Wine & Cheese (featuring a cashew cheese guide & Our Daily Red wine review)

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….in this day and age of culinary veganism, aged nut cheese = love. Continue reading

Autumn Inevitability: Homemade Pumpkin Coconut Coffee Creamer

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Day 22: The DIY coffeeshop fun continues with homemade pumpkin coconut creamer and cinnamon breath. Continue reading

New Year, New Projects: Homemade Sriracha

DIY Sriracha on Get Sconed!

The very first project I embarked on in 2013, besides a big time day of rest after some bubbly-fueled karaoke on New Year’s Eve, was making my very own Sriracha. Inspired the real thing, and adapted from Reclaiming Provincial, who’s adapting from … Continue reading

S’mores Pie with Roasted Dandies

Oh, hey, pie, what's up?

In a shocking turn of events, this pie is not from the upcoming Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook. I repeat, this is not an official, Post Punk Kitchen endorsed pie. This creation was inspired by the recent Portland VegFest, Chicago Soy Dairy’s sweet deal on those sweet little ‘mallows, Julie Hasson’s cream pie demo and perhaps the most mind-blowing aspect of all – was poured into a goddamn, pre-made crust. Testing for Vegan Pie in the Sky helped me conquer my fear of homemade crusts, for sure, but you know, sometimes you just find yourself picking up a graham cracker shell or two when you see them on sale in the ‘natural’ aisle at Grocery Outlet.

Inside the graham cracker shell, the only actual grahamy-element here (because every vegan who’s ever searched knows the pain of finding the mysteriously spotted-every-couple-of-years store-bought, honey-free graham cracker), was a rich chocolate tofu mousse, Vita-Mixed with Mori Nu firm silken tofu, melted semi sweet chocolate chips, a bit of coconut milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, based on the Mint Truffle Pie in Julie’s Vegan Diner.  To complete the s’moresey scenario, I added broken cinnamon cookies and chopped dandies, along with a layer of dandies on top. It’s recently popped into my head that my kitchen absolutely needs a mini blowtorch, but since I’ve yet to make this ridiculously awesome purchase happen, I broiled the topped pie for 5 minutes. I was quickly happy with the lightly golden color, but freaked out as it rested, as the mallows seemed to harden! No worries, upon arrival to my little happy hour club, my friends and I learned that smush remained, and the pie was a hit, particularly when paired with a microbrew. Classy.

S'mores pie, topped with roasted dandies and crushed cinnamon cookies

Salt Spring Inspired Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup

Break out your rain boots, adorn your favorite hoodie and repeat after me: it’s officially soup weather.

Roasted cherry tomato soup, garnished with fresh basil and black pepper

It seems like only yesterday, but I earned some real Pacific Northwest points with a British Columbian adventure back in May. It was my first ever visit to Canada, at all, and I’m truly an idiot for waiting so long. Not as idiotic as my brother not realizing Canada stretched across the entire United States, but I feel foolish for waiting nearly three decades to cross those country lines. Looking back, my family didn’t take epic road trips, and the party bus from my college in Boston to Montreal seemed just that…a ridiculous party bus. I’ve re-caught the travel bug this past year, have my mind set on Thailand and Laos this winter, and now that I have a Canadian BFF and a little crush on a French Canadian waiter at a certain vegan restaurant in Vancouver (J’espère qu’il la lecture de ce parce que Vancouver est la première VÉGÉTALIEN Prom approche!), I plan on not departing the Amtrak train in Seattle, if you catch my drift.

While I was up north, I spent time in Vancouver, Victoria and on Salt Spring Island. I’ll save more thoughts and photos for the day I may actually post about my adventure up north™ and have the determination to scroll through that many pages on Flickr. My short stay on Salt Spring Island, where Gabrielle, her partner, and the small, sneaky bundle of wonder known as Buhbah, reside, started with a specially prepared vegan dinner at Market Place Cafe. This lovely meal included a rich tomato soup drizzled with olive oil that’s lingered on my mind since the first spoonful. Gabrielle and I were nerding out and talking tomato soup recently, and after hearing her spicy plan and having roasted a ton of cherry tomatoes that were impatiently waiting for their moment, all by their lonesome in my refrigerator, it was time for delayed inspiration.

Something of a recipe tale. To begin, I sautéed minced shallot, a diced red bell pepper and Hungarian wax pepper in a bit of coconut oil, added some fresh black pepper, sea salt, marjoram, cayenne and oregano, and cooked until soft. After deglazing the pan with the last of my Salt Spring Millotage (can you say bonus points?), I added the two pints’ worth of cherry tomatoes I had previously roasted with garlic, extra virgin olive oil & sea salt, along with two cups of vegetable broth, one cup of water, brought this to a boil, and then simmered, covered, for just under an hour. I threw in a handful of fresh basil, since I can’t resist buying basil or tomatoes whenever I see them at the market, carefully pureed the mixture in my Vita-Mix, and transferred to a saucepan. Minutes later,  I had my first bowl of those sweet, deep flavors, garnished with additional basil and freshly ground black pepper.

