Thursday, February 26, 2009

It'sa pizza

What's better than a vegan pizza and a nice cold organic IPA? Not much. The two, when combined, are like a magical, stick to your ribs, cure all your ailments medicine. Add in episodes of As Time Goes By and you have a happy Meggie.

I make my pizza dough from scratch, though I've heard that Trader Joe's makes a vegan pizza crust that's pretty good. I use the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz, which was the first recipe I ever used and I love it. I do modify it a bit though; I replace one of the cups of all-purpose white flour with whole wheat flour. I find it gives the crust a little more oomph and also makes me feel less guilty.

Then I'll put some kind of sauce on. In a pinch, I use Trader Joe's fat-free pizza sauce - it tastes delicious, is cheap, and hey, fat-free! I've also made the pizza sauce from VwaV, which is great and really fresh-tasting. I've also used pesto (also from VwaV) and BBQ sauce (not together!), homemade (from Veganomicon or store-bought. Just be careful with store-bought BBQ sauce - not only do they often contain honey, they also can contain high fructose corn syrup - bleccch.

Before I put "cheese" or toppings on, I'll put down a layer of baby spinach. I stole the idea from Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, OR. It's just a way to get extra veggies into your pizza, and I love the taste! Be sure to pile it on, that shit wilts like whoa when cooked.

Lately I've been experimenting with cashew cheese. It's so delicious, and so easy to make if you have a food processor! It takes literally five minutes. I played around with this recipe last night; I added some extra lemon juice, as well as liquid smoke and a little salt. It's so creamy and yummy! No one will think it's cheese but it's so good, they won't care. Speaking of Pizza Research Institute, they have THE BEST vegan pizza "cheese"/sauce whatever you want to call it, and I'm pretty sure now that it's cashew-based, but apparently it's a big secret. It's bomb, though, if you're anywhere near Eugene, go to PRI.

Toppings. Whatever you want! The first vegan pizza I ever made (in summer 2007) was made from store-bought dough and no cheese subs, it was fabulous, and looked like this:

First vegan pizza I ever made - summer 2007
Olives, mushrooms, green peppers

The 2nd vegan pizzas I ever made looked like this:

Margarita with Teese
Pizza margherita with Teese, tomato, and basil

...and this:

Teese pizza w/onion, kalamatas, and pesto
Teese pizza with onion, chopped kalamata olives, and VwaV pesto

A week ago JP and I made this (ignore my "rustic" crust edges, there was an incident):

VwaV pizza crust, baby spinach, TJ's tomato sauce, potato, mushroom, red bell pepper, and garlic chunks

...and then last night we made this:

BBQ "chicken" pizza
VwaV pizza crust, BBQ sauce, baby spinach, cashew cheese, Light Life chik'n style strips, red bell pepper,and garlic, and, post-baking, cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes.

Anyone who says vegan pizza doesn't taste good needs to have a conversation with me.

Next up: soup and homemade tortilla chips!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More cookie love

It's grey, it's rainy, it's cold, and I'm PMSing like mad. The only prescription is more cowbell chamomile tea and...

COOKIES! More Isa & Terry tester recipes for you:

Spelt pecan fig drops (Isa/Terry tester)
Spelt Pecan Fig Drops

Starry Fudge Shortbread (Isa/Terry tester)
Starry Fudge Shortbread

Fruity Oaty Bars (Isa/Terry tester)
Fruity Oaty Bars (uncut)

Espresso Fudge Brownies (Isa/Terry tester)
Espresso Fudge Brownies

Nom nom nom. Wish I had those brownies right about now!

Next up: pizza!

Roasted brussies = <3

Neither Kelly nor I enjoyed brussels sprouts as children. In fact I think it would be more accurate to say we loathed them. Little boiled balls of leaves that didn't taste like anything were NOT my cup of tea. In fact the only way I could stomach them was by drowning them in fatty, unhealthy ranch dressing (sorry, mom!).

