The Brellis House

 

Snow Day and Berger Cookies

Posted on December 8th, 2013 by Susanna

snow fernssnow squirrel Cosmo through window.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.

vegan berger cookies

vegan berger cookies

 

 

 

Sugar Snap Pea Curry

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.

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

2

Vegan Strawberry Cannoli

Posted on July 15th, 2013 by Dan

What an adventure we’ve had with this one. I won’t lie, it’s a time intensive project, you need some patience and special equipment, but these vegan strawberry cannoli are delicious.

chocolate-dipped-cannoli-shells

strawberry-chocolate-cannoli

We got the shell molds from a local home and hardware store nearby, though you can buy them online at Bed, Beth & Beyond. We did a lot of research into making these, and have a result to prove it. In fact, we entered them into a dessert competition at a native berry festival and won the judges pick! This was exciting, especially since we were bitter last year after not winning with our blueberry doughnuts.

strawberry-cannoli

We had some problems with the shells at first, basically they expanded and puffed up in the oil, coming unraveled. However, after letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight and rolling out thinner, we didn’t have that problem again. Another thing that may help if you’re experiencing this problem is to dock (make holes in) the rounds before rolling them around the molds with a fork, like you would with a pie crust.

Ingredients

For the Shells:
7 oz all purpose flour
1 oz pastry flour
1 oz sugar
1 oz shortening
1 Tbl ground flax seed
2 Tbl water
1/4 tsp vegg powder (optional)
3.5 oz dry Marsala wine
pinch of salt
Neutral oil for frying                                                                                                                                                      

For the Ricotta:
8 oz well pressed extra firm tofu
3 Tbl canola oil
2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl suagr
1/4 tsp yellow barley miso paste

For the Filling:
3/4 cup strawberry puree
2 Tbl cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
16 chopped strawberries
9 oz Ricotta (from recipe below)
zest of 1 lemon
8 oz cream cheese

Methods (shells):

  1. Make the egg by whisking the flax meal, water and vegg powder together, let sit a few minutes, then whisk again until thick.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar and salt together. Cut in the shortening till the flour is a fine, sandy mixture. Add the egg mixture and wine. Stir, adding just enough wine until you have hydrated all the flour and the dough is slightly sticky.
  3. Shape into a disk and tightly wrap in plastic wrap for 3 hours, or overnight**.
  4. Divide the dough in half, then roll out on a floured surface until very thin, about 1/16″ (I rolled it out until it was transparent and I could see the counter underneath)**.
  5. Fill your dutch oven or deep fry pot with at least 2″ of oil and bring it to 360-375°F.
  6. Cut with appropriate circles for your cannoli molds (we used 3″ diameter narrow mouth mason jar lids for our 5/8″ molds). Wrap around the molds and use some water to seal the edges**.
  7. Drop the cannoli into the oil and fry until it is golden brown, just about 1 minute. I used tongs to scootch them around so the cannoli wouldn’t burn on the bottom, or you could use a basket so they don’t sit on the bottom.
  8. Let cool on a drying rack and remove your molds. You can apparently store the shells in an air tight container for a month or two after they cool.

cannoli-shells

Methods (filling and assembly):

  1. Make the ricotta by combining all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth (it won’t be super smooth, but there shouldn’t be any big chunks of tofu).

    Tofu Ricotta

    Tofu Ricotta

  2. Now, take the strawberry puree and combine it with the cornstarch, cup of sugar and lemon juice and place in a saucepan. Whisk until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved, then heat, whisking constantly. First it will foam and bubble, then start to thicken. The idea is to simmer it down until it’s almost the consistency of jelly (not runny). If this is runny, your filling will be runny.
    strawberry-jelly
  3. Once the strawberry is thick and not runny, add in the chopped strawberries and let cool to room temperature.
    strawberry-tofu-ricotta
  4. Whisk the ricotta, lemon zest and cream cheese in a stand mixer or with electric beaters until combined and then fold in the strawberry mixture (if the strawberries got too thick to fold in, simply heat it up for a bit until it’s workable). You can decide how much you want to mix these together, but I like a mostly white filling with streaks of red (see photo).
  5. Use a pipping bag to fill both sides of a cannoli, then top with chocolate or powdered sugar. You can dip the cannoli shells in melted chocolate before filling as well.
29

