The Quest for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie


I’ve made quite a few batches of chocolate chip cookies in my day.  When I was little, Santa told me that chocolate chip was his favorite kind of cookie.  After that, I always had to make sure we made some for Christmas.  I keep trying for that kind of chewy, moist bakery or college dining hall chocolate chip cookie but with a more complex flavor that isn’t sickeningly sweet.   I want to use minimally processed ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour and maple syrup crystals.  I’ve tried many tricks, including ground oatmeal, freezing the dough, rolling the dough into balls and tearing it apart so it has that “rustic” look.  But I haven’t landed on a recipe that turns out consistently good.  Here’s my latest attempt.  It is based on a recipe that substitutes sour cream for eggs.  I also cut up an 85% cacao chocolate bar and then topped off the cup of chopped chocolate with cacao nibs.  Since it’s not the recipe I’m looking for, I’ll just say that I substituted hemp ricotta for eggs and left it at that.  I also had to increase the flour.

They turned out too cakey and dry for my taste.  In all my experimenting with vegan chocolate chip cookies, I’ve found that sometimes they just taste best raw.  So I made two trays and rolled the rest of the dough into teaspoon-sized balls and froze them.

Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups



I designed this recipe to use up some ingredients lurking in the fridge and pantry. It turned out looking pretty fancy. I thought it tasted pretty much the same as non-vegan lasagna, but my sweetie pie disagreed. I realized this was probably because I was used to non-fat ricotta cheese. Either way, it’s very tasty and looks impressive.  I’m also proud of the fact that there’s 3 different types of vegan cheese in this dish, all made from scratch.


5 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (cooked to al dente)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 small zucchinis, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
7.5 oz. hemp ricotta cheese
¼ onion, finely diced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 cups tomato sauce (separated) (make your own or from a jar/can)
1/3 cup diced hemp mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup Parmesan replacer



Cook the pasta and lay the slices out so they will not stick together.
Pan roast the zucchini over medium high heat with the olive oil until lightly browned on all sides. Shock in cold water to stop cooking.
Add zucchini to medium bowl with hemp ricotta, salt, onion, black pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour enough tomato sauce in small casserole dish to cover the bottom.
Spread about 3 tablespoons or so of the filling onto a noodle. Roll it up and place in a small casserole dish. Continue with the rest of the noodles and filling until dish is full. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pour remaining tomato sauce over the top. Cover and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with Parmesan replacer and return to oven uncovered for 15 more minutes until top is golden brown.
Let cool in pan slightly before serving.

Parmesan Replacer

Basics, Recipes


1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup hemp seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt (may omit or reduce to taste)



Place all ingredients in food processor.  Pulse until small particle consistency is reached.  Put in sprinkle jar if you have it, refrigerate and use as you would Parmesan cheese.

Hemp Mozzarella

Basics, New Recipes, Recipes

Close up of mozzarella on top of grilled pizza.

This cheese becomes quite creamy when it melts and will brown in the oven.  This version is adapted from the recipe found at Peaceful Plate.


2 cups hemp milk (or other milk of your choice)
2 tablespoons agar agar flakes (I think this could be reduced)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
6 oz hemp tofu (or use silken soy tofu)
a few drops maple syrup
1 drizzle olive oil


Coat a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish with oil.  Mix the hemp milk, agar, salt and nutritional yeast in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the mixture reaches a boil, cook at boiling for 10 minutes.  Stir often, to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  In the meantime, put the tofu in the blender with maple syrup and olive oil.  The mixture on the stove will be quite thick.  Pour that mixture into the blender and blend (carefully) until smooth.  Pour mixture from blender into casserole dish.  You can cut the hemp cheese into desired shapes as soon as it is set.  I found that with that amount of agar agar, it sets almost immediately.  You may wish to use less so it will spread out more.  I used the ring from a ball jar to cut out slices for pizza.  You can dice the scraps with a knife for applications that call for shredded mozzarella cheese.  Store unused portion in airtight container in fridge.


The cheese didn't even spread to the corners of the casserole dish. That's why I think it would be ok to reduce the agar agar.


