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Pastry Experiment #1, Chickpea Croquettes, and Zucchini Soup

June 2, 2010

So, I did make an attempt at little layered cakes.

On the down side, the one featured above was the prettiest one. On the up side, all were delicious! And, I think I know where I went wrong in putting these little guys together.

So, the bad news first. I made the mistake of layering these before cutting them into circles with my little circle-cutter. This was bad because a) the cakes would get stuck in the cutter, b) the sides of the cake ended up pretty messy-looking, c) the cutting would sometimes compress the cake, which made it look “gummy” on the outside (even though it was nice and fluffy on the inside), and d) in some cases, the mousse would be squished out of the cake by the pressure of the cutter.

The good news. Aside from that mistake, I think the rest of my process was pretty good. I first baked a little coconut-lime cake (which was basically a variation of the lime-coconut cupcake recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). I then, after letting it cool, cut it into five or six manageable slices, and then cut them in half horizontally (which is how I got the relatively thin cake layers).

I then made the raspberry mousse. I blended some soft tofu, and boiled some raspberry syrup, some water, some sugar, and some agar agar together for a few minutes, and then added that to the tofu, along with a little salt and lime juice. I then (mistakenly) layered the cakes-to-be, let them set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, and then cut them out using my little circular cutter. I think that next time I will cut out the rounds of cake first, then layer them with mousse (scraping off any excess mousse from the sides), and then let them set for a while. I may also slightly change how I made the mousse. This time, I thickened it using tofu and agar agar, but the agar agar made it fairly gelatinous. I think that, instead, it would be good to thicken it using tofu, some sort of oil that’s solid at room temperature, and powdered sugar (confusingly called sucre glace, *not* sucre en poudre, as I found out).

I do think that the lime-raspberry combination was awesome. So, even if these didn’t turn out to be the prettiest things in the world, and even if the mousse didn’t have the perfect texture, Graham and I were more than happy to eat these up.

I did a lot of cooking on the day I made these. The previous day, Graham and I went to Montemarte, where I made him climb the stairs up to Sacre Coeur, and then made him wander around the neighborhood, into Barbes, and then into the neighborhood a ways South of Montemarte–just for exploration’s sake. (We did end up in the Red Light District–something we were hoping to avoid, given the combination of creepiness, tourists, and pick-pockets–but it actually wasn’t too bad. It was pretty tame, and was mostly just filled with tourists. And, on the upside, we saw the Moulin Rouge. So there you go.) After all of that exploring, Graham was exhausted and wanted a day in. Hence all of this cooking. 

So, on the same day that I made these cakes, I also made some little chickpea croquettes and seared brussel sprouts.

The croquettes were inspired by the crab cake recipe in Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch cookbook, although I made them with chickpeas instead of steamed tempeh, and used fewer ingredients in general. So, these were essentially

-mashed chickpeas

-chopped red bell pepper (which is the same price as green bell pepper here!)

-chopped onion

-ground nori

-hot sauce

-mayo

-lemon juice

-salt

-black pepper

-brown mustard

I mixed all those things together, dipped them in bread crumbs, and baked them for about 15 minutes on each side at about 180 celcius. I topped them with a simple roumelade (mayo and hot sauce).

These were pretty good, although I like Moskowitz’s better. Steamed tempeh is amazing in things like this, and I think she also recommends adding red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and powdered ginger, along with some other herbs. So, maybe next time I’ll splurge on the tempeh.

Seared brussel sprouts are always good. We just bought frozen ones, sliced them in half, browned them in a pan with some oil, and sprinkled some salt on them. They need nothing else, I think.

After telling Caroline about my favorite zucchini soup, I decided to make it, only to find that the only fresh basil within a few blocks of my apartment comes from potted plants. I wasn’t quite ready to buy a basil plant, so I ended up getting some mint instead, to make mint zucchini soup.

I think I still prefer it with fresh basil, since the mint doesn’t seem to add as much. But this was still very good. It’s basically this recipe from Fat Free Vegan:

http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/09/creamy-zucchini-and-basil-soup.html

I topped it with some extra black pepper, some avocado slices, and a few leftover bits of chopped red bell pepper. It made for a great dinner, even without all the basil. If I were to try it with mint again, I would try using quite a bit more than I did (maybe 30 leaves, since I probably used 15). But until I have that much mint on hand, I’ll stick with the basil.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. patricia leach permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:42 am

    More fun reading for me! You made my day. It is 7:39 am here and I was greeted by your blog… Keep going with the pastries!!! I spent my first night in a hotel in the red light district, shades of Toulouse Lautrec! The hotel was recommended in a guide prepared by Harvard students called Let’s go Europe. Ok, yes! But don’t go to that hotel. Ever. Creepy! Still scares me when I think about it.

  2. June 2, 2010 11:52 am

    I will certainly keep going with the pastries! Graham has been a wonderful consultant, and we’ve come up with lots of ideas for improvement!

    I can imagine that that neighborhood gets much creepier once it gets dark–we were there in the middle of the day, when there were lots of families of tourists milling around, and it was hardly threatening. It’s hard to imagine why a guidebook would recommend a hotel around there, though–although it wasn’t scary (during the day), I would guess it wouldn’t be a good place to walk around at night, and even during the daytime it’s seedy. And tacky.

  3. Mary Bosch permalink
    June 2, 2010 2:17 pm

    I’m still thinking about the peanut-mint cabbage salad. I see shreds of carrot and maybe cucumber?? in with the cabbage. And what’s the white stuff on top?

    I’m enjoying all the food and noticing two things especially– your regular use of veggie “sides” and the loving attention to presentation. So healthy and beautiful! So unlike the land of brats and cheese curd! But I bet even you miss Wisconsin beer.

    Have a great day!

  4. June 2, 2010 2:54 pm

    That sounds right–I think that salad had both carrots and cucumber in it. I think the white stuff you see on top is actually peanut pieces!

    I do a lot of veggie sides–seared veggie sides, in particular!

    I *would* like some Wisconsin beer. The beer here, while not bad, isn’t very good either. We’ll see if you can get some Leinenkugel through customs!

  5. Mary Bosch permalink
    June 2, 2010 4:14 pm

    I’ve never tried to to anything with frozen brussel sprouts except cook them as directed on the package. Yours look beautiful! Did you defrost the petit fou (that’s from high school French — so I may be way off) before searing them?

  6. June 2, 2010 4:20 pm

    I defrosted them a little bit before searing them–just enough that it was possible to cut them in half.

    Is a brussel sprout a “petit chou” (I think “chou” is cabbage)? That would be pretty funny, since I’ve heard that “mon petit chou” is a term of endearment–whether it’s “my little cabbage” or “my brussel sprout,” it’s still a pretty strange phrase!

  7. Mary Bosch permalink
    June 2, 2010 7:02 pm

    Mon petit chou–

    You’re exactly right, my little cabbage! (Sorry for the masculine–I don’t if it’s used for endeared females as well.)

    Love,
    Mom

  8. Kiki permalink
    June 7, 2010 12:31 am

    I am super impressed by these layered cakes!!! They look too beautiful to eat! I have been super busy and out of touch, but I just caught up reading the blog and I (still) love it. I am going to email you very soon!!!

    Bisous, Kiki

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