Leftybaker's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

carmelized onion and potato mac n cheez! November 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — leftybaker @ 9:39 am
Tags: , ,

caramelized onion n potato mac n cheez hold the breadcrumb topping

A few months ago my friends n I decided to have a vegan mac and cheez cookoff. This is the recipe I ended up using for the occasion. We weren’t really being too competitive but our friends daughter picked the winners and mine was one of the winners along with some AMAZING caramelized onion smokey whiskey mac someone made.

If you can find/afford it, drizzle some white truffle oil on each serving before you eat it. The mac n cheez is pretty good on it’s own but the white truffle oil kicks it up a notch and brings a nice earthiness to the dish.

This might also be good with something smokey like pieces of tempeh bacon or seitan italian sausage. If I had thought about it beforehand I would have made some greens like kale or collards to go along with it. 2-4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast would also probably be a good addition.

You can skip the baking part of this recipe if you’re too hungry to wait. I think the baking is only really needed if you want a crispy breadcrumb topping…in the pics I skipped the breadcrumb topping but still baked it…which I now realize isn’t really needed. Oh and you’ll need a blender or a stick blender for this recipe. A food processor might work but I’m not sure. If you don’t have a blender, go buy one. Or “borrow” one from a family member. Or make this at your friends house with a blender.

*Some words of caution* Just so you know, this isn’t going to taste exactly like regular mac and cheese because it’s obviously not full of cheese, butter, and milk. But it is pretty damn tasty. If you’re not vegan or haven’t had vegan mac n cheez before think of it as pasta in a creamy sauce and you’ll probably like it. But if you’re expecting mac and cheese you won’t. If you come up with any changes that make it better please let me know 🙂

adapted from vegnews


Caramelized Onion and Potato White Truffle Mac n Cheez

1 lb small pasta; like macaroni, shells, or mezze penne (mini penne)

1 1/2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (reserve the other half for topping)

1 small carrot, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped (reserve other half for topping)

1 c water

1/3 c raw cashews

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)

heaping 1/4 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/2 TBL lemon juice

1/2 TBL mild miso (white/yellow/shiro miso)*

1/4c (4 TBL or 1/2 a stick) of earth balance*

leftover half of onion and potato


white truffle oil, if you can find it and it ain’t too expensive (I got mine at TJ Maxx)


optional breadcrumb topping

1/2c panko (or other) breadcrumbs mixed with 3 TBL melted earth balance

*if you want this recipe to be soy free use chickpea miso and soy free earth balance


1. Start a big pot of water on the stove for the pasta, add some salt to the water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if you’re gonna bake your mac n cheez.

2. Chop the potato, carrot, and onion while you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil (might as well do the garlic while you’re at it)

3. Put the chopped veggies (except the garlic) in a small pot and add that 1 c of water. Bring it to a boil then cover and lower the heat. Let it simmer 10-15 minutes until the veggies are very soft.

4. Throw the cashews (I usually break them up as I put them in the blender), salt, garlic, dijon, turmeric, lemon juice, miso, pepper, cayenne, and earth balance in the blender. I hope you’ve been stirring the pasta occasionally. Once the pasta is ready drain it and rinse with cool water and set aside.

5. Once the veggies are soft carefully pour them (along with the cooking water) into the blender. Let it sit in the blender with the cashews and spices for 5 minutes to soften the cashews a little. After 5 minutes blend, stopping occasionally to lift the lid and let steam escape, until completely smooth. (Don’t forget to burp the hot blender [lift the lid] or you may have a hot exploding mess on your hands/face/kitchen). Taste sauce to see if it’s salty/tangy/cheezy enough for you. If it’s not try adding more miso, salt, or lemon juice. If you want it more spicy you can add some cayenne, or jalapeno or something.

6. In the small pot you were using to cook the veggies heat up a tablespoon or two of oil and add the reserved onion and potato, chopped small, along with a little salt) and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally til lightly browned.

7. If you’re not baking this, mix the sauce and noodles together in the pasta pot or large bowl and eat. If you are baking this get out the 9×13″ pan I hope you have. Or some oven safe dish you think will fit all the pasta. Pour the pasta into the pan and add the cheez sauce. Mix with a large spoon until all noodles are evenly covered in sauce. Top with carmelized onion and potato mixture, and breadcrumbs if using. Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes. If using breadcrumbs take off foil after 15 minutes and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot, preferably drizzled with white truffle oil.


