Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Rolls

I woke up yesterday morning with half my life packed and thought it would be so easy not to cook something new.  But, with my daughter still soundly asleep and a few moments of calm I pulled out Vegan Brunch, flipped it open to the back and came across a recipe for Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Rolls.   Perfect!   Some nice fresh rolls to tear into on a Sunday morning.   What could be more comforting?  The ingredient list is short and I've never made rolls, so it sounded perfect for a challenge this week.  I will be taking the next two weeks off while we move but I can't wait to start cooking in my new kitchen.  Hopefully the quality of my photos will improve with the better lighting there.   

This recipe called for equal amounts of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour but all I had in my pantry was the all purpose so these rolls won't be the healthiest things on the planet.  The dough was extrememly sticky, so sticky that I had to add at least another half cup of flour and much more while I was kneeding it out.  You can see how sticky my hands were here when I tried to pry the dough out of the mixing bowl.  The rolls turned out a little denser then I expected and had lots of poppy seeds but they were tasty.

Sticky, doughy hands

Poppy Seed Rolls before rising

Risen and ready for the oven

The final product

My friend Kathryn over at The Hedgehog in the Kitchen made a simple and delicious sounding Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli this week. I hope she continues her adventures in the kitchen while I am on my wee break. I look forward to seeing what she has been up to when I get back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pineapple Pick Me Up!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I've been feeling a little down lately with all the stress of preparing to move and listening to the caveman who lives below us swearing, ranting and raving all night long.  So to cheer myself up, I decided to infuse the space with the sweet fragrance of pineapple upside down cake.  I've always wanted to make one and happily discovered a simple looking recipe on vegweb.  Unfortunately, I was so anxious to taste the cake it came out of the oven without being tested and when we cut into it, the middle was like mush.  The cake is a basic white cake but the pineapple/brown sugar adds sufficient sweetness and moisture to make this an enjoyable, casual dessert.  

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pineapple juice/water (see below)
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 20 oz can pineapple chunks in unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup UNPACKED brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Pour juice off can of pineapple into 1 cup measuring cup - it should be about 3/4 cup juice. Add water to make 1 cup.  In a separate bowl, combine oil, vinegar and juice.

Dump pineapple chunks into the bottom of a 12 inch spring form pan (you could use an 8x8 or other sized spring form, just adjust cooking time). Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Quickly mix wet ingredients into dry, stirring quickly to combine ingredients well and get out the big lumps. Pour into pan on top of the pineapple/brown sugar mix.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Baking time will depend on pan size.

Let cool and loosen sides of cake from pan. Remove side ring and place serving plate on top. Flip cake over onto serving plate and remove pan bottom.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Asparagus with Peanut-flavoured Tofu Dressing

Japan has been on my mind lately and I was determined to cook something from a library book I have home called The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan.    I woke up early this morning to prepare a simple and intriguing dish called Asparagus and Hijiki with White Vinegar Dressing.  I was SURE I had two packages of dried hijiki in my pantry but when I went to look for them all I could find was wakame seaweed.   Arrgh!   So I frantically pawed through the book for some other way to use the lovely and slender asparagus all steamed and ready to go.  I hit upon a salad recipe with a Peanut-flavoured Tofu Dressing and thought that might do.  And then my next challenge presented itself.  I had no silken tofu for the dressing because the package in my fridge had expired.  Darn, darn and triple darn.  The recipe said that silken tofu was "preferred" but not required so I cut up some regular firm tofu and attempted to blend it together with the remaining ingredients.   I'm telling you this story so if you ever try to make salad dressing with regular tofu you don't, unless there is quite a bit of liquid involved.  Out the window went the specified amounts of lemon juice, vinegar and maple syrup.  It was necessary to splash in at least a few extra tablespoons of various liquids along with uncalled for ingredients before the blender would even function!  

So here is my final product.  Some simple steamed asparagus with a peanut-flavoured tofu dressing.  The dressing was still a little goopy and I'm still on the fence about this particular flavour combination but since I love asparagus it wasn't a bad breakfast.  Better luck next week Lee.  I'm not going to write out the ingredients to this mess unless someone begs me.

My friend Kathryn in California seems to have had more success this week with her offering of sauteed kale.  Go and check it out!    I love, love, love kale so am always happy to find new ways to cook and serve it.  Thanks Kathryn!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creamy Broccoli Dal

Well the fall weather had definitely arrived in Canada.  From a sticky, hot and humid summer we have been plunged quite rapidly into autum.  I love the cool fall weather because it's the perfect time to start experimenting with warm pots of soup and cranking up the oven for baked treats.  Mind you, the hot weather doesn't stop me from baking but it's certainly more enjoyable now.  This week for the cooking challenge I decided to make a soup recipe I've had my eye on for quite a while.  It's called Creamy Broccoli Dal from one of my favourite cookbooks - Vegan YumYum by Lauren Ulm.  It's a delicious combination of finely chopped broccoli and onion with red lentils and Indian spices such as mustard and cumin seeds.  At the end soy milk, turmeric and a bit of lemon juice are added in.  This photo doesn't do it justice but the turmeric gives it a lovely colour.  I ate a bowl of this after eating a plate of spicy noodles and amazingly was still able to appreciate the flavours.  Highly recommended!

Creamy Broccoli Dal

My friends Kathryn and Jeannette have their hands full this week with other projects.  I look forward to seeing what they make for next week's challenge.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rice Noodle and Skinny Carrot Fast Fry

In the middle of making soup for my weekly cooking challenge my tummy started grumbling so I decided to try out the new vegetable and fruit peeler we purchased yesterday at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair.  I can't eat chunky carrots so when I saw a pile of super skinny carrots piled on top of the demonstration table, I couldn't resist buying this simple little peeler.  When I tried my hand at making the carrots tonight I wasn't quite as skilled but I managed.  

Into the pan went a bit of oil, half a sliced onion and after a few minutes my gorgeous skinny carrots.   I mixed a little sugar with some soy sauce, sesame oil and about a tablespoon of Thai spice blend I found up in the cupboard.  Next in went the cooked rice noodles in along with the sauce and after a quick toss it was ready!  Have I mentioned that I adore rice noodles?  They take only a few minutes to cook and are delicious.  I meant to add tofu in with the veggies but forgot so I fried some up on the side in a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce and added it at the end.  A very quick and satisfying supper and now back to the kitchen I go to finish off my soup.

Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Skinny Carrots and Tofu

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Korean Greens

This is one of my favourite ways to eat greens.   I've made it with spinach, kale and today I'm trying swiss chard.  I discovered this simple dish while visiting the family home of my friend Patty.   As I wolfed down these vinegary-sesame greens, I quizzed her dad on how to make them.   He was very amused when I pulled out my little notebook to write down his instructions.   This dish is traditionally made with spinach but I use any greens I have on hand.   I find kale tends to hold up well, especially if you want leftovers for the next day and I was also quite pleased with the chard today. 

Roughly chop and steam a bunch of greens, do not overcook.  Drain or squeeze out excess water.  
Mix the following ingredients and then toss with the greens:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon (or more to taste) sesame seeds

You can adjust the amount of dressing to fit your greens.    Yummy served with steamed rice!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stuffed Mutant Flatbread - A Starch Lovers Dream

Stuffed Mutant Flatbread - Yummy!
I'm so proud and impressed with myself that I can barely contain my excitement!   I was looking through some Indian cookbooks this afternoon looking for a flatbread recipe to accompany the mashed eggplant I had planned on making tonight when I came across an appealing sounding stuffed flatbread.  I've never attempted anything like this but after my success with cinnamon rolls last week, making a bread based recipe didn't seem so daunting.  I knew we had a couple of boiled potatoes in the fridge leftover from breakfast and the idea took root then and there.  I didn't have any whole wheat roti flour so I ended up improvising a recipe based on the ones I had skimmed.  The filling started out faithfully following an actual Indian recipe but quickly veered off into a completely different direction when I decided to dump some sauteed shallots, garlic and tomato into the potato mixture which had been destined for another project.  Oooh, I had a very good feeling about this.   The smell coming out of the pan was awesome and I wasn't wrong.  This is the best thing I've made in a very long time. 

The great thing about this type of recipe is you can basically season the potatoes with anything that hits your fancy.  Or even add other veggies, really the sky's the limit.   The only thing you need to be careful about is adding lumpy ingredients because when you roll the dough out with the filling encased you don't want anything bursting through.   I experienced a few tomato bits squeezing out the edges.  

Stuffed Mutant Flatbread

2 medium cooked potatoes (I used leftovers)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
2 or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
pepper to taste

1 shallot chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tomato finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mash up the potatoes with a fork or your hands and mix in the remaining ingredients including the sauteed veggies.  

2 cups all purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 tsp salt
1 cup water

The dough was very simple, just mix the flour, ground flax seed and salt and mix in the water. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover and leave it until you're ready and then divide it into 8 little balls.

Have some flour handy.  Take each ball, coat it in a little flour, flatten it with your hand and then roll it out into a circle about 3 inches wide.   Add approximately 1/4 cup of the potato mixture, pinch up the dough around the filling and seal it inside the ball.   Gently roll out the ball into a 5 or 6 inch circle.   
Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat.   Add enough vegetable oil until it is lightly coated.   Pan fry the bread for about 1 to 2 minutes until there are gorgeous brown spots on the bottom and then flip it over for about the same amount of time.  I brushed on a tiny bit more oil on top before I flipped it because I didn't want the bread to be too dry.  You can pat the bread a little with a spatula as it's cooking so browns evenly.  It will puff up a little as it cooks.  Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!  I don't know how well they store because we wolfed them down immediately.  My daughter liked the bread more than the filling because of the bits of shallot.   She has a supernatural tongue that can sense any bit of onion-like material and spit it out no matter how small.  

This is supposed to be a circle - Hah.

In the cast iron pan!

Cinnamon Rolls

Last night while I was making my challenge recipe, I had another project going in the kitchen, my first ever cinnamon rolls!   In fact, I've never made any kind of bread and the search for the bread hook attachment that came with my stand mixer was lengthy, dusty and hot (but absolutely worth it in the end!). In total, the process took over four hours from start to finish with a good portion of that being rising time.  I used the recipe from my go-to baking book The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goodreau.  I tried to document with photos what the rolls look like in each step.  And lets just say that when they were finally out of the oven and iced at about 11:00 pm, I couldn't stop eating them.   I managed to stuff down THREE big rolls.  I couldn't stop myself and even though I'm a little on the bloated side this morning, I may just have to indulge myself for breakfast.   Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Rising in the pan before they go into the oven.

Just out of the oven before the icing goes on

I'm in Cinnamon Roll heaven.