Monday, June 28, 2010

Daiya Deluge

Monkey-man wanted me to post our recent winnings that has raked in
5lbs of Daiya and a copy of Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook.
I dig this cookbook. I would rank it among those best for high end
entertaining or creating a truly impressive meal for special occasions.
Not that it is all hoity toity recipes, but many are quite rich and not
for light eating. Its amazing just for the photos. His training and
experience really shine through. It is what professional cooking should
be. It separates the home-cooks and the real chefs.

I avoid most of the vegan cookbooks out there, but lots of (I'm sure
your favorite authors) the more popular vegan 'chefs'. I avoid them
for mainly two reasons... 1. anyone can think up a recipe like this
and don't need a book to tell me that or 2. the author(s) have no
training and no palate. I've gone through a lot of vegan cookbooks and
used their recipes straight off the page and cannot imagine what they
smoking that made that taste good? Ok, I better stop there or I will go
on a never ending rant! Sorry guys.

The contest we won was for our pizza photo, that you can see here.
It is also what sparked my recent Pizza Pizzaz Series.
We froze most of the cheese and I'll be taking some back with me on
my summer adventures. But we don't eat alot of cheese, so I think it
should last a good while. Imagine my excitement when a cooler arrived
from Canada filled with vegan cheese!

If you haven't had daiya, I strongly suggest you try get some.
If you had it once and didn't like it, try it again in a different form.
Honestly, (sorry daiyafoods) I didn't like it the first time I tried it.
But neither did I like the follow my heart cheese. I may have been
stuck in the dairy cheese mentality and that was all I was expecting.

I really think this holds way too many people back from being vegan.
They push away vegan products because they don't taste identical to
the cow titty based products. You have to be open minded and enjoy
everything for itself, not for what you want it to be.

I compare it to an experience I had as a kid. I was playing in my
room with a friend (probably around 10yrs old) and my Mom calls me
into the kitchen, asking if I want some candy. Hellz yes, I wants
candy. So she offers me some 'chocolate covered raisins', which in
fact turn out to be chocolate covered espresso beans. Not cool Mom.

Now I love coffee, at points in my life I've loved coffee too much.
And I may have liked it then if I had not been expecting a raisin.
Basically we set our minds up to want a specific experience, flavor
or texture and that in turn shoots us in the foot when the experience
at hand does not match our expectations. It may even be better than
what you had wanted but its not identical and that is what puts
us off.

We first had daiya at Z Pizza. It was too much. Too oily and too wet.
So we avoided it for a bit and then had it again at Purgatory Pizza.
Our minds were quickly changed. You just need to know how to use it.
Don't let one bad meal change how you feel about a food.


On that note... I'll still be here, still posting away. But I'll
be leaving LA for about a month and going up to stay with family in
the mountains and write my cookbook. I'm already planning some
more series to focus on, as well as filling those requests that have
been sent out to me. (Shall I call them requests or challenges?)

I may come back down for a weekend to beach bum it up or hit up
some Knott's Berry Farm, but other than that... consider me exiled!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mexican Roasted Taters

I looove me some roasted potatoes. Any seasonings... My favorite has
to be rosemary and sage. But these mexican seasoned potatoes were
pretty darn good too.

We had some left-over taco filling and beans from the tamales I made
the night before and we didn't want get overloaded with corn tortillas
or fattened up with chips.

You roast them at 450F, tossed in a little bit of olive oil with your
seasonings. Cook for about 10-15 minutes on one side and flip cooking
for about 5-8 minutes more. They get all crispy and soft in the middle.

I used some sea salt, chili powder, a wee bit of cayenne, pepper and
some lemon juice. We had some black beans, sweet corn, steamed
cauliflower, our taco mix, some sweet chillies and a nice salad.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberry-Beet Jam

I love experimenting with jellies and jams. Especially because it lets me
pack away a little bit of every season for the rest of the year.
I always make this crazy good pumpkin butter around thanksgiving and
a ginger jelly in the summer to have all year round.

Since I've been getting such great strawberries from a local vendor at
my farmers market I wanted to test out a jelly and if it came out well
I'd get a whole flat and do a big batch.

This is a simple recipe without pectin. I need to go and pick up some
more pectin because I don't like my jellies so sweet. This was pretty
darn good though. I've been spreading it on my toast, puttin' it on
my pancakes, even adding a spoon of the syrup to my cocktails...

Strawberry-Beet Jelly

3 cups strawberries, rinsed-hulled-halved
1 steamed beet, peel and sliced into super thin pieces
1 1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 inch chunk of raw ginger, grated

Combine all the ingredients in to a heavy saucepan over low heat.
After the sugar is dissolved and starts to cook, add your strawberries.
Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes. It
will show signs of thickening. You can drop into a small dish of ice
water and see if it gels or use a candy thermometer (220F).

