Monday, January 31, 2011

Quick and Easy Peach-Blueberry Turnovers

OK, so you spent all that time making the puff pastry, but now what? I like wrapping veggies and the like in the pastry for some kind of en croute creation like this, but I always save some dough to make some turnovers. I posted this recipe a while back, but since doing so I got my hands on a copy of Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking and I think this method makes for a nice golden and well-baked turnover. Also, after making puff pastry I am in no mood to mess around with complicated filling.

- puff pastry
- peach jam
- frozen blueberries
- soy milk for brushing

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. How much puff pastry you need depends on how many turnovers you want to make. 1/2 recipe of the puff pastry will make 8 turnovers. If you are making 8, roll the chilled dough into a 9x18 inch rectangle. If you are making 4, make a 9x9 inch square. Cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise to make 8 squares (or four).
2. Spoon a generous tablespoon of peach jam slightly off centre in each square. Top with a few blueberries. Fold over to make a triangle, then seal edges with a fork. Place on the prepared sheet, cover, and refrigerate for 30 mins.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When the turnovers are chilled, brush them with soy milk and sprinkle sugar over top (regular or large grain). Poke the tops with a fork a few times then bake for 20 mins. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for an additional 15 mins, or until golden and nicely puffed up.
4. Let cool for 15 mins in the pan, then serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Puff Pastry

This is the first of a series of posts on laminated doughs. The basic idea behind a laminated dough is to have alternating hydrophylic and hydrophobic layers that help create rise (or puff, in this case) when baked. Basically, the moisture trapped between the layers of fat cannot easily escape and so up goes the pastry. These posts are the result of me trying to improve my pastry skills and are experiments in the boundaries of vegan baking. I really just wanted to see if I could make these doughs with any success, so you are under no obligation to actually make them since they are rather high in fat. But, if you like a good challenge, then laminated dough will surely test your patience and skill. I have looked through a variety of puff pastry recipes and they are all basically the same, but I have pieced together some techniques that worked well for me. Here is what I did:

For the Dough
- 16 oz all purpose flour
- 4 oz cake and pastry flour
- 1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt (use less salt the more margarine you use for the block)
- 2 tbsp very cold Earth Balance margarine (not the whipped kind) or vegetable shortening
- 6 to 8 oz ice cold water

For the Margarine Block

- 16 oz very cold Earth Balance margarine (not the whipped kind), or up to a 50:50 mix of margarine and vegetable shortening
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour

1. First, make the dough. Mix the flour and salt together. Cut the butter into the flour, then add enough of the water to make a soft and smooth dough. It should not be sticky, but it should not be tough, so adjust accordingly. Knead until smooth (about 5 mins with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry mat and stretch/pat it into roughly a 12 inch square. Cover with plastic and refrigerate (I do the mat and all to make it easier) for an hour.
3. While the dough is cooling, make the margarine block. Place the margarine (or margarine/shortening mix) on a silicone mat or piece or parchment paper. Starting with your hands, but moving to a pastry scraper when the margarine gets sticky, work the margarine to make it pliable. If you are using a margarine/shortening mix, make sure it is well blended. Sprinkle the flour over top, then use the flat side of the pastry scraper to work it into the margarine. If the mixture gets too warm, stick it back in the fridge for a while and try again later. It is essential to keep everything cool or cold.
4. Lightly spray a piece of parchment paper with oil, then transfer the margarine flour mixture to it. Lightly spray the margarine with oil, then place a piece of cling wrap over top. Using your fingers, press the mixture into a 6 inch square, using the pasty scraper to square everything up perfectly. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
5. Now to laminate. The key here is to make as perfect a rectangle (or square) as possible, and to have your dough an even depth. The trick is to roll from the centre to the corners first, then along the length and width of the dough to even things up. So, remove the dough from the fridge, make sure the pastry mat is still lightly floured, and roll it into a perfect 12 inch square. Remove the cling wrap from the margarine and place margarine side down on a diagonal in the centre of the dough (i.e. it will look like a diamond in the centre of a square. Carefully peel off the parchment paper. Fold the corners into the centre to make an 8" square, make sure no air is trapper inside, and seal the seams. Take your time here, making sure each seam is carefully but firmly pinched together and completely sealed. If your margarine starts squirting out when you begin rolling the dough, all will be lost.
6. Turn the dough over so that the seams are on the bottom, and make sure your pastry mat is still lightly floured (the dough needs to slide on something so it does not stick and tear). Carefully roll the dough into a 24" x 8" rectangle. Do not press too hard or work the dough too fast. If it keeps shrinking back, let it relax for 5 mins and try again. Square everything up as perfectly as possible. Now, with the 8" side facing you, fold the bottom 1/3 up, then to top 1/3 down, like you are folding a letter. Cover in plastic and put back in the fridge for 30 mins. I like to do all this on the pastry mat so I have a rolling surface and a way to measure the dough.
7. After 30 mins, remove the dough from the fridge. Making sure the seam from the first fold is on your left, carefully roll the dough into another 24" by 8" rectangle. Fold exactly like you did before, and refrigerate for 30 mins. You want to repeat this so that you end up doing six folds in all (yes, this is going to take a while). You could stop at five and no one would notice. With every fold the dough will get more delicate so please be very careful! One errant poke of a thumbnail can tear the dough and ruin your lamination.
8. When all the folding is done, refrigerate the dough for a few hours, or up to overnight. You can also divide the dough in half or quarters, wrap tightly, and freeze for one month.

