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Thursday, May 28, 2015

VEGAN AEBELSKIVERS! (DANISH PANCAKE BALLS)

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"Not quite a doughnut and not quite a popover, an ebelskiver ( pronounced "able-skeever") is a light, puffy, filled pancake cooked in a special pan on the stovetop." http://www.sj-r.com/article/20130424/News/304249903  And, i might add, no oven is necessary and noo frying is involved!

Aebelskivers (the more common spelling) are Danish pancakes cooked in a special pan with deep, round cavities so that they emerge as small "puffs", or "balls", which are traditionally filled with applesauce or jam and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. The round shape is achieved by a special method of rotating the cooked dough to the top of the pan (explained in the recipe-- and not as hard as it sounds!).This makes a novel treat for children and adults alike. It would be fun to experiment with all sorts of sweet and savory fillings-- vegan cheese or thick cheesey sauce, for instance, or fruit butters and curds, vegan caramel sauce, vegan chocolate sauce or hazelnut/chocolate spread,etc.

I developed this vegan batter about 10 years ago and somehow it never made it to this blog! I was reminded to post it by an old friend who originally sent me the special pan from California.  I hope you'll give it a try-- if you have children in your life, they will love them!

Note: This vegan batter is thicker than the traditional egg-y aebelskiver batter. I tried thinner batters and they resulted in soggy centers.

Cooking Tip #1: Corn flour is not the same as cornstarch (confusingly, what we call “cornstarch” in North America is referred to as “corn flour” in the UK) — it is very finely-ground yellow cornmeal. You may find it in the Asian or Indian section of large supermarkets, but also look for it in Indian (South Asian) markets and health food stores (Bob's Red Mill brand, widely available in North America, has it).  If you can’t find corn flour, or if you prefer to use organic products, grind the finest yellow cornmeal you can find in a clean coffee/spice mill until it is powdery, or grind yellow cornmeal on the finest setting of your electric grain mill (I had to run it through mine twice).

Cooking Tip #2: To avoid competing tastes and odors, deodorize your coffee or spice mill by grinding several tablespoons of white rice to a powder in your mill and then discarding it. The rice powder will absorb the residue and oils, which contain flavors and odors.

There are several models of aebelskiver pans and they are, surprisingly, not hard to find online!




Printable Copy


BRYANNA’S VEGAN AEBELSKIVERS (DANISH PANCAKE BALLS)
Serves 4

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons plain soy, hemp, coconut milk beverage or homemade nut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons corn flour (see text above)
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
1/2 tablespoon granulated organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Egg Replacer:
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon golden flaxseeds, ground in a dry electric coffee or spice mill (see Cooking Tip #2 above about deodorizing the mill before grinding)
1 teaspoon Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder
Other:
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 tablespoons nondairy milk of choice
Vegan butter or oil for greasing the aebelskiver pan

Mix the soy, hemp or nut milk with the lemon juice to make vegan “buttermilk”, and set aside.

Mix together the Dry Ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk. Set aside.

For the Egg Replacer, mix together the water, ground golden flaxseed, and egg replacer powder with a hand immersion blender or electric egg beater until like a thick, frothy egg white. Add the oil and 2 tablespoons nondairy milk and mix briefly.

Pour the "buttermilk" and the flaxseed mixture, into the dry ingredients and whisk briefly just until no dry flour is visible-- it will be lumpy and quite thick.

Place the aebelskiver pan over medium to medium-low heat. When the pan is hot, brush the depressions (cups) in the pan with melted vegan margarine or spray them generously with oil from a pump sprayer (even if your pan is nonstick!). Fill each cup to slightly below the top with batter.



My pan comes with a small dome lid, which I place on top during the first half of cooking. If your pan did not come with a lid, you can improvise with other lids you have around.

The cooking time will vary with your pan (the size and what it is made of), and your stove, but it may take about 5 minutes per side.

