If it’s too thick, add ¼ cup of water or more almond milk to make it thinner.
- Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbs coconut oil and spread out using a paper towel.
- Pour one ladleful of batter into skillet into skillet, turning and tilting skillet as you’re pouring the batter. The idea is to coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of batter. Don’t be discouraged if the first few ones are not as you expect. It took me a few tried to get the right rhythm of ladle and skillet.
- Loose the edges of the crepe using an off-set spatula. You’ll see the crepe bubble a little, very similar to pancakes. Loosen the crepe delicately from the pan using a silicone spatula. When you can move the crepe loosely by just shaking the skillet, after about 1 minute of cooking, flip the crepe using the silicone spatula.
- Cook on the other side for about 30 more seconds. Just slide the crepe out of the skillet onto a plate lined with wax paper.
- Repeat the process all over until you finish the crepe batter. Pass the oiled paper towel once in awhile in between crepes, as needed.
In my belief, these crepes were a COMPLETE SUCCESS!!!! But I will let the people who actually tasted them give their comments and tell you all about them in their own words. People… I am counting on you!!!!
I had not shared this recipe with you guys because at some point… this recipe was helping me make a living. When I was still figuring out this thing of working by myself, on the side, I was baking some things under the KarmaFree Cooking banner. I baked lots and lots of carrot cakes, made tons of hummus, veggie dips and red bell pepper dips. I also baked a lot of these budíns… especially for my friend Vanessa, may she rest in peace! She would order one from me almost every week…
This whole wheat bread budín is the Puerto Rican version of a bread pudding. The cool thing is it needs no egg custard to cook or any pre-soaking, like many recipes I have seen made at the Food Network. Just whiz the bread on the food processor, mix the rest of the ingredients and BAKE!!!
See why this was so cool to make for sale?? I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends enjoyed it when I was cooking for them…
Whole Wheat Bread Budín
1 lb package of 100% whole wheat bread
1 quart of milk, I usually use a box of Parmalatt milk
2 cups brown sugar
6 tbs melted butter or you can use 5tbs of coconut oil too
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
Cinnamon to taste
1 cup of raisins
8oz guava paste
- Process the bread in a food processor until you get crumbs.
2. Transfer the bread crumbs to a large bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients, except the guava paste.
3. Transfer to a 9 x 13 pan. I used to make this whole recipe to make 3 smaller size pans for sale. A lasagna pans is what the supply shop used to call this size. If I had one here I would measure it.
4. Bake in a 350F oven for 45 minutes. I turn off the oven at 45 mins, but leave the pans in for an extra 10 minutes with the residual heat. That will ensure the budín is cooked, yet not too dry on the outside.
5. After the budín has cooled off a bit, in a small sauce pan, add the guava paste with a little bit of water to make it into a pourable spreadable sauce. Pour on top of the budín as a glaze.
You just serve it directly from the pan… cut it into squares and serve your guests or bake sale customers.
I planned the whole menu for my sister’s baby shower… and appetizers is my thing. So I had a few ideas already in my mind. I would work with puff pastry to make something savory and something sweet. I would make a version of Rosemary Almonds but using cashews, which are easier on more adult teeth. Gotta think of the grandmas…
I brought with me an exquisite Pigeon Peas Antipasto too, but I was missing something else. Like a dip. But I was running out of ideas. I can’t make Veggie Dip one more time!!!
Then… I remembered a recipe I had seen from Giada DiLaurentiis – a savory cheesecake recipe designed to use a small cheesecake pan, just like the only one I have!! I had to adapt the recipe to make it egg-free and integrated some ideas I have learned while making Pumpkin Cheesecake over Thanksgiving.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we all did… this recipe is a keeper. Great for making in advance… great to bring to a party too!!!
SAVORY BASIL CHEESECAKE
Butter, for greasing the pan
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tbs sour cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tsp egg replacer + 4 tbs water
Pinch of salt and freshly cracker pepper
1/2 packed cup chopped fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
- Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl mix together the egg replacer and the water. Whisk well to combine and set aside. The mixture will foam and grow a bit.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 4 1/2-inch diameter spring-form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with a piece of heavy-duty foil. If you don’t have heavy-duty foil, just double on the foil.
- Place the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese and sour cream in a food processor. Pulse until mixed.
- Add the brown sugar, the egg replacer mixture, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until incorporated.
- Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared spring-form pan. Place the pan in a glass baking dish that’s slightly larger. Pour enough hot water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the spring-form pan. Make sure the foil top edge is above the water line.
- Bake until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken (the cheesecake will become firm when chilled), about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the spring-form pan from the baking dish and remove the foil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 3-4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the spring-form pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.
- Drizzle the top of the cheesecake with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with assorted crackers.
This is a great recipe to make the day before you need it. Just chill in the fridge and get out before your guests arrive. The cheesecake will hold very well at room temperature.
Someone over on Facebook was discussing which desserts everyone was making for Thanksgiving… and someone mentioned pumpkin cheesecake. I immediately knew that would be my dessert of choice this year.
Plus… I had pumpkin my Titi Carmín gave me and I wanted to use it all in my Thanksgiving cooking. I used part in my Pumpkin and Spinach Phyllo Pie and the rest of the mashed pumpkin in my Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters.
This recipe is an adaptation of 2 recipes I saw on the internet… I mostly followed Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake, but I adapted the recipe to make it vegetarian without using eggs and used fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin.
My springform pan is super small – I use a 4 ½” pan – and I use my toaster oven to bake it, I also had to adapt the times given in the original recipes. Because most of you guys probably have regular springform pans and will need to bake this in your regular large ovens, I will give you the original recipe proportions, temperatures and times. If you would like my adapted size, temps and times for using a toaster oven, let me know and I will gladly include too. OK???
EGGLESS PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE
10 graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tbs butter, melted
4 packs of cream cheese
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sour cream
1 tbs cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1 tbs vanilla powder
½ tsp salt
6 tsp egg replacer + 8 tbs water
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees, with rack in center.
- In a food processor, grind the 10 crackers into a meal. Add sugar and melted butter and process until well combined and resembles wet sand.
- Press the cracker mixture firmly into bottom of 9” non-stick spring-form pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before adding the filling.
- Reduce oven temp to 300F.
- For the filling, add all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse and process until the ingredients form an homogeneous mix, but stop once it’s all combined. Avoid over-processing.
- Place spring-form pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into spring-form, and gently smooth top. Tap pan onto the counter a few times to avoid having bubbles and for the batter to settle well. Transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening the door at all).
- Remove from oven and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to cool completely. Unmold before serving.
I actually ¼ the ingredients in this recipe and It gave me enough batter and crust to make 2 cheesecakes in my 4 1/2” pan. Because I made in the toaster oven, as I saw no need to turn on a large oven for such a small pan, I had to adjust the cooking times because it does not need as much time in the oven as for a larger pan.
The end result is a delicious, delicious cheesecake. This is certainly a winner in my book… a recipe that will stay in my Thanksgiving and Fall repertoire for years to come.