May 28, 2010

Fried Tofu and Coconut Rum Ice Cream

The other night, I made some okay fried tofu strips to put in some soba (more on that later).
As you can see, the breading wasn't very thick.  I'm hoping to improve this with some panko and a different breading technique (this time I just dreded the unpressed tofu in a mix of spices and nutritional yeast...tasty but not quite what I was going for).  I want some super crusty goodness!

The bigger success was the coconut rum ice cream!

Coconut Rum Ice Cream

1/2 can full fat coconut milk (this was just leftover from a curry)
1/4 cup soy milk
1 shot rum (well, actually, you probably want to use less.  I used this much and it was very much ice cream)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine the ingredients in a bowl.  Stick in the freezer.  Mix every 30 minutes or hour or so, just whenever it starts looking crusty.  The alcohol really helps prevent big ice crystals from forming. 

So far, this ice cream has kept for a day but I anticipate that it will not store super well.  It's rich, creamy, didn't require a whole lot of churning and effort, and required few ingredients.  I call that a win.

The next attempt will involve the just-coming-to-farmer's-market peaches... but for now, piratey coconut rum will do.

And for more coconut goodness, head over to Chocolate Covered Katie for a contest for Artisana products ...nom.

May 26, 2010

Apple Raisin Scones

We've been eating a lot of leftover soups, our standard homemade frozen pizzas, and other non-photogenic or thrown-together fare.  But last week, before an adventure at the local used car dealership clade, I made an early morning treat: apple raisin scones!

Scones aren't the prettiest things, at least when you're stumbling sleepily around and your hands are sticky with dough and it's impossible to cut them into nice triangles and you just want something to nibble before going on a bus ride and a long walk to deal with smarmy car salesmen.  But rest assured, these were delicious despite looking like dripping cave formations.

2.5 c AP flour
0.5 c turbinado sugar
2 tsp Ener-g egg replacer or flax meal + 2 T water, mixed
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
0.5 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg, cloves
0.5 c margarine and/or shortening (I used half Earth Balance and half shortening)
1 small apple, cut into small chunks
0.5 c raisins
.75 c soy milk

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices.  Cut in the margarine and shortening (smoosh it in between your fingers if your hands are cold) until the dough looks like coarse meal.  Mix egg replacer/flax meal with water and let sit while you stir in the apple chunks and raisins.  Add milk and egg replacer mix.  Dough should be not too sticky; add more flour if it is too sticky to handle.  Flour your hands and divide dough into 4 balls (more for smaller scones, fewer dough balls for gigantic scones).  Pat each ball into a flat patty and use a butter knife to cut into four triangles.  Repeat for the rest of the dough.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.

May 21, 2010

Rustic Flax Bread

This week, I made a loaf of no-knead bread, this time with added flax meal.  I also cooked it in a ceramic dish rather than my trusty steel pot.

The texture was like most no-knead breads: moist, full of bubbles, with a chewy crust.  I liked the added flax because it tasted rich and nutty.  It's also good for you (although some of that goodness is destroyed at the high temps).  The recipe is something like this:

2 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 c flax meal
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix this together, then stir in 1 1/2 c water.  Let sit over night or at least 12 hours.  Then add:

1/2 to 1 cup of flour to form a very soft but not too sticky dough.  You won't really knead it at this point, just form a workable dough.  Shape into a ball and let rise in a greased bowl for about 2 hours.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 F with your greased (and cornmealed if you like) baking dish in thar.  After your dough is done rising and the oven is preheated, take out the hot baking dish and dump the dough ball in there, gently.  Put the lid on the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the dish and bake for another 15 to get that shiny pretty crust.

While the casserole baking dish made a much more useful shape (in my opinion) than the typical big round loaf, it didn't give it the nice crispy bottom crust that my steel pot does.  Obviously what I need is a hybrid.  If Irvine had thrift stores, I'm sure the ideal dish would be found there.

May 17, 2010

First tomato

It seems that cold weather does bad things to tomatoes.  Our first tomato, although pretty, was mealy and bland and not juicy at all.  We've been having fairly cool, unsunny weather.  I suspect this and an embarrassing lack of watering is the culprit.  Perhaps the next few tomatoes will be more up to homegrown tomato standards.

Stop messing with my pesticide free tomatoes, Irvine, gosh.

May 11, 2010

Swedish Coffee Crescents: Gifflar! And a rant about race

Sometimes I think the worst part about most surveys, employment forms, ballots, and similar documents is that they have the optional (or not so optional) "race/ethnicity" section.  The typical choices are often limiting, and I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.  Asian?  What kind of Asian?  Caucasian?  Black?  There are hundreds of flavors in any one of these categories--so what do you glean from pegging someone in one of these general categories?  And more and more, why is this question still "check one?"  Why is it a radio button instead of a "check all that apply?"  I love it when surveys and forms have this option, because like millions of other humans, I don't have a single ethnic or racial heritage.

What do you do when it's "select one?"  I think lots of people who are mixed race pick the one that isn't white.  I do, sometimes.  I think I do because I'm afraid that by not saying that I'm part Asian, somehow that "minority" part of me will be underrepresented on surveys.  But why don't I put white?  Is it because caucasians tend to be overrepresented in surveys, forms, opportunities, etc?  By checking the Asian box, aren't I buying into the archaic "one drop" rule?  I don't know.  But once in a while, I get a pang of guilt for saying simply, "Yes," when someone asks if I'm Asian.  Which is a silly question to ask someone, anyway.  What does knowing the race of a person tell you?  Not a lot!