French Macarons (Part II)

Posted on July 4th, 2013 by Dan

French macarons are the holy grail of vegan dessert in my opinion. Following a combination of Hannah Kaminsky’s mint macaron recipe in Vegan Desserts and research into foams and non vegan macarons, I’ve got a macaron now that is fairly reliable, though not close to perfect.

lemon-macarons

My problem, still, is hollow centers. I have theories, but I don’t get around to making macarons everyday to experiment. I think my biggest problem is that the batter is too thick (too much almond meal slash powdered sugar), so the shells get too big and puffy. Playing around with temperature and the egg whites might also help.

A macaron after a bite. It's crushed because of the hollow center of the shells.

A macaron after a bite. It’s crushed because of the hollow center of the shells.

Regardless, I’ll share with you my macaron recipe as I work on it now. I hope this can be useful for many people as a jumping off point and I really hope we can collaborate to improve the recipe. As before, my recipe relies on Versawhip as the main foaming agent. Also, I’ve since gotten a stand mixer, and I love it. The whisk attachment is good for making the foam.

Vegan egg whites with my Artisan stand mixer.

Vegan egg whites with stiff peaks using my Artisan stand mixer.

This recipe is a lemon variation, which is all too appropriate for summer.

Ingredients

  • 15 g cane sugar
  • 57 g almond meal
  • 115 g powdered sugar
  • 57g water
  • 1/2 tsp Versawhip
  • 15 g Ener-G Egg Replacer powder (~2Tbl)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine lemon zest
  • 2 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)

Methods

  1. Put the 15 g cane sugar in a food processor and pulse to create superfine sugar, set aside.
  2. Whisk the water and egg replacer until foamy, let stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Put the almond meal and powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse to combine and destroy any clumps. Don’t over mix or over heat the mixture (we don’t want almond butter).
  4. Place the egg replacer/water foamy mixture in the bowl of your stand mixture along with the Versawhip and xanthan gum. With the whisk attachment on low, slowly add the superfine sugar. Increase the speed to medium, add the lemon zest and food coloring, and then increase to high until you get stiff peaks (the volume wasn’t enough to get my whisk attachment into, so I had to lift the bowl up a bit).
  5. Once you have stiff peaks, turn off the machine and fold in your almond mixture, carefully. Many macaron recipes say that the batter should flow in ribbons like hot lava (whatever that means).
  6. With a piping bag or zip lock bag with the corner cut, pipe 1.5″ circles of batter onto a silpat or parchment paper which is on a baking sheet. Smooth out any bumps and tap the sheet pan to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Now, importantly, let the batter sit, at room temperature, in a well ventilated room for 1-3 hours. This is essential in keeping the shape and making feet. You want the shells to be dry to the touch.
  8. Bake the shells at 300°F for 10-14 minutes. You can double stack your sheet pans to help with insulation so the bottoms don’t burn.
  9. For these lemon macarons, I sandwiched them with left over lemon icing for cupcakes from my sister.

Additional shots of my stand mixer. I love that it’s red. We actually got it for about half off at TJ Max.

kitchen-aid-stand-mixer

artisan-kitchen-aid-stand-mixer

Homemade Mozzerella!

Posted on March 6th, 2013 by Susanna

While we’re not the type of vegans that really “miss” cheese- when I saw this recipe I was interested and thought I’d give it a try. It’s really easy and turned out really good- although neither of us can really say how “real” it is- but fortunately neither of us care. I hope to make more of her cheeses.  This picture is from after the cheese sat in water for 2 weeks (we tried brine at first but it made the cheese inediblely salty). It started to fall apart a little and the texture is different- but its still delicious.

vegan mozzerella

We also made pizza with it- it melted pretty nicely.

mozzerella pizzamozzerella pizza

 

I’ve also just been putting it on turkey sandwiches or just on bread and toasting.  Yum!

Ithaca Trip

Posted on December 16th, 2012 by Susanna

I’ve been meaning to share photos from our trip to Ithaca and the Finger Lakes area. We had such a fantastic time- the leaves were gorgeous! We had fantastic weather, we stayed busy with hikes, eating delicious food, tasting some great wines, and biking around town and the lakes.SusannaSeneca LakeDangrapesred newtFinger Lakes National Forestcabincabin window boxescabin saunacabin doorfiregorgesgorgeswaterfallburning bush and danwild grapesSeneca Lakecabinouthousecabincabin insidecabin kitchencabin porchSeneca winesFarm SanctuaryFarm SanctuaryFarm SanctuaryIthaca Fallscamping in rainTaughannock FallsTaughannock FallsIthaca Farmers Market.

11

French Macarons

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Dan

UPDATE: View my working recipe at French Macarons (Part II).

vegan French macron

Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.

I had a proud day last week. I finally achieved a vegan macaron. It wasn’t perfect, but to me, getting this to work was 90% looking the part, which I am pretty happy about.

This was the first of multiple attempts to make macarons. Previous experiments left me with a sticky, gooey mess all over the pan as the cookies melted out in the oven. This time, though, I gave them a good rest to form a ‘skin’, and to my excitement and shock, my little cookies stayed firm and grew little feet.

vegan French macron

My recipe was an alteration from Bittersweet’s ‘Vegan Desserts‘. Her method for the egg white wasn’t working for me, so I used another egg white substitution, Willpowder’s VersaWhip. And somehow, it all worked out.

I made a chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter. I obviously didn’t take as much care with the frosting application- they’re a little sloppy. I need to practice piping the cookie batter onto the sheet pans and applying the frosting, but the hard shell and feet are a big enough accomplishment for one week.

I promise I’ll post tips once I get a truly successful batch. I can not wait to give them another try and perfect my VEGAN FRENCH MACARONS.

 

vegan French macron

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake (Gluten-Free)

Posted on March 18th, 2012 by Dan

I made these gluten-free chocolate shortcakes for my niece’s birthday. This was my first successful gluten-free baking experiment and tasted great topped with soy whipped cream and sliced strawberries. They’re more like biscuits in both recipe and method.

I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour Mix. It worked well, the cakes stayed together and were soft and chewy.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Makes about 15-20 shortcakes:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (omit if using non-alkalized cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Method

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, use a food processor or sift to ensure there are no clumps.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the oil and milk.
  3. Fold together until thoroughly combined.
  4. Scoop batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make scoops a bit larger than the size of a gold ball and flatten in a patty-like shape. Space about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 7 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for an addition 7-10 minutes or until cookies are firm (but not hard) and not burnt.

Lemon Coconut Blueberry Bundt Cake

Posted on February 12th, 2012 by Dan

Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake

This cake just came out of the oven as my breakfast, about 2pm. Worth the wait though. Served warm with soy vanilla ice cream, it was fantastic.

Blueberry Lemon Coconut Bundt Cake

This bundt cake is from Veganomicon. I substituted a half cup of spelt flour in with the all purpose flour, cut the sugar down to 1 cup and added about a 1 – 1.5 cups of fresh blueberries.

2

Garlic Lemon Caper Cannellini Bean Pasta

Posted on January 27th, 2012 by Dan

Sometimes I forget what I have at home and what I need to get when I’m at the grocery store. I’ve been trying to be more rigorous in making a list, but it’s not always possible on some of my impromptu shopping trips.

Italian White Bean Garlic Pasta

Tonight’s meal was inspiring by having way too many cans of cannellini beans. These sweet beans have roots in Italian cuisine and do really well in light, lemony pasta dishes. I really like the flavor of this bowl. The garlic and capers smelt so sweet and wonderful while cooking and the lemon vinaigrette adds a creamy, tangy flavor to the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 4 Tbsp of olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained and crushed
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
  •  1/4 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste

Method

  1. Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta per package directions. Cook until al dente, strain, cover and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucier. Once hot add the garlic and capers and cook on low heat until fragrant and garlic just begins to brown (but not burn).
  3. In a small bowl, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, zest, mustard and 1 tsp olive oil.
  4. When the garlic and capers are fragrant, turn the heat up to medium, add the beans and the vinaigrette and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Deglaze with the wine, add the pasta, herbs and salt and pepper. Turn to coat the pasta and cook until the wine is reduced. Remove from heat and serve, garnished with additional herbs and crushed red pepper.