Monday, April 21, 2014

Kabocha Squash Chili with Poblanos

What to do with a 5 pound Kabocha squash that will make for fast food dinners over the next couple nights? I decided to steam about half of it and make a chili style meal, bake the other half to use either for a salad or for a spicy puree.  This is how the chili went together, for eating on rice (or rice noodles!).

Kabocha Squash Chili with Poblano Pepper

2.5 lbs Kabocha squash (1/2 of a medium sized one) cut in wedges and steamed
3 stalks celery sliced in thin slices and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
6-8 frozen plum tomatoes
1 medium large onion chopped
1 poblano pepper chopped medium fine
2 Tblsp chopped fresh cilantro (at least)
3/4 cup chopped greens - I used beet greens
1 tsp each cumin, ginger, paprika, thyme
.5 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp (at least) chili powder
1 can dark red kidney beans (or fresh cooked, or any other bean you like)
.5-1 tsp salt
2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Amino

Chop up everything else and put all the other ingredients into a medium large pot. (I used the same one that I used to steam the squash to keep my clean up to a minimum.)

Once the squash has cooled enough, cut off the peeling and the dark green part so that it is all tender flesh. Kabocha has a kind of chestnut-like quality that is crumbly, so cut it into fairly good sized rectangular chunks that won't just dissolve in the chili.

Let this cook on a simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Stirring occasionally. ADD SQUASH and let simmer another 20 minutes. You can keep for a couple days in the fridge -- or eat the same day! It's great on any kind of rice, and also on thin rice noodles -- or soba!!  We ate this on kasha and sprinkled lightly salted peanuts on top, which was great for a textural combination.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Roasted veggies with seasoned tofu

We are straddling two seasons as the root veggies start softening up, storage onions start sprouting greens and the fresh asparagus begins arriving from just a little south of us. For me, a meal is especially pleasing that has qualities of warmth and coolness, color and texture. This meal met all those aspects plus it came together simply. I steamed fresh asparagus in the last 10 minutes that the food in the oven was uncovered, and the kale salad softened the whole time the veggies roasted. I have to admit that my husband and I ate nearly all of this in one dinner, but adding an additional beet, sweet potato and a couple onions (or parsnips) this could feed 4 people! You can also double the tofu.

Roasted Veggies (bakes 1 hour)
Set oven to 350F

3 beets
2 carrots
1 sweet potato 
4 cippolini onions
teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
tsp olive oil optional

Scrub, peel and cut into medium, similar sized pieces. Place on tin foil in a baking pan - I prefer cast iron enamel to distribute the heat, but use what you have. Sprinkle the herbs, salt, pepper and oil (if you are using any), cover with another sheet of foil and place in oven. Set the timer for 40 minutes.

Kale salad
Use one good sized bunch of any kale you like - choosing moderate sized tender leaves.  We like curly and lacinato especially for this. Tear the leaf off the stem and tear into reasonabe edible pieces - not longer than your fingers or wider than your hand. Wash and spin dry. Place leaves in a fairly large bowl ( they do compact but start out needing space). In a separate bowl, mix together the dressing:
 1/2 c tarragon vinegar,
 1-2 Tblspn of a second vinegar like pomegranate or balsamic, 
add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic 
about 1/2 tsp salt. 
Smooth this dressing into the kale leaves, gently bruising the leaves and rubbing around to spread the dressing into all the pieces. Refrigerate while everything else cooks - smooshing  the leaves once more 10 minutes before serving (just about when you take the foil off the veggies).

Seasoned tofu

Cut a block of firm tofu into 6 short thick slices. Set out a bowl to soak them in. In a second bowl mix the mustard marinade:
1.5 Tblspn spicy mustard (your favorite)
1tsp Braggs Liquid Amino
1tsp tamari 
1/2 tsp ume plum vinegar
2tsp maple syrup
1Tblspn chili sauce (you could use ketchup with a little horseradish and vinegar added)
A shake of sriracha sauce
Pour this over the tofu and stir gently to cover all the surfaces.
After a few minutes, tip the bowl and recoat the surfaces with the sauce. Then add:
5 chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 chopped scallions
Let this sit, stir once or twice.

When the timer goes off, take the foil off the veggies, stir them gently and push them towards the edges if the pan. Put the seasoned tofu mixture into the center of the pan, spreading it so the tofu doesn't overlap too much. Cover with the foil and set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, take the covering off the baking pan and set the timer for the last 10 minutes. Steam the asparagus in that 19 minutes.


