Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Part-Time Vegan Interview!

Jill, the wonderful webmistress of has posted an interview with me about my book, The Part-Time Vegan! Take a hop, skip, jump (or, you know... just click if you haven't had your coffee yet), on over and take a peek!

My two recipes for Vegan Paçoca and Brazilian Orange & Blackberry Cheesecake can also be found in the "recipes" section of the site. Thank you, Jill!

Happy cooking, all!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vegan Paçoca

Paçoca is SO good. It is a Brazilian candy made of raw peanuts, sugar, condensed milk, and salt. What's cool about it is that if you replace the condensed milk (I used agave which has a similar sticky consistency and can hold the treat together), it is a naturally raw vegan dessert! Woot, woot!

It's so intensely peanut-buttery & salty-sweet. The consistency is really crumbly, which makes it fun to eat and make. Usually paçoca is served as little squares or as a crumble over other desserts. In fact, it would make a great pie "crust" to a raw vegan peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake.


Oh, it's also widely eaten around Easter time which makes it perfect for this time of year. If you travel down to Brazil you might also find a new variety of Hershey's that you haven't seen before:

Cool, huh?

Of course, Hershey's candies aren't vegan. But hey, one can dream. If you dipped the completed product of this recipe in some melted chocolate (1 4oz bar unsweetened dark chocolate melted w/ 4 tbsp vegan margarine over low heat) you could make your own vegan Hershey's paçoca!

Vegan Paçoca

(pronounced like pa-SSO-ca)

1 1/2 cup roasted/salted peanuts
3/4 cup tapioca or manoic flour
1 cup vegan brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar (don't have it? use maple syrup)

1. Process all dry ingredients.

Manoic/tapioca flours come from the cassava plant which is known as the "bread of the tropics." Many South American and African desserts/dishes are made with the starchy tubers of the cassava plant. Another cool fact about it is that, when not cooked or processed properly cassava is poisonous. Both varities, sweet and bitter, naturally contain cyanogenic glycosides. That is... a cyanide group contained within the glycosides (sugars bonded with non-carb molecules) of the plant. 

No need to fear, though! The flours that you can buy (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand) are completely safe to consume, and so is properly prepared cassava! Usually boiling, soaking, or baking the plant does the trick. In fact, I've had cassava several times before in various West African dishes and it is delicious.

The mixture will be crumbly before you add the agave.
I don't know why my hand looks like Quasimodo's hand here.

2. Add agave and process again. Try to squish the mixture with your hands. If it stays together, you're A-OK. If it doesn't, add a little more agave & process again.

3. Simply take a palm full of the mixture in your hands and press into small squares. Some people like to pat the entire mix down into the bottom of a pan and cut square shapes out, but I think doing it with your hands is easier.

Eat, eat, eat! Happy spring!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner Partay! 3 Easy Recipes

On Saturday I had a dinner party with some of my friends and we had an awesome purely vegan feast! It just-so-happened that way, as 3/4 people eating were not vegans (win for me!).

My friend lives in a beautiful apartment down by the river on the Lower East Side. I never remember the code to his building though, and I have to call him every time and ask like an idiot. Hahah, I've only been there about 17 million times in my life. That is an actual scientific measurement, if you were wondering.

You'd think my brain would retain the info, but. This is my brain we are talking about! It is too preoccupied with food. Unless I can eat that door code, I am not interested.

The long trek to his place from mine feels like a journey across several countries and perhaps a small continent. There is even wildlife to behold (rats and the occasional Hips. ter sapien)! After braving the frigid March weather and wild beasts like Indiana Jones, we all got to eat a cornucopia of wonderful dishes. I used the word cornucopia!

Luckily, I also had another friend to accompany me on the long walk. We always have earth-shattering, revelatory conversations when we travel to the Dinner Party Apartment, as if Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were strolling the cherry blossom-lined paths of Washington together discussing the epic problems of our modern era! (Not really). We usually talk about boys.

So, food!

My contribution to the evening (I say evening because it sounds Classy) was Pineapple Coconut Rice with black beans, white onions, and yellow peppers. I also made broiled mango- so delicious!- and fried bananas. Eating them separately is great, but I especially liked to mixed the fried bananas into the rice. Mmmmm.

Everything else at the party was amazing as well... we had some great tabouleh (cashews, lemon-olive oil dressing, peas, quinoa in lieu of bulgur wheat, and asparagas), delicious hummus and babaganoush, roasted red peppers, and of course wine!

Pineapple Coconut Rice

2 cups wild rice
1-1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tbsp citrus (I used kumquats, but lime and lemon work too!)
1 yellow pepper
1-2 cans black beans
1-1 1/2 yellow onion
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice

The picture of this dish is much less appealing than what it looks like in Real Life with its popping yellows and blacks. I promise it's incredibly tropically tasty and filling.

1. I used a rice cooker and 1 cup water, 1 cup pineapple juice to cook my 2 cups wild rice.
2. While that was happening, I stir-fried the yellow pepper and onion in the coconut oil on med-high until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the black beans to the rice when its finished cooking, stirring so everything is even.
4. Add soysauce into the rice mixture, stir well. Put rice into stovetop pan with the vegetables to heat everything today on low heat for 8 minutes.
5. Top with citrus and stir, add additional pineapple juice if you wish!

All packed up for travel.
Roasted Mango

1-2 mango
lime juice

This is delicious because the sugars in the mango carmelize and give amazing depth to this already refreshing, tangy fruit.

*** Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Cut & skin mango. The easiest way to do this is by cutting off both ends, and then carefully moving your knife down the ripe mango to remove the skin. Avoid the inner seed and slice off mango meat from around it.

2. Place on a broiler pan and roast mango for about 10 minutes. Check and see if any broil marks show up, if they do, turn the mango over and cook for another few minutes.
3. Remove mango from pan and place on serving dish, cover in lime juice. AMAZING, I PROMISE. Seriously, it's one of the best ways I've ever eaten fruit in my life.

Fried Bananas

4 semi-ripe bananas
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (or any flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp vegan margarine

I used garbanzo bean flour because one of my friends is Celiac. No whole wheat flour for her! Same reason we used quinoa in the tabouleh. What a downer. hahaha Just kidding.

1. Peel and cut the bananas in half. Then, slice them down the center from top to bottom.
2. Mix the flour and spices in a small dish.

3. Heat up a frying pan and melt the vegan margarine. I used med heat.
4. Cover each banana with the flour mixture and fry them until both sides are brown. Around 3 minutes on each side.