Peaches & Cream + Strawberries & Cream = Mouthgasm.

How are you today? Personally, I had a wretched day so I decided to do a late night post about a cobbler. Bad day make me sad panda. Cobbler make me happy! And foxes. These foxes make me VERY happy.

Can't. Stand. The. Cute.

I somehow clicked my way to a really great blog called Eat the Love. I don’t know much about it yet, but it seems to be written by an intelligent, talented and creative award-winning baker named Irvin. He has a handful of vegan recipes for what sound like some incredible treats and a plethora of mouth-watering gourmet sounding desserts and sweets. Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll learn more about him and his blog as I follow it, but basically I love him already.

I found this recipe for Peach, Strawberry and Cream Cobbler with pieces of Crystallized Ginger. The original recipe wasn’t vegan, but I only had to sub out a few things. The result was a cobbler to die for. I’m talking serious mouthgasms people. Like, I took a bite a quickly went to another place where there were a lot of rainbows and unicorns. And Bill Hader. He was also there because I heart him.

Peaches, strawberries, cream and a touch of ginger

This cobbler is luscious! Luscious I say! I decided to use a combination of yellow peaches from my peach tree and white peaches from the farmers market. A wise choice, a wise choice. The recipe called for a bigger baking dish, but I don’t have a nice looking 9X13, so I squeezed this recipe into a slightly smaller dish than needed and it still worked out very well for me. The biscuit topping baked up perfectly as well, slightly crunchy/crispy top with moist, fluffy biscuit underneath. Mix some of that good stuff up with the filling and let your eyes roll back in your head.

Ginger Peach and Strawberry Cream Cobbler

Veganized from Eat the Love

Filling Ingredients:
3 lbs ripe peaches or nectarines (I used white & yellow peaches)
1lb of strawberries, hulled and cut into halves or quartered if large
1/4 c crystallized ginger
1/4 c Alter Eco Golden Brown Mascobado Sugar
2 tsp Arrowroot
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
8oz of vegan cream cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
1 c unbleached cane sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of almond extract
1 tsp of cinnamon
4 tsp Ener-G Brand Egg Replacer
1/2 c coconut milk creamer (I love So Delicious brand)
Biscuit Topping Ingredients:
2 ccunbleached AP flour
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp unbleached cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbsp cold Non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine (I used Earth Balance) Coconut Oil or the new Earth Balance Coconut Spread may work too. Don’t refrigerate your coconut oil. Ever.
2/3 c coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious vanilla flavor)
*Optional- You can also leave the sugar out if you’d like to sprinkle some of top of the cobbler. I didn’t do this, but I’m sure it would be a delicious addition.
Method:
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Peel and cut the peaches into slices no bigger than 1/2″. If you’re not sure how to peel a peach, don’t worry, it’s easy! Just boil some water and blanch the peaches. The skins will slip right off. Combine the peaches, strawberries, ginger, golden brown sugar, arrowroot and lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside to macerate.
Beat the vegan cream cheese in your Kitchenaid or with a hand mixer until it’s smooth. This will only take a minute or so. Add the cane sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Add the Ener-G Egg Replacer and mix until incorporated
Go back to the bowl of peaches and measure out 1/8 cup of the juices from the bowl. Drain the remaining juice out of the fruit through a strainer or colander. Then add the fruit to your baking dish. Beat the reserved 1/8 cup juice into the  vegan cream cheese, and then beat in the coconut milk creamer until just incorporated. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the peaches and strawberries and put in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered. You may need to to put the cobbler on a rimmed baking sheet or line the bottom of your oven with an old cooking/baking sheet. Since I used a smaller dish, I had some drippage. I was prepared though, so it wasn’t really too much mess.
Take a small break (Irvin suggests you wash some dishes in this time and I agree!) Then make the biscuit topping.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt). Spoon the Earth Balance into the bowl using a tbsp. If you have the Earth Balance sticks, cut them into 1/4″ or so pieces.Use a pastry cutter/whisk and cut in the Earth Balance until the mixture starts to resemble coarse meal. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor. I like to make dough by hand, though. Fold in the yogurt and mix until a dough starts to form. As usual, be careful not to overmix. Divide the dough into about ten or twelve 1/4 cup chunks.
Once the 20 minutes are up, pull the baking dish out of the oven and evenly distribute the biscuit dough on top leaving about 1/2” space between the dough pieces. Ideally, you don’t want the dough pieces to touch one another, but mine were all kinds of close and touchy feely because of my choice to use a smaller dish. It was not a problem for me. Now, you can sprinkle that optional sugar on top that we discussed earlier. If you’re not using the sugar, just pop this baby in the oven for another 18-20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Cool and serve warm.
Delicious!

Probably shouldn’t have used my yellow bowl for this picture, but oh well. Hope it still looks good because it tasted amazing. Thank you Irvin for the amazing recipe and inspiration! Go check out his blog if you have a minute. 🙂

Las Vegas and the Maple-“Bacon” Cupcake

Hi. Hi there. I just got back from a quick weekend in Las Vegas. Before you go getting ideas I was there visiting some very good friends who live there. We had a lovely time together hanging out, eating, hiking and more eating!

My friends frequent a mystical place known as Mt. Charleston which is right outside of Vegas. Supposedly there is this place just a wee bit out of town boasting temps that dip below the triple digits and trees and greenery are abundant…what?!? Near Vegas?!? Since they always have such good things to say about this so called “Mt. Charleston”, I asked if we could maybe go hiking there. My friends obliged and were happy to take me on a quest for the perfect Saturday afternoon hike. Guess what? We found it! The way up was not only gorgeous, but was a nice ride. No winding roads or dramamine needed = awesome.

After we passed through the desert, which is very beautiful itself, we started seeing more bushes…then shrubs….then…..trees! It was pretty magical. In just a few minutes the landscape turned from Joshua trees and sand, to firs, pines, cedars, with large rocky mountain sides and sprawling green meadows in between breaks in the forest. The temperature went from over 100°F to just around 76°F, which was so refreshing from the heat. The hike was great. Beautiful scenery, good company and great exercise.

I hope you enjoyed those photos because I enjoyed taking them 🙂

One other thing happened in Vegas that was of major importance slash significance; The [vegan] Maple-Bacon Cupcake was born. In the last few months or years or whatever, I have been hearing of desserts and other treats that have bacon in them. At first, the idea sounded pretty disgusting to me, but recently, I have been reconsidering that notion. I thought that maybe I should try to create a vegan version of such a crazy treat….and the Maple-Bacon Cupcake idea was born. I got all of my ingredients together and brought some supplies to Vegas. I figured since I was visiting beloved friends, I ought to use that opportunity to experiment on them. Insert maniacal laugh. I kid, I kid (or do I?), but really, I can’t make cupcakes without mouths to eat them and several mouths at that. The more mouths the better…but not more than 12 or you won’t get a cupcake. One of my friends was kind enough to be my kitchen assistant and we cooked up some tempeh bacon, made some batter, some icing/frosting–was def a cross between the two– and success!

Maple-Bacon Cupcake.

Those little bits you see in the cake are maple-glazed bits of smokey tempeh bacon! I need to add a little more next time though I think.

Maple Bacon Cupcake Dressed Up w/ Maple Frosting & Bacon Bits

The frosting is maple flavored and I used vegetarian bacon bits rather than tempeh bacon as a garnish. I thought the crunch of the bits would be a nice contrast. I will post the recipe soon, I just want to make a few very small changes. The friends I had test these cupcakes were all omnivores and they really enjoyed them. I was told they have a distinct breakfast-like taste. Someone said they thought of waffles and someone else thought they would be nice at brunch. In any case, I am glad they were enjoyed and I am so happy to have a new and exciting recipe. 🙂

Any strange combinations of foods that catch your fancy?

*The photos of the cupcakes were taken by my awesome friend Amanda Eisenberg of Eisenberg Designs. She’s got one of them fancy cameras for picture shootin’ and things, so I had her take them. Thanks Amanda!

Harry Potter & the Vegan Treatfest.

After 10 years on the big screen, the Harry Potter series has finally reached its end. To commemorate such an epic event, I decided to host a small gathering of friends/fans. I invited everyone over a few hours before we would all have to leave for the midnight showing. I provided drinks and desserts inspired by the magical series.

My super amazing friend Galen gave me the little Potter themed rubber bands to help decorate my table.

table set-up

I also got some HP book marks and tied them to various natural sodas for each guest coming over.

more Potter table

For the treats, I decided on:

Pumpkin Pasties

Chocolate Frogs

Hagrid’s Rock Cakes

Cauldron Cakes

Golden Snitch Cupcakes

Butterbeer

Pumpkin/Apple Juice

Golden Snitch Cupcakes

For the Golden Snitch Cupcakes, I did a moist yellow cake that I made extra yellow golden by adding my good friend Turmeric. If you and turmeric are not friends yet, you guys should sit down and get to know one another over some vegan egg salad.

Pumpkin Pasties and Hagrid's Rock Cakes

The Pumpkin Pasties are seen on the left and Hagrid’s Rock Cakes (my personal favorite treat of the night) are on the right.

Pumpkin pasties are so easy to make. We should all be eating them, all the time. I have made them a few times and think I have finally gotten them just the way I want them. What you want to do is make a thick pumpkin filling by using organic canned pumpkin blended with your thickener of choice. I like to use soaked pecans and arrowroot, but you can do whatever combination or single ingredient to your taste. Then you want to add a little sweetener of choice and to your taste- I don’t think pumpkin generally needs a ton of added sweetener because it is already so delicious and sweet as is. Pumpkin is also SO good for you it’s ridiculoos! But I’m going to save my pumpkin lesson for a pumpkin themed post later this fall when they’re in season and I become obsessed with them.

Anywhooo, just add some spices to taste and there you have it…pumpkin pasty filling! The next step is to grab some pie dough, which I hope you made yourself…..and get to pasty making. I make mine empanada style by rolling out my dough and using a biscuit cutter to make small circles. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, grab a pint glass from the cupboard and use the top part as a your cutter. Give your cut circles one extra roll with your rolling pin, add a tsp or two of filling, fold and press the edges together with a fork. Cut a slit in the top for steam, then bake and bam, pasties in your face!

Pasties of the past: From Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
Chocolate Frog and Pumpkin Pasty

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good shots of the cauldron cakes or drinks. The cauldron cakes were mini chocolate bundt cakes with a chocolate ganache. Whenever I am having people over for food, I always forget to take pictures. I think it’s because I just get so happy to see my awesome friends that I just forget about everything else.

The gathering was marvelous and the film was good too. There were some things that I didn’t exactly like about it, but overall I think it was great and that they really did do the best job they could with converting those amazing and magical books into films. I’m sad to see it end, but now we can all just look forward to a dvd party?!?

If you’ve read the Harry Potter book series, which is your favorite book? Which film is your favorite? Do you think the films do right by the books?

Cherries.

Rainier Cherries at Providence Cherry Farm

I LOVE cherries. Delicious little beautiful wonders. This. This is what I think about cherries.  Certain fruits just have this look to me. The look where if you were on your own….totally in the wild and stumbled upon this fruit for the first time, a cherry, you’d think, “That. I want to put that in my mouth”.

And it turns out, cherries are a swell choice for things you should put in your mouth. Cherries contain athocyanins, which is what makes them so purty. Athocyanins are antioxidants that give cherries, as well as other fruits and plants, their color. Cherries have also been known to help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and there are even rumors afoot that they help keep fat away too.

Pickin' Cherries. Varieties: Sweet Tartarian, Royal Ann, Rainier

Tofu Scallops Wrapped in “Bacon” with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

Every now and then when I’m feeling fancy, I pull out my copy of Veganize This! By Jenn Shagrin and whip up a batch of her tofu scallops. Tofu scallops?!? What the hell are those? Short answer: Tofu marinated in an ocean-y broth. Ocean-y broth?!? Say what?? Think seaweeds and water and things. If you want more detailed info, get your hands on Jenn’s book. It’s not a great choice for beginning cooks, but if you love food and cookin’, it’s a must have. I have a small cookie cutter that I use to cut my tofu into scallop look-a-likes.

Baked Tofu Scallops Wrapped in "Bacon" w/ Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

I lightly salted and peppered my scallops and peeled some garlic to bake with them. I wrapped them in Lightlife’s Smart Bacon, which I don’t normally use (I like tempeh bacon), but Smart Bacon was perfect for these. I put them on a baking sheet and sprayed them with a very light coating of oil. I baked them for about 25-30 minutes and then served them with the sauce recipe below on a bed of organic whole-wheat linguine. To round out the meal, I should have added a salad, but I was too full.

Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

Adapted from Whole Foods Recipe

1 tbsp refined organic coconut oil, safflower or sunflower oil

2 shallots, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced or very finely chopped

2 tbsp brown rice vinegar or white wine

½ lb cherries, pitted and quartered (about 2 cups)

1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

unbleached sea salt, to taste

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they start to soften. Then, add the garlic. Keep an eye….we all know how fast garlic can burn. Add the vinegar/wine and cherries. Here, you can either cover your skillet and let the cherries cook a few minutes (until they start to become soft) or you can leave the lid off and just cook them a little bit longer. Mix in tarragon and turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce is cherry, so it’s supposed to be sweet, so keep that in mind when adding your salt.

If you like a chunky sauce, leave as is. If you like your sauces a little smoother, you can give it a whirl in a food processor or blender. Depending on what kind of skillet or saucepot you’re using, you can also use an immersion blender.

And for dessert…

Rainier Cherry, Lemon and Sweet “Ricotta” Gratin w/Black Pepper & Toasted Almonds

Rainier Cherry, Lemon and Sweet "Ricotta" Gratin w/ Black Pepper & Toasted Almonds

Varieties of cherries I’ve sampled: Bing, Rainier, Royal Ann, Brooks, and Sweet Tartarian Cherries. Which ones have you tried and what are your favorites?

PS. If anyone knows where to find sour cherries in the Los Angeles area, please let me know!

Greetings Bloglings!

Hi there and welcome to this brand new blog!

Food, shenanigans, misadventures, maybe a lil magic, but mostly food. I think that’s what’s about to go on here….I think.

I do hope you’ll join me on this crazy little journey I’m about to make in this here blogosphere. 🙂 Yes. Lots and lots of smiley faces. And hearts. Lots of those too. ❤