I decided to get a bit crazy in the kitchen last night and we made a bunch of things to share with the group.
The first thing I made were my favorite Chocolate-Chip Walnut Brownies. I did add in some extra dark cocoa to the cocoa mix and they turned out just as awesome as always. (The recipe is via VegNews May/June 2009, Issue 67 and the link above.)
But of course I have to test some new recipes, so I made a gluten-free cornbread (trying to work gluten-free recipes into the repertoire) and a Strawberry-blueberry Vanilla English Trifle.
Yep, they turned out pretty awesome.
The cornbread recipe is from Babycakes' first cookbook and is a bit sweet with a soft crumb. It calls for being made in a loaf pan. I haven't tried the more traditional square pan.
Babycakes Gluten-free Cornbread
Here are the steps I took - The night before I, I made the following because they all need to cool/chill:
1. Lemon curd
2. Pastry creme
3. Cake - Victoria Sponge
The morning of, I :
1. Macerate the strawberries (save some just chopped to add on top along with blueberries, raspberries, etc., as you wish)
2. Make the whipped cream
I love lemon curd and have made it a few ways. The version I used here came from Bryanna Clark Grogan via her site - Vegan Feast Kitchen.
Some notes I would make about how I made this is, first I steamed the parsnips after cubing them. This freed me up to do other work. I would have let them drain a bit more than I did. I also, if I'd had the time instead of making this the night before, would have run this through the VitaMix for an even smoother look. I used 3 Meyer lemons and part of a standard lemon for the juice and the zest. It turned out relish.
This pastry cream will be a great filling for eclairs and more. I just loved it and it was super simple.
This recipe was also from Bryanna Clark Grogan but it took a bit of sleuthing to track it down, since it seems to not be on her site. I found it on VegSource.com. (not the prettiest site!) and it could not be simpler. I did grind the cashews in my mini-processor before measuring but that's the only modification. It was super easy to do and came together fast and was delicious.
Victoria Sponge Cake
I've been wanting to try a recipe from one of my newest acquisitions - Ms. Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town. This cake was so easy and great, I can't wait to make more of her recipes.
One note: Unlike its US counterparts, Ms Cupcake’s recipe book uses metric as well as cup measurements. According to Ms Cupcake , if you’re having trouble baking with cups, it could be because you’re doing it wrong. If you’re measuring flour, you have to pour the flour into the cup - not scoop because that compacts the flour and you end up with the wrong amount.
3 Cups + 2 Tbsp self-rising flour
1 Cup + 3 Tbsp (caster) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 Cups soy or rice milk (I used rice as that's what I had on hand)
2/3 Cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Grease and flour 2 round 8", 9" or 10" cake tins (Note: I used 10" because I wanted a thinner cake to cut up and layer in the trifle bowl. I also lined the bottom of the pans with parchment.) and pre-heat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Tap the bowl onto the work surface to stop the rising agents from working too quickly - you'll see any bubbles pop. Pour half the batter into each cake tin and tap the tins on the work surface to pop the bubbles again.
Bake for about 18 - 20 min or until a toothpick, inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 - 15 minutes in the tins and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
No real recipe here. I took about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries, de-hulled them and cut them into quarters and then sprinkled with about 2 - 3 Tbsp of sugar and then the juice of 1 lemon. Stir and let sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble, at least 30 min.
I always keep about 2 cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator so I have it on hand for easy whipped cream. Let it sit and don't shake it at all! Scoop the solid coconut fat from the top of the cans of coconut milk into a bowl that has been in the freezer for at least an hour (I also keep my whisk attachment in the freezer too). Do not get any of the liquid into the solids, leave some of the solids in the can if you have to.
Whisk the solids briefly until it fluffs up and then add powdered sugar and vanilla extract to taste.
For this trifle, I would use about 4 cans worth of the coconut milk solids to ensure you have enough to cover 3 layers.
I cut the two cakes into squares and then layered it into the bowl in the following order:
2. Whipped Cream
3. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
4. Lemon Curd
5. Pastry Cream
7. Whipped Cream
8. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
9. Lemon Curd
10. Pastry Cream
12. Whipped Cream
13. Fresh chopped berries
We also brought a savory dish to the gathering - a warm Sweet Potato and Chickpea salad (via Blissful Blog adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
We roasted our sweet potatoes for a bit longer than noted and added in some rice vinegar to taste for the dressing.
I traveled well and was delicious room temperature. I think we need to make it again to have it more warm.
All in all, we ate a ton and are stuffed! Our gatherings are good for the spirit but dangerous for my waistline!