Thursday, May 26, 2011

So Bring Me Some...

Figgy Bars? Not pudding! I have been wanting fig newtons for a while, but I haven't been able to find one that is whole wheat, no refined sugars, or additives. I actually did find one by Barbara's Bakery brand of products, but in one of my cookbooks there is a recipe for whole wheat fig bars that I wanted to try to make before I go and buy a snack that I could very well just make myself. I am all for home baked goods above store bought. This way you know exactly what is in it, the quality, and you can always tweak it to you taste. What could be better than that? Don't get me wrong, there are times where you do not have the time, ingredients, or patience to do it yourself, so go right ahead and buy whatever you like. Till then, I will make what I can!

I just made a few changes to the recipe, from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I did not have black mission figs, instead I used Trader Joe's Turkish Figs and reduced the filling amount because I didn't have the necessary 16 ounces (1 pound) of figs, I only had 10 ounces, so I made it work. (Tim Gunn!)

Whole Wheat Figgy Bars

10 ounces dried figs, hard steams removed, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
2 teaspoons finely grated citrus zest

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup date sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Line an 8x8 inch square pan with foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large sauce pan , combine the figs, water, syrup, and zest. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce to a simmer, and stir occasionally. When the figs begin to soften, in about 8 to 10 minutes, continue to cook but mash the figs to create a chunky, moist paste.

If the mixture starts to look dry add in small amounts of water and stir. Remove from the heat and set aside.

If the mixture is still too chunky, place in food processor until a smooth mixture is reached.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flax seeds, milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, mixing for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir until a soft dough forms. Divide into two equal parts. Shape each section into a square shape, so that it will be easier to roll out.

Place one square between two sheets of parchment paper.

Roll out to the dough until it becomes slightly larger than the 8x8 pan, rotate as you roll so it stays an even thickness.

Peel off the top layer of wax paper and flip the dough into the pan and press into the pan so that it is slightly up the edges of the pan. Roll out the other half of the dough.

Top bottom layer with the filling,

then press the top layer over the filling.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and puffed.

Place pan on a wire rack to cool. When it is completely cool, take out of the pan by grabbing the foil. Remove the foil, and cut into bars. Store in a tightly covered container.

I like them, but next time I will try to use black mission figs, but they do taste like fig newtons, and they have the same crunch from the seeds that regular fig newtons do. When I was eating them the other night, my mom had to stop the show we were watching because of the crunching and she asked what are you eating? Figgy bars momma!

Remember I had mentioned the rye bread bake that I made, well it came out great. Actually better than I expected. I ate it with fresh grape tomatoes to try to simulate a sauce, but maybe a roasted red pepper sauce or a tomato sauce will be nice with it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grape or Strawberry?

Jelly that is.

I have been craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the longest time. So I decided to give into the craving. I like my pb and j on rye bread, with caraway seeds! Yum! I ended my last post stating I was going to make bread and that is what I did. A nice loaf of rye bread so I could have my samich!

Rye Bread

2 cups rye flour
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup molasses
5 tablespoons smart balance buttery spread
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (or even more in my case)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup luke warm water
2 cups bread flour
4-4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon oil

The cookbook I got this recipe from had a note stating to toast the caraway seeds before you add them into the dough, so I tried it.

Mix the rye flour, boiling water, molasses, smart balance, salt, caraway seeds, and onion in a large bowl. Leave it to cool.

In a measuring cup, mix the 1/2 cup water and the yeast.

Add the yeast into the rye flour mixture.

Then add in the 2 cups of bread flour.

Once incorporated slowly add in the whole wheat flour. You are not going to be able to add in all of the whole wheat flour in the bowl.

When a stiff dough starts to form, remove it from the bowl and onto a well floured board, where you are going to add in the rest of the flour by kneading it into the dough.

You will know when it the dough is right when it is not sticking to your hands anymore and it feels tight.

Then place it in a bowl that has the oil in it. Coat the dough with the oil, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Punch down the dough and then place it in an oiled loaf pan.

Let it rise for about 30 minutes.

Cut slits in the top and then place it in the oven and bake for a hour, turn it half way through baking. You will know when it is done by tapping the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow.

Cool on a rack. Slice and then eat!

So back to my question grape or strawberry jelly?

I made one half of my sandwich with grape jelly and the other with strawberry. I always thought I was a strawberry fan, but well the grape sang hit the spot today.

