Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

You heard right. We're back on whoopie pies chez Z and we're doing it vegan-style this time. Whoopie pie remix.

If you thought I'd had enough of them last time, you were wrong. Once I figured out that they tasted so much better without gobs (heh) of filling, I'm ready for more. Plus, this is an excuse to buy vegan cream cheese. Oh fake cream cheese, can you be as satisfying as your namesake?

Quick answer is no.

But it does have it's only qualities that don't make it suck. For instance, in this filling you can't tell it's not cream cheese. When mixed with other things, including lemon juice which gives it that nice tart cream cheese flavor, you wouldn't know it's vegan. (I decided to add some raw cacao powder to this batch, because pumpkin and chocolate are made in heaven.) On it's own, it's a different story. It doesn't taste bad, but it's not something I'd smear on a bagel and eat on it's own. However, you throw some chives and toasted sesame seeds on the same bagel with it and it's a party. Plus, it's easier to work with straight from the refrigerator since it's not as hard.

Overall, these whoopies were EXCELLENT. I loved the texture of the pies. One thing that may have made these so deliciously moist was replacing the oil with apple sauce and using more, you guessed it, buckwheat flour. I also cut the sugar in the pies in half. These are so decadent, I couldn't tell the difference. So can you make vegan whoopie pies that are the shit? Yes you can. And you should. If you are so inclined to try, check out the recipe I used here. Happy dairy-free baking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roasted Chickpea Crunchies

Sometimes you just find a recipe that's so awesome you fall in love and have to share. Then you share until it's annoying for the people around you and they tell you to shut up. This is that new recipe for me. All I wanted was a little snack, something to tide me over. These recipe challenges so often end up with lots of real food but no munchies. To remedy that I decided to make these.

And proceeded to get annoying.

These things are too easy. I've made them twice now and I'm about to start branching out and trying them with other beans. The recipe calls for canned chickpeas which was great. I think I like them from dried beans better though. I can't tell a difference in taste, but I love the texture difference. Also, if you're not into the corn-nut kind of crunch that these can get, just cook them a few minutes less for a less intense crunch and lovely chew.

Plus, these are crazy flexible. You can try any combo of herbs and spices you can dream of. The only one I've tried so far (because I love it as much as these) is a smoked sweet paprika, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and brown sugar. Oh, touch me.
Throw out those potato chips! What are you waiting for? Click here to get the recipe and go wild.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vegan Garlic Naan

I was little hesitant about this. I made naan previously for a potluck and it was kinda suck. They were flat, too hard, and not helpful with the scooping of delicious things. Approaching this recipe with an open mind was a bit difficult, but I had a few new ideas. One reason my last batch didn't do so well was because my oven was too low and they cooked too long. Now, I could try it again with higher heat, or I could go the pan route. I chose Saute Pan as my weapon of choice.

This was a very wise decision, indeed. Maybe a hearty, toothsome, almost chewy naan isn't to your taste, but oh crap was it to mine! I had no idea that's what I wanted until I took a bite. This is no piddling bread to go with better food. This is NAAN. Not only was it delicious ripped apart and eaten alone, but I loved making open-faced sandwhiches with my stewed tomatoes and lentils on top. The coriander made this a much more flavorful, savory bread then I was expecting, but it really raised the bar. It goes suprisingly well with many more food combinations that you'd imagine.
Drawback: my pan looks like I tried to kill it. Anything cooked on my stovetop looks like that now. I think a heavy bottom skillet with more oil than the smidge I used would work wonders. Or, I bet a cast iron skillet without oil would work too. I'm sure there's a way to get them puffy in a skillet, but I haven't gotten there yet. Let me know if you have any tips.

Here is the base recipe. I went ahead and added the minced garlic, but about half of the recommended. I could have handled more since I used a mix of whole wheat and buckwheat for these, and the flour gave it a darker, more robust flavor. Also, I left out the vegan sour cream because I couldn't find any. I just substituted a little more almond/coconut milk with a tad of lemon juice. Does anyone have a favorite recipe for naan?

I know I'm all kinds of behind on vegan recipes. Ugh. What's up with this? I'll try harder, especially since I've found some amazing ones. Next time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vegan Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Ugh! I know I'm slacking again on recipes. I've made a bunch of stuff with more on the way. Long, boring story that you don't want to hear, so let's start of easy. Actually, I meant to tell you about this forever ago. Once upon a dinner party, a friend from work and I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe. It was fabulous. The end.

