Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rice Pudding

For some reason I had a craving for rice pudding. It's probably because every day reveals another disaster from the conservative government here in Ontario and it's driving me to seek all the comfort foods. This pudding tastes great warm or cold, and if you are not a big fan of raisins just leave them out. The cashews work double duty by providing creaminess and helping the pudding thicken as it cooks. This makes a lot of pudding, so if you are not feeding a family with four very hungry kids like I am, make a half recipe in a smaller pot.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 8-10
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white jasmine rice, rinsed

- 3 cups non-dairy milk (I used soy), divided
- 1/3 cup cashews (soaked in water for a few hours if your blender isn't that strong)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp turmeric

- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 1 tsp vanilla extract


METHOD
1. Get the water boiling in a large pot. Add rice, bring to boiling, then reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 mins. The water should be all absorbed and the rice partially cooked (i.e. soft but still a but chewy).
2. While the rice is cooking, blend together 1 1/2 cups of the non-dairy milk with the cashews until very smooth. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk, the sugar, and turmeric. Blend until smooth.
3. When the rice is done, add the milk/cashew mixture to the pot and mix well. Bring to bubbling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook for  about 10 mins, stirring constantly, reducing the heat as needed to keep the pudding from spluttering. The mixture will become very thick, creamy, and consistent, and the rice will complete cooking though still maintain some bite. 
4. Add the raisins and cinnamon. Stir in the final 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk to return the mixture to a pudding consistency. You can stir more in later as the pudding cools, if needed. 
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine. Then stir in the vanilla. 
6. Cool to desired temperature and serve. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Crispy Treats

I'm pretty pleased with myself for perfecting this recipe. Turns out, it's a lot harder making the classic Rice Krispie treat than you'd think. Previous versions were too wet and thus sogged the cereal, or the sugar re-crystallized and the whole thing fell apart. But these! These have the perfect blend of crispness, sweetness, and chewiness that defines this childhood classic. These freeze and thaw very well should you need to make them ahead for a holiday party.  

INGREDIENTS
Marshmallow
- 3/4 cup salt-free chickpea aquafaba
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tbsp agar powder

Crispy Squares
- 1/3 cup margarine
- marshmallow from above
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 cups crisp rice cereal

METHOD
Make the Marshmallow:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it.
1. Place the aquafaba in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup. Pour into a mixing bowl (of a stand mixer if you have one) and let cool to room temperature. Place the bowl in the fridge to speed this up if you'd like.
2. When aquafaba is cooled, sprinkle in the xanthan gum. Whisk to stiff peaks with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Whisk in vanilla extract until incorporated.
3. Add sugar, water, corn syrup, and agar powder to a small sauce pan. Bring to bubbling over med/med lo heat, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to firm ball temperature: 245 to 250 F (use a candy thermometer). Be patient. The temperature will rise, then plateau, then rise again. Resist the urge to crank the temperature up.
4. Once the sugar mixture has reached firm ball, whisk it into the aquafaba by drizzling it down the side of the bowl with the mixer running (I like to use a hand mixer for this part for greater control). Once all of the sugar had been incorporated, keep whisking until the bottom of the bowl is no longer hot (I like the stand mixer for this part).
5. Transfer the marshmallow to the prepared baking sheet and spread to about 1/2" depth. Let fully cool.
6. Once fully cool, lightly grease the top of the marshmallow. Cut into 2x2 squares and transfer to a cooling rack. Let dry at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

Make the Treats:
Lightly grease an 8x14 pan
1. Melt the margarine in a large pot over lo/med lo heat. Once melted, add the marshmallow pieces. Once again, be patient. Stir with a wooden spoon until all melted and smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat, add in the cereal, and mix well.
2. Press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan with a silicon spatula. Allow to fully cool, then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Snowballs

This is a fairly familiar Christmas cookie--nuts, fat, and flour coated in icing sugar. Growing up we had something like them called Russian Tea Balls. I like this version because the almond flour makes for a more crisp and smooth cookie than the one of my childhood. These are flavoured to be reminiscent of eggnog, but you could leave the nutmeg out of you'd like. 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 48 cookies
- 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 cup margarine
- 1 tbsp rum
- 2 tsp rum extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

METHOD
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
1. Whisk together almond flour, corn flour, nutmeg, and icing sugar. 
2. Add margarine and mix into a smooth paste with a wooden spoon. Add rum and extracts and mix well.
3. Add flour and mix with the wooden spoon into a ball of dough. 
4. Roll 2 tsp of dough into balls and place 1" apart on the baking sheets (2 dozen per sheet if they are big enough).
5. Refrigerate the balls of dough while you preheat to the oven to 350 degrees with the racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.
6. Whisk remaining icing sugar and nutmeg in a medium bowl. 
7. Bake for 20 mins, rotting the pans and switching racks after 10 mins. Cookies should be dry and firm and very slightly browned.
8. Let cool for 5 mins, then toss in batches in the icing sugar mixture. Let fully cool on a wire rack. If you are going to freeze these for later, do it now. 
9. Toss again in the icing sugar before serving. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

I am emerging from a large research project just in time for the holiday season. So, the plan is to post as many holiday-themes recipes as I can in the next 3 weeks. It's going to be mainly baking, of course, but that's not a bad thing. First up are these snickerdoodles. They are basically a veganized Betty Crocker recipe with added nutmeg and rum for an eggnog-y taste. Remove both and you have a regular snickerdoodle. These are both crisp and chewy thanks to the magic of aquafaba, and are perfectly sized for a holiday cookie tray. 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 4 dozen
Cookie Dough
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup aquafaba
1 tbsp golden rum
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Topping
Mix together in a shallow bowl:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

METHOD
Heat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Cream sugar, margarine, and shortening in large bowl until fluffy (I use a heavy-duty whisk). Whisk in aquafaba, then the rum.
2. Sift in flours, nutmeg, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix into a dough with a wooden spoon.
3. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar topping to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet. 
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. The tops should be cracked and not too wet looking. Let cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Smoked Portobello Bacon


This is the best thing I have tasted in a while. Mushrooms are bursting with umami, and together with the saltiness of the brine and the smokiness of the smoking the overall effect is very bacony. We have been enjoying them on BLTs (which will be even more awesome when our own tomatoes ripen), veggie burgers, and in scrambled tofu. 


INGREDIENTS
- 6-8 large portobello mushroom caps
- 1 recipe brine
- 3 cups applewood chips

METHOD
1. Wash the mushrooms and thickly slice (about 1/2"). 
2. Place sliced mushrooms in a large freezer bag, pour in brine, and seal. Lay bag flat in an appropriately sized casserole dish (this way of the bag leaks you won't have a disaster on your hands).
3. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the bag over regularly to ensure all the pieces get evenly marinated. 

ON SMOKING DAY: you can smoke these in a smoker, if you have one, per its instructions. Or, you can turn your BBQ into a smoker per these instructions.
1. Soak the applewood chips (or smoking chips of your choice) in water for 30 mins. If you like, use foil to cover the holes in your BBQ lid where the rotisserie is supposed to go so that too much smoke does not escape.
2. Use a smoke box, or make a smoking packet out of aluminum foil--wrap the chips in foil and poke holes in it to allow the smoke to escape. Don't make the packet too big--you want some depth to your chips so they can smoulder and smoke away without burning up too fast.
3. Remove the grill from one side of the BBQ and place the packet on the heat plates over the burner. Turn the burner on high.
4. While the packet is heating, place the mushroom slices on the opposite grill and bun warming rack. I like to place mine on an old cooling rack and then place that on top of the grill. 

5. Once the packet begins to smoke, reduce the heat and close the lid. You want to keep the temperature between 250 and 300 for about 45 mins, but you also want the chips to keep smoking. Basically this means a higher heat at the beginning and then lower heat towards the end as the chips burn. If the chips stop smoking too early, just raise the heat to get them going again and then lower it. 
6. The bacon will be done in about 45 mins. The outside should be leathery but the pieces should not be dried out. Remove smaller pieces first if necessary. 

The bacon can be stored in the fridge and fried up (if you want) when needed. I like the thicker slices because they don't dry out on the grill and can be sliced thinner later if necessary.