Friday, November 30, 2007

Yummy Experiment

I honestly don’t set out to modify recipes – especially when they don’t need changes! But sometimes as you re-invent a good recipe you end up coming up with something totally awesome.

Case in point – Vcon’s Vanillla Ice Cream. Delicious. Just like traditional ice cream in terms of texture, but without the sour taste of cow’s milk. So on Wednesday night, I set out to make a repeat batch. I encountered a few issues. I had exactly ½ of a package of silken tofu, which was the required amount according to the recipe, yet 1 cup of coconut milk left (2 times what the recipe called for). Obviously I didn’t have enough tofu to save for a third batch given the excess coconut milk, and I didn’t have any other recipes that would have used up the excess coconut milk. So I decided to dump the tofu in the blender and add the whole cup of coconut milk. I’ll just cut the required 1 cup soymilk down to ½ cup, I thought. Problem was, I was out of plain soymilk! I decided to then use ½ cup of chocolate soymilk, so I scanned the Chocolate Ice Cream option in Vcon and noticed that it called for melted chocolate chips to serve as the chocolate base. I decided not to go that route, and was now on an adventure.

I dumped in the ½ cup chocolate soymilk, but thought a chocolate ice cream should have more chocolate. I added in some cocoa, and was on my way. I added the required sugar and vanilla, and blended everything together.

After dumping the mixture in my ice cream maker, I had a thought. What if I could mimic the Soy Delicious (also called Purely Decadent) Peanut Butter Zig Zag ice cream that Kyle and I buy almost every week? While the ice cream was mixing, I stirred together some natural peanut butter and maple syrup (to make it sweeter) and stuck it in the freezer to chill, until the ice cream was ready and I had thought about what the heck I was going to do. I decided to take my soft serve ice cream and pour it into a shallow container, then swirled in the chilled PB mixture. After letting the ice cream firm up until the next night, Kyle and I took a sample, and it was awesome. Would have been better if I had ground some chocolate chips up and swirled them in too, for some crunchy bits. Next time!

Choco-PB Swirl Ice Cream
1 cup lite coconut milk
¾ cup sugar
½ pkg (6 oz) silken tofu
½ cup chocolate soymilk
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp vanilla
½ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coarsely ground chocolate chips (optional)

Mix coconut milk, sugar, tofu, soymilk, cocoa and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker, and follow manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, stir together peanut butter and maple syrup. Set aside in freezer. After ice cream has churned for about 35-40 minutes, pour into a shallow oblong container. Drop clumps of PB mixture and ground chocolate chips (if using), and lightly swirl into ice cream using a knife, trying to maintain ribbons. Store in freezer overnight to harden further.

Soft-serve (pre-overnight freezing) and hard ice cream pics shown below...notice the yummy bands of PB!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


After waiting patiently for Tracy to bring me my copy of Vcon on Saturday (OK, maybe I wasn't that patient), I quickly flipped through the pages to find out what I would make. It had been a very long time since I had a new cookbook to flip through (I think VCTOTW was my last purchase!), and I could barely contain myself.

I set out immediately to make some exciting new recipes. I have been keen on trying new salads lately, and the Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad sounded perfect. I decided to serve it on spinach, since it's all I had anyways, and I wanted it to be more of a meal. Of course, after making it, I read the 'Tip' bar which said not to use canned corn...too late! Geez, I had the cookbook in my little paws for only a few hours, and I already screwed up! Oh well, I'm not sure why you can't use canned, but it still tasted great. I don't have a recipe scoring system like Tracy, but I definitely noted in my copy to make this again! Next time, I'll try adding some minced red onions or chopped green onions for added flavour and some red pepper to add a little more colour.

About an hour later, I made an executive decision to bake some cookies. I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies called for much less sugar than I was used to seeing in other cookie recipes. I thought it would also be interesting to see how brown rice syrup works in cookies, as I don't have much experience baking with it and this was the first time I'd seen it in a cookie recipe. I found this recipe to be quite similar to the oatmeal cookies that I was used to making, but I was happy to see that it called for oil instead of Earth Balance - especially when I only needed 1/2 cup of oil compared to my usual 1 cup of EB. This time, I read everything around the recipe (to avoid a similar corn incident), and noted that it would be OK to use chocolate chips. I also added in the last of my chopped walnuts. These cookies are awesome! A must bake!

On Sunday morning, I was STILL in a baking mood! I decided to make my sweetie some Banana-Walnut Waffles. Again, I had to make a small substitution of pecans for the walnuts (due to using them all up for cookies...that was poor planning). They were great! I just think that next time, I won't add maple syrup to the batter and use it as a topping only, as I found that the waffles were sticking to my non-stick iron, no matter how thoroughly I sprayed it with oil. It made so many, that I managed to tuck some away in the freezer to enjoy this weekend!

Finally, I ended my spree by making the Vanilla Ice Cream. Over the past few weeks, I tried doing some online hunting for 'ice cream' recipes, but didn't have much luck. I'm too lazy to cook something first to make a custard, I don't like the idea of xanthan gum or soy lecithin, and I found my recent attempts at using cashews left my ice cream too gritty. Yes, I was being fussy. But I have found the perfect recipe in Vcon - I simply pile the ingredients in a blender, whiz them up, and pour into the ice cream maker. I was skeptical about the recipe calling for silken tofu, as a previous attempt with tofu was too icy and not creamy. Despite that, I remained open-minded. I bought a can of coconut milk (once home, I noticed I got the low-fat kind out of habit), and put it in the fridge, as per the instructions, so that I could skim off the 'cream' the next day. Well, when I took it out of the fridge, I wasn't thinking and tipped it so far back that skimming cream would likely not happen - even if the low-fat kind would have even produced it! So I just poured the required amount of coconut milk instead and hoped for the best. I have to say that after mixing for 35-40 minutes in my ice cream maker, it produced the firmest soft serve that I have made to date. Still, I poured it into a shallow container and froze it overnight to firm it up a little more, as per my usual practice. The next day, I tasted the best ice cream ever, and will not be buying anymore Soy Delicious from now on! I still have enough leftover ingredients to make another batch tonight, and can't wait to try the other suggested flavours!

I'm so glad that I now sound like a Vcon salesperson instead of an Yves' Cuisine salesperson.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Way, way up here in a tiny corner of this northern snow-covered land, I stood in the middle of a bookstore with a newly unpackaged copy of The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook clenched in my little hands. It was a joyous climax to a long, epic struggle fraught with hardships and tears. (The short story is, that after waiting weeks and weeks for our Chapters pre-order to arrive, they ran out of books, so we cancelled and ordered from Amazon. They shipped the next day. I did buy one copy at Chapters as soon as they arrived, only to return it when my online order was delivered. Chapters pre-ordering = sucks)

So the grand tally for my VwaV challenge? I made 57 out of 134 recipes. I was on one hand disheartened, because I thought I could have tried more. On the other hand, I have so many favourites that are so delicious I make them time and time again. And because of the challenge, I now know about Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes, which are a secret treasure. And Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies. And Butternut Vindaloo. Recipes I still want to try? Fresh Corn Fritters, Lemon Corn Waffles, Coconut Pancakes, Knishes and Moroccan Tagine.

But I can't help myself from digging into Veganomicon head first. I had already made a few things from the sneak-peek freebee recipes. And it's funny - from browsing all the photos and reading threads on the ppk, there was already a mental index of the recipes in Vcon formed in my head before I even opened the book. I'm being more organized this time, checking off each recipe in the table of contents as I make it and rating each recipe out of four stars. Here's what I've made so far.

Basic Broiled Tofu (easy and quick)

Chickpea-Noodle Soup (I didn't think I would like it as much as I do)

Chickpea Cutlets (I'll bake these next time because I have no skillet-skills)

Salt and Pepper Tofu (not officially in the book, but SO GOOD!! Again, challenging my frying skills)

Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli with Rotini (changed the name to match what I used)

Tamarind Lentils (When I saw this dish mentioned in the sneak-peek, I knew it would be mine. And it is so forking delicious. Make this now and keep your bed warm tonight.)

Pistachio-Rose Water Cookies (AMAZING! I had to make them because I thought the cupcake version was worth dying for. So are these.)

Just before I got Vcon, mrsbadmouth's zine Don't Eat off the Sidewalk 2 arrived. I had to make the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. They were outta this world. Tay loved them, so make them for your loved ones. I used a 9"x9" pan as stated, but I'd recommend a 9"x13" because they were popping out. I have to be careful - these could make me chubby really quick.

