Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Egg" Salad Snackies

The one thing I missed most in Mexico (besides Wyatt of course!) was cooking.

It was surprisingly difficult to go the duration of 6 days without cooking a single thing! So, naturally, my first day back I went on a shopping and then embarked on a cooking escapade! I've been making all kinds of delicious things to keep around the house and this "egg" salad is among my favorite.

It's made with a tofu base and Vegenaise and tastes strikingly similar to Toby's Tofu Pate only thicker and even more delicious.

There's so much you can do with this stuff. It's a great dip or you can make a sandwich out of it or add it to a salad or just do like I did and put it on some bread and snack it up! 

I love leaving it around the house because it's an easy, healthy and filling thing to just grab and go or snack on when you're hungry. Noms!

The recipe is also relatively flexible; after you get the base ingredients, you can really add whatever kinds of spices/sauces you want to it. Naturally, my version is spiked with a good shot of Sriracha but you can also reduce the Vegenaise and add in your favorite salad dressing or other flavored spread. 

Tofu "Egg" Salad
  •  1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/4 cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayo
  • 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Bragg's liquid
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 large green onions, diced
  • Fresh cracked pepper
Optional ingredients (pictured in my recipe above)
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 large pickle, diced
  • 2 tsp pickle brine
Start by crumbling the tofu into a large bowl.

Then add in all the wet ingredients and spices and mix em' in! Finally, fold in your veggies, top with some fresh cracked pepper and munch!

So easy! Double the recipe and leave it in a big bowl to snack on whenever!

Live long and prosper. Snackie style!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vegan Travels -- Mexico!

It's been a crazy week!
Thumbs up!

Two pretty significant life events occurred this week:

1. I walked in my college graduation ceremony.

Really, quite exciting. 

2.  I went to Mexico!!!
Gettin my tan on!

 Woo woo! Such a nice reprieve from the Oregon weather.

I am continually shocked and pleasantly surprised by the increasing amounts of vegan options that are available everywhere I go. From the plane ride to the resort, an assortment of animal-product-free items were not only made options if requested but were actually prominently displayed on the menu.

Even airplanes have now jumped on the healthy eating, cruelty-free living bandwagon.

I'm not usually one for airplane food, but Alaska now has these neat little "snack packs" aaaand, yep - you guessed it - they now have a vegan and gluten free option!

I took photo evidence:

Multigrain chips! Snack olives (I don't know how I feel about those)! Hummus! Almonds! Fruit leather! Espresso dark chocolate!

I mean, yum! So great that airlines are making the effort to accommodate dietary restrictions. If you might have noticed, all of the items except the snack olives in this snack pack were also Kosher.


Props to Alaska Airlines!!

The next vegan meal I had was at LAX - Starbucks fruit cup and a Clif bar because I didn't want to spent $10 on a salad but we won't elaborate on that.

When I actually arrived at the resort the first thing I had wasn't food either.

It was this:

Mango margarita for the win!

These things were like crack. So so good.

Other drink highlights included the sunset (half mango and half strawberry margarita) and these pomegranate tequila shots which we slurped up when we went into town.

Among the only drinks we actually paid for during our whole trip...

So totally worth it.

Now onto the food!

Every morning for breakfast I started with a plethora of fresh fruit including (but not limited to) papaya, mango, pineapple, water melon, apple, grapefruit and/or banana. Additionally, they had the most amazing refried beans that were totally vegan and made with vegetable oil so I ate some of those atop their jalapeno hashbrowns with pico de gallo, avocado and ketchup on top.

Strange amalgamation of food, I know. But after our daily morning gym routine, it was enough to get my my vitamins, fiber, protein and fats to really start my day off right! They also had these amazing little rolls that I ate at every opportunity.

Lunch was a little more simple; usually I either ate a salad or these delicious veggie tacos that they would make special for me :)

Also served with guacamole and beans. Yummy!

The sun was so bright it was difficult to take pictures, but you get the idea.

