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Archive for March, 2011

Sourdough Spelt Bread

Amongst making cupcakes, frosting and dried pineapple, I made another loaf of fresh yeast bread this weekend.

A couple weeks ago, I picked up a package of sourdough extract. This weekend, I finally gave it a try.

P3264495 I followed the recipe on the back of the package but substituted spelt flour for rye since I didn’t have any rye on hand and used fresh yeast rather than dried just because I like it better.

P3264497 The recipe was very easy to put together.

P3264498 Spelt flour, whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds, sourdough extract and salt.

P3264501 Crumbled fresh yeast and honey before adding water

P3264503 Just mix it all together and knead it in the bowl

P3264504 It took about 5 minutes of hands-on time before setting the dough aside for the first rise.

P326451845 minutes later, the dough had doubled in size and stretched apart.

P3264520  Here’s how it looked after 5 minutes of kneading. I set it aside for another 45 minute rise.

P3264535 After the second rise, I shaped the dough and put it into a lined bread pan then popped it in the oven for an hour.

P3264592 Fresh out of the oven, it smelled great but I was disappointed by how dense the bread was.

P3264599The bread had a good sour taste but was too salty for me.  

Although this bread tasted good, there are a few things I would do differently next time.

  1. I noticed that the dough looked quite dry but went ahead anyways. Next time, if I’m using dryer flours like spelt and whole wheat, I’ll add more water.
  2. To guarantee that the bread really rises to fill the bread pan, next time I will let the dough rise in the bread pan for another 45 minutes or so before baking.
  3. Although the recipe called for 2 Tbsp. of salt, I’ll reduce it to a scant 1 Tbsp.

Sourdough Spelt Bread

Adapted from Alnatura

For 1 loaf of bread

Ingredients

400 grams Spelt flour

250 grams whole wheat flour

1 block fresh yeast

1 package sourdough extract

1 Tablespoon honey

2 Tablespoons sea salt

100 grams sunflower seeds

400 mL warm water

Method

  1. Combine the yeast, honey and warm water in a bowl and stir to dissolve the yeast
  2. Stir together the flours, salt, sourdough extract and sunflower seeds. Make a well and add the yeast mixture. Stir the mixture and knead in the bowl to form a soft dough. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
  3. Knead the dough well, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.
  4. Line a bread pan with baking paper. Shape the dough and place it in the bread pan.
  5. Bake in a  preheated oven at 200 degree Celsius for 50-60 minutes. For a crunchy crust, place a dish of boiling water in the oven during the baking time.

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Although this wasn’t the best bread I’ve ever tasted, it made a good foundation for my lunch sandwich.

Included in the stack: smoked paprika baba ghanoush, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, tomato and avocado.

I would love to be a good bread baker but am still trying to find my feet. Any suggestions on how to improve?

 

 

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Although I’ve not mentioned it here, this year I have given up purchasing and cooking with (almost) all animal products for Lent.

I still use organic milk, but only a splash in my morning coffee. That’s it.

This absence of animal products explains the sudden influx of vegan recipes on the blog.

To be honest, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying new vegan recipes. I don’t necessarily miss anything, not even cheese, as the recipes have been so full of flavor on their own.

Giving up animal products created an interesting dilemma when it came to baking birthday cakes for my friend, Kate. I wanted to maintain the birthday baking tradition but didn’t want to sacrifice my commitments to either vegan baking or providing delicious treats.

Last year, I made Kate the most popular recipe on my blog, Lexie’s Healthy Carrot Cupcakes.

P3202810 Although these cupcakes are delicious and one of my favorites, they are made with eggs, butter and cream cheese.

Luckily, there are so many talented vegan bloggers that the search for a birthday cake replacement was easy.

First up, I visited my favorite vegan blogger, Angela, and her inspiring blog, ohsheglows.com.

I immediately decided to bake her Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes which I’d already saved on my Recipe Wish List.

P3264489 These cupcakes were so easy to throw together and they rose up gorgeously.

My new favorite chocolate cake, regardless of dietary standards! Do yourself a favor and please, go and try this recipe now!

Knowing that not everyone likes chocolate cake (gasp!) I was on the prowl for a vegan vanilla version and stumbled on a recipe for Vegan Vanilla Agave Cupcakes from the book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, reposted on happylittlevegans.com.

P3264494 This was another fast recipe that came together in a cinch but ultimately, I prefer the chocolate cake!

There was just enough batter left of both the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes to make two marbled cakes as well.

P3264492 These were the taste-test samples.:)

P3264586  Heck, yes!P3264589 After much frosting contemplation, I decided to combine the vegan frosting ideas from both here and here to create my own recipe below.

P3264533 Topping delicious, individual cakes with fluffy vanilla frosting might be enough for some, but not for me!

P3264560

Kate’s birthday provided the perfect excuse to try a technique I read about on another favorite blog, Annie’s Eats.

Several weeks ago, Annie wrote a beautiful post on How to make dried pineapple flowers.

P3264524I followed her guide exactly up until the very end.

