Wednesday, July 29, 2015
I'm still knitting! I know that it doesn't seem like it, but I do have some small projects that I'm clicking away on while watching American Ninja Warrior, a guilty indulgence that motivates me to climb harder routes at the gym.
These slippers are for a friend who fondly remembers getting new pair of slippers annually from her grandmother. Although her grandmother is no longer here, my friend did have her grandmother's pattern and the last pair of slippers (preserved in a Ziplock bag) tucked away. With those items in hand, I was able to recreate the slippers - I'm a sucker for a challenge.
I love the way these turned out. They do remind me of something my grandmother or an elderly relative would knit for her beloveds.
These slippers were cool because they are knit flat and then seamed together. My project notes are here.
Does anyone know of a similar pattern? I was trying to find the original source, but no luck.
Monday, June 29, 2015
The aquafaba mayo obsession continues! A few beautiful artichokes made their way into my produce cart, and I just so happened to have some aquafaba on hand because I can't stop making curried chickpea rice pulao. Artichokes call for mayonnaise, and hence this recipe was born!
I have a stockpile of aquafaba and some freeze dried fruit to experiment with now (Safeway carries organic free dried fruit, and Trader Joes carries regular freeze dried fruit)! Powdered freeze dried fruits are a wonderful way to use natural flavoring and coloring to cakes, macarons, and other baked goods without adding extra moisture, so I'm excited to start experimenting! I really want to make a vegan mochi cake.
Although I'm an omnivore, I've found that creativity can be induced when I restrict ingredients. I've made the most amazing food when forced to cook from my pantry, and cooking this way gets me out of ruts. That seems backwards, but cooking this way challenges me and makes me create instead of following along.
Vegan Truffled Mayonnaise
makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise
1/4 C aquafaba
2 T white truffle oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp homemade garlic salt (use 1/4 tsp if using store-bought garlic salt)
1 T Dijon mustard
3/4-1 C peanut oil (any neutral oil will do)
special equipment: immersion blender or blender
Blend together the aquafaba, white truffle oil, white wine vinegar, garlic salt, and Dijon mustard on low speed. After a few seconds, start drizzling in the oil until the mixture emulsifies. Continue to add at least 3/4 C oil. Stop blending and taste the mixture, adding more salt or vinegar if necessary
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
For consecutive weekends, the boy has spent half his time kayak fishing. What this means is that, if we're lucky, once a week we have fish for dinner. Fish smells like, well, fish, so the best way to prepare it without being reminded that we had fish for dinner days later is to grill it outside. Especially since we're eating different fishes and want to compare their tastes, we're marinating them the same way with shake of salt, a grind of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a mince of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. So far, we've had striped bass, rock cod, halibut, and skate (listed in order of my preference) prepared this way.
The boy has been asking me to pick up garlic salt from the store for ages because sometimes the fresh garlic burns on the grill, and I've hesitated because it seems stupid to buy something that I knew had to be easy to make, especially with our dehydrator. So, when we found ourselves in Martinez as the farmers' market was closing, we struck a deal with a garlic vendor and got 3 pounds of garlic for $3. Score! Now, it was time to figure out how to make garlic salt.
The hardest part is peeling the garlic, which is to say, making garlic salt is not hard. Once the garlic cloves are peeled and washed, it was quick work to chop it up and spread it out on a dehydrator rack. I put the temperature to 125 °F, the vegetable setting, for 8 hours.
It will smell like Gilroy in your house for the first few hours, so you and your roomies will be safe from vampires.
Once the garlic is dehydrated, let it cool to room temperature, and then pulse it in a blender 4 or times times and assess the volume - my blender has graduated markings on the side, so I saw that I had about 1 cup of garlic. I added 1 cup of flakey sea salt to the blender. If you want your garlic salt less garlicky. add more salt. Continue pulsing the blender until the garlic salt is as course as cornmeal. That's it! Now you have homemade garlic salt. For the quantity I processed, I ended up with about 1.5 cups of garlic salt.
Monday, June 22, 2015
After this week's success with the black bean aquafaba macarons, I decided to try my hand at mayonnaise. I've made egg mayonnaise plenty of times with my immersion blender, using one egg for a batch. I find that this is the perfect amount for my mayo needs, and this usually goes hand in hand with the asparagus and tomato seasons.
It worked! Other than substituting 1/4 C of reduced aquafaba for one whole egg, the recipe is the same as the non-vegan version.
A note about aquafaba: to use it as an egg substitute, the aquafaba should be reduced to the consistency of egg whites. When I first started experimenting with the stuff, I'd refrigerate it after reducing. If the aquafaba gelled in the refrigerator, it has been reduced too much and you'll end up with really dense macarons or mayo. No worries, though, because you can always think it out with a little bit of water.
