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.

- 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

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.

- 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

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.

- 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

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.

- 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

- 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
- 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

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
- 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

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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tandoori Cauliflower

Aaaaaaannnd, I'm back! Did I get everything done that I wanted to? Nope. But, I got my major project done so that feels pretty good. In my absence I participated in Vegansaurus' project to veganize the wining recipes from Top Chef Just Desserts (just about the hardest thing I have ever had to do in the kitchen), and just tonight I made the Lemon Pies and Salted Caramel Ice Cream for Vegan Mom's birthday. Delicious!

This is a recipe I have been meaning to share since the summer. It is adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape, which is both a cookbook and a TV show. You can watch the show here, but I will warn you that he comes off as a culturally insensitive clod, and he whines a lot when he goes to southern India and can't eat any meat. The part in the ashram is just downright embarrassing. I used the BBQ and a clay baker to finish off the dish, but you could also put it in the oven at 450.

- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 cup soy yogurt
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp tandoori spice blend
- salt to taste

- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, cut into rings
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 -2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp tandoori spice blend

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then cook cauliflower florets for 2-3 mins, until just tender. Drain and rinse with ice cold water. Leave to drain.
2. While cauliflower is cooking/draining, whisk spices (including the salt) into the yogurt, then toss with the cauliflower in a bowl. If you have time, let this sit for a few hours in the fridge, covered.
3. Heat the BBQ to about 500 degrees and transfer the cauliflower to a clay baker. Cook, uncovered (but with BBQ lid down), for 15-20 mins, or until the cauliflower is tender.
4. While the cauliflower is baking, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute onion rings for 10-12 mins, until a golden brown. Add tomato paste and water and cook for a few mins more, then add spices (add a splash more water if need be). Cook for one min, then put on top of the cauliflower. Garnish with cilantro, if desired, and serve.

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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Super Easy Thai Coconut Rice

I live fried rice as a quick and easy answer the question of what is for dinner. This dish is nothing fancy, for sure, but it tastes great and the kids love it. You can use chickpeas, tofu, or seitan in place of the Tofurky--it's just what I had on hand. Try to pick a veggie mix with some great colour that can contrast the yellow rice. I really don't put a lot of curry paste in because I enjoy the creamy mellowness of the coconut milk and tumeric.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp lemongrass paste
- yellow or red curry paste to taste
- 4 cups cold cooked rice
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 pkg Tofurky lunch meat, cut into strips
- 3 cups frozen veggies (some Asian mix), thawed
- salt to taste

1. Heat wok over med-hi heat, then swirl oil in. Add onions and stir fry for 2-3 mins, until golden and softened. Add garlic and stry fry 30 seconds. Then add lemongrass paste and curry paste and mix well.
2. Add rice and fry for a few mins, turning to coat the rice well. Add coconut milk, tumeric, and hoisin, and lower heat to medium, mixing well. Add more coconut milk of mixture is too dry.
3. Add Tofurky and veggies and heat through. Season with salt and serve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teff Biscuits

Thinking of making the Ethiopian Soup I posted yesterday? Then you also need to make these teff biscuits. The recipe is adapted/veganized from Rienhart's Artisan Breads Everyday--the best biscuit recipe around, I think. You really do need a pastry scraper for this recipe, so if you try it without one, don't say I didn't warn you! The method is similar to making croissants or other laminated doughs. The alternating hydrophilic and hydrophobic helps the biscuits rise and contributes to their flaky texture. These biscuits are a little more dense because of the teff flour, but are still remarkably tender.

- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 8 oz coconut milk, or plain soy milk
- 1/2 Earth Balance margarine (1 stick of the baking margarine)
- 2.5 oz bread flour
- 2.5 oz all purpose flour
- 3.5 oz teff flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Whisk vinegar into the coconut or soy milk in a small bowl. Keep in the fridge.
2. Put the margarine in the freezer for 30 mins to get nice and cold. Meanwhile, mix all the rest of the ingredient together.
3. When margarine is cold, grate it into the flour mixture, then work it with your fingers into something that looks like very coarse bread crumbs. Don't make the mixture too fine--some chunks of margarine is what you want.
4. Add coconut or soy milk mixture and stir until just combined. The mixture will be very wet (teff has no gluten) and starting to rise from the action of the soda and vinegar.
5. Turn the mixture out on to a very well floured surface. Dust liberally with flour, then pat the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick, and square off the sides with the pastry scraper. The exact size does not really matter. The key here is that it needs to be big enough to fold into thirds, like a letter. Using the pastry scraper, fold the dough like a letter (it will most likely fall apart, on the first turn, so be patient). Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, dusting with flour as needed. Rotate and repeat. Rotate and repeat. By this time enough flour will have been incorporated into the dough to make it more firm and workable.
6. Pat dough out into a final rectangle, 1/2 inch thick, then cut with the pastry scraper into whatever size biscuits you want (I like smaller ones for the kids, so I get about 20). Place on prepared baking sheet and put in the fridge while the oven heats.
7. Heat oven to 500 degrees. When heated, put baking sheet in, reduce heat to 450, and bake for 8 mins. Rotate the pan and bake for another 6 mins (more if you made huge biscuits). Serve while still warm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ethiopian-Style Soup

I say "Ethiopian-Style" soup because the flavours are inspired by the Ethiopian stews I like to make, but is not any "real" Ethiopian dish that I know of. In many ways it is just a simple and thinned down stew packed with that nourishing lentil-y goodness that I love about Ethiopian food. This was also a great way to use the first squash of the season (see below). I used Bonbon which had a delectable texture and gave the soup a wonderful sweetness to offset the spicy heat. It was even better the next day.

Makes a lot
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cup sliced shallots
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- berbere to taste
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
- 10 cups water
- 6-8 cups chopped squash (or sweet potato)
- 1/4 chopped fresh parsley (more for garnish)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a large stock pot over med-hi heat. Add onions and saute for a few mins, until the onions get a nice golden brown on the edges (don't burn them, though). Add shallots, garlic, and ginger and reduce heat to med-lo. Cook for about 20-25 mins, until the mixture has nice brown colour.
2. Add spices and lentils and raise heat back to med-hi, stirring to mix everything well. When sizzling (the spices will stick a bit), add 6 cups of the water. Bring to bubbling, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook for at least 30 mins (longer is nicer, if you have the time, so that the lentils and onions can break down), stirring regularly.
3. Add the remaining four cups of water along with the squash and parsley, bring to bubbling over med-hi heat, then cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for 20-30 mins, or until squash is cooked through. Adjust seasonings to taste, garnish, and serve.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sourdough Starter: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

Before I get into the sourdough breads in The Bread Baker's Apprentice I want to sing the praises of Reinhart's method for sourdough starter. The starter is absolutely essential, of course, but is also the most daunting aspect of making sourdough bread. The great thing about this starter is that you can abuse and neglect it and it still keeps kicking. Because the starter lives in the fridge it does not need daily refreshments and actually can be left for a few weeks (as I did when I went on holiday). Really it's the most hassle-free sourdough starter ever. My starter is now over a year old (I originally blogged about it here) and is still happy and bubbly and making great bread.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Banana-Orange-Chocolate Cake

I made this dessert for date night with Vegan Mom by combining the methods from my pudding cake and cobber recipes. The base is sauteed bananas and Grand Marnier, topped with a fluffy cake with hints of orange and bursts of chocolate. It's not as oozy as the pudding cake, and not as fruity as the cobbler. And it's freaking delicious.

- 1/3 cup margarine
- 2 large bananas, thickly sliced
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier

- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water

- 1 cup flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1/2 cup orange juice, minus 2 tbsp
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees
1. Heat a frying pan over med-hi heat. Melt butter then add sliced bananas. Fry for a few mins per side, until they are a nice golden brown. Add Grand Marnier. It will bubble like crazy. When it stops, remove from the stove and transfer into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Make sure the banana slice are spaced evenly.
2. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to bubbling, without stirring, over medium to med-hi heat. Let bubble for a minute, then remove from the heat.
3. While sugar mixture is heating, make the cake. Whisk together dry ingredients, then add soymilk (don't mix yet). Place the two tbsp of Grand Marnier in a 1/2 cup, then fill up with orange juice. Add to dry ingredients along with extract and zest. Whisk together.
4. Pour cake batter over the bananas, then sprinkle chocolate chips over the batter.
5. Spoon the sugar mixture over the top of the batter. Bake for 35 mins, or until the top has reached a nice golden brown and the bananas are bubbling on the bottom.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pugliese: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

I can't believe that it's been almost 2 months since I posted about my journey through The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I've been baking, I just haven't been blogging. This is the last recipe in the book before the sourdough section. It is a chewy, rustic Italian loaf whose success relies on making a rather wet dough. I find this easiest with my KitchenAid stand mixer that makes it possible to knead without making a huge mess or breaking your wrist using a spoon.

