Monday, December 17, 2007

Warning! Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies!

The Veganomicon is a cook-book of pure, unadulterated evil. I am now its slave.

I wanted to throw something super-chocolatey into my holiday gifts and these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies sounded good. HA. Good? Talk about understatement.

Nothing out of the ordinary before they go into the oven.
But something wonderfully obscene happens to them after only 10 minutes of baking.
They taste like. . . is "heaven" overused? Well then, how about - these cookies are what brownies aspire to be. And I ADORE brownies.
I made them to be used as gifts, but now have to make another batch because after one taste I knew none of these cookies were leaving here except inside of ME! These are my new favorite cookie of all time.

p.s. There's ground flaxseed in there too - sinfully delicious AND a little healthy. See? Evil.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lace Cookies

These are sometimes called Florentines, but I have always known them as "Lace Cookies". Though I've always loved them, they are not always easy to find and for some reason I never thought to make them myself. I always thought they must be really difficult. Uh. Not so much. I've veganized a recipe I found on the Food Network and let me tell you - not difficult AT ALL. A little time-consuming, but not difficult. Make these, impress the hell outta everyone, and delight in the fact that you made these simple and elegant cookies.

Vegan Lace Cookies
1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegan cream (I actually used soy creamer)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 20-30 minutes. It is easiest to form if it is still warm, but not hot.

Form the dough into small balls (teaspoon size makes a big enough cookie - honestly) and place onto a parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet while you preheat the oven to 350. You can only bake one sheet at a time, really I've tried two and they don't bake evenly - so it's easiest to form all the balls at once. You can lay them out on some parchment - it helps save time and aggravation because once the dough cools it gets harder to make the balls (they sort of crumble apart).

You really do need to space them far apart - they spread like crazy. But if you have a mishap, don't worry - it's easy to fix, but you must be quick.
When you take them out of the oven, if you see any that have spread into each other, just grab a knife and push them apart, reforming a nice circular shape. They are still very pliable while hot so you have about a minute to accomplish this. If you wait until they cool you'll just crack them. So be quick!
After a minute, take them off the parchment and cool fully on racks. My advice is not to try to lift them off the cookie sheet with a spatula, they are too thin and it's easy to ruin them this way. Instead simply peel the parchment away from them - they pull right off.
You can leave them as they are - they are awfully nice this way.
OR you can get all crazy with yourself and add some chocolate. Either drizzle some over the tops, dip one end, or my personal favorite: drop a teaspoon of melted chocolate onto one cookie and sandwich it in with another. The chocolate spreads and does a little poke-out from the 'lace'. Very indulgent. Very delish.
You know you want to. Chocolate + almonds = yummy yummy heaven. So go for it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sugar Cookies

VEGAN SUGAR COOKIES
This makes between 3 and 6 dozen cookies - depending on cutter sizes.

1 cup margarine (Earth Balance-YUM!)
1 cup white sugar

2 whole egg replacements (Ener-G)
grated rind of one lemon*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. (you can wait on preheating the oven until you are ready to start cutting the cookies)

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the egg replacements, lemon rind and extracts until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and tofu cream cheese and mix until everything is incorporated.

I have always had trouble with my sugar cookies becoming tough. I found a tip at Kitchen Collectibles that helps avoid that by not having to add additional flour while rolling. FABULOUS!

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess -- Rather than wait for your cookie dough to chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to cut. Reroll leftover dough and repeat the process! An added bonus is that you are not adding any additional flour to your cookies.


Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters.

Sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar or dust with plain white sugar unless you plan to ice them. Place about 1 inch apart on sheets - they don't spread very much, so you can actually smoosh 'em in closer if you need to.


Bake for 10 to 13 minutes until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown. If you are using dark colored, non-stick cookie sheets, check at 8 minutes to be sure they aren't burning. I hate these cookie sheets of mine. I could sure use some plan ol' non-nonstick cookie sheets. Hint, hint.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Then go make more...


because you'll probably have eaten all of them before you can give them out as gifts. Oh. Is that just me?


*I use dried grated lemon rind that I reconstituted. Very handy stuff to have on hand if you don't feel like grating lemons. You can leave this and the lemon extract out if you don't care for lemon - I have a weakness for those roll and bake sugar cookies but they aren't vegan - adding the lemon rind and extract makes these taste almost like the roll & bake kind.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Baking for your favorite pooch

I must thank Vicki at Vegan Vice for posting this recipe last July. (Go look and see her wildly cute Jolie enjoying her treats!) I've been meaning to make them since then but I have never been great with rolled cookies and dealing with cookie cutters. How silly. These were SO easy I can't believe it!

