Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year's eve!

Here's to a happy and healthy 2008 for all of you. May it be filled with love, laughter, friends, and loads of delicious food!

For my final post of 2007, I decided to go back through the last year and bring you my favorite posts from each month. These are the posts that were the funnest, most memorable, most commented-upon, or just plain the most delicious. I hope you enjoy them, and I can't wait for another year in vegan blogland with all of you!


January: Friday Detox Food Round Up (Daiku and I followed this wonderful detox last January, and learned a lot from the experience. If you are planning on overhauling your diet and your environment in the new year, The Great American Detox Diet by Alex Jamieson ook is a great place to start)

February: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (while Daiku and I didn't get to spend Valentine's Day together, we did get to enjoy this healthy and romantic V-day meal. I have just two words for you: vegan ceviche!)

March: Thank You, Fellow Bloggers! (In this post, I showcased some recipes from your blogs- many of which have become all-time favorite menu staples - you guys have to try them too! Some of the best food we eat is inspired by you, fellow bloggers.)

April: I've FOUND it! (This post is among my favorites, because I remember the joy that went into it. Plus, vegan ice cream- can we ever really have enough?)

May: This Meal Took 2 Years To Make! (The funny and ridiculous story of our little lemon, the one that took two years to grow, and ended up in a yummy Moroccan-style dinner)

June: Farmer's Market Bounty (Even though I had lots of fun in June, visited a lot of places and experienced Puerto Rico for the first time, this post has a soft place in my heart. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of the exuberant joy of early summer- when the world and the market explode with color, energy, and promise. I can't wait to experience this feeling again!)

July: Take This Trend... and Eat It (The post about food trends. I think about this issue a lot, especially when some new food product is marketed as the latest and newest thing. Sometimes, the oldest, least trendy foods can be the best)

August: Follow Us as We Follow the Hudson River (This isn't just one of my favorite memories of August, it's one of my favorite memories of 2007. The day when Daiku and I left the sweltering heat of New York City and took the long and scenic way home to Syracuse, experiencing 10 hours of new sights, sounds, and foods along the way.)

September: The Sourdough Post (Was there any doubt? Getting the gift of a sourdough starter, and getting to bake delicious breads and other goodies is hands-down one of the best things that has happened to me this past year!)

October: Picking Apart Apple Picking (honoring Blog Action Day by celebrating the joys of local eating... and the self-satisfied idiocy of Slate Magazine)

November: Maxine's Mexican Casserole (it was difficult to pick my favorite VeganMoFo post, but this one would have to be it. Seeing Maxine's story, and thinking about all the animals in this world who undergo unimaginable suffering still makes me cry, and still inspires me)

What do you think? Did I pick the best posts? Do you have any favorite "Where's The Revolution" moments from 2007?...

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

quick snapshots of SoCal eats

Well, I've been in L.A. for almost two weeks, and have been eating well. The photos are piling up! Allow me to send you some snapshot postcards of the food of the last couple of weeks, with very brief descriptions. My friends and family have been kind enough to take me to plenty of vegan and vegan-friendly places, so I'll have a lot more to say about these restaurants in later posts. For now, let's look at...

...nachos, portobello burger, and pizza margherita at Native Foods in Costa Mesa...

...edamame and veggie rolls at a sushi place in Woodland Hills...

...rosebud tea with boba (black tapioca pearls) at Cha for Tea in Irvine...

...jack fruit turned into 2 delectable creations - carnitas for a Mexican-style torta sandwich and pulled pork barbeque sandwich (open and shut) - and veggie wraps at Pure Luck in L.A.... (whoever thought to make jack fruit into vegan pork is a genius and a saint, that's all I have to say. I can't wait to get back home and try to replicate this!)

...then across the street for vegan ice cream at Scoops (lemon jasmine flavor- yum!)...

... Wildwood soy yogurt, that I hadn't been able to get my hands on in Syracuse...

