Monthly Archives: May 2009

chocolate chip cookie heaven

Once upon a time I thought I had found the way to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever but my quest for delicious cookies continued. The problem with my early attempts was that it relied heavily on refrigerating the dough overnight which just doesn’t work for me. When I want cookies, I want them immediately. Not to mention, I found the results inconsistent, every batch coming out a little differently. I’ll be the first to admit that cookies are not my forte, but that’s really a result of me liking cookies more than any other treat, chocolate chip cookies especially. I just have no time for sub-par cookies in my life, so I generally wouldn’t even try to make them if I didn’t think the result was what I wanted.

Then this magical recipe entered my life. It’s not only the easiest thing ever, but it also doesn’t include any egg replacer that causes so many cookie mishaps. I messed around with this quite a lot but it is the simplest version that works the best.

There is a problem with these cookies though, you will not be able to stop eating them. They’re crispy and amazing. When still warm, they have the perfect chewiness. These are my dream cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c Earth Balance, melted

1/2 c brown sugar

1/3 c granulated sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

1 c flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

chocolate chips (I use about 6 oz)

Preheat oven to 300°

Mix EB and sugars with electric mixer until they are combined and have a sort of gelatinous, smooth texture. Add in the water and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until you have a very sticky dough. Be careful not to over mix. Add in your chocolate chips. Spoon onto a cookie sheet in globs about the size of a tablespoon. They will spread out so don’t worry about the shape.

Cook for 14 minutes. Make sure you let them cool for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack, or eating.

Enjoy!

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French Toasties

Hi, my name is Alix and I’m a toast addict. You may think I’m joking when I say that but it is entirely true. I have had an unhealthy obsession with bread basically forever and toast has been a staple in my diet for years. If my day doesn’t start with toast, it generally doesn’t go right. When I get my hands on a fresh loaf of bread, I’m happier than a kid who got a pony for Christmas. This week, an unexpected trip to a not-so-local farmer’s market provided me an amazing loaf of rustic Italian bread. It was a soft loaf, with a thick crust that wasn’t too crunchy; the perfect thing for french toast.

I woke up already fantasizing about the delicious breakfast I was going to have when I realized that I had no tofu, a key ingredient for my usual French Toast recipe. Not to be detered, I brainstormed my own recipe. To my surprise, it was just as good as my usual. I can’t take all the credit, as having fresh bread makes all the difference, but I will say this was simple and remarkably good.

Vegan French Toast

makes about 4 servings

1 cup vanilla soy milk

1 Tbsp Earth Balance, melted

1 Tbsp corn starch

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

4-6 thick slices of your favorite bread

Whisk together all ingredients (except the bread) in a large bowl. Dip the bread in the liquid and let soak. Heat a bit of oil in pan on medium high. When the oil is hot, place the soaked bread in the pan and cook until the outside layer is slightly crisp. Flip carefully and cook the other side. Lower the heat slightly and cook the first side again to further brown the outside and make sure the inside isn’t soggy. Repeat with the other side. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.

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Yummy pot pies

Just a quick little update with a recipe for these amazing individual pot pies. They’re so yummy, so easy and darn cute too. I could probably eat them for every meal  (I totally had one for lunch and one for dinner today). This is the sort of thing where you could add pretty much any vegetable your heart desired and they would still come out well. This version is the clean out the freezer edition.

These pies are savory and rewarding. They’re not too big so it would be great to serve with some greens or fresh bread. They have a full flavor without being too heavy. I used a lot of corn and carrots so it was fairly sweet but was offset by the saltiness of the seitan. Also, just for the record, this was my most successful batch of homemade seitan of record.

Seitan Pot Pie

makes 4 servings


1/2 onion, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp Safflower oil

2 cups mixed vegetables frozen or fresh (corn, peas, edamame, carrots etc.)

1 1/2 cups chopped seitan

2 cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp flour

1 package vegan puff pastry

First and foremost, take your puff pastry out of the freezer to defrost. It can take up to 40 minutes, so be patient. It does not need to be completely soft, but rather just pliable enough to unfold and cut. For me this is the hardest part, even though technically it is the easiest because you literally just have to do nothing. I’ve found a number of vegan puff pastries, both generic and healthy, so just make sure you check the label.

