Monday, July 25, 2016

Spanakopita

A big upside of vegan cheesemongering is that it's possible to recreate fabulous cheesy dishes. They taste so much like the original, it's like sorcery! This was my first venture into phyllo dough territory--hence the less-than-perfect presentation. But the dish itself was tasty and filling, and also healthy--full of spinach. It's a hefty project, so set aside some time to play with this.

Phase 1: The Preparing of the Dough

1 package whole wheat phyllo
parchment paper
damp paper towels
3 tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
3 bay leaves

Defrost the phyllo. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work area. Slowly and carefully unroll the phyllo. Place some damp paper towels on the rolled dough leaves.

In a little pan, heat up oil or butter with bay leaves, until aromatic (and, in the butter case, melted.)

Phase 2: The Preparing of the Filling

1 tsp olive oil
1 pound spinach, chopped
1 tbsp herbs de provence
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp oregano
1 large handful chopped green onion - white and green parts
1/2 cup almond feta
4 tbsp flax seeds
10 tbsp water
juice from 1 lemon + some lemon zest

Grind flax seeds and mix with water. Set aside.
In a large pan, heat up olive oil and add herbs de provence, sage, oregano, and green onion. When the herbs are fragrant, add chopped spinach and move it around the pan until it wilts and softens. Turn off the heat.
When the spinach is no longer piping hot, mash feta into flax mixture and add to spinach. Mix well. Add lemon and lemon zest for a last quick mix.

Phase 3: Assembly

With a little rubber brush, oil a 9x13 lasagna pan.
Place the top phyllo leaf in the pan, with its sides draping over the pan. Dip brush in oil/butter and lightly oil the leaf. Place a second leaf on top, also draping over pan. Lightly brush that one as well with oil. Repeat until you have about 6 layers.

Spoon spinach mixture over the leaves and flatten with a spatula. Then, fold the draping corners of the dough over the mixture.

Place a phyllo leaf on top of the mixture, carefully tucking its corners around the mix. Lightly brush its top with oil. Place a second leaf on top, also brushing with oil. Repeat until you have 6-8 layers. End with a light brush of oil.

Phase 4: Bakeage 

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 mins, or until top layers are golden and crumbly.

Zchug Jack

My vegan cheesemongering adventures continue! To the left are two new cheeses I made today: on the far left is a new batch of cheddar and on the right, zchug jack.

Zchug is a Yemenite hot pepper paste used with pretty much everything. It's delicious and makes for a neat substitute for jalapeños in this recipe, but you can do what Miyoko Schinner recommends in The Homemade Vegan Pantry and use fresh or canned jalapeños.

Step 1: Culturing

1 cup cashews
1 cup rejuvelac
1 tsp salt

Place in blender, blendblendblend until smooth. Place in container with jar (I use a plastic yogurt container.) Be sure to leave room at the top, because this thing expands like there's no tomorrow when it cultures.

But happily, there *is* a tomorrow, and when you open the container the next morning, see whether the thing has changed. It will unmistakably morph: air bubbles, yeasty scent, expansion, gooey texture.

Step 2: Cookin'

1/2 cup water
1 tbsp agar
the cheese mix from before
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp tapioca

On low heat, simmer 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp agar in a lidded saucepan. Don't peak for 3-4 mins. Then open lid, and make sure that the agar is bubbling away. When it finishes the bubbling process, scoop in all the gooey cheese mix and whisk well.

At the same time, quickly dissolve 2 tbsp tapioca in 2 tbsp water. Add to mix and whisk.

Mix until the thing becomes stretchy and shiny.

Step 3: Settin'

2 tbsp zchug, jalapeño, or other hot pepper product of your choice

Add zchug to cheese mix and mix well. Then, pour into container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours for the cheese to set.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Melty Cheddar and Mozzarella

I'm super happy to report that the two cheeses I made--the cheddar and the mozzarella--came out delicious. The recipes are both from Miyoko Schinner's The Homemade Vegan Pantry, which is an excellent book to have at home, and which is the source of my almond yogurt and almond feta recipes as well. The cheeses are great on bread (I served them for breakfast to a meat-eating guest and he dug them), and they also respond very well to cooking: we used the cheddar as gnocchi sauce and the mozzarella in little pizzetas.

