a fellow veggie blog in wisconsin!

I found this blog while searching for a seitan bacon recipe, and I’m quite excited by all the bread baking and such happening over there. Check it out: a pocket full of yeast

I’ll update my experience with the bacon, but given that most of my readership will be eating it tomorrow, you’ll know how it turns out.

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black bean soup

Black bean soup recipes can be found across my cookbooks, but I have yet to find one as satisfying as this one, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. She says this version hails from Costa Rica, and that it is delicious with an egg poached into it.

The key to the extraordinary flavor of this recipe is the specific aromatics cooked with the beans. Although we generally make all our beans from dried ones to save money, reduce environmental impact, and reduce our bpa exposure – not to mention the better flavor and texture – I can’t stress enough the difference it makes for this recipe.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
For boiling the beans:
-2 cps dried black beans, washed and picked over
-5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
-1/2 large bell pepper, diced
-6 tb chopped cilantro
-2 tsp salt

For the soup:
-3 tb olive oil
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-2 medium onions, chopped
-1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
-2 celery stalks, diced
-2 well-packed cups of chopped cilantro
-1 tsp salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne

Optional garnishes:
-3 tb heavy cream
-3 tb sour cream or plain yogurt
-1 tb chopped cilantro
-1 tb canned chipotle peppers or hot sauce
-dash of salt

1. If you remember the night before, soak the beans in water to cover by 5 inches. This reduces the cooking time.
2. Drain the beans, combine in a pot or pressure cooker with 8-9 cups of fresh water. Add all bean ingredients – EXCEPT SALT – to the pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender. Depending on whether you soaked the beans, the hardness of your water, and the age of the beans, this might take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker, it’s about 12 minutes. Add the salt, stir, and cook until very tender – 15 minutes in a pot, or just a few minutes in a pressure cooker. Strain, reserving the liquid and beans in separate bowls.
3. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, bell pepper, jalapeno, and celery, and saute until soft.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cilantro, saute for another minute, and turn the heat off. Add 1 cp of beans and 2 cups of bean liquid and blend either with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Heat back up in the pot with the rest of the beans, bean liquid, salt, pepper to taste, and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top with garnishes.

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coconut sticky rice with mango

Yum! This is my favorite dessert in the world. In fact, I made an entire dinner of curry and sticky rice just so I could justify this dessert. I generally see it at Thai restaurants, and I have no idea if I’m making it authentically, but this is the way I like it:

Serves 4

Ingredients:
– 2 cups cooked Thai sticky rice (see below)
– 1-2 mangoes, depending how much you want
– pinch of salt
– 1 tb sugar
– 2 cups coconut milk
– optional garnishes: roasted sesame seeds (the black ones look pretty on it, though in this photo they kind of look like bugs), mint leaves, basil leaves

1. Cook the sticky rice: I’ve described the rice a bit better in my previous post. Basically, you need to soak it overnight, or early morning before the night you cook it, with plenty of cold water to cover. If it’s quite hot in your house, you might need to set it in the refrigerator to make sure nothing ferments – especially if you are prone to forgetting about it for over a day like I have… Then, drain the rice and set in a cheese-cloth-lined sticky-rice steamer basket. Drape extra cheesecloth over the top of the rice so that you will be able to turn the whole thing later. Boil about 2 inches of water in the pot, set the basket over the water, and put a lid over it. Turn the heat down to a simmer. After 10 minutes, take the lid off, pull the basket out of the pot, and flip the rice. You’ll be able to do this by shaking the bamboo piece a few times. Put the steamer back over the pot with the lid on it, and cook for another 10-20 minutes, tasting for doneness. It should be firm but not crunchy. Empty the rice into a bowl.

2. Peel and slice the mango, being careful of the pit.

3. Heat the coconut milk with the sugar and salt just until the grains of salt and sugar dissolve. Pour this over the rice and stir gently. Place about 1/2 cup of rice on each plate, top with mango and garnishes. Enjoy!

