Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sheep-Lover's Pie

My guess is that if you love sheep you don't to grind up their bodies and eat them.  This recipe isn't supposed to precisely mimic shepherd's pie, but it certainly is reminiscent of it.  I like the fennel, even though I don't think it is a traditional ingredient for such pies, and the Dijon mustard and horseradish in the potatoes really complete the dish.  This recipe makes a lot, so either halve it, or invite a bunch of friends over.  I could also see adding some cranberries and roasted chestnuts and making this a holiday meal.

Mashed Potatoes
- 3.5 lbs potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- margarine to taste (I like 1/4 cup)
- soy milk to taste (I use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp large grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp horseradish
- salt, to taste

- 1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu, small dice
- 2 tbsp oil
- 4 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp each coriander, ground mustard, sage, parsley, tarragon, smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp mild chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce (or A1)
- 1/3 cup red wine

Veggie Mix
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups diced carrots
- 2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 2 cups finely sliced kale
- 2/3 cups white wine

Mashed Potatoes
1. Peel potatoes and garlic, then cut into chunks.  Boil until tender in salted water.  Drain, then mash until very smooth.  Add as much margarine and soy milk as you wish to make an easily spreadable mashed potato.  Stir in mustard and horseradish, then season to taste.  Set aside.

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over med-hi heat.  Add tofu and fry until golden on all side.  Add spices, and stir well to coat.
2. Add soy sauce, HP, and read wine and stir well.  When wine has reduced, remove from heat and set aside.

Veggie Mix
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Saute onions for 7-10 min, or until lightly golden and tender.  Add garlic and dry 1 min.
2. Add carrots, leeks, and kale and fry for 5 mins.
3. When kale and leeks have cooked down, add wine and let reduce.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Distribute tofu evenly on the bottom of a large, oven-proof, dish (somewhere in the 10.5 x 13.5" range).
2. Top with the veggie mixture.
3. Gently spread mashed potatoes on top.
4. Bake for about 35-40 mins, or until potatoes are golden.

Serve with tomato chutney, or this tomato-onion relish.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gluten-Free Yeast Donuts

Today I made donuts for my senior research seminar in American history.  Nothing takes the edge off having to present your research like some deep fried dough.  One of my students cannot have gluten so I ventured yet again into the world of yeasted but gluten-free dough.  After hunting around the interwebs, I settled on this recipe.  I liked that the main ingredients were weighed (more accurate), and the chemistry of the recipe made sense to me (baking soda and apple cider vinegar are standards in vegan baking).  It also seemed pretty easy to veganize.

So, here is what I did:
1. All-purpose flour: the recipe calls for Better Batter brand, which I do not have access to here.  Looking over the ingredient list I saw it it made of: Rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and potato four.  So, I made a mix of 1 cup rice flour, 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 2 tbsp potato starch, and 2 tbsp potato flour.  You can make up your own mix since it is the xanthan gum that binds everything together.
2. I used 2 tsbp vegan cream cheese for the egg, blending it into the milk mixture.  You could also use whizzed silken tofu.  Another time I might try ground chia seeds blended with some water.
3. I replaced the egg white with Ener-G "egg whites" as per the instructions on the box.  You might be able to omit this altogether, but I thought it might help the donuts rise a bit more.
4. I used vegetable shortening instead of unsalted butter.
5. I mixed the dough by hand and glazed them with this glaze.

The amazing thing about these donuts is that they actually do rise.  Not as high as a glutinous donut, but not too bad.  Also on the plus side is that they do not absorb much oil at all when deep fried.  They resemble an old-fashioned donut (i.e those cake-like ones) and aren't too dense.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Country Batard

In the wake of the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! giveaway, I thought I'd post a few bread recipes to get you on your way to some great lunches.  As you know from all my previous baking posts, I am very familiar with gluten-filled baking.  And, while I have always been intrigued with gluten-free baking and what methods can produce tasty loaves, I have never explored it in any detail.  I was really looking forward to Peter Reinhart's new gluten-free cookbook and had it on pre-order for quite a while.  I figured if anyone could crack to code of wheat-free baking it would be him.  I love all of his previous books and find his recipes very easily veganizeable (usually eggs serve to enrich the dough and little else, and thus are easy to replace).  Not so this time.  All the recipes rely heavily on eggs and egg whites to give the bread structure and rise.  So, while it is easy to replace an egg or two in some enriched dough, it's not so easy to replicate the role 8 eggs whites are supposed to play in a wheat-free loaf.  Le sigh.

So, I was excited to discover Jennifer Katzinger's Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread.  I ordered it right away.  Katzinger's basic baking theory is gluten-free bread does not need to rise like its glutinous counterpart.  Instead, these loaves rely on oven-rise to give them some spring and a lighter crumb.  I decided to make a loaf for an NDP dinner party for which I was providing a variety of baked goods.  This country batard seemed like it would be a crowd pleaser.  Here is the recipe, taken from the preview on Amazon.

Now, if you are a baker you might be wondering how you can bake a loaf for almost 2 hours at 425+ degrees and not have it turn into a burnt brick.  Well, the answer is you can't.  The first thing that struck me as I read through the recipes were the incredibly long baking times (as long as four hours!).  I was dubious, but plunged ahead.  After an hour things were smelling burnt so I removed the almost black loaf from the oven.  So, while I like how these loaves come together (some may question the amounts of tapioca and/or arrowroot), I am perplexed with how way off the baking times are.  Thankfully, she does say that a loaf that reaches 205 to 210 degrees is baked.  So, armed with my thermometer, I tinkered around and found the following baking times produced a pretty impressive loaf:
  1. 15 mins at 400.
  2. 15 mins at 350.  Rotate loaf in the oven then
  3. 15 mins at 350.

An hour less baking time?  Can that be right? Making the recipe a third time I accidentally added 1.5 cups of water.  It meant that I had to shape the loaf with extra flour, but the oven rise was better.  That is the loaf you see pictured above.  I also made the following changes:
  1. Ground the chia seeds.
  2. Used warm water for the yeast--I could not get it to activate in room temp water.
  3. Added the oil after the yeast had activated.
I also made the Soft Millet Sandwich Bread and the Quinoa Sandwich Bread.  Again, the baking times are a bit mysterious.  The two loaves are essentially the same ingredients and the same wet to dry ratio.  And yet, the Millet Bread is supposed to bake for 1 hour 45 mins, and the Quinoa Bread for 2 hours and 30 mins at 350.  I found that an hour sufficed. 

So in the end I am not sure what to make of this book.  The basic ideas seem good, but the recipes are unreliable. But, if you have some baking sense, the end product can be tasty and not too dense.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone for entering the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! giveaway.  I really enjoyed reading all of the comments.  Some of you are new vegans, some have been at this for a while, some busy and in need of a quick meal, some with kids, some with vegan partners, or with non-vegan partners who need convincing, some are young, some more . . . mature.  It really is amazing to see the great diversity of the vegan community.  You are all hippie weirdos, of course, but each in your own way.

270 people entered the giveaway.  The random number generator spit out the number 61, so the winner is Kelsey Marcus who wrote, "Looks like a great book! I would love to learn about making "topless" sandwiches! ;)."  Congratulations, Kelsey!  Please email me at vegandadDOTblogspotATgmailDOTcom and I will get the book headed your way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Giveaway!

Hey kids!  It's a giveaway!

That's right!  You can win your very own copy of Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes' fabulous new cook book Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!  I was first got acquainted with this project when Tami contacted me seeking permission to use the "steam, then bake" method of my veggie lunch meat.   I said yes, of course, since sharing recipes and methods is what the vegan blog community is all about (after all, the veggie lunch meat itself was a version of Julie Hasson's sausages).  So, there I am on p. 183 with a "huge thanks" from the authors (the nod to Julie Hasson is on the previous page).  I reviewed Tami's previous cookbook back in 2010, and I emailed back and forth with Celine back when I first started my blog.  So, every though we have never met in person, I feel like I am sharing in the great success of some good friends.

The first thing that strikes you about this book is the art.  Celine took all the photos and they are perfection.  Combined with Debbie Berne's book and cover design, the book is a visual feast.

As you can see from the table of contents, Celine and Tami have redefined what "sandwich" means.  Turns out, you can eat sandwiches for every meal of the day!  You could start with Berry-Stuffed French Toast Pockets for breakfast, eat a Ratatouille Sandwich for lunch, move on to Chickpea Shawarma for dinner, and end the day with Oreo Wafflewiches.  Yes, please!

The book also has the basics covered, from bread (I would have liked to see more recipes, but I know baking scares many people off), to several veggie meats.  Scattered throughout the book are various dressings, spreads, pates, and toppings.  There really is something for everyone here.

Residents of Canada and the U.S. only, please.
To enter, leave a comment about the book in the comment section below by 6:00 pm EST November 12.  One entry per person.  Each entry will be assigned a number, and the winner chosen by a random number generator.  Good luck!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Apple Galette

One last Thanksgiving recipe!  I can post this one late because it is really easy, but tastes and looks great.  I started making these in order to use up the extra dough left over from making multiple pies at a time.  So, if you have some dough left over from making pot pies, and still need a dessert, make one of these and top it off with pumpkin ice cream (sans candied pepitas tastes best in this scenario, I think).

- 1/2 recipe pie dough
- 3 large cooking apples (I like Granny Smith for this one)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp margarine

1. Make the dough as per the recipe.  Roll out on a floured surface into a 12-14 inch circle.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Peel the apples.  Chop in half, from stem to flower end.  Remove stem and flower ends.  Use a melon baller to carefully remove seeds/cores.  Use a paring knife to thinly slice the apple halves, keeping all the slices together.
3. Place an apple half in the centre of the dough.  Fan slightly.  Place other halves around the centre apple and fan.  Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples.

4. Mix together sugars and spices. Sprinkle over apples.  Dot with margarine. Gather dough up into the centre (trim edges first if you like).

5. Place galette in the fridge for 20-30 mins so the dough can firm up.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack on the bottom third of the oven.
6. Bake for about 45 mins, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tofu Pot Pie

I post something like this every Thanksgiving.  There is something about the crisp weather and fall colour that makes me want to put vegetables in a crust.  I mean, look at this scenery!
Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner so I wanted to post this recipe right away.  I love individual pot pies (as previous posts will attest) and I think this recipe delivers more of a vegan comfort food punch than any of my previous posts. It does make 9 pies, which is great if you are having a bunch of people over for dinner.  You can also freeze unbaked pies and bake them up later as needed as per these directions.

