Spiced Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies (of enduring tastiness)

For a long time I made my grandmother’s recipe for oatmeal cookies.  Recently I started wanting crispier cookies and then we tried this vegan experiment which demanded finding a different recipe.

This recipe is almost certainly a lingering winner.  I am even experimenting with a protein-like bar variation.

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups quick cooking or rolled oatmeal
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together the margarine and sugars until smooth. Add vanilla and soy milk and mix well.

Add flour, baking soda and spices until well mixed, then stir in oats and cranberries.

Spoon 1 1/2 inch balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until done.

But, of course, I’m not posting here just because I like to use copy/paste.  My first modification to this was to find a way to increase the crispiness.  I tried baking for 20 minutes and that didn’t do it.  My attempt to bake for 25 minutes failed due to “I’ll remember” as apposed to using a timer… oops.  What I also did on that attempt was use vegetable oil instead of margarine — which I think helped.  The cookies did come out crispy, but some were a tad scorched.  I do also notice a huge difference depending on the pan used… so, as they say, ymmv.

My next, measured, test will be to follow the same second modification but to definitely time them for 25 minutes.  There is a chance I cooked them for 30 minutes which is why they were overly crisp, though still edible.

Protein Bar Attempt #1

This is a relatively easy variation.  Changes and additions were…

  • +1 cup flour (so, 2 cups)
  • 2oz (basically, two servings) protein powder of choice (mine was one soy, one rice)
  • +1/2 cup soy milk (so 1 cup)
  • Optionally, replace cranberries with another berry mix like an anti-oxidant mix

I then spread this out on a cookie sheet to get it as flat as possible.  Bake the same way.

Results:  It was edible, in a good way.  It wasn’t as dense as I wanted nor as protein-like.  It was also more moist than I inteded.

Next time:  an additional scoop of protein, 1/2c less flour (so 1-1/2c), and +5 minutes cook time.

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Ambush of Spices Chick-Pea Stew

I learned a lesson recently that is very important:  no two powdered cinnamons are created equally.  Some are bland and cardboard-like and others can almost light my mouth on fire.  This (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-chickpea-stew-recipe.html) recipe could vary wildly depending on what kind of cinnamon was used.  But that’s not the only ambush — for me, the ambush was the lack of spices listed in the ingredients list.  Once again there is much importance for a Kitchen Kleric to read an entire spell — you don’t want to invoke the Kooking Kthulhu because you trip up half-way through a recipe.

  • 2T ground cinnamon
  • 2T ground cumin
  • 2T ground corriander
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. (200g) carrots, halved and coarsely chopped (about 4 … ish)
  • 4 oz. (100g) sweetcorn (1 cup)
  • 8 oz. (200g) courgettes (zucchini)
  • 8 oz. (200g) chick-peas, cooked (or 2 tins of pre-cooked chick-peas)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp. tomato purée

Mix dry spices.  Heat 2T olive oil and saute onion and carrots for 5-10 minutes.  Stir in dry spices.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in sweetcorn, courgettes, chick-peas, water, tomato purée.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Paella — but you can call me Goulash

When I was a kid, a family friend once entered the room with a bowl of some sort of food.  When I asked what it was he gave me a sinister look and declared “Goulash…”.  I’ve since looked up goulash, but whenever I see a mixture of stuff that is tomato-rich, I think of him.

I think this (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-paella-recipe.html) was one of the first vegan recipes I made from this book.  It is good enough to repeat and I think the presence of the cashews makes a nice crunch and adds a good flavor.  This was the amusing recipe I was thinking of that lists spices in the directions that aren’t in the ingredients list and the ingredients were very out of order.  I have fixed that below.

