Friday, October 17, 2014

Midnight Blogging: Happy Birthday to Me

OMG...if everything I bake comes out as well as this birthday cake, I will have a very good year indeed. It's fluffy and sticky and purely delicious. It's also vegan and gluten-free. Nom nom nom. Coconut Cardamom.

For my birthday dinner, a big bowl of Pineapple Panang Curry. I ate it all, and a bowl of rice.

It was truly a delectable day! Beautiful leaves, blue sky and sunshine. Balloons, birthday cake, Malbec, and presents!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cellular Peptide Cake with Mint Frosting

Let them eat cake! Shall we celebrate the last day of Vegan MoFo 2014 with a Star-Trek inspired confection?

It's Trekkie TV Tuesday once again, and this week's featured future food is a Cellular Peptide Cake (with Mint Frosting). In the Next Generation episode "Phantasms," the crew of the Enterprise become infected with interphasic parasites that feed on cellular peptides. Fortunately, (though perhaps not so much for Counselor Troi) Commander Data is able to detect the parasitic presence before the entire crew loses cellular cohesion and melts into puddles of chemicals. Somehow the creatures sense Data as a threat and try to scare him off with disturbing visions. In the throes of a waking nightmare, Data stabs Counselor Troi, but remains, as ever, unphased.

Scene: [Ten Forward]
(Crusher drinking Riker's brain, the Troi cake, all as before)
DATA: Cake?
PICARD: Oh. Er, thank you. Look at that. Her right shoulder. That is the same place that Data stabbed her.
LAFORGE: In his waking dream he said that there was a mouth on her shoulder.
PICARD: They're both symbols of consumption. Mouth, food. Mister Data, what kind of cake is this?
DATA: It is a cellular peptide cake.
WORF: With mint frosting. 

I don't suspect that many humans would enjoy eating cellular peptides, so I decided to make a Cardamom Coconut Cake instead. Delicious. Especially with mint frosting. This recipe works great for cupcakes, too.

Cellular Peptide Cake with Mint Frosting

  • for the cake
  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • for the frosting
  • 3 cups organic powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (solid)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and oil a 9" x 13" rectangular cake pan or two 8" circular pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and baking powder together.
  3. Add the almond milk, oil and vanilla and beat well.
  4. Pour batter into oiled & floured cake pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let cool, and when the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, flip onto a serving platter to frost. Lay your plate on top of the cake pan and flip them over together - it's less scary that way. Tap the bottom of the pan a little if you need to.
  6. To make the icing, whizz the coconut oil, almond milk and mint extract together in a food processor. A little at a time, add the powdered sugar until icing is spreadable.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as Lieutenant Worf.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

DIY Cowgirl Chai

What's your favorite autumn beverage? For me, it's chai tea. I have no interest in the return of the pumpkin latte - I'm all about the spices in a nice hot mug of sweet chai tea!

I've always wanted to try brewing my own, so I invented a recipe. I would have liked to use whole spices exclusively, but subbed in ground variations for the cardamom pods and black peppercorns. My initial batch was exactly what I wanted. I drank a bowlful and saved the rest for Sunday brunch. 

If you've been following my month of curry, a chai latte is pretty much the perfect dessert to follow a curry dinner.

DIY Cowgirl Chai

3 cinnamon sticks
7 star anise
10 cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 7 pods)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or 2 tsp peppercorns)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced in thin rounds
1/4 cup black looseleaf tea
4 cups vanilla flax milk (or vanilla hemp milk)
2 cups water

Bring milk and water to a boil. 
Add tea and spices. 
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 
Pour through strainer before serving.

Sipping chai tea made me think of the song "Artsy" by The Grouch (2008). 
I'm very soft-spoken.

You ain't artsier than me
Cuz you only read books, don't watch T.V.
You ain't artsier than me
Cuz you shop at Whole Foods in open-toed shoes
You ain't artsier than me
Cuz you speak real soft and drink Chai tea
You ain't artsier than me
I recycle too, I'm kinda like you.

Only a few days of MoFo remaining! Ack! Where has the month flown?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Ghosts of Curries Past

Today's MoFo post is a Throwback Thursday roundup of spicy repasts past. If you've been wondering why my Month of Curry hasn't featured any Samosas or Chana Masala, well, here they are, along with a couple of my other favorites.
This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey's indispensable tome, World Vegetarian. I never thought I liked eggplant, but after I roasted it under a broiler and simmered it in a spiced coconut broth, I found a reason to love the little guys. (Besides the fact that they're purple.)
 I adore samosas, don't you? It's totally worth the effort to make them from scratch. When you figure out how to get that pointy samosa shape, you'll be super proud of yourself. 
(I made a video to demonstrate.)
Salli Seitan
 This curry dates back to my pre-vegan days, and is one of my all-time favorites. The spices in this recipe are tempered with the sweetness of coconut milk and apricots. I learned how to make seitan just so I could replicate the original.
(Seitan instructions included.)
This chickpea and tomato curry goes into the oven to get that baked-in tandoori flavor. Warm up some chapatti. Serve with basmati and chutney and onions and have a feast.
(Everybody loves Chana Masala!)