To rotate the aebelskivers: Let one side of the batter cook, covered with the lid, until the bottom is golden brown and crisp, then pierce the crust gently with a bamboo skewer and carefully pull the pancake all the way around so that the golden brown part is on top. Cook, uncovered, until the second half is golden and crisp, then carefully remove the balls from the pan with the skewer and eat hot.

(Photo from Williams-Sonoma)
To make filled aebelskivers, fill each cup of the aebelskiver pan only halfway, using half of the batter. Place one level teaspoon of whatever filling you want into the center of the batter in each cup. Spoon the remaining batter over each cup to cover the jam. (See photo above.) Proceed as directed above.



To serve, sift confectioner’s sugar over the hot aebelskivers (unless they are savory ones). If you did not fill them before baking, split them with the tines of a fork and fill them with jam, applesauce, or sautéed apples.




Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 225.76calories; 25% calories from fat; 6.43g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 315.93mg sodium; 239.44mg potassium; 35.72g carbohydrates; 4.83g fiber; 2.09g sugar; 7.90g protein; MyPoints 5.9 (calculation does not count powdered sugar, jam, etc.)

Enjoy!




Saturday, May 23, 2015

TWO DELECTABLE ASIAN-FUSION FULL-MEAL SALADS,ONE AN OLD FAVORITE & ONE NEW

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This is the time of year that I switch from making soup several times a week to making hearty full-meal salads with whole grains, potatoes, pasta and noodles, or sweet potatoes, with beans or tofu or other vegan protein and lots of vegetables (and sometimes fruit-- fresh or dried-- and nuts).  This ensures that we have something ready-made, nutritious and tasty in the refrigerator at all times for quick meals or snacks.

These recipes are two that we have enjoyed recently-- one an old favorite, and one new, made up to utilize what I had in the freezer and fridge.

NOTE: About Szechuan chili garlic paste in the first recipe-- the best kind contains fermented soybeans, which give added flavor and umami to this condiment. My favorites are Six Fortune Mandarin Jah-Jan Sauce (ingredients: vegetable oil,  bean curd, chili sauce, soybean paste, bamboo shoot and mushroom) or Six Fortune Soybean Paste with Chili Paste (ingredients: Chili, soybean paste,salt, sugar, sesame oil), but there are other brands with similar ingredients.


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 Printable Copy

BRYANNA'S ASIAN-FUSION VEGETABLE-NOODLE SALAD  
Serves 8

This is a very easy, versatile and delicious salad, which I adapted from a recipe in Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" (Broadway Books, NY, 1997) about 15 years ago.  I often make it for potlucks or  family gatherings, and invariably have several requests for the recipe.  I've adapted it even more over the years to use various types of noodles, vegetables and vegan protein.

The noodles:
1 lb. gan mian or ji mian (plain, thin flour and water noodles) or mian xian (extra-thin Amoy-style flour and water noodles), or egg-free chow mein noodles
OR, if you can't find Chinese noodles, spaghettini, vermicelli or cappellini (thin Italian pasta)
1-2 bunches green onions, chopped
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds (and/or 1/2 cup roasted peanuts)
The vegetables:
1 lb. of lightly cooked vegetables-- any of the following or a mixture:
whole green beans  or asparagus, cut into 2" lengths
broccoli flowerettes, thinly sliced
broccolini, broccolette or gai lan, thinly sliced
snap peas (cut in half if they are large)
Protein:
slivers or cubes of any vegan protein you like, such as:
strips of crispy "B of T"
cubes or strips of vegan "ham" or any type of seitan
reconstituted Soy Curls
any sort of marinated, grilled and/or fried tofu or tempeh (see 2nd salad recipe below for a quick grilled tofu that is also good in this salad)
Dressing:
7 T. soy sauce (can be low-salt)
1/4 c. dark sesame oil
3 1/2 T. brown sugar
3 T. balsamic vinegar (or Chinese black vinegar)
3 T. water
1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. salt (this sounds like alot, but it's a BIG salad)
1 tsp. Szechuan chili garlic paste (preferably the type with fermented soybeans in it-- see text above  recipe for more information)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender.  Run cold water over them in a colander.  Drain well. Mix the Dressing ingredients together well and pour over the noodles.  Toss well.  Add the green onions, sesame seeds (and/or peanuts), vegetables, Protein of choice and optional red pepper slices, if using.  Toss well.  Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

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Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S BULGUR SALAD WITH GREEN BEANS, MUSHROOMS AND GRILLED TOFU
Serves 4
This is the new salad-- definitely worth repeating. You could substitute other grains for the bulgur, but I love it's earthy flavor, which melds well with the sautéed mushrooms.