Makes nine 4.5 inch deep dish pies
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
- 1 pkg tofu, small dice
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp poultry spice
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup hot water (from cooking veggies above)
- 1 cooking apple, shredded
- 1 cup peas
- salt and pepper to taste

- 2 cups small diced potatoes
- 1 cup small diced carrots
- 1 cup small diced butternut squash
- 1 cup chopped yellow beans

- 1.5 recipe pie dough, minus the sugar
- nine 4.5 inch deep dish aluminum pie plates

1. Get a large pot of salted water boiling.
2. Melt margarine in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Saute onion, garlic and celery for 10 mins, until a nice golden brown.  Add mushrooms and fry for another 3 mins.  Add tofu and fry for 2 mins.  Sprinkle flour over and mix/fry for another 2 mins.
3. Add spices, then slowly add soy milk and stir well.  Mixture will thicken.
4. Meanwhile, add potatoes, carrots, squash, and beans to the boiling water.  Boil for about 5 mins, or until potatoes and carrots are slightly tender.  Remove from water (but save the water) and add to tofu mixture.  Slowly mix in 1 cup of the water you used to boil the veggies.  Add shredded apple and peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.  Let mixture fully cool in the fridge.
5. While mixture is cooling, make your pie dough.  Roll out slightly more than half of the dough (for the bottom crusts) and cut to fit the pie plates your are using.  Make sure to cut a big enough circle to leave you some overhang.  Fill each crust with cooled filling.  Roll out remaining dough for the top crusts and seal as you would any pie.  Poke some vent holes in the top.
6. Place pies in the fridge to cool down and firm up.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with your rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven.
7. Bake for 45-60 mins, or until filling is bubbling and crust is golden.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas

Just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving comes this delicious ice cream that is filled with fresh pumpkin, and is lightly sweet and subtly spiced.  The creaminess and smoothness of the ice cream is complemented nicely by the sugary crunch of the candied pepitas.  The recipe for the pepitas comes courtesy of Isa--it is her sugared walnuts recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Thanks, Isa! The kids were not crazy about the seeds, so you can make it without them if you like.

Pumpkin Ice Cream
- 2 cups diced pumpkin
- 1 cup soy milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cloves
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup soy milk
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Candied Pepitas
- 1 cup raw pepitas
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4.5 tbsp maple syrup
- pinch of salt

Ice Cream
1.  Place pumpkin, soy milk, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and bring to bubbling.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves and discard.  Add coconut milk, sugars, and nutmeg.  Blend smooth with an immersion blender, or in a blender.  Return to medium heat, stirring constantly.
3.  Whisk corn starch into the 1/3 cup of soy milk.  When pumpkin mixture is steaming, slowly add cornstarch mixture.  Keep stirring until mixture just begins to bubble.
4. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla.
5. Let completely cool in the fridge, then make as per the directions suited to your ice cream maker.  Fold in the candied pepitas at the last moment, then fully chill in the freezer before serving.

Candied Pepitas
1. Preheat oven to 275.  Lightly grease a piece of parchment paper.
2. Toast pepitas on a baking sheet for 8 mins, stirring the pepitas after 4 mins.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. Put sugar, maple sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to bubbling over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Continue stirring for another 3 to 4 minutes, until thick and a deep amber brown.  Remove from heat and stir in pepitas.
3. Spread pepitas on the prepared parchment.  When cool, separate as best you can into individual seeds.  Place in the freezer until ready to go into the ice cream. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roasted Curry Cauliflower

Kids, your mom is going back work so things are going to be different around here.  My parents said something like this to me and my brothers when I was 12 year old.  And, with Vegan Son #1 ready to hit twelve in December, we just said it to our kids.  Vegan Mom has gone back to school to pursue her MEd and PhD in Education.  Needless to say, things have changed in our household.  With time at a premium we need to be more efficient in our meal planning.  We need to start thinking about making some meals ahead and freezing them, and creating quick but nutritious dinners.  So many people have commented on this blog about where I find the time to cook.  Well, now I know what they were talking about.  We have 4 kids in 3 different schools, plus gymnastics and swimming lessons.  When my mom went back to work she would leave simple instructions for us kids on how to make dinner.  This is when I first started to cook.  I am hoping to do something similar with Vegan Son #1 and pass down a love of food to the next generation.

This recipe is pretty easy and makes the house smell great.  Spice how you prefer--a pre-made curry powder even.

- 1 cauliflower, cut into large pieces
- 1 sweet onion, thickly sliced
- olive oil
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Put cauliflower and onion slices in large bowl.  Drizzle with some olive oil (1-2 tsp) and toss to coat.  Mix spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over cauliflower.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread out on the baking sheet.
3. Loosely cover the baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 mins.  Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 mins, or until cauliflower is tender and browned.
4. Drizzle lemon juice over the cauliflower and serve. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lattice Top (and other Ways to Make a Funky Pie)

Last pie post (for now!).  I had a great deal of fun exploring the world of pastry, and I mean to do it again when the crisp autumn weather demands that I bake something savoury in a crust.  As I mentioned in my last post, fruit pies follow a pretty standard formula.  And, once you have your crust down, you are off to the races.  With the basics perfected you can work on making your pies as pretty as possible.  That's what this post is all about.

A lattice top is a great idea for juicy pies like peach and cherry, and it will impress all your friends.
1. Roll out the dough for the top crust into a square, large enough to cut into at least 16 strips of about 1/2" width (for a 9" pie).  Cut into strips with a knife or a pastry cutter.
2. Lay 8 strips across the pie, leaving some space in between.  Fold back every other strip halfway (i.e. strips 2,4,6,8).  Lay one of your remaining eight strips across the middle of the pie, perpendicular to the first eight strips.  Return the folded back strip to their original position.
3. Now, fold back the strips you didn't fold back the first time (i.e. strips 1,3,5,7) back and lay a new strip down to the right of the one you laid in step 2.  Fold back the strips.
4. Repeat, laying strips all the way to the right, and then to the left of the strip in step 2 until the pie is covered.
5.  Trim the strips with some overhang and fold under the bottom crust as per usual, or trim flush and press into the bottom crust to seal.

Alternately, cut circles of dough and make them into a top crust, brushing a little water on the bottoms of any pieces that overlap so that they seal with the dough beneath them.

