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Sunday, August 29, 2010

SALAD DAYS (AND A TINY, MYSTERIOUS PURPLE FROG)!

Best Blog Tips  Our dinner salad last night-- heavy on the home-grown tomatoes!

Friday evening I came home from work (my "day job"-- managing a small branch of our island library system) and checked our little garden for anything that needed picking. Tomato bonanza!  (And some basil, as you can see.) We love the "Black Cherry" tomatoes that you can see nestled among the red ones!



I found an interesting-looking tiny purple frog sitting under a basil plant!  (Or is it some kind of little toad?  I don't know much about amphibians, I'm afraid!)  We have other tiny frogs that we see often on the deck, but they are bright green.  These pics don't do it justice (it was evening when I took these):




Anyone know what this is?

I also picked a little lettuce and mesclun for my solo dinner salad. (DH was off in Vancouver to see his youngest son's new Celtic band play!)



For lunch yesterday, DH back home, we had vegan BLT sandwiches on Brian's white bread (an occasional treat!), toasted .  The "bacon" part was provided by a generous sprinkling of my Homemade Smoky Veggie Bacon Salt-- recipe on my blog here.  The low-fat (and very tasty!) vegan mayo recipe is here . (There's also a Hemp Milk Vegan Mayonnaise.) Yum!



Last night we simply had salad and Denman Island corn (picked that day) for dinner:



I'm keeping things pretty simple these days, due to The Book!  BTW, if you're looking for tasty low-fat vegan salad dressing recipes, here are some posted on my blog:





Creamy Orange Vinaigrette

Creamy Pear-Based Vinaigrette (Tarragon Version)


Oil-Free Creamy Bean-Based "Caesar" Dressing
 


Low-Fat (or No-Fat) Creamy Pear-Based Vinaigrette
 

















Happy Salad Days!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

ON USING THE WORD "SUBSTITUTE" AS A VERB IN A COOKING CONTEXT

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(Source)

I'm posting this because I've noticed, over the last few years, that many people are confused about how to use the word substitute as a verb, and it causes much confusion when people are discussing substitutions in a cooking context.  For instance (as you will see from the expert opinions below), if you want to replace butter with margarine, you can say one of the following:


"substitute margarine for the butter" (preferred)
OR
"substitute butter with margarine" (seems to be frowned upon by grammar experts)


Better yet (and I have to remember this myself!), for clarity, simply say
"replace the butter with margarine"!

Unfortunately, I often see phrases like this: 
"I substituted the cocoa powder for chocolate milk mix" (this is a real example)
In fact,  the person actually meant (and I could tell this by reading the original recipe): 
"I replaced the cocoa powder with chocolate milk mix"
OR
"I substituted chocolate milk mix for the cocoa powder"

This interests me because I want my recipes to be clear and understandable, and I'm trying to improve my own language in the recipes I write.

Some expert opinions:

1.)
To substitute means to put a person or thing in the place of another; it does not mean to take the place of another.

When A is removed and B is put in its place, B is substituted for A and A is replaced by B. 

Substitute is wrongly used in:
"The Minister said he hoped to substitute coarse grain with homegrown barley"

The Minister ought either to have used the verb replace, or, if he insisted on the verb substitute, to have said
"to substitute home-grown barley for coarse grain" 
**From “Some Points Of Idiom”, The Handling Of Words by Sir Ernest Gower

2.)
 substitute
if in a recipe butter is replaced by margarine, margarine is substituted (is the substitute) for butter. ... To avoid confusion, use replace instead of substitute as a verb.
See quote on Google books. From the book Quite literally: problem words and how to use them  By Wynford Hicks

3.)
For a more scholarly take on this, see also:
An article by Gunnell Tottie “On Substituting with for for with substitute” (pps. 203-207), from the book Contexts-- historical, social, linguistic: studies in celebration of Toril Swan  By Kevin McCafferty, Tove Bull, Kristin Killie, Toril Swan. (I read this is on Google Books, and you can’t quote it or copy and paste it.)


All the best!

