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My room-mate’s birthday came up unexpectedly!  I had to innovate… it helped that I could peek into her side of the pantry and note the favoured ingredients… and remember that she has a yen for spicy food and japanese (similar taste much!)

I essentially made her the cake I secretly hoped someone would make for me someday (but shh, it works here, too).

I made a half recipe of a cake I found online here, sliced it into 4 rectangles and sandwiched them with a full recipe of the Vegan Cupcakes take over the World chocolate mousse recipe, but with a bunch of wasabi and ginger added, yes!

Top it with some pretty kiwis and champagne grapes and white pearls and call it an ideal job.  Just about exactly what I was aiming for – it’s elegant and spicy and rich.  If I did it again I might add some cashew cream layers, or some strawberry jam, but really it’s perfect just the way it is right here.  Roomie even professed to get a wasabi high off the mousse!  Ha ha, couldn’t ask for more.

Black Sesame Cake

(from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert (veganized), via Dessert First)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup soy yogurt

3 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil*

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup soymilk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds

– Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a cake tin and dust flour inside it.  Set aside.

– Add the vinegar to the soymilk and set aside to curdle.

– Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  

– In a large bowl, beat together the soygurt, sesame oil, vanilla, canola oil, and sugar until it’s smooth and caramell-y, about 2-3 minutes with a whisk.

– Add 1/3 of the flour to the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Add half the curdled soymilk and stir.  Add another 1/3 of the flour (stir), then the rest of the milk (stir), then the last of the flour (stir).  Make sure not to overwork the batter, but it should be smooth and pourable.

– Pour into the greased cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is glossy, firm and golden, and a toothpick/knife inserted comes out clean.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack, then let it cool completely before frosting.

* the original recipe called for butter, and you would probably get spectacular results with Earth Balance, I just didn’t have enough this time.  Follow the recipe the same, but cream the margarine with the sugar with an electric mixer until it’s really white and fluffy, before adding the other liquid ingredients.


Wasabi Ginger Chocolate Mousse

(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World)

12 oz. package of medium firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup soy milk

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

1 tbsp wasabi paste (or more ;)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ginger powder

8 oz. chocolate chips (or higher quality chocolate if you’d like)

pinch of salt

– Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently add your tofu, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.  Drain carefully and let it cool.

– Once cooled, put the tofu, syrup, wasabi, vanilla and ginger in a blender and blend it until it’s completely smooth.

– Melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave then add it to the blender and whip everything together.  Add salt if you like salt (I do), then stash it in the fridge for at least an hour to become firm enough to work with.  Ice your cake!

(the laboratory mid-zebrification)
Step 1:  Get enthralled by this and this and this and this and this and this!  
I *had* to make it.  Not only was it zoologically named but it meant I could hide a secret surprise under the frosting (always good).  And given that I had an mocha-loving friend who very very kindly drove these paintings home from the studio for me through notoriously terrible montreal traffic, I knew it was the ripe time to start dolloping.  CHerry ripe time!  haha, okay I shut up now.
I started from the recipe at Caffeine Heartbeats, but added instant coffee to the mocha side and almond to the vanilla for extra je ne sais quoi, and a bit less vinegar for less risk of crumbling.  (Oh, and no orange, just vanilla this time).  And I had to tweak the viscosity on both ends with a bit of flour and water respectively, but not too much and then I could dollop away.  3 tbsps of each batter, thin little lines, up and up and up until….

Step 2: Bake it up in the oven for about 45-50 minutes and go ooooooooooooh zeh-braw…
Step 3: Flip it over to cool and notice another heart-shaped thing in your food, like they’re conspiring to surround you or something.  My word!

Step 4: Acknowledge the fact that it’s a sweltering August evening but ignore good reasoning and ice it super-generously in mounding swirls of fluffiffffy cherry frosting buttercream anyway.  (be so very happy you did that as you’re eating the veritable angel crack later on, a little bit melty regardless.)

