Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to throw a flavor tripping party

Once we learned that there was a berry that made sour foods taste sweet, we knew we had to try it. I mean, the active ingredient is called "miraculin!"* Anyway, to prepare we got our tablets (we used Miracle Frooties XL from Amazon and they were great) and procured a wide array of sour foods. We wanted some things that were super-sour, other than were sweet and sour, at least one "plain sweet" food as a reference, something bitter, and some surprises. We kept the party small both because the tablets are expensive and so our gimpy dog wouldn't get too wild.

We started out with fruit:
The pink grapefruit was the best, it wasn't very sour so it just gave it enough sweetness to overcome the bitterness. The kiwi was good, and the strawberries were delicious (I didn't like them dipped in vegan sour cream, even though it did taste sweet [I liked it! -Sarah]). The Granny Smith apple was too sweet but edible, the Gold Rush apples (which are already intensely sweet AND intensely sour) were way too sweet to eat. Ditto with the limes and lemons, they were like eating straight sugar. We were going to make sugar-free mojitos or something, but they're so sweet (and not sour at all) it's way too intense.

Here's most of the rest of our spread:

I would recommend skipping the vegan blue cheese (which just tasted normal), grapes taste normal too but it's a nice reference to the super-sweet foods that are usually sour. Sauerkraut is definitely recommended for the unique experience, but it was so sweet and cabbagey that we found it pretty revolting. The salsa we had was sweeter, but strangely not gross. The hummus and tapenade tasted about normal, which was a nice relief from everything being so sweet. Not pictured are some amazing unsweetened lemon-raspberry tarts.

For drinks, we got some dry high-acid Italian wine which ended up tasting sort of like a dessert wine, but more complex than they typically are. The beer was good too, Sam Adams black lager was especially tasty, and the Stone IPA was nice since the bitterness balanced out the sweetness. I also had some Angostura bitters I added to my attempt to make dilute sugarless lemonade, but even with the bitters it was still too sweet. Taking a shot of vinegar was universally acclaimed as the most interesting and surreal experience of the night. It's still intense and burns, but also very sweet. Not something you'll forget.

If we did it again, we might try the normal fruit tablets instead of the XL version, since the XLs have twice as much and perhaps that's why everything was so painfully sweet. If you try it out, let us know how it goes in the comments section!

*does calling an ingredient miraculin remind anyone else of 'unobtainium' from the movie Avatar? -Sarah

BBQ Soy Curl Pizza w/ Spicy Crust

For some reason I was craving California-style barbecue chicken pizza, which I used to make with a mix of gouda and fontina cheese. We had some soy curls, and found vegan Gouda St. Martaen cheese from Pangea, so gave it a whirl. Here's what it looked like prior to baking:

The basic recipe is as follows (note that the dough recipe is a modification of the one from James McNair's book("Pizza") which I highly recommend:

1 package soy curls, softened in warm water as per directions (I didn't use the whole pack on the pizza, but the leftovers were great in a sandwich)
1 small bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (I used maybe ~1/3 bottle, enough to marinate all of the soy curls for a couple of hours)
1/2 small red onion, cut into strips (half rings)
1 pack vegan gouda cheese

Pizza dough:
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup warm (not hot) water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 packet yeast (or bulk equivalent)

Start by softening the soy curls and mix  them up with enough BBQ sauce to marinate in the fridge. For the dough, proof the yeast (add the sugar to the water, stir, then add yeast, let it sit for a few minutes to make sure it forms foam on top, if not your yeast is no good and/or you made the water too cold or hot: try again). Mix together the dry ingredients, adjusting paprika and cayenne to your guess of how peppery / spicy you want it. Add the yeasty water and olive oil, and mix well. If it's still tacky, add flour a bit at a time while you knead it for several minutes with your hands. You want the dough to be smooth (not sticky) but not too tough / hard. Coat the dough with a thin coat of olive oil and set it to rise for an hour.

After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450F, shape the dough into an oiled pizza pan (or on a cookie sheet), brush a bit of oil on the crust, and bake for 3-5 minutes. Take it out, top with the soy curls, then the gouda, then the red onion. Return to the oven and bake until the crust is crispy. Time varies wildly according to your oven and the type of pan you use, but 10-15 minutes ought to do it. The Gouda is way more mild than real Gouda, but it's still a great flavor. Here's how it looked after baking (it's hard to see that the crust is reddish from the paprika, but it was):

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Things that make you go hrrm?: ćevapčići

We couldn't resist the allure of trying out the vegetarian version of a food that we'd never heard of and had no idea how to pronounce. Sarah described them as tasting like a salty grease sponge, which is fair, but they also had a pretty interesting salty flavor, and they were tasty with some Korean gochujang paste that we had leftover. They do look pretty gross, and are heavy, but they were just the filling snack we needed last night to get through the process of making tacos!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Herbed "Cheesy" Drop Biscuits w/ Garlicky Chard

We're now all caught up with the more interesting dishes that we've made over the past few months! The last one is for these biscuits I made yesterday morning. Sarah always likes a hearty breakfast on the weekends, but since we've given up on sugar for Lent pancakes etc. end up pretty gross, so I went savory instead. Sarah got the chard to make these baked cheesy chard toast points which are a lot of work so I just put it with the biscuits instead. The biscuits came out a bit too salty, but since I didn't salt the chard it actually worked out to be pretty tasty when all together. If eating the biscuits plain I would probably cut the salt in half.

