Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Big cookies may appeal to some, but I’m a little cookie fan all the way!  Somehow eating many little cookies is far more enjoyable than eating one giant one, after all, who wants to stop at just one?  My daughter Sophia makes these for us regularly, and since it is impossible to stop at just one (or two, or three) she’s doubled the original recipe (and made it vegan) with the hope that there will be a few left to enjoy the next day.

These little gems are crunchy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside.  The oatmeal and peanut butter hold these together even without an egg, and they cook up tender and moist in the center (if yours don’t, cut back on the bake time) without being greasy.  Don’t have egg replacer?  Substitute corn starch and mix it with the water instead.

1 cup margarine, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon  egg replacer mixed with 3 Tablespoons water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together margarine and sugars; add peanut butter, vanilla, and egg replacer, stir until well blended.   Add remaining dry ingredients, mixing until well combined and chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

Use a 1 tablespoon sized ice cream scoop and drop cookie dough on a 9 x 13” cookie sheet.  These cookies do not spread much, so 20 fit on the pan without baking into one another.  Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven until edges start to brown.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet, place on rack and allow to cool completely.

Recipe makes 80 small cookies.

Vegan Pecan Sticky Rolls

Sticky and sweet, loaded with pecans, these rolls are the ultimate comfort food.  Make no mistake, these are packed with fatty goodness, so don’t make them every day, but on special occasions, they sure fit the bill!

These rolls are made the night before and allowed to rise in the refrigerator overnight and then baked the next morning.  This is a big batch of rolls; feel free to cut it in half if you don’t need to feed an army like I usually do.  My pan is a restaurant size 18"x12" but two 9”x13” pans would work if you don’t have a bigger pan.

The Dough
36 ounces flour (approximately 8 cups)
2 ½ teaspoons yeast
½ cup sugar
½ cup margarine, melted
1 teaspoon salt
22-24 ounces liquid, warmed (80 degrees Farenheit), soy/rice milk or water

Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add sugar, margarine, and yeast in the well, sprinkle the salt around the edge.   Slowly pour the liquid into the well with the other ingredients and begin to incorporate them into flour.  Mix them until the dough pulls together and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, approximately 10 minutes.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.  Alternatively the dough can be made far in advance and allowed to rise in the refrigerator until needed.

Sticky Pecan Sauce
1 cup margarine
1 ½  cups brown sugar
2 cups pecans, chopped
In a medium sized saucepan melt the margarine and brown sugar together, whisking until smooth.  Spray the pans intended for baking the rolls with cooking spray.  Pour the sugar sauce into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

The Filling
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans chopped
½ cup margarine, melted
Mix the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and pecans in a bowl with a fork to break up any chunks.  Melt the margarine in the sauce pan and set aside for final assembly. 

The Assembly
Turn dough out onto floured surface and roll into a rectangle approximately 24”x18”.  Pour the melted margarine over the dough and brush it to out evenly to within ½-inch of the edge.  Sprinkle the filling evenly over the margarine.

Begin to roll the dough from the narrow side, so that the finished roll is 24-inches long.  Brush the open edge with water and pinch the seam to seal it well.  Divide the roll in half, cutting it with a sharp knife.  Cut each in half again, leaving four equal length sections approximately 6-inches long.  Divide each quarter into 5 equal pieces and arrange in pan.  Press each roll lightly into the syrup.  Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.  

In the morning, fill a shallow baking dish with warm water and place on the floor of the oven.  Set the oven to 200 degrees.  Once the oven comes up to temperature turn it off immediately and place the cold rolls, plastic wrap removed, in the oven to proof.   The rolls should be double in size from the night before, approximately 30 minutes.  

Remove water pan and rolls from oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes until the syrup is between rolls is bubbly and the tops are a deep golden brown.  Do not undercook the rolls, since the syrup can leave the rolls tasting doughy.  

When done, allow to set for 3-5 minutes, run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen any stuck rolls.  Carefully turn out upside down onto large cutting board or platter.   Be cautious as the sugar syrup is very hot!  Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The PiX FiZ Signature Tofu Sandwich

Tofu, arugula, pickled onion, tahini sauce pita sandwiches.
These tofu sandwiches might just convert even the staunchest meat eaters to soy protein, at least this once!   Each element in the sandwich is essential; providing a delicious variety in complimentary flavor and texture.  The fried tofu firms up in the cooking process, giving it a more substantial meaty texture and the tang of the pickled onion is perfectly set against the peppery arugula, all accented  with the boldness of the tahini enhanced sandwich spread.  

Every part of this recipe can be made ahead, however the tofu benefits the most from an overnight marinade (but it is tasty enough if made in a hurry with no marinade time too.)  Tofu sandwiches travel well if made ahead, wrapped well, and placed in a cooler; making them perfect for any vegan picnic.  If you steal this recipe and serve it in your upscale vegan sandwich shop, that is fine, but you really must keep the name (and tell me all about it!)  

Fried Tofu
2 pounds firm tofu
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil, dried or minced fresh
½ teaspoon cayenne

Drain tofu on paper towels, pressing lightly to remove excess water.  Combine all remaining ingredients in a large Zip-lock bag.  Cut tofu into bite sized cubes.   Add to the Zip-lock, tossing to coat evenly with each addition to ensure cubes do not stick to one another.  Seal bag by lightly pressing out excess air and marinade tofu in refrigerator for as long as time will allow, up to 24 hours.

To fry tofu, pour out Zip-lock ingredients into a large non-stick skillet and set on medium-high heat.  Allow the liquid to come to simmer, arranging tofu in one layer as much as possible, and reduce liquid until absorbed.   Add 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan once the liquid is absorbed and fry the tofu, stirring cubes to evenly brown them on all sides.  If some of the cubes break apart in the cooking process, just scrape the parts off the bottom of the pan and add a little more oil if needed to keep the tofu from sticking.   The tofu is done when the moisture cooks out so that it firms up a bit and develops an even brown, fried appearance.   Allow to cool, best when not eaten hot. 

Pickled Onion
2 large red (white or yellow can also be used) onion, sliced thin
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
pinch red pepper flakes

Place thinly sliced onion in a canning jar or heat resilient bowl.  Combine all ingredients except onion in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions and cover with lid.  Allow to cool to cool prior to refrigeration or use.   Store pickled onions in refrigerator. 

Tahini Sandwich Spread
¾ cup Vegenaise
½ cup Annie’s Naturals Goddess dressing
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup tahini
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate until use. 
Note:  If Annie’s dressing is unavailable in your area, there is an online recipe here that can be used as a substitution.

Assemble the sandwiches on toasted pita bread, placing a small handful of arugula in the center, fried tofu and pickled onions next and enough tahini sandwich spread to make it really messy to eat.  Enjoy!
Recipe makes 6-9 sandwiches.