Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Noms #1: Black Forest Swan Cupcakes

Hooray! It's my final Oscar Noms post. I have to confess I don't even usually watch the awards show, but I'm kind of excited this year to see who will be rewarded for their craft. And by that, I mean I'm excited to see what everyone wears on the red carpet.

I saved these for last because Black Swan is my favorite (read: the only one I've seen) of all the nominated Oscar films. These cupcakes might not be as pretty as Natalie Portman in a tutu, but I think they're quite lovely all on their own.

The recipe for these cupcakes comes from the cupcake bible, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They start with the Basic Chocolate cupcake recipe, which gives you a perfectly chocolatey, moist, rich, but not overly sweet cake, and then are topped with their Fluffy Buttercream Frosting. But what really puts these cupcakes over the top, and makes them "Black Forest" is the Saucy Cherry Filling in the middle of them. I couldn't manage to get a decent photo of the middles, so you'll just have to take my word that while these cupcakes might look like your average chocolate ones, they are hiding a saucy cherry surprise inside.

The cherry filling is made by cooking a bag of frozen cherries with some sugar, arrowroot, and pomegranate juice. I actually found a pomegranate-cherry juice to use, so that maximized the cherry-ness of the recipe. Then you add some kirsch to the cherry mixture after it's thickened. There is also a recipe for a kirsch glaze that you use to brush on top of the cakes before frosting.

You have to cut out a little well from the middle of each cupcake, then add a spoonful of the cherry sauce, some of the buttercream frosting, and then replace the cupcake "tops" before adding more frosting and your garnishes. It's just a little extra work for a lot of extra deliciousness.

These cupcakes are sublime, I mean how can you go wrong with chocolate and cherries? These are fancy enough to eat with a fork, with an extra drizzle of the cherry sauce on top. Fancy enough for the red carpet, even.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Noms #2: Soy Story 3-Formaggio White Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

I'm not really sure why Toy Story 3 was nominated for an Oscar, but then again, I haven't seen it, so maybe it's brilliant? Anyway, it might not be eligible for an Oscar, but this macaroni & cheese that I made from what has become my current favorite cookbook, Veganize This!,should win some kind of award. It is outrageously, almost obscenely decadent and delicious, which is how every good macaroni & cheese should be. I don't eat mac & cheese (or cheeze, if you will) that often, but when I do, I want it to be a serious indulgence. And this is. I wish I could print the recipe here for you, but you're just going to have to run out and buy this book, if only for this mac & cheese alone.

The recipe in the book is actually for "Vegan Quattro Formaggio White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese" which means FOUR cheese in Italian, but I made it a three-cheese version, for reasons both economic and lazy. Oh, and also because 3-cheese fit with my movie title theme. As far as Jenn's recipes go, this is actually one of the easiest to make, because the cheese sauce is made in one pan on the stove and the cooked macaroni is simply mixed in. Totally doable even on a weeknight.

The cheese sauce is pretty much a heart-stopper. I mean, there is probably a reason this recipe is featured in her "Satisfying the Vegan Munchies" section. It starts out with melting a substantial amount of butter, into which you whisk some flour to make a roux. To that you add some mustard powder, soy or other non-dairy milk, and MimicCreme. When that sauce thickens up, you slowly stir in and melt your cheeses. Jenn recommends a combination of Teese Mozzarella & Cheddar, which I also love, but for some unknown reason Teese is hard to find in NYC, so I used Daiya Mozzarella & Cheddar, which also has the added bonus of coming already grated. You can use whatever combo of other "cheeses" you want to make this a 3- or 4- cheese dish, but in addition to the Daiya I used Sheese Blue-Style flavor, because I'm gourmet like that.

