Monday, December 31, 2012

Basil Tofu Ricotta

Traditionally at Christmas my family will make a big pan of lasagna for dinner. The thought behind it is that it is a day for the family to spend together and it is really hard to do that when you are trying to cook a turkey or ham and all of the fixings. This tradition has been great until this year when I found that I am allergic to the most delicious part of lasagna! In June I got really sick and after a visit to the allergist we found out that I am allergic to dairy. Really sucks when you like ice cream, cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk. Not wanting my family to miss out on our yearly tradition I did some research for tofu ricotta recipes and once I found one that I liked I went to work on changing it to where I would love it! Happy to report that below is the recipe that I came up with and we still got to celebrate our tradition albeit with 2 different pans of lasagna. Happy New Year!

  • 1 pound firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freeze dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parma Vegan Parmesan Cheese
1. To press tofu put it in a dish with a couple of paper towels under and on top of it.  I put one of my medium sized glass mixing bowls on it for about 20-25 minutes.  After about 10 minutes change the paper towels.  Trust me you will want to do this because they will be soaked.
To press tofu put in dish w/ couple paper towels under & on top & place bowl on top. Let sit for 20-25 mins. Might have to change paper towels part of way through. 

2.  In a large bowl, mash tofu with your hands until crumbly.

In a large bowl, mash tofu with your hands until crumbly.

3.  Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano & basil.

Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano & basil.

4.  Mix well with hands until it reaches the consistency of ricotta.

Mix well with hands until it reaches the consistency of ricotta.

5.  Add olive oil & stir with a fork.

Add olive oil & stir w/ a fork.

6.  Add Parma and mix all ingredients with a fork.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Add parma & mix all ingredients w/ a fork. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cake

My sister asked me if I could make her a dairy-free chocolate cake for her birthday.  The biggest challenge I had when I set out looking for a chocolate cake recipe was finding one that didn't require butter and milk.  It took me a week or two of searching and playing before I found one that I really liked and knew that I could change to fit my needs.  My dark chocolate cake was adapted from Beatty's Chocolate Cake recipe from the Food Network.

The one thing that had scared me was that I had never attempted a substitution on a recipe that called for buttermilk.  I now know that 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk and 4 tsp of apple cider vinegar will do the job.  I found that using unsweetened canned coconut milk (full fat, not light) works better than any other milk alternative.  I tried before to cook with almond milk but because of its strong taste it overwhelmed the taste of whatever I was making.

So after figuring out my substitutions for the cake I next had to figure out the icing.  You try and find a cake icing that doesn't have a lot of sugar or butter in it.  It is not easy and at one point I almost thought of getting a tub of store bought icing.  Don't ask me how I did it but somehow I stumbled upon a recipe for Paleo Chocolate Icing.  I had to make a trip to our local MOM's, I love this place so much I'm there every weekend, to get some of the ingredients for the icing and that is when I found the most amazing thing.  I found out that there is a chocolate bar for those of us that can't eat dairy and guess what?  It tastes amazing!!!!  The wonderful chocolate bar that I chose for my icing was the Chocolate Dream bar in Dark Chocolate.

This is an amazing cake but I have to warn you of one thing.  Even after letting the cake sit for 10 minutes after baking before flipping it onto a plate and my cake stand it was still steaming.  I would make this cake the day before you need it because it does take a while for it to cool.  Also don't make the icing until about you are ready to use it and don't leave it in the fridge for too long.  I kind of had to heat it up a little so that I could whip it.  And since the cake was still a little on the warm side the icing started to melt on the one side.  I did my best to fix it but in the end decided to live with it.

This cake was a lot of fun to make especially since i had my assistant baker/knight/cake guard/Christmas Caroler assisting me.

Rambo can't deny that she is his little girl!  besides watching the cake bake she was also singing,
 " you see what I see baking in the oven, do you smell what I smell baking in the oven..."

Dark Chocolate Cake
adapted from Beatty's Chocolate Cake recipe

PAM Original Cooking Spray (to grease both round cake pans)
1 3/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose flour
2 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder (or Dutch Cocoa Powder if you don't like dark chocolate)
2 tsps Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (do not use light)
4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup Freshly brewed hot coffee

1.  Preheat oven to to 350* and spray 2 round 8-in x 2-in cake pans and set aside.  In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients.

2.  To make dairy-free buttermilk add 4 tsp apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of unsweetened canned coconut milk and let sit for 10 minutes.

3.  In another bowl mix together all wet ingredients.

4.  With a mixer on slow speed add wet ingredients, except for the coffee, to the dry.  With mixer still on low add coffee and stir until just combined.

5.  Pour cake batter into greased cake pans and bake for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.

6.  When cakes are done put on a cooling rack and set timer for 10 minutes.  After timer goes off flip cakes onto two plates to finish cooling.  Trust me this cake takes quite a while to cool.  I thought it was cool, still steaming after an hour, and started to ice it after and hour and a half and well it started melting.  So do yourself a favor and make sure it is definitely cool!

Chocolate Icing 
adapted from Elana's Pantry

1 Chocolate Dream Dark Chocolate Bar
3/4 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Dream Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Unrefined Coconut Oil
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract

1.  For icing melt both the chocolate bar and chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Make sure to stir constantly so the chocolate does not burn!!  The reason I had to use chocolate chips and the chocolate bar is because for some reason I figured the chocolate bar alone would be enough but after melting it I went oops and had to check my pantry for what I had to add to it.

Yummy dark chocolate bar!!!!
Alas, I needed more chocolate!
2.  Once the chocolate is melted add the coconut oil and vanilla and stir well. Put chocolate mix in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Don't let it sit in there too long or else it will harden and then you will have to heat it up a little just  to whip it.

3.With an electric mixer on low whip the chocolate until it thick and fluffy.

4.  After making sure the cake is cool frost!  If you don't make sure it is cool you are going to get a little melty look like I had.  Still tastes amazing but not as pretty if you wait for it to be totally cool!

5. Slice, pour nice glass of almond milk, sit back and enjoy!