Step 5: Keep it in the fridge as best as possible in this heat, then break it out and serve in big cool stylish overly delicious wedges.  One of the best I’ve ever made, and I mean that flavour-wise, too!  I was pretty glad to come by said friend’s house later the next day to help her eat it for breakfast, like that was such a painful thing to do (it wasn’t). 

Meanwhile, I’ve spent a few days picking apples at an orchard, so I’ll have some posting about that pretty soon, I think!

I’ve been raw for 5 days now!!  I’ll save writing about that for the next post, but in the meantime here’s a whole bunch of photos from the past few weeks I never got around to posting but are kinda making me hungry right now…

Allright, we’ve got up there… chili cashew dosas (my favourite recipe so far from Vegan Brunch), with a notably amazing chutney I made from the back of Indian Cookery, ie: this book ——>
Which is basically my favourite indian cookbook ever, even for the chutney chapter alone, which covers pretty much anything you’d want to stew and preserve in a super authentic, full of interesting tidbits kind of way.  Like, that peach chutney I ate with the dosas had paprika, poppy seeds, cloves, green chiles and cashews, oh my!  Totally easy to make, too.

Another perk of making chutney is that you get to re-use little jars and give them away after they’ve sat for a month on the shelf looking very pretty.  On the right is the peach, and in the middle is a pineapple chutney with about a ton of ginger and garlic in it, yay!
Okay, what else – this was astoundingly good.  It looks kind of grey, I’ll admit, but so so so good.  Velvety corn creamy chinese wedding soup, or something like that, with bits of savoury tofu floating in it and fresh peas.  It’s Bryanna’s recipe, and incidentally my introduction to creamed corn (I’m a fan, it turns out).
Oh, and Singapore green beans from Tropical Vegan Kitchen in the background.  Once that stuff marinates it’s addictive!
East Coast Coffeecake for an omni BBQ!  Plus adorable sign. :)
I loved how I could even make this in my dad’s kitchen – it’s the sign of a perfectly adaptable baked good.  (flour, sugar, oil, check!)
My favourite PB cookies ever, are the Crispy PB Cookies from Extraveganza with the cereal flakes inside.  They crackle like pop rocks and have that perfect dense chew, and are so easy to make.  I usually quarter the recipe and make them into the size of quarters, and have them as little pick me ups throughout the day.
Polenta Rancheros from V.Brunch, with noticeable flecks of toasted coriander that perfume the whole thing, it’s really nice, especially when made with fresh tomatoes cause that’s all I had.  Surprisingly light for a bean dish!
White bean, mango and rosemary tacos!!!  My surprising invention that worked, plus some leftover Tempeh Wingz made with tofu, cold and chewy out of the fridge.  (That red sauce is illegally finger-licking…. wow.)
Fresh organic vegetable pasta spirals with a sauce made from tomatoes, raisin-sage sausages, capers, zucchini & basil, NOM.
 

Banana Rabanada!!!  Not only is this delicious but no refined sugar, either, so it’s perfectly viable to eat for lunch!  Isa was spot on about the syrup & cinnamon-mopping, too.

(Heart-shaped) Fudge-pops from How It All Vegan, since I found my ancient copy in my mom’s garage a few months ago and figured I’d give it a whirl again.  These were sooooo good, and almost exactly like fudgesicles, which is no mean feat!

Sausage and eggplant quiche from V.Brunch with a homemade crust I put too much EB in but was still okay.   And I think that’s about it for cooked stuff!  Phew, sorry for the cursory writing about it all, too.  Somehow I think the pictures speak loud enough that it’s okay I don’t remember the details, plus this raw food thing is making me spacey… zomg.  It’s great, but I’ll be glad to bring it down to maybe 60% raw after the next few days.  Can’t wait to show you what that’s been like, though! 

(ps. sorry about the font in some parts of this post.  not sure why it went so wonky)

So if my blog tags are any indication at all (and amusingly, they often are), I’m more than a little mad for blueberries.  Dunno why exactly… it could be the bursting qualities… or the way they’re so purple and freeze perfectly and are also called starberries?  And when you stick them in things people go “oooooooh” without fail, it’s kind of funny!

