Fun Foods for Festivities | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Four

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Party! Canapés, finger foods, something to share.

Guess what? We already have our annual winter holiday party scheduled. People’s calendars fill up fast come December, so we decided to send out the evites nice and early this year. I’ve also started thinking about the menu. Typically we like to set out a massive spread of savories, sweeties, and lots of drinks, and I doubt we’ll stray from that formula this year. But I am toying with the idea of a more themed menu — like, maybe I’ll feature recipes from different countries. We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a slightly blurry shot of last year’s spread — with bonus Moria butt under the table. This was our first holiday party in the new house!

Holiday party 2016

Here’s a tentative list of what we’ll prepare for our lucky guests, heavily inspired by last year’s menu.

  • Savories:
    • Homemade vegan cheeses
      • One of Maple Spice’s almond-based cheeses — you can’t go wrong with these!
      • A nut-free cheese ball from Vegan Richa; this one is particularly yummy
      • A third cheese, probably one of Miyoko’s
    • Crackers!
    • Hot caramelized onion-bacon dip — we are pretty much contractually obligated to serve a double batch of this dip at every party.
    • Sliced baguettes for dippin’
    • Veggie crudités, also for dippin’
    • One more dip, perhaps a mushroom pâté
    • One or two more little nibbles. Last year I made lasagna bites and Steven made sausage rolls, so we’ll do something along those lines again.
  • Sweeties:
    • Maple fudge
    • A couple batches of cookies. Duh. I think I’d like to bring back Isa’s Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles; I haven’t made these in ages and they’re so good.
    • Candied nuts, ‘cuz they’re good for easy snackin’.
    • Some kind of cake, or maybe gingerbread?
  • Sippables:
    • Mulled wine
    • Assorted beer, wine, and hard liquor
    • Various mixers (cranberry juice, apple cider)
    • At least one cocktail — maybe something featuring aquafaba, because I’m digging it in flips and fizzes lately.

If you have any recommendations, share away! And if this post seems familiar, you’re right — I posted a similar one last year during MoFo. :) You’re all invited to this year’s party!

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Restaurant Dishes I Have Known | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Three

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Fancy AF. Dazzle us with your haute cuisine or gourmet dishes.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am going to take some, ahem, creative license with the prompts this week. I alluded to it earlier this month, but I just haven’t approached this year’s VeganMoFo with much of my usual gusto. The trend continues this week. I’m tired; I’m busy with freelance work on top of my full-time work; I’m not in the mood to spend hours on fancy meals. We just adopted another dog (more on her later!); Steven’s not eating added sugar, so what’s the point of making yummy desserts; I’m stressed out by the horrible political climate in my country; sexist jerks on Facebook have gotten me down; the list continues.

It’s been difficult enough to follow the prompts up till now, but this week’s batch? Even worse. Terrifically worse! I have zero interest in spending hours with fiddly little cakes or troublesome sheets of fondant or the massive Thanksgiving-inspired hot water crust pie I briefly toyed with making. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I rebel!

So! Here’s what I’m doing instead: Showing you photos of restaurant meals I’ve known and loved but mostly haven’t shared here, because that’s about as fancy as I’m going to get. (Case in point: For breakfast today I ate leftover buckwheat porridge, and lunch will probably be a lentil soup we recently dug out of the bowels of the freezer. Dinner is anyone’s guess. I will accept deliveries of vegan pizza; enquire within for my mailing address.)

…and now, having gone back through about a year’s worth of photos on my phone, I’ve seen too many photos of Luna and I miss her so much.

HAPPY FREAKING MONDAY. Here, let’s distract ourselves with food.

Vegan roast from 222 Veggie Vegan in LondonAn incredible take on a classic roast from 222 Veggie Vegan in London. From the menu: “Hearty vegetarian roast with potato and parsnip mash laced with fragrant herbs. Served with onion gravy and steamed french beans.”

Gosh, this was SO flavorsome. Perfect textures, just the right amount of seasoning, and a massive vat of tasty onion gravy with which to smother everything. Oh, I loved this dish so much, and what a gem of a restaurant! We went there on our last night in London on a bit of a whim (more to come on that trip later!) and it was such a perfect way to end our holiday. I haven’t heard too much about this place but we both loved our meals.

