Monday, February 28, 2011

Vegan Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

When the snow still piles up outside with new snow showers despite 'spring break', salad does not sound too appealing but a bold, spicy, hot, red tomato sauce with some happy meatballs does. This is an Indian inspired spicy tomato sauce with store-bought vegan meatballs and spaghetti. Now, snow, bring it on!

Spicy tomato sauce (makes about 3 servings):
1/2 TB grapeseed oil
1 TB whole cumin seeds
1 ts whole fennel seeds
1 ts black mustard seeds

1/2 white onion, peeled
2 inch ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 hot chili (or srichacha hot sauce)
1 small can of no-salt added organic diced tomatoes

1 ts tamerind paste
1/2 TB garam masala powder
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1/2 TB sugar

10 meatless meatballs (e.g. Trader joes)
In a food processor, puree the onion with ginger, garlic, chili (or hot sauce) and the tomatoes.

In a heavy skillet heat the grapeseed oil and toast all the seeds until the mustard seeds start popping and the seed mix smells fragrant. Now, add in the tomato mix, and combine with the seeds. Add in the tamerind paste as well as the garam massala and bay leaf. Simmer for about 20 min on medium-low. Add in the meatless meatballs, and simmer for another 5 min. Add salt to taste. If the sauce it too tart, add some sugar or agave nectar to taste. Serve with spaghetti!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies

Today was one of those days when Sunday started with lingering in bed with a cup of coffee, the laptop and while glancing at Food TV deciding I definitely have to make those gooey chocolate cookies that Giada was feeding to her adorable daughter. Later in the afternoon, waiting for the line-up of stars and robes at the Oscars to start, I ventured in the kitchen and produced the most wonderfully smelling double chocolate coffee cookies with a chewy, brownie like texture.

Note: I did not have chocolate covered espresso beans, so I substituted with some fresh ground coffee. Worked just as well.

6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 TB earth balance buttery stick
1 TB freshly ground coffee beans
1 cup allpurpose flour
2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ts baking powder
1/4 ts fine sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoons water
1 TB spiced rum
1 ts pure vanilla extract
2 TB semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Use a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and earth balance. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground coffee, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, water, rum and vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until thick and smooth. Fold in the melted chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Giada used an ice cream scoop and made large cookies, but I was for smaller ones that I could eat with my morning coffee, so I used a melonball scoop. Scoop small praline sized balls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between raw cookie dough. Bake until slightly puffed and the tops begin to crack, (13-15 min for small cookies, 18 to 20 minutes for larger, ice cream scooped cookies). The dough makes for about 2 1/2 cookie sheets, which I baked in several batches. Place cookies on cooling rack, and allow the cookies to cool completely and serve.

The entire batter made about 35 small cookies; 1 cookie is about 70kcal. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy malted multigrain bread

When I browsed through the latest King Arthur Flour catalog, this bread caught my eye. Whole grain, great texture and likely great flavor (the picture in the catalog looks better!). Unfortunately, the recipe required so many ingredients I did not have at home, I had to improvise. This bread has a wonderful crust with a dense, chewy texture and full flavor.

2 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup multigrain flakes (Trader Joes brand)
2 cups King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups King Arthur All-purpose flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 TB whole flax seeds (optional)
2 TB cumin seeds (optional)
1.5 ts sea salt
1 ts instant yeast
1 TB Baker's milk powder

In a bowl, mix the warm water and the multigrain flakes and the malt powder, and let soak for 15 min. In a second bowl, mix all the flours including the instant yeast and the milk powder. Pour the flours into the wet mix, and using a stand mixer with a kneading hook mix the bread dough for about 3-5 min. It should be a spongy, not too wet texture. 

Rest the dough covered with a dish towel at a warm place for about 3 hours.