When I saw this recipe for pea pancakes with blueberry basil dressing I knew knew KNEW I had to try it, it sounded the thing little fresh-showered elves would eat over tea and the latest forest news.  Lo and behold, it even looks like that sort of food, too!  Call me bowled over with technicolour, batman.  I wanna cook chromatically so much now!
Here’s the veganization of it all.  The pea pancakes are almost perfect (I’d consider leaving out the cornstarch to keep the flavour brighter perhaps?).  The blueberry dressing is also pretty good, but I could do better probably and another kind of vinegar would probably work nicer, I just haven’t figured out which one.  Still really good though!  (If you wanted lemon I’d never stop you, I just wanted to see if I could use something besides citrus.  Balsamic would probably be nice, too, come to think of it).  
Blueberry Basil Sauce

2/3 cup blueberries

1/4 cup water + 1 tbsp

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp fresh minced basil

cracked black pepper

– In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp of water with the cornstarch, set aside.
– In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, sugar and salt to a low boil until the berries start to pop and bleed their juice.  Remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture, oil, vinegar, basil, and pepper.  Taste for salt and cover to keep warm.
Green Pea Pancakes (serves 2-3 as a snack or side)

4 oz. snap peas, strings removed

1/2 cup green peas

1/2 cup milk or cream

1 tsp melted buttery spread

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

– Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Blanche the snap peas for 30 seconds, then rinse in cold water.  Do the same with the green peas, until they’re tender (2-3 minutes maybe).

– In a blender, combine the cooled peas with the milk, butter, and cornstarch, and blend until pretty smooth.  Move to a mixing bowl.

– Sift in the dry ingredients and gently fold until totally incorporated (shouldn’t take much effort)

– Melt a bit of buttery spread in a nonstick and fry thin little 2″ pancakes until golden brown on both sides.  Serve warm with a bit of blueberry sauce and some basil leaves on top.

Right.  And.
AND.
It was Pomme’s birthday time this weekend, and that meant I was required to out-do myself again, inspired by love to fling culinary handrail-holding out the window and concoct some sort of artistic masterpiece that’ll never have a recipe written down (but I’ll always remember how to do).  In this case – a 2-layer Morrocan Mint cake with generous inches of Blueberry Mousse and a Pomegranate Glaze, topped with sugared pine nuts and mint leaves.  !!!!  For the record, I did a billion new things in the kitchen for this (well okay, I played with agar), and it turned out like some patisserie’s jazzed star, in shades of aubergine, gold and lavender, and I *wish* I had a slice shot, but it was enjoyed by candlelight in the company of lots of vegan restaurant coworkers, so I’ll just have to make another layer cake soon to make up for that! :p
Officially, the entire thing doesn’t have a recipe, but I’ll post the adaption I made to the matcha cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes because it made a damned fine joconde and the vegan world can always use another attempt at that, I think.  Pretty simple, actually… (it was the simple part)
Vegan Morrocan Mint Joconde

1/2 cup soygurt

2/3 cup strongly brewed green tea with 10-12 fresh mint leaves in it (strained, of course)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 tsp matcha soymilk powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

– Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8″ cake tin with nonstick spray and parchment paper.

– In a large mixing bowl combine the soygurt, tea, extracts, and oil

– Sift together the dry ingredients, then slowly add it to the wet bowl in installments, gently folding with a whisk until it’s smooth.

– Pour into cake pan and bake for 35-42 minutes (my oven is really slow, so take these times as approximations).  A toothpick should come out clean, and the top should be glossy and flat.

– Let it cool almost completely before turning it onto a parchment lined cooling rack.  Once cool, cut it carefully into 2 layers, and soak each layer (as you construct your moussey cake) with Mint Syrup.


Mint Syrup


2/3 cups strong Morrocan mint tea (made the same as before)

1/3 cup sugar

some extra mint leaves if you want


– Bring everything to a boil in a tiny saucepan over medium heat and let it bubble until it’s reduced slightly and thicked.  Cool completely before spooning over your cake layers.


