Friday, February 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Valentino and Ice Cream

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan. Thanks to Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef for hosting this challenge.

This month’s challenge was certainly that for vegans as the recipe for this flourless cake was merely chocolate, butter, and 5 eggs! I had a difficult time deciding between a Fran Costigan nearly raw recipe or a recipe from the fabulous Gluten Free Goddess and many times vegan chef, Karina. She quite timely posted her recipe for Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake. I decided the real challenge was in the baking, so I chose Karina’s recipe.

The most important ingredient was the chocolate, of course. I happened to have on hand my favorite baking chocolate, Scharffenberger 99% Cacoa. This particular box was so incredibly delicious. It had a nice subtle spicy note to it.

I made a half recipe and filled three 4-inch tart pans. I wanted to use my 6-inch heart pan (the appropriate pan for a Valentino cake), but I couldn’t find it anywhere. There are two of those somewhere in my house….

I waited for them to bake. I waited and waited and waited. I checked them at 45 minutes, and then every 5 or 10 minutes until they had baked almost an hour and 10 minutes. It was so funny when I would stick a toothpick in and they would deflate, and when I pulled the toothpick back out, they would poof up again! They are supposed to collapse once they’re done, so I wasn’t concerned. Anyway, I lost patience at 70 minutes and pulled them out. The top seemed almost overdone, and I wasn’t real sure the middle was good. I let them cool, and they properly sunk.

After they completely cooled, I cut a piece out to see what I had. I set one tart on a heart plate.

It looks a little weird.

I stuck the cutout piece back in and hoped a few more hours in the fridge would help my Valentino set up properly. I went on to the next component of the challenge, homemade ice cream! Making ice cream in February – I think that’s a first for me.

I made a vanilla ice cream with silken tofu. Although I can’t eat it and I really don’t like the flavor even if I could eat it, I have 2 fabulous vanilla extracts and made Very Vanilla Ice Cream.

This was our dessert for last Sunday’s dinner. I served it to Chase and his girlfriend on the pretty heart plate.

And they shared Valentino Cake and Very Vanilla Ice Cream for Two.

I got no complaints, only yummy noises, especially for the ice cream. I guess ice cream in February is a good thing.

btw, Chocolate Covered Katie is giving away a case of Jocolat Larabars! Enter here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Casual Eating on Glam Night

I finally got to serve dinner from my own kitchen on Sunday night. We had the Oscars on, but since we hadn’t seen any of the movies that were up for awards we weren’t exactly glued to the tv. I know many of you watched and prepared clever party foods, but I told Chase I wanted to make Barbecue Sandwiches. He picked all the sides.

I apologize for these rather boring food photos. They are just candid shots hurriedly taken so hungry diners could start eating.

For the barbecue I made seitan, chopped it up in the food processor, then let it sit in barbecue sauce overnight. I used the recipe and method from Chef Jason of Vegan Culinary Experience. I was hoping for a more shredded style seitan, but chopped worked out fine.

I warmed it up before serving it on burger buns. Chase built his on an upside-down toasted bun with crispy broccoli slaw and hot hot hot sauce.

Sides were homemade pinto beans, always yummy…

Creamy mashed red potatoes (nice for cooling off hot sauce!)…

... and a great Macaroni Salad. I used a recipe from La Dolce Vegan as a guide. I started with my favorite Eddie Spaghetti veggie corkscrews.

I added in carrots, green onions, red bell pepper, and chopped fresh spinach, then made a dressing with Tofutti cream cheese, milk, vinegar, agave, and lots of herbs. So tasty.

I’m glad everyone like it cuz I made a big huge bunch of it!

Broccoli was served too. Here’s our table full of food.

Here’s Chase’s perfect Texas barbecue plate.

Since wheat meat on whole wheat buns is not for gluten free folks, I had a bunch of broccoli, pintos, and leftover mushrooms. I made myself a mushroom stirfry the night before with my Asian market purchases and it was heavenly. Fresh shitake and enoki mushrooms, snow peas, daikon, and onion. I adore shitake mushrooms and stirfried daikon!

We had dessert too, but it can’t be revealed until Friday. See you then!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Have Converted!

I am now a green smoothie lover! Yep, I’ve been mixing them up for dessert this whole week. I start with a bunch of spinach or kale and then add in a chopped apple and a bit of whatever fresh or frozen fruits I have on hand.

