Thursday, October 28, 2010



 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

Just a quick post to give you a couple of our favorite Halloween doughnut recipes.  I don't know why, but I've always made doughnuts on Halloween!  We live so far in the "boonies" that we don't get trick-or-treaters, but my grandchildren and any close neighbor children always come over for some warm doughnuts!

Printable Recipe

Makes 12
A great Halloween treat!  You will need 2 black, 6-count nonstick doughnut pans (or, if you only have one, make 2 batches) like this:

Liquid Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. soy, hemp or nut milk with 1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice added
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. thick cooked, mashed and drained pumpkin (or squash), or canned pumpkin puree
(TIP: hang home-cooked mashed pumpkin or squash over the sink in a jelly-bag or in several layers of cheesecloth until it is as thick as canned pumpkin puree)
3 T. oil
Dry Ingredients:
1 c. wholewheat pastry flour (do not use ordinary whole wheat flour, or your doughnuts will be tough!)
3/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 c. soy or chickpea flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the two 6-count nonstick doughnut pans with oil from a pump sprayer and sprinkle each one with a little organic unbleached sugar (this makes the bottoms crispy). Beat the liquid ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add to the liquid ingredients and stir briefly, just to mix. Divide the batter evenly between 10 doughnut molds and smooth it out evenly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove the doughnuts to a rack to cool.

If you like, roll the doughnuts in unbleached sugar which has been ground to a powder in a dry blender (add about 1 tsp. cornstarch to every 1/2 c. of sugar); or coat with  a powdered sugar glaze or White Glaze (below ). The glazed doughnuts can also be dipped in coconut or chopped nuts.

Makes 1/2 c.

This can be used on sweet yeasted breads, tea breads, cupcakes, doughnuts, etc..

1/2 c. good-tasting powdered soy milk (such as a Better than Milk-- do not use bulk soymilk powder!), or powdered rice milk.
1/4 c. Grade A light maple syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla or other flavor extract

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl. For a thin glaze, spread it on the hot doughnuts, bread or cake. For a firmer glaze, spread it on the cooled doughnuts, bread or cake.

This is what Picarones usually look like! My photo didn't turn out, but mine look like any drop doughnut, or kind of like messy "doughnut holes"!

Printable Recipe

Makes 52 drop doughnuts
Traditionally, these are shaped into a ring right in the hot oil, but I just make them as a drop doughnut. It takes some practice to get the dough to fall into the hot oil formed as a ring! (And they are often lopsided!) There are many versions of this treat-- some are made with sweet potato as well as squash. I "veganized" this recipe from an old (1950's) Peruvian cookbook of my mother's. It’s a great Halloween specialty!

1 T. dry active baking yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
1 T. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
3 c. unbleached white flour
1 c. beer, at room temp (can be dealcoholized)
1 c. canned pumpkin puree, or cooked, WELL-drained, pureed winter squash, at room temperature
(TIP: Hang home-cooked mashed pumpkin or squash over the sink in a jelly-bag or in several layers of cheesecloth until it is as thick as canned pumpkin puree)
2 to 4 c. oil for frying (peanut or canola, preferably)

SYRUP: (This is called "miel de chancaca" in Peru because it is made with raw unbleached sugar called "chancaca". It translates roughly to "honey of brown sugar".)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. water
3 x 1/2” strip of organic orange peel
(some people also add a cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves, but that's up to you!)

In a small cup, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. In a large bowl mix the cornmeal, salt, anise seed, 1 c. flour and the beer. Add the dissolved yeast. Mix well. Add pumpkin and remaining flour. Mix to form a soft dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge 4-12 hours.

To make the syrup, mix the ingredients (including the orange peel) in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and boil gently until a thick syrup forms, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the orange peel.

Heat the oil in a wok, stir-fry pan or deep pot (you use less oil in a wok), to about 375 degrees F. To test for proper oil temperature, drop a small spoonful of dough into hot oil. If it rises quickly to the surface, it’s hot enough.

Drop tablespoons of dough in the hot oil. Fry until golden. (If they are browning too fast and are raw in the middle, lower the heat a little.) Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with hot syrup poured over them, on a dessert plate with a fork. Tip: Doughnuts can be kept warm in a 200 degree F oven for up to 1 hour.