Salad:
1 cup medium (#2) bulgur wheat
1 lb. slim green beans, trimmed  and cut in half
10 large mushrooms (I use creminis), sliced
1 cup sliced green onions
Grilled Tofu:
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce (can be low-salt)
1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
Dressing:
1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oil of choice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed

Bring the bulgur to a boil with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.  Turn down to low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender and the water all absorbed. Set aside to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Plunge the green beans into boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.  Immediately drain and plunge into very cold water to stop the cooking.  Set aside to drain in a colander.

Sauté the sliced mushrooms in a bit of oil until cooked to your liking.  Set aside.

Combine the tofu cubes with the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.  Spread the tofu cubes on a rimmed baking sheet with the marinade ingredients and place about 4 inches below the heat source of your oven's broiler.  Broil for a few minutes, watching carefully, until the cubes start to brown and stir them around to mix with the remaining sauce. Broil a few minutes longer, until browned to your satisfaction. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Whisk or blend together the Dressing ingredients. Fluff the cooked bulgur with a fork and scoop into a large bowl.  Add the drained, cooked green beans, the sautéed mushrooms, tofu cubes and green onions.  Mix well.  Add the Dressing and toss well.  Serve at room temperature.


Enjoy!




Monday, May 11, 2015

CHEDDARY VEGAN ROASTED CORN AND CHIPOTLE CHOWDER

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This was a rather spur-of-the-moment soup, but we really enjoyed it.  I had one Field Roast Chipotle sausage left (we haven't been able to buy them in Canada for a while, so this was the end of my freezer stash) and I felt like making a corn chowder, so I decided to make a spicy one.  Then I thought of adding the jar of homemade Golden Cheesey Sauce to the pot and-- voilà-- a new family favorite has been born!



The Golden Cheesey Sauce is an updated version of the "Golden Sauce" from my very first cookbook, circa 1994.  I've noticed that there are a number of new versions of this potato and carrot-based sauce going around, but it actually originated years ago in Seventh Day Adventist recipe books. I've made it a bit stronger-tasting than my original version.  It's great on steamed veggies, as well as in this soup.


Printable Copy (includes Cheesey Golden Sauce recipe)

BRYANNA'S CHEDDARY ROASTED CORN AND CHIPOTLE CHOWDER
Serves 6

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1 lb yellow potatoes, diced
4 cups vegetarian broth (I like Better Than Bouillon Vegan No-Chicken Broth Paste)
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 Field Roast Chipotle sausage, thinly-sliced (Or use 1 vegan Italian sausage and add a bit more chipotle chile to the soup.)  
1 recipe Bryanna's Golden Cheesey Sauce (See recipe below. Make this before starting the soup.)
1 canned chile chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped
Optional: a few shakes of liquid smoke
Optional: add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes if you want a stronger flavor.
Garnish: smoked paprika
NOTE: For a *really* creamy soup, blend another 6 oz. of tofu (leftover from the Cheesey Sauce recipe) with  a little of the soup until smooth, and stir it in at the end of cooking. 

Combine the chopped onion, garlic and celery.  Sweat the vegetables in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, adding a little water as needed to keep them moving.  If you prefer, you can use a little olive oil.  When they start to soften, cover the pan and let them steam in their own juices until soft. Alternatively, you can microwave them in a covered microwave-proof casserole or dish for about 5 minutes on High, or until soft.

Spread the corn kernels on an oiled cookie sheet and place under your oven's broiler (about 4 inches from the heat source) and broil them until they start to char a little bit.  Remove from the oven.

