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Monday, February 25, 2013

caramel popcorn {vegan}

Caramel Popcorn {vegan}

The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
And the black sign painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, the one that reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold.
~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Caramel Popcorn {vegan}

vegan caramel popcorn
as inspired by dinners for winners

this is my submission for Bunny Eats Design's Our Growing Edge. since going dairy free i've been also caramel free. i've been wanting to make a vegan version for awhile without the use of soy margarine and i think i've done it. you should too.

our-growing-edge-badge

1/2 cup kernels (organic arrowhead mills)
2 TBL canola oil (or anything neutral with high smoke point, like grapeseed or sunflower seed)
pop on stovetop in a 7qt cast aluminum caldero pot. heat up oil at medium high temp, throw in a few kernels & wait for them to pop. that's when the oil is hot enough. add the rest of the kernels and shake to coat. put on lid with slight crack so that steam can escape. (but not so big that kernels fly out) approx: 5mins.
when kernels stop popping, it's done.

roast up 1 cup of raw unsalted peanuts, either in a frying pan or casserole dish in the oven at 350, about 10mins.

in the same casserole dish, mix up the roasted peanuts and popcorn. set aside while the caramel sauce is being made.

caramel sauce
adapted from oh, lady cakes

2 cans of FULL FAT organic coconut milk, fridged over night
3/4 cup raw turbanado sugar
pinch of salt

measure out 1 1/2 cup of coconut milk, skim the tops where the full fatty part of the milk is. for the watered down stuff at the bottom of the cans, save for creamy soups. heat up in a saucepan on medium heat. add in the sugar and whisk. allow it to reach full on boil, and then set the clock to 25 minutes. whisk the entire time, add the salt at the end. it will change colors, deepening lusciously. it will thicken, at your own discretion and what you want, you can take it off the heat whenever. i opted for a consistency that would make it easy to pour out, plus, i knew it would continue to cook in the oven....

pour caramel over popcorn/peanut, mix thru and spread in casserole dish. bake in preheated 250F oven for 45 minutes, every 15minutes rotating the dish and mixing it. when time is up, remove from dish and spread on wax paper/parchment on cookie sheet. allow to cool. boom.

Caramel Popcorn {vegan}

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Friday, February 22, 2013

fruit tart: linzer cookie crust + lemon pastry cream

Vegan Fruit Tart

it is 11:30am in the morning. i'm working from home and i've stepped away from my desk, in the warm loft room where the mid day sunshine is streaming in, and whipping together a quick dessert, something sweet, something tart, just for my sweetheart. the tiny urban kitchen i spend the bulk of my home life in is steamy, there is a pot of potpourri simmering, giving off a heady aroma of citrus and rosemary. i'm trying to roll out the cookies but the dough is crumbly, dry. i can feel the despair creeping in my belly, insidious and gaining in force as i'm trying to salvage the dough pieces falling off the rolling pin.

it's finally reached a point where i cannot save the dough but i am unwilling to chuck it. plus, there's a conference call i need to call into. so i go back upstairs, dejected, with a cup of coffee in hand, my lower lip undoubtedly in a pout. and i can't concentrate. amidst planning to attend two college fairs, and reviewing resumes, as well as being present during the online meeting, i'm silently lamenting over the botched linzer cookies. i don't know about anyone else, but wasting food is not fun, especially when the ingredients used are hard or expensive to come by.

