Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Love Testing!!

I cannot stress enough how much I looooove being a recipe tester!! With Terry's Vegan Latina/Viva Vegan! finished testing, I am so glad there was Queen V's Vegan Bakesale cookbook testing to take its place! I am also still working on testing recipes for Bianca's (of the awesome Vegan Crunk blog) southern cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. Both are tons of fun, and have been providing me with dinners and desserts to keep me....and my guests....happy!

Last night I made recipes from Cookin' Crunk testing for dinner: BBQ Tempeh and Carrot Sandwich with Poppyseed Coleslaw. It was delicious! To give the "pulled pork" texture, there are carrots mixed in with the bbq sauce and tempeh mixture....genius!! I love slaw on sandwiches, to add that messy, crunchy, cool, tasty element to something warm and spicy. Yum!!! The sauce was the Memphis BBQ Sauce, also from Bianca's test recipes...very sweet and tangy, which is simply awesome!!!!Dessert was a Vegan Bakesale test recipe: Espresso-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, drizzled with Chocolate Ganache. Ooooooh my goooosh was this good!!! A great balance of cakey-ness and crumbliness in the cake portion, perfect Coffee Struesel Topping (!!) and double perfect chocolate-y goodness poured all over the top. And it was not too sweet at all, which can sometimes happen in a lesser coffee cake. This was, of course, enjoyed with some fair trade, locally-roasted Broadway Cafe Coffee! Yay for good dessert and good coffee!Another test recipe from Vegan Bakesale I made this week was the Spelt Jam Thumbprint Cookies. The dough has jam baked into it and is made with spelt flour, so it has a very distinct flavor that is almost healthy tasting...and it's good! Then, there's the double whammy of jam (jammy? no, too much.) in the thumbprint. These tasted a bit like the Girl Scout Cookies that had raspberry jelly in them, but better of course! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

All The Glory That Is Seitan Piccata...

If you've never had anything "piccata" style, I feel almost certain you have not fully lived. The bold and savory flavors that are created from the combination of capers, lemons, white wine, onions, garlic, shallots, and parsley are absolutely stunning to the mouth. I am not exaggerating here, either! Then to bless breaded and pan-fried homemade seitan with this deliciousness is just so good it should be illegal. But it's not, which is why I served it at my supper club last weekend!! Yay! I used the Seitan Piccata with Lemon-Caper Sauce recipe in the Candle Cafe Cookbook, which really turns out perfectly every time. And it's so gooooooooood!!!

I served the seitan on a pile of Creamed Local Spinach (made with Earth Balance, soy creamer, salt, and pepper. simple and yum.) and Herbed Potato Cakes. I have been really into things in cake or patty or fritter form lately, so I kind of just went with it to create a nice starch for this meal. And they are wonderful!! The recipe below will feed a lot of people, like 24, so feel free to half or quarter it if you aren't running an underground restaurant out of your house! :)Herbed Potato Cakes (serves 24, makes approx. 48 patties)
5 lbs yukon gold or russet potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, small diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup celery, small diced
1/4 cup vegan margarine
2 cups soymilk
6 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbs baking powder
1 Tbs sea salt
1/2 Tbs white pepper
1/2 Tbs black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like a little heat)
1 Tbs dried thyme
1/2 Tbs dried dill
1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped and tightly packed
2 Tbs agave nectar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Oil for frying

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the diced potatoes. Boil for approximately 20 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
When the potatoes have cooled, add the margarine and soymilk, and mash until the potatoes are smooth and creamy in texture. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. While the dough rests, preheat oven to 375 F.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Coat pan with oil and allow to heat.
When oil is ready, drop prepared dough by 1/2 cup scoops onto heated pan. Let cook for about 3 minutes, until beginning to get golden brown. Flip the patty over and cook 3-4 more minutes, again looking for a golden crust. Transfer patty to a sheet pan, which will go into the oven. Repeat process until all of the dough has been used up; this should produce roughly 48 cakes. Bake the fried potato cakes in preheated oven for 15 minutes, to get the inside fully cooked and create a fluffy interior. Serve immediately over creamed spinach and top with seitan piccata and lemon-caper sauce.

