Saturday, January 07, 2017

Coconut Split Pea and Leek Curry

January-Vegan-Saltfree-Sugarfree-Fatfree-Processedfree-cleanse continues.  I made this based on about 5 different recipes because not all of them used the ingredients I wanted.  It is FABULOUS even if I do say so myself :D and very easy!  One pot, not to much fuss on order and this can be done in a slow cooker!

Coconut Split Pea Leek Curry

Coconut Split Pea and Leek Curry

2 1/4 c Yellow Split Peas, picked over for small stones and washed.
1 900ml tetra pack of Salt Free Vegetable Broth, Organic if you have it
3 c Water, boiled and divided.
1 Vegetable Stock Cube, no Salt
1 c Coconut Milk

1 large Leek, sliced and washed
1 medium or 2 small Onions, sliced from half
2 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Sweet Potato, cubed (not autumn massive sized), roughly 2 cups)
1 pack, Frozen Spinach, defrosted, if you remember.
2 inches fresh Ginger, julienned (finely sliced)

1 T Garam Masala
1 T Curry Powder
1 t Ground Coriander (heaping)
1/2 t Cayenne
1 1/2 t Ground Cumin
1 t Ground Ginger
1 t Turmeric
1/2 t Black Mustard seeds (because I did not have Yellow)
3 Cardamom pods
1/4 t Salt (or leave out)

1 t Black Pepper
1 birds eye Chili, chopped (Dom found this too spicy)

In a large Creuset, or any large ceramic pot, because I'm not using fat, you have to have nonstick but really it's not essential but it will be easier to clean up.  On medium heat, add the ingredients as you go.  I'm going to tell you how I walked through it with a playdate going on in my living room.  Add the washed and chopped onion.  The moisture on the leaks will help things keep from not sticking too fast.  Stir until soft.  Add the Sweet Potato that's been cut into 1cm cubes.  If things are browning too fast on the bottom, throw in the Stock.  Rinse out the tetra box with 1 c of the water and add to the pot.  Add the Peas and stir well.
Add the Garlic and Ginger.
Add all the spices.
Add the Spinach.
Add the stock Cube softened in 1 c boiling water (you can use any veggie based stock. I used Onion  because the only Veggie cube I had, had Salt and we're cutting out salt.) Yes, I added 1/4 t salt to the HUGE pot, just to see how it would help the flavour.  It was okay.  Not sure it would have hurt not to have it since there was so many spices and aromatics but I don't feel bad about a mere 1/4 t.
Add the can of Coconut Curry.  Rinse the can out with the last cup of water to get all the coconutty goodness.  You can skip this but I NEVER do because so much clings to those cans.  Don't do this with boiling water unless you use an oven or kevlar mitt to handle the can.

Simmer for at least 30 minutes or preferably an hour to ensure the peas are soft.   They are fine a bit al dente like the texture of Edamame.

Serve with fresh Cilantro if you have it. Serve with Rice or with Naan.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

January Cleanse - Here we go again!

So my January routine for the 3rd year is to do a #Vegan cleanse but last year I took it up another level and thought about doing a 'Fat Sick and Nearly Dead' juice cleanse.  This is a store bought cleanse or money grab.  This just means you drink pure nutrient extract and no animal products whatsoever.  The documentary, though a little annoying because I thought it was just a rich guy making a movie, and why is this australian going to the States to do it?  Weird.  Anyhoo, the clinical evidence was intriguing. A friend of mine had gotten into a juicing kick a few years ago, just as an added snack not a cleanse, and so I told her my plans.  She thought I was being too 'radical', she's brazilian. :D  Anyhoo, she thought it would be too hard to maintain.  I told her I was only going to do it for a month and not the 90 days the dude did it.  She said, supplement with rice and veg too.  So that's what I did last year.

