Monday, March 1, 2010
Being a patisserie student, I know my way around the kitchen, and would prefer to bake my own vegan cookies, all the time. But I'm busy, and lazy. More lazy than busy, if that's possible. So it's good to know that there are two kick ass companies out there offering cookies for us vegans!
Alternative Baking Co and Nana's are two of my favorite companies that offer vegan cookies. I both proud and embarrassed to say I've tried every single flavor of both nana's and ABC's, and they are all simply delicious. I used to literally buy cases of nana's, to ensure I'd never run out. I mean, what if I got a craving in the middle of the night and all health food stores were closed? Or what if a natural disaster hit, and all stores were out of stock? Not gonna happen to me, I'll never have to let a vegan cookie craving go hungry.
My favorite Alternative Baking CO flavors are Lemon Poppy Seed, and good ol' chocolate chip, but they are all good. Trust me. Pop one in the microwave while you poor yourself a glass of ice cold soy milk, and you've got yourself one yummy treat.
Nana's, my two favorites are peanut butter and oatmeal raisin, but again, they are all delish...except the cranberry and lemon flavors- they taste like perfume, not cool.
You cant find these cookies at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and even sometimes in Ralphs and other grocery stores (in the specialty food section, just ask, they are always hidden and hard to find) I'm broke right now, so if someone could please drop a case of these lovelies outside my door, that would be great!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Gardein, I love you! *tears* Vegan Chef Tal Ronnen helped create this AMAZING product...who...ahem, I was able to meet :-) I should seriously be their spokesperson, I'm passionate about this product on a borderline unhealthy level.
There are many different products available now (whole foods, or even Ralphs, most grocery stores now), but I'd have to say my two favorite are the soy chicken strips and the scallopini. The chicken strips bring me back to my childhood of feasting on mystery nuggets and strips...I'm sure glad I didn't know then what I know now... I enjoy these much more knowing exactly what's in them, no chicken! These are great served with sweet potato fries (brand below available at trader joes, but ralphs and all other grocery stores carry them too) and a honey mustard dip.
The scallopini is great, because it can be used in recipes that call for chicken breast. You treat it and cook it just like regular chicken. You can make a faux chicken parm by breading and frying the scallopini, topping it with soy mozzerella, and serving pasta and marinara sauce. There's also a great recipe for pine nut crusted scallopini in Tal Ronnen's Conscious Cook Cookbook.
Fantastic World Foods is an awesome brand of mixes and seasonings (available at whole foods). Me being a lazy vegan, they're my new best friends. For lunch yesterday I made falafel from their dried mix (just add water according to the directions on box). Attempting to be a little healthy, I baked them. I will admit my taste buds missed the familiar crunchy fried taste that is associated with falafel, but baking it (or broiling) is so much healthier. You can definitely fry them, in vegetable oil if you're feeling up to it. I know myself all too well, and was afraid I'd set fire to the kitchen (at work), and that would be bad...
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Salt and sugar, a wonderful combo. Have you ever had a salted caramel or salted chocolate ice cream? It's delicious, I had some from scoops (they offer 4 rotating vegan flavors) and it was delicious, and inspired this cookie recipe. Don't worry, they aren't incredibly salty! It's just that extra little kick of salt that really brings out the flavors, and tastes delicious.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegan margarine (earth balance is best)
1/2 cup granulated sugar sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream "butter" and sugar, add molasses. Sift dry ingredients and combine with the wet ingredients. Let dough chill in the fridge 15 mins, then form and bake. Make sure to take these out of the oven when they are still very soft, don't worry, they set up when they cool.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Petit Chou Fleur, what could be better? An endearing term for a loved one in france; a delicious raw or cooked veggie in the states, cauliflower is delicious, whatever you call it.
A few days ago I took advantage of the fully equipped kitchen at work and made a cauliflower casserole.
