Friday, December 28, 2012

Earl Grey Tea Glazed Mini Donuts

Among my vast array of baking pans (translation: clutter), is a mini donut pan that I've never used until now.  I won't lie:  I like my donuts fried.  Baked donuts are just mini bundt cakes to me.  Now that doesn't mean that I won't shovel them into my mouth, because I will at a pace that will shock you.  So, I decided to throw my hat into the baked donut ring with the help of my favorite tea...Earl Grey! 
Makes 2 dozen mini donuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup almond (or soy milk)
2 tablespoons strongly brewed Earl Grey Tea
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons strongly brewed Earl Grey Tea
1/2 teaspoon (or more) finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (this is just for presentation; I used Twinings tea bags, which comes finely ground)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a mini donut pan.
  2. Brew your tea. Between the donuts and the glaze, you'll need a total of 4 tablespoons of brewed tea.  Double up on the tea bags or use less water for a strong Earl Grey flavor.  
  3. Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, milk, 2 tablespoons of brewed tea, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir, but don't over-mix.
  6. Fill each donut well about 1/2 full and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes and than transfer to a on a wire rack to cool further.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of brewed tea, and ground tea leaves. Add more tea if the glaze seems too thick.
  9. Dip the top of each donut in the glaze and lift up with a twisting motion.  Spoon more glaze over any 'naked' spots.
  10. Allow the glaze to set before devouring. 
In full disclosure, this is just a muffin recipe that I adapted a bit and finagled into donuts.  That said, I decided to use half the batter for 12 mini donuts and the rest to make muffins, topped with sliced almonds and the Earl Grey tea glaze.

To prevent a mini-donut overdose on my part, I packaged some up to give to co-workers as a little New Year's gift.  These cute little bags and the muffin paper above are courtesy of a Japanese dollar store in the Bay Area (Daiso).

I thought they turned out great in donut and muffin form. At first, I thought the glaze would be terribly sweet and dominant over the Earl Grey flavor. But the tea flavor did come through.  And look, no frying involved!  Yum.  I guess I'll be using this little donut pan more often.  :)

Happy New Year...enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Steamed Tofu and Kale Dumplings

If there's one food I can't resist, it's dumplings a.k.a. pot stickers/gyozas/wontons.  They certainly require extra effort in the kitchen vs. a noodle stir-fry, but sometimes it's all about texture and presentation with food...and taste, of course!  You can conjure up any filling and these will turn out fabulous.  Trust me.  Anything wrapped in dough is awesome in my book. 

Makes about 25 dumplings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 block tofu, finely chopped or crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 cup kale, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 package of vegan wonton/gyoza wrappers (or enough to make 25 dumplings)
Bamboo steamer (or other type of steamer)
Parchment paper
  1. Sauté the tofu in olive oil until nicely browned on all sides.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and kale and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. 
  3. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Have a small bowl of water handy, along with an empty plate for your finished dumplings.
  5. Place a small spoonful of the tofu mixture onto each wrapper.  Using your finger, moisten the edges of the wrapper with water, then fold in half and press to seal. Or you can pinch and twist the edges together to create tiny 'bags' (as pictured).  You can also go for the the traditional pleated fan potsticker shape.
  6. Using a bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper, steam the dumplings on medium/high heat for about about 10 minutes. 
  7. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
Note that if you shape these into tiny bags like I did, there will be a thick chunk of wrapper on top, which may require extra steaming time to fully soften.  It will also affect your desired filling-to-wrapper-chewing-ratio (if you have one!).  For the traditional pleated fan-shaped dumplings, check out this great instructional video.

You can also pan-fry these to your heart's content.  Or serve them with veggies and broth for wonton soup.  Or smother them with your favorite chili oil sauce.  Yup, dumplings can do it all.

