Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Fruit on the Bottom

Camp season means I don't have time to chew (or blog, if you can tell), so soy yogurt has become my go to breakfast. Last year I kicked it with almond butter, nutmeg, and agave, or almond extract and cinnamon. A little more confident about cooking fruit, I decided to take a whack at creating my own fruit on the bottom substance.
 For the strawberries, I didn't hull mine, which added a lot of non-flavor and moisture, so the color dulled considerably before the berries had cooked enough. You don't have to hull them, but I'd suggest it. For the peaches, you can peel yours, but I found it tiresome. You'll see in the recipe that the sugar is not exact. This is because it really depends on how sweet your fruit is. Start with less, then add more if you see that you're not getting a syrup and your fruit is mushing up.

 These jam-like substances are also nice on waffles or toast, ice cream, or oatmeal. 

Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom
(makes about 1 pint)

1 lb of fresh strawberries, cleaned, de-leafed, hulled, and chopped, bruised spots discarded
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 T lemon juice

1. Add all of the ingredients to a small pot and cook over medium low heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until a syrup forms and the fruit is soft. Remove from heat and place in a heat proof glass container. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator.

Ginger Peach Fruit on the Bottom
(makes about 1 pint)

Substitute 4 fresh peaches, chopped and bruised parts and pits discarded for the strawberries and add 1 T fresh grated ginger. Follow the directions above.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lavender Cupcakes

Spring has been busy around here, with work, chorus, writing, and spending time in the now tolerable outdoors. These cupcakes are pure springtime.

 I bought lavender from the farmers market in Cambridge to make this shortbread recipe back in the fall, but made almond and vanilla bean flavors to go with my apple butter instead.

The cupcake recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's white cupcake. Lavender flowers make it elegant instead of plain, and we ate it with my attempt at green tea frosting, which failed miserably. These are great plain and served with tea, either an herbal or Earl Grey.

Enjoy the Spring!

Lavender Cupcakes
(makes about 16 large cupcakes)

3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 T soymilk
1/2 cup plus 6 T Earth Balance, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
5 Ener-G egg whites (directions on box)
2 T dried lavender flowers, stems removed and gently crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the vanilla into the soymilk.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the Earth Balance until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of the soymilk. Stir after each addition until just combined.

3. In a separate bowl beat the Ener-G eggs until frothy and soft peaks form. Gently fold one third of the Ener-G eggs into the batter. Add the rest of the Ener-G eggs and fold gently, along with the lavender.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes and allow to cool completely. Transfer immediately to an airtight container until serving. Can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. Microwave for 10 seconds to soften, if necessary, allowing to cool before serving.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Iced Masala Chai

Who doesn't love a good chai tea on a chilly day? I was hoping to share my chai recipe with you sometime during the cooler weather, but it never happened, and here we are well into spring.

This recipe starts out hot and then is cooled in the fridge, so you can skip to cooling part of the recipe for hot chai. My recipe is adapted from this one at Cheap Healthy Good. 

As for the type of tea, Veggie Might of CHG uses keemun, but I haven't been able to find it, so I use assam, which is the main tea used in the English Breakfast blend. I have also used Lapsang Souchong, which is smoked black tea, and Mango Black tea from Trader Joes. Whatever tea you use, make sure it's a strong one, otherwise the spices completely overpower it. You can prep this chai black and then add soymilk when you serve if your pitcher is too small (which mine was).

To crush the spices, put the cinnamon sticks in a towel and then hammer them into chunks, and the smaller spices you can grind how you please. I don't recommend already ground spices--the flavor isn't as strong or fresh.

Iced Masala Chai
(makes about 14 cups)


12 cinnamon sticks, crushed
2 tsp cloves, crushed
2 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
1 T allspice berries, crushed
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
12 cups water
5 1/3 cups soymilk or 4 cups soy creamer
3/4 cup agave
3/4 cup black tea

1. Add all spices to water in a large saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Add the soymilk or creamer and agave and bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Turn off the heat, add the tea leaves, cover, and steep for ONLY 2-3 minutes. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over another pot.

4. Strain the chai into the other pot and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a pitcher and put in the refrigerator to chill.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Salted Caramel Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I finally made caramel without burning it, and I have the Sweet Savory Life to thank for it! Her step by step pictures and clear instructions paved the way for many more jars of caramel sauce to make its way out of my kitchen.

