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December 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

PBBs using new rolling technique. Smooth operators.


Intros and Inspirations

Mom used to make this and bring it to family gatherings where she was showered with compliments. A close cousin reminded Mom that she in fact had given her the recipe and made them first (near the time when she invented the peanut butter chocolate combo) but this remains a family favorite, origin feud or no.


History of Dish

They are two great tastes that taste great together. This vegan version has tasters exclaiming, “These are vegan?!” with even more italics than I could muster with this font. These are also similar (or identical) to buckeyes.


Yield

Enough to cost you the equivalent of a month long gym membership, biking to work every day until Easter, or More to Love status forever.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup non-hydro soy butter (Earth Balance=the best)*
  • 1 t vanilla (optional)
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips**
  • 2 T coconut oil or soy butter

Whip together:

Peanut butter, soy butter, & vanilla

Add & whip:

Powdered sugar

*Note: for an even more decadent (but harder to roll into balls) treat, use equal parts peanut butter and soy butter

** Whole Foods semi-sweet and Ghiradelli semi-sweet are vegan last I checked.


Steps

  • Refrigerate the mixture for about an hour.
  • Roll into balls.
  • For best/easiest rolling results, freeze these for another hour.
  • Once ready to roll, melt the chips & oil/soy butter using the double boiler method.
  • Your PBB’s will be dipped then placed onto a tray/plate. It’s easiest if you place them onto a plate with waxed or parchment paper.
  • To dip, use a fork and a slotted wooden spoon (thanks Amanda) and lower each ball into the melted chocolate. Let drip off into pan, then place onto wax paper.

Place into fridge to harden – it should only take 30 minutes or less. Or leave them out if you’re without heat and it’s winter time.

Conclusion

Perfect with a little soy milky, or soy nog.



These are from an experiment I did pouring the chocolate into cupcake cup minies. Makes you feel like Mrs. Reeses!

December 9, 2010

Purple Power Stock-It-Up Smoothie


Intros and Inspirations

Lost any blood lately? Whether you scraped your knee, are minus an appendage, or it’s your time of the month, this smoothie’s got you covered.

Iron, calcium, and yum yum: the perfect trio if you’re down a pint.

History of Dish

With origins in Brazil then brought to the US in the 60’s in the awakening health movement, the smoothie has been referred to as a “politically correct shake.”

This might be my own interpretation/historical account, but “Smoothie” rhymes with “hippie” and can be placed in songs together seamlessly. The word also allows one to express their often repressed desire to talk baby talk.

PC or punk rock, the Purple Power Stock-It-Up would be just what your doctor ordered, if you had health insurance.


Yield

Three modest-sized servings, two less modest servings, or one gluttonous purple colored debauchery.


This is how much you will have. 1.75 cups. Is this a pint? Someone from England, help.


Ingredients

Meds
  • 1 cup soy milk (calcium!)
  • ½ cup fresh kale (calcium!)
  • 4-5 frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Strap Molasses (calcium! Iron!)
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter (calcium!)

Blend until smooth.


Conclusion

Did you know that 1 Tablespoon of Black Strap Molasses has 20% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of both iron AND calcium? And a heck of a lot of potassium, more than a banana?

Beyond that, it sweetens...making this smoothie a shake, taste-wise.

If you’re having trouble seeing after your injury/blood loss, the 100% RDA of Vitamin A from the Kale should help. Not to mention the off-the-chart (if you were using a chart just now) Vitamin K, there to help your calcium absorb.

For more nutritional info, check out this site.

Now YOU: What's your favorite smoothie combo?


November 24, 2010

Creamy Spinach Basket Dip

They were all out of round bread baskets.

Intros and Inspirations

At one point probably already mentioned on this blog I thought it would be a grand idea to make all foods with edible containers. Off the top of my head, this already includes burritos, taco salads, spring rolls, pot pies, pizza, and….spinach dip in bread baskets. I also recall an edible bamboo basket at Seattle’s vegan restaurant Bamboo Garden. Zero waste and 100% filling? It’s very utilitarian.

Utility aside, I love to eat a damned good spinach dip. I’m especially keen on the fact that, as a friend exclaimed, “You can’t even taste the spinach!”


History of Dish

My rule to spend two seconds searching for food item history did not yield results for the origin of spinach dip, so I am going to opine the following:

Spinach is yucky. If you hide it in cream and fat and salt, you will not notice this trait as you eat it and you will absorb a lot of iron.

Yield

One bowl o’ spinach dip enough for bread basket.


