Archive for the ‘Vegan’ Category
Sometimes, when a recipe does not include eggs, it will call for “egg replacer” instead. This is most often found in vegan recipes, since vegan recipes don’t include animal products and never use eggs, although a search for egg-free bloggers will find you plenty of people who also don’t want to include eggs in their cooking. Egg replacer is a packaged product that is a dry mixture of starches and/or binding ingredients that is meant to replace some of the function of an egg in a recipe. They include ingredients like cornstarch, potato starch, soy powder and flax seed, just to name a few. Some mixtures will contain a small amount of leavening or xanthan gum, as a binder.
Egg replacer doesn’t replace eggs in all circumstances, so you wouldn’t want to make an omelette out of it, but the replacers do work well in baked goods. In baked goods, eggs usually add some moisture and some thickening and binding power to a recipe, particularly in recipes were only one or two eggs is called for. Egg replacers that are a combination of starch and water – starch for thickening and water for moisture – can mimic the function well enough that your chocolate chip cookies will still taste very good when they come out of the oven.
Some do-it-yourself egg replacer recipes, for one egg, include:
- 2 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water (what I generally use)
- 2 tbsp potato starch + 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 1 tbsp water
I’ve seen suggestions to use 1/4 cup applesauce, mashed banana or other fruit purees, but these don’t have the same effect as the starch and flaxseed mixtures and can potentially make your batter a little bit too thick or heavy.
A curd is a thick, sweet-tart type of sauce that is typically made with citrus juice, eggs and butter. It is known for being rich in flavor, with a very silky texture. I call it a sauce for lack of a better category, as curds are much thicker than most sauces (rather pudding-like).
This version of a curd almost doesn’t fit the description above at all. It uses no eggs, no butter and only a minimal amount of citrus. My curd is strawberry-based and is a great way to use up a lot of end-of-season fruits in an interesting way. It has the thick, smooth texture of a regular curd and it’s vegan. I was inspired after seeing the vegan mango curd at Buttermilk and Pinecones. Curds that are based with a fruit other than citrus are uncommon (and I love mango), but since I’ve made curd-like puddings that happen to be vegan before myself, it didn’t surprise me too much that the idea would work so beautifully.
This recipe is quite easy and requires very few ingredients. It starts with fresh strawberries which are pureed with sugar, then added to a lime juice (lemon can be used) and cornstarch mixture. The cornstarch is the thickening element of this curd, while eggs are the thickening element of a traditional curd. This isn’t really all that surprising a substitution, since cornstarch is frequently used as an egg replacer (or partial egg replacer) in other vegan recipes. It actually works out especially well, since there is no additional flavor (the egg) to detract from the strawberries. The taste of fresh berries is definitely the star here and the lime juice just adds a nice accent to brighten it up.
The texture is perhaps a tiny bit less smooth than that of a curd which uses juice, as opposed to a fruit puree. I strained my curd twice -once going into the saucepan and once coming out – to try and get as smooth a texture as possible. I know someone will ask if this can be made with frozen strawberries, but I must admit that I think it will turn out best with fresh berries. They’ll have a more vibrant color and probably a better flavor. If you try to use frozen berries, be sure to defrost them completely before working with them.
Pasta salad is a staple food in the summer. This type of dish is easy to make, can always be made ahead and there are an almost infinite number of variations out there for it. It’s great to take to a barbecue or picnic, but because they keep for a couple of days are served cold, they’re also something that you can keep in the fridge at home and have for lunch without much additional fuss.
The salads always start with cooked pasta, to which a variety of veggies and sometimes meats are added. The whole mixture is tossed in a usually mayonnaise-based sauce and chilled before serving. I didn’t want to go with this traditional route for a pasta salad this summer and took inspiration from a pack of Thai rice stick noodles – the same type of noodles used in dishes like pad thai – and made a lovely dressing using some of my favorite asian/Thai flavors.
The dressing for this salad is mostly made with soy sauce and peanut butter, with some honey thrown in to sweeten things up and take a bit of the edge off of all that salt. Creamy and chunky peanut butter both work really well here, although using crunchy will guarantee you a bit of extra texture from chopped peanuts. Supporting flavors are sesame oil, ginger and garlic. I used all kinds of vegetables in here and have also made the salad non-vegetarian by including thin slices of cooked tri-tip steal; the base recipe is vegan. From start to finish, it only took me the time that I needed to boil water and cook the noodles!
It’s been a while since I baked a batch of cupcakes, but I started to get the itch for some of the miniature cakes this weekend and pulled out my trusty cupcake pan. Some freshly picked oranges – plucked from the tree before the orange-loving squirrels could get to them – were my inspiration to make some orange and chocolate cupcakes.
I used a simple cake recipe that I come back to time and again. I’ve heard it called wacky cake and eggless cake before, but it’s just a good one in my book no matter what name it goes by. The cake uses no eggs and no butter (it’s vegan, actually), and it can be mixed up in just one bowl. Typically, it gets its leavening from a combination of baking soda and vinegar added to the batter and is moistened with vegetable oil. Since orange juice is acidic, I left out the vinegar and introduced a good amount of orange juice to the cake. The resulting cupcakes rose beautifully and had a great texture: soft, but not crumbly, and moist.
Using cocoa powder in the cupcakes gives them a really good, strong chocolate flavor. The orange juice, if used alone, contributes a surprisingly mild flavor that doesn’t stand up to the chocolate that well. I remedied this by adding in the zest of one orange to the cake batter to boost the citrus flavor of the cake and by topping the cupcakes with a zesty orange frosting. The frosting was quite bold and, in the end, everything came together perfectly.
These are tasty and easy to make – especially since you don’t have to wait for butter to soften before you can start mixing. Try to use freshly squeezed orange juice for the best flavor. You’ll need to have fresh oranges on hand for their zest, so you might as well make the most of the fruit in this recipe.
Granola bars tend fall into two major categories. One type is mostly nuts – chunky and barely held together. The other type is more like a candy bar – sweet and sometimes full of chocolate. Neither is my favorite because I really want a granola bar that is lighter than the nut bar and healthier than the candy bar, so I definitely prefer to make my own granola bars at home. It gives me complete freedom to customize the bar to suit my tastes. Plus, it’s very easy to do and the bars always taste much fresher than the prepackaged kind.
This granola bar recipe starts with a combination of rolled oats and puffed rice cereal. I love the flavor of the oats, but I really enjoy the way that the rice keeps the bar from feeling too heavy or dense. Oats can be filling, but these two components alone are not nearly enough to make a snack that will sustain an appetite for long. I boosted the protein in the bars with ground flaxseed and almond meal. The former is easiest to digest in a ground form and, as for the latter, I just don’t care to have large chunks of nuts in my granola bars (especially because big nuts make the bars harder to cut neatly).
For sweetness, I added in some brown sugar, and got a big boost of flavor from vanilla, shredded coconut and dried cranberries. I think that some sugar is necessary, as I do enjoy some sweetness in granola bars (these certainly aren’t too sweet), but feel free to play around with the amount to target your tastes. Likewise, the cranberries and coconut can be subsituted for similar ingerdients, and you can mix in some spices to give the bars more variety.
The result? A very tasty granola bar that is high enough in protein to keep you feeling satisfied for far longer than something candy-ish. That said, you might still have to exercise some self control when eating these. Filling or not, they do taste good and it’s hard to eat just one. Wrap them individually and pack them in lunches, or stick them in the glove compartment of your car for long commutes.