Enjoy!  :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tried & True Vegan Holiday Cookie Recipes

As I'm sure you've all noticed, it's peak cookie season!  I've pretty much spent the last month baking cookies to give away for the holidays, so I thought I'd write up a short post on two simple, yet fabulously delicious recipes that have never failed me. 

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies
The homestyle chocolate chip cookie recipe from the Vive le Vegan cookbook (also posted on the Everyday Dish TV website) is always in high demand with family and friends.  The ingredients are basic, but together they yield the quintessential chocolate chip cookie.  I never like messing with perfection, but I thought I'd add in some finely ground earl grey tea leaves just for fun.  One tablespoon of tea leaves (from two tea bags; I used Twinings) added to the batter resulted in a subtle, yet lovely chocolate-earl grey combo. 

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies
Of course, the holidays wouldn't be complete without gingerbread cookies, cakes, lattes, etc.  The gingerbread cut-out cookie recipe from the Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar cookbook (also posted on the PPK website) is another recipe with ordinary ingredients, but extraordinary results.  The cookies have a great chewy texture and aren't too heavy on the ginger.  Like all the cookies in this cookbook, these cookies totally awesome.

Here they are all wrapped up and ready for distribution!

I love these cookie recipes so much that I make them all year long. The holidays are definitely a time for massive baking, but in my humble opinion, cookie season never ends. :)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gingersnap Cashew Cheesecake Bars

I'm on a cheesecake rampage this holiday season.  There are so many possible flavor combinations, I just can't stop.  Raw cashew cheesecakes are amazing, but I've always wanted one that came on a traditional cookie crust instead of a nut/date crust.  So, this is a semi-raw cheesecake recipe.  I also wanted to make cheesecake bars instead of a round cheesecake, but I pretty much botched that plan by using my mini tart pans.  I overdid it with the crust, so there was only a little bit of room left for the filling since the pans are so tiny.  Oh well!  That's what I get for trying to make things look overly cute.  :)  In the end, they were delicious and I got the crunchy cookie crust that I was after.
2 cups vegan gingersnap cookie crumbs (I used MI-DEL)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least an hour, rinsed, and drained)
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh fruit, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil.
  2. Crush the cookies in a food processor or place cookies in a freezer bag and smash with a rolling pin (or other heavy object) until finely ground.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and melted coconut oil together. Gently press the mixture down to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until the crust is set. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely. 
  5. In a high speed blender or food processor, blend together all of the filling ingredients until very smooth.
  6. Pour the filling over the crust. Level the top, cover the pan with foil, and place in the freezer to set overnight.
  7. Once set, remove the cheesecake from the pan by lifting up the foil edges. Top with your favorite fruit or sauce and slice. (I used sliced persimmons mixed with maple syrup)
Wouldn't it be nice to serve these at your holiday party?  Hell yes.  Alternatively, you could also make these in a muffin pan with paper liners.  The cheesecake possibilities are endless...and I'm determined to try them all.  :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Black Rice Tofu Cakes

I love used book stores.  It's like a treasure hunt.  Every time I pick up a used book, I wonder whose hands have held it and whose eyes have studied it. I usually head straight to the cookbook section and love seeing all the wrinkled pages and hand written recipe notes in the margins.  Last week, I scored big time at Aardvark Books with Louise Hagler's classic Tofu Cookery cookbook for only five bucks!  The first recipe that drew me in was her sweet and sour tofu balls.  I ended up adapting the recipe a little to create these savory little tofu cakes.

Makes about 16 small cakes
1 lb. firm tofu 
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup black rice, cooked (or brown rice)
2 tablespoons peanut butter 
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil for frying
  1. Using your hands, mash the tofu in large bowl. 
  2. Finely chop the onions and bell pepper. Add them to the mashed tofu.
  3. Add in the cooked black rice, peanut butter, tamari, and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (if it feels dry and crumbly, add more peanut butter and sesame oil)
  4. Form into 1½ inch balls and flatten a little. (see photo)
  5. Fry in a thin layer of oil until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. 
  6. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.
I got lazy and left out the homemade sweet and sour sauce.  Instead, I turned to my favorite Korean gochujang sauce for dipping.  You can also make larger burger patties with this recipe.  I added the black rice for contrast, but these would also be fabulous with cooked quinoa instead of rice.  Yum!  I can't wait to try out more recipes from this cookbook.  It's truly a recipe gold mine and a pioneer resource for plant-based cooking.

