Saturday, March 27, 2010

Orange Tian: An Epic Failure

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

There are only a few things for me to say about his dessert- I had hardly any time and it didn't go very well.

I had to push off my dessert making to Wednesday, having been sick previously, and we were leaving town the next morning. On Tuesday night I was able to make a few ingredients, however. I'll go through my tian thingy in sections:

Marmalade: I really had no idea how to make marmalade. Let's just let that be clear right now. That being said, here's what I did; I blanched my orange slices several times, but the bitterness was still apparent, so I just continued on to pulverise (not mince) them in the food processor, adding a gluggy splash of agave nectar and later some of the juice from segmenting my tangelos. I cooked off the water and called it done. Never try to make marmalade like this- it was really gross!

Whipped cream: A lesson was learned during this challenge- you can't whip silken tofu. So on VEGirl went to the coconut whipped cream method. You just skim the solidified fat from the top of a chilled can of coconut milk and whip until fluffly, but I whipped so long it actually began to separate. Oops!

Caramel sauce: The plan to make this was lost along with the time!

Pate sablee: Abandoning all attempts at low-fat and origanality, I cut together some Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour and some Earth Balance non-dairy butter, and threw in baking powder, agave nectar, and flax eggs. Into molds and an oven the batter went (forget chilling the dough and cooke cuttering it, it's midnight for heaven's sake!). What emerged was not a flaky pastry dough, but a crumbly baked thing. It tasted okay, though, so into the tian it would go.

Orange segements: Very fun, as a matter of fact! I enjoyed learning how to segment an orange, but I actually used tagelos for my dessert. Unfortunatly, I only had eough segments for a few slices for each tian.

So how did the finished dessert taste? I couln't finish mine- the marmalade really ruined it. I have no picture becuase I couln't turn the dessert out of the little mold I provided for it, even though I chilled it in the hotel freezer. I don't think you want to look at a mold.

I hope that other peoples' tians went well, and I hope I can give this another try some time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

As Promised....

Here is my Health Rebel Risotto!

Inspired by the March Daring Cook's challenge (my post), this healthy vegan risotto is filled with veggie, brown rice, "cheezy" goodness. Though not prepared traditionally, it's equally delicious (and very simple!). Why let the traditions tie you down?

Health Rebel Risotto

This risotto has the characteristic chewiness of brown rice, which I happen to love. White risotto rice can be subbed, but you won't get all the good fiber the rice bran gives.

1 cup basmati brown rice

1 cup brown sticky rice
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, diced

Garlic cloves (however much you like), minced
approximately 1 cup chopped asparagus approximately
2 cups carrot, cut as desired

1/4 cup water

12 oz. (1 package) silken tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
2 heaping teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped parsley

In a large pot, bring the stock, vinegar, and both rices to a boil, adding the salt as soon as the liquid is bubbling. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat to low for about 60 minutes, when a spoon dragged along the bottom of the pot reveals rice sticking to it.

In the last half hour of the rice cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt the oil and saute the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until lightly caramelized. Add the asparagus, carrot, and water to the skillet and steam the veggies, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is cooked through.

Meanwhile, blend the silken tofu, olive oil, coconut milk, and herbs in a blender or food processor until smooth (it's okay for the herbs to still be visible).

Once all the components are ready, add the cooked vegetables to the rice pot and coat with the contents of the food processor/blender. Heat through until piping hot. A the last minute, stir in the nutritional yeast and additional salt and pepper to taste. Add a garnish of chopped parsley to the dish right before serving. Pass additional chopped parsley at the table for people to top their risotto with.

Serves 4-5 people


Printable Recipe

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Health Rebel Strikes Again

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Risotto doesn't have to be vegan's nightmare- just replace the butter with Earth Balance and use a vegan Parmesan. But what is one persons comfort food is another (ve)girl's challenge. I just couldn't bear to use white rice, seven tablespoons butter, a 1/4 cup of both olive oil and cheese in a dish. And then actually eat it.

Therefore, I decided to change my risotto up a bit- and still do the required parts of the challenge. My mother makes homemade vegetable stock with veggie scraps; I intended to help her, but overestimated my available time. Check! I also made the rice base (just changed it a bit...). Check! Only the thing is, before I went vegan, I detested the risotto. There was something about the texture that didn't settle with me, and there was no flavor except the cheese. With these unpleasant memories swimming in my head, I crafted a new risotto to my taste that my whole family thoroughly enjoyed as well. I will post the new recipe soon- Health Rebel Risotto!

