Cheater’s Chocolate Cake

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When I’m in the mood for a warm, gooey chocolate experience, I don’t want to waste any time. This recipe is quick, easy and every bit as rich and chocolatey as your favorite brownie, maybe even better!

Cheater’s Chocolate Cake

Adapted from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon

4 tbsp all purpose flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1⁄4 tsp baking powder

1⁄4 c canola or olive oil

3 tbsp nondairy milk

1 to 2 drops vanilla extract

2 to 3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

pinch salt

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Coat a microwave safe coffee mug or soup cup with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients well and smooth into mug.

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Microwave at 80% power for 2-3 minutes, until almost fully baked (should be slightly soft in center). Serve warm with non-dairy ice cream or as is.

Note: Microwave cooking time based on 1,000 watt microwave.

 

 

Rice Crispy Treats

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Did you think you would never eat rice crispy treats again once you found out the gelatin contained in conventional marshmallows is derived from animal sources? Well, cheer up, because now you can enjoy the exact same treat–cruelty free!

Using the classic Kelloggs Recipe, I created these delicious little crispies with puffed brown rice cereal, non-dairy margarine and vegan marshmallows (purchased from Whole Foods). I dressed them up with a nice coating of melted chocolate, but they are fine on their own. Enjoy!

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Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

 

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These spring rolls are a refreshing, healthy change of pace from the usual baked or fried spring rolls. Chock full of crunchy vegetables and tangy sesame-marinated shiitakes, they set the stage nicely for your next Asian themed meal or can be eaten alone as a light meal or party finger food.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

Recipe courtesy Selene Vakharia  www.rawfoodrecipes.com

(Servings: 4)

8 leaves Collard greens, de-stemmed
2 sheets Seaweed (optional)
4 ounces Shittake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Snow peas, julienned
4 ounces Carrots, julienned
4 ounces Napa cabbage leaves, julienned
½ Cucumber, julienned

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. Ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. Tamari
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. Sesame oil

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  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms for 15-30 minutes. Squeeze marinade back into bowl. Set aside to use for dipping.

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  • Put ingredients in the middle of the collard leaf and roll. Wrap and secure the roll with a strip of seaweed, if desired.

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Meze 119, St. Petersburg, Florida

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On a recent trip through St. Petersburg, Florida we visited the Salvador Dali Museum. We worked up an appetite viewing such an immense collection of awe-inspiring art and were definitely in the mood for a fun and creative lunch.

We took a stroll and discovered within a couple blocks this cute little restaurant, specializing in Middle-Eastern vegetarian food. The menu is not 100% vegan, but offers many more vegan dishes than most.

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We started with one of several herbal blend iced tea choices and the soup of the day, a Creamy Jamaican Spinach Soup. This was delicious and I had to flag down the server to make doubly certain it was vegan, because it almost tasted too good to be true. The teas were served with a whimsical touch–a thin stalk of raw sugarcane.

We tried the falafel pita and chick’n salad sandwich. Both were available on our choice of white or whole wheat pita. The portions were generous and both sandwiches were tasty. Mine was served with thick steak fries–a nice surprise.

Something we thought was pretty cool– the check presenter is actually a booklet where guests can write comments in an ongoing “slam book” style. A  fun and creative touch!

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Meze 119 is located in the heart of the city’s office district and seating is limited, so if you are looking for a quiet meal  with minimal wait time, I recommend a visit during weekday off hours or a Saturday lunch as we did.

Isan Thai Restaurant Sarasota, Florida

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My love of Thai food causes me complaint when it comes to eating out. Although I enjoy the authenticity of the small, family operated restaurant, along with this comes the addition of fish sauce, a staple in Thai cuisine.

While visiting St. Petersburg recently, I happened to discover a hidden gem among the parade of usual corporate chain restaurants along the city’s main drag. Isan is nestled in a strip mall, and one would almost miss it if not intentionally looking for it.

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The decor boasts all the opulence of as Asian temple, with intricate gold wall hangings and tapestries.  The staff was warm, friendly and welcoming–seating us in a cozy booth with a glass-topped table and roomy benches.

We ordered the vegetable curry and asked that it be prepared without fish sauce and the restaurant was happy to acommodate. The sauce was creamy and decadent, flavorful and chock-full of perfectly prepared vegetables in spiced coconut milk.

It’s great to know in this era of pre-packaged, pre-seasoned, flavor-engineered restaurants, one can still find made from scratch meals, prepared with integrity.

Soup and Bread

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It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

Easy Olive Oil Bread

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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New Summer Menu

melanieheadshotI am happy to introduce my new summer menu! if you haven’t checked out my website, feel free to visit www.melaniedaponte.com. Over the coming weeks, I will be featuring some of the new items and posting the recipes. Let me know the dishes that interest you and I will be sure to share when I can!

Mains

Linguine Primavera with Roasted Chickpeas and Artichokes

Indian Chik’n Curry

Soba Noodle Salad with Tofu and Sesame-Miso Dressing

Falafel Burgers with Tahini Sauce

Chana Masala with Tomatoes and Spinach

Chik’n Fajitas

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

White Bean Pomodoro with Creamy Ricotta and Seared Spinach

Mongolian Tofu with Basmati Rice

Cheezy Mac and Peas with Chik’n

Tofu Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

Barbecue Chik’n

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Rolls

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Chik’n

Smoky Chile Taco Beef-less

Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry

Greek Gyro Slices with Tzatzki Sauce

Buffalo Tofu Planks with Ranch Dressing

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Tofu Scramble Florentine

Sides

Gazpacho

Caesar Salad

Chopped Greek Salad with Tofu Feta

Watermelon and Red Onion Salad

Creamy Pasta Salad

Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup

Spicy Tortilla Soup

Faki (Greek Lentil Soup)

Tom Yum Soup

Herbed Potato Salad

Classic Coleslaw

Fiesta Rice

Macaroni and Cheeze

Indian Samosa Potatoes

Cheezy Queso Sauce with Tortilla Chips

Creamy Vanilla Pudding

Apple Cobbler

Mini Coffee Cakes

Key Lime Cheesecake

 

Key Lime Pie with Mango-Ginger Coulis

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I challenge you to tell the difference between the flavor and texture of conventional key lime pie and this dairy-free, decadent delight! This recipe yields a sweet, tart, creamy filling–exactly what I was looking for to top off my Sunday barbecue. Best of all, the preparation is simple, just blend and bake!

Dressed up with a swirl of sweet mango-ginger coulis, this dessert makes an elegant presentation for a dinner party as well.

Vegan Key Lime Pie

adapted from a recipe by Jolinda Hackett

2- 8 ounce containers Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (non-dairy cream cheese)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup key lime juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 pre-made graham cracker crust, pre-baked and cooled completely

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.

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Pour into cooled pie shell and bake 40-45 minutes until set. Cool on a rack, then chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

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Mango Ginger Coulis

1 cup mango puree

1/4 tsp. finely minced ginger

2 tbsp. vanilla soy creamer

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

 

3 Step Almond Bark

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As most vegans know, there are several good brands of dairy-free and vegan-friendly dark chocolate bars available at your local Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s. What is missing for me, however, is a bar full of almonds, like I used to enjoy as a kid (think Hershey’s with Almonds).

It is easy to make your own, though, and add as many almonds as you like, or dried fruits, roasted peanuts, etc. Here is a quick and easy recipe to satisfy that spontaneous craving for something you can’t find on the store shelf :-)

3 Step Almond Bark

by Melanie daPonte

2 ounces fine quality dark, dairy free baking chocolate or chocolate chips

1/4 cup almonds, chopped, sliced or whole

Method:

Step 1:

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In a heat resistant bowl over a pot of simmering water, stir and melt chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips until smooth and pourable.

Step 2:

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Remove chocolate from heat, fold in nuts and pour into a small container lined with waxed paper.

Step 3:

Place in freezer for about 1 hour, or until hardened, then turn out of the mold onto a board and cut into pieces, if desired.

This recipe makes a small, very rich bar, enough for two servings.

Jam Session

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Here’s an easy recipe for blueberry preserves I found this morning in a sudden rush of inspiration http://www.marthastewart.com/355053/blueberry-jam

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Wash the berries

Warm the sugar in the oven

Bring blueberries and sugar to boil with water

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Cook for about 45 minutes, until thick

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Keep it Simple Smoothie

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A smoothie can be a tasty, quick and efficient delivery system for several servings of fruit and/or veggies at one time. This recipe provides an easy to prepare method using fruits and vegetables you probably have on hand. You don’t need a $400 blender either, just a humble household model will do.

Once you see how truly easy smoothie-making can be, play around with the fruits, substituting melon or kiwi for the pineapple, apple juice for orange, mango chunks for banana–you get the idea. It’s not an exact science.

