Monday, April 30, 2007

Julia's French Apple Tart

I have a soft spot for Julia Child. The first cookbook I ever got, for my 11th birthday, I think, was her Baking with Julia. This recipe is adapted from that cookbook. It's really very easy, and looks stunning, so do give it a try!

French Apple Tart (serves 8)

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup flour
4 oz. cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using a your fingers (or a pastry cutter, if you prefer), cut it into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Be patient—this takes a while. Break up the shortening and add it in bits to the bowl. Still working with the pastry blender (or your fingers), cut in the shortening until the mixture has small clumps and curds. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the ice water, stirring to incorporate it. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold it over on itself a few times—don't get carried away. The dough will be soft, but it will firm sufficiently in the refrigerator.

Flatten into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and chill for at least two hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick and fit it into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the extra along the sides of the tart pan, so that most of the sides have a double wall of pastry. Use the back of a knife to decorate the edge by pressing it diagonally at each flute or at 1/2-inch intervals around the tart.

Chill the tart for at least 30 minutes. Line with foil, fill with pie weights (or beans), and then bake in a 400 F oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on a rack to cool, lower the heat to 375 F, and proceed with the filling:

6 Granny Smith apples
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh, fluffy bread crumbs
2 teaspoons (approximately) fresh lemon juice

Peel and core the apples, cut each one in quarters, and cut each quarter into 6 pieces. Put the apples in a large bowl and toss with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and bread crumbs. Add just a squeeze of lemon juice to start—you'll be able to adjust the flavor later. Spread the apples on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the apples give up their juices, start to form a sauce, and are soft enough to mash. Scrape the apples into a bowl and mash with a potato masher or a heavy spoon. Don't be overzealous—a few small lumps and bumps will add interest to the filling. Taste and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it, then cool the filling for about 15 minutes.

Spoon the puree into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with an offset spatula. The filling should come to just below the rim of the shell. Make the topping:

2 large Granny Smith apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Peel, core, and quarter the apples (cutting from end to end), then cut them into slices that are 1/8 inch thick. As you work, toss the slices with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Save the smaller pieces from the ends of the apples—they'll make good packing and "even-outers."

Working slowly and carefully and starting at the edge, arrange the apples in a circle on the puree. The slices should overlap and the points should just touch the shell. Since these will shrink, make a well-packed circle. Lay on another circle overlapping the first by just about 1/8 inch, tucking a few small pieces under the circle to level it and trimming the slices as necessary so that they fit. You'll probably have enough room for two circles and a center rosette. For the rosette, choose a large, thin slice of apple, cut it into a round, and place it, propped up slightly, in the center of the tart.

With a light hand, evenly brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Put the tart on a parchment- or foil-lined jelly-roll pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the 375 F oven, or until the top is beautifully glazed and the apple slices are edged in black, a stunning effect. Transfer the tart to a cooling rack. Just before serving, remove the tart from the pan and dust its edges with confectioner's sugar.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A failure and a success

Yesterday I made green rice with leeks and roasted chiles. It sounds really good, and it was, but it came out looking dreadful! I was imaging a place of creamy green rice. What I got was beige mush. Yes, mush. The recipe called for at least 1/2 cup too much cooking water for the rice, and it was so mushy I didn't even dare stir in the parsley/cilantro water to make it look green. Fortunately it still tasted good, but this was really a disappointment because it wasn't a quick recipe. I didn't even bother taking a photo. Maybe someday I'll try it again because rice with roasted chiles, leeks, and herbs is really a good combination.

But on to better things.

Fortunately, what were, hands down, the best cinnamon rolls I've ever made helped erase the sting of the rice disaster. The recipe is adapted from a recipe on Cloudberry Quark's blog. Cloudberry Quark blogs all the way from Finland, and has lots and lots of yummy ideas...have a look at her blog! Plus, her pictures of the cinnamon rolls are lots better than mind. The recipe calls for lingonberries, but unfortunately I couldn't find any, so I substituted cranberries. But by all means use lingonberries if you can find them. And don't skimp on the cardamom-- that's what gives the rolls an authentic Scandanavian flavor. The recipe was written in metric measurments, and I didn't change them. Just look at the metric side of your measuring cup. (Yes, even the flour gets measured in a pyrex measuring cup!)

