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Macaroni & Cheeze, oh yeah.

28 Apr

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese is a popular dish among vegans, both raved and grumbled about. I have tried many versions of this dish and honestly, I have enjoyed each one. Macaroni & Cheese was a staple of my childhood so I’m always game for a new recipe to try out. In the January + February issue of VegNews, in the “Veganize It” column, a recipe for the pasta caught my eye. It’s different than other recipes I’ve made in the past (no nutritional yeast!) and I made a mental note to try it in the future. Tonight for supper, I finally got around to making it and below is photographic evidence of the results.

Macaroni & Cheeze

This turned out to be a wonderful meal, creamy and comforting. I found it to be quite different than the other nutritional yeast base recipes with it’s addition of pureed vegetables which lended a nice, homestyle quality to it’s flavour. I definitely recommend this recipe although next time I’ll up the spice amounts to give it a bit of a flavour boost.

Here’s the recipe in pdf form but I’ll type it up here in case you’re link-a-phobe (I know I am).

VegNews’ Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 6

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + cup non-hydrogenated
margarine
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and
chopped
cup carrots, peeled and chopped
cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
teaspoon garlic, minced
teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
teaspoon black pepper
teaspoon cayenne
teaspoon paprika

1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by processing the bread and 2 tablespoons of the
margarine into medium-fine crumbs. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and
water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are
very soft.

4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, remaining margarine, mustard, lemon juice,
black pepper, and cayenne. Add the softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender
and process until completely smooth.

5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, top with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. Or Pie. Or Pah.

20 Jan

(The title comes from a discussion with my sister.  I frequently converse with her about what I’m baking via MSN Messenger and I was telling her about this Cookie Pie which I suppose is really more of a cake but whatever and she said that she can’t say pie without a Southern accent ever since we watched Waitress a few weeks ago.)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

 I have had a cookie cake once before in my life.  It was years ago, I was probably six.  But I still remember how awesome it was and have always meant to try another one.  So I finally baked one this evening.  I used Kittee’s Blondie Recipe using a container of soy yogurt for the egg replacer and leaving out the nuts (not that I have anything against them, I live with people who do).  I threw the dough into a greased 9 inch round cake pan and baked it for 40 minutes (next time I’d bake it for a bit longer, it was a tad underbaked not that it was a bad thing though.  I like gooey).  It was fantastic!  This is a most wonderful cookie recipe (I also ate more than a fair share of the dough) and the Cookie Cake was the delightful, chewy wonder that has been stuck to my memory for all these years.

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!

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. 

Orange Sesame Tofu

4 Sep

Adapted from this recipe.

I made this for supper tonight, it turned out quite tasty-tangy and crispy.

Orange Sesame Tofu

 1 Egg Replacer (like EnerG, I use a homemade one though)
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 pound tofu
1/8 cup canola oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs maple syrup
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, cornstarch, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until well combined.  Add tofu to the bowl, and toss until well coated with the mixture.

2.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet.  When oil is hot enough, add tofu and cook until golden and crispy.  Flip, and cook the other side.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain some of the excess oil.

3.  Wipe the oil off the skillet with a paper towel.  Add orange juice, soy sauce and maple syrup to skillet, and boil until mixture turns syrupy.  (I found that my mixture wasn’t turning syrupy enough to my liking so I added a tiny bit of the cornstarch mixture so a sauce would form)  Return the tofu to the skillet, and stir gently to coat the tofu with the sauce, about 1 minute.