Filled with veggies, brown rice goodness and a delicious sticky, "cheezy" coating, this stuff is the real deal. Stay on the internet, as the recipe will be posted soon. The Health Rebel has struck once more!

Thanks, Eleanor and Jess for the great challenge!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Bread, But Flat as a Pancake

It's flat bread!

Remember when I mentioned my adventures with pita bread in the February Daring Cooks challenge? Well here's the recipe, re-named flat bread; though you can call it pita bread if you're serving it with a Mediterranean spread.

Gluten-free and flat bread work well together. Have you ever noticed that when you try to use a regular loaf pan to bake GF bread it falls and/or cooks funny? Yet when you put that same recipe in a larger baking pan, and it bakes only an inch or two high, the texture and taste is improved? In gluten-free baking, it seems, things need to be baked quickly otherwise it crumples on itself and becomes dense. To combat this phenomenon, a flat bread works nicely, as it bakes quickly and doesn't really need to raise much in the oven.

So without further ado, I give you your next staple bread. For a crunchy, tougher bread, bake each longer on each side. For a bread more akin to the pita variety, bake each side to a creamy tan color- it makes for a soft and steamy bread affair.

Flat Bread
Gluten-free, vegan, corn-free

This delicious flat bread makes a great pita bread substitute.

Special equipment needed: a pizza stone or cast iron pan(s)

2 c. warm water
2 tablespoon dry-active yeast
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (1/3 cup whole groats, ground down in a spice grinder/food processor)
1 1/2 c. sorghum flour- packed
1 c. brown rice flour
2 c. arrowroot flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Canola or coconut oil for cooking

In a large bowl, "proof" the yeast by whisk together the warm water, yeast, and agave. Allow the mixture to get puffy before adding the olive oil. While the yeast is proofing, whisk together the flours and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry combo to the wet and mix into a smooth dough (hands are great for this). Let it rise in the warmest place you can find for twenty minutes. While the dough is rising, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F along with a pizza stone and/or cast iron pan(s). These are the best for baking the bread, as they heat to very high temperatures for quick cooking. Once the dough is done rising and the oven is heated, knead the dough for another moment. Now you're ready for cooking the bread.

Remove the hot stone/pan(s) from the oven and spread with a thin smear of you choice cooking oil. Using your fingers, press a golf ball (or larger, if desired) sized ball of dough down about 1/8 inch thick. Fit as many as you can on the stone/pan(s) and bake 6-10 minutes (cast iron bakes quicker), then flip the breads. The soonest time to flip the breads is when the bottoms are a creamy tan color, but you can wait till they are a tanner brown color for a tougher/crispier bread. Cook the other side for another another 6-10 minutes, when there are a few browned spots. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

These breads are best eaten straight out of the oven. Serve with a Mediterranean spread (hummus!) or as a side with soup, salad, etc. The sky is the limit! If there are any leftovers (impossible, right?) best storing results are yielded when the breads are wrapped still warm in a towel and placed in an airtight container before being re-heated to eat.

Makes approximately 20 flat breads, depending on the size of your dough balls

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why I've dropped off the face of the (blog) earth

Hi everyone,

I have basically disappeared from the blog world for the that 2 weeks, not a picture, recipe, or eco-tip to be seen coming from me. I haven't completed the February Daring Baker's challenge. And I've hardly been able to be on the Internet much.

If you've ever heard of Destination Imagination (DI), I am in one of those groups, and our regional competition was last weekend*. We were challenged to design a robot to perform a task, and invent a skit about a characters life changed by robotic technology and to build all the scenery and provide the props. Everything is for kids, made by kids, with a coach on the side. If you've ever been in DI, or ever talked to a member of it, you'll know that the two weeks leading up to competition is a mad dash to get all the work completed. DI was the the reason that making Tiramisu, snapping a photo, creating a recipe, even baking, was near to impossible, as the second I arrived home everyday I dropped into a sleeping silence- exhausted from meetings with my group, my already busy schedule, and lack of sleep.

In addition to the DI competition, my birthday was last weekend (Well, no, I am a leap day baby- meaning my real birthday is in two years, but I can dream, right?) and I was looking forward to posting some GF vegan sugar-free oil-free birthday goodies (sorry, you missed out). Yes, I am officially fourteen! Well, Easter is right around the corner so I daresay that I will make up all my missed holidays with lots of chicken and bunny shaped treats!

So, readers- I will get the rust off my photography skills, and bake something in the kitchen with the new mini-muffin tins I received for my birthday (read: lots of mini-muffins and cupcakes are coming your way!)- I'm back!

*Just in case you're wondering, we made to the state level competition!

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