Fake lahmacun

Fake lahmacun

I have mentioned before that I am a member of a bread makers’ group on Facebook. I know. Whatever. Who cares? This is a group, though, of amazing people from all around the world, and I am inspired by so many of them numerous times a day. So last week, a friend posted that he’d made a Turkish kind of pizza called lahmacun, and several of us nerded out on the subject. At the time, I was baking lemon thyme pitas for my client, had just roasted an eggplant and some peppers, and had some cooked chickpeas out. So of courseI made myself some lahmacun.

I swear.  I moaned with EVERY BITE.

Lemon thyme pitas

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Zest of half of a lemon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme


Place flour, yeast, sugar, water, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer, and mix on low for 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium, and mix for another 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, then spray the top of the dough, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, but give it whatever time it needs!

Uncover, add the zest and thyme, and knead on low speed for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Pull off little chunks of dough, about the size of a golf ball, roll in flour, then roll out each ball to a thin disk. Place each disk on a cookie sheet coveted in foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 3 minutes on the lowest rack of the oven, then gently flip over and bake for another 3 minutes.

I made 21 pitas!

Lahmacun for one

  • olive oil for drizzling
  • zaatar, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed with a potato masher
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted eggplant*
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted pepper**
  • kosher salt, to taste

Preheat the broiler and make sure the rack is as close to the top of the oven as possible. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and place your pita on top. Drizzle a little olive oil over the pita, then sprinkle on the zaatar, mashed chickpeas, garlic, eggplant, roasted pepper, and salt.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on, then place under the broiler for just a few minutes, watching closely. Slice into wedges or don’t and get a messy face. The choice is yours. I don’t judge.

*How to roast eggplant – Dice the eggplant into small cubes, about 1/2″ dice, no need to peel. Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle with a little olive oil, and toss with your hands. Place under a preheated broiler for about 8 minutes, then flip. Broil until well browned, but not burned. Test with a fork: it should be soft.

**How to roast peppers – If you like roasted peppers, you will never buy them in a jar again. This is so easy and so delicious. Preheat your broiler and place the rack on the second level below the top of the oven. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on your cookie sheet, and spray with cooking spray. Place your washed peppers (I do 6 at a time) on your cookie sheet, and broil for about 25 minutes, turning about every 5 to 7 minutes, until charred on all sides. Remove from the oven, wrap the peppers tightly with the aluminum foil on which they’re sitting, and let steam for about 20 minutes or so, until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skins off as well as you can, but don’t worry about getting it all off. If you do it under running water, it’s easier, but not necessary.

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It usually starts with bread

Butter rolls and coconut jam

I recently joined a bread bakers’ group on Facebook, and have learned a tremendous amount from the global community that participates. There are people from almost every continent and every region in the world. And the camaraderie, encouragement, and connection in the group is pure magic.

My friend Grace recently posted a beautiful picture of butter rolls: shiny, golden – and you can tell – soft. The thread that followed described southeast Asian cafe culture – the coffee shops are called kopi tiams – and the typical foods eaten at them. Curries with soft buttery rolls. Coconut jam. Lots of eggy things. It all sounded so delicious. And so veganizable.

I created this curry based on a chicken and potato curry stuffing for buns I found, but changed it to be vegan, obviously, and to be eaten in a bowl, rather than stuffed into bread.  You could just eat it over rice or with any kind of bread.  It has a lot of depth and great texture, if I do say so myself.

Indonesian cafe curry

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, plus more as needed
  • 8 oz pkg tempeh, cubed
  • 8 curry leaves, optional
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 12 oz red skinned potatoes, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup veg stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Place a large cast iron pan over slightly hotter than medium heat. Add the peanut oil, then add the tempeh, and saute until browned. Add the curry leaves, if using, and onions, stirring and sauteing until translucent. Add the garlic, and saute for another minute. Place the spices in a small bowl and add about a tablespoon of water to make a paste, stirring well. Push the contents of the pan aside to make a little room for the curry paste, and add the curry paste to the pan to get some direct pan contact for it, sort of toasting/frying it. Then mix the paste up with the rest of the pan’s contents. Add the potatoes, carrots, and veg stock, stirring well. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat to medium-low, and cover. Let simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, when potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the peas to the pan, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until heated through. Serve with soft rolls and coconut jam (recipes below).

