Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eggplant Bake and Chickpeas on Mustard Greens

Having a veggichop is marvelous! Last night, for example, I made two dishes that required fairly extensive chopping, and this little manually-powered gadget got it ready in a matter of a few pulls of the handle. What did I chop with it? Walnuts, garlic, and tomatoes. Why? To make this dinner:

I'm not sure it's clear from the picture what this dinner included: chickpeas in balsamic glaze over mustard greens and an eggplant bake. I made up the recipe for the eggplant bake all by myself, and I have to say, for someone who only cooked eggplant twice before in all her life, it turned out darn good! [The photo really doesn't do it justice. I should fire the incompetent photographer.]

First, I sliced the eggplants into 1/2" thick rounds, and salted some of the water out of them (line in a colander, salt, wait 20 minutes, turn over, salt again, wait another 20 minutes, soak the liquids). Then I pan fried them with just a tiny bit of oil, and squeezed more water out of them as they became softer, using a fork. Then I arranged them in a baking dish, and topped them with chopped tomatoes, chopped walnuts, feta, garlic powder, and oregano. [I put garlic powder because I realized too late that garlic would probably be good in this dish. I should have chopped some together with the tomatoes. Instead I used it all in the mustard green concoction.] Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so (I cooked the greens in the meantime, with some walnuts in them -- my variation) until the feta starts to brown just a little bit. That's it!

Potato Broccoli Soup - Non-Pureéd

The cold nights just won't leave us alone... And they obviously call for hot soup. Mark wanted to have potato broccoli soup, but he doesn't particularly like pureéd soups, which is all you can find all over the web. So we had to make up something, and this is what we did:

  • 5 smallish potatoes, non-peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 smallish broccoli heads, cut into small florets, stems cut into small pieces
  • 4 stalks of celery, thinlishly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 8 cups of veggie broth
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • umami flavoring (MSG)
Sauté onions in a large pot with olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, and after a few minutes the celery. When it's all nice and fragrant, add the veggie broth, and potatoes. Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer. When potato is fairly soft, add the broccoli stems and all the spices. When the potato and broccoli are nice and soft, add the florets. You can serve with some sliced almonds and potatonion bread, if you wish. Mark thought the soup was perfect. I thought it could use a little more flavor. Maybe lemon juice?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mustard Greens and Feta Ebelskivers

These are my first true ebelskivers:

Aren't they cute?
I was afraid they wouldn't come out right, because I overloaded them, but somehow it worked!
The recipe calls for spinach, but I used mustard greens, because we have plenty of it, while our spinach is yet to grow. My less successful ebelskivers are actually better for showing the greens:

They were very fluffy and spicy (from the mustard) and the ones that had a lot of feta inside them were the best.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chanukah, Hanukka, Channuckah?

I never know how to spell it in English! Someone really needs to find a standardized way of spelling this holiday...
We ended up celebrating the holiday of lights only after it was over - this past Saturday. I made sweet potato latkes, and Mark made oven-baked sufganiot (yeast doughnuts). We lighted 9 candles, to symbolize the 9th night of Hanuka (See? Another spelling).

Of course, everybody knows that one is supposed to eat fried food on Hannukah, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days instead of just one night. However, we don't like to cook with a lot of oil, and we don't even have a deep-fry pan, so we made the latkes on a non-stick griddle with hardly any oil, and the doughnuts in oven.
The doughnuts turned out very good, though resemblance to actual doughnuts is fairly faint. I guess they were more like yummy, fluffy sweet rolls with some raspberry preserves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cold Nights Call for Hot Soups

We had two new kinds of soup recently:

