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Showing posts with label dairy-free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dairy-free. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Southern-Style Biscuits

Forgive the quality of my counters; I've beaten the bejeezus out of them over the years.
I  mean "American Southern" when I say "Southern-Style Biscuits." I know the American South has come up quite a bit in the news lately with all of the "controversy" about the Confederate flag, and a lot of folks are preaching "Heritage not hate" as if a five-year-long existence of a poor try for a country is somehow as deep and culturally significant as a place like Ireland or France or Russia or some other European country that these folks have taken lineage from. I do love American Southern food, however, so let me just summarize:

Biscuits, Cornbread, Catfish, and Fried Chicken = GOOD. 
Racism, Historical Erasure, and White Supremacy = BAD.

We love our food here in America, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping that delicious food while chucking some not-so-nice things out the door! In America, what we call a biscuit is what folks in (as far as I can tell) every other part of the world would call a scone. It's a fluffy, flaky delight that we here in the states serve plain, with honey butter, with jam, or smothered with gravy. It's an American regional staple that was once considered a delicacy, but I'll save that story for after you've read the recipe.

Southern-Style Biscuits
yields 9 - 12, depending on size

  • 12 oz all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A fat pinch of salt
  • 1 oz sugar 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 oz butter, shortening, or vegan butter substitute 
  • Buttermilk or Almond milk with a splash of white vinegar as needed
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Mix your flour, leavening agents, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl, ideally a metal one you've had in the fridge for about 10 minutes before starting this process. Chop the butter into cubes and dump them into the flour. Using your fingertips, not your whole hands, quickly and firmly rub the cubes of fat into the flour mixture. The idea is to break up the butter into small, pea-sized pieces without melting the fat. Reall push and pinch and rub the flour into the fat, as if you're trying to snap your fingers. 

If you want your biscuits to be a little more tender, you can substitute 1 oz of the butter for olive oil instead!

When all of this is ready and well-mixed enough, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add your two egg yolks. Add in a splash of your chosen milk, say a third of a cup to start with, and use a spatula or a pair of chopsticks to mix them together in the middle until the yolks are all broken up. Stir together, adding more liquid as needed to form a nice dough that's soft and pliable, but doesn't quite stick to your hands.

Mixy mixy!

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and get out your favorite rolling pin. Roll the dough out and fold it in half, dusting flour gently as you go to keep it from sticking. Roll out and repeat folding again until you can visibly see layers, which will take two or three turns. When you think you have enough layers, use a ring cutter or a drinking glass to cut out your biscuits.

I like at least four turns in my biscuits because I like to have a lot of layers.  Make sure to beat the dough down with the rolling pin between each turns to help the glutens relax! 

Tip: Use plenty of flour on your cutter. Do not twist when you cut! Push straight down and pull straight up!

Arrange your biscuits on a lined sheet pan. Biscuits are social creatures, so it's alright if they're touching each other like this! They really like to hold hands, so don't put too much space between them.

Biscuits really like to hold hands!
It's at this point that you may pop them in the fridge or freezer to keep cold if you don't want to eat them right away. I do recommend chilling them for at least 20 minutes before you bake them, but it's not necessary if your butter and milk mixture was quite cold. The real trick to biscuits and scones like this is to keep your ingredients as cold as you can before they go into a hot oven. This way, the fats won't simply melt out, but will rise up quickly and create steam to push your dough as high is it can go, and create those gorgeous layers that we all love to have. Either way, you should bake right when you're ready to eat them, as nothing is quite as good as a fresh-baked warm biscuit. 

While you're deciding on freezing or baking straight from the counter, a brief history of Southern-style biscuits is in order! They were once considered to be a delicacy during Civil War times in the South. They were once so revered, they were reserved only for Sunday suppers when Southern American families would reconvene after church services. If you're even more curious as to the different kinds of biscuits that American Southern families would typically eat, check out what Robby Melvin has to say about them below:




When you are ready, bake your biscuits at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then rotate your pan in the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they're golden-brown and delicious-looking. As you can imagine, the baking time will be a little longer if you're baking from frozen instead of just cold, but you should rotate them, either way, to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing and consuming. I like mine with honey butter, but you can use these for any application. Feel free to add things like chopped fresh herbs, shredded cheese, dried fruits, and more to suit your tastes and needs. This recipe is extremely easy to personalize, so I invite you and encourage you to show me what amazing things you can do with a simple base like this to start from. 

Thank you so much for reading and following along with me. It's come to my attention that my reach is quite far on Instagram, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming on these food journies of going back to basics with me. I know we're in a tumultuous time where a lot of us are realizing that we need to keep our hands busy to keep from going stir-crazy. I'm here to tell you that mastering the basics of cooking is much simpler than you might think and that the road towards it is paved with mistakes. Learning is meant to be paved with mistakes and pain along the way, but it's all worth it in the end. ...I wonder if we can use that as a metaphor for something?

Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you haven't already done it. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Warm wooden counter or cool granite slab? What do you think?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Chickpea Fritters

Fun fact: My husband built our dining room table! 
In my journey of cooking, I've found that going back to my roots has been one of the most rewarding explorations I could have gone on. I find that when you look back it can detract from the now, but looking into history one can really learn a lot about cooking, about life, and about how you came to be. The best part, for me, is feeling the souls of my ancestors with me as I learn more about the things they may have eaten and even the things they would try today.

I am descended from Russian/Lithuanian/Belarusian Jews and from the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.  The one thing they have in common is DEEP FRY EVERYTHING. I'm a big fan of deep-frying stuff, so it's no real surprise that Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays. The winter months are both harsh and confusing here in Midwestern Kansas City so I'm not 100% ready to let go of my deep-frying oil...so I may as well deep fry something relatively healthy.

Enter the Chickpea.

Related image
Don't be fooled - she's versatile!
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have a low glycemic index. They have a nice amount of fiber and are surprisingly nutrient-dense. They're ideal if you're trying to maintain a vegetarian diet or if you're just trying to shed a few pounds. There's even some evidence that they may help prevent certain chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Honestly, I could go on and on about chickpeas. These are so filling and a much healthier alternative to potatoes, and I daresay they can be just as versatile.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are mostly found in India, Africa, and even South America. You can grind it into flour or cook it into hummus or falafel. You'll find these in South Asian cuisines and Middle Eastern cuisines.You'll also see these a lot if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan. There's even a Turkish drink called Boza, made of fermented bulgur, but often topped with cinnamon-tossed chickpeas. The point is that this annual plant is incredibly important to many cultures, and you shouldn't let it pass you by.

Chickpea Fritters
yields 12 fritters (if you don't eat the batter)

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 tsp baking soda, divided
  • 1/4 c finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
I love to start with dried chickpeas and soak it overnight before I cook them. These take quite a bit of time, and really are a labor of love. I suggest you start these overnight, or at least the morning before you go to work. Cover them with more water than you think you need, trust me. Add your baking soda and let soak for 6-8 hours, but ideally overnight. Why baking soda? Well...

Baking soda has, by itself, a score of 9 on the pH scale, which makes it ever-so-slightly basic. It's not your friend Jessica that bakes the gluten-free cookie recipe she found from Pinterest and insists on you two going to get PSLs and has you take her photos for the 'gram... It's more like my level of basic, in which I really love fall but I refuse to watch "Love Actually" and won't be caught dead in UGs. The point is that it's just basic enough to get that hard chickpea broken down enough to give you the creamiest, dreamiest, most-custardy cooked bean you'll ever consume. 

Once you've gotten your chickpeas all soaked and you come home from work, drain your beans, rinse, and add to a heavy-bottomed pot with another teaspoon of baking soda, and cover entirely with water, having at least two inches of water over the surface. Bring it up to a boil, stir once or twice, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover your pot but leave the lid ajar and allow to cook for about an hour, or until the chickpeas are incredibly tender. Once it's all done, I like to toss in a little sesame oil, just to coat, and then season with salt. 

You can either cover them and pop them in the fridge for later use, orjust use them straight away...just be sure to drain them first, and taste them to make sure they're done! And have a handful for yourself, you've earned it. And,  yes, of course, you can use the canned kind if you want to. Just please drain well and rinse them off. 

"you tryna smash?" "don't make this weird"
In a large bowl, use a fork or potato masher to smash up all of your chickpeas to where it's a creamy mixture. It doesn't have to be smooth, but it can be if you like it. You can also use the paddle attachment of your standing mixer, or even a mortar and pestle and do it in batches! Either way, it's up to you. 

Add in all remaining ingredients and mix rather well. Taste for seasoning and correct as necessary. It shouldn't be overpowering, but you should know that your seasoning is apparent. Scoop them into mounds on a tray line with parchment or a silicon mat and then chill in the fridge. You may coat them with flour, if you like, at this point, but it's entirely up to you. I did not coat them with flour, even though - by definition - a fritter must be at least 35% breading. You can, of course, batter this if you like...but I do not like. I like them the way they are.

Keep in mind, you can make these smaller or larger!
Head up about an inch's worth of a nice neutral oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. You're looking for 350 degrees F. You can check this without a thermometer by taking a sprig of herb or a leaf of a scallion and gently dropping it in. You are looking for a sprig that sputters and dances around the pot, like a someone wearing a very poofy dress that's twirling around a ballroom. This is how I was taught by an old sushi chef to see if your oil was hot enough for tempura, back when I was a young apprentice. 