Dinner was where we mixed it up a little bit. The definite highlight was the sushi that they made - also served with edamame and vegan fried rice! They made the single greatest avocado rolls I have ever experienced, which of course I didn't take a picture of because I would get too excited and gobble them up. But I did manage to take a mediocre picture of the cucumber roll which was good but not as good as the avo roll.
Usually they were served wrapped with actual pieces of vegetable instead of whatever this orange stuff was but it depended on the sushi chef.

So cute though! They even served the rolls with a little beet flower in the middle and extra carrots and wasabe. I was totally in love with their sushi, it was so fresh and satisfying.

On one of the last nights we were there we went to the Pueblo Bonito Blanco - the sister resort of the Pueblo Bonito Rose' where we stayed - and ate at their slightly more upscale restaurant.

I was happy that they had vegan food listed on the menu, however it wasn't very good :/

We started with these rolls, served with a fruit flavored oil and vinegar combo (delicious).

The half eaten roll on the right was vegan, the roll on the left was not but we got 4 total so I ate the vegan ones and left Colin with the croissant-imitators.

On of the seafood dishes that Colin ordered had a pomegranate salad on the side which I took the liberty of eating that was actually really good.

But the main course that I ordered, the roasted veggies, tofu and mushrooms, was lackluster at best.
To be fair, this picture doesn't exactly do it justice, but you get the idea.

Veggies and tofu and weird tasting mushrooms. Grilled. And then DOUSED in oil and vinegar and spices. Seriously. They were practically drowning in liquid.

Just goes to show that sometimes cooking veggies can be more difficult than you would think. It's actually really hard to get them seasoned correctly, textured right and cooked evenly. The Pueblo Bonito Blaco, who gave veggie cooking a valiant effort to be sure, did not quite hit the mark. I tried everything ont he plate but ended up leaving most of it.

Still! Vegan food on the menu at a resort's upscale dining restaurant is a great step - now they just need to learn how to do it right ;)

Overall, this trip was a success in terms of vegan food and I was pleasantly satisfied with the healthy and well proportioned options I found as a vegan.

I even met two other vegans at breakfast one morning who had a similar experience! They were even a little more hardcore than me and talked to the chef who made them special vegan items like lasagna with veggies instead of noodles and some other pretty impressive sounding dishes.

That's not my style so much. I really like to see what I can do with the menu in front of me before I ask for special dishes. It's just an easier, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable way for me to do veganism. But to each their own!

Live long and prosper. And travel vegan!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fried Okra, Green Beans and Sundried Tomato Sausages

Every once in a while I relinquish my stronghold over the kitchen and allow Colin to fry, saute, marinate or grill something. I essentially have to leave the kitchen because otherwise I will have a fit over how much oil, earth balance, sugar or BBQ sauce he throws into something. Really, I try to be good about it. I mean he is using olive oil and Earth Balance after all. I mean these are good fats, cholesterol and trans-fat free fats - how bad can they be? Still, I can't help but cringe when he throws two tablespoons of Earth Balance into the pan to cook green beens or douses veggies in olive oil to prep them for the grill. I am a baby and I minimize my use of added oils and fats to the point that it sacrifices taste - but that doesn't mean that Colin has to. And - as he so eloquently argued as he literally was pushing my whining self out of the kitchen - "What do you think you are eating when you go out Taylor? How do you think restaurants make french fries taste so good? THEY DEEP FRY THEM."

Fine. I'll allow it. In moderation. I mean he learned how to cook from Germans after all; what do I expect?

The Okra, Green Beans and Sauerkraut (which also has a good amount of EB in it) were his doing, the sausage was mine (mediocre first attempt). The only things that actually followed some kind of traceable recipe were the okra and the sausages so that is what I've got for you today.

Deep Fried Okra
(Adapted from Vegan Piggy
  • 1 pound fresh Okra (this was a "speckled shelf" inspired dish!) - chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup ground corn meal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic seasoning or garlic blend
  • 1 cup plain soymilk
  • canola oil for frying
Bring a 1/2 inch layer of oil in a fry pan up to heat over MEDIUM heat.

