March is one of the worst months out of the year in my opinion. In New Jersey at this moment, the weather is zig zagging to freezing or not-so-freezing. For a few blissful days, the temperature reached the 60's, but then promptly dove back down to freezing again. Spring has begun, but there are still no signs in sight. =(
For this first bit of spring, winter foods are still comforting but they've grown a bit stale. I'm itching for spring foods like light soups, salads, sandwiches, and quick sautees. One of the best ways to overcome the stagnant cold of winter is to...drink, Let's face it, St. Patrick's day is just an excuse to throw some Irish drinks back and forget about how long it will be before the warm days begin.
I often use St. Patrick's day as an excuse to make my favorite Irish comfort foods. When I was younger, my mom would make the hackneyed and traditional corned beef and cabbage with boiled carrots and potatoes. Not of the vegan persuasion at the time, I loved the corned beef the most. I never really liked beef, but I think I liked corned beef because it just tastes straight up like salt. Who doesn't love salt?
As the rest of the dish is very bland, the corned beef's saltiness is necessary to bring some flavor. As I've grown older and more capable in the kitchen, I've learned to create my own St. Patrick's Day culinary tradition: Irish Cream and Irish Soda Bread.
When I first became 21, I immediately took to Bailey's Irish Cream. I loved the fact that it was mellow, semi-sweet, creamy and tasted very minimally of alcohol. I'm not a big drinker by any means, but I do enjoy alcoholic beverages if they have taste value to them. Bailey's has it's place. I usually drank it around the holidays with desserts or in my coffee. It's definitely a relaxing and indulgent drink. Needless to say, I had to veganize it once I gave up dairy products.
Irish soda bread is something I never had a home made version of as a child. I didn't really know what it actually tasted like. Every version I had eaten was store bought and really dry. Not my favorite. But, once I started baking, I experimented with a recipe from Gluten Free and Vegan Bread, a cookbook written by the Seattle Flying Apron Bakery's owner Jennifer Katzinger. She has a Teff Irish Soda bread recipe that is quite good and much different than the traditional soda bread I had eaten back in the day. Teff flour lends a nice texture and flavor to the bread as well as wholesome nutrition. I made mine with dried cherries and it was quite tasty.
This recipe was good, but it was on the drier side with a stronger flavor. I wanted to create an Irish Soda bread that was a bit more mild in flavor so it could act as a canvas for any type of mix-ins. This year, I tried Babycake's Irish soda bread recipe. The results were very successful. The dough came together really fast too, which is great if you are impatient like me. =P
Having the Irish cream and soda bread together is like St. Patty's "tea time", only with a bit of whiskey added in there. ;) The Irish cream has been a big hit with my friends, who downed a good amount of it gladly. I don't blame them. I actually implore that you share the batch that you make. Otherwise, it may be gone and you may be drunk.
The only note I would have about this recipe is that it really does need full-fat canned coconut milk. If you must use a processed non-dairy milk, use coconut or soy creamer. The texture of coconut milk is almost identical to that of heavy cream and is the reason this drink is so delectable. Go ahead, indulge a little!
Vegan Irish Cream
Yield: 3 1/4 cups
I hope this recipe will tide you over until March decides to become spring. It can't come soon enough. Cheers!
So, it's been a while...
During and after the holidays, I have acquired some new toys! I was doing without a computer for some time and decided that it was far too awful. I now have a brand new laptop that I adore and a brand new camera that I adore even more! I wish I could take a picture of it...with it. That may be something I have to figure out some other day!
In the mean time, I have celebrated with brownies. Life has been tumultuous for me these past few months. I found myself lacking the motivation to cook or bake things unless I absolutely had to. This does not happen often, but when it does, I tend to still eat really delicious foods. I am going to take this opportunity to show off my new camera's abilities by showing you a picture of a random lunch...
I call this dish a...Mean Green Salad! (Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?!)
Nothing beats fatty plant foods. Vegans don't usually eat much fat if they follow a plant based, minimally processed diet. I aim to consume as much fat as I can without feeling absolutely terrible afterwards. Avocados are an excellent fat source and are so versatile that they can be used for savory cooking or chocolate icing. Another delicious plant fat that makes awesome chocolate icing is coconut!
Here is where I was going with that transition...
These are brownies that I baked into cupcake liners. I got the idea from my work. We usually bake brownies in full sheet pans. The pro to this method is leftover ends to snack on after you're done slicing. The con is that cutting brownies is messy, time consuming, and yields uneven pieces. I love individually sized desserts because they tell you exactly how to much to consume (well, they at least suggest how much!). They are also easier to transport. This comes in handy if you are like me and force my baked goods onto any and everyone who will try them. I also like how these brownies look...they're so perfect and round!
The coconut comes into play in a major way (rhymes!) with these brownies. I used coconut oil, coconut butter, and shredded coconut. I guess you could call that a triple coco play. Or, whatever.
The brownies themselves are best when they've set in the fridge for a little while. This helps them set up as the coconut oil solidifies. They become unbelievably fudgy yet moist, almost like a dense cake. The icing is like a thick chocolate glaze that also hardens when refrigerated. These would be great to bring to a party. Or, you could think about taking them but then bring some wine instead because you ate them all on the way there...
So, without further procrastination...(since I've done plenty of that!)
Magic Coconut Brownies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Yield: about 15 individual brownies
Also, this is quite possibly the easiest icing recipe. You can't go wrong! You can even make this in the microwave. It's not cheating; it's efficient!
Magic Chocolate Coconut Icing
Yield: approx. 1/3 cup
After all is said and done, I'm delighted to be back. I am also delighted to be able to take more accurate photos of my food so you can really get a feel for what it will look like. I wish I could send you samples, too, but then I really would never post anything. =) Until next time! ^_^
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.