Monday, September 28, 2009

Craz-E Burger is a Hit!

Remember that hulking monster of a burger I described last week? The one sold at The Big E Fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts? The one with beef, cheese and bacon, all smacked between a doughnut bun?

Well what do you know, the Craz-E Burger has fair folk going insane. Sales for the burger are so high, that on the first day, chefs even ran out of doughnuts.

See footage of the brave few who tried to tackle the beast:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

After visiting the farmers market one Saturday afternoon, I became smitten with the produce sold at the booths. Armies of butternut squash stood tall, while squat eggplants lingered nearby. Red peppers were large and beautiful, streaked with green slashes of color- hallmarks of their idiosyncrasy and charm.

To really showcase the goodies, my roommate and I constructed a glorious meal out of risotto, spiked with red wine, and paired with roasted vegetables. Pretty straight forward, but elegant in it's own right.

Try to roast the very best vegetables because their flavor will become concentrated and add immensely to the dish. We topped this with a smidgen of goat cheese to add a creamy depth to the meal.

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

1 cup arborio rice

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

1 box organic vegetable broth

A few splashes of red wine

1 eggplant, sliced into chunks

1 butternut squash, chunked

1 onion, sliced and chunked

2 zucchinis or yellow squash, slices and quartered

2 red peppers, sliced and chunked

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons dried basil or oregano

Organic, high quality goat cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables on a large baking sheet and massage with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and dried herbs over. Put in oven for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 cup of vegetable broth. When it comes to a boil, add arborio rice. Reduce heat to medium. Stirring constantly, keep adding more broth when the liquid is absorbed by the rice. This should take a relatively long time, around 30 minutes, but keep stirring! When the rice has absorbed ALMOST as much as it can, add a few splashes of wine for more flavor.
When the liquid is gone and the rice is tender with a slight bite, it is done! Serve in a bowl with roasted vegetables on top. Sprinkle goat cheese on the hot rice and vegetables so it melts a little.
Can you say yum?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Craz-E Burger!!

Every fall in West Springfield, Massachusetts, something peculiar happens. Cream puffs as large as your head, gigantic eclairs and monumental chocolate chip cookies are sold at New England's largest country fair, The Big-E. This year, the fair will feature a whopping monster of a burger entitled The Craz-E Burger. Made with beef, cheese, bacon and a donut grilled in butter there is no question as to how the burger earned its name.

Is it vegetarian? No.
Is it vegan? Absolutely not.

But my oh my it is a fantastic exhibition of patriotic indulgence in the best possible way.

To get one in your own hands, the Big E takes place Sept. 18 – Oct. 4, 2009, (

Or if you can't get to Massachusetts, make one yourself!

The Craz-E Burger
As sold at the Big-E Fair

1 beef patty

American Cheese

Crisp bacon

Butter grilled glazed donut

Carefully slice the donut in half, lightly butter and grill. Add cooked burger, top with cheese and crisp bacon.
Place in between the donut halves.
No condiments are needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birthday Carrot Cake!

For my dear roommate's 22nd birthday, I created the most delicious cake I have ever made. She is not a huge fan of chocolate, so I turned to my trusty Vegan With a Vengeance cookbook for some advice. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across a picture of a big, bright orange slab of carrot cake, topped with coconut icing.

And so, off to the store I went, gathering the many items needed: crystalized ginger, maple syrup, pineapple juice...who knew that such a varied array of ingredients would combine into one perfect birthday baked good?

Though the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, I used hazelnuts instead. You would not think that a nut usually paired with chocolate would work in a carrot cake but did it ever!

I finished off the cake with some beautiful trail mix decorations.

Needless to say, this cake was a birthday miracle.

Ginger-Macadamia (or Hazelnut)-Coconut Carrot Cake with Coconut Frosting
As seen in Isa Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 cup pineapple juice (i used one with tidbits in it for juicy surprises)

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup macadamia nuts, (or hazelnut)

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups carrot, grated

Almonds and dried cherries for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together.
In another bowl, combine pineapple, oil, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small batches. Combine well.
Stir in nuts, ginger, coconut and carrots.
Divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for around 40 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool. Put a layer of icing between the layers and on the outside of the cake.

Coconut Icing

1/4 cup Earth Balance Butter

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 cup unsweetened coconut

Almonds and Dried Cherries

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add coconut milk and vanilla. Add sugar until smooth.
Toast the coconut in a 350 degree oven until light brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
Press the coconut on the top of a frosted cake, and decorate with almonds and dried cherries.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strawberry Pie

Sometimes, simplicity is beauty. For my roommates and neighbors, making a strawberry pie one mellow Saturday night was a bomb way to rejoice in the uncomplicated taste of late summer.

This pie features strawberries, (which are quite cheap now that the season is ending), and all you need to bring out their flavor is sugar. Really!

I don't possess a food processor, and I wasn't about to try and make my own pie crust without one. So frozen crusts were used instead, making this a cinch to whip up.

Strawberry Pie

2 quarts strawberries, quartered and hulled

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 450.
Put the cut strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and let sit for 1 hour. Drain juices.
Add cornstarch.
Pour filling into 1 crust.
Cover with another crust, cut two slits with a knife.
Bake 25 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400, and bake for 30 more minutes, until filling is bubbling.
The end!