Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sandwich Loaf with Flax and Chia Seeds

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When it is cold, rainy, and I have the day off, nothing more reminds me of English mornings and fresh bread!  One of my distinct memories of England is that breakfast is toast, it may or may not have beans on it, but I always ate toast. One of my first interactions with fresh bread was when I stayed with my friend Alice of Smokin’ Tofu in London. Each time I went over I had a different fresh loaf of bread, from whole wheat to tomato basil.  I was smitten with fresh bread and because it was all around me I never desired much to make it myself. It was a year later once I was back in America after reading the 40 ingredient list of store bought bread that I began to become interested in making my own. Bread became an obsession of mine after I lived at my friend Natalie’s house a couple years ago.  Her father baked fresh bread, and I had tasted nothing like it before.  Once I moved out I set about creating the perfect sandwich bread…unfortunately that did not happen right away.  I received brick after brick after brick of hard dense dough…it tasted all right if you put it in the toaster, but it was nothing like her fathers.

After a year of baking bread, both the delicious, and inedible mistakes I have forged a relationship with yeast.  Yeast is the most important part of the bread even though it is such a small piece of the overall dough.  That is why it is so important to check to make sure your yeast is alive!  Bread flour is an important part of baking bread because it has more gluten in the flour, and allows a better raise.  For first time bread bakers remember to follow a recipe, but understand that there is no perfect recipe for bread.  Depending on your climate you may need more water or less water, it changes from one bag of flour to the next.  This is because one shipment may have gone through the dessert, and another over the mountains. Some in plains, trains…ok I think you get the picture.  The important part to remember is that water is the variable that changes, everything else will stay the same in your kitchen!

Now on to some delicious bread with a touch of whole wheat.

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Sandwich Bread:

Yields 1 loaf

Time: 3-4 hours largely unattended

Ingredients:

16 oz of bread flour or about 3 cups

5 oz of whole wheat flour or about 1 cup

about 1 cup warm water

1 cup warm soy milk

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp vegetable shortening

Optional:

1/8 cup golden flax seeds

1/8 cup chia seeds

1 large handful of chopped walnuts

1. Combine a 1/2 cup warm (too hot of water will kill the yeast, and too cold of water won’t activate it.  Think bathwater that you have been sitting in for a bit too long) water with the yeast. Stir until combined and wait until bubbles begin to form and the mixture froths a little.  If there is no bubbling after 10 min, scratch the project and go buy new yeast.  If it activates and there are bubbles continue with the bread making process.

2. In a food processor with the dough blade attached add the flour and seeds, reserve the nuts.  Pulse a few times to incorporate the flour and seeds.  Add the yeast, turn on the motor and take the feeding tube out from the top to create an opening. Add the warm soy milk first and then add the reserved 1/2 cup water slowly until the dough forms into a ball and picks up all of the loose flour. Then add the salt and walnuts and process until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.  Open the top of the processor and make sure the dough is pliable, if hard turn on for another 30 seconds.

3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a oiled bowl to let raise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes.

4. The dough should be double in size after 90 minutes.  I don’t know about you but I find it easier to follow instruction if I can visually watch. Click here for a simple way to shape a bread loaf. Follow her instructions, but because this recipe makes one loaf you don’t need to cut the dough in half. Place the dough in a greased 2 lb loaf tin and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Preheat the oven to 425 with a oven proof dutch oven or pan on a lower shelf. Set loaf aside to rise for 1 hour or until it domes a bit above the top of the tin.

5. When the dough is ready, score the top with a serrated knife and brush with olive oil. Then place it in the oven and wearing an oven mitt, pour a cup of boiling hot water into the dutch oven. This will create steam that you want to keep in the oven so quickly close the oven door. Turn the temperature down to 375 and bake for 50 minutes.

Let cool for 20 minutes and enjoy!

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Farmer’s Market Inspired Salad

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Who doesn’t love salad? If your answer was no to that question then you haven’t been looking too hard! There are so many delicious combinations especially in the winter when all the varieties of greens are out to play a staring role in your meal!  January and February bring bountiful blood oranges to California which even a few decades were not grown Here. When Chez Panisse started a delicious revolution people began to demand that farmers grew more than just the average navel.  Blood oranges are only in season for a few months and I definitely try to get the most out of them!

