Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Best Blog Tips No recipes today! It is ironic that I spent the last week cooking and entertaining (mostly family) and cooking and entertaining some more, and I haven't had time to photograph or blog about it!

Suffice it to say that we ate too much and had a great time! I hope you did, too!

Tomorrow is the "last hurrah" before we go back to a more moderate eating regime, shall we say! My friend Jenny and her granddaughter, and one of my granddaughters, are coming to stay overnight, and we will have soynog (with rum for the grown-ups) and various goodies with some other friends. I WILL photograph and blog about that in the next few days!

For Christmas Eve we had vegan Tourtiere (Quebec "Meat Pie"), of course (DH is from Quebec). Dessert was my "Grown-Up Nanaimo Bars" (this recipe will be in a new book coming out late in 2010):

For Christmas Breakfast, we had fried potatoes with smoked paprika, vegan cornbread, and vegan or non-vegan scramble (it was a mixed group) with DELICIOUS Field Roast Chipotle sausage, which even the omnis in our midst were crazy about! (It's like chorizo!)

For Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), which was our big meal, we had my homemade Seitan Ham:

with mashed potatoes and "Ham Gravy"; Brussels Sprout Slaw with Mustard Dressing and Maple-Candied Nuts; roasted sweet potato fries with smoked paprika; Tofu Pot Pie and Sage and Onion Stuffing (half wheat bread and half cornbread).

For dessert there was Panettone (Italian Sweet Bread), which my oldest daughter Bethany made; Butter Tarts and some chocolately bar cookies (which went superfast) that my middle daughter Sarah made, and vegan Trifle (this recipe will be in a new book coming out late in 2010) that I made using Soyatoo! Soy Whip/Topping Cream :

I think there was more, but I can't even remember!

We've been eating leftovers since then! We also had a big meal on Sunday with my sister Karin and her DH and daughter and a friend, and my son Tim and family, and my stepson Laurie and his girlfriend Meghan. It was a mix of leftover pot pie, stuffing and gravy, seitan "roast pork" with barbecue sauce, lots of salad and more roasted sweet potatoes and steamed potatoes topped with sauteed mushrooms and Daiya vegan cheese, more Trifle, chocolate, and melons. There were more people than I expected, so I had to make up a few dishes on the spot!

I'll check in after New Year's with some new recipes and photos. Have a great (and safe) New Year celebration (there's a Blue Moon that night-- did you know?)!!

Happy, happy!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Best Blog Tips
Moist, delicious Rustic Apple-Almond Cake
 This is going to be a very short blog post. I just returned from Seattle last night, worked at the library today, and I'm still playing catch-up with Christmas preparations, shopping, housework, invitations, and practical matters like making soymilk and writing blogs!

In a day or two I'll blog about my trip, etc... Today I'm just going to share a recipe for a delicious cake that goes well with coffee or tea and utilizes the zillions of apples that were harvested around here this year! If you have some unexpected guests, you can whip this up quickly and serve it hot, or you can have it ready and waiting and serve it cold or at room temperature-- it's yummy either way.

Don't be fooled by the simple ingredients-- you won't be able to have just one piece!

Printable Recipe

makes 1/ 9x13" cake
PS:  Here's a fancier version of this cake: Apple Pecan Crumb Cake with Gianduia (Chocolate/Hazelnut) Drizzle

1 and 3/4 cups wholewheat pastry flour PLUS 1/4 c. oat bran
       OR use 2 cups wholewheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 cups chopped apples (I don't peel them if they are organic)

1/3 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbs. oil
1 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar
7/8 cup nondairy milk (that's 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" cake pan.

Whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the apples. In a blender, blend the Wet Mix ingredients until smooth. Mix the Wet Mix into Dry Mix, stirring as briefly as possible. Spread into prepared pan. Mix the Topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the Topping evenly over the cake. Bake 35 minutes. Test for doneness. Cool on a rack and serve right out of the pan, cut into squares.

Enjoy, and I'll blog again soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Best Blog Tips
Some of our vegan "Thanksmas" feast

I'm getting ready to head off to Vancouver for the weekend, and then down on the train to Seattle for a few days. So, I won't be blogging for a week, and I'll leave you with a mish-mosh of events, pictures, and food!

First of all, our vegan "Dinner Club", I guess you could call it (which consists of 5 vegan couples of a certain age, who get together randomly a few times a year to share good vegan food and conversation, and music, etc.) got together at the end of November for what our hostess, Ellen, called our vegan "Thanksmas" feast. Here are some images from that lovely dinner! Ellen is Scandinavian, so their home was warmly decorated and very Christmasy, and she went all out with vegan versions of family Christmas treats!

