28 June 2011

A bite of childhood

After recently expressing a preference for yeast-raised, deep-fried doughnuts--notably, the Hawaiian-style (via Portuguese influence) malasadas I enjoyed during my childhood--a reader showed interest in locating a recipe. Truth be told, I have tried my hand at vegan versions of the traditionally dairy milk- and egg-enriched fritters a few times since the idea first crossed my mind a few years ago, but continually neglected to document the formula. I wrote briefly about an attempt that utilized sourdough starter, but only described it in vague terms. The malasadas with which I am familiar had that slightly tangy twinge that comes from the dough rising in the refrigerator for several hours. I'm tempted to revisit the sourdough method sometime.

In the meantime, I do have a non-sourdough vegan malasada recipe for you all. I adapted it from a recipe my mother always used. I'm not sure of the reference recipe's origins, but a quick online search and consulting several of my mother's crowd-sourced Hawaiian recipe books resulted in basic similarities between multiple versions of this fried treat; all involved dairy milk (either regular or evaporated) and eggs. The dairy milk, of course, was easily swapped with a nondairy counterpart (my go-to is unsweetened almond milk). Because the dough requires yeast for leavening, I assumed the eggs required by most traditional recipes are meant to enrich the dough. I ended up using flax "eggs" (milled flax seed and water) and vegan mayonnaise as a sort of binding-enriching combination. As noted, nondairy yogurt can be substituted for the mayonnaise and although I haven't tried them here, I'm thinking vegan cream cheese or sour cream could work, too; they provide that aforementioned bit of sourness to which I am accustomed with malasadas, while also making the dough a little richer. If you don't feel like using vegan mayo, yogurt, etc., doubling the amount of flax "eggs" works just fine. I also threw in some whole wheat flour to make myself feel a little better about eating fried, sugar-coated dough, but whole wheat does tend to weigh down the doughnuts a bit more so than all-purpose flour; for fluffier, more-like-traditional malasadas, feel free to use only all-purpose flour. These are doughnuts, after all.
Malasadas (printer-friendly version here)
Yields approximately two dozen doughnuts

2 ¼ tsp (one .25-oz package) active dry yeast
1 ¼ c nondairy milk, warmed to slightly above lukewarm (nut-free, if desired)
2/3 c granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice, divided (possibly more for rolling)
2 T milled flax seed
¼ c lukewarm water
¼ c vegan mayonnaise or nondairy yogurt
zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
¼ tsp salt
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour)
Canola oil for deep-frying

Place the warm milk and 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl and mix to dissolve some of the sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the milk mixture and gently stir just to combine. Allow the yeast to proof (approximately five minutes).

In a small bowl, whisk the milled flax seed with the lukewarm water, allowing it to rest until viscous. Stir in vegan mayonnaise and lemon zest. Add to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift the flours and salt. Add to the yeast mixture and stir until well-combined. The dough will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free space to rise until doubled (approximately one hour). Once the dough has doubled, deflate it, then cover the bowl to allow the dough to rise a second time.*

Heat canola oil (enough to fill a pot approximately 2 ½ to 3 inches deep) in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low to medium heat until it reaches 360°F; you want to fry the doughnuts between 350°F and 360°F, so toggle the heat to maintain the appropriate temperature. To make a doughnut, use an ice cream scoop or two large spoons to carefully drop a heaping 2 to 3 tablespoons’ worth of dough into the hot oil. The dough will puff up a bit, so fry just a few doughnuts at a time in order to prevent crowding and drastically dropping the oil temperature. Fry the doughnuts until they begin to just turn golden brown (approximately one minute), flip them over, and allow them to fry until deep golden brown (a few minutes more), flipping again to cook the doughnuts to a uniform color. Do not allow them to become darker (e.g., chestnut brown); at that point, the dough will taste noticeably burnt. Remove the doughnuts to a paper towel-lined tray and allow them to cool slightly.** Carefully roll the hot doughnuts in reserved sugar. They are best enjoyed hot and fresh.

*After the initial rise and deflation, the dough may be stored in a well-covered bowl in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, then fried the next day. Unused dough may also be refrigerated in the same manner for an additional day.
**Once fried, the doughnuts may be frozen and reheated in the oven at another time. Simply allow non-sugar-coated doughnuts to cool completely before storing. After reheating, roll the doughnuts in sugar.
Feel free to play around with the recipe and let me know how it turns out for you! For example, you can get creative with various fillings, although I didn't even know filled malasadas existed until seeing them sold at a mall outpost in Hawaii a few years back. But do try them first with just sugar coating and have a taste of some of my happiest of childhood food memories.

What are some of your favorite foods from childhood?

22 June 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Sugar

Sometimes a lady just needs a little something sweet. "Little," of course, is a subjective term.
Baked doughnuts with Irish "cream" glaze.
Double-time fresh strawberry cake.
Pretzel-topped, chocolate chip brownie with dulce de coco swirl.
You may have noticed that most of what I have posted within the last month or so has consisted of more photos than anything else. I apologize for writing so sparsely (this apology seems to apply to all forms of correspondence lately). But I will post a recipe or two--no joke, they're in the works--as soon as I am able to devote meticulous attention to the task.

Back to sweeter things: What sweet indulgences have you enjoyed lately?

15 June 2011

Recipe Testing: Gluten-Free Goodness

For those of you who may not have heard, Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan is writing an all-vegan, -gluten-free cookbook! I've had the privilege of testing recipes for her, so you can bet that I've been eating pretty well lately. Keep your eyes peeled for this cookbook, because you will be in for a treat--many treats, actually, and of all manners of deliciousness. Want a peek at the goods? Of course you do! Well, my friends, behold the goodness.
Check out my flickr photostream for more test recipe photos, if you can handle the tease. Be sure to also visit Manifest Vegan for even more vegan, gluten-free goodies!

Do tell, dear readers: What have you been eating lately?

13 June 2011

Vegan Food Alphabet

Elisabeth of Czech Vegan (in America) recently posted her version of the "ABCs of food" on her blog. The questionnaire has apparently been bouncing around the food blogs, undoubtedly with many varied and interesting responses. I figured I may as well post some answers of my own, and have done so for you all here.

A is for Avocado: How do you like yours prepared?
I enjoy homemade guacamole as much as the next avocado-lover, but I actually grew up eating avocado as a dessert, the way my Hawaii-raised parents taught me: slightly mashed and blended with brown sugar and milk. I somewhat recently discovered that this assumed-to-be-unnamed concoction is actually a version of a Filipino dessert called avocado con hielo. I've become rather fond of whirling up a drinkable version of it, using avocado, frozen banana, spinach, unsweetened almond milk, a touch of brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
B is for Bread: Regardless of nutrition, what is your favorite type?
A quick glance at this blog should make my love for bread immediately apparent to any onlooker. As a carb junkie for life, I have many favorites, white or whole grain, all yeast-raised--naan, pretzels, rustic loaves, and Hokkaido "milk" bread among them. I make bread from scratch regularly; in fact, I made a batch of crumpets this afternoon. See posts labeled "bread" for a comprehensive look at my bread-baking adventures.
C is for Chocolate: What is your favorite kind currently?
I rarely snack on chocolate bars or candies, but I do enjoy baking with Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips and Valrhona dark chocolate bars.

D is for Doughnuts: You might not currently eat them, but what kind do you fancy?
Despite my general avoidance of fried food, I prefer deep-fried, raised doughnuts, like my vegan version of malasadas.
E is for Eggs: How would you like yours prepared?
Eggs are definitely not vegan, so I don't eat them. I will, however, occasionally enjoy a tofu scramble or tofu-based quiche.

