Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Nectarine Muffins with Streusel Topping

Whole wheat nectarine muffins topped with streusel.

This is a nice muffin to make when nectarines are in season. The muffin itself is not very sweet so the streusel adds a nice touch of sweet crunch. You may notice I haven't used a whole lot of streusel; a small amount is perfectly fine. The recipe makes about 9 to 12 muffins depending on how much batter you use for each muffin. When I'm in the mood for oversized muffins that spill over the top of the pan, it makes about 9.

Clabbered Soymilk
Mix together and set aside while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
1 cup soymilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Dry Ingredients
Sift into large bowl
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 TB blonde coconut sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

Wet Ingredients
Mix together in small bowl
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh Fruit
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh ripe nectarine, chopped into small pieces

Mix with fork in small bowl until crumbly.
2 TB light brown sugar
1 TB whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 TB Earth Balance stick margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin pan (line or oil). Add clabbered milk into wet ingredients and combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in fresh fruit.

Scoop into muffin tin with ice cream scooper. Sprinkle a bit of streusel on tops of each muffin. Bake for 15 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Lightly studded with succulent nectarines.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Merry’s Miracle Tart

Chocolate Tart

I do love sweet treats. Normally I make my own desserts. I figure I’ll eat less sweets if I limit myself to homemade desserts. However, I strongly believe in supporting vegan enterprises especially when the ingredient list is short and pronounceable. I was at the Natural Pantry the other day looking at tofu in the refrigerator case and I happened upon Hail Merry’s Miracle Tarts. There were four flavors available (Merry actually makes 6 different flavors) and I chose the chocolate tart. Here is the ingredient list: organic maple syrup, dark cocoa, raw almond flour, organic virgin coconut oil, sea salt. That’s it! Amazingly, there is 4 grams of fiber in each serving. It was a small tart, 3 ounces and cost $5.19 (Alaska prices!). Three servings per tart. And really, a quarter of a tart would be a perfect ending to a meal. It was rich, intensely chocolate, and imparted a very mild coconut taste. It was really quite impressive how tasty it was considering how few ingredients there were. I’m looking forward to trying out the Persian Lime and the Lemon Meyer Tart.

For an extra special treat, considering pairing the tart with some dark beer. I chose Ommegang Abbey Ale which is now available in 4 packs. This is a Belgian-style Abbey Dubbel Ale that is rich, fruity and quite delicious with the chocolate tart.

Almost all gone... how sweet it was!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Very Veggie Pizza with Sourdough Crust

Re-heated Very Veggie Pizza with Marinara Sauce and Sourdough Crust

Did I mention that I eat a lot of pizza? Many variations of the same theme. In an effort to get out of my “pizza rut” I decided to make a different sauce and crust. I have a sourdough starter living in my refrigerator and it works best when used and replenished often. I try to feed it 2-3 times a week – that way it is active and bubbly. I modified the sourdough pizza dough recipe from Breadtopia.com. If you want to learn how to make bread this is an excellent site. Eric has great videos on bread and pizza making. If you follow his advice you’re going to get some tasty bread.

The sauce is called “Best Marinara Sauce Yet” from allrecipes.com. I do not care to buy bottled pizza sauces primarily for two reasons: 1) They’re really not all that great and 2) It’s so simple to make at home. I made half a recipe of the marinara sauce and split it up for some spaghetti and the rest went on my pizza. You could make the full recipe and freeze it to keep on hand. I will definitely be making this sauce again.

The topping is my usual mélange of garlic, spices, wine, mushrooms, finely chopped broccoli, a bit of fresh spinach and half a zucchini.

I cannot begin to tell you how satisfying it is to make pizza from scratch. There is no comparison of home made pizza to take out or even pizza from the latest and greatest pizza joint in your neighborhood.

Active sourdough starter ready to work!
Pizza Dough
Makes 1 pizza
3/4 cup active starter
1-1/2 TB water
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unbleached, unbromated all purpose flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

Add ingredients to small bowl. Mix and let rest for about 15 minutes. Knead dough until it’s smooth and elastic. (I use Eric’s method of hand kneading in the bowl. The dough may be a bit sticky but just work with it. I’m always disappointed when I add too much flour. Less is better.) Place dough in oiled, covered bowl and let rise until double for about 3-6 hours. This helps to develop the flavor of the crust. Your little starter friends are doing all the work and it takes time.

About an hour before baking the pizza, preheat pizza stone in oven set to 500 degrees.

After dough has risen, knead for several turns on lightly floured surface and let rest for about 15-20 minutes. Then roll out into pizza shape to desired thickness, crimping edges. I like to give it a light spritz of oil.

Marinara Sauce
Adapted from allrecipes.com; makes about 2 cups sauce. Try to make ahead of time so it has time to cool in refrigerator.
2 tsp olive oil
2-3 TB finely diced onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
In a food processor place stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool before spreading on pizza.

Pizza Topping
This is a lot of topping for one pizza. I like to make extra to have some left over to add to pasta dishes. Resist the urge to use all of it; if you do, you will over load your pizza. That’s the number one cause of “limp pizza.”

2 tsp avocado oil
6-8 mushrooms, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 heads of broccoli, finely chopped
salt, pepper and wine to taste
1 cup or so of fresh spinach
1/2 zucchini, chopped
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
chopped kalamata olives

Add oil and mushrooms to sauté pan and cook until mushrooms begin to release moisture. Add garlic and broccoli, spices and wine and cook for a couple of minutes. Add spinach and zucchini and cook until spinach is limp. (Do not overcook. The broccoli should still be crisp; it will finish cooking in the super hot oven.) Dump into strainer to cool and drain.

Assemble Pizza
Place rolled out dough on a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel. Spoon the marinara sauce on the dough and spread to edges. I also like to add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the top of the base. Add the cooked veggies and anything else such as kalamata olives. Slide pizza into oven on top of pizza stone and bake for 6 minutes; carefully slide parchment paper out from underneath pizza and cook for about 6 minutes until lightly browned on edges.
Bon apetit!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Seriously Green Pizza with Whole Wheat Quinoa Crust

Is this pretty or what? This is before the pizza is baked. See baked pizza below.

I make my own pizza all the time. It's gotten so that whenever I eat a commercial pizza I'm very disappointed. Home made pizza is so much better! I do tend to get into a rut because it's quicker to make when you're on automatic pilot. Believe me when I tell you that with just a little preplanning you can make pizza even on a work night. All you have to do is know what you're going to make, prepare a refrigerator dough ahead of time and preheat your oven to 500 degrees as soon as you get home.

This weekend I made my usual crust but went outside the box for a different sauce and toppings. I had a bunch of spinach from last Saturday's Farmer Market and needed to use it up. I've been cooking from "Let Them Eat Vegan" cookbook so I looked up "spinach" to see what ideas I could get. There was a Spinach Cashew Green Sauce that used 2 CUPS of packed, fresh spinach. Excellent! Then I figured I'd use the what was left of the spinach in a quick sauté of veggies for the top.

Here is an adapted crust recipe from "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day." This book should be part of your cookbook collection. You can have great bread without spending all day fussing around. I make this dough so often I know it by heart.

Whole Wheat Quinoa Pizza Crust
1-3/4 cups unbleached, unbromated flour
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 TB wheat gluten flour
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-1/4 tsp instant or active dry yeast
15 oz. tepid water

Make this at least one day ahead. It keeps for about 10-14 days so you can make pizza to your heart's content. Get out a big bowl and dump in all the ingredients in the order listed. Mix until combined and cover with foil and let sit for several hours until it rises (doubles). Put it in the fridge for when you want to make a pizza. That's it!

A very, very green sauce. 

Spinach Cashew Green Sauce
This sauce would be lovely over some pasta too. I found it a nice change from my usual white sauce that I put on my pizzas.

1-1/4 cup soaked, raw cashews
2 TB fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups fresh spinach, packed
2 TB virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Add all to food processor and process until smooth. Spread on pizza before baking.

Pizza Topping
2 tsp avocado oil
6 mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup or so of fresh spinach
1 head of broccoli, finely chopped
salt, pepper and wine to taste

Add oil and mushrooms to sauté pan and cook until mushrooms begin to release moisture. Add rest of ingredients and splash a bit of wine into pan and cook until spinach is limp. Dump into strainer to cool and drain.

Assemble Pizza
Hopefully you have had a pizza stone in the oven, preheating at 500 degrees for about an hour. Lightly flour a surface and take about a grapefruit sized piece of dough from your dough stash. Lightly flour and form into a ball and roll out into pizza shape. Place on a piece of parchment on a pizza peel. Lightly scrunch up the edges. Spoon the green sauce on the dough and spread to edges. I like to add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the top of the base. Add the cooked veggies and anything else such as kalamata olives. Slide pizza into oven on top of pizza stone and bake for 6 minutes; carefully slide parchment paper out from underneath pizza and cook for about 7-8 minutes longer.

Baked Seriously Green Pizza!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tamari Almonds

This is a quick, simple recipe to liven up raw almonds. A great little snack to keep around for when your tummy says, “Feed me!”

I like to bake the almonds on parchment paper and I warn you now, they’ll stick just a bit but it’s easy to break them loose and shake the pan.

1 cup raw almonds
1 TB low sodium tamari

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Put almonds and tamari in small bowl and toss to coat. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. I bake them until the almonds are no longer wet. Keep an eye on the almonds, making sure they don’t get overly brown. They will continue to crisp up after you take them out of the oven. Cool and store in air tight container.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Farmer’s Market

It’s Farmer’s Market season so I’ve been checking them out. My current favorite is the South Anchorage Farmer’s market. So nice to browse the booths listening to live music with the sun shining.

The South Anchorage FM seems to be the only place to get locally made tofu. If you have been put off by tofu in the past, you really need to try fresh tofu. I find the majority of tofu on supermarket shelves rather bitter tasting with off flavors. There is no comparison to Alaska Sprouts tofu. They also sell various sprouts and shoots for about $3.

One pound of delicious local tofu for only $3.

Rempel’s Farm is also at the market offering local organic produce. A new vegetable (for me) was the snow apple turnips. I asked “what is this?” and was given a slice to eat. Crunchy and delicious! I’ve never been overly fond of turnips but these changed my thinking and I bought several.

Mild and crunchy snow apple turnips.
I also purchased some fresh spinach, parsnips and some kind of Russian russet potato.

Parsnips and potatoes.
Another vendor was Rise and Shine Bakery. Their breads are not sold in stores and they don’t have a storefront. You pre-order bread online and pick up at two different locations. Or you can buy some at the Farmer’s Market! So far I’ve bought olive bread and the seeded whole wheat bread. I keep going back trying to buy the sourdough potato but it’s never there. Maybe next weekend?

Rise and Shine Bakery's Olive Bread $7.
Seeded Whole Wheat Bread $6.

WineStyles was also at the market offering 3 tastes of wine for a $10 donation to a non-profit farmer organization. Two of the wines were okay and I loved the Roblar 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Very delicious if a bit overpriced at $19.

I find myself returning to the South Anchorage market because of the tofu and organic produce. And a wine tasting is also fun too!