Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rustic Bread

So my month of bread has come to a close. I did everything I wanted to except a sourdough. I just have no luck with yeastless breads. This is the last bread I baked--yet another trial run for my baking table at the upcoming street fair for the boys' school. I have a very ambitious plan: bagels, lemon currant rolls, chocolate chocolate chip cookies, baguettes, white bread, whole wheat bread, and this rustic bread. I am going to have forearms of steel from all the kneading! But, all the money will go to the school so it's a good thing (plus, who doesn't want to look like Popeye?). The original recipe is here, but I am posting a less chatty version with the changes I made.


INGREDIENTS
Preferment:
- 1 lb. bread flour
- 9.5 fl. oz. water
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:
- 10 oz. bread flour
- 3 oz. whole wheat flour
- 3 oz. barley flour
- 12 oz. water
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeas
- all of the preferment

METHOD:
1. Make the preferment: Put the yeast in the water and stir. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and pour in the yeasted water. Mix until the flour is hydrated, adding a little more water if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the pre-ferment out at room temperature overnight.
2. Make the dough: To make the final dough, combine all of the ingredients except the pre-ferment in a mixing bowl. Chop the pre-ferment up into small pieces and mix in. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10 mins, until smooth and thoroughly combined. Dough should be tacky but not sticky, so knead in flour accordingly.
3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and ferment for 2 1/2 hours, folding the dough at 1 hr, and 1:45. (To fold dough, take the dough out of the bowl, spread it out a little on a clean surface and fold it in thirds like a letter. Rotate it 90 degrees and fold it up again. Return the dough to the bowl and cover again.)
4. At the end of the fermentation, divide the dough into three pieces and preshape each into a ball. Cover with a clean towel and let each rest for 5 to 10 minutes before shaping into an 8-9 inch loaf with tapered ends. Once shaped, place on a well floured peel and cover the loaves with a clean towel. Set aside for a final rise, approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
5. Halfway though the final rise, begin preheating the oven and baking stone to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron pot on the bottom rack and fill with boiling water 10 mins before you start baking the bread.
6. Slash the tops of the loaves with a razor blade, about 1/3 of the way through. Bake for 25-30 mins, rotating the loaves 180 degrees after 12 mins so that they'll bake evenly. Crust should be a deep golden brown, and loaves should sound hollow when you knock on the bottom. I baked two loaves at a time.

Vegan Buñuelos

Tomorrow is grocery day so tonight's meal was all about throwing things into a tortilla: sauteed sweet onions, orange and yellow peppers; roasted jalapenos; and chickpeas. Tasty, but really just a variation of stuff I have blogged before. I thought we needed something special for afters so I made vegan buñuelos, a Mexican fried dough dessert (that usually has egg and butter). From what I can see, there are a variety of ways to make these so I am not sure there is a "correct" way. I made these like wee little doughnuts since there is no vegan doughnut shop anywhere near here. The dough is not very sweet (they aren't like a Tim Horton's doughnut) but are absolutely addictive. They taste best when freshly cooked so I have posted a recipe for 6. Double or triple according to how many you are feeding. Word of warning: I have never had a "real" buñuelo to compare these to, but to my mind these are awesome and taste and look like I think they should.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground anise
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp ground flax seed
- 3-4 tsp water
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp Earth Balance margarine, melted
- oil for frying
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon

METHOD
1. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, and sugar in a medium bowl.
2. In a small bowl add ground flax with 3 tsp of the water and let sit for a minute. Whisk with a fork until mixture thickens. Whisk in soy milk and vinegar.
3. Add flax mixture to the flour and mix with a fork. As the dough begins to come together mix in melted margarine with the fork. Use you hands to bring the dough together, adding the final tsp of water if needed. Knead dough on a counter top (floured, if needed) for 7 to 10 mins, or until dough is smooth. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky.
4. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into balls. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 mins.
5. Heat a few inches of oil in a pan to about 375 degrees (med-hi on my stove). Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. While oil is heating, poke through the centre of each dough ball with the end of a wooden spoon and insert your pointer finger to shape each ball into a ring.
6. Fry in oil for about 60 seconds, turning once, until it floats and is a nice golden colour. If you use a small saucepan, like I do, you may want to flip it a few times. They like to sit at the bottom of the pan for a bit before they float, so they can brown quite quickly when in contact with the bottom of the pan.
7. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels or paper bags. While still hit, toss each doughnut in the cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy right away.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brunch Skewers

Inspiration hit today as I was rummaging through the cupboards for something to make for lunch. When I saw the skewers from the chickenless wings, the now stale crusty French rolls, the pineapple, and the leftover breakfast sausages, the clouds opened and a light shone down upon me from heaven. A voice said, simply, "ye shall make brunch skewers, and they shall be tasty." I only wish that some strawberries had magically appeared in the fridge because they would have made this dish absolutely perfect. I also tried baking the french toast--success! If you have ever made vegan French toast you know it is a real pain (unless you have a brand new no-stick pan) because the batter sticks to the pan like glue. Baking french toast is easy and hassle free and is definitely the way I am making all my French toast from now on. The french toast batter recipe is adapted from this month's issue of VegNews and has a banana-y flavour which I totally love when combined with maple syrup.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 6 skewers
- 3 to 4 stale crusty French rolls (or French bread) cut into 18 chunks
- 1 ripe banana, sliced
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch tumeric

- 6 mini bamboo skewers
- 1 tsp oil
- 2 large breakfast sausages (i.e. make 6 sausages instead of the mini ones the recipe calls for), cut into 6 thick slices each
- 12 pineapple chunks
- 12 thick strawberry slices (not pictured)
- maple syrup for dipping

METHOD
Preheat oven to 425
1. In a food processor, or with an immersion blender, blend together banana slices, soy milk, flax seed, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tumeric. Pour into a shallow dish and add in bread chunks. Toss bread in batter and leave for a few mins to soak in, turning once or twice.
2. While bread is soaking, wet the back of a piece of parchment paper and line a baking sheet. Spray parchment lightly with oil. Shake excess batter off bread chunks and place on baking sheet. Spray lightly with oil.
3. Bake bread for 5-7 mins per side, until it starts to turn golden brown. You can broil them at the very end for a min or so of you want to.
4. While bread is baking, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry sausage slices for a few mins, until heated through and a little crispy on the outside. Remove from pan, increase heat to med-hi, and add pineapple chucnks. Fry for 5 mins, stirring regularly, until beginning to brown. Remove from heat.
5. Assemble the skewers in the following order: french toast, pineapple, sausage, strawberry, french toast, pineapple, sausage strawberry, french toast. Serve with warmed maple syrup for dipping.

