Monday, March 28, 2016

Smoky Hummus

Smoky Hummus
This is my latest go-to snack. Smoky Hummus. It's wonderful. And I regularly hear it calling my name from the fridge. Even better - with no added oil, it's not just tasty, it's also a healthy dip that encourages me to eat more fresh veggies. My young daughter also eats tons of fresh veggies with this dip. What's not to love?

It all happened when I ran out of my normal Hummus accent - Capers. I wasn't able to make a special trip to the ethnic market where Capers are cheap, and I certainly couldn't bring myself to spend the exorbitant amount that the grocery charges for a little-bitty jar of them.

So, Hummus with Capers was out.

And, necessity being the Mother of invention - something else had to be in. I still wanted a special Hummus flavor.

I thought of the little jar of Smoked Paprika I had bought. My dear friend Jennifer often cooks spectacular dishes, and I've discovered that quite frequently her "secret ingredient" (in addition to a phenomenal cooking skill!) is Smoked Paprika. So I had bought a little jar and was waiting for an opportunity to try it out : )

And, the weekend that I created it, it just so happened that Jenny's daughter was our dinner guest - and she approved! : )

So, this is it:

Smoky Paprika
Blend in a food processor till very smooth (this should take a few minutes)
1 (15 oz) Can Chickpeas, Drained (or 1 1/2 cups home-prepared)
2 - 4 Tablespoons Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste) (more to taste if desired)
2 - 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Garlic (I use the minced from a jar)
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 cup Water (use as needed for your desired texture - you might like a little less or a little more)


I like to serve this with Cut Raw Veggies for dipping such as Baby Carrots, Cucumber Slices, Broccoli Florets, Bell Pepper Crescents, etc - and some Pretzels. We're big fans of the new Snyder of Hanover Pretzel Spoonz, but regular Pretzels or Pita Chips also work great.

This is also wonderful as an open-faced Sandwich or Wrap - simply spread the Smoky Hummus on Bread or Toast or on a Tortilla and top with sliced, fresh Lettuce, Tomatoes & Yellow Bell Peppers : )

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Easy No Knead Greek Olive Crescents (Eliopites)

Easy No Knead Greek Olive Crescents (Eliopites)
Greek Olive Pastries, aka Eliopites, are savory, delicious treats - popular with Coffee at Breakfast, or as Finger-food Appetizers at Parties or when hosting guests.

But, if they're made the old-fashioned way, they're a little "fussy" - they're time consuming to make, and take a lot of effort.

Enter Greek Olive Crescents. They're fun, pretty, tasty - and perhaps most importantly, quick & easy! : ) And, they're perfect for that special Lenten Occasion, since they're Vegan!

Since Greek Independence Day is only a few days away, perhaps you'd like to make these as part of your celebration!

I keep the No Knead Vegan Brioche type dough in my refrigerator - it takes less than 10 minutes to make the dough - then I can have a batch of these in the oven in a matter of minutes.

It is SOOO easy to make - and produces such spectacular results! This recipe produces about 3 dozen Crescent Rolls (if you'd like a smaller batch, scroll down)

This is the same dough I use for several other breads on this site, so you can make a big batch and keep it on hand to use for lots of different breads.


Easy, No Knead, Vegan Crescent Roll Dough **** (Scroll Down for Smaller Batch)
This recipe makes about 3 dozen rolls, or 18 rolls & 1 large Challah.
Measure into a 6 quart container*, in this order
3 Cups Warm Water (baby bath water temperature. If in doubt, make it too cool rather than too warm)
5 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, that's right, the stuff people use to make Instant Mashed Potatoes)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it **

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.


Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough. 

When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Oil your pan (I use a Perforated, Non-stick Pizza Pan, like this one for baking)

Take one pound of dough (1/4 of the large batch or 1/2 of the small batch) and roll out in a rectangle that is approximately 8"x12".

Roll Dough out into Rectangle.