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • 12 oz. (300g) brown rice (1 cup)
  • 3 cups (800ml) of vegetable stock
  • 6 fl.oz. (150ml) dry white wine (or substitute with 1 tbsp vinegar)
  • 1 can (454g) chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2t tarragon
  • 1t basil
  • 1t oregano
  • 1T tomato puree
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 8 oz. (200g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 oz. (50g) mange tout [1] topped and tailed
  • 4 oz. (100g) frozen peas
  • 2 oz. (50g) broken cashew nuts (about 1/2 cup)

In a large, heavy saucepan saute the onion in 4T olive oil.  Add chili powder and the rice and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add vegetable stock, wine, tomatoes, tarragon, basil, oregano, tomato puree, . Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add peppers, celery, mushrooms, mange tout and cook for another 30 minutes until the rice is cooked. Add peas, cashew nuts, salt and pepper. Heat through until peas are ready and serve.

[1] The other fun I had was “mange tout”.  Being silly I wondered “what’s a mangy toot?”  It’s unripened pea pods for the not French among us.

Maybe I Can Make This Better Yellow Split Pea Dahl

This recipe (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-dahl-recipe.html) isn’t quite a failure, but I usually really like dahl.  So what went wrong?  The Kooking Kleric went wrong, that’s what.  When composing your special entree golem, using the right ingredients is so important that if you don’t you could end up with a puddle of yellow-brown stuff (or Cthulhu) instead of what you expected.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit some of the substitutions I made, but let others learn from my mistakes (or missing limbs of my pride).

  • I ran out of cumin, so compensated with more garam masala — mistake.
  • I used canned chili peppers which, unbeknownst to me, had been rendered impotent — mistake.
  • The recipe did not call for onion — and it would be much improved by one.
  • It is not a crime to use salt to liven things up — and I should have.

So here is the recipe as it should be, at least according to this Kitchen Kleric.

  • 8 oz. yellow split peas  (soaked overnight — that’s 12 hours)
  • Dried chilli (or 1/8t cayenne pepper / chili powder)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice (maybe even 1T)
  • (1 tsp. salt)

Soak the split peas overnight. Boil them for one hour in fresh water (about 6 cups).  Drain and rinse.

If you have the right ingredients… Heat 1T (ish) Olive Oil in a small, heavy pan.  Add a small piece of chilli and fry (printed book says “until blackened”… not sure about that, so let’s say “very well”).  Add the cumin seeds and fry.  Add this mixture to the cooked split peas.  Also add the mustard, garam masala and turmeric.  Boil until the lentils are soft (about 30 minutes).  Add lemon juice.

But this is how I’m likely to make it… Add the mustard, garam masala, turmeric, red pepper (or chili powder), ground cumin, and salt to cooked peas.  Add just enough water to cover the lentils, but not more. Boil until the lentils are soft (about 30 minutes).  Add lemon juice.

I would try this again both with the right ingredients as well as my substitutions.

Non-Loaf Vegan Nut Roast

While I based this recipe very heavily on this (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-nutroast-recipe.html), I am going to write it according to the minor changes I made.  The printed version is a little funnier because it reads “bread made into crumbs” while the online recipe reads simply “breadcrumbs”.  Since I make a fair amount of bread, I used actual crumbed bread.  I think the various chunks of bread provided a more interesting texture than if I had used packaged breadcrumbs.  Of course, with the latter it is also difficult to tell if they are truly vegan.

  • 1t olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped small (but not diced)
  • 1 grated carrot (I shredded it with a peeler)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2oz. sliced mushrooms, chopped — about 1/4 cup
  • 8 oz. chopped mixed nuts — about 1 cup
  • 1 oz. (25g) wheat flour — about 4t (I’ll confirm later and update)
  • 5 fl. oz. (125ml) vegetable stock
  • 2oz. (50g) breadcrumbs — about 1/4c
  • 1T Mixed herbs — I used rosemary, sage, and basil at 1t each
  • 1/2t salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4t pepper (or to taste)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190 °C / 375 °F.

