Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pan-fried beet, radish, and zucchini spring rolls

I realized I still had some sweet and sour sauce that Megan from The Sisters Vegan left at my apartment. I thought, "Hmm, what should I do with this yummy sauce? Oh! Spring rolls!"

Then I just had to look in my fridge to decide what to put in them. I decided on beets, radishes, zucchini, and lemon juice. I also added ground ginger and miso spices. There really isn't a recipe for this. I just food processed everything, rolled the spring rolls, and then pan-fried them. I used store-bought wrappers, so I don't have a recipe for that either. I am laaazy today (it's midterms week), and this was a spur of the moment dinner choice.

They turned out fantastic. Check them out:

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What the hell is going on with this plate?" Well, I painted it at Brush Fire, and I realize some of the music notes are upside down. They're dancing! Now, back to vegan food pictures:

Yuuuum. K, I'm gonna go eat more.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hilarious illustrated book

This is not a recipe, but I saw this illustrated book on The Sisters Vegan, and you all should read it. It is mildly offensive to omnivores, but it is thee funniest thing I've seen all day.

Thank you, Megan and Kelly!

Lemon blackberry muffins

This morning I wanted some muffins. So, I made a recipe out of what I had in my kitchen. They turned out surprisingly tasty. Mmm.

Lemon blackberry muffins

3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup vegan margarine
egg replacer equal to 1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soy milk
+ 1 tablespoon soy milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine all ingredients. Mix. Add the extra tablespoon of soy milk if the batter seems a little too thick. I had to do this.
3. Spoon into muffin cups. These muffins rise quite a bit, so leave about a quarter of an inch between the top of the batter and the brim of the muffin tin.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until you poke them with a knife and it comes out clean. These muffins don't really brown on their tops, so you need to check on them with the knife trick.

You may want to add a little more lemon, depending how much you like citrus flavors. Lemon is probably my favorite flavor. I wish these were more lemony. Maybe lemon zest would be a good ingredient. Oooh, or maybe a lemon glaze? I don't usually like glazes on my muffins because it makes them too sweet, but it might be tasty.

I think these turned out well for being spur of the moment. Yummy afternoon breakfast.

Root beer float cupcakes

These cupcakes are worth making simply because you will probably have to go to a brewing shop to get cupcake ingredients (grocery stores rarely carry root beer extract). If you have a sense of humor, telling people you are going to a brewing shop for baking supplies will probably make your day. It sure made mine.

I am not going to type the recipe because it is posted here. It won ninth place in's "Top 10 Recipes, 2008." The recipe can also be found in My Sweet Vegan.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was that I used carob in the ganache rather than chocolate. I'm allergic to chocolate. The ganache was delicious though!

Unfortunately, their frosting recipe wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I think it could have used a little more soy milk. Just a tiny bit! Or maybe this recipe would have been good with a cream cheese frosting? I'm not sure. I will experiment next time.

I gave the cupcakes to basically everyone on the top floor of my apartment complex, plus their friends. Everyone liked them. I liked them too, and I was impressed that the tops weren't stiff, like so many vegan cupcakes. Mmm, their texture was excellent.

By the way, root beer extract has the best smell out of pretty much everything on the planet. Perhaps I will use it for perfume.

By the way, I made that plate in my ceramics class last summer. Ain't it sweet?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blackberry pudding

Last night I threw a dinner party for friends who participated in Vegan Challenge Week. I made fried rice for dinner and blackberry pudding for dessert. The two dishes don't really go together, but I really wanted some pudding! I've made the pudding a few times, and it always tastes like heaven.

Ignore the olive bowl. I had so many people over for dinner that I was reduced to using some pretty weird dishes. Also, my counters were soooo messy from cooking for everyone that I had to take this picture on the floor of my kitchen. Haha, gross, but it still looks tasty, right?

How it all Vegan!'s "Anything Goes" fruit pudding

1 cup soft tofu (I usually use firm tofu with my food processor, but that's just because I usually have firm tofu in the fridge. It just means I need to food process it a little longer.)
2 1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup vegan sweetener
dash of salt

3/4 cup "Anything Goes" fresh or frozen fruit (It's your choice, but I used frozen blackberries. I've made it with raspberries and blueberries also. So far, blackberries are my favorite.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

In a blender or food processor, blend together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Chill well before serving. Makes 2-4 servings.

This pudding is one of my favorite spring and summer foods. If Oregon ever warms up, I'll start making this a lot more frequently. It was a little out of place yesterday because it was hailing all day, but people enjoyed it anyway!

