Hi! I'm taking a little break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back soon! :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mini-Giveaway Winners & Some W.I.P Craftiness

Greetings from LaCrosse, Wisconsin! Are you confused yet? Between my imaginary E.A.T World travels and my real mystery-job travels I barely know where I am anymore!

What I do know is that it's time to reveal the winners of the Kalonji giveaway! I asked Mr. Randomator to choose two numbers between 1 and 21. Mr. Randomator consulted with his muse and then he spoke: "nine... and seven".

Comment number seven belongs to a certain someone who is vegan... and strong... it's Gina! Comment number nine belongs to Danielle, who decided not to enter the giveaway because she lives near an Indian grocery. So thanks to Danielle's convenient location someone else gets to win a bag of Kalonji! Thank you, Danielle, for giving someone else a chance to try some black onion seed goodness! :)

Mr. Randomator consulted his muse again, but this time he only needed to choose one number. Mr. Randomator spoke: "four".

Comment number four belongs to someone who just cannot resist a cute mini bundt pan... it's Andrea! Congrats ladies! Please send me an email with your address at thecraftykook (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send them to you as soon as possible. YAY! This was fun! :)

Moving on to crafty things, I am very excited to inform you that I am officially joining Shellyfish's W.I.P Wednesdays! My objective is to sew something new at least every two weeks and then blog about it here. I will most likely do little giveaways instead of keeping my crafty stuffs for myself.

A couple of things I have already made:

Cupcake Coin Purse

Happy Apple Coin Purse

And I am currently working on this:

Meet Captain Piggull. He was supposed to be a seagull, but his feet make him look kind of like a pigeon, so he's a Piggull. This will actually be my new wallet, if I ever finish it.

Every couple of weeks I will do a crafty giveaway and one of you will get up close and personal with my rookie stitchery. Again, no need to alert the media, this isn't a way for me to attract more interwebs traffic, I just want to share the craftiness! :)

Any special requests in case you are one of my craftiness victims?

Monday, March 22, 2010

E.A.T World: India (Butter Tofu, Aloo Phujia, and Peshwari Naan)

(The giveaway is at the bottom of this post. Don't alert the media or quit your job though, this is just a very tiny gift. It's minuscule. It's almost invisible. Really, you will have to squint to see it.)

I like Indian food! I like Indian food! Who knew? I have always been scared of all the spices and the heat factor of most Indian dishes, and the fact that I am not a fan of coriander didn't help at all. Well, somebody slap me for being such a philistine!

As you can see, my E.A.T World entries won't be posted in alphabetical order anymore. Our travels make it difficult to organize any kind of meal plan and it will be easier for me to just wing-it.

Anyway, because I am so new to Indian cuisine I have been relying on other people's recipes instead of creating my own. Like this awesome recipe for Butter Chicken from allrecipes.com:

E.A.T World: India, Butter Tofu

This recipe was perfect for a newbie like me! Instead of chicken I used tofu chunks, and instead of heavy cream I used a combo of coconut milk and oat milk. Knowing my wimpiness when it comes to too much heat, I reduced the amount of cayenne pepper significantly.

Get a little closer, don't be shy...

E.A.T World: India, Butter Tofu

I also made an awesome potato dish (with the cayenne toned down again) from allrecipes.com called Aloo Phujia. The saucy rice stuff on the side is Mushroom Korma which I made after reading 1,258 chicken korma recipes. I was really winging it with that one.

E.A.T World: India, Aloo Phujia and Mushroom Korma... ish

And then I made the Aloo Phujia again, but instead of cooking the potatoes in oil, I tried Earth Balance, and I also added some mustard seeds. Awesomeness!

E.A.T World: India, Aloo Phujia (with mustard seeds)

OK, now it's time for my latest addiction! Ladies and gentlemen and all creatures of the universe, I give you... Peshwari Naan!

E.A.T World: India, Peshwari Naan Filling

*Drool* This stuff is IT! I could eat Peshwari Naan every day for the rest of my life! And to think that I never would have had the pleasure of stuffing myself senseless with this if my buddy the Wabbit hadn't passed on her addiction to me (Thanks buddy!). The filling is a delicious concoction of ground almonds, coconut, sugar and apple. It's supposed to have raisins instead of sugar, but raisins and I are sworn enemies.

For the dough I used this recipe (quartered) minus the egg, and instead of garlic I used black onion seeds, AKA kalonji. For the filling I used this recipe minus the evil raisins, and instead of applesauce I used fresh pureed apple. The step by step pictures were very helpful! We don't have a gas stove so I cooked them on a cast iron skillet.

If you're thinking about making your own naan, you should definitely get yourself some black onion seeds! I have a feeling that naan would be much like plain pita without them. Those little seeds can be very elusive though! I checked the international foods isle at two standard grocery stores, and I looked all over our local Whole Foods but they were nowhere to be found. Luck was on my side and I was fortunate enough to find an excellent India Market not ten minutes from here! Joy! They are not expensive (I paid $2.49 per each 7oz bag) but they are not too easy to find.

E.A.T World: India, Black Onion Seeds
Kalonji/black onion seeds

Finally, I made some Mango Lassi which is a colorful drink made with mangoes, yogurt (I used this kind) and milk or water. Meh. What was I thinking? I don't really like yogurt! It would probably be more compatible with my taste buds if instead of yogurt it had a few tablespoons of coconut milk.

This has been my favorite gastronomic adventure so far! I probably never would have found out that I love Indian food if it wasn't for E.A.T! This is the most smitten I have been with this challenge since it started back in January. *smitten kitten*

Now about that giveaway. Instead of pointing and laughing at those of you who cannot find black onion seeds/kalonji locally, I am giving away two bags! Interested? Anyone can enter! You don't have to do anything special, no twittering or facebooking or standing on your head while you do the Macarena, every comment left on this post gets an entry. Unless you don't want the seeds, of course. But then again if you don't want them you can always nominate another blogger, and if Mr. Random Number Generator picks you, the seeds go to your nominee.

Mr. Randomator will pick two winners on March 31st (some time after Mr. Wing-It and I check into our hotel) and each winner will get one 7oz bag of Kalonji. I will mail them as soon as possible from wherever Mr. Wing-It and I might be that week.

P.S: Do you like my new blog header? All the widgets from the sidebar disappeared for some reason and I had to add them all again, including the blog links. They will get there, I have to add them all one by one! :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

E.A.T World: France! Chocolate Mousse and Ratatouille

(This post will seem never-ending but it's mostly just a long recipe)


Whenever I think of France, I think of the movie Sabrina (1954), more specifically the scene where Audrey Hepburn sings La Vie en Rose to Humphrey Bogart. Audrey lovers know what I'm talking about, and for those of you who haven't seen Sabrina, here is that scene:

*Sigh* That scene always makes me all misty-eyed and aware of my own plainness. I could gush over Audrey Hepburn's loveliness and gracefulness forever, but not today. Today is all about the moose!

No wait. The mousse! It's all about chocolate mousse! :)

E.A.T World: France, Chocolate Mousse

All the recipes that I found for dairy-free chocolate mousse called for silken tofu, but I wanted to make this dessert soy-free as well. What to do? Well, consult with the all-knowing entity that we know as Alton Brown, of course! His non-vegan chocolate mousse recipe inspired the following gelatin-free, dairy-free, soy-free chocolate mousse.

Alton's recipe calls for whipping cream, but of course I used coconut milk instead. Are you shocked? I swear I don't own stock in any coconut milk manufacturer, I just love the stuff! Anyway, the can of coconut milk should be refrigerated for a few hours, or ideally overnight. This gives the coconut fat plenty of time to separate itself from the liquid so we can whip it up and turn it into a beautifully fluffy cream. Don't throw the clear liquid away though! We're going to use the whole can of coconut goodness!

Chocolate Mousse (Inspired by Alton Brown's recipe)

1 14oz can coconut milk (cold, full fat)
2 tablespoons powder sugar or sweetener of choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons agar flakes
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Open the can of cold coconut milk and scoop out all the separated cream into a medium size mixing bowl. Try not to scoop out too much of the liquid along with the cream, it's best to leave some bits of fat floating around the coconut water in the can than to mix too much liquid with the fat.

2. Add the sweetener and vanilla extract to the cream. Using an electric mixer (with cold beaters) beat the cream until light and fluffy for about two minutes. Refrigerate it while you work on the chocolate (you will need the beaters again later).

3. Pour the liquid contents of the coconut milk can into a saucepan and stir in the agar flakes. Let the agar flakes soak in the liquid for 15 minutes. Simmer for about 8 minutes until the flakes are mostly dissolved. My flakes never dissolve completely! If your agar flakes are rebellious too, just transfer the saucepan contents to a blender or magic bullet and blend for a minute or two.

4. Place the chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. Using a fine mesh strainer to catch any undissolved agar flakes, pour the hot liquid/agar mixture right over the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Not getting smooth? Microwave it for 20 seconds and stir vigorously until smooth. Repeat if necessary. Refrigerate for two hours.

5. Remove the cold chocolate from the fridge and use an electric mixer to beat it until soft and creamy, about one minute.

6. If you were able to resist eating the coconut cream by the spoonful, remove it from the fridge and use a spatula to gently fold (don't stir or beat or whisk!) 3/4 cup of cream into the chocolate. This will leave you about 1/4 cup of coconut cream that you can serve as a topping later. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but the longer you wait the better!

