Vegan Sweet Potato Quiche

Sweet Potato Quiche

Spring is time to go yard-saleing. It’s one of the reasons I most look forward to this time of year.

Much as I hate going to shops, I admit there’s a gorgeously vicarious joy in going into other people’s homes and rummaging through their stuff — even if it’s stuff they’ve decided they don’t want anymore– and finding treasures I can put to good use.

My home’s filled with all kinds of finds– some of it is quirky, like an antique valet chair picked up by Desi who has an eye for the unusual. Some of it is elegant, like a beautiful, weathered wooden desk that we picked up at the home of a former journalist in the neighborhood who had just passed away. Some of it is just really useful, like a comfortable couch that we got for nothing. Turns out the owners, who were moving, were cat lovers and when they found out we were too, it clinched the deal. It now sits in the den and Pubm pretty much dominates it, soaking up the sun filtering in from the window, so I assume she somehow found out she was the reason we got that couch. :) Smart, those cats.

Desi also loves picking up old records at yard sales– and I find it hard to pass up any good baking tools and pans that I can find.

Of course, yard sales can also be too much temptation to pick up stuff you’ll find — too late– you didn’t need after all. The only comfort is, you usually got it cheap enough not to regret it too much.

**
Sweet Potato Quiche
I am going to share today my recipe for Savory Sweet Potato Quiche, which is almost like having dessert for lunch. Or dinner.

The rosemary and sage in my herb garden have already perked up in the warming weather, and I put their punchy, savory deliciousness to work alongside the creamy-sweet flavors of my quiche.

I made my  quiche crust with whole-wheat pastry flour and oat flour. I also added a couple of tablespoons of vegan cream cheese, which is in the filling, to the crust, because I heard or read somewhere that cream cheese helps make a tender crust.

I should’ve known better. The crust was exceedingly tender — too tender, in fact– and I ended up having to pat it in the pan. It was also rather crumbly when it came out, but delicious. If you want a sturdier crust, I’d advise going with the one I used in this recipe, minus the sugar. You can halve the fat in that recipe and use olive oil instead of butter or shortening. Or you could also always make this quiche crustless.

I topped the quiche with some slow-caramelized onions which added a little more sweetness to the dish and very nicely complimented the savory flavors of the herbs.

Here’s the recipe now. I am sending it to It’s A Vegan World: French, the latest edition of a series started right here on Holy Cow! and hosted this month by Graziana of Erbe in Cucina.

Enjoy, all!

Sweet Potato Quiche

Savory Sweet Potato Quiche
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti’s savory sour-cream-and-onion but feel free to go with the plain one)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil (try to use extra virgin)
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. The dough should hold together in a ball, but if it doesn’t, add some water.
  • Place in a container or wrap it in shrink-wrap, then refrigerate while you get your filling together.
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, baked in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle slides all the way through. Remove, cool, and peel.
  • 1 8-oz tub (minus the 2 tbsp used for the crust) vegan cream cheese, either plain or savory.
  • 1 12-oz packet of silken extra firm tofu
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary (about 1 tbsp chopped)
  • 3-4 sage leaves
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, like Vidalia=”separator”>=”separator”>
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients together in a food processor and process until you have a smooth filling. If you aren’t using a food processor, chop the herbs first, then mash the ingredients together into a really fine paste. You don’t want a lumpy filling. You might try using a blender even.
  2. In a 9-inch tart pan or a pie plate, lightly greased, place the crust dough and with your fingers pat it out to the sides, climbing up to the edges until you have an evenly patted-out crust.
  3. Scrape the filling into it. Try to smooth it down as much as possible because this is a thick filling that is not going to settle on its own in the oven.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until the filling is nicely set.
  5. Cool for at least 10 minutes before sliding off the tart-pan sleeve.
  6. To make the topping:
  7. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and sugar and cook them, stirring frequently, on a medium-low flame until they are nicely golden-brown. This takes more than half an hour and some patience– you don’t want to hurry it up and burn them which would make them bitter. Scatter the onions on the quiche. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

 

Ratatouille and Rosemary Polenta Spiked With Miso

One can’t possibly say goodbye to summer without at least once cooking up a pot of ratatouille, a delectable dish filled with the vibrant flavors of the vegetable garden.

