vegansaurus!

05/14/2014

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!
May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 
*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!

May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 

*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

04/07/2014

Cookbook Review: Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon!   »

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Another day, another fantastic cookbook for review! Today we are featuring The Oh She Glows Cookbook, by Angela Liddon. This cookbook is based off  the popular vegan cooking blog of the same name, which you may have visited and even cooked from yourself!

First of all, this cookbook is gorgeous! There are 100 recipes featured, with each recipe given it’s own page of text and full-page, color photograph! I love this, as sometimes I find myself making recipes that aren’t turning out, and I have no idea how they’re supposed to look, which can lead to confusion and frustration in the kitchen. That’s why I love making recipes from blog posts so much! 75 of the recipes in Angela’s cookbook are new, while 25 of them are from her most popular blog posts, just updated. Her recipes are made with “real, whole-foods ingredients,” packed with vegetables and few processed foods. Each recipe is also classified regarding food sensitivities and allergies, so gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and nut-free labels abound! 

Before we get to the food, I want to add that everything I made turned out as beautiful as the pictures featured*, which the author deserves credit for, for creating easy-to-follow recipes with vibrant ingredients. This is definitely a book for those looking to add some “cleaner” recipes to their repertoire! 

The first two recipes I made were the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary. imageIt was a lot of green in one sitting, but my bod needed it! The soup was maybe not something I would serve guests, but make for myself when I’ve had a long weekend or late night out. It just felt good to eat it. And how can one go wrong with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes with fresh rosemary? The answer: you can’t! The potatoes were approved by my 18 month old niece, Audrey, which is one of the highest forms of praise in this household. She is demanding more as I type! 

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Next up I made the Marinated Italian Mushrooms because Bradleys love marinated mushrooms. I have always bought them at the store, not realizing how easy they are to make! The homemade version is delicious, and will be a staple now in my home for years to come! 

When I was flipping through Oh She Glows, deciding what to make, I came across the Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich, and it was a done deal. I am a huge fan of adding Vegenaise to anything and calling it a salad. Liddon’s version did not disappoint; I was blown away by how flavorful and colorful it was! Disclaimer: I did not add the pickles it called for because I do not swing that way. imageI slathered this salad on sliced sourdough bread, because any respectable sandwich comes on sourdough when you grow up in the Bay Area. 

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Last but very certainly not least, I made the Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. Talk about a sight and taste sensation! This guacamole is beautiful. There is a bit of prep involved, to chop all the fruits, but it is SO WORTH IT. One doesn’t even need chips for this, it’s great by the spoonful! 

I recommend this cookbook because it stays true to it’s word: “Vegan Recipes to Glow From the Inside Out.” The recipes I made, at least, made me feel good. They weren’t particularly tricky to make, they were just a little time consuming, as anything chock full of vegetables will be. There are so many more recipes within these pages I can’t wait to make, including her Summertime Cherry-Basil Bruschetta (Megan Rascal told me she loves bruschetta! Maybe I can finally lure her back to California for a visit by making it [Megan Rascal note: YEP SOUNDS PROBABLE BRUSCHETTA FOR LIFE]) and the Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and Balsamic Reduction! 

Full Disclosure: I was sent this cookbook free from the publishing company for review, however, all of the opinions stated above are my own. 

*Well, my food may have turned out beautifully in real life, but I’m no food photographer! Angela Liddon not only created all of her recipes, she also shot all the food within the pages herself! 

04/02/2014

Keepin’ It Kind’s Tofu Chèvre recipe is a vegan cheesy grand-slam!  »

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction*, fresh chopped tomatoes and julienned basil on toasted slices of sourdough baguette. 

I am quite the vegan cheese connoisseur, and by that I mean I enjoy all of it**, especially the most expensive varieties! Right now, however, I am living in a place where the only vegan food I can trust comes from my own kitchen, fancy cheese included. There’s no Kite Hill for miles in these parts. I can’t complain too much though, as the olive oil and wine produced here are pretty fab!

