Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Cast Iron Skillet This is week nine of the weekly Recipe Roundup, where I post the online recipes I've used over the past week.

  • Pickled Watermelon Radish - I picked some watermelon radishes up at the last farmers' market we'll be having in Boston until late May (sad), and decided to try them pickled. By about three days later Jeff was already wolfing them down so I'd say this recipe was a success. By the way, four smallish radishes made a quart of pickles so I doubled the recipe. That didn't leave enough liquid to cover the radishes so I just filled it to the top with water after adding all of the other ingredients.

  • Cranberry Fudge Pie - I veganized this by using the cream from one can of coconut milk instead of cow cream. This was such a huge hit at Thanksgiving and I was almost worried that all of my non-vegan relatives would gobble it up before I got a slice. Although I wound up putting most of the cranberry sauce on top I would definitely tone it back (maybe more than the 1.5 cups it calls for though) as the bitterness from the cranberries tends to dominate over the sweetness from the fudge.

  • Tofu Turkey - Jeff and I made the tofu turkey recipe on this page. We did it last year as well and I'd say it makes an excellent recipe for Thanksgiving!

Check out previous Recipe Roundups: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Cheezeburger Pizza

Long-time supporters of the now-closed TJ Scallywaggle's, Alyssa and I had sampled all of their pizza offerings. The cool thing about TJ's was that they weren't afraid to push the envelope on pizza or politics, no matter how outlandish. Some recipes were great (chicken w/ funny mustard!), and some were flops (nacho??). Since they closed every so often I'll have a craving for our Favorite TJ's Pizza of All Time: Cheezeburger.

Vegan Cheeseburger Pizza

Cheezeburger pizza sounds like a horrible idea. I thought it was at first, but having tried my first slice, I couldn't get enough. The pizza tastes exactly like a cheeseburger, and you don't need to slaughter a cow to have the experience!

Here's our take on a TJ's classic:

Cheezeburger Pizza
Yield: 2-4 Servings
1 Pizza Dough
1/4 C Pizza Sauce
50:50 Vegan Cheddar:Mozzarella Cheeze Blend (or any vegan cheeze)
1/4 Medium White Onion
Gimmie Lean "Beef" OR Okara Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (if using a baking stone, ensure stone is in the oven).
  2. Roll or toss the pizza dough onto a pre-cornmealed baking sheet.
  3. Spoon pizza sauce evenly on top of the dough. Leave 1 cm or so around the edge for crust.
  4. Grate cheeze on the pizza, leaving 1 cm around the edge.
  5. Slice onion into rings and add to pizza with pickles.
  6. Crumble the "beef" onto the pizza.
  7. Drizzle on the Ketchup and Mustard.
  8. Place pizza in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  9. Remove pizza from oven and slide onto a wire rack.
  10. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting on a solid surface.
  11. Enjoy!
The Finer Points:
I usually make a dough from scratch when I get home from work. By the time I've relaxed a bit, I head back into the kitchen and the dough is risen and ready to work with. The recipe I use is straight out of the Joy of Cooking. A simple dough recipe from a quick google search will do fine. Alternatively, if you don't want to make a dough yourself, most supermarkets (Shaw's and Whole Foods around here) have pizza dough available. I have tried this also and this can save you some time.

For the sauce, I usually use whatever is sitting in the fridge, provided that it's still good (no mold, tastes okay, etc.) For pizza, there is a rule that "less is more" so I tend to go with a red sauce on the plain side. I find that a sauce that is too complex can conflict and overpower the toppings. You want these flavors to be complimentary, so go easy on the garlic and basil. In a pinch I've used canned tomato sauce which can be a bit bland. I doctor this up slightly with a little garlic and dried herbs to taste.

For the cheese, there are a few options. The actual TJ's cheezeburger used a 50:50 blend of Cheddar:Mozzarella Teese, so I felt I needed to keep true with the written recipe. We ended up using Cheddar Daiya alone for the one in the photo, which worked fine. Use any vegan cheeze you'd like.

Now come the toppings. Remember that with pizza "less is more". You don't really want to over-do it with any one topping, because you'll end up with a mountain of same-tasting food with a big patch of undercooked dough underneath. Place down the pickles, sliced onion, and "beef" crumbles evenly and sparingly. This holds true for the ketchup and mustard, too. Remember that you plan to eat what you're playing with here.

When you're satisfied that you've created a masterpiece, you may run into some difficulty popping the sucker into the preheated oven. I recommend using a baking stone (heated with the oven), as it distributes the heat evenly and gives you a nice crispy crust from the soft dough's contact with a hot surface. This is why I recommended building the pizza on a flat cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. In theory you should be able to slide the pizza off the cookie sheet and onto the hot stone. Sometimes I find that with all these toppings, and the size of my oven that I can't slide the pizza off. If you can't, don't worry, just place the whole cookie sheet on the stone. It will all work out fine.

