Saturday, January 30, 2016

Butternut Squash Curry

Simple, fast, and delicious! Adapted from this recipe from the BBC.

1 T olive oil
1 red onion, chopped, or 1 small yellow onion
10- to 16-oz bag frozen chopped butternut squash
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/4 c vegetable stock
4 lg tomatoes, chopped, or one 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can chickpeas
handful of chopped cilantro

Cook the squash according to package directions. (Or, if you're using fresh squash, sauté it in the oil 2-3 minutes until lightly browned before adding onion.)  Sauté onion in oil until soft. Add curry powder and cook one more minute. Then add stock. (If using fresh squash, simmer 15 - 20 minutes until soft.) Add tomatoes and chickpeas, and simmer 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve over rice.

Squash Blossoms, Georgia O'Keefe, 1925

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Simple Hoppin' John with Greens

I'm a bit late posting this traditional New Year's Day dish, but it's a delicious meal anytime, especially in the middle of winter.

1 lb dried black-eyed peas
2 yellow onions, chopped
1/4 c oil
1 chipotle + a little adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo), or 1 t chili powder
3 bay leaves
1 vegetarian bouillon cube (optional)
2 10-oz bags frozen spinach or other greens
4 t red wine vinegar
2 t agave syrup
salt & pepper

Cover the dry beans with three inches of water, bring to a boil, boil for one minute, then let sit for one hour. (Or soak beans overnight.) Empty into a colander. Wipe out the pot, add oil and sautee onions until soft. Add chipotle or chili powder, and bay leaves, and cook one more minute. Add beans, cover with an inch of water, add bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until beans are tender. (How long this takes will depend on the age of your beans.) Add spinach, cook for 5 more minutes. (If using other greens, may have to cook a little longer until they're tender). Add red wine vinegar, agave, salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice.

A Factory Building near an Icy River in Winter, Frits Thaulow, 1892

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nut-Free Dishes

New! A list of nut-free dishes can be found here.

Most of them are ALSO gluten-free and soy-free.

Initially, I didn't even collect these on purpose. They're just things I normally cook for dinner, that happen to be free of those components.

I think it's important to have access to lists like this, because the idea of being vegan and also leaving out some other category of food can be so daunting. It seems like there can't possibly be anything to eat. But that's so far from true! You could cook the recipes just from this list in rotation for a year and not get bored. They're all made from ingredients from your regular grocery store, and there's (almost) nothing complicated or expensive on the list. Happy cooking!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Soft White Bread, Vegan

I finally found out why powdered milk is in so many bread recipes: it softens the crust. Are there other, vegan ways to do that? Yes. The simplest magic ingredient is potatoes. There are lots of ways to add them, from using leftover mashed to adding a small potato you've cooked for the purpose along with its water. Google it and you'll find lots of ideas. I had a bag of Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch in the fridge, so I replaced the powdered milk with that, and it worked wonderfully. Here's my recipe:

Soft White Bread

1 c + 1 T water, room temp
1 t salt
3 T margarine or oil
1 - 2 T agave syrup or white sugar
3 c flour (all-purpose, bread flour, white whole wheat, or whole wheat if you want brown bread)
1/4 c potato starch
2 t bread yeast

Mix all ingredients together with a spoon. When it becomes too thick to mix, start kneading it with your hands. Smoosh it, fold it in half, rotate it a quarter turn, moosh and fold again. Do this until the dough feels "smooth and elastic," as they always say, and it's not sticky. If you're finding it hard to fold and smoosh, add a T or two more water, and knead that in very well until it's incorporated.

Mold into a ball, put in a big bowl (I usually use the same huge, heavy bowl in which I mixed and kneaded it) and put a clean dishtowel over the top to protect it from dust and bugs. Set it in a warm place, ideally about 80 degrees. You can turn on the oven to warm it, then turn it off. (But make sure it's not too hot! Comfortable for you is comfortable for the yeast. If you couldn't sit in there, the yeast can't either.) Or you can turn on the oven and set the bowl on top of the stove where it feels cozy. Best of all, if you have a woodstove or fireplace, you can set the dough near it.

Leave it to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until it's "doubled in volume" as they always say; or until, when you press your thumb lightly into it, the dough doesn't spring back. I usually use the latter method, as it's easier to judge.

Punch it down, and roughly shape it into a loaf. Grease a loaf pan. If you don't have one, you can shape the dough into a ball or loaf and put it on or in anything else—a cast-iron skillet, a cookie sheet. The shape will be a little irregular, but it will still be good.

Set the dough to rise for another 30 minutes. While it's rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (So the dough can't rise in the oven this time, obviously.) Bake for about half an hour, until top is lightly browned and sounds hollow when you tap on it. Cool it on wire rack for about ten minutes before turning it out of the pan so it will come out more easily. Let cool completely before slicing if you can—but I never can! It's just a bit more crumbly if you slice it when it's hot.

Pyotr Konchalovsky, Breads and the Tray, 1912