To reheat pre-made Picarones, place them on baking sheets in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 minutes.

Have a great night!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Best Blog Tips
 New Orleans-Style White Beans and, below,  Cajun Red Bean Breakfast Hash
Last week I posted about beans and how food science can give you more options for cooking beans, or cooking them faster, maybe even make them tastier. I also posted a photo album of bean dishes I "have known and loved" on my Facebook page and one friend asked about the recipes for two of the dishes, so I'm posting them here this week. They both happen to have Louisiana flair!

About the first recipe: everyone knows about Red Beans and Rice from New Orleans, but I was interested to read about a recipe for Creole "butter beans" and rice, a spicy dish made with "slab bacon" and ham. It was in a 1975 cookbook called "The New Orleans Cookbook" by Rima and Richard Collin. The "butter beans" are actually a type of lima bean-- Gigantes, the very large Greek-style lima beans. I wanted to veganize this dish, but I had no Gigantes (have to go to Vancouver to buy them!), so I used white beans.

The second dish is fat-free recipe I developed for "Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes", for which I did the recipes, but it didn't make the final cut. Dr. Barnard wanted plenty of bean breakfast dishes, but in the end the editors nixed all of them except my bean and grain waffle recipe.  This spicy hash of red beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes is really tasty, especially with the Vegan "Ham" Gravy at the end of this post! (And, if you prefer, you can use some oil-- preferably dark sesame oil for a rich flavor-- in cooking the dish.)

Great Northern Beans
Printable Recipe

Serves 6
We loved this simple dish and enjoyed it for several days running. To give the dish the sensuous feeling that the bacon would add, I used a little bit more olive oil than I might ordinarily use, plus some dark sesame oil for smoky depth of flavor. PS: I developed this recipe before I learned about the salt-soak and no-soak methods of cooking beans, outlined in last week’s blog, but feel free to adapt the recipe—I'm going to very soon!

1 lb. Great Northern beans (If you use other beans, be sure to see the Important Update at this post.)
5 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 Tbs chopped garlic
2 Tbs soy bacon bits or chips
2 bay leaves
1 tsp liquid smoke (see this post about this ingredient)
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp ground mace or allspice

Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain and add to a large heavy pot with the broth. Place over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oils in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the onions and stir-fry until they soften a bit.

Add the mushrooms, celery and garlic. Stir-fry further, until the vegetables are wilted and slightly-browned. Scrape the vegetables and all of the oil into the pot with the beans.

Add the Seasonings to the pot, stir well and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the beans are tender, but not mushy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve with long grain rice.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 294.4 calories; 24% calories from fat; 8.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 71.0mg sodium; 996.3mg potassium; 42.3g carbohydrates; 13.3g fiber; 2.7g sugar; 14.9g protein; 5.8 points.

Printable Recipe

Serves 3-4  (UPDATED October 2014)
Meat and potato hash is an old-fashioned way of serving leftovers for breakfast. This is a tasty modern take-off on that concept, using Cajun spices and the New Orleans staple, red beans. Serve with Vegan “Ham” Gravy (recipe below), or with ketchup. For a special breakfast, serve with scrambled tofu (my favorite is Julie Hasson's recipe).

6 ounces new or red (waxy) potato, diced small
6 ounces sweet potato (orange-flesh), peeled and diced small
(See Note below at beginning of recipe instructions.)
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, finely-chopped
2 green onions, finely-chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked or canned (a 19-ounce can) small red beans (or pinto beans), rinsed and drained (If you use other beans, be sure to see the Important Update at this post.)
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (for a good homemade recipe, see this one from Mother Earth News)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetarian broth

Steam the diced potatoes and sweet potatoes until just tender. (Note: You can use leftover cooked sweet potatoes and/or potatoes if you have some around.)

Use a 10-inch or so heavy skillet that can go under your oven's broiler (such as cast iron or hard-anodized). Spread the bottom to cover with dark sesame oil. Sauté the green pepper, onions, green onions, and garlic over medium-high heat until the onion is softened and starting to brown a little. Add the steamed potatoes and  sweet potatoes, and the beans. Mash the potatoes and beans coarsely right in the skillet with a potato masher. Add the Cajun seasoning, thyme and salt, and the broth. Mix well.

Turn on your oven's broiler to High and set rack about 6 inches below.

