Recipe Roundup: Vegan Mac ‘n’ “Cheese”

Two recipes to share. Both vegan versions of mac ‘n’ cheese. Not being a vegan, I always find vegan mac and cheese knock-offs a little disappointing. But both of these are worth a try – they make for a satisfying meal, and, well, let’s just say they’re a lot better for you than actual mac ‘n’ cheese. Both require a food processor, so sorry to those of you without one.

The first, I haven’t made for awhile, so I’ll just mention it briefly: Extra Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese from  One Green Planet. The advantage of this one over the recipe below is that it’s a little easier and a little healthier. But both are worth a try.

The second, which I made for the first time last night:  Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease from My New Roots.

Comments/additions/corrections re the recipe:

  • This recipe can easily be made ahead of time and warmed up for dinner. That’s what I did, anyways – all the prep work in the morning, and I had someone else warm it up for 20 minutes at 350 degrees just before dinner. Worked great.
  • When it comes to roasting the squash, skip the work of peeling and cubing squash. Just slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, shake on some salt and grind some pepper, smush in some garlic from the press, and drizzle on some oil. Put on a baking sheet (“flesh” side down) and bake at 400 degrees for … um, awhile? 45 minutes – 1 hour? until it’s soft, in other words – try poking it with a fork to tell. You can’t really overcook it, as far as I’m concerned. You can burn it though, so check it once in awhile. If things are getting crispy, throw 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup water on the pan with the squash. Then, when you’re ready for the food processor, scoop out the squash with a spoon.
  • I cooked some navy beans the night before and substituted those for the butter beans. For help cooking your own beans [easy! and so cheap!], see these instructions.
  • I found that my food processor had some difficulty with the squash and beans, so I added a little milk to help things along. You may find that you need to do the same.
  • Re the sunflower seeds: I used roasted and salted seeds, which saved me the work of toasting/roasting the seeds. However, if you use roasted & salted sunflower seeds, reduce the salt in the topping. Try 1/4 tspn sea salt instead.
  • I made this for non-vegans, and since we didn’t have coconut oil around, I just used plain old butter for the crumble topping. Worked really well.
  • I noticed in the comments that most people had extra “squash sauce.” I decided to compensate by making extra pasta. I used about 5 cups of whole wheat pasta, and this seemed to fit well with the amount of sauce I had. However, we had TONS of casserole. Five of us ate only half of it. Yummy leftovers, though!
  • As Sarah @ My New Roots notes, it’s easy to make this gluten free — just use gluten free pasta.
  • I decided to add some green to this dish: I finely chopped and then sauteed some kale and stirred that in. You might decide to do this too, if you’re looking for some extra veggies, but it’s not a deal-breaker by any means.
  • The recipe calls for 2-3 cups of milk. I only used 1.5-2 cups of milk. Just a heads up.

   squash     more squash

Feta Cheese

Day one is getting all wild! Already on to cheese. In other words: hey, in the bank of photos + recipes I already have … feta cheese! Why not?

And indeed, why not?

Sure, cheese is a little fussy. But it’s just so fun. This isn’t the kind of recipe that will become a staple in your life. But you don’t have to make cheese every weekend in order to make it and enjoy making it and enjoy eating it at least once. So onward to feta cheese!

feta

This recipe is for mild feta cheese, note, and doesn’t use the brine solution traditional feta cheese does.

1 gal goat’s milk (or sheep’s milk, and even (raw) cow’s milk)
1/4 C. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. Liquid rennet
1/4 C. cool water
Non-iodized salt

Warm the milk to 86. Add 1/4 C. buttermilk and stir well. Let milk set for 1 hour to ripen. Add 1/2 tsp. rennet to the 1/4 cup cool water, then add to milk. Stir gently for 1 minute. Cover and allow to set another hour.

Cut the curds into 1/2 inch cubes. (We use a knife and then a bent clothes hanger — you can simply insert the hanger into the settled milk/cheese about 1/2 inch and spin, then repeat. Then the knife follows, obviously.) Allow the cheese to rest for about 5 min. Stir gently for 15 min., keeping curds at 86 degree. (So… alternate between low/off or use simmer. It will depend on your stove.)

Then, pour the curds into colander lined with cheesecloth. (We use an old pillowcase instead. Generally any fabric that’s CLEAN and sufficiently permeable will do. But you should be able to find cheese cloth easily at your local hardware store.) Tie up the bag of curds (we tie it to a broom between two chairs) and hang to drain for 4-6 hours, with a large bowl/pot/bucket underneath to catch the whey.

After the four to six hours:
Slice the curd ball in half. Sprinkle the hunks of cheese with 4-5 tablespoons of coarse salt. Place slices into a dish, cover with a towel and let stand at room temp. for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, salt all surfaces of the cheese again and let it rest at room temperature for 2 more hours. Place cheese in a covered container, place in fridge and allow to age for 5-7 days. Use within 2 weeks, or wrap and freeze.

