Monthly Archives

August 2012

Brunch, decadent treat food, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 11: Vegan Donuts

You knew it was coming.

The only thing I’m wondering is why it took me so long to introduce donuts to the growing collection of Sunday brunches.

The morning came too early.  It was 9am, but I was still haggard from playing a show with my band the night before.  Alas, as donuts are yeasted beasts, I was required to haul my ass out of bed to start the dough rising action.

This greatly assisted the cause:

Oh green juice.  Is anything more perfect than you?

For the donuts, I referenced The Pioneer Woman and Vegan Dad, which are good resources if you’re interested in donut-making.  Vegan Dad used flax eggs (ground flaxseed + water) in his donuts, and I used plain vegan yogurt, which worked just fine.  All the other substitutions are easy-breezy.

Vegan Donuts
Makes about 12 large donuts and some donut holes

Ingredients:

1 and 1/8th cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
6 tablespoons plain vegan yogurt (or 2 flax eggs)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

1. Heat the milk on a stove or in the microwave until it’s very warm, but doesn’t burn your finger if you leave it in there a few seconds.  Add the sugar, stir, and then sprinkle the yeast on the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter on the stove but don’t let it get super hot.  Stir the yogurt and salt into the margarine.  Pour the margarine mixture into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the yeast mixture.  Add the flour about 1 cup at a time, stirring until it gets too thick, at which point you’ll need to knead.  Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is nice and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.  Oil a large bowl, swirl the ball of dough around it, cover with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place for an hour.

2.  Lightly flour a baking pan.  Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick.  Use a 2 – 3 inch cookie cutter (or glass rim) to cut out donut shapes, and use a smaller cookie cutter or glass to cut out donut holes.  Since the donut holes are super cute and tasty, you should just reserve them and fry ’em as is.  Place the donuts on the baking sheet.  Repeat the process until you’re out of dough, and keep re-rolling the dough as needed.  Cover the donuts and let them rise until they’re nice and floofy, about 45 minutes.

3.  In a large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to around 375 F.  Fry each donut, one at a time, for about 1 minute on each side, until nice and golden.  Let them drain on paper towels, then let them cool completely on a wire rack.  Repeat until you’ve conquered all of the donuts.

Donut toppings:

For the little donut holes, we kept it simple and rolled them in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.  For the full-size donuts, we made a chocolate glaze as per this recipe, except cutting the recipe in half.  Both toppings were completely awesome.

Aren’t they beautiful?  The last time I had a vegan donut was almost exactly a year ago in Portland.  It’s been too long.

I recommend rolling out the donut dough fairly flat, because then they’ll be nice and full of fluffy air pockets when they rise to full donut size.

Well I hope you all had a great weekend, and I’ve got some exciting news to share for next time.  So until then, peace and such!

Brunch, decadent treat food, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 9: Clubhouse Sandwiches with Homemade Chips

Happy Sunday!

You might think that breakfast ramen and coffee is a theme of mine, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  There’s something about ramen first thing in the morning after a night of hootenanny.  Besides, I needed time to chill, and I needed something in my belly before brunch.  I regret nothing.

And what a brunch it was – check it.

Though definitely more on the side of “standard lunch fare”, I really wanted to make a vegan clubhouse sandwich and since it’s my brunch series, it’s my rules.  Plus, look at it.  I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to eat the crap out of that, even omnivores.  I just wouldn’t tell them it’s vegan. 🙂

On the side of the sammie you see homemade potato chips (method explained below) and some fried pickles for good measure.  Already had the hot oil going so why not, right?

Oh yeah!  A very important component of the sandwich was (mostly) homemade vegan bacon that Mike described as “tasting more like bacon than turkey bacon”.  Take that how you want, it was damn delicious.

Doesn’t it look delicious too?

Here’s what we did – we bought some smoked tofu and sliced it across a mandoline.  The smoked tofu is really firm so it slices quite well.  Then we marinated the slices in a few tablespoons soy sauce with a good swig of maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice.  The marinade wasn’t so gratuitous as to cover all the tofu, but it was enough to saturate all of the slices.  We let that sit in the fridge overnight, and then fried them up in some hot oil, enough oil to generously cover the bottom of a frying pan.  The frying process depends on how crispy (or tender) you like your bacon.  We also tried frying the bacon dry (no oil) and they still crisped up and tasted great, just a little less bacon-y (real bacon definitely has a grease factor).