Dough scraps can easily be rolled into leaves (brush bottoms with water to seal). A brushing of soy milk and some coarse sugar make a nice topping for a cherry pie.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lemony Blueberry Pie (and how to bake a frozen pie)

Another pie?  Yes!  Pie and pastry seem daunting, but with a little practice (tasty, tasty, practice!) they are rather easy.  Here are 2 few things I have learned along the way:
1. Keep everything really cold.  I like the method of freezing the shortening for 30 mins or so and then grating it into the flour.  I usually then stick the whole bowl of  flour/shortening into the freezer for 15 mins or so before adding the cold water and bringing the dough together.
2. Filling fruit pies is basically the same.  4-5 cups of fruit to 3-4 tbsp of some thickening agent (cornstarch, tapioca), ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice, and spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger).  Juicier fruit like peaches and strawberries do well with a 50/50 cornstarch/tapioca mix.

Lemons and blueberries are a perfect match, and this pie is bursting with the flavours of both.  You can use unthawed frozen blueberries if you don’t have fresh, making this a perfect pie to make year-round.

- 1 recipe pie dough, as per this recipe
- 4 cups blueberries
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon

1. Make and roll out pie dough as per this recipe.
2. Gently toss blueberries with the lemon juice.
3. Whisk sugar and cornstarch together, then mix in lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon.  Gently toss with blueberries and fill pie shell.
4. Add top crust, cut steam vent, and refrigerate for 30 mins, or until pie has firmed up.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees then bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for about an hour, or until the filling is bubbling all over and the crust is golden.  Add about 15 mins for frozen berries. 

If you want to make a pie and save it for later, I think they taste best if they are put in the freezer, unbaked in a freezer bag, and then baked up later.  Here’s how to do it:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack on the bottom shelf.  Wrap the edge of the pie crust in a strip of aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 375 degrees.  From here it will take another 45 to 60 minutes to finish the pie.  Juicier pies (like peach) will take the longest.  Remove the foil for the final 15 mins of baking to brown everything up nicely.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Berry Pie

My backyard has been berry central this summer.  While the blueberries had a tough time, the raspberry canes yielded their usual bumper crop and the wild blackberry canes I transplanted from the cottage four years ago have finally established themselves and are producing at a phenomenal rate.  It seemed only right to make a pie.

- 1 recipe pie dough
- 6 cups mixed summer berries (I did equal parts raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- pinch nutmeg (optional)

1. Make the pie dough as per the recipe in the link above.
2. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch.  Gently mix with the berries in a large bowl.  Place in pie shell and attach top shell, as per the linked recipe above.  Cut some steam holes. Refrigerate for 30 mins, or until firm.
3.  While pie is chilling, heat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Bake for about an hour, or until filling up bubbling.  Let completely cool before serving.

Monday, August 6, 2012

When Things go Horribly Awry (but are still tasty)

Behold sweet failure.  I have been interested in all things pastry these days and this was an attempt to make an Italian almond tart.  The original recipe called for eggs, and I thought 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tbsp of vegan cream cheese would do the trick to firm up the filling.  Boy was I wrong.  The tart shell was perfect and everything was going just great.  Then the baking.  Instead of firming up in the oven the filling liquified and boiled over.  Luckily, I had ignored Vegan Mom's advice to put a baking sheet under the tart (just in case).  As smoke billowed out of the oven I knew I had hours of scrubbing ahead of me.  The funny thing is we ate the tart anyway.  My niece and nephews and kids all thought it was great.  And, despite it looking like an almond bomb had gone off, I thought it tasted great too.  Back to the drawing board . . . .

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Creamed Kale

A simple but remarkably tasty dish.  3 out of 4 kids freaked out just at the sight of the kale.  The other one ate 3 servings.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped (around 4 cups)
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 1/4 cups cashew cream (more if needed)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over med heat.  Saute onion and garlic for a few mins, until translucent, being careful not to burn.
2. Add kale and a bit of salt and sauté for a few mins, until vibrant green and slightly wilted.
3. Add wine and cook, uncovered, for about 5-7 mins, until liquid is reduced and kale is tender.
4. Add cashew cream and mix well.  Cook for 2-3 mins until cream is thickened.  Add more if you want creamier kale.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Birthdays and Cake

Throughout the year I post several pictures of the cakes I make for the kids' birthdays, and throughout the year many of you lament that you wish you could decorate cakes just as well.  The truth is: you can!    Decorating cakes (at least the ones I do) takes a bit of skill, but it's mainly about having a steady hand and an almost infinite amount of patience.  While I prefer designing my own cakes, more often than not I end up using a Wilton cake pan.  You can rent them from our local bulk food stores, or sign them out of the library.  These pans are really made for the home baker, so decorating them is pretty easy (and you can download .pdf instructions from the link above).  Basically, you just need the time to do hundreds of little icing stars, usually with the #16 tip.  Above is the cake that Son #1 made me for my birthday yesterday.

So, what about recipes for cake?  And icing?  Although it's not perfect (a little too dense, I think) I have had the best results using Isa's cupcake recipe (chocolate or vanilla).   I have also used this recipe, but find the end result to be rather tough and chewy.  Also, the measurements are annoying when doubling or tripling (or I just hate math).  A double to triple batch will work in the shaped pans, and 40-50 mins baking time.  Just make sure to follow the instructions re: preparing the pan.

On to the icing.  I use buttercream frosting which is made exactly the same way as its non-vegan counterpart with the exception of subbing margarine (Earth Balance) for butter.  I usually use half the liquid and make a stiffer icing that will keep its shape even in the hot days of summer.  I colour the icing with Wilton Icing Colours.  The company assures me that their "icing colors are plant based and vegan."  I like the gels because they are concentrated (a little goes a long way) and they don't thin down your icing.  Here is the Hello Kitty cake I made for Vegan Daughter's birthday.

For birthday dinner I signed The Conscious Cook out of the library and made the Summer Chopped Salad
and Pine Nut and Basil Seared "Chicken" with Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc, Braised Kale and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.
I loved the salad, especially the peppery bite of the arugula with the creaminess of the avocado.  I usually don't eat a slab of veggie meat like this (you could just as easily use tofu), but the recipe looked really good.  I think I pulsed the pine nuts too much for the breading, and my sauce broke (as you can see) but overall everyone loved the dish.  The sauce together with the kale and potato was delightful.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Tart

 Summer has once again blessed us with her bounty.  The backyard has yielded an abundance of raspberries, and strawberry picking is winding down after a great season.  Vegan Son #1 and I collaborated on this dessert.  He helped make the pastry cream and designed the layout of the fruit for the top of the tart.  I made the dough.  The trick with the pastry dough is to be patient and gentle when bringing it together.  Only use as much water as is necessary--too much will make for a harder final product. 

Tart Dough
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine (1 baking stick)
- 200g (1.25 cups) cake and pastry flour (or all purpose)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp vegan cream cheese
- 3 tbsp ice cold water (more if needed)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place margarine in the freezer for 30 mins.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour and sugar in a medium bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, water, and vanilla until smooth.  Place in fridge until needed.
3. Grate cold margarine into the flour and gently work with your fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs (it should not take too long).  Add cream cheese mixture and use a fork to bring together into a dough.  Add a few drops of water if needed.
4. Immediately roll out into a 12 inch circle on a floured surface and transfer to a 9.5 inch tart pan.  Gently press dough into the bottom of the pan and trim to allow 1/2 inch overhang.  Fold overhang back into the pan and press into the sides.  Refrigerate until firm (30 mins).
5. While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Cover dough with foil and half fill with dried beans.
6. Bake for 20 mins, then lift up foil to see if crust is light golden and no longer wet.  Return to oven for a few mins if it is not.  When crust if light golden and dry, remove foil and beans and bake for another 5-10 mins, or until golden.  Allow to fully cool on a wire rack.

Summer Tart
- 1 tart shell (above)
- 1 recipe pastry cream, cold
- summer fruit of your choice (halved strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries is what I used)
- 1/3 cup apricot jam

1. Remove tart shell from pan and place on a serving dish.  Fill with pasty cream and smooth.  Top with fruit.
2. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until runny.  Strain out chunks then brush fruit with the jam to glaze.  If jam gets too sticky, just return to heat until it is runny again. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Strawberry Pie

Sorry for the lack of posts, kids, I have been very busy with research and writing this summer.  I had great success at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and am getting ready for a conference in Baltimore (do any SHEAR members read this blog?) and a stint at the Library of Congress.  I am glad that I was back home for the last week of strawberry season.  Of course, that meant strawberry pie!  Last year I made a Glazed Strawberry Pie with Shortbread Crust (which is fabulous), but this year I wanted to try my hand at a more traditional pie.  I would like to improve my pastry skills, so this was an experiment in ingredients and method to produce a flaky crust and a gooey but not runny filling.

Pie Dough (makes two crusts)
- 2.5 cups (400g) all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
- 6-8 tbsp ice cold water

- scant 5 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
- 2 tbsp instant tapioca
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar

1. Place shortening and margarine in the freezer for 30 mins.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Prepare the filling by whisking together tapioca, cornstarch, and sugar, and then gently tossing with the strawberries to coat.
3. Grate shortening and margarine into the flour.  Gently work into the flour with your fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs (it should not take long).
4. Mix in enough water with a fork to bring together into a dough.  Don't over mix.
5. Divide dough in half and shape into two discs.  Immediately roll one out on a floured surface into at least a 12 inch circle and transfer into a 9" pie pan, trimming it to leave 3/4" of overhang.  Add filling and shape into a dome.
6. Roll out top crust on a floured surface and lay over top, trimming to leave 1" overhang.   Fold top crust overhang under bottom crust overhang and press to seal.  Crimp or flute the edge as you see fit.  Cut designs into the top crust to allow steam to escape, refrigerate the pie for about 30 mins, or until the crust has firmed up.
7.  While pie is chilling, heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until crust is golden both top and bottom and the filling is bubbling.  Let cool before serving.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Smoked Tofu Pizza

This is my favourite new pizza.  It's kind of a version of Pizza Alla Pugliese, a sauceless pizza with smoked cheese.  Instead, I use smoked tofu (another new favourite thing) and Daiya.  I'm usually not the biggest fan of too much ye olde vegan cheese on pizza, but this particular combo strikes me as delicious.  Use as much or as little as you see fit.  

- sweet onion, halved and sliced
- smoked tofu, grated
- Daiya 
- olive oil

1. Saute onions over med-hi heat in some olive oil until lightly browned.  Place as much onion as you see fit on a pizza crust, top with as much grated smoked tofu and Daiya as you like.  Drizzle some olive oil over the toppings.
2. Bake on a pizza stone at 500 degrees until crust is done.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ancho Corn Chowder

