Thursday, April 16, 2009

Licking the beaters...

Found this over at theppk. I'm gonna try that apple butter idea.... hmmm... apple butter cookies, maybe?

Get rid of the eggs
Replacing eggs is the most challenging aspects of vegan baking. Those suckers bind, they leaven and they give structure to our baked goods. However, like a bad boyfriend, they can be replaced, and with pleasing results. Here some info on replacements I have tried.

Flax Seeds
How to use it:
1 Tablespoon flax seeds plus 3 Tablespoons water replaces one egg. Finely grind 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds in a blender or coffee grinder, or use 2 1/2 tablespoons pre-ground flaxseeds. Transfer to a bowl and beat in 3 tablespoons of water using a whisk or fork. It will become very gooey and gelatinous, much like an egg white. In some recipes, you can leave the ground flax in the blender and add the other wet ingredients to it, thus saving you the extra step of the bowl.

When it works best:
Flax seeds have a distinct earthy granola taste. It tastes best and works very well in things like pancakes, and whole grain items, such as bran muffins and corn muffins. It is perfect for oatmeal cookies, and the texture works for cookies in general, although the taste may be too pronounced for some. Chocolate cake-y recipes have mixed results, I would recommend only using one portion flax-egg in those, because the taste can be overpowering.

Always store ground flaxseeds in the freezer because they are highly perishable. This mixture is not only an excellent replacement for eggs, it also contributes vital omega-3 fatty acids.

Where to get it:
Health food stores

Silken Tofu
How to use it:
1/4 cup blended silken tofu = 1 egg. Whiz in a blender until completely smooth and creamy, leaving no graininess or chunks. You will want to add other wet ingredients to this mixture to get it to blend properly. I recommend vacuum packed extra firm silken tofu, such as Mori-Nu.

When it works best:
Dense cakes and brownies, and in smaller quantites for lighter cakes and fluffy things (if the recipe calls for 3 eggs only use 2 "tofu" eggs"). Whizzed tofu leaves virtually no taste, so it is an excellent replacer in cake recipes. In cookie recipes, it may make the cookie more cake-y and fluffy than anticipated, add 1 teaspoon of starch to the recipe (such as arrowroot or corn starch) to combat that. It may make pancakes a little heavy, so it is not recommended as a quick replacement for eggs in pancakes, although it could work well with a little experimentation.

Where to get it:
Health food store shelves, and in some supermarkets.

Ener-G Egg Replacer
How to use it:
1 1/2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons water mixed well = 1 egg
Many people swear by this egg replacer. I think it is good to use in a pinch, in all baking that requires a few eggs. However, I can definitely taste it in cakes and cookies (tastes chalk-y), and I'm not crazy about the dense texture it turns out.

When it works best:
It seems to work best in cookies, or things that are supposed to be a little crispy.

Where to get it:
Health food stores, some supermarkets in the baking or ethnic food section

How to use it:
1/2 banana blended until smooth or mashed well= 1 egg.
Bananas work wonders as an egg replacer in baking, which is the reason many banana bread recipes don't require eggs. They hold the air bubbles well, make things nice and moist, and impart a nice flavor. However, you don't want everything tasting like banana, so use in things where the taste won't be intrusive. I've also noticed that baked goods using banana brown very nicely.

When it works best:
Quick breads, muffins, cakes, pancakes

Tip: Make sure bananas are nice and ripe and have started to brown.

Where to get it:
Just kidding, I think you can figure this one out.

Soy yogurt
How to use it:
1/4 cup soy yogurt = 1 egg.
Soy yogurt works a lot like whizzed tofu as an egg replacer. It makes things moist and yummy.

When it works best:
Quick breads, muffins, cakes

Where to get it:
Health food stores, yuppyish supermarkets

Lose the milk
This is a no-brainer. Use soy, rice or almond milk. Butter milk? Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

It's like buttah...
Instead of butter try unsalted margarine or go ahead and use salted but reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Lose 1/4 teaspoon per 1/2 stick of butter. But try to use the non-hydrogented kind, I dunno', for your health?

My favorite thing to use instead of butter is canola oil, but you can use any vegetable oil, just reduce the amount. If a recipe calls for one stick of butter, which is a half cup, I use 1/3 cup of oil.