In preparation for a dinner party I went down the road to my local farmers market to pick the best salad combination I could find.  I am lucky to have an amazing farmers market on hand; it is a social gathering, harvest celebration, and market all in one.  I used to get up early and go at 10:30 in the morning, but I soon realized that the deals came nearer to the close. Many stands will offer bargain bags and 1/2 off deals because anything not sold may meet its fate in a compost bin as greens surly do not last long. I now go to my local farmers market around 1, and yesterday I got out with:

2 bunches of broccoli

2 bunches of scallions

1 lb bag of salad

3 bunches of arugula

3 bunches of beets

1 bunch of parsnips

1 shallot

1/2 lb bag of walnuts

5 lb bag of blood oranges

ALL FOR $16 DOLLARS,  let me repeat that organic pesticide free produce for $16 dollars!

This salad was inspired by Alice Waters who in her simplicity creates great flavor combinations.  The arugula adds a peppery flavor to this salad, and the beets and blood oranges balance each other and lift this salad to new heights.  Add a dash of walnuts for that buttery flavor and you begin to see why eating a plant based diet is utterly delicious and healthy.

A side note on blood oranges. They are beautiful, but don’t taste much different from your average orange, I use them here merely for presentation, so if you have other oranges don’t be afraid to throw them into the mix instead!  All of these ingredients were bought that morning at my farmers market, and it really showed! The lettuces were divine with freshness, so pack your reusable bag ladies (and gentlemen) and hit your local far mar to get your seasonal salad! Don’t be afraid to scavenge and let your taste buds do the purchasing, your stomach and health will thank you!

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Blood Orange, Beet, and Walnut salad with Simple Vinaigrette 

Time: 1 hr 15 min (15 min once the beets are roasted)

serves 6

Ingredients:

3 bunches of beets in a variety of colors greens cut off

2 blood oranges supremed and sliced (see step-by-step below)

a handful of walnuts

a bag of arugula (this doesn’t have to be specific, find a ratio that works for you)

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

For the Dressing:

3 Tbsp canola or high grade olive oil

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 shallot chopped thin

a dash of blood orange zest

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the beets with tops removed in into glass baking pan, drizzle, and stir to coat with olive oil and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 40min to an hour or until a fork can be placed into the center of the beet without too much trouble.

2. Prep the blood oranges by supreming them. Here is a step-by-step of how to do so. For this salad pay attention to 1:16-1:53 of that video! 

3. Wash, dry, and cut the fresh greens into eatable pieces.

4. To make the dressing combine all ingredients and mix well.

5. Take the beets out of the oven and let cool. Then cut off a little more of the top and and place your fingers around the top and pull down to the bottom to completely remove the skin.  If this does not happen easily they probably need a bit more time in the oven.

6. Mix together all the ingredients and serve immediately!

Shadowing Simplicity in Panisse- Almond Nougatine

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I had two weeks between my trial day and official first day at Chez Panisse.  It was awesome to be back in the kitchen after a brief hiatus, and it was what I remembered and more. I started out my second day at 7:30 in the morning, the earliest I can remember waking up since Brendon and I flew to Minnesota to see his family in early December.  I will have to get used to it, though I am genuinely happy that I am waking up to do something I am passionate about and enjoy…who else gets to say that? (My mother does).

My first task with the other pastry intern I was shadowing was to slice apples for the galette of the day which made with pink lady apples and prunes.  The culinary artist sarah gave her own unique spin on the design and it reminded me in that moment that food is art.

After finishing the apples, we supremed and segmented blood oranges. Before we cut them all we always taste one first, giving it too the shift leader.  The oranges were rather bitter so we soaked them in some caramelized blood orange juice  to make them a bit sweeter.  Supreming citrus is when you take off the peel of the fruit with the knife, and segmenting is cutting out each individual segment of the orange.  The pros at Panisse make it looks very simple, but capturing a perfect sphere is a difficult task…I am sure I will be supreming often and will eventually get the hang of it.  It was then time to get the prunes, deseed them, and roughly chop them for the base of the tarts. It was an easy task and we completed it in minutes.

Next I was set to cut up Brittle for the topping of one of the desserts, I was absorbing so much information at this point that I have no idea which dessert it was to crumble upon.  As I was chopping away, a film crew from some Eastern European country entered and began to film me chopping the brittle. I surely hadn’t asked to be filmed, but I kept silent and stuck to my task…eventually they left me alone.  I am sure I will have to get used to cameras working in such a famous kitchen.  At about 11:30 we bring down one of each dessert to taste so that adjustments can be made to them before lunch begins.  I kept quiet, I am interested in their expressions and the way each pastry chef connects with the food.  Nothing is changed, and everything is impeccable.

