Friday, November 11, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce and Baked Falafel

Baked falafel, tzatziki sauce, green hummus and veggies

Who doesn’t love falafel with all the fixin’s (for me this includes hummus or tahini sauce, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and most importantly tzatziki sauce!)?  But – I realize this confession is probably outing me as a serious buzz kill – I’m not in love with fried food.  On a VERY rare occasion, I’m cool with it.  However, it usually kinda grosses me out.  But falafel is way too good to eat only on rare occasion, so when I picked up Appetite ForReduction by vegan genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz and discovered there was a baked falafel recipe, I was one happy girl.  These falafels are full of flavor and jam-packed with chickpea goodness.  And at only 45 calories a falafel, you can really chow down (I recommend making a double batch).  You can find the falafel recipe here.

On to the tzatziki sauce…  For me, a meal with falafel just isn’t complete without the tzatziki.  The creamy, tangy base along with the flavor of dill and jam-packed with cool, shredded cucumber?  Sign me up!  I also love use tzatziki sauce as dressing atop a mixed green salad with all the usual Mediterranean suspects – cucumber, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, maybe some green bell pepper, and chickpeas or cubed tofu.

This recipe goes crazy fast if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, but even if you don’t it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to prepare.  Enjoy!

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups plain soy yogurt
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded, and shredded
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 – 1 1/2 lemons, plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (not packed)
1 medium garlic clove grated on a microplane grater or finely minced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons dried dill (or 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta

If you’ve never used king oyster mushrooms to replicate the texture and flavor of scallops, you are in for a treat!  The texture is chewy, yet tender at the same time.  They have a very mild flavor, and a pleasant, meaty bite that makes you completely forget that you are eating a mushroom.  And best yet, they are ridiculously easy to prepare.  

I love to serve these with thin spaghetti dressed with a light white wine, lemon and garlic sauce because for me these are familiar flavor accompaniments to traditional “scallops”.  But they’d also be great served with grits or on their own with a little garlic butter sauce (of course using a vegan margarine such as Earth Balance) as an appetizer.

King Oyster Mushrooms

If you can find them, I definitely recommend using the optional enoki mushrooms in the pasta sauce.  They'll sort of melt down and you won't notice them at all in the finished pasta, but they add richness and a mild mushroom backdrop to the sauce that really gives it that extra somethin’ somethin’.  As a last word of advice, definitely read the ingredient list and instructions all the way through before you start so you’re familiar with all the steps.  This will ensure that everything comes together perfectly.

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta
For the Scallops:
5-6 king oyster mushrooms, sliced into approximately 1/2 inch disks
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pasta:
12 ounces thin spaghetti
12 ounces fresh spinach leaves
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced shallot
1 cup dry white wine
3-5 ounces enoki mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon plus a few pinches sea salt
freshly grated black pepper, a few turns plus more to taste
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cups loosely packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

This recipe has a few components, but as long as you follow the instructions everything should come together pretty easily.  Before beginning, be sure to chop all of your veggies and have all of your ingredients out and ready to go.

First, put your pot of water for the pasta on the stove to boil.  Next, preheat a large skillet (the largest one you’ve got) on medium-high for a minute or two.  Add the margarine and olive oil and lower the heat to medium.  Cook the king oyster mushrooms on each side until they are browned (about 3 minutes per side), turning the heat up a bit if necessary.  The goal is to quickly brown the mushrooms on each side without over cooking them to keep your “scallops” tender.  When the mushrooms are on their last minute of cooking, season with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice.  Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

At this point, your pasta water should be boiling.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the same skillet used for the mushrooms to medium and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the shallot, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute more (adding additional olive oil if needed to prevent sticking).  Add the enoki mushrooms, if using, and stir briefly.  Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the wine has reduced by a little more than half (about 5-7 minutes).

By this time, your spaghetti will probably be done.  Strain and shake to remove excess water.  Turn the heat on the sauce down to low.  Next, alternate adding batches of pasta, spinach and slowly drizzling in a bit of the 1/3 cup olive oil (tossing with tongs every few additions to coat).  Once all the pasta, spinach, and olive oil have been mixed with the sauce, add the remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, and chopped parsley.  Toss again with tongs.  Taste to confirm seasonings are to your liking.  Serve the scallops with a generous serving of pasta.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Liebster Award

Kate Allan at The Spade and Spoon nominated me for a Liebster Award (German for favorite, beloved, or dearest)!  Thank you, Kate.  From what I gather, the award is meant to recognize and promote lesser known blogs.  Yay!  I’m definitely feeling the vegan love.  I’m showing my thanks by linking to 5 blogs that I would like to nominate in turn.  Check ‘em out, and spread the love.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Raw (or not) Beet Burgers

These burgers are so good.  So good.  They have an incredible depth of flavor, perfect burger texture, and these suckers are super healthy without tasty at all "health foodie".  The sweet, earthy flavor of the beets goes perfectly with the smoky spices, and the miso contributes a rich, slightly salty flavor.