A few pictures that might help you visualize what everything should look like:

Coconut fat straight out of the can, pre-whipping:

Coconut fat, whipped:

Cold and set chocolate/agar liquid mixture:

And then whipped with an electric mixer:

Folding the coconut cream into the creamy chocolate:

I like to top mine with some of that delicious leftover whipped coconut cream...

E.A.T World: France, Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream

And some sliced strawberries are a perfect addiction... I mean, addition! :)

E.A.T World: France, Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream and Strawberries

Open wide! Here comes the airplane!

E.A.T World: France, Chocolate Mousse Bite

Keep in mind that I have only made this mousse twice, and it came out different both times. The first time it was more porous and the second time it was creamier. The first time that I made it I did not use the whole liquid part of the coconut milk, which made the chocolate too stiff to whip. Both versions were very délicieux though! :)

Oh, yeah. I made ratatouille too.

Ratatouille on millet
Poor ratatouille, the chocolate mousse totally stole its thunder. It was still very tasty and awesomely stewy though. Stewy ratatouille recipe.

Bon appétit! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Eureka Brownies!

This post will be short and sweet! I recently celebrated my birthday with a dreamy batch of vegan brownies. I received so many birthday presents that I feel incredibly spoiled. To fix that, I would like to give you my lovely readers a little gift...

Eureka Brownies!
Eureka Brownies!

I call them Eureka Brownies because this recipe renders a deliciously fudgy brownie with a wonderfully crusty top - not a soft cake top. Eureka!

Eureka Brownies!

3/4 cup turbinado or white sugar (see notes)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup coconut milk (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup regular cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

2- Pulverize the sugar in a blender or food processor. I use the Magic Bullet and it works like a charm. This is the most important step, the sugar should be very fine and flourlike.

3- In a mixing bowl or measuring jar whisk together the oil, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the pulverized sugar and whisk until everything is well combined and smooth.

4- In a medium size mixing bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips to somewhat coat them with the dry ingredients.

5- Pour the mix of sugar and liquids on top of the flour mix and gently stir until just until combined. It's extremely vital that you don't overmix the batter!

6- Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. It shouldn't be pourable like cake, it should be pretty thick.

7- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached but not gooey. Check two or three different spots in case you hit a deceiving chocolate chip! Let it cool completely in the pan before cutting them into squares... or if you're like me, dig in while they are still at tongue-melting temperature.


- Really pulverize the life out of the sugar. Let it sit in the blender or food processor for a minute after you pulverize it to avoid a sugar *POOF* in your face when you remove the lid. I use the Magic Bullet with the flat blades. My buddy Becks found a baking tip somewhere on the interwebs that said that melting the sugar and butter together is what gives brownies that perfect top. That is why I grind the sugar and make it as fine as possible, so the big turbinado crystals can easily dissolve in the oil. If you would like to try them with some sort of melted buttery spread instead of oil, go for it! I wanted to make them with oil so my soy-free readers could enjoy these too.

- You can make a smoothie (using a blender) with the sugar, oil, milk and vanilla instead of pulverizing the sugar first. The brownie tops don't get quite as crusty as they do with the pulverized sugar, but if you're having a brownie emergency it will save you a couple of minutes.

- You might want to increase the amount of sugar to 1 full cup instead of 3/4 cup. My taste buds don't like things that are too sweet and I usually reduce the amount of sugar that is called for in most recipes. If you have normal taste buds, then you probably should do one cup of sugar.

- You can use any kind of milk if you don't want to use coconut milk. I like the extra richness that coconut milk gives to baked goods.

- Replace some of the cocoa powder with equal amounts of melted chocolate chips/baking bar for extra fudginess.

- The brownies come out thin like the ones in the picture, double the recipe if you like thicker brownies.

I love these, I have made them so many times in the past few weeks that they are second nature to me now. I hope you enjoy them too!

UPDATE: Sophie made a "Mint Chocolate Chip" version of these brownies. The mint chips make the brownies look so festive and yummy! Check out her recipe!

UPDATE #2: Krys made an "Almond Joy" version for the Worldwide Vegan Bakesale for Haiti and they sound ridiculously delicious. Check out her recipe!

UPDATE #3: DennyBerry (who needs to start a baking blog *hint hint*) tried these with powdered sugar and they weren't as brownie-like. Then I made a batch with powdered sugar to see exactly how they turned out, and they were pretty crumbly and cakey. Pulverized (or very well dissolved) turbinado or white sugar still reign supreme!

Mr. Wing-It and I are back on the road and incredibly busy, but I refuse to neglect this blog again. Next week the E.A.T World series will resume with a virtual trip to France and a recipe for soy-free chocolate mousse. Speaking of France, check out Mandee's amazing E.A.T World: France post! Enjoy Mandee's délicieux Mushroom Bourguignon, Potato Gratin, Bohemienne, Croissants, and Croissant-hungry kittehs. Bon appetit and au revoir!