Sunday, April 29, 2007

Just an assortment

EDIT: I've added the Oatmeal Wheat Bread recipe at the bottom of this post, since several of you were interested in it. The original recipe came from Fatfree Vegan, but I adapted it somewhat so I'll just post my version here!

I was trying to think of a title for this post that would tie together all of the food that I have to share... but there is nothing that links it together--it's just a mélange. So I'll just slap on a boring title and go with it!

This is Quinoa Spring Salad from Vive! I did have to make a couple of changes based on what I had available: While I didn't have cucumbers, I did have portabello mushrooms, so I chopped up some of those. Also, I have a very hard time getting my hands on hemp seeds, so instead of those I used some ground pepitas. And because I wanted to make this a "meal" instead of a side dish, I threw in some chickpeas. It was easy and delicious--so light and cool and refreshing (perfect for 85-90 degree weather, as we have been having). When I made it, I made too much quinoa. So the next day I took the leftovers and...

Served it with tempeh "fajita" filling. This was just a quick concoction I made by first marinating the tempeh in lime juice and hot sauce, then sautéing it in a bit of olive oil with red peppers and onions. At the end I took it off the heat and added about 1/2 cup of salsa. This would have made great fajitas, but it was awesome over the quinoa as well.

Organic red bell peppers have been on sale for $2.99 a pound at the local health food store, so you will continue to see quite a few foods here that incorporate these lovely veggies.

I went to my best friend's wedding shower on Friday night, and when I found out just a couple of hours before the party that NONE of the food was vegan except for the fresh fruit, I decided to whip up something to take along. This particular something I have been eyeing for so long, and just waiting for an excuse to make it.

Dreena's Creamy Cashew Dip, which will be included in her upcoming cookbook Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I was so excited that she decided to let us have a sneak preview with this recipe. It's just amazing... The cashew butter makes it so rich and creamy, though I am sure almond butter would be equally delicious in this recipe. This dip went really fast at the shower, and I was thankful that I had made some extra to leave at home. Hee hee. The next morning I saw all the leftover dip that we had, and...

I knew I had to put it in crêpes! I used to make crêpes very often, but I haven't done so since becoming vegan, and I was a bit worried that I may have lost my knack for it--if you have made them before, you know they can be tricky until you get the technique down. But I did fine--no broken crêpes here... I used this recipe. Notice how it says on the recipe, though, that it is crucial to use the proper flours or the crêpes would fall apart. I didn't have bread flour, so as a safeguard I added one Ener-G egg to the batter. Perfect! And the cashew dip with bananas and strawberries stuffed inside was just heaven. Sometime, maybe I'll try them with some of this stuff, if I'm lucky...

Crêpes are one aspect of French cuisine that have really stuck with me ever since my time in France. Street vendors would sell them, stuffed with various sorts of goodness, like you would see Italian ice vendors around here. Something else that I took note of when I was in Paris and have embraced since then is salad art. I love the way they arrange their salad elements, in patterns with all kinds of colors and textures to contrast one another. For a long time when I came back, I had to make my salads look just perfect... and even now, I love to spend time arranging my veggies when I have some interesting ones to play with.

This is not the most aesthetic salad I have ever made, but it was light and delicious, and attractive enough for a quick dinner for one. Chickpeas, sliced red peppers, pepitas, and sliced scallions all found their way onto a bed of fresh spinach. I toasted my pepitas before adding them, and I liked the way they puffed up a little. I dressed this salad with a drizzle of the Ginger Dipping Sauce from Vive! for a nice Asian flair.

Speaking of Asian flair, Jess posted this amazing recipe for Peanut Coconut Grilled Tofu a few days ago, and as soon as I saw it I knew I would inevitably have to try it. I made the sauce last night and let the tofu marinate in it all night, then took it out and grilled it for lunch today. Decadent and delicious! I try to steer clear of cooking with coconut milk most of the time because it's usually a little too rich for me. But this was worth breaking the rules for!

Alongside this tofu I served a green salad much like the above one, dressed with the ginger sauce, and, in keeping with the Asian flair, mashed wasabi lima beans thanks to an inspiration from Melody. I was too lazy to purée these because I didn't want to wash out the food processor, so I just used a potato masher and a whole lot of elbow grease. They didn't get as smooth as they would have in the processor, but the lumps didn't bother me at all. I added just a splash of coconut milk to help thin them out, and then just started adding wasabi powder a little at a time and tasting until I had it just right. Such a good idea, Melody!

