Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dilly Dally~ Spring Break

In the middle of a continual string of immeasurable miscommunication
between my cousin's boyfriend and myself, a very obnoxious thing took
place. Or a few obnoxious things really.

First, he weed-wacked my newly planted squash/pumpkins. Actually, I
later realized that he pulled them up and weed-wacked around it.
??
I don't know either.

Second, I woke up to find my composter gone. Not the compost per se
but the wooden pallets that I had built around it to contain my
compost.

It turned out that he though the composter was my garden... and since
I was starting to plant elsewhere he took the initiative to get rid
of said pallets. Also he put of a large piece of wood in the spot
where I was planting, mainly in an effort to make it appear useful
so he didn't have to get rid of it.

After all this when down, I was zen kicking ass angry.
By noon, I had my prime garden space back, hopefully salvaged my
squash, and demanded my pallets returned. We'll see how soon
that happens. Its hard to explain the use of a composter to someone
who doesn't understand what decomposition is.

After that I built a little brick border to clearly delineate
where my garden is now. I planted some potatoes, beets, and an onion
that I sprouted. So much more to come!!




In the kitchen, I've been practicing different cakes for
Monkey-man's birthday coming up this weekend. So much to plan,
so much to cook!


Mocha Blackberry




I also made Orange-ginger and Orange Chocolate, but the pictures
were terrible. Both the orange ones were good, but the mocha
one was too dense and tasted like a muffin.

Finally for dinner I made a quick batch of soup and biscuits.
It just the Irish garlic soup I made for St. Patrick's Day,
but I added kale because I was craving some rich greens.

Back to testing!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring has Sprung, Ostara and Vegan Cadbury Cream Eggs!



I hope you all had a beautiful Ostara (spring equinox)!
As it was so mild and pretty out, I clean off our deck and we
ate out there for the first time ever! So nice, not to mention
I spent a nice morning getting some vitamin D (and prolly skin
cancer too).

I couldn't help but want to show you all the pretty salad
we had with dinner. The spring sun caught all the colours!


To celebrate the first day of spring I made my absolute-
all time favorite candy ever. This may sound strange, but
when other people were worrying over cheese when they went vegan...
I was worrying about Cadbury Eggs.

But I'm not one to let my junk food habits control my lifestyle.
Besides, I'd just have to make them myself. And I did.

Now these are pretty messy to make and look more like the
reeses peanut butter eggs than the nice round cadbury eggs.
But I am not gonna buy an egg shaped mold just for these.
I am considering buying a little heart shaped one though and
that way I can use it for other things. But for now they are
a little flat.

I veganized and halved the original recipe because I didn't
want 2 dozen Cadbury eggs sitting around the house, beggin to
be eaten. Thats just dangerous.

Vegan Cadbury Cream Eggs



Ingredients

1/4 cup a sugar syrup, corn, brown rice, etc
3 tablespoons earthbalance
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups of vegan powdered sugar, sifted
dash of salt
food coloring
1/2 a bag of semi sweet or dark vegan chocolate chips

Mix together the sugar syrup, 2 tbsp earthbalance, extract,
and salt. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat well.

Pull out a quarter of the fondant and add a few drops of
natural yellow food coloring*.


Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until very firm.
You can also freeze it if you are an impatient ninja.

Next, you have to work quickly, as the warmth of your hands
will melt the fondant and make it sticky.

Dampen your hands (very lightly) and scoop a rounded teaspoon
of yellow into a flat tbsp of white. Encase the yellow in the
white fondant, wrapping it in a layer twice as thick.

(I need to emphasize again, that this is very messy and can
get frustrating)

Place on a greased plate or pan. If the fondant is at all warm
it will still stick despite the oil, so don't worry- its not you.
Try and get them as egg shaped as you can. A couple of mine were
very circular and funky.


Freeze or chill for at least four more hours.
Right before that time is up and your fillings are almost
completely hard, start on your chocolate.

Melt it with a tablespoon of earthbalance over low heat.
You can either drop your eggs in and roll them in one at a time
or skewer them on a kabab to coat them. Since the chocolate is
warm you will have to again, work quickly.


Once they've been coated, chill again, coat once more, chill
and then!!! The moment we've all been waiting for-- NOM nom nom!




*Here are some links if you want to look into natural, vegan,
vegetable, non-cancer causing food colouring.

Indian Tree Natural Food Colourings
Sustainablog's listings of vegan food colouring
Nature's Flavors Organic Food Colouring

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Grilled Potato Cakes


In the midst of piles of papers, counting up grades and cramming
I got in a wee bit of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
My Monkey-man came over the night before to surprise me, but
I think I surprised him more with the yummy garlic soup.

We watched some Black Books and celebrated being Irish with Dylan
Moran. It was weird being home on St. Patrick's Day though.
I've always thrown parties, wandering around all night telling
Irish jokes with an accent til I went hoarse.

