Sunday, August 17, 2014

Asparagus Risotto

One of the assignments I've been putting off in my Rouxbe class was Asparagus Risotto.  In my defense, I was little "riced out" between pilaf and the first risotto task.  Saturday seemed like a perfect day to tackle this one, especially after completing the home made vegetable stock recipe earlier in the week.

There's no doubt that risotto is time consuming, but the results are delicious and look mighty pretty on a plate.  As usual, you can find this recipe if you do a quick search on Rouxbe.  The dish is flavored with broth and asparagus puree.  Then it is finished with truffle oil.

I've also been working on an recipe for Oat Cheeze which I entered in the Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats recipe contest.  Expect a post about that soon!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Vegetable Tagine

Towards the end of Unit 7 (Daily Meal Inspritation) at Rouxbe, there was a one pot meal assignment.  We had two choices which were Coconut Braised Chickpeas or Vegetable Tagine.  Since I already prepared the chickpea dish in the braising chapter, I decided to try the tagine.

First of all I want to share that when the Rouxbe video started, the speaker pronounced it ta-jeen with the accent on second syllable.  This made me think that I've been pronouncing tagine wrong my entire life.  I always said tah-jeen with the accent on the first syllable.  Some google searches cleared this up.  The UK pronunciation matches the video and my pronunciation matches what we say in the US.  Who knew?  Clearly, not me.

Secondly, I worried that perhaps I needed to purchase a tagine pot.  My kitchen has been filling up with lots of new toys since starting this class, but I've been trying to limit my purchases to tools I will use on a regular basis.  Tagine pot probably doesn't fall into that category.  The videos/recipe didn't mention a special pan.  When I searched on google most folks indicated the tagine pot was mainly for presentation, so fortunately no shopping required.

You may have seen my earlier post about mise en place. I've been using this technique in my cooking more often.  It is a requirement for Rouxbe assignments.  Though I do end up with more dishes to wash, it definitely helps recipe preparation go more smoothly.  In this picture you can see some pretty decent knife cuts.  Sharp knives and practice have helped me quite a bit. The spices were toasted and then ground, so they were ready to use.

As this all cooked, I did need to prepare some secondary ingredients like olives, lemon zest and raisins.  Here is a photo of the finished dish.  It was delicious, but had quite a kick to it. The flavors did even out a bit the next day.  If you aren't a fan of spicy, it would be easy to cut down on the cracked red pepper.

Many Rouxbe recipes are available on their site even if you aren't a student.  You miss out on the video instruction though.  I'll link directly to the vegetable tagine, but keep in mind if you see a Rouxbe post from me, you can often search for Rouxbe and the recipe name (tagine in this example) and find it yourself!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Berry Patch Brownies

Last weekend we picked some blueberries at a local farm.  When I say "some", I mean almost 10 pounds.  Fresh picked berries are nothing like store bought.  The flavor is wonderful!  We were so excited to use these in smoothies, salads, old recipes and new ones.

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed, I saw a tweet from Dreena Burton about her Berry Batch Brownie recipe.  Just a quick click and I knew I had to make them.  Side note:  I really love Dreena's recipes.  Her blogs and cookbooks helped me out so much as a new vegan many years ago.  One of the great things about her recipes is that they are almost always simple to make, but are full of flavor.  Some of my favorite cookbooks by Dreena Burton are: Vive Le Vegan, The Everyday Vegan and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

When I started mixing up the brownies, I noticed we were out of regular baking cocoa.  All I had in the pantry was black onyx cocoa.  That meant I needed to add a bit more liquid to the mix and that my brownies had an even darker color.

These are dark fudgy deliciousness topped with raspberry jam, fresh blueberries and chocolate chips.  The brownies are wonderful and it's a recipe that I definitely recommend.  How beautiful do they look?

A Rouxbe update for you:

Currently I'm working on spices, umami, acids and layering flavor.

I'm getting proficient at sharpening my knives with the whetstone and honing them with a steel.  The razor sharp blades make it so easy to practice and showcase my knife cuts.

I've been making my way through chapters on basic cooking methods that involve water such as steaming or submersion.  Then we moved on to dry cooking methods like roasting and sautéing.  This is also where we learned about woks and how to stir fry.  I'm now the proud owner of a newly seasoned wok and am not afraid to play around with ingredients.

Up next were grains and beans as well as combination and one pot meals.  I'm looking forward to sharing a new post with you featuring a Moroccan Tagine that I made for class.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Drunken Peach Waffles

On July 3rd we met up with some friends at our favorite vegan restaurant, only to find they were closed for the holiday.  This gave us an opportunity to try a new place that advertised lots of vegan options.   Unfortunately, we weren't wowed by the food.  However, we did enjoy an amazing drink that they served.  The ingredients were amaretto, bourbon, lemonade, peaches and mint.

The next day we wanted to recreate the drink for some folks that stopped by our house.  A quick google search turned up Martha Stewart's recipe which used canned peaches.  Really, Martha...canned peaches?  I was pretty sure the restaurant used poached peaches in their tasty beverage, so I went in search of a poached peach recipe that seemed close the the flavor profile I remembered.  Nothing matched, so I made my own version.