1. The mashed potatoes are optional. I had some on hand and I think it made for a softer loaf.
2. I do not have proofing bowls so I just lined 2 mixing bowls with towels and it worked just fine.
3. I used a 50-50 blend of durum flour an bread flour.

- none

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Halushki with Fresh Flax Noodles

Ah, halushki (or haluski). This is a dish my grandma used to make, being of western Pennsylvania steel town stock. It is a cheap dish that is filling and delivers some great flavour. I added more ingredients than my grandma used to, but it still brought back all sorts of memories. I'll admit that I weenied out and made the noodles with my pasta maker. She used to roll them out by hand. Speaking of noodles, these are a great vegan version of egg noodles--tender, yet durable.

Fresh Flax Noodles

Makes 1 lb
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup warm soy creamer or soy milk
- 2 tbsp finely ground flax
- large pinch of tumeric (optional)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (I used black salt for an eggy flavour)
- 2 tbsp water (more as needed)

1. Place flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Whisk flax into the soy creamer in a separate bowl. Let sit a few mins, then whisk again until thick and goopy. Whisk in tumeric (for colour).
3. Put flax mixture into the well, and sprinkle salt over top. Begin to mix together, adding water as needed to make a stiff but pliable dough.
4. Cut into four equal pieces and pass through a pasta roller up to number 7. Cut into 1/4 inch (or a bit bigger strips) and let dry on a towel for at least 2 hours.
5. When pasta is dry, cut into 4-5 inch lengths.
6. To cook, drop into boiling water, stirring to keep it from sticking together. You only need to cook for about 30 seconds after the water comes back to boiling.

- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 1 leek, white and light green part, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, finely grated
- 1 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp parsley, plus more for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp margarine
- cooked egg noodles

1. Melt 2 tbsp margarine in a large saucepan over medium to med-hi heat. Saute leeks and onions for 5-7 mins, until soft and translucent. Add garlic, carrot, cabbage, and a few pinches of salt and mix well. Once sizzling, reduce heat to med-lo, cover, and cook for 10-15 mins, stirring regularly. You want the cabbage to be nice and tender, but not soggy. Add paprika and parsley, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from pan.
2. Add another 2 tbsp of margarine to the pan over medium to med-hi heat. Add egg noodles and gently stir to coat. Fry for a few mins, then add cabbage mixture. Stir to mix, adjust seasoning and serve.

Happy Belated Birthday, Son #2

Son # 2's birthday landed smack on the same day we were traveling back from Ohio to the Great White North after a wee summer vacation and a family reunion. As such, he didn't get a special cake like I do for all the kids on their birthdays. So, when we got home he chose a cake pan at the library (yes, the library), signed it out, and on a weekend trip to the cottage Son #1 made and baked the cake and I did the decorating. The cake is sitting on a slightly nasty cookie sheet that is perfect for the cottage but which you'd probably replace if you had it at home. The cake was a hit with the whole family (cousins, aunt, uncle, etc.) and with the birthday boy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zesty Onion and Tomato Relish

If you have been following Vegan Dad on Facebook you know that I grew cayenne peppers in my garden this year. I'm not sure why, exactly . . . for fun, I guess. I have always had bad luck with peppers but this summer's hot weather has yielded a fine crop of bright red and super hot peppers. The problem is what to do with them since I shy away from really hot foods because of the kids (though there was that time I went on a ques to make the hottest jerk sauce on earth . . . .). So cayenne recipe number one is this zesty relish. It is quick and easy to make and you can decide how hot to make it by leaving the seeds in the pepper or adding more than one.

Makes about 2 cups
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 15 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (if larger)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cayenne pepper, seeded and minced (or leave seeds in for more zest!)
- 1/2 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 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 10 mins, stirring regularly, until most of the liquid had evaporated. If the relish is still too runny you can drain it in a fine mesh sieve.

