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Thursday, May 27, 2010

BIRTHDAY CAKE AND TEA

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Okay, I confess-- it was my birthday yesterday. But I'm being low-key about it this year. I made myself and DH a small, un-iced cake last night (we are having a casual celebration at a friend's house tomorrow, BTW). I wanted to try something different, so I pulled out a book that I have reviewed on this blog earlier-- "Enlightened Chocolate" by Camilla V. Saulsbury.

Camilla's book isn't vegan, but she seems to think like me (or maybe the other way around!) in terms of flavor, when to use whole grains, and how to keep fat and calories to a minimum without sacrificing flavor and texture. Maybe that's why I like her book so much! (I don't read or buy only vegan cookbooks. If a recipe interests me enough, I can usually make it vegan!)

I decided to make her One-Bowl Chocolate-Buttermilk Cake, which is just one layer and needs no icing. She described it as " not too sweet" and with a "delicate crumb texture". It was also made with wholewheat pastry flour and contained only 2 tablespoons of oil-- another bonus. I made a few changes to make it vegan and it lived up to expectations! Tender and moist (you'd never know it was whole wheat!), and really easy to make!  Try it, you'll like it!



Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VERSION OF CAMILLA SAULSBURY'S ONE-BOWL CHOCOLATE-"BUTTERMILK" CAKE
 Servings: 8
Yield: 1/ 9" round cake   

Adapted from a recipe in the book "Enlightened Chocolate" by Camilla V. Saulsbury.
            I made the slices a little bigger than Camilla's.
 
7/8 cup    wholewheat pastry flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)  
1 cup    packed brown sugar  
1/3 cup    fair trade, organic unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch process)   
1 teaspoon    baking powder  
1 teaspoon    baking soda  
1/4 teaspoon    salt  
1/2 cup    soy, hemp or nut milk curdled with 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar  
2 tablespoons    water whisked until frothy with:  
1 tablespoon    Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder  
2 tablespoons    oil (canola or any neutral-tasting one you like)  
1 teaspoon    pure vanilla extract  
1/2 cup    hot, strong brewed coffee or espresso  
1 tablespoon    organic powdered sugar  
  
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the inside of a round 9" cake pan with baking spray containing flour, or spray with oil from a pump sprayer and dust with flour, shaking off all of the excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the curdled nondairy milk, the egg replacer whisked with the water, the oil, and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer or beater. Add the hot coffee and beat just until blended. (The batter will be thin.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (check at 30 minutes-- mine was done then). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert the cake on a wire rack. (NOTE: This cake is very tender, so I placed a piece of baking parchment cut to fit over the cake before inverting it.) Cool completely. Sift the powdered sugar over the top before serving.
  
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 186.7 calories; 11% calories from fat; 2.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 240.4mg sodium; 317.9mg potassium; 41.1g carbohydrates; 2.9g fiber; 28.0g sugar; 38.3g net carbs; 2.9g protein; 3.4 points. 

*******************************************************

About the tea: My stepson's ex-girlfriend S., who is now married and has an adorable 3 year-old son, is still a good friend of all of us, and regards us kindly as sort of surrogate parents/grandparents. She had an impromptu birthday tea for me yesterday (with strawberries and chocolate truffles instead of cake-- yum!) and gave me this lovely Libre Loose Leaf Tea Glass,(along with some lovely teas from the tea shop in Courtenay, BC.-- Peaches & Cream (Ceylon black tea, peach and papaya pieces, jasmine flowers, calendula, sunflower petals, blackberry leaves), and Earl Grey Special (Ceylon black tea, lemon peel, cornflower blossoms, lemon grass, jasmine flowers, oil of bergamot). (She knows I like black tea!)



As they explain on their website: "This tea glass has a health conscious glass interior for fresh taste and a durable polycarbonate exterior for ‘on the go’ durability.

Its removeable stainless steel filter keeps tea leaves out of your mouth and makes cleaning easy. Also is a BPA free experience with a polypropylene filter surround and lid.

