Monday, October 25, 2010

Vegan Flan

My brother used to date a lovely Brazilian woman named Ana who always brought the most scrumptious flans to family events. I’ve never made flan let alone a vegan flan so I’m really excited for my little experiment this week. In preparation, I read a few recipes on the web and since they were all fairly similar I decided to combine my favourites into the following recipe.

I had a few problems with the caramel. At first, the sugar wouldn’t melt so I turned the heat up to high which resulted in a bunch of hard clumps that wouldn’t dissolve no matter how hard I tried to mash them out ( I think this is my fault for not stirring enough, I got distracted by the computer). I added a few tablespoons of water which may have helped with the consistency but after stirring and stirring I gave up and just strained the syrup into the pan. Instead of using individual ramekins, I poured the caramel and custard into a round cake pan.

I must admit to being disappointed with the flavour and consistency of this dessert.  The flan set well but was too gelatinous and not creamy enough for my taste.  I also didn't enjoy the soy flavour of the custard and will replace the soy milk with coconut milk in my next attempt.  I'm happy I gave this a try even though it was not as fantastic as the flan in my memory.  I'm determined to make it better.

Vegan Flan

For the Caramel:

¾ cup of sugar
3 tablespoons water (approximate)
Melt the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the syrup coats the back of a spoon and it’s a lovely golden brown colour. I think you should stir it fairly constantly but obviously I’m no expert! Pour the caramel into the bottom of the pan or ramekins, whatever you are using.

For the Custard:

2 cups of unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon agar-agar flakes
½ cup silken tofu
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Heat the soy milk and agar-agar flakes in a sauce pan until boiling and then reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the agar-agar has dissolved.

Place the soy milk mixture, tofu, sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.  Pour over top of the syrup and refrigerate until cool. To remove, slide a knife around the perimeter of the cake pan and lightly shake side to side. If the flan doesn't loosen, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for about 15 seconds, then turn over onto a plate.  Eat it up!

Now turn your attention to Kathryn's creation this week over at the hedgehog in the kitchen.   She was inspired by a picture book to make pumpkin soup.

And joining us for the first time from Mexico City, please welcome Kika who has made an appealing looking corn bread.   Her blog is called come compa and she is posting in both Spanish and English. 

I can't wait to see what everone is cooking up next week!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes

Hey everyone!  I'm back and cooking in my new home.  It's so exciting to have a new(ish) kitchen to work in with adequate cupboard space and a longer countertop.  I'm still finding my groove with this different layout but it's awesome that more than one person can actually be present in the kitchen with me and not get in my way.  I was chatting with some friends over on Goodreads the other day about how yummy potatoes are in just about every way.  The conversation inspired me to try a recipe that would use up some mashed potatoes I had sitting in the fridge.  Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes from Vegan Brunch.    Doesn't that sound good?  I thought so too.  I love Indian inspired dishes so I was really looking forward to a savoury breakfast.

The first step in the recipe was to pop mustard seeds in hot oil for a few minutes and then continue sauteeing more seasonings such as ginger, garlic, cumin, carrots and onion.  I wasn't sure if the mustard seeds were supposed to turn black (mind did) and was concerned about how they would flavour the dish but I needn't have worried, I couldn't detect any bitterness or burnt flavour in the final product.  Half way through, I discovered there was no flour in the house but decided to go ahead with the recipe with the hope that everything would hold together in the pan.  They were a little on the wet side but the flavour was fantastic.   Next time I make them I'm sure we will enjoy more cohesive pancakes with all the same great flavour.

Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes in the mixing bowl

Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes in the pan!

My amazing friend Kathryn over at The Hedgehog in the Kitchen recently celebrated a birthday and her sister Ann whipped up a batch of Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Veganomicon.   I haven't tried that recipe yet but they look and sound great!  I'm always looking for new chocolate chip recipes to try so thanks for posting about these.      

I look forward to getting back in my cooking groove and the challenge goes on!