I'm off to read Vcon. I'm only on page 101. The Seitan Baguette with Broth Dip is speaking to me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

International Fare

I've really been looking for easy comfort foods as the weather has gotten much colder. I tried eating foods that were from a theme - food from warmer regions to make me feel the cold less. It sort of worked.

The first stop was Thailand, as I made a recipe I've made a few times before - Peanut and Sesame Noodles from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I love it! I like how crisp the cucumber is, and how the cilantro works with the peanut butter. Instead of tofu, I used Yves Chick'n Tenders (which I seem to add to everything these days). I wouldn't describe myself as a fan of Thai food, but this is tasty. It just makes alot, so I invited friends over to help dig in so that I wouldn't be eating this all week.

Next, I made my way to the US by making Creamy Tofu and Broccoli Skillet from the Vegetarian Family Cookbook. Instead of tofu, I added in Yves Chick'n Tenders (again) just to get some added protein. I loved how easy and creamy this was. I served it over brown rice and had a tasty sweet potato on the side.

With my leftover rice, I made another recipe from the same book - and headed down south with the Southwestern Rice and Black Bean Salad. I was quite impressed with this meal. It wasn't very spicy, but with my recent heartburn woes, I was happy with it's subtle blandness. It would have been way better with the suggested fresh cilantro, but when I reached for it in the fridge, it was way past it's prime. Next time I'll make sure to have some fresh cilantro on hand, as it would have enhanced the flavours.

To hit another continent, I pulled out a recipe that I hadn't made for seven years - Morrocan Tofu Tagine with Jeweled Couscous from VT. Instead of using honey, I used agave nectar, and I subbed - you guessed it! - Yves Chick'n Tenders for the tofu. So good!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

In search of Genie's ass

I realize I'm the last person on Earth to receive Veganomicon. Well, second last, because Sarah's book will arrive along with mine (someday) in my mailbox, so technically she'll be the last one. I want it. Bad. I thought my VwaV challenge would distract me from how painstakingly slowly anything arrives in the mail, but alas, no. Other Chapters customers who pre-ordered received their copies, but not us. My challenge is kinda anti-climactic at this point, but I'll post the new recipes I've tried anyway. Actually, the hardest part of the challenge isn't making new recipes, but not making the ones I really really love over and over. And I did - Marinated Tofu, The Best Pumpkin Muffins, Big Gigantoid PB Cookies and Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies to name a few.

I'm not a huge breakfast eater, but had to try Banana-Pecan Pancakes, topped with Blueberry Sauce.

Whoever first combined bananas and pecans together was a genius. Or genie-ass, as we like to say around these parts.

Although I've made a lotta chili in my day, I never followed the Chili Sin Carne al Mole recipe to the letter. I didn't this time either, subbing Yves ground round for the seitan and kidney beans and chickpeas for the pinto beans. I loved the flavour though, and this was the first time I had ever added molasses to chili. Genie-ass.

I had to cheat and try a Veganomicon recipe. I've wanted to make the Panko Stuffed Mushrooms ever since I saw the v'con sneak peek. This was taken pre-bake.

On the plate.

Using panko for the breadcrumbs - genie-ass. These were so good - crunchy/salty/soft/savoury. I'm not a big eat-a-mushroom-whole fan and I loved them. The mushrooms were baby portabellas, since I have never seen a "stuffing mushroom" so labelled here.

Last week was my birthday, an event I love to share with family but not the whole world. Pete slaved over a wonderful feast of roasted butternut squash soup, strawberry spinach salad, garlic bread and Tofu Ricotta-stuffed shells. It was so deliciously good that I hardly had room for dessert. But Sarah had made Isa's Sm'love Pie again.

That's the lightnin' fast slice'n'serve gettin' my piece. I wasn't wastin' no time. Of course, they both should realize they've set the bar so high for next year. I'm spoiled. Thanks guys!

From Sarah and my mom and Gord, I received a waffle iron! Of course I had to knock off another VwaV recipe - Pumpkin Waffles (pumpkin has been a recurring theme here, I know). I used whole wheat flour (strangely enough, the same weekend Isa posted about them) so they were pretty hefty and filling. I still need to master the feng shui of the waffle iron. This photo doesn't really do my inexperience justice.

That's really all I've been up to while waiting....patiently...for my veganomicon to ship.