seitan is my motor



February 2015



Marzipan Cheesecake Brownie Bars

vegan marzipan cheesecake brownie bars |

This year I haven’t baked much so far. I admit that I needed a little sugar break after I had finished my e-book on holiday baking. I didn’t really crave a lot of sweet stuff until I saw a picture of a marzipan cheesecake bownie cake. I saw it and wanted to have it on our dessert plates right that moment. But that’s the problem with pictures and with the internet, too. You can stare all you want, that cake is not going to appear in front of you. Plus, it wasn’t even vegan.

If you’re going to veganise a cheesecake, there are two methods, depending on what kind of cheesecake you’re making. If you are making a US-style cheesecake, vegan creamcheese is the substitute of choice because most Northern American cheesecakes are made with creamcheese. If you’re going for a German/Eastern European cheesecake, many people these days use drained soy yoghurt, because traditional cheesecake recipes call for curd cheese (quark), that is often drained. The recipe I was looking at was made with creamcheese and sour cream. I can get vegan versions of both these things, but I went with a mixture of drained yoghurt and cashews instead. It’s totally weird but whenever I use vegan substitutes for my recipes I feel like cheating. After going vegan I “grew up” making my own substitutes and now that most people can get them, I don’t need them anymore. And isn’t it funny that I consider creamcheese and sour cream substitutes but yoghurt and soy milk not? Yeah, it’s weird.

Anyway, I veganised the cake with ingredients I am most comfortable with when it comes to baking. By comfortable I mean these are ingredients I know good enough so I can make a new recipe from scratch. If I would have used creamcheese, I probably would have had more work and maybe I would have been forced to make some changes. Or maybe I wouldn’t have liked the taste? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. These bars came out so wonderful. They have a moist crust and the filling is creamy with a hint of marzipan. They are best eaten on the day they were made, right after they have cooled down.  If you store them in the fridge make sure to take them out one or two hours before serving.

Marzipan Cheesecake Brownie Bars (makes one 20 x 20 cm or 8 x 8 inch pan)

For the brownie crust:
120 g (4.2 oz or 1/2 cup) firm tofu
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk
100 g ( 1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
170 g (6 oz chocolate or 1 cup chips) dark chocolate, melted

For the cheesecake filling:
500 g yoghurt, drained over night (see note)
175 g (6.2 oz or 1 1/4 cups) raw cashews
110 g (1/2 cup) melted margarine or refined coconut oil
120 ml (1/2 cup) non-dairy milk
125 g ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
150 g (5.3 oz) firm marzipan, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla

Note: To drain the yoghurt place a sieve over a bowl and a large cheesecloth over the sieve. Pour in 500 g of yoghurt and let sit in the fridge over night. There probably won’t be much drained liquid in the bowl as the cloth will soak up almost everything. The next day, scrape the yoghurt into a bowl. It should have a creamy consistency similar to greek yoghurt or sour cream. Use immediately or cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square pan with parchment paper.
To make the crust, combine tofu, oil, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and mix well. Pour in tofu mixture and stir well. Fold in chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth down the batter.

To make the filling, combine yoghurt, cashews, margarine, milk, and sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Add the marzipan and blend again. This will probably take a while. Make sure your blender doesn’t get too hot. Once the marzipan is blended in mix in cornstarch and vanilla. Pour on top of the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is nicely browned. If it browns too quickly, place a piece of aluminium foil on top. Let cool before serving.

Tip: For decoration you can use chocolate shavings or cut out marzipan and powdered sugar.



January 2015



Cookbook Review: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico

Whenever I go on vacation I try to learn something about the local cuisine. Often there is a lack of authentic vegan food though. Most of the time that means I impulse buy a cookbook, I write down ideas, I search the internet, I veganise one or two recipes. Then I move on because that vacation was only for a week and what could you possibly learn in a week? But what if it was possible to spend more time in a certain spot, what if there was a chance to really get to know both the people and their food? What if you have the time to create your own vegan versions of the food you see around you? That is exactly what Justin P. Moore did with his second book. “The Lotus and the Artichoke ¡Mexico!” is about a three month trip the author and his family made to Mexico. In the introduction he talks about how easy it was to find vegan food there. He also got to know chefs  and hosts who taught him a lot about the local cuisine. He then developed his own recipes inspired by the local cuisine and put them all together in his new book on Mexican cooking.

The book is small and light and every recipe goes with a picture. Some of them were familiar to  me because I already own Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Latina book, but that way I can get a better understanding of this kind of food and learn about alternative preparation methods. All of the recipes I tried were simple and delicious. Because of the appetising pictures it was very hard to decide what to make. For this review I had to stop somewhere but I am not putting this book down anytime soon. The recipes are flexible and the author offers many ingredient alternatives and substitutions. I also like Justin’s attitude towards cooking. He doesn’t see it as an exact science and encourages his readers to experiment. I often found the ingredient lists a bit confusing though. Ingredients are not always listed in the order they are used. That can sometimes be uncomfortable, you have to go back to the book and find the ingredient you need to use next.

book review: the lotus and the artichoke mexico by Justin P. Moore |

1. Mango-Limetten-Ceviche (Mango Lime Ceviche): I have to admit I was very sceptical about this recipe at first. I have never had ceviche before and had no idea what to expect. I liked the way the the tofu was prepared and that’s why I made it. You sauté it with onions, garlic, ginger, anc chili and that is one of my favourite ways to prepare tofu. But then there were other ingredients like mango and radicchio and I honestly couldn’t imagine I would like that. Sweet and bitter and savoury? No, thank you. I made it anyway and I am so glad I did. This was the first recipe I tried and that was the one that won me over. There’s only a little radicchio and the tofu mango combination worked really well for me.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

 2. Caldo Tlalpeño: This soup reminded me of Hungarian goulash soup. It’s made with TVP but the author suggests alternatives such as smoked tofu or seitan. I used the TVP and the soup came out very thick and chunky, which I liked a lot. It was a quick, tasty and comforting meal.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

3. Pizza de Papas: This pizza is made by frying the topping before placing it on the pizza and I think that’s what makes this  really special: crispy, aromatic, and spicy. We loved this a lot.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

4. Tacos de Lentejas: The original version of this calls both for lentils and potatoes. I was out of potatoes so I used the suggested cauliflower as a substitute. I think the potato version is probably amazing, but the cauliflower version was, too! Like everything else this was delicious and filling. I am fortunate to have access to great organic wheat tortillas which taste like actual food, but if you can’t find decent tortillas Justin also has recipes both for flour and corn tortillas.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

5. Mexican Magic Rice: Rice, seitan, and olives, for me the perfect comfort food. I’m repeating myself, I don’t know what else to say. This recipe was easy to make and delicious. It can be made ahead and then you can keep it in the fridge, take servings to work, eat its leftovers for lunch, etc.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

 6. Chimichurri Tofu: This was the only recipe that didn’t work for me. First of all the instructions didn’t seem very clear. It says to preheat the oven but doesn’t mention where to put the tofu. I used a baking dish but maybe a baking sheet would have been better? I also didn’t have enough sauce. The recipe calls for a bunch of parsley, which is usually about 50 g where I live. Next time I’d double it because it simply didn’t make enough for me. You are supposed to brush the tofu before and while baking. That didn’t work out  because I had used up everything the first time around. And that was even though I had reduced the amount of tofu from 400 g to 300 g. I also didn’t like the preparation method because most of the hearbs looked pretty dark and wilted to me after baking. (But, mind you, that was only because I had already used up the sauce.) The sauce itself is good and I would probably make this again with a couple of changes. Either I would double the amount of sauce or I would  pre-bake the tofu and also brush it wish some soy sauce. I would only add the sauce at the end of the cooking time, maybe 10 minutes before the tofu is done baking.

Sometimes things go wrong and that shouldn’t reflect badly on this cookbook because I think it is an inspiring book full of interesting and delicious recipes. They call for fresh vegetables and herbs, are easy to prepare and don’t take super long to prepare. I am very happy that this book is now a part of my cookbook shelf and I am looking forward to making more amazing recipes from it.

Buchcover "The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico" von Justin P. Moore, erschienen im Ventil Verlag.

The Lotus and the Artichoke ¡Mexico! is a new vegan cookbook by Justin P Moore. I reviewed the German version but the English version is available, too. Justin has another cookbook out, which you can check it out here. Don’t forget to browse through the recipe section on Justin’s page, where he features many of his awesome international recipes. I got my review copy for free from the publisher Ventil Verlag.