3/21/2016

vegan oatmeal strawberry scones

Yum

I've really never agreed with anything more than this statement (as you can see). And though any morning pastry will do the trick, I'm a big believer in scones. They've got a little bit of everything good, work well sweet or savory, aren't too overloaded with sugar (when they are sweet, that is) which makes them the perfect vehicle for jam.


Vegan baking has as much if not more science behind it than regular baking, and yet, vegan scones aren't exactly a big mystery. Somehow I've never managed to mess them up. And when you take two of my favorite ordinary breakfast ingredients (oatmeal and fresh berries of any kind), I'll wake up as early as I have to in order to get one (or two) of those on my plate.


For this recipe, you'll need:

For the scones:

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour**
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegan butter**
3/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the glaze:**

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
2-3 tablespoons fresh strawberry juice

**If you'd rather use all whole wheat, swap this 1/2 cup for whole wheat flour as well. 
**Earth Balance is my go-to choice here, but solid coconut oil also works great.
**Optional, but totally recommended. If you don't have fresh strawberry juice or the means to make some (mashing them up works, too), just substitute more almond milk to get your glaze at the right texture.



Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, add your apple cider vinegar to your almond milk and set aside to allow to curdle, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix your flax egg together to allow to congeal. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, pulse together all your dry ingredients minus the oatmeal (you don't want it to get too chopped up before baking). After about ten pulses to make sure all the ingredients are evenly dispersed, add your oatmeal. Add your vegan butter, cut into one-inch pieces, and pulse about ten more times. What you're looking for is the dough to be crumbly with no big chunks of butter remaining.


Transfer everything to a large bowl. Gently fold in your strawberries and then create a well in the center of your ingredients. Whisk your flax egg into your almond milk/vinegar combo and pour the mixture into the well. Fold together, again gently, to avoid crushing the strawberries and over-mixing the dough.


When it all comes together (it will still be a little on the wet side), lightly flour a clean countertop and your hands (also clean, right?). Transfer your dough to the countertop and quickly shape it into a round that's about two inches thick. Using a floured dough-cutter (or serrated knife), slice into eight triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until slightly golden on the edges or a toothpick comes out clean.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. While you're waiting, you can whisk together your glaze ingredients (if you're using) and set aside. When the scones aren't piping hot, drizzle the glaze across the top of your scones.



Since scones are always best the day of (yes, this is my written permission that you eat them all) and everyone knows a morning pastry is better warm, you should definitely make these the morning you plan to eat them. But who has time for that unless it's Saturday? Well, you do, because you mixed up all your dry ingredients the night before like the genius you are. That way it only took you about 15 minutes to get these in the oven. (I'm saying I did this, of course, which you already get because you are still a genius. But you could try it this way, too, if you hadn't already thought of it yourself, smartypants.)



Some more scones, you say?







3/14/2016

vegan carrot ginger loaf cake

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You know that feeling you get when a craving hits you so suddenly out of nowhere? It's a mix of "Where did that come from?" and "I need to have that now." Well, wherever the craving bellowed in from, you're plain out of luck if it's something you had months ago, even years ago, which has definitely happened to me before. What then? You can't just conjure up a perfectly fried dumpling you once had on a freezing cold side street in New York City. And if you can, give me a call.


But this time my craving was much more, well, acute: a carrot-ginger loaf cake from Boxcar Coffee Roasters on Pearl Street. Whatever they're doing in that kitchen over there, it's magical. If you told me this thing was baked by tiny dancing elves, I'd have no trouble believing you. I would just wonder how they stirred the bowl being so small, but my imagination can fill in that it was a solid team effort.


I only got my hands on one of these beauties sometime last fall. It was a piece of perfect. I don't know how else to describe it. Not overwhelmingly ginger-y or carrot-y and a pleasant surprise guest to the overload of other orange-colored stuff (pumpkin, pumpkin, everywhere you look) on display that time of year.

So imagine my surprise when I'm standing barefoot and wearing shorts in my kitchen on a surprisingly warm early March Sunday when my brain/stomach (I have reason to believe they are conjoined at the hip; not mine, theirs) bellowed: CAAAARROTTTTT GINGGGGER CAAAAKE. In that exact voice, I swear. You know the one I'm talking about.