What I essentially did was for the entire month of January, from January, was a combination of 'Fat Sick and Nearly Dead' and the documentary 'Forks Over Knives', plant based diet.  I drank cleansing smoothies for breakfast with green tea.  (not juices since hubbo didn't want another appliance but I get the difference of the benefit of juice v smoothie but I wasn't going to let a gadget stop me).  I had steamed brown rice and some vegetables for lunch at work with tea (big portions)  and a smoothie for dinner with more brown rice or quinoa with veg for dinner.  I got more creative with the veg by making soups and stews toward the end.  What's missing?  Well this is where it departs from a simple vegan diet.  Based on 'Forks Over Knives', I cut out all fats, no butter, no oils, NO OILS... no not even coconut oil or olive oil. NO ALCOHOL....waaah bourbon! I cut out coffee.  I cut out ALL added salt and sugar.  I was peeing all the time at the beginning.  I mean I'm asian, there be soy in my diet and that makes you retain water whether you know it or not.  So once I was rebalanced, it calmed down.  There is natural sodium in vegetables.  No added sugars, no not maple syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar, molasses, no honey.  Think of it this way, I cut out man made concentrated calories into a dish.  If that dense amount of calories didn't naturally occur without being boiled, pressed or cycloned, then it was out.  The only 'processed' thing I allowed, toward the end was plain Tofu.  It's not really processed.  It's mashed soy that's solidified by an algae.  So when hubbo asks me every other hour, am I allowed to eat this or that (YES HE'S DOING IT TOO THIS YEAR) I told him, I'm making this up as I go along.  Basically, nothing that comes from any animal, fish, fowl or insect and nothing that has been unnaturally been manufactured to concentrate calories. i.e. whole avocadoes are okay.  Which is what I said when hubbo asked me what he was allowed to put on his toast.  Also I told him he could have Shredded Wheat or Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat if you want to follow my questionable logic.  Because the only incredient is Wheat or Oats.  If there is sugar or salt, I say no. He's being lenient on himself A TINY bit on salt.   I did that last year and after 1 week of some sluggishness of giving up coffee, I was wide awake all the time even without my tea.  I stopped catching back to back colds.  I was more alert.  I had more energy.

I did the juices again in July but was more difficult to do for a month with camping with the kids.  Hubbo did only the juices once a day last year but ate as normal.  This year he didn't even officially tell me he was doing it.  He just said 'yay, you're cooking for a month.'  He is the antithesis of vegetarian, let alone vegan!!!  I think his bad knees are making him think twice.  In Forks over Knives, they talk about what animal protein can do to your joints and inflammation.

Day 4 and going well.  Hubbo let himself finish some Christmas leftovers for days 1 and 2 but that's okay.  He put a pinch of salt on the Ratatouillle I did as well as the yummo Lentil and Cauliflower soup I made last night.  I'll post both later.

I know it sounds weird to fry your mirepoix (onions, garlic, carrots, celery.....) with no oil but it's fine in a non-stick or a ceramic cooking vessel like a creuset.  Just stir alot and I don't put the pan on insane levels like #Engine2diet recomments to brown onions.  You really should not put teflon on anything higher than medium heat.  Then you can 'deglaze' the yummo brown fond off the pan with vegetable broth or water.

I'll post my Lentil and Cauliflower soup soon.  It is VERY VERY GOOD, hearty and filling.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Macaron Quest - Yummo Trial and Error

I love love love Macarons. French Macaron not to be mistaken for the north american Coconut Macaroons.  I do like those too but I wouldn't get on a subway to cross the city because I read somewhere that someone has awesome Macaroons.  But for a Macaron.  Yeah.  Unfortunately, they are quite an expensive obsession.  Typically, a French Macarons will run you a good 2 bucks minimum to up to 3 bucks for the twoonie sized ones.  I love the Toronto Chowhound article outlining where to find the best priced yet still awesome.  Even on that article, you're looking at 2 bucks minimum.  Therefore, I decided I would learn to make awesome macarons on my own.  To avoid any excuse not to make them, I bought a gigantic bag of Almond meal at Costco because when I saw a Canadian Living test kitchen episode on Macarons, they used fresh Almonds and ground them.  Yeah, not gonna do it.

Trial 1 - Martha Stewart

I have, to date, done three trials and used 3 very different recipes.  I was going to use the Canadian Living recipe but theirs required Meringue powder and I wasn't confident enough to assume that you could leave that out.  So for my first trial, I used Martha Stewarts French Macarons.   I was only really testing for the shell so I didn't used some home made jam for the filling.  I used pink solid food colouring since I recalled from the Canadian Living show that using liquid drops, you risk messing up the composition.  The oven was for a blistering 375.  I rushed the reading of the recipe and made the following errors:

  1. I used Granulated Sugar (aka regular sugar) instead of powder sugar.  I misunderstood what Confectioner Sugar was.  It is powdered sugar.  I did however process it briefly in a food processor.  
  2. I did not sift the Almond Meal/Flour.  Meal is more grainy than Flour.  
  3. I completely forgot to bang/tap the baking sheet after I had piped them to release any air bubbles.
  4. Worst of all, I did not let them stand at room temperature for the prescribed 15 minutes.
They tasted great.  The graininess did not come across but they were quite misshapen.  

