Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everybody's working for the weekend...

At least I am. Now that I'm working two jobs I find myself counting down to the weekends. Time to relax with my family, read a good book... and of course my favorite part of any weekend? Brunch.

Ian & I tend to do brunch at least once a weekend. We may go down to Sunnyside (the cafe I bake for) or just eat scones in our pj's at home, but brunch is definitely something we love. This weekend marked our "three monthaversary" and it's the weekend before Ian turns a quater century old so I decided to go all out and make French Toast & Tempeh "Bacon". We loved it so much on saturday that I replicated it on Sunday. It may become a weekend tradition.
I modified the recipie for "Fronch Toast" in the Vegan with a Vengeance Cook Book, the smoked tempeh bacon is the exact recipe from the book, and the basic staple recipe I've seen just about every where for tempeh bacon.

I remembered French Toast as a child having vanilla & cinnamon/sugar. Which are omitted from the VWV recipe. I am one of the rare birds out there who absolutely hates cinnamon. I hate the way it smells, and certainly the way it tastes-- so I left out cinnamon in my peices of toast, though I did sprinkle a bit in my husbands batch.

On to the recipe....
A Loaf of Italian of French Bread, stale (Saturday we made it with stale bread, Sunday I used fresh there was really no difference in flavor or texture to be honest)
1/2 cup soy creamer (which we didn't have so I just used soy milk)
1/2 cup rice milk (which we didn't have so I just used soy milk)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup chickpea flour (I only have chickpea and fava mixed flour so I used that and there was no problem)
3 teaspoons vanilla (my addition)
1 cup sugar sprinkled with a teaspoon (or two) of cinnamon (my addition)

Slice the bread into 1" rounds. Pour the soy milk (or creamer/rice milk) into a wide shallow bowl. Mix in the corn starch and stir until fully dissolved. Add the chickpea flour and stir until dissolved. Add vanilla extract.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil (we used seasame oil) to create a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet. Soak the bread slices in the soymilk mixture, toss in the cinnamon sugar and transfer to the skillet. Cook each side for about 2 minutes. They should be light brown with dark flecks of brown.

I slathered on a little earth balance and served immediately. Delish.

In other news, Ian & I have found a new obsession. Coconut Bliss "ice cream". It is vegan. It is gluten free. It is soy free. It is organic. It has NO SUGAR. It has FOUR INGREDIENTS. It is in a word... incredible. Unfortunately it's a small local company from Eugene OR. so their distribution is limited to Northern California and Oregon. But if you're in those areas it is SO WORTH hunting down and divoring. Honestly, it's better then high end "real" ice cream. We tried the cappucino flavor and were floored. There was a LIGHT hint of coconut (since it's made from coconut milk) but nothing over powering, just gave the coffee flavor of the ice cream a bit more depth. It was deliciously creamy. It's of course high in fat and calories... but supposedly coconut fat is that "good for you" fat (and I don't care, this stuff is good for my morale). And they don't use sugar! It's Agave.

I finally got my two pound sample of Treeze which everyone has been salivating over. I'm going to try it in a "cheese" soup... see if it really stands up to the melt test.

Ian's birthday is Weds, so we're having a picnic themed birthday party (not enough chairs to seat guests? no problems, make it picnic themed!). We have all kinds of guests coming... a glueten free vegan, a freegan, and my favorite New Zealander who just doesn't get the whole "no meat" concept. It shall be a grand meal. I'm making rainbow cakes! So I will post about that soon!

Until then, here is the husband and I enjoying our favorite American brewery, Rogue.
That's me feeling like a complete dope for doing the Rogue brewery's iconic fist. Ian made me do it!
They had Dachshund on the menu... as an owner of a Dachshund I do not approve (though is is kind of cute they called them "Haute Dogs").

I made Ian do the fist (:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The truth...

Truthfully, there are a few things I miss now that I'm a full fledged, card carrying vegan. Not enough that I regret my decision, and not enough that I would momentarily forget about all the gross stuff thats in it or anything. Just stuff I see on menus and wistfully wish they weren't made with milk from a cow's mammary gland.