Vegan lasagna

Forgive me! Forgive me for not posting for a month, and forgive me for the poor quality of the photo in this post!

I've done a lot of cooking lately. Last week was Vegan Challenge Week* at the University of Oregon. I'm the co-director for Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and I have been BUSY. Last Tuesday I gave a vegan food demonstration where I made lasagna and Da Bomb Cookies. The cookies came out even better than they did the first time I made them. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture (oops!), and I also did not take a picture of the lasagna I made. Luckily, I made a practice lasagna a few days before the demo, and I took pictures of that one.

Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients for sauce:
olive oil
1/3 cup onion
3-10 cloves garlic, depending on your taste (I love garlic)
2 cans large of crushed tomatoes
1 bell pepper
salt to taste
Italian spices, marjoram, dried basil, paprika, and red pepper flakes to taste. I like a lot of red pepper and marjoram, but you may want less.
and, honestly, whatever else you want to put in it. Sometimes I put olives in the sauce. Sometimes I add some wine. Sometimes I use balsamic vinegar or lime/lemon juice to add a little more flavor. You don't really need any tomato paste because lasagna sauce is supposed to be rather saucy, but I guess that depends on how chunky your crushed tomatoes are.

Instructions for sauce: Use a large saucepan. Fry the garlic and onion in oil until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Then, add the tomato sauce. Stir it up, and then add the rest of ingredients. Keep stirring until the sauce is heated all the way through.

I've gotten really into making sauces from scratch, but I didn't have time for that when I was making the lasagna. At some point, I'll make tomato sauce from scratch and leave some directions on here. It's so much fun and it tastes 1,000,000x better! But, for now, this will do. It's a lot better than buying a can of Ragu or something - yuck!

Ingredients for tofu ricotta:
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 clove garlic
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons rice/soy/nut milk, or until the cheese is the texture you want it to be.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
handful of spinach or basil (I use spinach because I hate fresh basil, but it still adds the aesthetic quality of basil)

Instructions for tofu ricotta: Cut the tofu into 1-2 inch cubes, then grind it up in a food processor. You may need to add the milk for this. Then, add everything except the spinach/basil, and food process it until it is all mixed in. Then, stir in the greens! And you've got yourself some cheese! Taste it and make sure you don't want to add anymore salt or something before you apply it to the lasagna.

Other ingredients for lasagna:
LASAGNA NOODLES! I honestly forgot to buy these when I got groceries, and I had to walk back to the store in shame to buy them. So, don't forget the noodles!
Any veggies you want to put in it, really. In my practice lasagna, I used chard and kalamata olives. I always put the bell peppers on top because I think it makes it look pretty, but there are already bell peppers in the sauce, so I don't put them in the layers of the lasagna. In the demo lasagna, I used spinach, kalamata olives, and portobello mushrooms for the layers. Then, I still had the olives and bell pepper on top.

Instructions for lasagna:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Boil the noodles. Drain them. If they stick, you can pull them apart by running cold water over them.
2) Layer the lasagna however you want. If you are using mushrooms, fry them in oil and garlic beforehand. I use raw spinach, but some people cook that beforehand also. When layering your lasagna, please make sure there is a lot of sauce on the bottom of the pan so it doesn't stick. And make sure you have lots of sauce on top as well because otherwise the noodles will get too crispy in the oven.
3) Bake it for 25-30 minutes with aluminum foil over the lasagna.
4) Then, remove the aluminum foil and bake for aother 15-25 minutes, or until the edges of noodles are slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling. Keep an eye on it because the baking times really very from oven to oven.
5) If possible, let it cool for a few minutes before you cut it. This will keep the layers from falling apart when you are transporting it to your plate.
6) Enjoy!

By the way, you can use the cheese for LOTS of other dishes. I use it for manicotti. It might be good in crepes. You could change a few of the seasonings and maybe use it in place of feta on salads, etc. There is just a lot of stuff you can do with it, so it is a great recipe to have. The recipe here is a slight variation from Vegonomicon's tofu ricotta. They don't put any vegan milk in their recipe, and I changed a few of the measurements.

Also, I fed the practice lasagna to my nonvegan neighbors. One of them said, "WOW! I didn't know vegan food could taste good!" His comment made my week.

*Vegan Challenge Week was in honor of Earth Week. SETA got people to sign up to go vegan for the week, and we hosted events to make a vegan diet easier for students who agreed to participate. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully the participants got a lot out of it.