Soak a clay baker for about 30min in warm/hot water. Dry the bottom part with a towel and lightly grease. Use the bread dough and form a long shaped bread that fits into the clay baker. Cover with ceran wrap, and let rise for another hour in a warm place.
Cover the baker with the top part, and place into a cold oven. Set temperature to 400F. Bake for 60 min covered, then remove the lid and bake another 10 min. A thermometer inserted into the loaf should read 205 F. Remove bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kala Chana --- Black Chickpeas

I saw them first at my local India grocer, the one who sells Indian food items in bulk, inexpensive, and foremost for the local Indians. With a gray beard and an ever present Sikh turban, he always looks at me and my selection, then asking "do you know how to cook this?!" Mostly I give a pretty good answer, and I think I am in his good graces now. 

Black chickpeas (or kala chana, kaala chana or desi chickpeas) were a first for me, but I had seen them as the original ingredient in some chickpea curries, and so I was ready to try them out. They are smaller than the regular 'white' chickpea but less bland in taste. A winner! I was so enamored with my first batch, I mostly used them up in salads. 

Kala chana (black chickpeas)

1/2 cup black chickpeas, wash, rinse
soak overnight in ca 2 cups of water
Discard soaking water. Cook in 1 1/2 cups of water and add a fresh bay leaf and 2 peeled garlic cloves. Simmer on low for about 25-30min (I tasted them at this point, and they were soft enough for my taste. Based on a different type, the cooking time might take up to 45min). 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Seitan Log

Seitan seems to be a staple as 'meat replacement' for vegans, but for non-vegans it sounds esoteric and exotic. Since I only eat vegan (as an experiment) since October I never had seitan, store-bought or home-made. Maybe, I did, but that might have been accidentally sampling the various salads at Whole Foods. Nevertheless, that did not keep me to try out making seitan today. I found versions of cooking seitan in broth and letting the cutlet  expand, but,this did not sound too appealing to me. So, I opted for a baked seitan log. First sampling? Surprisingly meaty textures and fabulous flavor.

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup vegetable broth
4 tablespoons tomato paste 
2 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetarian worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the liquid ingredients in another mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two.
Form into a log (6-8” long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes.

When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool. Wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vegan Vegetable Coconut Curry

This is a great dish for people who like bold (vegan) flavors: thai curry, coconut and vegetables which stand up to it. This also work well with white fish, e.g. haddock, and even frozen white fish, which typically looses most of its delicate flavor during the freezing process. For vegetables, use what is on hand. I had kale, spinach, haricot vert, edamame and frozen corn. A delight!

Makes 2 larger servings:
1/2 ts grapeseed oil
1 TB red Thai paste
1/2 TB crushed garlic (or 1 garlic clove)
1/2 TB crushed ginger from a jar (or 1/2 inch fresh, grated)
1/2 can of light coconut milk
1.5 cup water
handful (frozen) haricot vert
handful frozen corn
handful frozen edamame
handful frozen kale (@ Wholefoods market) or 4-5 leaves, destemmed and sliced, fresh
1/2 package frozen baby spinach

Optional: 2 small frozen haddock filets.

Note: It is in the middle of winter and fresh vegetables are not local and expensive; in the summer this would be a dish to make with local ingredients. In the winter it works just as well with inexpensive frozen vegetables.

In a large pot, heat the oil and mix in the Thai paste, garlic and ginger. Stir and heat up, but don't try to brown it, just toast for about 1 min. Add in the coconut milk and water, and stir to mix all the ingredients to make the curry sauce. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium simmer. Add all the frozen (or fresh) ingredients, and let simmer for about 15min. 

This is a great dish that looses nothing of its bold flavor when reheated.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flowers in a Teapot

It will still be months until we see flowers in the garden here in Maine. Despite some sun and rain lately, there are still 3 feet of snow on the lawn. So, how about some early spring in a tea pot? The Numi teas don't only look beautiful, they taste great, too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vegan Polenta with Kale and Mushrooms

This must be my new favorite combination: kale and mushroom, richly stewed with garlic ginger sauce and delicate polenta. 

Polenta: (makes 2 large servings)
0.5  cup polenta/yellow corn meal
1 cup water
0.5 cup almond milk
0.5 TB Earth balance (vegan butter replacement)
some salt
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon juice

Sauteed kale and mushrooms (1 serving):
1 cup portabella button mushroom, cleaned and quartered
several Tuscan kale leaves, de-stemmed and sliced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ts olive oil
1/2 TB veganaise
1 TB Stonewall Kitchen Garlic Ginger Sauce (or bbq sauce)

For serving: pine nuts, toasted

Polenta: Bring to a water and almond milk to a boil, and whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes (or less). Turn off the heat. Add the earth balance, and stir until melted and the lemon juice. The lemon juice really made a difference--it makes the polenta seem brighter somehow, but not lemony. 

Pour the polenta into a heat-proof glass dish, spread out and cool. Once cooled, you can cut off slices.

Sauteed Mushrooms: in a skillet, heat the oilve oil and sauteed the onion and garlic, and once translucent (3min) add the fresh mushroom. Sautee for about 5min, til shrunk and browned. Mix the ginger garlic sauce with a 1/4 cup of water and pour into the saute mix. Add the kale.  Sautee for another 3-5 min. Once done, turn off the heat and stir in the veganaise and the bbq sauce. It makes it creamy and gives it a full, deep flavor. Serve with polenta and toasted pine nuts.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vegan Polenta with Porcini Mushroom

Venturing down a new avenue: polenta! It is a nice alternative for a vegan plate, adding a slight luxurious quality. What better than that for a Valentine's weekend? It can either be creamy  and served immediately after preparation, or it can be cooked, cooled and then cut into serving sizes. Regularly, it is only cooked with water and salt, but to make it richer one can add milk and butter. In a vegan variety, I added almond milk and a bit of earth balance, as well as the juice of a 1/2 Meyer lemon. Served on a bed of sauteed dried porcini and fresh portabella button mushrooms. Delightfult!

Polenta: (makes 4 servings)
1 3/4 cups of polenta
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups almond milk
1TB earth balance (vegan butter replacement)
some salt
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon juice

Sauteed porcini and portabella mushroom (1 serving):
1 cup portabella button mushroom, cleaned and quartered
1/2 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ts olive oil
0.5 oz porcini mushroom, reconstituted in hot water
1/2 TB veganaise
1 TB BBQ sauce
thyme, for garnish
Polenta: Bring to a water and almond milk to a boil, and whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes (or less). Turn off the heat. Add the earth balance, and stir until melted and the lemon juice. The lemon juice really made a difference--it makes the polenta seem brighter somehow, but not lemony. 

Pour the polenta into a heat-proof glass dish, spread out and cool. Once cooled, you can cut off slices.

Sauteed Mushrooms: in a skillet, heat the oilve oil and sauteed the onion and garlic, and once translucent (3min) add the fresh mushroom. Sautee for about 5-8min, til softened. Add the reconstituted porcinis with some of the liquid. Stir, and let simmer on medium-low for about 10min. Add more liquid when the sauce become too dry. Once done, turn off the heat and stir in the veganaise and the bbq sauce. It makes it creamy and gives it a full, deep flavor. Serve with polenta.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kale Chips

My relationship with kale is not very old, a year, maybe? The first encounter was not positive; I tried out curly kale in a smoothie, but with a non-vitamix blender, and the texture just curled me the wrong way. Last summer I started growing Tuscan kale, which I love. In the fall, I used curly kale again, but now with my beloved vitamix. This weekend I finally found Tuscan kale at Wholefoods (as well as frozen curly one!), and so my locally bought curly kale, waiting in the fridge, was ready for a new experiment: kale chips!

This just tells you if you read about something often enough on other blogs, you will try it out eventually ;-)

Kale chips:
1 bunch kale (tuscan or curly)
1/2 TB tamari
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
1 TB maple syrup
1 TB fruity olive oil

Preheat oven to 200F. 