I also made the chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon for a clean up/work night at the boys' school. I am totally making these for the upcoming bake sale and wanted try out a method that would consistently yield cookies as big as my head. So, I measured out 1/3 cup of cookie dough and pressed it into a 3 1/2 inch metal ring. I then baked for 11 mins--6 cookies per baking sheet (yes, they are huge!). They came out perfectly!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Noodles and "Beef" Seitan in a Black Bean Sauce

So after having snow on Tuesday and a low of zero degrees, today was a summery 22 degrees. Hey, are wildly varying temperatures a sign of global warming? Good thing there isn't a scientific consensus on that, otherwise I might be worried. Heh heh. Anyway, the great thing about tonight's dish is that it features green onions from our garden! Woot, woot! Our first produce of the season! There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own food. It also has another seitan experiment--beef-like seitan strips. I would like to fool around with the recipe a bit, but it was good enough to post and the boys really loved it.


INGREDIENTS
"Beef" Seitan
- 1/4 cup TVP
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup vegetarian stir fry sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce
- 1/2 tsp browning sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2-4 tbsp water (if needed)
- 2 tbsp oil for frying

METHOD
1. Put TVP in a bowl with oil and the sauces. Let sit for a few mins so that the TVP soaks up some of the liquid. Add spices and wheat gluten and enough water (if needed) to make a stiff yet kneadable dough. Knead for a few mins to mix everything together.
2. Shape dough into a log and flatten. Cut into thin strips.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry strips for 1 min per side and set aside

INGREDIENTS
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1" piece ginger, minced
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- "beef" seitan strips
- 12 oz noodles (your choice), cooked (I used a thin, wheat-based Chinese noodles)
- 4 green onion, thinly sliced

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a wok over med-hi heat. Stir fry onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper for 2-3 mins, until onion and pepper soften. Add black bean, soy sauce, brown sugar, water and seitan strips. Reduce heat to medium and let bubble away for 10 mins, stirring regularly.
2. Add noodles, mix well, and heat through. If the dish is too dry, add more bean sauce and water. Adjust to taste. Top with sliced onions and serve.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chili Garlic Tempeh Spring Rolls

I was in the grocery store the other day and happened to wander by the one place I never go: the deli counter. To my delight I discovered that they have many Asian products for sale in a variety of small displays: a sushi section, an Indian section, etc. When I saw that they had rice paper I knew I had to make spring rolls. I was really pumped today when I pulled them out of the cupboard until I realized I had no idea what goes into a spring roll! So I jumped online to find out. Rice vermicelli. Uh oh. I had none. Ditto on the bean sprouts and cucumber (didn't I just go shopping?). And I certainly wasn't going to put shrimp or chicken in them. So I rifled through the crisper and came up with these. They were awesome, even if they weren't authentic.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 6 spring rolls
- 1/2 pkg tempeh
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- few drops sesame oil

- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

- 6 pieces rice paper
- 6 stalks asparagus
- 4 romaine lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced

METHOD
1. Bring water, soy sauce, and sesame oil to a boil in a medium saucepan. Put tempeh in water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cool. When cool, coarsely grate.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add tempeh and fry for 3-4 mins, until tempeh browns a little. Add soy sauce and water and mix well (add more water if soy sauce is not evenly mixing through the tempeh). Then stir in chili garlic sauce and remove from heat to cool.
3. While tempeh is cooling, steam asparagus until tender. Roll up all four romaine leaves together and thinly slice. Chop cilantro and slice onions.
4. To assemble the spring rolls, soak a piece of rice paper in water for about a minute. Put 1/6 of the tempeh in row in the middle of the paper. Halve an asparagus stalk and flank the tempeh with the two pieces. Top with 1/6 of the lettuce, cilantro, and green onion. Fold in sides, then roll up, being careful not to rip the rice paper.
5. Serve right away with chili dipping sauce.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Apple and Raisin Stuffed Seitan

It snowed this morning! That's right. Snow in late May. Now, it wasn't much, just a few flurries, but that's not really the point is it? I can't believe it is actually cold enough to snow! And now they have issued a frost warning for tonight because the temperature will be down around zero (32 F). So blame the cold weather on this rather wintry dish I made tonight. I think one could easily whip up a traditional stuffing and make a nice holiday meal out of this recipe. This is the latest creation in my attempt to bake seitan and avoid the hours and hours of simmering of a more traditional seitan. I was happy with the result and think this recipe could be adapted to make an much easier version of the Chickenless Kiev I made a while back.


INGREDIENTS
Seitan
- 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 cup water

Filling
- 2 apples, peeled and finely diced (I used McIntosh)
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup boiling water
METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Make the seitan. Mix wheat gluten, broth powder and spices in a bowl. Whisk water, soy sauce, and oil in another and add to flour. Mix into a dough and knead for a few mins. Shape into a log and set aside.
2. Make the filling. Mix apples, onions, raisins, salt, poultry seasoning and pepper together.
3. Slice seitan into 6 equal pieces. Press each piece as flat as you can with the heel of your hand. Place about 2 spoonful of filling on each piece of seitan and roll up. Secure rolled seitan with two pieces of kitchen string. Not all the stuffing will be used.
4. Put extra stuffing and the other cut up apple in the bottom of a medium sized greased baking dish (I used an 8 x 11.5" dish). Mix broth powder into the boiling water and pour over top of apples. Place seitan rolls on top.
5. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 mins. Remove foil and turn seitan over. If apple mixture looks too dry, add a bit more water. Spray tops of seitan with a little oil and bake uncovered for 30 mins, or until seitan has browned and is firm to the touch.
6. Remove string and serve seitan with the apple stuff (let's call it chutney) on the side.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vegan Boneless Chickenless Hot Wings

There is something satisfying about veganizing an old favourite. I am one of those vegans who still likes eating something that approximates meat. Call me less evolved if you must. These wings are perfect and pretty easy to make. Plus, everybody loves eating things off a stick--just ask anyone who has gone to a state fair. This recipe makes 12 wings, but they are fairly substantial. Make smaller ones if you want, but make sure to reduce the cooking time or they will get tough and dry. And, if you like a sticky and sweet sauce, try this recipe.


