Daring Cooks

Ricotta Gnocchi

The people behind the Daring Bakers have started a new monthly cooking challenge called the Daring Cooks. I thought I’d sign myself up and give it a go. I’m glad I did. I’m beyond thrilled with the first challenge, Ricotta Gnocchi.

The very first thing that popped into my brain was the tofu ricotta recipe found in both Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance. I thought it would make a great base recipe for these delicate gnocchi. As I set out to make these I was pretty sure that it was going to be a huge FAIL, which has been a common feeling for me lately while trying out new ideas. Was it dumb to add some vital wheat gluten and miso paste? What about the tablespoon of melted butter that the original (non vegan) recipe called for? Why did I just ignore the fact that the recipe called for 2 eggs and I used no egg replacement at all?  I pretty much felt like I was wasting my precious Reno is napping I can do whatever I want time.

After I dropped my test piece of gnocchi into the simmering water my hopes were lifted since it didn’t just disintegrate into nothing. It dropped to the bottom and a minute or two later it floated to the top of the pot and was cooked. I fished it out and let it rest on the cutting board for a minute before cutting it in 1/2 and tasting it. Delicious! It was cheesy, it was pillowy, it was everything I thought it WOULDN’T be!!!! I was so surprised that it wasn’t just some ball of tofu that had all the flavor boiled out of it. I can’t wait to eat these again!

Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi

1 recipe of V’cons or VwaV tofu ricotta
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, melted
1 tablespoon mellow miso
about 2 cups All-purpose flour

1. Make the tofu ricotta according to the recipe in either book. Just make sure to mash it well until it is as smooth as you can make it. I use a spatula and press it against the bowl.

2. Stir in the Vital Wheat Gluten. Mix for a minute to help get the sticky gluten going.

3. Add the melted butter and miso paste and stir until all the ingredients are combined.

At this point bring a medium size pot of salted water to a boil and then lower to a simmer.

4. Dump the flour into a shallow dish.

5. Scoop 2-3 teaspoons of ricotta and form into oval shaped gnocchi and drop onto the flour plate. Cover the entire ball with flour. ONLY MAKE 1 GNOCCHI TO START. THIS IS YOUR TEST PIECE

6. Drop the single gnocchi into the simmering water. It should hold together*** and fall straight to the bottom of the pot. After a minute or 2 it will rise to the top. Remove it immediately.

7. If the test piece of gnocchi comes out in one piece then congratulations! Finish making the rest of them and cook a few at a time.

***If it breaks apart there is probably too much liquid in the dough. I didn’t have this problem but if you do I would suggest adding more vital wheat gluten or maybe some all purpose flour to the rest of the gnocchi dough to help hold it together more.

8. Serve ASAP with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

April Daring Bakers

Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Okie. I’m a few days late with my April Daring Bakers post.  I have no excuses except that I just forgot when the posting date was.

I was excited to see that this months challenge was a Cheesecake since I’ve never made one, vegan or not. I’ve definitely eaten my share though. I was also happy that we could go with whatever flavor we wanted. I decided to go for Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter. It was an unusual choice for me since I have never been a fan of anything milk chocolate.  The peanut butter was a last minute decision and a good one at that. Just before I was pouring the cheesecake batter onto the crust I had the wonderful idea of spreading a nice layer of natural creamy peanut butter on the crust first.

As usual while I was baking the cheesecake I was sure it would be a total FAIL. Especially since I made up the recipe on the fly and have never made a cheesecake.  I dutifully let it continue baking though and cooled it down properly in the fridge until set. I went off to my yoga class, came home and ate some quinoa and beans and then cut a slice of the cheesecake.

I first surprised at how well it set up. I was then surprised at how tasty it was. The chocolate was very light tasting and definitely “milky” with a nice hint of cinnamon. The peanut butter was a glorious addition although next time I make it I’ll spread more on.  I’m really excited about this new recipe. It needs it’s little tweaks here and there like maybe more cream cheese and less tofu and a tad more sugar. It needs a bit more of that cream cheesey tang that I remember from real cheesecake. Overall I think this might turn out to be a great “base” recipe that I can change up the flavors however I want in the future.

p.s. sorry for the all BOLD post. I don’t even have my bold setting on as I type this. I’m too busy today to figure out why this is happening.


Indian Pakoras

I’m without my husband this week due to his yearly work trip to Indianapolis. The trip is always “perfectly” timed so that he is away on our anniversary usually, which is today. To celebrate, alone, I decided to make myself a yummy dinner of Indian Pakoras using: carrots, potatoes, onions, spinach, cilantro, chickpea flour and spices..etc… Since our new kitchen isn’t all unpacked yet I didn’t have some tools that I needed so I made them a different way. Which didn’t really work out in the end.

I’ve lost this special shredding blade for my Quisenart. My hand grater in still packed as is my vegetable peeler. So I had to thinly slice everything by hand. Its no biggie, I like doing it and it’s good knife skills practice if I ever to go work in a kitchen again. Unfortunately though for this recipe you need them shredded with the help of a device. You miss the natural liquid from the potatoes that helps with moisture and to bind it all together. I had to add more oil then I like and then fry it in more oil and it turned into an oily mess. I actually couldn’t finish eating it. Which is rare and threw every last bit of it away. So sad.

On a good side though they were more flavorful then they usually are! The perfect amount of spice and my house doesn’t smell like curry.

Hidden Greens

Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy over Mashed Potatoes with Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts w. Joanna Tester Sausage

If you like a certain vegetable and no one else in your family does you have to get creative if you want to eat it but don’t want to just make it for yourself. That vegetable for me is Brussels Sprouts. My husband hates them. I’m not sure if Reno likes them or not but I wasn’t going to take a chance. She’s been on a I don’t eat vegetables kick (little does she know how many veggies she is really eating).

I’m not a fan of frozen veggies but I find myself using them more and more because its easier with our daughter. So I bought a bag of the frozen sprouts and dumped them into the pot of almost boiled potatoes along with some frozen string beans. Drained em. Mashed em with some Earth Balance and non dairy milk. Served them with VwaV’s Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy and breakfast sausage, fennel and seitan based, I made as a tester for Joanna’s new Yellow Rose cookbook.

I’m happy to report that all of it was eaten by the 3 of us. Later I confessed to my husband that he had indeed eaten brussels sprouts for dinner. He didn’t seem to mind since the whole meal tasted so good.

Veggie Heaven, Montclair New Jersey

Roast “Pork” Lo Mein from Veggie Heaven

You know what sucks? Moving. You know what doesn’t suck? Lunch at Veggie Heaven in Montclair NJ. Its one of our favorite places to go. Why? One..because it’s really the only all veg place we got. Two..Reno loves their “Chicken” Nuggets. Three…the staff loves our child and it’s cool if she runs around like the mad women that she is.

I get obsessed with certain dishes there and will only order that for months and months then switch to something else. Their Roast “Pork” Lo Mein is something I always switch back to here and there on a regular basis. I love the noodles, I love the “pork” and I love the big chunks of scallions. I could do without the cabbage but I put up with it anyway.

“Chicken” Nuggets

The one thing I can count on her always eating at a restaurant are these damn “chicken” nuggets. They are fabulous! They come with a nice spicy-ish sauce that we keep away from her. She dipped once into it and it wasn’t a fun time. Its hard for Peter and I not to steal to many of these from her.

Spring Rolls

Better then the frozen ones I keep in my freezer.

Scallion Pancakes

Our one true love. I don’t think there has ever been a time where we haven’t ordered these. We use to order 1 for each of us. Now we split one and order the above spring rolls or something smaller (usually).

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