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.

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!

Infused Vodka Recipes

infused-vodka

Step away from the flavored liquor on store shelves! Can you chop fresh fruit and vegetables? Can you open packages of herbs and spices? Can you buy alcohol? (Sorry, kids.) Then you can make your own pomegranate, jalapeño, chocolate, plum, or other crazy-flavored liquor! And mix flavors that the store-bought stuff* hasn’t seen! Your concoctions are bound to be fresher, and probably cheaper.

I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for infused vodka because you can infuse practically anything in any amount in the liquor of your choice. And in mere days, sometimes hours! Saving the dark liquors** for the winter months, I chose vodka and bright, summer flavors for this batch. With dried flowers, and cucumbers fresh out of the garden, I whipped up two variations in small batches.

*It can probably be done with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and some other mystery ingredients, but maybe you should stick to store-bought cake and whipped cream vodkas, if that’s your thing.

**Sorry, Ron Swanson.

cucumbers

Cucumber Vodka

I tasted store-bought cucumber vodka last summer, and let me tell you, this homemade version is 10x fresher and more delicious!

  1. Use 1 large cucumber for 750 ml vodka, or one standard-sized bottle. I made about half that amount here.
  2. Peel the cucumber and scoop out its seeds. The peel will add a bitter flavor.
  3. Chop up your cucumber and add it to the vodka. Let sit for 2 days to 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
  4. Remove the cucumber pieces, discard, and use the flavored vodka however you wish!

homemade-cucumber-vodka

I’ve been drinking the cucumber vodka with ginger ale and club soda, but it is also great in a flavorful mixed drink, like this cucumber mojito.

Cucumber Mojito

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

10 fresh mint leaves
3 wedges lime
4 cucumber slices
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 oz cucumber vodka
4 oz club soda

Instructions

  1. Muddle the mint leaves, limes, and cucumber slices with the sugar to release the juices and oils.
  2. Top with ice cubes.
  3. Add the vodka and club soda, and stir.
  4. Garnish with cucumber and lime slices.

cucumber-mojito

Hibiscus Rose Vodka

Hibiscus, or Jamaica flowers, is one of the main flavors of Agua de Jamaica, a ruby red tea made with dried hibiscus flowers and fresh lime. Infusing vodka with hibiscus is a quick process, and the resulting liquor tastes amazing with lime. Absolut makes a similar flavor called Absolut Hibiskus & Pomegranate. If you’d like to replicate that, feel free to add some crushed pomegranate seeds and juice!

  1. Use 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers per 1 cup vodka. I replaced some of that with dried rose buds for a floral flavor that goes nicely with the tart, delicate flavor of hibiscus.
  2. Add to vodka and let sit for 3-4 hours. The vodka will become bright pink within minutes. If the flowers steep for longer than a few hours, the vodka will become bitter. Remove the flowers and discard.
  3. Use the flavored vodka however you wish!

hibiscus-vodka

I made this drink to accompany the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Because I watch shows made for teenagers, whatever. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a murder mystery that follows a group of four high school girls with a stalker called “A” who threatens to reveal their OMG huge secrets. So instead of going to an adult, they get hit by cars, date their English teachers, tell lots of lies, and open 800 plot lines that never get resolved in 5 seasons. There’s creepy dolls, high drama, and lots of gasping. It’s deliciously terrible/wonderful. Just like this hot pink drink, which is more showy than substantial, and filled with secret alcohol you’ll never taste.

Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

8 oz ginger ale
1 1/2 oz hibiscus vodka
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 oz lime simple syrup
1/2 oz Grand Marnier

Instructions

  1. You can shake or stir this drink. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, or a cup of ice.
  2. Pour into a glass (chilled or frozen is best) and garnish with lime or orange slices, and cocktail umbrellas. The more over the top, the better.

girly-drink

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Welcome to the new SBYM!

A divinely imaginative vegan food and photography blog, recipe collection, and book and zine store.

It’s always somewhat nerve-wrecking to release a brand new project into the wild, and I’m eager to start posting content, so I’ll keep this short and sweet:

My name is Kelly Peloza and I’m a vegan cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. If you want to learn more and see pics of cute animals, check out my about page. I began writing a vegan cookie cookbook and an accompanying blog in 2007, and I’ve been blogging at The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur ever since. Until now (check your speakers).

In May 2013, I graduated from college and attended Vida Vegan Con. Both of these events got me incredibly inspired for new projects. With the time constraints of student life no longer an issue, and the subject matter limitations of a blog called The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, I wanted to put consistent time and energy into something brand new. And here we are! The cookie blog archives will still be available and I’ll post details if and when they relocate. But no worries, here you’ll find every feature of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, and more.

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