French Macarons using Martha Stewarts recipe.
However they lifted well with that typical sort of pulling away puffed up rough look along the side.  They did not store well.  They went slightly chewy and overly fragile after 1.5 days.  They are however, in my view, the best of the 3 trials.  I will try to use 375 for the Birthday Sprinkle recipe next time.  I think their temp was too low.  

Trial 2 Chow Hound

I wanted to push myself to try again so I volunteered to make Macarons for a charity bake sale.  I had even bought a carton of Egg Whites a few weeks earlier to avoid making excuses.  However, I was worried that they'd go bad so I portioned them out (30g of white per Large Egg) and froze them.  I thought great.  I'll use some of my Egg Whites.  I decided to make a double batch but since I randomly decided to freeze my Egg Whites in 3's I needed a recipe that used 3 because I did not want to make a triple batch.  I found the Chowhound Chocolate Macarons recipe. Perfect!  I thought because that way I won't colour them and the Chocolate will help hide possible flaws.  

I was careful to allow for time to sift and to let stand.  I wouldn't make those mistakes again.  I need them to be pretty to sell.  I even remembered to use Powered Sugar and ground the dry ingredients in the food processor to ensure they were fine. I even drew out all the circles to pipe into on the parchment paper then turned over the paper so I didn't freehand.  I banged the sheets on the counter though they were quite solid so it was pointless.  I let them stand 30 minutes as I was told.  These are the errors I committed this time.  Interesting though.  

This recipe required a medium hot oven of 350 instead of 375 as Martha's

  1. I doubled the batch.  This is always risky.  First time using a recipe.  I really should have done a single batch.  But I had wanted enough to sell.  Even though measured everything carefully, The batter was obviously too dry.  To be fair, maybe it was the Chowhound recipe.  It was the texture of cookie batter rather than toothpaste, like it should be.  I should have stopped adding the dry goods.  
  2. I used frozen Egg Whites.  They instantly showed that weren't lifting very well.  I had to beat for a long time and they did eventually lift but it looked more like a marshmallow base than the puffy Meringue I needed.  I should have started the egg whites again.
  3. I did deviate the recipe slightly.  I added 1/2 t of Cinnamon and 1 t of Cayenne for each batter, so double that.  I don't know for certain if that impacted it but I thought I'd give them some character.  Why that matters? I once added dry Mustard to a tried and tested white bread recipe that I can make in my sleep and it rose only 2/3 what it normally does.  I did it 3 separate times and each time the same thing happened.  Different jars of yeast too so it wasn't that.  I can only assume that sometimes the more volatile spices sometimes throw certain chemical reactions into play.  Also, it meant that the mistakes couldn't be eaten by the kids because they hate spicy food.
THEY DIDN'T RISE AT ALL.  I'm guessing it was due to how dry the recipe was and the Egg Whites.  I had decided that I was not going to bring them in and apologize.  But then I tasted them.  They were delicious, chewy yet crispy crust, spicy kick, and nicely chocolatey.  I decided to label them as Gluten Free Almond Chocolate Cookies and I had nearly a 100 and they sold out!!!

Chow Hound's failed Chocolate Macarons turned Gluten Free Almond Chocolate Chili Cookies.
Trial 3 Sprinkles for Breakfast Birthday Macarons

I came across this recipe for what they called Birthday Macarons while I was searching for an answer.  I wanted to use Red Sugar sprinkles to top my Chocolate Chili Cookies to give a hint to the chili. But I didn't know when you add sprinkles to a Macaron without risking the lift.  I saved it because I thought they looked so cute.  I followed this recipe almost to the letter.  I bought brand new Eggs and I banged the trays a few times and let them stand.  I set the oven for the rather low 325.  

So texture wise, they turned out ok while piping but they didn't lift where it looks like a cap is pulling away from the base.  They were rounded like a puffy cookie.  They quantity for all 3 was accurate and that's while not trying to kill yourself trying to drain every drop out of the piping bag like a tube of toothpaste.  I think next time.  I'll use this one in a 375 oven and see what happens.  I like this recipe because it uses 3 Egg Whites and uses a decent amount of Almond Flour.  Martha's only uses less than a cup.  How am I supposed to get through my Costco bag of Almond meal?  I think I can work with this recipe.  Now my kids will have to eat quite a few of my trials. Birthday Macarons in second place
My next trial will involve Sesame sprinkles, Yellow food colouring and Chocolate Ganache filling to make moque-Hamburger Macarons :D

#Macarons, #FrenchMacarons, #Baking, #Dessert