Birth, death, illness, divorce, and distance–the stuff of life–altered the guest list from year to year, but essentially our culinary tradition remained intact, alternating between traditional-with-a-twist and very non-traditional thematic feasts: Cajun, Thai, American Diner, and more.
Finally, though, my parents have gotten to the age (81 and 86) where neither the drive nor the flight from MS is comfortably manageable, though my father still works part-time as an engineer and just drove them to and from Texas where my mother’s siblings live.
Last November, Mama took a spill in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in North Carolina on their way home–I told them that place was dangerous!–and they ended up in the local hospital. She was fine, if shaken, but the writing was on the wall.
So, though it made all of us a bit sad–as my mother said, “You think things will always be the same”–I suggested that we meet in New Orleans, an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from their home and a not-too-terrible flight from here. Grateful and enthusiastic, my folks booked us into the Chateau LeMoyne, a family favorite, and I made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Broussard’s, another family favorite since childhood. Joe is game–he thinks it’s the right thing to do– if a little skeptical, as it’s not “his” city in the way that it is ours; my sister and I were weaned on The Big Easy. And, though the decision was made too late for them to be with us this year, Joe’s sisters and our niece are hoping to join us every other Thanksgiving if our NOLA tradition continues.
Wherever you will be, whoever you will be with, and for whatever reason, my sincere hope is that you will find yourself deeply grateful for life’s gifts, even if, like us, they represent a “new normal.”
As a gesture of gratitude, over the next three weeks, I will serve up three new recipes–one per week–for a perfect, if slightly non-traditional, vegan feast. And I’m starting with dessert! Enjoy this moist, richly autumnal, and complexly flavored cake. It was a hit for a friend’s recent birthday and I’ve made it again for a small dinner tomorrow night for two girlfriends. Were we going to be at home, it would certainly be on our Thanksgiving menu.
Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake
1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Spiced Espresso Ganach (recipe follows)
Garnish: chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside. In a small cup, whisk together soymilk and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken. Place all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl in the order given, and whisk to combine. Add remaining wet ingredients including soymilk mixture and whisk 50 strokes or until lumps disappear. Avoid overbeating. Transfer into prepared bundt pan and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (65 minutes is perfect in my oven.) Allow to cool completely in pan, loosen around edges, top with serving plate, and and invert. Spoon ganache around the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the inside and outside edges and sprinkle with walnuts.
*Spiced Espresso Ganache
1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer (soy or coconut)
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
1/48to 1/4 teaspoong round cinnamon (adjust to suit taste)
Heat creamer to barely bubbling. Add chocoate chips. Allow to sit a couple of minutes and then whisk together until smooth and completely combined. Whisk in instant coffee or espresso powder and cinnamon. Allow to cool until a thick pourable consistency.
*I like to double the recipe, using the whole bag of chips, and save half for another decadent purpose!
A recipe from Rick Bayless–the iconic American chef steeped in traditional Mexican cuisine which he serves up, with a modern twist, at his Frontera Grill restaurants in Chicago and cooks up on his PBS series–inspired my vegan version (which I submitted to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!).
I spotted the recipe in “Chefs’ Weeknight Dinners” in the July 2014 issue of Food and Wine while on an airplane and knew it would be one of the first new recipes I created once I got back home.
I followed his recipe and method except for the eggs and the chocolate. For the 3 eggs, I substituted 1/2 cup mashed banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk, and an additional 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. I chose banana as I’m not a powdered egg replacement fan and the banana seemed both Mexican and compatible with chocoalte. (I think pureed pumpkin would also be a nice substitute.) And for the Mexcian chocolate, finely chopped, I simply subbed vegan mini chocolate chips. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla and a smidge more confectioners’ sugar for dusting.
The recipe is a cinch to make and very earthy due to the large amount of pumpkin seeds. It calls for just over a cup of sugar, but the pumpkin seeds are roasted and salted, so this unfrosted cak is not too sweet.
The result is deliciously different without being odd. The cake has a consistency somewhat similar to a blondie with chocoalte chips. But its flavor–with the banana virtually undetectable–is all its own, so I think you’ll love adding it to your repertoire.
1 3/4 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (any granulated sugar will work)
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
Optional: 1 tablespoon tequila
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup softened butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (unbleached all-purpose flour would also be fine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces vegan mini-chocolate chip (or chocolate/chocolate chips finely chopped)
2 tablespoons confecitoners’ sugar
Spray a 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Trace around the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out just inside the line. Place paper in greased pan and spray again. Sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and 2 tablespooons of turbinado sugar. In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds with the remaining 1 cup of turbinado sugar until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the banana, soymilk, optional tequila, vanilla, and butter, and process until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until incoproated. Add the chocolate and pulse until well distributed. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, gently smoothing to make an even layer over the pumpkin seeds. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean and edges are golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway though baking. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 1-8 inch square sheet cake (a 9 inch pan will make a cake that is too thin)
To make a 9 x 13 inch cake, double recipe and add a few minutes onto cooking time if necessary; avoid overbaking.)
I was introduced to the original version (vegetarian) of this cake at an Oscar’s party when I lived in Nashville. It is a winner for sure, to be enjoyed in moderation for the occasional splurge…of course.
My first attempt at veganizing the recipe was quite tasty. But the new and improved version is even more so: moister and fudgier.
When this year’s Oscar’s rolled around, I found myself craving this old-school favorite. Remembering that I had decided my recipe could use a good tweak, I looked up photos of the non-vegan original online and compared them to the photo of my first iteration. Yep, just based on appearance alone, I knew I needed to do better…and I did. I’m pretty sure this one can’t be improved upon!
Note: while you are welcome to use Coca-Cola or your favorite brand of traditional root beer, you might enjoy one of the natural brands.
This is the previous version…see the difference?!
With a lone bottle of root beer in the fridge from I-don’t-know-when (I rarely if ever drink a soda, even organic) and the mention of gingerbread in Donna Tartt’s latest novel, The Goldfinch (which I highly recommend), I woke up today dead-set on making a gingerbread bundt cake with that root beer. However, it seemed to need something else, as I have a delicious recipe for one with ginger and cola on The Blooming Platter and I was wanting to create something new.
I browsed around in the grocery store for just the right thing for my spicy cake, tucking an orange into my basket for some nice winter citrus notes, but I still wasn’t satisfied, as the other cake also includes orange. Putting away my few groceries, I noticed that I had both Calmyra and mission dried figs plus almond paste in the pantry. Perfect! My bundt cake would have a fig, pecan, almond paste, and orange zest tunnel of love.
Only the tunnel part didn’t quite work out. The filling dispersed itself into the batter creating a deeply complex, spicy and ultra-moist, rich mahogany brown cake. Heavenly. Is it worth creating the filling even if it doesn’t create a visual contrast through the middle of the cake? You bet it is! In fact, this cake is such a “winner” that I decided to enter it in the So Delicious 3-Course Recipe Contest because I use three of the delicious and nutritious So Delicious products in this one recipe!
8 Calmyra dried figs, stemmed and quartered
8 Mission dried figs, stemmed and quartered
3/4 cup organic root beer, heated
1 cup pecan pieces
Zest of 1 large navel orange
1/4 cup almond paste (I purchase it canned in the grocery store on the baking aisle)
1 tablespoon natural sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon brandy (bourbon or port would be lovely too)
Place figs in a small bowl and pour heated root beer over. Let sit for 30 minutes; drain, reserving root beer. In a food processor, pulse pecans a few times, add drained figs, pulse a few more times, then almond paste, and pulse again. Add remaining ingredients and pulse just until all ingredients are finally chopped, and coming together almost like a very textured cookie dough. Set aside while you prepare cake batter.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup So Declicious Coconut Milk
1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
1 cup root beer (1/4 cup from the drained figs + an additional 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Vegan Orange-Almond Glaze
Optional garnish: pecans and orange zest
Optional accompaniment: So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a srandard (10-inch) bundt pan. Place all dry ingredients, except baking soda, in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in all wet ingredients, except root beer. Whisk together just to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. In a small bowl, add baking soda to root beer–it will fizz–and then whisk root beer into the cake batter just until incorporated. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle filling evenly over the top sruface, and pour remaining batter evenly over filling to cover. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, loosen around both outside and inside edges with a plastic knife, and invert onto serving platter. Let cool. *Drizzle with glaze. Garnish if desired. Serve thin slices with a spoonful of yogurt if you like. Note: if you want to achieve utter decadence, brush cake with a tablespoon or two more brandy (or bourbon or port) before glazing.
Vegan Orange-Almond Glaze:
Juice of 1/2 of the previously zested orange
1 tablespoon non-dairy creamer (soy or coconut milk)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
For the next 12 days leading up to Christmas, it is my pleasure to share some of my most treasured vegan recipes, some old favorites and some brand new, perfect for this grand holiday.
I’m starting with dessert, as this recipe (from 2009) might take a little bit more preparation and planning than the others. However, when you present this beauty to your loved ones, the smiles on their faces and their oohs and ahs will make any extra little bit of effort entirely worth it.
