Friday, January 30, 2009

try try again

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Attempt one was a spectacular failure. I have no pictures. Well I could go photograph the bin if you want but y'all should just take my word for it. Complete crap. That, however, is to be expected. My first attempt for all these Daring Bakers Challenges are failures of varying degrees. Sometimes salvageable, sometimes better forgotten. It's all the more frustrating when you use a recipe that has worked for people and it doesn't work for you. You start wondering what the heck is wrong with you that you couldn't follow simple directions. In the end this doesn't necessarily accomplish anything and it's just not that easy. Simple directions can still produce something fairly complex or delicate. In this case a very delicate balance in the batter, in the oven temperature, in the timing and then in the final cookie.

I feel a bit silly about it all now. My second attempt was in another direction. Chocolate. Silly because I work in chocolate. There is always chocolate around my house, around my work. I talk chocolate every day. Why then did I not just go with the chocolate route to begin with? Because I thought I'd be clever and make it a challenge for myself. That'll learn me.

Anyway on with the successful part of the challenge.
Chocolate Tuiles
3.5 oz (100g) dark chocolate (I used Lindt 75% Ecuador)

Temper the chocolate. Spread into desired shapes on a sturdy piece of plastic (or silpat could work). Once set enough to move, shape them as desired (over a glass, rolling pin, whatevs). Remove them from mold right before serving to preserve shape and sheen.
If you are not into tempering you could add a little (1 tsp or less) of vegetable shortening. This should keep the chocolate from blooming. This may also keep the chocolate from completely setting at room temp so you may need to keep it chilled to hold it's shape.

Strawberry Banana Sorbet
1 yellow ripe banana
1 bag frozen straberries (thawed)*
1 tsp-1 Tb lime juice

Toss strawberries, banana and lime juice in the blender of food processor and blend until smooth (or as smooth as you'd like. I went for no chunks). Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions.
You could also use frozen fruit and process this into something of a sorbet in your blender or food processor but unless you have a Vitamix it might be a challenge to get a good consistancy.
*bag can be of any size really depending on how much you want.

This is the taste of summer. Strawberries get me every time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recommendation Withdrawn

It is with great disappointment that I write this post. I'm certain that this will not be the last time that I am disappointed in such a way and I am also certain that most if not all of you vegan readers out there have already experienced this.

In general, if I am offended by something I will be upset for a little while but then I just shrug it off and decide to have nothing further to do with the offending object. In this case however I feel obligated to write about it here at least (and talk about it to anyone who asks) because not only have I recommended this place through this blog and by word of mouth but they have offended our deeply held beliefs that mean a great deal.

I speak of Magnolia Bistro. Some time ago I wrote about this cafe's great atmosphere and tastiness. Now everything has changed. Most of the staff looks the same, the owners are the same, the menu even looks the same as it did those many months ago. I have just learned, through my husband who went there more often then I as a day off breakfast treat, that for about 6 months they have been feeding us (and anyone else who ordered) non-vegan veggie sausage. They did indeed once have vegan sausage but it ran out and was replaced with a non-vegan option.

Now, let's stay focused on the issue here. It is not that they changed their sausage. It is that the sausage was changed and they continued to serve it to people who specifically specified VEGAN when ordering. I want to make this clear because in a restaurant that claims vegan friendliness ("vegan" specifically written on the menu) one would assume that everyone in the place would understand what this means. Everyone, from the owners who wrote the menu to the waitress who takes the time to write vegan on your order slip to the cooks behind the scenes who have to read the ticket and make the food. One would assume that somewhere along the line someone would notice that they were feeding vegans something that was not vegan! Furthermore, the first explaination of why they changed the sausage was "I think it was a taste issue." I think most vegans know that is plain silliness. Yes, there are veg'ns that do not like fake meats but if they don't like fakes they aren't going to order them. Changing the brand will only net you one or two orders max. The staff seemed annoyed that this was an issue (but you are vegan friendly, how can you not understand that this is an issue?) Eventually the owner was spoken to and Lex got to the bottom of it. The original vegan sausage wasn't available for a while so they had to switch until it was available again. Fair enough, but why does your staff not know this? They have been serving the veggie sausage for months and no one said a thing. Not once until this one waitress who thankfully knew it wasn't vegan but unfortunately didn't know why. Even after attaining this explaination she did not really seem to take it seriously. She simply said she would talk to the waitress to let her know the real reason they switched the sausage. After a customer finds out you have been wronging them for months when they put their trust in you is this really the best you can do? It would seem so.

