Monday, December 28, 2009

It's all about the Bennies -

Since becoming vegan I have developed an addiction for Nutritional Yeast. Its terrible. I can't seem to ever get enough. Any recipe that calls for it, I know I will love, and many a time have ended up putting in more than what's called for.
One of my absolute favorite nooch recipes is Isa and Terry's recipe in "Veganomicon" for Cheesy Sauce. Not only is this amazing drizzled on EVERYTHING, but it works perfectly for a late morning benny. This "ultimate vegan cookbook" also features a Tofu Florentine, a sudo benny that calls for sauted spinach and broiled tofu. This is a great dish that I've found really pleases both omnivores and carnivores alike, however, I've found that using fresh spinach, a big ole' slice of tomato, and blacked tofu instead of broiled really hits home when those benny cravings come crashing in.

I made this a couple of days of ago for the "christmas breakfast" with my boyfriend's family and they loved it (all being very far from veg)! The best part is that it is a snap to make, and really only takes about 20 minutes if you've got a pair of hands helping you ... and did I mention its delicious! All of us (yes, all) went in for seconds and were scraping our plates!! Next time your aiming to please with a breakfast benny give this one a go!!

Cheezy Sauce
-2 cups vegetable broth or water
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-Pinch of dried thyme
-1/4 tsp salt
-pepper to taste
-1/8 tsp. turmeric (i've many a time omitted this due to its non-existence in my cupboard and its completely not necessary, however, it does add a beautiful "cheesy" color to the mix when added!)
-3/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
-1 tsp. prepared mustard (i also omit this ... i don't know why ... its just never appealed to me)

Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved.
Preheat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the oil and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to burn the garlic (a very easy thing to do!).
Add the thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, termeric, and nutrional yeast, and raise the heat to medium. Use a whisk to stir consistently. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn't, turn the heat up a bit higher.
Once the mixture in bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the lemon and mustard. The mixture should resemble a thick melty cheese. Taste for salt. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep it warm until ready to use. The top might thicken a bit while it sits, but you can just stir it and it will be fine - serve warm.

All right, so that's the recipe from the ultimate book.
and like I said, instead of using broiled tofu, I used blackened tofu - check this out

Blackened Tofu
-1 lb extra firm tofu, pressed
-1/2 cup earth balance melted
-1/4 cup flour
-1 1/2 tsp creole seasoning*
-1 tsp pepper

Cut the pressed tofu into long rectangular strips or triangles (cut the tofu block into four sections from bottom - up)
Mix the four and spices together in a large enough bowl to fit a tofu piece
Dip the tofu pieces into the earth balance on both sides, then repeat into the flour/spice mixture
Place the dipped floured tofu pieces on a heated skillet on high and cook for about 5 minutes on each side (until they become nice and "blackened")
*I've never used creole seasoning before, but on this particular morning found it in the cupboard. Turns out, its perfect with this combo! You don't need too much of anything else since it is booming with flavor, but if you don't have any on hand,  use any type of seasoning/spice combo of your choice 

Now, for a Banging Benny ...

Toast an english muffin (be careful, lots of brands contain milk ingredients)
Butter with earth balance
Layer with a nice bed of fresh spinach
Place a big round fresh tomato slice atop the spinach
Add a piece of blackened tofu to the tower
Shower with cheesy sauce!


I made this for 7 people and by doubling both recipes, it was enough for seconds, sating all appetites.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Joy of Colored Frosting

Christmas cookies are one of my favorite holiday past times . . . let me rephrase that, decorating christmas cookies is one of my favorite holiday past times. Yes, making them is a joy just as any other batch, but the special sprinkles, cutters, colors, and shapes that come along with this holiday season is but to be enjoyed only once a year.
This year, I bought a couple of new cookie cutter shapes .. a moose ( probably due to my sincere homesickness of the last frontier) and a snowflake (a derivative of this homesickness). I wanted to have ambigious "winter" shapes that veared from specific holidays of the season, thus to be enjoyed throughout many but not just one of these short winter days. With the new cutters on the table, some sprinkles, and food coloring all ready to go; a short, easy recipe was called for. I chose Isa Chandra Moskowitz (what else is new) to fill my cookie void.

In Vegan with a Vengeance I used her "Buttery Lemon Cutout Cookies" recipe. The recipe is easy, fast, and requires no "funny" ingredients. The cookies taste wonderful and are provide the perfect dough tinted canvas.
John and I decorated these cookies during Philadelphia's 2009 snowstorm - which couldn't have been more perfect. The icing came out to be a little lite, because I'm always weary of food coloring. They're like a love child between easter and christmas.

Now, for those of you out there who are also weary of food coloring (I don't know why, but there's something a little tooo unnatural for me in those elf shaped droppers) I have good news!!
A recent christmas present, "Babycakes"a cookbook which comes from the delightful animal and allergenic friendly bakery in NYC has some natural food coloring alternatives. This little treasure chest includes amazing vegan and sugar and gluten free recipes. However, besides treats (cookies, cakes, cupcakes, crumbles, scones .. if you love it, they got it) there's also a section on beverages and icings. Now, now, as you can imagine, a book with such lovely ethics is surely not going to grab the little elf dropper from the cupboard and drop in the recommended dosage. They color all of their frosting naturally with these awesome tricks!

