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My finest hour to date!

31st. Jul, 2010 | 07:31 pm

I baked these a while ago for someone's birthday, but the photos were on my housemate's camera. I'm pretty proud of myself for these! Of course, they're all vegan, even the marshmallows, and there's no hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup in any of them, either.

Hot chocolate inspired cake.

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Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting filling and sides, covered in chocolate ganache, topped with Dandies vegan marshmallows, more ganache and chocoalte and vanilla frosting decorations.



Banana split inspired cake.

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Banana cake sandwiched with vanilla frosting, strawberry jam, and topped with chocolate frosting, ganache, vanilla frosting swirls, dried banana chips and Newman O's.



Chocolate cherry cream cake.

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Chocolate cake sandwiched together with vanilla frosting and cherry preserves, covered with chocolate ganache and decorated with vanilla frosting and cherries.



Carrot cake.

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Light carrot cake covered with cream cheese frosting, decorated with chopped walnuts.



Cut for more photos.Collapse )

Cross posted all over the place.

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Testing: Banana bread French toast.

6th. Jun, 2010 | 06:43 pm

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I made banana bread french toast from The Urban Housewife's upcoming book for breakfast the other day. It took a fair bit of preparation, but it was SO worth it.

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Another step on my journey towards diabetes.

12th. Feb, 2010 | 07:47 am

I was very excited for Phil to come and stay with us for a couple of days, but even more so when he decided that we should make an over the top cake of death. We toyed with the idea of a chocolate/coffee or chocolate/mint combination, but neither of those would have gone down too well with the other housemates, so we decided on a banana split cake. The mission was to make it as decadent as we could manage without veering too far from the theme, and I think we did ourselves pretty proud! We didn't finish until around 2am last night, so we're yet to try it. I think it'll be our breakfast.

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And a step by step guide to each layer.Collapse )


There was supposed to be a bag of Dandies incorporated into it as well, but I think we got a bad bag because they were grainy and really dense, so not up to standard. They'll see out their days in a hot chocolate, no doubt.

There will most likely be another cakeshake later on as well. OH THAT'S RIGHT.

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Favourite smoothie ever.

23rd. Jan, 2010 | 04:24 pm

Breakfast smoothieI used to get a smoothie like this whenever I walked past Selfridges in Manchester. It's probably too simple to warrant making a post about it, but who cares! This was my birthday breakfast from Monday.

5 large frozen strawberries,
1 medium banana,
2 tbsp oats,
1 tbsp maple syrup,
1/4 cup yoghurt,
Vanilla soy milk until it's the right consistency for you.

NOM.









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Things I've baked recently.

6th. Dec, 2009 | 03:00 pm

This weekend, I made peanut butter & grape jelly thumbprint cookies, and spiced buns with raisins and orange glaze:

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I've also made a hell of a lot of waffles recently, using our waffle iron. They got eaten before I had a chance to take photos of them, but they were the pumpkin spice ones from Vegan With A Vengeance, and also the banana oatmeal raisin ones from the same book. I feel like I'll be making a lot more of these for many breakfasts to come! I have a giant jar of applesauce in the cupboard, so perhaps the next batch will be apple flavoured.

Finally, last night, we had a ridiculous amount of bananas that needed using up, so I baked banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I think I've perfected my banana cupcake recipe at last, hurrah! Also, this frosting was insanely good; sod's law that it was just a "recipe" that I made up on the spot and have no exact measurements for. I think I can remember most of it though, so next time I'll have to try and write it down. It was smooth and silky, creamy, light and fluffy, and reminded me of milk chocolate. I made way too much of it, and then ate the leftovers straight out of the bowl, because I'm gross like that. Anyway, here's a picture of last night's cupcake army:

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I'm going to take some of these over to our friend Dave today. Yesterday, he found an abandoned kitten on his doorstep - some heartless shit had left a cardboard box with a saucer of milk in the middle of the road outside his house. Luckily, Dave found it, and let the kitten in. I'm so excited to meet her/him!

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NYC round 3: Atlas café, 'snice, Dosa man, coffee, bagels and Lula's Sweet Apothecary.

13th. Nov, 2009 | 06:44 am

I'm back home in the UK now. Although in fact, I keep referring to Braddock as "home" too, so that's kind of confusing. Either way, I had a mini break in NYC from Monday until my flight from JFK on Wednesday, which began with a sleepless night spent on a Chinatown bus from Pittsburgh. It was totally worth it, though, because I managed to cram in a hell of a lot of tasty vegan food in my short visit. This time, I decided to limit myself to Manhattan only (no Penny Licks or Vinnie's pizza, wahhh!), as I'd already spent a month in Brooklyn and I wanted to try some new places.

Atlas Café.

