Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Stuffed Mushrooms, Homemade Vegan Sushi, and "Ice Cream"

Today was quite the day for yummy homemade vegan meals. For lunch, my boyfriend, Mark, started with a few recipes online and improvised from there. He made steamed brussels sprouts and stuffed mushrooms, and then made some garlic toast with rosemary and oregano and roasted pumpkin seeds. The original mushroom recipe called for butter (for which he substituted Earth Balance), Worcestershire sauce (for which he substituted a mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1 clove of garlic, and molasses), and 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for which he substituted about 1/3 cup Wayfare Foods We Can't Say It's Cheese Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread.) He also added just a bit of fresh tomato, and put the stuffed mushrooms in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before cooking them. These mushrooms were absolutely AMAZING! Mark says that they were quite interesting to prepare, since stuffing them made them top heavy and they tended to try to escape. The brussels sprouts were steamed with a clove of garlic and some lemon juice in the water, and then drizzled with salted garlic Earth Balance. The pumpkin seeds were done using this recipe, although Mark added some Earth Balance to the canola oil, and decided after the fact that just Earth Balance would have been better. He also sprinkled a tiny bit of garlic salt on them before roasting them.

Brussels Sprouts, Stuffed Mushrooms, Garlic Toast, and Pumpkin Seeds
Brussels Sprouts, Stuffed Mushrooms, Garlic Toast, and Pumpkin Seeds

For dinner, it was my turn! I recently restocked on sushi rice from the bulk section of Wheatsville Co-Op, and still had a packet of nori. While the rice cooked, I shredded a carrot, chopped a handful of fresh spinach and a few pieces of Tofurky jerky (the "wishstix" from the Tofurky feast), and grabbed some avocado, soy sauce, and sesame seeds (as well as some chili sauce and the Wayfare Foods cheese that I ended up not using).

Homemade Vegan Sushi - Prep

My sushi roll contained spinach, carrot, avocado, and sesame seeds (sprinkled inside the roll since doing the rice on the outside makes a giant mess!)

Homemade Vegan Sushi - Prep

Mark's roll had spinach, carrot, Tofurky jerky, sesame seeds, and some leftover roasted pumpkin seeds with soy sauce squirted inside the roll on the carrot.

Homemade Vegan Sushi - Prep

We had enough rice left over for one more roll, so we decided to slice up half of a kiwi and about 1/3 of a banana and make a "desert" roll (we added sesame seeds to this as well). It wasn't as sweet as we'd hoped; some fresh strawberries would have gone well, but all we had were a few frozen ones).

Homemade Vegan Sushi - Prep

Mark got all mathematical and cut every piece in half, starting in the middle.

Mark Slices His Sushi

Here's Mark's finished roll -

Homemade Vegan Sushi

Here's mine -

Homemade Vegan Sushi

Since the "desert" roll really wasn't all that sweet, we decided to make a real desert, but we didn't quite know what we wanted. In the past, I've made "ice cream" by putting a frozen banana in the food processor with a tiny bit of sugar and a bit of soy milk. My current bunch of bananas isn't yet ripe, so I haven't frozen them. Mark suggested we slice up the remaining 2/3 of the banana we'd used for the sushi roll and top it with some form of homemade ice cream and chocolate sauce. While he sliced the banana, I improvised on the sauce and the ice cream. I put about 14 ounces of ice, 4 tablespoons of soymilk powder, about 2 tablespoons of evaporated cane juice, and a tiny splash of vanilla extract into my Blend-Tec blender. For the sauce, I put 3 wedges of Ibarra chocolate with just enough water and soymilk powder to cover the bottom of the pan. In order to thicken it up a bit, Mark added some extra soymilk powder, evaporated cane juice, and cocoa powder. When we put the "ice cream" over the bananas, it was a slightly soft, but overall very nice consistency. However, once we added the chocolate sauce (and a couple of thawed strawberries) to the dishes, the ice cream started to melt rapidly. By the time I sat down to eat mine, it was basically ice cream soup with bananas. *grin* This didn't stop it from tasting good, though!

