Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

I had a full day ahead of me and a craving for a cooking adventure (one last hurrah before my roommates returned and I had to go back to sharing the kitchen), so I clicked through some archived recipes, and came across the Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Cake recipe posted by The Voracious Vegan.

I had to make some changes, so here’s how I did it.

2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

1½ c. granulated sugar

½ c. natural peanut butter

1/3 c. butter at room temperature

1 c. milk

¼ cup mashed banana

2 t. vinegar

1 t. vanilla extract

1 c./180 grams chocolate

1 c. natural peanut butter

½ c. powdered sugar

1/3 c. butter at room temperature

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and oil and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, peanut butter, and butter and beat until fluffy. Beat in the milk, banana, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double-broiler over gently simmering water. Combine the melted chocolate with the peanut butter, powered sugar, and butter and until fluffy.

Remove the cooled cakes from the pans and spread about one-third of the frosting over 1 of the cakes. Place the other cake over it and frost the top and sides. Cover and store in the refrigerator until serving time.


Comments: This was rich and delicious, though not as awe-inspiring as I expected from The Voracious Vegan’s buildup of the recipe. It was great though, as I had all the ingredients, and made my first cake in Argentina’s crazy (unpredictable) gas ovens!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Grilled” Summer Vegetable Salad

All the summer veggies looked fabulous at the verduleria today, and I was craving some major veggies, so I took a bit of each with a salad in mind. Eggplant, cherry tomatoes, basil, cucumber, something Mediterranean was coming to mind, and I wanted to douse it in balsamic vinegar.

I started with this recipe, which was quite close to what I was shooting for. And then I found this recipe for my balsamic dressing, which seemed great, until I had it almost made and saw the 3/4 cup oil it called for!salad

So, here’s what I did…

1 small eggplant

1 small onion

1 red bell pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 smallish cucumber

3 T. chopped basil

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 garlic clove, crushed through a press (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut the onion, eggplant, and bellpepper to bite sized pieces. Toss with cherry tomatoes and 1 T. oil, salt, and pepper and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cucumber into wheels, and cut each wheel in half. Chop basil. Mix remaining ingredients together until blended.

Take the veggies out of the oven, and toss with dressing. Allow to cool to desired temperature before adding cucumber and basil. Makes about 3 servings.

Comments: This turned out great, although it had about twice as much dressing as needed. Next time I’d only use half the dressing. I didn’t miss the feta I’d normally think was essential with something like this…maybe I’m adapting?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chickpea “sliders”

After my initial bean-burger success, I eagerly raced on…after hearing great reviews of this recipe, adapted by 30 Bucks A Week here. And they were fabulous, so much flavor, I wouldn’t dream of hiding them in a burger, but try them as you like…here’s the recipe with MY adaptations…

Middle Eastern Chickpea Sliders

Adapted from Cooking Light, November 2009

· about 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used these as I have tons, but I’d prefer to use the potato in the original recipe)

· 3 T. oil, 3 tablespoons, divided (I used olive oil for the first T, followed by canola)

· 1 large clove garlic

· 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

· 1 T. minced celery leaves (I subbed these for the parsley since they’re what I had on hand, and it was a great move)

· Salt, 1/2 teaspoon (or more, I salted to taste)

· Lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon

· 1/4 t. cumin

· 1 T. onion flakes (because I had them)

· Pepper, 1/4 teaspoon

· 1 T. chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water (I had no eggs on hand, but also like that this made the recipe vegan)

Process all ingredients in a food processor (or mash and mix by hand) until well blended. Stir in remaining chickpeas. Form small patties with the mixture, about 2 heaping tablespoons each patty.

Heat one tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add patties to pan, cook over medium heat for four minutes and turn over and cook for another four minutes. Work in batches if your pan isn’t big enough.

Makes about 9 patties.

