Oatmeal Bread

I was planning to post a St. Patty’s Day recipe (green falafel!) but it didn’t turn out very well, so I decided to go with something I haven’t made in a while: bread. I’m heading down to Missouri to visit a good friend of mine next week (so excited!!) and will probably bring a loaf of this with me to snack on along the way.

Note: This bread is pretty sweet (especially the crust) so keep that in mind before you start the recipe.

Oatmeal Bread

Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal flour (I ground 1 cup oatmeal up in my coffee grinder)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • egg replacer, equal to one egg (I used flax eggs)
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In another smaller bowl mix together the egg replacer, soy milk, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  3. My dough was quite sticky at this point. You may have to put some oil on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them as you transfer it to a greased loaf pan. You can sprinkle some oats on top if you’d like. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean you’re good to go. If the edges are done but the middle is not, line the edges with tin foil and continue to bake until the knife comes out clean.
  4. When the loaf is done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Eat while warm or move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from How It All Vegan

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Tasty Thanksgiving Recipes

Uffda… it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. The job hunt and activist causes have kept me quite busy, and I’ve been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration and motivation. Thanksgiving dinner served as the perfect excuse to look up some recipes and write a blog post.

I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of the canned cranberry sauce that’s everywhere in the grocery stores this time of year. I grew up eating the stuff, and I still love it. This year I wanted to try something a little more… sophisticated (and less corn syrup-y) so I decided to make my own cranberry sauce.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 3

*This tastes even better the next day, so keep that in mind when deciding when to start cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the cranberries, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and 3/4 cup water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop during this time and the mixture will thicken a bit.
  2. Add the orange zest, chopped candied ginger, and orange juice and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for an 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick. Add additional sweetener as desired.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn

Sticking with the theme of “less processed foods are tastier,” I decided to make homemade rolls as well.

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (plus more for sprinkling on top of rolls, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • egg
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t get foamy you’ll need to try again with another packet of yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to the point just before it boils (this is called scalding the milk, but that’s not a super helpful term). It should be foamy around the edges and have wisps of steam coming off of it. Remove the milk from the heat and add it to the cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Stir to melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Mix well and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add the egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour, then add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need for the dough to lose its sheen. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough into a greased bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
  5. Knead the chilled dough slightly. You can do this in the bowl or on a floured surface. Break the dough up into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat-ish rectangle, then roll it up and tuck the ends under. Place the rolls seam-side down in a greased 9-inch pan. I used a square pan and it worked fine. Brush all over with melted butter and sprinkle with some rolled oats. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’re about double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when you tap them. The internal temperature should be right around 190 degrees. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

And finally, Thanksgiving just isn’t complete (in my mind) without pie. This one’s a dairy-free pumpkin pie, and it’s pretty darn good.

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie 1

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1 /4 cups almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425° F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the oil and almond milk into the well. Mix until a dough forms, then press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges if desired.
  3. Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk. Add the pumpkin mixture to the sugar mixture mix well. Pour into the prepared crust and place on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven. You may have some filling left, I used mine to make muffins.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for 75 to 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I checked for doneness every ten minutes or so after the 60 minute mark. The center may be a bit soft but will firm up later, especially if you refrigerate the pie.

The crust was a little too thick and a bit dry, but the filling was absolutely delicious.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

With all of the extra time I have while job hunting you’d think I’d be able to stay on top of things here, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook checked out from the library for a few weeks now and was all set to make this recipe when I realized I didn’t have any yeast. And then I got busy (or just lazy) and didn’t make it to the grocery store for a while.

The first time I had challah was at a sex positive Shabbat that I attended while I was an undergraduate student. Everything I ate was delicious but I remember really liking the challah. It’s been a few years since I’ve had it; when I lived in Minneapolis during grad school I would occasionally pick up a loaf from the local Kowalski’s market. This is a sweeter, somewhat healthier version (thanks to whole wheat flour) of traditional challah.

