Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

17 10 2010

Ganache is surprisingly easy and, in my opinion, a much richer, classier alternative to frosting. I used this to make and decorate my beetnik cake. It was easy to work with, looks great, and tastes even better!

ganache

This recipe is from the June 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.


Ingredients:

•5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
•1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•1/ tsp vanilla extract
•3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
•3/4 cup sugar


Directions:

ganache 11. Place chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla in medium bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
ganache 33. Pour hot cream mixture into bowl with chocolate and let stand 1 minute.
4. Whisk until melted and smooth.
5. Chill ganache until thickened and spreadable (about 1 hour).


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Beetnik Cake

17 10 2010

beetnik cakeI decided to finally make and share this recipe for beetnik cake: a chocolate and beet cake with subtle flavor and beautiful color. It goes well with raspberries (the batter even smells like raspberries) and chocolate ganache.

While the name of this blog has nothing to do with the cake with the same name, the two undeniably share a name. Plus, beetnik cakes are made with real beets, so this should be of interest to most veg cooks.

Thanks to Vegalicious for providing the inspiration and recipe!


Ingredients:

•3 large beets (to make 1 & 1/2 cups pureed beets)
•3 eggs *egg substitute to make vegan
•3/4 and 2 Tbs cup vegetable oil
•1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•2 cups all purpose flour
•1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
•1 1/2 tsp baking powder
•pinch of salt


Directions:

beetnik cake 11. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
2. Wash the beets, trim the ends off and cut in half. Place in a large baking dish and add a little water to steam them.
3. Cover in foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.
4. After letting the beets cool some, slip off the skins under running water.
5. Puree the beets in a medium bowl.
6. Add eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla and mix well.
7. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
beetnik cake 28. Add the beet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined – thickness should be similar to a brownie batter. You can add up to 1/4 cup water if too thick.
9. Pour the batter into a prepared (oiled and dusted with flour) 8 x 9 baking dish and place in the preheated oven to bake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is done when the center of the cake springs back.
10. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cake fully cool before preparing (cutting, forming, frosting, etc.).


beetnik cake 3Serving Suggestion:

This cake has been layered with a raspberry filling in the middle and slathered with a bittersweet chocolate ganache. Of course, the decorative aspects are completely up to you! But, whatever you decide, get creative and ambitious! I NEVER bake and I managed to do this, which, in my humble opinion, looks AND tastes pretty great!


Tips:

•The beet puree can be made in advance. So if you want to spread out the cake prep, that’s a great project to do ahead of time.
•This cake works great if you cut into thin layers and layer with a rich and sweet filling (such as raspberry filling or ganache). It also goes well with walnuts which you could just add to the batter before baking.
•Use cake scraps to mold 3-D design, using ganache as both glue and primer. Then mix butter cream or another white frosting with food coloring to serve as paint.






Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

22 07 2010

I’ve never gotten into the whole make-your-own-pasta thing. But here’s one pasta I will make over and over again. The recipe is easy, malleable and produces delicious (non-traditional) gnocchi! Instead of waiting for potatoes to cook and using a special flour, you just have to purchase a container of ricotta and use the all-purpose flour you have sitting in your cupboard.

This is from yet another great recipe from the amazing BrokeAss Gourmet.

gnocchi


Ingredients:

•1 1/3 cup ricotta
•16 sundried tomatoes (from a jar), chopped
•1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups flour
•2 egg yolks
•3 garlic cloves
•salt


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, flour, yolks, garlic and a pinch of salt.
2. Mix until a sticky dough forms, adding more flour if/as necessary.
gnocchi 13. Turn out dough onto a floured surface roll into 4 or 5 long snakes, about 3/4 inches to 1 inch thick.
4. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a light boil and add gnocchi. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until gnocchi floats to the surface.
6. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This gnocchi has a great flavor in and of itself, so you don’t want to serve it with anything overpowering. My favorite is what you see in the picture at the top. Sauté 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two. Add the cooked gnocchi and pan-fry over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Add 1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes (cut into halves), 2 cups of fresh spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the tomatoes start to soften and the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a little parmesan and serve immediately.

