Sunday, February 28, 2010

Becoming Raw

Now don't freak out. I'm not actually "becoming raw."

But I must admit, I was hoping some folks would read the title and think for a second that I'm giving up fried tofu and butter-soymilk biscuits. Psyche! Don't worry. You can pry cooked vegan foods from my cold dead hands.

I am, however, trying to work more raw meals into my life. I've done away with Raw Food Tuesday, which some of y'all might remember as my monthly all-raw, one-day food cleanse. Instead, I'm trying to work a few mostly raw dinners and lunches into my regular routine ... rather than only eat raw for one day a month. A great resource for this new plan is Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina (hence the name of this post).

Becoming Raw is a new resource book/cookbook published by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee. The first 249 pages are purely informational, and I would guess that it may be one of the most exhaustive volumes on raw diets.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about the history of raw foodism, recommended carb and protein intakes, how the body detoxifies, what minerals are in which raw foods, how enzymes work, and hundreds of other topics are in this book. I especially loved the essay on why coconut oil is good for you in moderation despite its high saturated fat content. And the chapter busting raw safety food myths was loaded with interesting trivia. Who knew some people believe raw sprouts could be a potential source of bacteria? That's a myth the authors busted, by the way.

The back half of Becoming Raw contains recipes, a few of which are crossovers from the authors' other cookbook The Raw Food Revolution Diet. Flipping through to pick out a test recipe, I kept coming back to this Pesto and Sundried Tomato Pizza with Veggies:

The crispy, cracker-like "crust" is made from soaked and dehydrated buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds. Italian herbs lend the crust a pizza-like flavor. It's topped with an out-of-this-world sundried tomato sauce (which I think will be my new go-to raw marinara ... so good!) and pesto. For the veggies, I used diced red bell pepper, diced zucchini, grated carrot, and red onion. Those are marinated overnight in a delicious olive oil/vinegar marinade.

Though Becoming Raw doesn't have a ton of recipes, the ones the authors included sound amazing — Coconut Macaroons, Celeriac Linguine with Bolognese Sauce and Hemp Parmesan, Herbed Almond Cheese, Sunflower-Hemp Milk. Sound delicious? Told ya so.

If I ever decided to give up cooked food (don't hold your breath), Becoming Raw would be the source I'd turn to for vital information about maintaining health on a raw or high-raw diet. It's like a freakin' encycolpedia of rawsome-ness.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Big B's Barbecue Salad

When I was growing up, Friday night was always "eatin' out" night. We didn't dine out anywhere fancy — just sandwiches or Taco Bell or some other fast food. But every once in a while, my parents would take me to Big Al's, a little old country gas station that served some pretty delicious barbecue (at least, I remember it being quite tasty).

I know, you're thinking "barbecue in a gas station? How white trash is that?!' Yes, it is pretty white trash, but yo, I grew up in Arkansas. Folks eat barbecue in gas stations there. It's just the way things are done. Anyway, Big Al's served a barbecue salad of tangy pulled pork, cheddar, some iceberg lettuce, and salad dressing (I always chose ranch). Being the weird kid that I was back then, I ordered my salad with no lettuce — just meat and cheese, please. My parents used to tease me about eating a salad with no salad in it.

After going vegetarian at age 14, Big Al's was out. And I started eating lettuce. Haven't had a barbecue salad since. Well, until last night ... when I combined barbecue seitan, vegan cheeze, veggies, and homemade vegan ranch:

I'm calling it Big B's Barbecue Salad as a tribute to Big Al's. But Big B's salad is way, way, way healthier. For one, Big Al's salad didn't include any actual veggies besides lettuce ... at least not that I remember. Mine has romaine, red pepper, radish, carrot, green onion, cucumber, tomato, and sprouts. The recipe — along with the recipes for barbecue seitan and vegan ranch — will be included in my cookbook. Here's an extreme barbecue close-up:

I used Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze and bacon bits as well. But those are totally optional. And I served the salad with Kashi Heart to Heart crackers, a healthier version of Triscuits. I'm sure the 8-year-old me would have wrinkled her nose up at all this healthy food, but grown-up me would take barbecue seitan salad over barbecue meat salad anyday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cookie Month!

