Thursday, June 25, 2009

15 Minute Peanut Butter Cookies

From Foodsies!

Great googely moogely it's been a long time since I last posted. Oh frozen food, you are so alluring. To welcome myself back, here are some super easy and super delicious peanut butter cookies. And yes, they only take about 15 minutes from pulling out the first ingredient to nomming down on a warm cookie. I love them because you can get a cookie craving and then almost immediately have actual cookies in front of you. It's faster than going to the store and buying cookies.



15 Minute Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Earth Balance
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar*
1/2 TBSP Vanilla
3 TBSP Water
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda


* You can also just use 1 cup of regular sugar and omit the brown sugar.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.

Add the Earth Balance, Peanut Butter, Sugars, Vanilla, and Water to a medium mixing bowl and cream and/or stir until everything is well mixed and as unlumpy as you can get it.

Add the flour and baking soda and mix thoroughly. You might need to add another TBSP of water if it's too dry to form into little balls.

Pinch off ping-pong ball sized globs of the dough and roll in your palm to form a.. ping-pong ball. Place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat, placing the balls about 1-2 inches apart, until you have all of the cookies.

Using a fork, gently mash down the balls so that they are flat and marked with the tines of the fork.

Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. You want the top of the cookie to have some squish, but not be too soft.

Let cool and enjoy.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Chickpea Salad (a Clean Out Your Fridge kind of salad)

From Foodsies!

Oi! It's been a long time since i've posted. This is mostly due to me a) not cooking much and b) f-ing up what I do try and cook. Also, i've taken up regular (read: constant) bicycling, but my tubby body hasn't yet adjusted and so i'm too wiped to cook most evenings.
I get home from work, park the bike, and sort of collapse into a happy cold-water and endorphin-fueled haze on the sofa. Blissful, but not inclined to cook.

On the plus side, it's made me totally crave veggies and fruits and water. Yay? Such foods aren't generally too exciting to blog about (look, an apple!) but last night's dinner juuuust qualifies for a post.

After a ride around JP with Abigail last night, I was craving something veggieful and something cold (first really hot day of the year!). Seemed like a perfect time for a salad. !!! What !!! I know, me! Making a salad! Anyway, I picked my own mouth up off the floor and threw together the following Chickpea And Whatever Veggies You Have Salad, served on greens with some wild rice as a side.

Enjoy after the jump:


Chickpea and Whatever Veggies You Have Salad

Ingredients:

1 Can Chickpeas, strained and rinsed
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
Fresh Parsley and/or Dill to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Some combination of the following:
1 Red Onion
2 Tomatoes
3-4 Stalks Celery
1 Cucumber
2-3 Carrots
1-2 Red/Green/Orange/Yellow Pepper(s)
Anything Else You Think Would Taste Good In There


Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss around. Chill for 30-60 minutes in the fridge.

Serve on a bed of lettuce/greens. For dinner I served it with some long grain and wild rice that i'd had hanging out in the pantry forever. Turned out to be a very tasty, healthy, and pretty dinner!


From Foodsies!

I used the leftovers for my lunch today - I took a whole wheat tortilla and spread it with some roasted red pepper hummus (made by Abigail, yummm) and then topped it with the chickpea salad and some of the leftover wild rice from last night's dinner. I wish i'd remembered to add in a few olives, but otherwise it was a great lunch.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vegan Black Bean Pupusas

From Foodsies!

Pupusas are a recent discovery for me. I've been to Honduras, where Pupusas are a common dish, but somehow never had them. But there is a place a few blocks from my house that makes them (places like this are called "pupusarias") but they aren't vegan, as they make a been and cheese version. I did get them to make a just-bean version once (delicious), but have been refused every time since.

Soooo I decided to try making my own. It's not the hardest thing in the world, and luckily they taste great even if you have beans spilling out all over (hopefully my technique will improve...)

This isn't a completely authentic recipe, since I used veggie broth instead of plain water, and threw in some cumin and coriander, but whatdoyawant? I saw it suggested in a recipe here and thought those additions sounded too good to pass up.

So without further ado...


Black Bean Pupusas

Ingredients

2 Cups Masa Harina*
1 Cup Veggie Broth (at room temp)
1-2 tsp Cumin
1-2 tsp Coriander
1/2 Cup Refried Black Beans (or regular black beans, mushed up)

*Masa Harina is a cornmeal made by treating dried corn with lime (calcium hydroxide) and water. It is not the same as corn flour, which is dried corn that has not been treated with lime.

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the masa harina with the spices (if using), and then slowly add the veggie broth. You may also then have to add additional water (I think I had to add a further 1/2 cup, but do it one TBSP at a time!)
You want a dough that is wet but holds together, and which doesn't crack when you press down on it (if it cracks a wee bit, it's ok, but ideally it won't crack at all).

Now cover with a damp towel and set aside for 5 minutes. Don't set aside for too long (I forgot and walked away for like 45 minutes) or else it will get dry and then you will have to work really hard to re-moisten the dough and get pupusas that aren't cracked all over (notice how cracked and ugly and spilling-forth-of-black-beans mine are.. this is why).

Now cut the dough in roughly 8 pieces and roll them into little individual balls of dough. Take each one and using your thumb to make an indentation and form a sort of urn with it (check out the linked recipe above - it has GREAT pictures). Place a spoonful of beans in the hole and then fold over/pinch together the dough to close it up.

Carefully pat the ball into a thick pattie and place between two layers of sarah wrap. Slowly roll it out with a rolling pin until about 4 inches in diameter and maybe 1/4 thick.

Heat a skillet and cook them until gently browned on each side. Eat fresh and hot from the skillet (after letting them cool a minute so you don't burn off your tongue) for best taste.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pasta with a White Wine Cream Sauce

From Foodsies!

When my artichoke and olives mix overpowered my tortellini, I thought of making a white wine reduction sauce instead. I finished all the tortellini, however, so I just paired this with some basic pasta. And now that I have, I think it's probably best that way. It's a subtle (but delicious) sauce that I wouldn't want to have to fight for attention with tortellini. I think it's best with plain pasta - angel hair, linguine, or penne in particular.

The sauce contains no butter but captures a lot of the creamy, buttery taste of a Beurre Blanc (and without all that fat). A dab on your finger might not convince you, but pour some over a bit of pasta and the flavors will really shine. I do believe this is my favorite pasta sauce, and it's pretty easy (albeit time consuming) to make.


White Wine Cream Sauce with Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

1 Head of Garlic
5 Shallots, diced*
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Cup White Wine
1.5 Cups Soymilk
1/4 Cup Soymilk mixed with 1 TBSP Cornstarch
Salt and Pepper


* You can use a medium onion instead if you don't have shallots

Instructions

Take your head of garlic and cut off about 1/4 inch from the top (the pointy end). Wrap in aluminum foil, drizzling a bit of olive oil on top of the garlic first.
Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

In the meantime, dice your shallots or onion.

When the garlic is done, remove from the foil and squeeze out the cloves into a small bowl. Mash the garlic.

Add a TBSP of olive oil to a saucepan over high heat and add the shallots and garlic. Saute for a minute or two and then add the cup of white wine.

