Hemp Bread (vegan)

I’ve had this bag of hulled hemp seeds sitting in my fridge for about a month now. I came across it in Costco when I was looking for some more flax meal, and decided that I needed some even though I had no idea what it tasted like, or what to do with it. Needless to say, it then sat in the fridge ignored because the package only suggests adding the stuff to smoothies or sprinkling it on cereals.

Moist, but not gummy, with a soft crust, and mild flavor.

Moist, but not gummy, with a soft crust, and mild flavor.

Then, last week I decided to check out the web for things to do with hemp, only to discover that people only seemed to add it to smoothies or sprinkle it on their cereals (I exaggerate slightly … but only slightly)!! So, I threw caution to the wind, and attempted to make an American pancake with it. I’ve tested all sorts of flours using this method. The pancakes are not always optimal, but they do give a great idea of the flour’s properties (bean flour is strongly flavored but has good structure, almond flour has a great flavor but a tendency to be gummy, rice flour is tasteless …. that sort of thing.) Anyway, the pancakes came out light, slightly stretchy, and mild in flavor. It was at this point that I figured I might have stumbled upon something worth stumbling upon.

Bread, vegan bread is what I really wanted to make. Something that rose, and wasn’t gummy, and was not too strongly flavored, and not too bland, but just right. Anyway, this recipe went through many revisions, before I settled on this concoction. Chia seeds or flax meal? Potato starch or tapioca? 1 tsp or 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (yes, I tried both before settling for 1 1/4 tsp …. it does make a difference, so measure carefully). My freezer is now full of half loaves which I didn’t want to eat immediately because I’d blow up like a balloon. Anyway, this loaf is moist and soft, with a bit of spring in its texture, and a soft-ish crust. It’s still best eaten the day it’s made, but perfectly serviceable the next day, especially if toasted.

The hemp that I bought was still in seed form. However, it’s soft enough that the couple of minutes in the processor with the other ingredients is sufficient to reduce it to a non-lumpy format, so don’t worry about getting hemp flour for this. If you click the picture and then click again, you get to see the texture of the bread in a fashion that my eyes don’t manage unaided, and there is still a bit of evidence of the hemp seed, but nothing that your mouth would discern.

If my sources are correct, whole wheat/meal bread has about 2g fiber per slice. This hemp bread has between 4 and 4.5g per slice.

Hemp Bread

8 oz (scant 2 cups) hemp seeds
5 oz (1 cup) tapioca starch
2 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) brown rice flour
1 oz (1/4 cup) flaxmeal
2 oz (1/4 cup) margarine
1 tbsp instant dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar (for the yeast, not for you)
1 1/4 tsps salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum

7-8 fl oz (1 cups) water
1/2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice, added to water (to activate xanthan gum)

Unrisen

Bread dough/batter directly after transfer to lined loaf pan. Note that it’s more of a thick batter than a bread dough. Many gluten free breads are like this.

Put all the dry ingredients along with the margarine in a food processor. Collect the wet ingredients together in a jug.

Start processing, and add the wet ingredients (lesser amount unless more needed) to the dry ingredients slowly (~10 seconds). Process for 2-3 minutes to activate the xanthan gum.

Risen dough/batter, just starting to show cracks.

Risen dough/batter, just starting to show cracks.

Spoon the dough out into a small loaf pan lined with parchment paper or heavily greased, and allow to rise until at least 50% bigger, with cracks just starting to form on the surface.

Cooked, soft, dark brown crusted bread.

Cooked, soft, dark brown crusted bread.

Put the loaf in the center of the oven. Loosely cover with foil or parchment paper to prevent over browning. Cook at 360F for 55-60 minutes. Enjoy!

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Tangy Broccoli and Cranberry Salad

It was a hot day, today. Humid too, so I couldn’t mess with the oven even though I’ve been working on a new bread recipe this week (my freezer is getting quite full, since I’m making the stuff faster than my diet will let me eat it). However, it was a good excuse to trot out another salad recipe, and I do need more salads. Now, I’m not so keen on raw broccoli, but anywhere from lightly steamed to soft works well with me and mine. If you happen to like raw broccoli, then feel free to skip the broccoli cooking step.

This salad is quick to make, and pretty substantial. It’s slightly tangy, slightly sweet because of the cranberries, and a nice mixture of crunchy (pinenuts and broccoli) and chewy (cranberries). The lettuce dilutes the pretty strong flavors of the other ingredients.

