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Saturday, December 27, 2014

PICS OF TWO HOLIDAY FEASTS & BEST WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR!

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My best wishes to all of my readers and friends, and I sincerely hope for a peaceful and joyful New Year for all of us!

Just a quick post today-- some photos of our Christmas Dinner and our Boxing Day (December 26th) gathering with family at my daughter Sarah's house.

VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER, 2014:
(CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER VERSION)

Our vegan friends Mike (whose partner, Fireweed, could not come due to illness), Holly, David and Tanya, and my stepson Laurence enjoyed this "Beefy" Seitan Roast" wrapped in crunchy artisan bread dough for the main dish-- I hadn't made this for quite a few years.  I'd almost forgotten how delicious it is!


"Beefy" Seitan Roast in a French Bread Crust au Jus was originally from my book "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook", but this time I used my newer version of "Beefy" Seitan Roast and my No-Knead Crusty Bread dough (and baking mehod), both from my book "World Vegan Feast". I baked it in a large pre-heated covered roasting pan at 475 degrees F for 45 minutes. The roast is pre-cooked in a very flavorful cooking broth and then thinly sliced and the slices then tied together with twine.

The crusty bread dough is rolled out fairly thin and a mixture of herbs and garlic is spread on the dough. The seitan roast is placed over the herb mixture, and then more of the garlic/herb mixture is spread on top of the roast,. The rest of the dough is pulled up and around to enclose the roast completely, placed seam-side down in the hot roasting pan, and baked until crusty and golden. After you cut the top of the bread all around with a bread knife, you can lift it off and then snip the twine and pull it out. The seitan stays moist and tender, and the herb and garlic mixture flavors the crusty bread that you pull off.

It's easy to serve, since the roast is pre-sliced.  I serve it with some of the cooking broth, thinned with a bit of water to taste and then heated (this is the "Jus") and I also thickened some of the cooking broth with some cornstarch and added some Port wine to that for a thin-ish, silky gravy.

**The leftovers make a great vegan "French Dip" sandwich!**

Rounding out the meal: (CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER VERSION)


Clockwise from the top left:

1.) Mike brought Fireweed's beautiful and delicious broccoli salad, with other fruits and vegetables and topped with pomegranate seeds, and I made simple roasted Hubbard squash slices with my homemade vegan palm-oil-free "Buttah", brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.

2.) I also made roasted German Butter potato wedges with olive oil, rosemary (from my herb garden) and Maldon flake salt.

3.) My friend Holly brought delicious vegan lemon curd tarts.

4.) David and Tanya brought some awesome homemade Dark Chocolate/Almond Butter Cups, and a luscious Arborio rice pudding, which was eaten before I could photograph it!

Yum, yum, yum!

FAMILY BOXING DAY BUFFET 2014:(CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER VERSION)
We had a lovely afternoon get-together in Courtenay, BC at my daughter's Sarah's house with Sullivans, Grogans, McKenzies, and Clarks, and dogs Phoebe and Bessie, of course! My oldest daughter Bethany came from Hornby Island with her husband Parker and my two eldest grandchildren, Levon and Savannah.  Sarah's eldest daughter Kate was home from Vancouver for a couple of weeks, and of course, her younger sisters Hannah and Cleo, as well as my son's daughter Mariah. Joining us were stepson Sean, Kate, Hannah and Cleo's Dad, Ben, and their Grampa Tony.


Clockwise from the top left:

1.) Granddaughter #5, Cleo, and the Boxing Day buffet.

2.) Tofu Pot Pie, roasted cauliflower, No-knead Bran Rolls, sauteed  Brussels sprouts, Seitan "Ham".

3.) My homemade palm-oil-free "Buttah", gravy, mashed spuds, homemade cranberry sauce, Sage, Onion and Celery Bread Stuffing, Seitan "Turkey", No-Knead Bran Rolls, roasted cauliflower, sauteed Brussels sprouts and Tofu Pot Pie.

4.) Homemade cranberry sauce, Sage, Onion and Celery Bread Stuffing, Seitan "Turkey" with gravy, No-Knead Bran Rolls, roasted cauliflower, glazed acorn squash, Tofu Pot Pie, Seitan "Ham" and sauteed Brussels sprouts at the far end.

**Oh, and I forgot to photograph the dessert table, which was consisted of my vegan Coffee Coffee Cake and Triple Ginger Espresso Cake; Sarah's Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies and Vegan Chocolate Toffee Bars; Bethany's Panetone (Italian Christmas Bread), Candy Cane Shortbread and Chocolate Chip Blondies.**

Full, and happy, tummies all around!

Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 19, 2014

SIMPLE-BUT-DELICIOUS LEEK & GIGANTE BEAN (OR WHITE BEAN) SOUP; & YUMMY VEGGIE SANDWICH ON HOMEMADE SPROUTED WHEAT BREAD

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This was our lunch the other day and you could hardly hope for a more delicious, inexpensive and healthful, even though it was made from simple ingredients and leftovers.  The soup is my rendition of an Italian soup and, in true Italian style, the flavor belies the simplicity of the few ingredients.  My husband raved over it and wants me to make it regularly.

The sandwich was made with thin slices of my second batch of homemade sprouted wheat bread made with minimal flour.  (Read about my first trial here.)  I didn't have much to make a sandwich out of, so I spread both sides the last of my homemade Okara/Cashew Ricotta (2 other vegan ricotta recipes here) and sprinkled one side with grated carrots and the other side with thinly-sliced red bell pepper.  Doesn't sound very exciting, does it?  But, surprisingly, the combination of the smooth ricotta, the crunchy fresh veggies, and the nutty sprout bread was scrumptious!

The first batch of my sprouted wheat bread included about 1 cup flour per loaf-- the rest was the ground sprouted wheat, kneaded together with the yeast, salt, etc. (no oil).  The 
loaves rose beautifully, cut well, had a lovely crumb and flavor, and looked like a "normal" loaf of homemade sandwich bread: 
1st batch of homemade sprouted with bread with minimal flour (Here's the final recipe.)
My second batch was made the same way (but I oiled everything the dough touched to avoid having a sticky mess like the first time!), except that I used only 1 cup whole wheat flour for 3 loaves.  As you can see by the photos below, it didn't rise as nicely, but it was easy to slice and smelled and tasted divine.

2nd batch of homemade sprouted wheat bread with minimal flour (but less than the 1st batch)
I want to test the sprouted wheat bread at least one more time, or until I get it to our satisfaction (so close!), before I post the recipe on this blog, but I doubt I'll get it done until January-- too many other things to do  right now! (UPDATE: Here's the recipe!) But we love it so much that we don't mind consuming the experiments!  Happy Holidays, everyone. (I will post again before Christmas.)

So here's that soup recipe:

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S SIMPLE-BUT-DELICIOUS LEEK AND GIGANTE BEAN (OR WHITE BEAN) SOUP 

Serves 4


I utilize the leek greens (which are often discarded) as well as the white part. Despite its simple ingredients, this soup is absolutely delicious and soul-satisfying!

1 lb.  leeks, cleaned
4 cups  tasty vegan broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth Base)
1/2 teaspoon  dried sage (rubbed, not powdered)
1 tablespoon  olive oil
2 cups  cooked or canned Gigante beans (giant lima beans or butter beans) OR white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, etc.)


salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Trim the roots off the leek tops and discard any tough outer leaves. Cut the leeks in half across the middle and then cut them in half lengthwise. Wash well to get any of the dirt that might be stuck between leaves, etc..  Pat dry and slice thinly (across, not lengthwise), keeping the green parts separate from the white parts.

Place the sliced leek greens in a pot with the broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

While that simmers, sauté the white leek tops and the sage in the olive oil over moderate heat until they are softened. (OR, microwave the leeks, sage and olive oil in a covered microwave-safe dish or casserole at high power for about 4 minutes.)

Rinse and drain the beans. Add the beans and sautéed leek tops mixture to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 207.2 calories; 17% calories from fat; 4.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 714.7mg sodium; 681.9mg potassium; 36.7g carbohydrates; 8.6g fiber; 8.1g sugar; 28.1g net carbs; 10.0g protein; 5.3 points.

Enjoy!




Monday, December 8, 2014

MY SECOND SPROUTED WHEAT BREAD EXPERIMENT: EASY SPROUTED WHEAT TORTILLAS (NO FLOUR)

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JAN. 2, 2015: SEE UPDATE IN RECIPE BELOW.

If you read my blog post from 1 week ago about making sprouted wheat bread, you'll know I'm experimenting with making breads from dough made from sprouted hard wheat kernels, with little or no flour.  My first loaf bread came out beautifully, but the dough was so sticky that it took me WAY too long to clean up my food processor and mixer.  I didn't know if I'd try it again (after soaking everything in warm water, it took me about 20 minutes of scrubbing to clean everything, and the sponge had to go into the garbage can!). But after I let the dough rise in an oiled bowl I found that the bowl was easy to clean, and when I cut and rolled the dough and shaped the loaves, I oiled my hands and had no problem with sticking.  So, contrary to what I was thinking while washing those sticky appliance parts that morning, I decided to try the sprout dough once again, but oiling everything the dough touches!