It doesn't stop here. Over the course of the yearish that it has been since I wrote that first post there is something else that doesn't quite jive with the place. They claim to have vegan options for most things on the menu. This is where I thought "Great! these guys get it. It isn't difficult to make vegan food. It isn't difficult to feed vegans." To veganize items on the menu they simply take away the non-vegan things and still charge you the same price. So you get less food . . . .but pay the same . . . .not cool and weak veganizing. If you have read my previous Magnolia post you probably noticed my excitement over Earth Balance. Yup, they still have it but you might still get butter on your toast. Again, a place that proclaims it greenness and vegan friendliness, you should not have to send food back to the kitchen because they put sour cream on the plate, butter on the toast, or whatever animal suffering they might pour onto an omnivore's plate even though you know for certain that you said you were vegan and the word "vegan" was written on the slip.

So in short (or not so short). They don't get it. They put "vegan options" on the menu to get in line with the Groovy Btown that everyone seems to think Burlington is. Yes you can get vegan food their but it may or may not be vegan. Eat at your own risk. I wouldn't.

Yule Love It

A little late but done none the less here it is.

And the Challenge this month is…

A French Yule Log!!!

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that that is rolled up (the one most of us are familiar with), or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is just a scrumptious dessert recipe. I had never heard of this other aparently more common yule log but then I've never actually eaten the rolly up kind either so there ya go.

This Yule log is made up of six components:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

In keeping with my recent focus I wanted to complete this challenge using only items in my pantry. I had to veganize the recipe anyway which required replacing a few eggs so I threw caution to the wind and dove in with whatever ideas struck me. There were definitely a few bumps in the road but this is what came of it.

Coconut Biscuit
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Cherry Almond Crisp
Coconut Mousse
Cherry Creme (which for some reason refused to freeze hence the droopiness of the layer)
White Chocolate Icing

Over all the flavor was good but it could use more tweeking to something really good and reliable. But I suppose that's what you get when you are throwing things together from your cupboards and fridge. Maybe next holiday I'll revisit this. Looking at other DB results you can see the possibilities are endless for flavor combinations as well as presentation. This battle is not over Sir Yule!

And now a closing word from our sponsor . . .
This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's been one of those years where I feel so much has changed but when asked I cannot describe one thing. Luckily 2008 was when I chose to dive into my blog. I have almost completed a full year and each day I come across something I think I might blog about. Of course then life gets away with me and the post does not happen. Many do await in draft form, waiting for life. I am definitely glad for this blog. It's a lot of fun and it does give me an outlet from time to time for my excessive cookbook collecting and fooding.

In keeping with a New Year superstition that is not my own, we had black eye peas for dinner this eve. I had only encountered this a couple of years ago at a friend's New Year's gathering. No one really knew where eating black eye peas for luck came from. This year I became curious again and did a quick little google and turned up a couple guesses:

"My mother always told me that the origin of eating Black-eyed peas on New Years day started during the Civil War. The Northern soldiers raided the South's food supplies one New Year's Eve night and took all the food except for the dried black-eyed peas and the salted pork. On New Years day, all that the southern soldiers had to eat were the peas and pork to keep them alive, so it is considered good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Years because of this event."

"Supposedly, the Yankee soldiers burned all the southern crops, except for the black-eyed peas, which they thought were weeds. So, the southerners considered it good luck they still had something to eat. (This may have some validity, since in parts of the north black-eyed peas are still known as cow peas.)"

It seems to come to the idea that the peas (and greens) were the only things left to eat at that time of year for whatever reason. Eat poor today to eat rich the rest of the year. Peas for coins and greens for paper money.

I'm not so sure this is eating poor though. This was pretty gosh darn tasty. Quick and easy too! No greens though. I guess I'll just have coins to look forward too. Pretty typical for me.

Black eye pea hummus with grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers.
Happy 2009!