Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lime Infused Coconut Cake

I continue to work on my baking skills.  I still do not love baking but I am getting better at it. This cake is proof- I did it in one try and it came out of the pan in one piece.  And, it tasted good, too!



The cake is a variation of the Tuscan Lemon Cake from Betty Goes Vegan. I love the base cake recipe- super moist and easy to adapt for whatever flavor you want. Today, it was coconut and lime.

I baked the cake to bring to a family gathering at the Jersey shore where we will celebrate my son's sixteenth Birthday.  I am bringing a cake mostly for selfish reasons;  I want to be able to indulge while with family and celebrating with my son. Of course I hope they will enjoy it too!

Since I will be sharing this cake with those I love most I had to take out a piece to taste test before serving.  I will say, it passes with flying colors. Each of my kids tasted a bite, too and they gave it a two thumbs up.

Here's to a very happy Birthday to Max! May sixteen be your best year yet!

Coconut Lime Infused Cake

For the cake:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (do not mix with water)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp lime zest
1 tsp coconut extract
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the glaze:
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp So Delicious Lite Culinary Coconut Milk
1 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
Lime zest for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl add the sugar and vegan butter. Beat with a hand mixer at high speed until smooth and creamy.  Add the applesauce and egg replacer.  Beat until well incorporated.

In a second bowl mix add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk until well combined.

Add a small amount of flour to the butter/sugar mixture and continue to mix with the hand mixer. When blended add a small amount of the coconut milk and continue to beat with the hand mixer.  Continue alternation  the flour mixture and coconut milk until they are gone and you have a smooth batter. Add the shredded coconut, lime zest, juice and coconut extract and beat quickly until combined.

Spray a bundt pan with baking spray.  Add the batter and smooth the top to be sure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and poke about fifteen shallow holes using a bamboo skewer.  Set aside and allow to cool fully.

When the cake has cooled remove fro the bundt pan by turning it upside down on a serving platter or cake board.

To make the glaze whisk the confectioners sugar with the coconut milk until smooth. Add the lime juice and continue to whisk. You may adjust the consistency for a thinner glaze, if desired, by adding a more coconut milk a teaspoon at a time.  Pour over the top of the cake and garnish with lime zest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blossoming Lotus- Portland, Oregon

Anyone that is vegan is acutely aware that Portland, Oregon is considered something of a vegan Mecca.  I have not been to Portland since going vegan in 2009.  When a business trip presented the opportunity to go to Portland I figured I should maximize my time to frequent at least one vegan restaurant.



After inquiring with the Twitterverse and checking out the dinner menu I decided on Blossoming Lotus.  How could I not? The very first item listed on the menu was Baked Brie.  Vegan baked brie?  Oh my, I have not ever even dared to imagine such a thing!

As soon as I arrived in Portland I dropped my things at the hotel and headed out in a cab to Blossoming Lotus. While for most of Portland it was lunchtime, my East Coast stomach was telling me it was dinner time. One small problem-- when I arrived they were serving lunch and the lunch menu did not include the Baked Brie.



After letting my server know that I had traveled 2400 miles to come to the restaurant and that I had my heart set on the Baked Brie she inquired with the chef and they agreed to make it for me! And, let me tell you- It. Was. Awesome.  So creamy and smooth and topped with a fig jam; truly heavenly.  I ate the WHOLE thing!



As if that were not enough I went on to order a Trio of Tacos- Thai, Black Bean and Kimchi and Jamaican Jerk Tempeh.  Wow, they were good. Complex flavors, nicely seasoned and a bit of heat. I ate all three!



At this point you could have rolled me out of the restaurant. But, I spied on a blackboard at the counter that the Soft Serve of the day was Almond Butter.  Soft Serve? Vegan Soft Serve?  I have never had such a thing and it really did not matter how full I was I was going to try it. Oh my. So creamy and delicious. Just as good as any dairy alternative.



I have one more night left in Portland. Please let me know if you have a recommendation for another great vegan place!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market- St. Paul, MN

First things first. Chef Lenny Russo- what will it take to bring you to Philadelphia?  As a born and bred Philly gal, I am of the firm believe Philly has the best restaurant scene, bar none. And Chef Lenny, the Executive Chef and proprietor of the Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market in St Paul, belongs with the best.



While traveling in St, Paul, a quick Internet search to look for a good vegan restaurant revealed that they don't really have one. And for once, I am thankful for that, as I might not have found the Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market. After coming up short on the vegan restaurant search, I simply Googled "Best Restaurant in St. Paul" and up popped Heartland.



After a glance at the menu I figured I would give it a try. When I tell you this is the BEST vegan meal I have had in a restaurant (including both vegan and non vegan) I am not kidding!  I have had some really great meals in some really great vegan places- and I have to say, this may be better than any of them.



The ingredients are all locally sourced, and other than the cheese, everything is made on site. The meal far surpassed any expectations I had.  From the architecture of the building, the attentive and friendly nature of the staff and the culinary excellence I was totally blown away.



Everything was flavorfully complex and delicious. The pickled carrot and pepper with a creamy hummus to start was divine.  The chilled summer squash soup was a delicious balance of sweet and spicy with the addition of chili oil. The cilantro and fried squash blossom were the perfect finishing touch.  The gnocchi were little pillows of heaven on a silky smooth and smoky eggplant puree.  And, the surrounding vegetables were cooked and seasoned to sheer perfection.



Tonight I am going to sleep with a belly full of some of the best food I have ever eaten.



If you find yourself in St. Paul, this is a MUST. It was good enough to plan an entire trip back around. Unless, Chef Lenny decides to come to Philly- (not so subtle) hint, hint.....

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tuscan Lemon Cake

Apparently Betty Crocker has gone vegan. No, I am not talking about me. If you have ever read my blog you know that I don't really enjoy baking, mostly because I am not good at it. It seems following directions is not inherent to my nature. Case in point- I had to redo the flour mixture three times before I got it right.



First try, I added the egg replacer to the flour. Incorrect! Second try, I used baking POWDER instead of baking SODA. Incorrect! Third times a charm, as they say!

I did make one adjustment to the recipe as written. The batter did not taste lemony enough to me so I added a teaspoon of lemon extract.  Taste your batter and decide if you think it needs it before adding it.

This cake is super moist.  The glaze recipe is very sweet; you can adjust the sweetness by adjusting the lemon, sugar and vegan butter to your liking.

Given the sweetness of the glaze, fresh raspberries served as a nice addition for garnish on the cake.

Nice job veganizing a classic lemon cake, Betty!

Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance; softened
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer (do not mix with water)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 can full fat coconut milk (or 1 package So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk)
2 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
Baking spray

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl using a hand mixer cream the sugar and vegan butter together at a high speed until smooth and creamy.  Add the applesauce and egg replacer and blend until incorporated.

In a second bowl add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk until ingredients are combined.

Add a small amount of flour to the butter/sugar mixture and continue to mix with the hand mixer. When blended add a small amount of the coconut milk and continue to beat with the hand mixer. Continue the alternating the flour mixture and coconut milk until they are gone and you have a smooth batter. Add the lemon zest, juice and extract (if using) and beat quickly until combined.

Spray a bundt pan or other cake pan with baking spray.  Add the cake batter and smooth the top to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40- 50 minutes or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and poke about fifteen shallow holes with a bamboo skewer (about the depth a using a fork would create).  Allow the cake to cool entirely before removing it from the pan.

Turn the cake upside down to remove and place on a cake plate or other platter.

To make the glaze, heat the vegan butter until it is melted.  Whisk in the powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until the mixture is very smooth.  Drizzle over the cake before serving.

Garnish with raspberries if desired.