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until translucent (5-10 minutes). Add pepper, celery and mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes — only trying to bring them up to temperature. Add the grated carrot and saute for one more minute. Remove from the heat, add the flour and stir. Add vegetable stock, nuts, breadcrumbs, mixed herbs and a little salt and pepper, and mix well. Grease the inside of a loaf tin. Put the mixture into the tin, pressing it down with a spoon. Bake for 40 minutes.

As with so many adventures, my very first step (bite, in this case) resulted in a “this isn’t what I bargained for”.  For some reason, I was expecting something more like a “meat loaf” from this, but it was nothing like it.  This was a “roasted nut casserole”.  I think the next time I will subject the nuts and mushrooms to a joy ride in the Machine of Whirling Blades to get a more granular texture out of them.  Perhaps that would help it be more “loafy” in texture.  An Ooze of Vegetable Broth (aka a gravy) might help as well.

Garbanzo and Spinach Mixup

This recipe (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-chickpea-spinach-recipe.html) was the first I made from this cookbook.  I managed to get a bit ambushed by not reading the ingredients list right and wondered where all the spices came from — for me, they’re a little understated in the ingredients list.  But I can be a bit pedantic when it comes to that.  The result was very good.  This is a repeat for certain.

Original recipe:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tins chickpeas
  • 8oz (200g) spinach
  • Cumin seeds
  • Chilli powder, ground coriander, cumin powder
  • Lemon juice

Boil water and cook spinach until soft. Drain and chop.

Heat some oil and fry 1 tsp. cumin seeds. Add chopped onion and cook until brown.

Add cooked spinach and chopped tomatoes. Add some salt, 1/2 tsp. chilli powder, 2 tsp. coriander, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. lemon juice.

Stir in chick peas and 6 fl. oz. (150ml) water.

Cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

My rewritten “For Level 1 Wizards” recipe:

  • 8oz (200g) spinach
  • 1 onion, julienne cut
  • 1t cumin powder
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cans chickpeas (normal, soup-can sized cans)
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • 2t coriander
  • 2t cumin
  • 1t sugar
  • (1t sesame seeds)
  • (1t minced garlic)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 6oz water

Combine dry spices and set aside [1].

Steam spinach until soft.  Watch carefully when steaming as this shouldn’t be cooked to serve, but merely wilted.  Drain and chop.

Heat 1T olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion and cumin.  Cook onion until slightly fried — beyond sauteed.

Add cooked spinach, tomatoes, dry spices, and lemon juice.  Stir in chick peas and water.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

My minor improvisation was not using cumin seeds.  Nothing dramatic, but I’m sure I missed something in the flavor.  One thing I would add in the future would be some toasted sesame seeds (1t) and, of course, minced garlic (1t).

[1] Something I finally learned is to prep all my dry spices in advance.  Measuring out 5 dry spices, then the lemon juice and the water is a tad annoying compared to tossing them in all at once.  Small bowls (be they specifically for this or the little custard bowl — I prefer the latter) are invaluable for this.

Mediterranean Vegetable and Grain Salad

This was last week’s offering for the pot luck dinner. Much less work than tonight’s dish.

One cup of the same old baked barley I’m always talking about. 375 degree oven, 3 cups of water, one hour. Blah blah blah.

While that is cooking, in the food processor combine

  • a dozen cloves of roasted garlic (I make huge batches of this by getting bulk peeled garlic at Costco)
  • lemon juice (a fair bit)
  • olive oil (to match, you’re making a dressing)
  • red pepper flake
  • smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • sumac
  • thyme (dried)
  • sesame seeds
  • cumin
  • oregano (dried)
  • cilantro (dried)

Render that into a dressing.
Course chop the following (either in the processor or by hand)

  • green, black and kalamata olives.
  • artichoke hearts
  • one can stewed tomatoes
  • capers

Toss the barley (after it has cooled and been fluffed) and the chopped veggies with a can of garbanzo beans and a can of black beans. Toss in the dressing.

Salads like this taste best if allowed to mellow overnight, but taste just fine after a couple of hours setting up. Served immediately upon combining, they will seem flat in a way you can’t put your finger on, somehow.