If you would like to reheat this I’d recommend microwaving it with a little bit of milk or earth balance to help remoisten it.

up next: mole chili adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance and a veganized version of Alton Brown’s skillet cornbread. Or maybe something sweet.


Vegan Tamales March 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leftybaker @ 7:39 am
Around new years my friend Rudy and I made vegan tamales. Neither of us had ever made them from scratch before, so we weren’t really sure if we were doing things right. We used a recipe from a book I borrowed from a library, called Tamales 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Traditional Tamales by Alice Guadalupe Tapp. It is a pretty good book and has pictures of many different wrapping styles (helpful if making more than one type of tamal at a time, so you can tell them apart once they’re cooked). She also explains each step clearly. We used her vegan masa dough recipe, but changed it a little. We added a little extra shiitake mushroom powder and used about half the veggie broth she called for. We also used better than chicken bullion instead of veggie broth. They were DELICIOUS! Rudy’s fam usually doesn’t eat the food he makes (even though he’s an awesome cook!) but they tried the tamales after we made them and liked them. Huge compliment. I don’t know how huge the tamales she’s making are but we made a lot more than the book says it’ll make.

We made soyrizo potato (saute some potato, onion, soyrizo and soy sauce til the potatoes are cooked), spinach mushroom (from the book), and mixed veggie (bunch of veggies sautéed together) The soyrizo potato were the best!! It would fool even the staunchest carnivore. Spinach mushroom were okay, and the mixed veggie were def missing something.

We split the leftover masa after making 30 something tamales and I made black bean cilantro tamales the next day (black beans, onion, fresh corn, red bell pepper, pastilla pepper, cilantro, cumin, etc) it was really good beforehand but lost some of it’s flavor after being steamed. Make your fillings extra flavorful because flavors tend to get a little muted in the cooking process.

If you decide to make your own vegan tamales I would recommend using fresh (unprepared) masa, rather than the masa harina flour you can buy at the store. Masa is stone ground lime treated corn (lime treatment makes it more digestible) used to make tortillas, tamales, and papusas. We mixed masa fina (fine ground) with masa quabrado (coarse ground), used half veggie shortening and half vegan marg (both by earth balance), and cut the liquid in half. If you use masa harina, which is a dry flour, I have no idea how much liquid you’ll need to add. A big plus for using the fresh masa is that you can do a ‘float test’ to see if the masa has been mixed enough and is the proper consistency, drop a small spoonful of masa (1/2 teaspoon) into a cup of cold water and if it floats the masa is ready to be made into tamales. The dough will be rather wet when it’s ready, if you want a firmer dough (less messy) you can chill the masa in the fridge and it will be a lot easier to work with. If you have any friends who’ve made tamales before you should probably get them to help, making tamales is pretty time consuming will be overwhelming if you try to do it all (make the fillings, make the masa, make/wrap the tamales, steam the tamales) by yourself.


vegan cupcakes (take over the world) March 23, 2010

vegan funfetti cupcakes from VCTOTW!

So many wonderful things I can say about Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s books, but I’ll start with this one since it’s the one I have the most pictures for. I’m sure there are a million blogs posts on this super popular book but I thought I’d give it a shot. Here’s a link to the book if you’d like to buy it http://vegancupcakes.wordpress.com/

Part One of the book is really helpful for people new to baking or new to vegan baking. They give a breakdown of ingredients, how to use them, supplies you’ll need, and troubleshooting tips in case your cupcakes turn out more like hockey pucks than fluffy deliciousness. I used the ingredient list alot when I was learning how to use wierd stuff like agar agar (made from seaweed, it’s a veggie substitute for gelatin in many cases) and arrowroot powder (a starch similar to cornstarch/tapioca starch, used to thicken things/add texture to cookies), which I had never heard of.

With Part Two the recipes commence, subdivided into ‘Basic Cupcakes’, ‘Classic Cupcakes’, ‘Fancy Cupcakes’, and ‘Frostin’s and Fillin’s’.