A NOTE ON MARGARINE: I had the best luck with Earth Balance baking sticks since they best approximate butter in firmness and performance. Softer spreadable margarine led to disaster because it squirted out from between the layers of dough. But, I also find that Earth Balance has a bit of a taste and so mixing it with a more neutral non hydrogenated vegetable shortening can help with that whilst making for a very flaky pastry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pressure Cooker Ethiopian Stew

Here is another quick and easy pressure cooker meal if you are looking for something warm and hearty after a day at work. I have put a range of 1 cup of water for this one--3 cups will get you a thick stew easily scooped up with injera, and 4 cups make it thinner and perfect for quinoa and the like.

- 2 cups yellow split peas, well-rinsed and drained
- 3 to 4 cups water
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 cup diced potato
- 2 cups sliced carrot
- 1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
- Berbere to taste
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- salt to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a pressure cooker and mix well. Test the broth to see if it is spiced to your liking, and adjust accordingly. Close lid and bring up to pressure over high heat. When pressure is reached, cook for 20 mins on low. Remove from heat and let pressure drop. Open lid, mix well, and serve.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hogwarts Tofu with Roasted Vegetables

Sorry for the delay in posting the last Harry Potter Party recipe. Getting ready for the beginning of a new term always takes more time than I think. So, the idea behind this recipe to create a "meat and potatoes" type of dish, the kind of thing Rowling always has Ron stuffing his face with, rendering his speech incomprehensible. As such, it had to have mashed potatoes as well as gravy, and a good dose of root vegetables. The end result was a total success: the texture of the tofu combined with the sweetness of the roasted vegetables and the creaminess of the mashed potatoes, all complemented by the earthiness of the sage. I will be making this one again even if I am not throwing the kids another Harry Potter Party.

- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced turnip
- 1 cup diced rutabaga
- 1 cup diced parsnip
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 head of garlic, unpeeled
- 1 tsp rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp thyme

- 1.5 lbs potatoes (or more if you want extra)
- margarine
- plain soy milk
- salt to taste

- 1 pkg tofu, cut into 8 slices
- margarine
- salt and pepper

- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 to 1 1/4 cup plain soymilk
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- rubbed sage to taste
- salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Drizzle olive oil over cut veggies (except garlic) and toss well with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic in foil and place on the pan. Roast veggies for 30-25 mins (flipping half way through), until tender but not mushy. Make sure they still have some bite. Toss with the herbs, then remove from pan to cool. NOTE: the garlic will only take about 15 mins (depending one the size of your cloves). Remove it from the oven, unwrap, and set aside and cool.
2. While veggies are cooking, peel potatoes and cook them to make mashed potatoes. Peel garlic and chop, then mash with the potatoes. Whip in margarine and soy milk until very smooth. Season to taste, then let potatoes cool a bit.
3. Season sliced tofu with salt and pepper then fry for 2-3 mins per side in a thin layer of margarine over med-hi heat until golden.
4. Make the gravy: melt margarine over medium heat, then stir in flour. Cook for 30 seconds, then slowly whisk in milk (start with one cup). Add soy sauce and sage, and season to taste (I like a really sagey gravy). Bring to bubbling, whisking constantly. Add more soy milk if you want a thinner gravy.
5. Transfer potatoes to a piping bag fitted with an open star tip. Using the same baking sheet you roasted the veggies on, start with a piece of tofu, press veggies into a 1/3 cup and top tofu, then pipe 6 mashed potato towers on top. Repeat with remaining tofu and veggies. Return pan back to the 450 degree oven for about 5-7 mins to reheat and allow the potatoes to get a little golden. Serve with gravy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Treacle Tart