Turn down the heat under the pan on the stove to medium. Smooth the hash out evenly over the skillet and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until a crust forms on the bottom.

Cut the "cake" into four to six pieces and carefully loosen it from the pan with a thin spatula. Place the pan under the broiler heat and broil for a few minutes, checking carefully, until the top is a bit browned and crispy.  Remove from the broiler (using a good hot pad to protect your hands!)

Serve hot with "ham gravy" (see recipe below) or ketchup.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 recipe): 200.3 calories; 1% calories from fat; 0.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 272.0mg sodium; 811.8mg potassium; 40.5g carbohydrates; 11.3g fiber; 3.3g sugar; 10.7g protein.

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups
NOTE: If you don’t use alcohol, you can use a non-alcoholic wine (Ariel is a good brand)--a sweeter type such as Riesling--instead of the sherry.

1 1/2 cups mushroom bouillon
1/3 cup browned flour (see instructions below)
2 3/4 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 Tbs dark sesame oil
1/2 Tbs brown sugar or maple syrup
1/2 Tbs ketchup
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke  (see this post about this ingredient)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

TO MAKE BROWNED FLOUR, brown 1/3 c. unbleached flour over medium heat in a DRY cast iron pan, stirring constantly, until it is as dark as brown coffee, being careful not to burn it.

In a blender, or with a hand immersion blender, blend the mushroom broth, browned flour, nutritional yeast, water, sherry, nutritional yeast, sesame oil, soy sauce, ketchup, liquid smoke, and salt until smooth. Stir constantly in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-5 minutes. Add freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

MICROWAVE OPTION: Pour the mixture into 1 qt. microwave-proof bowl or measuring pitcher. Cook on High for 2 minutes. Whisk vigorously so that the gravy is smooth. Cook again for 2 minutes on High. Whisk again. Cook one more time on High for 1-2 minutes. Whisk well.

NOTE: This can be made ahead and reheated.


Saturday, October 16, 2010


Best Blog Tips

"Border Beans"

I'm late blogging this week, I know. Too many things going on at once! But I spent much of the day today doing some cooking. I made my homemade low-fat mayonnaise, black bean soup, and tofu onion dip to eat with baby carrots. I put okara from my last batch of soymilk in the food dryer to dehydrate for for making okara parmesan tomorrow. I made a gooey dessert for my stepson and his lady who are coming tonight or tomorrow, and, for dinner, Argentine Shepherd's Pie from my soy cookbook. (Shepherd's Pie of any sort is a favorite of DH's.) (Yes, I do use my own cookbooks!)

Argentine Shepherd's Pie (recipe here) has a Latin American Piccadillo type of filling with Yves Veggie Ground Round, tomatoes, sliced green olives, spices, etc.

The Gooey Dessert: Almost No-Fat Brownies (from my Holiday cookbook)-- I baked 1/2 the recipe in a 7-inch round cake pan to make 4 flattish wedges. Drizzled them with my homemade vegan "Manjar Blanco", which is the Peruvian term for Dulce de Leche (recipe in my book "World Vegan Feast") and topped them with pecans, pumpkin seeds and peanuts toasted with a little vegan butter (try my homemade palm oil free vegan Buttah). Too good!

I also made our favorite simple bean dish, a vegan version of a recipe from my first mother-in-law, Ruth Stuhr Clark, the mother of my late husband, my children's dad, Wayne Clark. The recipe is called "Border Beans" (recipe below; photo above & below). It is in my very 1st cookbook. She made it with pinto beans, garlic, oregano, chile pequin, and a ham hock. I think my adaptation has a very similar flavor. The pinto beans are creamy and satisfying, but the broth is one of the best parts. I absolutely crave this at times!  We eat it plain, or with bread or rice, and we use it as a basic recipe for beans in many dishes.

But today I cooked it in a different fashion than usual. Ruth cooked this dish on top of the stove, after a long soaking, and that's what I've done for, I hate to say it, almost 45 years! (I got married very young!) But this time I wanted to try out what some people call "The Russ Parsons Method". Russ Parsons is Food editor for the LA Times and the author of "How to Read a French Fry".

