Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Odd Mushy Cassarole

I had four or five yellow squashes. Not a huge fan of yellow squash in the first place, I have to admit, so I decided to shred & disguise the squash in a tofu-based casserole. They leaked out so much water when they cooked that the casserole is more like a spread...it has the texture of a soft boiled egg. Its not great, but not horrible either. I think the better plan would have been to chop them and some carrots up, fry up some onion in margarine, then add the carrots & squash and possibly add a cheese-esque sauce to it. I was trying to use up stuff in my fridge though. In that I was successful, but this is giving me the 'you will have to freeze me because you will get tired of me and my not that good weirdness'. If only I had black salt, maybe I could make it seem like a soft boiled egg and eat it on margariney toast? I need that and a cherry pitter, since I just bought two containers of cherries from Trader Joes on a whim. I feel a cream cheese cherry danish coming on...but no time to actually bake! Sigh...

Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes

These were super good. I used Bryanna Clark Grogan's high fiber flour recipe again (except for I replaced some of the brown rice flour with Arrowhead Mills AP Gluten free baking mix out of concern for my overworked seed grinder grinding up brown rice). I felt it would be ideal for a carrot cake recipe. I was exactly correct. I attended a friends wedding, and one of her friends is on a gluten free diet, so I figured, take care of all the special needs at once, and earn some points for team vegan. I really think this is an excellent form of outreach, as well as a nice thing to do.

The recipe I used for the cupcakes was (aside from the substitution of the GF flour) from Vegan w. a Vengeance. I used walnuts instead of macadamia nuts, and I skipped the coconut, and subbed water for the pineapple juice. I did also add a little more oil than the recipe called for. For the icing, I wanted to do a cream cheesey style icing, but didn't feel like going to Whole Foods for faux cream cheese, so I made 'sea foam icing' from Vegan Vittles, which involves dissolving agar flakes in maple syrup on the stove. Has anyone ever gotten agar flakes to ACTUALLY DISSOLVE? Because they end up like little clear grains of rice floating around, and are chewy and kinda knarly in fact. So I had to strain the little bug-egg like wierdos out of the maple syrup, then the icing wasn't coming together, I had to add powdered sugar and then xanthan gum. So not exactly the best texture ever. I would like to work with agar appropriately, I wish some cookbook was actually honest about what an annoying non-dissolving product it is. I am going to grind it in the seed grinder next time before trying to dissolve it.

I really enjoyed the cupcakes a lot. I couldn't tell they were gluten free. Its nice to be able to say 'I couldn't tell it wasn't the real thing', when I have actually eaten the real thing recently, as opposed to say, the many cheese-like substances or faux meats where I haven't eaten 'the real thing' in so long that I have totally lost perspective.

The brother of the bride is vegan and brought vanilla cupcakes from 'The Joy of Vegan Baking'. Man, they rocked! I enjoyed them so much.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Faux Crab cakes + Okra Tomato Facon Goodness

Once again we made a recipe from Vegan Brunch, the faux crab cakes (called chesapeake cakes). They aren't listed under crab cake, so I actually added crab cake to the index in pencil, because really, its a fake crab cake and I can't seem to remember 'chesapeake cakes'. It was about 9pm when I started these babies, so as you can imagine, I was like "I'm not staying up all night to fry these" and I baked 'em instead. Yes, I know that's always a huge mistake, and why we need a deep fat fryer. I'm not trying to gain 10 lbs. or anything...but think of it: perfect hash browns, latkes, "crab" cakes, and whatever other patties and etc. we end up baking out of laziness which could taste 100 times better. The remoulade was crazy flavorful, which is a good compliment to the fairly bland flavor of the cakes. I feel like I can't give a thumbs up or down to this recipe, because I know first hand how much of a difference baking vs. frying makes. When I make them again, I will fry them and let you know.

Onto Okra and Facony goodness! Now, I'm not a huge okra person. The snotty texture is groady. However, this recipe came out non-snotty and totally tasty! The recipe is adapted from Cooking Light's Stewed okra with Tomatoes and Bacon.

3 Facon Bacon Tempeh bacon slices sliced into 1/2-1 inch squares
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 chopped green bell pepper + 1/2 chopped red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups sliced fresh okra (about 1 pound)
14 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 tbs oil, then add facon slices in a fry pan with high sides over medium-high heat until crisp, flipping to other side to fry evenly. Remove facon from pan, leave any oil in pan.

2. Add another few tsps oil, Add 1 cup onion, green bell pepper, and garlic to pan, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add okra, tomato, hot sauce, vinegar, salt, thyme, and black pepper. (at this point it still looks snotty. Don't worry, that goes away, keep on going) Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until okra is tender. Sprinkle with facon and mix in.

Also, I made a beet salad that was kind of gross. I made a dressing for it and it was too runny, so I added maybe a tsp of xanthan gum (my new friend), and then thought, eh, why not add another, doesn't look thick enough. BAD IDEA, xanthan gum just takes a few mins to thicken up, so I had what would have been a rockin' beet salad covered in goo. It was like the slime from ghostbusters. Will post pix tonight. Hopefully. I am making gluten free carrot cupcakes, so it may not happen, but I'll try!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ground Cherry Custard Pie with Crumbly Topping

Yum! We had a bunch of pineapple tomatillos (also called ground cherries, because they are sweet and non-tomatatillo-ey), and didn't know what to do with them. I just received Vegan Yum Yum (the cookbook by Lauren Ulm) as a present. In it, she has a recipe for a berry tart. Her cream/berries are uncooked, but I figured, really these little guys need cooking, they are too firm uncooked. I wasn't sure how the tofu/coconut milk based cream would come out baked, but it turned out very much like an egg custard. First I made a pie crust and pre-baked for 10 mins (please use a pie crust edge cover, I didn't and mine burned as a result), then I added the blended up silken tofu/coconut milk cream concoction (full recipe in Vegan YumYum) to which I added about 8-10 basil leaves. I then added the peeled pineapple tomatillos (ground cherries) and mixed them around (probably should have mixed those together in advance). For the crumbly topping, I pastry-cuttered together about 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 6 TBS margarine, 8 finely minced basil leaves, and 1/2 tsp salt, and a wee bit of soymilk till it was moist looking but not wet. That made extra though, so I had about 1/4 cup leftover. The basil was in there to compliment the pineapple flavor of the tomatillos. I baked for maybe 40 mins? Just till the center started puffing up. It rocked, except the crust edges which I burned. I think I'll make flan using the cream recipe for the cream tarts in Vegan yum yum, I think it might work well. I really have a problem making a decent pie crust without the use of shortening. Yet I don't stock shortening because I hardly ever make a pie crust. Also I always try to add a little ww pastry flour to my crusts, and my crusts end up a bit tough. Not sure if that's why, or I overmix and activate the gluten. Future research will be helpful. I can't post the recipe because its in the cookbook so I figure there is likely some type of copyright protection there. Sorry folks! At least my postings about the cookbook might help you deicide to purchase it or not.