Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sorbet Season!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

While this summer in San Francisco has hardly been warm, we've still had a lot of beautiful fruit readily available to us. I love a good Farmers Market & I try to go to Heart of the City Farmers Market weekly. The prices are incredible, I can often stock my home with fruits & vegetables for under $10.

The arrival of an Ice Cream Maker & the large stock of fruit around my home has yielded a wonderful thing; SORBET! I'm not normally a fruit dessert kind of gal, but sorbet is so tasty & guilt free, I consider it a post-dinner refreshment!

It all started with the Lemon Sorbet I blogged about previously, it was so simple & delicious, I was instantly hooked!

My second attempt was a Peach Sorbet, with a mix of white & yellow peaches from a local farm. It was light & delicious, I'll definitely be making this again in the near future!

Next, I made a Cantaloupe Sorbet, mainly for myself, as my other taste testers aren't fans of melon. It was mild & refreshing not too sweet, but not bland either. I think there's serious potential in melons for sorbet.

Due to having a husband who would eat peanut butter in any capacity, some gelato snuck it's way in! I made him a Peanut Butter Gelato with THIS recipe, but used part light coconut milk, part vanilla soy milk. I also added a pinch of cinnamon & a bit of melted chocolate for and extra kick! It was creamy & light, but I feel like the nutty flavor could stand out more. I'll be trying this one again with more peanut butter.

I was given a sample of Asian Pear at the Farmers Market & they were so sweet & crunchy I had to buy some! They translated well to a sorbet, although the texture was a bit gritty. Luckily, the flavor of the sorbet was so gorgeous, the texture was hardly an issue. I think this could be great for a dinner party, a fun way to serve something a bit untraditional.

Some oranges had been sitting around the house, so I decided we needed another round of sorbet tonight! The Orange Sorbet was amazingly good, although I may have put a bit too much juice in it, as it didn't all want to freeze & melted quickly. From what I can tell, fruits with texture seem to work better than pure fruit juice.

What I love about sorbet is the ease of making it, many times I don't plan these ahead, I just decide before dinner to make it & prep it right before I cook. Once we're eating, I pour everything in to the ice cream maker & it's done by the time we've cleaned our plates!

a Basic Sorbet
Fruit of your choice (2 to 3 whole fruits, half a melon or large fruit, or 5 or so smaller fruits such as lemons, a handful or two of berries)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 lemon

In a small pot, heat 1/2 cup of water & 1/4 cup of sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat & let it cool for a bit.

Wash, peel, cut, & puree the fruits of your choice in a food processor. (If using berries, strain the seeds, if desired.)

Pour the water-sugar mixture in to the pureed fruit, stir.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in to your mixture, stir.

Taste your mixture, it should be quite sweet, if not "too sweet".
Add more lemon, if needed.

Once the mixture is to your taste, put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, until it is cool. (You can skip this, but the sorbet will take longer to form & the results may not be as desired.)

Pour the mixture in to your ice cream maker & follow the manufacturers instructions.

This yields 4 small servings or 2 average servings.

My Notes:
It's all about experimenting with combinations & your personal taste. I like to use less sugar & put in additional lemon juice for sweetness, but many people use equal amount of water & sugar. Lemon also helps bring out flavor in the milder fruits, such as melon, so even if you make yours with more sugar, it's still a good idea to add a tablespoon of lemon juice. On the other hand, if you put too little sugar, the sorbet may be icy. Ice Cream Makers produce a soft serve sort of frozen dessert. A great way to firm up your sorbet is to move it to a storage container & put it in the freezer. Some sorbets tend to get icy or chunky if frozen, if this happens, leave it out to thaw a bit before eating. Enjoy!

In other news..
The Urban Housewife is now on MySpace!
I love to make new friends & see the faces of my readers; please add me! http://www.myspace.com/theurbanhousewife

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lolo's Baked Vegan Donuts, Glazed or Chocolate covered!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

Last weekend, I attended a fabulous potluck organized through Yelp called the "Vegan Brunch Cartel". Although all food had to be vegan, it was attended by a great group of folks, both vegan & non.

I debated what to bring, as the first edition yielded some dishes people were still raving about as the 2nd one was organized. A mention of donuts was received with fanfare, so I started my search for the perfect recipe.

This recipe comes from the amazing Lolo at VeganYumYum! Do yourself a favor & check out her blog & recipes NOW. I voted for her in the 2007 Veggie Awards & she has an upcoming cookbook I'm excited to get my hands on!

Lolo's Baked Vegan Donuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 shake of cinnamon (I was out of nutmeg, so I used all cinnamon & more than a shake!)
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Egg replacer for 1 egg (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer.)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly.

In a small saucepan, combine wet ingredients over medium low heat & mix until margarine is melted. You should be able to stick your finger in the mixture without burning yourself. Don't make this too hot for the dough!

Add wet to dry & mix until just combined, forming a soft spongy dough.

Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out dough into an ungreased nonstick mini donut pan & smooth out the tops of them. If using a regular sized donut pan (like I did), fill them until just below the rim. Make sure not to overfill them or they'll have uneven muffin tops. If you under fill them, they'll be skimpy, but still edible.

Bake them for 12 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Invert the hot pan over a cooling rack to release the donuts & allow them to cool completely before decorating.

This will yield 20 mini donuts or 6 to 8 large donuts.
If you don't have a donut pan, you can bake them as donut holes in the bottom of a mini muffin pan or make fun shapes in those molded silicone pans!

Glaze for Donuts & other confections
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon soy milk
my additions:
a splash of vanilla (optional)
a bit of agave nectar (optional)

Whisk all of the ingredients together.

Dip half of the donut into the glaze, let some drip off, then dip glaze-side down into sprinkles.

Transfer the donuts to a wire rack with parchment paper underneath, the excess glaze will drip through the rack onto the paper for easy cleaning later.

My Notes:
This makes a great all-purpose glaze for treats! I added vanilla & agave nectar for some extra sweetness & gloss, but it's good without them as well.

Chocolate topping for Donuts
Your favorite vegan chocolate, approximately 6 ounces. (I use E. Guittard Semisweet chocolate.)

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler & remove from the heat being careful not to get water in the chocolate.

Dip your donuts into the chocolate until completely covered & place on a wire rack to drip off excess chocolate.

My Notes:
I found the dipping process to be a bit awkward, some of my donuts didn't want to leave the glaze & chocolate easily, so I was afraid they'd break! In the end, I took my offset spatula & glazed them thickly, letting the excess drip off the sides, then threw sprinkles on top. This worked best for me, but you may like the ease & speed of dipping them.

I tried two donut recipes, hoping to bring chocolate cake donuts as well, but the results of the other recipe (from a vegan cookbook) were not to my standards, so I did not bring them along. In the end, I was very happy with Lolo's donuts & will definitely make them again! I had extras, so I dipped them lightly in agave nectar, then coated them with a cinnamon-sugar blend; so delicious!

The Vegan Brunch Cartel was a total success! Not only was the food delicious, but the people were entertaining & the Victorian house it was held in was gorgeous. An open kitchen & vintage stove complete with 6 burners & a hot plate allowed dishes to be made right before the meal, as we all stood around & chatted. Cinnamon rolls, blueberry corn pancakes, samosas, apple brown betty, home fries, french toast, & "egg" salad sandwiches flowed freely; we were all stuffed! If you're ever in San Francisco, get in touch, if one of these events is happening, you shouldn't miss it!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

This Week's Specials.

What's on the menu this week at Chez Melisser?
The arrival of some new kitchen accouterments have resulted in a wave of new dishes!

Panko Buffalo Tofu

I bought some Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs) & then raided my cabinets to find something to use it with. Tofu was the winner!
The buffalo in this dish comes from the buffalo sauce I marinated the pressed tofu in before coating them with breadcrumbs & baking them to a crisp. Yum!

Lemon Sorbet

I finally bought myself an Ice Cream Maker! I've been talking about it for ages, but a trip to Target revealed a basic inexpensive model, so I snagged it.

Making this sorbet was amazingly easy;
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar, combine in a pot & heat until lightly boiling & sugar is dissolved.
1/2 cup lemon juice + 2 teaspoons lemon zest.
Combine them all & put them in the refrigerator to cool. Once they're cold, throw them in the machine & you're set!

Additionally, my new Microplane Grater / Zester is ruling my world! No more crappy cheese grater for this little lady. Lemons are zested with ease, ginger is grated to perfection, & I am a happy person.

Raw Zucchini Spring Rolls with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Another new addition to my kitchen cabinets is a Mandoline! While I've already shaved off my fingertip (haha), I've also made some beautifully cut veggies, which made these rolls possible.
This was my first foray in to raw foods after being inspired by a dish at Cafe La Vie in Santa Cruz. They're so simple; long strips of zucchini with julienned carrots & zucchini of various sizes inside. Other great additions would be bell peppers, avocado, or bean sprouts!

The sauce was not raw, but was very tasty, especially as a dip for our side of tofu noodles. I think well try something creamier for the rolls next time, but I would recommend this basic Asian sauce for other dishes, it works as a dip or a marinade!

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 small garlic glove, minced.
1/4 teaspoon ginger, grated.

Whisk them all together & you're done!

Also on the menu this week:
Tex Mex Lentils with tons of veggie from the Farmers Market!
Nachos ala Real Food Daily with their amazing Jalapeno Cashew Cheddar, thanks to my new Food Processor!
Vegan Donuts from both VeganYumYum & the Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide!

Quick! Someone give me a reason to make cupcakes!