Monthly Archives: December 2010

Brussels Sprouts Christmas Trees

Sometimes I get really ridiculous ideas for pictures like restaging an incident when my friends broke my dining room table, or the famous KFC bowl redone but this one in particular was a long time coming. I think it was two Christmases ago that I came up with the plan to form a tree out of mashed potatoes and Brussels Sprouts but I have yet to make it for the actual meal because I keep thinking of ways to make it more complicated; cranberry decorations! ravioli and beggar’s purses surrounding the tree like presents! a star anise topper! gravy whipped into a snow like foam! The possibilities are endless really but the problem is the more you add the more people think you are a lunatic. It is a fine line.

We did this simple test run to see if the tree would even hold up and it did quite well. First we made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and herbs. Then sautéed the sprouts (cut in half) with onions and balsamic. Then formed a pyramid with the potatoes and pressed the sprouts into them. Next time we are going to make the potatoes a little thicker so that they hold together better and cook the brussels sprouts with a nice miso glaze so they aren’t so dry. I also think chilling them in the fridge would also be a good idea. Finally, we baked them in the oven about 5 minutes, just to make sure everything was toasty and warm and then plated them (carefully) with a spatula. Everyone gets their own tree! What could be better?

Vegan Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart

I saw the most beautiful picture of this chocolate & peanut butter pretzel tart the other day on Pictures and Pancakes and I fell madly in love. Not only was the picture captivating but the recipe made me swoon. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Chocolate and peanut butter covered pretzels are one of my most favorite treats in the world and as soon as I saw it I immediately began thinking of different ways I could veganize it. In the end, the hardest part was finding a fluted tart pan. I went to a couple different places before I entered the madness that is bed bath and beyond– right smack dab in the middle of the shopping season– before I finally found the perfect one. I had to buy the mini tart pans because there is nothing more fun than having a whole fabulous dessert all to yourself. I kept thinking I would make a cashew base but when I was at the co-op the other day I bought a box of mimic cream hoping that it would work.

And it did.

Beautifully.

This is the most luscious and fantastic dessert I have ever made. It is so creamy that it will knock your socks off. Honestly, don ‘t even wear socks if you make it.

I tested the recipe early with the intention of making them for Christmas. The only thing that I will do different is a salty roasted peanut garnish on top. 

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart

Ingredients

8 Tablespoons of Earth Balance
1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sweetened MimicCreme*
10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
salt
Either a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom or six smaller ones.

Beat the margarine with 3/4 cup of crushed pretzels and the sugar until creamy.  Beat in the flour and the flax mix.  Add the rest of the pretzels and mix.

If you are making individual tarts divide the dough into six pieces. Take each piece of dough and flatten with a rolling pin between two pieces of parchment paper. You want them thin but not so thin that they will be hard to handle later, like a quarter of an inch. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out, peel off one sheet of parchment, invert the tart pan on top of the dough and then flip the whole thing over. Press the dough into pan peeling off any that is overhanging and pressing it anywhere it is cracked.

When the dough is in the tart pans put them all back in the fridge for another half hour. Preheat the oven 350.

Take the tarts out of the fridge, put the parchment paper back on top and weight it down with beans or pie weights. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (30 if you are doing one big tart) and remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Bake another 5-10 minutes being very careful to check often so it doesn’t burn on top.

In the meantime heat up the mimic cream in small saucepan. Once it starts to simmer turn it off and add the chocolate chips. Stir until melted.

Remove the tart pans from the oven and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the crust. Sprinkle some salt on top of the peanut butter. Top with the chocolate mix. If you like, garnish with roasted salted peanuts. Put in the fridge at least 4 hours. Spend that time anticipating chocolaty goodness. Enjoy!

*note regarding MimicCreme-
I got the mimic cream at wheatsville co-op, but it seems like something Whole Foods or other similar places would carry. It is a realitivly new product made out of nuts that works for baking (but not drinking) At the co-op it is by all the shelf stable vegan milks and I would imagine it would be there at WF too. It is in a carton that is smaller than regular soy milk but not nearly as small as soy cream and it is a square box.

