Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ariel's steeping ... a hot cup of chai

let's talk about chai. it's so super hip ... and at the cafe it can be so super expensive! but ... it's so eazzy to make at home! you can even make your own tea mix ... or buy a pre-made one (which is what i have!). just make sure it's fair-trade ... and organic!

all you really need to do ... is steep the tea ... add some honey and hot milk ...

and ta-daaaa ... a chai tea latte! ab-fab, right?

happy sipping!



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Karina Sends Her Girls Off with a 3-Layered Goodbye...

Its just so happened that my first batch of mini cupcakes I was going to sell at the the corner market was scheduled for delivery the same day that two of my closest friends were throwing their going away party. (Before taking off for Central and South America.) I saw no reason not to kill (or bake) two birds with one stove.

Since the market suggested three different flavors, I decided to use the remaining batter to make a three layer cake for my ladies.

When I asked Lauren what her favorite cake was, she immediately mentioned carrot cake. I decided to make the first layer and batch a vegan ginger cashew carrot cake.

I looked up a few carrot cake recipes to get some ideas and decided to start with this one:
  • 3 Cups shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cup Organic Unbleached Sugar
  • 2 Cups Organic Unbleached Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup of OJ
  • 3/4 Cup of Canola Oil
  • 1 Cup of raisins shopping list
  • 1 Cup of Chopped walnuts
Lucky for me my good friend Morgan was visiting from out of town so I had me an assistant!

I threw a bug bunch of washed, organic carrots in the food processor to shred them and then I pressed out the excess liquid in a colander. Instead of walnuts I crushed some cashews (because that's what I had), and finely chopped up a about two tbls of fresh ginger.

I didn't have any OJ in the house, but we did find a really over-ripened peach so I had Morgan chop that up finely instead and add it with a few splashed of water and almond milk.

Once the carrot/liquid mix was well blended, we added it to the dry ingredients we had mixed as well. This took a lot of hand power as it was too thick and difficult to mix with a wooden spoon. I added some vanilla and agave for some more sweetness and water for a lighter texture because it was tasting and feeling more like a muffin mix than cake mix to me.

The flavor of the batter was good, but my intuition told me this was going to be a little denser and muffin-like than I was hoping for. I figured sometimes that's what you get with experimenting with new recipes and hoped for the best.

I used my trusty,
go-to vegan cake recipe as the base for the other two flavors. I made a big batch of basic cake batter, and divided it in two for my two different flavors. With what the seasonal market had to offer me, I decided to make both a Lavender- Vanilla layer, and a Blueberry Mint one.

For the first of the two, I added a few tablespoons of dried lavender buds...

...Scraped some organic vanilla beans, and chopped up a little fresh ginger.

For the second I blended some fresh blueberries, mint, lemon and agave and added this compote into the other bowl of batter.

We filled our various cake-pans and cupcake trays and started the process of baking them all.

The carrot cake came out looking beautiful, but my hunch was right that it was a little dryer and denser than desired. I decided to add some moisture and sweetness by forking holes all over the surface, and drizzling some organic Vermont maple syrup my friend Dan had given me.

I made a vegan vanilla-ginger frosting by throwing some earth balance, powdered sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, fresh ginger, and vanilla extract into the food processor. I frosted the first carrot cake layer with this delicious frosting. I found in the fridge a small container of the blueberry lavender frosting I had made the week before, so I decided to alternate the second blueberry mint layer with this.

I topped my final layer, lavender-vanilla, with my new vanilla-ginger frosting and we began decorating with all the goodies we set out for ourselves.

Strawberries, pistachios, shaved coconut, fresh mint, crystallized ginger and blueberries, Oh my!

The cake was brought to the bar hosting the farewell extravaganza, and was just about gone by the time I left!
(Note: this is a good tactic to use if you want the owner and bartenders to grant you free drinks all night!)

Proud Cake Mama's!

Couldn't forget to drop off our mini-friends at the market as well! The first round did really well- I went in the following week and there was one left on the plate!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ariel's making ... vegan coconut curry carrot soup

look at how cute these little carrots are! perfect for soup, right?

for dinner with friends, i decided to make a simple vegan soup. first i sauted some very finely chopped organic carrots, onions and garlic at low heat for about 10 minutes.

then i added about 5 cups of water and 1/2 c. organic tomato sauce. then i added about 1 T. of curry powder. once the carrots were tender, i added 1 can of organic light coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste.

it ended up turning out great -- and talk about easy! what a super fragrant and delectable concoction!