... and last, but not least, tons and TONS of fruit! Daiku and I have been gorging ourselves on the produce that we miss in Syracuse, that is abundant and cheap here in southern California. Fresh-squeezed citrus juice in the mornings, buckets of pomegranate juice, melons, smoothies, persimmons, not to mention all the orange and tangerine trees that I'd forgotten about. We are building up reserves of taste and memory for our inevitable return to the east coast and our snow-covered city...

I will have a lot more to write about our time in L.A.- the people we're meeting, the foods and restaurants we're getting to try, and everything else, in future posts. For now, I hope you enjoyed the photos!


Monday, December 24, 2007

happy holidays

We hope that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, that you are having a joyous and peaceful winter holiday season.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

holiday baking and gifting

view from our bedroom window-Toto, we're not in Syracuse any more...

Last week, right before we left Syracuse, I did a marathon day of cookie baking, and here is what I made:

chocolate-drizzled samoas

peanuttiest blondies, courtesy of Vegan Diva- we also made these last year, and they are Daiku's favorites

lemon-poppyseed cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan- these were awesome!

mini chocolate-chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance

Here is the completed selection (along with My Sweet Vegan's pfeffernusse and VwaV ginger cookies). Do you notice a problem...? While all the cookies tasted great, they were all practically the same shade of beige! This happened to me last year, too. I will have to do something about it next year!

So far, we have given these cookies to our families on the east coast, the west coast, and everywhere in between, and they all seem to love them. Success!

Also sticking with our home-made, minimalist holiday aesthetic are these chai kits that we have given to friends:

The trick to making homemade chai kits (or similarly, mulling spice kits) is to find a good source of bulk spices. In my case, I used organic cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, candied ginger, nutmeg, and dried orange zest. I put these together along with some black tea (bulk black tea from Iran) in unbleached teabags, and some instructions, and voilà! An easy and fun way for our friends to brew themselves something warm and comforting. I think you can make chai kits with any kind of tea you want- I bet rooibos would go well, or something herbal, or green...

Speaking of gifting, I was so happy to finally meet Textual Bulldog in real life last week! And I was beyond happy when she gave us a huge tin of holiday cookies:

including chocolate chip, chocolate walnut, (not pictured, because we ate them too quickly!) iced sugar cookies, and the piece de resistance: chocolate cookies with crushed Trader Joe's candy cane joe-joe's! These were genius cookies. And notice how she, unlike me, managed to bake colorful and non-monochromatic cookies. Thank you, TB!

This is a good time to talk about one of my favorite baking ingredients- Frontier brand fair trade vanilla that I buy in bulk from the food co-op. This has changed my baking- I can never go back to regular vanilla extract. This stuff is so good, and has such a pure, strong flavor. It is suspended in glycerin instead of alcohol, so it's thicker and heavier- I usually use half of the vanilla called for in a recipe. The result is a baked good with a soft, round, mellow yet assertive vanilla flavor, with none of the sharp, overpowering, cloying, or artificial notes of other vanilla extracts that I have tried. If you come across this vanilla, give it a try. Like me, you may never go back.

Happy holiday baking and gifting, everybody! I'm continually in awe of all your fantastic, home-made goodies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

book review: My Sweet Vegan

Greetings from Los Angeles! I can't believe that almost 10 days have gone by since I last blogged, but time just kind of got away from me in the whirlwind of writing, packing, grading, cleaning, baking, and traveling that was the past week. Now, things have calmed down and Daiku and I have 3 weeks to get our hands on all the vegan food goodness that southern California has to offer, so I can relax and catch up on blogging.

My first post is about something I'm very excited about- My Sweet Vegan, the new cookbook written by the lovely and talented Hannah of BitterSweet. I had been waiting for this book to come out ever since getting to know Hannah through her photos and blog over the summer, and so didn't hesitate when asked to write a review of the book.

