Sunday, October 19, 2014

Harvest Pumpkin Date Bars - Gluten Free and Vegan

Harvest Pumpkin Date Bars - Gluten Free and Vegan

Oat Crumble Crust

3/4 C Coconut Oil
1 C Coconut Sugar
1/4 t Molasses
1 C Bob's Red Mill GF Flour
1/2 C Almond Flour
1/4 t Xanthan Gum
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 C GF Rolled Oats
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Sea Salt

Pumpkin Date Filling

1 13 oz Package of Date Paste *
1/4 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/3 C Canned Pumpkin Puree
3 T Unsweetened Apple or Cherry Juice

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper.
Start by making the filling so that it may cool and be easier to handle when building your bars.
Place the date paste and apple sauce in a small saucepan on low heat and combine using a fork.
Next add the pumpkin puree and combine, again I have found a fork works best for this.
Now, add the juice and really stir it up until mixture is warmed through an about the consistency of thick frosting. remove from heat and let cool.

Next make the crust. Start by combining the oil, sugar, molasses and vanilla using a hand mixer on low speed in a medium mixing bowl. It takes a few minutes for the coconut oil to warm up. Be patient and mix until slightly fluffy in texture. In a small bowl combine GF flour, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt. stir mixture well and then add to the oil/sugar mixture and mix on low speed for a minute or two until well incorporated. Next, using a large spoon, stir in the oats.

Okay, it's time to assemble the bars. Press half the oat mixture in to the parchment lined baking pan. I used the bottom of a metal measuring cup - it's tricky and sticky! Now place tablespoons of the filling on top of the oat mixture in the pan. Use a butter knife and carefully spread evenly over the bottom crust mixture. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top and again carefully press down - I used the bottom of the metal measuring cup again.

Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and then carefully lift the whole solid slab out by holding the edges of the parchment paper. Lay this whole thing - parchment and all on a cutting board. Cut into squares and let cool 10-20 more minutes before serving. These store well if you put parchment under and between layers of bars. I did not cover them for storage - but things don't last long around here.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Aged Vegan Cashew Cheese

Cheese. Delicious. Creamy. Cheese-y. Cruelty-free. Dairy-free. Dreamy cheese.

Honestly, this stuff is delicious. 
I recently served some at some holiday gatherings and folks thought it was dairy cheese.
Some folks thought it was goat cheese and some thought it was brie. 
Everyone thought it was yummy.
1 1/2 C raw cashews
1 1/4 C cold water
2 heaping tablespoons non-dairy yogurt with active culture- home
1/8 - 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice (from active probiotic sauerkraut - not the stuff in the can)
1/3 C coconut oil
1/8 C nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
teeny tiny pinch of garlic powder
2 teaspoons agar powder (not flakes)

Start by soaking 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews overnight in 1 1/2 cups of cold water and 1/2 tsp. salt.

In the morning the cashews will be swollen to about twice their original size.
Discard the soaking water.
Put the drained cashews, 2 T soy yogurt*
*you can use this:

1/3 Cup coconut oil (use refined if you don't want your cheese to taste like coconut)

1/8 Cup Nooch (nutritional yeast -loaded with B vitamins including B12!)

Blend it all up until very smooth - 5 minutes or so.

Here's something cool! This is a Chinese pickling jar.
The top fits into a ring on the top of the jar that is a reservoir. 
This lid keeps bad bacteria out while allowing the contents to breathe a bit.
As gases form during fermentation, the lids burps occasionally.

Pour your blended cashew mixture into a jar.
If you don't have one of these fancy schmancy jars, just use a regular big jar and cover the top
with a cotton cloth - like a clean handkerchief or cloth napkin or clean old cotton t-shirt
and hold it in place with a rubber band around the rim.
This will keep bad stuff out but let fermentation occur without exploding the jar.

Here's a close up of that reservior I mentioned above.
I'm like a regular show-off.

Ok so - here's the story, if you want something mild and buttery, let this ferment for 24-36 hours 
depending on how warm your house is etc. 
Taste test your mixture after 24 hours. If you like it you're done with fermentation.
If, on the other hand you want something sharper, more along the lines of sharp cheddar or blue,
then allow your mixture to keep fermenting. 
I just made a batch of sharp - something akin to a sharp white cheddar,
I let that ferment for 48 hours.

When fermentation is done, find a couple of ramekins or small dishes you can use to mold your cheese.

Line  them with cheesecloth

You can add some nice looking herbs or edible flower petals or fruit , if you like.
This photo below shows some crushed pink peppercorns.

As your cashew mixture ferments, little bubbles will form on the top.
You may also see some liquid accumulate at the bottom.

Dump the whole mess into a saucepan and heat on medium low.

Lightly sprinkle the agar powder over top - whisking vigorously after each 1/2 teaspoon.

Whisk. Whisk, Whisk.

Pretty soon the mixture will thicken.
Keep whisking another minute.
Then turn remove from the heat.

Pour into your prepared, cheesecloth lined containers

Smooth the surface gently - don't press too hard!

Lightly cover by folding over the cheesecloth and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Remove your cheese from the mold and unwrap the cheesecloth.
Wet your hands just slightly and sprinkle them with salt.
Rub the salt on the surface of the cheese and put the unwrapped cheese back in the refrigerator
for at least a few hours and up to 2 days.
By letting the cheese rest it dries on the outside creating sort of a rind.
Now - you can serve the cheese fresh and/or you can let it age.
I do both.
I make a small round for eating fresh and I let the larger round age unwrapped for 2 days
then I wrap it in parchment and let it age for as long as I can stand it.
Usually I can make it a week without eating a bit, but it can keep aging after you have some.
I have made it 3 weeks.
After that it is uncharted territory and you are on your own.

I'm telling you, it's beautiful stuff.
This is a wheel that was aged about 2 weeks.
Make cheese. You can do it!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Greek Style Soy Milk Yogurt

 Smooth and creamy, Greek style soy milk yogurt.

Start by making a batch of  Delicious, Creamy, Soy Milk Yogurt

Pour the yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth
with some sort of container under it to catch the liquid that will drain off.
I used a large measuring cup.

Put a plate on top and place in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.
(If you leave it for a few hours, you will have an incredibly delicious cream cheese type spread.)

Spoon into jars - again save some for inoculating your next batch of yogurt.
Look in that smaller jar - you can see how wonderfully creamy this stuff is.
If you want it even creamier - run it through a fine mesh strainer to remove even the smallest lumps!

My favorite breakfast is a wee bit of this yogurt with a teaspoon of maple syrup on top.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Delicious, Creamy Soy Milk Yogurt

(Easy to make and without a yogurt machine)

Supplies: Insulated cooler (the kind you fill with beer and take to the beach)
                   Several clean glass jars and lids (I am a recycled jar hoarder)
                    Large stainless steel kettle
                    Whisk (I am sure you can improvise if you don't have one)
Ingredients: 1 half gallon of non-dairy milk - I use soy because it is the 
                         easiest 2 ingredient milk to find.
                         Some non-dairy yogurt and kombucha (it's fermented drink)
                          (If you have made this before use 1 cup leftover yogurt and no kombucha.)

Okay - let's make some yogurt!

                Start by making sure EVERYTHING you use is clean. Really clean. Configure your cooler by
                placing 2 quart jars (with lids) near the middle and arranging the other jars around them so they are   
                close, but not touching. Leave room for one more 2 pint jar.

Take out the 2 quart sized jars and lids - sanitize them with boiling water.
Fill the remaining open jars about half way with boiling water.
Put the lid on the cooler. What you have just done is created a cozy warm
incubator type environment in which your yogurt culture can grow and 
magically turn some crappy soy milk into delicious yogurt. Oooooo!

This is actually really good soy milk. I use either Rosewood or Panda soy products.
I live in SE Michigan and Rosewood is made in Ann Arbor, Panda is made in Royal Oak.
Both are made with only soybeans and water. No fillers, binders or preservatives.
Simple 2 ingredient soy milk makes the best yogurt. 
I intend to try making almond, cashew and coconut milk yogurt, so stay tuned.

Warm the soy milk on low just until it is slightly warmer than room temperature.
If you make bread - this is the same temperature for starting yeast.
It is about the same temperature for warming a baby bottle.
You want it just slightly warm to the touch.
Too hot and you will kill the good bacteria that is essential for making yogurt.

