Friday, November 27, 2009

Karina & Alma's Thanksgiving Twist..

Ariel kindly invited my friend Alma and me to join her family at Thanksgiving dinner. In discussing what foods Alma and I would cook and bring over, we both decided we wanted to take some risks and play with the traditional holiday dishes people have come to always expect.

First thing to spice up: Stuffing. We both agreed that stuffing is more often than not boring. It's dry, dull, and bland, yet it always makes its way to the table.

Seeing as there is no type of bread quite like a fresh loaf of Olive Bread, I decided to start by making french toast out of one. I chopped the loaf into small cubes and soaked them in my batter.

My batter was made up of eggs, vanilla hemp milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon & a splash of OJ. I used about 6 eggs and estimated the rest of the portions until it looked like enough for my bread.

I cooked my french toast squares batch by batch in a hot pan with olive oil and sprinkled honey and cinnamon over each round to keep them sweet and moist.

I cut up some fresh mint, apricots, and edamame.

In a pan I sauteed onion until soft and translucent, then added sliced eggplant, Portabella mushrooms, and apples. I flavored with Braggs, lemon, salt, pepper, and various other spcies until it was too good not to pick at .

I added chopped up ginger to the mix.

Then I mixed my french toast with the sauteed mix, mint, edamame, apricots and pecans with a little bit of olive oil and packed it into two baking pans.

I melted some earth balance (butter substitute) with garlic and honey and drizzled it over each pan of stuffing. I stuck it in the oven at 350*.

I cooked it for about 30 minutes or so until the top turned dark and a bit crunchy. I drizzled honey over it throughout the process to help lock in the moisture and sweetness.

I'm not lying when I say it was by far the best stuffing I've had to date!

Next task: Mashed Potatoes.

Alma had the brilliant idea of making peanut butter mashed potatoes and it took no convincing me to get on board. We peeled and boiled the potatoes until soft.

After draining and cooling, we returned the potatoes to the pot and added chopped garlic, hemp milk, earth balance, salt, cinnamon, honey,a splash of OJ, and a jar of organic, crunchy peanut butter. We whipped and flavored our mash until smooth and well balanced. The acidity of the OJ and sweetness of honey really allowed the peanut butter taste to stand out without being overwhelming.

If you are like the some of the other guests at the party who admitted they had skepticism when they heard "peanut butter mashed potatoes", take my word that everyone was pleasantly surprised and relieved at this DELICIOUS concoction!

Last, but certainly not least:

No one should go without a juicy, savory protein on Thanksgiving- not even a vegetarian. Alma has gone through her whole adult life remembering a certain chicken dish her mother prepared once when she was a child, so she decided to do her best at recreating it using Seitan. She called it, "Peachy Keen Belly Dream".

She started by mixing several scoops of veganaise, two jars of peach jam, some cinnamon, salt, tangerine juice, lemon, and coarse black pepper.

Once she had a creamy, well-flavored sauce, she added in two packages of Seitan and spread it all out in a baking dish.

She hard boiled several eggs that she peeled and added to the mix.

She baked this for an hour at 450*, then kept it on low in the oven until it was ready to take over and eat. I can't fully describe just how flavorful this was- a perfect balance of sweet and savory. The seitan bites bursted with mouth-watering juices and the baked eggs offered incredible texture and flavor to make this a WOW dish. YUM!

We joined Ariel's family and had one amazing meal to certainly be thankful for!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ariel's making ... vegan chocolate pumpkin mousse

vegan chocolate mousses is one of my favorite desserts, but since today is thanksgiving i made up a new recipe using pumpkin. to start you'll need:

1 organic pumpkin
1 package organic silken tofu
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
1 cup organic soy milk
1/2 cup organic fair trade dark chocolate chips
2 T cinnamon

wash and cut pumpkin in half. take out the seeds and place pumpkin on a cookie sheet. bake them in an oven at 350* for about an hour or until they're easily pocked with a fork.

don't throw away the seeds! wash them and then top with sugar and cinnamon and place in the oven with the baking pumpkin -- they're going to be a yummy garnish for our mousse.

when the squash is done, scoop it out into a blender.

add 1 cup of soy milk and ...

blend together 'til it's totally smooth.

add the silken tofu and blend again 'til smooth.

add your sugar and cinnamon and mix one more time.

now start melting your chocolate in a double boiler on the stove.

remove half of the pumpkin mix and set aside. add the melted chocolate to the remaining pumpkin/tofu mix and blend.

since we're having thanksgiving at auntie yam's today, i thought i'd make my mousse in a cupcake pan so that they're easy to carry and also in individual servings. using the two flavors, chocolate and pumpkin, i scooped a spoonful of each into the muffin liners and then gave them a swirl with a chopstick and topped with a little extra cinnamon. chill these overnight or for at least two hours -- and don't forget to add the candied pumpkin seeds right before you serve them.