INGREDIENTS
Wings
- 12 mini bamboo skewers
- 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 to 1 1/4 cup water

Breading
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Sauce
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/2 cup hot sauce

METHOD
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Line a dark baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with oil.
2. Mix flour, stock powder, and spices together. Add oil and enough water to make a dough. The dough should be somewhat stiff, but able to be kneaded. Knead for a few mins then shape into a log and slice into 12 to 16 pieces. Stick a bamboo skewer into each piece of dough and shape around the stick. Wet your hands if you need to.
3. Whisk together soy milk, oil, lemon juice, and flax seed in a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, mix together bread crumbs and spices.
4. Roll seitan in soy milk mixture, then in bread crumbs. When all seitan has been coated, roll again in soy milk and press into the bread crumbs to get a thick coating. Place on prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20 - 25 mins, until crumbs are golden and seitan has plumped up. While seitan is cooking, melt margarine in a small saucepan and add hot sauce. Remove cooked seitan from oven and spoon sauce over each wing. Return to oven and cook for 5 mins.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

English Muffins

In many ways, my mom was ahead of the times when we were growing up. Or, I guess, she was a product of the best of the 60s. We brought our lunches in reuseable containers, composted, and recycled. And my mom was uber-serious about our health. So serious, in fact, that she would save the water used to boil vegetables to reuse in things like pancake batter--that way not a single nutrient would be lost. Of course, we were total whiners who would not appreciate all my mom did until much later in life. She would bake bread. We would beg for store-bought (after all, no one else at school had sandwiches on home made bread). She would make granola. We would plead for boxed cereal (it's sooooo much better, we would insist). Anyway, all these memories were swirling around in my head today as I was making these muffins. They are awesome and way better than store-bought, no matter what your kids say.


INGREDIENTS
Makes at least 12 muffins
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 2/3 cups lukewarm soy milk
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp oil

METHOD
1. Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Mix yeast into soy milk, along with sugar and oil. Add to flour and bring together into a soft dough. I used a dough hook (the dough is really soft) in a stand mixer and kneaded for 5 mins. You could also do this by hand/with a wooden spoon. If dough is too dry, add more soy milk. If too wet, add some flour. Dough should be soft, but should still hold together.
2. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour, until doubled in bulk.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll to 1/2" thickness. Cut out 3" rounds with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Re-roll leftover dough to get a few extra muffins. Keep cut muffins on the floured surface and dust tops with semolina flour. Cover and let rise for 30 mins.
4. Heat a griddle over med to med-lo heat. Cook muffins in batches for about 5 mins per side, until deep golden brown on each side. If muffins are burning, turn down heat. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Maple Baked Seitan Cutlets

Tonight was a seitan experiment. The other day I made the much ballyhooed Seitan O'Greatness for my tortas. I changed the ingredients a bit to make more of a "chickeny" seitan, but kept the liquid:dry ratio and baking method. I found the end result to be rather tough and dry. So I thought that I would play around with baking seitan another way. The end result this time was a spongier seitan that could have used a little extra glaze to moisten it a bit. The boys absolutely loved it and said it was now their favorite dish (yeah, right), so score on that account. I was not as impressed, but think the recipe is a good start. Here is the recipe if you want to give it go.


INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup white kidney beans
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup amber (Grade B) maple syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Blend beans, oil, and soy milk in a container with an immersion blender until smooth. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together spices, yeast flakes, and wheat gluten. Add liquid and mix together into a dough. Shape dough into a log and slice into 6 equal slices. Shape each slice into a cutlet.
2. Heat the 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry each cutlet for about 1 min per side, until lightly golden. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with onion slices.
3. Heat water, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to boiling and pour over cutlets making sure tops are well coated.
4. Bake for 60 mins. Once sauce begins to bubble (after about 15 mins), baste cutlets every 10 mins. Sauce will disappear by 60 mins, and cutlets will get nice and golden. Serve.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Green Chile Chickpea Tortilla Cups

These are really, really good, and would be perfect as a party appetizer. I was not sure how the green chiles would work with the chickpeas, but it all turned out swimmingly. I was a little baffled that the boys were not crazy about them, but they were in a bit of a cranky mood today. Their loss. Vegan Mom and I chugged back everything they left behind.


INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 recipe wheat tortillas, made into twelve 4+" tortillas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1 can Old El Paso green chiles, drained
- 1 tomato, finely diced
- salsa
- shredded vegan cheese (I grate Tofutti slices)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil a muffin tin.
1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry chickpeas for 5 mins, until golden. Add chiles and heat through. Remove from heat and coarsely mash with a fork.
2. Line each muffin tin with one of the tortillas. Equally divide chickpea mixture into each of the tortillas. Top with tomato, a spoonful of salsa, and a healthy dose of grated cheese.
3. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until cheese is melted and tops of tortilla shells are lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tortas

This is a fun meal for kids and a different way to serve up Mexican goodness without a tortilla. In order to cram all the ingredients in you need to hollow out the bottom part of the roll--this is the part the kids find so fun. After they have picked out the soft insides of the crusty roll they can fill in the cavity with their choice of toppings (I have suggested some here, but you can choose your own). Have fun!


INGREDIENTS
- French crusty rolls, or Mexican bolillo rolls
- refried beans
- finely sliced seitan
- salsa
- diced tomatoes
- thinly sliced red onion
- guacamole, or diced avocado
- shredded vegan cheese
- vegan sour cream
- shredded lettuce

METHOD
1. Cut roll 2/3rds of the way up (which I really didn't do, so don't look at the picture) and hollow out the bottom. Put down a thick layer of refried beans, then top with seitan and toppings. Put on top of roll and enjoy!

Crusty French Rolls

Today was one of those days that I just could not focus on my research. On days like this I busy myself in the kitchen. That way, I feel like I am accomplishing all sorts of things without actually doing any real work. This recipe comes from the Country Living magazine website--they've never steered anyone wrong have they? They came out very well, so I am copying the recipe here so I can always have access to it. This recipe makes 10 sandwich-sized rolls, and 14-16 dinner rolls.


