Monday, October 31, 2011

My First All Edible Candy Land

Over the past month I think I have played Candy Land with Mac about a zillion times. Boy loves his Candy Land. Then awhile back he said "we should make a Candy Land that you can eat" and I said "sure buddy" and then I started thinking...could I actually make an edible Candy Land? I decided I would go for it and try to make it as close as I could to the board game version we have. So over the past three days I have been baking and icing and I'm pretty sure I'm literally candied now. It's hard not to lick your fingers and take a little taste here and there, right?! For the final day of Vegan MoFo, my biggest challenge yet and here's the final product...

Here's a few close up shots...don't want you to miss all that detail I went to so much trouble to put in there. And you will notice, I paid attention during Top Chef Just Desserts and I didn't forget the back so it's a full panorama experience!

At the end of all of that...I made 12 batches of vanilla cake using the cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, I used almost 4 kg of icing sugar, 1 bag of Dandies, 3 packages of Earth Balance Shortening, 3 packages of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, 21 ice cream cones, 3 bags of jelly beans, 1 bag of Enjoy Life Brand Chocolate Chunks, almost all of my natural food colouring, 1/2 a tube of marzipan, 1 recipe of gingerbread and about all of my patience and creativity! I'm drained but it is so worth it seeing it all finished and seeing how happy Mac is to see it "in real life" as he said. My personal favourites are Chocolate Mountain, which is made of Dandies treats, covered in Chocolate Chunks then I poured melted chocolate over top of those to get some real texture to it to make it look all craggy like the one in the game and I love the Ice Palace (mostly because I had no idea what I was going to do to make it just this morning and some how I pulled it out by custom made gingerbread and icing). Now I'm off to enjoy what's left of Halloween with my family and hopefully we will get a few trick or treaters!

Thanks to everyone who has read my posts over MoFo, I'm so happy somebody is reading this! I hope you stick around, I have lots more to share and now that I have finished this big project, it's back to recipe testing and more!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First Molecular Gastronomy Kit

I know it's not every one's thing but Molecular Gastronomy is so interesting to me. I always used to ask for science kits and an Easy Bake oven for Christmas as a kid so it all makes sense right? I found this kit from Molecule-R in Montreal online and I immediately added it to my Christmas wish list. But I have it now you say...yeah, I'm crazy impatient and ended up talking my husband into getting it now instead of waiting til Christmas. The kit is so cool, even the packaging had me all geeked out. It comes with Agar-agar, Calcium Lactate (when I ordered I asked if it was non-dairy and they said yes but please check again for yourself before ordering since these things can change), Sodium Alginate, Soy Lecithin, Xantham Gum, a tool kit and an instructional DVD. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet but I did watch the DVD and look through the recipes they included. Good news to vegans, a lot of the recipes are already vegan or easily made so (eg. agave for honey or non-dairy milk for milk) though some are definitely not. I can't wait to get a moment to try this whole thing out. I really want to try making fruit noodles and there is a recipe on the DVD for a molecular egg and it's actually vegan...though it's made as a dessert with coconut milk. I think I might work on a savoury version too though since I have been seeing pictures of a vegan egg sandwich from Homegrown Smoker in Portland. I'll keep you posted! 

Sorry for the cover picture...the salmon is the only thing on there
that I think is not-vegan and it's right on the front. I apologize if anyone
is freaked out by that.

Contents of the tool kit you get with the kit

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My First Picture Post

Totally copping out on this post but I'm up to ears in cake and dinner so hopefully you will forgive me! Here's some pictures from this week in our kitchen. Most are test recipes for Terry Hope Romero's newest book project! (And if anyone can give me some pointers on placing pictures in Blogger...please help me!!!)

