Hummus Bulgur Vegan Salad

It has been a hot summer here in the “Land of Enchantment” South-West High-Desert-Edition, a.k.a. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Not wishing to add any heat to the kitchen, we sought out recipes for cool things for lunch and dinner. I had just finished my Vegan Hummus recipe, when my wife said, “How about a Hummus Salad recipe?” to which I replied, “sure.” Thus was born the “Hummus Bulgur Vegan Salad.”

Ingredients:

2 cups sliced baby salad spinach (the triple-pre-washed kind in a plastic tub) sliced to about ¼“width

1 cup Italian parsley (about ½ of a banded bunch), include stems, washed and finely chopped

2 TBs fresh mint, leaves only, washed and finely chopped

1 cup Bulgur, cooked and cooled

1 cup Hummus, chilled

½ cup artichoke hearts or crowns (canned in water, not oil or marinated) sliced about 1/8” thick

20 grape tomatoes sliced in half

Procedure:

[1]   Toss together the sliced spinach, finely chopped parsley, and chopped mint and set out in 1 large bowl

[2]   Set out dishes for the remaining 4 ingredients: Bulgur, Hummus, artichoke hearts or crowns, and grape tomatoes

[3]   Set out two dinner plates.

[4]   Put ½ the greens on each plate and spread into a thin layer.

[5]   Put ½ cup Bulgur on each plate in the center of the greens.

[6]   Put ½ cup Hummus on each plate on top of the Bulgur.

[7]   Put ¼ cup artichoke hearts or crowns on each plate on top of the Hummus.

[8]   Put 20 cherry tomato halves on each plate spread out on the edge of the greens.

[9]   Enjoy!


Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.

Vegan Hummus

For this recipe I modified a Hummus recipe from www.inspiredtaste.net to better suit the way I cook and to better use our trusty old DCL-8Plus Cuisinart food processor.  One thing I discovered a long time ago is that just because the food processor has a bowl that is 4 3/8” deep doesn’t mean you can put liquid into the bowl up to that height. The real limit is the height of the tube in the middle of the bowl that the motor shaft comes up through. For our old DCL-8Plus the real working depth is 1 5/8”.  I have to consider this when doubling a recipe. I fight the temptation to put more liquids into the processor at one time. If need be, I do my processing in smaller batches and save oh so much on clean up time! This recipe was based originally on 1 can of garbanzo beans. In doubling the recipe, I lucked out with more than the 1 5/8” depth because the hummus is fairly thick and viscous.

If you want to be a super-chef you can start with dried garbanzo beans and cook them up yourself. As I often have 4 or more things going on at once, I chose to use canned garbanzo beans for the convenience.

Ingredients:

2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans a.k.a. chickpeas

½ cup lemon juice (save time with the bottled stuff or squeeze 2 lemons)

½ cup tahini (in a can for cost savings)

0 – 2 cloves of garlic (optional, I don’t miss it at all)

4 TBs robusto olive oil

1 – 2 tsp salt (use less if you are on a salt reduced diet)

1 tsp ground cumin

Procedure:

[1]   Open the cans of garbanzo beans and using a fine mesh strainer or colander, pour off (and discard) the canning liquid, thoroughly rinse the beans, and set aside.

[2]   Combine in the processor bowl the lemon juice, tahini, optional garlic (if you are so inclined), olive oil, salt, and cumin. Pulse the processor several times and then remove the bowl top and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Put the top back on and run the processor for 30 seconds to “cream” the ingredients. Once again scrape down the sides and inside of the top.

[3]   Add the rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, replace the top, and process for 1 – 2 minutes or until the hummus is smooth enough to suit your taste. If the hummus is too thick and viscous, add more lemon juice, a tsp at a time with the processor running.

[4]   To this basic recipe you can add 2 TBs roasted and chopped red peppers (if you are using the bottled ones, make sure that they are preserved in water, not oil—rinse and drain before using), or black olives, or capers, or Paprika…

[5]   Enjoy!

 

Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.

Sugar Free Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

We like ice cream. However, here in the desert SW in New Mexico, non-dairy ice cream is a ways off in the future. So we realized that if we couldn’t buy vegan ice cream, we would have to make it ourselves.