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Karina, Alma & The Cheesy FAUXdito Crunch..

Everyone has those things they ate when they were young and their stomach's were invincible. If you were like me and most kids my age, you lived for the moments when your parents caved (or were not around) so you could devour endless amounts of fast food.
My friend Alma and I for years now have been reminiscing about our pre-vegetarian/health-conscious days where taco bell was the end all be all and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch was the best that a jobless teen's allowance could buy.

We decided to pay homage to our beloved taco bell classic by remaking it, but this time completely vegan!

To start, Alma began cooking and spicing some veggie ground-beef with fresh onions, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

The real trick to this recreation was the special cheesy sauce. We thought long and hard of those beloved mystery flavors and decided to use veganaise for the creamy base, and add two types of vegan cheese (soy cheddar and almond pepper jack). For the spice/smokey factor that we recalled, we bought some chipotle peppers. I started by melting portions of both cheeses and adding everything to the food processor.

I threw in some cilantro as well as cayenne, chili powder, salt, and pepper for some more kick and flavor.

Its been a long hot while since either of us have tasted the real thing but I think we came about as close as we could possibly come in the vegan world. (My roommate who had conveniently had the real deal the week before verified that it tasted exactly the same!)

We chopped up lettuce and tomato for the toppings...

And Alma made a bomb guac just for our enjoyment, although taco bell never offered this without a charge!

We also cooked a big pot of brown rice to complete our meal...

And we shredded our cheese, topped the outer soft tortillas, and put them in the toaster oven to melt...

And the assembly line went into production:

Taco Bell, I think we may have you beat. These were SOOOOOO good- better in fact than we ever remembered. SF freinds- Look out in the Mission after last call- Alma and I just may start selling these Cheesy Fauxdito Crunchies for profit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ariel's making ... a vegan orzo salad

i've just discovered orzo. dudes -- it's awesome! so for a potluck, i decided to make an orzo salad.

for this recipe you'll need:

1 1/2 c. organic whole wheat orzo
1 organic summer squashes
2 cloves organic garlic
1 T. organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. organic peas
1 organic tomato

cook the orzo in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until tender. when done, rinse with cold water and set aside. saute the squashes and peas with the olive oil and garlic for about 5 minutes. chop the tomato.

for the dressing, you'll need:

2 T. organic extra virgin olive oil
1 T. organic seasoned rice vinegar
1 T. organic mustard
1 t. organic fair-trade sugar
1 t. organic dried dill
sea salt and pepper

mix the dressing with the orzo in a bowl and add the sauted squash and peas. top with the chopped tomato.

this is such a great potluck dish because it tastes great at room temp.

happy feasting!



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karina Ups the Stakes for her Cupcakes...

I got to chatting with owner of our neighborhood market and I mentioned that I baked gourmet cupcakes on the side. Being as generous and friendly as always, he suggested that I bring a batch by to possibly sell them in the cafe. I gladly agreed!

I happened to have some left over lavender in the kitchen, and since it has always been one of signature flavors in my baking, I thought it was only appropriate to utilize it for my first sampling.

I went ahead and took my favorite go-to vegan cake recipe, making it with lavender and fresh ginger, and made a few batches of cupcakes.

For the frosting, I decided to add blueberries and ginger to my lavender-infused powdered sugar (pic above) that I had left sitting overnight.

I added several scoops of softened earth balance, agave, cinnamon, a few shakes of sea salt and a sprinkle of cayenne for some more kick. I would give you exact measurements but I always just improvise until I like the texture and flavor. I threw this all in the food processor so the blueberries and ginger would be well integrated and not chunky.

My only regret here was that I did not sift out the lavender out of the powdered sugar for the frosting. The floral bitterness was almost too intense and I had to add some more agave and powdered sugar to try and mellow it out, which worked well enough. (I find adding whole lavender buds to batter that will be cooked in the oven works out great, but eating them raw in a frosting is a bit too much, even for me.) All in all, I still think this was one of the yummiest flavor combos I have made so far- especially when added to the mouth-watering cupcakes!!!!

Favorite Part always is the decorating. I chopped up fresh figs and got out the candied ginger. I also pulled out the piping tools my mom got me for Christmas and experimented with what designs I could make...

The market owner loved them and put them in the refrigerator to test how long they would last. A week later when I stopped by, we pulled them out and they were still incredibly moist and delicious (minus the fresh fig which we had to take off). He asked me to start bringing by mini-cupcakes in three different flavors to start putting in the display case next week- wish me luck!