(it all tastes of exotic and meltaway sweet sand and herbs….. very very very – needless to say – delicious)

So we’re finally in the present, now!  That was so weird, being back in time for so long… well, status quo and time re-adjustment has been achieved (thank you Doc!) and I’m the proud owner of not only Vegan Brunch but the Tropical Vegan Kitchen, now, too!  More on those at the end of the post, because I’m such a stickler for temporal integrity… although you’d never never never know it.  So I have to begin with rice.  Oh, but not just any rice…
It was sumptuous, luscious purple rice (yeah, I’m a fan), which I made with a big heaping spoonful of souvlaki spice blend that’s been sitting on my spice rack since last summer going “oh oh, make me with tofu, you LOVE greek food, get around to it, with those Vcon lemony potatoes, yeah!”
Which of course I did not do.  
Nah, no, I made this rice instead and actually swished it around in my salad, turning it all warm and tomatoe-y and olive-y, it was really awesome.  I never (never never?) mix my plate up, or at least not that often, so bear with my enthusiasm, haha.

Enthusiasm wanes for this, though!  Too bad… it’s from Vegan Fire & Spice and it was only okay… cold soba something or other.  I could have just messed up rinsing it properly, because it was mostly a case of the the noodle liquid rinsing all the nice dressing off.  And I put way too many veggie in, who needs veggies man, not me (at least not when “slurpy bowl of noodle” is the simplicity required at the moment).  Does anyone have any cold noodle tricks?  I bought a pack of soba the size of my head and I was pretty up for doing it cold, japanese-style over the rest of the summer.

Also good cold:  eggplant!  Amazing cold!  I faked up this most excellent wheat berry salad with morrocan spices, creamy eggplant, fresh mint… so good.  Especially in crisp summer lettuce wraps with black bean hummous dolloped on, which needless to say, was my consumption method of choice here.  (I’m especially enamoured of the strange little ears on the hummous blob in the picture there, too :P)

Oooh, and unfortunately there’s no slice picture, but I made a red velvet cake!!  It was a bit of a talent exchange and I got a professional (shi-shi, layered and subtle!) haircut from a friend of mine who adores southern stuff.  I even put mint on it, a la Paula Deen.  Oh, and the recipe was of course from Vegan Cupcakes and OMG this frosting if you haven’t made it yet MAKE IT it’s all whippy like creamy and dangerously low-sweet and HIDE THE SPOONS.  O_O!

*cough*
Right.  Well.  Grounding… let’s be sensible here.  There is nothing more sensible than rice salad, not one thing, nope.  (the New Zealand Rice Salad on page 70, to be really specific.  tee hee kiwis).  What else can be eaten right out of the fridge like a miniature complete meal at the end of your snacking fork?  (And that can be hard to remember to eat sometimes!)  Also, what else can incorporate fruit into dinner without seeming weird?  Well, I guess I’m going to find out what else, because the Tropical Vegan Kitchen is full of fruit, it’s everywhere.  Which is why I bought it!  That and to figure out how to use up a crate of kiwis I got… I’m looking to adapt the toasted coconut mango muffin recipe in Vegan Brunch too maybe… which finally brings me to —–

Omelet!
La la la, nothing can be said about this I’m sure that hasn’t been said before, it is perfect and you want to eat this and your omni uncle wants to eat this (well, maybe), and I ate it with the V.Brunch sesame scrambled tofu with greens and yams ( – tofu, + dandelion greens).  I don’t know how she actually managed to do this, but not only does it actually taste like something good (as opposed to Vegan-Omelet-As-Novelty), but the structural integrity is a wonder to behold.  The thing spread perfectly, browned perfectly, held together like a champ… you can even stack them.  Now try that with an egg omelet!
(also, I offically think these taste way better than those egg things.  viva la revolution!)