Monday, August 23, 2010

5-MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE-- VEGAN, ALMOST NO-FAT, WHOLE GRAIN (IF YOU WANT IT TO BE!), W/ GLUTEN-FREE VARIATION

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Thanks so much, Gail Davis, for posting this on your "Hungry Vegan" blog! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!


UPDATE, Aug. 26, 2010: Well, last night I tried steaming the mugs as an alternative to using a microwave-- it was a flop, I'm afraid!  For one thing, it ended up taking 18 minutes steaming time, which kind of defeats the whole exercise of a 5-minute cake!  But, perhaps more importantly, it didn't rise and get fluffy like the original.  It was, as the British say, "stodge"-- yuck!  Sorry, no solution there. 

I thought about pressure cooking, but it might be more trouble than it's worth, with the getting up to pressure, cooling down, etc.  Anyway, I'm "between" pressure cookers at the moment, so I can't try it.  If anyone does try it, and succeeds, please let us know!

(BTW, for anyone who is wary of microwave ovens, I have compiled some info in a Google doc: Read here.)
***********************************************
My youngest daughter, Justine, gave me a challenge yesterday.  Devise a Weight Watcher-friendly, preferably vegan, 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake.  I vaguely remembered hearing about this cake before, but hadn't looked into it.  So, I set about meeting her challenge.  I looked up various recipes and comments  on the recipes, first of all.  Then I set to work.  I wanted it to be vegan, of course, no-fat (except for a very few chocolate chips), and whole grain, but also nicely chocolate-y and slightly gooey.


We tried 2 of my versions last night-- one was too dry, so we didn't eat it!  I was pretty happy with the other version, though.  I ultimately made it in smaller servings than the original cake-- the larger size was too big for a healthy snack.  To refine the recipe, I made the ultimate sacrifice and had the final version for breakfast this morning! I must say, I'm happy with it!  I hope you like it, too!


You can make it with my high-fiber, gluten-free flour mix, too.


(Worried about using a microwave oven?  Read here.)





Printable Recipe


BRYANNA'S VEGAN, ALMOST NO-FAT, 5-MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE (WHOLE GRAIN IF YOU WANT IT TO BE!) (GLUTEN-FREE VARIATION)
Yield: 1 or 2 servings

Quick, 3 WW points, gooey and satisfying! The ultimate quick chocolate hit (well, maybe second to Drinking Chocolate!). The chocolate chips sink to the bottom and make an “icing” on the bottom that you can scoop up with each bite of cake! (BTW, I tried removing the cake from the mug to a plate, but it doesn’t look very attractive and dirties another dish, so better to eat it right out of the mug!) See Variations below for Gluten-Free version.

FOR 2 SERVINGS (see Variations below for 1 serving)
Wet Mix:  
2 1/2 Tbs    water or strong coffee    
2 Tbs    thick, smooth unsweetened applesauce  
3 1/2 Tbs    packed brown sugar (brown sugar deepens the chocolate taste)
1/2 tsp    lemon juice or cider vinegar  
1/4 tsp    pure vanilla extract  
Dry Mix:  
3 Tbs    whole wheat pastry flour (you can use white pastry flour, if you insist!)
scant 1/4 teaspoon    (more like 1/5 teaspoon!) baking soda  
1 pinch    salt  
Additional:  
1 tablespoon    organic, vegan, semisweet chocolate chips  

Lightly spray two 1-cup mugs (such as cappuccino mugs), or 1-cup ramekins with oil from a pump sprayer.

In a small bowl mix together the Wet Mix ingredients well with a whisk.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together (with a dry whisk) the Dry Mix ingredients.



The ramekins in this picture are the right size to use for microwaving the cakes if you have no suitable mugs, BTW.

Pour the Dry Mix into the Wet Mix and whisk together well. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared mugs. Sprinkle1/2 tablespoon chocolate chips over the batter.




Microwave at High power for 1 minute, 10 seconds. (Note: My microwave is 1200 watts—if yours is less, you may need a few seconds more.)  







Cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes.  Eat right out of the mug or ramekin!