Hemp Ricotta

Basics, Recipes


It might not look like much, but it is quite versatile.


2 cups hemp seeds (separated)
1/3 cup coconut oil
3 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt


Start by making 8 cups of creamy hemp milk (it has a fat boost for extra creaminess):

If you have a large-capacity, high-powered blender, add both cups of hemp seeds to the blender along with the coconut oil and water to bring the total volume to the 8 cup mark.  Blend until very smooth.  About 1 minute.

If you have a regular blender, add 1 cup hemp seeds to your blender.  Fill with water up to the 4 cup mark.  Blend until very smooth.  If you have a high-power blender, up to 5 minutes.  If your blender gets hot, let it rest before doing the next batch.

Pour the hemp milk into a large pot on medium heat on the stove.  Back at the blender, add another cup hemp seeds, 1/3 cup coconut oil, and fill with water to the 4 cup mark.  Blend until smooth, add contents to pot on stove.

Heat milk until it bubbles around the edges but has not reached a full boil.  Turn off heat and add vinegar and salt.  Stir gently for 2 minutes while curds form.  Let rest at room temperature (off the burner) for an hour and a half.  After it’s rested, line a large strainer with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.  If you have some use for slightly savory hemp milk, feel free to reserve.  Drain off whatever whey you can and let the curds sit in cheesecloth and strainer for an hour or so to finish draining.  The finished hemp ricotta will have a smooth consisitency.  This can be used in many applications (see below).  Store unused hemp ricotta in fridge.

Here’s a couple things with the hemp ricotta to get you started: chocolate chip cookies zucchini lasagna roll ups.

Review of The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen

Cookbook Reviews, Reviews

I recently checked out Carolyn Scott-Hamilton’s The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen: 150 Plant-Based Recipes From Around the World from the library.  I was surprised how short the waitlist for it was, given that it was published in 2012.  Right now, in the Hennepin County library system, where there are likely to be 10 or more copies of a popular vegan cookbook with a waitlist of 50 or more patrons, there are only 4 copies that are all checked out and a waitlist of 3.

The cover doesn’t look all that promising, but I have to admit, I have never seen a cookbook with recipes “from around the world” that impressed me—vegan or otherwise.  The whole endeavor of global cooking smacks of tourist privilege.  And here I mean “tourist” in the worst possible sense—one who doesn’t speak the language or make sincere attempts to understand the culture—they just want to swoop in, surround themselves with all the comforts of home and have an “exotic” experience that will impress their Facebook friends.  Harsh? Yes, and not necessarily fair.  But in the interest of full disclosure, this is my bias that The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen was up against.

The book has 150 vegan recipes and  I counted 53 full-page, full-color photos of featured recipes.  That many pictures (they’re the kind that make you want to drop everything and make the featured recipes, by the way) in a vegan cookbook is notable.  Another feature  that stood out right away was a helpful legend that makes it easy to tell if a dish is gluten free, soy free, low fat, low glycemic, kosher, and/or raw.

The introduction is two pages long and pretty functional.  I like that.  I have little use for a lengthy introduction that incorporates the author’s long-winded philosophy of the good life and detailed arguments about being vegan or a lengthy story of how the author became vegan.  Scott-Hamilton’s introduction provides a quick orientation to the book and lets me know how she approaches cooking and eating.  The first chapter is called “Stocking a Global Kitchen”.  I usually skip sections like these, but I noticed this section not only lists products you can buy at the store but also recipes for stock, spice mixes, condiments, and other elements.  I will very likely try the recipe that appears there for Worcestershire sauce alternative (so keep your eyes peeled for my notes on that recipe).  This chapter also includes shopping and kitchen tips—again, it is brief and functional.  I’m not in the habit of reading sections like this, but for the sake of this review, I read this one and was torn between responding, “I know, I know” and “Preach it, sister!”.  The tips seem concise and helpful; I think they’d be spot-on for beginners.

On to the main event—recipes!  There are 17 regions which each have a chapter: USA, Latin America, Caribbean Island Nations, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark, Italy, Germany, Greece, Russia, The Middle East, Africa, India, China, Thailand and Vietnam, and Japan.

