Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kitchen gadgets

vegan spritz cookies

I have a weakness for kitchen toys. While some people crave new electronics I like to fawn over kitchen supply catalogs. There's always that one thing that would make the coolest dessert or the best presentation. I mean doesn't everyone secretly want a sauce drizzler? Luckily I'm fairly good at keeping myself in check and not spending away my life on gizmos.

Over the holidays though, I did manage to acquire some neat toys in gift exchanges that I wouldn't have otherwise purchased for myself. Since they're definitely specialized, I hadn't even busted them out till now to test them. The first test was a cookie press for making those adorable spritz cookies. I really had no occasion to try this, despite my desire to see how the tiny cookies would come out, until a late night sweet craving took me over and they just had to be made.

Using the cookie press is definitely one of those processes that must involve some sort of technique; one that I definitely don't know. While about half of the cookies that came out were adorable, the other half were a bit more blobular. The main problem I had was making the dough stay on the pan ones it was squeezed out of the press. In the end, I usually just arranged the pieces together with my fingers. Luckily, no matter what each cookie looked like, they all tasted amazing. Absolutely perfect little treats that would be perfect for a party or gifts (or a late night snack). I can't wait to incorporate some fruit or jams into the recipes, or of course, chocolate. Recipe for vanilla spritz cookies can be found below.



chocolate fondue

Another product I got to try out was a ceramic fondue warmer. Ok, so perhaps fondue is a little out of style, but it seemed like a tasty idea to me. The warmer is only heated by a small tea candle, so I thought it probably wouldn't really keep the fondue that hot at all, instead it made the chocolate I pre-melted bubble even more than on the stove top. Amazing what conductive surfaces can do.

The great thing about making chocolate fondue for a dessert is not only how easy it is, but how amazingly satisfying. I simply cut up some apples and nectarines, and melted some semi-sweet chocolate with a dash of soymilk and it was ready to go. The result was fantastic. It's easy to forget how sweet and tasty fruit is when there are so many prepared desserts out there, but combined with the dark chocolate it was absolutely divine. In fact, I'm craving it now, just writing about it. The important thing is just to have fresh ripe fruit and good quality chocolate.

While I would have to say that having the fondue warmer increased the fun factor by at least 10%, it's totally not necessary to enjoy this simple dessert, just put the melted chocolate in a bowl or mug and it will stay warm for quite awhile. Another option would be to dip the fruit in the melted chocolate and refrigerate and harden for a cool treat later on.


spinach pesto pizza

Of course I had to include at least something savory, and of course, it's pizza. In an attempt to make a simple but different (sort of) dinner one night, I collected some remaining ingredients in my kitchen to come up with a spinach pesto. To my surprise, it turned out insanely good. I'm generally the type that is good at following recipes, but when I just throw things together, there is a high risk of things going horribly wrong. I suppose it's not hard to get it right when you combine such tasty ingredients though. I tried to keep the pizza uncomplicated and left off any other toppings besides vegan mozzarella. The result was a crispy, garlicy, spinach extravaganza. The pesto recipe is below.


Vegan Spritz Cookies
adapted from Wilton

3/4 cup earth balance
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tps egg replacer mixed with 1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder.

Cream sugar and earth balance. Add egg replacer and beat till slightly frothy. Add soy milk and extracts to combine. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Slowly add liquid mixture and mix until smooth.

Put mixture into cookie press and press cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.


Spinach Pesto

1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Put the almond, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and blend till you have a coarse meal. Next add the spinach, oil and salt and blend until combined. Spread on pizza dough and bake away!

Since this recipe has raw garlic, I recommend using it for baked items. Otherwise, roast the garlic beforehand and add to the blend.

3 comments:

katacyklsla2ny said...

Beautiful. I love your blog. It is so enjoyable to read your writing as it is very captivating, and of course you talk about delicious recipes. The pesto pizza looks so delicious. I am dehydarating pizza crust right now-how yummy. I can't wait.

Vegyogini said...

I'm with you on the kitchen gadgets! I have so much kitchen stuff that it often surprises me. :)

It was great to see you two the other night!

Treasures By Brenda said...

I had one of those cookie presses; I wasn't a fan but my Mother was!

I was amazed at how easy and how delicious chocolate fondue was when we had one on New Year's Eve. Ours included teenagers so it wasn't exactly romantic but it was a blast! I wrote a page about it at The Best-Ever Chocolate Fondue Recipe if you'd like to visit.

Brenda