09 February, 2010

Those Other Things I Was Talking About


I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about vegetables and not a lot else so I’m devoting a little bit of space to something else that I’ve recently discovered I enjoy: painting! Mr. Crow decided one night that Mr. Mc., he, and I should all gather and make paintings. Feeling really positive about my piece and getting a warm response from all my artist friends I decided that this is something I’m going to pursue. Mr. Crow and I went to the preferred art store here in Columbus, Utrecht, and took advantage of their super savings sale thingey. Here’s a photo of what we bought and above is a photo of the painting I made. To be sure, more will follow.DSCN0953

Asian-Themed Potluck (and, also, I’m A Liar)

But I had the best intentions. I meant to take a ton of pictures, I really did but in the hustle and the bustle of everyone arriving and running out of soy sauce at the last minute, it really just slipped my mind.  So, instead of my pictures (which are amateur at best) I’m going to post the links to the recipes I used and you can ogle their pictures instead. Someday, I swear, I’ll get the hang of remembering to take pictures. Regardless, on with the show!

You really wish you had been there. Trust me. I had the GREATEST meal I’ve had in a very long time with some of the greatest folks I know. We spent Super Bowl Sunday eating foods from Eastern Asia and playing DDR. Yes we did. The cast included some old favorites The M.s and The Mc.s. The C.s were missing because of a Super Bowl engagement but we managed as best we could. Some new characters Showed up as well: my brother managed to make it as well as Miss B and Mr. Sp.

Not that this matters at all, but I’m going to use their names again in a moment and say what they made so I figures it was fine to establish a cast at the outset. Also, I feel I should mention that the use of the first initial only seemed to me a neat contrivance to protect the identity of “mes amis” from the prying eyes of creepy government types but, then I realized that the blog is connected to my email address, which is my last name, and therefore destroys any semblance of privacy. DAMN YOU BIG BROTHER!!!

Perhaps all that fruit went to my head.

My offering for the evening included a soup, starter, and dessert. I took this recipe for hot and sour soup and made it vegetarian by substituting seitan for the barbequed pork. I say “vegetarian” because I did use an egg from my friend Mrs. K’s mother’s chickens and I don’t feel bad about it at all. Next was this gyoza recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. I made them the night before and, although a bit soft the next day, turn out great! I added carrot shreds and bamboo shoots (I had some left from the soup) while also halving the smoked paprika and making up the difference with 5 Spice powder. The group of us finished all 45 on top of everything else that was brought. Amazing. For dessert I made Thai coconut mango rice. I dearly love this dessert and I’m so very glad it came out alright. The recipe called for Thai sweet rice and all I had was sushi rice. I decided to wing it and added a little extra sugar to the coconut sauce. It came out great and, unbelievably, was eaten all up too.

So with that out of the way, I get to move on with the really exciting thing about the potluck: what everyone else made!

-The M.s brought Inari. I love Inari. Not only that but Mr. M. has spent a great deal of time perfecting his sushi rice and it is a true delight.

-Mr. Sp. brought the greatest green beans I’ve ever had. Apparently, he blanched them and then cooked them in garlic oil. He also brought some carrots but I missed out on those.

-Miss B. brought some incredible peanut noodles with red peppers and snap peas.

- My brother brought vegan General Tso’s Chicken and sesame noodles from Whole Foods.

-The Mc.s, though. Oh those Mc.s. They brought something I’ve never had before in my life but, if I was made to eat it every day I wouldn’t complain. Are you ready? Yeah? Okay. They made fruit sushi. Fruit sushi! Okay, it was a maki style roll and now let me try to remember what all was in them. There was mango, pear,a little cream cheese, and pecans I think. I want more and I want it right now.

After eating all that my belly felt HUGE but I didn’t mind.

As a side note, I feel I should share this link for mushroom “bacon”. It’s really quite good. I made some mashed cauliflower with taco seasoning and I sprinkled these on top. Yum!

04 February, 2010

The “Final Solution” Cake From Heeb Magazine (AKA: Happy Birthday Mr. Mc.)

So, my omnivorous friend Mr. Mc. was getting just a tad older this year and I offered to make him a cake to celebrate his continued existence. I keep calling this “German Chocolate” because if its appearance in “The Germany Issue” of Heeb but it’s really a Black Forest cake which is still in Germany so it makes no difference to me. . . . Anyway, I’d made this cake once before in its original form (eggs, butter, etc.) and it turned out lovely. . . lovely but ugly. The recipe in its original form was woefully incomplete. It lacks a pan size specification and some of the more delicate particulars that would produce a more attractive cake. For instance, the recipe neglects to tell you to divide the mousse and only add cherries to half. Oops. So V 1.0 was a little lumpy looking but nevertheless delicious.