Even with that delectable meal, there was OF COURSE room for dessert!! I looooove frosted brownies and the combo of pb and chocolate, so I made these two loves combine in this Peanut Butter-Cocoa Brownie! The brownie is the Deluxe Cocoa Brownie from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar...another winner from that beautiful book! The frosting is a Peanut Buttercream, based on the recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Dusted with fair trade cocoa powder, too!! Man, these vegan baked goods are so proactive! They were definitely satisfying my sweet tooth that day! Decadent, rich, delicious, and seriously induce need of a post-meal nap! Though next time, I would make them "bomb" style and drench the top in chocolate ganache....there will be a next time soon I can tell!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Almond-Quinoa Granola!

Seriously this is the best granola EVER. I was playing around with some ingredients and measurements, and out from the oven came this fragrant, warm, crunchy mix of perfection! Quinoa-Almond Granola (makes about 2 qts, which is A TON of granola.)
2 lbs rolled oats
12 oz. sliced almonds
8 oz. sunflower seeds
8 oz. uncooked quinoa
2 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs agave
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 sheet pans with canola oil, 1 tsp each. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir until well mixed. Add in the agave, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, and extracts. Coat dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Spread evenly onto prepared sheet pans, 1/2 of mixture onto each pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 1 hour to cool before storing in air-tight containers. Serve with almond milk, soy yogurt, or even by itself!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Food From the Heart and For the Heart.

Valentine's Day this year was filled with all the things I love: good food and amazing friends. What else could you want on such a holiday?? Nothing!

The day began with breakfast, of course. I had my girls over for a breakfast of heart-shaped biscuits and sage gravy. I made my usual biscuit recipe, but cut them into hearts with cookie cutters my mom gave me as a Valentine's present! Thanks, mom!! Seriously, check out those layers. mmmmmmm yeah.After church a few of us went out to eat at a local restaurant called You Say Tomato. This place is seriously adorable!! There are only a few vegan options, but the staff is really helpful and knowledgeable, and willing to make things vegan for you if you want. So nice! They use mostly local, organic ingredients and serve it all up in a cozy diner setting, which just happens to be my favorite of all time!

I got the Hummus and Pita Plate, which is a big bowl of homemade hummus, topped with a sweet chili sauce, and served with locally-made pita bread and fresh cucumber slices. The sweet, salty, creamy, chewy, crisp combo made for one tasty lunch for sure!
I also got a side of their Roasted Potatoes, which were made with local russet and sweet potatoes! Seriously, potatoes are the best food ever, perhaps.
Dinner was also with my girls (yes, we spend all of our time together!!) spent over candlelight and as a precursor to watching Romeo and Juliet, the Leo DiCaprio version, obviously.

I did the main meal: Rosemary-Walnut Crusted (local) Tofu, Caramelized Onions, Garlic-Roasted (local) Potatoes, and Raw Kale-(local) Beet Salad. Delicious. Raw Kale-Beet Salad (serves 3-4)
1 bunch kale
1 large or 5-6 small beets
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs cold-pressed olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine the kale and olive oil. Massage the kale with the oil until it softens and takes on a delicate, wilted texture. Add the lemon juice and vinegar, then toss to coat the kale. Add in the onion, garlic, beets, and spices. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or (my favorite) let chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, and then serve!

The girls took care of dessert, which was awesome!

Emily made a Chocolate-Balsamic Cake with Raspberry-Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Raspberries. The chocolate-balsamic-berry combination is just sooooo gooooood!!! My mouth waters just writing about it! Chelsea made cupcakes, because cupcakes are absolutely perfect for absolutely any occasion!!! She made Vanilla Cupcakes (from VCTOTW) topped with Berry Jam and Coconut Frosting. Another awesome flavor combination! Perfect way to end a meal!

I was so blessed this Valentine's Day with love!!! Thanks everybody!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Caramel Delights!

