Saturday, September 28, 2013

Golden Potato Soup

Pretty "Golden Potato Soup" (page 168) is pleasing to the eye, as well as the palate. What could be more elemental and nourishing than a creamy soup made from the humble potato? In this case, two different varieties of potato, russets and sweet potatoes, combine to give the soup it's lovely golden hue. And there isn't much more to this deceptively simple soup. Sautéed shallots, broth, and a cup of soymilk at the end to give it a dash of creaminess, that's about all there is to it. Add some chopped chives (or green onions if chives aren't available) to each serving. This is a deeply satisfying soup.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when sautéing the shallots. Instead, use sherry, broth, or water as the sauté liquid and/or a nonstick saucepan.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thai Peanut Sauce

"Thai Peanut Sauce" (page 557) is everything you would expect in this all-purpose peanut sauce - spicy, creamy, garlicky, and tangy. Made from simple ingredients (peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, lime, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper), there are no changes necessary to keep this very addictive condiment McDougall friendly. This sauce works well tossed with pasta, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or Chinese dumplings.  
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     No changes necessary! J

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Basic White Bread

Just recently I decided to try the first of the yeasted breads from this cookbook, the "Basic White Bread" (page 393).  My bread baking days go way back. For years I baked the Basic Whole Wheat Bread recipe from the La Leche League cookbook Whole Foods for the Whole Family, published in the 1980's. From that, I graduated to The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which became my bread baking bible for years, and continues to be the last word in whole grain bread baking in my opinion. And although I don't spend a lot of time baking bread from scratch these days, if I do, I will still turn to Laurel's bread book. Once I learned to make a really delightful loaf of 100% whole wheat bread, I found it hard to settle for anything less, so it was difficult for me to accept making this loaf of bread, made from 100% white flour. I decided to compromise, and replaced half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. Technically, this can't be called "Basic White Bread" since I did this, but I couldn't in good conscious do otherwise. I also left out the olive oil, as I have found over the years oil and/or butter is not a necessary ingredient in a homemade loaf of bread.  As the name suggests, this is a very basic recipe, just the very simple ingredients necessary for any loaf of bread: flour, water, yeast, a smidgeon of sugar, and a pinch of salt. If you choose to incorporate whole wheat flour into this loaf, you may want to knead the dough for about 10 minutes instead of 5. Well worth the extra effort! This, like all homemade bread, fills the house with wonderful smells, and tastes like heaven!

"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Substitute at least ½ of the all-purpose (white) flour with whole wheat flour (not whole wheat pastry flour, in this case, which doesn't work well in yeasted breads).
ü Omit the olive oil, no substitutions needed.
ü Use a non-stick loaf pan that does not need to be oiled, such as one made of silicone.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Yet another take on traditional banana bread, "Chocolate Chip Banana Bread" (page 402) takes this dessert bread to new heights. With the addition of chocolate chips, it is downright decadent!  A simple quick-bread, there is really nothing tricky about this recipe and you can have it mixed up and ready to bake in the time it takes to preheat the oven. With 3 bananas in the batter, you shouldn't have any problem substituting the canola oil with apple sauce, as I did (I used a scant ½ cup), which turns out to be a good choice, as this recipe also calls for apple juice as part of the liquid ingredients. Chopped walnuts are stirred into the batter with the chocolate chips for additional flavor and chew. The recipe notes say the leftovers make good French toast, but so far I haven't tried this.

"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Substitute the all-purpose (white) flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

ü Substitute the canola oil with a scant ½ cup of apple sauce.

ü Use a non-stick loaf pan that does not need to be oiled, such as one made of silicone.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Creole Rice & Red Beans

"Creole Rice & Red Beans" (page 272) is a staple dish of Cajon cuisine, and I never tire of this combination of flavors. Sautéed onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic are cooked together with rice, red beans, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, all of which are seasoned with an (optional) hot chili. The recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of long-grain white rice, to be cooked together with all the rest of the ingredients, which includes broth. While this method seems to work okay for white rice, I haven't had good luck trying to cook brown rice this way. For some reason, when I cook brown rice in a pot with any other ingredients other than broth or water, the rice never cooks tender enough, never seems to get "done". I opted to cook the rice separately, and then add it the rest of the ingredients. If you do this, you will need to adjust the amount of broth in the final mix, unless you prefer this dish to be rather saucy (which isn't so bad either!). I also opted to start with just 1 cup of dry brown rice, as I felt 1 ½ cups would yield too much. I didn't bother to drain the canned tomatoes as called for in the recipe; I felt the juice was a nice flavor addition to the dish. Be sure to pass the bottle of Tabasco at the table!
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead, use water, sherry, or broth and/or a non-stick saucepan.

ü  Use brown rice instead of white. See my comments above about cooking it separately.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lemon-Lime Teasecake

One of my favorite vegan cookbook authors is Jo Stepaniak. If you haven't already checked out her multiple cookbooks, or her website, "Grassroots Veganism", I urge you to do so today! One of my favorite recipes from her "Vegan Vittles" cookbook is Lemon Teasecake, developed by acclaimed vegan chef Francis Janes, former owner of Ambrosia, a vegan restaurant in Seattle. I was pleasantly surprised to find a slightly different version of this same dessert here, in this case "Lemon-Lime Teasecake" (page 456). The most amazing thing about this "cheesecake", and what nobody would likely ever guess, is that the main ingredient is cooked millet! Cooked millet has similar properties to cooked polenta, in that it firms up quite nicely after cooling down. In this recipe, the cooked millet is processed in a high speed blender with cashews, lemon and lime juices, agave nectar, vanilla and lemon extract. This mixture is poured into a nutty crust, and allowed to chill for several hours before serving. Be prepared for the most pleasant surprise of your life when you take your first bite, you will be astounded! I like to add a spoonful of cherry pie filling to each slice for a special treat, but you could also just use the slivered almonds as a garnish as suggested in the recipe.

My Notes:
1. Because the crust recipe provided here calls for ¼ cup of canola oil, and I couldn't think of anyway around this, I opted to use another crust recipe I have that is nut based, but without any added oil.
2. In both versions of this recipe the cooking directions call for cooking the millet for 50 minutes. I have never had to cook it this long. Start checking it after 30 minutes. Millet will really stick to your pot if you cook it for too long, or run out of cooking liquid.
3. The filling in this version of the recipe makes about two cups more than would fit in the crust. I poured the extra into a bowl, chilled it, and served it sans crust, like a lemon pudding.

"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Make or buy an oil free crust. Especially good is a graham cracker style crust if you can find or make an oil free version.