Spiced Rolls with Cardamom, Apple, and Cranberries (makes 10 large rolls)

For the dough:
300 ml milk (I used vanilla soy)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
approx. 800 ml flour
100 ml sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter at room temperature

For the filling:
1/3 cup butter at room temperature
150 ml dark brown sugar (I didn't really pack it in)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 tart apples, grated, excess liquid pressed out
200 ml frozen cranberries, red currants, or lingonberries

Milk for brushing on top

For the dough: Heat the milk to lukewarm, add the yeast and a pinch of the sugar, and let sit for a few minutes. Mix half the flour, the remaining sugar, and the cardamom in a large bowl. Stir in the milk mixture. Work in the softened butter (I used a wooden spoon), and then slowly add the rest of the flour until a soft dough forms. Because of the butter, the dough should be very soft-- not like bread dough. It will stick a bit to your hands, but lift cleanly off the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Let rise until doubled in size, about at hour.

Meanwhile, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and spices for the filling. Prepare the apple. Butter and flour two 9in cake pans or pie plates.

Gently press the dough down, and place in on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out until it measures approximately 20in x 11in. Spread the brown sugar mixtures over the surface, and then sprinkle with the grated apple and frozen cranberries.

Tightly roll the dough up from the long side. (I.e. you will have a 20in long log). Cut it into 10 2in slices. Carefully place the slices in the prepared dishes, leaving space between for them to rise. Cover with a tea towl, and leave in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, the remove and quickly brush with the milk. Put back in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until golden on the top.


Monday, April 23, 2007


No, those aren't worms, I promise! A week or so ago I felt like making spaetzle, a German dumpling/noodle. Unfortunately, the orginal version calls for lots of eggs, but with the help of this German vegan website, I was able to make a very nice vegan version that still has the doughy, dumpling-like quality of the original kind. If you speak any German, have a look at that has hundreds and hundreds of very yummy sounding vegan recipes!

All the späztle I tried in Germany were really big and doughy compared to the kinds I've tried in the US. The dough isn't as thick as bread dough but it's pretty close. You use this spaetzle press thing which looks like a potato ricer to make them. But I know I've read somewhere that you can spread the dough over a cutting board and scrape it off in little strips into the boiling water. If you have a colander or seive with really wide holes or a food mill I imagine you could press in through that as well.


Please don't feel the need to use exactly these amounts of flour or water! The dough should be thicker than pancake batter, but not as thick as bread dough, so about as thick as biscuit dough.

1 cup corn flour
4 tbsp softened 'butter'
2 cups white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy flour
approx. 1 1/4 cup water

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients together to form a smooth, moderately stiff dough. Liberally salt the water, and then press the dough into the water using a potato ricer. You will probably have to press in 3 or 4 batches. After you press the dough into the water, immediately stir around with a large slotted spoon or else they will clump together. They will float up to the top when they are ready. This takes 2-3 minutes-- just try one to make sure it is done. I can tell you from experience that over cooking them makes them quite tough! Take the finished spaetzle out of the water, and mix with a tiny bit of butter to keep them from sticking. Repeat until no more dough remains.

In Germany these are traditionally served (at least in Baden-Württemberg) with copious amounts of cheese (bleh!), or lentils (SO GOOD! Just mix cooked lentils with sauteed onion, salt, and vinegar. Sounds weird but seriously the best way to eat them), or a mushroom sauce. I served them with a mushroom stroganoff-esque sauce. I just sauteed lots of onions and mushrooms until soft, and mixed in Tofutti sour cream, a little veggie broth, chopped parsley, peas, and sprinkled with pepper and paprika.I know that sounds really complicated, but the spätzle really take less than 20 minutes to make! I'd be interested to hear if anyone tries these!

Friday, April 20, 2007

on the side

Sometimes, like tonight, I can't decide what I want for dinner, so I just make a bunch of side dishes instead. This might not be the most efficient way of cooking, but it sure tastes good. I love side dishes! Tonight I had hummous, tabouleh, and kisir (Turkish bulgur salad for dinner). Mmm. (But not photogenic!)

I didn't used to like tabouleh, but a few years ago some Egyptian friends visited my family and made us 'real' tabouleh. It was perfect-- a parsley salad with bursts of fresh tomato, bits of chopped spring onion, a little bulghur for texture, all bathed in a tangy lemon dressing. Such a change from the kind of bulgur that you can usually find here, which is a bulgur salad with a little parsley for color.
But I do like bulgur, which is why I made the kisir. It's better (and look more red) when you use pomagranate syrum (sometimes called molasses-make sure it is sour) instead of lemon juice, but I didn't have any.