After a bit of research, and a few award winning flops, we came up with a recipe to get the basics down about egg replacement and using soy milk. After a few more trial and error batches, we arrived at a good reliable ice cream base. Three pieces of kitchen hardware (h/w) that made a big difference and contributed to our eventual success are: a Stainless Steel 6 Qt. sauce pan with an extra thick and heavy aluminum bottom; a hand-held immersion blender; and a good ice cream machine.

This last piece of h/w is the modern equivalent of the old hand-cranked ice cream “churning” machine: a cedar wooden bucket with a tinned metal drum in the middle that I remember from my childhood. Inside the drum was a two bladed scraper/mixing blade assembly. On top of the drum was a gear head that resembled the rear axle & differential from a model-A Ford. Turning the hand-crank caused the drum to rotate in one direction and the blade assembly to rotate in the opposite, thus mixing and churning up the ice cream mix poured into the drum. For cooling, a slurry of ice chips and “rock salt” was poured into the cedar bucket. The rock salt added to the ice causes a depression of the freezing point thus drawing heat and lowering the temperature from the surrounding area including the ice cream mixture in the inner drum.

Our more modern ice cream machine has a sealed double walled metal jacketed container that will hold about 4 to 6 cups of ice cream mixture. The sealed double walled part of the container encloses a mixture of organic compounds with a freezing point lower than water. By freezing the double walled container overnight, the container will draw heat from the ice cream mix, freezing it solid. But wait, you want ice cream without “ice crystals”, so that is the job of the blade assembly in the middle of the container. (Big fancy machines use a built-in compressor so they are ready to freeze your ice cream at the flip of a switch. The only drawback is that the switch might cost ~$300.)

The most serious error you can make (I am speaking from experience here) is to pour the ice cream base into the frozen container before it is rotating at full speed and has the blade assembly installed. Once that chilled ice cream base hits the frozen wall of the bladeless stationary container you can kiss that batch goodbye.

So we replace the egg custard with a soy milk and cornstarch concoction, carefully simmered until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Note: I am using sucralose based Splenda to sweeten the ice cream (See my previous post on artificial sweeteners.) Aspartame could be used except for the thermal breakdown problem, and this ice cream base recipe requires plenty of simmering and whisking time. You could also try using a Stevia mixture. We tried it once and threw the batch away because of the bitter taste and bitter after-taste. If you are diabetic, be careful to avoid artificial sweeteners with sucrose,  dextrose, or fructose added as filler, and also watch out for the sugar alcohols, like maltitol, sorbitol, and lactitol.

Ingredients:

4 cups (divided) cold soy milk (not the light version)

1 ¾ cups Granulated Splenda or 42 packets of powdered Splenda. Note: 6 packets of powdered Splenda equal ¼ cup granulated Splenda, 24 packets of powdered Splenda equal 1 cup granulated Splenda.

½ tsp salt.

3 ½ TBs cornstarch

2 tsp pure bourbon vanilla extract (Don’t skimp—expensive bourbon vanilla REALLY tastes better!!).

Procedure:

[1]  Approximately 24 hours before you plan to make the ice cream, place the clean and dry double walled container (opening facing upwards) into your freezing compartment, ensuring that it is level! If it is tilted and the refrigerant freezes, it may not rotate smoothly in the machine.

[2]  When you’re ready to make the ice cream, pour ½ cup soy milk into a 2 cup measuring cup (use a glass one so the sides are tall for mixing).

[3]  While whisking the ½ cup soy milk, add the cornstarch to it.

[4]   Pour in the bourbon vanilla extract and whisk to mix thoroughly. Set aside.

[5]   Pour remaining soy milk into the 6 Qt sauce pan.

[6]   Add the Splenda.

[7]   Add the salt.

[8]   Apply medium heat, and constantly whisk until all the Splenda and salt are thoroughly dissolved into the soy milk. Keep on whisking (okay, when I make it, I keep whisking, when my wife makes it, she switches to a wooden spoon) until the mixture is completely simmering. I define completely simmering as small bubbles covering most of the surface. Take care to avoid scorching the mixture. If the whisk sticks, you may have some scorching. If so, lower the heat, and keep on whisking.  Make sure the mixture is completely simmering. This step may take a few minutes, so make sure you won’t be interrupted.

[9]   When the simmering is complete, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk vigorously until the all the cornstarch mixture is incorporated.

[10]  The ice cream base should begin to thicken by now. Take a clean wooden spoon and dip it into the mixture. If it “coats” the back of the wooden spoon, you are almost done. I like to let the coated wooden spoon air dry for a new seconds, and then dip it in a second time. This should produce an area with one coating thickness and an area with two layers of coating.

[11]  Remove the sauce pan from the heat, and using a hot pad, pour the hot ice cream base into a large bowl suitable for    refrigeration. Transfer the ice cream base to the coldest flat region in your refrigerator, and thoroughly chill the base for at least 4 hours.

[12]  When you are ready for the “churning”, remove the bowl with the ice cream base from the refrigerator. If the ice cream base has formed a “skin” on top, use the hand-held immersion blender to “grind up” the skin and thoroughly mix it into the base.

[13]  This paragraph refers to our own ice cream maker. Modify as needed for yours. Remove the clear plastic top and the inside blade assembly from the motor assembly of the ice cream maker. Place the frozen double wall container on top of the motor assembly. Make sure that the container rotates smoothly under power and is in balance. Then replace the blade assembly and the clear plastic top. Re-check that everything rotates smoothly under power and leave the motor turned on.

[14]  Now pour the chilled ice cream base into the double walled container.

[15]  The ice cream base will flow over the blade assembly, which helps break up ice crystals, making a smoother creamy ice cream.

[16]  If you want to add anything to the ice cream, pour it into the rotating container now. We usually add ½ cup dark chocolate chips.

[17]  As the freezing rate depends on many variables I can only make an estimate of the time to freeze. Our machine usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. When the flow over the blade assembly begins to slow and finally halt, turn off the motor.

[18]  Remove the clear plastic top.  Pull the blade assembly partially out of the double wall container, and using a rubber spatula, scrape the ice cream down off of the blade assembly into the freezing container. Set the cleaned blade assembly to one side. Using the rubber spatula remove the ice cream into a smaller containers suitable for freezing and/or serving. The ice cream should be equally divided among these containers. The containers are placed back in the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Minor revision 09-04-2014

Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.

Artificial Sweeteners

You may have been wondering where I have been and how come my blog has not been growing. True, my wife and I did take a couple of weeks off to visit our son in the San Francisco Bay Area. While there I had my pacemaker changed out for a new one with a fully charged battery and all the latest s/w & h/w bells and whistles. So, what have I NOT been writing about?…Artificial Sweeteners!

On the artificial sweetener front…I have been stuck in a plethora of factoids trying to see my way clear for several weeks. My basic concern is over the health effects of artificial sweeteners based on Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame (Equal), Stevia (Stevia in the Raw, Truvia, etc.), and Xylitol.

I am not going to get embroiled in the questions about the safety of any of the artificial sweeteners here on Diabetic and Vegan. The research I did convinced me that I’d need advanced degrees I don’t have in order to evaluate all the conflicting information about artificial sweeteners. It does seem important to keep in mind, when reading about artificial sweeteners, that the stakes are extremely high: one estimate is the global non-sugar sweeteners market was at $9.3 billion in 2011, and will be at a projected $9.9 billion by 2016.

I have tried the Stevia based products and find them to have a slightly unpleasant aftertaste. For baking and cooking, Aspartame is out because it is not heat stable. It is excellent for non-heated applications, unless like my wife, it gives one a headache (also there is a very serious side effect for persons with phenylketonuria if they consume aspartame). Since I am diabetic, the artificial sweeteners blended with sucrose (such as Truvia) are out for me. That leaves Splenda for use in recipes that require sweetener in which the food will be heated.

My wife and I use a lot of Splenda in packets. She asked me how many packets of Splenda per day one can safely consume. In 1998, the FDA set the ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) for sucralose at 5 mg per kg of body weight per day. So take your weight in lb, divide by 2.2 & get weight in kg. Multiply weight in kg by 5 to get the mg of sucralose it’s safe to consume per day. Now you say, “But I want to know how many packets of Splenda can I use?” For that you need to know that there are 11.9 mg of sucralose in each Splenda packet.  For those who “do the math” and those who “don’t do the math”, it goes like this:

Start with your weight in pounds.
Divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.
Multiply by 5 to get the amount of sucralose per day in milligrams
Divide by 11.9 to get the number of Splenda packets per day.

So for me it would be:

280 lbs
280/2.2 = 127 kgs
127 x 5 = 635 mg sucralose per day
635/11.9 = 53 packets of Splenda per day

So on to the recipes!

