Monthly Archives

July 2012

decadent treat food, dessert, recipes

Vegan Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries


So last week before I fell ill, I veganized a buttermilk cake for a few reasons:

1.  I had some leftover whipped topping that needed a use (aside from me shoveling it in my face with my hands).

2.  I had leftover cashew cream that also needed a use.

3.  Cake.  Caaaaake.

I want to talk about buttermilk for a minute.  It’s really easy to veganize – if you have soy creamer or homemade nut cream (made with a 1:1 ratio of water/nuts), just dilute it with a little bit of water and you’ll get this rich, thick milk very similar to dairy buttermilk.  The finishing touch is to add a squeeze of lemon juice (I find it’s the most non-offensive acid) to the milk and let it curdle for a few minutes.  It works really well in baking and it’s really simple.

I’ve also veganized buttermilk for recipes, using regular non-dairy milk with a squeeze of lemon, and the results are good, but for this recipe I wanted something more rich and luxurious.  Soy creamers are available at most health food stores (and some big box stores around here carry them too!), and I’ve seen Mimicreme around too, which is an almond/cashew blend and a good alternative to soy.

Of course, making cashew cream is easy as pie – all you gotta do is blend 1 cup of cashews with 1 cup of water until relatively smooth, and then strain it with a strainer bag (or fine mesh sieve) for a really flawless cream.  You can add a bit of sweetener to it and voila, your morning coffee has a new best friend!  You can also dilute some of the cream with water to make a refreshing glass of non-dairy milk, or use it for creamy pasta sauces and soups.  It’s so handy to have!

And of course, you can make cake.  Because come on – cake.

Vegan Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries
Lightly adapted and veganized from Food and Wine magazine
Makes 1 9-inch cake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
2/3 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons blended soft tofu or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (about 1/3 cup cream with enough water to equal 1/2 cup, plus a squeeze of lemon)
1 cup blackberries, plus more for serving
Vegan whipped topping, for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Rub margarine all along the inside of a 9-inch cake pan, and then sprinkle in some flour and shake around to coat.  Set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the margarine with 2/3 cups of sugar until fluffy (a fork works fine).  Then beat in the tofu and vanilla.  Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, ending with the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to overbeat!

3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top.  Scatter the blackberries across the top of the batter and lightly press them in.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar over the top of the cake.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

4.  Let the cake sit in the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, and then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.  Serve with whipped cream and more blackberries.

This cake was super easy to make, and was really elegant too.  I shared some with coworkers and was met with a very enthusiastic response, especially toward the sugar baked on top.  I had to agree – it added just a little bit of crunch and sparkle to an otherwise fairly ordinary (but awesome!) white cake.  I highly recommend this one as a light summer treat, if you’re so inclined to turn on the oven.

And now I must spend some time memorizing some songs, since the summer is short and there is busking that needs to be done.  A friend of mine named Jessica, a fellow music teacher and guitar player, has been so kind as to jam with me and learn a wide repertoire of music to grace downtown and the liquor stores with.  Not only do I never see girls busking here, I typically don’t see much that’s musically interesting in my city.  So we’re going to challenge the norm and hopefully make a few bucks while doing so. 🙂

With that said, happy Tuesday-ings!

Brunch, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 6: Breakfast Burritos and Iced Coffee

Hey all!

This week, I had big kitchen plans.  Sort of.  Okay, the usual.  But then I got sick and just didn’t do much aside from going on Community-watching marathons.  I’m just a little rough now, though I was feeling better on Saturday night, and I had this bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I really wanted to try, and there was this foosball tournament, and so it goes.

Cut scene to Sunday morning.  Allysia stumbles through the kitchen, swigs a jug of water and devours a bowl of ramen noodles, while mumbling something about ramen being the ultimate hangover cure.  That, and this:

Does anyone else have a thing for chocolate milk on those fuzzy post-booze mornings?  Hot chocolate, too.  Man, there was nothing I wanted more than this little brown carton when I woke up.  It was the best thing I ever drank (even better than the coffee that came later, AND I don’t even like this brand of chocolate milk as much as others).  You better believe that I crushed every last drop out of that thing.

