Simple vegan meals: Traveling edition

Hallo from Vienna!
I’m about halfway through my trip now and am having the greatest time. I’ve found vegan eats around Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna, which I’ll post about when I’m home. As much as I love exploring what each city has to offer in terms of vegan restaurants, some days all I want to do is have a homecooked meal. I went to an outdoor market (Naschmarkt – completely awesome) today to pick up ingredients for dinner. I found the littlest eggplants ever and some mini chanterelles, which are much cheaper here than back home. Score.
With my produce in tow, I headed back to my lovely little hostel (getting completely lost along the way).

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Dinner was simple, but delicious and comforting.

PASTA WITH WHITE WINE CREAM SAUCE AND VEGETABLES
– 1 serving pasta, any shape
– Olive oil
– 1 medium sized shallot, diced
– 1 or two cloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup white wine
– 2 tablespoons vegan cream
– Vegetables of your choice: mine had eggplant and mushrooms

1. Cook pasta according to directions for size and shape
2. In a saute pan over medium heat, cook shallots and garlic in 1 tbsp. olive oil until translucent
3. Add white wine to deglaze pan
4. Add cream and vegetables and cook until tender
5. Drain pasta and add to sauce + vegetables

& enjoy.

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And some scenes from the market:
1. Vinegar shop. 24 kinds of vinegar on tap

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2. Beautiful produce

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3. Spices

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4. Goji berry cone!

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Vegan German chocolate cake

Sometimes the tastiest things aren’t the most beautiful.  Case in point: this cake.  I had visions of the most perfectly constructed mini layer cake with flushly aligned edges over which I would spread thick, sweet ganache, enrobing the cake in a smooth chocolatey blanket.  Instead I ended up with a cake that looked eerily similar to Gloppy, resident of Candyland.

After some time in the freezer, the ganache firmed up and I was able to make the cake look presentable.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

(recipes printed below)

  • Chocolate cake
  • Coconut frosting
  • Chocolate ganache

1.  Once all three elements are prepared and properly cooled, begin assembly

2. Slice cake according to desired layers/shape.  I baked this in a loaf pan, cutting the cake in half widthwise and then slicing each half into two layers

3.  Spread coconut frosting on top of each layer before stacking the next.  Do not spread on top layer

4. Cover entire cake in ganache.  If ganache is too runny, let sit in freezer for 20 minutes.

Chocolate cake

I adapted the cake recipe found here, reducing the amount of sugar and oil in anticipation of the two rich frostings that would envelop the cake. I also used coconut oil rather than canola

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 -3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease your baking pan (I used a loaf pan so that I could make a mini layer cake.  You could also use a 9″ circular cake pan or make cupcakes)

2.  Sift dry ingredients (first five listed) together

3. Add in coconut oil, vanilla, vinegar, milk, and water.  Mix until smooth, adding a bit more milk as needed.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Adjust baking time for type of pan you’re using.

Coconut (pecan) frosting

I used this recipe as a base, but decreased the amount of frosting made.

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk (light or otherwise)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used half brown and half white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1.5 tablespoons water until smooth
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans are traditional, but I only had walnuts on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milks, sugar, and vanilla almost to a boil.  Add in cornstarch mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until thickened.  Remove from heat and add coconut, nuts, and salt.  Cool before frosting cake.

Chocolate ganache

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk or creamer

1. Heat chocolate chips and milk over medium high heat, stirring until completely smooth.  Cool before frosting cake.

Cashew Cheese

I shudder at the thought of eating most storebought vegan cheeses, particularly the kinds that try to imitate the texture and meltyness.  As a general rule, I stick to vegan cheesy products that I can prepare myself (tofu ricotta/chevre, cashew cheese, walnut parmesan)

This is a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months now.  I ended up making two versions, and they definitely didn’t disappoint.  One was the original, flavored with liquid smoke.  In the second, I omitted the liquid smoke and instead included a couple pinches of dill.  They were both delicious on crackers and pizza, or warmed up inside a toasty torta roll.

When I was flipping through these photos on my computer, I realized how similar the smoked cheese looked to the babybel wax-encased gouda I ate as a kid.  The stripe of smoked paprika garnishing the wheel of “cheese” must have been a subconscious nod to my childhood love for the stuff.  When I think about it, though, the cheese in itself wasn’t all that great.  It was just so fun to tear out that center strip of wax and, subsequently, roll the wax into balls and have fights with my older brother using the little red pellets.   (Sidenote: my brother is far from vegan, but he was surprisingly willing to try a slice of this.  The first thing he said was, “how does it taste so cheesy?”.)

Since I’m a devoted lover of vegan pizza, here’s one I made using this cheese.  Topped with smoky cashew cheese, fresh corn, mushrooms, and tempeh. So great.

Vegan mushroom risotto

Father’s Day wasn’t a big ordeal this year.  A simple match of tennis with dad and a homemade dinner followed by his favorite dessert (Veganized, of course. German chocolate cake post to come. )

I think the meal made up for the defeat on the court (sorry, pops).  He declared this the best risotto he’d ever eaten.  And I didn’t even complain when he tainted his vegan dinner with cheese.  Yeah, happy Father’s Day.

Risotto is such a simple dish that it’s flavor comes down to the quality of the ingredients used.  I sprung for the most gorgeous mushrooms available – fresh morels, chanterelles, and basic brown shrooms

When I tasted the cooked risotto, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a bit flat.  I took a risk and added something I’d never thought of before: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  It brought the dish from earthy to perfectly balanced in a second.

MUSHROOM RISOTTO (serves 4)

  • 2-3 cups assorted mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Saute mushrooms in a bit of oil until tender. Set aside.

2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until onions soften (about 2-3 minutes)

3. Add arborio rice.  Saute until rice is translucent.

4. Add white wine.  Stir until absorbed

5. Add stock 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  Repeat until rice is fully cooked.

6. Stir in cooked mushrooms and lemon juice.