The process for making these cheeses is almost identical; the only difference is a slight tweak in ingredients.

Step 1: Create Culturing Liquid

For either the cheddar or the mozz, you'll need one cup of culturing liquid. For my feta, I used juice from sauerkraut, which was a nice time saver; this time, I decided to go all DIY and made my own rejuvelac. This is not a bad idea, seeing as it keeps in the fridge for 3-4 weeks, and also as it produces sprouted quinoa, which you can then use to bake this delightful little roll. Follow the instructions in the previous post to produce the sprouted grains and the rejuvelac; strain the grains out to use in the sprouted bread recipe; and measure one cup of the rejuvelac for use in the cheese.

Step 2: Mix and Culture

Blend into a smooth consistency:
1 cup cashews
1 cup rejuvelac/sauerkraut liquid
1 tsp seasalt
nutritional yeast (1 tbsp for mozz, 3 tbsp for cheddar)
light-colored miso (1 tbsp for mozz, 2 tbsp for cheddar)
an optional tbsp of dried onion for the mozz

Pour into a lidded container, place somewhere away from direct sunlight but in room temperature, and wait a day or two.

The mix is ready for the next step when you notice that it's become a bit soufflé-like: puffy, risen, full of air pockets, thicker.

Step 3: Harden

For this you'll need:
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp agar flakes
2 tbsp tapioca starch

Place 1/2 cup water and agar flakes in a lidded pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Keep lid on for about 3-4 minutes. Then, check to see whether the agar has liquified and is bubbling away. It's important to wait a few minutes for this to happen. Once the agar has bubbled away, incorporate your cultured cheese mix into the pot and whisk to perfection. As this cooks a bit, mix the tapioca starch with 2 tbsp water until dissolved and add to the pot. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens some and becomes shiny and stretchy.

Pour cheese into container (I simply rinse the culturing container and use that; Miyoko recommends using glass) and let harden in the fridge for at least four hours before consuming.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sprouted Quinoa Bread

This delightful roll is basically a by-product of making rejuvelac, which is an essential ingredient in cultured cheeses (will post about those soon). Rejuvelac is the leftover liquid from sprouted grains. This roll is a great way to make use of the grains. It's so tasty that it might actually be worthwhile to sprout the grains even if you don't have lofty cheese plans!

Ingredients for one roll (easy to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe):

1/2 cup quinoa
big jug/jar of water
optional: grated coconut, sunflower seeds, nuts, raisins, olives, rosemary, or anything you'd want inside bread

Measure and place quinoa in big jar and fill with water. Using a strainer to help you, change the water three times every 12 hours. When the quinoa grains develop visible tails, fill with clean water, place lid or other cover on jar and leave on counter for about two days.

Carefully strain the liquid (use it for making nut cheese). Place the sprouted quinoa in food processor and process until smooth. If desire, mix with the suggested additions (I did coconut and sunflower seeds and it came out amazing.) Spoon out the quinoa onto a lightly floured baking sheet and form a round little roll, or a loaf, or whatever. Place in oven, bake at 350 degrees (no need to preheat) for 30 mins, then at 325 for about 20 mins more (this phase might be longer if you're making a bigger loaf.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kelp Noodle Salad

Kelp noodles are so nice to work with! I've posted a couple of recipes that include them here and here, but I think this salad is really wonderful. It's a really nice dinner on a hot day--light and zesty.

1 package kelp noodles
1 large carrot
2 large zucchini
1 package collard greens
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp white wine/whiskey
3 tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 tbsp salsa
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 package extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp raw tahini

There are three steps here, and each of them could produce a separate dish.

Collard Greens

Chop coarsely and sauté in olive oil. When soft, add booze and lemon juice and sauté for another couple of minutes.

Baked Tofu

Heat up the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Make the marinade with salsa, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and some water, make cubes out of the tofu, and let them rest in the marinade for half an hour. Then, bake the tofus. Save the marinade.