Every time we have Mexican food I make some kind of corn soup.  There have been many variations over the months, but this is the one that I think is blog-worthy.  Here's why: 1. the ancho chiles provide some heat (add more if you like it hotter), colour, and wonderful flavour.  2: cilantro root!  I hope your grocery store sells cilantro with the root still on because it totally makes this soup (unless you hate cilantro, then forget it).  The roots packs all the flavour of the leaves but with a little more earthiness, and without adding green to a red soup.  3. Tomatoes: I've always loved tomatoes and corn together--I still make corn as a side dish when I serve pasta marinara because I loved it as a kid.  I used the chopped tomatoes I had frozen from the garden last summer and they worked perfectly.  Use fresh corn if you have it, but frozen works too.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 sweet onions, diced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 8 cilantro roots, well-scrubbed, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2-3 dried ancho chiles
- 2.5 cups chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups veggie broth, or water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 cups corn, divided
- 1/4 cup soy creamer (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat.  Saute onions, celery, cilantro roots, and garlic for 5 mins, or until onions start to get translucent.  Stem chiles and rip into large pieces into the pot (seeds and all).  Saute for another 5 mins.
2. Add tomatoes, broth, sugar, and 2 cups of the corn.  Bring to bubbling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 mins, or until tomatoes well-cooked and breaking apart..
3. Blend mixture very well in a blender (in batches) or with an immersion blender right in the pot.  Make as smooth as possible.
4. Return mixture to the pot over medium heat and add remaining 2 cups of corn.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook until corn is soft.
5. Remove from heat and stir in creamer.  Serve.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lemongrass Ice Cream with Pineapple Compote

This was the final dish for the Thai inspired dinner party I threw yesterday (I will blog about that another day).  The lemongrass adds a nice finish to this basic vanilla ice cream recipe, and is not overpowering.  A bite starts off creamy and slightly sweet, and ends with that refreshing trademark scented tang.

Ice Cream
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 400 ml can coconut milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp corn starch or arrowroot powder
- 1 cup soy milk
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract

Pineapple Compote
- 1 pineapple
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime

Ice Cream
1. Trim lemon grass stalks and slice lengthwise down the centre.  Bruise the stalks by bashing them with a rolling pin, then cut into whatever size will fit into your saucepan.  Add coconut milk, sugar, and salt and place over medium heat.  Bring it to just bubbling, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 mins, or until lemongrass is wilted and translucent.
2. Strain coconut mixture through a fine sieve to remove lemongrass.  If needed, add more coconut milk or soy milk to make 3 cups.  Return to saucepan over medium heat.
3. Whisk cornstarch or arrowroot powder into the 1 cup of soy milk to dissolve, then whisk into coconut milk mixture.  Bring to just bubbling, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
4. Let mixture fully cool in the fridge before making it into ice cream as per the instructions for your machine.

Pineapple Compote
1. Trim and core the pineapple and cut into 1/2" chunks.
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add margarine and when melted, add pineapple.  Cook for about 15 mins, stirring regularly, or until the pineapple begins to lightly brown.   (The pineapple will release its juice, that will cook down, and then the pineapple will start to brown up.)
3.  Add sugar and lime juice to the pan and cook/stir for 1 min, making sure the pineapple is nicely glazed.  Serve warm with the ice cream.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Onion Bhajias

These are a wonderful start to any Indian-themed dinner party.  They look fantastic and taste even better!  This is very much like other bhajia and pakora recipes out there, but I like the addition of the fennel seed, and the baking powder makes for a more tender final product.  Feel free to add whatever combination of spices you like.

- 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced (about 1/8")
- 1 cup chick pea flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp onion seeds
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- cold water
- oil for frying

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, chili powder, turmeric, and salt.  Roughly crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle and mix in.
2. Add jalapeño, onions, and cilantro and stir to coat.  Add in enough cold water to make a thick batter that coats the onions and won't break apart in the oil.  You can add more chick pea flour if you make it too thin.
3. Cook in batches by dropping generous tablespoons of batter into hot oil (350 degrees) and frying on each side until golden brown.  Drain and serve immediately.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegan Challah

Oh, my.  Has it really been a month since my last post?  Yikes!  Let me also apologize for my negligence responding to your questions in the comment section of the blog.  If you have an outstanding question on an old post, just fire me an email (see the sidebar on the right).

Today's post is this delicious vegan challah.  I've never had non-vegan challah, so I am blissfully unaware if this measures up to its egg-filled counterpart.  I do know, though, that this is a remarkably tender and delicious (and beautiful) loaf.  According to my Jewish friend, the recipient of one of the loaves, "you'd never know there were no eggs in this!"  Basically, the eggs in challah work to enrich the dough.  The yeast and flour provide rise and structure, so replacing the eggs is not a big deal.  I went with Tofutti cream cheese, because that is what I had on hand, but you could also use soy yogurt or whizzed silken tofu.  As per usual, this is a veganized Peter Reinhart recipe.  Just a word of warning: this makes 2 substantial loaves.  Cut in half if you don't have the fridge space for a huge bowl of dough (or if you don't want that much challah).  You don't have to refrigerate it, of course, but it makes for a much tastier dough and makes the dough easier to work with.

- 18 oz (510g/2.25 cups) lukewarm water
- 1.5 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 oz (56.5g/1/4 cup) warm water
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 4 oz (113g/1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese, or soy yogurt, or whizzed silken tofu
- 2.5 oz (71g/5 tbsp) oil
- 3 oz (85g/6 tbsp) sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 34 oz (964g/7.5 cups) white bread flour
- 2.5 tsp salt
- plain soy milk, for brushing
- poppy and sesame seeds, for garnish