So what did I do with the relish? Luckily, I had some awesome tomatoes and basil ready to be eaten. I seasoned some tofu slices with salt and pepper and fried them a bit on each side in a bit of oil. Then, on a freshly made kaiser roll, I slathered on some pesto (Isa's recipe from VWAV, but made with toasted sunflower seeds because I was out of walnuts), the tofu, some slices of beefsteak tomato, and a large dose of relish. Dee. lish. us.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Son #1's Peach Smoothie

Tonight's post comes to you courtesy of Son #1. He created this recipe, made it, staged it, photographed it, and wrote down the recipe. To say he was excited is a bit of an understatement. He was so proud of his accomplishment and kept going on and on about how he was going to be a chef just like Dad. It really was heartwarming.

Serves 6
- 3 cups frozen peach slices
- 3/4 cup crushed ice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups vanilla soy

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Here is his original recipe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peach Blueberry Cobbler

I'll have to admit that cobbler really isn't in my culinary vocabulary. That is probably because my Mom was more of a crisp person. Or is it because cobbler is more of an American thing? Anyway, after making the Southern Tofu dish I was in the mood for an appropriately southern dessert and cobbler jumped to mind. But, what is cobbler, exactly? Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I can tell, it is a mix of fruit and cake, baked into moist and syrupy goodness. In many way, it is like the pudding cakes I posted a while back. Peaches and blueberries are in season here (though not for long) so it was a perfect dessert.

- 4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
- 1/3 cup water (more if peaches are not that ripe)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I am sure WW pastry flour would work fine)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups soy milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract

- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Put peaches, sugar, and water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to bubbling, stirring regularly, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins.
2. While peaches are simmering, whisk together dry ingredients. Place 1/2 cup margarine in a 9 x 13 pan, then place in the oven to melt. Put wet ingredients into the dry and gently whisk until mostly smooth (like pancake batter).
3. Pour batter over the melted butter, but do not mix. Sprinkle blueberries over that, then spoon the peach mixture over that.
4. Bake for 40-45 mins, until top is golden and peaches are bubbling away happily. Serve while warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Southern Tofu on a Corn Cake

I can't help myself, I have made this twice already this week! It's really just a version of my Memphis BBQ Tofu, but with fresh garden ingredients that give it a more refined and delightful taste. It is sweet and sour with a touch of hot, and goes perfectly with the hearty and slightly sweet corn cake below. I served this with a side of greens and some fresh garden produce. The corn cakes are from the August 2010 issues of VegNews (anyone see me listed on the last page as a Top Ten blog?) and are only adapted slightly because I did not have all the ingredients.

Southern Tofu
- 1 pkg firm tofu, diced
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, small dice
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp mustard
- hot sauce to taste
- 1/4 cup ketchup (more as needed)
- salt to taste
- chopped parsley to garnish

Prepare tofu however you see fit. You could leave it raw, but I fry it up in a touch of oil over med-hi heat, turning regularly to get a nice golden colour on each side and to give it a more chewy texture.
1. Heat margarine and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10-12 mins, stirring regularly, until beginning to get golden on the edges. Add garlic and cook 1 min, then add green pepper and cook 2-3 mins, until starting to soften.
2. Add bourbon to the pan and mix well, letting it cook down a bit (just a min or two). Add brown sugar and bring to bubbling. Let cook for 2 mins.
3. Add vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, paprika, mustard, and hot sauce. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, and let simmer for about 5 mins, letting tomatoes cook down a bit. Add ketchup to thicken, and season to taste. Add tofu back to the pan and stir to coat. Cook a few mins to heat tofu back up and absorb some sauce. Serve over corn cake and garnish with parsley.

Corn Cakes
Makes 6
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water
- 1 tbsp canola oil

Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan over medium to med-hi heat
1. Whisk cornmeal, baking powder, flax, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add boiling water and mix until just moistened. Add canola and stir to incorporate. The batter will thicken a bit as the cornmeal absorbs more water, so add more water if needed.
2. Spoon equal portions of batter into the hot oil, and press into patties. (This is what the original recipe calls for, but I actually found it easier to wet my hands and pat the dough/batter into patties). Cook for 2-3 mins each side, until golden, then drain on paper.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Indian Potato Salad

I love potatoes and I love potato salad. Usually I go for a more traditional American salad with sweet pickles and plenty of mayo--perfect for summer. I also don't like too many crunchy bits in my salad (ixnae on the elerycae), a rule that I broke for this Indian inspired dish that is awesome warm or cold. This recipe also cuts back on the mayo by thinning it out with soy milk for a moist but not too runny potato salad.

