Friday, December 28, 2007



I completely ruined the matzo ball recipe from VWAV last month. Last week, it was finally time for a rematch.

I took the advice of Jewish Vegan and Isa and made smaller balls over lower heat. I also used a food processor instead of a blender this time. It worked! They stayed solid! The masses rejoiced!

They still weren't as firm as my family likes them, but it's a start. Next time, I'll add an extra dash of matzo meal.

Before and after (not that you can really tell much of a difference at this resolution. Higher res at my Flickr):

All You Need is Smlove

Smlove is all you need.

Happy holidays!

I'm Jewish, so I didn't have plans for Christmas beyond spending 4.5 days knitting and cooking with the music up really loud while everyone else was at work. Then a friend invited me over for the holiday. Friends from out of town were going to come by for a while, then we'd go visiting with her assorted family in the area. And we'd get to play in the kitchen. How could I say no?

We made the Smlove Pie from Veganomicon to bring to her aunts and made some Vegan Bailey's (recipe in post #22 and below) for ourselves. Guh!

I'm so proud of that pie. It a PIE. Like a real pie you can get in a store. If you've read more of this blog than this post, you know that while my food may taste good, I haven't really been able to get presentation down yet. Obviously, making a pie with someone with a degree in art helps there.

The pie is delicious, but very rich. You can easily be satisfied with a super-small slice, making the fact that we brought one pie for roughly 30 people not so much of a problem.

The most fun part of making this pie is drizzling the chocolate over top. The most impressive part, to me, is that we candied our own pecans. Who the hell candies pecans?! We do! And we had about half of them left over, so we got to eat them plain as well, which was a real treat. We also had plenty of chocolate drizzle left. Candied pecan/chocolate drizzle sandwiches with a side of homemade gingerbread men (I made those the day before, but didn't take any pictures because it was just practice for later) is the breakfast of champions.

This is a great pie to bring to a gathering, vegan or omni. It looks so much like a real pie that people will be impressed just by looking at it. Add the taste, and they'll worship you. I don't know which they'll have more trouble believing: that it's homemade or that it's vegan.

The Bailey's was a little strong for me (I don't really drink), but we cut it with some of the Frangelico we bought for the pie and then it was nice and tasty. And there's something inherently funny about whisking whiskey. Bring it to a holiday party and you won't feel bad at all about not being able to partake of the nog.

Naked pie:

With peanut butter caramel and candied pecans:



The slice:

Showing off:

Bailey's, in an appropriately festive cup:

Vegan Bailey's

1 can coconut milk
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs chocolate syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whisky

Whisk it all together with a whisk. That's it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ratatouille: Not for Rats

No, I didn't see the movie, but I made's Roasted Ratatouille a couple of weeks ago and it was quite good.

I doubled the recipe and ended up with a metric assload of roasted vegetables. Seriously. I still have some left and have no idea what to do with it because no one wants to eat it anymore. We all have it coming out of our ears.

I liked this because it wasn't vegetablescookedinsauce, where everything tastes the same. It was nice to be able to taste the flavor of each vegetable and the grape tomatoes really made the whole thing pop (I'm not a fan of cooked tomatoes, but I actually looked forward to getting a forkful with tomato in it from this dish). I also used yellow and orange peppers, so the dish had a lot of color going on.



Waste Not, Want Not

I hate waste when I cook and try to put every little bit of every little thing to use. I eat all the vegetables after I make veggie broth (even the greens!) and have boiled potatoes in pickle juice, so I obviously needed to find some use for all of my leftover seitan broth. The first thing I did was go back to my old standbys: jerky and mashed potatoes. This time, the jerky was a more meat-like color but was pretty bland. The potatoes tasted like they were unseasoned but had been sitting on a plate next to meat for a while.

So that wasn't very impressive, but then I remembered that I'd bought mochi and there was a recipe on the package.

The recipe called for onions, carrots, cabbage, soy sauce and mochi. I used onions, parsnips, spinach, seitan broth and mochi. It was actually quite nice, but then again, I'd marry a parsnip if you let me, so I may not be the best judge of the quality of this recipe.

Jerky before and after:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mini Cranberry Apple Crumb Pie

I'm skipping ahead to my submission for The Mini Pie Revolution because the deadline is nearly upon us.

For this, I borrowed my mother's "Cranapple Crunch" recipe and adapted it until it was pretty much unrecognizable. I made a dozen pies and when my mother told me she'd eaten three in one day, I knew it was time to get them out of the house and distribute them among my friends and coworkers.

When I made this, I prepared WAY too much filling, a bit too much topping and not enough crust, so I adjusted the measurements but haven't gotten to re-test it. If you decide to follow this recipe, expect it to be tasty but messy. Or just use your judgement and change things accordingly, since if you're reading this, you're probably a food blogger too and have far more experience than I (this is my first original recipe).

Mini Cranberry Apple Crumb Pies

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 bag fresh cranberries
2 cups flour (divided)
2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
1 cup margarine (divided)*
4 Tablespoons
3 apples (my mother uses Granny Smiths, I used organic Braeburns. Both tasted quite nice)
1 cup quick oats
2/3 cup brown sugar

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease your muffin pan.

2. Bring water and sugar to boil in medium, non-porous saucepan. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until cool. If you do not have a non-porous saucepan, you definitely want to transfer the cranberries to a bowl before refrigerating. As the berries cool, a film will form over the top. Stir occasionally to break up the film and allow the heat to escape or your berries will never cool.

3. Mix 1 1/3 cup flour, and 1 tsp cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in 5.5 tablespoons margarine, using pastry blender, 2 knives or your fingers, until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl.

5. Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable.

6. While waiting for your cranberries and crust dough to cool, wash, peel and chop your apples.

7. Melt remaining margarine. To it, add 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 cup quick oats, 2/3 cup flour and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix well with fork, until crumbs form.

8. When your dough is ready, roll it into an log and cut it into 12 even pieces. Roll those pieces into balls and flatten them into thin rounds that will fit your muffin tins. Since they're so small, a rolling pin isn't really necessary but you're welcome to use one if you're really particular. Press each crust into a greased cup of the muffin tin and prick it a few times with a fork.

9. Mix your cranberries with your chopped apples. Fill each crust about 2/3 full with the fruit filling.

10. Finish each pie off with crumb topping.

11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crumbs brown slightly.

12. Allow pies to cool before attempting to remove them from their tins.

This is why I specified the use of non-porous pots and bowls:

Bottom crusts:




The mini pie stands alone:

I still can't believe it didn't fall apart as soon as it was removed from the pan:

The crumb didn't hold up to cutting too well. This pie is meant to be eaten with the hands:

I may have snuck one while they were still hot...and it may have been bliss:

I don't know what this is or where it came from but I found it in the silverware drawer and it's a perfect Mini Pie Popper Outer. If you're going to make a habit of mini pie making, invest in one:

* I tried to cut back on the amount of margarine used, so I didn't get much of a crumb going. For a bigger, crumbier, crumb, add a couple of extra tablespoons of margarine to the crust dough.

I still have so much food to blog about, and I need to fix up this layout sooner or later. I never realized this would be so time consuming!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Birthday Baking

Last Sunday, we threw a bit of a birthday celebration for one of my friends and I was entrusted with the cake detail. This was a real challenge because the birthday girl is allergic to most nuts, most fruits (except citrus fruits), soy, whole grains, beer and wine. And she loves pumpkin. I thought the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World would be good, but I didn't really want to bring cupcakes to a party again. Causing friends to be bored of cupcakes is a cardinal sin. So I brought my task to The PPK and with some suggestions from them and some idea stealing from other Internets, I ended up with this:

(I can't believe I forgot to get a picture from the side!)

I stole the pumpkin cake shaped like a pumpkin idea from BitterSweetBlog. It's a great idea that would have been absolutely adorable in more skilled hands (and in a bundt pan that didn't have points). I don't think my version is too terrible, though.

All I did was make a double recipe for the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin cupcake batter substituting the soy milk for rice, dump it in the bundt pan and bake it for about an hour. Then I made another half-recipe for six cupcakes. I also made one batch of the Cinnamon Icing, colored with Moss Green paste and colored some marzipan.

I stuffed the hole in the center of the cake with two cupcakes (unwrapped), then chopped off part of a block of fancy, frou frou artisanal chocolate I bought at Whole Foods (not because I'm a chocolate snob but because it was the only chocolate I could find that was close to the right size/shape, vegan and kosher) and stuck it in the cupcakes to make the stem. I shaped the green marzipan into a leaf. The green icing was supposed to do double duty as the birthday greeting and a vine with smaller leaves, but the vine looks more like a line made by someone with seriously shaky hands.

It's unfortunate that the bundt cake came out so much darker than the cupcakes. Of course, my family didn't care since they got to eat the leftover cupcakes.

The cake went over quite well and even the birthday girl's family was able to have some leftovers. I think I can consider my first birthday cake a success.

The raw cake:

The raw cupcakes:

Cake and cupcakes. Two tastes that taste great together (especially when they're the same damn thing):

Left over cupcakes:

With candles:

Blow it out!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Merry Vegan

Last Thursday, I attended The Merry Vegan Holiday Survival Workshop with Jasmin Singer and Marisa Miller Wolfson. It was great. Entertaining and informative. And I got to eat good food. Isa taught us how to roll our eyes and sneer at people who offer us turkey on the holidays just to be rude. Good times.

The workshop was at Bonobo's and I thought my dinner was both tasty and hilarious because I'm incredibly mature:

Here are some of the helpful links we dicussed:

Cruelty-free/ More Eco-friendly/ Fair-trade Retailers

Cool Product Ideas
Vegan cookbooks like those from The PPK ladies
Solio charger
Reusable shopping bags
For kids: veg-friendly children’s books & computer game

Experience/Services Gifts
Yoga or dance classes, cooking class at Natural Gourmet Cookery School
Gift certificate to fave vegan restaurant or an eco-spa
Membership to an arts or theater organization (the ballet, symphony,
Subscription to Netflix or Fandango Bucks
Subscription to VegNews magazine
Personal services: cooking, massage, sexual favors, etc.

Charitable Gifts
Trees from Arbor Day Foundation
Adopt a turkey or sponsor a farm animal
Food for Life Global
Trees for Life Global
Sponsor a cat or dog through Best Friends
Adopt a Creature through Oceana and get a cookie cutter of creature.

We also discussed how to keep the commercialism and environmental impact down during the holiday season:

Shop thrift stores (and donate too!)
Used items from your own home and/or re-gifted items
Homemade recipe books, bath salts, baked goods & knit items
Send e-cards
Go through your junk drawer of old cards and spruce them up
Write a note instead of a card
Cut last year’s cards in half and send the top page as a postcard to
someone else
Reuse paper and gift bags from past years
Use old calendars, books, magazines, comics pages as gift wrap
Hemp wrap & biodegradable soy-ink-ribbon
Recycled wrapping paper

I'd never heard of quite a few of those before, so it was nice to come across some new resources. I hope they do another workshop like this at some point. It was quite enjoyable and I'd recommend any vegans in the area to attend. You might even like to attend if you're not a vegan, but close with someone who is. Or just want to lessen your impact on the environment. Just realize that you will probably hear some comments made about meat-eaters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seitan Said SEITAN

Given the name of this blog, it has taken way too long, but I finally made seitan two Sundays ago! Damn, was it tasty!

I made the Simple Seitan from Veganomicon in the morning and cooked it up in Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach (also from Veganomicon) when I got home that evening. I doubled the recipe and ended up eating it cold most of the time because I brought it to work for lunch and still wanted to marry it.

If I knew it was so easy to make your own seitan, I would have done it weeks ago (I randomly bought a package of wheat gluten flour when I first started cooking, not that I knew what it was for or anything like that).

Somehow, I missed the part where it said to add the garlic in the instructions and didn't realize my seitan was garlicless until I already had it kneaded up in six balls. So I added roughly one-sixth of the garlic to each individual ball and re-kneaded them. I don't know if it would have been more garlicy if I'd done it properly, but the taste didn't seem lacking, so I'm not overly concerned about it.

The only other change I made to the recipe was that I used real vegetable broth, made from the Vegan With a Vengeance recipe. This made me feel bad about throwing the broth out when I was done boiling the seitan. So bad that I didn't throw it out at all. I've come up with two uses for it so far that I'll write about at some other time.

The Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach is ridiculously fast, easy and tasty. Now that I have the food processor, my mushrooms were sliced in about two seconds and the rest of the recipe is a "cook for five minutes" "cook for eight minutes" kind of thing, so it was done less than no time. I ended up with extra seitan so I made it again on Wednesday. I never cook during the week, but the time investment was so minimal and the tastiness so huge it was well worth it.

Mixing the seitan (not very appetizing, but as you can see in the above picture, it gets better!):

Seitan balls, pre-boiling (I just stuck in the garlic):

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Cupcakes

This blog is significantly behind my bloggable life, and for that, I apologize.

Let's rewind to Saturday, December eighth, shall we?

I spent the evening baking two dozen of the Veganomicon's Jelly Donut Cupcakes for my family's Channukkah party Sunday.

These cupcakes are SO easy to make. And so unique! Also, they don't use a mixer, so you can make them at 3 AM without waking anyone. And they're so fast to make that you can bake them at 3 AM without killing a whole night's sleep. Most of my cupcakes were left with holes in the top, but most jelly donuts have holes in the side, so people actually preferred them that way. The texture and flavor were very different from the previous cupcakes I'd made (all from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). They were a bit more dense, and definitely donuty.

When I finished making the cupcakes, I met up with some friends to go to Strawberry Fields. On my way to see them, I got the idea to add a butternut squash to my vegetable menorah, but didn't think anything would come of it because I was out. When we got together, we realized we hadn't brought anything for John, so we stopped at Whole Foods for onions. I also bought a ten-pound butternut squash. And carried it around ALL NIGHT. I think it enjoyed Barcade.

I also brought the Veganomicon Spiced Yogurt Sauce to the party as an alternative dip for the veggies (someone else brought one with a sour cream base).

Cupcakes: ready for the jelly



The Cavern O' Jelly


From the inside

My date for the evening: the butternut squash

Friday, December 14, 2007

Baked Beet Cakes

I've had leftover beets and shallots and and Horseradish Dill Sour Cream and things from when I made the Veganomicon Autumn Latkes sitting in the fridge for a while, so I decided to try Fat Free Vegan's baked adaptation (scroll about halfway down, they're shaped like hearts) last Wednesday.

For some reason, my brain just didn't want to follow the instructions. It seemed to think that since it had already done beet cakes once, it knew what it was doing and didn't need to pay attention to what was printed out.

It was wrong.

I kinda just shredded all the vegetables and let them cook in the water together. And my breadcrumbs were ground so fine they looked like they were flour again (I did them in advance, in the blender, because I didn't have a food processor yet. Shredding the vegetables in the processor was a DREAM). And I don't think I chopped the fennel finely enough. I may have made them a bit too big and didn't have them in the oven long enough too.

Despite all that, they were still edible. Not my favorite things, but I ate them for lunch two days in a row.

So now I know: even when I fuck them up, beets are OK.

This is the recipe as printed, not as I made it.

Beet Cakes

2 cups peeled shredded beets (about 3 average sized beets)
1 cup peeled shredded carrot (or parsnip) (about 1 average sized carrot)
1 cup peeled shredded sweet potato (1 average sized sweet potato)
1 shallot, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
½ teaspoon salt
several dashes fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped (or caraway)
1/2 cup rolled oats, quick cooking
1 cup homemade whole wheat bread crumbs, plus additional for covering

Took the grated beet and carrot and just about covered with water and cooked for 10 min until it was soft. Drained well and reserved the liquid to use for the sweet potato. Cut this into smallish cubes, cooked just covered with the liquid for 15 minutes until soft, drained (reserving liquid - I hate to throw away cooking water if I can find some use for it) and mashed with a little of the liquid. Mixed these two together and let cool for 10 minutes. To this I added the shallot and seasonings as well as 1/2 C rolled oats (quick cooking but not instant) and 1 C Homemade WW breadcrumbs. Mixed well until combined - it was a little moist but not sticky. I used a 1/4 C measuring cup and scooped out 1/4 C fulls which made a nice patty shape, covered in breadcrumbs, flattened a little and baked on a tray lined with tinfoil for 30 min at 400F, turning them after 15 minutes. They didn't brown up or anything but were very good!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shells & Chreese

As of last Tuesday, my friend with the busted paw was still in the hospital. She'd undergone surgery, was well on her way to recovery and even had her appetite back. The problem was the hospital's food sucked. Before her surgery, I'd noticed my friend ogling the macaroni and cheese another friend had brought her mother, but she hadn't been digesting dairy very well since returning from a trip to Asia, so I decided it was vegan mac and cheese time.

I got home from the hospital at roughly ass o'clock, which was no time to be playing with Mac Daddy or some other vegan-macaroni-and-cheese-from-scratch recipe, but I had a box of Road's End Organics Shells & Chreese in the cabinet, so I decided to make that (I'd never had it before).

I followed the instructions on the box and nothing stuck to the pot, which was awesome (I've never been able to make macaroni and cheese from the box without losing half of it), but it didn't look very tempting, so I added a bit more soy milk. That made it look a bit better, so I decided it was done. Then I tasted it.

It tasted kind of like a cross between dirt and nothing. Seriously. It was so bad. I had been discussing the product with my lactose-intolerant friends a few weeks earlier and the first thing I did was email them all saying "DO NOT BUY! NOT RECOMMENDED! YUCK!"

After that, I checked The PPK boards and saw that people suggested adding things like oil and garlic to it to get it to taste good. That's too much like cooking for instant food, IMO. If I'm going to start chopping things, I want the sense of pride I get from making a dish from scratch, not boxed macaroni and cheese.

Thankfully, my friend was released from the hospital on Wednesday and her mother took her directly upstate, so I was spared the embarrassment of either giving her the Shells & Chreese or explaining why I could not. I attempted to eat it myself because I hate to waste food, but over half of it went in the trash. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Channukkah!

I still have food from last week to discuss, but the holiday is almost over and I want to post this before I miss it.

Vegetable Menorahs! A cute idea, executed less than skillfully. I probably should have asked someone who can cut in a straight line to do it.

Made of butternut squash roasted with rosemary and thyme, zucchini roasted with garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and asparagus grilled with garlic and salt, according to the recommendations in Veganomicon.

And in case anyone's wondering, my parents got me a food processor for Channukkah and I love it. My life has changed already!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

My First "Ethnic" Dish

I can't believe I'm still posting about what I made Sunday on Friday.

Anyway, before I cooked the Big Family Dinner (now to be known as the BFD), I made my food for the week: Cornmeal-Masala Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spiced Yogurt Sauce over basmati rice, all from Veganomicon. This was my first time cooking with anything beyond the typical parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I'd picked up a couple of packets of garam masala at The Brooklyn Kitchen (they have a nice selection of spices, one tablespoon for $1. That way you get to work with the spice a little and see if you like it before committing to a whole jar. I love the idea. I used less than one packet in everything I made Sunday, so it may seem expensive, but it's actually not a bad value for spices that aren't usually used by the boatload) and was really excited to have the opportunity to use some.

See that picture up there? I wish you could taste it through your screen. Hell, I wish I could taste it through my screen because I ate the last of it on Wednesday and could go for more right this minute. I don't know when I'm going to make it again, though, because I'm trying to get myself to keep trying new things. But I will be making the Spiced Yogurt Sauce on Sunday to accompany a vegetable plate for my family's Channukkah party (I'll also be making other things, but my mother is bringing a dairy dip for the vegetables, so I decided to whip up something quick that I can eat too).

My family was not pleased when I told them I was making Brussels sprouts. My mother complained that the whole house would stink while my father whined that he hates Brussels sprouts (he had no answer when I pointed out this was to be my lunch for work, not for him. He's gotten used to having some of whatever I cook, which is great, really). I told them to shut up and wait until it was all done before complaining.

I'm not sure if I did the Brussels sprouts right. When I mixed everything together for the crumbs, I didn't get crumbs. I got a mush similar to the consistency of matzo ball batter (is it called batter?). I added some extra cornmeal and chickpea flour to dry it out a bit before adding it to the sprouts. I also kept them in the oven significantly longer than indicated in the recipe. This was partly because my mother kept saying "They can't be done, I don't smell them yet!" and partly because the crumbs didn't seem to get brown. I took them out of the oven when the sprouts' top leaf layer started scraping off when I mixed them around. I don't know if that's considered overdone, but I really liked the texture they came out, so I think I'll be using that as my personal guideline from now on.

The consistency of the sprouts was great, but the crumb topping was sometimes a bit too gritty for me. Again, I'm not sure if I did something wrong, but I felt like it was exfoliating my teeth. It wasn't uncomfortable to eat, but it did feel a bit weird. I probably just need to get used to it.

Tastewise, it was AMAZING. My father tasted one sprout after telling me a long story about his traumatic childhood sprout-related event and started laughing because he liked it so much (but not as much as the asparagus) and couldn't understand how something could taste like such crap when one person prepares it and so much awesome when someone else does. My mother really liked them and kept going on and on about how they taste like they came from a restaurant. My brother kept coming down to the kitchen to try to steal more while I was preparing dinner.

The Spiced Yogurt Sauce takes about 15 seconds to make and tastes just like the sauce you get at an Indian restaurant. I wanted to drink it out of the prep bowl (but didn't!). I've been putting it on everything, all week (it's great with the Brussels sprouts, other vegetables, bread and melba toast but didn't suit rice cakes so well).

And I love basmati rice. It's so buttery and fluffy and...perfect.

The funny part of all this is that as I started cooking, I asked my mother if she likes Indian food. She said no, of course. As soon as I opened the packet of garam masala, I thought "Oho! That's Indian food, right there, in this packet. This is going to be great" and held it up for my mother to smell. She liked it. And when I cooked everything, put it all together and had her taste it, she liked it. I asked her what happened, I thought she doesn't like Indian food. She shrugged and replied: "And I thought you couldn't make matzo ball soup without chicken and eggs, that asparagus is gross and cheese made from nuts is disgusting."