Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pressure Cooker Indian Chickpeas

Is your body seeking nourishment after being strung out on a deluge of refined carbohydrates for the past few days (week?). I know mine is. A few months ago I bought this pressure cooker because it was on sale really cheap and I had seen the chefs use pressure cookers fairly regularly on Top Chef (Season 8 is awesome, by the way). But, since I had never used one before (and I had a slight fear of the whole thing blowing up on the stove) it sat on the shelf until now. I was a fool! Pressure cookers are awesome and can cook up dried beans in no time flat, making canned beans a thing of the past. My trick is to soak an entire bag of beans overnight, then keep them in the freezer until I need them for the pressure cooker. I then experimented with making wholesome one pot meals that could go from cutting board to table in about 40 mins (depending on your chopping skills). This is my first one pot wonder--next is an Ethiopian stew.

INGREDIENTS
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 curry leaves (optional)
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 cup yellow split peas, well-rinsed and drained
- 1.5 cups soaked chick peas (i.e. dry chickpeas that have been soaked for 8 hours or so)
- 2.5 cups water
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus another 1/4 cup for later)
- 1 green chile, seeded and chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 cups diced butternut squash (or sweet potato)
- salt to taste

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds and fry until fragrant and popping. Add in other spices and curry leaves and fry for 30 seconds. Set aside.
2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker, then add fried spices and season to taste with salt. Mix well.
3. Close pressure cooker and place over high heat. When pressure is reached, turn heat to low and cook for 20 mins. Remove from heat and wait for pressure to decrease.
4. Open the pressure cooker and add the additional 1/4 cup of cilantro. Gently mix to blend everything together (the split peas will break apart, as will the onions and squash, and the mixture will thicken). Serve over rice.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Roundup 2010

So my dream of creating all sorts of holiday recipes this year was destroyed by a manuscript, a book proposal, and far too much grading. Still, I did come up with a few ideas, and there are plenty more in the Vegan Dad archives to make your holiday a gastronomic success:

It is a tradition of ours to start Christmas day with a lovely Swedish Tea Ring. You could also do Lemon Currant Rolls, or even this Chocolate Cinnamon Babka.

We usually don't eat lunch on Christmas Day, but spend the afternoon nibbling on finger foods and cookies, like these Russian Tea Balls. Those of you who have Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice can follow my vegan notes to make your own Stollen or Pannettone.

For dinner, you could have Veggie Mini Pies (but add some cranberries into the mix), Mini Pot Pies, Stuffed Tofu, or Festive Phyllo Traingles. You could also go old school with a Stuffed Seitan Roast, or something more simple like Cranberry-Glazed Tofu (with a side of Scalloped Potatoes and Butternut Squash), or a Holiday Stew.

All the best to you this holiday season, and happy cooking!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes and Butternut Squash with Roasted Chestnuts

I experimented with two dishes tonight for Christmas. The first (a cranberry tofu with a cranberry and orange chutney) was a disaster, but the second was pretty much what I wanted. Not the prettiest looking dish, but the flavour was amazing. The creamy sauce is made even more creamy with the butternut squash, complemented by the sage. The potatoes are soft but not mushy and the chestnuts add some texture and flavour.

INGREDIENTS
- 1/4 cup margarine

- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- scant 1/4 cup flour
- 3.5 cups plain soy milk
- 1 tbsp rubbed sage
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1.5 lbs potatoes, peeled
- 1.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled
- 12 roasted chestnuts, chopped

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2.8 litre (3 quart) Corningware dish
1. Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for 10 min, until translucent.
2. Add in flour and mix well. Slowly whisk in soy milk, add sage, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
3. Slice potatoes and squash in a food processor so they are very thin. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with a layer of potatoes and a layer of squash (if potatoes or squash are wet after slicing, bad them on a towel before putting them in the dish). Sprinkle some chopped chestnuts over top. Repeat until all potatoes and squash are gone, and top with the last of the sauce (you may have some left over). Press down on the layers occasionally, and refrain from adding too much sauce.
4. Cover dish and bake for 1 hr and 15 mins. Uncover and bake for 30 mins, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 20 mins before serving (the layers will set).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday, Son #1!

