A Vegan Eats in Saratoga Springs

Perhaps you prefer to read about food rather than make a mess in the kitchen?  If so, check out the restaurant reviews I’ve written for my college’s newspaper, The Skidmore News, as its resident vegan.  

Mouzon House review here.  El Mexicano review here.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t touch beans.  Too mushy.  Thankfully, my palate now loves all foods mushy (and vegan).  Avocados!  Hummus!  And chili sin carne!  Here is my Meaty Beany Chili from the Post Punk Kitchen.  I kept the jalapeño seeds intact and added a Hungarian hot pepper, but I say it could still be spicier.  Delicious and satisfying nonetheless.   

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t touch beans.  Too mushy.  Thankfully, my palate now loves all foods mushy (and vegan).  Avocados!  Hummus!  And chili sin carne!  Here is my Meaty Beany Chili from the Post Punk Kitchen.  I kept the jalapeño seeds intact and added a Hungarian hot pepper, but I say it could still be spicier.  Delicious and satisfying nonetheless.   

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Ginger, Dates & Apricots

Topped with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting & Cinnamon Almond Brittle 

The product of boredom and too much caffeine is a more complex carrot cake than what I had originally envisioned.  Things got out of hand; dried apricots, soft dates, crystallized ginger, and toasted almonds grace these ‘cakes instead of orthodox raisins and walnuts.  And toasted coconut along with cinnamon almond brittle enhances the cream cheese frosting.  Laborious, yes, but well worth the sophisticated surprise.

Cupcake ingredients:  

scant 2/3 cup organic granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 soy yogurt (plain or vanilla)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup flour (all purpose or 1/3 cup all purpose + 1/3 cup white whole wheat)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, medjool dates, and dried apricots (in the proportion that you prefer), chopped 

1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

Frosting ingredients (double if you plan to pipe mountains):

1/8 cup margarine (such as Earth Balance), softened

1/8 cup vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti), softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish ingredients (optional):

1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

pinch salt

pinch cinnamon

1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

toasted coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake pan with paper liners (regular or mini-sized).  Toast almonds in saucepan over medium heat until fragrant and golden, then remove from pan to cool before chopping.  Chop dried fruit and dust lightly with flour so that pieces will not sink during baking.  In a medium bowl, mix sugar, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.  Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger into wet ingredients, and stir until just smooth.  Fold in carrot, ginger, dates, apricots, and almonds.  Fill paper liners two-thirds full and bake around 26 minutes for regular sized cupcakes, and 12 minutes for minis.  Use a toothpick to check for doneness.  (My regular-sized cupcakes came out a bit darker and flatter than I had expected.  I panicked.  I almost mourned.  But in the end they were perfectly done, the dates delicious and sticky, and I felt foolish for having doubted my precious little cakes.)  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.

To make frosting, cream margarine and cream cheese using a handheld mixer until combined.  Sift in confectioners’ sugar in 1/2 cup increments and beat until completely smooth.  Add vanilla and beat one final time.  Refrigerate until ready to frost.

To make almond brittle, add sugar, maple syrup, and salt to a cold skillet, then turn heat to medium.  Using a wooden spoon, stir 7 to 9 minutes, until mixture is thick and caramel-colored (it will bubble—don’t fret).  Remove pan from heat, add almonds and cinnamon, and stir to coat.  Spread almonds on greased parchment.  When nuts have cooled, chop brittle into small pieces.  It’s yummy.  Try to control snacking.

Assemble cupcakes using either a knife or a piping bag for the frosting—I like a knife for these cupcakes to create a more rustic look.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut and garnish with brittle.  See, that wasn’t so hard.  Share and enjoy!

If you pronounce “Isa” incorrectly, the pun might escape you, but the cookbook “Isa Does It” provides a plentitude of truly easy vegan recipes that any home cook can whip up.  That’s not to say that the recipes lack in flavor or originality—the contents range from hot and sour soup to harira to sweet potato gnocchi.
 I recently got my copy of “Isa Does It” and can’t wait to cook my way through.  I had to begin with cookies.  These are Isa’s Jumbo Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which I made to a more manageable not-jumbo size and subbed chocolate chips for some of the raisins.  Delish.  Now go get your copy of “Isa Does It,” because you can’t always rely on plagiarized tumblr recipes.

