Tag Archives: walnuts

Holiday Gifts Galore

Hey folks.  I been busy.  Busy making these lovely little jars of happy.  And baking.  Right now my house smells like a gigantic carrot bundt cake.  I wish my house WAS a gigantic carrot bundt cake.  Breakfast in bed?  No.  Breakfast IS bed.  Perfect.

So I think this is a really great Christmas/Hanukkah/YaKnow/TheOneWithThePole gift!  Go out and get yourself some mason jars and fill them up with dry goods for your favorite cookie recipe.  Include the recipe with the gift so your gift receivers know what the heck to do with the stuff.  Put some pretty do-dads all over the jar.  SMILE!  Give it to someone!  This is so much fun!  We all really like each other!  Look at all that smiling!

Now ain’t that just a thing of beauty?

Happy Holidays!!!

Lemme See Yr Muffin Top

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Oh you didn’t want me to put on my really tight pants?  Because I can do that too … oh.  Ok.

I made these Blueberry Oat Muffins last week for breakfast and LOST IT because they’re the best I’ve ever had.  I really wanted some muffin tops, which is a feat rarely achieved in vegan baking … why I do not know.  It seems like the baking powder and baking soda should aid in the leavening, but vegan muffins are (usually) reluctant to rise.  The magic secret (omg) is to overfill the cups.  Did I just blow your mind?  Whoa.

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Check out the Recipe:

(Makes 12 normal sized muffins and 8 jumbo muffins with tops)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup AP Flour
  • 1/2 C Oats
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Flax Eggs (2 T ground Flax seed + 6 T water)
  • 1 Cup Soy Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

Directions

  • Preheat your oven for 400 degrees and grease your muffin tin with vegetable oil or vegan margarine.
  • In a small bowl, create your flax eggs by whisking together the ground flax seed and water.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, including your flax eggs.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and top with the blueberries and walnuts.  Stir only until everything is just incorporated – be sure not to over-mix!
  • Scoop your batter evenly into the muffin tins, filling them all the way to the top.  Don’t be afraid!  These muffins don’t rise very much!
  • Place the muffin tin on a middle rack in your oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges just start to look caramel brown.
  • Cool on a rack and enjoy!

All this talk of muffin tops and racks, I can only imagine what the search engines turn out this week.

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Next Day Brownies

Ah, the eternal quest for good vegan brownies continues.  JUST KIDDING IT’S OVER THEY’RE RIGHT HERE.

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I can’t understand why I didn’t make these before.  They’re Isa’s recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen, and clearly they are ace.  The perfect balance between fudgy and cakey brownies and a deep chocolate flavor make these epic.  The best part about them is that they get better the longer you let them sit!  Thus, I dub them “Next Day Brownies.”

(recipe courtesy of Isa)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 12 oz extra firm silken tofu (the vacuum packed kind, like Mori-Nu)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocloate chips (I use Ghiradelli)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Droste)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder

Directions

  • In a blender puree the tofu, flour and water until smooth. Pour it into a sauce pan, and wisk constantly over low heat until it thickens (it should not boil, if it starts to turn the heat down). This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips, salt, vanilla and sugar. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • When mixture is cool enough mix in the oil. (It can take about 20-30 minutes to cool, give it a stir once in awhileand stick it in the fridge to make it cool faster).
  • Sift the 1 1/2 cups of flour, the cocoa and the baking powder together. Fold in the tofu mixture until well combined and smooth.
  • Spread evenly in a greased baking pan for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.


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I had a party and people kind of picked at them as they cooled, but it was the breakfast brownie the next morning that made my eyes roll back in my head.  What’s the deal!?  Something about sitting in the fridge overnight allowed the chocolate chips I added to the batter to harden and the flavors to mingle together in bliss.   I added 1/4 C chocolate chips and 1/4 C walnuts to the recipe for my own preference.  I’m now imagining all the add-ins that could make these even more incredible!   These brownies are bomb.  That’s all I can say.

Daring Bakers February: For The Love of Chocolate

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With much thanks to February’s hosts – Wendy of wmpesblog and Dharm of DadBaker – I give you my take on a Flourless Chocolate Cake and vanilla ice cream. The original recipes posted in the DB forum were chock full o’ heavy creams and eggs so I decided to check out what the other alternative (we’re just like the Gin Blossoms) bakers were doing. Shelleyfish brought forth a recipe for a raw chocolate cake and I had to bite. I’m of the brownies-for-breakfast foodie school, so I like to try to work healthy foods into my diet in sneaky ways. I’m like Jessica Seinfeld minus the children. The only one I’m duping is me.

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Recipe (from Jennifer Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, unsoaked
dash salt
10 pitted medjool dates, unsoaked
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Place walnuts & salt in food processor fitted with S blade and process until finely ground.
  • Add the dates, cocoa powder, and optional vanilla and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
  • Add the water and process briefly.
  • Transfer to a serving plate and form into a 5-inch round cake. Chill for 2 hours.
  • Decorate the cake and plate with fresh raspberries before serving if desired.
  • Covered with plastic wrap this will keep for three days in the fridge, or two weeks in freezer. Bring to room temp. before serving.

