08/7/10

Vegan Red Velvet Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

After unsuccessfully attempting to pawn off some unused CSA vegetables to my friend for his birthday dinner, I promised I would make a vegan red velvet cake. I don’t know where it came from and I had never baked any vegan desserts, so I was a little nervous. Luckily, I found a great recipe online from Mac & Cheese, a vegetarian Philadelphia based food blog. The direct link is below.

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Steps not pictured: Kate nervously peering through the oven window. Kate prematurely texting her friend with an update on the “great” vegan cake for his party. Kate almost crying when the first cake wouldn’t come out of the pan. Kate “fixing” the holes in the bottom layer with gobs of icing. Kate almost deciding to decorate the cake with funky cocoa powder designs, but realizing she shouldn’t push it.

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Cost: $25 (I had some ingredients already and I had some items leftover after this was made.)

Tips: I used too much cooking spray on the cake pans. The vegetable oil made the cake somewhat crumbly. I’d like to experiment with other ingredients next time. Read the labels before you purchase the red food dye. Cochineal / Carmine is made from beetles (sometimes labeled E120). Red #40 is made from coal. The recipe is for cupcakes, but a commenter leaves instructions for a cake.

Edit: Putting this cake in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to serving solved the crumbling problems. Plus, I think it tasted better cold. It was a hit!

Recipe: Mac & Cheese

Overall Rating: I made a test batch of 4 cupcakes to make sure the cake tasted OK. The cake is good, but the icing is great.

08/3/10

Pasta Substitutes? – Take Two

After the cucumber noodle failure, I was feeling dismal about the possibility of ever finding a low calorie substitute until I stumbled upon TOFU SHIRATAKI.

The entire bag is 40 calories, 0 grams of fat and vegan! There is angel hair, spaghetti and fettuccine. Each bag costs about $2.50 at Whole Foods. It takes 2 minutes to prepare – simply drop the noodles into boiling water for a few minutes, lightly pull apart, strain and serve. A good homemade sauce completes the meal. Farewell, Kroger brand pasta…

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Suggestions:

1. Strain well or your bowl of pasta will be too watery.
2. The noodles have a strange smell when they first come out of the bag, but boiling for a few minutes eliminates this!
3. Eat with a hearty sauce. Remember, the whole bag is only 40 calories!
4. Eat often.

07/31/10

Asian Summer Vegetable Tofu Scramble

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1 small summer squash
2 small banana peppers
handful of cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 package of crumbled tofu
1/4 fresh lemon

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper as needed
3-4 cloves of fresh minced garlic

low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of ginger (ground)
pinch of sugar

1. Start with ½ package of tofu. Cut in half and remove excess water. Put a
few tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and cook crumbled tofu until slightly brown.
Periodically sprinkle in salt and pepper. Remove tofu and set aside.

2. Sauté chopped summer squash, banana peppers and cherry tomatoes with
fresh minced garlic. Add crumbled tofu. Squeeze ¼ fresh lemon into mixture and
sauté for a few more minutes.

3. Add ginger, soy sauce, a small amount of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
Mix and sauté for a few minutes. Serve immediately.

07/29/10

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

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1 heirloom tomato from Avalon Acres CSA
1 handful of fresh picked basil leaves from backyard
2-3 ounces organic mozzarella
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt & pepper

Perfect late lunch Saturday afternoon.

07/8/10

Pasta Substitutes?

First, I discovered the Summer Tomato video blog about summer squash noodles. Then, I found the cucumber noodle recipe on the kitchn and Gourmet. Since cucumbers have been so abundant lately, I decided tonight was a great opportunity to try one of these. The cucumber noodle recipe, featured on Gourmet, seemed simple enough.

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I began enthusiastically peeling the skin off the cucumber and then slowly peeling “noodles” into a pan. Next, I blanched them in boiling water for one minute, drained in a colander and immersed them in a bowl of ice water for two minutes. I drained them again and dried off with paper towels. Then, I created a light sauce with margarine, spearmint, lemon, salt and pepper. I sauteed the “noodles” just until they were warm and coated with the sauce.

Here’s where I cheated:

1. I had no fresh lemons, so no lemon zest.
2. I foolishly grew spearmint in my garden this year, so I used that instead of regular mint.
3. I used margarine instead of butter.
4. I didn’t have the special equipment (adjustable-blade slicer with 1/4-inch julienne blade), just a normal peeler.

But, behold:

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Looks delicious, right? I lovingly photographed the finished product with visions of serving it again as a unique (and popular) side dish at future dinner parties. I couldn’t believe I had found a diet-friendly pasta alternative! I was pretty proud of myself until I tasted them…

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I choked it down and wiped away a single tear. Was it the half-hearted attempt at this easy recipe that led to its demise? A tiny seed wedged in a thin crack in the sidewalk, never to receive proper water and light?

Alas! The idea was too good to be true. My Italian taste buds rejected this pasta impostor almost immediately with a self-satisfied smirk. On the bright side, I can think of endless decorative uses for these cucumber “ribbons” for the future.