P3264525 Rather than drying the pineapple then placing the slices in the muffin tin to harden over night, I went ahead and put the dried slices in the muffin tin then tossed them back in the oven to continue to dry while forming the flower shape.

P3264529  P3264545  Oh so delicate and feminine!

P3264555

The vanilla cupcakes were topped with pineapple flowers, but the chocolate cupcakes received the strawberry treatment.

P3264566 Strawberries always add that gorgeous pop of color!

P3264574 The frosting recipe made enough to top 24 cupcakes and three snackable strawberries.

P3264536 Yummy!

P3264611 After a day of creating, the cupcakes were all packed up and ready to go!

We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Maya. Although the food wasn’t very authentic, it was still good. The service, however, was dreadful. Oh well, at least we were with good friends, celebrating the life of a wonderful person and had cakes to eat!

Life is good.

P3264566

We had good fun dancing the night away before coming home very late. Losing an hour with the time change didn’t help much either! Good fun was had by all!

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough frosting to top 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup vegan margarine, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2- 2 Tablespoons soy creamer

Method

  1. Beat the margarine using an electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt then beat for 3 minutes more.
  3. Pour in the vanilla and creamer then beat for another 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  4. Pipe or spread the frosting on to your cakes as desired.

P3264609 If you’d like to try any of the other recipes or techniques, please visit these sites.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes.

Vegan Vanilla Agave Cupcakes 

How to make dried pineapple flowers.

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After tasting six new, delicious Persian dishes at the cooking class last night, my mind and taste buds were still hypnotized by the first bite of the night, Spring Greens Yoghurt Soup.

P3264509

Looking at the recipe, I wasn’t expecting much, but this soup packs a powerful, refreshing punch.

Served warm, this is the kind of soup that makes you slow down while you’re eating to take in the interesting combination of flavors.

P3264514

Spring Green Yoghurt Soup

4 servings

Ingredients

2 bunches spring onions

5 Tbsp. butter

1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) fresh spinach

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch dill

1 bunch mint

1 bunch cilantro

150 grams (5.3 oz.) finely chopped walnuts

1 liter ( 4 1/4 cups) vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

800 grams (about 3.5-4 cups?) plain yoghurt, room temperature

1-2 Tbsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Method

  1. Wash, dry and cut the spring onions into rings then cook them over medium heat in a large pan with melted butter.
  2. Wash the spinach and herbs then chop roughly. Add the spinach, herbs and walnuts to the pan with the onions. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring to wilt the greens.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and flavor with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. (If the soup is too hot, it could curdle the yogurt.) Once the soup has cooled slightly, add the yogurt and nutmeg. Stir gently to combine and serve.

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Sorry for the recent absence. The telephone line to my apartment building was cut during construction on Monday and the entire building has been without telephone or internet until today.

It is shocking that it took an entire work week to fix the problem, especially since there are so many single, elderly people living in my building who could require emergency services yet wouldn’t have been able to call for help.

Any who… onward and upward towards the weekend!

It has been a gorgeous week in Bonn. Many of my lessons have been taught outdoors this week and my mood has been made lighter and brighter from the sunshine.

On Tuesday, Sebastian and I continued our homemade pizza tradition. He made a spinach, mushroom, onion, tomato and mozzarella cheese pizza. I went with something a little more rustic.

P3224412 This vegan pizza tasted so fresh with the addition of kale, leeks and mushrooms.

P3224416 The last of my almond herb cheese was used to top this gorgeous pizza.

P3224406 The dough was easy- thawed and re-risen fresh yeast pizza dough from the freezer.

P3224405 I sautéed the mushrooms and leek in a little olive oil before adding it to the pizza. In total, the pizza had kale, leeks, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and the vegan cheese.

P3224414 Beautiful, nutritious and delicious to boot.

Tonight I’m off to an Oriental cooking class with the woman who had the role of my mother in the last play I acted in.

She just returned from an extended trip in India so I can’t wait to hear about that as well!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!

Happy Weekend!

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Yesterday was the Open Day at my school. Everything went well; I had about 7 kids come through to participate in the lesson and activities and many families came through to watch, look around the room and ask questions.

Although going to work on a Saturday is never desirable, it was good for one thing, it got me up and going much earlier than a usual Saturday. By noon, I was home and ready to get on with the day.

I made a quick lunch of guacamole and an English muffin with vegan almond herbed cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes.

P3194305 Lunch was light and fresh.

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After lunch I laid down for a no-nap rest for about 20 minutes before going to the grocery store. The local store is closed for a week to renovate so I took the opportunity to go to the shop 1 town over.

Even though I went shopping, I wanted to use the grocery store closing as a motivation to be a bit more self-reliant so decided to bake my own bread.

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I based my recipe off of a recipe found on the King Arthur website. I love King Arthur Flour products and their website it so informative. If only they would venture into Europe…

P3194313 This hearty bread was made with whole wheat flour, olive oil, ground flax, sunflower seeds, fresh yeast, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, salt, water and golden syrup (a liquid sweetener similar to molasses.)