Before I go on, I want to mention how I found this method. I have read SO many times that you should not salt your beans or use a salted broth to cook them, or it will impede cooking, make the beans tough, etc.. However, I have always used salt or a salted broth to cook my beans, with no problems whatsoever. So, I was interested to see that food scientists are endeavoring to get the word out that this just isn't so! It's important because adding salt at the end doesn't produce as rounded a flavor.

Cook's Illustrated magazine, Saveur magazine, and Fine Cooking all have had articles on this. In fact, Cook's Illustrated advises a salty soak for the beans-- brining, in effect. "Why does soaking dried beans in salted water make them cook up with softer skins? It has to do with how the sodium ions in salt interact with the cells of the bean skins. As the beans soak, the sodium ions replace some of the calcium and magnesium ions in the skins. Because sodium ions are weaker than mineral ions, they allow more water to penetrate into the skins, leading to a softer texture. During soaking, the sodium ions will only filter partway into the beans, so their greatest effect is on the cells in the outermost part of the beans." Cook's Illustrated.  You can read more here and here.

Food scientists Shirley Corriher and Harold McGee also concur. So I feel pretty good about following my instincts!

In the course of researching this, I also read what I had always suspected-- that the real culprits in terms of slowing down cooking are acidic ingredients, like vinegar, citrus fruits, tomatoes; calcium and magnesium, which may be in your water; and sugar, such as molasses. So you can add those things (well, the water depends on where you live!) towards the end of cooking-- or not. It turns out that, although these things slow down the cooking (the absorption of water into the beans, actually), that may not always be a bad thing. Slower cooking produces not only more flavor, but beans that have intact skins (for the most part) and hold their shape.

Another thing I came across were different viewpoints on soaking beans before cooking. The food scientists seem to say that it might speed up cooking a bit, and it might help with digestive problems, but you lose some nutrients. Mexican cooks don't soak their beans and they eat beans 3 times a day (or so I'm told). Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy (famous cookbook authors who specialize in Mexican cooking) don't soak. Neither does Melissa Guerra, a Texas cookbook writer. Food scientists tell us that if you eat beans often, they don't have the same effect as on people who eat beans infrequently. Anyway, it's getting late and I don't want to go on and on, but a good case has been made for not soaking if you don't feel like it or don't have the time.

BUT, apparently, Old World beans such as fava or broad beans, kidney beans, and soybeans cook better when soaked, whereas New World beans [most of the others] do not. 
Cultural customs in regards to soaking seem to reflect this. Note: I never soak chickpeas, however, and neither does Chef Mark Bittman.
Use only dried white navy beans or Great Northern beans or split (white) urad dal for making white bean flour, or purchase bean flour made from only one of those varieties. (Chickpea flour is fine, too.)  
DO NOT use cannellini beans, red or white kidney beans, butter beans, broad beans or lima beans for making flour; nor should you use those 6 varieties of beans whole, soaked (but raw) and blended into recipes to be cooked or baked. Those 6 varieties of beans all need to be soaked for at least 5 hours, water discarded, and then boiled in fresh water for 10 to 15 minutes before simmering until tender before eating.  This eliminates toxic lectins which can cause all sorts of digestive distress in some people.  
And be advised that slow-cookers do not always get hot enough to get rid of the toxin, so soak and boil as advised above before finishing in a slow-cooker.  If using a pressure cooker to cook kidney beans or the other 4 varieties mentioned as problematic, you do not need to pre-boil for 10 minutes as the very high temperatures reached inside the pressure cooker are adequate to destroy the toxin, but definitely soak first and discard the water. (Info from this article.)
The toxin in white kidney beans at about 1/3rd the concentration of red kidney beans, and broad (fava) beans, butter beans and lima beans at about 5 to 10%. 

Don't panic about lectins, but be informed-- see  

Which brings us to the Russ Parsons method of cooking unsoaked beans in a heavy pot in the oven, with salt or salted broth, and less liquid than you are probably accustomed to in a relatively slow oven. So many people raved about it online (and huge, long forum threads are dedicated to discussing this on the eGullet forums: see here and here).

The method was said to produce a superior bean in terms of flavor, appearance and texture, AND a tastier bean broth. Sounds like a good thing for a vegan, I thought! So I adapted my Border Bean recipe and gave it a try-- I was very happy with the results! The beans cooked in 90 minutes, BTW. Fresher beans would probably have taken less time. (I also tried black beans and they did take longer to cook.)