I like to do these two or three at a time, but you may do it one at a time if you're a little more comfortable with that. If you're nervous about the stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan, get out a bowl of flour and give each of the balls a tiny roll in and a good pat of flour before frying. I use a fork to allow each fritter to ease gently into the hot oil, and then use it to press it down to a flatter shape, much like you'd do with a latke. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, in the boiling fat before flipping over to cook for another minute. You don't need to cook these much longer than that, but you do need to have a sheet pan lined with a rack on the inside of a warm oven to keep these hot while you fry by the batch. 
A 200 degree oven will keep these warm!
These fritters are fabulous snacks. You can serve them with sour cream. You can add finely chopped vegetables and more herbs to make a full meal. You can have them with a salad of herbs and garden greens. You can serve with a roasted chicken. The fritters can be served either hot or cold, but I think that room temperature is the best. You can use it as a party snack or serve with dinner. Use them to make a vegetarian sandwich with a fried egg and some tofu sausage and some cheeze. Heck, make them thin, spread them with goat cheese and figs and put them on your Seder table for your Tu B'Shevat celebration tomorrow! This is an excellent accompaniment to any dinner, especially a vegetarian one, as chickpeas are high in protein. 

Or, you know, be like me and serve it with a roasted chicken. Whatever you like!



I hope you've enjoyed this! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Personal Apple Streusels


They're not technically pies, since they don't have a crust, but I won't tell if you won't. 
I'm a big fan of eating seasonally. Apple season starts in the fall, and extends into early winter. Apples don't do well when frozen on the tree, and most apple trees here in North America are prolific and will give more than enough to you should you have one of your own. Be warned, though, they are prolific to the point of problematic.

One of my husband's favorite arguments against me planting an apple tree in our garden is the childhood memory of the two apple trees he had from age 9 to 19 in a little house in Columbia. You need to have two apple trees if you have one at all, as they tend to cross pollinate with the wind. He, his brother, and sister all would be put to work during apple harvest season to peel and make apple butter, apple sauce, etc., by their mother. If they did not, the fruit would fall off, rot, and ferment. If the fruit would ferment, they would have stray animals in their yard that would essentially get krunk on these fermented fruits. Squirrels, he tells me, were the funniest, but they were never funny enough to justify the presence of the drunken hornets.

Years later, I asked him why they couldn't just pick all the apples at once and keep the ones you didn't want to process in the cellar, he said that it was too much trouble. When I asked what he meant, he told me that if apples touch each other or are stacked on top of one another, they'll go rotten. Upon further research, I find that this is true. Apples are not social fruits, so it's best to wrap them each individually in paper and store them in a cool and dry place. I read once that folks would store apples tightly in barrels and even sink them in lakes under the ice, only to retrieve them later. (I have no idea if this is true, some guy told me while I stopped for gas while driving through Ozark country. Nice guy.) There's a ton of folk knowledge for how to store apples for long periods of time, but most of us in the cities don't need to worry about that. That being said, if you buy in bulk, it's good to know that you're able to store fruit in your basement or garage, properly stored, for long periods of time.

I consider apples a winter fruit because they keep so well in the winter months. Most dried fruits are obviously considered a 'winter' fruit, but many of my 'seasonal cookbooks' use squash or apples in their baked goods because of factors like this. Squash, apples, carrots, and other root vegetables keep well in root cellars, so therefore they're ideal for the winter. I live in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that it's currently winter.

This is my 150 year old silver maple! This photo has not been edited at all. 

We got a big snow over the weekend of a 9"-12" accumulation, and we're expecting another big snow next week as well. When things snow, all I want to do is bake. I don't know if it's some kind of deep psychological reasoning that makes me associate snowfall with "MUST BAKE NOW"or if I just want my house to be warm from the oven, but when the snow falls, my oven goes on.

My husband loves apple pie, but since I didn't have enough apples for a whole pie, I did this version. I hope you like it!

Personal Apple Streusels 
yields two

  • Two apples of your favorite variety, the firmer the better. I had Sugar Bee apples, but you can check out info on varieties here
  • 3 Tbsp local honey
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c oats
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (2 oz) lard or vegan butter (or dairy butter, whatever you like/have)
  • **chopped walnuts or dried fruit, as needed
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. The flour, oats, sugar, and fat are your streusel elements. All you do is mix these items together with a spoon, pressing the fat into the dry ingredients until it's sort of crumbly. Keep this in the fridge while you work with your other stuff. 

