Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pretzel Buns

With the new school year ready to start in just over two weeks, it's time to get serious about baking for lunches. Of course, with two weeks of summer still left why not bake something that can also  help you get the most out of the waning BBQ season? These pretzel buns are perfect for a veggie burger, tofu salad, or my summertime favourite: tomato and cucumber. The dough recipe is more or less Peter Reinhart's but I have altered the method so the end product has that deep brown pretzel colour but it still soft enough to function as a bun.

Makes 12 buns
- 31.5 oz (6 3/4 cups) white bread flour
- 16.5 g (generous 2 1/2 tsp) salt
- 5 g (1 1/2 tsp) instant yeast
- 18 fl. oz (2 1/4 cups) lukewarm water
- 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) oil

Poaching Liquid
- 16 fl. oz (2 cups) water
- 2 oz (8 tsp) baking soda

- aquafaba for brushing
- sesame seeds

1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a bowl. Bring together into a rough ball and let sit for 5 minutes. Knead (either by hand or a machine) until dough is smooth but slightly tacky (about 5 mins).  Add water or flour as needed).
2. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch dough down, knead lightly for a minute, reshape into a ball and let rise in the covered bowl for another hour (or until doubled).
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil.
4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shapes into boules.
5. Roll each boule into a rope about 12 to 14 inches long. Shape into buns per the pictures below.
a) Grab the rope with your left hand about 1/3 of the way up, with your right hand at the opposing end.
b) Use your right hand to make a knot in the dough where your left hand is positioned. Use the fingers of your left hand to keep the knot open. 
c) Tuck the end in your right hand under and through the hole (at 4:00 if the bun was a clock).
d) Tuck the end in your left hand over and through the hole (at 7:00) to the back of the bun. Use the end that was formerly in your right hand to close the hole.

6. Mist the top of the buns with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 mins, until swelled but not doubled.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
8. Prepare the poaching liquid: in a large pot bring the water to simmer. You want about 1.5 inches of water it the pot, so adjust the amount above as needed. Make sure to increase the baking soda the same amount. When water is simmering mix in the baking soda and stir to dissolve.
9. Poach the buns (working in batches as your pot will allow) for 30-60 seconds each side, placing the top side in first. Remove with a slotted spoon back to the prepared baking sheet.
10. Brush each bun lightly with aquafaba and top with sesame seeds.
11. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point.
12. Let fully cool on a wire rack.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Blended Mocha Iced Coffee

Just a quick post to help beat the summer (spring?) heat. A good blender is a great investment, especially when you can churn out tasty drinks like this that aren't cheap at your local coffee place (and are really mostly ice anyway). Add whatever you want to this base recipe to customize it to your liking.

Makes 2 servings
- 4 tsp instant coffee
- 4 tsp cocoa powder (I like Dutch process)
- 1 1/2 cups non dairy milk
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
- splash of vanilla extract
- 14 ice cubes (i.e. one tray)
- whipped topping (optional)

1. Place all ingredients except the whipped topping in the blender and blend on high until smooth.
2. Top with whipped topping, if desired. I like the "Better than Whipping Cream" from Homemade Vegan Pantry. That stuff is some serious vegan voodoo.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Umami Burgers

These burgers came about from trying to use up the cans of chickpeas in my fridge from making batch after batch of Lemon Meringue Tarts. I first turned to my three go to sources of umami: tomatoes, soy sauce, and mushrooms. For texture, I used barley (like my Tourtière recipe). The end result is a durable (i.e. grillable) and non-mushy burger with plenty of flavour. These burgers freeze well (just thaw them before grilling) and when cooked keep well in the fridge. They taste good cold, or microwaved a few days later. The kids love them for lunch so I grill them up on Sunday and they take them to school throughout the week.