After all your cheeses are melted in and transformed into a rich, ooey-gooey sauce, you finish it off with a drop or two of truffle oil (if you want), and top with bread crumbs (also optional). I actually made this with gluten-free pasta and bread crumbs, just so I could feel a little healthier before I dunked my head into this vat of mac & cheese goodness.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my final Oscar Noms post! Can you guess what it is?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oscar Noms #3: The Tibs Are Alright (Ethiopian Millet with Mushroom Tibs)

We are nearing the end of my Oscar Noms series, and I have been looking forward to making this recipe ever since I got my copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's awesomely titled Appetite for Reduction. I am really enjoying this cookbook for all its light yet flavorful, healthy recipes that avoid processed foods and hard to find ingredients. You can find pretty much everything you need for these recipes at any normal grocery store, nothing takes too long to make, and the recipes are just perfect for everyday-style cooking. I can't recommend it enough, especially if you (like me) are trying to cut back on the processed foods and maybe even lose a few pounds in the process.

I am a HUGE fan of Ethiopian food, so I was really intrigued to see these recipes for Ethiopian Millet and Mushroom Tibs in Isa's book. Although Ethiopian cuisine is generally very vegan-friendly, I had never seen or tried mushroom tibs before, but the concept made perfect sense and sounded delicious. Although Isa also includes a recipe for Ye'abesha Gomen (Stewed & Sauteed Collards), I didn't make this one but instead simply steamed some collard greens and added only a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to accompany these very spicy dishes.

If you are unfamiliar with millet, it is a gluten-free type of grain high in protein and especially rich in B vitamins. It cooks pretty much the same way you would cook rice - you bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. For Isa's recipe, the cooked millet is then combined with a heady mixture that includes onion, garlic, ginger, cooked tomatoes, and a homemade berebere-type spice blend made up of red pepper flakes, curry powder, Hungarian paprika, cumin, cardamom, and cloves.

The mushroom tibs contain nearly all the same spices that have been mixed into a thick paste together with oil, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. This paste is used to coat the mushrooms before they are baked in the oven, resulting in very intensely flavored, meaty mushrooms. As you might be able to tell, these recipes are not for the faint of heart or palate. These are not subtle spices, but if you're a fan of spicy food, then this should be right up your alley.

Apparently in The Kids Are Alright, Annette Bening's character goes on a rant about heirloom tomatoes. So maybe she doesn't like tomatoes or organic food snobs, but I think she might be willing to concede that these tibs are all right.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oscar Noms #4: The Seashell Network

For my play on The Social Network, I wanted to make something that comes in a seashell, so yet again Jenn Shaggy's Veganize This! cookbook offered the perfect recipe: Coconut Vinegar-Cured Tofu Scallops with Lemongrass-Basil Cream Sauce and Cilantro-Garlic Coconut Rice. Wow! Is that a recipe title to get your mouth watering, or what?! As good as the recipe sounds, it tasted even better. Seriously, this dish rocked our world. I wanted to lick the plate clean...and I did.

Disclaimer: this is not a quick recipe to make. There's nothing too difficult, but there are many steps. First, you need to marinate the "scallops" overnight in Jenn's seafood marinade. Then you still have to marinate them a few more hours in the coconut vinegar marinade. Then you sear the scallops, make the Cilantro-Garlic Coconut Rice (which I fortunately was able to do in my rice cooker), and then make and reduce the Lemongrass-Basil Cream Sauce. It was a lot of work. But it was oh so worth it.

I don't even know where to start describing the amazing medley of flavors that are bursting out of this dish. The rice, made with chopped fresh cilantro, slices of garlic, and coconut milk comes out so wonderfully creamy with just a hint of sweetness from the coconut milk. In fact, I think I might always make my rice with coconut milk from now on. The Lemongrass-Basil Cream Sauce is heavenly. It starts with a saute of shallots and garlic, then you add vermouth (I love booze in recipes), then lemongrass, basil, lemon juice, MimicCreme, and No-Chicken broth. It seems like a lot of strong flavors, but they all blend so beautifully into a restaurant-worthy sauce. And the scallops - I got such a kick out of cutting out the perfectly round scallop shapes from the tofu (I used a 1 1/2" round cutter like you use for cookies or hors d'oeuvres). They had a very pleasant "sea" flavor that was not too fishy, and the fresh herbs, coconut vinegar, and spices from the marinade gave them a very bright, light quality. There were so many layers of flavors when all was combined, it was like a symphony on a plate.

