Category: Food & Recipes, Human

Cashew Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar Chunk Ice Cream

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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Like many of my recipes (especially ice cream recipes – though usually banana-based), this one was borne of a desire to clear out the fridge/freezer. (Spring cleaning, it’s about that time!) I had about a quarter of the messed-up Cashew Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar I made (or tried to make, rather) for Christmas sitting in the freezer, and I decided what better way to finish it off than mixed with ice cream? You can’t go wrong with ice cream. It’s just not possible.

So basically I just chopped the leftovers up and stirred stirred them into a batch of vanilla ice cream post-processing: easy peasy! You can do this with pretty much any baked good you’ve accidentally-on-purpose made a little too much of: cookie batter, cupcakes, granola bars, truffles, you name it.

While certain layers caught my attention more than others (namely the cashew cream and chocolate topping), the finished ice cream proved tasty enough that I’m thinking about turning these flavors into their own honest-to-goodness ice cream, no nanaimo bar required.

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Kelly’s (Formerly) Super-Secret, Slow-Simmered, Slightly Sweet and Very Savory Pasta Sauce

Friday, February 20th, 2015

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Back when I published my review of The Oh She Glows cookbook last March, I may or may not have bragged about my super-awesome, oh-so-secret, perfected after years of slow-simmering and taste-testing, epically awesome pasta sauce from scratch. The internet may or may not have begged me to publish said recipe. Okay, so several people requested it.

Since it’s something I usually whip up on the fly, I wanted to actually make a batch, writing down the steps as I went, rather than guessing at the amounts of ingredients and such. Fast-forward eleven months and I’m just now getting to it.

It’s been the perfect storm of events conspiring against me: for one, I just haven’t been eating pasta as much. And when I do make sauce from scratch, it’s the frozen tomatoes in the fridge that get the first priority, ingredients-wise; problem is, they’ve already been run through the food processor, cooked and seasoned, such that they’d totally throw off the recipe. Also, the recent preponderance of cookbook reviews means I haven’t had as much time for original experimentation.

And then there’s Peedee, aka cancer boy: diagnosed with lung cancer last March; chest cut open and tumor (seemingly successfully) removed in April; and now, after nine months of screening, with x-rays in three-month intervals, it seems the cancer’s back. He started chemo yesterday (which, at the time of this writing, is actually still several days away; ’tis the magic of the queue! Insert a quick wish for minimal side effects here.) So yeah, it’s been a pretty hectic year.

Okay! I didn’t mean to go so dark there! Let’s talk pasta sauce, shall we?

So the key to me dream pasta sauce is three-fold. First, simmer, simmer, simmer! This sauce takes at least two hours to make, preferably more. The longer you can keep it on the stove top, the richer and more nuanced the taste. This definitely isn’t a weeknight/work night meal dealio.

Secondly: don’t be stingy with the sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, garlic, basil, and/or oregano (those last two should always appear in a 3-to-1 ratio, by the way). These bad girls make the sauce.

Last but not least: conduct plenty of taste testing along the way. Re-season as necessary. Love your pasta sauce, and it will love you back.

Wait! I lied. There’s a fourth rule that I just realized should be a bona fide rule, on account of it’s uber-important: you simply MUST add the red peppers in two batches. The original ones cook so long that they break down a little and become one with the sauce, whereas the second batch stays nice and chunky and results in tiny explosions of sweet, tangy, and occasionally charred flavor. So, so good. My mouth is watering as I write this.

SO. In summary: no two of my sauces are exactly alike, but what follows is my best stab at a standard recipe. Enjoy!

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Product Review: Amy’s Daiya Cheese Pizza

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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Shane and I decided to extend our Halloween junk food/horror movie marathon tradition to Valentine’s Day, since once a year is not enough. We got a later start than usual, and only managed to fit five movies in, instead of our usual six or seven: Citadel, The Returned, State of Emergency, The Awakening, and Fido. Thanks to a spring roll and lo mien-fueled carb overload, I started nodding off during Citadel, which actually wasn’t half bad (Aneurin Barnard, meow!); but of the five, The Returned proved my favorite by a long shot. But I digress.

