Summer Grilling: Antipasto Kabobs, Pizza, and Olive Oil Cake with Meringue Topping

vegan-grilled-kabobs

Sponsored Post – Italian Summer Grilling

I recently started collaborating with online culinary magazine Honest Cooking on projects that are a good fit with what I do and make me happy. One of their new sites, Alimentari, just launched a campaign with Colavita Olive Oil and was looking for bloggers and photographers to make a summer grilling meal. I was all over that because 1) I love cooking Italian food, 2) I love cooking vegan meals in a traditionally non-vegan cuisine, and 3) I don’t own a grill or have a backyard, so I could bring this project somewhere else and turn it into an afternoon of cooking and gathering.

The aforementioned cooking and gathering fell on Mother’s Day, so I sent the ingredients to my family and we spent the day working in the kitchen, and eventually eating everything. I even got to show off my new party trick, making aquafaba meringue.

vegan-grilled-seitan-kabobs

The first dish I made was antipasto kabobs with chick seitan, two kinds of tomatoes, tofu “cheese”, zucchini, summer squash, and red peppers, marinated and grilled. These were an excellent main dish over rice, and can be made with any veggies you want.

Grilled Antipasto Seitan Kabobs

Makes 8 kabobs

Ingredients

Marinade:
1/2 cup Colavita Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Colavita White Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Seitan and veggies:
8 ounces seitan*
1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
1/2 package tofu, pressed
1/2 red bell pepper
8 Colavita Sun-dried Tomatoes (in oil)
8 cherry tomatoes

Skewers

Cooked Scotti Black Rice or other grain, for serving

*I used Upton’s Chick Seitan, but the texture of their Traditional Seitan would be more sturdy for kabobs.

Instructions

Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a shallow, rectangular dish. There are going to be 7 pieces on each of the 8 skewers, so break the seitan into 8 pieces, chop the zucchini and summer squash into 8 pieces, slice the tofu into 8 cubes, and cut the red pepper into 8 pieces. The cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes can be used whole. Assemble your kabobs by spearing one of each item on each skewer.

Place the kabobs in the marinade dish and let marinate for at least 2 hours. I reused the leftover marinade with the rest of the tofu and throw in the salad below, so don’t dump your marinade just yet.

Fire up and oil up your grill on medium-high heat, and grill each side for a few minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked and have grill marks. Cook time will vary, depending on your grill. Serve over rice.

vegan-grilled-tofu-kabobs

I’m all about reusing ingredients and sauces in other dishes to create a comprehensive meal, so this salad includes tofu marinated in the kabob marinade. The tofu and a garlic sun-dried tomato raspberry vinaigrette make an otherwise simple salad into a salad you actually want to eat.

Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Salad:
1/2 block tofu, pressed and cubed
5 ounces mixed greens
1 can chickpeas (save the liquid to make the cake recipe below!)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cucumber slices

Dressing:
1/2 cup Colavita Raspberry Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Colavita Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
1/4 cup Colavita Sun-dried Tomatoes (in oil), chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Marinate the tofu in the leftover kabob marinade, or in your marinade of choice. Grill or pan fry the tofu until it’s crispy on all sides. Toss the tofu with the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the whole salad, tossing to coat, or set on the side and let people add dressing as they want.

vegan-grilled-pizza

Since I don’t normally grill, this was my first time making grilled pizza, and the process was very trial and error (I’m glad I made two!). I kept this pizza simple, but you can add whatever toppings you’d like. The Kitchn has a good post on how to grill pizza, so check that out if this is your first time grilling pizza.

Grilled Pizza

Makes 2 small pizzas

Ingredients

1 batch prepared pizza dough (I used the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe)
3/4 cup marinara
1 pint small heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
1-2 cups vegan mozzarella cheese, as desired
Fresh herbs, as desired

Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

Preheat grill to 550-600°F. Divide your pizza dough into two pieces (one large pizza will be difficult to work with at the grill) and roll out into circles. Oil the pizza dough and the grill very well. Grill each of the rolled out doughs on one side for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet, uncooked side down.

