Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hearty Barley Soup OR Hearty Irish Stew

We celebrated the first day of spring today with a snow day for the kids.  We are still below zero here so I am still all about the soups and stews.  If you are having warmer weather and don't feel like soup, I don't want to hear about it.  This recipes makes use of a quick stock--all of the veggie trimmings stuck in a pressure cooker to make a tasty broth.  Using the onion skins helps give the stock a rich colour and flavour, so make sure everything is well-washed.  As noted below, you can use this recipe to make an Irish Stew should you be so inclined.  Two for the price of one!

- 3/4 cup pot barley
- water
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2.5 cup peeled potatoes cut in chunks
- 2 peeled carrots, halved and cut into thick slices
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mushroom soy sauce
- 2 tsp hoisin sauce
- 2 cups peas
- salt and pepper to taste

Quick Stock
- all trimmings from the veggies above (well washed), including onion skins
- 10 cups water
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 8-10 fresh thyme stems
- 1 tsp salt

1. Cook the barley: put rinsed barley in a pot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Bring to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 mins.  Drain before adding to the soup.
2. Make the Quick Stock: while the barley is cooking, put all of the stock ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook for 30 mins.  Pass through a strainer before adding to the soup.
3. Make the Soup: Heat the oil in a stockpot somewhere between med-lo to medium heat.  Sauté the onions and celery for 15 mins, or until they are a deep brown, stirring regularly.  Don't burn them, so watch your heat.  If they are not a nice brown colour, keep going for another 5 mins or so.
4. Add garlic and sauté for 1 min.  Add the spices and fry for 1 min.  Add potatoes and carrots and mix well.
5. Add the strained stock, cooked and drained barley, and the sauces.  Bring to bubbling over high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 mins, or until the veggies are tender.  Add peas and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

No real recipe here, but rather some suggestions of how to use this recipe as the base for an Irish Stew.  Reduce the barley to 1/4 cup, add another onion, and more potatoes and carrots.  Add some sage to the spices.  Add a protein source: tofu cubes, seitan chunks, possibly white kidney beans. Up the water to about 12-13 cups.  Add some beer to the mix.  Cook uncovered to reduce the stew down. Thicken the stew after the veggies are cooked by mixing flour in with some soy milk and adding to the stew.  Add a few tbsp of tomato paste for a richer sauce.

And make some soda bread!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chocolate Cake with Mocha Ganache and Frosting

Not much to say here other than this is a wonderfully moist chocolate cake with layers of rich ganache and topped with frosting.  I am eating the last piece right now as I blog.

- 227g cake flour
- 65g cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup chocolate soy milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla

Mocha Ganache
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
- 185g bittersweet vegan chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp margarine

- 300g bittersweet vegan chocolate chips
- 200g margarine (or a margarine/vegetable shortening mix)
- 150g icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 convection
1. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans.  Cut out two circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans.  Put the parchment papers in the bottom of the pans and grease it.  Flour both pans.
2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk chocolate soy milk and vinegar together.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to blend.
3. Add dry ingredients and gently whisk until blended.  Don't overdo it.
4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
5. Bake for 22-24 mins (convection), or 26-28 mins (non-convection), or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool on wire racks for 5 mins, then flip the pans over the remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper.  Cover the cakes with a damp towel and let them fully cool.

Mocha Ganache
1. Heat coconut milk and instant coffee to bubbling in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and margarine.  Stir until everything is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.

1. Get water barely simmering in a double boiler.  Add chocolate chips and margarine and stir until everything is melted.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10 mins, or until just barely warm.
2. Add vanilla and icing sugar and whisk until smooth.  As the icing sits, it will begin to get thicker.  Blend in soy milk until you get the consistency you like.  If you go overboard, you can always add more icing sugar.