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curried eggplant with potatoes

I’ll be honest here. The reason I decided to make a Thai-inspired curry dish was because I really wanted to make coconut sticky rice. Regardless, this recipe, which I based very loosely on a recipe in Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, turned out very well. The eggplant gets very tender, the potatoes keep a bit of bite to them, and the coconut milk/lime juice combination is bright and rich at the same time.

This is pretty easy to make, but does require a bit over 30 minutes of rather frequent stirring. The total time is about 45 minutes if you don’t have to salt the eggplant, or an hour and fifteen minutes if you do.

I highly recommend serving this with true Thai sticky rice (aka Thai glutinous rice or Thai sweet rice – it looks like long grains of a bright white, opaque rice), which requires an overnight soak and then steaming in a special bamboo steamer (cost me about $10 for the steaming kit at a pan-Asian grocery store). The dish will go well with other rice too, but I love this stuff. The grains stick only to themselves, not to your fingers or the plate, and they maintain a firm structure when cooked. It’s fun – and apparently traditional – to take a little scoop of rice in your hand, flatten it a bit, and use it to pick up pieces of other foods. The best part, however, is that you can make coconut sticky rice with mango for dessert!

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
– 1 lb eggplant
– 1 lb potatoes
– 1 tb + 1 tsp garlic, minced
– 2 tb ginger, minced
– 2 tsp curry paste/curry powder, or to taste
– 3 tb canola oil or peanut oil
– salt
– 1/2 – 1 lime
– 1 cp coconut milk
– cilantro for garnish

1. Chop the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. If it’s not straight from the garden or not very small, sprinkle with salt, let sit for 30 min, and sop up the liquid with a paper towel (this will get rid of any bitterness of large or older eggplants).
2. Dice the potato into smaller pieces than the eggplant.
3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add 1 tb of garlic, the ginger, and the curry paste. Saute for a few minutes, but don’t let the garlic brown.
4. Add the potatoes, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggplant, continuing to stir constantly for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant has released enough of its own liquid to not be stirred so much. Add little bits of water if it sticks, deglazing the little bits on the bottom.
6. Continue to cook, stirring every few minutes, until the eggplant is quite tender and the potatoes are cooked through.
7. Add salt to taste, the coconut milk, and the lime juice to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the eggplant is quite soft and stew-ish.
8. Stir in the remaining 1 tsp of garlic. Taste again to adjust seasoning, and serve garnished with the cilantro.

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spanakopita

When I was growing up in Philadelphia, we’d frequently go to this Greek restaurant on South Street (back before it was basically just a mall of condom shops and fast food). As I began to lean vegetarian, I realized that spanakopita is one of my favorite foods. How much better of a combination can you get than spinach, feta, dill, and phyllo dough? It’s great for entertaining, not only because I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like it, but also because it sits in the fridge and then bakes, giving you time to hang out with guests and not worry about the food.

I continue to make the recipe in the Joy of Cooking, though I adapt it a bit. It serves about 10 people as the main dish with a side, or about 30 people if you are serving it more traditionally as a snack food or side dish.

Also, when I made this for a potluck this week, I tried to save money by buying the fresh, unwashed spinach at the coop rather than the pre-washed spinach salad mix. Although this saved me $10, I have to say that next time, I will likely pay the extra $10 for the savings in time. I know this time of year produce tends to be dirtier, but this was a ridiculous amount of water and time.

Ingredients:
-2-3 lbs spinach, stemmed, washed, and chopped coarsely
-2 tb olive oil
-1 very large onion, diced
-5 scallions, sliced thinly into rounds
-some combination of, or only one of: 1/3 cp fresh dill, mint, and/or parsley
-5 large eggs (I would think egg replacer is your best bet if you are making a vegan version)
-8 oz feta, crumbled (or mock feta for a vegan version)
-2 tb freshly grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast for the vegan version)
-1/2 tsp salt
-several grinds of black pepper
-pinch of ground or grated nutmeg
-1 stick + 2 tb butter (or buttery stick for vegan version)
-1 lb box of phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onions and scallions until they become soft and  bit translucent. Add the spinach a handful at a time, and cook until the spinach wilts and the liquid is released into the pot, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and cook off the water while stirring the spinach. I cheated a bit a ladled out the liquid (if you want a nutritious broth, drink this!).

