Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegan Mofo 4: A Trip to Penzeys, or I can stop anytime I want to.

I just really, really don't want to. I thought I had a game plan: I went during lunch, not too much time, and only needed one thing, just one little thing. Once again, the sweet siren's song that is Penzeys has gleefully dashed me upon its delicious shores. In other words:

Damn it, Penzeys, I only needed cinnamon! 
So now that I'm about $50 out of where I meant to be, what can I whip up for a quick, cheap dinner? This may be a deja vu moment, but I'm kind of obsessed with beans and rice. I was a poor college student for the majority of my life. And who am I kidding with the 'was'? Beans and rice have always been at my side, and on my hips, through thick and thin. You can dress them up any way you want to. Any cuisine, at any point; beans and rice. Give it a try some time and see. Now on any given day, you could bust out those Rancho Gordo beauts, soak them overnight, break out that heirloom rice, get a nice glass of Chianti, some candles, set the mood... Me? Nah, I got your can of beans right here, baby. They may even be store brand (I promise they're not)

For the main event? I sniffed my way around the shop today on a leisurely stroll and found this:

It smells like everything I've ever wanted. I just met you, and I love you. Much to the dismay of my Italian mother, I have a deep love of Indian food, and a nasty track record of recreating my favs. This is kind of cheating because I centered everything on this one blend, but I highly recommend it. After all, it's 10:30 pm, and I'm thinking of going down for a second helping, so let's get this started, shall we?

Quick, Dirty, and Inauthentic

1 15 oz can of Dark Red Kidney Beans
Oil for the Saute
1 small Onion chopped
3 cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
Hot Pepper Flakes to taste
1 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds (guess where I got mine)
1 to 2 tsp Rogan Josh Seasoning, or you favorite blend
Fistful of Cilantro
 Brown Rice (Trader Joe's)
Salt to taste

In a saucepan, heat the oil on medium with the mustard seeds, hot pepper flakes, Rogan Josh blend, onion, and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add your beans (you rinsed these, right?) with about half a can of water, add your cilantro, and let bubble 'til the flavors have melded and it's the consistency you want. Now's a good time to taste for seasoning. I'm often heavy handed with spices, so I added more. I may even have thrown some vindaloo spice in there for a little punch, but I'll never tell.
Serve over brown rice! What did that take, like 10 minutes? Yep.

Get yourself an arial view:

 Okay, now a little to the right:


Monday, October 8, 2012

Salted Apple Cider Caramel and a Side of Naan

Two great tastes that um, well, no. You see, we left for Austin on Sunday morning, and I typically make something crazy on Saturday. With no place for whatever I made to go, I scaled it down a bit. While I figured I could get off my lazy arse and attempt a homemade naan to go with what was left of our Sag Paneer, I also wanted to do something in the spirit of the season. I had a jug of apple cider in my fridge, and a pretty constant desire to get this caramel thing down right (previous installments have had near phantom of the opera results)

 The secret to caramel, you see, is to actually leave it the hell alone. Not just say that you're going to, but actually do it. Multi-task, but multi-task in your kitchen so that you can keep an eye on it. For instance....Make some Naan.

Naan for the Lazy - Adapted from Veena Chopra's Indian Vegetarian

2 3/4 cups Flour 
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tblsp Soy Yogurt 
6 Tblsp Coconut Milk (leave room for more)
2 Tblsp Earth Balance
 1 tsp Nigella/Charnushka Seeds (optional)

I picked up the Nigella seeds from, you guessed it, Penzeys. I wouldn't put it past me to name my firstborn, Penzey. We all have our addictions.

When I first had naan with these seeds in it, I thought they were bits of char from the oven. The best way I can describe their taste is: familiar. Try it and see if it doesn't remind you of that implacable something from your childhood. Backyard grills, or blue skies, it haunts me still. Do you have to have these seeds? Of course not. 'Have to' and 'should' are two very different things.