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

Challah

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus some for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs, plus another for the egg wash
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top (if desired)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and honey together with 2/3 cup warm water. Let sit until the mixture gets foamy. Add the remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Whisk until everything is combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the wet ingredients and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and somewhat stretchy. Place in an olive oil-coated bowl and let rise for about an hour.
  4. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise make the fig paste. In a small saucepan combine the figs, orange zest, water, orange juice, salt, and the black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the figs are tender and everything looks a bit gooier, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour the fix mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until it forms a paste. Set aside.
  6. After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (again). Cut the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a rectangular shape, getting it as thin as you can. Spread half of the fig paste on the dough, keeping about an inch between the paste and the edge of the dough. Roll it into a thin log and cut it in half. Seal the ends as best you can so you don’t have fig paste oozing out. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  7. Twist your dough into a challah shape. I know that’s really vague, but completing this step depends on how elastic your dough is and how thin/long your strands are… here’s a YouTube video demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPfhQJ_D338 and here’s an eHow guide: http://www.ehow.com/how_8666007_twist-challah-bread.html. My dough was not super elastic so I just twisted it a few times and tucked in the ends.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on it. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush the dough with egg wash.
  9. Let the dough rise for another 40 to 45 minutes and then preheat the oven to 375° F. Brush the dough with egg wash again, and sprinkle on that extra sea salt if you want. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack, and bake the challah for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s nice and golden brown.
  10. Let the challah rest on a wire cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and eating.

As seen in the picture above, my challah strands were pretty thick (and not super elastic) so it doesn’t look as pretty as it could. Still tastes wonderful, though, which is much more important.

Source: Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Whole Wheat Banana Chapatis

And this is the other recipe for the weekend… not what I intended to make, but the recipe I was going to make called for buttermilk and I was too lazy to get some this morning and don’t want to buy something like that right before going out of town. These are made with whole wheat flour, which certainly makes me feel better about eating them.

Whole Wheat Banana Chapatis

Chapatis

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups plus 3 tbsp whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling, divided use
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • melted butter for brushing (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 1 3/4 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add the vegetable oil, and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingers.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl mash the bananas. Spray your hands with some nonstick cooking spray and knead the bananas into the flour mixture.
  3. Lightly flour whatever work surface you’ll be using to knead and roll out the dough. Stir the bowling water into the dough, and let cool slightly. Knead the mixture into a sticky dough and then turn it out onto the work surface. Work the remaining flour into the dough, and knead until it’s soft. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat (or in my case, medium-ish, as my stove is a bit overzealous).
  5. Divide the dough into eight equal parts and roll each into a ball. Cover with the damp cloth again.
  6. Take one ball of dough and coat it in flour. Roll it out into about a 7-inch round. Place in the skillet and watch for bubbles to form on the surface. When you see bubbles turn over the chapati  and cook for another minute or so. Repeat the process with the other dough balls, cleaning out the skillet as needed. If you want to eat these right away you can brush them with the melted butter, and stack them on a plate under a dish towel to keep them warm.

I ate one chapati with peanut butter (yum) and the other with some banana slices that I cooked in a skillet with some water and brown sugar for a few minutes (and I added peanut butter – I love the stuff!). The banana flavor in these is pretty subtle but they are a tad sweet which makes them ideal for breakfast/snack/dessert.

Source: Adapted from a recipe in the Washington Post, via the Pioneer Press

Homemade Baguette

It’s  Spring Break at my school site this week, which means I have more time to spend doing things I haven’t had much time for in the past few weeks, like cooking. It’s not too often that I get a series of not-so-busy days in a row, which is perfect for recipes that take more time, like this one for baguettes (and another one that, fingers crossed, I’ll be starting later this week).

My first authentic baguette experience (yea that sounds kind of silly) occurred during the summer before I started high school. I was traveling around Europe on a three-week educational trip, and spent a few days staying with a host family in a cute little house somewhere near Paris. I believe it was the first night’s dinner that featured the tasty baguette (along with some paté that looked gross but probably tasted wonderful), which was passed around the table so folks could rip off a chunk. This was a new but fun experience for me, and it’s still my favorite way to eat a baguette.