2. Turn off the heat and add the fresh herbs. Pour into a colander until cool, and press the spinach against the sides of the colander to get the mixture as dry as possible.

3. While the spinach cooks and cools, beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the (cool) spinach, feta, parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir.

4. Oil a 13 x 9 baking pan with vegetable oil.

5. Melt the butter.

6. On a clean, dry work surface, unroll the phyllo dough. Working quickly so as not to dry it out, use a sharp knife to rim off an inch from every side of the phyllo. Cover with a clean, dry dish-towel, and cover that towel with a clean, damp dishtowel. Have your butter ready with a brush, and the bowl of spinach mixture ready as well. I like to have a helper with me, lifting the towels while I try to pull off each sheet of phyllo dough without tearing it.

7. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough carefully in the baking pan, letting it come up on the sides (the extra will later be rolled over as a rim of crispy phyllo). Brush lightly with butter all over. Lay 7 more sheets down over it, one at a time, brushing with butter (and keeping the stack of unused dough covered as much as possible. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the 8th layer of dough, and then layer 8 more sheets on top of it – again, one at a time, brushing each with butter. Remember to butter the top sheet as well! Fold over the extra phyllo dough around the border to create a little rim.

8. With a thin, sharp knife, cut the spanakopita into the desired number of pieces – but do NOT cut all the way to the bottom! You want your knife to just hit the spinach layer, or else the filling will leak all over the pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven the 375 degrees F.

9. Bake the spanakopita for about 45 minutes, until it is crisp and golden. Let stand out of the oven for a few minutes, and then use a knife to cut the pieces down to the bottom of the pan and serve.

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hummus pizza

Pizza is such an easy thing to make – I spend 10 minutes mixing the dough the night before, take it out of the fridge around 5, mess with it for a few minutes at 5:45 and again at 6:30, and then bake it for 10 minutes around 7:15. So, it requires some planning, but not much actual work time. I think I’ve made it for a lot of guests so frequently, however, that I think of it as a big production. When just Nick and I make it for ourselves, it’s one of the fastest meals we make. We planned on making pizza, but totally forgot to get ingredients for sauce or cheese. We did, however, have some freshly homemade hummus around, and some feta, so I thought I would try a little experiment.

After par-baking the crust from my favorite pizza recipe, I mixed an extra tb of olive oil into my usual hummus recipe, chopped up some sun-dried tomatoes that I reconstituted in boiling red wine, and looked for anything else in the fridge that would work. So, we topped it with a layer of hummus, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, olives, and hot pepper flakes. It made for a healthy, easy, and tasty meal. Considering the low fat content, the protein of the hummus helped make it more satiating. Yum!

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bagels

I grew up in Philadelphia, with easy access to some amazing bagels at Rolings, leaving me disappointed at my options in rural New Mexico and even in Madison, WI. This left me with no choice but to try to bake my own. I find them a bit onerous to make, but as long as I only make a single batch, or half batch, they’re not bad at all. I make them on the chewy side, but you can incorporate a bit less flour if you want them lighter.

Makes 10 bagels.

Ingredients:

Dough starter:
-1 tsp instant yeast
-2 1/4 cps water at room temperature
-3 cps high gluten flour or bread flour (you can make it yourself by using a cup of all-purpose flour with a teaspoon of wheat gluten stirred in)

Flour mixture:
-2 1/3 cups high gluten or bread flour
-1 tsp instant yeast
-1  tb malt powder or barley malt syrup
-1 tb sugar
-1 tb salt
-1 tsp ground black pepper

Water bath:
-2 tb molasses or sugar
-1 tsp baking soda

Glaze and toppings:
– 2 large egg whites
-1 tsp cold water
– 3 to 4 tb of whichever topping you want: poppy, sesame, or caraway seeds, kosher salt, minced onions sauteed in vegetable oil, minced garlic

1. Make the sponge:
Put sponge ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisk for 2 minutes (until very smooth), and scrape down the sides. Cover the bowl while you make the flour mixture.