Additionally, I check the pizza after 10 minutes to turn it around because my oven is hotter in the back than in the front. Your crust should be solid yet soft at this point, so rotating is easy. In 10 minutes the pizza will be done and ready to eat.
So Good
Congratulations! You're now enjoying delicious cheezeburger pizza!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Cast Iron Skillet This is week eight of the weekly Recipe Roundup, where I post the online recipes I've used over the past week.

  • Fresh Gnocchi - We didn't have many potatoes, so we put a lot of effort into making an appetizer. This would be a great idea to make in bulk, and then freeze the leftovers.

  • Tofu Pot Pie - I made this with pumpkin instead of sweet potato. I had really built this up in my mind so much, that nothing would have lived up. I liked it much better the next day.

  • Beet-eroni (Faux Pepperoni) - I used big (normal sized?) beets and roasted them over an hour and they never soaked up all the liquid. They were still delicious on pizza. Two beets yielded tons of leftovers so I would recommend only using one beet if you've got something bigger than a golf ball.

Check out previous Recipe Roundups: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven

Monday, November 8, 2010

Successful Experiment with Kombucha

I first had Kombucha in Worcester after picking up a bottle at the ARTichoke Co-op. I remember Jeff telling me how hippie it was, and I didn't need much more convincing than that. The sweet and sour vinegar taste won me over instantly, even with the weird pieces of culture floating around in it (backwash, as Jeff and I lovingly refer to it). I've since looked into making my own, including reading every last inch of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, but became disappointed when I figured I'd have to buy a mother in order to make it happen. Kombucha isn't mainstream enough for mothers to be sold at homebrew stores along with vinegar, and online at Gem Cultures it was going to cost a pretty penny to have one shipped here.

New Batch So imagine my delight when I found these two posts about growing your own kombucha mother, or SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts). I used GTI kombucha to start my SCOBY, because that's what was easily available to me. Make sure whatever you buy is raw and unpasteurized or it won't work!

Jeff and I made that recipe, and had let it sit on our counter for at least a month. Last night I decided that the SCOBY was mature enough to take out of the starter and make into some serious fermented beverage. As you can see in the photo above, the SCOBY is a large whitish disc, which really isn't half as gross looking as I expected. I was initially nervous that it wouldn't be able to exit the container, considering that the mouth is narrower than the jar's diameter, but that was no problem. The SCOBY is pretty flexible.

Kombucha We drank the remainder of the liquid that the SCOBY was grown in, and it tasted delicious. Because it had been sitting for so long, it was quite vinegary, which is how I like my kombucha. If you like it sweet, don't culture the tea for too long. Pictured above is our next batch of kombucha brewing away in a half-gallon mason jar. Maybe we'll eventually move the operation up into a larger container if we get adventurous.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Cast Iron Skillet This is week seven of the weekly Recipe Roundup, where I post the online recipes I've used over the past week.

  • Jeff and I had a Halloween party, and served black bean and corn salsa, blueberry banana bread, brownies, and also foccacia, pizza rolls and hummus (recipes not online).

  • Roasted Corn Soup - Jeff and I cheated and used frozen corn, we also don't have an immersion blender so we just used our food processor. We served this with baked potatoes, and wound up mashing our potatoes into the soup for extra deliciousness.

Check out previous Recipe Roundups: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Make Your Own Pumpkin Pie Soymilk: Vegan MoFo

Here I am three days into Vegan MoFo with no posts to show for myself. I'm neck deep in writing a Very Important Document for a Very Important Deadline for my PhD (not my thesis yet, thankfully), so, needless to say, Jeff and I have been eating a lot of pasta lately. Then on Monday, I got my braces adjusted, so now I've been eating a lot of mushy pasta. And soup. :)

Inspired by this recipe for a pumpkin pie shake, I bring you a recipe for the much simpler pumpkin pie soymilk. I think it's a somewhat less sweet version of the stuff Silk makes, but way more delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Soymilk

Pumpkin Pie Soymilk
Into your blender add:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
Soymilk up to the 2 cup line
2 tbsp maple syrup (more if you have a sweet tooth or are using unsweetened soymilk)
Sprinkle of ground cloves
Sprinkle of ground ginger
Sprinkle of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend until smooth. Feel free to add more of any ingredient after tasting. The best thing about recipes is playing with them until you discover what works best for you!

Until next time... enjoy the Vegan Month of Food!