Vegan Brunswick Stew : Daring Cook’s April Challenge

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

This was one very “meaty” stew, but that’s no problem. The timing couldn’t have been better because I’d just tested some seitan patties for Celine & Joni’s upcoming project and knew they’d be great. I also used some steamed seitan sausages made with poultry seasoning. I’ve got so many yummy test recipes to post, oh time management…

Before this month’s challenge I’d never heard of Brunswick Stew, so thanks to our lovely host for sharing this. I’m always excited about stews calling for corn and Lima beans, and this one had both, so I was a rather happyfish.

Be sure and check out the Daring Cook’s Blogroll to see all the stewy love this month!

Something’s (Tofu) Fishy With The July Daring Cooks Challenge!


This month’s challenge was chosen by Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen. Sketchy has a real passion for molecular cuisine (MC), and July’s recipe was chosen to share this interest in MC with all of us! I think this was a wonderful initiative and a lovely introduction to MC – thank you, Sketchy!


Unfortunately, I think to successfully complete this month’s challenge owning a dehydrator was de rigeur. The challenge, “Skate, traditional flavours powdered” by Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook, uses “flavour powders” made from dehydrated ingredients such as banana chips, parsley or red onion to accent and add dimension to poached fish, or fish substitute. While Sketchy did suggest alternate methods for drying – such as using the microwave or traditional oven – I found they just didn’t work for me. I did give these alternate methods a shot, but my attempts were met with frustration and failure.


This, however, doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy this challenge, on the contrary! Thanks to some chatting on the forums, I was reminded of one of my favourite faux-fish recipes, the Tofu Fish Sticks from one of my favourite cookbooks, Vegan Lunchbox. If you haven’t a copy of Vegan Lunchbox, don’t fret! The recipe is available here at Schmooed Food, the author’s blog where she features recipes from her fabulous book. One of my favourites from her site is the recipe for Vegan Twinkies. I’ve only made it once, but oh-my, talk about a heavenly childhood flashback!


So after a few failed attempts at dehydrating onion and parsley in my microwave (oh scaldy-stinkies), I just opted to honor the spirit of the challenge and go with what worked for me! I tried to make a powder out of some nori sheets, but I didn’t get a nice, fine, powder – it was more like hunks of ugly confetti. I did just add the nori to the Tofu-fish fingers breading, so there was no waste. I also used a mixture of sea vegetables rather than just the kelp flakes called for in the original recipe. I feel it adds even more variety. In the end, I just used some dried parsley flakes to decorate our plates, and that was just fine!

Breading Mix for Tofu Fish Fingers

We don’t eat alot of tofu – maybe 2 or 3 times a month – not because I’m afraid of the “fu” for any reason (because there is no reason to fear the fu, unless you have an allergy), but it’s a processed food, and as with all processed foods we tend to go lightly on them. Because I so rarely purchase tofu, I forget about some of our favourites, such as these tofu fingers. It’s been nearly a year since I last made these, which is too long if you ask me! If you’re ever in a pinch and need to make something quick, easy and healthy for kids (and adults, ahem), this is a great option.

I’d like to once again thank Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen for hosting our challenge, and I enthusiastically recommend Vegan Lunchbox, weather or not you eat a boxed lunch! Lunchbox has many innovative, mostly healthy options that are adult and kid friendly, and it’s a sound addition to any cookbook library. Do you like to play with your food? Visit The Daring Kitchen for wonderful food articles, sexy food p*rn and lovely portraits of the Daring Cooks and Bakers.

Who loves potstickers & Dumplings? Me! The Daring Cooks June Challenge


After our delicious début with Ricotta Gnocchi in May, we’re back and cooking up a veritable storm with Chinese dumplings and potstickers! To clarify the definitions tout de suite, dumplings are steamed or boiled whereas the potstickers are (gasp!) fried. This month’s challenge hostess is Jen from Use Real Butter, and she graciously shared her family recipe for Chinese dumplings/potstickers. This month’s challenge was once again a slam dunk to veganize as the dough is naturally vegan, but that’s not why I love it. I thought it was fantastic because it was so darn tasty!

