other people's recipes

while I love to be creative and make up my own meals, I have too many cookbooks and too many amazing fellow vegan bloggers to go too long without making other people's recipes. This entry is a bunch of recipes I've stockpiled.
These little babies are the Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas from veganomicon. They were deLICious, especially the dough. My only complaint was that by the book, they should be triangular. First of all, no. That is just not how I want my empanadas to look. Second of all, it is SO much harder to make a triangle than a half circle! Observe:

Also from veganomicon, the Pumpkin Saag:
It's a little mushier, I think, than it's supposed to be, because 1.) I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and 2.) one of the friends I served it to is allergic to peanuts, so I skipped the peanut oil and added some coconut milk for extra flavor. Still delicious and a big hit.

One of my FAVORITE finds from this post: the chocolate covered vegan's Sauerkraut Salad.
Yum! I made it for my mother when my parents visited and we loved it. I left out the bell pepper (because I'm allergic) and tossed in a bit of chopped chard stem for the same effect. It got better as it got older, too (which, I guess, is the point of sauerkraut).

Curried Lime Tofu from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan:
Pretty, flavorful and not as much work as I find a lot of dreena's recipes to be.

And Creamy Chickpea Soup with Moroccan Spice Oil, from the voluptuous vegan!
The soup itself is very simple - it's pretty much hummus, but thinner, and being the chickpea fanatic that I am, I loved it. It was very plain, but the moroccan spice oil added a nice, warm, complex flavor. I was very proud of myself for taking the time to make it! I made a really tiny batch because I didn't know if I'd want to save any - but next time I'll make more.

Have I mentioned how I feel about the voluptuous vegan? I'm torn as to whether I like it... There are some good, simple recipes, but most of them are elaborate and time-consuming. All the ones I've tried have been tasty, though. I guess this would be a fantastic book in it if you have loads of time and are planning and ritzy-but-intimate dinner party.

That's it for the savory stuff. On to sweets!
Double Chocolate Pecan Chippers from the everyday vegan! I used agave syrup instead of sugar, so they spread out while they cooked. I ate too many.

Chai Latte Cupcakes from vegan cupcakes take over the world!

I'm not a big fan of refined sugar, even organic, so the mass amounts of confectionary sugar involved in making frosting scares me. Instead of making mounds of icing, then, I tend to use glazes or ganache. The Brown Rice Caramel Glaze worked brilliantly (although I didn't have soymilk powder; I improvised by decreasing the liquid in the recipe and just simmering down some soymilk for a while). It just took a little longer for the glaze to set:
I brought these to a small dinner party and all 12 of them disappeared.

I've decided to make every cupcake in vegan cupcakes take of the world. Green tea cupcakes are next!


chez henri

I haven't really mentioned any restaurant meals here, not because I don't go out to eat (I do! often), but because I like to have pictures of the food I mention here and I don't like taking out my camera when I'm at a restaurant. BUT! last week a french-cuban fusion restaurant in cambridge called chez henri had a special 5-course vegan dinner at a reasonable prix fixe, so a bunch of us BVAers went. Quite a few people took pictures, so I didn't feel quite so conspicuous.

Our meal started off with glasses of vegan wine and rolls with some red-pepper bean dip that I didn't take a picture of because I didn't eat it. But the servers informed me that dip was the only nightshade I'd have to worry about that evening. So hooray!

First course:
Chiogga Beet Carpaccio
with baby argula and a pine nut mayo
I'd never heard of carpaccio before this meal, so I can't tell you how thinly sliced beets compare to beef, but it tasted good. The pine nut mayo, though grossly titled (couldn't they have gone with sauce? dressing? hollandaise? "mayo" sounds so diner-y), was salty and added a nice heaviness to a really light dish.

Second Course:
Roasted Blue Hubbard Squash Soup
with jerusalem artichokes, smoked pepitas and micro green salad
My friends and I laughed at how micro the greens were. A tasty soup. And you know how I feel about jerusalem artichokes.

Third Course:
Truffled Salsify Pappardelle
with foraged mushrooms, edamame, toasted almonds and herbs
Horizons expanded again! Not only had I learned what carpaccio is, but now I tried salsify for the first time! It was radishy - not bad, but a little chewy for pasta. My biggest victory with this one was that it had truffle oil, which I've been wanting to try for ages - yum. And the whole "foraged mushrooms" thing made me feel special, like someone went out into the woods hunting for mushrooms just for my plate. PLUS, I don't know if you can tell in the picture, but it had a FOAM on top. Just like in Top Chef! I actually think foam on food is icky looking, but it was exciting anyway.

Fourth Course:
Tofu au Poivre
with romanesco cauliflower quinoa pilaf, dinosaur kale and grilled sherry-glazed melon
A few of us found the tofu to be rather unsavory. It tasted like they opened a box of mori-nu tofu, covered it with pepper, then heated it. Done! BUT the pilaf and kale were incredible. And grilled watermelon? cool concept.

Fifth Course:
Mexican "Chocolate" Banana Tart
with celtic salted caramel and toasted maple walnuts
I'm quoting the menu on the titles. I don't know why "chocolate" is in quotation marks. Everything in the tart was delicious (especially the walnuts... I could've eaten a plate full of 'em), but the shell itself was rock hard. It had a tasty coconutty white sauce on top that they didn't mention in the title. (At least they didn't call it "coconut mayo" - hee.)

This was one of the swankest meals I've ever had.

While the normal menu at Chez Henri isn't very vegan friendly, a few of my friends have said that if you call ahead, they will prepare delicious vegan food - one of my friends even said she and her husband got to choose between a 7-course or a 5-course vegan meal one night!


a trio of crepes

to round of my trio of breakfast-turned-dinner foods!

I have only had crepes once in my life. I was 13 and had just started taking French. The teacher brought them in as a "cultural experience." We had them with Nutella, and that's the only part I remember.

Fastforward 7 years. While I was studying abroad in London, I went to Paris with some friends. They all got amazing nutella-stuffed (some were healthier and opted for fruit-filled) crepes at a street-side creperie while I bravely informed them all that no, I was not jealous, I had my vegan granola bar, thank you very much.

I was a little jealous.

2 years later (ie, this past sunday), I decided it was time to become an eater of crepes. And since I have no one to make vegan crepes for me, I must also be a MAKER OF CREPES!

Never having made them before, I have no crepe pan. But I have my beloved cast-iron skillet!
Elle est belle, non?

I used the super-simple crepe recipe from the voluptuous vegan: 1 cup chickpea flour (thanks mom!), 1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat), 2 cups warm water, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt.

My first crepe was une catastrophe:
Zut! I thought. Are crepes going to be as despicable as pancakes?! Mais non! The next one came out better:
Et la prochaine a ete meilleure:
And from there on out they were all tres belle!

Once my crepes were complete, I had to fill them. I thought about one of the many savory fillings from the Voluptuous Vegan or Veganomicon, but my sweet tooth won me over.

Vegan no-nut-nutella with banana / chocolat vegetalien avec des bananes:
Look close and you'll see I couldn't help but take a bite out of it before I took a picture.

blueberry-(soy)yogurt / myrtilles-yaourt (soja)

et Orange-peach / Peche orange
FUNNY STORY about my french title for this particular crepe. The word "peche," in french, can go three different ways. Normally accents tell you what it means, but I do not know the coding for accents above letters. SO my title could mean: Orange Peach, Orange Sin, or Orange Fishing! You decide which you like best. ^_^

The "Orange Sin" filling is the same recipe as my strawberry sauce from last time, but with a bit more orange juice and frozen peaches in lieu of strawberries.

When I'm speaking french, I say it the french way (creps), but otherwise I say it "craypes," which absolutely appalls any non-americans I know. How do YOU say "crepes?"


french toast/french toast cups

I'm not sure why, but I love eating french toast more than any other breakfast food. (Even waffles!) Maybe it's that warmness, the soft inside, the crispy outside, the possibility of drowning it with maple syrup or barely topping it at all to fully taste the ingredients... In honor of the wonder that is French Toast, today's recipes are Simple French Toast and the only-slightly-more-complicated French Toast Cups.

Since being vegan I've only tried to make french toast twice from recipes - the complicated list of ingredients or long process stopped me from trying more. But that's unfair! Omnis only stir a couple ingredients together, whereas I was mashing tofu or heating up a cornstarch mixture or hunting down chickpea flour (apparently not available organic at my local whole foods, so I'm adding it to my wishlist for when my parents come visit me this weekend).

So I decided to make my own French Toast. And I made up a recipe and it was great. With a bananas and strawberry sauce:
Simple Vegan French Toast
(Makes 8 slices)

For Batter:
1 1/2 cups soymilk
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
up to 1 tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, agave, sugar, whatever)*
1/8-1/4 tsp turmeric, depending on how yellow you want it*
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

For Toast:
8 slices bread
oil for frying

Combine cashews and soymilk in a blender or food process and blend until smooth. If your blender is finicky like mine, add the cashews and half the milk, blend, then add the rest. Once smooth, add all of the other ingredients and blend until mixed. Adjust spices/sweetener to taste.

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Pour milk/cashew mixture into a large bowl. Dip bread into the mixture one slice at a time, making sure each piece is good and slimy with batter. Fry slices on one side until brown (3-5 minutes), flip, fry until brown again (2-3 minutes). Serve with maple syrup, fruit, powdered sugar OR strawberry sauce (recipe to follow).

