Monday, December 26, 2011

spiced ginger loaf.

it isn't officially the holiday season until there's gingerbread and a spiked warm beverage. while i'm really in no position to tell you how to make the latter (there's a reason - well, a lot of reasons - this blog isn't called alcohol on sundays. i guess that's one thing we can all be thankful for this year), it's my pleasure to offer you one truly formidable gingerbread recipe.the recipe originally comes from the blog, roost, which is the sort of site you should browse through when you've lost faith in the world. it's exquisitely written and photographed, and the recipes are nothing less than inspiring. 
this is one of the blog's simpler recipes, but a personal favorite: easy, healthy, and addicting. sadly, it's not vegan due to the eggs. still, if you can bear to include them, do! what they lack in ... veganness ... they well make up for in texture and flavor. however, if you want the loaf to last more than a day without getting gobbled up, subbing them out might not be the worst strategy. otherwise, make sure you get a big helping the first time around, because the chances of leftovers are pretty slim.
spiced ginger poppy seed loaf
humbly adapted from roost

2 cups almond flour
½ cup all purpose gluten-free baking flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger
3 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

preheat oven to 350F.

mix dry ingredients in a bowl. mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. toss dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until combined. pour into a greased loaf pan.

bake for 45 minutes to an hour. if the top starts to get too brown, lay a sheet of foil on top to prevent burning. i did this for the last 10 minutes. remove from oven and insert a toothpick in the center. if it comes out dry, the loaf is done! let cool for about a half hour before serving with tea, mulled wine, or your holiday drink of choice.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"adult" fig newtons.

from preparation to post, this healthy cookie series has been highly educational so far. i've grown as a gluten-free and vegan baker and spent way too many hours perusing cookie recipes online. through numerous baking adventures - and misadventures - i've kept my classmates well fed and created a name for myself as "that vegan girl". i've learned that just because a cookie isn't what i (or ina garten) would call a success, people will still eat it, enjoy it, and then lie to you about how wonderful of a baker you are. the best part? knowing it's a lie doesn't detract one bit from how good it feels.we're nearing the end of the series, and i have two amazing recipes left to share. the first are these vegan fig bars. in an attempt to curb my natural tendency to only bake things with chocolate in them, i decided to revamp a treat from my childhood lunchbox: the fig newton. whereas the packaged über-sugary fig newtons aren't particularly appetizing, these bars are dynamite. the smell of freshly stewed figs with agave is heavenly, and the dough is the perfect amount of chewy with a crunch from the chia seeds. what more, you'll have leftover figs to use in other assorted treats.... (stayed tuned!).
"adult” fig newtons
adapted from post punk kitchen

for the fig filling:
16 oz. dried black mission figs, stems removed and chopped into small bits
1 cup water
¼ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

for the dough:
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup almond milk
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
turbinado sugar, for topping

start by making the filling. in a small saucepan, throw in the chopped figs, water, agave, and citrus. bring to a boil over medium heat, and reduce to a simmer. stirring every minute of so, cook for a good 10 minutes, until figs begin to soften. let them continue to cook, but mash them with a fork or masher (?!) to create a chunky paste. the water will evaporate in the process – if it gets too dry, add in more water, a tablespoon at a time. remove from heat and set aside. you can leave your figs chunky, or if you want a smoother puree, throw it in the food processor (i prefer chunky!).

line an 8 x 8 square baking tin with aluminum foil so that the foil hangs over the sides of the pan. spray the foil with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.

now, it’s time for the dough. in a large mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, almond milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. whisk for a good 2 minutes to make sure it’s combined. in a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. add dry to wet mixes, a bit at a time, stirring constantly. stir to form a soft dough. using your hands, form the dough into a ball and then divide into two equal parts. shape each section of the dough into a small square about an inch thick.

take the first two square and place it between two large sheets of wax paper. using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a larger square (or square-like shape) about the size of the 8 x 8 pan. if it is slightly larger, that’s ok too.

when you have your square shape, peel off the top layer of wax paper. flip the dough directly onto the pan. push it into pan. this will help to peel off the top wax paper layer, which you should do… now! when the dough is firmly in place, spread the fig filling all over.* don’t forget the corners!

using the same method as with the bottom crust, prepare the top crust. flip the crust on top of the fig mixture, press down firmly so it sticks, and peal the wax paper away.

bake for around 20 minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden and puffed. remove from oven and let cool. when cool, grab the edges of the tin foil and remove the cookie block from the pan, placing it on a cutting board. cut into bars of any size. enjoy, and then store in a sealed container.

