Monday, November 26, 2007

Cranberry Parfaits

Since we have gallons of cranberry sauce in our fridge, I've had to get creative. My favorite so far are cranberry parfaits, a delicious combination of creamy rice pudding and cranberry sauce. So, so good! Cook up a batch of rice pudding and layer the cooled pudding in glasses with cranberry sauce. Wow! I used the Red Wine Cranberry Sauce recipe on Everydaydish and the Creamy Vegan Rice Pudding from this blog. You've got to give this dessert a try.

I've also got a couple other ideas for "the sauce" if you're in need. It's delish with soy yogurt and granola for breakfast, stirred into oatmeal, blended into a smoothie, shaken with chilled vodka and a twist of lemon or lime, tossed with shredded carrots and served as a salad (this idea was courtesy of Trader Joe's), spread on ginger cookies (my daughter's contribution), stirred into a salad dressing or vinaigrette, on a Tofurkey sandwich, dolloped on top of pancakes or waffles or as an ice cream topping. Oh, I also forgot to add that it freezes well too, so there's always that option.

Although I had every intention of photographing our Thanksgiving meal, it didn't happen. Everyone started digging in as I was putting the food on the table. My family is certainly not shy about eating. Fortunately, I was able to snap a couple pics of some of the dishes while we were cooking. Everything was delicious and worth the three days that I spent in the kitchen. Now I want to eat nothing but soups and salads for the next month.

Mashed yams with sautéed apples, bourbon maple syrup and crushed ginger cookies (before baking), that my brother and I made. This is definitely one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

Vegan pumpkin pies (Bryanna's recipe). One was baked in a gingerbread cookie crust (the pie on the left), which completely stuck to the pan. I guess I didn't grease it well enough. The other pumpkin pie was baked in a traditional oil crust. They were both very good.

I needed a dessert for the night before Thanksgiving, since everyone was arriving at dinnertime. So thanks to Deirdre Jean for her suggestion, I made the Lower-Fat Chocolate Bundt Cake from Veganomicon. Deidre said it needed a topping, so I glazed it with chocolate ganache. The cake was fabulous, moist and devoured in no time. Since we had a mixed bag of eaters (mostly omnis at our vegan Thanksgiving), I was hoping that chocolate would seal the deal. It definitely did. We also had Bryanna's amazing award winning chili, but that was eaten before I could get a picture.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I'll start posting some yummy soups and stews. It's definitely in the air now, at least around our house.

I hope that everyone had a fantastic holiday!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Cranberry Sauce

Believe it or not, we were able to squeeze in a Thanksgiving segment this week. It's really thanks to all of the hard work by my husband Jay. I don't know how he does it, but somehow he does and then it magically appears on our website.

We filmed my favorite cranberry sauce. Now, before you start thinking "oh, just cranberry sauce", think again. This one has sangria flavors, which in my opinion takes cranberry sauce to a whole new level. Red wine (or port), cranberries, lemon and orange. It's so good. In fact, the entire pot of sauce that we made while taping the segment, quickly disappeared before I even had a chance to refrigerate it. My kids came home from school and immediately started eating it out of the pot. If you're worried that my kids were eating an alcoholic sauce, don't. The alcohol cooks right out. You can find the recipe and segment here.

I've also been trying to figure out what our Thanksgiving menu will be. Every year I think that I'll change things up. Every year my daughter protests that I can't change a single thing. I've decided that this year I'll jazz up our traditional menu. For the mashed potatoes (made creamy with plain soymilk and a little Earth Balance), I'll spice them up with finely minced garlic and parsley (whizzed in the processor). This might not seem like much, but the flavor of finely minced fresh parsley and garlic is amazing. Fresh, bold, vibrant... The magic ingredient that my French grandmother stirred into all of her dishes.