 

Basic Wholly Wheat Pizza Dough

My wife wanted me to try a recipe for a part-whole-wheat pizza crust.  So we pulled out the manual for our 30 year-old Cuisinart DLC-8 Plus food processor and started with their basic pizza crust recipe and adjusted the flour to include 1/3 whole wheat and 2/3 unbleached all-purpose white flour. The result was a pleasing part-whole-wheat pizza dough that had good mechanical (i.e., roll-ability) character with a slight graham cracker taste.

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar (to feed the yeast…no substitutes)

½ cup + 2 TBs warm water (105 o F to 120 o F, I used full hot from the kitchen tap)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup + 2 TBs whole wheat flour

¾ tsp salt

2 tsp Extra Virgin Robusta Olive Oil

1½ TBs cornmeal for the pan

[1]    Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water, and let stand 10 minutes. While you wait for the yeast to do its thing, turn on   your oven to 425 o F.

[2]    Place the plastic work bowl in position on the processor base, and insert the metal blade.

[3]    Combine unbleached all-purpose flour + whole wheat flour + salt in the processor work bowl.

[4]    Pulse the processor a few times to mix the dry ingredients.

[5]    When the yeast mixture is ready, pour it into the processor bowl.

[6]    Run the processor for about 45 seconds or until the dough begins to pull away from processor wall.

[7]    Now add the olive oil to the processor bowl and continue processing for 60 seconds longer. NOTE: If the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add more flour, 1 TBs at a time, processing for 10 seconds after each addition, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and makes a soft but solid ball.

[8]    Place the dough on a floured work surface. Roll the dough ball into a circle, rotating and turning the dough often and using enough additional flour so the         dough does not stick. If the dough resists rolling, let it rest for a few minutes and try again. Roll the dough into one 15” or two 10” diameter circles.

[9]    Oil the pan(s) lightly and sprinkle with cornmeal. Alternately, use a sheet of Silpat with no oil. Transfer the dough circle(s) from your work surface to the prepared cooking surface(s) as follows: fold the dough circle(s) loosely in half, and then loosely in half again. Position the point at the center of the pan and gently unfold the crust(s).

[10]  Bake the dough for 6 minutes at 425 o F. This will provide a crisp pizza crust. If the dough puffs up in a few places, you can either “pop” the bubbles of steam with a long tined fork and continue baking, or wait until the 6 minutes is up. Remove the baking pan(s) with the crust and, if there are still bubbles in the crust, press down on the crust with several layers of clean dish towels, being careful to avoid the steam venting which will burn.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.

Tempeh Based Vegan Pizza

Years ago we fell into the habit of eating pizza for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Occasionally we might slip the pizza nights to Saturday and Sunday. Of course those are also Bollywood movie nights (DVDs or streaming downloads). We scoped out the available pizza sources when we moved to Las Cruces. We settled on Zeffiro’s by the NMSU campus as providing the best pizzas and calzones, to a large extent because of their superior pizza crust dough. When we decided to switch to a vegan diet, I talked the folks at Zeffiro’s into selling me just the pizza dough balls. Then I roll them out at home.

This recipe will serve 3 – 4, depending on the diameter of pizza crust, the number of toppings you put on it, and how hungry you are!

First, some thoughts about the pizza crust: as I mentioned above, some pizza establishments will sell dough balls or even roll out the dough for you. These are a great choice for the pizza crust if they are vegan. Your local grocery store may have chilled dough pizza crusts and possibly frozen ones. Again, a great choice, if they are vegan.

[If you know of a really good vegan pizza crust recipe and would like to share it with yours truly, I will be pleased to try it and post your recipe, the results of testing it, along with the ownership of the recipe, right here!]

Second, some notes about using tempeh as a pizza topping. Tempeh is the major source of protein for this vegan pizza. The 3 grain tempeh I use has 16 g of protein per 3 oz serving, or 42.6 g of protein per package. Figuring that I spread the tempeh out evenly over the pizza, that gives 21.3 g of protein for each of 2 servings (½ of the pizza each), or 14.2 g of protein for 3 servings (1/3 of the pizza each), or 10.7 g of protein for each of 4 servings (¼ of the pizza each).  I look upon the tempeh as a vegan substitute for Italian sausage, salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, or hamburger pizza toppings. The Italian marinade for the tempeh helps with this substitution.

Ingredients:

Pizza Crust

Pizza Sauce

1 package (8 oz) 3-Grain Tempeh

Italian marinade

Possible Topping: finely diced red bell pepper, about 1 cup

Possible Topping: thinly sliced mushrooms, about 1 cup (sauté them to avoid soggy crusts, as mushrooms give off a lot of water when cooked).

