Friday, March 15, 2013

Banana Cream Pancakes = Vegan Breakfast Goodness!

It seems to me that breakfast is often the most difficult meal for vegans.  Unless you're into lots of bread or smoothies, the options can feel kind of limiting - pretty much every traditional breakfast/brunch menu is heavily dedicated to eggs or pork or cheese...  

What to do when these items don't suit you, and you're not in the mood for a bagel with hummus?

I offer you the banana cream pancake.

Vegan Banana Cream Pancakes
(Adapted from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan)
yield: 10 pancakes

1 1/3 c white whole wheat flour, or gluten free flour blend
1 T baking powder
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t sea salt
1 c coconut milk
1/2 c almond or soy milk (preferably unsweetened)
1 c overripe banana (about 1 large banana), squished
1 t vanilla extract
canola oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil
In a large bowl, add flour and sift in baking powder.  Add nutmeg and salt and stir to combine well.  In a blender combine the milks, banana, and vanilla and blend until very smooth.  Transfer wet mixture to dry mixture and stir gently just until evenly mixed.  (do not overmix!) 

On medium-high, heat a skillet for a few minutes until hot, then reduce heat to medium/medium-low.  Oil the pan generously (or use a non-stick pan), and using a large spoon, scoop batter into pan to form medium sized cakes.  Allow to cook on the first side for several minutes, until small bubbles start to form in the center.  Flip pancakes to lightly brown the other side, for 1-2 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter and serve immediately.

*Things I love about this recipe: there's no added sugar or fats in the batter; it's sweetened by the ripe banana and is super luscious from the coconut milk.  I count this as good-enough justification for topping the cakes with a little extra maple syrup. 
*Things about this recipe that  I wish were different:  these stick to the pan like white on rice unless you use a non-stick surface or a LOT of oil.  Just be forewarned.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Poached Cod with Coconut Broth

Somehow, when I write the actual name of the recipe it sounds much less romantic than "a study in white...blah blah blah." The romantic name prompted so many of you to post and email for a recipe, hopefully the practical name will inspire some of you to actually make it...  This is a simple recipe that I compiled using a few basic techniques married with a typical Thai flavor profile; it's a perfect way to use a few pantry essentials to create a quick after-work supper.

Poached Cod with Coconut Broth
yield: two adult servings

12-14 oz fresh cod/other non-oily white fish, or scallops, cut into two portions
3-4 oz rice vermicelli, blanched until tender and rinsed
1 can coconut milk (I like Chao Koh)
1/2 c light vegetable or chicken broth
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
2" ginger, rinsed and cut into thin coins
2 kaffir lime leaves, bruised -or- zest of 1 lime
one large handful each of green beans and mushrooms - sliced
splash of your favorite high-heat oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly (two if you want a bit more spice)
fish sauce, lime juice, and palm (or brown) sugar to season

Preheat the oven to 400F and bring a small pot of water to boil.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk, broth, and lemongrass/ginger/lime to a simmer and allow to steep until it tastes super flavorful (about half an hour - be careful if you're using zest, you may want to remove it sooner than the rest).  It should be nicely balanced and well falvored, but still delicate.  Strain into another small pot and season to taste with fish sauce and palm sugar.

As the broth is steeping, heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add a touch of oil to the pan, then put in the shallots and cook until wilted.  Add the mushrooms, cook for a few minutes, and then add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender.  

While you are finishing the vegetables and broth, place the fish in an oven-safe dish and cover with boiling water by 2/3.  Add a pinch of salt, cover, and place in the oven.  Check after about 10 minutes, allowing the fish to poach until it is just starting to flake but it still a little firm in the center.

Just before the fish is ready, bring the broth back to a simmer.  Taste to check the fish sauce/sugar balance, and season with the lime juice.  It's best to add lime juice at the end because if you simmer citrus for too long it will get bitter. 

Run some very hot water over the noodles to heat and loosen them up.

Into two deep bowls, divide the still-hot vegetables and top with the rice noodles (to make the noodles pretty, pick up one portion with tongs and then place them directly on top of the veggies while twisting your wrist to create a tight knot).  Set the perfectly cooked fish on top of the noodles and drench with the broth.  Garnish with the jalapeno slices and serve.

Once you get the hang of this recipe, all of the tasks should nest together and it should take no more than 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hazelnut-Coconut Milk Breakfast Quinoa

Sometimes, breakfast just needs a little revamp.  For me, the morning meal usually consists of a green smoothie or maybe an apple with almond butter.  Super exciting, right??  This works great during the summer, but since it can be so cold and soggy here in the winter months, I find myself looking for something warm and comforting.  Since I'm not a bacon and eggs kind of girl and I'm doing my best to not eat waffles every day, I wanted to find an alternative to oatmeal that provides enough protein and textural interest to keep me engaged until lunch.

I came across a post on Food52 that had a listing of five vegan breakfast porridges...that looked like just the solution!!  Out of the five, the quinoa recipe was my favorite -  I changed a bit here and there to suit my taste more.  It's still a bit sweeter than what I usually choose, but hey, live a little!  Full confession time though, one morning I took this with me to my kitchen, only to find that I had forgotten all of the toppings.  So I dumped a bunch of house-made English toffee crumbles on it.  And yes, it was delicious.

Hazelnut-Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 4

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and halved
1 cup quinoa, uncooked, or 3 c left over (in this case, skip the water and just heat in the coconut milk for a few minutes)
1 cup water
1 cup plus 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 T maple syrup
1/4 t. sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
4 pitted dates, chopped into small pieces

Rinse quinoa using a sieve until the rinse water runs clear. Bring the quinoa, maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon, 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup water to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Let simmer until quinoa is fluffy and all liquid has absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). Turn off heat and fluff quinoa gently with a fork. Remove cinnamon stick, and portion into four bowls.  Divide the hazelnuts, dates, and remaining coconut milk to top.

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