Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Relative success!

As it turns out, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions' recipe for Hollandaise sauce is quite convincing. I poured part of a batch of it over chopped avocados, roasted sweet potatoes and smoked salmon for brunch today, following an "amuse-bouche" of vanilla persimmon and homemade crackers.

Unfortunately, the sauce broke (a trait which seems to follow all of my sauce experiments using Earth Balance margarine), so I'm going to have to try this again with vegan Becel and/or having my lemon juice at room temperature in the future. Still, yum!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mmmmm....homemade dal

Served on brown rice, with shredded chicken and fresh cilantro.

I adapted this recipe. My mods include using tallow in place of the vegetable oil (just 'cause I had it on-hand), about ⅛ tsp. cayenne in place of the jalapeno pepper; about a half-can's worth of the non-fatty part of a can of full fat coconut milk; no zucchini; a splash of cider vinegar; and I added about 5 pods worth of crushed, green cardamom to the spice blend.

I cannot believe how easy, hearty, warming and delicious this was. It's definitely going to be making it into my regular lunch rotation.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mmmm...homemade pan pizza

So, part of the secret to making outstanding pizza dough is to start it early in the morning so that it gets enough time to refrigerate (which makes the dough much easier to handle, for some reason) and allows the yeast flavour to develop. It probably doesn't hurt to bake the whole shebang in the pan that the bacon was cooked in (after the grease was poured out).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Not regret-cake

After the last — rather abysmal — take on strawberry cake, shortly followed an experiment with the — also disastrous — chocolate chip cookie recipe also found in the Bunner's cookbook, I would've sworn off further Bunner's-inspired attempts indefinitely. The only upside is that Matt hilariously dubbed those baking experiments as, "Regret Cookies" and "Regret Cake".

When Matt got two batches of fast-turning Ontario strawberries from the grocery store (this late in the season?!) I found myself with a plethora of peak-of-deliciousness strawberries to use up in a hurry and no inclination to rework my last attempt at strawberry cake. I found this adaptation from The Joy of Vegan Baking, made a half-batch (and tried out my new, ultra-small cake moulds). I used the vegan buttercream recipe as posted in my otherwise unfortunate strawberry cake, with a thin layer of strawberry jam between the layers. Success!

Since then, I've baked another two mini-strawberry cakes (the second was for mom's birthday — in addition to the vegan Oreo cheesecake I made; the third is the one pictured here). So far, the only salvageable recipe I've found in the Bunner's Cookbook is a buttercream, but this cake recipe is definitely a go-to for me now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vegan yeast doughnuts!

It looks like I've made these at least three times previously and they improve ever-so-slightly every time. For this batch, I allowed them to proof for the full time suggested in the recipe and made sure they were lightly floured on the tops and bottoms for the final proof. This made them unexpectedly easy to pull off the Silpat I was proofing them on and made it so they didn't stick to the plastic wrap I left on top of the batch so they wouldn't dry out. The resultant doughnuts rose incredibly well, didn't lose a lot of structural cohesion before they made it into the oil, and were delightfully crispy on the outside. Also, I determined that giving them a fairly thorough heating in the toaster oven on Day 2 perked them back up from the soggy condition they would've otherwise been in.

I lightly tweaked my ice cream base recipe as the topping (there was more avocado in this batch than usual) and was really pleased with the result!

Thursday, July 16, 2015


...this looks much better than it tastes.

I've heard great things about Bunner's, a Kensington Market-based vegan, gluten-free bakery (helpful for the ever-growing roster of g/f friends I have -- you know, with a genuine gluten sensitivity, rather than a willingness to follow fads) and have wanted to make the trip to sample their goods for months. I have yet to go, but a trip to Indigo on the weekend provided me with a copy of their cookbook! Eager to get testing, I purchased the ingredients which I didn't already have in my heavily-vegan pantry and got working on their strawberry cake. As a caveat, I completely omitted the arrowroot flour called for in the recipe, so my results are undoubtedly atypical. Nonetheless, this cake is much denser than I would have liked; it's much more like a banana bread than a "white" cake. I know that density is the bane of gluten-free baked goods, but was hopeful that the xanthan gum called for in the recipe would offset that considerably. I didn't.