*note: i used about ¾ of it the fig mixture here and reserved the rest for another recipe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

roasted butternut squash and quinoa.

this past thanksgiving, to complement the turkey and chicken liver stuffing already on my family's menu, i researched and plotted new ways to infiltrate the rest of their plates with whole grains and vegetables. and their desert bowl with a vegan, gluten free dessert. 

don't i sound like a lot of fun to have around on thanksgiving?!

dessert was this apple and apricot tart. side dishes included a leek, asparagus, and dill sauté, a simple side salad, and my favorite: a massive bowl of roasted butternut squash and rainbow quinoa. by the time i was finished preparing everything, it was dark out and people were hungry. this, as you might imagine, is not a prime time for food photography. i was able to snag a photo of the squash dish in time - the other dishes weren't as fortunate.

lucky for everyone, this one was probably the best of the lot. roast some butternut squash with fresh herbs, garlic, onion, balsamic, and oil. add it to a mound of quinoa and you have something that's almost a stuffing. note: the recipes makes a LOT, which is far from a problem. leftover options include (but are by no means limited to): adding it to salads,  using it in a wrap, or simply eating it straight out of the tupperware container with a spoon (hypothetically, of course).

quinoa and roasted butternut squash

2 cups rainbow quinoa
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into small-ish cubes
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375F.

combine the quinoa, salt, and vegetable stock in a pot over medium heat. bring to a boil, low the heat, and simmer. stir occasionally until the quinoa is tender (approximately 20 minutes). 

while the quinoa is doing its thing, toss the squash, onion, garlic, sage, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic, and some salt in a baking pan. arrange (as much as possible) in a single layer and place in the oven for 20 minutes. toss the mixture every 5 to 8 minutes to get browning on both sides. remove from the oven and let cool.

in a serving bowl, toss the squash mixture with the quinoa. i only used 2/3 of the quinoa for a more squash-centric dish, but feel free to use it all depending on your preferences. add salt and pepper to taste. enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 2, 2011

maple scones for my mom.

thanksgiving break gave way to some exciting developments this year: i got hooked on this addicting blog, made some headway on this side project, and discovered where my love of pastries comes from.
let's talk about the pastry revelation. now, it's not that i ever lost sleep wondering about where my affinity for all things mildly sweet came from. i'm merely surprised i never connected the dots... between my scone-crazy mother and her muffin-crazy daughter (that's me!). 

growing up, i can't remember a time when there weren't scones or muffins in our kitchen. even now, their absence would shock me. my brother recently mentioned that he consistently counts on eating my mom's leftover breakfast scone (which she picks up with her morning coffee run) in the afternoon. that, my friends, is how enduring and reliable her passion for pastries is. 

last week, my mom mentioned that she'd never mastered the art of baking scones from scratch. and i realized i'd never even tried! so that afternoon, we embarked on what became our household's first successful scone baking session.

these scones are definite winners. their texture is perfectly firm and flakey despite the lack of butter, and the smell of maple from the oven is so wonderful it's almost intolerable. almost. vegans can leave omit the egg wash, and if you're out of bread flour, feel free to use only all purpose.

maple syrup scones
adapted from 101 cookbooks

1/4 cup real, good quality maple syrup

6 tablespoons almond milk
1 cup bread flour
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil
(if not vegan, then: 1 egg, lightly beaten)

brown sugar

preheat the oven to 400F degrees, rack in the top 1/3. line one baking sheet with parchment paper.

whisk together the maple syrup and milk in a small cup, and set aside. combine the flour, quinoa/oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. add the oil and stir until mostly combined. now add the maple syrup milk. mix until the dough just comes together - don't over mix.

throw onto  a floured surface and kneed a couple of times to bring the dough together. now arrange the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle or oval. slice the dough into nine equal-sized squares (or some triangles, if you wish!). arrange the scones on the prepared baking sheet - 1/4-inch distance between each of them. for those non-vegans among us, brush each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle with the large-grain sugar. bake for 17 to 22 minutes, or until golden along the bottom and tops. enjoy with a hot cup of chai.