This book caps a great year for vegan cookbooks, and makes me believe that vegan baking has truly come into its own. There is simply no reason to ever think that "decadent vegan" or "vegan dessert" are oxymorons any more! Even though it was difficult deciding what to make from this book first, the fact that I received it in the middle of holiday baking narrowed down the field a bit. Daiku and I noticed that Hannah included a recipe for Pfeffernusse - traditional German spice cookies laced with anise. Between Daiku's German heritage and my love of all things anise, we knew that these cookies would be added to the rotation.

Here they are going into the oven. While they were baking, they filled the house with an indescribable scent- sweet, spicy, evocative of everything that is good about the holidays.

Here they are after baking and covered with powdered sugar. These cookies exceeded expectations in both taste and texture. Fluffy yet chewy, full of the scent of anise and other flavors, they were a great twist on the traditional ginger holiday cookie. My uncle, who used to live in Germany, loved them. So did my mom, who is not even a big fan of anise- ok, she hates the stuff! But she loved the cookie!

Here are just a few of the recipes that I hope to make from My Sweet Vegan soon:
  • orange hazelnut biscotti
  • ginger dream pie
  • coconut custard pie
  • baklava tart
  • root beer float cupcakes
  • poppy seed cupcakes with lemon curd filling
This is a book you'll want to read both in and out of the kitchen- the elegant photographs, informative text, and skillful recipes will give you a lot to enjoy. My only warning is this- if you are easily sent into existential crises, you might start freaking out that an 18 year-old college student has written this book and set the bar higher for all of us! Try to get over the angst though, and reward yourself by trying a recipe or 3 from this book.

Congratulations, Hannah!

(check out My Sweet Vegan on

Soon to come- more holiday baking, quick meals, and of course, posts about traveling and eating in Southern California, my former home. Have a great day, everybody!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

simple foods for harried times

I am a little guilty, because as the holiday season gets into full swing, I feel like I should be posting fancy, gift-worthy recipes on this blog. Alas, that is not possible right now! Daiku and I are dealing with giving and grading finals (him), finishing a chapter of a dissertation with a tight deadline (me), and trying to plan and pack for our upcoming 4 weeks of traveling! As many of you probably know from first-hand experience, this is a recipe for stress. So, as the awesome and fancy recipes I see on everyones' blogs and in all the new cookbooks stack up on our "to-make" pile, Daiku and I have been eating very simply with an eye to a) quickness and ease of preparation and b) finishing up what we have in the house.

So, this blog post will be about some quick and simple recipes that use a lot of normal ingredients, but somehow manage to be marginally healthy as well.

First up, tempeh reubens! This has always been one of my favorite foods, but we only got around to making it at home recently, and it was awesome. We used this recipe from The Vegan Cooking School website, but changed around some ingredients and the sauce a little bit. You would not believe the smells that were wafting through the kitchen as the tempeh baked!

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

One 8 oz. Package Tempeh, sliced into sandwich sized pieces
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caraway
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Cup Sauerkraut
1/4 Cup cooked cannelini beans
1 Tablespoons veganaise (vegan mayo)
2 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons minced pickles
2 tsp teaspoon lemon juice
thin slices of red onion
Sandwich bread, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl combine water, soy sauce, cumin, caraway, mustard, garlic and oil and whisk together. (I used the Magic Bullet to blend everything together) Place tempeh in a baking dish and pour marinade over it. Bake in oven uncovered for 40 minutes. (It will look like you have a lot of marinade, but the tempeh will absorb most of it during the baking process) When finished cooking tempeh will be dark and should be removed from any excess liquid. Place on a separate dish and set aside.

Place sauerkraut in a small frying pan over a low heat to warm through. You want the sauerkraut to be warm for the sandwich but not burned so keep the flame low!

Make the Russian dressing by combining the cannelini beans, veganaise, ketchup, pickles and lemon juice and mixing thoroughly. (Using the beans gave the dressing plenty of body, but allowed us to cut down the fat quite a bit) Now to assemble this tasty sandwich: Place bread on a plate. Spread a tablespoon of the Russian dressing on and add the tempeh. Add the warmed sauerkraut, sprouts, onion and place the other piece of bread on top.

