Monday, September 30, 2019

Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread and Grilled Squash

It’s possible that I’ve never met a flatbread recipe I didn’t want to make. They’re too fun to ignore. Whether it’s tortillas, roti, yeasted flatbread or not, forming the breads and cooking them on a hot griddle never fails to make me happy. Today’s flatbread is from Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day of which I received a review copy. Made with coconut yogurt and turmeric, I couldn’t resist this one. At first, it reminded me of the Zanzibari Sesame Bread I made from The Food of Oman book. That flatbread was made with coconut milk, but it was yeasted. Here, it’s a quicker dough leavened with baking powder. But, before I tell you more about it, there’s a lot of other stuff in this new book I want to mention too. Right away, I tried the Spiced Chickpea Waffles. I had seen a version of falafel waffles in The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook last year and now had to try them. The version in this book is vegan and a bit lighter, and I liked the idea of topping them with olives and tomatoes. I served them first with a cucumber, olive, and tomato salad on top. Then, with extras that were stored in the freezer, I served them with sauteed sweet potato greens, slow-roasted tomatoes, fried eggs, and a pesto-yogurt sauce. I also tried the Miso-Glazed Aubergines which resulted in tender, sticky, spicy, delicious eggplant pieces. The book is full of flavorful, plant-based dishes with some English, Caribbean, and African influences. There are dishes for every meal and desserts and drinks as well. The Caribbean Jackfruit Fritters bring ocean flavor with nori flakes rather than fish. And, the Crispy Jerk Barbecue Tacos are made with oyster mushrooms. There are also pastas, curries, stews, and sweet treats like the Griddled Cinnamon Pineapples with Salted Caramel. For the dish shown here today, I mixed and matched. I took some of the elements of the Griddled Courgette and Pepper Salad with Rocket and Pine Nuts and put them on the Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread. 

So, let’s start with the flatbread. Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, self-rising flour, ground turmeric, baking powder, salt, and chopped garlic chives were mixed in a bowl. The dough was then kneaded until smooth and divided into pieces. I went for smaller breads, and divided my dough into six pieces rather than four as instructed. Each piece was flattened into a round with a rolling pin and then cooked on a hot griddle until puffed and browned. The Basil Cashew Spread was made with soaked, raw cashews. The drained cashews were placed in a blender with water, garlic, lemon juice, basil leaves, and salt and pepper. The mix was pureed until smooth. I grilled some sliced yellow squash and sweet peppers. Each flatbread was topped with a schmear of basil cashew spread, some grilled vegetables, and a few arugula leaves. 

The coconut milk yogurt made the flatbreads incredibly tender. They were easy to pick up and fold around the toppings. And, the pretty yellow tint from the turmeric was nice to see. They would be delicious with all sorts of toppings or fillings. I’ve been enjoying lots of vegan eats from this book, and there’s more I still want to try.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream with Granola

I love eating ice cream any time of year, but during a particularly hot summer like the one we’re having, it becomes necessary as a food source. And, yes, I could enjoy a meal of just ice cream. I received a review copy of Jude's: A celebration of ice cream in 100 recipes just in time for the hottest part of summer and got to enjoy reading about frozen treats and tasting some of them. I loved learning how this ice cream company began. The current owners are brothers, and their father began the business in 2002 in their barn in Hampshire, England. The business is named after their mother. From the beginning, the focus was on achieving the best flavor by using the best ingredients including milk from a nearby farm. Soon, their ice creams were chosen by chefs for restaurant menus, and they were sold across the UK in supermarkets. There are classic and intriguing flavors, dairy-free options, and frozen desserts, toppings, and cocktails. Some flavors that caught my eye include the Honey Fig and Thyme Ice Cream, Matcha Ice Cream and Black Sesame Brittle, and the Beetroot and Ginger Ice Cream. When I first flipped through the pages, I was sure my first stop in the book would be the Summer Peach Sorbet, but then I read a suggestion about topping scoops with their granola and became fixated on that instead. For more elaborate desserts, there are two roulades. One is the Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Roulade, and the other is the Vanilla Arctic Roll with Apricot Creme Fraiche Ice Cream. You’ll also find tarts, cakes, and brownies to go with ice cream and even Mini Caramel and Guinness Floats. But, I kept thinking about that granola. It’s made with buckwheat kernals, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and coconut. I thought it would be a good, crunchy counterpoint to the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream. Then, I couldn’t resist making the Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream too since it’s so easy. 

I started by making the granola, and the recipe is similar to my usual granola. This one is made with coconut oil and honey, and in addition to oats there are buckwheat kernals. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened coconut were also added along with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After baking until golden and crunchy and then cooling, dried cherries and raisins were to be added. I left them out to keep the mixture completely crunchy. And, I now intend to always add buckwheat kernals to any granola I make. For the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream, a little coconut milk was mixed with cornstarch to form a paste. Then, coconut milk was heated with coconut cream and maple syrup. The cornstarch paste and salt were added, and the mixture was stirred until thickened. It was then cooled and refrigerated overnight before being churned in an ice cream maker. I added a small splash of rum just before churning to prevent the ice cream from freezing too solidly. The Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream was a quick puree of frozen bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, and confectioners’ sugar. The mixture was transferred to a container to freeze, and needs to be left at room temperature for 15 minutes or so to soften a bit before scooping. 