Officially, February is National Pancake Month. But for me, it's cookie month! That's because my 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar features a delicious Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookie recipe by Sarah Kramer:

Each month, vegan cookbook goddess Sarah Kramer's calendar contains a different recipe. And I've vowed to make every featured dish. For weeks, I've been eyeing this scrumptious cookie recipe, which combines my very favorite cookie (chocolate chip) with my very favorite fruit (coconut).

I made this batch last night and they were perfect. Just the right amount of soft, sweet, and chewy. My co-workers devoured the whole plate in less than an hour. Thankfully, I put a few back for myself at home. Now I'll just have to conjure up the self-discipline to restrict myself to one cookie a day.

By the way, I found the chocolate chip coconut cookie recipe (and a cute video of Sarah Kramer making them) re-printed on Everyday Dish here. I promise these cookies will not let you down.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spicy for Breakfast

Y'all know I'm a big fan of the savory breakfast. That's why I had to try this Peppered Tofu from Good Time Eatin' In Cajun Country by Donna Simon:

Had this been listed in the Main Dishes section, I probably would have just passed the recipe right over. But hot and spicy tofu for breakfast sounded delicious! Though I occasionally enjoy a creamy bowl of peanut butter oats or Barbara's Bakery cereal in the morning, I typically prefer saltier, heartier foods in the a.m. As a kid, I actually ate Ramen noodles for breakfast almost every day before school.

This Peppered Tofu — spiced with smoked paprika, cayenne, and thyme — was the first recipe I've made from Simon's vegan Cajun cookbook. I purchased it in New Orleans back in October, but I had such a backlog of cookbooks at the time that it got pushed aside. The book, published by the Book Publishing Company at the Farm in Summertown, is packed with N'awlins-style deliciousness, like gumbos and po' boys.

I served the Peppered Tofu on a Food for Life Genesis 1:29 Sprouted Grain English Muffin with a melted slice of Tofutti American cheese (which for some reason is not visible in this picture):

Speaking of breakfast foods, Kenny from Raiders Against Cruelty (Middle Tennessee State University's animal protection group) asked me to put in a plug for a bakery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that's begun serving vegan donuts, brownies, and sandwiches. We're talking chocolate-glazed, jelly-filled, apple fritters, the works.

Get Sconed Bakery (no relation to Jess's awesome vegan blog of the same name, as far as I know) is located at 1875 Memorial Blvd. in Murfreesboro. That's about a four-hour drive from Memphis, but I think it may be worth a road trip very soon! If any of you guys live in the Middle Tennessee area, please check them out and buy their vegan donuts so they'll continue to put them out there. What the world needs are MORE VEGAN DONUTS! Get Sconed can be reached at 615-410-3528. Click here for more donut pictures. This photo is by Casey Smith.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smoky: Remembered

In college, I had a good friend named Michael Mitchell, but everybody called him Smoky. He was one of the most laidback, kind, and generous people in our posse (yes, we had a posse ... it was the late 90s, after all). Everybody loved Smoky. But about a year after I graduated from Arkansas State University and moved to Memphis, I got a disturbing phone call. Smoky was dead — killed in a drunk driving accident. His best friend was driving after a few too many drinks, and their vehicle collided with another car on their way home. That was in 2002 ... or maybe it was early 2003.

Smoky has been greatly missed. I'd share pictures but all of my Smoky photos were taken in the days before digital cameras ... or at least before I had one. I will, however, show you Smoky's tribute soup — Smoky's Chipotle Split Pea Soup:

It's another cookbook recipe and it's dedicated to my pal Smoky. The chipotle peppers lend the soup a smoky flavor, and so I named the soup accordingly. I have no idea if Smoky actually liked split pea soup. I know he liked French fries. But regardless as to whether or not he liked split pea soup, I'm sure he wouldn't have minded having one named after him.