Named after Southern Living Magazine’s annual cover cake for their December issue, “The Big White Cake” is a bit of a misnomer, for though the frosting is a luscious pillowy white, the cake is German chocolate. And between the rich layers is a festive–and lightly spiked–adaptation of traditional German chocolate cake filling with it’s nuts and coconut. Dried cranberries and citrus make it a true celebration of winter and gift of the season.
Sugared fruit guilds this delicious, impressive lily. And for all of its wow-power, “The Big White Cake” is really not difficult at all.
This week, I created a cupcake challenge for my Advanced and AP Art Students.
Entitled, “Hey Cupcake! What’s Up?,” it started on Thursday with them making beautiful sketches of 3 different kinds of vegan cupcakes: 2 from Whole Foods (an Oreo flavored and a peanut butter flavored), and 1 that I made: Red Velvet from the recipe for “Crimson Velvet” cupcakes in the fabulous cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa (who needs no last name, like Cher or Madonna…or Prince).
My students pronounced my cupcakes absolutely divine as opposed to Whole Foods’ pricey ones that had flavorless, dry cake and grainy frosting. They looked pretty but mine were delicious AND pretty…don’t you think?
So, I just want to put in a plug for the book. I have made and adapted SO many from that book and they never fail! Thanks Isa (Chandra Moskowitz)!
P.S. I’ll post images of my students’ finished artwork soon! But, in the meantime, here is a detail of my teacher sample entitled “She Wore Red Velvet.” Mine is about body image/eating disorder/food obsession. (Topics with which I am only too familiar from my teens/20s…and the residual.) Part of the piece is painted with coffee! I was up working on it after my husband and I went to dinner until 12:30 this morning. Did I earn an A? (Sorry about the image quality…it was taken this morning at 6:20 with my not-so-great ‘Droid camera phone on the kitchen counter!)
More searching turned up a vegan recipe, but it called for applesauce along with the mayo, and I don’t keep applesauce around. What I really wanted was a recipe that could be made from a standard baker’s pantry.
As I said in the card that accompanied this cake when I dropped it off to Independence Veterinary Hospital, where we have taken our pets for MANY years, “Thank you for many years of setting my mind at ease and easing me through when the news was unsettling.”
I decided to make them a little token of appreciaiton following my frantic Facebook message to our vet’s wife, Kim, who manages the practice, in which I said, “Minnie just ate about 10 olive pits before I took them out to compost! Is she going to be okay?” The answer was, “She’ll be fine,” and led to a funny–and disgusting–exchange about what our dogs have gotten into.
According to the thank you note she wrote, “the guys”– make that our vet, Brian Hastings, and his vet tech, son and one of our beloved dog-sitters, Dusten Keith–were dubious about eating a vegan cake. The horror! But evidently, “they loved it too.”
And so will you! The complex caramel-y notes of the organic cola adds depth to the flavor while the carbonation does wonderful things to the texture. Enjoy!
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup molasses
1 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweeted soymilk (plain would also be fine)
1/4 cup soy sour cream
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup canola oil (or other mild vegetable oil)
1 cup organice cola, such as Blue Sky Cola or China Cola (Stout beer is a tasty alternative to cola)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cinnamon-Sour Cream Glaze (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except baking soda, make a well in the center, and add all wet ingredients, except cola. Whisk to completely combine. In a small bowl or cup, whisk soda into cola. It will fizz up. Quickly whisk into batter until completely incorporated. Transfer the batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack, and cool for about 15 minutes. Loosen around all edges with a knife, being careful not to slice into the cake. (I use a plastic knife, as my pan has a non-stick surface, but I still grease and flour it!) Place serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Let cool and then glaze if desired.
Cinnamon-Sour Cream Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice (preferably, fresh squeezed) + additional for thinning if necessary
1 tablespoon vegan sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until very smooth. Thin with additional orange juice if necessary. Using a spoon, drizzle over cake. Garnish with a sprinkling of grated orange zest if desired.
This Coca-Cola Cake with Fudgy Frosting is yet more evidence that I have been having powerful winter cravings for Southern comfort foods!
How fun that these obsessions have led to quite a few brand new vegan recipes that I am delighted to share with you.
But, if you are thinking, “Ick. I would NEVER drink a Coca-Cola,” wait! There are a number of organic brands with deeply spicy notes and complex flavor that would be a perfect upgrade to this southern staple.
Enjoy the latest, this addicting cake, complete with back story and organic cola recommendations, on the Go Dairy Free website, the definitive site for all things non-dairy. Thanks to creator, Alisa Fleming!
I think I am obsessed with veganizing Cook’s Country/Cook’s Illustrated recipes!
My latest redux is their Classic Gingerbread Cake. And it is special!
It may well be the moistest and most deeply and complexly flavored cakes you will ever enjoy. I credit the Guinness Stout and the fresh grated ginger, among other things.