31 October 2012

VMF 6-31: One mo MoFo

Happy Halloween, all! I suppose I should have saved yesterday's candy/cookie post for today, but it just didn't work out that way. Blogging for Vegan MoFo for the fourth consecutive year at 31-straight posts each time has been somewhat of a challenge, with myriad distractions causing sometimes lackluster participation on my part. But I've had fun and enjoyed reading so much of what other bloggers have shared for the event.

On that note, I leave you, perhaps befittingly, with a final comfort food meal that may not be much to look at, but is really quite delicious and hearty: Two-Bean Meatless Meatloaf with Golden Gravy. Inspired by a delightful dish I'd tried over the weekend, I couldn't resist attempting something similar. In lieu of tempeh, I went for this two-bean loaf--a fine substitute (although I'd love to try a tempeh version in the future). The gravy had a nutty, almost "cheesy" quality and replaced the glaze entirely, as I'm not keen on sweet, ketchup-based sauces. In a final act of making the most of what was on hand, I served the hearty, savory loaf with a leftover roasted sweet potato that I mashed with a bit of almond milk and roasted garlic. As much as I love regular potatoes, the combination of savory and sweet with the sweet potato mash was perfect and rounded out the meal in rib-sticking style.

30 October 2012

VMF 6-30: Candy fail, cookie success

The caramels looked promising, although the deep color of the molten sugar and brown rice syrup made me wonder whether they had cooked too long. No matter, as I'd followed the directions as closely as possible, cooking the sugars to what seemed a high temperature of 155C (310F). Despite having made candy before--including caramels, although not the same recipe--I wasn't about to pretend I was some sort of expert on the subject. But I trusted that the thermometer was accurate and I could follow a few, simple steps.

Perhaps I should have erred on the side of caution, because the caramels turned out not "slightly firm," but almost brittle-like; indeed, they must have heated to too high a temperature, beyond the chewy caramel stage, encroaching on teeth-breaking territory. That, in turn, ruined any chance of a successful outcome for homemade turtles (a confection composed of chocolate, toasted pecans, and caramel); no one wants to bite into chocolate only to discover that what was supposed to be a melt-in-your-mouth caramel was instead a rock-hard block of sugar.
Considering the epic failure of the candy-making venture, I persisted in salvaging what I could of the mess. (That's too much candy and chocolate for me to comfortably let go to waste.) Because I seem to be on a baking binge lately, particularly when it comes to cookies, I turned my attention toward that familiar route. Failed turtles had a date with a sharp knife, resulting in nutty candy bits fated as chocolate chip replacements in a batch of turtle cookies. I did, of course, add mini chocolate chips to the dough, just for good measure.
When all was said and done, the cookies baked up well enough: doughy, chocolaty, gooey blobs, with no trace of the mistakes they were meant to remedy. Instead of too-hard sugar, softened pockets of chewy caramel dot the cookies. The high proportion of chocolate makes the cookies quite messy, but at least they won't break any teeth.
Cookies, by the way, are especially delicious with a hot cup of black tea or coffee.

29 October 2012

VMF 6-29: Toasty

Avocado toast is not something I ever thought to eat, despite growing up eating copious amounts of bread (toast included) and living in the land of avocados (i.e., California). Until a few years ago, the only way I would eat avocados was in the form of avocado con hielo, a Filipino dessert consisting of avocado, milk, and brown sugar. The thought of savory avocado was simply unappealing, although my relatively newfound love of guacamole shows a change of opinion.

My mom makes a good batch of guacamole and I was fortunate enough to snag a bit for guacamole toast. Using guacamole instead of plain avocado, as well as a thick slice of sourdough walnut bread, make for a hearty, flavorful snack.

26 October 2012

VMF 6-26: Survey Time (Again)

I've completed and posted some sort of vegan survey each time I have participated in Vegan MoFo, but it's always interesting to revisit the questions. This is most likely a survey I've already completed, but each year brings change and new perspectives, so surely there is no harm in going at it again.

I found these survey questions at Little Clover Salad; the answers are my own (obviously).

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
unsweetened almond milk for cereal and standard baking, coconut milk for richer baked goods and homemade ice cream
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
roasted seaweed snacks
sourdough pizza crust
beer floats (not cooked and made vegan, of course)

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
just salt, sometimes a bit of nutritional yeast and/or roasted seaweed

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
It's a tie between using macadamia nut "cheese" for lasagne (flavor was overwhelming) and canned mock duck in stir-fried noodles (disgustingly rubbery texture).