Herbed "Cheesy" Drop Biscuits
1 2/3 cups white flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp powdered dried rosemary
1 Tbsp baking poweder
1/2 tsp salt (as noted above, you may wish to use 1/4 tsp if eating these on their own)
3/4 cup nondairy milk (I ended up needing a bit more to make the dough the right texture).
1/3 -> 1/2 cup nondairy margarine (I used almost 1/2 cup)

Preheat the overn to 450F and grease a cookie sheet. Mix the flour, nutritional yeast, spices, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add the margarine and use a pastry cutter to cut it up into small pieces (about the size of a green pea is ideal, I always end up making them too small but they're still good). Add the soy milk and stir until moistened (don't overmix); adding a bit more soy milk if it's too dry. Form roughly golf-ball sized biscuits (don't press them together much, you want them to have lots of surface area) and drop them onto the cookie sheet. Bake ~10-15 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown and they're cooked all the way through. Top with garlicky chard (below) to make them a bit healthier.

Garlicky Chard
1 bunch chard (any color)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high, add the garlic once the oil is hot, cook for a minute, then add the chard and cook until it's nicely wilted. Serve over the biscuits.

Vegan "Steaks", Garlicky Broccolini, and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

For the weekend after Valentine's day, I made Sarah this feast:

The "steaks" were from Bryanna Clark Grogan's World Vegan Feast, and I made up a mushroom gravy to serve with them. The texture was pretty amazing - very much like veal - but  the flavor was pretty mild despite all the salty veggie beef boullion they were cooked in. The sweet potato fries were misted with oil, coated in a spice mix inspired by curly fries (salt, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, and cayenne pepper) and baked until crispy. The broccolini I just stir-fried with a lot of garlic that I had soaked in some good olive oil for a few hours. It was quite a meal.

"Ricotta" Gnocchi w/ Roasted Garlic Marinara

Sarah made me this for Valentine's Day! She started with a recipe she found online for ricotta gnocchi, but made some tofu ricotta instead of the real thing, and had to use more flour. The sauce was more or less from Emeril's roasted garlic marinara recipe. They were super-garlicky and delicious!

Beet Burgers

Sarah started with the recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen:, but she used 2 tbs of tahini butter instead of almond butter, cooked moong dal (instead of regular lentils) in better than bouillon not beef broth and 1/2 tsp onion powder, and skipped the salt b/c the better than bouillon stuff is super salty, and didn't chill them. They looked like this when raw:

and when cooked they looked like this:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate-Almond Ganache and Cinnamon-Coffee Sauce

We made this cake from the Millennium Cookbook for our neighbors Ben & Dawn. It was almost very tasty, but it definitely came out too dry. We used almonds instead of hazelnuts b/c who wants to peel those dame hazelnut skins off?!

Here's how it looked when cut:

Rustic Kale-Squash Tart

This recipe is from Bryanna Clark Grogan's World Vegan Feast:

It was super delicious.

Tacos w/ Scorpion Paste

We've been taking pictures of food we have made with the plan of writing a nice blog post for each one, but we seem to be too busy for that to happen, so we decided just to post a bunch of pictures with brief descriptions for each. Here's the first!

The recipe for Scorpion Paste comes from my sister-in-law Gudrun, and we ate it with my standard freestyled tacos (chayote, onion, black beans, chipotle peppers in adodo sauce, fresh herbs, etc. etc.). I posted a very rough guide of what I put in the tacos, and the scorpion paste recipe is below that:

Mexican Beans (from Jon)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion (1 small onion or ½ big onion)
1 red pepper (optional)
4 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, minced (they come in cans, save the unused ones)
½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp Mexican oregano
¼ tsp salt
5 cups cooked beans (black, pinto, it’s all good) or 3 cans
½ cup water
1 lime (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
Salsa (optional)
            Heat up the oil in a skillet, and when hot add the onion (and the red pepper if you’re using it), and sauté for a few minutes until they get soft. Add the chili peppers and spices, and cook for another minute or so until it smells good, then add the beans and stir well. Cook them for a few minutes, then add the water. I like kind of half-refried beans so I just use a masher to break up roughly half of the beans in the skillet but leave some whole, and keep mixing them up. Eat on tortillas, and add lime and/or cilantro and/or salsa if you like.

Scorpion Paste (from Gudrun Danielson)
1 7 oz. jar, or 2/3 cup roasted red peppers
½ tsp cumin, whole or ground
½ tsp salt
4 cloves raw garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
6 (or more, if you're cocky) whole dried chiles (pequin, tepin, Japanese) that have been softened in hot water.

            Combine all in a blender, making sure to scrape down the sides with a spatula once or twice, until it becomes a uniform emulsion.  If using whole chilies, you'll have to blend a bit more, so that the seeds are pulverized, adding their heat to your concoction.  The finished product should be as thick as mayonnaise.  Pack the paste into a small jar, cover with a thin film of vegetable oil, and refrigerate indefinitely.  If you want to add some quick heat to stews, burritos, or curries, or kill a cold by spreading it on toast and eating it, well, this is the recipe for you!  It keeps marvelously well, and increases its potency as long as it has a thin coat of oil on top, and is refrigerated.