Vegan Dog Treats
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 c. whole wheat flour
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 c. vegetable broth

Mix it all together, roll it out about 1/4" thick and cut your cookies. I baked these at 325 for about 30 minutes until they were nice and hard. Note: I put them on parchment and a sil-pat so they wouldn't stick to the cookie sheets, but found that they were not sticking to anything when a couple slid off the parchment and baked directly on the cookie sheet. Talk about easy "cookies"!



At the end there were pieces I just couldn't roll out any more so I just pressed them into flat logs - they seem to be just as appealing to Basil as the cut shapes. He's fussy - but not that fussy!

I only have two cookie cutters - a star and a heart that I picked up 20 minutes before I started making these. The stars are small so I made more of those. My dog would eat treats endlessly so I prefer to give him smaller sized cookies so he'll feel like he's eating more. It's an old dieter's trick. But I did make a couple of hearts because they are so cute. And I do love my doggie!

I really like knowing exactly what is in his treats. And by the way, yes I did taste them. They are yummy! Hard... but yummy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Seitan

Making seitan at home has got to be one of the easiest things ever. Who knew? One and 1/3 cups of Vital Wheat Gluten plus one cup of veggie broth = a TON of home-made seitan. I don't think I kneaded it quite right, but practice, practice. It tasted great and lord knows there's ENOUGH of it! I was shocked at how much it 'puffs' up - it's pretty amazing stuff. FYI: basic directions for seitan are right on the box of vital wheat gluten.

Here it is in the pot simmering away. Yeah, not the prettiest thing in the world - but give it a chance!


Here it is sliced up on a plate with some mashed potatoes, baked sweet potato and kale steamed with a little garlic.


And a close-up!

If you like seitan and want to save some money, I highly recommend making it at home. You can flavor it however YOU like, it's ridiculously easy, and very satisfying (to make and eat!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oatmeal Cookies!



The holidays are cookie time! My biggest fear about going vegan was, in actual fact, baking. Cookies in particular. I love making cookies at this time of year and I've been doing it since I was a kid - so how do you change decades of 'know-how' into HOW do I make cookies without eggs? Without BUTTER?

Well. First you take a look at some great cookbooks and you give it a shot. Just like when you were first baking as a pre-teen. And it's not so different. A little, but not so much. You do have to be really careful about not overbaking - vegan cookies can turn into rocks a lot faster than 'regular' cookies.

These are Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin cookies. The recipe comes from The Veganomicon.



They are amazing. The brown rice syrup seems to be the key. Deeee-licious!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PSA

The following is almost entirely off-topic for this blog, except for the fact that Dennis Kucinich is a Vegan - YES! I didn't write the following, it is an email from Kucinich for President. I am posting it here simply to do what I can to get the word out about a DIFFERENT kind of presidential candidate; someone who seems to actually have some integrity. Might be nice for a change, don't you think?

Back to the food tomorrow!

Thanks for taking the time to look into this under-publicized candidate.

xo
Joy


************************************************************************************

IN DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY

We all know that something is very wrong in our country. The Rule of Law, the Balance of Powers, and our Constitutionally guaranteed Civil Liberties have been under sustained assault by an Administration that is brazen and unrepentant in its abuses of our rights and our founding principles. And, to make matters worse, the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate have failed to exercise the Constitutional authority granted to Congress to stop those abuses and hold violators accountable.

The results? The powers of the Executive Branch have gone unchecked and its policies unchallenged. The Congress and the American people were deceived into an illegal and immoral war in Iraq, and those same deceptions and manipulations are being used to justify a new war in Iran. The government is spying on its own citizens, ignoring judicial protections and due process, denying the right of habeas corpus, and refusing to abide by international laws, treaties, and principles.

Our nation faces a crisis, yet its leaders, and the candidates campaigning for the Presidency, refuse to acknowledge or address it in any substantive way.
That's why it's time for: A DIALOGUE FOR DEMOCRACY.

This Thursday, November 29, Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich will host an unprecedented "Dialogue for Democracy" forum that will be streamed LIVE on the Internet at KucinichTV.com. Along with invited guests, Dennis will bring this crisis to the attention of the nation and the world so we can better understand what's wrong, and, more importantly, what we can do about it. The first segment of the LIVE broadcast begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. The LIVE forum will resume at 5 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m.

AN INVITATION TO SPEAK OUT! The Kucinich campaign is also extending this open invitation to representatives of interested organizations and concerned citizens to participate in this "Dialogue" by sending an email to dialogue@kucinich.us. Tell us who you are, the issues you want discussed, and whether you or your organization would like to participate directly during any of the LIVE broadcasts.

