Vegan Hot & Sour Soup & The Breadmaker “Aha” Moment

It’s Somer Saturday and I figured 6 days in the raw was plenty. I admit I did end up sneaking a slice a toast, but I will tell you more about that in a minute. Part of my motivation for going raw was that my kids and I got pink eye, a vomiting bug and colds all in one week (maybe it was some insanely mean super virus?)….And my husband was out of town for most of it (lucky him). I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t eaten raw I would have laid in bed most of the week, but instead I was able to function fairly well. Then the icing on the cake, Friday afternoon while playing on the play-set swings in my backyard with my 3 year old, we had a collision of sorts and I ended up nearly putting my tooth through my bottom lip. I shall spare you the gory details, but let you know that I typically handle other people’s injuries amazingly well, I’m like a superhero and always know what to do with a calm and collected manner. However, when it comes to my own blood, especially copious amounts of it, not so much… it’s like kryptonite. I get woozy, and I nearly faint. Anywho….It was this “kick in the head” that motivated me to break the raw fast and eat something warm, comforting and easily slurpable past a fat lip.

Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

4 C. Vegetable Stock

2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

1 T. miso (I used yellow, pretty sure most varieties will do)

dash or two of cayenne pepper

1 C. shitake mushrooms, slivered

2 T. Cornstarch

1/2 package Mori Nu silken tofu (extra firm) cut into 1/2 inch dice

2 T. finely grated ginger

3 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

3 T. rice vinegar

1 small can bamboo shoots, drained

1 small can water chestnuts, drained

1 t. sesame oil

pinch raw sugar

2 T. wood ear mushrooms (Chinese fungi, if you can’t find them, just omit them)

Method: Add all ingredients to soup pot. Bring to a low boil then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over low heat. Great for a swift kick to the head, colds or whatever else ails you.

Now for the Breadmaker “Aha” moment. My friend Emmy at emmycooks.com posted a breadmaker recipe this week. In her post she asked if anyone had a 100% whole wheat breadmaker loaf, and if they would like to share the recipe. Well, as you know I had posted a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe earlier this week. I decided to scale it down and test it out start to finish in my breadmaker to see how it would fare, on the express function. That’s right folks, 100% whole wheat vegan sandwich loaf in less than an hour flat (58 minutes to be precise). It would take more time, money, stress and gas $$ to drive to the store,  select the loaf, pay for it, and drive home. FOR REALS. Now you know why I had to cheat on my raw food week and have a slice of toast. AMAZING! Here is the scaled down version in case you don’t want to do the math 😉

Breadmaker Express 100% Whole Wheat Vegan Sandwich Loaf

1.5 C. warm water

2 C. whole wheat flour (from hard red winter wheat)

1 C. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

2 T. agave or pure maple syrup

1.5  heaping t. yeast (each measured and heaped individually)

2 T. vital wheat gluten (great for higher rise, less dense bread)

1.5  t. kosher salt

1.5 t. lecithin (make sure yours is soy based, makes bread soft without the addition of oil)

Method: Dump all ingredients into a bread-maker. Press express function. Walk away. Return in 58 minutes for delicious hot bread. Huzzah!

Mmm . . . this makes your house smell so good

Bacon Ricotta Noodles

Jen here!  This is actually the first of a two-for-one recipe . . . but we almost never get to the second part (“Mock spinach and Ricotta Lasagna) because we like these noodles so much – but I’ll give those instructions, if you really, really want.  I’ve run across the recipe (or similar) a couple of times.  I’m sharing from another favorite cookbook, Desperation Dinners!, which is a book full of (and I quote from the cover) “Home-cooked meals for frantic families in 20 minutes flat.  by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross.”  These recipes really do go together fast . . . maybe up to 30 minutes if you’re interrupted by your kids . . . or have to wash the pot before you can use it.  But, hey, I’m flexible.  They also don’t count oven preheating or water boiling in their 20 minutes to the table time.  They figure you walk in the door, turn on the oven or stove, drop off your stuff, get home and settled, and then start your 20 minutes dash to dinner.

So – here it goes – and remember, there are few things that make your house smell better than bacon and onions cooking together.  (While attempting to type this post, I fixed a bowl of these noodles, only to have it hijacked by my two-year old.  They’re kid-friendly, too.  We used whole wheat penne this time for a bit more nutritional punch.)  I’m guessing that over time, we’ll learn to make our own ricotta cheese, because I think it can be made with the same kit as the mozzarella.  When making this, don’t forget to save the 3T pasta water for the sauce.

Bacon Ricotta Noodles (Two-For-One Noodles p. 170)

4 cups (16 ounces) penne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (for 1/2 cup diced)
3 slices bacon (turkey, regular, or low-sodium)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1 large container (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup already-grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1/2 teaspoon dried basil*
3 tablespoons hot water from the pasta pot

1.  Place the penne in 3 quarts of already-boiling unsalted water and cook until tender, 11-13 minutes (per package).

2.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in an 8-inch or larger nonstick skillet, over low heat.  Peel and dice the onion and add it to the skillet.  Coarsely chop the bacon, add it to the skillet and cook until  the onion is tender and the bacon is not quite crisp, about 3 minutes.  While the onion and bacon cook, chop the parsley (if using). *If you have fresh basil substitute 1 tablespoon chopped for the dried.  Chop it when you chop the parsley, if using.

3.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and onion to a 3-quart or larger serving bowl.  To the bowl add the ricotta, the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and hot cooking water from the pasta pot.  Stir well and set aside.

4.  Drain the penne well and pour half immediately into the bowl with the ricotta mixture.  Stir well to mix, and add the remaining penne and stir well again.  Season with salt and pepper and serve, passing extra Parmesan at the table.

Serves 8 or 4 with leftovers to make the lasagna.

Mock Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna p. 172

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
4 cups leftover Two-for-One Noodles (half of the above recipe)
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce (or one quart bag if you’ve made your own)
1 cup (4 ounces) already-shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  The oven should be already heated to 425°F.

2.  Place the block of frozen spinach in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave on high for 5 minutes to defrost.

3.  Meanwhile, place the Two-for-One Noodles in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish, separating any that may be stuck together.  When the spinach id defrosted, drain well and scatter over the noodles.  Top with the spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.

4.  Bake until bubbly hot, 12 minutes.  Serve at once.

Serves 4