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Simple Green Smoothie

Large handful fresh spinach or other dark, leafy greens (chard, kale, etc.)

1 ripe banana, fresh or frozen

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup orange juice

Place greens in blender with juice and puree until smooth. Add banana in chunks along with pineapple and a bit more liquid if needed ( I use ice cold water). Blend it up and enjoy!

Ultimate Cheezy Sauce

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As many vegans will tell you, one the hardest foods to give up, in the beginning, is cheese. I have read that cheese actually contains addictive opiate substances, so that might explain its magnetic appeal.

As for me, I have learned to live without cheese and appreciate the flavors of the food underneath–where cheese would have been. At the same time, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cheesy sauce for macaroni, nachos, broccoli, and general dipping of crusty bread.

I have posted cheezy sauce recipes before–but this one is the mother of all cheezy sauces. It’s a adaptation of a modern vegan recipe with classical method. I am in love with the umami flavor and the smooth velvety “pour” of this sauce. I think you will agree that it is both delicious and easy to make with ingredients found in most vegan pantries.

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Cheezy Sauce III

by Melanie daPonte

1 1/2 tbsp. non-dairy margarine

1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup Soy milk ( can use almond milk, but I prefer the higher fat content in soy for creamier sauce)

¼ cup Nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Paprika

Method:

Melt the margarine in a  saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour to make a roux (classical sauce thickening combo).

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Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined and smooth. Stir until mixture begins to thicken and lightly bubble. Reduce heat to low and check for consistency and seasoning.

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At this point you may wish to add more paprika depending on the level of orange-ness you like your cheezy sauce to have. You may also want to play with the consistency a bit depending on how you plan to use the sauce. Just add a little more milk if you like more pour-ability. Add salt if desired, or more tamari or lemon juice as desired. It’s YOUR sauce now, so enjoy it!

 

 

Hot Lunch 1974

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 Southboro Elementary School Lunch Menu for Thursday, April 4, 1974

Oven Fried Chicken

Au Gratin Potatoes

Garden Peas

Hot Roll and Butter

Cookie

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gardein Chik’n Patty

Browned Potatoes Baked with Vegan Cheezy Sauce and Panko Breadcrumbs

Garden peas

Whole Grain Vegan Bakery Roll with Non-dairy Margarine

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie

 

Eggless Tofu Salad

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This is a quick and easy sandwich filling and certainly one of my husband Steve’s favorites. He’s what I lovingly refer to as a “meat and potatoes” vegan, and so am I, to some extent. We were both raised on the standard American diet which included familiar lunchbox staples such as tuna fish, chicken and egg salad sandwiches. We like veganized versions of homestyle, familiar dishes we grew up on as well as some of the more modern veggie dishes.

Interesting thing about these fillings, they are all made pretty much the same. This recipe is adaptable to chicken substitutes like soy curls and seitan and also mashed chickpeas that can stand in for tuna fish.

So this is my version, and I think it’s pretty darn close to the original in terms of flavor. I like a few high notes–sweet relish, tangy onion, crunchy celery and lots of black pepper. All of these ingredients are adjustable to suit your taste, so give it a try!

Eggless Tofu Salad

Recipe by Melanie daPonte

14 ounces Tofu, extra firm, drained
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Sweet relish
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. Dill, dried
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

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Drain tofu, squeezing out any excess liquid. Crumble with hands into large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well to incorporate to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

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I cannot stress enough the importance of tasting for seasoning. If you like more salt, add it now. If you like it sweeter, add more relish, etc. Make this recipe your own, and you won’t regret it.

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Souper Easy Tom Yum Soup

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This recipe comes right off the label of my jar of Tom Yum paste. Sometimes I just want something good and I want it fast. How fast? Try about 5 minutes.

Tom Yum Soup

2 cups water

3 tablespoons vegetarian Tom Yum paste (most Asian markets carry this)

1-1 1/2 cups fresh chopped vegetables of your choice (I choose broccoli every time)

Extras (optional)

Frozen vegetable dumpling

Leftover grilled tofu, cubed

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Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add vegetables and simmer covered about 5 minutes, until tender. Add any extras and stir to heat thoroughly.

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Add Tom Yum paste and stir until completely dissolved and soup is heated through.

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I just adore the flavor of Tom Yum–the blend of salty, spicy and sour combined with the aromatic lemongrass is a real go-to comfort food for me. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it often.

