Saturday, 12 September 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 3, days 4-7 - Vegan Brunch

I haven't been making a lot from VB, which is why I haven't blogged in a while. I'm doing a catch-up today, though I can't really remember what I made on which nights, to be honest. I mean, there was at least one night when we had cereal for dinner, and last night, I'm ashamed to say, we actually had donuts and coffee cake for dinner. I had every intention of making decent food, but Mike ended up not being particularly hungry after eating 3 donuts and a piece of coffee cake. Anyway, I digress. I'll go in order.

At some point this week, I made Spinach and Millet Polenta with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto:

This one is actually a hold-over from last week's challenge, Vegan with a Vengeance. I had intended on making it last Sunday with spinach I got from the Farmers' Market, but I didn't get around to it because it is a bit time consuming. The spinach was on the brink, so I decided to make the polenta before I ended up having wasted the money (although I think we got a deal on the spinach because it was the end of the day and they were trying to get rid of everything).

I baked the polenta to avoid the extra fat from pan-frying, and I used ground almonds for the pesto since I had a big bag of ground almonds and a small bag of slivered almonds (and no whole almonds). I served it with roasted asparagus.

I can't believe I waited so long to try this recipe. I think I was scared off by the pesto, since I can't have regular pesto (allergic to pine nuts), or maybe the sun-dried tomatoes, or maybe even the amount of time it takes to make. Either way, I'm so glad I finally made this. It is freaking amazing. The pesto was a perfect complement to the polenta. It was so delicious that I actually turned the oven back on to make seconds. I will definitely make this again (though probably in stages and well in advance so I can just throw everything together, because it took ages).

I made East Coast Coffee Cake (jam swirl variation) on Friday:

Oh yeah, I busted out the heart-shaped pan!

I've actually made this before (raspberry jam swirl and chocolate chip layer variations), but I needed to use up some applesauce that's taking up room in the fridge and wanted to make something from VB for which I had all the ingredients on hand. This time I made it with seedless bramble jam I got from the Farmers' Market. It was just as delicious as last time. OK, I lie, nothing is as delicious as chocolate and raspberry. But it was delicious. I love this recipe.

Finally, tonight's dinner was Sesame Tofu Scramble with Greens and Yams:

This was delicious and super easy (if you prepare ahead, which, for once, I did). It has just a few ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes to cook. We both scarfed this stuff. The flavours were really subtle - a bit of saltiness from the soy sauce, just a bit of sweetness from the sweet potato, the slightest hint of heat from the peppers. It felt a bit lighter than regular tofu scramble. It was really nice.

Mike is going out tomorrow, so I'm gonna try to make the Matzoh Brie and Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes at some point.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 3, days 2 & 3 - Vegan Brunch

I've managed to make quite a few recipes in the past couple of days - two for dinner last night, one for lunch today, some muffins, and tonight's dinner. So, here they are in order of when they were made.

Last night's dinner was Basic Scrambled Tempeh with Roasted Squash:

I used the mystery squash from this post instead of the butternut in the recipe, but I think the results were the same. It was exactly what the recipe said it would be - a bit crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. I usually roast squash with sweet things (i.e., maple syrup), so this was different, but in a good way. It was a nice accompaniment to the tempeh, which we thought was just alright. It tasted a bit too much like health food. We both liked the dish, though Mike left most of his tempeh and tried to eat my kale. I don't know if I'll make it again, since tempeh is kinda pricey and I like for it all to get eaten.

I had a really long day today (up at 6 AM and out the door before Mike even had to start getting ready for work, which is very unusual), so I decided that I deserved a proper cooked lunch, and I made the Puttanesca Scramble.

I've been wanting to try this for a while, but Mike isn't a fan of olives, so I had to wait for a time that I could make it just for myself. I'm so glad I did. The flavours were really nice, even though I had to sub dried for fresh herbs (I couldn't find fresh) and boxed chopped tomatoes for fresh (because I can't be arsed). It came together really quickly, too. My only complaint is that it didn't seem very filling. I made a half recipe, and I ate the whole shebangabang in about an hour and still didn't feel full. This is the type of dish that's best served with something else.

I also made the Pumpkin Bran Muffins:

I have to say, although these were nice, they just aren't as good as The Best Pumpkin Muffins from VwaV. The bran made them feel very health food-y, which isn't necessarily bad. They're good, but I won't be replacing the VwaV muffins any time soon.

And since I'd opened the jar of pumpkin puree and didn't have room to store it, I made Pumpkin French Toast for dinner:

This was tasty, but the pumpkin flavour wasn't pronounced enough to make me want to use a muffin recipe's worth of the stuff to make this again. The funny thing is that Mike thought it was too pumpkin-y, and that it wasn't spiced enough. However, I should also mention that he thinks it needed pepper. Anyway, I also think the bread should probably have been sliced a little more thinly. I got as close to one inch as possible, but I thought it was a bit too thick. It also left me with some slightly tough crusts. I don't really make french toast that often, but I think I might be a bit boring when it comes to it. I should've made the Fronch Toast in VwaV last week. Oh well.

