Friday, April 23, 2021

NEW, EVEN TASTIER UPDATED VERSION OF MY STEAMED VEGAN "PARMESAN"

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This is a new and improved version of the vegan"parm" recipe I posted in November of 2019. 

I've been a bit fed up lately with cashews, cashews, cashews when it comes to vegan cheese!  For one thing, they are expensive, especially the fair trade, organic variety.  For another, they can be ethically compromised (See 
https://bit.ly/2oLeHgM for more on these issues.)  My aim for some time has been to make vegan cheese that is delicious, easy to make, inexpensive and made with easily-obtained ingredients, and without the need for cashews or culturing.

Some time ago I ran across Martine's groundbreaking recipe for Vegan Steamed Rice Cheese at lowcarb-vegan.net/vegan-steamed-rice-cheese/  I tried it right away-- it was easy to make and tasty!

BUT, it was made with white rice flour, which is not particularly low-glycemic (and I have to eat low-glycemic). So, back in 2019, I got a notion to use some sort of bean flour instead, along with some high-resistant-starch potato starch, and it worked beautifully. I added more nutritional yeast, along with some miso (for a fermented flavor), and onion powder and garlic granules. Even better!

My far-away Australian Facebook friend Fran P. was also working on such things and we shared our successes and failures. I hoped (and still hope) to make a cheese that melted, but I'm still working on that. But, in any case, one day I got the idea to grate this very firm, tasty cheese and it seemed to me to be a delicious and much less expensive alternative to commercial vegan "parmesan" products.

In this latest version, I boosted some of the flavor components, and it's even better! My husband was even slicing it and eating it out of hand!  

I'm working on some other versions of this type of cheese, but I wanted to share this one with you right now because we're so pleased with it.  Let me know what you think!


Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S  NEW UPDATED STEAMED VEGAN "PARMESAN"
(Low-glycemic, high in protein and fiber, nut-free, soy-free) April 23, 2021   

**Makes enough to fill at least two 142g shaker jars.


Low-Fat Option: I have made this cheese with NO OIL, using 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsps. water and it turned out just fine, but may not melt as well.


This very tasty cheese is high in protein from bean flour, and is low-glycemic. It's also a great source of resistant starch (which acts as a soluble fiber). Potato starch [not the same thing as potato flour, BTW] is also very high in resistant starch and makes for a VERY firm cheese, suitable for grating or pulsing in a food processor. 

(See https://bit.ly/2PJhaU9 for info on resistant starch, which improves insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduces appetite and has various benefits for digestion.)


Ingredients:

    • 1 1/3 cup/124 g  chickpea flour (NOTE: I've tried several bean flours and this works best.)

    • 1/4 cup/ 41 g  slightly packed-down potato starch (NOT potato flour) 

    • 1 cup water

    • 1/4 cup melted refined coconut oil (preferably Fair Trade, organic)

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    • 1 1/2 tsp salt

    • 1 tablespoon dark miso 

NOTE: dark miso gives a more fermented flavor than the white variety.

    • 1 1/2 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard

    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR sauerkraut juice

    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

    • 1 tsp. onion powder

    • 1 tsp. garlic granules

Steps:

1. Pour 2 cups of water into your steamer pot, InstantPot or pressure cooker, equipped with a flat steamer basket in the bottom.  2.Place all the ingredients into the jar of your blender, and blend until it forms a completely smooth, milky mixture, without lumps or visible oil droplets.

This is the Pyrex mold that I use, lined with cooking parchment


3. Pour the cheese mixture into a greased or parchment-lined Pyrex, metal or ceramicmold. Choose a mold that will hold 2 cups, with about 1/2 inch of “head room”. 

      Place the mold onto the steamer basket.  I fold a long piece of aluminium foil lengthwise into a wide strip and use  it to lower the mold onto the steamer basket. This makes it easier to remove the hot mold from its close quarters after it's cooked, too!



4. Steam the cheese for about 45 minutes (or 25 minutes on Steam function in Instant Pot, or pressure cooker).  Release pressure in the InstantPot or pressure cooker after cooling down for about 20 minutes. 

Use the aluminum foil to lift the hot mold out of the pot onto a cooling rack.


After the steaming, the cheese will still be a bit soft. Don't worry, it will firm up once it cools. If a thin layer of water dripped onto the cheese from the pot's lid-- drain this off carefully. Let the cheese cool to room temperature and then cover it and put it into the fridge overnight to firm up.


Once it is firm, you can release it from the mold and store it in a lidded container for a week or so, or you can freeze half of it, well-wrapped. The cheese tastes best if you leave it to firm and develop flavor for a day or two before eating.  You can grate the cheese on a box grater, if you wish, but I use a food processor. I cut the block into small squares and place them in a food processor.


