I made purple challah

My challah is usually yellow. Many years ago, when I first started making challah, I used a pinch of saffron threads soaked in hot water to lend a delicate yellow hue to my challah, along with the eggs.  As a vegan, I use some kind of fruit puree to sub in for the egg, generally either persimmon, mango, or peach. YOLK-colored fruit.  Well, yesterday, I didn’t have any of those yolk-colored fruits, but I did have some left-over gorgeous black plums I’d mostly used up canning plum jam. So I threw some plums in the blender with some agave and canola, leaving the skins ON, and voila, purple challah. But you better believe, it was delicious!

Challah – Purple or Not

  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 3 lrg plums*
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Olive oil and flour for rolling

Place the bread flour, 2 1/2 cups of the white whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook, and mix.  Pit and quarter the plums, and put them in a blender with the agave and canola oil.  Add the plum mixture to the mixer, and add the water.  Add more white whole wheat flour to get to a very thick pancake batter consistency.  Don’t add so much flour that the dough gets tough; it’s okay if it’s not pulling away from the bowl all the way.  Sticky challah dough makes soft bread.

Place a teaspoon of olive oil in a large bowl,  OIL YOUR HANDS, and scrape the dough into your bowl.  Roll the dough around as best you can to get it fully oiled.  Cover with a dish towel and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Generously flour a board.  Uncover your dough, gently punch it down, divide it into two balls, and put one back in the bowl.  Place the second ball on the board, sprinkle some flour on top of your dough, and oil your hands (keep your hands oiled through this process).  Knead a few times to integrate the flour.  Cut the ball into 2 parts, 1/3 and 2/3 pieces.  Divide the 2/3 hunk into thirds, and roll each 1/3 into a snake.  Braid the three snakes together, and tuck the ends under to make a pretty bottom layer.  Place the bottom layer on 1 side of the cookie sheet.  Repeat process with the 1/3 hunk.  Place the top layer on top of the bottom layer.  Repeat the process with the second ball of dough.  Cover the cookie sheet with a towel for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  After the challahs have rested for 20 to 30 minutes, remove the towel, and place in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, and check for color.  It should be golden or darker.  Bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes to achieve good color.  Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.  Or not.  We never slice, and we generally don’t wait for it to cool.  But that’s us.

*If you want actual yellow challah, as opposed to purple, you can puree persimmons (the custardy kind work best for this), mango, or peaches in the blender.  You want the equivalent of about 4 eggs.  Sorry I can’t give you an approximate weight, but you probably know what an egg looks like, you can guess about how much fruit would be its equivalent.

West African Peanut Soup and Ethiopian (not) Honey Bread

A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe on line for this Ethiopian honey bread I’ve been wanting to make, so today was the day!  I knew I’d need to serve it with something dunk-worthy, and tonight being my first EVER back-to-school night, something that could either sit on the stove or be made quickly when I returned, and so I adapted a recipe from my all-time favorite cookbook, Ethnic Cuisine, by Elisabeth Rozin, for African peanut soup.  (And yes, I’m aware that Ethiopia is in eastern Africa, and the soup is western, but they’re still TOTALLY delicious together, so whatever.)

By the way, while I pride myself in making most everything from scratch, you’ll notice a few short cuts here.  Sometimes, a mama’s gotta get dinner on the table!

West African Peanut Soup

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen tri-color bell pepper strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 4 cups veg stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 9-oz pkg pre-cooked French lentils
  • 1 cup frozen pre-cooked quinoa/brown rice blend
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp peanut butter, divided

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the oil when the pot is hot, and then add the chopped onion.  Let the onion get soft, and then add the bell pepper strips and the garlic.  Once the vegetables are fragrant, add the pureed tomatoes and veg stock, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the salt, lentils, and the grain blend.  Once the pot is boiling again, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the peanut butter.  Let the pot simmer until the peanut butter has melted into the soup, stirring constantly to prevent the peanut butter from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Puree the soup in the blender, covering the lid with a towel, so you don’t get burned!!  It’s okay to leave some bigger chunks, but it should be mostly really creamy.

Ethiopian (not) Honey Bread

  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for the second rise
  • 3/4 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp table salt
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 6 tbsp raw agave
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water

Place the rosemary in a small cast iron pan set over medium heat, and toast until fragrant.  Put the flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined.  Add the toasted rosemary, canola oil, agave, and then the water, and let the machine knead the dough for about 5 minutes.  The dough should be very sticky and not entirely floured enough to come away from the bowl.  Don’t worry.

Place the last teaspoon of canola oil in a large bowl, scrape the dough into the oiled boil with a spatula, and then, with oiled hands, roll the dough ball around in the oil until it’s oiled.  Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel, and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours until puffy and doubled in size.

Scrape the dough back into the bowl of the standing mixer, and mix with the dough hook for about 3 minutes.  Place some whole wheat flour on a board, scrape the dough onto the flour, and then generously sprinkle more flour on top of the dough.  Fold the dough over a few times, and then place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, cover with the clean dish towel, and let rise for another 20 minutes or so.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 20 minutes, until deeply golden brown.

Let the bread cool as long as you can resist cutting into it and slathering Earth Balance on it!

New Mexican Hatch Muhammara

Have you ever had muhammara?  It’s a dip like hummus, also from the middle east, but instead of chickpeas and tahini, it’s traditionally a blend of roasted red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses.  YUM.

I was at Whole Foods the other day and saw that they were selling the renowned New Mexican Hatch chiles with the famously short growing season for CHEAP, so I had to buy them, not really knowing what I would do with them.  Upon doing some web research, I quickly learned that they are for roasting.  Apparently, in New Mexico, people buy them by the cases’ load, have them roasted, and do all sorts of cooking, storing, and freezing, so they have them through the winter.

I’d already had it in my mind that I wanted to make muhammara, which, as I said calls for roasted red peppers and a source of heat, normally crushed red peppers, so instead, I roasted the Hatch chiles and made the following VERY HOT and delicious recipe.

New Mexican Hatch Muhammara

  • 12 or so Hatch chiles
  • 3/4 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup walnut oil

Preheat your broiler.  Cover a cookie sheet with a double layer of aluminum foil.  Wash the chiles and place them on the cookie sheet.  Place the chiles on your highest oven rack, as close as possible to the heat source, and roast for about 20 minutes, checking and turning the chiles about every 5 minutes until pretty well blackened.  Remove them from the oven, wrap them in the aluminum foil, and let steam for about 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, peel the skins from the chiles and remove the seeds.

Place roasted, peeled chiles in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients except for the walnut oil, and start the food processor.  Stream in the oil until you reach the desired consistency.  I like mine fairly creamy, like hummus.

We will be enjoying this dip with toasted whole wheat sourdough.

I finally did it!

Here I go!  Day ONE of blogging.  I hope you will enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy writing them – and most importantly – cooking them!  As some of you know, I have a great enthusiasm for cooking anything I can make vegan.  I love a challenge – like making chicken-fried seitan or making cheese danishes.  Sometimes my results are GREAT and sometimes, not so much, but it’s all about the adventure!

The inspiration for starting my blog is Vegan MoFo (veganmofo.com), or the Vegan Month of Food.  I will be blogging mostly every day for the month of September, so stay tuned!