Possible Topping: sliced artichokes heart (bottled or canned in water, not oil)

Possible Topping: sliced olives (black and/or green; drained)

Vegan shredded Mozzarella cheese, amount is your choice

Vegan powdered Parmesan cheese, amount is your choice

[1]    Begin by turning on your oven to the recommended temperature for your pizza crust.  I use 450 F for my crusts in my oven.

[2]    Remove the packaging from the tempeh. Then cut up the block of tempeh for the pizza topping. Here is how I do it:

[2.1] The tempeh I have been using comes in the form of a block or loaf ~8” long by ~2½” wide by ~¾“ thick. I slice across the tempeh loaf to make slices that are ~2½“ long x ~¾“ tall x ~1/8” thick. Try to make the slices all about 1/8” thick (just remember this is not supposed to be “Rocket Science”, so “~” and/or “about” are fine).

[2.2] After all the loaf is sliced, I stack the slices and cut them in half giving me twice the number of slices that are ~1¼“ long.

[3]    Poach the tempeh and drain the warm slices in a strainer or a fine sieve.

[4]    Place the warm tempeh slices in a 9” x 9” x 3” glass dish, and cover with the Italian marinade. The length of time for marinating the tempeh is more a matter of preference and how long you are willing to wait. Usually I am in a rush to get the pizza ready to make sure we have enough time to watch a Hindi or Bollywood film, so the marinating step often gets cut short, but try for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or 2 hours in the refrigerator.

[5]    After your marinating time is up, remove the tempeh from the Italian marinade and drain the slices in a strainer or a fine sieve.

[6]    Prepare your crust. Use a light spritz of cooking oil spray on the cookie sheet or pizza pan. Then carefully transfer the pizza crust onto the lightly oiled sheet or pan. If you have a sheet of Silpat, you can use that in place of any cooking spray. However, you must remove the Silpat sheet from under the pizza before you cut it for serving or you will wreck your Silpat!

[7]    Now for the Sauce!  If the sauce is at room temperature, the pizza will bake a little faster (same for room temperature crust). I use a large soup spoon to ladle the sauce onto the pizza crust, and the back of the spoon to spread the sauce around. If the pizza crust has a rim around it, spread your sauce right up to the rim. Try for a uniformly thick layer of pizza sauce all around.

[8]    Now to add the drained marinated tempeh. Here is how I do it: Being a former Aerospace Systems Engineer, I get a little compulsive about spatial layout,…I like to think of an “X-Y grid”, and start laying down the tempeh pieces from the middle of the “X” and “Y” axes.  My wife, an accomplished data base systems programmer, prefers to think of this as a table of rows and columns with each row-column intersection having a piece of tempeh on it. I push the tempeh pieces down into the pizza sauce. This makes cutting the baked pizza into wedges much easier. After the “X – Y” axes or row-column interactions have the tempeh on them, continue adding tempeh pieces to fill in the rest of the pizza crust. Any left-over tempeh can be added on top of the first layer in a random pattern.

[9]    The next layers are your toppings of choice.

[10]  Last is a thinly applied layer of vegan shredded Mozzarella cheese, and if you desire dust the pizza with some vegan Parmesan cheese.

[11]  Bake your creation at the recommended temperature and time for your crust. Be sure to factor in your experience of baking in your own oven and how crispy you prefer your pizza crust!

[12]  Enjoy!                       As Julia Child often said,

“…Learn how to cook—try new recipes,                                                                           learn from your mistakes,                                                                                             BE FEARLESS,                                                                                             and above all have FUN.”

 

Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.

Italian Marinade

1 cup Vegetable Broth (1 cup hot water + 1 tsp Vegetable base)

½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon Reduction

2 TBs Tamari or Soy Sauce

2 TBs Extra Virgin “Robusta” Olive Oil

½ tsp garlic powder

4 tsp “Robusta” Italian seasoning blend (salad dressing mix)

4 tsp dried Oregano

2 tsp onion powder

½ tsp salt

 

[1]   Pour all the ingredients into a 6” deep bowl or a 64 oz measuring cup.

[2]   Using an immersion hand blender, whip together the ingredients.

[3]   If made ahead, it can be stored (covered) in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Copyright © 2014 Michael E Morrill All Rights Reserved.