Sunday, December 29, 2013

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

My cravings for Cinnamon Rolls started two weeks ago when my daughter-in-law posted a photo on Instagram of her homemade cinnamon buns.  I immediately liked the photo and commented that I wanted the recipe.  When she emailed me the recipe she said..."have fun with this one!"  The recipe she sent me was not Vegan and was basically like making a brioche dough with butter, egg yokes and whole milk.  But I was up for the challenge and for the past two weeks all I have been thinking about is making these darn buns!

If you're in a hurry to make any yeast dough, you might think about making something else.  These cinnamon rolls take about five hours from start to finish.  If you want them for a mid-morning breakfast, then I recommend that you start the dough in the evening, let them go through the first rise, punch down, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning you can then finish the rolls and bake them off.  I started these at 6am (I'm an early riser) and they were ready at 11am.  My husband slept in until 10am and he was surprised that they weren't ready.  But YUMMY things come to those who wait and have patience!

When kneading the dough you want to keep in mind that you are not making bread and you do not want to develop the gluten.  You want the dough to be soft, glossy and smooth and the finished buns to be light, fluffy and tender.  I kneaded my dough for about 5-7 minutes in my Kitchen Aid mixer--just enough for the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  I also added just enough flour so that I could handle the dough without it being too sticky.  I added about 3 1/3 cups of flour but you may need to add more or less during the mixing-kneading process. 

Dough Ingredients:

1 packet Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar 
4 ounces Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, melted
1 cup cashew milk, warmed (1/2 cup cashews blended with 1-1/2 cups water)
3-4 cups of all purpose flour (I used organic unbleached)
1 tsp kosher salt

Filling Ingredients

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2-3 tbsp ground cinnamon (I used 2 tbsp)

Icing Ingredients:

8 ounces Follow Your Heart Sour Cream or Cream Cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp cashew milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
  • Place warm water and yeast in a small bowl and mix together.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it starts to bubble.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat butter until melted, remove from heat and add 1 cup of cashew cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, whisk together and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a kitchen-aid mixer, place 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp kosher salt and whisk together.  Create a well in the center and add butter/milk mixture, along with water/yeast mixture.  Stir together with a spatula and then start mixing with the dough hook on medium speed.  Add enough flour (I added about 1/3 cup) extra flour so that the dough pulled away from the side of the pan and when you touch the dough it is not sticky and it can be handled easily.  Again, I kneaded my dough for about 7 minutes, you may need more or less.
  • Lightly oil a medium sized bowl and place dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about two hours until doubled in size.  If your house is warm, it will rise quicker.
  • Lightly punch down the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a 12-16 rectangle.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2" border and roll the dough up tightly, moistening the end with water and sealing the roll.  
  • Place the seam side down and dust roll lightly with flour, along dusting a sharp knife with flour for every cut.  Cut the dough in half and then cut each half in half so that you have four equal pieces.  Cut each of these four pieces into three pieces so that you have 12 pieces.
  • Butter a 9x12 pan and place the cut side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 1-1/2 - 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust the baking rack to the center of the oven.
  • Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, turning half way-through the cooking process.
  • Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes before separating and drizzling with icing.
  • While the rolls are baking, make the icing in a mixer and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

My husband and I ate quite a few of these today and we felt so guilty that we went for a long hike in the mountains.  We still have about seven left on the kitchen counter and they are screaming at us...Eat Me!  But we are being strong and the remaining rolls are going to work with me tomorrow for others to enjoy!  I hope that you enjoy them too!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Healthy Fast Food

Every once in awhile I get a craving for fast food.  We live near a Veggie Grill and we'll stop in several times a year, but it is nice to make it at home knowing that it's really not that bad for you.  We don't eat this type of food every month but as the year-end draws near, I feel that I have to get in my fix for all that is bad and start the new year fresh and healthy.  Seriously though--there's not a lot to give up January 1.  Sure maybe I indulge in sweets sometimes, or don't exercise enough, but in terms of our diet we eat a really healthy and balanced diet.

I made peppered seitan from scratch the other night and it is perfect shaved and served with BBQ sauce on a sandwich.  Really tender and full of protein.  Most people think that seitan is just like eating bread (full of carbs) because it is made with gluten, but all the starch has been removed during the rinsing and kneading process and you are left with pure protein. 

For the BBQ sauce, I whipped up a quick batch using six ingredients.  BBQ sauce is a condiment that you never should buy.  If you have organic ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, molasses and brown sugar in your pantry then you can make BBQ sauce from scratch.  I added a little soy sauce and sriracha for heat.  And what is a BBQ sandwich without coleslaw.  I made mine with shaved green cabbage, shaved Brussels sprouts, green onion, apple cider vinegar, and a little Earth Balance Organic Mindful Mayo.  Super healthy and adds a nice crunch!

Finally, for the fries I love Cascadian Farms Shoe String French Fries made with organic potatoes, canola oil, apple juice concentrate and citric acid.  No artificial flavors or partially-hydrogenated oils.  Just pop them in the oven for 15 minutes and sprinkle with a little sea salt.  

Tonight's dinner was quick, delicious and healthy in terms of fast food and perfect for a once in awhile treat!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Simple...Elegant Christmas Dinner

I have never made homemade seitan before--well not the kneading, resting, rinsing, kneading, rinsing...rinsing, rinsing, etc., type of seitan.  It is very laborious and I'm not certain if it is worth it or not.  The seitan was very flavorful and would be great sliced for sandwiches or served with a fruit and cheese platter, but sliced into medallions the texture was somewhat chewy.  So the "Simple" in my title references all of the other components of the dish, but not the seitan.  It took about 3.5 hours to make the seitan from start to finish!
Demi Glace:  Is a classic French brown sauce--one of the mother sauces that I learned to make in Culinary School years ago.  Obviously the French make the sauce with meat bones, but my recipe uses only homemade vegetable stock and it is rich, glossy and delicious.  To make the sauce I added a couple tbsp of olive oil to a sauce pan, along with one cup sliced white button mushrooms and one cup sliced onion.  I cooked these until brown and caramelized and then added several cloves of crushed whole garlic.  I deglazed the pan with about a cup of red wine and added one tbsp tomato paste.  I reduced this down until almost all the wine was evaporated and then added four cups of homemade vegetable stock, along with a sprig of fresh time, a tsp of fresh rosemary leaves, one bay leaf, and a 1/4 tsp of black peppercorns.  I brought the sauce to a boil and reduced the heat to low and simmered until reduced by half.  I then strained the sauce through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids, returned the sauce to a smaller pan and then whisked in a beurre manie (equal parts butter and flour) to thicken the sauce.  Finally, I seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.   

Sherry Glazed Button Mushrooms:  I used one pound of white button mushrooms, cleaned them with a damp cloth and trimmed the stems. I heated a cast iron skillet and added a couple tbsp of olive oil and sauteed with the tops face down without stirring until golden brown.  I then turned them over and browned the other side.  Once brown I added chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and minced garlic, along with salt and pepper.  I then deglazed the pan with one cup of pale dry sherry and reduced until the mushrooms were coated and all the liquid was evaporated.  If you don't have sherry, any fortified wine will taste great:  Madeira, Marsala or Ruby Port.  

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:  I used Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into two inch chunks.  I made a cashew cream with one cup raw cashews and two cups of water blended in a VitaMix until smooth and creamy.  I roasted two whole garlic heads in the oven for about an hour until soft and caramelized.  I squeezed out the flesh of the garlic and added it to the cashew cream and blended again.  I drained the potatoes, mashed, added earth balance butter and added enough garlic cashew cream to create a smooth consistency, along with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Homemade Peppered Seitan:  Back to the kitchen to tweak this recipe further.  Again, sliced thinly and tossed with a BBQ sauce and piled high on a sandwich would be great, but still needs some refinement.
I hope that you and yours had a wonderful Holiday!  Until my next post...enjoy!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Baked Gingerbread Doughnuts

I grew up eating gingerbread--my mom's background was German-Pennsylvania Dutch and she always made gingerbread around Christmas. Come to think of it we always had gingersnaps in the house and she would use them to make German dishes like Sauerbraten with Dumplings.
Most people are not a big fan of gingerbread because they don't like the flavor of ginger--my husband included.  When I told him that I was making gingerbread doughnuts he was not jumping with joy.  His response to me was..."out of all the doughnut choices you're making gingerbread doughnuts?" But what would Christmas be without gingerbread and I'm not a big fan of gingerbread gingerbread doughnuts it was!

This recipe makes 10-12 doughnuts and the batter is very thick.  It helps using a small spoon to spread the batter in the pan.  For the powdered ginger I used China Ginger from Penzeys Spices.  During Thanksgiving were up in Portland visiting family and we stopped by their retail store and purchased this ginger.  It has a clean flavor with a nice kick from the heat--truest to actual fresh grated ginger.

For the toppings have fun with it, but flavors that pair well with ginger are chocolate, dark berries and cinnamon.  I made a cashew milk chocolate-ganache, a white icing glaze mixed with wild blueberry preserves, and the old standby of cinnamon sugar.  My favorite flavor was the wild blueberry, but they all were delicious!

1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 tsp coffee extract
2 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup cashew milk or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup organic applesauce
1 tbsp ground flaxmeal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water to make a flax-egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease doughnut tin and set aside.  
  • In a medium sized bowl, sift all dry ingredients together.
  • In a larger bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.
  • Using a spatula add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  If batter seems too thick then add one tbsp cashew milk or non dairy substitute.
  • Spoon batter into doughnut tin and smooth with spoon.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cool for about two minutes before turning out on a cooling rack and repeat with remaining batter.
  • Let doughnuts cool completely before dipping in icing and decorating.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays to All!  



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spicy Korean Kimchi & Tofu Noodle Soup

I can't believe that I haven't posted to my blog for almost an entire year!  Where has the time gone?  Where have I been, what have I done for the past 347 days!  I don't know, but I have so many delicious vegan recipes that I want to share with you so hopefully this will be one of many more to come in 2014!

Also, it is cold in the Bay Area!  What is up with the weather?  It was 75 degrees the day after Thanksgiving and now it's hovering around 45 during the day and below freezing at night.  I know that it's winter and all but there is a reason why we live here...mild temps!  To keep warm this past week we've been eating a lot of comfort foods and nothing hits the spot more than a big bowl of Spicy Korean Noodle Soup!

When I make soup I really don't measure--I just throw a bunch of ingredients in the pot, season and simmer.  So my measurements are not exact but the soup will still be delicious.  And if you don't have all the ingredients, no worries--we have ways to improvise!  One of my favorite foods to eat right now--actually, I'm addicted to it--is raw, vegan Kimchi.  There are several brands you can find in the specialty market, but my favorite is Wildbrine.  It has a beautiful red color from the Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang), subtle heat and a refreshing tang from the fermentation.  If you can't find Kimchi and don't have time to make your own (which I plan to start doing), then just add shredded Napa cabbage to the soup along with a tablespoon of Bragg's Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.

The hardest ingredient to locate if you don't have a Korean/Asian market close by is the Gochujang to make your paste.  Be wary of purchasing already made red pepper paste and check the ingredients closely because most contain fish or shrimp sauce.  But if you find the powder then it's easy to make your own paste for the soup base--you just add a little oil to the powder, mix and you're all set.  Unfortunately, you cannot substitute cayenne or crushed red pepper in place of the Gochujang.  They have a totally different type of heat.  The Gochujang has an earthy heat that you can build on, where as cayenne would be too hot.   

This recipe serves two to four depending on your serving size and it can be served with wheat noodles, rice noodles or brown or white rice.  I used Korean hand cut fresh noodles purchased at the Korean market.  One plus about living in the Bay Area is that within 3 miles of my house I have just about every type of ethnic market you could ever ask for!  Makes cooking and trying new recipes very easy!

Soup Base:

8 Cups filtered water
1 three inch piece of Kombu
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger 
1-2 Tbsp white or yellow Miso paste (optional)
1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos, Soy Sauce or Tamari
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used baby portobellos)

  • Add all ingredients to a five quart pot, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Before adding the other ingredients, remove Kombu.

1-2 Tbsp Korean red pepper powder (add more or less depending on heat)
1 Tbsp mild flavored oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1 small yellow onion sliced, about 1 cup
1-1/2 cups extra firm organic tofu, diced small
2 cups raw, fermented vegan Kimchi (Wildbrine, or Sinto are good)
1 cup thinly sliced radishes, or white turnips
2 green onions sliced on a bias for garnish
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Wheat Udon or rice noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

  • Add red pepper powder, along with oil to a small bowl and stir to combine.  If you don't like heat, start out with 1 Tbsp.  You can always add more to the soup while it is simmering.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions, rinse under warm water and drain.
  • Remove Kombu and add sliced onion, tofu, red pepper paste and kimchi.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes for flavors to combine.
  • Five minutes before serving, add radishes or turnips and season with salt to taste.
  • Place noodles in a bowl and ladle piping hot soup over noodles and garnish with green onions.
  • YUM...Enjoy!