* - Note: turmeric is bitter, so the more you use, the more sweetener you'll want... plus the more you use, the more you'll taste turmeric in your french toast. delicious? maybe. but mostly weird.)

Another Note: when I made this I ended up with 10 slices' worth of batter, but I don't want to make any promises. I might just be stingier with my batter than you will be. And the batter, by the way, is so tasty I "adjusted to taste" way more than I needed to.

Yes, yes, delicious, okay, yawn, everyone has a french toast recipe. Where's the challenge in that?

WELL. Ages ago I saw Rachael Ray do a brunch episode. In place of muffins, she recommended mini quiches and many other such muffin-sized things that mostly involved ham and always involved eggs. And one of those muffin-sized things: French Toast Cups! Her recipe, of course, calls for eggs and dairy and - of all things - bacon on top. So:

Vegan French Toast Cups
(makes 8 cups)

French Toast Batter (see above)
8 slices bread
Any toppings you desire: Maple Syrup, Fruit, Non-dairy yogurt, Strawberry Sauce, Nuts, Ice cream?!

Preheat the over to 375. Prepare French Toast batter as above. Mine's a little yellower than it needed to be because I had a turmeric accident.
Stack the bread. Cut a slit from the middle out to one of the corners (this will help fold the bread into the muffin pan).
Dip each piece into the batter, making sure each piece is wet enough to bend without breaking. Fold each slice into a greased muffin cup. They'll be funny-looking. That's okay.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the bottom of the muffin cups are no longer soggy. Remove from oven, allow to cool 5-10 minutes. Use a fork or knife to gently pull french toast cups away from the muffin pan.
Fill with fruit and/or any other toppings you can think of, including:

Simple Strawberry Sauce
(makes a litle less than 2 cups)

1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sweetener (optional)

Combine strawberries, orange juice, and optional sweetener in a small pan over medium-low heat. YOu can leave the strawnberries whole, slice them, quarter them, or mush them with the back of a spoon like I do, depending on what kind of appearance/consistency you're going for. Once strawberries are really soft, add cornstarch and stir until no longer opaque, or until you reach the consistency you desire.
This is a super-tasty and healthy topping that works on french toast, pancakes, ice cream, or anything that could use a strawberry sauce.


to make pancake or not to make pancakes...

I was out of town for new year's, so I couldn't make a big New Year's Day Brunch like my family always does at home. When I came back to boston, I invited over a couple friends and made a belated new year's meal for my "boston family": scrambled tofu, sweet potato hash browns, fruit salad, gluten free coffee cake (I cheated on this one: used the Cravings Place's mix. It's super easy and delicious, though not nearly as good as my mom's homemade. Must get that recipe...).

I have no pictures of said meal because 1.) I still can't quite get over being embarassed about taking pictures of my food before I eat it and 2.) we ate EVERYTHING. But making so much breakfast food made me think about pancakes.

While I like eating pancakes, I HATE MAKING THEM. They are always so much more needy and complicated than I expect: there's the whole "getting the right consistency" thing with the batter; having the pan hot enough; adding enough oil but not too much; waiting long enough for the pancake to brown but not to burn; flipping it without making a mess; not burning the second side either. And then even if you get a perfect 2-3 pancakes, you have to KEEP GOING because that is only enough for one person... so you then repeat the process over again. Inevitably I lose patience and turn up the heat, which means I burn everything. And in the end all you get is a pancake.

But pancakes can be so delicious! Especially with fruit in or on them. I made breakfast-for-dinner with a friend of mine last month and we (well, he, as I refused to take part in the pancakes and instead worked on scrambled tofu) made the blueberry corn pancakes from Veganomicon. Yum! And watching another person over- and undercook pancakes and flip them messily, I realized that no one expects pancakes to be perfect. Just tasty.

So when I found a recipe for Rice Pancakes a little while back, I decided to try it.

Rice Pancakes
(serves 2-3, doubles well)

1 cup soymilk
1 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup rice (I used brown)
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tbsp flax seed meal (or just flax seeds if you don't have a blender/food processor/super cool spice grinder like mine to turn them into meal)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir together soymilk and vinegar. Let sit at least 5 minutes so it curdles. This is vegan buttermilk, for the record.

While it's curdling, mash the rice as well as you can with a fork (or potato masher for larger amounts). You can add a TINY bit of water to get it good and mushy, to a mashed potatoes texture. Add flour, flax, salt, and baking soda, then stir in the "buttermilk." If it's too thick, add a little soymilk or water.

Pancake warning (ie, what I tend to do wrong): Don't overstir! Lumpy batter's better than killing the effects of baking soda.