Serves 3 – 6

Broccoli salad

Click the picture to get a close-up!

1/2 – 1 tsp salt
12 oz (~3 cups) broccoli florets
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds

1/2 cup mayonnaise (vegan if required)
1 tsp lemon juice (& zest of 1/2 lemon, optional)
1/2 tsp mustard
shake of cayenne
1 tbsp honey (omit for vegan, add 1 tsp sugar)
dash of garlic powder
1 tsp chickpea or other light cheezy miso

1 head romaine (cos) lettuce, shredded

In a large saucepan, bring 1/2” water with the salt to a boil. Add the broccoli florets, cover, and steam for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli just starts to turn bright green, but retains some bite in the stems.

Drain the broccoli very well (to stop the water from diluting the dressing – cooling for 1/2 hour in a colander works).

Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add the steamed broccoli, dried fruit, and nuts and toss to combine.

Serve immediately on a bed of shredded lettuce.

Cashew and Roasted Pepper Dip

Rich, zesty, and remarkably easy to make, this went down really well with my brood, serving the same purpose as hummus. In keeping with that, I served it with freshly made GF pita bread.

I’ve also served it up (slackened off with a small amount of water) with GF pasta, and for some reason that went down well, too. It mitigates my concerns about the low nutritional value of the pasta, so my girls get something they like, and I get something I approve of!

Golden Pepper and cashew dip

Cashew and pepper dip made with yellow peppers. Yesterday’s batch was made with red peppers, and was quite distinctly red. One of my daughters suggested that I should make both kinds and swirl them together. I think she was thinking about ice-cream!

1 tin cannellini / garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup raw cashews
2 roasted red/yellow peppers, deseeded (jarred is fine)
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice, OR juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
2 shakes of cayenne pepper (or fresh chili of choice)

Blend everything together until smooth (a high speed blender like a Vitamix makes light work of this). Refrigerate until needed. Serve with tortilla chips, or pita breads.

Scotch Egg / Tofu

I don’t know whether the original version of this really came from Scotland, but this is my vegan/vegetarian version of the British classic, Scotch Eggs.

Vegetarian version of the traditional Scotch Egg.

Vegetarian version of the traditional Scotch Egg.

I confess that I have more than one way I make these, and I have made more than one version at the same time to satisfy different dietary preferences. One version involves the more traditional boiled egg wrapped in a less traditional nut mixture. Another way uses chunks of boiled and cooled tofu (only for seasoned tofu eaters) wrapped in the same nut mixture. A third, more involved, way uses boiled and cooled, roughly mashed tofu. This last way is my favorite, though it makes an egg that is better eaten with knife and fork rather than fingers.

Scotch Egg

Vegan version of scotch egg, using cubed tofu filling.

Regardless of the filling you chose, note that you need to keep the nut mixture in a relatively thin layer (because a thick layer makes these too big for one serving), and the nuts fairly well ground (lumpy doesn’t work well; it lacks integrity), and the eggs/tofu cubes need to be dredged in GF flour before being wrapped in the nut mixture, otherwise the mixture won’t stick to the filling.

Mashed tofu Scotch egg

Mashed, seasoned tofu ‘eggs’.

Traditionally, Scotch eggs are deep fried, but I bake these in the oven, which helps keeps the fat content down, as I can’t stomach lots of fat. However, if you try deep frying these, I’d be interested to know how you get on.

Scotch Eggs

Serves 8

8 eggs OR
14-16 oz firm tofu (plus 1 tsp each of salt and onion powder) OR
7 – 8 oz firm tofu
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1/8 – 1/4 tsp salt (kala namak if liked)
1/16 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

AND

1/2 cup dry quinoa
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp margarine or canola oil
1/2 medium (1/4 large) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
10 oz cashews or almonds (almond flour works, too)
2 tbsp Braggs (I use 2 tbsp if I’ve used raw nuts; you might want none if you use salted)
2 tbsp apple puree/sauce (to help keep the mixture moist)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup almond flour, for dredging (I’ve also used quinoa, and corn flours with success.)

Make one of the fillings:

Filling option 1) Use the tine of a fork to pierce a small hole in both ends of the eggs (to let out any air), and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring the water up to a simmer, and cook the eggs for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and immediately use cold water to bring their temperature down to a level where you can shell them. (This stops them from forming a green line around the  outside of the yolk.) Once cold, dredge the eggs in a couple of tablespoons of extra GF flour so that the coating will stick.