Stir together your dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Dip a handful of your okra pieces into soymilk and then toss them into the dry ingredient mixture.

Drop into the hot oil and let fry until golden brown :)

Remove from oil and set on paper towels to let the excess oil drain off.

Dip in sauce of choice and munch!

    Sundried Tomato Seitan "Sausages"
    (Adapted from Veggie Num Num)

    For the Broth
    • 3 cups veggie broth
    • 3 cups water
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 can of fire roasted tomatoes (you will only use 1/2 the can in the actual sausage recipe - below)
    • 1 Tbs Sriracha
    • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 2 tsp italian seasoning
    • Onion/carrot/celery scraps (any misc. veggie pieces you want to throw it to give it flavor)
    Bring all broth ingredients to a boil while you are preparing the sausages.

    For the Sausages
    • 1/4 cup raw cashews, lightly toasted
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 cup hydrated sun-dried tomatoes
    • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (preferably with green peppers in them as well)
    • 1/2 lb vital wheat gluten flour
    • 2 tsp paprika
    • 2 tsp cayenne
    • 2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
    • 1 cup veggie broth
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Kitchen Twine (we used dental floss - no kitchen twine to be found in my kitchen)
    • 6 pieces Cheesecloth (cut into squares that are about 6 inches X 6inches)
    Pulse the cashews, onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes in a food processor until chopped finely but not pulverized. They should still have a noticeable texture to them.  Add in 1/2 the can of fire-roasted tomatoes and pulse a few more times.

    In a large bowl, combine the gluten flour and all spices. Mix in the cashew/tomato mixture and then slowly add in the veggie stock and olive oil, mixing constantly.

    Mix all ingredients together for about 4-5 minutes or until you have an elastic, stringy dough.

    Divide the dough out into 6 pieces. Form each one into a sausage-type shape and place in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Wrap the cheesecloth tightly around the sausage and use twine/floss to tie it at each end.

    Place each sausage in the boiling broth and reduce to a simmer. Allow to gently simmer for 30-40 minutes.

    Remove sausages from broth, allow to cool slightly and then cut off the cheesecloth. In a large fry pan or on the grill, grill each sausage until golden on all sides.

    Top sausage with mustard and bottom with sauerkraut and munch!

    I can't wait to get better at this recipe. It has a lot of potential but definitely needs some refining. Colin loved them and I think all six were gone in a matter of two days, but still! They will be better next time :)
    Om noms.

    Live long and prosper! And share your kitchen...sometimes.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    I Have a Real Writing Job!

    Check me out!

    Yep...there I am! You don't really have to check me out. But you should check out my writing.

    I am doing some freelance writing work for this neat little news site called Bikya Masr. The editors are based in LA and Cairo and they cover a variety of global new issues. It's very cool and I'm loving it so far. See my first article here!

    They hired me to write primarily animal-rights and food related articles, meaning if you follow me on both sites you may seem the same recipes and photos twice, but you will also see a variety of other animal and food related content as well! So you should do it.

    They also have a facebook so my articles can pop up on your news feed :)

    But I will still be updating my blog regularly so don't worry! I am very dedicated to my online writing.

    In other, other news. I will be in Mexico next week staying at an all-inclusive resort and GUESS WHAT. They have vegan options on the menu!! So while I won't be posting recipes, I will be posting about my experience traveling and eating vegan - photos and reviews included!

    Hope you are all enjoying the beautiful summer weather!

    Live long and prosper to all my fellow writers, readers and eaters :)

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Vegan Cheese Fondue

    One of my biggest vegan pet peeves is when people spell cheese "cheez" as a way to denote its vegan-ness.  Just because vegan cheese doesn't contain milk doesn't make it not cheese. It's just our own version of cheese; we're expanding definitions here. Similarly, I hate it other vegan alternative words, such as: "Chik'n" and "Soysage" and "N'egg." Ew ew ew. Okay THAT is why people don't want to eat it. Who wants to eat something called a "Soysage, N'egg and Cheez" breakfast sandwich? SERIOUSLY. If the words themselves look processed, you can bet the food won't be much better.

