Monthly Archives: April 2009

Pumpkin pie & creme brulee recipes

The orange kabocha squash has bright orange flesh and a wonderful natural sweetness

The orange kabocha squash has bright orange flesh and a wonderful natural sweetness. This one is from the Berkeley Organic Farmers Market.

Why write about pumpkin pie recipes in the spring?! According to the USDA, pumpkin growing seasons are “from April 1st – July 31st and August 1st – November 30th for California crops.” Pumpkin is a beneficial food, high in antioxidants.

I recently made a delicious pumpkin pie for my husband’s colleague Raph and would like to share that recipe and other recipes. I use organic Kabocha squash in dessert, tempura and soup recipes because of its natural sweetness, depth of flavor, and because it is a favorite among chefs. (The rich gourmet Kabocha star anise soup in the Artful Vegan cookbook is to die for.) In my experience, the Kabocha is superior to the common pie pumpkins seen in markets in the fall. The delicious low-fat pumpkin filling recipe is from top natural chef Nava Atlas and used as a basis for the recipes. Nobody has missed the dairy when high quality ingredients are used.

Easy Vegan Pumpkin or Squash Pie
by Nava Atlas
modified by RB

Makes one nine-inch pie, six servings

2 cups well-baked and mashed Kabocha pumpkin
(Orange is preferable, but green is ok too. See Notes)
3/4 cup silken tofu (about half of a 12.3-ounce aseptic package)
1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. each ground nutmeg & ginger)
2 tsp Allspice
9-inch good quality graham cracker or whole grain pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Tips
Red Kuri squash, or  butternut (less flavorful) squash may also be used.
The best silken tofu is Korean style.
Use all organic ingredients. Freshly ground spices are preferred and liven up the pie.

Instructions

  1. Combine the pumpkin or squash pulp in a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except crust). Process until velvety smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into the crust.
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the crust is golden.
  4. Let the pie cool to room temperature.
  5. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges to serve.
  6. Optional: Serve warm with delicious Wholesoy vanilla yogurt ice cream on side

Notes
How to prepare the pumpkin: Halve the squash or pumpkin (you need a really good knife to do so!) and scoop out the seeds and fibers. To quick cook the pumpkin or squash, pressure cook on high for ten minutes.

Orange kabocha squash after it is cooked in the pressure cooker. This method of cooking pumpkin saves time and energy.

Orange kabocha squash after it is cooked in the pressure cooker. This method of cooking pumpkin saves time and energy.

Second cooking option: To bake, place the the halves cut side up in a foil-lined, shallow baking dish and cover tightly with more foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp and discard the skin. Use any leftover squash or pumpkin pulp for another purpose.

Pie Crust Made with Oil
by Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons milk, soy milk or water

Mix the flour and salt together in one bowl, the oil and the milk in another. Gently stir the liquids into the flour until the dough comes together. Shape the dough in a flat disk, then roll it out between two sheets of wax paper, 1/8 inch thick. Peel off the top sheet of paper, invert the dough into a pie pan, and carefully remove the second sheet. If any tears occur — and they probably will — simply press the dough back together.

RB Tips
Flour options:
a.  Use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 cup white flour
b.  Use Arrowhead Mills organic gingerbread cookie mix instead of flour for an amazing cookie crust that goes well with pumpkin pie. (Usually sold in the fall, around the holidays. We ran out of flour for pie crust and used this on a whim — with tasty results.)
c.  Arrowhead Mills also makes a gluten-free all purpose baking mix.

Vegan Pumpkin Custards
Notes: Use the custard ingredients from the superior recipe above.  The following instructions are from Vegan Visitor.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Set a kettle of water to boil.
  3. RB Tip: Add soy milk to pumpkin filling from recipe above to make a more custard-like consistency.
  4. Pour the prepared custard mixture into six 3″ ramekins or similarly sized oven-safe serving cups, about 3/4 full.
  5. Place the cups on a baking dish with raised sides.
  6. Transfer the dish to the oven and pour the boiled water into the baking dish to surround the ramekins, in a bain marie, about 3/4 the way up.
  7. Bake for about 40 -45 minutes or until the centers are fairly firm and no longer jiggling.
  8. Cool before serving and top with soy whipped cream or alternative and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

Vegan Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
John’s dad and our nephews enjoyed torching their own custards during the holidays.