This recipe is inspired by a lovely cookbook I received for Christmas from Deb, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. Out of the 175 recipes, this one caught my eye first. The chocolate cake is easy to make (no electric mixer!), rich, and delicious. The recipe calls for frosting, but I found it unnecessary, even overbearing. The caramel may harden a little and/or soak through the cake, so they are best eaten the same day they are filled.

 Salted Caramel Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes about 18 regular cupcakes or 56 mini cupcakes)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Ener-G eggs
3/4 cup soymilk + 1 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice
3 T vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water
Caramel sauce (substituting soy creamer and 1 T Earth Balance for heavy cream and Earth Balance for butter)
Fleur de sel

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the Ener-G eggs, soymilk and vinegar or lemon juice, oil, vanilla, and water. Beat until smooth and combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2. Divide the batter evenly among muffin tins. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, for about 10-15 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, turning out onto racks after and cool completely.

3. Make the caramel sauce.

4. Cut a cone shape into each cupcake and fill with cooled caramel sauce. Sprinkle a little Fleur de sel onto the caramel. Press each cupcake cone gently into the caramel and enjoy! 


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jasmine Tea-Infused Hot Chocolate

Corey discovered tea-infused hot chocolate before I did. Without looking at the site (until just now) I was instantly inspired to try it out. Winter brings out the hot chocolate monster in me--warm beverages are a must, but there's nothing like steamed chocolatey goodness to chase the nip of New England cold away.

I've tried making a few varieties (Earl Grey, peach black, chocolate mint oolong), but the jasmine tea is by far my favorite. It's sophisticated, but comforting. You can use this recipe for any tea, just keep the ratio the same. If you have some of those disgusting Bigelow dessert teas (french vanilla, vanilla caramel, etc.) this would be a fabulous way to get rid of them!

In terms of jasmine teas, I highly recommend Mighty Leaf's Jasmine Green Tea. It has an excellent flavor, but can be very expensive. My next choice is Trader Joe's Jasmine Green Tea. 

Jasmine Tea - Infused Hot Chocolate
(makes 1 large 16 oz cup or 2 8 oz cups)

2 bags jasmine tea, steeped in 6 oz hot water
10 oz soy milk
hot chocolate mix (I like Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
sugar to taste

1. Steep the tea for 2-3 minutes in a large cup. While the tea steeps, heat up the soy milk in a microwave safe bowl or over the stove in a saucepan, but not to boiling. Mix in the hot chocolate to taste, slightly stronger than you would drink it.

2. Discard the tea bags and add the hot chocolate to the cup. Add sugar to taste and enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grapefruit-Blood Orange Marmalade

I have been going back and forth over whether or not I should make this marmalade. I bought all of the ingredients and then couldn't decide between two recipes: one that lets the grapefruit sit overnight, but requires a candy thermometer, and another one that has a million steps. And then I began to wonder if I would even use the marmalade, or if anyone would like it.

What brought me back to my senses was a box of Honeybells, delivered to my place of work by a kind swim team parent. Honeybells are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. Who thought of that? Tangerines are tiny, juicy, and sweet, and grapefruit are enormous, tart, and tangy. Honeybells are essentially big tangerines that are slightly less sweet. Now I'm ready again for citrus, (though, as I eat my Honeybell, I'm reminded that citrus gives me uncontrollable hiccups.)

I went with the recipe of a million steps, because I realized, reading it again, that many of them are canning steps that I know already, and this one is a relatively simple process. The thing that takes the longest is preparing the rinds and fruit, but it's well worth it to follow the directions so you don't have odd textures or some serious bitterness in your marmalade.

Because marmalade requires the rind of the fruit, buy organic fruit if you can. Pesticides don't make for good eats. The flavor of marmalade relies on how you prepare the fruit, so take special care to slice the peel thinly, and to include as little of the pith (the soft white meat that separates the peel from the fruit membrane) as possible--it's incredibly bitter. The same goes for the membrane, which encases the pulp of each section. I didn't put the pulp of the blood oranges into the mixture because I couldn't separate it from the membrane, so I just juiced mine. Slicing the rind from the pith takes a lot of practice, so don't worry about it if some of your peelings are unusable--I only used about 1/3 of the rind out of all of the fruit. It turned out fine!