These sandwiches were wonderful, savory, and filling, and the leftovers made quick lunches to take to school the next day.

The next recipe I have is so easy, that it's a bit ridiculous to post it, really. But I figured when you're hurried (and maybe your kitchen isn't as neat and orderly as you'd like, and you don't want to mess up any more dishes, and you don't have time to bake, and you're running out of ingredients... you get the picture!) you might still want a quick sweet morsel to pop into your mouth and so I bring you...

Bazu's Chocolate Butterscotch Oat Bundlies (beginning to mouth in under 15 minutes!)

Ready for the ridiculous recipe? Here goes:

Take a handful of chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate
Take a handful of butterscotch chips (or peanut butter, white chocolate, or more regular chocolate chips)
Put these in a small deep bowl or mug with a splash of your milk of choice

Microwave for about 20 - 40 seconds until mostly melted, then whisk with a spoon until thoroughly melted, uniform, and mixed.

Now take a couple of fistfuls of quick (important - these won't work as well with old-fashioned) oats and stir into the melted chocolate until well-incorporated.

Now, using a spoon, take little round bundles of this mixture and drop on a plate or small cookie sheet, and stick in the freezer for about 5 - 8 minutes. (Just enough time to brew some tea or coffee, actually)

Take out of freezer, allow to thaw for just a moment or two, and pop into your mouth! This recipe really is greater than the sum of its parts. The chocolate re-solidifies wonderfully and you feel like you're eating something between a cookie and a candy, and the oats let you believe you're being kinda sorta healthy- it's a win-win!

Sometimes, Daiku and I just give up and order pizza. We do this really infrequently, and you know things are overwhelming when we do. I just had to show you this his-n-hers veg-n-notvegan pizza with cheese on one side and no cheese on the other, since it looks pretty funny. We had a coupon, so this large pizza came to $6, not too bad. Oh, and while it's horribly unhealthy, Papa John's garlic sauce is, indeed, vegan, so file that under "desperate times call for desperate food"... moving on!

Finally, we have tea. Specifically, what you see above is "Casablanca Twist" from Adagio Teas, a mixture of green tea and mint leaves. Woah- this stuff is so strong and has such pure flavor! It's a wonderful mixture of energizing and soothing for when you're studying, writing, grading, packing, you know, all the good stuff! Mint tea is also great for digestion, say, for when you eat take-out pizza... The ever-wonderful Celine was kind enough to hook me up with Adagio teas by sending me a gift certificate. Now that I've ordered from the site (after a few weeks of browsing, drooling, and trying to decide what to get!) the site will let me send gift certificates to whoever I want. So, if you want a $5 off coupon for Adagio, just leave me your name and email address in the comments and I will send one to you immediately. I think I want to try the Valentine's Day blend next (it's tea with bits of chocolate-dipped strawberries- how crazy wonderful does that sound??) Thanks, Celine!

I hope you are all getting through this season with your sanity and sense of humor intact!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

spicy 'n sweet maple-y nuts

Just popping in for a quick post- I can never bear to let the blog sit idle for long! Here is a recipe for some spicy and sweet nuts. I made these for the first time for our Halloween party, and they were so good they've become a favorite around here. This is a perfect dish for this time of year, when everyone can use a quick, easy, and healthy snacky food for parties and get-togethers, plus now is a great time to stock up on nuts in their shells since most stores carry them in time for the holidays.