My main question as I pick up a new global cookbook is, are the recipes authentic or are they Americanized?  While I love global cooking and food, my first-hand experience with authenticity is with USA, United Kingdom and China.  I opened the book up to the China section and landed on a recipe for Spicy Mapo Doufu (Zesty Tofu and Seitan Stew).  Because my sweetie pie and I have been working on a hemp tofu recipe lately and because we recently got some Sichuan peppercorns, Mapo Tofu has been on our list to try.  We may be adapting this recipe soon, so stay tuned.  First of all, I was heartened to see that the most important ingredient for mapo tofu was included: freshly ground Sichuan pepper.  I find it interesting that the author chooses the Mandarin Chinese pinyin romanization  for tofu (“doufu”) instead using the English word “tofu” but uses the English word “Szechuan” (which comes from the Wade-Giles romanization of “Sichuan”).  I digress; this is a blog about cooking, not about linguistics.  Scott-Hamilton says that cayenne pepper can be substituted if Sichuan pepper isn’t available.  It would be a completely different recipe in that case since, as you may recall from my entry for Sichuan Pepper Vegan Prawns, Sichuan peppercorns add a mouth sensation (something along the lines of numbing) as well as a flavor.  I’m being picky though.  I’m looking forward to trying this recipe and I think it will be delicious and authentic.

The book also contains recipes that I’ve been wanting to try for a while but haven’t found good vegan recipes yet or haven’t gotten around to working on veganizing them myself.  For example: tiramisu, matcha green tea ice cream, and gyros.  If this book were permanently on my shelf, I can see myself happily cooking through the recipes.

I don’t often get as excited about vegan cookbooks as I am about this one.  While I haven’t tried any recipes yet, they look very promising.  I tend to check out many books on vegan cooking from the library (I have 8 out at the moment), but I don’t own that many.  In fact, out of curiosity, I just checked and noted that I own only 1 vegan cookbook.  The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen: 150 Plant-Based Recipes From Around the World  is a book that, pending successful recipe testing, I hope to add to my permanent collection sometime soon.

Yi Er San Vinaigrette


This is a variation on my go-to recipe for a quick Asian-inspired dressing.  My favorite salad for this dressing is kale (massage it with salt for optimum texture).  You can make it extra festive by adding carrot ribbons and/or cucumber.  When kale’s in season, I’ll make a salad like this a couple times a week.  Is it summer yet?


3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Whisk all ingredients together. Toss with vegetables of choice.

Kale Pasta Hot Dish


We have an indoor garden and the thyme has been ready for harvest.  I tried veganizing a casserole recipe with bow tie pasta, chickpeas and kale.  It’s seasoned with lemon juice and thyme.  I used the savory hotdish sprinkle, which really set it off.  I would like to try adding something to it all to make it more moist, perhaps tomato sauce.  The end result was tasty, but I’d like to go for something more like a baked pasta dish.  I steamed the kale briefly over the pasta while it was cooking and when it went under the broiler, the parts exposed at the top got delightfully crispy.

Savory Hotdish Sprinkle

Basics, Recipes


This recipe makes enough to top one 9×13″ casserole pan.  You may also wish to make some to have on hand for other applications.


½ cup panko crumbs

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 T fresh thyme leaves, gently crushed

½ t smoked paprika

1 T toasted onion powder

1 T liquid aminos

3 T olive oil



Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Add olive oil and liquid aminos and mix well. Add to the top of any casserole and brown under broiler for crispy cheese-like topping.

Hemp Tofu


We’ve been experimenting with hemp tofu.  So far, we’ve gotten a lot that makes for great silken tofu replacer (which is great in smoothies) and we’re getting closer to something more firm, so stay tuned.  A great by-product is fresh hemp milk, but you have to be careful to strain that off before adding coagulant, otherwise you get really bitter hemp milk.  This is truly a kitchen adventure in progress.  The tofu press is a definite improvement over our previous setup.  I will post more about that later as well.

My sweety pie demonstrating the firmness of the latest batch of hemp tofu.