Pink/Red: cherry, raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, or beet juice all work.
Purple: blueberry juice - the more you use, the deeper the purple
Green: chlorophyll (ya know the green pigment in plants....) comes in liquid form at many health food stores!!
Yellow: turmeric - just a pinch!

Now, you may be thinking how these alternatives could change the taste of the frosting - nope. If you've ever had a babycake dessert you know damn well how wonderful they taste and would have no cause to question.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cheese to the Cake

Since I was a small small girl my birthday cake requests have and will always continue to be cheesecake. Ahh, cheesecake to me is the apex of desserts. The combination of sweet, creamy, and rich makes me melt and sends me straight to a feeling of pure ecstasy. Who couldn't love this dessert? Especially with its    multitude of accents: fruit for the semi-healthy guest, chocolate to really seal the deal, caramel to let the cream do its job, pumpkin as a vessel for nutmeg, the list goes on and on to please just about anybody.  I've personally never tasted a cheesecake that I didn't like (or one that didn't like me for that matter). Which has led me to believe that they are pretty easy to make. Have you ever had a bad cheesecake?

Becoming vegan obviously led me upon a small challenge for the next day of my birth. I must master the art of vegan cheesecake. Now, master is a pretty strong word, this I understand, and I am not there yet, but with each bake I am climbing a little higher.
The latest has been a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake that will require a tall glass of soy/almond/rice/hemp/oak milk.
I must warn you, this is not a child's cake. This is a cake that could, and quite possibly might, knock you off of your seat. Enjoy with sincere caution.

Anabell's Chocolate Hazelnut Cheese to the Cake

For the Crust: (works best with a spring form pan)
-14 "oreo" cookies ( I used wholefoods 365 brand Creme Sandwich cookies because they're like $2.00!)
-4 tbsp. butter @ room temperature

In a food processor chop or lightly pulse until the cookies have turned into nice little sticky crumbles!

For the Cake:
-2, 8 oz. packages of Tofutti Creamcheese
-6 oz. of Tofutti Sour Cream
-4 oz. of firm tofu (1/4 of a 12 oz. block)
-1 cup sugar
-1 tbsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Blend all ingredients (sans the hazelnuts) together until nice and smooth.

For the Chocolate Layer:
-3/4 cup vegan chocolate morsels
-1 tbsp. butter
-2 tbsp. coconut milk

In a double broiler melt the chocolate with the butter and coconut milk. Constantly stir to prevent clumping. 3/4 of this mixture will be used as a layer over the crust, and the other 1/4 will be used to swirl into the cake. Now ... onto assembling ...

Assembling the cake:
Preheat oven to 400.
In a spring form pan squish your cookie crust down until the whole bottom is covered with an even layer roughly around 1/4 in. thick.
Pour  3/4 of your chocolate mixture over the entire crust.  Sprinkle your hazelnuts on top of the chocolate.
Pour in the cake "batter". Lift and drop your pan a couple of times to ensure an evenness. With a fork swirl in the rest of the chocolate.
Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. The edges should be a nice golden brown. The cake itself will look/shake like a jello mold. Don't worry. You will need to let the cake cool and set. Let the cake cool for about 1 hour before putting it in the fridge. Then let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. The longer it sits in the fridge the better!! (try to go for an overnite adventure).

Look at that chocolate layer - whoo-ee!

a little slice of rich chocolatey heaven...

For another amazing cheesecake recipe with a nice raspberry swirl and graham crust, check out my february archive from 2009! Enjoy!

Me enjoying my finger licking good cake this year. If you don't have the time or motivation to make your own cheesecake and live in the Philadelphia area - check out Govinda's. That's where this strawberry cheesecake gem came from for my 25th! Its loaded with faux whip cream which Im not usually into, but on this occasion with this cake, amazing -!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make it yourself Tofurkey

We've all seen the faux turkey loaf is the freezer section, the official thanksgiving replacement for us vegans and vegetarians out there. Well, I don't know about you guys, but Im sorry, those blow.  I think they're dry, flavorless, and don't even deserve the name "Tofurkey".  It's not like we've never eaten stuffing or turkey before and think that its suppose to taste this horrible. Yes, Im ragging on Tofurkey's because I've had the real deal. I've experienced a tofu based entree stuffed with real homemade stuffing, and it truly puts the store bought freezer Tofurkey meal to shame. This is also unbelievably easy to make, which leaves no excuse for the vegans out there during this holiday season. If you take the time (the most time consuming part is pressing the tofu ... I mean, come on ...) this truly is a holiday miracle.

I used a recipe that I found on the web @

John carving the Tofurkey 

But, there are a million different variations, and many other sites that offer great recipes.  You can also look at the tofu as an empty canvas and be totally creative! 


What a goooood looking plate!