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    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Some Urban Vegan testers

Here’s some food porn from some recipe testers I did this weekend. They’re recipes from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

Pommes Anna
Pommes Anna.

Béchamel Sauce
Béchamel Sauce.

Béchamel Sauce over Pommes Anna
Béchamel Sauce over Pommes Anna.

I was curious what the two would be like together and did a combination. Omni-mom really liked the sauce. I wasn’t feeling it.

I used a cake pan I found in the cabinet and later found it that it was my Grandmother’s. That really tugged at my heart. Miss you, Grandma. You were so accomodating of my vegetarianism. Thank you.


Acorn Squash with Pecan-Cherry Stuffing

Acorn Squash with Pecan-Cherry Stuffing
Acorn Squash with Pecan-Cherry Stuffing. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

This dish wasn’t that hard — once you get the darn acorn squash cut in half — to make but is a lovely presentation. I can definitely see serving this with a Fall meal like Thanksgiving. Also, I wonder since you slice up little serving bowls like this, what it would be like to tweak the stuffing for each “bowl.” Hmmm….

Acorn Squash
Usually I slice my acorn squash length-wise like above, but Dynise’s recipe called for the half-wise so you get a scallop effect. It was easier to cut length-wise. :: grin ::

Parsnips St. Jacques

Parsnips St. Jacques
Parsnips St. Jacques. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

Delicious! Again, it filled the kitchen (and outside via the exhaust fan) with great aroma. Dynise does a wonderful job of combining flavors in a layering effect, I think. It’s also a good looking dish.

Dry white wine

There’s wine! And I don’t know wine, as I said before, so I relied on that shop owner of Wine for Cheese. This is the wine and I thought it was a lovely choice. I thought the wine was good for this dish but it was not unanimous. So be it.

John’s Marinara Sauce

John's Marinara Sauce
John’s Marinara Sauce. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

My favorite spaghetti sauce was Jo Mama’s World Famous Spaghetti Sauce. No longer! This vegan sauce was delicious, rich, aromatic, and hearty! I served this over some spaghetti noodles with a side salad with Dynise’s basil-flax dressing. She said we could put some nutritional yeast on top but I felt it needed nothing but an appetite.

We’re not supposed to give details but I think it should be alright to say there’s wine in it. That’s quite common. I’m not a drinker so wasn’t sure about what to get. I was also feeling adventurous so stopped at the new, locally run wine shop on the corner called “Wine for Cheese.” They were a pleasure to deal with! I said what I was doing — spaghetti — and he went through the different reds he had. He definitely had a passion and knowledge of wine! I later learned that my mother stopped by the same place a few days ago to get a wine from Georgia (Russia). The gift receiver was very impressed!

Red wine
Agur Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Sun-dried Pesto

Sun-dried Pesto
Sun-dried Pesto. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

I served this spreadable pesto on top of toasted thinly-sliced French bread. This was incredible! The layers of flavor were beautiful. This was supposed to be done with a food processor, but I’m still unsure about Grandma’s food processor so I tried the blender. It worked very well! Who needs a fancy-dancy food processor that takes up precious kitchen room!

Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

So, you know how this is my first time serving as a tester for a cookbook, right? Well, I recommend the experience to everyone. The only drawback is that I can’t give details. I wish I could say what went in this to show you how surprising it is! Mom, more a meatetarian than I was, was puzzled, which is fun. It was so rich and so delicious with no decadent cream or eggs! It was also my first time making a bread pudding. Dynise made it so easy!

I’m also experimenting around with food photography. I’ve gone from the clamp light to a clamp light with white tissue paper in front of it to diffuse the light. I was going to make a photo studio box but didn’t have the right shaped box. The tissue paper helped, I think. I snapped a few pictures of an acorn squash — that I bought for another test recipe — with clamp lamp with tissue, clamp lamp without tissue, macro setting on the camera (which popped the flash), and the usual no flash with Av setting.

Tri-color Quinoa

Tri-color Quinoa
Tri-color Quinoa, tester from Urban Vegan’s cookbook

I have discovered something. I am not a huge quinoa fan. It’s too mellow for me. Or maybe this was too mellow. This is the second recipe that has been fine but not a repeat. The texture is fine. It’s pretty enough. I want to add BAM! to it, y’know?

Did the same lighting as the previous tester recipe with a reflector clamp lamp.

Modular Pakistani Kima

Modular Pakistani Kima
Modular Pakistani Kima from Urban Vegan‘s cookbook.

Oh, how the house smells! This is my favorite so far. And I look forward to taking this to work tomorrow and making the whole floor envious! (Well, those that are still there and not off on vacation.) Silly me. I had this post scheduled and didn’t think about when it would hit. I did take this in on the 23rd. There weren’t nearly enough people to make jealous!

A bit about the photo…. I didn’t get this finished till very late which meant no good lighting in the house. I have a spot light from doing a still life of an apple and pulled that out. I tried directing the light on the dish and then away. Getting better. It’d be even better with some sort of diffuser. Which is more fun? Being a recipe tester for a great cookbook or taking pictures of all the dishes? Yeah, I don’t know either!

Walnut Sauce

Yep, another testing of a recipe from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook, Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes.

Walnut Sauce

I was supposed to use a food processor but don’t have one so borrowed Mom’s. Mom got it from Grandma when she passed. I was baffled though. Wouldn’t the oil of the bottom point-up thingy get on the food? After I decided against it, even after cleaning it a few times, I went with another method of making the sauce. Mom later said that I’d just have to clean the bottom thing more. But wouldn’t Grandma have done that? I don’t think she used it much, if ever. You had the right idea, Grandma. Ain’t nothing wrong with elbow grease!

Food Processor

Cornmeal Scrapple

It’s vegan, I promise! It’s another recipe test of Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook so it is! The name though. Ick. But I was curious since I was never brave(?) enough to try real scrapple and I am in Virginia. I see scrapple in the local supermarkets often.

Easy Cornmeal Scrapple

Oh, the smell was outstanding! The taste was good and flavorful. Easy? Easy-ish. Very fun to make, which may sound odd. Made a lot though and I’ll be experimenting with freezing the leftover loaf.

Also, with all this recipe testing is me trying to find some of the ingredients. I went all the way to a health food store to pick up something and checked out their vegan cheese and fake meat section. Kroger won, interestingly enough. I like that since Kroger is closer.