Bread Baking Day! Banana Oat Bread, Yum!

The lovely Astrid of Pulchen’s Food Blog is this month’s hostess for Bread Baking Day number 9. She proposed the fabulous theme of oat breads for the month of April, and I was thrilled because I am a newbie bread baker, and only have one oat bread under my belt (and it wasn’t terribly successful…Mr. Fish referred to it as “tasting like bread for old people”. Thanks mon amour.) The round-up is still a few days away, so if you just can’t wait, go visit Susan over at Wild Yeast. She graciously hosted our event last month, and here is the round-up.

I had images of golden, steaming loaves of oaty-goodness coming out of the oven, and was scouting around for a hearty loaf to use for delicious sandwiches. Finding a few recipes that interested me, I just didn’t come across the recipe (that being said, I can’t wait for this months BBD round-up to see what delights the others baked up!).

I woke up early one weekend morn to make some banana bread for the Guppy and Mr. Fish for a sweet breakfast treat, and then it hit me: Banana Oat Bread! (Luckily Banana Oat Bread is rather soft and moist, so it didn’t hurt.)

This seemed like a brilliant breakfast bread filled with the sweet goodness of oats and bananas, and I looked through my (very small collection) of cookbooks and came up empty. Recipes for regular banana bread, yep. I also had the “old people” oat bread recipe from my previous attempt at oat bread domination. After searching the web for a good Vegan recipe, I realized that I’d just have to create my own! (mostly because I didn’t have a huge amount of time to devote to my quest of searching the net, I’m sure there are some good ‘ens out there…) This bread was very moist and delicious, it reminded me of a sort of pudding-bread. It had a dense crumb, intense banana flavour, and was even better the next morning! You could easily add chocolate chips or walnuts to make things even more fabulous…

Shellyfish’s Vegan Banana Oat Bread

  • 110g ap flour
  • 110g whole wheat flour
  • 90g rolled oats
  • 70g sugar
  • 70g xylitol
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 medium very ripe & well-mashed bananas
  • 60ml vegetable oil or melted non-hydrogenated vegan buttery spread
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (yeah, it’s a lot, you could use less- we’re big on vanilla, folks).
  • Non-dairy milk as needed
  • chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 350f/170c and get your pan ready!

Mix* the flax seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside. Sift together all the dry ingredients except the oats in a large bowl. Mix the banana-mash, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl, then add to the flax mixture. Blend well*, then add the dry ingredients in two or three small batches, and stir until just blended. Then fold in the oats and optional walnuts or chocolate chips.

Bake until your knife comes out clean (or smeary if you use the chocolate chips of course). For me this was about 45 minutes

*By mix, stir, etc, I mean with your big ‘ole trusty wooden spoon, kids.

Tofu Cheesecake Madness! It’s Daring Bakers Time Again!

Unleash your sweet-tooth for this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts For The Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O’Connor. I’m warning you now, this is not in any way a healthy-avid-yoga-runner-wholefoods-type recipe…but it was indeed very tasty, sticky, messy & gooey to make (which always hightens the fun-factor if you ask me).

This month’s lovely challenge hosts Elle from Feeding My Enthusasims and Deborah from Taste and Tell found we Daring Bakers a very decadent treat indeed (thank you for your time & effort, ladies!) Cheesecake is in itself quite an indulgence, but for this recipe it’s only the beginning! After you’ve baked your cheesecake you then freeze & form it into various shapes and give them lollipop sticks, then coat in chocolate and decorate! Wow! Holy calories, Batgirl! That being said, because they are individually sized, you can easily control your portions, so that’s a good thing. I guess. If you’re into that sort of thing…controlling cheesecake consumption I mean…

My favorite parts of this challenge were 1) completing the challenge with my super-cute mum who though battling a nasty nasty bout of illness played along and was available for planning consultations, official tasting & artistic direction (decorating) duty; and 2) the actual making of the tofu cheesecakes. I thought it was a blast! I totally admit to a heavy dose of finger-licking as well…see, these were indeed intended to be “pops”, but despite my best intentions (I visited two gourmet cooking shoppes & two super markets) I could not find anything that would work- I found popcicle sticks (too fat), super-thin straws (too flimsy), long, wooden sticks for cotton candy (too thick & long)… so I decided to turn this temporary set-back into a fun chance to use some new silicon molds that my mum brought me from the states! As a Daring Baker I was to follow certain guidelines, but using molds was ok’d by our hosts, so yeah for the molds! There were heart-shapes, disc-shapes, and flower-shapes, too!

