Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Coconut Cupcakes

These days, a vegan blog is incomplete without cupcakes. Ever since Isa Chandra Moskowitz published her groundbreaking work, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, vegan baking has not been the same. This recipe actually comes from her first book, Vegan With A Vengeance. The handful of cupcake recipes in this classic were a tasty preview of things to come. The first time I tried these coconut cupcakes, I was blown away. They are incredibly rich. If you are a coconut enthusiast like me, look no further. The only modification here is that I reduced the amount of frosting, as the original recipe calls for more than is needed. 

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (if only sweetened is available, just use less sugar)

For The Frosting:
3 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine at room temperature
2 tablespoons cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Bake the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a twelve-muffin tin with paper liners, set aside. 
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the oil, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until smooth. Fold in 1 cup unsweetened coconut. Fill each muffin tin about 2/3 full. bake for 20 to 22 minuted; the cupcakes should be slightly browned around the edges and spring back when touched. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool. 

Make the Frosting:
Cream the margarine until light and fluffy. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and combine. Sift in the confectioner's sugar and mix until smooth, about 5 minutes unless you're using an electric mixer. Add the unsweetened coconut and combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Frost when the cupcakes have completely cooled. You can sprinkle some unsweetened coconut or add a berry on top for decoration. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cold Udon Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce

This is a considerably simplified version of a recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. I left out a number of ingredients that I didn't have around. The great thing about Isa's entree recipes is that they have so many ingredients that you can often leave out half of them and still get a great result. The only things I included that weren't originally called for are lime juice and poppy seeds. Both of these additions made for a wonderful dish dish, and perhaps offset all the omissions.

2 teaspoons oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2/3 cup smooth all-natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
10 ounces udon noodles
1/4 cup poppy seeds
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a small saucepan, sauté the garlic over medium heat. Add the water, soy sauce, and coriander and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and turn the heat to low. Whisk will until the peanut butter and oil are combined. Mix in the maple syrup. Remove from the heat and let cool. Prepare the udon noodles according to package directions. After draining them, rinse under cold water until they are cool to the touch. When the peanut sauce is completely cooled mix in with the noodles. Add in the poppy seeds, lime juice, and red pepper flakes (if you like).

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quinoa-Coconut-Cardamom Pudding: the best dessert in the world

I based this creation on the "Coconut-Cardamom Rice Pudding" recipe from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Only instead of rice, I used quinoa, a nutritious and nutty grain. The recipe calls for already-cooked grain, so this was an easy way to recycle some leftover quinoa. More important though, I realized that substituting quinoa (KEEN-wah) would complete a triple alliteration with Coconut and Cardamom. If there's anything I've learned from my vast cooking experience, it's not what a recipe tastes or looks like that determines the quality -- it's what it sounds like.

Anyway, the dish turned out quite well. I would still say that rice makes for a tastier and more satisfying dish. Rice gives a smooth feel, whereas quinoa results in a denser, crunchier texture. It's really a matter of preference. Rose water adds a great pizzazz but it's hard to come by and by no means essential. If unavailable, try using 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.

Serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa (or basmati rice)
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar or natural sweetener
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup coarsely chopped raw pistachios
1 1/2 tsps rose water (optional)
pinch of salt

Place the rice, coconut milk, sugar in a medium size saucepan over low heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cardamom and salt and simmer until thick and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the pistachios and rose water. Let cool to room temperature before serving, or cover and refrigerate to serve chilled.