Beet carpaccio

Beet “carpaccio,” just one of the many — many! — dishes we enjoyed on our all-vegan (!) cruise of the Norwegian fjords last month. More posts to come on that experience!

Vegan Irish coffee

Vegan Irish coffee, also on our cruise. Steven and I both indulged in many of these tasty treats, usually while lazing away an afternoon reading. Vegan introvert perfection.

Soup and sandwich at Kaf in Bergen, NorwayThe one meal we paid for in Norway because we were going to miss lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner on the boat that day!

We stopped at Kaf, a tiny veg-friendly cafe in the adorably quaint Bryggen section of Bergen. I opted for a combo meal, which included a spiced sweet potato lentil soup and a half sandwich. The latter was topped with avocado, tomatoes, radish, mango, a balsamic reduction, and a piquant pesto. Steven had a full sandwich with lots of veggies, including tender slices of roasted eggplant. Everything was tasty, fresh, and clearly made with care. So good. So expensive. I’m glad we didn’t have to pay for any other meals in Norway — ouch!

Porridge from 26 Grains in London

Fancy AF porridge from 26 Grains in London. Nordic Pear on the left; Plum and Bay on the right. This is probably the most hipster thing I’ve ever spent money on but it was goooood. (So was their oatmilk flat white.) I need to improve my own oatmeal game!

Crabcake from Great Sage in Maryland

The drool-worthy crabcake from Great Sage — our one and only “local” fully vegan restaurant — during a pre-work-trip brunch this summer. This is a do-not-miss classic at Great Sage!

Carrot lox salad at Great Sage

My 30th birthday dinner from this past March, also from Great Sage! I had their carrot “lox” salad and an order of the amazing cheesy spinach and artichoke dip. The dip was good as ever, but the lox was just too salty. Luckily I saved room for dessert!

Vegan meal at Seasons 52Steven’s mom got married about a year ago, and we all went to Seasons 52 for a late lunch after their sweet little courthouse wedding. This fancier-than-my-usual-dining-establishment has a separate vegan menu!

I chose the vegan paella, which comes with roasted asparagus and a grilled kohlrabi steak on the side. Truthfully, I don’t remember many details about the meal; it was a year ago! They also have a great bar, and I enjoyed a really nice Old Fashioned or two. We’re heading back to this restaurant in a couple weeks to celebrate the couple’s one-year anniversary. :)

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Vegan Buckwheat Porridge | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Two

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Unconventional grains:  Cooking with freekeh, buckwheat, sorghum, etc. – try something you wouldn’t usually!

Ever since I had a surprisingly delicious bowl of buckwheat porridge in Amsterdam earlier this year, I’ve been meaning to recreate it at home. Turns out it’s spectacularly simple to whip up — just soak raw buckwheat groats for an hour or so, then blend them with your favorite nondairy milk, spices, and a sweetener, if you’d like.

Raw buckwheat porridge // govegga.com

I made mine with almond milk, medjool dates, and lots of cinnamon, then topped the porridge with frozen blueberries, toasted sliced almonds, volunteer ground cherries from my garden, toasted coconut, and more cinnamon. I made a big ol’ container’s worth, too, so my breakfasts for this week are covered. I’ve only tried it chilled, but I bet it’ll be great warm, too. And I’m looking forward to experimenting with the “recipe” — there are so many ways you can play with it!

If you’d prefer an actual recipe, give this one or this one a shot. This one adds chia seeds and looks great too!

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Potatoes 24/7 | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-One

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Making the humble potato the star of the show.

Considering I shared a potato-centric recipe just the other day, indulge me in a little fun today. I’m going to propose a day wherein one eats potatoes FOR EVERY MEAL! Just white potatoes. No sweet potatoes, yams, or any other sneaky tubers. It’s starchy white potatoes all the way through.

Vegan potato farls (Irish potato scones) // govegga.comBREAKFAST

Start your day the potato way — with vegan Irish potato farls! A favorite from last year’s VeganMoFo, these pan-fried triangles of potato-y dough make for a real stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. Pair them with some kind of vegan sausage for added Irishness, and be sure to have a pot of tea on hand.

Other breakfast options:

Crispy hash brown haystacks! Or this outta-control tater tot hot dish.