Thing is, because there were no sticks to hold, I was hand-dipping them, which was a blast! Felt like a kid in the kitching doing something I could be scolded for! Another fun aspect of this month’s challenge was that a handful of the Daring Bakers Alternative Bakers got together to “chat” to exchange ideas & recipes & ideas, and that was a great chance to “meet” some new bakers & hear some ideas.

Here’s the recipe that I used (based on the tofu cheesecake recipe from The New Farm Cookbook (the original non-vegan Challenge recipe is at the bottom of this post if you want a peek!)

  • 3 1/2 cups firm tofu (rinse it, but don’t drain)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (I’ve used orange for orange cheese cake & it’s also good)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-2 table spoons vanilla or almond extract (or one of both if you’re really feeling crazy)

and for the chocolate coating:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan butter

I wiz everything in the blender or food processor till smooth (adding a little more juice if it’s a bit too stiff, normally it’s very smooth). If you were making a normal cheesecake, you just pour it into the crust & put it in the oven for about 50 minutes at 170c/335F. Because I opted for silicon molds this changed my normal baking time dramatically because the molds were of different shape & depth & made by different companies so the individual baking times varied from mold to mold (the shortest being 25mins, the longest 45). What I did then was to leave them in the moulds while they cooled (which I totally admit made my life easier than trying to scoop them out of a pan and shape them).

For the chocolate coating, I melted half the chocolate and 1 tbsp of vegan butter in the microwave and stirred well (so much work there). Then, carefully not burning my fingers on the chocolate I swirled the shapes in the chocolate. I found that even after being very cool from the fridge they were still really difficult to coat so I put them in the freezer & found that the colder they were, the easier they were to coat (less cold = thicker, goopier chocolate coating, whereas colder = pretty, thin layer). I also found that I had to sprinkle the decorations on right away after coating them or the chocolate hardened and they wouldn’t stick.

I’ll be honest- while the cheese cake was delicious, having it coated in chocolate just seemed too much for my family who seemed to just peel it off. It was, however, a very fun challenge, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Here’s the original recipe from Ms. O’Connor’s book:

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

à très bientôt, Pamma!

Hélas, my mum’s visit has come to a close. It was much more difficult for us to let her go this time, and the Guppy and I are still feeling rather blue (Mr. Fish may also be a bit out of sorts because Pamma was his partner in crime in the soda & pizza department…). We had a great time with her, and will hopefully work out a trip over to visit her this summer -actually, Guppy is convinced that we are going on a plane to fly and see Pamma and Grandpa this summer -and Auntie Tracy, and Auntie Amy, and Uncle Timmy…and she continues the long list of family members she hardly knows but who are much talked about), she tells me so multiple times a day!)

In other non-foodie news, I had to declare a forfeit on my half-marathon which was to be run Sunday last. It was a last-minute decision, and not one I felt at ease with, but I was struggling with a stomach issue, and decided it was better to deal with that in bed than in the medic’s tent. Still, I am disappointed (very), as I take my (non-professional athlete) training seriously, and peaked at 45-mile weeks plus cross training, which to me was an all-new high. I just need to find myself a new race and fast to take the edge off…

There will be plenty of Vegan-Foodie goodness coming very soon – promise! And now that I’m not off on a promenade or Napoléon sighting or chocolate buying adventure with Pamma & the Guppy, I’ll be back to blogging away…

This beautiful rose is for you Pamma. I love you! And the Guppy says “pintyhose”! (silly private joke)

Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread

Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread

I can’t believe that my mum’s annual visit is coming to a close, and she’ll be heading back to the states in a week. Many people live very far from the people they love, so I don’t want to start throwing streamers for a pity party here folks, and I am constantly thankful for the Internet and free International Long Distance, things that weren’t always available to me when I was so far from home (like when I was just a little 16-year-old non-French-speaking exchange student, lost in a rural village in the Loire Valley…), but her eminent departure does make me a bit sad…

I am however thrilled that since my marriage in 2004, my mum has come at least once a year for a visit in the Spring. One of her dreams was to visit France, and now her passport is beginning to look rather accustomed to travel! This year’s visit was a bit dampened by her being very, very sick for nearly two weeks, and that on her birthday to boot! We’d made reservations at a schmancy restaurant to take her out to celebrate (a restaurant which was willing to accommodate a vegan diner no less!), but she was so sick, she couldn’t even pretend to want to go. I could tell she wouldn’t be able to force down a birthday cake, but I wanted her special day to begin with something special, so enter Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread from Veganomicon!

The following is not the original recipe in VCON, I made a handful of adaptations, and the result was delicious (as is the unadulterated recipe in VCON of course!). Here is my altered version, which my mum just loved for her birthday breakfast- we even put a birthday candle on it! Here’s my changed-up version:

  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup veg. oil (it was actually a bit less, I maybe filled it 3/4 full)
  • 1/3 cup Xylitol (all-natural sugar-sub made from birch bark)
  • 1/3 cup raw/brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (reserve 2 tbs. to sprinkle on the bread & decorate plates)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbs orange water
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup whole frozen cranberries (they don’t have to be completely defrosted, just mostly)
  • 2/3 cups chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Sift together all the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet to dry, mixing until smooth. Fold in the cranberries, nuts & orange zest, and pour into a loaf pan & bake for about an hour at 325F/160C. Let it cool a bit, like 10-15 minutes, before trying to take it out of the pan.

We loved this bread, and since finding fresh cranberries is nearly impossible except in November here (my frozen ones were left over from Thanksgiving), I am going to try this with blueberries or blackberries.

Cookies for Monsieur Hotto

Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Raspberry

Not sure about you, but I really don’t need an excuse to bake cookies. My family loves cookies, and we love to eat cookies, so really, I need more reasons not to bake cookies…however…

Monsieur Hotto is an elderly neighbour that I met last fall when I saw him wrestling with his grocery bag in the cold (the bag was winning). I actually didn’t realize we were neighbors until I offered to help him home with his bag. He is just this adorable 83 year-old sweetheart – he’s got a quick wit and fabulous sense of humor, though he was recently widowed and sometimes seems a bit abandonded. I lived very far away from my grandfather (across the continent), and couldn’t be there to pick things up from the store for him or bring him little care packages of fresh-baked bread or homemade soup, but he had wonderful neighbours who did, and I am still so greatful to them. I really miss my grandpa, and so, one could say that there is something selfish in bringing my neighbor cookies or lemon bars (from Veganomicon, of course). I say, I’m happy to see him happy, and the Guppy loves to stop by and say hello and give him a kiss on the cheek and then laugh jokingly “oh! ça pique!” (hey! That’s prickly!). I like to check in on him and say hello, but I’m shy and need a bit of a reason to go visit. This is part of why I have really gotten into baking. If I make a batch of something, it’s far too much for my little family, so I just wrap up a portion for my cher voisin.

These are two of our favorites: Chocolate Raspberry cookies from Veganomicon and Classic Chocolate Chip from How It All Vegan.

The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies from HIAV are pretty much our standard cookie, but I had been itching to try the Chocolate Raspberry ones from VCON so this was my excuse. They are really amazing, and have quickly gained ‘favourite’ status in our home, but I found that I needed to make them much larger than the recipe suggested in order for them to be soft and chewy. When I made the first batch they rather came out like crunchy ginger-snap type things, which made my jaw hurt, and the Guppy didn’t even want to try to bite through one. I found that when I made them much bigger and thicker, though, they were fudgy-raspberry heaven.