To me a ratatouille symbolizes the beauty of French cuisine: its dazzling simplicity. While the thought of cooking French food can sometimes appear intimidating because of its sheer reputation as one of the world’s haute cuisines, a good deal of it is really neither complicated nor difficult nor fancy. Instead, like a ratatouille, it’s just great food made with the barest minimum of accoutrements, which allows the beauty of the few ingredients used to sparkle through.

A ratatouille uses summer’s classic vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes. A dash of salt, some pepper, a few savory herbs– again gifts of the summer– and you have a dish that can satisfy any appetite.

Ratatouille is great with pasta or some crusty French bread, but this time I served it with some Rosemary Polenta spiked with Miso. I like using miso for two reasons: one, of course, because it so good for you and filled with great healthful enzymes that help digest food, among other goodies. But miso also makes a great salt and cheese substitute, adding delicious flavor to any dish from a pesto to a soup and, in this case, polenta. There are different varieties of miso available, but I used white miso, or shiro miso, which is a rather mild-tasting one and great for beginners.

You could always leave it out if you don’t have some on hand and you’d still have a super-delicious polenta to go with your ratatouille.

Enjoy, all!

Ratatouille

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

2 medium eggplants or 4-5 small ones (try to use the delicate variety of eggplant with tiny seeds rather than the big ones here), cut into a 1/2-inch dice

2 medium green bell peppers (capsicums– can substitute with red or yellow or orange bell peppers), cut into a 1/2-inch dice

2 small zucchini or 1 medium, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

3 tomatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (You get the picture? You want all your veggies to be roughly the same size for a great presentation)

3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced

2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 tsp fresh sage, minced (you can also use other savory herbs here like thyme or oregano)

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped, for garnish

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus some more for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, stir for a minute, then add the eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes and green peppers.

Mix well to coat with the oil. Then add the garlic and herbs and mix again. Add some salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and allow the ratatouille to cook about 30 minutes or until the veggies are buttery-soft. Garnish with the basil and add more pepper if needed.

When serving, pour a dash of extra-virgin olive oil over the top.

Rosemary Polenta Spiked with Miso

Ingredients:

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal mixed with 1 cup water

3 cups of water

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 medium onion, minced

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp shiro miso (white miso), optional

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the rosemary and some black pepper. Stir well. Add the 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Now add the cornmeal mixed in water, using a whisk to stir it in rapidly so that you don’t get any lumps.

Continue to cook another 25 minutes, stirring with a wooden ladle, until the polenta starts to pull from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat.

Add the miso (which is salty) and check if you need any salt. If yes, add some and stir it in quickly before the polenta starts to set.

I like to wait until the polenta is quite firm, about 10-15 minutes, before I serve it.

***

I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.–Gary Larson

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Whole-Wheat French Bread: A Step-By-Step Guide

So maybe French women don’t get fat, but I am not French and I do. Unless I watch what I eat.

Still, I do get the urge to eat some lusciously soft, heartily crusty French bread ever so often. And when I was struck by the recurring urge to bake a French bread this weekend, I decided, for a change, to make it healthy by incorporating as much whole wheat into the recipe as I possibly could.

I had already posted a part-whole-wheat French bread recipe on this blog, but I don’t bake it as often because it’s a tad complicated and I am always rushed for time. There’s also another that I posted not long ago that uses only bread flour or all-purpose flour. Both breads are excellent, but when I want some home-baked French bread on the fly, the white flour recipe usually wins out because it’s much quicker. But as you can imagine, it’s not the healthiest option.