Navy Bean Brown Rice Soup

  • 1 lb dry navy beans, soaked over night
  • 2 celery sticks - sliced
  • 4 tomatoes - chopped
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic - copped
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • carrots - as much as you please - chopped/sliced
  • bay leaf
  • veggie broth
  • crushed red pepper
  • dried parsley
Start cooking the beans - start at least two hours before your meal time - in 6 cups of water. After about an hour, add the rice, and start cooking the other ingredients in a frying pan: Heat some oil, add the onion, and cook till it browns a bit. Add the garlic, then the celery and carrots. Add this veggie mix to the beans and rice, as well as the tomatoes, and cook on low. Add veggie broth and a couple more cups of water. Also add spices: bay leaf, parsley, crushed red pepper, and salt.
This soup can fill you up by itself, but we prefer to serve it with some delicious bread.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

  • 3 cups of sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 leeks, cut to rounds
  • 4 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
In a big pot, heat some oil, and brown the onion. Add garlic, then leek. Cook for a little while, then add the spices. Stir for a few seconds, then add the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Puree and return to pot for reheating and add coconut milk.
I have spoken before about the amazing combination of leeks and sweet potatoes, and indeed, adding the coconut milk makes it even more heavenly.
We ate it with some yammy bread.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Our garden veggies are growing and getting crowded, so we have to thin them. Unlike the pea plants, which we can't eat and had to compost, the salad greens thinnings could be used for this Asian-ish salad. It just so happened we had 2 oranges and a grapefruit sitting in the fridge -- perfect!

The recipe for this salad is from the Vegetarian Times:
  • 2 oranges, primed
  • 1 grapefruit, primed
  • mixed salad greens, a handful, coarsely tore (the original recipe calls for chopped arugula)
  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • peanuts, crushed, roasted
[the original recipe also called for chopped mint and shallots, neither of these were available at the time of preparation. I believe it's good as I made it, but I'm sure these missing ingredients could add more complexity and character]
  • salad dressing: 2 T agave nectar, 1.5 T lime juice, 1 T soy sauce, salt, crushed red pepper

Toss greens and citrus with dressing, top with nuts and seeds.

Pretty, ha?

We're going to eat it with onion Sicilian pizza!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cry-Baby Cake

I made this for Vanessa's Baby Shower:

The idea was taken from here.

I baked the head in a ceramic bowl (that I made!). The head is a basic vanilla cupcake recipe from the best cookbook ever - you know - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It also made 4 cupcakes. The belly is the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from the same book. It made 1 cupcake in addition. The arms and legs are Golden Cremes (Twinkies that don't contain lard). Vanessa is a redhead, that's why the hair is so orange.

And here is the guest of honor, preparing to serve the baby's head after mercilessly cutting it to pieces:

We had lots of fun: good food (I didn't feel like I ate a lot, but I was full pretty quickly! And that's after I ran 11.5 miles just a few hours before! I guess not seeing how much food you're consuming makes you not realize how much you really eat), nice activities - we painted wood blocks, onesies and socks for the baby. The creativity was flowing like the mulled cider, wine, beer, and sparkling lemonade that were offered. As we ate the cake, Vanessa opened the gifts, and it was cool to see all the cute and/or practical items people gave.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing

Doesn't it sound perfect for the season?
It's, of course, from the best cupcake book ever - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, though, as always, I don't make the frosting vegan.

They are for Anna's birthday tomorrow. Hope they turned out good and that she'll like them!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stout Cake with Irish Cream Frosting

As per Kevin's request, the double birthday party cake I baked was a cake version of the chocolate stout cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World*. Just like the coconut cake I made based on the coconut cupcake recipe from the same book, the stout cake turned out DE-LI-CIOUS! Very moist, rich and chocolaty. Of course, Irish cream frosting doesn't hurt :)

It seems that converting a cupcake recipe into a cake is not that hard - you just double the ingredients, and lengthen the baking time:
  • 1.5 c soy milk
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • 2 c plus 4 T all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c stout
  • 1/5 c sugar
  • 2/3 c canola oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine soy milk and vinegar. In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients besides sugar. Mix the sugar and stout into the milk, add oil and vanilla and whisk until well mixed. Add dry ingredients into large bowl and beat for about 2 minutes. Pour batter into a lightly oiled 9" cake pan (I like to use spring-form and line the bottom with parchment) and bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool and frost.

