Sunday, March 31, 2013

Holiday Ham'fu Roast and Lemony Asparagus

I had no idea what I was making with potato "eggs" and my Lemony Asparagus for Easter until I was cooking them today! Then, a question...would it work to roast a whole block of tofu like a ham...with a smoky, pineappley glaze?  Oh yes! Yes, it works, and yes, it's delicious!  Here's the recipe, guys and I have to say, it was really good and has a very fun presentation.  I'd make one roast per every two hungry guests.  You can do a bunch of them in a big roasting pan, no problem. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe below and just use a big enough roasting pan for however many roasts you require.   

Holiday Ham'fu Roast!

Holiday Ham‘fu Roast 
This makes one ‘fu roast.  Double, triple, etc. as needed!

½ cup pineapple juice (basically all the juice from a can of pineapple slices)
2 T. Tamari
2 T. Vinegar (I used Rice Vinegar)
2 T. Packed Brown Sugar
1 T. Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Dash of liquid smoke or a good sprinkle of smoked paprika, smoked salt, or whatever “smoky” ingredient you like.
1 T. Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp. Breakfast Sausage Seasoning (Penzeys)
Sprinkle of Onion powder (I would have put more but it was an afterthought).
One block of extra firm tofu, drained and “lightly” pressed*
*You don’t want to press the heck out of this or your presentation and roast will suffer, about 20 minutes should do it (I use a TofuXPress).
A few pineapple slices

First, make some marinade holes! Using a metal skewer, poke holes through the center of the tofu, all the way through, to produce two parallel rows of holes along either the length or width of the tofu (doesn’t matter) .  See photo.  Twist your skewer so that it expands the holes a bit.  If you’ve got a flavor injector, you can just inject the marinade instead of making these holes.  I couldn’t find mine!
Keep making the holes all the way across, about every centimeter or so.  
Then, make another row about a centimeter below that one. 

Now, score the tofu as you would a ham, cutting almost to the bottom of the ‘fu (but not through it!) to create spaces for the marinade to really get into the ‘fu!  
If you look closely, you can see the two rows of marinade holes here, too.

Carefully transfer the scored tofu roast to its marinating container.  I used the TofuXPress for this, too, as it is the perfect shape to allow the marinade to get all the way up and into the loaf.  Cover with the marinade.  Marinate for an hour or up to overnight.

Of course, you can always just slice your ‘fu however you like and marinate and bake the slices! 

Top your roast with a pineapple slice! Bake your Ham'fu roast at 375 for about 45-60 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so.  Some of the marinade will get absorbed by the ‘fu and the remaining marinade will thicken up into a nice glazy sauce.  When the ‘fu is roasty and has nice brown edges, and the sauce is reduced by about half or more, your ‘fu is done!
This roast is almost done!

Serve with the reduced glaze sauce, potato “eggs” (or just some mashed potatoes!) and Lemony Asparagus.  I modified Joni Marie’s Potato Mochi recipe from her new vegan fusion book, then shaped them like eggs before sautéing.  Super yum!

This was deeelish!

Lemony Asparagus is just fresh asparagus spears sautéed for about 12 minutes over medium heat (in a cast iron pan) in some olive oil and rosemary salt.  The juice of one organic lemon is added at the end to steam the asparagus a bit.  Cover your pan for the last minute or two after adding the juice.  Serve with more salt, pepper and organic lemon zest.  You can roast the asparagus in the oven, too, if you want.  It takes about 25 minutes if you put it in with the ‘fu, just drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.

Quick pics of Lemony Asparagus:
 Just hit the pan, almost raw.

 After about five minutes or so, it's taken on that gorgeous bright green color!  

And after the full 12 minutes, here they are, fully adorned with lemon zest and rosemary salt:
Lemony Asparagus

Hope you all had a wonderful day!  Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vegan Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

When we were kids, my mom always made her amazing cream cheese cookies for Easter.  They were sweet with a subtle, tangy bite to them from some cream cheese added to the batter, and great iced or plain.  I thought I would give it a go at a vegan version, and they came out great!  They have great flavor and texture, however, they aren't very "tangy." I'll use a home-cultured cream cheese next time.