Also, if you're in San Francisco or are ever in San Francisco, check out Aardvark Books.  They have an adorable resident cat that wanders the store and sleeps on their boxes of books.  :)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BBQ Kale Empanadas

I bought some Gardein BBQ Pulled Shreds a while ago and totally forgot I had them.  My fridge is packed, it's true.  But I'm not a hoarder...I just have a small fridge. :)  I didn't have any buns to pair with the BBQ shreds, so when in doubt, make a quick and dirty crust and fill it with everything under the sun!  I used the same dough recipe from my Filipino Empanada post, but left out the sugar.  It won't be a flaky crust, but it's easy and only involves flour, oil, and water.  Done. 

Makes 6 empanadas
 For the filling:
1 package of Gardein BBQ Shreds (their BBQ riblets would also work too)
1 cup of chopped kale (or your favorite veggies)
  1. Mix the BBQ shreds with the chopped kale in a bowl. Set aside.
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
Soy or almond milk, for brushing
  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, water, and oil together until a dough forms (the dough will feel very oily-- that's ok).
  2. Divide the dough into 6 even balls.
  3. Using your hands, flatten each ball into into circles about 1/4 inch in thickness and place on a baking sheet. (You can also roll each dough ball out using a rolling pin, but the dough is pretty soft and pliable, so this isn't really necessary) 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place 1-2 spoonfuls of the BBQ-kale filling on each dough circle.
  3. Fold dough over to form a semi-circle, leaving a small lip on the bottom layer.
  4. Using your index finger, fold the bottom layer over your other index finger to form a rope crimp (or just press the edge down with a fork to seal).
  5. Brush empanadas with soy or almond milk.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Admittedly, hamburger buns would've been waaaaaaaaaay easier.  But look how pretty these are!  Plus, everyone loves empanadas...they're the perfect on-the-go meal.  You can basically make up any filling combo.  How about some food fusion:  samosa empandas?  Emposas?  Ok, now I'm just rambling...

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Miso Maple Dressing

I love salads, but I rarely (ok, never) make homemade dressings.  It's probably one of the easiest things to make from scratch, but it's also just as easy to buy a ready-made bottle from the store. :)  In any case, I decided that it was time to try out a dressing recipe (and also use up my white miso paste, which is close to its expiration date). 

(Adapted from the miso-sesame dressing recipe by The Food Network)

Makes about 1 cup of dressing

1/2 cup white miso paste
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or other vegetable or nut oil)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well.  (or place ingredients in a large bottle or jar and shake, shake, shake)

How easy was that?  I had the dressing over a chopped kale, bell pepper, and tempeh salad.  It was utterly delightful.  I guess the hard part here is just making sure you have all the ingredients.  If you want a creamier version of this, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of silken tofu and mix everything well in a blender.  I didn't want to wash more dishes, so I passed on the silken tofu this time around.  But next time, it's on.

Enjoy! :)

Gluten-Free Hazelnut Quinoa Brownies

Another day, another brownie recipe.  I've been baking up a storm for my office mates this holiday season, but have neglected the needs of some of my gluten intolerant colleagues. Oopsie. I've had some mixed results with vegan gluten-free baking.  I'm not sure if it's because I pick gluten-free recipes that rely heavily on eggs for binding or if I'm just picking bad recipes.  The last vegan gluten-free cake I made had the texture of chewing gum!  Nevertheless, I have a huge assortment of gluten-free flours that I try to use every chance I can get. 

