Archive | December, 2007

Happy New Year!

31 Dec

I received The Joy of Cooking for Christmas and I have been perusing this vast book, eyeing recipes to veganize.  One such recipe I stumbled upon was one for Hoppin’ John, a dish I have vaguely heard of, the description mentioned that it was to be eaten on New Year’s Day so I thought what a perfect opportunity to not only test my new book but become associated with Southern cuisine.

Hoppin’ John is traditionally a rice and black-eyed pea pilaf that is cooked with ham, sausage or bacon.  I have decided to ditch the meat by way of smoked tofu, which is an ingredient I’ve actually never used before.  (I’ve also never cooked with dried beans so this is all new territory people, seems to be an excellent way to start the new year)  Sometimes on New Year’s Day, a new dime is hidden in the dish and the person who finds the coin is guaranteed good luck throughout the rest of the year.  I have decided to not participate in this custom as I am fearful of killing someone which would be a horrible way of starting 2008.

For this recipe, I used my brand new cast iron dutch oven I bought on Boxing Day for only $30!  If you don’t have an oven safe pot, just transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish with a cover when you need to bake it.

Hoppin’ John

adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

For the beans:

1 1/4 cups dried black-eyed peas
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 1/2 onions)
2 cloves of garlic
1 package of smoked tofu (my package was 100 g)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 cups water
salt and pepper

For the rice:

Vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package (I ended up only using 3/4 of the 100 g package) Smoked Tofu, diced (I would have liked to use tempeh bacon but I had no tempeh so if you have some and are inclined to make a batch, use a few strips!)
1 1/4 cups brown rice
1 tsp salt

To finish:

1/4 cup parsley, minced

For the beans:

1.  Combine 3 3/4 cups of water and the peas in a pot.  Cover and soak overnight.

2.  Once your peas are soaked, drain and rinse them well.  Place them in a pot and add onions, garlic, smoked tofu, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, bay leaves and water.  Bring to a simmer and gently simmer uncovered until the peas are tender (about 30-50 minutes).

3.  Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.  Remove and toss the bay leaves.  Transfer the pea mixture to a bowl and season with the salt and pepper to your liking.  Cover and set the bowl aside.

For the rice: 

1.  Add enough vegetable broth to the reserved cooking liquid to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid.

2.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3.  Using the pot you used to cook the beans, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the smoked tofu (or tempeh bacon) and cook until lightly browned.

4.  Add the rice and salt.  Stir to coat the rice with the oil for about 1 minute.  Add the pea cooking liquid and pea mixture.  Bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, stir once, cover and place in oven.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.

5.  Add the parsley (which as you can see in my photo, I forgot to do), fluff the rice and mix it all up.  Before diving in, let the dish stand uncovered for 10 to 30 minutes.

Happy 2008, everyone!


Christmas Eatin’

25 Dec

Hope everyone had a great and relaxing (ha ha right?) holiday!   Mine was spent with my family and consisted of many memorable-in a good way!-moments.  It was also filled with delectable food…particularly of the sugar variety.

Peanut Butter Balls

I made these Peanut Butter Balls on Christmas Eve and I found that they were quite addictive.  For the cookie crumbs I called for, I just processed rice crispies-type cereal and used them.  Instead of swirling the chocolate on the balls, I dipped them in to the chocolate for an even more decadent touch (hey, it’s the holidays, we’re supposed to splurge).

I also made Softly Spiced Nuts  and Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Hummus from Eat, Drink and be Vegan.  They were both perfect appetizers. I think next time I’ll add some cumin to the nuts to increase the heat factor though the flavouring was lovely anyway.  The hummus was also tasty (although I seem to have a vinegar sensitivity, when I can detect it I find it’s taste overpowering so I’ll decrease it next time), I have been enjoying it very much on toast.

Gingerbread Apple Pie 

And finally, the grand finale, I served Gingerbread Apple Pie from Vegan with a Vengeance for dessert on Christmas Day dessert.  It was a huge hit, it’s spiced perfectly and is so simple to make (I despise rolling out pie crust).  The photo shown is it prior to baking as out of the oven the edges were a tad burnt.  Next time (and they’ll definitely be a next time), I’ll add foil to the edges to combat that (although I always say this when I bake a pie yet I never seem to remember).

So the big day’s finally over, hope Santa was good to you (he was extremely generous at my house)!

 PS-Despite the fact I work retail and therefore heard it constantly, I will miss the Christmas music.

Seasons Greetings!

24 Dec

Hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the festive season!

I’ll be back very soon with a post on what I have been eating these days…let’s just say it’s not health food and leave it at that for now, shall we?

Looking for a Last-Minute Gift?

22 Dec

Taking a break from the sugar high (well, almost) with an idea that I know my fellow bloggers would be able to put to use (with their endless supply of delicious recipes)…

I was stuck on what to give my youngest sister for Christmas this year.  I had already bought some clothes I knew she had wanted to give to her but it lacked a personal touch.  She has just started to get into baking, specifically cupcakes.  Vegan cupcakes.  So inspired by this I made her a Cupcake recipe booklet.  It not only contains recipe cards for various cupcakes but personal anecdotes accompanying each recipe (like the time I made her Pina Colada Cupcakes and accidentally melted her birthday cake is mentioned in the Pina Colada Cupcakes recipe). 

