Thursday, November 22, 2012

Single Serving Vegan Brownie with Secret Ingredient

Unbelievable! Non-dairy, egg free and so delicious!

I've been making the single serving brownie recipe from the Happy Herbivore for a couple of years now. It's okay but I find it a bit too sweet and I'm not totally enamored with the whole wheat pastry flavor. But it's a great recipe to have around for when you have a "brownie emergency." I've been fiddling around with the recipe, changing and reducing sugars and trying out different flours. I found that replacing the applesauce with pumpkin puree makes a less sweet brownie that is wonderfully moist. I also switched out the whole wheat pastry flour with spelt flour. This let the chocolate flavor shine through. This is a moist, chocolately treat that just takes minutes to throw together. Enjoy!

Oh yeah, check out the melted chocolate chips!
2 TB spelt flour
1 TB cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 TB blond coconut sugar
1 TB pumpkin puree
1 TB maple syrup
1 TB soy milk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a small ramekin. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until no lumps remain. Add the chocolate chips and mix again. Scrape into ramekin and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

One Year Ago...
I made delicious Cheesy Quinoa Garbanzo Cups. It was so yummy it's going to be the main dish at my Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores – a book review

We have such a wonderful library system in Anchorage. We have our main library and several small branches. The Loussac Library was part of several projects built during "Project 80s." It's four stories, with meeting rooms on the first floor, books on the 2nd and 3rd floors and the 4th floor is the media collection. There is a huge collection of cookbooks and I love to browse through them.

A new addition to their collection is Vegan Cooking for Carnivores – Over 125 Recipes So Tasty You Won't Miss the Meat (hey! have they been reading the intro to my blog?!) by Roberto Martin. He is the personal chef for Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Roberto is not a vegan but still got the job, and they seem pretty happy with his cooking. He has compiled a book of recipes that even non-cooks can make. Lots of instructions, pictures and tasty recipes. I was struck by his "keep the techniques, change the ingredients." He says in order to cook meatless, first identify the technique that exists in a recipe and categorize the ingredients of the recipe in terms of proteins, acids, liquids, and fats. Then substitute the non-vegan ingredients, such as soy milk for cows milk, or soy proteins for meat. He really simplifies the whole process. As Portia says, "Instead of making vegan food, he made food vegan."

Chapters include:
The Pantry and Some Basics
Appetizers and Snacks
Pizza, Pasta, and Pasta Sauces
Condiments, Sauces, and Dressings

Some recipes I'd like to try:
Tofu Benedict with Chipotle Cream
Avocado Reuben
Roasted Corn Dodgers
Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Beluga Lentil Caviar on Blini
Spicy Noodle Salad
Quinoa & Cranberry Salad
Grilled Apple and Pear Salad with Organge Citrus Dressing
Barley and Kale Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
Blackened Tofu Caesar Salad
Chopped Asian Salad
Almond Pesto Pizza
Tal's Fresh Pasta
Homemade Ravioli with Tofu Burrata & Mushrooms
Arrabbiata Sauce
Puttanesca Sauce
Faux Pho
Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Barley and Vegetables
Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Tofu and Sprouted Brown Rice
Corn Pudding
The Perfect Scratch Margarita (yes!)
Fresh Tomato Mary
Vegan La Bete Noire - the Black Beast (a rich, dense, chocolate cake)
Basic Cheesecake

I didn't list any recipes that used any of the mock meats such as Gardein Chick'n Scallopini because I'm just not into those types of recipes at this time in my life.

This is a very accessible vegan cookbook, highly recommended for people who are "vegan-curious" or new vegans unsure of what to eat. I found lots of interesting recipes even for someone who doesn't "miss the meat."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chocolatey Drizzle

Oh boy. These are good. I will have to say though that they have lots of sugar and fat, more than I usually bake with. I did use less sugar than the original recipe and the next time around I will use even less. I brought these to work and they were all gone by mid-afternoon which means everybody liked them. Here is the original recipe from The Sweet Life blog in all its glory with some stunning photos.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic all purpose unbleached flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1/4 cup plus 2 TB Sucanat sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 TB organic cane sugar
1/2 cup + 3 TB pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
chocolate drizzle (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt. Mix together and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat with a mixer the vegan butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir to combine.  Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing together until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop cookies onto baking sheet, about 2 tbsp each. Press down lightly and bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges golden. Let sit for a minute and then move to a rack to cool. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let harden before putting into container.

Chocolatey Drizzle
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
2-3 TB vegan butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
2 TB or more of non-dairy milk

Heat chocolate chips and butter in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Add vanilla, sugar and 2 TB of non-dairy milk and mix until smooth. Keep adding milk 1 TB at a time until thin enough to drizzle over cooled cookies.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Beer Tasting – Some Local, Some Not

Quite a variety of different pumpkin beers, all purchased at LaBodega in Anchorage, Alaska.
In keeping with the pumpkin theme this month, I'm now surrounded by seven different beers. It's quite amazing how different they all are. I will reveal what I think is the best and worst at the end of my post. Originally I was going to buy seven different single 12 ounce beers. I really didn't want a whole six pack; this was a tasting. When I got to the store they only had two different brands that came in 12 ounces bottles but plenty of others in 22 ounce. So I purchased the two 12 ounce beers and the rest were in the big bottles. I purchased the beer at LaBodga which is a locally owned store. I really love to shop there because they will split up six packs of beer, and the staff is knowledgeable and very helpful. They have a super collection of beers.

Please keep in mind, this is just my own opinion. Everyone has different tastes. My taste in beer runs to brews such as Great Divide Hibernation Ale (no longer available in Alaska). I really enjoy dark, smooth, brooding, sipping beers such as Thelonius Monk Belgian-Style Abbey Ale. For something "lighter," I'd go for Sierra Nevada Tumbler. I absolutely despise "beers" such as Bud, Coors, Michelob Light, etc.

Here are the seven pumpkin beers in tasting order, with my impressions:

Buffalo Bill's Brewery America's Original Pumpkin Ale 5.2% ABV / 12 ounce bottle $1.50 LaBodga
Ale brewed with real pumpkin and natural spice flavor.
Brewed in Hayward, California. Here are my tasting notes: "Kind of hazy, not obnoxious in any way, effervescent, mild, very drinkable, pleasant enough. Very good with veggie pizza. I like it!!" This one really grew on me as I drank it. I would commit to buying a six pack of this one. Three stars - good.

Shock-Top Pumpkin Wheat 5.2% ABV / 12 ounces bottle $1.50 at LaBodega
Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with pumpkin and spices.
This is a mass produced beer by Anheuser-Busch. It already had three strikes against it because I am pro micro-brewery. Not fair, but I did try to keep an open mind. It was unfiltered which I love in a beer. Here are my tasting notes: "Pours hazy, non-offensive, a little rough around the edges, not aware of any spice or pumpkin, not enjoying this the way I did the Buffalo Bill (see above), kind of harsh, not so great with my veggie burger and home fries. Started to get a headache, dumped the rest." One star - didn't like it.

Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Treat Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter 7.8% ABV / 30 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $9 LaBodega 
Ale brewed with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg.
Brewed in Anchorage, Alaska. A porter but without the coffee notes. This beer rocked my world! Dark, tasty, not too boozy, right amount of hops, just lovely! Tasting notes - "Deep dark, smooth, quite delicious." My tasting buddy felt it was a dessert drink but we were swilling (and loving it) with hummus and pita bread. 5 stars - loved it!

Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Trickster 7% ABV / 22 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $7.95 LaBodega
Belgian-Style Ale brewed with pumpkin & spices.
Brewed in Anchorage, Alaska. Loved the label. Unfortunately I'm not a great fan of light Belgian-style beers and we tasted this at the same time as the Treat. Tasting notes – "Pours clear, light copper color, faint spicy smell, okay." My tasting buddy and I were a little underwhelmed. I have another bottle of this and will try it at a later date by itself. Two stars - fair.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale 5.9% ABV / 18 IBUs / 22 ounces bottle $4.95 LaBodega
Ale brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin seeds and fermented with spices.
Brewed in Seattle, Washington. I guess from the name "Night Owl," I was expecting a dark beer. It's not. Tasting notes: Pours clear, light copper color, pretty head, doesn't smell or taste of pumpkin or spices, pleasant enough, okay." Two stars - fair.

Elysian Hansel and Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner 4.5% ABV / 22 ounces bottle $7.95 LaBodega
Tasting notes: "Golden color, kind of hazy, smell that ginger(!), refreshing, whoa ginger(!), soapy(?), I don't think I care for this beer." Capped the bottle and there it still sits in the refrigerator. One star - didn't like.

Two Beers Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice Ale 5.2% ABV / 19 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $6.50 LaBodega
Brewed with pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon.
Another Seattle, Washington brewery. I really like these guys 'cause they sell beers in 12 ounce aluminum cans which is important since you can't recycle bottles in Anchorage anymore! Tasting notes: "Pours clear, light amber, mmmm, mmmmm, lightly spicy, very pleasant, enjoyable beer." Drank half and capped the bottle and finished it off the next day. Four stars - I liked it!

The hands-down winner was the Midnight Sun Treat. My next favorite was the Two Beers Pumpkin Spice Ale. The worst was a draw between the Elysian Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner and the ShockTop Pumpkin Wheat.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sourdough Bread with Kamut Flour and Baked Potato made with a little help from your bread machine

Another version of delicious sourdough potato bread.
I try to bake a loaf of sourdough bread every couple weeks and I have been refining a recipe for Sourdough Potato Bread. I have literally made a variation of it eight times already. It's rarely perfect and that's what I love about homemade bread – it's usually edible even when the recipe doesn't come out as expected. I'm always switching out the flours, mixing process, baking times, etc. No wonder the results are never the same!

The inspirational recipe is from "How to Make Bread" by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and I really don't get his methodology. He mixes it up, lets it sit for 10 minutes, hand kneads it in the bowl for 10 seconds, and he does this four times before letting it rise for an hour. The dough is kind of wet and I find the whole process "difficult." So I just do it "my" way. And that's with as little hands-on time as possible!

This time around I decided to use my bread machine for the initial mixing and rise. I also wanted to use some kamut flour. I was very pleased with the results. I like the mild taste of the kamut flour and I found my sourdough rising more robustly after the initial rise in the bread machine. Next time I am going to increase the amount of kamut flour to half instead of just a third of the flour total. I'm also going to use my new assistant again – the bread machine!

I like to slice and freeze it after a couple of days. It makes awesome toast!

Warning: If you don't have much experience make bread from scratch this probably isn't the best loaf to start on. My directions could be more detailed, but really, I'm kind of winging it myself!

Note on measurements: I use ounces, cups and grams. Successful bakers weigh their ingredients and I try to use grams for my flours. Liquids and salt are just easier using cups and teaspoons. What I really need to do is learn to use baker's percentages... Makes 1 loaf.

Sourdough Bread with Kamut Flour and Baked Potato

1 medium potato, scrubbed and baked (about 5 oz. after baking)
250 g active sourdough starter
2/3 cup warm water
2 tsp olive oil
10 g vital wheat gluten
200 g all purpose bread flour (organic, unbleached, unbromated)
100 g kamut flour
1 tsp salt
5 oz baked potato including the skin, crumbled

Select dough setting on bread machine. Add all the ingredients in the order listed. Turn bread machine on and let it do its thing. Be sure to take a look and make sure dough doesn't look too wet or too dry. You do want this dough to be a bit sticky.

After finishing first rise in bread machine, scrape from bowl onto lightly floured surface. Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then gently pull into rectangle, folding into thirds, rotate and again fold into thirds. Form into ball and put in lightly oiled bowl and cover and let rise until doubled.

Gently move from bowl onto lightly floured surface and gently pull into rectangle folding into thirds, rotate and again fold into thirds. Form into ball and place smooth size down into brotform bowl.

When it's almost double in size, preheat oven to 425 degrees. I like to bake in a clay pot so I put that in the oven at this time. When dough is doubled gently invert onto parchment paper, slash the top, and place in the preheated clay pot. Bake for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for about 15-20 more minutes until done. You can test with thermometer gauge reading of 190-200 degrees or tap on the bottom, it should sound hollow.

Homemade tahini is quick and easy to make.
One year ago...
Homemade tahini. Have you priced tahini lately? The price just seems to keep going up. Fight back and make your own.