Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cooking for Carolena

In my "free time," (sarcastic quotes), when I am not working full time or sharing my culinary adventures with you, I am a member of a professional belly dance troupe: Tamarind Tribal.  This past weekend was our big show, Tribal Union.  The show featured our teacher, Carolena Nericcio, and her troupe, FatChanceBellyDance.  It was quite an awesome show, if I do say so myself.

In addition to the actual show, we also had workshops with Carolena and FatChance.  Which meant they stayed in Milwaukee with us over the weekend.  Which meant we had to feed them.

I am a feeder, so this makes me happy.  On the other hand, they are all vegetarians, and most of them are vegans, which just makes me terrified.

If you have read my blog previously, you may have noticed that I am not a vegetarian.  Like, at all.  I don't know anything about cooking vegetarian.  I have been told that I make a mean salad, but that's really just a matter of using quality ingredients so... yeah.  Something exciting, something local, something that can keep a body going all day... and no meat.  And it should be easy to snack on.

I unfortunately did not get a picture of my favorite part of the weekend, which was setting up the big buffet line table that the food was set on.  It was kind of hillarious.  Just call me Kate, Director of Craft Services.

Anyway, here is a selection of my favorite vegan recipes of the weekend.  There were additional items, but these are the ones I stand behind, and the ones that I think are worth eating, even if they don't have any meat!

Vegan Zucchini Cookies: Two Ways

These were actually my favorite thing that I made all weekend.  It was kind of depressing, actually, the vegan cookies were about 100 times better than the "regular" ones.  And they get rid of zucchini, which is always a bonus!

I learned something really interesting from this cookie adventure, which I will use in future cookie making.  This first recipe tells you to put the cookies onto parchment lined baking pans - not greased or ungreased as I am used to.  I actually followed this direction, and, in the end, it saved me a lot of time.  The cookies popped right off, and there was no need to wipe down the pan in between batches.  I have to remember this the next time I am mass producing cookies - like Christmas.

"Plain" Zucchini Cookies
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (L*)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (L)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Cookies Cooling
  • 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined.  Then, add the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

Chocolate Mint Zucchini Cookies
  • 3 cups flour (L)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coco powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups grated zucchini (L*)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, zucchini, and peppermint.  Add the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

Rosemary Focaccia

*NOTE!  This recipe is deceptively simple.  Please do not be like me and think, wow, that has almost no ingredients.  It will be super easy!  It is "super easy," but it takes FOREVER.  Seriously.  Forever.  Notice that it has a minimum of 10.5 hours of resting.  Don't plan to make it in a few hours.  You will be angry, and also might end up not being able to go to your Mother-in-Law's birthday dinner because you've got this damn focaccia going and you can't leave the house.

Or maybe that's just me.

  • 1/2 cup flour (L)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees) (L) (Is labeling water local cheating?)
  • 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (L)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees) (L)
  • 1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
  • Kosher or Sea Salt
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Additional flour for shaping (L)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (L*)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
For the Biga:

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains: about 1 minute.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).  Use immediately or store in refrigerator up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe).

For the Dough:

Add flour, water, and yeast to biga and stir with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms and no flour remains, about 1 minute.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 tsps kosher or sea salt over the dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute.  cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

This was taken right after sprinkling the rosemary/salt/pepper
onto the bread.  Unfortunately, I don't have a finished product
Coat a rubber spatula with vegetable or olive oil.  Fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding the edges of the dough toward the middle, repeating around the dough in the bowl.  You should need about 8 folds.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.

Repeat the above step 2 more times, for a total of 3 fold/rest periods.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

Gently transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.  Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and divide in half.  Gently shape each piece of dough into a round.

Coat two 9 inch round pans (I used pie pans) with 2 tbsps olive oil each.  Sprinkle each pan with 1/4 tsp sea or kosher salt.  Place 1 round of dough into each pan, slide dough around in pan to coat, then flip over and repeat on the other side.  Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest 5-10 minutes.

Using fingertips, press dough out towards edges of the pan.  Using a dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles.  Sprinkle rosemary and pepper evenly over the top of the dough.  Let rest 10 to 15 more minutes.

Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees.  bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans half way through cooking.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before removing bread from pans.  Brush with any olive oil remaining in the pan and allow to cool before serving.


I made this before.  You can find the recipe here. But I thought I would provide my own picture, since last time I cheated and just stole the picture from the Aarti Party website.  I'm no food photographer, but I'd say my picture looks pretty good when I compare them side by side!

Last but not least is the recipe I am most likely to make again.  The cookies may have been my favorite, but this was a quality side dish.  And, it was crazy easy.  AND, it used things from my garden.  Which makes me happy.

One thing I should comment on, is that this recipe calls for 1 cup minced leeks.  If you have cooked with leeks from the grocery store before, you should know that your farmer's market leeks are going to have a lot more flavor and cost a lot less money.  On the other hand, they are going to be CRAZY DIRTY.  Leeks are, in my opinion, one of the dirtiest foods I've seen.  (I think, actually, that the dirtiest food is supposed to be a peach, but I try not to think to hard about that).  Anyway, they get dirt all up in the spaces between each layer, so you can't just wash it off and expect to be done.  You have to peel each segment back until the point where it is clean, and wash all the dirt off from there.  You don't just want to throw out the top part, either, because the light green parts taste the best.  When your leek is properly washed, it should look like this:
Once it's clean, you can fold all the leaves back up and cut it like a normal green onion.

Grocery store leeks do not appear to be so dirty, but I can only assume there are invisible pesticides hiding in all the places that would normally hide normal old dirt, which in my opinion is a lot grosser.

The other really exciting part about this recipe is that it's tabbouleh, which means you can sing the tabbouleh song.  You might just want to use the recipe at that link.  It's better than mine :)

Garden Fresh Tabbouleh:

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water (L)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup minced leeks (L)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (L*)
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (L*) (Get it from your sister!  Seriously, listen to the tabbouleh song.)
  • 1 cucumber, with peel, diced (L*)
  • 2 cups low seed tomatoes, halved.  I used roma and pineapple heirloom (L*)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place bulgur in large bowl and pour in boiling water. Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour.

Add green onions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes and black pepper. Mix well. Stir in additional salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least a couple of hours before serving.

No comments:

Post a Comment