July 2008

Strawberry Mirror Cake–July 2007

So it’s time I do this for good–I need to resign from the group. I haven’t been the best of posters, constantly too busy, too many emergencies, not enough money, and this month is a testament to that. I literally don’t have the money to make the cake this month–I spent my last $4 on a big bunch of beans a giant zucchini at the Farmer’s Market–I’m working a 50 hour week while still in class (which is creative writing, so there’s a lot outside of class to do in addition to the 7 hours every week I have to be outside of my apartment). Anyway, all excuses aside, I need to quit.

Cheesecake Pops–April 2008

It’s been a lovely year (this would have been my 1st Daring Bakeversery) and I’ve truly enjoyed the challenges. The sticky buns were out of this world! The crepe cake was fucking fantastic! The cheesecake pops were uber yum! But sometimes I just need to let something go.

Sticky Buns–September 2007

Don’t forget to check out the blogroll to read all about this month’s challenge. The Filbert Gateaus with Praline Buttercream look amazing. Everyone rose to the recipe. And I’m going back to working and writing and cooking (and playing with my cats!). Have a beautiful Wednesday and I’ll be back Friday with a real recipe!

I work for an independent book store, A Cappella Books, in Atlanta and, in addition to working in the store, I plan and execute book readings. Today I had the pleasure of finally meeting Stephen & Rebekah Hren, authors of The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit. Generally I’m not too psyched about the “green” books out on the market. “Being green” has reached fad magnitude, and even though I appreciate folks wanting to live more sustainably, some of the ideas and projects out there aren’t cost-efficient or energy-efficient.

Stephen & Rebekah are two of the most down-to-earth super-friendly people I’ve met in awhile. I loved chatting with them about projects and how to keep my extremely hot apartment cool in the summer. One idea is to plant a deciduous vine like a grape vine in window boxes on my East-West windows. Using bamboo poles to form a trellis up the window, the vine will block out summer sun and then let in winter sun because the leaves will have fallen. Not only is it a cute idea, it’s a cool one! (Pun sooo intended.)

I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in cost and energy efficient DIY earth-friendly retrofitting of their house or apartment. Tons of the ideas are renter-friendly, and I’m totally enamored with the grow your own mushroom or potato barrel ideas. Seriously, in the food section, they tell you how to grow tasty mushrooms (Rebekah said they just harvested shitake mushrooms!), and plant a bucket with potatoes. I’m definitely going to try out the potato bucket idea, since 2nd harvest plants in mid-late August.

If you’re interested in buying the book, you can get copies off Amazon or signed copies through A Cappella (scroll down the schedule list and “add to cart;” then specify in an e-mail that you want a signed copy).

Chocolate belongs in everything. That’s why mole was invented. And in baked goods, it’s even more of an “of course” type of thing. I had some carrots sitting around in my fridge that I needed to use up before they rotted and for some reason I really wanted a muffin with chocolate in it. Thus the Chocolate Chip Carrot Sunrise Muffins were invented. The recipe probably isn’t unique. But it tastes good. And the orange color is so happy!

Nutritional Facts: Carrots are good for you. Chocolate is tasty and has caffeine. Spices are the bomb.

I riffed the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. Changed a few things, kept a few things. It was a good base.

Chocolate Chip Carrot Sunrise Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot (I made my pieces super small and juicy so they incorporated into the mix better)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with papers.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the carrots, oil, soy milk, vanilla, and sugar. Add the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Pour into the muffin papers and bake for 20 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

I’m back! Miss me? So down to the nitty gritty. New York was tasty as ever (as if it couldn’t be). I didn’t take pictures of what I ate because, well, I just don’t do that in restaurants. But here’s a list of all the vegan meals I had and where I had them at (minus a Thai place in Park Slope & a place I ate a veggie burger at…can’t remember the name either).

Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch: Blue Plate Special Vegan Corn Dogs with French Fries, Vegan Sangria Milkshake. I ate the corn dogs last summer with Kyle and have been dreaming of them ever since. Totally worth the trek over the bridge to Manhattan. The sangria milkshake was decidedly pleasant too. Who knew that sangria would work well in a milkshake?! It reminded me of a lassi (the South Indian yogurt drink), but alcoholic. All the better!

Second Helpings: Just a snake of a Mushroom Spring Roll. Very delicious. The cafe isn’t vegetarian, but most everything they serve is, and they have vegan baked goods. What’s not to like?

The V-Spot: BRUNCH! (my favorite for this trip): Vegan Breakfast Burrito w/ side salad, a side of a Vegan Pancake, and a Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake. The breakfast burrito was OUT OF THIS WORLD. As was the pancake. David said it was more like a crepe than a pancake. But the cinnamon and other sundry spices in the batter were delish. And the milkshake was amazing too. Noticing a trend yet? David ordered the steak and tofu and that was rockin’ as well. I tried it, of course, and the seitan was seasoned perfectly. Plus their coffee has a hint of cinnamon. Yum!

Pizza Plus
: Best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. We ordered a large wheat crust pie with mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. The vegan cheese actually melted AND tasted cheesy. Even David, a die-hard cheese-eater thought it was delicious. Plus they have $3 Brooklyn Lagers. Who can resist? I reheated the pizza in the oven for lunch the next day and it tasted just as good. Leftover seal of approval.

Red Bamboo
: This was my last vegan meal in NYC. I had the lunch special of Vegan Chicken Parmesean with a side of Collard Green Spring Roll. The chicken’s texture was right-on and the diced tomatoes on top made the meal shine. The parmesean was ok, I guess, I mean, it didn’t taste like anything special, but I loved it. I finished off the lunch with a Vegan Chocolate Milkshake.

We drank quite a bit, as can be imagined, and drink prices weren’t as scary as I expected. $2 PBRs in Williamsburg, $3 Brooklyn Lagers, $6 Hefeweizen, $3 Stella Artois, etc.

Ok, so in other news, meet Miss Dorian Gray! She’s 7 weeks old (I think) and is going to grow into the worlds largest kitty. Ok, maybe not world’s largest, but she’s got seriously huge back feet and I think she’s got maine coon in her. So really, she’s going to be big. She never stops purring, is unfazed by the fact that my cats hate her, and she’s obsessed with batting my eye lashes (which is a little uncomfortable for me). Basically, she’s the bomb.

Sorry for not posting in awhile. School. That’s all I have to say about that.

However! I’m off to NYC for a week to visit friends, eat tasty vegan food, and pine over the fact that I couldn’t fly my bike up with me this time. Sigh. At least I’ll be hitting up the Siren Festival on Saturday (with the possibility of press/backstage passes…!) If you have any suggestions for food places or things to do, let me know. I’ve been to New York quite a few times, but always on my bike and with races and such going on, so this trip is really different for me.

I’ll leave you for the week with my 2nd Danish Braid. This one I filled with vegan cream cheese, chocolate chips, and pistachios. My mom makes a danish bread type thing with chocolate chips and cream cheese every Christmas, so I thought I’d play around with that. Can anyone say instant amazing? You should. You should also make it. (smile)

I hope you all have a good week! Be back next Wednesday!

Cream Cheese Chocolate Pistachio Danish Braid

1 recipe Danish Bread

1 8 oz Tofutti Cream Cheese
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

Prepare Danish Bread per linked recipe.

In a bowl, whip the cream cheese and sugar together. Add more sugar if desired. Add chocolate chips and pistachios. Mix.

Fill Danish Braid recipe and bake as instructed.

It’s my first veganersary! Granted, I was not necessarily (ok, at all) completely vegan (for full story see my meme post) last July 7, and I get drunk and eat cheesy food (pun intended), and I love to eat Taria’s pastry creations (she’s fruitarian but the best pastry chef in Atlanta, so again, humor me), but it’s been a good year. I wish I still had my old blog and could trace what I posted a year ago, but I can’t. Sad.

I’m forever grateful to Rachael and Kyle and Taria for convincing me through their eating habits that veganism is totally possible–even when one is a pastry chef–and also to you guys, the blog community, for giving me hundreds of new recipes to try out and friendly support over much trial and error.

So, as a thanks and to celebrate, I’ll leave you with a tasty breakfast. I know you all know how to make vegan french toast. And I usually make it with applesauce or smooshed bananas. Or sometimes super fancy with challah and vegan ricotta (smile). But with the usual recipe, the bread gets too much liquid in it and stays soggy, even if you fry it till it burns. So I experimented with a bit of vegan yogurt, added spices, fried it, and oh-my-goodness it was just like regular french toast! Crispy fried on the outside, not soggy on the inside, spicy-sweet…yeah, a pretty damn good simple veganersary breakfast.