Last week I wanted to treat myself, with as little work and ingredients as possible. Fortunately for me, I had bookmarked Keepin’ It Kind’s tofu chèvre, saving the recipe for a rainy day! Just kidding, I live in SoCal now, which means it was most definitely not raining the morning I made this! It was however, reigning Breaking Amish on Netfilx in my kitchen all day, that’s for sure! Man, I loved watching those four Amish and one Mennonite, making their way through the big apple. Oh, how I miss city life!

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Alright, enough TV talk (we can use Twitter for that), let’s get to the cheese. I was stoked at just how easy this recipe was to follow, and that the results following were spectacular! I did change it a little, because tahini is not something I ever have on hand, nor was I willing to buy it for a half tablespoon. I substituted a little more miso (which means I should’ve cut back on the salt) and lemon. When this baby came out of the oven it took everything I had not to just eat it by the spoonful. By the time it cooled I had only about half a log left, which I used to make the most delectable bruschetta of my life! 

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction, avocado and julienned basil. 

I can’t recommend this recipe enough, as it’s both scrumptious and elegant! I’m making it for every party I host or attend in the future, because the world needs to know about this vegan cheese! My fave part was that not only did I make an artisanal cheese at home, it was a fraction of the cost of most vegan items on the market. I can’t wait to make this pesto and chèvre grilled cheese sammie and then this pizza! Who’s coming for dinner? I heard a rumor that Kristy Turner, of Keepin’ It Kind, may be working on a cookbook and so you better believe I’ll be ordering online from the seat I’m in right now first in line for that hard copy!

*You don’t have bother looking up a recipe for balsamic reduction, unless you like things exact. I simmered about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for approximately 20 minutes. It hardens as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem syrupy enough when it’s warm. Don’t use a whole bottle of vinegar for a glaze you’ll use twice. Or do whatever you want, it’s your fridge space! 

**Never the FYH vegan cheddar though. NEVER THE CHEDDAR.

03/25/2014

NYT Brings Us Vegan Stuffed Butternut Squash!  »

My brother invited me over for dinner the other night and he had this great recipe for stuffed butternut squash from The New York Times he wanted to make as it looked yum and was already vegan! Yay NYT!

The filling is seasoned with wine and mushrooms which was great but I think the favorite addition was the seeds. The recipe has you save the seeds from the squash, cook them a bit, and then add fresh lemon zest and sage. They were awesome! I think we needed to cook the seeds longer as they weren’t quite toasted but it was still really good.

Yes, the recipe has a lot of steps but it’s a really nice dish. So check it out and tell me what you think!

03/06/2014

Recipe review: Vegan Hollandaise from the Comforting Vegan!  »

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I am living in a place where I don’t think vegan brunches are served; probably not the vegan-friendly ones I’m accustomed to. I don’t think granola and a fruit plate is much fun, but I do get a kick out of making food at home! Breakfast is served!* 

I love breakfast food, it is my favorite kind of meal! It has always felt special to me to go out to breakfast with friends or prepare an elegant one at home (move over, fancy dinners, breakfast is back). I have come to really enjoy going out to brunch because that’s when restaurants make the most splendid of morning food! The array of beverages is fantastic: juices, coffee and sometimes bubbly! I, however, am my father’s child in that I’ll do anything to avoid a crowd, and sadly, weekend brunches on the town are no exception. That’s okay though, because thanks to both The Vegg, and a new-to-me hollandaise sauce from The Comforting Vegan, breakfast at home is now both chill and exciting! Friends, we’re doing brunch at my place this weekend! 

The hollandaise sauce calls for The Vegg, which we’ve discussed here before, but I hadn’t tried myself until very recently. I’m super stoked by it. I had forgotten how much I loved the taste of “yolks” and ketchup together! The Vegg atop fried tofu is delicious, but I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen. I’ve been curious about vegan hollandaise, yet unsure about how it could be pulled off. This in turn lead to concerns about complete and utter disappointment as home cooking experiments failing to meet personal expectations can be so frustrating! Now, I’m going to admit to you that I was at first resistant to this recipe, possibly because I initially judge recipes by the amount of ingredients they call for. I was hesitant about the Vegenaise factor, yet something kept bringing me back. It was the comments section! How could I not give it a shot when everyone had great things to say and I, for once, had everything on hand? 

The result? HOT DANG! My parents used to make hollandaise sauce once a year, on Christmas day for the family, and this recipe brought me right back there! I don’t think Amy could’ve picked a better name for her blog

I can’t wait to make more of The Comforting Vegan’s recipes. She knows her flavors and textures! Plus she sells vegan Toaster’s Strudels on Etsy. Basically, she’s my new internet hero. 

You can get The Vegg shipped to you on Vegan CutsVegan Essentials and their website (I bought mine at Viva La Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga). 

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The most important meal of the day! 

*Pro-tip: Hollandaise and Daiya together is a bit much, so you can totally nix the vegan cheese! I think vegan bacon (in whatever form: bits, seitan, coconut) and sautéed spinach go together splendidly; believe me when I say that it is an absolute dream pairing with this recipe! 

03/25/2010

I made this pie and you can, too! It was super-easy!
Step 1: Follow the steps to a perfect pie crust on Smitten Kitchen, substituting Earth Balance for butter.
Step 2: Make this caramel apple pie from VegWeb, halving the caramel filling recipe.
Step 3: Devour, with a big cup of coffee!
This was the first pie crust I ever made, and it turned out really well, even with 100 percent whole-wheat flour (I live with crazy people who are terrified of white flour) and my own total lack of lattice-ing skills. Vegan pie, it’s the tastiest!
[photo by Meave!]

I made this pie and you can, too! It was super-easy!

Step 1: Follow the steps to a perfect pie crust on Smitten Kitchen, substituting Earth Balance for butter.

Step 2: Make this caramel apple pie from VegWeb, halving the caramel filling recipe.

Step 3: Devour, with a big cup of coffee!

This was the first pie crust I ever made, and it turned out really well, even with 100 percent whole-wheat flour (I live with crazy people who are terrified of white flour) and my own total lack of lattice-ing skills. Vegan pie, it’s the tastiest!

[photo by Meave!]

02/22/2010

Recipe: East Coast coffee cake  »

I decided to chip in a bit for the most recent SF Vegan Bakesale, and I am a big coffee cake fan so I thought, “Hey! I’ll make a coffee cake! That’s the ticket!” I recently picked up Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and there’s a nice little recipe in there she titles “East Coast Coffee Cake.” What makes it East Coast, you ask? OMG I asked the same thing! Apparently East Coast coffee cake is “a rich, moist, yellow cake topped with a thick messy crumb topping.” OK. I can see that.


My official ruling on this recipe: GODDAMN! It’s good. As I previously stated in the bakesale recap, I had more than one piece before I delivered the cake to the sale. Jeez louise, delish! Way better than that quickity-quick biscuit coffee cake recipe I gave you before. Another nice thing about this one, Moskowitz gives you like 82 variations on the recipe including stuff like chocolate, berries, and figs—oh my! I just did the straight-up O.G. for safety’s sake.

Ingredients
For the topping:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil, plus up to 2 Tbs. more if needed

For the cake:
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk because that’s my new steeze)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For serving:
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)


Instructions
Preheat over to 375F. Grease an 8-inch square pan (Isa says she likes to use a springform pan—interesting). Mix the milk and vinegar together and set aside to curdle.

Make the topping:
Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Drizzle in canola oil by the tablespoonful. Use your fingers to mix until crumbs form. Alternate mixing and adding canola oil until oil is used and large crumbs have formed. Some of the mixture can still be sandy, but make sure you’ve got mostly large crumbs.

Make the cake:
In a large bowl, mix milk mixture, sugar, canola oil and vanilla. Sift (of course I didn’t sift because I’m lazy and sifters are for squares) in flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until smooth.

Pour batter into pan. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the batter and pat down just a bit.

The recipe says bake for 35 to 40 minutes, but honestly (can I be honest?) mine was ready at 30 minutes or even a bit earlier. The cake is done when you can insert a knife into the center and it comes out clean. Let cool for an hour before slicing and serving. Then you can sift the powdered sugar over top after it’s cooled—if you feel like it.

And there you have it! If anyone has made any of the variations, please tell us about it in the comments! OR MAIL CAKE TO MY HOUSE.

[photo by Megan Rascal! Recipe reprinted with permission from Isa!]

04/30/2009

recipe vs. recipe: chocolate cookies with peanut butter filling  »

Like most of you palate-less plebes, I love peanut butter and chocolate; I believe I’ve spoken before about how much I like peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies especially. Of course best are homemade cookies, and being a very selective egomaniac, I feel that my cookies are the best cookies, so ideally when I am eating a chocolate cookie with peanut butter filling, it is one I’ve baked myself.

Recently I* tried out such a recipe from Isa and Terry’s upcoming cookie cookbook, a  little confection they call "peanut butter pillows" (note: I’m not special, Isa posted it in the PPK blog). It looked tasty enough, and as lazy as I am (read: extremely), sometimes even I can’t resist making one little batch of cookies.

They reminded me a lot of another bake-in peanut butter and chocolate cookie I’d made before and loved, this one from Kittee at Cake Maker to the Stars. These were some amazing cookies, really satisfying for breakfast; and something about the salty peanut butter plus the bittersweet chocolate chips plus the sweet, buttery cookie created about the best flavor and texture combinations I’ve experienced in a cookie in some time. Dang.

You can see why I was excited to test this new, similar recipe; a person can’t have too many good cookie recipes, and anyway if this one was maybe a little less laborious, or (somehow) tastier, so much the better.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so swimmingly. These Isa-created pillows baked up fine, but neither their texture nor flavor was really any good. Mostly they needed a lot of salt, but more than that, the peanut butter filling was all wrong. It was all kinds of disappointing, eating these little bastards. Didn’t stop us from finishing the batch (not much could), but believe me, I didn’t enjoy the last three I ate at all, not one bite. Even in my favorite soy milk. MAN.

I figured out two major problems with the pillows right away, and I have theorized on further issues, but conclusions remain out of reach, what with not having had any desire to test those theories on a new batch.  Regardless, I can tell you what I know, which is first: they are seriously lacking salt. Isa’s recipe calls for 1/4 tsp., while Kittee’s calls for 1/2 tsp., plus she uses Earth Balance, which is itself salted. I think the most important thing I’ve learned about salt is that you use it to bring out all the other flavors in your food, rather than to make it taste like salt (when you taste “salt,” it’s over-salted). Without enough salt, Isa’s cookie dough was quite bland, while Kittee’s was strong enough to stand up to the peanut butter, which does tend to overwhelm.

The second problem begins with the preparation of the peanut butter filling: where Kittee combines 1/2 cup of peanut butter with 1/4 cup of brown sugar, Isa mixes 3/4 cup of peanut butter with 2/3 confectioner’s sugar, some soy creamer, and a little vanilla extract. Your peanut butter becomes oversweet, and it loses its good texture, turning all weirdly smooth and sticky. Kittee’s filling is sweeter, of course, but it most definitely retains its peanut buttery qualities.

This leads to the second part of the second problem, which is the ratio of peanut butter  to cookie dough. As you can see in the images provided, Kittee’s cookies are significantly larger than their filling, and even if you increase the amount of peanut butter with which you fill each cookie, like I did when making these glorious angel-foods, the balance of taste and texture between cookie and filling remains harmonious. Isa’s, on the other hand, have the opposite ratio: a whole lot of filling surrounded by a thinnish layer of cookie; this would be great, really, if the filling weren’t already ruined by all the powdered sugar and creamer. Instead of a big bite of PEANUT BUTTER and chocolate cookie crust, what you get is a mouthful of bland goo and sweetish, chocolate-ish cookie crust. It’s very unpleasant. As a final insult, the cookie then sits in your gut, like a pillow carved of stone, and takes roughly one week to digest.

When I make chocolate cookies with peanut butter filling again, I am without question using Kittee’s recipe. I can’t imagine wanting to try out those damn “pillows” another time, unless I’m out of options and feeling experimental. Otherwise, what is the point?

Note: I do not know, nor have I had any contact with, the authors of the reviewed recipes.

*All right, I say “I” did this stuff, but I did not really do it alone. Cooking’s always friendlier with two, after all, especially when it involves dough and filling. Part of my secret to good complicated baking is having good help.

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