Christmas candles

Fireweed's delicious seitan rolls (in the 40's and 50's, these would have been called Seitan "Birds"!)

Rudy's mashed potatoes and a bowl of lovely Denman Island squash

Pelka and Robs's delicious Brussels Sprout Salad with walnuts, beside the squash bowl

Another delicious winter salad from Pelka and Rob, this one made with red cabbage and pecans

My contributions-- Tofu Pot Pie ( from my book Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause) and Sage and Onion Bread Stuffing (I also brought homemade Cranberry sauce-- both recipes from my book The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook).

An overloaded dinner plate!

Ellen's berry dessert topped with soy "ice cream" and a vegan truffle!

Vegan Scandinavian treats and truffles made by our lovely hostess!

Boy, were we full! (Or "full-top" as DH claims they say in Quebec!)


We had some friends over last week and I served my Italian-American-style lasagna, but, instead of using my usual vegan bechamel sauce, I used my newly-purchased shredded white vegan Daiya cheese, which I bought from the Karmavore Vegan Shop in New Westminister, BC (by mail).

Everyone raved over it and I liked it, too, but I think I used too much! It was so rich that I think I will use half bechamel and half Daiya next time. Our omni guests couldn't get over it!

With the meal, we had wine, a lovely salad brought by 2 of our guests (avid gardeners), some braised butternut squash with basil, garlic and olive oil, baguettes, and then an Italian-style Apple Tart from my book Nonna's Italian Kitchen:

An Sweet Topping Innovation:
I made some almond milk to accompany our tea and coffee-- actually it was more like almond cream. I also needed a topping for the tart, so I left the almond pulp in half of the creme and strained the other half. I squeezed the pulp I had left from straining to get all the almond creme out, and then I added the pulp back to the other half of the recipe. (I had sweetened the creme slightly with maple syrup before straining.) The result was a thick, cloud-like, very almondy-tasting topping that everyone loved, and some nice smooth, pourable creme for our hot beverages.


This took place last weekend. We didn't stay too long-- too crowded! That means it was well-attended, of course, and why not? It's always full of friends, food and wonderful arts and crafts. Our friend Leticia won the prize for the "Best Display" and we happened to be there when she was presented with it. She and her friend Tosha make wonderful handmade olive oil soaps-- chocolate, lemongrass and lavender, chai tea...they smell so good!

Leticia and her handmade olive oil soaps



Vegan chef Tal Ronnen uses these "Chik'n Filets" in his new book, so I thought I'd give them a try. I made a sort of scaloppine with white wine and mushrooms-- very quick and easy.

They were good, meaty texture, etc., but I think I like my own seitan cutlets better!



Well, I did bring my camera, but forgot to ask my friend Holly, who was being my kitchen slave for the evening, to use it! But I had lots of dough to bake off at home the next day, so below are pictures of what I made in the class. (Everything I made in the class got eaten or taken home by the students, along with the recipes, of course!

Crusty No-Knead Artisinal Bread (recipe in my book World Vegan Feast)

Another loaf of Crusty No-Knead Bread with the Apulian Focaccia (both recipes in my book World Vegan Feast)

A loaf of vegan Julekage (Scandinavian Christmas bread with cardamom and fruit) made with my Vegan Low-fat Sweet Dough (recipe in my book World Vegan Feast)

Last, but not least, my 100% Wholewheat Bread

Enjoy! See you next week!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Best Blog Tips
"Marshie Fluff"

I know it's been a long time coming, and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. I'm full of excuses! Other projects, being on Weight Watchers, etc, etc.... I was working with my good friend and fellow cook/author/blogger Julie Hasson on some experiments with a new product called Versawhip 600K™ and it seemed to have alot of potential. We were even planning an e-book! However, Versawhip 600K™ proved to be a bit more problematic than we expected.

Versawhip 600K™ is a "pure enzymatically treated soy protein which can be hydrated with water and whipped to make a foam. Can replace egg-albumin or gelatin...", to quote one online vendor. And several vegan chefs have done their homework and discovered that Versawhip 600K™ IS, indeed, vegan and also kosher (some of the other Versawhip™ products are not). It is used mostly in Molecular Gastronomy and is a hydrocolloid. It definitely has potential for vegans, but you need alot of time and patience to work with it!