While your soy milk is warming, let's talk about inoculation.
If this is your first time making soy milk yogurt - the challenge is finding
dairy free starter. Nancy's Soy yogurt, if you can find it, is the best.
Just read the ingredients - if you see L.Acidophilus or  Lactobacillus acidophilus
the yogurt contains trace amounts of dairy. It's your call. 
You can also buy vegan yogurt starter online. 
For now, get a couple of small containers of dairy free soy or almond yogurt and a small bottle of kombucha.
From this point forward save a pint or two of your yogurt to use as starter for the next batch.
Combine the yogurt with 1/8th cup of kombucha in a lidded jar - shake well.

Turn off the heat when your soy milk has warmed properly and whisk in your
non-dairy yogurt/kombucha mixture.

Pour into your prepared quart jars and your 2 pint jar. Put on the clean lids.

Now they are ready to go in the steamy warm cooler.

Again - make sure the jars of hot water are close, but not touching.
Put the lid on the cooler.
In a couple of hours refresh the boiling water in the jars.
Close the cooler and leave it for 6-8 hours or overnight.
If you like your yogurt super tangy, refresh that hot water and let the yogurt go another 6 hours! 
Save the 2 pint jar of yogurt to use as starter for your next batch.

After 6-12 hours, it will look like this.
carefully drain any water off the top.

Until it looks like this. 
This is good the way it is, but sometimes I like to make Greek style yogurt.

It really depends on the nutritional profile of the soy milk you use,
but 1/2 cup of yogurt with a teaspoon of maple syrup, couple of strawberries
and a sprinkle of hemp seeds is approximately 50 calories and 10 grams of protein.

*A note about different brands of soy milk and your yogurt:
I want to show you photos from 2 different brands of soy milk.
Both are made with only soybeans and water.

The brands of soy milk I used are made locally in SE Michigan 
and I am not sure of their availability outside of Michigan. 
You can generally find good quality soy milk at Asian markets.
(don't get the soy milk flavored with pandan leaves though!)
This is yogurt (above) made with Rosewood brand soy milk
It made a deliciously tangy yogurt, sharp with a sweet soy flavor.

 There was not a huge yield with this brand, but the tangy flavor was great!

This yogurt (above) was made from Panda brand soy milk.
The flavor and consistency are best described as delicate.
It is custard like in consistency and has a slight tangy flavor
with virtually no soy taste.

And only this much water accumulated. 

I guess my point here is: If you make some yogurt and you are not 100% 
satisfied with the results, switch your brand of soy milk and try it again!
Both of these examples have unique and delicious qualities.

If my ultimate goal is to make some nice Labne (greek style soft cheese)
or use as a non-dairy sour cream,
I would probably go with Rosewood.
For everyday use for breakfast etc. I would use Panda.

Now, get outta here and make some yogurt!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dairy-Free and Vegan - Easy Cream of Mushroom Soup

Easy Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 pound of mushrooms (I used small portobellos) - cleaned and sliced
1 bulb of garlic - whole
1 head of cauliflower - cleaned, trimmed and broken in to large florets
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
I tablespoon broth paste ( I used Better than Bouillon)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Toss mushrooms with 1/4 C good olive oil, sprinkle lightly with a large pinch of salt
and place on large cookie sheet.
Oil the bulb of garlic with olive oil and place on a corner of the cookie sheet - cover with an oven proof small bowl or cup.
Place cookie sheet in oven and roast mushrooms and garlic for 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms have darkened and reabsorbed the mushrooms juices. Remove from oven.

While the mushrooms are roasting - place the potatoes in the bottom of a large pot - add water just to cover and then place the cauliflower on top. This way the potatoes boil and the cauliflower steams. Simmer over medium low heat just until the potatoes are tender. Drain, reserving the liquid, and mash the potatoes and cauliflower together and place in a large bowl.

Add 1 heaping tablespoon of broth paste to reserved potato water and mix well. Add more water if needed to equal 4 cups of broth.

Squeeze 4-6 cloves of roasted garlic from the papery skins.Place them in a blender - blend together with roughly 2 cups of the cauliflower/potato mixture, a handful of roasted mushrooms and 1 cup of the broth. Pour back in to the large pot. Continue in the manner until all of the broth, cauliflower and potatoes are used up. Reserve a couple of handfuls of the roasted mushrooms - chop these and toss them into the soup with out blending them.  Add more salt and lots of pepper, to taste. Heat gently over low heat and serve with a salad and some good bread for a hearty, warm and filling meal.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodles with Baked Hot & Sweet Tofu

So, you think you hate tofu.....well, you probably have never had savory baked tofu! Combined with spicy peanut zucchini "noodles" this makes a satisfying and refreshing meal.

Step One: Baked Tofu
Pre-heat oven to 350
Lightly oil a cookie sheet that has sides.
1 Package of Extra Firm Tofu - Drained well

Place the bock of tofu on a cutting board and cut in half.

Now slice into 1" slices and set on a kitchen towel to dry a bit.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by combining the following in a fairly large bowl:
4 T sesame oil
4 T olive oil
4 T tamari or soy sauce
6 T agave syrup
4 T sriracha (hot sauce)
2 T chili garlic paste
2 T finely grated ginger
Mix well and gently add the tofu. Tilt the bowl to coat the tofu well. Let this sit for about 5 minutes and tilt to coat again. Now place the marinated tofu slices on the oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the slices over. (you may need to do this one more time) Bake for a total of 40-60 minutes depending on your personal preference. Longer will be more barbequed flavor and a bit chewier. Removed from oven, cool and store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week.

Step Two: Zucchini Noodles
4 medium large zucchini - washed, dried and ends trimmed, cut in half width wise (the short way, not lengthwise)
There are 3 basic methods for making zucchini pasta;
1) a Spirooli slicer - this specialized spiral slicers make all sizes of zucchini spaghetti. Super great gadget to have once  you're sure  you love zucchini pasta.
2) a mandoline slicer with the strip shredding attachment (looks like a metal comb) - using the plastic gaurd to hold the zucchini in place,simply slide the zucchini back and forth making thin, perfect spaghetti noodles.
3) potato peeler- simply run the peeler down the zucchini and give the zucchini a quarter turn every now and then to create a fresh surface for the peeler to run on.
However you make your noodles - use all 4 zucchini and then place the resulting noodles into a colander, sprinkle very lightly with salt and let the noodles drain while your tofu finishes baking and while you make the peanut dressing. (the zucchini weeps for a bit and can make your noodles dishes runny, if you don't let the juices run off.

Step Three: Spicy Peanut Dressing
6 cloves of garlic (or more to taste) - peeled and pressed through a garlic press
8 T of creamy peanut butter
1T sesame oil
1/4 C olive oil
2 T tamari or soy sauce
4T finely grated ginger
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2T agave syrup
1T chili garlic paste

Combine well and adjust various seasonings to suit your taste - I like mine fairly spicy, so I also add some sriracha sauce.

Step Four: putting it all together!
1 bunch of fresh cilantro - washed, trimmed and chopped fine
optional - 1 bunch of green onions- cleaned, trimmed and sliced into bite sized slices.
Shake noodles in colander to remove any excess moisture. Place noodles, cilantro and green onions (if used) into a large bowl. Toss and drizzle with peanut sauce. Toss gently until well coated. Serve chilled with slices of baked tofu on the side. Enjoy!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Easy "Beefy" Seitan

This is the easiest "beefy" substitute I have come across and it comes to you from The Vegetarian Carnivore, who sadly, has decided to bid her blog adieu. Homemade seitan (pronounced say-tan) is infinitely better tasting than anything  you can purchase ready made and is in fact, quite delicious. You can use this in any recipe that calls for pieces of beef. Thank you Vegetarian Carnivore and I hope you'll reconsider and keep blogging!

Easy Beefy Seitan Yumminess
2 c water
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 T meatless beef broth powder*
1/2 c water
3/4 c vital wheat gluten
2 T meatless beef broth powder
2-3 T steak sauce
couple shakes liquid smoke

Combine the first three ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to the barest simmer. Combine the rest of the ingredients and kneed for a couple minutes. Cut the dough into four pieces and add to liquid. Cover and cook on low heat, turning the seitan occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed (about an hour).
* I did not have meatless beef broth powder so I crushed up a couple of "Better  Than Beef" boullion cubes.