10 April 2010

Hot and Cold

Two of my favorite foods of all time are chili and ice cream.  As a kid, while some of my friends would refuse to eat something so hot as chili on a warm day, or anything frozen on a chilly evening, I was never bothered enough to let the temperature of my surroundings stand in the way of chili cheese fries or a scoop of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.  Often, bowls of chili and scoops of ice cream somehow went hand-in-hand--perhaps it was opposite elements of hot and cold offsetting each other--although of course, I didn't always require one in order to devour the other.  As you may have guessed, my pre-vegan eating habits were not always very healthy.  Around the time I had first developed interest in veganism, I remember being sure to ask one of my vegan friends whether such as thing as vegan ice cream existed.  He assured me it did, much to my relief.

That chili and ice cream combination (in its vegan form) still works for me.  So I suppose it's no surprise that a recent venture into chili cooking sparked an ice cream craving.  All of this sunshine is a good enough excuse to bring out the ice cream maker, anyway.  But first up was the chili.

I've made chili dozens of times since becoming vegan, never using the same recipe or method twice, primarily because I am always interested in finding different ways of mimicking the "meatiness" of my former non-veg favorites.  This time around, an eight-ounce package of tempeh approaching its "best by" date inspired me to consider tempeh crumbles as a way to achieve that heartiness.  Using leftover pinto beans (already seasoned and deeply savory in their own right), the tempeh, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, chipotles in adobo sauce, tomato paste, various spices, and enough water to thin it out, the dish was done in a snap, and still managed to taste as if it had been simmering on the stove for much longer.  I think this was due in large part to the prepared pinto beans, which had, indeed, simmered for about two hours when I cooked them last week.  A tablespoon or two of cocoa powder added depth to the chili, with smoked paprika and chipotles giving it heat.  And the tempeh worked very well as a meat substitute, adding texture that beans alone could not achieve.  I'll definitely use it in future batches of chili.
When it comes to ice cream making, my greatest challenge is determining which variety to create.  Ready access to Wheeler del Torro's The Vegan Scoop, with its scads of dairy-free ice cream flavor options, does not make narrowing down the possibilities any easier.  Chocolate is always a winner, but I like to branch out once in awhile to try more unique flavors.  Fortunately, the decision-making process was shortened by the presence of roasted and mashed sweet potatoes in my refrigerator.  Leftovers were proving handy that day, putting sweet potato ice cream in my sights.  I followed Wheeler's recipe with the following alterations: I substituted the sugar with a reduced amount of light agave nectar (1/2 cup) and omitted the nutmeg.  Finding the recipe's stated amount of sweet potatoes ambiguous--the recipe gives the amount in terms of numbers of sweet potatoes of unspecified type--I settled upon a cup of cooked, mashed, white-fleshed sweet potatoes.  I followed the procedure for assembling the ice cream as written.  The resulting ice cream was just the creamy, sweet, frozen treat to follow that hot bowl of spicy chili.
I have only tried a few of Wheeler's ice cream recipes, but I'm definitely going to attempt more in the coming months.  Honeydew is of particular interest, but that will have to wait until melons are once again in season.  If any of you are familiar with The Vegan Scoop and would like to suggest a flavor to try, or even just want to share an old favorite, I'd love to hear from you!

6 comments:

  1. Chili and ice cream. Perfect.

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  2. I am an only child and my mother let me eat whatI wanted most of the time and I ate ice cream for breakfast all the time, and I loooved chili! Your chili looks so yummy!!! I wish I had a bowl, right now!!! RIGHT NOW!
    LOL

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  3. Wow, those both look delicious. Now I'm craving chili and ice cream. Yum!

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  4. That's a very delicious looking chili!

    I completely forgot about that ice cream book during winter. I should order it now, I've seen some of the fantastic recipes.

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  5. That's a very delicious looking chili!

    I completely forgot about that ice cream book during winter. I should order it now, I've seen some of the fantastic recipes.

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  6. Wow, those both look delicious. Now I'm craving chili and ice cream. Yum!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)