Saturday, May 30, 2009

R-r-r-r-r-r-andom. All out of order!

I don't particularly feel like sorting my pictures right now, there is just TOO MANY of them.  So, yes, here is the first, what a delight of puffy strawberry muffs in a basket!  Hannah's recipe is perfect for basic muffins, in fact I memorized it and freestyled a batch of chocolate-raspberry versions later while I was groggy and in my dad's kitchen at some ungodly hour of the night after breaking in un-announced and he didn't even know I was in town!  I raided the cupboards (after cleaning the place spotless, of course) and managed to at least find enough basic baking supplies to make them, lurvly brunette muffins, which will have a photo later in this post, because (of course) as I said - completely out of order.  Why not, right?

This is a banana-date scone from Veganomicon.  Somehow I thought it would be more decadent, being from the Vcon, but granted the whole introduction does mention it's healthy qualities explicitly, so I should have been duly warned.  Don't you love the background?  This was to fuel some tarot play time with a teatime friend who lets me bake for her (very nice of her).

I love Nigella, it's no secret to anyone who's met me (or at least heard her show playing from my bedroom whenever I need some serious calming and indulgence for the soul).  But strangely I've made .. well, none of her recipes so far.  That needed to be remedied, which I did with her moroccan-ish eggplant rolls with cinnamon, capers and bulgur ... YUM!!  Like what I imagine most of her food to taste like, it is soft, nuanced, silky and doesn't hit you over the head with electric or sour notes, so ultimately delicious, but I added more lemon. ;)

Pretty grill marks. :)

Ancient photo !!!!!
I made nachos with no nooch in the house.  I canvased the city (briefly) looking for a single serving of nacho chips just so I could have this to satisfy an immediate post-school craving.  It was everything awesome and more.  I made the cheese with cashews, oats, miso and hot chiles and it served the purpose mightily.

This is a pancake I made at my sister's house, using her mystery bag of mystery organic flour (we believe it was likely spelt), as well as some honey-like natural sugar, lots of coconut, some cashews wedged in there... maple syrup.  Other things.  It was so very very punk, as their larder was BARE and we still managed to have a sizzling merry breakfast on the hob in time for a decent 11 am-ish kind of hour.  I'd just read this book -- 
Which was a very anarchic ancient kind of (NON vegetarian) underground poetry/cookbook/highly vague anti-establishment montage of stuff, with many chapters waxing poetic about misty green mornings cooking rashers of bacon and potatoes and I was inspired at least to follow that part of the sentiment.  Much of this book was a little too dated and silly for me, but I liked the non-political jumbo.

As promised, a chocolate-raspberry mini-muff in a cup with Hagan-Daaz raspberry sherbert I found like a special present in my dad's deep freeze.  Hurray!  Went together like a dream, and though that iced stuff is sweeet, it is definitely top quality and I was definitely proud to call this lunch.

Like cocoa soldiers.  Did you know it took me about 27 minutes and the help of a disgruntled 13-year old to help me find where they had counter-intuitively stashed all their muffin cups?  (for the record: in the highest right invisible spot in the kitchen, behind the curry powder, above the plastic bags).  

There's more photo backlog, but this is probably browser-crashing enough with all the stuff in this post already, plus this random plate is a nice thematic end to a r-r-r-r-r-andom post.  This was my favourite dinner by SO much last week.  Probably the large luscious chunks of drippy tropical fruit had something to do with it, plus the arcade-style cacaphony of flavours all sharing one oddly harmonious restaurant-square plate.  There's papaya salsa, asian-dressed cabbage, an eggplant roll that didn't fit in the container I put in the freezer, and the BEST ASPECT OF ALL --- peanut butter and jam on rusks.  Perfection.

ps. I swear I'm not on drugs or even feeling all that strange.  I just rode a mechanical bull, though, (seriously!) and I'm mighty jazzed about that!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The 9 Days of Bagelry

It's kind of torturous, living precisely between the two most famous bagel shops in Canada, the smell just doughy, sweet, redolent down the avenues whenever I go shopping... I grew up on these things, fresh montreal-style bagels (chewier than most) hot out of paper bags at a moment's whim.  They're cheap and carby and never need much more than a bit of buttery spread or cream cheese to achieve bread nirvana and OH how I've missed them.  So... I thought it about time to take matters into my own hands and just make some!  I guess I figured it would be difficult, but this is actually one of the easiest bread recipes I've made in some time.  I also couldn't leave well enough alone in the creative noodling department (of course!) and made 9 individual flavours, kneading in little special things into each little dough blob.  I ran out of blobs before I ran out of ideas, but these were so easy to make that when I'm not sick of bagels anymore I can make some again super quick. ;)  

I also found it pretty necessary to make some sort of cream cheese to go with them -- it's almost half the deal, at least for my own nostalgia.  The slightly sour tang and creaminess on sweet and seedy bread.... zomg.  Thankfully I remembered about Bryanna Clark Grogan's Boursin-style spread, because it hit the spot really perfectly, AND it didn't call for nutritional yeast at all which I think would have messed with what should be a mild-flavoured thing.  It's just cashews and EB and miso rocking this out, and soooooo yummy.  

haha, oh CURRY BAGEL.  You were variant no. 2 and I was still such a novice at the "rise & boil" method that I forgot to oil the baking sheet you rose on!  Sooooo wonky looking and the crumb was kinda off since I had to scrap you all out of symmetrical wack, BUT still really good.  Curry powder and cumin seeds in this one.