But the flavor of these little bundles of fiberful goodness changes completely when you roast them. They taste even more tender and delicious if you buy them at the farmer's market! And now I positively adore them! The outer leaves become hot and crispy and the inside gets a little softer and more palatable.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I generally use this recipe from the PPK blog, and add things if I feel like it. For this picture, I added a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar to the pan. We've also added chunks of garlic and lots of coarse salt. Try this lower-fat version from FatFree Vegan Kitchen, or this recipe for Blood Orange and Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Get Sconed!.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Trust a former brussels sprout hater - I've only got love for them now! I even eat slices of them raw in salads!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vegan treats - the only things that keep me sane!

Lord! This semester is murderous. Murderous! I barely have enough time during the day to cook a can of soup, let alone something vegan and fabulous. HOWEVER, when I have guests over, I allot a certain amount of time for baking and feasting - vegan food is always best when shared with somebody else, after all!

Here in Exhibit A I have Sunny Lemon Corn Muffins from the PPK recipe database. Delicious! I subbed tofutti sour cream for yogurt since there is no soy yogurt for at least a mile or two in any direction, it seemed to work out just fine! These guys were awesome (read: short-lived) companions during the recent rainy weather.

Exhibit B is our Seitankebabs! I had a plethora of seitan I had made while at home in Sonoma County with my vegan buddy Jon (also Isa's recipe) and decided I should try out the grillpan. Meg came and visited after brunch and we made seitan skewers. Witness the kebabbery:

Because of the shape of the seitan (I just had to insist we didn't cube them!) it was difficult to get good coverage on the grillpan, but I think they were pretty tasty. I love the texture of seitan. Meg says, sit down and eat already!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's day dinner

I've been so impressed by the valentine's day meals that other food bloggers put together. I wish I was that creative! I just made something I knew my man would enjoy. He's a big fan of tempeh and potatoes, so of course the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie in Veganomicon caught my eye...

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie (Vcon)

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie (Vcon)

...served with a big side of mustard greens, a la Ratatouille's shepherd's pie.

And the boy is also addicted to green tea in a big way, and I'd had my eye on the Green Tea Tiramisu from My Sweet Vegan for a long time. Now, I've never made tiramisu before, even as an omni, so I was pretty apprehensive. It TASTED amazing, however, mine did not look nearly as gorgeous as Hannah's (obviously!). My matcha wasn't quite as green, and my layers not quite as straight, but the soft sponge cake and delicious cashew matcha cream sent my tastebuds soaring! So don't judge my picture too harshly. If you try your hand at this, I would definitely recommend refrigerating your tiramisu overnight. I left it in the fridge for the minimum two hours, and it was yummy, but overnight the flavors really had a chance to develop and the cake was much more green tea-y. My parents and sister came over the next day and had some of the leftovers, and they all thought it was delicious (omnivore approved!).

Green Tea Tiramisu (My Sweet Vegan)

Happy (late) Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy (early) Valentine's Day!

Apparently Valentine's Day is supposed to be about buying expensive things and stressing over extravagant dinners and forced, awkward intercourse. Not for me, thankyouverymuch! I buy my own expensive things (cookbook addiction, anyone?), I stress over extravagant dinners NORMALLY, and I like my intercourse quick and angry. (Feel uncomfortable yet?)

No, for me Valentine's Day is all about baking! Baking what? Like you even need to ask...

COOKIES! More Isa & Terry testers, to be exact:

Hazelnut Fudge Dreamies (Isa/Terry tester)
Hazelnut Fudge Dreamies

I think these are my favorites so far! The filling is DIVINE! The whole thing is like a delicate hazelnutty fudgy puff of yum!

Chocolate marmalade sandwich cookies (Isa/Terry tester)
Chocolate Marmalade Sandwich Cookies

JP's classmates went nuts over these!

