Monday, March 21, 2011

my new bread pans, and what I made with one of them


I recently came into a 25lb package of oats, so Annie and I went to the restaurant supply place to get a big, bug-proof container. There was a used section in the back of the shop with cute dishes and things, and some nice industrial bread pans. Annie saw me admiring the pans and encouraged me to get one even though I don't really have anywhere to put it and already have plenty of bread pans. I was persuaded, and got a set of three 4"x12" pans all strapped together to make them easy to move around as a unit.

soda bread and pan

We had a St Patrick's day party soon afterwards, so I decided to make a double recipe of Irish oatmeal bread instead of my usual soda bread, because I thought it would be the perfect size to fit into one of my three new pans. It did turn out just right, and I ended up with a long, skinny loaf. I normally only make one recipe of this at a time, as soda breads are best on the day they're baked (though they make excellent toast for a couple more days), so I'll give you the smaller recipe.

Oatmeal Bread

makes one 4"x8" loaf

200g steelcut oats
250ml homemade soy yogurt*, or milk of your choice soured with 1t vinegar
50g coarse whole wheat flour
210g all-purpose flour
1/2t each baking soda, salt
25g oleo

The night before you bake, mix the oats with the yogurt or soured milk, and let sit out on the counter soaking all night.

The next day, heat the oven to 425°F. Whisk the flours together with the soda and salt, and rub the oleo in with your fingers. Add the oat mixture, and stir together thoroughly. You may need to add a little liquid to get a nice, soft dough. Spread into your greased bread pan, cut a lengthwise slash down the center of the loaf, and bake for about an hour. Turn out of the pan and let cool.

*The boughten kind, with its tapioca starch and guar gum, isn't wet enough to work as well as the kind you make yourself, which has the consistency of buttermilk.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

creamy soup

squash soup and soba

I recently made some cream of broccoli soup to go with my chard tart, and I liked it well enough to use the same method for kabocha soup to go with some black sesame soba. This method can be easily modified to suit the vegetables you have around and want to use up, and flavored to suit the theme of your meal. For instance, I wanted my broccoli soup to taste sort of Mediterranean to go with the pine nuts and roasted peppers from the tart, so I added Aleppo pepper and a little ground cumin and coriander to the onion as it cooked. I wanted the squash soup to seem Japanese, so I added some shiro miso when I puréed the soup, and a handful of soaked wakame to the pan as it heated up post-puréeing. Here's a template you can modify according to your needs:

Creamy Veg Soup

makes 1 1/2 to 2 quarts

1/4 brown rice, overcooked in 1 1/2 C water*
2T hemp seed and 1/4C blanched almonds, soaked for several hours in 1C water
1T oil
1 smallish onion, chopped
optional spices
1 lb your chosen vegetable, prepared and cut up
salt, pepper
optional, a source of umami**

Sauteé the onion along with any spices you're using in a big soup pan with your oil. When it's turning golden add your vegetables and cook a little longer. Add the mushy brown rice, enough additional water to not-quite cover the vegetables, salt and pepper and nutritional yeast if you're using it, and cover and let simmer till the vegetables are soft.

If you want some bits of vegetable in your soup, pick out and hold in reserve a few of the most attractive pieces. Add the rest of the soup to your blender along with the hemp seeds and almonds and their soaking water. Blend thoroughly! If you don't have a really big blender you'll have to either do this in batches or use an immersion blender.

Once it's blended, pour it back into the pan and add anything (attractive vegetable bits, soaked seaweed pieces, etc.) that you wanted to remain whole. Bring back to a good temperature, then serve, adding any garnishes you think would be nice.

*You can cook it in your pressure cooker for 35 minutes, or in your fuzzy logic rice cooker on the porridge cycle

**I used 1T nutritional yeast with the broccoli soup, while the squash soup had the wakame, 2t of miso, and was garnished with fried mushroom slices.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

really good savory tart

chard tart

I had a bell pepper and some Swiss chard from my vegetable box that needed using up, so a few days ago I made this tart. It was so good that I wrote down the ingredients right after dinner so that I wouldn't forget how to make it in the future. It's holding up well in the refrigerator, too, making it a good choice for work lunches. You could easily vary the vegetables according to what you have around: caramelized onions, asparagus, squash--they'd all be good in place of the chard.

Chard Tart

225g flour
75ml each water, olive oil
1/2t each baking powder, salt
olive oil
1 smallish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard
salt, pepper
220g firm tofu
2T water
juice of half a lemon
1T each nutritional yeast, tapioca flour
1/2t each turmeric, black salt
1t dried marjoram
a red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and sliced into strips
a couple of handfuls (handsful?) of pine nuts

Heat oven to 350°. Mix crust ingredients together thoroughly, then let rest in the refrigerator while you get the rest of your tart's components ready.

For the veg, sauté the onion and garlic with some olive oil in a big, lidded frying pan while you get the chard ready. Cut the stems out of the leaves and slice thinly as if they were celery, and cut the leafy part into wider ribbons. When the onion's cooked to your liking, add the chard stem pieces and cook, stirring frequently, till they change color. Add a tablespoon or so of water to the pan, put the lid on, and let everything steam for a few minutes till the stems are nicely softened. Add the leaves, stir a little bit, then put the lid back on and cook for about five more minutes. When the chard seems done, take the lid off and let any remaining water cook off. Season with salt and pepper.

For the custard, whiz everything except the marjoram in your blender, then scrape into a little bowl and stir in the marjoram.

To assemble the tart, first roll the crust out and fit it into a 28cm tart pan (a slightly smaller pan would work, too, but I think you'd have to adjust things to make this fit into a bigger pan). Spread about 1/3 of the custard over the crust, then scatter the vegetable mixture evenly on top. Spread the remaining custard over the vegetables, being careful to get it all the way to the edge. Artfully arrange the pine nuts and pepper strips on top, then bake for about half an hour. Let rest about ten minutes before cutting into it. This is just as good at room temperature as hot from the oven.