Transfer to sterile jars, allowing for some headspace. Process if it
is to be shelved or cool and refrigerate if it is to be eaten soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Overwhelmed by Apricots

The apricot tree in my backyard has gone crazy! Last fall it was
majorly trimmed back, leaving only the larger of the main branches.
I always worry when they cut the trees that short and amazed when
they spring back into full bloom again. And full bloom is right.

This smaller tree of ours is covered in apricots. Thankfully they
are ripening in waves, so I can use them in a variety of ways.
I froze a whole pack last night, plan to make jelly today, and eat
them at almost every meal and snack. I really wish I had a dehydrator
so I could dry a bunch... I've been wanting to build a solar
dehydrator for a while, I think it may be time to get on that before
all the apricots disappear.

I love apricots, more than peaches or nectarines. They are so little and
cute! And super tasty if you get them from the farmers market. I
wouldn't trust super market apricots for a second. I've had too many
mealy, dry, tasteless apricots from super markets. Plus they are so
much more delicate than peaches and nectarines, they need extra care
to harvest.

Here is my apricot oatmeal... mixed in are some raisins, walnuts,
flax and a tad of brown sugar.

And our thin, rustic styled apricot pizza. It sports onions, garlic,
peppers, and apricots (obviously) all topped with some mixed daiya.

I was thinking of making apricot bread again or even apricot liqueur,
but I figured those are best for using dried apricots.

How do you best like apricots?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vegan Jello Shots

**NOTE** This post is intended for responsible adults of legal
drinking age. Please be sensible whenever consuming intoxicants.

I know I promised this a long long time ago and its taken me
nearly three months to post. I'm not sure why that is, but please
forgive me!

This takes carefully planning, a clever palate, and experience with
mixology certainly doesn't hurt. Its good to mix a little bit of
the flavors you chose beforehand to test the taste. Plus its
always fun to drink a little while you're experimenting.

I made these for Monkey-man's Bday party and went through about
three different versions. The first was too hard from too much
agar agar. The second version tasted like medicine. And the third?
Well, lets just say we had a good night.

As far as flavors go, I'd stay away from cherry and strawberry
vodkas because they will yield something reminiscent of cough syrup.
Don't use pineapple juice because it will not set because the high
acid content affects the jelling properties of the agar.

You of course can switch out different alcohols or juices.
I can't stomach rum for some reason, but many like it for it's milder
taste. You can also try some schnapps. I plan to try this with some
orange curacao, but haven't had an excuse to do so.

The photo here is from my blue raspberry lemonade batch that was too
firm, but I wanted to show off the cool silicone cups I used.
These are the cupcake cups I got at Cost Plus. They make great
reusable vegan jello shooters!

Vegan Jello Shots Galore

1 1/2 tbsp agar agar flakes or 1 1/2 tsp agar powder
1 cup mango juice
1 cup lime vodka
2 tbsp raw sugar
food coloring (opt)

Bring the juice, sugar, and agar to a boil and simmer over low-medium
heat until the agar is fully dissolved. Add the coloring, then the
alcohol and stir quickly with a whisk.

Pour into desired cups and chill before serving.
I will yield 15+ shots.

Right after I made these we found boxes of vegan jello at a local
indian market. Go figure. We tried using the mango flavoured box
and it came out just as good. You just split the liquid half juice
half alcohol. It definitely sets up quicker.

Lastly remember that these are pretty alcoholic, so don't be
expecting sweet jello-y goodness when you go to shoot one.
Remember you are taking a shot!! Besides that, have fun and always
be responsible!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bold Native at TreePeople

Last night we hit up one of our last few vegan events before I leave
town for a little while. I'd been looking forward to this event for
a while and it was briefly threatened when it looked like Monkey-man's
car might give out. But all was well and we traversed up to Clearwater
Canyon to the TreePeople amphitheater to watch the screening of
Bold Native.

An amazing film, I highly recommend it to anyone that gets a chance to
see it. Check out the website because I know they have screenings
coming up in Portland and Seattle.

It was a beautiful mesh of documentary film bits, drama, humor all
played out on the foundation of a well written story.
The editing style was more of a modern fast cut style, influence by the
fake-reality-tv-like shows (The Office). It was very powerful
and presented many different aspects of the animal rights movement
and the underlying principles, but focused mainly on the Animal
Liberation Front. It was moving, informative, and poignant.

The space was awesome too, even the blow up screen! It was filled
up pretty early. Awesome people, awesome weather, awesome space,
awesome show!

I really want to see if I can pull some strings to get a showing
in Hawaii if I'm there at the end of the year.

