Friday, November 15, 2013

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Beet Black Bread

I've barely posted since the last Virtual Vegan Potluck, but having let Vegan Mofo come and go with nary a blog entry, I wasn't about to let the potluck pass me by as well. (Especially when I learned that beets would be the featured ingredient.  As the random red stains around my kitchen will attest, I adore beets.)  My life has been busy in the most delightful way, and the last few months for me have involved lots of time spent introducing my nine-month old daughter to as many flavors and textures of food as I can come up with.  So far she has yet to meet any flavors she doesn't like, though curry took a couple tries before she decided it was okay.  But enough about me, lets talk about this beautiful hunk I've been cavorting with:

This was my first time making black bread, but I figured matching beets with rye and carraway couldn't go too wrong.  (Possibly I should have called it red bread, but while I don't mind alliterative food, rhyming food seems like a bit much.)  Be warned that this recipe makes a massive loaf, good for sharing with a holiday crowd, but potentially dangerous if you decide to scarf it all down yourself.  I served the bread slathered in vegan cream cheese, topped with shredded beets and a sprig of dill, and I highly recommend you try it that way, too.

The Ingredients:
1 1/3 c water
1/4 c molasses
2 1/2 t dry active yeast
2 c grated beets
3 T cocoa powder
3 T oil
2 T very finely ground espresso beans
2 T carraway seeds
2 1/2 t salt
about 2 1/4 c rye flour
about 4 c all purpose flour

about 1 T soy milk, 1 T flour, and 1 t carraway seeds for topping

The Process:
  1. Heat water until very hot. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk molasses into water until molasses is completely melted. At this point, the water should be warm but not scalding hot. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for flours, then stir in about 3/4 of the flour. When dough gets too thick to stir, either use the dough hook of a stand mixer or turn it onto a floured countertop and knead with floured hands. Add remaining flour as needed to form a tacky but workable dough. Continue to knead until dough is springy and elastic, about 5 minutes with a mixer or 10 minutes by hand.
  3. Form dough into a ball, coat with oil, and set in a covered bowl in a warm location to rise until  doubled, about 1.5 to 2 hours.
  4. Gently punch down dough, and shape it into a round loaf. Place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet, cover loosely, and let rise until not quite doubled again, about 1 hour. 
  5. Preheat oven to 425°. Brush loaf with soy milk, sprinkle with flour and carraway seeds, then slice an "X" into the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife, being careful not to deflate the dough. 
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for about 30 minutes. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200°. If you don't have a thermometer, cook until the bottom crust is dark brown and the loaf has a hollow sound when you knock on it.
  7. Let cool before slicing, if you can stand the wait.

Use the links below to continue on to see more of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, or go back to see any dishes you missed.
 go back to The Vegan Kat

 go forward to Gormandize

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grilled cookies

In case you've been living in the dark as I was until recently, allow me to inform you change your life with the stunning revelation that you can make cookies on the grill. Now what are you waiting for?

You can use this method with pretty much any cookie recipe. Choose a recipe and heat your grill, covered, to whatever temperature your recipe calls for.  (I find that most call for 350 degrees.  On my gas grill, having the burners all set at medium does the trick, but a thermometer is a good idea if you have one.) Place the cookie dough on a sheet of foil on the grill grate, then cover, watch, and wait until they're done.  The bottoms will cook faster than they do in an oven since all the heat is coming from below, so the cookies get nice crisp bottoms and are still soft and gooey on the inside. Works for me.  Now get to it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grilled Romaine, Couscous, and Garlic Salad

I've been eyeing grilled romaine recipes for a couple years, but kept holding off on trying it.  I'm glad I finally took the plunge.  I paired it with couscous because couscous has a short cooking time and I didn't want to add any more heat than necessary to my already sweltering house. And I added gobs of roasted garlic, because there's not much I'd rather have in my mouth than roasted garlic.

