Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween with Creamy Sage-Pumpkin Risotto, A Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Cake and a hike up Mt. Ellen!

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! What a fun time of year! I’ve enjoyed all the blog and facebook photos of Halloween food, desserts and costumes :-)

It’s usually quiet on our small mountain for Halloween. We normally get about 6-8 kids, but only had 2 this year due to the weather. Halloween was warm and gorgeous during the day and I had the pleasure of running in ‘balmy’ temperatures which reached the high 60s F. What a treat for me! But the rain arrived just in time for trick-or-treating which was unfortunate.

Creamy Sage-Pumpkin “Risotto” with Wild Mushrooms and Amaretti. Recipe is by Matthew Kenney and found in his new book, Entertaining in the Raw on Page 171.

I received permission from Matthew Kenney to post this beautiful autumn recipe onto my blog! Thank you Matthew!! I’m so happy because this is a delicious recipe which is perfect for this time of year. And I love being able to share such recipes on my blog for everyone else to enjoy.

So here it is :-)


  • 4 cups of peeled and roughly chopped jicama
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped and seeded fresh pumpkin (use small ones)
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cups of cashews, soaked for 2 hours (I used cashew pieces)
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of raw agave
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh sage (I coarsely chopped mine)

Process jicama in a food processor until rice-like consistency is achieved (don’t over process). Press out excess liquid with a cheesecloth or through a sieve (I used a nut bag which worked well); place in a bowl and set aside. Pulse pumpkin in the food processor with olive oil: add to jicama rice. Blend remaining ingredients in a Vitamix until smooth and creamy. Add to jicama-and-pumpkin mixture and combine well. Optional: cover bowl with plastic wrap and warm in dehydrator at 118 F for 1-2 hours. (I did this for 2 hours)

Wild Mushrooms

  • 1 1/2 cups of stemmed and roughly chopped (into 1/2 inch pieces) portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups of stemmed and roughly chopped (into 1/2 inch pieces) cremini mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread mushroom mixture in a small pan and place at the bottom of the dehydrator at 118 degrees F for 30 minutes.


  • 2 cups of coarse almond flour (soaked and dehydrated almonds that are processed and sifted through a fine strainer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons of date paste
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup powder
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients well. Spoon tablespoon rounds of the dough onto dehydrator sheets, pressing down slightly. Dehydrate 24 hours until mostly crisp on the outside. Allow to cool.


Divide the risotto among 4-6 plates. Spoon 1/4 cup mushrooms over the risotto on each serving plate. Crumble amaretti over the mushrooms. Garnish with fresh sage if desired.

Serves 4-6 (although I felt it would only serve 3-4 unless the portions were very small)


Joyce’s Notes: Wow this was another winner by Matthew Kenney! Even Scott who’s not a big pumpkin fan loved this dinner. It was so delicious with the creamy, slightly sweet risotto and savory mushrooms together. Scott really liked the mushrooms with the rosemary and thyme which are traditional New England autumn flavorings. I was never a big mushroom fan but have learned I really enjoy them in raw and living dishes! The texture is better un-cooked and they absorb their flavorings so well! The amaretti ‘cookies’ were very good and also enhanced the dish as a whole. We both enjoyed them with the mushrooms and risotto.

I followed the “risotto” and mushroom recipes closely without any true deviations or modifications. I’d recommend doing the same. The mushroom mixture might seem a tad too salty on it’s own but it works well with the sweeter risotto.

The amaretti was a different story. I didn’t soak and dehydrate the almonds so I modified the recipe and came up with this variation:

  • 3/4 cup of unsoaked whole almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons of soft date paste
  • 1/4 cup of maple sugar
  • small pinch of sea salt

I ground up the almonds and maple sugar in the food processor using the S blade until it was a coarse powder. Then I added the remaining ingredients and processed until well combined. I spooned onto dehydrator sheets and dehydrated my cookies for about 20 hours. They never got crisp on the outside. I might have over processed them which releases the oil. (which is why I didn’t add any additional coconut oil/butter)

Next time I would follow Matthew’s instructions and recipe. Having dry almond flour will make all the difference. My ameretti were still very tasty but just not crisp. They still tasted great on the risotto and mushrooms.

Overall, I was so delighted with this recipe for our Halloween Weekend. It was delicious gourmet raw vegan food, fit for a king! It’s a super classy recipe for impressing your friends and family! And it would surely be a lovely Thanksgiving dish as well. Thanks again Matthew! You’re an inspiration!

Scott carved me a cute Jack-O-Lantern! Love the teeth!

Next up: My Halloween Cake Adventure!

My own Halloween Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Cake! (with Murphy enjoying the photo shoot)

I wanted to create a fun dessert with a Halloween theme using nice bright colors. I searched the internet for traditional Halloween recipes and desserts. Sometimes you can find creative ideas and inspiration from cakes and sweets that are non vegan.

Here’s a traditional chocolate cake with bright orange frosting I found on the internet:


I love to find traditional recipe ideas and ‘rawify’ them into healthy, nutritious living foods. So the above photo was the inspiration for my own raw and vegan cake. While that baked cake above looks great, you might not feel so well after eating it! ;-)

Here’s mine!

Joyce’s Notes: This is a super rich, decadent dessert that both Scott and myself love. Wow! I am so excited about this one! I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out together. I have never eaten a cake with both chocolate and pumpkin flavors. However, these combinations are truly divine, especially with chocolate and hazelnut together! A seasonal classic that will help keep you healthy and happy!

I don’t mean to be a tease, but this recipe is going to be part of a collection of recipes that will be for sale online, benefitting the Farm Sanctuary. I do hope to get the website up soon so everyone can have access to them.

The chocolate hazelnut cake batter was made with my version of almond flour, hazelnut flour, dried coconut flakes, cacao powder, date paste, agave syrup, coconut oil, and a few other wholesome ingredients. I don’t like almond pulp in raw cakes, so both nut flours were made with whole ground nuts. This turned out to be a nice soft and moist texture which worked great with the pumpkin layer. The hazelnut flavoring was lovely and made the cake very gourmet tasting.

The pumpkin layer was my own ‘pumpkin cream cheese frosting’. On Thursday night I whipped up a batch of crème fraîche inspired by Russell James. This was basically a mild cultured nut sour cream made with probiotic capsules. I used less cashews in the pumpkin layer and added some of the crème fraîche for a ‘cream cheese’ flavoring which turned out to be subtle but lovely. The pumpkin layer also consisted of agave syrup, coconut oil, soy lecithin, carrot juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. This was delicious and tasted similar to the pumpkin cheesecake I made a couple weekends ago.

This was our first time trying this ‘spider web’ design! I made a chocolate syrup for this. (cacao powder, young Thai coconut meat, agave, almond milk, coconut oil, and cacao butter). Then I put it in a plastic squirt bottle right from the Vitamix. (I did let it cool a bit in the fridge for a few minutes as it got warm in the Vitamix)

For this design, you draw concentric circles on top of the cake using the squirt bottle. Scott did this for me since he has a very steady hand. It’s a bit tricky. Next use a tooth pick to draw lines out from the inside circle to the outside of the springform pan. I was able to do this with ease. I then drew the spider using the squirt bottle as well.

To see another great Halloween cake with the spider web design, visit the Happy Raw Kitchen. Angela did a whole Halloween blog series with a wealth of creative raw vegan Halloween recipes and ideas.

Hiking Mt Ellen!!

Here are some photos of our beautiful hike up Mt Ellen yesterday. Mt Ellen is part of Sugarbush Ski Resort, also known as Sugarbush North (near Waitsfield, VT) We hiked up a long work road to the summit which was an amazing scenic route. And then we hiked down some of the ski trails. It was a gorgeous first day of November. I loved the sun and clouds against the mountain vistas! Enjoy!

The above shot is just the beginning of our hike before it gets steep!

This was taken after we hiked over halfway up the mountain!

Almost at at the summit!

It was 30F degrees on top according to a thermometer attached to the lift operator’s booth. At the the base lodge it was 52F degrees!

The summit views are incredible up there! Scott is excited to ski soon!

On the other side of the summit we could see Lake Champlain and the NY Adirondacks. So pretty!

Camel’s Hump is in the background on the left. (looking north!)

Hiking back down a ski trail. Can’t wait to ski that one soon!

Although we already have our bash badges at Smugglers Notch this year, we do hope to ski Mt Ellen a few times this year! It’s a gorgeous mountain with epic trails!

So that was our fun Halloween Weekend! Making wonderful raw vegan food and hiking up a big ski mountain!

Hope Everyone had a fun and festive Halloween! Have a lovely week!


  1. Amazingly beautiful and I really enjoy your post Joyce...thank you!


  2. Wow, really, WOW.

    Great photos and recipes! You are so talented.

    Blog contests coming soon -

  3. Looks amazing! Vermont is gorgeous, and so are your cakes!

  4. Great food and a great blog. I just found you and will be coming back to read more soon!

  5. Hi Everyone, thanks for such nice compliments. So glad you all like the post this week :-)

    Katie, I'll check out that blog contest. Sounds fun!


  6. Oh, the risotto is a must try, it's great you were able to post Matthew's recipe here:)

    Joyce, your cake came out just as beautiful as I thought it would! Amazing flavor combination:) It looks like Murphy thinks so too!

    Your pics of Vermont really show how beautiful your state is.

    Thanks so much for mentioning my blog...{{hugs}}!!

  7. I love the picture where your pumpkin looks jealous of the risotto. looks very good! I will have to try it.

    Very pretty pumpkin chocolate cake.

  8. Hi Angela & Aimee, yes the risotto is so good. It's nice comfort food for sure. Hope you both enjoy it as we did.

    The cake was a lot of work but still fun and worth the effort. Murphy loves to be a part of everything :-)


  9. wow that cake is gorgeous!!!! i may just have to buy that cook book :)

  10. Hi Elizabeth, Matthew's new 'un'cook book is really classy and inspiring. It takes raw vegan food to a new level. Lots of great ideas for parties and special dinners :-)

    Glad you like my cake photos. Can't wait to get my recipes online



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.