Friday, April 30, 2010


Best Blog Tips
The Dovetail Bakery front door

When Julie told me that Portland had 3-- count 'em- 3 vegan bakeries, I nearly fell over! I'm jealous, but it's probably for the best! The most well-known bakery is Sweetpea Baking Co., which we didn't get a chance to visit, due to time constraints and logistics. But you can see their stuff on their website/blog. (There is also a talented vegan baker named Lisa Clark who Fran and I met at the Portland Saturday Farmers Market-- more about that in another post. She runs the Petunia's Pies and Pastries stall. Check out her website for mouth-watering photos!)

But we did visit two of the bakeries on Thursday afternoon, and showed remarkable restraint by only sampling a few things! First, we went to the Dovetail Bakery on NE Alberta St..

It's a very welcoming and kind of peaceful place:

We chatted with the friendly owner and checked out the bake case, loaded with tempting sweet and savory breads, yummy-looking muffins and cupcakes, sweet loaves and buns:

In the end we tried an apple-filled cinnamon roll and a Meyer lemon cupcake:

Very nice texture and flavor-- the cupcake wasn't overly-sweet or gobbed with icing, and the roll wasn't overly-gooey. I'd go back!


Next we headed over to the Back to Eden Bakery Boutique, also on NE Alberta St.

This shop also had a wonderful atmosphere (as well as good smells!)-- a little more formal than the Dovetail, but homey as well:

They sell other things besides goodies!

But the goodies are what we came for! What to choose??

The Marionberry Coconut Cake?

Scones or muffins?

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies or little tarts?

Cookies or bars?

A savory quiche or empanada?

In the end we chose a piece of the Berry Cheesecake to share:

Oh, my!!

What a place Portland is to be able to support so many vegan bakeries!! I am really impressed with that fact AND the quality. More tomorrow!


Thursday, April 29, 2010


Best Blog Tips
NATIVE BOWL, Julie and Jay Hasson's wonderful vegan food cart at Mississippi Marketplace

It's been too long since I blogged! I've been in Portland, OR for 5 days, with 2 more days on either end for traveling to and from Vancouver. I took the Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver-- what a nice ride! I got back on Monday, worked at the library on Tuesday, and intended to blog yesterday. I got all the the photos uploaded and resized, etc., and then our internet access disappeared yesterday afternoon about 3:00! It turns out that an underwater cable was sliced and many of us on or near Vancouver island were without internet access for about 24 hours (it came back on just a little while ago).

I did have a productive day doing chores, doing my weights, making a new bread (more about that in a later post!) and soup, and cake for yet another granddaughter's birthday, etc. The computer does take up alot of my time!

I have so many things to report on and lots of pictures, so I'm going to try to blog some of it every day this week!

Anyway, back to Portland! I had several reasons for visiting there-- to work with the Field Roast folks at their booth in the Culinary Expo at the IACP conference ("Portland and the new Culinary order"); to visit friends like Julie Hasson, who was my hostess, and seeing Fran Costigan, my friend the vegan Dessert Diva from New York, who was attending the conference.

Julie and Fran, two beautiful Vegan Dessert Divas!

I also wanted to meet Kittee, an internet foodie friend (creator and producer of the Papa Tofu zine) whom I'd never met in person and who had recently moved to Portland. As well, I wanted to see my friends Yongkie and Pokie. Kittee, Yongkie and Pokie are also friends of Julie's, and we all kind of met via my old subscription newsletter, The Vegan Feast. Julie had met another "Vegan Feaster", D., by accident. D., who is a fabulous cook and writes this blog, had attended a 5-day cooking class here on Denman Island and we all became friends. Her friends, Yongkie and Pokie, moved to Portland. D. told Julie that they were making fresh tempeh and could make it for her, so they met, too! Whew!

Kittee and Julie after a great meal at Blossoming Lotus

Pokie and Yongkie at Pittock Mansion, with the Portland panorama in the background.

Julie picked me up from the train Wednesday afternoon, we dashed to her house to drop off my luggage and change into something suitable for the IACP opening reception, which features some of Portland's best chefs, restaurants, breweries, and Oregon wineries. (We could have got totally blasted on all the samples of booze, but I'm just not much of a drinker! DH was jealous about missing all the micro-brewery samples!)