Spread the marinara out on each crust (the grilled side) and arrange the toppings as you like. Transfer to the grill, and cook until the bottom is grilled and the veggies and cheese are cooked. If the cheese doesn’t melt all the way (as vegan cheese sometimes behaves) and you’re worried about burning the crust, pop the pizza under your oven’s broiler for a few minutes.

vegan-meringue-cake

Because I can’t just stop at making dinner, dessert was necessary. This cake is filled with balsamic-glazed strawberries, uses olive oil in place of vegan margarine or vegetable oil, and is topped with Italian meringue dollops and a sprig of fresh basil. You don’t get more Italian than that. I’ve been using every opportunity I have to make aquafaba meringue (and I’m sick of buttercream), and it was perfect on this cake. I didn’t cook the meringue, but you could use a pastry torch to brown the dollops for a golden, crispy exterior.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Balsamic Filling and Meringue Topping

Makes a 2-layer 9-inch round cake

Ingredients

Cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/3 cups non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Colavita Balsamic Glace
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Meringue topping:
1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne and mix until combined.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the olive oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix all ingredients well.

Pour batter into two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool before proceeding.

For the filling: Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, Balsamic Glace, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar and cornstarch dissolves, and thickens into a syrup, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Taste and add more Balsamic Glace if you want a stronger flavor.

For the meringue topping: Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the bowl of a stand mixer (or use electric hand mixers…but you don’t want to do this by hand!). Add the cream of tartar. Whip the bean juice with the whisk attachment until it starts to thicken. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping. This process should take 6-8 minutes, but it can take up to 15 or 20 minutes. Here is a video I made detailing the process.

To assemble: Pour the strawberry filling over one cake layer and place the other layer on top. Top with dollops of meringue, then garnish with fresh basil and strawberries, if desired.

colavita-behind-the-scenes

And finally, a little behind-the-scenes imagery from the photoshoot!

Disclosure: Colavita and Honest Cooking provided ingredients and compensation for this post, but they definitely didn’t have to twist my arm. I like food. The prompt was very open-ended, so opinions, words, stylistic choices, and recipes are my own.

Mini S’mores Pie

vegan-smores-pie

On this episode of Vegan Meringue Adventures: Mini S’mores Pies! After making Lemon Meringue Pie and Vegan Lucky Charms, S’mores Pie was next on my list. These mini pies have a soft graham cracker crust, a chocolate filling somewhere between pudding and ganache, and toasted marshmallow fluff.

The recipe is really a group effort and a combination of tried-and-true recipes. I used the Marshmallow Fluff from Seitan is My Motor and the graham cracker dough from my first book, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. Using the graham cracker dough rather than crumbs makes this crust crisp and crunchy on the edges, and soft and chewy throughout.

smores-pie

Mini S’mores Pies

Makes 12 mini pies, using a cupcake pan

Ingredients

Crust (adapted from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur):
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon reserved
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling (adapted from a King Arthur recipe):
2 tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

Vegan Marshmallow Fluff from Seitan is My Motor*

*Note: I made half of the Marshmallow Fluff recipe and it was the perfect amount for these pies. You can make the full recipe, of course, and have leftovers!

Instructions

For the crust:
In a large food processor, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. No need to sift. Pulse until combined. Add the margarine and continue pulsing the food processor until the mixture looks like small pebbles.
Add the agave or maple syrup, molasses, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Process on medium until the mixture collects into a ball of dough. Add the remaining tablespoon of non-dairy milk, if necessary.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and roll into 3 to 4-inch circles. Press into the cupcake liners, crimping the edges if desired. Repeat with all of the dough. Bake the crust 10-11 minutes. Let cool.

Use leftover dough to make graham crackers to garnish the pies, using a knife or cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes until crisp.

For the filling:
Put the margarine, chocolate, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and mix thoroughly. Place over medium heat and whisk frequently until it thickens like pudding, 6-8 minutes. Pour this mixture over the margarine, chocolate, and vanilla and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the filling in the pie crusts. Let cool.

Assembly:
Pipe marshmallow fluff atop each pie. Using a culinary torch or your oven’s broiler (for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the pies), toast the marshmallow topping. Or do what I did and risk burning your fingers by holding the pies over a flame on your stovetop. I haven’t used the broiler in this apartment yet and it looked kind of dusty. I didn’t want to start a fire, okay?