Sunflower seed and golden B.C. syrup (to kind of take the place of honey).  Expectedly so crisp and fluffy inside, I ate it with loads of Boursin and extra syrup.  Oh, and I packed it for lunch to eat after a 2-hour lecture class and it was still crunchy-fresh even by then!

Garlic, olive oil, herbs.  Too much salt, but still pretty nice.  Oh!  And I should take a moment to mention that I boiled these in water with a bit of sugar to approximate the honey water that the real bagelries use.  I stopped doing that to the last few because I found it too sweet... but it's worth experimenting with, as a method.

Green chile chopped up inside, on a sandwich with VeganDad's lunch slices (A++ on this flavour).  Subtle fruity heat!

Onion, with herbs on top, on another sandwich because I pretty much died and went to lunch heaven with the first one and had to repeat it.

Another A++ flavour -- Sundried tomato and red chile flakes!  Here you can see it bathing in (sugar-free) water this time.

And I'm impatient, I really am.  If I were different I may have waited until I actually baked the last two flavours to make this post.  But I figured that Isa's Brunch Book bagels would be taking the blogs by storm pretty soon and I should post now while I can!  Plus, seeing them in fossil-form is pretty important to the whole process.  I didn't mention, but I froze them just after the second rise, right before they were to be boiled.  Then all I had to do was pull one out 45 minutes before I wanted to make it, let it defrost and puff a bit, then boil and bake and eat!  I'm glad my oven is so small or I'd feel bad about gas, but it really is small, and I'd have no idea what to do with more than one at a time, really.  Anyway... It's also really nice to know I have a few stored away.  I saved the weirdest one and the best one for last -- 1 goji matcha, and 1 cinnamon raisin, and I'm gonna have that cinnamon raisin drowned in EB and it will be glorious, I just know it, with hot hot hot tea on the side and a crossword if I can get my hands on it and one more long-time craving finally sated at the hands of homemade how-to-do. :)

Seriously. !!

(some thoughts for later: chocolate chunk, lavender, zaa'tar spiced, mixed olive, walnut and spice, annatto-yellow, green peppercorn, corn & coriander, cranberry & pepper, flax!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nuggets! Golden nuggets!

Just a quick post and a recipe -- I made the CUTEST little nuggets ever maybe a week ago, 'cause everything's somehow tastier in nugget form.  It's the option of dipping sauce, I think, and the wee little crunchy size, not to mention the childhood regression factor and how darned snacky they are.  But anyway, not to wax poetic about nuggs for too long... here's the recipe.  It's pretty straightforward (although I'm probably just saying that because I think my cooking is basic and it's not, no not really), mostly an adaption of the Spicoli Burgers from ED&BV except with tahini because I was craving it mad-like at the time and I really wanted to know if tahini and ketchup and mustard could ever possibly navigate the same food-form and still be edible (they can).  And also it's a half/half mixture of millet and brown rice because that's what I had, but also because millet makes perfect nugget mash (turns into a binder!), and I changed the spices, yeah.  AND these taste really good and you should make them and plum sauce up there was not necessary, but the Maple-Balsamic-Mustard Coleslaw c/o Sarchan at Emo Potato was.

/long snackrant

Golden Snack Nuggets
makes about 17

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup shredded zucchini

2 cups cooked brown rice/millet mixture
1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp tahini
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp lemon zest
handful of toasted sunflower seeds
salt & fresh black pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat and cook the onion a few minutes, until slightly soft.  Add the garlic and zucchini, sprinkle a touch of salt and cook another 3-4 minutes.  

In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables with the rest of the ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) and mix well.  With your hands!  (That's important so the millet gets mushed). Cover and chill for at least an hour, then take it out and make 2 tbsp-sized balls with it, gently squish into shape then roll in the bread bits.  

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are golden and the texture is firm.  

OR these freeze like a dream!!!  I ate 4 right away and stashed the rest for later.

Pre-hot box.  Pretty adorable!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chocolate being a subtle theme...

Liz Holding Food Gallery: entry #27 - BROWNIE-STYLE

I tried T'ai Chi today for the first time!  That's got nothing to do with chocolate, sure, but I feel really good right now!  Like a natural chocolate high.  Or a, uh... non-sugar induced high, yes.  Seriously though, I feel like a dancer, I bounced all the way home in my high tops, and then  threw together the roasted vegetables I'd made that morning into some whole wheat penne and home-soaked chickpeas for a really attractive dinner.  It needed something parmesan-y, but I have leftovers to subject to ground almond & lemon zest, there is always tomorrow.

