13 December 2009

this blog has moved

I just realized, perhaps I am losing my mind, I don't think I ever posted when I moved my blog. Well, I am sorry, dear friends, for my delay.

My blog is now at www.beautyandbread.com

I haven't made it look too pretty yet, but don't worry, I will someday, after I find time to update it!


11 July 2009

quick snacks to keep me going

raw guac & chips

raw corn & mango salsa

It's been a busy month and there hasn't been much time for making food. I think I've become a bit complacent; working at a vegan diner makes it easy to not make my own food. But, I feel so much better when I do make my own food, because it's just the way I want it. Lately I've just been making simple, easy meals, or quick snacks with little prep work. It gives me the satisfaction of preparing something, but without the time commitment of a full meal. I'm looking forward to having some more time in a few weeks (once I'm working a little less, and after I've moved) to make more food, but in the meantime, it's simple recipes like these that are keeping me happy.

Raw Tortilla-style Chips:
1/2 lb sweet potato, shredded
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1 jalapeño, seeded
3 tablespoons flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor until it forms a mostly smooth paste. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Spread on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for several hours at 115 F until you can separate the chips from the teflex. Score the chips into triangles and flip onto mesh dehydator sheets. Continue dehydrating for about 24 hours, until crispy.

I made some other sweet potato chips by simple slicing and dehydrating cross sections of a sweet potato. You can add a bit of raw oil and salt to eat slice, but they're delicious as they are. Bryan also made some raw guacamole to go with our chips. Most guac recipes are already raw, just remember to use fresh onion and garlic (it will taste better, too) and to make sure you get all the seeds out of your jalapeños and to really chop them small. I like my quac super chunky, with lots of lime and cilantro, but you can do it however you want.

Raw Mango and Corn Salsa:
1 mango, diced
corn kernels from about 1/2 ear
several cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon finely diced onion
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
a big handful of cilantro, stems removed and chopped
a big pinch of ground cumin
salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients, including any juices left over from cutting mango. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Bryan couldn't even wait for me to take a picture

15 June 2009

keeping cool with raw dessert

raw fig tart with candied walnuts and lavender ice cream

Before the first wave of heat rolls through North Texas, I've already began to anticipate summer:

• Sunburn
• Mosquito Bites
• Shorts (ugh...I just want to wear leggings and a big shirt every day)
• No more summer vacation (as Bryan pointed out, summer vacation in school just sets you up for loads of disappointment later on in life)

But summer also means a lot of other things, things that make me happy, like:

• Figs (my favorite fruit)
• Farmer's Markets
• Figs!
• Cookouts in backyards
• Figs!!
• Tomatoes (finally more than two varieties)
• Figs!!!

Did I mention figs? They really are my favorite fruit. In my pre-vegan days I loved eating them with a rich yogurt and honey, but now I've found another way to enjoy them (other than just eating them plain). The combination of the creaminess from the cashew cream and the ice cream along with the sweet crunch of candied walnuts and little bursts of lavender compliment the figs so well that I'll never miss yogurt or honey again.

A few notes about this recipe:
  • I had a bit of trouble with the tart shells. It could have been because I just winged it with the ingredients I had available, or maybe I dehydrated the shells too long or at too high a temperature, but they came out quite a bit cracked. Does anyone have any suggestions?
  • Although this recipe only makes 2 tart shells, it makes more than enough ice ceam and candied walnuts for more than two servings. And although this recipe has quite a few components, it's mostly advance prep work, so serving it isn't too difficult.
  • I'm writing the recipe as I made it, but I think the amount of agave in the ice cream could be reduced by 1 or 2 tablespoons and it would still be sufficiently sweet.

Raw Fig Tart with Candied Walnuts and Lavender Ice Cream:
serves 2

Candied Walnuts:
1/2 cup soaked, strained raw walnuts
1 Tablespoon raw agave

Combine the agave and the walnuts and dehydrate on teflex sheets at 115F for 24 hours.

Lavender Brazil Nut Ice Cream:
2 cups raw brazil nuts
3 cups water
1/2 cup raw agave
1 Tablespoon fresh lavender flowers or 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy lecithin*

Combine brazil nuts and water and blend on high until smooth. Strain this mixture through a nutmilk bag, keeping the liquid for the ice cream base and saving the pulp for the tart shell. Combine the strained liquid with the rest of the ingredients and blend again. Process through an ice cream machine according to directions.

