Happy Halloween and End Of MoFo. I started out strong and then lost momentum, but what can I say? Posting everyday is pretty challenging. I actually haven’t even made much in the past couple of weeks, but I do have a nice recipe and post lined up for that mock duck I mentioned.
But first, some goodies. I suppose I must have been in the mood for biscuits as I decided to make a biscuit topped pot pie (or potpie?) for dinner and then a maple kissed biscuit topped cobbler for dessert. I have to say that adding herbs to any potpie crust is a genius idea and everyone should be doing it. It brings such a delicious and added flavor to the crust or topping.
I added some Upton’s Naturals Italian Style Seitan to this pie and really enjoyed it. I prefer to make my own seitan at home, but there are those times when I just don’t feel like it. I had heard good things about Upton’s, so I thought I would buy some and give it a try. I say it was pretty delicious. The texture seemed a little strange when I first took it out of the package…I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be one large piece or ground. It seemed sort of congealed from being vacuum packed, like those disgusting cans of cranberry that come out of the can in the shape of a can. Ha, poor Upton’s, I’m making it sound gross! It was actually quite good and did not have a strange texture in the potpie. It was meaty and spiced well and fit nicely into this dish. If I am ever too lazy to make my own seitan again in the future, I would def buy Upton’s again.
I wish I had some more potpie right now. Or biscuits. I love biscuits. Hey, speaking of biscuits, here is the cobbler I made:
This was a great cobbler. Totally loved it. The recipe inspiration comes from the dear Spork Sisters, Heather & Jenny. The combination of wild blueberries and fresh cranberries was perfection. This cobbler has hints of maple, vanilla & fresh citrus. The delicious spelt biscuit topping really brings this dessert together. I only wish that I had added an additional half recipe or just doubled it so I could have more biscuit topping. Sweet maple spelt biscuit filled with hopes and dreams, I love you.
Alright. I’m giving myself biscuit brain and I need to quit. The mock duck will be making an appearance this week and there is some homemade white chocolate setting up in the fridge. There may even be more blondies and maybe even a few tangerine inspired recipes as the tangerine tree is blowing up with fruits like there’s no tomorrow.
Last night while I was half asleep, I got inspired to make something delicious. It involves making my own cultured vegan cheeze, so I won’t be able to post about it for a few days. I don’t want to give too much away, but it also involves the creepy, yet delicious, mock dock and strawberries. Okay, that’s all I’m saying. Check back later this week to see my creation.
In the meantime, it was my awesome brother Shaun’s birthday last Friday. We decided to celebrate the following day at The Elephant Bar. While chain restaurants are not my fav, The Elephant Bar does have a couple of options that can be made vegan. They have lots of veggies and rice and a few sauces that are vegan. Anyhow, I typically don’t take photos of my meals when I eat out, unless they are amazing. And while I’m totally grateful to The Elephant Bar for providing me with a vegan meal, it really wasn’t worth sharing photos with y’all.
But, you know what is worth sharing photos of? BIRTHDAY CAKE! I asked my brother what kind of cake he’d like this year and he asked for chocolate (his classic fav) or a spice cake, like carrot without the carrots, raisins etc. I made him a chocolate cake last year and I didn’t want to do the exact same recipe again. Then, one of the best and most amazing bakers and bloggers on Earth, Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes solved all of my problems. She posted a recipe for Chocolate Punkin Ale Cupcakes. If you read my Pumpkin Ale Round-Up post, then you already know my feelings on Dogfish Head‘s Punkin Ale. It’s a superior beer for sure. As I read through the recipe, it just sounded perfect. It was a combination of chocolate and spice, a marriage of the two flavors my brother asked for. Ashlae’s recipes are pretty reliably delicious, so I went ahead and did my take on her recipe.
I made very few changes and split the batter into two cake pans. In all honesty, I should have doubled the recipe for a real layer cake, but just took the fast way out and split the batter. I also opted to put a layer of sugar free chocolate agave icing in the center, rather than the white pumpkin pie spiced frosting that I used for the outside of the cake. I think in the end, the fudgey chocolate for the middle layer of frosting was a nice choice. I was complimented on that in particular. I guess it broke up the cake and texture nicely, and was a nice change from the spiced frosting, which everyone also loved, they like variety!–and I did use Ashlae’s exact recipe for white spiced frosting. Trust me when I say that it’s incredible. The addition of that small bit of flour is genius and the sweetness is perfect. It’s not overwhelmingly sugary….like, you can taste the flavors in it and in the cake instead of just tasting, well…sugar. The cake was a great success. Everyone enjoyed the cake and the entire thing was eaten. I received so many “I can’t believe it’s vegan” from people, even our waitress who I cut a piece for, so she could have some on her break. That’s when you know you’ve done good. Thank you to Ashlae. Her recipes continue to inspire me in so many ways. She is a creative and talented baker and I truly learn a lot from her blog and recipes.
