The Brellis House

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I get most excited for the first pumpkins to mark the fall harvest. I bought two sugar pumpkins last week and used it all up in a week. Since we did such a great job canning tomatoes, I was hoping to do a lot of pumpkin preserving for the winter. However, I was disappointed in finding out that you can’t safely can pumpkin puree, though you can do pumpkin chunks, which I plan on trying.

The Brellis House :: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I immediately pureed my pumpkin, I had to find ways to use it all up (which wasn’t so hard). I made double batches of our pumpkin granola, delicious pumpkin cake (recipe to come), pumpkin red lentil curry, and these tasty cookies.

The cookies are soft and chewy with a hint of pumpkin and spice, though they probably could have taken more of each. The brown butter idea is from some similar recipes I found that used it to add flavor. Since Earth Balance doesn’t have as much lactic sugar as dairy butter, I added some Amaretto to add some toffee notes.

Makes 24 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • 1/4 tsp Amaretto (optional)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Vegg powder + 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups AP white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Methods

  1. Brown the butter in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat and melt, stirring in the Amaretto. Let bubble for a few minutes (no more than 5) until a slight, but noticeable color change (light brown) and a nutty odor occurs.
  2. Add the now browned butter to a large bowl (or one of your stand mixer) and beat with the sugars. Add the Vegg powder and water and combine. Then add in the pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Sift in the flours, cornstarch and baking soda and fold with a rubber spatula, then fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoon sized balls on a baking sheet (parchment or silpat) and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are browning (the tops will still seem soft, but they’ll firm up out of the oven).

Vegg Review: Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

maple-syrup-lemon-poppy-seed-pancakes

It’s always such a task to be the first one out of bed on a weekend morning and make what everybody is craving- pancakes. So far, we have utilized two pancake recipes, one for fluffy hand-sized pancakes and another for thin, silver-dollar ones. The latter, by the way, is terrific since you make it in a blender.

lemon-poppyseed-pancakes-series

In our recent efforts to use Vegg in our cooking, especially from the Vegg Cookbook, we decided to try out the lemon poppy seed pancakes from the cookbook. This recipe, from Meggie Woodfield of The Vegan Adventures of Meggie and Ben, was one of the best pancake recipes we’re ever had! “I forgot what pancakes tasted like”, Susanna surprised me after eating them Saturday morning. But she was right, these were not just good pancakes, but delicious. They were light and very fluffy and the lemon poppy seed was icing on the pancake. And so of course, I had to do that cliche pancake photo shot: staked up high with maple syrup running down.

Notes.

I used 1.5 cups of white flour and 0.5 cups of whole wheat and stirred everything until just combined (with a few lumps), then fried them without letting the batter rest for 10 minutes as the recipe suggests.

Vegg Review: Tiramisu Cupcakes

One of the things I’m most excited about with using Vegg is with desserts. I bought a “Chocolate Bible” from a discount store a while ago and every cake recipe calls for 7-10 egg yolks. I tried one once, using a combination of flax meal and Ener-G Egg replacer… it was a thick, dense disaster. I’m optimistic that I can figure out how to veganize a sponge cake eventually, and maybe the Vegg is in that equation.

tiramisu cupcake

The best-sounding dessert in the Vegg cookbook, in our opinion, was the Tiramisu Cupcake recipe by Matthew Calverley of Vegan Heartland. We made it for a family dinner with my parents and siblings to see how they felt about a Vegg dessert.

tiramisu cupcake

Overall, approval was high. The cupcake, was much denser and chewier than cupcakes I’ve had before (vegan or not). The cream cheese frosting was very tasty, though a bit runny on a hot summer day.

NOTES.
The reason for the chewiness, I believe is over mixing. The recipe called for whipping the wet ingredients. Then, folding in the dry ingredients.  Then, stirring in additional milk and vanilla extract. I think this caused too much mixing and thus too much gluten development, thus a denser, chewier cupcake. I think the milk and vanilla extract should have been added to the wet ingredients to reduce the amount of mixing.

Also, the tiramisu flavorings came from cocoa powder in the frosting and a coffee glaze poured over top the cupcake. Unfortunately, I don’t think this provided enough flavor, especially since the coffee glaze didn’t really soak into the cake. Instead, next time I would add some coffee liquor/ground coffee powder and cocoa powder into the batter from the start.

I didn’t have enough cream cheese on hand for the frosting recipe, so I subbed in enough shortening to make it hold together. This worked pretty well and made a nice frosting which was easy to pipe onto the cake.

 

Overall, we were really pleased with how these cupcakes turned out, we can’t wait to experiment a little more with them.

Ginger Lime Cashew Seitan

Start off with the perfect vegetable combination of onions, carrots and celery: mirepoix.

mirepoix

Add chicken-style seitan and a sweet, tangy ginger lime sauce.

ginger-chili-sauce

Add in toasted cashews and reduce into a delicious glaze.

ginger-lime-cashew-seitan

Serve over cilantro rice.

ginger-lime-cashew-seitan-with-rice

This is a great recipe that came together super fast and has all the right tastes (sweet, salty, sour and spicy).

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 drop liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup water (experiment with orange or pineapple juice)
  • 12 oz package of chicken-style seitan strips, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • white rice for serving

Method

  1. Saute the mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) in about a tablespoon of olive oil with some salt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If the onions begin to brown, turn down the heat. Cook until the veggies sweat and are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining everything from the garlic down to the 1/4 cup of water in a jar and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Once the mirepoix is tender, turn up the heat to high and add the seitan, stirring often to brown the seitan.
  4. Coarsely chop the cashews (I like to leave a few whole) and toast them in a toaster oven (350°F ) or stove top until they just start to brown (cashews will turn from toasty to burnt in seconds. This takes about 10 minutes, but you should check every few minutes and stir occasionally.
  5. Once the seitan has browned, add the sauce to the pan, keeping the heat high, until it reduces and thickens a bit (add additional water if you’d like a more runny sauce). Turn the heat to low and reduce to your desired consistency.
  6. Serve on white rice with the cilantro.

Also, we grew a perfectly shaped carrot in our garden. I used it in this dish.

perfect-carrot

Vegg Review: Indian Quinoa, Pea & Potato Croquettes

The second recipe we made out of the Vegg Cookbook were these little bite-size Indian croquettes. Fried quinoa and potato patties, coated with bread crumbs from Nancy Montuari Stein of www.ordinaryvegan.net. We only had them fried, but she gives a baked option in the cookbook.

Indian Croquettes

NOTES.
In the cookbook, they’re suggested to be served with a spicy dipping sauce, which, disappointingly, is not in the cookbook, so we ate them with Trader Joe’s “Goddess” tahini dressing and peach, cherry chutney from last summer’s preserves, along with sauteed lemony kale and garlic from the garden.

Vegg Cookbook & Vegg Review: Broccoli Quiche

A few weeks ago, The Vegg, posted a call on facebook asking for vegan bloggers to review their new cookbook and product. We were quick to ‘offer’ our time to get a free cook book and chance to try out Vegg in a purposeful, systematic way. For those who aren’t familiar, Vegg is a ‘vegan egg yolk’ which can be used as a substitute for egg yolks in baking and cooking. It comes in a flaky, powder form and has gelling properties which can be used to spherify into a yolk or bind other ingredients.

vegg cookbook

We had used Vegg before, but without much thought, basically using it in lieu of the usual egg substitutes, Ener-G Egg Replacer, flax meal, etc. Now, though, with a whole cookbook of recipes, we were excited to try them out. The book has recipes divided, basically, into breakfast/brunch, entrées and desserts. The fun thing about the cookbook is that many of the recipes tackle the egg as a main ingredient. Things like egg noodles, omelets, egg salad, frittata, egg nog, and my first Vegg Cookbook dish, quiche.

broccoli quiche

I’ve never had quiche before, at least that I can remember, and never really had a strong urge to make it, especially eating vegan. There a re a few quiche recipes in the book. I made the Broccoli Quiche by Helen Rossiter of Vegetarian Recipe Club and Lots of Nice Things. I’ll tell you, I was very impressed by this recipe. In fact, I loved it. The recipe made one quiche in a 8″ pie plate and I ate half of it in one sitting.

The crust was very flaky, the consistency (primarily a silken tofu and vegg mixture) was rich and delicious and the broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes were a perfect filling.

NOTES.
For the pastry, I added the flour, salt and margarine in a food processor and pulsed a few times until a sandy consistency, then added just enough water to bring it together (less than a teaspoon). This made the dough difficult to roll and lay over the pie plate, so I did my best and pieced together most of it. I think this allowed for a more flaky pastry as adding 2-3 Tbs of water would have made it too tough and chewy.

Also, I mixed my broccoli, onion-garlic mixture and sun-dried tomatoes with the tofu-vegg mixture, then poured into the parbaked pastry crust. This ensured even distribution and prevented the veggies from burning by sitting on top.

Topped with a mixture of Diaya mozzarella and cheddar shreds.

broccoli quiche

After this first success, we are very excited to keep plugging away at the cookbook and trying our own recipes with The Vegg. Many of the recipes in the book were user submitted and credit the chef. This is another cool way to find new vegan recipe blogs to follow and share in the vegan community. However, a downside to this is that there isn’t much consistency as far as directions, serving sizes or methods. Some may be intimidated by this… or see it as a fun challenge!

Sugar Snap Pea Curry

It’s been a really good year for our garden this year. One of the consistently producing plants in our garden are sugar snap peas. We’ve got about 24 vines growing up some string and they put out like crazy.

sugar snap pea

I had little luck finding recipes with sugar snap peas in any of my books or online. The one that I did find in a book was from a vegetable cookbook, which stars veggies, but is far from vegetarian. The recipe was for a shrimp and mushroom curry… gross.

So, here’s a delicious curry that showcases my sugar snap peas and proves they can carry this thick, filling curry all by themselves!

sugar snap curry

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried whole red chilies
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp ginger root, minced
  • 200 g sugar snap peas, washed, tips and strings removed
  • 500 g small mix of red and gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and small diced
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup water (optionally, substitute 1/4 cup of the water for coconut milk)
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt

Method

  1. Heat oil (~2tsp) in wide cast iron skillet over low heat, and garlic and cook until slightly golden.
  2. Add the chilies, tumeric, ginger root, and cook for 30 seconds, then boost the heat to medium high and add in the sugar snap peas.
  3. Season with some salt and cook peas until golden brown (but don’t char them!), then drop the heat back to low.
  4. Using tongs, remove the pea pods and keep aside. Add in the gold/red potatoes to give them a head start, for about 10 minutes.
  5. Now, add in the sweet potato, tomato, lentils and water. Increase heat to high to bring the water to a boil, then drop it again to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered, scrapping the bottom occasionally to avoid burning and add more water if it becomes too dry.
  6. Uncover, and cook until the potatoes are soft and there is not runny water left.
  7. Kill the heat and stir in the oregano and the cooked peas. Serve with some chopped cilantro or extra crushed red peppers.

sugar snap curry

Converting A Chest Freezer

Susanna and I have been brewing for about a year now. We’ve been having a great time with it, and have made about 14 different batches. Some better than others, but so far, all drinkable (and some have been really good). A few months ago we got a chest freezer from Susanna’s parents’ neighbor. Originally we have wanted one to store summer’s harvest, which we still plan to do, but we realized we could use it as a temperature control for lagers over the summer.

The problem is a freezer’s max temperature is something like 20°F and we needed to keep it at around 40°F. You can buy temperature controls which cycle the power on and off to maintain a higher temperature, but we thought we could do it for free. One website showed us that there are two screws which control temperature, a coarse adjustment screw and a fine adjustment. The fine adjustment is the obvious one with numbers on it 1-10 for instance.

chest-freezer-temperature-control

Chest freezer temperature control.

But, if you take apart some of the housing, you can see a tiny coarse adjustment screw. Tightening the coarse adjustment screw will allow the freezer to get to a higher temperature. The physics are explained here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/guide-set-internal-chest-freezer-thermostat-32f-eliminate-external-control-249612/

chest-freezer-coarse-adjustment

Chest freezer coarse adjustment screw

With a good amount of trail and error, I’ve gotten the freezer at a consistent 39-42°F. This is perfect for lagers and, as it turns out a keg.

chest-freezer-keg-carboy

Yuca, The Unexpected Root

Yuca, cassava or manioc is one of those foods that when you check out at whole foods, the cashier is like, ‘what is that?’ Susanna and I first had yuca when we were studying abroad in Peru for a tropical ecology trip, and we haven’t looked back since. It’s sort of like a potato, in that it’s a startchy root, but the texture is more creamy and it has nutty, complex flavor.

yuca-root

My go-to yuca dish is simply wedges fried in some oil on a skillet and dipped in aioli sauce, but we’ve had them in curry, casserole and tacos. You can mash them or fry them, and use them in place of Russet potatoes in most potato applications and more. They prep differently than potatoes, but if you follow these directions you have nothing to be afraid of!

First, yuca seems intimidating because they are sold as 1.5′ long roots with a tough skin and a thick layer of wax. Whole Foods carries them regularly and some other grocery stores are doing so as well (I know the Safeway nearby carries them with their ethnic produce, along with dried chilies, star fruit, etc). Pick yuca that is firm and smooth all around (side roots and kinks make peeling a pain).

yuca-root-sections

Next, I chop it into roughly 5″ sections for easy handling. Stand each section upright and use a knife to slice off the waxy skin.

peeled-yuca-sections

Peeled chunks of yuca root.

Yuca root can’t be eaten raw. Primarily because it contains toxic levels of cyanide which must be boiled off, but also it’s like eating a raw potato (ew). To make the yuca safe to eat, boil the peeled sections in a large pot of water until easily pierced by a fork (about 30 minutes).

yuca-pieces

Sliced yuca wedges with the fibrous center removed.

Once cooked, drain and let them cool enough to handle. The second caveat to yuca is a tough, fibrous center. It’s easy to remove. Simply cut the section lengthwise and you will be able to pull it right out of the center.

fried-yuca

Yuca wedges fried in oil.

Congratulations, you have successfully prepped yuca. You can now mash it, fry it or do whatever else you’d like with it. Veganomicon has delicious Jamacian sweet potato casserole topped with mashed yuca (below), but I usually can’t help but deep fry it like thick potato wedge french fries with garlic-cilantro aioli.

jamaican-yuca

Jamacian sweet potato casserole with yuca and red beans from Veganomicon

 

Plum Crumble Pie (Gluten Free)

Now that summer is in full swing and farmers’ markets are starting to overflow, I need to finally use up all my preserved fruits and vegetables from last year. As of last week, my freezer contained two freezer bags of wineberries, one of black berries, three of strawberries and one of plums, all of which were harvested or bought from a local market. This isn’t even to mention the jars I have stacked in cabinets.

Gluten-free Plum Crumble Pie

Gluten-free Plum Crumble Pie

I know it defeats the purpose to use frozen fruit from last year, when in a few weeks I can have it fresh again- I need to get better about enjoying our hard preserving work, instead of harboring it. So, l am now down a bag of plums in the freezer and up two plum cobbler pies. Using guidelines from a recipe from the Kitchn: Summer Recipe: Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Pie, I used up all my plums and made two pies. To share with Susanna’s mom who is experiemnting with eating gluten-free, I made one of them gluten-free. The gf pie was actually a better product; the crust held together nicer and didn’t have any sort of grainy texture or taste. So I thought I’d share the gluten-free version of the recipe I made with some additional changes.

Gluten-free Plum Crumble PieThis is a great dessert for picnics or other outdoor summer meal. Depending on your plums, you might want to add or reduce the sugar. Peeling the plums isn’t necessary, since the skins practically dissolve while baking.

Ingredients (makes one pie)

Filling
1-1.25 lbs of plums, pitted and quartered or halved
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

Crumble
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
90 g vegan margarine, melted

Pie Crust
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp sugar
96 g vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1-2 Tbl cold water
Extra shortening for greasing the pie plate

Methods

Before anything, get the crust ingredients cold: weigh out the shortening and put in the freezer, flours in the fridge and put an ice cube in the water.

First, let’s prep the plums. After you quarter and pit the plums, mix them with the sugar and place in a colander over a bowl and place in the fridge for at least an hour or longer.

Meanwhile, make the pie crust. With your cold ingredients, put the flours, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Now put the cold shortening in the processor and pulse 6-8 times to make a sandy mixture. While pulsing, add a tsp of the water and pulse and additional 2-4 times. The dough should appear crumbly and barely hold together when pinched (see simplygluten-free.com for more tips on pie crusts, gf or wheat). Pour the crumbly dough into ziplock bag, compact into a disc, seal and put in the fridge to rest of an hour or up to 3 days.

After your dough rests, roll it out between two sheets of rice floured wax paper until it’s about 1/8-1/4″ thick. Grease a 9″ pie plate with shortening and carefully transfer the rolled out dough onto the dish. It will likely rip, but don’t worry, this buttery dough can easily be pieced back together. Now put the pie plate in the freezer for 45 minutes.

While the dough is in the freezer,preheat the oven to 300°F and make the crumble topping. Use a large bowl to combine the oats, flours, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the melted butter and form clumps, about 1″ big or smaller. The topping will barely form together and that’s okay.

Take the plums out of the fridge and take the juice that has strained out and mix with the cornstarch until it is complete dissolved. Bring the juice to a boil and then simmer for 2 minutes. Once cool, add the vanilla extract. Take the pie plate/dough out of the freezer, add the plums, pour the juice over it, sprinkle with extra sugar is desired, then cover with the crumble topping. Bake for 45 minutes at 300°F, then increase the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. It’s done when the crust has darkened and the plum juice is bubbling over. You might want to place a sheet pan under the pie plate to avoid and plum juice overflow.

Serve with vanilla ice cream!