Mix all the liquid ingredients in a bowl. De-stem the kale, and rip or cut the kale leaves into 2 inch sized pieces. Place a portion of the kale pieces in the bowl, and rub in the tamari mix in to the leaves until the kale is well coated. 

Line a baking sheet with alu foil, and spread out the 'massaged' kale on the sheet. Avoid overcrowding so that the kale is in one layer.

Bake for 30min. Remove from oven, and gentle remove the kale from the baking sheet, and turn around. Remove those that are crisp already. Place back in oven and bake for another 10-15min. Let cool and serve!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sprouted French Lentils

Sprouting, adding even higher nutritional value to legumes or grains, or so they say.... since it breaks a protective hull of grains and  lentils, which make them hard to digest. I sprouted tiny dark French lentils, in the middle of a Maine winter, and it came out a smashing success. They are a crunchy addition to salads and sandwiches.

How to sprout lentils.

mason jar
perforated lid (they are available for mason jars in natural living stores or online) or use simple cheese cloth

1) Fill the mason jar at most 1/3 with dry lentils. Once measured, clean the lentils under water and pick over for stones. 
2) Fill the lentils back into the mason jar, and fill the jar with water, covering the lentils well and above. Let the lentils soak for about 12h, and then rinse again. The lentils should be plumb by now. Discard theleftover water via the perforated lid.
3) Place the jar in a warm, sunny place (in Maine that means close to the wood stove!), and wait.
4) Twice a day, rinse the lentils by pouring cold water through the lid into the jar, shake well to loosen up the lentils and rinse them all thorougly. Again, discard all water through the lid.
5) After 2-3 days the lentils will be sprouting and start to take up the entire space in the jar, and you can start using them. Repeat step 4.
6) Once sufficiently sprouted, spread the sprouts in a flat container lined with paper towels, and store in the fridge. 

You can also buy them, and even at Whole Foods they are not that expensive.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How to make Gluehwein

There are 6 feet high piles of snow everywhere, but one of the perks of warming up in winter is drinking Gluehwein. Gluehwein is a German mulled red wine, which literally means "wine that makes you hot like a hot iron rod".... It definitely lifts temperature and spirits in the very cold season...... Similar idea like a Sangria, just served hot.

1 bottle of red wine (a Barefoot cabernet or even the new Barefoot Sweet Red work very well; for the Sweet Red leave out the sugar)
1/2 TB mulling spices (ca. 5 cloves, 1/2 stick of cinnamon, 1-2 cardamon pods, dried orange zest)
2 TB sugar
3 TB spiced brown rum (like Captain Morgan, or I use a very famous Austrian spiced rum, Strohrum)
1 orange

Pour the entire bottle of wine in a large enough pot, and heat the wine slowly. Add the mulling spices, the sugar and the rum, and stir. Discard the rind-only ends of the orange, and cut it in half, and then into quarters. Thinly slice the orange, and add to the gluehwein. Heat, but don't boil. Once it is heated, stir, and put on a low simmer to keep it hot. Serve hot in a cup with some of the orange slices! Keep warm!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vegan Borscht

The snow is coming down, unrelenting, and ignores the fact that Phil, the groundhog, predicted today that spring is around the corner. With dinner tonight I went to Russia, another place drowning in snow this time of the year... A bag of frozen beets from the summer's surplus was the inspiration for this soup.

Vegan Borscht (makes 3-4 servings):
2 medium sized beets, washed, scrubbed, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled, and cut into 1 inch dice
1/2 TB grapeseed oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 stalk celery, washed, small dice
1 cup of vegetable broth
1/2 can of fireroasted, crushed tomatoes
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 TB white sugar
1 bay leaf

Optionally:  sour creme or greek yogurt for serving
In a pot, heat the oil, and saute the onion and garlic for 2 min. Add the carrot and celery and saute for another 2 min. Add the sweet potato and beets as well as the vegetable broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer, and then simmer on medium for about 20 min until the beets and potato are tender.