Do you like my argyle socks? 
Slice off the top of your apple. Using a spoon or apple corer, dig out the insides and discard the tough core and seeds. Keep the rest of the insides and put it in a separate bowl along with the sugar, honey, spices, and salt. You can core out as much as you like, but I think that it's safest to leave at least 1/2" of apple in around the skin. The point is that you're tossing the insides of this apple in your sugar/filling mixture. If you like, you can add raisins, dried cranberries, or dried currants. You can also add any kind of chopped nut that you like to either the filling or the topping. My favorite nuts with apples is the noble black walnut. Either way, please taste as you go to make sure that this is the amount of sweetness that you want. If so, add more sugar! If you'd like it a little spicier, feel free to mix it up. When you're happy with the flavor profile you've created, fill your apples back up with the nice filling you've made and top it with your cold streusel topping. Please be generous! 

I had a little spillover, but that's fine. I snacked on it when it came out of the oven. 

Mine baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, but you check yours at 30 to make sure that the apples are soft and the filling is bubbling. You always want to make sure that your apple pies (be they personal or a large one) are bubbling, as that's when you know the pectin will be activated and that the internal temperature is at least 212 degrees. 

Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more honey. You can serve this with a sour cream sauce, some vanilla nice cream (vegan ice cream) or some whipped cream. I like to eat this warm, but there's no reason you can't make a lot of these ahead of time and serve them to a large party. They're quite impressive yet nonthreatening on a plate. Something like this would be perfect for a small dinner party, and the cleanup would be a snap. After all, the dessert is self-containing. 



Thanks so much for reading! If you try this, please comment below and tell me how my recipe went for you. This is an awesomely quick dessert that's so easy and delicious. It encompasses the flavors of apple pie without having to do a big amount of dough. Let me know what you think. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese



In addition to pancakes, I'm addicted to two other things: steak, and macaroni and cheese. My @Instagram is full of all three of those things!




A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

Sorry, vegans - I'm not ACTUALLY one of you, but I do have a severely lactose intolerant husband and I'm both east Asian and Jewish so I really shouldn't be eating much dairy anyhow. It's really easy to cut dairy out of your home cooking entirely, and because of my husband's dietary restrictions I don't even have any in the house. No milk, no cheese, no butter, no sour cream. Because of this, any vegetarian meal at home that we consume is automatically vegan.

Just so everyone is clear: Vegan = no animal products.

Many folks go on to make this synonymous with no animal suffering. I disagree with that, as the ideology - although I'm sure is well-intended - does have some issues. Honey, for example, is considered to be not vegan. Here's the thing, though - harvesting honey from bees doesn't harm them at all, and any beekeeper will tell you that. Furthermore, if you buy local honey it'll help you immensely with your seasonal allergies. Not to mention all the jobs you'll help create by buying honey from your local beekeepers, but more beekeepers often means more bees.

#LifeHack: 

  • If you ever find a wild hive that's come on your property, call your local apiary instead of an exterminator. Eight out of ten, they'll come and harvest that hive for you, free of charge, and will not kill the bees! The other two times, they'll give you the resources and phone numbers you need to call to get those bees off your property without harming the bees.


 What is harmful is all of the agave we're consuming. Agave is a plant that grows in Mexico, and the amount that we're harvesting is harming bats, who depend on the nectar to survive. Bats consume a ridiculous amount of insects, including mosquitos which both carry disease and are a plague on this planet. Bats are good! Please, eat honey and skip the agave - save the bats.

As you can see, veganism is a dietary choice and not necessarily a moral compass. There are many reasons to go vegan! And here, we're going to have some vegan macaroni and cheese. It's 100% dairy-free for my lactose-intolerant people, and totally pareve for my observant Kosher Jewish followers. You know what that means? You can have this with meat!

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
serves 8
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked in salted water for 6 minutes until a hair harder than al dente (you'll be cooking it in the oven again, so it's okay if it's under-cooked)
    • Furthermore, you don't have to only use macaroni. You can use shell pasta, strascinati, penne, fiori, you name it! I do recommend using something that's not totally long and thin, though, as you'll want something sturdy for the oven. 
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance (you can also use coconut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 can plain coconut cream (do not use the sweetened version, or this will taste like someone kicked you in the teeth and said "f*ck you")
  • 1/4 c tofu sour cream (Tofutti is the best)
  • 3/4 c vegan cream cheese (tofutti and daiya make my favorite kinds)
  • 2 c cheddar-style vegan cheese shreds (Follow Your Heart and Daiya make the best cheeses)
This is your base recipe for the sauce. You can add more "cheeses" if you like, or substitute the cheddar-style for mozzerella style or pepperjack style. The beautiful thing about macaroni and cheese is that it's so incredibly versatile and you can add almost anything you like to it. Here is a full list of my favorite things you can stir in to your mac when you're ready to bake:
Follow me on instagram!
  • Roasted brussells sprouts
  • Caramelized onions or leeks
  • Peas, fresh or frozen
  • Roasted squash, such as acorn squash or any kind of pumpkin
  • Braised winter greens (kale, mustard greens, etc)
  • Shaved asparagus
  • Spinach, fresh or cooked
  • Fresh herbs 
    • Dill
    • Savory
    • Tarragon
    • Parsley
Have I stirred other things into mac and cheese? Things like chopped chicken, beef sausage, roasted beets or cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes from my garden, chopped green beans and more? Absolutely! Those things up in that list, though, are my favorite things, and I encourage you to make this into a full meal by adding whatever you like. 