The view from the Salt Spring Winery - also my first ever wine tasting experience!

The Great Pumpkin Syrup Sunday

Oh, Fall

I picked up a sugar pie pumpkin from the coop yesterday with two goals. Today, I’ll open up about the first: Pumpkin Syrup.

I’m one to seek out a vegan-friendly pumpkin latte or two, or milkshake, during my favorite season, and one to wonder, “Where aren’t there more classy pumpkin cocktails?”

Pumpkin, seasonal spices and brandy (or bourbon, or just  insert your mocktail design here) just make sense.  With this in mind, and eye-rolling over the multiple recipes for pumpkin syrups and sauces online that simply involved pureeing canned pumpkin with maple syrup and heating it, the following happened in my kitchen…

Pumpkin Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin*
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick (you’ll be removing this after cooking)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Combine everything, except for the maple, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Gently stir, occasionally.
  3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
  4. Carefully remove the cinnamon stick. Even more carefully, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Be sure to let it cool, somewhat, or let the blender breathe so you don’t have an autumn explosion on your hands.
  5. Transfer to a bottle or jar, and refrigerate in between use.

Use this sauce to sweeten your tea, incorporate into cocktails, bribe your friends for favors in the 10th and 11th months of the year, and smuggle into local coffeeshops.

Notes, etc: I purposely made this syrup light. Again, I didn’t want a heavy pumpkin puree or a syrup I needed to constantly shake.  Nor, did I want a heavily spiced syrup. If you want something thicker, use more pumpkin. Like it spicy? Add more spices, and consider adding freshly grated ginger.

*I didn’t want to use raw or soft pumpkin, so I roasted it for 20 minutes at 400F, and let cool before use. I can’t break down all the scientific sense as to why this made more sense to me, it just did.

Success!

Pumpkin Tempeh Chili with Roasted Smoky Seeds & Pumpkin Apple Brandy Sipper

double dippin': the party

Roughly 1/10th of total dips that arrived at Double Dippin’

Fueling my dorky, themed party planning obsession, I hosted a dip-themed potluck and party last weekend. Double Dippin': The Party* featured 4 tables of dips: Sweet, Savoury, Miscellaneous, No Holds Barred, and Michele performing the grand & appetizing Vegan Mozzarella Stick-Off in the kitchen.

The record was successfully broken for just how many people can fit into my apartment, surely set high for the number of dips through the door, special dietary needs were met (vegans are so nice!), my cats hid, dip rules were posted, various research was displayed, and I had an opportunity to make a giant pot of beer cheese sauce, among other dippy dishes. Dipshit was officially an endearing term, dip creativity and classicism was off the hook, and I just can’t seem to get this out of my head.

As for the actual food, contributions ranged from traditional pesto to spicy peanut sauce to chili to Russian beet dip to cashew green bean to saucey bourbon to spiced cheesecake to sweet chocolate frosting, and beyond. Beyond!

Smokey Beer Cheese

beer cheese

How To: Smokey Beer Cheese. Follow the Cheesy Sauce recipe from Veganomicon.  Add a diced poblano pepper with the garlic (up the garlic!). After you add the nooch and vegetable broth, throw in cumin, hot paprika, tahini, hot sauce, a bottle of cherished, local microbrew, and a good dash of liquid smoke.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes before making your gluten-fanatic guests happy.

Green Tea, Shallot & Cream Cheese, modified from Eat Tea

Green Tea, Caper & Shallot Cream Cheese

I was more wild about the idea of this over the finished product, but it was worth a shot. And look! garnish!

Raw Banana Coconut Almond Dip

raw banana almond dip

On one hand, sampling this dip made me realize I’m non-officially, but likely, allergic to freaking almonds. On the other, it went over well! It consists of pureed raw almonds, unsweetened coconut and banana. Once again, a pat on the back to the Vita-Mix.

Salt-Free Black Bean, Lemon & Garlic Dip

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This was another contribution for the Eat to Live crowd. One of those few ingredient recipes from the internets. It was less creamy than I’d like, but I naturally blame myself, because I forgot the tahini. However, who cares about anything else when there’s a nice garnish?

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip with Nayonaise

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So creamy! I almost comprehend artichokes now.

Jeff’s Spicy Peanut Sauce

jeff's satay sauce

My friends Lucas and Jeff combined powers to offer a damn fine spread of fried tofu, peanut sauce and tofufffalo style hot sauce.