I need to get myself into a cake decorating class to make things look nicer! Also, just as a note, the orange frosting is the same white spiced frosting, just has a bit of all natural plant based food coloring in it.
Today I wanted to do a quick post dedicated to the amazing Spork Sisters. If you haven’t already purchased their awesome book, Spork-Fed or at least gotten a membership to Spork Online, well you need to get on top of it. I absolutely adore Heather and Jenny. I am lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, which is where Heather and Jenny teach their amazing vegan cooking classes. I started taking classes last October and quickly fell in love. Not only are Heather and Jenny the best, but I have also met a lot of other fabulous people in the classes too.
Anyhow, here are some Spork recipes that I’ve made at home. Some are in the book, others on Spork Online and a couple from class. One of the many great things about Heather and Jenny’s recipes is that they’re deliciously gourmet, but designed for cooks of all different skill levels, so they are very accessible. Anyhow, again, I totes love them both so I want everyone else to love them too.
Sorry for the blurry photo. I hate when that happens.
One of the first few classes I took with Heather and Jenny was a gluten free Thanksgiving class. That class had a really cool recipe for a GF Cranberry Cornbread. While the GF version was amazingly tasty, I decided to make my own recipe for sweet cornbread and just add cranberries. I love incorporating GF foods, but since I don’t have any allergic or digestive issues with gluten, sometimes I just opt to go for gluten. I have to thank Heather and Jenny though for this delicious idea.
Yep. You read that right. Hot wangs! I don’t know, but I just like to say wangs instead of wings. I learned how to create this recipe in class. Because of time restrictions, Heather and Jenny went ahead and made the seitan ahead of time. When I went to create it at home, I used my own recipe for chik’n seitan. Luckily, this recipe is included in the new book and includes the recipe for chik’n style seitan. Yay!
That’s it for now. I hope everyone will give Spork-Fed and/or Spork Online a try!
Earlier this year, I went on a hike with a group of strangers and foraged for wild foods. It was a group activity that I discovered on Meetup.com and decided to go. It was in Sylmar in this terribly difficult to find equestrian area. It’s technically a park I think, but there are a ton of people who ride horses there and every now and again there seems to be some sort of small horsing event.
The hike was led by this interesting Frenchman with a pretty long knife. He taught us how to find:
Wild Radishes & Radish Blossoms
Wild Mustard Greens & Mustard Flowers
Elderflowers & Elderberries (later in the season)
Cattails (parts of which are edible)
Hemlock (to avoid)
Willow (for aspirin/pain relief tea)
Horehound (you can make a cough drop from this)
So we walked around for a few hours picking this stuff. You have to have gloves or some kind of protection for your hands before touching stinging nettles. I never even knew they were edible, but turns out they are really delicious after they’ve been cooked. You can collect as much of anything as you want and the Frenchman, and all those willing, go sit down and prepare and eat some of this stuff after the hike. I sampled some Stinging Nettle Pesto, Nettle & Potato soup, Pickled Cattail and various other little treats. I also got a big basket full of different wild goodies.
When I got home, I had no idea what to do with them. I had seen a recipe on Veganize It…Don’t Criticize it for a pizza with mushrooms and edible flowers. I decided to do a take on that pizza and make something special. I used an herb infused dough for the crust rather than Jenn’s crust recipe, but went ahead with her San Marzano Port Wine Tomato Sauce and vegan Mascarpone recipe. I used cremini mushrooms, as I couldn’t find chanterelles or any other wild mushrooms at Whole Foods–& there wasn’t a suitable farmer’s market with a good mushroom guy for a couple of days. I topped off the pie with wild radish pods, radish blossoms and wild mustard flowers. All three have a fresh, beautiful, yet subtly spicy flavor. They are full of awesome.
Someone needs to work on their circle making abilities! For some reason I am horrible at shaping things. Sigh. What is the deal with that? Answering my own question, I guess it’s because I need to take a little more time when I do things. But when you’ve been cooking for hours because you insist on making everything from scratch, when you get to the assembly part, you have ants in your pants. You know that’s the last step before the oven and then straight into your mouth (burns aside). I just need that last bit of patience. Anyhow, I really loved this pizza. It had some amazing flavors happening and I am a huge fan of Jenn’s sauce recipe.