Preheat your oven to 450 ° 
Mix your flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cut the earth balance into the dough until it reaches a small pebbles state. It's best if you use your hands in this one. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in your soy yogurt, seeds if you have them, and coconut milk. Combine everything until it comes together into a ball, try not to over work it. If the 6 tablespoons of coconut milk are not enough, add more by the tablespoon until everything comes together. I'm going to tell you right now, mine was dry, you don't want that. You want a silken, smooth texture. So don't do this when you're distracted about having to be stuck a mile up in the air in a small metal tube for 4 hours, it could mess with your naan mojo. Let the dough rest for a half an hour. 

This dough is dry. Don't let this be your dough. I'm an honest person, I could tell you that this was the greatest thing I ever made. That the resulting naan was so good that I was instantly transported to my favorite Indian restaurant and all my naan related troubles vanished for good, but no. I won't do that to you. I'll give you the nitty gritty and the skinned knees of it all, and give you the tips to make yours work. Hell, I'm not even sure if naan has two 'a's in it, but it does now, baby. It does now.

Divide your silky, smooth dough into 4-6 pieces and arrange them on a parchment lined sturdy baking tray. Brush the top of the naan with lightly water. As you may notice, I did not do that.

 Bake for 10 minutes, or until browned, flip, and brush the top with water. Bake another 10 minutes or until golden. If your naan are smaller, start off with 5 minutes and go from there.

Brush tops with some earth balance, or even coconut oil. Me, I got some nice naan frisbees. You, you will do better. I have faith in you.

 With the kinda bad also comes the good, as it is with so many things. I cheered myself up with some salted apple cider caramel in my latte. When I get home, I may bake it into a pie. Or maybe just sit in the corner cradling the jar murmuring 'preciousssss' Whatever I decide to do with it, it shall be delicious. You know I'm just going to eat it straight up, right? Just so we're clear here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sag Paneer is no longer my Kryptonite

It's one of those occasions, like so many before it, that is just so ridiculous that you can't even explain yourself in hindsight. I loved Sag Paneer. Paneer tastes like tofu. I can make Sag Paneer vegan.
My god. It's full of stars.

 This recipe comes to us from the good ol' Cooking Channel, aka the only reason I have cable, aka the only reason I have -premium- cable. Bal Arneson, The Spice Goddess, did something I found amazing, she added multiple types of greens to the dish. She also omitted the cream, keeping it very simple. Look, it was 6:30, I was starving after a particularly long Friday, I stumbled blindly through the recipe on my phone, I didn't even have fresh ginger, and this was amazing. You have no excuse. 

Sag Paneer - slightly adapted from this

2 Crowns Broccoli, Chopped
2 Cups Spinach, Chopped
Oil for frying 
1 Onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
1 Tblsp fresh ginger, or 1 tsp powdered
1 Tblsp Garam Masala
1 tsp fenugreek (omitted due to hatred)
Chili Flakes to taste
Salt to taste (Obvs)
1 Brick of Tofu, pressed and cubed

The main flavor component here is Garam Masala, do yourself a favor and go to Penzey's, or your local spice market, and pick some up. It will change your life. As for the fenugreek? I'm sure it adds to the backbone of the flavor. I'm sure something about that sourish, bitterish taste, and cloying sticky smell is great, but no thank you. I'm good.

You're going to want to press your tofu. I have a lengthy explanation of how to Here

In the meantime, steam your broccoli crowns and spinach. Don't overdo it! You don't want mush. Well, you will want mush later, but on your own terms. Make sure things stay vibrantly green. If you're super lazy in a devil-may-care sort of way, steam your spinach in the bag it came in. It gave me the willies to microwave in plastic, but it got me to where I needed to be. Cut an 'X' into any stalks that are too thick to steam quickly, or are looking at you funny.

Set the greens aside to cool a bit. In a saucepan, add the chopped onions, garlic, salt, spices, and saute until the onions are translucent and the spices are nice and toasty.  
Take your greens for a whirl in the food processor or blender. If they are still steaming, take the little cap off the top of your device so it can vent, or you will be very sad, and possibly scalded.
I was aiming for a rough chop, but wound up with a pretty fine puree. Do what makes you happy. You could even mash the greens by hand, if you felt the need to vent some aggression in productive manner. Put the resulting mixture in the pan with the garlic, onion, spice mixture, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. 

In a skillet, put enough oil of your choice to coat the bottom, and toss in your tofu cubes. You can brown them, or you could stare at them resentfully for taking so long, and take them out once they're only warmed-through. I won't judge.
Plop these into your sag mixture, be careful not to break up the pieces, I guess. Whatever, I'm going to eat it either way.

Ahem. Serve over rice, or with some homemade Naan-whoarewekidding- rice.

By now, you must know that it's going to be hard to take a pretty picture of this. I wanted to. I tried to. At the end of the day, it's ground up spinach over tofu. It's going to look like something your body rejected after a well spent night at your favorite dive bar.  It's not pretty, but it is delicious. Here's attempt number one:

Hmmm. How about some bamboo? Does that help?

No, no, that might actually make it worse. Well, this one might not make it up on tastespotting, but that's their loss, not yours.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vegan Mofo 2012

I feel as though I flirt with disaster on a daily basis, so much so that we're now on a comfortable, first name basis. Let us not speak of prior attempts, let's maintain a forward looking, sunshine-and-rainbows approach.
Here's a look at what I've been playing with the last few months:

What happens when you take a classic French dessert and twist/bend/mangle it to your will?

Coconut custard-y things! At one point like a marshmallow, and in another turn, a sort of a vanilla-y gum, and after a day in the humidity, maybe best left alone. Perhaps a rationalization to get an acetylene torch. What? It's a great idea!

You'd think I'd leave the French alone after that one, right? Well, the only reason I even ventured into that territory was because the bastardized brioche  was quite tasty:

Turns out all you need to make successful bread is also the same thing you need to cut down your energy bill- a 90 degree kitchen.

Someone gave me a hard time about cake:

but oddly, not about my blatantly mismatching plates.

And finally, I've found the best air freshener in the known universe:

Freshly baked banana bread, warmly spiced and with double chocolate goodness. I slept so contentedly that night. 

Now that October is here, I'm all aflutter with baking plans and plots- that and the $17 of U-Pick apples in my kitchen. Game on.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wherein, we ask: What is a Cobbler, Really?

I tend to call things by all sorts of names, or sometimes just by gesturing and a series of grunts, so I wanted to make sure a cobbler wasn't a crumble wasn't a buckle. Although I am now interested in buckles, I'll have to do some research soon. Tasty research.  So as it turns out, according to Wikipedia, a cobbler is a 'sweet or savory dish covered with a batter, biscuit, or pie crust.' The distinction it holds is that there is no bottom crust. Okay, cool, I can run with that.

Also: Savory? Noted for future trials.

So I have these peaches, and I have some blueberries, and I can't help but notice that my pal Smitten Kitchen has This Recipe in the archives, adapted from Adapted from The Lee Bros.  Simple Fresh Southern. Well, then, shall we dance?

I've made a few alterations of my own on this one, like using polenta instead of cornmeal (but really, it's only the grind that distinguishes the two) so it added a bit of bite to it that I enjoyed. I'd also omit the flour from the fruit filling next time. I found it to be unpleasantly glue-y, so you won't find it here. You're welcome.