    So, friends, this is not "Cheez" fondue, but rather, it is Vegan Cheese Fondue. There we go, nothing processed sounding about that (except for the fact that cheese in and of itself is processed but whatever). Calling a spade a spade: it's what I do best.

    This whole recipe was inspired by the lovely little fondue set that the boyfriend purchased for me, insisting that I would need it for my blog. Naturally, I rose to the challenge and decided to make fondue that very night - only, I didn't attempt chocolate fondue (as the words on the lip of the bowl would have you believe) - I decided to really push myself and try vegan cheese.

    It actually turned out phenomenally well. It was creamy and smooth and light tasting and it didn't leave you with a bloated-sticky sensation in your gut (it hasn't been THAT long since I had the real thing - I remember how it feels when it's down). Basically, the recipe was as follows.

    Vegan Cheese Fondue
    • 1 Tbs earth balance
    • 1/2 cup Daiya
    • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1 package soft silken tofu
    • 1/2 cup plain soymilk
    • 1/2 cup dark beer (we used Sp├Ąten Optimator - amazing flavor)
    • 3 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp Braggs
    • 2 tsp mustard
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp curry powder
    • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
    Begin to melt the Earth Balance and Daiya in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

    In a food processor, pulse the nutritional yeast and tofu until fully combined and then add to the pan.

    Add half the soymilk and half the beer to the mix, whisking constantly to avoid clumpy build-up.

    Whisk in the lemon juice, Braggs, mustard and spices.

    Continue to alternate adding beer and soymilk until you get the desired consistency and texture! Taste test as you go and add any additional spices or liquids as you see fit :)

    We paired our fondue with polenta baguette cubes, pears, apples, sauteed wild chantrelles, and grilled smart dogs. (The latter two ingredients not pictured) but it would be equally good with any variety of other vegetables (carrots and fresh bell peppers perhaps?) and/or roast apple sage field roast sausage. Mmm.

    We licked the bowl clean. 

    Live long and prosper. No vegan homonyms necessary.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Beet Greens, Bloody Marys and BBQ

    Oh hello first real day of summer! Glad to see you are finally here!
    In case I didn't get enough sunshine (and sunburn) at the wineries on Friday, I vowed to spend as much of my day outside in the warm weather as possible (despite the overcast cloudies that were shielding my beautiful sun from view). Saturday also happened to be my one day off in 10 days so you bet I was going to take advantage!

    My not-so-rigorous schedule went as follows:
    • 7am run in the sunshine. Got in a solid 4 and a half mile run before breakfast.
    • Came home shortly before 8 to the lovely smell of banana pancakes being cooked by my wonderful boyfriend. Fresh strawberries and homemade almond butter on top, naturally.
    • Did some dishes and headed out to the farmer's market at around 9:30 where the purchase of stunning beets, salad greens, two types of mushrooms (pink oyster mushrooms included! can't wait for the blogpost on those babies), a polenta baguette and a pint of start-of-the-season strawberries ensued!
    • Came home around 11 am and read some Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughter House 5) on our sunny porch in my recently acquired vintage lawn chair.
    • Jogged to the gym to do an arm workout with Colin around noon.
    • Put my swimmy suit on and packed a lunch of salad rolls, peanut sauce, sliced apples and pears and hazelnuts to take out to Fall Creek for a river picnic adventure.
    • Grabbed my tiny pomeranian and set out for Fall Creek around 2pm to lounge in the sunshine (this didn't quite go as planned but I've decided to erase those details from my memory as I only want sunny, happy memories from this day).
    • Got home by 6pm and prepared the dinner that you see pictured above!
    • Visited a graduation party in my exhausted, sunned-out state. 
    • Spent the rest of the evening watching The Wire.
    That is what I call summer.