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again right now : this challenge was a hoot! I’ve found myself wondering why I hadn’t ever made potstickers before, and I’d see them featured from time to time on a blog and lick my lips in admiration, but I’d never actually taken it to the next level and made them. Thank you Daring Cooks for nudging me into new culinary territory!

Vegan Potsticker Filling

I wanted to try to use cannelli beans in the filling in lieu of tofu, because just defaulting to tofu seemed too easy. I feel badly because I didn’t measure my ingredients, but I think it was probably about 2 cups or more cannelli beans, about one cup shredded carrot, four green onions (heads and stems), a little soy sauce, a few teaspoons diced ginger root and salt and pepper. I totally ignored Jen’s advice (sorry Jen) and tossed the onions and beans in the food processor until I had a paste, then added the carrots until well mixed. It was just perfect.

Potsticker/Dumpling Dough

The dough proved a bit of a challenge as I think I added about three or four times the amount of water called for in the recipe. That’s life. I just kept kneading and adding water and knew that the gluten would develop if I would just let it. Once it was ready, however, the dough was very easy to handle and making the dumplings was easy peasy pie. I did punk out and just used a fork to seal my potstickers, but Jen has some beautiful pictures on her blog showing her folding technique.

Vegan Potstickers (pre-fry)

The real disappointment for me with this challenge was the dumplings.
Vegan Chinese Dumplings

I tried to boil a few, but they floated right away, and never really cooked properly, they just turned into floppy wet dumplings. I should have opted for steaming, and I probably will give it a try another time. The potstickers however were a dream come true, and I’ve already been asked to make them again!

Chinese Pot Stickers (Vegan)

Would you like to play with your food? Everyone is welcome in The Daring Kitchen! I would especially like to extend this invitation to any vegans and vegetarians out there – this is an excellent opportunity to flex your creative culinary muscles and veganize omni fare. Learning to prepare delicious “omni-friendly” meals is a wonderful talent to develop, and it’s such a relief to have more recipes in your repertoire!

The Daring Cooks Have Arrived! Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi


This is a very speical day, and not only because it’s Celine’s birthday or because Ricki’s fabulous Sweet Freedom is available tomorrow!

Today The Daring Cooks make their début! I’m genuinely excited to be part of this groovy group of culinary crusaiders, bravely going to new and uncharted foodie-lands. I know this group is going to help me flex my creative muscles in the kitchen, veganizing new foods and old favourites, and if this first challenge is any indication of the fun we’ll be having than I know this is going to be a blast!

I’m sincerely honored to have been named the Daring Alternative “Cookie”, meaning I’m trolling the Alternative forums to try to field questions and help find solutions for my fellow Alternative Daring Cooks. This is really exciting because I know I’m going to have many opportunities to learn so much, and even more importantly, to get to know my fellow Daring Cooks even better.

Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi

Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi…can you feel the Yum?

The Inaugural Challenge recipe is the Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers, and it could not be more fitting that our founding Mothers, the wonderful, the fabulous, the ridiculously underpaid Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina host this first challenge. I loved them before, but after making this month’s challenge, I love them even more!

This month’s challenge, the Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi, is a blast! (For the recipe go visit Lis – she’s got it up on her blog). It it’s delicious, fun and easy to make, too. Oh, and really easy to veganize! I suggest using everyone’s favourite tofu ricotta recipe, found on the PPK and in Veganomicon. You’ll want to make a few subtle changes, but it’ll work famously. This tofu ricotta recipe will yield about 25 gnocchi, about half of the challenge recipe’s yield.