Here they are:

Bunnies, flowers and a nice dragonfly. Deelish!

Vegan Fazool’s Easy Cream Cheese Cookies
* denotes a traditional, citrusy cookie option!*

½ C. (one stick, 4 ounces) room temp Vegan Butter
(I used EB, but would love to try Bryanna’s Buttah in this, which is on my to-make list)
½ C. (half a package, 4 ounces) room temp Vegan Cream Cheese
(I used Tofutti, but next time I’m going to use homemade vegan cream cheese for more of a tang, Miyoko has a great one in her book!)
1 C. Organic Sugar (I used TJ’s)
2 tsp best Vanilla Extract*
*or 1 tsp vanilla and ½ tsp lemon or orange extract if you want a traditional, citrusy cookie
*1 tsp citrus zest (organic, please) if you want it lemony, orange-y or limey
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ tsp salt
2 C. Flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat, you can use AP)
1 tsp Baking Powder

Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cutters.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Ready a baking tray with a Silpat or parchment paper (or just grease it lightly).  Take the butter and cream cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes prior to making the recipe so they soften a bit.  I like to cut them up and put them in the mixing bowl to increase the surface area and help them to soften faster (Emory had already done this before the video started). 

Either by hand or using a stand mixer (I love my stand mixer for making cookies, but I don’t love it for yeast dough), cream in the sugar and vanilla extract (and citrus extract if using) until uniform in texture, I used the lowest setting on my stand mixer with a paddle attachment (see video ;-).  Now, add zest (if using) vinegar and salt, and continue mixing to incorporate.  Sift in flour and baking powder.  

Blend until a nice, uniform dough forms.  It’s a lovely, workable dough. 
Deelish dough!

Now, form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Wrap well in plastic wrap and stash in the freezer for about an hour until it’s thoroughly chilled, or in the fridge for two hours (or up to overnight).  You can keep it frozen for months if you don’t want to use it today, just put the wrapped dough in  a freezer bag for extra protection.  Take it out and put it in the fridge the night before you want to bake it so it can thaw.  You can also keep it refrigerated for up to a few days if you don’t want to cut and bake cookies the same day that you make the dough.
Dough Disk

Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper or use a Roul Pat (I love mine!!) with a piece of parchment on top to prevent the rolling pin from sticking).  Roll out to between ¼ and ½ inch thick (3/8 is the standard thickness for cut-outs).  Use your favorite seasonal cookie cutters (we used Spring/Easter themed ones) and add any fun, edible decorations to the cookies now (or wait to ice them later, though this recipe is sweet enough to leave them plain).  I prefer my cookies with just a few chips or candies pressed in, but icing is also great, particularly on the citrus-y ones.  If the dough starts getting too warm and losing its structure, stash it in the freezer for a few minutes (I just put the whole Roul Pat in the freezer with the rolled out dough on it, covered with a piece of parchment!) and when you take it out it will be nice and firm again for more cutting!

Bake cookies at 350 for 10-14 minutes.  Baking time will vary depending on the size of your cookies and your equipment—darker cookie trays bake hotter and faster than lighter, aluminum ones, for instance.  When cookies are *just* beginning to get golden on the edges, they are done.  Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking tray for about four minutes, then carefully remove them with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. 

I made this recipe sweet enough so that the cookies do not need to be iced, however, you can certainly ice them!  You can use any confectioner’s sugar icing recipe that you want and natural food coloring for some pretty spring colors, or ice them white with some more citrus zest mixed into the icing.  Or, do like we did, and just use some chips or candies pressed into the raw dough for decoration.
Bunnies, flowers and chicks, yum!

 Here's the video.  Particularly funny happenings starting around 3:30 min and again between about 6 and 12 min, particularly at 8:58 min marks :-)


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Something Old, Something New

Spring is finally here, so let's do some housekeeping...

Something Old:
Claus's Kraut! Whatever happened to it, anyway?
(*Video Update* Coming Soon!)

