Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Brief Hiatus

Hey, kids. Vegan Dad here. Just a wee note to tell you that I will be taking a brief hiatus from the blog for the next month. My professional life is extremely busy with three projects on the go right now that need my attention, combined with a full teaching load. I need a few weeks (four, actually) to get everything in order. I will still post links and pics and the like on the Facebook page to keep in contact with you all, but don't expect any new recipes for a while. When I get back I will start gearing up for the holiday season and the New Year with baked goods and savoury dishes aplenty. So, for now, enjoy this pic I snapped at the cottage and I will see you again soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

In order to pump myself up for veganizing this week's Top Chef: Just Desserts winning dish, I am posting this veganized version of Peter Reinhart's babka recipe. The dish is a real crowd pleaser (at least at the party I went to) and the fancy presentation will make everyone think you are some kind of baking superstar.

- 2 tbsp instant yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm plain soy milk
- 6 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 oz soy yogurt
- 15 oz all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk yeast into soy milk and set aside to get foamy.
2. Cream margarine and sugar together in a large bowl, then add vanilla and soy yogurt. Beat vigorously with a whisk for a few minutes until fluffy and able to form peaks.
3. Add flour, salt, and yeast mixture and work into a soft dough. Add flour or soy milk as needed and knead until smooth. Shape into a ball, then let rise in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, until almost doubled in size.

Chocolate Cinnamon Filling
- 9 oz semisweet vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly brush paper with oil.
2. Place all ingredients in a small pot and place over low heat. Stir until just melted, then spread as thin as possible over the prepared parchment paper with a pastry scraper. You want about a 10" x 15" rectangle. Place in the fridge to cool down and firm up.

Final Loaf:
1. When the dough is risen, roll out into a 10 x 15 rectangle. Remove chocolate from the fridge, peel off parchment paper, and place on top. Roll tightly lengthwise (let the chocolate warm up a bit to make it easier), then seal.
2. Cut the roll down the middle lengthwise with a pastry scraper, then cross the two pieces over one another to form an X, cut side up. Continue to criss cross in both directions and seal the ends. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spray with oil, and cover.
3. Let the loaf rise until almost doubled in size (1.5 hours or so), then preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until a deep golden brown. Don't overbake or it will dry out. Reinhart suggests an internal temp of 185 degrees.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Maple-Apple Cider Tofu with Stuffing and Apple Cranberry Chutney

Here is my contribution to Thanksgiving this year. It may look a bit complicated, but it really isn't that bad. Once everything is chopped and sliced and ready to go, the whole thing comes together pretty quickly. When I go back home for Thanksgiving I am usually responsible for providing the vegan entree (all the sides are made vegan), and this one seems perfect because it incorporates traditional Thanksgiving flavours but can be eaten alongside other holiday fare. The components really work well together, so try to get a bit of everything in each bite.

Apple Cranberry Chutney

- 2 tbsp margarine
- 4 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (or another cooking apple)
- 1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2-4 tbsp apple cider
- 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1. Heat margarine over med-hi heat. Add apples and cook for 5 mins, stirring regularly. Add raisins and cranberries and cook for 3 mins.
2. Add maple syrup and mix well, then add 2 tbsp of cider. Cook until cranberries burst and apples are soft but still have some texture. Add more cider, if needed. It should be moist but not runny. Lower the heat and let simmer while you prep the other components of the dish.
3. When ready to assemble the dish, mix in the sage leaves and remove from heat.


- 2 slices sourdough bread (or so. You will need 1.5 cups of cubed bread when you are done)
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp apple cider
- 1 tsp thyme
- 4 cups packed baby spinach
- salt and pepper

Turn oven on to 300 degrees
1. Heat a frying pan over med to med-hi heat. Lightly butter (margarine?) the sourdough bread on both sides and fry both sides for 2-3 mins, until golden. Remove from pan and cut into 1/4" cubes. Measure out 1.5 cups and put into a bowl.
2. Put the pan back on the stove over medium heat. Add the 2 tbsp of margarine, and when melted add leeks and garlic. Fry for about 5 mins, until leeks are translucent but not too brown. Reduce heat if needed.
3. Add cider and thyme and mix well. Add spinach and cook until wilted but still a vibrant green. Season with salt and pepper then add to the bread cubes. Mix well. Put in an oven proof container and keep warm in the oven.

