Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today's Theme: Stuff that is Too Sweet

Not too long ago, I went to Phoenixville's (tragically) now-defunct restaurant Baxters on Bridge, otherwise known as 101, where they served a pulled-pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries on their late-night menu. The pulled-pork was soaked in coffee BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw. Those sweet potato fries were rockin' and I thought the sandwich sounded good, so I decided to imitate it.

Thing is, I'm not really a coleslaw fan. I just wanted the coffee BBQ sauce and the sweet potato taste. So I made mashed sweet potatoes (to actually put ONTO the sandwich in place of coleslaw), seitan for the pork (I used the seitan recipe from "Viva Vegan!" omitting the cumin because I wasn't making a Latin meal), and I veganized this recipe from the Denver Post for Coffee BBQ Sauce. Then I bought some fancy rolls from Wegmans.

It turned out ok, but really, the Coffee BBQ Sauce was too sweet. Next time, I'd reduce the brown sugar. Add sweet potato mash on top of that sweet sauce and you have a sandwich that is, well, sweet. Maybe I should have made sweet potato fries and stuck with coleslaw on top. It does offer a certain coolness on top of all the warmth and, you know, it's a classic for a reason. Live and learn, though.

Meantime, events abound, and you know what that means, right? Baking! From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, I made Cappuccino Cupcakes. But I kinda failed to really read the recipe before I made them, so I didn't notice that the recipe that I thought was for icing was really for a filling that I was supposed to pipe into the cupcakes. But since I was taking them to a weekend picnic with many guests, I made mini cupcakes and, although one can feasibly pipe filling into mini cupcakes, it's kind of a pain and there are a lot of them. So I did something stupid. I added a bunch of powdered sugar to the filling I'd already made, hoping it would make it more like icing. It didn't really, but it DID make the now-icing super-sweet -- too sweet. Still, I iced the cupcakes with it and topped half with some macaroon cookie topping and half with vanilla cookie topping that I'd bought some time ago. And, you know, although it tasted a little weird to ME, I didn't have a single complaint, but I did have a great many compliments. People told me I should sell them. People always say that, but what they don't realize is that I'm baking from books, and it's kind of dishonest to try to sell food that isn't from your own recipe. I mean, believe you me, I would love to have a bakery or something, and I think Phoenixville could use a really high-quality vegan bakery, but I'd better start inventing my own recipes first, right?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chimichurri Adventures

Ever since I got Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook Viva Vegan! I've cooked so many awesome, authentic-tasting vegan Latin recipes. I made the Chimichurri Baked Tofu as per her recipe and served it atop her Cilantro-Lime Rice. I used to think I didn't really care for cilantro, but this rice sure proves me wrong. It's so good and refreshing. I didn't even use fresh limes, so I didn't have any zest, just lime juice from a bottle, and still, soooo good! Same goes for the chimichurri sauce and the baked tofu, the whole meal is so tasty and summery and easy. And when you bake the sauce with the tofu, it tastes even better than it did raw. And it is darn good raw. This book may have finally turned me on to making sauces. It's so easy and rewarding -- throw everything in the food processor, make the centerpiece to a truly homemade meal.

Anyway, the sauce inspired me. See, when I want to NYC not too long ago to see some friends of mine, we went to this place that just sold fancy hot dogs, including this hot dog with chimichurri sauce on crusty bread. I really wanted to imitate it! I made Independence Day Wieners and Little Baguettes from the book 500 Vegan Recipes.  The recipe for Little Baguettes has you actually make the baguettes bigger than I made them (the recipe makes two of 'em, but I made three), but I knew I wanted them smaller for my purposes. Also from Viva Vegan!, I made Pickled Red Onions, just figuring they'd be good on top. And boy was I right! This really hit the spot. Next time, though, I think I'll make a different bread. I haven't really been impressed with the bread I've made from "500 Vegan Recipes" -- too doughy and not delicate enough. But still, this did the trick.

A few weeks ago, I got a cookie press from Home Goods (I love that store!) and I was excited to use it. Too excited to wait until I actually had the chance to get the actual ingredients called for in an actual recipe. But I improvised. I took the recipe for Chocolate Marmalade Sandwich Cookies from the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, omitted the orange zest, and used blueberry preserves instead of orange marmalade and made these cute li'l lintzertorte-style cookies. I used hearts cuz I was feeling sentimental.
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