1. Cut each cake horizontally into two pieces.
2. When it has cooled, spoon 1/3 of the ganache on top of the bottom layer and spread.  Top with the next layer of cake, then 1/3 of the ganache, then the next layer of cake, then the last 1/3 of the ganache, then the top layer of cake.  If the layers start to slide a bit, just take your time.  Place the cake in a cool place to firm up in between layers if you need to.  I like the ganache to be a little on the runny side so that it soaks into the cake.
3. When your layers are assembled and stable, ice the entire cake in a thin layer of frosting.  I like to do this after I have blended in the icing sugar in but before I add the soy milk.  Place in a cool place to firm up.
4. Ice the rest of the cake.  Top with grated chocolate if you want to.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mushroom and Barley Tourtière

Barley and mushrooms combine with warm spices and maple syrup to make a wonderfully delicious vegan version of a French Canadian classic.  Barley gives structure to the filling and complements the mushrooms' taste and texture.  You can make the filling the day before to let the flavours really blend together, and to save you some time on baking day.

Makes a 10" pie
- pie crust
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- pinch nutmeg
- 8 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used oyster, cremini, and portabello)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup red wine (or more vegetable stock)
- 2 cups cooked pot barley (cooked in vegetable broth is best)
- 1.5 cups diced potato, cooked for 3-5 mins, until slightly tender
- salt and papper to taste
- plain soy milk for brushing

1. Make your pastry, chill, etc.
2. Cook the barley according to the directions on the bag.  Generally, 1 cup of uncooked barley will yield almost 4 cups of cooked barley.  I like to have extra on hand to throw into soups and the like throughout the week.
3. Cook your potatoes while the barley is simmering.  Rinse with cold water and set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Sauté onions and celery for 5-7 mins, until softened.  Add garlic and spices and cook for 1 min more.
5. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, maple syrup and stock.  Mix well and cook for about 5 mins, stirring regularly, until mushrooms have released their water and have cooked down.
6. Add red wine and cook for 5 mins.  Add barley and potato and mix well.  Cook for another 5 mins or so, stirring very regularly.  The mixture should be moist but not soupy.  When you drag your stirring utensil along the bottom of the pot, liquid should not immediately fill the void.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust spices as needed.
8. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge to cool down.
9. Make the pie as per usual.  Brush the top crust with plain soy milk and place in the fridge.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  When oven is up to temperature, brush the top crust once more with soy milk.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Peas and Pasta Soup

This recipe (a spin on an Italian soup with peas and pancetta) is fairly simple in that it does not have a lot of ingredients, and so its success relies on making sure those ingredients are top quality.  Making your own veggie stock is ideal, and making your own pasta is essential unless you are lucky enough to live in a place that sells eggless fresh pasta.  The key to the pasta is making a firm dough and giving the noodles some time to dry before they go into the broth.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 cup finely chopped firm or extra firm tofu
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ketchup
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 onion, small dice
- 3 cups peas, frozen or fresh
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste

- 1 recipe fresh pasta, rolled out to #4, cut into wide strips

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat.  Add tofu and fry, stirring regularly, until golden brown on all sides.  Add salt, ketchup, and liquid smoke and mix well.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat margarine in a stock pot over medium heat.  Sauté onion for 5-7 mins, until softened.
3. Add peas, parsley, and stock.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Add pasta and tofu and cook until paste is tender.  Season to taste and serve.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cream of Tomato Soup

This soup is thick and rich and creamy and perfect for a soup and sandwich lunch on a cold winter's day.  It does take a little time to make, but the flavour and the texture that comes from reducing all the ingredients down is well worth the wait.

- 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes (or plum tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 stems of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup red lentils
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Make a tomato paste: Place chopped cherry tomatoes in a small saucepan.  Bring to bubbling over medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 mins, until thickened and tomatoes have broken down.  Mash with a spoon as they cook.
2. Use a spoon to push the tomato mixture through a fine sieve until just the skins and seeds are left behind.  It will yield about 3/4 cup.
3. While tomatoes are cooking, sauté onions with a large pinch of salt over medium heat in a large pot for 5-7 mins, until softened.  Add garlic, thyme, carrot, and lentils and sauté for 2 mins more.
4. Add stock, canned tomatoes (juice and all), and the cherry tomato paste.  Bring to bubbling over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 40 mins, or until liquid has reduced by a third and veggies are barely covered.  REMOVE THYME STEMS.
5. Blend with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender, until very smooth.  Return to heat and add coconut milk.  Mix well.  Heat through, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve.