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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Homemade Gnocchi
2 lbs russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of well-rinsed spinach
1 1/2 to 3/4 c all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Poke four or five holes all over the potatoes. Bake them (you don’t need a tray or foil, right on the oven rack is fine) for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Do a test after 45 minutes; they should be very tender (mine took closer to an hour). Use tongs to remove them; place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. This could take half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach finely, and cook over medium heat in about 1/4 cup of water until it is completely wilted. Place in a strainer and press all the water out.

Remove the skins from the cooled potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and mash very well. You don’t want to puree them, that will make the gnocchi sticky, just mash them until they have very few lumps. Fold the spinach in. Add the flour in handfuls and incorporate it into the potatoes. Once you’ve added half the flour you can turn the dough onto a floured countertop to work it there. Keep adding flour and lightly kneading the dough until a smooth, unsticky but not dry dough is formed.

Divide the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope that is about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pizza wheel or a knife to cut the ropes into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Now comes the fun part- flour your hands and use your thumb to roll each piece of gnocchi gently down the tines of a fork. Each piece should be able to do about half a roll before reaching the end of the fork so the final result should be that one side of the gnocchi has an indent from your thumb and one side has ridges from the fork.

At this point you can sprinkle with flour and freeze any gnocchi you aren’t using. To cook them immediately bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water liberally and cook the gnocchi in three batches. Within 2 minutes they should rise to the surface; let them cook just under a minute longer and remove them with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a large plate so that hey aren’t putting any weight on each other, and sauce them as soon as you can. I like them with either a simple tomato sauce or sauteed briefly with pesto and veggies.
Serves 6-8

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
1/2 c tightly packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 c water
1/4 c almonds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
a few dashes fresh black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat off and let soak for about 15 minutes, until soft.

Grid the almonds in a blender or food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (with the water), garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and puree.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This was a really rewarding dinner for a day that I felt like challenging myself in the kitchen. Normally I don’t like something that’s so fussy, and I totally got frustrated with the tine-rolling segment (SO NOT THE FUN PART, ISA), but it was very much worth the while, especially when I was able to pull some out of the freezer a few weeks later for leftovers! I was a little uncertain about the texture of the dough and wondering when I should stop adding the flour, but I did pretty well with 1 3/4 cups of it. Kneading it was fun, and I felt like the spinach made my gnocchi a bit more festive, as well as healthy.
Let’s talk texture. Gnocchi isn’t for those who don’t like doughy things. These are SO DOUGHY, so toothy. So satisfying. I want to make all of the variations, but I try to save potatoes for special occasions- they just go down too easy. The texture of the pesto was a nice partner to the gnocchi- with a faint crunch of almondy goodness. Total perfection, this meal.
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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

8 slices good, dark pumpernickel bread
8 tsp nonhydrogenated margarine
1 1/2 c sauerkraut
2 dill pickles, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound tempeh, cut into four equal pieces, then cut through the middle so that you have eight thin squares

For the Marinade:
1/2 c white cooking wine (I just used regular white wine- Chardonnay to be specific. Then gave the rest of the bottle to my mom because I think it’s yucky stuff by itself…)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Dressing:
1/3 c Vegannaise
2 tbsp ketchup
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp minced onion
3 tsp capers
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or equivalent amount chopped pickles)
pinch of cayenne

Prepare the tempeh:
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the tempeh and marinate for at least an hour, turning once.

Mix all the dressing ingredients and set aside.

When the tempeh has marinated for an hour, preheat a grill pan over high heat. Cook the slices on the grill for 4 minutes on one side, until dark grill lines have appeared, then use tongs to flip them over and cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.

Prepare the sammich:
Spread a teaspoon of margarine on each piece of bread. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Fry each piece of bread on the buttered side for 3 minutes, flip over and cook 1 minute more (it’s okay that the other side is dry).

