Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Just Took Over This Blog Part 1

I am in love.

With a cookbook.

How can I not fall in love with a cookbook all about vegan cupcakes?

I've been waiting for Isa Chandra Moskowitz' "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" for months and it finally came to me at the library. In fact, it was perfect timing because a friend was celebrating her birthday (and moving on the same day) and I wanted to bring cupcakes.

This book is seriously the bomb. I spent hours drooling over the 75 recipes until I found the perfect one "Cookies and Cream."

Here goes:

It follows the recipe for a basic chocolate cupcake, but it's anything but basic.

Ingridients:
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract (I used more vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa poder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (10 cookies) of coarsly chopped vegan chocoalet cream-filled sandwich cookies like Newman-O's.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
3. In a seperate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add the sugar, oil, and extracts to soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.
5. Add the dry ingrideients in two batches to wet ingridients and beat until no large lumps remain.
6. Stir in cookie bits.
7. Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

Ingriedients:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shorting
1/2 cup non hydrogentated margerine (like EarthBalance)
3 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer
1/2 cup crushed Newman-O's
Directions:
1. Beat the shortening and margerine together until well combined and fluffy.
2. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the cookies, vanilla, and soy milk and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.
4. Go crazy smearing it on the cupcakes.
5. Top each cupcake with half of a cookie.

Cook's notes:

1. The cupcakes came out wonderfully, but I must confess, they weren't entirely vegan. I bought a package of Newman-O's about 4 days before making the cupcakes and managed to eat the entire bag, so when the time came, I had no cookies and had to run out to CVS and buy Oreos, which were not vegan.
2. I didn't look at my ingridients closely before making the frosting. I saw a box of confectioners sugar in the cupboard and assumed I had enough. Nope. I had one cup. I still tried to make the frosting but it was just a giant buttery mess. I added granulated sugar but it just made the butter mix crunchy. Apparently you can turn granuated sugar into confectioners sugar if you put it in a food processor or blender and mix until powdery and then add 1 teaspoon cornstarch per cup of granulated sugar to thicken it.
3. So instead I used a can of vanilla frosting that has been sitting in my cupboard since the red velvet cake making in February (unopened) and I miked in the cookies. Had I not told my friends they probably would never have known.
4. I learned an easy way to transfer batter into the muffin tins: an ice cream scoop. There's no spillage and it serves the right amount.
5. The recipe actually yeilded 17 pretty good size cupcakes. Probably there ould have been more had I not eaten the batter, but it was the best cake batter ever!
6. I snacked on some oreos while I made them and wound up only have enough cookies to put a 1/4 of a cookie on each cupcake.
7. Target has these really cute cupcake boxes to use for transporting them around town. Someone even mistook them for store bought cupcakes!

Seriously, though, these were the best cupcakes ever and even got rave reviews from a teenage boy.

I promise to post pictures soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Quick Dishes: Shrimp Scampi on Angel Hair Pasta

I had my friend Steve over for dinner last weekend (as it would turn out I forgot his birthday, so the dinner redeemed myself). I was craving seafood (particularly scallops, but the selection at my health food store was limited) so I settled on shrimp scampi.

I've been making a version of this for years, though never actually using a recipe. I usually just tossed the shrimp into a skillet with olive oil (or butter) and garlic and boiled some pasta, but since I was cooking for someone I opted to follow a recipe from Rachael Ray's "365: No Repeats" cookbook.

Note: The recipe is actually grilled shrimp scampi on angel hair pasta, but I skipped the grilling part since I do not have a grill pan or outdoor grill.

Ingredients:
coarse salt
1 pound angel hair pasta
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I used dried)
coarse black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
24 medium size raw shrimp, peeled, deveined (depooped), and tails removed (or just by them frozen, but fully cooked)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine (I omitted this as I had no more wine, so I used a bit more oil and water in step 4)
zest and juice of one lemon
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (or margarine)

Directions:
1. Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, in a bowl combine the garlic, salt, parsley, pepper, and olive oil. Place half the garlic mixture into another bowl with the shrimp and toss to coat evenly.
3. Cook shrimp (I just heated the mix in a skillet)
4. Add the reserved garlic mixture and red pepper flakes; cook for one or two minutes or until garlic is golden brown. Add wine to the skillet and cook for another minute, then add two ladles of the pasta cooking water and the lemon juice and zest and continue to cook for two minutes.
5. Add the butter and stir until melted.
6. Add the shrimp (if you haven't already), toss to coat.
7. Drain the pasta and add to the shrimp. Toss to coat.