This recipe is adapted from the quinoa brownie recipe in Bob's Red Mill Baking Book.  I just love the wide array of flours from Bob's Red Mill.  I hope to visit their Whole Grain Store and Visitor’s Center the next time I'm in Portland.  Sounds like a baker's paradise!

Makes 16 small squares

1/2 cup canola oil
4 1/2 oz. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 egg replacements (I used 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds whisked with 6 tablespoons water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup quinoa flour
3 tablespoons brown or white rice flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (or your favorite nut)
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life (or just use regular-sized chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
  2. Stir the oil with the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or a glass bowl set over simmering water, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the egg replacements to the chocolate mixture, whisking vigorously. Stir in the vanilla and let the mixture cool until it's warm.
  4. In another bowl, mix the quinoa flour, rice flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and sugar.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture to form a dough and spread into the prepared pan. 
  6. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips evenly over the dough and press down using your fingers or a spoon.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the center doesn't look raw anymore.
  8. Allow to cool then cut into squares.
I'm happy to report that these were nothing close to chewing gum.  I was worried that the quinoa flour would leave a slightly bitter taste, but in the end the sugar and chocolate trumped any hint of bitterness.  (Isn't that true in a lot of situations in life?)

Enjoy!  :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pecan Brownie-Oatmeal Cookie Squares

I've always wanted to make brownies with a crust.  They just look so darn pretty and let's face it, crusts are delicious!  This is pretty much a hybrid pecan bar/brownie/oatmeal cookie. Triple threat!  The recipe is based on Taste of Home's Triple Layer Brownies, which was pretty straightforward to veganize.  As you can see, I left out the third layer, which is chocolate frosting.  That would've sent me into a sugar coma.  Check out the original recipe and try out all three layers if you want total decadence.  Either way, you'll end up with a wonderful crowd pleaser...or you can just keep them all for yourself too.  :)
Makes 16 squares 
1 cup quick-cooking oats 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, melted 
Brownie Layer:
3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, melted 
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted 
1 egg replacement (I used 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt; stir in the 1/2 cup melted Earth Balance. 
  3. Pat this mixture into a greased 11 x 7-inch baking pan and bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes. 
  4. In one bowl, mix the sugar, 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance, and melted chocolate. Add in the egg replacement and vanilla extract. 
  5. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, alternating with the almond milk. Mix well after each addition. 
  7. Stir in the pecans.
  8. Spread the batter over the oatmeal crust and bake for 25 minutes. 
  9. Let cool and then cut into 16 squares (or more, depending on how small you cut them).
I don't have an 11 x 7 inch baking pan, so I used my 13 x 9 inch pan.  That's why these ended up so thin.  The results were still awesome!  I brought some to work and people loved them (or so they said).  But based on my own discerning palate, they were delish.  Just fantastic. The oatmeal crust was totally worth the extra effort.  I may frost the next batch that I make, but these were pretty decadent sans frosting.  I may even go crazy and use walnuts or almonds instead of pecans.  Ooooh, watch out world!  :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vegan Lion King Sushi Roll