In honor of the occasion, we finally broke out those Amy’s brand Daiya cheese pizzas that we scored from Natural Grocers waaaay back in November. You know what that means: frozen pizza review time!

When I first cracked it open, I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed. More cheese, please!

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And then Shane gently and somewhat bemusedly reminded me that we tend to load up our pizzas with a ridic amount of cheese, and maybe this frozen pizza is being more reasonable than me? I begrudgingly agreed, and then proceeded to load it up with more cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), along with a heaping helping of veggies: onions, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, and red peppers.

I baked it as directed, and then five or ten minutes longer. I forget, because Bridesmaids was on and commanding my attention. Basically I let it go until the crust got nice and crispy and the cheese was bubbling like a Jacuzzi.

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Amy’s crust has always been my favorite – that is, up until I tried the Vegan Harvest pizza from American Flatbread. Now it’s first runner up, but with a very honorable mention. (I mean, flatbread. There’s just no beating that.)

So it’s tricky to accurately rate a pizza after altering it so drastically, but I’ll try. The crust, as we’ve already established, is aces. I would have liked to have seen more cheese, but it’s more or less (okay, slightly less) in line with other frozen pizzas. The pizza itself has a very strong basil taste – so much so that at first I thought they’d hidden a layer of pesto in there somewhere. But nope, it’s just basil. Potent like whoah. Not bad, but a little obtrusive maybe? Especially if you aren’t in the mood for it.

Size: 4/5. As per usual, the pizza is slightly smaller than the box. Still large enough that I was only able to finish 3/4 in one sitting.

Crust: 5/5. Like it, love it, gotta have it, wanna be it.

Sauce: 4/5. Enough to get the job done.

Cheese: 4/5. It’s a Daiya Cheese Pizza, y’all! Emphasis on Daiya. Load ‘er up!

Toppings: 3/5. Ease up on the basil, mkay?

Overall: 4/5. Daiya cheese + Amy’s crust = my OTP. Replace the basil with more cheese and you’ve got yourself a perfect 5-star rating.

And now, because we were talking movies earlier, this is usually how movie night goes down at the Garbato-Brady house:

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One bowl of popcorn for me, one bowl for the dogs. (They don’t really care for my salt and vinegar seasoning.) Shane? He’s on his own.

Matcha Cookies!

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

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I needed to think of something to make other than green tea ice cream to test this new brand of matcha I received for review, so I had pretty much the best idea ever: Matcha Cookies! Or St. Patty’s Day Snickerdoodles, if you prefer.

The recipe is modeled on the Snickerdoodle cookies in The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. You can find the recipe after the jump, but basically I just swapped out the cinnamon flavoring for matcha powder (two tablespoons, to be exact).

I was a little stumped on the coating – Snickerdoodles are rolled in cinnamon sugar prior to baking – but I decided to use almond flour in place of cinnamon, because I love the pairing of almond with green tea. White on green lacks the visual punch of brown on white, but it’s pretty tasty nonetheless – and that’s what really counts, yeah?

If you don’t have any almond flour, just use plain sugar instead! Or reduce the vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon and add a teaspoon of almond extract to get your fix.

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Cream of “Broccoli Hates You” Soup

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

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Now that the holidays have passed, I’m concentrating all my foodie efforts on finishing up that review of Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy. To wit: yesterday I made a batch of Cream of Broccoli Soup, with a few notable changes:

a) Instead of adding the onions and garlic near the end of the cook cycle, I sauteed them in a bit of oil first and then kept them in the pot, along with the split peas/lentils. Tasty!

b) I swapped out the split peas (I’m allergic!) for green lentils. I think they worked okay; the soup has a fairly greenish hue, don’t you think? Plus they don’t have to cook nearly as long as the peas, so bonus.