On a semi-related note, one of my other favorite cheese-less pizzas are these:
I would post the recipe for the Creme Fraiche (la la la, ho ho hoooo fraiche!), but who knows where on my computer that is?! If you want to do something similar, make a tofu ricotta and add garlic and fresh oregano. The crust and toppings are super easy. A little repetitive with both leeks and onions, so feel free to leave out the onion if you prefer. Tempeh bacon and radicchio love one another ( I have a risotto recipe involving those two for you all soon) and these are pretty good little pizzas.
And speaking even more on cheese-less pizzas I can’t forget this amazing lil gem from Chef Chloe. I have a Garlic-White Bean Dip recipe remarkably similar to hers, which is so, so, sooooo good. This whole pizza is soooo good! The only changes I make are using homemade whole wheat crust and my own dip recipe. Do try and get the Honeycrisp apples and don’t sub them out for another kind. Honeycrisp apples taste so good they could have only been placed here on Earth by a magical apple god.
Firstly, I have to say how awesome Your Vegan Girlfriend is. I was recently reading the Apple Recipe Round Up post and discovered a link to this recipe for Apple-Walnut Risotto, a veganized version of this Jamie Oliver dish. I read through both recipes and loved the idea. The veggie version looked great, but I wanted to make a couple of changes. I decided to use a green and a red apple. I’ll be honest and admit that I just wanted one of each color because it looked pretty. I also decided to saute my walnuts in a little bit of Earth Balance and add my last remaining bit of Edam style Cheezly. I swapped out veggie stock for No-Chicken Broth–which is just a different style of veggie stock. I opted to use marjoram from my garden, as I so rarely use that herb fresh. So, all around I didn’t really make too many changes. I ended up really loving this recipe. It was creamy, but fresh from the marjoram and tasted pretty different from any risotto I’ve had before. Really great recipe. So glad I found it in the Apple Recipe Round Up.
I also recently made these awesome Pumpkin Scones from Oh, Ladycakes. I used my own recipe for cinnamon-maple icing for drizzle. I LOVE this recipe. I will definitely be making these again and again. Vegan and omnivore approved, they were delicious.
And then there were these Pink Peppercorn Chocolate Cupcakes. This is a work in progress, but I will add a recipe soon. The cake portion was good. You could taste the pepper and I think the spice is right. They were a good flavor pair, albeit a little unusual. I want to maybe think of a way to make the chocolate a little richer in, you know, chocolately-ness. Maybe use a portion of black cocoa as well regular. Or, perhaps, make some sort of rich chocolate filling. I also decided to do an agave icing, and I’m thinking whether or not a ganache or buttercream would have been a better fit. This was a great and unique cupcake, but I just want to tweak it a little to make it perfect. 🙂
And now on to a recipe! I made this Crunchy, Cheezey Walnut Risotto last year. It was a really rich and filling risotto. It is rather decadent, but it a really delicious way. It would pair nicely with a fresh green salad and I think it’s a perfectly warming, filling fall recipe.
Heat the olive oil with 2 tbsp of the Earth Balance in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften and turn golden. Reduce the heat a bit and add the arborio rice and mix it in a bit to get it coated in the earthy B/oil/onion. Cook the rice for a few minutes until it starts to look translucent around the edges. Add the broth gradually, about a ladleful at a time. Return the heat to medium. Keep stirring the risotto until all of the stock absorbs. Keeping adding broth by the ladleful and stirring for about 20 minutes or until all of the broth is gone. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to low and prepare the walnuts. Melt 2 tbsp of the Earth Balance in a skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toss for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to brown.
Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining Earth Balance, the Daiya, the vegan mascarpone and Dr. Cow. Toss 3/4 of the walnuts into the risotto as well. Reserve the remaining walnuts to garnish the top of the risotto.
Hey Fall, slow down. I can’t believe we’re already more than half way through October. And I sure hope it cools down here soon and we have some fall weather. The sweaters in my closet are getting antsy.
Anyhow, no recipe today. Just some of the fall themed goodies I’ve been eating lately, with the air conditioning on trying to pretend that it’s actually cool out.
This is an edited version of a stuffing recipe in the current issue of Vegetarian Times. I couldn’t find fresh chestnuts, so I used the kind that come in a jar. Gasp. It was weird. Def not as good as freshly roasted chestnuts, but not bad. The stuffing was good, but nothing to get too excited over. It tastes remarkably similar to that kind of stuffing that comes from a box or bag even though I used fresh ingredients, other than the chestnuts. I know there are people out there who love the box stuff, so if you’re one of them, this is a good recipe for you! All of the taste, none of the preservatives.
