One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Maddio’s Pizza Joint

Vegan Pizza is officially taking over in Atlanta. There are now four great pizzeria’s who not only having great vegan toppings but vegan cheese as well. No matter where you live vegan pizza is not far away. There’s Village Pizza Co in Cabbagetown, DaVinci’s Pizza in Smyrna, Pizza Fusion in Buckhead and now Maddio’s Pizza Joint in Toco Hills.

The Atlanta Vegan Lunch group recently had a lunch outing to Maddio’s Pizza Joint (3027 North Druid Hills Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329) and I had my first taste of Maddio’s amazing pizza. Although their menu says “soy cheese” they actually use Daiya cheese and I have to admit, this is the first time I have truly loved Daiya on a pizza. Before all you Daiya lovers get on me let me explain. I’ve spent 4 years learning to not like cheese and have succeeded. I’m not really keen on the actual taste of cheese anymore and don’t miss it at all. So for me, Daiya is just way too much like cheese. However, I still use it in small amount from time to time. Plus I love love love cheese free pizza now with just the crust, sauce and mounds of fresh veggies. But enough about me and more about Maddios!

Maddio’s wheat crust is vegan and their menu is so extensive it’s hard to know where to begin. I literally wanted to try everything. Here are just a few of the vegan options on Maddios menu:

Zesty Tomato BBQ
Spicy Buffulo
Garlic Infused Olive Oil

Artichoke hearts
Banana peppers
Black bean corn salsa
Black olives
Caramelized onions
Green olives
Green peppers
Grilled tofu
Mandarin oranges
Pickled jalapenos
Portabella mushrooms
Red onions
Sundried tomatoes

Toasted Subs:
Garden Veggie with Daiya

Maddio’s also caters and has amazing lunch specials. If you’re in the neighborhood, check them out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baked Donuts

A few weeks ago I posted on twitter that I was having a wicked craving for donuts. I had just gone on a fried-foods bender and knew if I dared put one more piece of fried dough in my mouth that my thighs would instantly expand to the size of tractor-trailer tires. I decided to blend two of the recipes from my latest book,Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations, and make it into one amazing Baked Donuts recipe. Right now in the south the temperature are easily reaching into the mid to upper 80s so proofing yeast for the dough is no biggie if I just turn off the AC for a bit. If you happen to be living in a colder climate right now you have a couple options for keeping your dough warm so it doubles perfectly. The easiest one is to place the bowl with dough inside of it at the highest point in the kitchen, like on top of the refrigerator, where the temperature is warmer. Another great way to get your dough nice and warm is to place it near the oven or stove while you’re cooking another dish or lastly you can preheat your oven to 375oF, turn off the heat, then place your bowl inside leaving the oven door open (do not do this with a plastic bowl). It usually takes yeast about an hour to rise in dough.

To make this a soy free recipe simply use soy-free Earth Balance.

Baked Donuts
Makes approximately 1 dozen donuts and donut holes

½ cup + 3 tablespoons rice milk
2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons shortening
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

¼ cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Warm milk on the stove top for about 2 minutes (just before the point of boiling, you don’t want it to get hot, just warm). Add to the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir in yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Beat in shortening, sugar and ½ cup flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon until incorporated. Change to the dough hook and add the remaining 2 cups of flour. Beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. If the dough is too stick at this point add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it becomes more smooth and elastic. If the dough is too dry add rice milk, a tablespoon at a time, until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Once the desired texture is reached form dough into a ball within the bowl and cover. Set in a warm place and allow to double in size, this should take about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375oF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down onto a lightly floured surface and then roll it out to about ½ inch thickness. Using a donut cutter(Only about $4.99 on amazon or $6 at Williams Sonoma) cut out donuts and arrange on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart. Repeat until all the dough is used. I like donut holes as well so instead of rolling the middles of the donuts back into the dough I just baked up the donut holes alongside the regular donuts.

Bake donuts and donut holes for 8 to 10 minutes or until they become golden. While donuts are baking combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Remove donuts from the oven and allow to cool just enough so you can handle them. Dip each donut into the melted margarine then into the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Serve immediately.

If you have left over’s serve them warm the next day by heating them up in a toaster oven.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Black Bean Sausage

Hello vegans! Oh how I’ve missed you. The last few months have been all about school and finishing up my second book Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. Life is finally getting back to normal and I’m finally getting back to the folks that I love – you of course! I’ve been cooking and eating up a storm all up and down the East Coast and I have so many great recipes and restaurant reviews to share with you.

Right now I’m obsessed with fresh whole foods and eating gluten and soy free whenever possible. Gimme Lean Sausage has been my breakfast sausage of choice for a while now but it doesn’t exactly gel with my new whole foods, gluten free, soy free mission. Don’t get me wrong, soy and gluten are delicious but you can eat delicious nutrient and protein packed food without them, just trust me on this one. Black Bean Sausage is my new favorite breakfast treat with a little fresh fruit (Costa Rican pineapple is my obsession right now) and a little Tahini Coffee from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food.

Black Bean Sausage
Makes 4 Sausage Patties

1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ cup diced yellow or white onion
¾ cup black beans
¾ cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoon brown rice flour
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Warm oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add sautéed onions, black beans and brown rice to a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are combined and there are no large pieces of black bean left (do not puree).

Turn out into a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, use your hands if you need to.

Form bean mixture into balls that are approximately ¼ cup big then flatten them into patties.

Pour a thin layer of canola oil into a large skillet or griddle (I use a big cast iron griddle) and warm over medium heat. Add patties and cook until brown and slightly crispy on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
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