Sneakily delicious dishes that bring all the omnivores to the yard! Look for the cookbook in 2010!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jasmine's Birthday Cake

Jasmine's Birthday Cake

This past month, my baby sister, Jasmine, turned 19! I could scarcely believe it. I remember when she was born, yadda yadda *insert nostalgic big sister rambling here*. Being that Jasmine is here going to university {and 1000 miles away from home}, I knew that I wanted to be the one to make her a birthday cake and make sure that her birthday was special.

When asked what kind of birthday cake she wanted, Jasmine's only request was "chocolate, and lots of it". I decided to go with the Rich Chocolate Cake recipe from The PPK, and this Vegan Chocolate Buttercream recipe from Epicurious. Both the cake and the frosting were delicious, however the frosting was not your typical buttercream. You know that fudgy glossy frosting grocery store bakeries slather on their brownies? It was more like that...which turned out to be amazing!

Since I fail at cake decorating, I decided to employ the help of my printer {and exploit Jasmine's love of Audrey Hepburn}. My feeble efforts had the desired effect, and Jasmine squealed when she saw her cake.

It was a big hit, and she took the leftover cake home to her roommates. Apparently her roommates want to erect a statue in my honor. All in a vegan superhero's day's work...all in a day's work.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kristina's Birthday Dinner

Kristina's Birthday Dinner

I am not one of those people who has a vast number of friends, but those I do have I'm very close to. I am lucky to have a small, closely knit group of amazing friends whom I love very dearly. I love to express my affection for my friends by cooking for them, and I especially like to cook big elaborate birthday dinners. In celebration of my dear friend Kristina's birthday, I made her "whatever she was craving". This is what she was craving:

1. Roasted Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts lightly steamed, then tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. The sprouts are then roasted at 400 degrees until they are crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and starting to caramelize.

2. Soytan Dream Cutlets from 1000 Vegan Recipes, dipped in soy milk, coated in panko, and pan fried. Topped with a quick mushroom and red wine sauce: Sautee 6 oz of chopped mushrooms w/ 2 shallots until both ingredients are tender. Add in 1/2 cup red wine, and cook until the wine reduces and mostly evaporates. Whisk in 2 cups good vegetable or vegan "beef" broth, and 1 tbsp cornstarch {dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water}. Whisk until sauce bubbles and thickens. Serve immediately.

3. "Cheeseburger" Macaroni: My favorite macaroni and "cheese" recipe {which I'm still perfecting, and will post soon}, mixed with vegan ground beef that was sauteed with a finely chopped onion. The mixture then gets poured into a 9x13" pan, covered with panko, and thrown under the broiler until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

4. Vanilla Cheesecake w/ Cherry Topping: For dessert, she requested cheesecake with cherry topping. I used a recipe from 1000 Vegan Recipes called Not-So-Plain Vanilla Cheezcake. It was delicious.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Much the Best Hummus of All Time

Pretty Much the Best Hummus of All Time

Come to find out, I have been making hummus incorrectly my whole life. Come to find out, I've really been making "chickpea mash".

Lately I've been craving that really creamy, tangy hummus you get at middle eastern restaurants, but could not re-create it at home to save my life. I knew I had all the ingredients, right, I knew that I was adding enough liquid to get the right consistency, so why was it pasty or "mashy", rather than creamy and delicious?

On a desperate mission to find the knowledge I sought, I pored over dozens of recipes, looking for something different, anything different, that might help me finally make the perfect hummus. I came across this recipe on VegWeb, called Creamy Hummus, Restaurant Style. It introduced the concept of creating an emulsion between your tahini and your lemon juice BEFORE adding any other ingredients. Genius! Why hadn't I thought of that sooner?

Carefully following my new-found technique, I made the batch of hummus pictured above. It was...incredible. Just like the illusive hummus from my beloved restaurants.

Pretty Much the Best Hummus of All Time

4 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
1+ cloves of garlic, smashed {I used just one and it was plenty garlicky enough, you may use more if you must, for warding off vampires or something}
14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
olive oil
garnish of choice

1. Emulsify the tahini and lemon juice in your blender or food processor until very creamy, at least a minute or two. Add the garlic and puree until smooth.

2. Slowly start adding your chickpeas, one small handful at a time. Alternate additions of chickpeas with drizzles of olive oil and water, adding salt occasionally. Taste and check the texture often, and stop adding olive oil, water, chickpeas, and salt when you have a hummus with the taste and texture of your dreams.

3. Serve drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with your garnish of choice {mine was influenced by my addiction to smoked paprika}.

You may not use all the chickpeas in the can {although I did}, and as much as I loathe to give you quantities {this is really best done by eye/taste}, I think I used 2 - 3 tbsp of olive oil and 4 tbsp of water, total.

Aaaaand I just remembered that I have leftover hummus in my fridge. Until next time...