vegan doughnuts and a baby!

First, I'd like to present you with the best thing I ever made:
A baby! His name is Ezra and he is exactly one month old today. My work schedule leading up to the end of pregnancy picked up more than I thought it would, so blogging didn't really happen much during my pregnancy, but it was an easy pregnancy overall. We've had no problems or pushback regarding our veganism from any of our healthcare professionals. And this baby is awesome!
He loves to eat, just like his mother, and has many strong opinions. (We don't know what the opinions are, since they all come out as wailing, but still.)

I am ambitiously hoping I will actually update more often now that I have a baby, in part because we spend a lot of time sitting down to nurse and/or nap, but also because I am done working! While I loved my job (teaching English at BFIT, a local college), I've always known that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, and (with years of saving and planning, mind you) I am able to realize that dream!

But let's talk about doughnuts. I love doughnuts! Growing up in Cooperstown NY, my favorite doughnuts were from Schneider's bakery. They make old fashioned doughnuts there: they're cake doughnuts, but still fried (as they should be) and have a dense inside with a crispy, barely sweet outside. You can get them glazed but then you don't get the same crispy outside. To me, these will always be the world's most perfect doughnuts. But they're not vegan.

It has, until recent years, been really hard to find vegan doughnuts... especially if you can't have potato starch (which is in most powdered egg replacers and is used in many vegan doughnuts, like DunWell doughnuts in NYC). I've been hoarding doughnut recipes to veganize for when I have the time and ambition to deep fry. But in the last year or so, Boston has kicked up its vegan doughnut scene!

For those who like cake doughnuts, Sabertooth Vegan Bakery, which operates out of Taco Party's (also vegan and delicious) restaurant location, has a staggering number of options. The flavor combinations are always on point--tasty and interesting: Matcha and Macadamia, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Cookies and Cream, etc. There are often at least a couple gluten-free (and I think soy free?) varieties as well.
The doughnuts are better than the picture quality would suggest.
 For me, there are a few down sides. First, they're baked, not fried. Which yes, is healthier, but I like traditional (fried) doughnuts. Second--this is minor--the base is the same to every doughnut. The flavors are all in the icing. It's a good, simple base, but if you get a sampling (like we did above) it is easy to get tired of it, Finally, for my taste, they're too sweet. The base is sweet, and the icing is almost entirely sugar. But I think most people go for that sort of thing when they want dessert anyway!

If I can't have vegan old fashioned doughnuts, I'll still happily eat yeasted (i.e., the Dunkin/Krispy Kreme type) doughnuts. Union Square Donuts has the best in town.
They used to only have vegan doughnuts on weekends, but now you can get them any day of the week. There are usually two kinds: cinnamon sugar and a seasonal flavor. Above, a coworker happened to hit the on a day when there were two seasonal flavors. They also have vegan doughnut holes!!! I hadn't realized I missed these until I was able to eat them again.
Obviously Union Square Donuts' doughnuts are heavy (because they are fried), but other than that, I have no complaints. They are delicious!

I don't have pictures, but Veggie Galaxy also has vegan doughnuts on Saturday (possibly also Sundays soon). They're the yeasted kind, with basic or chocolate icing. They sometimes do jelly-filled, too!

Have any of you tried making your own doughnuts at home? How did it go? What recipe(s) did you use?


vegan deviled eggs from Lagusta's Luscious

We'll get to the deviled eggs in a moment, but first a small announcement: I'm pregnant! I'm at 17 weeks (4 months). I am, of course, vegan, and my doctors are totally fine with every aspect of my pregnancy. There have been many great vegan bloggers who openly blogged about their pregnancies well, so I am not interested in doing that myself at the moment, but I am happy to answer any questions people have.

The biggest change for me since being pregnant is how much more often I get hungry! I fill up easier, which means my meals are often smaller, but my body still needs more calories per day, which means I'm snacking about every hour or two. Women should up their protein intake during pregnancy, so I try to make sure that at least some of my frequent snacks are protein-rich. But after 4 months, all my usual snacks are starting to bore me. So when I found Lagusta's Luscious recipe for vegan deviled eggs, I had to try them!

I had all the ingredients on hand, but I do not have egg-shaped molds. I have these though!
And I don't mind if my "eggs" are shell or dome shaped.

The "egg white" recipe calls for soy milk, though Lagusta  and the comments on the blog entry all say that almond milk makes for a firmer and whiter white. I went with soy to make sure the eggs were higher in protein, but I did notice a little of the graininess she mentions. 
They hold up well, but next time I might use a little more agar (2.5 tsps?) to make them even firmer.

And then I filled them! Before you judge how they look, remember that my eggs are upside-down shells. I also spooned in the filling instead of piping it in because I am lazy.
The filling is pretty good, but it is WAY TOO SALTY for me. My mother's deviled eggs always had a lot of mayo, so I did up the amount of vegenaise, which could contribute to the over saltiness, but when I make this next I'm going to skip the whole 1 1/4 tsp salt and just salt to taste after all the other ingredients are in.  It's okay in combination with the whites since the whites are a little bland, but the whole deviled egg is still a little saltier than I'd like.
And holy cow, look how much filling is left! I mixed some of it with the scooped-out parts of the whites for an egg salad that I'll have on bread for lunch. Lagusta says that it makes a good dip, but like I said, it is WAY too salty on its own, so I'll probably blend in some cashews before I can use it straight.

Despite the saltiness, I liked this recipe a lot, and will definitely make it again!


uzbek dinner! plov and tashkent salad

A while back, a friend linked to one of those buzzfeed posts--you know the ones, "the top 20 things you have to eat in [city name]" or "30 signs you're [insert age]." But the one my friend linked to was about food. And I often click the food ones. I don't even remember what the list was, but at the side, another recommended article was "16 Delicious Uzbek Dishes You Need to Try Immediately." I love delicious food, and knew NOTHING about Uzbek cuisine, so I clicked--and discovered a whole list of very non-vegan things. (There is actually one vegan thing: a tomato salad, which, since I'm allergic, was sad.)

For some reason, rather than deciding Uzbek cuisine was not my thing, all this started me on a quest to try to make some vegan Uzbek food at home.
Vegan Tashkent salad, "roasted" garlic (I'll explain later), and Plov!

The most obvious dish to start with: Plov, which is essentially a rice pilaf. After a long internet-rabbit-hole search, I decided to mainly stick with this recipe from Olga's Flavor Factory (ironically, the blog is Russian, not Uzbek, but I swear, this was the most promising recipe to start with). Traditionally, plov is made with lamb or beef, for which I substituted chickpeas. (Chunks of seitan would probably be better if you wanted it to be really authentic, but since I'm vegan and nightshade-free, I never really bother with authentic, and chickpeas are what I had on hand.) Her recipe is also enormous, so I halved it. So here are the ingredients I ended up with:

Chickpea Plov
Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry you are!

2 Cups (or 1 can, which is a little scant but fine) Chickpeas
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric (this was to substitute in color for the paprika she uses)
A generous shake of ground allspice
1.5 Cups rice (I used brown basmati for extra flavor)
3 Cups water
1 head garlic, most of the papery skin peeled away (as much as you can with just rubbing it)

I sautéed all the veggies and spices together first, until the chickpeas started to brown, to give everything lots of flavor:
From there I followed the directions from the original recipe: add the rice, stir to mix it all together, then add the water, lower the heat, and cover.
And here's the coolest part, the "roasted" garlic. In the last 10-15 minutes of cooking (so if you're using white rice, pretty much as soon as you cover it--if you're using brown rice, after about 15-20 minutes), you put an entire head of garlic right in the center of the pilaf, so it steams and gets soft and creamy on the inside--just like roasted garlic from the oven, but less messy and in way less time! I could not believe how cool this was, and have done it with other dishes now.
There it is! Hidden in the center of the plov! At the time I was really worried about the garlic burning or sloughing off its skin into the rice, but it all worked out just fine.

The tashkent salad (or is it supposed to be salad tashkent? I do not speak Uzbek so I have no idea) was a veganized version of this recipe from Tasty Arbuz. Tashkent salad is basically a creamy slaw made of radishes and tongue, which, you know, super not vegan. (Have any of you read Hugo Hamilton's memoir The Speckled People? There is a tongue-as-food-related scene in it that is incredibly well written... and it describes how gross the whole family found it. If I were still doing my "food from books" series, this would be such a good one!) But I had some leftover baked tofu from a previous dinner, which, thinly sliced, was a perfect tongue substitute. And I used vegenaise instead of mayo, and everything was fine! 

Verdict: I would definitely make plov again, and am so excited about this "roasted" garlic technique. As for the tashkent salad, it was fine, but essentially a radish slaw, for which I don't really need a specific recipe in the future.

Have you ever had Uzbek food? Is there any dish from that buzzfeed list you'd like to make/veganize? Keep me posted!


aburaage, inari, and kitsune udon

I have decided to admit to myself that I am not good at blogging regularly. Admit it, get over it, and try to update at least more than one month a year. So hello again!

When I go out for sushi, my FAVORITE thing to order, hands down, is Inari. For those of you who haven't had it, it's fried tofu that has ben simmered in soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, then turned into thin pouches that are then stuffed with rice. It's sweet, salty, and filled with rice, so it has pretty much everything I love.

At various Asian markets, I have seen canned and refrigerated prepared aburaage that is just ready for stuffing with rice, but the ingredients are awful. Many have fish flakes, high fructose corn syrup, and/or MSG, all of which I avoid. (For the record, many restaurants make their own, so you can ask if you're concerned about these ingredients.) So I decided to try to make it on my own.

To prepare inari-style tofu, you "start" with aburaage, I say "start" because aburaage is deep fried, thinly-sliced tofu cutlets. You can make these yourself, but who wants to spend a bunch of time deep frying thinly sliced tofu? Not me. I bought it.
 I harbored secret hopes that the interiors would be pre-split, like pitas are, so that the "pouch" effect would be really easy to attain. This was not true. But also not something I had to worry about yet. I followed Just Hungry's methods for preparing inari, which first involves blanching the tofu, then patting it down with towels, to help get rid of some of the extra oil.

The next step was to slice them in half, then simmer them for a little while in a broth made of dashi (mine is always made from boiling kombu and wakame for a few minutes), tamari, mirin, and sugar. I don't have sake, so I just doubled down on the mirin. The thing I liked best about making this myself was being able to cut back on the sugar; I like it a little sweet, but some inari is too sugary for my taste.
 After they simmered and cooled in their own broth, I separated the insides (using the method recommended by Just Hungry--poking around in it with a chopstick) and stuffed several of them with rice. (Another thing I liked about being able to make it at home: brown rice!)
 I served the inari with nimono made primarily from butternut squash, more rice, and some sesame-garlic collards. This is Kevin's bowl; mine had a heck of a lot more inari pouches, but his looks daintier so we're going with that.

BUT I didn't use ALL the prepared aburaage for inari sushi. I saved some of it to make kitsune udon! "Kitsune" means fox, because in Japanese folklore, the trickster fox loves fried tofu. I agree with the fox. I followed this recipe from Just One Cookbook almost exactly, except no fish cake, obviously. And, as usual, gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
I know the cropping is a little weird, but I wanted you to be able to see how our cat Molly creeped into the corner of the picture, lurker that she is. This udon was AMAZING, and we both went back for more.