I only plan on making one more recipe for this cookbook challenge. Or, at least, I had, but I've just realised that today is only Tuesday, and I haven't really planned for meals for the rest of the week. I might have to re-evaluate my plans, preferably to include more veg.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 3, day 1 - Vegan Brunch

OK, I was really kinda crap with last week's cookbook challenge. I'll try to be better with this week. That said, this week is Vegan Brunch, and there are so many recipes I want to try, I've decided to just do a few this week and then use this book as my VeganMoFo project.

We had one of Mike's friends over, so I made the Coffee Chip Muffins:

They both really liked them, though I wasn't all that keen. The coffee flavour was pretty subtle, and I was hoping for a lot more. I also thought they were a bit too chewy and not quite as fluffy as I would've liked. Still, all but two of them are gone (and those only survive because I put them away before Mike could eat them - they're going with him for his lunch tomorrow). I'm beginning to wonder if I'm so tired because I'm crashing from the caffeine. Anyway, I don't know if I'll make these again. Maybe if I'm having a coffee fan over. And I might double the coffee if I do.

Here's where my post gets sad. I wasn't feeling making dinner, but then I looked at the recipe for the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes and realised I had all the ingredients, and they don't take that long. So I got out my tempeh...and it smelled of fish that's about to go off. It was pretty disgusting. I don't know why it was like that. I didn't even realise tempeh could smell like that, especially since it still looked fine (though it's really hard to tell when tempeh's gone off just by looking). I really wish I'd bought the other package of it when I was at Real Foods.

So, I decided instead to make omelets with burnt broccoli, since we'd bought broccoli at the Farmers' Market yesterday. But when I cut up the broccoli, I kept finding bugs. If it had only been one or two, I would've been OK. But there were several, and I couldn't be sure that I'd gotten them all. I actually felt ill thinking about the possibility that I might end up eating a bug, so we decided that it was better to waste the money than for me to throw up my dinner. We ended up having cheeze omelets, which were still delicious.

Oh, and we finally managed to get to the Farmers' Market when the Engine Shed was there, so we got the delicious Gypsy Cream cookies they sell. These are oatmeal cookies with a coffee buttercream sandwiched between them. Nom! I really need to make these myself. Two packages of two sammich cookies each cost us £3. I'm sure I could make them for cheaper.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 2, days 3-5 - Vegan with a Vengeance

I've been crap about this week's challenge. Not only have I made far fewer recipes, I've not been posting when I did make something. So, this'll be my catch-up post.

Tuesday I made the Cauliflower-Leek Kugel with Almond-Herb Crust:

I have to say, it was just OK. I mean, we ate most of it (though Mike didn't really finish either night we ate it), and it wasn't bad. I just wasn't all that keen. It might have been the texture or the flavour, too much or too little of one herb or another - I honestly can't put it into words. Also, it was a bit time-consuming to make and required a few ingredients that I never use (what am I gonna do with the rest of that box of matzohs?). It was alright, but I probably won't make it again.

I started making the Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting that night. I made the cake layers, but I didn't realise the frosting had to sit for an hour, so I waited until Wednesday to make that part. Then, when I started the frosting (as in, the soy cream was in the pan and the heat was on), I realised that I didn't have enough chocolate. I ended up having to go to 3 stores to finally find some vegan chocolate. Pain in the ass. I finally finished yesterday afternoon:

This was another labour intensive recipe, though part of that was my fault (next time I need to pay attention to the recipe and actually calculate how many grams are in an ounce so I get the right amount of chocolate). And even though I typically prefer a buttercream to a ganache, this cake was delicious. The cake layers were nice and moist, and the ganache set nicely. I love the combination of chocolate and raspberry (in case you couldn't tell from previous posts), and I feel this could've used a bit more raspberry flavour, but I think the only way that could've happened is with raspberry extract or syrup in the cake or ganache. I might make this again, though likely for an event rather than just to have cake, though I might use the cake recipe to use in something similar but buttercream-frosted.

Tonight's dinner was Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Croquettes with Mushroom Sauce (minus the mushrooms because Mike is a hater) with roasted cauliflower (I bought too much for the kugel and wanted to use it up before it went off):

The whole meal was wonderful. I was worried, based on other people's experiences, that the croquettes would be too crumbly or something. But they held together perfectly, and I didn't find them overly crunchy. The sauce was delicious, though I really wish I could've made it with mushrooms. I served it as suggested, with a heap of quinoa covered in sauce. And, of course, the cauliflower was delicious, but roasted cauliflower always is. I have an assload of sauce left, but I'm sure I won't have any problem finding something to do with it once I've finished off the rest of the croquettes and quinoa. I'm sure I'll make this again, though probably when we have people over, since it's makes too much for just the two of us, and I don't know how the croquettes will hold up after refrigeration.