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On the recommendation of Jen, Deirdre's flatmate, my first stop was Atlas café. This is somewhere I ended up going back to again the next day, and I should have gone another time to get myself a freshly delivered Vegan treats Boston creme pie donut, but I was all sugared out. The first time, I ordered banana and blueberry pancakes and a macchiato. The coffee was nothing special, but the pancakes were seriously incredible. I ordered in a tired haze and then had reservations about my order, because pancakes are so easy to make at home that I'm rarely impressed by any others. The pancakes here, however, were something else. They were so incredibly thick and fluffy, without any sort of baking powder-y after taste. I was in awe of them. Marvel at these:

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Seriously good. The next day, I headed back with Deirdre in time for the delivery of Vegan Treats. Atlas café has an impressive case full of my favourite vegan baked goods, so on top of my breakfast of a blueberry bagel (no photo, but I've had better - this was strangely toasted on a panini machine and wasn't the amazing NYC bagel I'd been hoping for) Deirdre and I split a Red Velvet cupcake.

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I've mentioned before that I'm yet to find a Red Velvet cupcake that I'm impressed with. Traditionally, the red colour comes from the reaction of cocoa with acidic buttermilk, but nowadays it's common for the redness to be added artificially. Going by the almost neon colour of this particular cupcake, my guess is that Vegan Treats has taken the artificial approach! Despite tasting more like a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, this was still delicious. Vegan Treats is wonderful! Throughout our meal, we were harassed by a bee, who seems to have been drawn to us by our bright cupcake (you can see its tongue!):

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'snice

Moving on from Atlas, another coffee shop I went to is 'snice.

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I ordered a soy latte, which sadly tasted burnt, but the chocolate cherry cookie made up for this. It was sweet, soft and chewy with a juicy cherry baked into the middle, which was kind of unexpected as I had thought it'd have dried cherries baked in, similar to a chocolate chip cookie. I think I may have to recreate this when I get back to Braddock, it was great!


Coffee, bagels and snacks.

A visit to NYC isn't complete without a real bagel, so on the recommendation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, via The Urban Housewife's guide to New York, I headed to Carmine Street on my final morning.

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I got my favourite blueberry bagel with strawberry tofu cream cheese(!). Their selection of vegan friendly cream cheeses is impressive! My combination was really sweet and a little overpowering though, so I think next time I'd make either the bagel or the cream cheese plain. I'm still glad I tried this though, and it's just a matter of getting the combination right rather than there being anything wrong with the place itself. The people who worked there were really friendly as well. I also brought a couple of bagels back for my Mum and Nan to try. The feedback so far is that my Mum will never be able to enjoy our pathetic English versions again, so I think it's safe to say she enjoyed it!

On my way to another coffee shop, I accidentally stumbled across another of The Urban Housewife's recommendations: the The Urban Housewife's guide to Dosa man. I wasn't hungry, but felt it'd be wrong to pass on trying something new and so highly recommended, so I got a roti with spicy tamarind sauce, and was so glad I did. If I happen to go through NYC again, I will track him down and get a meal's worth of snacks from him, it was so good! After that, I finally found the well-made coffee I'd been craving: a beautiful soy latte from Joe the art of coffee .

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I miss working in a café, where I could learn more about coffee. I figure that as I'll obviously never be a wine or cheese connoisseur, my "grown up" area of expertise should be in coffee instead.


Lula's Sweet Apothecary.


Finally, the highlight(s) of my trip came from the incredible, 100% vegan, Lula's Sweet Apothecary. This is the place I actually dreamed about a while back (oh boy...), and I seriously can't sing its praises enough. The ice cream is largely nut-based, meaning I can almost convince myself that it's healthy (I should stick with "healthier"), and it's made by the owners, who clearly love what they do and take a real pride in it. I ended up making an extra trip right before my flight (Lula's opens at 3pm, and by my calculations, I had to be on the subway by 3:30pm so as not to be late!) and had a nice chat with Blythe, who is absolutely lovely! On my first trip, I asked for "the biggest, most ridiculous thing available", and she suggested a brownie sundae. Jesus fucking Christ, it was incredible. I like this photo, because Blythe looks proud of her creation:

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So, that's one fudgey, gooey brownie warmed up, served with 2 flavours of ice cream (I went for the insanely tasty peanut butter fudge, and cookies and creme) hot chocolate fudge sauce, Dandies vegan marshmallows(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), coconut whipped cream, and a cherry on top. I couldn't stop taking about how delicious it was and making awkward "sensual" noises whilst I was eating.

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And when I was done, I bought some thing for Donna (it's not ice cream, I'm sorry!), and Blythe slipped me three Sweet n Sara marshmallow ghosts. Again, I was very excited about this, as I love marshmallows. I shared my haul with Jen and Deirdre. Deirdre modeled hers like a pro, and I can't compete with a face as pretty as hers, so I decided to compete with the ghost instead:

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On my second trip, I decided to go for MORE MARSHMALLOWY GOODNESS. Ice cream, peanut butter and marshmallows combined is probably the best tasting thing possible, especially for an otherwise marshmallow-deprived vegan. Following bjorkedoff's lead, I asked Blythe to chop up a peanut butter Sweet n Sarah smore to smush in with my ice cream. Naturally, I got the PB fudge ice cream again, because it's perfectly rich, sweet and salty all in one go, and topped the lot with more hot fudge sauce. Did I mention it was amazing?