By the way, that red stuff on top is sriracha. It's not in the recipe. I just have a thing for split peas with sriracha. It's an odd but delicious combination.

I served Smoky's soup with an Earth Balanced slice of this Rustic Multiseed Wheat Bread:

The recipe was in the February issue of Vegetarian Times, in the No-Knead Bread section. Just as it sounds, this delicious loaf required absolutely no kneading. Instant yeast is used for a quick rise, and I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose in their recipe. For the record, this loaf had the best rise I've ever gotten using whole wheat pastry flour. And it's delicious. I think I've found my new go-to bread recipe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soy Curls, How Do I Love Thee?

My Whole Foods doesn't sell Soy Curls, and since WF is the only health food store we have in Memphis, I have to order these chicken-like dehydrated soy protein strips. Thankfully, I placed an order for Soy Curls on Vegan Essentials last month (thanks Papa Crunk!).

If you've never had them, Soy Curls are basically just chicken-strip-shaped hunks of textured veggie protein (also known as TVP). They don't have a flavor on their own, but after re-hydrating in boiling water, Soy Curls soak up whatever spices and seasonings they're cooked with. They're awesome in stir-fries, mixed with barbecue sauce on whole wheat buns, and tossed with vegan alfredo and pasta. And they were delicious in these Cheezy Un-Chicken Quesadillas:

The recipe is actually an appetizer in my cookbook. Since Soy Curls aren't readily available everywhere (including Memphis), folks can use Morningstar Farms faux chicken strips, flavored seitan, or plain ole tofu in this recipe.

Besides the Soy Curls, my quesadilla contains some other stuff that I'd tell you about ... but then I'd have to kill you because it's going in the book. Sorry to be such a tease, but here's an inside shot:

I served mine with Tofutti sour cream and Newman's Own all-natural Bandito Salsa. And I steamed some kobocha squash for a hearty winter side dish.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Would You Like a Spot of Tea?

I felt like I should have been sippin' on some hot Earl Grey with this hearty Traditional English Breakfast platter:

How traditional and English is it? I have no idea. It's from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. She says she grew up eating this dish with her English parents. And my good pal Poopie Bitch is married to a British dude, and he loves beans on toast. So it sounds pretty English to me.

Though the recipe is easy and delicious, there are quite a few steps to undertake in the morning. A slice of sourdough bread is broiled with Tofutti American cheese (not English, I know ... but hey, it's what I had and it melts beautifully). That's topped with steamed spinach, Eden Organics baked beans (no sugar added!), sauteed mushrooms, and a broiled tomato half.

Unfortunately, my January no-coffee cleanse burned me out on hot tea. I'm just plain sick of it. So I sipped on some iced agave-sweetened green tea with my brekkie instead.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Fat Tuesday Goodies!

In my Fat Tuesday post on Tuesday night, I mentioned a couple of cookbook testers I'd eaten for dinner. But since my photo studios are, um, my back porch and my window-lit kitchen counter, it's hard to get a good shot after the sun goes down. I'm not a fan of using the flash unless it's absolutely necessary, so in the winter, I often shoot dinner photos using the next day's leftovers.

So, without further ado, here's what I had for dinner last night and lunch today — Cajun-Roasted Cauliflower:

I've been tweaking this main and/or side dish for some time, and I think I've finally gotten it right. I don't want to reveal too much about the recipe since it's for my cookbook, but you can see that it's roasted cauliflower florets tossed with a spicy tomato-based sauce. I love vegetable-based main dishes!

On the side, I had a protein-packed portion of Nutty Mushroom Quinoa:

This pecan-flecked, mushroom quinoa has a savory, stuffing-like flavor that would lend itself to wonderful side dish on Thanksgiving or some other harvest-themed celebration. And it even did the job of filling me up on a cold-ass February night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Laissez le bon temps rouler, y'all!

