Food Porn.

Hi. Hi blog. I feel like I haven’t seen you in so long! I have been a busy, busy little bee lately. Unlike some people, I DO NOT like to be overly busy with plans and commitments. I am, and have always been the kind of person who requires substantial alone time and a fair share of down time. Doing things like cooking up something new and exciting, reading a copy of VegNews, watching a dvd and more are all things that I love to do. Not having time to do those things and other hobbies makes me a sad, sad panda fox. And a stressed fox. A sad, stressed fox.

Anyhow, I am hoping things will calm down for me once fall gets into gear. When the days get shorter, people usually don’t like to do as much. Does that fall under environmental determinism? Or is that just climate and weather? Who knows. I have been 3 kinds of Eddie Murphy Delirious lately, so excuse me if I don’t make sense.

Enough about me! How dare I! I have some better posts with recipes that I will try to post later this week . But for now, here is some food porn of what I have been eating lately.

Tempeh Shawarma w/ Tabouleh Salad
Seared Tempeh over Mashed Potatoes & Cherry-Balsamic Reduction
Cumin & Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Mushroom Tortas w/ Purple Basil Aioli and Dragonfruit Pico de Gallo

The Daiya doesn’t look that melted in the pic, but I assure you it was!

Curried "Pork", Enoki Mushroom & Purple Basil Spring Rolls w/ Porcini-Shoyu-Sake Reduction
Lavender Fettucine w/ Basil-Mint Aioli and Wild Arugula
Coffee Rubbed "Steak" Tacos w/ Lobster Mushroom, Heirloom Cherry Tomato & Corn Salsa
Coffee Rubbed "Steak" Tacos w/ Lobster Mushroom, Heirloom Cherry Tomato & Corn Salsa
Heirloom Tomato, Black Garlic & Marsala-Roasted Chickpea Panzanella
Lemon-Artichoke Homemade Pasta in a Heirloom Tomato-Cream Vinaigrette w/ English Peas & "Prosciutto"

Most of these recipes (but not all) were from my favorite cookbook, Jenn Shagrin’s Veganize This! You can always expect an amazing meal when cooking from Jenn’s blog or book. Love that lady!

Did someone say Galette?

I have had galettes on my mind lately. If you’re wondering what they are, well then, what a perfect time for me to ‘splain it to chu. The word galette is used by the French to describe a free-form pastry of sorts. I tend to think of them as free form pies, but the term loosely applies to several different types of pastry including cake-like things and oversized cookie things.

Anyhow, I will do a recipe for a galette sometime soon, but for now, I need to work on my form. Actually, I’d like to work on presentation and visual improvements with many of the dishes I make, especially desserts. I have been thinking about doing a cake decorating class at my local Michael’s store to start–yes, Michael’s has cake decorating classes! 🙂 My dishes are usually full of flavor, but I think they could definitely stand to look a little better visually. Here are some past galettes I’ve made and I think I am improving on my folding techniques. What do you think?

My 1st Galette: Roasted Butternut Squash, Onion Galette w/ Apples, Soy Bleu Cheeze and Fresh Herbs from my garden.

My first thought after making this was that I should have spent more time making the folds. Just doesn’t look French enough to me. 😉

Rustic Apricot and Raspberry Galette

I was a bit more successful with this Rustic Apricot and Raspberry galette I made. I like to leave my galettes open-faced so that you can see some of the goodies inside. I think I did better with this one because I made it smaller than the first, savory style one I made above. I made this one with a touch of Grand Marnier; idea and recipe adapted from Ladycakes. 🙂

Apple-Rhubarb Galette w/ Coconut Crust & Cinnamon Sugar

This is my most recent creation. Again, this one could stand a visual/presentation improvement I think. Although, I was pressed for time when I made this one and the pie dough I had made the night before was taking absolutely forever to reach a workable temperature. It’s because I made the crust with organic virgin coconut oil as my fat, with a tiny bit of Earth Balance–then stored it in the fridge overnight. You should never store your jar of coconut oil in the fridge because it becomes unworkably hard. At the same time, it’s way more convenient to make pastry dough in advance and it’s necessary to store it in the fridge or freezer, coconut oil or not. It helps to roll the dough out into a flat disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. That way, it will be easier to roll out and will warm up a bit faster…but don’t let it get too warm! Oh pastry dough, you’re so high maintenance!

Slice of Apple-Rhubarb Galette

I think to be a proper galette, the pastry must hold a slice when cut. I feel the same way about pie. If it doesn’t hold a slice, it’s still wonderful and delicious, but I think it becomes something else. A delicious pile of sweetness can still be amazing 🙂

I’ll be working on some fall galettes or maybe an end of summer peach galette? Either way, I’ll try to come back with a recipe so you all can get to making some yummy galettes.

Parisian Mac’ n Cheeze with Figs & Mushrooms

Figs.

Lately, I have seen so many beautiful varieties of figs appearing at local farmer’s markets and Whole Foods. I decided to pick up some mission figs and some green ones. A few weeks back, I had heard something about some kind of Parisian style famous mac’ n cheese with figs and mushrooms. I have no idea whether or not people in France really eat mac’ n cheeze this way or not, but I decided to do a vegan version anyway, using both varieties of figs and cremini mushrooms.

I roasted the figs with black pepper, fresh rosemary from the garden, and honey. I drizzled a very small amount  of oil in the bottom of my baking dish so that the figs wouldn’ get stuck.

I sauteed some cremini mushrooms in Earth Balance and then boiled some spelt pasta shells. I then made this sauce using yummy Daiya cheeze.

Daiya Cheeze Sauce for Mac’ n Cheeze

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c non-dairy milk

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 1/2 c Daiya cheddar style

3 tbsp Earth Balance

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp all natural orange food coloring (optional)

Method:

Start by melting the Earthy B with the flour and making a yellow roux. Add non-dairy milk and dijon. Whisk about 10 min. When mixture is thick and bubbly, add Daiya and food coloring if using. Taste for salt, add some if it’s not salty enough for you.

Parisian Mac' n Cheeze w/ Roasted Figs & Mushrooms

This is sort of a heavy sauce, and makes for a richer meal than most meals that I eat regularly, but it’s good to be decadent once in a while. Also, be sure you like fresh figs. Sometimes certain varieties can taste rather earthy, other varieties are very sweet. Just use your favorite or a combination or dried figs. There is lots of wiggle room for the mushrooms, so don’t feel like you have to use creminis.

Figs are your friend!

Lavender Fudge Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Beer

Lavender Fudge Cupcake w/ Strawberry Beer

Over the weekend I met up with some friends to attend a Spork Foods cooking class. Afterwards, we had planned to go to the movies. So naturally I exclaimed to myself, “what a perfect opportunity to make cupcakes!” But what cupcakes to make?!? I’ve been on a lavender kick this summer, last summer it was the green zebra variety of heirloom tomatoes. I decided to make these Lavender Fudge Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Beer. A recipe I adapted from Quick and Easy: Vegan Celebrations by Alicia C. Simpson. I used Abita Strawberry Lager for the beer, but the strawberry flavor was not too pronounced. Feel free to use your favorite quality craft beer.

Lavender Fudge Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Beer

Adapted from: Quick and Easy: Vegan Celebrations by Alicia C. Simpson

Ingredients:

6 oz. strawberry beer

1/4 c canola oil

1/4 c non-dairy milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lavender extract

1/4 c plus 2 tbsp vegan sour cream– I like Follow Your Heart brand

2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 c plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 c loosely packed light brown sugar

1/2 c unbleached granulated cane sugar

2 tsp dried lavender buds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Recipe Chocolate Ganache–recipe follows

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with liners.

Whisk beer, oil, milk, extracts, sour cream, applesauce, and apple cider vinegar in medium to large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add cocoa, brown sugar, and cane sugar and whisk until smooth. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, dried lavender and the flour and mix until fully incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 way full. Bake 20-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean.

Rich Chocolate Ganache

From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World

Ingredients: I used different versions of the ingredients listed in the book–not really sure if it is okay to post, but it’s only 3 ingredients so I’m doing it.

1/4 c almond milk

4 oz dark chocolate

2 tbsp maple syrup

Bring almond milk to gentle boil. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir with rubber spatula. Enjoy!

Crepe Maker.

Wild Mushroom & Frisée Crepe

Vegan Crepes. They exist. They’re delicious. They’re easy to make. Basically, you should go ahead and make vegan crepes right now. I know what some of you must be thinking. Crepes are made of eggs! No. Not these. Thanks to Vegan Yum Yum, you too, can now make vegan crepes in a snap.

The picture above is one of the recipes listed on the Vegan Yum Yum site and it is magnificent. The only difference is that I used a combination of chanterelle and morel mushrooms, rather than chanterelle and trumpet. I don’t think I could find trumpet mushrooms at the time and I had never had morels, so I went for it. The love affair that began with morels is a another blog post for another day.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about Plum Crepes w/ “Ricotta” & Honey. I saw a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for these crepes and I knew I wanted to make them. They sounded so delicious to me! But alas!!! They were far from vegan, made with eggs and dairy ricotta cheese. So, I decided to veganize them. Naturally, I went straight to Vegan Yum Yum for the crepe recipe, but added a small bit of local honey as well as freshly ground nutmeg to the batter. I made the sweet ricotta recipe from Veganize This! by Jenn Shagrin, used mint from my porch garden, slivered almonds, and a tad bit more local honey.

Oh, hello there. Sweet Ricotta w/ Meyer Lemon Zest, Sauteed Plums, Mint, Slivered Almonds, Local Honey

For the plums, I used a combination of beautiful black, red, and green plums as well as one yellow and red speckled pluot. I should have taken pictures of them because they were gorgeous. In fact, I will try to take more pictures of ingredients before they turn into recipes. Sounds like a good idea. I had found sugar plums at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago, but couldn’t locate them this week, so I went with the others, which were equally as good. Plums are in season now, as well as pluots and other luscious stone fruit. Get to your local farmer’s market and pick some up. My personal favorite are Mirabelle plums, mostly cultivated in France, but I have been lucky enough to get them from local farmers in LA in previous summers. They are a beautiful golden color and are so sweet and juicy. I adore them, so if you happen upon them in LA, please let me know where.

But right now, the only thing you should really be doing is making the crepes from Vegan Yum Yum and adding your own yummy fillings or, veganize your favorite crepe recipe. Or try the recipe from Smitten Kitchen if you’re in the mood for something tasty and sweet.

Plum Crepes w/ "Ricotta" & Local Honey

Strawberry-Basil Cupcakes w/ Lemon Buttercream

Strawberry-Basil Cupcake w/ Lemon Buttercream

Happy Saturday to the world! I’m having a rather lovely time not really getting out of bed this morning! And by bed, I of course mean mattress on the floor. I might even be so bold as to take another lazy cat nap after this new post. Ahhhh, I love when you have a day or some time without work or any obligations to do whatever it is that you want. Like be a lazy ass, as in me right meow. 🙂

I don’t remember where I got the idea for these cupcakes, but at some point I was thinking that strawberry, lemon and basil would make good friends together in some kind of treat. I also love to use herbs in sweets, so I was excited to make these cupcakes. I have made them a few times and fed them to all types of people, including omnivores who could not tell that they were vegan….as omnis often can’t with my cupcakes. I vow to never feed omnivore or herbivore a dry, tasteless cupcake and call it vegan. Afterall, I am vegan and I have eaten dry, tasteless vegan cupcakes….I felt like a crime had been committed against me or something….

Anyhow, please enjoy these very moist, very yummy cupcakes with lots of flavor 🙂

The Never-Dry-Always-Flavorful-Strawberry-Basil-Cupcake-with-Lemon- Buttercream

Ingredients:

1 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 c unbleached granulated cane sugar

1/2 c canola oil

1 tbsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp strawberry extract– I like this one, homemade w/ organic strawberries!

1 tbsp fresh basil, minced

8 oz fresh strawberries, pureed in food processor or crushed–I suppose you could probably use frozen as well

6-12 strawberries for garnish

A little bit of extra basil, chiffonade for garnish

1 recipe lemon buttercream–recipe follows

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Fill your cupcake tin with liners.

Mix the flour, sugar and baking soda together in medium mixing bowl. In separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine oil, vinegar and the extracts. Add the strawberry puree and stir to combine. Create a well in the dry ingredients and then add the wet. Stir to combine, but be careful not to overmix. This batter will be very thick, like a paste almost–so don’t worry, it is supposed to be thick. Add the fresh basil. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tin, filling them about halfway.

Bake for about 30 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let completely before you even think about frosting these bad boys!

Lemon Buttercream

Ingredients:

1/4 c non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening–I like Earth Balance brand

1/4 c Earth Balance buttery spread

1 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar–sifted it if it’s very clumpy

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp lemon extract

2 tbsp coconut milk creamer–I like So Delicious brand

Zest of one small lemon–Meyer lemon would be very nice as well!

Method:

Beat shortening and buttery spread in your Kitchenaid or until fluffy. You can also use a hand mixer or a strong arm 🙂 Add the sugar and continue to beat for a few more minutes. Add extracts, lemon zest and coconut creamer, beat an additional 5 minutes or so until fluffy. If you like a ton of frosting, feel free to double the recipe.

Garnish w/ strawberries and basil.

Northwest Lavender “Crab” Cakes w/ Creamy Lavender Honey Sauce

I Pinch.

Crabs. Crabs have a bad reputation because they look like spiders of the ocean, they pinch and they’re an STD. Well, those are different crabs, but still….

Personally, I have always loved crabs….the kind from the ocean, ha-cha-cha-cha-cha! In my meat-eating days, crab was easily one of my favorite meats. I loved all different species of crab, from soft shell to Alaskan King crab and everything in between. I used to enjoy crab straight out of the shell, in the form of crab cakes, real crab salad etc.

Years ago on a trip to Maryland I ate so much crab that I got sick and swelled up from an allergic reaction. My body was like….srsly….enough with the crab already. Anyhow, that was when I started to eat much less crab. I decided a few years after that event to give them up entirely. My family used to go out to Red Lobster fairly often and I was always disturbed by seeing the crab and lobster tanks. Claws rubber banded….tiny tank….just sitting there waiting to be boiled alive….No thanks Red Lobster, no thanks. I always had a hankering to break into Red Lobster someday and steal them all to set them free in the ocean. Now y’all know who to point the finger at when you hear about it on the news 😉

Okay, moving on.