Aquafaba Basil and Sherry Mayonnaise
1/4 C reduced aquafaba (I used black bean water aquafaba)
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 C peanut oil (any neutral oil will do)
1/4 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: immersion blender or blender
Blend together at low speed the aquafaba, sherry vinegar, mustard, and salt. After a few seconds, start slowly adding the oil until the mixture emulsifies. This usually takes me about 3/4 cup of oil, but sometimes it takes a little more. When you get the desired consistency, add the basil leaves and blend until incorporated. Taste for salt and vinegar and adjust if necessary.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Since I am sick of eating chickpeas in any form, I decided to make vegan macarons using black beans. Black beans are way more tasty. (Have you ever tried refried black beans mashed with a fruity olive oil and chipotles in adobo? If not, hop to it!)
The black bean aquafaba did not look promising at first. I had whip it on high for at least 10 minutes before it got to the soft peak stage. Once I added the sugar, though, it whipped up just like the chickpea aquafaba. There is now way I could have whipped this liquid up by hand, though, because it was going for at least 15 minutes.
The resulting macaron shells were a lovely shade of light purple. I filled these guys with a pistachio/cocoa/chili ganache to play up the slight fruitiness of the black bean macarons.
I am so relieved that I can make macarons with other types of bean liquid because chickpeas were becoming boring! On the Vegan Meringue group on Facebook, others have reported that they can make meringues from lentil aquafaba, kidney bean aquafaba, and the water that's packaged with fresh tofu. This stuff is so fun to experiment with!
Has anyone else tried making these and, if so, what type of liquid did you use?
Monday, June 15, 2015
In addition to all the aquafaba posts, vegan blogs have been buzzing about pulled "pork" sandwiches made from canned jackfruit. The canned jackfruit, I read, had to be young green jackfruit in brine, not the dessert jackfruit in syrup. I was intrigued. While in Sri Lanka, we made a jackfruit curry, and it did have a meaty texture.
I opted to use canned jackfruit instead of buying one (they are huge, although you can buy partial jackfruits at 99 Ranch) because I read about how sticky and messy they were. If I liked the BBQ jackfruit, I reasoned, I could buy one next time.
After I drained and rinsed the jackfruit, I cut out off the core of each segment, leaving the feathery part of the jackfruit and some of the rind.
After I prepared the jackfruit, I made a BBQ sauce, which I improvised starting with the Joy of Cooking's ketchup recipe. My sauce was like ketchup with a hefty does of liquid smoke, smoked paprika, worcestershire sauce (not vegan), caramelized onions, and brown sugar. Once the sauce was done, I tossed in the jackfruit and simmered it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I shredded the jackfruit just like I would for pulled pork, using 2 forks.
Since I didn't have hamburger buns but I did have loads of flour, I made Taste of Home's 40-minute hamburger buns recipe. Unwillingness to drive to the store is the mother of invention, in my case.
The buns turned out beautiful, although the batch I baked with the Silpat were a little too brown on the bottom, so I should have rotated the pans 1/2 way through baking. Flavor-wise, they were simplistic when compared to Acme breads or any other bread with a starter, but for 10 minutes of work, I'm not complaining.
Will I make this again? Maybe. It tasted mostly like BBQ sauce since the jackfruit absorbs flavors. The texture was much softer than pulled pork, so if I do make these again, I will bake the jackfruit shreds first to firm them up or run them in the dehydrator for a few hours so they can have some chew. The boy thought they were pretty close the real thing. It is easier to keep a couple of jackfruit cans in the pantry than to go out and buy pork if the mood strikes for BBQ sandwiches, so there's that advantage. And, since I always have homemade canned tomatoes around, making BBQ sauce isn't a huge deal.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Finally! I've made 5 small batches of vegan macrons, and it wasn't until the 5th try that I got both feet and no raw middles. To celebrate, I made a coconut pistachio ganache for filling. I wish I had a small piping bag so I could make the filling pretty, but it's me we're talking about! It took me a long time to get the macarons right because I kept on doing stupid things like opening the oven early, peeling them off the parchment paper before they were cooled, and refusing to weigh my ingredients. Baking is tedious for me, while cooking is relaxing. However, I was determined to make these because making macarons out of something I regularly pour down the drain (chickpea cooking liquid) is magical and appeals to my thrifty ways.
What isn't thrifty is almond flour. The brand I like to use, Bob's Red Mill, goes for about $13/lb when packaged. I like this brand because they grind up blanched almonds, so the bitter skins are removed. However, while at Safeway to purchase a 24-pack of chicken hot dogs (disgusting training treats for Sesame), I saw that there is now a huge bulk section. Safeway had Bob's Red Mill almond flour in bulk, and it was $6.49/lb. Score! Their organic nuts and beans were also several dollars cheaper than other stores, so if you don't think Safeway is the devil, go for it!
Floral Frosting's and Let's Go Bake a Cake's vegan macaron recipes and were helpful. I followed the second recipe, listing all the ingredients by weight and omitting the coloring and seam seeds. Avocados and Ales also has a killer macaron troubleshooting guide. There Facebook group Vegan Meringues - Hits and Misses is also a great resource that includes lots of pretty and sometimes hilariously sad pictures of people's aquafaba experiments.
For the macaron filling, I winged it. Although I'm not vegan and I could have made a buttercream, I stuck to the vegan theme and made a pistachio ganache that is dairy-free. I'll post the recipe below in case anyone else is interested in trying it.
