Friday, February 22, 2013

Vegan Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Muffins

because... MUFFINS.
Vegan Cranberry-Orange Cornmeal Muffins
What better way to start your day?
So we all know the drill by now. Vegan muffins usually follow the same trajectory as vegan cupcakes; they're either dry and tasteless or over-the-top sugary. So how 'bout this: a homemade vegan muffin with a slightly savoy/ slightly sweet taste, a delicate crumb, awesome muffin-top crunch and packed full of start-your-day-off-right goodness like whole wheat, fresh cranberries and walnuts. The tartness of the cranberries blends perfectly with the subtly sweet, crunchy cornmeal and the
addition of olive oil add a rich savory note.
Sounds pretty good, right??
Let's get baking.
Sliced fresh cranberries, measured and ready to go. 

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Muffins
 (makes approximately 15 muffins)
3/4c all purpose flour
3/4c whole wheat flour
3/4c cornmeal
3/4c organic sugar
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1tbsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
1tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2c halved fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/4c raw walnut pieces (optional)
1 1/2tsp grated orange zest (optional)
1c unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/4c orange juice
1/4c olive oil*

*you can use a more neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed,
but I prefer the richer flavor olive oil

Fresh cranberries before being folded into muffin batter. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Measure out 1 1/2c of cranberries, cut each in half, toss in a small bowl, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt
and 1/2c of the sugar, whisk to combine.
Add the remaining 1/4c of sugar and 2 tbsp of the dry flour mix to the cranberries and toss gently until cranberries are well coated.
Stir in orange zest.

Add non-dairy milk, orange juice, vinegar, oil and vanilla extract to flour mix.
Stir until well combined.
Add in walnut pieces.

GENTLY fold cranberries into wet mix.
If using fresh you can be a wee bit more aggressive, but the frozen will bleed.

Muffin cups filled, sprinkled with sugar and ready for baking. 
Fill muffin liners 2/3 full and shake pan gently to distribute.
Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with a pinch of sugar.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops are light golden brown and
tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

there are no words. just make these. trust me.
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup
The Easiest Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
Vegan frosted peanut butter cup cupcakes. Does it get better than this??
Everyone has an opinion on cupcakes these days. I personally find the whole trend kind of annoying. Not because I dislike cupcakes per se (what am I, some sort of monster??) but because of just how very hard it still is to find a GOOD vegan cupcake. There are few culinary disappointments that cut quite so deeply as a bad cupcake. The problem is that they always LOOK so good, all frost-y and pretty, but one bite will tell you whether you've got a good one or a poorly baked sugar-bomb. With very few exceptions, store bought vegan cupcakes usually fall into the latter sugar-bomb category. When craving cupcakes I save myself some money, shield myself from potential disappointment and go for homemade.
These peanut butter cup cupcakes are something special, folks. They look crazy over-the-top fancy, but are a snap to make. The cake recipe is incredibly simple, only a handful of ingredients, and can be used for both cupcakes and regular cake recipes. File it away, you'll be using it again.

Chocolate cupcakes, out of the oven and cooling down before frosting. 
Cupcakes topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting. 
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes:

*I recommend mixing the cake batter by hand,
but you will need a sturdy mixer for the frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes:
(makes one dozen)

1 1/4c all purpose flour
3/4c organic sugar
1/2c unsweetened cocoa powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1c warm water
or brewed coffee
(for a richer flavored)
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/3c melted vegan butter
1tsp apple cider vinegar

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting:
1/2c vegan shortening
1/3c vegan butter
1/3c creamy peanut butter
3 1/2c organic powdered sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
1/4c light coconut milk

Chocolate Drizzle (optional) 
1/2c non dairy chocolate chips
1tbsp vegan shortening

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Fill a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners

Combine all flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk to combine and break up any lumps.
Add water (or coffee), melted vegan butter, apple cider vinegar and vanilla.
Mix until well combined, about 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Preparing the frosting:
In a stand mixer, cream together shortening, margarine and peanut butter
for 2-3 minutes until well incorporated.
Add powdered sugar, coconut milk and vanilla.
Mix for 3-5 more minutes, until light and fluffy.

This frosting is the perfect texture for either a piping bag or hand-frosting.
Any leftover frosting will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
Use about 3tbsp of frosting per cupcake.

Once you have frosted the cupcakes, let sit for 10 minutes. 
This will allow the frosting to set up a bit. 

Preparing the chocolate drizzle:

In a microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips and shortening.
Cook for 45 seconds on high, or until melted.
Mix together welland use a dinner fork to drizzle melted chocolate
over the top of frosted cupcakes.

Allow to set for 10-15 minutes then eat!
And eat, and eat, and eat...
You know you want one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

less work, more love
Deconstructed Sushi Bowl with Pickled 
Watermelon Radishes
Pickled watermelon radishes and onions with seasoned sushi rice.

In the spirit of Valentines Day, lets talk pink foods. Savory, sexy pink foods, to be specific. The watermelon radish falls neatly into all three of those categories. This dish has more than a handful of components, but the pickled watermelon radishes are undeniably the star; they add an intense depth of flavor without being overpowering (Recipe here: Slow Club Cookery's Pickled Watermelon Radishes). So here it is, the deconstructed sushi bowl. A bed of seasoned sushi rice topped with citrus, pickled watermelon radishes, onions and toasted nori strips. Wowza. Drizzle a little tamari over the top and there you have it, sushi in a bowl.
Easy, beautiful, done.
Sushi rice with rice vinegar and organic sugar. 

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl
(Serves 4)

2 cup sushi rice
2Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2Tbsp organic sugar
1Tbsp kosher salt
1c pickled watermelon radishes, sliced
1 peeled navel orange, cut into segments
1 large toasted nori seaweed sheet,
cut into strips with kitchen scissors or
a VERY sharp knife, can also be crumbled
1 avocado sliced into 1/4" segments, optional
Tamari or soy sauce for serving

Preparing sushi rice:
Measure out sushi rice into medium saucepan.
Add enough water to cover, swirl and pour off water.
Repeat 2-3 times until water runs clean.
Add 2 cups of water, stir and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Allow to stand for 10 minutes after cooking time is up.

Whisk sugar and salt into rice vinegar until dissolved.
Turn cooked sushi rice into large mixing bowl.
Pour rice vinegar over rice.
Using a wooden spoon, fold rice over itself allowing vinegar mix to coat all grains.
Allow rice to cool to room temperature.

Once sushi rice has cooled:
Place 1/2c of sushi rice in the bottom of each serving bowl.
Add 1/4 of the orange segments.
Top with 1/4cup of the matchsticked pickled watermelon radishes and onions.
Drizzle a little of the pickling liquid over top.
Finish off with a handful of nori strips and a drizzle of tamari.

Finished dish, isn't that gorgeous??

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vegan South Indian Dosas

The beautiful, magically addictive mystery that is
The Dosa
Dosa ingredients assembled: Urad dal, chana dal, rice and fenugreek.
 My very first experience with dosas was quite accidental. My mother and I were on one of our yearly pilgrimages to NYC and in search of a good dinner spot. Enter Dosa Hut. The restaurant reviews said "Indian" "vegetarian" and described otherworldly addictive rice and lentil crepes.  Done, done and done. I considered myself something of a vegetarian Indian food expert at that point in my life, but the southern specialties, the ones always lurking on the back page of the menus of my favorite Indian joints, were too intimidating to tackle. This little hole in the wall served those southern specialties almost exclusively. We relied on the kind waiter to steer us in the right ordering direction and eagerly waited for our food to arrive. 

Crispy dosas served with homemade red lentil stew. Recipe here: Slow Club Cookery Vegan Red Lentil Stew
Fenugreek (Methel Seeds)

We were a bit tentative when the golden teepee-d dosa was delivered to the table.  It was gorgeous, but how to eat it?? The waiter, I think somewhat amused by our confusion, encouraged us to dig in with our hands. The second that first piece of torn dosa reached my mouth,  I was done for. My obsession was born that day and from that point forward I was on a constant dosa hunt, seeking them out in every restaurant near and far. This was not the most cost effective obsession. So, given my general cheapness and love of all things DIY/ fermented, I decided to learn how to make them myself.
Then I could have dosas
Oh yeah.

 A quick trip to the Indian grocery for bulk ingredients and a handful of failed attempts later, this recipe was born. Its an ever-so-slight variation of  a fairly classic dosa recipe, I've included chana dal which adds a bit of color and gives the dosas a slightly crispier texture. The fenugreek is a key ingredient (read: don't leave it out), it holds carbon dioxide which aids in the fermentation process.

Some things to keep in mind:

Traditional dosas can be cooked in ghee or oil, I cook mine in oil exclusively. If you are not vegan ghee can be used.

Dosas require between 16 and 24 hours of prep time for soaking and fermentation,
so plan ahead.

Finished batter can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Fermentation time can vary depending on climate, I've found that a warm oven with the light on is the best spot for fermenting batter.

Make sure that after soaking, the batter is ground VERY WELL.

Allow your griddle to preheat before pouring your dosa batter.

If batter has been refrigerated, allow to reach room temp before cooking.

Make sure your griddle is well seasoned, use the onion trick described below
to keep dosas from sticking.

Make sure you purchase SKINLESS urad dal (black lentils),
it will appear off white as in the top photo.

The onion trick:
Once the batter is finished fermenting, slice an onion into quarters and peel off the skin.
Impale the uncut side of one of the 1/4 wedges on the end of a dinner fork.
Use the cut edge to spread oil around the griddle between dosas, this will keep the pan seasoned, prevent dosas from sticking and allow you to use less oil.

Rice, dals and fenugreek, rinsed and ready for soaking. 
Dosa Recipe:
(makes about 8 large dosas)

You will need a wet grinder or a very powerful blender.

1cup medium grain white riee
1c parboiled white rice (also called idli rice)
1/2c Skinless Urad Dal (black lentils)
1/4c Chana Dal
1/2tsp fenugreek (methel seeds)
1 tsp salt

Oil for the pan
1/2 onion to spread the oil

Rinse dal and fenugreek, place in a large bowl and cover with 2" of water.
Rinse rice, place in a separate bowl and cover with water.
Cover bowls loosely with a tea towl and allow to soak overnight (about 8 hours).

Grinding the dal:
Place 1tbsp of the dal soaking liquid into the blender, remove dal mix from soaking liquid and add to blender.
Blend the dal, adding 1-2tbsp more of the soaking liquid as needed.
Blending time will vary, usually between 5-8 minutes.
The dal should be light, fluffy and airy when finished blending.
Pour ground dal into large mixing bowl.

Grinding the rice:
Place 1c of the rice soaking liquid into the blender.
Grind the rice until smooth (batter will remain ever so slightly gritty),
adding water as needed.

Add ground rice to mixing bowl with the dal, add 1tsp of salt and stir to combine.

Fermenting the batter:
Fermented batter will double in bulk, so make sure bowl is large enough.
Cover bowl with a tea towl and place in a warm place to ferment for about 8 hours.

Once your batter is ready:

Finished batter should be bubbly and airy. 
The fermented batter should be thin enough to pour but not runny.
If your batter seems too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out.

Cooking the dosas:
Heat skillet or non stick pan over high heat.
Once the pan is heated, drizzle a couple drops of oil into the pan.
Using the forked onion, spread the oil in circles around the entire pan.
Ladle 1/4c of batter into the center of the hot pan.
Move the back side of the ladle in concentric circles through the batter gently, spreading it to fill the entire pan.
Cook dosa until the bottom is lightly browned.
For a crispier dosa, flip and cook lightly on the other side.

Golden, crispy dosa, right off the griddle.
Remove from pan, roll or fold over and served with accompaniments such as coconut, tomato or mango chutneys or sambar.
Dosa can also be stuffed with curried potatoes.

Repeat process with remaining dosa batter or store in the fridge for future use.
Dosa batter will keep for up to 10 days in the fridge.
Allow to warm to room temperature before cooking.