When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Happy Halloween October 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am

100_2443Every year my friend Jennifro has a pumpkin carving party at her house.  Everyone brings a pumpkin, the floor is covered in newspaper, and Jen brings out the carving tools.  Lets just say it is fun with knives and pumpkins.  Jen makes vegetarian chili, and everyone sits on the floor, drinks so beer, and carves their pumpkins.  At the end of the night all of the pumpkins are put on the front porch and lit.

This year I actually had to work the night of the party.  I ended up making it to Jen’s around 11pm to see the final product and a few people still carving.  I brought my already carved pumpkin with me because I knew that I wouldn’t have time to carve it at the party.  Also, the night before the party I took Jen 2 dozen cupcakes for the party (Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream).

I came up with the design for my pumpkin this year.  I actually drew it out and everything so that I would have a template for carving.  I was very surprised at how it turned out and I LOVED it.  I made a Tasty Devil Cupcake 🙂

My pumpkin


VeganMoFo: Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs October 30, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer,Breakfast,Vegan — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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I had some extra Pepperidge Farm puff pastry in my fridge and decided that it was time to make something quick an easy with it.  I went to my sidekick, Vegan Brunch, and saw a tasty recipe for tempeh sausage pastry puffs and knew I had to try them.  Everything came together perfectly and I had a few of these for dinner the other night.  I loved the flavor of the tempeh sausage.  It was actually one of the best recipes for a quick sausage that I have ever tasted.  The flakiness of the puff pastry was the perfect bed for the sausage and it made them easy to just pick up and eat.  Finger food is my friend 🙂

100_2479Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

Source: Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

8 oz tempeh, crumbled

1 package puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand is vegan), thawed

For the marinade:

1 cup vegetable broth

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp lemon juice

For everything else:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp fennel seeds, chopped

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

salt, to taste

olive oil for brushing the pastry

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  And the tempeh and let marinate for an hour.

When the hour is almost up, preheat a large pan over medium heat.  Saute the red bell pepper and onion in the oil for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  Add garlic and spices and sate another 3 minutes.  Frain the marinated tempeh and add it to the pan.  Turn the heat up to medium hight and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F and start preparing you puff pastries.  Pout a little olive oil into a cup and brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut each pastry sheet into nine squares and set them on the baking sheet at least an inch apart.  Brush the tops of the pastries with olive oil.  When the tempeh is ready, taste for salt and remove from heat.  Top each pastry right in the middle with a heaping tablespoon of tempeh.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pastries are nice and puffed.  Serve ASAP.


VeganMoFo: Tofu Benny October 28, 2009

100_2397Ever since I got Isa’s Vegan Brunch, I have been itching to make the Tofu Benny.  Just looking at the picture in the book makes me hungry.  This was the recipe that I wanted to post for the first day of VeganMoFo III, but I couldn’t find Black salt (Kala Namak) for the life of me.  I finally caved in and ordered it on Amazon, and actually received it pretty quickly.

I guess you could say that I have procrastinated writing this entry because I actually made it a few weeks ago.  Bad Monkey, Bad!!!

This recipe was actually very easy to make.  You only have to follow two rules: remember to marinate your tofu, and timing of the 3 different parts of the recipe.  I decided to go with the Diner Home Fries instead of the English Muffins as my base for the Benny, and they were fantastic and came together pretty easy.  I decided not to boil the potatoes.  Instead I placed them in a microwave safe bowl, added a little olive oil to the potatoes, cover the bowl  in plastic wrap, and set the microwave for 5 minutes.  This actually makes cooking the potatoes A LOT quicker than boiling and reduces the dishes 🙂

I marinaded the tofu overnight, so that the flavors had more time to develop.  When I opened the marinated tofu in the morning, it completely smelled like eggs.  I would attribute this to the use of black salt because the sulfuric smell added that extra goodness to the tofu.  If you make the recipe you really need to use black salt to bring it all together.  I think the marinade for the tofu would work great with a tofu scramble so that you can get the same flavor profile as eggs.  When everything was ready, I plated it and then sat down for brunch.


This was fantastic.  The tofu totally had a flavor reminiscent of eggs.  Everything worked perfectly together.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte October 27, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 1:30 pm
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100_2475This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie is brought to you by April of Short + Rose.  She chose Dorie’s Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte which is located on pages 284-285 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  I have been very intrigued by this recipe because Dorie based it off of a Black Forest Cake with a TWIST. For this recipe, I decided to divide it in half and bake it in a 6 x 2 inch round pan.  It baked up perfectly, and then I discovered (after it was almost cool) that the inside wasn’t completely done so I had to put it back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

I decided to use rum instead of kirsch since I had rum on hand and didn’t feel like buying a 750 ml of Kirsch because the liquor store didn’t carry airplane bottles of it 😦  I was hoping to finish this recipe in time to take it to my Nanny and PaPa’s but with having to bake it again it threw off my whole planning schedule.  While I was making this I was also putting together a birthday cake and doing my Daring Bakers’ Challenge.  Can you say procrastinator?

This turned out pretty good.  I liked the flavor, however, it is rich so I can only have it is small doses.  I have no idea what to do with it now because I currently have no one to give it away to now.


Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.  I love macarons.  They don’t take long to make, but it takes patients and knowledge about the process to get the perfect macaron.  I have made them a few times, but I haven’t taken the time to perfect them yet.  I have been lucky enough to get little feet on them every time, but I think I have over worked the batter because they are more flat than the traditional almost boxy look.

Since Halloween is on Saturday, I decided to make them a little festive.  I made the macaron chocolate and dyed it black with black powdered color, and then I made a white chocolate ganache filling that I dyed orange.  They turned about pretty good, but I think next time I will use a higher quality white chocolate.  To get the pretty swirl design set aside a small amount of the batter before you add the cocoa powder and dye to it.  Once you have the macarons piped out take a toothpick and swirl the white into the piped macarons.


Source: Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern


Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)

Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)

Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)

Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1 tbsp Black Cocoa Powder

1 tbsp powdered Black food coloring


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Pumpkin Biscuits…Vegan Style October 20, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Tuesdays With Dorie,Vegan — pastrybrush @ 4:38 pm
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100_2427This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Erin of Prudence Pennywise.  She chose Dorie’s Sweet Potato Biscuits which are located on page 26 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  All last week, I kept thinking if making these pumpkin would be okay.  Then I strolled on over to the comments section and somebody asked the question I was thinking, and Laurie actually came back with what to do via Dorie.

Yeah, that sounded completely confusing 🙂

I ended up making these late last night.  Yay, for procrastination baking.

If you want to make the recipe pumpkin you have to add the following to the recipe: 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, and 3/4 – 1 cup pumpkin puree.   I also decided to up the spices and I added a pinch of the following: ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.  The spices added a hint of that pumpkin spice flavor in the background.  Finally, to make these vegan I just substituted 6 tbsp of  Earth Balance Vegan  Buttery Sticks for the 6 tbsp of unsalted butter.

These turned out GREAT.  I heated a few up in the microwave :SHOCK: and added some spread to them this morning for breakfast.  I have to say that mine were not as flakey as others, but I would be to blame on that front.  I man handled the dough 🙂  But as biscuits go, I would more than likely make these again if I had some extra pumpkin on hand.


Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Vietnamese Beef Pho October 14, 2009

Filed under: Soup,The Daring Cooks' — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

This months Daring Cooks’ Challenge is hosted by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. She chose Vietnamese Chicken Pho and Chocolate Wontons from her new book The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.  For the challenge we were given the option to change the meat base in the Pho (chicken, beef, pork, seafood or vegetarian/vegan) and the filling in the wontons.   I chose to make  Beef Pho because anytime we use to go out for Pho Mike always gets beef.  I personally prefer chicken, but decided to go with beef since he was alway partaking in this meal.

Because the original recipe we were given was the quick version of the Chicken Pho, I went onto Jaden’s webpage to check the Beef Pho recipe so that I could get the right spices.  I loved the way this turned out.  It was fantastic, and Mike loved it too 🙂  The Chocolate-Strawberry Wontons turned out great too.  They reminded me of a chocolate covered strawberry.

Challenge #1: Vietnamese Beef Pho

Servings: Makes 4 servings


100_2407For the Beef Pho Broth:

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds

1 tbsp whole fennel seeds

6 whole cloves

5 whole star anise

1 cardamom pod

2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade beef stock

1/2 lb flank steak, sliced as thin as possible

1 onion

1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife

1 to 2 tbsps. sugar

1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off

Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)

½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions

½ lime, cut into 4 wedges

Sriracha chili sauce

Hoisin sauce

Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


1. To make the Beef Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, star anise, and cardamom pod and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.

2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients  (including the toasted spices) except the beef and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

5. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.

6. Bring your broth back to a boil. Line up your soup bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, and raw meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. the hot broth will cook your raw beef slices. Serve immediately.

7. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

100_2408Challenge #2: Chocolate-Strawberry Wontons

Recipe Source: Jaden of Steamy Kitchen from her new book The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Servings: Makes 6-12 wontons.


1 large egg

1 tbsp. water

12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)

12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)

6 strawberries, hulled and sliced

High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)

Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.

2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.

3. Place 1 slice of strawberry near the top end of the wrapper and place a piece of chocolate on top of it.

4. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.

5. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle.  If the strawberries are large, you might have to top with another wrapper. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.

6. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, strawberries,  and chocolate pieces.

7. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.

8. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.

9. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.

10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.