Friday, February 13, 2009

Revisiting Vegan Tiramisu

After our visit to That's Amore vegan Italian restaurant(previous blog), I kept thinking about making Tiramisu. I took out my favorite cookbook: Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan and whipped up my favorite dessert.

This time I took clear plastic cocktail cups that people use in parties and layered my Tiramisu in them . I was thinking that I can give away this dessert without asking for any container or glass back. I gave some to my mom and friends. They absolutely loved it. This works great. What do you think? Afterward, the consumer can just pitch the empty cup into a recycling bin.

I baked the Vegan Genoise cake(page 222) in 2 9-inches round cake pans so the cake will be a bit thinner. Then, I cut small and medium circles of cake using the cup as a guide.

I ended up with a few circles of cake and some crumbs. None was wasted. I used the crumbs on top, too.

For more details about vegan tiramisu, you can visit my blog about it here. I used real wine glasses at that time. The only thing I did different this time was that I used a different custard recipe. It's still Bryanna's recipe from Nonna's Italian Kitchen and called Zabaglione (page 218). Last time I made it with Cashew Pastry Creme (page 219). Zabaglione usually is made with egg yolks, cream and sugar. For Bryanna's vegan version, I used Bird's Custard Powder to make it custard-like.

I also like this brand of instant espresso for tiramisu. It's easy to make and thought it tastes good:

I absolutely love Vegan Tiramisu. If I have to choose between a chocolate cake, vegan cheesecake, vegan ice cream, gelato, and vegan tiramisu as my Valentine's Dinner Dessert, my number one choice will be Vegan Tiramisu.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Vegan Hainan 'Chicken' Rice

I veganized Hainan Chicken Rice dish( a Malaysian chicken and rice dish). Unlike other vegetarians who don't like mock meats, I like them and don't mind them at all. I cook dishes with mock meats sometimes. I still order mock meats in vegetarian restaurants, too. Maybe because I ate meat for the 35 years of my life? Who knows? If I became a vegetarian when I was a teenager, it maybe a different story now. That's my theory.

I used to eat Hainan Chicken Rice dish when I was eating meat and growing up in an Asian country. With the help of VegeFarm Vegan Chicken Breast (the 5th product on the list) that I found in a nearby HFS, I was able to veganize it. It needs some additional tricks to make it delicious: kombu broth, dried shiitake mushrooms, and tamari or soy sauce. These items add umami or an essence of deliciousness to this dish.

To begin with, the 'chicken breast' is simmered in a gingery and garlicky kombu broth with the shiitake mushrooms for 45 minutes. Then, I took out the 'breast' and mushrooms and let them rest. Next, I made the rice by using the broth the 'chicken' is simmered in (that's why it's called 'chicken' rice). Traditionally, white long grain rice is use but I used brown jasmine rice instead. Although, brown basmati rice will do. Malaysian uses pandan leaves in their rice and also some coconut milk with the chicken broth. This kind of rice is called nasi lemak. However, I didn't have pandan leaves and opted out to make a lesser fat rice dish. Therefore, I used lemon grass that I have in my garden and no coconut milk. While making the rice, I prepared the chili dipping sauce by combining lime juice, Asian style chili sauce, minced garlic, sugar/agave nectar, and some more of the cooking broth.

In both pictures above, in plating the dish for each person/consumer, the rice and 'chicken' are accompanied by sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, left over broth, chili dipping sauce, and hoisin sauce. Traditionally, the warm rice is molded into a rice bowl and inverted over on the serving plate. Since it is a dry dish, sliced 'chicken' can be dipped into the condiments or the broth. The other way to eat it is that the broth and condiments can be poured over both the 'chicken' and rice. Either way is good.

I made kombu/shiitake broth ahead of time and usually freeze this kind of broth as I use it a lot in my cooking. I use kombu/shiitake broth in making miso soup and other kind of soups, too. Kombu/shiitake broth is healthy and has a lot of umami in it. It is easy to make:

6 cups water
1 dried kombu (5 by 6 inches)
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms

Simmer the mixture above for 30 minutes. Strain broth. Discard kombu and reserve shiitake mushrooms for other cooking use.

The recipe below only serves 2 people but it can be doubled.

Vegan Hainan 'Chicken' Rice
Serve 2

Ingredients for 'Chicken':

1 VegeFarm Vegan Poultry-Free Chicken Breast or any vegan chicken breast(see sources below)
5 stalks green onion (white parts only, reserve the green parts), chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped finely
3 Tbsp. garlic, chopped finely
1 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
5 cups Kombu/shiitake broth (recipe above)
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp. roasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. vegetarian chicken broth powder such as Chiknish
1 tsp. salt

1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 Tomato, sliced
Cilantro sprigs
Fried Shallots(brambang goreng)
Vegetarian Hoisin sauce