Boil (chopped and washed) cauliflower until tender. Drain, and stir in tomato sauce (there are tons of vegan varieties, I like the plain brands that don't have any added sugar. Why get your sugar from your tomato sauce? Lets save that sugar for yummy vegan brownies :)
Back to the recipe: add tomato sauce, vegan meatballs (I love the brand sold at trader joes, I add one serving, which is 6 small, but I'm a hungry girl!) fresh basil (about a tablespoon chopped), pinch of salt to taste, pepper, 1 tbs chopped onion, 1 tsp olive oil, pinch of chili flakes, stir, and transfer to a baking dish. Cook in oven until bubbly and slightly crisp on top. Call me crazy, but this dish is so delicious, and really healthy!
Also, here is some foccacia and french bread I made in school the other day, it's vegan! I love the french bread with smart balance "butter" and the foccocia turned into a beautiful panini (to come later when I have the time...). I'm loving the bread class I'm currently in at school...I cant take my aggression out kneading and punching my dough, and create (almost exclusively) vegan friendly yummy vegan bread, even pitas, begging to be smothered in roasted pepper hummus!
Peace y'all, I'm going to enjoy my wine, and my only evening off from work, and the craziness school. Bon Nuit.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I have yet another favorite meal. I've been experimenting with tofu lately...basically learning to cook with it for the first time (which is sad seeing as I've been vegetarian for 8 years and vegan for 1).
Whole foods has an amazing spice created specifically to mash into tofu to flavor it for "eggz". Listen to me: it is flippin' amazing!! It's called "Fantastic World Foods Tofu Scrambler"
Simply mash 1 tbs or so into your tofu, cook in a skillet (in smart balance, mmm!) add desired ingredients. I threw in some soy pepperoni, soy cheese, and served it with a toasted rice flour tortilla (trader joes, where else?). Delicious!
Oh, and some banana bread I made at work. Turned out fantastic.
Friday, January 29, 2010
As some of you might know, I'm currently attending Le Cordon Bleu, in hopes to specialize in vegan pastries and desserts.
Yesterday in class we made a Fresh Fruit Tart (with Pate Sucre pastry dough). I love fruit tarts because they are so colorful and happy looking.
I didn't scramble my egg yolks as I added them to the scalded milk, whew! I was so afraid that the mixture would quickly turn into SCRAMBLED EGGS, pas bon!
My french instructor said that "ze dough on ze tart is a little bit thick...and on thiz part..." but I don't care, I'm so proud of how it turned out! :)
The family I nanny for has the most beautiful garden, and it's huge! You can find anything you're looking for by simply walking around the property. Lunch yesterday was Grilled Tofu with a side of sauteed kale and other mixed veggies. I washed my healthy lunch down with a large glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Lemons you pick yourself taste better, you know :)
Friday, January 22, 2010
For the longest time, even before becoming vegan, I've had the hugest craving for coconut cake. Coconut cake is very sweet and high calorie, so I tried to avoid it. I tried and tried to ignore it, I really did, but some cravings need to be indulged before they can be put to rest!
Sometimes, a girl just wants cake. So the other day, I set off to create a yummy, moist, deliciously vegan, oh so sweet coconut cake.
Recipe For The Coconut Cake:
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk (canned, every grocery store sells it, usually in the asian foods section)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 or 9 inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork whisk until well combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes (or until a fork poked in the center comes out clean. Keep an eye on this, I checked it often, and mine only took about 25 mins to bake).
You can double the recipe to make a beautiful layer cake. I didn't this time, but if you feel up to the task, go for it! Nothing is more enticing than a giant layer cake covered in fluffy coconut.
For The Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup margarine
1/4 cup coconut milk
Also, set aside 1 c. coconut, flaked or shreds, whatever your preference is.
Whisk or blend together all ingredients until icing is smooth and creamy, adding more powdered sugar or liquid as needed.
After the cake has COMPLETELY cooled (don't jump the gun and attempt to ice it before it's cooled, I've done this before and it turns into a mushy mess, trust me...) frost it with the coconut frosting, followed by sprinkling the coconut shreds on tops and pressing it against the sides of the cake. I took little handfuls and "threw" it against the sides, making it stick. You want the entire cake covered.
