Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maple Garlic Tempeh Balls

Spring is slowly coming to the North which means it is maple syrup time! Of course, we had to pack up the kids and head out to the local sugar shack. We hiked through the forest, checked out the 70 kms of piping bringing sap to the shack, made maple syrup taffy, bought maple sugar candy, and loaded up on syrup. There is nothing like breathing in the sweet air of the sugar shack while being surrounded by dozens and dozens of bottles of syrup. We left on a serious sugar high. Tonight's recipe is a take on honey garlic meatballs. Some recent comments on my tempeh meatballs made me rethink the recipe to make them a bit firmer.

Makes 25 tempeh balls
- 1 8.5 oz pkgs tempeh
- water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice
- 1 small onion, coarsely grated
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1/3 cup instant oatmeal
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp instant tapioca
- 1 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce, or BBQ sauce

- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- dash of hot sauce
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp cornstarch

- 2 green onions, finely chopped

1. Cut tempeh into 4 pieces and place in a sauce pan. Add enough water to cover the tempeh, along with the soy sauce, salt, and steak spice. Bring to bubbling then simmer for 10 mins. Remove from water and let cool.
2. Grate tempeh and mix with onion, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with your fingers and knead for 1 min.
3. With wet hands, form into 25 balls. Let rest for 5 mins to firm up.
4. Heat a thin layer of oil in a non-stick frying pan over med-lo heat. Add meatballs and cook for 15 mins, turning regularly, until browned all over. Remove from pan.
5. Whisk together sauce ingredient and add to pan. Bring to bubbling and simmer for 5 mins, letting sauce thicken and garlic cook. Add meatballs and turn to coat. Cook for a few mins more to heat through. Right before serving, sprinkle with green onion.

Sap on its way to the sugar shack.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

White Bean Bruschetta

I had a serious hankering for some bruschetta, most likely because I had just baked some bread and wanted to put it to good use. Much to my dismay, I was totally out of tomatoes. I decided to sub in some white beans and proceed forth as planned (plus, the tomatoes this time of year are pretty pathetic). I am not sure what I thought of the final product. I liked the flavour, but I'm not sure about the texture of the bread and the beans together. Anyway, here is the recipe if you are interested.

- 12 slices of bread (I cut slices of Italian bread in half)
- olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or basil, if you have some)

Heat the broiler in your oven
1. Lightly crush the garlic clove, then rub on the slices of bread. Brush the bread with olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet. Toast under the broiler for a few mins, until lightly browned. Remove from oven.
2. Toss beans in oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Mix in parsley and divide evenly on the bread slices. Return to the oven for a few mins, until bread is nicely toasted and beans had heated up. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lemon Parsley Potatoes

I have an abundance of lemons. I keep buying them and never using them. This is a variation on good ol' parsley potatoes, but I think the lemon adds a nice touch.

- 4-5 red potatoes, cut into chunks
- salted water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 2-4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Add some salt and bring to boil. Simmer for about 10 mins, until potatoes have softened.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Drain potatoes and add to pan. Fry for about 10 mins, until potatoes are cooked and lightly browned.
3. Add lemon juice and stir, until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Stir in as much parsley as you see fit. Serve.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mini Irish Pies

Forgive me readers, I have sinned. It has been 5 days since my last post. The end of term is quickly approaching, and that means grading essays and assignments, and generally being super busy. This is what we had for St. Patrick's Day--kind of an Irish stew in a pie crust topped with thinly sliced potatoes.

Makes 10
- 1 recipe pie crust

- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 celery rib, small dice
- 2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, small dice
- 1 cup carrots, small dice
- 1 cup beer
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup soy creamer (or soy milk)
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tbsp sage
- 2 tsp thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, thinly sliced with a food processor and tossed in some olive oil

1. Make the pie dough and set in the fridge to chill.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add chickpeas and cook for 5 mins. Add vinegar and mix well, stirring until evaporated. Add liquid smoke, mix well, and remove from heat. Put chickpeas in a bowl and return pan to the heat.
3. Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil and heat. Fry shallots, garlic, and celery for 5-7 mins, until softened. Add potatoes and carrots and fry for 5 mins.
4. Add beer and soy sauce and mix well. Cook until liquid has all reduced. Add flour and mix well. Add enough soy creamer or soy milk to make a thick and creamy stew. You don't want too much liquid or it will bubble out of your pie and make a real mess.
5. Add spices and season with salt and pepper. Stir in fresh parsley and remove from heat.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and make the crusts. I used extra large muffin tins to hold the pies. Roll out the dough fairly thin (1/8" or so), cut into circles big enough to fit the muffin tin. Cut a triangle out of the circle (so it looks like PacMan) and mold into the tin. Use some water to close the seam. Make 10.
7. Fill crusts with filling and slice potatoes. Top pies with 4 or 5 slices of potatoes. Bake for 35-40 mins, or until potatoes have browned and the filling is bubbling.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Raisin Bread Update

First, let me thank all of you who posted suggestions for my cooking demo. I'm not sure if there is a consensus on the seitan/tofu question, but I think more people favour going for something fresh and tasty rather than trying to recreate a meat dish. I really like the idea of doing as complete a meal as possible, but I will have to see. The demo is for a university course so I need to make a small presentation, discuss the readings, and cook at the same time. Phew!

