Today's prompt is "something blue"!
What a perfect day for blue shortbread cookies...it's been raining all day by me!
I knew I wanted to use blue cornmeal again for this recipe. I made some cornbread with it last year and loved it. There's something fun about the color blue when it comes to natural cooking, because blue is so rare in fruits and vegetables.
I took the only other accessible blue food I could get, blueberries, and paired them with both my cornbread and my cookies. I love berries and corn together, so it really works out! Blueberries are also a nice fruit to bake with. I almost prefer them baked or cooked sometimes. Their flavor develops nicely and they create a wonderful syrup all by themselves. They're also very healthy for you!
If yesterday's cookie post was oil-free, this one is its antithesis. This recipe makes only about 12-15 round shortbread cookies and it has an entire cup of oil in it!
Before you shake your head though, give me some credit for using only unrefined coconut oil! I actually love that the coconut oil gives a very subtle flavor to these cookies because I didn't want to overwhelm them with butter flavor from a vegan butter substitute.
Don't get me wrong, I still use Earth Balance and Melt sometimes, but I like to use them sparingly. For certain things, butter flavor isn't necessary. I think these cookies really have a wonderful flavor. If you change up your sweetener, you will be able to taste the different facets of flavor each one has to offer. I used Bee Free Honee in mine because it has a mild apple flavor that I love. The consistency of the vegan honee also helps to keep these shortbreads moist but not overly oily.
The recipe is very easy and you can use only one bowl for it! You don't have to roll out the dough if you don't want to get all messy. You can always do hand-rolled cookies (roll the dough into about 1 Tb amounts between your palms and flatten onto your cookie sheet).
Have fun with this recipe! Change up the berry you put on top, use jam instead, add citrus zest to the dough, make an icing for them, add nuts, whatever you feel!
For a serving tip: pair with a nice fruity black coffee. I did just that and it was sublime!
Blue Corn Sandies
Yield: about 12-15 round cookies
Free of: gluten, nuts, refined sugar
Preheat oven 325 F.
This retro recipe is inspired by a few things for me. I wanted to pick a recipe that reminded me of my grandparents. I picked halva because it is one of my grandpa's favorite treats and I always thought it was weird as a kid (and it's also a totally ancient recipe...now that's retro!). The only memory I have of it is seeing it in the Joyva package while thinking, "What is that?". Only till I became vegan and discovered all the wonderful things you could do with tahini did I realize that sweetening it was genius.
Tahini is just the sesame seed version of peanut butter, right? ;)
So, deciding that I wanted to make a tahini confection, I decided on grain-free cookies. I took inspiration from a traditional pignoli cookie recipe which is just almond meal, egg and sugar. When she first started eating a gluten-free diet, my mom requested these cookies at Christmas time. She isn't a big fan of sweets, so this came as a surprise to me. Pignoli cookies have a different character than a regular cookie, though. They are crispy, chewy, light but full of flavor. They're moist too! Moisture without butter or oil...what a wonder!
I decided that in order for my cookie to taste like tahini first and foremost, it must be grain-free. I added some things to the cookie dough for texture and sweetness, but not overly so. I think this cookie is wonderful as a snack because it satisfies a sweet craving but also offers some nutrition without a ton of processed fats included. The only fats in this recipe are from seeds (flax and sesame), so it is suitable for those who are allergic to nuts!
I added in a pop of acidity and flavor with chopped dried apricots and apricot jam in the icing. There's also a candied apricot on top because, why not? ;D
Apricot Halva Cookies
Yield: Approx 15 cookies
Free of: Nuts, Gluten, Refined Sugar (excluding icing)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
I am so happy that summer fruit is in full swing right now!
I made some peach crumble bars about a week ago for a graduation party. I love coming up with desserts for this particular group of friends because it's quite a challenge to make something that everyone can eat. I love a challenge. ;)
I am vegan, of course. My friends who hosted the party are unable to eat: dairy, soy and nuts. Most people who talk to me about accommodating friends with specific dietary needs have a certain venom in their voices. It must be tough for those who have to purchase expensive allergen-free desserts from the store. More often than not, if you're unable to get them fresh, you have to splurge on frozen products. I don't know about anyone else, but I only enjoy frozen things if they happen to be ice cream. Or smoothies. Or milkshakes. Or chocolate. Honestly, some chocolate tastes really good frozen.
So, I made these crumble bars because they seem to fit the bill perfectly. I had some perfectly ripe peaches, oats, gluten-free flour, and all the other ingredients just lying around in my kitchen wasting away. I decided to give them all a purpose.
I love peaches in the summer. They're juicy, sweet, tangy, and soft. Nothing better in a salad, on pancakes, in my smoothies, and just, generally, around and in my mouth. They also cook down very nicely into jam or compote. I made the latter for these crumble bars and it was the easiest process in the world.
I would definitely recommend a Vitamix/food processor/stick blender for the compote. It's not necessary, of course. I've also made the compote without blending the peaches beforehand and it came out just as delicious. The amount of time and texture does change when you blend the fruit, though. I found that it comes out more consistently and is easier for slicing the finished bars. Chunky or smooth, it's up to you. Now, if you would care to indulge (but not too much because this is kind of healthy), go grab some ripe peaches and crumble them! ^_^
Peach Crumble Bars
Yield: approx 9-12 servings
(1-8x8 square pan)
Soy, Nut, & Gluten Free
For the compote
For the crumble
Oven 350 F.
So, with some free time on my hands, some spare cans of chickpeas in my pantry, and a big craving for chocolate left me no choice but to make some delicious ice cream mousse.
I made a homemade ice cream cake around this time last year. The result was sweet, creamy, dense and satisfying. There is something to be said for that type of ice cream and usually it's "mmmmm!". But, today, I wanted to try something different. I wanted to create a light, fluffy yet richly flavored ice cream that would stand up to any dairy-filled gelato or frozen custard. I turned once again to my new-found friend aquafaba!
I recently made a sponge cake using aquafaba (chickpea brine) and I was quite pleased with the results. I wasn't quite prepared, however, to witness how wonderful aquafaba is on its own.
This time, instead of making my vegan meringue in the food processor, I used my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer! I absolutely love my mixer. It was my grandmother's first and now it's mine. It helps me make sweet and beautiful creations that I otherwise wouldn't on my own. I was so surprised to see how quickly the meringue whipped up and also how stiff (!) it got with the whip attachment! It behaved just like a traditional egg white meringue would. It also didn't deflate on me! ;)
I ended up with an entire batch of meringue that I didn't have a use for. So, in order to test its pipe-a-bility (?) I made little meringue cookies with my pastry bag. I've also never, even with eggs, attempted to make meringue cookies. They were never something I actually liked, so I never felt compelled to make them. My grandma loves meringue so I'm hoping I can make these for her one day and just not tell her that they're vegan. ;D
I was pleased with the meringue's consistency and its ability to hold up to piping. I made well-defined rosettes with ease and they never collapsed, even after baking them. I think I may have over-baked my cookies a tad, but they seemed to have the correct consistency inside. I still don't think I think them though...too sweet for me. ^_^' At least they look cute!
Here is the recipe for my meringue. It's absolutely amazing if done in a mixer with a whip attachment. I can't vouch for any other method except the food processor one, and I wouldn't recommend that method for this recipe.
Yield: about 4-5 cups of finished meringue
Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream
Adapted from: Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream from Vegan Chocolate by Chef Fran Costigan
Yield: a little more than a pint
Soy, Dairy, Gluten, and Nut free!
My dad and I are very alike in the fact that we love to snack. I could (and usually do) forgo meals altogether and just pick at different things all day long. I love variety in my diet. If I eat the same things at the same time during the day, I get so bored that I'd rather not eat at all. There's no fun!
These cookies are absolutely perfect. They can be eaten at any time of day (yes, even breakfast!). They're approximately 1,000 times more nutritious than their predecessors. I updated a recipe that I've had my eye on for quite some time. The original is full of butter, sugar, refined flour, and shame. I made these rangers full of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and feel-good vibes. B) Any ranger would do well in the line of duty with these cookies in his/her lunch box/stomach!
Make a batch and share some with your dad or someone who you appreciate for supporting you. Nothing says "thank you, I love you and your mustache" like chewy delicious cookies!
Chocolate Cherry Ranger Cookies
Yield: approx 48 cookies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Oh-and P.S.-Tomorrow is also special because it's the Game of Thrones season finale! Get pumped!!
Welcome to Ichiban Vegan!
This is my blog that covers all kinds of seasonal vegan recipes that I create and/or adapt. Since I decided two years ago to cut all animal products from my diet and spending budget (no more leather and cheese sandwiches!), I have been on a mission to sharpen my culinary skills and master the use of all plant based ingredients. All the while, I try to make food that I would want to eat even if I wasn't vegan. I've found that by thinking this way, I can sell my food to non-vegans fairly easily. I mean, let's face it. If you hand someone a plate of delicious pumpkin snickerdoodles, you don't really need to tell them that you didn't use eggs or butter, right? Until, after they've eaten 10 of them, you say, "Oh, so those are actually vegan!", will they look at you in astonishment and/or horror.
Luckily, throughout the past two years, my family and friends have been very supportive of my lifestyle. I was hesitant at first to attempt to cook things from scratch with the idea that my skills were not as honed as they should be. In order to produce palatable vegan food for those who aren't too keen on vegetables can be a bit of a challenge. Most people when they hear the term "vegan" automatically think of a block of tofu and a big question mark. They also like to throw you pity parties whenever they mention meat. "Oh, but you can't eat that...", they say with a false sense of remorse. I just want to say that I really find this funny; I don't find it offensive at all. I always laugh along with people when they make fun of my diet. I realize it seems extreme to many people, but I also realize that everything is relative.
In case you didn't notice, I'm taking this opportunity to tell my vegan origin story. I know no one wants to hear it every single blog post, but they may be curious later on. Many people ask why I live and eat the way I do, so now they have a convenient place to go read about it (and I can get on with my day...just kidding =P). Going back to when I was a senior in high school, I decided to give up meat for New Year's because one of my best friends was a vegetarian and she had introduced me to classic veg foods like falafel and hummus. These are staples in my diet now, but back then they were strange and exotic treats that I was in awe of. (WTF are chickpeas?!) Since I found new foods that were meat-free, I thought I could give up meat and be totally satisfied. Well, I was right. My diet then consisted of lots of pretzels, grilled cheese, and frozen veggie burgers made from GMO soy. YUM. Well, at least no cows were harmed in the process. (Or so I thought!)
The funny thing is, I still ate fish for years after I gave up meat. I became what I found to be a "pescetarian". I loved the diet. I ate all the sushi I wanted and didn't feel guilty. Because, let's face it, fish don't have souls, right? That was my thinking. Or rather, I didn't think of it at all. Inside, I knew I was contributing to the death of a living thing, but I let my taste buds run the show. To this very day, I still remember how delicious fresh fish tasted. It is the one thing I miss the most. I often tell people that so they understand that I'm actually a former person (I'm being sarcastic, I hope you realize! ^_^). I also wanted to stay true to the way I grew up. My all-time favorite comfort meal was broiled fish and gohan, Japanese white rice.
My heritage is definitely something that has inspired me to cook the way I do. I am a cluster of ethnicities, one of which is Japanese. My paternal grandmother (Ba-chan!) is from Japan. On both sides of my family, I come from WASP ancestors who hail from Ireland, England, Wales, Poland, and Germany. There's also a teeny bit of Spanish and Italian Catholics in there. (That and the Japanese really throw people off.) I've always loved learning about peoples' ancestry. It's one of the great characteristics of America. You never know who will show up (or what food they'll bring)! I always try to mix things up by taking inspiration from other cultures in my cooking. I think that is one of the best ways to connect with others apart from language.
Sometimes, vegan diets can be boring (just like any diet!). One of the ways I make food interesting is to use different ingredients. The word ichiban means "number one" in Japanese. I used this term in my blog name because I hope to create the best possible vegan food that I can with all types of ingredients. Most of my food will be free of gluten, if not all of it. Gluten-freedom comes from my other side of the family that carries celiac disease. I've grown up with my grandmother being gluten free and eating that way when I visited her. She always struggled to find good packaged foods to eat. My mom was diagnosed later in life once her symptoms became too unbearable. I haven't been diagnosed, but I decided recently to try gluten free cooking and baking just to force myself to become more creative. I realize that, like anything else, variety is the spice of life! So, using wheat for everything is probably not ideal.
As far as why I'm vegan, I direct you to Food, Inc. and The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life. Those books peaked my interest in the diet and also in the ethics surrounding said diet. My decision was an "experiment", just like my decision in high school to be a pescetarian. As for the first few weeks, I was upset I couldn't eat sushi. Other than that, giving up dairy and eggs was easy. I was already drinking almond milk all the time, so that wasn't an issue. In a culinary sense, eggs are only useful to bake with in my opinion. Otherwise, they often made me sick when I ate them anyway. Not an issue there, either. After two years, I barely think about cheese or eggs as food. I don't crave them at all. (Plus, there are some REALLY good ways to substitute them. I'll just say, thank God I'm not allergic to nuts or seeds!).
So, here I am: a vegan in her early twenties with a food obsession. What else is there to do but blog about it? =) Now, with all the origin story crap out of the way, I'd like to get to the fun part: COOKIES! These snickerdoodles are a fall celebration in your mouth. Snickerdoodles are traditionally a Christmas cookie in my family. My grandma would make them with us every year and I couldn't get enough of them. Once I started baking on my own, I made sure to make them for Christmas whether anyone else wanted them or not. (More for me!)
I decided that I didn't want to wait to eat my beloved snickerdoodles this year. As soon as October rolled around, I switched into Fall Mode. That means cinnamon on EVERYTHING! Cinnamon toast, cinnamon oatmeal, cinnamon tofu...it's all fair game. Naturally, I think of snickerdoodles when I think of cinnamon. But, in order to appease the retail gods who tell us that we should put pumpkin into everything once September comes, I decided to alter my recipe. Pumpkin-doodles, it is! I used pumpkin pie spices to coat these cookies for a little dimension. Really, this recipe isn't that original. But, these are mine! I adapted them from my family's go-to recipe for every Christmas.
I love snickerdoodles for their airy and crumbly texture. These are a little bit more moist in texture from the pumpkin. This is definitely not a bad thing. They almost resemble a cross between a cookie and a quick bread. You will find out sooner or later that I am a bit obsessed with quick bread, my favorite baked good in the universe (along with it's portable alter-ego, the muffin). Please feel free to enjoy these cookies with friends and family, the way they should be (ie, a batch for you and a batch for them!).
Here's to a new blog and new beginnings! I hope after this rant you will still follow me on my vegan journey to achieve deliciousness! Kanpai (Cheers)!
Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Yield: approx. 25 cookies
* I find that the cookies appeal to those who aren't used to coconut sugar's mild sweetness with the addition of the cane sugar or sucanat. If you prefer your cookies more subtly sweet, omit this.
** You can also use a silpat. Otherwise, lightly grease your cookie sheet to avoid a catastrophe. =)
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.