Unfortunately for hungry vegans, this was not a very vegan-friendly event (lots of people remarked that this was strange, considering that Portland is so vegan friendly!). In fact, we found few vegan items we could eat-- some bruschetta with a green pea spread topped by asparagus was the only plainly vegan item there. We managed to ask for a few things to be served vegan-- some bean quesadillas without the cheese; crostini with onion jam and arugula, minus the meat; and some pumpernickel with beets, also minus the meat. I tell, you, we were ready to steal one of the decorative red bell peppers to munch on!

(There will be more discussion in subsequent blog posts about the lack of vegan presence at the whole event.)

The next day, Thursday, I accompanied Jay and Julie to their food cart, Native Bowl, at the Mississippi Marketplace at N Mississippi at Skidmore. (If you don't already know about the Portland Food Cart phenomenon, check out this blog.)

The covered area filling up with lunchtime customers

A lovely old mansion across the street

Colorful buildings right across from the food cart area-- the yellow building is a Thai restaurant

Native Bowl serves several rice bowls-- layers of fresh, fragrant jasmine rice topped with grilled tofu or Soy Curls™, crunchy vegetables, killer sauces and a topping of sesame seeds, or crushed pita chips, or other crunchy stuff. Yum!

Native Bowl Menu

Julie also makes a number of her famous vegan dessert goodies!

The Native Bowl dessert menu

Jay stocking up

I had lunch at Native Bowl, of course! I had the Broadway Bowl: Grilled Tofu, house-made peanut ginger sauce, fluffy jasmine rice, shredded red cabbage, carrots, scallions & cilantro. De-licious!

The Broadway Bowl

The new lemony Hollywood Bowl topped with pita chips

Julie at the window

Jay at the window

Here are the other vegan carts at this spot (3 out of 10 are vegan and most have vegan options):

The Ruby Dragon:

Here's their menu. Here's their mission statement.

The wonderful Sushi Tree Vegetarian Sushi cart (I couldn't resist having some, even though I was full!):

Delicious Mock California Roll (made with Soy Curls™) and Smoky Tofu Roll. The lovely young owner very kindly made these especially for me.

Here's a review and their menu. Another review.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment! (And I promise some recipes soon, too!)


Monday, April 19, 2010


Best Blog Tips

Here is my latest low-fat version of what my family calls "Mudpie Cake" (not to be confused with "Mississippi Mud Pie Cake", "Mississippi Mud Cake" or even "Dirt Cake"!), a WWII-era cake (also called Wacky Cake, Cockeyed Cake, "Hole-In-The-Middle” Cake, or Crazy Cake) that continues to be popular today, especially with vegans, since you need no dairy or eggs to make it!

It is commonly believed that Wacky Cake may have been created as the result of rationing during World War II. Here's a quote from "Wacky cake is an interesting study in culinary chemistry. What sets modern Wacky Cake apart from other chocolate cakes? Vinegar and method. WWI-era Dump Cakes likely provided inspiration. They do not, however, include vinegar. Depression-era Crazy cakes feature cocoa, baking soda & baking powder. No vinegar. In sum, recipes with these names vary greatly according to place and period. The connecting culinary threads are innovation, efficiency, and deliciousness."
"Wacky cake is but one example of the tradition of 'make do' cakes that were popular during times of short supply. Contrary to popular opinion, eggless, milkless cakes were not invented at that time, they were revived from WWI days (which were revived from pioneer days). Dump Cake is another descendant of Wacky Cake in method.
'Dump cake. A cake made by "dumping" the ingredients directly into the baking pan, mixing them, and baking the batter.'
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 117)"

Dump Cake contained eggs, but the wartime cakes did not, since they were rationed in those times. Water or leftover coffee were used instead of milk, as well, making this dark, tender cake perfect for vegans!

The WWII version was called "Wacky", Cockeyed", "Hole-In-The-Middle”, or "Crazy" Cake because of the method: the dry ingredients were dumped into the baking pan and a depression was made in the middle, into which the wet ingredients were poured, and then the whole thing quickly mixed and baked.

The only reference to "Mudpie" or "Mud Pie" cake I could find was to a recipe for the cake designed for children, in which the dry ingredients are shaken in a plastic bag, dumped into the pan and then mixed with the wet ingredients. I've never done that, but we've always called it "Mudpie Cake".