Seasons 52 Palm Beach Gardens

IMG_0145If you’re hungry for something different–whole foods, simply prepared in a high-end, fine dining atmosphere, you will love Seasons 52.

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We made a reservation for 8:30 p.m. and were seated promptly. The staff was friendly in a genuine way and we felt comfortable and welcome. Our table was near the window overlooking the waterway.

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Outdoor seating is available but on a first come basis, you can’t reserve an outdoor table. What a lovely view! It was such a treat to discover waterfront vegan dining in Palm Beach Gardens.

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The design is clean, warm and contemporary with a huge, cozy wine bar surrounded by deep circular booths. There was also a live piano player, performing 70s soft rock favorites, like Billy Joel and Elton John.

The menu is omnivore, but offers a decent vegan menu, although there are no vegan-friendly or organic wines on the menu (my only complaint).

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We started with one of several flatbread options, loaded with artichokes, balsamic onions and tomato. The umami flavors stimulated the palate without being too filling.

For dinner, I ordered the cedar-planked grilled tofu with broccolini and roasted red potatoes. The tofu was delicious–spicy and smoky with a sweet fruit chutney that was unnecessary but not a problem to move aside.  Steve ordered the vegetarian sampler plate that included the cedar plank tofu and veggies along with a soft taco and a cool citrus and mixed grain salad.

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All that whole food really filled us up, so, no room for dessert which is just as well. The one item on the vegan dessert menu is fresh fruit.

The dinner check was surprisingly affordable– not at all what we expected for the location, the quality of the food and level of service we received, which included complimentary valet.

Seasons 52 is a delightful change of pace and we will definitely return once in awhile for special occasions–to soak up the ambiance and enjoy a tasty, simply prepared vegan meal.

Savory Breakfast Bake

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I woke this morning dreaming of the perfect breakfast combination in one dish: Tasty tofu scramble, smoky tempeh bacon, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and melted cheez on top of a fresh layer of sweet, moist cornbread.

I think I nailed it with this recipe. Delicious and filling–this is a great dish for a lazy Sunday brunch and the leftovers freeze well for reheating on a busy weekday.

Savory Breakfast Bake

Ingredients

Tofu Scramble:

(recipe courtesy http://www.ppk.com)

14 ounce pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. Olive oil

2 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Dried thyme

1/2 tsp. Turmeric

1 tsp. Salt

3 tbsp. water

1/4 cup Nutritional yeast

Freshly ground black pepper

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Cornbread Layer

¾ cup Soy milk
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup Corn meal
2 tbsp. Masa Harina
½ cup Apple sauce
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
½ cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking powder
dash Baking soda
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast

Topping

4 Slices Tempeh bacon, browned and chopped

8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced

Large handful fresh Spinach

1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds

2 Scallions, thinly sliced

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Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Make the tofu scramble. Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant, but not browned. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, if possible. Lower heat and combine the turmeric, cumin, thyme, salt and water in a small dish. Add to the pan and stir until well coated and water is absorbed. Off the heat, sprinkle nutritional yeast evenly over tofu and stir well, allowing to coat and be absorbed. Season with fresh ground black pepper.

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Saute mushrooms until tender and add spinach until slightly wilted.

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Meanwhile, set up the cornbread layer.

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Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate softened margarine into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly, as in making biscuits. Mix wet ingredients well in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients. Fold mixture together well but gently, careful not to over mix.

Spread cornbread layer evenly over bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with tofu scramble, mushrooms and spinach. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions. Bake about 25 minutes, until cornbread is puffy and lightly browned, edges pulling away slightly from dish.

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Cool in pan about 10 minutes and cut into squares.

Serves 8

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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Yes, all you gluten-free vegans, you CAN have your cake and eat it too! They said it couldn’t be done, but here it is–a delicious, moist, sweet carrot cake, that tastes in my opinion, even better than conventional.

Here’s the secret–superfine brown rice flour. I know it’s pricey, but trust me it’s worth it. The texture is light, not the least bit grainy like regular brown rice flour. I purchased a 3 lb. bag through Amazon.com for about $15.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

from “Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes” by Audrey Snowe

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. Superfine brown rice flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. Potato starch

2 tbsp. Tapioca starch

1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum

2 tsp. Baking powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 cup Almond milk

1 cup shredded Carrots

1/3 cup Orange juice

1/4 cup canned pureed Pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded Coconut

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1 tbsp. Maple syrup

2 tbsp. Canola oil

1 cup sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 muffin cups. Whisk together dry ingredients except sugar and set aside. Combine all wet ingredients well then add the sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the DRY into the WET ingredients careful not to over mix.