Veganizing this cake was a HUGE undertaking. However, in typical fashion, when my ego says that something will be too hard or too much work I must pull it off. The most daunting task was to create a vegan mousse that wasn’t just am extra rich pudding. I had to devise a way to keep the richness but add that airy, fluffy texture that “real” mousse has. I asked some folks on Facebook what to do and they recommended an avocado mousse so I gave that a try. While this was staggeringly rich is wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be texturally. Next stop was the land of tofu mousse. I began with the basic recipe and, with a little tweaking, came up with a workable solution. JOY!

So, what follows is, perhaps, my magnum opus (to date) I hope you enjoy it!

And, join us next time, won’t you? There will be photos and links galore when it’s Vegetarian Potluck Night at the Crow household. (cue music)

Final Solution Chocolate Cake


Cake layers
2 ounces Fine semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup Coffee, hot

2 cups Sugar

1 3/4 cup All-purpose flour

1 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)

1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/2 tsp. Baking powder

3/4 tsp. Salt

2T Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4T warm water (package directions for 2 eggs)

1/2 cup Vegetable oil

1T of ACV plus enough almond milk to make a full cup

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Chocolate glaze
8 ounces Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

6 ounces vegan margarine

1 tbsp. Light corn syrup

Tart cherry chocolate mousse
1 14 1/2-ounce Can of pitted tart cherries

1T cornstarch

1T sugar

1 package soft (silken) tofu at room temperature

1/2c cocoa powder

4oz melted semisweet chocolate chips

6T sugar

1/4 cup of Ener-G egg replacer

Sugar shards
1 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 cup Water


1. Preheat oven to 300°F and grease 2 9” round pans. Line bottoms with rounds of greased parchment paper. (Alton Brown’s method for cutting out the circles is the best ever! I can’t seem to find a video but maybe you can. . .Or maybe I’ll show you someday.)

2. Combine chocolate and coffee in a bowl. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, to melt chocolate.

3. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, blend the “eggs”, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven for one hour.

4. Place pans on wire racks to cool.

5. To make filling, drain cherries, reserving the liquid, and slice them in half.

6. Place 1/3 cup of reserved liquid and 1 tbsp. of cornstarch into a small saucepan and whisk until dissolved. Add 1 tbsp. sugar and bring to boil over medium heat, whisking until the liquid thickens. Fold in cherries and Kirsch. Refrigerate.

7. In a metal mixing bowl, combine tofu, cocoa powder and sugar and beat until smooth. While that’s working carefully melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. Once the tofu looks really smooth, drizzle in the melted chips. Once that is well combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, gradually add the egg replacer. Then, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the mixture looks fluffy. Divide the mousse in half and fold the cherries into one half. Put both bowls of mousse into the refrigerator.

** I feel as though I should note here that these cakes, even when completely cooled are VERY delicate and moist. I could not cut mine in half and just put the cherry mousse between the two cakes and whatever I couldn’t cram in between went on top where I was sure I could make it look smooth. You can go with this method or you can try what I suspect might work and pop the cakes in the freezer for about 45 minutes to get firm and then attempt to slice them. Either way you choose, be careful.

8. Cut each cake layer in half and spread cherry mousse between cake layers. Cover the sides and top of the cake with chocolate mousse. Refrigerate. (overnight is best, trust me.)

9. To make glaze, place chocolate, margarine, corn syrup and 5 tsp. of water in a small bowl. Melt over a water bath on low heat, stirring until almost melted. Finish melting off the heat, stirring once or twice.

10. To make the garnish, cover a baking sheet in foil and spray with vegetable oil. Place the sugar and water in a skillet over medium heat. Make sure all the sugar is moistened.

11. Cook slowly without stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and keep boiling, watching the mixture until it reaches 356–370°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat immediately and pour onto the foil-lined baking sheet. Spread by tilting the pan. Allow it to harden, then carefully, break into dangerous looking pieces.

12. To glaze the cake, use a metal icing spatula. Spread the glaze over the top so that it runs down the sides. (I don’t have one of these here fancy majiggers so I just carefully used a spoon and hoped for the best)

13. Before the ganache solidifies completely, press the sugar shards into the top of the cake. (check out the link to Heed for decorating ideas.)

Warning: The sugar will be as sharp as glass, so be careful when handling. Also, remove before consuming.