I am on a mission, to veganize these particular non-vegan dishes...
Creme Brulee my all time, favorite desert. My "go-to" dish at any fine dining establishment. Lots of restruants don't get this right-- no matter how much cream or how many eggs they may use. I've gotten soggy topped, cold topped, pudding rather then custard more times then I'd like to recall. This dish has many variables-- much less adding in the "vegan" aspect. On top of it all, it may be the one desert in history I've never made. Being that it was my favorite I never wanted it to feel like a "chore" to make. Just a treat. Well I miss it and I will figure out someway to veganize it. So far I've found this which seems like a nice jumping off point, I am going to over view some other (non vegan) recipies and see what I can come up with soon.
Ranch Dressing, lets face it, I was one of "those" people. I rather liked the taste of ranch dressing, and often preferred it over the taste of my salad. I liked it in mashed potatoes, I liked it on french fries... anything and everything. I never ate the stuff from bottles, only homemade or in a restaurant (and boy did it piss me off if you could tell they used one of those Hidden Valley packages...). Tonight I broke down and attempted a vegan ranch I came up with on the fly... equal parts Veganise & Soy Milk, garlic powder, dill, pepper, etc. etc. If it comes out well I will post about it, if it comes out poorly I'll probably still post about it. I'm giving it overnight in the fridge to allow flavors to meld.Blue Cheese Dressing this actually calls for a story because I never liked blue cheese. I never touched the stuff, or in an attempt to see if my taste buds matured a small taste of blue cheese left my nose wrinkled and my palate rather unhappy. Until I tried the dressing at the restaurant I was serving at my senior year in college. We had to try all the dressings, one of our selling points was our "fresh in house" salad dressings (which were truly incredible)... the dressing was good. Damned good. And thus my love affair with blue cheese began, similarly to Ranch, I never touched the stuff from bottles and was quite weary of it at restaurants. I never made it on my own... and I know it'll probably be impossible to replicate... but I'm going to try. All this talk about dressings must make some of you think that I'd like anything drinched in Mayo-- which is completely untrue and weird. I hate mayonnaise and have my whole life-- I even have a rule that its not allowed in my car because the scent makes me down right ill. That being said, I've never had a problem with Veganaise-- though I wouldn't ever top a sandwich with it.

Brie I know, I know wishful thinking... but boy that would make me happy!

I have attempted other non-vegan favorites with steller results:
Case in point
Nutella vs. "Knew"tella. My version is simple and delicious, fresh Hazelnuts ground with peanut oil, cocoa powder and Earth Balance buttery spread... even better then the real thing if you ask me, or my husband. The texture is different (not as smooth) and it has a "dark" chocolate flavor vs. the "milk" flavor of the original... both of which I prefer.

Clotted Cream vs. I can't think of a clever vegan name for Clotted "Cream". My version is (as far as I can recall) spot on for taste. The texture is a bit thinner-- but not enough to mar the delish spread on anything really... scones, cookies, bread... we've eaten it on pretty much any baked good out there and lots of good for you fruits and stuff too (cuz I mean really does fruit have to be good for you ALL the time, spice it up a bit, geeze). The recipe for my clotted cream (and scones) can be found here, just a few posts down

Lastly, and certainly not least. Cheese cake. My original version of cheese cake wasn't that great by culinary standards in the first place. In fact, when we learned how to make it in High School Home Ec, we called it "ghetto" cheese cake because we were insensitive brats who couldn't understand that people who lived in the "ghetto" didn't worry about things like cheese cake. But y'know stupid kids and all that. So my original "Cheesecake" which I would make anytime I was interested in shoving sugar and fat down my gullet (not often) was comprised of a tub of cream cheese, some vanilla, and some sugar mixed together and poured in a prepared pie crust. I never liked "real" cheese cake-- maybe because it tasted like... cheese? And I thought that was weird? Who knows. My vegan version is just Better Than Cream Cheese with vanilla, and sugar (and this time, chocolate chips) poured into a prepared wheat pie crust. It got the job done. The job meaning satisfy my sweet tooth in less then 15 minutes. By no means something I'd make often, or recommend making often, it just tastes good enough to get the job done and takes no time in the world. And no oven to boot!

In rather sad news (and probably why I haven't been baking this week) my wonderful, cheap, little hand mixer bit the dust last weekend making vegan chocolate chip cookies (that were gross by the way, totally not worth busting my mixer!). It was just 6 months old and cheap, but will be missed....

In other news, time to convince my hubby that refund money would be well spent if going towards a stand mixer... an orange stand mixer... to match my blender of course (:

Monday, March 17, 2008

food & fashion? life is good.

things are going super well on the baking/home front.
my "real" job? not so much. i'm supossed to be part time and work from 10-2 everyday, i've been there past 6:30 everyday for the past three weeks. uck.

i ordered some of the pre-release of teese and hopefully it'll be coming soon(ish). i'm excited about it's "meltability"... i really want to try and make a beer/cheese soup... we'll have to see how melty it can get! i'll let you know (with pictures) once it gets here!

hope all is well with you! here is a picture of my "family totem pole" lylah bean, fitzgerald, and my husband's knees... just relaxing... on top of each other.