Combine the cooked vegetables, potato cubes, and roasted corn kernels in a soup pot along with the broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.


Add the sliced sausage, chopped chipotle chile and the Golden Cheesey Sauce, along with any optionals you wish to use (taste first).  Simmer a few minutes longer and serve.

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BRYANNA'S GOLDEN CHEESEY SAUCE (LOWFAT)
Yield: 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup water (or beer for stronger, more "aged" flavor)
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and cubed
1/2 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup medium-firm tofu (or use 1/2 box/6 oz. firm or extra-firm silken tofu)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 Tbs tahini (Optional but recommended)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt (OR 1 tablespoon light miso + 1/2 tsp salt)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp garlic granules
NOTE: For a slightly thinner sauce, cook the vegetables in 3/4 cup liquid.  
Cook the potato, carrot and onion in the water in a covered saucepan until the carrot is tender.

Combine the vegetables and cooking liquid in a blender with the remaining ingredients.


 Blend until very smooth. CAUTION: Uncover the center hole of the blender lid and cover with a folded towel while blending, to prevent hot liquid from exploding!

Use as a vegan cheese sauce on vegetables, etc..

Enjoy!







Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MOIST & TENDER, LOWFAT WHOLE GRAIN VEGAN MAPLE OATMEAL MUFFINS (WITH AQUAFABA EGG REPLACER)

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Aquafaba, in case you somehow haven't heard of it by now, is the viscous broth from canned or cooked chickpeas and it makes an excellent egg substitute in baking.  (It is so-named because the terms "bean juice" and "brine" just didn't sound appetizing to most of the posters on the facebook page mentioned in the next paragraph.) Use about 3 tablespoons per average egg, or 1/4 cup for a large egg (you don't have to whip it for this use-- just use in its liquid form).  This use for aquafaba as an egg replacer in baking was first posted by author/blogger, vegan cook extraordinaire Somer McCowan here. I've used it successfully in cornbread, too.

If you are unfamiliar with aquafaba egg or egg white replacer, see the Facebook page Vegan Meringue- Hits and Misses! 
There are about 8,000 enthusiastic members, eagerly discussing the applications, possibilities and  limitations of this seemingly magic liquid that can be whipped into a meringue. There you will find recipes files for meringues, macaroons, pavlovas, nougat, whipped toppings, etc., a;; made with this miraculous elixir! And you will be amazed!

My humble contribution to the files on that Facebook page is how to make your own aquafaba that is viscous enough to whip up nicely like egg whites, or to use in liquid form as a whole egg substitute in baking, and how to store it in usable portions for recipes.


I have not really explored the meringue much yet, since we are not eating many desserts of late-- I'll wait until the next birthday or holiday to experiment!  However, I made some muffins for company earlier this week and worked from an egg-based recipe to devise a low-fat, whole grain vegan muffin that was not only delicious, but moist and tender. They didn't last very long!


Printable Copy

BRYANNA'S MOIST & TENDER LOWFAT WHOLE GRAIN VEGAN MAPLE OATMEAL MUFFINS (WITH AQUAFABA EGG REPLACER)
Yield: 12

Only 2 tablespoons of oil in this recipe for 12 good-sized muffins!

COOKING TIP: Pastry flour makes a more tender muffin, especially in a recipe like this, using very little fat.  You can use white whole wheat pastry flour, if you like-- it's made from white wheat.  But the color of this muffin is brown due to the maple syrup, so ordinary whole wheat pastry flour is just fine.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat *pastry* flour (see Cooking tip above)
1 cup quick oats
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp (rounded)  ground nutmeg
Wet Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups unsweetened smooth applesauce
2/3 cup maple syrup (preferably Grade B-- it has more maple flavor)
1/4 cup (4 Tbs)  aquafaba (the broth from cooking chickpeas or drained from canned chickpeas-- see text above) NOTE: No need to whip the aquafaba for this type of recipe-- use in liquid form.
2 Tbs oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Additional Ingredients:
2/3 cup raisins, dried cranberries OR dairy-free chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (Optional)
PS:  Feel free to add your own combinations of Additional Ingredients.

1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Oil  a 12-cup muffin pan (or use cake release-- here's my homemade palm oil-free, non-hydrogenated cake release recipe).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the Dry Ingredients.

3. In a deep pitcher or bowl, mix together the Wet Ingredients and whisk by hand or blend with an immersion/stick blender for several minutes, or until bubbly.

4. Pour the Wet Ingredients into the Dry Ingredients and mix together just until the batter is moistened-- do not over-mix.  (A Danish dough whisk is excellent for this job and other batters which should not be stirred too much.)

5. Add any Additional Ingredients you are using and fold gently into the batter.

This batch was made with chocolate chips and walnuts
6. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups (using a gently rounded 1/3 cup measure).  Bake for 20 minutes.

7. Place the muffin pan on a cooling rack and loosen the muffins with a table knife, setting them gently on their sides in the pan to cool.


8. Serve warm.

NOTE: The nutrition facts for this recipe were calculated (with Living Cookbook recipe software) using raisins and walnuts. If you use chocolate chips or dried cranberries instead of raisins, the calories and fat will be a bit higher. If you omit the nuts, you will save almost 50 calories and several grams of fat.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per muffin): 244 calories, 63 calories from fat, 7.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 201.6mg sodium, 344.4mg potassium, 42.8g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 16.5g sugar, 5.2g protein.


Enjoy!



Saturday, April 25, 2015

PURPLE BARLEY & CHICKPEA SALAD; VEGAN RICOTTA, FETA & SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD

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We have a bulk food store in our nearest town now, and they carry an interesting array of whole grains.  One that caught my eye was "Purple Prairie Barley", so I bought a small amount. But I never got around to using it until a few days ago. 



I knew already that barley is a grain very low on the glycemic index, providing slow-acting, longer-lasting energy, and that it's a good source of soluble (viscous) fiber, too.  Purple barley has an added bonus in that it is a variety sometimes called “naked barley,” or hull-less barley, which doesn't need pearling, so it still has the bran and germ intact. In addition, as we know, the colors in foods usually indicate the presence of antioxidants, and that's certainly true of purple barley!

"A press release on 15 August, 2011 by Ohio State University announced that anthocyanins, chemicals that offer red, blue and purple color to foods, are capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells while keeping healthy cells intact... Lead author of the study, Dr. Monica Giusti, commented, “These foods contain many compounds, and we’re just starting to figure out what they are and which ones provide the best health benefits.” Giusti added, “All fruits and vegetables that are rich in anthocyanins have compounds that can slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, whether in experiments in laboratory dishes or inside the body.” ...The bran fraction of purple barley has a significantly higher antioxidant activity than its paler cousins, by as much as six times."
See source links at http://www.bodybio.com/content.aspx?page=Purple-Foods

So this is a really nutritious grain, besides being a lovely color! It also has a nice chewy texture-- it's not mushy or slimey.  I decided to make a hearty full-meal salad with my cup of Purple Prairie Barley, utilizing foods that I had in the refrigerator and pantry already. The result was delicious, nutritious and very colorful!



Printable Copy

BRYANNA'S PURPLE PRAIRIE BARLEY & CHICKPEA SALAD
Servings: 8
This beautiful whole grain, bean and vegetable salad was a real hit and so nutritious!

Cook the barley several hours ahead of making the salad:
1 cup Purple Prairie Barley
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
Other salad ingredients:
2 cups rinsed and drained cooked or canned chickpeas
2 large red peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (more or less)
1 cup chopped celery (with leaves)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or chopped dried apricots)
4 large  or 6 small green onions, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Dressing:
1/2 cup Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs agave nectar or maple syrup
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. To cook the barley, mix the barely, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn down, cover and cook on Low for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the barley is tender, but a bit chewy, and all of the water has been absorbed. Cool at room temperature.

2. While the barley cools, prepare the other salad ingredients and make the Dressing by whisking or shaking all the ingredients together.

