Sunday, May 31, 2009

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is coming to Brooklyn!

That's right, we're participating in Compassion for Animals' bake sale on June 21 AND 28, with the profits going to Farm Sanctuary and Sea Shepherd.

We'll be hanging out at the Open Source Gallery, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with loads of vegan treats including some gluten free, low fat, low sugar, kosher, soy and nut-free options.

We'll have some free samples on hand for those who doubt the power of vegan baking, as well as some seating, music and drinks available, so come for the cookies but stay for the good times.

The Open Source Gallery is located at 251 17th Street, right off of 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, just one block east of the Prospect Avenue M/R station and convenient from the B63 bus.

More details will be posted soon, so watch this space!

PS: We hope to be up and running around 11 AM and will be around until we've sold everything!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Month of 1000 Birthdays

Well, just five, really. But they were all mine! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!



Aaaaanyway...Sunday, May 10, was my birthday, but I've been fortunate enough to have it acknowledged five times this month. All with awesome edibles.

The first time was my office birthday party on the seventh. Since I like baking and finding vegan cake in midtown Manhattan is kind of a pain in the ass, I make my own birthday cake every year and my boss reimburses me $20 for it. This year, I made a giant chocolate mint cupcake (please note the phone in the background for scale):

I tripled the Chocolate Mint Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and covered it with mint icing, Quick Melty Ganache and chocolate mint lentils. It was dangerously good. The mint makes the cake seem lighter than regular chocolate cake, and this cake pan kind of keeps you from going overboard with the icing, so if you're not careful, you can just keep eating this cake until suddenly your platter is empty and you've gained twenty pounds. Twenty tasty, tasty pounds. If you haven't tried this recipe yet (and like mint), please do. But proceed with caution.

The absolute best part of making the chocolate mint cake is...well...did you ever buy the mint Girl Scout cookies? Do you remember the aroma that would waft out and hit you in the face when you opened the box? Well, when you're making this cake, your ENTIRE KITCHEN SMELLS LIKE MINT GIRL SCOUT COOKIE WAFTINGS! It's an amazing thing. If you have a really tiny apartment, you can probably hotbox yourself in minty goodness. Awesome.

In case you're wondering, I made it using this cake pan, which was a gift from the same awesome people who gave me the boat cake pan. I guess they kind of know me pretty well. If you want to see how the cake assembly works, just browse backward from here.

Then, the Tofu Takedown was on my actual birthday. Obviously, I celebrated with lots of cannoli. Then we moved the party to Curly's Lunch, followed by Lula's Sweet Apothecary, where I got carrot cake ice cream (in a sugar cone!!) which tasted like the creamiest pumpkin pie ever. It was difficult to keep my pants on (especially since I was wearing a dress).

May 16 was mostly a celebration for other people, but I received my share of birthday wishes and brought the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars from Vegan With a Vengeance. They're definitely one of my favorite things and only take about an hour to make, which is pretty awesome. I didn't take any pictures this time, but they looked just like the ones I made for Election Day.

My family and I celebrated my birthday, Mother's Day and my mother's birthday (the 8th) on the 17th because I was busy taking down tofu on the 10th. I tried to make a cake out of the Brooklyn vs. Boston Cream Pie recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but kind of failed:

Pastry creme is just not what to use when trying to stick layers together. I should have known that from my last pastry creme debacle, but no one ever said I was a fast learner. I spent a good part of my afternoon cleaning ganache and pastry creme off the door of my refrigerator. I will not tell you whether or not I licked the fridge.

Lastly, my friends and I celebrated my birthday on the 24th in Philadelphia. Thanks to an awesome friend who did all sorts of veganny research, we ate at Basic Four Vegetarian Snack Bar and New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant. At Basic Four, I had the best freaking tofu scramble I've ever eaten that I didn't make myself. Their potatoes are really good too. Most importantly, there was vegan Philly cheesesteak. I don't have words for how good this was, so just eat it with your eyes:

Please note that the picture does not do it justice.

New Harmony was a vegan Chinese buffet of awesomeness. Even the tea, orange slices and pineapple chunks were better than most. I gave faux shrimp another try (the first time I tried it, it tasted like fish - BLECH!) and even liked that.

Another friend brought Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes from VCTOTW. They're always wonderful and were a great pick-me-up between finding twenty (yes, TWENTY) geocaches and visiting The Mutter Museum, which is more than slightly awesome.

If you're reading this, good job with the vegan food, Philadelphia! I want to walk in your subway tunnels and eat many of your sandwiches!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Please Note:

This post may be slightly blithering.


AND IT'S GOT MY NAME IN (spelled correctly!)!



I don't make commission off of it, I swear. It's just really fucking good. I have access to most of these recipes online and I'm STILL excited to have it in hand. And I'd sell my little brother for some carmelized onion quiche right now, but I'm only supposed to cook tester recipes for Isa and Terry's upcoming books right now. At least that's what I've been telling myself until this fabulous book showed up. So many pretty pictures!

This is my advice to YOU for free. No charge. Gratis: Get this book and make some quiche, lemon poppy seed muffins, beer battered tofu, and pain au chocolat. You're welcome.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Get up with the get down

Or the Takedown. Whatever.

