Chef Fran Costigan

Vegan Italiano Festival – July 2015


I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be joining Tierno Tours and Green Earth Travel for their Vegan Italiano Festival Saturday July 25 through Saturday August 1, 2015 for a travel tour in Italy’s Amalfi Coast region. 

On this tour, you will be taken to Cilento, Vetri Sul Mare, Felitto, the Monastery of Padula,Villa Cosilinum, Palinuro, the Castle of Roccadaspide, the Amalfi Coast, the port of Salerno, Pompeii and Peastum. Attendees stay at one of six B&Bs in the National Park of Cilento – Italy’s second largest national park. Cilento is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area. Historically, the Cilentana diet is hugely plant-based, and organic too. So the area is incredibly vegan-friendly!

The fully escorted one-week tour will include:

  • 7 Breakfasts continental
  • 4 Lunches, including wine
  • 7 Dinners, including wine
  • 7 Nights in four-star Villa/B&B
  • Transfers to and from Naples Airport
  • Admission to sites on tour
  • English speaking guide the entire stay
  • First class motor coach
  • Tips for baggage handling, taxes and hotel gratuity, except Tour Director



Optional departure from U.S. on overnight flight to Naples (D, B on board flight)

Day 1 – Saturday
Arrive in Naples airport (NAP), ride down to Cilento, stopping in Vetri Sul Mare – a small town where we will see ceramic making demos in almost every shop along Main Street. Then continue on to check into villas and gather together for a welcome dinner with your special guest/s (L, D)



Day 2 – Sunday
Felitto – Harvest nature walk, where we will learn about all the wild greens, vegetables and herbs that have been used for centuries in the local dishes of Cilento. After our harvest walk, we will have lunch in a local farm house. After lunch, we can choose to take a
ride down the river on a paddle boat* or a nature walk throughout the mountains of Felitto (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Monday
Our first stop is the Monastery of Padula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest antiquity of southern Italy. We will have lunch in Villa Cosilinum, a beautiful restored villa at the top of this village. After lunch, we will have a tour of Joe Petrosino’s home before heading back to the villa for dinner and cooking lesson (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Tuesday
Drive down the Coast of Cilento to the village of Palinuro, where we will get our boat ride to the five grottos (caves) of the cape. We will have lunch overlooking the water and then free time on the beach. Dinner includes a cooking lesson. (B, L, D)



Day 5 – Wednesday
Tour of the Castle of Roccadaspide, built in 1242 by Fredrick II, passed down to the Duke Ettore Giuliani, who will give us the tour himself. After lunch at a local trattoria we will take a ride to the city of Agropoli where we will have free time to explore the city. Next we will drive back to the villa for Pizza Night, we will make our own brick oven pizza (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Thursday
We are heading to the Amalfi Coast. Leaving from the port of Salerno you can choose to spend the morning in Positano or the Island of Capri. Dinner back at the villa (B, D)

Day 7 – Friday
We are spending our last day in Pompeii we will have a two hour guided tour of the ancient city then drive back to the villa stopping at Peastum where you can see three of the best preserved collections of Greek temples outside of Greece. (B, D)
We will provide a list of things to do and vegan friendly places to eat and offer the option to come with us to see your favorite spots on free days.

Day 8 – Saturday
Transfer to Naples airport (NAP) (B)
*Boat rides are subject to weather and seasons

Please contact Donna of Green Earth Travel for bookings, questions, etc. at (301) 229-5666 or


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NW Chocolate Fest Cake Recipe

Deep, dark, moist chocolate cake: Vegan

The Chocolate Torte to Live For

My trip to the Pacific Northwest started in Portland, OR where I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Portland VegFest, as described in my previous blog post. I’m writing now from Seattle and it’s all about chocolate, my favorite bean.  Well, chocolate and some Field Roast Grain Meat Company love. David Lee, the founder of the company very kindly offered me his new test kitchen so that I could make the 300 or so tastings for my demos at the October 3rd and 4th Northwest Chocolate Fest. With Marti Miller Hall, aka TofuMom, and Lacey, at Field Roast, the Ganache Chocolate Cakes to Live For and Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles were shaped.

In other news: Don’t forget to enter Choosing Raw’s giveaway of Vegan Chocolate on her blog. You’ll find a review of Vegan Chocolate and the recipe for Warm Chocolate Cashew Pudding too.

Following is the recipe for the cake I made and sampled at the Chocolate Fest, from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts (Running Press 2013)

Bittersweet Ganache Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For

  •  Makes One (9-Inch / 23-Cm) Torte, 8 to 10 Servings
  • 1⁄2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1⁄2 cup / 64 grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 31 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar, finely ground in a blender
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 grams aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon / 2.5 grams fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup / 60 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup / 120 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 3 ⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 recipe Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C. Oil the sides and bottom of the cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle or paper cut to fit. Do not oil the paper.

Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.

Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, chocolate extract (if using), and vinegar in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into pan. Rotate the pan to level the batter and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of some of the air bubbles.

Bake the cake on the center rack for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the top of the cake is set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Run a thin spatula around the sides of the cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert the layer onto the rack, remove the pan, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert again, top side up on the rack, to cool completely. When the cake is completely cool, slide a cardboard circle or a flat plate underneath. Cover the cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before glazing.

 Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze Makes 2 cups/ 480ml

  • 8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 1⁄4 cups / 300 ml organic almond milk, soymilk or coconut milk beverage (more as needed to adjust consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons / 18 grams organic granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoons / 6.25 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons / 10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil

Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.

Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.

Add the vanilla and olive oil (if using) and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy.

Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. Dip a teaspoon into the ganache, set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should be smooth and firm, but should still taste creamy. It is unlikely, but if the glaze is too firm, add a tablespoon of room temperature milk, and repeat the test. Add a second tablespoon if needed.

Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.

Allow the ganache to thicken at room temperature for 15 to 25 minutes, or until it will coat a spoon thickly with minimal dripping, but remain pourable. Stir a few times from the outside into the center before glazing.

Keeping: The glaze can be refrigerated in a tightly closed container for up to five days and frozen for up to one month. The glaze hardens when it is cold and will need to be reheated. To reheat, spoon the glaze into a heatproof bowl that fits over a saucepan of barely simmering water. When about two-thirds of the glaze is melted, stir gently until it is smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed by stirring warm nondairy milk into the glaze a little at a time.



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Cacao, Matcha, and Kale Smoothie


I’m in Seattle and drinking more coffee than my usual but also eating plenty greens. I started my day today at my cousin’s house with this smoothie, before I realized it was National Kale Day, and without taking a photo of this very satisfying breakfast. Here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy.

Kale is the champion of Team Cruciferous—a medalist in every Healthy Veggie Olympic contest. Blend that kale with cancer-fighting, energy-boosting, calorie-burning, and detoxifying matcha tea; flavanol-rich raw cacao; and the good fat in avocado, and your day is made. Or, you can choose to drink this smoothie just because it tastes really good.

Matcha newbies, note that the taste is strong—a little goes a long way. Start with the smaller amount. I like the slightly astringent taste of matcha, but if you don’t, use less. You can use any kind of cocoa powder you like – it will be delicious, but it won’t be a ‘raw’ if you use Dutch-process.

Note: If using a high-speed blender, the kale leaf can go in whole and the smoothie will be creamy in minutes. If using a standard blender, tear the kale into small pieces before adding it to the blender and process longer.


Cacao, Matcha, and Kale Smoothie


Makes 2 servings, or 1 very large one



  • 1 1/4 cups / 300 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 large kale leaf, stem removed
  • 1/4 medium avocado (about 1/4 cup / 40 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons / 15 grams raw cacao powder (or any cocoa powder)
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml agave syrup or coconut sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons / 3 grams matcha powder, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup / 140 grams ice cubes



Put all the ingredients in the blender in the order listed, except the ice, and blend until smooth and creamy. Start the blender on low and increase to high speed. Add the ice cubes a few at a time and blend until frothy. Pour into glasses and enjoy.


From Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan.

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