Saturday, October 23, 2010

Breakfast of champions: tempeh sausage on scallion biscuits

A few weeks ago I wrote that skillet smashed potatoes topped with leftover ratatouille topped with an over easy egg was the best breakfast I'd ever had, and I'm going to stand by that, but this is another new favorite. Tempeh is made of pressed, fermented whole soybeans, and it's supposedly better for you than more processed soy products like soy milk or tofu. I used to think it was sort of an acquired taste, until I learned from Isa that I was cooking it all wrong (i.e., I wasn't simmering it). On a warm biscuit straight out of the oven, it's enough to make me forget about Chick-fil-a breakfast forever.

Tempeh Sausage Biscuits

1 package of tempeh
2-3 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Red pepper flakes
Fresh or dried sage
2 cloves of garlic minced
canola oil

I like to cut the tempeh into three rectangles, then set each rectangle on its side and slice it in half crosswise to make a thin square that will fit nicely on a biscuit. Then add the tempeh to a medium pan, with enough water to nearly cover it. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until most of the water is absorbed (the tempeh should be a bit pliable). Drain the rest of the water, add oil and other ingredients, and cook until they are a bit brown on either side.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole-wheat flour (or just 2 cups of AP)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3.5 tbsp butter
scant cup of plain yogurt
lightly caramelized sliced scallions (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and pinch it into the flour until it's blended. Add the scallions if using and then stir in the yogurt until you can form everything into a ball. It should be relatively dry but cohesive (we had to add a few splashes of soymilk to incorporate all the flour). Turn out onto a flour surface and knead just a few times (~10) until smooth. Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle, and use a glass to cut it into rounds. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 7-9 minutes.

Serve with good yellow mustard (crucial!)

Digression: I find the discussion of meat substitutes slightly interesting... With something like a lentil burger that really has almost nothing in common with a hamburger, it probably does a disservice to someone trying it for the first time (really it's just too bad that "patty" is such a gross word). Even worse are things like "vegan meatballs" (which I very infrequently am very grateful for). But at the same time, the lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard on a bun is at least as important as the burger (q.v., In-n-Out grilled cheese) to the extent that calling it anything else would be a sham. Same thing goes for the spices in sausage, if you can call turkey sausage sausage, I think we're pretty safe with this one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread

Poor neglected hardly starving. We've been cooking but sadly nothing really blog-worthy (except some amazing tempeh sausage biscuits that might make their way here eventually). In any case, if you've been wanting to try baking a loaf of bread, or need a good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon, or if you don't feel like waiting for an overnight pre-ferment, this is a really good one to try.

You start with a pancake batter consistency dough (an incredible 95% hydration!) and dough hook it until it eventually turns into sticky dough. This took about 20 minutes with the kitchen aid on 6 for me. It rises like crazy--pretty sure mine quadrupled while we were out shopping--and has great oven spring so don't worry if it's all flat and sad looking when you first put it in the oven.

I only made a half-batch (so 250g flour, 237g water) which made two smallish loaves. Also I'd recommend erring on the side of overcooking since the dough's so wet, and make sure to let it cool completely before slicing!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ratatouille with heirloom veggies

Whoa, it's been a long time! September almost went by without my noticing, had a really good time visiting friends the last couple weeks, but it's nice to be home and cooking again.

Inspired by some beautiful heirloom zucchini and eggplants from Suzie's Organic Farm at the grocery store, K looked up a few recipes for ratatouille and we decided to follow the one from Tartelette, attributed to her french mother, which was the right choice. Note to self: when in doubt go for the mom's recipe :) Update: The link to the recipe is broken... Full text is reproduced below.

The dish was super easy to put together, sauteeing each vegetable a bit before adding the next, and then stewing for about an hour basically unattended. And it made quite a lot. Easily enough for a main course for 4-5 people. All the veggies were good, but the Rosa Bianca eggplants (white flesh with white/purple skin) were particularly amazing, which is good because they were easily the most expensive thing that we got at the store.

That clove of garlic sitting on top was a knock out spread on a baguette. Kristen tried to convince me that roasted garlic was the real vegan butter, and while it is super delicious, I still ain't buying it.

Also happy World Vegetarian Day! A great day to go for the lentil burger or the mushroom risotto. Oh man, I need to make some mushroom risotto soon.

UPDATE: skillet smashed potatoes topped with ratatouille topped with an over easy fried egg is probably the best breakfast I've ever had.

Here is the original Tartelette recipe, retrieved from The Internet Archive.

Mom's Ratatouille:
1 medium onion (peeled and diced)
1 eggplant (peeled every other strip and diced)
3-4 zucchini (peeled every other strip and diced)
1 red bell pepper (we used orange because no red ones at the farmers market)
1 green bell pepper
4 tomatoes
1 can good quality tomatoes (we used one 14oz can of fire roasted tomatoes)
5 garlic cloves (we like ours unpeeled and whole but some don' as you prefer)
Herbes de Provence
Or a mix of thyme, parsley, oregano, lavender, all spice and a pinch of basil
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

In a large saute pan set over medium (and I mean the largest you have that you can put a lid on), sautee the onion in a bit of olive oil until translucid. Add the diced eggplant and sautee until it becomes golden in color. Add a dash more olive oil and add the zucchini, then the peppers, tomaotoes and canned tomatoes. Add the whole unpeeled garlic cloves, the spices, salt and pepper. Do not stir. Cover with a lid and let stew for aout 15 minutes. At this point the vegetables will have reduced a bit in volume from cooking and you will have room to stir and mix the herbs with the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 20 to 30 minutes on low until most of the cooking liquid has evaporated.
Et Voila...