1. Pour water into a mixing bowl, then sprinkle yeast over top.  Whisk to dissolve.
2. Whisk the flax seed, the 1/2 cup of water, and turmeric in a medium separate bowl.  Let sit for a few mins to thicken, then whisk again. Add cream cheese (or whatever you are using) and whisk until smooth.  Then add oil and whisk until smooth.
3. Add flax mixture to the yeast/water mixture.  Add sugar, extract, flour, and salt then bring together into a rough dough.  Let sit for 5 mins to let the flour absorb the liquid.
4. Mix with a dough hook on med-lo speed for 4 minutes, or with by hand with a large, wet, spoon.  Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 mins, until you get a very soft and tacky (but not sticky) dough.  Add flour sparingly as needed.  Place dough into a very large, oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  The dough will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge and will rise like crazy.
5. On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and immediately divide into 10 equal pieces on a lightly floured surface (i.e. 5 pieces for each loaf).  Roll each piece into a 14 inch rope with tapered ends.  Braid 5 ropes into a loaf, as per this video.  Repeat with remaining 5 ropes.
6.  Place loaves on a baking tray (or two smaller trays if they can both fit on one shelf in your oven) lined with parchment.  Brush loaves with soy milk (I actually mist them with a spray bottle filled with soy milk).  Let sit for 2 mins, then brush again.  Top with seeds.  Let sit, uncovered, for 1 hour (or until risen about 1.5 times in size).
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When loaves have risen, bake on the middle shelf for 20 mins.  Rotate the pan, then bake for another 15-20 mins (or until loaves are golden brown and register at least 190 degrees in the middle.
8.  Cool on a wire rack for 45 mins before slicing.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pizza Dough

This weekend the Vegetarian Society from the university is coming to my house to make pizza and watch Supersize Me.  So, I thought I would post a wee video about how to make great pizza crust.  As always, the recipe is Reinhart's, more precisely his Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough.  You can check out the ingredient list on p. 67 of the Google Books preview of Artisan Breads Every Day.  I like to make a 1.5x recipe to make 4 large pizzas for our Friday movie nights with the kids.  I use a stand mixer, but Reinhart assures us that a strong wooden spoon will also work to mix and work the dough.  This recipe has two key elements of a fantastic dough: overnight fermentation for flavour, and high hydration for a chewy and crispy crust.  I really think that a pizza stone is crucial here--they aren't that expensive and are indispensable for all kinds of hearth baking.  Vegan Daughter helped me with the dough, as you will see. Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thai Fishless Sauce

It's been a long time since I've tasted fish sauce, but I think this simple recipe does a nice job rounding out a Thai curry with a salty taste o' the sea.  I'm guessing it's actually nothing like fish sauce but I think it works better than soy sauce or hoisin sauce.  You could use any mixture of seaweed, I think, but I went with nori because it is more readily available at grocery stores what with sushi's popularity.

Makes 1 cup
- 2 sheets nori, crumbled
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 cup boiling water

1. Place all ingredients in a blender (or in a container and use a hand blender).   Let sit for 5 mins, then blend until smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve.  Store in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baked Yeast Donuts

This weekend's experiment was to see if I could make a baked yeast donut that was as tender and tasty as its deep-fried counterpart.  The baked donut recipes I have seen all involve a donut pan and a batter (as opposed to a dough), but I wanted to go for the classic yeast donut.  I do have a donut pan that I have yet to try out (sorry, Tina.  I swear I will get around to it!), but I suspect such pans are not a common kitchen commodity.  The trick was to find the right method that would bake the donut without it developing a crust. The end result was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  Not as tender as a deep-fried donut (and, of course, lacking that wonderfully crispy outside), but still very tender and delicious.  Of course, the recipe is not fat-free (I'll leave that to more capable hands) but it certainly is fat reduced without the frying.  The ingredients are the same as the original, but I simplified the method a bit.

Makes at least 12 donuts
- 3/4 cups soy milk
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 1/4 oz vegetable shortening
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 11.5 oz all purpose flour

1. Heat soy milk, water, shortening, salt, and sugar in the microwave, or on the stove, stirring regularly until shortening melts. Whisk in flax, then whisk in yeast.  Let sit a few minutes, then whisk again until smooth.
3. Put flour in a large bowl and add soy milk mixture. Mix together into a rough dough, then knead for about 5 mins until smooth, adding more flour or more water as needed.  The dough should be very soft and slightly tacky, but not sticky.  Aim for a moister dough than usual for a more tender final product. 
4. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about 60 mins, until doubled in size.
5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly mist with oil.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly oiled surface to about 3/8" thick. Cut out donuts with a donut cutter (see pic above).  Dough scraps (and holes) can be re-rolled and cut. Place on prepared baking sheets (6 per sheet) and cover. Let rise for 1/2 hour, or until just about doubled in size.
7. Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in the middle.   Bake donuts one sheet at a time.  Place one sheet on top of another (i.e. you are baking the donuts on two sheets--this will insulate the donuts and keep the bottoms from getting too brown) in the oven and reduce the heat to 425 degrees.  Bake for 5 mins, then gently turn donuts over.  Bake for another 3 minutes.  Donuts should be lightly golden (see below).  Return heat to 500 degrees before baking the second sheet as above (but make sure the second sheet is new/cold).
8.  Let cool, then glaze.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hoagie Rolls

This is a pretty simple recipe that yields 10 incredibly tasty rolls perfect for your lunch-time sandwich, or a classic Philly cheese steak (vegan, of course).  Refrigerating the dough overnight helps develop flavour and it can stay in the fridge for up to four days.  You can bake them up all at once, or half the recipe at a time so you are not overloaded with rolls.  You can also freeze extra rolls and use them when needed.

- 5 1/3 cups/24oz/680g white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1.5 tsp barley malt syrup (optional)
- 1 cup/8oz warm water
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp/5oz warm soy milk
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baked Mini Corn Dogs

Son #1 wanted corn dogs for lunch this week.  I think they must be serving them in the cafeteria at school because "corn dog" really isn't in our vocabulary.  Now, you know that I don't shy away from frying things in oil from time to time (Mmmmmm.  Donuts . . . ), but if the kids were going to eat these every day for lunch (kids are like that) frying seemed like a bad idea.  Solution: a baked corn dog that is somewhere between a pretzel and the deep fried original.  These were/are a massive hit with my kids and hopefully will be with yours as well.  I also understand there is some major sporting event coming up this weekend which might lend itself to a a corn dog or two.

