Friday, April 17, 2015

Caramel Corn

I can't eat this tasty treat because of my Crohn's, but I have had rave reviews from friends and family alike. This recipe is pretty much like every other caramel corn recipe out there, except that it uses vegan margarine which is cheap and adds some salt to complement the sweetness. I also like the addition of vanilla extract to round out the flavour a bit more. It does use light corn syrup which some may want to avoid--I am guessing that you can use brown rice syrup instead but I have not tried it. Experiments with adding maple syrup led to a pronounced burnt sugar taste (the kids ate it anyway). This recipe is party sized, so cut it in half if you want to. I like a thin glaze of caramel on the popcorn, so if you like more use only a 3/4 cup of popcorn. If you want to add nuts then reduce the popcorn accordingly.

All my pictures were blurry (argh!). I will take more when I make this again.

- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup vegan margarine (I use Becel)
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
1. Pop your popcorn (I do it in two batches in an air popper) and place in a large roasting dish.
2. Mix together corn syrup, margarine and sugar in a medium/large saucepan. Place on a burner set between medium and med-hi heat. Keep mixing while everything melts, but stop once the mixture begins to bubble.
3. Let bubble until it reaches hard crack stage (between 300 and 310F). If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can let it bubble for 10 mins and it will be close enough.
4. Remove the mixture from the stove. Add the vanilla and mix well (it will splutter a bit).
5. Add the baking soda (it will foam like mad) and mix well.
6. Pour over the popped corn and mix well.
7. Bake, uncovered, for an hour. Mix well every fifteen minutes.
8. Remove from roasting pan and spread out on a piece of parchment paper to cool. Break up an large clumps. Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

This soup has Thai inspired undertones that let the roasted squash still be the star of the dish. You can make it as hot as you want with the Sriracha, and you can always add more lemongrass and ginger if you want those flavours to come through more.

- 2.5 lbs butternut squash
- 3 dried New Mexico chiles, seeded and cut into pieces
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 can light coconut milk
- Sriracha to taste
- salt to taste

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice (each) squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush flesh with oil and place flesh-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 30 mins, or until soft. Set aside to cool. Scoop squash out of the skins.
2. Pour boiling water over the chiles and let sit for at least 20 mins.
3. If you have one, use a mortar and pestle to pound the lemongrass and ginger into a pulp.
4. Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Dry roast coriander seeds until fragrant.
5. Add oil, onion, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger to the pot. Saute for 5-7 mins, until softened but not browned.
6. Add chiles and soaking water to the pot and cook for 5 mins, stirring regularly.
7. Add squash, stock, and sugar to the pot. Mix well.
8. Transfer to a blender in batches and blend until very smooth.
9. Transfer back to the pot on med-lo heat. Add coconut milk. Season to taste, and add Sriracha to taste. Heat to steaming and serve.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mexican Bread Pudding with Spiced Syrup

This recipe is a mash-up of Isa's bread pudding from Isa Does It and a recipe from the very first vegetarian cookbook I ever bought, Simple Vegetarian Recipes. I used the all white flour version of my Everyday Bread because it has a nice open crumb structure that easily soaks up the liquid. If you are using a denser or leaner bread, give it more time to soak. I think it's worth the time to use the vanilla bean, but your can sub in 2 tsp vanilla extract and forget heating it on the stove. The agar is probably not needed--I was just panicking that I was adding too much liquid. As written, the end result is a moist and custardy pudding that pairs nicely with the anise notes from the syrup. The almonds provide some texture to make for a perfect dessert.

Bread Pudding
- 7 cups cubed stale bread
- 1 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp agar (probably optional)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice

Spiced Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves

Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 baking pan.
1. Put bread in a large bowl. Add raisins and almonds and toss to mix.
2. Scrape vanilla bean and whisk into the almond milk in a sauce pan. Whisk in turmeric. Add the bean pod and bring to bubbling over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove bean pod.
3. Whisk in coconut milk, then whisk in cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in agar.
4. Whisk in the sugar and spices. Pour mixture over the bread and gently turn to coat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has soaked up as much liquid as it can. Gently mix the bread halfway through if necessary. Transfer to prepared pan and distribute evenly.
5. Bake for 35 mins, or until golden and the liquid has set.

Spiced Syrup
1. While the pudding is baking, add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to bubbling over medium heat and let bubble away for 10 mins. Remove from heat. Remove spices just before drizzling over the served pieces. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Creamy Chickpeas and Biscuits

This is pure comfort food inspired by a frosty walk home one day. The creaminess of the coconut milk compliments the earthiness of the chickpeas and the sweetness of the roasted pepper. And all of that on top of a tender biscuit. The biscuits are a Reinhart-esque riff on The New Basics Cookbook recipe. The key here is to make sure all of the sides of your biscuit are cleanly cut--you can accomplish this with a good biscuit cutter, or by using a pastry cutter as I have suggested below. Cleanly cut sides allow the laminated dough to rise nice and high.

Creamy Chickpeas
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 medium (yellow) potato, diced
- 1 spring fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3.5 cups warm vegetable stock (more as needed)
- 1 can chickpeas (or white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
- 2 roasted red or orange pepper, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup corn
- 3/4 cup peas
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and celery for 5-7 mins, or until golden. Add garlic and saute for 1 min more.
2. Add carrot, potato, herbs, and a big pinch of salt and saute for 3-5 mins, until fragrant and sizzling. Add flour and mix well to coat. Cook for 1 min then stream in the stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
3. Add chickpeas, roasted peppers, and nutritional yeast and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 mins, uncovered, until veggies are tender. If the sauce reduces too much, add more stock.
4. Add corn and peas and cook for 3 mins, or until done. Remove thyme sprig.
5. Add in as much of the coconut milk as needed to get the consistency you want (I used the whole can).

- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp (2.5 oz) cold vegan butter
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup plain soy milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. Add the vinegar to the bottom of a 3/4 cup measure. Fill half way with soy milk and mix until thick. Fill the cup measure full and add to flour mixture. Bring together into a soft dough with a wooden spoon.
3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll/pat into a rectangle then fold like a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. Repeat again. The dough should have firmed up by now. Roll into a rectangle, trim the outside edges with a pastry cutter, and cut into 6 or 8 pieces.
4. Brush the tops of the biscuits with soy milk and bake for 14 mins.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Butter Tart Squares

Butter tarts are a staple of the Canadian holiday diet but are tricky to veganize. The problem is not replacing the butter, but the egg yolk which helps bind everything together as the tarts bake. I have gone for the butter tart square here because when I made tarts the filling kept rising right out of the shells and making a real mess. You can solve this problem, more or less (see the pic I posted on Facebook), by adding the extra flour indicated in the recipe, but I think this makes for a drier filling. So, the squares look a little messy, but the mess is contained in the pan and you still get that gooey, caramely, butter tart experience with less fat that a regular butter tart.

- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegan butter

- 2 tbsp vegan butter, melted
- 1 oz / 2 tbsp mashed potato (i.e. potato that has been boiled in its skin, cooled, skinned, and mashed)
- 1 oz / 2 tbsp water
- 1 oz / 2 tbsp soy milk
- 1 tbsp ground golden flax seed
- 2 tsp glutinous rice flour
- 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
- 1/4 tsp agar powder
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp flour (+1 tbsp flour, optional)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Mix together sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter, then work it into the flour with your fingers so that there are no chunks left. It will be crumbly.
2. Press the flour mixture into the bottom of a 9x9 pan, making sure it is and even depth and well-pressed into the pan.
3. Bake for 15 mins.

1. Blend together potato, water, and soy milk with an immersion blender in a small cup until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in melted butter. 
2. Whisk in flax seed, then the rice flour until well blended. Whisk in wheat gluten (if using). Whisk in the agar.
3. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until very well blended.
4. Mix together flour (with additional flour, if using) , baking powder, and salt, then mix into the sugar mixture until well blended. Add in raisins and walnuts.
5. Pour onto the baked crust an spread to cover evenly.  Bake for 20 mins. 
6. Let cool and cut into squares.