    Anyway, back to the food.

    The meal you see above consists of:
    1. Grilled Portobello burger with market salad greens, fresh basil and shredded carrots
    2. BBQ'd sweet yellow corn-on-the-cob
    3. Beet greens sauteed with onion and garlic
    4. A habanero-infused tequila Bloody Mary with pickled green beans
    Mainly, I want to talk about the latter two meal components: The beet greens and the Bloody Mary.

    Have you ever cooked beet greens before? How about infused your own alcohol?

    Let me tell you, both of these things were new to me and they both turned out better than I ever could have expected, especially considering the rumors I had heard:

    Infusing alcohol is difficult, time consuming, and expensive.

    Beet greens are bitter with a strange, grainy consistency.

    Rubbish I say! Pure rubbish!

    Lemme tell you what's up.

    Habanero-Tequila Bloody Mary 
    • 1.5 shots of Habanero-infused Tequila (Recipe below)
    • 1 cup spicy tomato juice
    • 1 tsp horseradish
    • 1 tsp celery salt
    • 1 tsp vegan bacon bits
    • Pickled veggies of choice (we did green beans and green olives)
    • Lots of ice!
    Mix all ingredients in Powell's pint glass (or other cup of choice) and enjoy!

    For the Infused Habanero Tequila
    • 1 bottle bottom shelf tequila (honestly, don't spring for the expensive stuff because the habanero flavor will make the quality indistinguishable)
    • 3 habanero peppers
    • Glass bottle to hold finished tequila
    • Small square of cheese cloth
    Carefully cut the stems off the habanero peppers and remove the seeds.
    WARNING: DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES OR OTHER SENSITIVE BODY PARTS WHILE DOING THIS. Seriously. You will burn yourself. I even used gloves during this process because I wanted nothing to do with habanero juices on my skin.

    Cut the peppers into rounds and drop them in the tequila bottle.

    Let tequila bottle sit for as few as 3 and as many as 7 days.

    Place one layer of cheesecloth over the mouth of tequila bottle and strain the infused-tequila into a pretty glass bottle (you may need a funnel depending on the bottle you choose). This step is important because you want to make absolutely sure that there aren't any seeds or habanero pieces in your drinks (see related warning above).

    Viola! You have just drastically improved your already delicious bottom shelf tequila for a total cost of about $15 (includes alcohol, peppers, cheesecloth and $4 glass bottle from kitchen caboodle).

    Easy as pie! Actually, much easier than pie which I find to be a much more complicated process.

    Onto the beet greens!

    Beet Greens 
    • 1 Tbs olive oil
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • Greens from 5 large beets
    • 1/2 cup white wine or veggie broth
    • 1 Tbs Braggs or soy sauce
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
    Bring the olive oil up to temperature over medium heat in a large skillet. Toss in the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and continue to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes or until everything is softened and beginning to brown.

    Slice the beet greens off at the base of the beet. Then cut the bulk of the stems away from the leafier parts and set the leaves aside.

    Cut the red stem-like parts into about 1-inch slices and throw into the pan with your oil, onion and garlic. Saute for about 4 minutes, adding wine/broth as needed until the stems begin to soften.

    Cut the leafier parts of the beet greens into 1-inch slices and add to the pan. Add the braggs and red pepper flakes and continue to saute (adding liquid as needed, but don't overdo it because they WILL cook down) for another 4-5 minutes.

    Yummy yummy beet greens! Just as good or better as any other green, I would say. Redder, too! Use them as a side dish with your favorite pasta or BBQ meal!

    AND - Want to know the BEST thing about been greens?! They are attached to beets!! You can use the beets for an entirely different purpose (roasting, toasting, raw - whatever) - it's like two different vegetable dish potentials with ONE vegetable.

    Gosh I love beets and their greeny counterpart. Taken together, they may be my favorite vegetable.