TIPS:
1.) If you have no leftover coffee, you can add 1 /2 teaspoon coffee or espresso powder to the water.
2.) Freeze canned or homemade applesauce in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into zipper-lock bags-- each one is 2 tablespoons!
3.) For oat flour, just whiz rolled oats or quick oats in a DRY blender




VARIATIONS:
FOR GLUTEN-FREE:  For 1 serving: Substitute 2 tablespoons Bryanna’s Gluten-Free High-Fiber Flour Mix for the pastry flour and the oat or barley flour.  For 2 servings: Substitute 1/4 cup Bryanna’s Gluten-Free High-Fiber Flour Mix for the pastry flour and the oat or barley flour.


FOR 1 SERVING:


1 1/4 Tbs  water or strong coffee  
1 Tbs thick, smooth unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 Tbs    packed brown sugar (brown sugar deepens the chocolate taste)
1/4 tsp    lemon juice or cider vinegar  
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract  
Dry Mix:  
1 1/2 Tbs    whole wheat pastry flour (you can use white pastry flour, if you insist!)
1/2 Tbs    barley flour or oat flour
1 Tbs organic unsweetened cocoa powder  
scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda  
1 small pinch  salt  
Additional:  
1/2 tablespoon    organic, vegan, semisweet chocolate chips  
The directions in the main recipe above are for 2 servingsfor 1 serving, you can mix the Wet Mix right in the mug or ramekin that you are going to microwave the cake in! Microwave 1 serving for only 40-50 seconds.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 190.7 calories; 9% calories from fat; 2.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 310.9mg sodium; 239.2mg potassium; 43.2g carbohydrates; 4.1g fiber; 23.4g sugar; 39.1g net carbs; 3.3g protein; 3.2 points.


Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SOME SIMPLE SUMMER MEALS, KITCHEN MISHAPS, AND PERUVIAN LUCUMA ICE CREAM FROM CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

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A summer lunch on the back deck

I can't believe this week has gone by so fast! Sheesh! And here it is Thursday again! We did have a fun few days with DH's stepdaughter from Montreal and her two lovely 12-year-old twin daughters. We had a picnic the beach with some friends and 2 of my granddaughters, the girls having a great time swimming, canoeing, going out on my stepson's motor boat, and getting to know each other. We went to Salt Spring Island for a night, with the "gang" (as DH calls them) to visit more family-- driving in style in a friend's immaculate white 1972 Chevy Caprice. We would have been squished in our little car, with no air conditioning on the hottest weekend of the year, so our friend offered his ride. Very fun, and a big surprise for the Salt Spring relatives when we drove up!

But, along with company, cooking, the ordinary daily running of a house and job, family, and, of course, the Book-- hours of editing-- it's been mostly work and very little serious cooking, I'm afraid!

I did make an interesting recipe yesterday-- Lucuma ice cream (vegan, of course!). Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit and, as many of you may know, my father was Peruvian. I remember lucuma ice cream from my three months in Peru as a six-year-old. Lucuma is a fruit with a quite dry texture, so it isn't eaten as a fruit, per se. Mostly it is used for a delectable, rich ice cream. Lucuma is rather sweet and has a butterscotch-y sort of flavor. When I was in Vancouver last, I found a store with Peruvian foods and bought some frozen lucuma puree-- what a coup, I thought!

Yesterday I worked out a recipe based on my vanilla gelato recipe made with Instant Clearjel, with the help of a (non-vegan) recipe from the internet. After splattering the kitchen with soy cream after a little accident (Mercury is in retrograde-- what can I say?), I made the mix and tasted it-- WAY too sweet!! I couldn't figure it out! My gelato is not as sweet as most, and I had used less sweetener than the non-vegan recipe called for (in relation to the volume of liquid, etc.). So, I got out my (new, under-used) reading glasses and read the small print on the bag of lucuma puree-- sugar! I had been assuming that it was unsweetened, since the label did not say "sweetened" and the recipes I found online all called for unsweetened puree. My mistake!

I tried diluting it with more soymilk-- still overpoweringly sweet! (I now have about 2 quarts of very sweet milky liquid in the fridge that I have to think of some ways to use!  Any ideas?) So, I started over and used no sweetener at all. It still tasted too sweet to me, but I know that when food is frozen, the sweetness is not as apparent, so there was hope. I stuck it in the freezer and hoped for the best, as I was hoping to take it to a family dinner with my sister and my mother on Friday-- they will remember this treat, too!