To prepare 'Chicken':
  1. Put all ingredients above (except garnishes and the green part of green onions) in a medium size pot.
  2. Heat it with a medium high heat until broth started to boil. Then, lower it to simmer.
  3. Let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, covered.
  4. Take out the 'chicken' breast and the shiitake mushroom, and let them rest on a plate. Strain and reserve broth(about 4 cups left) to cook 'chicken' rice below.
Ingredients for 'Chicken' Rice:
1 1/2 cups brown jasmine rice, washed, rinsed, and drained
3 cups of cooking broth for 'chicken' (if coconut milk is used, replace part of broth with coconut milk, about 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame oil
1 stalk fresh lemon grass, cut in pieces or 2 or 3 pandan leaves
more salt, if need

To prepare 'Chicken' Rice:
  1. Heat sesame oil in a medium pot over a medium high heat.
  2. Saute minced garlic for a few seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add rice into the pot and stir for about 3-4 minutes in oil and garlic.
  4. Add cooking broth and pandan/lemon grass.
  5. Taste for more salt as needed.
  6. Cover and cook for 45 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice is cooked. The optional way is to use a rice cooker (put sauteed rice, broth, and pandan/lemon grass in a rice cooker).
Ingredients for chili dipping sauce:
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. 'Chicken' broth (from reserved cooking broth above)
2 Tsp. sugar/agave nectar
4 Tsp. Chili garlic sauce (Asian style like Sriracha)
1/2 Tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 Tsp. salt

To Prepare for Chili dipping sauce:
Combine ingredients above . Pour sauce into small condiment dishes for each individual serving.

To Serve:
  1. Saute the 'Chicken' breast and cooked shiitake mushroom on a small frying pan until a bit brown (a few minutes). Slice 'chicken' horizonally with a sharp knife.
  2. Mold brown rice in a rice bowl and invert it over to a serving plate. Sprinkle fried onions on top.
  3. Heat reserve broth. Add chopped green onions (the green parts).
  4. Arrange garnish and sliced 'chicken' on the serving plate with the rice for each person. Serve with condiments individually: broth, chili dipping sauce, and hoisin sauce.
  5. This dish can be served warm or in a room temperature.

I served sauteed kale, mushrooms, and onions with this dish.

Other on-line sources for vegan chicken breast: Vegieworld, Follow Your Heart and Gardein.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Vegan Pizzas for Super Bowl? That's Amore!

The above pizza is topped with vegan pepperoni, artichoke heart, black olives, and mushrooms.

After being absent from my blog for a long time, I can't resist to blog this one. Last week, we heard that there is a new restaurant in town, a vegan Italian restaurant. Oh Boy! Local vegans can rejoice! I thought of pizzas right away. How nice would it be to have a place where we can order pizzas with vegan mozzarella cheese that melts? Well, people, that kind of restaurant is here at Cerritos, CA (ironically, it was formerly known as Dairy Valley), about 20 miles from where we live: That's Amore! That's the name of this new vegan Italian restaurant.

I can make my own vegan pizzas at home but hhmmm..... I think pizzas that are made in a restaurant on a stone-based oven that can be heated up to 550 - 600 F are better, in my opinion, than homemade ones. Besides, sometimes, I just want to go out and/or call for pizzas to go just like everybody else.

Unfortunately, this restaurant has no website yet. You can visit reviews of this restaurant at VegParadise , Yelp, quarrygirl, and happycow. After reading these reviews, we drove, salivated, enjoyed, and walked out with full bellies. We opted out to try their vegan Italian dishes first: DH had Eggplant Parmigiana dish and I opted out the 'Chicken' (soy chicken) Parmigiana one. Both of us basically ate every bite on our plates. Then, we ate some vegan cannolis for desserts. Our other choices are vegan gelatos and sorbets. It was really hard to decide but we know we'll be back. We also brought home 2 pizzas (pictured here) to enjoy while we were watching the Super Bowl. This is really the first time I can order pizzas to go with vegan cheese on it and that I can reheat at home or work for lunch.

Above is the Veggie Pesto Pizza which is very light, creamy, and topped with lots of veggies.

The crust is light, tasty, and thin (thicker crust can be ordered). I saw the chef really flung the pizza dough with his hands, round and round, in their kitchen just like in a classic and traditional pizza kitchen. The white mozzarella cheese was hot, melted, and bubbly when it came out of the oven. There are more to try at this restaurant including pastas with vegan sausages, vegan meat balls, vegan bechamel sauce (for alfredo style), and vegan pink sauce (bechamel and red sauce combined).

The owner of the restaurant, Marina, and I were discussing about adding Vegan Tiramisu on their dessert menu. I shared my experience in making this dish that I really love. I even blogged it here back in May 2008. I was hoping that she is inspired with my tips and she can develop her own Tiramisu to serve her happy vegan customers.

Here is the restaurant info:

That's Amore!
13349 Artesia Blvd., Cerritos, CA 90703
Phone: 562-926-2112 and 562-926-8920
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The atmoshpere of this restaurant is light, airy, and happy. I love the yellow and blue combination of their wall colors. We were so amused when we heard the 'Theme of The Godfather' music was played on the background. We both were chuckling and visualizing Italian mafias coming out of their back door with guns. But no mafias here, just fiercely melted vegan cheeses. Marina was informing us that she planned to have Karaoke nights in this restaurant. Oh boy, what a farce addition to that place! I told her that we have Italian Crooners Karaoke CD that we can bring to her party. Can't wait!