lately

I’m just going to come out and say it. Hi. My name is Jess. I have a camera and a blog and here’s the flow of what I’ve been up to lately:

Smoked Potato Cheese: Take 2, Creamy Edition. I'll post the recipe after one more test run before Heartichoke.

Have I mentioned that I'm digging my stovetop smoker? Well, I am. Smoked Cherry Tomato & Kale Raab Pesto Bruschetta

Kale Raab Bistro Chowder; Bruschetta. Bistro Chowder Recipe from Appetite for Reduction. Farewell, Soup Season.

Tofu Cube Toss with Smoked Tomatoes, Roasted Red Pepper, Maitake Mushrooms, Kalamata Olives, Collard Raab; Mac & Cheddar Teese Sauce with Miso & Collard Raab. This ain't no wimpy scramble.

Baked Saffron Rice with Roasted Peppers. The recipe will be in the Spring issue of T.O.F.U. Magazine. Zomg.

From a small dinner party: Baked Saffron Rice with Roasted Peppers, Serrano Seitan Ham over Kale, Roasted Potato Bread and Blood Orange & Grapefruit Marinated Olives, etc.

Galician Empanada Pie with Smoked Soy Curls & Serrrano Ham, Take 1. Will be working on the conrmeal crust and spice factor.

TGI Return of the FarMar & Multi-Color Carrots. There are white carrots in the empanada pie, yo.

From the PPK Test Kitchen: Cappuccino Mousse Pie with Rad Whip. I'll get the fluffin' up next time.

From the PPK Test Kitchen: Manhattan Mud Pie. Photo by Lucas DeShazer. Truly, one of the few times you'll ever see me in the backround of a photo here.

Portland Hidden Gems are up next. Really.

and the pie goes on

Non-stop pie making continues with 2 more from the PPK test kitchen: Cashew Creme Apple Crumb and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Cashew Creme Apple Crumb with golden raisins

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a swirl and spiced chocolate cookie crust

Back to the land of Vida Vegan Con and Vegan Iron Chef planning for me!

Rolling out pie crusts is way therapeutic.

the dawning of the pie

So, I currently have a few friends who are into no-sugar cleanses. Personally, I think it’s a sensible idea, but it’s become a little too trendy for my tastes and I’ve been busy stockpiling my organic, evaporated cane juice for an important reason: recipe testing for the newest in-progress Post Punk Kitchen cookbook has begun! I’m pretty much resurrecting The Piehole’s delivery service for all my local friends and humming the pie song from Waitress on a creepy, regular basis while wearing my cuter aprons.

I’ve warmed my feet in the syrup waters with two projects so far:

First up, Strawberry Handpies in Puffy Pie Dough

Each handpie is topped with coarse sugar and heart-shaped slits for my friend Millie’s Heartwarming party. Regardless of oozing some of the filling, they’re so freaking cute!!! And they rode a bus!!

Secondly, Sweet Potato Brazil Nut Crunch Pie in a Single Pastry Crust

This was the first pie I’ve sliced and hand-delivered to friends. Go, go magic pie and crust making!

Apple Cashew Creme Crumb is up next!

Tis the Tofurkey Day MoFo: Kabocha Squash Pot Pie, Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie & Dinner with Friends

I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.

Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:

My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.

Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.

The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks,  so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.

Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:

Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.

The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:

Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:

Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.

Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:

My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:

Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!

My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved.  And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.

Note: I did not make people drink out of them.

A Day in the Life #1: VeganMoFo Begins & White Russian Pie

Let me be amongst the nearly 550+ vegans to proudly announce, “Happy Vegan MoFo!”*

This marks Year IV of MoFo creativity – and this year, I’ll not only be participating in daily posts, I’ll also be helping with the official round ups, too. Aka I’m supposed to spend all day reading vegan blogs! Ah, ah.

As for my plan for this year, the year of the theme, I’m committing to something simple, yet open-ended: A Day in the Life. Sure, I could do something cute, like A Scone a Day, but even I don’t want to eat a scone every single day. I mean, I would, but I’d want to eat a different scone everyday, and it seems silly to make a batch of scone an evening and my single-serving vegan scone cookbook is on the back-burner. Not. I do intend to write daily, because I have this issue with my words being stale. We’ll see what happens, but the aim is to have at least one photo per day, whether it’s a morning latte, simmering pot of soup, impromptu recipe and turn out, blind kitchen project, or a shot of something from an in-the-works Stumptown Vegans piece.