Last Sunday, May 10, was the first ever Tofu Takedown! Presented by Matt Timms, of Chili Takedown fame, at the Highline Ballroom, the Tofu Takedown was a chance for people to compete to the death for the honor of the cherished soy product.

Or something.

I entered the competition with vegan cannoli, not so much because I wanted to compete, but because I wanted to participate. I'd never done anything like this before, so I knew winning wasn't an option. However, feeding a couple hundred people cannoli was. Despite the preparation difficulties (which everyone has come to expect when I'm in the kitchen), I'm really glad I did this and would definitely do it again. The next event is a Curry Takedown, which I'm not really feeling, but I've already got some ideas for then next tofu one.

I'm not posting my recipe because I really just mixed and matched aspects of recipes I found online and I don't think a recipe that includes lines like "Add sugar until contents of bowl no longer smells like tofu" is all that helpful. However, I will give you a basic outline of how to make cannoli (I wanted to take pictures of the various steps, but got too lazy. Shocking, yes?):

Make some dough. It usually has egg in it, but I used ground flax in water instead.

Roll the dough out, cut it into circles, wrap the circles around cannoli forms (by the way, anyone need THIRTY-EIGHT CANNOLI TUBES?!? What the hell am I going to do with THIRTY-EIGHT CANNOLI TUBES!?!) and fry it in a pan of 360 degree oil for two or three minutes.

Make your filling. It's usually mostly drained ricotta cheese, but I used really well pressed firm tofu, some lemon juice, granulated and confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and some mini bittersweet chocolate chips, of course.

Pipe your filling into your shells and viola! Cannoli! Simple, right? It might be a little less simple when you think you need to make 200 of them. It gets even less simple when you show up and the organizer says you actually need 300 of them. It gets even less simple when instead of coming out like this:

about half of your shells come out like this (and I still have no idea why):

That made dealing with runny filling a cinch by comparison. I just drained it overnight in my handy dandy cannoli filling draining apparatus (not pictured: two pieces of pizza used to apply pressure and wedge the bowl tightly in the fridge):

It took four tries on the shells and two tries on the filling to get them right. Thankfully, even when they were wrong, they were tasty. My family is still snacking on fried dough.

Here's another picture of the cannoli:

The event itself was very fun. So many people showed up that I would have run out of cannoli really early on if my friend hadn't been there. She washed off her pocketknife and cut as many as she could in half. We still ran out before everyone got to try them, but two other people ran out first, so that's not so bad.

There were seventeen entrants: four savory dishes and thirteen sweet. Maybe about half were vegan, though one of the dishes (a winner) was called vegan despite including honey. Whatever I tasted was quite nice. I think I would have given the prize to the vegan cheesecake, but mostly savory dishes won. This may or may not be because they were so scarce and people just got tired of looking at desserts.

Since things covered in powdered sugar are pretty, here's another shot of the cannoli. Please ignore the awkward-looking human with the tongs. That's just me.

For more pictures from the Takedown, including my failed attempts and other entries, click here.
For the Village Voice writeup (with pictures) click here
For the Metromix writeup (with pictures) click here.
For the Time Out New York writeup (with pictures) click here.
For a New York Times writeup of NYC cooking competitions that includes a mention of the Takedown click here.
Grub Street didn't say much, but they did mention my cannoli!
Slashfood writeup.

And that's it. Unless you've seen this mentioned someplace else on the Internet that I've missed. If so, please comment with a link!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hello, I Suck

At this blog thing, anyway. It's been ages, and I still haven't posted about Passover.

In short: it ruled. I cooked two totally vegan Seders and my family loved them so much they even ate the leftovers days later. Sometimes, Passover feels like a real chore and all everyone wants is a bagel or pizza, but this year, no one seemed to mind missing out on leavened things or meat. Awesome.

Pictured above (clockwise from top): Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes, Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew, Sweet Potato-Pear Tzimmes with Pecans and Raisins, Quinoa Tabouli and Asparagus Spinach Dip on matzo (all from Veganomicon, except the Tabouli from Yellow Rose Recipes).

With variety like that, who needs meat and bread?

I've never really been involved in the whole Passover process before and I learned many things:

1. Always remove the thermometer from the oven before telling it to clean itself.

2. Don't leave plastic spatulas on the stove top (I've melted at least three already).

3. Produce in the suburbs is HUGE.

4. And CHEAP!

That carload of fresh produce cost $75! I usually fill up my knapsack and/or reusable Whole Foods bag with groceries for $50!

5. Happiness can be sold by the bucket.

(Those are sour pickles up in there.)

6. If you fill the kitchen with grocery bags, you will have trouble getting to the other side.

7. It's not THAT difficult to make caramel.

8. The best tasting foods are often the worst looking. Especially via camera phone.

That stuff was so good I made it twice. The second time, I substituted a pound of peaches for one of the pounds of strawberries. So. Good.

PS: Sorry for the even crappier than usual quality of a lot of these photos; they were taken on the fly with my BlackBerry.

PPS: I kind of stowed away on my mother's shopping trip and she didn't want to wait for me to get out my reusable bags, so alas, plastic.