Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soft, Spicy, Heavenly Ginger Cookies - Online

This RecipeZaar Recipe for Ginger Cookies is absolutely phenomenal.  RecipeZaar is quickly becoming my favorite resource for finding recipes online for several reasons.  First, the user ratings are helpful in determining which recipes are worth experimenting with - obviously the better the rating by the larger number of users is a pretty good tip-off that, unless I royally screw up, the recipe will be decent.  And secondly, the user reviews are worth reading for additional experimentation suggestions such as ingredient substitutions.

3/4 c. margarine, softened (I used Earth Balance)
1 c. white sugar
1/4 c. molasses
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg....[I ended up using pumpkin pie spice as a substitute for all of the powdered spices because I was too lazy to fish out each individual spice since my spices are so unorganized - note to self: purchase spice rack.]
1 TBS. fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. raisins (optional - I opted out)
2 TBL. white sugar - I accidentally omitted this, but didn't miss it!

What To Do:
1) In a large bowl, cream together the vegan marg. and 1 c. sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the molasses.  Finally, mix in the water and baking soda. [I used my sexy KitchenAid Stand Mixer]

2) Sift together the flour, salt, and dry spices; add gradually to the wet mixture.  Fold in the minced ginger and raisins. [Again, I omitted the raisins, but think that chocolate chips might be a nice addition when I make these cookies in the future.  Also, my dough was on the wet side, so I let it sit for overnight in the fridge - worked like a charm!].

3) (The next day,) shape the dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 TBS of sugar.  [I used a TBS. measuring spoon to create perfectly uniform cookies.  And, I did not roll the dough into the additional sugar, and really, the extra sugar wasn't missed.]

4) Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. [I lined the cookie sheet with parchment paper, and forgot to "flatten slightly" but again, the cookies turned out damn delicious.]  Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. [I baked the cookies for the full 12 minutes and they came out wonderfully golden brown.]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Collard Greens With Panfried Walnuts - Online

Here is a link to the RECIPE.  In short, I used this recipe from as a guideline, and toyed with the proportions of the ingredients to taste.

Be mindful of your nuts (no, perv. not those).  My walnuts got a little on the well-done side (suppose thats my euphemism for saying "burnt")  since I left them unattended as I chifonnaded my collard greens.  I de-stemmed the collard greens, stacked up a few, then cut them into little ribbons.

I described to NMcL the texture of collard greens as being thick, tough spinach.  They were chewier greens than what I was used to.  Because of their thickness, I'd recommend boiling them first to make them tender (love me tender), as the recipe suggests.  I want to experiment with all types of greens (kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, etc.) because they really pack a nutritional punch!

Caramelized Onion, Walnut, and Sage Pizza - Students Go Vegan Cookbook – p.187 & 191

Pizza Dough Recipe
½ c. warm water (110 F)
½ tsp. pure maple syrup
1 TBS. active dry baking yeast (1 package)
2 TBL. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. to ¾ c. unbleached white flour
1 to 4 tsp. white flour for rolling out the dough

1) In a large bowl, combine the warm water and maple syrup. Stir in the yeast. Set it aside to proof (bubble and foam) for 10-12 minutes. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and whole-wheat flour. Mix well, gradually adding the ½ c. white flour. Use the other ¼ c. white flour if needed, until the product is a soft, workable dough that can be handled easily and does not stick to your hands.

2) Turn out the dough until a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth, springy, and pliant. Take care not to over dust your work surface with flour, as too much flour will make the crust tough.

3) Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn once so the entire surface is coated. Cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 30-40 minutes, until the ball doubles in bulk.

4) Preheat oven to 450F. When the dough is ready, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle or rectangle, using a rolling pin or your hands, sprinkling the surface with flour to prevent sticking as you go. Lightly oil the crust, add your chosen topping, and bake.

Caramelized Onion, Walnut, and Sage Topping

1 TBL. olive oil, plus more for brushing on top of dough
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp. salt
Ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-2 TBL. water
1 recipe of pizza dough, ready to roll out
1/3 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. dried sage leaves

1) Warm 1 TBL. olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion slices, salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Saute over medium/ medium-low heat, gently stirring to prevent the onions from sticking as they caramelize. After about 35 minutes, the onions should be golden and very sweet. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add 1-2 TBL. water to help scrape the flavors left on the bottom of the pan. Set the onions aside to cool.

2) Preheat the oven to 450F. Roll out the dough and brush lightly with olive oil. Spread the caramelized onions and walnuts on top of the dough. Bake the pizza for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove the pizza from the onion and crumble the sage leaves on top.

Crib Notes:  The pizza crust is delicious.  It made enough for a 12 inch pie, which was 2 servings for me, though in the future, if making dough for a larger crowd (or an individual with a larger appetite) it might be nice to double the recipe.  The dough recipe is definitely a keeper.  The topping was pretty good too, though I noticed that the flavors seemed to meld better a day later.  The dried sage I used was a little weird - the texture was bizarre, very earthy and natural...I might try using another was weird man, weird.  Anyhoo, it is fun making vegan pizzas, and this recipe is decent.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pumpkin Scones - Students Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond - p. 92

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. dried cranberries or raisins (or, for all you fellow chocoholics, chocolate chips!)
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. soy milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Combine dry ingredients well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, soy milk, oil, and maple syrup.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just to combine.  Do not overmix or the scones will be tough.  Drop the batter by 1/4 c. onto baking sheet, 1-inch apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

Crib notes:  The scones were not too sweet and not too pumpkiny.  The scones were not a disaster nor incredibly delicious...they were tasty, just not a memorable experimentation - they were simply take-it-or-leave it.

