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mooflyfood

Well, clearly I haven’t been updating this blog very much. But I have a good reason! I’ve started a new, more general cooking blog called mooflyfood. A large percentage of what I post there is dairy-free, though, so if you’ve enjoyed this blog, please check out the Dairy-Free section of mooflyfood!

Tassajara Whole Wheat Bread

Bread

Today Ed and I made bread. We used the recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book, my mom’s stained, yellowed copy from the 70′s. It has her name — her maiden name — written inside the front cover in her youthful handwriting. I highly recommend buying this book, as it has lots of great explanations, illustrations, variations, and recipes. Not to mention, it’s the quintessential hippy bread book, and reading it is a truly peaceful experience. As an added bonus, the book is deeply local for me, having been written at the Tassajara Zen Center in Carmel Valley (near Monterey, where I grew up), and published in Berkeley a few blocks from where I lived in college. The author, Edward Espe Brown, still lives in the Bay Area, up in Marin County.

I remember my mom making bread quite regularly when I was growing up, undoubtedly taking her cues from the Tassajara Bread Book. Baking bread is one of those activities that’s uniquely suited to being at home all day raising children — it doesn’t take much active time, but you do have to attend to it every hour or so. And it’s interesting to find that, so many years later, my experience baking bread (knowing what it should look like, how it should feel, and how I should handle the dough) is a largely intuitive process. I suspect that this is due to my mom showing me how it was done when I was young. I’m deeply grateful for that, and today I really enjoyed turning around and sharing that knowledge with Ed.

The recipe in the book is very general and has lots of room for variation. For the sake of posterity, here is exactly what we did this time. It took all day and has yielded us with two loaves of perfect, delicious wheat bread, which should last us a couple of weeks.

Tassajara Whole Wheat Bread

Sponge:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package)
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour

Rest of the bread:
1 1/4 tablespoon sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
2 cups whole wheat flour
plus 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour for kneading

Sponge:
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Stir in molasses. Stir in 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour until a thick batter is formed. Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes). Let rise 1 hour in a warm area– an oven that has been heated and turned off is great, but don’t let it get too hot or the yeast will die!

Rest of the bread:
Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the sponge. Pour vegetable oil on top of that. Carefully FOLD the batter until the salt and oil are incorporated. Be gentle and don’t stir roughly; the more tears you make, the less elastic the dough will be. One cup at a time, carefully fold in the wheat bran and 2 cups whole wheat flour until they are well incorporated and the dough becomes stiffer and pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

Turn out the dough on a well-floured wooden surface — I use a large cutting board with rubber feet. Scrape extra bits from the bowl onto your dough ball. Knead bread for 10-15 minutes, sprinkling more flour on the board as needed to keep it from sticking. Knead by folding the dough in half towards you, then use the heel of your hand to push inward towards the board. Use your body weight! Turn the dough a quarter-turn and repeat the process. Fold, push, turn. After 10-15 minutes, the dough will be relatively stiff, elastic, and smooth.

Put a bit of vegetable oil in the bowl you used to mix the dough in. Put the kneaded dough back in the bowl, creased side up. Flip it over so the crease is on the bottom. Spread the oil over the surface evenly — it will prevent a crust from forming on the dough. Place a damp towel over the top of the bowl and place the bowl in a warm (but not too hot) area to rise. Let it rise for 50 minutes.

Punch dough down, using a fist and driving it firmly straight down. Punch it about 25 times. Flip it over so the punched side is on the bottom, cover with damp towel, and let rise for another 40 minutes.

Take dough out of bowl and place on cutting board. Form it into a ball by gently tugging the sides around and tucking them underneath. Dough should be elastic enough to not tear. Using a large, sharp knife, cut ball in half to form two equal portions of dough. Form each of these into balls in the same manner. Let rest for 5 minutes, and while you’re waiting lightly oil two 9″ bread pans.

When the 5 minutes is up, knead each ball briefly, about 5 or 6 times apiece. Form into loaves by rolling each ball into a cylinder. Place them in the pan crease side up, and, without squishing it, spread the dough outward so it fills the pan length-wise. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

With a sharp knife or razor blade, slash the top of each loaf 3 or 4 times to give the steam a way to escape. (We added sesame seeds to the top of one loaf but they didn’t really stick. The book suggests brushing with an egg wash for a shiny, brown top, but that’s not vegan so we skipped it. I might try brushing it with vegetable oil next time to get the seeds to stick.) Bake for about one hour. When done, bread will be crusty on top and will “resound with a deep hollow thump” when firmly tapped. Immediately remove from loaf pans and let cool on a cooling rack. You can eat it while it’s still warm, or, for clean slices, let it cool for at least 1 hour.

