Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

First and foremost, I have to say Happy VEGAN MOFO everyone! I have been mega busy lately but I hope to get a few more things up here before the end of the month. I have been on a real kick lately making all sorts of loaf type all started with the never ending supply of my Spiced Banana Bread. Then I started making pumpkin bread variations on it. It was only a matter of time before my dessert journey ended here....homemade Nutella and pound cake. That's right folks....Nutella swirled into pound cake. And the result...heavenly! Sometimes, you just have to take risks to get great desserts, right?

Also, I think I am secretly trying to come up with some awesome desserts because Chris' birthday is on Thanksgiving this year!!! Crazy! That means double desserts. I am going to be in a food coma for a long time after next Thursday.

2 c. hazelnuts, toasted and mostly shelled
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp vegtable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. water
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Pound Cake
3/4 c blended silken tofu
1 c. sugar
1/3 c canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tbsp corn starch
2 c flour

To start, you will want to begin with the nutella. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 12- 15 minutes. Using a kitchen towel, scoop about maybe 1/2 c or so of the hazelnuts, and use the towel to rub off as much of the skins as you can. If you have some skin left on the nuts, it will be okay, you just want as much off as you can get. Repeat for the remaining hazelnuts.

When all the hazelnuts are done, place in a food processor and blend until it gets to be almost like peanut butter like consistency. This will take several minutes of blending/pulsing to achieve. First, it will be kind of like bread crumbs, and slowly the natural oils will come out of the nuts and make it into a sticky, peanut butter type paste.

When you have the right texture, add your powdered sugar, cocoa powder and oil. Pulse and blend until everything is combined. You might have to stop several times to scrape the sides down. Everything will probably get very thick at this point.

Next, the trick to get this more of a smooth consistency, I transfered everything to my KitchenAid mixer. While you are mixing and fluffing the nutella, add a 1/4 c. of water at a time until you have a smooth, more spreadable mixture. For mine, I ended up using 1/2 c. of water.

Now, set up a double boiler and melt 4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate. When the chocolate is close to being all the way melted, take the bowl off of the double boiler and continue to stir until no pieces of chocolate remain. Add to your nutella spread, and mix until everything is smooth and combined.

Note: This makes about 2 c. worth of nutella, and for the cake, you will likely only use a little over a cup. But hey, this means nutella for breakfast, for lunch, for snacks! Anytime!

Okay, onto the cake. I know that just making the nutella was a lot of work, but the cake goes quickly and you will have almost a whole hour to rest up while it is in the oven. So, let's get this cake going!

Take your silken tofu and blend in your food processor. This will make sure there are no lumps, and it should almost resemble the consistency of yogurt. Take the blended tofu, add your sugar, oil and vanilla, ,mix until everything comes together to a nice, smooth batter. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and corn starch. Then add your flour, one cup at a time. Mix for a couple of minutes, the batter should be fairly thick in consistency.

Now for the fun part! Take a 9x5 inch loaf pan and spread about 1/3 of the batter as the bottom layer. Then take the nutella and spread a layer on top of the batter. Since the nutella is a lot thicker than the batter, I found that spooning out small amounts of nutella and dotting it across the batter works best. Then take the back of the spoon and spread it out as best as possible. Take about 1/3 of the batter and spread over the nutella. Repeat the nutella layer. Then pour over the rest of the batter on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean when poked in the center.

Now eat cake! With nutella on top! And maybe ice cream if you have any around!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spiced Banana Bread

I have literally been making banana bread about once a week for probably at least the last five or six weeks. It is pretty basic, but it is just so darn tasty I figured it should have a spot here on Herbivore Dinosaur. The thing I like most about this is that it is banana bread with pumpkin spice type spices! That way I get to have my pumpkin spice fix for the day and use up bananas that are going a bit over ripe all at once...woohoo!

There are two key parts that make this banana bread top notch as well. One is that you have the butter melted. I forgot this once and it did not turn out the same...still good, but not what I was going for. The second part is to be careful and not to over mix your batter. More on this further down. Ok, now go make banana bread!

what you will need:
3 large very ripe bananas
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. Earth Balance, or any butter substitutem, melted and cooled
2 egg Ener-G equivalents
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Peel your bananas and place them in small-ish chunks into your mixer bowl, along with the sugar. Let this mix until the bananas are mushed up, smashed and fairly smooth. While this happens, melt your Earth Balance butter. Once it is melted, set aside to slightly cool until you need it.

Sift your flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Set this bowl of all of the dry ingredients aside for the moment, and mix up your 2 egg equivalents of Ener-G. Once this is ready, add this into your banana sugar mixture. Add your melted butter to the bowl of your wet ingredients, and mix until everything is incorporated.

Now, take your bowl of dry ingredients and now mix this into your wet ingredients. The trick here is to not over mix the batter. You only want to stir the batter until everything is pretty much mixed together. Your goal here is by avoiding over mixing the batter, your air bubbles in the bread will be different sizes, which means a tastier banana bread. To contrast this idea, if you mix too much, you keep breaking down the air bubbles into smaller and more consistent sizes...which means your banana bread once baked will actually be more cake like in nature. Neat, huh?

Pour your batter into a 9x5" or slightly smaller bread pan. If it is not non-stick, you might want to grease it first so it just plops out nice and easily once done baking. Place the pan into a preheated over set to 350 degrees. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, check and see if a toothpick or knife or fork comes out clean right in the middle. If not, place back in the oven for a few minutes and repeat. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 - 20 minutes, and then proceed to take it out of the pan to be placed on a cooling rack.

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tomato Curry Simmer Sauce

A while back, I started to try and make a conscious effort to take things that I am constantly buying at the store and make them myself. Case in point: Trader Joe's Curry Simmer Sauce. I was literally buying this stuff once a week, adding some coconut milk, whatever tofu and veggies were around. I was addicted...until I made my very own inspired version! And it is pretty stellar. Here is a great basic version that I think would be great with some peppers thrown in, maybe mushrooms, potatoes...go nuts! Although, I do like it just straight up with some tofu over brown rice. Rice noodles also make a great side.

The funny thing is, when you start building this recipe, it pretty much looks, smells and tastes like you are making a boring pasta sauce (minus the ginger added at the beginning). Until that magic moment when you add all of the will notice the color of the sauce turn from bright red to a rich, dark shade of red. The smell of pasta sauce transforms almost instantly into a warm aroma of an Indian curry! It is truly a delicious and magical meal.

what you will need:
1 can coconut milk
1 block tofu, pressed & cubed
1 - 28 oz. can tomatoes, puréed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1.5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Take a large pot and begin by warming your oil over medium heat. Add your diced onions, stir and let cook just until they start to become translucent. Add your ginger and garlic, let cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stir and let cook until the garlic and onions just start to turn a golden color in parts. Add your chopped tomatoes, stir it around again and gather your tomatoes that you have puréed, adding them to the pot.

Give everything a good stir and line up all of the spices you need. Next, one by one, add 1 tsp each of coriander, cinnamon and cloves. Stir. Mmm, smell that? The sauce is changing in front of your eyes. Next, add 1/2 tsp each of cumin, tumeric, paprika and the red pepper flakes. Then add your 1.5 tsp sugar, your 1 tbsp lemon juice and salt to taste.

Now, to me, the 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes is not spicy. But to you it might be. So, if you are worried about the spice level, start with maybe a 1/4 tsp first and go from there.

Let this simmer while you press and slice your block of tofu into cubes. If you want any other veggies in here, chop those up. Add to the sauce, and add 1 can of coconut milk.

And....let it simmer, maybe make some brown rice. The longer it simmers, the more yummy this stuff gets!

Eat and repeat.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mini Peach Galettes

It seems like every time I have been to the grocery store the last few weeks, there is a beautiful, huge pile of sweet peaches and nectarines. I kept buying some, munching on them as a snack...and then finally I thought, "I should probably bake something with these wonderful peaches!" And it was that simple. I literally woke up one day last week with only one thought in my mind, I must bake today. I was up and at the store by 8:30 am, home by 9:15 and in the kitchen.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of tart-like thing, but then my obsession with mini/personal sized foods kicked in. Mini Galettes. Perfect! I love galettes because all of its imperfections are what make it look so pretty and perfect. It adds to the galettes character, rustic-ness and charm. Plus, personal sized...they are just so darn cute looking!

peach galette:

4 large peaches, peeled and cut each half into ninths
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ground walnuts

the dough:
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
16 tbsp Earth Balance or your fav. vegan butter substitute
6 tbsp very cold water

Start with making the dough first, since it works best if it has time to chill in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours. Using a food processor, begin the dough by pulsing together the flour, salt, and sugar a few times just to mix everything together. Then add the cold butter and pulse until it is a bit coarse and crumbly. Add your cold water to the dough, and begin to pulse until the dough comes together.

If it is still crumbly, add one tbsp of cold water, and pulse again. The dough should not be too moist where it feels sticky, but it should hold it's shape when squeezed together. Take a piece of saran wrap or parchment paper, and flatten out the dough into a large disc, and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours.

Next up are taking care of the peaches. You want to peel them, and to make that easier just drop them one at a time into boiling water for 1 - 2 minutes, then place them into an ice water bath. This should let you remove the skins a whole lot easier. Cut each peach in half, then cut each half into nine parts.

Mix together your corn starch, lemon juice, brown sugar and salt. Pour over the sliced peaches, stir to coat evenly and let marinade for 15 - 20 minutes.

After the chilling time is up for your dough, take a piece and roll out a circular shape to reach 6 - 7" wide and 1/4" thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. After I rolled out my first dough, I placed it onto my Silpat and baking sheet, and then put it into the fridge. Every rolled out dough I placed onto the baking sheet in the fridge as well. This will keep your dough firm and make it easier to work with when forming galettes. Repeat for the remaining dough. I was able to make 5 galettes out of my dough, the last one being slightly larger in size than the rest.

Onto the assembly. Take one circle dough, drop 1 well rounded tsp of ground walnuts in the center. Leaving at least a 1" border from the edge, spread out the ground walnuts evenly. Grab your peaches, arrange several peach slices on top of your ground walnuts until it is completely covered. Fold the edge border of your dough, pleating the edge every inch or so all the way around the dough. Spoon over a few tbsps of the peach juice/marinade on top of the peaches. Place in fridge, and repeat for your next galette.

Place into a preheated oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the peaches & juice is starting to bubble.

Let cool, if you can resist the delicious aromas! Eat and enjoy!

Side note: because I am a food nerd, I did a bit of reading up on galettes and the layer of ground nuts is a traditional technique that aids in forming a crip/not soggy bottom. The ground nuts serve as an additional layer to soak up juices and prevent it from reaching the actual bottom layer of crust, resulting in a yummy, firm crust! Neat, right? And no more soggy crust!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Curried Couscous Salad

You know that feeling when you finally are getting back into your groove, back into the swing of things? It is pretty great and I feel it right now! In between working and cross country family visits and vacations, this poor little blog has been a bit lack-luster as of late. But no longer! Hurray for cooking and photographing again!

It has been pretty hot around these parts lately (which I love, I am not complaining!) and I have been daydreaming about something that is served cold, yet filling...slightly sweet, yet tangy...and really yummy. And after thinking about this long enough, I finally made it a reality. So here we go, back on the food cookin' band wagon.

what you will need:
2 c. couscous
2 3/4 c. water
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 c. red onion
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c. raisins
1 c. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Start out by cooking your couscous, since it will have to cool after cooking. Add your curry powder to the 2 3/4 c. water that you cook your 2 c. couscous in. Cook until the liquid is boiling, take off burner and set aside, covered. Fluff and stir after 5 - 10 minutes.