Last night I looked for unsweetened lucuma puree in Canada online-- no luck. But I did find lucuma powder. It seems that lucuma is all the rage in the raw foods community and is even used as a natural sweetener. I found some at a good price from this Canadian vendor, and ordered 2 lbs for future experiments!

BTW, lucuma is being called a "superfood", but I think this is somewhat of an exaggeration. It's true that it has lots of fiber and beta carotene, but, then, so do carrots! It is high in natural carbohydrates, so it was used by the Incas to provide energy, and evidently the trees are very prolific-- no wonder it was a popular food. Tasting sweet and butterscotch-y didn't hurt! I just feel that we should not go hog wild over exotic foods that are supposed to provide miraculous nutrients, when, in fact, we have foods at home that are just as good, more available, and much cheaper! For me, his is an exotic treat to relive some childhood memories.

Anyway, that said, we tried a bit of the ice cream when I was photographing it and re-packing it, and it is delicious! I will give you the recipe I used with the sweetened puree, but I plan to try it again with the lucuma powder and will report back!

The recipe is at the end of this post. Before that, here is a little photo diary of some of our meals this last week, which I'd promised to report on. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos on Salt Spring, as I had forgotten my camera!

Last Thursday we had a potluck dinner with our guests at my son's house and I brought this Summer Bulgur Wheat Salad with fresh Denman Island Green Beans and our own tomatoes (the recipe is here):



I also brought a Roasted Potato and Sundried Tomato Salad:


and some of my crusty no-knead bread:


A few days later, I used the leftover Summer Bulgur Salad for lunch, topped with some Soy Curls tossed in homemade pesto. We had ir with tortilla chips and homemade salsa and guacamole, and some honeydew melon:


Another lunch was what I call "Fruity Tabouli", on our homegrown lettuce:


Last night we had a brown rice vegan Jambalaya (from my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook") and some of our pattypan squash braised with pesto.

I topped my serving of Jambalaya with some Chinese vegan "shrimp" that I get for an occasional treat from the Asian grocery store in Nanaimo, Man Lee (too "fishy" for DH-- he never liked seafood in pre-vegan days):


Lovely Pesto Pattypan!


Well, I'd better get back to work! Here's the Lucuma ice cream recipe!



Printable Recipe

Update Aug. 2012: See a recipe for Vegan Lucuma Ice Cream using lucuma powder here. And stay tuned for Take 3!

BRYANNA'S VEGAN LUCUMA ICE CREAM (PERUVIAN), TAKE 1 (WITH SWEETENED LUCUMA PUREE)
Servings: 10
Yield: 5 cups

1 1/2 cups soy creamer (plain)
1 1/2 cups nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups lucuma puree (with sugar)
3/4 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained
(if allergic to nuts, use 1/2 cup more nondairy milk, or soy creamer, and 2 tablespoons oil)
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Clearjel® OR 3/8 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum

Place the creamer, milk, and lucuma puree into a blender along with the soaked, drained cashews, and blend until VERY smooth and frothy (make sure that it is not grainy at all).

Mix all of the remaining ingredients, into this mixture and blend again until it is VERY smooth .

Chill the gelato mixture thoroughly, and then freeze according to directions for your ice cream machine. Scoop into a quart plastic container, cover and freeze for several hours (preferably 24 hours) before serving.

(I don’t have any Nutrition Facts yet-- will try to add them later!)

Cooking Tips
A while ago, I started playing with my gelato recipe from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen". I wanted to make it richer-tasting, easier to make, and with more servings. One of the things I did was to use Instant Clearjel® instead of the cooked tapioca flour mixture that I generally use (tapioca thickens the mixture instead of eggs, and it has better mouth feel than cornstarch). This eliminates cooking the starch mixture, which means the whole thing takes less time and it doesn't take so long to chill the gelato mixture before freezing..

INSTANT CLEARJEL®
Instant Clearjel® is a modified corn starch, which simply means that it is precooked, used to thicken recipes. And the vegan ice cream made with it does not crystallize, or get rock-hard. It's creamy, and has no starchy mouth feel.

