Saturday, April 28, 2007

I can't believe it's vegan!: Carrot-Rasin Muffins

I've been on a muffin kick for some time now. I like to pretend they're really cupcakes, but with fiber. Sometimes it works.

Since the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins were such a hit, I thought I'd try another muffin recipe from "Vegan with a Vengeance."

I should point out that I'm not a big fan of carrots in stuff. I like them raw, occasionally in a soup, but not in my baked goods. I will never make carrot cake.

Before beginning the actual recipe, one must do some prep work. Apparently if you soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes it makes them plump and juicy. I suppose you might want plump and juicy raisins exploding in your mouth when you bite into the muffin.

Also, note that since this is a carrot-raisin muffin, carrots are required. Actually, 2 cups of grated carrot are required.

I was considering making a double batch of these, just in case they turned out to me heaven in a paper wrapper; however, after grating 2 cups of carrots I changed my mind. Seriously it took me forever and the scraps kept flinging everywhere. And as it turns out, my female cat likes shredded carrot. If worse comes to worse and the muffins suck, I'll just give them to her (also note that she loved the lemon poppy seed muffins. I think she wants to be vegan).

So let's begin!

Carrot-Raisin Muffins (from "Vegan with a Vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of raisins (feel free to add more, I did)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice or soy milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease with oil.
2. Soak raisins in a bowl of hot water and begin preparing the batter. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and salt.
3. Create a well in the center and add the milk, oil, and vanilla; mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
4. Fold in the grated carrots and raisins.
5. Fill the muffin tins three-quarters full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
6. Let them cool on a cooling rack.

Notes:

They took some getting used to, but eventually I liked the taste. Sharona gave them a thumbs up, and Josie ate the crumbs. In the future (if I ever decide to do this again), I'll buy the grated carrot. It's not worth it (for me) to sit there and try not to slice off my thumb. Plus, I'm lazy. I should write a cookbook and call it "The Lazy Baker."

These muffins make a good breakfast food if you eat on the run.



Coming soon: Whole wheat bran muffins (are you excited yet?) and roasted garlic and garbanzo bean soup.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Penne with Asparagus and Spring Herbs

Don't let the title of this dish fool you. It's nasty. Well, not so nasty that Sharona and I didn't eat it or not so nasty that I haven't been eating the leftovers.

But still, it wasn't good. I got this recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine via an annoying cooking blog I habitually read. This is the second pasta dish I've made based on this blog's recommendation, and both have been disappointments. I'm never following one of their recipes again. Better yet, I'm going to stop reading that blog.

But in the event you need a vegan pasta dish that pretends to be an Alfredo, here you go. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Penne with Asparagus and Spring Herbs
From Vegetarian Times

4 SERVINGS (actually it serves more)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup low-fat, firm silken tofu
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
8 oz. medium carrots (about 3), peeled
12 oz. dried penne pasta

Directions:
1. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, combine broth and garlic; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to blender or food processor. Add tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste; process until smooth and creamy. Return to
saucepan.Warm over low heat but do not boil. Stir in chives, tarragon, parsley and lemon zest. Cover and keep warm. (Sauce can be prepared ahead. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat before continuing with recipe.)

3. Peel asparagus stalks, if desired, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Cut carrots into 1 3/4-by 14-inch sticks. (I think they mean 1/4-inch stalks).

4. Add pasta to boiling water, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes. While pasta is cooking, place carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water. Top with asparagus. Cover and steam until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to large, warm bowl. Add vegetables and reserved
herb sauce; toss to coat. Serve hot with lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.

A funny thing happened when I poured the creamy tofu sauce over the pasta: it got all chunky. Also, I didn't bother putting fresh tarragon or parsley on it because I was too lazy to buy it. And I used whole wheat pasta.

I would recommend skipping the carrots. While colorful, they didn't seem to fit in with the dish. You could add Parmesan cheese (or fake Parmesan cheese) to it before serving to help the taste.

After the fourth time I ate it, I discovered that if I dumped pasta sauce on top it wasn't nearly as gross.

But this seals the deal. I don't like asparagus.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Don't worry, it's not vegan (but it is Passover safe): DD's

Disclaimer: These brownies are not named after me. Let me tell you, if I invented a brownie it would be easy to make and not use 9 eggs. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night I was invited to a Passover Seder at Sharona's. Technically it was my first Seder. Per Sharona's request, I brought these DD brownies, which use NO FLOUR whatsoever.

And in case you were wondering, the DD is for "Deadly Dessert." And the name is true, because during the baking process I wanted to kill the brownies.

DD's from "Rosie's Bakery All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No Holds Barred Baking Book" by Judy Rosenberg

Makes 12-16 brownies

Ingredients:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup plus two tablespoons sugar

Directions:
1. Melt both chocolates and the butter in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water. Allow the mixture to cool until it is only slightly warm.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch pan with butter or vegetable oil.
3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl until thick and pale, about two minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the chocolate mixture and mix until the batter is uniform in color, about 10 seconds. Scrape the bow, then mix for several seconds more.
5. In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating the whites to soft peaks, about 45 seconds more.
6. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter to loosen it, then fold the remaining whites into the mixture carefully by hand, using a rubber spatula. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
7. Bake the brownies on the center oven rack until the top has risen and set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
8. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 1 hour before cutting.

A few things:
1. I didn't know what a double broiler was, and I assumed I didn't have it. I boiled a pot of water and placed a pyrex glass dish on top and slowly melted the butter and chocolate. This was the first time I've ever melted chocolate and I was worried I would burn it. Also, eating a piece of unsweetened chocolate is a bad idea because it tastes nasty.
2. I had a hard time separating the eggs. The egg whites got mixed with the yolks and some of the yolk wound up in the whites. Did it really matter? No.
3. At some point in the mixing process you'll have to wash the beaters because you don't want to mix the chocolate with the frothy egg whites.
4. The brownies took 50 minutes to bake in my oven. They looked and smelled like brownies, but I was a little nervous of the outcome.
5. The recipe called for topping the brownies with fruit jam and homemade whipped cream. I obviously skipped that part.



Really, this dessert was a pain in the butt to make. It took forever and was extremely messy. Let's just say there was a lot of chocolate goo everywhere.

But the brownies were a hit at the Seder. I'm glad I didn't kill anyone and that they turned out okay. I have a history of screwing up the desserts I bring to Sharona.

And I will never, ever make them again. 9 eggs is a little much.