This could also make a great appetizer or first course for a dinner party. You could easily serve just a couple of the scallops with the sauce over some seaweed salad in a small, shell-like dish, like so:

I have leaned quite heavily on Veganize This! for my Oscar Noms series (and there's one more recipe still to come!), but if you haven't bought it yet (Why haven't you bought it? What's wrong with you?) you can at least find this recipe here on The GirlieGirl Army site. This is a sexy, sexy recipe. Make it now!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oscar Noms #5: Winter's Boneless "Pork" Chops with Warm Apple Slaw

These pork chops are boneless because they're vegan, get it?! This dish was the perfect marriage of two things: a package of Match Meats Ground "Pork" that I had in my freezer and a recipe from Jenn Shaggy's Veganize This! cookbook for Sage-Rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw.

I am slowly working my way through Veganize This! and I had this recipe bookmarked to try. That said, sometimes making your own seitan for every recipe is more work than I'm willing to do. Match Meats to the rescue! I became a fan of Match Meats back when I tried their Italian Sausage, and I was very curious (and a little bit scared) to try their ground pork. I honestly can't remember the last time I ate real pork, thank goodness, because it was at least 16 years ago, but I had such a good experience with Match's flavorful sausage that I wanted to give their "pork" a try. I'm glad I did because it was pretty amazing. In both taste and texture, it is almost frightfully convincing.

I simply adapted Jenn's recipe by mixing the ground pork with dried sage and a minced clove of garlic before shaping them into "chops" and then coating them with some gluten-free bread crumbs (you could use regular bread crumbs, of course). I then sauteed the chops in some olive oil until they were browned on both sides. From there, I followed Jenn's recipe for the Warm Apple Slaw as directed. The slaw is a combination of Granny Smith apples, onion, carrots, and cabbage, cooked with some apple cider vinegar and No-Chicken broth. I cooked the slaw long enough to soften everything, but just enough so that it still retained a little crispness and bite. It's a great twist on the pork chops with applesauce theme, and the slaw had the perfect amount of freshness and tang to balance the breaded and fried "meat."

I haven't yet seen Winter's Bone, but I did catch this SNL skit and though it's totally immature, it cracks me up every time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oscar Noms #6: Irish Micky Ward's Corned "Beef" & Cabbage

Ok, so this is a nod to The Fighter, but I had a really tough time with this title. I was stumped. All I could come up with was The Fry-ter, so I could have done something fried, but I was bored with that. So instead I based my dish on "Irish" Micky Ward, the retired professional boxer and real-life person on whom the film is based.

There are any number of vegan Irish Stew recipes out there, but none of those really inspired me like this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a vegan Corned Beef & Cabbage, a good ol' Irish-American dish if ever there was one.

I used the Lightlife Steak-Style Strips as suggested by Susan, and followed the rest of her recipe as instructed except for the substition of 1 Tbsp. of Annie's Horseradish Mustard instead of the dry mustard/horseradish combo, because I almost always have horseradish mustard on hand. The recipe was very easy to make and had so many layers of great flavors. I served it over some mashed sweet potatoes with dill, and with the savory gravy from the recipe, this was a perfectly delicious, very comforting winter dish. With St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner this is a dish you should definitely keep in mind.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oscar Noms #7: In-cèpe-tion

Cèpes is just the fancy (fancy meaning French) word for porcini mushrooms. This recipe for Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Red Wine Risotto with Mushroom "Marmalade" calls for porcini mushrooms, and the moment I first saw this recipe in Food & Wine, it crept into my dreams, Inception-style, until I couldn't resist the urge anymore and I finally made it for dinner.

This recipe was actually very easy to veganize, the only things I had to substitute were No Chicken broth instead of the regular kind, and Earth Balance for butter. I left off the Parmesan garnish as well. Because I didn't invent this recipe I don't feel like I'm bragging when I say that this was the BEST RISOTTO I'VE EVER TASTED. Seriously, it was mind-blowingly good. I mean, you can't really go wrong when a recipe involves garlic, shallots, mushrooms, and red wine, can you? It actually tasted restaurant quality, which I guess makes sense, as the recipe comes from one of the most famous chefs in the world. I guess I was just surprised that it turned out even better than I had anticipated.