Tahini Lime Cookies 2 (Isa/Terry tester)
Tahini Lime Cookies

Coworkers loved these! Like a grown-up peanut butter cookie.

Linzertorte Thumbprints 2 (Isa/Terry tester)
Linzertorte Thumbprints

Brought these in to work today for Valentine's Day! So pretty!

All joking aside, I DO actually have a nice dinner planned for the boy tomorrow, so I'll be sure to post a review. As always, I'm making recipes I've never tried before, so we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chinese New Year Feast

Lucky cat

Gung ho fat choy! Happy New Year! Today is February 7th, which is the day of the Chinese New Year Festival & Parade in San Francisco! This year is the year of the Ox, which is JP's year, and since Kelly was going to be staying with us in Berkeley for the weekend, we decided to make a little Chinese New Year feast and celebrate!

Chinese Spring Rolls (unfried)
Chinese Spring Rolls

Hot & sour soup
Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup

Chinese savory crepes (more like pancakes)
Chinese savory crepes

Kelly and I (with some help from JP) made the Chinese spring rolls and Chinese savory crepes from The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh. I'd heard nothing but good things about this cookbook but was nervous to give anything a try; I'd never really done any but the easiest, most Americanized Asian cooking, and her authentic recipes often use equally authentic ingredients. I chose the spring rolls and crepes because they seemed easy, used ingredients that are readily available in these parts, and nicely complimented my choice of soup, VeganYumYum's hot & sour cabbage soup, and the soup and spring rolls used some of the same ingredients, which was convenient.

Happily, we found everything we needed to make these at the farmer's market, except the spring roll wrappers, which were procured earlier in the month at Berkeley Bowl, and the mung bean sprouts, which I was too lazy to go look for anywhere else, so we just left them out, and the spring rolls were tasty anyway. All three recipes were very easy to make, and were only time-consuming due to prep work, i.e., lots of chopping! My only complaint was that the savory crepes recipe needed almost double the amount of water called for. Our crepes turned out more like pancakes. They were still insanely delicious, but probably would have spread more with added water.

Chopping vegetables for soup

Everything tasted so yummy! The recipe called for deep-frying the spring rolls, but as I don't own a deep fryer (ugh, I would die within a week of self-induced saturated fat poisoning), we shallow fried half the spring rolls and left the other half unfried. We actually preferred the unfried ones. They're filled with a tasty mixture of cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, and leek, and tasted very yum dipped in a store-bought peanut sauce.

The crepes/pancakes were the hit of the evening! Basically just scallions and flour, they were so simple, yet so tasty! We ate these with a bottled plum sauce we picked up at the Thai market.

The soup really hit the spot, and would be great for any sicky-poos out there trying to beat the flu into submission: it's definitely on the HOT side of "hot & sour"! Plus it makes a HUUUGE pot of soup, which = lots of leftovers!

Chinese New Year Feast

We definitely can't wait to do this again next year, and I'm excited to try more recipes from The Asian Vegan Kitchen!

The two chefs!

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone!

Our happy little new year's shrine with sauce!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

January baby

Yes, it's true. I am tottering into antiquity. I turned the ripe old age of (gasp) 24 last month!

The Friday before my birthday, I was shocked/delighted by my coworkers, who had ordered me a vegan chocolate mousse cake from Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley!

Vegan chocolate mousse cake from Nabalom Bakery in Berkeley

I hadn't told anyone it was my birthday, and elaborate measures were taken to ensure that I would be surprised, which I certainly was! My coworkers all raved about how good it was (despite its "veganness"), and four people, including myself, went back for seconds!

The morning of my birthday, the wonderful JP surprised me with a mini muffin tin and two packages of mini muffin liners in red and white! The best surprises are always food related! (And JP seems to know this. Last year he got me a gorgeous white teapot!)

