Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Daring Bakers: Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet

January's Daring Baker's Challenge was created by Astheroshe, and is something I had (past tense!)  absolutely no idea about.  Basically, it's an almond sponge cake with baked-in design on the cake.  It's fancy and French (it's named after the Mona Lisa), and is usually baked into multiple, very thin layers or filled with mousse or cream.  My original plan was to make the multiple thin layers, butttt I ran out of batter.... so I filled mine with pastry cream (others chose mousse, which I wish I would have done).  It was quite a task (the recipe provided required roughly 8,000 eggs), but I feel that it came out well.  I have a few changes for the next time I tackle this, though, which I'll mention at the end.  Here is my finished creation:

(Vegan) French Vanilla Chai Tea Entremet

For the Joconde & Joconde Decor Paste*:
I based this recipe off of Vegan Vistor's L'Opera Cake, with just a few tweaks

- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
*for the paste, add 2 tablespoons cocoa to 1/2 cup joconde batter

For the French Vanilla Chai Tea Pastry Cream:

- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1/4 cup French Vanilla (vegan) creamer
- 4 French Vanilla herbal tea bags
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Dash salt
- A few shakes cinnamon and cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Fancy Tools Needed:
- A Silpat or other non-stick baking mat
- Piping supplies, whether they be "serious" or a plastic bag with a corner cut off

1. Start with your joconde, as it will need time to harden in the freezer.  Grab three bowls: add the dry ingredients to one, and stir to combine.
2. In the second bowl, wisk together the almond milk and vinegar.  Then, add to the dry mixture in batches.  Mix, but do not overmix!  It will look like pancake batter.
3. Steal about 1/2 cup batter and place it in the third bowl.  This is your makeshift decor paste that will be used to pipe your design.  Add the cocoa OR coloring of your choice, wisk, and set aside.
4. Place your Silpat on an ungreased baking sheet (and if you'll be doing an elaborate pattern, throw your design under the Silpat to trace, but remember to remove it before baking!).  Assemble whatever you'll be using to pipe, and fill the bag with your decor paste.

5. Pipe your design(s) on the Silpat, and toss in the freezer for 15-25 minutes (to harden).  Once this time passes, cover the design with the rest of the batter and throw back in the freezer.  This time for 30 minutes.
6. While your design freezes, make your pastry cream (or other filling)!  For mine, I warmed the milk in a saucepan over medium- heat, and steeped four bags of herbal tea.  Once the milk was flavored yum-fully, I added the sugar and salt.
7. Continue to stir while you add the flour and cornstarch + wisk to thicken.  Don't stop, or it'll stick!
8. Cover with wax paper (literally on the top of the cream, or it'll grow a lovely film!), and refrigerate.
9. Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
10. Bake your joconde for roughly 10 minutes.  It's done once it is golden brown in color, and the edges seem to come away from the mat.  Allow time for it to cool.
11. Once cooled, flip the baking sheet onto a powdered-sugar or floured (or non-stick) surface.  The design will be facing up.
12. Measure your springform pan.  Or, if you're lazy like me, guess how much you'll need to fill the outside ring of the mold, and cut parchment paper to fill the sides:

Photo courtesy of Astheroshe

13. Now, cut the cake into those measured-out sizes, and press the strip onto the edge of your pan.  You may also opt to cut out a circular bottom of cake:

Photo courtesy of Astheroshe

14. Fill with the pastry cream, and decorate!  I decided to make an extra "design" with my leftover decor paste to make it look fancier, and sifted some confectioners sugar + cocoa over the top.

Oh, and if you choose a smaller cake like I did, you'll have plenty of extra (super yummy) cake to dip in your coffee:

So, what would I change?

1. I would be sure to really, really grind down my almonds.  I loved the little bits I left in, BUT! it made it impossible to pipe.  I ended up actually busting the bag I was using, and had to settle for squiggles from a spoon instead of the fun, elaborate design I had originally envisioned.

2. I would make a light mousse filling.  Don't get me wrong, this pastry cream is great.  However, something about the two together is a little heavy and awkward for me.  I think the cream would be better for a crostada or maybe a beignet, while a light mousse would really make this dessert.  An espresso one would be AMAZING.