I love feta cheese marinated, and to do that: get yourself a large supply of jars and lids. Break the cheese into ~1 inch pieces. In the jar layer herbs, cheese, etc. until full. Then cover the cheese and herbs with olive oil. The marinated feta should then go on a shelf – as long as the cheese is covered with oil it will not need refrigeration. Flavor improves with age. Eat plain, on salads, on pizza or foccacia, etc.
Our favorite herbs: Rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano (with large slices of garlic cloves.)
Other herbs: Bay leaves, fennel, hot peppers, marjoram, onion, peppercorns, sun dried tomatoes

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Pulling from the Flickr archives — simple cinnamon swirl bread I only make this when I have extra pizza dough, but, well, pizza dough is just plain white bread (or plain wheat bread), the way I make it. (The lesson: never make one loaf of bread. You need at least one for the freezer and at least one to give away.) Made with extra focaccia dough. (Which is essentially plain white bread) In spite of this, I’ll give you the recipe for just one loaf.

  • Dissolve 1 Tablespoon yeast in 1 cup warm (not hot, warm) water
  • When the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes), add a splash of oil (1 Tbspn., I guess), 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Then add flour (white, ideally hi-gluten, although you could easily throw at least a cup of whole wheat flour in this). Add flour until the gooey mess starts to look like dough, something that could be coaxed into forming a ball.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes. (No! Don’t panic. You can knead. See this video, if you need some guidance.)
  • Allow the dough to rise until it doubles, approximately 1/2 – 1 hour. (Hint: as long as it rises enough, it doesn’t really matter if it rises extra. So you can feel free to disappear for an hour or so. I guess you should cover the dough with a towel, though.)
  • Punch down your puffy dough and lightly flour a work surface. Get a rolling pin and roll out the dough until it’s as long as your bread pan. It doesn’t really matter how wide your dough is as long as it’s approximately 1 cm. thick. (Dough being fussy? Hint: when working with bread dough, it’s best to let the dough sit for a few minutes after trying to roll it. So, roll, sit, roll, sit, roll. It probably won’t cooperate without a little breather between rollings.)
  • Sprinkle the dough generously with brown sugar. Shake on some cinnamon.
  • OR: cheese version! Sprinkle grated cheese, or spread a cheese spread. If you’re doing this, herbs and/or sea salt would be great too!
  • Carefully roll the dough up. Tuck/pull the ends over so that the sugar/cheese won’t spill out. Put the “loaf” into an oiled loaf pan.
  • Turn on your oven to 350 degrees. Let the loaf rise for 20 minutes or so while the over heats up.
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until the loaf is lightly browned. (Hint: tip the loaf out of the pan and tap/knock on the bottom. If the bread sounds “hollow,” the loaf is done.
  • Cool … AND EAT, DUH.

The first post: scones

Almost three years ago, when I was in Oxford, my roommate and I learned to love scones. Mostly we bought our own scones from Tesco and had them with clotted cream and tea as an afternoon study break, but a few times we splurged and went out for cream tea. See beautiful spread in photo below: *cue swoon*

https://scontent-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfa1/v/t1.0-9/208995_10151012886467696_139699082_n.jpg?oh=0cdafe94073ea1526f1fc8453fa852cf&oe=5581F3A5

Anyways, when I left Oxford, I was in a serious scone funk. I tried a few recipes from cookbooks, but I was never fully satisfied. My junior dean (RA) suggested that I just try her basic scone template, and despite my skepticism (sorry Subiksha!) I’ve been making scones her way ever since.

If you are looking for really sweet scones, or crumbly scones, this recipe is not for you. In many ways, this scone recipe is just a biscuit. A breakfast biscuit, I guess. They’re not that sweet. (You could always add sugar!) They’re not that pretty. (Although I have made them in heart shapes for Valentine’s day.) But, it’s a super simple way to do scones. And a bonus! You can easily freeze the scones, which is great when you’re cooking for one: make a full batch, form them into scones, bake however many you want right at the moment, throw the rest in the freezer (on a tray lined with parchment paper), and pop them into a bag when they’re fully frozen. (A few hours later.) Then, when you’re ready for fresh scones: butter a baking sheet, pop your scones on the sheet, and stick them in the over while it pre-heats. How long will they take to cook? 20-30 minutes, maybe? (Confession: I don’t really know.) A little longer than usual, I guess, but when you include the thaw time during the oven preheating it’s not bad.

On to the recipe. You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose or while pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably pastry)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3-1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup fruit (chopped cherries are great, chopped canned peaches too, or dried fruit)

1. Measure flours, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. [Oh, and preheat the oven to 350.]

2. Cut butter into slices with a knife, then use a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour.

(Huh, you say? See this video.)

3. Add the fruit of choice into the bowl.

4. Then add the milk. If you’re using a wet fruit (i.e. canned peaches), start with less milk rather than more. (And, if you’re using canned fruit with juice, feel free to use the juice in place of some of the milk. Mix in and maybe add more milk. You need enough liquid to get a sticky dough that will hold together and form scone shaped lumps, but not a wet dough.

5. This should be enough for 12 medium/large scones. I form scones by setting clumps of dough on a pan lined with parchment pepper. If you want pretty scones … I’m afraid I’m not well-positioned to help you.

6. Bake any scones you want right now and freeze the rest for later. Bake 15-25 minutes until scones are golden brown. They’re best if you eat them pretty soon.

Notes:

Vegans, it’s easy to substitute soy/other milk and vegan butter! I’ve tried this with success.

If you want more whole wheat, you should be able to fiddle with the flours. Same goes for if you want less whole wheat.