I’m leaning into my millennial tendencies today when I proclaim to the Internet that I love brunch. Perhaps it is partly a millennial thing, partly a “I -was-raised-in-NJ-diner-capital-of-the-universe” thing, but I truly love nothing more than a cup of black (gross) coffee coupled with a stack of fluffy pancakes or French toast. But here’s the thing I have long struggled with in plant-based cooking: vegan French toast is difficult! Every time I attempt to make it, it sticks to the pan and creates a bready, goopy mess. Earlier this spring, I published a recipe for vegan challah bread (which I also subsequently turned into challah cinnamon rolls) and no matter how many attempts I made, I could not turn it into successful French toast. But digging back into my Christmas morning memory banks, a recipe came to me: Vegan French Toast Casserole.
There has been a definite theme on the blog lately: I have not felt like cooking much. During a heat wave like the one I am currently experiencing here in one of the northernmost parts of the south, this is pretty normal. The sticky humidity saps everybody’s energy. At this very moment the dog’s tongue is practically on the floor and it feels as though there isn’t enough water on the planet to keep either of us hydrated. When the weather gets like this, I tend towards one-pot meals that require minimal effort. Because in tiny kitchen, turning on the stove for even a brief period of time heats up the entire house! This bell pepper and onion bruschetta is what I like to call a low and slow recipe: it comes together quickly and the heat on the stove does not get turned up too high. You get a quick, delicious, and filling meal without having to sacrifice all of the effort your HVAC is putting in!
For those of you that have been around the blog for a hot minute, you know that I have an interest in making my own pantry staples. But aside from challah bread, I have not ventured much into enriched loaves. Until now! I always thought you needed milk and butter to make light and fluffy sandwich rolls. I had tried making them with aquafaba (a la my challah recipe), without much success. But since making these fluffy, vegan sandwich rolls, I do not think I could ever go back to the store bought version.
So, during this quarantine my husband has developed a weird, fringe benefit at his workplace: almost limitless bananas…? I know, I know. It’s pretty weird, but when he goes to work, more often than not he comes home with a large bunch of bananas. Sometimes they are perfectly ripe, sometimes still green, and sometimes starting to go brown and spotty. If the bananas don’t get taken home, he says, they go in the trash, regardless of their state of ripeness. A total crime, right!? As a result, I have piles of bananas at my disposal: smoothies, banana chips, and chocolate covered frozen banana slices abound! But what about when those bananas go too brown? Well, peanut butter banana bread. Duh.
Where I live, vegan mayonnaise is expensive. Is this the case everywhere? I swear, any time I go into even the least expensive of grocery stores, I get vegan mayo sticker shock. Five dollars a jar? Six dollars a jar!? There has to be a better way.
This week, I had a little bit more energy to spare for kitchen adventures. I have been actively working on developing a more “normal” sleep schedule. You know, the kind that involves waking up early and doing this thing called work. Huh. Between the newfound hours in the day and a box of produce delivered right to my door, I had some wiggle room for a new kitchen adventure. That’s where these cauliflower tacos came into play.
I am going to sound like Oprah when I say this, but I LOVE lemon. I love lemon! I would have lemon Every. Single. Day. There is something about lemon zest that can bring freshness and life to most any dish, and as the weather begins to warm, I find myself craving it more and more. That said, this lemon asparagus pasta takes lemony to a whole other level. This is lemon times a thousand. This isn’t “lemon pasta” where you squeeze a tiny teaspoon of lemon juice over the asparagus and call it a day. Oh no. This recipe starts with a creamy roux and we build on it with lemon juice and zest for maximum lemon punch.
In today’s topsy-turvy world, I have begun to crave my favorite comfort foods. A couple of weeks ago, the craving was for chicken salad. And when I say crave, I obviously mean, “talk my husband’s ear off about how much I want chicken salad for days and days until he grumbles ‘SO MAKE IT’ in an exasperated tone.” Into the kitchen to figure out how to veganize chicken salad, I went! After a few attempts, I bring you my very traditional, New York deli style, no frills, vegan chicken salad. With tofu. Not chicken.
This week was Cinco De Mayo! And…a ridiculous amount of people were unsafely distanced outside of the Mexican restaurants in my neighborhood waiting to pickup orders for dinner. Packed onto the sidewalk like sardines in the name of tasty tacos and margaritas. Come on, people. I am all for supporting local businesses (especially during these times), but leave a little space, huh? If you, like me, want to skip the crowds, indulge your Cinco de Mayo cravings, and make use of your newfound sourdough starter all at the same them, then boy oh boy have I got the answer for you. Sourdough Flour Tortillas!
I had planned to wait and share a different recipe right after sharing my challah bread recipe with all of you, but I am WAY too excited to postpone these challah cinnamon rolls! They take the exact same base dough as the bread and are rolled into the perfect, pillowy soft cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth. Honestly, this cinnamon experiment was a total whim, but my love of sweets (and carbs) won out and here we are.