Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lemon Gem Cupcakes!

Lemon Gem Cupcakes - Veganomicon

Let's dust off some old recipes...

I was asked to bring a (vegan) dessert to a dinner I was invited to.  After mulling a few ideas around in my head, it was suggested that I bring cupcakes.  Great! I haven't made a batch of cupcakes in a while.  I was then suggested:   "How about those lemon cupcakes you made that time..." 

Would you believe the last time I made these was FOUR years ago?!  What a fool I am, because these are one fabulous cupcake.

If you don't have Veganomicon already, you can see the cupcake recipe here, and then run out and buy yourself a copy, because it truly is an amazing cookbook...

Lemon Gem cupcakes truly stand up to their name.  They are sunny, bright, and full of amazing lemony flavor, mostly from the FRESH lemon juice and zest that goes in to the cupcake batter.  I had gotten a nice bottle of pure lemon extract, and I added 1/2 tsp of that too, just for good measure.

This time, I added a splash of vanilla and lemon extracts to the frosting as well, which really added a nice touch ^_^

Lemon Gem Cupcakes - Veganomicon

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recipe Testing: Crispy Eggplant and Garlicky Potato Dip (Skordalia)

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Another winning recipe test for Terry Hope Romero's  new cookbook that I wanted to share!

I think I may be conquering my eggplant phobia once and for alI; I absolutely loved this recipe! The breading was delicious, plain panko perfectly seasoned with oregano, rosemary and thyme.  The "glue" to hold on the crumbs is not a runny, raw egg, but rather vegan mayonnaise. I used a pastry brush to coat the slices with the mayo, because it was a little thick.  Overall, I thought this technique worked nicely

Now, for the garlic lovers...
I present to you: Skordalia - Garlicky, Greek Goodness!
Garlicky Potato Dip (Skordalia)

I was first introduced to this garlicky dip at L's uncle's house, attending their annual Greek family reunion Summer picnic. As I turned my head away from the whole lamb roasting on spit on the front yard, I was politely escorted over to a table where a small dish of creamy white something sat. "THIS", they proudly proclaimed, "is vegetarian!  And if you like garlic, you will LOVE it"!  Well, it was garlic-y, all right!!  I proceeded to eat the dip with cucumber slices and kalamata olives for the rest of the afternoon... I later found out that L's uncle makes his skodalia with egg yolks. *sad face* (BUT, I was vegetarian when I first tried it, so Vegan Police, stay away) So, needless to say, I was beyond excited when I saw Terry's vegan version on her recipe testing list!

My review:  
LOVED, directions were perfect. Served with Crispy Eggplant (photo above), I actually had no zucchini on hand and Terry's original recipe was crispy eggplant and zucchini. I loved the amount of garlic, and actually used an extra clove because mine were small. Skorda is garlic in Greek, so go big or go home.

Definitely will make again, probably for special occasions or a weekend, or a Greek-themed dinner. We might make little Napoleons with the Crispy Eggplant/Zucchini next time as an appetizer for a party, as suggested by my better-half ^_^
Garlicky Potato Dip (Skordalia)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Recipe Testing: Tenacious Tart Tatin (French Caramelized Apple Tart)

What a beauty!!  I tested this recipe a while ago, but thought the picture was to pretty not to share!

Again, this photo is part of the series of recipes I am testing for Terry Hope Romero's new vegan cookbook, scheduled to be published this Fall!  I cannot tell you how excited I am to be a part of this, AND to see the final product!!

This tart was, for lack of a better word,  Fabulous... and unique, in that it used a shortbread crust made with partially frozen olive oil for the fat. Isa and Terry discuss this technique a bit in Vegan Pie in the Sky, but I haven't tried that particular recipe as of yet. I was a tiny bit skeptical at first, but let me tell you, this crust was amazing: flaky and rich, AND it was "mother and grandmother approved"!

I think this would be a great pie/tart for a beginning pie makers, as the crust is pressed into the tart shell instead of rolled out. 

I made my tart with Honey Crisp apples, which worked quite nicely ^_^

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recipe Testing: Coconut Bean Curry (Lobia) & Basic Roti

Back again, with more delicious previews of Terry Hope Romero's International Cookbook, scheduled to be published this Fall.  

Above, we have Coconut Bean Curry (Lobia)  Another winner!  I loved this, and found it has GREAT heat from the cayenne (3/4 t!) which balanced nicely with the cool cream of the coconut milk. A squeeze of lime juice at the end added a perfect bright, fresh flavor. A nice change from tomato based bean curries that I tend to make so often.

Since I ususally don’t have black eyed peas on hand, I used 1 can of chickpeas and 1 can of pintos. No fresh cilantro on hand this time, so I topped with some chopped scallions, because I like some green! I will definitely make this again. The use of canned beans makes this a great weeknight meal. Like another reviewer suggested, I might experiment with adding baby spinach, or maybe some cauliflower next time.

There is nothing like making fresh flat bread. A tender and warm roti, right off the skillet and served alongside your favorite curry is pure paradise!  

I’ve made this recipe twice now (once in the very beginning of the testing process, and then again last week). First time was ok, because I wasn't really sure what I was doing, and used a crappy pan.  The second time was wonderful, after I watched this delightful video on YouTube (below) from Manjula's Kitchen, about kneading and cooking the roti on hot cast iron.  I am a very visual person, and sometimes just reading a description of a cooking technique I've never used before isn't always enough for me.  Please, check out her videos. If you are a lover of authentic vegetarian Indian curry, as I am, I'm sure you will enjoy them immensely! NAMASTE :)

Now for Terry's recipe:  I really liked the mix of wheat and white flour, as I do not usually have atta flour on hand. The only hitch I had, was that the directions under “For Simple Roti” has the heat level listed as "high". I have an electric glass top stove, and my high is HIGH, almost too high to cook anything other than pasta water. So I need to keep my cast iron pan on medium to medium high at the most, or else they burn.