Next, heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and add the onions. Sautee on medium until they are soft and lightly browned.

Preheat the oven to 400°

At this point, add your vegetables. If you are using frozen ones, it’s fine if they aren’t defrosted. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes at which point the vegetable should be tender.

Add in the seitan and flour and stir thoroughly. Continue to stir for a few more minutes to let thicken. Spoon the filling into individual pie dishes.

Now, assuming your puff pastry has defrosted, it’s now time to cut out the tops. Unfold the pastry onto a flat surface and cut out circles slightly smaller than your pie dishes. Simply lay the circle on top of the filling. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool just enough to eat and serve.

While I made individual servings, you can easily make one single pie, the small ones are just a bit more fun.

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Dandies marshmallow ghost cake

A few months back when I heard the announcement that Chicago Soy Dairy would be making jet puffed vegan marshmallows, I already knew the first thing I would be baking with them. Marshmallows are the one thing that I have missed since I was a vegetarian. I love the sugary flavor, the soft texture and especially the taste when roasted over a flame. As a teenager, when I discovered marshmallows had gelatin in them, I was honestly devestated. Since then, I’ve made my own marshmallows with the kit from Angel Food and indulged in the true confection that is Sweet and Sarah’s marshmallows.

Last Halloween, when I was planning spooky desserts to make, I came across this cake decorated with miniature ghosts. Sadly, the adorably constructed ghosties were made out of marshmallows and it was really only their cylindrical shape that gave them their ghostly appearance. I was not pleased with how my homemade marshmallows turned out, otherwise I would have made another stab at creating cylindrical ones myself. Instead I found myself making  ridiculous frosting ghost cupcakes.When I heard about Dandies I was exstatic. Not only do I have another vegan marshmallow option, but I could finally fulfill my dream of making a ghost cake.

I wanted a dark cake so I baked up a chocolatey coffee cake. I topped the bottom layer with a few Dandies just to see how they would bake. They puffed up in the oven and turned a beautiful golden brown. Though I had initially made a vanilla frosting go to go with it, I used so much to cover the cake that I had to top it off with some left over cookies and cream frosting. I then made my little ghost friends by sticking the Dandies on toothpicks and frosting their heads with vanilla frosting. The cake turned out amazingly. It was decadent with a contrast of rich chocolate and coffee with vanilla and cookies. My favorite part was the Dandies baked in to the center. Not only did it taste great, but it looked awesome; a perfect combination of spooky and cute.

We were so excited about the cake, Shawn made a little animation from it full of cute Dandies ghosts. I love it! I also had a ton of fun roasting these guys with a creme brulee torch (as we have an electric oven and no burners).

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Bicycle photos and Cinefamily nostalgia

Just a quick update to let all you vegans know about some cool upcoming events that you won’t want to miss.

Pics or it didn't happen

First of all, if you’ve been missing the tasty decadence that was Doomie’s Home Cookin’ you have a chance this Saturday to bask in the glory days. Team Midnight Ridazz is hosting a photo show to raise money for Aids Life Cycle. The show will feature photos from Los Angeles artists (including my favorite Studiodrome) documenting local bike culture. I don’t know the entire roster but I know a few of the associated artists have really amazing photographs and they’ll be selling for dirt cheap. Not to mention, it’s all for a good cause. Besides that though, DOOMIE’S will be catering the event, so you can come and get a taste of their food if you never had the chance or just miss it like crazy.

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater

Also, this Sunday, The Silent Movie Theater is having a rummage and bake sale. From their website:

Sunday, May 10th, from noon-5pm, is our First Annual Cinefamily Rummage and Bake Sale, a wonderful opportunity for all of you to come by and sift through (and purchase!) the various relics and oddities that have been cluttering the theater’s hallways, stockrooms, and storage spaces since we opened. Items range from the typical (audio and film equipment) to the quaint (vintage books and posters) to the NSFW (seriously, I can’t even print it here). Come for the delicious treats, stay to pick out something special from our magical stockpile of weirdness. You might even find something for your mom (she mentioned you don’t call enough).