Summertime and some are slacking!  That is to say — oh oh I’m sorry I dropped off the face of the blog-Earth!  I’ve been pretty busy, writing papers, painting spiders and lettuce leaves, taking t’ai chi, dating someone (yey), still cooking up a storm, and just not really feeling like there’s been a good time to blog about it.  But really, it’s getting ridiculous… I’ve lost count of how many photos I have.  Stacks.  And they’re getting outdated, I’m forgetting if I used olives or capers in these stuffed tofus for example… at any rate I used Kittee’s Method of the Stars to stuff them full of olive-oily spinach, red peppers, and raisins (I think).  Other good things, then breaded them in cornflakes, baked, and ate most of them all chewy-cold out of the fridge – like moment’s notice hunger-killers, basically.
Sushi!  But with black rice this time, which is really more of a purple, and taste-wise isn’t quite sushi bliss… but it sure is pretty.  I kinda feel like this is sushi with a silk tie on, or something.

And speaking of oceanic treats, my sister and I discovered some fantastic package of salty fried nori in her cupboards.  This stuff is gooooood.  For my money, beats the pants off of potato chips.

Sis thinks so too!

Then for a while I was all in love with med-firm tofu and it’s magical ability to become some luxurious (yet low guilt) salad dressing at a moment’s notice.  I played around with a few varieties – I tried the Vegan World Fusion Caesar (yum!), I made a kind of ranch, and my favourite was a curried apricot dressing that was very inspired by something from the Millenium cookbook, although I changed it entirely…  I even found the notepad file I wrote the recipe on!  So here it is —-

1/4 lb. med-firm tofu

1-2 dried apricots, soaked well and chopped

1 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp garam masala

1/8 tsp cardamom

pinch of cayenne

1 tsp almond butter

1 tsp canola oil

enough water to thin

Blend!  Blend like yo salad depends on it!  
My favourite part of tofu dressings is putting on so much that you can eat the extra at the bottom with a spoon. :)
Isa’s perfect chocolate chip cookies are, by the way, and if you hadn’t heard – perfect.  Utterly perfect.  Me and this cookie had a bit of a moment… time stopped outside my window, cars drove softly past and I felt like all the sweet chewy vanill-y mass was just going straight into my heart (forget stomachs).  Good times.  Oh!  And this is only from batch number two.  I made them before, maybe not creaming quite enough so they spread a bit, but obviously still amazing enough to convince me to try again.

Not having ever tried a Madhur Jaffrey recipe I figured I would give it a go, finally.  Her dhal intrigued me in how it has a whole lemon sliced right into it, and it really works!  Totally makes it a different sort of creature than your regular lentil-mash.  I ate it up with — oh oh oh oh!!  guess what!!!  I got a food processor!  Or at least, an attachment for my new stick blender that my mom got me (love moms!).  I turned veggies into confetti in like, 10 seconds, wow.  Anyway, yeah, I stuffed said veggies (sauted with garlic, mustard seeds, cider vinegar, bit of braggs, maybe a bit of tahini? possibly caraway seeds, too) into a paratha, and then ate the mountain of leftovers too, because it was pretty delicious stuff.  

I also think I’m finally getting the hang of cakes.  Getting the right ratio of textures, flavours, sizes, richnesses, bursts of things, etc.  This was so well-balanced, one of my favourites in recent memory!  It’s a chocolate mint cake with minty vanilla buttercream sandwiched between, whipped ganache on top, and loads of little violets, to celebrate spring or some such twee sentiment that surprised me in actually tasting good as well as looking way pretty.  I ended up dipping the extra violet stems in the leftover ganache!  And the cake… was this joyous kind of refreshing melt-in-your-mouth confection that I had (Mwahahaha!) MOSTLY to myself.  Usually I’m the one giving away desserts too soon, but this one was totally mine.  Yum!

*ackdroolzzz*  don’t you wish there was taste-o-vision?

