Sunday, July 10, 2011

Funky Sexy Vegan (Vegan Photo Album 3)

As I prepared to post the photos of my latest vegan culinary exploits, I was a bit humbled. For the first time, I realized something unique about my photos. I noticed that in some of the photos, the background was not "perfect" or "tidy". My photos lacked the "food photo" perfection that I notice in several cookbooks and newspapers. I didn't have perfect lighting at times, flowers or fruit in the backdrop. I didn't have decorative mats or touches. My photos are taken during my flurry of baking or cooking. There are food stains on the cutting board, drips on the stove, and my dish drying rack in photos. Usually when I cook, I make a huge mess and then I do the major clean-up afterward. While I cook, I snap photos along the way. For my entry in the Burrito Bonanza contest, Adam, my fiance, helped me to take notice the fine art of food photography. So within an hour, we took a quick crash course by watching videos on youtube. Adam helped me to figure out the special features on my camera so I could capture the food at its best. I'm getting a bit better at photographing my culinary creations. Now I think my goal is to learn even more about "food presentation". I'm learning more about this food writing/criticism thing as I go and I want my $%^& to be correct. I also could use some good cookware too. (Some high end stuff although the dollar store stuff has to do.)

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
I made these wonderful cupcakes for a Sunday School Picnic at my church. They were a hit! (And so scrumptious) I sampled the chocolate frosting cupcake (as did Adam) and the rest were for the kids (and the adults). I had tons of frosting left over and loved stealing a spoonful or two of sweet creamy goodness over the course of several weeks. (Hey! I couldn't eat the frosting all at once.)

Polenta Casserole with Seitan from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
I ate this one but did not enjoy it as much. I made my own seitan to go with it. The polenta was a little bland and the seitan was very, very chewy. Not my favourite but a healthy dish nonetheless.

Lasagna from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
I can't believe it's not cheese! Taymar Mason, you blow my mind. How did she come up with this masterpiece recipe? The sauce was extremely spicy, the tofu cheese and roux were an amazing combination. It tasted so much like ricotta and mozarella that even my fiance had to ask me again if there was cheese in the lasagna. (And trust me, Adam loves his cheese.) But no, this cheese does not contain any dairy. It's all plant-based. Thank you Taymar Mason! For the first time, I ate vegan lasagna and felt my belly full! The sauce was thick with TVP granules. With this lasagna, any vegan can say goodbye to meat cravings. Note to self: When boiling lasagna noodles, always use ample oil in the water and never allow them to stand to long after draining off the water. The noodles badly stick together and then rip.

My badly shredded lasagna noodles were frustrating to work with and lay flat.

My masterpiece.

White Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
Taymar does it again. I have this masochistic relationship with spicy foods. Although my mouth was on fire and I had to douse it with many a glass of water, I loved this take on Shepherd's Pie. No blandness here! Please excuse the "ghetto'foil pan". I loved this dish. It was scrumptious and tasty. If I were to make it again, I would use more sweet potatoes and possibly combine them with regular potatoes to add more to the top. But the combination of sweet (from the potato topping) and spicy (from the filling) flavours was amazing amalgamation of bliss.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce on Chia Seed Pudding from Toronto Vegetarian Association Spring 2011 Newsletter
The sauce was refreshing, sweet, and very gingery. Who knew I could make pudding from chia seeds in under 30 minutes? Just place chia seeds in some almond or soy milk, add agave (or sweetener of your choice), stir, and then let sit for 30 minutes. The chia seeds develop a little bit of a gelatinous consistency which is perfect for pudding. Mm mm mm.

Brazilian Black Bean and Vegetable Stew from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein
I don't know how Brazilian this dish really is but I do know I am very intrigued with Brazilian culture right now. Brazilian anything will catch my eye. My fiance plays Brazilian music (mostly classical Brazilian guitar, forro, and singing in Brazilian Portuguese, I know amazing). Click here to see him playing at Expressions of Brazil 2010, a Brazilian festival here in Toronto. He also used to play Maracatu which is an Afro-Brazilian percussion form older than samba. This summer, I myself am trying out capoeira, Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance (again for the 3rd time in 12 years). I am also working on an Afro-Brazilian picture book and dream of visiting Brazil soon. Sigh! Adam and I watch documentaries about Brazil. And today he even taught me to play a bossa nova rhythm on the guitar. What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the stew was good.

Indian Black-Barley Pilaf with Bananas and Oranges from The Tropical Vegan by Donna Klein
Pretty tasty! I liked the sweet of banana and tangy orange which were an interesting combination. Adam wasn't too stoked on it.

African Beans and Potatoes from The Tropical Vegan by Donna Klein
This dish was pretty tasty. I decided to do something a little different and instead of salad or rice, I placed the beans and potatoes in a roti. What do you expect? I'm Caribbean. Anyway, very tasty. With some chopped peanuts and pepper sauce, this dish is a hit. Adam loved it.

Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
Many people tell me that they could not become vegan because they would miss cheese too much. Taymar Mason's cooking makes it possible to not miss cheese at all. In fact, you might say, "Hold the cheese." Just as she did with the lasagna, this macaroni pie is a master piece. According to my fiance, Mr. Cheese himself, this meal captures the comfort and familiarity of the macaroni pie without the need for cheese. You don't miss the cheese. That's right! You can enjoy macaroni without cheese and you don't miss it. Well, Taymar doesn't disappoint. In the first photo, you'll notice that white dolop of cream. That's Tofu Cheddar. Then comes the roux. The culinary tricks of adding spices, adds real flavour. The onion adds a refreshing zip while other things are added to stimulate taste buds. Ketchup was one of these shocking additions. That's right. Ketchup in my macaroni pie along with Bajan seasoning, Bajan pepper sauce, white, and black pepper. And true to it's signature feature, this macaroni pie has a delectable crust thanks to bread crumbs and vegan margarine. I can't wait to make this for my mother and say, "Look mom! No cheese!"
Homemade tofu cheddar

After you stir in the tofu cheddar, then comes the roux

Before the macaroni pie meets the oven

After the macaroni pie met the oven

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