Ice Cream (failure) + Avo-Caprese Panini

I promised you ice cream. I really wanted this to work out and I thought I was going to make the best  4-ingredient, no-churn, dairy-free ice cream ever. It was quite ambitious of me. What I ended up making was….

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a very delicious, strawberry-flavoured ice cube. That thing was frozen solid. If someone wanted a creamy shaved ice.. then please bring your ice-shaver and we can have a party at my place. Ok so what went wrong? I had too much water in my strawberries and not enough date paste to combat it. I promise that when my ego is healed, I will try again.

In other news, we went to the Okanagan this past weekend! We had a blast boating out on the lake! The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect (see picture below) and I went inter-tubing for the first time. Lots of laughs and good times were had. I always get a little nervous about staying at a non-vegan’s house because I hate feeling like a burden, but fortunately there was nothing to worry about. I didn’t starve and I think I showed people that I can totally eat normal food, more or less. Of course there were the usual questions “where do you get your protein?” “why are you vegan?” and the sort. Nothing too bad though.

OH but there was one moment when someone in our group went fishing and got my attention. Stomach churned. I was more upset than I showed and turned away very quickly. I try my best to not make “I’m vegan and want to talk about it when others don’t” moments and that was definitely a test of my tolerance. He let the fish go, I’m not sure that makes it better.. I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t. Buuuut I want to believe that little guy got on just fine for the rest of his life, you know, for my sanity. I think it’s particularly interesting how people don’t really consider fish as creatures they should be concerned about. Like how some ill-informed restaurants or people consider fish to be a “vegetarian option.” Perhaps because they don’t make sounds or facial expressions quite like other creatures? Poor fish, I promise that some of us do care. Anyway, this is making me sad.

IN OTHER NEWS the Okanagan had soooo much beautiful produce. I ate the single most juicy peach in my life followed by me hunting down some Okanagan peaches when I got home. I think I would move out there solely for the fruits and veggies. Here is us looking pale as ever at the lake (yes, we wore lots of sunscreen!):11954660_10153625029736350_350612401285357017_n

Ok so now that I’ve got that out of the way. I previously mentioned that I’ll often substitute avocado or hummus (or both!) when a recipe calls for cheese. I did exactly that! In place of mozzarella, I used avocado in a caprese panini. It’s delicious and you should definitely try this out.  I also used my quesadilla maker as a make-shift panini press and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I got some weird triangle marks on the top, but that was fine with me. If you don’t have some sort of heated press (panini, quesadilla, or even a waffle maker could probably work), you could probably cook this grilled-cheese style on a pan. I contemplated using a hot kettle as a press (with some foil between the sandwich and the kettle bottom), but I didn’t actually try it out. I bet you could also toss it in the oven at a low temp to warm it up and lightly toast the bread! In the end this is really just a squished, warm sandwich.. not exactly rocket science.

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I think what really makes this delicious is: fresh ingredients, good ciabatta rolls, and a balsamic reduction. You can totally be homemaker of the year and bake your own rolls and reduce your own balsamic. But, like I said, this was a late night snack so I went for the store-bought alternatives. I found this balsamic reduction called “Nonna Pia’s” which you can check out right here. I got the original because I figured that made the most sense for practicality but that strawberry fig was extremely tempting! I got the tomatoes from a local farm market because I think buying local when possible is always the better choice! And my basil was from the little plant in my window (can’t get much more local than that one). Aaaand let’s just ignore that the avocados clearly did not come from BC. Anyway there are only 7 ingredients in this lovely little sandwich.

20150820_205716Food close up. Have I ever mentioned that basil is my favourite herb? It really is. I firmly believe that everyone should have a little basil plant sitting in their kitchen window. Fresh herbs make such a difference in dishes! They add bright flavours and beautiful colour every time.

Avo-Caprese Panini

Makes 2 sandwiches. 15 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 2 Italian ciabatta rolls (cut in half for the sandwiches)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 1-2 T Earth Balance vegan butter (or substitute a drizzle of olive oil)
  • Balsamic reduction (enough to drizzle over, maybe 1 teaspoon per sandwich)
  • Fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat your pan/press.
  2. Spread Earth Balance on the rolls.
  3. Assemble the sandwiches. Tomato first, then avocado, then basil leaves and pepper, and last balsamic reduction drizzled generously.
  4. Press your panini for about 3-4 minutes or until toasted to your preference. If using a pan, flip then cook for another 3-4 minutes. I had to rotate the sandwich halfway through due to the way my quesadilla maker worked and it turned out just fine!
  5. Put it in your face. We enjoyed these with some wine and a movie.

I am feeling ambitious and I want to attempt making a’ moxarella’ for next week’s PIZZA RECIPE! It could turn out terribly like the ice cream, but I’m optimistic!

 

 

 

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