Gothic Granola

Pasta Nests

My mom used to make these pasta nests for Christmas Eve dinner.  I made a tahini soup without garlic and onion earlier this summer, and its lemony flavour reminded me of pasta nests.  Seeing as how the original pasta nest recipe was glutinous, cheesy, and eggy, I took a stab at making it fit my nutritional and ethical specifications.  Since the lemon juice curdles the tofu, the cheezy sauce has an eggy texture.  I think my updated version tastes similar, if not better, than the original.

Fighting words, I know.

Tangy Pasta Nests with Vegetables
Serves 4-6

2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

8 ounces rice fettuccine

1 small clove garlic
3/4 cup non-dairy, unsweetened milk (coconut is a good option)
12.3 ounces firm silken tofu
juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper

Defrost and drain mixed frozen vegetables.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, in a blender, pulverize the garlic until it is chopped into tiny pieces.  Add the milk, tofu, lemon juice and zest, nutritional yeast, and tahini.  Blend until well combined and there are no chunks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9-by-9-inch glass baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt the margarine and whisk in the cornstarch, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Whisk in half the blended mixture.  While stirring, cook until mixture is thick and bubbly.  Stir in the remaining half of the mixture and vegetables and heat almost to boiling.  Remove from heat and pour half of this mixture into the baking dish.

Toss together the pasta and the other half of the tofu mixture.  With a long-tined fork, twirl the pasta into circular arrangements and place on the sauce.  Pour any remaining sauce on top.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes (or longer, if you want crispy ends).

For the nests in the picture, I did not cover the dish with foil when I baked it so it didn’t brown much on top.

Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.


Here is a brownie recipe I made and brought to work this week; it is a mash-up of several recipes since I couldn’t find one to make what I wanted: moist brownies, not fudge, not sheet cake.

The above picture is actually of zucchini brownies, but the base recipes are the same.

Brownies (Vegan, Gluten-Free) Why does everyone think brownies need a modifier?  These are on the cakey side but still quite moist.

1 1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
generous 1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
generous 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried fruit (chopped if large)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking pan.
Mix flaxseed and water and set aside.  Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk wet ingredients and flax mixture in a large measuring cup.  Add wet to dry.  Fold in chunks.  Transfer to pan and smooth out.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is set and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool in the pan.  Store in the refrigerator.

These are best eaten when completely cool because the chickpea flour in the Bob’s blend has a noticeable, sort of unpleasant taste when the brownies are warm.
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.

Baker on the Fly on a Friday Afternoon

After intern work on Friday, I metro’d to Trader Joe’s on the way to my brother’s apartment and bought dinner and dessert ingredients.  My parents are in the area, visiting my brother and me.  We ended up going out to dinner, which meant two OK salads for me and cider for dessert. At least I had time to make some sweet cornbread to sneak with me, for edible grains and solid dessert purposes.  

Since my brother didn’t have any non-dairy milk in stock (though he usually drinks almond milk), and I ignored that small voice in my head telling me to buy some at TJ’s, I omitted it in the batch of cornbread I baked yesterday.  What, a 32-ounce box of milk is bulky and I was tired.  I used raw blue agave nectar (hey, it was the same price as regular agave nectar and I don’t notice the difference since I don’t consume it straight up), unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, and canola oil.  The first picture below is from a two months ago, when I made cornbread with pumpkin, and the other picture shows my first pure-corn cornbread after gluten and I parted ways.

Modified from the Indian Head White Cornmeal bag basic recipe

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup fruit puree

2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional) or 1/4 cup agave nectar (add agave with wet, sugar with dry ingredients)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Optional flavourings: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, half a cup of chunks of some type

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil the pan of your choice.
In a small measuring cup, whisk water and flaxseed and let stand.  In a larger measuring cup, mix oil, milk, and fruit puree (and liquid sweetener and extracts, if using).

In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, sugar (if using solid sweetener), baking powder, salt, and spices, if using.  Add flax mixture to wet ingredients, stir, and add wet to dry.  Fold in any chunks carefully.  Add more fruit puree if it doesn’t stick together (the batter won’t be sticky, but it shouldn’t fall apart).  Transfer to pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it cracks near the edges, browns on the edges, passes the toothpick test, and is not wet in the centre.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes then move it to a rack.  Let cool completely before cutting.  It dries out when frozen, but it survives.  Due to its high moisture content, it may grow mould after a week in the refrigerator (I speak from experience). 

Out of soymilk?  Increase the fruit puree amount to 2/3-3/4 cup and consider using a liquid sweetener.  If using liquid sweetener and not using milk, increase fruit puree to 2/3-3/4 cup and use 1/3 cup liquid sweetener.

If using liquid sweetener and non-dairy milk, use 1/3 cup liquid sweetener and decrease the amount of non-dairy milk by 1/4 cup.

The type of oil, non-dairy milk, fruit puree (banana, pumpkin, applesauce), extracts, flavours, and add-ins are negotiable.  Bear in mind that as a gluten-free baked good, add-ins bigger than, say, a small raisin, tend to sink, so finely chopped chunks are best-suited for even distribution.

Pumpkin Cornbread
First all-corn cornbread, made with white cornmeal, cinnamon, and cayenne

Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.


Sugar-Coated Escapism, for your reading pleasure.

Well, I’m out of the dorm for the summer and am living near the big city!  For a person from the northwest corner of nowhere, this is a big deal.

As I ate breakfast this morning, I thought, wow, bread is scary.  It’s so big.  Muffins, cupcakes, hand pies, pies from a pie maker, popovers, mini-bagels, cupcakes, dumplings, wontons, all the way down to muffin tops (which, interestingly enough, can be as massive as whole muffins these days, according to commercial interpretation) and other bread-lettes are much less threatening.  Threatening to those of us who are threatened by size, that is.  

If size doesn’t scare you, then how do you feel about bread?  

Question: I’m sure there’s an etymological reason for it, and I took a course on Old English, so one might think I’d have a handle on at least some of this question.  OK, here goes: if muffins are small breads, and dumplings are small pockets of food wrapped in dough, what are the baked goods from which the names are derived?  

My answer: muffs and, well, dumps, since –ins and –lings are diminutive suffixes (suffices?  Would that be the correct Latin plural?) in American English.  Furthermore, are muffs and dumps loaves of breads and crusts, respectively?  Hey, a loaf of bread, a boule, resembles a fur muff and vice versa.  Additionally, one dumps the ingredients upon a work surface when making some crusts (and some dumpling doughs).

I offer a recipe since I have no answer yet.

Peanut butter Applesauce Bars

Note: The name is based on the ingredients I had on hand; I’m sure it would work well with any nut or seed butter and fruit or vegetable puree.

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup nut butter (I used chunky, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter)
3/4 cup nondairy milk (I used plain, sweetened soymilk)
2/3 cup fruit puree (I used unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 cup organic sugar (that’s dehydrated cane juice to you)

Dry ingredients:
2 cups brown rice flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon or other spices (feel free to add a teaspoon of vanilla or other extract)

1 cup dried fruit (I used craisins, chop it if it’s bigger than those)
1 cup nuts (if desired and if not using chunky nut butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan, preferably dark metal.  This size makes a short bar, but they bake quicker that way.  An 8-inch square pan is an option, but it will take longer to bake and I can’t vouch for the recipe baked with that option.

In a large measuring cup, use a fork or strong whisk to combine nut butter, milk, fruit puree, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and spices.  If using extracts, add them to the liquid ingredients.

Add wet to dry.  Fold in chunks.  Transfer to pan.  Bake for 30-33 minutes or until
            it begins to brown at the edges
            it passes the toothpick test
            it does not feel wet in the middle
            it begins to pull away from the sides
            it cracks the slightest bit by the edges.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully flip the pan over onto a rack, loosen the uncut bar mass, and cool completely on the rack before cutting.  Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.  These freeze well.  The ones in the photo were frozen.

Signing out to the tune of fireworks (I gotta turn on Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”  Hey, I looked at V for Vendetta in the comics shop today).
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.


My name is Q.
–Hi, Q.
I have a dorm,
–bad dorm!
lots of cats, and mad form,
and I work
–Where do you work?
in a manuscript library.

My name is Q, I’m a university student (religion major), and I like to write, read, bake, and play.  Stay tuned for further developments as I blog about my culinary and writing exploits, or just my exploits on the journey of life in general.

In my lifelong striving for balance, this blog represents another way to deal with the world. Walk with me as I try to find balance.

Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.