Monthly Archives: June 2012

After finding out that there’s such thing as a Vegan Caesar dressing, I’m convinced, there’s really no turning back. Thanks to Cheyenne at Spring Vegan and Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom, I can make zesty, creamy Caesar dressing any time.

One note about the recipe: it calls for Worcestershire Sauce, which is usually with anchovies. I adopted an easy vegan version of Worcestershire sauce from the site, Cooking with Rockstars. Stores like Whole Foods also carry vegan versions.

 

 

I used the tomatoes fresh from our backyard and I made my own croutons-which proved to be surprisingly simple. Thanks to The Vegan Chef, no more splurging on expensive supermarket croutons, homemade is the best.

Good thing I’ve found all these fabulous sites!

 

I’ll be making and bringing this salad dish to our upcoming potluck on July 8th.  If you’re in the Bay Area, please feel free join us. Just RSVP at astigvegan@gmail.com

See you then!

I find flan tricky to make as it is, let alone veganized. The traditional process requires the correct balance of egg yolks, milk, and sugar carefully steamed in an aluminum mold we Filipinos call “llanera”. It results in a soft custard cake packed with sweet, fatty creaminess, best indulged with caramelized sugar on top.

Transforming something with concentrated egg yolks to a vegan dish is one of the most challenging cooking experiences on my list. Yet, I’m determined to do it. My good friend, Aileen Suzara at Kitchen Kwento gave me good advice and suggested to incorporate agar-agar to the recipe. Agar-agar is a sea plant gelatin, commonly used in the Philippines as well as by vegans in other parts of the world. (Note: regular gelatin is not vegan).

 

 

As most cooking goes, it’s a trial and error process. This is where the fun part begins.

With some inspiration from these online recipes: Leche Flan, Pumpkin Pie, Vegan Flan, here’s what I came up with:

 

VEGAN LECHE FLAN

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 4-6 tbsp soymilk powder
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 4 tbsp cashew cream (see directions below)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 yellow agar-agar stick, soaked in water (or if it’s agar-agar powder or flakes, use about 3-4 tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch, dissolved in water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, for caramel topping
  • 1/4 cup water, for caramel topping

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil the water in a pot and add the brown sugar. Keep it boiling, and constantly mix until sauce is reduced to 1/2 inch. Turn off heat.
  2. Pour the caramelized sugar to the mold.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the coconut cream and agar agar in a pot. Mix constantly until agar agar is fully dissolved.
  4. Add the soymilk powder, organic sugar, and vanilla extract. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the corn starch mixture, constantly stir until the consistency thickens and reaches to boiling point. Turn off the heat.
  6. Pour the mixture to the mold, on top of the caramel.
  7. Put the mold inside a fridge for at least 2 hours. The mixture should solidify to a custard. Invert the mold to a serving plate and serve.

 

 

 

For the cashew cream:

  1. Soak 1/2 cup raw cashews in water for at least 2 hours.
  2. Rinse and grind them in a food processor with a little bit of salt and coconut milk. Set aside.

 

My first trial proved to be successful in the sense that it did solidify. It also tasted sweet and creamy just like how I remembered it. However, it might have solidified a bit too much. The texture was a little too thick when it should have been fork tender. The recipe above is already adjusted,I put down 1/2 instead of 3/4 agar agar stick. I also brought down the amount of corn starch and cashew cream. Still, I’m not sure if it will loosen to the right consistency. I guess there’s only one way to find out: on my next attempt.

If you’re giving this a try, or if you already have, please feel free to share any tips or feedback. I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your creation.

 

 

 

 

And oh by the way…

I’d like to thank Rika at Vegan Miam and Kristy at Keepin It Kind for awarding me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Both Rika and Kristy produce amazing blog content using their skills in cooking, photography, and writing. To get a special nod from them is an honor.

As part of receiving this award, I’m also passing it along and recommending my favorite bloggers. I believe I’m supposed to also share certain facts about me.

So here goes the personal trivia:

  • I gradually became vegan after taking a class in Nutrition in college. I learned what’s in our food and I became conscious of what I eat. Over time, I grew naturally repulsed by consuming meat and animal products. Since then, I’ve been making vegan Filipino food.
  • Aside from cooking, I also perform on stage and participate in community theatre.
  • My dream job is to own and operate an eatery someday.

 

Now on to the awardees:

Luminous Vegans
An Unrefined Vegan
A Life Unhurried
Spring Vegan
Hobby and More
Vegan Sparkles
Veganosaurus
Oh My Gulay
Vegan Ilokana

Kare-kare is a Filipino stew with ox tail, tripe, and vegetables in thick peanut sauce. It’s usually served during special occasions perhaps because the procedure is painstakingly delicate. With the help of my mom, we both re-invented Kare-Kare to a vegan dish full of soulful flavor and familiar taste.

Kare-kare is best served with shrimp paste or bagoong and steamed rice on the side. As alternative to bagoong, you could used fermented black bean sauce with garlic, which worked out well. 

As opposed to the traditional version, this vegan recipe doesn’t cost much to make. Also, Kare-kare is notorious for going bad right away. The vegan version, however, can stay outside the fridge without getting spoiled instantly.

To replace the beef tripe, I resorted to something innovative found at vegan Vietnamese restaurants: Chinese Snow fungus. After soaking it in water, the chewy fungus provides the same texture as tripe minus the cruelty. Not to mention incorporating Snow fungus provides tremendous health benefits. In fact it is used as an herb in Chinese medicine. Win-win all around.

Here’s what the package looks like:

Makes 6-8 servings


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 banana blossom, sliced
  • 2 pcs eggplant, sliced
  • 1 bundle pechay or Filipino bokchoy
  • 6 pcs of Chinese Snow Fungus, soaked in water
  • 1 cup toasted peanuts, powdered using a food processor
  • 1/2 cup toasted white rice, powdered using a food processor
  • 1 small bunch string beans, cut to 2 inch slices
  • 2-3 tbsp. achuete or annato powder, fully dissolved in a 1/2 cup water
  • 1 /2 cup  vegetable broth or 4 tbsp vegetable buillon broth powder
  • cooking oil
  • 3-6 tbsp fermented black bean garlic sauce (as condiment), available at most grocery stores
 

 
 
Notes:
  • On cutting the banana blossom, first peel the 3-5 outer layers. Smear your knife with lemon or lime juice then slice the bud in six portions. Quickly soak the banana bud in water with salt, otherwise its sap will turn black.
  • Toast the rice and peanuts on a pan over medium heat. Constantly stir for about 15 minutes or until rice and peanuts are fully light brown. Pulverize in a food processor. Set aside.
  • The annatto powder doesn’t dissolve instantly in water so soak for about 20 minutes before using (or you may whisk it to constantly dissolve).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, saute the garlic with oil until fragrant. Followed by onions.
  2. Add the eggplant, 8 cups of water, and vegetable broth and put to a boil to soften the eggplant.
  3. Once the eggplant is soft, add the banana blossom, string beans, and snow fungus.
  4. Add more water (about 4 more cups) then add the ground rice and peanuts. Mix and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Adjust the taste and consistency of the sauce by adding more vegetable broth or ground peanuts. The sauce should be thick but not too gooey. If it gets too thick, add more water until it loosens up.The taste should be savory but not overpowering. Simmer until boiling.
  6. Add the bok choy or pechay. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.
  7. Turn off the heat. Serve hot with black bean sauce and rice on the side.

I ran out of ice cream in the fridge and I found myself craving for something cold and sweet to beat the weather. “What else can I make?” I wondered. “Oh, but of course, Halo-halo!” (pronounced ha-loh ha-loh and NOT halo like angel halo). Growing up in Digman, where Halo-halo originated from, I terribly missed this drink. Not that it’s hard to re-create. Most Asian and Filipino stores carry the ingredients. So without much contemplating, I drove to the store and bought the ingredients as well as an ice shaver (only $8.99 for the shaver, Score!).

By the way “halo” is Tagalog for “mix”, which pretty much describes the drink: a mix of sweetened tropical fruits, milk, and ice. Halo-halo is similar to the Vietnamese jelly drinks except the Filipino version has more ingredients mixed with evaporated milk and topped with purple and yellow flan.  To veganize it, I incorporated the Vietnamese component of using coconut milk. Soymilk and Almond milk can also be used. For the purple flan, I used Will Peji’s recipe for “Ube Halaya“.

Instead of having to buy all the sweetened fruits separately which can be expensive, I found a Halo-halo mix that has all the needed fruits in one jar. The fruits were sweet coconut jelly, red beans, jackfruit, bananas, and white beans.

 
 
 
Makes 1-2 servings, Ready in 5 minutes!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5-6 tbsp. Halo-halo sweet fruit mix
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (or soymilk or almond milk)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shaved ice
  • 2-3 tbsp toasted rice flakes (or rice crisps)
  • 1 slice of Ube Halaya (optional) (see below for recipe)


 
 
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add about 3tbsp. sweet fruits in a glass.
  2. Add a little bit of shaved ice
  3. Add another 3 tbsp sweet fruits
  4. Add the rest of the shaved ice
  5. Carefully pour the milk all over the drink
  6. Add the rice flakes/crisps
  7. Top with Ube Yam
  8. Enjoy!


After carefully putting the ingredients in layers, now you can destroy by mixing them well! hehe The layering is for the eyes, the mixing is for the tummy.
 
 
 
And here’s Will Peji‘s recipe for Ube Halaya Yam:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb frozen grated Ube (Purple Yam) Thawed
  • 1 cup Turbinado Sugar/Brown Sugar
  • 1 can Coconut Milk (I used light one for this)
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter
  • 4-6 Servings

Directions

  1. Heat cooking pot then put in butter and let it melt
  2. Add coconut milk and let it boil
  3. Add Brown Sugar stir well
  4. Lower the heat then add the ube mix well
  5. Stir occasionally until the ube becomes thick about 15-20 mins.
  6. Put Ube in a mold or container and let it cool  I used soup bowl for this one
  7. Refrigerate to 2hrs and serve

 
 
OR You can also try Allyson’s delicious VEGAN UBE ICE CREAM to top your Halo-halo. Enjoy!!!