This tea glass can be used 2 ways – tea in the tea glass or tea on top of the twist off filter."


They also have a Glass 'n Glass version.

Yiou can see in the following picture that it would be great for flowering teas and that the lid is quite beautiful:


In this photo, you can see the filter basket:


As this review says, "Because it's double walled, it will keep your drink warm or cold for about an hour. But it is build with a filter in it and designed for steeping your tea directly in it. You can either choose to leave your tea leaves in while you drink, or remove them.
'The stainless steel filter in both models keeps the tea leaves away from your mouth and is easy to remove for easy access and easy cleaning when adding or emptying loose leaf tea.'" (PS: From what I can ascertain, the unit is dishwasher-safe but NOT microwave-safe.)

And further on:
"I did notice that the mesh filter was too big for finer teas, like rooibos. But it is great for flowering teas and teas with larger leaves, like green or white tea. I also saw on their site that their working toward building one with a finer filter. If you loose leaf tea is a little too advanced for you, or if you just prefer bag tea, this glass would still be a great option. You can simply put the bag in and easily remove it."

I think I will use this at work because I don't usually get to finish a cup of tea, but this will keep it hot for an hour. (They aren't as elegant, but here is another make of the same type of thing; and another.)

This gift got me thinking that perhaps I should branch out a bit in my tea drinking. DH and I like a good brand of orange pekoe tea with a little soymilk as our primary hot beverage. (He drinks coffee more often than I do, made in a stovetop espresso maker with dark organic fair trade beans. I just have the occasional soy latte or cappuccino.)

So, I am going to explore some different loose teas with my new tea glass. I remember that an old friend of mine mixed some gunpowder tea in with her black tea. It had a smoky quality to it that I liked. Hmmmmmmm.....

Have a nice cuppa!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A DELICIOUS LATIN AMERICAN FRUIT AND OAT "SMOOTHIE"

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Pineapple and Oat breakfast drink

Oddly enough, oatmeal is a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean households, and it is used, most interestingly, in wonderful, cheap, healthful hot and cold beverages. I came across this concept while researching Peruvian breakfast foods for my last post. These cinnamon-flavored oat-and-/milk or oat-and fruit drinks are variously called Avena or Cuaquer (Spanish translation of  "Quaker", for the oats!), Jugo de Avena, Chicha de Avena, Atole de Avena, Colada de Avena, and Avena Caliente, depending on which country of origin. ("Avena" means oatmeal, BTW.)

It is so popular that there is a packaged version (actually several versions) called "Avena", made by Alpina, a South American company.  You can read comments about it here, but I can't find out whether it it has milk in it or not.  If anyone knows, please let me know! (There are also other brands of similar drink mixes.)

Some recipes call simply for oatmeal, a sweetener, milk and/or cream, water, and cinnamon; others contain fruit.  Some are served hot, others cold.  I was intrigued by the idea of a simple drink thickened by grain, so I just had to try it.  I made a cold smoothie-type concoction with canned pineapple, which is what I had in the house.  We love it!  I plan to experiment with other fruits and combinations of fruits (mango, papaya, banana, passion fruit, even North American fruits and berries), as well as the non-fruit version.  Similar drinks are also made with corn or masa flour, barley, and quinoa, so I have lots of experimenting to do.  I'll post future results and recipes as I go!

Do give this a try!  It is refreshing and delicious.  Below is my original recipe, which you can fortify with soy or hemp protein powder, if you wish, and then, below that,  another version made with more nondairy milk, so that it it makes a protein-rich breakfast drink or snack without adding protein powder.

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN PINEAPPLE AVENA (OR CUAQUER)-- LATIN-AMERICAN-STYLE OAT “SMOOTHIE” (Version #1)
Servings: 4

Use soy or hemp milk for a decent protein count. Other nondairy milks are very low in protein.  I have listed the nutrition facts for all of the variations based on the options given in the recipe.

NOTE: You need to make this ahead of time and chill it.