If they don’t have it I bet you could use soy creamer. I think coconut or hemp milk would work too. In the recipe you just simmer the milk and melt the chocolate in it and then set it in the fridge like a chocolate ganache recipe. It did seem a lot creamier than that so I think a high fat milk would work best. Maybe blend in some soaked nuts too if you want to go all out.

Vegan Gift Guide

Usually for Christmas I like to blog about what I really want like this R2-D2 peppermill

or these overpriced but awesome mushroom boxes

or bad ass artwork 

but no one ever buys me anything off the internet so I thought I would do a gift guide of things I have (or want) and LOVE by and for vegans so you can add them to your list or buy them for people you like.

First, if you are looking to buy someone a cookbook my two favorites to come out this year are Appetite for Reduction and Viva Vegan

Appetite for Reduction just came out and though I have only had it a week we have had at least 10 recipes from it and it changed my life forever. Appetite has very simple, quick recipes that are really healthy, low calorie, but really hearty, tasty, and fabulous. It is the kind of recipes I am always looking for so now I don’t even have to keep blogging; they are all in there together. I am going to have to come up with a new hobby like skeet shooting or competitive ping pong. This book would be great for anyone, vegan or not, who is trying to eat healthier since it is full of easy recipes that use vegetables, whole grains and not a lot of vegan substitutes.

When I am not making healthy quick recipes I am usually cooking Mexican, or Central American, or even South American food. Now I don’t have to worry about creating recipes for that passion either because Viva Vegan has taken all the guess work out of veganizing Latin American dishes and put them in a handy wonderful book. I have learned a lot reading this one and I am so happy it exists. I learned to make Arepas because of this book and it has my most favorite seitan recipe I have ever tried. The whole book is really well designed and fun to read,well, if you like reading cookbooks so I think it would make a great gift.

Since veganmofo when I ate beans and rice for a month and now having all my meals from Appetite for Reduction, I have been really happy to have my little bento box because I can pack one layer full of rice or quinoa and the other layer filled with saucy beans. The exact one I have isn’t available anymore but this one from I Love Obento is just as adorable. The nice thing about bento boxes is that they are really tiny, you pack them completely full and you don’t have to worry about putting stuff in little baggies or finding tupperware lids. The whole thing can easily slip into my purse and it collapses to be super small when the meal is eaten.

There are so many talented vegan people out there. I love my vegan mug from Vegan Dish, who has really nice bowls in her etsy shop as well.

I also adore my prints from My Zoetrope, she has a calendar for 2011 where each of the super cute pictures for each month can be framed as 5X7 after the month is over. 

Panda With Cookie has the cutest shop ever filled with monsters, tofu pirates, and “where’s my burrito” buttons. I really want to get the a couple of the onesies for my friend but she hasn’t even had her babies yet so I think it is jumping the gun.

If you are looking to stay warm I love my hat from Softspoken which is very comfortable and made of vegan yarn. The little bubbles do make people want to touch your head a lot so if that makes you nervous check out some of her other hats.

Another great way to stay warm is with long sleeve shirts and hoodies from Herbivore. They have a ton of fun stuff, my favorite being the “I’m vegan and I love you”

Nice bags can be really hard to find, I would love one of these messenger bags from Queen Bee Creations

I do have a bag that I really like from Sugar Lust (yet another Portland company). It has held up really well and it is waterproof they have all sorts of cute ones on etsy like this squid bag.

If you want to get a vegan a bottle of wine may I recommend checking out Barnivore first, it has a huge database of vegan friendly wines and beers. For a nice Christmas beer I recommend the delicious Jubelale, my favorite seasonal brew.

If you are looking for gourmet vegan cheese, candy, marshmallows, or anything else that is hard to find Food Fight is a great shop to check out. They even have vegan haggis.

If you are interested in fine local Texas products may I recommend Vegan Queso that is made right here in Austin.

and the famous Stubb’s BBQ sauce from downtown Austin.

Or Salsa from the Austin Spice Company, probably my favorite jarred salsa ever.

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to watch a lot of movies, so here are some favorite Christmas Movies

 

Finally, everyone one of the best presents you can give is a donation to a worthy organization that helps animals. Here in Texas Sunny Day Farms is always hoping for donations, along with emancipet and Austin Pet’s Alive