I got the inspiration for this recipe here at 28 cooks, but made quite a few changes. The combination of mapley sweetness and spice is perfect, and the nuts become really crunchy and caramelized. Oh and bonus- nuts are great brain food, perfect for studying for those final exams and powering through those term papers! Just sayin'...

spicy 'n sweet maple-y nuts
  • 2 c raw nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts, but mix it up according to your favorites!)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c maple sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. agave nectar, as necessary (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of pepper and/or cayenne pepper

In large pan, combine walnuts and sugar over medium high heat. I used my cast-iron pan for this. Stir frequently until sugar starts to melt. At first, it doesn't appear that the maple sugar is melting, but give it time. You might want to add a little bit of agave nectar at this point to help the melting process along. Lower heat, and stir continuously for 4-6 minutes, or until sugar starts to fully melt and cover nuts. Add spices and continue to cook for an additional minute or two, until nuts are well glazed and seasonings are well mixed in. Be careful not to burn- if you're using cast-iron, it will continue to be hot for a few minutes after you lower or turn off your heat, so calculate accordingly. Pour onto sheet of wax paper on a cooling rack, and spread out. Allow to cool. Store in tightly-sealed container.



Monday, December 03, 2007

quick update

Hi everybody,

Just a quick post to say I haven't disappeared, I'm just a little buried in schoolwork right now! I have lots of blog posts up my sleeve, but it might take a few more days before I'm back to regular posting. For now, check out my sidebar- I've updated my links and added a large number of really cool blogs and websites that I hope you'll have fun browsing!

One last thing before I go- if you're looking for a recipe to make, make the caesar salad from Veganomicon- NOW! The croutons are awesome (especially if made with *cough*sourdough*cough*) but the dressing itself is the star. So creamy and garlic-y, it's perfect as a spread for bread and sandwiches, as a dip for veggies (or even fruit- try it on apple slices!), as a topping for beans, or just to eat out of the jar if you happen to be stressed, under a lot of deadlines, and hungry!

Have a great week, and I look forward to catching up with everyones' blogs soon.


Friday, November 30, 2007

veganmofo: we hardly knew ye!

Oh my gosh - can you believe VeganMoFo is over? Can you believe 30 days have gone by? I have to admit, I'm a little sad to see this challenge end- I've never blogged this frequently! I've learned that the more frequently I post, the more I enjoy blogging. It's also been interesting to note that the times when I blog most frequently are the times when I'm most productive in other areas of my life- I've gotten so much done this past month! I have also discovered lots of new blogs as a result of it, which has been a great thing.

This month, on our blogs, we've seen the best of what vegan food can be: delicious, inventive, comforting, time-saving, frugal, healthy, as well as what vegan food is on an everyday basis. We've eaten alone or with crowds, with friends or family, with fellow vegans or omnis, at home and on the road, decadently or ascetically, experimentally or reliably. It's been wonderful- there is no shortage of information on the internet should anyone ever go looking for it. Recipes, tips, warnings, shortcuts, recommendations... oh my.

For the final VeganMoFo post, I decided to do something quick and simple: a recipe for an onion-dill-rye sourdough bread. Vivacious Vegan asked me if I was having any luck baking whole grain sourdoughs, and the answer is yes! So far, I've baked multi-grain rolls, rye breads, and spelt breads. The difference when using whole grain is that the bread can take a lot longer to rise, so budget extra time. Also, I've accepted that my sourdough breads can't be 100% whole grain, since the starter gets fed with white flour. Often, the proportion is about 60 - 70% whole grains, 30 - 40% white flour. This is just fine with me, because it's the best of both worlds- the texture, crumb, and body of white flour, off-set by the flavor, fiber, and nutrition of grains. (The more I bake, honestly, the more I respect white flour)

So here's the recipe: (adapted from the
Yankee Grocery)

2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 cup sourdough starter batter at room temperature
4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
4 cups rye flour, unsifted
2 Tablespoons light molasses
2 teaspoons plain or iodized salt
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
2 Tablespoons dried dill
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon baking soda
Hot water as required (see step #4)
  1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine water, starter batter and 4 cups of the flour. Cover with clear plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place (85 degrees F) for 8 to 12 hours.

  2. Stir in the rye flour, molasses, salt, caraway seeds, dill, onion flakes and baking soda, to form a very stiff dough. Knead until smooth. (Add more flour if you need it) Cover and let rise in a warm place until the mixture is doubled in size, about (2 to 2 1/2 hours).

