Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vegan, Organic, Good. Nu'tella Recipe

    Behold! Nutella, veganized.

    This is the stuff of legend. I can say with confidence that this new 'tella is decadent and delicious. Slathered on bread or eaten from a spoon, the flavor is indistinguishable from the real thing. Yet its glossy sheen and spreadable-caramel consistency set it apart - It is its own 'tella. Can it get any better?

    I think not.

Vegan, Organic, Good. Nu'tella 
Makes about 1/3 cup*

1c hazelnuts
2 T cocoa powder
1 T coconut oil, melted (or oil of choice)
sweetener, to taste* (agave, corn syrup, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc)
pinch salt (optional)*

1. Shell and roast hazelnuts in single layer in baking pan at 375 F until skins are dark brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Remove the skins while hazelnuts are still warm by putting them in a kitchen towel and rubbing them together. If there's still some skins left on them don't fret - anywhere from about 60% of skins removed will suffice.
3. In a sturdy blender or food processor, blend completely cooled hazelnuts until you create nut butter, usually about 5 mins.* You will get chopped nuts first, then a gradually finer crumb. Soon the meal will begin to stick together, due to the oils released by the heat and friction. Scrape sides down with a spatula. Continue to process until it reaches a fairly smooth consistency.
4. To this nut butter, add cocoa powder, oil, salt and sweetener. Blend until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste test and add more sweetener if desired. Blend until smooth.
5. Store in the fridge for 1-2 months. If more spreadable texture is desired when serving, heat in the microwave for 10-20 seconds.

    *This is me suggesting you make double the recipe (or quadruple...Life is short, right?)
    *I say "to taste" for the sweetener because I'm not sure what the devil I did. I meant to sample different sweeteners and see what was best, but I ended up just not measuring anything and throwing honey (this makes the title "vegan" debatable, but what the hey, you do what you gotta do) and agave nectar in pell-mell. The stuff is meant to be quite sweet, but of course it's up to you.
    *I plumb forgot the salt and it was glorious without it, so obviously an optional ingredient. I think maybe it would make it a little better, but to such an almost-imperceptible degree that it really doesn't matter.
    *I don't want to be responsible for any destroyed blenders or food processor motors out there. Allow your machine to rest a little bit, blend in pulses, whatever. Just don't murder the thing.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Baby Churros Recipe

    When I was about, oh... 10 or 11? my brother and I went with our good friends and stayed at Disneyland for a whole week. This was soon after the addition of California Adventures to the park and they had this massive, grand hotel that I can't remember the name of that we stayed in. We'd lather up with sunscreen every morning and head into the park, stand in line all day for a cumulative few minutes' time on rides, then watch Fantasmic and call it a night. We ate at all those ridiculously expensive Disneyland restaurants (my favorite being the one inside Pirates of the Caribbean, despite the fact that they served a very sorry excuse for clam chowder).

    This trip must have cost a fortune, in addition to being pure monotony for our friends' parents, but BY JOVE I had the best time ever! I hate to pull out the Harry Potter references again (I don't), but it was totally like Harry living at the Leaky Cauldron and spending his days in Diagon Alley. We knew the park very well by the end of it and scoffed at the "tourists" and their park maps. We lounged around by the pool of the hotel, stood about chatting with foreigners and punk kids (basically the same thing to us at the time and equally thrilling) in line for Indian Jones, ate tons of ice cream and churros, and lived rather richly in general.

    Oh, you see I've gotten to the point finally? Yes, those crispy, fried delights... Glorious churros! I'm sure I ate at least 3 churros a day while there, and this gross over-indulgence only fueled my passion for more of them. It was always an inevitable tragedy to lose any of that divine cinnamon and sugar coating to the ground. They really need to work on how to handle those things better so none of it goes to waste... (Rereading this I realize that it is a very small wonder indeed that I was such a fat little kid.)
    Anyway, the point is I was frankly devastated the day I realized I couldn't have churros if I ever went to Disneyland again. That land of pure decadence had been marred for me, despite my continued adoration of Splash Mountain, and for a long time I didn't know if it could ever been restored to its former glory. However, when I managed these successful and highly delicious gluten free and vegan churros, I saw a definite glimmer of hope.

    In fact, it was more like a torrent of hope. And after eating about ten of them, I knew for certain... Churros really are the happiest food on Earth. 

    I may not be able to say that with a straight face, but boy, I mean it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Works in Progress

    Here's a post of some of the things I'm "working" on currently. With just a bit of tweaking on most of these, soon I'll be able to give you the recipes for them!

Gluten free and vegan chocolate chip cookies:
    These are aaalmost perfect. They just have a little bit of graininess to them, though I'm not entirely sure a gluten free, vegan cookie can be free of that. I need to experiment a little bit more!