Pulse until they are chopped and then process until it looks like commercial grated parmesan. Scoop the resulting "granules" into two shaker bottles-- I have used two 142g Earth Island/FollowYourHeart Vegan Grated Parmesan-Style Cheese shakers, but you can just use some clean, dry  jars and scoop it out. Or, if you prefer, cut the block in half,  process one half, and freeze on half, well wrapped, for grating later.


PS: I keep most of  my grated "Parm" in the freezer, only leaving a small amount in a jar in the refrigerator and refilling as needed.

Enjoy!




Monday, February 15, 2021

HOMEMADE LOW-SODIUM, LOW-GLYCEMIC ASIAN COOKING SAUCES

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It's been a long, long time since I posted!!  I've mostly been cooking from my own books and files, as well as some old favorites on my bookshelves. And, as those of you who still follow me may know, I've been altering my diet to according the vicissitudes of  aging.

I love Asian cooking, but I am following a lower-sodium diet, as well as a low-glycemic one (very little sugar, and only low-glycemic carbohydrates-- you can check out some of my past posts on this subject).  Checking out sodium and sugar content on the labels of the bottles of soy sauce and other commercial Asian sauces readily available in supermarkets and specialty stores was quite a shock!


My first challenge was soy sauce. I have used Kikkoman soy sauce for years, but, at 960mg of sodium per tablespoon, I knew that I would have to make a change.  Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments in the world, originating in China. It has a meaty, rich flavor which adds body to many Western meatless recipes. It is an essential for meatless cooking. Kikkoman makes a variety called “Less Sodium Soy Sauce”, which contains 40% less salt than ordinary soy sauce, with no loss in flavor, and it is widely available in grocery stores.

For your information: Some people use a product called Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce, mistakenly believing that it contains less salt than ordinary soy sauce (or tamari or shoyu, other terms for soy sauce), but Bragg’s actually has more sodium per tablespoon as ordinary soy sauce, but, since it is not a fermented product, it has a less complex flavor, so you often use more!  The serving size for the Bragg's product is only half a teaspoon, containing 160mg of sodium. The serving size listed on the Kikkoman Soy Sauce bottle is 960mg for 1 tablespoon.  6 half-teaspoons of Bragg's makes 1 tablespoon, which works out to 1060 mg per tablespoon-- more than Kikkoman!

I figured that I could make my own low-sodium soy sauce, since the small bottles of Kikkoman Less-Sodium Soy sauce are expensive, and I can't find larger bottles in my area. I figured that I could somehow make my own and, low and behold, I found an easy recipe online at 
https://thewoksoflife.com/low-sodium-soy-sauce/, and had all the makings for it. 

EASY HOMEMADE LOWER-SODIUM SOY SAUCE

Mix 1/2 cup regular soy sauce, 1/2 cup Chinese dark soy sauce (which I happened to have in my cupboard), and 1 cup water-- that's it!  (Makes 2 cups) Regular Kikkoman soy sauce contains 960 mg sodium per tablespoon, and dark soy sauce contains 870 mg per tablespoon. 

By mixing these two soy sauces with the water, you have a full-bodied, tasty, and very inexpensive lower-sodium soy sauce  at 457 mg sodium per tablespoon!

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The second sauce that I attempted was Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.  We don't use it as often as soy sauce, of course, but it's great to have around to serve with my Thai-Style Corn Fritters, Shallow-Fried or Baked. It's also good for dipping chunks of crispy chunks fried or air-fried tofu, SoyCurls, seitan, vegetables, etc., or for adding to many types of Asian stir-fries that call for some sweetness and chili heat.

There are many homemade versions of this delicious, spicy sauce online, but I put together a quick and easy mixture, using agave syrup for the sweetener because it is much lower on the glycemic index than sugar (though, you should not overdo any type of sugar).

BRYANNA'S NOT-SO-SWEET THAI  SWEET RED CHILI SAUCE
Makes about 1 3/4 cups

Mix together in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup UN-salted rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Bring this to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.
Then stir in 1 Tablespoon potato starch mixed with 1 tablespoon COLD water. This will thicken the mixture quickly. Store in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator. 

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The third sauce that I made this morning is a version of Chinese Vegan Stir-Fry Sauce. This is not the same product as  Chinese Vegetarian "Oyster" Sauce or Chinese "Mushroom" Stir-Fry Sauce. (I plan to work on that one soon.) But just a little bit can add good flavor to a marinade or veggie stir-fry.

BRYANNA'S HOMEMADE VEGAN MULTI-PURPOSE CHINESE STIR-FRY SAUCE
Males 1 1/4 cups

Whisk in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup lower-sodium soy sauce (see above)
1/2 cup low-sodium vegan "chikn" broth or veggie broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon agave nectar or your favorite sugar sub
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or a bit of ground ginger)
a good dash of garlic granules
1 tablespoon of dark Chinese (toasted) sesame oil
1 tsp UN-salted rice vinegar

Bring to a low boil, then turn down to a low simmer and cook until thickened. Allow to cool off, then store in a tightly covered jar or bottle in the refrigerated.


Enjoy!