OUR DEMOCRACY - YOUR DEMOCRACY - is at stake in this election. And there's something you can do about it. You can stand with the candidate who stands with you. The one candidate who isn't afraid to speak the truth, to give honest answers, and to lay out real solutions that don't protect the status quo. If that's the kind of leader you want, someone who will protect and defend YOUR interests and rights under the Constitution, consider making a contribution to the Kucinich for President Campaign today. It's your way of ensuring that your voice will continue to be heard throughout the debates, the primaries, and the caucuses.

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT! Any contribution you make now through November 29th is eligible for federal matching funds. That means your $50 contribution becomes a $100 contribution. A $100 contribution becomes $200. BUT THE DEADLINE IS THURSDAY NIGHT, so please don't wait.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chili Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu

If you aren't a tofu fan, this could be the dish that changes your mind.

It's from the amazing Veganomicon.

You have to do a little battering and frying - but much as I don't care to fry things I tried this. I have to say it is not like the kind of frying I anticipated. You only use a very tiny amount of oil - the slices of tofu are really thin so they don't need much - and they are cooked in just a few minutes.
left to right: pressed tofu, soy milk with cornstarch, cornmeal-chili mix

I wanted to present it all fancy-like... 'cause that was my mood last night. So I started with thin slices of baked sweet potato and a molded pile of garlic and olive oil sauteed spinach. It's easy to mold. I just put it into a quarter-cup sized measuring cup and then popped it out on top of the potato slices.I sprinkled on some pine nuts - because I forgot to mix them into the spinach while I sauteed it! Ooops!
Then a sprinkle of roasted corn kernels (thank you Trader Joe's frozen veggies section!)



Finally, because I love it, I topped the whole thing off with some raw cranberry relish. Lots of colors, lots of flavors, who says they don't love tofu?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vegan Thanksgiving!



The Menu
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup*
Tofu 'Turkey' Loaf**
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Cauliflower with cumin
Roasted Red Bell and Cubana Peppers
Stuffing**
Mashed Potatoes**
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Raw Cranberry Relish
Joyous Pecan Tarts with Mexican Vanilla Ice 'Cream'


*recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance
**made by Miss Lori

...and this is what happens when you leave delicious vegan food on an untended table.

Raw Cranberry Relish


Raw Cranberry Relish

* 2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries (sort through and toss the bad ones, remember this is raw and bad cranberries will be too mushy or too hard)
* 1/4 cup diced red onion
* 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 2 oranges peeled and chopped
* 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 stalks celery chopped small to fine depending on your tastes


Place cranberries in food processor, and pulse to chop coarsely. Add onion, jalapeno, lime juice, orange sections (and their juice), and ginger. Pulse until everything is chopped and blended.

Transfer to a bowl. Mix in sugar and celery. Refrigerate for at the very least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Seriously do not skimp on the last step. The sugar needs to melt and blend with the cranberries otherwise you have a grainy consistency and the cranberries will be too tart and the sugar too sweet. Definitely plan to make this the day before you want to serve it for the absolute best results.

This is so good you will want to eat it by itself. It compliments almost anything - depending on how many people you are serving you may have to double the recipe. Trust me, you'll be happy to have leftovers of this stuff!

Pecan Tarts with Mexican Vanilla Ice 'Cream'

These little darlings are Pecan Tarts.
MMM-MMMM-MMM.
I veganized this recipe from Shirley's Bitchin' Pecan Tarts.

Joyous Vegan Pecan Tarts

The pastry:
* 1/2 Cup vegan cream cheese
* 1 Cup sifted flour
* 1/4 Cup Earth Balance "butter"

Blend together the cream cheese and butter. Sift in flour, mix until all the flour is incorporated - roll into ball. Chill for 2-3 hours. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls and press into muffin or tart pans so that the edges reach the top of the mold.

The filling:
* 3/4 cups chopped pecans
* 1/4 cup Earth Balance "butter", melted and cooled
* 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
* 2 flax eggs*
* dash salt
* 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Cool melted butter and add sugar, flax eggs, salt and vanilla blend until liquid and smooth. Put chopped pecans in bottom of shells. Fill 2/3 full with filling.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 if you use regular muffin pans. Makes 24 if you use small tart pans.

You can top these cuties with Mexican Vanilla Ice 'Cream' for a more special treat.

I used the recipe for 'fancy pants' vanilla ice cream found on A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise but used only 1 cup soy creamer and 3 cups vanilla soy milk. I also used a vanilla bean from Mexico - which is why I'm calling it "Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream".
The real vanilla makes the most amazing ice cream and nothing goes better with pecan tarts than vanilla ice cream. Heaven on a plate!