It may become more like…yesterday in the life, or earlier today in the life, or for this exception (see the asterisk below already) – last Saturday, in the life.

dude pie

Shocker, it’s not orange and black for the seasonal weekend, but pale and creamy, which still makes sense. I made this White Russian and chocolate coconut cream pie for a Big Lebowski viewing. There’s an organic spelt crust (store-bought) with a big layer of dark chocolate, soft tofu, chocolate liquor, coconut creamer, Mexican coffee liquor, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, and Tofutti sour cream. Lesson learned: I tried to outsmart the chocolate layer’s dominance by baking it for 20 minutes and cooling before adding the White Russian layer, but it had the last laugh and absorbed most of it, anyway.

*starting late due to illness.

apple fest and apple-tastic inspiration

The apple of my eye.

 

I continued my yearly tradition of stopping by the always bigger & better apple fest & tasting at the Portland Nursery over the weekend. Shortage of time and frankly, overwhelming lines, made my visit the quickest yet, but I definitely got what I came for: a variety of tart apples and firm pears, largely including my beloved McIntosh and 3 types of Asian pears. After a couple of grocery errands later in the day, project #1 and project #2 took off.

Project #1: Homemade Apple Liquor

Reason: Because DIY, class, and booze roll together in my life, apple puckers suck, and I’ve wanted to recreate the amber, apple liquor I liked so when I studied abroad in the Netherlands, too many years ago.

Apple Liquor, Day 1

 

 

Step 1 includes vodka, brandy, apples, and patience.

 

Project #2: VWAM’S Apple Sage Sausages, turned Roast.

Reason: I’ve made the original recipe for Jayne’s  seitan sausages a couple of times. The flavor is incredible, and totally right for fall. I tend to make seitan sausages every couple of months, and haven’t made simmered, or baked seitan, in quite some time, so this project merged all the wheaty goodness. I made some changes to the original recipe, like using roasted apples instead of dried, doubled it, and baked it in broth with sliced garlic. The verdict? We’ll see, and so will the friend I gave a loaf to.

 

Pre-baked!! Apple Potato Sage Seitan Roast

 

Project #3: Apple, Asian Pear & Brandy Crumb Pie (adapted from the Apple Butterscotch Pie in American Vegan Kitchen).

Reason: I had fruit and a housewarming to go to! The dual fruits spent a few hours mingling in brandy & maple syrup before baking. Not only was I happy with the outcome of this, it again proved itself bus-ride-worthy. I love that in a pie.

 

Apple, Asian Pear & Brandy Pie

 

berry picking, subsequently followed by strawberry chocolate swirl cream pie

Blueberry Fields Forever, Sauvie Island


bluebs

I had my first taste of berry picking fulfillment this past weekend with a few friends.  As usual, it was a berry stained dress of a blast. Getting to farms and carrying home pounds of berries is problematic without a car (or ambition to drive), so I am thrilled when it happens. Carpe diem! Carpe bacca!

There are more sensible places to bike or bus to for free blackberries, though they’re not in season yet. We were at Sauvie Island for the varieties of strawberries, including the last of the precious Hoods, blueberries, and a few raspberries.

The first farm we went to, Bella Organics, had some sweet little Hoods left, but their larger Seascapes weren’t at all flavorful. The second farm we hit, Sauvie Island Farms, offered more bounty and entertainment:  we got to ride through the fields on a tractor, pick berries, and pick our own cabbages! I was very content being lost in thought in their blueberry trees for some time.

The next day, I made a strawberry and chocolate swirl cream pie to celebrate the national holiday, friends, berries, and pie.

pie

Strawberry and Chocolate Swirl Cream Pie:

Both layers were sweetened minimally with dark agave and thickened with soft tofu, cornstarch and soaked cashews. The chocolate layer was also made with 70% dark chocolate and some strawberries and just a few blueberries, to deepen the flavor. A strawberry layer was poured down first, and then the mass of chocolate filling, and more strawberry swirled in.  It was baked for 35 minutes at 350F and firmed in the fridge.

Slices were celebrated with Tom Collinses, Katy Perry, Nintendo and Pabst.

