Friday, October 31, 2008

People continue to surprise me...

Final MoFo Post and Happy Halloween!

It's an odd thing. People continue to surprise me. Often in ways that leave me breathing a weighty sigh, it must be admitted, but not today. Today, I was pleasantly surprised and here's why....

I brought in the goodies I baked last night and we had a bit of a Halloween binge:

This was the finished cheesecake:

And here's a non-blurry shot of the fingers, complete with their spidery friends:

Thanks for the pix, Laura!

OK, so the other thing that was happening was that one of our 'corporate business partners' was bringing in lunch from Panera. I assumed that there would be nothing for me as Panera tends to use a lot of animals and their secretions as sandwich fillings, soups and the like. Plus, why would anyone think to get something separate for me?

Well, I was blown out of the water by the fact that when Bonnie arived with lunch, she'd brought for me some vegan tomato soup, a sourdough bread bowl, chips and salad. So within the space of 30 seconds, I went from having no lunch (the paninis of last night scarely lent themselves to offering leftovers!) to having a veritable feast. And it transpired that my boss had orchestrated the whole thing by calling her up and mentioning that I am vegan.

Now this is the sort of accommodation that makes me want to bake cookies and cheesecakes and cupcakes and whatever for these people Every Single Day. Because that kind of thoughtfulness and respect of my choices - even though they do not share them - are just a couple of traits that make the folks I work with the best on the face of the planet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Eve of All Hallows Eve....

It's Halloween tomorrow so tonight My Beloved is bravely making do with a panini for dinner. It is - in my own defence - a mixed mushroom, carmelised onion and soy cheese panini, but a panini nonetheless. The reason? Well, I am taking some goodies in to work tomorrow and have spent the whole evening baking. Following my recent crowing about the pumpkin cheesecake I have been conscripted to make another to share with my friends and coworkers.

However, this cheesecake almost came out somewhat differently. Take a look at this and see if you can spot the difference:

Yes, it's tough to see it immediately. And even tougher when you're in the grocery store, it's the end of a long day, you have a 45 minute ride home, it's raining and you just want to get back to cuddle your pups and snuggle with your beloved.

But it is terribly important - vital, you could even say - to notice the albeit rather 'subtle' difference between these two lids if you are going to spare yourself the complete panic attack I had when opening up the lid for the pumpkin cheesecake to find this:


Cheddar-flavoured cream cheese!

Not particularly useful for a pumpkin cheesecake. Good folks at Tofutti - what do you have to say for yourselves???

The gods were with me, however, as I had some spares. I mean, what's the chances of there being 2 spare tubs of vegan cream cheese when you need them????

That aside, last year at my first ever vegan Halloween party (sigh!), I made some Dead Man's Fingers (from Yeah that Vegan Shit) which went down a treat. They are surprisingly simple and fun to make, absolutely ghastly to behold, and mouth-watering to munch, so I made a batch to take to my work and a batch for My Beloved too. See here....

Hopefully our coworkers are not reading this tonight and spoiling the surprise for tomorrow!

Apologies for the short post, but it is getting late and I hear my bed calling softly to me......

Stay Vegan (and spooky), Friends!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MoFo Wednesday: Back to my Roots......

It's time for some dietary sanity.


No wonder I'll never be skinny. Bah!

And so, last night, My Beloved and I returned to our roots.
No, not fish and chips and jam butties* but roots - root vegetables.

Now that the weathter's turned decidedly nippy, I am newly possessed by the need to roast things. Fortunately for all I am restricting myself to things within the Plant Kingdom...such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Thus:

Peeled, chopped and tossed with some olive oil, salt, black pepper, rosemary and a few whole cloves of garlic, they went into the oven at around 375 for about 40 minutes and came out looking like this.

Although relegated to the status of a 'side dish', they paired really nicely with the samosa-stuffed baked potatoes (from the Vcon) and some simple couscous.

There were enough roasted roots and couscous for lunch today, which put a smile on my face and a grimace on those of my colleagues. Whole roasted garlic to win friends and influence people....!


Stay Vegan, Friends!

* Being Brits, fish and chips was a staple in our pre-vegan lives and 'jam butties' is not nearly as excitingly rude as it sounds - it simply means a jelly sandwich. So there!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MoFo Tuesday: Chocolate Truffles

In this final week of MoFo postings, I have abandoned any pretense of health and sensible nutrition, it seems, in pursuit of pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Of the 'Chocolate Truffle' variety, specifically.

I recently acquired - at the behest of My Dear Mama - a copy of the Artful Vegan, the cookbook from the Millenium Restaurant. It is splendid - full of juicy foodie images and beautifully elegant recipes. They are not exactly your typical 'mid-week, just got home from work, via the gym, still got to feed and walk the dogs and it's already 8:15pm' kind of fare, however. But, this weekend, I took the plunge in a very minor way by making these:

Chocolate truffles.

They are super simple but ridiculously delicious. Here's what you do:

Chop up 3/4 cup dark chocolate and 1/4 cup dried cherries, thus:

Melt them in a double boiler along with 1/4 cup soymilk and a 1/4 cup of rum. Stir gently until it looks like this...a marvelously melty choccie confection!

Add a 1/4 tsp chili powder for a bit of a spice kick. This is optional, but fun!

Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Using a melon baller (or teaspoon), scoop out the thickened mix and drop into some cocoa powder, sweetened with a little powdered sugar. Roll into cute little balls, popping the first one into your mouth - just for 'Quality Control' purposes, of course.


The mixture should make about 16 truffles (-1 for the cook!) so there are ample to go around.

I substituted dried cranberries for the dried cherries as that's what I had in the cupboard, rationalising that - this way - there's a double serving of those wonderful antioxidents!

The end result was deep, dark and rich beyond words. The kick of cayenne (I had no chili powder as such) comes on afterwards, but it is unmistakable and surprisingly good.

If you want to try them for yourselves, this is the book for you:

Or come on over to my place - I have a whole batch just waiting for you!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flying South for the Winter

Nothing speaks of the upcoming winter as much as the turning of the leaves, fields surreal with pumpkins, the grocery store plethora of edible squashes and the migration of birds (and visiting relatives) who - sensing the nip in the air - decide it's very much time to excuse themselves and return to warmer climes.

And so it was a bittersweet weekend: my (visiting) father-in-law flew home, albeit eastwards, rather than in a southerly direction, and I marked the occasion by baking my first pumpkin cheesecake of the season.

I took the recipe from Colleen's JOVB and - yet again - it was a triumph. Honestly, I have not found one recipe in that book that hasn't turned out exceptionally! Don't believe me? Pah - take a look for yourself!

Need more?

When I came to the States, one of the differences in food styles was the humble cheesecake. Now, in the UK, the cheesecake traditionally is not baked - it's more of a refrigerated thing. And so the American cheesecake could be a tad 'firm' for my tastes. Unless they were 'Cheesecake Factory' cakes of course, but that's a whole other story from my pre-vegan days.

However, Colleen's recipe bridges the culinary divide for me: yes, it's a baked cake but it is moussy and light and delicately creamy. It uses Ener-G Egg Replacer and I think it's this very component that makes it so delectably more-ish. The spices are perfectly balanced - cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger - and the graham cracker crust is wickedly sweet and delightful. In the past I used to make a double thick crust - using twice the amount of crust mix for a really firm base to my cheesecakes - but this recipe really does not need that, and heaven knows I scarcely require the extra calories! Mind you, if you're going to have some cheesecake, HAVE some cheesecake! And this particular one is ideal for a late autumnal treat!

Stay Vegan, Friends!