eat, drink and be merry! happy thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

ariel's making ... brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze

my boyfriend sam bought me a bottle of this awesome pomegranate molasses the other week. it's really delish (i could just eat it by the spoonful!) but i've never used it before in cooking so it was time to get creative.

i had just gotten some fresh brussels sprouts at the farmers' market so i decided to try roasting them up with a pomegranate glaze.

first i washed and halved them.

then it was time to make the glaze.

you'll need:

2 T pomegranate molasses
2 T organic extra virgin olive oil
few pinches of sea salt
clove of chopped organic garlic

then i topped them generously with the glaze and popped them in the oven at 350* for about 40 minutes.

when they were a little brown and soft, they were ready to eat! after they came out of the oven, i topped them with a drizzle of garlic mayo ... just for kicks!

my lens got all steamy after i took the brussels out of the oven and i got this cra-cra photo of my oven. spooky!

happy almost thanksgiving darlings!



Karina was hired to make a cake!

The dust (or baking powder
) was settling after Daisy's wedding cake and I found myself ansy for the next baking challenge. Thankfully, my co-worker Amanda approached me about making her boyfriend's birthday cake and I gladly accepted the job.

The only request was a rum cake, so I started researching various recipes and jotted some notes to spring me off in the process. I decided to do a banana ginger rum cake and wanted to decorate with fried plantains and candied thyme. I doubled everything I'm about to tell you because she requested a cake for about 30 or so.

To start:
In one bowl, mix 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, & a few shakes of salt.

In another bowl, mix 3/4 cup softly melted butter with 1 cup cane sugar & 1 cup brown sugar. I actually mixed it with my hands to really blend it together becuase I had no electric mixer.

I switched to a metal whisk and added 3 eggs, one at a time, making sure it was well mixed.

Add 1/4 cup milk ( I used vanilla almond milk because I avoid cow's milk as much as possible!), several pours of dark rum and a splash or two of vanilla. Beat, stir or whisk until smooth and blended and then begin mixing in alternate scoops of the flour mixture and 1 cup of sour cream. (You can obviously use vegan sour cream, butter and egg replacer to make this completely vegan!).

The recipe I based this off of asked for powdered ginger but I always prefer the real, fresh thing! I added a ton of ginger and heard no complaints about it later. I wasn't fully satisfied with the flavor yet, so I mushed up two ripe bananas with some almond butter & almond milk and blended this. I also added some cayenne, cinnamon and more salt to get a delicious and dynamic batter.

The batter was getting pretty thick, so I added some more rum for fun!

I decided to throw in some pecans in the bottom of each pan for a little crunch surprise!

I filled each baking pan half way with batter and then added some amazing ginger steusal. For this streusal, simply chop up a half cup or so of crystalized ginger, 2 tbls brown sugar and 1 tbls chilled butter and mix it with your hands in a small bowl. Really pinch it together to form little clumps, then spread over your batter.

I finished off the batter in each pan until smooth on top and popped in the oven at 350*. The original recipe said for 1 hour but all my cakes were down way before this. I was using several sizes and types of cake pans, so I just kept a look out and waited for the smell and a toothpick to tell me when they were ready.

As soon as they were done, I easily slid each cake out of their pans (because I had well-greased & dusted with flour beforehand), and used a fork to puncture several holes in the tops to pour my rum syrup into.

For the rum syrup, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1/4 cup dark rum in a small sauce pan, stirring until boiling. Then add 1 1/2 tbls of chopped up butter and stir until it has all melted together. Do this right before the cakes are done so you can go right to pouring it over them while they are warm.

Pour half of the syrup over the holes in your cakes and let it soak in. Save the rest for glazing the outside, plus a little for making the candied thyme.

I completely made up how to candy the thyme, and fortunately it worked great. I just boiled each sprig in the leftover rum syrup for a minute or two and dipped them into a bowl of sugar.

I laid them out to dry and the candied thyme result was not only beautiful for a garnish, but also shockingly delicious!

For my other garnish, I wanted to experiment with fried plantains on a cake.

I bought two spotted, semi-ripe plantains and cut them in long diagonal slices. I heated vegetable oil for several minutes and carefully (with tongs) placed the slices in the oil for a minute or two on each side, until they began to turn bright yellow and gold. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet on their sides and let them dry for a bit, before placing them in a bowl of cold water with some chopped up garlic and salt in it. I soaked the plaintains in the water for about a minute, dryed them off with a towel, and placed them back into the hot oil. This time I fried them for a few minutes on each side until they turned golden brown.

Sprinkle them with sea salt and they are good to go!

I peeled some pomegrantes because I thought the seeds would be the perfect final touch with my yellow and green, and I went into the decorating zone with my extra glaze, thyme, & plantians!

Although the plantains where delicious when I made them and gorgeous as a garnish, the cake was not served until almost 8 hours later and they had dried out and become quite bitter by then. If you are going to decorate with plantains on your own cake, make sure it will be served and eaten right away!

I hate to brag but dang it was delicious!