    Live Long and Prosper! Summer style.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Raspberry-filled Rose Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream Frosting

    Guess who got her new piping tips from amazon today?!
    That's right kiddos, and new piping tips can only mean one thing: New Cupcake Recipe!

    Without further adieu, I give you the ultimate spring potluck recipe: Raspberry-filled, rose flavored cupcakes with buttercream frosting colored with fresh squeezed beet juice. Oh the lengths I go through for my baked goods. Not only did I have to wait on my piping tips to come, but then I had to buy rosewater (a totally random ingredient) and a narrow nosed squeeze-type applicator bottle (also can be used for hair dye) for this recipe. And then I forgot I didn't have enough cupcake liners so I had to run across the street and buy those too. Jeez cupcakes!! But they were TOTALLY WORTH IT - derrricious.

    For ze Cupcakes
    • 3/4 cup soymilk
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • A pinch of salt
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1/4 cup sweetened apple sauce
    • 3 tsp rosewater
    Preheat the over to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin!

    In a bowl, whisk your soymilk and ACV together and set aside for about 10 minutes to curdle.

    In your mixer, softly mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

    Keeping the mixer on low, slowly mix in the soy milk/ACV combo, followed by the canola oil, apple sauce and rosewater. Continue to mix until all the lumps have disappeared.

    Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling each one NO MORE THAN 3/4 FULL.

    Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. So Rosy, so delicious.

    Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then fill a narrowly tipped squeeze bottle (as seen photo right) with berry flavored preserves (if you use raspberry, you may have to cut the top down a little bit to keep the seeds from getting stuck). Insert the tip of the squeeze bottle as far down into the cupcake as it will comfortable go and inject filling into the center. You will be able to tell when the cavity you create with the nose of the squeeze bottle is full because it will start to run out over the top. Stop when that starts to happen :)

    Let the cupcakes cool the rest of the way and prepare to frost!

    For Ze Frosting
    • 1/2 cup vegan shortening (Earth Balance) - softened
    • 1/4 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance) - softened
    • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (Tofutti) - softened
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • 2+ Tbs fresh squeezed beet juice (you can get this at most markets with a juice squeezer)
    Cream the shortening, margarine and cream cheese together in a mixer. In about 1/2 cup batches, slowly add the powdered sugar, making sure to whip thoroughly between each batch.

    After the powdered sugar is fully mixed in, add in the beet juice and continue to whip until fully combined. This was really touch and go for me; I had no idea how much beet juice it would take or even if it would work at all but as I kept adding and mixing, it turned the frosting pink beautifully and you couldn't taste the beet juice flavor at all :)

    When the frosting is the consistency/color that you want, use a spatula to put the frosting into a piping bag and then pipe onto cupcakes!! Again, I'm still learning piping techniques but the tips made a dramatic difference in the present-ability of these cupcakes. Woo woo!

    I made these cupcakes for an architecture pot luck but they would stand up to any springy, lovey or baby-themed party as well. I'm thinking baby shower? They are kind of girly but I don't care - everyone loves cupcakes even if they are pink and raspberry rose flavored.

    Has anyone else worked with rose water before? This was my first time and the stuff sure is strong. I would love some other recipe ideas because I have a whole bottle now and need to use it!

    Live Long and Prosper. And rejoice over piping tips!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Dim Sum Extravaganza

    Dim sum is one of those dishes that could cause someone to think twice about being vegan. It almost never comes in a vegan form, so unless you figure out how to cook it on your own, it is probably something you won't have often (if ever - with the exception of Trader Joe's gyoza of course).

    Of course I believe that pretty much any dish can be made satisfactorily vegan. I love food of all kinds and I think it would be impossible (or at least much much more difficult) for me to be vegan if I felt severely limited by my options. But the reality is, once you stock your kitchen with vegan cooking supplies and once you get used to cooking vegan, your options are pretty much limitless.

    Hence, BBQ pork buns and gyoza.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 in difficulty and time consumption (1 being microwaving a frozen burrito and 10 being making lasagna from scratch, including the pasta, sauce and "cheeze") I would say the gyoza ranked at about a 3 and the pork buns were more like a 5 or 6. Any time you made dough from scratch it lengthens the cooking process for rising time so just something to keep in mind if you decide to attempt this.