Vegan Fruit Tart

finally, it's time for lunch and while i prepare a simple chả lụa sandwich, i also have the kitchenaid mixing up the 2nd batch of cookies, that will, damnit, be a success!, i am sparked by genius. a tart. i have learned that i prefer cookie crust tarts, and so this fruit tart was born. in keeping in line with the ingredients in the dough, i decided the filling would be vegan as well. honestly, a curd would be just as lovely, topped with fruit of course, or a custard-based pastry cream.

moral of the story: have a Plan B, friends. it saves lives.

tart recipe

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Friday, February 15, 2013

linzer cookies with fruit curd

Linzer Cookies

maybe you think that because dw & i are nuts for each other we're all about valentine's day. truth is: not really. at the risk of sounding very gushy, we're a couple with many anniversaries. we met in the month of February, we make note of the first email we ever exchanged (ahem, dw keeps ALL the emails i've ever written him!), then there's our first kiss (4th date) to our first vacation together, and then later this year, a wedding that will result in another anniversary to celebrate. so, you get it, valentine's day is just another day to us.

we had leftover soup for dinner, crouton'd crusty old bread and watched an already aired episode of Survivor. but, despite vday just being another day to us, i made a little something for us to nibble on, something special, something sweet, something tart, just for my sweetheart.

Linzer Cookies

linzer cookies with fruit curd


1/2 cup earth balance soy margarine
2 TBL organic sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup citrus or raspberry curd or whatever fruit jam

in stand mixer, mix soy margarine and sugars until fluffy, scraping sides often. Add in the salt, baking soda and almond flour, mix until just combined. add in the spelt flour and mix. divide dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and fridge for 30 minutes.

preheat oven 350F.

when ready, on the counter have parchment paper on the ready and sprinkled with flour. take one disk of dough and roll out as thin as possible. slide dough, still on the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet. cut dough with 2” cutter, square or circle, and then cut another shape/heart/whatever using a 1.5” cutter in center of half the cookies. (aim for 12 cookies) do not remove the centers yet. remove dough scraps from around cookies and freeze the cookies for about 10 minutes. meanwhile, do the 2nd disk like the first.

when ready, switch up the trays. transfer frozen cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. bake for 7-8 minutes. cool on wire rack.

assemble cookie sandwiches like so: sprinkle powdered sugar on cookies with cutout centers. spread uncut cookies with jam or curd and sandwich with powdered cutouts. serve immediately. Boom

store in an air tighter container until ready to spread with jam or curd; will keep for up to five days.

yield: 1 dozen 2" linzer cookie sandwiches. (PS. the scraps could be used to make more cookies, i rolled them into logs and cut them up to make into simple cookies)

Linzer Cookies

my previous Feb. 14 posts:
hot milk cake + meyer lemon buttercream
curried lentil soup
diy heart cards

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Nuts ~ an anniversary

2 years


tomorrow, saturday, is the 2 year anniversary of when we met. you reached out to me. you asked me out. i was too busy but something about you made me pause. maybe it was your smile, maybe it was the direct way in which you chose to communicate with me. either way, i was smitten. in the moments since our first meeting, (did i really make my roommate Nuria wash my special jeans the night before, the pair that makes my ass look phenomenal & i can strut better than beyonce can during superbowl halftime show, so i could wear it on our date?! yes. totally.) (did i also spend an inordinate amount of time on IM with her the next morning analyzing every single detail of our date? yes. absolutely.) you arrived after me and i did something that i'd never done before: i didn't make you shake my hand. i don't know why. but we spent 5 hours at that restaurant, i don't remember what we talked about (just kidding, i do. i made you talk about your previous relationships, your favorite singer, i touched your neck, i had two glasses of wine and i tried to have good posture.) and i didn't want the night to ever end.

it's been like that for me ever since. you have held my attention like no other, and um, let's be honest here, there have been others and they were obviously duds. you make me laugh. really hard, so hard that sometimes i chortle unattractively. you put up with my neurosis, of which i have a lot. i roll my eyes at you when you read me snippets from Reddit but in actuality, i like your chatter in the background while i'm picking my nose cooking or otherwise just sitting there with you. you are a trooper when i need you to help me with my random hobbies, you're always game to make out with me in front of the camera and damnit, you spoil me rotten.