If you pronounce “Isa” incorrectly, the pun might escape you, but the cookbook “Isa Does It” provides a plentitude of truly easy vegan recipes that any home cook can whip up.  That’s not to say that the recipes lack in flavor or originality—the contents range from hot and sour soup to harira to sweet potato gnocchi.

 I recently got my copy of “Isa Does It” and can’t wait to cook my way through.  I had to begin with cookies.  These are Isa’s Jumbo Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which I made to a more manageable not-jumbo size and subbed chocolate chips for some of the raisins.  Delish.  Now go get your copy of “Isa Does It,” because you can’t always rely on plagiarized tumblr recipes.

Vegan Cookies & Cream Birthday Cake

Baking should be therapeutic, pleasant, joyful.  An act of generosity and love.  I’m picturing Snow White, surrounded by chirping birds, smiling as she rolls out a perfect (cartoon) piecrust.  But as a vegan baker, I often feel compelled by spite.  Each cookie and cupcake I share has to prove that vegan desserts are not, in fact, fashioned from twigs and chick peas and hippie black magic (admittedly, I’ve made some questionable deserts from our old pal garbanzo).

So when I was (self-) commissioned to make my friend Will’s birthday cake, I set out to bake a cake that would lower any eyebrows raised in skepticism.  Answer: chocolate.  And cookies.

I am not going to regurgitate cake, ganache, and frosting recipes here.  Be creative with your chocolate cake.  It is a delectable canvas awaiting your peppermint, orange, espresso, black forest, raspberry, ginger, what-have-you visions.  Let you eat cake. 

My cookies and cream cake was born from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Just Chocolate Cake recipe (doubled to make two layers).  To the batter I added about 8 chopped Newman-O’s.  Dark chocolate ganache, drizzled with the melted creamy centers from additional Newman-O’s (that I would later chop and mix into the frosting), coats the first layer.  The top and sides of the cake received a thick blanket of vanilla “buttercream” frosting (Earth Balance, vegetable shortening, organic confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract), speckled with chopped Newman-O’s minus their centers.  Candles enhance any cake; it’s somebody’s birthday, somewhere.

Let the creative juices (and non-dairy milks) flow.  Bake something amazing.  Let desserts be your vegan activism.

Ginger Molasses Cookies with Apricot and Dark Chocolate (Vegan)
I’m a second semester senior.  Lately I’ve been significantly more inclined to bake than read One Hundred Years of Solitude or study the Italian conditional tense.  Whatever.  At least skipping class in order to make cookies produces tangible, delectable results (not sure my degree will do that).  My GPA will be fine as long as I keep feeding my professors dessert, right?
Imagine: a ginger snap and a chewy molasses cookie have a baby.  The child reaches her angsty teenage years and experiments with sweet apricot and crystallized ginger and dark chocolate chunks.  Her traditional parents tell themselves that it’s just a phase.  A cry for attention.  
These sophisticated yet comforting cookies certainly get my attention; they’re soft, unexpected, and balanced.  Feel free to vary the add-ins.  Of course, bake until just done for chewy cookies, and a bit longer if you prefer more ginger snap-esqe rounds.  Makes 24 two-inch cookies.  
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice 
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 nondairy milk (I used soy)
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla 
approx. 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped and tossed with a pinch of flour to prevent pieces from sticking to one another
1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped and tossed with a pinch of flour to prevent pieces from sticking to one another
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease two cookie sheets.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and allspice.  In a large bowl, combine oil, molasses, nondairy milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients into wet until combined, then fold in the chocolate, ginger, and apricots.  Use your hands to roll dough into 1” balls.  Place balls on cookie sheets and flatten slightly, leaving about an inch of space between each.  Bake 10 minutes, turning cookie sheets halfway through (if you’re baking all of the dough at once).  Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

Ginger Molasses Cookies with Apricot and Dark Chocolate (Vegan)

I’m a second semester senior.  Lately I’ve been significantly more inclined to bake than read One Hundred Years of Solitude or study the Italian conditional tense.  Whatever.  At least skipping class in order to make cookies produces tangible, delectable results (not sure my degree will do that).  My GPA will be fine as long as I keep feeding my professors dessert, right?

