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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chef Lauren

This weekend, I got a chance to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time: cook a big vegan meal for my family.

I've been immensely enjoying cooking--something I was never very good at--since becoming a vegan. I have two wonderful cookbooks by Robin Robertson, and love picking out new recipes to cook each week for my husband and me. On Sunday, I decided to prepare dinner for my parents, grandmother (whose birthday we were celebrating), brother and husband.

I was excited, but also a little nervous. Certain family members who will remain unnamed have expressed skepticism about my vegan diet, so I felt some pressure to impress.

For the main course, I decide to cook something I'd made a week earlier with success. It's called seitan en croute, a mushroom-based stuffing with wine and slices of seitan inside a puff pastry. Delicious, except I wasn't a fan of the seitan (wheat gluten), and was pretty sure my meat-eating family wouldn't be either. So I decided to leave out the seitan and add some chopped walnuts to the stuffing.

I also made some simple roasted asparagus, and small red potatoes with caramelized shallots on the side.

I left myself most of the day to prepare this meal, so I wouldn't be rushed and mess it up. It miraculously all came together at the right time, and I think it was a big hit! My dad, a talented cook himself, called it "gourmet." Even my not-so-adventurous-eating little brother tasted a bite of the (non) seitan en croute and proclaimed it pretty good.

Since it was a birthday celebration, I also decided to try baking a chocolate cake. I've had mixed results in the past with vegan baking, so I also purchased my family's traditional Carvel ice cream cake beforehand in case the vegan cake didn't turn out well.

The cake recipe was completely bizarre. First, you made a mixture of flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, oil and soy milk, which was like a very dense brownie mixture. It was a struggle to spread it across the pan. Then, you made a second mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and hot water, which you poured over the first batter. As it baked in the oven, the two layers combined into something of a normal cake. Fascinating. As for the taste... it was okay. I think my mom put it best when she said, "It's like Passover cake. You know, good for Passover cake."

I was so happy to have the chance to share my new love of vegan cooking with my family. I'm excited to host future vegan gatherings!

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Blogger zoe p. said...

A lovely vegan chocolate cake:

April 13, 2010 6:45 PM 
Anonymous Kathleen said...

Zoe P. is correct - this vegan chocolate cake recipe is BETTER than any regular chocolate cake recipe I've ever used. There's no point in making any other once you've tried this one. I do, however, use a buttercream frosting on mine made with vegan margarine instead of powdered sugar.

April 14, 2010 10:53 PM 
Blogger Lauren said...

Thanks for the recipe! I'll definitely have to try it soon.

April 15, 2010 9:07 AM 

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