20 cored apples, and a lot of small talk later it was time for the best part of the day. Lunch.  I ate a little of everything, chomping my way through food specifically made for the “family”. I made myself an espresso and sat outside on the steps with the other people in pastry enjoying and remembering my slice of heaven.  It behoves you to eat quickly at Chez Panisse, as there is a lot of work to get done. I am finished within 20 minutes and resume my various projects.  An hour or so later, Carrie, the head pastry chef walks in and begins checking in with her staff.  It is like a wave of calm, her demeanor and smile show she is passionate and sincere. It is a breath of fresh air as my shift is a couple hours away from being over.

Then it was time for the dreadful eggs, the task that took me an hour and a half the first day. I was immeasurably better and was able to use the shell to finished in no time at all. Whew, I am getting the hang of this all I thought to myself.

Except…has anyone ever used kumquats?  Sure we all know what they are but they have very little meat inside, and loads of seeds. My task was to cut them thinly deseeding as I went. 4 cups turned out to be what seemed the longest project of the day, and by the end my fingers burned with the acidic juice. I was ready to wash my hands of the project and end the day.  I am exhausted but excited to get up even earlier tomorrow and practice more technique. Until then, here is a simple recipe inspired by Chez Panisse.

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Almond Nougatine:

Makes 4-6 servings

10-15 minutes

5 ounces Almonds Chopped fine

5 ounces granulated sugar

a pinch of cream of tartar or a squeeze of lemon juice

canola oil

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the almonds up in to small pieces, this can be done with a lot of knife work, or in a food processor, just take care to not process too much otherwise you will end up with nut butter. Then place them in the oven on a baking tray with some parchment paper.

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2. Pour the sugar and cream of tartar of lemon juice into a saute pan and heat over medium heat. Watch the sugar, do not stir.  A hot spot will occur where the sugar will begin to turn dark. Wait until the sugar becomes dark like caramel and begin to stir the sugar until there is no more granulations.  After all syrup is a liquid and easy to work with,  turn off the heat and stir until all the granulations disappear.

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3. Stir in the almonds and work quickly to incorporate the almonds into the syrup.

4. Dump out the almonds on a well oiled counter or oiled marble slab, making sure to use a well oiled rolling pin. Roll quickly until thin as they will dry and cool in no time. Enjoy these after they are rolled, they are an easy and delicious dessert to entertain your guests…or your evening appetite!

Basically Delicious Pizza Dough

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The secret to a good pizza starts with the crust. If you can nail the crust, the rest is just toppings on the pizza. I have been working with pizza dough for quite some time, and I have learned a thing or two about how flour works from watching their reactions in pizza dough. It is the easiest thing to make at home, especially if you own a food processor or kitchen aide…if not don’t let that deter you from making your own dough! It is so worth it you will forget the work right when the pizza hits your lips.

Basically Delicious Pizza Dough:

Makes 1 standard pizza stone sided pizza dough

Time: 1-2 hours largely unattended

Ingredients:

20 oz of 00 flour- its an italian ground flour that works great in pizzas (found in most bulk sections like whole foods) You can also use Bread Flour to make this crust, and substitute up to 10 oz of whole wheat flour if you want a healthier crust, anymore, and your pizza won’t work out the way you want!

12 oz warm water

2 tsp salt

2 oz olive oil

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp of your favorite herbs (optional, but I love to put different herbs depending on the flavors of any given pizza)

Method:

1. Put the yeast into the warm water and mix.

2. Add the flour,salt, to the food processor and pulse several times. Then add the olive oil and place the lid back on. Through the small tube in the top, drizzle steadily the water into the hole and run the food processor till a ball forms at the side of the processor. If the ball is too sticky to the touch, add a 1/4 cup flour, if the ball is too dry add a 1/4 cup water…though this is unlikely. Pull the ball out and place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rest for 20 min-2 hours. I like to put mine in the fridge for the next day wrapped. If you choose to do this, make sure the dough comes back to room temperature before rolling our your dough.

3. To roll out your dough, place dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a circle, and then to get the edges like the pizzerias, fold in the outside of the pizza dough and press with your fingers to form a larger crust around the outside.

4. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the pizza dough on a preheated pizza stone, or on your own pizza sheet then prick with a fork. Cook until the center is browning, and the edges have a few brown spots. Pull out and add your favorite toppings! Place the pizza back in the oven and bake until the edges are golden brown.

Coconut Milk Blueberry Scones

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When I first went vegan I missed breakfast foods, it is hard to find good vegan brunch even in the san francisco/oakland vegan mecca. Peet’s, a bay area coffee shop does sell vegan scones, but they are dry and its honestly easier to make them at home and have them for the week! Thanks to coconut milk you can make 8-12 of these delicious scones to eat at your discretion. These are great with your morning cuppa and smell godly as they bake. I found this recipe on a blog called The Art of Dessert, but her dough came out very sticky compared to the pictures she was posting! I modified it by adding more flour; Don’t be afraid to be creative…but try the recipe once before you go and experiment!