Irish Cream Frosting (not vegan):
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 3 T Irish Cream
Beat everything together until smooth.

* People in my lab must have realized I like this book, so they gave it to me as a farewell gift!! :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Apricot-Glazed Almond Cupcakes

Another cupcake from the great book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World! I think I will have to get this book! This time it was for Tanja's birthday.

  • 1/4 c oil (though the book calls for 1/3 c)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c yogurt
  • 3/4 c soy milk (or almond milk!)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t almond extract (recipe calls for 2, but my extract is way too strong)
mix it all together, beating well, in a large bowl, then sift in:
  • 1 c + 2 T flour
  • 1.5 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
mix until batter is smooth (but don't overdo), then fold in:
  • 1/3 c almond meal
Pour into a muffin pan, filling 2/3 of each cup. I only got 11 :(

At the center of each cupcake put 1/2 t apricot jam, pressing slightly so it'll level with the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 24-26 min (don't test with a toothpick, it will be sticky).

When cupcakes are cool, glaze with a bit of apricot glaze (1/2 c jam + 1 T water, heated up and stirred well), and top with sliced almonds.

Broccoleek Quiche

When you buy leeks, make sure you get at least three. This way, after you make leek-walnut pasta, you can also make some mini-quiches:

Here's how you make them:
In a pan, over medium high heat, with a bit of olive oil, saute:
  • 1 leek, sliced diagonally
  • 1 broccoli crown, divided into mini-florettes
Salt it to taste

In a blender, blend:
  • 1 package of soft tofu (15 oz)
  • 2 T tahini
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t salt
  • red hot pepper flakes to taste
  • soy milk as necessary (up to 1/4 c)
When smooth and yummy, add the sauteed veggies (mix, don't blend!). Pour into a muffin pan (oil it a bit, if you're not using a silicone pan. And if you oil it, you might as well add some breadcrumbs to add crunchiness).

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

I served it with some marvelous jicamagic, this time made with with golden bell pepper instead of red (hence the yellowness of the whole plate).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nutty, Leeky Pasta

A quick-and-easy supper:

Leek and Walnut Pasta

pasta of your choice (3 servings)
1 T butter
2 leeks, sliced diagonally
1/2-3/4 c walnuts, chopped
salt to taste
shredded or grated parmesan or romano cheese

Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute until soft, stirring occasionally. Salt to taste. Add walnuts, stir for a couple of minutes. Add pasta, and stir for a few more seconds.
Serve topped generously with cheese (and if you're like me, you'll need to add more salt).

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cupcakes and a traffic light

In the past month or so I baked two types of cupcakes (I know, not amazingly productive). They are both taken from the delightful book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World (although they're not completely vegan, I deveganized them a bit)

Green Tea Cupcakes:

The cupcake is sitting on a plate made by my cousin, Orna

  • 1/2 c yogurt
  • 2/3 rice milk
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 3-4 t matcha tea powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
Whisk all wet ingredients together, then sift dry ingredients in and mix in gently until incorporated. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted through the center of one cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely and then top with glaze.

Green tea glaze:
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 t matcha tea powder
  • 1-2 T milk (I used soy)
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • a drop of vanilla extract
Fluff the butter with a fork, mix in the matcha powder with the sugar and combine with the butter till crumbs form. Then add 1 T milk and extracts. Beat. If too thick, add a bit more milk, 1 t at a time.

Grapefruit Cupcakes:

This is an adaptation from the book's "orange pudding cupcakes". I just replaced the orange juice with grapefruit juice, omitted the pudding (just because of laziness) and completely changed the topping.

  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c soy milk
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
Combine wet ingredients and sugar, and 1 T flour (helps emulsify). Beat until combined. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients, then add them in 3 batches to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth (but don't over do it). Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 min. Cool completely and top with glaze.