Spread the dough with your favorite Kalamata Olive Spread.  Here in the U.S., I am fond of both the Divina Brand, and the Peloponnese Brand - which can be found at Greek Ethnic Markets, and sometimes at the regular Grocery Store (my Kroger carries the Peloponnese Brand). I also like the Iliada Brand, but I cannot always find it here. 

Leave a little border of dough at the top & bottom of your rectangle, as shown.




Cut in long, thin triangles. A pizza cutter works great for this job, or just a large Chef's knife that you can press down and cut the dough without pulling.




Roll each triangle up and place it on the pan.



Leave to rise for 30 to 60 minutes (the last time I made these, I only let them rise about 15 minutes - they were still great : )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes.

Upon removing from the oven, you may brush with a buttery spread, if you desire.

Cool enough to eat & enjoy!


Small Batch Easy, No Knead Vegan Crescent Rolls
 (Makes about 18 rolls)
Follow above directions, but use these amounts
I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the above pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt

Stir well, then follow above directions - the same as for a large batch.

* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated. It is lightest and fluffiest when used within a day or two of when you make it, but I have used it several days later  - a week or more - and still had very good results.
*** If you bake two large pans of rolls at the same time, put one loaf on the middle rack, and one on the bottom rack. Then, set a timer to switch their positions half-way through baking, so that they brown evenly both on the top and on the bottom.

I always make bread by the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method  (and, I think EVERYONE should own their book!). But, they didn't have a Vegan Brioche-type dough, so I created my own recipe using their method : )

If you like this recipe, try these others that are made from the same dough:
  Challah, Easy, No Knead, Vegan
  Crescent Rolls, Easy, No Knead, Vegan  
  Dinner Rolls, Vegan, Soft & Fluffy, No Knead, Refrigerator 
  Vasilopita, Easy, No Knead, Vegan

This is being shared on
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Monday, March 14, 2016

No Knead, Vegan Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

No Knead, Easy, Vegan Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)
Traditionally, Tsoureki is made with all of the rich, luxurious ingredients that Orthodox Christians abstain from during Lent. It is a Feasting food for Pascha, (which is what we Orthodox Christians call Easter).

Tsoureki is tender, sweet, moist, rich - luxurious. Definitely not Vegan ; )

But, what if you don't - or can't - eat Eggs, Butter, and Milk, but you still want a Traditional treat on Pascha? This is the question that was posed to me last Lent by some Vegan friends from Church - and it started me on a quest that eventually produced LOTS of different Bread recipes - but THIS is the recipe that started it all!

Because food isn't just about ingredients & nutrition - it's also about Tradition, Emotion & Culture!

Tsoureki Rising, with a Tsoureki Dinner Roll next to it.


The use of Tapioca Starch, Potato, and Sugar tenderizes & moisturizes the dough, and make a moist, tender, fluffy loaf without the use of oil or eggs.

This bread was inspired by a combination of two others - the method in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and a festive bread from Bryanna Clark Grogan. But, I changed BOTH Recipes a lot by the time I was done!




A cultural note: Greek Orthodox Pascha is MUCH later than Western Easter this year - so it is rather strange to be posting a Pascha recipe just as Lent begins for us - but I wanted to share the recipe with those who celebrate on the Western Calendar, too.

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) **** (Scroll Down for Smaller Batch)
Measure into a 6 quart container*, in this order
2 2/3 Cups Warm Water (baby bath water temperature. If in doubt, make it too cool rather than too warm)
1/3 Cup Orange Juice Concentrate (or, more water if you prefer not to have orange flavor)
5 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, that's right, the stuff people use to make Instant Mashed Potatoes)
1 Cup Sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, you can just use 1/2 cup without changing anything else in this recipe)
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 teaspoon Ground Mahlepi ****
1/2 teaspoon Ground Masticha (Mastic) (optional) ****

Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it **

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.


Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough. 

When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Oil your pan (I use a Perforated, Non-stick Pizza Pan, like this one for baking)

 Gently Divide the dough in half, and divide one half into three pieces. Pull each piece into a long rope & dust with flour again. Lay the strands side by side, and braid them. It works best if you start at the middle and braid toward the end. If you've never braided bread before, this is a great tutorial post - but because of its lower gluten content, you may find this dough a little easier to form into ropes that the bread in the tutorial.