Makes 12 burgers
- 1/2 cup pot barley, cooked (in veggie broth or beer) until soft (about 30 mins), cooled
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 celery rib, minced
- 3 cups chopped cremini mushrooms (about 8 oz/227g)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice, ground
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup instant oatmeal
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup instant tapioca
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (i.e. day old bread ground up in a food processor)
- seasoned salt and black pepper to taste

1. Cook the barley until tender, drain, then set aside to cool in a large bowl.
2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and celery for 5-7 mins, until soft and onion is translucent.
3. Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 mins, until mushrooms have released their water and have cooked down a little.
4. Remove from heat and add to the barley. Mix well.
5. Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor. Be careful not to make them into a paste.
6. Add the pulsed chickpeas to the bowl, along with the tomato paste, soy sauce, spices, nutritional yeast, oatmeal, flour, and tapioca. Use a wooden spoon to mix well.
7. Add the fresh bread crumbs and mix well. Season to taste.
8. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a silicone spatula, press the mixture into a crumpet ring (or what have you) to make 12 burgers on the prepared baking sheet.
10. The burgers are more durable when they are cool. Slide the baking sheet into the freezer while you fire up the grill.
11. Grill on a med to med-lo grill (around 400-425 degrees) for about 5 mins per side (so keep the heat moderate so the outside does not burn before the inside cooks). Brush the grill and the burgers with oil to keep them from sticking. The burgers should be firm to the touch and not mushy when they are done.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sloppy Joes

I've done a few versions of Sloppy Joes but the kids never really liked any of them. This recipe is a nice compromise--some lentils, some mushrooms, some veggie ground round--that we all love.

- 1/3 cup brown lentils, cooked
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 celery ribs, minced
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 3 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 pkg veggie ground round (340g)
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 5.5oz can tomato paste
- 11 oz (i.e. 2 cans) water
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice, ground
- Tabasco sauce or Sriracha to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste

1. Cook the lentils until soft but not mushy, about 25 mins.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, celery, garlic, and green pepper for 5-7 mins, until soft and onions are translucent.
3. Add mushrooms and oregano and cook for another 5-7 mins, until mushrooms have released their water cooked down a bit.
4. Add the lentils and the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 mins. If too runny for your liking, simmer with the lid off.
5. Serve on toasted buns (I like them open faced).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lemon Meringue Pie

I know I am late to the aquafaba/vegan meringue party, but better late than never I suppose. The issue was that I was never able to get the aquafaba to beat into stiff peaks and so I stopped experimenting months ago. Even after endless whisking on high in the KitchenAid, very soft peaks was the best I could get. And then I recently happened upon recipes that use xanthan gum. Problem solved! Perfect peaks every time (and I wonder if you could cut it down to 1/4 tsp for this recipe). Lemon Meringue Pie is one of Vegan Mom's favourites (and we have not eaten it for over 10 years) so I was happy to be able to take her down culinary memory lane. The filling is tangy and sweet, and firm without being rubbery. The meringue is some serious vegan magic.

The filling calls for both corn starch (white) and corn flour (yellow). This may cause some confusion because what the Brits call corn flour, Americans/Canadians call corn starch.

This recipe makes one big 10" pie or, as I found out tonight in preparing for a departmental party, 45 tarts.

- 1 10" pre-baked pie crust

- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/4 cup corn flour
- generous 1/2 tsp agar powder
- 2 cups + 3 tbsp (17.5 oz) white sugar
- 1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (15 oz) water
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 cup soy milk

- 3/4 cup salt free chickpea aquafaba
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 7.5 tbsp (5 oz) superfine white sugar

Bake your shell per whatever recipe you are using. It is best if the crust is slightly underdone since you will be baking the assembled pie. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Whisk the corn starch, corn flour, agar, and sugar together in a saucepan. Whisk in water, lemon juice, and zest, then whisk in soy milk.
2. Bring to bubbling over medium high, stirring constantly. When bubbling, reduce heat to med-lo and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Immediately pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and set aside to start cooling. The filling will be a bit runny, but it will set in the fridge.
4. Make the meringue: whisk the xanthan gum into the aquafaba, then place in a stand mixer and whisk on high with a balloon whisk until stiff peak form.
5. Whisk in the 1 tbsp of lemon juice, then whisk in the sugar a bit at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly.
6. When the sugar is incorporated and the meringue is no longer gritty, gently spread the meringue over the pie filling. The filling will be wobbly, so be gentle (or pipe the meringue on).
7. Bake at 375 for 8 to 12 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned (or browned to your liking). I like to use convection for this step.
8. Let the pie cool for an hour, then transfer to the fridge. When pie is cool, put in a container in the fridge and completely cool (about 4 hours or up to overnight). If you are in a rush, place the cooled pie on ice packs in the fridge.