I don't mix the ingredients in a baking pan anymore because I use less oil in the batter now than I used to, and that might cause it to stick to the pan. But it's still easy to make and you only have one bowl to rinse out!

My kids loved making this cake and, especially, eating it! I have been refining my lower-fat version of this cake over the years, and also trying to use more wholegrain flour. This version contains almost half wholewheat pastry flour and substitutes applesauce for some of the oil. It is still easy, chocolate-y, and tender, so we often use it as a layer cake, a sheet cake (this recipe will make either one-- halve it for an 8x8" square snack cake), or for cupcakes (this recipe makes 24). I do have other chocolate cake recipes that I like, but DH likes this one the best!

You can use any frosting you like on this cake, but I made it with this one for DH's granddaughter's birthday. It contains a favorite combination of ingredients.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 18
Yield: One 9 x 13" sheet cake OR 24 cupcakes
**Measure the flour after aerating it in the bag with a spoon, then sift it.

1 1/2 cups white cake or pastry flour, sifted after measuring
1 cup wholewheat pastry flour
(It is important to use pastry flour [or cake and pastry flour], since the amount of fat in the recipe is reduced. IF YOU HAVE NO PASTRY FLOUR, use 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and add unbleached flour to make 1 1/2 cups.)
2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cups organic, fair trade unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water (cold coffee can be used instead, if you like)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup smooth applesauce
(OR, you can make a lower fat cake by using 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil instead.)
2 tablespoons cider or malt vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan "butter" (try my palm oil-free Vegan Buttah!)
3/4 lb organic powdered sugar
5 1/2 teaspoons nondairy milk
3/4 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
1/2 tablespoon coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)-- or you can use Amaretto or rum or brandy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
OR, if you do not use the liquor, use 2 teaspoons vanilla plus 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes (the larger kind)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil, or spray with oil, a 9 x 13" cake pan; or 2/ 8" square pans; or 2/ 9-10" round cake pans; or 12 muffin cups (You can also use silicone muffin cup liners). You might like to line the bottom of your pan(s) with baking parchment, cut to fit.

Whisk the dry ingredients together well in a medium bowl. Blend the liquid ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix BRIEFLY with a whisk (important) until smooth-- do NOT beat the batter. The batter will be quite runny.

Scrape into prepared pan(s). (If you use paper cupcake liners, spray them with cooking spray, or use silicone liners.)

Bake for the 9 X13" pan for 45 minutes; smaller pans for 25 minutes; cupcakes for about 20 minutes; or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a rack thoroughly before eating (this improves flavor-- I don't think this cake is at its best when still warm). Frost the cooled cake and serve right from the pan if you like, or gently loosen and invert on a plate after cooling it off for about 20 minutes, then ice after it cools.

To make the Frosting:
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the Earth Balance until smooth. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and the remaining ingredients. Beat until creamy. It may look curdled- don't worry!

Add the remaining sugar, a little at a time, as you beat it, until it holds it shape well and you can see "trails" in it from the beaters. Adjust sugar or liquid (TINY drops at a time!) as needed. It will firm up when refrigerated.

Stir in the nuts and coconut until well distributed. Refrigerate (covered) until it's time to frost the cake.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 399.2 calories; 37% calories from fat; 17.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 258.7mg sodium; 220.2mg potassium; 60.6g carbohydrates; 3.0g fiber; 43.1g sugar; 57.5g net carbs; 3.2g protein; 8.8 points.

Nutrition (per serving): 220.6 calories; 26% calories from fat; 6.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 203.5mg sodium; 176.9mg potassium; 39.8g carbohydrates; 2.1g fiber; 23.7g sugar; 37.7g net carbs; 2.5g protein; 4.6 points.
Nutrition (per cupcake): 165.5 calories; 26% calories from fat; 5.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 152.6mg sodium; 132.7mg potassium; 29.9g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 17.8g sugar; 28.3g net carbs; 1.9g protein; 3.4 points.
Nutrition (per cupcake): 299.4 calories; 37% calories from fat; 13.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 194.0mg sodium; 165.2mg potassium; 45.4g carbohydrates; 2.3g fiber; 32.4g sugar; 43.2g net carbs; 2.4g protein; 6.6 points.