VeganMoFo #4: Chickpea Leek Soup

I’ve been sick for a few days and today is grey and rainy, so obviously it’s soup time! I love love love soup. Could eat it every day. Well, at least when it’s cold out, which means about nine months in Chicago. The problem is, Dan and Matilda aren’t so stoked on soup. Usually a loaf of bread and some olive oil for dipping will cure that though. This particular soup I start to crave as soon as fall hits. It’s so velvety and luscious and simple, with just leeks, garlic, potato, and chickpeas. It’s from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, only tweaked a little bit to use canned beans, which makes it pretty fast to pull together. (The only other recipe I’ve tried from the book is the basic risotto recipe, which is perfect and I use all the time as a base. It has teeny bits of celery that stay crunchy for a nice contrast.) I’m still a total loser when it comes to photographing soup, so it looks like a mess of yellow goo, but it’s pretty outstanding, especially sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and a drizzle of olive oil. The perfect thing to soothe my itchy throat.

Hey, that’s a lot of leeks!

VeganMoFo #3: Scones!

There’s one good thing about having nagging who demand that I wake up no later than 7:00 ever, even on weekends: A quiet apartment definitely calls for making scones. When Dan and Matilda are asleep I can have the kitchen all to myself to throw together some dough and have it all cleaned up by the time I’m finished with my coffee. I think I love scones more than any other baked good because I can always find ingredients for new combinations within my pantry staples. Dried fruit, frozen fruit, nuts, citrus, they can all usually be found in my kitchen, even before the weekly grocery-store trip.
I’ve tried a lot of different scones over the years, and I think that these almond scones might be the best I’ve ever had. That whole loaded-with-Earth-Balance thing surely doesn’t hurt. The recipe is adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan. It’s the only recipe I’ve tried from the book so far, but it sure has pretty pictures. These are totally fantastic with lemon curd or any kind of sweet jam, since the scones themselves have very little sugar.

Almond Scones

3/4 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
coarse sugar and sliced almonds for top

Preheat oven to 400. Whisk together almond milk and flax seeds and set aside. In a food processor or blender, grind together 1/2 cup blanched almonds and sugar. In a larger bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add almond-sugar mixture. Cut in margarine. Add almond extract to milk mixture, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients until combined. Fold in chopped almonds, then turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and pat into a round about an inch high. Cut into eight triangles and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Sprinkle tops of scones with sugar and sliced almonds and bake for about 22 minutes.

I also made mini versions of these scones for an after-slumber-party breakfast and they were a huge hit. And both full size and mini turned out nicely crunchy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside.

And now for something completely different. Well, you know, as different as one scone can be for another scone. Which probably isn’t that different, actually. These carrot-orange-walnut scones were more cakey than a typical scone, which was actually fine, as the texture made it sort of like eating carrot cake for breakfast, only slightly more socially acceptable.

Carrot-orange-walnut Scones

3/4 cup soy milk
3 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 finely grated carrots, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, minus 3 Tbsp
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
8 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 425. Whisk together soy milk and flax seed and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, then cut in Earth Balance. Add carrots, sugar, and orange zest to milk mixture, then add to dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and pat into a round about an inch high. Cut into eight triangles and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake for about 22 minutes.

Orange glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice

Mix together sugar and juice until smooth, then drizzle onto cooled scones.

VeganMoFo Day 2: Matilda’s Birthday Cake(s)

Last weekend was Matilda’s thirteenth birthday. Scary, I know. And not only do I now live with a teenager, I experienced my first slumber party since I was a teenager. Sure there was a lot of giggling, but hey, I got to make cake! And hummus. And pizza. And since we’re apparently now mini food fetishists, we had mini Bundt cakes. I used the French vanilla cupcake recipe from have cake, will travel but replaced the chocolate extract with almond extract. Holy crap are those things good. They were super moist but not wet and crisped up nicely on the outside. They were a hit with a room full of omnis, which is also a plus. But since plain vanilla cakes aren’t thirteenth-birthday-level festive, they were filled with lemon curd (yeah, I might be obsessed) and drizzled with a lemon glaze and garnished with fresh strawberries. The final pic with the glaze was a little, uh, gross, but the finished cakes were sure tasty.

And because every vegan loves hummus, here’s some roasted-garlic hummus, lots of parsley. Posting this pic might just be an excuse to show off the super cute Eva Zeisel dish, though.

VeganMoFo Day 1: It’s Food, Just Really, Really Small

Recently my friend Mary hosted a mini food party. The original idea was just to make a few tiny, maybe complicated, things, but soon the guest list tripled, and we all panicked that there wouldn’t be enough food. Man were we wrong. There was so much food that even the champion eaters among us met their limits (and by “met their limits” I mean “retreated to the backyard in case they had to puke”). There’s something about making food very small that makes you think you can eat at least twice as much of it. But before the coma set in, everything was really delicious. Some of the highlights (desserts first, of course):

Mary’s chocolate-chip cheesecakes

Megan’s mini apple pies with vanilla ice cream, homemade caramel sauce, and peanuts

Mini root beer floats! With mini straws!

Mary’s lemon cheesecakes

Cass’s cinnamon rolls

Cass’s chocolate-chip cookies. Maybe the best chocolate-chip cookies I’ve ever had.

Megan’s mini trifles. Well, mini might be a bit misleading. The glasses may have been small, but it was still a lot of trifle. I don’t know how she makes that vegan whipped cream (it’s sort of half custard, half whipped cream) but it’s incredible.

Lemon and lime curd tartlets, by me. Awhile ago I threatened to make an entire pie out of just Bryanna’s lemon curd and Soyatoo. This was my not-so-pathetic answer to that desire. So sour, so good.

Megan’s mini burgers

Mary’s sushi, delicious as always

Mini tortilla cups filled with guacamole and garnished with mango and cherry tomato. Mine.

Cherry tomatoes stuffed with mixed olive tapenade, by me. These were a pain in the ass, to say the least. The next time I’m browsing through Martha Stewart’s Hor D’oeuvres Handbook and I say, “Ooh, those are cute,” I have to think about the crazy amount of work involved. Cutting the centers out of a couple of pints of cherry tomatoes takes forever. They sure were tasty though.

Mary’s grilled BLTs with basil mayonnaise

Candice’s twice-baked potatoes (really excellent, especially considering Candice had never even eaten a twice-baked potato before)

The leftovers. Yeah, we might’ve made too much food.


Last week my twelve-year-old stepdaughter moved in with us. Food-wise this is a little on a scary side, as a normal kid who’s used to a lot of Kraft mac & cheese being forced to eat vegan is a bit of a difficult thing. But even more difficult than that: the kid hates onions! She’ll let them slide if they’re in a store-bought jar (salsa, pasta sauce), but otherwise the onions turn her off the whole meal. Well, this would not do. If my hands don’t smell like onions and garlic, I probably didn’t eat well the night before. Onions make everything better. I suspect there’s even a way to put onions in cookies and have it be delicious. So I decided to dive in and confront this thing head on: ratatouille. There’s no way to take the onions out of that, at least not with good results. And the impossible happened; not only did she eat it, she loved it. She even said she couldn’t taste the onions and didn’t even pick them out. Success! I don’t think this means I’ll be making French onion soup anytime soon, but you never know. Now on to the next challenge: kale.

(I used a recipe from some old issue of Martha Stewart Living I’ve had ripped out and stuffed in a folder for who knows how long. The eggplant and zucchini were roasted before they were stewed with everything else, so they kept their shape nicely. And, funny enough, the recipe called for too many onions for my taste, but otherwise it was excellent, though I can’t seem to find it online.)

Pineapple-Coconut Muffins

Since I had such success with the cherry-coconut muffins, I decided to use some of the pineapple sitting in the fridge to make a variation. But I have a problem. When I use fresh fruit in muffins, I think, “I love fruit. Fruit is good. So more fruit will make these even better.” And, yes, loading a muffin with fruit can be tasty, but it can also make it heavy. So these need a little tweaking—and a little restraint on my part—before they’re light and fluffy and perfect. But still, a nice Sunday-morning breakfast. The recipe is basically the same as the cherry-coconut muffins, with somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple swapped out for the dried cherries and the zest of one orange added.

Broiled Tofu and Beets with Lemon-dill Yogurt Sauce

A friend of mine is on an extreme elimination diet and is seemingly eating nothing but beets, greens, brown rice, and quinoa. OK, it’s not quite that extreme, but almost. Two words: no salt. But he has inspired me to finally cook beets. I’ve eaten beets plenty, but usually on a salad, where someone else had to deal with the pink hands. Seeing Martha Stewart prepare beets while wearing latex gloves scared me off. But I finally dove in, and it wasn’t bad. The mess rinses off no problem. And beets are delicious, especially with this yogurt sauce. The sauce was maybe a touch too sweet, so next time I’ll reduce, or maybe leave out, the maple syrup (and maybe increase the lemon). But all in all a winning combination. And the sauce was great with the kale too.

Broiled Tofu and Beets with Lemon-dill Yogurt Sauce

1 lb. extra-firm tofu, sliced into eight pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 bunch small beets, cut into even chunks
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup

Press tofu for at least ten minutes to remove excess moisture. Whisk together olive oil and soy sauce and dip tofu pieces in the mixture. Drizzle olive oil and maple syrup over beets, season with salt and pepper, and toss. Place tofu and beets on foil-lined baking sheet and place in broiler. I set my broiler and high and cooked for nearly twenty minutes, tossing the beets every once in a while and turning tofu halfway through. But keep on eye on it, as broilers can vary a lot.