Besides the fact that this is a really cool place and I’m sure they’re going to have amazing things for sale, there will be cupcakes from Vegan Bake Sale for you to enjoy while you browse. The Silent Movie Theater is one of my favorite theaters in Los Angeles and has some really fantastic screenings. This theater is one of the few places you can see rare films in amazing condition and obscurities that will blow your mind. Despite the name, not all the movies are silent, but they do have a handful of those as well. They’re also a non-profit so all the proceeds go to obtaining even more awesome films to share. If you can’t make it to this sale, you should still check out the theater if you have a chance.

The Silent Movie Theater is located at 611 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, 90036

Anyway, I’ll be there! You should be there! We should all be there! See you this weekend.

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Growing things

I’ve devoted the past week to home renovation. This involves simple spring organization like cleaning out my closet as well as a lot of other projects that have been waiting for the right season. For one, I plastered and painted our bathroom which was quite an arduous task. Luckily, I was able to offset the toxic paint fumes and dust with a bit of time outdoors creating a balcony garden.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not at all gifted when it comes to growing things. The only plant that I’ve been able to keep alive thus far is a single stalk of lucky bamboo that has now traveled with me from my past four residences to my current place. On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that you can be good at pretty much anything if you practice, so I’m trying again and going all out with a very small vegetable and herb garden and a few succulents.

If all goes as planned, soon I will have heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and cayenne peppers grown fresh to add to dishes. I’m even more excited for the herbs as the basil was so fragrant, it took a great deal of willpower to not just eat it right then.

I came into possession of some recycled pots of various sizes and filled them with some succulents and small cacti. There are some really strange looking succulents, like the lithop, that are just so cool. I honestly don’t even know what some of the plants I got were, but they look awesome. Also, some of the pots were extremely small so the tiny cacti worked out perfectly. I’m also particularly fond of an adorable little cacti with a name something like Red-headed Irish that has a few little clovers on the bottom.

Just a few hours spent planting and we now have our own garden oasis. Here’s to hoping everything survives. I can’t wait for the time when we have some real space to plant things.

I’ve also discovered the joy of baking mini-cheesecakes. I have been putting off trying these because of a lack of options for vegan graham crackers to use in the crust. I finally settled on some to try and went with a basic cheesecake recipe. I topped it off with an attempt at a vegan lemon jello. Unfortunately, even though it tasted amazing, the jello didn’t solidify and it was really more of a lemon sauce.

Since the mini-cheesecakes are obviously much smaller than regular cheesecakes, I ended up only using half the recipe with another half left over to be made. I got a little experimental and made a spiced molassas cheesecakes which were yummy but didn’t quite cut it for my standards. In any case, I will definitely be making more mini-cheesecakes as they are the perfect size for a little treat. They can be fancied up for special occasions or just eaten as a sweet little finger food. I predict mini-cheesecakes are gonna be the next cupcake.

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San Francisco vegan

This past weekend, Shawn and I went on a mini-road trip up to San Francisco with his sister, Amy. We packed some tofurky sandwiches and hit the road on Friday afternoon and arrived later that night. We were lucky enough to be hosted by Shawn and Amy’s childhood friend Cristen and her husband Tim. I’ve been to San Francisco before but haven’t had an opportunity to try out many of the the vegan eats around town. Before we left, we got some great recommendations from veg friends on where to try out. There were so many places to try, we were only able to hit up a few in the two days we were there.

The first place we checked out was Ike’s Place for some vegan sandwiches. We had been warned about the lines but it was a beautiful day out and it didn’t take too long to get our food. We ordered the vegan Meatless Mike, a sort of meatball sub and the vegan Eli Manning, a tofurky sandwich with garlic sauce, avocado, mushroom and soy cheese. I had been loading up on tofurky on the way up, so I was much more interested in the meatball sub, but the Eli Manning was really amazing. It’s easy to make a decent sandwich but it’s no small task to make a great sandwich. The flavors in the Eli Manning were perfectly balanced. It was not overloaded with toppings but had all the tastes you wanted in each bite. The bread was fresh and the whole thing was truly fantastic.