*Flax Eggs
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds + 3 Tablespoons water = 1 egg
just put the water and flax seed meal into a blender and blend until gelatinous (you can also use flax seeds - you just need to blend longer)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cholent

Five steps to satisfaction.

1. Go buy Veganomicon.
2. Go to page 182.
3. Make this unbelievably great stew.
4. Serve it to your nay-saying "eiwww Vegan" friends and family.
5. Smirk smugly as they dig in and rave.





The meat-like substance in this stew is TVP chunks. This is the first time I've used the chunks and I tell ya, dried out and packaged they resemble nothing more than dog kibble. But once you put them into something... oy! Fabulous!

The recipe in the Veganomicon doesn't call for dumplings, but for me, stew requires them. Just for the record, dumplings made with Bisquick are super quick and easy. Well worth the extra few minutes effort.

The stew also calls for caraway seeds, which I normally don't care for. Then again I've only ever run into them in bread, Irish Soda or Rye. I'm not a fan of these seeds in bread. If you don't think you like them, use them here any way. Really. There's a subtle flavor that you won't want to miss.

I'm so glad I got this cookbook!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Cook Book!



I'm so excited! I got my copy of Veganomicon the other day and today I wanted to make cornbread - guess who had a quickie recipe? Yup.

Now the recipe calls for a skillet - you make it in the skillet, skillet goes in the oven, but I don't have an oven-proof skillet (anyone wants to get me a nice cast-iron skillet is welcome to do so!) so I did it in a glass baking dish.

Crispy on the edges, moist inside. The VWaV gals did it again!


Since I was going to have this with the black bean soup I threw together the other day, I decided to spice it up with some jalapenos. The recipe in Veganomicon says to saute onions and the peppers then add to the cornbred, but hello laziness. I just chopped up the jalapeno and stirred it into the batter along with some crushed red pepper flakes - that's what those little red and green specks are in the cornbread. Next time I'm trying the onion and pepper saute - really! I'm not ALWAYS lazy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Summer rolls in November

The first thing I saw in Vegan with a Vengeance that I really wanted to try to make was the Mango Summer Rolls. They just looked so beautiful. But I never got around to it and oh look, it's mid-November. Can you make "Summer Rolls" in November? Oh sure you can - especially if you live in an overheated New York City apartment.



I did not follow the recipe in that great cookbook - I just didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised.

It was really simple.

Rice papers
rice noodles
Fresh Mango - sliced thin
Carrots - sliced thin
cucumber - sliced thin
chopped roasted almonds
sprinkle of ground ginger

Soak the rice papers until soft (one at a time otherwise they will get too soft and tear apart when you lift them out of the water). Lay them on a towel to absorb the excess water and then lay some cooled, cooked rice noodles on one end. Then layer whatever you are using on top of the noodles - but not too much or you won't be able to close the rice paper roll.

You roll them like a burrito, except that you fold in both ends and you have to roll carefully because the rice paper can tear (especially if a carrot is a little too long and pops through!)

I think they look really pretty cut open.



The dipping sauce was something I threw together, again, with what I had laying around.

Hot Chili Oil
Peanut Butter
splash of soy sauce
splash of rosemary vinegar
ground ginger

Just whisk it together, give it a taste - adjust the peanut butter and chili oil until you have the amount of heat you like and that is that!

I think these would be fun to fry as well, making the rice paper all crispy. But I'm not much of a fryer, so I left them as they are.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Eat Your Colors... I mean Veggies!

Colorful vegetables are good for you - you know all those fabulous vitamins and antioxidants and so on. The best part of cooking with colorful veggies is how unbelievably PRETTY your food looks! And you don't have to do any special work to make it gorgeous - you do your regular chopping and stirring and Mother Nature takes care of the decor.

I got this little head of purple cauliflower at a farmer's market.



I threw it into the sautee pot with red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, red onion and of course, garlic.



Throw in some whole wheat pasta, a sprinkle of pine nuts and you're eating art!


Honestly, who wouldn't want to eat all those colors?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream filling

I was a little sad when I read the label of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and found they were not Vegan. Oh well. When you want some chocolate in your peanut butter, or peanut butter in your chocolate, you can always make a batch of these Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream filling (recipe from VCTOTW) and satisfy that urge.



These were my first filled cupcakes and I was surprised at how easy it was to do the filling. You poke your finger into the top of the cupcake once it has cooled and then with a pastry bag (large tip) filled with peanut butter cream you just plug up the hole! Then you pipe a little on top to cover the hole up and that creamy center is just waiting to surprise the lucky cupcake eater!



I sprinkled some cocoa powder over the top of the frosting, because I was gettin' all crazy with myself, but I don't think they need it at all. They are pretty scrumptious. And chocolatey. AND peanut buttery! Yum.