The Blooming Platter’s Betsy DiJulio Invited to Give Cooking Demo at PETA’s Leadership Weekend

FoodNot many things would make me grocery shop and cook for four hours on a Friday night with a fever, congestion in every passage from my neck up, and a cough that would cause mothers to gather their children to their skirts.

But a cooking demonstration for PETA donors was one of them.

I am fortunate to live basically in the back yard of PETA’s East Coast headquarters, located in Norfolk, VA.  A resident of the neighboring city of VA Beach, I am even more fortunate to have been asked to give a cooking demonstration for 45 of their major US donors on Saturday, May 14.

Those individuals in the group who don’t reside in our area flew themselves to Norfolk to join local donors where they were treated to a weekend of information sessions from upper level PETA executives, wonderful vegan meals, comfy lodging, my cooking demonstration, and more.Betsy Squeezing a Lemon
I cannot say enough positive things about both the PETA’s East and West Coast staff, how they welcomed me, and how they worked together seamlessly to run a tight ship.

Arriving a bit early to their sunny office building moored along the riverfront, I was met by the loveliest, professional, but relaxed and helpful women and men who made my job easy.  We loaded a cart, efficiently developed a serving plan, and everyone slid right into their roles.  The most challenging aspect of the whole presentation was finding somewhere to attach the lavalier mic on my rather skimpy dress, discreetly covered by a sweater, I should hastily add.

Betsy Food ProcessingThe demo took place on a stage in a meeting room, supported by a cracker jack AV team, for the hour just before lunch, so I didn’t want to prepare anything sweet or that would conflict with their tasty vegan bento boxes from Kotobuki on Colley Avenue in Norfolk.  The PETA staff members, who have plenty of these demos under their belts, steered me away from hummus–it’s so ubiquitous as to have become the Pasta Primavera of vegan hors d’oeuvres–and anything with the misunderstood mushroom.  So they enthusiastically agreed on the most popular recipe on my entire website: Tofu Egg Salad with its “dark secret” (of Indian black salt that tastes and smells exactly like boiled eggs) on thin slices of rye party rye bread and my very springy dill-scented Smoky Grilled Asparagus and White Bean Spread on rice crackers.  Both, I am humbled to report, were big hits, especially the egg salad.

Betsy SmilingI am similarly gratified that my demo was so well-received.  One of the staff members shared that they have presented many of these and that they are often “dry,” but that mine wasn’t.  I have to admit that I was a bit relieved, as I had come down with a fever after school on Thursday, worked Friday still with a fever because progress report grades were due, rallied to grocery shop and prepare ingredients Friday night (missing my beloved candlelight yoga class) and half a day Saturday.  Afterwards,  I drove straight home, climbed into bed and stayed there until Monday when my fever finally broke.

But the show had to go on and it was completely worth it.

A big thank you to PETA and to my contact, Megan Eding.

Print Friendly

Vegan Roasted Middle Eastern Tri-Color Carrot-Beet Spread

SideYield: approximately 1 cup

(for recipe, please scroll down)

Before my husband passed away in July, I never shopped at Whole Foods due to the expense, but it has become a little treat I give myself.

In some ways I find those activities and events that are exactly the same in his absence–like grocery shopping–more emotionally challenging even than the birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.  Perhaps it’s because I steel myself for the latter, shaping them in a way that plays to my strengths and minimizes my vulnerabilities.

But a couple of parties in both November and December required trips to Whole Foods.  The first was Joe’s posthumous birthday party that his sisters and I hosted at Total Wine for which we supplied the food (and decided that tapenade layered over hummus was our favorite new obsession).  He had purchased a wine tasting at a silent auction, but we never used it, and this seemed the perfect occasion.  The second event was my my annual all-girls Christmas, Chanukah, Curry & Cakes Party & Swap.  Joe wasn’t a part of it, but he always put in an appearance to everyone’s delight.

With my dear friend Donna Reiss in town to help me–emotionally and logistically–prepare for the fete, we chose a vegan menu that required a trip to Whole Foods.  With fond and tender memories of our outing, I decided that grocery shopping was a bit more bearable in the more “curated” environs of a store like WF who embraces, at least to some degree, my values. (Somewhere my museum curator friends just felt a stab in their sides because they deplore the way the word “curated” has been conscripted for marketing everything from groceries to jewelry to housewares.)

Now, I go most Saturdays and sometimes during my planning block at school to stock up on lunch items.  Sometimes I go with a list; most often I just respond to the aesthetics of the produce and purchase what catches my eye, figuring out what to do with it later.  I usually create new recipes though, occasionally and shamefully, I let some of it go to waste and end up composting it.  I would claim that it is because I am not accustomed for shopping and cooking for one, but who am I kidding?  I didn’t shop or cook for Joe in recent years, as he was a committed and unapologetic carnivore who eschewed most vegetables for more meat.  It’s more the case that I don’t consume nearly as much food as I used to.

But this carrot-beet spread is perfect for a mini-meal, as is my preference these days: healthy, beautiful, tasty, and satisfying.  It is worth trying to find the pomegranate or tamarind syrup and the sumac at a Middle Eastern or international market or even online.  But if you can’t, I provide substitutions below.  Sumac bushes produce red berries that are dried and ground to a powder that is used in Middle Eastern cuisines.  The flavor is lemony, but mellow, rounded and a hint earthy.  Lemon zest is a fine substitute, but definitely with zingier flavor notes. Similarly, maple syrup or agave nectar will contribute the desired sweetness and texture to the spread, but not deliver quite the desired authentic flavor of the Middle East.

If you or those for whom you cook think they are beet-haters, this recipe, along with some others here on The Blooming Platter, may change their minds.  But, if not, just substitute another couple of carrots.

PatsyRoasted Middle Eastern Carrot-Beet Spread

6-6 to 7-inch carrots, any color (I use a tri-color bunch), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 small golden (or red) beets, about the size of a plum or a half-fist, peeled and quartered

2 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 large garlic clove

1 teaspoon pomegranate, tamarind, or maple syrup or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (or lemon zest)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Garnish: 2 to 4 tablespoons of pistachios

Accompaniments: crackers, toasts, green and/or black olives, and finishing salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss carrots and beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous pinch of salt in a large baking pan.  Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized to your liking.  Remove from oven, place in the bowl of a food processor with all other ingredients and process until as smooth as desired, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Taste and adjust all seasonings as desired.  Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with pistachios.  Serve with crackers, toast, olives and finishing salt (I use a little salt cellar of coarse sea salt).

Print Friendly

Orange Mini-Cakes with Bourbon-Pecan Caramel & Orange Buttercream–A Memorial Birthday Cake for Mama

Orange Cake with Caramel Filling and Orange Buttercream Frosting 3Yield: 8 mini-cakes (2 1/2-inch diameter)

[for recipe, skip to bottom]

Monday, the day I went live with The Blooming Platter’s fresh new look, would have been my mother’s 83rd birthday. But sadly, she has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on October 2.  My mother and I were different enough to challenge and occasionally frustrate each other, but similar enough in some of our views–you should have heard us get going on theology–and many of our passions to have long been joined by the apron strings even across the miles from Virginia to Mississippi.

Even in our shared interests, we often took different approaches.  An illustrated essay I wrote entitled, “The Sacred Canon,” was published by Alimentum in June 2015 and paints a picture of my complex mother and some of her culinary dogma in which I took great delight even as it occasionally annoyed me.

I’m not sure that my mother had a favorite birthday cake.  Besides Creme Caramel,  I think her favorite dessert was ice cream–I remember from my childhood that she voted for Baskin Robbins’ “Jamoca Almond Fudge” for family ice cream outings (my sister and I always begged for Dairy Queen)–and she ate a small dish with Hershey’s syrup every night of her life in recent years, sitting with my father in their bedroom, each in his or her blue chair, watching a British mystery, many of which I sent them on DVD.  She claimed she had to have “food” to take her evening handful of pills.

But, I associate her with citrus flavored cakes, possibly because she used to always make an orange cake with lemon frosting for my sister’s March birthday.  So, this year, I decided to create mini-memorial cakes.  I forwent the lemon frosting, though, for an orange buttercream paired with a luscious Bourbon-Pecan Caramel.  I think Mom would approve because, well, she loved her evening cocktail.  She was from that generation, you know?

Orange Supreme Cake MixThe recipe starts with a boxed cake mix because that’s how I got my start baking.  In those days, there were no canned frostings, but rather boxed mixes as well, and I recall them as being superior.  Still nothing beats homemade frosting which is what I include here along with my simple-as-pie, to mix my metaphors, homemade caramel.

Orange Mini-Cakes with Bourbon-Pecan Caramel and Orange Buttercream Frosting

1-18.25 ounce Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix

3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 1 /2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Zest and Juice of 2 oranges + enough water to equal 1 cup (reserve zest of 1 orange for frosting)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Bourbon-Pecan Caramel (recipe follows)

Orange Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: 8 pecan halves

Grease and flour a 9-inch metal baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all ingredients except caramel, frosting, and garnish.  Beat at low speed for 30 seconds or just until combined.  Increase speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Transfer batter into prepared pan, gently smoothing top.  Bake for 24-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter or even a juice glass, cut cake into 16 rounds.  Place 1 in the bottom of 8 muffin liners.  Top each with about 1 tablespoon of the cooled caramel, remaining rounds of cake, another tablespoon of caramel, and piped on or swirled frosting.  Garnish each mini-cake with a pecan half.  Serve or store in refrigerator until serving time.  Remove about 20 to 30 minutes before serving time.

Bourbon Pecan Caramel 

1/2 cup vegan butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup agave nectar, dark corn syrup, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon soy, almond or coconut creamer

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place butter, brown sugar, agave nectar and creamer in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and then simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes (and no more!).  Remove from heat and stir in creamer, bourbon, vanilla, salt, and chopped pecans.  Pour into a small bowl, and allow to cool.  Cover with plastic wrap gently pressed into the surface.

Orange Buttercream Frosting 

(You will have leftover frosting.)

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Reserved zest of 1 orange (or 1 to 2 tablespoons dried orange zest)

4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons soy, almond, or coconut creamer, if desired for consistency

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and shortening and beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Add orange zest followed by 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar at a time, turning off the mixer in between additions, and scraping down sides of bowl.  Thin, if desired with creamer and beat to combine.  Store any leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.

 

Print Friendly

A New Look and a New Beginning for The Blooming Platter

Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning….”
                                                                                          ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

A May rose blooming in my garden
A May rose blooming in my garden

Indeed, the autumn of 2015 was a season of beginning like nothing I could have imagined. Both in the loss that precipitated it and in the astonishing expansiveness to which it gave rise.

On July 30, my adored husband, Joe, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from cardiac arrest, followed within the next two months by my similarly adored dog, my constant companion, and my mother, my kitchen accomplice since childhood.

Almost immediately, food took on the symbolism of a quasi-secular sacrament: an outward sign of inward grace. With my appetite, among other things, dealt a mortal blow, thoughtfully prepared and diminutive dabs of this and tiny tastes of that, matched to various occasions, came to represent deepening dimensions of relationships with people, things, and ideas that flowed around and through me. My scaled back approach to nourishing my body proved to be immensely satisfying and perfectly proportioned as I focused more on nourishing my soul.

While my relationship with food, like just about everything else in my life, underwent a shift, I remain as full of curiosity and wonder in the kitchen ever before. I just find that I tend to cook more for others than I do for myself, and that food is less often my raison d’etre than it is an anointment of various aspects of a rich and full life for which I am unceasingly grateful.