Yams are another favorite around our house. I usually roast the yams in a 400°F oven until they are just soft. Once cool, I peel and cut into thick slices. I layer the yams with sliced apples that I've sauteed until soft with apple cider and spices. Then I make a sauce, reducing apple cider, brown sugar (or maple syrup) and spices. I pour the sauce over the yams and apples, sprinkle with more spices and cover and bake until bubbly and soft (basting yams as needed with the juices). I think I almost like this better when made the day before and re-heated on Thanksgiving. This year I think I'll punch it up with a little bourbon and orange or tangerine zest. It's also amazing sprinkled with gingerbread cookie crumbs.

Also on the menu will be either green beans or roasted brussel sprouts and a salad with greens, sliced persimmons, candied pecans and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. Oh, and in place of stuffing this year, I'm going to make wild rice with dried cranberries, wild mushrooms and toasted chopped hazelnuts. I'm full just thinking about all of the food. Oh, I forgot that I'll also make one of Bryanna's seitan roasts, because I love it so much on sandwiches with cranberry sauce. I'll also make her amazing gravy (wheat-free), which we've nicknamed "crack gravy" (it's really addictive). I'll add shitake mushrooms and a splash of sherry to the gravy too. I was going to make roasted butternut squash and shallots as well, but I think that might be overkill. Can you tell how much I love this holiday?

My brother loves to put together an appetizer spread, to pre-stuff us before the meal. I think we might have crostini with Caviart (a really good vegetarian caviar) and Tofutti sour cream. Anyone who thinks that vegans are deprived should think again.

Oh, I forgot the desserts. Should anyone have any room left, I'm going to make Bryanna's pumpkin pie and a mixed berry crumble, which I like to bake in a large cast iron skillet. It's a really fun presentation. For the crumble I cook together frozen mixed berries (blueberries, boysenberries and raspberries) with a little water, sugar and cornstarch to thicken. Once thickened and glossy, I scoop it into the skillet and top with a crumble topping (flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and a little melted Earth Balance). I bake the crumble until the topping is golden brown. Voila, easy as pie!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pumpkin!! And A Very Long Post

I had every intention of posting these recipes last week. It obviously didn't happen. I wound up getting knocked down with the flu, so there really wasn't any cooking going on in my house. In fact, it was strange to have absolutely no desire or inclination to get in the kitchen (or get off the couch for that matter). We somehow survived on veggie noodle soup and spicy tofu stew from our favorite Korean restaurant.

Needless to say, I'm all better! And, fortunately just in time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Because of the setback last week, we weren't able to film Thanksgiving recipes like I'd hoped to for Everyday Dish. So, I'll post a few of my favorite recipes here later this week, in case anyone is looking for some new recipes or twists on old favorites. The two pumpkin recipes I'm posting today would be perfect for Thanksgiving.

The first one is pumpkin hummus. I know that sounds a little strange, but I promise you that it's delish. You can call it pumpkin spread or pate if you prefer, which certainly gives it a more sophisticated flair. I love to serve it with crostini (thin slices of toasted baguette rubbed with fresh garlic and brushed with a little olive oil) and candied spiced pumpkin seeds. I don't have a written recipe for the pumpkin seeds, but I'll tell you what I do. I take pepitas (or shelled pumpkin seeds -no white outer shell) and heat them in a large non-stick skillet (I know, I know, but non-stick works so well here). Once the seeds start getting warm and a bit toasty (but not too much), I sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of sugar. Let the sugar melt for a minute or two, and then start tossing or mixing the seeds so that they get nice and coated with the melted sugar. At this point you can add another tablespoon or two of sugar. Once the seeds are toasted and candied, sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper (and a touch of ground chipotle or cayenne pepper). Transfer seeds to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. I sprinkle them directly from the skillet onto the paper. These seeds are also excellent tossed in a salad.

You can find the pumpkin hummus here. There's also an Everyday Dish segment on the pumpkin hummus. The only change I made to the recipe was to mix in a drop or two of toasted sesame oil to the finished hummus. It gave it a bit more of a smoky flavor. Yum!

