“Q” is for Quinoa Rosemary Crackers

The world needs more foods that begin with the letter Q! I contemplated quiche and quince after reader suggestions, but the weather in Portland has kept me burrowing in my apartment trying to keep warm. In other words, I was too lazy to ride my bike to the co-op for quince and way too lazy to attempt my first quiche. It was either quesadillas or something fun with quinoa. Since quinoa is basically protein with a curly sprout, I figured it deserved some extra attention.

See the cute lil’ rosemary sprig sprouting from the pumpkin seed? :-)

In my neighborhood, rosemary plants grow in monstrous masses along sidewalks. Folks are free to clip off sprigs as they wish. I had some street-plucked, home-dried rosemary in my pantry that I used in my pizza pretzels yesterday and decided it would be a nice addition to the quinoa crackers I wanted to make today. The combination of quinoa and rosemary is quite nice (and pretty if you use red quinoa!).

Quinoa Rosemary Crackers

These are adapted from Celine’s infamous Cheezy Quackers

Ingredients:

1 cup whole grain spelt flour, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup non-dairy butter
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried, ground rosemary
few twists of freshly ground black pepper, optional
coarse salt, extra ground rosemary, and seeds for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and non-dairy butter. Process until it resembles fine crumbs.
3. Add in cooked quinoa, nutritional yeast, salt, rosemary, and pepper (if using).
4. Process mixture until a wet dough forms and then add additional flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky or wet. The amount of flour you add will depend on your quinoa. I added about 2 Tablespoons additional flour to my batch.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Using whatever cookie/biscuit cutter suits your fancy, cut out shapes and place them on your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, ground rosemary, and seeds. Gently press the seeds into the crackers.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your crackers. Rotate the pan halfway through baking, and check them after 10 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.
7. Allow crackers to cool, if you can wait long enough (I couldn’t), before eating. They will crisp up once they cool, so don’t fret!

“P” is for… Pizza Pretzels!

I have a problem. I am addicted to pizza. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this little factoid. During the summer months, pizza makes its sneaky way into my meal plans almost weekly. During the colder months, it’s less frequent, which is silly since pizza warms me from head to toe(s).

Recently Tim and I were hiking and trying to think of MoFo post ideas. We were working our way through the alphabet (since that’s my theme!) and when we arrived at “P”, Tim eagerly suggested pizza and then pretzels and then some festive combination of both. Why the heck not, right? Pizza in a pretzel form is pretty exciting! I tied my apron strings, gathered my ingredients, and set to work creating Pizza Pretzels and Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce. Want to see the end result?

I adapted a basic soft pretzel recipe from Urban Vegan, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. If you don’t own it, maybe you should! I will share my recipe here, since I made several changes. The next time you want pizza, try these!

Pizza Pretzels

Makes 6 big, soft, pizza-licious pretzels

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon dry sweetener (preferably unrefined and organic)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
1 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
seeds/seasonings for sprinkling, optional (I used pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt)

Directions:

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), stir together flours, salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, and fennel.
3. Add in the yeast mixture, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic.
4. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. If you have a second baking sheet that is the same size, stack that under the first one. This will help keep your pretzels from browning too quickly on their bottoms!
7. Fill a large, wide (my pot is 7″ high and 12″ in diameter) pot halfway with water. Stir in 1/4 cup baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
8. Meanwhile, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14-16″ long and shape into a pretzel (make a U-shape, twist the ends together twice at the top, and fold them down to meet the bottom of the U. Press the ends gently to secure the shape). Place formed pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
9. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering (just make sure it isn’t at a rapid boil). Submerge pretzels, one or two at a time, in the water. They will rise to the surface pretty quickly. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds and then remove with a slotted utensil and transfer back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with seeds of choice.
10. Once all of your pretzels have been water-boiled and sprinkled, slide your baking sheet into the oven. Bake the pretzels for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Rotate halfway through baking, and check often to make sure they don’t burn.
11. Let pretzels cool, only slightly (they are best warm!) and serve with Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

*I considered sprinkling these with cheezy cashew crumbles (grind cashews, nutritional yeast, and a bit of salt together until powdery), but only after I’d eaten one, so next time for sure!

Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (14-oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dry sweetener
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
pinch dried ground rosemary
pinch chipotle flakes

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (I am NOT a fan of chunky sauces!!). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with your pretzels.

Enjoy!

Any requests for my “Q” post tomorrow? All I can think of right now is quinoa, and that’s boring. Maybe boring will be necessary though!

“N” is for New Age Spotted Dick

Today’s post is about a traditional British dessert or pudding called Spotted Dick. While the name is quite humorous and slightly perverse, I can assure you that this dessert is completely innocent. Unfortunately, my attempt at veganizing the recipe from the mighty 1,000 Chocolate, Baking & Dessert Recipes didn’t work very well. It was a lesson in always following your gut instincts. When I was putting the sponge dough into the prepared baking dish, I though to myself, “This seems kind of thick… But, since I’ve never baked New Age Spotted Dick before, I’ll leave it be.” Turns out, I should have adjusted my measurements because the sauce that is supposed to fill the middle of the dessert stayed on top instead. Don’t get me wrong, this dessert is delicious, but my veganized version needs some more attention.

Maybe I will succeed next time (and share the recipe if I do)! Until then, I guess I can settle for hearing Tim shout: “When will the Spotted Dick be out of the oven?” : )

“M” is for Mesquite Powder

When I first saw mesquite powder at my local co-op, I thought it had something to do with savory cooking applications. I was wrong! Mesquite powder (also known as mesquite flour) is quite the opposite: it has a mild, sweet, nutty, molasses-like flavor with a touch of caramel and a hint of chocolate (source). The nutritional benefits of mesquite powder are rather impressive. It is full of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and lysine. It is also high in dietary fiber and protein and low in fat. So, if you add some to a cookie recipe, you can eat all the cookies you want! Ha!

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and replaced a 1/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour with mesquite powder. The result was a malty, nutty, caramel-like cookie. I definitely wouldn’t use more than 20-25% of the total flour as mesquite powder in a recipe though – it might be too powerful. Another bonus? Mesquite powder is gluten-free! Tra la la!!!

“L” is for Lemon Rice Noodles

Guess what? I love noodles. The simplicity of noodle meals is greatly appreciated when I don’t feel like putting much effort into cooking. Several months ago I purchased The Indian Vegan Kitchen and shelved it (according to size, of course) with my other cookbooks. It sat, slightly forgotten, until today. Tim and I needed a quick, filling, light lunch to power us through a day of volunteer work at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada, OR. We love lending a few hands at this animal sanctuary – the folks who run it are incredible and the animals are so sweet. We decided on Lemon Rice Noodles, making some adjustments since we lacked a few ingredients. This dish came together in a matter of minutes and let me use those curry leaves stashed in my (new) freezer!

This dish was a medley of brown mustard seeds, dried red chiles, chana dal, lemon juice, rice noodles, curry leaves, turmeric, and roasted peanuts. Glamorous and delicious!