Thursday, 26 November 2009

parsnip perfection

You know when after the first bite of something, you immediately think "I will have this every day from here on in, thank you very much. I don't need anything else." ? That was my reaction to this soup. So easy. So wonderful. Parsnips and smoked chilies were made for each other, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It looks like soup. You don't need a photo. Incidentally, that's also my reaction to La Confession. Once I heard it, I swore that it was all the music I needed. Yum.

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large-ish parsnips, washed and chopped
1 small spud, chopped
lots and lots of fresh ginger (like 3 -4 tbs) chopped
4 whole cloves garlic
1 tbs marmite (I don't actually use marmite, I use some hippie health food store brand not made by kraft... any yeast extract spread will do here)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbs cumin seeds, depending on how much you love cumin.
1-3 chipotle chilies, in adobo sauce
salt to taste
juice from one lime
1 cup parsley, chopped

Put everything up to and including the vinegar in a pot, add enough water to cover by an inch or three, and simmer until everything is tender. Meanwhile, dry-toast and grind up your cumin seeds. When the soup is done, remove from heat and add the cumin, chilies, salt and lime juice. If you are not of the heat-loving kind, use smoked paprika instead of the chilis. Puree. Add parsley and serve. Oh. Yum.

smoky music with a touch of heat: la confession, by lhasa de sela

Saturday, 21 November 2009

fun with blowtorches

.... because who could resist buying a little blowtorch?

You see, I was in the hardware store, looking for a replacement knife for reasons that are neither interesting nor any of your business, dammit. Hardware stores are my favorite, because they tend to have both power tools and kitchen stuff, often in the same room. If there is a consumer-whore heaven, this would be it. In this particular hardware store were lovely little blowtorches. Lovely. They called my name, and I couldn't resist thier siren call. "Wield us!" they said. Who could say no? Not me. After all, I'm only human. Anyway, freshly armed with a new blowtorch, I had to make creme brulee, like, right away. And for some reason, I wanted it to be green.

I've had vegan creme brulees based on both cashews and coconut milk, but find both of them a bit much. They just sit there in my stomach, being heavy. I don't like it. I like the tofu ones, even if it is super-fashionable right now to cook all desserts with ungodly amounts of cashews. Oh, and have I mentioned I also don't make cupcakes?

Anyhow, these are yummerific, subtle and just the right amount of sweet and rich without tipping over that edge of making you regret it an hour later. Plus, they're green! Yay! And more importantly than the taste or colour: you get to use a blowtorch.

green tea and almond creme brulee

1 package soft silken tofu
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp almond essence
1/4 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs matcha
pinch salt
2 tbs cornstarch

mix together and blend! blend! blend!

Pour into 4-6 oven-safe containers, and place them in a pan of water. The water should come halfway up the containers. Bake, uncovered at 200C for 45 mins. Cool completely. Sprinkle with sugar and then melt it with a blowtorch! Wooohoooo! Alternately, place under a broiler until the sugar caramelizes (this is not even nearly as much fun as using a blowtorch, but will produce perfectly good creme brulees, if you're into that sort of thing). I think I need to practice a bit to get the top of these perfect, but I'm totally willing to put in as many tries as needed.

I made them in glasses, because I was excited about the colour, but I actually think they'd be prettier in ramekins. I'm sure you can make your own decisions on this front.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

scavenged pumpkin buns

I really hate it when people waste food. This week at work, there were three perfectly good uncarved pumpkins that were going to get thrown out after being used as decoration for a Halloween party. This made me angry. What sort of people are we that we use food as disposable decorations? So I took one of the pumpkins home and made these buns, and also some pumpkin ravioli. Note that this is the kind of pumkin that you usually carve up for jack o lanterns, so it's not very sweet or tasty. I also used an apple from a big batch of them that I picked a few weeks ago that was well past it's prime, and wasn't very sweet. If you use a sugar pumpkin for these, cut down the sugar and spices. These are rather heavily spiced because the pumpkin mainly provides moisture and a bit of a pumpkiny taste, but there's no point trying to let an anemic pumpkin "shine through". You'd need a sweet winter squash or sugar pumpkin for that. If you don't use quick yeast, proof yours in some water and sugar beforehand and omit the hot water from the pumkin/apple mixture.

These aren't cinnamon buns in the cakey sense. I like to eat them for breakfast, where I don't want a sugar rush, or to feel weighed down afterwards. These are more of a bread, and would even go nicely with soup, especially one with north african spices. Mmmmmmm..... maybe I'll try that for dinner.

dry mix:
2 cups ww spelt flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
dash black pepper
pinch salt
1 tbs quick yeast

blend together:
1/2 rescued (medium size) pumpkin, cut into slices and roasted until it begins to caramelize
1 apple, picked from an abandoned tree
2 tbs of okara or soy yogurt or ground almonds or almond butter. Pick one.
You should end up with a scant 1.5 cups of puree altogether. Reduce the water if you have more, or if your puree is very wet. Mine was the consistancey of very thick apple sauce.

mix into pumkin/apple
1/2 cup very hot water.

Add wet ingredients to dry, mix with a spoon, and then liberally dust a counter with either a cup more spelt flour or a cup of some other random flour (I used rice flour). I also liberally dusted myself with flour, but that's optional. Knead until the dough comes together, adding more flour if you need to.

For the filling (basically a sweet lemony creamy thing):
1 batch okara or 1 cup ground almonds
agave nectar to taste
generous squeeze lemon juice
1 tbs sweet white miso

Roll out dough into a square. Spread with filling. Sprinkle with raisins. Roll up and cut into 6-8 buns and place them in a pan that is lined with paper that you have sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise overnight in a cool place, or for an hour in a warm place. Preheat oven to damn hot (250C) with a pan of water in it. Bake at 250C for 10 mins, drop temp to about 200, and bake another 5 mins. Take out and brush with a mix of soy milk, agave and cinnamon. Bake for another 5 mins. Take out and brush again. Let cool for about 20 mins. Eat!

Warm and comforting music: Nighbook.