This morning we slept in late and I used the last of my potatoes
to make some grilled potato cakes and washed it down with Irish
breakfast tea.

These are different from your typical hashbrown-ish dinner cakes
and very different from the baked ones I made the other night.
These are smooth and simple, topped with earthbalance and agave-
perfect for a nice, quiet Irish breakfast.

Grilled Breakfast Potato Cakes

Ingredients

3 potatoes, peeled-chopped-boiled
2 tablespoons of earthbalance
2/3-1 cup whole wheat flour
salt

Drain the potatoes, reserving a little bit of water. Mash with
the earthbalance. Add a little bit of water to make sure the
potatoes are not dry. Salt and add the flour.

The flour should equal to about 1/3 the amount of potatoes you
have. Mix gently and flatten out on to your counter.
Cut into triangles and grill on a dry non-stick skillet.



Grill until golden and flip.
Serve with dark agave and a pat of earthbalance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Patrick's Day: Irish Garlic Soup

Unfortunately I am behind a day. School is coming to a close
and trying to take my sanity with it. So when I got home last night,
I had such a headache I went to bed without dinner.



But today I was so caught up with the beautiful day -- how
could I not be in the mood to cook? So after I made some
cookies for my cousin, I started dinner for the Monkey-man
and myself. It was just what we wanted. Warm, rich, and filling.

This is such rejuvenating soup. If I was under the weather,
I'd take it over miso any day. The traditional recipe calls
for egg yolks added at the end to thicken it up and add another
layer of richness (fat).

I got that thickness by just adding a tablespoon of arrowroot
to a little bit of soymilk and adding it at the end.

I served it over sliced, toasted bagels- like croutons. Yum!

Irish Garlic Soup



Ingredients

12 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons of earthbalance
2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 cup soymilk
1 tablespoon soy sauce/braggs

Melt the earthbalance over low heat, adding the garlic and
onion. Cook on low-low for about 20 minutes. Add the flour,
turning up the heat to cook the flour for a few minutes
into a roux.

Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and broth and cook for another
30 minutes. Finally add the arrowroot powder to the soymilk
and pour into the soup slowly. Season with a little bit of
salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 more minutes.

Serve over croutons.



(Tomorrow is St. Patricks! Pull out that green tonight~)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Colcannon



Colcannon is a traditional dish served on St. Patrick's Day for
the lovely green and white, but more commonly around Old Hallows
Eve. A ring would be hidden in the dish and the lucky lady
(or not so lucky if you bit it) that found it was bound to marry
in the spring.

The traditional recipe uses a lot of fat, I cut it down and added
a bit of nondairy milk to retain the creaminess.

It can be made with curly kale or cabbage, I used regular cabbage
and purple cabbage to make it even more beautiful!

Colcannon

Ingredients

about 4 potatoes, ready to boil
1/2 cup regular cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/4 onions
1/4 cup earthbalance
a couple green onions, diced
1/4 cup soymilk
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

While your potatoes are boiling, saute your green cabbage,
garlic, and onions together just until tender. After saute
the purple cabbage, so as not to dye the others.

Alternately, you can saute just the onions and garlic and
set aside (or omit) and blanch the cabbage in your hot
potato water after pulling the potatoes out.

Anyway, after the potatoes are cooked place them in a dish
and mash the butter in, adding just enough nondairy milk
to make it creamy.

Mix in your cabbages (and onions if using) and season with
salt and pepper. I topped my with green onions and stuck
it the the over for just a few minutes, partly to keep it
hot while I was cooking other things and partly to give it
just a little be of a different texture on the top.

I love the way that the purple cabbage dyed just a wee bit
of the surrounding potatoes, they looked like puffy little
clouds...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Baked Potato Cakes


These have been on my list for a long time and it was so worth the
wait. In famine food you find nearly everything has potatoes in it,
and potato cakes are pretty common, but I definitely prefer the
baked version. I really forgot how wonderful these were.

You can serve them with practically anything and are a great swap
for your average biscuits. In fact, I believe I'll serve these this
year at Thanksgiving instead of dinner rolls.

These guys are light and fuffy and just a little bit flakey.
The potato makes them airy and soft. Normally these are made with
chives, but I use green onion to add more flavour.

Only three days til St. Patrick's Day!! Aren't you excited!?

Me Baked Potato Cakes

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup earthbalance
1 cup soymilk, soured with a tsp of vinegar or lemon juice
1 green onion, minced
1 cup (still hot) Fresh mashed potato

While your potatoes are boiling and your soymilk is souring...
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, cutting in the earth-
balance to form little pea sized balls (as you would with biscuits
or pie crust). Add the wet ingredients (potato included), then
the onion, just until mixed. Don't over mix it or it will become
tough.