With help from the much-needed ramen and chocolate milk, I was able to focus on the very important task of burrito-making.  That’s right, breakfast burritos for brunch.  It was a damn good choice too, seeing as there was actually some nutritional value to these burritos which I hear is a good thing after a night of hootenanny.

If you’ve got a panini press, the best thing ever is to press your breakfast burritos for a few minutes, because it does a good job sealing up the burrito so it doesn’t completely fall apart when you’re eating it.  There’s some finesse involved in burrito-rolling too (don’t worry Mike, I won’t tell them about your attempts this morning), which really just requires practice (more burritos to eat!).

Check out this bean, rice and kale burrito if you want to see pictures on the wrapping and rolling process.  Good luck, and remember – too many fillings and the burrito goes a’spilling.  Yep, just made that up.  But it’s true!

Mexi-Style Breakfast Burritos

What you need:

-Scrambled tofu, however you like it (we cooked 1 block of medium-firm tofu with onion, garlic, and some simple seasonings)

-Refried beans (if I had black beans I would’ve used them, flavoring them up a bit with salt, chili powder, cumin and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Instead, what I had was chickpeas.  I mashed ’em up a bit and cooked with some water to get a slight paste consistency.)
-chopped, sauteed spinach
-Vegan cheese (we used Daiya pepperjack)
-Prepared salsa
-Guacamole, made how you like (really good with chopped tomato, jalapeno, garlic, lemon juice and salt)
-Large, soft wheat tortillas

What you do:

1. Assemble all of your ingredients – scramble the tofu, refry the beans, mash up some guac, get it all prepared.

2.  Layer on the toppings!  I started with vegan cheese since I knew the burritos would be visiting the panini press and I wanted the cheese to get nice and melty.

Hello, my shadow!

Next up, tofu scramble and refried chickpeas.

Follow that up with the sauteed spinach, cilantro, and a generous portion of guacamole and salsa.

3. Rolling time!  Like I mentioned earlier, you might want to visit this other burrito post where I show some step-by-step pictures of the rolling process.

4.  Heat up a panini press if you’ve got one and cook the burritos, seam-side down, for a few minutes.  It’ll seal the seam and the wrap will get just a little crisp.  The cheese will also get nice and melty!

Mmm, breakfast burritos.  We each ate two of these while kicking back and watching Firefly, along with sipping one of these:

Iced coffee is kind of a no-brainer to make, but I’ll let Mike tell you about it anyway.  Especially since we were supposed to be drinking something different.

So after spending some time yesterday preparing and testing a perfect drink pairing for the burritos, we woke up this morning with anything but booze on the mind.  A tart, fresh morning margarita seemed like a great idea last night, but became something to fear this morning.  It looks like we will all have to wait for delicious brunch tequila until some other suitable meal comes along.  But anyway, on to what we did make: awesome iced coffee.

Our iced coffee was more of a pseudo-latte.  Strong coffee, lots of soy milk.  I won’t give a super-detailed description of how to make it (because I’m fairly certain that everyone knows how to make iced coffee), but I will give a few pointers which can help you knock it up a notch.  Bam.

1. Make the coffee stronger than you normally would.  You’ll be adding a lot of milk to it, so you want the coffee flavor (and the dose of caffeine) to be extra-strength.

2. Try adding a vanilla bean or two to the coffee grounds.  This works especially well with a french press.  You’ll get a slight hint of vanilla, but nothing like the sickly-sweet taste you get from flavor syrups.

3.  A latte involves steamed milk, but since we’re lazy, we’ll just shake it.  Place some ice, coffee, and milk into a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake for a minute or two.  Pour everything into a glass and enjoy!  Since the drink is half coffee, half milk you’d better make it a nice, big glass.

As a final note to this post, I’ve been playing with Pinterest lately – it’s the best thing ever, I have no idea why I waited so long to jump on the bandwagon.  If you want, click the button below to follow me!  It’s tons of fun!

