Friday, February 26, 2010

RRRuuuummmm Balls

My first experience with rum balls was working at the Davenport Hotel. I saw my chef roughly crumbling last weeks german chocolate cake into the mixer. Old cake did nothing for me, but then, came the pouring of rum and grand marnier, this definetely caught my attention. My 18 year old illegal nostrils needed to know what the heck was going on in that mixing bowl. I stopped what I was doing and curiously moved closer, suddenly he poured melted dark chocolate and orange zest in. A... yumm?! So, there it is rum balls consist of dry old cake, rum, sugar, chocolate and sometimes butter. The cake crumbs soak up the alcohol and chocolate, becoming the perfect moldable substance to roll into truffle-like balls. You may finish them by rolling them in cocoa, sesame seeds, chopped nuts, dipping them in chocolate or my favorite, toasted coconut. For my version I used spiced rum, melted margarine, orange essence, cocoa, a touch of cinnamon, powdered sugar, cake crumbs and then finished with the toasted coconut. They are best if they sit for a couple hours so the flavors can really soak. This is such a great thing to do with those leftover cake edges. See you in the kitchen!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Breakfast of Champions!

Lately, I have been loving Buckwheat Pancakes. The light nutty flavor and slight bitterness pairs excellent with crunchy peanut butter and dark amber maple syrup. Contrary to it's name, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, but a sort of weed that flowers. It started being cultivated in Northern Europe and Asia in the 10th century. Then China and Russia began to mass produce and finally buckwheat was introduced to the United States in the 17th century. In it's native countries buckwheat is commonly cooked as a porridge or in place of oatmeal. Also known as, "Kasha." You may have tried a buckwheat honey, coming from the bees that pollenate the ever so attractive flower. Most recipes using buckwheat are mixed with other flours to compromise a more familiar flavor. Instead, for my pancake recipe I used all buckwheat flour, considering it's extensive health benefits and intriguing flavor. So come on give it a try next sunday morning. You will feel delightfully full and not be in a pancake coma. Yeah!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rosemary Au Gratin Potatoes

For Valentine's Day I wanted to make something rich and creamy to accompany our meal. After a couple laps around the grocery I was obsessed with massive yellow potatoes. I thought, "Yum, when is the last time I had au gratin potatoes?" I think it was at a wedding in a tired chaffing dish that just didn't have enough sterno-power underneath it to be good. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, undercooked or cold potatoes. Really awkward to chew and just plain old nasty. So undoubtedly, I was determined to make a dreamy vegan au gratin potato dish with potatoes that were all the way cooked! Exploring recipes I realized that most dishes are started with thinly sliced raw potatoes and just baked. I'm sure this works great, but I just haven't experienced it yet. So instead to ensure doneness I let the thinly sliced potatoes cook shortly in salted boiling water. After about a minute I strained and finished my vegan roux based creamy rosemary sauce. I layered the potatoes neatly in a cast-iron round and seasoned and sauced every layer. Topped with sliced onion and baked at 400 for about 45 minutes it was pure bubbly goodness! I let it sit for about 10 minutes, then sliced into it like a pie. My valentine and I enjoyed this together. Yeah!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When my family moved up to the country, I also got moved closer to one of my best friends. Her mother was a great baker and I loved eating her french silk pie, cornbread and my favorite, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Sorting through my millions of unmarked recipes I found this exact cookie recipe. I was so excited to turn it vegan and omit all white flours. So here it is, I used the amazing chia seeds for the egg replacement and whole wheat pastry flour in place of the white flour. Not only does this replacement make for a lower fat cookie, but a jump in the amount of fiber. If you have not experienced chia seeds yet, it is time. If it is so unfortunate that you cannot find chia seeds you may use any egg substitute equal to 2 eggs. Hope you enjoy the recipe, see you in the kitchen!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup margarine(non hydrogenated and non dairy)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 T. chia seeds mixed with 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups WW pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. scant baking soda( just short of a teaspoon)
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 package chocolate chips

First off measure your chia seeds and water and stir. Set aside, as you will see them form tapioca like orbs around each seed. Meanwhile, cream the sugars and margarine together with your paddle attachment. Scrape down sides of bowl a couple times incorporating completely. You should see little or no evidence of sugar crystals in the margarine. While mixer is stopped add chia seed mixture and vanilla. Mix on medium for about a minute and scrape down twice. Add all your dry ingredients except for chocolate chips and combine on low speed. Scrape down sides and mix again. Feel free to give a quick jolt of speed to shake flour off of paddle. Add chocolate chips and voila! Ready to scoop, drop and lightly press down on a cookie sheet in your preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 7-11 minutes, cookies should look a bit domed and not shiny. This recipe makes 3-4 dozen cookies and freezes well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nacho Mama!

Since I have been a vegan I have longed for some cheesy nachos. The kind you can find as an appetizer at a Mexican restaurant or those mounds of goodness you find at happy hour. Experimenting with different sauces and flavors I have found that the creaminess of a fusion of nuts, the tanginess of apple cider vineagar and the "cheesiness" of nutritional yeast hits the spot. This sauce does kind of look similar to that mystery hue of Tang substance that siphons itself out of a bag at many of your local gas stations. Definitely not my favorite, thank goodness you can pronounce the ingredients that are in mine. Made much like the pasta sauce that I posted you simmer and soften the ingredients and puree till smooth. For the protein, instead of just beans I used a mixture of a chipotle vegan sausage pan-fried with whole pinto beans and finished with cumin and lime. Smothered and layered salty corn chips, cilantro, black olives and a side of steamed kale, it was to die for. The best part was I didn't feel like I gained 30 pounds after I ate it. I was sincerely satisfied!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wasabi Truffles

So for my friend Nastumi's birthday party I made truffles. She loves spicy chocolate, but I am a little over red chilies and chocolate right now. What is more Japanese than wasabi! A man once explained wasabi's spice to my mother and I as it warming your face rather than burning your throat. This is very true, it slowly rises through your sinuses. Mmmmm. Love it. One memory always comes to mind when talking about wasabi. The family was down at Disneyland for our annual family vacation and my uncle had picked up some sushi for a picnic. All of us crowded around the table excited to finally eat after a long day in amusement world. Me scarfing in silence peered over to my mothers cherry red face, eyes looking as if they were gonna fall out onto the table. She started breathing loudly and sticking here tongue out and hoarsely said, "whoooaa, not guacamole." Her first bite after opening the rectangular container had been the half inch cube of wasabi properly placed on the nori rolls. Everyone started laughing till tears, but still engaging my mother with concern. It was hilarious.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Braised Tempeh beside Mixed Greens with Balsamic, Carmelized Onion and Pear

Tempeh is made from cultured and fermented soybeans that naturally form a cake. The fermentation process allows the soybeans to stay whole, in turn providing a higher protein and vitamin content than tofu. My favorite is the five grain and flax. You can find it right next to the tofu in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. My favorite way to cook tempeh is to simply pan fry both sides then immerse in broth and place in a preheated oven until the liquid is soaked up into the tempeh. I have found this method to be easy on digestion as well as just delicious and flavorful. Hope you all will give it a try!