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Replace Eggs with Chia Seed Gel Test I: Brownies

Published on March 26, 2013, by in Adventures.

I have some brownies in the oven.  It’s a pretty basic recipe that I veganized using ground chia seed and water (in a 1:3 ratio).  When sampling the batter, the slight aftertaste seemed reminiscent of pineapple.  I wonder if that’s a chia seed thing or some combination.

I’ve been experimenting with chia seed gel as an egg replacer lately.  The next time I have a brownie fit, I plan to try another egg alternative for purposes of comparison.  I will likely try a combination after that.  All in the name of scientific discovery and chocolate.

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formats

A Tale of Two Free Meals

Published on October 17, 2012, by in Adventures.

Today I was lucky enough to have two free meals.  One was from where I work.  That was lunch.  The other was at the member’s meeting for a local co-op.

Right now, I am temping at a for-profit university.  The administrative offices where I work is in a large building that has it’s own cafeteria.  There was a meeting today that employees were strongly encouraged to attend.   Since I’m not an employee, I didn’t need to go.  But afterwards, some people were all excited about the fact that there were extra meals and told me I should go check it out before it was too late.  I felt like saying that they probably wouldn’t have anything vegan and I brought my lunch anyway, but I like to be a sport and it’s pretty hard for me to pass up free food.  So I went to investigate and the first box I see says “Vegan Roasted Vegetable Wrap”.

I ended up not opening the box, and when I got home, I put it in the fridge and my sweetie and I were off to the members meeting of the co-op where we’re members.  We had RSVPed for dinner and the meal was served in fancy dancy lunch boxes which, we were told, were valued at $27.  We got to take those home.  Inside, they had a container of water, a salad, a container of dressing, a container of a rice salad with beans and squash, and a container of dessert.  The co-op makes pretty decent vegan deli stuff.  I’ve mentioned their house-made coconut soft serve before.  I’d say it was a dinner along the lines of what I might make at home.  Plus, it came in a really snazzy lunchbox set.  I didn’t think to take pictures of the food, but it was a respectable vegan option.

Back to the first free meal of the day.  Camera in hand, I opened it up.  I realize now how accurate the label was.  The roasted vegetable wrap was indeed (most likely) vegan.  The lunch also included chips that contained milk products and a packet of mayonnaise.  I’m going to guess the the cookie was a standard cookie with eggs and whatnot.  Well, they tried.

The wrap looks pretty good, once you get past its funny shade of green.   And there was a cup of fruit that you can see in the corner in the picture above.

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formats

Simple One-Pot Pasta

Published on October 3, 2012, by in New Recipes, Recipes.

I think this simple and tasty recipe qualifies as comfort food.  The liquid from the tomatoes is enough to cook the noodles, so you don’t have to bother cooking it separately. The nutritional yeast gives it a creamy texture and slight cheesy taste.

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 bag whole wheat pasta (I used fettuccine)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Rough chop tomatoes into large pieces and add to food processor.  Process until relatively few large chunks remain.  Add garlic and olive oil to large pan over medium heat.  Saute until golden and fragrant.  Add seasonings, stir to combine.  Add tomatoes from food processor bowl.  Allow to cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce starts to bubble.  Add pasta, set timer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking to bottom of pan.  When pasta is cooked to al dente, turn off burner and add nutritional yeast.  Stir to dissolve nutritional yeast in pasta sauce.

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formats

Vegan Food Swap: September

Published on September 30, 2012, by in Adventures.

 

Wow, every month I have a lot of fun with the vegan food swap.  This month, the first treasure I pulled out of the huge box that I got from Steffi D. of don’t fear the vegan was some VEGG.  I haven’t seen it around here and had almost forgotten about it, but now I will get to try it.  Next, I pulled out a Sin Dawg.  I had never heard of it before, but it was amazing.  Wow.  I highly recommend them.

The white chocolate chips would be very good in some cookies with macadamia nuts.  Not sure if they’ll make it though because I keep mixing a small handful of those with a handful of nuts for a little snack.  Also in the chocolate department is a Theo chocolate bar.  Definitely delicious.  If the Twin Cities has a local chocolatier that makes vegan chocolate, I don’t know about it.

I’m curious about the aardvark hot sauce and I know the primal strip is going to come in handy for an easy snack at some point.

If you’re interested in exchanging packages of delicious goodies with cool vegans from around the country every month, check out Vegan Food Swap. Click the link to find out more and sign up.  You could even try it for just one month if you’re not sure you want to commit to doing it every month.

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formats

Potstickers (Dumplings)

 

First of all, potstickers are one of my favorite things to eat.  Pretty much any kind of dumpling is.  But these are a particularly awesome thing to have on hand because they go from freezer to plate in under 10 minutes if you’ve already filled your freezer with them.

You can make a bunch at once by having a potsticker party on the weekend or whenever you have time.   If you have leftover filling, it also makes great fried rice.  Once you have the dumplings made, they can either be steamed or panfried/steamed.

This version of filling uses hempseeds as the main protein.

Ingredients

2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves (unless they taste like soap to you)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (be sure to get vegan or make your own)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 oz. hempseeds
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shredded cabbage (I used red because it was in season and pretty)

a large package of dumpling wrappers–40-50 or so

cornstarch

Mix all the liquids and seasonings in a large bowl.  Add the hemp seeds.  Now is a good time to grate the carrots and cabbage if you haven’t already.  Add those to the bowl and mix.  Get a small bowl of water to use while folding the dumplings–it helps the edges seal.  You may also want a kitchen towel handy to keep your hands free of filling bits.

You’re now ready to begin folding dumplings.  I intend to post a tutorial video about this later.  Place about a teaspoon of filling on each wrapper.  Add a streak of water all the way around the wrapper.  Hold the dumpling in one hand like a taco and make sure the filling is compacted with your index finger.  Pleat the edges of the wrapper together to seal the dumpling and then press the dumpling down on the table.  Somewhere along the line, I learned that these dumplings are supposed to look like silver ingots.  I’ve also seen dumplings in other shapes that are called silver ingot dumplings so I don’t know if that’s exactly right.  Anyway, line up your silver ingots on a tray that will fit in your freezer and put a light layer of cornstarch on it to prevent them from sticking.  Once you’re done, freeze them on the tray and when they are frozen, you can bag them up.

Preparation: Potsticker Style

This is how to turn your frozen dumplings (jiaozi) into potstickers.  Also known as guotie, yaki gyoza, or mandu.

Heat oil of your choice in wok or shallow pan with a tight-fitting lid.  If you have one with a glass lid, that’s probably going to be your best bet. On my stove, I set it at 6/10.  Once the oil is hot, add the frozen dumplings.  It’s ok to nestle them close together.  Cover with the lid and cook 3 minutes.  Get about 1/3 cup of water ready and quickly open the lid and pour it in.  Immediately close the lid.  Let cook 5-6 minutes or until water is mostly absorbed/evaporated.  Remove lid and let cook and additional 2 minutes, or until all the water is gone.  Remove from pan and serve.  The final two minutes is enough time to whip up some sauce that goes very well with your hot potstickers.  Mix equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar (or to taste).  Season with grated fresh ginger and sriracha to taste.  Dip the dumplings into the sauce.  It can even be used to help cool down hot dumplings so you can eat them sooner.

Preparation: Steam Style

This is how you turn your frozen dumplings into steamed dumplings (zhengjiao).

Use your favorite steaming method to cook the dumplings 10-12 minutes over medium heat.  I have a bamboo steamer that just fits over a large pot.  For this method, begin by bringing about half a pot of water to a boil.  Lightly grease the steamer and fill with dumplings so that they do not touch.  When the water is boiling, replace the lid with the bamboo steamer.  Let steam 10-12 minutes and remove to plate.  Dumplings will be slightly translucent.  They are also good with the sauce mentioned above.

 

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formats

Injera

Photo Credit: Flickr user aaaaavry

If you can make pancakes, I bet you will have decently good results with this recipe.  It goes really well with misr wot.

The recipe comes from the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz.  You can read my review of his newer book, The Art of Fermentation here.

I’m still perfecting my technique, but I think this recipe has a good taste and consistency.  It does require some planning ahead though and you will also need some sourdough starter.  Traditionally, this is made with teff flour.  Where I’m from, that’s expensive and besides, the co-op where I do my grocery hopping doesn’t seem to have it.  If you want to use some teff, I’d suggest using 1 cup teff and 1 cup regular flour.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter
2.5 cups lukewarm water
2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Whisk the sourdough starter, flour and water together in a large bowl.  Let the resulting pancake batter-looking dough ferment in a warm place for up to 24 hours.  I like to ferment dough on top of the fridge.  Just before cooking, add salt and baking soda.  The baking soda makes it not overly sour.  Let sit while preheating your pan at medium high heat.  Pan should be lightly coated with oil before each injera is made.  Spread batter thinly (I like to pick up the pan and swirl slowly so the batter spreads out), cover and cook.  You should see many tiny bubbles.  Since injera is only cooked on one side, the lid helps cook the top side.  Remove injera from pan and begin stacking on plate, covering with a towel to keep warm.  Serve immediately.  Injera can be used as a plate cover and as a utensil for scooping misr wot with your hands.  The injera on the plate tastes pretty good by the end of the meal since it has had a chance to soak up the flavors of the misr wot.

 

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formats

Misr Wot Ethiopian Lentil Stew

Using the berbere you already have on hand, this makes for an easy dinner and great leftovers.  I’ve seen premixed from Frontier (Frontier Organic Berbere Seasoning) and a few other brands, but it really is pretty easy to make yourself if you have all the spices–then it’s completely customizable.  Unfortunately, we were hungry and short on time when we made this and the leftovers disappeared before I got around to taking pictures.  Stay tuned.  The next time I make this, I think I will try doing it in the slow cooker.  This recipe is designed for the berbere as made in the last post.  Since I like to use fresh ginger, I mark on the label on the jar that I need to add ginger.

This can be served (non-traditionally) with rice or quinoa or pasta to keep up with the quick theme) but if you want to take this meal to the next level, I suggest making some injera.

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
1 small nob ginger, grated (about a teaspoon)
1 cup red lentils
2 tbsp. berbere, separated
1 small tomato, cored and chopped
4 cups water
salt, to taste

Saute onions in coconut oil in large pan over medium heat.  After about 10 minutes, when they’re golden brown, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for about a minute.  Add the lentils, tomato and 1 tablespoon of berbere.  Add the water and let simmer about half an hour or until lentils reach desired consistency.  You can cook it for an hour or so if you like it to be practically homogeneous.  Add remaining berbere (and more if you need it) and salt to taste.  Serve immediately, preferably with injera.

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formats

Berbere: Ethiopian Spice Mix

As far as I can tell, this spice mixture is the basis of much of Ethiopian cooking.  Make this ahead of time to have on hand for an easy and satisfying dinner.  Depending on what you have, you can use whole or ground versions of these. If you don’t have fresh ginger (which you will add to the dish when you make it), you can add ½ teaspoon ground ginger to the mix.  Also, if you will have fresh chilies on hand when you make the dish, you can omit the dried.  This whole recipe can of course be adapted to your tastes.  Feel free to experiment.

Ingredients

2 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
¼ cup dried onion powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons paprika (use smoked if you want a smokier flavor)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Grind whole seeds, put in mason jar. Add ground spices, close jar, shake to mix.

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formats

Almond Cookies

This recipe started out as a modification of the sugar cookie recipe in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls circa 1957.  You can make a version that tastes more like the kind you can get at some Chinese American restaurants by coating a glass with granulated sugar and squishing each cookie so it has a sugar coating on top and is flatter.  You can also be fancy and put an almond in the middle before baking.  These are good cookies for with tea–they aren’t overly sweet.  If you double the sugar in the recipe below, they will be more like regular cookies.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon ground flax
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup coconut oil (I use unrefined)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 2 large cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper.
In a cup or small bowl, mix flax and water and let sit.
Blend coconut oil, salt, almond extract, and maple syrup in medium bowl (use a stand mixer if you wish). Add flax mixture.  Add dry ingredients. You can combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl or mix them carefully on top of the wet before mixing them in. Mix well.
Bake in preheated oven in 3 minute increments for about 9 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden around the edges. Every 3 minutes, rotate the cookie sheets or switch the sheets from top to bottom. The trick is to make sure they don’t overbrown. Remove to cooling rack once they’re out of the oven.

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formats

Peanut Butter Cookies

Published on September 5, 2012, by in New Recipes, Recipes.

I don’t know why I had never thought to veganize peanut butter cookies before.  These cookies seem very greasy and quite salty when they’re in dough form, but I think the baked result is pretty tasty.  Depending on the type of coconut oil you use, they may have a slight coconut taste.

 

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter (I used peanut butter that I roasted and ground myself)
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons coconut oil (I used unrefined)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup oat flour (grind your own from steel cut oats)
1 cup whole wheat pastry  flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare 2 large cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Blend wet ingredients in medium bowl (use a stand mixer if you wish).  Add dry ingredients.  You can combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl or mix them carefully on top of the wet before mixing them in.  Mix well.

Drop by tablespoonful (or desired size) onto prepared cookie sheet.  Using a fork, smoosh (technical term) each cooking and make traditional crosshatch design.  Bake in preheated oven in 3 minute increments for about 9 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden around the edges.  Every 3 minutes, rotate the cookie sheets or switch the sheets from top to bottom.  The trick is to make sure they don’t overbrown.  Remove to cooling rack once they’re out of the oven.

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