In case you didn't know, that's French for "let the good times roll." Today's Fat Tuesday, the last day of debauchery before Lent begins. I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore, but I'm a sucker for tradition and ritual ... and a good party. I began my Fat Tuesday with a slice of sugar-licious King Cake:

I used Kittee Kake's recipe, since she is the Queen of Vegan King Cakes. I was fresh out of plastic babies, so I took Kittee's suggestion and used a white bean instead. I took the cake to work and my co-worker Mary had the first slice, and lo and behold, she got the bean baby. That means she's supposed to bring the king cake to work next year, but I suspect I'll have to do it anyway.

I used a very basic cinnamon-sugar-Earth Balance filling, so it tasted a little like a big ole cinnamon roll:

After my king cake breakfast, I had a work-related meeting at Republic Coffee, a fun little Midtown coffeehouse, and they were offering a Praline Latte for Fat Tuesday. Of course, I had one ... with soy, no whip.

Dinner was a cookbook tester with a Cajun theme, but I'll share those pictures tomorrow. It was too dark to get a good shot at dinnertime. Now my boyfriend and I are about to wrap up the evening with a couple of Abita beers, the local beer of New Orleans.

Happy Fat Tuesday ... or what's left of it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Hate Snow, But I Like Soup

I know I've complained a little excessively about the weather this season. But it's cold, y'all. I don't do well when temperatures fall below 70 degrees, and thankfully most Memphis winters are fairly mild. But it snowed AGAIN today ... for like the 4th or 5th time this year. Everybody knows that the South isn't supposed to get more than two snows per winter. This is whack.

Now I know some of y'all have seen a crap ton of snow, and I probably sound like a wussy. It's true that we never get more than an inch. But folks down South don't know how to handle snow, and the roads get all icey and people freak out.

Thankfully, I had this steamy bowl of Black Bean Soup from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook to warm me up:

This might look like any old black bean soup, but it's not. It is a Lauren Ulm recipe, after all. The soup contains a small amount of coconut milk, in addition to the red bell pepper, celery, carrots, and black beans. The coconut milk gives the soup a creaminess that trumps all other black bean soups. I doubt I'll ever make anyone else's black bean soup recipe again.

I served my soup with a slice of Sourdough Bread with Kenzoil and a side salad (not pictured because you know what a salad looks like):

About a year ago, I vowed to stop eating white bread, but after reading Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet, I've decided an occasional loaf of fresh-baked sourdough is okay. Several of her recipes call for sourdough, and she's like a beacon of healthy eating. So she can't be wrong, right? Anyway, I bought this loaf at Cafe Eclectic, a cute little vegan-friendly Midtown coffeehouse/bakery. Even if white bread is bad for me, I feel better knowing that I supported an awesome small business by purchasing it. Besides, they were out of whole wheat bread. I can justify anything.

Oh, and the green stuff is Kenzoil, which I reviewed here. It's an olive oil dressing made with fresh basil and garlic. Best bread topping ever. Unfortunately, this was the last teaspoon-full in my bottle, and it's not available for sale in Memphis. I'll have to order some on their website.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year!

My boyfriend Paul had to work on Valentine's night, so we decided to go out for a casual V-day lunch. Since today was the Chinese New Year, we "fed two birds with one seed" by dining at a Chinese restaurant. We chose A-Tan Restaurant, a veg-friendly Chinese joint, sushi bar, and hibachi grill. Of course, we opted for Chinese entrees instead of sushi. And we started our meal with a Flaming Volcano cocktail:

This drink is literally on fire. The moat around the volcano contains a tropical cocktail made with rum, brandy, pineapple juice, and orange juice. A shot of Bacardi 151 is poured into the volcano's crater and the bartender sets it on fire at your table. See for yourself:

After tearing through a veggie spring roll, I helped myself to a plate of Family Style Bean Curd with sticky white rice:

The tofu is cut into triangles and lightly fried to perfection, and the veggie mix contains all my faves — bamboo shoots, baby corn, mushrooms, water chesnuts, snow peas, and carrots.

While we were eating, we noticed a crew of young guys outside who appeared to be suiting up for some kind of performance. A few minutes later, we saw this happy Buddha guy walking toward our table:

And he was followed by this crazy tiger:

A yellow tiger was on the trail the of the red one, and they paraded through the restaurant performing dances and tricks while a drummer pounded a tribal beat. Here they are making their way through the hibachi area:

We had no idea the restaurant organized an annual Chinese New Year parade. It was quite a fun Valentine's Day surprise!

