Friday, September 23, 2016

Homemade mini-baguettes

Yesterday, using ChowTown's recipe for Vietnamese-style baguettes as a jumping-off point, I made my very first ever batch of (mini-)baguettes! My recipe follows:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. Fleischmann's Traditional Yeast
  • approx. 390g white bread flour (I needed a little less than ¼ cup more)
  • 1 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 ½ t. salt

Dissolve the sugar into the warm water, then add the yeast. Allow to foam. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix the bread flour, vital wheat gluten and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead — adding flour as needed to reduce stickiness — until you have a smooth, moist (not wet, sticky or shaggy) dough ball. Leave to rise in an ungreased bowl in a warm, draft-free place for ~40 minutes.

"Punch down" the dough and turn out onto a lightly-floured countertop/work surface. Cut the dough into four, approximately equal-sized, parts. Pull each dough ball into a rough rectangle, then roll tightly into log shapes. Leave to rise, well-floured, for ~20 minutes under loosely-laid plastic wrap.

Preheat oven (preferably convection) with pizza stone to 400°C. When oven has come to temperature, gently lift each loaf and place on pizza stone. Slash vents in tops of loaves, then mist liberally with water before closing oven door. Bake until your house smells like fresh-baked bread, or when loaves are a mouth-watering golden brown.

If you've got the willpower for it, allow to cool, raised on a cooling rack.

I used mine to assemble pseudo Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, made with leftover French-style braised beef, chopped red bell pepper, chopped shallots, Daiya provolone slices and Follow Your Heart Chipotle Vegenaise (which is not only soy-free, but much akin to crack cocaine, I imagine).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Matt isn't shy with his opinions about pie. I admit that I made a very authentic (and painstaking and time-consuming) coconut cream pie early in our relationship, only to discover that authentic wasn't what he had in mind. And yeah, he makes no secret of the fact that cherry pie is his absolute favourite, but that he's had enough failed attempts at it that he's wary of attempting it anywhere unfamiliar. So, naturally, I thought I'd try my hand at it.

Lo, my cherry pie! Honestly, it's actually my go-to pie crust recipe with canned cherry filling in it (the local grocery store wasn't stocking frozen cherries). And I'll be surprised if it isn't exactly what he's looking for.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Las ketchup.

The wee one has returned to school today (in Grade 1!), so I actually have the opportunity to update my blog!

I've been experimenting with the new waffle iron, including an attempt at using my go-to vegan doughnut recipe as the "batter". I must admit that I vastly prefer the results from using the Bunner's-based batter, but this was good. Shown topping this batch of waffles is KFC-like boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for which I used hemp milk for the wash) and a sugar-free lucuma powder "butter" I've been making, based on my go-to white chocolate recipe. Really, none of those ingredients work ideally together, but they were still hungrily and gratefully devoured.

Next up was the batch of vegan doughnuts I made using the remainder of the dough from my waffle experiment. They all got dusted with powdered sugar. Useful technique picked up during this attempt: for circular doughnuts, keep the dough chilled while cutting.

Finally, Kara and I took another run at they No-Whey assortment, this time finding that the Choco NoNo's were vastly superior to anything else we've tried in the product range. We genuinely look forward to eating these again.

It's been a prolific Summer Break!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Homemade vegan waffles

Well, I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed on-hand to make up a batch of vegan waffles from the Bunner's cookbook, so I improvised. The result was bloody fantastic, 'though!

Update: now with picture!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Happy Birthday to me!

Today's treat to myself was the same vegan strawberry cake recipe I blogged about previously.

Such yum!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Product review: No Whey assortment

I wanted to love these. When you've got a company whose business model involves veganizing and reducing common allergens in familiar (and beloved!) candy bar recipes, and you've got a ton of food allergies including dairy, you can't help but want those recipes to be a resounding success.

Sadly, that wasn't the case for any of the four offerings from (the delightfully cheekily-named) No Whey Chocolate that I purchased today at the local Sobeys. I tried the — again, ridiculously cleverly-monikered — Pea Not Cups first. While these aren't bad as a candy bar, they're also decidedly not like the peanut butter cups everyone is familiar with. The filling doesn't carry much of a roasted flavour at all and someone's seriously under-salting it, too. If these were marketed less like those guys' candy bars and more like its own thing, I think they'd do fine, but they're simply not what they're being sold as.