I happened to find the card completely by chance (isn’t it cute?), I wasn’t even looking for a cupcake card, just one with a pretty design, but when I saw this I knew it would be perfect.  I even (again without looking) was able to find a spatula and apron that completely matched the colours in the card.

I hope that this simple idea might be of assistance to you in these last frenzied hours before the big day.  This was a lot of fun to make, a gift that I would definitely make again, it’s fun to personalize recipes and give a gift that not only will definitely make the recepient smile (I know my sister found the melting birthday cake incident quite humorous as I have yet to live that one down) but keeps on giving (who doesn’t need a recipe for vegan sugary treats?).

More Christmas Cookies…

17 Dec

I believe that this is the third post in a row that features Christmas cookies (Edit-I checked, no it’s not).  Today is the Shortbread edition.

I love Shortbread cookies (it very well could be because of my heritage) and when I think of Christmas cookies these delicately textured and flavoured biscuits come to mind.  My mother made these cookies from a recipe borrowed from a co-worker a few years ago, and they were delicious buttery little mounds.  I haven’t had Shortbread since before going vegan and have been wanting to veganize this recipe for awhile now.  Shortbread recipes are simple (traditionally they are one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour, that’s it!) but fear of it resulting in a too-salty cookie (shortbread recipes always seem to call for unsalted butter and Earth Balance is well, quite salted) prevented me from any attempts.  Today I was feeling courageous and decided to give it a shot.

As you can see, I succeeded!  The Earth Balance was a fine replacement, I had no reason to question its purposiveness.  The cookies turned out just as I remembered (god I’ve been nostalgic lately!) and not all too-salty and with a wonderful melt-in-your mouth texture.

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease (or use parchement paper) a cookie sheet.

1.  Cream the Earth Balance and the sugar (I sifted the sugar into the earth balance to avoid those clumps typical of confectioner’s sugar) until just blended.
2.  Sift in the cornstarch and the flour and mix until well combined.
3.  Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough in to balls, drop on to sheet and flatten slightly into discs.
4.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, until the edges are just golden.

The edges of the cookies may turn a little wonky (mine did) because of the high fat content of shortbread.  So I just took a round cookie cutter and cut the baked cookies into circles to make perfect little cookies.  Top the cookies with a Maraschino cherry halve if you so desire for a festive look.   I got 16 (or 18?) cookies out of the deal.

Baking with Grandma

14 Dec

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandmother and baked a batch of Christmas cookies with her.  Okay, my grandmother is not a woman who cooks so I made them.  I make these Sugar Cookies that Nowhey over on the ppk forums posted awhile back. These are the best Sugar Cookies ever. I make them quite frequently, in fact I think for every holiday since Nowhey posted the recipe…Christmas…Valentine’s Day…Easter.  I look for any excuse to bake these and nothing says Christmas like cookies shaped as christmas trees, snowflakes, stars and gingerbread (sugar cookie?) people.

Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

egg replacer = to 1 egg
4 teaspoons soymilk
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease cookie sheets.

1.  Cream the shortening, sugar and vanilla extract together thoroughly in a large bowl.
2.  Add the egg replacer (I have used a few different ones and I find that my preferred ingredient is 1/4 cup soy yogurt) and beat until light and fluffy.
3.  Stir in soymilk.
4.  In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
5.  Add the dry mix to the wet mix, blending until combined. 
6.  Chill dough for at least an hour.
7.  Roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thickness and cut out desired shapes.
8.  Bake cookies for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size.  Cool on pan slightly then remove from sheets. 
These cookies were approved by my grandmother (she ate at least 5 that afternoon) and the rest of my family are huge fans as well and the cookies will most likely be making more appearances this holiday season.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

12 Dec

I’ve mentioned my mother’s Cinnamon Quick Bread here before and I was hoping to veganize it and relive its wonderfulness.  I could not find the recipe my mother always used so I searched around the internet to find one that was to my liking.  As I recall frequently enjoying the bread on snow days and today was a snow-ish day, I thought that today would be the perfect day to try it out.  I found one and made quite a few changes.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

1 cup soymilk
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 soy yogurt (I used So Nice’s Orginal)

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan.

1.  In a small bowl, combine the soymilk and the apple cider vinegar.  Set aside so it gets all nice and curdly.
2.  In another small bowl, make the cinnamon-sugar combining the cinnamon and brown sugar with a fork.
3.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
4.  In a separate large bowl, beat together the canola oil, sugar and soy yogurt.
5.  Add the flour mixture, along with the soymilk/vinegar to the sugar mixture in batches.  (I did this in three batches)
6.  Add a third of the batter to loaf pan and then sprinkle with the Cinnamon-Sugar.  Repeat this twice.
7.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick or a knife is inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
8.  Cool and enjoy with a healthy dab of earth balance!

I really love the way it turned out!  It has a wonderful texture and is just as delicious as I remember it.  Next time, I’ll run a knife through the batter for more swirly goodness like my mother did with her bread.  But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s perfect on a snowy day.