1 cup fine bulgur (the kind of bulgur usually available at normal grocery stores is not fine. It's perfectly ok to use coarse bulgur, but you might have to adjust the soaking time or amount of water)
1 cup boiling water
3 tbsp ajvar (red pepper paste. You can buy it at whole foods, middle eastern stores, or if you're like me your mom makes it for you ;-) ) Use tomato paste if you don't have it.
1/2 cup chopped parsley, mint, and dill (use a mix of what you have/like)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic,chopped
oil for sauteeing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cucumber,chopped (I didn't add since it's not in season here)
2 scallions, chopped
juice of 2 lemons (or 2 tbsp of pomegranate syrup)
Salt, za'tar, cumin, and cayenne peper to taste

Pour the boiling water of the bulgur, cover, and let soak for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic until very soft and brown. Chop the vegetables and herbs. When the onion mixture is almost done, add 1 tbsp of the ajvar and cook for a minute. Put the cooked bulgur in a bowl and add the rest of the ajvar. Knead with your hands for a minute, until the bulgur is red. I hate touching food like that, but you really can't get it red enough with just a spoon. Add the onion mix, chopped herbs and vegetables, spices, pomegranate syrup, and olive oil and stir (with a spoon!). Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Russian Apple Pancakes 2

I must have been really out of it last night, because I totally forgot to post the recipe! Here it is:

Russian Apple Pancake (makes one large apple-filled, carmelized pancake. Serves 2 for breakfast, or 3 for dessert)

(from HomeBaking)

Please note that the dough will be very think. It shouldn't be as thick as bread dough, but it will be noticeably thicker than normal, un-yeasted pancake batter.

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vanilla soy milk
1/4 tsp dry yeast
3/4 cup flour: I use half whole wheat, half white
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the above ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir for one minute, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

When ready to proceed, stir in:
2 tablespoons vanilla soy milk (sometimes needs a tiny bit more)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp melted 'butter'

Let the dough stand for 6 to 8 hours. When ready to proceed you will need:
1 large or 2 small, tart apple cut into 1/4'' slices (not thicker but not thinner, or else they will burn to a my previous post!)
2 tsp sugar
Generous amounts of cinnamon sugar
1 tbsp butter

Turn the broiler on. Melt the butter in a 8-9" heavy-bottomed, oven-proof skillet over medium high. Toss the apples in a stir a few times to get the slices coated in the butter, then spread evenly over the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle with the sugar. The apples should completely cover the bottom of the pan, because if the sugar gets on the bottom, it will burn. Turn the heat to medium-low, and evenly spread the dough over the apples. Cook until the top of the pancake has turned from looking wet and shiney to dull and spongy. This will take 8-10 minutes. Be patient. Run a knife around the edges of the pan a few times to keep them from sticking. When the top no longer looks wet, sprinkle with generous amounts of cinnamon sugar and pop the skillet under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until the sugar on top melts in. Flip the pancake out onto a plate (the apple side will be on top). You have to do this immediately, or else the carmelized sugar on the bottom of the pan will make all the apples stick to the bottom of the skillet, but be very, very careful because the skillet will be extremely hot.


Also, I have a burning question: what does nutritional yeast taste like? I want to make some recipes that call for it (seitan pepperoni, "cheese", etc.), but when I went to buy it, I opened up the bin to scoop some out and it smelled so disgusting and yeasty in a horrible way that I felt sick!

Carrot Quick Bread

I love this trusty recipe. It's super-easy and it always works (well, almost on). And even though it tastes deliciously moist, it has only 1 tablespoon of added fat, no animal product, and uses whole-wheat flour! And it bakes up beautifully in muffin tins, a loaf pan, or a bundt pan. What more could you ask for?

Please note that the carrot mixture must be completely cool before you can proceed with the recipe. I made the mistake of not letting it cool once before adding the flour, and I ended up with completely inedible carrot play-dough!
Carrot Quick Bread/Muffins/Cake (Makes 2 loaves, 20 Muffins, 1 Bundt Cake, or any combination there of).

2 cups grated carrots (5 medium)
2/3 sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup raisins
1 tblsp 'butter'
Mix the above ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 mintues. Take the mixture off the heat and let cool until room-temperature. This will take about 4 hours, and the cake is even better if you can let the carrots rest over night. But it's great even if you don't have time for that.

Preheat the oven to 275 and combine the following ingredients:
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/8 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Stir this mixture into the carrot mass until just combined. Sometimes I find I need to add a touch of extra liquid. Distribute the dough into oiled pans, and bake for 70 minutes if using loaf/cake tins or 30 min for muffins.

Enjoy with a cup of hot tea! If feeling decadent, spread with cream cheese.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Russian Apple Pancakes

(Don't be put off by the less-than-glorious appearance. These were so good!)

I think yeasted pancakes are seriously under-rated. I know most people adore the flap-jack kind of pancakes, but I've never really been into them. Yeasted pancakes, however, are an entirely different story. I love the faintly-yeasted taste, the wonderful smell as they cook, the doughy but satisfying texture. Mmm.

This is the second time I made these apple pancakes. The first time, the apples (they go on the bottom of the pan) were burn to a crisp. Seriously. They were pitch-black and crumbly. Somehow the dough part on top escaped untouched by the crisis below, and was cinnamon sugar-y, apple-y perfection. I knew I'd be trying this recipe again. I changed the way I cooked them a little bit this time, and although some of the apples still stuck to the bottom of the pan, this was, believe it or not, a vast improvement from the last time. I think I know what I have to do next time to make it even better.

This recipe is adapted from HomeBaking: the Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World, by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Dugoid. Alford and Dugoid are hands-down my favourite cookbook authors, ever. They travel the world, especially Asia, and produce delightful cookbooks that are part cookbook, part travelogue, part photography book. Beautiful.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

ho hum

For some reason I really didn't feel like cooking this past week. I don't know why. I drooled over food blogs as much as usual, but I was just too tired/uncreative to cook for myself. So I ate lots of simple salads, hummus and pita sandwiches, and so on. But today I had to cook, because there was half a can of coconut milk in the fridge that wouldn't stop calling my name. So I made a simple but tasty curry sauce/soup that I served over rice noodles. So easy and quite good. I liked it because I only used half a can of coconut milk and made up the rest of the liquid with veggie broth, so it wasn't as rich as a typical curry. I'm low on vegetables, so I was only able to put tofu, snowpeas, and bamboo shoots in it. I LOVE bamboo shoots...whenever I go out to Asian restaurants, I'm always too full to finish my food, but I somehow manage to pick out all the bamboo shoots (and baby corn and mushrooms, too). Tonight my bamboo shoots had to come from a can, but if you can, you should buy fresh ones. They are SO good. The bamboo is this weird yellow colour, but after you slice it and blanch the slices, it's amazing.
Tomorrow I hope I'll be able to go buy gluten to make the baked seitan everyone's been raving about, and maybe try one of those cupcake recipes, too...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
These lovely, subtly spiced, and lightly sweet buns are great at any time of the year! Serve with tea, or split, toast, and spread with butter. I tried to measure the amounts of flour and liquids I used (just for you guys!), but you might have to adjust based on the moisture in your flour/kitchen. You know. The instructions are really long, but that's just because I was feeling talkative. These are easy, easy, easy. Makes 12 buns.

For the starter:
3/4 cup warm water (not too hot! or you will kill the yeast)
1/4 cup soymilk (I used vanilla)
2 tsp yeast
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
Mix these ingredients together unthil thoroughly blended. Let the starter sit for 30-40 minutes. It should look bubbly.

For the dough:
About 4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 oz. cold butter (I used Earth Balance) cut into small pieces
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup dried fruit (currants are traditional, but I don't care for them and they are expensive, so I used lots of chopped dried apricots and dried cranberries, and a few token currants)

Mix the 3 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar, zests, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Rub (or cut) the butter into the flour, as though you are making a pie crust. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the starter. Mix with a wooden spoon as much as you can, and then knead the dough, sprinkling in more flour as knead, until smooth, about 5-7 minutes. You probably won't need more than 4 cups of flour. This was a beautiful dough to need-- soft but didn't stick to the hands. When the dough is smooth, sprinkle the dried fruit over the top and knead a few more times to mix that in. Place in a warm place, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until almost doubled in bulk.

When the dough is risen, divide into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a roll. Cut an x in the top of each roll, using either a knife or scissors. I cut about halfway into the roll, but I think that was a bit to much-- I'd shoot for 1/3 or 1/4 of the way through the roll next time. But don't just score the top, because the x will close up as the rolls rise if you do that. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 or 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450'F. Right before they go into the oven, mix together 2 tblsp flour with 2 tbsp water to form a paste. Pipe a little cross in each x right before the rolls go into the oven. (I thought this sounded gross, but you can't taste it at all-- it just helps the x to stand out. But you could easily skip this step.)

Bake the rolls for 12-15 mintues. Right before they are done, heat up 2 tbsps agave nectar/golden syrup/honey/simple syrup. Brush this on the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Vegan cookbook overload!

If yesterday was Easter, then today is Christmas...yes, bazu was right! My cookbooks from Amazon arrived a good 5 days before they predicted! I'm so excited!
I've made lots of recipes from VWaV and The Candle Cafe Cookbook before, but I'd never even looked at VCTOtW. Normally I never buy a book without looking at it first, but I'm glad I took a risk and bought this one! (It wasn't really a risk...I'd seen all your beautiful photos and great reviews!) The recipes look really, really good, and there are so many! I don't know where to begin! Though I probably won't be making very much frosting, because recipes that call for 1 cup of butter and 4 cups of powdered sugar make me feel slightly faint. Oh, and the cookbook itself is even a cute little square shape.

Ok, I'm off to browse recipes!

Happy Easter!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover/spring day!

As far as cooking goes, this was definately a good weekend. The highlight was definately hot cross buns, a traditional British treat that can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. Honestly, this was one of the most successful things I've baked for a long time (even better than the pumpkin muffins from yesterday). The buns were buttery, sticky, spice-y, citrus-y, fruit-studded goodness. They're even better the next day, split in half, toasted, and slathered with butter. Mmmm. I've you've never had a proper hot cross bun (the kind usually available in the US are not proper, because they've got icing on top, which is never to be found on a British bun. You can't exactly toast icing, can you?) do yourself a favour and make these! The recipe is at the end of the post.

(That's not meant to sound self-indulgent, it's just that these were really good!)

I also made a glass noodle salad. This was super easy and lots of fun to make. And it was fat free! Which was good, because the buns definately were not. Glass noddles are so much fun to cook. You start with a tiny bundle of white threads, which you put in hot water. Five minutes later, you've got delightfully stretch, 4-feet long, translucent noodles. I made a simple lime-soy sauce dressing for the salad. I wish I had had more veggies to put in it, but I didn't. Next time!

And finally, I made a composed salad of avocado, pink grapefruit segments and red onion, with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt on top. Normally I'm not one for composed salads--they seem so fussy-- but this one was really easy and tasty. Citrus segments are so easy to make, but they make a dish seem so fancy. I would serve this at a dinner party any time.

Actually, I'm pretty tired, so I'll post the recipe tomorrow if people are interested!

Sunday, April 8, 2007


I love lazy Saturdays....waking up a bit later than usual, taking time to make breakfast, and maybe exploring the city later on. Today I went to Purl and Knitty City because I needed to get some yarn for a baby sweater I want to knit, and I took a bunch of photos. It's nice to see signs of spring, like flowers at the Union Square Greenmarket, even though it's still freezing outside!

I finally perfected a muffin recipe, I think. Pumpkin Cranberry muffins-- light, fluffy, with just the right amount of crumb. Mmmm.

Walking around the Village/Soho/Union Square you sometimes see very interesting/pretty sights....

Too bad Sacred Chow was closed....I would have like to try a sandwich!

You still can't buy strawberries or anything, but the farmer's market is getting lots more fun.

There was a stand selling this lovely hand-made yarn...well, I thought it was lovely...until I noticed the coolers of lamb meat they had on a table. Isn't that sad?

Then I headed over to Purl. This place so so pretty! I love who ever styles their windows. I didn't end up buying my yarn there, because it's kind of pricy, but it was fun just being there, and looking at the handpainted and the bamboo and other interesting yarns. The fabric side is more affordable, fortunately!

I saw this wierd...scupture?...outside of a SoHo spa.

I don't usually take pictures of people's windows, but I love the way this woman displays her orange KitchenAid and bowls in her window. I'm sure she probably has a great sense of style!

I do have some more cooking-related things to share, but this post is getting pretty long, so I think I'll save that for another day!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Rice and beans

Today was a rice and beans kind of day. It's cold and rainy and rice and beans just seemed like a good thing to make. But that didn't mean I wanted bland rice and beans! Rice and beans is one of those fun dishes where you can come up with a million different versions. Tonight I made coconut rice with citrusy black beans topped with pickled red onions tonight. It sounds complicated, but it took less than 30 minutes. (Take that, Rachel Ray!!)

Due to bad lighting, the pictures aren't the best...

Coconut-citrus rice and beans
Serves 4
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
scant 1 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1/2 tsp tumeric
3/4 tsp salt

Mix the coconut milk, water, and tumeric in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and the salt. Cover tightly and let simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the onions:

1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Mix onion with a little salt and the sugar. Cover with vinegar and let sit for at least 15 minutes. The onions will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Next, start the beans

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp oil
2 15 1/2 oz. cans black beans
1/2 chopped cilantro (save some sprigs for garnish)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 small chipotle in adobo (or to taste), minced
1 lime
lime wedges and avocado slices, if desired

Sautee the onion and the garlic in the oil until slightly golden. Add the chipotle and the cumin, and cook for another minute. Mix in the cilantro, lime juice, and blackbeans, and simmer until hot. By this time, the rice will be done. Garnish with cilantro springs, lime wedges, and avocado.

(Check out lolo's blog for a completely different take on this dish!)

Oh, and you know what? Amazon says my cookbooks won't arive until the April 12-14!!! I want to start making cupcakes NOW!

And, I've been wondering: does anyone know where you can buy blackstrap molasses?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

spinach and a shopping spree

I had a bunch of spinach that I needed to use up, and not a lot of time, so I made a no-brainer for dinner: pasta with spinach. It was good, though. I carmelized an onion, added some garlic, a little bit of crushed red pepper, and deglazed the pan with balsamic, then quickly sauteed the spinach and mixed it with whole-wheat pasta. I think the sweetness of the onion contrasted nicely with the sharp and spicy flavours of the garlic and chile. And it only used a teaspoon of oil! If I had had cooked chickpeas, I would have thrown a few in, but I didn't. It wasn't the most photogenic dinner, but...

The chocolate pie from the other day was good, but could use some improving. The flavour was great, but the texture was really, really dense. It feelt like eating congealed chocolate, which wasn't really the texture I was going for. Anyone know how to lighten up a chocolate tofu pie? Do you think it was because I used mori-nu silken tofu and not the refrigerated silken tofu?

And!!! I finally decided it was time to use up a gift card that I've had since my high school graduation (!!) so I ordered Vegan with a Vegeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! I can't wait until they come! I've been using VwaV for ages (I keep on checking it out from the library, so I was planning on getting that, but amazon had one of those buy two together sepecials, which I couldn't resist. I've actually never looked at VCTOTW, but I've seen so many beautiful and delicious looking photos on your blog that I know it's going to be great.

Coming up tomorrow....something that uses a lot of cilantro!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

an experiment

As I mentioned in a previous post, I needed to make a dessert today to bring to a lunch tomorrow. I decided to overcome my fear of tofu and make a chocolate pie (with tofu in it). It was interesting experience. Tasty, but interesting. First, here are the photos (I haven't cut the pie yet, of course. Hopefully I'll be able to get a picture of a slice tomorrow).

I didn't use her recipe exactly, but the look and feel of the pie was definately inspired by Isa Chandra's Chocolate Smlove Pie. The recipe appealed to me because it looks great, and since the pie is baked, it looked like it would have a cheesecakey sort of texture. I basically followed her recipe for the pie filling, except I subbed flour for the arrowroot powder. I also used a little bit less chocolate, because I was using a really good 72% dark chocolate (from Trader Joes. Only $3.99 for 17oz, and it's vegan!) The filling was GOOD. Of course, the chocolate overpowered the tofu. I never would have guessed there was tofu in it. The filling was so good, and so thick, that I had serious doubts about baking it, but I decided to go ahead because I had already mixed up the crust. After about 15 minutes in the oven, the top of the pie was really dark and dried out, so I covered it and but let it continue baking, because the crust wasn't done yet. I took it out as soon as the crust looked done, which was after 30 min or so. The pie was never jiggly at all, it was really thick all along, so next time I would pre-bake the crust and not bake the filling. Also, I'd use even less chocolate.

I made a peanut butter carmel topping too, but I didn't have maple syrup or brown rice syrup, so made the carmel the old-fashioned way, by melting sugar in a pot. It was fun! The sugar was all melted and golden after about a minute, so I poured some soymilk in (instead of cream) and it got all foamy and bubbly, like it does with cream, but then the sugar sort of separated into a ball. I put it back on the heat, and fortuately it melted back into the sauce. This was a very yummy sauce.

And as you can see, I put coconut on the pie instead of nuts. The crumbs of the filling that I tasted were pretty good, so I hope the finished product is ok. I think it should be fine, but I'd definately change things a little bit next time.