If you've never skinned peaches before, check out the directions from King Arthur.  It is a simple procedure where you place the ripe peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds. When when they are ready.  Quickly move them to an ice bath and then you can easily remove the skins.  All this typing makes it seem more complicated than it is. 

Poached Peaches

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave
3/4 cup water
1 oz rum
3 whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tsp lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla

4 ripe peaches

Skin the peaches then cut them into quarters or smaller slices if you want to save on time.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add the peaches and then cook them at low temperature (barely simmering).  The timing depends on how ripe the peaches are.  Ripe peaches will likely be done in 5 minutes as they will continue to poach in the hot liquid even when the stove is off.  If your peaches aren't ripe yet, expect 10-15 minutes.  They should start to soften, but still hold their shape.

When I opened the refrigerator this morning and saw left over peaches and syrup, I decided to build a new recipe which we've named Drunken Peach Waffles.  To be honest, I used my favorite waffle recipe from Vegan Brunch as the base.  Because I could find Isa's recipe posted in numerous places online, I didn't worry too much about posting this version; however, I'm still recommending that you buy her cookbook.  It is great!

If you don't have malt syrup, you can sub: agave, maple syrup or rice syrup.

Drunken Peach Waffles inspired by Isa's Old-Fashioned Chelsea Waffles
2 cups non dairy milk (I used almond)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon of poaching syrup from the peach recipe above
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 chopped poached peaches plus extra for garnish (about 1/2 cup)


Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, use a fork  mix the milk, vinegar, oil, peach syrup and barley malt.  The malt is difficult to work with, so it may take some elbow grease.

Add remaining dry ingredients and mix everything until batter is smooth.

Fold in the chopped poached peaches.

Cook waffles according to waffle iron instructions!
For the syrup on the waffles, I took the remaining poaching liquid and reduced it over a low temperature while making the waffles.  This made for thicker consistency.

As you can see, I sliced a poached peach and served it on top. 

These are delicious!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kale Salad in a Cucumber Cup

Kale, kale, kale! Everyone is talking about the health benefits of kale and it is suddenly a staple on restaurant menus.  Curly kale is popular, but there are so many varieties like Red Russian or Dinosaur.  All I'm gonna say is that I liked kale before it was cool.  Have you always loved kale or are you a recent convert?

One of the latest assignments for my Plant Based Rouxbe course focused on kale.  We learned about the different ways to wilt raw kale for salads.  One of the suggestions for our wilted leftovers was a kale, radish and avocado salad. 

Often times I find that some dishes are too salty for me, so I skipped it here. For this salad, Rouxbe also had a tasty recipe for a sesame, sunflower seed and spice topping.  The cucumber cup looks really pretty and wasn't too difficult to put together...though there may or may not have been mild cussing involved.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Last weekend, my girlfriend procured two cans of Young's Double Chocolate Stout.  Though I'm not a fan of dark beers, I asked that she save some so I could make Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule.

When I searched through old blog posts, I noticed that I had mentioned making these before in 2006.  Apparently, I didn't care for the recipe much at the time, though I may have baked them too long.

This time around we both loved these cupcakes.   They have a rich chocolate flavor and are uber moist.  Cocoa powder, sugar, flour and a little bit of oil make a delicious chocolate crumble on top.

You might have noticed the silicone liner in the photo.  I received these Cupcake Liners from The New York Baking Company on Amazon to test and review.  These were quite nice compared to another brand I tried in the past.  There's a full review of mine over on the product page, so I won't bore you with it here.

Instead I'll tell you these are definitely one of my favorite cupcakes from Isa's book.  I'm glad I gave them a second chance.  If you haven't tried them yet, add them to your list. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Red and White Quinoa Kale Salad

Quick update: Recently added Forbidden City Bistro to the Vegchic New England Dining Blog. Check out the post and delicious photos over at

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the Rouxbe Plant Based Cooking Course which I have been excited about starting.  It actually began while I was camping up at Acadia.  I broke out my Kindle, wrangled up a wifi connection, and was able to watch the intro videos.  It is nice that the Rouxbe site works on many platforms and I didn't need to bring a laptop with me.

The first homework assignment was documenting the preparation of my go-to dish.  This was designed to get students accustomed to the photo/upload/grading process.  A portion of the grade was based on a photo of our mise en place.  This is a term I had heard before but never really understood.  For anyone who doesn't know, this is a French phrase which means "putting in place."  Gathering all of your ingredients and getting them ready to go before you start cooking prevents rushing around, trying to simultaneously measure, cook, chop, and add ingredients in time.  It also means you don't get half way through a recipe and notice you are out of cashews.

Here's a photo of my mise en place.  Any ideas as to what I am planning to prepare?

Late last year, I was a recipe tester for an upcoming cookbook titled Going Vegan: The Complete Guide to Making a Healthy Transition to a Plant-Based Lifestyle (Available August 2014).  Our absolute favorite recipe from this book is the Red and White Quinoa and Kale Salad.  The ingredients are fresh, the sauce is wonderful and you can enjoy this as a side or a meal.

Here's the finished product.  Normally, I'd steam the kale.  This time I tried massaging in the the sauce.  It is great either way!