Ingredients

Mix together in bowl:

  • 8 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 5 stocks celery, chopped/minced
  • 1 leek, minced
  • ½ cup Bac’Uns
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetarian “chicken” broth powder

Blend in mixer/blender:

  • 1 tub Tofutti sour cream
  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

Add the blended mix to the other mix, and stir together.



Cut out a hole from the top of either a round or regular loaf of bread as pictured. Chop up the cut outs for dipping.


Place spinach dip into the bread hole and you’re finished. Serve with Ritz-style crackers (we buy the generic Whole Foods brand).

Conclusion

This one is a potlucker, meaning it might take the place of my seitan at future parties, for awhile. Delicious, smoky, smooth, creamy, lovely iron.


Layered Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake


And then, all dressed up



Intros and Inspirations

When I was an eater of cheese, I most certainly did not agree with it being included in the cake family.* So I do not have a long, loving history with this dish. However, back in Seattle as a new vegan I had the most beautiful piece of dessert awesomeness in the form of vegan Kahlua Cheesecake one day.

From then on, I was ready to embrace the flavor marriage. Though the recipe below is rather opposite something Paula ‘heart failure’ Dean would prescribe for your sweet teeth, and adapted from the Fat Free Vegan blog, it in fact is not fat free. Instead, we have a rich, sweet, tangy, and spicy cake wonderment that is sure to make people fall in love with you (all over again).

I decided to serve this at our 3rd annual Vegan Thanksgiving Record Party.

Cake adapted/reprinted from the Fat Free Vegan Blog.

*Ditto for the chocolate-fruit combo.


History of Dish

As if I needed more encouragement to make this dish every week to celebrate things I make up, it turns out cheesecake is thought to originate in ancient Greece. Better yet, Pythagoras, a vegetarian, was rumored to have baked the first vegan version of this dish.** Unfortunately, it failed since the local Agora was out of Tofutti Cream Cheese.

Democracy and cheesecake follows.

** This was completely fabricated during sugar high experienced by blog poster.

Yield and Preheat

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Crust

This one is just from my head. I made it up since one of my guests is gluten free. It just occurred to me she might be soy-free as well. OOPS!

  • One box of Lucy’s Cinnamon Thins (5.5 oz): Crush it in your blender/food processor, pour into bowl.
  • 1 cup of oatmeal: Crush in your blender/food processor, pour into bowl.
  • 1/8 cup Earth Balance butter, melted, pour into bowl

Mix all three above in the bowl.



Spread into your pie pan.



Like this, except spread your filling up the side of the pan.


1st layer

Blend the following until silky smooth:


8 ounces (one tub) Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

6 ounces (1/2 tub) Tofutti Sour Supreme

6 ounces (1/2 of package) firm silken tofu (or extra-firm)
1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Remove 1 ½ cups of the mixture and pour into your awaiting pie crust.


Double the fun.


2nd layer

Into the awaiting blender, add the following, then blend until smooth:


1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons rum (optional)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Carefully pour on top of the first layer, spreading around by turning/rotating the pie pan.


Layers!


Baking

Bake until the center is almost set, about 60 minutes (or until you become impatient, about 10 minutes). Insert a toothpick into the center -- it should be firm. If not, give it more time.

This pie must cool. Chill for 3 hours at least in your fridge.

Conclusion

Thank you, Fat Free Vegan for creating this wonderful recipe. I'm not a fan of pumpkin, and this tastes a bit pumpkin pie-y to me. But I had to convince Rob to save the rest for our guests.




We at Fat Love Cafe added a little bit o' Soyatoo on top.





Vegan Thanksgiving Record Party



Stay tuned for recipes from our party...

For now, check out MFA's 30 second vid for Thanksgiving:
http://www.vegan.com/blog/2010/11/24/mfas-30-second-thanksgiving-commercial/

August 29, 2010

Buena Vista Vegan Club

Clockwise from delicious: Cabbage salad, Delight Soy 'chicken' savory stew, mango salsa, yellow rice & black beans, fresh avocado, spicy blue cornbread.

Intros and Inspirations

I first became curious about Cuban cuisine during our month-long tour in Florida this past February. When I asked some locals if I might find some vegan-friendly Cuban food, laughter was a common response. It was then I realized that if I were to try the cuisine, I would have to discover it in my own kitchen. While in the back of my mind, I did not make a move until my good friend Bonnie decided to have a Cuban-themed dinner party and I was inspired to make some accompaniments to her delicious roasted yucca, tangy stewed Delight Soy chicken, yellow rice, & beans (see above picture).