Finely dice your red onion, yellow pepper and red pepper. Chop your parsley. Toast your pine nuts in a pan over medium heat, just until they start to get ever so slightly golden. They will also have somewhat of an oily sheen to them.

Toss your couscous into a large serving bowl, add your veggies, raisins, chopped parsley and pine nuts. Coat this mixture with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Stir to evenly coat all of the veggies and couscous.

Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want it a bit more tangy, add more red wine vinegar. If you want a bit more sweetness, add some balsamic vinegar. If it seems a bit dry, but the tangy sweetness ratio is in check for your taste, add a tbsp. or so of olive oil.

Set aside in the fridge to chill completely for about an hour or so. Eat on a hot day and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

I have really been into going berry picking at local farms here, which are plentiful here in the Northwest. And this past weekend, I went berry picking yet again (....but can you blame me, its around $1/pound!) and I was pleasantly surprised that the blueberries were in full swing! And let me tell you, blueberries grow on the most adorable little bushes! I got a little over 2 pounds in maybe 10 minutes. It was such an amazingly sunny day, and I knew I had to make something special with these berries.

It was a hot weekend, and all I had on my mind were the follow things in no particular order: ice cream, cookies, refreshing, and cold! Immediately, the idea of ice cream sandwiches jumped to mind. And almost like magic, I was struck with the taste of bright, refreshing lemons with ice cream form! And cookies, lemon cookies...! And so began the long journey of making ice cream sandwiches from scratch, every step of the way.

For the ice cream, you make a blueberry compote first, which will get swirled into the lemon ice cream. Then you make cookies, and then you assemble. A little note, making everything in one day was quite the project. I think it would be much more manageable splitting it into two parts. But I needed my fix of ice cream sandwiches, stat! So, right after berry picking I got to work.

Here is what you will need:
blueberry compote
2 c. blueberries
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. corn starch

ice cream
2 - 13.5 fl oz cans coconut milk (not the low fat kind!)
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. arrowroot
4 - 5 tbsp. lemon juice

lemon cookies
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
12 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Ener-G egg equivalent

First thing first, you want to make the blueberry compote. That way you can put it in the fridge to cool while you make the lemon ice cream mixture. Start by rinsing 2 c. blueberries, put into a medium pot and add the sugar. With a fork or a potato masher, start to crush/smoosh the berries until they release their juice and there are no more whole berries left. Simmer for 5 - 7 minutes. You should have a dark sauce with smooshed up berries that look pretty mushy as well. Add the tbsp. of lemon juice to the 2 tbsp. cornstarch, mix and add to compote. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. It should have thickened up a lot, and be like a thick blueberry syrupy sauce almost. Set aside in fridge to cool.

Next up, the lemon ice cream. Reserve a 1/4 c. of the coconut milk, and set aside. In a medium sized pot, add the rest of the coconut milk along with the sugar. Cook on medium high. While this gets up to temp, take your 1/4 c. coconut milk and incorporate your 2 tbsp. arrowroot. When the sugar/coconut milk just starts to boil, take it off the burner, add the arrowroot mixture, and stir to combine. You should notice this getting a bit thicker as well. After everything is incorporated, add 4 tbsp. of lemon juice. Taste, and if you like it a bit more zingy, add another tbsp. of lemon. Stir, and set aside in fridge to cool completely.

For everything to come together in your ice cream maker, your lemon mixture really needs to be cold. Even just "cool" can be too warm and it will not work. Trust me on this, I too once was anxious to have my ice cream and threw in a cooled mixture into the ice cream maker and it never quite got where it needed to go. So you have two options at this point: 1. make the cookies or 2. take a nice, long break! I left my mixture in the fridge about 3 hours, stirring every once in a while.

