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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tale of two biscotti

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....Ok, ok, actually both of these recipes aren't half bad. But I think they both could use a little tweaking.  But more on that later.

Ever since I bought the Sticky Fingers bakery cookbook I've been dealing with a conundrum.  Do I stick with old faithful recipes that have historically, done me well? Or do I try new recipes to see if they are better.  And how will I know that they are better if I'm not doing a head to head taste test?  But doing a head to head taste test is a whole LOT of work.

Well, I bit the bullet and finally did a head to head taste test.

In corner number one, we have the champion. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero with the chocolate hazelnut biscotti recipe from Veganomicon.  Full disclosure, I had no hazelnuts so I made them chocolate almond biscotti.

In corner number two, we have the challenger. Doron Petersan and the new Sticky Fingers Cookbook.

One big difference between the two recipes, is that Sticky Fingers provides not only cup measurements, but measurements by weight.  I opted to go for accuracy, and broke out the old kitchen scale.  Also, this recipe uses Earth Balance and Ener-G instead of oil and flax seeds.

However, I'm still a little iffy on which method would yield a better cookie because the dough came out very stiff, almost like play dough.

The first bake turned out pretty normally though. And sliced pretty easily.

The second bake was also pretty uneventful.  The consistency, was a little brownie like.  Not as flakey as the biscotti I like.

They were also slightly not sweet enough.  And I wonder if this is because I added too much flour and cocoa powder because I went by the weight measurements.  

The Veganomicon dough was much more of a normal cookie dough consistency.  This made it a little bit more difficult to work with when forming into the first bake, but overall, I think it yielded a tenderer cookie.  

So it a head to head comparison, I have to say that  I think Veganomicon won. But we'll do best two out of three....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thanksgiving test run

 Baby Turkeys Farm Animail Rescue

I love Thanksgiving.  I love the fact that for one day, everyone sits down to a relatively similar meal. I love the flavors of the season. Root vegetables, stuffing, cranberries, parsley, sage rosemary, and thyme.  I also hate Thanksgiving.  I hate the fact that a holiday celebrating gratitude also has a second meeting of celebrating the slaughter of millions of turkeys.  I like Turkeys a lot. And because I like Turkeys, I stating early on taste testing and perfecting my Thanksgiving menu.  I mean the food I will bring to my family's Thanksgiving, that no one except me will eat, but I will enjoy knowing that no Turkeys were harmed in the making of this meal.

In years past I have focused my attention on the side dishes and relied on old faithful -- the tofurkey -- as my main dish.  But this yearI think I'm gonna get a little crazy, and go for a stuffed seitan roast.

I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe.  I substituted the shitakes for creminis, and the leaks with onions, and the bread crumbs with matzo meal.  But other than that I stayed pretty true to the recipe. :)

The roast came out pretty good. However, I'm going to try it again with a stuffing that contrasts a little more.  The mushrooms and onions blend in pretty well with the roast.  Next time I think I'm going to try a cranberry walnut stuffing.   

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

I haven't dabbled in pie very much.  This is because I HATE making pie crust.   But give me a good graham cracker crust and it a whole new world of possibilities.

So I'm super excited that my new Sticky Fingers Cookbook has tons of pie recipes that all call for a simple crust of graham crackers, sugar and Earth Balance.

Maria gives it two thumbs up.
Considering coconut cream pie is the only way Robert will eat coconut, it seemed like a natural starting point.  The recipe is very simple. Coconut milk, sugar and cornstarch for the custard, and then coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut on top.  I'm particularly excited about the coconut whipped cream. I know most recipes call for separating the coconut cream by chilling the can overnight.  But I didn't have time so I just whipped the whole coconut milk.  AND IT WORKED.  Truthfully, it was a little too loose for a pie topping but would be fantastic with berries or on top of ice cream.  The pie was good.  Next time I might add about 1/2 recipe more of the custard filling and make the whipped topping stiffer.  But all in all, it was worth the calories.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

California to Reno and vegan food on the way!

Me at the James Dean memorial.
It was Robert's  idea.
Last weekend the husband and I took a little road trip to see family in Reno.   Mazel Tov to Gordon and Erin again on their beautiful wedding!

Here are some of the highlights and critiques of all the food we ate along the way...

