Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekend experiments

Since I cook by trial-and-error, I am bound to make a few mistakes; have a few failures. This weekend I had that happen twice.

I haven't done a lot of vegan baking. I finally mastered a good cookie recipe, but I am just starting to tackle cakes and brownies and that sort of dessert. I got a gluten-free brownie mix several months ago, but just decided to try it this weekend. However, of course, the recipe calls for butter and eggs. sigh. So I had to make it vegan. I decided to be a little creative. For several years I have been  making a chocolate-pumpkin cake that is delicious. You take a box of chocolate cake mix and mix in one 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Add just enough water to get the right cake batter consistency. Then bake according to the cake mix instructions. It's so good and moist and awesome with cream cheese icing (another sigh).

Anyway, I thought I'd try using pumpkin (only half a can) in place of the eggs and butter in the brownie mix. Unfortunately it didn't work. It never set up. The middle of the brownie stayed completely gooey. So I could not take them to the cookout I went to this weekend. I couldn't serve them to anyone else. HOWEVER, they are still very yummy and great with frozen vanilla "ice cream." So it's really only a partial failure. Not something I would serve to anyone else, but something I can definitely still eat. And one of the best things about vegan recipes...nothing in them to cause food poisoning so you can eat them raw if you want to!

My second experiment was a lentil stew in the crockpot. I had some Green BEAN Delivery bulk red lentils rather than green or brown lentils. Red lentils fall apart and become mushier than the other lentils. So the taste of the soup is good, but the consistency is not what I would prefer at all. So maybe it's not a failure, but its not what I like best. I listed the recipe for the crockpot as well the stove top.

Lentil & Smoked Sausage Stew 

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups lentils, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
12 oz smoked sausage, sliced into coins
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste

If making in the crockpot, throw all ingredients in the crockpot and let cook on high about 3-4 hours.

If on the stove top, in a large pot, saute onion in about a tsp of oil, once onion is translucent, add garlic and smoked sausage. Once garlic is fragrant and sausage is slightly browned on the edges, add tomatoes and their juice. Let the tomato juice cook down slightly, then add chicken stock, water, bay leaf and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt to taste and continue to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, until the lentils have fallen apart and thickened the soup.Add additional seasoning if you prefer.

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