I served a scoop of each ice cream in a dish with dried banana chips on the banana ice cream, and granola on the coconut ice cream. Now that I’m writing about them, I’m craving them both again. I have my ice cream machine’s canister in the freezer as I type and am about to leave to gather ingredients. I can’t go much longer with no ice cream in the house. 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Jude’s Ice Cream and Desserts. 

This vegan ice cream is so easy to create at home. It’s unexpectedly creamy, with a fresh coconut flavour that makes your mind instantly wander to tropical islands. We’ve used cornflour for extra smoothness and love serving it with toasted coconut flakes, which give nutty taste and texture, but if that’s not your thing, simply serve it straight up. 

SERVES 6 
MAKES 1 LITRE (1 3/4 PINTS) 

1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
300ml (1/2 pint) coconut cream 
175g (6oz) agave syrup (or honey, for a non-vegan option) 
1/4 teaspoon fine salt  
Handful of coconut flakes, toasted, to serve (optional) 

Combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk with the cornflour to make a paste. Gradually add a further 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Pour the remaining coconut milk into a saucepan over a low heat with the coconut cream and agave syrup. Bring slowly to a simmer, then stir in the cornflour paste and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan, cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or if you don’t have time, for at least 2 hours. 

Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn to a soft set following the manufacturer’s instructions, or until the blade stops. Spoon the soft ice cream into an airtight, freezer-proof container and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until firm. Remove from the freezer and allow the ice cream to soften for 5–10 minutes before scooping. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, if using.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Brioche

As a long-time fan of Martha Stewart, when she raves about a cookbook I pay attention. I noticed on Instagram that she had mentioned Baking at R├ępublique: Masterful Techniques and Recipes by Margarita Manzke a couple of times. Specifically, she mentioned baking the brioche from this book and how delicious it is. Naturally, upon receiving a review copy of the book, I had to try the brioche. There are chapters devoted to some of the basic recipes that are used for several types of baked goods. Brioche is the first, and after the master recipe for brioche dough, there are several examples of how to use it including Brioche Fruit Tarts, Brioche Bread Pudding, Cardamom Sticky Buns, and more. Other chapters offer master recipes for Pain au Lait, Croissants, Kouign Amanns, Pate Sucree, Pate Brisee, and Pate a Choux. And, there are delightfully decadent recipes for using all of those types of dough. Following those chapters are ones for Muffins and Scones, Cookies and Bars, Cakes, Custards Puddings and Cream, and Basic Components. The Chocolate-Hazelnut Paris-Brest, Creme Brulee Cheesecake Tarts, and Mini-Chocolate Bundt Cakes all nearly distracted me from my intent to make the brioche first. But, I stayed on track. Now, in the days prior to tackling the brioche recipe, my trusty stand mixer of about 18 years had started acting a little funny. It didn’t seem to like operating at the lowest speed, but it was working at all the higher speeds. I was sure I could get through the dough making for this recipe by avoiding the lowest speed and working with the weirdness. Onward I went with letting a pound of butter warm a bit out of the refrigerator, cracking nine eggs, and getting the milk and locally-milled flour ready to go. And, the mixing got off to an ok start, but as soon as the dough became a bit heavy with the flour my mixer just stopped working at any speed. I was completely offended. How could it do this to me after all these years? How did it know I had all these ingredients ready to be used for a big batch of sticky, messy dough that really, really would be best made with a mixer? I didn’t seriously consider throwing out all the butter and eggs for even a moment. Instead, I started devising a plan for mixing all that butter in by hand without getting the butter too warm from my hands. Did I mention this was a big batch of sticky, messy dough? My kneading method involved using a bench scraper in one hand while turning and kneading with the other hand. After a few turns, I scooped it all into a bowl and refrigerated it for a bit before repeating. I wasn’t at all sure that this would turn into any kind of edible bread, but I was going to bake whatever became of it. 

It wasn’t particularly helpful to be reminded by others that we didn’t always have mixers. There must have been a time when this dough was made by hand. After everything was mixed, more or less, the dough was left to rise for 30 minutes before being turned and left for another 30 minutes. After the second rise, it was refrigerated overnight. I really believe the slow, cold rise overnight saved the dough. It was a smoother, lovelier dough the next day. To make the loaves, the dough was divided into four pieces, two dough balls were placed in each of two loaf pans, and they were left to rise again for about an hour and a half. After being brushed with an egg wash, the loaves were baked until deeply browned. 

Amazingly, the result was outstanding. Tender, buttery loaves were delicious sliced and served with blueberry jam. I also made very thick-cut French toast inspired by the book. I still have the second loaf in the freezer awaiting an occasion for a savory French toast with slow-roasted tomatoes. My old mixer and I have since parted ways after learning that a repair was unlikely, and a newer model has taken its place in the kitchen. I have lots of recipes to try with it!

I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program. 
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