Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hmm, what's missing from this post?

An opera cake, that's what's missing!  That was this month's Daring Bakers challenge.  I started the joconde (yes, I learned a new word!) late one night but never finished any of the other elements.  I'm hoping not to slack off for next month's challenge.  In the meantime, if you'd like to see a beautiful example of an opera cake, check out Bittersweet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Paneer, part 2

I did it!  I finally made some good paneer!  I'm quite proud of myself too.  I have been working off of Angela Kasmala's vegan paneer recipe, but substituting whipped silken tofu for the cashew cheese because Nate is allergic to cashews.  Angela's recipe tastes great, but the tofu version is just not the same. It's good, but not great.  Last week I was enlightened with the fact that pine nuts are NOT, in fact, nuts, but rather, seeds from a pine tree.  Nate can eat pine nuts without any problems, so I decided to use them to make a blended cheese.  I used 1 cup of pine nuts, juice from 1/2 lemon, and some sea salt and blended it in my wonderful VitaMix, then added a package of  extra firm tofu and blended it all together.  Then I baked this creamy mixture for about 1/2 hour.  It was delicious!  So we will be having palak paneer for dinner tomorrow night, unless I eat all of the paneer before then...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oprah is going vegan for 21 days!

This is big news.  As we all know, Oprah is very influential.  She is embarking on a 21-day cleanse that will involve a vegan diet.  Read Oprah's blog here.  I'm very happy for her!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

another great cooking class!

Nathan and I had the pleasure of attending another one of Angela Kasmala's cooking classes last night.  The theme for this class was Vegan Backyard BBQ.  The menu included sparkling mint lemonade, tandoori seitan kabobs, "deviled eggs", an icebox salad with vegan ranch dressing, and banana split sundaes.  All delicious!  

The mint lemonade was so refreshing and perfect.  This would be the most wonderful drink on a hot summer day.  Nate commented that it would be even better with a little gin. :)  

It was great to see someone making seitan.  I had been kind of intimidated to try it myself because I had imagined the process to be more involved, but it really wasn't.  Angela formed the seitan, boiled it, then baked it.  The texture was very good, not too mushy or too chewy.

The "deviled eggs" were adorable!  Angela makes them by forming an egg shape with firm tofu and filling it with a mixture of  mashed cannellini beans, mustard, and various spices.  The filling tasted amazingly like an egg yolk.  Nate and I both agreed that the filling would also make a good spread on a cracker or baguette slices.

The evening was sunny and warm so we were able to eat our dinner outside in the "backyard" behind the Lab.  Gregg and Angela share a fire pit and picnic table space with their loft neighbors, and they are hoping to turn some of the space into a garden.  

Angela really is a fantastic teacher and a gifted chef.  As I said in a previous post, if she cooked for everyone, the whole world would be vegan!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cheesecake Pops, Revisited ( or Redeemed by Saint Colleen)

A couple posts ago I documented my first Daring Bakers Challenge, cheesecake pops.   I was not in love with my results and had pretty much decided that, as a new vegan, cheesecake was something that would no longer be a part of my life.

I was wrong!  This revelation came after a little baking accident.  I attempted to make Colleen Patrick Goudreau's Chocolate Cheesecake from The Joy of Vegan Baking, and when my springform pan would not release, I was left with clumps of chocolate cheesecake with burnt edges laying there on a plate...hardly appropriate for bringing to Mother's Day dinner at my Mom's house.  I pouted and threw the clumps in the refrigerator, figuring I would deal with them later.

When we came home that night, I used my ice-cream scooper to scoop little golf ball-sized bites of cheesecake, inserted lollipop sticks, then put them in the freezer for a few hours.  They were delicious!!  I am simply astounded that Colleen Patrick Goudreau could make Tofutti taste good!!  Is there anything this woman can't do?  This is a recipe I will make again, but instead of the springform pan I will use one of my square pans to make scooping easier.  Once again, YAY for Colleen Patrick Goudreau, patron saint of vegan bakers!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I have a VitaMix!!!

I am floored.  Sure I have been talking about these non-stop for a couple weeks since my trusty blender's motor burnt out, but I never thought I would have one of my very own.

Yesterday I was making dinner when I heard Nate come in after work.  I had the refrigerator door open so I peeked out to say hi, grabbed whatever veggies I was looking for and closed the door.  Lo and behold...there on the floor was a large blue fabric bag tied up with a very cute spring green ribbon.  When I opened the bag and saw the VitaMix box, I felt like a kid on Christmas!  He bought us a VitaMix!!!  He said he was going to save it for Mother's Day but he knew I would want it for my daily green smoothies.  (Yesterday's smoothie required the use of two old blenders since neither of them works very well.)

So I fired it up this morning...this thing is amazing!  I could not believe how quickly and efficiently it liquefied my kale and swiss chard.  One of the things that has frustrated me about our other blender is the fact that I have to blend FOREVER to make a  less-than-chewy smoothie.  Not so with the VitaMix!

I read that I can make frozen desserts in this thing, so the boys and I are going to try to make some sort of chocolate, coconut milk-based soft-serve...

I never, in a million years, would have thought I'd be so excited about a blender, but it's a VITAMIX!!!