Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Staying in for Brunch

The Topic: Sunday brunch, by guest blogger Brooke Still

The Dish: I hate to say it, but I am without a doubt someone who lives for the weekends. And one of my absolute favorite things to do on my favorite days of the week is go out for brunch. There's nothing quite like sitting at a table, whether it be at a crowded diner or at a sidewalk café, and feasting on delicious tofu scrambles or amazing French toast as a server endlessly fills my coffee cup. Heaven. But, living in the city, what once was a simple Sunday morning treat can easily become an entire weekend's budget. And so when my boyfriend visited this past week, it seemed like the responsible thing to do was to eat brunch at home.

At first, eating brunch at home broke my heart just a little bit. Some of our best memories take place in our college town at a little hole-in-the-wall diner, nursing our headaches from too much, um, studying the night before. But with Savvy Abby's biscuit recipe and Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch as my ammunition, I was determined to make our stay-in breakfasts just as amazing. Spoiler alert: They were. I won't give you a run-down of every single meal I prepared during my bf's stay, just the highlights. Of course, Savvy Abby's biscuits were amazing, especially mixed with chopped parsley and eaten with hot coffee right before we headed out to a San Francisco 49ers game. I also made some pumpkin mini-muffins from VegWeb that took about 30 seconds, and were absolutely delicious. But what rose to the top above any other brunch dish was Isa Chandra Moskowitz's A-MAZING East Coast Coffee Cake. This stuff literally melts in your mouth and I could not get enough. It really doesn't get any better than the buttery, crumbly, sweet coffee cake. We made ours with organic blueberries, though Isa has about 80 variations of the recipe. Isa was kind enough to share the East Coast Coffee Cake with us. Make it and you will not be sorry!

What You Need:
For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil, plus up to 2 tablespoons more if needed

For the cake:
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease an 8-inch round springform pan or 8-inch square pan (I used the square). In a small bowl, add milk for the cake and vinegar; set aside to curdle.
2. Make the topping: In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzle in canola oil by the tablespoonful. Use your fingers to swish around the mixture until crumbs form. Alternate swishing and adding canola oil until all the oil is used and large crumbs have formed.
3. To make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, mix together milk mixture, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth.
4. Pour the cake batter into prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle on the topping and pat it down just a bit. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing and serving.

The Final Word: I can't tell you the exact amount of money we saved not eating brunch at restaurants all week, but at meals between $20 and $25 for the two of us, it was easily more than $100. Plus, because I love to bake, I already had most of the ingredients on hand! But the best part of it all was the quality time we spent every morning, slowly sipping coffee and eating delicious, homemade vegan treats. It really doesn't get better than that!