Makes 24.  Weighing the ingredients (the flour in particular) provides the most consistent results.
- 12oz/340ml/1.5 cups plain soy milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp instant or active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- generous 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 9oz/255g/1.5 cups fine cornmeal
- 11.5oz/326g/2.5 cups white bread flour
- soy milk for brushing
- 12 veggie hot dogs, cut in half

- I have seen recipes that call for some cayenne in the dough, or some minced jalapeño.  These sound like great ideas but not the kind of things my kids like

1. Warm up soy milk to between 90 and 100 degrees F, then whisk in vinegar.  When thick, whisk in yeast, oil, and sugar.  Let sit for 5 mins to allow yeast to dissolve.
2.   Meanwhile, whisk salt, baking soda and cornmeal in stand mixer bowl.  Add yeast mixture and mix well.  Let sit for 5 mins.
3. Add flour and mix into a rough dough.  Let sit for 5 mins, then knead with a dough hook for 5 mins on med-lo speed.  The dough should clear the bottom of the bowl and should be tacky but not be sticky.  Adjust flour as needed (I find the amount above to be perfect).
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  You can skip this step if you are in a rush and just let the dough rise at room temp, but I find that the overnight fermentation produces great flavour, lets the gluten relax, and allows the cornmeal to soften.  Also, since the dough is tacky, cooling the dough makes it much easier to work with.  You can also compromise between the two methods and refrigerate the dough for about 4 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place one oven rack in the second highest position, and one on the second lowest.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces (around 40g each) then cover to keep from drying out.  Flatten each piece into a rectangle slightly longer than the veggie dog half and wide enough to wrap around the veggie dog.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour if the dough is too tacky to work with.  Wrap the dough around the veggie dog and pinch to seal the seam and ends.  Gently roll the dog back and forth in your hands to smooth out the dough as much as possible.  Place on the prepared sheet and repeat.  Put 12 corn dogs on each baking sheet.
7.  Brush each corn dog with soy milk (I pick them up and brush all sides).  Bake for 7.5 mins, then rotate and switch the sheets from one rack to the other (i.e. the sheet on the second highest rack will now be on the second lowest, and vice versa).  Bake for another 7.5 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Easy Mexican Red Rice

Great on its own, as a side, or in a burrito.

- 1 dried red chile, deseeded (I used a New Mexico chile)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (juice and all)
- 1.5 cups long grain rice (I used basmati), rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas

1. Slit open chile and deseed, then soak in a bowl of hot water for about 5 mins.  Save the soaking water.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then sauté onion and garlic for 5-7 mins, until translucent but not browned.
3. While onions are cooking, blend the soaked chile (but not the soaking water) into the tomatoes (I use an immersion blender in a juice pitcher, but a blender or food processor would also work).  Blend until smooth.
4. Add rice to onions and stir to coat with oil.  Cook for 2 mins then add the tomato mixture.  Mix well.
5.  Bring to bubbling, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 mins, or until rice is almost cooked.  If rice gets too dry, add some of the soaking liquid.

6.  Add peas to the rise, mix well, then cover and cook for 5 mins.  Fluff rice and serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Potato Quesadillas with Homemade Wheat Tortillas

Happy New Year, all you Gregorian calendar users!  I'd like to promise that I will blog more this year, but with 3 major projects on the go I know I would never be able to keep that promise.  I do have some goals for the blog, though.  My passion right now is baking and trying to make vegan baked goods accessible to all home bakers.  That being said, my menus need a real kick in the pants these days so I would like get some new dishes up as well.  This recipe is sort of a mix of these two goals, so enjoy!

Wheat Tortillas (makes twelve 12-14" tortillas)
This recipe is veganized from Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb.  It is rather similar to the recipe I posted here, but has a bit more fat.  I like his method, and made these up after I finished my bread baking.  I'm not sure it's worth heating up the oven just for these, so use a cast iron skillet if you're not already baking.  I baked up six, and put the remaining dough in the freezer for another day.
- 1.5 lbs bread flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 oz vegetable shortening
- 1.5 cups warm water

1. Mix flour and salt, then cut the shortening in.  Add water and work into a soft dough.
2. Divide into 12 equal balls, then flatten into discs.  Cover with plastic and let sit for 30 mins.
3. Place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll out a disc of dough into a 12 inch circle.  Place in a towel to keep from drying out.  Repeat with remaining discs (If the tortillas as well-floured, you can stack them six high).
4. Once the dough has rested a bit, you can stretch the tortillas even thinner by gently stretching them on the back of your knuckles, like you would with pizza dough.  Work from the edges, not the centre.
5. With a spray bottle, spritz the stone with water.  Place a tortilla on the stone (with your hands, or a baking peel) and bake for 30-60 seconds, until puffy but not crispy.  Flip and repeat.  You want the tortilla to bake, but not become hard and inflexible.  Stack in a towel as they come out of the oven.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Potato Quesadillas
I posted a recipe like this 3 years ago, but that was before Daiya existed in my town.  I'm not a huge fake cheese fan, but these are really good.  
- 1/2 lb potatoes
- 1 8oz bag shredded Mozzarella style Daiya (or Pepper Jack)
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp chili sauce
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- chopped fresh cilantro to taste
- 6 tortillas (above)

1. Boil the potato(es) until tender but not mushy (peel them if you want).  Cool, then grate into a medium bowl.  Add remaining ingredients (not the tortillas, of course) and mix well.
2. Lightly brush a tortilla with oil or margarine, then flip over and place 1/6 of the filling over half of the tortilla.  Fold in half and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
3. Cook in a skillet over med to med-hi heat until both sides are golden brown and cheese has melted.  Cut each tortillas into 3 wedges and serve immediately.