Jablka Na Winie Czerwonym (Baked Apples with Red Wine)

A very simple appetizer or dessert. Makes 8 servings, though as an appetizer, you can cut the apples into four pieces and get 32 servings out of it.

The recipe doesn’t call for the apples to be peeled, but I peeled them anyway (other similar baked apple dishes on the net called for the apples to be peeled). It helps the flavors to absorb into the apple nicely. I suspect it’s tasty either way.

Ingredients

  • 8 apples, cored
  • Cherry or strawberry jam
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mace or nutmeg
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Place apples in a greased casserole or baking dish (Earth Balance or a little oil will work). Fill each apple with jam.

Blend sugar and mace (or nutmeg) and stir in wine and vanilla. Pour over apples. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before serving.

Source: FoodDownUnder.com

[ratings]

Fattoush for Christmas?

Time was tight before heading to New Jersey for the holiday, so instead of making the stew I had planned on, I made Fattoush (a middle eastern bread salad) instead. The dish ended up being a hit, even though I wasn’t expecting anyone else to try it. What’s great about it is that it’s so easy to make, and as long as you have fresh herbs and the somewhat hard to find dried sumac (I got mine at a nearby Iranian grocery store), you’re good to go, no cooking involved. As you can imagine, there are many, many variations on the traditional fattoush recipe.

(Fattoush for Christmas, you say? Well, Jesus was from the middle east, wasn’t he?)

For Wigilia, Huyen searched the net far and wide for interesting vegetarian dishes that would be easy to make and that could be served cold. We went with Jablka Na Winie Czerwonym, Baked Apples with Red Wine. The recipe doesn’t say to peel the apples, but we did so that the flavors would soak in well. Something interesting I learned along the way: the only real difference between red wine and “red cooking wine” is that the cooking wine has salt in it.

Tomorrow night we have a New Year’s Eve party to go to where I’ll be making the Tunisian Vegetable Stew (for real, this time!). We’re also getting together with friends on New Year’s Day, though I’m not quite sure what I’m making yet. Though I’m thinking for dessert: this chocolate cake recipe with the mint chocolate variation of this icing. (Oh, and check out the punk Gingerbread cookies… awesome!)

Have a great New Year, everybody.

Holiday Eats

With Thanksgiving—always a stressful holiday for non-meat-eaters—just past, Christmas is staring us in the face. What are you planning on eating this holiday? Are you sticking around home or visiting family?

We’ll be visiting family, participating in the annual Wigilia Polish dinner on Christmas Eve and then spending Christmas at my parents’ house with my family.

Eating at my parent’s place won’t be too tricky. They’re all eating a meat dish and I’ll have to prepare my own main dish, but my mom’s making sure some of the sides are vegan-safe for me. Wigilia is going to be a little tougher, though, which is odd since the only meat consumed at Wigilia is fish. Yet, there are very few veg-friendly dishes there. I’ll be bringing an appetizer (not sure what yet, but Huyen’s been scouring the web, our cookbooks, and magazines for veggie Polish dishes, and I’ll probably have to bring a small main course of my own, too. I’m thinking about making a large batch of Tunisian Vegetable Stew to last through Sunday.

Goodbaker

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Looking for a last-minute gift idea? I really meant to get this review done earlier so that these could find their way into more hands for the holidays, but hey, I’ve given enough “IOU” presents with pictures of the item that’s “on the way” to know that people don’t totally disown you for a late gift.

Goodbaker fulfills a simple need that not many other companies do: the need for healthy, vegan baking mixes. Really, one of the most difficult things about transitioning to being vegan is learning how best to replace eggs in baking. Lee Busch at Goodbaker has fulfilled this need, and fulfilled it quite well.

The mixes come in simple brown paper packages with instructions stuck right on. But, really, the instructions don’t go far beyond “take x amount of water and oil, mix with dry ingredients to form a ball, and then scoop dough onto a baking sheet.” It’s about as easy as can be. Plus you can take a taste of the dough without worrying about salmonella. Tasty and food poisoning free!

Of the mixes I’ve received, I’ve tried both the Classic Chocolate Chip cookie mix and the Oatmeal Spice cookie mix. While I’m generally a fan of the straight chocolate chip cookie more than any other, the Oatmeal Spice cookie really got my attention. It’s hearty tasting and touched with just the right amount of spice to keep things interesting. While my wife and a friend of ours painted our family room, I was in the kitchen baking up a batch of these. Even though I was bowing out of the manual labor for a while in favor of baking, they both thanked me without any mention of my lack of painting time.

Now don’t get me wrong… it may sound like I didn’t like the chocolate chip cookie mix, but that’s pretty far from the trust. Indeed, Goodbaker’s mix produced the best whole wheat vegan chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tried.

OK, OK, I think they’re the only whole wheat vegan chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tried. But they’re good! Halfway between crunchy and soft, they really hit the spot without that nasty “I shouldn’t have eaten that feeling” that usually comes after devouring too many cookies at one time. Kids raised on nothing but Toll House cookies may take a little while to adapt to these, but at this point, I’ll take a Goodbaker cookie over a Toll House cookie any day.

A few more items I have stored away for some winter baking: a cake and ganache frosting mix and, I believe brownies. I will report back on these as I try them.

Beyond the food, though, Goodbaker is a company worth supporting. They’re environmentally conscious (they don’t use unnecessary packing material… honestly, I’ve never seen a more efficiently packed box before) and are quick to support pro-animal causes (Lee graciously donated mixes for a silent auction that we had at Poplar Spring earlier in the year). It always makes me feel really good to see good people doing good work.

It’s hard to go wrong with Goodbaker. Tasty, yet healthy, desserts from a company worth supporting.

Vegan Cheesesteaks

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I’m happy to report that my vegan cheesesteak with homemade seitan experiment and faux Cheez Whiz (fortunately, much less scary than regular Cheez Whiz) was a success. While it didn’t perfectly replicate the flavor of a authentic Philly Cheesesteak—though I did follow the general directions according to Pat’s—it was a damn fine replacement. Nice and heavy and significantly less greasy (for better or worse). The cheese was the big surprise… who would have thought a fake cheese whose first ingredient is Great Northern Beans could really taste like good old junky Cheez Whiz, and actually be healthy, to boot? (Yes, I know, it kind of defeats the purpose).

I’d like to perfect the recipe and make some really thinly sliced seitan for a more authentic texture. In time, in time…