  3. Punch down and divide in half. Knead gently until smooth. Shape each half into loaf or round, Cover loaves lightly; let rise again in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, about (1 to 1-1/2 hours).

  4. Carefully place a small pan on the shelf, below the oven baking rack, and fill it with hot water.

  5. Place your sourdough rye bread loaves on the baking rack, close the oven door and bake in a preheated (400 degree F) oven for 10 minutes. Then brush your sourdough bread loaves with the baste mixture. (edit 12/3: the baste mixture is 1 teaspoon cornstarch brought to a boil with 1 cup water, then cooled to room temperature. Thanks, Mihl, for catching the omission!) Close the oven door and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes more until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

  6. Remove the loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack until cooled down to room temperature. Now for the hardest part of all in this baking recipe. Allow your loaf to cool completely (about 2 hours) before cutting into it. A loaf of sourdough bread is not fully flavored until it is fully cool. Also, bread is much easier to slice when cool.

Because our house has been so cold lately, I heat the oven for about 1-2 minutes, let it cool down a bit, and store my dough in there, covered with plastic wrap, for its first rise. I sometimes let this first sponge sit for up to 12 hours (overnight). I haven't gotten sick of sourdough yet- I hope to try more recipes soon!

To all my readers and fellow VeganMoFo-ers, thanks for this journey! I've fallen a bit behind on visiting all of your blogs, but I promise to catch up this weekend- I've missed you all!


Thursday, November 29, 2007


With the end of November comes the end of apple picking season here in central New York. Although the season
seemed to come very early this year, I was still sad to see it go. There is nothing like the taste a a freshly-picked apple, not to mention all the goodies that you can make with the bounty!

Right now, an entire produce drawer in our fridge is filled with locally grow apples. We're each eating a couple of apples a day, in addition to cooking and baking with them, so I thought I'd do one last apple post before the orchards are buried in snow the the apples are just a memory.

First of all, a little apple transgression. As Daiku and I were driving away from an orchard, whose name shall be kept secret, we noticed a cluster of trees with very interesting looking apples growing on them cordoned off near the exit. These trees were definitely not open for picking, and the apples looked like nothing we'd ever seen before- they were pretty large, with skin so dark, they almost looked black.

So, furtively, I ran out of the car as Daiku nervously kept the engine running. I ran to the forbidden trees and, quickly as I could, picked one of these black apples. I then ran back to the car, giddy and a little nervous. What if they follow us and punish us for touching their top-secret apples? What if the apples are radioactive, or some horrible genetic mutants? (Anyone remember "tomacco" from the Simpsons...?)

We tried the apple about a week after bringing it home. (We kept putting it off, because we wanted a "special" occasion to try this super "special" apple, and of course with our busy schedules, that special moment never came.) By the time we did get to eat the apple, we were afraid that it would be mealy from having sat in the fridge for so long. So, each of us bites into this apple and ZOMG! Possibly the most wonderful apple EVER! (And I've tasted plenty of really great apples). This apple had it all- sweet-tangy flavor, perfect crisp texture, perfume-like scent, it was indescribable. I wish I'd taken some more when I had the chance!

So now, I want to ask you, does anyone recognize this apple? Can anyone tell us what this is? Once you've tried something this good, the thought of living the rest of your life without it seems bleak!

Ok, enough about the magical black apple. Here is a muffin recipe to use up some of your own produce glut. I adapted this muffin from the apple zucchini muffins in the first edition of the "Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk" 'zine. Except, I made so many huge changes that I would feel bad saying this is that recipe, so I will give you my recipe for:

