Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Feel Like a Pro Immediately

Ever tried a recipe and it tastes so good that you can't believe you made it yourself?

Chicago Diner Cookbook: A Review and Loveletter

Dear Jo,

I received your cookbook with no pictures on loan from a girlfriend from Chicago. The only vegan cookbook I had used up until that point was Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I had no culinary training day free cooking class at Mother's in Newport Beach ten years earlier, but that hardly counts.

As a completely inexperienced chef, every single recipe I made turned out so well, I felt like someone had broken into my kitchen and planted new food in my oven: impossibly good food. I was outraged at how amazingly easy it was. Why didn't I start sooner?

I made heart shaped pot pies. I made polenta which I'd never seen even in a picture, which somehow turned out magically good as well. Your diner gravy is so good, I could drink it, but self restraint dictates it must go on mashed potatoes or my little pot pies.

Your vegan quiche is so convincing, I tricked many of my non-vegan neighbors into trying it. One neighbor didn't even realize I was vegan until she bumped into me at Whole Foods. I mentioned to an aproned, fundraising, mousy-brown haired girl selling "Save the Earth" cookies that if she really wants to save the earth, she should be vegan. My neighbor overheard my lecture to the non-vegan cookie salesperson and said, "But you're not vegan! You made me that quiche the other day!" Sorry Tauna; I tricked you good.

Ratatouille Provençal, a real crowd pleaser, knocks out guests with delight with a little over 15 minutes prep time. Strogonaff made from tempeh fills me with ecstasy, I ate Ex-Benedict every day for almost two weeks, and I made both Leslie's Mushroom Spread and the Artichoke Dip for vegetable dip for my recent wedding.

Not only did your cookbook open my eyes to the possibilities of expanding my world from baking to cooking, but I have since bought twelve more vegan cookbooks, all of which I use everyday. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday, but I use at least one or two a day.

My only beef is that the recipes are too huge! I'd been a single mom for eight years, and recipes yielded enough for me to open my own Chicago Diner in my tiny studio apartment in Los Angeles. Now I'm married and I feed three people, including myself, but it's still a little bit of an awkward amount of food.

Thanks for inspiring me to love cooking and facilitating the feeling of being an artist at least three times a day.

Orchid Cameron

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vegan Dino Meatloaf

• Half of a 14oz. package GimmeLean fake meat (the kind in a cylinder at Wholefoods)
• 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
• 5 pieces of bread crumbed (we save the ends of bread)
• 3 celery stalks finely chopped
• 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1/2 tsp. thyme
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. black pepper
• 3 tbsp applesauce
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tbsp all-purpose white flour (we use bob’s red mill gluten-free allpurpose)
• 1/3 cup ketchup (optional)

Mix all ingredients (except ketchup) together in a big bowl with your hands until they just come together.

Put in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Put the ketchup on top of the loaf. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

We like to put it into a dino loaf pan we found at bed bath and beyond (target also carries it at a slightly higher price.) Dinos are satisfying because you can growl before biting their heads off.

Another variation is to make into individual meatballs (omit the ketchup.) I like to put the meatballs in a muffin tray so they don’t roll off and bake easily, but my husband thinks a bake sheet is just fine.

And yet another variation is subbing veggie chorizo to make super spicy dinos that make you cry.

It really pays to slice up the onions very finely; big onion chunks change the texture in a strange way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Insane amount of Vegan Bran Muffins

This recipe makes too many vegan muffins. If you don't think you can eat thirty, I recommend you split it.

1/4 cup Flaxseed Meal (I keep the already ground Bob's Red Mill type in my fridge)
3/4 cup Water
2 cups Rice Milk (soy, almond, or hemp work fine)
1 cup Canola Oil
3/4 cup Agave
3/4 cup Black Strap Molasses
3 cups oat bran
1 cup oat flour
1 cup gluten-free all purpose
1 cup potato flour
1 cup brown rice flour
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons soy powder (optional)
4 cups raisins
2 cups chopped walnuts(optional)
1 cup vegan semi sweet chocolate chips (very optional)

1. Mix flaxseed oil and water in the blender for two minutes. You can put it in the fridge for one hour to let it get thicker like the fake egg it's pretending to be, but if you're in a hurry (which I usually am)you can just start mixing it into the wet ingredients straight out of the blender.
2. Mix the wet ingredients.
3. Whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Mix the wet and dry together. The dough will be thicker than you'd expect because I changed this recipe into gluten-free and it tends to seem crazy. It's basically "play dough" thick.
5. At this point, I split the dough into the two containers and mix in chocolate chips for my daughter and raisins and walnuts for my husband. You could just use all the dough and mix raisins with or without walnuts or chocolate chips. If you're a single person planning to eat all thirty, you may wish for variety- it's your call.
6. I stuff the dough in level with my hands into regular or mini muffins tins sprayed with oil. I usually put my husband's raisins and walnuts filled muffins into big-boy regular sized muffins and my daughter's chocolate chips into mini muffins.
7. Bake at 375 for 22-25 minutes.

This recipe was originally taken here where it is not gluten free. If you want the original recipe, you can just substitute all the flours with whole wheat pastry flour. I've made it this way and it's yummy, but this mixture I made including the potato flour make a very moist and yummy gluten free alternative. And I took out the honey and rewrote the recipe in fewer steps. Me and Cossette hope you like it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vegan Barbecue "Ribs"

My daughter and I are both vegan chefs in café Orchid Coco, AKA our small apartment in Westwood.

Vegan Barbecue "Ribs"
1 1/2 cup Vital Wheat Gluten (we like Bob's Red Mill brand from Wholefoods)
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast (supplement section at Wholefoods or other health store)
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
Generous amount of fresh cracked Black Pepper (I'd use about a half teaspoon)
1 cup of water (approximately)
3 1/2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter
1 cup Favorite Barbecue Sauce (we like Trader Joe's brand "All Natural Barbecue Sauce")

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Add about a cup of water and stir. The dough should be firm but completely mixed. Add more water if necessary, but really try to knead it in first. Knead it for about a minute and a half (I'm a very impatient person.) Stretch it out on a cutting board (it will resist you) as much as you can, to about a 7 inch in diameter, inch thick slab. Spread the peanut butter on top, and use about as much to make a thin coat (no need to measure.)Slice it into inch wide slices (makes about nine.) It's okay that the slices are different lengths. Place each slice peanut butter side up on a oiled parchment paper lined bake sheet. Bake at 400 for ten minutes. Take the sheet out and carefully pour a stripe of barbecue sauce on each "rib." Spread the barbecue sauce carefully with a silicone brush and attempt not to move the peanut butter. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake again for ten minutes. Remove the "ribs" with a spatula after they have cooled slightly as to not burn little fingers. Eat with your fingers to enable maximum enjoyment. Don't tell your British husband you ate with your fingers.