By the way, I found that the key to making a truly amazing risotto, besides using a recipe from someone the likes of JGV, is to imagine the voice of Gordon Ramsay in your head yelling at you about your RIS-AH-TO. Is he ever not yelling at someone about their RIS-AH-TO? Well, he yelled at me the whole time, but the pressure paid off. I think he would have approved of my recipe execution.

Vegan Red Wine Risotto with Mushroom "Marmalade"
(adapted from this recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten)
serves 4

For the Mushroom "Marmalade":
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 lb. fresh porcini or stemmed shiitake mushrooms (1/2 lb. cut into 1/2 -inch dice, 1/4 pound sliced 1/4 inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 med. shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. Earth Balance

For the Risotto:
5 cups No-Chicken or other vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup arborio rice (6 ounces)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. chopped mixed herbs, such as chives, mint and tarragon or rosemary, thyme

1. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the vegetable oil. Add the diced mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until browned. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

2. In the same skillet, heat another 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the cooked mushrooms back into the pan with the shallot/garlic mixture.

3. In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar and water over moderate heat, washing down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until amber, 6 minutes. Add the wine* and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced by half, 12 minutes. Stir the mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat until the mushrooms are glazed and most of the liquid is gone, 3 - 5 minutes. Season with salt. (*Note: when you add the wine, the sugar might "seize" up. It was like a big caramel lollipop on the end of my spoon. Don't worry if this happens, the sugar will melt and dissolve as it warms, just continue stirring.)

4. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into the marmalade, then stir in the Earth Balance. Cover and keep warm.

5. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm over low heat. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated. Pour in about 1 cup of the hot stock, or enough to cover the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Repeat, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and stirring until all of the stock has been absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is just cooked and suspended in the creamy sauce, about 25 minutes. Stir in the Earth Balance and season with salt and pepper.

6. Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with the mushroom marmalade. Garnish with the fresh herbs and serve.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oscar Noms #8: 127 Layer Cake

Ok, so this cake doesn't take 127 Hours to make, and maybe it doesn't literally have 127 layers, but it has a lot of layers, like at least 20. Work with me here, people.

This cake is made out of stacks of crêpes, with a vegan lemon curd spread between each layer. I saw a photo of a "1000 Layer Cake" in some food magazine a while ago, and I thought it was such a great idea, I've been waiting for an opportunity to try making a vegan one myself. You could use any type of filling you want between the layers - chocolate, fruit jam, caramel, or a vegan dulce de leche would all be great, but I chose a lemon curd because, well, because I just love lemon desserts.

I used the sweet crêpe recipe from Vegan Brunch, which you should absolutely order right now if you don't already have it, and I found this recipe for vegan lemon curd from the Cookies and Candids blog.

Isa's recipe for crêpes is super easy, you just throw all the ingredients into a blender, blend it up, then put the entire blender container into the fridge for about an hour before making your crêpes. Yes, I ruined the first crêpe, but I think that's a requirement when it comes to making them, like an offering to St. Julia Child. After the first one, I didn't have any more trouble.

The lemon curd was delicious and made me wonder why the heck anyone would ever need or want to put eggs into their version. I think I should have boiled it another minute or two longer, because it didn't thicken up quite as much as I wanted, but that wasn't any problem for this recipe, because you simply add 1 - 2 Tbsp. of the lemon curd (or any other filling you choose) to the top of each crêpe and spread it around evenly before adding the next layer.

The result is really impressive and beautiful, and it tastes delicious! The crêpes were light and delicate, as all good crêpes should be, with just a hint of sweetness to them. The lemon curd added just the right amount of tang, and was even better with a drizzle of some strawberry coulis on the side. I think I really could have eaten 127 layers of this!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oscar Noms 10 & 9: "Shrimp & True Grits" and "The King's Peach Cobbler"

I've been super excited to kick off my Oscar Noms series, which will be recipes posted from now until Feb. 27th, counting down the 10 Best Picture Oscar Nominations. Food puns are fun! Also, I'm a dork!