Divide the sammich ingredients equally among four buttered-side-down fried bread slices. Smother in dressing, top each serving with another slice of fried bread, nonbuttered side down, cut in half, and serve. For that authentic Jewish deli look, stick a toothpick in each half. Makes 4 sammiches.

There’s a local franchise that makes a really similar sammich (isn’t it just so adorable that Isa refers to sandwiches as such, consistently? I think so too), and I saw this recipe and wondered if it would be as good. And it was! I am pretty new to pumpernickel, so that was different, but the sauce and the marinated tempeh are really close to the Cafe Yumm! version I love so much. I’m actually thinking it might be a good meal to share with my family when we go to the coast in a few weeks (vacation hurry up and get here!!!), because my dad always claims that he’s missing out when he eats vegan food. This might just cause him to quiet his sammich hole for just a minute. I’ll let you know.
I have to admit though, that I didn’t read the instructions very well for the sandwich construction. After making two sandwiches, but using all of the tempeh and dressing, I was wondering why the bread was so soggy, and why my tummy was so full so fast. OH HELLO DOUBLE STUFFED SAMMICH. So, expect your sandwich to be a bit thinner, a bit more manageable, as well as greater in quantity than TWO, if you actually follow the directions. I can assure you that it’s just as tasty either way. Promise.

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet; douse with the olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add the chopped garlic, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, using tongs and toss to coat. Return to oven, roast for 5 more minutes. Before you remove the Brussels sprouts from the pan, rub them into the garlic, and, when you serve them, sprinkle them with whatever toasted garlic remains in the pan. Serves 6

This was one of THREE recipes I tried from this cookbook in one weekend. It was so simple, and so divine. That last step- the sprinkling of the toasted garlic? Genius. After the weekend of amazing eats that Isa provided the road map for, I just had to order her new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. I have all of her other cookbooks, so I thought I didn’t need another one. BUT I DO. Because this woman is responsible for so many of our good meals, a few pounds I’ve gained. And maybe this book will help take a few off. But I doubt it, because I can’t control myself around good food.
If you don’t have any of her cookbooks, I’m telling you, you’re missing out. She’s never failed me. EVER.

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 c soy cream (I used Silk plain coffee creamer)
3/4 c rice or soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 tbsp finely grated (blood) orange zest
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a measuring cup, combine the soy cream, rice milk, and vinegar, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the rice milk mixture, oil, and orange zest; mix until just combined; the dough should be clumpy and not sticky. Even if there is still a light dusting of flour it’s okay.

Divide the dough in two. Knead one portion a few times, then form into a 6-inch disk. Cut the disk into six slices, pizza-style, and place each slice on the prepared cookie sheet. Do the same with the remaining dough. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly browned on the bottom and firm on top. Transfer to a cooling rack.

When cool (if they are still only slightly warm that is okay) transfer to parchment paper. Pour about 2 tablespoons Orange Glaze over the scones; let the tops set before eating. If you simply can’t wait, prepare to have sticky fingers. Makes 1 dozen scones.

Orange Glaze
1 c confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine, melted
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a mixing bowl; add all the other ingredients and mix until smooth.

Biscuit, meet cake. These are SO GOOD! Instead of using regular oranges, I used blood oranges, hoping to get a bit of color. I am so pleased with the delicate pinky hue that the glaze has. This is not a dry scone. Oh, no. It’s light, with just a little bit of chew (ok, so I might have added an extra 1/2 cup flour. The dough was really sticky when I went to form those disks!), and they are sooooo good. The orange flavor isn’t over powering, and they aren’t too sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee and a little chit chat. Even after the glaze is set, they’re still likely to give you a sticky finger. So if you can’t handle a sticky finger, let me have your scone.

from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Omelet:
2 garlic cloves
1 pound silken or soft tofu, lightly drained
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fine black sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 c chickpea flour
1 tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch

Filling:
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, chopped
2 tbsp capers
shredded vegan cheese (go for Daiya mozzarella style shreds!)

