Jim Lahey’s Irish Brown Bread – No Knead

This is another no-knead bread recipe from the cookbook “My Bread” by Jim Lahey.   I had to veganize this one because it calls for buttermilk.  I just added one Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the 3/4 Cup of unsweetened soy milk, and voila, nice thick buttermilk.  I do have something to say about this recipe, however.  The dough is dry, so add more of the Guinness stout beer if your dough is also dry.  The recipe calls for 3/4 Cup of beer, so next time, I’d make it an even cup.  His dough is usually so wet that this took me by surprise.  I did the slow rise on this one, just to be sure.  Also, after removing the lid during the baking, I baked the bread only a final 20 minutes, not 30, and it was done perfectly in my non-convection, electric oven.  Jim Lahey describes “Jim’s Irish Brown Bread” as “pungent with a hint of barley and the tartness of the buttermilk.”  I did not find this bread pungent or tart.  I didn’t taste barley.  It tasted very close to Lahey’s basic white bread, so am wondering if he was talking about the raw dough.  Not sure.  In texture, this bread is very dense, and actually harder to cut than Lahey’s basic white bread, even with a proper bread knife.  Know that this bread did not rise quite as high as the white bread, probably due to the whole wheat content (I don’t know).  But, it’s excellent, like 10 times better tasting than store-bought bread, of course.  And easy as pie.  Lahey suggests adding currants or raisins and I think that would be great, will try that next time, maybe on St. Patrick’s Day.  Second photo below.  You can find lots of postings on the bread online.

Vegan Shepherds Pie

This delicious Vegan Shepherds Pie is traditional comfort food.  I went to my old Joy of Cooking and it said to add the Worcestershire and also “1 cup of leftover gravy.”  I feel the gravy, while it does enhance the dish, is not critical, so no worries.  I’d say by the time you make the casserole and wash the dishes,  you’ll have at least an hour in the kitchen.  I’ve made this with Boca Crumbles, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Yves Meatless Ground, and all of them worked well.  I also make this in individual casseroles for special occasions, as shown above.


Serves: about 6

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 Cup vegan mayonnaise  (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise with the yellow lid)
1/3 Cup soy milk  (I like WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
3 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese   (substitute vegan sour cream if necessary).
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter (I like the organic one)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 carrot diced fine
2 stalks celery diced fine
6 mushrooms chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire (I like Wizard’s brand)
2 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
12 oz. bag of Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble, or  Boca Meatless Ground Crumbles, or Yves Meatless Ground, etc.
Optional: 1 Cup of leftover gravy is nice to add in, but only if you have it hanging around in the fridge or freezer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fill large pot with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt.   Place peeled and diced potatoes into the pot of cold salt water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain.   Place drained potatoes back in empty pot and add mayonnaise, soy milk, cream cheese and sea salt. Mash or whip until creamy and smooth. Set aside.

Heat vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add in the onion, carrot, celery, and (optional) mushrooms. Heat until softened, about 15 minutes.   Turn heat down one click.  To vegetables, add tomato paste, Worcestershire, garlic, pepper and salt.  If you have it, add the optional gravy here.   Cook at least 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add in the meatless ground, and stir to mix well.   Cook three more minutes and add a bit of water or broth if the mixture looks at all dry (1/4 Cup or so, if needed).

Spray a 3-litre casserole dish with cooking oil.  Pour Boca/vegetable mixture into the casserole dish and spread mashed potatoes on top.  Spray top of potatoes with cooking oil and then dust with paprika.   Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until edges are bubbling.  Serve hot.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread – With Spelt or Brown Rice Flours

These two vegan Irish Soda Breads are prettier, more delicious and healthier than the norm.  I took this to an Irish St. Patrick’s Day party and it was the best soda bread there, hands down, and I was asked by the Irish women for the recipe.   I developed this recipe two different ways;  a more traditional-looking one with all-purpose and spelt flours, and another version with all-purpose and brown-rice flours (see photo at bottom).  These are refined enough for a celebration, but still rustic enough to hold with tradition.  If you look at the bottom of the post for the photo of the brown-rice-flour version, you’ll see that it’s a pretty golden color.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
a bit of coarse corn meal to sprinkle the pan with
1-1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 Cup spelt flour (or brown rice flour)
5 tablespoons sugar, and set one teaspoon out of this sugar aside
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter, chilled.
1 cup cold soy milk (I prefer WestSoy unsweetened organic)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar)
1/3 Cup golden raisins
1/3 Cup regular dark raisins
Plenty of bench flour (just extra flour to work with)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut up butter into small (1/2″) pieces and put in freezer to chill.  Add vinegar to cold soy milk, stir and put back in refrigerator (this will thicken and is your vegan buttermilk).   Set raisins to soak in a cereal bowl, in a little water or juice.  Spray an 8-inch-diameter round cake pan with nonstick spray, and then sprinkle bottom of pan with coarse corn meal.

In large bowl, put flour, 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and dry whisk to blend.   Cut in cold vegan butter with a pastry cutter, until a coarse meal forms.   Make a well in center of flour mixture, add cold buttermilk and stir just until blended.   Drain raisins and then stir in the drained raisins, just until mixed.   Flour your counter generously.

Using floured hands, gently shape dough into a ball. Dough will be very sticky so add more bench flour as you shape the dough, several tablespoons if you have to, but know this is a pretty wet dough anyway.  Gently fold the dough ball over onto itself a few times. Transfer to prepared pan (seam side down) and flatten very slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan).   With an oiled knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough, and then sprinkle dough with remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake bread until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.   Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Vegan Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes

IMG_3042     These vegan Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes are one of those classic things you can prepare the day before and even take somewhere (as long as you can use the oven at your destination).  I developed this potato one Thanksgiving when 30 people were coming for supper, and I knew the last-minute scramble before serving would be a nightmare if I had to mash potatoes too.  This is not the gloppy, cheddar-cheese-filled concoction of the 1990’s, but (while still rich) a lighter, creamier addition to the plate.  It’s forgiving, in that the final baking can be done in the oven alongside anything else, on almost any temperature, for varied lengths of time.  I like to use only onion, and some vegan sour cream to make the texture silky.  A perfect dusting of paprika is achieved when you put a bit in a very fine sieve and hold it high above the potatoes and tap gently with one finger.  Here, I did pipe the potatoes through a pastry bag, but these look strikingly rustic when you simply fork the whipped potatoes into their little jackets any which way.  You can also rake the fork over the top of the potatoes (like plowing a field) to make little ridges that will crisp, and little swales that will hold that pooling pat of Earth Balance vegan butter.  I leave the salt out of the recipe, because you can taste it better if you put a finishing sprinkle of sea salt at table.


Makes 8 generous servings, and they freeze well too.

4 white baking potatoes,  such as Russets or Idaho
One white onion  (or yellow, or shallots)
4 Tablespoons vegan sour cream

Wash potatoes well.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place potatoes directly on lower-middle oven rack, and bake 30 minutes.
Dice the onion fine, and place into a large mixing bowl.
When 30 minutes is up, pierce each potato (deeply) twice with a dinner fork, along one long sideIt’s important where you poke it, because when you slice the baked potatoes open to hollow out the jackets, you’ll run your knife along the horizontal fork perforations on the one long side.

Put pierced potatoes back into hot oven and bake 30 minutes more, and then remove all from the oven.    Let potatoes cool only slightly, maybe 15 minutes.
Measure out the vegan sour cream into the onions bowl (this will allow the sour cream to soften slightly while you do the rest).
Using a potholder or clean dish cloth to protect your hand, slice potatoes open the long way, along the fork holes.   Taking care to reserve the empty potato skins intact, scoop out the potato innards into the onions bowl.

Mix all with an electric mixer a minute or two, until a thick-but-creamy mixture is attained.    Determine here if you wish to add another tablespoon or two of the vegan sour cream, and complete mixing.    Pipe or stuff the whipped potatoes into the empty potato jackets.    Dust with paprika from on high, through a fine mesh sieve.
Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to do the second baking.
Put any extra, stuffed potato boats in the freezer (they freeze well).
When you’re ready to do the final baking, place stuffed potatoes in the oven on a baking dish, and heat to whatever temperature you are using for your main dish.  You’ll know when they’re done by their golden  appearance.  A guideline would be 35 minutes on 350, or 30 minutes at 400, etc.  No worries, just as long as they’re good and hot.
Don’t forget to serve with a pat of Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter, and a sprinkling of fine sea salt.

No Knead Rye Bread by Jim Lahey

OK, I had actually put away the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey.  But then I started to wonder what to blog for St. Patrick’s Day.  Vegan Corned Beef and Reuben sandwiches came to mind.  But first, we need rye bread, right.  So, here are my comments on this recipe.  The rye bread will not rise quite as high as the other boule loaves in the book, due in part to the rye flour.  I substituted one cup of stone-ground whole wheat flour for one cup of the white bread flour, with good results.  I added 1/4 teaspoon of caraway seeds and it was not enough, virtually undetectable.  So next time I’ll add 1/2 teaspoon at least.  I have found every recipe in this book to be very forgiving and would not hesitate to do a quick rise on this rye bread, even with the whole wheat flour in it.  To do this, you would simply add 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or other vinegar) to the very-warm (almost hot) water (instead of the usual cool water).  Allow 3-4 hours for the first rise (instead of 18), and one hour at least for the 2nd rise.  That’s it.  I did it the slow way and with the whole wheat, got a denser, shorter (in height) loaf without so many big holes in it.  It was good and had a nice rye flavor without being overpowering.  p.s.  The bread you see above was grilled in a cast-iron pan to make the vegan Reuben sandwich, but it is a pleasingly dark bread anyway, especially with the subbing of some whole wheat flour.  And, if you go to make a vegan Reuben sandwich, check out the vegan Russian Salad Dressing also on this site.

Anna Karenina’s Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

If Vronsky is coming to supper, you MUST have a delicious Russian Salad Dressing,  nyet?  In my case, I simply wanted to make vegan Ruben sandwiches with homemade rye bread, and you can’t do that without a fine Russian salad dressing.  So I dug out my old Joy of Cooking (circa 1975) and found a recipe for Russian Dressing or Russian Mayonnaise.    JOC’s recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of caviar or salmon roe; which is both gross and ecologically irresponsible.  But I zeroed in on the grated onion and knew that was a key element.  I’m guessing this dressing is easily doubled;  just consider the salt, pepper and cayenne if you do so.
Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

Makes enough for about four salads, or 6-8 sandwiches.

½ Cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
1/3 Cup catsup (or bottled chili sauce)
1 to 2 rounded Tablespoon(s) of finely minced or grated raw onion (I prefer white onion for this)
1/16th tsp cayenne (or 1/4 tsp)
1 Tablespoon sweet relish
1 Tablespoon chopped capers
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (remember that the capers are salty)
1/8 tsp pepper  (I prefer white pepper)
1/4 tsp vegan horseradish (such as Kelchner’s Brand)

Mix all and chill,  and prepare to fend off inappropriate advances from Vronsky.

Note: This is good on vegan Ruben sandwiches, and of course, on iceberg lettuce. Do not omit the onion. If you have fresh dill in the garden, you could very finely mince a half teaspoon of that and add it. This is my own recipe that I developed after looking in several  cookbooks.  The Joy of Cooking recipe also calls for the horseradish.  I’ve only found one vegan horseradish, a brand called Kelchner’s, made in Pennsylvania.  This can be tricky to find, but now I realize it is kept almost exclusively in the seafood department here.  On the main shelves, I could only find the creamed sauce horseradish blends.  Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook (circa 1961) calls for pimiento, chives and finely cut green pepper, all of which would be great too.  My recipe above is luscious as is, but I’m making these notes here so I’ll feel free to add things in future if I have them on hand.  You can use my recipe as a base and improvise!

Vegan Red Cabbage Braised with Maple and Ginger

This is a takeoff on a Molly Stevens recipe.  I’ve eliminated the meat and added a tad more of the good fats to partially compensate, and left out the other bad fats (cow secretions).  The result is a really delectable, mild cabbage dish that you could add to almost any meal.  The teaspoon of fresh grated ginger scared me at first, but trust me, it melds into this succulent dish, and gets swallowed up and mellowed by the apple cider vinegar and the maple syrup.  You would think this cabbage would taste a bit acidic, but it does not!  And as you can see, it’s exceedingly beautiful, like shredded amethysts.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice.  This makes a lot, so I put some in the freezer, so see how it freezes.  I think this would be a neat twist on St. Patrick’s Day too.  You could do a lot with the leftovers, but this is possibly best just served hot or warm with a sprinkle of fleur de sel or other fine sea salt.  p.s.  I made this from start to finish in my Le Creuset 7-1/4 Quart Enameled Cast Iron French Oven.  I had to look up the instructions to confirm that I could use this heavy French oven on top of my glass-topped electric oven (it said I could).   Le Creuset has a good use and care section on their main web site.   This pot was my big Christmas gift two years ago and I’m using it more and more; a worthy investment.

Serves 6 to 8.    Braising Time: about 1 hour

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter
1 medium yellow onion (6 ounces), thinly sliced
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced, and tossed with a little lemon juice (lemon juice is optional)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (use it all, you’ll hardly taste it)
1 medium head of red cabbage (about 1.75 pounds), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, such as Mapletree Farm brand

-Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
-Set a large deep ovenproof pot or skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil and one tablespoon of the Earth Balance vegan butter.
-Immediately add the sliced onion, salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring a few times, until the onion turns limp, about 2 minutes.
-Add the 2nd Tablespoon of vegan butter if you want to (optional).
-Add the apple and ginger and stir to combine.
-Increase the heat to medium-high and begin adding the thinly-sliced cabbage a few handfuls at a time. Once all the cabbage is in the skillet, sauté, stirring frequently, until the strands begin to wilt and have a moist gleam, about 6 minutes.
-Add the vinegar and maple syrup, stir to incorporate well.
-The braise: Cover the pan and slide into the middle of the oven. Braise at a gentle simmer, stirring every 20 minutes, until the cabbage is tender and deeply fragrant, about 1 hour.
-Serve warm or at room temperature.
(re-heats well)

World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage

This  is a Molly Stevens recipe.  She uses a lot of meat in her book, but this recipe was safe.  And freaking delicious.  That last sprinkle of good salt is a must.  The first bite is OK, the next bite is good and then the next is better.  Almost sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender, and then a teensy bit of heat from the tiny dash of red pepper flakes.  This is going to be amazing in March when i try the vegan corned beef on Everyday Dish TV!  I can only imagine it with the horseradish cream I posted a while back.  It’s the slow cooking (braising) that sweetens the normally somewhat-strong earthy flavor of the cabbage.  I think next time I would add even a few more onion rings as they come out just slightly caramelized and exquisite.  I read one review that mentioned how good the carrots are, so they increased those.  I used a Le Creuset French (Dutch) oven.  The cookbook says it’s better the next day, so I plan to serve it tomorrow (Christmas Eve) with my vegan French Canadian Tourtiere (will blog).  p.s.  The long cooking time might seem a bit humbug, but it literally takes less than ten minutes to get this in the oven and then you can do whatever while it’s braising.

World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage

Serves 6   (cooking time is 2 hours and 15 minutes)

1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1 large yellow onion (about 8 ounces), thickly sliced
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1/4 Cup of vegetable stock or water (I use a vegan stock cube)
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly oil a large gratin dish or baking dish (9″ x 13″ works well) (I used a 7 1/4 quart round Le Creuset French Oven (Dutch oven)
Peel off and discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves from the cabbage.  Cabbage should not be more than two pounds or it will crowd the braising dish.
Cut cabbage into 8 wedges.
Arrange wedges in baking dish, doing your best to create a single layer.  (I deviated from the recipe and laid my wedges with the pointy side up, not on their sides, and so I did not have to turn the wedges at all, I had more room in the pan, and the wedges kept their shape very well.  See photo below).
Scatter in the onion and carrot.
Drizzle over the oil, and the vegetable stock or water.
Season with salt, pepper and and red pepper flakes.
Cover tightly with foil, or the lid of your pot, and slide into the center of your oven to braise until vegetables are completely tender, about 2 hours.
If you have laid your wedges on their sides, then turn the wedges over after one hour, doing your best to keep them intact.
If the dish is drying out at all, add a few tablespoons of water before re-covering.
Once the cabbage is completely tender, remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and roast until the vegetables begin to brown, another 15 minutes or so.
Serve hot or warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with coarse Fleur de sel or other coarse salt.
You can warm this up the next day in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or so.  (cookbook says it’s even better next day).

If you look closely, you might be able to see that the cabbage wedges are placed in the baking dish with the pointy sides facing up, not on their sides.  This was my idea to eliminate turning them during the baking process, and it worked also to keep them intact better for nicer plating, and I had enough room for all the cabbage this way.

Another variation would be to sprinkle on 1-1/2 Tablespoons of balsamic halfway through the braising, but I urge you to try it this way first before experimenting.

Horseradish Cream

This recipe is from The Blooming Platter vegan blog, and it’s incredibly quick, simple and delicious!  I was tempted to add more of the sour cream, but found that Betsy DiJulio’s blend of equal parts is just right.  Some may like it hotter, though.  This is great on a vegan Oktoberfest plate, but will also be great with vegan corned beef in March, such as this recipe on Everyday Dish TV.

Vegan Horseradish Cream

makes 3/4 to 1 cup

6-8 Tablespoons vegan sour cream, such as Tofutti brand
6-8 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream style, because it is not vegan).  In the seafood department of your grocery store, you may be able to find Kelchner’s brand of horseradish which is accidentally vegan.

Whisk together both ingredients with a fork until well combined.  Cover and chill.  You can obviously make more or less, just use equal parts of the two ingredients.