3. Combine the cooled barley, other salad ingredients and dressing and refrigerate.  The salad is best when served at room temperature.

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The same day that I made the salad, I needed to use up some of my homemade vegan "ricotta", and I also had some of my "Potted Tofu" in the fridge that was getting quite "ripe"!  (The links to the recipes are in the recipe below.)  I decided to make a spread-- spreads are always handy to have around to use on rye crisp, toast or vegetables for a quick snack.  It turned out very well!


Printable Copy


BRYANNA'S VEGAN "RICOTTA","FETA" & SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD
Serves 12

6 ounces of any kind of vegan "Feta" (such as my "Potted Tofu" or Quick "Feta" Crumble)
2 7/8 cups (1 lb.) unseasoned vegan "Ricotta" (I used my Okara/Cashew Ricotta, but you could use my Tofu/Cashew Ricotta or Almond Ricotta)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon onion granules
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, rinsed under hot water and squeezed
Garnish:
extra-virgin olive oil, Kalamata olives, parsley 

Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the sundried tomatoes in a food processor or high-speed blender and process until smooth.  Add the tomatoes and process briefly-- you want it to have a little texture.  

Scoop the spread into an attractive bowl, smooth it out, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the olives and parsley.

Serve with crackers (we like rye crisp), thin slices of crusty bread, or raw vegetables.


Enjoy!




Thursday, April 16, 2015

MY NEW PALM-OIL-FREE RAINFOREST SHORTENING & NEW LOWER-FAT FLAKY VEGAN PASTRY

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 UPDATE!  Jeannie, another Blogger, wrote and asked me how this shortening would work in a vegan "buttercream" frosting and how it would hold up at room temperature. 


 I didn't want to make a big dessert, since we overindulged at a family event over the last two days, so I made a very small version of my basic vegan "buttercream": 1/2 cup of the Rainforest Shortening, frozen and sliced into tiny cubes; 12 oz. organic powdered sugar, 5 tsp. non-dairy milk or other liquid of choice; 1 tsp. vanilla.  I beat it in an electric mixer until fluffy and left it at room temperature (albeit, not super-warm) for about 5 hours and then spread it on some tiny ginger snaps-- it held up nicely!

 
 After I developed my palm oil-free vegan "Buttah" and worked on it until I was satisfied enough to share it with the wider world (see http://vegan.com/recipes/bryanna-clark-grogan/bryannas-vegan-butter/ and http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.ca/p/introducing-homemade-palm-oil-free.html ), I played around with developing a palm oil-free vegan shortening that would be firm, but higher in monounsaturated fat than polyunsaturated or saturated fat.  But it went by the wayside as I pursued other projects. Shortening doesn't play a large part in my cooking style, so it wasn't terribly important.

But this week I was wondering if I could make a low-fat (or lower-fat) vegan pastry that was more flaky than the oil-based pastry that I've used and enjoyed for years. I decided that I needed to use a solid fat, but I didn't want to resort to anything made with palm oil or hydrogenated fats, or even the darling of the moment, saturated fat-rich coconut oil.  (Why not?  I recommend this article and the information here, here and here.) So I revisited my palm oil-free shortening recipe and quickly had good results.

This shortening has exceeded my expectations. It's easy to make and contains only 3 ingredients. It contains more liquid oil than solid fat, and yet stays solid in the refrigerator. (It will not stay solid at room temperature.  I recommend keeping it frozen until use.). It contains more monounsaturated fat than the saturated or polyunsaturated fats, which is a good thing. (Read this article for information on that and on the confusing reports about fats in the last few months.) And it worked beautifully in my new, flakier low-fat pastry recipe (recipe below), which uses HALF the fat of a traditional pastry recipe.

So, I'm not recommending using this, or any, fat with abandon.  But, for times when you need a solid fat for a particular recipe, this is a product with a much healthier fat profile than palm oil shortening (never mind that palm oil is extremely problematic-- see the information at the end of this page.)

So, without further ado, here are the recipes....

FOR INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS AND EQUIPMENT, AS WELL AS FATS AND THE PALM OIL PROBLEM, SEE THIS PAGE.

