Monday, August 25, 2008

Ice Cream Cake!!

My roommate, Rich, had a potluck this weekend for his birthday. The night before, I couldn't think of what to make, so he suggested an ice cream cake! I always like making something new, so I was up for the challenge. And it was a challenge! Caution...don't try to make an ice cream cake only 4 hours before the party! It's actually not that hard, just make sure you leave yourself ample time to let everything freeze and set up. This is a perfect do-it-the-day-before kind of dessert. Here's how I did it (or should have done it)!

Ice Cream Cake
Makes one 9" round cake.

Your favorite cake recipe (enough for two 9" round cakes)
Yummy Ice Cream-at least 2 pints (I used Maggy Mudds Freestyle- Tarmack)
Frosting or ganache (3/4 cup soy milk, 12 oz. dark chocolate chips)

Step 1: Bake the cakes, cool and remove from pans.
Step 2: Take the ice cream out of the freezer for a little while to soften a bit.
Step 3: Line one of the clean, cooled cake pans with a couple layers of plastic wrap and spoon the softened ice cream into it, smoothing it down to make an even layer. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.

Step 4: Freeze the ice cream for a LONG TIME (trust me, 2 hours is not enough). Overnight would be great.
Step 5: Once the cakes are completely cooled, trim the tops to make an even, flat surface. (note: slightly frozen cakes are easier to cut).

Step 6: Place one layer of cake on a cooling rack, lift the plastic wrapped ice cream out of the cake pan, remove the plastic, and place the ice cream layer on top of the cake, taking care to line up the edges. Top with the other cake layer. Put back in the freezer for a while.

Step 7: Make the ganache- Put chocolate chips in a large bowl. In a pan, bring the soy milk just to a boil and then remove from heat. Pour the soy milk over the chocolate, let sit for a few minutes, then whisk gently until all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Step 8: Remove the cake from the freezer and set the cake and cooling rack on a sheet pan. Slowly pour the ganache on the top of the cake, smoothing it out with a knife and pushing ganache over the sides. Try to make it as smooth and even as possible, on the sides and top of the cake. (Note- sometimes it helps to apply a smooth, thin layer of ganache over the sides and top of the cake first, let that harden, and then pour the rest of the ganache over the cake as described. This helps seal up the sides and any loose crumbs for a smoother finish.)

Step 9: Put the cake back into the freezer until about a half hour before you're ready to serve it to soften it a bit (or less, depending on how soft the ice cream was to begin with). You can transfer the cake to a nice serving platter at this point if you want.

Step 10: Eat it. Nom, nom, nom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peach Almond Cobbler

Our scrawny little peach tree in the back yard finally cracked under the weight of it's peach filled branch (yes, branch didn't have much going for it), dropping all of it's fruit just before they were ripe. We left them out there for a while, and they finally ripened up, so I decided to make a cobbler before the bugs and birds got to them.

The cobbler topping in this recipe is a bit denser than some, but that may be due to the addition of ground almonds. I kinda like it that way, though. I also added some almond liquor to the peach filling, but I actually think almond extract would have been a bit more obvious. Oh well, the cobbler's just as good without the almond flavor, so it's no big deal if it's left out. I'm a big fan of fruit desserts, and it's been a while since I've made one, so I was pretty excited that the peaches were finally ready! Enjoy.

Peach Cobbler
Makes one 9 x 13 cobbler
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Peach Filling
About 4 lbs Ripe Peaches (roughly 9 cups sliced peaches)
3/4-1 Cup Sugar (adjust depending on tartness of fruit)
4 Tbl Flour
3/4 Cup Almond Liquor (of 1-2 tsp Almond Extract), optional
Pinch of Salt

Cobbler Topping
2-1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Finely Ground Almonds
4 Tbl Earth Balance Margarine or Veg. Shortening
1/4 Tsp Salt
2 Tbl Sugar
3/4 Cup Soy Milk

Peach Filling:
Wash, pit and slice the peaches and put into a large saucepan.

Add the flour, sugar, and pinch of salt and toss together until everything is wet and juicy. If using, add the almond liquor and over medium heat, cook for about 10 minutes until the peaches begin to soften and the juices thicken.

Remove from the heat and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

For the topping:
In a food processor, grind whole, raw almonds until they form a slightly coarse meal.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, and baking soda and mix until well combined. Cut in the cold margarine or shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the center, and pour in the soymilk. Mix gently with a fork until just combined, then for the dough into a ball with your hands. Be sure not to overwork the dough!

At this point, you can go for a rustic top and just plop little globs of dough on top of the cooked peaches, or you can roll the dough out into a 1/2" slab and use a cookie cutter to cut out cool shapes.

After you've placed the dough on top of the peaches, pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cobbler topping is golden brown and the fruit mixture it bubbly. This is good served warm with ice cream!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Liquid Smoke

I just bought a bottle of it yesterday. I've never used it before, but I've seen it called for in lots of recipes. I don't really understand what it is though, but it sounds cool. Maybe tomorrow night I'll try making the Smokey Miso Tofu on the Vegan Yum Yum site. It looks like a good place to start.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pizza Nights

We've been making pizza at the house a lot lately. I've always considered homemade pizza a huge endeavor, but it's actually not that bad. I've been using the dough recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance, which is really good, then we all make individual pizzas and put whatever topping we want on each of them! I'd really like a baking stone to put in the oven, though. For now we've been putting a baking sheet in ahead of time to heat up, and then transfer our made up pizzas to the hot pan to bake. It actually seems to work pretty well and the bottom gets nice and crisp. I don't have any recipe to post since pizza is pretty much whatever you feel like putting on it, but I definitely recommend making lots of little pizzas with friends sometime. It rocks!

Sloppy Joes

Here's a quick, easy, yummy, messy recipe that really hits the spot! I meant to post this ages ago, but I lots my notes for the recipe. After a thorough bedroom cleaning the other day, my boyfriend Jose found them, so without further adieu, Sloppy Joes!!!

Sloppy Joes
Makes about 4 servings

14 oz. Firm Tofu (not the silken variety), pressed to remove excess liquid
1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
2 Medium Carrots
1 Medium Green or Red Bell Pepper
1 (generous) T Garlic, finely chopped
22 oz Tomato Sauce (1 14 oz can plus a smaller 8 oz can)
2 tsp Ground Cumin
4 tsp Chili Powder
3 T Granulated Sugar
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce
Vegetable Oil

Finely chop the carrots, onion, and bell pepper.

(Ignore the celery in this picture...I didn't like it)

In a large skillet, heat some oil (a few teaspoons) over medium heat and add the chopped vegetables and garlic. Sautee, stirring, until the vegetable begin to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Crumble the pressed tofu, and add it to the skillet.

Pressing the tofu.

Sautee for another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is cooked. Add the spices, tamari, balsamic, and red pepper flakes. Sautee for another minute or two.

Add the tomato sauce and cook for about 5 more minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Serve over toasted hamburger buns or crusty french rolls.