Finally, just a plain old loaf of oatmeal wheat bread. It turned out particularly lovely, though, and I thought it merited a photo shoot.

Till we meet again... Adieu!


Oatmeal Wheat Bread (adapted from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

Mix the above in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or so, until foamy. In another bowl mix:

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 tablespoons wheat germ (I sometimes add this and sometimes I don't)
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten*
2/3 cups unbleached white flour

Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture in. Work it together into a ball, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 15 minutes or so, until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic. While you knead, it can require adding a good bit more flour--just add flour until the dough is no longer excessively sticky. Place in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm place and let rise for an hour or so, until about doubled in size.

Punch the dough down well to get all the air out of it, then knead it once or twice and let rest for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 and oil a loaf pan. Once the dough has rested, form into a nice loaf shape and place into the prepared pan. Place on stovetop and let rise for another 10 minutes or so. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden and hollow-sounding on top. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.

* The vital wheat gluten is a tip I got from Melody, and it makes the bread stronger so that it slices better for sandwiches. If you prefer, just leave it out and add an extra 1/4 cup of flour.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

100 posts! (Read 'til the end...)

UPDATE: Congratulations to Courtney, who correctly answered the music trivia question. Those lyrics are taken from the song "Sally MacLennane" by the Irish rock/folk band, The Pogues. They're one of my favorites... Courtney, just e-mail me at in the next few days, so that I can get your mailing address and send you the cookbook!

This is my 100th post here at Eden in the Kitchen, and I want to thank all of you for making this blog so much fun for me. I really treasure the support and friendship that I have with all of you, which have been so valuable to my journey as a vegan thus far. In fact, I became vegan on the same day that I started this blog--July 29, 2006--so some of you have been with me since the beginning of my journey. And that's pretty cool.

I have certainly come a long way since my first food post--my cooking skills, my knowledge of myriad cuisines and spices and flavors that I never explored, and even my photography skills have expanded so much since I started this journey. If you like, look back with me to my top five favorite posts of my first 100!

1. Pumpkin Brunch
2. Hummus Party
3. My First Vegan Thanksgiving
4. My Deviant tART
5. Random Huge Food Post (because I'm usually happiest when I'm cooking up something new...)

::Sigh:: Oh, the memories...

Now, I have a special GIVEAWAY for you! But first, an explanation.

You have heard me talk about this book plenty of times before. The Grit is a classic Athens vegetarian restaurant, widely celebrated by Athens natives and by followers of the indie music scene (of which Athens is a Mecca of sorts). This cookbook, despite being vegetarian rather than vegan, is one of my favorites because of my many lovely experiences at the restaurant. Besides, many (though not all) of the recipes are easily veganized, and some of my very favorites are vegan in the first place. Like the black bean chili. Or the nutritional yeast gravy. Or the sweet and sour tofu stir-fry.

Three years ago I received a copy of this cookbook for my birthday, when I turned 20. Just this past November, a new edition of the book came out in celebration of the restaurant's 20th anniversary--and the new edition contains 20 new recipes. So this year for my birthday, I received a copy of the new edition. So I would like to give my old, well-broken-in (though still in fine condition) copy to one of you--and I will give you copies of the new recipes, so that you are not missing out on anything!

In celebration of The Grit's long-standing history in the Athens music culture, this is a music trivia question. The first person to leave me a comment correctly identifying the artist and song title of the following lyrics wins! And if no one gets it right, then I will draw a random winner on Monday night out of everyone who ventured a guess. Honor system--no Google searching, please! Here goes:

I heard them say that Jimmy's making money far away
And some people left for heaven without warning

That's it! Good luck! I'll be back with a new food post soon, but for now, I just wanted to thank you for celebrating 100 posts with me, as this is a vey special milestone in my vegan journey. Peace out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I just can't quit!

