Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Cider Tofu with Butternut Squash and Roasted Pears

Another recipe for all y'all having Thanksgiving in November, or for the rest of us who want a tasty fall meal.

Makes 8 portions
- 8 slices butternut squash (from the top end), about 1/8-1/4" thick, trimmed to the same size as the tofu
- 24 pear slices (i.e. peel pear, cut in half lengthwise, core, then slice vertically)
- olive oil
- salt
- sugar

- 1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu, vertically cut into 8 slices
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1/2 cup apple cider

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups diced cooking apple
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- salt and pepper

Cider Reduction
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 tbsp margarine
Bring cider to boiling in a small saucepan, and let reduce over med-hi heat for about 40 mins, until reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Whisk in margarine, and serve warm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Toss squash slices, and then the pear slices, in a drizzle of olive oil (just enough to lightly coat).  Place squash and pear slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle the squash lightly with salt and bake for 20 mins. Turn over all slices, then lightly salt the squash and sprinkle some sugar (about 1 tsp) on the pears.  Bake for another 20 mins, or until cooked and golden.
2. While the squash is baking, season both sides of the tofu slices with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil and margarine over med-hi heat, then fry tofu for 3-4 mins per side, or until golden brown.  Add 1/4 cup of cider, reduce heat to medium, and cover.  When cider is absorbed, flip tofu over and add remaining 1/4 cup of cider.  Cover, reduce heat to med-lo, and cook until cider is gone.  Keep warm until needed.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté onions and garlic for 7-10 mins, until lightly golden.  Add apple and fry for 2 mins.  Add cider, cranberries, and herbs.  Cook until apples are soft and liquid is reduced (5-7 mins).  Season to taste.
4. Assemble: tofu slice, then squash slice topped with apple-cranberry mixture and 3 pear slices.   Drizzle cider reduction over top before eating.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Pumpkin Spice Donuts

These are the perfect autumn treat.  Enjoy whilst looking at falling leaves and sipping coffee.  

Makes at least 12 donuts and donut holes
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree 
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp warm soy creamer (or milk)
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 2.5 to 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup grated (peeled) cooking apple
- canola oil for frying

NOTE: You can make these without the apple, if you so desire.  Increase the pumpkin puree to 3/4 cup, and reduce flour to 2 1/4 -2 1/2 cups.

1. Heat puree, shortening, salt, and sugar in the microwave, or on the stove, stirring regularly until shortening melts. Set aside.
2. Whisk flax into creamer. Let sit a few minutes, then whisk again until thick. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together yeast and flour. Add pumpkin and flax mixtures, and the grated apple. Mix together into a rough dough, then gently knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to make a nice soft dough that is tacky but not sticky. Remember that the apple will keep releasing water into the dough if you work it too hard.  Also, a tacky dough makes for a chewy and tender donut.
4. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 60-90 mins, until doubled in size.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with oil.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 3/8" thick. Cut with a donut cutter, setting the donut holes aside. Dough scraps can be re-rolled and cut. Place on prepared baking sheet, spray with oil, and cover. Let rise for 1/2 hour.
7. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry donuts in batches (about 60 seconds per side) until golden, drain on paper towel or paper bags, then let cool on wire rack. Let fully cool before glazing.
8. Fry the donut holes and immediately toss in a cinnamon-sugar mix.  Cool on a wire rack. 

- 3 tbsp soy milk
- 1.5 cups icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Whisk in icing sugar, then vanilla and spices.  Turn off heat, but keep the pan on the stove.  Dip in donuts and let cool.  

NOTE: These freeze very well, glaze and all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

French Apple Tart

Apple pie is the quintessential American dish, but maybe you want something a little different this Thanksgiving.  This is a French apple tart, a fairly simple and delicious dessert that showcases the wonderful flavour of apples.  Unclouded by spices and excessive sugar, this tart lets seasonal apples shine through.  The recipe is veganized from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking, but it is a pretty classic and standard dish: a baked apple sauce on the bottom and glazed sliced apples on top.  It is essential that you use baking apples (I used Royal Gala) so that they maintain some texture and don't reduce to total mush.  Then, you can use this basic recipe and go crazy: apple-cranberry-pecan tart, for example.  Feel free to add some cinnamon or nutmeg, or some brandy to the roasted apples.

Tart Pastry
- 1 1/4 cups (200g/6.5 oz) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60g/2 oz) icing sugar
- 1/2 cup (125g/4 oz) cold margarine (Earth Balance)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2-3 tbsp cold coconut milk (or soy creamer/milk)

1. Whisk together flour and sugar.  Cut in margarine until mixture has large crumbs the size of peas.
2. Sprinkle flax over the water and 2 tbsp of the coconut milk, then whisk until goopy.  Add to flour mixture and mix with a fork until it comes together into a soft dough, dribbling in more milk if needed.
3.  Press dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour and as much as overnight.
4. When pastry is cooled, roll out into a 12-13 inch circle on a floured surface.  Carefully place dough into a 9.5 inch tart pan, letting the excess hand over the sides.

Trim overhanging dough to 1/2 inch.  Fold overhang into the pan and press dough into the pan to make a smooth and uniform shell.

5. Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. When oven is a heat, line shell with aluminium foil and fill with dried beans.

Bake for 15-20 mins, or until crust has dried out.  After 15 mins, pull back some of the foil and check if it is wet/oily.  If it is, replace the foil and check again in two mins.
7.  Once dry, remove foil/beans, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 3-5 mins, until very lightly golden (you only want to partially bake the crust).  Let cool on a wire rack.

Apple Tart
- 2 lbs cooking apples (about 5), peeled, cored, and cut into uniform chunks (about 1 inch)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp margarine, melted

- 2 cooking apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp margarine, melted
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup apricot jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together apple pieces, sugar, lemon juice and melted margarine in a large bowl and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 mins, or until soft and mash-able.  Mash until chunky and set aside to cool.
2. When cooled, spread into the cooled tart crust.

3. Layer sliced apples over the apple sauce like you see in the pic below.

Remember that the apples will shrink when cooked, so don't space them too far apart.  Brush lightly with melted margarine, then sprinkle sugar over top.  Bake for 45-50 mins, unit apples are soft.  Let cool on a wire rack for 30 mins.
4. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve, then brush gently over the apples.  Serve at room temp.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Rolls

These make a great addition to any Thanksgiving table.  Not only do they look good but they taste awesome.  The pumpkin brings a wonderful moistness to the dough and a beautiful golden colour.

Makes about 28 rolls
- 1 1/2 cups warm soy milk
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine, but fresh is better)
- 3 cups all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry)
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp oil
- additional oil for brushing

1. Sprinkle yeast over the soy milk and whisk to dissolve.  Add puree, flours, salt, sugar, and oil and bring into a soft dough, adjusting flour or liquid as needed.  Knead for 5 mins, until smooth.
2. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
3. Line two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.  Slice off 2 oz pieces of dough and work into a ball.  Place in the prepared pan just touching one another.  When pans are filled, brush buns with some oil, cover, and let rise for 30-40 mins, until almost doubled.
4. Preheat oven to 400 then bake for 15-18 mins, or until golden brown.  Remove from pan to cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm, letting your dinner guests pull off rolls as needed.

You can very easily freeze a pan of these when they are cooled, then thaw/warm them when you need them.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Harvest Pies

I am actually on the ball this year and posting a Thanksgiving recipe a full week before Thanksgiving!  Yes, Canadian Thanksgiving is October 10.  So for you American readers I am really on the ball.  This recipe is a slight variation on the Winter Pies I posted a while back.  If you are pressed for time you could make these pies like the winter pies (i.e. like a tasty Hot Pocket) rather than going through all the fuss of making mini pies.  Also, you can probably get 12 pies out of this recipe buy adding another two cups total of veggies, but I have given you some wiggle room with the pastry dough.  The two things that make these superior to the Winter Pies are the roasted cranberries (awesome!) and the roasted squash (equally awesome!).  The crust, as always, remains my favourite.  It is easy to work with and durable, yet still flaky and tender.  Don't worry if the top crust does not totally bond with the bottom--we enjoyed taking off the tops, pouring in some gravy, and putting the tops back on.

Makes 10
Pie Crust
- 1 lb (3.5 cups) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 10.5 oz (1 1/4 cup + 1tbsp cup) cold Earth Balance margarine, or vegetable shortening
- 5 oz (scant 2/3 cup) ice cold water
- 2 tsp ground flax seed

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

- 4 cups butternut squash, small dice
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper

- 4 cups total diced veggies (I used potato, carrot, and onion)
- 2 cups cooked white kidney beans
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 tsp sage
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 tsp poultry spice (or a mix of thyme, sage, marjoram, and savoury)
- salt and pepper

- you also need some gravy

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Toss butternut squash, cranberries, and shallots in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 30-40 mins, or until golden brown. 
2. While squash is roasting, heat olive oil and margarine in a large saucepan over medium-hi heat.  Add veggies, beans, and garlic and the 1 tsp sage and turn to coat all the veggies with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper, then reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 15-20 mins, stirring regularly, until veggies are cooked and golden.  Remove lid, add wine, and cook until reduced.   
3.  Add braised veggies to the pan of roasted squash.  Sprinkle poultry spice over top and gently toss together.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Set aside to cool.
Reduce oven to 375 degrees
4. Remove pastry from the fridge and cut off 2/3rds.  Return 1/3 to the fridge.  Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut the dough into circles, big enough to fit your muffin tin with some hang over.  For example, my muffin tins have sections with a 3.25 inch diameter, and I found that a circle of pastry dough with a 5 inch diameter fit perfectly.  Make sure there is a lip of dough so you can attach the top crust on.

5. Mould the pastry into the muffin tin, making sure it is an equal thickness.  Fill with cooled veggie filling, mounding it up as much as you can.  
6. Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cut to the right size to make a top crust for each pie.  Press the top crust on to the lip of dough from the bottom crust.  Cut venting holes/slits in the top and bake for 35-40 mins, until golden.  
7.  Let cool for 5 mins, then gently remove from the muffin tins.  I found it easiest to gently place a cooling rack upside on top of the pies, then invert the rack and the muffin tin at once (like getting a cake out of a pan).  Once out of the tin, serve the pies (right side up) with gravy.