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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fifty Shades of Elf

Well, this has been a really fun week in the Elfin Kitchen...found some lovely new cookie recipes to try and both of them turned out quite nicely. We made a ‘family sized batch of The Gentle Chef’s Shredded Chikun and at least two batches of his Bacun (see the blog post of 5.10.15 titled Gone With the Elf for a blow by blow account of how to make the Bacun). There were NO epic fails this week, for which The Elf was truly grateful. We’ll recap the stuffs we made with some pictures after our EXPERT RECIPE OF THE WEEK is shared.
This week we’d selected the Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu from Susan Voisin’s awesome site FatFree Vega
We totally enjoyed this dish and high recommend it if you are a fan of Thai food. As usual, we made it spicy. As we practice our kinky cookery, we are trying to become more organized with preparation activities. So, we’re off and cookin’!
Here are the ingredients for the recipe with the exception of the tofu. It had been squished by an iron skillet to get the excess water out, cubed and placed in a plastic bag with the easy to fix marinade. You’ll see a picture of the tofu shortly
 And here’s the tofu that had been pressed and cubed. We let ours marinate a pretty good while since we are lovers of intense flavors—for example, when Susan’s recipe calls for a range of Sriracha sauce, we go the maximum and then wind up adding even more! There are two pictures here, one of the tofu ready for the oven and a close-up of a couple of the cubes to give you an idea of how the peppery marinade looked.
As the tofu was baking, we began cooking the veggies. We opted for broccoli florets rather than the kale along with the onions, mushrooms, bell pepper and asparagus. We sautéed the onions and added the remaining vegetables in our little wok pan.
And the final dish looked like this. We served it over brown rice but our picture of the plated dish was awful…all blurry and cloudy (so we guess that was our epic fail of the week). You can get an idea of just how delicious this was just by the wok view!
 The recipe selection for this coming week (OMG--IT’S JUNE ALREADY!!) was really a no-brainer for us! When Susan posted it as a featured recipe, we were ON IT! It’s the Seitan Saltado Peruvian Stir Fry with Potatoes. Just the sight of the word Peruvian in the recipe was enough to titillate our taste buds.
The cookies we tried this week were so much fun! You know, we love to bake sweet stuffs (we are indeed all about FIFTY SHADES OF TASTES AND FLAVORS) and share them with folks. Well, we had run the table, in our mind, on variations of oatmeal cookies to take to the fine folks at the Animal Rescue Fund of MS (ARF/MS) and wanted to offer them something a bit different. So, here are the two recipes we found. First we made Vegan Lemon Sugar Cookies. One of the comments at the end of the recipe speaks to the amount of oil that is in the original recipe...3/4 cup of canola oil. The reviewer suggested that ½ cup of oil (we used coconut oil instead of canola) and ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce would work well and reduce the amount of oil. We did that and it worked beautifully. In fact, next time, we may go ½ and ½ oil and applesauce to reduce it even further. In any event, these were quite lovely and luscious IF you are into lemony stuffs!
And while we thoroughly enjoyed the Lemon cookies, we were totally captivated by this next recipe! When we saw them during a search for something new and different, we knew we had to try them. They are called Grandma’s Cornflake Cookies. As we were making them, we kept thinking…uh-oh, this isn’t going to work. The dough was really soft and we felt like it just wouldn’t hold together and would most likely spread out all over the pan. What a delicious surprise!! We could hardly wait for the first batch to cool off enough to try one! Holy Yumminess!! Try them—you’ll like them!
A couple of other offerings from the week. One night, we had just a plain ole Southern dinner of sautéed cabbage, black-eyed peas and vegan cornsticks. We just LOVED it and especially the cornsticks. We thought we’d made enough to share with some friends but lo and behold, we ate them all over the next day or so. No recipes or links, just good old chopped up cabbage sautéed in a bit of peanut oil (or you could use grape seed) with some liquid smoke flavoring. We also infused our oil with some of the Bacun ends that were cubed. The black-eyed peas were also seasoned with some chopped onion, liquid smoke and Bacun ends. The cornbread recipe is just a veganized version of regular buttermilk cornbread (using cashew milk and lemon juice for the buttermilk). If you look closely at the picture, you can see the flax meal from the flax egg substitute.
And finally, we decided to try our hand at making our own vegan version of Nutella. We had the hazelnuts and all the other ingredients, so we thought ‘what the hell, let’s go for it’. The Minimalist Baker had a recipe posted for their version of Nutella but we opted for a different recipe. It turned out well but we may try the Minimalist Baker version next. We also used the Cuisinart processor instead of the VitaMix to process the spread to the point where we felt comfortable putting it in the VitaMix (I’m still phobic about that machine). The VitaMix did blend it some smoother but we are not sure it was worth all the transfer effort. So it’s not perfectly smooth from the food processor…it was damn good to eat. Big Solid likes a ‘newtella’ and banana sandwich.
And FINALLY, we have DISCOVERED smoked sea salt! It’s one of the ingredients in the Bacun recipe that really really adds a great flavor to the end result. Now, we use it on just about everything. In fact, we just bought a salt grinder specifically for it. One of the brands we saw at Fresh Market was WAY EXPENSIVE and we passed on it; however, this one was more reasonable. It’s in crystals so the grinder is important to get the most bang for your buck. In fact, we just ground a bit on a fresh cucumber/tomato sandwich for lunch. The Elf’s taste buds were thrilled.
And you know WHAT!! This little blog is now a YEAR OLD!! We began it last May. WOW for The Elf! And so we begin our second year with the month of June...this is the month when farmer’s markets in the south begin to overflow with fresh vegetables and fruit. So get out there, enjoy Nature's bounty and do something really good for your body, mind and spirit. Ain’t NUTHIN’ in the world better than a fresh summer tomato. So, til next week, breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a lot and love life.

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