Although you could certainly just form the patties and eat as is, I prefer to dehydrate them for 4-6 hours to firm them up a bit.  No dehydrator?  No problem!  These burgers also do really well with a quick go in a non-stick skillet (I’d say a few minutes on each side in a pan preheated to medium-high, then turned down to just above medium before adding the burgers).  Just be sure to give the pan a spritz of non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking as beets are high in natural sugar.  Serve on a bun with your favorite burger fixin’s or in a lettuce wrap (my favorite!).

I definitely recommend using the shredding attachment of the food processor to shred the beets.  It’ll go super fast and prevent a HUGE mess (beets stain!).

Raw Beet Burgers
Yield: 4 large burgers
1 cup cashews (soaked at least 2 hours and up to overnight), see note
1 medium clove of garlic
1 cup shredded red beet, packed (about 2-3 beets depending on the size)
1/4 cup finely minced celery
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1/4 cup ground sunflower seeds (ground flaxseeds work too)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon white or light miso
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried chive
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
several turns freshly ground black pepper

Shred the beets and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the garlic to the food processor and pulse to chop.  Strain and rinse the cashews.  Place in the food processor with the garlic and pulse until a coarse meal is formed, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Add to the beets.  Add all remaining ingredients into the bowl and combine by mashing with a fork (this help the beets release some of their juices, and is crucial to getting the perfect burger consistency).  

Form into 4 patties.  Eat as is, dehydrate, or cook ‘em up in a non-stick skillet. 

Note:  If you don’t have time to soak the cashews for 2 hours, just soak them during the time it takes you to wash, peel, and shred the beets.  The burgers will still turn out delicious.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baked Donuts

I made donuts.  ‘Nuff said.

Kidding.  But there really is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with making your own donuts.  I found donut pans in pristine condition for $2 a piece at the thrift store several months back.  Knowing how much my husband loves donuts (he has a motto: there is always room for a donut) and since they were super cheap, I scooped them up. 

I’d been eyeing the recipe on Vegan Yum Yum’s website for a while, but just hadn’t really gotten around to it.  This may be due in part to the fact that - confession time - I do not love donuts.  I mean, if there’s a vegan donut in front of me I’ll eat it (or, more accurately, part of it), but I’d never choose to eat a donut over something else sweet. 

But let me tell you, Lolo at Vegan Yum Yum knows her donuts (check out the original recipe on her blog; she even has a video demonstrating the ideal dough consistency).  I must admit, I loved them!  They may just turn me into an official donut fan.  These donuts are baked not fried, yet the texture is surprisingly light – not cakey at all like I expected.  The household donut connoisseur said the texture is similar to and old fashioned donut and proceeded to eat 5 in one sitting.

I followed her recipe for the glaze, but reduced the non-dairy milk by about 1/2 a teaspoon and used a scant 1/2 teaspoon maple extract instead.  I also used the left over cream cheese frosting from my carrot cake for half of them – yum!  So find yourself a donut pan, and go forth and make donuts!

Baked Donuts
Makes 8 regular-sized donuts
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) nutmeg
1 tiny pinch cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
egg replacer (Ener-G brand) for 1 egg
4 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Add the wet ingredients to a small saucepan over low heat and mix until the margarine is melted.  The mixture should NOT get too hot.  You should be able to stick your finger in the mixture (it should just be slightly warm).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.

Scoop the dough into a lightly greased doughnut pan (I found it necessary to lightly grease despite having a nonstick pan).  Make sure the dough sits just below the rim.  If you over fill, the donuts will come out looking like they have a muffin top.

Bake for 16 minutes, and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing.  Allow the donuts to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon (scant) maple extract

Whisk glaze ingredients together.  Dip the “bottom” half of the donut (the side with the nicer shape) into the glaze, let some drip off, then dip glaze-side down into sprinkles.  Transfer to a wire rack that has been set on top of some parchment paper.  The excess glaze will drip through the rack onto the paper for easy cleaning later.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Raw Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve really been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my diet.  In my quest to find satisfying, delicious, and easy to prepare raw recipes I came across Russell James’, otherwise known as The Raw Chef, website and became a fast fan.  He offers great tutorial videos and tons of raw recipes that are easy for a raw novice to follow.  You can find the original recipe here.