Extreme Dream Cheesecake - The PETA Celebrity Cookbook - p. 110

2 - 8 oz. containers plain nondairy cream cheese (While the book recommended Tofutti brand, my rebellious streak kicked in and I used Follow Your Heart brand)
1 c. sugar
Juice of one whole lemon (I used a Meyer Lemon)
1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. vegan graham cracker or cookie crumbs
1/8 c. sugar
1/4 c. margarine, softened

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and margarine and mix well.  Transfer to an 8 inch pie pan, and press the dough firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan.  Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350.  Blend the nondairy cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Pour into the graham cracker crust.  Place the entire cheesecake in the oven and bake for 60 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Crib Notes:
When making the crust as per the recipe, the crust was much too dry.  I added quite a bit of extra vegan margarine, perhaps too much.  Oh well!  Overall, the taste of the vegan cheesecake was good, but the texture was whack.  The cheesecake never set properly - when I pulled it from the oven, the cheesecake was still a bubbling, gloopy mess.  The crust was on the well-done side, so I had no choice but to remove the cake from the oven, and I had hoped that when it cooled it would congeal (the word "congeal" may or not be an appropriate culinary term, haha), but it never did.

MH enjoyed the taste a lot - it was quite citrusy, as far as cheesecakes go.  In the future, if I were to retry this recipe, I would
a) try using Tofutti brand cream "cheese and/or
b) use less lemon juice
The recipe called for 2 TBL. of lemon juice or the juice of one lemon.  As I squeezed my lemon, it definitely seemed like much more than 2 TBL. of juice was produced.  So maybe too much liquid was the reason why the cake never set this time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Veganism Means To Me - Some Thoughts

To some, its a way to protect the animals, save the earth.  Personally, veganism is a way for me to organize the world, to help make sense of the world, to reduce some of the endless possibilities in our crazy lives.  It represents guidelines for my actions, my choices in everyday life.  Maybe its just a phase, a hobby, maybe I'm a freak - regardless, I am enjoying the challenge of eating a vegan diet, which is both restricting, for obvious reasons, but also extremely eye-opening in terms of discovering new foods and having different culinary experiences.

You've Got (Vegan) Options - Chocolate Chips/ Chunks (3rd Time...and More to Come!)

I am falling in love with a generic brand - 365 Everyday Value - from Whole Foods Market.  I think I'll buy stock in Whole Foods :)

Dark Chocolate Mini Chunks, contain 70 % Cacao Content (time to load up on those antioxidants!).  Listed ingredients are as follows: Chocolate Liquor, Sugar, Dextrose, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract.

See the other options:
Edition 2
Wait! There's More - First Edition

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Meatloaf" With Mashed Potatoes and Gravy - Skinny Bitch (118)

“Meatloaf” Recipe (All Recipes are Courtesy of Above Referenced Book)

1 TBL. refined coconut oil
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
3 oz. cremini, shiitake, or portobello mushrooms, diced (about 2 cups) [I used a combination of baby bellas and white mushrooms]
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 slices vegan whole wheat bread [Be on the lookout for a “You’ve Got Options” post on Vegan-Friendly Breads]
1 c. toasted walnuts [Mine were raw, so I just toasted them in a pan over the stovetop for a bit]
2 14-oz. packages of Gimme Lean Ground Beef
½ c. rolled oats
½ c. ketchup
2 TBL. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 10 x 4 x 3 in. loaf pan and set aside.
2) In an 8 to 10 in. skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Saute carrot and celery for about 2 minutes. Add onion, sauté for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper, sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a little.
3) In a food processor, process bread and toasted walnuts to form a coarse meal. Transfer the coarse meal to a large bowl, add the “beef,” oats, ketchup, parsley, and veggie mixture. Use your hands to mix well. Transfer mixture to the loaf pan, spread it in an even layer, then bake for 45 minutes. The bitches (ahem, the skinny ones) recommend letting the loaf sit for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Boil water and a bit o’ salt in a large pot over high heat. Add approximately 2.25 pounds of peeled and cubed russet potatoes [I guesstimated the weight using approximately a little less than half of a five pound bag of potatoes.] Cook the potatoes for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until they are very tender. Drain the water, add the soy milk, a scoop of vegan butter, and salt and pepper to your hearts desire, then mash ‘em up, using a whisk. Or, if you have fancy (uni-tasking) kitchen gadgets a la Williams Sonoma, you can press the potatoes through a potato ricer.

Brown Gravy Recipe

¼ c. refined coconut oil
½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 c. veggie broth
4 TBL. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or 8 tsp. tamari or soy sauce

1) Heat the coconut oil in a 2 to 3 (small) quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook and stir constantly, until the mixture is browned and smells nutty (about 5 minutes). Add in the veggie broth, a little at a time, continuing to stir. Remove from heat, and whisk in the Bragg’s/ soy/ tamari.


This was an excellent recipe, I'd say that my fellow B+ vegans (or C vegans), haha, agree.  Cooking with the coconut oil imparted a slightly sweet taste to both the meatloaf and the brown gravy, which was unique but pleasant.  MO brought a nice Merlot which went well with the "meatloaf" and MD prepared a delicious vegan broccoli rabe dish.   The meal was finished with a tasty sweet treat - Newman-O's, which, in my opinion are 110 % better than its non-vegan counterpart, i.e. Oreo brand cookies.

As far as the blogging format, there are some exciting changes on the horizon.  JL suggested that I make use of these so-called jump breaks for my blog posts.  I couldn't agree more - now its just a matter of sitting down and figuring out how to properly insert them.  Ultimately, I envision each post containing just photos, then the readers (all 3 of you, haha) will click the pictures, which will contain a live link that redirects you to a new page that shows the recipe.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to do this (ahem, SW!) please, comments are appreciated.