Grapefruit glaze (inspired by green tea glaze):
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 T grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • drop of vanilla extract
Prepare as described for green tea glaze.

UPDATE: Reducing 3/4 cup of grapefruit juice to 2 tablespoons gives the glaze an incredible peachy color and an intense citrus flavor -- highly recommended!

And now for something completely different:

Traffic Light Parfait:

It's basically just kiwi, mango, and strawberry, layered, with some yogurt mixed with honey in between. Honey yogurt is good!
I think I need to get some tall wine/champagne glasses for this dessert!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


What do you do with 10 lbs of potatoes?
We got a 10 lb bag of potatoes from the Ranch Market for $1 again, and we decided that this time we will use all of them before they go bad. It's not so easy for a couple who also gets a bunch of other vegetables that need to be eaten. But we did it!
First, Mark made delicious roasted herbed potatoes. They were the best roasted potatoes I've ever had! Flavorful and crisp, but not at all oily or greasy.
Next, I made some papas a la huancaina and moussaka.
Mark also made a potato pizza!
The rest of the potatoes went into a soup:

This soup basically has all kinds of vegetables: potatoes, tomatoes, green onions, and corn.

If you end up with 10 lbs of potatoes, here are some other ideas for you to try:
potato bread (I can't believe I don't have a link for that!)
potato torte (kosher for passover!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paneer Butter Masala

I made paneer again. Actually, I also made ricotta at the same time :)
Anyway, as good as the Shahi Paneer is, we thought we should try it with something new. So I found this recipe and tried to simplify it and adjust it to the ingredients I had on hand. It came out really good, though not incredibly different from Shahi. It was nice to have the cashew crunch and the added bell pepper flavor, but it is a bit more complicated to make than Shahi, so it's good to have a choice.

Here's how I made it:
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 onion - grate with a grater or grind in a food processor
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 1 t minced ginger
  • 1 t ground chili
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 T ground cashew (a handful of whole cashews will be good)
  • 2 tomatoes - grated, or peeled and pureed
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • salt
Heat the oil on medium-high and cook the onion, the garlic and the ginger, until onion is transparent. Add chili, cook for another minute. Add milk, cook 2 minutes, add cashew, cook another 2 minutes, add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or so, after adding garam masala and cumin, salt and sugar. Add 1/2 c water and cook on low for another 10 minutes.

While this is simmering, prepare the following:
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, jullienned
  • 2 hot peppers, cut to a size of your preference (if it's too hot, you can cut it to large pieces so that you can remove before eating)
Saute the onion in the butter over medium heat. When cooked, add peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add sauteed onion and pepper to the tomato masala.

Now all you need is to add the cubed paneer and let it all simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve with naan or whatever other bread you like.

  • Feel free to add more water or milk if it seems too thick to be absorbed in the paneer.
  • I found that grating the onion and tomato with a grater is a very easy way to get the same result as with a food processor, if you don't have such an appliance, or don't feel like cleaning it.
  • This dish comes out thicker than Shahi, so can be easily eaten with chapati, or other, non-absorbant bread.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best Vegetarian Moussaka

I have ever made. True, it's the only one I've ever made. Still - it was pretty darn good!
It's kind of a lengthy process, though, requiring many dishes that later need to washed, so I wouldn't be making it every day. It's also not the best dish to make in the Phoenix summer - the oven was on for a little more than an hour! But the 99.99 cents only store had eggplants, and we've been wanting to make something with eggplants for a while now. Plus, we needed to use up the 10 lbs potato bag we have, so moussaka it was!

