Sunday, February 27, 2011

The February Daring Bakers' Challenge

Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen was the host for February's Daring Bakers' Challenge (can I quickly mention that I do, indeed, have a sofa in my kitchen? Best idea ever if you don't have one!).  The challenge was actually a two-in-one: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies.  I loved this challenge because I have never had either of them previously, and they were both super easy to veganize.  I did my research, and a few options to replace the gelatin exist.  I decided to go with agar-agar (super expensive, but totally does the trick).  Here's what I came up with:

(Vegan) Panna Cotta with Mango Compote and Florentine Cookies


For the Panna Cotta:
- 3/4 can light coconut milk
- 1 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons agar-agar (I used the flakes)

For the Mango Compote:
- 2 1/2 mangoes
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Juice from 3 limes
- Juice from 1 large lemon

For the Florentine Cookies:
(I used the recipe from Daring Bakers, but changed a few things)
- 2/3 cup vegan butter
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup AP flour
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash salt
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup mixture
(3/4 molasses, 1/4 light corn syrup)*
* you can also use 1/4 cup dark brown corn syrup, but I wasn't looking to buy this

For the Panna Cotta:
1. Grab a medium-sized saucepan, and add the coconut milk, sugar, and agar-agar.  Let it sit for a minute before bringing to a simmer.  
2. Reduce heat, and simmer (stirring constantly) for 10-15 minutes.  You're looking to dissolve the agar-agar here.  It won't completely disappear, but you'll see a difference. 
3.  Remove from heat, and immediately wisk in yogurt and vanilla.  Wisk more!
4.  Pour into glasses or fancy ramekins, cover, and place in 'fridge.

For the Mango Compote:
1. Peel mangoes and gather all of the lovely chunks in a bowl.
2. Throw chunks in a food processor for a few seconds and pulse: you don't want to liquify the mangoes (although, you totally can and it'll be delicious), just make them into teeny pieces.
3. Meanwhile, heat the water, sugar, and juice in a small saucepan.  Wisk until the sugar dissolves.
4. Transfer the mangoes to a deep bowl before macerating with the hot, sugary liquid.

For the Florentine Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  
2. Grab a medium-sized saucepan and melt the butter.  As soon as it melts, turn off the heat.
3. Throw in your oats, sugar, flour, molasses and corn syrup mixture, almond milk, vanilla, and salt.
4. Mix!
5. Drop a spoonful onto a Silipat (or throw down some parchment paper), leaving plenty of room for each to spread a good inch-and-a-half around.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
7. Let the cookies cool while you melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan.
8. Once cooled, match up each cookie to one that seems to match.  Spread melted chocolate on the inside of one, and marry them.  Or, drizzle the chocolate on top!

Panna Cotta can be a assembled in two ways: in a pretty glass, or unmolded.  I did both because, well, it's more fun!  If you choose to layer your panna cotta and compote in a glass, be sure to refrigerate for a few minutes after adding each layer.  If unmolding, you'll have to use a paring knife to cut around the edges.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gossip Worthy Monday!!!

Sort of.  It's only me this time, but tonight is the second-to-last episode until the show goes on hiatus.  AGAIN.  Of course, that means a lovely dinner for one.  And a cocktail, of course.

This recipe is actually from Alex Guarnaschelli from the Food Network.  I saw this on an episode of her show, and put it in my recipe box for a special occasion.  Seems like the perfect fit.

(Vegan) Farfalle Pasta with Beet Vinaigrette and Parsley Pesto

I'm going to copy and paste her recipe, but if you'd like to see it on Food Network's site, click here!  I omitted the parmesan cheese because this recipe really doesn't need it, but feel free to use vegan parm if you'd like!


For the Parsley Pesto:

  • - Kosher salt
  • - 2 cups fresh curly parsley leaves
  • - 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • - 1/2 cup olive oil
  • - 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts

Beet Vinaigrette:

  • - 5 medium beets, thoroughly scrubbed and quartered (reserve and finely slice beet greens, if attached)
  • - 2 cups water
  • - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • - 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  • - 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • - Kosher salt
  • - 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • - 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (*optional)


1. For the parsley pesto: Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the kosher salt until the water tastes like seawater and stir to blend. Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately plunge leaves into an ice bath and allow to cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the leaves slightly and then put them in the blender with the sugar and olive oil. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add some water to facilitate blending. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the scallions and set aside in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta.
2. For the beet vinaigrette: Put the beet pieces in a medium saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Allow it to reduce until there is about 1/4 cup liquid. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and reduce again until you have only 1/4 cup left. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar and olive oil.
3. For the pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt; the pasta water should taste like seawater. Add the pasta to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until al dente (chewy but not hard or raw tasting) 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some pasta cooking liquid in case you need it later.
4. To serve: Pour the pasta into the bowl with the parsley pesto. Add the beet vinaigrette and butter and toss to blend. Add the Parmesan and finely sliced beet greens, if using. Serve immediately. Alternatively, you can drizzle the red beet vinaigrette over the pasta for a different color effect.