Maple-Apple Cider Tofu
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider
- salt and pepper

1. Cut the tofu in half vertically, then cut each half into 5 thin slices. Use a 2.5" biscuit cutter to cut out 10 rounds. (The size of your rounds may vary, but since my tofu block is roughly 5 x 2.5 this worked out perfectly).
2. While you are cutting the tofu, heat a frying pan on the stove over med-hi heat. Add margarine and swirl pan to melt, then add tofu circles. Fry for 3-5 mins, only on one side, until a nice golden brown.
3. Add maple syrup to the pan and swirl/shake to distribute. Flip tofu over and swirl/shake again. Season lightly with salt, and a some freshly ground pepper. Add cider to the pan and swirl/shake to distribute. Flip tofu over (i.e. fried side is now back down, and season with salt and pepper. Let reduce for a minute or so, then remove from heat.

This dish relies on a biscuit cutter (or metal ring) that is 2.5" in diameter, and 1.5" tall. Place one tofu circle on a plate, fried side down. Place ring over the tofu, then pack in stuffing, compressing the stuffing down with a spoon. Carefully remove ring, then top with another tofu circle, fried side up. Top that with a generous spoonful of chutney.

The chutney recipe makes plenty, so serve more on the side.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes with Tomato-Onion Relish

Over the next week or so I am going to post some recipes that have their roots in the recent issue of Food and Drink from the LCBO. (On a side note, does anyone else think it's weird that the government puts out a food magazine so we buy more alcohol?) Food and Drink has finally started to cater (somewhat) to the vegetarian crowd, but has yet to make a significant foray into vegan cuisine (even though we cocktail-sipping veggie hipsters would love it). First up is this veganized zucchini pancake (they call it a fritter, but it's not) with a version of my onion and tomato relish. Vegan Mom and I enjoyed these as an appetizer on date night before launching into onion soup and baguettes.

Tomato-Onion Relish
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over med to med-hi heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 min, until soft and translucent but not browned. Add brown sugar and vinegar and stir. Bring to bubbling and cook for 3 mins, stirring regularly.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to bubbling over med-hi to high heat. Cook for about 5 mins, stirring regularly. Drain relish in a fine mesh sieve so it is no longer runny. Keep warm.

Zucchini Pancakes
Makes at least 8
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup soy yogurt
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy milk (more if needed)
- 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini (or so--1 small zucchini will do)
- oil for frying
- chopped parsley for garnish.

1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk yogurt, vinegar, and soy milk together. Squeeze excess moisture out of the shredded zucchini and add to liquid ingredients with the sage leaf. Mix.
3. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry, adding a few splashes of soy milk, if needed until the dry ingredients are just moistened. The batter should be firm (not as runny as pancakes) but not stiff.
4. Heat a think layer of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium to med-lo heat. You want to be able to cook the pancakes for about 3 mins per side so they get golden and crispy but not burnt. Drop a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the oil and flatten slightly. Repeat (you should be able to get 4 pancakes in the pan at one time). Cook about 3 mins, then flip and cook 3 mins.
5. You can keep these warm on a rack in a 300 degree oven for about 30 mins or so if you need to make them ahead for a dinner party. Serve with the relish and garnish with parsley.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grape Jelly

I have been meaning to post this for a while so it would be of use when grapes were in season, but I guess late is better than never. Right? I love making jelly. It is a little time consuming but it makes me feel all old-timey, which is perfect for an historian. The trick to jelly is cooking it for long enough for it to set, otherwise you just get grape juice. As their name suggests, I can't get Concord grapes here because they are rather specific to a certain locality. Up here, we have Coronation grapes. (I took the above pic from here because all mine turned out like crap) They can survive the cold weather and still pack a major grapey punch. This jam is seriously intense, and is amazing on multigrain toast for breaky.

As with all jams and jellies, you will need sterilized jars and lids, and a large canning pot with boiling water to process the final product.

So, to make jelly, you first need to make some juice. Wash and drain the berries and remove from the stem. Place in a large pot with 1/4 cup or so of water for every 4 cups of berries. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat and cook for 10 mins, stirring and crushing the grapes. When grapes are all soft, remove from pot and drain in a colander lined with a few layers of damp cheesecloth for at least 2 hours. I found that one 2L basket of grapes ended up making about 4 cups of juice, which turned into two 500 ml jars of jam.
So, now that you have the juice you can make jelly. You will need for cups of juice and 3 cups of sugar to make two 500 ml jars of jam. Combine the two ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil. This jelly will foam up like crazy, so make sure it only takes 1/4 of the volume of the pot. You can see in the pic above how high the jam rose. Boil hard for 20 to 25 mins, until the jam sheets from a spoon. I was never sure what this meant until I made this jam. Basically, when the jam is ready it will drip off the spoon like you see in the pic below.
Pour the jelly into jars, screw on the lids finger tight, then process for 10 minutes in the boiling water. When done, remove from heat and remove lid. After 5 mins, remove jars from the water and cool.