In the near future I am going to play around with other methods, such as pressure cooker and slow-cooker, and will blog about the results. (My daughter Sarah uses a slow-cooker with boiling water and cooks the UN-soaked beans on High for 90 minutes-- she says it works every time.)  I suspect that certain methods may be better than others depending on what you will be using the beans for.
 (UPDATE, 2016: I now use the slowcooker method, starting with cold water (in my Instant Pot), for many beans, especially those destined for the freezer [because you can stop cooking before they get mushy].  In some slowcookers they may need more time.  BUT DO NOT use this method for red kidney beans and a few other varieties of beans-- see IMPORTANT UPDATE highlighted in pink above.

Printable Recipe

Makes 6-8 servings

3 cups pinto beans
Tip: OR you can use small red or pink beans or black beans, or even Romano beans— but NOT kidney beans. (see IMPORTANT UPDATE highlighted in pink above).
6 cups HOT good-tasting vegan broth (see here about good-tasting vegan "chicken" broth, and here about mushroom broth-- I like to use 1/2 and 1/2)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 3 dried red chiles, crumbled (she used chile pequins)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
a few dashes of liquid smoke (see this post for info on this ingredient)
OPTIONAL: 1-2 tablespoons dark sesame oil (I use this tasty oil in place of bacon or pork fat)
OPTIONAL: 1-2 tablespoons soy “bacon” chips or bits

No need to soak the beans. Heat the oven to 325°F. Put the dry beans in a 3-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Some people prefer a clay bean pot. Add the hot broth and the other ingredients EXCEPT the sesame oil. Place on the lid and bake for 75 minutes. Check the beans and stir them. If they are tender, take them out of the oven. If they aren't done, put them back in for 15 minute intervals until they are, adding a cup of hot water if they seem to be drying out. This will take at most 2 hours, but will probably take less than 90 minutes. (The time is dependent on the freshness of the beans, and also the type of beans-- black beans take longer than pintos, for instance.)  Add the sesame oil and taste for salt. The beans will be a bit “soupy”—the broth is delicious!

TO MAKE “REFRIED” BEANS: I don’t use any fat in these. I just use a very large heavy skillet over high heat and dump in the amount of beans I want to “re-fry”, along with some of the broth. I mash them with a potato masher while cooking the broth down. After they are mashed, I use a wooden spoon to keep the mixture moving, so it doesn’t stick (don’t leave them for a minute!) When the beans are the consistency I like, I remove them from the heat. Easy!

Printable Recipe

Makes 6-8 servings
This is a slightly different version than in my 1st cookbook. UPDATE: If you have an Instant Pot, you can cook this recipe on the SlowCook function, medium, for 3 hours, and the beans should be perfectly cooked!
If you use an ordinary slowcooker, it may take up to 9 hours, depending on the cooker, so start in the evening for an overnight simmering, or in the morning for your dinner that evening.

3 cups pinto beans (or you can use small red or pink beans or black beans, or even Romano beans-— but NOT red kidney beans. (See IMPORTANT UPDATE highlighted in pink above.)
8 cups good-tasting vegan broth (see here about good-tasting vegan "chicken" broth, and here about mushroom broth-- I like to use 1/2 and 1/2)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 3 dried red chiles, crumbled (she used chile pequins)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
a few dashes of liquid smoke (see this post for info on this ingredient)
OPTIONAL: 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil (I use this tasty oil in place of bacon or pork fat)
OPTIONAL: 2 tablespoons soy “bacon” chips or bits

Soak the pinto beans in 9 cups water overnight. Drain and discard the water and place the soaked beans in a large pot with the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the sesame oil. Bring to a boil, boil about 3 minutes, then turn down and simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the beans are very tender. Add the sesame oil and taste for salt. The beans will be a bit “soupy”— the broth is delicious!

TO MAKE “REFRIED” BEANS: I don’t use any fat in these. I just use a very large heavy skillet over high heat and dump in the amount of beans I want to “re-fry”, along with some of the broth. I mash them with a potato masher while cooking the broth down. After they are mashed, I use a wooden spoon to keep the mixture moving, so it doesn’t stick (don’t leave them for a minute!) When the beans are the consistency I like, I remove them from the heat. Easy!