Second, I have noodled around with the raisin bread recipe that I posted last week. My loaves kept coming out really dense, so I made some adjustments. My kids absolutely loved the bread (kind of like cake), but I wanted something that looked better for my bakery customers. Check it out of you are interested.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My First Vegan Cooking Demo

I need your help, gentle readers. One of my colleagues is offering a course on food and food systems this year, and he thought it would be great if I could come in to discuss veganism. Plus, I think the students might benefit from seeing a real live vegan (ha ha). The great part about this presentation is that I get to do a cooking demo. The great conundrum is: what to make? The class runs for 1:20, so I need to do something fairly quick and easy. Do I try some kind of fake meat, or try to bring tofu back? Entree? Dessert? I am open to suggestions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Magic Finger

As a kid I absolutely loved Roald Dahl's book, and I still love them to this day. So, I was really excited when Son#1 took an interest in the Roald Dahl collection on his bookshelf. I thought I had read every one of his books growing up, but the other night I noticed a thin little book called The Magic Finger. Son#1 and I sat down and read it before bedtime. What a surprise! This is a great book for vegan kids, and a a good way to open up a dialogue about cruelty to animals.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweet n' Hot Noodles

One great thing about having a blog is you get to pontificate from time to time. Tonight's topic: the reusable shopping bag. Now, as much as I love the reusable shopping bag, it exemplifies the band-aid solutions were are taking to environmental problems. Using the shopping bag gives people a false sense that they are making a difference without making much of a difference at all. Tell me: what's the point of using a reusable shopping bag only to fill it up heavily packaged, heavily processed crap, and animal products that are helping destroy the planet? The disconnect drives me mad. I am sure people are wondering why I squirm a lot in the checkout line. UPDATE: I should stop being a Pretentious Green Ass, according to this article.

OK, now that that's out of my system, on to the food. Kind of a cop-out recipe, to be honest. But it is simple, fast, and tasty for a busy weekday night. The sauce and the noodles just go so well together.

- 1 pkg tofu, cubed, prepared in whatever way suits your fancy (plain, crispy, etc.)
- double recipe of sweet chili sauce
- 130g rice vermicelli
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 green onion, thinly sliced

1. Prep tofu and make the sauce. Prep noodles according to directions on the box (I soak mine in boiling water). Drain noodles.
2. Heat oil in a wok over med-hi heat. Add noodles and fry for a few min, until they start to go translucent. Add sauce and tofu and mix well. Let bubble for a few mins, letting the sauce soak into the noodles a bit.
3. Stir in green onion, mix well, and serve.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

King Oyster Mushroom Cannelloni

Mushrooms are great and I wish my kids didn't whine about them so much. Sometimes you just don't feel like tofu or seitan, and this is where mushrooms come in (think grilled portabello sandwich when burgers won't do). So, tonight I present you with garlicky mushroom-stuffed cannelloni in a creamy white sauce. It has a seafood kind of feel to it. The recipe makes enough for our ever-expanding and ever-hungry family, so feel free to cut it in half.

Makes 12
- 12 oven-ready cannelloni shells

- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 1/2 cups plain soy milk
- 1/2 cup soy creamer (or more soy milk)
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (or more if your nutmeg is as old as mine)
- salt and pepper to taste

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 generous cups chopped king oyster mushrooms (I used 8 mushrooms)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vermouth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Make the sauce: melt the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 min, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk and creamer, and bring to bubbling. Whisk in nutritional yeast until smooth, then season with nutmeg and salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Make the filling. Heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and salt and cook until starting to reduce. Add vermouth, then cook down until all liquid has disappeared (about 10 mins).
3. Whisk sauce and add 1/2 cup to the filling, mixing well. Stuff filling into shells.
4. If remaining sauce seems too thick, whisk in a little more soy. Put a layer on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place cannelloni into the dish, making sure there is some space between them so they can expand. Cover with the remaining sauce, then cover dish with foil.
5. Bake for 22-25 mins, until sauce is bubbling and pasta is cooked.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fresh Pretzels

I looooove pretzels fresh out of the oven. They really are best when still warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (or kosher salt, if that is your thing). But, unless you want to eat the entire batch of pretzels in one sitting, you really only get to eat one super fresh pretzel (two, if it's the weekend). So here is a solution: partially bake the pretzels, freeze them, then bake them up as you need them.

- melted margarine, for brushing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Make six pretzels, or 12 smaller pretzels. Dip into baking soda water, as per the recipe, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
2. If you made large pretzels, bake for 4.5 minutes, 3.5 mins if small pretzels. Remove from oven, brush lightly with melted margarine, and let cool on the baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the freezer. When slightly frozen, place pretzels in a bag in the freezer.
3. On pretzel day: line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place pretzels on the baking sheet. Place in a cold oven. Turn oven to 450.
4. Once oven reaches full heat, bake for 2-5 mins more, or until deep golden brown. Brush lightly with melted margarine and top with kosher salt or cinnamon and sugar (or, forget the margarine and just leave them plain).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This is my first foray in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. You may remember that I made my own raisin bread recipe, but it is made from white flour. This is a 100% whole wheat recipe that it so tasty it is rather like eating cake. The boys absolutely love it and kick off their day with a nice hearty slice for breakfast. I will warn you that it does take 2 days to make, but it is totally worth it. Letting the dough sit brings out the flavour of the grain and makes for a softer and tastier loaf. The recipe calls for an egg, so I used a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water. Let sit for a few mins, then whisk until thickened). You can find the recipe here.

UPDATE: I kept wondering why I had to add way more flour to the dough than Reinhart calls for. Instead of elastic and kneadable, the dough was wet and sticky. Now, you will notice in the pic above that you can't see many raisins in the raisin bread. That's because the raisins are put in the soaker. When they are kneaded into the final dough, they break down, upping the moisture content in the dough, and making it more sticky. So, to solve that problem, I made the following adjustments.

- Add only 1/4 cup of raisins to the soaker.
- Optional: add 1 tbsp of wheat gluten to the biga.
Final Dough:
- Soak remaining 3/4 cup of raisins in hot water for 15 mins while you mix the other ingredients and bring together the dough. Drain and dry raisins, then sprinkle with flour. Gently knead into the dough and proceed with the rest of the recipe.