The audience in awe during the film...

Here is the cast and film makers during the Q&A that followed the film,
headed by director Denis Henry Hennelly.

Just a quick mention too...

The frankenstand was there selling vegan hot dogs and sausages!
It was our first encounter with the vegan hot dog cart (finally!)

I got the witch, a tofurky beer brat...

He got the wolf, which was a chipotle dog.
You can't see it though because he smothered it with toppings.
I think it looked like a little face.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chocolate Beans, Baked Mochi, and more

Just thought I'd drop a couple pics that I posted to my testers
blog... Give you guys a visual taste of what I'm working on for
my book this summer. Or maybe its to prove that I actually am
doing something!

I'm organizing and categorizing mostly. Planning before I launch
into all out kitchen craziness. Also, picking what stories I want
to relate, what I want to illustrate and so on and so forth.

So here is some food porn for ya'll!
Some of these will be familiar if you are already on the facebook
fan page...

"Usagi no Tsuki" (Bunny's Moon)
Baked mochi topped with a sweet red bean paste, berry-beet sauce and
fresh strawberries.

"Chocolate Bean Sliders"
A new take on 'beans on toast' or 'boston-baked beans'

"Zombie Pizza"
A violent mixture of sweet, savory, and salty for the best pizza you'll
ever taste.

"Teddy Beary Choco Mousse"
A fluffy, rich, berry mousse that will leave your non-vegan friends
weeping for more.

So... two plugs here! First, obviously if you are interested in
becoming a tester or know someone who is... please let me know and
I will be opening the tester blog soon with invitations!

Secondly, if you haven't found me on facebook yet... be sure to
become a fan of the page!
There are a lot more pictures on the fan page, as well as sneak peeks
of posts to come.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot Diggity Dog!

I once read that in a study, 100% of women and only 70% of men
admitted to experiencing specific food cravings. I can definitely
account for my own sex, but really guys. 30% of you don't have
any kind of specific food cravings whatsoever?

You don't ever think... "Hey a pizza would be really good right now"
or maybe a coffee... Come one! A cold beer? Stereotypes!

I think guys just associate food cravings with women and are
weirded out by admitting that they get them once in a while too.
Or-- they just don't realize that what they are experiencing is a
food craving. Not all cravings are the female pregnancy level...
"I need pickles, ketchup, and hashbrowns right now or I'm gonna die!"

Obviously I get food cravings all the time and honestly I give in
pretty much every time. Not because I'm pregnant! And food cravings
don't have to be a bad thing My body has readjusted to a healthy
food grid. (well pretty much)

Basically, by eating a good range of healthy and wholesome foods,
I don't crave crap anymore. It was only when I was consistently
eating crap that I was craving crap. A total addiction.

Now I crave things like curry, toast with marmite, bananas, or
even dried fruits. I'll totally get hankerings for trail mix.
Dude! Salty raisins? What the hell, I'll pick those out of trail
mix like they're crack!

The last stand that still taunts me from non-vegan land is the
deadly 'little debbie cake'. Once in a blue moon I'll be stuck
with a bizarre wave of longing for those awful waxy cakes.
Who knows why, but if I must I'll grab a cookie or a chocolate
soymilk and wait it out.

So on this path of feeding my cravings I had to pick up a
pack of smart doggies. We rarely eat faux meats, so it was a
treat for me completing my 1st grad year.

I made some sesame seed hot doggie buns for the occasion.

Monkey-man made some sweet potato fries. Except he confused me
instructing him to use paprika with using cayenne. So, they
were a little 'flamin'!

To cut down on the amount we ate I made the buns on the small
side and we cut the doggies in half! Kind of like using smaller
dinner plates and tricking your mind!

I used to just eat cheese and ketchup on my hot doggies, but
I'll add a little bit of mustard like here and had a little of
Monkey-man's homemade pickle relish. Yummy! Of course he had to
have raw onions on his-- not so yummy to me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pizza Pizzaz Part Nine: Cowabunga Pizza

If you are a child of the 80s like me,
into the wave of retro movies going on,
or have just seen a lot of the pop
culture churned out in 1987 you are
probably at least slightly familiar with
the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
movie. I started with the comics, but we're not here to talk
about what a geek I am...

Not many will remember this among all the pizza talk of the TMNT movies,
but somehow I did and decided to try it myself.

At some point in the movie the turtles are talking about organics
and gardening and then they throw out the idea of organic marshmallows
on their pizza. Well, organic maybe not. Vegan? Yes.

Hence the 'Cowabunga Pizza' in honor of one of my childhood faves.

Starting with some Dandies (which they now carry at our whole foods)...

