Saturday, March 26, 2011

C is for Cookie

C is also for crazy. And these cookies are crazy good.

A colleague of mine is dating a guy who is allergic to eggs. She recently found a recipe on a blog called Becky Bakes for Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies and desperately had to try them. But what fun are cookies baked into other cookies if you can't share them with your loved ones? So naturally she came to her trusty vegan friend for help.

I used the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and my personal favorite organic Oreo-style cookies from Late July. The only thing wrong with this crazy cookie idea is that I didn't think of it first.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How About Them Apples

Apples are quite possibly my favorite fruit. Although delicious on their own, the simple and unassuming apple is so much more than a crunchy portable snack. I like them in pretty much anything - desserts, soups, juices, sauces, ciders (I could give Forrest Gump a run for his money here but I'll stop while I'm ahead) - and lucky for me I can get them year round at the grocer. But nothing tops an apple picked in season right off the tree. So off to pick apples we went.

We woke up early and made our way to a town called Milton to check out the Willis Family Fruit Farm (with a much needed visit to Starbucks for our non-morning person).

A quick stop to sample the apples in season.

Navigating the fields was easy. Straight to the Mutsu for me!

We filled our baskets in no time.

We decided to check out the corn maze.

It was our first corn maze - we hit a few dead ends.

We didn't mind because the maze was beautiful.

Oops - more dead ends.

Double Oops all the way!

Finally a way out!

The maze led us right into a pumpkin patch. Could this farm get any better?

A green pumpkin.

Tempting delicious pumpkin...

But the mission was to get apples and I was already picturing all the tasty things I could make.

I turned these...

...into this!

Apple pie is as easy as...well, pie. If making pie crust seems daunting, don't sweat it, buy a frozen one and thaw it in your fridge. If you don't own a pie plate - problem solved - they come with a foil one. There are usually two per box so use the second one for your top crust. The filling does all the work as it bakes. I usually wing it but this is a pretty much my "recipe". If my apples are tart I use a little more sugar. If they are sweeter, I cut back. If I'm in the mood I use brown sugar for a little molasses kick. And I never toss my extra pie dough. I roll it into into the closest shape to a circle that I can, and pile up some apples, sugar and a little starch in the middle. Then I form a bowl out of the edges, pinch it together, and bake it on a cookie sheet. It's not pretty but it tastes great!

My Apple Pie
Apple filling:
6 large Mutsu apples
Zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar (or less depending on my mood)
3 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp cinnamon (or more depending on my mood)

2 Basic Single Pastry Crust recipes from the Veganomicon (or use your favorite recipe or pre-made)
2-3 tbsp Earth Balance soy margarine
Soy milk for brushing (optional)

Preheat oven to 400-425F.

Prepare the apple filling:
1. Peel and thinly slice apples into a large bowl.
2. Zest lemon directly onto apples - transferring loses some of the oils.
3. You can squeeze lemon juice into the apples to prevent oxidization. This is optional - browning has no affect on the flavor.
4. Mix sugar, corn starch and cinnamon together.
5. Toss apples in sugar mixture until coated.

Assembling the pie:
1. Roll out pie dough to 1/8 inch thick.
2. Place 9 inch pie plate face down and cut an extra inch around plate.
3. Roll top even larger to allow room for lots of filling. Cut a small hole in center for steam to escape.
4. Place bottom crust in pie plate.
5. Add apple mixture, pushing apples to fill the bottom. Don't worry about piling them high - the more apples the better - they will reduce as they bake.
6. Drop Earth Balance in little blots over apples.
6. Fold top crust in half, place in center of pie and fold back other half.
7. Fold overhang under and pinch edges to seal.
8. Brush top with soy milk (for browning) - optional.
9. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crust is browned and apples are softened.
10. Serve with your favorite non-dairy ice cream. Vanilla or maple work great.

You can see the whole pie at Scrap. Eat. Book. I also made decadent Apple-Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Gobblin' Time!

My gobblin' weekend began with a little Thanksgiving themed pot luck dinner. Our host had a craving for a pot-pie type of thing and whipped up a delicious main off the top of her head. Her combination of faux chicken, root vegetables and purple carrots in a creamy sauce topped with flaky biscuit wowed us all. I had to ask what went into this secret sauce but it turns out the real question is what didn't. It was an experimental mix of seasonings and spices, and even a little sriracha until it tasted just right, which sadly no one thought to write down.

Nicole brought over some roasted root vegetables with cranberries tossed in - so sweet and savory.

Served with fresh greens and balsamic vinaigrette on the side as our salad.

I made pumpkin cranberry muffins from Vegan With A Vengeance. The book doesn't lie - they really are the best.