Fold in the nuts, coconut and raisins, if using.

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Scoop batter in muffin cups with an ice cream scoop. Bake in the middle oven rack for 20 minutes–using the toothpick test. It should have just a bit of crumb adhering to it. Be careful not to over bake.

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Meanwhile prepare the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Non-dairy margarine

1/2 cup Shortening

1/2 cup Powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 cup Non-dairy milk

Pinch of salt

Method:

In a large electric mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream the shortening and margarine together until smooth and well combined. Next, incorporate the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, until well blended. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so there are no lumps hanging around later. Beat in the milk and vanilla with a pinch of salt until smooth and fluffy.

Makes plenty of frosting (about 4 cups) for 12 cupcakes with some leftover for next time. This frosting freezes very well in an airtight container. Just make sure it is completely thawed before using.

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Indian Potato Samosas

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I love Indian restaurant food, especially those tender, flaky pastry pockets filled with savory filling called Samosas. Most restaurants deep-fry these little treats, but I prefer them baked at home without that all that oil.

I do not enjoy fussing around with from-scratch pastry dough, so I thawed some frozen whole wheat piecrust I had hanging around from the holidays. It was easy to just cut out the circles, fill and bake.

This recipe is a tasty complement to a curry stew and the filling is delicious as a side dish on its own.

Potato Samosa Filling

Recipe courtesy The Captious Vegetarian http://www.captious.wordpress.com

4 medium-sized potatoes
2 – 4 Tbs. oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and minced
1 cup defrosted frozen peas
1 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 fresh hot green chili, minced
3 Tbs. finely minced cilantro
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Instructions:
Boil the potates unpeeled and whole. Meanwhile, chop and measure out all the other ingredients. When the potatoes are tender, drain and let cool.
While the potatoes cool, heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over a medium flame. Add the onion, stirring and frying until it turns a light-brown color.
Add the ginger, green chili, cilantro, and water, and simmer gently for a few minutes, until the skillet starts to dry out.

IMG_3831Dice the cooked potatoes into roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Add them to the skillet, along with the salt, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, amchoor, and lemon juice. Keep heat on low and mix the spices with the potatoes. Continue cooking gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes.

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Taste before serving, and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.

IMG_3839Cut out pastry circles and drop a large teaspoon of filling in the center. Brush edges with soy milk then top with another circle and press together with a fork to seal.

Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden brown.

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Pumpernickel Bread

headerBread baking can be a fun way to spend a few hours at home, especially during the winter months. It can also be a grounding, therapeutic practice–helping us slow down and become more present in our daily life.

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This recipe yields what my Nana would have referred to as a “good dark bread”. She was always delighted to find a fresh loaf at the bakery, the darker and more fragrant the better. As a child, I couldn’t appreciate the rich, full flavors of the rye flour, molasses and caraway. seeds. But over the years my palate has come to look forward to complexities of flavor like those in a dark coffee or imported chocolate.

This recipe is an old-world style with basic ingredients. The project time is long, about 3 hours—but, like I said, if you have the time and you’re feeling ambitious, you will be rewarded with a rich, tasty bread sturdy enough for your favorite sandwich or just a little spread of margarine or jam.

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Pumpernickel Bread

Recipe courtesy Elizabeth Yetter via About.com Bread Baking

1-1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
4 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp caraway seed
2-3/4 cups rye flour
3 cups bread flour, about
Preparation:

In large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Stir in the molasses, salt, shortening, caraway seed, and rye flour.

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Mix in 2 cups of bread flour. Slowly add the remaining bread flour until you have a dough that can be kneaded. You may or may not use the full amount of bread flour that is called for, depending on ingredients and weather.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time. I used a dough hook on my mixer for about 3-4 minutes.

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Place dough in greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.

Cover and let dough rise in warm place for about an hour or until double in size.

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Punch down dough. Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Punch down dough a second time. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead dough briefly.

Cut dough in half. Shape each half into small, round loaf.

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Grease baking sheet. Sprinkle sheet with cornmeal, optional.

Place both round loaves on baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in size.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on.

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Remove from oven and let loaves cool on rack.

Loaves can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for later.