Category Archives: CookingPosted on December 8th, 2013 by Susanna
We unexpectedly got about four inches of snow today, which didn’t really change our plans for the day (crunch time with schoolwork), but made the day cozy and put us in the mood for baking. With all the recent talk of the potential shutting down of Baltimore’s Berger cookie bakery because of the ban on trans fats, we decided we’d give making them a try. We used King Authur’s recipe and veganized it with the obvious substitutions of butter, milk, cream, and egg (vegg), and we also used agave syrup in place of corn syrup. They turned out delicious and the icing is pretty close to how I remember the original Berger cookie icing, but the cookie isn’t much like the original. But at least they are trans fat free!
Other notes on the recipe in case your going to try it: we cut the recipe in half and it made 9 Berger-sized cookies, but they didn’t need 10 minutes in the oven, they started to burn a little- so keep an eye on them.
Posted on November 13th, 2013 by Dan
Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin. Yes, we know.
Summer is over and it’s time to take advantage of local pumpkins in Maryland. I’ve made a few yummy pumpkin desserts and soups and such, but haven’t added it to bread… yet. Well, now I have. But first, let me suggest to you, freezing pumpkin, in an ice cube tray. Throw two tablespoons of puree into each ice mold, freeze, then pop them into a freezer bag. The result: 12 cubes of 1 ounce pumpkin which you can use on a moments notice to add in bread, pancakes, milkshakes… the list goes on.
Pumpkin is a bread bakers friend. It can be substituted cup for cup for water and can also be used to enrich dough, in lieu of egg. Ever since I made myself a sourdough starter I have wanted to make sourdough bagels. Originally, I thought my first ones would be sourdough blueberry bagels, but the extra moisture in the blueberries scared me, so those will have to wait until the spring.
These bagels are great. They are rich, slightly sweet from the cranberry, chewy and take really really well to pumpkin spice cream cheese. For the cream cheese, mix about 2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and allspice each into an 8 oz tube of your favorite vegan cream cheese and blend.
I hope you make these and enjoy them. They take two days with the sourdough, but worth the time, for sure. Let me know what you think and what else you like to do with pumpkin.
- 5 oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 11 oz bread flour
- 3 oz whole wheat flour
- 7 oz warm water
- 8 oz pumpkin puree
- 0.5 – 1 oz water (optional)
- 18 oz bread flour
- 0.5 oz barley malt syrup
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 0.7 oz salt
- 4.5 oz dried cranberry
- The day before you plan to make the bagels, make the firm sourdough starter by mixing the 5 oz of 100% hydration sourdough with 11 oz bread flour, 3 oz whole wheat flour and 7 oz of water. Mix until it forms a ball, knead briefly, then coat the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rest for 4 hours. Then lightly degas, reform into a ball. Place this ball back into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate over night.
- The next day, an hour before making the dough, remove the starter from the fridge, cut into small pieces, place on a silpat and cover with plastic to allow to warm up a bit.
- Mix the rest of the bread flour (18 oz) with the salt and yeast. Add the pumpkin puree and malt syrup and mix until a ball forms. Add in the cranberries and switch to hand kneading (or use the hook attachment of your stand mixer) and knead until everything is incorporated, all the flour is hydrated and it feels pliable, but not tacky. Add more water if you need to allow everything to mix together, but a firm dough will yield a chewier, more shapely bagel. It is often easier to let the dough rest a few minutes and knead again a few times to ensure everything is mixed and the gluten is developed.
- Immediately divide the dough into 4.5 – 5 oz balls (mine were 4.8 oz) for 12 bagels. Let these balls rest a few minutes, then shape into bagels with whichever method you prefer. For shaping, I like to take the ball of dough and force my finger through the center, stretching it out, remembering the dough with expand and shrink the hole some when it is boiled.
- From here, I brushed the bagels with oil, covered with plastic and let rest in a cool part of the house for 2 hours to bake that day. Alternatively, in theory, you should be able to brush with oil, cover and retard in the fridge overnight. The goal is to not allow them to rise so that they get puffy, otherwise you end up with wrinkly, malformed bagels.
- When ready to bake, bring a large pot of water to boil, dissolve a 1-2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of sugar in the water. Have the oven at 500°F with a steam tray in place. With my 12 bagels, I decided to bake in two batches, so I boiled my first 6 (two at a time), for 2 minutes (one minute per side). Then I placed these 6 on a baking sheet lined with my silpat and placed in the oven. I immediately threw about a cup of water on the steam tray and closed the door. After 30 seconds, I spray the bagels with a spray bottle of water and closed the door, repeating this 2 more times. After the last time I set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I rotated the baking sheet, reduced the heat to 450°F and baked for an additional 4-6 minutes, until they were golden.
- After the bagels were finished, I removed them to a cooling rack, brushed lightly with melted butter and repeated the process with the remaining 6.
- Let cool and then serve with pumpkin spice cream cheese- vegan, of course.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Sift in the flours, cornstarch and baking soda and fold with a rubber spatula, then fold in the chocolate chips.
- 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).
It’s been a good year for tomatoes in our garden. We started this summer with a goal to can as many tomatoes as we could, and we’ve done pretty well. We’ve picked a dozen or so large tomatoes per week and made a few cans of salsa and sauce. We found this great asparagus pot at goodwill- and it works PERFECTLY for canning a single jar without wasting a ton of water to fill a large pot.
Since canning a few here and there from our garden just doesn’t add up we decided to find some to buy at a good price. Dan found a great deal at a local farmer’s market and we bought 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes and canned them whole. It took a while but we ended up with 12 jars of whole tomatoes. I think with a few more from our garden and my mom’s garden we might just last the winter without having to buy tomatoes! Much better than our canning efforts in 2011.Posted on September 8th, 2013 by Dan
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.
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.
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.Posted on September 3rd, 2013 by Dan
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.
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.
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.
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.Posted on September 1st, 2013 by Dan
Start off with the perfect vegetable combination of onions, carrots and celery: mirepoix.
Add chicken-style seitan and a sweet, tangy ginger lime sauce.
Add in toasted cashews and reduce into a delicious glaze.
Serve over cilantro rice.
This is a great recipe that came together super fast and has all the right tastes (sweet, salty, sour and spicy).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Once the mirepoix is tender, turn up the heat to high and add the seitan, stirring often to brown the seitan.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve on white rice with the cilantro.
Also, we grew a perfectly shaped carrot in our garden. I used it in this dish.Posted on August 29th, 2013 by Dan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Posted on August 9th, 2013 by Dan
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.
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!
- 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
- Heat oil (~2tsp) in wide cast iron skillet over low heat, and garlic and cook until slightly golden.
- 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.
- Season with some salt and cook peas until golden brown (but don’t char them!), then drop the heat back to low.
- 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.
- 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.
- Uncover, and cook until the potatoes are soft and there is not runny water left.
- Kill the heat and stir in the oregano and the cooked peas. Serve with some chopped cilantro or extra crushed red peppers.