To make this simple dish, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish, either one large one or two medium-sized ones. I love using this recipe because it can feed a large amount of people, but if it's just my husband and I then I will separate them into several dishes so we can cover, refrigerate, and bake off at a later date when I'm feeling a little lazy. 

Melt your butter in a thick-bottomed saucepot on a medium flame. Add in the garlic and cook for about a minute, until just barely soft and brown. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk it together until it's smooth. You'll want to lower your flame just barely until it's all sort of simmering, and cook this roux for at least five minutes. Open your can of coconut cream and add, bringing the flame up to medium-high. Bring this to a boil, whisking constantly, and then reduce to a simmer. Add in your cream cheese and stir until incorporated. Sprinkle in your cheddar-style shreds, whisking constantly, a little at a time so as not to allow clumps. You may also add your fresh herbs at this stage, but it's up to you. 

Drain your pasta and toss with a little oil, and return it to your cooking pot. Pour the hot cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to coat. It is now that you will add whichever mix-ins you like. The one in the first post at the top of the page has pumpkin, caramelized onions, and bok choi. Last month, I made one with peas and carrots. Just a few days ago, I made one with plenty of parsley and frazzled leeks. The point is: be creative!

I actually had some dairy-free cheese slices in the fridge so I thought it'd be fun to
add torn pieces of those throughout to get extra 'pockets' of cheesey goodness.

If you like a little extra crunch, you may crumble up some potato chips or crackers from your pantry and sprinkle on top, as well as some vegan parmesan shreds, extra cheese, panko bread crumbs...whatever you like! I don't always have panko bread crumbs in my pantry, but my husband is addicted to potato chips so I like to crush them up and put them on the top. 

You may bake the amount you need and put the rest of the dishes in the fridge to have at a later date. No matter what, you'll bake at 350 for 30 minutes from cold and only 20 minutes if you're baking this dish from hot. Serve hot, straight out of the casserole dish, and share this meal with a friend. While it is a wonderful thing to love one's own company, I am of the mind that it is unhealthy to eat alone. A good meal should be shared, so invite your neighbor over for food and get to know them. Or, you know, just post a picture of the mac and cheese on Facebook and see if any friends want to pop in. 

I hope you get out there and enjoy making mac and cheese. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Easy Challah for Hanukkah

"Challah" at yo girl!
Happy 1st night of Hanukkah, my tchotchkes! I won't go into the whole history of the holiday, nor will I go on a long tangent on why it's the best. I'll just give you the important thing that you need to know to have a successful Hanukkah:

Deep. Fry. Everything.


The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil in that sealed jug meant for their lanterns was only enough for one night, but it ended up lasting enough for eight nights, thus giving the Maccabees time to make more oil. There's actually a big long story along with it, but if you want to have a little fun while learning, watch this.



Yes, I did just show you a clip from "The Meanie of Hanukkah." As far as I can tell, it's all we have in the ways of popular culture. The point is that oil is important, and that's why we eat lots of deep-fried foods.The only real rule is to not mix meat with dairy.

A meat menu will often consist of a brisket or a roasted chicken to go along with the latkes and often a green vegetable. A dairy menu can have grilled salmon along with goat cheese and beet risotto or an egg dish with lots of cheese...and don't forget the kugel! Spruce Eats actually has a great selection of ideas for you. You can find my favorite latke recipe right here. If you're feeling fancy, I like to add dried dill. You can also find my easy vegan doughnut recipe right here, which I'll be making tonight to go with my fried chicken. Yum!

Challah is a traditional loaf of braided bread, made with eggs. This is my own version that's super easy, very flavorful, and relatively quick.


Challah
yields 1 loaf
  • 500 g AP flour
  • 6 g yeast
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g warm water
  • 30 g kosher wine (a splash or two)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter substitute
Combine everything in the bowl of your standing mixer and bring it together using a dough hook. You'll knead for about five minutes, or until it's nice and smooth and is gently crawling up your hook. If you'd like to add anything to your challah, such as sesame seeds or dried herbs, now would be the time. Just let it run for a few turns, just enough to mix them in. Oil a bowl and set your dough in a warm place to double in size. This is call prooving, because you prove that the yeast works. Hah!

