29 January 2010

Cakes and Funerals

This last week has been both a creative and fun cooking extravaganza and also has been a week filled with sadness. A friend and mentor of mine passed away on Monday and had left me devastated, but today having gone to her funeral I have found peace and I have said goodbye to as her son put it, "The body that was just a carrier for her amazing spirit." She was a teacher, a mentor and a great figurehead in her community. Her inspiration will stay with me always. I also had to say goodbye to a hero of mine Howard Zinn a pioneer in his time and a man that shaped my future in being proactive in the world around me. He led me to be a free thinker and a bit of a rebel, but a rebel with a cause. Then there was JD Salinger the creator of my favorite fictional character Seymour Glass. He is the reason I devour books the same way I devour cupcakes. Through all of the tears and sadness I feel lucky. I am so very lucky to have known Mrs. Nach, to have read Zinn and Salinger. I am lucky I was given the opportunity to have these brilliant people inspire and shape my future. To these three I say thank you and you will be in my heart and mind forever.

And then there was cake...
In the middle of this emotional soul retching I was also given the opportunity from my beautiful and very much alive friend Julia to come up with some desserts for a week long yoga training class. I made desserts for three of the five nights, they consisted of a banana custard with a plantain rum sauce, gluten free pistachio cupcakes and a gluten free German chocolate cake with an agave fudge frosting (recipe from 500 Vegan recipes, sans gluten of course). It was a great way to divert my mind from all things grim and to embrace my love of baking.

All of the desserts were filled with robust flavor and most of all, love. It may sound silly but every ounce of my food is filled with a piece of my soul. My good thoughts and good intentions go into every cookie, cake or biscuit. I could feed the world with my sadness and my many joys. Food is so personal and such an expression of one's self that to eat a simple truffle or scone would be like shaking someones hand or giving them a hug, and sometimes like reading a page from their diary. All of you bakers out there know exactly what I mean.

And I will end on that note. Have a happy Friday, hug someone you love, hug a stranger, make friends and remember to say cheers because we never know what tomorrow will hold.

Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

Banana Custard with Plantain Rum Sauce

22 January 2010

Gooey Caramel Pecan Cupcakes

It never rains in Arizona, ever. Those of us living in the desert pray for rain. We practically shout at the top of our lungs and perform intricate dances to bring forth tiny droplets of heaven to quench our parched landscape. The land dwellers of the southwest must have been extra good this year because it has been raining consistently for the last 4 days in our arid state. What is a bike riding girl to do? I could go outside and get soaked to the bone or stay inside bake up some delicious cupcakes and curl up to a great book. Since I finished all 1000 plus pages of "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace I really only had one thing I could do, bake more cupcakes! I used the Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe from VCTOTW with the exception of adding an avocado and omitting the canola oil and I also cut the sugar by 1/4 a cup and ended with a rich chocolaty but not overly sweet cake. It was delicious! I used a chocolate butter cream frosting and drizzled caramel sauce on top. The caramel sauce recipe I got from veganicecream.blogspot. It is quite tasty but a bit too sweet for my tastes; I think next time I will make the caramel sauce with agave nectar. Also I used a coconut milk from So Delicious in both the cake recipe and the caramel sauce and the flavors were complex and rich. All and all I ended up with a fluffy, moist and sinful cake. I am definitely going to bake these again, and I will not be waiting for another rainy day to do so.

19 January 2010

Papaya and Tofu Stir Fry

I am always trying to get Timmy to eat more fruit. He eats veggies like crazy all day but rarely picks up an apple or an orange unless I hand it to him. Lately when I make dinner I have been tossing in fruit wherever possible and wherever a delicious taste explosion is to be had. When it comes to stir frys in our home Tim is usually doing the frying as I tend to avoid frying things in general. This recipe here is a loose one and can easily be adjusted to your tastes and preferences. I just wanted to post it because it was the best stir fry I have yet to make and Tim said it was his, "most favorite ever."

Papaya and Tofu Stir Fry

Tofu marinade:
1 package extra firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. mango chili sauce (or any chili sauce)
1 tsp. sesame seed oil

Soak tofu in marinade for one hour, slice and fry up with veggies of choice. You can add more pineapple juice and simmer if wanting a more fruity taste. Cut up a fresh papaya and add 1/2 cup of papaya chunks to tofu and veggies and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve on top of rice. I prefer brown Jasmine rice.

05 January 2010

Curried Tofu Salad

My super awesome friend Andi makes some of the best tofu salad ever! We love it and have dubbed it "chix sally" and whenever I get a call or text regarding a fresh batch of chix sally I peddle on over to house and nosh down on a gigantic sammie aka sandwich. I love Andi and I love her sally but if I told her to spice it up a bit, she might kick the tofu out of me. So to save myself a beatin' I concluded the only avant garde sally would have to be made by me. I made a curried tofu sally and it was delicious, but please do not tell Andi!

Curried Tofu Salad

1 package extra firm tofu, drained
2 T. olive oil
1 T. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Veganaise
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp. curry paste (I used green)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

After draining tofu slice into 1/2 inch slabs and rub both sides with olive oil. In a bowl mix together all dry seasonings and sprinkle on both sides of tofu. Bake tofu for 30 minutes, then flip and bake another 30 minutes. Let tofu cool then cut into tiny cubes. In a bowl mix Veganaise, peas carrots and curry paste. The add tofu and mix to combine. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. I think it tastes best the next day.

Sorry Andi.

02 January 2010

Chocolate G'Morning Muffins

Yesterday afternoon Tim and I attended a New Year's Day brunch hosted by our dear friends Bonnie and Tim. It was a pot-luck brunch and since the vegan waffles were taken care of by the wonderful Alison and the soy chorizo provided for I opted for bringing homemade bagels and muffins. The bagels were extremely fun to make and seeing how it was my first time ever making a bagel I was overly pleased with the end results. Now, I did use a recipe on this first bagel attempt and it has opened the door for more vegan bagel recipes to follow. The recipe I used was from my new favorite book 500 Vegan Recipes. The recipe was for pumpkin bagels and a stated in a previous post, I love pumpkin, so naturally this was a recipe I could not resist. I did add organic cranberries to the bagels and I thought they turned out marvelous, as did many of the brunch attendees.

The muffins were a last minute addition when I realized there were not nearly enough bagels to feed the large amount of friends Bonnie and Tim have. I wanted a healthy and light muffin that still tasted fattening. The end result was my Chocolate G'Morning Muffins

Chocolate G'Morning Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

2 T. oats
2 T. turbinado sugar

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees

Combine flour, oats, cocoa powder,baking soda, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl mix rice milk, applesauce, sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add dry ingredients to wet and combine until thick mixture forms. Pour into a 12 count greased or paper lined muffin pan. Sprinkle topping on each muffin and bake 20-25 minutes.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bagels

bagel dough

boiling dough


toasted and ready to eat