Much love to you all, you’re the best! Here’s to another wonderful vegan food-filled year!

Vegan French Toast

1/2 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger

Mix together the yogurt and spices in a shallow, wide dish.

Dip the bread slices into the yogurt and cover both sides with the mixture.

Fry the bread over medium head with a dash of olive oil until brown on both sides.

Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, nuts, berries–whatever you feel like!

OH the things you can do with pistachios. Lemee tell ya…

So a couple of weeks ago I was in a pretty major funk. Things on the school front were not looking well (my funding was pulled over an administrative mistake–it’s back, thank god), the poet was out of town and we’d had a tiff before he left, and I was not in the mood to face life. So I reverted to my old funk tactics. I checked three 200+ page books out of the library and vowed to stay in bed (it’s 90+ degrees outside, ewww) until I read them all. A book a day. But one needs sustenance when huddled in bed with the A/C on high, cats cuddled around legs. You need chocolate chip cookies. It’s the only funk food that will suffice.

I riffed off the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which, honestly, I’m not too fond of. But it could remind me of the correct flour and sugar measurements and such. And with pitachios sitting around in my cupboard, well, you can imagine how this recipe turned out. DELICIOUS. It satisfied my craving almost as well as the original eggy chocolate chip cookie recipe I made for years. I’ve yet to find a vegan chocolate chip cookie that passes muster, but this wasn’t too bad.

As a note, I might suggest lessening the sugar to 1/2 and 1/2 with a pinch thrown in or something like that if you use vanilla yogurt like I did. I might also lessened the vanilla a bit. I don’t like my cookies super sweet, and these were a bit on the edge of too sweet for me. Other than that, I like using the yogurt as an egg replacer.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli semi-sweet–vegan!)
1 cup chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add the soy yogurt and mix well.

Beat in the flour, baking soda, and salt in small batches until it forms a dough. You might need to add more flour.

When it is thoroughly combined, add the chocolate chips and pistachios.

Form small balls of dough and place on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the golden brown you want.

Let them cool as long as you can wait–I suggest not waiting so as to get the perfect combo of hot dough and gooey chocolate chips.

Remember Shake n’ Bake? That glorious mix of bread crumbs and parmesean and god-knows-what-else-but-it-was-tasty? Yeah, I miss it sometimes. Who knows, maybe there’s a by-accident vegan Shake n’ Bake out there, but it wouldn’t be right without the chicken. Do I miss chicken? No. I just miss the baked crusty deliciousness of what’s put on chicken sometimes.

Thank God there’s Susan and her blog. If I hadn’t stupidly deleted all my original posts on here, you’d realize that I got into blogging (in part) because of her and her recipes. She definitely helped me go vegan. The Pistachio Crusted Tofu is her recipe and it’s damn tasty. It’s Shake n’ Bake meets tofu. It’s everything I crave of the good ol’ midwestern meat and potatoes that I grew up on. I can’t stop raving about it. Plus it was so so so easy. I tweaked the sweet and sour dipping sauce a bit, but other than that, all the praise goes out to Susan.

Pistachio Crusted Tofu (a la SusanV)

14 ounces tofu
2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium

1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/2 cup pistachio nuts
ground pepper — to taste
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium
1 tablespoon tofu mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400F; prepare a baking sheet by either oiling it lightly.

Cut the tofu into 8 1/2-inch slices and dry them lightly with paper towels. Brush both sides of the tofu with the 2 tablespoons soy sauce and set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

While the tofu is marinating, measure out 1 cup of crumbs into a wide, shallow bowl. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they are reduced to fine crumbs. Add them to the bread crumbs along with a generous grating of black pepper, and mix well.

In another shallow bowl, combine the mustard, syrup, soy sauce, and mayo.

Dip a slice of tofu into the mustard mixture, lightly coating all sides; then place it into the bread crumbs, sprinkle crumbs over the top and sides, and lightly press them into the tofu. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all slices of tofu.

Put the tofu into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serve with the sauce of your choice, such as the Easy Sweet and Sour Sauce below.

Sweet and Sour Sauce (riffed from SusanV)

3 tablespoons apple butter
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium
1/2 teaspoon chili paste

Mix all ingredients together well. Serve over tofu.