For dessert we had Chocolate Cheesecake from Sweets from the Earth. Trust me, no one cares if you bring a store bought dessert to a pot luck when chocolate and cheesecake are involved.

Another great thing about potlucks is leftovers. I got to take home some of the extra filling that didn't make it into the pot-pie. I made a chick pea, potato and roasted garlic mash, added some corn, and created a shepherd's pie style bake out of it for lunch the next day.

That night, because you can never have too many Thanksgiving meals, we had reservations at a local place called Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine that does a vegan holiday special. Pumpkin soup to start, "turkey" with stuffing, gravy, asparagus and corn on the cob, followed by a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, and finally a glass of sparkling apple cider. So much food but so good. I'm definitely feeling a little thankful this year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

The most haunting thing about Halloween is pumpkins. These delicious winter squash are everywhere and resistance is futile. At the store pumpkins never seem big enough (with the exception of my neighbor's frighteningly huge jack-o-lantern above which still scares me), but once I get home I realize that my eyes are clearly bigger than my stomach. I instantly panic and start brainstorming every pumpkin recipe I can think of. Puree is really versatile and can be frozen so it's kind of my go-to thing. About a month later I'm haunted once again by all the pumpkin in my freezer. My cranberry pumpkin muffins are always a hit but this year I came up with a killer pumpkin ravioli inspired by a package of wonton wrappers and a block of tofu kicking around my fridge.

Whip up a batch of Cashew Ricotta from the Veganomicon and add your left over pumpkin puree. No measurements required but keep it fluffy. Add a whole head of roasted garlic if you want. I did.

Place a giant glob of filling onto a wonton wrapper. Don't hold back. The fatter the ravioli the better.

Moisten the edges of the wonton with water and cover with another wonton.

Pinch the edges closed - you don't want them breaking open.

Boil in lightly salted water. They only take a couple minutes.

I topped mine with a red sauce JJ's mom gave me. She made it with tomatoes and basil from her garden - so good. Caesar Salad with Roasted Garlic Croutons from the Veganomicon was a perfect pairing. No such thing as too much garlic for me.

It's all about the pumpkin-y filling.

I made a pot of espresso to keep with the Italian theme...

...and got the brilliant idea to make affogatos. Scoop some Soy ice cream, make espresso, pour. Voila - impromptu Italian dinner!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wham BAM, Thank You Ma'am!

When Vegetarian Haven took their seitan burger off the menu I began my quest to find a replacement for what was my favorite veggie burger ever. I never expected to find it at regular burger joint, but I did at a little place called Bamburger. The burger starts off simple with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a choice of white or whole wheat bun. There's a huge list of toppings and dipping sauces, some free, some for a small charge, that let you create the perfect personalized burger. And a good number of them are vegan: avocado, sauteed mushrooms or peppers, olives, jalapenos, pickles and even grilled pineapple to name a few. I decided to go for a simple pile of onion rings on top of my burger the first time I was there and have been doing that ever since.

This is the way it comes - with killer fries.

This is the way I do it. A little ketchup, mustard, and fries right on the burger. Don't knock it til you try it!

The staff are awesome. They have a binder on hand with a full ingredient list and can confirm any vegan inquiries in a flash. Whenever I get a burger craving, BAM - I'm there!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Double Dragon

I love the Dragon Bowl at Fresh. I can't decide if it's the perfectly grilled zucchini and tomatoes, the savory marinated tofu steaks, or the velvety miso gravy that makes me crave this dish most. When I want a Dragon Bowl I have to have one. I feel this way about a lot of the dishes at Fresh, and have unintentionally worked my way through almost the entire menu, but I took this particular bowl a step further. I got my hands on a copy of their cookbook and made my own.

Delicious Dragon Bowl from Fresh. Nom.

Refresh - the cookbook that reveals the secrets of deliciousness.

My version of the Dragon Bowl. I know I sort of super-sized the portion but this dish kicks ass.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh Baby, How could I forget the Cakes?

On Sunday I wrote about MooShoes and completely forgot to mention the best part of the experience - Babycakes is around the corner! (Big thanks to meansoybean for the reminder). Babycakes is a funky little vegan bakery that has all kinds of treats - all natural, gluten-free, sugar-free - you name it. I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw the Susy Homemaker over in the window. Babycakes is awesome overload. I wish I had snapped more shots of all the retro cool stuff about the shop.

Choosing what to order was one of the more difficult decisions I have ever had to make. Everything looks amazing. I finally decided to go with the classics: a chocolate chip cookie, a brownie, and a chocolate donut. They take delicious to a whole new level.

A friend of mine had been to Babycakes L.A. and came home raving about them so I'd been dreaming about trying one of their donuts for weeks before our trip. Now I dream about going back...