Follow Me on Pinterest

I’ll probably be adding that to the sidebar of my blog, too.  I’ve found so many great, creative ideas on that site, and it’s a far more effective recipe bookmarking system, too.  Who doesn’t love looking at pictures? I might even need to start doing what some of you already do, and dedicate the occasional post to awesome things I’ve pinned.

Take care and happy Sunday!

Brunch, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 5: Omelets and a Bloody Mary


Today’s a pretty special day on my blog – not only have I never attempted vegan omelets before, but it’s our first Boozy Brunch ever!  *insert fanfare*  Mike, equipped with some bitters and my lovely juicer, whipped up freshly-juiced bloody marys (how on earth do you pluralize that?).  Drinking vodka with fresh juice makes the whole experience seem less, uh, sinful.  That, or totally sacrilegious. 🙂

But first, the omelets.

What I came up with was kinda-sorta based on the omelet recipe in Vegan Brunch with a few alterations – namely, the ratios and my method of cooking them.  First up, I spread my omelet batter in a large circle on an even larger frying pan, and then sprinkled on the toppings the way you do a pizza.  When the bottom started to turn a lovely golden color, I folded the omelet in half, pressing down, and cooked another few minutes to get the cheese all melty.  This process worked really well – no flipping required!  And the finished result was so delicious, creamy and really egg-like.  Love!

Vegan Omelets
Serves 2; adapted from Vegan Brunch


1 12-oz pack soft silken tofu

1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for color)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Diced veggies for omelet filling, such as onion, garlic, bell pepper, asparagus, and mushrooms (or whatever else!)
1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I use Daiya)


1. Blend all ingredients (except veggies and cheese) in a blender until smooth.  Lightly spray a non-stick frying pan* with cooking oil and heat over medium-low.  Pour half the batter into the frying pan in a big 8-9 inch circle, spreading it out a little with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle on the diced veggies pizza-style, inside the entire circle.  Be careful not to overload the omelet or you might have difficulty folding it – a generous 1/2 cup veggies is a good estimation.  Cover the veggies with a generous amount of vegan cheese, about 1/2 cup or so.

2.  Cook the omelet for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden and easily separates from the frying pan, and gently fold it in half.  Press down on the omelet and cook for another few minutes or so, until the cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and serve plain, or with ketchup!  Or, you know, any other condiments you like.  And then repeat the process with omelet #2.

*Important note: Use a really, really good non-stick pan for this – as much as I love cast iron, it doesn’t really do the trick here unless you use a LOT more oil, and even then it’s kind of iffy.

The exterior of the omelet was slightly crisp and a beautiful golden color, and the inside was pleasantly creamy and eggy.  I’ve heard that black salt is an awesome substitute for regular salt for eggy things, since it lends a sulfuric taste and smell, but I’ve never tried it before.  Both of us loved these, and I especially loved how easy it was to make – here I thought vegan omelet making had to be this crazy complicated endeavor.  Sometimes it’s good to be wrong!

And now, here’s Mike with a drink to share!

Even though we are well into our Sunday morning adventures, today marks the beginning of a new era in brunch:  the era of the boozy brunch bonanza!  To kick things off, we figured we would start with something fresh, delicious, and even healthy!

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix:
Makes 2 large servings

1 1/2 cups tomato juice (3 tomatoes)

1/2 cup red pepper juice (about 1/2 red pepper)
1/4 cup celery juice (2 celery sticks)
1/4 cup cucumber juice (1/3 large cucumber)
1/2 cup canned tomato juice
pinch of salt and pepper

To start things off, gather your vegetables and get them juiced.  I won’t go into the details, but we found that the proportions above gave a nice, balanced flavor.  Now that we have the mix made, we can put it all together into a tasty cocktail!  I ran into one small problem while I was putting this together: no rimming salts kicking around in my spice rack!  I figured you can’t have a bloody mary without that trademark salty rim, so I decided I would make my own.