F is for Falafel: Yay or nay?
Falafel is a "yay!" Those chickpea fritters are so delicious. I most recently enjoyed them as "fawaffles," after following No Face Plate's example.
G is for Groceries: Where do you purchase yours?
In terms of staple grocery items,  most of my purchases occur at Trader Joe's and various supermarkets in town. The nearest Whole Foods is nearly a half-hour drive away, so I don't make it there very often, except for certain items that are noticeably more expensive at the natural food store in town. For Asian ingredients, I go to a couple of the Japanese, Korean, and Filipino markets we have in the area. I try to buy fresh, seasonal, locally-grown produce at the farmers' markets whenever possible.

H is for Hot Beverages: What is your favorite hot drink?
I drink copious amounts of tea (roasted and smoked teas are my current favorites, althoughsencha is reliably satisfying) and black coffee daily.

I is for Ice Cream: Pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
This is another difficult choice, because the flavor spectrum for ice cream is so broad. I do, however, adore Luna & Larry's Mint Galactica Coconut Bliss, and imagine it could be made even more amazing when topped with brownie chunks (which I have somehow neglected to try, silly me).

J is for Jams or Jellies: Do you eat them? If so, what kind and flavor?
My mother and I just made a triple batch of strawberry jam to close out the local strawberry season. I was never a huge fan of jams and jellies, but I've warmed to them over the last few years. Blackberry is my favorite, although strawberry, lingonberry, and guava jams are nice, too. I recently tried an all-fruit guava spread that is not too sweet--just to my liking.

K is for Kashi: Name your favorite Kashi product?
The only Kashi product I eat these days is Autumn Wheat cereal, although I do like cinnamon variety as well.

L is for Lunch: What was yours today?
I enjoyed a Tex-Mex-inspired tofu bowl: a combination of marinated tofu, black beans, brown rice, and grilled veggies.

M is for microwave: What is your favorite microwave meal/snack?
I rarely eat microwaved meals. When I am short on time or simply too lazy to cook, my preferred microwavable food is the non-dairy bean and rice burrito by Amy's Kitchen.

N is for nutrients: Do you like carbs, fats, or proteins best?
Carbs are my weakness. I could also get carried away snacking on nuts (healthy fats and protein). I try to avoid excessive fat, due to uncomfortable issues in the past that was in part due to consuming excessively fatty food.
O is for oil: What kind do you like to use?
In general, I use oil sparingly. I prefer coconut oil when baking and walnut or canola oil for stove-top cooking. Sesame and truffle oils are flavorful enhancements to dishes.

P is for protein: How do you get yours?
Most of my protein comes in the form of legumes and lentils. Soy products like tofu and tempeh are also major sources of protein in my diet, as are nuts and seeds. Protein can also be found in smaller amounts in various other whole food items I consume.

Q is for Quaker: How do you like your oats?
I've tried overnight oats a few times, but wasn't particularly enamored with the results. If I'm going to eat oatmeal, I'll take my oats steel-cut or cracked, prepared hot on the stove-top, thank you very much. I'm also rather fond of granola, like these nutty clusters I am obsessed with making.
R is for roasting: What is your favorite thing to roast?
I also love roasting Yukon gold potato wedges or discs with Cajun spices and sweet onion, then tossing them with minced garlic. Roasted satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato) is another delicious snack. (The photo below actually depicts grilled satsumaimo, which is also a wonderful way to enjoy the amplified sweetness of the tuber.)
S is for sandwich: What’s your favorite kind?
Given my addiction to bread, I rarely eat sandwiches, so I can't quite pinpoint a favorite. My most salient recollection of sandwich enjoyment were courtesy of the banh mi from Out the Door and Urban Picnic, respectively.
T is for travel: How do you handle eating while traveling?
Because most of my traveling involves my going to the Bay Area, it's not difficult for me to eat well when out and about--an observation made in my last post--or cook for myself using farmers' market goodies and items purchased from nearby grocery stores. Otherwise, it's typically not too difficult to adapt to whatever surroundings I find myself in, with a little effort; if restaurants aren't accommodating for a vegan diet, I simply refer to snacks I always carry with me and end up pulling together food items from local markets to make more substantial meals.
U is for unique: What are some of the unique foods that you like?
The avocado con hielo I mentioned earlier seems unusual to many people to whom I've mentioned it. (They're reaction is often something to the effect of, "Huh. I've never tried avocado in something sweet." It also looks a bit unappetizing.) Kelp noodles are also a somewhat-new-to-me food that I enjoy.
V is for vitamins: What kind do you take?
I currently don't take vitamin supplements; rather, I try to get my nutrients through well-rounded, healthy eating. I do know I could eat much more nutritiously than I currently do by incorporating more whole foods into my diet and minimizing refined carbohydrates and sugars. I'm working on that slowly.

