Sunday, January 24, 2010


It seems it's been seven months since my last post! Amazingly enough, I haven't lost all of the cooking notes I've amassed in that time so have a good amount to add...

I was obsessed with muhammera from Ali Babba in Pittsburgh and it was on my foods to figure out how to make list when I moved. I think my version is spicier and less oily than there's, but I like it that way. Recipes I've found called for aleppo peppers, but since I've had no luck finding them I use a mix of paprikas and cayenne to obtain the smokey, spicy flavor. Pomegranate molasses is the key flavor of this spread. It's thick and syrupy, sweet and sour. Pomegranate juice will not substitute for it.


1 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (fresh really makes a difference here)
2 roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3 tbs pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, combine the red peppers, garlic, spices and pomegranate molasses until smooth. Add the walnuts and bread crumbs and pulse until combined but slightly chunky. Add the olive oil and process until it is a spreadable consistency but not totally smooth. Serve with pita wedges, bread or vegetable slices.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gingered Edamame pâté

Well, summer hit the miserably hot over a hundred Fahrenheit every day stage early this year (at least it seems early to me, but this is only my third Texas summer). I'm avoiding turning the oven on at all costs so am digging into my repertoire of cold foods. This is pretty heavy on the ginger, but is delicious on crackers or carrot sticks.

Gingered Edamame pâté
1 LB shelled edamame
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs agave nectar or honey
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs fresh diced ginger

Boil the edamame in salted water for about 5 minutes
(they will begin to float).
Run cold water over the beans to chill them.
Throw everything in a food processor and process until
Easy. Delicious. Barely any heat usage!

Black forest and German Chocolate cakes

Once again I've been sitting on recipes for things I've made and am posting a bunch at once...this time I've been too busy to write them up but feel like procrastinating of these days my thesis will decide to write itself, right?

I had a little bit of a chocolate cake obsession a few weeks back that happened to coincide with a couple birthdays and a going away party for a girl in my lab. Here's the one I decided I liked best after a little tweaking and blending of recipes...This will probably be my last baking post for quite a while since the summer has already gotten to be hellishly hot.

Basic chocolate cake
1 stick earth balance
2 cups sugar
3 eggs worth egg replacer
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 cup soy milk + 1 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup boiling water

Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler...or improvise one with a metal bowl.

Allow the chocolate to cool to close to room temperature. Cream the earth balance and sugar until light and fluffy (the sugar won't totally break down, but it will be noticeably lighter in color). Beat in the eggs (mixture should stay fluffy). Cream in the vanilla and melted chocolate.

Alternate mixing in the sifted dry ingredients and soured soy milk. The batter will be quite thick at this point. Add boiling water, stirring well to incorporate and pour immediately into a prepped pan (one 9x3" round pan [with a floured flower nail like in the last post] or split between two regular 9" pans). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour (check for doneness for a tooth pick after 45 minutes). This recipe tastes great, but my only quasi-gripe with it is it doesn't make a very deep cake. I like to torte the deep ones into three layers, but i it was hard to get three that were easy to handle out of it if the cake had to be leveled first. Not a huge deal, but it's something to keep in mind for assembly/decorating plans.

So on to the first chocolate cake of the week...this was a going away cake for a girl in my lab. I was SO close to writing "Have a Nice Life" on it, but she's super sweet so I decided to be nice.

Black Forest Cake aka the misuse of decorating tools (9" version)
1 chocolate cake
1 lb cherries
Kirshwasser (cherry brandy)

Whipped Vanilla Icing:
2 sticks earth balance
1 cups sugar (or granulated vanilla sugar)
1 cup soy milk
7 Tbs Flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
Follow the directions for the peanut butter icing.

Pit the cherries. I don't have a cherry pitter so I used a decorating tip (a star tip i believe, but i don't think it matters). Put the tip pointy side up on a cutting board and push the cherries down on it from where the stems are attached (this can get messy, so dig out the gothest apron you have, or at least don't wear white...but really, who does that when they're baking anyway?). The cherries will be a little mutilated, but I cut them all in half anyway. I was actually pretty surprised at how quickly this went.

Torte the cake into two or three layers. Spread about 3 tbs - 1/4 cup Kirshwasser on to the cut side of each layer. Allow to soak in for about 10 minutes or so then spread the bottom layer with whipped vanilla icing. Arrange a layer of cut cherries on top leaving about a cm border from the edge of the cake. Repeat with the next layer if making a three layer cake. Ice and decorate with the rest of the whipped icing, some chocolate shavings and whole cherries. I kept the assembles cake in the refrigerator overnight mostly to keep the icing from separating. It is safe to leave out if it isn't too hot out.

Now on to cake two...this was a birthday request that I was really happy about since it required a cooked icing...that meant I didn't have to worry about having an icing melt on me in the heat (which was only in the 90's at that time...ugh!)

German Chocolate Cake
1 chocolate cake (If you want to be truer to the original Germans' Chocolate recipe use semisweet chocolate instead of unsweetened).