Special thanks to the Vita-Mix for pureeing magic, as usual. I made a point to make this up as I went along, so no recipe. It had a teeny amount of that ‘tofu pie’ thing going on, but not enough to piss me off. The pretty swirl distracted me. Next time I make it I’ll add a bit more agave and berries, and who the hell knows, maybe take it cheesecake style.

pie

I saw little kids elsewhere, but no sign of baby eyes here.

yes

Highlight of the week.

farms

Time to pick the berries.

hood

Bella’s check out.

farm check out

Blackberries weren’t what anyone would call ‘ready’ yet, which is extra sad, because I think they’re my favorite berry of the past 20 months. See you guys in a few weeks!

berry

Bluebs at Sauvie Farms

bluebs

Lastly, my new friend, the biggest carrot I’ve ever seen. From Sun Gold Farms at the Portland Farmers Market, purchased earlier that morning:

giant carrot

Potentially hilarious meal presentation to hopefully follow.

Petunia’s Pastries, be still my heart-shaped vegan heart

Mini Marionberry Pies $5.95/each

Last year, I was introduced to Petunia’s Pastries during their premiere Last Thursday on NE Alberta via my friend Michelle Crocodile. I sampled one of their very few vegan offerings at the time, a beautiful Chocolate Hazelnut cupcake. This was before I was aware of my stupid new hazelnut allergy, and I can still look back fondly about that rich & dreamy dessert.

This year, Petunia’s temporarily opened the season at the glorious PSU Market and now most of their case is usually vegan – and gluten-free! They’ve moved to the Sunday King Market and will be starting at the brand new Pioneer Square Market on Mondays next month. I took my first visit to the King’s Market in NE to revisit Petunia’s this past weekend. To my awe-filled delight, everything in the case just happened to be entirely vegan! It was a rainy day, and sweetness overcame gloom.

I picked up the cutest Marionberry pie I have ever seen in my life (and I’ve been looking at a lot of pies lately at The Piehole). Juicy, luscious berry filling with an even sweeter heart-shaped adornment. So juicy you almost make up a song in your head about it.

My friend Lucas documented:

Petunia’s also does custom orders and was recently raved about by former Portland Trailblazer and famous Yelper, Channing Frye, on his blog.The next time you’re at the market for some kale, stop by Petunia’s for a pretty decadent treat! They may a new kid on the block, but they’re certainly a growing, welcome addition to the Portland Vegan-Friendly Bakery Scene, and a new highlight at the farmers markets.

Apple Butterscotch Pie, Diners & American Vegan Kitchen

apple pie, meet the no longer so elusive vegan butterscotch chips. thanks to Tamasin, you’re going to be great friends.

Apple B'scotch

I had a hard time deciding what to make first from Tamisan Noyes’ diner-themed American Vegan Kitchen cookbook.  Rather, I had a hard time getting her amazing-sounding Battered Avocado Wedges out of my head, and as it is, the book’s theme offers so many possibilities!

Diners were a big part of my younger years and the default place to go…after anything. After your sister’s dance recitals, Little League games where my team probably lost, awful school plays, late nights with friends where we’d obsess over the tabletop jukebox over crappy coffee and french fries.  Years later, we’d return and sneak in Silk French Vanilla Creamer and really live it up.  Before that, I probably drank as many vanilla eggcreams as I did water. And frankly, I think my grandparents were part of a try-every-single-diner-in-a-two hour radius association.  I started to count on the NYDiners website and stopped focusing after scrolling by 80…which reminds me that the best facebook group I’ve ever joined just may be The Oconee East Diner Needs More Decorations and American Flags. Just saying.

Back to American Vegan Kitchen – It was seriously difficult getting the Battered Avocado Wedges out of my head. I flipped through the soups and entrees and started leaning towards the Cinnacrunch Muffins, yet my desire for avocado was still there –  though I was trying to not go for such a guilty pleasure. After a cold shower, I realized pie could win this one, and decided on the Apple Butterscotch pie.  I made it this weekend for an Easter-ish gathering at a friend’s and it seemed to be a hit.  I am quite a fan of the bit I tried before I left, and  was told it was all gone later on!

No shocker.  Remember what I said about apple pie and butterscotch chips?  They’re just so cute together!

Apple Butterscotch Pie from American Vegan Kitchen

Apple Butterscotch Pie

FYI: Vegan Butterscotch Chips are sold at Price Chopper supermarkets in the New England area..  So, they’re really margarine-sugar-chemical chips.  One I’m saying is…buy them! Or be really nice to your friends who are around these stores.  I heart my friends who share them.

And I bet if I ask my friends to come over to share Battered Avocado Wedges, they totally would. Hint hint.