The Ingredients:
1 c whole, peeled garlic cloves
6 romaine hearts
2 c uncooked couscous
2 c cooked garbanzo beans
2/3 c pitted calamata olives, finely chopped
1/3 c + 1 t olive oil
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1 T tarragon
salt to taste

The Process:

  1. Drizzle garlic with 1 t olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Wrap in a square of aluminum foil, and grill, covered, on medium heat (about 375 degrees) for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tarragon, and a pinch of salt to make a vinaigrette. (I like to put it in a mason jar and shake it until it emulsifies.)
  3. Trim the floppy tops (about 1-2 inches) off the romaine hearts and save them for another purpose. Also trim away any brown parts of the stem end, but leave enough stem for the heads to hold together.
  4. Cook couscous according to package directions, and set aside.
  5. Once the garlic has cooked for 20 minutes, check to see if it is completely softened.  If not, cook it a little longer.  As garlic finishes cooking, cook the romaine: brush each head with vinaigrette, raise the heat on the grill to high, and cook (with the lid of the grill open) for a couple minutes per side, until the edges are brown and slightly wilted.
  6. Toss together couscous, garbanzos, olives, garlic, and any leftover vinaigrette.
  7. Slice romaine, and serve the couscous on top of the sliced romaine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Goodbye, Jasper

A few days ago, my dog died.  It was fast and unexpected, and I’ll never know what caused it.  I was stroking his ears and telling him I loved him as he took his last breaths.  He was not quite 6 years old.  Mostly, people are kind.  They say, “How sad.”  They say, “I ’m sorry for your loss.”  This terminology has been bothering me, loss.  I did not lose Jasper.  I did not misplace him like a cell phone, he did not slip off unnoticed like a loose earring backing, and no matter how hard I look I will not find him.  But this morning on my run, while my baby daughter grinned at me and batted her gorgeous eyelashes, I bawled.  Because the truth is, it is a loss, and the truth is, on these neighborhood streets where he loved to run and, later, when his arthritis started to get the best of him, to slowly stroll and always, always, sniff, I look for him everywhere.    I look for him when I see a discarded sandwich wrapper on the sidewalk, which would have been a gourmet feast for his nose, and when I run past the corner lot where I always had to tug his leash because he would have stayed and smelled the frequently-peed-upon bushes all day long if I’d let him.  When I get home, I look for him out the kitchen window as I wash dishes.  He is not in his sleeping spot by the back steps.  He is not sneaking past the fence to lie in my garden bed.  What I wouldn’t give to see him crushing my garden, which I yelled at him for a few short hours before he died.

Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend.  I am not a man, and he was not my best friend, though he may well have been my husband’s.  I have been told many times in the past few days what a good dog he was, and I have said it myself.  But he was not my best friend, and quite often he was not a good dog, and I did not enjoy every moment I had with him.  He was loyal and sweet and friendly, sure.  He was affectionate to a fault.  He played well with kids and with other dogs.  He was also 135 pounds of stubborn will.  He pulled on his leash so much I was often afraid to walk him.  His barks resounded through the neighborhood at inopportune times.  He knew how to sit and stay and be quiet, but he made calculated decisions as to when he was willing to do so.  He irritated me and got underfoot and woke the baby and crushed half the plants I tried to grow, and sometimes I wished I’d never brought such a raucous troublemaker into my home.  He was my family.  It is with guilt and remorse that I must admit how ungenerous I can be towards my family, how easily and pointlessly angered, how petty.  I bopped him on the nose more than he would have liked, and muttered curses at him under my breath more than I would have liked.  And I loved him fiercely. 

Jasper came into our lives about a week before my husband and I moved into our house.  Our first order of business after signing all the paperwork was to find a dog, and as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge with the squirming yellow ball of fur we’d chosen from a rescue organization’s adoption fair, we felt like the luckiest people in the world.  Jasper was there with us as we moved into our house, and our life was to a large extent arranged around him.  I mean this physically, as we arranged the furniture to allow open spaces for a big dog to romp, and bought a counter-height table to keep inquiring noses out of our food. I also mean it (dare I, as a semantics-fearing atheist, say it?) spiritually, as the presence of a bounding puppy, and later, a prematurely-arthritic dog, changed and expanded our hearts.  He helped us get to know our neighbors, because when you’re walking with that many pounds of furry enthusiasm, everyone wants to stop and say hello.  He influenced our social circles: I have friends I first grew to love because of how they loved my dog, and friends I lost respect for because they couldn’t love him.  He made camping trips and beach runs and even driving to the hardware store into lively adventures.  When my husband was away at school for long evenings, he made me feel safe, protecting me from threats both real (when the police were chasing a burglar through the neighborhood) and real only to him (his suspicion of balloons was life-long and, on his side at least, adversarial).

As I look around the house and start to think about putting his things away, I realize what an inconvenience Jasper was.  I guess I can now put away the ugly, dirt-catching throw rugs that kept doggy paws from slipping on the wood floors.  I can go away on the weekend camping trips I’ve pined for but have not been able to take with dog in tow.  I can stay out late and not worry about getting home in time for dinner or the evening walk.  I can take down the garden fencing that never quite worked anyway.  I don’t want to do any of these things.  I want to sit and cry and look through photographs.  I want to play “remember when” with my husband, and to tell my daughter stories she’ll never remember and doesn’t understand about the giant yellow dog she used to know, and how silly and sweet he was, and how sorry I am she will never ride around on his back or yank his tail.  I do not believe in an afterlife, though I sometimes wish I did.  I suspect it would be consoling to be able to believe that Jasper is off in some doggy heaven prancing through pee-scented fields with doggy friends.  Instead I try to console myself that the loss of death, at least, is not a loss to the one who died.  Jasper is not sorry he didn’t live to enjoy one more walk or bone or sunny day.  He is not anything anymore.  He enjoyed his life, and he is not sad or in pain, though I am both.  In his absence, my family becomes that much smaller, as it contracts around the giant, yellow place he used to fill.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Focaccia Two Ways: Orange-Lavender and Lemon-Asparagus Focaccia

Lemon Asparagus Focaccia
I've pulled this blog out of hibernation just in time to join the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Welcome potluck attendees!  I made two types of seasonal citrus focaccia to showcase some of my backyard produce.
Above is lemon and asparagus focaccia with black pepper.  Below is sweet orange and lavender focaccia (which I overcooked a bit--oops, but still tasty). Both breads are based on the same dough, just with different toppings.
Orange Lavender Focaccia

The Ingredients:
Dough (for two loaves):
2 1/2 c warm water
2 T olive oil
1 T sugar
1 T + 1/2 t dry active yeast
2 1/2 t salt
6-7 c unbleached white flour

Orange Lavender topping:
about 1 T olive oil
4 t chopped fresh lavender (about half leaves and half flowers)
1 small orange, sliced as thinly as possible
2 t sugar

Lemon Asparagus topping:
about 1 T olive oil
5 asparagus spears, halved lengthwise
1/2 a large lemon, ends removed, sliced as thinly as possible
a pinch black pepper
a pinch salt

The Process:
  1. To make dough, combine water, oil, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is puffy.
  2. Add salt and about 5 1/2 cups of the flour and knead with oiled hands or stir with the mixer's dough hook, adding more flour as necessary to form a slightly sticky but workable dough.  Knead about 12 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes with a stand mixer.
  3. Form dough into a ball, coat with oil, and place in a large, oiled mixing bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place somewhere warm.  Allow dough to rise until doubled. (This can take anywhere from about 45 minutes to more than 2 hours, depending on your yeast and the room temperature.)
  4. Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces.  Preheat oven to 400°.
  5. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets, and stretch each piece of dough into a rough rectangle, mostly covering a baking sheet.  You can leave the edges rounded and uneven for a more "rustic" look.  Let sit, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes, then uncover and lightly dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips.  Brush each loaf with a generous coating of olive oil.
  6. For the orange focaccia, arrange orange slices on top of dough, then sprinkle with lavender and lightly press the lavender in with your fingertips to make it adhere to the dough.  Top with sugar.
  7. For lemon focaccia, arrange lemon slices and asparagus spears on top of dough, brush asparagus with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until tops of loaves have golden-brown splotches, then cool on baking racks.

Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to go back to the Misfit Baker, go forward to Farmer's Market Vegan, or go to the host site, Vegan Bloggers Unite!