The shortening looks yellow due to the color in the lecithin, which emulsifies the two fats.
Printable copy
BRYANNA'S PALM-OIL-FREE RAINFOREST SHORTENING 
(April 14, 2015)  (Store in the freezer)
Servings: 36    Yield: 36 tablespoons/2 ¼ cups  
      
NOTE:  I use deodorized cocoa butter in my homemade palm oil-free vegan “Buttah”, but you can use the less expensive “natural” (UN-deodorized) type of cocoa butter for this recipe, since it contains only a small amount. The cocoa butter you use should NOT be soft at room temperature-- it should be very hard and almost shatter when you cut it.
EQUIPMENT: You will need a small kitchen scale for this recipe-- it is the most accurate way to measure the cocoa butter. 
You will also need an inexpensive candy thermometer; 6 medium-sized silicone cupcake liners, or a silicone ice cube mold that makes 6 or 8 large ice cubes (½ cup each), or 2 silicone molds that will each hold a little over a cup; a deep heat-proof (Pyrex) bowl or measuring vessel that holds at least 4 cups; and an immersion/stick blender.


Freshware Jumbo Cube Silicone ice cup mold with six 1/2-cup cavities
INGREDIENTS:
3.8 oz (108.9g) organic food grade cocoa butter (preferably fair trade), “shaved” or cut into small slices with a knife
1 1/2 cups canola oil (you could use high-oleic safflower or sunflower oil instead, if you like)   
2 tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin (This is necessary to emulsify the oils-- without it the oils will separate.)

INSTRUCTIONS: 
Have ready 6 medium-sized silicone cupcake liners, or a silicone ice cube mold that makes 6 or 8 large ice cubes (½ cup each), or 2 silicone molds that will each hold a little over a cup, placed in 2 small cake pans.

Place the cocoa butter slices or pieces in a deep heat-proof (Pyrex) bowl or measuring vessel that holds at least 4 cups, and either 1.) melt in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or 2.) place the dish in a double boiler and melt over simmering water. Cool it to 90ºF. (You can speed this up by placing the bowl or dish in a large bowl of cold water or by placing it in the refrigerator.)

When the melted cocoa butter is 90ºF, add the oil and lecithin and immediately start blending with the immersion blender. Blend with a slight up and down motion for a couple of minutes, or until well mixed. (The mixture will not be creamy, but liquid and yellow from the lecithin.)

Immediately divide the mixture evenly between your silicone molds. Place right away into the freezer for about an hour. The shortening should be solid and easy to be released from the liners or mold, wrapped in plastic wrap and kept frozen.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per tablespoon): 108 calories, 108 calories from fat, 12.2g total fat, 2.46g saturated fat, 6.31g monounsaturated fat, 2.86g polyunsaturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 0mg potassium, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 0g protein.

For comparison of fat profile: 

Hydrogenated palm oil shortening, per tablespoon: 13g Total Fat, 12g saturated fat, 0.3g Monounsaturated fat, 0.1g Polyunsaturated fat
Coconut oil, per tablespoon: 14g Total Fat , 12g Saturated fat, 0.8g Monounsaturated fat, 0.2g Polyunsaturated fat 
Vegetable Shortening, per tablespoon: 13g Total Fat, 12g Saturated fat, 5g Monounsaturated fat, 3.6 g Polyunsaturated fat 




BRYANNA'S NEW LOWER-FAT FLAKY PASTRY
Makes 1 single pie crust

The plasticity of shortening makes it very easy to rub or cut into flour – resulting in a very flaky, crust.  This tender lower-fat crust is flakier than my oil crust for that reason, but utilizes my non-hydrogenated, palm-and-coconut oil-free homemade shortening for more monounsaturated fat than saturated and polyunsaturated. And I use half as much shortening as the classic Crisco pie crust recipe of the same size.