And then the best part, enjoy!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream
I don't have a lot to say about this product other than... OMG Foodgasm. The. Best. Ever. I no longer how to deprive myself of my long lost love: cookie dough ice cream. The coconut milk is creamy, sweet, and delicious. If you haven't tried this brand of vegan ice creams yet (many are gluten free as well), you simply must asap.
Now, if you don't mind, I me and my cookie dough need to be alone.
I've been so busy all week, finished up my first official week at Le Cordon Bleu. I wasn't expecting so many academic courses to be honest, I thought 'culinary', 'kitchen'. But it's great, I'm a happy girl.
I also got a job earlier, which pleases me beyond words. I'll be nannying for twin 18 month old girls. It will be a challenge, with their energetic age, and keeping them occupied with constructive activities, but they are seriously the most adorable and sweet little girls you'll ever meet. Plus, it's 5 mins from my school, which couldn't be more convenient.
So, point being, between job hunting, school, boyfriend/family and social obligations, I haven't had time to really cook, at all, lately. So tonight, I made the time for a yummy meal of sweet potatoes, BBQ "chicken" and mixed veg. I always stopped by Barnes and Nobles and rewarded myself with Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook" cookbook. It will come in handy when I go to his cooking demo and book signing this Tuesday *cough ahem* Yay!
I'm feeling stressed and tired, but very blessed. Have a good night all.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
All morning and afternoon today was spent at my orientation at Le Cordon Bleu. It was both exciting and overwhelming! So much information, so many rules and guidelines to remember. I felt like I was joining the army. Wrinkled uniform? Kicked out of class. Forget your name tag? Don't bother coming. But I understand, they have to have order and professionalism, and I don't mind at all, I just hope I don't forget some crucial item.
Then we were hearded in groups all over the building, picked up info, schedules, maps (there are several locations in the area we will be taking classes from) listened to someone speak (explaining how the student counsel worked, where you can get parking permits, etc) then we were marched to the next room, financial aid. Any questions? Of course hands shot up, including mine.
Then it was the library. The largest library of food references and cookbooks (this includes tons of how to DVD's), aside from the one in Congress. I'm very excited to go wild there, but you can only check out 5 at a time :(
Then it was time to pick up our uniforms and all supplies. By the time I exited the building I could no longer carry everything on my own, thankfully a very nice man helped me to my car. I think he is one of my instructors, actually. He was very nice, answered several questions (of which I have a million more!). So let's see, 5 sets of uniforms, shoes, caps, kneckerchiefs, huge HEAVY knife set, 2 bags of books, huge bag of utensils, papers flying everywhere. Sweating like a pig. It's a good thing they went all out impressing parents and family/friends. First thing when we arrived in the AM they greeted us with coffee, several kinds of muffins, cookies, and every fruit known to man. Obviously they knew that we needed the energy, even if we didn't. I had some grapes. I'm just never hungry in them morning, it's bad I know. I've been told it's the most important meal of the day...
As soon as one tray started looking a little stark, magically a chef would somehow sense this, quickly arrive, swooping in with a fresh overflowing tray. I could get used to this.
I'm sure a job will come if I keep looking, gotta stay positive.
I'm very, very, very exciting about the internship next January. It wouldn't be easy, but it's quiete possible I could do mine in Paris. Several people went last year, and I already heard several people in my class talking about it. How amazing would that be? And what a great experience! I worked in the kitchen of a language school near Paris a couple years ago, loved it, and vowed to go back someday.
Also, a small number of students will be chosen to help cater the academy awards this year, on March 3rd. Hello, me please? That would be awesome.
After my 5 hour orientation (yes 5 hours) I needed some serious re-fueling, and I knew just the cafe that would hit the spot: Cafe Muse.
If possible, the food was even better than before. I had a soy BBQ chicken wrap with mixed greens and sun dried tomatoes. And look at that heaping pile of sweet potato fries. These are a must. I don't care if you're on a diet, get them. Eat them, and enjoy them. They make awesome leftovers, I'm sitting here right now eating the leftovers.
My sister had the olive pizza, and as you can see from her picture, she's pretty damn happy :)
It's time to go pass out now, and SLEEP!