Hi, my name is Laura and I am a cook-aholic. Every day I tell myself, Today I will take a break and focus on... But as I sit down with my risk management binder open, as I try to force into my head the formulas for calculating life insurance premiums, thoughts of cookies and curries and elegant, leafy salads start creeping into my mind... and I give in. Yes, this is my last week of school for the rest of my life. So why can I not just put my cooking addiction aside, just for a few more days, knowing that I can indulge myself soon?


In my last post I said I could eat TLTs (or TSTs) all day long. So I decided to try a new spin on it:

TST salad. This salad includes locally grown spinach leaves and tomatoes, a healthy dose of tempeh bacon, about 1/4 of an avocado, and it's topped with a drizzle of an herbed vinaigrette that I made from The Grit Cookbook. It was perfect...

Indian spices are so beautiful and earthy. This is a spice blend for...

Red lentil dahl, courtesy of New Heritage Cooking. I really loved this recipe... It was more flavorful than any dahl I have ever had before. I love the Indian practice of tempering the spices in hot oil to bring out the aromas.

I served it with my inexperienced interpretation of saag. I have never made it before and could not find a suitable recipe in the time I had to make it, so I winged it. I used mustard seeds, curry powder, turmeric, and about 3/4 of a jalapeño (the only hot pepper I could get my hands on), sliced in large chunks. After I tempered these for just a minute, I added some salt and a bag of frozen spinach. Believe me, I wanted to use fresh--but the spinach fates were unkind to me today at the grocery store. Anyway, I cooked this all until the spinach was no longer watery and it had soaked up the flavors nicely, and I took it off the heat and sprinkled some shredded coconut on top. The flavors in this weren't very strong--next time I will use more. It was delicious, though, if not a whole lot like saag I have had before. If anyone has any tips on making saag that they would like to share, I would take them to heart!

We also made some roti, which we have done before.

Bob wanted to make something special for his Bible study group tonight, so he and I together picked out the Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from VWaV, which we have never tried before.

Aren't they precious? I haven't actually tasted one (and I really shouldn't!) but they smell good. They're very soft and tender--and it's no wonder, because they are a very oily, fatty cookie. The recipe uses peanut oil--a neat touch. So help me, I have to stay out of these! Just a taste...

So, maybe I will get the ball rolling and be able to focus on school for just these last couple of days. Then I have more CPA exam madness to look forward to, but at least I won't be trying to keep up with classes at the same time. At any rate, you will hear from me again soon! Peace, mes amis.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Odds and ends

We've had some random food around the house these days, and I have been trying to come up with creative and new ways to use it all up.

For this one, I used an idea that I stole from DGMGV and her pizza toasts. We had leftover lentil pasta sauce, so I spread it on slices of bread and topped with some FYH mozzarella, and broiled it until the cheese got brown and bubbly. What a fun way to use up leftover marinara sauce!

Here we have a wrap that uses up some of the leftover southwest-style hummus... I added half an avocado, some sprouts and some spinach, and tomato slices, and then a dash of hot sauce and lime juice. Yum. The other hummuses are almost gone--I have had several meals that consisted of hummus and veggies and baked tortilla chips. Incidentally, everyone who tasted them thought that the garden hummus was the best after a day of hanging out in the fridge...

Speaking of avocados, we have several that we have been frantically trying to use up. Breakfast one morning consisted of a TLT sandwich with avocado slices... except that I always use spinach, not lettuce, so this is really a TST I guess. The tempeh bacon recipe comes from VWaV. This also helped use up one of our three blocks of tempeh! I could eat TSTs all day long--I absolutely love them. What really makes them good is when the tomatoes are "real" local tomatoes, not the spongy off-season ones that I all but refuse to buy.

Here, I tried making Jess's lightened-up New Farm mac & cheez, using some of my Eden Organics whole kamut elbows. What did I think? It was good... maybe a little bland for my tastes. I cut back a little bit on the salt in the recipe, but I guess I should not have done that. Next time I won't. I also added some mustard to give it a little tang, and I thought that was a good addition. I might add just a bit more next time.


I took this cue from DGMGV as well, and made the Revolutionary Spanish Omelet from VWaV. I halved the recipe because my cast-iron pan is small, and I only had half an onion anyway. It looked really pretty when it was in the pan...

But the bottom tore out when I tried to turn it onto a plate. I kind of touched it up for the picture, but you still can tell that it didn't exactly come out in one piece.