Imagine: a ginger snap and a chewy molasses cookie have a baby.  The child reaches her angsty teenage years and experiments with sweet apricot and crystallized ginger and dark chocolate chunks.  Her traditional parents tell themselves that it’s just a phase.  A cry for attention.  

These sophisticated yet comforting cookies certainly get my attention; they’re soft, unexpected, and balanced.  Feel free to vary the add-ins.  Of course, bake until just done for chewy cookies, and a bit longer if you prefer more ginger snap-esqe rounds.  Makes 24 two-inch cookies.  

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice 

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 nondairy milk (I used soy)

3/4 cup organic granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla 

approx. 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped and tossed with a pinch of flour to prevent pieces from sticking to one another

1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped and tossed with a pinch of flour to prevent pieces from sticking to one another

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease two cookie sheets.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and allspice.  In a large bowl, combine oil, molasses, nondairy milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients into wet until combined, then fold in the chocolate, ginger, and apricots.  Use your hands to roll dough into 1” balls.  Place balls on cookie sheets and flatten slightly, leaving about an inch of space between each.  Bake 10 minutes, turning cookie sheets halfway through (if you’re baking all of the dough at once).  Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

Belated Valentine’s Day Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

 

I feel just as bitter on Valentine’s Day as the next demoralized romantic.  Pink carnations, chocolate boxes, and Groupon deals for Match.com memberships only bring to mind the bleak dating world that I prefer to forget.  But my palate escapes the infectious bitterness of February 14th.  Everyone—single, taken, hopeless, hopeful, carnivore, vegan—deserves something sweet. 

How about a red velvet cupcake?  These festive ‘cakes are crowd-pleasers that tip their hats to the American South all the way from New York’s frigid capital region.  Any amateur pâtissier can whip up a batch—don’t let three “from-scratch” components intimidate you.  And besides, baking for others is an act of love, so the only corner we’re cutting is that of the ziplock frosting bag.  This vivid vegan cake, moist with chocolate undertones, buried under dense dairy-free cream cheese frosting and crunchy hazelnut brittle might just transport you back to the 2nd grade, when receiving a stockpile of Valentines was guaranteed.  When you believed in love.  If celebrating St. Valentine still isn’t your thing, simply omit red dye.     

 

Recipe notes:

- For a truly vegan dessert, use organic sugar

- If you don’t have a sifter, I will lend you mine, but please sift!

- Use any nut you like for the brittle (pecans would be traditional), or omit entirely

- Recipe is adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

 

Cupcake ingredients:

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or other mild vinegar)

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)

1 cup organic granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon red food coloring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

 

Cream cheese frosting ingredients:

¼ cup Earth Balance (or other nonhydrogenated margarine)

¼ cup non-dairy cream cheese (such as Tofutti)

2 cups organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-4 drops red food coloring

 

Hazelnut brittle ingredients:

1 cup raw hazelnuts

3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

 

To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F and fill cupcake pan (regular- or mini-sized) with liners.  Whisk vinegar with non-dairy milk and set aside to let curdle.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk vinegar and milk mixture with oil, food coloring, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring gently until batter is relatively smooth.  Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full and bake 18 to 20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes, or 9 to 11 minutes for miniature cupcakes (check doneness with ye olde toothpick).  Cool cupcakes in pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

To make cream cheese frosting, use an electric handheld mixer (or, if you’re desperate, a fork and brawny arm) to cream together margarine and cream cheese.  In ½ cup increments, add confectioners’ sugar and whip until smooth.  Mix in vanilla and red food coloring until desired pinkness is achieved.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

To make hazelnut brittle, toast hazelnuts in a saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and golden (careful to avoid burning).  Transfer to a plate to cool.  Grease a sheet of parchment paper to have at the ready.  In a cold skillet, add sugar, maple syrup, and salt, then turn heat to medium.  Using a wooden spoon, stir 7 to 9 minutes, until mixture is thick and caramel-colored (it will bubble—don’t fret).  Remove pan from heat, add hazelnuts, and stir to coat.  Spread hazelnuts on greased parchment.  When nuts have cooled, chop brittle into small pieces.  It’s yummy.  Try not to eat all of the garnish before it gets to the cupcakes.