Since I'm new to Cuban cooking, I can directly trace the recipes upon which I've based my veganized versions. These are linked at the bottom of each recipe. The three dishes I chose were mango salsa, spicy cornbread, and flan. I changed them up a bit. If they were wearing trousers, they are now in a tutu.

History of Dish

According to Salsa Shack, salsa ("sauce") has been around since 3000 BC and was also made by the Aztecs using chiles, tomatoes, & tomatillos. The salsa included here is based on a version you will find in most Miami Cuban restaurants (minus the mango).


Corn bread (in our version blue corn bread, thanks to a certain purchasing decision by my beloved) can be traced to the Native American culture. When European settlers arrived, they ate bread made of corn out of necessity, and it was considered a sacrifice. Similarly, I remember my father saying that he could not eat corn bread due to having suffered through it as a child in Greece when nothing else was available. We can assure you this version will cause delight, not suffering.


I dislike Flan and flannish gelatinous desserts. I could not resist the challenge, however, of making something that is almost 100% based on eggs and cream, vegan. I must say this was delicious and I'll be making again but adding walnuts and other flavorings. Flan can be traced to Roman times when an excess of eggs made recipes using them popular. This version is salmonella and recall free!


You might wonder, how are these dishes Cuban? Cuban cuisine is a fusion of many different cuisines. That top ramen you're eating right now might be Cuban and you don't even know it.


Yield and Pre-heat

  • Enough salsa for a dinner party.
  • Enough corn bread for a dinner party, or 16 squares (who don't like to partay).
  • Enough flan for a party and leftovers the next day, or 3 large or 6 small flan.


Ingredients

~ 1 ~ :: Mango Salsa ::

  • 1 whole mango
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 3 T white vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste


Cut mango into small cubes, then the cubes into smaller pieces, and marinade in 2 T of the white vinegar and the lemon juice and stir in a sprinkle or pinch of cayenne pepper. Let sit for an hour or two.


Afterward, toss the garlic, cilantro, 1 T white vinegar, and juice of one lime into the blender. Strain the marinade from the mango into the blender as well. Blend until mixture is green.


Heat up the olive oil in a cast iron or other pan until warm but not smoky. Turn off the heat then stir in the blended mix and mango bits. Serve warm. Or cold. We don't care. It's tangy and delicious. Reminds me of Greek meets Spain meets Thailand. Maybe that's Cuban.


Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

Based on: http://icuban.com/food/mariquitas_salsa.html


~ 2 ~ : : Spicy Blue Cornbread ::

Dry:

  • 1 cup blue (or yellow) cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T ground flax
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper

Wet:

  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 slice of banana
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1/4 cup Corn kernels (1 ear of corn)
  • 1/4 cup canned mild or hot green peppers

Earth Balance for greasing pan.

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, and flax.


  • In a separate bowl, mash the silken tofu and banana together.
  • Add the soy milk, oil, chiles and corn to the wet mixture. (Scrape/cut the corn from the cob with a knife)
  • Make a well in the center of the dry mix and stir in the wet mixture.
  • Pour the batter into a 9-inch greased baking pan and bake 20 minutes or until cornbread separates slightly from the sides of the pan.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack to cool, then cut the bread into squares and serve warm.

Fluffy, sweet. Tangy, light.

Based on: http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/63630/spicy-cornbread-with-green-chiles


~3~ :: Flan ::

I was unable, with two tries, to make a good caramel. I can only refer you to a recipe and a few tips and hope that you can show me the way. Or, I can share my recipe for "Harder 'n Peanut Brittle." In any case, it worked well enough to create a nice coating on top of this flan.

Caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar.
  • 1/8 cup water

Put sugar and water in a sauce pan and stir to dissolve into a thick, sticky syrup. Then, DO NOT STIR. Only shake the pan. (Stirring makes the sugar crystalize.)

Place it on the stove top over medium-low heat. Holding the edge of the pan with a hot pad, tilt the pan from side to side as the sugar melts and caramelizes.

When all the sugar has melted and become a golden brown liquid, remove the pan from the stove. Pour into the bottom of ramekins. Work fast to ensure it does not harden too much prior to custard step.


For the Custard:

• 2 cups coconut milk
• 1 T agar-agar flakes*
• 1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu
• 1 1/2 T sugar
• 1 T vanilla extract (or rum extract)
• Pinch of salt


Prepare:

  • Place the coconut milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle with the agar flakes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the agar has dissolved.
  • Put the tofu, sugar, vanilla, salt, and coconut milk mixture in a blender and blend until very smooth.
  • Pour into the ramekins over the syrup, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours. Though I must say mine was ready sooner.
  • To remove from the ramekins, dip the bottom in hot water for about 15 seconds, then turn over onto a plate.
Can you believe it? The miracle of Agar Agar.