But spring is an undeniably hopeful season. So, forced to rethink many aspects of my life, I decided in early 2016 that a Blooming Platter redesign was in order and launched it on this what would have been my mother’s 83rd birthday.

I hope you enjoy this new beginning in the form of a lighter, brighter, hipper, and slightly more feminine look and feel.

Yours, gratefully,

~betsyleaf

Print Friendly

Vegan Chocolate Chess Pie
with the Flavor and Mouthfeel of the Real Deal!

Yield: one 8-inch pieVegan Chocolate Chess Pie

I don’t know quite why I got such a hankerin’ for this pie, but I did and the first experiment was an epic fail resulting in an epic oven cleaning.

But this?  This is perfection!

Note: several hours before you plan to bake the pie, prepare the cashews:

1 cup roasted and lightly salted cashews or halves and pieces, covered with hot water in a small bowl and left to soak for 3 hours or until softened and most of water is absorbed, drained (you can use raw cashews, but I think the roasted have more of the desired rich flavor for this recipe)

1 1/2 cups natural granulated sugar (I like demerera)

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons plain soy or almond creamer

3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I like to use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 homemade or purchased 8-inch vegan pie crust, thawed (if frozen), and unbaked  (I used Marie Callender’s for the sake of time, but I much prefer homemade)

Optional accompaniments: powdered sugar, vegan whipped cream, or vegan vanilla ice cream

Optional garnish: whole cashew nuts or pecan halves

Preheat over to 300 degrees.  In a food processor, puree drawined cashews for 3 or so minutes until very smooth.  Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth and completely combined.  Scrape into thawed pie shell and gently smooth top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until set.  Cool on a wire rack, cover, and chill for a couple of hours before slicing and serving plain or with a drift of powdered sugar, a dollop of vegan whipped cream, or a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.  Garnish, if desired, with a cashew nut or pean half.

Print Friendly

Day 19: Kale & Sundried Tomato Pizza AND Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Kale Pizza(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.

Today I have a lot to write about, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. Tuesday night, Betsy DiJulio, the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, came to my house to cook with me!! So excited!!

Of course I did the usual when someone is coming over – vacuum up the dog hair, clean the bathroom (remember I have boys!) and clean my kitchen. But I wanted to impress so I chose an appetizer and a dessert from the book to make beforehand. I chose Orange-Espresso Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies. I followed the recipe exactly being super careful not to inadvertently put something non-vegan in them. Everything was going well until I went to get my coffee beans out to grind one teaspoon of espresso powder. I could not find them anywhere. I love those beans. I had bought them at a little coffee roasting shop on the way to Luray, VA – but they were nowhere. So I racked my brain to come up with an alternative. Finally I ripped open a little Keurig cup and ran it through my grinder to make it into powder. It worked! One teaspoon of “espresso” done!

Next step was the chocolate chips. That’s when I saw the word “vegan” before the words “chocolate chips”. Noooooo!! I had not even considered that my chips were not vegan. Since I didn’t have any idea where to start looking for vegan chips, I was not going to the store so I divided the dough in half. One half gets real chocolate chips and the other will be Orange “Coffee” Hazelnut Cookies. (Thankfully she brought an amazing dessert so we didn’t need them.) I did, however, bake a test batch before dinner and I must say that these cookies are incredible. I have a hard time believing that this dough does not have eggs. They bake up just like any other cookies. My son looked skeptical and politely declined them but later I found the half empty container on the counter so he must like them too.

Mushrooms with SherryThe appetizer I chose was Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta. I have been looking forward to trying this recipe for a while – it sounded so good! I loved putting this together with the obvious exception that I had to use my dumb food processor. Later in the evening I did learn that silken tofu is different than the refrigerated tofu I used but no matter – I think it came out great. [Betsy’s note: it was perfection!] I got a bit heavy handed with the red pepper flakes but no one seemed to mind. My son only had a problem with the gray color but once he tasted it, he was sold.