Tomatoes Stuffed with Creamy Rice
 - Test Recipe for Terry Hope Romero

Fennel Salad with Oranges and Olives
 - Test Recipe for Terry Hope Romero

Crispy Eggplant and Zucchini with Garlicky Potato Dip
 - Test for Terry Hope Romero
Gyro Roasted Seitan
- Test for Terry Hope Romero
Lemon Garlic Roast Potatoes
- Test for Terry Hope Romero

Crazy popcorn I bought at Rainbow Foods last week
because I just had to know what it would look like popped

Looked the same once it was popped though

Greek Village Salad - Test for Terry Hope Romero

Scramble Tofu Breakfast Bahn Mi
- Test for Terry Hope Romero

Friday, October 28, 2011

My First Frito Pie

So over Vegan MoFo, I have been introduced to so many new blogs and new kinds of foods. I took a special interest in Lazy Vegan Smurf's blog post about Frito Pie. I had no idea this existed but once I did I had to try it! Today when I was doing the weekly restock, I spotted a bag of Fritos so it was fate that today be the day I tried out this dish. I decided to have it for lunch but only because I had a frozen bag of chili up in the freezer so I knew I could get it together pretty quickly. I mixed up a batch of cheesy sauce from Hearty Vegan (the one used in the Irish Nachos, it's my favourite), warmed up my chili, chopped up a bit of onion and pickled jalapeno and bust open that bag of Fritos like it was Christmas. Check out this plate of delicious!

I'm not really sure what one serving of this is supposed to look like but this was mine...all mine!!! I had a little Tofutti sour cream on the side because those jalapenos are hot (but I like it!). It is seriously one of the best junk food things I've ever eaten! I thought it would be just like Chili Cheese Nachos but the Fritos really make it special. It's crunchy and spicy and cheesy and sooo good, trust me you need this in your life! Next time I will definitely try the recipe for Texas Chili from the Sunny Days in Texas Zine because it looks super yummy and I hear is award winning! (by the way you should totally go buy a zine, I did and it is full of great recipes and adorable animal pictures if you get the colour version and all the money goes to Sunny Days Farms Animal Sanctuary!)

I ate up/inhaled the whole plate and then thought about my husband who was going to be very jealous that I had this for lunch without him...uh oh! I then realized I had enough left over chili and cheese sauce to make him up a plate later. But then something amazing came into my mind...Frito Pie Burgers! So, tonight I made some Gardein burgers (super yum!) and topped Ryan's off with a handful of Fritos, a big scoop of chili, smothered that in yummy cheesy sauce and sprinkled the top with chopped onions. Ryan took one bite, then another, then another...I'm like "soooo....?" and he says "Sorry I was too distracted with all this...eating...nom...." and he went back to eating. It's a hit! I did manage to scam a bite and it is really awesome as a burger too. It has a nice crunch from the chips and all that cheesy sauce oozing out the sides was just right. I know he will be requesting this one again and there will be no arguments from me!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My First Soft Pretzels

Miso Garlic Butter = 2tbsp vegan margarine, 2 tsp yellow miso paste, 1/4 tsp garlic powder (smoosh together and microwave for 20-30 seconds to melt)

Today was a blah kind of day here. It's getting chilly and grey. The time of year where I want to hibernate. Bears really have it figured out. I figured we would need a little carbo loading to get ready so today Mac and I made homemade soft pretzels. I used Alton Brown's recipe from Food Network's website. It was pretty simple and the only change I made was vegan margarine for the unsalted butter (and reduced the salt a bit since our margarine is a bit salty) and used a bit of cornstarch mixed with cool water in place of the egg wash to keep the salt stuck. Mac was really excited for kneading the dough and even though I let the stand mixer do most of the work I did let him give it a turn or two. The only downside of a yeast dough to a four year old is the waiting. He wanted to eat them right then and wasn't real happy with me as I explained the whole rising process.

We decided we would shape them into letters, one for each member of our household. There's a giant D for Daddy, a N for Nana, one M for Mac and one M for Mommy. One M has cinnamon sugar rolled inside of it and Mac decided that could be mine. Score for me! The rest I made into traditional pretzel shapes. I decided to make a flavoured butter to dip mine in. I went with a miso garlic butter (recipe under photo as caption in case you missed it) and hot damn, it was tasty! Kinda like the Parmesan butter they pour over crazy bread at Little Caesars. It will definitely find it's way onto some bread sticks sometime soon and now I'm really craving pizza! I think this weekend we will have a pizza party!

Thinking deep pretzel thoughts

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My First Projects for Joni's Next Book

Confession time...I am a super craft nerd. I literally have a dresser in my room dedicated to holding all my crafting gear (please read this sentence like Rob Lowe's character on Parks and Rec because that is how I am thinking it). I have a crap ton of scrapbook paper, stamps, fabric, stickers, punches, glitter and as much as I love a kitchen gadget, I love my crafting gadgets too. Provo Craft has way too much of my money to prove that!

