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Bread is the new black.

So i’ve been on this big bread making kick for most of the summer.  I’ve had a bread machine for years, but it rarely gets used because it’s HEAVY.  I can only get vegan bread at the commissary, and since we only have one car I have to do my errands mostly around Brian’s work schedule.  Well, I don’t want to drive onto the base and fight the crowds every time I want to make a damn sandwich.  So I committed myself to making lots of bread.  I posted a sandwich I made with bread from the breadmaker, but I quickly stopped using it because the loaves were coming out way too big, fluffy, and crumbly.  I wanted something more sliceable, and then I had a ‘duh’ moment and realized that my underused, but very loved stand mixer has a dough hook!  And it’s always on the counter so I don’t even have to drag it out.

If you’re thinking, “Why don’t you just knead it by hand, you lazy bitch?”, I have a bad shoulder and the only time I tried to hand knead bread dough, it caused a problem.  Also, I am a lazy bitch.  Which is why bread making is perfect for me, it’s very low key and although you have to wait awhile for it to rise, it requires very little effort on your part if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you.

Even if you don’t, bread making is a good hobby.  It’s hella cheap, and you get to eat the results.  Any hobby that results in eating is awesome.  Also, most bread is made with such simple ingredients that you can make it on a whim whenever you feel like it.  You can divide up the dough and make a couple of different flavors of mini-loafs.

The recipe i’ve been following is the basic french loaf from La Dolce Vegan, but it’s a pretty standard recipe that is replicated all over the internet.  I wasn’t going to bother trying to find the exact recipe, but every recipe I found on google had scary complicated instructions, and I didn’t want to scare anyone, so here it is:

Easy French Bread

2 1/2 tsp or one packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2-4 cups flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast with 1/4 cup of the warm water and sugar.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Stir iin the 1 1/4 cup of water, salt, and 1 cup of flour.  Slowly stir in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time.  One a lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic; add a little extra flour if it’s too sticky.  Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning dough until covered in oil.  Cover with cloth and set aside in a warm non-drafty spot and let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Preheat oven to 400′F.  Punch down dough and knead out air bubbles.  On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into large loaf or two small baguettes and place on a baking sheet.  Make 4-5 slashes diagonally across the top.  Sprinkle top evenly with seeds and let rise 15 minutes.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

If you want to get more into the process, I found this list of tips for improving your bread.

A lot of people say you shouldn’t cut the bread when it’s warm, and I want to know where these people get their steel willpower from, because I can’t wait more than a minute before I have to eat the end.  Other than that, i’ve mostly been making tiny sandwiches.

And then I hatched a plot to make cinnamon swirl bread for the sole purpose of making the fronch toast from Vegan With A Vengeance.  I used the same recipe, but after the first rise I rolled the dough out, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, rolled it up, pinched the ends together, and put it in a bread pan to rise.  The results were beautiful and delicious.

I was going to make more bread today and was planning on getting creative with some herbs, but I was out of yeast.  It was a sad moment.  So sad that i’m going to end this post with a frowny face.

:(

posted: September 18, 2009
under: food, pictures, recipes

For the love of the burrito game.

When I got my last CSA box and I saw that I had corn, cilantro, peppers, and tomatoes, I knew what had to happen.  Burritos.  I had an avocado and a lime waiting for me at home and everything.  So this past Sunday, Brian and I spent a casual evening making a burrito buffet ala Chipotle/Qdoba.  Because we live in a shitty town that doesn’t have one.  It took awhile but it was all worth it.

Obviously there are a lot of elements going on here, but they’re all pretty simple, so i’ll break it down from the bottom up:

Lime cilantro rice:  Make rice, squeeze half a lime in and add chopped cilantro.

Black beans (which are hiding):  Drain a can of beans, warm in a saucepan, add a little cumin.

Soy curls:  Prepare as you normally would, add some spices if you want, we didn’t bother since we had so much else going on.

Tomatoes:  You can gut a tomato, right?

Grilled peppers and onions:  If you have a grill pan use that, if not sauteed will be fine.  Sprinkle with some liquid smoke.