Recently my great great aunt, a tall, fabulous Swede, passed away.  My Caucasian side is all about the Swedish recipes, especially cookies.  So here's to you, Aunt June.

Swedish cooking is all about buttttttahhhhh.  The veganized version is all about the maaaargarine, but they still taste fucking delicious and don't let anyone tell you that if it ain't buttah it aint worth it.  Filled with nuts, or with cream cheese and fruit, these are wonderful with coffee and tea.  We bake up batches of these with apple or nut filling for Christmas...but I doubt they'd let me "bastardize" them and bring vegan versions.  So I just enjoy these at home!

Swedish Filled Coffee Crescents (Gifflar)

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup non hydrogenated margarine (or vegetable shortening...nom)
1/4 c water + 1.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer OR 1/4 c water + 1 T ground flax seed (equivalent of one egg)

Traditional Filling:
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cream Cheese and Fruit Filling
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup vegan cream cheese
1/4 jam of your choice

oil/melted margarine
Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Sift flour into bowl, add sugar; cut in butter or margarine with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in egg and dissolved yeast. Work dough with floured hands until smooth. Cover; let rise 1 hour in room temperature. In the meantime make the filling; cream butter or margarine with sugar and add chopped nuts, or mix sugar and cream cheese. 

Divide dough into four parts. Roll each part into a circle about 11 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick, cut each circle into 8 wedge shapes. At the wide end put a teaspoon of filling. Roll each wedge shape up by beginning at the wide end, stretching the wide end a bit as you roll it. Place crescents on buttered/margarined cookie sheets. Brush crescents with Garnish . Let crescents rise for another hour at room temperature. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden yellow brown. Makes 32 crescents.

These flakey, tender rolls are so, so good.  Just wait until it's peach season... oh man.  Peach walnut crescents? Hell yeah.

May 07, 2010

Pea Greens

Pea greens.  They're the tips of pea plants, complete with flowers, stems, and frondy tentacles.  They might look like they will ensnare you, but these greens are in fact versatile, slightly sweet, and benign despite appearances.

And sometimes, the flowers contain little baby pea pods!

I bought these pea greens from the farmer's market after seeing them week after week but being too afraid to invest.  They're actually pretty cheap here, $1.50 for about a pound of greens.  I like this because I'm frugal and because I'm on a very tiny Americorps stipend.

Although some people say they taste like peas (and I was hoping they would), the flavor is much milder.  They do taste somewhat of peas, but they also taste slightly of spinach.  They're crunchy when raw, and I thought they'd make a fresh and mild addition to a stir fry.

I tossed them with homemade seitan, soy sauce, a bit of cumin, rice vinegar, agave, and some big chunks of onion.  The pea greens cooked down like spinach.  I was worried that the curly bits might have a gross, choke-inspiring texture, but they were tender and not wormlike.  Which is nice.

If you can't find these at your farmer's market, they also sell them at many Asian grocery stores.  They're a nice, mild change from spinach or kale.  Give them a try, don't fear the tendrils.

May 06, 2010

Orange Noms from the Greens Cafe and an Orange Tomato

Leftover Orange something of Joy from the Greens Cafe in Irvine, CA.  Holy crap.  The service wasn't spectacular this last time...but the food was so tasty.  I also had some ultra-rich cheesecake and got to try their carrot was so good.  It was like a crunchy cinnamony cookie on top and moist cake beneath.  The entree I got was gluten, mushrooms, and cauliflower fried and then tossed with orange sauce, onions, and bell peppers.  So, so good.
I had to turn on the flash because it was dark out.  But I had to show you the very orange tomato.  It finally went into the 80s and now the tomatoes seem crazy happy.  We've got inch worm things eating some of the leaves though.  Come on tomatoes, don't die!

Boy cooks vegan lasagna.

On Monday, the boy cooked super-veggie-filled vegan lasagna despite his very long day.  He even took a couple of pictures!
The lasagna, pre-cooking.  It was very good and had layers of tofu ricotta, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, and a weird cheesy nooch sauce we made up on the fly so we wouldn't have to make more tofu ricotta.  I was grouchy since we didn't have dinner until after 9pm but it was worth tasty.

May 01, 2010

Barbecue sauce on seitan and some other random things

I'm at the boy's office as they debate approaches to electromagnetics problems, so I was sorting through photos from the past week.  Here's a quick thing we had: seitan with store-bought barbecue sauce.  Tasty things don't have to be gourmet, but it wasn't the most impressive thing:

But!  We made it to the farmer's market today and got some pea greens.  Can't wait to figure out something to make with them.  I also can't wait to escape this office.  The air conditioner has been on "Deafening" for the past hour despite the relative chilliness of the room.  I like how the admin of this place whines about saving money but maintains 24-hour Ice Blast Ann Coulter's Breast Cold levels.  And by "like" I mean, "I dislike," because it causes the boy to whine and crank.

Unfortunately, we also stopped at Trader Joe's and got some maple leaf cookies.  I say unfortunately because I've already had a couple.  SUGAR LEVELS CRITICAL.