I did just that with this tortilla dough, and it worked like a charm! I will definitely be making these tortillas again and trying the loaf bread again.  Here's the tortilla recipe (you'll save lots of money making your own rather than buying them, and they taste so nutty and fresh):


Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S SPROUTED WHEAT TORTILLAS
Makes 6 tortillas (each about 6 1/2 inches across)


I soaked the wheat kernels in warm water from Friday night until Monday morning, changing the water a couple of times.  If your house is warmer than mine, it may take less time. The sprout should be tiny-- just a baby sprout.  It doesn't even matter if not all the kernels sprout when they soak that long.

1 cup hard wheat kernels (PS: I might try soft wheat kernels next time just to see how it works.)
UPDATE, JAN. 2, 2014:  I DID TRY IT WITH SOFT WHITE WHEAT KERNELS AND THE TORTILLAS WERE LIGHTER IN COLOR AND A LITTLE MORE FLEXIBLE.)
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak the wheat kernels in warm water in a warm spot until they just barely sprout (see text above in intro to recipe).  Drain them in a colander for about an hour before grinding.

Lightly oil all parts of the food processor which the dough will touch, including the inside of the removable blade and the underside of the lid. Add the well-drained sprouts to your food processor and add the remaining ingredients.  Grind at high speed until a dough forms (you will still see pieces of the kernels covering in the dough)



Remove the dough a form into a ball, placing it on a piece of baking parchment or a baking mat sprayed with a bit of oil.


Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (I weighed them and they weighed 2 to 2 1/8 oz.), rolling each into a ball with oiled hands.  

Heat an 8-10-inch cast iron skillet over high heat.  While it heats, carefully roll out one tortilla with an oiled rolling pin to about 6 1/2-inches across.  When the pan is hot, carefully loosen the edges of the tortilla with a bench knife, slide your hand under the parchment and use it to carry the tortilla to the pan,  Turn it upside down, carefully easing the tortilla into the pan in one piece.  (It may take a bit of practice if you are new at this!)  Turn the heat down to medium-high.  Cover and cook until the dough is golden brown with a few darker spots on the bottom,  Loosen with a spatula and turn over.  Cook until the other side is done.  Transfer to an open paper bag placed on a rack.


While the 1st tortilla cooks, you can roll out the next one.  The timing worked well for me.  Eat immediately, or cool in the paper bag and then transfer to a zipper-lock bag.  If you can't eat them all by the next day, freeze the leftovers.

Enjoy!



Saturday, December 6, 2014

MY FAVORITE VEGAN BORSCHT

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When I published my last post on sprouted wheat bread, I promised to post this soup recipe (it's a little late, I'm afraid!).  This soup has a pretty long history in my life.  Many years ago I read a cookbook by a Russian woman who lived in the United States.  I liked her Borscht recipe very much.  She claimed that it was given to her by someone who had been in the Tsar's army-- thus the name.  Now, this was in my pre-vegetarian days and the soup included beef.  Eventually, in the 1970's, I became more interested in eating vegetarian and I revamped the recipe in a very simple way-- using soy sauce to "beef" up the meatless broth (this was in the days when vegetarian bouillons were not so readily available) and adding 1/2 cup of red split lentils to add protein and body to the soup. I included this recipe in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook".

I hadn't changed anything in this recipe since I first "veganized" it, until I made it the other day, when I decided to increase the amount of red split lentils to 1 cup, and I cooked it in my electric pressure cooker, for a change.  It is still as delicious as ever and so simple to make.  Here's the re-vamped recipe, and I hope you like it as much as we do-- it's great for winter meals.