To end the health dilemma once and for all, I decided I’d come up with a healthy, whole-wheat French bread recipe that was easy and delicious, even if I was condemned to eating various failed experiments for the rest of the year. Luckily, it was nowhere near that hard– in fact, I succeeded at the first try.

I won’t take all the credit for it– French bread is one of the easiest breads to bake, and almost anyone can make a pretty good loaf with just a little practice.

Despite its healthy nature, this bread is also rather traditional because it uses just flour, water and salt, as classic French bread does. I did add some vital wheat gluten because I wanted the bread to be airy and light, as good French bread should be.

To understand the role and importance of vital wheat gluten in wholegrain bread-making, it might help to know the difference between whole-wheat flour, which you might have often heard described as being low in gluten, and refined flours like all-purpose flour and bread flour, which have a high gluten content.

Refined flours are made by milling the endosperm of the wheat kernel which is a coating around the embryo of the grain and which contains a protein that, when kneaded, develops into gluten, giving bread its chewiness and structure and helping it to rise.

Whole-wheat flour, on the other hand, is made by milling the entire wheat kernel which includes the endosperm, the outer coating called the bran, and the embryo or the germ. Therefore, measure-for-measure, whole-wheat flour contains less endosperm than all-purpose or bread flour and therefore less of the protein that causes gluten to develop. Get it?

At the other end of the scale you have cake flour which is refined further by stripping from it not just the bran and germ but also a good deal of the gluten-creating protein, yielding a high-starch flour that contains very little gluten. This makes it perfect for crumbly, tender cakes.

A quick piece of information for home cooks who tend to substitute maida, a super-refined flour that is widely used in India to make sweets and some breads, with all-purpose flour. Maida is actually much closer to cake flour than it is to all-purpose flour because of its very high starch content.

Coming to the point of this post, when you make a bread with only or mostly whole-wheat flour or other wholegrain flours like rye, you need to give the dough a protein boost so it will yield a well-risen, well-structured loaf of bread instead of a heavy, dense loaf that you could kill someone with (hopefully not by feeding it to them :) ). That protein boost is given by adding vital wheat gluten to the recipe. If you can’t find vital wheat gluten, which is sold in grocery stores like Whole Foods in powder form, I’d suggest flip-flopping the ratio of whole-wheat to all-purpose flour in the recipe and leaving out the added gluten.

I used durum whole-wheat flour, the same flour I use to make chapatis and puris, for this bread. You can buy durum whole wheat flour in five-, 10- or 20-pound bags at Indian grocery stores and even at natural food stores like Whole Foods.

Since I’ve often enough stressed in the past that bread-making is equal parts science and art, I thought it might help for you to see pictures of most of the major steps, so I’ve included them here. As always, feel free to ask if you have any questions.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Whole-Wheat French Bread

3 cups of durum whole-wheat flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp + 1 tsp vital wheat gluten

(If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, use 3 cups all-purpose and 2 cups whole-wheat flour and skip the gluten)

1 1/2 tbsp salt

2 cups of mildly warm water

2 1/2 tsp yeast

Mix the yeast, 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of water in a large bowl. Let stand for a few minutes until the mixture becomes quite bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.

Now add the vital wheat gluten, remaining flour, salt and remaining water. Mix to combine and then knead by hand about 10 minutes or in a stand mixer, on medium speed, about six minutes, until you have a very smooth, elastic and resilient dough.

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise at room temperature. (In winter, I’d leave it in a cold oven with the light on).

After two hours, the dough would have more than doubled. Punch it down to remove all the gases in it, then divide it into two. Let the dough stand, covered with a kitchen towel, around 10 minutes before shaping.

Take one ball of dough and punch it down with your fist to release all the gases and air. You will have a six-inch round when you’re done.

Now, roll over more than half of the dough and, using your knuckles or the heel of your hand, press it down into the bottom.

Repeat two more times, rolling the dough over each time, until you have a cylinder. Each time, press in the seams with your knuckles or the heel of your hand. If needed, at the end, pinch in the seam with your fingers to seal it. You will now have a cylinder with tapering ends, about six inches in length.

Now using the palms of your hands and fingers and without applying any pressure, roll the dough until you have a roll about 12 inches in length. The roll should be even all over and taper off at the ends– apply a little pressure when you reach the ends to create the tapering shape.

Repeat this with the other ball of dough.

Place the two loaves on a baking sheet lightly greased with oil and sprinkled with cornmeal, at least four inches apart because they will expand and rise.

Cover with a floured kitchen towel and set aside for an hour.

With a very sharp knife or razor, and very quickly, make three long, diagonal cuts in the top of the bread. (I used a serrated steak knife as you can see in the picture, but if you’re not practiced at this, use a very sharp, thin razor blade because you don’t want to deflate the dough)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Five minutes before baking, spray about 1/2 cup water into the oven to create a steamy environment. (The water helps create a crusty loaf and also it creates a moist environment where the bread bakes slowly, creating more flavor).

Place the bread in the oven and close the door. Five minutes later, spray more water into the oven.

Bake about 30 minutes until the loaves are golden-brown. Lift up the loaf to check that it separates easily from the baking sheet.

Let stand at least 15 minutes on a rack before cutting.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

French Bread: Easy Recipe

Vegan French BreadA quick post today on one of the easiest but also one of the best French breads you’ll ever have.

There are just four ingredients in this bread, if you don’t count the water: flour, yeast, salt and sugar. I don’t make this bread whole-grain because that would interfere with the deliciously soft texture which makes it a real treat. If you want a great whole-wheat French bread, try this recipe that I posted a while ago. It’s also delicious and you’ve got the additional nutrition punch. Or try this foolproof whole-wheat French bread recipe with step-by-step pictures– you can’t miss.

French BreadBut for a busy weekend day when I want great, fresh bread for dinner, the one I’m posting today’s an absolute winner.

Gotta go now, but a quick nudge to send in your recipes for It’s A Vegan World: British. The deadline is July 31. I know it’s a bit of a challenge, but hey– which true cook can resist a challenge? I’ve already got some great entries, but I really, really would love some more, so hurry please!
French Bread

French Bread
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: French
Serves: Makes 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 2½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp sugar (this feeds the yeast and helps it grow faster)
  • Mix the yeast, sugar and the water in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand five minutes until the yeast flowers or begins to froth.
  • Add to the bowl:
  • 3½ cups bread flour (can use all-purpose)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed five minutes until you have a slightly sticky dough.
  2. Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let it rise, covered, at room temperature 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide into two. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle a little flour to make it easier to work with.
  4. Using the palms of your hand, roll each half into a long rope, about 10-12 inches in length.
  5. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and scatter 1-2 tsp of cornmeal on it (to keep the bread from sticking)
  6. Place the two ropes side by side, with at least 5 inches between them, on the sheet.
  7. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1½ hours.
  8. Sprinkle some flour on the top of the loaves (this is decorative and therefore optional). With a very sharp blade, make 4-5 diagonal gashes along the length of each loaf.
  9. About half an hour before the loaves are fully risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone (or unglazed ceramic tiles) on a rack in the middle of the oven.
  10. Just before you place the bread in the pan, spray the inside of the oven with water.
  11. Place the baking sheet on the baking stone or tiles. Close the oven. Spray the sides of the oven again with water five minutes later. (The water ensures a crusty loaf)
  12. Bake for a total of 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden-brown.
  13. Cool on a rack before cutting.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegan Coriander Quiche

Vegan Coriander Quiche Back in the days when I ate eggs and enjoyed them, there was still one thing about them I never could stand: that eggy smell. That smell ruined perfectly good cakes, gorgeous cookies, and crusty, otherwise delicious breads for me. But after going vegan I did miss the texture eggs gave to the recipes they dominated, like delicate quiches and omelets.Tofu, of course, was the answer, as I learned eventually, thanks to all those vegan cooks out there experimenting with egg substitutes. For my Spicy Coriander Quiche, which I’m sharing today, I’ve used soft silken tofu as an egg substitute.Here’s the truth: despite being a vegan, I don’t often worship at the altar of Tofu, although I do enjoy it immensely in dishes like my Tofu Paratha or Vegan Palak Paneer or even blended into some pasta sauces. And I love nothing more on a Saturday morning than a crusty bread and a plate of scrambled tofu.