I also threw a small party in my shoebox sized apartment to celebrate. Amid one of my BFF's declarations that I "really don't understand the point of birthdays," I spent the whole day cooking for the party! (Don't worry, I spent the next day relaxing.) I made a small spread for party-goers, who were nice enough to bring lots of alcohol, including a bottle of vegan wine!

Me and Nathan
The only good-ish picture of me, with Nathan

The spread!  Only thing not mentioned elsewhere: Butternut pumpkin seed rice paper rolls with dipping sauce (Vcon)

Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars (Isa/Terry tester), Mushroom Pate (LDV), Warm & Cheesy White Bean Dip (ED&BV!), Save the Tuna Salad Wraps (Ani Phyo)

Irish Whiskey Creme Kisses (Isa/Terry tester) and Zimtsterne (Mihl's recipe!)

I made Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars and Irish Whiskey Creme Kisses (Isa & Terry testers), Zimtsterne from Seitan Is My Motor (mine weren't as pretty as Mihl's!), Mushroom Pate from La Dolce Vegan (Sarah Kramer), Warm & Cheesy White Bean Dip from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! (Dreena Burton), Butternut Squash Pumpkin Seed Rice Paper Rolls with Soy Dipping Sauce from Veganomicon (Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero), and Save the Tuna Salad in tortilla wraps from Ani's Raw Kitchen (Ani Phyo). Kelly brought a variety of gorgeous bell peppers for dipping, and my friend Nathan brought chocolate peppermint cupcakes with peppermint frosting; the recipe is apparently from the New Farm Cookbook.

Kerry and teh foods
Kelly in her adorable dress; you can see the cupcakes in the lower corner!

The Save the Suna Salad wraps, spring rolls, sesame crackers, and Zimtsterne were all gluten-free as well as vegan, as one of our guests had a wheat allergy. My only complaint was the gluten-free tortillas I found at Whole Foods were not very flexible and hence did not roll fact they split at the sides. But they were still good!

I have this really bad habit of trying out recipes that I've never made before for gatherings. The only exception this time was the warm & cheesy white bean dip, which I've made many times before and is always a crowd-pleaser. Still, I'm always happy with the way things turn out, and I haven't had any major disasters yet!

The best part was the cake, my god, the CAKE. I was lucky enough to have Melisser of Sugar Beat Sweets offer to make my birthday cake!! I requested the Apple Pie Cake, and she delivered! Every bite was filled with cinnamony appley goodness, and I LOVED the frosting! Consider that a testimonial, as normally I am not a frosting fan at all! There were hardly any leftovers, and what was left was happily nommed by my mom & dad the next day. Unfortunately I didn't think to get a picture before we cut it, but let me tell you, it was gorgeous. People (i.e., omnis) have been coming up to JP at school to say "I heard there was amazing cake at your girlfriend's birthday!" AND two people asked for recipes for food that I made! Mua ha ha ha! I love it!

The amaaaaaazing Apple Pie Cake handmade with love by Melisser

The next day our parents came down to take me, Kell, and JP out for birthday lunch! We went to Herbivore down on Shattuck, where I had a delicious TLT (Tempeh, Lettuce, Tomato) with avocado and a tall glass of grapefruit juice. Then we headed back to my apartment, where we enjoyed leftover cake and cookies and I opened my presents, hurrah! One of which is my very own BLENDER! No it's not a Vita-Mix, can't afford one of those sadly, but me and my bright orange Kitchen-Aid are becoming fast friends. :) I've been making up for all the months without smoothies!

That night JP and I went to Millennium in San Francisco for the first time and died of food happiness. Seriously, some of the best food I've ever had, and wouldn't you know it, I brought my camera...sans memory card. ARRGH! That's what I get for actually uploading my photos. Next time!

Sadly I missed the pizza party due to being sick with THE PLAGUE (I'm still coughing almost two weeks later! TWO WEEKS!), but I heard it was fabulous and Kelly rocked the house at Rock Band. ;)

Thank you, coworkers, friends, family, and boyfriend, for making this the best birthday EVER!