BRYANNA'S MEATLESS “TSAR'S ARMY” BORSCHT
Serves 8   (Can be oil-free)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil (optional)         
1/2 tablespoon dark sesame oil (optional)          
2 large onions, sliced 
2 cloves garlic, chopped        
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves          
8 cups water   
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes and juice (OR about 3/4 cup passata)   
1/2 small head cabbage, cored and shredded or sliced finely (about 4 cups)    
2 beets (fist-size), peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 cup split red lentils 
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari (NOT Bragg's Liquid Aminos-- it doesn't have the umami punch of fermented soy sauce or tamari.)
Finishing:
1 small raw beet, peeled and grated  
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

If you use the oils: Add the two oils to your soup pot over high heat. Add the onions, garlic and celery. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion softens a bit. If you prefer not to use oil: place the onion, garlic and celery in a Pyrex or ceramic casserole, cover and microwave on high for 6 minutes.  Add to your soup pot.
Add the water, tomatoes, cabbage, diced beets, soy sauce and lentils. Bring to a boil, turn to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, OR pressure-cook for 45 minutes, using quick-release when it's done. Add the grated raw beets (which brings back the pinky-red color to the soup) and taste for salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Serve with vegan sour cream, store-bought, or try recipe for Tofu Sour Cream.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, using oil in recipe): 174.9 calories; 12% calories from fat; 2.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 701.6mg sodium; 716.9mg potassium; 31.5g carbohydrates; 7.2g fiber; 9.8g sugar; 24.3g net carbs; 9.5g protein.

Enjoy!


Monday, December 1, 2014

TEASER ABOUT SUCCESSFUL SPROUTED WHEAT BREAD (MINIMAL FLOUR)

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This is going to be a short post with no recipe (YET!).  I promise to post a great soup recipe in the next two days to make up for this!  But I just had to post the photos of an experiment I did today (started several days ago).

I prefer not to buy sprouted wheat flour-- it's very expensive.  And, in any case, we grind our whole wheat flour, so we have lots of wheat kernels in the house at all times.  So,. because I am interested in bread with a lower glycemic index rating (which may have a positive influence on my husband's triglyceride levels-- sourdough breads are lower on the glycemic index, too ), I did some research on making yeasted sprouted wheat breads with no flour or minimal flour. ("Since particle size influences the glycemic index (the smaller the size the higher the glycemic index), bread made from grain kernels have been shown to be lower GI. Not yet tested but probable, bread made from sprouted grains can be expected to have a similar effect." From http://tinyurl.com/ywve7)  I found one recipe that looked like the type of bread we are used to-- nicely risen, not flat and brick-like.

So, I placed 6 cups of hard wheat kernels in a bowl of warm water to soak and eventually sprout. The sprout is supposed to be tiny.  Unfortunately, our weather is quite cold right now, so it took about 3 days for them to sprout at all-- some didn't.  But I have to go to work tomorrow, so today was now or never.

I took the advice of the blogger in the link above and ground the kernels in my food processor (but I did it in 3 batches). I don't think I drained the kernels sufficiently, though, because the "dough" seemed very wet.  I ended up adding 3 cups of whole wheat flour while kneading in my Bosch mixer for 10 minutes.  It also felt like a lot more dough than two loaves worth, so I added another 1/2 tablespoon salt.  I used 1/3 cup brown sugar. Instead of the 2 loaves mentioned in the recipe, I ended up with dough for 3 loaves, 1 lb., 12 oz. each, plus 9 ounces more, which I used to make 3 flatbreads in a cast iron frying pan on the stovetop. ** Next time I'll drain the kernels for an hour or so before grinding and I hope that will preclude the need for any flour.  And it will probably mean that I won't have 9 oz. extra to deal with (I hope!).**

As you can see by the photos above and below, the recipe was a success-- dough was easy to handle and rose beautifully, baked up nice and crusty (I used my husband's baking method-- 5 minutes at 485 degrees F and 25 more at 375), tastes great, smells heavenly (kind of nutty) and the crumb is lovely. It makes delicious toast!


THE PROBLEM:
But the thing that was NOT so positive was that when I removed the initial ground sprout mixture from the food processor and the kneaded dough from the mixer bowl, I was left with a thin coating of sticky dough that stuck like glue, particularly to the blade (inside and out) of the processor.  After soaking everything in warm water, it took me about 20 minutes of scrubbing to clean everything, and the sponge had to go into the garbage can.

I let the dough rise in an oiled bowl and that bowl was easy to clean (thank goodness!).  When I cut and rolled the dough and shaped the loaves, I oiled my hands and had no problem with sticking. When I rolled out the flatbreads I oiled the counter a little and they rolled out just fine-- no flour needed.

So, contrary to what I was thinking while washing those sticky appliance parts this morning, I WILL try this once again, but I plan to oil everything the dough touches!  I am hoping that this will make cleaning much easier.  So, I will post again when I do the second trial!  Stay tuned!



'Til next time!