I will have to post the recipe for these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies sometime soon. They turned out very well, good flavor and texture. They will be showing up on my table for years to come. I was inspired by these Sweet Potato Blondies that I made last year:
This recipe was from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, so if you have that book, you should give this recipe a try. It’s super easy and these blondies are very tasty. Do I maybe, possibly, sort of like my new Pumpkin Chocolate Chip ones better? Perhaps….perhaps.
And what would fall be without a galette? Ashlae from over at Oh, Ladycakes seems to share my love of galettes, so I decided to make her recipe for a yummy looking Pumpkin Cream Cheese Galette. I used my own crust recipe, but will def have to give hers a try sometime in the future. I can never have too many pastry crust recipes in my repertoire. I also let my topping get too warm, so it sorta melted, but it still tasted delicious and didn’t affect the taste or texture of the galette.
More fall and winter treats to come soon. Butternut Squash Lasagna is happening right now. I will report back soon. 🙂
Pumpkin ale. Some hate it, some wait all year for it. I’m in the latter group. Each year I look forward to having my old favorites and seeing if there are any new brews to try out. Being a person who loves pumpkin and loves beer, it’s really a terrific match for me. I just wanted to share the beers I’ve tried and which were my favorites.
Okay. Beer now!
1. Harvest Moon (aka Blue Moon): Pumpkin Ale
Blue Moon is part of the Coors family and the great thing about this beer is that you can pretty much find it every where. While I’m not a huge fan of Coors, Blue Moon makes decent tasting, affordably priced beer. It won’t be the best you ever had, but I’d venture to say it’s way better than anything else that Coors brews. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not too pronounced. Another bonus is that supposedly all beers brewed by Coors are vegan friendly ,(with the exception of Honey Moon) aka no isinglass or other animal parts hiding in the beer.
2. Buffalo Bills Brewery: Pumpkin Ale
Here is another pumpkin ale that is pretty accessible. You can find Buffalo Bills pretty much anywhere this time of year. It’s affordably priced and like Blue Moon, pretty decent, but not anything great or spectacular. Buffalo Bills and Blue Moon are both great autumn/winter party beers. Flavors are not overly complex, and drink-a-bility is high.
3. Indian Wells Brewing Co: Spicy Pumpkin Ale
This was once my favorite pumpkin ale. It’s cheap, but has a slightly more complex flavor than Blue Moon or Buffalo Bills in my opinion. You can taste some of the spices that its been brewed with as well as the pumpkin which I really liked when I first tried it. It was a nice step away from the others I had tried at the time. Unfortunately, I have now tried so many more pumpkin ales that in comparison, this one isn’t the best anymore. I still like it though, and I’d still buy it, you know, for old time’s sake.
4. Kennebunkport: Pumpkin Ale
Another sort of mild beer. I find this one similar to the Blue Moon and Buffalo Bills. I don’t think it has quite as much flavor as the Spicy Pumpkin Ale, but isn’t terrible. When I drank this beer last year, I didn’t really get that strong of a pumpkin flavor with it. Maybe it was just the batch I drank, who knows? This is another affordable beer and quite easy to drink. It doesn’t taste as good as it warms to room temp, so make sure to drink this one cold and finish it cold.
5. Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale
So, first things first and unfortunately, this beer is NOT vegan. This brewery uses isinglass, a fact that I found out after I had consumed this beer last year. Yuck. I don’t always remember to check on the vegan-ness of my booze, so this one slipped past me. It was, on the other, hand, very tasty. Fuller body than the others and sweet caramel, pumpkiny flavor. I think it was sort of like pumpkin pie and beer got together. There are beer lovers out there cringing, but whatev. Anyhow, I will not be trying this beer again until this brewery stops using isinglass. Most of the BEST beers are not processed with isinglass, so we should basically all tell this brewery to stop that. Stop that right now!
7. BJ’s Brewhouse: Pumpkin Ale
Oh BJ’s. If you’re not familiar with BJ’s, you guys should get to know each other. BJ’s is a chain restaurant, some of which have in house breweries, others don’t. They specialize in this bready delicious pizza goodness, which, after some negotiating with waitstaff can easily be made vegan with no cheese. The dough is vegan, but you have to request that you don’t want cheese and that they use olive oil on your crust and pan rather than butter. Typically, they are pretty happy to oblige. Most of the beers are also vegan friendly, so even if you’re not hungry, BJ’s is still a decent place to go for a beer. Anyhow, BJ’s has a pumpkin ale that they introduce every fall. I generally only wind up at BJ’s with my family, but if we happen to be there in the fall, I always order the pumpkin beer. It’s mild, but still delicious. Maybe it’s because I’m always drinking it with a cheese-less veggie pizza (which is far more delicious than it sounds) but I like this brew a lot.