Anyway, I answered the call, I always do. And while this didn't 100% come out as an exact replica of what I remember, it was still pretty amazing as it's own carrot-ginger entity. Which is the pure bonus of trying to recreate a recipe you really like. It's either exactly what you had in mind or it's a new win all on its own.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded (as fine as possible!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon carrot purée**
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped (optional, but, come on)

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

**Carrot purée, you say? Here's how I did it: I roasted three large-ish carrots for about 45 minutes in a 400-degree oven and threw them in a blender with a bit of unsweetened almond milk and blended until smooth. Sound complicated? Yeah, I know. I was just trying to stay true to the carrot. You could sub this purée with something more easily found in your grocery store like pumpkin, butternut or sweet potato. You could also try applesauce. Or you could make your own purée and save the extra for risotto for dinner. Either way, it's a good idea.


Oh, and the glaze is a totally if-you-feel-like-it addition. The original cake I was trying to duplicate didn't have it (oops) but it does add a little extra something.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together your shredded carrots, brown sugar, carrot purée, and olive oil. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Gradually add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, folding together with each addition.


Transfer your batter to your prepared pan, scattering in your candied ginger throughout as you pour. Transfer to your oven for 50-60 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and/or a toothpick comes out clean.

Place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake out of the pan. If you plan on using the glaze (just whisk all the ingredients except the candied ginger together in a small bowl), wait until the cake it completely cooled to avoid it melting all over the place. While the glaze is still fresh, sprinkle your remaining candied ginger on top.


I'm pretty sure I already overdid it on emphasizing just how good this is, but seriously: so good. It's not the same as the one from Boxcar, but it was still amazing. Next I'll have to try to veganize an amazing sticky bun I had there recently. But that's another day.

There's more than one way to cut a carrot:






3/07/2016

vegan rosewater pistachio ice cream

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Alright, this is officially the most daring ice cream flavor I've tried to date. Floral stuff can be tricky. Too little and you're like okay, what is this, too much and you're wondering who accidentally spilled their perfume in the bowl. It's a seriously fine line between just enough and way too much, so I tasted it carefully as I went, held back just a little and came out with something pretty amazing (at least I think so).


This is definitely not dessert in the standard sense. It's a little lighter and a lot less peanut butter covered in chocolate. It's less obvious, I guess, so it's not for everyone. But it's definitely worth a try. If you're feeling iffy about it, you could always half the recipe until you're sure it's good to you (trust me, it's goooood).


For this recipe you'll need:

2 15-ounce cans organic coconut milk (Full fat is best!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons rosewater**
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
1 cup toasted pistachios, shelled and chopped
1-2 tablespoons beet juice, for color (optional)***

**Rosewater will definitely be easy to find in a specialty store like a Middle Eastern market, but then the trick becomes tracking down your local Middle Eastern market. If you don't have one nearby, Whole Foods might have you covered: check in the aisle with the maple syrups and molasses.

***Totally just an added bonus, but this gives the ice cream its beautiful and somewhat-expected pale pink color. If you can't find beet juice or don't own a juicer, you could spring for some pomegranate juice or just leave the color as is. It's all about the flavor anyway, right? 


In a medium stockpot, add your coconut milk, vanilla sugar and rosewater. I added the rosewater in 1/2 tablespoon increments just to make sure it wasn't too much. You can do that do if you'd like to decide if you'd prefer less or more, but I think three is the sweet spot. Bring this mixture to a light simmer over medium heat, whisking vigorously to make sure the sugar is dissolved and everything is evenly incorporated.


Put a few tablespoons (two to three) of your warm mixture into a small bowl. Add your arrowroot and whisk together until completely smooth. Add the arrowroot mixture back to your base. Whisk together for about one minute more (add your beet juice here if you're using it) and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat.


Transfer your ice cream base to a large bowl and refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or up to overnight. Once completely chilled, it's time to churn: add to your ice cream maker of choice and follow the given instructions for your appliance. (If you're using the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment, like me, the churning will take about 15-20 minutes on a medium speed.)


Transfer your ice cream to a freezer safe container (layering the pistachios in between) and move your container to the very back of your freezer to harden completely. This should take about 4-6 hours, depending on the coldness of your freezer.


This is definitely the girly girl of ice creams. I feel like maybe that role was once reserved for strawberry or something else traditionally pink, but this one is officially the new kid in town, the one with a little mystery and a little hint of life experience. It might seem crazy to invent a personality for a frozen dessert, but give it a taste and let me know if that doesn't sound spot on to you.

Let me know what you think!


Looking for some other ways to sweeten the deal?