For clump-free, smooth results: "...it is best when first combined with dry ingredients, before adding liquid. It will begin to swell or thicken as soon as it is added to water, milk or juices; it will impart a smooth, short texture when fully hydrated, reaching its full thickness within 5-10 minutes (without requiring any cooking). Instant Clearjel® can be used in cooking as well. The viscosity will increase slightly upon heating. It has excellent heat and acid resistance and can be used in acid containing foods and in those applications where heating is required. It has good cold temperature storage stability, making it particularly well suited for refrigerated and frozen foods." http://recipes.wikia.com/wiki/Instant_Clearjel®

America's Test Kitchen recommends it for fruit pies, BTW.

It isn't available on store shelves-- here in Canada I had to get 11 lbs. of it from a bakery supply company (Snowcap), but maybe a bakery would sell you a smaller amount (this will last me for life!).

You can now order it in Canada from the Viva Granola online vegan store (Montreal) or Gourmet Warehouse (Vancouver) 

In the US, you can mail-order it from
amazon.com
Barry Farm
and
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/instant-clearjel-8-oz

Keep cool!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WHAT TO MAKE FOR COMPANY?

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Piedmontese Rice salad from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" (Update: the recipe is on this blog here now.)

I was rushed today (as usual these days-- book deadline looming-- that's why not much blogging these recently!) and trying to figure out what to make for my husband's discerning (but omnivore) stepdaughter from Montreal, and her 12 year-old twin girls. I was also trying to figure out what to blog about before everyone gets here and I have no time to blog!

So, here's what I made for dinner tonight (well ahead-- everything but dessert can be eaten at room temperature) and they are due in about half an hour, so I'd better get going! I'll try to blog most of our meals over the week or so that they are here.




Italian Romano Bean salad (also from "Nonna's Italian Kitchen")




Summer squash "a scapici"-- the first picture with our own pattypan squash, and the second with a neighbor's green and yellow zucchini. (Also from "Nonna's".)

"A scapici" is a southern Italian version of the Spanish or Caribbean "escabeche" (cooked fish pickled in a vinegar sauce), or Latin American "seviche" (a method of "cooking" fish with the acid of lime or lemon juice, which is a very typical dish in Peru, where my father was born-- now I make seviche with mushrooms). In Italy, many vegetables are prepared a scapici, including eggplant.


Some versions use vinegar instead of lemon juice, add garlic, use other herbs (such as sage), and fry the vegetables in olive oil. I like this very simple grilled version (I "grill" it under my oven's broiler) made with fresh lemon juice. It's such a simple recipe that you might tend to overlook it, but it is one of my absolute favorites! The eggplant melts in your mouth, and the zucchini is juicy and sweet.

Here's the recipe, which is really mostly a guide:

BRYANNA'S MELANZANE O ZUCCHINI A SCAPICI (GRILLED EGGPLANT OR ZUCCHINI WITH LEMON JUICE AND HERBS)
Serves about 4

1 large eggplant or 2 medium zucchini
salt
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
OPTIONAL: chopped fresh mint or basil

If using eggplant, slice it about1/2" thick. Salt it liberally and leave it to drain for half an hour in a colander. If using zucchini (I usually do some of each), slice it 1/4" thick and don't salt it.

Rinse and pat the eggplant dry. Brush both the eggplant and zucchini with 1 T. of the oil and grill or broil it on bothsides about 3-4" from the heat source, or until slightly browned and soft. (This takes just a few minutes per side.)

Cut the vegetables into thick strips and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle them with the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle with pepper to taste, and salt the zucchini lightly (salt isn't necessary for the eggplant).  Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint or basil.

For a bread, I made Potato Fougasse, which will be in my new book coming out late this year, I think. It's a sort of French focaccia, with an interesting tree-like design, and very yummy! I sneaked in quite a bit of fiber!





Here it's just placed in the oven:



And, for dessert, we're having what I call "Grown-Up Nanaimo Bars", a vegan, less sweet, and more healthful version of a popular BC sweet:




UPDATE: I forgot the roasted beets with olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper and Italian parsley!



And here is the dinner before everyone demolished it! (It was a hit!)



Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Cheers!