INGREDIENTS
- 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 6 1/2 cups to 7 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal

METHOD
1. Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 5 minutes in a warm place. Add 4 cups flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Beat with the paddle of an electric mixer or mix by hand until a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms -- about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest 10 minutes. With a dough hook and the mixer running, add remaining flour and knead another 5 minutes. Alternately, work the remaining flour into the dough by kneading for about 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary to form a soft, elastic dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, up to 2 or more hours. Punch down the risen dough and re-form into a ball. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in size -- about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Form the rolls: Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor of the oven or on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 10 (or 14 or 16) equal pieces. Form each piece into a roll shape and place on a baking pan lightly dusted with cornmeal. Let rolls rise uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Bake the rolls: Using a razor blade or sharp knife, make a 1/4-inch-deep slash on the top of each roll. Slide the baking sheet into the upper third of the oven and bake until dark golden brown -- about 25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow to cool 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to two days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Best Ever Vegan Mini Meatloaf

Best ever? I suppose that's a little subjective, but it certainly is the best meatless meatloaf I have ever had. I have tried lentils, nuts, TVP, and bulgur wheat to replace the ground beef, but tempeh is the far better alternative. It makes sense, really, since tempeh makes such a perfect burger. If you find that tempeh has a certain "taste," simmer it in water for 10 mins to cut the bitterness. Combined with a sugary-ketchup glaze, you and your kids will love these meatloaves. Serve them with some mashed potatoes and mixed veggies on the side for a down home meal.

INGREDIENTS
Makes 10 mini meatloaves. Cut in half if you aren't feeding 3 growing boys.
- 2 8.5 oz pkgs tempeh, simmered in boiling water for 10 mins, cooled, then coarsely grated
- 1 large onion, coarsely grated
- 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 cup instant oatmeal
- 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce
- 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp browning sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup (or more) water

Glaze
- generous 2/3 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp mustard

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan.
1. Mix grated tempeh, onion, garlic, oatmeal, flour, and spices in a large bowl. The spices are really up to you. I like a well spiced and complex flavour.
2. Add in sauces and oil, and enough water so you are able to mash everything up with your fingers. Knead/mush/mash for a few mins to mix everything well.
3. Divide dough into 10 pieces and shape into small loaves. Actually, they end up looking like lumps/rocks, not really laoves. Place into oiled pan.
4. Mix together ingredients for the glaze and spoon evenly on top of each loaf. Make sure the whole loaf is covered.
5. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 mins, until glaze darkens.

Have leftovers? Slice up a meatloaf or two and make a sandwich!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Albondigas

Tempeh meatballs in a spicy and sweet tomato sauce, served with homemade tortillas to mop up the extra sauce. Need I say more? All three boys bolted these down like it was their last meal. Son #2 ate six meatballs and two tortillas, so the recipe definitely gets the thumbs up!


INGREDIENTS
- 1 recipe of perfect tempeh burger, shaped into meatballs (with 1/2 tsp each cumin and cinnamon added to the spice mix)
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 - 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- juice of 1/2 lime
- salt and pepper to taste

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a large deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs for 10 mins, turning regularly, until all sides are nicely browned. Remove from pan.
2. Add potatoes to pan and fry for 5-7 mins, until softened and slightly browned. Remove from pan.
3. While potatoes are cooking, put the remaining ingredients (sugar to salt and pepper) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add to pan and bring to bubbling. Cook for a few mins, then add meatballs and potatoes into the sauce. Cover and simmer while you make tortillas (15-20 mins). If sauce is too thin for your liking, simmer with the lid off for 5-10 mins. Serve with tortillas.

On Why Veganism is Perfectly Normal

I'm sure you have heard the very worried question, "where do you get your protein?," anytime you tell someone you are vegan. Perhaps your pediatrician has written "crazy hippy" beside your name on your kid's medical chart, or maybe your grandmother wonders what in the world you eat for Sunday dinner if it isn't pot roast. Yes, everyone is protein obsessed (and not just those on the Atkins diet), but it seems that few people are stewing over the more important question, "am I getting enough vegetables?" Behold the following table from the Canada Food Guide:

You will note that we adults only require 2-3 servings of "meat and alternatives" per day. That's right. For non-meat eaters, that means as little as 1.5 cups of tofu or beans per day. And let's not forget our dear friends tempeh and seitan. Piece of friggin' cake. We also need two servings of "milk and alternatives." Soy milk easily fits the bill. The bulk of our diet is supposed to come from fruits and vegetables and grains. Really, the vegan diet conforms more to the recommendations of the Canada Food Guide than the standard North American diet that makes a rather large chunk of meat the centrepiece of each meal. I'll leave you with this tidbit of advice from the Food Guide:

Mission accomplished.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I knew when I made this tonight that it would not photograph well, so sorry for the pic. But, bad pictures aside, I totally love peanut sauce. Tonight I served it simply over udon noodles (mainly because my fridge is looking pretty empty), but it is also good over jasmine rice.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1" piece ginger, chopped
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 3/4 cup plain soy milk (or light coconut milk)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2-4 tbsp cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce

METHOD
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Heat to bubbling in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins, stirring regularly.
2. Serve over udon noodles, or over rice.

On Solae and GMO Soy

As if being vegan didn't already cause enough dietary conundrums at the supermarket, now you have to worry about the source of vegan ingredients too. Is it organic? Genetically modified? Local? Overly processed? It's enough to make your head explode. Needless to say, I was a tad depressed when an anonymous poster wrote this in response to my ice cream cake post: "BTW So Good ice cream and soy milk is produced using Solae (a modified GMO soy product from Dupont and Bunge corporation). Soale is used in So Good products as well as many Yves products (they usually even have a Solae logo on the back of them). Stay away from them if you don't want to eat frankenfood." Well, as it turns out, said anonymous poster was partially misinformed. Solae is not a genetically modified food. I emailed SoGood and Yves Canada and Yves USA (who do use Solae (as you can see here), as does Mori-Nu), and they all assured me that they use non-GMO soy. Interestingly, Yves wrote that "the soy is the only ingredient that we will make a statement about regarding non-gmo; other ingredients have not been sourced to be non-gmo."

All that being said, Solae is not organic, and it is made by DuPont who has a less than stellar environmental record. Solae is also used to feed the livestock slaughtered in factory farms all over North America. So, what's a vegan to do?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mini Corndawgs

Sorry to tempt you with things you can't have, but I made these fat-free corndawgs tonight and just had to share a pic. FAT FREE CORNDAWGS THAT DON'T SUCK! This is another tester recipe for The Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook, and that sound you hear is parents celebrating all over the world.

