Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Morning! Muffins

The whole point of these muffins is to get away from commercial breakfast bars, huge sugary store-bought muffins and all that processed crap. I've been working on Karen's 8-Grain Cranberry Muffins, refining, adding this and that. This muffin is less crumbly and has more whole grain goodness - I've made changes to flours, sugar, and oil. I do like this version - a lot!

2 TB ground flax seed mixed with 3 TB water, mix & let sit
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Cereal
1-1/4 cup soy milk
2 tsp of vinegar
1/3 cup dried Craisins, chopped

Add vinegar to milk and let sit a bit and then add cereal to milk mixture. Let sit for 30-45 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl, mix and set aside.

Add, oil, vanilla, and sugar to milk mixture. Add flax seed mixture. Mix. Add the dry ingredients till just blended and add cranberries.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-25 until lightly browned. Keep an eye on the muffins; they seem to brown more with the agave syrup.

Potato Kale Patties

This goes nicely with the Carrot Tahini Soup. With its green hue, I think kids would like it or it would just be fun for St. Pattie's Day.

1-1/2 pounds potatoes
6 ounces kale (organic is best*)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 scallions, chopped (optional)
1 serrano chili, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons potato starch or corn starch
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut the potatoes into small cubes (about 1/2-inch), put them in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, remove the center stalk from the kale and slice the leaves into strips. When the potatoes are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon and place in a large mixing bowl. Put the kale into the potato water and cook for 6 minutes or until kale is tender. Remove kale with a slotted spoon to a food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid and pulse to chop fine.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Mash the potatoes and add the kale and all remaining ingredients. Stir well. Using a well-rounded tablespoon, form into balls, a flatten into patties. Place them on an oiled baking sheet or, preferably, a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully turn over and bake for 20 minutes more, until lightly browned.

*There are 12 fruits and vegetables that are considered to be "the dirty dozen" in terms of pesticide load. Kale is one of them. I live in Alaska and organic kale is easy to find. "They say" that if you feel you cannot afford to buy organic, at least buy organic for the "dirty dozen." For more information

Quinoa in the Garden

This is a very refreshing grain salad. I like to cook the quinoa ahead of time so it is cooled before assembling the recipe. It stays "fluffier" that way. I also use my rice cooker to cook the quinoa, 2 parts liquid, 1 part quinoa. Easy! Feel free to adjust the mint and parsley to taste.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed, cooked and cooled
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 tomatoes -- seeded & finely chopped
1 serrano pepper, diced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup flat parsley, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons (or more) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
alfalfa sprouts for garnish, optional

In large bowl combine the first six ingredients. Mix the oil, lime, salt and pepper in another container. Mix well and add to quinoa mixture. Taste and adjust lime if necessary. Garnish with avocado and sprouts.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Carrot and Tahini Soup with Pita Crisps

This soup originated from a recipe at an online newspaper - I don't remember, New York Times or something. I did make a few adjustments - can't help myself - and this is oh, so good! Be sure to use all the garnishes, it really makes the dish sparkle. The pita crisps I made from some frozen 8-grain pita bread that I had in the freezer that was made from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fat leek (or 2 small), white part only, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced (Yes 6!, use them all, it's okay.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 heaping teaspoons Vogue Low Sodium Instant Vegebase
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2 pita breads, each cut into wedges
1/3 cup tahini
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Grated lemon zest, for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. In a soup pot over medium heat, pour in oil, then add leek and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until garlic is just starting to brown. Add salt, pepper, coriander, turmeric and cayenne a saute for another minute or so.

2. Add carrots and stir to coat them with leek mixture. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add broth, thyme, 2 cups water, and Vogue vegebase. Bring to a simmer, partly cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush pita wedges with a little olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake until brown and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

4. When carrots are tender, turn off heat and let soup cool for 10 minutes. Remove thyme branches and stir in tahini. Using either an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor, purée soup until smooth. Return to pot and reheat if necessary. Taste and add lemon juice and more salt if desired.

5. Serve soup garnished with the lemon zest, cilantro and pita wedges.

One final point, if you don't have a microplaner, get one. It makes zesting lemons and limes effortless. I really love mine.

Aloo Paratha (Potato and Pea-Stuffed Flatbread)

This is another recipe from "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day." I made the Aloo Paratha with the cracked wheat bread recipe. These bread recipes are the ones where you make a large batch of dough (NO KNEADING REQUIRED) and you can leave it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It's ready when YOU are. This particular batch of dough was rather "wet" compared to the others I've made; I figured maybe because of the cracked wheat? Anyway, when I rolled the dough out I had to add quite a bit of extra flour to manipulate it into a workable round. I added the potato pea fillling and here it is before baking.
The filling was super simple: 1-1/2 pounds cooked, mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup frozen peas and a teaspoon of your favorite curry. I used a teaspoon of gram masala. Fold it over, brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with some more curry, coarse grain sea salt, slash a few slits in the top and bake in a 450 degree oven on a preheated baking stone for 25 minutes or until golden brown. This recipe also used one of the author's "fancy" techniques of adding 1 cup of hot water to another pan in the oven. This creates a steam that makes for a DELICIOUS crust. Check it out:
I am so impressed with this book; it has done so much for my overall baking success. Today I'm going to finish off the rest of the dough and make some pita bread and perhaps a pizza for dinner. Mangia!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Everyday Hummus

Hummus in a home-made pita with home-grown sprouts and grilled asparagus is a favorite lunch of mine. I make this lower fat hummus every week.

2/3 cup dried garbanzo beans
1 TB olive oil
1 TB sesame tahini
1/2 tsp or more dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried basil OR a good handful of fresh basil leaves
4-5 tsp lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 tsp sea salt

Soak beans overnight or about 8 hours. Change water and cook until very tender. I like to put in my crockpot and cook overnight.

Drain garbanzos and put in food processor with rest of ingredients, adding extra lemon juice if needed, until it's the consistency you like. If you don't like it too lemony, you can save cook water and add some of that to thin it out.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The 30 Minute Vegan

This cookbook by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray was getting my attention this past weekend. I made a whole meal: Stellar Stuffed Mushrooms, Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu and Southwestern Roasted Asparagus and Corn.

I have to admit it took longer than 30 minutes but it was worth it. I see no point in making a recipe if it's quick but not flavorful. All of the above were wonderful. I am not a "tofu hound" but the crusted tofu was delicious with a great texture.

I am rather pleased with this book and am eye-balling some of the other recipes. Remarkably they even have a recipe for Mochi Pizzettas! (See previous post for Mysterious Mochi.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Perfect Pizza & Pitas

I've spent my whole adult life trying to make really good pizza crust. Finally, I've cracked the code and I can thank the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg and Francois. They are not lying when they say 5 minutes a day either. This bread dough is so easy, so fast, and so versatile it has changed my life. The plan: you mix the dough (NO KNEADING!), let it rise for a couple of hours and then it goes into its home in the refrigerator for when YOU are ready to bake. The only time you have to wait is if you want to make a loaf of bread or something like that. Then you need to shape and let rise for a couple of hours. For pizza and pita bread you heat up the oven, roll out your dough and bake it on a pizza tile. That's it. The beauty is you can leave the dough in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks, using up bits and pieces as you go. And the pizza and pitas I have been baking have been wonderful.

Here's a batch of pitas I made today. It's the 10-grain bread recipe that I modified to 8-grain. Incidentally, it made an awesome pizza crust!

These good folks have a website if you are interested in learning more. Personally, I think it's worth the money to buy the book – I'm that impressed.

Happy Birthday to Me!

I never pass up an opportunity to make a chocolate cake and I figure my birthday is a damn good reason! This cake is from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I don't have this book listed as a favorite (yet) because I haven't made any recipes from it until today. I've been such a cookbook slut and this is just one of many books I'm cooking from.

This cake turned out very tasty especially with the deviations from the recipe. I cut the sugar by a third and added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.

The frosting is the "Rich Chocolate Ganache Topping" from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. A perfect match. Mmmmm mmmm!

Later I remembered that I had a Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe that had been handed around at work. I looked it up and was surprised to see that it was already vegan. I've made this particular cake several times and loved it. I actually think it's a bit better than the chocolate cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking. Here's the recipe for the one that's been floating around:

Mexican Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

chocolate glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil 8-inch spring form pan. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add liquid ingredients and stir until smooth. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. When the cake has cooled whisk together the glaze ingredients and glaze cake.

Both icings are good; it's just a matter of preference.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Karen's 8 Grain Cranberry Muffins

This recipe originated from a recipe on the back of Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal. It had eggs, milk and margarine so I veganized it. The result is a tender, slightly crumbly muffin that is oh, so good.

2 TB ground flax seed mixed with 3 TB water, mix & let sit
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Cereal
1-1/4 cup soy milk
2 tsp of vinegar
1/3 cup dried Craisins, chopped

Add vinegar to milk and let sit a bit and then add cereal to milk mixture. Let sit for 30-45 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl, mix and set aside.

Add, oil, vanilla, and sugar to milk mixture. Add flax seed mixture. Mix. Add the dry ingredients till just blended and add cranberries.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 or until lightly browned.