You can also try prune puree which will also obviously reduce the amount of fat. To use, puree 1/2 cup of pitted prunes with 1/4 cup of water. You will want to reduce the amount used, or the final product may be too moist. If the recipe calls for a half cup use 1/3 cup instead. You may also want to add a little oil, maybe a tablespoon per cup of fat needed, because a little fat goes a long way in taste and texture.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Superfoods

Two Superfoods to Eat Today (and Every Day)

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Eat two of five superfoods today. Try a theme: color. Be sure to grab an orange and drink a cup of green tea sometime today. These two superfoods are all around us, and eating them every day can help your weight loss because they provide the nutrients you need to burn calories. Oranges are a great source of folic acid, fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. As a double whammy against cancer-causing agents, make sure to get in a nice mug of green tea. It's high in antioxidants and it boosts metabolism. You can drink it hot or cold, caffeinated or not, but studies show that its benefits are best when the tea is consumed with meals.

Mushroom Lasagna with homemade bechamel

Hoping to use this Bechamel for when I try to make the pastitsio. Until then... 2 options:

Mushroom Lasagna

For the Bechamel:
5 tbsp butter
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 qt milk
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)

Melt the butter in a large semi-heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.
When melted, stir in the flour until smooth. Continue stirring as the flour cooks to a light golden color. (around 7 minutes) Turn up the heat to medium-high and slowly whisk in milk until thickened. Simmer gently, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the flour has softened. (around 10 to 20 minutes). Add the salt and nutmeg, mix. Remove from heat and set aside until needed for the lasagna.

For the lasagna:

About 2 1/2 c sliced mixed mushrooms of your choice (fresh and cleaned)
1 c finely chopped onion
2 c fontina cheese, shredded
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (if you don't want even the slightest hint of spice, leave it out)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to preferred taste
1 pkg ready to bake lasagna noodles
3 tbsp parmesan cheese (for topping)

Mix all ingredients together, except for the noodles and parmesan, and then pour into the Bechamel, mix well. (I will now refer to this mixture as the "sauce")
Grease a casserole dish, any kind you prefer, with olive oil, then add some of the sauce, spread well. Alternate layers of noodles and sauce until you've used it all.
Top with parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for around 30 - 40 minutes or until bubbly and noodles are completely cooked.


Lasagna Rolls with Three Mushrooms, Four Cheeses and Sage Bechamel
A Burghilicious Original

For the filling:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mixed mushrooms,* stems trimmed
2 large portobella caps, black gills removed
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
4 ounces mascarpone
4 ounces goat cheese
1 egg

For the sage bechamel:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup stock or water
2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 large sprig of fresh sage
3/4 cup asiago, finely grated, divided
3/4 cup pecorino romano, finely grated, divided

For the lasagna:
1 pound curly lasagna, cooked in salty water
2 sprigs sage, chopped

Prepare the filling:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large, stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for three minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. In a food processor,** finely chop all mushrooms. Add minced mushrooms and thyme to the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until mushrooms are fragrant and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, beat together mascarpone, goat cheese and egg until combined. Add the warm mushroom mixture to the cheese and egg mixture, and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna rolls.

Prepare the sage bechamel:
In a 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour all at once, and continue whisking as the roux cooks for 2-3 minutes, until its color begins to deepen. Whisk the cream, stock and milk into the roux. Add the sage sprig and a few grates of fresh nutmeg, and slowly bring just to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner, and pick out the sage sprig and any leaves that have fallen off. Whisk in 1/2 cup each of asiago and pecorino romano until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assemble the lasagna rolls:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread 2 tablespoons cool mushroom-cheese mixture down the length of one lasagna noodle. Gently roll up the noodle, mushrooms in. Place the roll curly end up in a 9"x9" glass or ceramic casserole dish. Repeat with remaining lasagna noodles. Squish the final rolls into the dish to ensure every roll stands upright. Pour the bechamel over the lasagna rolls. Top with remaining cheeses, chopped sage and whispers of fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Bake for 40 minutes on a center rack. Switch the oven to broil, and toast the top of the lasagna rolls for 5 minutes or until all cheese is melted and golden-brown. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving. These little guys reheat well, so they're very smart to save for lunch.

*I used a mixture of oysters, shiitakes and creminis, which are immature portobellos.
**You could certainly chop the mushrooms by hand, but you are looking for a very fine mince that will become easily spreadable. The food processor just makes sense, and since you are getting it dirty, you may as well use it for the onion, too.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Noodles Romanoff

My mom makes a crock pot version of this and it's such great comfort food. I was looking for something quick and easy for potluck tomorrow, thought I'd give this one a try. I'm going to replace the worcestershire with concentrated vegetarian beef broth and I'm going to add fresh sauteed mushrooms and onions with Chops, I think. Hope they like it....

Noodles Romanoff


1 lb. egg noodles
1 C. creamed cottage cheese
1 C. sour cream
1 C. minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Salt
Dash Tabasco sauce
1 C. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook noodles and drain. Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and Tabasco sauce. Gently combine noodles with the cottage cheese mixture and pour into a 2 qt. casserole. Top with grated cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
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