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato SaladLUNCH

May I suggest an unorthodox option? Make potato salad your main meal and pair it with a protein side (a veggie burger patty, bunless?). Alternative: If it’s a chilly day, how about hot soup? This creamy caramelized potato-onion soup should fit the bill!

Other lunch options:

Peruvian purple potato soup, perhaps? Or these chipotle potato cakes alongside a big ol’ salad.

Spicy Potato Casserole with Tofu ChorizoDINNER

No question — I’m going with my spicy potato casserole! It’s a tasty, filling, and unexpected take on a gratin-like dish. Make your own tofu chorizo or use store-bought.

Other dinner options:

Vegan colcannon, most definitely! Or a jacket potato stuffed with vegan haggis, like the one I just loved in Edinburgh. (There’s a link to a vegan haggis recipe in this post.)

BONUS SWEETS!

Mashed potato candy?! I’ve never tried it, but it’s a thing!

So. Would you try an all-potato day? What dishes would you include?

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Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream | Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Deconstructed dish: Hipster style food. Serving it on a slate is optional.

I was tossing and turning the other night, awoken by a thirsty Moria who’d gotten up for a midnight drink, when the idea came to me: deconstructed pies. Pie crust — turned into individual crisps. Pie filling — turned into dip for said crisps. Whipped cream — because duh. A hands-on eating project where you have completely control over your pie-to-filling ratio.

It was, apparently, a better idea than the one I’d been planning on for this prompt: deconstructed pierogies, basically potato-onion patties, pan-fried and served with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and cashew sour cream. Those fell squarely into the MoFo fail category; I tried making them in September and they were… not good. Gluey and dense, the patties reminded me more of a make-your-own-paste project than pierogies in any form.

Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousseHappily, this deconstructed pie idea worked out much better. Although I think apple pie would’ve been lovely here — I’m imagining dipping the crust crisps into gooey apple-y filling — I opted for pumpkin, simply because I had a can on hand and knew I could whip up a mousse-like dip easily. This recipe is more like a template; play with it to create the deconstructed pie of your dreams!

Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream

Makes a whole lot

  • 1 recipe your favorite pie crust recipe (I used this one, swapping in 1/4 almond meal for some of the flour and using half coconut oil alongside the shortening.)
  • 1 recipe pumpkin mousse (I used this one, but used just two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup. It’s not super sweet, so adjust accordingly. I also added spices to taste.)
  • 1 recipe aquafaba whipped cream or coconut whipped cream (The former is nice and light, while the latter is richer and creamier.)

First, prepare your pie crust dough according to the recipe’s instructions, including preheating the oven and lining a pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough to a little less than 1/4″ thick, then cut into triangles. (I cut around a small plate, then sectioned that into eight triangles.) Move the triangles to a baking pan. Optionally, brush with aquafaba and sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake according to directions — mine took about 17 minutes. Don’t overcook!

While the crisps are baking, prepare the mousse and whipped cream according to your recipes.

Remove crisps from oven when just barely golden. Let cool before serving.

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Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousse // govegga.com

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Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Nineteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
A dish with five ingredients or fewer (not including cooking oil and salt and pepper)

Spicy potato-chorizo hash! Two of the five ingredients are right there in the name, and the other three are not too tricky to guess: onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. This versatile recipe does involve a fair amount of chopping, but it’s relatively painless and makes a great lazy dinner or brunch side dish. For the chorizo, I use my go-to — the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s — but any product with lots of flavor will work here. I keep seasonings to a minimum since the chorizo adds heat, and the onion and garlic provide quite a bit of flavor. If you’re not limited to five ingredients, go ahead and add some spices: paprika, Mexican oregano, or anything your heart desires.

Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hashIn the past, I’ve simply sautéed the potatoes from raw, but they end up taking forever to cook through and often break down and get crumbly. So this time I experimented with kitchen genius J. Kenji López-Alt’s method: par-cooking with vinegar before sautéing. He says it helps them retain their shape and stand up to the sauté pan a little better, and in my single test of his method, it worked great! I’ve written the instructions with this method in mind, giving you tips for what to do at each step.

Although I sometimes cook everything in the same pan, staggering the time I add each ingredient, my favorite cast-iron pan can’t really accommodate this larger recipe. So I’ve written the instructions to cook the onion, pepper, and garlic together, and then the potatoes and chorizo. If you halve this recipe or have a massive pan, you can cook everything together.

Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash

Serves four

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, diced into 3/4” cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 9 oz. (3/4 package, if you’re using TJ’s) vegan chorizo
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, heat a pot of water with about a tablespoon of vinegar. While it’s heating up, prepare the veggies: dice the onion, mince the garlic, and dice the bell pepper. Add cooking oil of choice to a cast-iron pan (or other pan of choice) and heat to medium, then add the onions and peppers.

When the water boils, add the diced potatoes and cook for 7-10 minutes or until just tender (not cooked through). Drain and set aside briefly.

While the potatoes are boiling, monitor the sauteéing veggies. When the onions start turning translucent, add the garlic. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, till everything is moderately soft. (I like my peppers to retain a little crunch.) When all the veggies are done, remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and add the boiled potatoes. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until just about tender, then crumble in the chorizo. When the potatoes are completely fork-tender, turn off the heat and stir in the veggies.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup or hot sauce.

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Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hash // govegga.com

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Chocolate Deliciousness | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eighteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Today is Chocolate Cupcake Day,
but you can make anything you want with chocolate!

This VeganMoFo, I tell ya. I’ll be honest: I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t been able to share as many brand-new original recipes as I’d have liked. Chalk it up to a few factors — being on vacation during the first few days of the month; being busy with freelance work; various recipes failing on the first try — but there it is.

Today, another sob story: I wanted to share a recipe for a super chocolaty banana soft serve, but alas, my bananas did not cooperate. They were either too ripe (like, I put them in the freezer when they were black  and smooshy and now their only possible use is for banana bread) or too unripe (I refuse — REFUSE — to eat bananas when any green is showing on the stem).

Then I thought I might make some chocolate aquafaba mousse, because I’ve never made one that truly succeeded. But Steven is avoiding added sugar at the moment, and I didn’t want to make something he couldn’t eat. (And I do think some sugar is required for a dish like this.)

Then I got sick! It’s a minor cold, but I am not up to the triple threat that is preparing a post for a new recipe (cooking the food and documenting the recipe; staging and photographing the food; editing the photos of the food). So, instead, please accept this  chocolate recipe round-up — and my sincere apologies for not giving you more. Luckily I’ve already made and shot the recipe for tomorrow, so at least I’ll have something new to share then! In the meantime… CHOCOLATE.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Vegan brownies

Vegan chocolate cookies and bars

  • Isa’s fantastic Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles. I haven’t made these in a while, but they’re always amazing.
  • Chocolate peppermint crinkles — perfect for the holidays!
  • Chocolate-covered cookie dough bars.

Vegan chocolate cakes, pies, and tarts

Vegan chocolate puddings and frozen treats

Vegan chocolate drinks, boozy and not

Vegan chocolate candies and fudge

  • KINDER BUENO BARS, veganized. I really, really need to make these.
  • Five-ingredient salted caramel peanut butter truffles.
  • Chocolate-topped buttercrunch toffee. Yes, please.
  • Good ol’ fashioned fudge.

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Vegan Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Seventeen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Let’s get boozy! Food involving booze, like beer brats, Welsh rarebit or a boozy dessert. Feel free to make a non-alcoholic version if you prefer.

It is perhaps not in the spirit of this prompt to offer up a recipe for a drink. But I made this delightful hot beverage the other night and knew I had to share, so I’m flouting the rules.

You might recall the hot molasses mug I shared during VeganMoFo 2014. It remains one of my favorite cold-weather beverages, a surprisingly nutritious and warming drink that’s superbly easy to prepare. Not satisfied leaving well enough alone, however, I took it a step further this weekend and added a healthy pour of my favorite maple liqueur. Holy smokes! It’s delicious, and just in time for the cooler weather. Forget hot toddies; this spiked hot maple-molasses mug is my new favorite boozy drink for the cold months.

Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug For added deliciousness, I topped my mug with aquafaba whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Additions like those are optional but delicious. ;)

(As a side note… did you know that you can make a single (well, single-ish) serving of aquafaba whipped cream with a  powerful immersion blender?! Game changer! I didn’t even bother with the cream of tartar and it worked fine.)