Brazil Nut Tart Shell:
Pulp strained from ice cream mixture
2 1/2 Tablespoons raw agave
1 Tablespoon raw mesquite meal
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
large pinch of salt

Combine all of ingredients and press into 2 4-inch tart shells. Dehydrate at 115 F for about 12 hours.

Cashew Cream:
Make a thick cream with cashews and water. Add a pinch of salt and a bit of lemon zest.

2 black mission figs
1 Tablespoon agave
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cut figs into 8 slices each. Combine agave and lemon juice and lightly coat figs. Dehydrate figs for just 20-30 minutes, just to help warm them a bit.

Final Assembly:
Remove tart shells from dehydrator and spread a layer of cashew cream over the bottom. Arrange sliced figs neatly on top. Serve with lavender ice cream and top with candied walnuts.

*soy lecithin will help give your ice cream a better texure, but you can definitely omit it or substitute with guar gum, etc.

07 June 2009

another day, another blog

the new blog

As much as I enjoy using this space to write about clover & clutch, I've decided it's probably best to set up a separate place to do that. So, I've created a new blog for all my truffles, bonbons, and raw confections. Check it out to find out about everything happening in my chocolate world, and keep checking back here for more on non-chocolate food.

05 June 2009

chocolate is raw (or at least it can be)

raw caramel & sea salt truffles

raw cayenne & cinnamon truffles

raw sesame orange truffles

raw ginger bonbon

Finally, clover&clutch's online shop is back up, and now we're shipping with ice packs to protect the chocolates. But, it's even better than ever because now we've got a more complete line of raw chocolates!

That's right, raw chocolates. Each of these delicious confections is made using only raw ingredients such as raw cacao, raw agave, raw nuts and nut butters and fresh raw juices. Of course, the ingredients are never heated above 110 F to preserve all their nutritious benefits. And, oh, are they delicious! In fact, I think I prefer the raw ones to the regular ones. Check out the full line here.

18 May 2009

when allergies attack

my new/old tea set

The title sounds like the beginning of a commercial, but really this is is just a simple post celebrating the joy of tea, and good friends who help you out when you're feeling a bit under the weather.  I'm trying to get in the habit of writing more, and here is a start. Thank you, Bryan, for making me better (and for pretty lemon curls).

lemon curls in hibiscus tea

13 May 2009

spiral diner + clover&clutch = love

earl grey & lemon truffle

I'm taking a break from selling my truffles online as I'm starting to sell them out of Spiral Diner in Fort Worth. Once I get into the groove of making truffles regularly for Spiral (and figure out the best way to ship delicate chocolates in the Texas heat), hopefully my online shop will be back. Until then, clover&clutch will be rotating truffles with a few flavors available each week. So stop by Spiral and enjoy a little chocolate after your Bryan's Tacos or a Sweet Luv Us Wrap.

07 May 2009

revelations & caramelizations

chocolate turtles

A couple weeks ago I asked my boyfriend what flavor truffles I could make his mom for Mother's Day. He thought about it for a minute and then asked if, instead, I could make chocolate turtles, which are one of his mom's favorite treats. "Absolutely," I said, feigning confidence. Later that day I searched for turtle recipes, but all I could find were ones that involved using store-bought caramel candies. I wanted a recipe that used a homemade caramel, since I'd be making my own and I was looking for guidance on getting the right consistency (recently I sampled a homemade vegan turtle with caramel so chewy that I thought I was about to pull out a tooth; I decided giving Bryan's mom a missing tooth might not be the best present).

The thing is, I've experimented some with making caramel and various confections using sugar, and the results have been varied. Maybe my candy thermometer is off, or maybe it's just a bit trickier than I realized. It just seems like such a fine line between something that is too hard or too chewy or not enough . . .

So for the next two weeks I periodically looked online, became bored after looking at a few unhelpful sites, and gave up. Finally, on about my fifth attempt, I found Do Life Right's recipe for vegan chocolate turtles and David Lebovitz's site, which were helpful, although they weren't exactly what I was looking for in terms of specific guidance for my specific purposes. So, what did I do? Well, I played around until I got something I liked. And I really liked it. And so did Bryan's mom.

Unfortunately, I still don't have enough information to give a really solid recipe, with lots of guidance and specific times or temperatures. But, I'll give what I have, at least, and hopefully someday I'll have the perfect, fool-proof formula for homemade vegan turtles. In the meantime, if you find anything helpful, send it my way.

