Friday, September 26, 2008

Vodka Pasta Very Most Delicious

Now, I was so involved in the cooking of and the taste-testing of and the following eating of the first making of my beloved vodka pasta without the heavy cream, that I forgot to take any photographs of it.... Oh, but wait, now I just remembered to, so here we go. The other good news is, the sauce was delicious, and tasted the exact same as it did in its last dairy-laden incarnation. The nuances of flavor that I'd loved were still front and center. Instead of the cream, I used cashews blended until smooth and creamy with water, which impart the same texture and even surprisingly, the same flavor (I did a quick finger dip test before adding it to the mix), but none of the mean fat from the cream. :) (Although of course nuts have fat as well, but it's much nicer. :))


(Adapted from Rachel Ray)
Vodka Pasta Very Most Delicious
Serves 4

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs non-dairy butter
2-3 cloves garlic minced (depending how much garlic you like)
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup vegetable broth
About 32 ounces of crushed tomatoes (You can vary a bit depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce- 32 makes for a normal sauciness, I think!)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, whatever kind you like (I like penne or rigatoni.)
1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted, unsalted. Raw would be healthier, but would have a slightly different flavor.)
1/2 cup water
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Mince the garlic and shallots. (And feel free to set them aside in cutie little bowls too, if you so desire.)

In a blender, add the cashews and the water, and blend until very smooth and creamy. When you've gotten a nice, smooth consistency, pour into a 1/2 cup measure, and set aside. (Make sure that you have a full 1/2 cup.)

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan. Reduce vodka by half- this will take 2 or 3 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and tomatoes.

Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes. Shred or tear the fresh basil, if you still need to. Stir the cashew cream into the sauce. When the sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.

Drain pasta. Toss pasta with sauce and basil leaves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Tart

This is slightly modified from VeganYumYum. It always turns out so pretty, and it feels very classic to arrive to a family get-together with this in tow. I also think of this as not only one of my favorite desserts, but one of my favorite breakfasts, cold and super set. MMMmmmm!

Apple tart
Makes a 9" tart

Filling ingredients:
5 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter
Apple jelly, for glazing

Pie crust ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter
2-4 tbs ice water

Add the flour, salt, sugar, shortening, and butter together in the food processor (or cut together with knives). Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand, with pea sized lumps. Slowly drizzle in water (not too much!) while running the food processor until the dough forms a ball.

Turn the dough onto the counter and press into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Juice the lemon, and set aside in a bowl.

Peel apples, slice in half and core. Brush all surfaces with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Roll out the dough on a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Dough should be 1/8" thick and larger than the tart pan on all sides (the bigger the better).

Invert dough over the center of the pan. Gently work the dough into the pan.

Slice apples into thin pieces, and arrange in rings, starting at the outside and working toward the center of the pan.

Once the apples are in, coat the top with the sugar and spices. Brush the apples with melted butter, then fold the edges of the dough toward the center, and brush the dough as well.

Pour any leftover butter over the apples.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until tart is golden brown and apples have color. Glaze with the apple jelly. Let cool most of the way before slicing.