3. I would not use clumpy confectioners sugar to top it!  LAZY!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And Something Fried

Oh, in regards to my last post, I also had SEVEN sweet potatoes left after the big clean.  I made some fries, I made waffles, and then I made these:

(Vegan) Sweet Potato Pancakes

Kind of not the best picture, sowwy
Roughly 2 cups shredded sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons AP flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 yellow onion
2 tablespoons coconut milk
Shakes and shakes of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg (to taste)
Canola oil for frying

1. Chop the onion!  Shred the taters if you haven't already.
2. Grab a medium- sized mixing bowl, and throw in the sweet potatoes, flour/cornstarch, and spices.  Mix well before adding coconut milk, and again before tossing in the onion.  Taste and adjust spiced as needed.
3. Heat a skillet over medium-heat, and add a shallow pool of oil for frying.  Once hot, spoon 1/2 cup batter into skillet for each pancake.  Flip after about 3 minutes, or until you have a solid pancake that doesn't break apart when touched (and is golden brown/dark brown in color).
4. Place on a plate with a few paper towels to soak up a bit of that oil!  Serve with (vegan) sour cream and/or applesauce!

Monday, January 24, 2011

(Vegan) BBQ Sauce Overload

I did the monthly 'fridge cleanup, and when I finally put back what I had.. all that was in there was five different kinds of BBQ sauce, two bottles of Sriracha, half a package of collards, 1/4 a yellow onion, some mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, some garlic, and a Red Bull.  What the heck was I supposed to do with THAT?  I went to Whole Foods with a budget of $5 and my "ingredients" in mind.  I bought one package of seitan and some corn, and made this hearty delight--

BBQ Seitan with Garlic Collards

BBQ sauce of your choice (approx. 1 cup)
One container of seitan
3/4 cup corn
6-8 collard greens
4 cloves garlic
1/4 yellow onion
1/4 cup water
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Start your collards first, as they will need about an hour to cook through.  Add the water to a medium-sized saucepan, and throw on the medium heat.  
2. Chop the onion and mince the garlic, and toss it in the pan.  Stir constantly.
3. Cut the collards into strips, and add to the pan.  Stir between batches, and cover when all collards are in the pan.  Lower to a simmer, and stir every once in a while.  Simmer for at least 45 minutes- 1.5 hours.
5. Grab a small saucepan and warm up your corn.  Cook over medium- heat for about 8 minutes (stirring occasionally), and drain.
6. Grab a wok or frying pan, the oil, BBQ sauce, and seitan.  Warm your wok/pan over medium- heat.
7. Once ready, add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan.  Add a few pieces of seitan, and toss.  Add enough BBQ sauce to cover the seitan, and cook until you see a nice glaze.  Continue until all seitan is cooked.
8.  Throw the drained corn into the wok/pan, and toss to coat lightly.
9. Assemble and enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

THE best healthy lunch ever.

OMG.  I like, no, I love something that is healthy.  And easy to make.  And portable.  Hell yeah!

(Vegan) Lemon Pepper Tofu over Wild Rice

Perfectly Portable:)

(Makes enough for a workweek of lunches) 
2 cups wild rice (I used Lundberg Jubilee & Lundberg Black Japonica)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for cooking the rice)
2 packages extra firm tofu
2 lemons
1 avocado
2-4 tablespoons lemon pepper
Sea salt and pepper to taste 

I made this with time in mind, so it's super easy and doesn't involve much work.   
1.  Cook the rice ahead of time, so you can throw your lunches together in the morning.  Cook the rice according to package directions (will take one hour so plan ahead!).
2.  Cut the tofu into cubes, and warm a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.
3.  Throw in the tofu and stir constantly.  I didn't have time to press my tofu, so this was my bright idea of how to lose some of the water....
4.  Add the juice from one lemon.  Grate in some zest if you have the time!
5.  Mix and cook for a few minutes before adding the spices.
6. Mash the tofu with a fork, and cook for a few minutes.
7. Throw some of the rice and some of the tofu into your Tupperware of choice.  Chop up 1/4 of an avocado, and squeeze a lemon wedge over your meal to preserve the avocado until lunchtime).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Healthy 2011

Like everyone, I'm really trying to be healthier this year.  This concoction has been one of my go-to meals. I was inspired to cook with collard greens and lentils after watching an episode of Down Home with the Neely's on The Food Network.  I absolutely LOVE them, and every one of their meals looks so delicious.  The rest of the meal was inspired by my recipe for Seitan Tikka Masala.  I really wanted to cook with some garam masala, and this is what I came up with.  I went with the "kitchen sink" mind-set, and threw in random things I had laying around.  I don't know if this counts as a stew or a dish, but whatever it is, it's good.  Even my non-vegan-doesn't-like-healthy-foods boyfriend loved this.  It's a keeper!