I served it with some garlicky kale, and an herbed ketchup sauce in lieu of the roasted red pepper-almond sauce that Isa provides. It was pretty good, but it wasn't as spectacular as I thought it might be. I think it had too many potatoes in it--next time I will cut back on them so that I can actually taste some of its other elements. I will make it again, though--it was not nearly as intensive as I thought it was going to be.

Have you seen Stranger Than Fiction? Bob and I watched it last night, and it was a cute movie. Will Ferrell plays an IRS agent, and he audits Maggie Gyllenhaal, who owns her own bakery. There was one scene in the movie where she baked cookies for Will Ferrell, and he was eating them hot out of the oven. That drove me crazy--as soon as the movie was over, I was in the kitchen baking cookies!

I tried Dreena's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from TEV... wow. Even as someone who doesn't usually go for oatmeal raisin cookies, I am telling you that these are amazing and that you should go make them. If you need any more impetus, watch the movie first--then you'll want cookies, I promise.

The movie also reaffirmed that I have got to have my own bakery/cafe some day. It makes me so happy to bake for people or to cook them breakfast or to make them lattes... It was funny, watching the movie I felt like I was faced with two sides of me--the boring tax accountant side, and the spunky baker/fighter for social justice side. And it wasn't hard for me to decide which one I want the "real" me to be...

I've got something fun planned, probably for this weekend or so. But I can't tell you about it until then! Stay tuned! Happy Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yeah, been at it again

This ballooned into something much bigger than we had planned--but when you put three overworked accountants into a room together, this is the kind of madness that ensues. As soon as someone mentioned that they had been itching to learn how to make hummus, it was settled--time for a hummus party.

We made four different varieties (recipes at the end of the post):

We served the hummus with cucumbers, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, and toasted pita wedges. But that's not all, no, that's not all...

Roasted asparagus:

And, for dessert, strawberries in balsamic vinegar (as I saw on Scottish Vegan's blog a while back and have been thinking about ever since):

How I wished we had some fresh mint or basil leaves as a garnish... but all we had was cilantro. With strawberries? Not so much.

The whole, elaborate, elegant spread:

It was a night of delicious vegan food, of creativity and experimentation, and of good fun with good friends. Just the way I like it!

By the way, the all the different varieties of hummus were very good and very distinct. The southwest-style hummus was definitely non-traditional, but it was unique and still very nice. I would make any of these again, in an instant. Each of these recipes represents half a "regular" batch of hummus; if you choose to make just one, I suggest doubling the recipe. Just toss all your ingredients in the food processor and go to town, adding liquid as needed to get a smooth consistency.

Basic Lemon-Garlic Hummus

1 cup chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon water

Garden Hummus

1 cup chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
1 large green onion (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 pieces sun-dried tomatoes (from a jar, packed in oil)
1 clove garlic
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 cup chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 red pepper (roasted for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, cooled, and peel removed)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon water

Southwest-Style Hummus

1 cup chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon chipotle paste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 jalapeño pepper, or to taste
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1-2 tablespoons water

Balsamic-Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, stems trimmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Black pepper

Place vinegar and oil in roasting pan. Add asparagus and toss to coat. Sprinkle asparagus with seasonings and spread out into a single layer in the pan. Roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, until tender.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Something old, something new...

EDIT: Yay, my pictures are working! :D

As I was going through the recipes I have posted to this blog, I found this recipe that I completely forgot about. I know it's not exactly the time of year for pumpkin, but I had a can of it in the pantry, along with some dried cranberries that I thought would just be very tasty in these little bites. So I decided to do this recipe again, this time using whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour, and adding in the cranberries. This time around, I also added a dab of molasses, which really helped to add a hint of depth to the flavor. These "cookies" are soft, not overly sweet, and fat free, and I enjoy them for breakfast.

I have updated the original recipe to reflect my modifications this time around...

That was the "old" part. For the "new" part, I got inspired by DGMGV's devilish dessert that she recently blogged. The recipe is from La Dolce Vegan! and consists of bananas, peanut butter, chocolate, and phyllo dough. But I made it my own by leaving out the chocolate (I didn't want to be TOO naughty) and instead adding a healthy dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Oh, yum. Hot out of the oven, this banana strudel was so gooey and just tasted devilish! Whoever put bananas and peanut together for the first time is one of my heroes...

One of my friends has been in town this week, and we went to lunch today at her old favorite Athens eatery--a diner called Clocked.

It has a very eclectic feel. The bases of the light fixtures are actual records--and each light is unique. This place serves your typical diner fare, but most everything can be turned vegan. We started with an appetizer of hummus and pita chips.

The pita chips were deep-fried, unfortunately. The hummus was delicious, though, and different from your standard hummus.

I ordered a cheeze sub, which consisted of vegan cheeze slices (cheddar and Swiss style) melted over a pile of sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms. The sandwich was spread with a nice jalapeño-basil sauce, which gave it a good kick. A very flavorful sammy, though one that I certainly would not care to eat every day!

Thanks for your comments about my new layout. I've been wanting to give this place a facelift for quite some time now, and I finally had the time and creative energy to do it. It makes the whole site feel all new and fresh to me, and I like it!

Peace, friends.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Baba ganoush, and "refried" lentil tostadas

I love a good baba ganoush--not as much as I love hummus, but hummus sometimes gets boring and I want a bit of a change, and baba fits the bill. I had never made baba ganoush, however, because I don't typically keep eggplants on hand, and I never think "Hmm, baba ganoush would be great" when I am planning a shopping trip. Today, though, I did happen to have an eggplant on hand, and I remembered that Susan V recently shared her baba ganoush recipe. You know what this leads up to.

I tweaked her recipe in a couple of ways: First, I was afraid of all that lemon juice, so I cut back to 2 tablespoons. Second, I tasted it and thought it needed a kick, so I added about 1/2 teaspoon cumin to the food processor instead of saving it to sprinkle on top. I garnished it with a dash of paprika instead, and enjoyed it with slices of carrot, Roma tomato, and portobello, and a little heap of sprouts. I very much enjoyed this light dinner, and I shall put it on my "will make again" list!

This I will also make again--it was simply delicious. I wanted a quick taco filling that was legume-based instead of soy-based, and I didn't have any cooked beans on hand. Nothing cooks up faster than red lentils, so I ran with this idea.

"Refried" Red Lentil Taco Filling

1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red lentils
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chipotle paste
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional--I may or may not use it next time)
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed

Sauté the onion in a pan until beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes more. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable broth, then add the lentils and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes until lentils are done and the liquid is completely absorbed. Stir often to prevent sticking and add water, as needed, throughout the cooking process. It should be very thick like the consistency of refried beans. If you prefer, you can mash up the lentils a bit, but I didn't bother. This makes 2 large servings, or 3 more moderate servings.

I toasted up some whole wheat tortillas in the oven, just as Vivacious Vegan does (although check on them before 8 minutes--mine only took about 7). Then I assembled the tostadas beginning with a scoop of the lentils, then topping that with a generous squeeze of lime juice, a dollop of homemade guacamole, some shredded spinach and chopped tomato, a spoonful of salsa, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Taco salad goodness.

How I love the toasty tortillas! I may never eat a regular burrito again.

If you take a peek over at my sidebar, you will notice that I have gone back and tagged all the recipes that I have posted on this blog, labeling them by type. All the recipes I have labeled have been either created by me, or modified by me in some way (while, of course, giving credit where credit is due)--I have not tagged the recipes that I have reposted straight from another site. There are still more recipes hidden in my blog in "paragraph" form, which I have to hunt down and tag and re-write in "recipe" form. Time for this Eden kitchen to get a bit more organized! I hope this helps you--I know it will help me, at least.

All you bloggers residing up in the Northeast states--stay warm! Spring is a' coming!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

An un-disaster, among other things

I'll save the nearly averted disaster until last. In the meantime, here are some good eats.

Have you ever tried popped amaranth? I got this idea from The Splendid Grain, and now I am completely taken by it. All you do is heat a deep pot over medium-high heat and then add 1/4 cup of amaranth, and stir and toss it constantly until most of the grains are popped. It only takes about 3 or 4 minutes.

EDIT: Careful; there is a fine line between popping and burning! I have learned this during repeat attempts... So watch your heat and keep those little grains moving!