Enjoy!  Blair and Dan better NOT get together....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

I made these for my 2nd grade class!

The rose is from one of my students:)
The recipe for these mini- golden vanilla cupcakes and decadent buttercream icing is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  If you don't have this book, GET IT!  The recipe is super simple and always comes out perfect.  All I did to make them my own was: add some red food coloring, red and pink sanding sugar, one (mini!) chocolate chip each, and one of those cliche candy hearts.  Of course, I didn't realize that those little guys they aren't vegan!  I read the bag during class (I gave out the extras at the end of the day)- what a bummer!  I didn't eat any because I remember them tasting like nothing.... but still!  Fail!

Some of the raving reviews:
"Miss Amandah, these are the most delicious ever."
"These are so good, can we have them every day?"
"YUM!" (mouth full of cupcake)

S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S Salsa

I'm still crushed that my Steelers lost the Superbowl.  They're still the best team in the NFL, though, and the best team deserves the best salsa.  I served this up with some other black and yellow snacks, some classy beers, and my easy party favorites.

(Vegan) S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S Salsa

- Two mangoes
- One large can black beans
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- One avocado
- Handful fresh cilantro
- One jalopeno pepper
- Juice of one lime
- Generous shakes of sea salt and pepper
- One bag of yellow corn tortilla chips, and one bag of blue (the dark ones look black!)

This recipe makes a ton of salsa, and it takes better if you make it a little ahead of time.
1. Get chopping!  And dicing... and slicing... and mincing.  I made this FAST, so try to do a little better at making stuff the same size.  Chop your mango and red onion, mince that garlic and jalopeno, and go to town on your cilantro.  Toss it all in a bowl and set aside.
2.  Add the beans to the bowl and mix well.
3. Chop your avocado, and stir it into the salsa.  Hopefully you have one that's nice and ripe, so it kind of disappears into coat-y goodness.
4. Squeeze or pour on the lime juice, sprinkle on the salt and pepper, and mix well!
5.  Cover and refrigerate.  When it's gametime, break out those BLACK AND YELLOW tortilla chips!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I've never had a quesadilla... until now.

Yesterday was me & my boyfriend's 3-year Anniversary (cue the "awwwws") and we went to this cute tapas place where you pay way too much for (very delicious) drinks, sit in swinging chairs, and eat food so small that you buy snacks at the drugstore on the way home (we went with Oreos and Lays, possibly the best combination of snack foods in existence).  Anyway, he got this amazing-looking (non-vegan) quesadilla, and I realized that I've never had one!  So, this is what I made for dinner tonight:

(Vegan) BBQ Seitan Quesadillas with Spicy Avocado Cream

- 4 Organic, Red Chile Tortillas
- 1 Package Seitan
1 Package Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
1 Jar Organic Salsa (I used Whole Foods Tequila Lime!)
4 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite- but totally try Black Angus Dark BBQ)
2 Avocados
1 Cup Vegan Sour Cream 
1/2 Cup Vegan Cream
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
Juice of 1/2 lime
A few shakes of Sea Salt
Start with the spicy avocado cream, as it will need to chill.  This recipe makes a lot, so feel free to halve!  I just LOVE it, so I make extra for sandwiches.
- Peel & pit avocados, and cut into chunks.  Toss them + the sour cream, creamer, sriracha, lime juice, and sea salt into a food processor or blender.  Blend to smooth.  Cover and place in the 'fridge to chill.
- Cook the seitan!  Be sure to rinse before using, and break into small pieces.  Warm a wok over medium-high heat, and throw in 2 tablespoons oil.  Once it starts to smoke, toss in half of the seitan and toss to coat.  Cover completely with BBQ sauce, and continue to stir.  You'll get a nice char on it, and it should only take about 4 minutes to cook.  Repeat with the rest of the seitan, and set aside.
- Warm a skillet over medium heat, and use a very small amount of oil on the pan.  Toss on one tortilla, and cover with 1/3 of the seitan, 2 heaping spoonfuls of salsa, and a sprinkle of Daiya.  Throw another tortilla on top, and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Repeat with the rest of the stuff!
- Serve with the avocado cream.  Mmmmm:)