Anyway, after I learned of Madhuram’s Egg Replacement event– her chosen substitute for the month is silken tofu– I had a hankering to make this quiche because it is a great example of tofu as an egg replacer. No, correct that: it is an improvement on eggs.

So out I went and bought a block of silken soft tofu which lay in my refrigerator for nearly three weeks before I realized I was running out of time to make it to the event deadline.

Last night I pulled out the tofu and looked in my pantry for veggies I might marry it with. It wasn’t a good day. There were some carrots, some sweet potatoes, some frozen greens, some winter squash, and some potatoes. Hmmm. Then, I saw this wonderful bunch of coriander. And three handsome skinny green chili peppers that I had just picked from my slowly wilting vegetable garden. I always have onions on hand, and with some garlic, I knew I had the beginnings of a very fine quiche.

I used whole-wheat pastry flour to make the crust. It was wholesome and delicious and made a great crust, but because of its low gluten content the flour does not really hold together, making it very, very difficult to roll out. I ended up patting it into the tart pan which was not such a bad thing, although it did have that abstract look…

If you want a more roll-able, neater crust, you might want to substitute half the pastry flour with all-purpose. You can also try skipping the crust: the filling is quite great on its own, but I do love the crunch of the crust that contrasts so beautifully with the silky filling.

I added a tablespoon of rice flour to help thicken and set the filling: an old Indian housewives’ trick to thicken a watery curry. I might have used cornstarch if I had some on hand, but this worked just beautifully.

Here it is, then, my vegan Spicy Coriander Quiche. I’m going to have this one do double duty for me by sending it also to Siri who’s hosting Herb Mania: Coriander, started by Dee of Ammalu’s Kitchen.

Enjoy, everyone!
Vegan quiche

Vegan Eggless Coriander Quiche
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • 1¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (if you prefer to roll out your crust rather than pat it into the pan, substitute half the flour with all-purpose)
  • 2 tbsp trasfat-free shortening + 1 tsp canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6-8 tbsp ice-cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 large cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 box silken soft tofu, like Mori Nu
  • ¼ cup almond milk (can use soy milk)
  • 1 tbsp rice flour (can use cornflour if you have that on hand)
  • 3 moderately hot green chili peppers (jalapeno or the skinny ones found in Indian grocery stores would work)
  • ¾ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, put the first three ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor. If doing this by hand, cut the shortening in until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If doing this in a food processor, break down the shortening into small pieces by pulsing a few times.
  2. Drizzle water as you mix by hand or by running the motor of the food processor. When the dough comes together, pat it into a disc and place in refrigerator.
  3. To make the filling, heat the oil and add the onions.
  4. Saute the onions until they just begin to turn lightly brown.
  5. Add the garlic and saute on low heat for a minute or two until the garlic softens. Don't let it burn. Turn off heat.
  6. Put tofu, almond milk, chilies and rice flour in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add salt as needed. Add the coriander and pulse once or twice until the leaves are broken down into small pieces but not liquefied.
  7. Pour the tofu mixture into the onions and garlic and mix well.
  8. Now take the pastry dough and either pat into a greased tart pan, preferably one with a removable bottom, or roll it into a circle and place inside the tart pan, trimming off any overhanging edges.
  9. Pour the filling into the pastry shell.
  10. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 35-40 minutes until the filling is set and lightly golden.
  11. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve warm.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.