Friday, February 23, 2018

English Muffins

I love English muffins but I find making them from a batter to be a real pain. It's hard to get quality muffin rings here, it's not easy to make them a consistent size, and it seems to take forever to make them. So, I reworked a Reinhart recipe by significantly upping the liquid and working the dough more like a ciabatta. The end result is a delicious muffin with some respectable air holes in the dough. Not as many as with a batter, but still pretty good. A stand mixer is essential here to get the gluten to develop properly. You also need a griddle, preferably one big enough to hold 8 muffins at a time so you can whip these off in three batches. 

INGREDIENTS (by weight, except where indicated)
Makes 24. Cut in half if needed. 
- 1 oz apple cider vinegar
- 27 fl oz soy milk at room temperature
- 1 lb 14 oz bread flour
- 22g sugar
- 16g instant yeast
- 16g salt
- 1.5 oz vegetable shortening

1. Mix the vinegar into the soy milk, then add to the rest of the ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Using the batter attachment, mix together until combined. Increase the speed to med-lo/med and keep mixing until the dough collects around the beater (this will take about 5-7 mins). 
3. Switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on med-lo/med speed until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (this will take a few minutes).
4. Transfer to a large, well-oiled bowl. With oiled hands, stretch and fold the dough 2-3 times. Let rest for 5 mins and stretch and fold 2-3 times again. Cover and let rise at room temperature. 
5. While dough is rising, oil enough baking sheets to hold 24 muffins.
6. When dough has doubled in size, shape into 2.5 oz balls. Use oiled hands as necessary, and try not to degas the dough. Place on the prepared sheets.
7. Cover dough with cling wrap. Place a empty cookie sheet on top of the dough. Gently press down to flatten the dough into pucks. Let the dough rise with the sheet on top. If the sheet is too heavy and seems to be flattening the dough, don't use it. Just keep pressing the dough down with your fingers throughout the rise to keep a puck shape. 
8. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and get a griddle heating to around 350 degrees. 
9. Working in batches, cook the muffins on the griddle for about 4 mins per side. These get a great rise on the griddle, so use your fingertips to press and keep them into a puck shape when they first go on the griddle.
10. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

1. Make sure to pinch the balls of dough tightly to seal the dough together. You need the good dough ball integrity (if that makes any sense) to get these to rise correctly.
2. Don't let the dough get too warm or it will get really hard to work with. Room temperature all the way.
3. Don't let the dough overuse when shaped into balls. You want to bake these on the way up, so don't let them double. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sweet Potato Challah

I've been meaning to post this recipe for ages. Sweet potato is my new favourite way to replace eggs in enriched bread dough recipes. It makes the final loaf nice and soft, and adds colour to the dough that     mimics the many egg yolks of non-vegan challah. This is a version of Peter Reinhart's recipe from Artisan Breads Everyday, but I use a blender to incorporate the potato into the liquid ingredients. You can let the dough rise in the fridge, then shape and bake the next day as he calls for, but I usually just do everything in the same day because I don't have the time or the fridge space to follow his method. The recipe produces reliable results every time. Trust me: I make at least two recipes a week so the kids have buns for school lunches.

Makes 2 loaves, or 16 buns
All measurements are weight, not volume
- 17oz warm water
- 2.5 oz oil
- 4 oz cooked sweet potato (see note* way below)
- 3 oz sugar
- 14 g instant yeast
- 19 g salt
- 2 lb 3 oz bread flour
- soy milk for brushing

1. Place water, oil, sweet potato, sugar, yeast, and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Add liquid to flour in a large bowl and bring into a dough. Knead until smooth. 
3. Shape into a ball and let rise, covered, in a large oiled bowl until doubled in size. 
4. From here, YouTube is your friend. Determine how many braids you want in your loaf (the pic above is a 6 braid) and find a video for how to braid it. Remember that the recipe makes two loaves.
5. Place braided loaves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (ideally both loaves on one big sheet). Brush with soy milk.
6. Leave to rise, uncovered, in a warm place until almost doubled in size (about 1 hour). Keep brushing with soy milk every 15 mins or so, to keep the dough from drying out and to build up layers of soy milk (this will give the loaf that glossy finish when baked). 
7. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 350. 
8. Bake for 20 mins, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15-20 mins, until the loaves are evenly browned and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. A convection oven really helps get an evenly browned loaf. 

This is also my go to recipe for buns--it makes 16 buns that I do as a 4x 4 batch bake on a large sheet pan. Brush them with soy milk like the loaves, but bake at 400 for 15-17 mins, rotating the pan half way through. Or, space them apart, slash the tops before baking, and sprinkle with sesame seeds after the last brushing with soy milk (as pictured below).

Or do hot dog/sausage buns. 

*Note: I prick the skin of a sweet potato a few times with a fork, then cook it in the microwave on the potato setting. It's fast and makes for a sweet potato that is not too wet. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Crispy Fried Cauliflower Wingz

This recipe is perfect for your upcoming holiday party! Or tuck it away until the Super Bowl. An indulgence, to be sure, but you deserve it. I've been meaning to work up a recipe like this since the cauliflower "wings" craze hit the interwebs a while ago, but I never got around to it. These are crispy and flavourful, and remain so even when they are no longer hot. The boys doused theirs in Buffalo hot sauce, while the rest of us stuck to a sweet BBQ sauce. Delicious! 

- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

- 2 cups cold water
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked or seasoned salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp poultry spice

- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
- 1 tbsp each: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups plain soy milk (more if needed)

1. The day before: mix together the brine ingredients (I use a blender). Pour into a large freezer bag, then add the cauliflower florets. If your cauliflower is very large, you can make a 1.5 recipe of the brine. 
2. Remove as much air a possible so the brine is making maximum contact with the brine. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, rotating the bag as needed for even brining. 

3. The Day of: drain cauliflower in a colander. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees.
4. While cauliflower is draining, whisk together the dry ingredients for the batter (i.e. flour to white pepper). 
5. Dredge the cauliflower in the flour mixture in batches until coated. Shake off all excess and place on a baking sheet.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar and soy milk. Add enough of the soy mixture to the remaining flour mixture to make a thickish batter. Add more soy milk if needed.
7. Add some pieces of cauliflower to the batter. Turn to coat. Leave the cauliflower in the batter for a few minutes to allow the batter to soak into the dredging flour.
8. Shake off excess batter and transfer to a cooking tray or plate. 
9. Fry in oil, 3-4 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Make sure your oil is not too hot or the outside will burn before the cauliflower is cooked.
10. Drain on paper towels and serve while still hot.

NOTE 1: while one batch is frying, add another to the batter so it can soak. Repeat.
NOTE 2: add more soy milk to the batter, if needed. The dredging flour will thicken the batter a bit, so just thin it down again. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

(Jalapeno) Sauerkraut

I feared fermenting veggies for a long time. What if I give my family food poisoning? How will I know if something is fermented properly? Isn't it all too complicated? But now that I took the plunge, I wish I had done so earlier. This recipe, even though it has 8 steps, is utterly simplicity and produces a tender, tangy, and flavourful kraut. A chopped jalapeño only deepens the flavour without adding too much heat. Add two if you want more zip. I'm not a big fan of veggie dogs, but with a homemade bun and this kraut, I would eat them any day.

- 1 head of cabbage
- 2-3 tbsp coarse salt (like pickling or kosher salt)--more as needed
- 1 chopped jalapeno pepper (including seeds)--optional

1. Remove 2-3 outer leaves from the cabbage.
2. Core cabbage, and slice very thinly (a food processor works wonders here).
3. Woking in batches if necessary, place cabbage (and jalapeño, if using) in a large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt. Start mashing/squeezing the cabbage with your hands, or use a wooden sauerkraut pounder. This will force liquid from the cabbage. The cabbage will start to go translucent, and you should get a good amount of liquid from it. If not, use a little more salt.
4. Transfer the cabbage to a large glass jar. I use a big 56 oz jar. Tamp down the cabbage (here is where the sauerkraut pounder really comes in handy) so that the liquid covers the cabbage.
5. Cover the cabbage with the leaves your removed in step 1. Rip the leaves into small pieces if necessary. Fully cover the cabbage right to the edges of the jar. Use a knife to tuck the edges down a bit so that pieces of cabbage don't float tup during the ferment (see pic above).
6. Tamp the cabbage leaves down so that they are submerged.
7. Place a smaller jar (or something non-reactive) on top of the leaves. It needs to reach the top of the bigger jar.
Place the canning lid on upside down (i.e. rubber seal up), and then tighten on the metal ring. The idea here is to keep the kraut and leaves compressed and submerged throughout the ferment. The upside down lid will allow gas to escape during the ferment.
8. Place somewhere away from sunlight and direct heat (coolish room temp is great). Ferment away! I think 1.5 weeks makes for the perfect kraut. It will bubble and foam--this is what you want to see. Check every few days: remove the lid and take a sniff. It should not smell rotten or unpleasant. To my nose, kraut that has not fermented long enough has a slightly metallic air to it which mellows out after about 10 or 11 days.

Remove the cabbage leaves from the top and enjoy! Refrigerate until used up.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Spanish Style Tofu and Potatoes

This is a simple and tasty dish that is perfect for the end of summer when all your tomatoes are ripe. 

Serves 6 to 8
- 2.5 lbs potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 large Spanish onion, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 pkg tofu, diced
- 6 cups tomato wedges
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Combine all ingredients (except parsley) in a large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer to a large baking dish with sides.
2. Bake for about an hour, stirring regularly after the first twenty minutes, until potatoes are tender. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.