Here's from a past blog post updating my work with Julie on a vegan whipped topping using Versawhip 600K™: "We are working separately (we live in different countries!) and tossing ideas around by phone and email. My first batch was pretty good, and certainly looked good, but was lacking in several departments. I haven't had as much time as I would like to to work on this, and other ideas I have for using this product, so my progress has been slow. Today (rather guiltily) I spent most of the day on it (this included research on food science) and had to throw out two experiments. That is the nature of recipe development, and this product is particularly tricky-- there is a steep learning curve! Recipe development begins in your head, and ends in the kitchen, but in between, you crack open the books, you do online research-- it takes time. This is particularly true in alot of vegan cooking because you need to know what you are aiming for, and then how to achieve that with products that act differently from the ones you used as an omni! If you are a perfectionist, it may take even longer!"

In addition, this product is not cheap and I have to get it from the States, so far.  (But, since it's used in very small quantities, it's only if you are making failed experiments one after another and throwing them out that it gets really pricey!!)

Long story short, we both came out with two Versawhip 600K™ recipes-- yes, two each! And then we had to get on with other things! Maybe someday I'll fool around with it some more, but, for now....

Julie developed a great Homemade Vegan Marshmallow recipe and a wonderful Vegan Meringue Topping for pies, etc., which you can access by becoming a subscriber to her blog. (Lots of other good stuff there, too!)

I developed what I call Marshie Fluff (down-under-speak for vegan Marshmallow Creme) and a vegan "whipped creme" (Versawhipped Creme, I call it). Julie was going to film them for her website "cooking show", but she has been extremely busy with a new book, and running a new fabulous vegan food cart called Native Bowl in Portland (gourmet food cart capitol of the West!). (I'm proud to say that Julie uses my "Crack Gravy" in one of her bowls!) So, no time for much filming!

Little chocolate cakes with Marshie Fluff filling

We talked yesterday and decided I would just post my recipes, one at a time. They are still sort of "in progress", but definitely usable-- I just like to get things perfect!

S'More Brownies with Marshie Fluff Topping

Printable Recipe

Servings: 8
Yield: 2 cups

This keeps pretty well in a closed jar in the fridge for a few days. It will deflate a bit after that, but can be whipped up again in a few seconds with an electric mixer. I’ve used it as a filling in little chocolate cakes and in S’Mores and as a topping on my lowfat S’More Brownies (photo above), but I did not broil it. I have to play around with it more to see if it can be browned— perhaps with a torch.

IMPORTANT NOTE— Fresh or canned coconut milk [even the "lite" type] does not work with this mixture. Versawhip 600K™ does not seem to do well with fat, and coconut milk is quite high in fat. (Update: I don't know if the So Delicious® Coconut Milk Beverage works-- it's pretty low in fat. I'll have to try it soon.) Tofu also makes it refuse to whip up—even as little as 3 tablespoons!

Best price  for BULK Versawhip 600K™. (There is a 620K version there, too, but I don't know if it's vegan.) It's about $25 a lb. at this online vendor and that will make quite a lot of marshmallow creme (you only need 4 teaspoons for a batch!).


Mixture A:
1 tablespoons soymilk or other nondairy milk (NOT coconut milk -- see note above!)
1/8 teaspoon agar powder

Mixture B:
3 tablespoons soymilk or other nondairy milk (NOT coconut milk-- see note above!)
3/4 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons light granulated organic sugar

Mixture C: (have this measured out ahead of time)

1 teaspoon Versawhip 600K™
1 pinch table salt

Final Additions:
1 cup organic powdered sugar (icing sugar; confectioner's sugar)
1 tablespoon Versawhip 600K™
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mixture A:
Mix the 1 tablespoon soymilk and the agar together in a small ramekin or cup. Mix with a tiny whisk. Let stand while you proceed.

Mixture B:
Place Mixture B ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whip attachment that touches the bottom of the bowl, or in a bowl that you can use with an electric hand-held mixer (NOT an immersion/stick blender).

Combining A, B and C:

Whisk Mixture A again and then microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds.

WORKING QUICKLY, scoop the agar mixture into Mixture B in the mixer bowl, using a small spatula to get all of it out of the cup. Dump in Mixture C (the Versawhip and salt) and immediately start beating at medium speed for a few seconds. Stop and quickly scrape the sides of the bowl so that all of the Versawhip gets incorporated. Turn the machine on again and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

The creme will increase in volume by about 5 times, and should be white and fluffy.

Final Additions:

To the fluffy white mixture (with the machine stopped, add the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon Versawhip, and the xanthan gum. Beat for another 2 minutes or so, or until the mixture is thick and gooey.

Scoop into a container, cover and refrigerate.

Nutrition (per 1/4 cup serving): 21.0 calories; 4% calories from fat; 0.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 52.9mg sodium; 13.4mg potassium; 3.3g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 3.0g sugar; 3.1g net carbs; 1.1g protein; 0.4 points.