I never really thought my crafting and cooking loves would collide but that all changed when I saw a tweet from Joni Marie Newman looking for a few crafty vegans to help test for her newest book project. I don't think I could have typed up my email any faster to get in on this one. This book is so perfectly up my alley! So far, I don't know much, the working title is Vegan Food Gifts: Spread the Vegan Love DIY-Style with 100 Inspired Recipes for Homemade Edible Gifts, Baked Goods, Preserves and More so that gives you a general idea of what to expect. I know I would buy it just from the title. There is going to be all kinds of recipes as well as ways to package them up to give as gifts so you can give them to family and friends. I made up two of the projects so far and wanted to share a peek at them. I will keep posting as I make them and by the end I know you will be just as excited about this book as I am! 

The two small mason jars are filled with Italian Spiced Parm-y Sprinkles (super yummy noochy/nutty parm) that I covered with some Amy Butler Midwest Modern fabric (for the quilt I was definitely going to make and then didn't know how to actually make). The two bags are actually made with the same technique, one with cellophane and one with brown kraft paper. They are tape and glue free yet hold together and you can stuff them full of all kinds of tasty treats.

I'm excited to see what else Joni has in store for this book...I think she is even working on a couple of themed baskets and you even make the basket! Love it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My First Korean BBQ and Kimchi

I have been intrigued by the idea of Korean BBQ and kimchi for awhile but had no idea how to make it. I had never had it and wasn't really sure what it ever tasted like but I liked the sound of it. BBQ is definitely not off limits to vegans, we love a good BBQ as much as the next, we just choose a different vehicle for our sauce. Now I'm sure it would have tasted much better had I gone out to grill it on the BBQ but the weather has gotten a bit cold here for that so I did the best I could inside on my cast iron pan on this one. The recipe was another test for Terry Hope Romero's newest book with a quick made kimchi (also a test recipe for Terry).

I will be honest and tell you I was scared to try the kimchi. Just washing out the food processor after making the red pepper paste made me choke up a little so I figured it was going to be hot and I can be a bit chicken when it comes to heat. It was hot too...but in that flavourful, good way not the burn your face off for no reason way. Mixing the kimchi with the Korean BBQ definitely made a magical pair too. Both were good but together they were delicious! I served it up and as suggested we ate them as a lettuce wrap. It was crunchy, salty, sweet, sour, spicy, complex and scrumptious (that's a taste bud I think...or maybe that's umami). It was everything I thought it would be and then more. I did a mix of tempeh and tofu and a few cloves of garlic too which really added a little oomph! Ryan and I both inhaled enjoyed this one and I will definitely be doing this again someday soon. It came together much quicker than I thought it would and the
flavours it delivered were worth every minute!

My BBQ is ready for it's close up

"Mommy, take my picture too!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

My First Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky

I was so happy this morning to find my copy of Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I had been patiently awaiting it's arrival since I heard about it, then pre-ordered it and even more so since the email saying it had been shipped.

I immediately flipped through to see all the delights it held and as I flipped one page honestly just stopped and stared me in the face. The book was picking a pie for me and it seems this book totally has my number! It stopped on Curried Macaroon Pie and I was like..."HECK YA!". I love the combination of curry and coconut and couldn't wait to take a bite of this pie. I quickly went through the ingredients and thanked the pie gods that I had everything I needed on hand. One quick substitution was made in the gingersnap crust, Speculoos cookies! I had found a few packages last weekend and hadn't really done anything with them yet other than eat them (which is an excellent application for these cookies I might add) and I thought they would work perfectly as a sub for gingersnaps.