The result was okay; certainly not the tastiest soup I’ve ever had (even just from this particular cookbook), but not the worst either (that distinction would go to French Onion, which I thought I’d love but totally loathed). It’s a little on the bland side and could use a few extra spices to mix things up. Also, I bet some green beans would be a nice addition, and green the soup up a bit.

I do loved creamed soups, on account of you can get them started hours in advance and just let everything simmer until you’re ready to blend and eat. No need to worry about overcooking, you know?

Unfortunately, the broccoli wreaked havoc on my intestines (hence the title of this post). Well, it was either that or the chickpea salad I had earlier in the day. Probably both.

Note to self: only splurge on one gas-making meal in one day.

The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2014 edition!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

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You guys, I baked so many cookies this year, I’m having trouble keeping track of them all! In addition to sending a basketful to our omni neighbors, I also mailed a giant box to my parents. They’re in the midst of a remodel, and the entire first floor of their house is pretty much unusable. Luckily my mom’s sis is conveniently located next door, so they’re been crashing at her house a lot.

(Fun story: I sent all their gifts to my aunt’s house – since they’d have to lug everything over there anyway – and Every. Single. Package. was delivered to my parents’ house instead. I.E. THE WRONG HOUSE. I expected that of USPS, but UPS? COME ON GUYS.)

Still, I thought cookies would be a nice gesture, seeing as they don’t have a kitchen of their own at the moment.

Plus we got to eat the extras our own bad selves, so bonus.

As per usual, most of the cookies were from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which I pinky swear I’ll review this year. I had a few pretty epic fails, but overall I’m happy with my progress – I get better and better at cookies every year!

 

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Bacon Maple Biscuits for the dogs from Emma’s K9 Kitchen. With accidentally vegan bacon bits & lots of love! These smelled amazing when baking, but also lost their festive reddish hue. Not that the dogs much care. (The giant ones are for my mom’s big guy, Copper.)

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Mini-Review: The Pizza Bible, Tony Gemignani (2014)

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A Vegan Perspective

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

I went vegetarian in 1996, vegan in the mid-aughts, and have been allergic to milk my entire life. And I love pizza! (Yes, vegan pizza exists. And it is glorious!) Whether it’s a quick pita or French bread pizza, or a complicated, labor-intensive original gourmet dealio (mac & cheese pizza, anyone?), my husband and I enjoy pizza at least once a week. I have a tumblr dedicated to vegan pizza (along with my other favorite, vegan ice cream), and Vegan Pizza Day is a legit holiday in my house. Some of my coziest childhood memories involve making pizza from scratch with my mom, a routine we revisit every time I return home.

I picked up a copy of Tony Gemignani’s The Pizza Bible in hopes of upping my pizza game. While I didn’t have any illusions that the recipes would be vegan-friendly (although, in a book dubbed the Bible, I don’t think it’s altogether unreasonable to expect the author to at least mention alternative pizzas, whether they be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or raw; “Bible” implies exhaustivity, no?), I thought that perhaps some of the dough recipes might be accidentally vegan. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed on this front!

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe, Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda (2014)

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

A Celebration of Vegan Food

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Blogging for Books program.)

As with many renowned vegan eateries, NYC’s Candle Café is a restaurant I’ve coveted from afar, salivating over the many mouth-watering dishes photographed, enjoyed, and shared by vegan friends and acquaintances on Instagram, tumblr, and other social media outlets. (I have five dogs who I love to pieces – but they kind of put a damper on my travel plans.) Luckily, the burgeoning vegan cookbook market – and the increasing number of cookbooks released by popular vegan restaurants, such as Candle Café, The Chicago Vegan Diner, and Jivamuktea Café – has made it possible to enjoy even the most upscale menus from the comfort of your own kitchen. Hasta la vista, age of vicarious living!