Bring it to a boil and reduce by 3/4. This means you let it boil rapidly until evaporation leaves you with 1/4 of the liquid you had before. As the liquid boils down, you may have to periodically turn down the heat as well. And of course, it will thicken as the ratio of shallots and garlic to wine changes. Be warned that to do this properly will take a while. You can go to the next step before it's fully reduced but then you'll be missing the point of reduction (as the wine reduces, the flavor becomes concentrated and the alcohol burns off. Then whatever liquid you add to the reduction will suck up all those amazing flavors. It's worth being patient for).

Once reduced, lower the heat and add the plain soymilk. Stir. Add the soymilk and cornstarch mixture.

Simmer and stir for a few minutes until it thickens a little. It may get weirdly poofy but that's fine. Mine didn't even thicken much, but you can thicken to your preference. If it does not thicken enough, you can add more cornstarch (dissolved in a TBSP or two of soymilk) or whisk in a TBSP or two of flour. Regardless, allow it to continue to simmer (stirring occasionally) for another 10 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and puree in a blender.

Serve over pasta. Can be refrigerated for 2 days or so, although you may have to give it a stir or two after it's settled in the fridge.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tortellini From Scratch

From Foodsies!

I love home made tortellini. I love forming them, and I love eating them. It might take a little time, but it's easy and (to me) fun. Plus, they freeze so easily that you could spend an afternoon or evening making a ton of them, and then be set. It hadn't occurred to me before, but the same can be done with dumplings/momo. I'm totally on a mission to provide my own 2am junk food ;)

Once I had cooked the tortellini I served them with a mix of artichokes, olives, and grape tomatoes. I think that was a bit of a mistake, because while that mixture was good, it overwhelmed the flavor of the tortellini themselves. When I make it for my parents (or anytime in the future) i'll probably stick with a basic white wine sauce (like a vegan Beurre Blanc) instead. I bet a good oily pesto would be tasty as well.

For the filling I just made a nice, fairly mild tofu filling. Some diced mushrooms or spinach would have been nice in there as well.

Now that i'm making myself hungry, here's the recipe and process (the tortellini-forming is the best part!)...


Hand Made Vegan Tortellini

Ingredients

Tortellini Dough

3 Cups Flour*
2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
2 tsp Salt
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Cup Water


Tofu Filling

1 Package Firm Tofu, drained and pressed
2 TBSP Lemon Juice
1 TBSP Olive Oil
3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
2 TBSP Yellow or White Miso**
2 tsp Sage
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper (or to taste)


* You can use All Purpose Flour or an equal mix of All Purpose and Whole Wheat. I used half All Purpose and half White Whole Wheat.

** If you don't have Miso, you can use a teaspoon of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or skip it altogether. The miso just gives it a slightly fermented flavor like cheese has.

Instructions

Drain and press the tofu by placing the tofu on a plate, with another plate face down on top of the tofu. Put a heavy book or two on top of the upper plate so that it's pressing down on the tofu.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the Flour, Nutritional Yeast, and Salt. Add Olive Oil and then slowly add water until you have a dough that is not sticky but is also not too dry and stiff. Knead 3-5 minutes. Roll in a tsp of oil in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling:

Remove the tofu from between the plates. The bottom plate should have accumulated a few spoonfuls of water. Dump these off. Carefully press the tofu between your hands over the sink to squeeze out a touch more water if possible.

Place the tofu in a medium mixing bowl and mash up with your hands and/or a fork until it has a crumbly ricotta-like texture (if it's too watery the texture will be more mushy than crumbly but frankly that is just fine also).

Add all of the other filling ingredients to the tofu and mix well with a fork. Taste and adjust seasonings or ingredients accordingly.

You will probably still have some time left before the dough is ready. I would not suggest starting an attention-needing sauce at this time, because forming the tortellini once the dough is ready is fairly attention-needing itself. But hey, you only live once.

Once the dough has rested for 30 minutes, flour a large cutting board or other surface. Tear off about 1/3 or 1/4 of the dough and roll out on the floured board until it is very thin, but not see-through, and you don't want it so thin that it rips. Hopefully you can get an idea of the thinness/thickness from my pictures.

From Foodsies!

Once rolled out, you can either cut out squares (about 2x2 inches) which is slow and dumb and is what I did, or you can use a cookie cutter to cut out circles which you will be folding over the same way as the squares (smart, and what I will do next time).

Once you have some cut out, place a small teaspoon of filling in the middle and fold one "corner" over to the other, to form a triangle or half-moon. Smoosh the edges down.

Fold the center "corner" up and then fold the ends around. Pinch them together to seal them to each other.

I know it doesn't make much sense. This link might help, since it has step by step pictures. It's the same as my directions, only they fold over the center corner at the end, and I do it earlier. Doesn't matter which way.

Soon you will have an army of tortellini!

From Foodsies!

At this point you can either freeze them or cook them.

To cook them, you can either boil some water and then add the tortellinis to boil for 3-5 minutes, or if you are worried they are too delicate for boiling, you can steam them in a steamer for 10 minutes or so.

I went with the steaming to be on the safe side, but they'll be more tender if you boil them.

To freeze them, coat a cookie sheet or other flat tray/dish with flour and add a layer of tortellini. Place in the freezer for 1 hour - overnight, until frozen solid. Then you can throw them in a freezer bag or tupperware and put them back in the freezer.

To cook after they're frozen, you can boil them straight from the freezer (no defrosting needed). Just boil for 6-7 minutes instead of 3-5 like you would if they were fresh.

I can't wait til I have some frozen batches that I can just cook at a moment's notice. Can't beat home-made food that can be boiled for a few minutes and then served just like the store-bought kind :)

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Overnight Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

From Foodsies!

Fair warning: while these cinnamon rolls are easy and take little actual work, they do take forever to make because of the long resting times needed to rise properly. It's basically like Do Step 1. Wait 3 hours. Do step 2. Go to sleep. Wake up, bake, devour. So: easy, but requires a bit of planning.

Fortunately, you can freeze them once baked, and have them ready at a moment's (or thawing's) notice.

The reward for all this waiting around: Soft, sweet, flavorful cinnamon rolls that will rock your world (and they're vegan too, of course!)

Oh yeah, the "downside" is that they require a sourdough starter. Whatever. Just accept the fact that almost all bread/roll/biscuit/pancake recipes from me are going to involve sourdough starter. That stuff multiplies fast, and I hate to throw it out and waste it, so I gotta use it! Plus, i'm completely addicted to the depth of flavor that it gives all baked goods, as well as the communion it provides with a slower kind of life.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe for these delicious cinnamon rolls (which I made in part as a test to make sure they are good enough to bake for my parents Easter morning... and in part because who doesn't love cinnamon rolls?)



Overnight Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Dough

1 1/2 Cup Sourdough Starter
2/3 Cup Soymilk
2 TBSP Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 TBSP Melted Earth Balance/"butter"
1 tsp Salt
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda

"Filling"

3 TBSP Melted or Softened Earth Balance/"butter"
2 or 3 TBSP Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Sugar


Glaze*

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 TSBP Soymilk
1/2 tsp Vanilla


* If you want something more like "icing" than "glaze," double the powdered sugar and add in 1 TBSP of melted butter. Stir. Adjust the sugar vs. milk ratio until you have the desired consistency. You can also add in a splash of maple syrup or even coffee (yummmm!!!!) for some extra flavor.

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Sourdough Starter, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla, Melted Earth Balance, Salt, and Baking Soda.

Slowly add the flour a little at a time until you have a dough that is soft but not sticky, and which is cohesive enough to be handled.

Rub some Earth Balance in a bowl and roll the dough around in it so it is coated in a thin sheen of butter. Cover and let rise until doubled...

It will take about 3 hours to double. You can leave it for longer and I suppose if you were in a pinch you could do it for a little shorter. If you have a gas oven, you can set it in there and the pilot light of the oven should provide a good temperature for it to rise (keep the oven off).

Once it's doubled in size, punch the dough down**. Punching the dough down just involves pressing it down with your hand. No need to go crazy on it, as the following step of rolling it out will also help the process.

Sprinkle a cutting board or table with a good amount of flour. You can add some sprinkles of cinnamon also (the dough will happily pick it up when you lay it down, yum). Roll out the dough into a rectangle***. You want it to be maybe 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick and it will probably wind up around 9x18 in size****.

Now brush/spread the melted or softened butter all over it. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle as evening as possible all over, even out to the edges. If you don't feel like mixing, you can sprinkle with sugar and THEN with cinnamon, instead of mixing them. Either way works with only slightly different results.

Roll it up! You can roll it up one of two ways, the long way or the wide way. I think the wide way is the more common method, but I did the the long way and obviously they turned out fine. The long way results in fewer but larger rolls, with more spirals of cinnamon sugar yumminess. The wide way results in more rolls, and like I said, it's the generally recommended method (although mine turned out fine, clearly). In any case, rolling towards you is easier than rolling away or to the side of you.

Pinch the "seam" down so that the roll doesn't unroll itself too easily. Also, if your ends are messy, ignore it. It all comes out fine once it's baked (and those "ruined" ends can be claimed by you, a cook making a noble sacrifice).

Now take a sharp knife and cut the roll into rounds about 1.5 or 2 inches thick. Arrange them touching on a well-greased baking sheet (or in a casserole dish if they will fit, which is what I did) and refrigerate overnight.

Wake up the next morning remove from the fridge. Let them sit out somewhere warm while your oven preheats to 400. When my oven preheats the stovetop gets pretty warm, so that is where I like to set them (or over top of our strongest radiator if the heat is on.. which in Boston is um, most of the year). Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400. You want them to get a little golden brown and to be firm when you tap them.

If you're eating them now, make the glaze/icing while they cool a bit and then spoon the glaze on them. Proceed to devour.

If you plan to freeze them to have around for cinnamon roll emergencies, do NOT glaze them. Just freeze them. When you want to eat them, thaw them carefully in the microwave or open air (or in the fridge overnight) and then heat and then glaze. Got it?

** Feels like you're defeating all the rising doesn't it? Well, you're not. The rising allows the dough to get gassy, and punching it down basically breaks up the gas bubbles into more gas bubbles, which is critical for the texture of the final product. It also helps distribute the sugar that the sourdough yeast eats, as well as evening out temperature and moisture

*** Good luck with that. Mine was a sort of vaguely rectangular oval.

**** If it were a real rectangle, of course. Which it totally won't be.

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM oh yeah and I took a nice long bike ride the day before to compensate for all the cinnamon rolls ;)

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Asparagus Tart

From Foodsies!

I recently came across some images and recipes for Asparagus Tarts, of which i'd previously never heard, and I was immediately drawn to the simple yet elegant presentation, and the prospect of dining on mouthwatering asparagus, which is a vegetable I love but have never tried cooking myself.

If you followed any of the links in the above paragraph, you will notice that a typical Asparagus Tart: a) Includes lots of cheese of one kind or another, and b) Is based upon frozen puff pastry dough.

Boo to both of those things. I mean, I am not volunteering to make my own puff pastry dough, but on the other hand, I want more control over my dough ingredients. So I figured why not just make a nice and flaky savory pie dough and use that instead? I used more shortening than I normally would and handled the dough as little as possible, to get a nice flaky crust. I also added a liberal amount of dill and thyme to the dough for flavor (turned out great - I could eat the dough all day long by itself).

For the cheese, I had to think about what kinds of cheese were typically being used in these things. Most often it was Gruyere or Ricotta. If i'm not mistaken (it's been a while, I admit), Gruyere is sort of mild and nutty and ricotta is a little sharper and tangy. So instead of using cheese (duh), I whipped up creamy spread based in tofu, almonds, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. The idea was to create something creamy with a bit of tang and a bit of nuttiness.

As you can see from the picture at the top, I also took the liberty of adding some mushrooms and tomato. Don't want the asparagus to get lonely.

It was a surprisingly easy dish to make, and didn't take too long either. It's at the top of the list now for Easter, particularly since it's versatile and can be brunch, lunch, or dinner.


Spring Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

Crust

2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Shortening (or just regular Earth Balance)
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Ice Water
1-2 tsp Dill
1-2 tsp Thyme

Tofu/Almond Filling

1/4 Cup Silken Tofu
1/4 Cup Almonds*
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 TBSP Lemon Juice
3 TBSP Veggie Broth (or Soy Milk)
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt

* You can also use Cashews. If you don't have a VitaMix you may want to chop the nuts in a food processor or something before blending them.

Veggies

1 Bunch Asparagus
1 Tomato (or 2 small tomatoes)
4 Mushrooms (any kind)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375. Do it now. Don't be like me and totally forget and then have to stand around waiting for like 10 minutes.

First you want to make the dough, because it will need to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (although 15 will do) before being rolled out.

Dump the flour, dill, and thyme into a mixing bowl and add the shortening (or butter) in small pieces. Cut the shortening into the flour with a cutter or by using your hand to squeeze and mix, until the flour and shortening are mixed and it looks like cornmeal or something instead of teeny flour grains.

Slowly add half the water and mix. Add water a teeny bit at a time until the dough is just wet enough to stay together like dough. It should be a little bit flaky. If you want, tear off a small piece and flatten it out. Pull the edges - you want it to stretch a little, but without breaking, and you want it to more or less keep its form after being stretched (rather than sucking back into whatever shape it was in before). You're basically making a pie crust here, so just go with it. You don't want dough that is really wet, but it has to be wet enough to hold together and be rolled out and all that. If the dough is falling apart while you're handing it, then add some more water.

Cover the mixing bowl with a slightly damp cloth and place in the fridge.

Now on to the filling. Dump all of your filling ingredients into a blender and blend. Note that you may want to chop the nuts a little in a food processor first. Even my Vitamix was a bit huffy about the whole unsoaked almonds. Add half of each of the liquid amounts. Blend until the mix is smooth. Check the consistency. You will probably want to add the other half of the liquid ingredients. It should be creamy but not too runny. Taste and adjust any seasonings as you wish. Just make it taste good, basically. Pour into a bowl or container of some kind and place in the fridge for now.

Now for the veggies! By the way, this my favorite part, possibly my favorite Thing To Do With a Vegetable (other than feed them to the dog when he begs and watch him look betrayed): Removing the 'wooden' ends of the asparagus.

Why is this so fun? It's easy, it's tactile, and it makes a great little popping noise! Take a piece of asparagus in your hand so that the spiky end is towards your wrist. Bend the other end down with your fingers (like brace on one finger and press down with another). The end will break and snap off with a satisfying little pop. And no worries about where to break it - the asparagus automagically breaks right where the 'wooden' part meets the yummy part (it's stiffer, thus 'wooden' and so it breaks instead of bends). Toss/compost/feed to the dog those wooden ends and set the rest of the spears aside.

Rinse and slice your mushrooms. Slice your tomato(es).

Place the asparagus in a pot and cover with water and a pinch of salt. Heat to boiling and let boil lightly for 2-4 minutes (2 if you like crispy asparagus, 4 if you like limp chewy asparagus).

Toss the mushrooms in a skillet and saute for a minute or two in a dab of oil until they're just a little brown and soft, but not fully cooked. If you're feeling lazy, you can probably just skip this step but they won't be as tender in the end.

Now that you've got the veggies done, it should be about time to take out the dough.

Roll the dough out on a well floured surface (important!). You want to roll it out in a generally rectangular shape (have fun with that) about 18 inches long and 10 inches across (give or take an inch or two either way). Now roll the sides in towards the middle a little bit to form a raised edge all the way 'round. It should look a bit like a cookie sheet made of dough. Speaking of baking sheets, you now want to (carefully!) lift and transfer the dough over to a greased baking sheet. To make this as easy as possible, place the baking sheet as close to the dough as possible, and when you move the dough, do it decisively and quickly.

Brush the dough with a little olive oil and bake it (by itself, no spread or veggies yet) for about 10 minutes.

Remove the dough from the oven.

Now take out your tofu/almond spread and spread it all over the main part of the dough (the low part). You want to spread it on fairly thick, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Then take your asparagus and trim the ends so that it will fit on the dough and lay it down, pressing gently into the tofu/almond spread. Do the same with the tomato and mushroom slices. Sprinkle the whole thing with a bit of salt and pepper, and brush some oil across the top of everything.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the dough is hard and um, looks done. I took mine out at 25 minutes and I think it probably would have been fine if i'd left it in there another 5 (and might even have been ok had I taken it out 5 minutes earlier).

Now doesn't that look and taste fancy?


From Foodsies!


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Pancakes and Crepes (a round, flat Sunday)

From Foodsies!


Ah, nothing quite like breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a nice Sunday!

I started off the day by making Sourdough Pancakes. It's a great use of extra sourdough starter, and makes pancakes that are not only egg free (duh) but don't even require soy milk! Craziness!

And yet they turned out really great - maybe not the poofiest/fluffiest pancakes ever, but had a light and fluffy texture nonetheless (if that makes sense). And the sourdough really did add a pleasant (though subtle) yeasty flavor. Mmm.
And cold, they were much better than a normal cold pancake.

I ate leftover pancakes for lunch during a short hike with Oscar and some friends.

And for dinner, keeping with the flat and round theme, I made savory crepes. I prepared a Duxelle (fined chopped mushrooms and shallots) for the filling and made the crepes with buckwheat flour. Of course for the last crepe I filled it with marmalade and soy yogurt for dessert :)

Recipes after the jump:


Sourdough Pancakes (recipe adapted from Wild Fermentation)

You can make this a few different ways. This is what I tried on Sunday.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Sourdough Starter
1 1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (or half and half whole wheat and all-purpose)
1 Cup Warm Water
1 TBSP Sugar
1 TBSP Vegetable Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda


Instructions

Mix the Starter, Flour, Warm Water and Sugar together in a mixing bowl. Cover with a slightly damp towel and set in a warm space for a few hours to ferment.* You can do this overnight (so set it up the night before) to have breakfast the next day. I just put it near our best radiator for an hour. It worked, but I think the flavor is better if you let it sit longer.

*Have you noticed that you're basically just feeding your starter here? I mean, you add in more flour and water than for a normal feeding, but in a ratio such that you're still maintaining the consistency of the original starter. I therefore believe that if you had an over-abundance of recently-fed starter lying around, you could just warm it up to a little past room temperature and then proceed with the following steps as if you had done the first step.

Once you're sick of waiting, take the bowl from above and whisk in the oil and salt.

Mix the baking soda into about 1 TBSP of warm water and then add that mixture to the bowl as well. Fold it gently in to evenly distribute.

Heat a cast iron skillet and coat with a bit of oil. Once it's hot (water sizzles when flicked on it), ladle about 1/3 cup of batter on it.

Once lots of bubbles have formed in the middle and aren't re-closing, and the edges look a little firm, you can flip the pancake.
You only get one flip! This is key to making good pancakes. Flip once. Don't get excited and flip too early, but of course waiting too long isn't good either. Plan to mess up the first pancake and that should help you establish your timing :)

Once you've flipped the pancake, the 2nd side should only take about 1/3 of the time to cook as the first side did. You can also peek to see if it looks done (nice golden to golden-brown color). Toss onto a plate and pour the batter for your next pancake.

Serve and enjoy.

You can even freeze these for microwaving later.



Buckwheat Crepes (recipe from Veganomicon)

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Buckwheat Flour*
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Chickpea Flour**
1 3/4 Cup Soy Milk
1/4 Cup Water
1 TBSP Arrowroot Powder or Flour***
1/2 tsp Salt
1-2 TBSP Sugar (optional)
1 tsp Vanilla (optional)

* If you don't like buckwheat or don't have any, you can use any other kind of flour or just use All Purpose flour instead.

** I believe this provides some additional binding, but I think it's ok to just use a little more All Purpose Flour instead.

*** If you do not have Arrowroot, try about 2 TBSP of oil or melted Earth Balance in its place. You could try 1 TBSP of cornstarch as well, but the flavor is more likely to come through and be unpleasant.

Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend. Pour into a container, cover, and refrigerate for somewhere between 4 hours and overnight. This chilling process will making the crepes much easier to flip.

Once chilled, heat a griddle on medium heat and coat lightly with oil, and some Earth Balance as well if you like. With one hand, scoop 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle, and with your other hand, tilt the griddle in a circle so that the batter spreads out thinly and (more or less) evenly in a large circle.

Wait about a minute and a half until the top is fairly dry and bubbling in the center, and the edges are crisping and browning a little. Carefully scootch your spatula around the edge of the crepe until it is removed from the skillet. Flip!
Just like pancakes, the 2nd side should only take about 1/3rd of the cooking time as the first side did. Slide the finished crepe onto a waiting plate, brush a bit more Earth Balance onto the griddle, and pour out your next crepe.

Odds are that your first crepe will be a total disaster. Oscar loves this, because he usually gets some of the first crepe/pancake/tortilla/etc. because my first one is always to horrible for human consumption.

I think Veganomicon says these can be wrapped up and refrigerated, and i'm sure that like pancakes, they can be frozen as well.


Duxelle

I have been following this blog for a while, and i've been inspired to start at the beginning and teach myself to veganize all of his recipes (well, the ones I am interested in making at least). It's like a DIY vegan french cooking class ;)

At the very least, it gets me thinking about vegetables, seasonings, and cooking methods that I might not have considered before.

This is a great example. I love mushrooms, and I cook them a lot, but it never really occurred to me to make a garnish/filling like this. Maybe it was too simple for me to think of. Anyway, it makes a great filling for savory crepes!

(Also, I plan to combine the leftover Duxelle with another early recipe of the whiskblog, Portugaise (a tomato-based sauce with a base of concassées (fresh crushed tomatoes, basically)), to make a tasty pizza sauce for pizza later this week. So many snobby sounding French words, just to make a pizza to have with some beer).

Anyway, back to the Duxelle. I used 3 different kinds of mushrooms to keep things interesting: Baby Bella, some kind of asian mushroom whose name I forget right now, and regular button mushrooms. And I got to justify my purchase of cooking wines recently (a red and white)! The original recipe calls for a Medeira wine, but mine is a Marsala and it did just fine. In fact, I probably could have used a touch more :) Also, I love shallots. They're like the love child of onion and garlic.

Ingredients

2-3 Cups Mushrooms, finely diced/minced
2-4 Shallots (1/4-1/2 cup), finely diced/minced
2 TBSP Earth Balance
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Madeira or other red wine
Pinch Salt and Pepper


Instructions

Easy peasy. Dice/mince your mushrooms and shallots.

Melt Earth Balance in a skillet along with the oil.

Add the shallots and cook for a minute or two to allow the flavors to sweat out.

Add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms darken and get tender (this took about 5 minutes for me).

Add in the wine and allow the wine to boil away pretty quickly (ie, don't turn the heat way down - you want it to simmer heartily).

When most of the wine has cooked away, add a pinch of salt and pepper and you're done!

It can be refrigerated or even frozen for future use in crepes, sauces, whatever.

Here is a buckwheat crepe stuffed with Duxelle. You can also see some of the Duxelle garnished on the top.

From Foodsies!


I apologize for the shoddy picture. The crepes are brownish/greyish because of the buckwheat, and the Duxelle is by nature brown. Not wonderfully photogenic, but tasty to eat.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Handmade Corn Tortillas from Scratch (And Beans, and Almond Milk!)

From Foodsies!


I cut down on my drinking, and now that I don't come home and start in on a beer, I have been cooking instead. And by cooking, I mean "awesomely cooking things from scratch" (and by cutting down on drinking I mean 4 or less a week).

Although time consuming, it turns out that making most things from scratch is pretty easy and a lot of fun. It also gives me a powerful sense of accomplishment.

On Sunday I was sitting at home alone, kneading some sourdough. I had the bowl in which I was kneading on a chair because i'm too short to get leverage if it's on the counter, so I was bent over the chair and my arms were sore, but the dough smelled good and felt good, and even the soreness was OK by me (mostly from Pilates anyway, not from the kneading). So I was standing there kneading and kneading and kneading, and I noticed that it was fairly warm and sunny (for March in Boston) and the cat was sitting on the kitchen table watching me with his eyes half closed, and the dog was curled up near my feet. And I thought, this is it. What more can I ask for than to be standing in the sun, creating tasty and nourishing food with my own hands, surrounded by animals that love me? Well, I would have asked for Abigail to be home and in the kitchen too ;)

But that's the gist of it, that's why I am on this hand-made kick. It just feels right. It feels good. I really dig the sense of accomplishment after I look at something i've made, plus I think it all tastes better. I mean, maybe it doesn't actually taste better, but I know everything that is in it, and I know how it was prepared, and of course it's totally fresh.

So anyway: tortillas. Mmm! I love tortillas, especially corn tortillas. But i've never made my own. Well, now I have. They may be ugly, but they're mine :) And they tasted amazing hot off the griddle.

It's like the easiest procedure ever. The only thing that could make it easier would be a tortilla press (i'm totally ordering one soon).


Corn Tortillas

Ingredients (for 6 small tortillas)

1 Cup Masa Harina*
3/4 Cup Warm Water

*Masa Harina is a cornmeal made by treating dried corn with lime (calcium hydroxide) and water. It is not the same as corn flour, which is dried corn that has not been treated with lime.


Instructions

Mix the masa harina and the water in a mixing bowl. You want a dough which is slightly moist but not wet but not dry and crumbly. You may need to add more water, or more masa harina to get it right. Knead the dough a little, and if it all crumbles apart, then it needs more water. Just add a teaspoon at a time so it doesn't get too wet (it shouldn't be super slick). Knead for another minute or two until it's pretty smooth.

Cover the bowl with a damp washcloth and get the rest of your setup ready:

You will need -
2 sheets of plastic wrap
A small dish of flour (so you can keep the plastic wrap floured)
A rolling pin, beer bottle (empty!), or glass pie plate*
A plate, dusted with flour

* I haven't tried with the pie plate, but i've heard you can use it to smoosh down the ball of dough and then sorta press down the plate and push it around to make the tortilla. YMMV I guess.

Rub some flour on the two sheets of plastic wrap. This is harder than it sounds, but do your best.

Now remove the damp washcloth and place it near the plate.

Divide your dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece between your palms to form a ball. Smaller balls will make smaller tortillas and vice versa. In general you're going for something just a bit larger than a golf ball.

Place the ball on a sheet of plastic wrap and then place the other sheet of plastic wrap on top of it. Use your palm to very slighly smoosh down the ball into a thick pattie.

Now use your rolling pin to carefully roll out the dough into a flat tortilla (with the dough still between the plastic wrap, mind).

Hahaha! Not so easy is it? It took me a few tries to get it going, so just experiment. I found that the same kind of rolling strokes I use for pie crust really don't quite work here. It required a sort of modified stroke, where I would slowly press out from the middle and then roll quickly back and forth from the middle to the edge. Then the same thing but in the opposite direction, then the same thing but a few degrees over.

Once you get a totally not at all round tortilla rolled out, carefully lift off the top sheet of plastic wrap. Then pick up the bottom piece of plastic wrap (with tortilla on it) and peel the plastic wrap carefully off from the tortilla.

Place the tortilla on the plate and cover with the damp towel.

Move on to the next ball of dough.

Once you have all of the tortillas formed, you just need to cook them. It's quick.

Heat a skillet or griddle and once it's nice and hot, place a tortilla down on it. Give it about 30-60 seconds and flip it. Give it another 60 seconds and flip back. Wait 15-30 seconds and you're done.

OK, I hate cooking by timing like that. Instead, you can also just wait and when you notice the edges of the tortilla starting to curl up and/or the center start to puff up a little, it's time to flip. Feel free to nibble the edges too to see if it's done :)

Place completed tortillas on another plate and cover with a damp cloth.

I ate mine topped with black beans (from scratch), seitan (also made by me), and some veggies. To drink I had a nice glass of Almond Milk (made by me).

From Foodsies!


Black Beans

I also got adventurous and made my own black beans from scratch (ie, from dry beans not from a can).

It's easy - you soak a cup of black beans in 3 cups of water (or 2 cups beans in 6 cups water, etc) overnight in a cool dark place.

The next day, strain out the water and rinse several times with new water.

Add to a nice pot along with 3 cups of water (or 5-6 cups for 2 cups of beans) and a tsp or so of salt, and a few pinches of pepper. You can also add a little diced onion and any other seasonings you want.

Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat so it's simmering. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. When you go to stir, also check the water level. It should be fine but if for some reason it is getting really low, add a little more. The last thing you want is to run out of water and have your beans burn.

You know they're done when they're soft enough to easily smoosh. Drain and you're done.


Almond Milk

As I mentioned, I also made Almond Milk for the first time yesterday. It's a little quicker than Soy Milk because you don't have to boil it.

Soak 1 cup of almonds in 3 cups of water for 24-48 hours in a cool, dark place. If you're soaking for 48 hours, make sure to drain and refill the water halfway through.

Once they've soaked, they will be nice and plump. Drain and then rinse several times.

Add to a blender (VitaMix is awesome for this but any blender will do) along with 7 cups of water. Blend for a few minutes until smooth.

Look inside. You should notice lots of foam. That's normal. You will probably also notice lots of almond meal floating around. Also normal (we'll get rid of that in a minute).

Add any sweetener if you want - I add a tsp of vanilla and a tsp of agave nectar. Blend for another minute to mix in the sweetener.

Now, grab a bowl and a metal mesh strainer. Place the strainer over the bowl to drain into the bowl, and place the cheesecloth in the strainer to add extra fine strainingness. Now pour some of the almond milk into the cheesecloth/strainer. It should slowly drain into the bowl. If the foam isn't cooperating, just skim it off the top.
Go about your business for a few minutes and when you return, you should have some almond milk in the bowl and some almond slop in the cheesecloth. Use a spoon to scrape off the almond slop and throw it in a bowl to compost (or fine, throw it in the trash). You can dry it out and then use it as a baking additive, but google can tell ya all about that.

Repeat the process of pouring, draining, and removing almond meal until all of the almond milk has been poured out of the blender and is in the bowl. Now you can decant it into a bottle of some kind (I use a really big jar). Drink and enjoy.

If you want it thicker, use a little less water. Thinner, use more. If it's too grainy, then fold your cheesecloth over a few times before straining, or strain more than once.

Btw, care for your cheesecloth! It will stay in better shape if you rinse and scrub with warm water and then unfold and hang spread out to dry. It will still get old and hard and progressively more annoying to work with, but if you take care of it you can slow that process.

Whew! All this handmade stuff is making my hands tired :) Next i'll be trying to make my own vegan Irish Cream, a Rye Sourdough, frozen burritos (with handmade flour tortillas, natch), Soy Milk (in the vitamix!) and god knows what else.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Harvest Seitan

From Foodsies!

Although this weekend was warm enough to put me in the mood for summer, we had sleet and snow on Monday, and yesterday was chilly as well. This put me in mind of more autumnal and wintry eats, something warm and homey and richly spiced.

I decided to play with my seitan recipe a bit, and I think I have vastly improved it. This is the best seitan I have made yet, and probably some of the best i've ever had. It turned out juicy and tender, and had a rich meaty flavor reminiscent of steak.

To compliment the seitan, I was planning to make pears in a red wine sauce (I had been thinking along the lines of 'pork tenderloin' in pear sauce). Too bad we were out of pears. And didn't have an open bottle of wine.

So instead I used apples and sauteed them in dark rum, water, and mulling spices. I had this packet of mulling spices laying around waiting for me to make mulled cider, but since we didn't have any whole cinnamon sticks or other spices, I decided to try using them to flavor the apples (and later the seitan). It worked beautifully!


Kat's Harvest Seitan

Ingredients:

Seitan

3/4 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour*
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Sage
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Salt

3/4 Cup "Beef" Broth
1 TBSP Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
2 TBSP Tahini
1/4 tsp Liquid Smoke

Spiced Apples

2 Apples, sliced and/or diced***
1 TBSP Earth Balance
1 TBSP Fresh Ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 Cup Dark Rum
2 Cups Water
1 Package Mulling Spices (or make your own)**
Sugar to taste


* You can substitute Soy Flour, but I don't like the flavor of Soy Flour. Both add tenderness to the seitan, but I think the Quinoa doens't mess with the flavor as much.

** Take 3 sticks of Cinnamon, 1 whole small Nutmeg, 3 TBSP Whole Cloves, 3 TBSP Whole Allspice, and 1 TBSP of Orange Peel. Place the Cinnamon and Nutmeg in a plastic baggie and smash with a hammer or other heavy object (fun!) and then mix in the rest of the spices. Use a little, a lot, or all of it for this dish.

*** I sliced one and diced the other. The variation is prettier and more interesting.

Instructions

Seitan first.

Mix your dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix your wet ingredients together in a pyrex measuring cup. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Stop adding the wet mix when you have a slightly wet dough.

Knead for 5 minutes.

Leave the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth (or cover the dough with saran wrap). Set aside for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, get some water boiling in a pot for steaming (See Method 1).

After the seitan dough has rested for those 15 minutes, remove and manipulate into a tube shape. Using a sharp knife, slice rounds off from the tube, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and form each slice into a cutlet (pull and smoosh to desired shape).

Place these pieces on a plate that will fit into the steamer and then cover with another plate facing down (should look like a UFO or something) and place the whole thing in the steamer. Alternately, wrap/fold each piece tightly in foil and place them in the steamer.

Steam for 20-25 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 TBSP of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add your apple slices. Stir them around and saute them for a minute, then add the ginger, a pinch or two of sugar, 1/4 cup of the rum, and the mulling spices.

Saute until the rum is gone and then add some of the water until it's gone. Then add more rum. When it's gone, add more water. Back and forth, until the apples are soft. When they are done, remove the skillet from the heat and remove the apples, along with some of the spices (The apples will be prettier that way).

When your seitan is done, remove from the steamer. Add a spritz of olive oil to the skillet and add the seitan. Add a touch of rum and some more of the mulling spices (if needed) and saute until browned.

Serve along with the apples for a hearty, insides-warming meal. Combined with a good veggie side, this would make a great holiday type occasion sort of dish.


From Foodsies!


I had seitan left over, but no more of the cooked apples. The leftover seitan was great served with some pearl barley cooked in veggie broth for lunch.








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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Homemade Sourdough Bread

OMG I did it! I made my own sourdough!

From Foodsies!


Payton provided me with some of his sourdough starter (aka Barm aka Wild Poolish - what a great name) a week or so ago and yesterday I finally got around to baking my first loaf of Sourdough bread. Very exciting!

Actually, the work began on Sunday, because there is a lot of doing one step and then waiting several hours, then doing another step. I will outline what I did and what worked for me after the jump.

I can't wait to make my next batch!


Begin with wet starter (barm). To get barm.. well.. i'll have to expand on that some other time, since I got this barm from Payton. But I do want to try my own.

Note that the instructions below assume making two loaves. For one loaf, halve the recipe, obvs (including halving this firm starter).

Next make firm starter by stirring 2 cups of flour and 2 cups barm together in a mixing bowl. This should make a dough. If it is too stiff or dry, add a few drops of water (literally, only a few drops at a time until you get the proper consistency. You don't want it to be too wet and sticky either).

Knead the dough for several minutes until smooth.

Coat lightly with oil and return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap or damp towel.

Let it rise (at room temp) for a few hours until the dough is 1 and a half to double in size.

Refrigerate overnight.

Now remove the firm starter from the fridge and set aside.

Mix 6 cups of flour with 1 TBSP Salt and 1 1/4 tsp Sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Cut (do not tear) the firm starter into 5 or 6 pieces and mix it into the dough. Slowly add 2 cups of water and mix. Stop adding water when the dough is soft and before it gets too wet (if it gets too wet, add a touch more flour).

Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Coat the dough lightly with oil and return to the bowl and cover with a damp towel.

Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour.

Then shape the dough and/or place in loaf pan. OR, refrigerate overnight and then shape and/or place in loaf pan the next day.

Allow to rise a little bit more for another 1 - 4 hours.

Now it's ready to bake!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When it's at about 350, fill a cast iron skillet with about 2 cups of water and place at the bottom of the oven.

Using a sharp knife, slice a few slits in the bread loaves. This will allow the bread to rise and expand better as it cooks. The slices you see below were originally thin cuts made with a sharp knife in the uncooked dough, about half an inch deep. Now look at 'em! Pretty.


From Foodsies!


When the oven's preheated, put the bread in (leaving the skillet in also).

If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, just spritz the bread and the sides of the oven with water.

Watch out for hot steam.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the loaves. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. When done, place on a cooling rack until cooled. Then enjoy!


From Foodsies!


Hopefully you can slice bread better than I can. I can only bake it, it seems.


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Savory Summer Pie

From Foodsies!

This recipe was inspired by one found here for a savory tomato-pesto pie (with lots and lots of cheese). When I read it, I instantly thought of summer, of warm summer flavors and a carefree day with friends, of sharing light conversation and juicy tomatoes. And as we had weather in the 50's (practically summer for Boston!), I had a hankering to veganize this dish. So, with a Saturday free for experimentation, that's just what I did. And boy howdy did it turn out near perfect!

I think from now on, this is going to be one of my staple dishes to bring to a small potluck or dinner-at-a-friend's. It's easy and doesn't take much longer than most casseroles, but has a warm and cozy day-spent-cooking sort of look and feel to it. And everyone loves pies, amiright?



The primary hurdle was to think of how to replace the cheese while still maintaining the light and juicy essence of the pie (simply omitting the cheese would leave a pie consisting of nothing but tomato and pesto, which would be a bit... dull). I think in the original recipe, the cheese probably provides a mild flavor and a juicy chewiness (via the mozzerella), maybe a bit of tang as well (from the romano).

I decided to use summer squash and zucchini to provide the mild flavor (to contrast with the bright flavor of the tomato and the zip of the pesto) and creamy texture. Plus it sticks with the summer theme (like the tomato and basil). And as luck would have it, I had some squash and zucchini already in my fridge.

To provide a little additional creaminess and tang, I added some silken tofu, cashews, and a bit of nutritional yeast to my pesto recipe.

All combined, this turned out wonderfully. The squash filled its role perfectly, and the pesto turned out nicely both in the pie and eaten as a dip for chips.

Savory Summer Pie (Vegan)

Ingredients

Pesto*

2/3 Cup Pine Nuts or Raw Almonds (if you want to save some cash)
1/4 Cup Cashews (optional - you can replace with more pine nuts)
3 TBSP Olive Oil
4 Cups Fresh Basil
3 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Container Silken Tofu
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast (optional)
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tomatoes, diced


Filling

1 Summer Squash
1 Zucchini**
6 Plum Tomatoes***
Salt and Pepper to taste


Crust

3 Cups Flour****
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1 Cup Soymilk


* If you wish, you can sub in your favorite pesto recipe here. You can then add tofu or not, depending on how creamy you want it. It will work just fine with just regular pesto (no tofu).

** You could just use 2 Summer Squashes (or even 2 Zucchini) if you prefer.

*** Plum Tomatoes are meatier than regular tomatoes, so there's more tomato and less juice. I agree with the author of the original recipe - plum tomatoes probably work better than regular ones for this recipe (although use whatever you have, i'm sure it'll be tasty).

**** You can use half (or even all) Whole Wheat Flour or just use All Purpose Flour.


Instructions

First, make your Pesto. To do this, toss all of the pesto ingredients minus oil in your food processor and process until combined. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while processing, and pause to scrape down the sides when necessary. If you find that it isn't as smooth as you want it, you can remove at this point and blend it some in a blender.

If you have a sweet Cylon Blender like I do, then instead you need to start with just the nuts and olive oil and blend. Then add all of the other ingredients and blend til smooth and delicious.

Set aside.

Now you want to get the squash going. Get a large skillet going on Medium heat with a little bit of olive oil or spray. Slice your squash and/or zucchini into thin slices (about 1/4 inch) and toss into the skillet. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and saute until the squash is very tender and kinda see-through. It'll take several minutes at least. Be sure to give it a stir once in a while so it all cooks evenly.

While that's going, slice your tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices as well and set aside.

When your squash is done, remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Now to make your dough. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the Earth Balance in tiny pieces and then cut into the flour, and/or just use your hands to thoroughly mix in the Earth Balance. The flour should become coarser. Now add your other dry ingredients and mix.

Slowly add the milk (as you may not need all of it) and mix until you have a good dough that isn't too sticky but is wet enough to stay in a cohesive ball when you tell it to.

Split the dough into two pieces, one just a little bit smaller than the other (see below).


From Foodsies!

Cover the smaller ball with saran wrap and set aside.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the first ball into a circle about 12 inches in diameter (see picture). It is better to err on the side of larger than smaller. You want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick, maybe a little thinner. It depends on how thick or thin you like your crust, really (taking into account that it will thicken a smidge when cooking). I made mine very thin, and in the end I wished it had been a bit thicker.


From Foodsies!

Now lay the dough down in a 9" pie pan and cut any extreme excess dough from the edges. Keep in mind you want it to have a wee bit extra beyond the lip of the pan, but not much. In the picture below, you can see that I actually did a terrible job and had areas with too much edge and edges with not enough. In this case you can cut off the excess and use it to patch up the areas with not enough. Same thing if the dough tears - just stick it back together and patch with a little extra dough if you need to.

From Foodsies!

Now take your pesto and a spoon and spoon it onto the crust. Use the back of the spoon to spread it out. You don't need a really thick layer, but don't skimp either.

From Foodsies!

Next, lay down your squash slices on the pesto so that they cover the whole bottom.

From Foodsies!

Top with a layer of tomato. Then top that layer of tomato with more pesto (no skimping!) and then another layer of squash, another layer of tomato, and a final layer of pesto. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


From Foodsies!

Now the fun part! Set that aside and get out your other ball of dough. Roll it out on a floured surface until it is about 9" in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick, or a bit thinner.

Carefully lay it down over the top of the pie - it should ideally fit right inside and be the same diameter as the pie pan. If it's a little large, just snip it down a little.

Now take that little bit of dough from the bottom crust which extends just beyond the rim of the pan and fold it over towards the middle overtop of the edge of the top dough layer. Basically you want to seal the pie by connecting the bottom dough with the top dough.
If you want to be fancy (which I was not), you can crimp around the edges with your fingers. Actually I would have done this, but my bottom layer didn't extend high enough to fold back atop the upper crust very well, so I had to work pretty hard just to seal it, much less to make fancy crimps.

Using a knife to cut a few slits in the top of the dough so that steam can escape during baking. This is important.

If you want to be cute, you can use the knife to cut a quarter-size hole from the middle of the crust. Then cut out a similar size (but every so slightly bigger) slice of tomato and place it in the hole. Tuck it just under the dough.

As the pie bakes, the tomato slice will cook a bit and darken, and it will look really pretty. Most importantly, this will indicate that it is a savory pie, and not a fruit pie (lest someone be surprised and disappointed upon cutting into the pie).

Now you're all set to bake!

Throw the pie in the oven at 400. Bake for 30 minutes. Check the pie. If the crust is getting too dark, remove from the oven and cover the edge of the pie with a strip of aluminum foil. Replace and bake for another 10 minutes. Check the pie again. If the crust is nice and browned (or if you used whole wheat flour, you'll just have to guess a bit at this point) and firm and feels cooked through, remove from the oven. If it needs a few minutes, feel free to give it another 5-10 minutes and then remove.

You should have this:



From Foodsies!


Serve and enjoy! I bet it would be great with some sweet iced tea and the company of good friends.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

There is Peach Cobbler in Heaven

From Foodsies!


I believe I have a new favorite dessert. Vegan Peach Cobbler. Sounds so simple, no? Yes well, it is simple. But the peaches, slurping around in their own spiced sweet syrupy juices, taste like nectar (and like summer). And the biscuity crumbles are hearty and satisfying.
It's comfort food. Or comfort fruit, if you will.

I don't know what i'm doing making such things when i'm "dieting," but I did minimize the sugar and butter, used whole wheat flour and oats instead of regular flour. Next time I think I can cut the sugar down from 1/4 cup sugar to 1 TBSP of Agave Nectar. And I might throw in some soy flour or almond meal in place of some of the whole wheat flour, to make it lower carb. Still not diet food exactly, but better than some other desserts.

And it's a super easy to gobble up a serving or two of fruit.

Also, technically it's Peach Apple Cobbler, but only because I didn't have enough frozen peach. It's good with the apple, but I think it's probably better with just peach (or maybe i'm just appled out at the moment?).



Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Rolled Oats*
1 TBSP Earth Balance
3/4 Cup Soy Milk
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

4-6 Cups Sliced Peaches**
1/4 Cup Sugar***
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
1 TBSP Lemon Juice

* You don't have to use these. You can just use more flour (for a total of 1 cup) instead. You can also substitute graham cracker crumbles or anything else you want.

** This is about 6-8 peaches, or 2 small bags of frozen peaches (or about 20oz). Don't use canned peaches, cuz that's gross. Frozen is always better (less preservatives, less or no added sugar, etc). You can also use apples, cherries, blueberries, whatever. You might want to adjust the spices and sugar a little because tarter fruits need more sugar, sweet fruits less. If you're using a really juicy kind of fruit (particularly if it isn't frozen) then you may want to increase the cornstarch to 3 TBSP.

*** I think you can just use 1 TBSP of Agave instead if you are so inclined

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400.

Thaw your peaches in the microwave (if using frozen peaches, obvs) by nuking at 50% power for about 2 minutes, then stirring, then again for another 3 minutes.

Dump peaches in a saucepan that looks big enough to hold all of your peaches. Add the sugar/agave, brown sugar, cornstarch, spices, vanilla, and lemon juice.

Stir thoroughly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Let it boil for a minute, still stirring. The mix should be thick and syrupy around the peaches. Remove from heat and set aside. It should look sorta like this:


From Foodsies!


Dump the flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and the 2 tsp of sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix gently. Add the Earth Balance a little pinch at a time, and then cut it into the mix. Or you can do what I did, and just use one of your hands to grab and mush and mix it all together (you can also use two butter knives and slice them in opposite directions repeatedly). The main thing is that you want the Earth Balance to get broken up and mix with the flour to form something like small crumbs. If this doesn't make sense, then just mix everything up as best you can and say to hell with it. It doesn't make a big difference in the end, to be honest.

Now add the milk slowly (like 1/4 cup at a time) and stir. What you wind up with may resemble this:


From Foodsies!


Or it might not. Who cares? It will turn out great anyway, that's the beauty of this recipe.

Dump your peach mixture into a 2QT casserole dish, or any casserole dish that you think will hold it well. I recommend a round casserole dish because you will have more fruit than topping, so a deeper dish works better than a larger, shallow dish.

Now pinch off little globs of dough and drop them (or carefully place them, if you're anal) onto the peaches. I figure the globs should be about the size of a marble. It should wind up looking something like this:


From Foodsies!


Now bake in the oven (which is at 400) for 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool as long as you can stand, then devour.


From Foodsies!


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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kale-based Smoothies Don't Suck (I know, I was shocked too)

From Foodsies!


What?!

Kale in a smoothie? Bleeeech.

WRONG!

Smoothies are delish! And fruit > kale, so if you put some fruit in with the kale, you don't notice the evil kaleness.

No offense to kale, of course. I love me some greens and all. But it's really hard to eat kale every single day...

Unless it's in my daily breakfast smoothie!

Mmmm mmmmm.



The fun of smoothies is experimentation. Here are two of mine:

1 Solid Handful of Kale
1 Banana
1/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1/4 to 1/2 of an Apple
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Water

Remove the Kale leafiness from the stems and tear into smallish bits and dump into blender.
Slice the half apple and dump the slices in the blender.
Add the frozen blueberries.
Tear the banana into small chunks and add to blender.
Pour in OJ, followed by water.
BLEND!

1 Solid Handful of Kale
1 Banana
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 TBSP Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Soymilk
1 Cup Water

Remove the Kale leafiness from the stems and tear into smallish bits and dump into blender.
Add frozen blueberries
Tear the banana into small chunks and add to blender.
Pour in Soymilk, followed by water.
BLEND!

I make small modifications based on what fresh and frozen fruit we have on hand each morning. Sometimes I add in 1 TBSP of cocoa powder, or 1 TBSP of Blackstrap Molasses. Sometimes I use frozen banana or apple, sometimes fresh. Sometimes I use more Peanut Butter. A few times, I used Red Kale, and that was a little weird but still drinkable.

It's important to use at least a little frozen fruit, because that will make your smoothie nice and cold. You can use ice cubes instead if you have a stance against frozen fruit for some reason.

This works awesome in the Cylon Blender (aka, the VitaMix) but it doesn't require such a crazy blender. You might want to chop some pieces smaller, and check the instructions for the blender to make sure it's up to the task of ice cubes or whatever. The resulting smoothie might not be AS smooth as from the Cylon, but it'll still taste good.

And by "good" I mean "really, really great compared to just eating some raw kale."

PS. My smoothies are always reddish because I use frozen berries (yum!). One of these days i'll resist, and see if I can get a new color (i've seen lots of pictures of people with green radio-active looking smoothies and I want a radio-active looking smoothie too!

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