Chocolate Turtles:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 75 pecans, or more if you prefer
good quality chocolate with high cocoa content
cocoa butter, if desired*

Lightly toast the pecans (Put on a lined baking sheet in the oven at 350 F for 5-10 minutes). Arrange pecans in clusters of 3 (or 4 or however-many-you-want) on nonstick sheets (I use something similar to silpat but if you don't have something like that, your best bet is probably wax paper. Parchment paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray may also work, although I haven't tried it. Once your pecans are ready, begin making the caramel. Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go.

In a large, heavy pot melt the sugar over medium/low heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, stir gently to keep it from burning.

[Here's where things got a bit fuzzy]

I took it off the heat whenever I felt like it should be about right (a little earlier, just incase. Most of my disasters have been from overheated sugar, so I wanted to be on the safe side). I added the butter and soymilk and vanilla extract and drizzled the resulting syrup over a couple clusters of pecans. It spread out a lot and, after waiting about 15 minutes (and then another 15 minutes), I realized it wasn't going to thicken up enough.

So, I put the pot back on the stove and brought the liquid to a simmer again for a few minutes. I removed it from the heat and dipped the bottom of the pan in cool water. I let the caramel sauce cool a bit in the pan to thicken up before spreading it ontop of the pecan clusters. The caramel, even when completely cooled, was still very gooey (but not too liquidy). Maybe that's "soft ball stage"? For me it was the perfect consistency to fill a chocolate turtle. The only trouble was figuring out how to coat it in chocolate. I finally succeeded by chilling the caramel pecans in the fridge until they were firm enough to be dipped in the tempered chocolate.

You don't have to temper your chocolate that you use for dipping, but it makes such a difference. Not only is the presentation much nicer, but your turtles will also have that lovely snap, and they'll keep longer.

*Using a little bit of additional cocoa butter when you are using temepered chocolate for dipping helps give the coating more of a luster and is a million, billion times better than using parafin or any of the other weird things some cheap chocolates use instead. Cocoa butter is natural, it tastes much better, and you can easily find fair trade cocoa butter online (look on amazon or at Chocolate Alchemy, which is where I buy mine pounds at a time).

Finally, I'm about to reveal that mystery food from my last post. There were some good guesses, but the photograph is actually of a clove of black garlic.

And now I'm afraid I'll have to finish this post some other time. More to come on black garlic!

25 April 2009

pasta with fava beans, greens, and slow-roasted fennel

pasta with fava beans, greens, and slow-roasted fennel

I'm easily distracted and always excited by new projects, so it's no wonder that I can't keep focused with my posting. I know I'm supposed to be writing about a hundred other things I've made, but it seemed like it had been a while since I've posted about real food, so here is something to prove that I actually do make more than sweets (sometimes).

Although it requires some advance planning and a bit of time (time to roast the fennel, time to prepare the beans), this recipe is exactly the type of simple dish that comes together easily, appeals to all the senses, and makes me proud to claim my Italian heritage (only 25% but, still, I'll claim it!). If you haven't tried slow roasting fennel, then you, my friend, are missing out. The fennel can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge if you're trying to lighten your cooking load.

Pasta with Fava Beans, Greens and Slow Roasted Fennel:
1 cup dried fava beans
several large handfuls of assorted greens (I used kale and dandelion greens)
1 bulb of slow-roasted fennel (recipe below)
1 cup Lucia's Tomato Sauce (recipe coming soon), or any tomato sauce of your choice
a good wide pasta (I used a sprouted grain variety from Trader Joe's)
about 1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
several drizzles of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by preparing fava beans: soak them overnight and then blanch in boiling water for about a minute to remove the tough outer skins. Then boil for about 30 minutes or until tender. Strain and set aside.

peeled favas

Prepare pasta until cooked al dente.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in saute pan and add onions, cooking a minute until it begins to sweat. Sprinkle with salt and add garlic, cooking for another minute. Add greens and cook until wilted (I usually cover the pan with a lid to help). Add pasta sauce and toss with pasta, beans, and fennel.

Slow Roasted Fennel:
Set the oven to 200 F. Slice a bulb of fennel and arrange on the baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the fennel in the oven and roast for 2 hours. You can remove the fennel once it becomes soft and slightly more translucent, but I prefer my fennel browned a bit, as I think it has a more developed flavor. To brown it, you can just leave it in the oven for an extra 30 minutes or so, or turn up the temperature of the oven and watch carefully. Don't burn it!

slow-roasted fennel adds a beautiful aroma and texture

23 April 2009

Ginger and Rose Hand-Dipped Truffles

ginger & rose truffles

The recipe for my ginger and rose truffles is posted on the vegan etsy blog. Check it out here!