Speaking of A-Tan Restaurant, I've added a comprehensive Memphis vegan dining guide on the right sidebar of this page (underneath my profile info). A-Tan's contact info is included, as well as a number of other vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants in Memphis. Hopefully, it'll be of use to local readers and any vegans planning a trip to Memphis.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Mochi Me Crazy!

First things first — we have a winner in the Vegan Essentials gift certificate giveaway! A random number generator picked Jeni Treehugger of Heathen Vegan! Wooo! Thank you all for participating. I think I got more comments on that contest than any other in the past. Folks love 'em some Vegan Essentials.

Secondly, I must share this week's amazing breakfast — Mochi Waffles with Lemon-Walnut-Rice Syrup from The Kind Diet:

I love, love, love me some mochi. I'm a sucker for chewy foods, and food doesn't really get chewier than mochi. This microbiotic recipe from Alicia Silverstone calls for only four ingredients — mochi, fresh lemon juice, chopped walnuts, and brown rice syrup.

In case you don't know, mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into a paste and molded into a large flat square. I buy mine at Whole Foods in the cold section. You can do all sorts of stuff with it — bake it into puffy squares, fry it, or in this case, place strips in your waffle maker for the world's chewiest (and most satisfying) waffles.

The syrup is simply brown rice syrup mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and toasted, chopped walnuts. It tastes sinful, but it's actually so, so healthy.

I served the waffles with two slices of my own recipe Tempeh Bacon:

This is another cookbook recipe, and I promise it's a little different from other tempeh bacon recipes out there. A secret, surprise ingredient really sets this bacon apart.

Finally, I need to mention an important fund-raising campaign for an awesome vegan small business. Last year, I reviewed Intention Cookies from Bountiful Vegan, a line of lick-your-lips, oversized vegan cookies. These cookies come in four flavors — Choco-Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Orange, Lemon Snickerdoodle, and Coconut Pineapple — and each is said to contain a little mojo magic. Depending on the flavor, the cookies are said to bring about love, prosperity, harmony, and well-being.

The cookies were launched last year, and now the company (a small business run by two awesome people — Mary and Terry — who only make vegan cookies) is embarking on its next stage of growth. They hope to increase production, and they're trying to raise $10,000 to do so. If you'd like to donate, go here. No amount is too small.

Have a great weekend. And if you have The Kind Diet, please try the mochi waffles. Perfect Valentine's Day breakfast!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vegan Palak Paneer

As I mentioned in Sunday's post, Nasoya was kind enough to send me a handful of coupons for free samples of their tofu products and sandwich spreads. Though I typically buy the generic extra-firm Whole Foods tofu, I picked out a butt-load (well, maybe not a butt-load, but several packages) of Nasoya tofu on my last grocery trip. One such find was Nasoya's Lite Firm Tofu.

Now, I'm not exactly into low-fat eating, but I do like to cut calories when taste and quality aren't sacrificed. After all, eating less calories in one meal means I can eat more dessert later. Thankfully, this lite tofu tastes exactly like the regular Nasoya firm tofu. It has 40 calories per serving versus 80 calories per serving, and I'm honestly not sure how they did that. Judging by the ingredient lists on both tofus, the lite tofu contains a few more added vitamins. But for the most part, they have the the same make-up. Maybe it's magic...

Anyhow, I decided to try the tofu in this Vegan Palak Paneer from 101 Things to Do with Tofu:

I've never had real palak paneer, a North Indian dish typically made with cottage cheese and spinach. But I know this vegan version looks very much like the dairy version, which also contains white cubes. It was super simple, and minimally seasoned. The tofu reaches a firmer, more cheese-like consistency after its boiled for several minutes and then drained in a colander.

I served the palak paneer over smoked spelt, a delightful little chewy whole grain from Germany. Mihl from Seitan is My Motor sent me a bag of it in a care package from Germany last year.