Raw corn salsa:  Cut the corn off of the cob, dice some jalapeno slices, chop some cilantro, mix.  You can also add onion if you’re not married to a dirty onion hater.

Guacamole:  Mash an avocado, add chopped cilantro, salt, and lime juice to keep it from turning brown.  I usually put in tomatoes and some green onion, but I wanted Brian to eat it and he hates everything good in this world.

Tortilla chips:  Cut up a tortilla, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle on some salt, and put under the broiler, on low or on a low rack so they don’t burn before they have a chance to get crunchy.  Very different than the fried, bagged version and obviously better for you!

It sounds like a lot of work, but you can make most of this stuff ahead of time. I would probably make the rice and grilled vegetables right before, and the beans since you’re doing so little.  But the soy curls can easily be reheated if you’re using them, and everything else isn’t supposed to be hot anyway.  Plus, you will have leftovers for days if you make enough!

posted: September 17, 2009
under: food, pictures, recipes

VeganMoFo: Iron Chef Stuffed.

I was hoping that more entries would trickle in, but either everyone hated my idea or was busy or something.  I think stuffing stuff into other stuff is pretty fun though, so thpppt.

Jenn stuffed a ton of stuff into potatoes.

Megan and I are on the same wavelength apparently, she also did a stuffed seitan with gravy.

International Iron Chef!  Pamela brings us stuffed freeze-dried tofu, something I didn’t even know existed.

Dynah did double duty with manicotti and stuffed chocolate covered bananas.

Bex kept it real and made a ‘what i’ve got’ almond apple bread stuffing.

My favorite Megan made her favorite Andria’s favorite stuffing.

I actually forgot about doing the challenge until the middle of Sunday.  And I didn’t want to go to the store.  So I also decided to use what I had.  In two hours I made the seitan, stuffing, and gravy.  Very rarely do I say i’m proud of something I just made up, but I am really down with this meal.  I kind of made it up as I went along but here is what I did from memory:

Seitan with Apple Onion Cranberry Stuffing and Maple Gravy

Make your favorite seitan recipe, you can follow Joanna’s instructions for making cutlets, but a little thicker so you can slice them without worry of putting a hole in one side.

Stuffing:

2 T vegetable oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1 red apple, peeled and diced

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 c dried bread crumbs (mine were seasoned so I didn’t add any extra)

salt and pepper to taste

a pinch of cinammon

~1/3 cup of the gravy

Heat the oil over medium low, add the onions and let them get mostly soft.  Add the apple and continue to cook for about ten minutes, stirring every now and then.  Add the cranberries, salt and pepper, and cinnamon and let it cook for about two more minutes.  Mix in the bread crumbs and remove from the heat.

Preheat your oven to 350 at this point.

Maple Gravy:

A couple of tablespoons of margarine

Flour

almond milk

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup maple syrup

I didn’t even close to measure this, but gravy is pretty easy.  Melt the margarine in a sauce pan, and add enough flour to make a roux.  I’m too impatient to wait for it to get dark, so just whisk it around for a minute, then start adding almond milk a little bit at a time, fully whisking the liquid into the roux before adding more.  The whole point of this is to avoid getting lumps.  After you get it to a gravy-like consistency, add the salt, pepper, and maple syrup.

Add enough gravy to the stuffing to act like a glue, you shouldn’t really be able to see it in there.

To assemble, slice the seitan almost all the way in half, like it’s a hot dog bun.  I put about 1/4 cup in four cutlets and ended up with leftover stuffing, so i’d say this serves six.  Or you could just eat the extra like I did.

Now, I pour the gravy on top before baking but it didn’t look very nice and didn’t seem to do anything for it so at this point i’d say spray a little cooking spray or rob a little oil on the tops of the seitan to keep it from getting dry and gross.

Bake for about 15 minutes, really we’re just warming stuff up.

Cover with gravy and eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

Here’s an okay shot before going into the oven.

And here is a really icky looking shot before going into my mouth.  I miss summer sunlight.

I know that MoFo is officially over on Friday, but check back for a very special Iron Chef challenge for next weekend!  We might keep this up on a monthly basis because people seem to enjoy the general idea.

posted: October 29, 2008
under: pictures, recipes, veganmofo

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