Liz Holding Food Gallery: entry #27 – BROWNIE-STYLE
I tried T’ai Chi today for the first time!  That’s got nothing to do with chocolate, sure, but I feel really good right now!  Like a natural chocolate high.  Or a, uh… non-sugar induced high, yes.  Seriously though, I feel like a dancer, I bounced all the way home in my high tops, and then  threw together the roasted vegetables I’d made that morning into some whole wheat penne and home-soaked chickpeas for a really attractive dinner.  It needed something parmesan-y, but I have leftovers to subject to ground almond & lemon zest, there is always tomorrow.
So back to cupcakes!
I made the Brooklyn Brownie cupcakes for a friend’s 25th birthday in the park.  We played duck duck goose, Stella Ella Ola, a fun game called Sheep… I love being a nonkid, it’s so natural to be.  And the cuppers were a big hit!  These are dense dark weighty cakes with a huge woodsy whiskeyness that probably needs refreshing milk around for maximum enjoyment, but definitely brownie-ish and definitely good.  Super moist, too.  I think I like the regular chocolate VCtotW recipe better, but hey, I got to bake with whiskey, and I’ve been wanting to do that for, like, ever!  
Then something a little more virtuous… I made the Mole Roasted Cauliflower from the Swell cookzine that involved – of course! – cocoa powder.  REALLY good preparation for cauliflower, I had to resist buying another whole head and roasting it up the exact same way, which says something, that I would repeat a recipe so soon.  Not that it was hard to eat a whole giant head of this, it’s pretty addictive like better than popcorn good.  It was the star of the plate next to the mango slices, and some creamy mint & basil polenta I made, but actually the whole combo worked really well and I recommend it – mango with dinner I mean.  (what?  mango with everything!!  of course!)

Oh yes yes, I made some luncheon meat, via Vegan Dad’s recipe.  It is a bit dry as he says, but the flavour and texture is eerily spot on and I made some really satisfying sandwiches and I froze most of it into little single-servings for later.  Next time I thaw out a packet I’ll be sure to have some cheap yellow mustard around, because it would just work with this stuff, mmmm yeah.
What else?  Tofu nuggets!  I saw the Tofu Skewers with Espresso BBQ Sauce on Vegan Appetite and knew exactly what to do with the half pound of tofu I had in the fridge.  I’d not skewered food before, and you know, it actually does make a difference to the flavour!  The leftover tofu-bobs I cooked sans-impalement were less succulent and fun.  Like, you couldn’t gnaw on them at all, boo, I like skewers now.  Oh, and the sauce was great!  I added cayenne cause I can’t leave well enough alone and insist on mouth burning when it comes to anything BBQ.

Right, and finally, this is definitely the result of my new love affair with my wonderful freezer.  Never could have concocted something so specific without being able to freeze tiny bits of things throughout my cooking.  The whole door is filled with single cookies, 1/4 cups of icing, cake shavings, and other fun detritous I collect, mwahaha.  For this little cake that I made for a dinner on friday, I started with a disc of leftover Brooklyn Brownie cupcake (the recipe really does make a LOT of extra batter).  Then I made a base cheesecake cream in the blender, divided that into two and stuffed one with melted chocolate and the other with peanut butter.  I layered and baked that at 350 for 45 minutes, then I made a quick chocolate agar-gel for the top and was really really pleased with myself for rocking agar finally.  And then!  Crushed-up peanut butter cookies for the sides.  You know the awesome kind that are essentially just peanut butter and sugar?  Yeah, those kind.  And I almost forgot – star dollops of leftover chocolate cupcake frosting!  PIMPED.  OUT.  

Now I just need to get myself a cheesecake tin that’s bigger than 5″ across. ^_^;
It was an unexpected surprise, to hear my mom suggest driving up for the weekend along with my sister, carrying pantry reinforcements of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, organic beer, sprinkles, and BC golden syrup!  Easter obviously isn’t an epic day on my calendar, but it is gorgeous to celebrate anything with family, and so I made a ton of fresh summer rolls with two kinds of dipping sauce to remedy whatever fast food travesty they’d had to eat on the drive to my place.  Which totally worked!  And I made lime & poppyseed cupcakes, filled and topped with mango compote and swirled with vanilla frosting, and star sprinkles on top, because hey, it’s the time of year for excess sugar and pastel colours, I think.  So yummy!  I think they’re actually improving with age, too, flavours melding… I had one for breakfast today, shhhh! :D
We also hit that store with the crazy sales, whereupon we filled our recyclable plastic bags full of fresh udon packets and coconut cream powder and nori seaweed AND these beautiful little herbal tangerine candies I found.  All for a dollar!  I like the tin especially.
Brunch at Aux Vivres, which makes maybe only my third time there, ever.  The hot spot vegan spot of hot vegan dining, and I’ve barely gone —  I know!  Anyway, I got to see their take on a vegan brunch plate, which my sister ordered, piled high with melt-in-your-mouth tofu scramble (they use medium firm and load it with nooch), maple-y tempeh bacon strips, sweet potato fries, an excellent salad with dressing I forgot to identify, and cornbread with jalapeno in it.  Yum!  Not to mention pretty as a painting if anyone ever wanted their breakfast to cheer them up with sheer resemblance to flowers alone.

Mom ordered the chickpea masala on fresh chapati with apple chutney inside – this one I’ve had before and it is sweet slurpy savoury delicious, as well as MORE than enough food for two people, with a salad alongside.  If you’re ever so devoid of protein that only a total refuel will do, order this thing and you’ll be set like superman!

And I?  I was the lucky one.  At the bottom of the menu I spotted a new item, something special… a Montreal smoked meat seitan sandwich, piled all high up with mustard, mayo, pickles and creamy coleslaw on the side… OMG.  It was *crazily* like the roast beef sandwiches I used to eat sometimes, *utterly* delicious, *such* a treat.  The bread was soft and awesome, too.  I think the neatest thing was pulling the second half out of the fridge the next day and almost feeling like I was in my teens again, just eating any old thing I found around. :p

Witness the lovvvvve!!!  They done seitan right, they did…. really soft and spiced perfectly.

cake!  only slightly dented after a trip in a to-go tray 
And!  Should I mention some huge news?  If anyone remembers my old roommate and vegan chef extraordinaire P, well… she’s moved back to the city and become… the primary baker at Aux Vivres!  The whole pastry counter – that’s her!  So I had to sample a massive decadent slice of chocolate apple cake.  Don’t let the apple thing steer you wrong on this cake, either, it is dense and rich and iced with an epic ganache, studded with just enough apple to make the flavour nuanced, with a raspberry sauce served on the side… you should go for this.  Or for any of the desserts!  I am certainly going back to sample other things, I consider it my duty as a friend.   To eat… sugar and chocolate.  My duty!!  As a friend!!  WEll, it is.  :D

I’m inspired again!! It happened very suddenly, I think a warm breeze passed through my kitchen and the walls turned sunny-orange in a way I hadn’t seen in months, prompting a small whirlwind of culinary tinkering, and I haven’t stopped since. I made raviolis, even, which I’ve always wanted to do! They’re roasted beet with rosemary and toasted walnuts, made with wonton skins, so they’re not pasta exactly, but I prefer the chewy dumplingness of the skins, actually. Because that way I’m allowed to eat them with my hands. They also coincided with a small disaster that resulted in something wonderful …….

— my fridge has sucked for years. It’s been replaced 3 or 4 times since I’ve lived here, and each one has been more small, old, fragile and smelly than the last. Have you ever seen a fridge where the freezer was INSIDE the box, and there was only one door? That was mine, until last week when it started to leak freon and smell rather horrifyingly chemical. I tried eating an apple from the crisper and my mouth started to tingle… I didn’t repeat that. O_o

The building quickly replaced it, as usual, except that this time – it’s a real fridge, white and sizeable, with a real freezer door! It makes a very satisfying sound, and my smoothies taste like ice cream now because the ice is so cold. Amazing! Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because while I rescuing things from the old icebox I pulled out a huge bag of peas and was like, “uh… I should eat these somehow”, which led to a most delicious puree to go with my raviolis. I just threw the peas in a blender with some garlic, basil, mint, balsamic, oil, tamari and pepper and it was shmancy-perfect-face-stuffingly-delicious. woo!