Coconut Milk Blueberry Scones:

makes 8-12

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup canned coconut milk full fat unsweetened (chilled first)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dried fruit (I used dried blueberries)

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Topping:

Coconut Milk

turbinado or other raw sugar (gives a great crunch)

1. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. In a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer combine flour, sugar, baking power, and salt until combined.

2. Add the vanilla extract and then slowly pour in the coconut milk and mix until just combined.

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3. Fold in the dried fruit.

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4. Plop the sticky mess of dough onto a well floured surface and press into a 1/2 in round, the dough is done being floured when it no longer sticks to you or the counter. Cut up the round into 8-12 pieces and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking tray. These will spread a little so take care not to place right up against each other, but they won’t spread as much as cookies because the baking powder makes them raise instead of spread! Using a pastry brush spread a bit of coconut milk on them taking care to not put to much as it will slide off and burn the bottom of the scone as it bakes. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

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5. Place into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove and eat immediately…well after they cool of for a minute. Store the rest in an airtight container, they can be reheated in the oven for a minute or two, or placed in the microwave if your in a real hurry.

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And coming as soon as I can perfect the recipe: Apple Tart

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Amuse Bouche- Sweet and Sour Eggplant Soup w/ Shiitake Bacon Bits

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It is game day, and instead of feeling my incredible self that wants to get in on some spinach dip with fresh bread, I am feeling quite under the weather.  I figured it was time to pull out an appetizer that was healthy and delicious. I serve this up in small glasses as the muse for a dinner, and then keep gallons of it in the fridge to last the rest of the week.

I started out this recipe by snatching up my copy of Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.  In the first few pages she gives different vegetable stock recipes, and I personally think her Southeast Asian Stock is IT.  I used this stock as the base of this recipe, and it really gives it that asian authenticity.

I decided to use eggplant in this recipe because most people use tofu, and a lot have not ever prepared eggplant before! I am a big defender of tofu such as my Teriyaki Baked Tofu recipe, but it often becomes a crutch and I can admit I sometimes use tofu and soy too much. Eggplant is a great substitute for tofu in many recipes you will find, and I for one prefer it!

Even though I am under the weather, I am not to sick to take a shot…with the soup it should kick this cold!

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Sweet and Sour Eggplant Soup:

Makes 6-8 servings or use it as a muse and eat it the rest of the week!

For the stock:

1 onion peeled and roughly chopped

2 leeks sliced, cleaned and roughly chopped GREENS INCLUDED

1 celery roughly cut (are you getting the picture here? We are making stock so you do not need to cut things perfectly)

1 small sweet potato peeled and roughly cut

1 two-inch piece of ginger sliced into 3 pieces

3-5 cloves garlic smashed

1 lemongrass stalk cut in a couple of pieces and bruised (you can find this in the “ethic foods” isle at most grocery stores

1 shallot peeled and diced

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I use Tamari)

1 inch strip lime zest

8 Cups water

For the Soup:

SouthEast Asian Stock

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1 small head cabbage quartered and sliced thinly

2 carrots diced

1 28 oz can of tomatoes blended smooth

1/4 cup soy, tamari, or liquid aminos

1/3 c Seasoned rice vinegar

1 tsp Red Chili Flakes

Salt and Black pepper to taste

1 medium Eggplant

Garnish: 

5-6 shitake mushrooms de stemmed and sliced

2 green onions chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place all of the vegetables in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes until the stock develops some color and flavor. Drain over a bowl through a fine mesh sieve and push to extract as much of the stock as possible.

2. Meanwhile, cut an x-marks-the-spot across the eggplant and salt the eggplant. This will cause the eggplant to sweat out the bitter flavor that we don’t want to eat. Let sit for 20 minutes and then squeeze delicately to release excess moisture and pat dry with a cloth. Then cut the eggplant into cubes for the soup.

3. While the stock is being cooked and the eggplant is sweating, cut up the shiitake mushrooms. Place them on a baking tray  and mix with some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 30 min- 1 hour depending on your slices. Check every 10 minutes or so to separate them from the baking tray and mix them up. They are done when crunchy and taste of bacon. My omnivore friends agree, they really do taste like bacon.

3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 7 minutes, then add the cabbage and saute until the onion is tender. Pour in the stock and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the cabbage and eggplant are both tender.

4. Serve in small glasses or large bowls with “bacon bits” and sliced green onion. Enjoy.