Saturday, May 24, 2008


I was craving for a cake! Do you think because we were feeling romantic, celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary, this week? I remember our wedding cake was not vegan, 19 years ago. It was a delicious rich and chocolaty cake, a non-traditional one. If I have the chance to plan my wedding again (marrying the same guy) I would pick Tiramisu as a wedding dessert- an Italian trifle - cake or ladyfingers layered with custard and liquor and topped with whipped cream. Tiramisu means 'pick-me-up.' Maybe, it should be a 'date' dessert? By all means regular and traditional Tiramisu is not vegan. Custard is loaded with eggs, ladyfingers are made of egg white, and what about the whipped cream on top? I was wondering if I will ever eat Tiramisu again.

The answer is YES! Due to Bryanna Clark Grogan, that is! She wrote an Italian vegan cookbook titled Nonna's Italian Kitchen. When I opened the book years ago and discovered a recipe for Tiramisu, I thought, 'No way!' But yes, way, it is possible. In her recipe, the ladyfingers is replaced by her Vegan Genoise Cake. She created Cashew Creme Custard for the filling and Sweet Soy Creme for the topping. It's all in her book, page 223.

I made Bryanna's Tiramisu recipe a few times. loving it, however; I still think that it needs a whipped topping that should taste creamy and have an airy texture like a real whipped cream. Tiramisu is not perfect without a whipped cream, I think. Until recently, I discovered Soyatoo whipped soy cream. The one in the can has a lot of problem with the can. After a few squirts, nothing comes out of it anymore. I stopped buying it because it was becoming too expensive and wasteful. Then, I discovered Soyatoo sells a liquid, whippable soy cream in the box that I can whip myself with a mixer. I don't even have to order this product on-line because it's available in a nearby major supermarket. How cool is that?

Just for a 'pick-me-up experience again, I re-made Vegan Tiramisu with Soyatoo whipped soy topping, at last. I chose to serve and assemble the components in wine glasses and dessert cups. If I have to serve this dessert in a wedding, it better be a really small and special wedding because serving it this way is pretty time consuming. However, the presentation is really lovely and romantic!

The components of Vegan Tiramisu are: cut up Vegan Genoise Cake, page 222

Cashew Creme Custard, page 219, and espresso mixed with Amaretto (I used Monin Amaretto Syrup)

and Soyatoo whipped soy topping. On top, sprinkle with some powdered pure cocoa and sugar mixture. This is definitely my favorite dessert!

Friday, May 09, 2008


I am a foodie. I like to taste different kinds of unusual culinary items(vegan items, of course). Well, I kept hearing how tasty morel mushroom is from DH. Every time we talk about mushrooms he mentions FRESH MOREL. It's delicious, he says, you got to try it! I had a chance to try it last week while we were vacationing to El Dorado Springs, Missouri, visiting my in-laws. It was apparently a morel season while we were there because the local newspaper featured how people in this area gather morel in the woods and found big ones.

Being lazy Californians(us) who always get produce from the supermarkets, instead of gathering morels in the woods, my MIL sacrificed going out early in the morning to a garage sale (yes, the folks in this area sell fresh morels in garage sales) to buy fresh morels for us, $7.50 per quart size bag. She even went back out again because she thought she should have bought more for my SIL. What a mother she is! BTW, Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Don't worry, we are not ingrates we gave her a gift certificate for a massage treatment she needed and lots of hugs!

I heard that people make money by selling fresh morel mushrooms and the price can go up to $80 a lb. in the city. I don't know if this was true or not but knowing that fresh chantrelle mushrooms are sold for $19.95 per lb. at a major supermarket in our area, I think it could happen with morels, too. Therefore, having fresh morels was a treat for us.

My MIL split the mushrooms into 2 and soaked it in water. She said for removing dirt or dead bugs nestled in the honey-comb like surface. Then, she spread them out to dry on clean towel.

We opted out to deep fry the mushrooms with soda cracker meal breading. I use soy milk and lemon juice mixture (replacing eggs or buttermilk) to soak the mushrooms then coated them with a mixture of soda crackers meal, salt, and pepper. My MIL used eggs to soak them in and coated them in the same dry mixturel.

It was quite delicious! I think it tastes like a combination of oyster and portabella mushrooms. If I can find fresh ones easily, I could have use them in many different recipes. Now, I tasted it, fresh morel mushrooms, after hearing about it for almost 20 years! I can buy dried morel anywhere but having fresh morel is truly an experience that a foodie is looking for!

In response to Emily's request (see comments), I entered the recipe. I also entered the non-vegan version of my generous MIL. I am still dreaming about fresh morel mushrooms!

Deep Fried Fresh Morel(Vegan and Non-Vegan versions)
Serve 4-6
Appetizers/light meals
Time: 30 minutes

1 quart fresh morels (about 1/2 lb)
2 cups soda cracker meals
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (cracker meal is already salty so be careful of adding too much salt)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1-inch vegetable/peanut oil in a cast iron pan for deep frying.

Vegan version:
1 cup soy milk/other non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Non-vegan version:
2 eggs, beaten

Split fresh morels into half. Soak them in a bowl of cold water to remove dirt and dead bugs. Drain and place them on clean kitchen towels to dry.

Mix soda cracker meal with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in the frying pan till 350F degrees. Use a deep fryer thermometer.

For vegan version:
Combine non-dairy milk and lemon juice. Wait for 1 minute. The milk will curdle like buttermilk. Soak each mushroom slice in this mixture. Then, drench each mushroom slice in soda cracker meal mixture. Deep fry each mushrooms until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the frying pan.

For non-vegan version:
Beat eggs in a small bowl. Soak each mushroom slice in the egg mixture. Then, drench each mushroom slice in soda cracker meal mixture. Deep fry each mushrooms until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the frying pan.