May 2, 2010

Vegan side dishes FTW!

I was called upon to make a vegetarian-friendly side for the 17th anniversary of my mom's 29th birthday, so I decided upon Veganomicon's Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf. The Veganomicon on Amazon's website


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely (about one cup)
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon coriander seed, crushed (spice grinder or mortar and pestle)
* fresh ground pepper, to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste (I substituted hot pepper paste)
* 1 cup quinoa (rinsed well)
* 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
* 2 cups vegetable broth (or reconstituted bullion)


1. In a small stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt; saute for another minute.
3. Add the quinoa and saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to very low, cover, and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water; stir occasionally.
5. Fluff with a fork and serve.

I admit it...

I sometimes like to doctor up store-bought cake mixes.

Phew! There, I've said it.

The Cake Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn, really knows what she's talking about. I'm making one of her creations for the 17th anniversary of my mother's 29th birthday. :D

Serves: 16
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Baking Time: 25 to 28 Minutes
Assembly Time: 10 Minutes

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries packed with sugar, thawed
1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix with pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Chocolate Ganache (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon Chambord (raspberry liqueur; optional)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease three 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

2. Strain the raspberries through a fine-mesh sieve if you don't want the seeds in your cake. (I like the bit of crunch they add.) Place the cake mix, raspberries and their juice, sour cream, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side, or if your oven is not large enough, place two pans on the center rack and the third pan in the center of the highest rack.

3. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 25 to 28 minutes. Check the pan on the highest rack first, as it will bake the quickest. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Ganache, adding the Chambord, if desired, after all the chocolate has melted.

5. Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with ganache frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer. Spread the top with ganache. Place the third layer, right side up, on top of the second layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Work with clean, smooth strokes.

6. Decorate the top attractively with the fresh raspberries, if desired.

Place this cake, uncovered or in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Then cover the cake with waxed paper, or place it in a cake saver or under a glass dome, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Chocolate Ganache

Makes 1 3/4 cups, enough to thinly frost a 2- or 3-layer cake
Preparation Time: 5 Minutes

3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon liqueur of your choice (optional)

1. Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate (or semisweet chocolate chips; see "the Cake Mix Doctor says") in a large stainless-steel mixing bowl. Remove the cream from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the liqueur if desired.

2. To use this ganache as a glaze, let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before spooning it over a cooled cake. To use the ganache as a frosting, let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, or chill it for 10 minutes, until it has thickened enough to spread with a metal spatula.