Monday, June 30, 2008

Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwiches

I suck. I know it. I'm trying to get better. I think about blogging every single day, it's just finding the time or energy to actually do it... I do have lots of pictures, though, so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things.

Stupid weather again. It was so cold here for so long. I felt tortured! It seems like every single other person I know was saying that it's one of the hottest summers in years and Vancouver still had the heat on... in June. I know... it's ridiculous. Now it's hot as all get out. Most of us are doing our best to spend a ton of time outside to enjoy the warmth. And living in a city where most apartments don't have air conditioning... not exactly making you want to turn on the oven. I did make some cupcakes last night and even though I waited until later to make them, it still made my already hot apartment into something just short of hellfire. Looks like it's salads and quick meals for me for a while.

I'm trying to throw together some ideas for vegan picnic foods. Any ideas? The idea is to have stuff that omnis will like as well, so nothing with too much nooch. I'd also like to steer clear of things that need forks and spoons just to make the eating easier and so I don't have to realize we can't eat because I've forgotten utensils. That would be very like me to do.


One thing that would be great is the Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwich from Veganomicon. I've made these to take to work a few times and let me just say - yum! The recipe says to let the sandwiches sit overnight, but don't do that. You'll end up with soggy bread and then you'll be all grossed out and not want to eat it. The second time I made these I made all of the stuff for the sandwich the night before and just stuck it in the fridge. Then I made the sandwiches in the morning before I left for work. I think it was around 6 hours or so for the flavors to meld together. That was a perfect amount of time. Nothing was soggy and everything was delicious.

Also, that'll make a ton of tapenade so you have some left for dipping crackers or veggies in. I think it would also be a great appetizer type thing for a party. Well, for people that like olives, that is. And for the people that don't... well, more for me. :)

I used garlic stuff olives when I made it instead of buying green olives and pickled garlic. It was easier and faster and I discovered that not only do garlic stuffed olives give you very bad breath, they're quite yummy. I suggest you convince your signifigant other to like them too or else you're going to need to stock up on some mints.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

I know I promised these a good while ago. I've been really distracted by the weather lately. First it was so beautiful it was a crime not to be outside at all times and then as fickle as the weather can be, it changed to yucky. It's been raining for a solid week. Not the normal little spits of rain we usually get in Vancouver, but yucky, hard rain. All day, every day, with not even a tiny break of just sorta cloudy. Well, until yesterday evening. The sun came out, but it was still cold. Dang it. And it's grey and cold again this morning. Sounds like a good weekend to make a pot of soup and hibernate. That's what I plan to do at least.


If it's sunny where you are, or even if you're trying to pretend it is like I am, take advantage of some fresh strawberries and make these cupcakes. You won't be sorry. The actual cupcake isn't as light and fluffy as some. And that's not a bad thing! It's more like something you want to put strawberries and whipped cream on. :) I have a few ideas for ways to jazz these up a bit more, but didn't think of them until after I made them. You could spread a thin layer of strawberry jam on the cupcakes before you frost them. You could even pipe some jam or pureed strawberries into the center of the cupcakes like a filling. Yum. You could also add a bit of lemon or orange zest to the batter. That would really accentuate the sweetness of the strawberries.

I used the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cooked frosting recipe for these. It's not only my favorite frosting, but it's not really sweet and a bit reminiscent of whipped cream. A perfect topping for these summery yummies.

I pretty much just grabbed a handful of strawberries and cut them up to put into the batter. I can't remember exactly how much I used, so just use as many or as little as you want. I had quite a bit. Don't forget that this will also increase your cupcake yield, so you'll get more than 12.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

1 cup soymilk (minus 1 Tbsp to counteract the juiciness of your berries)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, softened (like Earth Balance)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon or orange extract
about 1 cup strawberries chopped into smallish pieces

Preheat your oven to 350F. Do your muffin liner thing or grease your muffin pan. Whisk the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside 5-10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir it up to combine. In a separate large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract. Now beat in the soymilk mixture and dry mixture in alternate separate batches just until combined. Don't over-beat or your cupcakes will get tough. You just want it to be combined.

Fold in the chopped strawberries. Fill your cupcake pan cups about 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 22 minutes. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Make sure they're cool before you frost them!

Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup superfine, castor or powdered sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the flour and soy milk. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and has a pudding-like consistency, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and press plastic wrap onto the top of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow mixture to cool completely before the next step. (This is very important, as warm pudding will melt the shortening and margarine.) If you're impatient like me, stick the bowl into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to cool it off.

Cream together the shortening, margarine, vanilla and sugar then beat in cold custard. Beat with an electric mixer for 4 to 6 minutes; frosting should become lighter in color and have a very creamy texture, similar to very thick whipped cream.

Frost on cooled cupcakes and place sliced strawberries on top.