Seriously, I made this at home in the same week and have been dreaming about it since. Vegan month is a great way to explore some new bean and rice dishes. I held off making them for gluten free so I wouldn't get sick to death of them. But it's vegan time! No guilt in making them now, so please join me and believe me when I say they're perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. Word.

I've had them a little different every time. The first time, my friend put the carrots in hers. Of course, I don't do carrots, so I left them out the second time around, along with the food processing step. But this time, oooh this time! It could be that the anticipation made them taste more phenomenal than ever. Or it could be that I processed my onions, garlic, and tomatoes after sauteing then topped with a double dose of black pepper for a slightly spicy, tangy masterpiece over rice. Whatev.

Please make these. Seriously. I might cry if you don't.

To make this awesomeness, go to Smitten Kitchen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Gluten-Free Challenge Recap

Well, the last month has really opened my eyes. The general public is becoming more aware of gluten intolerance, especially if they're avid food blog readers. What I couldn't have guessed before is that nearly everyone either knows someone who has Celiac disease or is a friend of a friend. It's amazing to me because it's almost the perverse new trend. With everything I've been reading about wheat and processed foods lately, I guess it shouldn't be too much of a shock.

Speaking of food intolerance, my April challenge is vegan recipes. Since I've started gearing up for that and winding down with gluten-free, I've never been so aware of the growing number of people with special dietary restrictions - both voluntary and not. It's made me so much more grateful that I decided to take this challenge in the first place. Word to the wise, if you don't know someone with a special diet now, you will. Soon. Now more than ever, there's a huge, delicious world of "alternative" recipes. Why don't you try out a few and pin them down so that next time, when it's actually necessary, you won't be the person to show up to dinner with some inedible health food that you thought might be okay for weird-eating people. You don't want that and neither do they. /off soapbox

This leads me in to thinking about flour. I love trying new kinds and have more than my fair share on my pantry shelf. However, most of the time I get stuck thinking about them as novelty items. This relegates them to once-in-a-while recipes that are "special" and further segregates them in my mind. What is even more amazing is that most of these flours have been around for a long time. Either they weren't big in my part of the world, or we forgot how to use them, or we've succumb to the brainwashing that is advertising, believing wheat is the only flour. So to help straighten my mind out, I've had to learn how to work with them. My major three were sorghum, brown rice, and buckwheat flour.

I find sorghum flour to be a bit mealy and it doesn't seem to hold moisture as well. Buckwheat has an almost dirt-like flavor (as you've guessed by my last posts), but seemed to grow on me. Brown rice is by far my favorite. It was versatile, moist, not too crumbly, and cheaper than some of the others I've seen. This is only a small sampling and I've got more to try. I can't wait.

Now, for those of you who wondered about me cheating: I did. After the first week and a half, I realized that I was about to throw away or give away perfectly good food just to do this challenge. That seems silly to me, especially on a stipend. It made me reassess why I did this in the first place. I was bored cooking the same types of things. I wanted to try new recipes. Bam. Let me eat my leftovers and bits in peace, but expand my horizons. This was a perfect balance for me and one I intend to carry into April.

Overall: This month was really rewarding. Even after a rocky start and a lot of frustration with eating out (free bread everywhere!), I started to get into the groove. I've got a growing list of gluten-free foods that are appetizing, satisfying, and easily adaptable to lots of food allergies. Plus, I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve than before. What more could I ask for?

If you'd like to venture on a similar journey or could use more sites to help you along, I recommend these, in no particular order:

Gluten Free Girl and The Chef
Gluten Free Goddess
Simply Gluten Free
Gluten Free Mommy

Friday, April 1, 2011

GF Batter Fried Fish and Mushrooms


I could go into a bunch of backstory and crap, but let's cut to the chase here.

1) I used buckwheat flour so it looks like mud.

2) Whoever came up with this recipe is a GENIUS! No struggling to create a crushed Chex-mix or cornmeal batter, just smooth sailing and good results.

I am a staunch fried seafood fan, but I don't make it at home. Why? You can't get crazy puffy batter fried to a greasy crisp fish like a fast food restaurant at home. Until now. Oil spill, why must you be so far away! I could put you to good use!

I guess I should also add 3) I ran out of oil and couldn't use my deep fryer. So I used less oil on lower heat and got totally greasy, greasified, Grease Fish. Which is fine with me.

Try. Fry. Eat with gluten free tartar sauce and Hooter's sauce. You were totally gonna forget the Hooter's weren't you. It's okay. I remind you. Don't worry that you've eaten nothing nutritionally sound and focus on the fact that fish is healthy! So are mushrooms! Win!