So now my preparations are done…until I sat down and read through the recipe we had chosen to make. The pizza dough for the Kale and Sundried Tomato Pizza takes two hours to rise! I decided if I didn’t take this part on by myself we would not be eating til 10 PM. Even though I have never made pizza dough, I put on the how-hard-can-it-be attitude and got busy. And it really wasn’t too hard. I did not cheat either. I really used wheat flour. I had bought this to make dog biscuits a while ago and it was sealed up in the back of my cabinet. Nothing flew out of it when I opened it so we were good to go.

As soon as I got the dough set up to rise, Betsy arrived. She came in with an amazing looking cake roll with salted caramel icing. OK we can skip dinner now! It turned out to be a girl’s night since my husband was out for the evening and my son left for his Krav Maga class. (Oh, before he left, he pulled out a container of pork BBQ leftovers from the fridge and starts eating it out of the container right there in the kitchen. I was cringing, hoping Betsy wouldn’t notice…but she did. She was so cool about though. And that’s my family!!).

Anyway we chose a wine and started cooking. She promised me I would love the kale but I was skeptical watching her cut it up. She insisted I try it raw. She ate hers, but mine ended up in the sink. Sorry! I couldn’t even pretend to like it raw. Not good! Next she started the “cheese.” This was not my area – you know how much I cheat with real cheese – so I stepped back and watched her make it. I loved it! Would I give up my cheese for it? No, but I really loved it.

Betsy Making Pizza CrustWhen the dough was done rising, she showed me how to press it out by hand into a circle. Then we prepared the pan to sauté the kale – I forgot to turn the burner on but that was the only glitch. We put the pizza together and got it into the oven. Then we got to just hang out, she met my turtle, Desiree, and we went outside to check out my herb garden. My dog Allie was already her best friend at this point. Before long the pizza was out of the oven and ready. We took some pictures (of course!) and then served it up.

My son was back from class at this point and joined us for dinner. We loved the pizza! Even with kale!! It was flavorful and salty and the kale was very tender. We agreed later it may have been too salty because I only had course sea salt and no grinder. [Betsy’s note: totally my fault; I cook with coarse sea salt and I just wasn’t careful–must have been the wine and the great conversation.]   My husband was quick to point out the saltiness too when he tried it later – this from a guy who snacks on bouillon cubes?! Really?

The time finally came when I could try the cake she brought. OMG! So good! As soon as she posts that recipe I will be lifting it right off her website.

We had so much fun cooking and laughing together but the time came when she did have to get back home to her puppies. I loved learning so many new ways of cooking healthier. I love that she is so non-judgmental about my family’s food choices and is supportive of how I am incorporating her amazing recipes into my way of life. She is one of the sweetest, most gracious people I know and I am glad I can call her my friend. It really was a great evening.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

Print Friendly

Day 18: Indian Cauliflower with Black Mustard Seeds AND Orange Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Indian Cauliflower(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today I decided to tackle two recipes. In the interest of full disclosure, my reason for this was that I had doubts about both dishes so I figured if I didn’t like the one then hopefully I would like the other.

So the first one is Indian Cauliflower with Black Mustard Seeds. Because I have put in my time at the grocery store spice displays, I had most of the spices needed…except for the elusive black mustard seed. I went to my usual stores and even went to Kroger which is out of my way, but I did it and got nothing. I even tried Target! I jokingly said that I could turn my own dang mustard seeds black – I’m a pro at burning things! So I ended up with regular mustard seeds. I followed along with the directions and while I am stirring the beautiful and now orange cauliflower (thanks to the turmeric), I was also stirring the “yellow” mustard seeds over high heat in the butter and oil.

I was feeling like a pretty accomplished cook stirring two pots at once and all of a sudden the mustard seeds started popping like popcorn – all over my arm and then all over the stove and counter tops! Who knew mustard seeds could do this?? There should have been a warning label! But seriously who tries popping mustard seeds? I quickly took it off the heat and looked in the pot and the remaining mustard seeds were, in fact, black. Well mission accomplished! There they are – black mustard seeds!

