Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

Today we were forecast to have a blizzard. Last night I stayed up far too late, excited to see the snow start to accumulate but it just kept flurrying on at the same steady speed it had for the last 24 hours. I woke up repeatedly throughout the night, peeking around the blinds hoping for a winter wonderland. To no avail. While we got a few inches, it was nothing near what I anticipated and was quite disappointing. Last winter I was a snow naysayer. There was too much, too frequently and it often also involved a lot of ice and early morning drives to work that didn't mix well for me personally. However this year I can take public transit and leave my car buried, and I have a whole new outlook on snow. I am still hopeful and will patiently wait for the rest of winter my first real blizzard.

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

In all the bright white and coldness of winter, I am ecstatic about citrus. We never fly through boxes of clementines and lemons and limes faster than in the depths of January and February. I was craving lemon meringue pie and knew it was time to give it another shot. Last time I used the meringue recipe from Hannah Kaminsky's Easy As Vegan Pie. While it was totally delicious and an amazing option, the texture of the meringue was a lot thicker & denser than the meringue on Veggie Galaxy's pie. I had heard a rumor that they used soy protein to make their meringue, and I gave it a go. While I'm not divulging my recipe, it was very similar to their lighter, more marshmallowy texture. Since I had lent out my kitchen torch, I broiled it in the oven and left it in for a split second too long. I decided that I didn't like the heavily broiled look on the lemon meringue pie, so I removed the top inch of meringue and broiled again with a close watch. As that was cooling, I ate the over broiled meringue from a bowl and it was pure heaven. A chocolate pudding pie in a graham cracker crust with that meringue would be a killer s'mores pie for the summer.
Do yourselves a favor and go buy several lemons. Come home and make a lemon meringue pie. The recipe from Mister Nice Guy is a great option for the pie filling, but I haven't ever used their meringue recipe so I can't vouch for that. Since this pie is so much easier to make than you expect, you should probably spend some time making dozens of tiny hearts or leaves or snowflakes for the edges of your crust. Because you're waiting for a snowstorm, and who knows when that will come?

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

Monday, January 19, 2015

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies

I'm not a New Year's resolution type of person so I don't really have any promises to myself or hold any particular expectations, but lately I have been trying to make little life changes to just stay as focused & healthy & happy as possible. For example, I've never been a messy person. Ever since I have lived on my own, I have kept things generally tidy. Maybe a tiny mess here and there, dishes left in the sink for one day because I am too sleepy to wash them after dinner, or a pile of jeans & cardigans that I plan on wearing again before washing. But I have even been trying to break those habits. While I make my coffee in the mornings I have been tidying up the kitchen. Putting away all the dry dishes, rinsing out the sink, wiping down the counters. I make the bed before leaving the house & place the pillows and blanket in their proper places on the couch.

leaves and flours vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies

I stopped drinking diet soda a week ago. Something that I have long had a problem with and always mean to stop doing. I've also been consistently packing my lunches in the mornings so that I don't eat garbage from a convenience store while I'm at work. I've been taking B12 and making sure our grocery cart has more greens in it than it did before. I'm trying to come up with more interesting dinners so that we aren't tempted to eat out as frequently as we did in DC. Just little things that I am trying to make routine. I remember hearing before that it takes 60 days for something to become a habit, so I'm on my way.
While searching for dinner ideas, these peppermint hot chocolate cookies from Bakers Royale crossed my path. I made a batch & shared it with a few friends because dessert will always be a part of my life no matter how much kale I am eating. I believe that sugar is ok occasionally, and I hope you do too!

leaves and flours vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies
recipe inspired by Bakers Royale, cookie recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (divided into 2 half cup portions)
1/2 cup Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbl agave
3 candy canes, crushed to pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silpat mat. Combine milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and mix until dough forms. Fold in a half cup of the chocolate chips. Using a 2 tbl scoop, portion dough onto tray. Flatten with palm and then make a large indention with thumb. Bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are firm and allow to cool. Fill wells with Ricemellow creme. In a double broiler combine remaining half cup of chocolate chips, coconut milk, and agave. Heat while whisking until a smooth ganache forms. Allow to cool for several minutes, then pour on tops of cookies with a spoon and smooth on top of the cookie. Sprinkle with candy cane pieces. Allow ganache to solidify before eating unless you want a huge mess!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

These last few months have been interesting for me. My whole life I have been busy. Balancing work and school and friends. Since childhood there hadn't really been a time where I had an extended vacation. Sure I have had a week off here and there, but it's always been filled with travel. My summers in college were filled with extra classes to prepare best for graduate school. I would only take a class or two, but then I would still spend the rest of the day in lab tinkering around with my algae cultures. I graduated college in the summer, and moved from Tennessee to Baltimore the next day. After a few semesters I decided I didn't want to pursue a phD anymore and started work for Roots Market building their bakery. The first few months were long and then the next 2 years were so busy that they slipped by without my barely noticing. So these last few months in Philadelphia, I have only been working part time. I have had more free time in my life that I did since I was a child. While I have a few large projects that I haven't mentioned yet to the general public, I honestly haven't made much progress on them. I have really been reveling in being able to do whatever I want. And while I have felt my share of guilt for not being more proactive or successful just yet, I'm trying to enjoy it.
I got my library card and have ready ten books since we moved. I've visited a few museums and parks. I've binge watched TV and written long letters to all the friends I miss in places all over the country. I've slept in and gone to bed whenever I want. I have been casually tinkering the the kitchen, developing new recipes and making old favorites for no one other than myself. It's the first time in my life that I haven't been so consumed by stress that I feel like I am melting down. It's been so nice.
Today it's twenty degrees, windy, bitter cold and the steps are still icy from the snow we got earlier this week, but my kitchen is warm and sunny. And I listened to The Goodbye Party & Radiator Hospital and danced around the kitchen, singing and baking banana bread and drinking tea. And while I know that this period of time is coming to an end and I'm ready to challenge myself again, I'm really happy that I let myself have this break. And I'm ok with wallowing in my emotions and really letting myself feel for the first time in too long.

leaves and flours vegan Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

This pavlova is one of the recipes I have been tinkering with. The last time I made meringue I used Ener-G egg replaced and while it help up nicely, I don't find it to have the most appealing flavor. This time I used a soy protein powder. The meringue whipped beautifully and tasted much better out of the bowl. I accidentally under-baked these a little which you can't see but can tell while eating because they are a little too chewy and not crisp enough. The whip is the new So Delicious cool whip again, but I have decided that it's not something I will be purchasing any more. It's time to invest in a little nitrous whipped so I can make my own perfect coconut whip cream with more consistent results.
Because of the cold, I wanted to make a heavier pavlova than I did in the summer so chocolate raspberry came to mind. While I tried to make chocolate meringue THREE times, each time the meringue melted in the oven. I have a feeling that the fat in the cocoa powder and the soy protein must be chemically incompatible, so I gave up and went for a ganache on top. Classic, simple, delicious. I also made a chocolate whipped cream and while it covered up some of the flavors of the cool whip that I didn't enjoy, I don't think that it looks very nice. The ganache is the more attractive way to go while chocolate meringue is eluding me.