Bagels

I know I said I would make the ciabatta again and post the recipe, but I totally lied. I saw this bagel recipe and knew I had to make it. Now, I have never been to New York City (I have said, "Hey! Can't you see I'm walkin' here!?" a few times, but that's about it) so I am not going to call these New York style bagels lest Lindsay drive up to Canada just to kick my butt. I will say, though, that these are the best bagels I have ever had. I now utterly shun and reject those round pieces of garbage they are passing off as bagels at the grocery store.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 1 dozen bagels
Sponge:
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 1/2 cups water

Dough:
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
- 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Finishing touches:
- 1 tablespoon baking soda for the water
- cornmeal for dusting the pan
- toppings for the bagels such as seeds, salt, onion, or garlic

The Night Before
1. Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all ingredients are blended. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours.
2. Remove the plastic wrap and stir the additional yeast into the sponge. Add 3 cups of the flour, sugar, and the salt into the bowl and mix until all of the ingredients form a ball. You need to work in the additional 3/4 cups of flour to stiffen the dough, either while still mixing in the bowl or while kneading. The dough should be stiffer and drier than normal bread dough, but moist enough that all of the ingredients are well blended.
3. Pour the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.
4. Immediately after kneading, split the dough into a dozen small pieces around 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside. When you have all 12 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.
5. Shape each bagel by punching your thumb through the center of each roll and then rotate the dough, working it so that the bagel is as even in width as possible.
6. Place the shaped bagels on an oiled sheet pan, with an inch or so of space between one another (use two pans, if you need to). If you have parchment paper, line the sheet pan with parchment and spray it lightly with oil before placing the bagels on the pan. Cover the pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.

Baking Day
1. Preheat the oven to 500.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the pot.
3. When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot one at a time and let them boil for a minute. Use a large, slotted spoon or spatula to gently flip them over and boil them on the other side.
4. Before removing them from the pot, sprinkle corn meal onto the sheet pan. Remove them one at a time, set them back onto the sheet pan, and top them right away, while they are still slightly moist. Repeat this process until all of the bagels have been boiled and topped.
5. Once they have, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for another 5 minutes until the bagels begin to brown. Remove, cool on wire racks, and eat.

A Note on Plain Bagels
I like a plain bagel with no seeds of any kind, so I topped mine with a cornstarch wash I read about here (via Have Cake will Travel) on the PPK forum.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ciabatta

Success! Renae of I Eat Food (awesome blog name!) suggested this recipe. I realize now that the recipe I was using made a dough that was far to dry for a successful ciabatta. This recipe relies on a stand mixer to make a very wet dough, and I was hesitant to try it because it did not seem authentic. I mean, I can hardly see some Italian momma using her trusty KitchenAid to make some time-honoured family ciabatta recipe. But I can't argue with the results. Light and airy with a very crispy yet chewy crust. If you start this early in the morning you can be eating fresh bread for lunch. The measurements for this recipe are odd (who measures water in grams?) so I am going to make this again tomorrow and post a recipe that uses more normal measurements (and for those who don't have a kitchen scale). I also thought the bread was a touch salty so I am going to reduce that a bit.

Holiday Weekend and Google Reader

This is a holiday weekend here in Canada--Monday is Victoria Day in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday who was the monarch when Canada confederated on 1 July 1867. Of course, nobody thinks much about the Queen any more these days and the holiday has now become colloquially known as the "May 2-4 weekend," in honour of the 24 bottles sold in a standard case of beer. This is a weekend for heading up to the cottage, quaffing brewskis, and maybe jumping in the lake for a freezing cold swim before fighting the traffic home to start work again on Tuesday. We are staying home since the boys are recovering from a stomach flu. It is also raining. Bummer. But, it leaves time to do some baking.

I also just discovered Google Reader. I am probably the last one. Boy, does it make checking up on my favourite blogs a whole lot easier! Check it out if you find your blogroll getting long and unruly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

TuNori Melts

I was in the bulk food store today and noticed that they sell chopped nori. That got me thinking about TuNori, which got me thinking about the tuna melts we used to make way back when. This is a really easy and quick meal when you are pinched for time.


METHOD
Preheat broiler
1. Place slices of bread under broiler to lightly toast. Top with TuNori and a slice of vegan cheddar cheese. Place back under broiler until cheese is melted.

Ciabatta: Take 2

So I tried my hand again today at ciabatta. Pretty good results this time. More airy and tender than Take One, but still not exactly what I was looking for. The crust was delicate and crisp, the bread had good chew, but the loaf itself was still not as airy as I would have liked. I have to admit, the only place I have had ciabatta is at Whole Foods (so maybe I am dreaming the impossible dream thinking I can recreate it at home). You'll have to excuse the lame photo (taken a few years ago on a cheap-o camera), but here is a pic of a grilled tempeh sandwich made with their ciabatta. Their loaf is thin and fairly flat, but oh-so-airy with a delightful crackly-crisp crust! Actually, now that I think about it, this photo came from my pre-blog: a vegan newsletter. After I graduated I picked up some work at a research institute where some of the staff decided to do a Biggest Loser-type competition. I did not have any weight to lose but I volunteered to put together a (somewhat) weekly vegan food newsletter with recipe and general healthy eating advice. I called it "Food For Losers." It ran for 12 glorious editions before I took a job elsewhere. Anyway, back to the present! The bread is still good and I enjoyed this sandwich for lunch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gumbo with Vegan Andouille Sausage

Looking for something to go with a baguette? Try this gumbo!


Andouille Sausage
Make vegan sausages the same way as this recipe (but make 4 sausages), but use the following spice blend
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves, finely crumbled
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp liquid smoke

METHOD
1. Grind thyme, bay leaves and pepper flakes with a mortar and pestle. Add garlic cloves and mash with spices. Add with other spices listed above, and make 4 sausages as usual.

