Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chocolate-Dipped Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are wonderful for the holidays (or any time of the year).  It's the same shortbread cookie recipe from my Twix bars, but I decreased the oil a little and added in matcha green tea powder for color.  The chocolate-dipping and nuts make them more festive, but I think they're also just as good on their own.  :)


Makes about 2 dozen cookies 

1/3 cup sunflower seed oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 heaping teaspoons matcha green tea powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil (solid)
About 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Sift in the flour, matcha powder, and salt and mix until just combined. (The dough will feel wet, but that's okay)
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll the dough out to about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness.
  6. Cut the dough out into your desired shapes and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden.
  8. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. When the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together using a double boiler. 
  10. Dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate and let the excess chocolate drip off before placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (or large plate or cutting board)
  11. Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate (if using) and place the cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes or so until the chocolate has set.
These cookies are great with (you guessed it) a nice, hot cup of green tea. :) 

Happy Holidays!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Swedish Cardamom Buns

I'm in love with cinnamon rolls.  Fluffy and sweet, gooey and tender...they're hard to top on my list of favorite desserts.  I've previously posted a few cinnamon roll type recipes like purple yam buns and chocolate Earl Grey tea sweet rolls and figured it was high time to attempt a vegan version of Swedish cardamom buns!  They're similar to cinnamon rolls, but cardamom is used in the dough and filling.  Also, the dough is shaped into ornate knots and twists.  So purty.  I've never actually tasted kardemummabullar (as they're called in Sweden), but I've admired many gorgeous photos of them and absolutely adore their unique shape.

I'd love to visit Sweden one day (and I hope I can find vegan kardemummabullar available somewhere when I do), but in the meantime, here's my homemade version. They're typically sprinkled with pearl sugar, but I didn't have any.  They were still awesome, in my opinion. :)


Before you embark on your Swedish cardamom bun making journey, watch this video that shows how to cut and shape the dough.

Makes 12 buns

Dough
1/2 cup lukewarm water (it should feel like warm bath water; 90-110ºF)
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar), plus 1 teaspoon (to activate the yeast)
1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup water (at room temperature)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/2 cup more (or as needed during kneading)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

For Brushing the Dough
1/4 cup non-dairy milk

  1. Proof the Yeast: Place the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast packet. Let the yeast activate for a few minutes. If the mixture doesn't foam, start over with a new packet of yeast.
  2. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, canola oil, 3/4 cup water, 2 cups of the flour, ground cardamom, and salt. Stir to combine. Then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at at time, stirring in between each addition. (You should have added a total of 3 1/2 cups of flour at this point)
  3. Knead the Dough:  Knead the dough in the bowl using one hand. If it's sticky, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough doesn't stick to your hand anymore.
  4. More Kneading: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until it's smooth. (150 turns is the magic number) Add a little bit of flour as needed if the dough starts to stick to your board or counter. 
  5. First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with a clean towel. Place the dough in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. (I use my turned off gas oven for this.)
  6. After the dough has doubled, punch it down with your fist, cover it with the towel again, and let it rest in the bowl for a few minutes.
  7. Make the Filling:  Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix them into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  8. Get Rolling: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times to make sure all the air is out. Using your hands, stretch the dough into a small rectangle and then roll it out into a larger 12" x 18" rectangle using a rolling pin.
  9. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough and then fold it in thirds letter-style. 
  10. Roll the dough out again so that it's almost back to a 12" x 18" rectangle.
  11. Line two 11" x 13" rimmed baking pans with parchment paper. (Or use whatever size pan you want to use.  I used rimmed pans so that the dough wouldn't get smashed by my towel during the second rise.)
  12. Cut the Dough: Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. (After slicing off the ends that contained little or no filling, I ended up with 12 strips.  You can go thinner or thicker with the strips.  Up to you!) 
  13. Shape the Dough:  Again, watch this video for dough shaping guidance.
  14. Second Rise: Place the shaped buns in the pans and cover with a clean towel.  Let the buns rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until they've doubled in size.
  15. Preheat your oven to 400°F. 
  16. Gently brush each bun with milk. 
  17. Bake:  When the oven is heated to 400°F, bake the buns for about 15 minutes, or until they're puffy and golden.  Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. 

I noticed that the dough got really oily while I was shaping it.  This is probably because I used coconut oil in the filling, which has a lower melting point than butter or margarine.  My dough was on the warm side because I let it rise in my turned off oven, plus it was a warm and humid day.  A happy consequence of the oily dough was that the brown sugar and coconut oil caramelized on the bottom of some of the buns making them taste like sticky rolls.  Yeah!  The best of both worlds.  I also think the oil helped the buns brown nicely overall.  So everything worked out in the end. :)


Here's what my kitchen looked like.  Can you smell them? :)


I have to say that these were one of the best things I've made during my short amateur vegan baking career.  The buns were fluffy and tender with a mild sweetness and a hint of cardamom.  I was once scared of baking with yeast, but now it's all I want to do.  I already know what baked goods I'll be giving out for the holidays this year.  (and it's not vegan fruitcake)

Enjoy! 


Monday, September 15, 2014

No-Bake Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ready for the next mini cheesecake installment? It's starting to look like all I post are dessert recipes. I guess desserts are a lot more interesting to me than savory food (not true).  I'm just really bad at measuring and writing down what I put into my savory dishes.  I hope to get better at that. But in the meantime, here's another one of my beloved no-bake mini cheesecakes in celebration of autumn.  It's my favorite time of the year due to all the pumpkin flavored treats associated with the season. Let the pumpkin mania begin!

I made this cheesecake to use up some leftover pumpkin purée that I had after making an awesome vegan challah recipe. (It turned out fabulous-- I highly recommend the recipe!) I wasn't in the mood to deal with soaking cashews, so I used peanut butter instead. And because peanut butter was involved, I figured chocolate should be too. :)


Makes one 4-inch mini cheesecake (like one of these

Crust
1/2 cup raw pecans (or walnuts or almonds)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

Filling
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (store-bought or homemade)
1/3 cup unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt

For Sprinkling
A handful of pecan pieces

Chocolate Topping
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
  1. Pulse the pecans a few times in a food processor. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and blend until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture stick together)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of a mini cheesecake pan lightly greased with coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Blend all the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
  4. Spoon the filling mixture over the crust and smooth out the top. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
  5. Whisk together the chocolate topping ingredients and then drizzle the mixture over the cheesecake.
  6. Cover with foil and place the cheesecake in the freezer for 2-3 hours or overnight until completely set.
  7. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled.

You'll definitely taste the peanut butter. And with the spices in the mix, you'll also taste your standard pumpkin pie. It's a pretty delicious combo, so says my palate. But if you have a preference for peanut butter over pumpkin (or vice versa), give the filling mixture a taste before sticking it into your cheesecake pan. As always, adjust the flavors to your liking. If you add more pumpkin purée, you'll probably also have to add more coconut oil to ensure that the cheesecake firms up nicely while in the freezer. And if peanut butter flavored cheesecakes aren't your thing, you can also use raw cashew butter or raw cashews instead of peanut butter.

For a full-sized 8-inch round or square cheesecake, you can double the crust ingredients and double or triple (for more height) the filling ingredients. Even though this is a mini cheesecake, I think it would make a nice dessert for two or even four people to share. Nut-based cheesecakes are so rich and decadent that even one small slice is filling.  But of course, no one would blame you for wanting seconds. :)

Enjoy!


Friday, August 22, 2014

The HappyCow Cookbook Review & Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon Recipe from Millennium Restaurant

There's an abundance of vegan recipes available online these days, but I still love flipping through cookbooks, bookmarking my favorite recipes, and admiring all the mouthwatering food photos.  So, I was excited to learn that the HappyCow team was putting together a cookbook featuring recipes from various vegan restaurants from around the world.  During my travels in the U.S. and abroad, the HappyCow guide has been a lifesaver, leading me to some of my most memorable vegan meals.  I purchased The HappyCow Cookbook as soon as it was released and now I can enjoy recipes from well-known vegan restaurants such as Candle Café in New York City, Counter Culture in Austin, and Portobello in Portland-- all from the comfort of my own kitchen!  

For me, and I'm sure for most people, photos in cookbooks are a must. Thankfully, The HappyCow Cookbook includes a full color photo of nearly every recipe, as well as snapshots of each restaurant.  Another cool feature in the cookbook is a question and answer section with each restaurant's chef/owner that provides interesting information on the restaurant's history, philosophy, and most popular dishes.  

The cookbook features over 80 recipes including comfort foods, ethnic foods, desserts, gluten-free dishes, and raw foods.  From casual to gourmet recipes, there's something in this cookbook for home cooks of all levels.  A good number of the recipes are from U.S. based restaurants, but recipes from restaurants as far as Australia, Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Israel, Canada, and Japan are also included.  How's that for a vegan food tour around the world? 

(Photo Credit:  The HappyCow Cookbook)

As if finally getting my hands on the cookbook wasn't enough, I was even more excited to be asked to participate in The HappyCow Cookbook's Summer Road Trip blog tour. Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, one of my favorite vegan restaurants of all time, is featured in the cookbook.  As a San Franciscan, I'm lucky to live near such an amazing restaurant.  I've dined there several times for special occasions and have always been impressed by their innovative dishes, unique flavors, and beautiful food styling. Millennium also has special events like their recent Annual Heirloom Tomato Dinner.  Earlier this year, I attended their Annual Southern Comfort Dinner, which included an inventive 5-course prix fixe menu. I enjoyed this delicious tequila and oregano marinated king trumpet mushroom "fish" taco with chipotle crema as my entrée.

(From Millennium's Annual Southern Comfort Dinner on May 22, 2014)

As part of The HappyCow Cookbook's Summer Road Trip blog tour, I'm happy to represent San Francisco and share Millennium's stunning Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon recipe from the cookbook!

(Photo Credit:  The HappyCow Cookbook)

Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon
(Millennium Restaurant; recipe posted with permission from BenBella Books)

Serves 6

For the eggplant:
2 cups coarsely ground shelled pistachios
3 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Soy milk, as needed
2 to 3 Rosa Bianca or Tuscan Rose eggplants, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds (12 rounds total)
Vegetable oil, as needed

For the lemon tofu “cheese”:
1 1/2 pounds medium-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 sage leaves, thinly sliced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Pinch chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the tomato, leek, and artichoke tagine:
2 pounds whole San Marzano or plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili Urfa or Aleppo chili pepper flakes (or substitute crushed red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon dried mint
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups sliced leeks, cleaned and sliced 1/3" thick
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups vegetable stock, or as needed
4 cups quartered fresh blanched or frozen artichoke hearts
2 cups cooked Corona beans (or substitute any large cooked bean)
1 teaspoon arrowroot, dissolved in cold water
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the cilantro-cardamom coulis:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, sliced in half
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano chili, seeds removed
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Israeli couscous salad:
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
4 tablespoons minced parsley or cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble:
2 cups frisée leaves
Herb of your choice (optional)

For the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the ground pistachio, flours, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and combine well. Place the soy milk in another mixing bowl. Place a piece of eggplant in the dry pistachio/flour dredge, coat well, then place in the soy milk, then dredge again in the flour mix. Place the finished eggplant slice on a well-oiled sheet pan. Follow with the remaining eggplant slices.

Place the pan in the oven and bake. Flip the eggplant over after 6 or 7 minutes. After a total of 12 to 14 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.

For the lemon tofu “cheese”: Place the crumbled tofu in a mixing bowl. In a pan, sauté the garlic in the oil over medium-low heat until just starting to brown. Remove from the heat and add the sage, lemon zest, and chili flakes. Stir together ingredients in the pan, then pour over the tofu. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and more yeast to taste. Stir or knead to incorporate the ingredients. Set aside.

For the tomato, leek, and artichoke tagine: Place the tomatoes on a baking pan and broil until the skin on top is blackened. Cool to room temperature. Peel the skin off the tomatoes. (It should slip right off.) Try to keep the tomato in one piece.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the ginger, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, chili, dried mint, thyme, and cinnamon stick until they sizzle—for 20 seconds or so. Then add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Sauté 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and sauté another 30 seconds, followed by the stock. Simmer covered for 10 minutes or until the leeks are soft. Add the artichoke hearts and simmer 5 minutes. Follow with the peeled tomatoes and add the 2 cups cooked beans, and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir in the arrowroot slurry until just thickened. Add the salt and pepper.

For the cilantro-cardamom coulis: In a sauté pan, heat oil and pan-char the onion, garlic, and chili over high heat. Sauté until they are 25 percent blackened. Remove from the heat, stir in the cardamom seeds, then place in a bowl to cool to room temperature. When cool, place in a blender with the remaining ingredients, then blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

For the Israeli couscous salad: Combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On an oiled sheet pan, set down an eggplant slice, top with 1/4 cup of tofu “cheese,” then top with another eggplant slice. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices to make 6 Napoleons. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through. To serve, place a portion of the tagine in shallow pasta bowl. Follow with a portion of the couscous salad in the center of the plate. Top with a Napoleon. Combine the frisée leaves with the herbs and top the Napoleon with the frisée herb salad, if using. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cilantro-cardamom coulis around the plate. Serve.

***

The HappyCow Cookbook combines two of my passions:  vegan cooking and travel. The unique recipes in the cookbook not only motivate me to get in the kitchen and cook, but they also make me want to hit the road so that I that can experience all of these wonderful restaurants in person.  But until then, having these recipes at my fingertips makes me one happy person.  :)

Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vegan Eats in Vancouver, BC

I recently visited Vancouver, BC with one goal in mind:  Try as many vegan eateries and dishes as possible.  I've always heard wonderful things about Vancouver, so I finally took the short flight north from San Francisco.  I did some research on vegan food options beforehand with the help of various blogs, Yelp, and the #veganvancouver and #veganYVR hash tags on Instagram. So, as soon as I landed, I was ready to explore.  And by explore, I mean eat.  Here are a few highlights from my trip!

Granville Island Public Market. Other than dishes from a few of the ethnic food stands, produce, spices, and other cooking ingredients sold there, I wasn't expecting to find many vegan food items.  But I still wanted to check it out because I absolutely love food halls.  Who doesn't?



Laurelle's Fine Foods (in Granville Island Public Market).  After meandering through the maze of stalls, I was about to leave when I luckily walked by Laurelle's Fine Food stand.  They had several sweet and savory vegan offerings, which were clearly marked. After doing a little happy dance, I tried a puff pastry tofu roll and peanut butter square. Both were awesome.


I'm thinking the peanut butter square was actually a peanut butter version of the Nanaimo bar, but I could be wrong.  Whatever it's called, it was really, really good.


Barbara-Jo's Books To Cooks.  This quaint bookstore is just a short walk from Granville Island Public Market.  Like Omnivore Books in San Francisco, Barbara-Jo's is a bookstore devoted to cookbooks.  How awesome is that?  They had a pretty good vegan cookbook selection and many non-vegan cookbooks that I'd never seen.  It's definitely worth a trip if you're a cookbook addict like me.

Edible Flours (Kitsilano). This bakery gets extra credit for having such a creative name.  They offered a wonderful selection of donuts, cinnamon buns, and other decadent baked goods.  Since I never see vegan croissants in bakeries, I knew I had to get one.  This is their cheese croissant (made with Daiya vegan cheese).  Moist, buttery, and flaky.  Nuff said.

The ever-elusive vegan croissant

Heirloom Vegetarian (Fairview Slopes, South Granville). I loved everything about this restaurant...great vegan options, lovely decor, and extremely friendly staff.  I stopped by in the afternoon, so it wasn't busy (as you can see from the photo).  The waitress mentioned that the lunch crowds had just left.  Perfect timing.


Avocado sandwich with crispy beet 'bacon' 

Raw vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake (more like a brownie) with chocolate ganache

Pho Goodness (Davie Village, West End). This is a small, casual eatery with good prices. It's not a fully vegan restaurant, but I heard about it after searching for "vegan" on Yelp.  Vegan items were clearly marked on the menu.  Even though it was warm out, I had their vegan pho.  I thought the broth was pretty flavorful on its own, but I ended up adding chili sauce to it, which made it even better.

Tofu, veggies, and rice noodles, which are down there somewhere.

Whole Foods Market (on Robson, West End). Even though I live just a few blocks from a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco, I was on the lookout for unique Canadian grocery items to bring back home. The items at this Whole Foods were pretty similar to what I could get in San Francisco, with the exception of a few brands that I've never seen. So, I left empty-handed.  But they do have a great prepared foods section and a nice outdoor seating area with free Wi-Fi. :)

Cartem's Donuterie (Downtown). This was the first place I noted on my Vancouver 'to do' list. I was told that their vegan Earl Grey donut was fabulous and it definitely did not disappoint. In addition to being one of the prettiest donuts I've ever seen (check out those rose petals), the Earl Grey tea flavor was perfect.

Maple walnut and Earl Grey vegan donuts!

I initially thought Cartem's only offered one vegan donut option, but to my surprise, they had several. (another happy dance moment)  I noticed that the Earl Grey donut wasn't on the list below, but the person at the counter confirmed that they offer an vegan Earl Grey donut.  I also had to try the maple walnut donut since I was in Canada after all.  But I couldn't bring myself to try all the vegan varieties for fear of a donut overdose.  But looking back, I regret not trying them all. You snooze, you lose.


The Templeton (Downtown, Granville Entertainment District). This is another restaurant that I didn't know about until I entered "vegan" on Yelp while I was in Vancouver.  It was pretty close to my hotel and was given many accolades online, so I thought I'd check it out.  It's a tiny place, which meant that the line was out the door.  It's not a fully vegan restaurant, but they offer many vegan options for brunch, such as a vegan poutine with mushroom gravy and tofu scrambles.  I opted for the vegan lentil loaf, which was great.  And check out Elvis serenading me!  Too cool.

Nom.

North Vancouver:

There are also a few vegan eateries in North Vancouver (listed here).  To get there, you can take a short SeaBus ride to Lonsdale Quay.  As soon as you get off the ferry, you'll immediately see the Lonsdale Quay Market, which is another food hall.  There's also a nice farmers market that takes place there on Saturdays.

Cafe by Tao (Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver). This cafe is conveniently located right next to Lonsdale Quay.  In addition to a menu including raw entrees, desserts, and juices, the cafe also sells common raw foods such as cacao nibs, nut milks, and kale chips.  They also sell raw vegan cookbooks and kitchen items.  I loved the vibe of this place.  I felt healthier just walking through the door!  I had their collard rolls with nut pâté, a slice of lemon blueberry cheesecake, and a cold-pressed grapefruit, apple, pear, celery, and ginger juice.  Perfection.


Buddha-Full (Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver).  This eatery is just a few blocks away from Cafe by Tao.  I didn't stay to eat, but I did pick up a matcha green tea rice krispy square to go.  It was delicious and definitely something I'll try to replicate in my own kitchen. I also saw them sold at Buzz Cafe in downtown Vancouver, so I'm not sure if Buddha-Full makes them and spreads their matcha goodness around town, or if another bakery makes them. Either way, I totally loved the concept, not to mention the flavor.


Honorable Mention:

  • Choices Market (Yaletown).  This is a pretty cool natural foods market. If you're in the neighborhood, take a gander.
  • Sejuiced (Kitsilano). I was too full from snacking at Granville Island Public Market to get anything here, but they had a lot of vegan dessert options. Next time!
  • Indigo Cafe (Kitsilano). I was looking forward to eating here, but there weren't any available tables when I dropped in (it's tiny). Boo. Indigo Cafe is connected to Greens Organic and Natural Market, so it's a two for one special. :)

This was just a short weekend trip, so unfortunately there were some stones left unturned.  Alas, these eateries are also still on my Vancouver 'to do' list:


Luckily Vancouver is only a short flight away from San Francisco, so I'll definitely be back. Stay tuned for my Vancouver Vegan Food Tour Part II!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Babka

I don't have a recipe to share today.  This is just a cool little idea that involves one of my favorite baking ingredients:  matcha green tea powder.  I love adding it to baked goods as natural food coloring.  Look at what happened when I added some to my babka:


Pretty cool, eh?

I used the Chocolate Babka recipe from Chloe's Vegan Desserts cookbook.  (If you don't have the cookbook, here's a hint:  I just did an online search for "Chloe vegan babka" and the full recipe showed up as a Google Books result. Or you can head to the library.  Or buy the cookbook-- it's great!)  I've made her babka recipe before and although it takes about 3 hours total waiting for the dough to rise and 45 minutes baking in the oven, it's well worth the time and effort once you sink your teeth into your very own homemade babka. (especially if it's green)

Based on what I had in my pantry, I made the following adjustments to the recipe:

  • Used 1 cup bread flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour for the dough
  • Added 4 teaspoons matcha green tea powder to the flour mixture for the dough
  • Substituted refined coconut oil for vegan margarine (1 to 1) in both the dough and the filling
  • Substituted coconut palm sugar for brown sugar (1 to 1) in the filling
  • Omitted the streusel topping

I usually use Maeda-en 100% natural matcha green tea powder that sells for about $7 online or at Japanese or Asian supermarkets.  That's the price for a 1-oz. canister, which isn't exactly cheap.  But if you're just looking to experiment with it or don't plan on using it often, a 1-oz. canister at $7 is just fine in my book. That amount can be used for 2 to 3 baking projects. (not to mention delicious homemade green tea lattes or ice cream)

With all the sugar and chocolate in the mix, I didn't really taste much green tea, but that was expected.  From my previous matcha baking projects, I've found that the green tea flavor doesn't really come through.  If it does, it's very subtle.  (but who cares, it's green!)

I have to say that kneading green colored dough is a lot of fun.  It reminded me of Play-Doh.  And eating a green colored babka is even more fun.  (eating Play-Doh = not so fun)  I hope you'll give this 'Glowing Green Babka' a try. Just don't try to use it for detox purposes. :)

Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No-Bake Mini Strawberry Cookies-n-Cream Cheesecake

You know I love tiny little no-bake cheesecakes.  As delicious as raw cheesecakes are, I can't finish a full-sized one all by myself.  (or can I...?)  So, unless I'm cooking for a potluck or some other type of gathering, I like to stick to my trusted Japanese dollar store mini cheesecake pan. Also, when I'm just experimenting in the kitchen, I don't really want to use up three cups of expensive raw organic cashews.  No way.  

It probably looks like I was being sloppy with the crust here, but I added some of the crust mixture to the filling on purpose. :)   I love cutting into cheesecakes with fruit, nuts, swirls, etc. embedded in the filling.  I also thought I'd add some fruit to the topping because it's summer and summer means strawberries!  And since summer also means peaches, I added a white peach to the filling.  You can also use a banana instead. There are no limits in vegan cheesecake land.  :)


Makes one 4-inch mini cheesecake (like one of these)

Crust
3/4 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
6 soft pitted Medjool dates
1.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

Filling
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours or overnight; drained and rinsed)
1 peeled, pitted medium white peach (or a banana)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Some of the crust mixture from above (about 2 tablespoons)

Topping
About 1/2 cup chopped strawberries 
Some of the crust mixture from above (about 3 tablespoons)

  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Transfer about 1/3 of the crust mixture to a small bowl and set aside.  
  3. Press the rest of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of your mini cheesecake pan. Set aside.
  4. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the mixture smooth.  I used a Blendtec Twister Jar.)
  5. Transfer the filling mixture to a small bowl and stir in about 2 tablespoons of the reserved crust mixture.  (Break the mixture into crumbles first so that you have no large chunks)
  6. Pour the filling mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the top of the cheesecake with the chopped strawberries and the rest of the reserved crust mixture (there should be about 3 tablespoons left).  Gently press down on the topping.
  7. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  8. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled. 


The white peach in the filling added a nice refreshing element to the cheesecake, as well as some sweetness.  If you have black cocoa powder, which is used to make Oreo cookies, you'll get more of that quintessential cookies-n-cream flavor. I don't think many people keep that in their pantry, but it's definitely something to try in your baked and non-baked chocolate desserts.

If you'd like to make a full-sized 8-inch round or square version of this, you can double the crust ingredients and double or triple (for more height) the filling ingredients.  Again, there are no limits in vegan cheesecake land.

Enjoy! :)



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chocolate Earl Grey Tea Sweet Rolls

I think I'm finally getting good at making cinnamon rolls.  (I probably jinxed myself there)  I've tried tons of yeasted dough recipes that resulted in more failure than success.  There was even one time when the dough never rose, but I still shaped it into rolls and baked them hoping they'd rise in the oven. Yeah, that's not how it works.  Unless you want hockey puck rolls.  In any event, I've been a little obsessed with yeasted bread baking lately and thought I'd try to make something I've always dreamed of:  Earl Grey tea sweet rolls.


The thought of warm, fluffy, and gooey yeasted rolls with Earl Grey undertones makes my heart sing. Plus chocolate?  Yes, please.  I tried to incorporate Earl Grey tea in every way possible in this recipe. There's tea in the dough (2 ways), in the filling, and in the glaze (2 possible ways).  But if you want something that screams Earl Grey, this recipe isn't it.  The flavor is there, but it's pretty subtle and comes mainly from the glaze.  But now that I think about it, I've never really tasted anything that screams Earl Grey. Even a cup of Earl Grey tea doesn't scream Earl Grey, which is probably why I like it so much. :)


I reference measurements of teabags here (very scientific, I know) because I pretty much only bake with Twinings teabags that come with already finely ground tea leaves. If you have loose leaf tea, 1 teabag = 1 teaspoon. (although tea strength is another issue) You may also have to use a coffee or spice grinder to get the tea leaves to the consistency of a coarse powder.

Also, I know this looks like a monster number of steps, but I'm just trying to keep my bases covered. (Plus, fresh homemade sweet rolls are SO worth the effort)  If you're a seasoned cinnamon roll maker, none of this is new. :)

Makes 12 buns

Dough (adapted from the Vegan Brunch cookbook)
1 cup water
4 Earl Grey teabags
1/2 cup lukewarm water (it should feel like warm bath water)
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar), plus 1 teaspoon (to activate the yeast)
1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/2 cup more (or as needed during kneading)
Finely ground tea leaves from 2 Earl Grey teabags

Filling
3/4 cup brown sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Finely ground tea leaves from 1 Earl Grey teabag
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
Pinch of salt

Glaze
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 2 hours or overnight; rinsed and drained)
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (based on your desired level of sweetness)
2-4 tablespoons water (or strongly brewed Earl Grey tea)-- start with 2 tablespoons and add more until you reach your desired consistency
Finely ground tea leaves from 1 Earl Grey teabag
  1. Make the tea:  Boil 1 cup of water in a kettle or in the microwave. Let the 4 teabags steep in the water for a few minutes.  Remove them when the mixture is lukewarm or at room temperature.  After removing the teabags, you should be left with 3/4 cup of brewed tea to use for the recipe.  Set aside.
  2. Proof the yeast:  Place the 1/2 cup of plain lukewarm water in a large bowl.  Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast packet.  Let the yeast activate for a few minutes.  If the mixture doesn't foam, start over with a new packet of yeast.
  3. Add in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, brewed tea, oil, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and the ground tea leaves. Stir to combine.  Then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at at time, stirring in between each addition.  (You should have added a total of 3 1/2 cups of flour at this point)
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl using one hand.  If it's sticky, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough doesn't stick to your hand anymore.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until it's smooth. (150 turns is the magic number)  Add a little bit of flour as needed if the dough starts to stick to your board or counter. 
  6. First Rise:  Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with a clean towel.  Place the dough in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  (I use my turned off gas oven for this)
  7. After the dough has doubled, punch it down with your fist, cover it with the towel again, and let it rest in the bowl for a few minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, make the filling by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing it with a fork until crumbly.  Set aside.
  9. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times to make sure all the air is out.  Using your hands, stretch the dough into a small rectangle and then roll it out into a larger 12" x 18" rectangle using a rolling pin.
  10. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the dough. Then roll it up along the long side until you have a nice tight log. Cut the 2 ends of the log off (it's mostly dough and no filling) and discard.  (or bake them separately so as to not waste food)
  11. Spray an 11" x 13" baking pan with oil. (or use whatever size pan you want to use-- I used a 9" x 9" square pan, plus the small paper loaf pan shown above and below)
  12. Using a knife, score the log into 12 equal pieces.  Start by placing a mark in the center of the log, and then in the center of each half, and then divide each quarter into 3. (see photo below)
  13. Cut the pieces with a knife or dental floss.  For the dental floss method, slide the floss under the log and align it with the score mark.  Wrap it around the log as if you're going to tie a knot, but pull the ends crosswise to cut the dough. (see photos below)  Place each piece cut side down in the pan.
  14. Second Rise:  Cover the pan with a clean towel and let the dough rise again in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until it has doubled in size.
  15. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  When the oven is fully heated, bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, or until they're puffy and golden.
  16. While the rolls are baking, make the glaze by blending the cashews, maple syrup, and water in a mini blender or mini food processor until smooth. Stir in the ground tea leaves.  
  17. When the rolls are done, transfer the pan to a wire rack.  Drizzle with the glaze. Eat while warm!

Some photos to help you with your sweet roll making journey:

Here's the dough after some gentle kneading in the bowl. (before the real kneading began)  


And here's the dough after about 150 turns.  It should feel smooth and elastic (like it's fighting with you, meaning it's an active dough). You'll know when to stop kneading when you poke the dough with your finger and it springs back up. (it's alive!)


Here's the scored dough.  (dental floss ready to do some damage)


Slide the dental floss under the log and align it with the score mark. (and get ready to witness magic)


Give the dental floss a crosswise pull and taa-daa!  You have a cleanly cut roll that hasn't been smooshed by a knife.


Sweet roll threesome. (prior to the second rise)


And because I hate wasting food, I also baked the doughy ends in paper muffin cups.


After all is said and done, I don't think the brewed tea in the dough did much to add any Earl Grey flavor.  You can probably skip that part and just use plain old water or unsweetened plant milk, even though it would be nice to know that you're eating bread that's been infused with tea.  Up to you.  The tea leaves in the dough also don't add much in terms of flavor, but I think they look pretty, so let's leave them in.  :)

The glaze may seem more like a watered down frosting, but it worked and I liked it. (because I put cashew cream on everything)  Feel free to make your favorite powdered sugar or vegan cream cheese based icing instead and add the Earl Grey tea leaves in at the end.


Of course you'll have to serve this with a nice, hot cup of Earl Grey tea. And if you're like me, you'll serve it on a handmade ceramic plate that says "vegan" on it.  :)  (available here)

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'My Eclectic Kitchen' Recipe App

What's this delightfully creamy and delicious looking thing, you ask?  It's one of the recipes from Chef Yvonne Ardestani's new My Eclectic Kitchen app, which features 120 vegan and gluten-free recipes.  If you're an avid vegan food Instagrammer like me, you probably know her as @yvonne_deliciously_vegan. Her passion for developing healthy and wholesome plant-based recipes is evident in this app and on her blog. (see my previous post featuring her fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe!)  This is the first recipe I've tried from the app and I absolutely loved it. It's a pretty simple and straightforward recipe, but with a strong wow factor.  (As in, I actually said "wow" out loud after taking my first bite)


As an unabashed Sriracha-addict I was naturally drawn to the homemade cashew-based Sriracha cream sauce that serves as the cheesy and gooey component of this lasagna. Technically, it's an 'Eggplant and Zucchini Stack' according to the app, but once you take a bite out of it you'll be reminded of all the scrumptious lasagnas (vegan or non-vegan) that you've enjoyed in the past. And I have a hunch that this may be your new favorite.  :)  There's no pasta involved, just luxurious layers of grilled eggplant and zucchini, perfectly complimented by the subtle heat of the Sriracha cream and Arrabiata sauce.  

I think I'll put this Sriracha cream sauce on everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.

The app includes a photo with every recipe, a thorough list of suggested pantry staples, and links to Yvonne's blog and YouTube tutorials.  Another useful feature is the ability to search for recipes by ingredient. As you can see from the screenshot below, the recipes range from beverages to mains to sweets (my personal fave).  I'm also impressed by the sheer volume of recipes included in this app. 120! Most vegan-focused apps that I've purchased come with half that number of recipes.  Even better, new recipes will be added as Yvonne creates them, so there's even more to come.


I can't lie:  I'm a crazy cookbook lady. I have stacks and stacks of cookbooks. But I also love recipe apps for their convenience and portability. Stuck on a delayed Wi-Fi-less train during the afternoon commute? (for San Francisco dwellers, this is an all too common occurrence) Well, now the crazy cookbook lady in me can open up this app and figure out what to make for dinner...or simply admire all the food pics and creative recipes. :) Likewise, as I meander through the grocery store or farmers' market wondering what to cook for the week, I can always open up this gorgeous and comprehensive app for inspiration.


And after making this awesome recipe from the app, I'm looking forward to cooking my way through all of the recipes. Stay tuned!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bites

Date caramel is one of my favorite indulgences.  Throw some dates in a food processor and boom: caramel! Okay, the "boom" may require scraping down the bowl of your food processor repeatedly, but eventually you'll end up with a beautiful, golden, creamy caramel.  This recipe is nothing fancy at all.  I just had a craving for date caramel, but decided to go a step further by dipping it in chocolate.  And with peanuts in the mix, these were reminiscent of Snickers bars.  Awesome.  Nougat-less, homemade vegan Snickers bars are fine with me. :)


Makes 6-7 large pieces 

Caramel Filling
10 large, soft pitted Medjool dates (they should be squishy)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1-2 tablespoons water (as needed to help with blending)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts 
  1. Blend all the caramel filling ingredients (except the peanuts) in a food processor until smooth. (this will take some time and scraping) 
  2. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and fold in the peanuts. 
  3. Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), place mounds of the caramel peanut mixture onto a plate or cutting board lined with parchment paper.  Flatten each mound with wet fingers if desired. (the mixture will be sticky)
  4. Place the caramel-peanut mounds in the freezer while you make the chocolate coating.
Chocolate Coating
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder
1-2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar or maple syrup (to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
  1. Blend all the chocolate coating ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Using a fork, dip the caramel-peanut mounds in the chocolate until completely covered and then place them back on the parchment paper.  Top with chopped peanuts if desired.
  3. Place the chocolates in the freezer to set.  (30 minutes or overnight; uncovered is fine)
I used a cookie scoop to make these, so they were pretty big.  You can probably squeeze out a dozen pieces if you make smaller mounds. For the coating, you can also melt a cup of chocolate chips with a teaspoon of coconut oil over a double boiler instead of following the recipe above. Up to you!

There's no need to thaw these before eating.  They're great straight out of the freezer. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.  But I'm leaning towards good.  :)

Enjoy!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

No-Bake Avocado Lime Tart

As seen in my last post, I'm really digging mini or single-serve desserts. For one thing, it prevents me from eating an entire full-sized cheesecake. (Gasp) And it also lets me try out different recipes without using up a ton of raw organic cashews, which aren't cheap, yo.  In this case, I only had 1/3 cup of cashews on hand anyway, so I could only take the single serve route.  I also wanted to make something to decorate with these beautiful golden raspberries from the farmers' market.  A little baby tart seemed like the perfect backdrop. :)


Makes one 4-inch tart (like one of these)

Crust
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon water (if needed to help with blending)

Filling
1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours; drained and rinsed)
Flesh from 1/2 of an avocado
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 to 1 tablespoon water (if needed to help with blending)
Berries or other fresh fruit for garnish (optional)
Hemp seeds for garnish (optional)
  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of your mini tart pan. Set aside.
  3. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth.  Add the water to help the mixture blend, if needed. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the mixture smooth)
  4. Spoon the filling mixture over the crust and smooth out the top.
  5. Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  6. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Top with fresh fruit and sprinkle with hemp seeds, if desired. Serve chilled. (If left out at room temperature for too long, it'll soften and melt)

This was so creamy and delicious.  As I mentioned it my last post, the Blendtec Twister Jar is great for blending small batches. However, a good personal blender or mini food processor will also work just fine.

I only added the avocado for creaminess, but now that I'm looking at the beautiful green filling alongside the chocolate crust, I'm thinking vegan grasshopper pie!  So, I think 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract would be a nice addition to the filling mixture.  Basically, it would be my last post, but with avocado used for color instead of spinach. :)  Something to try next time.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

No-Bake Mint Chocolate Cheesecake

I don't know about you, but I love the combination of chocolate and mint. I'll take it in any form...especially in the form of a cheesecake. :)  This recipe is for one mini 4-inch cheesecake (...since I probably shouldn't be left alone with a full-sized one).  If you'd like to make an 8-inch round or square version, you can double or triple the ingredients.  The spinach is only used for color-- you won't be able to taste it at all.  I also made a version using only mint leaves for both color and flavor, but it tasted a little funky. I'm not sure if my mint was bad or if I maybe used too much or too little, but in the end, I went with spinach and peppermint extract.  I never knew cheesecakes could taste so refreshing until now. (and not in a toothpaste kind of way)


Makes one 4-inch cheesecake (like one of these)

Crust
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

Filling
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours or overnight; drained and rinsed)
1 banana
A handful of baby spinach (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
A handful of vegan chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of your mini cheesecake pan.  Set aside.
  3. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the spinach leaves fully blended)
  4. Pour the filling mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle some chocolate ships over the top of the cheesecake, if using.
  5. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  6. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing.  Serve chilled. 
Pretty simple, huh?  I really loved the flavors here.  And the miniature size was great, as it didn't take up too much space in my crowded little freezer. One slice/wedge was also the perfect size for a sweet treat after (or before!) dinner.  I will note that the vibrant green color diminished somewhat in the freezer.  This is likely due to the absence of lemon juice, which would have helped to prevent browning.  In any case, it was still green and tasted good, so who cares!  

This mini-sized recipe would work well with a powerful personal blender (e.g., NutriBullet) since the small amount of filling ingredients may not blend as easily in a full-sized blender (I used a Blendtec Twister jar).  It'll still work, but it might just take some extra scraping to get the spinach fully incorporated. But even if there are a few visible specks of spinach in your cheesecake, it'll still taste great. (think rustic!)

Enjoy! :)


Friday, May 9, 2014

Tempeh Musubi with Purple Sticky Rice

My friend Rosie is vacationing in Hawaii right now and posted a photo on her Instagram page of a delicious looking tempeh musubi that she got at Peace Cafe in Honolulu.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to re-create it.  :)  I previously posted a tofu katsu musubi recipe that I thought was pretty tasty. But what caught my attention with Peace Cafe's musubi was the use of purple rice.  I'm a little obsessed with purple food. Fact. Plus, the tempeh looked like it was seasoned to perfection.  With just the photo to go by, this is what I came up with:


I used Rhizocali tempeh, which is also something that Rosie got me hooked on. It's organic tempeh made locally in Oakland.  Best. Tempeh.  Ever.  It has a moist, tender texture and fresh taste that I haven't found in other store-bought brands of tempeh. If you live in the Bay Area, Rhizocali tempeh is available at Mandela Market Place in Oakland, Republic of V in Berkeley, and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.  If you see it, stock up!

For added flavor, I simmered the tempeh in vegetable broth prior to glazing it with a teriyaki/Worcestershire sauce mixture.  You can use any sauce flavoring that you like...miso, sriracha, tamari, etc.  I just added the Worcestershire sauce because I thought my store-bought teriyaki sauce was a little too sweet.

For the rice, I used Alter Eco's purple sticky rice.  It's an heirloom medley of purple and white rice, so prior to cooking it looks like the photo below. But once cooked, all the grains become a beautiful shade of purple. If you can't find purple sticky rice, regular sushi rice or short grain brown rice would be just as good.


Makes 4 pieces

1 cup uncooked purple sticky rice
1 package of tempeh
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (store-bought or homemade; I used Organicville)
1-2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (I used Annie's)
1 nori seaweed sheet, cut into 4 strips
Furikake rice seasoning
Special equipment:  musubi mold (optional)
  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
  2. While the rice is cooking, cut the tempeh into rectangles.  If using a musubi mold, cut the tempeh into rectangles that match the shape of the mold.  (I was able to get 4 standard musubi-sized rectangles out of 1 package of Rhizocali tempeh)
  3. Combine the teriyaki sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Add more teriyaki sauce or more Worcestershire sauce, as desired.  Set aside.
  4. Place the tempeh pieces in a skillet.  Add the vegetable broth and simmer over medium heat until all the broth is absorbed.
  5. Add the oil and fry the tempeh on each side until lightly browned.
  6. Using a pastry brush or spoon, glaze the tempeh on both sides and all edges with the sauce.  Continue to simmer the tempeh in the sauce. (about 2-3 minutes on each side)
  7. Transfer the tempeh to a plate.  
  8. Check if the rice is done.  The rice should still be warm when assembling the musubi.  Have a wet towel around to wipe your hands since the rice will be sticky during musubi assembly.
Assembly: (using a musubi mold)
  1. Place a nori strip on a large plate or cutting board.  
  2. Lay the musubi mold base on top of the nori strip. (perpendicular)
  3. Place a piece of tempeh in the musubi base.
  4. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning.
  5. Next, add a layer of warm rice over the tempeh.
  6. Place the musubi top over the rice and press down. Remove the base by lifting it up while still pressing the top downward.  Then twist and slide the top off of the rice layer while gently pressing downward.
  7. Wrap the nori strip around the tempeh and rice.  Place seam-side down on a plate.  
  8. Repeat these steps with the remaining tempeh pieces.
  9. Sprinkle the finished musubi pieces with furikake seasoning.
If you don't have a musubi mold, you can just mold the rice into a rectangle using your hands.  I've never made musubi without a handy little mold, so I can't speak to how easy or hard it is to make musubi without one.  I guess it's not difficult, just a little bit messier. The musubi mold produces uniform pieces with nice straight edges and is also good to have if you're making a TON of musubi pieces, but it's not absolutely necessary. I saw an online tutorial where a cut out paper box was used as a mold.  And since musubi is usually made with Spam, many people also use the empty Spam can as a DIY mold. (...but Spam isn't an option here, natch!)

I thought this musubi was delicious. I love anything with furikake seasoning, so maybe I'm biased.  I can't say purple sticky rice tastes all that different from regular white sticky rice, but this was a beautiful purple feast for my eyes. I'd love to visit Peace Cafe one day and try their tempeh musubi.  In the meantime, I think I can get by with this version.  It'll be hard, but I'll try!  :)

Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homemade Bite-Sized Twix Bars

I've been a little obsessed with making chocolate candy lately.  Some raw and some not.  In a fit of boredom (read: massive chocolate attack), I decided to make vegan Twix bars last night.  Along with Whatchamacalit and Snickers bars, Twix was my favorite candy before I went vegan and started reading food labels (!).  There are numerous homemade Twix recipes out there, so my recipe isn't anything cutting edge, but I thought I'd share it anyway. These are somewhat labor intensive...you should probably only make these when you're bored and have absolutely nothing else to do. :) Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of each step in the recipe.  All I have is a photo of the finished product. Excuse my teeth marks...


Makes about 30 pieces

Date Caramel
1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates, packed
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or high power blender until smooth.  Depending on how soft your dates are or how powerful your machine is, this might take a while. 
  2. Scrape down the sides of your container a few times with a rubber spatula and add more water a tablespoon at a time if your mixture seems too thick and is not blending well. There may be small visible chunks of dates in the caramel...totally okay.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. (Note:  Do not place the caramel in the refrigerator at this point or else it will harden a bit and will be difficult to spread later.)

Shortbread Cookie (adapted from Christina Cooks)
1/2 cup avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of salt

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  The dough will feel wet, but that's okay.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or transfer to a large freezer bag and let it chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. 
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper (or in the freezer bag) so that you have a 1/4-inch thick rectangle/square.
  6. Cut the dough into rectangular strips about 2-inches long and 3/4-inch wide. If you rolled the dough out in a freezer bag, cut the bag open using scissors and peel off the top layer of the bag before cutting the dough.
  7. Transfer the strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  The dough will feel oily and delicate.  You may have to re-shape the strips a little once they're on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden.
  9. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 *** Assembly (Part One) ***

  1. After the cookies have cooled, spread 1-2 teaspoons of caramel evenly over each cookie and place them on a large plate.
  2. Let the caramel topped cookies chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the chocolate dipping sauce.

Chocolate Dipping Sauce
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Guittard Extra Dark)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
  1. Using the glass bowl double boiler method, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  Stir slowly using a rubber spatula. 
  2. Remove the bowl from heat when there are still a few whole chocolate chips left.
  3. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and completely melted.

 *** Assembly (Part Two) ***

  1. Remove the caramel topped cookies from the freezer.
  2. Using a fork, dip each piece in the chocolate sauce and roll it around until completely coated.  Let any excess chocolate drip off and then transfer to a parchment-lined cutting board or baking sheet.
  3. Repeat until all the pieces are coated.  At some point, the chocolate dipping sauce will start to feel thicker, making the bars harder to coat. If necessary, re-heat the chocolate briefly so that the coating is smooth again.
  4. Place the bars in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the coating has hardened completely.  
  5. Enjoy immediately (that's what I did!) or store the bars in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for a few days. (I have no clue how long these are supposed to last, but I doubt there will be any left after a day!)

These didn't taste exactly like Twix bars, but they were pretty close (better!) and definitely had the same texture:  gooey caramel, crispy cookie, and velvety chocolate.  And the good news is that these are a lot healthier with no margarine or artificial flavors. :)  I'm still not sure how many pieces this recipe is supposed to yield because I'll sheepishly admit to eating an unknown number of cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. Plus, I also reserved a small bit of dough to make little flower shaped cookies.  So, my 30-piece yield is just an estimate.  You may also want to cut your cookie strips wider, longer, thinner, etc. or layer on more or less caramel.  We're talking infinite Twix possibilities here...it's up to you!

And since we're talking Twix, here are a few other awesome recipes to try:

Homemade Crispy Twix Bars (from Oh She Glows)
Healthy Twix Bars (from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Gluten-Free Vegan Twix Bars (from Fork and Beans)
Raw Double Twix Bars (from Fragrant Vanilla Cake)

It would also be nice to have the following to go along with this recipe:

  • Self-restraint (optional)
  • Elastic waist pants (helpful, but not required)
  • Friends and family with whom to share your fabulous homemade vegan Twix bars (good to have)
  • Unbridled generosity if sharing with complete strangers (unlikely, but wouldn't this be great?!)

Enjoy! :)