Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Portuguese Sweet Bread: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

Portuguese sweet bread? Yeah, I've never heard if it either. But, supposedly it's a thing, and according the Reinhart the east coast is the "center of the Portuguese sweet bread universe." I wonder what Portugal thinks of that. This is a large, fluffy, slightly sweet loaf, scented with lemon and orange extracts. It has a thick, deep brown crust and makes great toast in the morning. I also can't find the picture I took of the bread so go check out this one.

1. I used 9" pie plates, as Reinhart instructs, but my dough did not rise and overlap the edge as his instruction indicate. No matter. It still baked up just fine.
2. I baked for 50 mins. Any more and it would have been too dry, I think.

1. I replaced the powdered milk with powdered soy.
2. I replaced the eggs with an equal weight of soy yogurt.
3. I replaced the butter with margarine.
4. I replaced the egg wash with plain soy milk.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Your Clay Baker, Your BBQ, and You

Some people are a little baffled when it comes to vegan BBQ, but the truth is you can cook just about anything on a grill. One of my favourite thing to do is use clay bakeware to cook a variety of dishes. I love this little pig clay baker--perfect for potatoes. When you cook in a clay baker you can get rid of the aluminum foil and still get the same result. Pictured below are fingerling potatoes, tossed in a little olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
And here are some carrots, potatoes, and onions. Onions are a nice addition to any roasted vegetable since they come out very sweet and add great flavour.
And here is an Italian-style stew: veggies, white beans, and red wine, basted with a tomato sauce and baked without a lid in a high sided clay dish. If want to baste your veggies, make sure you use a warm liquid since adding something cold to hot clay will cause it to break.
The method is all pretty much the same. You toss the veggies in oil, then bake for about 40 mins, stirring the veggies regularly to keep them from burning to the bottom of the baker. You can use the lid or not. Keep the temperature at around 550 degrees, monitoring it with a thermometer like you see here.
And, of course, you can always grill some tofu.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Poolish Baguettes: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

Reading Reinhart's description of this bread makes we want to visit Paris. But, alas! I don't think I will be doing that anytime soon (read: never). I am always amazed at how essentially the same ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt) mixed in different proportions using different methods can make so many different kinds of bread. This is still a baguette, but it uses poolish instead of pate fermente. It also uses sifted wheat flour in an attempt to approximate clear flour. As Reinhart admits, we can't make our bread in "the magical environment of Paris," but this is still pretty good.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Broccoli Risotto

For some odd reason I had a hankering for risotto the other day. So I made some. Maybe it's because I have not had risotto for a while, maybe it was the broccoli, or maybe it was the nooch, but I totally loved this dish and could not get enough. It could also be the fact that I made my own veggie broth. Usually I just use water, thinking, "Hey, I'm cooking with veggies so it'll turn into veggie broth on its own. Right?" I did not make a real production of it, just 7 cups of water, a diced onion, carrot, celery stalk and leaves, and some parsley boiled for 30 mins. Easy. And totally worth it.

- 7 cups veggie broth, warm
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 2 cups small broccoli florets (or just chopped)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or more to taste)
- 2 tbsp margarine

1. Heat large saucepan over med-hi heat. Add oil and margarine and saute shallots and garlic for a few mins, until soft but not brown.
2. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, for a few mins until it gets that translucent look. Add salt and pepper, then about 1/2 cup of broth. Bring to bubbling, stirring, until reduced. Then add wine and repeat.
3. Keep adding broth and stirring, letting to reduce each time (the whole process is going to take about 20 minutes). You will probably want to reduce the heat to medium.
4. When you are down to your last cup and a half or so of broth (about 5-8 minutes from being done), add the broccoli. They key is to have small florets so they cook quickly. Keep adding broth as per usual, until rice is tender and broccoli is cooked. You may not use all the broth.
5. Remove from heat and stir in nooch and margarine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pizza Napoletana: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

Reinhart's discussion of good pizza dough really had my mouth watering, but in the final analysis I was not impressed with this recipe. I have tried this a few time, figuring that the first time I did something wrong. The result is always the same: a too-wet dough that tastes OK but is not worth the time (and space in the fridge). To be honest, I prefer Isa's recipe in Vegan With a Vengeance (which is like this one, more or less). Pictured are the wee pizzas I make for the kids for school pizza day. Boy, is my pizza stone ever dirty!

1. Reinhart says that the dough (when mixed with an electric mixer) should clear the sides of the bowl and stick to the bottom. I prefer my dough a little firmer, and I am not sure how he is able to toss the dough in the air as pictured in the cookbook. My dough was so soft I could just pat it into shape.
2. The recipe also asks you to shape the dough into balls (that will later become crusts) and refrigerate overnight. Makes sure you make this recipe before shopping day do you have the room.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

In Praise of Smoked Paprika

I finally got around to getting some propane for the BBQ. Usually I grill right through the winter, but I think the cold temps and snow up here in the north is slowly sapping my will to grill. Either that or I am getting old. In any event, I inaugurated BBQ season 2010 with grilled oyster mushrooms. I can't get enough of these because they really have a great grill flavour and texture. The perfect addition to any grilled menu are these potatoes, tossed in smoked paprika. If you have not had smoked paprika, get thee to the bulk food store post haste! Smoked paprika is great for many things (southern tofu, for example) but I particularly like it on potatoes since it makes a great brunch dish, or a side for a BBQ meal. Pictured is a pound of baby red potatoes, boiled for 15 mins, until soft but not mushy, then chopped in half and fried in a bit of olive oil. When potatoes are cooked with a crispy outside, season with kosher salt to taste and toss in about 1 tbsp of smoked paprika. I like to add it when the pan is still hot so it smokes a little before it coats the potatoes. Truly addictive!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Panettone: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

There is nothing like baking Christmas bread in the middle of a heat wave. But, who am I to argue with Peter Reinhart? This recipe takes quite a bit of time since it relies mainly on wild yeast (i.e. a sourdough starter) to rise, but it makes some wonderful bread. I really was not in the mood for candied fruit peel (which I can only handle once a year) so I made more of a fruit loaf with currants and raisins. I actually forgot the almonds the recipe calls for. Oh well. Next time. I'm sorry the picture is so terrible (it looked way better on the little preview screen), it really does not do justice to this bread.

1. As mentioned above, you need to have some sourdough starter on the go to make this bread in two days. Otherwise, you are going to need a good week to get your starter going.
2. I usually use rum in these kinds of bread (and am always disappointed that you really cannot taste it in the final loaf) but this time I used whiskey. The flavour really came through.
3. I did not have panettone pans or papers, so I baked them in 8" round pans.

1. I subbed soy milk for dairy milk, and margarine for the butter.
2. I subbed a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax whisked into 3 tbsp water) for the egg, and did not bother to replace the egg yolk. Soy yogurt would also work fine, or you could just forget about replacing the egg.