Garnish with chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, or anything you’d like.

mini-smores-pie

P.S. This is what happens when you do a food shoot near a cat who is apparently very interested in pie. She hid behind curtains and furniture and jumped out to try and swipe a pie when I wasn’t looking. FYI, she didn’t eat the chocolate or anything else harmful.

Pi Day: Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon-meringue-pie

It’s Pi Day, and vegan meringue broke the internet. Therefore, I bring you pie and meringue.

I heard about the infamous chickpea-based meringue over the past few weeks on Facebook and blogs (like révolution végétale) and filed away the idea for future experiments. Pi Day seemed like the perfect time to try making vegan Lemon Meringue Pie.

Egg white based meringue wasn’t something I ate regularly before quitting animal products. Actually, I couldn’t even tell you if I ate meringue in my pre-vegan days. Therefore my experience with meringue: a) never happened, or b) was totally forgettable. But you know, I like trying out techniques that were deemed impossible just a few years ago. Using leftover chickpea juice is resourceful, and incredibly creative. And everyone is doing it!

The pie crust is adapted from Cheers to Vegan Sweets. I think pie crust can be a little bland, but the coconut oil in this recipe makes it flaky and adds a sweet flavor. I didn’t have vodka, so I replaced it with tequila. This pie is pretty non-traditional already, right? The lemon filling is adapted from a couple of recipes floating around the internet: Mister Nice Guy and Bite-Sized Thoughts. This pie had so many variables, so this is no time to mess around with recipe writing when these recipes are solid.

I doubled the meringue recipe because I wanted to try making meringue cookies as well, but that was absolutely not necessary. A tiny amount of liquid whips up into giant fluffy pillows. The recipe below makes half of what I made, and will still give you enough meringue for the pie and a tray or two of cookies.

vegan-lemon-meringue-pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes 1 pie

Ingredients

Crust:
2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons sugar
⅓ cup cold water plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vodka

Lemon Filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon agar powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest (1-2 lemons)

Meringue:
1 15 ounce can chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground sugar*
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
*Grind granulated sugar in a food processor so it’s somewhere between granulated and powdered sugar.

Instructions

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and cut in oil until dough resembles pebbles. Add water/vinegar and vodka and mix until completely incorporated. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer to a greased pie tin. Crimp the edges (this is a good resource for pie crust). Poke holes in the bottom of the pan with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. The pie will be baked again after the meringue step. Let cool.

For the lemon filling: Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until the filling is the consistency of pudding. Pour into the baked pie crust.

For the meringue: Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the bowl of a stand mixer (or use electric hand mixers…but you don’t want to do this by hand!). Add the cream of tartar. Whip the bean juice with the whisk attachment until it starts to thicken. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping. This process took me 7-8 minutes, but I’ve read that it can take up to 15 or 20 minutes.

You’ll want to keep it going on high speed until the mixture is the consistency of thick whipped cream. If it’s gloopy, your meringue will deflate. A spoonful of meringue at the proper consistency will not drip if you hold it upside down.

I took a start-to-finish video of the meringue-making process: it goes from liquid to foam to clouds!

To assemble: Preheat oven to 200°F. Pipe dollops of meringue on top of the pie. Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours or until the meringue is toasted. The baking time will depend on the amount of meringue on your pie, and how it’s piped on. Thick layers will take longer to bake. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, letting the meringue set.

To make meringue cookies out of leftover meringue, dollop meringue onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 200°F for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and let dry with the oven door cracked for a couple of hours.

I have a few more experiments up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to see what others come up with.

Happy Pi Day!

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

vegan-chocolate-cake-recipe
Happy Friday! Today I give you a basic chocolate cake with a small twist. I often get a little overzealous when making desserts with unusual flavor combinations, so I had to reel it in a few times with this cake. In the end, the cake and frosting are both pretty basic: a chocolate olive oil cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting, and a little cayenne in the batter for kick. I wanted to also throw in curry! Or rose water! But I think the theme of simplicity with a sprinkle of spice is working in its favor. You best believe I garnished each slice with a grind of smoked sea salt though.

I made a mini cake (6 inches), but the recipe will make a full-sized double-layer cake.
olive-oil-cake

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 2 9-inch round cakes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
3/4 cup olive oil
2 1/3 cups non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup vegan margarine
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract*

1/3 cup strawberry jam

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne and mix until combined.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the olive oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and strawberry jam. Mix all ingredients well.