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As a going away present, Bythe also gave me a Sweet n Sara Rocky Road bar, made of chocolate, almonds and marshmallows. I appear to be slowly working my way through Sweet n Sara's catalogue of marshmallow treats, and I love it.

In summary, New York is my favourite city to eat in, and Lula's clearly takes top spot as the best place for a vegan to enjoy some serious indulgence. I also brought back an entire suitcase of food for family and friends, but the contents are largely secret. 13 days until I'm back in the States!

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PB banana cinnamon rolls.

5th. Nov, 2009 | 08:05 pm

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After about a week of enjoyable temperatures and blue skies, the past couple of days have reverted back to a harsh wintery coldness, that's only exaggerated by living in a house with no heating. In true Emma style, I've been working on comfort foods that'll help build up an extra layer of fat (or three) to get us through the looming winter months, specifically cinnamon rolls in all their many guises. However, our kitchen appears to be conspiring against me. It would seem that it is so cold in there, that baked goods don't act as they usually would. Last night, I made two batches of cinnamon rolls (pumpkin and peanut butter), and neither of them rose properly, meaning they were heavier than the past ones I'd made. I was not impressed with this, particularly as I'd baked them for a pretty important meeting today. They were ok, but... just not right. I kept thinking about them late into the night, until this morning I headed straight down into the kitchen and started working on a new batch, this time keeping a tighter control of the overall temperature and hoping that it'd work out. Lesson learned: it turns out that not only does the room temperature affect how well I can feel my toes, but also how yeast-based goods react. It wasn't a total waste of energy because I got to improve further on bjorkedoff's recipe, so much that I now consider it to be my own, and out came these seriously decadent peanut butter banana cinnamon-rolls, with thick, salty-sweet peanut butter icing. Quite a mouthful, whatever way you look at it! Once I get back from England, they should soon be on sale at the Quiet Storm in Pittsburgh, along with some other vegan baked deliciousness :)



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More muffins.

28th. Oct, 2009 | 12:35 am

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This evening, I decided I'd make something tasty for breakfast the next day as we've run out of my favourite sugar-filled crappy American cereal. I was low on ingredients (apologies to Juan, I stole some sugar!), but I did have some bananas that were well on their way out. And what could go better with banana, than peanut butter? So, PB banana breakfast muffins it was. By a happy coincidence, these are also soy free. Perfect for breakfasts (if they last that long)!

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Banana chocolate chip pancakes.

12th. Oct, 2009 | 02:57 pm

Yesterday was Garrett's birthday, so I made him birthday pancakes to celebrate. We were out of maple syrup, but because of the chocolate chips, these don't really need anything extra to top them. There are no photos because they got eaten too quickly, but everyone knows what pancakes are supposed to look like anyway!


Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Serves two hungry people.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
1 medium banana, mashed
1 tsp canola oil
Chocolate chips
Stir together all wet ingredients, sift in and mix dry ingredients (excluding chocolate chips).
Heat a frying pan on medium, add oil and allow to heat up.
Ladle pancake mix into frying pan and allow to fry, undisturbed, until the edges begin to firm up.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of pancakes. You should be able to fit two pancakes in the pan at a time.
Using a spatula, check that the underside is golden before flipping. The top side won’t need to be fried for as long, and take care not to let the chocolate chips burn (they have a high sugar content and will burn faster than the pancake). Pancake making tends to be trial and error, so go with what works for you!

Personally, I prefer to serve pancakes as they’re ready, but if you’d rather eat with everyone else, you can stack them up on a plate in a very low oven until the rest are ready.


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Banana Pumpkin Muffins.

12th. Oct, 2009 | 12:35 pm

Continuing with my pumpkin obsession, here's the recipe for banana pumpkin muffins, again adapted from BitterSweet. The taste of banana is a little stronger than I would have liked and as a consequence it drowns out the pumpkin, so next time I'll play around with the quantities a bit. They're still tasty though, and not too sweet; perfect as part of a breakfast paired with fruit.


Banana Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.


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4 medium bananas (the riper, the better)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 & 1/4 cups pumpkin pie mix
1 teaspoon salt

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Rolled oats
Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with oil and set aside.

Mash bananas thoroughly and stir in the sugar, oil and pumpkin pie mix until combined.

Sift in cinnamon, salt, flour, baking powder and soda. Mix until no large lumps remain - a few small ones are fine, but be careful of overmixing. The resulting batter will be quite thick.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin, mounding it up generously in the centres.

In a separate bowl, mix together rolled oats and cinnamon (you could also add sugar if you like). Sprinkle oats and cinnamon on top as desired, and bake for 15 – 25 minutes until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

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