The Sweet table

Lauren plates my ode to our friend Bram – Peanut Butter Coconut Apple Pie (dip).

lauren at the sweets table

The Bar – featuring homemade Mixed Berry, Raspberry and Lavender Mango syrups. Plenty of makings for both cocktails and mocktails. My friend Emily contributed homemade Raspberry Ginger Shrub that was amazing!

The rest of the refreshments – including Michele’s sparkling punch

This was posted above the No-Holds-Barred dip-as-you-will tator tots & dips table

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Clearly the party was an ode to this.

No-Holds-Barred Table – early in the evening

Live action at the No-Holds-Barred table. I spy a spicy sesame cornmeal encrusted tofu dipper at the muffin tray, and churros and chocolate sauce in the back.

Jack & Simon: Bros and their tots – bonus special guest appearance by Portland’s own Pretzel Necklace!

The Savoury table at the pre-party

Stage 1: Dips

*Name Credit belongs to Lucas DeShazer. No surprise.

I didn’t take as many photos as I’d like, perhaps more of the dishes to come…

Next up in themed events coming this way I’m counting down to?  The Vegan Prom of Tomorrow and the second annual Fakin’ Fest!

Tales from the Nut: Cashew Mushroom Alfredo

Vegan Cashew Alfredo, topped with sautéed Maitake and Porcini Mushrooms

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If you’re vegan and enjoy cooking, I’m sure soaking nuts for cream sauces and vegan cheeses has already entered your culinary repertoire. If not, get on it. I’ve enjoyed my share of tofu-based cream sauces, but the silkiness of soaked nuts usually overrules thick soy.  If you’re allergic to nuts, well, I’ll cry into my cashew alfredo for you, and sympathetically relay my soul-crushing hazelnut allergy developments. It’s hard to admit, because that makes it real.

This recent cashew and mushroom alfredo was inspired by a lovely meal at a famed vegan trattoria down the street, and the never-ending container of soaked cashews in my fridge. I must be secretly hosting soft-toothed squirrels because my cats are simply not capable of such a production.

I loosely followed this recipe for Cashew Alfredo Sauce on Vegweb.  The sauce consisted of soaked cashews, water,  salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground nutmeg, and nutritional yeast. It was pureed in one of the prides of my kitchen (and oh-my-god, food blogging perks), the Vita-Mix. I didn’t have any lemons, so I omitted that, and utilized garlic and olive oil while sauteing local maitake and porcini mushrooms. I half-considered indulgently adding the cream sauce to the mushroom mixture, but my personal preference was to keep things separate.

When I nut alfredo it up again, I’ll be sure to add sautéed or roasted garlic into the actual sauce.

alongside: Balsamic Grilled Sugar Snap Peas

balsamic grilled sugar snap peas

Cashew Alfredo, served over housemade fresh pasta from Pastaworks (a few varieties are actually vegan!)

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berry picking, subsequently followed by strawberry chocolate swirl cream pie

Blueberry Fields Forever, Sauvie Island


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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.

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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.

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

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Highlight of the week.

farms

Time to pick the berries.

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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!

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Bluebs at Sauvie Farms

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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.

dude, everyone has a curried butternut soup recipe.

who doesn't have a curried squash soup recipe?

Fact or Fiction: Last spring, I sent in my registration materials for the NWFBP (NorthWest Food Bloggers Picnic) and was rejected!  Their response letter gave one sole reason: I had never featured a photo of butternut squash soup.

Eventually, I decided to right this wrong, and mildly adapted a recipe from The Food Network via some Nova Scotian firefighters, so you know there was potential. There’s only so many ways you can go with butternut soup, but with the assistance of my precious Vita-Mix, that half a jar of peanut butter sitting around, and locally based, Thai and True curry paste, it was totally to my liking.

Yellow Curry, Peanut Buttery, Butternut Squashy Soup

(adapted from The Food Network CA)

serves 4-ish

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • ½ yellow or sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1.5-2 cups of slightly mashed, roasted butternut squash (from 1 small squash, or half a large one, or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like more heat!)
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow curry paste (I use Thai and True)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper, more to taste.
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan or stockpot, sauté the chopped onion and celery in the peanut oil for 5-7 minutes on medium heart, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, sauté an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.  Lower the heat if needed.
  3. Add the curry paste, salt and pepper; stir well.
  4. Stir in the peanut butter, broth, roasted squash and light coconut milk.
  5. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil, turn the heat low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree to your liking, or slowly, carefully transport to a blender and puree till smooth.
  7. Return to pot, stir in agave and lemon juice.
  8. Serve with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Enjoy.