So I think I'm going to forgo further experiments in gluten-free cakes for now, but given my recent success with developing my own gluten-free brownies, I think I'll attempt to make some of the cookies in the book next. After all, a dense cookie isn't nearly as egregious as a non-fluffy cake.

P.S. I vastly prefer the vegan buttercream in this book over the equivalent recipe in the other vegan baked goods recipe book I own. As long as I remember to add a generous pinch of salt in each case, that is.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A bit of creativity...

A recent trip to IKEA's restaurant yielded the inspiration for a dessert with a chocolate cake base, a caramel middle layer and a ganache-like top. Of course, being lactose-intolerant means most commercially-available desserts are verboten, but I resolved to try my hand at making it myself. While figuring out how to make it, I realized I already had recipes for all three components, in refined sugar-free form! So I'm presenting my iteration of that.

The base is a wheat-based version of my recent adventures in brownie-making. The caramel layer is just the caramel component of the recipe discussed in this blog entry. Finally, the "ganache" is just a chilled version of my ice cream base. I'm very happy with the result: the base is still dense and moist. The caramel layer isn't as intensely caramel-flavoured as I was expecting, but I find I can compensate with a bit of flake salt sprinkled on top. I'm totally going to make this again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cookie Cookies!

I'd heard about sandwich-cookie-stuffed-chocolate-chip-cookies a few years ago, but forget all about them until flipping through recipes in a recent cookbook acquisition. Rather than attempt the cookies suggested in the cookbook in question, I thought I'd attempt a version which uses my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. Success! I like the difference in textures that the Big Name sandwich cookies offer in the middle of the soft and gooey chocolate chip cookie, but if I'm really being honest, I prefer the chocolate chip cookies in their standalone versions. Still, they make for a helluva picture!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I have achieved the impossible!

You are looking at a vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, fudge-y, delicious brownie!

  • 18 dates, soaked and drained
  • 1 c. aseptically-packaged coconut milk (I think the stabilizers help with the texture of the brownie, so it's best to avoid the canned stuff for this recipe)
  • 1 t. cider vinegar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • ¼ c. coconut oil
  • 2 T. ground flax seed
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ c. cocoa
  • 1 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
  • ½ t. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°. Add the cider vinegar to the coconut milk. In a food processor, blend the dates, adding the coconut milk mixture. Add the vanilla, coconut oil, flax seed and salt and blend again until smooth. If clumpy, sift the cocoa powder (I found I didn't need to follow this step). In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Pour the dry ingredients into the food processor and blend briefly, taking care not to overmix. Pour/scrape the batter into a lightly-greased pan (I used a round cake pan) and bake for about 25 minutes -- this brownie should fail the "toothpick test".

These are excellent chilled!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Birthday pie!

Dad's birthday is on Sunday and we're celebrating by going out to a late lunch at our local sushi place tomorrow, followed by some homemade blueberry pie. I'm still perfecting the filling; this iteration uses a bag of frozen blueberries, about ½ cup of white sugar, the juice and zest of 1 lime and about ½ cup of flour. I've made this without flour — simply reducing the fruit mixture on the stove — and think I prefer that version.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yesterday's pizza lunch

After dropping Kara off at school yesterday, I prepped a batch of my go-to pizza dough. When lunch rolled around, I pitted some black olives, chopped mushrooms, salami and an adaptation of Vegan Richa's mozzarella recipe. I think I'll do it again.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Homemade crackers

I've been adapting my go-to pie crust recipe to make crackers instead. They're a hit around here! Recipe to follow.

Recipe for homemade crackers

225g whole wheat flour

½ tsp. salt

115g cold fat (I used ~100g of bacon fat and the rest was vegan margarine for this batch)

ice water to moisten dough

salt in salt shaker

Mix the flour and salt together. Add fat to the flour mixture and, using fingertips, rub in fat, taking care not to melt the fat. Add ice water until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least ½ hour.

When dough has firmed up, preheat oven to 400°C, lightly flour a rolling pin and a Silpat or piece of parchment on your working surface. Roll the dough out thinly on the Silpat/parchment, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into cracker-sized pieces. Shake a modest amount of salt onto the unbaked crackers. Transfer the Silpat/parchment with the cut dough onto a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until the crackers are browned. Cool baking sheet on wire rack.

Makes 2 small batches.