1/2 cup rolled oats (regular or quick)
2 cups water
1 cup soymilk or hemp milk
19 oz can unsweetened pineapple chunks with juice (you could also use about 2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or organic sugar
OPTIONAL:
1 oz. soy protein powder or hemp protein powder

You can cook the oats in the water in a small pot, turning the heat down when it boils and cooking it until it is thick and bubbly. I used the microwave oven-- place the oats and water (or non-dairy milk) in a 2 qt. microwave-save bowl (to avoid boil-overs) and cook on high 2 minutes, then 50% power for 3 minutes. Let it cool a bit.

Scoop the oatmeal into a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until completely smooth. Taste for sweetener. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts (These Nutrition Facts were calculated using 1 cup soymilk and 1 1/2 tablespoons of agave nectar, WITHOUT the optional protein powder.)
Nutrition (per serving): 150.4 calories; 9% calories from fat; 1.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 36.9mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 32.1g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 23.9g sugar; 30.5g net carbs; 3.5g protein; 2.8 points.

NUTRITION FACTS FOR VARIATIONS:

If you use the same amount of sugar instead of agave, they are as follows:
159.7 calories; 8% calories from fat; 1.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 36.9mg sodium; 237.7mg potassium; 34.0g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 25.8g sugar; 32.4g net carbs; 3.5g protein; 3.0 points.

If you use soymilk and agave, and add the optional soy protein powder, they are as follows:
174.3 calories; 9% calories from fat; 1.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 108.1mg sodium; 243.3mg potassium; 32.6g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 23.9g sugar; 30.6g net carbs; 9.2g protein; 3.2 points.

If you use soymilk and agave and add the optional hemp protein powder, they are as follows:
182.0 calories; 14% calories from fat; 3.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 40.4mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 33.3g carbohydrates; 2.5g fiber; 24.1g sugar; 30.7g net carbs; 7.1g protein; 3.4 points.

If you use hemp milk and agave, and NO protein powder, they are are as follows:
160.1 calories; 13% calories from fat; 2.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 28.1mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 32.3g carbohydrates; 1.8g fiber; 24.7g sugar; 30.4g net carbs; 3.4g protein; 3.0 points.

If you use hemp milk and the same amount of sugar instead of agave, and NO protein powder, they are as follows:
169.4 calories; 13% calories from fat; 2.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 28.1mg sodium; 237.7mg potassium; 34.2g carbohydrates; 1.8g fiber; 26.6g sugar; 32.4g net carbs; 3.4g protein; 3.2 points.

If you use hemp milk and agave, and the optional hemp protein powder, they are as follows:
191.8 calories; 18% calories from fat; 3.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 31.7mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 33.5g carbohydrates; 2.8g fiber; 24.9g sugar; 30.7g net carbs; 6.9g protein; 3.6 points.

If you use hemp milk and agave and use hemp protein powder with extra fiber, they are as follows:
190.1 calories; 15% calories from fat; 3.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 30.5mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 35.6g carbohydrates; 5.2g fiber; 24.7g sugar; 30.4g net carbs; 6.0g protein; 3.3 points.




Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S SOY OR HEMP/PINEAPPLE AVENA (OR CUAQUER)-- LATIN AMERICAN OAT SMOOTHIE (Version #2)
Servings: 4

This is a higher-protein version of my original one, without adding protein powder. Soy and hemp milks contain considerably more protein than other non-dairy milks. NOTE: You need to make this ahead of time and chill it.

1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups soymilk or hemp milk
1 cup soymilk or hemp milk
19 oz can unsweetened pineapple chunks with juice (or about 2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or organic sugar

You can cook the oats in the 2 cups soy or hemp milk in a small pot, turning the heat down when it boils and cooking it until it is thick and bubbly. I used the microwave oven-- place the oats and soy or hemp milk in a 2 qt. microwave-save bowl (to avoid boil-overs) and cook on high 2 minutes, then 50% power for 3 minutes. Let it cool a bit.