Pour batter into two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool before proceeding.

For the frosting: Whip vegan cream cheese, margarine, and shortening with a stand mixer or hand mixer until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing after each addition. Add the strawberry extract and whip for 5-6 more minutes.

To assemble: Spread strawberry jam between the two layer cakes. Spread and pipe on frosting as desired.

*Strawberry extract can be hard to find, and sometimes tastes very artificial. Feel free to replace with strawberry syrup, strawberry jam, or another fruit extract you like.

vegan-strawberry-cake

Checkerboard Cake Tutorial

checkerboard-cake-tutorial

If you’ve ever ventured beyond making basic round or sheet cakes, you may have considered adding a novelty cake pan like a giant cupcake or a checkerboard to your collection. In most cases, these pans are a waste of money and valuable kitchen storage space, and have very limited use (how often are you going to bake a cake shaped like a castle or a specific cartoon character?). Nearly any shape or pattern can be cut or carved out of regular round or sheet cakes, and this checkerboard cake is one of the easiest “patterned” cakes to make.

If you can cut (or let’s be honest, trace) a circle out of cake, you can make a checkerboard cake using round cake pans without any special equipment. I haven’t inspected checkerboard cake pans in the store, but I’m sure they utilize the same technique. Cutting the cake pieces yourself means you can add as many layers as you want and make the checkers any size you want.

Below are the basic instructions for a two-layer, two-color checkerboard cake. Depending on the size of your cake, you could also cut four rings (making more, smaller checkers) using the same technique, make the cake triple or quadruple-layered, or use as many different colors as you want. You’ll want to choose a cake recipe that’s on the sturdier side so you can make clean cuts and prevent breakage when moving the pieces, even leaving the cakes in the oven an extra minute or two. I used the vanilla and chocolate recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, adding blue food coloring to the vanilla batter.

how-to-make-a-checkerboard-cake

Then decorate your cake as you would any normal round cake. For this cake, I made a basic buttercream, made the stripe pattern with edible paper, and made little fondant sculptures of our pets.

checkerboard-cake-without-a-pan

And that’s it! This is a low-maintenance way to add something extra to a round cake. I imagine it would work similarly with a sheet cake–just cut rectangle rings instead of circles. Please email me if you want clarification on any of the steps, or want to see a tutorial on another kind of sculpted or patterned cake.

Bacon Butter Pecan Ice Cream

bacon-butter-pecan-ice-cream

Yes, Bacon Butter Pecan Ice Cream. When you eat ice cream, do you often find yourself thinking, “this would be better with bacon”? No? Well, I promise there is a reason for this madness: a vegan bacon zine!

I’ve been talking about it and occasionally working on it for years, but I’m now actively making recipes and planning to design and print a bacon-themed zine very soon. If you’ve been following my posts, you may have noticed a the occasional bacon recipe like bacon vodka and Maple Bacon PBR Cupcakes. Since the bacon trend pioneers don’t appear to be calling it quits anytime soon, a bacon zine will still be ever so relevant. Filled with recipes, games, and words, printed on paper, and held together with not two, but three(!!) staples, it’ll be just what you need in your life.

Without further ado, this week’s post features a recipe from the forthcoming zine. If bacon in ice cream is not your thing, you can leave out the bacon and replace the maple syrup with agave or another liquid sweetener for a classic butter pecan ice cream.

This ice cream is smooth, caramel-y, and loaded with flavor and richness. The butter pecans add a punch of flavor on their own, so the bacon is more of an accent. I used chopped Upton’s Bacon Seitan for this recipe because it stays tender after cooking in the butter and sugar syrup (baking with bacon seitan often yields chewier results). I find that coconut cream yields the creamiest vegan ice cream. As I mentioned in my last ice cream post, Thin Mint Ice Cream, you can now buy Trader Joe’s coconut cream in a can without the hassle of separating the fat from a can of coconut milk. It does add a bit of coconut flavor to the ice cream, so try to choose stronger flavors or flavors that complement coconut when using coconut as an ice cream base. The buttery flavor of coconut goes well with the brown sugar and butter pecans.

Bacon Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Makes about 1 ½ pints

Ingredients

¾ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup chopped vegan bacon
3 tablespoons vegan margarine
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
14 ounces coconut cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup almond (or other non-dairy) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet for 2-3 mins until fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon and butter. The pecans will burn quickly, so keep an eye on them.
Transfer to a small bowl, then pour in the maple syrup and sprinkle on the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Set aside to cool.

Combine coconut cream and brown sugar in the saucepan and cook until sugar is dissolved and starts to bubble, then let boil for 3 minutes. Add milk, vanilla extract, and ⅓ cup of the pecan mixture. Let cool.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Put the remainder of the pecan mixture in the freezer for the duration of freezing so it doesn’t bring down the temperature of the ice cream when you add it. Add pecans and bacon in last 5 minutes of freezing.

If you make this recipe (with or without bacon!), let me know how you like it! And I would also love to hear what kind of recipes and content you’d like in a bacon zine, so keep the suggestions coming!

Thin Mint Ice Cream

vegan-thin-mint-ice-cream

Looking for something to do with your leftover* Girl Scout Cookies? The next best thing to eating the cookies in their purest form is making a new dessert featuring the cookies. This Thin Mint Chip Ice Cream, for example.

*And I’m going to assume the only reason you’d have leftovers is because you bought four or five boxes.

A few months ago, my girlfriend came home from a visit to New York with an assortment of Girl Scout Cookies. She filled our cabinets with Lemonades and Thanks-A-Lots and lined the freezer with shiny sleeves of Thin Mints. After eating cookies out of the freezer for a few weeks, I decided to use a sleeve for an ice cream experiment.

Before ordering a case of Girl Scout cookies, do your homework. The veganness of Girl Scout Cookies varies by manufacturer (for Thin Mints especially), and the manufacturer varies by US region. Thin Mints from ABC Bakers are free of animal ingredients, but Thin Mints from Little Brownie Bakers are not veagn. Get the lowdown on the varieties of vegan Girl Scout Cookies from The Laziest Vegans, and the ABC Bakers FAQ.

girl-scout-cookie-ice-cream

I find that using coconut cream as a base for homemade ice creams yields the creamiest texture, even after freezing completely. It does add some coconut flavor to your ice cream, so keep that in mind when choosing flavors for your ice cream, or replace with another high-fat non-dairy milk or cream.

To get the cream from a can of full fat coconut milk by letting it sit at room temperature, undisturbed, for a day, then chilling it for another day. The cream will rise to the top and solidify so you can scoop it out and use it in a recipe. While this is not a complicated process, you do have to plan ahead. Therefore, I was happy to find that Trader Joe’s carries cans of coconut cream! Not to be confused with the sugary liquid used in piña coladas that is also called “coconut cream” and also comes in a can, this coconut cream contains just the cream from coconut milk. Trader Joe’s is the only place I’ve found this, so let me know if you have another source. When in doubt, read labels.

Once the logistics of your cookie and coconut cream acquisition are complete, it’s time for dessert. This refreshing mint green ice cream loaded with cookies and chocolate beats the dairy Thin Mint Ice Cream any day.

Thin Mint Chip Ice Cream

Makes about 1 ½ pints

Ingredients

14 ounces coconut cream
¾ cup sugar
1 cup non-dairy milk
2-2 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Green food coloring (optional)
10 Thin Mints
¼ cup chocolate chips, chopped

Instructions

Combine coconut cream and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and stir in the milk, extracts, and food coloring, if using. Let cool. Keep the chocolate and Thin Mints in the freezer until it’s time to add them to the ice cream so the ice cream maintains its temperature when you add the chocolate and cookies.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding the Thin Mints and chocolate during the last five minutes of freezing. Serve garnished with extra Thin Mints, and chocolate syrup, if desired. Enjoy!

thin-mint-ice-cream

You may have noticed that Seitan Beats Your Meat took an unexpected hiatus over the past several months. Adding a full-time job to my schedule, moving to Chicago, and living out of boxes for a little while got in the way of creating recipes, doing photoshoots, and hoping to make posts on a regular basis. Now that life has settled down quite a bit and I have a place to live with everything unpacked for the first time in a year, I’ll be back with content (and maybe post some photos of my new kitchen and workspace!). I’ll still focus on quality over quantity, but gaps between posts will be weeks, not months.

I’d also like to announce that I’m vending at Paper Moon Pastry‘s upcoming Vegan Vortex Market in Chicago this Saturday! I will have copies of Cheers to Vegan Sweets, zines, and other fun stuff at my table. The market is a showcase of local vegan businesses, authors, and artists so you’ll find food, dessert, handmade gifts, books, art, and more. All of the details are on the Facebook event. Come on by for lunch and check out the goods!

vegan-vortex-kelly-peloza

I’ll be back very soon with another recipe and post!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Want more pumpkin recipes? Well, you got it!

Every year, my grandma makes a pumpkin cake just like this one on Thanksgiving. I’ve made vegan versions a few times over the years, and I find that a modified version of the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World yields the best results. I double the recipe, leave out the chocolate, and throw some cream cheese frosting on top. Simple! While the pumpkin in autumnal recipes is usually shrouded with a spice blend, the actual pumpkin flavor really stands out in this recipe. Accented with a small amount of cinnamon, this cake shines in its simplicity.

vegan-pumpkin-cake

Like my ugly, warty yellow pumpkin? It rules. Now make this recipe, then eat it for breakfast and dessert everyday.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 1 9×13-inch cake

Cake recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Ingredients

2 cups canned pumpkin
2⁄3 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces (1 tub) vegan cream cheese
2/3 cup margarine
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Stir together pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into a 9×13-inch baking pan sprayed with cooking spray or coated with oil.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the center of the cake is firm and fully cooked (test with a toothpick, if necessary). Let the cake cool.
  7. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
  8. Whip together the cream cheese and margarine in a stand mixer or large mixing bowl.
  9. Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add an additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar if the frosting is runny. It should be a little drippy, but not liquid.
  10. Frost the cooled cake. Store in the refrigerator.

I found that the cream cheese frosting is excellent with fruit. Keep that in mind if you have any leftovers!

Do you jump on the pumpkin bandwagon this time of year? If not, is there another ingredient you bring out in the fall?

“I watched the sunrise today. Couldn’t sleep.”

“How was it?”

“Average.”

I decided to turn a room into a camera obscura for this photo (no Photoshop!). A camera obscura is created by letting a small amount of light into a pitch dark vessel through a pinhole. Such vessels include a camera, cardboard box, or in this case, a room with the window completely covered, save for a small hole cut out. The light that enters through the pinhole will project an inverted image of whatever is on the other side of the window (like a house and a tree…not very interesting, but what I had to work with), much like the human eye interprets the world.

candied-starfruit

While the brain automatically flips the images the eye registers so we see the world right side up, a pinhole and a wall don’t have a brain, so we get an inverted image in a camera obscura. After your eyes adjust, the image on the wall will become quite clear, but a camera with a very long exposure will do an even better job of seeing it and will bring out color and detail. Yay, science!

Photo credit: BBC

Photo credit: BBC

So what does this have to do with Mad Men? In the season three episode, ‘Seven Twenty Three’ there is a total eclipse of the sun (you’re welcome!) and it seems to make the characters a little madder. Betty buys a fainting couch, Don drugs himself with secobarbital and alcohol, then gets beaten and robbed by the teenage hitchhikers he picked up, Peggy makes some questionable decisions, and Don is forced to sign a contract with Sterling Cooper. One of the more innocuous scenes is Sally’s third grade class turning cardboard boxes into camera obscurae in order to look at the eclipse.

vegan-moon-pies

With the Space Race underway and the solar eclipse in this episode, I decided to photograph a space-themed dessert in the camera obscura: Vegan Moon Pies and Candied Starfruit. Two graham crackers sandwiched between marshmallow fluff and dipped in chocolate, then garnished with candied starfruit. It’s barely a recipe, but it produces some seriously delicious results. I used peanut butter cookies instead of graham crackers because peanut butter cookies are better than graham crackers.

Moon Pies

Ingredients

Graham crackers or cookies
Vegan marshmallows or marshmallow fluff
Chocolate
Vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. If graham crackers are not circle-shaped, cut them into circles.
  2. Make a sandwich with two crackers and marshmallow fluff. Pop in the freezer for a half hour to make for easier dipping.
  3. Melt chocolate chips, adding 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening per cup.
  4. Dip sandwiches in chocolate and let set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Candied Starfruit

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 starfruit

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil around 230°F.
  2. Cut starfruit into thin slices. Add to the saucepan and let boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit in the syrup for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the starfruit to a parchment-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon. Let cool.
  4. At this point, you can either dehydrate the slices with a dehydrator, or an oven at its lowest temperature (crack the oven door open, even). Let dehydrate until chewy and free of moisture. Mine took a couple of hours in a 170°F oven with the door cracked open.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Don’t look at the eclipse, Betty. Your eyes will melt.

camera-obscura-photo

And a final image inside the camera obscura. While Photoshop probably would have been much easier, it would have been way less fun and magical.

P.S. Today the Vegan MoFo blog is giving away a copy of the yet-to-be-released Cheers to Vegan Sweets. Head on over there to enter!

Cheers to Vegan Sweets

“Sally, go watch TV.”

*Warning: season three spoilers!

vegan-peach-pie

When I was watching Mad Men for the first time. The second time around, I was supposed to pay attention to food, design, and table setting for this project, but alas, I got sucked in and forgot for the greater portion of six seasons. However, there are some scenes that I didn’t need to actively remember because they made quite an impression.

mad-men-peach-pie

One of those scenes is in season three episode four, ‘The Arrangements.’ After Grandpa Gene’s death, the adults are sitting at the dining table, a world away from Sally. When she witnesses a moment of levity, she bursts forth with emotion, exclaiming no one cares that Gene is gone forever, and gets brushed off by Betty. (“Sally, go watch TV.”) Betty snacks on the bruised peaches while the TV pacifies Sally in her ballet outfit. Besides the beautiful and emotive imagery, this scene speaks volumes. While defeated Sally lies on the floor, the adults make no attempt to show her that her claims are wrong, and continue with their sordid, repressed lives.

For me, it evokes Gregory Crewdson*, creator of lush imagery dealing with suburban psychological unrest. His images are not specific to any time period, but there are certainly visual crossovers with Mad Men.

*Sidenote: I attended an artist talk of his where he referred to Mad Men as “the greatest work of sustained art in the past ten years.” See, full circle logic!
mad-men-the-arrangements

Photo credit: AMC

Prior to his passing, Sally became close to Grandpa Gene. He was letting Sally drive his car down the street when he says he’ll buy her peaches that afternoon. Bobby complains that he’s allergic to peaches, but Gene tells him to shut it because his sister wants them. It’s at the A&P buying the peaches where he collapses.

sally-draper-driving

Photo credit: AMC

With this series of events in mind, I decided to make peach pie à la mode as a gesture toward Sally, even though she would be much older now, and also she’s not a real person. Betty probably would probably take it away from her anyway.

peach-pie-vegan

Sweet vanilla bean ice cream and warm peaches offer a short, transient window of time to enjoy the dessert. I styled the photos after the image of the dining room and Sally in her ballet outfit, using dark, moody lighting and sheer fabrics.

mad-men-pie-recipe

Peach Pie

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Crust:

3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup margarine
1/4 cup cold vodka or ice water
3 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

8 peaches (5 cups sliced)
Pinch of lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  1. Make the crust. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  2. Cut in shortening and margarine and mix in with your hands until the dough looks like sand.
  3. Add vodka and ice water and mix until a dough forms, adding more water if necessary.
  4. Separate the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
  5. Remove the peach skins by blanching the peaches. Boil a large pot of water, and prepare an ice bath.
  6. Score a small X in the top of each peach. Place all the peaches in the boiling water for 45 seconds, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath. The skins will slip right off.
  7. Slice the peaches and set aside. Wait to make the filling because it will get too liquidy if it sits for too long.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out one of the chilled doughs and place in a greased pie plate. Poke with a fork so steam can escape. Pre-bake the crust for 8 minutes. Let cool.
  9. Make the filling. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugars, spices, cornstarch, and salt to the peaches and mix until completely combined. Pour into pie crust. Dot with butter.
  10. Make a lattice crust with the other portion of dough. There are people with beautiful kitchens on YouTube who can teach you how to make a lattice crust.
  11. Place completed pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 375°F and finish baking for 30 minutes.
  13. Let cool, then cut and serve.

vegan-peach-pie-recipe