I also made some sandwich bread last week, to celebrate the white flour purchase. I’d never made sandwich bread before! It’s so useful, and tasty. This one was whole wheat rye, made with a bit of molasses and caraway and I had no trouble eating it up, especially shmeared with spicy homemade apple butter, yum! It inspired me to make a real salad. And it inspired me to have reubens for lunch all last week – holy batman that’s a good sammich!

For the ‘meat’ part I made lentil patties with pickle juice and gluten flour, breaded them in breadcrumbs and baked for 30 minutes, flipping once. Then loaded on the sauerkraut and homemade 1000-island and munched happily away!

These are testers for Terry’s new Vegan Latina book: black bean and plantain pupusas with a latin tomato sauce and a Salvadorean slaw, all delicioso.

And a great chard recipe with capers and raisins that’s a new favourite around here. Sweet and salty and complex!

Finally – to celebrate the spring equinox, and in anticipation of finding good things in life, I baked a lemon poppy seed bread yesterday, studded with little treasures. Rings, crystals, little coins, it was so much fun to bring this to a potluck, cover it with fresh berries, and slice off little hunks with surprises inside! The bread itself is moist and more-ish, too – super citrusy, with a sparkly sugary crust, and soaked in a lemon syrup = win!

Springtime Lemon Poppyseed Bread

1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water (could use milk)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons raw sugar (for sprinkling on top)

optional: little metal trinkets

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan.
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl, lemon zest through water.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, then add that to the wet and stir just until combined.
4. Pour half the batter in the pan, dot the batter with metal trinkets (if using), then add the rest of the batter, sprinkle the top with raw sugar and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t take it out of the pan yet though! While it’s still warm, make….

Lemon Syrup

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

1. Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl, microwave on high for about 45 seconds, stir to dissolve into a syrup.
2. Poke a bunch of holes in your lemon bread with a skewer or a toothpick, then pour the syrup over top and let it soak in for about 20 minutes. Then take it out of the pan and let it cool. Slice, warn people not to break their teeth on anything, and bask in the party game + dessert combined. :)

(psst the hottie ain’t me, it’s my sis)

(I am kicked out of veganism for this decorating job. of pure awesome.)

I’m still alive, I swear! I blame a flu for holding me hostage and making me kind of hate my own kitchen – a flu that has lasted for a month and is STILL CAUSING WHEEZY DEPTHFUL COUGHINGS IN THE NIGHT. Argh I say. I’m only sort of (maybe) remembering what an appetite feels like.

Chocolate PB banana smoothies + popcorn for dinner much? Anyway.

I turned 25 recently! And this year I insisted that a cake be made for me, because ha ha I was hating the sight of baking tins. Me mum made an amazing spice cake that I really want the recipe for – it was like eating a ginger cookie, except in cake form, and with plum frosting (and the best decoration job this side of my sister’s taste level). Amazing, and I polished a good chunk of it off with actual soy ice cream, which I haven’t had since high school. Happy birthday to me!

Later at home in montreal I had a wee shindig on my actual birthday, and flexed my rusty pastry muscles to pull off… the mushiest cake EVAH. Haha, it was good, but completely not cooked in the middle. (my oven is also teh sux, but we take responsibility for our disasters, yes?). I used the banana split cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and probably trying to make a full cake out of it accounted for the mush (also I only had whole wheat pastry flour, which is good, but not THAT good, you know what I mean? Forgive me but I like 50% white flour in cakestuffs).

At any rate the company was the greatest in the world, and I got a japanese unicorn mug, a pineapple, a decoupage candle-glass, a drawing of fish, some chamomile and ylang-ylang oils, and uhhh… my own tupperware back! Huzzah.

I also treated myself to a 10 kg bag of good old emptily nutritive white flour this afternoon. Aw yeah. :)

(^ psst that hottie is me)