Scoop the oatmeal into a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until completely smooth. Taste for sweetener. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts (Nutrition Facts were calculated using soymilk and agave nectar.) Nutrition (per serving): 185.9 calories; 15% calories from fat; 3.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 99.5mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 35.1g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 25.4g sugar; 33.5g net carbs; 6.3g protein; 3.7 points.

NUTRITION FACTS FOR VARIATIONS:

If you use agave and hemp milk, they are as follows: 
215.1 calories; 24% calories from fat; 6.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 73.3mg sodium; 237.6mg potassium; 35.8g carbohydrates; 2.3g fiber; 27.7g sugar; 33.4g net carbs; 5.9g protein; 4.3 points..

If you use soymilk and sugar, they are as follows:
195.2 calories; 14% calories from fat; 3.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 99.5mg sodium; 237.7mg potassium; 37.0g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 27.3g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 6.3g protein; 3.9 points

If you use hemp milk and sugar, they are as follows:
224.4 calories; 23% calories from fat; 6.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 73.3mg sodium; 237.7mg potassium; 37.7g carbohydrates; 2.3g fiber; 29.6g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 5.9g protein; 4.5 points.

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"PERUVIAN PENECILLIN", VEGAN-STYLE (PERUVIAN "CHICKEN" SOUP, MY VERSION)

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I meant to blog earlier, but I was tired from my Portland blog-blitz and my poor mom went into hospital this week! She, typically, did not tell me she wasn't feeling well (some people are complainers-- I wish my mom would complain more!), so, when I went to see her, I was shocked at how wheezy and rattly her chest was and how weak she was-- she is generally in very good health. (She still was dressed to go, with her hair up and make-up on, at 92!) Whisked her off to her doctor, who told us to get her to hospital right away. Turns out she had congestive heart failure (water in heart and lung tissues)! So she is still there, but feeling better and not on so much oxygen. My stepson Sean saw her last night and said she had finished the book she was reading and had make-up on-- a good sign!

Anyway, I have been reading about Peruvian food (some of you may know that my father was Peruvian) and also about breakfast in different countries, so this blog is a combination of those two interests. In Peru, depending on where you live, and probably your economic status, a typical breakfast (desayuno) might be a sweet bun, baguette, or some other kind of bread (mostly white) with coffee. (I remember it being cafe con leche, or, basically, a latte, when I was there.) But it could also be fruit, a sandwich, scrambled eggs, cheese, a Peruvian tamale or humita ( a sweet tamale), even beans or stews. Sounds good to me-- I like savory things for breakfast.

(Another interesting snack and breakfast is a fruit and oatmeal drink [taken hot or cold] called Avena or Cuaquer [Spanish translation of "Quaker", for the oats!]. It's popular in Latin America, especially Peru and Ecuador. I'll work on that for another post and I'm anxious to run it by my youngest daughter-- her son is part Ecuadorian as well as part Peruvian.  UPDATE: here's the recipe!)

Another common breakfast item is soup (sopa), and a favorite one is Caldo de Gallina, sometimes called "Peruvian penicillin". (It's also called "levanta muertos", or "wake the dead"!) I'm told that it is a favored cure-all of Peruvian mothers. So, especially since I woke up with a sore throat, I decided to try making a vegan version of this for our Sunday breakfast. I have always enjoyed leftover soup for breakfast.

Traditionally, the vegetables are strained out of the broth (since they cook down to nothing after 3-4 hours of making real chicken broth from scratch), but I left them in the broth, for extra flavor, nutrition, and color. I also decided to mash up the cooked head of garlic and throw it in along with the traditional ginger. (The ginger indicates the influence of the large Chinese population on Peruvian cooking). Ginger and garlic are both good for you and the taste is very mellow.  I think it was a good move.

The soup is often served with hard-boiled eggs, but not always.  I added a scrambled tofu option, instead.