So, now I am vegan and don’t eat le crabs anymore. But, occasionally I still do miss being able to enjoy the taste of crab. Enter Match brand Crab Without The Meat.

Match Faux Lump Crab Meat

Recently I picked up a package of this wonderful faux crab at Figueroa Produce Market in Highland Park. For those of you in LA, Figgy Produce Market is a FANTASTIC and magical place worthy of your dollar. I don’t say that often, but it’s a very well run business, with nice and accommodating staff/owners and they commonly stock hard to find items like tamarind paste, frozen yuca, and canned jackfruit. They are the only location in Southern California that sells Match products. They carry them in the freezer section and they also sell by weight in the deli.

I decided to give the faux crab a try. The guys at Figgy Produce encouraged me to try it, as they were fans and said it was delicious. I decided that I would do a Northwest Lavender Crab Cake w/ a Creamy Honey Sauce.** This recipe is easy and makes for a satisfying and yummy meal. I served this meal to a few friends and they all seemed to enjoy the flavors, so I thought I would share it with you.

Northwest Lavender “Crab” Cakes w/ Creamy Honey Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 c minced celery, feel free to do this with your food processor’s shredding attachment or by hand

1/4 c minced green onion, feel free to do this with your food processor’s shredding attachment or by hand

1/4 c Vegan Mayo–I love/use Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise

1 tsp Ener-G brand egg replacer or equal amount of potato starch or other egg replacer

1 tsp dry mustard

2 tsp dried lavender–lavender buds create a little flavor explosion in your mouth. If you’d like the flavor a little less like an explosion, grind the lavender in a spice grinder

1/4 tsp unbleached sea salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 c panko bread crumbs–I like Ian’s brand because they make a whole wheat version

1 package Match Crab Without The Meat, defrosted if frozen–or alternatively, you can make a veggie based crab cake from parsnips, carrots, celery, seaweed etc. There is a good veggie based crab cake recipe in “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch”.

2-4 tbsp Earth Balance

Creamy Honey Lavender Sauce–Recipe will follow

Method:

In a medium to large mixing bowl, mix the celery, green onion, Vegenaise, egg replacer, mustard powder, lavender, sea salt and cayenne. Then stir in your faux crab. Mix 1 c of the panko bread crumbs into the mixture. You should now have a mix that you can mold or press together with your hands. If for some reason your mixture is too wet, add more egg replacer and a bit more bread crumbs. Place your remaining bread crumbs in a shallow bowl or on a plate.

Shape the crab mixture into patties. You can decide if you want them bigger or smaller, depending on how many people are going to eat them or whether or not they will be served as an appetizer or a main course. I made about 11 cakes. Press the cakes down into the panko bread crumbs, making sure to get both sides. After you’ve made all of your cakes, store them in the fridge while you make the sauce, set the table or prep your other dishes like salad etc.

When you are ready to make the cakes, heat the Earthy B in a skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Once the Earthy B is melted and your pan is hot, add 4-5 cakes and cook them for a few minutes on each side. The smaller your cakes are, the faster they will cook–the larger the cakes, you’ll need to add a little more time. Use a spatula to give them a peak. If they look golden, flip ’em! If not, give them another minute. Place the cooked cakes on a plate lined with a paper towel. Wipe out your pan and then do the next batch, using the same routine as mentioned above.

Place a dollop of sauce on top of each cake. If you want to be really fancy, cut up some lemon wedges and parsley for garnish. 🙂

Creamy Honey Lavender Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 c Vegenaise

1/4 c vegan sour cream–I use Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream

1/4 c lavender honey, or plain honey. If you are a very strict vegan and you do not eat honey, sub agave or brown rice syrup

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp dried lavender

unbleached sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional: 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Method:

In a small bowl, whisk everything together. Then add your salt and pepper to taste and the cilantro if you’re using it.

Northwest Lavender "Crab" Cakes w/ Creamy Honey Sauce

I served my cakes w/ a simple side salad of mixed mesclun greens, and homemade croutons.

**I do eat honey! And…da da daaaaa, I still consider myself a vegan. I try to avoid honey when I don’t know or can’t find out what the source of the honey is. I will have to do a separate blog post on this subject, but bees are very important to me, all humans and Earth’s ecosystem and I try my very hardest to support and protect our little pollinators whenever possible. For me, this includes buying humane, unheated, locally sourced honey from bee keepers who deeply care about what they do and act as guardians to these little wonders that literally make our Earth beautiful and fruitful. 🙂 Buzz Buzz!