I was inspired to do this series after seeing the brilliant ideas on Serious Eats last year. I mean, look at these Avatarts! Inglourious Custards! Up in Eclairs! If there are two things I love, it's food and the movies. I was actually a Visual Communications / Film major in college, and I consider myself a pretty serious film buff. And you may have noticed that I like to eat. So a film / food mashup is right up my alley. In fact, I should start another blog that is entirely based on film/food puns... oh, if only there were more hours in the day.

At any rate, the first post of the series comes straight from the VGT archives (but don't worry, the rest will be new recipes I'm testing out). Oscar Nom #10 is my recipe for "Shrimp & True Grits" in honor of the film True Grit. This one was actually the first one I came up with, and kickstarted this whole series.

And for dessert? Oscar Nom #9 is "The King's Peach Cobbler," for The King's Speech. See? I told you food puns are fun!

Stay tuned for more Oscar Noms, coming soon!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Life Hands You Strawberries... attempt to make a raw strawberry cheesecake, fail miserably, and buy something for your Valentine's Day dessert instead. Or at least that's what I did.

In my last post, I promised to give you a super sexy Valentine's Day dessert idea, and that was my intention, I swear. My special V-Day menu was intended to conclude with this stunning Raw Strawberry Cheesecake recipe from the PPK website.
Image via Post Punk Kitchen

I mean, look at that beautiful cheesecake. Those lovely pink and red colors! Could there be a more perfect dessert for Valentine's Day?

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. For some reason, the cheesecake didn't set at all, nor did the whipped topping. They were both completely liquid, even after a full day in the fridge, and though I followed the recipe exactly. I don't know what went wrong, I've since done some online research and it seems like a lot of people put their raw cheesecakes in the freezer for a while, then only take it out to thaw before serving. Maybe I'll try that next time. But I was very sad and disappointed, to say the least! I should have taken a picture of my cheesecake disaster to share with you but I didn't have my senses about me at the time. Sorry, Isa, I wanted to do you and your recipe proud, but I failed.

There was a lot to salvage though, I still had plenty of fresh whole strawberries and the strawberry coulis, which we poured over some So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean ice cream, along with some chocolate syrup. So there was that. No need to despair, dessert was still had by all.

So since I don't have any strawberry cheesecake photos of my own to share with you, and because I still had a hankering for some raw pie, we went with some dear friends last night to one of our favorite (mostly) raw restaurants, Caravan of Dreams. And this is what we shared:

RAW Coconut-Mango Pie, topped with strawberry sauce. Creamy, coconutty, tropical goodness.

RAW Chocolate-Açaí Pie, also with strawberry topping. The açaí gave it just a hint of tartness, which paired so well with the chocolate. Also delicious.

Berry Chocolate Cake. To call this chocolate cake doesn't do it justice. This was super moist, rich, and had a layer of (again) strawberry preserves in the middle. Are you picking up on a theme here? We went insane over this cake. It was SO good.

And finally, this ridiculously good banana split. Stogo vegan ice cream with the works, plus chocolate covered ice cream cookies in there. Yeah baby.

So I guess there's a lesson to be learned in this post. I wanted to make my sweetie a V-Day dessert, sure, but when that didn't work out, we improvised. And then we went out the next evening and got even better desserts. So maybe I should leave the raw cheesecake-making to other people. I'm content to just be really good at eating it.

405 East 6th St.
New York, NY 10009

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Veganism is for Lovers

Two-Hearts Salad
There are many reasons to be vegan. For the love of animals. For the love of the earth and protecting its environment. For the love of your own body and health. For me, I can add for the love of my amazing husband, who has been vegan for over 20 years, and is the biggest inspiration to me.

With this in mind, I was very excited to put together a Valentine's Day menu this year, because to me, cooking vegan food is an expression of love for everything I named above. And then I was even more excited when the fabulous blog Meet the Shannons wanted to include my menu in their special edition about vegans on V-Day.