Cinnamon Sugar Nuts

our first year was spent getting to know each other, figuring out what makes us tick individually. there may have been some tiptoeing and being on our best behavior - along with a great deal of "this is too good to be true" mindsets. the 2nd year began with a trip to my motherland, we moved in together officially, and hello, there was that one time i somehow fell head over ass backwards off the bed (thanks a lot dude) and you also learned how to make ramen noodles, the right way, ie, my way. i have learned to not be so close fisted with my anger, and to open my arms to everything life has to offer me, everything you have to offer me and i can accept it without reservation or a grudging heart. i am not afraid to tell you anything, or fear that you'll judge me harshly for my weaknesses, and i am a weak individual and you love me anyway. this 3rd year of Us, a year that will end with us being husband & wife (!!), is just unfolding. i'm cynical enough to know that we will have hard times, this year, and years to come, but i'm secure enough to know that whatever we face, we'll do it together, you'll make me guffaw, i'll say or do something inappropriate and you know what, we'll be just fine.

dw. i am nuts about you. and i am so thankful you're nuts enough to put up with my shit.

Cinnamon Sugar Nuts

adapted from Texanerin Baking.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

momofuku crack tart

Crack Pie

some years ago, i can’t remember how long, when i lived on the other side of town, the rowhome i lived in was newly renovated, but the neighborhood itself was not hip to the trend yet. the back of the house faced a rather shady alleyway and the backyards of dilapidated rowhouses of the street over. directly across my dressing room i had quite a view of a particular backyard that was turned into the outdoor den of a couple of drug addicts. this concrete yard housed overgrown shrubs, a few trashcans, and a green loveseat. there may have been a broken down tv, but i could be lying.

i know. welcome to baltimore hon! if you know me, and if you’ve been reading this space long enough, you know that i would not find this type of scenario alarming, if anything, it was amusing, and an educational opportunity.

one weekend night, when i had cousins over for a nice visit, we were playing dress up in said dressing room (what, you guys don’t still play fashion show as adults? pity.) i happened to look out and behold, my druggie neighbors were in residence and they were about to shoot up. so, as we prepared for a night out, while we were in, we watched these two people prepare to inject drugs in each other's arms.

Crack Pie

i won’t get into the nitty gritty, just know that it took about 30 minutes for them to do much of anything. their slow, laborious movements indicated that they were already high, they were just getting another fix. (notice how i’m saying all this like i’m in the know with all this…) after they were done, that’s when i called the police and we watched that scene unfold, too.

now, i know it wasn’t crack they were doing, cus they weren't smoking (and, besides, it’s whack!). so it had to have been heroin (or the extremely off chance they were giving each other insulin shots). regardless, that lot was fenced up and i never saw those people again.

Crack Pie

in the meantime, this is in our fridge right now, i've had it for breakfast, tea and dessert. i love ky horse racing pie more but this tart, it's addictive. chewy and sweet and thankfully, much easier to acquire than actual crack.

adapted from bon appetit.

i won't write out the entire recipe but i will say that i used earth balance's soy margarine in lieu of butter, ghirardelli's chocolate powder instead of the milk powder, and so delicious' coconut creamer in place of the heavy whipping cream. it should be noted that the amount of sugar i used for both the filling and crust was scant amount, what can i say, i'm a bit stingy with the sweets. this recipe yielded one rectangular tart pan, 3 mini round tarts.

jen of savory simple also made this.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

current faves

Fave Pins


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these days, when i'm not thinking about the minute details of planning a wedding, or doing Real Life things like working, or what i'm going to feed dw next, i'm thinking about my hair. i know. how mundane. how utterly pedestrian. i can't cut it now, like i had planned to in the spring, to donate for the 2nd time. no. i need it long to be able to do wispy whimsical things to it when i get married. and as a result, it lays rather limp, in a winter hang that seems to start at the roots and ends forlornly down my back, all static-y and annoying.

tell me this happens to you too? not just the winter funk, but maybe the dead hair?

gentle reminder: it's Ice Cream for Breakfast day on Saturday. make it count.