So, I loved these! They were fairly crumbly which could be due to the lack of potato or eggs, but the taste was phenomenal, and they are quite healthy, especially if you can reduce the oil used to cook them (my one beef with the recipe).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Butternut Squash with Quinoa and Dried Fruit Stuffing

Angela of Oh She Glows posted this tempting-looking Baked Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Cranberry, and Apricot Stuffing. As I’d just baked a giant butternut squash, and had quinoa ready to go, I gave it a go.

Obviously, I tweaked it to what’s available in Argentina, but thought I stayed pretty close to the original recipe, overall. So what happened?


1 cup quinoa

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3/4 cups diced onion


1/4 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup diced celery

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teapoon dried sage

1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried peaches, chopped the size of raisins

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of ground cinnamon

freshly ground black pepper

roasted butternut squash


1. Simmer the quinoa in 2 cups of water until fluffy, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. While the quinoa cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, ginger, and sage.

4. Cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes (add a tablespoon of water, if necessary, to prevent scorching.)

5. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa and vegetables. Stir in the dried fruit, sesame seeds, nutmeg, and cinnamon, season with salt and pepper. Top squash with mixture, and heat in oven until hot.

Well, it was edible, but definitely not on my list of top 100 recipes. I mixed the leftovers with a tablespoon of arugula pesto, which helped considerably. It was very short on vegetables for my taste, but it also just didn’t come together. I won’t be making it again.

Sweet Potato-ish Gnocchi

I first attempted gnocchi about a year ago, a first attempt, that ended like most first attempts at gnocchi in utter failure. I want to say a large part of it wasn’t my fault so much as my ignorance. My coworker made us butternut squash gnocchi for lunch frequently, and assured me it was simple. Unquestioningly, I believed her, and set to work.

Now, nearly a year later, inspired by the Outside of the Box Challenge (thanks Rachel!), I attempted it again.

I still had no intention of following a beginner’s recipe, not after Alicia at Vegan Epicurean posted such an easy-sounding Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe. But this time, I knew some research was in order.

Sure enough, my initial brushing over of Alicia’s “I used to make this all the time…” was nearly fatal. I studied the techniques used by Deb at Smitten Kitchen (here) and Heidi at 101 Cookbooks (here), and set to work.

I used the same basic recipe found on Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks, but subbed a sweet potato in with my two white potatoes. I had already baked the potatoes per Alicia’s recipe, which left the outside hard (beyond the skin), and my shredder…well, it’s crap, so that idea was quickly sacked.

I did my best to imitate Heidi’s technique with a fork. The dough appeared a little chunky, which I think was due to the texture of the sweet potato, and I used significantly more flour than called for, but not so much as with the butternut squash disaster.


And, it appears to have paid off! While they may not be perfect gnocchi (they certainly don’t look perfect), it was perfectly delicious with some homemade pesto (although I employed my new mini-food processor rather than the make-shift mortar and pestle this time around)!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Walnut Cheeze Spread

I’ve been attempting to eat more vegan, and intrigued by vegan cheezes for a while. I have no idea where to begin to look here in Argentina, but Alicia at Vegan Epicurean has also been talking about them. I finally bought some walnuts to make the cheeze, went back to her site, and…nothing?

So, I emailed her, and apparently walnuts are the one nut she hadn’t used to make cheeze! But she promised to try it out right away, and sure enough, within a few days, a very simple recipe was posted on her site, and I set to work, soaking my almonds.

All went according to plan, until I started the food processor. She warned you may have to scrape it down once or twice to get a smooth consistency. My mini-processor lasted about 10-seconds before needing a scrape down…and 10 more…and 10 more…and…well, finally I gave up, and decided it’d be tasyt or not, but it would never be creamy in my machine.

I stuck the mixture (smelling cheezey due to the nooch) in the fridge overnight, and checked it out the next day.

I can’t comment on cheesieness, as I have very little vegan cheeze experience, and the texture was WAY off for real cheese, but it definitely made a yummy spread, and I can see making it a PB substitute (since there’s no other nut butters sold here)… and maybe even a cheese sub, under the right circumstances?