19 April 2009

my basic soup

basic kale and butternut squash soup

Most days I come home from work, tired and hungry, only to find "nothing" to eat. Even though I go shopping probably at least twice or three times as often as most Americans (and probably five times as often as most Americans my age), I always end up with random, mismatched ingredients that struggle to work together. Of course I deal with it: I'll spread a little marmite and tahini on some toasted bread from the freezer, I'll eat an entire bunch of bananas (and call it breakfast...or lunch...or dinner...), or I'll splash some soy sauce onto cold azuki beans and eat them straight from a jar. Oh, the joys of late-night noshing!

But, every once in a while, I get lucky and find that I already have on hand everything I need to make something delicious that feels like a proper meal, or at least a meal that was intentional.

That's what this recipe is--mostly basics that are easy to keep around, and the type of things that are probably already in your kitchen (or, at least they're usually in mine, so I'll make the assumption that you probably have most of them too). For example, olive oil, onions and garlic are kitchen staples, and since butternut squash can be left to sit on the counter forever without going bad, I usually try to have one on hand. And even though I try to soak and cook dried beans (since it's more economical), I usually have a couple cans of garbanzo and black beans in my pantry, just in case.

And that's about all there is to this recipe. Add a bit of saffron and lacinato kale and you've got a simple soup that is totally satisfying. (Lacinato kale is also called dinosaur kale--the name alone makes me want to eat it. I realize most people probably don't have this on hand all the time, but since it's my favorite green, I buy it at least twice a week and I consider it one of my basics. If you don't have lacinato kale, you can use another type of kale or another green such as chard or spinach.) This soup is really flexible, too. You can also a grain or pasta to this dish, or you can follow my example and soak up the broth with the delicious rye bread I happened to have made the day before.

Basic Kale and Butternut Squash Soup:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped
1 pinch saffron threads
1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas
about 7 cups vegetable broth
additional salt to taste (if needed, depending on brand of broth)

In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil and add the onions, cooking and stirring for a minute. Once the onions begin to sweat, add a pinch of salt and the garlic, cooking for a couple more minutes. Add the butternut squash and saute for about 8 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth to come to about half way up the squash and seal the pot with a lid. Cook over medium/low heat for about 25 minutes or until squash is almost tender, checking periodically to make sure there is stilll liquid in the pan. Add the rest of the broth, the chickpeas, and the saffron. Finally, add the kale and cover with a lid, cooking until kale has wilted. Before serving, remove the saffron threads (if you can find them); they can be dried and used a second time in another recipe. Pour into bowls and serve with a grain or a hearty bread like my Orange Walnut Rye Bread.

While the texture of this bread wasn't perfect, the flavor was delicious. I'm going to try to keep the base and experiment with different baking times, temperatures and techniques.

Orange Walnut Rye Bread:

200 grams dark rye flour
80 grams whole wheat flour
3/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon golden syrup (or sub agave)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoons salt

Begin by proofing yeast in 1/4 cup of the water plus the golden syrup. Meanwhile, mix together dry ingredients. Once yeast has foamed and is ready, add with remaining warm water, oil and molasses to the dry mixture. Knead for 8 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. Punch down dough and fold over itself. Shape dough into a loaf and all to rest for at least 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 F. Bake about 40 minutes, or until bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

happy endings

28 March 2009

new kid on the street

fig and port dark chocolate truffle

Announcing the newest addition to the clover and clutch family: Fig & Port. These smooth chocolate truffles begin with a sweet fig center that is rolled in a port-infused chocolate ganache, and finally hand-dipped in dark chocolate and garnished with a sliver of dried fig. Fifteen of these delicious truffles come packaged in a clover & clutch truffle box, making the perfect gift for someone special, or a treat for yourself. Of course, they're available to purchase here.

02 March 2009

crying over spilled macadamia milk

raw granola with macadamia milk

Several weeks ago I made the decision to be "RAW" for the month of March. Before I go any further, I must confess that lasted only about 12 days before I caved (for millet porridge, of all things). Unfortunately, I found myself eating so many nuts and avocados, and my stomach just wasn't having it (besides, when you're craving quinoa and beans it's really hard not to justify eating it). But I have no regrets, and I learned a few things: aside from gaining a deepened level of respect for raw foodists, I also tried a few raw recipes that are so delicious that I will definitely continue to incorporate into my diet. I recommend Cafe Gratitude's cookbook. I've looked at several RAW (un)cookbooks, but out of all of them, Cafe Gratitude's seems to provide a good amount of practical recipes (read: don't require tons of equipment or take 5 days of prep work) and still taste falvorful. The Tom Kha soup, for example, was fantastic. But, of course, it doesn't take a recipe book to enjoy the naturally good flavors of a fresh grapefruit or a mango with chile. And you don't need a recipe to make a delicious salad or fresh nut milk. In fact, the nut milks I made were so much better tasting than purchased nut milks (that often still have unrecognizable ingredients) that I think I'm going to blending my own from now on. I like knowing exactly what I'm putting into my body, so milk made only from macadamia milk is as comforting to my mind as it is delicious and nourishing. So, while I'm not going to start eating RAW all the time, I think those 12 days refocused me on the great flavors of really fresh food and the importance of nutritious food, two things I hope to always remember.

Oh, yeah, and that picture...
During those 12 days I was lucky enough to have access to my friend's dehydrator, which, on a break from pumping out "buckwheaties" and sweet potato chips, managed to crisp up some soaked nuts, seeds and grains to make a delicious raw granola.

raw goodness

Unfortunately there's no recipe as I didn't follow one or measure anything. But if you want to make some raw granola, it's as simple as soaking whatever seeds, nuts and grains you choose (I used buckwheat, oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and walnuts) adding flavors to your liking (I used cinnamon and added chopped apples and dates and a bit of raw agave), mixing it all up, and dehydrating it 24 hours or so, until crispy. Break it into chunks and serve it with homemade raw milk and fresh fruit for a delcious and satisfying breakfast.

tears were shed, but we're okay

23 February 2009

introducing...clover & clutch

isn't she pretty?

The past couple of months have been pretty busy, and my lack of blog activity directly reflects my lack of kitchen activity. It's kind of sad that I was so excited about my nice, new kitchen, and I've barely spent time in it at all making "real food" (you know, not sweets...).

But, I have been at least a little productive. In the past couple months, I decided to "just go for it," if you will (and you will), and try to sell my food. The plan was to make all sorts of baked goods, but I started making truffles and I got really into it, so I just kept going. I had tons and tons of ideas for flavors, so I made as many as I could and I made my friends and family eat them. In the process (aside from eating way too many truffles), I learned a lot; I learned about how to ship truffles, what coatings work the best, the best techniques (at least for me) to make truffles, and I learned a lot about working with chocolate. Hundreds of truffles later, I'm proud to introduce you to clover & clutch. I've still got a bit to learn, and I'm still working on more flavors, but here is what I have so far.


coffee & walnut



cardamom & pistachio

caraway & cocoa

They're all available at my etsy, which is, of course, http://cloverandclutch.etsy.com

In the future (probably a couple of months from now) I may be doing more flavor testing of truffles and other sweets. If you're interested in getting some goods, maybe we could work something out (like you just pay for shipping and I'll pay the rest in exchange for your feedback), leave me a comment or email me and cloverandclutch@gmail.com

25 January 2009

brown rice dolmades and yogurt-style sauce

brown rice dolmasi

With one of my best friends in Bulgaria and another on his way to Armenia, I've been thinking a lot about Eastern Europe (and the trip I plan to take there next year). It's no surprise that my thoughts inevitably lead to food; trying new cuisines is, after all, one of my favorite things about traveling. So when one of my coworkers Jeremy was having a potluck birthday party last week, I immediately thought of making dolmades (or "sarmi" as my friend in Bulgaria calls them), a great finger-food that seems perfect for parties.

I started with Tyler Florence's recipe, but decided to use brown rice instead of white, and I also added a handful of currants. Unfortunately, using brown rice made the dish take a lot longer to prepare, so the dolmades weren't ready in time for the party. But it was probably for the best because there was already so much delicious food there. (Have I mentioned how great it is to work with and live near so many vegans? Well, it's awesome!) Besides, the dolmades tasted better the next day anyway, and I don't think the birthday boy minded waiting. I served them chilled with a yogurt-style sauce (based on Vegan Dad's Tzatziki) on the side, but if it's your birthday you can put it all in a bowl and eat it with a spoon like Jeremy. By the way, even though I don't use tofu often and I try to avoid eating a lot of soy, I would eat that sauce with a spoon, too.

Yogurt-Style Sauce:
1 (14 oz) package soft tofu
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tabelspoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
pinch of paprika paprika
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and finely chopped

Combine the tofu with the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy, like a thick yogurt. If necessary, add a bit more oil or water to get everything moving, but not so much that the mixture becomes too thin. Scrape down the sides and blend again, if necessary. When everything is well combined, taste for salt and stir in herbs and the cucumber.