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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. ^_^;
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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
Testing for Terry’s latin cookbook has been loads of fun so far!  Everything is so much in line with what I like to eat anyway – whole foods, simple but interesting preparation, loads of lime and cilantro, and all the recipes mix and match very well, so every meal is a new surprise. 

Yellow Rice with Garlic ~ Columbian Style Red Beans
I had this for lunch today and it’s probably my favourite thing so far!  They both take the exact same amount of time to cook, the prep is maybe 10 minutes, and ohhhhhhhhh it’s good.  There’s annatto and plantain in it and it manages to taste light and warm and sweet and earthy all at once.
Pickled Red Onions

These take possibly no time at all to make and they are delicious on sammies!  And burritos, tacos, the end of your fork, eaten right out of the jar, draped across the side of a heavier bean-y or fried dish… ultimately, they are good, and a welcome addition to the pickle collection my fridge has got going.  They are without doubt the prettiest member at the moment, too.
Mango Jicama Chopped Salad
I’m pretty sure that jicama is my new favourite vegetable, and this salad may be my favourite way to eat it… loads of lime, sweet mango, fresh herbage… mmmmm yes.  
So Good, So Green Dipping Sauce
See, I told you jicama was my new favourite vegetable!  I broke out my mandolin to do it up right.  I’ll spill that there’s lettuce in this sauce (among a myriad of other wonderful things), so it’s kind of funny to think that this lettuce is dressed with itself but it works.  Oh, it works.  This sauce is pretty magical: zesty, creamy, spicy, cooling, and obviously an incredible shade of emerald.
Cilantro Lime Rice ~ Tofu Chicharrones ~ So Good, So Green Dipping Sauce
Ultra-fried smoky chewy chunks of porky tofu?  YES.  YES IT IS.  And you waaaaaant it.  Also, that rice has addictive properties.  All the rices so far have been hard to stop eating, actually.

Simple Sofrito

The basis for a few other dishes, it’s super slow-cooked sweet browned onions + other things, and I am so glad I know the secret of this sofrito thing now.  It made a quick after-school meal taste like it had been cooked by experts all afternoon, just by me scooping some of this out of the container in the fridge and adding it to the pot.  Instant awesome!  Neat trick.

Next up I’ll be trying some Pumpkin Soup and maybe the Mashed Potato Pancakes with Peanut Sauce (!)

I realized there are really only three things I haven’t mentioned yet from my trip that are worth any sort of song and dance / notable mention – and all are highly deserving of the attention.

# 1 —
My sister’s adorable cats! That sit in windows and watch tea gettin’ made, scurrying into peach boxes and pretending to cut potatoes for our massive potato-wedge lunch whilst watching the new Project Runway episodes. Cuteness overload of the “kitties plus weapons” variety.


# 2 —
Going to lunch at The Table restaurant (a pay-by-weight buffet that’s largely gluten-free and probably 96% vegan). I wrote down the details of every minute morsel shortly after enjoying this, but it seems I lost the notepad file on my computer… alas. To the best of my memory, there was tofu & nut terrine, corn fritters with sweet onion chutney, black bean & quinoa salad, sesame snap peas, dandelion greens, smoky tempeh chunks, ginger with shiso, sprouts, salsa and dehydrated crackers, mashed root veg, fried tofu balls, cinnamon-y couscous, mexican lentils, german red cabbage, chickpea nibbles, slaw, eggplant curry, zucchinis, and beets, and onions….. not to even mention pumpkin pie for dessert (as well as two kinds of chocolate cake – beet and raspberry – and apple cake, and date squares, chocolate pudding, and gingersnaps with gray salt, cayenne and olive oil). Best. Dinner. Out. Ever.

# 3 —
My sister’s birthday cake, mango with avocado icing, as per her craaaaazy request. It was actually pretty good, especially the icing!

Adding chocolate chips to disguise it as a watermelon cake was highly necessary to my sense of humour, I assure you.
(also, they tasted good!)

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