Summer Cobbler
 3 Peaches
1 Pint of Blueberries (hey, that's all I had)
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tblsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Dash (1/4 tsp) Cinnamon (I'm heavy handed w/the stuff, and probs used 1/2 tsp. Do as you will)
1/4 tsp Salt
No Darn Flour

Biscuit-y Topping
3/4 cup Flour
1/4 Cup Cornmeal (I used Polenta)
3 Tblsp Brown Sugar
1.5 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3 Tblsp Earth Balance
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk plus Squeeze of Lemon 

Preheat your oven to 425°. Peel your peaches. SK taught the really nifty, "cut an X in the bottom of each peach and blanch it in boiling water for 30 seconds and the skins will pop right off" trick. I used it, it works! Rather than lamenting your manicure (insert stifled laugh here), or endangering your fingers with a peeler, give it a go! You'll never look back. Slice your peaches prettily, unceremoniously dump in your blueberries, then add your sugar, juice, cinnamon, and salt and combine. Gently! You don't want to break up all that perfection! This all goes in your baking dish. I used a 9x9 pyrex because I wanted to cover the hell out of it with the topping. What can I say, I love carbs. I'm a baker. I regret nothing.
Except when it's time to put on my bridesmaid dress again. Then I regret a lot of things.
That said, if you prefer your real estate to consist of more fruit, use a larger dish, or hold off a bit on the topping. Easy there. Easy.

For the biscuit-y topping of toothsome goodness, combine your flour, polenta (cornmeal), brown sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. You want to cut your 3 tablespoons of earth balance into tiny pieces, and you want them cold. I call this the pastry method. Is that what it's called? I don't actually know, but it sounds good to me. I hope you have a pastry cutter, if not, use a couple of butter knives and work the earth balance into the dry mixture. You're looking for a pebbly consistency. Work those little pieces throughout the flour.  Once you've got that set, make a well in the middle of the dry mix and add the coconut milk with lemon. This is going to make a sticky dough, so be ready for that. Mix until just combined and then dot your fruity goodness to your heart's content. Mine never saw the light of day again.

I'm serious about my biscuit topping, okay? Fruit-Schmute. I'm vegan, I get plenty.
That said, I'm on day 3 of cobbler breakfasts.

 Take a piece, sit on your deck, enjoy those last fleeting rays of sunlight, and join me in getting psyched for fall- Woo, Fall!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Madness is Baking in August

I've baking through the entire summer, really. I've been baking for over a decade, but not until this summer A) with such ferocity (Hungryface Bakery) and B) where I've actually owned (read: will own in just under 30 years) the place I live in and therefor am trying to cut down the electric bill. 
Does that stop me? Heck no! Who wants some coffee cake?
While innocently perusing the local WholeFoods, I found some tiny blueberries. Wild blueberries, as it turns out:

 They wanted to be made into something special, and who am I to stand in the way of that? So I turned to this Recipe and once again, I'm veganizing Smitten Kitchen. Now, I've made coffee cake before, but streusel- damn you, streusel - has always eluded me. Not anymore. This recipe calls upon the Streusel Gods with such fervor and intensity so as to never be denied. You too, can make streusel. Let me be the guide.

Wild Blueberry Coffee Cake
(but use whatever fruit you want, I can't tell you how to live your life)

For the Streusel
 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1 heaping tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger 
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 cup melted Coconut Oil
1 and 3/4 cup Flour

For the Cake
1 cup Flour
1 Tblsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Soy Yogurt
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Sugar
3 Tblsp Coconut Oil, semi-solid (ie: it's 80° in your kitchen)
Zest of 1/2 Lemon 

Firstly, streusel is a picky beast, there is a method here to follow. Combine the sugars, salt, and spices and then add the melted coconut oil. Once you have a sweet/spicy mess, add the flour and mix to incorporate. The result should be something very similar to the moon sand of your childhood:

Pack it down and leave it be for now.
On to the cake! Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. In another bowl, whip your sugar, zest, soy yogurt, vanilla, and coconut oil together with a fork until uniformly combined. Add the dry mix to the wet in batches until just combined.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish and add about half of your batter to it, then sprinkle with blueberries. You know what? It doesn't matter how gentle you are, you're going to break some blueberries. There will be blueberry carnage, hell, there was from just washing them, but it's okay. It will be tasty, and in the end, no one will ever know. They were wild blueberries, after all, no one will miss them. I mean...top off with the rest of the batter and add some more!

