Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sea'd Cakes


I had this idea to do a fish stick or fish cake using seeds as the base and seaweed for that fish flavor. I'd made a mock clam chowder many years ago with hijiki (aka hiziki) so I knew that could do the trick.

It's funny what goes on the labels of foods. After we got home from the grocery store, I read the directions on the hijiki to see if I needed to marinate it to get the best flavor. Well, yes, however the arsenic warning really caught my eye.

After a bit more research into what might be in packaged seaweeds, I decided against the fish cake idea no matter how clever I thought using "sea'd" in the name might be.

So now my savory seed base is sitting in the fridge waiting for inspiration to strike. I'll think of something tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nut-Free Dark Chocolate Holiday Brownies


Equipment needed:
Stove, Oven, 2 Cookie Sheets, 1 Large Bowl with Lid, 1 Large Sauce Pot, Parchment Paper, 1 Large Stirring Spoon, Two 1 cup Measuring Cups, 1/2 tsp Measuring Spoon, Knife or Pizza Cutter (optional)


Initial prep: This prep is for two recipes - 1 savory and 1 sweet

Put the following into a large bowl (like a 7 cup pyrex):
2 cups raw, shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
3 cups water

Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Let sit for 4 hours or so. Hang on to the 1 cup measure as it will come in handy for each of the next 2 parts.


2nd prep: Place the mixture in the Vita-Mix or Food Processor, add 3 cups of water, and blend. This will be thick and may require tamping in the Vita-Mix. I used the liquid container because the dry one we have is too small for this much mixture. Chunky results are preferred.

Half of this is the base "milk" for the sweet recipe.
I used the 1 cup measure from the initial prep to scoop this into the Vita-Mix and add the water.


Turn oven on to 350 degrees to pre-heat.

On the stove, on low heat, in the sauce pot:

4 cups of the above mixture (still the same 1 cup measure)
1 package vegan, gluten-free dark chocolate chips
     (This one is Pascha 100% cacao - another allergy sensitive chocolate brand)
1 cup sugar of your choice (here's where the second 1 cup measure comes into play)
     (I like coconut sugar for it's lower glycemic value, but I haven't checked if that's considered nut free - I have my doubts on that score)

Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the stovetop. Add to the sauce pot:

1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (A "seasonal" item in our local stores so we bought it online)
1 cup quinoa flour (or other gluten-free, nut-free flour)

Stir until well mixed. The peppermint flavor was light. Waiting to see if it gets stronger in the baking.
[Decided twice the peppermint would be better - so 1 Tbl peppermint extract - Edited to add that others felt the amount of peppermint was just fine as is]

Cut a piece of parchment paper about the size of the cookie sheet. Empty the sauce pot contents onto the middle of the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Spread to about 1/4 to 1/2" thickness. Score lines about the size you want your brownies to be (optional).

Baking times vary, but here are the basics.
Check the brownies after the first 30 minutes and then every 5-15 minutes depending on how close to done they are. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven. Place the other cookie sheet on top and flip them together so the brownies are now upside down on the second cookie sheet. Remove the first cookie sheet and the parchment paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Recipe Cheats - Chocolate


I buy this one particular package of dark chocolate chips to use in my baking - or just to snack on :-)

Enjoy Life's Dark Chocolate Morsels - ingredients are unsweetened chocolate and cane sugar. Nothing else. I really like these as it's the only sugar I include in my chocolate recipes. Some day I might figure out a balance with raw cacao powder and coconut sugar, or baking chocolate and coconut sugar, but this is easy and I think it's about the same price.

There are recipes on their website. Haven't looked at them yet, but they are an allergy friendly company, so their recipes might be very interesting.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nut Meat Sliders


I was experimenting with a pasta topper when I found that equal parts of walnuts (earthy), almonds (sweet), and cashews (sweet) made a great combination flavor. On their own, the mixture is quite dry though.

The first time around for this particular recipe, I added an equal amount of pine nuts. What they basically add is oil, and an equal amount was far too much oil.

If you can't do nuts, substitute sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I'll post a recipe using those another time that will have a different slant on this.

I'm not certain at this point if the spices play that big of a role just yet. The thyme, basil, and oregano below are optional. The onion is required for it's moisture content as well as flavor. If you prefer a spicier flavor, try a hotter onion.

Equipment Needed: 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1 teaspoon, food processor or Vita-Mix with the dry container, large mixing bowl, large spoon, small spoon, candy molds, cookie sheet (frying this as ground meat or burgers is also an option - more on that at the end)


1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 small red onion
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil

Blend in the Vita-Mix or food processor, and refrigerate for ~4 hours.

Grind the following in the food processor or Vita-Mix. Coarse ground is fine. You might notice a few pieces of nuts that don't get ground and that's okay.

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds or almond meal

Place ground nuts in the mixing bowl. Add the refrigerated mixture. Mix well with the large spoon or whatever works best for you.

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat while finishing. Spread thin layer of olive oil inside rectangular candy molds. Using the small spoon, fill the molds and tamp down. Fills ~40 molds.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Now this part can be tricky and is optional: Flip the molds onto a cookie sheet and remove the molds. When flipping, some of the molds may empty prematurely. This can cause the sliders to not land on the cookie sheets, or to only stay there momentarily before they slide off the side. If you choose to leave them in the molds, that's fine.

Bake for 30 minutes.


