Friday, July 31, 2009

Hello, my name is ____ and I'm a carboholic

I love bread. Always have and always will. There's absolutely nothing better than a fresh loaf of bread.

Above is one of two loaves I baked today. Sure, the crumb isn't all full of large irregular holes, but it does have the perfect "custard" crumb (see the shiny large hole to the left) and it's not as crusty as I would have liked (I was sort of rushing during shaping and baking) but it was delicious.

Since I had two loaves (shaped as boules), beautiful tomatoes & lettuce from my CSA and a package of Smart Bacon that I had forgotten about in the back of the fridge, tonight's dinner was vegan BLTs! The other loaf I'm saving for tomorrow to eat with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and a splash of balsamic. Simple and delicious.

Vegan BLTs

Basic artisan breads are almost always vegan since they are only supposed to contain flour, yeast, water and salt. Totally vegan soft sandwich breads are a little harder to find since they have all sorts of hidden ingredients that aren't vegan friendly or ingredients that are hard to tell whether it's from plant sources (e.g., mono and diglycerides). Even though they are harder to find, you can still find them but usually they aren't that cheap. Artisan breads? We're talking anywhere between $2 to $5 a loaf. Forget that!

Anyway, I stopped buying both types of bread ages ago because I couldn't justify spending the money on something I could make for a fraction of the cost. I have a lovely bread machine that I use to make soft sandwich bread weekly (a half whole wheat "buttermilk" loaf). It was a gift from my sister several years ago and I still use it to this day. As for the artisan loaves, I make them by hand. I've been experimenting with a few different recipes and techniques with delicious results. I started with the No Knead one but have graduated from that and now make bread using a combination of recipes and techniques from two great books: Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day and The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

If you bake bread or want to try, get both books. If you are a cookbook whore (looking at you Lisa!) or only like reading about bread, then get The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Bread making is a lot of fun and for most artisan breads, you really just need flour, water, salt and yeast. Forgot spending so much money on artisan loaves and give it a try. :)

Oh, the beautiful vegan plate was purchased from Jeanette Zeis of Vegan Dish. Beautiful beautiful stuff!

P.S. Bonus pic: Mr. Marbles.

Mr. Marbles

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Family Bonus Pics

Ms. Shou Bidou and Shadow.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grilled Tofu & Vegetables

Grilled tofu with roasted broccoli & zucchini and a side of roasted red new potatoes.

The tofu was marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, braggs and Bryanna's broth powder and then grilled on my fancy George Foreman grill. I love that grill!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Is this thing still on?

I can't believe it's been six months since I posted something. Time sure flies and apologies to anyone who posted comments but never got a reply from me. We've been super busy with life the past six months and recently relocated to the city of brotherly love.

On to the food. I spent yesterday trying to perfect seitan so that the texture is super soft and a little flakey and layered (if that made sense). Basically I am trying to mimic the seitan that is custom made for Horizons. I have had seitan very close to that before and it was the raw seitan sold in bulk at Essence of Life in Toronto (in Kensington Market). Super soft & tender texture when cooked but not spongey at all. I make seitan all the time with different textures for sandwiches, cutlets, etc., but nothing even close to that texture.

Attempt #1. Whole wheat flour & bread flour kneaded, rested and rinsed (and rinsed, and rinsed) and then, flattened and stretched with a bit of oil into irregular pieces and then slow baked in a broth made from water, soy sauce, bragg's and minced garlic. Texture was better than using vital wheat gluten but not even close to how I wanted it.

Oh well, I had to cook it up anyway so I marinated it in olive oil, salt, pepper, spanish paprika, onion & garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne, soy sauce, braggs and sugar for an hour or so. Then it was panfried and glazed with the reduced marinade and served on top of Israeli couscous pilaf with a side of asparagus. Even though it wasn't the texture I wanted, dinner was still delicous!

Stay tuned for more adventures in seitan making. In the meantime, here's a bonus Shadow pic from March.

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