Next was the No Whey candy bar, which boasts a nougat filling topped with a thin layer of gooey caramel before being enrobed in chocolate. Sounds like another ubiquitous candy bar, right? The problem is that this was almost completely unlike that. It's still tooth-decayingly-sweet, but the chocolatey coating on this bar ends up noticeably waxy. I can only assume that the caramel was good, but its flavour was indistinguishable from the rest of the bar. And the nougat was easily the worst part of the tasting. It was stiff and somewhat tough. This bar was easily my least favourite.

Well, at this point in the tasting, I desperately wanted a win, so I went to the bar that I'd been most taken with when I made the purchase, the Milkless Polar Dream White. It's the most convincing of the lot. It's got a good creamy quality, but, unfortunately, doesn't "read" as being as rich as true white chocolate. For now, I will absolutely stick to making my own.

After this parade of near-complete disappointment, I was hoping for another semi- if not complete-success, so I tried the Milkless (milk chocolate) bar. It was so cloyingly sweet that until my palate cleared, it was vying for top spot in the list of failures. Kara seems to like it in small doses, 'though. Mind you, that means that my six-year-old finds it too sweet to finish.

So, yeah, these bars — across the board — suffer from being much too sweet and the more complex ones are afraid of using salt. Unless the formulations change, I'm unlikely to buy them again, which is a real shame, because I'd love little more than to give money to companies that cater to people with food allergies and sensitivities — especially those of the variety that I suffer from.
A lunch of epic deliciousness

I was brain-storming lunch ideas yesterday when I realized I had ground beef, limes, an avocado, fresh cilantro and vegan cheese all awaiting use in our fridge. Thus, yesterday's lunch was comprised of hand-ground-seasoning taco beef, homemade guacamole, (store bought and yummy) taqueria sauce, homemade vegan cheese and fresh-chopped cilantro.

It was insanely good.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My favourite batch of homemade vegan cheese so far

It may not look like much, but I've got high praise for my latest batch of vegan mozzarella. It's based on Avocados and Ales' Mozzarella Aquafaba Cheese, with me subbing in sunflower seeds in place of the cashews and coconut yogurt (and 14 hours of fermentation) in place of the lactic acid. The result tastes distinctly of fresh mozzarella. The texture is a lot like my earlier experiments with vegan cheese, in that it's very gelatin-y (or agar-y, if one prefers).

I've yet to try melting this, but may just forgo such an attempt to make fried mozzarella sticks, instead.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Vegan Chick-Fil-A on homemade bao

Having never tried authentic Chick-Fil-A and recently experimenting with vegan cooking, my curiosity was piqued when I first encountered The Edgy Veg's Vegan Chick-Fil-A recipe. I used sesame oil in place of tahini in the seitan patties, omitted the liberal amounts of cayenne and chili powder she includes and used Whole New Mom's Egg Replacer recipe for that part of the binder.

I also made up a batch of bao to function as my buns.

My first two versions of this sandwich stayed fairly true to the original intent, sticking to toppings of pickles, homemade vegan cheese, vegan margarine and/or homemade navy bean spread. Yesterday, I decided to top them with just about every vegetable I had in the fridge and vastly preferred that version. I ran out of roasted red peppers on yesterday's venture and forgot to add the pickles, so today's bao were topped with bean spread, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado and vegan Chick-Fil-A.

The breading is nicely seasoned and has a fantastic crunch. Really my only "issue" is that I found my seitan cutlets too thick. Now that I know I dislike having such thick patties, I can readily adjust next time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Yum. Vegan brunch

This deliciousness was today's (late) breakfast. I oven-roasted some Ontario asparagus, paired it with my (work-in-progress) adaptation of vegan Hollandaise sauce (it's almost perfect), some rounds of vegan breakfast sausage I made over the weekend, and a vegan grilled cheese using homemade "mozzarella"

For the breakfast sausage, I omitted the thyme and added fennel seeds. Still, it could use a flavour-boost — I think I'll experiment with making a vegan chorizo.