 

Aside from Hayward, another unexpected Bay Area city that has pockets of vegan goodness is Alameda. In here, you can find, “Central Vegetarian Cuisine“, an Asian restaurant that offers wide selection of vegan dishes.
 
 
For appetizer, we ordered Lotus Salad. I loved the crunch, the refreshing sweetness and the slight tang, not to mention the spicy kick in the end. This dish became my instant favorite.
 


 
For entree, we ordered Jalapeno Tofu with rice on the side. I had no idea it also came with vegetables, definitely a nice surprise. Another instant favorite.


 
We also got Tamarind “Beef”, which I found a little too tangy even with some rice. I should have known better, it’s called Tamarind for a reason (duh!). But the bland crunchy pita bread on the side gave good balance in taste and texture.


 
Aside from the delicious food, the server was prompt and friendly. She made sure we were having a good time. In fact,  after our meal, she served us a vegan chocolate mocha cake-on the house!


 
While Chris and I were enjoying our dessert, we couldn’t help but notice the Tagalog conversation next to us. We weren’t trying to eavesdrop. We were just in awe to find out there were other Filipinos in the restaurant (spotting a Filipino in a vegan restaurant is like spotting a shark that eats only vegetables-which also does exist!).

I mustered up some courage and went up to them. I politely introduced myself and Chris. Thankfully, they were just as glad to meet us. One of the two, Tuesday (yup that’s her name!), said she was visiting the US for only few weeks. She said if we ever visit back Manila, she got some vegan recommendations for us.
 
So far, Tuesday recommended:

 
She also tweeted:

 
And oh, no, she’s not a 3 year old girl like pictured, hehe. She looked more like she’s in her twenties. Anyway, I’m glad I had a wonderful meal and met new friends and vegan connections that day. Thanks Central Veg!

 

 

 

My nephew Christian turned 3 this weekend. Of course his auntie got him some yummy vegan goodies. He was so excited at the sight of his cake that he immediately poked it.

 

 

I got the vegan cake from the bakery, “The Sweet Art Of Cake” in Hayward.  Yes, Hayward! For those who may not know,  Bay Area vegans usually find vegan restaurants and bakeries in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, and definitely not in small towns like Hayward-until this weekend.

“The Sweet Art of Cake” is not all vegan but they do offer a wide variety of vegan baked goods. In fact, the baker admitted she removed some labels that says “vegan” because folks would turn them down right away. She would eventually disclose that they were vegan after the customers keep going back for more. There, myth busted!

 

 

Learning that this bakery exists in Hayward is music to my ears because the bakery is only 10 minutes away from home. My only regret was I wish I learned about this place sooner.

Chris and I then headed to another spot for the other goodies we ordered, Sesame Chickum and Sauteed green beans.

 

 

Christian’s birthday cake had colorful vegan fondant on the outside, and vegan Red Velvet inside, layered with vegan vanilla icing. Heaven I say.

The cake was good for 12-15 people, priced at only $35!

 

 

The party was not all vegan considering I’m the only one in the family who has the lifestyle. Nevertheless, they prepared something for me and Chris like Ginataan, and tons of fresh fruits. In return, they also enjoyed the vegan goodies I brought and made.

 

 

Christian and his big brother (Kuya) Charles, with their vegan red bean popsicles!!!

 

With the grandmas, grandpa:

 

The whole gang!

 

 

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I’d like to take this chance to invite you to an upcoming potluck AstigVegan is collaborating with KapaMEALya.  I’d love to see you there and hang out over good food and good vibes under the sun.

Please RSVP so we can have a headcount.

I’m looking forward, see you then!

 

As if the “foodie stars” aligned, three of my favorite blogs posted recipes highlighting chickpeas. What a perfect coincidence. I had always wanted to create something delicious out of chickpeas but nothing comes to mind. With the help of these talented ladies, here’s what I made:

 

 

 

Inspired by Farrah‘s hummus recipe.

Instead of using sweet potatoes, I stuck with the basics: chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika.

 

To take it a bit further, I made “Eggless-cellent salad” recipe by Luminousvegans:

This was so good. One lesson learned from making this salad: it matters what kind of tofu you use. Don’t skimp on good tofu, they are worth it! Now I realize, no wonder some people are repulsed by tofu, they haven’t tried the good stuff.

 

Last but not least, I also whipped up an entree based from Mighty Vegan‘s winning General Tso recipe:

The recipe calls for tahini as the batter but I used the hummus I made and it still resulted to something spectacular. Definitely worth giving a try.

 

 

Btw, chickpeas or garbanzo beans have TONS of protein. So next time you get asked “So where do you get your protein?” You could add chickpeas to your list of answers.

Thank you Fairy Healthy Life, Luminous Vegans, and Mighty Vegan for the amazing recipes. Please continue to inspire your subscribers!