Something(s) New:
A Breakfast "Soyflower " 
(Soy yogurt, strawberries and banana slices)

Calzone Bites!! 
Joni's secret dough for Pull Apart Buns filled with our own, custom Calzone filling: vegan cashew ricotta and a seasoned TVP 'sausage' filling with onions and garlic, OMG, amazing! 

Calzone Bites served with Hubby's CSA Marinara.  Heaven!

Hubby's Pickling Project:
That's the recipe up there, and here, too.     

He tried them tonight and said they were wonderful!
Aren't they pretty?

And, it's still cold enough to bake, so...
(Vegan) Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies!

*RECIPE POST* Coming Soon!
Cream Cheese Cookie Chick.

I also have more exciting news to share with you all...details coming soon!

Spring is here!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Terrifying Librarians and Lenny the Leprechaun

As many of you may already know, I am terrified of, what does my husband aspire to become?

Yup.  A terrifying librarian!
 Maybe not as scary as this Conjured Ghost from Oblivion....

But, still, Oblivion cupcakes were totally appropriate! 
 I dare you to summon the Librarian Ghost!

 There are only three of these left today, I think (I made them yesterday!).

Breakfast today, a dreary, wet, snowy, rainy March Saturday.  
My Crispy Oat Cakes.  This may be my favorite recipe EVER.   

For lunch, a Saint Patty's Salad:
Organic Baby Spinach Chiffonade (raw), with Lemon Kissed Israeli Couscous and Garlic Mushrooms.  YUM. 

 A Recomposed Salad!  Hey, I think I saw Lenny!

Anyway, we also preserved some Meyer Lemons before the citrus season is over!

Preserved Meyer Lemons!

And I made a batch of Bucket Bread that will either become a Rosemary Focaccia or a Za'atar Flatbread or something else that is delicious in the morning...

It topped off around 4L (as usual) at the two hour mark, so then it went in the fridge until needed!

And I just ate another one of these...damn!
Scary Librarian Cupcakes*

*Isa and Terry's Chocolate Agave Cupcakes from VCTOTW with Betty Crocker's Creamy Vanilla Frosting (it's vegan!)

And, wait? What's THAT?
 A (washable) green hand print?
Who has been here?

Ollie saw him!

It was Lenny the Leprechaun! He peed (green!) in our toilet and left (washable) green hand and foot prints everywhere!**

**You can delight your child (or spook your spouse!) tomorrow morning by just five minutes of work tonight!!  Just take a washable green marker and draw little footprints on the floor leading up to and/or around the bottom of the toilet, I even drew butt cheek marks and little hand prints on the lid of the toilet and on the doorknob and door frame nearest the bathroom. Then, put a few drops of green food coloring in the toilet for green leprechaun "pee."  Lenny is a naughty leprechaun!  You could also leave a gift from Lenny like little Saint Patty's stickers or whatever you like near the toilet :-)**

Happy Saint Patty's Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dessert First: A Vegan Chocolate Chip Tasting and Video!

And, really, what's wrong with starting with dessert, first?

A Vegan Chocolate Chip Tasting (all brands are semi-sweet):
Three Store Brands: Whole Foods 365, Wegmans and Trader Joe's.
Two National Brands: Ghirardelli and Enjoy Life (Mega Chunks!).

So, what did we think?

Here's my very first Vegan Fazool Video, starring my highly discerning son :-) and ever thorough husband...

What will they like??

And here is the feedback from the tasters in my class, who, for the most part, agreed with my family.

#1. Whole Foods 365: (Zero!) favorite votes, and no one liked it.  
(Sorry, WF! Chin up!)
#2. Wegmans: (1) fave vote from class, everyone agreed they really liked it, and it was my personal favorite=(2) fave votes.  A great overall chip.
#3. Ghirardelli: (2) fave votes from class, tied for 1st for my hubs=(2.5) fave votes.  Creamy, a bit bittersweet and with a rich, vanilla taste. YUM.
#4. Enjoy Life Mega Chunks: (1) fave vote from class, but mixed reviews overall.
#5. Trader Joe's: (3) fave votes from class, positive reviews overall.