So I am embarrassed to admit this but my bread did not come out that great. I rushed the baking time and it was not all the way done inside. I didn't want to waste my bread, so I ripped it up, toasted it at 400 degrees for 20 or 30 minutes until it is nice and toasty. What I then did with the toasted bread crumbs, was eat some along with my brother, put some aside for later use, and then made a "bake." I sauteed some spinach with black olives, made a vegan bechamel sauce by heating oil in a sauce pan adding whole wheat white flour, then I added some dried mustard powder, nutritional yeast, salt pepper, and onion powder. Then I slowly added water to that and let it thicken. Add in a touch of grated nutmeg. Pour that over the bread. Then I mushed half into the bottom of a greased 9 inch square pan. Topped it with the spinach, the rest of the bread and baked it for 20 minutes. I then made it more of a vegetarian bake by topping it with some provolone cheese and then continued to bake it for another 30 minutes and let the cheese get browned and bubbly. I can't wait to have it for dinner tomorrow.

If it comes out good I'll add measurements of ingredients so you can try it too.

My answer is grape I guess.

Also the rank for the cuppy cakes are as follows: spiced, creamsicle, spicy chocolate, and  the peanut butter. The taste test was done by myself, my mom, and my brother, two of my most reliable taste testers!

What's next on the list...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cake or Death?

Cause, "Cake or death?" That's a pretty easy question. Anyone could answer that. 
"Cake or death?"
"Eh, cake Please."
"Very well! Give him cake!"
"Oh, thanks very much. It's very nice."
"You! Cake or death?"
"Uh, cake for me, too, please."
"Very well! Give him cake, too! We're gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?"
"Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry…"
"You said death first, uh-uh, death first!"
"Well, I meant cake!"
"Oh, all right. You're lucky I'm Church of England!"
"Cake or death?"

Eddie Izzard had this joke in one of his skits and I have been dying to make a post using it. If you do not know who Eddie Izzard is, well you must search him! watch him! and hopefully you will find it as funny as my family and friends do. 

So what would your answer be? Cake or Death? I choose cake, but the question is which one? I used one base recipe for agave nectar cupcakes, then played with flavors. I wanted to make a creamsicle type cup cake, a spicy chocolate, a peanut butter, and a spice. The real test was for the orange creamsicle one. I don't know why but I have been craving this combination. So here where my experiments:

Agave Nectar Cupcake

Base recipe:
2/3 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup whole wheat white flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cup cake pan with cup cake liners. 

Mix the soy milk and vinegar together in a large measuring cup.

Add the oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.

In another bowl mix the flour and other dry ingredients.

Combine the two. Now you can bake this off and have yummy cupcakes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning half way through baking. 

(these are for 3 cupcakes each)
Spicy Chocolate

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 (really a dash) teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons water
(the red in that picture is the cayenne)
Add a quater of the base batter to a bowl along with the above ingredients.


zest of two oranges (I used red navel)
Juice of 1 orange 
2 tablespoons whole wheat white flour

Add a quater of the base batter to a bowl along with the above ingredients.


1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Add a quater of the base batter to a bowl along with the above ingredients.

Peanut Butter

1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 tablespoons cashew butter

Add a quater of the base batter to a bowl along with the above ingredients.

Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, turning half way through baking.

Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely. 

Frosting time:
I used TrueWhip a type of vegan coolwhip.

It is really good, reminds me of coolwhip, but it is much better for you.

So I used that to top some of the cup cakes. For the spicy chocolate I added some Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder to the TrueWhip and grated some dark chocolate on top. For the creamsicle, I just added some vanilla extract to the TrueWhip and topped with some vegan naturally colored sprinkles. For the spice cup cakes I made an agave nectar icing. (To make it it has 3T agave nectar, 3T coconut oil, 3T milk,  1t arrowroot powder,  dash of salt, 1/2 t vanilla, and 1 1/2 t soy milk powder in it. You first heat milk and arrowroot- whisk, add in the agave- whisk, then add the coconut oil and vanilla- whisk, then add in the soy milk powder- whisk.) And I topped the peanut butter with a chocolate ganache ( Just melt 2T dark chocolate chips and 1T carob chips over a double boiler, add in 1t milk.) And there you are!

So the question still remains, Cake or Death? I choose one of each please!

Here is an easy dinner side dish recipe for one:
Artichoke "Hash"
4 artichoke hearts, chopped
3 green pepper strips, chopped
3 yellow pepper strips, chopped
2 mushrooms, chopped
4 black olives, chopped
10 grape tomatoes, halved
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon walnut oil (or any oil of choice)
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Heat a sauce pan with oil over medium high heat, add in the peppers and mushrooms. Cook for about 4 minutes, add in the artichoke. Let that cook for 8 or so minutes stirring so things do not stick but do allow them to brown. Add spices, tomatoes, and olives. Before you serve add in the parsley.

I topped it with eggplant "steaks" with melted provolone cheese. So good!

Next week: I'm thinking bread...