November 28, 2011

yam-kale soup with chorizo garnish

This delicious soup was inspired by the potato-kale soup in Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan! Romero provides a recipe for homemade vegan chorizo in her fantastic cookbook, but I just used the store-bought stuff. If you don't want to buy or make vegan chorizo, you could eat this soup without it, but seriously ... it's the chorizo that really knocks it out of the park.

Also, when I made this soup I completely forgot to put the onions in at the beginning, and ended up sauteeing them separately later. Since it came out so great, I'm going to pretend that's what made all the difference, and that mistake has been preserved in the directions below. But I'm sure you could just throw the onions in with the rest of the veggies and pour in a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil ...

yam-kale soup

Peel a
large yam (about 19 ounces)
and cut it into small bite-size pieces along with a
small Yukon gold potato (about 8 ounces)

Throw the yam and potato chunks into a large pot, along with
6 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water

and bring to a boil over high heat, covered. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the yams and potatoes are very soft.

yam-kale soup

2 cups of the cooked vegetables in cooking liquid
from the pot and puree in a blender or food processor along with
5 ounces okara

Once pureed, return to the soup pot. If desired, you can mash the remaining yams and potatoes with a potato masher or other mashing implement.

a medium-sized white onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
for 5 to 10 minutes, until onions are translucent but not browned. Add them to the soup pot along with
5 ounces kale (stems removed and chopped into small pieces)
1 Tablespoon white wine

and increase the heat to medium. Stir until the kale is wilted.

NB: This should have only taken maybe 5 minutes, but because I used prepackaged kale from Trader Joe's, I had to cook this for about 15 minutes. Why? Because the TJ's kale didn't have the thick stems removed, so it had to be cooked for a lot longer! In the end this wasn't a problem, so if you don't want to remove the stems I guess you don't have to -- just be prepared to cook it longer, until the stems are nice and soft.

When the kale is wilted, add
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp. white vinegar

and stir seasonings into the soup. Turn off heat and let the soup rest while you lightly saute the chorizo.

There really aren't instructions for the chorizo -- I just sauteed some store-bought vegan chorizo in some olive oil for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. How much chorizo you garnish your soup with depends on your tolerance for heat and your own personal tastes. I probably used about a Tablespoon of chorizo per cup of soup.

Ladle soup into a bowl, garnish with desired amount of chorizo, stir chorizo into the soup, enjoy!

Verdict: This is one of my new favorite soups. I love the combination of yams, potatoes, and chorizo, and love finding ways to sneak kale into my food (not to mention okara).

November 26, 2011

chocolate-coconut brownie tart

chocolate brownie tart

This recipe includes two things I despise, namely thickeners and chopping chocolate chips. I hate dealing with thickeners, whether it's corn starch or kudzu. In this case, it's arrowroot powder and agar powder. I have no confidence when it comes to thickening a liquid over the stove top; it never seems like it's working and it just gives me anxiety.

As for chopping chocolate chips, that's got to be one of the stupidest things ever. Is there a trick to it that I just don't know about? I've tried using a blender and a spice grinder, to no avail. Perhaps it would be easier to chop a chocolate bar -- at least a bar wouldn't be rolling around under your knife, making it nigh-impossible to get some quality chopping in.

I think the annoyances were worth it, though.

chocolate brownie tart

to make the brownie layer:

Over the stove top, on low heat, stir together
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup okara
1 tsp. vanilla

until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix together
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

NB: I'm sure you could substitute regular flour for the soy flour. The reason I threw it in is because I have a big bag of it that I'm trying to get rid of!

Add the chocolate mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well combined.

Mist a 9-inch spring-form pan with
vegetable spray
and pour the batter inside. Spread evenly and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-21 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

chocolate brownie tart

Allow brownie layer to cool while you work on the next steps.

to make the custardy layer:

In a saucepan, whisk together
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. agar powder (not flakes)
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Place saucepan on stove top and stir over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, make a slurry of
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. arrowroot powder

Whisk together until smooth.

chocolate brownie tart

Add the slurry to the coconut milk mixture over the stove top, and stir into the mixture. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and bubbles.

chocolate brownie tart

Then add
1/4 cup chocolate chips
and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

In a food processor or a large, powerful blender, puree
12 ounces silken tofu
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla

until all tofu has been liquefied.

chocolate brownie tart

Add the contents of the saucepan to the food processor or blender, and puree contents until totally combined. You will probably have to scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times.

chocolate brownie tart

When it's all mixed, pour the contents of the food processor or blender into the spring-form pan, over the brownie layer. Place the pan into the refrigerator to set while you chop up
1/4 cup chocolate chips

chocolate brownie tart

Remove tart from fridge, sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the top of the tart, and return the tart to the fridge.

chocolate brownie tart

Allow it to chill for at least an hour. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edges of the spring-form pan before releasing the cuff.

Verdict: I think this is great. The coconut flavor wasn't too strong for my tastes; it also might be interesting to experiment with almond milk or hazelnut milk in place of coconut milk. The custardy layer might have benefited from another 1/4 cup of melted chocolate, but when eaten with the brownie layer, it's just fine.

The brownie layer was a bit on the crumbly side, which might have been due to the inclusion of soy flour. (In the past I've noticed that soy flour seems to make baked goods a little crumbly.) Might be wise to use all whole-wheat pastry flour rather than a combination of wheat and soy flours.

November 7, 2011

oatmeal-okara cookies

These oatmeal cookies are based on last month's delicious pumpkin cookies, only lacking the pumpkin and spices. Makes about 33 cookies.

oatmeal okara cookies

In a bowl, thoroughly combine
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats (quick-cooking)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a second bowl, whisk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup okara
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/2 tsp. vanilla

until thoroughly emulsified.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until they are thoroughly incorporated. Drop by the Tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet that has been lightly misted with vegetable spray. They don't spread out too much; I liked them best when I didn't flatten them out and instead let them stay in little rounded domes.

oatmeal okara cookies

Bake for 14-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.