(Vegan) Indian-Spiced Collards and Lentils


6-8 collard leaves
1 cup lentils
1 medium-sized yellow onion
1 medium-sized tomato
1 can crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
A few shakes salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, and chile pepper

1.  Chop the onion and tomato and set aside.  Mince the garlic and set aside.
2.  Grab a large pot and saute the onion and garlic over medium-heat.  I actually used 1/2 cup water to be healthier (and because I didn't have much oil).  Feel free to use either!  
3.  Once the onions begin to look translucent, throw in the spices to create a glaze.  Stir constantly.
4.  Add the chopped and crushed tomatoes, and toss in another 3/4 cup water. 
5.  Roll your collards and cut into strips.  Toss these into the pot, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for a good half-hour.
6.  While this is going on, cook your lentils according to the package.
7. Stir the lentils into the pot, and finish simmering.  
8.  Serve and feel skinny.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Easy Finger Foods

Happy New Year! I worked until well into the evening on New Year's, but I really wanted to make some fun finger foods for my boyfriend and friends to enjoy while watching Snooki take us into the New Year. Luckily, all of these snacks can be thrown together quite quickly (with some pre-service prep), and really satisfy a crowd.

New Year's Eve Finger Foods

(Vegan) Mexican Hot Dogs in Blankies:
- Vegan jumbo hot dogs 
- Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
- One package vegan bacon 

 - 2 medium tomatoes 
- 1/3 medium red onion 
- 1/2 jalopeno 
- 2 cloves garlic 
- Juice of 2 limes 
- Handful of cilantro 
- Salt and pepper to taste 

- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise 
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha 
- Pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar 

(Vegan) Loaded Potato Skins:

- 4 potatoes, baked
 - 3 tablespoons canola oil 
- 1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan cheese 
- A few shakes each of salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper
- 5 strips of Fakin Bacon
- 3/4 cup Daiya chedder cheese 
- 1/4 cup vegan sour cream 
- Chives or green onions for garnish

(Vegan) Deviled Tofu:

 - Recipe by Mo from Mo Betta Vegan 

(Vegan) Mini Bagel Pizzas

- Bag of whole wheat mini bagels
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- One can of pizza sauce 
- Daiya Mozzerella cheese 
- A few shakes Italian seasoning 

(Vegan) Mexican Hot Dogs in Blankies 
1. For the pico de gallo: Dice the tomatoes, onion, and jalopeno. Mince your garlic, and chop your cilantro. 
2. Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl, and add the lime juice, salt, and pepper. Done! 
3. For the Sriracha mayo: wisk ingredients together. The salt, pepper, and sugar are to taste, so play around with them. Feel free to add more sriracha if you're feeling crazy. Set aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 375°F. 
5. Cut the hot dogs in half, and wrap each in one piece of "bacon."
6. Roll each doggie in a dough triangle and place on a baking sheet.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
8. Top with Sriraca mayo and pico de gallo. 

(Vegan) Loaded Potato Skins 
1. If you haven't baked your potatoes already, do so first!  
2. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
3. Cook your "bacon" according to package directions.  Once cooled, crumble and set aside. 
4. Once they're soft, cut each lengthwise and scoop out the middle leaving a "bowl" before placing on a baking sheet.
5. Wisk together the oil, cheese, and spices.  Pour or brush mixture onto each potato skin.
6. Bake until crisp (about 10 minutes).
7. Fill each skin with cheese and crumbled Fakin Bacon.  
8. Place back in oven for another few minutes (until the cheese melts).
9. Garnish with sour cream, chives, and/or green onions. 

(Vegan) Mini Bagel Pizzas
1. Open or cut bagels in half.
2. Minch garlic and set aside.
3. Spread pizza sauce over each mini bagel, and top with garlic, cheese, and a few shakes Italian seasoning.
4. Throw in a toaster oven or broiler until the cheese melts!  Add fun toppings! 

... and to end the night:)  Happy New Year!