To accompany my raw chocolate friend, I called up his pal Raw “Vanilla” Sorbet.

Recipe

Ingredients

5 bananas – peeled, sliced, and frozen

1/3 C coconut cream (refrigerate coconut milk and scrape off the solids)

1/3 C coconut milk (the remaining liquids in the can)

4 T agave nectar

1 t vanilla

Directions

  • Place all your ingredients in a blender (preferably Vita-Mix because it owns) and blend until creamy.
  • Freeze again to let it set up, or just scoop it out with a spoon because you won’t be able to resist.

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My sorbet looks a bit mushy because I was trying to rush to get this post up today and trying to take my photos before the natural light went away! So there was no time to freeze it before taking the picture. Boo. It tasted wonderful though! Neither the banana flavor or the coconut was too strong – it didn’t taste anything like a pina colada so I was happy. I pressed my cake into cookie cutter molds in honor of Valentine’s Days past. The cake itself is delicious – you only need a couple bites because it is so dense and rich. The thing I love the most about raw desserts is the fact that you’re really just eating fruit and nuts. So you can indulge without the sugar rush and feel like you’re building muscles so you can be big and strong. Ya know.

So Christmas Happened

I was around for it.

So were these guys:

Gingerbread Fellas

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They weren’t too happy about their fate but that’s what you get for being delicious.

This stuff was around too:

Orange Cranberry Nut Bread

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I felt very Martha using the bakery mini-loaf sleeves and name tags.  When I set about to making these, I realized the only appropriate baking oil I had on hand was coconut oil, so I went for it.  There was definitely a coconutty flavor to the bread, but it worked!  Like a tropical holiday vacation in your mouth!

I’ve been making a lot of soup recently and doing a lot of roasted vegetables with different marinades.  One of these days I’ll catch up on my posts.  Well.  Probably not.

Daring Bakers October Challenge: Pizza

I can’t believe I managed to get this challenge done!  I finished last night – right under the wire!  This month was originally supposed to be hosted by Rosa’s Yummy Yums with Sherry at http://www.whatdidyoueat.typepad.com/ and Glenna at http://www.afridgefulloffood.typepad.com/.  In a sad turn of events, Sherry suffered a heart attack and passed away.  This month’s post is in honor of her.

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Or

2.  FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter.  Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

Or

8.  FOR GF:  On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator.  Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Or

10.  FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Or

11.  FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Or

12.  FOR GF:  Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

Or

13.  FOR GF:  Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

My Adjustments

I am trying to stay away from wheat right now, but I really wanted to make this recipe!  Rather than make a GF pizza, I decided to try the spelt flour I already had on hand.  The results were great!  The crust is crunch on the edges and held up very well in the middle.  My tosses were sad little hops and flops and the first crust I ended up just spreading out with my fingers.  The second crust, however, was successful!!  I felt a mild sense of pride and accomplishment!  On my first pizza, I made a walnut-pesto and topped that with sun-dried tomatoes (which burned, oops) and soy feta.  I think I can live without the feta next time, but it sure looked neat.  On my second pizza, I went for a classic and made a tomato sauce and topped it with For Your Heart mozarella and soy pepperoni.  I just had some for breakfast.  Don’t tell anyone.

Summer Summer Summertime

“Yeah I got on sneaks but I need a new pair
Cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there
The temperatures about 88
Hop in the water plug just for old times sake
Break to ya crib change your clothes once more
Cause youre invited to a barbeque thats starting at 4”

Our barbeque started at 2, but who’s to argue with the Fresh Prince?  We headed to the Hollywood Farmer’s market early Sunday morning to get the supplies necessary to create this dish:

Haricots Verts with Figs and Walnuts

This is a really simple recipe that is inspired by a dish that the boy and I shared at a Silverlake restaurant.  All you do is blanche about a pound of green beans, quarter 10 or so figs, throw in two handfuls of walnuts, and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt to taste.  It’s such a light, refreshing salad but the figs and walnuts make it feel, as one diner put it, “decadent.”    Oooooh.

The other dish I contributed to the barbecue was a menacing counter balance to the healthy glow we all felt after the salad.  Introducing:

Emma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies

courtesy of the lovely and talented Kittee!

These cookies are out of control.  They were so amazing – I couldn’t stop scooping out the batter and eating it before I could even get them in the oven.  The recipe still yeilded 4 dozen cookies, plus 2 gigantor cookies I have saved in the fridge for my parents when they come into town this weekend.  The texture is perfect – chewy and a little crispy on the edges.  None of that fluff or cakiness I find so abundantly present in a lot of cookie recipes.  At one point during the barbecue, there was a chorus of toddlers chanting “COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE.”  It was a beautiful sight.  Oh, and that four dozen? GONE.  I took home an empty tupperware container at the end of the day.

Nothing like playing with a four year old in a pool for a few hours to work up an appetite.  The lovely Princess Addie, seen here about to chomp down on my foot, is the product of another blogger, Amy Lou and papa Finn.  They were visiting from out of town, and we had an excellent time playing and splashing and Abba-ing.  On one last note, this is why the summer is so great: