Monday, August 29, 2011

Vegan Avocado Chocolate (Cup)Cake

Pin It You can't honestly tell me that you're not the least bit intrigued by the combination of those words -- Vegan. Avocado. Chocolate. Cupcake. Turns out, it's not so weird. Many before me, including the great Marcus Samuelsson, were intrigued by this recipe and none was disappointed. The chocolate cake has a whole mashed avocado in it. And you can't taste it at all in the final product, which was moist and light. The icing, on the other hand, is bright green and tastes a bit citrus-y. I happen to like the icing, but VB thought it was weird. "It tastes like avocado..." Well. Yeah...

If you're curious (admit it, you are a little), you can find the recipe from Joy the Baker here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Roasted Eggplant "Meat" Hand Pies

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I tend to go through phases when it comes to food. I would go on a two week doughnut binge or KFC or Taco Bell. But never a salad binge (I wonder why). So I guess this is my pie binge. I made these meatless hand pies with some Gimme Lean Sausage, roasted eggplant, and roasted jalapeno peppers (home grown!). I guess you can also call them empanadas, but "hand pies" has a nice ring to it.

You'll need:
  • 1 pound equivalent of ground meat product
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon harisa
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 portion vegan pie crust, recipe below
To make vegan pie crust, you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 3/4 cups vegan butter spread (Earth Balance is the choice for me), cubed and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon (plus more if necessary) cold water
  • 1 pinch of salt
To begin, mix all purpose flour, chilled vegan butter spread and a pinch of salt until the mixture has a wet sand consistency. You can use food processor and pulse a few times or you can use your hands and break up the butter spread into finer granules. Mix in water. The dough should barely come together. If not, add a little more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill.

Place eggplant and jalapeno peppers on top of open flame to char the skin. Turn occasionally so the skin is charred evenly on all sides. If you don't use a gas stove, try broiling in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes a side. Set aside to cool. Once they are cooled, rough chop eggplant into medium cubes and mince jalapeno peppers. In a medium pot, heat up tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in garlic and minced jalapeno pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ground meat product. For Gimme Lean, you need to cook it like ground meat, i.e., break into smaller chunks with a spatula and brown. With other mock meat products, you may not have to. Saute until browned. De-glaze the pot with red wine vinegar. Stir in eggplant, harisa and tomato paste. Cook on low heat until eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Divide chilled dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape a piece into a ball then roll out into a disc 1/4 inch in thickness. Add 1/4 cup of eggplant mixture to one side of the disc. Fold over and crimp edges with a fork. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Chill the other pieces when you're not working with them. If you plan to bake the pies immediately, return assembled pies into the fridge while you make other pies. You can also freeze these pies at this time. Either way, they need to stay cool before baking.

Pre-heat to 400 degrees. Place these pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray the top with canola oil spray so they will brown. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If the pies were previously frozen, bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let pies cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    First Tomato Harvest

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    This here is called green zebra. Very descriptive name, huh? It's our first tomato of the season! There are plenty more on the vine. Now, I have to come up with a way to use them...

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Kale Mushroom Tofu Quiche

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    I thought I experiment a bit with some vegan quiche. It's not really much of an experiment, considering that I've made a vegan quiche before. But this time, I'm going to make a proper crust and not take a polenta cake and call it a crust. The tricky part is how to make a buttery, flaky crust with no butter. I decided to take a chance and use Earth Balance. I've used Earth Balance to replace butter in various situations -- some worked out well, others not so much. So I fully expected a tough and chewy crust. But what I got was delicious flaky crust very similar to what I would've gotten with butter. As for the rest of the quiche, it has a ton of vegetables and packed with protein from tofu. It's not much of a looker though. Next time, I would perhaps cut back on the veggies and use softer tofu to create a texture that's more like a quiche. But for now, I'm very happy with how this turned out.

    You'll need:
    • 1 block of firm tofu, crumbled
    • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed, cleaned and sliced into strips
    • 1 pint of brown button mushrooms, quartered
    • 1 small/medium leek, cut in half length-wise, sliced and cleaned thoroughly
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1/3 cup grated soy mozzarella
    • 2 tablespoon olive oil
    • salt to taste
    • 1 portion of pie crust, recipe below
    For the pie crust, you'll need:
    • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup Earth Balance, chilled and cubed
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if necessary
    To prepare the crust,  mix flour and salt together. Add cubed Earth Balance. Work quickly and break up the cubes into small bits until the mixture has a wet sand consistency. Add water and mix. The dough should barely come together. If not, add a bit more water, one tablespoon at a time. Place the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. After 10 minutes, move the dough into the fridge until you are ready to bake.

    Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough into a large disc and place into a pie pan. Press down gently so the dough is formed into the pan. Dock the dough with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. You can use pie weights to bake the crust, but I baked it without the weights. Remove the crust and set aside.

    Yeah, not the prettiest pie crust ever, but it was nice and flaky.
    Heat up olive oil in a heavy medium pot fit with a lid. Add leeks, kale, mushroom and a dash of salt. Turn the heat to low and cover. Let the vegetables steam for 8 to 10 minutes. Kale should be soft but still bright green. Drain and mix together with tofu, nutritional yeast, soy mozzarella, and soy sauce. Fill the crust with the mixture. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Placerville, California

    Pin It Long time no post. And this isn't a proper food post either. I haven't been cooking all that much recently, but I do have a couple of weird recipes that I want to try. But for now, quick post of pictures from our recent trip to Placerville, California (and nearby El Dorado County area). It's very scenic with a country twist. It used to be gold country but now the area is known for whitewater rafting, wine and agriculture.

    Lava Cap.

    Lunch, wine and great view.
    A big hunk of apple strudel.
    Downtown Placerville -- my picture didn't do it any old time-y justice.
    Eden Vale Inn.

    Dog's name is Pepper. He told you himself.
    Grapes super sour and have thick skin -- yes, we tried them when no one was looking.