As I've mentioned before, I've been doing a lot of cooking for a couple of friends lately. The wife of this pair was badly hurt in a horseback riding accident a few months ago, shortly after she was diagnosed as being gluten intolerant. Imagine being wired up and flat on your back with no cookies. The definition of unfair! Shortly after that her husband (a vegetarian) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Fortunately it was caught early, the thyroid was removed and now all he needs is one radioactive thyroid pill to complete treatment. But there's the rub. In order to take the pill he has to be on a non-iodine diet for 3 weeks.
Non-iodine means of course, eliminating any foods high in iodine. No fish, no beans, no soy. Meat is allowed, but did I mention this guy is a vegetarian? So no meat. What he's looking at is basically a vegan diet. Any salt must be non-iodized, kosher salt. Everything must be made from scratch. No processed or treated foods. To the average American what sounds like Mission Impossible is the way most of the people on this planet eat anyway. His wife can't cook for him because of the horse thing, so friends and neighbors have been pitching in. Since I cook nearly everyday anyway and I love a challenge, I threw my kadhai into the ring too.
I started my Indian cooking 21 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While having chemo, my doctor recommended I might like an ayurvedic type diet (I was a vegetarian at the time and doing macrobiotics too). I was very, very bored with the food I was eating. Indian food was like...wow!!! Learning to cook it myself was even better since I could guarantee that everything that went into what I was putting in my mouth would be as fresh and pure as it could get. Once I started learning and cooking Indian I never went back. So faced with my friends' dietary needs, I figured Indian food is practically made for a diet like theirs. Rice ( it turns out that basmati rice is actually grown in more low iodine soils so it's perfect for my friends' needs!) dals, lots of fresh vegetables. Gluten free and vegan, what's not to love?! I've been baking fresh artisanal bread for him. It must be baked from scratch to guarantee that the salt used in baking is kosher salt. I'm jonesing for one of these Sassafrass La Cloche Bakers
But they seem to be sold out everywhere. Meanwhile, while I wait on back order, I'm using my good old stone baker for the bread.
But man does not live on bread alone. Man and woman needs dessert!! My girlfriend can have ice cream and mousses and wonderful gluten free cookies. Her husband on the other hand was longing for a special treat just for him. Alan suggested I make him some vegan chocolate cake. Actually I suggested cake. Alan said cupcakes, because then he could get some too. So cupcakes it was. I've been making this chocolate cake for like 100 years. I got the recipe ages ago from the Cafe Beaujolis Cookbook. It's become a staple at our house and not because it's vegan or healthy or whatever but just because it' so damn good!!
Of course where there's cupcakes there's gotta be frosting, and there was where I ran into trouble. What the hell could I frost these things with??? I searched through vegan websites for (non) buttercream icing. I came up with soy! Oops, no soy allowed on this diet. Coconut milk perhaps? Coconut milk most definitely! I was lucky enough to stumble across a great recipe for Vanilla "buttercream" frosting - a simple modification on my part to suit my customers needs and I was all set.
So here it is from someone who does not do much sweet baking...frosting!!
Tonight, the part of butter will be played by : Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening read all about it here
Honestly , when I agreed to try this product out I had NO idea that it would be so necessary to what I'd be cooking! Since most vegan shortening contain soy products, they were all on the no no list! Trop Traditions once again you have saved my ass! It is amazing as a vegan substitute for butter.
Vegan Buttercream Frosting
Here's what to do:
In a large bowl mix:
1 cup of non dairy shortening
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of coconut milk
Coming up next, the shrimp that did not fail me.
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