Chop up the garlic, if using, in a food processor. Add the tofu, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric, and salt. Puree until smooth. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.

Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Well-seasoned cast iron works great, or use a regular nonstick skillet. Lightly grease the pan with either cooking spray or a very thin layer of oil. Also, make sure that you use a large skillet, as you need room to spread out the omelet and to get your spatula under there to flip. Don’t use an 8-inch omelet pan or anything like that…

In 1/2-cup increments, pour the omelet batter into the skillet. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter out into about 6-inch circles. Be gentle- if there are any rips or holes, that is fine, just gently fill them in as you spread the batter.

Let the batter cook for about 3 to 5 minutes before flipping. The top of the omelet should dry and become a matte yellow when it’s ready to be flipped. If you try and it seems like it might fall apart, give it a little more time. When the omelet is ready to be flipped, the underside should be flecked light to dark brown. Flip the omelet and cook for about a minute on the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with tinfoil as you make the remaining omelets.

To make the filling, preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the olive oil. Add the broccolini and saute for about 7 minutes. Add the capers and saute until just heated through. Divide among the omelets, top with the “cheese,” and fold the omelet over. Sprinkle with a little extra sea salt. Makes 4 omelets.

I must say, I was a bit skeptical trying out this recipe. I’m not a HUGE fan of the tofu scramble, and have mostly limited my special brunch makings to the sweeter side of things since going vegan. But, in an effort to be adventurous (and because I have been craving brunch for dinner for months now, but am too grown up to eat a sugary dinner, wow), here we go.
First off, there were challenges. You’ll notice that my fabulous Daiya shreds are not melted. Not a fault of the “cheese,” but of my stove. I finished cooking the filling and had two of the omelets kickin’ it under their foil blanket, when ZZZZT, stove dies. Dead! We have to move this production to the electric griddle, mid-omelet. Did I mention that the oven died too? Yeah. So, while waiting for the griddle to heat up, the filling is cooling off. It’s ok though, because I found that in the future, I’d totally use the griddle anyway- though I did end up using more oil than recommended because I had trouble flipping that first omelet (making the first and third of the four NOT PRETTY AT ALL). They were still yummy though! And so was the filling. Capers? Oh my, yes. The recipe originally called for broccoli rabe, which apparently is a bit more on the bitter side. I’ve never had it, and my store didn’t have it either. The broccolini was tasty though, and offered a nice crunch.
And about the black sea salt- apparently it has a slightly sulfuric taste that reminds one of an egg yolk. Moskowitz recommends skipping it if you aren’t in to the taste of eggs. I’d try it (heck I’ll try any salt), but the reddish salt I had was tasty too. She offers all sorts of filling ideas, which I’m so excited to try, now that I’ve crossed over into the savory brunch dark side.

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c oat flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds for garnish (I opted for chunky sea salt instead)

First, reduce the pumpkin. Place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Keep the heat low enough that it doesn’t boil, but it should appear to be steaming. Stir often. After about 30 minutes, spoon the pumpkin into a liquid measuring cup to check on how much it has reduced. It should be down to around 2/3 cup at this point. Return the pumpkin to pot and cook until it has reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the cooled pumpkin and vanilla.

Sift in all remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon onto cookie sheets in rounded tablespoons of dough, flattening the tops with your hand. Arrange a few pumpkin seeds in the centers, if you like (or just give them a sprinkle of big salt chunks, if you prefer, like I did. NOM!).

