Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Loaf

School started a few weeks ago, and I keep trying to convince myself that summer weather is slowly fading into fall. It's my favorite season. The desert doesn't share my enthusiasm, so I'll have to wait another two months for the triple-digit days to disappear. Nevertheless, the calendar tells me to bake.

I've made this vegan sweet bread a dozen times, and it seems to get better every time. I should tell you I adapted it from Erin McKenna's Babycakes, but I've altered the recipe so much it's not much like the original. 

As far as the flour blend, I use a variety milled in the UK. The texture is similar to cake flour or, as strange as it may sound, powdered sugar. I suggest a blend of white rice flour, fava flour, potato starch, and arrowroot. It's not as technical as you might think; each flour yields a slightly different texture. 

1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend 
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt, fine
2 tablespoons cinnamon, separated
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Roasted Apples
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and diced 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sugar

Toss the apples in the cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar. Roast for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, baking powder, soda, xanthan cum, sea salt and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. In a large measuring cup, combine the oil, applesauce, vanilla and hot water. Stir it into the batter until combined, then fold in the roasted apples.

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Remove about 1/2 cup of the batter and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and an additional 1 tablespoon of water.

Coat a standard loaf pan with coconut oil. Pour the batter into the pan. Drizzle the cinnamon batter and swirl it in with a spoon. Sprinkle with one teaspoon granulated sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vegan Corn Chowder

I enjoyed this corn chowder recipe with fresh corn on the cob from the restaurant St. Francis on Camelback in Central Phoenix. It was one of the best vegetarian gluten-free soups I had ever had, so I casually asked the server how it was prepared. Amazingly enough he brought me the recipe: a pound of butter, several leeks, fresh corn, and heavy cream blended into heavenly submission. 

Fast forward two years and I'm tending toward more vegan cooking. Last week I tried a vegan corn chowder recipe with fresh corn on the cob from the book Vegan with a Vengeance--a brilliant read--but I felt that it masked the flavor of the fresh corn. And summertime is all about fresh corn. So I hunted down the recipe from St. Francis and decided to veganize it. 

So smooth and delicious! Although we made it for dinner, I think it would be even better as an easy vegan lunch. You could definitely make it a day ahead and reheat it too. The most important thing is to find the freshest corn you can get your hands on. The sugars in sweet corn convert to starch as the vegetable ages, so plan to make the soup the same day you pick it/buy it. 

serves four

1 medium leek, washed thoroughly, diced 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

4 ears fresh, sweet corn on the cob, kernels removed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
24 ounces good-quality vegetable broth

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
1 pint So Delicious Coconut Creamer (or another vegan creamer)

2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, sweat the leek and onion with olive oil and sea salt over low heat. The salt helps the vegetables release their liquids. Keep the heat low so they do not develop any color. Cook for about 15 minutes, until soft and pulpy. 

Add the thyme, vegetable broth, corn cobs, and all but 1/2 cup of the corn kernels. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. 

Stir in the white wine vinegar then add the non dairy creamer. Remove the corn cobs and thyme. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. (This can be done cautiously with a regular blender too, making sure to allow the steam to escape so that the lid does not burst from the top.) 

Pour into wide soup bowls and garnish with scallions, the reserved corn kernels, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

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