I’ve made the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from the ‘Basic’ category, which are EXCELLENT for making funfetti cupcakes [a huge hit at fundraisers and my friends birthday] (add 2 TBL sprinkles [check ingredients] to cupcake batter just before filling the cupcake liners, unless you don’t care if your ‘vanilla’ cupcakes turn strange colors). I’ve also used the vanilla cupcakes to make the Tiramisu Cupcakes in the ‘Fancy’ category. The Tiramisu cupcakes are some of the most delicious cupcakes in existence. They taste exactly like tiramisu, I was surprised by how good they taste! I made them for the first time for my friend Daisy’s birthday, and most recently for my other friends wedding. I also tried using it for vegan pastel de tres leches (tres leches cake, usually a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three different milks) I’m not sure if it was because I waited too long to pour the milks over or if the cake was too dense but the cake didn’t absorb the milks as much as it does when I make the non-vegan version, sad times. The cake still tasted pretty good though, and my family liked it even though I wasn’t too happy with it. I’ll try again, because tres leches is delicious and I want it to be vegan. [post coming soon, with the recipe]

vegan funfetti mini bundt cake and my famous chocolate cake (v)

From the ‘Classic Cupcakes’ section I’ve made the Carrot Cake Cupcakes (which I also made for my friends wedding) They rose a little less than some of the other cupcakes I’ve made but they made up for it with great flavor and they weren’t dry at all. I left out the ginger and raisins, cut back on the cinnamon, and added some orange zest. Frosted with the cream cheese frosting from VCTOTW I definitely didn’t get any complaints 🙂 

I also made the Brooklyn vs. Bostom Cream Pie Cakes which were very tasty. Just not sure if they were worth the 3 separate hours of chill time (not including cooling and assembly) You can make the cupcakes while the agar mixture is cooling, but it still takes a loooong time for those lil gems to be edible. I’m going to work on a shortcut version, I’m really not sure if the agar step is needed because in the end it just seemed like any other vanilla pudding (to me at least). If you have a good vegan vanilla pudding recipe let me know, I think it’ll be easy enough to make one up tho. If you do make them they taste even better after being chilled in the fridge for a day.

From the ‘Fancy Cupcakes’ section I’ve made the Tiramisu cupcakes (mentioned earlier), they’re basically vanilla cupcakes with a cone cut out sprinkled/soaked with kahlua/espresso filled with cream cheeze frosting and topped with a cocoa powder-cinnamon mixture. really fucking delicious.

chocolate stout cupcake batter

Most recently I made the Chocolate Stout cupcakes, for St. Patrick’s Day of course ;). They were moist and really good. Rich and dark chocolatey, with just a hint of the malty beer as an aftertaste. The beer flavor was very slight, but the cupcakes were really good. I would suggest cutting back on the oil for the topping, like the recipe says you might need to. I didn’t feel like adding the oil in slowly so I added it all in but it was too much and ended up really dense. I only ended up using half the topping.

chocolate stout cup cakes before being baked

chocolate stout cupcake all done

 One pet peeve: The pictures in the book are wonderful but I wish there would’ve been a picture for every recipe (something I look for in cookbooks), it especially bugged me because alot of the pages had pictures of random stuff like sprinkles…instead of pictures of cupcakes 😦

Overall this is an awesome book! Many inventive cupcake flavors, and they’re just as good as non-vegan cupcakes (seriously! if you have family members/friends that are skeptical of vegan things make some of the cupcakes from this book, they’ll be pleasantly surprised) I don’t even tell my dad when I made vegan stuff, he can’t tell the difference anyway so there’s really no point.

Now I just need to figure out how to add pictures to this thing 🙂


numero uno February 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leftybaker @ 5:17 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Very first blog entry.

I hope this blog will be a cooking (more specifically baking) blog where I can share my adventures with food (and life) with other people. I am going to be focusing on mostly vegan/vegetarian recipes, and I’m gonna try veganizing some persian food (I’m half Iranian). Vegan baking is definately a challenge, but not impossible. You CAN make yummy things, even if they’re not full of dairy, eggs, and animal products (although your grandma may disagree). I plan on:

  1. Posting my own recipes
  2. Posting up amazing recipes I’ve found, plus my adaptions
  3. Baking/bread making/candy making tips
  4. My attempting at veganizing recipes (1st up, tres leches!) If you have a recipe you’d like me to try veganizing let me know 🙂
  5. Some Persian recipes (I’m half Iranian)
  6. Writing book reviews (I worked the last couple years at the most progressive bookstore in San Diego, Groundwork Books; so I have access to many lovely books whenever I want 😉 if you’re interested check out groundworkbookscollective.org, it’s a collectively run bookstore/community space in a shitty area for progressive thinking [La Jolla] but if you’re down stop by, we’re also in the Slingshot Organizer)
  7. Rambling on about life