Assembling the salad

Get kelp noodles out of package and wash with water. Place in big salad bowl. Thinly slice or spiralize carrots and zucchini, and add. Mix tahini with marinade to produce a dressing, pour over noodles and veg and stir well. Add collard greens and tofu cubes and stir again, until just combined. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tofu Halloumi

The success of the feta and my tried-and-true tofu cream "uncheese" made me want to try and recreate another cheese favorite - halloumi, the gummy, salty cheese you can bake or grill to perfection. Turns out someone has already thought about this - the awesome Nada from One Arab Vegan has a great recipe! I made a few modifications to prepare it as follows:

Half a block of extra firm tofu--Hodo Soy extra-firm has the perfect consistency for this dish. It's firm and springy, just like the cheese, and requires very little squeezing.
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp of sea salt (halloumi is a fairly salty cheese, but we found it a bit too salty for our taste, though after grilling it the flavors worked really well)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp dried oregano (Nada's original recipe calls for dried mint, which would've been preferable, but oregano was a tasty substitute)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Press the tofu (though not essential for Hodo Soy). Mix up all other ingredients in a little bowl into a thick, pasty marinade. Slice tofu to 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Layer the slices in a shallow dish and rub the marinade on both sides of each slice. Leave for 20 mins to absorb the flavors.

Nada uses a waffle iron to cook them, but I don't have one. Fortunately, years ago, before I knew anything about cooking, my mom gifted me this amazing grilling pan, and I suspect any pan or griddle will do. Grill the slices for about 5 mins on each side, and you're good to go.

Another idea I had was to do cubes in lieu of slices and put them on mediterranean-style skewers with mushrooms and tomatoes. I'll do that for my next bbq party!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Banana-Peach Cake

Another one of our contributions to the upcoming baroque workshop!

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 mashed banana
3 finely diced ripe peaches
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp flax seeds
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup almond-cashew yogurt (or other vegan yogurt.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grind flax seeds and mix with water in a little cup to create a vegan "egg". Then mix first five ingredients in a bowl. Combine all other ingredients in another bowl, and then add wet ingredients to dry ingredient, mixing until fully combined. Pour mix into bundt pan or loaf-sized pan. Bake for about an hour, or until a fork inserted into the middle comes out dry.

Cantaloupe-Ginger Mini-Cakes

Next week we'll participate in a baroque music workshop, and participants have been invited to contribute homemade baked goods to our "sherry hours" in the afternoon.

Enter cantaloupe-ginger mini-cakes!

I got this recipe from Sangeetha's blog Spicy Treats, with a few small changes.

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup pureed cantaloupe
2 tbsp agave syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp coconut flakes

Heat up oven to 375 degrees and oil a muffin pan. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in the other. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix till combined. Add sunflower seeds and coconut flakes and mix until just combined, fill muffin holes, and bake for about 20 mins or until fork inserted into middle of cakes comes out clean. Wait until the cakes cool to invert and place on drying rack.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Inaugural Pizza: Whole Wheat/Millet Crust

I made my inaugural pizza! It was delicious! I had homemade tomato sauce that I made for the previous day's ravioli, and a fresh batch of Miyoko's Kitchen vegan mozzarella. The crust was improvised (with some changes from Bobby Flay's basic recipe) and rolled very thin, and the toppings are whatever I had left in the fridge before getting the delivery from Albert & Eve today.

The result was great, but I think in future pizzas I'll lay off the salt, either partly or completely, and add a teaspoon of sugar. The salt, I'm told, prevents the yeast from doing their thing to the dough, and it definitely didn't double in size as I had hoped. Part of it might have been the whole grain substitution, but just in case, I'd make a less salty dough.

Crust

2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups millet flour
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons

Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in a bowl and mix with a whisk. Gradually add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and continue mixing--and then kneading--until the dough forms into a nice firm ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it rise, about 1 hour. Divide into two pieces; freeze one for the pizza of the future and let the other one sit for 10 mins.

Sauce

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 small container Pomi or similar tomato product
small handful dry oregano
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat up olive oil in wok and add cloves and onion. Sautee until golden and translucent. Add tomato product and spices, and cook until it reaches desired consistency and taste.

Assembly

Roll dough very thinly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Coat with sauce, then add slices of vegan mozzarella and toppings. This version included Tofurky peppered slices, a fresh asparagus (it'll bake in the oven) and fresh basil. Since we've received our weekly delivery, and it includes curly kale, leeks, and Russet potatoes, as well as Hodo Soy Tofu, the next batch will be even better! Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 15 mins, or until the crust is golden in the edges.