Gumbo
- 5 tbsp margarine
- 1 tbsp oil
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups sliced okra
- 7 -8 cups water or veggie stock
- 2 andouille sausages, thickly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- few dashes of hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp basil

METHOD
1. Heat margarine and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly for about 5-7 mins, until flour turns a caramel colour. Add onions, celery, and green onion and fry for 5 mins. Add okra and garlic and cook 1 min. Slowly add in 7 cups of water.
2. Add sliced sausage, bay leaves, soy sauce, hot sauce, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Bring to bubbling, then simmer for 50-60 mins, adding more water if it gets too thick.
3. Add in baby spinach, green onions, parsley, paprika, thyme and basil. Cook 5 mins. Adjust seasonings and serve in a bowl over rice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baguettes

I have learned a few things about bread. First, while my KitchenAid mixer's dough hook saves a lot of time and elbow grease, it makes for a tougher loaf of bread. Kneading by hand really is best. Secondly, when it comes making a chewy loaf of bread with a crispy crust that crackles when you press it, it's all about the humidity. Commercial steam ovens make this possible for bakery bread, but you can still make some nice bread at home. Thirdly, making great bread takes time. The longer starters and doughs sit, the better they taste. Lastly, making bread is part science, part art. Trial and error and learning to know when a dough is perfect comes with time. I was really happy with the way these baguettes came out--tender and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They really aren't that hard to make; they just take a little time.


INGREDIENTS
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp lukewarm water

METHOD
1. Sift flours and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk yeast into water in a large bowl, then whisk in half of the flour mixture to make a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 3 hours. (It is easiest to do this part of the bread before you go to bed the day before you will be baking the bread. Just cover and leave on the counter over night.)
2. Add the rest of the flour to the batter and bring together into a rough dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky. Put in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat dough in oil. Cover and let rise for an hour, or until just about doubled in bulk.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide in two. Shape into balls.
4. Flatten each ball into a small rectangle. Fold bottom third up, then top third down. Seal edges, and flatten again into a bigger rectangle. Fold as before, and seal edges. Repeat until loaf is about 14 inches long. Make sure seam and edges are well sealed.
5. Place each loaf on a large baking sheet between the pleats of a floured towel and let rise for an hour. (See here if you have no idea what I am talking about. Or, better yet, watch this video with Julia Childs.)
6. Heat convection oven to 450 degrees (475 for non-convection). Five minutes before baking the bread, place a 9 x 13 pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven (be careful of escaping steam when you open the oven door to bake the bread). Gently roll loaves onto a baking sheet and slash top of loaves with a sharp knife (make long and deep slashes--about 1/3 of the way through the loaf). Bake for 10-12 minutes (12-15 for non convection), until loaves are golden and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom.

I made up this split pea soup from Fat Free Kitchen for dinner tonight to go with the bread. Awesome!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Five Spice Tofu

The original version of this recipe calls for pork belly, which, I have to admit, I have never had. But, I imagine it would be kind of chewy and crispy. So, I have substituted crispy tofu. This recipe is also heavy on the cilantro, so cut back or eliminate it altogether if you don't like cilantro's unique flavour.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 pkg firm tofu, pressed and cut into thin slices
- cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- juice of 1 lime

METHOD
1. Toss tofu in cornstarch and fry in oil in batches over medium heat until golden. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry garlic for a min or so, until golden. Add spice power and fry for1 min. Add tomatoes, water, sauces, and sugar and mix well. Adjust flavours to your taste. Add tofu and bring to bubbling. Cook for at least 10 mins, until sauce thickens a bit. Add coriander and lime juice and cook for a few mins, until coriander wilts a bit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ice Cream Cake

Let me just say up front that there is nothing nutritionally redeeming about this cake. This is just pure dessert, plain and simple. Today is Mothers' Day (go phone your Mom right now if you forgot) and I know that there is nothing Vegan Mom likes more than a good dessert. And, it just so happened that the grocery store had reduced its price on dairy-free ice cream (which probably means they are discontinuing it). Who was I to deny this aligning of the stars? I knew I had to make an ice cream cake or face the wrath of the dessert gods.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 9 x 5 non stick metal loaf pan
- 1 946 ml So Good vanilla ice cream (or whatever brand suits your fancy)
- 1 chocolate Tofutti Cutie, diced
- 1 vanilla Tofutti Cutie, diced
- vegan caramel sauce
- 1 pint Tofutti Chocolate Cookie Crunch ice cream (or your preference)
- chocolate pudding filling (recipe follows)
- 5 tbsp margarine, melted
- 1 1/3 cups Oreo baking crumbs

METHOD
Make sure you have a good freezer so that this cake will harden. I suggest cranking the freezer up to max before starting.
1. Make sure vanilla ice cream is softened, but not melted. Press vanilla ice cream into the loaf pan (fingers work best, so make sure your hands are clean). Ice cream should be about 1/2 inch thick on bottom and sides of pan. Leave about a 3/4 inch space clear to the top of the pan. Stick pan in freezer to let ice cream firm up.
2. Remove pan from freezer. Place chopped cuties into the pan and fill spaces around the chopped bits with caramel sauce. Use a silicon spatula to smooth everything flat. Return to freezer to firm up.
3. Put chocolate ice cream on top of cutie-caramel layer, leaving a trench in the middle for the chocolate pudding filling. Fill trench with cooled pudding. By now, the chocolate pudding and ice cream should be flush with the vanilla ice cream. Return to freezer to let firm up.
4. Mix Oreo crumbs with melted margarine. Press firmly onto the ice cream, covering everything. Cover pan with foil and return to freezer for at least an hour.
5. When it is time to serve the cake, run a knife along the sides of the pan to detach the cookie layer from the pan (i.e. don't loosen the whole side). Place the pan in warm water for a few seconds. Put a cutting board on the top of the pan and flip pan upside down. Give a few good shakes to loosen cake (put back in water if it won't release). The cookie layer should now be on the bottom. Return to freezer to firm up. Slice and serve!

Chocolate Pudding Filling
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp soy milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

METHOD
1. Whisk cocoa powder and cornstarch powder together in a saucepan. Whisk in soy milk then cook over medium heat until bubbling and thick, stirring constantly with a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Place in fridge to cool down.

This would also make a good pudding to eat as actual pudding. Double the recipe and stir in a tbsp of margarine and tsp of vanilla in at the end.
UPDATE: Here is the cake after a night in the freezer. You can see each layer a bit better and everything has firmed up nicely. Probably not a bad idea to make this the day before you want to serve it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Iced Chai Soy Latte

I just made this and am sipping away whilst I type. I love chai tea, but on warmer days like today I don't feel like throwing back a steaming hot beverage. The solution? Iced tea!


INGREDIENTS
- 6 cups water
- 15 chai tea bags
- 2 to 2.5 cup sugar
- ice cubes
- plain or vanilla soy milk

METHOD
First, make an iced tea concentrate so you can easily whip off more iced tea over the next few days. Half the recipe if you like.
1. Put water and tea bags into a pot and bring to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 mins. Remove tea bags with a slotted spoon. Add sugar (more or less sugar depending on how you like your chai--I (no surprise) like a sweet tea) and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool, then pour in a pitcher and store in the fridge.
2. To make the iced tea. Put some ice cubes in a tall glass. Fill glass with a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 2 parts soy milk (you can adjust the ratio a bit according to your taste).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sweet Potato and Cashew Curry

I love cooking a dish with beautiful complimentary colours, like this one. There is something so satisfying about preparing a meal with yellows, oranges, reds and greens--makes you just stand back from the wok and admire the food like a work of art. Or, do I just need to get out of the house more?


INGREDIENTS
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer husk removed, finely minced
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 tsp Thai Kitchen yellow curry paste (or to taste)
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into small chunks
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes (with juice)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- peel and juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp tomato paste, or 2 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetarian stir fry sauce
- brown sugar to taste
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- Thai basil to garnish (if you have it, which I don't)

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Stir fry onion for 3-4 mins, until translucent. Add lemon grass and fry 1 min. Add cashews and fry until golden.
2. Stir in curry paste and mix to coat onions and nuts. Add the potatoes and fry 1 min. Add tomatoes and water and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, for about 15 mins, until potatoes are soft but not mushy. Add more water if needed.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients except green onions and basil and simmer for 5 mins, until heated though. Adjust seasonings to taste (Thai food is a balance of sweet, salty, hot, and sour, so adjust to your own liking).
4. Stir green onions through right before serving, and garnish with basil. Serve over rice, or by itself.

FREE Veggie Burger at Johnny Rockets

That's right, kids, free! OK, mostly free--it's really buy one get one free. We used to hit Johnny Rockets on occasion when we lived in Ohio to make it seem like we were "normal" people who could eat out. There is not one near where I am now, but for my Toronto area readers (um, are there are readers from Toronto?), there is a JR in the Square One mall, as well as one in that disgustingly huge Vaughan Mills mall near the IKEA off Highway 7. Check here for JR locations, and here for the coupon (good for all of May).

UPDATE: Johnny Rockets emailed me back stating that the burger they serve is indeed Boca's vegan burger.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Homemade Green Curry Paste

Homemade curry paste is so much better that the pre-fab stuff like Thai Kitchen. Not to diss Thai Kitchen, but, like everything, making something yourself always means it tastes better.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 tsp coriander
- 10 whole anise seeds
- 1 tbsp whole white peppercorns
- heaping spoonful of peanut butter (optional)
- peel and juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems
- 2 stalks lemon grass, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped ginger
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 8 romaine lettuce leaves, chopped

METHOD
1. Crush anise seeds and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix with coriander and set aside.
2. Put peanut butter, lime peel and juice, cilantro, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, onion, and pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add spice mixture and romaine leaves and process again until smooth. Remove from processor and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

The dish pictured above is a variation of the green curry tofu I made before. You can use more soy than I have listed here if you want, I just find that it takes away from the lovely green colour of the dish.

INGREDIENTS
- Half of the curry paste above (about 1 cup)
- 1.5 to 2 cans coconut milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- salt to taste
- 1 pkg tofu, diced and prepared however you like
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 cup frozen green beans

METHOD
1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry curry paste for 5 mins, until fragrant and most of the water has evaporated. Add 1 can of coconut milk and bring to bubbling. Cook for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.
2. The curry sauce has a bit of texture from the lemon grass. If you want a smoother sauce, strain and add back to pan. Add sugar, soy, and season to taste. Add tofu and cook for 5 mins. Add more coconut milk if sauce is too thick.
3. Add corn and beans and bring to bubbling. Add enough coconut milk to get the consistency you like. Serve over rice.

I also made Thai Corn Fritters. I used hoisin sauce instead of mushroom soy sauce--it made for a lighter colour and a more photogenic fritter.

Banana Bread

Another test recipe from Happy Herbivore's cookbook-in-the-works. No fat, whole wheat, moist, tender, and tasty. What's not to like? Nothing, that's what. We ate the whole thing today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On the Giving up of the Cheese

By the time I got home today I was running a fever, had a sore throat, and had a good case of the shaky chills. Needless to say I was in no mood to make dinner. So, hot dogs and french fries it was! The boys love to craft these elaborate, yet gross, hot dogs: ketchup, pickle, mustard, plum sauce, and cherry sauce. I did not take any pictures.

A few days ago Alexis asked if I would write something about giving up cheese; the one hurdle many people cannot leap and become vegan. I generally shy away from these kinds of posts because they can come off as condescending and sanctimonious. So, instead of telling you what to do I will just tell you what choices I made. First, let me say that I loved meat and dairy of all kinds. And why not? Animal fat tastes good--that's why fast food is so popular. My transition to veganism began after viewing Supersize Me. Of course, I knew that fast food was bad and generally did not eat much of it. But then I started reading the books of the people Morgan Spurlock interviewed. Meat was relatively easy to give up after reading about its impact on my health and the environment. And, of course, the exploitation of animals on factory farms in the name of profit. I would now describe myself as a pacifist. So, what about products that don't result in the death of an animal? In my opinion, many animals are still exploited and mistreated even if harvesting their products does not result in their immediate death. Plus, I knew from a brief stint with vegetarianism from 1999-2000, I knew that I would just replace meat with gobs and gobs of dairy and eggs. So, I would be merely replacing saturated fat and cholesterol from meat with the same things from dairy.

So I gave it all up. And it was not easy. I had to develop a new set of cooking skills and a new way of thinking about food. I have been cooking since I was in Grade Seven, and while my Mom was all about balanced meals and eating fruits and veggies (to stave of scurvy, she told us), each meal was constructed around meat or dairy. So, if you can't get chicken breasts out of the fridge and plan a meal around them, what do you do? Vegan With a Vengeance was my first cookbook, and Fat Free Vegan Kitchen was the first blog to give me plenty of inspiration. And I hated the fake cheese. I described Galaxy Vegan Cheese as not unlike plastic vomit, and thought Vegan Gourmet was watery and just plain gross. I think VG is OK now, but I really don't feel like dishing out the $5.75 it costs here. But things changed as I lost my taste for animal fat and started thinking beyond veganizing the old recipes I knew. I truly think that the North American diet conditions us to develop a love of fat, sugar, and salt. You only have to see a kid get his first taste of chocolate to understand this. The first time I tasted Silk's soy nog I thought it was vile. The second time I thought, "hey, this is OK." Now, I think it is awesome. I still don't really go for a lot of vegan cheese, personally, but the kids like to have "real pizza." Even then, you really can't lay it on like dairy cheese.

