Sunday, May 30, 2010

Green Curry Summer Rolls

Last week we had a bit of an early heat wave so I was looking for a nice cool dish that didn't involve a lot of cooking. Although the boys totally hated these, Vegan Mom and I loved them. The crunch of the lettuce contrasts the vermicelli and rice paper, while the punch of heat from the curry paste is cooled by the cucumber. Yum. Not a real recipe, but here is the stuff I put in mine. Adjust amounts according to how many rolls you want to make.

- steamed broccoli (crisp and bright green, not mushy. Once the broccoli is cooked, plunge it into ice water to stop it from cooking)
- thinly sliced lettuce (romaine, or other)
- cooked rice vermicelli, cut into about 3" pieces, tossed with soy sauce and green curry paste (to taste)
- thinly sliced shallots
- thinly sliced cucumber
- finely chopped cilantro (or sliced basil, Thai or otherwise)
- rice paper
- dipping sauce

1. Soak rice paper in warm water as per directions, fill with ingredients, roll like a burrito. Serve with dipping sauce.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pane Siciliano: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

I think this is the only bread in the cookbook that takes 3 days to make, but it was fun nonetheless. You can actually skip the third day and bake it on day 2, but I thought that since I had got that far I might as well go one more day to develop as much flavour as possible. This loaf combines bread flour and semolina flour and the end result is a golden loaf with a wonderfully crispy crust. The whole family enjoyed eating it by the slice, and as the bread for wee sandwiches.

- none

1. I subbed maple syrup for the honey. I'm sure you could just use sugar, or some agave as well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rhubarb Syrup

This post may be too late for all y'alls in the US, but up here it is rhubarb season and we have it coming out of the wazoo. Every year I make stewed rhubarb (not photogenic, but tasty) and the kids always balk at first but end up bolting it down with gusto. This year I did something different: I strained off most of the juice (making the stewed rhubarb thicker, like an applesauce) then boiled it into a syrup. It is absolutely wonderful in lemonade (as pictured) or in a glass of ginger ale.

You can play with the proportions, depending on how much rhubarb you have on hand. Here is what I did:

- 10 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
- 1 cup homemade strawberry jam
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 mins, or until rhubarb is cooked down and falling apart.
2. Strain rhubarb through a fine sieve (I use a spoon to stir/mash it a bit), taking a much liquid as you want (you now have tasty stewed rhubarb).
3. Put the liquid in a stock pot that can hold about 3 times the volume of the liquid. Bring to bubbling over high heat (it will foam up like cray, so use a large pot). Stir rapidly, until foam goes down, then cook and stir for about 5 mins, until liquid has become glossy.
4. Cool and store in the fridge, adding to drinks as you see fit. Pour the syrup down the back of a spoon to get the funky look pictured above.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pain de Campagne: Baking Through The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Boy, this is quickly turning into a vegan baking blog. Well, I guess that just reflects where all my culinary energy is these days. Baking through The Bread Baker's Apprentice has turned me into more of a baking enthusiast than ever before. There has not been a single recipe that I have not been able to veganize, which makes me realize how overrated eggs are in baking. Yes, vegan baking is delicious and diverse.

So, on to the bread at hand. I thought I would enjoy this loaf much more than I did. It uses pate fermentee, like the french bread that I totally love, but also has whole wheat flour for texture and taste. I made little batards to use like a hoagie roll for lunch at work. The result was good, but not great. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty, but I was not blown away like I have been with other recipes in this book.

1. I used whole wheat flour, but Reinhart suggests rye can be used as well. Net time I will use rye.
2. I made 4oz batards and baked them for 15 mins.

- none

Monday, May 17, 2010

Vegan Chocolate-Glazed Donuts

I'm not sure why I have not tried to make a vegan donut before now. I think I was convinced that eggs were absolutely essential to the dough but they totally are not. Having baked quite a few yeasted sweet doughs in the past year I now know that eggs really aren't needed for leavening, but are just another way to enrich the dough (along with the shortening and milk). So, I went with flax seed to give the dough some pliability and cohesion. Worked like a charm. I veganized Alton Brown's recipe on the Food Network site, mainly because he only called for 2 eggs and other recipes asked for 5. The end result was perfection: a tender and tasty donut that kicks the butt of anything they serve at Tim Horton's (or Dunkin' Donuts for those outside Canada).

Makes at least 24 small donuts
- 3/4 cups soy milk
- 1 1/4 oz vegetable shortening
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 11.5 oz all purpose flour
- canola oil for frying


1. Heat soy milk, shortening, salt, and sugar in the microwave, or on the stove, stirring regularly until shortening melts. Set aside.

2. Whisk flax into water. Let sit a few minutes, then whisk again until thick. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together yeast and flour. Add soy milk mixture (making sure it is between 95 and 105 degrees F) and flax mixture. Mix together into a rough dough, then knead for about 5 mins until smooth, adding more flour or more water as needed to make a nice soft and tender dough.

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 out 2" circles with a biscuit cutter, then cut out a 5/8" centre (or use a donut cutter. I cut the end off a kid's medicine syringe. It was the perfect size and I use the plunger to push out the dough). Dough scraps (and holes) 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 (30-60 seconds per side) until golden, drain on paper towel or paper bags, then let cool on wire rack. Let fully cool before glazing.

For the glaze, I used this recipe, subbing margarine for butter and soy milk for milk. This recipe makes a lot, so cut it in half.

The donuts (glaze and all) freeze and thaw very well. Place on a sheet pan to freeze. Once frozen, they can be placed in a bag and they won't stick together.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pain a l'Ancienne: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

This bread was a very tasty exploration into some new techniques. The dough is made with ice cold water, kneaded, then placed in the fridge to retard overnight. Like most rustic breads, the dough is very wet and sticky and so plenty of flour is needed to shape the final loaves. The end result is a wonderfully chewy loaf that has an absolutely amazing flavour for the relatively little amount of work that goes into making it.

- none

- none

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

I'm not sure this bread is really as extraordinary as Reinhart thinks it is, but it is still really good. Making this bread was also a good reminder about how you can make a bread sound really healthy even though it is still pretty much made with white flour. This loaf is multigrain, made with whole grains, has bran, but is still essentially white bread with a tan.

1. The recipe calls for rolled oats, but I used a 12 grain cereal mix.
2. The recipe makes one large loaf, so you may want to double the recipe.

1. I replaced the honey with maple syrup.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Penne with Seitan Sausage and Tomato Sauce

I am still on the quest for kid-friendly dishes for my newly veggie nephew and had recently concocted a pasta dish with lentils and beans, but then found out that he really does not like beans. Alas! So, this is a much less complex dish that uses good ol' seitan sausages and a simple but tasty tomato sauce. Since this dish only calls for 2 sausages, fire the other two in the freezer to have ready for next time. This is adapted from The Sopranos Cookbook. If you want more zing, add some red pepper flakes to the sauce.

- 1 lb penne, or rigatoni, or ziti
- 2 seitan sausages, cooled and sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 28 oz can plum tomatoes (juice and all) passed though a food mill, or 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp basil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1. Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box.
2. While paste is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry sliced sausage for a few mins on each side, until nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining tbsp of oil, then fry the garlic until very lightly browned and fragrant.
3. Add wine and simmer until wine reduces by about a third to a half. Add tomatoes then seasons with salt, pepper and basil. Simmer for 10 mins, uncovered.
4. Add tomato paste and nooch and stir well to thicken. Add more paste if needed. Add sausages to the pan and heat through.
5. Drain pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

2nd Annual Mother's Day Neighbourhood Vegan Brunch

Last year we had two families over for a mother's day brunch. This year, we went crazy and had 20 people over. It was, if I do say so myself, a grand success! Both kids and parents stuffed themselves to capacity with purely vegan fare and no one made a single joke about bacon. So, let's take a look at the spread:
In the front on the left are two spinach and sun-dried tomato frittatas, based on Isa's swiss chard frittata from Vegan Brunch.
I had two bags of baby spinach I had intended to use in an Indian dish this week but never got around to making. I figured sun-dried tomatoes would make the perfect accompaniment (they did). I was a little worried about the whole thing holding together so I added 2 tbsp of chickpea flour. The end result was amazing: nice and tender and bursting with flavour. I scaled back on the soy and seasoned with black salt to get a nice eggy flavour.

On the front right is polenta rancheros, also from Vegan Brunch. What you are looking at is a bowl of soft polenta, a bowl of black beans in rancheros sauce, and a variety of fixins (red onion, tomato, cashew sour cream, guacamole). This is a fantastic dish. You start with some beans, add a dollop of polenta, then garnish. This one is going into my brunch rotation.

In the back are oven roasted potatoes, and piles of pancakes (also Isa's recipe from Vegan Brunch.)
I also made some whole wheat bread for toast.
Son#1 made these signs for all the homemade jams and jellies.
In addition to cinnamon buns, I made these thumbprint rolls from Reinhart's Artisan Breads for Everyday. These are a sweet roll filled with fruit and glazed with icing, and they disappeared pretty quickly. I put the fruit filling in a piping bag and I found that to be an effective way to get maximum filling in without making a huge mess.

The guests brought muffins, fruit salad and trays, juices, and coffee and tea.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


This is one of those annoying posts because I don't have a recipe to go along with the picture. That being said, I can point you to similar recipes and discussion of technique so you can experiment on your own. All good croissants are the same: a slightly sweet and leavened dough layered with fat. I used Peter Reinhart's recipe in Artisan Breads Everyday (another book of his I recommend) which adds the additional element of an overnight fermentation of the dough in the fridge for added flavour. I like this method because it means you work with a cold dough that helps keep the fat above room temperature.

So, let me impart some words of wisdom should you decide to embark on the adventure of croissant making. I completely messed up two batches of dough before I finally had success. Yes, there were a few tantrums and half-laminated dough may or may not have been thrown across the kitchen. Obviously, the main obstacle that needs to be overcome for the vegan croissant maker is replacing the butter. My experience is that Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Flavor Sticks work best. The key here is that you need a firm margarine that will not get too soft. I first used the whipped Earth Balance and that was a complete disaster. If the margarine is too soft it will squirt out from between the layers of dough. If your margarine gets too soft, put it in the fridge to firm up.

The second obstacle for any croissant baker is actually rolling out the dough. Here my advice is to be patient. You need to give the gluten time to relax so the dough can be rolled out. Be firm but gentle, if you know what I mean. Reinhart says to roll from the centre to the four corners first, then along the length and width. This is an excellent method that results in an almost perfect rectangle of equal width and depth. Keep your work surface well floured and be patient.

Most recipes I have seen call for an egg wash on the final dough. Reinhart thinks this is unecessary and I agree. As you can see from the pic above I had some problems getting the perfect crescent shape, but they tasted great. I also did not roll them tight enough, but no one seemed to care.

So, where to go for recipes? Vegan Lunch Box has a recipe with half whole wheat flour if you are so inclined. The recipe is also pretty simple and clear (Reinhart's recipe goes on for 8 pages, complete with pics. It is thorough for the first timer). This recipe is more detailed. Both of these recipes use pure butter, while Reinhart blends 2 tbsp with 1.5 cups of butter for the butter layer. Finally, here is the recipe from Foodbeam, the blog I used to make a vegan puff pastry.