So next time you’re baking something up, make a little extra for someone who might need a little vegan-love…

Also, please visit Endless Simmer to vote against Anthony Bourdain and vote for Hezbola Tofu (and check out all the creative & beautiful vegan make-overs of clueless Bourdain’s recipes) a rather arrogant and ignorant French chef who is giving French chefs & cuisine enthusiasts a very bad name. As a Franco-American who lives in France I would like to say that that thankfully the French are not as closed-minded as Monsieur Bourdain paints them to be. I have encountered here in France the same sorts of mixed-reception my herbivore lifestyle initiated in all the other countries I’ve ever lived in/visited.

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

Tempeh & Bulgur Salad

 

I have been so crazy-busy since my Mum got here that I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere of late… so I’m hoping to make up for my lack of posts with one of my favorite (and rather quick) recipes: Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery.

My omni-Mum has been rather enjoying all the delicious (hopefully) vegan offerings eaten here at the Fish household, but this has been one of her favourites by far. She wanted to be sure to have the recipe before she left, so I decided it was blog-worthy and will share this healthy and tasty composed salad with everyone!

I love the marriage of cilantro (with just about anything) and tempeh, and adding the nutty-flavoured quinoa makes it just perfect. I often make this dish with bulgur rather than quinoa, and sometimes too with left-over brown rice or kamut. It’s all good…

Tempeh and Bulgur with Celery

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

  • 1 cup bulgur (or quinoa or your favorite grain)
  • 2 cups water
  • oil for frying
  • 1 package of tempeh, cubed
  • 4 cloves crushed or finley minced garlic (or more)
  • 5 or more green onions (you can add more or less to taste, cut them on the diagonal, they look perdy like that, or just chop them up if you’re in a hurry)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 tbs agave syrup or rice syrup
  • 5 (or as many as you’d like) celery stalks, diced (the smaller, the better)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  1. Cook your grain of choice, here bulgur, and while it’s cooking dice up your veggies & tempeh. I usually start by frying up the tempeh. The original recipe I adapted calls for deep-frying it, which I don’t always do. Often I just cover the bottom of the pan with oil, then sauté the tempeh until it’s crispy and golden. Deep-frying does give it a great sort of “burn bacon”-like taste (which my mom loved).
  2. Let your tempeh drain on some paper towels while you sauté the garlic, onion and celery until the onions are bright green and the celery softens up just a tad. Add the soy sauce and your syrup and let things bubble up a bit, then add the tempeh and stir until well coated, and finally add your grain and fold until everything is coated with this delicious sweet-tasting sauce.
  3. Once you remove from heat (I usually pour it into a large salad bowl) fold in the parsley (or cilantro) and serve. You can also drizzle some lime or lemon juice if you’d like.

I like to serve this as a warm-cold salad, but in the summer (and when I’m organized enough) I make this ahead of time and chill in the fridge and it’s just as good.

We are all having a great time with my Mum, though sigh-seeing has been halted by her being slammed by a horrible cold/lung issue, but the Guppy is getting tons of snuggles and is just elated to have her “Pamma” here with her.

 

 

 

Tourte de pommes de terre à la crème de soja – or – Potato Tourte meets Pastie Pie

I’m going to begin with a little hi and thanks to all the wonderful Daring Bakers who have been so encouraging and supportive. My first challenge was, compared to the brillant and fabulous cakes made by my peers, like rose water to Chanel n°5, but everyone has been so sweet, and I have already learned much and am anticipating our next défi!

J’aimerais commencer avec un petit bonjour et un grand merci à tous les Daring Bakers pour leur soutien et pour tous les encouragements. Mon premier défi était loin d’être aussi beau que les gâteaux fait par les autres, le mien faisait genre eau de rose au lieu du Chanel n° 5, mais tout le monde était vraiment super sympa, et j’ai déjà appris beaucoup, donc j’ai hâte pour notre prochain challenge!