Lemon-dill Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup plain soy yogurt (I used Silk)
2 Tbsp chopped dill
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 tsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with tofu and beets.

Teese Baked Mac and Cheese

I’ve been experimenting with a decent mac & cheese using Teese vegan cheese for a while now, and I think this is the closest I’ve come to deliciousness yet. As usual, there are still things I think I’d tweak, but overall it seemed to be a success. The interior was gooey but not runny, and the large bread crumbs on top added a nice crunch. Curiously, the Teese I sprinkled on top (below the breadcrumbs) didn’t melt much in the oven, but every last bit that was stirred into the macaroni and sauce melted wonderfully, so next time it’s all going inside, which should make it even moister. This batch turned out a bit on the spicy side, which was nice, as I’m still working my way through an especially potent batch of cayenne pepper, but if you don’t have super cayenne, you want to add more.

Teese Baked Mac & Cheese

1 Tbsp Earth Balance
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
a few grinds of black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 cups Teese vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded
1-2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted and crumbled into pieces
1/2 pound macaroni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni until it is almost al dente but still slightly undercooked. Melt Earth Balance in small saucepan and add 1 Tbsp flour. Cook until it gets bubbly, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining flour, water, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, turmeric, paprika, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, whisking often, until the sauce thickens but is still runny enough to drip off of the whisk. Mix in mustard. Add sauce and Teese to cooked macaroni in a casserole dish (I used an 8 x 6 1/2 inch Pyrex dish) and mix until well combined. Top with breadcrumbs and cook for about twenty minutes, with a couple of minutes under the broiler if you want the breadcrumbs extra crunchy.

Lemon-Pine-Nut Scones with Vegan Lemon Curd

The way I see it, vegan scones usually have one of two problems: 1) They’re so dry you fear losing a tooth every time you bite into them, or 2) they’re too moist and fluffy, resembling flat muffins more than scones. I always used to use a recipe from Everyday Food magazine, which was touted as lower fat and didn’t use any eggs. But these always fell on the too-fluffy side, although if I put enough cranberries or blueberries in them I didn’t so much care. But this time I wanted nice, semi-dry, flaky scones. This lemon-pine-nut version isn’t quite there, they were a little too floury and fluffy, but with some tweaking I think they’ll get there. And they don’t have two sticks of butter like so many of the recipes I consulted.

Lemon-Pine-Nut Scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
6 Tbsp margarine
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup soy milk, plus more for brushing tops of scones
1/4 cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in margarine with a pastry cutter until it is in small sandy pieces. Mix in lemon juice and soy milk, turn out onto clean work surface, and pat into a round about 1-1 1/2 inches high. Use a bench scraper or other semi-sharp straight edge to cut dough into eight triangles. Brush each scone with soy milk and sprinkle with sugar (I use the vegan sugar carried at Whole Foods, which is nice and coarse and makes for a crunchy top, much like sanding sugar; finer-grained sugar will create more of a crust on top). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment and bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool (the scones will be a bit tender when they’re warm but will get crunchier as they cool).

Oh, and about that lemon curd. It is forking incredible. I used a recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan, which I’ve been eying forever. I should’ve made it the night before so it could have time to cool and thicken, but it was still delicious as a sort of sauce on the scones. But once it did cool, it was so thick and gelatinous. It’s the lemon curd I’ve dreamt about ever since the Chicago Diner so cruelly decided to make their wonderful lemon coconut cake special-order only. Maybe soon I’ll make a lemon-curd pie, which would satisfy my urge to eat the stuff with a spoon but wouldn’t feel so pathetic.

Coconut-Cherry Muffins

This is officially the first baked-good recipe that I have developed 100% on my own, with no inspiration or measurements or anything from another source. And I expected to have to make a few trials, tweak it a bit here and there, but the first time was pretty perfect. Beginner’s luck I guess. The muffins came out light and airy, moist but not soggy, and the flavors were wonderful together. The dried Rainier cherries came from Trader Joe’s, one of those things that look good on the shelf so you buy them, thinking . . . some day. But now that my tiny little pantry cupboard is so full that things fall out of it when I open the door, it’s time to use up those some day items. But I’m sure these would work fine with any dried fruit. Maybe that dried mango I bought for some day.

Coconut-Cherry Muffins

Makes about 7 muffins

1/2 cup dried Rainier cherries, soaked in hot water until plump, then drained and chopped
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Shaved coconut

Mix together coconut milk and flax seed and set aside until gooey, then add canola oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking powder, then add wet ingredients and cherries to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Fill lined muffin tin almost to the top and crumble shaved coconut on top of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.