The Girl Scouts' Caramel Delight Cookies, aka Samoas, were my favorite cookie to eat (and sell!) when I was little. It would just be a crime if I couldn't eat them anymore just because I'm vegan now!! I still have yet to try the Lazy Samoas in Isa and Terry's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but I think these are pretty darn good! They are based on the Scout Cookies I had at Watercourse Foods when I was in Denver--I kind of asked a worker what was in them and made up the recipe from there! It worked out perfectly, too! The addition of sweet potatoes give these a really lovely flavor, some added natural sweetness, and a great texture. I made these with whole wheat pastry flour, but they would totally work with either brown rice flour to make them gluten-free. You seriously have to try them for yourself! Vegan Caramel Delight Cookies (makes 3-4 dozen cookies)
3 cups shredded (raw) sweet potatoes
3 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 Tbs sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 Tbs coconut extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Ener-G egg replacer (ground flaxseeds would also work)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup warm water

16 oz. vegan chocolate chips
2 Tbs soy creamer

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease cookie sheets and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, coconut, nuts, flour, sugar, egg replacer and salt. Stir to combine. Add the extracts, oils, molasses, brown rice syrup, and water. Mix well with your hands to completely combine.
Scoop dough by 1/2 cup measurements and form into 3" rounds. Slightly flatten the tops to make into disc shapes. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before adding chocolate.
While cookies cool, set up double boiler to melt the chocolate chips. Melt chocolate chips and whisk in the soy creamer. Drizzle over cooled cookies (in whatever pattern you like), or spread over the tops of the cookies like a frosting, and allow to set before serving. If you would rather have the chocolate on the bottoms, like the Girl Scout cookies, dip the bottoms into the melted chocolate and set on parchment paper to cool until set.
These are super fantastic with a big glass of soy milk!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hearty and Wholesome Winter Eats

When it is winter time and snowy and such, all I really want to do is snuggle up inside and make some rib-sticking, delicious food!! So that is pretty much all I have been doing lately...and I love every minute of it!!

Some stuff I have made recently...warm, tasty, filling, and healthy, too...mmmmm.....

Chili-Rubbed Seitan Sandwiches on Homemade Sweet Potato Buns with Raspberry Chipotle Mayo. Sweet Maple Slaw. Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles, from Isa and Terry's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar! These are sooooo goood! I made some chocolate cinnamon buttercream, and turned them into cookie sandwiches! Forgot to picture it though....too much eating to do!

Two Potato Chowder with local sweet and yukon gold potatoes! Garnished with local tempeh and scallions. Side of Jalapeno-Molasses Cornbread.
Nutty Fig Bars, with local pecans. Seitan Reubens--Homemade rye bread topped with homemade corned "beef" seitan, organic sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and homemade 1000 island dressing. Ah, the open-faced sandwich, how I love thee. Side of local Sweet Potato Salad.Salted Caramel Pecan Bars from Isa and Terry's VCIYCJ. These are my favorite thing I have made from that cookbook so far!! Salty and sweet and crunchy and chewy all at the same time!! I served them with some vanilla soy ice cream, and it was a perfect combination! Pecan-Crusted Seitan with Smoky Smothered Greens and Mashed Local Potatoes and Gravy.
Maple Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream and Candied Walnuts from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!!! These are seriously amazing!! They taste like maple doughnuts, which I looooved in my omni days! People went crazy for these! Perfection when eaten with a hot cup of coffee and shared with lovely friends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PB & J Cupcakes!

I am soooo happy to be testing for a new vegan baking cookbook, Vegan Bakesale, by Carla of the Year of the Vegan blog (!! The first tester recipe I made for her was the PB&J Cupcakes...I know, right?! I am quite certain peanut butter is THE perfect food, and when paired with jelly and then turned into cupcake form, well, there just can't be much better than that! These are marbled cupcakes, with a pb batter and a jelly batter, swirled together then topped with a jelly glaze and peanut buttercream frosting!! These wowed my vegan friends, little kids, me (of course!) and even my veg-skeptical friends! If all the recipes are this good, I just know I'll need to get to baking asap...and to buy some stretchy pants!!