Monday, April 16, 2007

last week's recipes

Cooking is my official procrastination method of choice. Studying for the MCAT has not only increased by ability to score well on the physical sciences questions, but it has also made me a better cook. Or at least a more active one.

Here's what I made:
1 - Seitan
I've been making seitan by simmering it in stock, with the result being a fairly standard seitan - chewy, somewhat puffy, good. I recently found a recipe for baked seitan that is even easier. You end up with something that is not soggy at all and has more texture. The basic recipe is here. I bet this would be a good way to make seitan sausages. Last night I cut it up and sauteed it with some onions, olive oil and soy sauce, topped it with cheddar cheese, and made a fake philly cheese steak sandwich.

2 - Banana Cake
This is fantastic. When it came out of the oven it had a bit of a crunch to it on the bottom due to the sugar caramelizing. That has since disappeared, but the cake is still great. The original recipe is here. I used fat free greek style yogurt instead of the sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar (turbinado) and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose. I also made it easier by dumping all of the wet ingredients into the food processor and adding that to the dry. Simple. Make this. It's really good.

3 - Otsu
Yet another recipe from Super Natural Cooking. I swear I own other cookbooks. Lots. This is the soba noodle salad that I've had in many places and never figured out how to make it at home. Lots of cucumber, green onion, tofu and a really simple dressing. Makes a lot.

Speaking of cookbooks - I picked up Vegan With a Vengeance last week. I've yet to try anything substantial from it - I made french toast and it was fine, not mind blowing. Anyone have any favorite recipes I should try?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Passover ended early this year...

... because I made the sticky teff-kissed spice loaves from Super Natural Cooking. In the spirit of honesty, I've been eating rice, noodles and cereal throughout Passover. I even ate some pretzels (not the soft bread kind - the hard stick kind). Bad, I know. When I was younger I wished that I was a Sephardic Jew because they always seemed to have better food (less reliance on potatoes and oil) and they got to eat beans and rice during Passover. Now I eat beans and rice and tell myself that it's all part of the overall Jewish tradition...

Anyway, back to these beguiling teff loaves. This is the 4th recipe I've made from Heidi Swanson's book. The first was for biscotti and something went wrong because I had to add a lot of extra liquid to the dough. They tasted fine when they were done (thankfully) and I learned that her sweet tooth matches mine, so now I don't have to worry about adjusting the sugar amounts in the recipes. The second recipe I tried was for amaranth biscuits, which I liked a lot. I didn't have regular milk (of the soy or dairy kind) and instead used vanilla flavored almond milk. This lent it kind of an odd taste, so I would not suggest doing that. I'd make those again and make sure I had the right ingredients. I tried to make chocolate chip cookies but that wasn't a good idea - I didn't have enough butter and made substitutions and well... not good. Trashed 'em. So, here we are with recipe #4. It's a winner.

Teff is a flour often used in Ethiopian cooking - you might recognize it as what injera is made of. It is really rich in iron and has a good amount of fiber. It makes up 1/3 of the flour in this recipe, so if you can't find it then just use more whole wheat pastry flour instead. I wound up using 1 cup teff flour, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour because I ran out of pastry flour. I also used only 1/2 cup of butter and substituted 1/2 cup of applesauce for the remaining 1/2 cup of butter. Even though this makes 2 loaves (or 1 loaf and 12 muffins, which is what I did), I couldn't bring myself to use 2 sticks of butter. I left out the grated and peeling ginger (1" piece) because the batter was already incredibly gingery based on smell alone. One more thing - I added about 1 cup of walnut pieces. Here's the recipe:

Sticky Teff-Kissed Spice Loaves (adapted from Super Natural Cooking)
Makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 12 muffins or 24 muffins

2 cups wwpf
1 cup brown teff flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t fine grain sea salt
2 t ground ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
(1/4 t cloves - I left this out)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c water
1/2 c applesauce (unsweetend)
3/4 c blackstrap molasses
3/4 c maple syrup or honey
1 cup natural cane sugar
3 large eggs at room temp
1/2 c (soy) milk
(1 " piece of ginger, peeled and grated - I left this out)
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Combine the butter, water, applesauce, molasses, maple syrup and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir every once and a while and cook until it's all blended. Pour into a bowl and let cool.
2. In the meantime, preheat the oven at 325 and butter and flour either 2 8x4" pans or 1 pan and 12 muffin cups (or use paper liners).
3. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices and whisk to combine.
4. Once the butter mixture is cool, mix in the eggs one at a time.
5. Fold in the flour mixture in 3rds. The batter might be a bit lumpy - that's ok.
6. Add the optional walnuts and stir until combined.
7. Pour into prepared pans/muffin tin(s) and bake for 60 min (loaf), or ~20 min (muffins).***
8. Let the bread cool in the pan, or if you made muffins let them cool a bit and then transfer to cooling rack.

*** my oven is pretty nutty right now, so I'd check on the muffins after 15 min or so