I am slowly wrapping my head around the fact that in a few days I will have been a dad for a full decade. At the very least, I can say that we have eaten some pretty good cake over the last ten years. As you may know, I bake a special cake for each kid's birthday--whatever they choose. This year, Son #1 initially wanted a plain white cake with a 10 on it (going minimalist in his older years, I guess) but eventually settled on this car cake which I made for his party today (although his birthday is actually Sunday). I decided that a triple batch of Isa's chocolate cupcake recipe would fill the pan, and at first everything seemed to be going fine. But after 40 minutes of baking the centre was still goopy. After 55 mins it looked OK with a BBQ skewer coming out clean (or so I thought). But, alas! After trimming the bottom (after letting the cake cool for 10 mins), I discovered the cake was most certainly not done. I left the cut portion off, topped the cake with foil, and put it back in the oven on convection at 325 degrees. Another 10 mins and everything seemed OK. The centre was still a bit fudgy and the edges were well done, but it was passable. It looked even better after decorating, despite the fact that because I had to trim more off the bottom (it got pretty crusty with the re-bake) the car looked like it was sinking in a lake (the blue edge I put on did not help). The kids downed it without comment. So, Happy Birthday, kiddo!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Creamy Chickpea and Tomato Curry

OK, I know this is not Christmas related (unless you eat Indian food at Christmas), but I made this the other day and it is so easy and tastes so amazing that I had to share it. The recipe comes from Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape Cookbook (hence the metric measurements), but uses chickpeas instead. Who knew tomatoes and coconut milk tasted so awesome together? I used some diced tomatoes from my garden that I had frozen at the end of the summer--they were awesome and far superior to canned.

INGREDIENTS
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 4 curry leaves
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 500g chopped fresh tomatoes, skinned
- 400 ml can light coconut milk

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Toss chickpeas with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Add spices and curry leaves to the pan and fry for a min, until nice and fragrant. Add onions and garlic and saute for 6-8 mins, until soft. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan, if needed.
3. Add chickpeas and tomatoes, mix well, and season to taste. Heat to bubbling, then add coconut milk. Simmer gently until ready to serve (over rice). The dish tastes best if it has sat for a while so the flavours can blend. Even better the next day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Basic Sourdough Bread: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

The saga continues! I am sorry to say that Google Books no longer has an extended preview of the book (makes sense, really) so I can't link to it anymore. But, as I have said before, the book is well worth the money. I have blogged about this bread before, so this time I made sourdough rolls. They are the perfect accompaniment to stews and soups, and I used them as the bread for the stuffing for my Maple Apple Cider Tofu (perfect for the holiday season!) It makes a great stuffing--complex flavour and chewy texture.

GENERAL NOTES
- see what I posted here about the starter
- as with all sourdough, patience is a virtue since the dough rises slower than with commercial yeast
- I made 2.5 oz rolls and baked them at 400 degrees for 15 mins on a hot baking stone

VEGAN NOTES
- none

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Vegetable Mini Pies

When I announced my one month hiatus from ye olde blog, I promised that I would be back with ideas for the upcoming holiday season. So, as promised, here is idea number one. The filling really isn't much of a breakthrough, but the crust definitely is. The pastry recipe comes from Top Chef Just Desserts, appropriately veganized, of course. It is easy (as pie) to roll out, is durable, and bakes up beautifully. The filling is really up to you. I did something very similar to this recipe, but you could easily make it more festive with the addition of some cranberries and roasted chestnuts.

Makes 12
Pastry
INGREDIENTS
- 1 lb all purpose flour
- 0.5 oz sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 10.5 oz cold Earth Balance margarine, or vegetable shortening
- 5 oz cold water
- 2 tsp ground flax seed

METHOD
1. Whisk dry ingredients together, then cut margarine into the dry ingredients. Work with your fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. Whisk flax seed into the water, then add to dry ingredients. Work into a soft dough.
3. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Mini Pies
INGREDIENTS
- 2 cups diced turnip
- 1 cup diced parsnip
- 1 cup diced rutabaga
- 2 cups diced potato
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp white wine (or veg stock)
- 1 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/3- 1/2 cup soy milk
- salt and pepper to taste

METHOD
1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, potato, and carrots. Boil for 5-7 mins, or until softened but not mushy. Rinse with cold water, drain, rinse, and drain. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute onions, celery and garlic for 5-7 mins, until translucent. Add 1 tbsp of wine (or stock) and reduce. Repeat twice with remaining wine.
3. Add flour and spices to the pan and mix well. Then slowly add soy milk, mixing well. Add enough to make a gravy that is not too runny. Add cooked veggies, mix well, and season to taste. Set aside to completely cool (or stick it in the fridge).

To Make the Pies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out twelve 7" circles (I cut around a cereal bowl), re-rolling dough scraps to make more circles. Place about 1/2 cup of filling off centre, brush a little water around half of the circumference, then fold in half. Press dough together along the seam, then press with a fork.
2. Cut two slits in the tops to allow steam to escape, the place on the baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 mins, or until golden brown.

I put half of these in the freezer, unbaked, for later. I will report back how they fared, and the method for thawing and baking.