I tore them in half since the actual pizza was not that large and I
didn't want too many. I used a mix of moz and cheddar daiya.

Other than that nothing special. A nice red sauce and a plain crust.

I don't know why I was surprised, but they completely exploded.
For some reason I was thinking they'd turn all golden and crispy
like on a camp fire, but no. This was a 450F oven and they completely
blew up and spread across the whole pizza.

Honestly, I think that Dandies needs to start looking into making
vegan cheese because this pizza looks like the perfect, classic
cheese pizza.

It was not as sweet as I as expecting either. Monkey-Man,
I have to say, was not down for this. I'm sure he was bracing himself
to vomit. But it was pretty good believe it or not.

It reminded me of one of those little kid packs of make your own cold
cheese pizzas... Although, I cannot imagine when I ever had one.
I think because processed food already has so much more sweetener in
every ingredient that with extra sugar on top, that is what it started
to taste similar to-- something more commercial.

I think we all need to have more fun with our food and not get so
caught up in our own expectations. Cowabunga, dudes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pizza Pizzaz Part Eight: BBQT Pizza

Finally, summer has begun for me. I can breathe freely for a few
months without the impending doom of 30-page papers, a thesis, or
massive exams hanging over me. Instead I have crying kittens, a messy
house and a big deadline for my cookbook.

First I have to set my place up to incorporate a more creative flow.
So I'm spending my day cleaning and rearranging my little place.

Beside that I want to start off my summer showing you another awesome
pizza. Summer is the time of bbqs and outdoor parties. But not all
of it has to include dead flesh or a grill. You can get the amazing
flavor and familiar sensations all with a little imagination.

Experimenting with different sauces got me to whipping up this pizza.
I wanted to do one with my delicious barbecue sauce (which will be in
the book) and also bring in the use of some baked/grilled tofu.

With a smaller, thickly rolled crust you have your favorite
barbecue sauce topped with sweet bell peppers, walnuts, roasted garlic,
baked beggin' tofu, olives, and some chedder daiya. I should have
added some sliced tomatoes.... I used to use this recipe for
'bacon', but now I use a marinade of more maple syrup, less water,
braggs instead of soy sauce, a little bit of salt, smoked paprika,
and a wee bit of garlic powder. Marinate at least a couple hours
before using.

This pizza is a little sweet, very savory, and its got a little kick
from some hot spice in the sauce. Its good to balance the sauce by a
thick crust and lots of toppings or else all you're going to be tasting
is bqq bqq bqq.

So now its officially summer for me I will be posting and updating
much more. You'll be seeing more of my book and getting lots of juicy
photos. If you're interested my tester site will be completed soon and
is invite only. I will be needing testers for book recipes, so I hope
to generate some help and interest. Happy eating!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pizza Pizzaz Part Seven: Double the Yum

Getting back on track here... Heading into finals week for my
first completed year of grad school, go me! Half way done with
my masters... or there abouts!

Plus these kittens have been a real time vacuum of cuteness.

I have had some posts to share with you, but on top of everything
our internet/phone was out for over a week. In fact they had to
come and entirely replace the telephone pole in front of our
house to get things back online!

But here is one that I've been really wanting to share with you.
The general idea was Monkey-man's, but I whipped it up and
it really surprised us. I don't think I've ever made a pizza
that tasted so much like a digiorno. Now, I don't know if you've
ever had one of these frozen pizzas or if you hate them...

But I want to pin it on the strange anomaly of their crust or
really the crust of any mainstream frozen pizza. The recipe itself
is nothing special, just my go to foundation ratio for pizza
crust. It usually makes two crusts that fit on our stone, but this
time I stacked them on top of each other.

This caused the crusts to be much softer and just short of doughy.
In a really good way!

For future reference my pizza dough consists of ....

1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp oil
1 cup warm water
2 1/2- 3 cups flour

I like to switch it up with different flours, sweeteners and oils
or adding things like olives, rosemary, garlic, or a little more
sweetener for a dessert pizza.

Pizza is so easy and quick if you have the crust made ahead of time.
It is insane that more people don't eat it homemade. I cannot
understand those who will spend $20+ on a generic pizza when they
actually cost a fraction of that at home. If you have the dough
ready, you can have your dinner ready in the time it takes to
preheat your oven and out 10 minutes later.

Double Decker Pizza

Start out with your preheated stone or baking sheet.
Lay down the first layer of crust and spread on the tomato sauce and
nutritional yeast.

Then your next layer and toppings... Yes it's that simple.

Unbaked and baked overview... Yes my crusts are wonky shaped.

And my slice! Nom Nom Nom.
It seems like a normal sized pizza, but it goes twice as far,
so we had to seriously watch how much we were eating!