Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Summer Ends And Here Comes Fall

I'm more than 80% through my Rouxbe class!  Currently, my coursework is focused on the raw foods chapter.  There are sections on juicing, dehydrating, culturing, fermentation and so much more.  One of the recent assignments focused on other ways to use juices, for example, soups.  Cucumber and Watermelon Gazpacho sounded really interesting and I figured it would be a great homage to end of summer.

Finding watermelon in October wasn't the easiest thing to do, but the search time was worth it.  This gazpacho is refreshing, light and summery.  Jalapeño, mint, shallots, bell pepper, vinegar and lime juice work together perfectly to create a complex flavor profile in this simple to prepare dish.  



From summer to fall...healthy to, well, not so healthy. As promised from the previous post, pumpkin doughnuts!  I figured a vegan recipe wouldn't be hard to come by.  However, after quite a few searches, it became clear I was on my own.  After comparing some not so vegan pumpkin bread and pumpkin doughnuts recipes, I formulated this one and hoped it would work.  The results were pretty dang good.

These rose overnight (we keep the house pretty cool) and then I cut then and let them rise again the next day.   My friends arrived on a crisp fall morning to find hot pumpkin doughnuts before we headed out to pick apples at the orchard.  You can't beat that.  Autumn is my favorite time of year.



Vegan Raised Pumpkin Doughnuts
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoons yeast
2/3 cup non dairy milk
1 egg replacer equivalent (my go to is EnerG egg replacer)
3/4 cup puréed pumpkin
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix the yeast and warm water and set aside for about 5 minutes until bubbly.

Then add yeast, egg replacer (pre-mixed according to your go to replacer), non dairy milk, pumpkin, oil, 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, spice and mix until incorporated.  If using a stand mixer, switch over from the mixer blade to the dough hook, then add the remaining flour as necessary until a smooth dough ball forms.  If not, mix with your hands!

Knead the dough ball for 5-10 minutes or until you lose patience. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Grease bowl, put the dough ball inside, cover with a towel and let it rise until it doubles in size.

Once doubled, punch down and roll out the dough until it is a little over 1/4 inch thick.  Then use a doughnut cutter and make your doughnut shapes.  You can get by with a pint glass to cut the big circles and a small round cookie cutter to cut out the center.

Place the doughnuts on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased) and let them rise until doubled again (about 45 minutes). 

Heat cooking oil in a pan that is deep enough for frying over medium heat.  Vegetable oil is the best bet.  When the oil is hot, gently place the doughnuts into the pan and cook for a few minutes per side until they are cooked through.  Then remove from oil to drain.  I generally rip up a paper bag, and then place a layer of towels over it.  This is a trick from my mom and always worked to sop up extra grease when she made potato latkes!

Once they are cool enough to touch, you can toss the doughnuts in a paper bag with sugar and pumpkin pie spice. I used a 1/2 cup of sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

If you prefer glaze, I made a maple syrup glaze.

Maple Syrup Glaze
Combine 1/4 cup of maple syrup with 1 cup of powder sugar.  If it is too thick add a tiny bit of almond or soy milk until it reaches the proper consistency.  If it is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Mushroom Kale White Bean Ragu W/Chickpea Crepes

I've been cooking a ton for class as well as creating some new recipes of my own while I experiment in the kitchen. A few weekends ago, we went apple picking with friends. Pumpkin donuts seemed like the perfect start to our day before heading out. Who doesn't like pumpkin donuts? 

I veganized both cake and yeasted donuts because I couldn't decide which kind I'd prefer.  I'm also a huge fan of maple and wanted to create a maple glaze.  So many recipes use maple extract.  I'm not sure why anyone would use an extract when you could just use the real thing.  My glaze was full of straight up maple syrup goodess.  Expect an upcoming blog post with recipes so you can make your own. 

My Rouxbe coursework has most recently been about cooking for special diets.  This includes low fat, sugar and sodium as well a gluten free options. Clearly, I countered all this healthy cooking with a donut junket, but I digress. Last night for dinner I combined a couple of assignments. 

First, I prepared the No-Oil Mushroom Gravy.  The first step here is dry sautéing the onions/garlic to build up flavor and avoid oil.  The gravy was the base for the Mushroom Kale White Bean Ragu.  If you are looking for the recipe on Rouxbe, try searching for White Bean & Chard Ragu as I chose to use Dinosaur kale instead.  When looking for greens, I always default to those named after prehistoric creatures.  Yay for Dino kale! 

The Ragu was served in gluten free Chickpea Crepes.  You can also find that recipe on Rouxbe.  Though, I'll warn that in order to make the crepes, you need to thin out the batter.  This step is missing from the write up.  They also work best if you generously grease the pan.   

We both really enjoyed the mushroom gravy and the Ragu.  The crepes were ok, but not a favorite.  If you are looking for tasty, versatile gravy or Ragu then these recipes are worth a try.  Oh, and I recommend Dino kale over chard.  




Friday, September 19, 2014

Carrot Walnut Bars

Though I am really digging my Rouxbe class, sometimes it is stressful
always trying to keep up and worrying about graded assignments.  Last
night, I took a break and tried a new recipe that I received in an
email from the California Walnut Board.   It was surprising to see
they chose a vegan recipe by Mollie Katzen to share.

Because the Carrot-Walnut-Oat Gems are low in sugar and sweetened
mostly by fruit they do actually match up with my lessons on cooking
for special diets.  I'm also working on finishing up the no oil
chapter and these contain no added oil.

All in all this is a great recipe for many folks as it is: dairy
free/egg free/vegan, gluten free (if you use gf oats), low sugar, soy free and
no oil.  They are super healthy, but a little high in fat due to the
walnuts.

With a food processor these can be mixed up and ready to bake in no
time at all.  The most difficult parts of the preparation is grating
carrots and juicing a lemon.   Once done, you have breakfast or snacks
for the week.  These squares are easy to eat/take on the go and much
healthier than many of the energy bars you get at the store.

What are you waiting for? Go make them.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tunaless Salad and Oyster Mushroom Scallops

This post has an ocean theme...A Post Aquatic if you will.  I wasn't a huge seafood fan in my pre-gan days, but every once in a while I could go for some tuna salad and occasionally I would have scallops.

In the Rouxbe chapter on grains and beans, one of the assignments was preparing a Tuna-less Salad.   The dish consists of mashed chickpeas, seaweed, pickles, mayo and some other extras.  It has a slight flavor of the sea, but in reality is just a fresh, tasty chickpea salad that doesn't need to be compared to tuna.


At the same time as taking this class, I'm also helping recipe test for Celine and Joni's upcoming cookbook: Vegan Substitutions 2.  When I saw the Crispy Bacon and Shallot King Oyster Scallops, I knew I had to try them.  This is built on two other recipes from the book, bacon bits and (believe it or not!) bacon grease.   It never occurred to me to try to veganize bacon grease, so kudos to the authors there.

Anyway, this is an imaginative and tasty dish like so many others you'll find when this book is released.


As far as Rouxbe, I've been making my way through chapters on soups, sauces, marinades, dairy replacements, proteins and most recently fresh pasta.  Expect to see some posts from these tasks soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Asparagus Risotto

One of the assignments I've been putting off in my Rouxbe class was Asparagus Risotto.  In my defense, I was little "riced out" between pilaf and the first risotto task.  Saturday seemed like a perfect day to tackle this one, especially after completing the home made vegetable stock recipe earlier in the week.

There's no doubt that risotto is time consuming, but the results are delicious and look mighty pretty on a plate.  As usual, you can find this recipe if you do a quick search on Rouxbe.  The dish is flavored with broth and asparagus puree.  Then it is finished with truffle oil.


I've also been working on an recipe for Oat Cheeze which I entered in the Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats recipe contest.  Expect a post about that soon!



Saturday, August 02, 2014

Vegetable Tagine

Towards the end of Unit 7 (Daily Meal Inspritation) at Rouxbe, there was a one pot meal assignment.  We had two choices which were Coconut Braised Chickpeas or Vegetable Tagine.  Since I already prepared the chickpea dish in the braising chapter, I decided to try the tagine.

First of all I want to share that when the Rouxbe video started, the speaker pronounced it ta-jeen with the accent on second syllable.  This made me think that I've been pronouncing tagine wrong my entire life.  I always said tah-jeen with the accent on the first syllable.  Some google searches cleared this up.  The UK pronunciation matches the video and my pronunciation matches what we say in the US.  Who knew?  Clearly, not me.

Secondly, I worried that perhaps I needed to purchase a tagine pot.  My kitchen has been filling up with lots of new toys since starting this class, but I've been trying to limit my purchases to tools I will use on a regular basis.  Tagine pot probably doesn't fall into that category.  The videos/recipe didn't mention a special pan.  When I searched on google most folks indicated the tagine pot was mainly for presentation, so fortunately no shopping required.

You may have seen my earlier post about mise en place. I've been using this technique in my cooking more often.  It is a requirement for Rouxbe assignments.  Though I do end up with more dishes to wash, it definitely helps recipe preparation go more smoothly.  In this picture you can see some pretty decent knife cuts.  Sharp knives and practice have helped me quite a bit. The spices were toasted and then ground, so they were ready to use.


As this all cooked, I did need to prepare some secondary ingredients like olives, lemon zest and raisins.  Here is a photo of the finished dish.  It was delicious, but had quite a kick to it. The flavors did even out a bit the next day.  If you aren't a fan of spicy, it would be easy to cut down on the cracked red pepper.



Many Rouxbe recipes are available on their site even if you aren't a student.  You miss out on the video instruction though.  I'll link directly to the vegetable tagine, but keep in mind if you see a Rouxbe post from me, you can often search for Rouxbe and the recipe name (tagine in this example) and find it yourself!


Friday, August 01, 2014

Berry Patch Brownies

Last weekend we picked some blueberries at a local farm.  When I say "some", I mean almost 10 pounds.  Fresh picked berries are nothing like store bought.  The flavor is wonderful!  We were so excited to use these in smoothies, salads, old recipes and new ones.

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed, I saw a tweet from Dreena Burton about her Berry Batch Brownie recipe.  Just a quick click and I knew I had to make them.  Side note:  I really love Dreena's recipes.  Her blogs and cookbooks helped me out so much as a new vegan many years ago.  One of the great things about her recipes is that they are almost always simple to make, but are full of flavor.  Some of my favorite cookbooks by Dreena Burton are: Vive Le Vegan, The Everyday Vegan and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

When I started mixing up the brownies, I noticed we were out of regular baking cocoa.  All I had in the pantry was black onyx cocoa.  That meant I needed to add a bit more liquid to the mix and that my brownies had an even darker color.

These are dark fudgy deliciousness topped with raspberry jam, fresh blueberries and chocolate chips.  The brownies are wonderful and it's a recipe that I definitely recommend.  How beautiful do they look?


A Rouxbe update for you:

Currently I'm working on spices, umami, acids and layering flavor.

I'm getting proficient at sharpening my knives with the whetstone and honing them with a steel.  The razor sharp blades make it so easy to practice and showcase my knife cuts.

I've been making my way through chapters on basic cooking methods that involve water such as steaming or submersion.  Then we moved on to dry cooking methods like roasting and sautéing.  This is also where we learned about woks and how to stir fry.  I'm now the proud owner of a newly seasoned wok and am not afraid to play around with ingredients.

Up next were grains and beans as well as combination and one pot meals.  I'm looking forward to sharing a new post with you featuring a Moroccan Tagine that I made for class.