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Baking up vegan delights

Doron Petersan, owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington, D.C

Driven by a love of animals, Doron Petersan went vegan more than a decade ago.

But memories of her favorite treats haunted her. But this vegan wasn’t about to let a lack of butter or eggs stop her.

“There was a real lack of decadent and tasty vegan baked goods at the time,” Petersan said. “I realized a lot of the things we were missing could be made vegan, so I started experimenting.”

Friends started asking her to bake for them, too, and a bakery was born. In 2002, she opened Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, the first vegan bakery in Washington, D.C.

Building on 10 years of recipes, she’s been taking on traditional ingredients and showing up the competition on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” which airs at 7 p.m. Sundays. Pitting her vegan recipes – no eggs, butter, dairy or animal products of any kind – against traditional favorites, her vegan cupcakes won top honors. Twice.

Now she shares recipes for vegan favorites including sticky buns, cheesecakes, tiramisu and her bakery’s popular Little Devils (inspired by Devil Dogs).

From which flours work best to egg replacers and dairy-free ingredients, Petersan offers solid baking advice in her first cookbook, “Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes” ($27.50, Avery) available in stores Thursday.

Petersan, 39, lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and 7-month-old son. When she’s not baking, she competes in bike races with Team Sticky Fingers.

Want to try her cupcakes? Baked goods ordered from her site, stickyfingersbakery.com/”>stickyfingersbakery.com, are shipped around the country every Tuesday.

Q.You not only took on traditional cupcakes, but won two challenges on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”?

A. “Cupcake Wars” influenced how people perceive us. People who thought, “Eww, vegan baking,” they’re inspired to try us.

We won twice against traditional bakers. We’re not just scooting by because we’re the only game in town. Every single bakery and Whole Foods offer vegan bakery, and that’s competition. We enjoy that. Bring it on.

Q. You studied dietetics at the University of Maryland. Why not culinary school?

A. I’d always worked in restaurants growing up. That’s how I made rent money. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was volunteering at shelters as a vet tech. That’s how I became vegetarian, working with all these animals. Then I started learning about what it took to be vegetarian and vegan.

I took a class for dietetics that was mandatory. I was fascinated. Some stuff is more difficult than others, but it’s all about the science. There’s no magic to the egg and dairy.

Q. Any non-vegan options you miss?

A. I’m not going to lie. Of course, there are flavors I crave or want. I wouldn’t say I don’t miss anything. You grow up with certain flavors you love. I re-create it. . . .

I do want my mother’s meatballs or lasagna just the way I remember it. That’s what I did with the bakery. I found a recipe for chocolate cake and found a way to tweak it. . . .

We don’t allow any carob in the bakery. We’re not going to win over non-vegans with just really good carob-covered cookies. You need really rich and delicious flavors to capture the memories.

Q. Anything you haven’t been able to re-create?

A. There are certain recipes that are extremely difficult. For instance, cannoli is absolutely one of the things I grew up eating and love. I have a very specific flavor in mind. My grandmother used to make it, very distinct flavors. It’s difficult to get those flavors up front before you taste soy or cornstarch.

We’ve got the shells or the sauce down, but the filling we haven’t. I’ve tasted a million and one cannoli, vegan and non-vegan, but I still haven’t gotten it.

Q. Your baked goods have playful names like Gilbert Ganachefried and Banana Chimp Bread. How does what you call something play into whether people will try it?

A. So much. We discovered people’s perceptions of how it tastes is going to affect the outcome of what they like. If you call it a “soy-based treat with seitan,” that sounds disgusting. People want caramel gooey stuff and things they relate to delicious.

Q. You’ve spent a decade creating vegan treats. What do you want people to know about this cookbook?

A. These recipes are not some magically different baking recipes. These are recipes that any baker can do. It’s about food science and chemistry. . . . It’s not just for people with food allergies. First and foremost these recipes are delicious. Second, they’re vegan.

Q. Have you seen a change in availability of vegan ingredients?

A. Nonhydrogenated margarines and shortenings are much easier to get now. When we started, you could only get Crisco. We’re able to do more in terms of healthier options.