It makes a great cold cereal, with 1/2 cup of soy milk, some sliced fruit, and some maple syrup. I even sprinkled in some ground ginger for a little kick. It's very crunchy and nutty and toasty, and quick enough for a school day. Plus, amaranth is higher than other grains in iron and calcium, which makes it a good nutritious choice.

We made a huge trip to Trader Joe's yesterday. Since we have to go all the way to Atlanta, when we do go we try to stock up on things. We came home with four big canvas bags full of groceries, and now it is spilling out of our cabinets and pantry... so perhaps, with the exception of fresh produce, we can get away with little or no grocery shopping for the next few weeks. Anyway, I picked up several packages of gnocchi, one of my new favorite foods.

My friend Abby turned 22 this past week, and last night she and our other good friend came over to celebrate with dinner and a movie. The movie, incidentally, was Dead Poets Society, one of my all-time favorites. Some times it's just good to bawl your eyes out in the company of your closest friends, you know?

Dinner, on the other hand, was nothing to cry about. We tried, for the first time, Dreena's Tomato-Lentil Pasta Sauce from Vive! and it was just delicious. I love the idea of adding lentils to plain marinara sauce, to increase the nutritional value of a pasta dish. We left the capers out of the sauce--I realized we didn't have any, and then one of my friends admitted that she doesn't really like capers. Next time I'm interested in adding them because they would really go well in this sauce. But dinner did not fail to make anyone happy!

What did we serve the sauce with? Gnocchi, of course.

Now for the disaster. We tried to make a birthday cake for Abby--and I say tried, because it really wasn't a day for cake-baking. I don't know if it was the humidity from the thunderstorms that we were having, or the heat, or my ignorance about converting cupcakes to 8-inch round cakes... But what was supposed to be a double-layer chocolate cake (by doubling the Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe from VCTOTW) ended up being one intact cake and one chocolate crumbly mountain. On top of that, the Coffee Buttercream Icing didn't ever set and become light and fluffy--just moist and grainy and melty. I know I've made vegan buttercream before--I am not sure what went wrong there. How did we save the day?

One single-layer cake, which I tried to decorate with my piping tools but the icing wouldn't hold any kind of form. It was still cute, though. The dark chocolate-covered espresso beans made a really nice touch.

And, with the crumbly layer, mini cake bowls! The bottom layer is a pile of cake crumbs, topped with a nice circle of frosting, then topped with a circle cut out of the part of the cake that didn't fall to pieces. Little dollops of frosting on top, and a chocolate espresso bean in the center. Cute, eh? It's important to make even disasters into something good, when you can. Aside from the appearance, the cake was delicious, especially with a little scoop of So Delicious vanilla ice cream!

So tell me, how do you convert cupcakes to an 8-inch cake? I think we opened and closed the oven so many times to check the cakes for doneness that it messed up the temperature. Hmm... and as for the frosting, I am just going to call that one a fluke.

I'm playing around with my layout--it's time for a bit of a change, I think. I may change it ten more times before I come up with exactly what I'm looking for--just to warn you!

Until next time... peace.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Trendy seitan and trying something new

I have a few things to show you today, and there is more to come!

There has been some kind of baked seitan explosion going on recently among veg bloggers, and to contribute to the trend I made the Seitan O'Greatness that Vivacious Vegan, Kris, and others have recommended.

Bob and I both agreed--this is very good. We are not people who have gotten very interested in meat-like substitutes, and it's a little bit strange to me that I have taken to seitan so well because it is, for sure, more meat-like than any other vegan protein out there. But I have gotten over that icky feeling and come to appreciate seitan in its own right--and it's definitely got unique properties!

Seitan sandwich with spinach and dijon mustard, mmm.

Last night I had a friend over for dinner, and I was having an itch to try something I'd never had before. Usually when I am cooking for others I do not experiment on them, but she's an adventurous gal and I knew she wouldn't mind. Plus, I've never missed with Dreena's recipes!

These are the Pumpkin Seed-Coated Lentil Patties from Vive Le Vegan! and the Ginger Dipping Sauce that Dreena recommends to pair with them. Oh yes--Dreena, you did it again! They have a mild curry flavor and a soft texture, matched perfectly with a crunchy coating. And the sweet-hot tangy flavor of the sauce really brings it together. If you make these, I highly suggest you make the ginger sauce with them. They were also low-fuss, which is always a bonus.