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin is something that my pantry is never without. So when I decided to make cookies on a whim one morning, these were an obvious choice. And the fact that I had to spend some time reducing the pumpkin meant that there would be no cookie dough for my mid-morning snack. I don’t know if I’d quite sell my soul for this cookie though. Maybe the intro for the recipe just built up my hopes so high that they were impossible to fulfill, but there just wasn’t enough pumpkin to them. I was hoping for something a bit more autumnal, really… and I think throwing some molasses in there somewhere might have given me what I was looking for. As far as cookies go, yes, they’re really good, especially with the delicate salting I gave them to bring out the sweet. They texture- firm, and not crumbly at all, is what really made this cookie win for me. I might have enjoyed just a bit more chew (hello, molasses?). But really, tasty little bites of yumminess, these were. About the reducing business- it actually took more like an hour for me to get to the desired half cup. But, perhaps I was being a bit conservative with the heat on the stove, as I didn’t want to come back from chasing my toddler around to find scorched pumpkin. The rest of the can of pumpkin made for a delish snack for the two of us, sprinkled with cinnamon. Another win for VCIYCJ!

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 c nonhydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls spaced a little over 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until ever so slightly browned. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

This here is the dough that you would stir into your soy ice cream to make the perfect cookie dough ice cream, veganized (wait, that sounds familiar. I might have said that about another cookie dough… at least I’m conisistent!). It’s really good. I ate way too much of it. And still ended up with 4 dozen cookies, which leads me to believe that our dear author meant that we should drop the cookies by tablespoonfuls. The cookies were pretty small, and didn’t need that 2 inches between them on the cookie sheets. They were a really nice few bite- size, with two cookies being a perfect serving. I did end up baking them for almost 12 minutes though, so maybe teaspoonfuls is what she meant indeed. I don’t know. I’m not complaining! Just keep an eye on them as you get to the end of your baking time! Also, the dough seemed a bit crumblier than I’m used to, but using my melon baller to shape the cookies worked like a charm.
I fed these to my non-vegan aunt and uncle, and mom and dad when they visited, and they seemed pleased with them- so much that a pretty significant number had disappeared by the time they left. I think they tasted even better the day after I made them, though nothing beats a chocolate chip still melty from the oven. Another win for Isa!

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

2 tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch or potato starch will work, too)
2 c cold water or vegetable broth
8 tsp olive oil
1 c shallots, thinly sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced into half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 portobello caps, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
3 1/2 c seitan, sliced into thin, wide strips
2 tsp salt
1 c Burgundy cooking wine
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c plain soy milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 c frozen green peas
1/2 lb wide noodles, prepared according to package directions

Dissolve the arrowroot in the 2 cups of water; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and onions, saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cremini and portobello mushrooms, and thyme. Saute for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, just long enough to coat it. Add the seitan and saute over medium heat about 25 minutes, until it is dark brown and crispy on the outside. If you are using store-bought seitan you need only cook it for 10 minutes.

Back to the sauce: add the salt, wine, and paprika (to the mushroom mixture). Turn up heat to high to reduce the liquid, about 10 minutes.

Lower heat to medium-high, add the arrowroot mixture, stir well, and let the sauce thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and mix well until it is dissolved. Add the soy milk and mustard and bring heat down to low; be very careful not to let it boil now because it can make the soy milk and mustard bitter (I just turned the heat down before adding it, and made sure those bubbles stopped. I didn’t want to take any chances). Add the seitan and peas; cook for 10 more minutes.

Divide the noodles into bowls and mix with the stroganoff. It is best to mix immediately so that the pasta doesn’t stick. You can top it off with tofu sour cream, but I like it just the way it is. Serves 6-8.

I made this for our wedding anniversary dinner last night. We’ve been married for 8 years! The time has gone by so fast, which is probably a good sign, right? At first Mike told me that he wanted me to make this for our special dinner. Though very yummy, I wanted more of a challenge, something new, and something special. Plus, I just got this cookbook, so I needed to break it in!
I saw that it called for a cup of shallots, one of my favorite flavors, and was sold! My only regret is that I didn’t make my own seitan for this. After making it from scratch, using storebought is such a letdown- so expensive and not as tasty. And the texture isn’t that great. Still, this recipe is a total winner. The sauce is so flavorful and rich. The shallots, of course! It smelled so good while I was cooking… I used a 2006 Pinot Noir from King Estate, one of our favorites, for the Burgundy wine. It was amazing. Plus, we had the rest of the bottle to celebrate our anniversary with!
Also, see that green stuff alongside the Stroganoff? That would be the most cooked side dish in our house- garlicky spinach. It’s so easy to make, and a good way to get your greens in for the day! Here, I’ll share the recipe with you. Maybe it’ll become one of your favorites too?

