Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vegan Month of Food: Amélie Edition

I moved to Portland on May 1st of this year - just four months ago.

Shortly thereafter, I began an intensive baking and pastry arts program at Oregon Culinary Institute. I will begin working at a vegan bakery, Petunia's Pies and Pastries, in just a few weeks.

Thus the lack of blogging.

However! Vegan Month of Food is genuinely my favorite time of the year. I mean, I love the holiday season for all its merriment and overkill of baked goods, but there's something about VeganMoFo excitement within the blogosphere that makes me feel especially content. I also have the privilege of participating from Portland - a vegan Mecca! So, y'know, I'm back to blogging for the entire month of September (and beyond! least that's the plan).

For 2014 I thought I'd enlist the magical and heartfelt French film Amélie  to be my muse (yes, it's currently on Netflix instant watch). Future posts will include: raspberry ladyfingers, crème brûlée, crêpes, Amélie's famous plum cake, artichoke hearts, endives, beans, figs, cognac, a chocolate showpiece, pastillage...and so much more.  I hope to be successful in my quest to veganize even the least vegan of all Amélie's featured foods - I'm lookin' at you, chicken oysters!

See you on Monday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recipe for Single Layer Whole Wheat Spiced Carrot Cake with Lemon-Rosemary Buttercream (Vegan Easter 2014)

Vegan Carrot Cake with Lemon-Rosemary Buttercream
Gluten-Free Corn Jonnycakes with agave nectar and fresh strawberries
Eggplant Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream, baked in a toaster oven because the 'real' oven was occupied.
I hope your Easter Sunday was absolutely delicious (mine certainly was). I spoiled myself with johnnycakes and strawberries for breakfast (think gluten-free cornbread pancakes, Post Punk Kitchen recipe), a nutritious green salad and eggplant-potato-zucchini moussaka for dinner (the pine nut cream was wonderfully rich and, to my surprise, tasted quite like ricotta cheese - also a PPK recipe), and a bright and satisfying slice of moist whole wheat spiced carrot cake with lemon-rosemary buttercream for dessert! My tastebuds were very happy.

The following cake recipe is something I am quite proud of; the cake itself has just the right amount of spice and is perfectly complemented by tangy lemon zest and subtle rosemary leaves in the frosting. I also love the way the buttercream looks - a pale yellow with soft green rosemary peeking through, quite perfect for an Easter dessert (especially with carrots inside the cake!). Plus, just to make you feel a little bit better about your sugar intake, this cake is made with whole wheat pastry flour - my favorite ingredient to use in baking.

This cake is absolutely scrumptious, I promise you. The recipe could easily be doubled to make a double layer cake if you have twice as many guests to entertain (or if you just want more cake).

Naked Vegan Carrot Cake
Single Layer Spiced Carrot Cake with Lemon-Rosemary Buttercream :: Serves 8

For the cake:
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk

For the buttercream:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance)
  • 2 tsp coursely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
  • 1-2 tsp nondairy milk or lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9"-10" circular cake pan or springform pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flaxseed meal and water with a strong fork for about a minute until the mixture becomes thick. Combine with oil, applesauce, carrot, walnuts, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Make sure the dry ingredients are well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry, mix slightly, then add nondairy milk. Stir ingredients together until nicely incorporated but not overmixed.

Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until nicely browned (the cake will be darker than vanilla cakes thanks to the whole wheat flour and spices). Let the cake set in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then either invert the cake or simply remove the springform ring - use a knife around the edges if necessary. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the buttercream: beat together shortening, margarine, rosemary, lemon zest, and vanilla with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until thoroughly mixed. Buttercream should be smooth and somewhat fluffy. Add 1-2 tsp of nondairy milk as necessary if your frosting seems too thick. Either spread frosting over a cooled cake or refrigerate until ready to use. Garnish cake with more fresh rosemary as desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekly Vegan Eats + Recipe for Bright Blueberry Banana Bites

Stir-fry noodles! Eggplant, extra firm tofu, green onion, orange bell pepper,
carrots, cabbage, purple corn and rice noodles, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar,
and crushed red pepper flakes.
A very simple and healthy snack: bright blueberry banana bites.
Some groceries: seasonal strawberries, Silk unsweetened organic soymilk,
Sabra roasted pine nut hummus, and discounted coconut chocolate chip Clif bars.
Raw veggies (zucchini, red bell pepper, carrots, celery)
for dipping in pine nut hummus.
Whole wheat zucchini muffin topped with roasted almonds.
Breakfast of champions! Whole wheat strawberry waffle,
via the 'Sinfully Wholesome Waffles' recipe in Isa Does It.
I know, the alliteration is a little much, but I'm full of endorphins from walking around in the beautiful spring sun. These 'bites' are a great light afternoon snack - perfect for sharing with a friend or two and dipping in your favorite yogurt.

Bright Blueberry Banana Bites :: Makes 12 bites
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp lemon zest 
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mash banana very well with a strong fork. Mix with oats, cinnamon, and lemon zest until combined. Fold in blueberries.

Scoop the mixture onto your baking sheet using a tablespoon to measure each portion. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the undersides of the bites are golden brown. These are best served warm (a few minutes after you take them out of the oven) and best eaten the day you make them.

P.S. Sometimes I think I've been converted from a 'cat person' to a 'dog person'...but really I'm just an 'animal person'. Anyway, this week I enjoyed watching these two have some quality playtime together:

My Padfoot.
Penny! My brother's hound.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekly Vegan Eats

Rustic strawberry hand pies; sticky strawberry juice spilling out everywhere!
Recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky.
Great with a tall glass of almond milk.
Strawberries and cream bread pudding!
Recipe from Isa Does It.
Silk vanilla cultured soymilk (yogurt) with homemade toasted coconut pecan granola.
I used 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut in place of the puffed rice cereal, reduced
the agave nectar to 1/4 cup (4 tbsp),  replaced almonds with pecans, used 1/2 tsp
almond extract + 1/2 tsp lemon extract in place of vanilla, and omitted the raisins. 
St. Patty’s Day Dinner 2014: Irish soda bread (recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking), cornmeal-crusted tempeh
(recipe from The Vegan Table), garlic red and russet mashed potatoes with parsley, roasted cabbage and carrots.
On St. Patrick's Day, I went out to bars in downtown Fullerton with Erika and Keith :]

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vegan King Cake, Californian Soyrizo Red Beans and Rice

I know I'm over a week late, but here's my 1st vegan king cake! I utilized Kittee’s recipe for the dough and icing, using a tub of Silk blueberry cultured soymilk as my yogurt. You can really taste the orange zest in the cake! For my filling I combined brown sugar, cinnamon, margarine, and chopped mixed nuts (cashews, macadamias, and almonds). I made my own sprinkles using white sugar and food coloring - which is why my purple came out as a dark lavender. I also added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the icing for that extra kick. So good!

For dinner I created Californian Soyrizo Red Beans and Rice (my own invention). Roasted sweet potato, brown rice, red onion, garlic, green bell pepper, soy chorizo, kidney beans, dried thyme, and some frozen green peas. Bright and spicy! Great with some avocado or guacamole on top. I also wouldn't hesitate to eat this in a tortilla...

I hope your Fat Tuesday 2014 was stupendous!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mardi Gras Recipe Round-Up! (or Potential Menu Options for Fat Tuesday)


I won't pretend to be very familiar with Cajun, Creole, or traditional southern cuisine - I'm not. I'm 100% Californian, raised largely on Mexican food, garden tomatoes, and In N Out Burger. Back in late January I visited the south for the first time and explored food in a different way; I realized how veg-friendly California truly is and how incredibly challenging eating out can be for southern vegans and vegetarians. That being said, I also ate a bowl of amazing red beans and rice in New Orleans and beignets from Cafe Du Monde (totally not  vegan, but a French Market coffee stand with powdered sugar everywhere?!  As a future pastry school student, how could I resist taking that sweet bite out of American history??). 

I have very fond memories of my time in Louisiana, so I thought I'd celebrate Mardi Gras by sharing some Fat Tuesday and American South inspired dishes. This year's Fat Tuesday is approaching quickly (March 4th), so why not take the time to make your first pot of vegan gumbo or bake one of Kittee's king cakes?

Red Beans & Rice
Black Eyed Peas
Other Good Stuff

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meaty Beany Chili & Corn Muffins - PPK Recipe Review

"Isa, the master of vegan cooking (and jalapeno butchering with a leopard print pairing knife) will show you how to defend your honor at your next pot luck dinner. No longer do you have to be the odd one with the vegan dish. Proudly stand behind this fabulous vegan chili and corn muffins. Perfect for every event, from Super Bowl to Puppy Bowl." (Source.)
Back in October, only a few days before the release of her 8th vegan cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz posted the above video and recipe on her Post Punk Kitchen blog. I watched the video, fawned over my favorite vegan chef, and longed for her new cookbook.