I grabbed my springform and went to work and in about an hour I was pulling the most delicious looking pie out of the oven. The smell while the caramel cooked was enough to drive me a bit mad and when I had licked the bowl after scraping most of the filling into the pan, I knew it was going to be good but once I saw those slightly caramelized coconutty edges and smelled the faint hint of curry powder I knew it was love. I patiently waited for a bit for it to cool and as soon as I thought it was okay, I sliced into that pie and served myself a little slice. Don't tell, it was before supper! It is so incredible! It is sweet and spicy but not too much, the curry powder blends so perfectly with the sweet caramelized coconut and the edges are seriously the most addictive thing ever. The Speculoos crust works perfectly with it as well and I now think all crusts should be made with them, always! What is in those cookies?!? As I took my first bite of it, Ryan came in the room and just looked in my direction (and my pie's direction) and I just said "no, it's all mine". I'm joking of course...maybe...I'll let him have a slice or two I guess! This is definitely a great first impression from this cookbook and I am definitely going to try out a lot more...don't worry Banoffee Pie, I hear you calling me!

Don't let it fool's a complex tasting pie with a simple look
This is the bite you will fight someone me!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My First Homemade Vegan Chocolate Bar

It took me awhile but I have finally made my first vegan chocolate bar! I have been thinking about doing it for awhile and this firsts theme for Vegan MoFo has finally pushed me to give it a go. I couldn't find a deep chocolate bar mould (like a Go Max Go kinda bar size) anywhere but I did find a silicone mould at C.A. Paradis here in Ottawa that would do the trick. As for the filling, my mom has been bugging me for ages to recreate a chocolate bar that she remembers from when she was little. She said it had caramel, peanuts and marshmallow all layered inside a chocolate coating. This gave me the perfect way to make something with Dandies for their MoFo contest! Here's what the final result looked like...

And here's how I did it...

Dandies Bars
1 package of Dandies
2 tbsp vegan margarine
400g of vegan dark chocolate, chopped up if not chocolate chips
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup of dry roasted peanuts (no salt or seasoning on them)
1/4 cup of crisp rice cereal
1 recipe of your favourite thick caramel sauce 
(I used Dulce de Coco from Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky)
You'll need a deep chocolate bar mould as well. This is the one I used

1. Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a medium sized glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute, stopping and stirring every 15 seconds or so until it is mostly melted. Stir until completely smooth and let sit for a few minutes before using to coat the mould.

2. Meanwhile, melt the Dandies and the margarine in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring and continue to heat them until they melt and come together. It will happen all of a sudden. When they are melted pour onto a greased half sheet pan and spread it out over half since you want it to be a bit thick. Using a hand held kitchen torch, brûlée the top of the Dandies, like seen below. Set aside.

3. Place your mould on a half sheet pan to help keep it stable while moving it around. Using a small spoon or pastry brush, coat the walls of the mould with the melted chocolate. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to get it to set up. Take out and coat again with chocolate. This time it will set quickly because it's so cold so you have to move quickly. Place in the freezer again for a few minutes to let set. 

4.While your mould is in the freezer get the rest of the filling ingredients ready. Spray a pizza cutter or knife with spray oil and use to cut the brûléed Dandies into slices that will fit inside of the mould. Remove the mould from the freezer. Spoon in about a tablespoon of caramel sauce, top with a sprinkle of peanuts (5-6 halves), place a slice of Dandies in followed by a sprinkle of crisp rice cereal and then another slice of marshmallow. Repeat with the rest of the cavities. Pour melted chocolate over the top of each completed bar, smoothing it out on the top. You might have to add a bit more once it settles and fills in all the space. Place in the freezer again for a few minutes to set the chocolate. Remove from the freezer and then release each bar from the mould, trying not to touch the smooth tops or sides because you will leave fingerprints. Really no one will mind if you do leave fingerprints...they will forget all about that once they have a taste of these!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My First Test Recipe for Terry Hope Romero's New Book

I'm so excited to be testing for Terry Hope Romero's newest book project. It is all kinds of dishes from all over the world and I am so ready to try out some new things! Tonight I made two of the recipes for one big Indian inspired meal. First was Golden Tandoori Baked Tofu.

It was so tasty! Creamy and rich, spicy and bold, just a really amazing combination of flavours. It was so easy too! I had it all prepped and in the oven in like 20 minutes then the oven did the rest.

Then I made Shredded Cabbage with Toasted Mustard Seeds which was also really delicious.

It went really well with the tandoori baked tofu but would also rock any picnic or party spread. These two made quite a first impression...both Ryan and I were in love with both of these and can't wait to try out more!