Behold, part two the Harry Potter party recipes! I have never had treacle tart in my life and so I had no idea what I was getting into when the boys requested this English favourite for their party. It took me two tries to get the recipe right. I started with this recipe. My first mistake was glossing over the part of the recipe that called for fresh bread crumbs. I thought it was a little weird that the tart filling would use bread crumbs but, after cracking a few jokes about English cuisine, I charged ahead with regular ol' dried bread crumbs. Quelle disaster. The tarts baked up so hard you could sand the floor with them. My second mistake was using water in the shortbread crust--that makes it bake up like concrete. I then checked out this recipe. I thought the proportion of syrup to bread crumbs looked better in this recipe, but was dubious that it would make enough filling to fill a 9" crust. So, after much trial and error, here is my recipe (and it was really tasty).

Shortcrust Pastry
- 6¾ oz all purpose flour
- 3 oz icing sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5½ oz cold Earth Balance margarine

1. Sift flour, icing sugar, and salt into a bowl, then cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. Press 2/3rds of the mixture into a 9" pie pan, making about a 1" lip. Drizzle a few drops of oil over the remaining dough and press it into a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic, cover the pie plate in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 mins.
3. Preheat oven to 375. When crust has cooled, prick the bottom with a fork, line with aluminum foil, and fill with dried beans (or pie weights). Bake for 15- 17 mins, until just lightly golden. Remove beans (or weights) and parchment. If the bottom of the crust seems moist, return to the oven for 1-2 mins to dry out. Remove and let cool. Make the filling.

- 270g golden syrup (I used Lyle's)
- 150 g fresh bread white bread crumbs (I pulsed bread slices in the food processor)
- grated rind and juice of one lemon

1. Heat syrup in a saucepan over med-lo heat, until runny. Add breadcrumbs, lemon rind and juice, and mix well. Pour into cooled crust.
2. Roll out remaining crust in a lightly floured surface and make a lattice top. Protect pre-baked crust with foil, and bake for about 24 mins, until pastry is golden and filling is set. Serve warm.

I noticed that clotted cream is a popular addition to a slice of treacle tart. You could try this recipe. I did not have the required ingredients, so I whisked 1 tbsp of sugar into the cream scraped off the top of a can of coconut milk left in the fridge.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Vegan Mom came up with the great idea to make New Year's Eve a Harry Potter Day for the kids. We played Potter-related games, watched The Goblet of Fire, and ate Potter-inspired food. The kids had a blast and so did I, though I have a lot more sympathy for the house elves now. When we solicited the kids for food ideas, butterbeer was at the top of the list. The Googles pointed me to a variety of recipes, all similar in that they mixed some kind of butterscotch flavour or syrup with soda (usually cream soda). The recipe posted on this blog looked the best to me, though perhaps is the most complicated. Of course, it needed the appropriate veganizations. Here is what I did:

- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, cubed
- ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 can light coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon rum extract
- large bottle plain (i.e. not pink) cream soda (I used a 1.5 L of Fanta)

1. Place brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture reads 240F on candy thermometer.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When cool, mix in rum extract.
3. To serve: pour 2-3tbsp of the butterscotch mixture into the bottom of a small glass. Add in some cream soda and mix well. Top up with more cream soda. Then, pour about 2 tbsp of coconut milk down the back of a spoon on top.

VERDICT: This stuff will put you in a sugar coma in 2 seconds flat. The link above suggested using club soda, so you could try that. It's not exactly the warming beverage the books describe, but it's not bad. I did not use all the butterscotch syrup, but that's OK--it will be awesome over ice cream.

I also made pretzels that are supposed the be shaped like the deathly hallows symbol. Each pretzel is 3oz, brushed with some margarine after baking (450 for 15 mins), and sprinkled with a little kosher salt.