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
10 tablespoons (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp light granulated organic unbleached sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 tablespoons cold soy yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons cold non-dairy milk
4 tablespoons frozen Rainforest Shortening (recipe above), cut into evenly-sized 1/4-inch cubes 
NOTE: Return the shortening to the freezer  while preparing the other ingredients.
TIP from Betsy DiJulio of The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes: "I freeze my shortening (and "butter") for biscuits, grating it into the fllour, so your hands barely touch it and, hence, don't begin to melt it. Just spray your grater with nonstick spray first for easy clean-up."


In a medium bowl, whisk together the two flours, salt, baking powder and sugar.

In a cup, whisk together the yogurt and nondairy milk and set aside in the refrigerator

Add the cubed shortening to the flour mixture and, using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, cut or rub the shortening shortening into the flour. Occasionally, make sure you reach down into the bottom of the bowl and toss the ingredients to make sure all of the fat is combined with the flour mixture. Continue until the shortening is broken into pieces the size of small peas among smaller particles.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry mixture and quickly mix with a fork until you can press the mixture together into a ball.  If dry particles remain, add a few drops of water-- just enough to moisten.  Flatten the dough a bit, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out. NOTE: Roll out on baking parchment or a silicone mat to avoid using alot of flour.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 142 calories, 7 calories from fat, 7.3g total fat, 1.42g saturated fat, 3.61g monounsaturated fat, 1.71 polyunsaturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 121.1mg sodium, 91.1mg potassium, 17g carbohydrates, 1.7g fiber.

FOR COMPARISON: Nutrition Facts for Classic Crisco Pie Crust
Nutrition (per 1/8 of crust), Calories 190 (Calories from Fat 110), Total Fat 12g (Saturated Fat 3g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Total Carbohydrate 16g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 0g), Protein 2g
(from http://www.crisco.com/recipes/classic-crisco-pie-crust-1242  PS: They didn't have all of the elements that I have in my recipe software.)



Enjoy!




Monday, April 13, 2015

AN OLD FAMILY FAVORITE LENTIL SOUP

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I haven't been blogging for weeks now!  Between the holiday, granddchildren visiting, and getting over a cough that just doesn't want to quit, time has gotten away from me!

Today I made this soup for our lunch.  I've been making it since the 1970's, but have never posted it, for some reason. Took it for granted, I guess. It's a soup version of Francis Moore Lappe's recipe for Lentils, Monastery Style in her ground-breaking book "Diet for a Small Planet", which was very influential in starting me on the road to vegetarianism. I have made a few changes over the years-- this is the latest version and I thought I'd share it with you. This soup was perfect for this chilly April day with some home-baked bread.

Printable Recipe

MY MONASTERY LENTIL SOUP, UPDATED
Servings: 6

This soup makes a good addition to anyone's repertoire of lentil recipes-- simple, yet sophisticated and full of flavor; filling, yet low in calories.  With a food processor to chop the veggies, it's very easy to throw together. PS: The wine is important!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped (use a food processor if you have one)
1 large carrot, grated, or chopped (in food processor with onions, if you're using one)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium vegetarian broth
1 14-ounce can canned diced tomatoes (with juice) OR 1/3 cup good-quality tomato paste
2 cups water
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry sherry (or 1/2 cup non-alcoholic wine such as Riesling)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
soy parmesan to sprinkle on top, or you can use any mild vegan grating cheese that melts (optional)

1. In a large pot sprayed heat the oil over medium high-heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté  until the onions have softened. OR, alternately, you can place the olive oil, chopped onions and carrots in a microwave-safe bowl or casserole and microwave, covered, on High power for about 5 minutes, or until the onions have softened.

2. Combine the vegetables in the soup pot with the marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf, broth, tomatoes (or tomato paste), water, lentils, and salt.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender. Add the wine, parsley, and pepper to taste. Simmer a few more minutes, taste for seasoning and serve with the vegan Parmesan sub or grated vegan cheese, if you like.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 206 calories, 44 calories from fat, 5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 933.7mg sodium, 590.5mg potassium, 30.4g carbohydrates, 11.9g fiber, 7.6g sugar, 10.9g protein.


Enjoy!