This is also good in a simple cheesy cream sauce (think: most filling, rich, tasty pasta dish EVER). Also, a great appetizer is to take some cooked gnocchi, pan-fry in olive oil until the edges are caramelized, and serve as an appetizer with toothpicks and a tomato dipping sauce.


Tips:

•I liked the idea of having a couple bites of pure sundried tomatoes in my gnocchi, so I opted not to use the food processor and to just mix by hand (chopping the sundried tomatoes somewhat small beforehand). It was also for this reason that I opted to use jarred sundried tomatoes over dry ones. The recipe didn’t specify, but I would recommend this just to have the added moisture.
•My first inclination was to add all sorts of spices and herbs into the gnocchi. I did finally opt for some garlic. But there are two main takeaways here. 1) You can really mold this into whatever you want. Replace sundried tomatoes with some other flavorful veggie or herb (perhaps roasted garlic?). 2) Just be careful not to overdo it. It is, afterall, pasta – something that is normally basically flour and salt. One or two additional flavors is enough, and the more simple you make it, the more different things you can do with it once it is made.






Soup’s on!

10 06 2010

So I have this strange tendency to crave soup during the hot days of summer. And as we’re getting close to that time, I figured I’d share my 2 favorite recipes.

Both of these recipes come from one of my favorite websites, Brokeass Gourmet. While not a vegetarian blog, per se, it is a collection of recipes that are often vegetarian or vegan, as well as innovative, relatively easy to make and, most importantly, inexpensive. If you like these recipes or want other gourmet recipes that won’t break the bank, be sure to visit http://brokeassgourmet.com today!


PEA SOUP WITH SCALLIONS, PARMESAN AND BASIL

pea soup from brokeassgourmet.comKnowing that not everyone has the same preference for a bowl of piping hot, hearty soup in the middle of summer, I thought I’d start with one that can be served chilled, actually making sense to serve during summer. With the crisp basil (from your overgrown basil plant?), sweetness of the peas, and saltiness from the parmesan, you will find this soup light and refreshing.

I do, however, enjoy this soup hot, served with garlic crostini and a light dusting of fresh ground black pepper.

For the full recipe, click here.


GINGER PEANUT SOUP

ginger peanut soup from brokeassgourmet.comThis soup is a hearty, flavorful and spicy dish that’s easy to make and even easier to eat!

First of all, I recommend filling it to the brim with your favorite vegetables; personally, I use more broccoli and add some onion and red bell pepper.

Secondly, when you have a cold, make this recipe and double the ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Your cleared sinuses will thank you! :)

For the full recipe, click here.


All photos have been borrowed from Brokeass Gourmet with their permission.






Tamale Pie

20 05 2010

This is a casserole-style, tamale-inspired dish, fusing fresh vegetables with earthy spices and a mild polenta crust. This recipe is based on one I came across in Vegetarian Times (view it here), but I have tweaked it some (namely the filling and proportions) to make it more veg-centric and gritty.

tamale pie


Ingredients:

Filling
•1 Tbs vegetable oil
•5 cloves garlic, minced
•1 large yellow onion, diced
•1 medium zucchini, diced
•1 1/2 peppers (a combination of red, yellow and/or green), diced
•1 Tbs chili powder
•1 Tbs ground cumin
•1 tsp oregano
•1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
•1 15-oz can tomato puree
•3/4 cup frozen corn kernel
•1/4 cup chilled water
•2 tsp flour

Topping
•2 cups water
•1 cup dry polenta or corn grits
•1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


Directions:

1. Heat oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Sautee garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
2. Add zucchini, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir and cook an additional 5 minutes.
3. Stir in beans, tomato puree and corn. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Mix cold water and flour and add to vegetable mixture. Cook 3 minutes; sauce will thicken slightly.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
7. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Stir in polenta and simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
9. Coat 9×13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.
10. Spread vegetable filling into dish. Spread polenta topping evenly on top, making sure it touches the edges.
11. Bake 30 minutes. The filling should bubble slightly and the top will become golden brown.
12. Let stand 5 minutes or more and serve.


Recommended Serving Instructions:
Serve with fresh salad greens, avocado and sour cream.