You could use extra-firm tofu too, but it might not slice well across the mandoline and you want nice, thin slices for a good fried result.  You’d also want to add a splash of liquid smoke to the marinade.

Bacon thief, caught red-handed.

And since the bacon was really the only homemade component of the clubhouse sandwich, let’s dive right into the method of assembly!

Let me start by saying the bottom filling is essentially an inversion of the top filling, with the only difference being the lettuce and tomato.  Easy-peasy.

Vegan Clubhouse Sandwich
For 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

3 slices bread, toasted if desired
Spicy mustard-mayo spread (see below)
Vegan margarine
2 Tofutti cheddar cheese slices (the individually packaged American-style stuff)
4 slices Tofurky peppered deli slices
6 pieces homemade bacon (see above)
1/2 tomato, sliced
1 large lettuce leaf, torn

Directions:

Spread the mustard-mayo concoction on the two outer slices of bread, and spread a thin layer of margarine on the middle bread slice (on both sides).  On each of the outer bread slices, put on a slice of Tofutti cheese, followed by 2 slices of Tofurkey and 3 slices of bacon.  On one bread slice, arrange the tomato rounds, and on the other slice, place the torn lettuce.  Put the middle piece of bread on top of the tomatoes, and then place the half with lettuce on top of that.  Slice the sandwich in half on the diagonal and hold it all together with a toothpick stabbed through each half.  Enjoy the process of taking gigantic bites to fit all the goodness in your face.

Mustard-mayo spread

Combine:
1 big spoonful Vegenaise (vegan mayo)
1 small spoonful grainy mustard
A couple seeded and diced pepperoncini (optional but adds a nice kick and pickle-y flavor)

This was the best sandwich I’ve had in a long, long time.  It was fast to throw together, too – aside from the overnight marinating, it only took about 10 minutes to cook up a substantial batch of bacon.  Since the other ingredients were pre-made (and since it really doesn’t take long to slice a tomato), assembly was speedy.

The chips, however, took a little extra time.  But I’ll let Mike explain that one to you guys.

Homemade potato “chips” are something that I’ve been wanting to make for a long, long time, so today we figured that we would just go ahead and do it!  There really aren’t a lot of steps, so I’ll try to just go through this in paragraphs as opposed to step-by-step point form.  As usual with deep-frying, the first thing you want to do is prepare your oil.  Pour a couple inches of oil into a big pot and heat it to about 400 degrees.  The next step is to prepare your potatoes.

This step should be easy, but there are some… problems that can arise due to… clumsiness.  Wash a few potatoes (we used Yukon Gold) and get out your mandolin.  Slice up one of the potatoes quickly and carelessly, catching a good piece of thumb in the process.  Proceed to bleed on the potatoes and curse.  Bandage yourself up with paper towel and duct tape.  Continue slicing potatoes.

 After the potatoes are ready and the oil is hot you can start frying.  You want to drop the chips in one at a time, almost like dealing out a deck of cards.  Be careful not to fry too many at one time.  I did five separate batches for three potatoes.  Let the potato chips fry for 5-7 minutes, or until they are stiff and golden.  They will crisp up more as they sit.  Place the chips in a bowl lined with paper towel.  shake them to remove excess oil.  Once all the chips are finished, toss them with some seasoning salt!

As with any good Sunday morning, this one started with not only great food, but great music.  It felt like a classic-rock kind-of day, so we played a little Supertramp, some Queen, and finally a bit of Sweet to tie it off.  Success!

appetizers, Brunch, recipes

Homemade Nutella: Redux

Hey all!
This evening I’m dropping in for a few minutes from a busy day at work.  You see, there’s this thing called Nutella, you know the one, chocolate hazelnut spreadable goodness.  Silly Nutella isn’t vegan, but happily for us, it’s ridiculously easy to make at home. 
I made a version of nutella a long time ago (almost two years!) and it was amazing.  So why didn’t I ever make it again?  Probably because I’m cheap.  Hazelnut butter isn’t the world’s most affordable commodity, but for $7 and some inexpensive ingredients like powdered sugar and cocoa, it really is worth the splurge.  

I made a few revisions to the original recipe:

– I only used 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and I still found it sweet enough for my liking.
– Only 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
– I mixed everything by hand instead of using a food processor.  Works just as well, though you might need a little extra oil to keep the texture awesomely spreadable.