Banana Oat Cookiies

As usual, my agenda began with an ingredient that required attention: 3 small overripe bananas. So I mashed them in a bowl, added oats and off I went. These are cheating a little on my usual strategy by using some dark brown sugar, but only 2 tablespoons. We ate these for breakfast, but my husband said, "Call them cookies, they'd be good anytime!" So I did.

Banana Oat Cookies

Mix together and let sit 
3 small overripe bananas mashed, or 2 large ones
1.5-2 cups whole oats 
1/2-2/3 cup almond milk (unsweetened plain) enough to make a mush, not liquidy
1 heaping tsp chia seeds

In a larger bowl mix:
1/2 c chick pea flour
2/3 c brown rice flour
1/4 c millet flour
1Tblspn tapioca starch
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-2 tsp cinnamon (as you like it)
2 Tblspn dark brown sugar
2 Tblspn nutritional yeast

Combine moist ingredients into dry stirring til consistent, and toss in your favorite dry fruits/nuts. I used what I had on hand which ended up being about 1/2 c mixed raisins and cranberries plus 1/2 c walnuts.

Set oven at 375F and spoon out heaping tablespoon sized blobs onto a silicone baking sheet at least an inch space between them.

Bake 25 minutes (check 'em at 20 minutes). The house will smell great when they're done!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sourdough Millet Breadsticks: Struggling with sourdough

Last winter I bought a book all about gluten free bread baking. I read the reviews (very positive) and made the corrections from the errata related to oven temperatures and times. I bought all the expensive specific ingredients. I nurtured the sourdough starter and tried the yeast breads. Basically 3 out of 10 recipes were pleasant to eat and none were worth posting here or serving to anyone else. Sigh. 

So I went back to inventing my own misadventures in gluten free vegan bread baking. Except for the fact that I felt terrible discarding the sourdough starter, even though it had failed me. It smells so good and has so much Teff in it... 

Today's experiment centered around using the weekly discard from that starter. I have to reduce it by half and add new Teff and water so it can continue to grow (if that's what it's doing). So I made bread sticks using the rest of the millet flour that didn't fit in the quart jar I use for fridge storage, some sorghum flour, a splash of Xanthan gum (because I bought it for all those  failed bread recipes) a couple teaspoons of yeast, a tablespoon of molasses, well... It came out nicely and was a fun accompaniment to the corn chowder I thawed out for lunch.  Here's the way it went. The sourdough starter must be made at least 4 days in advance.

Sourdough Millet Teff Breadsticks

Sourdough starter:
4 cups ground Teff flour
Red cabbage outer leaf 
2-3 apple peeling pieces 
4-5 cups room temp filtered water
Large mixing bowl

Mix together 2 cups water 2 cups flour and the cabbage leaf, torn into 2 pieces, and the apple peelings in a good sized bowl. Leave this out on the kitchen counter or other moderately warm place where you will see it. Cover it with cheesecloth or a dish towel (especially in summer to keep bugs out if it) and stir it gently every 4-6 hours. Add 1/2 cup Teff flour and 1/2 cup water every 12 hours for at least 2 days. 

After 48 hours you should be seeing bubbles and smell some fermentation. Take out 1 cup and add in 1/2 cup Teff and 1/2 cup water. Let stand another 6 -12 hours. If you are going to use some right away , you can take 1 cup out and feed the starter again. Give it at least 4 hours and then refrigerate it in a closed jar. Every week you need to take out a cup & feed it, setting it out to give it time to restart the growth. You can experiment with adding other flour like millet, sorghum etc.


1.5 cup starter
1/2. cup Teff flour
1 1/4 cup millet flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp Xantgan gum (binder to replace gluten)
2tsp yeast
1 Tblspn molasses
1/2 -2/3 cup water to moisten
Mix all these stirring gently until thoroughly moistened and combined.

1Tblspn garlic powder
5-8 kalamata olives cut off the pit in bits
1.2 tsp dried (or fresh!) rosemRy crushed or chopped
1/2 tsp sea sat

Stir in all the above and let sit covered with a cloth for 40-50 minutes.

Sprinkle a surface with 1/4 c millet flour.
Take a fistful of dough and dredge just enough so you can roll it out on a non stick Silicone baking sheet on a large cookie sheet. They can be 5-7 inches long and best is a little wider than an inch. Makes about 8 sticks. After you've used up all the dough, sprinkle kosher salt and ground pepper in another handful of millet flour in the flat surface. Gently pick up each stick and dab and roll it in the salt/pepper replacing it on the baking sheet with the peppery side up. Make 3 quick diagonal cuts in the surface of each stick.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 375F checking for doneness afyer 30 minutes.