Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vegan Cookie Press Cookies

I have one of those cool Pampered Chef cookie presses that I got at a yard sale and makes all manner of adorably shaped cookies, but most of the recipes you see online aren't vegan.

I knew I had used it before and found a vegan recipe, but there were a few online and I hadn't bookmarked my winner and couldn't remember what I had done...  Bummer!

I reached out to the vegan groups I'm in asking for suggestions and nothing came back. No one had a tried and true vegan cookie press cookie recipe.  I guess that's not altogether surprising, but it was disappointing none the less.

Finally, this morning, I said, "Well, I'll just have to try out a bunch of different ones until I get it right!"

My 3 year old was eager for the prospect of, "We are going to cook and eat cookies all day if we have to."

Sadly for him, but wonderfully for me, the very first recipe I tried turned out perfect.  It's the Starry Fudge Shortbread recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar .  I should have known that Isa and Terry would have the answer, as they do to all my vegan baking quandaries.  The recipe says to squeeze the dough out of a piping bag, but it worked perfectly for the cookie press.

They had this awesome tip to press directly onto your cookie sheet, not use parchment paper, because you want the cookie to stick to the pan as you are pressing so that it pulls away from the cookie press.  Genius, I tell ya!

I chose these pretty flowers.  Mostly I thought of how on my daughter's first birthday I rolled out sugar cookie dough and cut out little leaves with a fondant cutter and then formed them into five petaled flowers to make plumeria...  If only I had had this then.  I spent hours making just a batch of cookies.  These took me all of ten minutes not including cooking.  You live and learn.

The finished product is just slightly golden on the bottom and buttery hello on top.  I added these sprinkles because I have whimsy.  They are from India Tree, the company that makes natural food dyes.  No red dye #30 and you get pretty colorful sprinkles.  It's a pretty cool deal.

Here's the recipe, but I want you to buy the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar too, because it's awesome (make the Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies and thank me later).  

1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I used half Earth Balance and half coconut oil and it worked fine, I might try just coconut oil next time).

2/3 cup sugar

a pinch of salt 

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract (If you make this and use a different extract here for a fun flavor- like maybe peppermint- let me know in the comments!)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup nondairy milk

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.  I made half the recipe and it covered a cookie sheet and a half, so keep that in mind with the press cookies.  Again, you gotta do the trick of going directly onto the pan, not parchment paper, for good stickiness.  

I tried with all coconut oil and it worked great!  I also used peppermint extract and it was yummy.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Home Romero basically taught me to bake with their cupcake book and I highly recommend that one for anyone starting out with vegan baking or looking to improve their game.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Persimmon, Caper, and Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

Once upon a time, I saw a cooking show about using very few ingredients and there was a recipe for couscous (the treat so nice they named it twice) that had kalamata olives and dates.  I fell in love with the savory/salty/briney/sweet combo.  Yesterday I was at Costco buying a massive bucket of dates and thought of that recipe, so it was in my mind.  I also have recently fallen in love with persimmons, inspired largely by Fully Raw Kristina on Instagram and Facebook.

Dinner was big last night because my mother-in-law was visiting from out of state after being on a business trip and I figured a great home cooked meal would be good.

I knew I was making spaghetti with dill and lemon pesto in an avocado base because I came up with that off the top of my head and had to make it into reality.
I love dill so much, and I found a big bunch of organic dill at the store the other day and had to use it before going bad.  I added an avocado, some garlic, and lemon zest and juice plus olive oil to the blender with the dill and made a nice sauce to toss with my spaghetti.

I used a little of the dill with a maple mustard dressing on kale salad too.  Maple mustard is like honey mustard.  I mix mustard, maple syrup, a little oil, salt and pepper and we all love it.  It's our favorite dressing.

I sliced the last half of banana squash from Thanksgiving and roasted it with salt and pepper.  It's sweet and creamy.  It's definitely my new favorite squash.

Even without marinara, I felt like we needed a tomato element, so I decided on bruschetta.  I was chopping up the cherry tomatoes and garlic when I thought of that couscous recipe again like I had earlier that day.  The persimmon I had would be perfect to sweeten the mix, and capers would give it the briney element I was looking for.

When my husband asked where I got the idea, I said, "I didn't follow a recipe or anything," and he said, "I didn't think you did!  It's great, but I just can't imagine anyone who writes recipes writing out a recipe that calls for persimmons and capers.  

Well, here it is:

About 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped up (this is rustic, no need to perfectly dice)
1 persimmon chopped to about the same size as the pieces of tomato
3 or more cloves of garlic
2 or more Tbsp of capers
2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, that EVOO for you Rachel Ray fans
salt and pepper to taste

Combine and let sit an hour to overnight.  

Great with sliced bread, but also yummy with a spoon.  It would probably be good with pasta or rice (or couscous!) or even on salad.