31 August 2012

Sporadic

Unfortunately for the visual aesthetics of this wee spot in the blog world, my once-diligent tendency to photograph the food I make has become less so. Unlike the relative privacy of cooking at home, cooking at other people's homes doesn't exactly encourage me to start snapping deliberately-arranged shots of dinner, especially when there are hungry bystanders involved. The convenience and regularity of mobile photo-taking and -sharing applications somewhat "normalizes" the situation for me (as I have always felt resistant to taking photos of my plate in public or other-than-the-comfort-of-my-own-kitchen settings. So until I return to my old food blogging habits, readers here may be seeing more of the "recycled Instagram photo" post than I originally intended.

And on to the show...
This cake + sliced almonds.
Spaghetti alla Marinara from Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley.
Brown rice mushroom risotto.
Grandma's turon.
These buns, ready to hit the oven.
What have you been eating lately?

16 August 2012

Thankful Thursday: Three

Today marks Bread Without Butter's third year in existence. This calls for a fresh batch of whole wheat pretzels (adapted quite liberally from this recipe, in case anyone wondered).
Thank you to all of the wonderful readers of this blog, as well as to the fellow vegans, bloggers, cooks, and food enthusiasts who continue to inspire me with your myriad creations!

11 August 2012

Recipe: Chunky Pistachio Oat Cookies

Summer is definitely not the most ideal season for baking; that seemingly simple non-revelation has become obvious lately, as it's difficult to resist the allure of churning out freshly baked goods, even as temperatures officially move beyond uncomfortable. Not using the oven for an entire season is simply unheard of in this house. I've had a couple of birthday care packages to send off this week, which of course requires at least one form of baked treat.

Needless to say, I've continued to do a fair amount of baking--cookies in particular.

As a fan of the ease and versatility of drop cookies, I tend to default to them when thinking of sweets to bake and send off to faraway friends. I had a good amount of roasted, salted pistachios on hand, so in an effort to mix up what has virtually become routine batches of combination chocolate chunk and chip cookies, I threw together a blend of ground and chopped salted nuts, oats, and a few chewy cranberries. Because the resulting batches have been something of a hit, I'm hopeful that my long-distance loved ones will find their cookies just as pleasing. Feel free to bake a batch and judge for yourself.
Chunky Pistachio Oat Cookies (printer-friendly version)
Yields approximately 20 cookies
Gluten-free option*

1 c shelled, roasted, salted pistachios - divided
¾ c rolled oats - divided (*use gluten-free, if desired)
¼ c virgin coconut oil, at room temperature
¼ c unsweetened applesauce
1 T milled flax seed + 3 T warm water, whisked until viscous
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ c light or dark brown sugar
1 ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour (*or gluten-free baking blend)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ c dried, sweetened cranberries
¼ c vegan dark chocolate, chopped
¼ c vegan semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt, for finishing

In a food processor, pulse ½ c pistachios with ¼ c rolled oats until ground. The mixture should have a texture similar to that of coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugar until the mixture is well-combined and looks a bit like thick caramel. Beat in the applesauce, flax mixture, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then add the remaining ½ c rolled oats and ground pistachio/oat mixture, stirring to combine. Fold in the cranberries, chocolate chunks, and chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough until well-chilled.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator to soften slightly as you preheat the oven to 375°F/190C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liners. Scoop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the dough roughly 1 ½ inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly so that they are approximately ¾- to 1-inch high. Bake the dough balls for 8 minutes, until the tops are firm and bottoms are golden-brown. Very lightly sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove them to wire racks to cool.

02 August 2012

Thankful Thursday: July

Simple pleasures--a dip in the cool (if not frigid) Pacific Ocean, a casual bike ride, a homemade meal with a loved one--are helping me to retain a certain level of sanity in this summer heat. I'm certainly thankful for that.
Cheese-less pizza with tomato, fresh white corn, olives, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Watermelon-tequila concoction and grilled pizza dough.
Italian and purple ruffle basil growing in the backyard garden.
Black bean and quinoa patties with kale, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and crispy fried onions.
Apricot frangipane tart.
Homemade vanilla bean ice cream (AKA, "nilli").
Blueberry ginger hand pies.
Pistachio spinach pesto quinoa with sun-dried tomatoes, cannellini beans, mushrooms, and cabbage.
(All photos recycled from Instagram.)

01 August 2012

Recipe: Peanut Butter French Toast

French toast is one of those traditionally non-vegan foods that I once thought would be difficult to reproduce without the eggs and dairy milk upon which the custard base is typically built. A few years into making vegan edibles of many persuasions, I have long realized that it is not only entirely possible to turn out a perfectly delightful batch of French toast. I've also realized that being willing to make key substitutions opens one up to the idea of adding variation, potentially turning something that is perfectly good in its most basic form into something a little special, yet still familiar.


Peanut Butter French Toast is obviously a twist on the classic brunch dish. Like so many good things, this peanut-kissed creation was born one lazy Sunday morning, from a desire for French toast and resourcefulness with the limited ingredients on hand. We had a few slices of homemade whole wheat bread, leftover from a loaf we all but devoured the day before; an errant, semi-filled jar of thick coconut milk; and none of the usual "egg replacers" (e.g., flax seed, pre-mixed starch blends). The attempt that day yielded beautiful, golden-crisp slabs of bread with a tender, peanut- and coconut-flavored bite. Although we used a slurry of whole wheat flour and water as thickener for the first attempt, I've since tried the dish with milled flax seed and water--my preferred binder and egg substitute when it comes to vegan baking (or in this case, pan-frying).
Peanut Butter French Toast (printer-friendly version)
Yields 2 servings
Soy-free; gluten-free optional*

2 T natural peanut butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
1 T milled flax seed, whisked with 3 T warm water, until thickened (may substitute with flour and water)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 T pure maple syrup
¾ c coconut milk
4 slices of stale or lightly toasted bread, each approximately ½-inch thick (*use gluten-free bread, if desired)
1-2 T canola oil, to coat the bottom of a heavy-bottom skillet (such as cast iron)

Powdered sugar and additional maple syrup for serving, optional
Heat a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-low setting.

In a medium-sized, wide-bottomed bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, flax seed mixture, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and coconut milk until evenly distributed. Dip the slices of bread into the wet mixture, one at a time, until each side is coated and some of the mixture has just begun to soak into the bread (a few seconds); this works best if you dip the slices just before you plan to cook them. Place the slices in the hot pan and cook for a few minutes, until firm and golden-brown. Flip the slices and cook the other side until it is also golden brown. Serve hot and enjoy!