P3194314 The dry ingredients.

P3194317 About 3/4 of a block of fresh yeast, crumbled. I dissolved the yeast into the water before combining with the golden syrup and olive oil.P3194321 Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until a shaggy dough forms. I used the dough attachment to my hand mixer.

P3194322Let the dough rest for 20 minutes before kneading it.

P3194331P3194334  Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth. Be careful not to use too much extra flour while kneading or else the bread will be too dense and tough.

P3194336 Set the dough in a warm place for 2 hours to rise.

P3194364After the first rise is over, shape the dough into a log then place it into a lightly oiled bread pan. Allow the dough to rise for another 2 hours before baking the bread. 

P3204369

Fresh bread with soy butter and watercress for breakfast.

P3204365 

I started making the dough around 4:00, kneaded the first rise at 6:30 and had planned on baking the bread after the second rise at 8:30.

Life got in the way and I went out for dinner and drinks with my friends rather than staying home, baking bread.

Fast forward to 2:00 am.

I arrived home to my much rested and risen whole wheat nut and seed bread.

By 2:45 my apartment smelled like an early morning bakery and the bread was finished baking.

Patiently, I waited for the bread to rest and slightly cool before chomping into it at 3:00 am.

Although the long rise may have prevented the bread from puffing up as much as I had hoped, coming home to freshly baked bread before bead sure makes for sweet dreams…

P3204376

Whole Wheat Nut and Seed Bread

Based on a recipe by King Arthur Flour

Yields 1 loaf

  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. golden syrup (or honey, maple syrup, molasses)
  • 4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 block fresh yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast)

Method

  1. Combine the flour, seeds, nuts and wheat gluten in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve the fresh yeast into the water then add in the golden syrup and olive oil.
  2. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes, then knead till fairly smooth.
  3. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in size.
  4. Gently deflate the dough, shape it into a log, and place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" bread pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, till it’s crowned about 1" to 2" over the rim of the pan.
  5. Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

and Happy Birthday to my cousin, Ahnamarie!

I kicked off the day with a green smoothie in honor of St. Patty.

P3174286 Almond milk, frozen banana, vanilla protein powder, 2 handfuls lamb’s lettuce and about 10 mint leaves.

This was no Shamrock Shake, but it was a heck of a lot healthier and still creamy and minty.

This Saturday is Open Day at my school. The community is invited to visit the school and partake in educational activities, games and projects. Although I love showing my classroom off, getting the place in tip-top shape has been keeping me and my awesome assistant busy.

My midmorning snack tasted like a creamsicle.

P3164275 Vanilla soy yogurt and a clementine.

Fellow bloggers are simply awesome, I’m so thankful for everyone out there who freely shares their knowledge and recipes. I have learned so much from other bloggers and can not thank you enough!

That being said, here’s another delicious recipe from my recipe wish list. I enjoyed this dish for dinner last night and lunch today.

P3174287 The inspiration for this recipe came from Vaishali over at Holy Cow! Vegan. I adapted the spices to fit my pantry and taste, and WOW this was so fast and so delicious!

P3174291 

Easy Mushroom-Spinach Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  • 1 pinch fenugreek seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 8 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, ginger and chili and sauté on medium heat until the onions begin to brown. Add the spices, stirring to evenly coat the onions.
  2. Add the mushrooms, stir until they start to soften. Fold in the spinach until well mixed.
    Add 1/4 cup of water and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the salt and coconut milk,season to taste. Stir thoroughly and take off the heat.

Thanks to this awesome recipe, I was fueled through all afternoon. After school, I tutored, went to the gym and bought groceries before coming home.

I hope you are all having a fun and festive St. Patrick’s Day!

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I’m sure all my friends and family back in the Midwest are going “Huh?” and “yuck!” over that title.

Well get ready to change that “yuck” into a “yum!”

When we returned from our trip to Vienna, we were out of everything- even milk. Being out of milk is a dreadful thing when you love coffee as much as we do.

As a substitute, I made homemade almond milk following this recipe.

P3154260 This is the creamiest, smoothest homemade milk I have ever made.

As a byproduct of the almond milk production, I was left with gorgeous, snow white almond grounds which strongly resembled ricotta cheese.

The lights flipped on.

Vegan cheese for pizza night!

 P3154266

Fresh out of the oven (and into poor lighting.)

This week, my fresh yeast pizza dough was topped with roasted eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes. 

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Not only did this cheese substitute make a delicious pizza topping, it was equally awesome raw on my lunch salad today.

P3164277 Lamb’s lettuce, cherry tomatoes, roasted eggplant and mushrooms with vegan almond herbed cheese.

P3164278

Vegan Almond Herbed Cheese

Adapted from this recipe

  • about 1 1/4 cups almond grounds (leftover from making almond milk)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • juice from 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water, added a little at a time

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender adding a little water at a time until the mixture resembles crumbled goat cheese.
  2. Use the vegan cheese to top pizzas, salads, as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip.

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