Turn out on to a floured surface and fold it a couple times,
just to add some layers. Pat out into about 3/4 inch thickness.
Cut into squares and place on a lightly oiled baking pan.



Bake for about 20 minutes at 425, until the look golden around
the edges. I dare you to not eat these all straight out of the
oven.

Friday, March 12, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Irish Boxty



It was a while back that I made potato cakes that bordered on
hashbrowns. The potatoes were shredded with onions and seasoned.
Although good, not traditional like Irish Boxty where the potatoes
are blended before cooking.

The supposedly became a staple during the famine when food had to
be stretched. I like to think of them as something more decadent
though, like Irish Crepe! They're rolled with hot savory filling
and gulped down!


Our were filled with cooked cabbage in a mustard sauce with tofu
bacon, grilled to a crisp. (The Irish love their bacon, tofu for me!)
Here is the original post on tofu bacon marinade, I add
paprika and garlic powder now when I have it and cut out all but
1 tablespoon of the soy sauce or use braggs.

Irish Boxty~ Potato Crepes

Ingredients
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup soymilk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Blend your potatoes, adding soymilk if you want to make it easier
on your blender. Add the flour and salt and mix well. You can
adjust these depending on how thick you want your boxty to be.
I like my thin thin, so hopefully you can go from there.

Heat a teaspoon of earthbalance on a skillet at medium to high
heat. Pour about a quarter cup into the skillet, swiveling it
side to side to make sure it spreads evenly and round.


Once it starts to brown just around the edges, you can flip it.
You might have to free it a little, so as not to tear.
After the first, depending on your pan, you may not have to
reoil. To keep them warm, put them on an heat safe plate in the
oven.


Roll up with whatever fillings you like and enjoy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Brown Soda Scones

When you want a truly fat free, simple dish- stop trying to add
all sorts substitutes and look to traditional peasant foods.
Not every person/culture had the luxury copious amounts of fats or
cheeses or animals to kill... or much else besides potatoes...
That is why I love looking at traditional peasant foods. They possess
a simplicity and wholesome goodness, using rock-bottom items in
fabulous ways. So, if you are craving some biscuits or scones, but want
something a bit healthier... look no further.

I used all whole wheat flour, but you can split it with all-purpose
if you want something a bit lighter. But these take no butter and
have all the puffed up goodness of a scone. You could easily add
a tablespoon or two of sugar to make them sweet or keep them
straight for a savory meal. (Please note that they are not buttery
and flaky like a southern biscuit, ok?)

You can top these with a little vegan cheese if you like or
have them for breakfast like me with some earthbalance and agave.

Brown Irish Soda Scones


Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of soymilk (soured with 1/2 tsp vinegar and set for 15 mins)

Firstly, sour your soymilk...


Sift together dry ingredients, making a little bowl in the
center to add the soymilk to. Do not over mix or they won't fall
in the oven. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface
and press out into a 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut into 8 scones with a small cutter (I used a small drinking
glass). Place on an oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little
soymilk to give it a glaze.


Bake for 12-15 minutes at 425F until nice and risen.



I must note that these are rather heavy and filling.
Also, they are absolutely best eaten fresh or reheated
in an oven with a little pan of water to soften them up
because I can only imagine how dense they may get if you
let them go and get stale.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

7 Days of Irish Luck, St. Paddy's Day: Baked Vegan Courgettes

Frankly anything Irish is big in my family. It is really the only
ethnic tradition we hold on to... and its passed on pretty well.
I love making traditional Irish dishes and my Brother loves
drinking beer! Hee hee, its true! (But believe it or not, Irish
wine is a rising foodie's heart-throb).

You may not have realized it yet, but next week is Saint Patrick's
Day and although my pagan spirit may not agree with the
accompanying connotations of the holiday's origins-- I can never
turn down a reason to celebrate life. 

To celebrate I'll be posting a series of traditional Irish dishes
everyday until Saint Patrick's Day and then finally break down and
have a bottle of Irish Stout or whiskey while I'm writing my
final paper for this quarter. So lets all hope that I get my work
done early and be celebrating finishing that instead.

To kick start the Irish in all of us, here is a great snack for
anytime of day. I'd have it for breakfast, but I also like it when
I get home late from class and don't want a whole meal.

Baked Farmhouse Courgettes (Zucchini)



Cut however many courgettes/zucchini you plan to make in
half. Place in a glass baking dish and sprinkle on a thin
line of nutritional yeast. I did this to pump up the
nutritional content a little and add a sharper flavor to
the vegan cheese.



Sprinkle with whatever vegan cheese you're using. I used
daiya here, but use what you like. I'd like to try this
with the follow my heart cheddar. Add a few little dots or
pats of earthbalance and place under the broiler.



Cook until cheese starts to bubble and turn golden and
the zucchini looks tender (about 15-20 mintues).



Monkey-man and Pandamonium waiting for their snack...



Sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can eat it as a side dish
or serve it on top of buttered/earthbalanced toast like we did...


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easy Soup: ABCs & Vegan Candy Bars to the stars



Busy with school the past week I've needed fast, quick fix foods
for dinner. But no crap that was gonna make me crash or leave me
hungry and coked out on fats.

I think soup has got to be one of the easiest things to cook.
They can be made fast or slow, you can put whatever you want in
them, and even if its going badly they are so easy to fix or
change into something amazing.

I found some cute alphabet pasta last week so I decided to make
a tofu noodle soup. Its a pretty straight forward list of ingredients...

1/2 onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup cabbage
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 block tofu
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 white basil
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz of small pasta

Just saute your onions and garlic in a little bit of water
over medium heat until translucent and fragrant. I used
vegetable bouillon cubes and thin them out with water, so
whatever you choose is fine. Add the vegetables next adding
the water/broth slowly. Add your basil and let simmer until
your veg is getting tender. Add your pasta ensuring that
there is enough water or broth to be absorbed without leaving
your soup like stew. Once your pasta starts to cook, add the
tofu (extra firm) cut into cubes and continue to cook until
your pasta is al dente and tofu is warm through.

Add the salt and pepper to taste.
I had mine with a slice of toasted wheat sourdough from TJs.
(AHH, I'm so hungry right now!!!)

Over the weekend I hung out at Monkey Man's and we hit up the
whole foods in Pasadena where we picked up our second vegan
candy bar from Go Max Go Foods.
The first we had was the Jokers bar, which I guess is like a
snickers and was pretty darn tasty, but this is the one I was
really dying to try.



The Twilight bar is pure Milky Way Goodness. Its like getting
a vegan shot of heroin. Sorry, I don't know why I'm doing all
these comparisons with drugs today. But it was good.
Only difference that you can taste is a little bit of the rice
flavor from the rice milk in the chocolate. It comes across as
coconut at first, but its real subtle.

Sorry the pictures are kinda bad, they were taken in a dark car.



Perfect chocolate, smooth caramel, and oh so fluffy... stuff.
Nougat? I don't know! Its fuffy! And its GOOD!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Unidentified Filled Object: Vegan Ravioli



The idea of making your own pasta does appear to be very daunting.
I'm hear to tell you not to fear, fresh delicious, egg-free pasta
very near. You don't need a pasta roller or a ravioli cutter to
make awesome ravioli. Although, if you have them on hand it would
cut your prep time in half at least.

I find it strange that the majority of pasta you buy is egg-free,
but 98% of pasta recipes you find call for at least two eggs.

I'm now at the stage of experimenting with different flours and
colours with spinach and tomato, but this you will find is a
great place to start with either unbleached all-purpose dough
or semolina flour.

Basic Basic Vegan Pasta Dough

1 cup flour
1/4-1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Slowly incorporate the water into the flour by adding only a 1/4
of a cup at first. Only add a few drops at a time after that
as you go or else you dough will get sticky fast. What you want
is a nice dense brick. It may seem too dry, but just keep working
it before adding more water.

I keep a bowl of water on hand though to seal any cracks that
may occur later.

After mixing everything together, knead for about 5 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes and knead and rest again. Its easy to get
frustrated if making the dough by hand, but all that you need to
do is be sure to let your dough rest often. Allowing your dough
to rest will allow the gluten to relax and activate, yielding
a smooth texture.

On a very lightly floured surface begin to roll out your dough.
Whenever it seems like its getting too tough, just let it rest
a moment and try again. I don't know exactly what thickness to
say you should roll it out too, but I would say that of a
regular piece of denim if you were to hold it between your
fingers.

Plop your prepared filling onto the dough and wet the dough
with your fingers around the area so it will seal when the top
layer is pressed down. The filling should be spaced about
and inch apart on half the the rolled-out dough. With a
sharp knife cut off half of the dough and place it over the side
with the filling. Press down and cut out the squares.

For some reason I had a bizarre compulsion to make them round,
so I used a glass to trace the size and ended up sealing
them one at a time.

By the time you're pressing the edges individually, it may start
to dry out. So, you may have to gently wipe it with damp fingers
to continue sealing them or shaping if you are making plain pasta.
Drop the ravioli into boiling water and cook until al dente,
anywhere from 3-7 minutes. They will start to look soft and
slightly more translucent.





Here is my little tester...


Then the whole shabang....


Topped with a cheesy sauce next to a nice salad...


Pumpkin and sage...


Red pepper and tofu ricotta!


You can also save these and freeze before the boiling stage
for later. And you can fill them with practically anything-
I'm already thinking of a four vegan cheese ravioli!