Monthly Archives: April 2009

Eat your veggies

As the weather warms up (at least here in Los Angeles), it means it’s time to bring that grill that’s been hibernating back into action. Grilling vegetables is one of my favorite ways to prepare them as you get the fullĀ  flavor of each veggie. It’s also amazingly simple. Here are a few tips to making great grilled vegetables.

First, the most obvious thing is to pick fresh vegetables. Pay attention when you’re at the market and you’ll have much better results when you get home.

Next, I find that generally simple is best for the grill. Just wash your veggies, slice accordingly, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put on the grill. For asparagus, no need to cut the ends off, just bend and they should snap off. The portobellos above were marinated for about 20 minutes in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

For eggplant, once it’s sliced, I recommend salting it to remove any bitterness. Just sprinkle salt on the slices and let sit until you see moisture on the surface, then wipe away the water with a towel. Repeat for the other side, then grill as usual.

Okay, now get ready, because I’m about to let you in on the recipe my all time favorite grilled appetizer. If you like mushrooms, you will love this. Take a few white mushrooms, wash and remove the stalks. Sprinkle the insides of each mushroom with a fair amount of salt, put directly onto the grill and cover. The salt pulls the natural moisture from the mushrooms into the center to make little mushroom juice shots. They are so amazing and simple I can’t even tell you, you’ll just have to try it.

Along with these veggies, Shawn and I finally tried out some vegan blue cheese. I will admit that I only tried this for the novelty factor considering I did not like blue cheese when I was a vegetarian. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. It was rich and flavorful and went amazingly well with the vegetables.

I can’t wait till summer comes and more BBQ’s will be in order.

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Bunnies and chicks oh my!

Springtime means cute little creatures come out to play. Instead of filling the Easter baskets entirely with candy, although there was a great deal of that as well, a few little critters snuck in. Plans were made to make a bunny cake and some mini-mango cheesecakes but each endeavor was vetoed as everyone had had their fill of sweets for quite a long time.

These little fluff balls were made fairly quickly and assembled even faster thanks to my trusted hot glue gun. In the end, these are even better than chocolate critters as they last much longer than the time it would take you to eat the candy. Not to mention they’re adorable. I also made some little origami bunnies and furry bunny ears. Oh I think I would be happy making all things bunny forever.

Another very exciting thing is that I finally shelled out the money to buy myself a stainless steel bento box. Okay, it wasn’t that much money, but I’d been holding out. I try to bring my lunch to work with me most of the time, but throwing a sandwich or leftovers in some tupperware just isn’t that inspiring. Having an adorable metal bento box to put my food in, on the other hand, makes me want to fill it with delcious meals. It’s rare that I make a meal thinking about having it for lunch the next day but I was excited to fill my new little lunch box with rice, toasted seaweed and teriyaki baked un-chicken. It tasted great and was that much better since I knew there wasn’t any chemicals leaching into my food from a plastic container. Yay!

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Spring Eggs

I’m gonna first put out the disclaimer that I’m not a fan of Easter. I’m not religious and most of the related celebrations just don’t excite me. On the other hand, I am a fan of springtime and bunnies. I also like having an excuse to experiment and make new treats. Here’s to trying to make something great out of something you’re not into.

After having a taste of some vegan Cadbury creme eggs made by Vegyogini of Hugger Food, I couldn’t stop thinking about making some of my own. I think this is a pretty strange obsession considering that I didn’t even like Cadbury eggs when I wasn’t vegan. While I tried to put the idea out of my head, I found myself reading all about the fondant filled eggs. When the topic of Easter baskets came up, I finally decided it had to be done, along with some peanut butter eggs.

I started out with the peanut butter eggs, as I’ve made peanut butter cups before and thought it would be easier to try out the egg molds on something I was familiar with. I melted some chocolate chips in a double boiler and thickly coated the insides of the mold. The mold I used was made of silicone and was super easy to just pop the hardened eggs out when they were done. Another option would be to use plastic eggs and line them with aluminum foil. The important thing is to make sure the top edges of the eggs are well coated in the mold as this is the area that will seal to the other half of the egg. I let the chocolate set in the fridge for about half an hour while I prepared the peanut butter filling.

Peanut Butter Filling

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla

Simply mix the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla together to form a smooth sweet peanut butter filling. If your peanut butter has been sitting around for awhile, refrigerated or just otherwise dry, add peanut oil back into the mixture to soften it.

I filled the hardened chocolate shells with the peanut butter filling and refrigerated again for about half an hour until they were firm enough to handle easily. Next came the experimental part. I popped the eggs out of the mold onto a cookie tray. I then took a knife and heated it on the oven. I then melted the outer edge of the chocolate egg with the hot knife and pressed it together with another egg half. The key to this process is keeping your hands clean and the eggs cool.

For the creme eggs, I went with a basic poured fondant recipe. There are a number of different ways to go about this: cooked fondant, food processor fondant, quick fondant… Ultimately I went with the one I thought would have the right semi-liquid consistency. I prepared the chocolate shells as above, making them slightly thicker to accommodate the warm fondant filling.

Poured Fondant

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 Tbs corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the sugar, corn syrup and water together in a small sauce pan over high heat, stirring constantly. Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture just above 90 degrees but do not let it get to 100. The fondant should be smooth and pourable but not too thin. Remove from heat, add extract and stir to combine fully. Let cool slightly and spoon into the chocolate shells. Refrigerate to harden and assemble the same as the peanut butter cups.

The consistency of the fondant creme eggs came out surprisingly like the actual thing, but perhaps a touch firmer. They were sugary sweet chocolate treats, and if you like the original, you’ll definitely like the veganized version. I personally liked the ones made by Vegyogini better as they didn’t have a pure sugar taste because of the Earth Balance. The peanut butter cups came out wonderfully though. Next time I might make them half eggs as it’s quite a lot of sweetness.

Despite my initial disclaimer, I really enjoyed making these and there may be some more Easter treats on the way. Happy springtime!

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