Black Garlic Brownies w/ Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Topping & Kabobs.

Black garlic; a fine ingredient for brownies. No seriously. It’s made by fermenting regular garlic. It’s sweet and savory at the same time and totally delicious. To make these brownies, add 1 head of smashed black garlic to your mix and bake as usual. Top them with this simple tofu-cream cheese based puree and it’s heaven in your mouth. I’d post my brownie recipe, but it’s really not that different the one in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I just use slightly different measurements and a brown rice flour/all purpose flour blend and no starch. Well, so it’s a little different, but really, we don’t need another vegan brownie recipe. Just spice up your favorite recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Swirl

Ingredients:

1/4 container Galaxy Foods cream cheese

1/2 box firm or extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu brand)

2 tbsp agave nectar or unbleached cane sugar

1 vanilla bean, scraped

pinch sea salt

Method: Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

Dollop or swirl into brownie batter and bake as usual!

I also decided to start breaking in my tabletop grill for the summer. Most people have probably been grilling for over a month now, but I hadn’t felt inspired. I saw these kabobs on an episode of Giada at Home and I thought I’d give them a try. I followed the recipe except used Field Roast Apple Sage sausages. The Italian flavor would have worked too. Anyhow, they are super simple to put together and the lemon reaaaallllyyy makes them. They’re just a little different than standard kabobs and they’re very tasty.

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White Chocolate Pistachio Cookie Bars w/ Strawberry-Balsamic Topping.

It’s obvious by now. I could spend the rest of my days creating vegan versions of Eat the Love recipes. It’s like….my favorite. My absolute favorite. I know this may seem strange, but I know I have a similar palate to certain omnivores. It’s strange, because they eat so much differently than I do. I just know that Irvin’s combinations really strike a chord in me. Not only do they inspire me, but some of my vegan versions of his treats are the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. My own recipe creations are always and ever evolving and really hope to be as inspired and creative as Irvin is someday. I feel the same way about Geoffrey Zakarian and less so about Giada, but many of her recipes translate into some damn fine veganese cuisine.

But on to the recipe. These were originally blondies on Irvin’s site, but the vegan version most definitely translates more to a cookie bar than a blondie…meaning, instead of being chewy, or slightly cakey or of general brownie/blondie texture, this is more of a cookie dough that you take and bake into a huge delicious square instead of round flat circles. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

White Chocolate Pistachio Cookie Bars w/ Strawberry Balsamic Topping

Adapted from Eat the Love

Ingredients:

1/2 c vegan white chocolate chips

3/4 c Earth Balance

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer, dry

3/4 c brown sugar

3/4 c unbleached cane sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

2 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 pistachio meal (shell pistachios and make this in a food processor–be careful not to blend to long or you will get paste)

For the topping:

1 c strawberries, chopped

1 tbsp unbleached cane sugar

1 tsp tapioca starch

3 tsp balsamic vinegar, divded.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square pan. Line with parchment paper.

Place the Earth Balance, olive oil, and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until light and fluffy and the color of cinnamon sugar. Add the egg replacer, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add vanilla extract. Add the salt and beat to incorporate. Add the flour and pistachio meal, mix to incorporate. The dough may seem just a bit dry, that is okay. Press firmly into your pan.

Make the topping by adding all ingredients except 1 tsp of balsamic to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries start to release their juices and the mixtures thickens slightly. Remove from heat and then stir in your reserved 1 tsp of balsamic. Use a rubber spatula to spread this topping over the cookie bars. Do not try to swirl it in, the cookie bars will be more of a dough than a batter, so swirling is not really possible here. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let bars cool before slicing them.

M&M Peach Ranch + Blueberry-Cherry Red Wine Pie.

The title of this post is deceiving. I went to M&M Peach Ranch to pick, what turned out to be, the BEST Bing cherries ever. It was a lovely day with some lovely friends. M&M Peach Ranch does, of course, grow peaches as well, but they are late season peaches typically ripe in September. I will be back for those. 😉

My friend Michelle enjoying a Bing. 🙂 Photo by Danielle of Look Pretty.
Getting my Bing on. Photo by Danielle of Look Pretty.

It was a great and beautiful cherry picking experience. The cherries were ripe as could be, organic and $4 per lb which is pretty cheap for cherries in Southern California, even conventional cherries. The farmers were extremely nice and so helpful. I am looking forward to going back for some yummy peaches.

I ended up doing 3 things with my cherries:

1. I made Brandied Cherries with some of my Bings and Ranier cherries. (results to come!)

2. I made the Blueberry-Cherry Red Wine Pie from Eat the Love. (to make vegan, just sub out butter for Earth Balance, reduce salt in crust, and add a bit more liquid than called for–for the dough. Really easy! I used Green Bridge Organic Petite Sirah for the red, and as usual, subbed the cornstarch out for arrowroot.

3. I ATE SOOOO MANY.

Pie cooling on a windowsill. It happens in real life!
Nevermind my funky lattice. Not really sure what was going on in my mind while I was doing it.
Looks a lil flat, but I assure it was filled with the most fantastic berry filling ever.