Baking in candy molds creates a finger food that can be dipped in a sauce or covered in your favorite condiment. The longer they bake, the more dry they'll get. The candy molds can be plain, or you can get the ones that are particular shapes like flowers, stars, dinosaurs, etc. (Thanks for that idea, Jane!)

If you decide not to bake this and instead make ground 'meat', it's a sticky recipe and will mold to whatever shape you like. I used olive oil in a cast iron pan to fry this as a ground pasta topping. I haven't tried to cook it as a burger yet. That's the next experiment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Recipe Cheats - Beans


There is a balance between time, effort, and money in my recipes. Sometimes - to save time - I will use a 'cheat' that has already been prepared. There may be cheaper options that require more work and/or time.

Beans -
In the can or in an aseptic pack saves time. These have added salt.
Buying dry beans and cooking them ahead of time saves money. The salt content is under your control.

Lentils can be used instead of the beans. They are generally easier and less time-consuming to cook.

Bean and/or Avocado Dip


This is a mix and match recipe with many possible combinations. It can be hummus. It can be guacamole. It can be neither and both of those.

Fair warning, I'm not fond of tahini and am overly fond of garlic.

Equipment needed: Food processor or Vita-Mix with the dry container, knife, cutting board, bowl or cup to hold liquid, can opener or scissors, optional lemon squeezer

Basic Recipe:
1 can or aseptic pack of beans (aseptic pack will probably have less beans than the can)
3 cloves of garlic
Spices - your choice

Drain the beans, but keep the liquid handy. Peel the garlic. Put the beans, the garlic, and your spices into the food processor or Vita-Mix. Blend. Add some of the saved liquid until you reach the desired consistency. You might need to stop occasionally and shove everything down towards the blades. The Vita-Mix has a nice tamper to help with that, and you don't have to stop blending to use it.

Options:
Add onions
Squeeze a lemon into it
Add tahini - sparingly because it's a strong flavor
Use an avocado instead of the beans
Add an avocado to the beans

If this sits in your refrigerator for a day, the garlic flavor will be stronger.

On the other side of this equation can be chips, sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, celery, assorted raw vegetables, whatever you fancy.


Vinegar


Sulfites are naturally occurring in grapes, which means they are naturally occurring in wine. Therefore they're in wine vinegars.

I like to use rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Minimalist


What minimalist means in the context of these recipes:

Minimal - prep time, ingredients, and clean up

For example with the dark chocolate brownies:

The prep time is about 30 minutes.

Clean up is faster because of re-using equipment. The pot becomes the final mixing bowl. The 1 cup measure is used for all of the liquid ingredients. The 1/2 cup measure is for the dry ones. The parchment paper keeps the cookie sheets from getting dirty - though I still wash them afterwards, it's not a huge chore.

Instead of using baking chocolate and adding a sweetener, this uses pre-sweetened chocolate chips.


Minimalist Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dark Chocolate Brownies


Equipment needed:
Stove, Oven, 2 Cookie Sheets, 1 Medium or Large Sauce Pot, Parchment Paper, 1 Large Stirring Spoon, 1 cup and 1/2 cup Measuring Cups, Knife or Pizza Cutter (optional)

Turn oven on to 350 degrees to pre-heat.

On the stove, on low heat, in the sauce pot:
2 cups unsweetened vegan milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 package vegan, gluten-free dark chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the stovetop.

Add to the sauce pot:
2 cups gluten-free flour
1 cup raw, shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Stir until well mixed.

Cut a piece of parchment paper about the size of the cookie sheet. Empty the sauce pot contents onto the middle of the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Spread to about 1/4 to 1/2" thickness. Score lines about the size you want your brownies to be (optional).

Baking times vary depending on flour, milk, and if you’re using a convection oven, but here are the basics.
Check the brownies after the first 30 minutes and then every 5-15 minutes depending on how close to done they are. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven. Place the other cookie sheet on top and flip them together so the brownies are now upside down on the second cookie sheet. Remove the first cookie sheet and the parchment paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Vegan Milk


If the packaged vegan milks don’t work for you:

Soak nuts or seeds overnight (a couple of hours at least). What flavor you desire and what you need to avoid will play a role in your choice of nuts or seeds.

Some seeds have strong flavors, like sunflower seeds. If you wish to tone that down, blend an equal part of sunflower seeds (raw, shelled, unsalted) with something like pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted).

Cashews and almonds will be on the sweeter side while something like walnuts will have a more earthy flavor. Filberts (hazelnuts) tend towards the bitter end of the flavor spectrum.

Blend 1 cup of water with 1 cup of your chosen seeds or nuts. Add a couple of pitted dates for sweetener and then strain it (nut milk bag or cheesecloth). Be prepared for your fingers to get cold and numb.

There are no preservatives in this so it won't last long - maybe a few days.

For some of these recipes, straining is not necessary as the seeds/nuts will just be part of the flour used.

I generally use unsweetened milks in these recipes as the sugars in other ingredients are enough for me. Sweetened milk is fine to use as well.

Gluten-Free Flour


I love to use almond meal, but this could easily be a nut-free flour like quinoa, brown rice or soy or a combination of any of these.

I don’t recommend the gluten-free flour mixes if you need to avoid sulfites.

You could also make your own coarse ground flour using seeds - I recommend grinding such wet things as seeds with some gluten-free rolled oats so that it sticks less.

Baking times and textures may vary with the flours used. Coarse ground is good enough for brownies and the like - adding whole seeds to them adds a nice texture.