Once totally cold, follow your ice cream maker instructions accordingly with the lemon ice cream. After it is done, I layered the lemon ice cream and the compote. For every couple of scoops of lemon ice cream I put into my container, I would add a big, heaping spoonful of blueberry compote. After filling your container in this fashion, simply take a knife and make swirly figures in your ice cream. Place in freezer to harden.

Ok, if you are brave, you will venture onto the cookies. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix to combine all ingredients. One tbsp. at a time, mix in your butter. After all of your butter chucks are well combined, add your vanilla, lemon, and Ener-G egg equivalent. Mix until the dough comes together. Take it out of the bowl, and knead for a 2 - 3 minutes. Roll it into a log, wrap in saran wrap and stick it in the fridge for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. You will notice the dough is super soft, similar to sugar cookies. Freezing the dough a little will make it easier to handle the dough.

Fast forward 1 hour or so, take out your cookie dough log, slice off cookies in 1/4" slices. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place on a non-stick baking tray or onto a tray lined with a Silpat mat. Bake cookies until slightly golden brown, 12 - 14 minutes. You want your cookies slightly softer than normal, this will make it easier to bite into your delicious ice cream sandwich. Let the cookies cool completely.

Ok, now for the fun and tasty part. Finally, right!? If you are not worried how nice and neat the sandwiches look, take the ice cream out of the freezer and set it on the counter for 20 minutes or so to soften up a bit. Scoop several spoonfuls onto a cookie, place a cookie on top, with the edge of the spoon, smooth out the edges a bit. You can eat this now, or freeze it a bit to firm up the ice cream again. Firming up the ice cream is what I recommend, but I have to admit I had one right away. After all of this work, I had to do it, okay!?

If you want really neat, pretty sandwiches, you can do what I did. Simply take some softened ice cream, fill a little ramekin with about 1" of ice cream, throw the ramekin in the freezer for 20 - 30 minutes. Use a knife to line the edge of the ramekin, this will loosen the ice cream circle. Turn upside down and tap onto cutting board. Out should pop a neat, little circle you can simply place onto the cookies to make the sandwiches.

Eat lots of these and enjoy! You have earned it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy B-Day Herbivore Dinosaur!

I just realized that it has been a whole year since I made up my mind to keep a vegan food blog. At first, it started off as this kind of, hey...let me post one or two things then forget about it kind of thing. But something changed this last time around. I decided to be a bit more dedicated and take this blog more seriously. And here we are, a full year later and I just wanted to wish this little blog a (tad late) Happy Birthday! So thank you all again, for those of you who read and enjoy this little blog of mine, it is a pleasure.

It's funny, but I was reminded of this last weekend, when I went berry picking. I realized that it was around this time last year that I went berry picking, made a vegan version of my Oma's strawberry cake, and posted it as a new beginning and a more focused direction for myself. And here we are, a year later, and I am berry picking. Again.

I have been working on a really refreshing and yummy raspberry ice cream recipe, but I need remake it (darn....!) and take better notes along the way. The taste is delish, and reminds me of the ice cream shop down the road where I grew up. I would always order at least one ball of Himbeere ice cream (raspberry). I think it is delightfully refreshing, a tiny bit of tartness and lots of cool yummyness needed on these hot summer days. Hopefully I will have this up by the end of the weekend, I just need to get more raspberries!

Here are a few highlights of my berry picking adventure! I got a total of 2 lbs. strawberries and a whopping 4 lbs of raspberries! And what did that set me back? Six bucks....not bad...not bad at all. And what happened to all of those yummy berries? I made strawberry shortcakes but with cupcakes, made raspberry jam, raspberry ice cream, AND raspberry lemonade!

me finding a rather adorable strawberry

my whopping loot of raspberries totaling 4 pounds!

Rachel's tiniest, cutest l'il berry

delicious raspberry lemonade

playing with Wunder Kerzen (aka german spaklers)