One of the places that we absolutely had to go to was MaggieMudd for vegan sundaes. While we frequent Scoops here in LA for amazing vegan ice cream, it’s not the same as a sundae. Shawn got a decked out Tarmack lover with three scoops of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream and topped off with whipped cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce and peanuts. I don’t even know how he ate this whole thing, it was so huge. I went with a more traditional mini-waffle sundae. A waffle cone filled with chocolate mint cookie ice cream and topped with marshmallow sauce and whipped cream. It was super tasty and quite a treat. Everyone was craving more for the next day we were there. I’m glad it’s in SF since it’s not something I would want to have all the time, but it’s a great once in a while indulgence.

We also visited Weird Fish to test out the vegan fish and chips. The vegan fish is actually either batter fried tofu or seitan, which of course we tried both of. The seitan comes with a vegan tartar sauce while the tofu comes with a sweet and sour sauce. They both come on a bed of regular and sweet potato fries. The seitan was very flavorful and fresh and the tofu was super soft and moist. Both were great but the tofu was definitely the favorite. Again, while I really enjoyed trying out this place, it’s not something I would want to get on a regular basis as one can only eat so much fried food. We did discover though that they do have vegan pancakes and breakfast options so I’m sure we’ll be back to try those.

For me, one of the highlights was going to Rainbow Grocery. I was honestly mesmerized by the great amount of bulk foods and vegan options. There are some great grocery stores these days for vegans but Rainbow Grocery was really exciting. I wanted to buy everything! They seriously had everything you need. I restrained myself and only got some vegan raspberry flavored gelatin and chocolate drops. We tried some of the baked goods but I honestly couldn’t even eat them. My vanilla cupcake tasted like a corn muffin.

On our last night we went out to dinner at Greens. While the restaurant is all vegetarian, they are able to make a number of the dishes vegan, and a few are already vegan. We tried a few different entrees and appetizers and everything was generally good. I wasn’t particularly blown away and the prices were a bit much for the quality. I really enjoyed the appetizers we had, a carrot ginger soup and a greens and citrus salad. Shawn ordered the pea ravioli which was quite tasty and I had some vegetable skewers which were good, but nothing exciting. I think I had a case of simply ordering the wrong thing, as everyone else was extremely pleased with their meals. On the other hand, our waiter was so awful it was comical. He kept disappearing and forgetting about us. By the end of the night we were all laughing because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Luckily we all had a sense of humor about it instead of getting too annoyed.

On our way home we decided to stop in Fresno and managed to find Au Lac Cafe. This vegetarian restaurant ended up being a big surprise. It was exciting enough to find someplace that wasn’t fast food not too far off the freeway, but this place was super good. They had a relatively small menu, and it didn’t seem like anything we hadn’t had before. I ordered the peppered veggie fish, expecting something similar to what you might find at a Thai vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. On the contrary, the fish was not only super moist, but the pepper sauce had a unique, full flavor. Mixed with some soft rice and steamed veggies, not only was this dish delicious, it was filling and satisfying. These chunks of veggie fish were flaky and soft and I know I will be fantasizing about them the next time I order some veggie fish around here. There is no comparison between these and the veggie fish patties I’m used to.

Shawn ordered some garlic veggie chicken which was equally fantastic. Again, the veggie chicken strips were moist and with no un-savory chewiness that you sometimes get with fake meats. The garlic flavor was strong and delicious but not overpowering. Just writing about this I want to go back. Not everything on the menu was vegan but it clearly told you what was only vegetarian. They had some of the meats for sale in bulk but I was concerned about bringing the frozen food back when we still had quite a drive back home. Right now I’m really regretting that decision.

They also had a really awesome RV out back. I’m sort of in love with all the little animals painted on this thing, including that happy sheep you see up top. If you’re ever in Fresno, I definitely recommend checking this place out.

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