Going through some oft looked-over cookbooks gathering dust on the shelf, I began leafing through Tofu, Soja et compagnie, part of the Marabout Chef series of cookbooks. A well-meaning friend gave me this book about four years ago, probably because of seeing the”tofu” and “soja” in the title and thinking it would be something I would use. Well…kinda, because the book is not at all vegetarian or vegan, but rather has all sorts of recipes which do indeed use tofu and soy, but also cow and pig and fish. This would explain why I don’t often look through it.

Je triais mes livres de cuisine – ceux qui sont enrobés avec une bonne petite couche de poussière – et je me suis mis à feuilleter Tofu, Soja et compagnie (qui fait partie des livres “Marabout Chef”). Ce livre m’a été offert par un copain plein de bonnes intentions, qui, après avoir vu le “tofu” et le “soja” écrit en grand a cru bien faire. Et bien, le petit “hic” du livre pour moi et que ce n’est guère un livre de cuisine végétarien, au contraire, il n’y a qu’une petite poignée de recettes sans viande. Et donc voila pourquoi je ne m’en sers pas des masses!

pastiepie.jpg

That being said, there are a few recipes I have tried, and they have yielded some delicious results. The following is a recipe I have adapted quite a bit and it is just delicious (if I do say so myself). This tastes an awful lot like a Pastie, a dish a bit similar in idea to a calazone in shape & size. The flaky outer crust was meant to keep the inside nice and warm (for a pastie this often means meat, potato, carrot, turnip, etc). This was a very typical dish for miners, which is why you often find pasties in areas where there were mines that were exploited at the end of the 19th century – there were often large communites of European immigrants making pasties in hopes of having a warm meal in often sub-zero temps.) You’ll need a pastry crust – I used the Basic Single Pastry Crust recipe from Veganomicon because I love that one for quiches & tourtes, but I can’t make you use it. Well, maybe I could…

Ceci dit, il y a tout de même quelques recettes que j’ai déjà essayé, et je n’étais pas déçue. J’ai beaucoup changé la recette suivante, et je devrais avoué que c’est très, très bon. Il faudrait une pâte feuilletée – j’ai utilisé la Basic Single Pastry Crust de Veganomicon parce que je la trouve parfaite pour des quiches & tourtes, mais je ne peux pas vous forcer de faire la même chose…quoi que…

poivre.jpg

POTATO TOURTE (this really tastes a lot like a pastie, without the dead cow)

  • 150 cl soy yogurt
  • 150 cl soy milk
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 6 potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Pre-heat your oven to about 320°F
  • Line your tourte dish with about half of your crust. Add a layer potato slices, cover with salt & pepper and a dusting of parsley. Continue till you can’t any more!
  • Mix the yaourt, milk and nutmeg and gently pour over the potatoes.
  • Cover with the remaining crust and pinch the edges together. Cut a little hole in the middle to let the steam escape and pop it in the oven for about an hour or so.
  • Let this sit about 15 minutes before digging in!

TOURTE DE POMMES DE TERRE À LA CRÈME DE SOJA

  • 150 cl de yaourt de soja
  • 150 cl lait de soja
  • 1 ongion haché
  • 4 gousses d’ail écrasées
  • 6 à 8 pommes de terre à chair ferme
  • une bonne poignée de persil, ciselé
  • 2 à 3 c. à café de noix de muscade râpée
  • sel & poivre
  • Préchauffez le four à 160°C
  • Foncez une tourtière avec la moité de votre pâte. Placez-y les pommes de terre crues, découpées en fines rondelles. Saupoudrez avec un peu d’ongion, sel & poivre, et persil, puis recommencez (une couche, puis un autre…)
  • Mélanger le yaourt, le lait et les c. à café de muscade, verser ce mélange sur les pommes de terre.
  • Recouvrez le tout par la moité restante de votre pâte, et soudez les bords en pinçant avec vos doigts. Percer un petit trou au centre de la tourte.
  • Enfournez, faites cuire 60 minutes environ.
  • Laissez reposer aprox. 15 minutes avant de déguster! Bonne appétit!