The salad above is a Two-Hearts salad, featuring both artichoke hearts and hearts of palm, the recipe for which I found in the archives of Epicurious. You don't really need a recipe though - simply quarter some artichoke hearts, slice the hearts of palm, and serve them over salad greens with some halved cherry or grape tomatoes and a dijon vinaigrette. Simple, healthy, light, and a perfect first course for your romantic dinner à deux.

For the main course, I came across this recipe for Pasta with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce from one of my favorite vegans, Melisser Elliott, which is also included in her book The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life. Asparagus is usually considered one of the "aphrodisiac" foods, so you can't really go wrong with that, can you? I only changed Melisser's recipe by adding some sliced portobello mushrooms, because I had them on hand and also because I love mushrooms almost as much as I love my husband. Well, maybe not quite that much, but you know, I love them a lot. Again this was a fairly quick and easy recipe to make, the cream sauce is cashew-based but does not require overnight soaking, which is great for someone like me, who usually doesn't read that part of the recipe until I'm halfway through making it. The sauce is thick but not too heavy, garlicky, and scented with lemon zest and juice. The flavors were very similar actually to my recipe for Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach & Peas, but I like that Melisser's cream sauce was soy-free, as I've been trying to temporarily cut back on that.

We enjoyed this pasta very much, and we all know that eating pasta together is romantic, right?

Pasta with Asparagus & Mushrooms in Lemon Cream Sauce
Stay tuned for a super sexy Valentine's Day dessert post in the next day or two!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finger Lickin' Vegan Good!

I was never big on fast food fried chicken, but growing up with a Southern family, one thing I really did love was my mom's homemade Southern fried chicken. It had a thick, crispy batter crust on it, just the right blend of spices, and was equally delicious hot or cold. When I stopped eating chicken, I really didn't miss it at all, thanks in large part to having so many vegan substitute options, like Gardein or Morningstar Farms and the like. But when I came across this recipe for Art Smith's Vegan Fried Chicken, it reminded me so much of my mom's recipe (well, except for it being vegan, of course) that I knew I really needed to try it, immediately.

Art Smith was one of my favorite chefs on Top Chef Masters because he seemed so sweet and friendly, and also because he managed to raise traditional Southern food to the level of haute cuisine. This recipe that he created using Gardein's Chick'n Scallopini is as inspired as anything I would expect him to make. And other than having to plan ahead in order to soak your cashews overnight, it's surprisingly simple to make. It definitely tastes like you worked a lot harder than you did on it.

The cashew cream is a cinch to make. You simply soak the cashews overnight then blend them up with water. The result is a thick, rich cream, and after stirring in some Tabasco, you use this to coat the chick'n pieces before dipping them into the flour/spice mix. Art's spice mix is a combo of garlic powder, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, and black pepper - it adds so much flavor and just the right touch of spicy heat. It's an incredibly messy process dipping the chick'n pieces first in the cream, then in the flour, then back into the cream, then back into the flour before frying, but the sticky fingers you'll get just make it that much more fun.

These are deep-fried in oil, so this certainly can't be considered health food, but it was so incredibly tasty that it's totally worth the indulgence once in a while. The chick'n turned out exactly like I remembered it... it has this amazingly thick, crunchy, savory "skin," but was tender and juicy on the inside. I swear it tasted so much like the "real" thing that you could fool even the staunchest omnivore with it. It's so full of flavor that nobody could ever fault this dish for what's missing, it's just good, plain and simple. Finger lickin' good, in fact!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cookin' Vegan's Sweet Potato, Chipotle Sausage, & Pumpkin Ale Chili

It's Superbowl Puppy Bowl Sunday folks, and while I don't give a fig about football, I could spend hours watching puppies play. Plus, I like that the Puppy Bowl is all about pet adoption, and provides information about the shelters that the "players" came from, and other resources where you can find animals to adopt. For the love of dog, adopt! Don't support the puppy mills!