    Gyoza/Shu Mei

    These gyoza/shu mei dim sum were super easy. Mainly because you don't have to worry about chopping/dicing everything too precisely because you just put it in the food processor in the end anyway - so keep that in mind while prepping. Proficient knife skills not required!
    • 2 tsp oil, for sauteing 
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1 cup shredded carrots
    • 2 cups boy choy, chopped
    • 1 cup edamame (frozen is totally fine here)
    • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
    • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes
    • 2 Tbs soy sauce
    • 1 package egg-free gyoza wrappers 
    • Water for steaming
    Saute onion and garlic until beginning to brown and then toss in the rest of the veggies, spices and soy sauce. Continue to saute for about 6-8 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked evenly.

    Remove ingredients from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse about 10 times (you want to maintain the texture, not make vegetable soup. You should end up with small chunks and no large pieces remaining).

    Make sure your gyoza wrappers are sufficiently defrosted (ours were frozen when we bought them). Take one wrapper and place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center (as much as you can fit and still fold it over). Wet the edges with your fingers and a tiny bit of water and then choose one of two methods:
    • a.) Fold the wrapper over into a half moon crescent shape to make the Gyoza or Potsticker
    • b.) Raise the edges of the wrapper up into the center and pinch closed to form a pouch shape (Shu Mei).
    Once you have all of your delicious little dumplings formed, bring about 1/2 of water to a boil in a fry pan. Place the dumplings in the water for about 4-6 minutes or until they turn translucent. I dry sauteed my gyoza in a separate pan before I steamed them to brown them up a little bit, but feel free to skip that step.

    I filled them a little full :)

    BBQ "Pork" Buns

    Ever since I discovered the wonders of jackfruit (which was like two weeks ago realistically, but still - it's been an imaginative two weeks) I have been scheming up ideas for how to use it. My sub-conscious must have been scheming too because I actually had a dream about making dim sum the other night and these BBQ pork buns were on my dream menu. Whenever I have a dream about making food (which is actually pretty often oddly enough) I always make it and it always turns out to be so good. I get tons of delicious and creative inspiration from dreams.

    For the Dough (adapted from this recipe)
    • 3 Tbs sugar
    • 1/2 cup warm non-dairy milk
    • 1/3 cup warm water
    • 2 tsp active dry yeast
    • 2 and about 1/4 cups flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    In a medium sized mixing bowl, dissolve 2 Tbs of the sugar in your warm liquids and add the yeast. Set aside and allow the yeast to active for about 10 minutes. Your liquid should have a nice frothy foam layer - that's how you know the yeast is still active.

    Add the final tablespoon of sugar into your liquid mixture. Slowly begin adding in the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go. Add in the full two cups and then use your discretion with the final 1/4 cup if the dough is still too wet or sticky.

    Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until smooth - about 5 minutes.

    Rinse out your mixing bowl and place the dough back in it. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes (it should have basically doubled in size).

    For the Filling

    While the dough is rising, start on your filling.
    • 1 can jackfruit in BRINE
    • 1 tsp cayenne papper
    • 1 tsp garlic salt
    • 1 tsp chipotle seasoning
    • 2 tsp canola oil
    • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp Braggs or soy sauce
    • 1 tsp Sriracha
    • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce
    • 1/4 cup water/broth
     Rinse and drain your jackfruit. Remove the inner core pieces so that you are left with the outer, more stringy bits.

    In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, garlic salt and chipotle seasoning. Coat the jackfruit pieces completely in the rub.

    In a medium sauce pan, lightly toast the jackfruit pieces for about 5 minutes over medium/low heat. Then add the oil, onion and garlic and saute the whole mixture for an additional 4-5 minutes.

    Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and simmer the mixture for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, use a fork to break apart the jackfruit pieces until it looks all stringy.

    Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

    After the dough is done rising, remove it from the pan and cut into 12 even sized pieces.

    Flatten a piece of dough into a circle that is about 5-6 inches in diameter and place a heaping Tbs of BBQ filling in the center. Bring the edge of the dough together in the middle and pinch firmly closed. Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces of dough.

    Cover the buns with some more saran wrap and allow to rise for an additional 10 or so minutes. Then steam each bun for 3-4 minutes in your steaming device of choice and enjoy!

    Viola! Delicious vegan dim sum! Now you don't have an excuse to not be vegan! :)

    Live long and prosper. And listen to your food dreams.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011


    I have been working on getting a cupcakes recipe right for a long time. I either can't get them to rise the way that I want or the frosting turns out like runny poo or I burn them or something equally unappetizing. 

    I am not a baker. But I'm learning and I'm beginning to master recipes and pick up skills that are making me a better baker and, as a result, a better overall cook.

    A couple of crucial things that I have learned about making cupcakes.
    •  Don't fill the cupcake liners too full. They really mean it when they say 2/3 full. Any fuller and they won't cook evenly and will become too dense and heavy and stay flat topped.
    • If using the apple cider vinegar-non-dairy milk curdling method (used as a butter milk substitute and works like a charm if done correctly) using so-delicious coconut milk will NOT allow the vinegar to curdle and therefore the effect will be lost.
    • If adding flavor in the form of liquid to cupcake recipes (as an alteration), make sure to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe so they don't turn out too runny (duh, Taylor, duh).
    • Vegetable shortening is the only vegan way to make frosting super fluffy (that I have found anyway). Margarine doesn't do the trick.
    • Resist the urge to just dump your powdered sugar in all at once. Really. If you sift it and then put it in in batches the frosting will turn out much fluffier and prettier.
    So far, those are my important lessons although I learn something new every time I take a whack at baking; with each new post, there will be new lessons :)

    Alright, so recipe time. This recipe is actually for red velvet cupcakes (but I didn't have any red food coloring sooooo they are just velvet cupcakes).

    • 1 cup soy milk (USE SOY - rice may also work but I haven't tried it)
    • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1/4 cup apple sauce
    • 2 tsp vanilla/almond/chocolate extract (whatever you have is great here!)
    • 2 Tbsp red food coloring (not pictured because I didn't have it...haha oops)
     Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (earth balance works beautifully here) - softened
    • 1/4 + cup tofutti or other non-dairy cream cheese - softened
    • 2 Tbsp vegan margarine (again with the earth balance) - softened
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    For the cupcakes:

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan.

    Pour your apple cider vinegar and soy milk in a bowl and set aside for about 5-10 minutes to curdle (this replaces buttermilk and will give the baking soda something to react with, allowing your cupcakes to rise). You won't taste the vinegar in the final product (or even really in the batter for that matter), scout's honor.

    In a separate bowl, sift/mix together your dry ingredients until completely combined.

    In your mixer bowl, mix your soy/vinegar mixture, canola oil, apple sauce, extracts and food coloring.

    With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until there are no lumps left.

    Pour batter into cupcake liners until each one is 2/3 of the way full (lesson learned, don't overfill!)

    Place in the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes.

    For the frosting:

    Cream together the shortening, cream cheese and margarine until nice and smooth.

    Slowly sift in your powdered sugar, making sure that each time you add more you give your frosting enough time to whip completely. After all the powdered sugar is added, whip for another minute or so and then add in your vanilla. Whip the vanilla in and prepare to have beautiful, fluffy vanilla frosting!!

    Helpful hint: Because I don't have piping tips or frosting bags yet (I ordered them on amazon today yay!!) I simply scoop  my frosting into a quart sized ziploc bag and cup and cut off a corner (about 1/4 inch) and use that to pipe my frosting! Not the best solution but it works in a pinch :)

    Clearly I'm still learning how to pipe. Baby steps, baby steps.

    Live long and prosper! And bake it up!