Based on:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/VEGAN-FLAN-50073184#ixzz0xMVvJ3O6

* Note: for my version, I used the Agar Agar in powder form pre-mixed with sugar from the Asian store. Therefore, I increased the amount in this recipe to 2 Tablespoons since it was less concentrated Agar Agar. Feel free to experiment for desired firmness. Let me know if you have different results.

Conclusion

Deliciously mild mango salsa is perfect with chips, yucca, or like a blanket marinading your broiled tofu or seitan creations.

The flan is custard-y and holds up with just enough melt like kind words to sad ears. The cornbread is moist and spicy-sweet and I think I'm going to make some more right now.


Bonnie's yucca, stew, & yellow rice/beans were delicious -- a good filling meal with several textures, tastes, and shapes. Feel free to post your Cuban recipe ideas below. Or better yet, bring me a plate.

Plate showcasing Bonnie's roasted yucca.




July 17, 2010

Vegan Pirate Ship Cake

Brave little ship about to hit cupcake island.

Intros and Inspirations

This cake was made using my yellow cake recipe. It's moist as a wet hankie and completely delicious. However, the setting, an 18th century pirate ship? Completely new. I decided to make the ship-themed cake for Rob's birthday after my good friend Bonnie mentioned her employer making a ship cake. Rob also is a huge fan of pirate ships. My model is loosely based on this:

Very loosely.

History of Dish

Pirate ship cakes have been around a long time. Possibly even longer than pirates.

Rob asked, 'Where did you get that plastic pirate?!' To his surprise, the pirate figurine bedecking the cake was carefully researched and based on Jean Lafitte.


Or, it has been sitting on our dining room window sill for the last 3 years (apparently, unnoticed).

Materials Needed

  • Yellow Cake recipe & frosting
  • Blue food coloring
  • Rum extract
  • Wooden skewers
  • Fake flags. I used old CD labels bent over.
  • Optional: decorative icing. I used black glitter style. Bad choice in this case (see conclusion).
  • Authentic Pirate Figurine©
  • Blue sparkly sprinkles
  • Corn holder and candle cannons
  • Serving platter

Yield and Pre-heat

Since the round cake pans will cook faster than the big rectangle version, you will need to cook them for a shorter period. Ditto for the mini-cupcake islands.

Mixing/Blending

  • Make two batches of the Yellow Cake recipe.
  • Place the batter evenly into four pans: a rectangular pan, two round pans, and four small cupcake tins. (I only used one cupcake for this version.)

Baking and Frosting Making

  • Monitor the baking process. The mini-cupcake islands come out first, followed by the round cake ship hulls. The cake is ready when a finger-press indentation bounces back in the middle (thanks Rob's cousin Melissa).

  • Meanwhile, make the frosting. Based on 'yo ho ho and a bottle of rum' I decided that it would be necessary to make the sea rum-flavored. I added blue food coloring and some rum extract to one batch of the frosting. The frosting was a simple mix of 3/4 Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening + 1/4 earth balance spread, organic powdered sugar, and rum extract. (I used imitation since it wasn't a real pirate ship)
  • For the actual ship, I made chocolate frosting using the same recipe, except eliminated the rum and added about 2 T of rich chocolate cocoa powder.
  • Place both frostings in the fridge to chill.

Assembling



  • Let the cakes cool. Once cool, remove from pans carefully (I put pans upside down over plate/platter then tap the pan).
  • Cut out two rectangular chunks from the middle of your rectangle cake (see picture below). Your ships will be sailing there later. Retain the cutouts as you will need to supplement the ship with part of them and/or you can eat them later.
  • Cut the round cakes in half. The four halves will eventually become your ship. So they balance better, you can also trim off the round parts, just barely. Though I don't think that was necessary in hindsight.
  • Place chocolate frosting between two slices, to glue them together. Do the same with the other two.
  • Coat the outside of the cakes with a thin layer of appropriate frosting color and cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (I was in a hurry and put them in the freezer). This will ensure your later layers of frosting will adhere better and crumbs will not get in your frosting (thanks for the tip, Shirle). You need only coat those areas you are going to frost (that will show) and any damage areas (where the ship-cake was hit by cannon balls and is coming apart).
  • Once cooled, frost your rectangle sea first. Sprinkle with blue sparkles.
  • Rather than do what I did, frost the boats first then place them into the sea.
  • Add your cupcake island(s) and skewered flags and pirate. Add the corn holder and candle cannons. Don't forget Jean Lafitte.

Eating

Some people preferred the sea whereas others took the chocolate ship.

Photo by James

Thankfully, no one ate or wanted the plastic pirate or corn holders. But everything else was pretty much disapeared.


Optional:

Blueberry cannon balls and vegan wafer walk-the-plank planks.

Conclusion

Though I noticed an unfortunate likeness to a certain oil spill after decorating the ship with a “B” and placing little black frosting drops in the 'sea', little room for comment remained after being distracted by my dead-on skull and crossbones flags that were viciously rumored to be potato heads.

July 10, 2010

Seitan '10 or 麵筋


Seitan! (as seen on My Carolina Today.)

Intros and Inspirations

I guess I've been making seitan too long since I had to think about where my homemade seitan process began. I found a recipe online and adapted it. This is for certain: the need arose out of thriftiness. Some might say cheap-skate-ness. It's a heck of a lot more economical to make your own, and quite easy. This recipe will cost you about $4.50 for a couple pounds, or .56 per serving. That's crazy!

Since seitan is made from the protein part of the wheat (gluten) it is extremely high in protein. As with all non-animal products, it's cholesterol free.

Finally, it's tasty as all heck and holds up great whether BBQ'd, skewered, or stir-fried. I believe that we as a culture are just at the tip of the seitanic iceberg and more variations are forthcoming. If you have any, feel free to post them below.

My previous recipe called “Saved by Seitan” featuring Chef Shirle and Phil & Brad of Megafaun is also available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-XJjQip44M


This version is not too dissimilar: based on inspiration from this Vegan Sausage recipe I added some friendly Garbanzo Bean (Chickpea) Flour to the mix and reduced the salt.


History of Dish

From Wikipedia:

Wheat gluten...is believed to have originated in ancient China, as a meat substitute for adherents of Buddhism....One story attributes the invention of imitation meat to chefs who made it for Chinese emperors who, traditionally, observed a week of vegetarianism each year.”

It is the stuff of royalty!

Yield and Pre-heat

Eight 'servings' of about ½ cup each.

Order of preparation: Start your stock, then stir your dry ingredients together while the stock heats.

Ingredients

Broth

  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Add to broth: fresh sage, garlic, onion...or whatever spices float your gluten boat

Dry

  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Redmill – available in the health sections of most stores)
  • ½ cup chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
  • ¼ nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 T ground pepper

Mixing/Blending

  1. Put all the “broth” ingredients in a large pot (I use a cast-iron cauldren) and set heat to medium-high to begin heating.

  2. Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients with a fork.

  3. Once almost boiling, reduce heat to simmer/low.

  4. Scoop out 11/2 to 2 cups broth and add to the dry mixture and stir with your fork as the broth might be too hot (It will be hard to handle with a fork and you will need to switch to clean-hand kneading in a moment.)

  5. Knead by pulling the dough almost apart and together, folding in on itself (see the video if needed). You can also punch it. The idea is to get it very elastic and firm, or as Phil said, “brain-like.” Most recipes call for 5 minutes kneading, but I usually knead for 2-3 minutes only until the desired firmness is achieved and the dough is a big ball.

  6. Once consistency is reached, tear the ball in half. Carefully drop each half into the now-hot broth.

  7. Make sure the heat is turned to low so it just simmers.

  8. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then flip. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes.

Eating

Since it's summertime, lately I've been going the easy route with these suckers. Once boiled, let it cool and drip-dry in a sieve. Then, cut the seitan ball into small shishkabob pieces, and marinade in your favorite BBQ sauce. Skewer, then place in aluminum foil to BBQ. Right before it's ready, seer on the grill for those pretty lines. This way it won't dry out. Or you can baste them and not use the foil as a random 4th of July party-goer suggested.

Another favorite is to coat them in a mixture of oat flour, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast, then lightly fry in a cast-iron pan. Delicious coating almost like Shake-n-Bake. Which should be the standard of excellence for all foods.

Conclusion

I interrupted Rob's practice to ask him to pose for these seitan shots.

With the flash on:

And off:


Another happy customer.


Rob post-bite and prior to throwing seitan chunks across the room after one too many takes of this pose.


Also brought this new version out at parties, and it's a hit. Whether or not the praise is statistically significant is a debate for another blog....or up to you. I'd love to hear your variations. Post them below if you'd like. I want to figure out a way to make seitan have fatty pockets. Any discoveries of how to do this would be worth 1,000 drachmas.