8. Dogfish Head: Punkin Ale
First things first, Dogfish Head is an outstanding brewery. If you’ve ever seen the documentary “Beer Wars” you can get a great look inside Dogfish Head and it will make you want to try all of their beers. Every beer I’ve tried from this brewery is great. I have even given Punkin Ale to the most skeptical guys who hate pumpkin or “flavored” beer and most of them end up being really impressed by this one. Full of body and luscious flavor, this pumpkin beer will become a quick favorite. Out here in SoCal, it runs about $10 for a 4 pack, so the price is pretty steep. I have to say that it’s worth it though, to grab a pack and share with a friend….or you know, have a good time by yourself. I also encourage you to try many of the other beers brewed by Dogfish Head. They are really something special. I’ve got a special bottle of Sah’tea in the fridge brewed with chai and juniper berries that I can’t wait to try. Their Midas Touch beer is also something to write home about (does contain honey) but it’s 12% alcohol and will rock your socks.
9. New Belgium Brewing Lips of Faith Series: Kick
This is one of the new brews that I picked up this year. I was perusing the beer selection at my local Whole Foods….which is outstanding btw and I came upon this stuff. I picked up the bottle to read: 75% Ale brewed with Pumpkin & Cranberry Juice, 25% Ale Aged in Wooden Barrels. What?!?! That sounds cray cray and in my cart it went! I knew by that description that this was something I had to try. I opened the bottle and smelled the beer first. I always smell my beer before I taste it. I have to say that at first sniff, I totally thought it smelled like vinegar and then I felt scared to try it. Haha, well, not scared, but was hoping I wasn’t going to pour myself a glass of vinegar beer. Upon smelling it some more, I realized that it was just the combination of the cranberry juice and fermented beer. I poured myself a glass and this beer was some sort of pinkish amber. Those lil cranberries makin’ this beer all kinds of special! I gave it a taste and didn’t know what to think at first. It was sharp, almost tart–from that cranberry, and then the beer flavor came after. All in all, I have to say I enjoyed it. The pumpkin and cranberry worked together. It was very different from all of the other beers on this list so far and …if you haven’t noticed from this blog, I def enjoy unique flavors and flavor combinations. I often get bored of the same flavor combinations used over and over again, which happens a lot, especially in the vegan world. So, I appreciate this beer. It had a complex flavor and body, albeit a little different from the norm, but still rather good. I had a friend also try some and she rather liked it as well. A win for New Belgium.
10. Michelob: Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale
I forgot to add this beer on this original post, so I’m adding it now. I totally forgot all about this beer, because unfortunately, it’s not the greatest. I remember it being rather flat and not very flavorful. I’ve never really been too into Michelob, so I’m not surprised this beer isn’t my fav. If you only have a choice over this one and the Harvest Moon, go for the Harvest Moon.
11. Bootlegger’s Brewery: Pumpkin Ale
Last, but certainly not least, is the seasonal pumpkin ale from Bootlegger’s Brewery. Bootlegger’s is located here in SoCal, in the wonderful city of Fullerton. I’ve not yet had an opportunity to visit the actual brewery, but I have tried several bottles of their beer sold in local stores and I’m a fan for sure. I, again, found myself transfixed in the beer aisle of Whole Foods. Every store has such a varied and incredible selection that you could stand there for an hour examining the different beers and still not know which one you want. They all sound so good and many of them, like Bootlegger’s are local craft brews. But anyway, on to the pumpkin ale. I LOVED this beer. So far, this and Dogfish Head are my top 2 picks for best pumpkin ale. First sip of this beer and you could really taste the pumpkin and molasses. I really loved that. The flavor was so exceptionally good that I just wanted to sit and savor it. It made me want to bundle up and go outside and see leaves change color and watch my brothers play a game of football. Then I remembered that I live in LA and it’s warm here and we have no colorful leaves and I only have one brother. What I’m trying to say is that this beer spoke fall to me. I enjoyed it with a friend who felt the same. I now want to go visit Bootlegger’s in the next week or two, to see if they will sell me a growler of this stuff. Not sure if that’s a possibility, as many breweries don’t do growlers of their seasonal beers, but we’ll see. If not, I’m happy to sit or stand in the tasting room or where ever and just enjoy a pint from the tap.
So there you have it. That’s my Southern California pumpkin beer round-up. If you know of any other pumpkin beers available in the SoCal region that are not on the list, send the name of the beer and brewery my way so I can give them a try! 🙂