Enjoy! This bread is great for sandwiches, toast, etc.

Swedish Pancakes

Swedish Pancakes

Swedish pancakes are plate-sized and baked in the oven. They’re thicker than a crepe but thinner than a normal “pancake”. They have crispy edges and an almost custard-like texture and flavor. They’re a little sweet but not overly so. I like to eat mine plain (I’m not big on sweets for breakfast) but you can also serve them with jam, maple syrup, fruit or whatever you like.

I’m not sure where the name for this dish comes from. Whether they’re actually Swedish or if they’re just some made-up American thing is something I don’t know the answer to. Savia has a very similar recipe and she calls them “Dutch Babies”. She theorizes it’s a bastardization of “Deutsch”–they’re like German pancakes. This particular recipe was copied from a stained index card in my mom’s recipe box labeled “Laura-Berry’s Swedish Pancakes” — or maybe it’s “Launa-Berry’s Swedish Pancakes”. I never could tell if that was an R or an N. I think it’s better as a mystery.

I’ve been making these for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I used to wake up and make them for the family. I did it so often that I had the recipe memorized. It really couldn’t be easier. To make it dairy-free I made a couple of brain-dead substitutions and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t make a bit of difference!

Swedish Pancakes

Makes: 2 pancakes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put between 1 and 2 tablespoons of margarine each on two glass pie pans (it’s important that they’re glass). Yes, 1-2 tablespoons on each pie pan–I never said this was healthy! Put pans in preheating oven so butter melts.

While butter is melting and oven is heating, mix all remaining ingredients (egg, soymilk, flour, brown sugar, salt) in a bowl. Don’t overmix–leave a few lumps.

Take pans out of oven (be sure to use potholders!). Tilt them around so the butter fully covers the bottom of each pan, and goes up a little around the edges.

Split the batter between the two pans. Tilt them around again so the batter roughly reaches the edges of the pans (it won’t reach perfectly because the butter won’t let it). I like to make the excess butter run over the top of the batter — it makes for a tasty buttered pancake.

Put pans back in oven. Bake 15 minutes, or until edges are crispy and brown. They’ll probably puff up a bit. That’s part of the fun!

Use a spatula to scrape the pancakes out of the pan and onto a plate. Some of the pancake will probably stick to the bottom of the pan — don’t sweat it. That’s just how it goes.

Enjoy!

I like to eat mine plain, with my hands, biting the crispy, buttery, salty-sweet edges off first. Just like being a kid again.

Easy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce with Sausage (for Pasta)

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated. Life gets crazy sometimes, you know? Since my last post, I’ve traveled across the country, celebrated a 1-year anniversary with my boyfriend, had Christmas in Monterey with my family, spent New Year’s in Joshua tree with friends, and moved into a fantastic top-floor Victorian flat in San Francisco with my boyfriend. There hasn’t been much time for writing well-thought-out blog entries, but I’m hoping that now that I’m getting settled into the new place, that’ll change–especially since the apartment has a huge kitchen. I’ve been cooking up a storm so far. I made this for the boyfriend and our vegan friend last weekend.

Easy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce with Sausage (for Pasta)

Short on time or energy and wanting a tasty pasta dish that’ll fill you up without dirtying too many dishes? Here’s a quickie to try out.

I’ve found that I really enjoy vodka pasta sauce, but it always contains cream, which is of course a big no-no for the lactose intolerant. A while back, I was amazed when a friend told me the creamy pasta sauce she was feeding me was vegan. “How??” I asked. The answer was silken tofu. This stuff is amazing. You can use it to make anything creamy–and it’s a lot lower-fat than heavy whipping cream. I’ve been experimenting with it quite a bit lately.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of your favorite premade tomato-based pasta sauce (make sure
    it doesn’t secretly have cheese!). I used a roasted garlic and basil
    sauce.
  • 4 sausages of your choice. I used a package of Aidells Portobello chicken & turkey sausages.
  • 7 oz. silken tofu. I used half a 14 oz. brick.
  • Vodka to taste
  • Pasta

Directions:

Throw the pasta sauce in a pot over medium heat. Once it’s warmed up a bit, pour some vodka in. I’d say I used a couple of ounces. The more vodka you add, the tarter it will become. I added a bit too much at one point and was able to damper it a little by adding some olive oil.

Put the tofu in the blender and blend it till it’s smooth and creamy. You might want to water it down a little with some soymilk so it’s not quite so thick. Add it to the tomato sauce and stir it in.

Cook the sausages per the instructions on the package. I fried mine up in a little olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Cut them up (I like to cut rounds, and then cut the rounds in half), and add them to the tomato sauce, which should be quite warm at this point.

Cook the pasta to your taste. Serve it with the tomato cream sauce. Delish! And it reheats well, too.

I like this recipe because it can be as quick & easy as you like. You can choose to make it like I did with prepackaged foods, or you can make it entirely from scratch: use that tomato sauce recipe that’s been in your family for generations, and put that meat grinder to work! It would work equally well with meatballs. Alternately you can leave the meat out for a tasty vegan dinner.

Dad’s Fajitas with Ancho Chili and Cocoa Sauce

These past couple of weeks have been interesting for me, as I’ve been adhering to a low iodine diet in preparation for my radioactive iodine treatment. It just so happens that low iodine also means no dairy, so I thought I’d make my inaugural Milk is for Mutants recipe post with this delicious meal my parents cooked for me the other day. In addition to not being allowed to eat dairy, I also can’t have soy, or iodized salt (meaning nothing processed, basically), or anything from the ocean (fish, seaweed, sea salt, carageenan, etc.)–as well as a bunch of other stuff. It’s a tricky diet, but with a bit of imagination, I can still eat well.

My dad’s been making these fajitas for several years now, and every time he does, I gobble them up! They’re so incredibly delicious, and they’re not like anything else I’ve ever tasted. I believe he originally based the recipe on one he found in Sunset magazine, but his modifications are enough to make it entirely his own.

I love fajitas because you can basically add whatever you like to them and they’re still delicious. Experiment with this recipe!

Dad’s Fajitas with Ancho Chili and Cocoa Sauce

Serves 7.

1 flank steak (approx. 2 lbs)
2-4 dried ancho chilis
5-6 limes
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
kosher salt
garlic (optional)
6 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange)
4 small yellow onions
4 ripe avocados
Corn tortillas

Sauce:

Take stems off of 2 of the chilis, remove seeds, break them into little pieces, put into blender. Add boiling water to cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 5 or 6 limes into it. Add 3 T brown sugar, 2 T cocoa powder. Add salt to taste (and garlic too if you want). Blend till smooth. Taste and adjust for your preferences. Add more rehydrated chilis if you want the sauce to be hotter and more flavorful.

Meat:

You can cook the flank steak however you wish. The way he did it this time was to marinate it with some of the chili sauce (be sure to reserve at least 1/2 of the sauce, for the vegetables), and barbequed it medium-rare. He sliced it thin, added a bit more of sauce and sauteed it all briefly on the stovetop. You can also use chicken for this recipe and it’s just delicious. Substituting tofu strips would make this recipe vegan.

Vegetables:

Cut bell peppers and onions into long strips. Sautee onions with hot vegetable oil until brown and caramelized. In a separate pan, sautee the peppers with hot vegetable oil until brown and soft, but not falling apart (they’ll probably take a bit longer than the onions). Mix the onions and the peppers, and toss them with the remaining 1/2 of the chili sauce until they’re thoroughly covered.

Finishing touches:

Heat tortillas in the oven, in tinfoil packets.

Cut avocados into long strips and put them in a bowl.

Put onions/peppers in separate bowl, and the meat in yet another dish.

Part of the fun of fajitas is that everyone gets to put their own together. Double up the corn tortillas (for structural integrity), and then pile with meat, peppers/onions, and avocados. Roll it all up and eat it with your hands. If you don’t get sauce everywhere, you’re not doing it right.

There is one glaring omission to this recipe and that is sour cream. One can easily make their own vegan sour cream using silken tofu, canola oil, lime juice, and a few other ingredients, but since I can’t eat soy right now, that’s a recipe for another day. Stay tuned!

Nothing here yet…

But just you wait!

The other day I had the idea to start a food blog. I stumbled upon Nook & Pantry and was sucked in by the gorgeous pictures, fun writing, delicious-sounding (and diverse!) recipes. I just can’t get enough of that kind of stuff.

But, knowing that I can’t cook things with dairy because my boyfriend Ed is lactose-intolerant, I became frustrated with the fact that many of her most delicious looking recipes contained dairy. No problem, I thought, I’ll just alter the recipes to be dairy-free! Then I realized just how much time I spend doing just that. It can be a fun puzzle, and making a meal that puts a smile on both my and Ed’s faces, well, it makes it all worth it. “Hey, other people might want to know about this stuff too,” I thought, “I can’t be the only one in this situation.” Combine that with my love of sharing recipes, and you get this blog, Milk is for Mutants…Adventures In Dairy-Free Cooking. So, welcome!

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