Homemade Vegan Banana Split
Homemade Vegan Banana Split

New Pictures!

I've updated 3 previous posts with pictures! ("Look at her go, Bubba! It's like watchin' a streak of lightnin'!)

The Parlor
The Steeping Room

Now with 42.5% more pictures!

Vegan Caramel Apple Pie Pictures!

...and the award for longest procrastination goes to - The Traveling Austin Vegan! *cheer*

Seriously, though, I finally uploaded pictures of all of my vegan caramel apple pie attempts to my Flickr photostream, and posted the most recent ones on my original blog entry.


( I want pie...)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love For Scones & Whedon

I've been in love with the works of Joss Whedon for quite a while now, mainly stemming from the time one of my friends introduced me to Firefly (Here's the pilot episode on Hulu.) After discovering that I was one of very few people I knew who hadn't watched Buffy and Angel, another friend of mine gave me the first three seasons of Buffy on DVD, and I binge watched them in about 2 or 3 weeks. When I asked her if I could borrow season 4 of Buffy and season 1 of Angel (there's a lot of crossover episodes, for those that didn't already know), she said she'd rather have a weekly watching party where we could watch an episode of each and drink lots of hot tea from her promotional WB Angel/Buffy mugs (kickin' it old school, yo.) Since we're both tea collectors, there is quite a variety of tea to chose from, and since I'm vegan, she graciously bought some soy milk so we could have some with our tea if we wished. For the first episodes party, she made the "one vegan recipe" she knows; a particularly good chocolate cake. For this week's party, I decided to make some scones to go with our tea (Giles would be *so* proud).

Last week, I discovered Bikram Baking: Ginger Chocolate Chunk Scones by Isa Chandra Moskowitz on her Post Punk Kitchen website. Since the only chocolate I had in the apartment was one tablet of Ibarra chocolate, I halved the recipe and went from there. I replaced the oil with applesauce, and had a lot of fun smashing the chocolate disc into small pieces with a hammer (in a ziploc bag, of course). The mixture ended up being *very* solid, and clung together in a glob like so much cement wrapped around my hand mixer. I plopped out the scones on the cookie sheet as uniformly as I could, and baked them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F as the recipe instructed. My resulting scones were absolutely perfect on the outsides - crumbly and sweet, with that nice dry texture that good scones have. However, the centers were still moist and tasted like they might have needed to bake for at least another 5 minutes, especially the larger scones (I had one that lost its bottom when I lifted it off the sheet, even though I had used a silicone liner, and *nothing* sticks to that!) The best I could figure was that the problem arose from either the applesauce substitution or the fact that I was using powdered soymilk, and halving not only the liquid amount (1 1/4 cups), but also trying to figure out exactly how much powdered soy milk to use.

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chunk Scones

Since I've run out of chocolate (*sad April in snow*), the third gal who comes to the parties gave me some Craisins (dried cranberries) to put in the scones instead. I followed the recipe as written (except for the applesauce substitution), and put in about a cup of Craisins in place of the chocolate. Also, I used sucanat as a sweetener in the first batch, and used evaporated cane juice (granules) in the second batch. This second batch produced scones that looked more like fat cookies, and were uniformly too moist (I mean, they taste good, but they're not really "scone-like".) My boyfriend (who has more sensitive tastebuds than I) said that 2 tablespoons of baking powder seemed like an awful lot, and confirmed it when he tried a finished scone.

Vegan Ginger Craisin Scones

I'm figuring that next time, I'll take the soymilk down to 1 cup instead of 1 1/4, and I'll take the baking powder down to perhaps 1 1/2 Tablespoons. I'll probably also increase the baking time to 17 or 18 minutes, and see what happens. If any of my readers have experience making scones, I'd love to hear your ideas!