A few weeks later, I poured over the beautiful hardcover of Isa Does It at my local Barnes & Noble and decided to buy it for my best friend as a holiday gift. Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend bought me a copy for my 25th birthday. I've already made several of the recipes, some of which were posted on the PPK blog months before, and Isa doesn't disappoint. To be absolutely truthful (and somewhat reluctant for fear of sounding obsessive), it's my favorite cookbook. The photos are gorgeous, the commentary is wonderful, and the recipes are deliciously unfailing - and I will probably buy it as a gift for several more people in the future.

My boyfriend's father is a very kind man, which is why I decided some time ago that I wanted to cook him dinner; I wanted him to come home from a day spent working at his hearing aid center to a tasty, satisfying, healthy, home-cooked meal. I asked my partner something along the lines of, "What's your Dad's favorite food to have for dinner?" After a slight pause, he replied, "Probably chili." My mind instantly recalled Isa's Meaty Beany Chili & Corn Muffins and I knew what we would be eating.

I've cooked up many a big pot o' chili over the last handful of years and there are a few things that set this recipe apart... For one, the use of lentils. Excellent. Then there's the perfect blend of chili powder, cumin, oregano, and ground cloves. Great. What really tips the scales, however, are the additions of lime juice and maple syrup at the very end. The resulting chili has the ideal amount of heat, a very slight sweetness, and an enticing depth of flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

The corn muffins were a wonderfully toothsome accompaniment; the recipe was also very simple. I made a few substitutions for the muffin batter but nothing that would change the overall taste very much - I swapped 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to be a touch more healthful and I used melted margarine in place of the coconut oil because I didn't have coconut oil on hand. Also, in the chili, I used a red bell pepper instead of green and a can of diced tomatoes in place of crushed.

Overall, my partner and his father (both omnivores) seemed to really enjoy the meal - I absolutely loved it. This will definitely become one of my go-to dinners when entertaining meat-eaters and veg*ns alike. Hearty - familiar, yet intriguing - and ultimately gratifying.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Birthday Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

My Padfoot when she was just a baby...
...a few months later...
...and today, her 1st birthday.

Less than a year ago, I received a picture text from my Dad of the sweetest black puppy - and I couldn't get to her fast enough. Before I even met her I knew I wanted to spoil her and go on silly adventures - and that's exactly what we've done. 

I give her a warm bath once a week. She sleeps on my bed when my boyfriend isn't around (she's a great cuddler). I taught her how to play frisbee. She goes on a walk nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. She loves every other dog she meets and wants nothing more than to play with them. She's afraid of the vacuum, garbage bags, and water hoses. Her favorite hobbies include looking out windows, sunbathing, swimming, chewing, leaping over things, getting in the way of whatever you're up to, and running free in the desert.

It's hard to believe that she's already a year old, but at the same time, it's more difficult to imagine life before having her around. Even though she has bitten up many a household item in her puppyhood (reading glasses, cell phone chargers, pillows, rugs...), I wouldn't trade one second of our time together. She even destroyed her birthday present this morning (a harness for our walks) and I literally can't be mad (only mildly annoyed). My Paddycakes is an incredibly energetic, friendly, funny, loving animal companion - so I made her these sweet potato and peanut butter dog treats in celebration of all that.

Note :: When it comes to dogs, not all 'human' foods are created equal! I made sure all of my ingredients were dog-friendly and included some links with information about the benefits of each ingredient.

Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Dog Treats :: Makes 1 dozen
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, applesauce, and nut butter. Fold in 1 cup of the flour until thoroughly mixed. Add the last ½ cup of flour, the oats, and the cinnamon and combine well. You should have a soft, pliable dough.

With a rolling pin (or something that can be used as one), roll your dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut out desired shapes. Knead and roll out your 'excess' dough as many times as you need to in order to use it all up. Evenly space your treats on the baking sheet - but don't worry about the treats bleeding into one another because they hardly spread, only puff up a tiny bit. Bake for 20-30 minutes, based on the size of your treats and desired firmness (I baked mine for 20 minutes and they seem pretty chewy). Allow the treats to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a plate or wire rack; let them cool completely before offering one to your furry friend! These should last for about a week in a tightly sealed container.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Wondrous Vegan Microwave Muffin

Vegan Microwave Muffin goodness.

So easy. So versatile. So satisfying. I really wish I would have implemented single-serving 'baked' goods into my life when I was still at UC Santa Cruz; I feel like my quick meals before class and during late night homework sessions would have been that much more satisfying had I the perfect warm and comforting snack to nosh on... Alas, here I am now, over a year and a half after graduation, celebrating the fact that - between brewing a pot of coffee and reading about unsafe foods for dogs - I can enjoy a simple blueberry muffin that took me less than ten minutes to make from start to finish. Wonderful.

What I like about this recipe is that it truly is a blank canvas with a plethora of possible combinations. Just use whatever happens to be in your kitchen, get creative, and savor the results!