I wish I had jumped on the smoothie bandwagon while VitaMix was being so generous with their blender giveaways. As you can see, my KitchenAid doesn’t make for very smooth smoothies. Oh, well, a chunky blend doesn’t seem so much like drinking my calories. Although it sure would be nice to blend up some silky smooth soups and grind my own flour.....

I’ve been grocery shopping, so I thought I would show you some of my purchases.

I got this huge local cauliflower at Whole Foods last week for $2. It’s sitting on a 10-inch dinner plate, which you can’t see. I got several good servings out of this thing!

These are locally made tortillas I also got from Whole Foods. They are fabulous and vegan. I only had a bite because they're made from flour and therefore not gluten free. My mom and son got to enjoy them.

These are my new favorite chips. If you want gluten free vegan crispy chips, I recommend them highly. Plus it’s fun to say Mr. Krispers.

Here’s the nutritionals if you’re interested.

I headed off to Whole Foods this morning, then turned around and headed to my awesome Asian supermarket. I hadn’t been there in a while and I’m glad I went because it’s always so fun to see what’s new and/or on special. Here’s what I got.

One thing I wanted to shop for was dried mushrooms – until I found these fresh ones. The shitakes were $2.30 and the enokis were $1.29. The daikon was 80 cents, snow peas $1.21, pears $1.49, kohlrabi $1.96, and peanut meal $1.59. The veggie bouillon is expensive but it’s the best in the world and I was completely out. I will be feasting on mushrooms tonight!

I got Chase some faux meat – pepper steak and chicken patties.

And I found some fruit chips! Katie blogged about fruit chips earlier this week and I was intrigued. These are not so healthy like the ones Katie got, but I bought them for Chase (he needs some fat).

The chips are obviously deep fried because they are very crispy. They are made from jackfruit, taro, pineapple, sweet potato, and banana. The jackfruit is really really good.

Now I’m off to make some seitan for Chase. I’ll probably deliver his Sunday dinner to him tomorrow. I’m not sure what I’ll make yet. I’m thinking about shredded barbecue seitan, but Bianca’s Un-chicken ’n’ Dumplins looked awfully good…..

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beans ‘n Fries ‘n Treats

We had another dinner at mom’s on Sunday. This one was rather huge so I’ll try to keep it brief.

Everyone is invited for Sunday dinner, but we never know just who will show up.

How do you like Pierre’s mohawk?

We had two bean dishes, because I couldn’t decide which one looked better. Both are recipes from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

Split Lentils with Fresh Dill

It was pretty good, but I had to flavor it up a lot.

Chickpeas Florentine

This dish was super delicious, made with some home cooked chickpeas.

I also made Tofu Fries. This recipe is from V Cuisine and it turned out fabulous!

Tofu Fries

Don’t they look perfect? Chase was so happy. I also tried to create a dipping sauce similar to one at a local market. Chase thought mine was tastier, which was a good thing. I didn’t write down a recipe, which was a bad thing. But then while looking through Get It Ripe, I noticed the House Dressing looked almost exactly like what I had done, so that’s a good thing!

I brought some bread and steamed broccoli for our sides. Here’s Chase’s Plate.

I baked sweet potatoes too, and almost forget to set them out for dinner.

Told you it was a huge dinner!

Chase requested Oatmeal Cookies for dessert, so I made the ones from Vcon. I didn’t like them warm from the oven, but omg they were great the next day.

Vcon Oatmeal Cookies

I was hoping my chocolate loving brother would come for dinner (he didn’t), so just in case I made some brownies too. I made Double Fudge Brownies from Simple Treats. I thought they could have used another minute in the oven, but the eaters thought they were just right. They are definitely fudgy.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Winner, and Broccoli of course!

The winner of a free Lexen Healthy Juicer is ….

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 87
Result: 54

Congratulations to Mike @ TrialbyFood!!!

Mike, please email me at atxvegn AT yahoo DOT com and provide me with your name and delivery address. I will then notify Lexen and they will send you your FREE juicer!

For my contest, I asked you to proclaim your love of broccoli and you did! By the way, our winner, Mike, likes his broccoli raw or steamed. I am so pleased to know you share my broccoli passion, AND that most of you enjoy it just as I do, lightly steamed with a little salt and sometimes garlic and lemon. We also like it roasted, and with a nutty sauce or nooch. I am also very pleased to know that you enjoy your healthful side of broccoli at least once a week and many of you as often as I do – daily! I only got a couple of comments regarding broccoli stalk love. I actually enjoy the stalks as much as the trees. If you are trashing your stalks, try this: slice off the bottom and discard, then peel the tough outer layer with a paring knife. Now just chop it into small pieces and steam right along with the trees. The stalks are sweet and delicious and needn’t go to waste! I also buy packages of Mann’s Broccoli Slaw, made from the stalks, to use in salads and toss into stirfrys.

As I had hoped, I got some comments with new ideas for broccoli prep. Thankfully, we are all in agreement that broccoli has no place in baked goods, unless it’s baked into lasagna or pizza. However, I did get a sweet broccoli recipe from Chris, which I made and really enjoyed!

Broccoli with Walnuts and Maple Syrup

Thanks, Chris!

I recently added broccoli to hot cereal, but I must admit I’ve never eaten broccoli for breakfast. Okay, I never eat anything for breakfast. But one of Tofu Mom’s Sproutz does enjoy her broccoli for breakfast – on toast with peanut butter! She said *I love broccoli! One of my favorite breakfasts is steamed broccoli sprinkled with garlic powder and Braggs aminos piled high on toasted French Meadow Spelt or Kamut bread spread with a thin layer of organic peanut or almond butter. It's a recipe from Table for Two by Joanne Stepaniak.*

Thank you, Sprout! I bought a loaf of gluten free bread just so I can try this recipe next.

Thanks for playing along everyone, and congratulations again to Mike!

Last Chance!

You have until 7:00 pm this evening to enter the Lexen Juicer Giveaway, then I'll select a winner and post the results!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Moussaka Dinner

Our Sunday dinner was at my mom’s again. Vcon Moussaka was the main attraction.

Lighting at mom’s is not so good, but here’s the best picture I could get of a slice.

It was very good and we all ate plenty, but if I had just remembered to add a pinch of sweetener to the tomato sauce, it would have been over the top perfection. It was so acidic with the tomatoes and wine, and it’s my own fault for not remembering – rats.

I also took along one of my favorite new recipes, an Urban Vegan tester for braised beans. I just changed up the spices to make it Greek style, and that’s all I can tell you!

Of course broccoli is always on the menu. This night it was steamed and dressed with a lemony garlicky vinaigrette. Here’s my plate.

For dessert I took a batch of one of our gang’s favorite cookies, Wheat Free Vegan Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It’s from Cookie Madness. This recipe makes only six cookies so I made a double batch. If you haven’t tried them yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for!

I’ve really been digging the savory oatmeal, so much so that I made a pot of savory quinoa flakes. Someone asked for a recipe for the savory oats. For any kind of savory grains, just prepare them as usual, but instead of adding sweet stuff, mix in salt and pepper, garlic, veggies, soy sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce – whatever strikes your fancy. You could also cook them in vegetable broth instead of water, just like you would do with rice. I have only used quinoa flakes in baking until this week. To cook them takes just 90 seconds, and the flakes have *tails* just like the grains!

I ate mine with broccoli and nooch. It’s so filling and so delicious.

Save room for a cookie!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stuff I’ve Been Cooking…..

I thought I would get off a quick post before dinner on what I’ve been cooking lately.

First, some Urban Vegan test recipes:

Tunisian Soup, a nice chickpea noodle soup.

Herby Polenta, with tomato sauce.

Spicy Indian Eggplant. Only Dynise could turn me into a fan of eggplant!

I also made another soup from Nava’s new book, Vegan Soups and Stews for All Seasons. This is the Curried Lentil, Potato, and Cauliflower Soup. I added in some carrots and a little cumin. It’s delish!

A stirfry, something I make at least once a week. This one has broccoli, peppers, onions, shiitakes, and daikon.

With my last purple carrot, I made a savory oatmeal. I’ll be making this more often. It is very filling and a great new way for me to enjoy oatmeal.

I found a new veggie burger at Costco yesterday. They were sampling them and after I had a taste, I had to buy a box. Keep an eye out for these!

Tonight I’m taking Greek food to my mom’s for dinner. I made Vcon Moussaka. It looks like it turned out just right.

See you later this week with a Greek dinner review!