Gluten free and vegan sugar cookies:
   Cute, right?! Unfortunately, these cookies are only decent. They're a bit too sweet for my liking, and too crispy. They do taste great with rosewater lemonade, though :)

Gluten free and vegan sugar "biscuits":
    I say biscuits, but they were really supposed to be donuts... These tasted fine, but texturally they really need some help. Instead of being soft and pliable like any good donut should be, they were very dry and crumbly. Work in progress for sure!  

Gluten free and vegan sticky Greek honey cake:
    Ooooh man, this cake is GOOD. The only help it needs is to reduce gumminess in the center. Flax seed gel tends to be tough to use with cakes. Maybe I should make them into cupcakes?

Gluten free and vegan banana muffins:
    These have the same unfortunate gummy nature as the honey cake, so maybe the cupcake idea wouldn't work there either. If these are still warm when the papers get pulled back, the majority of the muffin comes away with it, as you can see. When I allow them to cool completely in the fridge, though, they come away very nicely.

Gluten free and vegan rosewater cupcakes:
   Ah, sweet, sweet cupcakes... These things went unbelievably wrong! The funny thing is this was the only recipe I didn't convert anything on, it was already vegan and gluten free to begin with. It definitely turned out for the worse! On the four outside cupcakes, I followed the recipe exactly. I knew there was too much liquid, but I just WENT WITH IT, considering my limited experience. The two in the middle I experimented on, simply adding more flour.  
    As they were baking I looked into the oven and saw those monstrosities! They bubbled up like crazy and spilled over (so annoying to clean, by the way). When I removed them from the oven, they completely collapsed in on themselves and all that remained was a gooey film coating the cupcake liners. As for the normal looking ones, they tasted okay but were too dry and crumbly. 

    So, lots of fun stuff! I just made Japanese curry last night, perhaps I'll post pictures of that later!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tofu Salad with a Bacon Garlic Dressing

    Cookingwithdog. Chef knows what's UP. I love her so much. Literally every recipe I've made from them has been seriously soooo good. And this Tofu Salad is OFF THE CHARTS. Rave reviews! AHHH!

    Just had to get that out.

Tofu Salad with Bacon Garlic Dressing
serves 2

salad fixings
    -string beans
1/2-1 block tofu*
2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
1 T bacon, minced
1 T soy sauce
1 t sugar*
2 T young onion*
1-1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 green onion, chopped, for garnish (optional)  

For Salad:
    1. Wrap tofu in paper towel and chill in fridge as you prepare the dressing.
    2. Boil string beans and broccoli lightly (1-3 mins). Shock them in cold water to stop cooking process, or cool by fanning them.
    3. Prepare salad fixings. Arrange lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, etc. in a bowl and chill. When ready, scoop spoonfuls of tofu onto salad and garnish w/ green onions.

For Dressing:
    1. Put olive oil and minced garlic into small pan, stirfry at low heat until aromatic.
    2. Add bacon and continue to fry.
    3. When bacon is colored, add soy sauce and sugar. Stir to combine, then remove from heat.
    4. Grate sweet onion into dressing, then add lemon juice and stir.
    5. Spoon dressing over salad and serve. Enjoy!

    *I deviate from Chef's method with the tofu. I cube it and lightly pan fry in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Squishy, cold, raw tofu? Um, no thanks!
    *Considering I live in a very small town that chews and spits at the very thought of sweet onions, I subbed out the grated one for a wee bit of regular ol' yeller, or sometimes just forgo it entirely (Edit: I just found out this isn't true--they are available here, but I'LL STAND BY MY STATEMENT because it's funny).
    *I just put in the teensiest pinch of sugar; we are very particular about mixing sweet and savory here. Of course, you can do whatever the heck you want.
Now isn't this a sweet little bento? 
Maybe the way I devoured it wasn't quite as pretty,
but who cares!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Garden Edition - Goodbye Sweet Summer!

Picture overload! I'm just putting these up before this rain completely washes away all thought of summer...

Check out that blue, blue California sky...

This basil made a mean pesto!

 Wooo Chard!

 Our cantaloupes were quite literally divine.

Hide and seek...

Lovely lettuce assortment!

We have mint and weeds and spiders and random flowers all mixed together!

The beeeessssttttt.

Haha! Those socks drying there is so perfect... 

Can you see the beans?!

 Kitty spent all summer lounging here under the grapes.

and a little while later...

I have mixed feelings about the colder months... On the one hand, HELLO COMFORT FOOD, but then on the other, I practically freeze to death and don't thaw out again until June. Yet summertime! There's really nothing better than being out in the sunshine with everything so full of life :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Love Granola!

    I love granola so much, it's one of those things that I want everyone on the planet to love as well. Doesn't matter if I despise them, who cares if they're horrible people - everybody needs to adore granola! (I feel the same way about Harry Potter, actually... Needless to say, every day is fraught with disappointments.)

    I am of the humble opinion that this recipe makes the best granola ever. Make it. Try it. PLEASE. It's so good! and so very customizable and easy.