Once that time has passed, divide your dough into thirds and braid. When you get to the end, turn - 

Eh? What's that? You don't know how to braid? Oh, dear. Well, here you go! Here's a tutorial on how to braid different kinds.



Now that that's all sorted, pop your bread loaf on a baking sheet and cover gently with a clean tea towel. While it's rising, let your oven come up to 400 degrees F. Prepare an egg wash of 1 egg plus a touch of salt and sugar, and maybe a tsp of water. Let that hang out until that has doubled in size, usually 30 to 45 minutes depending. Gently brush with your egg wash to give that glorious color and bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.



Let your challah cool on a rack and serve with your dinner. Enjoy playing with your dreidels and have a great night! Happy cooking, happy eating, and happy deep-frying!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Vegan Doughnuts



I throw around the term 'vegan' a lot. I know I've stated before that I am not a vegan, but whenever I eat a dish that has no meat in it, it's automatically vegan because there is no dairy in them. My husband and I have been totally dairy-free for a few years now, and it's honestly gotten much easier with time. There are many products out there that make going dairy-free or vegan very easy, and you'll hardly have to sacrifice a thing! A word on donuts, though, before we begin:

The doughnut as we know it is an all-American food. We've seen doughnuts in popular culture for generations, and it's even mentioned back in old receipts books (that's old timey speak for 'recipe books'). You can cook them in a cast iron pot with boiling fat on the prairie, and what sounds more American than that? But what if I told you that this was not an indigenous treat? I'm sure you wouldn't be that surprised.

Doughnuts originate from Dutch cultures, and they were brought over to the Americas by the same people that brought us pancakes - which means, yes, "Dutch Pancake" is a tautology. You can find all sorts of nifty tidbits of info on the Dutch influences in American cooking in this lovely book, Cookies, Coleslaw and Stoops. Isn't learning great? I think so.

So the doughnut, originally Dutch, has made its way into our hearts. Gourmet doughnuts have emerged in the last few  years, and they are plastered on Instagram in droves! And why not? It's an enriched dough that's been deep-fried in fat and either rolled in sugar or slathered with glazes and toppings and stuffed with fillings that would make anybody blush! My favorite doughnuts are jelly doughnuts, especially with raspberry in them. I also love a good s'mores doughnut, glazed with chocolate and stuffed with caramel and marshmallow. (I've never actually bought one like that - I make those.) You can let your imagination go wild when you create your own doughnut! Just follow these simple instructions...

Vegan Doughnuts
yields: enough (you'll see what I mean)

  • 300 g AP flour (two cups and change)
  • 3 g yeast
  • 20 g cane sugar
  • 75 g vegan butter (you can use high-ratio vegetable shortening in a pinch)
  • 135 g warm coffee (leftover from the morning brew is just fine, warmer than body temperature but not so hot as to scald your fingers)
Combine the flour, yeast, and sugar into the bowl of  your standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Cut the butter into 1/2" chunks and distribute among the flour, then turn on your mixer to let the hook stir in the fat and yeast. Turn off the mixer, pour the coffee straight in, and allow everything to come together. Will this have a coffee flavor, then? Hardly - it'll be barely noticeable, but you do want the subtle complexities and gentle acids of your coffee to add depth and elevate the flavorings of the doughnut you'll add later...and the acids will cut the glutens to make sure that you won't overwork your dough and get nasty tunneling. You're looking for a very smooth dough that easily passes the window test, so let this little dough take its time and knead for about 8 minutes.

Remove the dough ball from the mixer and gently, lightly lubricate the bowl with some neutral oil. Smooth your dough into a nice round ball in your hands and roll around in the bowl of your mixer. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to proof, or rise. They call it proofing because it 'proves' the yeast is working while it rises! This should take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, let's talk about fat and deep-frying! You can spend your  money on a fancy deep-fat fryer that you'll only bust out every so often but will otherwise keep space on your counter and collect dust for months on end...or you can do what I do and fire up a stock pot! If I'm doing a large amount of deep-frying, say for fried chicken or croquettes, I'll use my big dutch oven. If it's just doughnuts, I'll use my 6 qt stock pot that I picked up at a thrift store, who knows when. 

You can also spend the money on nice liquid soybean or grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point and you can get a lot of yield out of it...or you can just use creamy vegetable shortening out of the big blue drum - you know the kind. Why use this kind? I'll tell you in one word: cleanup. 

It is exponentially easier to clean up a fat that turns solid at room temperature, that you can scrape into your trash, than it is to strain and properly dispose of used liquid fat. But hey, if you want to strain your fat and bribe some guy at the local Chinese place to let you use their grease dumpster for it, be my guest. 