Remember, this was an uncooked, straight-from-the-bag chocolate chip tasting.  
It would be interesting to see how all the chips might fare when baked into cookies, now wouldn't it?  

What's your favorite vegan chocolate chip?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Vegan Fazool's School: The First Class

Here's the reason I haven't been blogging since my birthday:

My first class!  

I hosted a demonstration style vegan cooking class/cashew cheese and wine party for some interested friends yesterday and it was so much fun!  
I have been working on it for the last month.

From left to right: my awesome neighbors Lorraine & Pete, my sweet, social worker friend Jeannie, my friend Jane the Guerrilla Gardener of South Philly and Roof Meadow Marketing Master  (standing, she was also my volunteer videographer! Thanks, Jane!), my friend and amazing Philly Realtor Brooke (standing), Jeannie's enthusiastic vegetarian friend Amanda (seated) and Brooke's friend Brook :-) who was inspired to make some vegan cheese with my to-go rejuvelac!

They are the members of my first class in Vegan Fazool's School!  

We started with a wine reception and vegan hors d'oeuvres featuring some amazing handmade vegan cashew cheeses from Artisan Vegan Cheese:
This is a (slight) variant on Miyoko's amazing Goat-Cheese Style Cashew Boursin.  
I used a pound of organic basic cashew cheese, the parsley, 1 T. of nutritional yeast, 2 garlic cloves, 1 T plus 1 tsp minced fresh tarragon, 2 tsps minced fresh thyme, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and 1 tsp fresh marjoram.  It was everyone's favorite!

Here it is in progress, look how gorgeous and creamy the basic cashew cheese looks after culturing:
All fluffy and delicious!

Here were the rest of the vegan hors d'oeuvres:
Fresh grapes, assorted olives (Wegmans olive bar!), Cashew Boursin, Cashew Soft Gruyere (I forgot to line the mold, so that's why it's in it's crock!), and vegan crackers (club crackers, Wegmans vegetable crackers and TJ's flax water crakers).

The Syllabus:

Simple Sautéed ‘Fu, Baked Marinated ‘Fu and Korean Fresh Noodle Salad.  
We also learned both marinades:
The Sweet and Spicy Marinade and Dawn's Easy Asian Dressing 
(for the Korean Fresh Noodle Salad). 

Properly Pressing Tofu (with and without a tofu press)
Using Cast Iron Cookware

And a Vegan Food Tasting: 
Vegan Chocolate Chips!

*Recipes, Techniques and Tasting Posts Coming Soon!* 

And, Jane took a lot of video, which I will try to edit and post soon as well!  Thank you so much, Jane!


Simple Sautéed Tofu

Baked Sweet and Spicy 'Fu

Homestyle Sweet and Spicy Marinade

Korean Fresh Noodles for the Noodle Salad 
(noodles are from the Asian Market in Cherry Hill):

Korean Fresh Noodle Salad with Red peppers, Scallions, Sesame Seeds 
(Cilantro, optional!)
Of course, I forgot to serve the black sesame seeds in class!

Dawn's Easy Asian Dressing:
I mixed this in a measuring cup, then poured it into a re-purposed Wegmans Rice Vinegar bottle (with a shaker top) so it can be used to refresh the noodle salad as needed!

Properly Pressing Tofu (with and without a tofu press)
Using Cast Iron Cookware

Proper Pressing:
Proper Pressing Without a Press: post coming soon!  But, if you don't want to make laundry AND dishes when making your tofu, you'll probably want...

The TofuXpress :-)
I love my TofuXpress!  

Cast Iron Cooking:
Don't be afraid!  

A Vegan Tasting: Vegan Chocolate Chips!
The Contenders: Whole Foods 365 semi-sweet chips, Wegmans semi-sweet chips, Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips, Enjoy Life semi-sweet Mega Chunks and Trader Joe's semi-sweet chips.  The results were surprising! View the blog post and *video* here!

Thanks so much for a great class, everyone!
Thank you for making me a plate, Jeannie :-)

I can't wait to host Class #2! 

I have a ton of ideas...