apple-apple muffins (makes 10 muffins)
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C unsweetened soymilk (edit 11/30: I meant to say "1/2 C", not "1/c C"!
  • 1 C whole spelt flour
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • a few grates of nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp. pre-ground nutmeg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1-2 TB agave nectar (can omit if you want a less sweet breakfast muffin)
  • 1/4 C oil
  • 2 apples, grated (can leave peels intact)
  • optional mix-ins: nuts, raisins, dried fruit, coconut...
Basically I turned these into 100% whole grain muffins, decreased the sweetness, omitted the zucchini, and added some vinegar to make sure that they would have enough "puff" even without white flour.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • pour the vinegar into a large measuring cup, pour the soymilk over it and let it sit while you complete the rest of the recipe
  • grate your apples and keep them covered until ready to use
  • whisk together all the dry ingredients
  • add the sugar, agave nectar, and oil to the soymilk/vinegar mixture, mix until well-blended.
  • add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix gently until just blended- do NOT overmix!
  • add the apples (and any optional mix-ins) and fold gently until mixed through
  • fill your muffin cups generously- until just under full
  • bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until fully puffed and golden brown
  • allow to cool for 1 - 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely before storing. (you can, of course, eat these while they're piping hot!)
These tasted incredible- and were healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They kept well for 3 days, and were very moist and tender. They re-heated well, and paired wonderfully with a dab of Earth Balance.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

pasta puttanesca

Tonight, we had a meal that we eat at least once a week around these parts... pasta puttanesca. If sugo de puttanesca is the sauce of whores, then we proudly raise our hands and admit to being big ol' pasta-loving hookers. (I'm sorry, who can resist? The jokes write themselves!) Unfortunately, it being dark and all, I couldn't capture a good photo- that's where this picture from back in the summer comes in.

This sauce is so robust and full of flavor, that absolutely nothing is lost by leaving out the traditional anchovies.

I won't give an exact recipe, because everyone has their own preferences, but to make pasta alla puttanesca, make sure not to leave out:
  • capers
  • oil-cured black olives
  • garlic
  • onions
  • tomatoes - diced, crushed, fresh, canned, just make sure to use the tangiest, highest-quality tomatoes you can find!
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
Daiku adds these touches to his sauce:
  • balsamic vinegar (just a tiny bit to deglaze the onions and garlic)
  • pinch of basil, pinch of oregano
  • heat your oil, add your herbs
  • add your onions and garlic, sauté for a while
  • add chopped olives and capers
  • deglaze with the balsamic vinegar
  • add your tomatoes, stir to combine, and then let the sauce simmer on low heat until it's a bit thickened and has taken on a dark rich color
  • toss with pasta, and serve.
  • buon appetito!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2 tester recipes, 2 gifts

Tonight's post is yet another opportunity to use VeganMoFo to catch up! And when I say catch up, I mean some of the food photos I'm about to show you are from September! But they are all fresh in my mind, and in fact I look forward to making these again.

I love testing recipes (which I'm currently doing for 3 wonderful vegans) - not only do you contribute to the creation of a book, but it makes meal planning so easy! Each week, I look at the available recipes, and pick at least one or two that I'm going to test. So far, this has worked out really well for us.

Without further ado, here are two test recipes:

Melody's green goddess dressing. You know those recipes where you think you can guess what the end result will taste like? Well this recipe turned out to be so much more than what I expected- it was simultaneously green, fresh, thick, and creamy. The many different herbs played off of each other really well. The first night, I served the dressing as Melody suggested- on a bed of greens (escarole), with some brown rice and lentils, topped with a few caramelized onions. Both Daiku and I loved this, and there was enough dressing for us to play with for the next few days.

Here's a tester for Joni's upcoming book, which will feature 101 (!!) vegan burger recipes, plus all the necessary buns, condiments, and toppings to go with them. She will have sections for gluten-free, soy-free, and high-protein burgers, in addition to regular recipes, and I look forward to testing many more. Here you see some sweet potato chipotle burgers, served on a whole wheat bun with some lettuce. I kept the toppings simple because this burger was packed with flavor! The chipotle heat was a bit intense for me, but that didn't stop me from going back for more!

And now, I want to share two vegan food gifts that I have received from fellow bloggers recently- definitely a huge perk, if you ask me!

Here, we have these delicious chocolate/strawberry pinwheels from Susie (Susie Tofu Monster for those on the PPK). She is a seriously talented chef! If you haven't checked out her new blog, Parsnip Parsimony, I recommend that you get over there, stat. Two words should suffice: vegan. challah. 'Nuff said.

And here we have some cookies from the always lovely Celine. Imagine my surprise on a cold day to look at my front door and see a box of cookies sitting there- the perfect reward after a punishing day of library research. Celine sent oreo cookie cookies and pistachio-rosewater cookies, which were so good, Daiku and I may have fought over them a little. Daiku ended up taking half to work with him, to be sure I didn't finish them all in one day! (I put the rose-colored crane next to the rosewater cookie, and the chocolate crane next to the oreo cookie one, for ease of identification!)

To all the bloggers out there who make life just a little more delicious by giving me new recipes to test, or by sending me sweet surprises in the mail, THANK YOU!

Monday, November 26, 2007

3 of my favorite things

Another night, another VeganMoFo. Before I get started, I want to thank all of you so much for your thought-provoking and intelligent comments to
last night's post. I can't respond to each of you individually, since your answers are so rich and multi-faceted, so I want to thank you collectively for carrying on the conversation. Questions of sustainability and social justice in relation to food are probably in the forefront of many of our minds, and it's always exciting to hear new perspectives on the matter.

Ok, on to tonight's post. I will show & tell three of my favorite things, food-wise.

1. Polish plum jam. My friend Dorota introduced this to me, and now I'm so addicted, I always have at least 2 or 3 jars stockpiled in the house. This is the only jam that I can eat with a spoon, straight out of the jar. The only ingredients are plums and sugar, so I don't know how they manage to get such a perfect flavor- tangy, sweet, rich, and awesome. If you have a Polish grocer near you, do yourself a favor and look for this brand of plum jam. It's perfect for toast, muffins, and hot cereal, yet complex enough to be used for sauces and savory recipes.

2. Porto Rico Importing Co. coffee sellers. They have two locations on New York City, or you can click over and order from them on-line. Porto Rico sells a wide variety of freshly roasted coffee (including many organic and fair-trade varieties), in addition to teas, flavoring syrups, and coffee and tea paraphernalia (like mugs, teapots, strainers, coffee makers, etc.) I can't even begin to tell you how delicious their coffees are. Any time either Daiku or I are in New York City, we buy a pound or two to bring back. For high quality coffee, their prices are beyond reasonable (often no more than $5-$6 a pound on sale). However, nothing beats the sale we stumbled upon when we were there a few weeks ago- an anniversary special blend for only $.85 !! Less than a dollar a pound for premium coffee! The only catch was that there was a limit of one pound per person. This problem was solved thanks to our lovely friends who agreed to help us out- and we walked away with 6 pounds of coffee- enough to last us through the year. Score!

3. Number three is a bit silly. You see, I'm hopelessly attached to this little rubber spatula. I bought it in 1995 on my first ever visit to Ikea (I believe it was the Burbank location). I picked up a 2-pack of these rubber spatulas, one large and this small one. It is the small one that I have become dependent upon- it is the perfect size, shape, width, and thickness, and the feel of the material is perfect. The sharp edge helps me to scrape the last bit of batter from a mixing bowl, the last bit of dressing from a jar, the last bit of food from a pot. When I'm blending something in my stand mixer, this helps me scrape the sides. When I'm making something in the magic bullet blender, this helps me to push the ingredients down. I use it at least once a day. I have bought a few similar spatulas, knowing that this one would eventually have to be retired, but none have been a perfect fit for me. I'm ruined for spatulas!

... which is too bad, because as you can see in the above photo, this poor little guy has to go! If any of you have a spatula you are particularly fond of (preferably silicone, which might last longer than the rubber), please let me know! Until then, I'll be clinging on to this perfect, humble, almost 13 year-old kitchen helper.