I kinda made up the recipe as I went, considering a bunch of recipes I found online, and adding ingredients I felt would be appropriate. I also tried to make the process as efficient as possible.
Here's what I used:

For the layers:
  • 2 eggplants
  • 6 small-medium potatoes
For the Tomato-Walnut filling:
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • dried herbs and spices: oregano, thyme, sage, paprika, salt
  • 1 large handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped (Genius! How could anything with walnuts be possibly bad?)
For the Feta-Bechamel:
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 generous handful of feta (another spark of genius!)
The efficient cooking:
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Slice the eggplant about 1/4", spread them on a large cutting board and salt them. let them "sit" for 1/2 hour
  • Slice the potatoes to the same thickness and arrange on an oil-sprayed cookie sheet, salt and bake for about 20 minutes.
  • Start cooking the filling: Heat oil on medium, chop onion and saute until softened.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic, herbs.
  • This is the time to chop the walnuts and add them in. When it start bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer.
  • While the filling is simmering, rinse eggplant slices and arrange on another cookie sheet, and bake 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350F.
  • Now it's time to make the feta-bechamel: In a small sauce pan melt butter, add flour and stir till well-mixed, then add milk and keep whisking until smooth. Then add crumbled feta.
  • Lightly oil a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  • Arrange 1/2 of the potato slices in one layer over the breadcrumbs, cover with about 1/2 cup of filling, arrange about 1/2 the eggplant slices, and cover with another 1/2 cup of filling, then repeat with potatoes, filling, eggplant, filling. You shouldn't have too much of the filling left by now, but that's okay - just top it all with the feta-bechamel sauce and Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is golden-brown. Let cook for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  • To be even more efficient, wash the dishes while it's baking. You should still have time to rest before it's ready :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Papas a la Huancaina

Took me ages to learn how to pronounce it! The first time I had it I couldn't believe it was really made of potatoes - it tasted completely different than anything else I have ever tasted. It was delicious. When my friend Gissella gave me the recipe, I couldn't believe I will ever be able to create something as good, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Here's what they say about it:

The history behind this dish goes back many years ago, during the construction of a railroad from the capital city Lima to the mountain area. This enormous work was in charge of a number of crews that worked at 2000 m.a.s.l. You can imagine how a project of this magnitude can wear down even the toughest worker.In consequence, people (especially women) from the Huancayan population would approach the crews with meals for lunch. Among these people, one woman stuck out because of the dish she brought: nice potatoes with a delicious cheese-based sauce and some hard-boiled egg pieces. The sauce consisted of crushed cheese mixed with minced "rocoto" (a sort of aji) and diluted with some milk. This particular dish was a hit and crews would expect this woman's arrival, calling out:

"A que hora llega la papa de la Huancaína" (What time does the Huancayan's potato arrive?)

With time, the recipe evolved. Rocoto was changed for ají and oil began to be included in the preparation. With the advance of technology, the ingredients began to be mixed with the aid of blenders, in contrast to the original mortars. However, one thing did not change, and that was the uniqueness of this dish.

Interesting, ha?
OK, here's how to make it, courtesy of my Peruvian friend:
  • 4 small potatoes
  • 3-4 oz queso fresco
  • 3-4 oz feta cheese
  • 1/2 c milk (or so)
  • 4 saltine crakers
  • 2 T salsa de aji (pepper paste) OR 2 banana peppers
  • salt & pepper
Cook the potatoes, slice and arrange them over some lettuce.
Blend the other ingredients in a blender and pour over potatoes.
Serve with hard boiled eggs and black olives.
Best to eat at room temperature.

*Note: blending in yellow aji paste will make it very yellow, I used fresh pepper here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rice And Black Bean Cakes

What to do when you have leftover rice and 1/2 can of black beans that you need to use? Rice-and-black-bean-cakes of course!

I took the recipe for the cake from here, but modified it a bit:
  1. I doubled the recipe and got 6 medium sized cakes plus 1 gigantic one
  2. I used white rice, cause that's the leftovers I had
  3. I didn't have ground chipotle, so I put some chile and cayenne
  4. I didn't have chipotle in adobe sauce for the tofu sauce, so I put some jalapeno - it turned out pretty good!
  5. I topped it with some corn kernels mixed with salsa.
I think it came out quite tasty, and it wasn't too hard to make - probably would be even easier with a food processor :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vegan Crustless Asparagus Quiche

The recipe is taken from here, but I made a couple of modifications:
  1. I added 1-2 T tahini (from my experience, it adds deliciousness)
  2. I made it without a crust, just 'cause I'm lazy
  3. I oiled the pie dish and covered it with breadcrumbs
A crust is a good thing to have when you make a quiche, especially when it's still hot - it's hard to get it out of the dish without having it all break into pieces otherwise. I think that making mini quiches in a silicone muffin pan would work better when there's no crust. I will try it sometime with corn or mushrooms, or corn AND mushrooms!

It's easy to make (basically blending everything) and the batter is YUMMY!!! I could probably eat it all uncooked - which means that it could possibly make a good cold soup :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coconut Birthday Cake

Mark likes coconut cakes for his birthday, mostly because his favorite, carrot cake, is hard to make without a food processor to process all the carrots, and we don't have a food processor. Coconut is his other favorite. Last year I made this one. Mark liked the frosting, but agreed with me that the cake itself was a bit too dry. This year I made the cake using a recipe from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" topped with the same frosting I made last year. The recipe was for coconut-lime cupcakes, but I removed the lime zest to make it straight coconutty. I also didn't have coconut extract, so I put almond extract instead, and it came out almondy as well. I think next time I'll put less almond, or remove it altogether. Another alteration was substituting coconut oil for regular vegetable oil.

I basically doubled the recipe from VCTOTW and this is what I came up with:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can (15 floz) coconut milk
  • 1/2 c soymilk
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 t almond extract (coconut extract in original recipe, I think you can just leave it out, since the cake tastes coconutty anyway)
Mix all together in a big bowl, then add:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
Mix all together until combined, then add:
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Stir it in until combined, and pour into 9" spring form pan. Bake at 325-350 for about 40-45 minutes, until it's no longer jiggly and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

I cut it horizontally in half and put icing in the middle. I also put coconut cream (1/2 can coconut milk + 2-3 T brown sugar + 1 t vanilla, brought to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium heat), but it's not really necessary.

This is probably the best coconut cake I ever had - very moist and rich - though I don't care much for the frosting. I could probably eat it straight without any additions. Or I would try the VCTOTW lime frosting (1/4 c lime juice for a cup of fat and 2 cups of powdered sugar), or some sort of cream cheese frosting. If you like coconut, you should try it - it's fairly easy to make - took me less than 20 minutes to put it in the oven!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lasagna From Scratch

But I mean really from scratch. Noodles, sauce, even ricotta! The only thing we didn't make from scratch is the mozarella, and the Romano we sprinkled on it. It was SO good. I have to thank a fellow student in ceramics class for sharing the recipe for ricotta. I didn't realize how easy it is to make, and how much better it is than store-bought ricotta! It also holds much better than regular ricotta, but that's probably because it's not traditional ricotta (usually made out of whey produced during hard-cheese making), but a whole-milk ricotta. This makes it more chunky and gives it more substance.

And this is how you make it - I recommend you try it at least once, because it's both fun and easy!

1 gallon milk (I used 2%)
1 quart buttermilk (I used fat free)
2 T salt

Pour everything into a large pot, and bring to boiling, stirring constantly, over high heat. It takes about 20 minutes. Stirring is very important, otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot. The added benefit is stronger arms. When it reaches the boiling point, and the milk is foaming and starting to rise, remove from the stove. You'll find curds floating in whey. Empty the content of the pot into a large strainer lined with cheese cloth (I use a large measuring cup to do that, gradually. I aslo fold the cloth multiple times so as little curds as possible will pass through). Once most of the whey passed through and mostly curds are left in the cloth, transfer to an air-tight container for later use (e.g. lasagna or calzone) and/or consume immediately. Don't throw away the whey. Although you won't be able to make more ricotta with it (as I learned the hard way - you can only use hard cheese whey for that) you can still use it to make delicious breads, or even drink it straight (some suggest adding spices) or, according to Rebecca, cook oatmeal with it. Also, you can whey your rose bushes. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009


That's right! I made cupcakes with beer!

It turned out really delicious! So much so, that Clint already asked me for the topping recipe. His girlfriend, Danielle, gave me the recipe for the cupcakes (which, in turn, is taken from the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World) so he didn't need it from me. However, I did modify it a little bit: I put 1/4 cup of oil instead of 1/3 cup, and 1/3 cup of beer instead of 1/4 cup. I think it was a good substitution, don't you?

I topped it with chocolate mousse, also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It was so good! What I made was enough for the cupcakes and a few more generous servings of mousse desert.

Vegan chocolate mousse:
  • 15 oz extra firm silken tofu (I actually used regular soft tofu from Fresh & Easy)
  • 15 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips - melted
  • 2 T maple syrup (I only used 1, and added about 3 heaping t of powdered sugar, because I was afraid the mouse won't be firm enough to stand on top of the cupcakes)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c soy milk (I put a little less, and substituted the rest with Irish Cream (not vegan, but can be easily veganized at home, or just left out) just because I have some from making the suggested Irish Cream frosting from the cupcake recipe link above. BTW, if you do it, put a lot more than 2 T, otherwise it won't taste like Irish Cream at all. I put around 6 T the second time I made it).
Blend tofu and milk in blender until smooth, add syrup, vanilla, and melted chocolate and blend more until smooth, creamy and delicious.

** although these cupcakes are vegan, my version of them is not - both because of the Irish Cream and because of the beer I used (I understand Guinness is not vegan, because part of the manufacturing process involves using some fishing by-product. Well, that's the last time I by this brand! Now I need to think what to do with the 4 bottles I have left...). These two items could be easily substituted, or completely omitted in the case of the Irish Cream.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Fancy Midweek Dinner For Absolutely No Reason

Well, there is one reason - that I decided to get a roll of polenta. I've been wanting to try it for a while, and finally did. Since it doesn't go by itself, I had to come up with something to put on it, so I figured out something that incorporated vegetables we had in the fridge, it came out quite good: Polenta with goat cheese and caramelized onions on crusted tofu, sitting among fire-colored vegetables. I'd say delicious, but I'm not sure Mark would agree. He thinks the polenta should be enhanced further. I thought the goat cheese and caramelized onions were very good for it. You should try it and see which one of us is right!

I really ought to get some green herbs for decoration...

It's very easy to make:

slice 1/2" slices and fry them in a pan with a tiny little bit of olive oil, spread some goat cheese on top and put in the toaster oven to melt, then top with caramelized onions.

Crusted Tofu:
cut tofu (~9 oz) to 1/2" thick squares, and dry.
In a small bowl combine: 2 T soy sauce, 1/2 T oyster sauce, and 1/2 T mustard.
ladel sauce on tofu pieces, both sides, then dip the edges in the bowl, and transfer to a plate with 1/4 c Italian bread crumbs. Fry in a pan over medium - high heat with a little bit of olive oil until golden brown and crisp.

** I kept the tofu and the polenta in the toaster oven while I worked on the other stuff, to keep them warm, and added the goat cheese just a few minutes before we sat to eat. **

Fire-Colored Vegetables:
Dice 1 red bell pepper, 1 orange bell pepper, and a tomato (or use cherry tomatoes). Saute in a pan over medium-high with some olive oil, adding the tomatoes last. Spice it up with some herbs - oregano, basil, thyme - and salt and pepper.

Caramelized onion:
Cut 1/2 onion to thin wedges and saute in a little bit of butter. When it softens, add a little bit (1 t) of sugar. keep sauteing until golden brown.

It may seem like a lot of things, but really, it's quite simple! I liked it a lot.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Food in Switzerland

First of all, Luxemburgerli:

Sweet, little melt-in-the-mouth thingies. The passion fruit was the best! Can only find them in Switzerland. Fortunately, there's one place in Tempe that sells something similar (the French macaron)!

On my last night, there were no hotel rooms available because of the carnival, so I stayed with Flore, a graduate student in Mathias Koelliker's lab. She was so nice, and made me some ratatouille! She should know how to make it - she's French!

Of course, it was accompanied by a glass of wine :)

Here's how I think she made it:
2 zucchinis
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper

they were all coarsely chopped, and cooked in a pan, adding them leisurely, one at a time, starting with the onion, of course. Olive oil was added liberally, and also herbes de Provence mix. Simple and quick! Serve with rice.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tortilla Black Bean Casserole

This is Mark's favorite casserole:

1 chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
14 oz canned tomatoes
3/4 c salsa
1 T garlic
2 T cumin
2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained
1 c corn or more. The more the better
8 corn tortillas
1.5 c shredded cheese

In a LARGE skillet, over medium heat, combine first 6 ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in beans.
Spread 1/3 of the mix over bottom of 13x9" pan. Top with 1/2 the tortillas, 1/2 c cheese, 1/3 of the mix, remaining tortillas, 1/2 c cheese, last 1/3 of the mix. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in 350 degrees F. Sprinkle remaining cheese and wait for 10 minutes or so before serving.

** I don't follow these directions very closely, that's why I ended up topping it with some more tortillas. There's also tortillas at the bottom! Either way, it's yummy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Match Made in Heaven

Yes - sweet potatoes and leeks! Can anything be better than a combination of these two divine vegetables?

This sweet potato leek gratin was taken from The Vegetarian Times. It's not yet online, so here's what you do:
Slice 1-2 sweet potatoes (2 lb) - 1/8" thick, set aside

In a small non-stick pan over medium-high, heat 1 T olive oil, and saute for about 8 minutes:
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 T chopped rosemary
  • salt and pepper
Layer sweet potato slices alternately with leek mix, so you end up with 3 layers of sweet potato and 2 layers of leeks. Sprinkle 1/3 c vegetable broth. Cover with foil.

Bake in 450 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle a mix of:
  • 3 T breadcrumbs (Italian, or just add some Italian herbs and garlic powder)
  • 1.5 T rosemary
  • 2 T romano or parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1.5 t olive oil
Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more (until breadcrumbs are nice and golden-brown).
Wait a bit before serving (officially 8 servings, but for us it was 4).

The cheese is optional, so it qualifies as vegan. It's delicious, and pretty easy to make -- the hardest thing was to slice the sweet potato :)
So try it!
[Leeks for a reasonable price can be found at Lee Lee's.]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pierogies with Sauteed Onions

We made them a while ago and froze them. The two times we ate them before were served with garlic - butter sauce. It was good, but we wanted to try buttered onions, and it turned out to be good as well! The onions' sweetness came out as they sauteed in the butter, and it was most complimentary to the flavorful pierogies. Yes, they were flavorful! Mark made the dough himself, and filled them with potato-onion filling. Much better than Mrs. T's, if I may say so. No offense.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chestnut Soup

We found some cheap chestnuts at Lee Lee's. They come in a 3 lb bag. I love chestnuts.
But these cheap ones are SO hard to peel...
They make a yummy soup, though!

After peeling a bunch of them, with Mark's help, and getting our thumbs sore as hell, we both enjoyed a delicious and rich soup with some yammy bread.
I didn't follow the recipe exactly, simply because I didn't have all the called-for ingredients, but it was very good nonetheless.
Here are my substitutions:
  • Spanish cooking wine instead of Marsala wine
  • Milk and melted butter instead of cream
  • No mushrooms (though I'm sure they would have added a delicious kick)
So don't get cheap chestnuts from Lee Lee's! Get better (fresher? a different variety?) at Trader Joe's, or better yet - get them already cooked and peeled in a jar! :) Then this recipe could qualify as fairly easy.