Though I've had the 101 Things to Do with Tofu cookbook since October, this recipe is the first I've made from it. It's a cute spiral-bound volume with mostly vegan (some vegetarian), mostly easy-peasy tofu recipes. Worth checking out for some fresh, new tofu ideas.

Wednesday is the last chance to enter my $25 Vegan Essentials gift certificate giveaway. See this post for details.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Grub

I only watch one football game a year — the Superbowl. Most years, I pick a team based on their mascot or uniform color because I know nothing about the teams. Some years, I just root for the underdog. But this year, I was all for the Saints. And woooo hooooo ... they WON!

New Orleans is sorta like Memphis' sister city: We both have a lively entertainment district (they have Bourbon St., we have Beale). We're both Southern river towns. Our cultures center around the blues. And after Katrina, hundreds of NOLA folks made Memphis a temporary (and in some cases, permanent) home since the Bluff City is only a quick drive from the Crescent City. Not to mention that New Orleans my family's favorite place to vacation.

In preparation for the Saints' victory, I cooked up a batch of my Seitan Hot Wangz. The recipe will be included in my cookbook:

This is an old photo, but they looked the same this time. My friend Greg, who knows absolutely nothing about football and only came for the free grub, helped me devour these little spicy seitan chunks.

You've gotta have chips and dip for the Big Game, so I took the opportunity to make a recipe I've been dying to try since I got Alicia Silverstone's The Kind DietCheezy, Oozy Guacamole Dip:

Wow! I was always a fan of Mexican layer dips, and this did not disappoint. A creamy layer of refried beans (I used Whole Foods brand) is spread on the bottom and that's topped with lime-laced avocado. The tastiest layer is the Tofutti sour cream mixed with Simply Organic taco seasoning. Green chilis, black olives, and tomatoes rest atop the sour cream, and it's all topped with Follow Your Heart vegan nacho cheese.

I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. Greg and I ate way too much of this on Sunday, and I had some more for lunch today. And so far, the avocado has stayed a lovely bright green. I'm hoping this stuff will last for a couple more days.

That's all for now. Don't forget to enter my Vegan Essentials gift certificate giveaway if you haven't already. Contest ends on Wednesday night.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chocolate Almond Midnight: The Remix

I recently received a bunch of coupons for free Nasoya products to review. I typically buy the cheap-o Whole Foods brand tofu because all tofu tastes the same to me. Nasoya is about a dollar higher than the generic stuff. But since it was free, I stocked up on several different Nasoya products, including Nasoya regular Silken Tofu and their Dark Chocolate Silken Style Creations.

I planned to use both products in my attempt recreate Chocolate Almond Midnight, the amazing torte I had at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco last week. You might remember this photo from my Millennium post. This torte was the best thing I ever put in my mouth:

Though I purchased The Artful Vegan (Millennium's second cookbook) while I was at the restaurant, I later learned that the Chocolate Almond Midnight recipe was printed in their older book, The Millennium Cookbook. Thankfully, Swell Vegan was super swell and e-mailed me the recipe (which she graciously took the time to type out!).

The recipe is a bit different from the torte I had at the restaurant, which was topped with a creamy white chocolate mousse. The recipe from the cookbook didn't include the mousse, but I wanted to try and recreate it anyway by combining the regular silken tofu with melted vegan white chocolate chips and sugar. After making the mousse my way, I realized that The Artful Vegan contains a recipe for their mousse. But it contained cocoa butter, which I wouldn't even know where to find.

I layered my white chocolate mousse atop the Nasoya dark chocolate tofu and baked it in a cashew crust. Then I topped that with maple praline almonds, chocolate ganache, and (not picture here) fresh raspberry sauce:

Here's an inside shot so you can see the layers:

The result? Delicious. But not quite as tasty as the Millennium's version. I loved the fluffiness of their mousse, but my version is definitely a keeper. And that Nasoya dark chocolate tofu — oh my god, ya'll. It's just like chocolate pudding. There's no beany tofu taste whatsoever. In fact, I just ate a bowl of the leftover chocolate tofu by itself.