Filling option 2) Cut the tofu into 1″ cubes, and simmer in water seasoned with the salt and onion powder for 10 minutes. Drain, and place in the fridge to cool on a surface that will allow expressed water to drain. I use a steamer basket on a plate. Once cooled and firmed up, roll the tofu in a mixture of the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and a couple of tablespoons of GF flour so the coating will stick. Only seasoned tofu lovers should try this one.

Filling option 3) Follow instructions for Filling option 2), then mash the cooled tofu with a fork, and combine with the mayonnaise, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper.
Note that if you use this filling, you’ll only be able to make 4 eggs, as the mixture is less easily formed into Scotch eggs, and you’ll need to use twice the amount of nut mixture to encase each ‘egg’. This is also my favorite!

Make the coating:

Put the quinoa, salt, and rosemary in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Cover, and simmer for ~20 minutes or until the quinoa is completely soft and the little ‘tails’ are visible on the grains.

Heat the margarine or oil in a frying pan, and gently saute the onion over a medium heat until softened. Add the garlic, and allow to warm through for a minute or two.

Grind the nuts in a food processor until fairly fine, if using whole nuts. Stir the ground nuts / flour into the onion, along with the Braggs (if you used unsalted nuts), apple puree/sauce, pepper, and lemon juice.

Check seasoning before continuing.

Compose the ‘eggs’:

Making a scotch eggTake 1/8 of the nut mixture in your hand and form into a flattened patty in one hand. Place an egg sized ball of your filling into the center of the nut mixture, and work the nut mixture up and over the filling so you end up with a small ball of filling surrounded by nut mixture. Note that if you’re using the mashed tofu option, you’ll need to top with another patty of the nut mixture as it’s too difficult to work the nut mixture around this soft center.

Heavily dredge the ball with the remaining nut flour, (this helps to keep the quinoa in the nut mixture from going hard while in the oven), and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Repeat the process another 7 (3) times with the remaining mixtures.

Lightly cover the ‘eggs’ with parchment paper or foil to prevent drying.

Bake in the middle of the oven at 350F for 30 minutes, uncovering after 15 minutes.

Eat warm, or cold.

Vegan Steamed Bread (Bagel Bread)

The texture of this bread is reminiscent of bagels, with a close-ish texture which tends to fight back slightly when you eat it. It makes a nice, flexible, sandwich bread with a soft crust, (best eaten on the day of cooking) and excellent toast (any time).

Recipes for steamed bread frequently call for coffee tins for the cooking vessel, but since our coffee comes in cardboard containers, I figured that wouldn’t work for us. Instead, I used 2 large (28 oz) tomato tins, whose lids I had removed with one of those tin openers that don’t leave a sharp edge. I scrubbed them out, and scoured the cut edge with a dish scourer to make sure there were no bits of loose metal, and heavily greased the inside before dropping the bread dough into place.

Note that the dough won’t rise further once you’ve put it on to steam, so make sure it’s as risen as you want it before getting to that stage. Update: Initially, I used 1 tbsp of sugar in this recipe, but when I increased the sugar to 3 tbsp, the bread rose significantly better, but didn’t end up tasting sweet, so I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect that.

Steamed Vegan GF Bread

1 tbsp dried yeast
3 tbsp sugar (this is for the yeast, not flavor)
4 oz (1 cup) quinoa flour
2 oz (1/2 cup) millet flour
2 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) brown rice flour
6 1/2 oz (1 cup) arrowroot
1 oz (1/4 cup) flax meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp chia seeds, ground

Mix the yeast and sugar with 1/2 cup warm water, and leave for 5 – 10 minutes so the yeast can prove that it’s alive and turn frothy.

Put all the other ingredients in a food processor along with the activated yeast mixture and an additional cup of water, and process for about 3 minutes to activate the xanthan gum.

Grease the inside of two 28oz tomato cans, and divide the mixture evenly between them. Allow to sit and rise for 30-45 minutes, or until 50% bigger. Timing will depend on how lively your yeast is feeling, and how warm your flour (and kitchen) is.

In a large pressure cooker, with a trivet or a few forks in the bottom to stop the bread bottom from being scorched on the bottom, bring about an inch of water to the boil.

Cover the top of the cooking tins with a layer of baking parchment and then a layer of foil. Tie them down with a piece of string to prevent steam from getting in, and place in the pressure cooker.

Put on the lid, and bring up to pressure. Cook for 45 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, and allow to come down to atmospheric pressure naturally.

Remove the loaves from the pan, and allow to cool on a cooling rack.