Fresh Bloody Mary:
Makes 1 large serving

1 1/2 cups bloody mary mix

2 ounces vodka
dash of tabasco sauce
few dashes of vegan worchestire sauce
juice of 1/2 a lime

Rimming Salts:

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Take rimming salt ingredients and place them in a mortar and pestle.  Grind until mostly smooth. (A note from Allysia: don’t inhale deeply with your face in the spices while you do this.)  Take a large glass and wipe a slice of lime around the rim to moisten it.  invert the glass and rub the rimming salts on the rim until they stick.  To put your bloody mary together, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously until frost forms on the outside of the shaker.  Strain the cocktail into your glass and garnish however you see fit!

Brunch, decadent treat food, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 3: (Freaking Awesome) Cinnamon Rolls

For my Canadian peeps, happy Canada Day! 
I unabashedly admit that my Sunday started out like this.

I used to live on these cup noodles back in the day when I didn’t have the slightest inclination toward anything culinary.  And the coffee mug pretty much says it all.  In a word: wedding.

Happily, I found some energy (possibly artificial energy in the form of coffee) and we whipped up some cinnamon rolls.  I used a dough recipe from the interwebz, but sorta improvised the rest in an attempt to recreate my Granny’s fantastic cinnamon rolls.  The improv worked out extremely well and these are definitely among the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.

(Freaking Awesome) Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 large rolls

For the dough:
this recipe and follow the dough instructions.  A note on veganizing the 2 eggs: the first time I made this, I subbed in 6 tablespoons yogurt, and the second time I used 6 tablespoons blended soft tofu.  Both worked fantastically and I had no problems with my dough at all.

For the filling:
Melt about 1/2 cup vegan margarine.  In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and set aside.  Spread most of the margarine all over your slab of rolled-out dough – it will be a generous amount.  Then, take the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and sprinkle it all over the dough and margarine. Again, this will be fairly generous.  Roll up the slab of dough as per the above recipe and then brush the remaining melted margarine all over the dough tube.  I sliced mine into 12 instead of 15 for bigger rolls.

For the icing:
In a small bowl, combine about 1 cup of icing sugar with a very small amount of non-dairy milk and a splash of vanilla – start with a tablespoon of milk and keep adding in mini increments until a drizzleable texture is achieved.

And now, the best part: pictoral instructions!

When your dough has been chillin’ and rising for an hour, roll it out into a big rectangle.  Mini-skirts and neon tights significantly contributed to my morale in the morning, just FYI.

Hooray, dough rectangle (if you use your imagination a little)!

Now check out all of that margarine.  This is how it must be done for ultimate awesomeness.  It is my Granny’s way, and it is the best way.  Besides, cinnamon rolls are a treat and not an everyday affair (tragically).

Next up comes the brown sugar and cinnamon layer.  Which inevitably ends up looking like this…

Yup, cinnamon-y goodness.  To roll it up, go slow and try to keep it tight and compressed so the rolls hold together properly.  But honestly, it’s just rolling, there’s no crazy science to it.

Cinnamon bun log!  At this point, you’ll want to brush the log with whatever melted margarine you have left – this is gonna help make the buns all golden and perfect.  Pinch the end of the dough to seal the edges.

Then, slice them up into 12 even pieces using a serrated knife.  Look how pretty!  And so easy!

Once they’ve been sliced, they need to get poofy and rise again.  And then they crowd each other all cute-like.

Ready for the oven!

Heaven in a pan!  There they are, all warm and golden and covered in icing.

I was so entranced by these things that I almost forgot to take a close-up shot, but luckily my blogging sense kicked in.  Look how tender the bun is!  So soft!  And the filling was the perfect amount – these were sweet, but not insanely so.

And the damage.  These were happily devoured by family members (straight-up omnivores, I might add – folks not used to my crazy vegan ways), so I would definitely put these in the category of “shit dude, these are really vegan?”.  Every vegan should have arsenal like that.

Well I hope your weekend has been wonderful and filled with good food – I get to kick back and relax tomorrow since it’s a stat holiday up here.  Woo hoo!  A marathon of Community might be on the menu.