Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Nefarious Breadstick Beast

The Toppled Chef was in her kitchen one day making Smitten Kitchen pumpernickel grissini. Smitten Kitchen, as you can see, shows a smooth dough, like a sheet of vellum, lying obediently on the counter to be sliced into perfect thin strips. 

The Toppled Chef was having no such luck with her chemistry experiment. The "craggy mass of dough" was more like a loose collection of caraway filaments, and, when finally squished into the shape of a ball and set to rise, did not yield a matzoh-shaped mat of floppy gluten when rolled. This is what happened.

A gerrymandered island of dough took shape, impossible to force back into geometric uniformity. Also, the flour used to keep it on the silicon mat and not clinging stickily to the rolling pin gave it a pallid, unappetizing look.

The results, however, probably tasted just as good as the original.

You may wonder how exhibit A turned into exhibit B. The Toppled Chef wonders this, too. What does it matter, though, when delectable, crunchy snacks are the result? However, has anyone successfully managed to roll dough into a perfect rectangle? The Toppled Chef has never accomplished this and welcomes all suggestions.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tempeh Hot Wings with Dipping Sauce

It was the Super Bowl. And I would ten times rather cook than watch sports. So I went full gender-stereotype, donned an apron, and created some addictively delicious snacks. These are based on the recipe here, with some tweaks. You don't have to be vegetarian, vegan, or a barnyard fowl to love these wings.

The sauce is more than enough for the wings. I made extra to accommodate cut radishes, celery, carrots, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. You won't be sorry if you have leftovers.

makes 16 wings



8-oz package of tempeh: don't go for anything fancy. We're talking full rectangle.
1 cup panko
1/2 cup Frank's RedHot buffalo wing sauce (you MUST use this sauce: don't choose another)
2 Tbsp melted Earth Balance
olive, canola, or grapeseed oil

Dipping Sauce

1 cup vegan mayo
3 Tbsp water
juice from half a lemon
hefty shake or two of garlic powder
hefty shake of dried dill
hefty shake of onion powder
hefty shake of paprika
some chipotle powder couldn't hurt
salt and pepper
shake or three of smoked paprika, or pimentón--this is the secret ingredient that will elevate your dip to greatness. Don't dare to dip without it!


You'll want to make your sauce first.

Dipping Sauce

Mix all the ingredients together. 

Taste, then add more seasonings and/or lemon juice as needed.

Cut up some vegetables.


Set a pot of water to boil.

Cut the tempeh in half along its side so that you have two flat rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 8 triangles.

Boil the tempeh for 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

In a bowl, mix the panko, buffalo wing sauce, and melted Earth Balance.

Dredge each tempeh wedge into the mixture. Actually, don't: your tempeh will crumble. Do what I did and awkwardly pat the mixture onto each side of the wedge. I'm too impatient to try to make anything look perfect, but if you were working more slowly, you'd probably be able to completely cover each wedge.

Heat a Tbsp or two of oil in a nonstick frying pan (two pans if you want to pamper each wing with personal space). When the oil is hot, put the wings in the pan. Keep the heat on medium-high to achieve a crispy exterior. Flip the wings after a few minutes: cook until browned on both sides.

You can drain the wings on paper towels, but you probably won't need to.

Serve with the sauce. Hot wing heaven!


  • I used flax tempeh. The flaxseeds added some extra chewiness and volume to the wings.
  • I was afraid of cooking with tempeh at first, having the notion that it tastes somehow bland and bitter at the same time. But it's fantastic here. Perhaps it's the boiling.
  • These wings will go QUICKLY. If you have a party greater than two, make a double or triple batch.


5 stars. You'll miss them once they're gone.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Breakfast Cookies

These cookies are a morning treat: plump, rich in color, redolent with oats, and filled with exciting nuggets of chocolate, ginger, and walnut. You'll enjoy them, but you won't experience a sugar crash and burn after eating. Think of them as craggy condensed muffins.

makes about two dozen cookies


2 sticks butter, softened (one cup)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 dash whiskey or rum
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
showering of ground flax
4 tsp baking powder
few hearty shakes of cinnamon
dash of ginger
dash of salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp milk or almond milk
whopping shake of dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced
whopping shake of walnut pieces


Preheat the oven to 350. Line a few baking pans with parchment paper.

Combine butter and sugars. Whisk until they form one silken ball, or mush together with your hands like I do.

Add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and whiskey or rum. Inhale--yum. Don't forget to give the chef a tipple.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, flax, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Gingerly (har!) mix dry and wet together.

In a separate dish, stir the baking soda into the milk. Add to the batter.

Toss in the chocolate chunks, ginger, and walnut pieces. Mix with your bare hands.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator for half an hour or so to firm up the batter.

Using a cookie scoop, an ice-cream scoop, or your hands, form ping-pong ball-sized rounds of batter and plop them on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone and liquidy in the centers, but they'll slide around the baking sheet intact when prodded with a spatula. My oven is built such that it take only about 6 minutes for the cookies to bake, but I think it's a freak oven.

If you overbake these, they'll still be soft and delectable because of the pumpkin content.


  • These would be great with raisins, cranberries, or dried cherries.
  • You don't really need three kinds of sugars. I used all three because I don't like just relying on white sugar, but any kind will do.
  • Oat flour instead of oats would give you a smooth texture with just as much fiber.
  • Perfect with a cup of black tea. I enjoyed some with Palais des Thés' Margaret Hope.


5 stars. Wholesome and decadent: Tipsy Crumpet heaven!