For the pumpkin cakes, I had been craving a really good full flavored cake, loaded with spices and pumpkin flavor. I started by taking my tried and true recipe, and experimenting with different egg replacers for the eggs. They didn't all work well. I tried flax, soy yogurt, egg replacer and soy milk. I was only happy with two of them. The version using Bob's Red Mill egg replacer for the eggs worked very well. It was a nice dense cake, which I really liked. But, I also really liked the version with soy milk, which was a little more cakey and a little less dense. In addition to adding the soy milk, I also increased the baking powder and omitted the baking soda. Since there wasn't buttermilk (soy milk with vinegar) in the recipe, this worked out very well, and the cakes rose beautifully. I do recommend baking the batter in small tins, whether mini loaf pans or mini bundt pans, etc... It keeps the cakes nice and light. Oh, and I wouldn't suggest substituting applesauce for any part of the oil. I tried, and wasn't happy with the results (neither were my kids).

Autumn Spice Pumpkin Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Scant 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (solid pack)
2/3 cup plain soymilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger or 1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chocolate chips

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
2. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, pumpkin, soymilk, canola oil and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Don't over mix batter. Stir in candied ginger or raisins.
3. Spread batter into greased and floured mini bundt or loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean and top of cake springs back when lightly pressed. Little miniature bundt cakes will take about 25 to 35 minutes to bake. Miniature loaf pans about 25 to 35 minutes.
4. Remove cake pans to a rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove cakes from pans and finish cooling completely on a rack.
5. Dust cooled cakes with powdered sugar before serving or drizzle with vanilla glaze or chocolate ganache.

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp soy milk or orange juice
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, soy milk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
2. Spread or drizzle icing over cakes. This icing needs to be made just prior to using, as it will harden quickly. If icing is too thin, add another few drops of soy milk or juice. If icing is too thin, stir in a little more powdered sugar.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup soymilk

1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and soymilk. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from oven and stir mixture until smooth. If necessary, microwave mixture for another 10 seconds or so, but do not overheat (chocolate will burn).
2. Spread or drizzle warm ganache over cakes.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Vegan Holiday Festival

If anyone is going to be in the Portland area on Saturday, November 3rd (tomorrow), you've got to come check out the Vegan Holiday Festival. This is the second annual VHF, and can't be missed. There's a full schedule of events, including great cooking demos, diy crafts, yoga, music as well as many hip and cool vegan companies to check out like Herbivore, Food Fight, Veg News Magazine, Blossoming Lotus and many others. I'm so excited to be a part of the festival. I'll be doing a cooking demo from 2 to 3, with lots of delicious samples. Pumpkin is on the menu!

I also have a link for a radio interview that I did this week on Kink FM. I had a great time talking with the DJ's, which was condensed down for the podcast. The link is here. There's also a great interview with Brendan Brazier, best-selling author and professional Ironman triathlete.

The radio station is also doing a poll for everyone's favorite vegan and veg-friendly restaurants in Portland. Log on to the site and cast your vote if you have a favorite!

As soon as the festival is over, I'll post the recipes on the blog. I mean really, can you ever have enough pumpkin recipes? I don't think so!

I'm hoping that I'll have some time next week to tape a couple of Thanksgiving recipes for the Everyday Dish cooking show. I don't know about everyone else, but I always love to try new dishes for Thanksgiving. It's my absolute favorite holiday. Besides the awesome food, it's about friends and family getting together and enjoying a lovingly prepared meal. Truly, what could be more incredible than sharing food (even if some of your relatives drive you crazy). We usually have a pretty big group for Thanksgiving, with lots of family flying in for the big feast. And, no, turkey is not the center of our meal (or any part for that matter). Instead we celebrate the bounty of amazing locally grown food from the Pacific Northwest. Wild mushrooms, greens, cranberries, hazelnuts... I could go on and on.

Have a great weekend! Hope to see you at the Festival.