Have you ever been at a sushi restaurant enjoying your miso soup, avocado/cucumber roll, and inari, but secretly eyeing the warm, gooey Lion King roll that someone else is eating? I have! So I decided to take matters into my own hands. A Lion King sushi roll is typically a California roll topped with salmon and covered in a creamy Kewpie mayo-based sauce, broiled in the oven or with a blow torch. This is my attempt at veganizing it. I never actually tasted one during my pre-vegan days, so I have no clue how close this comes to the real thing.  But I do know that this turned out insanely good due to the special savory/sweet Lion King sauce. Holy smokes. Warm sushi is some good stuff.
Makes 2 sushi rolls
For the spicy tofu roll:
1 cup sushi rice, cooked 
6 oz. firm tofu (I used 1 package of Hodo Soy Beanery firm tofu)
2 tablespoons vegan mayo
½ teaspoon (or more) chili oil, to taste
½ teaspoon (or more) shichimi togarashi, to taste (optional; if you don’t have this you can just increase the amount of chili oil)
½ of an avocado, sliced into strips 
2 sheets sushi nori 
Sushi mat
  1. Cut about 1/3 of the tofu block off and cut that piece into 12 thin slices, about 1/8" thick and 1” wide (to place on top of each piece of sushi). Set aside.
  2. Mash the remaining 2/3 of tofu in a bowl and then add the vegan mayo, chili oil, and shichimi togarashi (if using). Mix well and set aside.
  3. Lay a sheet of nori on your sushi mat (shiny side down).
  4. Place a layer of sushi rice on top (about 1/4 inch thick), leaving a ½ inch gap on each edge.
  5. Place a line of the spicy tofu mixture on the rice, followed by a line of avocado strips.
  6. Roll the sheet as tightly as possible using the sushi mat.
  7. Moisten the edge with water and seal. Set aside and make the second roll. 
For the Lion King sauce:    
2 tablespoons vegan mayo
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin 
1½ teaspoons sugar
  1. Mix the vegan mayo, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small bowl.  
  2. Adjust the amounts accordingly, based on how salty or sweet you want the sauce to be. Set aside.
  1. Turn your oven on to broil.
  2. Using a wet, sharp knife slice each roll into 6 ½-inch thick slices. (remove the not so pretty ends and eat them!) 
  3. Place the cut sushi rolls on a sheet of foil and fold the edges up to prevent sauce from spilling out. Place on a baking sheet.
  4. Top each sushi piece with one thinly sliced piece of tofu. 
  5. Pour half of the Lion King sauce over your rolls, covering all of the tofu.
  6. Place the sushi directly under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce begins to brown. 
  7. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls and continue to broil for 2-3 more minutes until it starts to bubble.  
  8. Most of the sauce will have dripped down to the foil, so before serving, spoon some of the sauce back on top of the sushi rolls.  
  9. Optional: Top with black sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi, or sliced scallions for garnish.
  10. Serve warm.
This is definitely one of those dishes that requires some serious ‘mis en place’ action. I didn’t prep things in advance and ended up with a huge mess in my tiny kitchen! I’m also a novice sushi maker, so I probably would’ve benefited from studying a YouTube video on sushi rolling beforehand. If you’d like to save time, you can just fill the sushi with plain tofu strips or tempeh instead of the mashed spicy tofu. With all the yummy Lion King sauce on top, I don’t think the filling really matters.  Enjoy! 
P.S. I have no clue why this is called a Lion King roll. Do you? :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tofu with Korean Gochujang Mayo

I’m kind of obsessed with Korean gochujang sauce right now. I just love its sweet and spicy flavor. It's so delicious with tofu and veggies. I picked up a bottle of Annie Chun's gochujang sauce at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and now it’s all gone. Time to re-stock! Last night, I mixed some gochujang sauce with Vegenaise…wow, it was like a spicy, creamy aioli sauce with sweet undertones. I served it over some pan-fried tofu. What a fabulously simple dinner!
For the tofu:
  • I used a block of extra firm tofu, sliced, and fried in a little bit of olive oil.  
  • While frying, I drizzled the tofu with a some soy sauce and then sprinkled each side with nutritional yeast.
For the gochujang mayo:
  • I didn’t measure; you can use varying amounts of gochujang sauce and Vegenaise depending on how spicy you like your food.  
  • Those are just chopped chives for contrast. :)
For the green beans:
  • The green beans were sautéed in some olive oil and gochujang sauce. As I said, I just love this stuff!
If you’d like to make the gochujang sauce from scratch, there’s a simple recipe here.  Also, this cute little plate is from the new Muji store that recently opened in San Francisco. I love the little bento-box-like compartments...reminds me of TV dinners. 
Enjoy! :)