First stop was dinner in Sacramento, at Cafe Capricho.  On the positive side, the settings is lovely with a nice patio to enjoy the summer evening and a cold brew. The menu is varied with veg and non-veg offerings.  Hence why Robert looks so happy about his burrito.

I had summer squash enchiladas with an almond sauce.  Frankly I found the sauce needed A LOT of salt. They were very bland and lacked a bit of imagination.

For dessert we went to the Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe and Bakery.   Now, these confections were good. Don't get me wrong.  They were like a B+.   The Whoopie pies were a little dry, and the Little Devils could have used more frosting.  But it certainly wasn't terrible.  I think this is an amazing time in vegan baking where we don't have to settle for just B+ baked goods.  That won't cut it anymore.  Plus, I'm a little tired of the cupcake-centric vegan bakeries.  We, as a community need to branch out.  There's a whole world out there of rugelach, biscottie, baklava, just waiting to be veganized.

And now, for the highlight of the whole trip.....


This place almost makes me want to move to Reno.
Tucked away on a very hip and cute street in Reno, Freeman's serves gourmet hotdogs of the vegan and carnivorous persuasion. I had the "Bun Burner" which consists of vegan chorizo, chipotle aioli, and jalapenos on a poppy seed bun.

You can also choose from a plain veggie dog or vegan italian sausage and build your own special creation from their list of toppings.  And yes they have vegan chili and Daiya cheese!

Unfortunately they were out of vegan chili when I was there.  But I will get a second chance in December when Melissa gets married.  Freeman's I love you!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stuffed Crescent Rolls: An Easy Breakfast Treat

I'm a big believer in starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Just ask my husband. For all my baking goodies and cooking decadent food, we rarely have a pancake, waffle, french toast or hash brown in this neck of the woods.


Occasionally,  it is acceptable to start the day with something a little sinful.  This breakfast idea is so simply, its laughable to say this is a real recipe.

Step 1:   Buy a package of ready made crescent rolls.  Pillsbury are vegan but they have hydrogenated oil.  I used Immaculate Baking Company which may contain milk derived "natural flavor."

Step 2:  Open crescent roll container and remove dough.

Step 3:  Spread filling on unrolled crescent rolls.  I did two different types of fillings.  Tofu cream cheese w/ strawberry jam in half of them, and peanut butter with chocolate chips in the other half.  You can use all sorts of combinations.

Step 4:  Bake crescent rolls according to directions.  The filling will leak out a bit, but they are quite yummy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hamentaschen? Yum-entaschen!

I have high hopes for Purim.  I feel like it could be the Jewish cross-over holiday.  Like St. Patrick's day, Cinco de Mayo and Mardi Gras.  I think we could take Purim to the next level.

I also had high hopes for these Hamentaschen...and the delivered! I used this recipe from Gale Gand as a starting point, substituted Ener-G for the eggs and added a few extra tablespoons of water to get the dough to come together.  Come together it did.

After about an hour of chilling in the fridge, I rolled the dough out, used a glass as a cookie cutter and made about 12 little cookies, filled with apricot jam.  This was a test run.  I have some poppy seed filling and a recipe for homemade apricot filling waiting for this weekend!

I really didn't need to eat four of them to confirm that they were good.  But, I think the last time I had a Hamentaschen was in pre-school.  So I guess you could say I'm making up for lost time.  Now I know this blog post only glossed over the instructions.

So if you need more advice on how to assemble these little cookies, here's some very sage advice from Shalom Sesame !

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Festive Chickpea Tart........Seriously it tastes good.

When searching for a new recipe to use up the chickpeas I had on my shelf I came across this recipe for a chickpea tart.  I sounded so weird that I had to try it.  My first thought was that it would be like a big pie of hummus.

Basically the pie is a mixture of walnuts an chickpeas pureed with onions, celery and garlic.  Then you fold in spinach, chopped parsley, thyme and dried cranberries. Next you place the mixture in a pie crust. I used a frozen whole wheat pie shell just because I had one in the freezer, but you could totally make your own.  Finally, you bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  The critical step is to let the pie set up for about 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

Basically, its a take on quiche. And its really good. I served with a light salad, but carmelized pearl onions, roasted potatoes and cranberry sauce would also be awesome on colder nights when you want something heartier.