Now for the streusel. Break up your packed streusel with a fork into somewhat big crumbs. Smitten says approximately 3/4 of an inch at most. Sure. Sounds good. Sprinkle that on top of everything. And by sprinkle, I mean cover it until you ensure it will never see daylight again.

Push the streusel a bit into the batter, then top with some more blueberries and sliced almonds for crunch.
The low baking temperature of this recipe surprised me, but sure enough SK comes through again. Bake at 325° for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly (barring you stabbing some poor berry)

Take it to your friend's house and watch some Food Network because unless you want to gain 30 pounds in one sitting, you're going to need some reinforcements. That said, my calendar's open.

And just take a look at the streusel-y goodness. I don't think I've ever used that word as much as I have in the last 2 days. Streusel.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

That Time I Remembered Not Everyone Loves Coconut

Well, why in the seven hells not? Ah well, leaves more for the rest of us.

Guys, I'm more than kind of rusty. It's been years since I've updated this thing on a regular basis. My shame and my passion are one and the same. I think I've found a way around it though, I promise, baby. I mean it. This time will be different, I swear.

Moving right along. My go-to blog for inspiration these days is Smitten Kitchen She is a passionate lady about all the right things: Food. Her blog touches on all kinds of foods, she's prolific, and she has a cook book coming out! I like to play around with what I can make vegan. Yes, yes I've done this before, and I still make that damn cake. Where ever there are fresh raspberries, from CT to CA, I've made it.  So when I saw this recipe, I thought: let's see what we can do with these babies.

I confess, I stuck close to the original recipe on this go- but my head is buzzing with the promise of all kinds of variations. For once in my life, I went the straightforward and pure route. It hurt.

I hope you appreciate it:

All Kinds of Coconut in this Muffin

1 & 1/4 cup AP flour (I was lazy, you can sub for 3/4 AP & 1/2 whole wheat)
1 Tblsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
 1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil (it needs to be virgin, this is the backbone of your flavor)
1/3 cup Sugar
1 cup Soy Yogurt (she calls for greek, I used Wildwood to no ill effect)
2-4 Tblsp Coconut Milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3/4 cup Coconut Shreds (She uses sweetened, I only had unsweetened so I added 1/4 cup sugar to the shreds)

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and stir to combine. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, coconut shreds, soy yogurt, and (I'm going to say it again) virgin coconut oil. Now, I typically melt the coconut oil before I use it, but I didn't here. You know why? Because I'm baking muffins when it's 90 degrees out, that's why. At these temperatures, the coconut oil is semi-solid, and it works out just fine. Stir all this mess together, and add your vanilla and coconut milk to the mix. This is going to be a thick batter at the end of it all, so if you use 4 tablespoons of coconut milk and you're still thinking it's too thick, just wait a sec.
Add the dry mix in batches to the wet, and stir gently to just combine. If you feel like it's too thick, and a tablespoon at a time of coconut milk- but again, we're going for a thick batter.

Scoop your batter into a lined muffin tin, and sprinkle some more coconut on the top:

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. Once they are done, pop them on the sides so you don't get any soggy bottoms:

 No one likes soggy bottoms. You obviously don't need to over-zealously Pam the hell out of your muffin tin like I did, either.

And here you are: moist, substantial, coconut-y goodness- that you probs don't even have to share thanks to all the weird coconut haters:

I mean, more for me! 

Should I pimp my Etsy on each post? I feel like kind of a cad. That's never stopped me before, so why don't you take a look at Hungryface!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I've come to terms with the fact that baking is my strong suit. Sometimes I can surprise myself with preparing something savory, but for the greater part of things, I'm definitely a sweet tooth through and through. This realization, along with my propensity for coveting those recipes like Gollum covets his ring, has led me to open up Hungryface Bakery on Etsy!

We'd love it if you'd stop by to take a look!