Now whether you're watching the Puppy Bowl, or actual humans playing football, or a Jennifer Aniston rom-com (that was a trick - if you said yes to that, we can't be friends), nothing goes with it better than a big bowl of spicy chili, right? I've had Cookin' Vegan's recipe for Sweet Potato, Chipotle Sausage, & Pumpkin Ale Chili bookmarked for months now, just waiting for the right day to make it. I mean it has three of my favorite things right there in the title: Sweet Potatoes? Check. Field Roast Chipotle Sausages? Check. Pumpkin Ale? Hell yes!

This chili is a snap to make, and the combination of spices smells simply amazing while simmering on the stove. It's warm and satisfying, with the sweet potatoes, sausage, and navy beans, yet also manages to avoid being too heavy and weighing you down after you eat it. And I should know, because it was so tasty that I went in for a second bowlful, even though one was plenty. Don't tell anyone.

Not to be overly dramatic about it, but this chili turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be and more. There was a little sweetness to it, and a lot of spiciness (the most important feature of any chili in my book), and all the flavors melded and went together so incredibly well. I also love having another chili option that isn't the usual tomato-based variety. It couldn't be any more perfect for dinner on a cold evening, especially one watching a sporting event or whatever else you have on the tube. Except for any show featuring a member of the Kardashian family, because if you're watching that, then you should probably take this pot of chili and pour it directly over your head.

 Bella's favorite channels are Animal Planet and the BBC.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Dun-Well Vegan Doughnut Party Done Right!

I mentioned recently that there was going to be a launch party at Moo Shoes tonight for Dun-Well Doughnuts, a brand new company making all-vegan all-delicious yeast-raised doughnuts here in NY. Well I just got back from that party, and boy oh boy was it spectacular. A huge congratulations is in order for these guys and their epic doughnut launch party.

In NY, for the non-vegan doughnut lover, it's all about the Doughnut Plant, in terms of quality and variety of flavors. I even have a friend who paid, I swear, $100 in shipping costs alone to have a dozen from the Doughnut Plant overnight mailed to him in San Francisco (*cough* Antoinne *cough*). And all you vegan Portlanders (Portlandese?) out there have your Voodoo Doughnut shop, which has inspired a great deal of jealousy in me. Well now vegan NY'ers have their own specialty doughnuts that are fully worth bragging about, and that will be the cause of envy among vegans far and wide.

There are many vegan events held at Moo Shoes, but I have personally never been to one with such an impressive turnout. There was actually a line to get to the doughnuts that ran all the way around the store, then doubled back to snake nearly out the front door. If there is one thing that will get NY'ers out on a slushy winter night, it's free vegan doughnuts apparently. Well, and also ice cream from Lula's and cocktails from the new all-vegan bar Pinebox Rock Shop. That's right, we had vegan doughnuts AND ice cream AND cocktails, 'cause that's how we roll.

But the doughnuts... oh those doughnuts! I got to sample a Peanut Butter & Jelly one and a Root Beer-flavored one. The PB&J, which was jelly-filled with a peanut butter glaze on top, tasted exactly like a PB&J on Wonder bread. I mean that in a good way. It was a very nostalgic kind of flavor, like the PB&J's of my childhood, not like the PB&J's on sprouted whole grain bread of my adulthood, if that makes any sense. It was so good. And the Root Beer doughnut! It tasted so... so root beer-y! I happen to love root beer, it's the one and only type of soda that I will drink on occasion, so I really enjoyed that doughnut too.

Please excuse the terribly blurry pics, I wouldn't usually post such bad ones but my camera was being difficult and they all came out looking kind of crazy.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Doughnut. Brilliant!
Me & Leanne with doughnuts in hand.

With Dan from Dun-Well Doughnuts
In addition to the PB&J and Root Beer flavors, they also had a Lemon Poppyseed that I didn't get to try. Check out their site for additional flavors and also for retail locations. I know they mentioned that they will be available at Boneshakers and Champs Bakery in Williamsburg, and also at Cocoa V, but not sure where else. Now go out & get yourself some vegan doughnuts!