Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mexican Bread Pudding with Spiced Syrup

This recipe is a mash-up of Isa's bread pudding from Isa Does It and a recipe from the very first vegetarian cookbook I ever bought, Simple Vegetarian Recipes. I used the all white flour version of my Everyday Bread because it has a nice open crumb structure that easily soaks up the liquid. If you are using a denser or leaner bread, give it more time to soak. I think it's worth the time to use the vanilla bean, but your can sub in 2 tsp vanilla extract and forget heating it on the stove. The agar is probably not needed--I was just panicking that I was adding too much liquid. As written, the end result is a moist and custardy pudding that pairs nicely with the anise notes from the syrup. The almonds provide some texture to make for a perfect dessert.

Bread Pudding
- 7 cups cubed stale bread
- 1 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp agar (probably optional)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice

Spiced Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves

Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 baking pan.
1. Put bread in a large bowl. Add raisins and almonds and toss to mix.
2. Scrape vanilla bean and whisk into the almond milk in a sauce pan. Whisk in turmeric. Add the bean pod and bring to bubbling over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove bean pod.
3. Whisk in coconut milk, then whisk in cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in agar.
4. Whisk in the sugar and spices. Pour mixture over the bread and gently turn to coat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has soaked up as much liquid as it can. Gently mix the bread halfway through if necessary. Transfer to prepared pan and distribute evenly.
5. Bake for 35 mins, or until golden and the liquid has set.

Spiced Syrup
1. While the pudding is baking, add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to bubbling over medium heat and let bubble away for 10 mins. Remove from heat. Remove spices just before drizzling over the served pieces. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Creamy Chickpeas and Biscuits

This is pure comfort food inspired by a frosty walk home one day. The creaminess of the coconut milk complements the earthiness of the chickpeas and the sweetness of the roasted pepper. And all of that on top of a tender biscuit. The biscuits are a Reinhart-esque riff on The New Basics Cookbook recipe. The key here is to make sure all of the sides of your biscuit are cleanly cut--you can accomplish this with a good biscuit cutter, or by using a pastry cutter as I have suggested below. Cleanly cut sides allow the laminated dough to rise nice and high.

Creamy Chickpeas
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 medium (yellow) potato, diced
- 1 spring fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3.5 cups warm vegetable stock (more as needed)
- 1 can chickpeas (or white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
- 2 roasted red or orange pepper, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup corn
- 3/4 cup peas
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and celery for 5-7 mins, or until golden. Add garlic and saute for 1 min more.
2. Add carrot, potato, herbs, and a big pinch of salt and saute for 3-5 mins, until fragrant and sizzling. Add flour and mix well to coat. Cook for 1 min then stream in the stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
3. Add chickpeas, roasted peppers, and nutritional yeast and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 mins, uncovered, until veggies are tender. If the sauce reduces too much, add more stock.
4. Add corn and peas and cook for 3 mins, or until done. Remove thyme sprig.
5. Add in as much of the coconut milk as needed to get the consistency you want (I used the whole can).

- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp (2.5 oz) cold vegan butter
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup plain soy milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. Add the vinegar to the bottom of a 3/4 cup measure. Fill half way with soy milk and mix until thick. Fill the cup measure full and add to flour mixture. Bring together into a soft dough with a wooden spoon.
3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll/pat into a rectangle then fold like a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. Repeat again. The dough should have firmed up by now. Roll into a rectangle, trim the outside edges with a pastry cutter, and cut into 6 or 8 pieces.
4. Brush the tops of the biscuits with soy milk and bake for 14 mins.