Get Toasted!

I had a special request from a dear friend this week for recipe of the French toast that I had brought to a recent holiday brunch.  This toast is pretty fancy as it doesn’t use cinnamon, which is equally delicious, but lavender!  I used to work at an absolutely amazing little joint in Princeton, New Jersey, called the Bent Spoon (www.thebentspoon.net), which made artisan gelato-style ice cream and sorbet as well as baked goods.  Before working there, I thought I was a foodie who knew about food, but I was wrong.  I learned SO much about the fanciest of foods here and became very well-acquainted with the local food movement as many of the ingredients we used came from nearby farms and businesses.  It was here that I learned of campari, shiso leaf, Saigon cinnamon, Alphonso mangoes, prosecco, and so much more.  As I worked the counter, I watched as nougat and peppermint candy were made by hand, cupcakes constantly came out of the oven to be topped with buttercream icing naturally colored with organic dyes made from purple carrots and beets, and the ice cream maker churned out flavors like rosemary-seckel pear sorbet and chocolate habanero ice cream.  Lavender is an herb that at first only elicited memories of my grandmother and the smell of clean laundry.  I didn’t even know lavender was edible prior to working at the Bent Spoon!  I first met the taste of lavender in the form of the Bent Spoon’s lavender plum sorbet, where lavender’s citrusy, slightly bitter, floral flavor mingled in perfect harmony with the sweet, tangy red plums of the local Terhune’s Orchards.  I was sold and inspired to use it myself.  What better way to try lavender than on some lavishly cut sourdough French toast at your next Sunday brunch?  I hope you enjoy taking the leap into eating lavender and seeing it in a new light as much as I have.  Sachets are so passé!  I also hope that you enjoyed the terrible Ohio Players reference…:)

Lavender French Toast

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

–  ½ cup flour

–  1 cup soymilk

–  2 Tbsp flax meal

– 2 Tbsp agave nectar

– 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

– 2 Tbsp of dried lavender flowers, ground

– 1 loaf of sourdough French bread

– Earth Balance (margarine), for greasing skillet

1)  Slice French bread loaf into desired thickness and toast lightly toaster oven.

2)  In a medium bowl, combine flax meal and soymilk, stirring until well combined.  Let mixture sit for a few minutes.

3)  Add agave nectar and vanilla to bowl and stir.

4)  Add flour to bowl while whisking mixture to avoid lumps.  Whisk until mixture is combined and lump-free.

5)  Grind lavender flowers between fingers, with mortar and pestle, or with electric grinder and add to mixture.

6)  Dip pieces of toast bread into mixture until coated with batter.

7)   In a greased skillet or griddle over low-medium heat, add coated bread.  Cook until each side of bread is browned.

8)  YUM.

Noochlear Power!!!

Image

If you’re a vegan, you’re probably very well acquainted with the yellow, flaky, cheese-like goodness that is nutritional yeast, or as you may more affectionately call it, “nooch,” while others call it “hippie crack,” or if you have friends like mine, “pond water powder.”  If you’re not a vegan, let me tout its goodness.  Nutritional yeast is a treasure trove of nutrients and is brimming with B-vitamins, folic acid, and protein, just to name a few of the benefits.  Pile it high on your spaghetti!  Sprinkle it on your popcorn with a little olive oil!  Make some killer queso!  Nooch is the star of my Tofu Scramble.  Also, Old Bay seasoning salt stars in this dish.  Shout out to my East Coast roots!  This scramble ain’t just for breakfast.  Since I live in Texas now, I seem to eat everything in burrito form.  It’s the perfect food really.  Top this scramble with some salsa, avocado, and pair it with a bit of brown rice on a multigrain tortilla, and voila, you have lunch or dinner!  This recipe is a foundation of how creative you can get with your scramble.  Experiment with different vegetables and spices.  Enjoy!

Tofu Scramble:

Serves – 2-4

Ingredients:

–          Olive oil, for pan

–          2 small Russet or red potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes

–          ¼ to ½ onion, depending on your taste, sliced or chopped

–          5 or 6 kale leaves (I used Lacinato kale), chopped

–          1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

–          1 14 oz package of firm or extra firm tofu

–          ½ cup nutritional yeast

–          1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

1)      In a large skillet, heat oil over low heat.

2)      Add potatoes to the skillet and cook until browned.

3)      Add the onions and cook until transparent.

4)      Separate leaf and stem of kale.  Finely chop kale stem and add to pan, cooking until softened.  Chop up leaf and set aside.

5)       Add chopped jalapeno pepper.

6)      This is where you get to your hands dirty…or wet and covered with bits of tofu!  Crumble the tofu in the pan and stir.

7)      Add nutritional yeast and Old Bay Seasoning.

8)      Stir contents of pan until all ingredients are well combined and cooked.

9)      EAT.

New Year = New Adventures in Twigfood!

I told you I get pretty excited by food...especially cupcakes...especially vegan cupcakes from the Bearded Lady. Thankfully, my face doesn't do this every time I get excited. Olympia, WA. October, 2010.

Hello dear friends!  I wanted this blog to be new to the world on January 1st, but alas, my Happy New Year turned into [un]Happy Flu Year, and well, I was just too dark weak & without appetite to blog!  Those dreadful times are over, hungry souls.  Twigfood is here!  I get pretty excited about food and I am equally excited to share some food with YOU!

What is “twigfood” you ask?  My dear friend Leroy Thomas, who I met whilst living in Olympia, WA, used to refer to anything I ate, you know, food of the vegan variety, as “twigfood.”  I loved it.  Japanese twig tea, “Kukicha,” is one of my favorite teas, but twigfood sounds like one of the most unappealing things I could nosh on.  Don’t fret, the recipes you find on twigfood are quite the opposite of unappealing.  The recipes you find on twigfood are the recipes I’ve been whipping up for the past several years and have finally started writing down.  These recipes will fill you up and never let you down!  They’ll sometimes burn your tongue with fiery spice!  They’re so flavorful that they’ll make your tastebuds rejoice with the party you’ll be throwing in your mouth each time you take a bite of the food that the recipes here yield!  They’ll take you around the world from Ghana to Germany to Mexico and to the Republic of Texas, and beyond!  They might not always be healthy as they may sometimes have a lot of sweetness or a lot o’ lipids, but everything in moderation, right?  There’s a whole slew of recipes for healthier foods for those of you trying to stay svelt.  Anyway, I’ll stop tooting my own horn here.  I hope to [someday] publish a cookbook now that I have a fancy camera to take food porn wholesome portraits of food.  Maybe I’ll become a professional vegan chef and run a food trailer somewhere if grad school doesn’t pan out.  My future is foggier than San Francisco right now, so I’m just going to blog about the things I’ve been cooking up in my head and on my stove.

Hundreds of people wait to see the flight of over a million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest urban bat colony in the world, from underneath the Congress Ave. Bridge. Austin, TX. November, 2011.

Let me tell you how I arrived at the recipe I’m about to share with you.  Well, I just moved to Austin, Texas, from the vegan capital of the world, the Pacific Northwest, USA, and I’m trying to embrace Texas and Southern cuisine.  There’s not much to embrace as a vegan, but I’m going to change that!  I’m going to start out with some Biscuits & Gravy.  I made this for real live Texan, (this fella was born knowing how to two-step and he’s got a twang – REAL TEXAN, I said!), and he wholeheartedly approved.  Unless he’s a yellow-bellied liar…Hmm…The first time I made this, it was killer.  Light, fluffy, buttery biscuits and rich gravy.  And, of course, the first time I made this, I didn’t write down what I was doing.  So, the second time I made it, it was still good, but not as good as the first.  So it is likely I will return to this recipe to edit it, but this is what I have so far.  Now let’s get to the recipe right quick! [That’s “Let’s get to this quickly” for all y’all not fluent in Texan.]

Biscuits & Gravy: 

By, Rachel Mockler

Yield:  6 large biscuits & about 3 1/2 c. gravy

Biscuits:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c + 2 Tbsp Earth Balance, softened

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

1) In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) In a medium bowl, mix soymilk and flaxseed and let sit for a few minutes.

3) In the large bowl with the dry ingredients, add the softened Earth Balance and mix with pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4)  Add the soymilk mixture to the large bowl and mix until wet and dry ingredients are completely blended.  DO NOT OVERMIX:  This will make your biscuits tougher than hockey pucks.

5)  Divide the biscuits into 6 equal heaps on a greased baking sheet & bake in a pre-heated oven of 400°F for 20 minutes.

Gravy: 

4 white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced (about a cup or cup & a half of mushrooms)

1/2 cup sliced onions

1/2 cup Earth Balance

6 Tbsp flour

3 cups unsweetened soymilk

2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos the first time, and I think it was better – I’ll have to get y’all the amount next time I make this)

1 tsp seasoning salt

1/2 tsp parsley

1)  In a large skillet, heat Earth Balance over low heat until melted.

2) Add 3 Tbsp of flour to Earth Balance and whisk rapidly to avoid burning until mixture begins bubbling.  Oh, look at you!  You just made a roux!

3)  Add soymilk and whisk any lumps out.

4)  Add mushrooms, onions, soy sauce, parsley, and seasoning salt.

5) Cover  and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until onions and mushrooms are cooked.

6)  Take the remaining three tablespoons of the flour and mix with a little water, maybe a tablespoon or so, and mix it so it is completely liquid.  Then pour flour and water mixture into skillet and whisk mixture until the gravy has thickened.  Add more flour and water mixture until the gravy meets your thickness needs.

7)  Guten Appetit!

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