Monday, November 23, 2009

Worth a Read: Animal, Vegetable, Miserable

I don't know why I love reading defenses of veganism so much, I guess because it's kind of lonely being vegan sometimes.  Anyway, it’s rare to see a New York Times editorial about veganism, especially one that isn’t dripping with derision for vegans, so yesterday’s op-ed by Gary Steiner, “Animal, Vegetable, Miserable,” made my day.  Bravo. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

My husband is generally the cookie-monster in my family, which means he’s also typically the cookie-maker.  But he’s busy studying for the GRE, and I needed a little sugar fix to round out my weekend, so I made these chocolate-chip coconut cookies.They are less sweet than most cookies I’m used to, with a firm, almost biscuity texture.  I rolled them in unsweetened, untoasted coconut, and the coconut on the bottoms of the cookies toasted while the cookies baked, but toasting the coconut before rolling would work really well, too, and would probably make the cookies look a bit less anemic.   This recipe was adapted from one in Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romano’s Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar.   Makes about 20 cookies.

½ cup + 2 T brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup oil
¼ cup rice milk
1 T + 1 t tapioca flour
2 t vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
¾ c chocolate chips
¾ - 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut

The Process:
  1. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugars, rice milk, vanilla, and tapioca.  Whisk vigorously for about a minute and a half, until you get smooth, golden-brown glop.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and continue whisking or stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir some more.
  4. Put coconut in a small bowl.
  5. Make dough into walnut-sized balls and dredge in coconut to coat.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
  6. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes, or until bottoms are golden-brown.  Tops will still be pale.  Cool on cookie sheet a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack (or to your mouth).
Happy weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

thanksgiving preview

I'm really excited to be cooking a vegan Thanksgiving dinner for eight this's a little preview of the menu I'm planning.  Photos and recipes to follow next week.
hors d’oeuvres:
Walnut-mushroom pate with baguette rounds
flash-fried green beans
something with the last garden eggplants
First course: vegetable soup and a salad (supplied by my lovely guests)
Main course:
Spicy roasted sugar pumpkin (from my garden)
Maple-glazed grilled tempeh
Chanterelle and pear dressing
Balsamic roasted mushrooms, onions, and fingerling potatoes
The best rum cake ever (my friend who brought this last Thanksgiving was basically told not to come back without it)
pecan and chocolate tart

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet potato, peanut, and coconut milk soup

I didn’t feel like cooking this week, so I made a giant pot
of soup on the weekend that we can reheat all week for lunches and
dinners.  It’s a mildly-spicy sweet
potato and peanut soup, very creamy and delicious though not exactly healthy
with its peanut butter and coconut milk broth.

The ingredients (for a HUGE batch—I cook it in a canning
kettle.  A normal soup pot’s worth would
probably be a 1/3 batch.):

¼ c + 2 T olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
6 lbs orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams, unpeeled, in a ½-inch to ¾-inch dice
3 carrots, sliced
9-12 hot chiles, minced
1-2 lbs green beans, trimmed and chopped in bite-size pieces
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, or 3½ cups diced fresh tomatoes, with their juices
½-1 can coconut milk
9-11 cups vegetable broth (to desired viscosity)
1 generous cup peanut butter
2 T brown sugar
1½ t ground cumin
1½ t coriander
1½ t cinnamon
1 T salt
1½ t ground black pepper
1½ c roasted peanuts (if salted, reduce salt in recipe)
Sriracha, cayenne, chile paste, or chile powder, if you want it to burn your mouth more

The process: 
  1. Heat oil in canning kettle or cauldron 
  2.  Saute onions, garlic, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, and hot peppers in oil about 7 minutes, until just starting to soften. 
  3.  Add everything else EXCEPT the peanuts.  Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about ½ hour or until sweet potatoes are very soft. 
  4.  Add peanuts and adjust seasoning if you so desire.  
  5.  EAT! 
  6.  EAT AGAIN 
By the way: this is also quite delicious served as a curry over brown rice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pecan and chocolate tart

I just got my new tart pans, with wavy edges, handy removable bottoms, and super-slick nonstick coating.  So I had to make a tart.  I didn't feel like rolling pastry, so I went with a shortbread crust filled with pecans, caramel-y agave goo, and a bit of chocolate.  So good it's like god in my mouth.  Not that I would know.  Anyway, this is scaled for a smallish (9-inch) tart pan, so you'd need to do some math to make it fill an 11-inch pan.  My taste-testers--err, friends--thought it would make good mini tartlets, too.  Next time I make it, I'll try a sprinkle of course sea salt on top to tone the sweetness down a notch.

1 c flour
1/3 c powder sugar
6 T (1/4 c + 2 T) margarine

2 2/3 c pecan halves
1/4 c + 2 T brown sugar
1/4 c + 2 T agave nectar (dark)
1/2 c margarine
1 T soy milk
2 T chocolate liqueur
1/2-2/3 c chocolate chips

The Process:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and toast pecans about 7 minutes, then let them cool completely.
2. Make crust:  smash all the crust ingredients together with a pastry blender or food processor until it forms course crumbs.  Press into tart pan.  Bake @ 350 about 20 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden-brown.
3. Prepare Filling: in a saucepan over med-high heat, bring sugar, agave, margarine, soy milk, and liqueur to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in toasted pecans.
4. When crust is done, sprinkle chocolate chips over it.  Pour in the agave-pecan goo, and return to the oven.  Bake about 25 minutes.

Just so you know:
If you fill the tart too full, the agave goo will bubble over the top when it bakes, and burn on your oven floor, making lots and lots of smoke.  At least the smoke will smell pretty good since it's all sugary and pecan-infused.
I made some chocolate ganache to drizzle over the top of the tart in pretty stripes.  You could also just sprinkle chocolate chips on top.