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!