1/4 c raw pistachios, whole
1 T water or non-dairy milk
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T refined coconut oil
pinch of salt
pinch of salt
Pulse the pistachios to a powder using a Vitamix or other blender. Set aside.
In mixer, using paddle attachment, mix the coconut oil on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and ground nuts. Add water or non-dairy milk 1 T at a time, adding more if needed to make the paste spreadable.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Greaseball is a straight up carnivore, and as such, he frowns upon my plant-based food experiments. They leave him hungry.
Speaking of plant-based food, I watched "Forks Over Knives" last week, and everyone in that movie avoids the "V word" and instead says "plant-based foods." Come on! Just say "vegan" and don't dance around it! At first, I thought they were avoiding the word because they were going to talk strictly about diet and not lifestyle changes, but that wasn't the case. It reminded me of the movie "Let Me Be Frank," when Frank who had already signed a contract to let Cafe Gratitude take over his diet and lifestyle, was dumbfounded when his keepers cleaned out the microwave from his apartment. You know why? Because no one told him, or he didn't figure out, that Cafe Gratitude was a vegan raw food joint. I understand that there is power in words and many people have negative associations with veganism, so it was interring to see how "Forks Over Knives" rebranded vegainism as "plant-based diet."
As many of you know (and probably why my RSS subscribers are leaving by the handful every week), I am a bit obsessed with nut cheese. I even went to a panel discussion on vegan cheese during Oakland Veg Week, although that was a little weird. The woman next to me said earnestly "You are very brave" during a show of hands of omnivorous audience members - I suspect I was the only one there who was an omnivore because I didn't see anyone in front of me with a raised hand I a felt too weird to look behind me in the room of about 100 people. I was the most excited person in the audience, though! The discussion was interesting, but it was more geared towards vegetarians who were thinking about crossing over to veganism and not those of us who just want to make a good nut cheese for the sake of nut cheese.
And speaking of nut cheese, a phrase I find myself saying often, I made the most amazing vegan nacho cheese sauce from Kenji at Serious Eats. We paired it with corn chips and black bean burgers and we felt fat and happy afterwards. Why is oozy cheese sauce such balm for the soul? The most interesting part of the recipe was that it achieved it's stretchy properties from russet potatoes that have been put through a high speed blender. There was no kappa carrageenan, agar, or xanthan gum added. Just potatoes! I want to tweak with the flavorings to make a smoked gouda cheese sauce because my last attempt with some carrageenan was a little funky. This nacho cheese sauce is going to get a second life as mac and cheese very soon.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Liquid leftover from cooking chickpeas, when whipped with sugar and vanilla, tastes just like marshmallow fluff! The aquafaba (water + bean) craze has been going around mostly the vegan blogosphere for the past few months, but it was new to me.
When baked, said marshmallow fluff turns into meringues. Vegan meringues taste just like eggy meringues, too!
I've taking some good-natured ribbing about turning chickpea brine into a dessert, but how is it any different or grosser than using egg whites? Egg whites are just as slimy as gooey as chickpea brine. It's a matter of perspective. Also, to mask the eggy taste, lots of recipes call for vanilla, and eggless meringues benefit from vanilla as well to mask any perceived bean taste.
Personally, I'm all for kitchen experiments. I'm not vegan by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like the idea of taking something that was formerly a waste product and turning it into something fabulous and cool or making something, like cheese, out of nuts. My next experiment is going to be aquafaba mayonnaise. Fortunately, I have plenty of canned chickpeas (I pressure can big batches of beans once every 3 months), so I have organic aquafaba galore!
I'm a deficient baker, so if anyone has any idea why my meringues turned out hollow, please leave me a comment! I added 1/2 c of sugar to probably 1/3 cup of aquafaba, and baked these at 200 °F for 2 hours. I don't think I ever made traditional meringues before, so this is all new to me.
Monday, June 1, 2015
In Sri Lanka, my snack of choice was fried chickpeas. I had a bag of them I took on the bus, and I'd happily munch on them between meals. I've been thinking about making my own version for awhile, but the final push came when I was trying to think of a vegan snack to take to crafty gathering. Sadly, I ran out of nut cheese, but I did have some cooked chickpeas that were canned in quart jars.
Since deep frying takes too much tending, I wanted to make these chickpea snacks by roasting them in the oven. I'm happy to report that my first try turned out crunchy and addictive. In other words, it was the perfect snack!
For seasoning, I mixed together smoked Spanish paprika, cumin, salt, and evaporated cane sugar. After I rinsed and dried the chickpeas (using a clean kitchen towel), I gently stirred the spice mixture and olive oil over the beans. I adjusted the spices until I felt that the beans were just slightly underseasoned because I thought that the seasoning would taste right once the chickpeas were dried. In retrospect, I should have added a touch more salt, but that could have been corrected once the beans were out of the oven.
Once the beans were seasoned, I spread them out, single layer, on a baking tray brushed with more olive oil. They were roasted at 350 °F with the convection fan on (roast at 375 °F if you don't have a convection oven) for roughly 40 minutes. After 15 minutes and every 10 minutes afterward, I checked the chickpeas and shook them around in the pan so they didn't stick. They are done when the beans are golden brown, but not burned.