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!