Friday, May 16, 2008

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I have been wanting to make the Tiramisu Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for weeks now. First I kept forgetting to buy Kahlua and then I would get busy and think I'd do it later. For some reason I was thinking these were going to be really complicated and take a long time to make. But no! They're just as fast as regular cupcakes, you probably take less than 5 minutes to cut out the centers and add the coffee/Kahlua mixture to the cake parts. So really, you have no more excuses for not making these. They're quite yummy.


I did think that the cream cheese frosting was way too sweet for me. When I make these again, I think I'll only add about half the powdered sugar. I might experiment with adding more of the faux cream cheese to see if I can get more of a less sweet, but still creamy sort of thing like real tiramisu has. I realize these are cupcakes and cupcakes have frosting, but I'm just weird like that.

I'm one of those that scrapes the frosting off of cupcakes so there's only a very thin layer left on top. Unless it's the cooked frosting recipe that's in VCTOTW with the red velvet cupcakes. That one is my favorite. It's so creamy and light and not too sweet. Perfect, but it doesn't really go with every flavor of cupcake.

Coming soon - a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes. :D

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Soup for All Seasons

Before I say anything else, I have to say that this might just be my favorite soup ever. Yes, ever. I think I liked it even more because I was slightly skeptical about it before I made it. Not that I thought it would be bad, Isa has never led me wrong so far. I just hadn't ever really had a soup that was like this. The closest thing was split pea or lentil soup, which aren't even close at all.

As the weather starts to warm and the markets are starting to fill up with fresh produce, a lot of us are looking for lighter meals than we did all winter. It's probably a good idea, especially if you ate as many cupcakes as comfort food as I probably did in the fall and winter. At this point you might be wondering if I'm having some sort of weird issue with writing this post. Okay... she's talking about soup. Now she's talking about summer and eating lighter... Okay, SaraJane, let's just sit down and look at some pretty cupcake pictures. That's a good girl.

But no! This soup is good no matter what season it is, I tell ya! Vegan with a Vengeance's White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup is fan-freaking-tastic. It's light enough to have by itself as a meal without feeling all thick like you might after eating a heavier stew (or the aforementioned split pea soup or the like). Why not make some and have a cup with a sandwich? I've been addicted to some grilled sandwiches with faux cheese slices, tomatoes, sprouts and avocado. Yum! (put the sprouts and avocado on last, but grill it with the tomatoes already inside, between two vegan cheese slices.)


Another great thing about this soup, that's even better for the busier days of spring and summer? It's fast and very, very easy. If you have an immersion blender, it's even easier and you have only one pot to wash. If you don't have an immersion blender, I highly recommend it. You can get one for around $30. They're fantastic for blending soups, making hummus, pesto, and smoothies without making a big mess like a food processor or blender might.

Also - if you still don't have Vegan with a Vengeance, go out and buy it. It's the best cookbook I've ever owned. Hands down.

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup (from Vegan with a Vengeance)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
a few dashes of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups great northern or navy beans, drained and rinsed
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
2 heads of garlic, roasted (yes, heads, not cloves)

To roast the garlic: Preheat your oven to 350. Get as much of the papery stuff off the garlic as you can. Set them on a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before you start getting the rest of the papery stuff off. It comes off easily, but even easier if it's not still really freaking hot.

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, saute the onion with the olive oil for about 5-7 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and fennel and cook for another minute or so. Add the broth, beans, sage and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and add the roasted garlic. Remove from heat and puree in batches in a food processor or blender, or if you're super awesome like me, use your immersion blender and have less dishes to wash. Add everything back to the pot if you did it the blender/processor way otherwise, it's still in the pot. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.

Serve garnished with fresh fennel leaves or grated carrots or parsley. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Things that are Awesome - Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are awesome and you should grow some. Seriously, if you've never tried this type of tomato, you are going to be sooo excited come July and August. These tend to be more expensive, but they're only in season for a very short period of time and it's well worth it. Plus, they're cool looking.

So, yeah, it's not time for Heirloom tomatoes to start showing up in the markets just yet. But - if you have a garden or a patio/balcony where you can put a pot and grow some tomatoes, this post is for you. Sadly, I have the opposite of a green thumb, whatever that is (a black thumb?) so I won't be killing any tomato plants this year. But you should! Seriously, do it.

You can get certified organic seeds from Sur La Table. Yeah, I know, it's a chain store, blah, blah, blah, but these seeds are not only organic, but they come from a family farm in California. It says so right here. These guys should be giving me commission on this! I just got excited when I saw this and wished that I could actually grow things. I'm sure someone out there might want to. :D