Candle Café ups the ante with Vegan Holiday Cooking, a special cookbook chock full of holiday-themed menus. While this isn’t the first vegan holiday cookbook on the market (there’s also Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin, as well as Zel Allen’s Vegan for the Holidays), Vegan Holiday Cooking is unique in its focus: rather than concentrating solely on the “big” holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – Pierson, Ramos, and Pineda extend their celebration across the calendar.

The book includes ten menus for a variety of occasions, including the Super Bowl; the Lunar New Year; Valentine’s Day; Passover; Easter; Cinco de Mayo; the Fourth of July; Thanksgiving; Christmas; and New Year’s Eve. Each menu receives roughly the same amount of attention – the 4th of July and Christmas both merit 18 pages of coverage! – resulting in a holiday cookbook with great depth and variety.

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Candle Cafe’s Snowball Cookies

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

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Baked goods are always a little risky for me – cookies especially, which is tragic because I love them SO MUCH – which is why I usually stick to tried and true cookbooks. (See, e.g., Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which I really should review one of these years.) But the Snowball Cookies in Vegan Holiday Cooking looked so tempting that I just couldn’t help myself. Caution, meet wind.

The results are a little mixed. While the cookies themselves are pretty easy to make and taste amazing, the chocolate icing (? ganache? glaze?) proved a bit of a mess. It was thin and runny and didn’t set on the cookies AT ALL, even after fifteen minutes in the fridge. Plus the recipe made at least three times more chocolate than was necessary, and now I’m stuck with an entire pint of extra chocolate sauce. Not the worst problem, but still.

In the end I added about 1/4 cup of cornstarch to thick the sauce up; while it still transformed the cookies into a sticky mess, it was much more manageable (and tastier) than the previous wet mess that was the test cookie. Next time I’ll probably just skip the recommended sauce altogether and use a magic chocolate shell or some kind of chocolate (or not! the eggnog flavor from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur would go great on snowballs!) icing instead.

Kahlua Ice Cream

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

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I eat so much ice cream, y’all, that’s it’s difficult to come up with new flavors to try! This one was inspired by the Irish Cream recipe in The Vegan Scoop, which turned my attention toward the liquor cabinet, and the many wonderful boozy flavors I’ve yet to experiment with. I know that ice cream’s kind of out this season, but methinks this would make an excellent dessert for a vegan Christmas/New Year’s bash. And yes, Kahlua is vegan!

Kahlua Ice Cream

(Makes a little under a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

2 cups soy creamer, plain or vanilla
1 cup soy milk, plain or vanilla, divided
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua + extra to taste (I used 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon)

Directions

1. In a small mug, combine 1/4 cup of the soy milk with the arrowroot powder. Whisk well and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the soy creamer, remaining soy milk, sugar, and 1/4 cup Kahlua. Heat on medium-high, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and add the arrowroot slurry immediately, whisking well. This should cause the milk to thicken noticeably. Taste the batter and add extra Kahlua to taste.

3. Cover and transfer to a fridge to chill for six to eight hours or, better yet, overnight.

4. To make the ice cream, process the batter according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Enjoy immediately as soft serve or transfer to the freezer for a firmer dessert.

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Candle Cafe’s Wheat Ball Heroes – and a Pita Pizza!

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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I’m pretty sure I don’t eat enough sandwiches. Or at least not compared to my high school years. I used to have a sammie a day, like clockwork, and now I’m lucky if I make one or two a month. Adulthood, man. (On the plus side, I eat so much pizza and ice cream that my mom would be appalled if she knew. IF ONLY.)

I decided to rectify this oversight with the Wheat Ball Heroes from Vegan Holiday Cooking – one of the last recipes I’ll try before finally getting around to a review! (Just in time for the holidays, yay!) The recipe involves making both your own wheat balls and marinara sauce from scratch, but seeing as I had a bunch of homemade sauce in the freezer, I took a bit of a shortcut there. fwiw, the Candle Cafe’s marinara sauce recipe looks pretty solid; I’m sure it’s delish.

As for the wheat balls, they’re really tasty, but also rather troublesome. They’re made of seitan (homemade, using the Simple Simmered Seitan recipe from Vegan on the Cheap!),

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fried onions and garlic, bread crumbs, and assorted seasonings. After mixing the batter in the food processor, it turns into a crumbly mixture, which you’re supposed to form into little balls and bake. The dough didn’t hold together quite as well as I hoped, even after adding a little extra oil and a splash of water. Some balls took multiple tries, and still imploded while in the oven. To wit:

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Candle Cafe’s Potato Gratin

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

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I’d say that these Potatoes Gratin from Vegan Holiday Cooking are kickin’ it, but it’s hard to go wrong with potatoes and cheese. Like, next to impossible.

So this is a fairly standard recipe as far as Potato Gratin goes – though I guess it’s been awhile since I made it, so grain of salt. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered with mozzarella Daiya cheese, topped with breadcrumbs, and kept moist with soy milk seasoned with chives, parsley, salt, and pepper. During baking, the cheese melds with the soy milk to create a wonderfully creamy mozzarella sauce.

Since I wasn’t sure how many layers of potatoes I would end up with, it proved difficult to evenly distribute the two cups of cheese throughout the dish. In the end I underestimated and only used about a cup of cheese. Though I still think two full cups is maybe a little excessive (blasphemy!), my potatoes could’ve used more cheese. Maybe next time I’ll shoot for a cup and a half?

The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe were the breadcrumbs. Or rather, the bottom layer of breadcrumbs, which became gummy and adhered to the bottom of the pan during baking. Even Peedee, after an hour of frantic licking, couldn’t dislodge all the chunks. If you’re trying this recipe, definitely throw all the breadcrumbs on the top – and broil the dish before serving for extra golden crispy good measure!

Candle Cafe’s Quinoa Vegetable Cakes

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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I’m a sucker for homemade veggie patties, and the Quinoa Vegetable Cakes from Vegan Holiday Cooking are among the tastiest I’ve ever had! Technically they’re a “cake,” not a burger, but they’re pretty much the perfect size for slapping between two slices of bread, so there you go.

The batter is a mix of quinoa, onions, carrots, and red peppers, half of which you blend into a mash using a food processor (resulting in the burgers’ psychedelic neon orange color). Add breadcrumbs, shape into patties, and bake!

The primary spice is cilantro, which made me a little nervous; I’m not the biggest fan (tastes like soap!). To my surprise, the cilantro isn’t at all overwhelming, and actually adds a rather nice flavor to the finished patties.

You’re supposed to bake these bad girls at 350F for ten minutes, after which time they should be nice and crispy. Mine weren’t, even after twenty minutes in the oven, so I cranked the heat up to 400F to get the job done: about ten minutes on each side. (The recipe also doesn’t say anything about flipping, but that’s the only way I could get both sides nice and crispy.) The next time I make these, I’ll go right to 400 degrees; ten to fifteen minutes on each side ought to do it.

These are freaking amazing when served with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mustard, and Vegenaise (pictured above) – and even better when you swap out the fresh vettable topping from friend onions and mushrooms. YUM.

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

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This flavor was inspired by Purely Decadent’s Cherry Nirvana flavor which, according to the internets, has been discontinued. (Boo!) Not that it much matters to me; while Kansas City is home to a surprising number of health food stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Green Acres, to name a few), their selection of vegan foods is uniformly sucky. Just before Halloween Shane trekked down to Overland Park in search of So Delicious’s holiday-flavored ice cream pops (Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn), and he came home empty-handed. Also MIA: Amy’s Daiya Cheese Pizzas; Nayonaise; and Tofurky frozen pockets. WTF!

/ rant.

Anyway, this Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream is in Cherry Nirvana’s ballpark, but I came up just short of nailing it. The cherry flavor isn’t quite the same, possibly because So Delicious uses a higher-quality cherry extract than I. But the chocolate-covered cherry bits are gangbusters! Pro tip: you may want to make extra for snacking.

The frozen ice cream proved difficult to scoop, but that was totally on account of the frozen bits of chocolatey goodness; the ice cream itself is smooth and creamy. For easier scooping, you can set the chocolate cherries aside and sprinkle them atop the ice cream just prior to serving. Either way. Awesome.

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Sweet Potato Latke Fail!

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

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After a pretty respectable streak in the kitchen, I encountered an epic fail with the most unlikely of suspects: latkes, which don’t usually prove much of a challenge at all. The Sweet Potato Latkes from Vegan Holiday Cooking – a 50/50 blend of shredded sweet and russet potatoes that looks so amazing in the gourmet food photo from the cookbook – came out more like hash browns. These guys could not hold a patty shape to save their lives. Like, not even close. I put a ball of batter in my palm to flatten it out, and it just crumbled everywhere. Not to mention, they didn’t even rival the neon orange color of the latkes pictured in the book.

Not wishing to waste four potatoes (or all the effort spent grating them), I did the obvious thing: made them into baked hash browns! Basically I followed the alt. baking instructions, adding about 15 minutes to the recommended bake time. Since I needed two cookie sheets to hold all the potatoes, I tried a little experiment: the first cookie sheet I lined with parchment paper, while I lightly sprayed the other with Pam. The results? Nearly identical. Go figure.

You’re supposed to top the mini latkes with a dab o’ almond creme fraiche – but, seeing as the recipe is so similar to the one featured in the Roasted Squash Soup – i.e., the one that already didn’t work for me once – I skipped it altogether. Good thing, since there were no latkes in need of garnishing after all!

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For what it’s worth, the leftover potatoes made a wonderful add-in for a tofu scramble. Pictured above is a scramble with mushrooms, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and about a cup of hash browns (fried separately for maximum crispiness). So good, I’m not even 100% sure I can call this a fail.

Candle Cafe’s Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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Another hella tasty soup from Vegan Holiday Cooking! The title’s pretty self-explanatory: the base consists of roasted cauliflower (2 heads) seasoned with fennel (3 bulbs). Simply roast the cauliflower and fennel, then cook it with the soup stock for bit; blend and serve! I couldn’t find any fennel bulbs locally, so I used a mix of dried fennel seeds and ground fennel instead: 2 teaspoons of seeds and 1 teaspooon ground fennel.

If you want to be extra-fancy, you can serve it with truffle oil to garnish.

Deluxe Tofu Scramble

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

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Okay, so, confession time: I did not follow this recipe – found in Simple Recipes for Joy – to the letter. I tried, I really did, but I just could not bring myself to mix the spices in the 4 to 5 recommended tablespoons of water before adding them to the tofu scramble. The tofu of which? IS NOT PRESSED! Madness, right?

I don’t know about you guys, but I usually have a problem with too much moisture in my scrambles – especially if I add veggies with a high water content, like mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Granted, this recipe calls for none of these things (though I did add a little of each, in the interest of cleaning out my fridge), but still. Four tablespoons? That’s a lot of water, yo! I would say try one tops, since the recipe is absent the one tablespoon of soy sauce I usually use. But no more!

Otherwise I really liked this Deluxe Tofu Scramble. The spices are a mix of cumin, nutritional yeast, tumeric, thyme, paprika, chili powder, salt, parsley, and coriander – which is a new one for me. The taste is a little fresh and different from what I’m used to. Definitely gonna remember coriander for my next impromptu scramble!

Candle Cafe’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tofu Dumplings Potato Gnocchi

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

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This might be my all-time favorite soup, you guys. AND I FREAKING LOVE SOUP! It’s like Candle Cafe’s roasted red pepper pasta sauce, but drinkable!

So there are four roasted red peppers in this bad girl, along with corn (I didn’t have any peas, so I doubled up), leeks (or scallions, in my case), onions, veggie stock, and basil. The recipe includes instructions for making your own tofu dumplings by hand, but I took a shortcut by using premade potato gnocchi instead. It turned out aces.

I’m not gonna lie; after my last red pepper fiasco, I was a little nervous about roasting my own, even if my method had served me well up until last week. But I seeded and sliced the peppers as usual, divided the slices between two glass baking pans, drizzled them with about a tablespoon of olive oil each, and then roasted at 425F for about 40 minutes. The skins? Peeled right off. Smooth as silk! Or whatever the vegan equivalent is. Satin, maybe?

I reused the roasting oils – now infused with sweet peppery goodness – in the soup. Zero waste! (I even left the skins to the insects outside.)

Cookbook Review: Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope Romero (2013)

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

“What if the world was vegan?”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this cookbook for review from the publisher.)

Wherever it’s eaten, meat basically remains the same – it’s plant foods that transport our senses. Apply those flavors to vegan staples such as seitan or tofu and even straight-up vegetables, and the possibilities? If not endless, pretty darned expansive.

As a semi-reformed fussy eater, I was both nervous and excited when Da Capo Press offered me a copy of Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet for review. (Waaaay back in May, to celebrate the book’s release in paperback. I’m SO SORRY it took as long as it did, you guys!) Nervous because I knew that many of the recipes contained therein would fall outside my comfort zone and challenge me to try new things – and excited for the same.

The recipes in Vegan Eats World run the gamut: there’s everything from soups and sammies to spring rolls, dumplings, and pierogies. Crepes, breads, and pies, of both the sweet and savory persuasions. Tofu scrambles, gyros, curries, and noodles. French tarts, Greek lasagna, Ethiopian tortes, and Egyptian soup. Romero traverses the globe in search of traditional dishes to veganize and otherwise “hack,” combining different ingredients and foodstuffs in exciting and unconventional ways. The result is a hodgepodge of recipes which hail from South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and are as mouth-watering as they are varied. There’s literally something for everyone here!

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Candle Cafe’s Homemade Pappardelle with Spinach, Portabello Mushrooms, and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

2014-10-26 - VHC Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - 0005 [flickr]

Confession time: I did not make this pasta from scratch! I am way too lazy for that. However, the roasted red pepper sauce is homemade (do they even sell such a thing in stores?), and furthermore I roasted and peeled the peppers all by my little lonesome. And it took forever, I might add!

Usually I seed and slice them prior to roasting, which is always in olive oil and a glass baking dish. (The olive oil is awesome for reuse in pasta dishes, since it’s infused with pepper juices!) With this method, the peels practically fall off the roasted pepper slices.

This recipe instructed me to spray the whole peppers in Pam, roast them, and then seed, slice, and peel. Instead I compromised by seeding and slicing them, spraying them lightly with Pam, roasting them, and then peeling them once cool. Or at least I tried to: after 40 minutes in the oven, the edges had crisped up so much that the skins were basically melded onto the peppers. It took me 45 minutes and much finagling just to peel half of them! After that I tried a Hail Mary: I roasted them a second time in olive oil, like I would normally. That helped to loosen the skins from the edges a bit, but it was still a struggle to get them all off. Never again! From now on it’s olive oil for this girl and her peppers. (Though I’m sure the other method would have worked well too. Or at least better than the weird Frankenstein process I came up with.)

ANYWAY. The resulting sauce was crazy delicious. I threw some cornstarch in there to thicken things up, but otherwise I followed the recipe to a T. As for the spinach/mushroom mix, I did include spinach but chose not to cook it. (Wilty greens, ew!)

SO GOOD. I need to make red pepper sauce more often, y’all.