Served on toast with a glass of s’milk, this has been my breakfast the last couple of days.  It makes a great snack all on its own, too!  I could shovel this stuff by the spoonful.

When I run out of this (which won’t be long), I’m going to attempt a raw-ish version using a natural sweetener and raw cacao.  Excited for that one! 

And now I’m gonna step back out and do some more of that thing called my job.  It was nice to take a break!
Hope the week’s been going well for you guys!

mains, recipes

Zucchini Pasta with Meatballs

Though the hour is late, I wanted to talk about zucchini pasta, meatballs and raw food purity.  I have a glass of decaf green tea to help me through this, along with some good midnight snacks.  Tonight this blog post is my reprieve, my break from the mountain of music work and impending deadlines.  Sound scary?  Well I’m scared.  Learning a dozen cover songs for a show next week is pretty intimidating – what if I freak out and forget all the lyrics?  Ahh, but no sense in worrying over that now.  Now is about chillin’ and enjoying good food.

The other day, we feasted.  We ate a bowl of spiralized zucchini pasta, tossed with a fresh tomato and herb sauce, some black olives, and 3-ingredient vegan parm.  Pictured with the raw pasta are two giant meatballs (tee hee), homemade and not raw in the least.  To round out the meal, we had hummus bread, steamed green beans and a couple stuffed grape leaves (not homemade – I’m not quite as hardcore as Sarah yet).

When it comes to raw food, I tend to go through phases.  I like them well enough, especially if the food is hearty, but I don’t really feel like it needs to be all or nothing.  I figure if I can have a somewhat raw meal that’s enjoyable (to me), than that’s better than a raw meal I’m not crazy about, and it’s definitely better than a meal with nothing raw at all.  Because let’s face it, when it comes to nutrient density and healthfulness, zucchini noodles win.

So we had meatballs with our zucchini noodles.  We could have made raw meatballs using nuts as a base, but I didn’t have the inclination or the food processor.  We could have used beans, but didn’t have any cooked (and I wasn’t willing to wait an extra two hours for supper).  So we turned to some trusty frozen vegan ground round and made traditional meatballs using meat, breadcrumbs and an egg (some blended tofu in this case).  We pan-fried them for a bit, and then baked them to get them nice and brown all over.

Aside from the fact that they were incredibly delicious, they really added to the awesomeness of the zucchini pasta.  The pasta would’ve been fine without them, but with them, it was like I was eating a super gourmet deluxe meal.  While we were eating, Mike said something like, “no one could eat this meal and not like it.”  And it was zucchini pasta!  Eating a zucchini pasta meal and feeling like it was something indulgent is a major accomplishment.

Zucchini Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce
Makes 2 really big servings

Ingredients:

Enough zucchini noodles for 2 people (about 3 small zucchini)

6-8 roma tomatoes, peeled (use a really sharp ceramic peeler or a knife)
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
Salt, to taste (we used about 1/2 teaspoon)
A very generous sprinkling of fresh pepper
3 tablespoons good olive oil

1/4 cup pitted and sliced black olives
Vegan parm, for serving (see below)
Vegan meatballs, for serving

Directions:

1.  Scoop out the seeds of the tomatoes and dice ’em up, tossing them in a large bowl when you’re finished.  Add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Heat the olive oil until hot (but not smoking!) and pour it over the tomato mixture.  Toss well.

2.  Toss the zucchini pasta with the sauce, adding the pasta in increments to keep the sauce/pasta ratio awesome.  Add the olives.  Scoop into bowls and top with a generous sprinkle of vegan parm and as many meatballs as you like.

To make the vegan parm:  This is the easiest thing.  Grind 1/4 cup brazil nuts with 1 clove of crushed garlic and some salt (1/4 teaspoon or more).  That’s it!  It’s nowhere near being a parmesan replica, but it’s a super delicious topping that adds a nice mouthfeel and “somethin somethin” to pasta.  It really completes the dish!

Though we ate other things with our pasta, there’s enough food here to be a meal-in-a-bowl.  Give it a try sometime!  And give meatballs a chance, whether they’re raw, whole-foods or processed goodness.  Your zucchini noodles will thank you.

How do you guys feel about raw food – do you integrate them into your daily meals?  Are you gung-ho about keeping a meal all-raw, or are you lenient with it?