Monday, May 25, 2015

Blueberry Coffee Cake with vegan options

I wanted a coffee cake recipe that was easy to convert to vegan options. Hint: Rule #1 Pick a recipe with one or two eggs.  I also wanted the recipe to include berries, but I wasn't picky about the type.  I  perused my cookbooks first, and I found exactly what I was looking for in The Creative Breakfast by Ellen Klavan.

The recipe is in a chapter called Sweet Treats. Klavan says, "There are times--like when your Aunt Matilda is spending the night or your child is headed off to summer camp, or someone in the family needs cheering up or congratulating when a bowl of skim milk and muesli just don't strike the right note." Maybe because the book was published in 1998, but today we don't need excuses like Aunt Mildred to eat cake, do we? And we don't need to feel guilty for thinking we do.

Enjoy, I say. Maybe I'm a sucker for the hedonistic advice from my Cooking Assistant.  He never feels guilty about indulging in anything. 

With this recipe, you can souce ingredients locally. I used Nash's local flour for this recipe.  I keep Nash's flour in my freezer and use it up within a few months. 

The picture of pastry flour below is from Dunbar Farms in Southern Oregon. Check your own farmers' market for local flour.

Choose your own berries to accompany this cake.  

Below are strawberries, black raspberries and raspberries.  I like the idea of serving red, white and blue on patriotic holidays.

We don't have blueberries yet in the Northwest, and though it's preferable to have fresh berries, you can also use frozen berries. The only problem with frozen blueberries is, as the berries defrost, the cell walls break allowing the blue color to seep into the batter.  Sometimes you can toss berries in frozen and the bleeding won't happen. I wasn't very lucky with that technique. 

The batter was blue before I put it in the pan. But don't let that discourage you; it still tastes fabulous.

My Cooking Assistant loves the berries.  He can be very naughty in the garden, picking all the berries for himself.  We thought it was cute when we taught him how to pick berries. 

It could be dangerous teaching your dog to pick berries.

This cake is not very sweet so eat it for breakfast if you like.  Or serve it with berries and coconut sorbet after dinner.  This recipe isn't altered much from the original recipe. To switch it to a vegan recipe is easy with only one egg, butter and milk to replace.

Blueberry Coffeecake
(Makes one 7-by 9-inch cake)

1/4 cup butter or Earth Balance buttery sticks, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg or flaxseed egg replacer for one egg
1/2 cup milk (almond, coconut, hemp, or soy)
2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter or grease a 7-by 9-inch baking dish.  With a fork, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, mashing until mixture is creamy. Stir in nuts and set aside.

2. Sift the pastry flour and baking powder together.  In another bowl combine the butter and sugar, blending until smooth.  Stir in egg or egg-replacer.  Add the flour alternating with the milk and stir just until smooth. Mixture will be quite thick. Gently mix in the blueberries. 

3. Spread in the prepared baking pan and bake for 1 hour.  Test with a toothpick before removing from the pan.  Cool before cutting.  Serve with strawberries and coconut sorbet.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Minted Sugar Snap Peas, Peppers and Leeks

I can't get enough of fresh peas this season. My vegetable love is partly due to an article about peas I'm finishing up for Vegetarian Journal. I love this magazine and if you love vegetables like I do, check out the roasted vegetables in this issue of Vegetarian Journal.

I've enjoyed every pea recipe, even the failures. But I'm not talking about those.  In the process, I became an even bigger fan of garden peas. The Green Pea Guacamole I made last week was to die for. It isn't hard to make--peas, lime, avocado, and salsa. Green pea hummus would be good too--Martha Stewart proves once again that there's nothing new under the sun in cooking. If you can think it up, someone, somewhere, has already cooked or created. 

But seriously, who knew mint was such a great partner for peas? It's as if they were made for each other.  Kind of like cauliflower and cashew butter.

Fresh peas restore my love of spring, but I didn't always like English peas.

When I was young, I turned my nose up at canned peas. They were an annoyance on my lunch tray. I was revolted by the color, and I recall moving the army green specimens around on my plate at lunch time in the school cafeteria, to avoid being forced to eat even one bite the nasty canned things. We were required to take three bites of everything on our hot lunch trays; I wasn't the only kid moving the canned beets and peas around instead of taking required bites. But those canned peas are nothing like fresh English, sugar snap and snow peas, which rarely appeared on lunch or dinner plates.

Today, we've got peas planted in our garden and it looks like we'll have plenty by the end of this month.

I marvel at the bounty at the farmers markets.  These sugar snap peas are from Willie Green's Organic Farm.

English peas are slightly larger, but don't get them too big or they will be starchy not sweet. My Cooking Assistant is waiting for someone to shuck these perfect English peas.  I'm guessing that would be me.

Minted Sugar Snap Peas with Peppers and Leeks
(Serves 4)
16-ounces fresh sugar snap peas, washed and strings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, washed and sliced
1/2 red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 Tablespoons apple cider or water
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sugar snap peas.  Blanch for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, drain, rinse and stop the cooking process with cold water.
a heavy skillet over medium heat.  
2. Add leeks and red pepper.  Stir and cook until leeks begin to caramelize and peppers soften.  Add sugar snap peas and stir until the peas warm up.  Stir in fresh mint and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.