Oh, and let's remember: safety first. Always wear a full apron when dealing with fat, and keep a thermometer handy to make sure that it doesn't go over 400 degrees. You're going to want to be at about 350 degrees F for your doughnuts. And never, ever EVER throw water on a greasefire! Just turn off the heat, cover it, and walk away. Don't touch it, don't try to move it. Turn off the heat, cover it, and walk away. If you throw water on boiling fat, it will explode everywhere and you will get hurt. To prevent fat boil-over, never fill your vessel more than halfway up with fat. I think for my little pot, that's about three cups of shortening, heated. Please be safe!

So once your dough is proved, let's get cutting. 



Lightly flour your cold marble surface and choose your cutters. I took these two rounds from my cutter set. I floured them, my hands, and my rolling pin before very gently rolling out my dough into a 1/2" thick slab.You can do many different kinds of shapes, if you like. You can even do hearts or stars! I do like the traditional rings and I, of course, save the middles for doughnut holes. But what's to be done with the excess? 



I like to take my excess and roll out into a square, then cut in strips. These create a very charming, rustic long john! You can fill these, of course, or you can just leave them as is. You can also cut crossways as well as long ways to create square doughnut holes. Heck, cut square doughnuts! You can do whatever you want - you're the one that's eating them, after all.



Lightly flour again and place on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat mat to keep from sticking. Leave in a warm place to let them have a second rise while your fat is coming up to temperature. Remember, you're looking for 350 degrees F for optimal doughnut frying! While it's coming up, start thinking about your toppings. 


I had this caramel dark chocolate ganache left over from my wedding, so I melted some of it down to a liquid state for glazing. (For my basic ganache recipe, find it here!) I also took some granulated cane sugar with some cinnamon, cardamom, sumac, and a tiny hint of cayenne to create a sugar doughnut. You can also chop up things like candy bars, graham crackers, mini marshmallows, baked meringue cookies, heath pieces, sprinkles, your favorite cereal, and freeze-dried fruit to use as toppings! 

If you're just a fan of the classic glazed, do this:

Basic Sugar Glaze
  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter substitute, melted
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond milk/coconut milk/hemp milk
Mix until smooth and flavor as you like! Correct the consistency as you need to - it should be a little gloopy and not too runny. I really like using vanilla paste for this particular glaze, but you can do any flavor you like and color appropriately. If you find yourself a pistachio flavoring, for example, don't be afraid to color it a festive green color! And a cherry flavor? Why, pink, of course, must be the answer. Pop it in a piping bag and set aside.

Now that your toppings are all in place, make sure that you have a way to get your doughnuts and doughnut holes out of that hot fat. I like chopsticks for big rings, and a pasta spoon to fish out the holes and long johns. And please make sure that you're nice and organized before you begin - because once you start frying, you're not going to be able to stop.



I always fry my doughnut holes first, dropping them gently from a few inches above the surface of the hot oil, stirring them around, and letting them cook to GBD (golden-brown delicious) before fishing them out. Shake them a little before you drop these ones in your spiced sugar mixture, and then toss them about with a restrained vigor. Evacuate and set on a plate!


You can also shave chocolate atop to give yourself a little texture!

I'd fry the larger doughnuts one at a time, if I were you, especially if you're a beginner. Use the chopsticks to gently turn them over and then fish them out through the hole. Either dump them straight in the sugar mixture or use a paper towel to dab them gently before letting them fall face-first into your ganache. If you glaze them, simply run your glaze around the doughnut in a ring so the glaze falls off and cascades down. If you'd like a more opaque effect of frosting, let the doughnuts cool a little before you glaze them and add sprinkles. 

Keep going until all of your doughnuts are finished! These will keep under plastic wrap for at least a couple of days, but I promise you that they won't last that long. 




So there you have it! Easy vegan doughnuts that will impress and let loose your creativity. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and try it for yourself. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Wedding Soup - Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup


Hey all!

Wow, oh wow, what a crazy last couple of months it's been. For those of you that are not following me on Instagram or Facebook (though you should be, it's updated daily, unlike this), I should give you this update: I just got married.


That's right! B and I tied the knot at long last and are now continuing our life together as husband and wife. But hey, you didn't come here for that, did you? You came for the delicious wedding soup recipe! Why wouldn't you want to know why a vegan pumpkin curry soup is called 'wedding' soup? Well, let me tell you...

We got married on October 21st at a glorious little venue, surrounded by friends, family, and the most glorious floral arrangements you could imagine. A part of our aesthetic were these beautiful Jarrahdale pumpkins, that are a ghostly greenish-gray. They are spooky and autumnal without being kitschy, and that's just what I wanted for my enchanting wedding. We had, of course, lots of pumpkins left over so I told my guests to take them home, as many as they wanted...so long as I got first pick.

B and I honeymooned in the Grand Canyon and came back to a mess of a house - but hey, that's how we left it. And the pumpkins? Why, they were perfectly happy to be right there in the garage. It's cool and dry down there, and the perfect place to store produce. A pumpkin will keep for months in the right conditions, so they really are an excellent crop to have growing in your garden.  Do I plan on growing these in my garden from now on? You'd better believe it. It's not every day you get to designate yourself your own wedding pumpkin, now is it?

This recipe was made a bit on the fly, so I just copied down what I did, as I did it. You must remember that a pumpkin is a living creature, so each one will taste a little different than the last. Some may be firmer, some may have more water - just remember to follow your own instincts and taste as you go, changing as you need and as you like ... just like in life! And just like in marriage! Oh, and like in marriage (or in any long term relationship you get yourself into), patience is required. This recipe takes two days!

Wedding Soup
yields quite a lot, serves 8 - 10 


  • 1 medium Jarrahdale pumpkin, roasted (see following)
  • 6 Tbsp vegan butter substitute or canola oil, divided
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped (never mind the peel)
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small habanero pepper, minced (wear gloves, if you please!)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground mint
  • 2 Tbsp white miso
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Vegan sour cream, to serve

First thing's first - let's get that pumpkin roasting. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and cut your pumpkin in half. Be careful because it's a rather thick pumpkin with a smooth skin. Take your time and cut it in half safely. Scoop out all the seeds and cut deep scores on the insides. Rub the insides of the pumpkin with either oil or your favorite vegan butter substitute, and don't be stingy with it. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 2 hours, or until the pumpkin is very soft indeed. In the meantime, prep all of your vegetables and wash and rinse the pulp to harvest your seeds. It won't matter what size you chop your vegetables to, so long as they're all the same size, as you're going to be pureeing all of this anyway. 

And, yes, I did label the jar "wedding seeds" in the cupboard. #JustWitchyThings
My pumpkin yielded a whole jar full, once rinsed and let dry! You can save them in an airtight container in a dark place, of course, for your garden next spring, or you can cook them. Roasted pumpkin seeds can be excellent snacks, and you can cook them into a lovely candy brittle, if you so choose. I'm saving mine for the garden, so I'll be keeping them in my cupboard until spring. 

Once it's roasted and very soft, I advise you to let it cool overnight in the fridge. This will make everything much easier and a bit safer to handle in the fridge. Besides, I only used half of the roasted pumpkin for my soup! It was too much for my Dutch oven to handle all of the pumpkin, so I took the other half and pureed it instead, and then popped it in the freezer for later use...probably to make pies or cakes later in the year as the holidays go!

Now that it's the next day, ideally early in the morning, and your pumpkin half is cool enough to be handled and scraped out, take all of the vegetables that you've already chopped and sweat them in 2 Tbsp of your favorite vegan butter substitute, with the lid on, until rather soft and aromatic, which should take 15 minutes on medium heat. Add in your scraped out pumpkin, two cans of full-fat coconut milk, and your 2 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes on low. It's at this point that you stir in your spices and miso, and then turn off the heat. Let it sit, covered, for 20 minutes, before you remove the cover, stir again, and then pop in your fridge to let cool all day (ideally overnight). But what the heck are you doing this for?

Well! 

Pumpkin has a delicate flavor, so you don't want to cook it for too long - after all, you've already roasted it - and the spices don't want to be murdered in the heat, but slowly allowed to seep in and dance with the other flavors that you're developing. Think of a tea! You're making a cold-brew soup. Right? Right!

When you come home from work  - either that same day or the next day - you're ready to finish the soup. Simply bring it up to a boil again, taste for salt and seasonings, add more or less miso depending on if it's too spicy for you, and then turn off the heat. Take out your vitamix (or whatever blender you have) and blend in batches. And dear GODS above, please start on the lowest setting possible. This is an absolute crucial thing to do when dealing with hot liquids, so please do be safe. 

You're blending the soup in batches, going from lowest to highest, blending for at least 1 minute per batch, to ensure that this is the smoothest and creamiest soup you ever did sup. Pop in a clean and warm serving kettle and retire your dutch oven to the sink, and serve tableside. You may finish with some tofu sour cream and some mint, if you like, or just have it with a grilled cheese (made from vegan cheeses, of course).  



I made enough for dinner for 8 people, so I gave some to our neighbors across the street - one of which is the fabulous @Mia Mercado, the author of "An Ode to Soup" (so you know I had to give her and her husband some). We froze some, as well, and are keeping the rest for lunch during the week.

This soup is a fabulous concoction, so smooth and creamy that you'd never know it was vegan. I encourage you to give this pumpkin soup a shot during fall, a.k.a. Soup Season. Thanks so much for reading, and wish me luck on married life! May your own love life leave you so satisfied with the taste of it that you end up scraping the dish. 


Happy cooking and happy eating!