Traditional marmalade recipes use the membranes, seeds, and sometimes the pith to extract the natural pectin from the fruit to create a set. I decided to go the liquid route for a few reasons: one, taste--I like fruit spreads to be sweet; two, convenience--the balance of sugar to fruit and the time that you boil the mixture is very delicate. If you boil it too long, or there's too much sugar, or not enough sugar, the pectin will lose its gelatinousness, and you'll have syrup instead of spread. If I'm going to spend a few hours making this, it had better work!

Just a quick note, it may take up to two weeks for the marmalade to set, so plan ahead!

Grapefruit - Blood Orange Marmalade
(makes about 4 pints)

2 large ruby red grapefruits
3 blood oranges
1 1/2 cups water
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 3 oz package liquid fruit pectin

1. Sterilize the jars, lids, and bands according the directions.

Prepare the fruit:
2. Slice each fruit in half length-wise. Slice the peel off of the fruit, leaving as much of the pith on the fruit as possible. With a sharp knife, slice the peel into matchstick width, 1" long pieces. Separate the pulp from the membranes and set it aside in a large bowl with the juice. If necessary, juice the blood oranges.

Cook the marmalade:
3. Add the water and fruit peel to a large pot, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fruit and juice and repeat, but for 10 minutes.

4. Add the sugar and stir well. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the liquid fruit pectin and boil hard for 1 minute.

5. Skim off any foam and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. Let sit on a towel for an hour and check for a seal by pressing down on the lid. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake

Wow, it has been a crazy holiday season. I got back from my trip to MD (which was full of wonderful culinary adventures), had a week of swim camp to run (indoor snowball fights, icebergs, and prehistoric megafauna are no joke), and then our regular swim lessons started up again. Over the course of the first week in 2010, I received two more xmas presents from Corey: a subscription to National Geographic and Cooks Illustrated.

I fell in love with Cooks Illustrated ages ago. No, they are not a vegan publication, but I've been veganizing long enough to figure that stuff out myself. In addition, they really focus on the food science, which comes in handy when veganizing anyway. So, no, I won't make the beefiest beef stew, but I will make perfect baked apples, Austrian potato salad, and cream cheese-filled coffee cake.

The topping called for is crunchy and light: lemon-sugar-almond. Unfortunately, Corey does not do lemon, and our friend Adam is allergic to almonds, so I skipped a topping altogether and didn't miss it!

A couple of notes: My batter wasn't like a cake batter--it was more similar to brownie batter. Very thick and difficult to spread. If this happens to yours, no worries, you're doing it right. My cream cheese filling also spread a lot out to the sides and it even baked up to the top of the cake. It actually left a very pretty marble pattern on the top, and the slightly browned edges of cream cheese were a pleasant surprise. Lastly, the cake fell a lot after I took it out of the oven, and I suspect that it didn't rise as well as it should because there was a big delay between getting the batter together and actually baking it--Ener-G Eggs loose their potency the longer you wait to bake your goods. The results were totally delicious anyway. Moist and soft vanilla cake with a drizzle of sweetened cream cheese in every bite? Count me in!

Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake
serves 14-16

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/8 t baking powder
1 1/8 t baking soda
1 t salt
10 T Earth Balance, slightly softened
1 cup 2 T sugar 
1/2 T lemon zest
4 Ener-G Eggs
5 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Sour Supreme

8 oz Better Than Cream Cheese
2 t vanilla extract
5 T sugar
1/4 c coffee cake batter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10" tube pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add Ener-G eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing well until combined, followed by half of the sour cream, mixing well. Repeat using half of the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the sour cream, followed again by the rest of the flour mixture, mixing again until combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in any remaining flour.

3. Reserve 1 1/4 cup batter and set aside. Spoon the remaining batter into the prepped tube pan and smooth the top.

4. Return the mixing bowl to the stand mixer and beat the Better Than Cream Cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, for about 1 minute. Add the reserved 1/4 cup batter to the mixture and mix until incorporated.

5. Spoon the Better Than Cream Cheese filling into the tube pan, keeping it about 1 inch from the sides. Spread the remaining cup of batter over the filling and smooth the top. Tap twice on the counter firmly to dislodge any bubbles.

6. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes, and a cake tester inserted comes out clean (if inserted into the cheese it will be wet). Remove the pan from the oven and tap firmly on the counter twice to dislodge air bubbles (cake may fall at this point).

7. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Gently invert the cake and remove it from the pan (I needed Corey's help for this part.) and allow it to cool for another hour, then slice and serve.