As for Nasoya's plain silken tofu, I love how it comes in a one-pound package instead of the 12.3-ounce aseptic package. Sometimes you just need a full pound of silken tofu.

Since I changed the recipe for Chocolate Almond Midnight so much, I think it's okay to re-print it here as an adaptation. Here ya go:

Chocolate Almond Midnight: The Remix
Adapted from The Millennium Cookbook

Cashew Crust
1/3 cup raw cashews
3 tbsp turbinado
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 tsp salt

Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 package of Nasoya Dark Chocolate Style Creations silken tofu
2 Tbsp. cornstarch (dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

White Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
3/4 package Nasoya Silken tofu, plain
1/4 cup turbinado
2 Tbsp. cornstarch (dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Maple Almond Praline
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup slivered almonds

Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
Raspberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Fresh fruit, cocoa powder, and finely shredded fresh mint for garnish

To make the cashew crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil an 8-inch round springform or false bottom pan. In a food processor, grind the cashews until they resemble fine meal. Add the Sucanat, oil, and vanilla. Process again until well combined. In a small bowl, stir the flour and salt together. Add the cashew mixture and mix into the flour, beginning with a spatula and ending with your hands. press the crust into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light brown and dry.

To make the chocolate mousse: In a microwave, melt the chocolate chips for about 30 seconds (check after 30 seconds and if they're not melted, add another 30 seconds). In a blender or food processor, combine the dark chocolate silken tofu, cornstarch slurry, vanilla, and salt. Process, then add the melted chocolate and blend for 2 minutes, or until very smooth and completely combined.

To make the white chocolate mousse: In a microwave, melt the white chocolate chips for about 30 seconds (check after 30 seconds and if they're not melted, add another 30 seconds). In a blender or food processor, combine plain silken tofu, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch slurry. Process, and then add the melted white chocolate. Blend until very smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil the sides of the cake pan above the prebaked crust. Pour the dark chocolate mousse mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and very gently pour the white chocolate mousse on top of the dark chocolate. Bake for another 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a paring knife around the inside of the pan. Let the cake cool to the touch, refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Unmold just before serving (I used a regular cake pan so I didn't unmold ... just sliced it from pan).

To make the praline: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add the almond and stir constantly until the maple syrup has completely crystallized onto the almonds and the almonds appear dry.Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 weeks.

Once the pie is cooled, scatter the praline bits on top, pressing them gently into the white chocolate mousse. Top with ganache.

To serve, cut the cake into 8 pieces. For each serving, pool Raspberry Sauce on a plate and top with a slice of cake. Garnish with fresh fruit, cocoa powder, and mint.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. soy milk

Combine the chocolate and milk in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Stir to combine. Allow to cool about ten minutes and then spoon into a pastry bag. Pipe ganache on top of pie in your desired pattern.

Raspberry Sauce
makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh or 10 ounces unsweetened frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup turbinado

In a blender, combine the raspberries and turbinado, then blend to a smooth sauce. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


I know it's a long recipe, but it's so delicious! Definitely worth the time it takes to make it. By the way, if you haven't entered my Vegan Essential gift certificate giveaway, the contest remains open until Wednesday. Go here for details.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pizza and Donuts! And a Free Stuff for You!

Stay tuned at the end of this post for an awesome giveaway!

Last night, I posted pictures of my sweet haul from Vegan Essentials, courtesy of Mama and Papa Crunk. But I deliberately left out the two favorite items in my latest order. I saved the best for last. I may be the last vegan in the world to try Daiya Cheese, and I'm honestly not sure what I was waiting for. Here's my first pack of Daiya Italian Cheese Shreds:

And here's my Daiya gettin' all melty-melty on a slice of Vegan Supreme Pizza:

This stuff is rad. It's way meltier than Teese and tastes way more authentic. In fact, this may be the best-tasting/best-melting vegan cheese I've tried (still haven't tried Cheezly). It was perfect atop this whole wheat crust with homemade tomato sauce, Gimme Lean vegan sausage, bell peppers, black olives, and red onions.