This blog has proved to me just how diverse and tasty the vegetable world is. We have never eaten better in our entire lives and enjoy a wide array of foods and cuisines every week. Veganism is a very tangible thing I can do for the benefit of my health, the animals, and the planet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Refried Bean Quesadillas

I have discovered that my kids will wolf down just about anything in tortilla. This is a great way to get them to eat beans, and especially refried beans. So tonight was Seis de Mayo at our house (sort of a continued celebration of the Mexican victory over the French) with some Tequila Chili Lime Tofu and these addictive quesadillas.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 can low fat vegetarian refried beans
- minced sweet onion
- shredded vegan cheese
- small wheat tortillas

METHOD
Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat
1. Spread a thick layer of refried beans on half of a torilla. Top with some diced onion and cheese. Fold tortillas in half. Cook in pan for 2-3 mins per side, until golden and cheese is melted.

I also made this utterly amazing nacho dip. It is a tester recipe from Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook. It is really, really great.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mattar Tofu Paneer

Did I ever mention that one reason I became vegan was because I hated cheese? No? That's because I loved cheese. I especially loved Indian paneer, and I often made my own. But, that was back when I suckled at the teat of death (as Isa would say, ha ha). Mattar paneer is one of my favourite dishes, and this version uses pressed tofu in place of paneer.


INGREDIENTS
For the paneer
- 1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu, sliced in half horizontally, and pressed under a fairly heavy weight for at least 30 mins, then cubed
- 3 tbsp soy milk
- 1 tbsp plain soy yogurt
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp miso
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, finely ground

METHOD
1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Whisk together wet ingredients in a small bowl, making sure miso dissolves. Add tofu to frying pan and spray lightly with oil. Fry for about 10 mins, turning regularly, until all sides are golden.
2. Add miso mixture to pan and mix well. Allow liquid to absorb/evaporate (will happen fairly quickly), then remove tofu from pan.

INGREDIENTS
For the curry
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 fresh tomatoes)
- tofu paneer
- 1/2 cup plain soy milk
- 1 tsp lemon juice

METHOD
1. Heat frying pan over medium heat. Melt butter and fry onions, cilantro, and ginger for 5 mins. Add spices and fry for 2 mins.
2. Add peas and tomatoes (with juices) and cook for 5 mins. Add paneer, soymilk, and lemon juice. Bring to bubbling and let simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat and serve.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

BBQ Bananas

Today I got the idea to BBQ bananas. A quick Google search revealed that my brain wave was far from original. Oh well. But, I figured that since grilling fruit (pineapple, peaches) makes it sweeter and tastier, why not try bananas? I also figured that topping them with some caramel sauce would be pretty good. The boys then suggested that caramel and chocolate would be even better. The jury is still out on the final product. The taste was good, but my brain got confused when it recognized banana taste but not typical banana texture and temperature. Sons #1 and #2 ate half of their bananas but slyly downed all their chocolate and caramel, while Son #3 ate all of his plus the extras his brothers left behind.

INGREDIENTS
- 4 large ripe bananas
- chocolate sauce

METHOD
1. Grill bananas, skins on, for 8-10 mins over a medium hot grill until skins are blackened.
2. Remove bananas from skins, slice in half, and top with caramel and chocolate sauce.

Banana Halva

OK, so let's just admit right up front that this dessert is not going to win any photo contests. Cooked bananas just aren't that attractive. But if you are planning an Indian feast any time soon you may want to try this sweet dessert.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 4-5 ripe bananas, sliced
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
- nutmeg

METHOD
1. Melt margarine in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add banana slices and fry for 5 mins. Remove from heat and mash well.
2. Return to heat and add 1/4 cup of the water. Cook for 5 mins, stirring constantly. Add sugar and the rest of the water. Bring to bubbling and cook for 15-20 mins, stirring regularly, until thick.
3. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl, or several smaller serving bowls. Sprinkle some nutmeg over top and garnish with almonds. Can be served hot or cold.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Stuffed Potato Cakes

I thought I would try some new dishes for tonight's Indian feast. First up: these stuffed potato cakes. As far as stuffed things go, they are pretty easy to make. The boys loved them, and so did I.

INGREDIENTS
- 3 large yukon gold potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1/4 tsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- oil for frying

METHOD
Makes 5 large, or 10 small, potato cakes
1. Boil potatoes with skins on for about 15 mins, until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool, peel and mash. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and knead for 1 min until smooth. Set aside.
2. While potatoes are cooking, saute onion and ginger in the margarine over medium heat for 5 mins. Add chili powder, tumeric, cilantro and cook for 1 min. Add peas and mix well. Add a splash of water if needed, and cook until peas are heated through. Add lemon juice and garam masala and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Divide potato mixture into 5 or 10 pieces. Flatten a piece in your hands and place a tbsp (less for smaller cakes) of the pea mixture of in the middle. Fold potato mixture over and seal all sides. Repeat.
4. Mix soy milk and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Dip potato cake in the soy milk and roll in breadcrumbs. Fry in oil over medium heat for 2-3 mins per side, until golden brown.
5. Drain potato cakes on a paper towel or paper bag and serve.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ciabatta: Take One

I tried my hand at making ciabatta today. The end result was pretty good, but not perfect. As you can see from the pic, I did not get that characteristic light and bubbled texture throughout the whole loaf. Also, the texture was a bit tougher than I would have liked. It was still really tasty, but more like a standard Italian loaf than a ciabatta. I need to rethink some of the steps of making the bread--when I get it right I will post the recipe.

Vegan Shredded BBQ Beef Panini

It's all about the sandwiches this week. Lunch at home is so great.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 2 panini rolls
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, halved and sliced
- 6 slices Yves roast beef lunch meat, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
- 2 slices vegan cheddar cheese

METHOD
1. Slice panini and spread a thin layer of margarine on all four pieces.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat. Saute onion for 5 mins, until just beginning to brown. Add in roast beef slices and fry for 1 min. Add BBQ sauce and mix well.
3. Remove beef mixture from pan, wipe clean, and return to heat. Toast panini (butter side down, of course) for 1 min in pan, or until golden brown.
4. Put cheese on bottom bun and top with beef mixture. Add top bun and enjoy!