5. Favorite pickled item?
Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrot

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Online recipes are bookmarked in folders, but my own are haphazardly scribbled on loose paper, if written down at all. At best, they're typed into a Google document as I'm cooking.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
compost and recycle when applicable, with trash only when necessary, and garbage disposal when small plant material falls into the sink

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
rice, lentils, dinosaur kale

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
baking and decorating sugar cookies with my mom and older sister during the holiday season

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
coconut milk-based ice cream, homemade or store-bought (particularly Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss)
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
red pepper flakes

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Venturesome Vegetarian by J.M. Hirsch and Michelle Hirsch

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
blackberry jam

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
some type of rustic bread
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
I like them all and probably eat tofu the most frequently, but I do really enjoy tempeh.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
any time of day, any meal, as long as I have control of the kitchen and whatever I'm cooking :)

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
boxes of cereal, containers of dried beans and lentils, empty drink pitchers and food containers, liquor

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
sliced brown rice cakes, peeled ginger, blueberries

20. What's on your grocery list?
arrowroot powder, active dry yeast, cumin seeds

21. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
marshmallows / marshmallow fluff

22. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Vegansaurus! (not all about the food, but definitely list-worthy)
seitan is my motor
it will stop raining*

23. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
72% cocoa Trader Joe's Pound Plus bars

24. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
It's been awhile since I've purchased anything I'd consider "extravagant," but I suppose bottled kombucha could count as something I purchase only on occasion.

25. What did you eat today?

Peanut Butter Banana Cinnamon Roll; roasted, peeled chestnuts; leftover dal and tofu saag over brown rice; wee slice of homemade apple pie

25 October 2012

VMF 6-25: PB + Banana

I'm suddenly a little fixated on baking cinnamon rolls, or something like them. The latest attempt involved overripe bananas (a seemingly never-ending, albeit minor and silly source of frustration) and peanut butter, the result of which is aptly named Peanut Butter Banana Cinnamon Rolls. I adapted yet another online recipe--I say this because I see my two-dozen cookbooks glaring at me, bitter from my relative inattention in their regard--using vegan counterparts to the non-vegan items listed.
These are probably the richest cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. They are delicious, after all--rich and nutty, featuring soft, banana-flavored bread oozing with the salty-sweetness of its roasted peanut butter filling. It's definitely something to eat in moderation.

24 October 2012

VMF 6-24: No lack of carbs

Yesterday's cookery-related happenings involved baking giant cookies (inspired by/liberally adapted from this recipe) to kick off the day. (Breakfast, lunch, and snacking were nothing to speak of--primarily random leftovers and handfuls of roasted, peeled chestnuts that I can't seem to stop eating.)
Much later, a last-minute-decision dinner consisted of whole wheat pasta with dark red kidney beans, cauliflower, kale, scallions, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil, and the tiniest pinch of nutmeg. A little bit of salty pasta water made somewhat of a temporary sauce.
(Photos recycled from Instagram. Find more of my stuff @xo_tiffc.)

23 October 2012

VMF 6-23: True loaf, round 2

Leftover sourdough walnut bread demands at least one round of French toast-making. Today is that day.
My go-to method involves whipping together non-dairy milk (unsweetened almond is my favorite), milled flax seed, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon for the coating. Dip up a thick slice of bread, pan-fry it in an oiled pan, drizzle with or dip in maple syrup, and enjoy.

22 October 2012

VMF 6-22: True loaf

Silly wordplay aside, I do really have a "thing" for homemade bread (obviously). Since creating a new barm, I've baked a few loaves of bread each week. The most recent batch was courtesy a recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (2001). I adapted the Basic Sourdough recipe--using a portion of whole wheat flour and adding toasted walnuts--to produce two beautiful loaves of sourdough walnut bread
The original inspiration for the bread was one the beau and I devoured over the course of a single day: a delectably sour, nutty vin santo walnut loaf we picked up from a local farmers market a few weekends ago. Although my homemade bread isn't nearly as perfect as the aforementioned inspiration loaf, it's certainly more than edible. We've gone through one of the 1.5-pound loaves already (in two days, not one), with the second loaf soon to follow.

21 October 2012

(Almost) Wordless Weekends: Hey, Swirl. (VMF 6-21)

The last batch of vegan ice cream was unexpectedly disappointing (or rather, not to our tastes). But it wasn't anything the melted ice cream cake treatment couldn't fix.
A little ganache may have saved the day.