Shape another loaf with the second half of the dough if desired***, or return the remaining dough to the refrigerator to use later. This dough CAN be kept in the fridge for a week or more and still be quite good to use, but with this particular dough, you'll find the fluffiest, sweetest results if you bake it within a day or two of mixing.

The Three Strands in Tsoureki Symbolize the Holy Trinity. This bread is traditionally studded with Red Greek Pascha Eggs - but since this is a Vegan recipe, I simply omitted the eggs. Feel free to add them if you like! 

Leave to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes.

For best results, cool before serving.

Small Batch Easy, No Knead Vegan Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
 (Makes 2 pounds of dough - for one large loaf or two small ones)
Follow above directions, but use these amounts
I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the above pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water (if you want an optional orange flavor, use 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate in place of part of the water -then add water to total 1 1/2 cups liquid)
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/2 Cup Sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, you can use 1/4 cup sugar without changing anything else in the recipe)
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Mahlepi, Ground****
1/4 teaspoon Mastic, Ground****

Stir well, then follow above directions - the same as for a large batch.

* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated.
*** If you bake two loaves at the same time, put one loaf on the middle rack, and one on the bottom rack. Then, set a timer to switch their positions half-way through baking, so that they brown evenly both on the top and on the bottom.
**** Spices are traditionally ground in a Mortar & Pestle. I grind them in my electric coffee grinder - I use some of the sugar in the recipe to add to the grinder to produce enough bulk to grind - then I add the mixture of sugar & spices to the recipe.

If you like this recipe, try these others that are made from the same dough, but without the spices
  Challah, Easy, No Knead, Vegan
  Crescent Rolls, Easy, No Knead, Vegan  
  Dinner Rolls, Vegan, Soft & Fluffy, No Knead, Refrigerator 
  Vasilopita, Easy, No Knead, Vegan 

This post was featured on:

Monday Mish Mash Link Party at Country Mouse City Spouse



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Monday, March 7, 2016

Vegan & Cheesefare Menu

This week is "Cheesefare" for Orthodox Christians. It is a week before Lent when we plan to "use up" all the remaining eggs and cheese in the house in preparation for Great Lent. (for us Greek Orthodox Christians, Lent starts quite late this year)

Here is a menu (more than enough choices for a week!) which can accommodate a family with some  Vegans and some Cheesefarers!

Need even more wonderful ideas for Cheesefare week?
Check out this blog post I admire, that is all SUPER EASY, FREEZER FRIENDLY, & CHEESY!:
Mom on a Mission has this great, Cheesy post for Cheese Fans (all but the last is Vegetarian)

Just Click on Photo Caption to find recipe! : )




Pizza (add cheese to the Cheesefarer's portion)


Stuffed Manicotti (use the cheesy link at the bottom of the post for the Cheesefarer!)

 
Mexican Haystacks (put out optional Shredded Cheddar and Sour Cream for the Cheesefarers)





Skyline Black Beans and Rice over Spaghetti, Copycat (add Shredded Cheddar to the Cheesefarer's portion)



Pasta & Sauce  (Top cheesefarer's portion in a casserole dish with Shredded Mozzarella & Parmesan, and broil in the oven till cheese is melted & golden brown)

 
Fill Your Own Tortilla Night (put out Shredded Cheddar & Sour Cream for Cheesefarers)



Spinach & Mushroom Calzones (put a blend of Ricotta, Mozzarella & Parmesan in place of Tofu Mixture in  Cheesefarer's Calzone)


Breakfast Burritos (make Scrambled Egg & Cheese with Salsa filling for Cheesefarers)


Vegan French Toast  (make regular French Toast for Cheesefarers)





Serve Chili Over Rice, with Baked Tortilla Chips (such as Tostitos) for scooping, and Shredded Cheddar over top for Cheesefarers

This is being shared on
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