But, yeah, this was a super-yummy breakfast. Tomorrow's variation will undoubtedly swap out asparagus for roasted sweet potato, as I've used up one and have been meaning to use the other for weeks. Should be stellar!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Refined sugar-free trifle!

We had some berries and coconut yogurt to use up in the fridge yesterday, so I thought I'd try my hand at taking another run at making a date-sweetened cake with the ultimate goal of making trifle.

Here's the recipe for the cake:

  • ⅔ c. coconut milk
  • ½ t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c. packed pitted Medjool dates, soaked and drained
  • ⅓ c. canola oil
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. packed all-purpose flour (I used Robin Hood Nutri Flour Blend - Tastes like White)
  • ¾ t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • ¼ t. salt

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a food processor, pulse to combine all of the wet ingredients. In a separate, large bowl, blend the dry ingredients. Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry and fold to combine well (but do not overmix). Pour the batter into a 9"x9" non-stick baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cake smells done (sorry, that's as scientific as I get with baking these days!). This is another cake which fails the toothpick test — I find that date-sweetened cakes lose a lot of flavour and moisture if you bake them until they pass the toothpick test.

So, both the cake and the trifle were fantastic. I will absolutely make it again.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dairy-free lasagna?!

I daresay I'm getting better at making vegan cheese. Last week's attempt was another kick at the proverbial Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella can. This time, my medium of choice was sunflower seeds and I used the last of that week's batch of homemade coconut yogurt. The method was as per Miyoko Schinner's mozzarella recipe, but my quantities differed as follows:
  • ~4½ c. soaked and drained sunflower seeds
  • ~½ c. coconut yogurt
  • 1 c. canola oil
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • 1 T. genmai miso
  • water omitted due to adding water during blending to result in smoother consistency
  • 2 c.(?!) tapioca flour
  • 1 t. Kappa carageenan
Obviously, quintupling the general quantities resulted in a helluva lot of vegan mozzarella, so I've spent a good portion of the week having grilled "cheese" sandwiches, spreading it on crackers and topping pizzas with it. When we still had some leftover pizza ingredients by the week-end, I decided to use them up in a primavera-esque sauce (to which I also added 1 lb. of ground beef that we had in the freezer), and cooked up about half of our box of whole wheat lasagna noodles to toss everything into the first lasagna I've eaten in probably a decade or longer.

It was really good! The vegan cheese ends up behaving very similarly to ricotta. The first bite definitely carries a moment's hint of sunflower seed's bitterness, but from there, it adds a lovely smooth, creamy texture and flavour to the dish. I finished up the last of it for brunch this morning!

Update: freezing improves the texture of the vegan mozzarella! The lone ball that I froze came out of the freezer on Sunday night and was used yesterday, Monday, June 6th, on a grilled cheese and it was less wet than the balls which had gone directly into the fridge. Good to know!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sunflower seeds are way less expensive than pine nuts

Continuing my foray into making seed cheeses, this batch uses Miyoko Schinner's Sharp Vegan Cheddar as its jumping-off point, substituting soaked, shelled sunflower seeds for cashews, coconut yogurt for the rejuvelac, and omitting the oil.

This batch has great flavour, and is far more economical than the batch I made with pine nuts. I think prefer using agar as a "gelling" agent, 'though — the carageenan "sheets". Overall, this was a huge success and I'm looking forward to attempting it with agar in the future.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

More homemade bao

I think I've gotten the hang of making homemade bao. I actually remembered to account for the second rise this time, so I have much fluffier bao than my previous attempt. Also, this batch used all-purpose flour, rather than the bread flour I used last time. I think I'll switch back next time, I prefer the chew I get from using bread flour. I purchased a bamboo steamer basket from the local Seasons Foodmart yesterday and set to work on my most recent batch of bao today. I got the 18 cm steamer and can find two large, folded bao in it. They take about 20 minutes to steam-bake.

The first two out of the basket were filled with dairy-free Buffalo chicken sauce, a homemade coconut-based mayo (which I omitted from the third bao — it's too sour when paired with the other acidic ingredients), fresh cilantro, carrot do chua and pan-seared chicken breast.

It was a helluva brunch and I'm looking forward to having more over the course of the next couple of days!

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Butter" Chicken Pizza

In what is easily one of the yummiest things to emerge from my kitchen, I made up a "butter" chicken pizza yesterday.

I'm a fan of Spice Goddess, which I'm glad to state doesn't require a subscription to The Cooking Channel if one lives in Canada. Bal seems ridiculously approachable and is the first person I've seen truly demystify Indian cooking. So, yeah, I'm in love. Well, when I was watching an episode a few years ago, she whipped up her No-Butter Chicken, which uses yogurt in place of butter and which she swears tastes just as rich as the real deal. Needless to say, I'm a big fan of anything that adapts buttery-richness into a form I can eat without gut-wrenching pain.

So it came to be that when I found myself with a wealth of coconut yogurt to start finding uses for, I remembered Bal's promise of delectable, spicy goodness and got to work. I also whipped up a batch of her garam masala for use in the no-butter chicken recipe. The chicken recipe is a hit and I honestly don't know how I'm going to avoid the temptation to make it practically daily.

And yeah, it's fantastic as a pizza topping. I didn't use any other toppings and can't get over how satisfying yesterday's lunch was.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vegan Buffalo "wings"

This is easily one of the more "out there" concoctions I've ever made. I've been meaning to try making The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions' Baked Seitan Cutlets for a while now and — given that the recipe blurb states that these are crispy — thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (no actual birds were harmed in the making of this recipe, vegans!) and try pairing it with their Toffalo Hot Wings recipe's sauce.

I should note that, due to a mild nut sensitivity on my part, I've been using sesame oil whenever their seitan recipes (I've been dabbling in a few of them, over the past few weeks) call for it. Also, I don't have any of the bespoke hot sauce on-hand, so I used sriracha instead. Consequently, I found that adding only 2 Tbsp. of garlic powder was necessary, but also had to add a little over ¼ tsp. of cider vinegar to get the tang common to Buffalo sauce. Sadly, I slightly over-baked the seitan (which is now cooling in a sealed plastic container in the hopes that the residual steam will tame some of the crust).

The verdict: while I like both of these components, they're only passable when paired. Looks like I'm going to have to be inventive to use these up. Fortunately, I've decided to make myself pizza for the remainder of my lunches this week! There should be plenty of opportunity to be satisfied with these items.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First highly successful batch of vegan seed cheese!

This batch uses Miyoko Schinner's recipe for Sharp Vegan Cheddar Cheese as its jumping-off point, but I've broken pretty radically from her recipe to allow for my food sensitivities, so I thought I'd post my version here.

  • 1 ½ c. pine nuts, soaked ~8 hrs. (I also used up about ¼ c. of hemp seeds in this batch)
  • ½ c. nutritional yeast flakes
  • ⅜ c. coconut yogurt
  • 1 T. genmai miso
  • ½ t. salt
  • 4 ½ T. agar flakes
  • ⅜ t. xantham gum
Blend the first 5 ingredients until smooth, starting with the pine nuts. Allow to culture until a cheesy "tang" is achieved (this batch went overnight, about 12 hours).

Pour the agar flakes into a small saucepan with about an inch of water. Heat to boiling, whisking frequently to dissolve the agar flakes. Add the xanthan gum and whisk to combine. Pour the cultured mixture in to the pot and cook on medium-low until the mixture is glossy and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pot/leaves well-defined streaks in the bottom of the pot. Pour into a mold (I used a small metal cake tin with a push-through base) and allow to cool completely. Transfer to the fridge to chill.

When the "cheese" has chilled, de-mold and store wrapped in parchment paper and a baggie in the fridge.

As an additional note for anyone looking to replicate this, do not add the oil called for in Schinner's recipe — I got a gloopy mess of a "cheese" for my last batch. This was especially tragic given that the flavours were spot-on.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What?! Meat(free)-balls!

I picked up some vital wheat gluten during my last trip to Ambrosia so that I could start experimenting with meat- and soy-free proteins. My copy of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions has several interesting recipes, including their Meatfree Balls recipe. I made up a batch of those today and had them for brunch. The recipe calls for these delectables to be steamed for the last 8 minutes of cooking time in a barbecue sauce and — sure enough — during my tasting of these treats with various condiments, Diana Sauce provided, far and away, the best flavour profile, followed by ketchup. The texture of these was surprisingly (but not unpleasantly) chewy. I'm looking forward to experimenting further!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dal on a vegan chickpea "omelette"

The dal recipe I blogged about previously has become a lunchtime staple for me. Sadly, I keep forgetting to add extra salt during the cooking process, but that's — mercifully — easily remedied with a salt shaker. Also, I have now made this with apple cider vinegar for the acidic tang as well as just tomato (Bruce's suggestion) and I greatly prefer the former.

This week, I'm attempting to go vegan and refined-sugar free, so yesterday I whipped up a batch of my ice cream base to serve as my sweet, chocolate-y fix. Dinners for the majority of the week will be Tex-Mex, which I usually veganize for my purposes (last night's dinner: refried beans, sautéed onions, avocado, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cilantro, salsa, guacamole and coconut yogurt on a whole wheat tortilla) and I had two grilled Daiya sandwiches for brunch.

Today, I thought I'd whip up some dal. Different this time: I used half of a dehydrated ancho chile for spice, rather than a bit of cayenne powder. It made for a nicely medium dal. For as long as I've got ancho, I'll be using that in this recipe! Also, I got around to trying Cooking with Plants' vegan omelette after a disastrous first attempt at making another YouTube channel's chickpea egg. As long as you resign yourself to the fact that these are nothing like eggs, Anja's version is quite good (the first I tried is basically a thick, dense chickpea pancake). I have yet to secure "black salt"/kala namak, so it's possible that simple addition would change my mind about how egg-like this is, but I suspect not — the texture is most certainly not a spongy protein. Still, this one made for a fast and delicious base for today's dal.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bulgogi bao!

Kara seems unlikely to want to eat all of the 2.83 lbs of beef that I turned into a bastardized bulgogi earlier this week, so — doing my due diligence — I've graciously decided to eat some too. You know, to help her out.

Fortunately, this dovetails nicely into my earlier research on how to make bao, so today I whipped up a batch which I steamed in my craptacular, collapsible steel steamer basket. Once they were done, I split a few of them and added to them sriracha (vegan) mayo, a quick carrot pickle (which is nothing more than carrot matchsticks in seasoned rice vinegar) and the aforementioned bulgogi. These were so delicious. I will happily be eating more tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

When life Miriam hands you lemons...

...make vegan lemon curd-filled doughnuts!

Matt's had the flu for the past week, while Kara and I have had lesser colds. Given Matt's generally horrible state of being during this time, we thought it best to try to make arrangements to get the grocery shopping done yesterday without his help. Fortunately, Miriam very graciously allowed us to make use of too much of her time and her vehicle yesterday, so we were able to get that task addressed. In addition to being helpful, Miriam dropped off a bag of six Meyer lemons.

Well, the previously-blogged Bunner's cookbook happens to have a vegan lemon curd recipe. I noted it when I first went through the publication and dreamed wistfully of being able to procure some Meyer lemons, so it didn't take long for me to find "just the thing" to do with said lemons. The lemon curd turns out more like a gooey sauce, but the flavour is spot-on. I will absolutely make it again.

And, of course, if you're going to have a batch of lemon curd on hand, it doesn't take much imagination to decide to pair it with vegan doughnuts. I'm getting progressively better at making these, incidentally.

I've individually-wrapped the remaining, ungarnished doughnuts in plastic wrap and popped those into a large zipper-seal bag in the freezer. Some of my previous attempts at making these have proven that you can make them like-fresh if you re-heat them in the toaster oven for a few minutes before topping them and consuming. I hope this works, because trying to find things to do with a dozen doughnuts over the course of a few days can be trying when one is trying to avoid consuming refined sugar frequently. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and here's a picture of the utterly glorious remaining lemon curd (note the flecks of rind that I couldn't resist tossing in):

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bad Frank II! Bad, bad Frank II!