W is for Wiener schnitzel: Do you ever recreate this traditional Czech food?
I did try to make a vegan version of Wiener schnitzel once, using homemade seitan. I think a couple years have passed since that attempt, so I don't remember much about the experience, except that I was inspired by nostalgia for a summer abroad in Vienna and a general urge to make schnitzel.

X is XRAY: If we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
If it hasn't digested already, you'd likely see a mushy blob consisting of grapes, honeydew melon, and kettle corn.

Y is for Youth: What foods remind you of your childhood?
Steamed rice was and remains a staple in my diet; it accompanied every home-cooked dinner during my childhood, and is still the go-to starch of choice. Various Hawaiian-style dishes remind me of childhood, too (and they always have rice to accompany them); I periodically attempt to veganize them so that I can enjoy versions of the food that defined my non-vegan upbringing.
Z is for Zucchini: How do you prepare it?
I didn't develop a taste for summer squash until after I became vegan. I like it grilled, shredded in zucchini pancakes, or made into zucchini bread.
It seems I still know my ABCs. Won't you sing them along with me?

08 June 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Bay Wandering

While visiting loved ones is always the highlight of my return travels to the Bay, I won't lie; I do look forward to indulging in the various vegan food offerings of the area, too. Here are just a few bites from my recent trip northward, including both old favorites and newly-discovered treats:

Double Chocolate Cookie - Nabolom Bakery.
Gooey Brownie - Nabolom Bakery.
Cinnamon roll - Great Harvest Bread Company.
5-Spice Veggie "Chick-In" Urban Banh Mi (no aioli) - Urban Picnic.
Chili Mango doughnut - Pepples Donuts.
Matcha doughnut - Pepples Donuts.
Philz Coffee doughnut - Pepples Donuts.
What are some of your favorite travel indulgences?

04 June 2011

June Love Drop: The Aubin Family

[Ed.- This post is a message written by J$ and Nate of Love Drop that I've been permitted (and encouraged) to share with you, dear readers. Tune in around the beginning of each month to here about the newest project.]
Hey guys!  The Love Drop  team is at it again! Last month they gave over $9,200 worth of cash, goods and services to their recipient, the Stalnaker family, who had been going through a financially hard time due to the effects of the BP oil spill on the Louisiana economy. The family was in need of a car and the Love Drop team was able to surprise them with one, making it one of the most exciting Love Drops ever.  You can watch how it all went down here. 

This month they rally behind the Aubins - a Michigan mother and her three children who are mourning the death of Keith, husband and father, after his lengthy battle with multiple health problems. Our goal is to raise at least $3,600 to pay the family's rent for three months, which will allow them to focus on what they need to during this time, without fear of losing their home. Additionally, since Keith was an organ donor, he leaves a powerful legacy and the Love Drop team hopes to raise awareness of organ donation this month to honor Keith's memory. Help us make this month special for the Aubins!

Want to help? Here are three ways you can participate:
Give $25 towards rent - Click this link to contribute $25 towards their rent for the next three months - it will relieve so much stress for them.
Give a gift or service - Gift cards are always helpful. Places like Target, Wal-Mart, restaurants, etc. would definitely help them out. Services too - especially those you can offer yourselves, or from your company.
Organ donation - We're giving the Aubins the gift of knowing that the people on our team are organ donors. If you are one now, or pledge to be soon, please tell us so, and we'll relay the total number as a gift at the Drop.

Thanks everyone! We'll let you know how it goes! ~