Easy Garlicky Spinach

1 tsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tub of prewashed organic baby spinach
vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over low-medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and spinach, and mix it up. Pour 1/4 cup of water over the greens to keep the garlic from browning if you hear sizzling. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, checking and stirring often. Make sure you pull the greens up from the bottom of the pan so that they wilt evenly. Once all the greens are just wilted, remove from heat. You want them to still have that bright green color, but they will have reduced quite a bit in size. Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you care to, sprinkle some vinegar on top. My favorite is balsamic. Enjoy! Serves 2-6.

from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Graham Cracker Crust:
12 graham crackers, or 1 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c canola oil
1 tbsp soy milk

Chocolate Pie Filling:
1 pound silken tofu (not the vacuum-packed kind), drained
1/4 c hazelnut liqueur (I used coffee liqueur, but the recipe says rice or soy milk work too)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
12 oz bittersweet vegan baking chocolate, melted

Maple Candied Pecans:
1 c pecans
2 tsp canola oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Peanut Butter Caramel:
1/3 c peanut butter, smooth or chunky, at room temperature
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp brown rice syrup

Chocolate Drizzle:
4 oz bittersweet vegan chocolate, chopped, or 1/4 c vegan chocolate chips
1/4 c soy or rice milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Prepare the crust: Process the grahams into fine crumbs. Place them in a bowl and drizzle the oil on them. Use your fingertips or a fork to mix in the oil until all crumbs are moistened; sprinkle in the soy milk and mix again. Pour the crumbs into the pie plate and firmly press them to the bottom and sides of the plate. Set aside.

Prepare the filling: First, melt your chocolate. Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor. Add the liqueur, vanilla, and arrowroot to the tofu and blend until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides to make sure you get everything. Add the melted chocolate and blend again until completely mixed. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. The center may still be jiggly but that’s fine.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack on the countertop for10 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. The top of the pie should be firm to the touch.

Meanwhile , prepare your candied pecans: cover a large plate with baking parchment. Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir them very frequently for 3 minutes, until they start to brown. Stir constantly for 2 more minutes, until they are a few shades darker and relatively uniformly toasted. (If a few don’t look toasted, don’t worry about it. That’s better than having them burn.)

Add the oil and salt, and stir for another minute. Add the maple syrup, stirring constantly for about a minute.  The maple syrup should get bubbly and dry. Use a spatula to transfer the pecans to the plate and spread them out as much as you can; it’s best if they aren’t touching. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the pie has been chilling for at least 3 hours, prepare the peanut butter caramel and chocolate drizzle. Have your pie out and ready to be assembled.

To prepare the peanut butter caramel: Stir all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Gently heat everything over low heat, stirring constantly with a fork, just until smooth and heated through. It should fall from your fork in ribbons. If it seems stiff, turn off the heat immediately and add a little extra brown rice syrup, until it’s fluid again. (This happens because different peanut butters have different amounts of moisture.)

Pour the peanut butter over the center of the pie, leaving an inch or two bare at the edges because it spreads. Get your pecans and place them on top of the caramel, pressing them in firmly. You may have to break the pecans apart from one another if they cooled touching.

Prepare the chocolate drizzle: In a small saucepan, heat the soy milk to boiling, then add the chocolate and turn down the heat. Use a fork to stir until completely blended. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can drizzle the chocolate over the pie with a spoon, but we like to put it in a pastry bag fitted with a wide writing tip and drizzle it that way, in stripes. Chill the pie for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the chocolate firms up a bit. Serves 8.