So back to cupcakes!

I made the Brooklyn Brownie cupcakes for a friend's 25th birthday in the park.  We played duck duck goose, Stella Ella Ola, a fun game called Sheep... I love being a nonkid, it's so natural to be.  And the cuppers were a big hit!  These are dense dark weighty cakes with a huge woodsy whiskeyness that probably needs refreshing milk around for maximum enjoyment, but definitely brownie-ish and definitely good.  Super moist, too.  I think I like the regular chocolate VCtotW recipe better, but hey, I got to bake with whiskey, and I've been wanting to do that for, like, ever!  

Then something a little more virtuous... I made the Mole Roasted Cauliflower from the Swell cookzine that involved - of course! - cocoa powder.  REALLY good preparation for cauliflower, I had to resist buying another whole head and roasting it up the exact same way, which says something, that I would repeat a recipe so soon.  Not that it was hard to eat a whole giant head of this, it's pretty addictive like better than popcorn good.  It was the star of the plate next to the mango slices, and some creamy mint & basil polenta I made, but actually the whole combo worked really well and I recommend it - mango with dinner I mean.  (what?  mango with everything!!  of course!)

Oh yes yes, I made some luncheon meat, via Vegan Dad's recipe.  It is a bit dry as he says, but the flavour and texture is eerily spot on and I made some really satisfying sandwiches and I froze most of it into little single-servings for later.  Next time I thaw out a packet I'll be sure to have some cheap yellow mustard around, because it would just work with this stuff, mmmm yeah.

What else?  Tofu nuggets!  I saw the Tofu Skewers with Espresso BBQ Sauce on Vegan Appetite and knew exactly what to do with the half pound of tofu I had in the fridge.  I'd not skewered food before, and you know, it actually does make a difference to the flavour!  The leftover tofu-bobs I cooked sans-impalement were less succulent and fun.  Like, you couldn't gnaw on them at all, boo, I like skewers now.  Oh, and the sauce was great!  I added cayenne cause I can't leave well enough alone and insist on mouth burning when it comes to anything BBQ.

Right, and finally, this is definitely the result of my new love affair with my wonderful freezer.  Never could have concocted something so specific without being able to freeze tiny bits of things throughout my cooking.  The whole door is filled with single cookies, 1/4 cups of icing, cake shavings, and other fun detritous I collect, mwahaha.  For this little cake that I made for a dinner on friday, I started with a disc of leftover Brooklyn Brownie cupcake (the recipe really does make a LOT of extra batter).  Then I made a base cheesecake cream in the blender, divided that into two and stuffed one with melted chocolate and the other with peanut butter.  I layered and baked that at 350 for 45 minutes, then I made a quick chocolate agar-gel for the top and was really really pleased with myself for rocking agar finally.  And then!  Crushed-up peanut butter cookies for the sides.  You know the awesome kind that are essentially just peanut butter and sugar?  Yeah, those kind.  And I almost forgot - star dollops of leftover chocolate cupcake frosting!  PIMPED.  OUT.  

Now I just need to get myself a cheesecake tin that's bigger than 5" across. ^_^;

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Corn-of-the-Sea Chowder

This might be the most delicious soup I've ever made.  I don't even usually like creamy soups, but this one has ocean in every bite, and the tofu bits get all soaked with the richness and get buttery, and the veggies are... in giant chunks!  Which is fun!  I have to thank the Sexy Vegan in huge part for a lot of the tasty tricks involved (nori seaweed!  cashew cream!), but here's my specific take on the method.  So so so so good.

Cashew Cream

1/3 cup cashews
1 cup water

- blend together in a blender until very very smooth and liquid-y creamy


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, in 1/2" pieces
1 large stalk celery, 1/2" pieces
1 medium red potato, chunks
1/4 lb. extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
fresh black pepper
enough water/broth to cover (4-5 cups?)
1/4 cup white wine
**Cashew Cream
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp margarine
1/2 cup corn niblets
1 sheet nori seaweed
dash of liquid smoke (optional but approximates bacon)
salt to taste

- okay!  Saute the onions over medium heat in a large soup pot until starting to soften, then add the carrot, celery and potato and cook another 5 minutes or so, just til things look golden.  Add the tofu, spices, broth, white wine and cashew cream and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and beginning to break down, then add the vinegar, margarine, corn, nori seaweed, smoke flavour (if using), and adjust seasonings to taste.  Eat while hot, sprinkled with bacon bits and with crackers or biscuits on the side.  Magnifique!

For a technicolour moving-pictures version, with drunkennesss and tempeh and fancy mushrooms and robot voices------->