 

To assemble cupcakes, fill a ziplock bag (or pastry bag if you’re fancy) with frosting and snip off a corner.  Pipe swirls, roses, or blobs atop each cupcake, garnish with brittle, and delight in your domesticity.  Share with friends and lovers.  Or pop in your favorite Valentine’s Day flick (the jovial Silence of the Lambs seemsan appropriate complement to a vegan treat, right?) and devour the batch yourself.    

 

 

 

I only recently found out what TBT stands for.  So here I go.  Today is Thursday in mid-February, yet another snowstorm has begun, and we’re all feeling SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder, yes, but also just emphatically sad).  Tomorrow I’ll get back into the winter spirit and whip up something red for Valentine’s Day, but for now I am going to reminisce and sulk.  I made this zucchini cake six months ago, when blackberries were plump and heavy on the bushes in my yard, and when going to the ocean to eat vegan cake with my sister didn’t require a parka.  
Zucchini cake recipe here.  Sunshine, ocean, blackberries, and joy elsewhere.  Sigh.

I only recently found out what TBT stands for.  So here I go.  Today is Thursday in mid-February, yet another snowstorm has begun, and we’re all feeling SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder, yes, but also just emphatically sad).  Tomorrow I’ll get back into the winter spirit and whip up something red for Valentine’s Day, but for now I am going to reminisce and sulk.  I made this zucchini cake six months ago, when blackberries were plump and heavy on the bushes in my yard, and when going to the ocean to eat vegan cake with my sister didn’t require a parka.  

Zucchini cake recipe here.  Sunshine, ocean, blackberries, and joy elsewhere.  Sigh.

The snow persists: bake yourself a batch of warming vegan chocolate ginger cupcakes and commence (or continue) hibernation.

Whole Wheat & Flax Breakfast Bread (Vegan)
Lemony, nourishing, delicious.  Makes one loaf.
Recommended reading: Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner.  Kanner is the Meatless Monday blogger for The Huffington Post, and her recently published book falls somewhere between recipe collection and memoir.  I’ve adapted this bread recipe from Kanner’s Seed Cake.
Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
4 T. flax meal (or 2 T. flax and 2 T. ground chia seeds)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c. organic sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. applesauce (organic if possible)
1/3 c. raisins (of course, feel free to substitute with any dried fruit or nut)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 9”x5” loaf pan.  Gently combine nondairy milk and flax meal in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then add lemon zest.  In another bowl, mix sugar, canola oil, applesauce, and lemon juice.  Incorporate sugar mixture and soy milk mixture to dry ingredients, stir, then fold in raisins.  Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 45 minutes, or until your handy toothpick comes out clean.  My loaf did not crest and crack like I’d hoped, but the bread was still delectable.  Enjoy.

Whole Wheat & Flax Breakfast Bread (Vegan)

Lemony, nourishing, delicious.  Makes one loaf.

Recommended reading: Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner.  Kanner is the Meatless Monday blogger for The Huffington Post, and her recently published book falls somewhere between recipe collection and memoir.  I’ve adapted this bread recipe from Kanner’s Seed Cake.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk

4 T. flax meal (or 2 T. flax and 2 T. ground chia seeds)

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

zest and juice of 1 lemon

3/4 c. organic sugar

1/3 c. canola oil

1/2 c. applesauce (organic if possible)

1/3 c. raisins (of course, feel free to substitute with any dried fruit or nut)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 9”x5” loaf pan.  Gently combine nondairy milk and flax meal in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then add lemon zest.  In another bowl, mix sugar, canola oil, applesauce, and lemon juice.  Incorporate sugar mixture and soy milk mixture to dry ingredients, stir, then fold in raisins.  Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 45 minutes, or until your handy toothpick comes out clean.  My loaf did not crest and crack like I’d hoped, but the bread was still delectable.  Enjoy.