Yeah, he started stinking last night. It was a cross between baby puke and mould. Out he went.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Frank the Second

Long-time readers will recall that I had a very conscientious pet nine(!) years ago, one which fed me back. Truthfully, I never really mastered bread-making whilst caring for Frank (this was my best attempt) before his untimely demise. Since that time, I developed a much better "feel" for how to make successful yeast breads.

After a bagel-making jaunt at Bruce's last weekend, we found that Netflix's Cooked was just the thing to watch while waiting for our bread to proof. We ploughed through the first two episodes. Later this week, I was able to watch the remainder of the series and was inspired by the third episode to resume my experiments with keeping, feeding, and baking from a sourdough starter. Thus, I began using The Kitchn's recipe for sourdough starter on Monday evening and have been steadily feeding it daily, making up a batch of English-muffin-style dinner rolls with Frank II yesterday. They rose beautifully and the crumb is dense, sturdy, and chewy like an English muffin. Well done, me!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

An excellent use of homemade, dairy-free feta

About a decade ago, my workplace at the time was within walking distance of a Michel's Baguette. Amongst their many offerings, I fell in love with their Spinach Feta pastry — the salty tang of the feta being toned down by the mild bitterness of the spinach, all encased in a lightly, flaky puff pastry. Sadly, my few attempts to duplicate that delectable treat in dairy-free form went poorly. I just couldn't get the flavour right on the filling. Tofu gave me the right mouthfeel, but it was far too mild. Simply adding lemon juice didn't provide a complex enough sour element.

My recent batch of very salty and tangy dairy-free feta seemed like I might *finally* have the missing piece of the puzzle on my adaptation of Michel's pastry. So it was that, just after dropping Kara off at school yesterday, I began work on a puff pastry.

I used One Kitchen's Spinach Feta pastry as the basis for the filling I made (which has rave reviews on its relevant YouTube video). My version used only 150g of frozen spinach — half a pack of No Name brand chopped, frozen spinach.

Well, aside from the fact that my pastry turned out more cracker-like than puffy (curse you, Robin Hood Nutri-Flour!), these turned out excellently. I still have some filling left, so my attempt at making a pastry resembling Sfogliatella still has a chance to go well.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Homemade, cultured, dairy-free feta "cheese"!

I've been experimenting with cultured vegan foods lately, an endeavour which began when I was looking for a way to extend the So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt I picked up a few weeks ago. I began with a video that described How to Make Yogurt at Home without a Yogurt Maker. I used Thai Kitchen's Unsweetened Coconut Milk (my go-to coconut milk, as it often has a high ratio of fat to "whey") to make a batch of yogurt and it turned out fairly well, if noticeably weaker in Lactobacillus than the store-bought stuff. When I attempted to extend that batch a week later, using Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk, things went South quickly. That batch had no detectable sourness to it despite being left to culture for two days, and their product is thoroughly unsuitable for anyone looking for a neutral-flavoured coconut milk. While it's true that this product is unsweetened, it's got a very pronounced vanilla-like odour to it. I don't intend to use their products again. So, two attempts at extending yogurt resulted in a thoroughly unusable and unpalatable "yogurt", largely due to my second choice of coconut milk.

Well, it was back to the drawing board, so I thought I'd make an attempt at doing up a batch of coconut yogurt "from scratch". A trip to Ambrosia (weird, their website seems to be down at the moment), yielded a young, organic coconut and a bottle of Udo's Choice® Super 8 Plus Probiotic capsules (which isn't vegan — anyone looking to make this a truly vegan recipe will have to use vegan capsules). With those ingredients, an extra can of coconut milk, Raw, Vegan, Not Gross' Coconut Yogurt recipe, and two days of wait, I was able to make up a very tangy batch of coconut yogurt. Rather than using sterilized tools, I ended up using my first reference video's technique of boiling all of the ingredients but the probiotic capsule (which got added at the "seed" stage), and used all of the coconut water from the young coconut in the mixture. I think that the fact that I used all of the coconut water resulted in the sharp tang of the yogurt — there was a lot of sugar for the bacteria to digest!

I extended that batch by adapting Miyoko Schinner's Soy Cashew Yogurt recipe, substituting coconut milk for the recipe's soy/almond milk and hemp seed for the recipe's cashews. Two days later, I had another batch of yogurt, this time with a nutty (and more substantial!) quality to it, and slightly less tang than its predecessor.

This batch of yogurt is what I used to try my hand at making my own cultured cheese (actually, my second attempt; the first used the from-scratch coconut yogurt, tastes like "American" cheese, and ended up glue-y in texture — I think I didn't stir it enough). As the basis for my cultured cheese experiments, I've been using Miyoko Schinner's Vegan Mozzarella recipe as a basis.

The dairy-free feta you see pictured above used 1 c. of coconut yogurt, 2 t. sea salt, ½ c. water, and was left to culture overnight. The following day, I "activated" one heaping tablespoon of agar agar in a pot of water which was brought to the boil, then I added the cultured mixture. I boiled until dragging a spoon along the bottom of the pot left a trail. Once it had cooled below 110° F, I added about a tablespoon of my coconut/hemp yogurt, and poured it into a ramekin to cool.

Today, I'm in the process of making a delectable treat I haven't indulged in since before Kara was born due to its dairy content. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Homemade, soft flour tortillas

I whipped up a batch of these today for lunch and topped a few of them with (canned and heated) refried beans, sautéed onions, salsa and avocado. It was a very satisfying lunch.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kitchen blitz

In the past couple of weeks, I've whipped up a chicken adobo (yay, cheap chicken legs!), another batch of homemade bagels (that's them, proofing up there), have experimented with coconut-based yogurt and a vegan "cheese" which is quite similar to cream cheese and which uses this recipe as a base.

The latter was most recently and fairly successfully created with 200 mL coconut cream, 2 tsp agar (dissolved into the coconut cream on medium-low heat), 1 tsp coconut vinegar, about 1/4 tsp salt and a tbsp of coconut yogurt (hence the experimentation with that, too). To achieve a more authentic consistency, I should cut back on the agar, but I think I'll keep working on using small amounts of hemp seed to make something more like a hard cheese.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blast from the past...risotto

The last time I blogged about risotto was six years ago, which sounds about right in terms of when I might last have made this dish. Yesterday, I had a small amount of leftover pork belly, chorizo and chicken broth to use up, so I returned to my favourite "everything but the kitchen sink" recipe. This version also incorporated an onion, peas, carrots, white wine and saffron.

I was too heavy-handed with the wine, but the risotto turned out fairly well, just the same, and it made excellent arancini today (which, strangely, didn't taste of wine at all).

In related news, today's trip to McEwan (my first visit to the full location!) provided me with the opportunity to purchase carnaroli rice (which I haven't had on-hand in many, many years) and dried ancho chiles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New York-style homemade bagels!

They may not be the prettiest creations, but they are delicious! When making these yesterday, I followed this recipe for New York style bagels, and dropped these in just-under boiling water with a teaspoon of baking soda added to it.

If the difference in flavour and texture between these and the kind of bagels I'm used to is at all indicative of the difference between New York and Montreal bagels, I can safely say I prefer these, airier, less sweet bagels. They were a big hit around here; out of the eight I made yesterday, one remains.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Homemade sushi!

It's been years since the last time I made sushi for myself. When I realized last week that I could make a Seattle roll with vegan cream cheese (the soy-free kind, these days), I got to planning. Today I made the first of about three(!) days worth of rolls, using sushi rice (about 1 cup cooked, for two rolls), seasoned rice vinegar (1 tbsp.), a bit of extra salt to taste, nori sheets, smoked salmon, English cucumber, avocado and Daiya cream cheese.

Sadly, the vegan cream cheese was a misstep: it was sweet enough to throw off the balance of the rest of the ingredients. It looks like I'll be having cream cheese free rolls 'til Thursday's lunch and finding a way to otherwise use up the Daiya product (which I suspect would go well on a bagel).