What is your favorite kind of curry?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Beet Box, Denver

Know what I did after my dentist appointment this morning? I walked over to Beet Box Bakery and bought myself a brownie.

Not just any brownie, either. This was a big fat red velvet Beet Brownie. Chewy, squishy, chocolatey, and everything that a brownie should be.

Did I mention that Beet Box is 100% vegan? It's true! A vegan bakery! There are cakes and muffins and all good things. There are sammiches, too, and coffee. And if you're looking for gluten-free options, you're in luck!

I got my brownie fix and I'll be back for more. Satisfy your vegan sweet tooth at 1030 E 22nd Avenue (at Downing), Denver, CO.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dr. Leah Brahms' Fabulous Fungilli

It's Trekkie TV Tuesday, and tonight I made Fungilli. This quasi-Italian combination of funghi and fusilli is a specialty of Dr. Leah Brahms, designer of the propulsion systems for galaxy-class starships. A holographic facsimile of Dr. Brahms offered to prepare some Fungilli for Lieutenant LaForge in 2366, and when the real Dr. Brahms visited the Enterprise a year later, Geordi invited her to his quarters for a Fungilli dinner. Unbeknownst to Geordi was the fact that Leah was already married, and she was not impressed by his attempts at seduction or by his creepy stalker behavior.

Fungilli does, however, make an excellent dish for a dinner date. It's simple, flavorful, and easy to prepare. It pairs well with a green salad and a bottle of Chianti or Montepulciano, with espresso and perhaps some tiramisu for dessert.

Dr. Leah Brahms' Fungilli
(serves 4)

  • 1 box Ancient Harvest curly quinoa pasta
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 8 - 12 ounces of cremini mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 young zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh oregano to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Peel and slice the garlic as close to razor-thin as possible. Peel the zucchini and slice into half-moons.
  2. Heat a pot of water with a pinch of salt to boil. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6 - 9 minutes, or until al dente. When the pasta is done, drain the water, add the almond milk and nutritional yeast and stir well.
  3. While the pasta boils, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium flame. Sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes, then add the garlic and zucchini and sauté until zucchini are translucent. Add to pasta and stir.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish each plate with a squeeze of lemon juice, a slice of lemon, and several sprigs of fresh oregano.

The Vegan Month of Food is rolling right along! I can't believe this is already week 4! Keep your subspace channels open, because I have a special Trekkie treat lined up for next Tuesday's post. Live long and prosper!

R. Cowgirl

P. S. For more amazing vegan recipes, check out this week's Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Midnight Blogging: Dual Specialty Dal with Pepper Plum Chutney

In this "Month of Curry" post I'm going to tell another tiny tale about the East Village. My insane love of curry only increased in New York, and I hadn't lived there long before I made a pilgrimage to First Ave (between 5th & 6th) where I ventured down into the realms of the Dual Specialty Store and began selecting spices.

The gentleman at the register was very friendly, and inquired about my purchases. I explained that I was making lentil curry, and he asked if I would like a copy of their house recipe.

Would I ever!!! This piece of paper lived in my spice box for years. It has been the foundation upon which many curries were built.

The Dual Specialty Recipe is very adaptable, but don't skip the kalonji seed if you can help it. (That ingredient alone would keep me going back.) You can switch up the spices or sub ground for whole. Toss some veggies in, or garnish the dal with fresh herbs. Adding dill was my first modification. I watched a friend's roommate prepare some lentil curry, and he told me that dill is good for digestion. I like how it tastes; I like cilantro, too.

This recipe works with pretty much any kind of dal. I used plain old green lentils, and although they don't look as pretty as red or black or yellow dal, they taste good. (They might have looked prettier if I had any kalonji seed.) I tried to dress them up for a fancy brunch this morning. I'm really loving this sweet-and-spicy pairing of plums and peppers, so I made a little chutney reminiscent of my pepper-grape jam from MoFo2012 and served it with the dal over savory pancakes, with watercress. Watercress is fancy, you know.

Dual Specialty Dal
Source: Dual Specialty Store
Serves: 4
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 25g ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 25g garlic, coarsely chopped
  • oil for frying
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 5 fresh curry leaf
  • 5 bay leaf
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 2-4 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 tbsp kalonji (black onion) seed
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 4-6 fresh green chili
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup dal
  • 6 cups water
  1. Fry tomato, onion, ginger and garlic for 5 minutes.
  2. Add salt, spices and chilies and fry for a few minutes more.
  3. Add dal and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes, or until dal is tender and smooth.

Pepper Plum Chutney

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 thumb-sized piece peeled fresh ginger, minced fine
  • 3 plums, pitted and diced
  • 2 apples, cored and puréed
  • 2 serrano peppers, sliced
  1. Heat vinegar, spices and sugar over medium flame until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Bring to a boil and add the ginger, fruit, and peppers.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring every so often, for about 30 minutes.
  4. Cool and salt to taste.

If you love curry, please leave a comment! 

R. Cowgirl