Tomato & Corn Pie.

This is not a new recipe. I have seen it floating around the interwebs for a while. It’s because it’s full of awesome. The original, from Smitten Kitchen is not vegan, but with some very simple edits can be made dairy free in a snap. This savory pie tastes like summer. If you’re into summer and some of the wonders that summer brings (corn and tomatoes) then you will love this pie.

I’m going to re-post the recipe from Smitten Kitchen with the vegan edits—

Tomato and Corn Pie

The Vegan Version.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided *reduce salt for the crust to 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. Since Earth Balance contains salt already, you don’t need as much.
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter Earth Balance, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk almond milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise Vegenaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups organic non-gmo corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand (my preference) or lightly puréed in a food processor  I opted to leave my corn whole and it worked out just fine!, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided (skipped this, no harm was done)***I also omitted the basil when I made the pie
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar Daiya Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided **you can buy the pre-packaged shreds, or you can buy a whole block and grate it yourself. I haven’t attempted to grate the new wedges yet, but I bet they will grate just fine if you get them cold enough.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold Earthy B. (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add almond milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter (my choice) or between two sheets of plastic wrap (the recipe’s suggestion, but I imagined it would annoyingly stick to the plastic) into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it or, if you’re using the plastic warp method, remove top sheet of plastic wrap, then lift dough using bottom sheet of plastic wrap and invert into pie plate. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together Vegenaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired (see Notes above recipe), gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated Daiya cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon Vegenaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted Earth Balance (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Meyer Lemon Cake for Mom.

My mom requested lemon for her birthday cake flavor, so I made this cake.

Plum Tarragon Crisp.

I love plums. Ripe delicious plums that is. Unripe plums can kindly stay out of my life and mouth until they are ready. I fell in love with plums as a kid. We always used to take them to the beach. Along with p.b. & j sandwiches, Twinkies, and black cherry Shasta….all delicious beach foods.

The farmer’s market is bursting with plums, so I bought a couple of pounds along with some fresh tarragon and made a crisp.

Plum Tarragon Crisp

Ingredients:

2 lbs plums, chopped

1/2 c golden brown mascobado sugar

1 tbsp + 1 tsp arrowroot

1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced

pinch cinnamon

juice of one tangerine

3/4 c oats

3/4 c unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 c pistachio meal or chopped pistachios

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c unbleached cane sugar

heaping 1/3 c So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt

1/3 c melted Earth Balance

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss plums with all ingredients listed up to the tangerine juice. Toss the plums well and pour them into an 8″ baking pan of your choice.

For the topping, combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the Earthy B and coconut milk yogurt and stir to combine. Distribute the topping evenly over the plums. Bake about 25 minutes until filling is bubbling. Non-dairy ice cream would be a good addition 🙂

Heywood Grilled Cheese Shoppe.

I miss living in Echo Park. I moved from there to an area in LA called Franklin Village. While it’s super cool that you can see the “wood” of the Hollywood sign from the backyard, I miss my old stomping grounds. Something about the eastside is just….I don’t know how to explain it….I just miss it.

I still go over to my old neighborhood for work. I have been passing by Heywood Grilled Cheese Shoppe in Silverlake for at least a few months now. I could see from their sign that they were a grilled cheese shop. I remember thinking to myself that they had a great concept with that. People love grilled cheese! It’s a classic comfort food combining everyone’s favorite things; bread, butter and cheese. And then my heart sinks a little because I don’t eat butter or cheese. Boo.

But I booed too soon. It suddenly occurred to me while driving by that I live Los Angeles…where many places that offer meat and cheese will also cater to vegans. Low and behold I check their menu and YAY. They totally have Daiya and therefore have several different sandwich options for vegans. Excited and full of joy, I decided to place a lunch order to pick up while visiting Angelino Heights for work. I ordered the “Bill Clinton’s Epiphany” straight from the menu. It has “vegan cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers and avocado melted into a country white bread”. While I don’t normally eat white bread, I splurged on it and couldn’t be happier that I did. Absolutely freaking deliciously nomtastic. Say that five times fast. The guy who was working was also very kind, friendly and accommodating. They made my grilled cheese as quickly as possible (Daiya takes a lil minute to get really melty). All of the yummy sammies come with a fresh side salad, and a tomato dipper–this is like a tiny cup of tomato soup to dip your sandwich into. Brilliant. They top it with cheese, but without even asking the guy made sure he topped mine with vegan cheese. I love him. I love Heywood. Go to there right now and order some of their fantastic grilled cheese!

Excuse the car shot, I had to eat on the go 🙂
The best close-up I could get of the delicious.

Heywood Grilled Cheese Shoppe

3337 1/2 W Sunset Blvd (on the corner of Sunset & Micheltorena in Silverlake)
Los Angeles, CA 90026

inquiries@heywoodgrilledcheese.com

They have no listed phone number–their only detriment in my opinion. I would have preferred to call in my order so they could have had it ready for me, but regardless I will be back for many more yummy sandwiches! 🙂