Here's an extreme close-up shot to prove just how melty this stuff really is:

My pizza was seriously amazing, but nothing could top these Vegan Donuts from Larsen's Bakery:

These fresh-baked cuties are available on Vegan Essentials, and they come un-iced to ensure freshness. There's 11 donuts in a box, with the extra space reserved for a tub of sweet, sweet white icing. They freeze wonderfully, so no stress if you can't eat 11 donuts before they go stale (but seriously, if you can't do that, something is wrong with you). Oh, and they're yeasted donuts! That means they're more like Krispy Kreme than Little Debbie. Hells yea.

Here's one that I warmed in the oven, messy iced, decorated with sprinkles, and shoved in my mouth:

Now for the fun part: My daddy (a.k.a. Papa Crunk) called me today and asked if I'd be interested in giving away a $25 gift certificate to one lucky random reader for Valentine's Day. He's paying the tab because he's just awesome like that. So you can order donuts, Daiya, Go Max Go bars, whatever tickles your fancy.

Here's how to enter: Leave a comment on this post letting me know what vegan product(s) you have to order (or would like to order) online because they're not available where you live. If you live in a vegan mecca, like Portland, where everything is available, just mention a product that you can't live without.

For extra entries, tweet a link to this contest on Twitter and leave another comment letting me know you tweeted (or twatted or whatever you call that). You can also post a link on Facebook and leave yet another comment for a max number of three entries per reader.

I'll leave the contest open until Wednesday, February 10th at 10 p.m. CST. A winner will be announced in next Thursday night's post. If your comment doesn't link back to a blog, please leave your email address in your comment (you can write it like this — name[at]whatever[dot]com — to avoid spammers). Your email will be required to send an e-gift certificate from Vegan Essentials.

Happy Contesting!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Check Out My Cool New Stuff

My awesome mama and daddy (and yes, I still call them "mama and daddy" even though I'm nearly *cough* 30) intended on placing a special Xmas order for me from Vegan Essentials. But I asked them to hold off since I knew I was about to start my Adventure Cleanse Tune-up. When the cleanse was FINALLY over, my daddy gave me a spending limit and let me order whatever I wanted! The stuff came in last week.

I got one each of the four Go Max Go Candy Bars. There's the Jokerz Bar, which tastes like a Snickers:

This is the only one I've opened so far, and it does taste very much like a Snickers. That was always one of my favorite candy bars. It doesn't have quite the peanut content that Snickers does, but it's still delish. The caramel is amazing! Before trying these bars, the only vegan candy bars I've had were the Crispy Cat bars and they really didn't impress ... too health-foody. Go Max Go bars taste like real junk food candy bars, but they still contain decent ingredients.

I also got the Buccaneer (like a 3 Muskateers):

The Twilight (like a Milky Way):

And the Mahalo (like a Mounds Bar ... I'll probably be opening this one next):

And I couldn't resist these Sjaak's vegan Miniature Peanut Butter Cups:

Sexy inside shot:

These little guys have a creamier center than a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and honestly, I think they taste even better.

Bought some more Soy Curls for stir-fries, cheezesteak sammiches, and such:

And some more of my favorite snack — Eco-planet Non-Dairy Cheddar Crackers:

I also ordered a few new products, like this We Can't Say Its Cheese Spread, Cheddar-style:

This stuff has an oatmeal base, and it tastes very much like real cheese spread. It's ridiculously creamy, the perfect topping for my "Triscit-style" Kashi Heart-to-Heart Crackers.

And finally I couldn't resist these Upton's Naturals Chorizo Tamales:

I haven't had a tamale since before going vegetarian in 1994! So you can imagine the magic that happened in my mouth when I bit into these babies. You simply steam them in their husks and un-wrap:

I served mine with loads of jalapeno sauce and a giant salad. I ordered two more products from Vegan Essentials, but they deserve a post of their own. So Thursday night, I'll share my favorite Vegan Essentials scores. And be sure to come back because I'll also be hosting an awesome giveaway.