Vegan butter rolls (adapted from Grace Chang’s recipe and method)

  • 250 grams bread flour
  • 250 grams white whole wheat flour
  • 15 grams dry soy milk powder
  • 10 grams instant yeast
  • 75 grams sugar
  • 8 grams salt
  • 150 grams plain coconut milk yogurt
  • 250 grams cold water
Place all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the dough hook, mix for one minute on low speed. Add the yogurt and water and mix on low for about five minutes. Turn the speed to medium, and mix for another 7 or 8 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and spread a little oil over the top. Let it rise for about an hour or two until doubled in bulk. Divide the dough into 40-gram pieces, and shape into balls. Let the dough rest on a floured board for about 15 minutes, then place in 9×13″ pan, cover, and let rise for another hour, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to about 390 degrees. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown, and then let cool on a wire rack.

Coconut jam – Philipino style

  • 1 13-oz can coconut cream
  • 1 13-oz can coconut milk
  • 8 oz brown sugar
  • Good pinch of kosher salt

Place ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium-low, and let simmer, stirring regularly, until the color is a dark chocolate brown, 2 to 3 hours. Spread on “butter” rolls.

Pain perdu tropical, No Knead Whole Wheat Sourdough, Brown Sugar

Whatever.  I’m not really so fancy-pants as all that.  I did make French toast for dinner tonight that tasted of somewhere I’ve never been.  And it was GOOD.

I will say this.  You could make this *more* tropical.  I used rice milk as the main liquid in my batter, because I thought it was already going to be on the thicker side, but next time, I think I would use coconut milk and thin it with some pineapple juice.  You could also add shredded coconut to the batter.  They tasted so good, though, that I would say those would enhance, but this French toast is already yummy.

Pain perdu tropical

  • 7 slices whole wheat sourdough (recipe follows)
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (recipe follows)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour

Preheat a large cast iron pan over medium heat.  Mash the banana with a fork in a large bowl.  Add the brown sugar to macerate and make the banana break down a little easier.  Add the extracts, rice milk, olive oil, and nutmeg, and stir and mash until pureed.  Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.  Dunk your slices of bread in the batter until well coated.

Spray the skillet with cooking spray, and place the battered bread into the pan.  Let brown on each side, then set aside.  Serve with maple syrup.  Duh.

 

No-Knead Whole wheat sourdough

I make this bread at least once a week, sometimes twice.  It is so good and SO FREAKING EASY.  You need the simple ingredients, a bowl, and a wooden spoon.  That’s IT.

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 2/3 cups cool water
  • Extra flour for preventing sticking

Place the flours, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the cool water, and stir with a wooden spoon. When the dough is moist and well mixed, place in a large oiled bowl, cover, and place in a warm place for 12 to 18 hours.  Remove the towel, Generously flour a board and dump the dough on top of it.  Generously dust the top of the bread with more flour, then fold over several times.  Cover and let rise another 2 hours.  Preheat the oven and a Dutch oven with a lid to 450 degrees for a half hour.  Dump dough into the preheated Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for another 10 to 15, until crust in golden brown.  Let cool completely before slicing or monkeys will fly out of your behind.

 

Brown Sugar

Okay, it’s super lame that I’m posting this recipe, but most people have never made their own brown sugar, and I’m telling you.  IT IS HIGHLY SUPERIOR to the store bought stuff.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Put ingredients into a large bowl and stir for about 5 minutes or so until the molasses is completely integrated into the sugar.  Store in an airtight container.  Enjoy.

 

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!