This kale salad is one of my favorites, or more accurately IS my favorite.  I’ve made it several times, and love it more each time I make it.  I love love love kale, but I think this would be a great recipe for those who don’t love it but are looking for ways to get this nutrition power-house into their diet (and raw kale as an added bonus!).  It really is best to eat it the same day you make it, but I’ve had no problems eating day-old leftovers (especially tucked inside a wrap).  I’ve added my substitutions/additions in italics, but the original is of course wonderful as is.  As an added bonus, this recipe is super quick and easy to make. 

So give this recipe a try and get some kale in ya – you know you want to.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing
Serves 2-4
For the wilted kale:
2 heads kale (this will seem like a lot, but will wilt down considerably when the salt is added)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced
*1 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds

For the dressing:
2 avocados
*I typically use 1 cup of tahini in place of the avocados
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see note for a truly raw substation)
*I use 2 chipotle peppers because I like extra spiciness!
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Adobo sauce/filtered water as needed to blend

Note:  If not using chipotle peppers, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and tamari/nama shoyu.

Remove the stems and then wash and cut the kale into small pieces.  Place into a bowl, add salt, and start to massage the kale until it wilts and takes on a “cooked” texture.  Add the tomatoes and hemp seeds (and olives, if using) to the bowl and mix in by hand.  Blend all remaining ingredients in a high-speed blender until creamy and mix into kale by hand.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cream Cheeze Frosting and Carrot Cake Work in Progress

I was running some errands last Saturday and stopped by Loving Hut for a snack while out and about.  It must have been my lucky day because the owner was kind enough to give me a complimentary piece of carrot cake to go with my order – uh, hellz yah!  The problem was that as soon as I had devoured said carrot cake (hey, I did share with my hubby), I just wanted more carrot cake…generously covered in cream cheeze frosting. 

So, naturally I felt that I had no other choice but to devote Sunday to procuring the ingredients needed, shredding carrots, baking cake, making frosting, and decorating my very own cake.  Although the cake itself was pretty yummy (I added raisins, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, and crushed pineapple), the recipe needs a little tweaking.  It was a little too moist and a bit challenging to work with.  I also think the sugar needs some adjusting.  The recipe make enough cake for a 3-layer 9inch cake.  I opted to do a 2-layer cake and make cupcakes with the left over batter.  Next time I make the cake, I think I’ll have a good recipe down that I can share.

That said, the cream cheeze frosting turned out wonderfully:  a little tangy, cheezy, and of course a tasty way to satisfy a sweet tooth.  It’s super easy to make and is perfect for cake, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls…really any baked good that’s screaming for a generous slathering of cream cheeze frosting.  Enjoy!

Cream Cheeze Frosting
8 oz container non-dairy cream cheeze, cold (Tofutti is a great brand that also makes a hydrogenated oil-free version)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine, such as Earth Balance at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the cream cheeze and margarine.  Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix to incorporate.  Sift in the powdered sugar in 2 to 3 batches, mixing well between each addition.  Refrigerate the frosting for 1 hour before using. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homemade Raw Almond Milk

The flavor of homemade almond milk is so deliciously fresh and the almond flavor is much more intense than the store-bought variety.  I love to drink it straight-up or use it in cereal in the morning so I can really savor the yummy almond flavor.  As long as you remember to soak your almonds the night before, it’s also very quick and simple to make.  You can choose to flavor or sweeten your milk however you please (I often opt for plain, unsweetened almond milk with just a pinch of sea salt).  As an added bonus, this recipe will also yield you a few cups of almond meal that you can store for use in other recipes.  The almond milk will keep in your refrigerator for about 4 days.  Let’s get started.

Almond Milk
Yield:  4 cups
2 cups raw almonds
4 cups cold, filtered water (plus extra for soaking)
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or 4 dates, pitted), optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds of half a vanilla bean), optional
pinch sea salt, optional

First, soak the almonds in 4 cups of water for 4-8 hours.  I prefer to just let them soak overnight.  If you are using dates as a sweetener, you’ll want to pit and soak them in just enough water to cover for about 2 hours and strain before using.

Soaked, strained and rinsed almonds

Strain and rinse the almonds in a fine mesh strainer or sieve.  Add the almonds and 4 cups of fresh cold, filtered water to a blender.  Add agave, vanilla, and sea salt to the blender (if using).  Blend until the mixture becomes the consistency of a thick milk (depending on your blender, this could take a few seconds or a couple minutes).

Gently squeezing out the milk

Now it’s time to strain the milk.  I prefer to use a nut milk bag, but a cheese cloth would work too (or just use a sieve and wooden spoon to squeeze all the liquid out).  Because I can tend to be a bit messy, I find it easiest to strain the milk over a large bowl.  Pour the milk into the nut milk bag and gently squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.  It’s important to be gentle to ensure a seam doesn’t rupture.  Transfer to a jar or pitcher – voila!

Almond meal ready for the dehydrator

For the almond meal:  spread thinly on a lined dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 105 degrees F for 4-6 hours or until completely dry.  Alternatively, spread the almond meal onto a parchment lined baking sheet and prop the oven door open a few inches with a wooden spoon.  Bake until dried.  The meal will dry in clumps, so I always run it through a food processor to return it to a “meal” consistency.  Store in an air-tight container in the freezer.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Tempeh Cakes

These tempeh cakes are just amazing!  If you’re new to cooking with tempeh, this is a great recipe to try.  As a bonus, it teaches you how to steam the tempeh to remove any bitterness.  These are some seriously tasy little cakes with a crispy pan-fried panko exterior that is truly reminiscent of the original.  I definitely recommend using the optional nori sheet for added fishiness.  I’ve served them for omnivores several times with amazing results too.  I served mine with smoky collards, quinoa, and plenty of hot sauce.

You can find the original recipe by Isa Chandra Mowskowitz here.  Oh, and as Isa recommends, you can make the entire mixture and the remoulade the day before so all you’ll need to do is fry ‘em up. 

Chesapeake Bay Tempeh Cakes
For the cakes:
8 ounces tempeh
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons Vegenaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (stone ground Dijon works, too)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
Optional:  1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 tablespoon kelp granules (if you like a little fishiness)
Oil for pan frying

For the remoulade:
2 tablespoons Vegenaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (stone ground Dijon works, too)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons capers
Lemon wedges for serving

First we’re going to steam the tempeh to get the bitterness out and also to infuse some flavor with the soy sauce.  Crumble the tempeh into a saucier or small pan in little bits.  Add the water, soy sauce, oil, and bay leaf.  The tempeh won’t be fully submerged, but that’s fine.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated.  Stir once during boiling.

Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove bay leaf, and mash with a fork.  Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process.  Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them.  Add the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, chopped bell pepper, spices, salt and pepper, and mix well.  Add the bread crumbs and nori and use your hands to incorporate.

Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat.  Pour a few tablespoons of panko into a bowl.  Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your hands and form into a ball.  Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently with your hands cupped to smooth them.  You should have ten 2 1/2 to 3 inch patties.  I do them in batches of five.  Press them into the panko to lightly coat.  They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.

Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown.  Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel or paper bag to drain.  Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Toasted Sesame Quinoa Salad

This is a perfect fall salad.  It is delightfully fresh, but very hearty as well.  The fresh cilantro, toasty pecans, sweet dried cranberries, crunchy celery, and nutty quinoa with a tangy and slightly sweet toasted sesame dressing – yum!  Also, there’s a lot of room for substitutions in this recipe.  Try substituting half the lemon juice with freshly squeezed orange juice.  I’ve listed a few other suggestions in the ingredients list with my favorites listed first (I used walnuts instead of pecans this time because it's what I had on hand).

If you make the quinoa, dressing, and toast the pecans the night before, this salad comes together really quickly.  Otherwise, prep the dressing and veggies, and toast the pecans while the quinoa is cooking and cooling to make everything for maximum efficiency.  The recipe makes a good amount of salad, so it’s great for bringing to potlucks or having in the fridge for quick meals and snacks for a few days.  It also makes a lot of dressing so you’ll have plenty left over to drizzle on individual portions.  I like to serve it over salad greens with avocado on the side or in a wrap, again with avocado (I seriously put avocado on almost everything…so there is that).

Toasted Sesame Quinoa Salad
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube (optional)
or 8 cups cooked quinoa
2 bunches green onions
3 cups chopped celery
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
several turns freshly ground black pepper

For the quinoa:  Begin by putting 4 cups of water in a pot to boil.  While you’re waiting, put the quinoa in a fine meshed strainer and rinse thoroughly for a couple minutes.  Then dump the quinoa into the water – it doesn’t matter if it isn’t boiling yet.  If you’d like to add a bouillon cube, now’s when you do it.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook covered until all the water is absorbed (around 20 minutes).  Just keep an eye on it so the bottom doesn’t burn.  Once it’s done, remove from stove and allow to cool.  To quicken cooling, spread the quinoa out in a large, shallow dish.

For the dressing:  Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Alternatively, place garlic in a food processor and pulse.  Add all other ingredients except the oils.  Blend well.  Stream the oils in while continuing to blend.  Transfer to the fridge to cool.

Toasted Pecans:  Coarsely chop the pecans.  Preheat a pan over medium-low heat.  Put the pecans in the pan, and toast them for about 3-4 minutes stirring often.  Watch them closely because they’ll burn really quickly.  As soon as they’re done, immediately transfer to a bowl to cool.

Assemble:  Chop the green onions, celery, and cilantro.  Place cooled quinoa in a large bowl.  Add the vegetables and gently toss.  Pour in a little over half of the dressing.  Add the toasted pecans and dried cranberries and stir gently to avoid making the quinoa mushy.

Serve:  The quinoa will absorb a lot of the dressing the longer it is sets or is refrigerated.  This is why you have left over dressing!  If serving as part of a salad, drizzle a couple tablespoons of dressing over each portion before serving.  If you’re serving the salad potluck style, just before serving add more dressing (starting with 1/4 cup) and taste to determine whether or not more dressing is needed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Creamy Almond Butter Cookie Ice Cream

I know most areas of the country are experiencing cooler fall weather right now.  I’m a Portland, Or native who recently relocated to Phoenix, Az and it’s still regularly in the 90’s.  While 90 degree weather in October is certainly new to me and has required some getting used to, it has had the much appreciated result of extending ice cream eating season.  Yahoo!  If you haven’t tried making your own ice cream yet; you must.  It is addicting both to make and eat.  It’s really fun to experiment with different flavors, extracts, and add ins. 

Although ice cream makers brand new aren’t too spendy, I often see them at thrift stores for under $10.  Once you have your ice cream batter prepared, just follow the instructions for your particular model.  This usually involves having the main bowl component pre-frozen and allowing around 30 minutes for the ice cream to churn. 

Even if the temperatures have dropped where you’re at, is it really ever too cold for ice cream?  This is my go-to recipe that is loosely based on the ice cream recipe in Veganomicon.  It is equally delicious with peanut butter or cashew butter.  I topped mine with some vegan white chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Creamy Almond Butter Cookie Ice Cream
3/4 cup all natural almond butter
3/4 cup agave nectar (regular sugar works too)
6 ounces silken tofu either soft or firm (such as Mori Nu)
3/4 cup cream of coconut milk (be sure to buy a regular, full-fat can of coconut milk, the light stuff won't work here)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (hemp is my favorite, don’t use rice milk as it’s too thin)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookies (such as Newman's Own Alphabet cookies) broken into large pieces

Mori Nu silken tofu comes in 12 oz packages, so simply cut the block of tofu in half.  Gently rinse it under cool water and pat dry.  Add to a blender or food processor along with the almond butter and agave nectar.  Note:  the other half of the tofu may be stored in a container filled with water in your frig for up to 5 days, provided you change the water daily. 

To obtain the coconut cream, carefully open the can of coconut milk and scoop the cream from the top into a measuring cup.  You can refrigerate the can ahead of time to make this easier, but I don’t find it necessary.  Add the coconut cream to the blender and blend until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract, blackstrap molasses, and salt.  Blend again.  Finally, add the non-dairy milk and blend one last time. 

Transfer the mixture to a pitcher (or a container that will be easy to pour from), and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until it is very cold but not freezing yet.  Pour into your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I like to break the cookies up by hand so there are large nice large pieces.  When your ice cream has about 5 minutes left, add the cookie pieces.  Once your ice cream is finished, transfer to a sealable container and let it set in the freezer for up to 4 hours to allow it to firm up. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lower-Fat Banana Bread

Cheers to Vegan MoFo!  It’s just what I needed to give me that gentle nudge to start blogging again.  Let’s get straight to the recipe – Lower-Fat Banana Bread from Veganomicon.  It’s absolutely delicious, easy to make, and low-fat.  It’s a great way to use up bananas that have become overly ripe.  I drizzled on an easy maple cinnamon icing for an added sugar kick.

Lower-Fat Banana Bread
2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or grated fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really well.  Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and invert onto a cooling rack; flip the bread right side up and let cool.

Maple Cinnamon Icing
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
slightly generous 1/8 teaspoon maple extract
1-2 teaspoons non dairy milk

Place the margarine in a small bowl and microwave just until melted.  Add the extracts and 1 teaspoon of the milk and whisk with a fork.  Sift in the sugar and cinnamon and stir.  Add additional milk – in ¼ teaspoon increments – if needed.  It’s the right consistency when you drizzle some frosting back into the bowl and it remains on the top for 3 or so seconds.

Make sure the banana bread is completely cool, then drizzle with icing.  Allow up to 20 minutes or so for the icing to harden (you can speed this up by placing the bread in the refrigerator).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the winners are….. plus lava cake

First off, a big thank you to everyone who posted a comment for the contest and a big thank you to Coconut Bliss for donating the coupons.  There were some pretty yummerific ideas.  A quick recap:  liz likes to make ice cream cookie sandwiches and roll the sides in flaked coconut, mmmorgan adds berries to straight up vanilla, jeff is a fan of milkshakes, and animal-friendly swirls peanut butter into the softened vanilla.  Yum!  I want it all.  And a bunch of you go for it straight out of the carton which in all honesty is how I eat it most often.  Once one has procured the deliciousness that is Coconut Bliss, it’s near impossible to have the patience to do much more than grab a spoon.

On with the winners….Animal-Friendly in the US and mmmorgans in Canada.  Congratulations!  Email me your address and I’ll get your coupons mailed out asap.

Lastly, I wanted to share one more recipe idea that is a superb accompaniment to a healthy scoop of Coconut Bliss:  lava cake.  In all its ooey gooey glory, who can resist little individual chocolate cakes with an oozy chocolate center?  And these really are pretty darn easy.  I made them in advance for a small dinner party, so I had to microwave them a bit before serving.  I think the reheating may have contributed to my molten chocolate interior being a little more on the thick side.  Just the same, these were out of this world and I offer a few ideas for improvement if you want to give it a try.  This recipe provides enough raspberry sauce to decorate the serving plates, but if you want to have enough to spoon sauce over the cakes, you may want to make a bit more.  I baked my lava cakes in ramekins coated with Earth Balance margarine for easy removal.

Molten Lava Cakes
Yield: 6 cakes
1 recipe for a dozen (vegan) chocolate cupcakes
Molten Chocolate Interior:
1/3 cup plus 1 -2 tablespoons non dairy milk
1/3 cup well chopped chocolate (Newman’s Own Organics, Theo, and Sjaaks are brands I like that use fair trade cocoa from Latin America)
1 teaspoon non hydrogenate margarine such as Earth Balance
Raspberry Sauce:
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

I used 1/3 cup non dairy milk.  When making this again, I will probably try adding an additional tablespoon or two of non dairy milk (as the ingredient list notates) to thin it out a bit.  First, you need to make the molten chocolate interior which is basically a thicker version of a ganache.  Stirring frequently, heat the non dairy milk in a saucepan over medium to medium high heat (but do not let it simmer).  Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate as well as the margarine until melted.  Once the saucepan has cooled a bit, transfer to the freezer to thicken, stirring every 5 - 10 minutes or so until the ganache has the consistency of thick frosting.  At this point, you can use either a pastry bag or a spoon (a little messier) to form slightly flattened chocolate balls a little larger than the size of a cherry.  You may have some ganache left over (just melt gently by microwaving for 30 second intervals and pour on top of finished cakes before serving).  Transfer chocolate centers to a plate lined with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator.  Next up:  prepare cupcake batter.

For the cupcakes, I used Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Isa and Terry's amazing Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (Rapunzel makes a great cocoa powder that is both organic and from Latin America).  Make sure you coat your ramekins with some margarine before beginning.  And remove your molten chocolate interiors from the fridge about 5 minutes before finishing the cupcake batter recipe.  Simply fill each ramekin a little less than 3/4 full, then add the flattened ganache ball to each ramekin and spoon a bit of the left over batter on top to cover.  Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes (when I pulled my cakes out, the oven temp had crept up a bit and I let it go for the entire 15 minutes, which I think was a bit too long).  You want the cakes to be firm to the touch, but be wary of over baking or your center won’t be very "molten".  Place ramekins on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes (and loosen edges with a butter knife) before inverting onto a serving plate.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the raspberry sauce.  Simply heat raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat to cool.

To serve, spoon cooled raspberry sauce into a zip lock bag and clip a small amount off a bottom corner.  Pipe onto a plate.  Invert lava cake onto the raspberry sauce and serve with a generous scoop of Coconut Bliss.  Enjoy!