A caveat: If you’re not fortunate enough to have maple liqueur in your liquor cabinet, you can most likely substitute about 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup and a scant shot of bourbon or something similar. I haven’t played with alternatives like that, so let me know if you try it! Or go buy some maple liqueur. It’s worth it.

Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug

Serves one

  • 1 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 shot (or more?!) maple liqueur
  • Dash pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, warm the almond milk until it begins steaming. (You can also microwave it if you’d like.) Transfer to a mug and add the molasses, maple liqueur, and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until combined. Enjoy.

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Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug // govegga.com

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Survival Food | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Sixteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Survival food: There’s a zombie apocalypse!  What can you make
from just canned or foraged food?

So… at what stage is the apocalypse? Like, is society so far gone that we have no electricity? Have I depleted all my other shelf-stable provisions? What season is it? I need more information!

‘Round these parts, I could “forage” fresh veggies (well… tomatoes) from my garden during the spring and summer, and herbs for a bit longer. Depending on the season, paw-paws and various berries (black- and rasp-) are pretty abundant in parks and along the roads. Dandelion greens are probably pretty easy to snag, too. And I could always loot a nursery for edible flowers.

I guess that if the apocalypse were nigh and I had time to prepare, I would stock my pantry with beans and other shelf-stable items that don’t require cooking for safety. I would also make a ton of vegan jerky and try to vacuum-seal it or something. I dunno, man.

Meh. This prompt doesn’t really excite me. I considered making like, a mixed-bean salad or something that doesn’t need to be cooked, but I didn’t actually want to eat it.

Here’s a picture of Moria instead. Good thing her dog food is shelf-stable!

Moria on my lap

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Spice Drawer Tour | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Fifteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Spicy! Talk us through your spice rack or cook with your favourite spice.

Well, since I’ve already let y’all in to my kitchen, I might as well own up to my shameful spice situation! Here it is: I store my spices in five very different spots throughout the kitchen, because no one cupboard or hidey-hole provides easy enough access to them. Sigh!

Kitchen tour - spicesI buy quite a few of my spices in bulk, which makes these racks and spice jars from good ol’ Ikea just perfect. Here I keep things like turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and mustard seeds, among others. They’re within easy reach when I’m cooking and don’t look too shabby on the wall there. You can’t see in this photo, but many of the jars are labeled on the side thanks to my handy label-maker. Ideally I’d have all my spices easily accessible like this (and all bought in bulk), but I think those racks would need to be floor to ceiling to accommodate everything!

Kitchen tour - spicesHere is my most shameful spice storage area. Located in the cupboard to the left of my sink, this is where all the oddly shaped and less-commonly-used spices typically wind up. In there you’ll find a little of everything: a box of cinnamon sticks, a bag of mace, a jar of Jamaican curry powder I nabbed from the free table at work, and various spice and seasoning blends I’ve been gifted. It’s all just crammed in there and I’m quite ashamed of the disorder. At least it’s well hidden by a cupboard door most of the time… that’s helped make the situation more palatable! I really really need to clean out my cupboards and rearranged everything, but I’ve yet to dedicate the time to that arduous task.

Kitchen tour - spicesMoving on… a slightly more organized storage site: The drawer to the right of the stove, which is a fairly typical spice drawer. Here’s where all the jars and small containers wind up. Some are rarely used (poppy seeds, caraway seeds, the “pie spice” blend I also rescued from the free table) while others have been refilled with new spices (see the crossed-out label on the cumin jar?). This is also our junk drawer, as you can see, and quite frankly I’m proud it’s really only a quarter-sized junk drawer and not a full one! (Side note: That “everything bagel” seasoning blend from Trader Joe’s is THE BEST. )

Not pictured here is the carousel rack of really really old spices I “inherited” when Steven and I moved in together; it came from his apartment and I frankly shudder to think how old some of them are. But I hate waste, so… there they remain. And honestly, I do occasionally use them. It’s not like spices go bad; they just become less potent. Six giant shakes of “poultry seasoning” it is, then!

Finally, there’s one more cupboard with spices, but this one is high above my sink and functions as storage for the bulk bags of spices that I then mete out into the glass jars in smaller quantities. I don’t feel too badly about this particular spice shelf since it’s difficult to reach without a stool. It seems like a pretty good use of the space.

So! There it is. My shameful distribution of spices. If you have a great idea of how to consolidate everything, I’m all ears!

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