I live on an island, and the only store is closed on Sunday, so I couldn't rush out to find fresh red chiles, limes and cilantro (if they even had them at our little store-- well, maybe the limes), so that's why I used dried chile flakes and dried cilantro, added parsley as a green garnish option, and used lemon wedges.





BRYANNA'S VERSION OF CALDO DE "GALLINA" VEGAN (VEGAN "PERUVIAN PENECILLIN" OR "CHICKEN" SOUP)
Servings: 6
I would advise making this the day before, so you don't have to cook first thing. It makes lots, so you can have it for a few days. It's important that you use a good, rich-tasting vegan "chicken" broth for this recipe, so please read this blog entry on that subject.

Broth:
10 cups good vegetarian chicken-style broth (a rich-tasting broth-- I like to use Vegan No-Chicken Better than Bouillon Broth Paste )
1 large onion, chopped small
4 small inner celery stalks with leaves, left whole
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut in small dice
1 whole head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
1/ 1" piece of fresh ginger (don't peel) sliced in half and smashed with the side of a knife
Later additions:
6 medium (3 oz. each) Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes (optional-- don't use if you serve the soup with fresh chiles)
2 teaspoons dried cilantro (optional-- don't use if you serve the soup with fresh cilantro)
3 cups reconstituted Soy Curls® (3 oz. dry) (OR you can use vegan “chicken strips” or “tenders”, or strips of “chickeny” seitan instead-- see alternates here.)
6 oz egg-free tagliatelle pasta (preferably the kind in little "nests") or fettuccine (takes the place of egg noodles)
salt, if needed, and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Garnishes and Condiments:
4 green onions, chopped
2 limes (or lemons), quartered
2-4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, preferably Italian (if you use this, use the dried cilantro above)
1 fresh red chile, seeded and minced (if you use this, don't use the dried chile flakes above)
OPTIONAL: Scrambled Tofu
12 oz firm tofu, crumbled (not too finely)
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
4 teaspoons soy sauce

In a large pot, place the broth, chopped onion, whole celery stalks, diced carrots, halved garlic head, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

During this time, you can assemble the Garnishes and Condiments, and make the optional Scrambled Tofu, if you are using it (see procedure at end of this recipe). This takes the place of the hard-boiled eggs often served with this soup at breakfast, but it's optional. This is a variation of Julie Hasson's recipe.

Fish the celery stalks, the garlic, and the ginger out of the broth with a slotted spoon. Discard the celery and ginger. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins and mash them on a plate with a fork. Set aside.

Add the potatoes to the broth, and the dried cilantro and chile flakes, if you are using them. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the reconstituted Soy Curls® (or alternate) and the pasta.

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Cook at a lively simmer, covered, until the pasta is tender.  Stir in the reserved mashed garlic.

To serve, arrange the garnishes on the table. Serve the soup in wide bowls, placing 2 halves of a potato in each bowl, about 1/2 cup of the Soy Curls®, and a clump of pasta side-by-side in each bowl. Ladle on some of the broth with the carrots. Let each diner add garnishes and condiments as they like.

To Make the Optional Scrambled Tofu:
Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, When hot, add the crumbled tofu. Stir around in the hot oil until it starts to get golden. Mix the nutritional yeast with the onion powder and garlic granules. Sprinkle it over the tofu and mix around. Add the last 2 teaspoons of olive oil and toss well. Add the soy sauce and stir to distribute evenly. Scrape into a serving bowl.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving WITHOUT Scrambled Tofu): 263.8 calories; 9% calories from fat; 2.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 751.6mg sodium; 676.0mg potassium; 48.2g carbohydrates; 4.8g fiber; 2.8g sugar; 43.4g net carbs; 13.1g protein; 4.7 points.

Nutrition (per serving WITH the Scrambled Tofu): 344.7 calories; 21% calories from fat; 8.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 877.7mg sodium; 849.4mg potassium; 51.0g carbohydrates; 6.4g fiber; 3.3g sugar; 44.6g net carbs; 19.9g protein; 6.8 points.



Salud!