Coconut Cashews Recipe

coconut cashews recipe vegan nuts gluten-free

We love snacking around here, and we try to keep it relatively healthy. As long as I can make it myself, with simple, whole-food ingredients, I consider it a good snack. And with the end-of-year holidays, I really love having non-cookie snacks to munch on or put out for guests.

I’ve had coconut cashews that were made by Trader Joe’s, and I’ve created my own recipe here, so I can control exactly what goes in there.

Happy snacking!

Coconut Cashews

1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon big-flake sea salt (I use Maldon)

In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add the cashews, sugar, and water. With a heat-proof spatula, move the cashews around, stirring constantly as the sugar melts. After it melts, watch the pan very carefully, as it burns easily. The liquid will evaporate, and the cashews will dry and look sugar-coated. Keep stirring, until the sugar melts down and the cashews begin to brown.

Keep stirring constantly, reducing the heat if the pan begins to smoke. When the sugar remelts, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the coconut and sea salt. Spread the nuts out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and cool. Keeps for weeks.

Note: The recipe is easy, but be careful: melted sugar is seriously hot, which makes it very easy to burn yourself. Before making the recipe, I recommend having a bowl of ice water near the stove. If you get hot sugar on your hand, just plunge it into the bowl for a few minutes.

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Cashew Tamari Dressing (Recipe)

cashew tamari dressing, vegan, gluten-free, recipe
I think I’m onto something. I was at Wheatsville the other day, and I picked up a bottle of their cashew-tamari dressing. Then I put it down, picked it back up again, and thought, why not make my own?

And it was good, you guys. The flavor is somewhere between Wheatsville’s cashew-tamari dressing and Mother’s Cafe’s version of it. It’s creamy and rich from the cashews, but also tangy and earthy from the vinegar and tamari.

The raw cashews in the recipe are soaked, which softens them up and makes them blend perfectly with the seasonings. The dressing should be creamy and smooth-textured, but if you want to, you can leave little bits of cashew for texture, or even stir in chopped, toasted cashews after blending for crunch.

Here’s the recipe:

Cashew Tamari Dressing

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tamari
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, cover the cashews with water. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the cashews. Place them, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a blender and blend on high until smooth. You might need a little extra water if the mixture is too thick – you want a nice, pourable consistency.

Serve with salad, raw veggies, or fried tofu.

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Pierogi at Rochester Public Market

pierogies cherrys polish rochester

Oh my. I’m not sure I need a lot of words to describe how delicious these pierogi were. While at the huge Rochester Public Market, I stopped by Cherry’s European, a Polish and Ukrainian food counter that’s housed within the market.

I’d already bought a ton of fresh fruit, but the busy counter called to me. I’d visited the stand once before, on a previous visit, and knew I wanted some more.

Pierogi are made from fresh pasta, and are stuffed with a sweet or savory filling. Common savory fillings are potato, sauerkraut, and mushroom. Sweet ones are usually filled with fruit, like apricots, strawberries, or plums. Cheese pierogi straddle the line, with a slightly sweet farmer’s cheese bound with egg.

After being boiled, they’re typically browned in a pan with a little butter. Or a lot of butter.

Growing up in Chicago, with its huge Polish population, I’ve eaten a lot of the little dumplings. It’s just not something encountered often in Central Texas, so I jumped at the chance to grab a plate.

Cherry’s only sells potato pierogi, but that’s just fine by me. Give me fresh al dente pasta filled with savory mashed potatoes any day. Add a cluster of caramelized onions and dollop of sour cream, and I would like them every day.

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Rochester Weekend

rochester farmers market

Upstate New York is gorgeous in the summer (and I realize I’m taking liberties by calling this “summer,” but it feels summery here in Austin clear through mid-November). Matt and I recently returned from Rochester, where we visited and caught up with his family there.

On Saturday morning, we visited the huge Rochester Public Market, with its rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The September fruit season in upstate New York is really impressive, and I bought way, way too much fruit.

There were, of course, apples and pears.

apples_pears

apples1

And there were tons of stone fruit. Peaches and nectarines, plus apricots and plums in every color and shape.

fruits

stone fruit peach plum nectarine apricot

And grapes! There were several varieties of grapes at the market, including Concord grapes and a few varieties of table grapes.

grapes

And check out these beautiful peppers. We grow a lot of different chilies in Texas, but I hadn’t seen some of these before.

peppersYou’ve got to keep in mind, though, that even with all its beautiful produce, the Public Market isn’t a producers only market. That means other folks can bring in and sell things other than locally grown or made foods. So, you can find things like pineapples, lemons, and avocados.

And also things like gum and candy.

gum

The Rochester Public Market also hosts several prepared-foods makers, like beautiful locally made pastas, cheeses, and baked goods. There are even some ready-to-eat foods around, like fresh doughnuts, crepes, and homemade pierogies!

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Thai Fresh Dinner

Thai Fresh is a great little restaurant in our neighborhood that we really don’t get to enough. It opened up a few years ago as a deli-like restaurant, where you ordered prepared food from a deli case, which was heated and brought to you. The food was really good then.

Now it’s even better. A while back, Thai Fresh’s owners, Jam and Bruce, began having their food cooked to order. The menu has expanded to include lots of Thai favorites, with a focus on using locally grown ingredients as much as possible. They’ve had such success over the last few years that they’ve expanded their space into what was formerly a three-business building. Now it houses just Thai Fresh and its coffee-shop extension, Thrice.

thai fresh drinks

Matt and I went for dinner a couple of weeks ago and had an excellent meal. To start, I had a wonderfully refreshing lime-basil agua fresca, while Matt enjoyed a Buckethead IPA from Thirsty Planet.

And to eat, I had Pad Sea Ew. One of my favorite Thai dishes, it’s made with wide rice noodles, crunchy and slightly bitter Chinese broccoli, fried egg, and sweet soy sauce. They key here is to get the noodles really caramelized in the sweet soy sauce, and Thai Fresh’s version gets some really nice charred spots on them. And, while I usually go for spicy dishes when I eat Thai food, the Pad Sea Ew is rich and dark-tasting, with lots of umami flavor that alternates with the slightly sweet and slightly bitter Chinese broccoli.

thai-fresh-pad-sea-ew

Matt’s go-to is Pad Kee Mao, a spicy dish made with rice noodles, mushrooms, sweet peppers, and lots of spicy chilies. His was spicy and rich, with a really fresh flavor. The still-crunchy veggies added a nice crispness to the noodles.

thai-fresh-pad-kee-mao

The cafe itself is warm and cozy, and Jam, Bruce, and the staff make guests feel really welcome. There are couches to hang out on, and books and board games to browse. There’s also often live music on the Thrice side in the evenings, which can make the cafe a great place for an evening out.

Thai Fresh
909 West Mary Street
Austin, TX 78704

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