  1. Follow the instructions above for the custard, omitting the topping of the cream.
  2. Once the custard cups have completely cooled, evenly top about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar per cup along with a light sprinkling of ground cardamom, if desired.
  3. Caramelize the sugar to a hard, golden, crackly crust with either a brûlée torch or under close watch, beneath the broiler.

Enjoy!

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Food adventures in the Philippines

(Vegetarian-friendly!)

Can anyone ID this sci-fi looking fruit? Photo: R&J Meyer

Can anyone ID this sci-fi looking fruit? Photo: R&J Meyer

Here are our vegetarian-friendly top picks for Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, and beyond. One of my favorite things about Filipinos is that they take their meal times and snack times seriously, so there are a plethora of quality restaurants and eateries in the archipelago. I eat fish occasionally, and have dined at these places with my vegan spouse, and veg-loving, meat-loving, Filipino and non-Fil. friends.  These are nice places to take families, dates, and your favorite aunt. Regarding cost information,  when I say a place is expensive that means moderate if you are spending in dollars.

Manila

Though I spent most of my time in the rural areas, the last few times I had business in Manila I stayed at the moderate AIM business hotel. (Tip: If you look remotely Filipino, ask for the discounted Balikbayan rate. You’ll just need to show a form of ID that shows that you are either employed or have some kind of residence in the PI. Places like the Manila Peninsula also have deals for local residents, including meals and room during times like Christmas.)  It is clean and professional and within walking distance of some of the finest dining in Makati City, right across from the Greenbelt mall and a small branch of Rustan’s supermarket.

Greenbelt, Makati area
1) **Max Brenner, Ground Level, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati Avenue. Excellent chocoholics breakfast and a wonderful breakfast/lunch. Convenient walk to the Ayala museum, which would be pleasant to visit after lunch/brunch. We love this place!  By the way, the nearby Ayala museum cafe also has a nice healthy-looking, upscale cafe menu, and modern design. (I’ve never eaten here — only visited museum.)

Max Brenner resto. Photo: R&J Meyer

Max Brenner resto. Photo: R&J Meyer

Euro style breakfast at Max Brenner. Photo: R&J Meyer

Euro style breakfast at Max Brenner. Photo: R&J Meyer

Hot choco was da bomb at Max Brenner. Photo: R&J Meyer

Hot choco was da bomb at Max Brenner. Photo: R&J Meyer

2) **Kai, Unit 13, Greenbelt 2 (may have moved to GB 5 by now), Ayala Center, Makati City, 757-5209 to 10, 0917-852-3654. Nouveau Japanese, light, expensive. Excellent quality fish and other foods. If you like Bond St and Nobu in NY, you’ll enjoy Kai.

3) **People’s Palace, Greenbelt 3. Modern Thai food.  If you enjoy modern interior design and fine Thai food, you’ll like People’s Palace, another great recommendation from our foodie friend Richard U. of Cebu.

Photo by Chotda, via Flickr.com

People’s Palace photo by Chotda, via Flickr.com

4) Sugi, Greenbelt 3.  Japanese, traditional, expensive. Good lunch specials & high quality japanese food in a nice setting.

5) Zhongnanhai, Greenbelt 3 mall, ground floor, Makati – Chinese restaurant (near Bizu pastry shop & Sugi Japanese restaurant). Has nice teas and tasty tofu dishes. Nouveau Hong Kong style with pleasant modern atmosphere. Moderate prices.

6) Hue, Greenbelt 3, Makati – Vietnamese cuisine. Light. Try veggie crepes. Vegetarian

7) Chimara, Simple, delicious Neo *vegan* fast food eatery, Greenbelt 3, top floor, cinema level. Good pre-movie quick food or light meals. We ate here many times! There is also a smoothie/fruit shake place one floor down.

8)  Dencio’s, Power Plant mall location, Philippine food. Good quality chain restaurant. Ask for the delicious meatless version of kare kare, as well as vegetable side dishes.  My aunt Peggy took us here and recommended this place.  It was the nicest, newest Dencio’s we saw on our last visit.

9) Bizu, Greenbelt 2 & other locations. Café/Patisserie. 02-757-2498. French style amazing desserts & coffees. Try the tea service with three levels of tea delights. Not vegan. Eat here sparingly 🙂

Tea service at Bizu. Photo: R&J Meyer

Tea service at Bizu. Photo: R&J Meyer

*Rich* French-style pastries at Bizu. Photo: R&J Meyer

*Rich* French-style pastries at Bizu. Photo: R&J Meyer

UP / Ateneo area, Quezon area – Vegetarian
Simple but good, clean places serving healthy Philippine food.

1) Greens vegetarian restaurant and cafe, 92 Sct Castor (between Scout Tuazon / Tomas Morato, near Max Chicken House), 02-4154796 – Veggie restaurant recommended by Dessa (fellow veg, native of Manila). This is in UP/Ateneo University area.

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Photos via: Greens

 

2) Likha Diwa, C.P. Garcia, Krus na Ligas, Metro Manila, Quezon City, near University of the Philippines campus Tel: 02-9255522 – Veggie eatery featuring healthy Philippine cuisine. Who knew veg. Phil. cuisine could be so tasty. It is cozy and has an outdoor eating area, but beware it is near a busy, polluted roadway. (Charita, this is the place where we dined with Deb, Hannah, and John.) Recommended by Dessa.

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Photo: via Likha Diwa

 

Shopping for healthy food
1) Rustan’s supermarket – a chain that sells regular supermarket items as well as imported goods. Best one I’ve seen is in Glorietta mall. It has an organic section and also sells soy milk.

2) Healthy Options – next to R’s supermarket in Glorietta. There are other branches at other malls. These small stores specialize in health food and natural beauty items (rice milk, shampoos, insect repellent, sunscreen, organic flours, organic pancake mix, etc.) imported mostly from US. Largest selection is at this branch. Get discount card from them (Green card). They also have soy milk from the US, but it is cheaper to get this locally at most major supermarkets. (Please, somebody open up a version of this store with organic Philippine goods for the city people!)

Outside of Manila
The Farm
, San Benito (2 hours south of Manila) Here’s the upscale new spa/resort (written up in the NY Times) with a live foods restaurant. It’s owned by the same company who owns the eco-luxe hotels in Bali. I haven’t been yet, but if I win big at the lotto, I’ll invite all of my friends and family to go there with me!

There’s a chain called Bodhi in many of the malls, that serves vegetarian, Chinese fast food. It serves dishes mainly with fake meat (wheat gluten or tofu) with veggies. The veggies aren’t that fresh, but ok if you are in a hurry. My cousin  took us to the best Bodhi, that was a new, stand alone restaurant. (Mutya where was this again?)

Cebu

Thanks to our friend, Cebu-native and sometime Austin, TX resident Richard for introducing us to all the best restaurants and wine bars in Cebu.

Crossroads – Outdoor mall featuring veggie-friendly restos: Persian Palate, Banri noodles (Japanese), and some Thai places. At Persian Palate, We avoided the yogurt products at all locations because they disagreed with our stomachs. The Crossroads is five minutes away from Ayala mall by taxi. On same road as Gaisano country mall (halfway between Gaisano and Ayala).

Yumeya Kihei — Pacific Square Building, F. Cabahug St., Mabolo, Cebu City, in Castle Peak hotel area (it is on 1st floor of office building, look for name of ofc bldg or you might miss it), 032-231-7886, 234-2388.  Authentic Japanese restaurant with extensive menu. Recommend: tofu dishes esp. yudofu, agedashi tofu, miso soup, veggie sushi rolls.

Various Korean restaurants around town. (There seems to be many Korean businessmen in Cebu for some reason.) Ask for vegetarian Bi Bim Bap, rice topped with egg & various veggies, served with a hot past and sometimes served in a stone bowl. Foodie friend Richard knows of small eateries, but recommends the restaurant in Lahug as best one (where business men eat).

Big Mao, Ayala Mall — A healthy, clean Chinese restaurant with really good fried tofu with steamed mushrooms and bok choy.  Note: Aside from Starbuck’s, we have tried and generally avoided the other Ayala mall food.

Bok choy & mushrooms

Bok choy & mushrooms at Big Mao. Photo: R&J Meyer

Fried tofu at Big Mao

Fried tofu at Big Mao. Photo: R&J Meyer

Golden Cowrie – Good quality, inexpensive Filipino food. May accommodate requests for veggie versions of Filipino dishes. Locations all over Cebu including SM mall.

Supermarkets
Gaisano – Ayala mall
SM supermarket  – SM mall
Koreana – Cesar’s Foodland Building, corner Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. & Paseo Saturnino, Banilad,  A Korean supermarket. Next door is a little Korean restaurant.

Healthy Options – Health food and beauty product store. Ayala center location in Cebu is good, but has smaller selection than Manila branches.

 

Dumaguete

When in town, the best place we have found to stay is Coco Grande. It offers a/c, cable, warm décor, clean rooms, marble bathrooms, a friendly staff who remembers frequent visitors, and a good lounge for meeting friends. Look at rooms in order to choose newly renovated rooms. Best/campus downtown option. The restaurant not recommended, unless the European chef returns for a special appearance.

Restaurants
Persian Palate – Lots of veggie options, like hummus. We avoided the yogurt products at all locations because they disagreed with our stomachs. Close to pier, around corner from La Residencia hotel.

Why Not — The bar, restaurant and internet stations are generally populated with older European men and their young Filipina companions.  However, the cafe has less of this scene most of the time and has good quality European cafe food. (Of course the only times the sexpats were out in full force at the cafe was the time I brought my mom and she was super uncomfortable.)  Recommended: breakfasts, apple strudel, chocolates, tofu schnitzel.

Desserts (local non-vegan favorites)
Ana Maria – beside DHL office. Coco Amigos & Grande order their cakes from here
Sans Rival – Local desserts

Stores
There are no health food stores in Dumaguete that I have visited.  However, at Lee supermarket, one can find good coffee, organic brown rice grown in Negros made for export, soy milk, organic spaghetti, and meusli.  There was also a Japanese store near La Residencia that sold quality soy sauce, nori, and soba noodles.

 

Siargao

We visited to learn how to surf and found some wonderful places. Restaurants at the small, family-run Sagana, and Ocean 101 inns are good.  Sagana’s chef prepared amazing fresh, thoughtful pan-asian and European-influenced light, satisfying foods.  The friendly staff and owners are local, Australian, and Japanese.  The architecture is breezy, modern, and clean. (The photos of the cottages on the website don’t do the place justice.) This was our favorite place to stay and eat.

Curry at Sagana. Photo: R&J Meyer

Curry at Sagana. Photo: R&J Meyer

Ocean 101‘s restaurant is an inexpensive option for both food and lodging (though the cement block room made me feel somewhat claustrophobic). Pansukian, a fancy hotel inland was also recommended to us, but we never had the chance to try it.

Read about vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines at Happy Cow.

Of course, most of the food we usually had was very simple and some of the best food we’ve had was made at our hut or at homes of friends.

Pita pizza at Batad. The chef was trained by a backpacking Israeli. Photo: R&J Meyer

Pita pizza at Simon’s, Batad. The cook was trained by a backpacking Israeli. Photo: R&J Meyer

The most fresh Japanese-style seafood & veggies I've ever had. At the Harada's house, Siquijor. Photo: R&J Meyer

The most fresh Japanese-style seafood & veggies I’ve ever had. Dinner at the Harada’s house, Siquijor. Photo: R&J Meyer

Andreas prepares the fire pit for our fresh fish and shish kabob dinner in his backyard. Photo: R&J Meyer

Andreas prepares the fire pit for our fresh fish and shish kabob dinner in his backyard. Photo: R&J Meyer

Dinner at Andreas' with Hannah & Shiva the dog. Photo: R&J Meyer

Dinner at Andreas’ with Shiva the dog and Hannah. Photo: R&J Meyer

 

Happy Eating! Enjoy! Click on “comments” below to let us know about your experiences at these places, updates, and if you’d like to recommend more delicious, healthy restos from your travels through the Philippines!

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