Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daring Lavash

This had to be the most relaxed Daring Bakers Challenge yet. Why? Not because it was something I've made before, it wasn't. Not because it was done in 5 minutes, it wasn't. This challenge was all vegan. Yup, that's what I said. All vegan. No alterations necessary. The challenge for September was lavash crackers, an Armenian style of yeasted cracker.

I was ever so slightly worried about rolling out this dough. The instructions say the thinner the better except I am dough challenged. Everyone knows that. I just went for it. Mix the dough, knead for 10ish minutes, let rise then stretch/roll. I had nothing to worry about, this dough is awesome, so stretchy and supple. I actually had enough dough for two trays rather than the one the recipe claims. I served my lavash with good ol' hummus. You really can't go wrong there.
Lavash Crackers
Recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tb agave syrup or sugar
1 Tb vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mango Tango

Or more accurately Mango Teriyaki Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice from Vegetarian Times June 2008. Mine is slightly modified because as usual, I can't leave well enough alone.
I've always found VT recipes to be hit or miss or not vegan. This one was vegan and I had a mango ripe and ready.

Mango-Teriyaki Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup tamari
2 Tbs sugar
Tofu & Rice
1 1/4 cups brown jasmine rice
3/4 tsp salt
1 lb tofu, drained and cut into 12 slices
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Add rice, salt and 2 cups water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 25-30 mins, until liquid has been absorbed.

Make you mango sauce. Puree all sauce ingredients in blender until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer stirring. Remove from heat.

Heat grill pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Coat tofu slices with mango sauce and grill 3 mins per side (rotate slice 45 degrees to get cross hash grill pattern).

Stir 1/3 cup scallions, 1 tsp sesame seeds and sesame oil into rice. Mound rice on plate. Add tofu. Drizzle with remaining sauce and the sprinkle with remaining scallions and sesame.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ultimate Comfort

If I were to make a list of all time ultimate comfort foods pot pie would be in the top 5. Even before I went to the vegan side I loved loved loved pot pie. Unfortunately most of those pot pie experiences were from the frozen food section of the super market. As most ingredient conscious people know, the frozen food section is rarely a smart place to be. Even as a vegan the freezer section can be a pronunciation nightmare. I admit I can be found there from time to time (maybe more than I'd like to confess) but frozen pot pies are a rarity in the vegan variety and even if you find one it's probably going to be a disappointment. Barely any filling ingredients, too much gravy, not enough gravy. So needless to say, I don't get my pot pies all that often. Sure I could make them but in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I am pie dough challenged (because we're being all PC here). The doughs always taste fine, I can salvage them into something usable but they just don't work like they are supposed to. I can't just roll them out, can't fold them or drape them to place them in a pan or on top of a pie. They brake, crack, laugh at me. It's all very distressing.

Dispite my dough ineptity I really really really wanted a pot pie and I wanted it the right way. Lots of filling ingredients, smooth creamy gravy, flakey crust, the works. The result was perfect! I even was able to transport the dough from the counter to the pie and everything. It all worked.
Ok the husband helped me. Those are his leaves. Aren't they cute? I did roll out and place the dough though, my biggest challenge.

Seitan Pot Pie

3 Tb Earth Balance margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lg potato, scrubbed & diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 med carrots
Salt & pepper
1 lb seitan, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb green beans, frozen or fresh cut into 1" pieces
1/2 lb peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or 2 1/2 cup water with a veggie boullion cube)
1/2 cup almond milk
Salt & pepper
1 cup chilled Earth Balance
3 cups flour
10oz cold vegan cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the filling, melt the margarine in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion & potato. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, bell pepper, carrots and cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Stir in the salt and pepper to taste. Add the seitan, green beans & peas. Set aside.

For the sauce, melt the margarine over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. Slowly whisk in the stock keeping the mixture smooth. Add almond butter, salt & pepper. Pour the sauce over the filling and mix.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Get a casserole dish or 9"x13" dish or even individual pie pans ready, lightly oil. Cut the margarine into little pieces. In the bowl of your food processor (with blade attachment), pulse margarine and flour until crumbly. Add cream cheese, salt & pepper. Continue pulsing until dough comes together into a ball. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 1/4" thickness large enough to cover your pan or big enough to be cut into rounds to cover individual pans. Pour filling into pans. Cover with dough cutting off excess and press down edges. Place a baking sheet under whatever shape your dish is as there will almost certainly be some bubbling over and bake 20-25 mins.
This is easily open to modification. Add beans, corn, squash, whatever strikes your fancy. I need more pie.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Green Smoothies Here I Come!

People have been talking about green smoothies for a while now. I'm an open minded person, willing to give most things a try so I did not write off this phenomenon. Yes they sound strange and if you are a greens hater they might even sound revolting. Luckily I am not a greens hater. In fact, I think I've liked all the greens I've tried so far. After posting the Vegan's Hundred I knew it was time for me to take the green smoothie plunge.

Yesterday at the farmers market funds were a little low so I had to be very careful of my choices. Tomatoes are always irrisistable, local plums won't be around for much longer, with my final $3 I picked a bunch of beets. The greens looked pretty good so I could eat those too. Of course this morning the greens looked less than good but I cut them from the beet root, picked out the yuck ones and placed the rest in a clean sink of cold water. After about 1 hr they looked new, bright, beautiful. What an amazing transformation. Now was the time for my first green smoothie.

Into my blender jug I tossed:
1 ripe banana
1 lemon, rind cut away but the white pith left (I hear it has some good bits) cut into chunks to pick out the seeds.
2 dried dates, pitted
6 medium beet greens
1/2 cup frozen chopped mango
1/2 cup water

I started up the blender on low quickly turning the speed up to high and as I watched the mixture blend together I hoped for the best. Could this be good? Will I need to add something else to make this edible?

The answer, luckily, was no. This came out to taste slightly creamy and sweet from the banana and dates. A little lemonade like from the whole lemon with the added roundness of mango and just an ever so faint taste of greens. If I had added fewer greens you would probably not even know they were there except for the green color of the finished product. I did not mind the light green flavor though. It just added to the bright alive over all feeling of the smoothie. I will be doing this again.