Orange Salad with Cumin VinaigretteThe recipe then said to “drizzle” the mustard seed mixture over the cauliflower – mine sorted of plopped over it in chunks but I spread them out to look like it was drizzled. While this one cooled a little I started on my next recipe – the Orange Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette. I gathered all the ingredients and discovered that the olives I had purchased especially for this from the olive bar at the grocery store were half gone. My husband admitted he just couldn’t help himself. Ok so now I am cutting the recipe in half – not a problem! (I knew they wouldn’t eat it anyway).

This recipe came together with no mishaps in about five minutes. It could not have been easier. The presentation was really pretty with the orange and green together. Now for the taste test. The cauliflower was good but it lacked the pizzazz of the other recipes according to my family. This was totally my fault for not using the correct mustard seeds and then only half the amount seeing as how the other half of the seeds were spread around my kitchen. The orange salad was really good but very intense so I decided I would add spinach leaves and make it more of a traditional salad. My guys would have nothing to do with this one (fruits have no place in their salads) so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

And…if I ever see black mustard seeds I am buying them and trying this again- as long as they are not the price of cardamon or saffron that is.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

Print Friendly

The Blooming Platter Cookbook in the News

The Blooming Platter Cookbook--The Gift that Lasts All YearThanks to our own Virginian-Pilot epicure, Lorraine Eaton, for sharing some good “eatin” via her “Cook It” piece in today’s paper on Kim Howard Hastings‘ journey through my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes. Lorraine masterfully wove together a glowing book review, excerpts of Kim’s delightfully real and funny posts, and a  couple of recipes in a concise piece with a photo.

Toque’s off to you both, Lorraine and Kim!

~Betsy

Print Friendly

Day 17: Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today’s recipe is the Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada. Spoiler alert: I will tell you now that this recipe got a rating of 4 in my book which is the highest rating possible.

To explain, my husband and I started this rating system during winery visits where we would write a number of 1-4 beside each wine we tasted. (The winery owners would get very excited thinking we were buying that many bottles!) Anyway this dish was so good I even packed up the leftovers to go on a trip so we could enjoy it again.

I always start by reading through the recipe and making sure I have everything. Check. Then I got started on the olivada so it would be ready when needed. I had purchased two tiny cans of olives thinking they were 6 ounce cans but no, they were 1.5 ounces. I have never been very good at estimating weights and measures clearly. So I used both cans but had to cut the other ingredients in half.

I went to my newly reorganized spice cabinet so proud that now I would be able to find everything I needed – but there was no oregano. How is that possible? I always have oregano. I tore through the cabinet from A to Z but there was none to be found. (Now I need to reorganize again.) No problem – I grow oregano in my herb garden. I have cultivated the same plant for 10 years and it has grown to be one of the largest plants I have. The leaves are dry now in winter but I can still use them. I grabbed my scissors and went out and…no oregano plant! Instead there was a huge hole! The dog had dug up my oregano plant and -ugh!!!!- replaced it with a gross toy! Are you kidding me?!! Things are going from bad to worse and I refuse to go to the grocery store for oregano. I finally decided to use a Greek seasoning I had on hand.

Once the olivada was done I took a taste and wow! I got some crackers out and started snacking while I started on the squash. The rest of the preparation was easy until I saw that I was supposed to have roasted the garlic. Too late – we are all hungry. So I just minced it and put it in the pan. One day I will try and roast a garlic but not today.

Arranging as instructed was like designing a work of art. It was beautiful when complete. I even used a cookie scoop to place the beans on the center of the fan of squash. Perfection!! Of course I got joked by the guys for taking the time to arrange a side dish, but one bite and they quickly stopped making fun of me. It goes without saying that this dish will be repeated many times in our household and I will definitely be making the olivada for parties.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

Print Friendly

Vegan Vanilla Cake Log with Fig Preserve Filling and Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting

Fig-Filled Vanilla Log Cake with Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: approximately 12 servings

The secrets to a rolled vegan cake revealed…

A rolled sponge cake made with eggs is child’s play, as the protein in the eggs add just the right pliable structure necessary to hold it together as it smoothly spirals like wrapping paper around a spool.

