August 29, 2008
Once again, I find myself having to apologize for my unexplained absence. The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind—I went to California (Millennium Restaurant absolutely lives up to its reputation) and Milwaukee (I must retract my snarky comments about Cream City’s vegan offerings; I ate quite well), then packed for school and am in the process of moving into my apartment. But I have been cooking and documenting—now I just need to update.
My second try with the ice cream maker yielded results similar to the first time: good but not perfect. I think the texture on this one was a little better because I just used soy creamer, which has a higher fat content than soymilk. Getting a better soy creamer might improve the ice cream, too (I’ve been using decent-and-widely-available Silk creamer). Again, I’ll provide the recipe because I liked it well enough to serve to others, but I don’t consider this my final pronouncement on coffee ice cream.
But first, a word or two on starches. I used arrowroot powder the first couple times I made ice cream because that’s the standard on A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise. After two quarts of ice cream, however, my $6 container of arrowroot was almost gone. My wallet could not support my ice cream habit. I’ve heard cornstarch doesn’t freeze well so I decided to look for tapioca starch. I found it at my local Thai grocery for 89¢ a pound. The arrowroot was $6 for a 50 gram container (a spice bottle). At about 450 grams per pound, that means arrowroot costs more than sixty times as much as tapioca starch. Sixty! Arrowroot may come a bit cheaper in bulk, but any way you add it up, it ain’t worth it. So, budding vegan ice cream makers, find an Asian grocery, inconvenient though it may be for some of you, and stock up on dirt cheap tapioca starch.
Coffee Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 ½ cups soy creamer
1 ½ cups very strong coffee
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Stir the tapioca starch into ¼ cup of the soy creamer until dissolved. Set aside.
2. Heat the remaining creamer and coffee in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir more frequently as the mixture approaches a boil.
3. When the liquid boils, turn the heat down until the liquid is at a simmer.
4. After 3 minutes, whisk in sugar until dissolved, then whisk in tapioca mixture until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
5. Chill for several hours to overnight, then make according your ice cream maker’s directions. You may need to freeze it for two hours after it comes out of the ice cream maker to solidify it. Store unused ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer; it will be very hard right out of the freezer, but microwaving it for 15 seconds will soften it.
August 4, 2008
Look, I have been cooking. Really. It’s just that everything I’ve been cooking is a bit monastic (cabbage soup, plain cooked chard), less than fabulous (a middling coffee ice cream), or totally unphotogenic (a peach salsa that was actually quite good—don’t worry, I’ll make it again).
But I have also been making a lot of sandwiches. Actually, it’s just one that I make a lot. It’s my favorite sandwich ever, and it seems almost too simple to write about: the hummus sandwich. I say almost because I have specific directions for my version of this vegan classic. I like simple hummus spread on bread with veggies, but the magic is in the details for this one: spices and olive oil.
Have you ever had that Forty Spice Hummus? This is much better, and it’s only Two-Three Spice Hummus. All you need is cumin, paprika, and possibly cayenne pepper, depending on your taste. The cumin should outweigh the paprika, say 2:1; the pepper should just be a pinch. And the oil. Most hummus includes olive oil, but drizzling the bread with your own extra-virgin olive oil will go a long way in improving flavor. These two elements really transform this sandwich for me. I think it works best on a toasted bagel, but the bread is up to you. Toasting makes this sandwich easier to eat, though—the bread is less chewy and more crunchy.
By the way, I live on this at college. For any college vegans stuck in vegan-unfriendly dining halls, if you have access to hummus and a halfway decent salad bar, the hummus sandwich can be your best friend. If there’s no spice rack, you can bring the spices with you!
This hardly warrants a recipe, but for those who don’t want to sort through the post…
The Best Hummus Sandwich
Makes one sandwich
1 bagel, sliced in half and toasted
½-¾ cup hummus
pinch cayenne pepper, optional
vegetables of choice, such as tomato, baby spinach, cucumber, sprouts, red onion…
Drizzle the bagel with olive oil. Add spices to the hummus, to taste, about twice as much cumin as paprika. Mix them in with a knife, then spread generously on the bagel. Add veggies, with spinach and sprouts on the bottom and more stable items like tomato and cucumber on top.