If you’ve never made this ricotta recipe, I have just a few suggestions 1) add way more garlic because it’s so tame you can’t taste it; 2)add whatever herbs you’d like – you can add more than is called for; 3) make this in advance. I’d suggest 24 hours, to really allow time for the flavours to take hold.

Vegan Ricotta, to make Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi

The big change that I made to the ricotta recipe was to add gluten flour to the ricotta once it was all mashed to paste. I used between 1/4 and 1/3 cup gluten, and I let it set a good few hours before forming the gnocchi. It worked like a charm. I had doubts, but it was a slam dunk.

There is one thing to keep in mind – do not follow the main challenge instructions which tell you to be delicate with your ricotta. You need to man-handle the stuff, I mean really, really knead it, and force it into little gnocchi, squeezing tight with your hand. That’s the ticket. I tried to be sweet and gentle with the first few and they came apart in the boiling water. A tight squeeze makes for a solid little gnocchi.

The other cooking directions for the challenge are valid and work with the ricotta. After boiling mine up and flouring them I let them set a good hour, even more, in the fridge before pan-frying them as per the challenge and that seemed to work well. You could let them set longer, too.
Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi

I really can’t stress enough how fun and easy this challenge was! I had fun making it, and my family had fun devouring it. Give it a try – it’s  worth it!

Would you like to play with your food? Everyone is welcome in The Daring Kitchen! I would especially like to extend this invitation to any vegans and vegetarians out there – this is an excellent opportunity to flex your creative culinary muscles and veganize omni fare. Learning to prepare delicious “omni-friendly” meals is a wonderful talent to develop, and it’s such a relief to have more recipes in your repetoire!

And…be sure to come back tomorrow for a very special interview! Woo…how mysterious and exciting is that!

Homemade Vegan Pasta? Easy-Peasy! The Daring Bakers March Challenge : Vegan Lasagna


When I gave up baking for Lent, I pretty much knew I’d have to forgo the March Daring Bakers Challenge. I don’t like missing challenges (I’ve only missed one), but figured I’d just make it at a later date. Imagine my joy and surprise when March’s challenge was announced and I saw we’d be making a savory dish, and for me, it fell under the category of “cooking” – so no missed challenge!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.


I absolutely loved this challenge! It was fun, easy and I didn’t find it time consuming at all (though some of my fellow Dbers did). I usually have homemade tomato sauce in my freezer, and it just so happened to be time to replenish my stock, so the week before I made the lasagna I made about a 4 liters of homemade sauce. I think splitting the challenge into two parts – sauce and pasta – really cut down on my over-all time in the kitchen (or at least my perception of it!).


This challenge pushed me to do something I’ve always thought about doing – make my own pasta from scratch! I make everything from scratch, but I’d never made pasta – until now. It was so easy and fun, I know I’m going to do it again and again.  I used the Bryanna Clark Grogan recipe for my spinach and it was a gem! Clear, easy to follow and a beautifully cooperative dough to work with. I think from start to finish from beginning the pasta to baking the lasagna the time was about 1h45mins.


I believe that my ignorance allows for such fun and discovery in the kitchen. As I’d never made homemade pasta, I wasn’t afraid of it and didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing or how, so I didn’t think I couldn’t do it “the right way” as I didn’t know what the right way was. I had fun, and so did Guppy who was so excited to learn that dough makes not only bread and cookies, but also pasta. It’s wonderful to help her see the way things are connected.


And I just have to say, I was feeling like such a rock star with drying spinach pasta hanging about my kitchen. I know I was feeling the same emotions of pride and accomplishment that Guppy feels when she does something for the first time: “Look what I made, mumma!” (speaking of which, I need to send my mum this link so she can be proud of me, too!).


I don’t make lasagna very often, but I know the next time I do I’ll be making this pasta! It was delicious, and everyone loved it!


If you haven’t already stopped by The Daring Kitchen – home of The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks – you should! There are lots of great feature articles, cookbook reviews and feature members. Lot’s of good, clean fun for everyone!