Coconut Pecan Icing
1 2/3 cup almond milk (soy will work too, but almond was on sale!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 Tbs cornstarch
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbs earth balance

Mix together the cornstarch and 1/3 cup almond milk until there are no lumps. In a sauce pan mix the rest of the almond milk, both sugars and the cornstarch mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Stir over low heat a couple more minutes to thicken and cook out the cornstarch taste. Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla and earth balance. Stir in the coconut and pecans and let it cool to almost room temperature. Torte the chocolate cake into two or three layers and ice with the cooled icing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My (first?) Wedding Cake!

May was a very busy month - lots of fun times, but not too much of it was spent in the kitchen, so it's been a while since my last post!  Two completely awesome people decided to get married and decided to ask me to make their cakes in May, so a good bit of my cooking time for a month was spent making practice cakes and figuring out the best baking methods to make large cakes (all on a budget and with a TINY oven).  We decided on a lemon cake filled raspberry preserves and vegan lemon curd and a chocolate peanut butter groom's cake...Jack and Dominique seemed to enjoy them! I completely forgot to take a nice picture of the cakes on the serving table, so above is the mutilated version after some tipsy guests and I hacked away at the lemon one!

I'll just be posting the lemon cake today, which is really just the most basic veganization of the 1-2-3-4 cake recipe on the back of the Swans Cake Flour box.  For both cakes I made a 12" bottom layer with a 9" cake on top. I baked each cake in 3" deep pans and torted them twice for three medium thick layers for each cake.  

Lemon Cake Filled with Raspberry Preserves and Vegan Lemon Curd

1 c. Earth Balance margarine (sticks or tub, not the whipped kind though)
2 c. sugar
3 c. sifted cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs worth of egg replacer
1 cup soy milk
1 tbs vanilla
2 tbs lemon zest

a jar of raspberry preserves (any berry preserve will be good though!)
vegan lemon curd (see below)
Basic decorators "butter cream" icing (the earth balance/powdered sugar/splashes of soy milk and vanilla kind. I've never really paid attention to how much of each of these i use but there's a million recipes for this online)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare the pans - I coated them with non stick spray and flour, lined the bottom with waxed paper and put a sprayed and floured flower nail in the middle for even heating in the deep pans. This is actually the first time I've even used the flower nails I bought months ago ha!

Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream the margarine and slowly add the sugar. Cream with an electric hand mixer until it gets fluffy and the color is noticeably lighter. Add the egg replacer in four parts, beating well after each addition. The batter should still be very fluffy! This is key for a light and crumbly cake. Alternate adding the flour and liquids, starting by adding the flour mixture. It is important to do this in sections so the batter doesn't separate!  The batter will be pretty thick. Pour all of the batter into a 9x3" deep round pan (or two regular 9" round pans).  If you have them, wet and wrap the bake-even cake strips around the outside of the pans.  This will help the cakes be level and is more important for pans larger than 9". 

For the deep pan, bake for about an hour, but start checking for doneness after 45 minutes. For the 12" cakes, I doubled this recipe and baked for about an hour and 20 minutes.  Remove from the pans after at least 15 minutes and let cool COMPLETELY before torting (waiting until the next day is good, and keeping the cakes well wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator is even better).  While you wait, make the lemon curd!

Vegan Lemon Curd

This is a pretty thin curd - it was the consistency of a jelly when kept in the refrigerator over night, which was a perfect spreadable consistency for cake assembly! It tastes like a sweet pie filling and could be used as one by upping the cornstarch!  It also was safe to use in a cake that was not refrigerated the day of the wedding.

1 c. water
2/3 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 c. sugar
3 tbs. corn starch
1.5 tbs. Ener-G egg replacer (powder, not mixed with water)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs earth balance
1/4 c. soy milk
1/2 tbs lemon zest

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, egg replacer and salt in the bottom of a sauce pan until it looks smooth and there are no corn starch lumps. Add the water and lemon juice and stir cold to further break down any lumps.  Cook over medium heat whisking continually. Continue whisking over the heat a couple minutes after it boils to cook out any starch flavor. Turn off the heat and wisk in the earth balance, soy milk and lemon zest. It will look like a translucent pudding.

Stir every minute or so for 5 minutes to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to at least room temperature before using, but over night in the refrigerator worked great!

Now assemble the cake! If your cakes are not flat, cut some off the top just to get it approximately level. Cut the cake horizontally twice to form three even layers (or as my pictures should show evenish is fine!).  Cut the top layer off first and slide a cake board under it to remove it and repeat with the second layer:
To fill the cake, pipe a dam around the border of the bottom layer. Spread a layer of curd and jam inside the dam and carefully slide the next layer off the cake board to be even on top of the filled bottom layer. Repeat filling the second layer and carefully placing the top layer of the cake.
Ice a thin crumb coat over the entire cake and place it in the refrigerator to crust over a bit.  Add a final smooth (or smoothish) layer of icing over the cake and decorate as you like!