Q. Most popular item in the bakery?

A. In our store specifically, hands down our most popular flavor is chocolate. No matter what we do or come up with, chocolate is the main flavor.

With “Cupcake Wars,” we’ve been on (Food Network) three times, won twice. We always bring the flavors back to the store and see what sells best. We just had Johnny Cashew, a chocolate cupcake with cashew candies on top. We couldn’t keep them on the shelf. Just for a little extra chocolate, people were going nuts.

Q. Why are cupcakes still so popular?

A. I think the popularity of cupcakes in our store and “Cupcake Wars” helps keep the momentum. But it started long before “Cupcake Wars” was a twinkle in someone’s eyes. Hand-held desserts are always popular. You wouldn’t know there was an economic crisis going on by the amount of cupcakes we sell.

Q. You’ve got a bit of a Bettie Page look going on for the book cover, with the addition of a few tattoos. Any tattoos featuring baked goods or for the new book?

A. As far as tattoos, I can’t help it. I’ve always been fascinated. My grandfather was in the Navy. I do have one from “Cupcake Wars,” a cupcake inside a television. What I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, the tattoos hurt more and more. That, and now I have a baby. I don’t have the disposable income I used to.

Article excerpted from www.jsonline.com

Simple & Not Too Sweet: Perfecting Winter With Vegan Chai

The Indian spicy sweet tea and milk beverage called chai is more than just a cupful of yummy. The spices are actually tonic herbs that soothe digestion, boost mood and reduce inflammation—which of course can all be thrown out of whack by drinking dairy milk. But you can still enjoy the flavorful brew, without the dairy, and with all the benefits using this simple vegan chai recipe.

One of the greatest elements of making chai from scratch is that it fills your home with an aroma that you simply won’t get from steeping a teabag. And by using fresh ingredients, you pull more of the medicinal benefits, too.

Ingredients

1 cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
¼ of a nutmeg, grated
2 tablespoons of cardamom pods
1 half teaspoon of black peppercorns
A big 1 inch chunk of gresh ginger, grated
1 large vanilla bean sliced
1 dried red chili pepper
2 tablesoons maple syrup, agave nectar (honey is used traditionally, but not vegan) — add more if you want it sweeter, but the nondairy milk will give it an extra sweetness and you might find you like the spicy heat better than the sweet!
1-2 tablespoons loose leaf tea: traditionally black tea is used, like a good ceylon or darjeeling, but you can substitute with oolong, green, white or an herbal base like rooibos or even chamomile. Steer clear of mint, citrus or any flavored teas, though.
2 cups water
2 cups nondairy milk (almond is amazing!)

Method

Mix water and herbs in medium saucepan and bring to low simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes. Then add the tea and let simmer for another five minutes. Strain out the solids and return liquid to the pot. Add in milk and sweetener and heat low heat until warm. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon or nondairy foam.

Article excerpted from www.organicauthority.com

Lazy Vegan Miso Soup

There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a nice Thai or Japanese restaurant and sipping on a warm bowl of miso soup. It’s equally nice to enjoy this dish from the comforts of your own home, especially on a rainy or sick day when you want nothing more than to be curled up in sweatpants with a movie or a good book. Unfortunately, miso can often be misleadingly made with a soup base called dashi, which is a mixture of water, dried seaweed and fish flakes.

The good news is that this simple and delicious comfort food can be recreated as a vegan soup with very little effort. Typically,  pair the soup with a nice, fresh Asian salad or vegan lettuce wraps.

When you’re feeling the blues or needing a little pick-me-up, just go to your fridge and use whatever vegetables and protein products you have on hand to fuel your miso.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. Silken tofu, or whatever tofu you have on hand. Silken makes the miso more closely resemble the restaurant-style dish
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • ¾ c. green onions, chopped
  • 6 medium-large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TB miso paste. South River organic sweet white miso paste is one that can last for decades in your refrigerator.
  • 2 large vegan bouillon cubes or 2 TB Better Than Bouillon paste. Follow instructions on container.
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 4 – 6 c. water

First, slice your vegetables. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like. Celery works well, as does seaweed, or any variety of mushroom.

