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Thursday, November 24, 2011

OUR VEGAN DINNER GROUP'S "THANKSMAS" DINNER LAST SUNDAY

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Our vegan dinner group of 5 couples enjoyed our 2nd annual "Thanksmas" dinner last Sunday. It's a joyful celebration of vegan holiday food on a date halfway between Canadian Thanksgiving and the Christmas/Winter holidays.  Our dinners are sort of  "planned potluck".  The host/hostess sends out an email asking what people want to bring and it usually works out to be a quite balanced meal.  If not, the host/hostess will fill out the menu or put it out there that there is a gap in the menu.  It always works out perfectly.


The female half of the table-- our friend Ellen was unable to attend-- in Sarah's kitchen.

I wrote a post about the Fluffy Vegan No-Knead Hazelnut/Bran Dinner Rolls I made as part of my contribution in my last post (recipe included):


They were a perfect accompaniment to Fireweed's ambrosial Wild Mushroom Soup, which was our first course, and nary a one left over.






The first course could have been a meal in itself, but we soldiered on and filled our plates with: 

Fireweed's delectable Roasted Vegetable and Spud Platter:



Pelka's Creamy, Cheezy Cauliflower Casserole:



My Seitan Wellington (served with Madeira Gravy and homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange, Ginger and Rum-Soaked Raisins )-- recipe in World Vegan Feast:



Pelka's colorful, fresh and crunchy Winter Holiday Salad:



Here are two views of the main course buffet table (we filled our plates and met around Sarah and Gordon's lovely large square table):






And, then, even when we thought we could not eat another morsel, we were tempted further by Sarah's gorgeous and sensational Steamed Pumpkin Pecan Pudding with Brandy Sauce & Tofu Whipped Creme: 



Ellen was not able to join us on Sunday, but her husband Rudy brought some of her wonderful traditional Scandinavian treats and truffles that are a tradition in their family, so we nibbled ourselves into blissful oblivion:



Until next time!


Happy Vegan Thanksgiving to all of my American friends, relatives and readers!


Monday, November 21, 2011

FLUFFY NO-KNEAD HAZELNUT/BRAN DINNER ROLLS (NO SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED!)

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Last night we had a fabulous vegan "Thanksmas" dinner (which is becoming a yearly tradition) at our friends Sarah and Gordon's lovely house with our 5-couple vegan dinner group.  I'll post about the dinner in a day or two, but there was some interest expressed on my Facebook page about the recipe for the dinner rolls I was making, so that's the subject of this blog post.

  My contributions to the vegan "Thanksmas" feast-- Orange Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Rum-Soaked Raisins, Seitan Wellington from my book World Vegan Feast, and the rolls in the background.

I wanted to make a nice fluffy roll, but with some fiber, and I wanted to go the no-knead route because it's so easy and convenient.  I couldn't find a suitable recipe in any of the six no-knead bread books that I own, or even online, so I "winged" it.  I kept it simple, using a combination of unbleached white flour with wheat bran for added fiber (without cutting down on the "fluffiness"), and using soy milk for most of the liquid, because soy acts as a "dough conditioner", making light, soft breads.  (I already know that the no-knead method allows the dough to develop exceptional flavor and gives strength to the gluten the way kneading ordinarily would [see the following posts for more info: 1.), 2.), 3.)].)  The hazelnuts add an elegant touch.

Well, it turned out to be a great success (not one left!) and I'm happy to share the recipe with you-- these rolls would be great with just about any holiday dinner.



Printable Recipe
BRYANNA'S FLUFFY NO-KNEAD HAZELNUT/BRAN DINNER ROLLS
21 rolls

1/4 cup    warm water  
2 tsp    dry active baking yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast)  
2 cups    warm soy milk (soy milk helps make great soft breads, but use another type of non-dairy milk if you must)  
1/4 cup    unbleached organic granulated sugar  
1/4 cup    palm-oil-free vegan butter (softened or melted), such as my homemade version OR 3 tablespoons oil
4 cups    unbleached white flour  
1/2 cup    wheat bran  
2 tsp    salt  
Topping:  
non-dairy milk (preferably soy milk or nut milk) for brushing  
1/2 cup    chopped hazelnuts  
 
At least the evening before you wish to serve the rolls, mix the yeast in the warm water in a small cup and set aside for a few minutes. In a medium to large bowl mix the warm soy milk with the dissolved yeast, sugar and vegan butter or oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, bran and salt. Dump this into the bowl with the yeast mixture. Stir the soft dough together briefly, using a wooden spoon or a Danish dough whisk.  The dough will be loose and "shaggy". 





Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. (You can use a bowl with a snap lid, or use plastic wrap or a clean disposable shower cap to cover the bowl.) After an hour or so, Place the covered bowl in the refrigerator.  Leave the dough in the refrigerator until about 2 1/2 to 3 hours before you wish to bake the rolls. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator for about a week, if you wish.

2 1/2 to 3 hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Have ready two round 9-inch cake or pie pans, greased and lined on the bottom with baking parchment. Form the dough into 21 equal-sized round rolls (the balls of dough should be about golf-ball-size) and place a little bit apart in the prepared pans. Place the pans large inside food-safe plastic bags, or cover with damp clean tea towels. Place in a warm spot for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the rolls are fully risen.



Turn the oven to 400°F about 20 minutes before you anticipate the rolls to be fully risen.  Before baking, brush the rolls lightly with soy or nut milk and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.



Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Place the pans on racks to cool for 15 minutes or so before serving.


 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per roll): 146.3 calories; 27% calories from fat; 4.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 214.1mg sodium; 102.1mg potassium; 22.9g carbohydrates; 1.7g fiber; 3.2g sugar; 21.2g net carbs; 3.9g protein; 3.0 points. 





Enjoy (and an early "Happy Thanksgiving" to my American relatives, friends and readers)!




Monday, November 14, 2011

MUFFINS, SWEET AND SAVORY, VEGAN AND LOW-FAT

Best Blog Tips   Almond Crumb Cake Muffins


I don't make muffins very often these days, since it's just the two of us most of the time. (You can indeed have too many low-fat muffins, by the way!) But we had a visitor for a few days and one of my granddaughters came over as well one day, so muffins seemed appropriate. Below are the recipes for the two muffin recipes I made during the last few days.

Muffins are pretty easy to veganize, and to make lower in fat. I like muffins that are moist, not crumbly and dry, too, and it's not difficult to achieve that. My muffin batters are a little bit runnier than you might be used to (like my cake batters), but that seems to be a plus.

My standard procedure is to use pastry flour (usually a whole wheat type) instead of all-purpose flour because it contains less gluten. If you are using plenty of fat, the flour's not a problem, because the fat coats the gluten in the flour and makes it tender. However, if you use less fat, you want to use a flour that is lower in gluten content, such as pastry or cake flour. This is made from a soft wheat, whereas bread flour is made from hard wheat, and all-purpose is in between.

I generally substitute smooth unsweetened applesauce for up to 3/4 of the fat called for. I freeze canned or homemade applesauce for baking in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into zipper-lock bags.  Each one equals 2 tablespoons, making it easy to measure it out and eliminating waste.  I use 1/4 cup nondairy milk (I generally use soy, which contains some lecethin, as egg yolks do) in place of each egg-- sometimes I add flax, sometimes I use a little egg replacer, but I usually keep it simple in muffin recipes.

I made the following muffins as a breakfast muffin.  They are not super-sweet, which I prefer.



BRYANNA'S VEGAN ALMOND CRUMB CAKE MUFFINS
Makes 12 muffins
These muffins are super easy and quick to make, but nice enough for afternoon tea or coffee.

Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Wet Mix:
1 3/4 cups soy milk
1/4 cup smooth applesauce
(TIP: Freeze canned or homemade applesauce for baking in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into zipper-lock bags-- each one= 2 tablespoons)
2 Tbs oil
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
1 Tbs vinegar
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
Topping:
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbs melted Earth Balance

Heat oven to 400ºF. Grease 12 muffin cups, or use paper cupcake liners or parchment muffin cup liners (how to make your own), I don’t like to use silicone liners with muffins because I like a bit more f a crust on muffins, as opposed to cupcakes, which need to be softer.

In a small bowl, mix together the Topping ingredients with your fingers and set aside. Whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the Wet Mix Ingredients in a medium bowl or measuring pitcher until smooth.

Add the Wet Mix to the Dry Mix and mix briefly. Spoon evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins evenly with the Topping. Bake for about 22 minutes. Place pan on a baking rck to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. The muffins can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Cool leftovers thoroughly before storing in a plastic bag or rigid plastic container. These freeze well.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per muffin): Nutrition (per serving): 214.4 calories; 25% calories from fat; 6.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 172.2mg sodium; 170.2mg potassium; 36.0g carbohydrates; 3.0g fiber; 13.9g sugar; 33.1g net carbs; 5.1g protein; 4.2 points.

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

These next muffins are a favorite of mine, because I love anything corny, and these are double-corny! The stoneground cornmeal contains more fiber than the ordinary refined type. The creamed corn (which actually contains no cream) adds more fiber, and makes the muffins moist and sweet without added sugar and with very little oil.  A perfect go-with with our Border Beans and braised greens for dinner last night.



BRYANNA'S CREAMY CORN MUFFINS
Makes 12 muffins
This recipe is from my book, "The Fiber for Life Cookbook".

DRY MIX:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (stoneground, if possible)
1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
WET MIX:
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 Tbs oil or melted Earth Balance
1/2 Tbs powdered egg replacer (Ener-G or Orgran)
ADDITIONAL:
1 can (14-15 oz.) cream-style corn (this product does not contain dairy products)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or use paper cupcake liners or parchment muffin cup liners (how to make your own), I don’t like to use silicone liners with muffins because I like a bit more f a crust on muffins, as opposed to cupcakes, which need to be softer.

Mix the Dry Mix ingredients together well in a medium bowl. Blend the Wet Mix ingredients together well in a deep bowl or medium measuring pitcher, using a hand/immersion blender or whisk. Pour the contents of the can of creamed corn into the blended Wet Mix and stir gently but thoroughly. Pour this mixture into the Dry Mix and mix briefly. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes.

Place the muffin tin on a rack, cover the muffins with a clean tea towel and cool for a few minutes before serving hot.

Cool leftovers thoroughly before storing in a plastic bag or rigid plastic container. These freeze well.


Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per muffin): 110.8 calories; 14% calories from fat; 1.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 227.8mg sodium; 121.0mg potassium; 22.3g carbohydrates; 2.4g fiber; 1.5g sugar; 19.9g net carbs; 3.2g protein; 1.9 points.



VARIATIONS:
NUTTY AND/OR FRUITY CREAMY CORN MUFFINS: Add 2/3 c. chopped toasted walnuts or pecans; and/or 1 c. fresh cranberries or blueberries, or 1/2 c. dried cranberries or blueberries, or 3/4 c. chopped pitted prunes. Bake the batter in 12 greased muffin cups for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees F.
HOT CHILE SURPRISE CREAMY CORN MUFFINS: Make muffins as directed above, but spoon only half the batter into 12 muffin cups. Spoon about 2 tsp. of hot red pepper or jalapeño jelly into the center of each portion. Top with the remaining batter and bake as usual.
GREEN CHILE CREAMY CORN MUFFINS: To the batter, add 1 (4 oz.) can , drained well, of chopped green California chiles. Sprinkle the top of each unbaked muffin about 1/2-1 T. vegan parmesan or other vegan cheese.
BASIL PARMESAN CREAMY CORN MUFFINS: To the batter, add 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil and 2 T. vegan parmesan. Sprinkle the top of each unbaked muffin about more vegan parmesan.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

MY FAVORITE GINGERBREAD CAKE, ALL DOLLED UP (OR NOT)

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As a little prelude to holiday cooking, I made this recipe from my book, The Fiber for life Cookbook last week.  Not only is it moist and dark and rich with spices and molasses, but it also happens to be whole grain, fiber-rich and low in fat.  I had a bit of my vegan caramel sauce leftover from another recipe, so I decided to "doll up" my homespun gingerbread with a drizzle of that and some toasted hazelnuts.  Perfect!

I called this recipe "Gingerbread" in the book because that's what we always called this type of dark, spicy, moist ginger cake baked in a square pan when I was growing up. But, it occurred to me that "gingerbread" is a cookie, too, so it's confusing. I'm hedging my bets and calling it a "Gingerbread Cake" this time!

Researching gingerbread quickly, I see that it can refer to anything from this type of moist cake to a fairly dry cookie (or biscuit, as it's called in the UK). What they have in common, besides the ginger, is the uses of molasses (or treacle), or possibly honey for at least part of the sweetener.  The following type of recipe is much like the British ginger cake, but without the traditional lemon sauce.

Try this with tea on a cold day!

Printable Recipe
BRYANNA’S WHOLE WHEAT GINGERBREAD CAKE (can be SF or GF or both)
makes 1/ 9” square pan/ 9 servings
Moist, dark and spicy—also low-fat and fiber-rich.

WET MIX:
1/4 cup water
1 T. flax seeds
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 T. lemon juice + any nondairy milk to make 1/2 cup
1/2 cup light organic granulated sugar
1/3 cup smooth applesauce
(TIP: Freeze canned or homemade applesauce for baking in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into zipper-lock bags-- each one= 2 tablespoons!)
2 T. oil (olive oil works well in this)
DRY MIX:
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (a GF flour mix would probably work fine with this-- they usually work well with simple cakes)
1 T. powdered ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease and flour a 9" square pan.

In a blender, blend the water and flaxseeds until “gloppy” like egg whites. Add the remaining Wet Mix ingredients and blend well.

In a medium bowl mix the Dry Mix ingredients well. Pour in the Wet Mix and mix briefly. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake 25-35 minutes, testing with a cake tester. Serve warm or cool.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 285.8 calories; 12% calories from fat; 4.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 267.2mg sodium; 699.4mg potassium; 61.1g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 32.4g sugar; 57.0g net carbs; 4.3g protein; 5.3 points.



"DOLLED UP" VARIATION:
Drizzle the top of the warm cake with about 1/4 cup Caramel Sauce (see recipe below) and sprinkle with 3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts.

With the Variation the Nutrition Facts are as follows: Nutrition (per serving): 396.4 calories; 25% calories from fat; 11.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 288.0mg sodium; 796.9mg potassium; 71.4g carbohydrates; 5.1g fiber; 40.3g sugar; 66.4g net carbs; 6.2g protein; 8.1 points

BRYANNA'S VEGAN CARAMEL SAUCE (makes about 1 cup):
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs vegan butter (such as my homemade vegan palm oil-free Buttah)
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegan creamer
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Bring the syrup, brown sugar, Earth Balance and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan and boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the consistency of heavy syrup.

Remove from heat and cool a bit. Heat the creamer just until warm. Whisk into the syrup along with vanilla.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 tablespoons): 173.1 calories; 18% calories from fat; 3.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 93.7mg sodium; 59.9mg potassium; 37.9g carbohydrates; 0.0g fiber; 33.1g sugar; 37.9g net carbs; 0.7g protein; 3.7 points.


Enjoy!