Not so much with vegan cakes.  It took me four attempts to get it right.  In the end, it turned out to be both a matter of ingredients and rolling technique (thank you Martha Stewart via my good friend, Sonya Harmon, who witnessed one of my epic fails).

In terms of ingredients, I ended up adding a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed meal as an egg substitute.  I don’t think you’ll find a single other recipe on this website that calls for flaxseed meal as it simply isn’t necessary or, sometimes, even desirable for most baked good.  For this one (an my other rolled cakes), it is critical.

Also, though I am not a big fan of xanthan gum–it quickly creates kind of a slippery, slimey, glue-like texture if you don’t use a very light hand, and is as expensive as heck–less than a teaspoon is key to the success of this recipe. (Here, a bag costs almost $12 on Kroger’s organics aisle.  I recommend buying a bag and sharing with a gluten-free baker friend.)

And, finally, sprinkling a hand towel with confectioner’s sugar–not granulated sugar as Martha Stewart recommends–turning the cake out onto it, and rolling it up with the soft towel, instead of the crinkly parchment paper used to line the pan, is essential.

Lastly, trimming the edges of the cake–so that even the slightest bit of browning doesn’t create a “crust” that refuses to bend nicely–and  not unrolling the cake completely flat to fill will yield the most satisfying results.

 

Vegan Vanilla Cake Log with Fig Preserve Filling and Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup soy or other non-dairy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

3/4 cup natural granulated sugar (I use demerera)

2 tablespooons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola or other neutral vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup Fig Preserves (or any preserves you prefer), brought to room temperature or gently warmed

Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Optional garnishes: shredded toasted coconut,, toasted if desired, chopped nuts, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a rimmed 10 x 15″ pan with non-stick spray.  Line with one sheet of parchment paper and spray lightly again.  Sprinkle a tea towel with a little powdered sugar in a 10 x 15″  rectangle.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk, vinegar, and flaxseed meal and set aside to curdle, making a thickened vegan buttermilk.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in canola oil, vanilla extract, and soymilk mixture.  Whisk together for 100 strokes until smooth.  (Whisking for a portracted time like this will develop gluten and, hence, structure.)  Transfer batter into prepared pan and gently smooth into the corners.  Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or just until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan for 3 minutes and then invert onto prepared tea towel.  Carefully peel off parchment paper.  With a very sharp knife, trim 1/8 inch of cake from all of the edges.  Working from a long side, fold the excess inch or so of towel over the edge of the cake and carefully roll up like a jelly roll.  Tuck edges under and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Carefully unroll, avoiding trying to flatten the cake completely.  Gently spread with preserves.  Reroll and place seam side down on a serving platter, nestling it onto a flattened side from the previous rolling.  Frost with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting and garnish with shredded cooconut and/or nuts.  Serve immediately or cover, refrigerate, and bring to room temperature before serving.

 

 

Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup vegan butter, divided in half

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegan cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 to 5 cups confectioner’s sugar (1 pound box)

Up to 1/4 cup non-dairy milk or creamer (e.g. soy, coconut, almond)

Optional for a frosting with even more body: up to 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

 

In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium-high.  Stir in dark brown sugar and simmer, stirring, for 2 to 3 minuutes or until a deeper brown with a caramel-y aroma; lower heat if necessary.  Remove pan from heat and pour caramel into a bowl.  Cool and then chill, covered, for a couple of hours or until cold.  Using an electric mixer, beat remaining half cup butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in chilled caramel mixture and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, thinning with non-dairy milk if desired.  For a frosting wtih even more body, beat in vegetable shortening, a couple of tablespoons at a time, again until desired texture is achieved.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly