May 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I think it should be abundantly clear from my previous posts that I FREAKING LOVE SUMMER [see post: Vegan Lemon Barz]. Do you know what else I love? AMERICA. And so in honor of the Great American Memorial Day Three-Day Weekend, I present to you a vegan, All-American Buckle. What is a buckle you ask? A delicious cobbler/crumble/pie/cake treat that might just be as old as America itself. It was probably/maybe invented by some of the first colonists, who were pretty good at adapting English recipes to their new homeland. This is one thing I love about Americans…WE ARE RESOURCEFUL. And I mean, while some of our inventions might seem a bit superfluous and extravagant, and some may even contribute to the stereotype of Americans as lazy, obese wastes of space, like the LiquiGlide condiment bottle lubricant and the fashion abomination that is the Skechers Shape-Ups; there are also some examples of American ingenuity and practicality, like:
- Smoke Detectors
- Crash Test Dummies (Not the band—they’re Canadian).
- Paper Clips
So I wanted to celebrate this great nation that I love the best way that I know how…with treats. And what looks more American than some dessert covered in raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, and topped with ice cream??
(Okay, maybe like apple pie or something. But I am trying to step outside the box here). Now, while this buckle could be made with virtually any type of fruit, unless you are a communist or hate America, I recommend sticking with red and blue hued ones. (This recipe is adapted from the Summer Fruit Buckle Cake in Vegan Pie in the Sky).
To make America, you will need!!
3/4 C Sliced almonds, ground into a coarse meal
1 1/2 C Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cardamom (I recommend leaving this out, as I maintain that Cardamom is the Devil’s spice, and will ruin any otherwise perfectly delectable treat. Sorry if you disagree, this is just how I feel.)
1 C Non-Dairy Milk
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2/3 C Sugar
1/4 C Canola Oil
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1 lb Fresh Fruit (By God, it better be red and blue.)
Now the recipe also calls for a streusel-like topping made of cinnamon and sugar. You might want to add this…or you might completely forget about it because you didn’t read the recipe through all the way because you are soooo excited to toss this guy in the oven and get it baking. Either way, things will be fine, and it will be delicious. (If you want the added excellence of more cinnamon and sugar, also have at the helm an additional tablespoon of sugar mixed with another 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon).
Preheat the old oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ cake pan (or a 9.5″ pie pan if you, like me, do not own such extravagant baking dishes) with parchment paper and grease with oil. Then, mix the milk with the vinegar and leave it for a few minutes to curdle. This is not gross, we are just making vegan buttermilk. Get over it. While this is happening, chop up any fruit that needs chopping and mix the dry ingredients together (for reasons I never fully understood, sugar does not count as a “dry ingredient.” It is always added in with the wet ingredients when recipes call for mixing the two categories separately. This does not make sense to me. Sugar is clearly dry. I digress). Add the rest of the wet ingredients (including the sugar, WTF) to the buttermilk mixture.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just mixed. Your batter will still be lumpy. Pour the batter into the baking dish of your choosing. Dump the fruit on top of the batter (or as the recipe recommends, carefully place the fruit in a spiral formation… BUT SRSLY? WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT. I WANT TO EAT THIS NOW, DAMMIT. Unless you are realllllly trying to impress someone, spiral formations just waste time in my opinion). If you had the foresight to prepare some topping, sprinkle that on top too. If you didn’t, oh well!
Bake the buckle for 50ish minutes… I KNOW. This seems like a long time to wait. And it is. But maybe you can entertain yourself by watching Wet, Hot American Summer (featuring an all-star comedic cast, this happens to be one of my all-time favorite summer movies). About half way through the movie, check on the buckle. You could do a knife test and see if the knife comes out clean…or you could just sort of jiggle it and make sure it appears semi-fully cooked. I did a sort of combo; the knife definitely didn’t come out clean, but the cake didn’t appear RAW. Perhaps a bit undercooked, but I didn’t feel like waiting any longer and I mean, it’s vegan, so it’s not like I am going to get salmonella or anything. Now you could wait for it to cool for 20 minutes, flip it onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper, let it cool a bit more, and flip it over AGAIN onto ANOTHER plate… I mean if you have the patience to do this, KUDOS!!! If all you can think about is HOWMPFing (I believe this is the noise I make when I rapidly ingest delicious treats) this as quickly as possible, you could just give it five or so minutes and then slice it like a pie/scoop it like a cobbler. Add some ice cream and quickly get back to the movie. You should make it back in time to see Molly Shannon receive marriage advice from the 9 year olds in her craft class.
Now off with you!! Go celebrate your day off!!!* Go to the beach! Go to a barbeque! Go to a pool! Make a treat! Ride a bike! Watch a movie! BY GOD, JUST TREAT YOURSELF!
*Sorry if you are not American and must work this day…you can still enjoy your buckle and all things red, white, and blue.
May 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
WAYS THAT THIS FOOD IS REPRESENTATIVE OF MY LIFE:
1. I am an Italian-American living in Latin America
2. I am sort of healthy? (If you forget about the butter…)
Anywho, so empanadas are basically Latin bread pockets. In Costa Rica they are made with cornmeal masa, stuffed with something moderately tasty like cheese or refried beans, and then fried in oil or (shudder) lard. Their consistency is similar to that of a grease-sodden sponge, and their density resembles lead. If you eat an entire one of these without first training your tummy with mysterious street-food, and you can basically guarantee yourself an extended stay in el baño.
Not all empanadas are this way, however. In Argentina, where empanadas reach the height of glory, they make empanada dough out of wheat flour and bake them in lieu of the mandatory CR grease bath. The result is a light, flaky crust, a sweeter taste and all-around cuddlier texture. Once you’ve had one of these, you’ll wonder why anyone would ever make them differently.
And so, on Sunday last, I decided to make my own version of Argentine empanadas. My first inclination was to stuff them with spinach and goat cheese—then I remembered that I didn’t have any spinach and that goat cheese is one of those items that I really can’t buy here without selling a kidney. Instead, I stuffed them with homemade Caprese salad, which seemed like it might be tasty. Boy was I right. Delightful! No, better than delightful. You’ll eat the shit out of these. Seriously.
- 1.5 cups finely chopped and drained cherry tomatoes (you can use regular tomatoes)
- 1.5 cups finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- ¾ cup grated cheese (a combination of Parmesean and Mozzerella is yummers)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt ‘n peppa
Mix it up and set aside. Pretty standard. It’s important to drain the tomatoes—you don’t want any excess moisture in your empanadas, for this will only cause them to leak grossly in the oven and rather than being a flock of pretty little half-moons, they will resemble a platoon of dying Jabba the Huts. Just drain the damn tomatoes. The dough will have to chill in the fridge for half an hour anyway, so just drain the salad right before rolling out the dough. It isn’t that hard.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 stick butter
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk
- dash salt
Add the flour and salt in a bowl and mix ‘er up. Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers (or a food processor, grumble) until the mixture is crumbly. Then add the whole egg and the water, mixing to create a ball of dough. Put the dough in the fridge for half an hour to CTFO.
When your dough is done chillin’ and your salad is mixed and DRAINED, you can preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then you’ll start to assemble the empanadas. This recipe makes about 10-12 empanadas, depending on size. You can go about this one of two ways.
Way #1: Bethany’s misadventure
Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into rough circles about 8 inches in diameter. Deal with the fact that it’s really hard to get that much dough to uniform thinness and circlyness. Spoon the filling into the center of each circle, and pinch shut into half-moon-ish shapes. Deal with the fact that some of your empanadas will be sort of ugly. Brush the tops with egg yolk and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Way #2: What I’ll do next time
FIRST, divide the dough into 10-12 pieces of equal size. THEN, roll each chunk of dough out between two pieces of parchment paper one at a time until ¼ inch thick. Stuff, pinch shut, and place on baking sheet. Marvel at how pretty they all turned out and at how smart you are. Then brush with egg yolk and bake for 15-20 minutes.
So! Onward, my friends—make your empanadas, learn from my mistakes, and create a whole batch of beautiful dough pockets stuffed with a delicious food substance of your choice. Hey guys—you should create your own meta-food meals! If you’re Mexican, throw some ground beef with taco seasoning in there. Japanese? Sesame chicken would be awesome. Irish? Lucky charms! Go wild. Express yourselves.
May 11, 2012 § 4 Comments
I would specify that these are vegan bagels (which they are) but I am pretty sure that all bagels are. Imagine my shock when I found out that even the EGG bagels at my old place of employment were vegan. (Turns out they just used some turmeric to color the dough egg yolk yellow. Now, don’t extrapolate this and start thinking that there is no such thing as a real egg bagel. I am sure there is. And I am sure there are in fact other bagels that are not inherently vegan. I am just saying, most probably are. These definitely are).
Bagels happen to be one of my favorite foods. Back in the day when I was slinging coffee in Ann Arbor for a living, I used to eat at least 2 bagels a shift. Now, my Ann Arbor heyday has reached mythic proportions, at least in my head. I recently decided that it was during those 4 years, that my life reached its pinnacle. I had a job that allowed me to have ample amounts of fun, and yes, sometimes show up to work at 6 am still drunk from the night before. But I still managed to pay the bills. I lived with my best friends (as opposed to alone). I knew people in town, and they knew me. I was a somebody. People recognized me as “coffee shop girl.” It has been all down hill from there. Or so I had let myself think.
I recently realized this was not necessarily the case. I HAVE CONTROL OVER MY OWN LIFE AND I CAN STILL HAVE UNRELENTING FUN, DAMMIT. It may have taken a horrible interview that I may or may not have walked out of to teach me this lesson, but I think it was worth it. Hey, I didn’t want the job anyways. In fact, standing up during said interview and saying, “This isn’t going to work for me,” was perhaps the most empowering moment of my life. I realized, I DO NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING I DO NOT WANT TO DO. Turning 26 (which happens for me in the next few days* Edited to add: A few days ago—I’m v. late posting this, from Lillian) does not have to mean the end of my carefree youth. Sure, it would be nice to have a job, and it might even be nice to have a job that is in some way, shape, or form related to my degree(s). But stressing about all this is not going to change anything….besides my stress levels and the number of times my left eye twitches each day. So you know what I am going to do? I am going to take it easy. Maybe I don’t want to get a job related to my degree(s). Maybe I want to open a bakery, or maybe I want to live out of a van and climb rocks for a few years. AND I CAN DO THAT. BECAUSE I AM IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE.
So, in the wake of my graduation (again) and my newfound unemployment, I decided to rise and shine earlier than I needed to, and tackle a baking project I have been meaning to try for awhile. BAGELS. I always thought bagels were a difficult breed of baked good. There was rising and rolling and boiling and baking involved. This seemed like a lot of steps. BUT. I was still riding my TAKE CONTROL high, and figured, I CAN DO ANYTHING. And do you know what? THEY WERE NOT THAT HARD TO MAKE. Which really just proved the point I have been trying to make this whole time: take control of your life, do what you want to do. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Take it easy. And everything else will fall into place. I guess I am just be a big believer in the whole things-will-work-out-in-the-end scenario, but I feel like I am kind of living proof that they will! So when life gives you anxiety and debilitating self-doubt regarding your uncertain future, do what I do, and make bagels.
BAGELS. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
Adapted from Vegan Brunch
1 TBL Sugar
1 Package Dry Active Yeast
1.5 C. Warm Water
4 C. All Purpose Flour
2 TBL Vital Wheat Gluten (I have no idea why this recipe called for this. I can guarantee you that 99% of bagels out there do not contain VWG. But I couldn’t figure out what this would be replacing, so I stuck with it. The best I can figure is that it just makes them a bit chewier).
2 tsp Salt
Toppings (I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and nutritional yeast).
You know what a good song to listen to while making these would be? Take It Easy, by the Eagles/Jackson Browne. I think I actually was trancing out (in a non-drug-related fashion) to Shpongle, which I also recommend. Now let’s get started. We have to proof the yeast, to make sure that your little bagels will rise (lest ye be left with hard little tack biscuits). So dissolve the sugar in the warm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir it a few times and let the yeast go to town. Leave it for 5ish minutes and mix together all the dry ingredients in another bowl. When you come back, the yeast should be having a party and foaming around like it’s their job (which to be clear, it is).
Add the wet to the dry and mix it up. After getting the wet semi-incorporated, you are probably going to have to dump out the mixture and start kneading it by hand (unless you are fancy and have a stand mixer or something that has a dough hook attachment). When you start kneading, the dough will feel kind of pebbly? I don’t know how else to describe it. It feels like there are little beans or pebbles under the surface of the dough. Knead it until those pebbles are gone. This will probably took less than 10 minutes, or until you just start to break a sweat. (To be fair, I might have started sweating a bit prematurely since it is unseasonably warm in Chicago right now, and since I have to stand on my tip toes to make my counter kneading-level). You should now have a smooth, elastic, slightly tacky ball of dough. Place said dough ball into a bowl and coat it LIGHTLY in some sort of oil. (I used olive). Let it rise, covered, for about an hour.
Now. Time to roll and boil those babies. (Sorry that sounds way more violent than intended). Divide your dough into 12 even sections. Roll each into a ball, then pinch a hole in the middle. Stick your finger through the hole and twirl the bagel around your finger, kind of like a hula hoop, to stretch the hole out a bit. This is more fun than you can imagine.
Place the shaped bagels onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover your bagels and let them rise for a few minutes. Probably like 10. (If you don’t do this step, your bagels are still totally edible. They will just be sort of mini and a little denser). While you are waiting for them to rise a bit again, you can preheat your oven to 425°F and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer. Add a bagel or two or three, depending on the size of your pot. You don’t want them to be crowded. The bagel should float right back up to the surface. Let it simmer for one minute on each side. Remove from the water and place back on the baking sheet. Add any toppings you wish. When all the bagels have been boiled, pop the tray in the oven for about 20 minutes.
While the bagels are baking, maybe you want to make some flavored cream cheese? I made sun-dried tomato and scallion cream cheese by mixing some rehydrated tomatoes and chopped up scallions into Trader Joe’s This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese. When the bagels are golden brown, pull them out of the oven. Now… the recipe says to let them cool for about 30 minutes. This was literally the hardest part of the recipe. I mean they were RIGHT THERE.
But I was scared that this 30 minutes was an essential part of the cooking process. I mean, it is such a specific number. It did not say “wait til they cool,” or “allow to rest a few minutes.” It said “LEAVE THEM ALONE FOR A FULL 30 MINUTES.” (I paraphrased). So I managed to wait a good 23 minutes before slicing them open and slathering them in cream cheese. You know why I didn’t wait the full 30 minutes? BECAUSE I AM IN CHARGE. So I made an executive decision; sure I might have had to live with the consequences of eating under/improperly cooked bagels, but it was my bagel, my choice. And you know what? It was fine. So take back control of your life and your breakfast baked goods—make some bagels, or don’t, it’s your decision!
May 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
As a 26-year-old woman, I feel as though I’ve truly moved into that phase in my life where it is no longer acceptable for me to prepare and eat a meal that features Ramen Noodles, Pop-Tarts or canned Progresso chili. I actually eat vegetables now, and soy products, and other foods that don’t even come with microwave directions. For the most part I don’t miss the slightly drunk feeling I get from consuming astronomical levels of sodium or high fructose corn syrup. There’s just one item from my Fast-Track-to-Type-2-Diabetes Diet that I can’t get away from.
Lillian can attest to my Problem With Frosting. In college, there was usually a tub of half-eaten Pillsbury frosting in our fridge. If you opened the top, it was obvious to the observer thatsomeone had the habit of scooping out the contents with his or her (her) index finger. I mean sometimes I’d use a spoon, like, if we had company. But really, once you’ve done away with the customary baked good vehicle on which frosting is traditionally spread, what’s the point in getting all fancy with utensils? There’s just something about eating straight frosting out of a plastic tub that causes you to lose all semblance of etiquette…or self-respect. Honestly, I’m no hillbilly.
Anyway. Fast forward 4 years (AHHHHH how am I so OLD?) and I’ve now done away with most of my Disgusting College Eating Habits. I also live in Costa Rica, where imported tubs of Pillsbury frosting cost the equivalent of a barrel of crude oil. As I am being paid in mangos and hugs, buying pre-packaged American frosting is no longer an option. Making frosting, however? That I can do. And so can you, my darlings!
Which brings me to my point. I made a batch of frosting this weekend, and since I needed to take this frosting to a baby shower as a potluck contribution, I even made a cake on which to display the frosting. The cake itself was inconsequential (albeit tasty) and so I’ll just say that it was a Craisin and sunflower seed quickbread recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything book. It was easy to make and would have made for a boring post. In reality, it served as a scaffold for the frosting, which was LEMON-VANILLA BUTTERCREAM in flavor and TASTED LIKE HEAVEN.
Here’s what you’ll need to frost a 9-inch cake round:
½ stick butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg yolk
Start by creaming the butter (with a mixer, if you have one), then add in the vanilla, egg yolk, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix very well to combine. Then begin working in the confectioner’s sugar in small doses. Sift that sugar, if you have the means—I did not do this step, and thus my frosting turned out a tad lumpy. The whole procedure should only take about 10 minutes. If you’re like me, the quick timeframe will probably make you reconsider the whole frosting-making business. As in: why don’t I make frosting more often? Why have I not explored several, nay, DOZENS of frosting recipes in my life? How on Earth have I not created and sampled a smorgasbord of frosting delights as part of my recent quarter-life crisis?
Which brings me to my point, which is also the title of this post: The Icing on the Cake. We think of icing/frosting as the extra, bonus stuff. Let’s be real. It’s the best part. It doesn’t have to be some rare, only-sometimes-attainable, ambrosia-like substance. It takes 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to assemble, and doesn’t require electric gadgets or even any heat. It’s hard to screw up, and if, like me, your frosting comes out lumpy, just do what I did: cover that cake with sprinkles and commence to shoveling it into your pie-hole.
Icing on the Cake? Screw the cake. Get down to business with the icing, which is what you’re here for anyway. If, for the sake of pretense, you need to eat this frosting on a baked good, then do so. But if you don’t, then stop being a snob and eat it with your fingers or a spoon. You won’t regret it.
May 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This is the very first in what will, we hope, be a series of posts from baking friends. We at Dillywheats are quite actually beside ourselves with joy to present to you the one and only Ilsa!
Says Ilsa: First, we make the batter. This recipe is adapted from a “Classic Yellow Cake Batter” recipe published in Martha Stewart Everyday Food, and is designed to be a real “workhorse” when it comes to all of your serious, no-nonsense cake baking needs. In essence, this batter is the fertile soil in which a whole host of sophisticated and influential cakes are born. To begin, assemble the following Classic ingredients:
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour (spooned and leveled)*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
1. Bring cold ingredients to room temperature. Butter should be soft enough to hold a thumbprint but still keep its shape.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.3. Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time, until combined. Beat in vanilla.
4. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. With mixer on low, add 1/3 the flour mixture to butter mixture, beating to combine.6. Beat in 3/4 cup buttermilk, another 1/3 the flour mixture, another 3/4 cup buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down bowl as needed.
Tada! Cake Batter. Now the magic happens:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 2″x 6″ miniature loaf pans. (Confession: I don’t have mini loaf pans. Further Confession: I only just now realized that the recipe called for said mini pans. With this new knowledge, I will say that a mini loaf pan would probably be the ideal vessel in which to perfectly and evenly swirl two cake batters together. BUT, if you use 2 regular loaf pans, you get a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure Cake, and can decide to be “Naughty” or “Nice” by slicing from the more chocolately or more vanilla-y end, respectively.)
7. Whisk the cocoa powder and water together in a large bowl. Stir 1/2 the Cake Batter into the cocoa mixture.
8. Spoon a dollop of each batter next to one another into each pan. Repeat until pans are 1/2 full (or until you’re out of batter or vessels). Either alternate layers of vanilla and chocolate batter, or keep them purely side-to-side for the Choose Your Own Adventure Version. (Okay fine, I have another confession. I didn’t alternate layers of Chocolate and Vanilla because I didn’t read carefully enough, not because I was clever or didn’t know if I was Naughty or Nice. You will probably have a better marbleized inside if you alternate layers, but the swirly top will be just as pretty either way.)
9. Swirl the batters together with a butter knife! Swirl until you are satisfied with the prettiness, but don’t get overzealous- although fun, over swirling leads to muddy-looking cakes and a combination of Naughty and Nice as cloying and tiresome as one of those Betsy Johnson tutus with purses and rhinestones glued to it… or whatever it is that Betsy Johnson is supposed to make.
10. Bake the cakes at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Get Real with Ilsa: Okay people, let’s Get Real. Since becoming a Suburban Housewife a handful of months ago, I too have found that baking plays a special role in One’s Life. And yet, with no dietary restrictions and living in a small Oregon town where one is never more than 10 miles from a farm, it is rare that I must overcome the baking challenges championed by Dillywheat-ers living in urban OR regular jungles. Despite living “Somewhere That’s Green,” I once lived in a foreign country with decidedly un-American baked goods. While you may have always thought that “Spotted Dick” and “Clotted Cream” are STDs, they are actually popular dessert items in the UK. Moreover, in the UK the term “pudding” refers to most desserts in a catch-all terminology sense, and more specifically is used in place of the word “cake.” But it’s not that simple. Turns out that UK Pudding is a strange and wonderful cake-pudding hybrid, a dense and moist steamed cake-good that is usually served with heavy cream poured all over it (never whipped, but sometimes clotted). I mention this because I landed upon a brilliant buttermilk “substitution” that gave these cakes the dense moisture of a British Pudding without the challenging flavor profile of a Spotted Dick. Instead of Buttermilk, I used 1 part regular milk, and three parts plain, original, Greek Yogurt. It was clever; it was decadent; it was caloric. It was good.But, alas, we have not yet gotten real. The bottom line of this recipe is this: make a cake batter, divide it in two. Give one half of the batter a different flavor/color/identity. The iterations of this simple concept are limitless.