Homemade Baguette

Baguette 1

Ingredients

Starter

  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1/16 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 1 cup bread flour

Dough

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • the starter
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. To make the starter: In a medium bowl, mix yeast with water, then add in the flour to make a soft dough. If you’re using instant yeast you can skip the first step and just mix everything together. Cover with a towel and let sit for about 14 hours. The starter should have risen a bit by the time the 14 hours is up.
  2. To make the dough: If using active dry yeast, mix it with the water first, then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. If using instant yeast you can just mix everything together. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it’s somewhat soft and smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for three hours. Deflate and turn the dough at 1 and 2 hour marks.
  4. After three hours of rise time, turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface (I used a baking sheet) and divide it into three pieces. Shape each piece into a slightly flat oval, cover with a towel, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Take one piece of the dough and fold it in half lengthwise (AKA hot-dog style). Seal the edges with your fingertips, and then fold in half and seal again.
  6. Turn the dough so the seam is on the bottom, then gently roll and pull the dough, forming it into a 15″ log.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other two pieces of dough. Place all three logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let sit for 1.5 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 450°F. Grab a sharp knife, hold it at a 45° angle, and make three vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes with warm water – this will help crisp up the crust.
  9. Bake the baguettes for 25-30 minutes, or until they’re as brown and crispy as you’d like them. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Try a slice of baguette with one or two slow-roasted tomatoes on top. Yum!

Source:  King Arthur Flour 

Vegan Whole Wheat English Muffins

Greetings and Happy New Year! I’ve been sick with some sort of upper respiratory thing since Christmas Eve, so I haven’t been cooking as much as usual. It’s not super fun to cook (for myself or others) when I have random, unpredictable coughing fits from time to time. I’m hoping whatever it is that I have is finally on the way out.

I started a (mostly) dairy-free diet over a year ago, which has forced me to pay far closer attention to food labels than I did before. While limited amounts of dairy in baked goods is usually fine, I try to avoid it if I can. Many store-bought baked goods have some sort of dairy product in them (often whey), so I’m always grateful when I can find a product or a recipe that does not contain dairy.

Vegan Whole Wheat English Muffins

English muffins

Yield: 16-20 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm almond milk or other non-dairy milk (regular, unsweetened is best)
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 packet of instant yeast
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free butter substitute (I used Earth Balance), melted
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, almond milk, sugar, and yeast. Let stand until frothy. Meanwhile, whisk the flours and salt together in another large bowl.
  2. Whisk the melted butter substitute into the yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt mixture one or two cups at a time and mix well. I started with the whisk and eventually just used my hands as the dough became sticky and tougher to work with. Knead the dough for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let sit 1 to 1 1/2 hours until it has about doubled in bulk.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  4. Once dough has risen, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out until it’s about 1 inch thick. If you have a biscuit cutter you can use that to cut out the muffins, otherwise use something round (with sharp enough edges to cut the dough), about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. I used a plastic kitchen funnel.
  5. Place muffins on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I turned the muffins over a few times to make sure both sides had cornmeal on them. Cover with a towel and let sit 30 to 40 minutes to rise some more.
  6. Preheat oven to 325°F, and heat a lightly oiled griddle to 300°F. Place the muffins on the griddle and cook each side until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a baking sheet and finish in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool briefly on the pan, then transfer to wire cooling racks.

While these are a little less light and fluffy than store-bought english muffins, they taste pretty good. This recipe makes a lot of muffins; you can toss them in the freezer if you’re not going to eat them right away.

Source: Adapted from About.com, with a few tidbits from SavorySimple

Lentil Bread

I’ve been meaning to make some bread for a while now – just waiting to find a good recipe and the perfect occasion at which to serve it. My family was planning to go to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some bread to serve as our contribution to the meal. The savory-ness of this bread pairs wonderfully with traditional Thanksgiving fare. It’s wonderful with just a bit of gravy on top, and would probably be great in stuffing, too.

Lentil Bread

Lentil Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dry red/pink lentils
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • a generous pinch of cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • handful of rolled oats (for sprinkling on top of bread)

Instructions

  1. Wash and drain the lentils. Place in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Cook on medium-low heat until tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture sit until frothy – about 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flours, salt, and spices together. Add to the yeast mixture. Add the oil, cooked lentils, and water and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour or water as needed.
  4. Grease the bowl, sprinkle a bit of water on top of the dough, cover with a towel, and let sit for 1 1/2 — 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for another minute. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased bread pan. Sprinkle water on top. Sprinkle oats on top, and press them into the dough (otherwise they’ll just go everywhere when you take the loaf out of the pan). Cover with a towel and let rise for 40 minutes.
  6. Bake at pre-heated 375° F for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and has formed a nice crust on the outside.

Source: Adapted from Vegan Richa