Wednesday, October 18, 2017

One-Bowl Vanilla Cake

The Engineer had a birthday recently, and he asked me for a marzipan cake. I didn’t have any recipes handy, so I searched online and made this cake with this frosting. It was good, but I was a bit disappointed because I found the cake very oily (and the pans should have been floured), while the consistency of the frosting was a bit uneven. So instead, I’m going to share another cake recipe, one that I know works to my satisfaction. It’s a simple one-bowl vanilla cake that you can make in either a 9”x13” pan or two 9”-round pans. I made it as a sheet cake with about 200 grams of white whole wheat flour and 160 grams of all-purpose white flour (because I didn’t have much left in either bag); for a special occasion like a birthday, I’d make it with cake flour and frost it, obviously, but this way it was almost like a busy-day cake. Note that you could also use melted and cooled butter or margarine instead of the vegetable oil.

3 cups cake or all-purpose or white whole wheat flour (see above)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil (or ½ cup applesauce + ¼ cup oil)
1 cup lactose-free milk or milk alternative
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 °F. Line the bottoms of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper rounds. (Alternatively, you can use one 9x13-inch baking pan; no need to line with parchment.) Coat with cooking spray; set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla extract and mix with an electric hand mixer (I used a stand mixer) on medium speed until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. If mixing by hand, beat for about 3 minutes until smooth (some lumps are okay).

Divide the batter between the 2 round pans or pour all of it into the 9x13-inch pan. Bake until lightly browned and the top of the cake springs back when tapped gingerly, 25 to 30 minutes for the 2 round cakes, or 40 to 50 minutes for the 9x13-inch pan.

Remove from the round cake pans. (No need to remove the 9x13-inch cake from the pan.) Cool completely before frosting, if desired.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Breakfast Pizza

You might be wondering what breakfast pizza is. Is it pizza you eat for breakfast? Well, possibly, but in this case it’s more like pizza with breakfast-themed toppings. Apparently, it’s a regional specialty of the Midwest, but I’d never heard of it – I got the recipe from The Kitchn. It seems like a long recipe, but I took a few shortcuts: I made the cheese sauce and scrambled eggs ahead of time, and I bought premade dough and cooked sausage crumbles, because I am all about what makes my life easier. You could also leave out the hash browns or use only one kind of cheese if you want, or swap ingredients with what you have on hand (like bacon or roasted potatoes, why not). The quantities below are for two pizzas, because again, leftovers make my life easier, although I baked them fresh on two consecutive nights after prepping once. (I found that there was enough cheese sauce for both pizzas as written, but I doubled the other quantities.) We all enjoyed this one!

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
1 cup shredded lactose-free cheddar cheese, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste (I added pepper)
16 oz. uncooked breakfast sausage, casings removed (or precooked sausage crumbles)
8 large eggs
2 lbs. pizza dough
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese substitute (I used Daiya)
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 °F. Place a pizza stone in the oven. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can always use a baking sheet; if you don’t have a pizza peel, though, I’d recommend lining a baking sheet with parchment paper and keeping it ready on the counter.)

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the butter-flour mixture loses its sheen, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the rest of the toppings.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. While the sausage cooks, whisk together the eggs with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the sausage's fat in the pan and pour in the egg mixture. Scramble the eggs until almost cooked through but still moist, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough out into two 12-inch rounds. Working with one pizza at a time, transfer the dough to a parchment-lined pizza peel (or the prepped baking sheet on your counter). Use the tines of a fork to dock (poke holes in) the pizza dough, working from the middle out to within 1 inch of the edge. (This will prevent the dough from getting soggy from the steaming cheese sauce.)

Spread on the cheese sauce in a thin, even layer as you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle the sausage onto the cheese sauce, followed by the hash browns, and finally the scrambled eggs. Sprinkle the pizza with the mozzarella cheese, remaining cheddar cheese, and scallions, splitting it evenly between both pizzas.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the pizza cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving (you can bake the second one during this time if you’ll be eating it that night; otherwise I prefer keeping the ingredients in the fridge and making it the second night).

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Overnight Coconut French Toast

I made this overnight coconut French toast, with chocolate syrup, and it was a hit. I mean, seriously, it’s hard to miss with chocolate syrup, right? I used a knotted challah to make this, so the slices look like clouds and I really love the effect (but I’d consider a larger dish so that I don’t have to stack as many). I’d recommend challah or brioche, but thick sandwich bread will work, too. This is great as a weekend treat!

For the French toast
8 small slices brioche, about ½ inch thick
3 eggs
¾ cup coconut milk
½ cup lactose-free milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
coconut flakes (optional; I did without)

For the sauce
3 oz. (60 g.) dark chocolate
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Lay the brioche in a greased baking dish, in whatever way takes your fancy.

Whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, milk, vanilla, and salt, and pour evenly over the brioche. Wrap tightly in plastic and place in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven on at 350 °F. Unwrap the French toast, scatter with coconut (if using), and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed and golden, with no liquid in the center.

While the French toast is baking, melt together the ingredients for the chocolate sauce in a small pan over a low heat.

Serve the coconut French toast hot, drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Batch of links

- What it’s like to be a professional chocolate taster. I’d love that job, but I think I’d run out of adjectives. I could always order some of that taster’s favorite chocolate, though…

- A first-hand account of someone trying the Whole30. I think it’s the kind of thing I’d be curious to try, provided I had all my household on board and ideally someone to meal prep for me… (More information about the Whole30 here and resources here, in case you’re not familiar with the concept.)

- A “smarter” way to slice an avocado. I guess If I’m not going to use all of it, I should give this a try, even though it feels really wrong!

- And an easy hack for getting longer strands of spaghetti squash.

- What size is a small onion? This is surprisingly useful, given the range of sizes available!

- Stores try junk-food-free, healthy checkout lanes. Yes, please!

- Someone donated a 46-year-old can of soup to a food bank. Good grief!

- There’s a vegan, allergen-free bakery in Norwalk, CT, called Izzi B’s. This makes me wish there were some kind of central database where you could look up such bakeries by zip code or see a map of the country, for those summer roadtrips (in our case).

- A study shows that vegetarian (not vegan) and “healthy” diets based on USDA guidelines could actually be worse for the environment than eating meat. More info here.

- Desperation pies are making a comeback, and I have to admit I’d love to taste that vinegar pie.

- Behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens. Also, top chefs recall dinner gone wrong.

- 10 food science lessons worth learning.

- Will increasing the oven temperature give muffins a more domed top? The verdict here.

- The difference between broccoli, broccolini, broccoli rabe and Chinese broccoli.

- An article about Trejo’s Tacos, because I just love picturing Danny Trejo making vegan tacos. (For more vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, see here.)

- Have you heard of vegan butcher shops? I saw this video about the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, and there’s also Gusta in Montreal.

- The truth about the food movement, which might actually be much smaller than we think.

- This woman gave birth in Japan and photographed hospital food for the duration of her stay. I have to say I ate pretty well at my hospital, but this is something else! (As always, the most depressing was reading the comments, about what people had during their own hospital stay.)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Miso-Turmeric Dressing

I don’t have any good pictures of this, but I just have to share the recipe. This miso-turmeric dressing was fantastic! I used it on an improvised salade niçoise composée, then used leftovers on anything I could. The flavor was bright (as was the color!), and it seemed to complement everything. I highly recommend it!

⅓ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)
2 Tbsp. finely grated carrot
2 Tbsp. white miso
1 Tbsp. finely grated peeled ginger
2 tsp. finely grated peeled turmeric or ½ tsp. ground turmeric (I used ground)
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Using an immersion blender (at least, that’s what I did), blend together vinegar, mirin, vegetable oil, carrot, miso, ginger, turmeric, and sesame oil. The dressing will keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rhubarb Sorbet

When we got back to San Antonio, I was lucky enough to buy a handful of large rhubarb stalks from the second harvest. These were bright pink, and I put them to good use! The first thing I made was rhubarb sorbet. I had read the recipe and saw that it called for a little corn syrup, to prevent the sorbet from being too hard. But I’ve been burned before, in the sense that I often find sorbets and vegan ice creams too hard, even in the case of popsicles (as had been the case, last summer, with coconut rhubarb popsicles and piña colada popsicles that I ended up never posting about). So I decided to add a bit of vodka that I had sitting around in the freezer, reduced the amount of water and opted not to strain the sorbet, and when eaten straight from the freezer, the consistency was absolutely perfect for my taste! I thought it was a bit heavy on the ginger, to the point that it masked the rhubarb taste, so I’d use less next time. It was really good, though, very refreshing, and it had a gorgeous pink color! The quantities below are mine, based on how much rhubarb I had available.

2 heaping cups of chopped fresh rhubarb stalks (4-5 stalks, ideally pink; I had 9.8 oz.)
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. of orange zest
1 tsp. of chopped fresh ginger (I’d use less next time)
1 pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. of corn syrup
2 Tbsp. of vodka

Put the chopped rhubarb, water, sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt into a 3 to 4-quart pot. Heat on high heat to bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low to simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is falling apart tender.

Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Either use an immersion blender or work in batches with a standing blender to purée the mixture until smooth. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any of the stringy pulp (I didn’t do this, but my pulp was not stringy to begin with). Stir in the corn syrup and vodka.

Cover and refrigerate until totally chilled, several hours or overnight.

Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Talenti's Peanut Butter Fudge Sorbetto

I recently tasted Talenti’s vegan peanut butter fudge sorbetto (they also have vividly colored raspberry and mango flavors, but I only bought one flavor this time; I see on their website that there’s also a blood orange flavor, and I’d definitely try that!). The first ingredient is water, but according to Refinery 29, the contents are almost 30% peanut butter! It turns out that there is actually no milk substitute – just the peanut butter, coconut oil, sweeteners (sugar, dextrose, and corn syrup), and various gums. And not only is it delicious, but the consistency is perfect! It has a rich, creamy texture, and the streak of fudge in there is a great contrast. I love this flavor! It’s sure to please non-vegans, too.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Batch of links

- A teacher has come up with an experiment to illustrate the importance of washing one’s hands. I might have to try that with the Little Prince!

- The unlikely return of Cat Stevens left me humming Wild World for a week.

- Somewhat related: objective proof that pop music has deteriorated, and the reason why it happened.

- British and Irish aristocrats are renting out their castles on AirBnB. One or two of them are definitely calling my name!

- It turns out that Brontosaurus might still be a species after all, so I can stop saying Apatosaurus every time I encounter one in my son’s books and toys.

- Why you can’t trust yourself to match photos of strangers’ faces – and why one should refrain from “identifying” and doxxing people photographed at protests.

- This article was written two years ago, but is sadly just as relevant today: Stop talking about gun control – enforce it. And here’s one from this week, which deconstructs the two main arguments for gun ownership (self-defense and as a bulwark against tyranny). And, you know, just yesterday, this happened. So hopefully this time the government can at least pass legislation banning bump stocks, since it looks like even the NRA is on board this time.

- An ICU chaplain has devised a way for patients to request spiritual care when they can’t talk.

- Here’s an article about the TSA’s Instagram account, which shows pictures of confiscated items and answers hilarious “Can I bring that?” questions directed to @AskTSA on Twitter.

- We still don’t have an Ikea in San Antonio, so I was thrilled to hear that Ikea will start selling its products on Amazon in 2018!

- The tail end made me sad.

- But the secret to Dr. Seuss’s made-up words will make you smile again.

- The future is here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Truffled Corn Soup

Even though it still certainly feels like summer over here, it’s not peak corn season anymore. No matter, because I did get to make this truffled corn soup (and also enjoyed more of summer’s bounty in the form of heirloom tomatoes with homemade, lactose-free ricotta and herbs). I had actually bought the truffle salt for this last year, and in a freak coincidence, the Engineer decided to make corn chowder because that’s where he was at in his book at the time. I didn’t want to follow up corn chowder with corn soup, and then I was reluctant to buy past-peak-season corn, so I put it off. Luckily, truffle salt keeps indefinitely, and a little goes a long way, so I still had plenty on hand to make his last month!

The recipe, as is written, serves 4 because it calls for you to filter out all the pulp and solids. I tried one bowl that way, and while it’s true that it was really good, I didn’t want to waste most what was in the pot, so I just ate the rest as it was (that probably serves 6). The strained soup could be served chilled, but I liked the heartier version warm. Both are pictured (the strained version in the round bowl, the heartier one in the square bowl). I really liked this soup and would absolutely make it again, even without the truffle salt. Maybe some roasted pepitas on top would be a nice touch? Or a topping like this one.

8 medium fresh ears of corn, husks removed
7 cups water
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
1 medium shallot, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
truffle salt

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside. Place the cobs in a stockpot or Dutch oven and add the water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the corn kernels, a couple of big pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Remove the corn cobs from the stockpot and add the corn mixture to the broth. Bring to a boil, then cover again and simmer 25 minutes.

Purée the soup, working in batches if necessary, in a blender until completely smooth (alternatively, blend directly in the pot with an immersion blender). Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.

Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer in a clean pot or large bowl, pressing on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids (see note above). Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to serve cold. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of chives and truffle salt before serving.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Batch of links

- Watch these food videos inspired by legendary directors and have a laugh!

- Which Bonne Maman flavor is the best? Bon Appétit ranked them, though I don’t see their chestnut spread in there… I’ll have to try some of them to see where I stand!

- Also in Bon Appétit: you can totally master crudo at home.

- We’ve been pouring juice the wrong way this whole time. (I object to the term “your whole life” used in the article, because I clearly remember the time before plastic pouring spouts became ubiquitous!)

- Halo Top announces their first non-dairy flavors, and I might have to try them all! Seriously, did you realize that Halo Top now outsells Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s? And that was before their crazy ad!

- A study suggest that you shouldn’t eat gluten-free unless you actually have celiac disease (or are gluten-sensitive, presumably). No surprise there. The study focused mostly on people who eat refined grains instead of whole grains, though, but a) you can still eat gluten without whole grains, and b) you can avoid gluten and still eat whole grains. I wonder what the repercussions would be for people with a Paleo diet, for example.

- I read a New York Times article about how Instagram lacks pictures of everyday food, and Nigella Lawson thinks Instagram is ruining comfort food. I agree on both counts, but also admit I’m the first to fall for food porn.

- Apparently, the longer you’re in a relationship with someone, the more your tastes in food converge (possibly the same way that you also start looking like your mate). I wonder if that means I’ll one day like spicy foods, or whether the Engineer will grow to like raspberries?

- We stopped leaving plastic water bottles in the car and invested in a few more metal bottles (I kept my old one, but replaced the gasket). Even metal bottles shouldn’t be left in the car, though, because of potential bacteria growth, so I just need to get back in the habit of taking it with me whenever I leave the house…

- Gobble is a meal service that promises 1-pot dinners in 15 minutes. See, that’s the kind of meal service I could go for!

- Why do we still have ethnic food aisles in grocery stores? I wonder the same thing.

- A study shows that smelling your food may help make you fat, in the sense that it primes your body to hold on to calories instead of burning them. (If you looked at the link and thought TL; DR, then try this one.) This is SO disappointing, but I’m still not ready to give up smelling my food!