The side dish you see is something that I have made several times in the past, from a French cookbook that I pull down from time to time for some inspiration. It's very simple.

French-Style Cabbage and Peas

1 teaspoon margarine or oil
1 white onion, diced
1 small head of cabbage, sliced into long, thin ribbons
3 1/2 cups frozen (or fresh) peas
3 tablespoons water
Freshly ground black pepper

Sauté onion in a large pot or pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until it is soft. Layer the cabbage strips on top of the sautéed onion, and add the peas on top of the cabbage. Add the water, cover, and let steam until the peas are done and the cabbage is nicely wilted. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

It is delicious and very plain, so that it pairs well with any flavor you can imagine.

Final note: Congratulations to all of you Blogger's Choice nominees! You all have some fabulous blogs out there... I have to confess that I have not voted, though--you see, I feel like every one of the blogs I read deserves to win. You all inspire me every day, and I know all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into food blogging. Well, maybe it's not that intense. But you get my point--you are all beautiful people with beautiful blogs, and as far as this blogger is concerned, I choose all of you!

Peace, and fabulous weekend to all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cooking again!

Thanks for all your sweet comments! I took part of the CPA exam this morning, and I have never been more relieved that an exam was over. How did I do? Ehh... I'm not going to speculate, I will just wait and see. In the meantime, I am just thrilled that I have some time to cook again. So though I don't have a whole lot to show right now, I will be in the kitchen plenty in the next few days--you'll see.

I tried this tempeh recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen, and let me tell you, it was out of this world. Seriously. I found that the marinade was only enough to really coat half a block of tempeh, so I doubled the marinade recipe, adding about two teaspoons of siracha sauce to the marinade to give it a little something extra. It was a perfect addition. I also let the tempeh marinate overnight. This is one of my new favorite quick-cooking meals--definitely eat it on a wrap with sprouts and dijon mustard. Mmmm....

Bob and I have turned out some pretty awkward-looking loaves of bread in our day, but this one takes the cake:

It's good, though--we took one of our standard bread recipes and used 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten, per a suggestion by Melody, in place of some of the flour. It made the dough a little more difficult to work with (hence the lopsidedness of the finished product), but with a bit of practice I think we can figure it out. Using the wheat gluten seemed to give the bread a nice, sturdy texture that we really like.

The following photos are from Bluebird Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant here in Athens that we have visited a few times. The menu is rather small and only about half the items are vegan, so we don't really go that often. But we ended up there for lunch yesterday--there is a story behind this--and there you go.

I ordered the hummus plate, which was actually quite delicious--though I thought they kind of skimped on the veggies. It came with pita wedges too, though.

Bob ordered a veggie plate with an Indian sweet potato curry over basmati rice, some tasty collard greens, and some sautéed tofu coated in nutritional yeast. Overall, it was a fair lunch but not exciting enough to tempt us back.

So how did we end up at Bluebird for lunch yesterday? Well... we heard over the weekend that our beloved Indian restaurant, Bombay Cafe, would be closing soon. We were so sad, but we decided we wanted to go one last time as a farewell. This was easily the most vegan-friendly restaurant in town, and we are both crazy over Indian food anyway. Well, when we showed up at their door yesterday for lunch, our hearts sank when we found out that Bombay is already closed--I guess "soon" meant much sooner than we had imagined. Sigh... we have had such good experiences there, and we will miss the place dearly. It seems that they were not able to compete with the other restaurants in town anymore.

Since we had gotten ourselves so worked up over Indian cuisine only to be let down, we decided to make up for it tonight by making aloo gobi matar. We referred to the recipe in LDV as well as to prior experience, and what resulted was near perfection (well, at least as far as food goes).

It's really not hard to make at all, and homemade roti is not too tricky either. I was scared for quite a while to try cooking Indian food on my own; now I'm very glad I got over that.

Dear friends, I promise to catch up with all your blogs soon! I had to stop looking at them because it was driving me crazy to look and not comment... so I have quite a pile of posts to go through! And I cannot wait!

Until next time...