2. Make the flour mixture:
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour mixture ingredients. sprinkle lightly over the sponge and do NOT stir. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid, and let stand for 1-4 hour at room temperature, or for best flavor development, 1 hour at room temperature and 8-24 hours refrigerated. If you take the latter option, let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding. Note that the sponge will bubble up through the flour mixture in some spots – this is expected.

3. Mix the dough:
Use a wooden spoon or your hand to mix the flour and sponge until too stiff  to mix. Knead the dough in a bowl until it comes together, then scrape onto a lightly floured counter. Knead for 5 minutes to begin to develop the gluten structure, using a bench scraper or metal spatula to scrape dough off the counter while you knead. It will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes (this will make it a bit less sticky).
Knead the dough for 10-15 min more, or until it is very smooth and elastic. It should be slightly sticky to the touch.

4. Let the dough rise:
Place the dough in a 4-quart container, lightly greased with oil. Press the dough down and lightly oil the top. Cover the container tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature until doubled, 1-2 hours.
Deflate the dough by gently pushing it down into a rough rectangle. Then fold the dough like a tri-fold paper in an envelope, then fold that longer, skinnier rectangle like a trifold paper again. Put it back in the container, lightly oil the top, and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days – the longer you wait, the more lovely fermented flavor the bagels will have.

5. Shape the dough and let it rise:
Set a piece of parchment or lightly floured towel on a countertop near the stove. Transfer the dough to an unfloured counter. Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces, and let it rest for 10 minutes. As you shape the bagels, work with only one piece at a time while keeping the other pieces covered. Place each piece on the parchment or floured towel and cover with a second towel or oiled plastic wrap.

Shaping method:

a) draw up the sides of the dough and pinch them together tightly to form a round ball.
b) turn it over so the pinched side is on the bottom.
c) stick your index finger all the way through the center of the ball to make a hole.
d) hook the bagel over your thumb and insert the index finger of your other hand into the hole, stretching and rotating it to make a hole about 2.5 inches in diameter.

6. Let the bagels rise for about 15 minutes, or until they puff slightly.

7. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F about 30 minutes before you want to bake. Place the oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.

8. Boil the bagels:
As you finish boiling the bagels, you’re going to place them either on a baking sheet with seeds scattered on it, or, if you aren’t using seeds, back on the parchment or floured towel. Then, you’ll transfer to a baking sheet or to a peel if you’re going to transfer them to a baking stone in the oven. Prepare a baking sheet with a light coat of oil.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in the molasses (or sugar) and baking soda, and bring back to a boil. With a skimmer, transfer the bagels, one at a time, to the boiling water, without crowding them. You’ll probably only fit 2 or 3 at a time. You don’t want them to touch. Boil for two minutes or less (less for thinner-skinned bagels), gently flipping them over with the skimmer and boiling for two minutes or less on the other side. Remove the boiled bagels, shaking off excess water and set onto the parchment/towel/seed-covered sheet, and then move them to the oiled baking sheet or peel. Don’t worry that the bagels look wrinkled – they’re smooth out when you bake them.

9. Glaze the bagels:
Whisk together the egg whites and cold water, and pass through a sieve into a bowl. Brush only the top side with the glaze – but don’t let it get on the bottom or the bagels will be glued down when they bake. Sprinkle with toppings.

10. Bake the bagels, either on the sheet or directly on the stone, in batches if needed. Bake for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat to 450 degrees F. Bake the bagels for 20 more minutes. Turn off the oven, without opening the door, and let the bagels remain for 5 more minutes. Then open the oven door and leave the bagels in the oven for 5 more minutes.

11. Cool the bagels:
Remember that cooling is part of the baking process – if you can’t resist the temptation, the bagels will be gummy.

Eat the bagels within 1 day, stored in a paper bag. They really don’t last long otherwise, unless you put them in freezer bags – and then you can store them for up to a month. Thaw at room temperature.

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