Thursday, May 30, 2013

Panzanella Salad

One of my favorite vegan restaurants is Eden in Bar Harbor, Maine.  The menu consists of amazing seasonal dishes.  I've got quite a backlog of photos from Eden to post for you on my vegan dining guide .  We were lucky enough to dine there twice over Memorial day weekend.  The food was spectacular, but my girlfriend always talks about a dish she got there last summer.  It was just a simple panzanella salad that left such an impression.

The first time I had a panzanella salad was many years ago when I was studying in Spain.  My professor decided to have a party. Each of the students was responsible for going to a shop and purchasing one ingredient.  Then we all met later and built the salad.  To be honest, I thought dipping bread in the tomato juice/salad dressing mix was weird.  However, I was surprised to find that it was quite delicious.  Though I occasionally order panzanella at a restaurant, I've never made it again until today!

A few weeks ago, I bookmarked a panzanella recipe from America's Test Kitchen because I thought we might enjoy it just as much.  (Unfortunately to see that recipe along with their whole collection, you may need to share your email address with them.  Test Kitchen is a great site!)

I picked up a nice loaf of French bread on the way home and cubed it.  Then tossed it with olive oil and salt.  Next I baked at a high temperature for 15 minutes or so, to develop some crunch.

The rest is mainly chopping.  Though the tomatoes need to rest after being tossed with salt.  This helps bring out the juice which is used in a simple vinaigrette dressing.   Once the vinaigrette is made, it is mixed in with the crunchy bread cubes and left to marinate for a few minutes before plating everything.

Overall we both really liked this salad.  Though to us, the shallot was a little sharp.  Instead, I recommend some red onion or perhaps a Vidalia.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake

Over the holidays, my girlfriend gave me a beautiful blue bundt cake pan and I've been itching to use it. Then I happened to see that Isa posted this new recipe for a Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake. All I needed was an occasion for such a delicacy. Well, last weekend the in-laws came to visit and it seemed like a perfect time to try out the recipe. I'll warn you that my photo didn't do the cake justice.

As per usual, I tweaked the recipe a wee bit.  It calls for 1 cup of cocoa powder, but I used 3/4 cup and subbed in a 1/4 cup of black cocoa. Black cocoa has a deeper dark chocolate flavor which makes me happy and, of course, it adds a darker color as well.  Because I failed to read the recipe before shopping, it turned out I needed more than the lonely container of coconut yogurt I'd purchased. While you should learn a lesson here (or perhaps I should), the recipe turned out just fine because fortunately, we had some left over vegan sour cream which I used instead.

The cake itself turned out beautifully.  The pictures, however, taken with my phone on a dreary morning of a black cocoa cake on an espresso finished table didn't really seem worth posting.  You'll have to settle for a slightly less terrible picture showing just one slice of cake.

Isa sprinkled powder sugar on the top of the bundt, but my girlfriend suggested a peanut butter glaze.  After a bunch of Internet searches, I couldn't really find what we had in mind.  That meant some improvisation.

The glaze is basically powdered sugar, peanut butter, soymilk, and a dash of vanilla.  At first it wasn't quite thick enough but rather than adding more sugar, some powdered peanut butter worked quite well as far as consistency and flavor. There were a few pb powder chunks that didn't dissolve, but next time I would try mixing the powder with soymilk first or simply using more good ol' peanut butter.

Behold the best (or shall we say not worst) picture I could muster.  It is my goal to stop being lazy and actually charge my digital camera.

The cake was a hit with everyone and I'd definitely recommend the recipe!