To stack the cakes, I presses a 9" cake board into the final icing coat of the 12" cake after it had dried some to mark where to place the top layer. I cut 4 sections of wooden dowels the exact height of the 12" cake, placed one into the middle and the other three as an equilateral triangle, each dowel placed at the midpoint of the edge of the 9" cake mark and the center of the 12" cake. I put the dowel supports in at home, brought the cakes to the wedding in separate boxes and assembled the rest there...i'm WAY too much of a clutz to try to transport assembled cakes! the assembly part took pretty much no time at all since these were stacked, not tiered cakes. I'm not much of a decorator so we got some edible flowers on top of the not so smooth icing....the only picture I took of the final product is on my makeshift assembly space at Jack and Dominique's place! They tasted way better than they look!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vegan Tamales: Take 1

My missing tamale notes decided to turn up! Actually, I decided to clean my room a little....  This is yet another first attempt at a food I'd been meaning to make for a while.  The masa turned out pretty good, even though I'd heard it can be tricky to get it right.  This definitely took a long time and a good bit of labor but wasn't hard by any means.  The masa made enough for about 24 tamales (if i remember correctly, and it's been a few weeks now) but there was a lot of filling left (which made made delicious burritos with some extra rice and beans!).  I was pretty pleased with the 3:2:1 masa:broth:oil ratio and will just scale it to how many I want from now on...The filling on its own was a little bit spicy, but wasn't so much when eaten in the tamales. I'll use more poblanos next time!

Seitan and Summer Squash Tamales:
for the filling:
1 recipe seitan (I made the one from my seitan asada) chopped
3 poblano peppers
2 cups diced summer squash
6 cloves garlic (at least)
1/2 c chopped onion
salt to taste

Roast the poblanos until slightly charred (I used a broiler) and place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to steam. Peel off the skins.  Discard the seeds and membranes and chop the flesh.  Saute all of the filling ingredients until the squash is slightly softened.

for the masa:
4 1/2 c Masa flour (I used Maseca brand)
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs onion powder
1/2 tbs garlic powder
3 c vegetarian beef broth
1 1/2 c oil
salt to taste

Mix the masa flour and spices in a large bowl.  Stir in the broth and oil and need with your hand for a few minutes. Add water or masa so that the texture is soft but moldable. 

Soak dried corn husks in warm water for about 20 minutes (until they are pliable). Shake off the excess water and dry them off slightly before filling. Spread about a half cup of masa on the husk leaving two adjacent edges uncovered and add 3 or 4 tbs filling to the middle, like so:

Fold the long side of the husk that has masa spread to the edge over the filling and roll it to completely surround the filling. Fold the unfilled end of the tamale over like an envelope:

Place the rolled tamale with the fold side down to keep it together while you roll the rest.  Stand the tamales upright on the folded ends in a large steamer. Steam for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the masa is solidified (check by peeling back the husk on a tamale).   I served these with mexican rice, black beans, guacamole and pico (I don't have any pictures of the fully assembled plate - I was hella hungry by then!). 

Sunday, April 12, 2009


One for the list of awesomely stupid things I'll spend hours doing just to amuse myself: A killer Rabbit of Caerbannog cake (for easter, duh)! The cake was eaten and there was much rejoicing!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Faux Pho Bo

I was planning on posting about the tamales I made, well, I guess like two weeks ago now, but I can't seem to find where I wrote down all the measurements (that I remember to write things down at all is amazing enough!). So I guess I'll HAVE to make some more, much to my test kitchen's dismay I'm sure! 

Instead I'll post my first batch of Pho (before I misplace that).  This is another food that I decided to make without ever having the real thing, and no one who tried any had real beef Pho either, so I can't vouch for authenticity...but it was tasty!  I was stingy with the anise since I am not a huge fan, but it was very subtle so I would even add more next time.  I also used store bought vegetarian beef bouillon.  Yeah, I cheat sometimes.

Vegetarian Pho Bo
8 cups vegetarian beef broth
1 1/2 - 2 inch section of ginger, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
3 whole star anise (or more)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Shallots, quartered
3 - 4 Tbs soy sauce (to taste)
7 oz rice noodles 
1 recipe seitan
bean sprouts
lime wedges
fresh cilanto
fresh basil leaves
sliced scallions
sliced thai chilis

Prepare a recipe of seitan: I used the same one as the asada tacos but replaced the spices with 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp pepper and used 2 Tbs soy sauce and 1 Tbs Worcestershire instead of equal amounts. 

While that bakes make the broth:  Toast the shallot, cinnamon and anise a few minutes in the bottom of a pot. Add the ginger slices and broth, bring it to a boil and let simmer for at least a half hour.  Strain the broth and return it to the pot.  Add soy sauce to taste.  

Prepare the rice noodles according to the package (mine weren't in English, but I soaked the noodles about 15 minutes in cold water and boiled a few minutes in salted water until they were tender but not mushy).  Slice up the garnish veggies and seitan, throw it all in a bowl and enjoy!