Where do I start?!? I made this pie for my husband’s birthday. He loves pecans. He loves a gooey dessert as much as any sane person does, and chocolate isn’t too far down on his list of likes either. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a special occasion; you know how I like a simple recipe, so this 5-part pie was a true expression of my love. I also asked him what he wanted for dinner on his birthday, and after a quick perusal of my blog, he chose this chili. Which was a huge relief, since it’s so easy and could be prepared ahead of time, leaving me the day to work on the pie and finish a painting for his gift.
The pie was INSANE. Insanely rich, insanely good. That peanut butter caramel is TO DIE FOR, and those maple candied pecans aren’t too bad either. Both of those I’d make again without making the rest of the pie- they’d be great toppings for ice cream or a simple cake. The chocolate filling is so dense and luscious. The only silken tofu available at the market was the vacuum packed kind, and it turned out really well; so I don’t know what the big deal is. Do you? The liqueur added a richness that I don’t think I was quite ready for. So did that chocolate drizzle! Maybe I’m just a lightweight, but I almost could not handle this pie. What I’d change if I were to make it again- I think I’d double the crust recipe. I had a hard time getting ample crust coverage on the pie plate. I’d make extra PB caramel. I would like more of it on the pie, and more to lick out of the saucepan. I’d also omit that chocolate drizzle. I don’t know if Mike would be very happy about that, but I feel that the caramel and pecans should be the star here, not the chocolate. But I guess it wouldn’t be so over the top with only four parts, right? Happy birthday Mike! I love you! xoxoxoxoxo

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Decadent Brownies

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 c dry sweetener
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c soy milk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c nuts (your choice), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the soy milk, oil, and nuts. Stir gently until “just mixed.” Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8-16 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

I didn’t set out to make two batches of brownies… it’s just that the first recipe really didn’t scratch the brownie itch I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the above recipe was indeed tasty and well received by my house guests, but they were too cakey for this dense brownie lovin’ girl. They were just like chocolate cake… granted I haven’t made a lot of brownies in my life, but would you peep that tower of a brownie? Looming over my Coconut Bliss was not how I’d pictured my dessert. I opted out of the nut invitation, due to allergies among our guests, and they were still tasty. I would definitely return to this recipe when seeking out a smaller chocolate cake. On to the batch of brownies I made later that week for a friend’s birthday celebration:

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Midnight Brownies (a variation of the Espresso Fudge Brownies recipe)

3 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
5 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
2 tbsp black cocoa powder (I couldn’t find this so I used regular cocoa powder)
a pinch of salt

Line an 8×8-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom of the covered pan with a little nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a large glass mixing bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the chocolate is soft enough to melt into the melted margarine when stirred with a rubber spatula. Stir until smooth, add the sugar, and stir again to combine.

In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the nondairy milk, cornstarch, and vanilla until foamy. Stir this into the chocolate mixture, using the rubber spatula, until completely combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture until moistened. A few small lumps are okay; do not over-mix. Scrape the batter- getting as much as possible- into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs (but no gooey batter). Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, if possible allowing the brownies to cool completely before serving. Slice into 12 brownies. Store in a tightly covered container.

Now THESE are what I was after. No cakiness here, the few crumbs are sticky and dense. No frosting or Coconut Bliss needed (though still welcomed. Especially heavenly with this, ungh!). And they would be really good with walnuts, if that happens to be your style. Next time I might try the mint variation offered.
This was quite the learning experience- comparing the recipes is really interesting to me- the wet to dry ingredient ratio should have been more obvious to me, but now I know! Each brownie had her strengths. Tall girl was great for soaking up her melting toppings, whereas Shortie satisfied me like the many slices of berry pie, oranges and tall glasses of herbal iced tea did while I was pregnant. And if you’ve ever been pregnant…