Edit/Notes : If you use all oats, your muffin will come out tasting like über delicious oatmeal and not really like a muffin. If you have sweet mix-ins, you may want to omit or reduce the amount of sweetener used.

Notice the heat fogging up the camera lens...

The Wondrous Vegan Microwave Muffin :: Serves 1

You'll need:
  • 1 mug, ramekin, or small bowl
  • 1 tbsp nondairy milk of choice (add a little more by the teaspoon if your batter seems too thick)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract or both
  • 1 tbsp canola oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, well-mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce, nut butter, sweet potato purée, or pumpkin purée
  • 1 tbsp white sugar, brown sugar, liquid sweetener (agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.), or a packet of sugar substitute
  • 3 tbsp flour (white, whole wheat, gluten-free, spelt) or 3 tbsp rolled oats or a combination
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Healthy pinch of salt
  • About 2 tbsp mix-ins of choice: raisins, chopped nuts, finely shredded carrot, berries (fresh or frozen), chopped apples, chopped peaches, chocolate chips or chunks, shredded coconut, carob chips, grated zucchini, etc.
  • Optional additions: 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, dash of ground cinnamon, dash of ginger, dash of pumpkin spice, poppy seeds, lavender, pinch of lemon zest, orange zest...
In your mug or ramekin, mix together your wet ingredients - milk, extract(s), oil or oil replacer, and sweetener. Add your dry ingredients and combine well - flour and/or oats, baking powder, and salt. Fold in your mix-ins and optional additions. Microwave for a minute and check to see if your muffin appears done. You should know when it is ready when the muffin begins to peel away from the sides of the mug. Microwaves vary, so you may want to cook it a little more in increments of 15-30 seconds. My muffin took 1 minute 45 seconds in the microwave.

I used unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, unsweetened applesauce,
maple syrup, 2 tbsp whole wheat flour + 1 tbsp rolled oats, frozen blueberries,
1 tsp lemon juice, and a touch of cinnamon. 

I could meditate on different combinations all day long, but here are some muffin variations that quickly came to mind:
  • Oatmeal Raisin : 1 tbsp flour + 2 tbsp rolled oats, raisins, additional cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • Banana Nut : well-mashed banana, chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Carrot Cake : finely shredded carrot, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, maybe a little powdered sugar on top
  • Peanut Butter Cup : peanut butter, chocolate chips or chunks
  • German Chocolate Cake : coconut oil, chopped pecans, shredded coconut, chocolate chips or chunks, cocoa powder
  • Almond Joy : almond milk, almond extract, almond butter, chocolate chips or chunks, chopped almonds, shredded coconut
  • Classic Blueberry : canola oil or coconut oil, white sugar, flour, blueberries, lemon zest
  • Banana Split : mashed banana, chopped nuts, chopped cherries, chocolate chips or chunks
  • Apple Brown Betty : applesauce, brown sugar, chopped apples, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly : peanut butter, sliced strawberries or Thomcord grapes
  • Dirty Hippie : hemp milk, coconut oil, agave nectar or brown rice syrup, gluten-free or spelt flour, grated carrot, grated zucchini, cinnamon, ginger, ground flax, sunflower seeds on top
  • November Morning : sweet potato or pumpkin purée, maple syrup, cranberries or dried cranberries, chopped pecans, pumpkin pie spice, orange zest

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day: Part 3

Champagne for two: redneck wine glass for her, Guinness pint for him.
So fancy, right?

Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu, made with organic brown rice spaghetti.
Recipe from Isa Does It.

A warm Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffin split in two,
accompanied by Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Vanilla ice cream
and cherries warmed up in a saucepan with a shot of amaretto. 

I hope your V-day was just as tasty as mine! I decided to make Isa's Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu for dinner partially because of all the preparation I could complete in advance; I wanted to be able to stay mostly out of the kitchen that night and have my options open for any impromptu plans that may have popped up. I blended the oil-free pesto, butchered the cauliflower, and threw together the breadcrumbs for the tofu breading during the day and basically just assembled everything when dinnertime began rolling around (that tofu is seriously SO GOOD). I also baked our chocolate-y dessert in advance and warmed it up a little when we were ready for some sweetness so the chocolate chunks could be nice and melt-y. The 'cherries on top' of the Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffin and soy vanilla ice cream is simply 1 cup of thawed frozen pitted cherries and a shot of amaretto, heated on the stove top until the desired temperature was reached (unfortunately it isn't cherry season, otherwise I would have used fresh). My beau and I were still pretty full from dinner so we ended up sharing the above dessert instead of each having our own...tres romantique, no?