- 1 lb white potatoes, peeled and halved
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and halved
- 2 tbsp oil
- 15 pearl onion, peeled and halved
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 green chile, seeded and minced (I used jalapeno, the only thing around)
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo (or use half yogurt)
- soy milk as needed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- salt pepper to taste

1. Get some salted water boiling and cook the potatoes. Since sweet potatoes cook faster than white, ad then in about 10 mins before the white potatoes are done cooking (they take 20-25 mins, usually).
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil over med-hi in a large frying pan. Add onions and saute for a few mins, letting the outsides get nice and brown. Keep stirring so they don't burn. Add garlic, ginger, and chile and mix well. Add mustard seeds and cook a few mins more (seeds should begin to pop). Add spices and mix well. Remove from heat.
3. Drain cooked potatoes and let cool until warm but not hot. Cut into cubes. Mix mayo into the onion mixture, then toss with the potatoes. Thin as needed with soy milk so potatoes are coated. Mix in cilantro, and season to taste.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thai Chickpea Curry with Thai Basil

Sorry for the radio silence, kids. I was on vacation and was very committed to relaxing and doing as little as possible. Now I am back and ready to blog! Anyway, about a month ago I bought a thai basil plant from the farmer's market and planted it in the garden. That night, the earwigs and/or slugs decimated the plant. I'll admit that I cried. But, for some reason, I never pulled it out. To my great delight, the basil rallied and is now a healthy and thriving plant. So, I had to put all those leaves to good use. This recipe is based on a dish from True Thai.

- 1 19 oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- red curry paste to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock (more if needed)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (I used an Asian mix of carrots, beans, mini corn, edamame and snow peas)
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves
- salt and white pepper to taste
- cooked jasmine rice

1. Pulse chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble very rough bread crumbs. Set aside.
2. Separate coconut cream from the watery part. Bring to bubbling in a large pot over medium high heat, then add pulsed chickpeas. Cook for 2 mins, stirring, then add curry paste and ginger, blending well.
3. Add the rest of the coconut milk and the stock and bring to bubbling. Add sugar, soy, and veggies and bring to bubbling again. Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are cooked. Add more stock if too thick. Season to taste.
4. Add basil and mix well. Let basil wilt a bit, but do not overcook. Serve over rice. I put the rice in a ring and pressed a depression in the centre so it could hold the sauce.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Finally Try Daiya

So I am about a year late to all the foofarah over Daiya cheese, but better late than never, I suppose. On my recent trip to New York I purchased some Daiya and tried it out the other night. If you care, here are my thoughts. First, it is the best vegan cheese I have had. That being said, I am starting to wonder if I really care about vegan cheese anymore. Let's face it, it's not really cheese and even though it does have some stretchiness, it more goopy than stretchy. As you can see from the pic, I totally overdid it with the cheese. I should have just sprinkled it on sparingly rather than drowning the fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, and basil from the garden. Still, if I could get it on a regular basis I would probably use it now and then, and I think it would go over well with non-vegan guests. My guess is that it would be pretty good in a lasagna, but that theory remains untested. I also have no delusions (as per the package) that this is some healthy cheese choice. Healthier than dairy cheese, I suppose, but it's still just salty fat. But, sometime I really like salty fat . . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bahn Mi

I love all kinds of street food because it is clean, simple, and unpretentious. Ethnic food is pretty hard to come by here in the North, but you can get by. Although you can't get a tomatillo anywhere in the city, canned or fresh, the selection of Asian groceries is not too bad. I have never dabbled in Vietnamese food at all, but this recipe in Vegetarian Times looked simple enough and I had the ingredients on hand (though I did not make it very spicy for the kids). I like the idea of a pickle or slaw to ratchet up a sandwich a couple of notches and will have to explore this concept more in the future.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Potato Rosemary Bread: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

This is one of my favourite new breads from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Potatoes make for a wonderfully soft bread with a chewy crust. The loaf has a beautiful golden colour (probably because I used Yukon Gold), and the rosemary is a nice addition because it is not overdone. In other words: perfection.

- none

- none

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Strawberry Syrup

I guess I am a little late with this post since strawberry season is over here, but I don't see why this recipe would not work with frozen (and then thawed) berries. We have been enjoying this syrup in endless glasses of lemonade, or with some simple syrup and club soda on ice. It is fairly potent and not too sweet. If you want it a bit thicker, just cook it for a little longer (but not too long or you will get jelly).
I just used my raspberry syrup recipe, subbing in crushed strawberries for the raspberries. It put the hot syrup in mason jars and sealed lots away for later.

Speaking of raspberries, we have a ton here in the backyard.
And even some wild blueberries! We have had some awesome pancake breakfasts lately.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday, Son # 3

Today is my youngest son's 4th birthday. We watched some old family videos of when he was a baby and I got a little teary seeing how fast he is growing up. He will be off to school in September and has developed so much since he was a tiny 5 lb preemie 4 years ago. Sniff. Here is the cake he wanted (you can get cake pans at the library), decorated in the colours he wanted. Not my finest work (and the cake pans kind of stifle creativity), but he did not care. Whilst on the phone to his grandparents he said, "my Dad is making my castle cake and I love it!" I love you too, little buddy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Baking on the BBQ

Well, the heat wave is over here, but before it ended I did more baking on the BBQ. I used the set up described here and made kaiser rolls and whole wheat bread in loaf pans. Everything turned out awesome, just as good as in the oven. They key is making sure your temperature is consistent, which is easily done by putting an oven thermometer in the BBQ. Also, I also put some water in the steam pan, even for bread in loaf pans, because the BBQ is a pretty dry heat.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thai Mushroom Soup

I made this soup a while ago (i.e. before the heat wave) but never got around to blogging it. It is actually quite good at room temp, so it is a good summer soup. It is based on a seafood soup recipe in a cookbook I have and I had every intention of using oyster mushrooms but there were none at the store. Turns out, plain ol' white mushrooms work really well, too. I also threw in some lobster mushrooms for colour and texture, but they are totally optional. So, once the heat breaks wherever you are, give this recipe a try.

- 2 1/2 cups veggie stock, or water
- 1" piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
- 3 limes leaves, sliced if fresh, crumbled if dried
- 2 stalks lemon grass, chopped
- 5 stalks cilantro
- 1 tbsp oil
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 16 oz mushrooms, chopped (white, oyster, etc., or a mix)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- green curry paste, to taste
- 1 14 oz can light coconut milk
- juice of 1/3 lime
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Put stock, ginger, lemon grass, and lime leaves into a pot. Strip leaves from cilantro and add the stalks as well. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat for 20 mins. Strain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, the saute shallots for 5-7 mins, until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are just releasing their water. Add strained stock to the pot, then add soy sauce and curry paste.
3. Add coconut milk and lime juice and mix well. Season to taste. Chop cilantro leaves and mix in. You can heat this up as much as you want before serving.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baking Bread on the BBQ

I know this will amuse my southern readers, but it is really hot here. By hot I mean 32 degrees celsius (90 F) and humid. We have no air conditioning, so it got pretty stuffy and hot inside. By keeping the windows shut we were able to keep the house at a balmy 26 degrees. That meant bread baking was out of the question even though we were down to our last slice. Then I thought, why can't I just bake it on the BBQ? Why not, indeed. It worked splendidly.

First, I removed the grill and placed a cast iron pan underneath for steam.
I then replaced the grill and put a clay dish on top to raise the baking stone off the grill a bit. This way the stone does not get too hot and burns the bottom of the bread before the loaf is done. You could also use metal cans or something else fireproof. Just make sure not to raise the stone too much--you need room for the bread to rise.
On top of the dish went the baking stone and a thermometer to get an accurate idea of the temp.
I made Reinhart's Italian Bread recipe then preheated the BBQ for about 15 mins to get the stone hot and to make sure I had a consistent temp around 450 degrees. I put the loaves on the stone and poured a cup of hot water into the pan below. I did not bother with spritzing the inside with water 3 times as I do with oven baking since I figured I would lose too much heat. Instead, I baked at 450 for 10 mins, rotated the loaves, then baked for another 12(ish). I kept an eye on the temp but tried not to fiddle too much (or lift the lid too much). The end result was perfect.