Drain your tofu and cut into tiny cubes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once your water is boiling, dissolve the miso paste in the water. Stir.

Add your vegetable broth or vegan bouillon. Stir.

Add carrots and/or other vegetables (not your green onions or mushrooms) and let all the ingredients reach a full boil again. This will soften your vegetables. Once your miso is to this point, bring to a simmer.

Just a couple of minutes before serving, add the green onions. sea salt, and mushrooms.

Then add the tofu.

Let ingredients cook for 2 -3 minutes to allow the flavors to mix together, and serve!

Makes 4 – 6 bowls.

Article excerpted from www.organicbugblog.com

What Are Vegan Desserts?

Vegan foods cannot contain any type of animal product. Poultry, fish, and meat are the most obvious items that must be eliminated from this type of diet. Eggs, honey, and dairy products cannot be eaten by vegans either, and create a bigger problem when finding acceptable vegan desserts.

For any baked good to be considered vegan, it can not be made with eggs, milk, cream, or butter. Acceptable egg substitutes are soft tofu, applesauce, mashed banana, or cornstarch. Milk can be replaced with soy milk, nut milk, rice milk, or even water. For buttermilk, a mixture of soy milk and vinegar can be used as a substitution. Vegan margarine is available in some supermarkets and health food stores.

Placing several substitutions in a regular recipe can be tricky. Using a vegan recipe for baked goods is the best option for making satisfying vegan desserts. Vegan recipes can be found for cookies, cakes, pies, and brownies.

Fruit crisps and cobblers are among the easiest vegan desserts to make. For a quick and easy crisp, simply pour oatmeal prepared with soy milk or water over fruit. Blueberries, sliced apples, and peaches are great options. Fruit salads combined with vegan marshmallows and nuts are a simple dessert choice as well.

Nut products, such as peanut butter, are important to a vegan diet because of their protein content, which vegans may have trouble getting elsewhere. Desserts containing nuts such as chocolate peanut butter pie, or macaroons made with coconut and dates, can be healthful as well as delicious. Cookies are particularly easy to work nuts into, from peanut butter cookies to chocolate chip cookies loaded with extras such as pecans and almonds.

For those who prefer prepackaged dessert products, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has put together a list of vegan baking mixes. Included on the list are Betty Crocker Bisquick baking mixes, Aunt Jemima Coffee Cake Mix, and Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Gingerbread Mix. Several flavors of Duncan Hines® Creamy Home-Style Frosting made the list, as well as Pillsbury® Treat Toppers in chocolate or vanilla. Many Jello-O instant puddings are also considered vegan by PETA. Vegan baking products on PETA’s list include Crisco® Original Cooking Spray and All-Vegetable Shortening, Keebler® Ready Crust Graham Cracker Pie Crusts, and Blue Bonnet® Light Margarine.

By working creatively with dairy substitutes, nearly any traditional dessert can be made into a vegan dish. When purchasing packaged mixes, consumers should always double check the label to make sure that the contents adhere to vegan standards. Many products that aren’t labeled as vegan, still meet the appropriate requirements and can be used as delicious vegan desserts.

Article excerpted from www.wisegeek.com

Vegans are by no means stuck eating boring foods, you can still enjoy delicious desserts. Besides, you can get many vegan desserts recipe on the dessert. Start to make your vegan desserts today!

Vegan Cake Recipe: Blueberry Apple Crumble Cake

Vegan Cake Recipe: Blueberry Apple Crumble Cake

A common misconception about eating vegan is that guilty pleasure foods, like decadent desserts, are out. That couldn’t be more untrue! This vegan cake recipe proves that you can have your (vegan) cake and eat it, too.

Vegan Blueberry Apple Crumble Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup organic canola oil
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 large apple, sliced

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour a medium-sized cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the blueberries with the oats, chopped almonds, flour, soda, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, mash your bananas with the canola oil, almond butter, ground flax, vanilla and sugar. Add apple slices and blueberry mixture to banana mixture and stir just until moistened.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and top it off with some homemade granola and a few extra sprinkles of sugar. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe excerpted from www.eatdrinkbetter.com

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