Heat a small amount of oil (enough to coat the bottom) in a skillet. When it's hot (you can test this by spraying a drop or two water on it - it's ready if it sizzles and pops), ladle smallish amounts (1/4 cup-ish) onto the skillet. Turn when brown, or smoking, as in my case.

This was the most beautiful set of pancakes I have ever made:
Unfortunately it's out of focus. You'll just have to take my word for it.

These pancakes are like normal pancakes: serve with fruit and/or maple syrup... OR, in my case, I threw some cumin seeds into the end of the batch and made a festive tex-mex meal!
Cumin-Rice Pancakes with Guacamole, Corn, and Carrots!

Sorry about the lame pictures. I was more fixated on eating than on focusing, apparently. All that standing around waiting to flip the pancake makes me hungry.

My FAVORITE thing about making pancakes is when I make extra and then freeze them, because then on mornings when I'm running late I can just pop them into the toaster!

moral of the story: I'm now okay with pancakes.

2nd moral of the story: I really like ending with morals of the story.


starting off the new year right

...with cupcakes!
One of my coworkers has a birthday today, so I took the turn of providing refreshments: a redux of the pretty little almond cupcakes I made last month.

They're from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, the "basic vanilla cupcake" but with almond extract.
Fresh out of the oven. Pretty - or menacing? An army of cupcakes! For some reason whenever I see a bunch of cupcakes grouped together I get "confessions" by the violent femmes stuck in my head:
Have we got an army
man I mean to tell you we can fight
have we got an army
and we're gonna do it tonight
Cupcakes are great on their own, but when they travel in packs... watch out ^_^

Dear Reader, I have to confess, I took the easy way out. For the first time in my life, I bought frosting instead of making it.
But it wasn't just any frosting! I got it at the butcherie, which sounds like the place least likely to have many vegan options, but it's not a building full of meat. It's a kosher grocery store not far from where I live, so there are loads of tofutti products and fake meats in addition to israeli foods I've never heard of or seen. And this is a sort of vegan, nut-free nutella. So I had to try it, right?
It was pretty decent, and easy to spread.

So then to decorate!
I still have marzipan in my freezer, so I mixed it with a bit of juice from a beet that's been wrinkling away in my fridge (food coloring's for chumps) and played around with shapes.
I think this is maybe a little too cute, even for me.

Seriously, though, don't these things look like they could beat you up? Don't mind the pink flowers. They're a vicious gang. They're totally about to start snapping their fingers and then launch into a west-side-story-style dancefight.


the gift of the magi, but nerdier

happy 2008, everyone! I'm sorry about the lapse in entries - it's been a busy week!

my "create post" page loaded neck-in-neck with the latest update on Iowa caucus, so I can't help but mention... OBAMA!!! yessss. And I'm so proud of John Edwards for catching up with Hilary. He's so adorable. Annnd we're going to ignore the other half...

When I came back to Boston from Cooperstown, I'd brought my roommate's christmas present. I had thought about it for a while, and we're both maybe a little nerdy about cooking, and we have a humungous spice cabinet... so I gave her this:
A mortar and pestle for grinding spices! But our schedules were completely different last week, so I didn't see her - I left it on her bed.

I came home from work that night to find a nice little present on my bed, with a card, in my roommate's writing: "Sad or funny? You tell me." I opened the present:

Clearly, we were meant to be roommates.
Awwwww, Spice Grinder and Mortar&Pestle - bff.

And because I don't want to have a post without food, a review:

Nasoya's Creamy Dill Salad Dressing!

I really like this dressing, which is saying a lot. This is the third Nasoya dressing I've tried. I'm on the fence with Nasoya products in general: their "Nayonaise" is disgusting. Their stir-fry sauces are pretty good. Their tofu is acceptable. Their dressings, thus far, have been "meh." I've had the Sesame Garlic, tasteless, and Garden Herb, also slightly tasteless but does the job when my family makes middle eastern/greek food and we want a yogurt-sauce substitute. But I was in the market (literally! ha) for a new salad dressing and noticed this and the 1000 Island (a long-lost passion of mine... 1000 island dressing has nightshades in it ;_; someone tell me how it is? No, actually, don't, I'll be sad) dressings. And being a dill addict, I decided to give it a shot, even though having "creamy" in the title grosses me out ("cream" is one of my least favorite words).

It's not a complicated flavor. It's salty and dill-y and a little vinegar-y. That's all I need. I actually put it on my salads (unlike the other nasoya dressings), I dip carrot sticks in it, and tonight I made a quick dinner by steaming some tempeh and veggies and mixing them with a generous tablespoonful of this sauce (with some dried dill over top).

mmm. obama, spices, and cupcakes... what's not to love about this post?

"wait, cupcakes?" you say? STAY TUNED FOR TOMORROW, Dear Reader, for I have some pretty baked goods to show off!