Makes 4 servings (total lie. Makes 6-8)

This is a fairly easy meal, especially if you're crunched for time and want to make it look like you've been slaving away at the meal all day. Serve with a fresh salad, and steamed garlic broccoli and zucchini.

For any easy dessert, get a few premade shortcakes, fresh strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. Slice the berries and toss them on top of the shortcakes and zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them. Then add ice cream.

Optional: to makes this meal healthier, cut the butter in half, switch to whole wheat pasta, and use soy ice cream.

I will point out that Steve seriously devoured all of this, helping himself to seconds. He couldn't stop raving about it. I neglected to tell him he ate high fiber whole wheat pasta (though I'm sure he figured it out later) and soy ice cream. A chef has to have some secrets, right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Can't Believe it's Vegan!: Nachos

I love nachos.

It's probably my favorite bar food in the world aside from rosemary/garlic/parmasian cheese fries.

I had a bunch of leftovers from my party (mostly chips), so I decided to try and make them myself.

It couldn't have been easier.

Ingridients:

organic blue corn chips (like Garden of Good Eatin')
1/2 cup shredded soy cheese
2 tablespoons soy sour cream
guacamole
olives
salsa
1/4 can black beans
green onions (chopped)
tomatoes

Directions:

1. Layer half the chips on the bottem of a nonstick oven pan.

2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of soy cheese over chips.

3. Toss olives, tomatoes, and onions on.

4. Layer the remaining chips on top.

5. Add the remaining soy cheese and black beans.

6. Cook in oven for about 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese has melted.

7. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and soy sour cream on the side.

It's too Hot to Cook: White Wine Sangrias

I can't believe I haven't posted in nearly a month! Don't worry, I haven't been starving. The East Coast has been hit with a few heat waves in the last month, and once the temperature soars over 90 I have no desire too cook. Actually, that's a lie. I probably won't cook at 85 degrees either. There's nothing worse than cooking with a gas stove when your apartment is muggier than South Florida (central a.c. has yet to reach the Puritans).

So I've been eating a lot of gazpacho. And by a lot, I mean everyday.

I tend to crave Spanish foods in the summer. Since last week was our Nation's Birthday, I hosted a 4th of July Fiesta in my apartment, serving up chips and guacamole, spicy gazpacho, and white wine sangrias.

I think I've only had sangrias in Spanish restauants, and never any with white wine. Since I had a few bottles of white wine in the fridge and a surplus of citrus, I decided to make white.

I searched online for recipes, but didn't like what I found. Most involved too much preparation or things I won't buy. I finally found a suitable recipe in my "Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook:

Ingredients
2 lemons
2 limes
2 oranges
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 750 milliliters of dry white wine
1-2 cups carbonated water
2 tablespoons brandy
ice cubes

Directions:

1. Cut fruit into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the end pieces in a saucepan and set aside remaining slices.

2. For syrup, add sugar and water into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

3. Squeeze juice from cooked fruit into the juice and discard.

4. In a pitcher combine juice, remaining fruit, wine, carbonated water, and brandy.

5. Serve over ice.




Makes 10 4 ounce servings

Chef's notes:
1. Make a double batch so you don't have to go through the hassle of making the syrup.

2. Let it cool in the fridge a half hour before serving.

3. It still tastes fine if you omit the brandy.

4. Cheap wine works fine. Mine came from Best Sellers and cost about $9 each.


It turned out really well. The only ingredient I actually had to buy was the Brandy since I rarely have hard liquor in the house. Because the recipe only needed a tiny bit, I bought a nip of brandy and it worked perfectly.

I should note that the sangria has a shelf life of a few hours. It is absolutely vile the next day.

Pictures to follow soon!