Eggless, Yeastless Yummy “Stone Soup” Bread

Vegan bread with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and sage.

Vegan bread with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and sage.

In our new apartment, I want to have a “Zero Waste Kitchen”, but that means I have to use up as much as possible in the current apartment before we move. The idea is to start with a clean slate. To do that we need to make sure we do not bring bad habits with us. Today, I made bread, and in the process used up the last of our sun dried tomatoes, blue corn flour, extra jar of white four, and baking powder – as well as some almond milk. What I got, had the texture of a nice country loaf.

And it was 100% vegan.

Why Stone Soup Bread? Because, like Jean-Francois’s idea for stone soup, this recipe is so flexible that practically anything can go into it, and it complements salad or soup, and makes a nice sandwich. You could even use stone soup broth in the mixture. Best of all, I doubt I will ever miss traditional breads ever again.

I cannot take credit for the idea. I found the source recipes on the internet when searching for ways to use flour without eggs and yeast. I have Tish’s recipe at Food.com, Veggie Bon Vivant’s adaptation of Mark Bittman’s (How to Cook Everything), and a half day of looking at nearly empty jars and wondering what would work together.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat over to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix 3 cups of a variety of flours (blue corn, unbleached, corn meal, and whole wheat) with 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Chop 4 withering green onions and about 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (in oil) and add them to the flour mixture. NOTE: I chopped the tomatoes on a wooden chopping board and left the oil on the board to use later when shaping the bread dough.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons dried sage to the flour mixture. Any herb would work, be creative.
  5. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup olive oil and 1-1/2 cups almond milk.
  6. Add liquids to flour mixture and mix until flour is moist but not very sticky.
  7. Turn dough on to wooden board (the one with the tomato oil). Flip a few times to shape into a ball.
  8. Drop ball onto baking sheet.
  9. Cook for 45 minutes.
Just out of the oven, not the blue colour from the blue corn flour.

Just out of the oven, note the blue colour from the blue corn flour.

And voila, two veggies saved from compost, three jars empty and ready to be packed, and a nice hearty snack to get me through the afternoon. I suspect this bread will toast up nicely and make heavenly croutons, too.

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Seitanic bites?

I like meat.

Bonnie Lee likes meat.

Despite that, meat has never been a big part of our diet, and it’s not something we cook with at home very often.

We made that choice very consciously when we were first married based on simple arithmetic: it takes more land, water and sunshine to make a pound of meat than a pound of vegetables — and there is only so much water, sunshine and land to go around. Given that, and the fact that there are people who go to bed hungry, a meat-rich diet always felt like taking more than our fair share. It always felt selfish and wasteful.

Having been raised in traditional North American households, though, we both grew up with meat at the centre of our diets, and enjoy meat’s bite and texture, not to mention that burst of umami. When a meal calls for that, we often use seitan.

There are many varieties of commercial seitan, and most are very tasty, but if you’d rather opt out of the additives, packaging and transportation that come with processed food, you’ll be pleased to note that it’s easy to make at home. We made our fist batch this weekend, and it was better than any packaged seitan I’ve ever tried. It was flavourful on it’s own – even better after sitting in a chipotle marinade – and had a great mouthfeel. We used it to make tacos, which we served with a fresh homemade salsa and cilantro rice. I’m currently working on a vegetarian collection for the 222 million tons app, and this recipe definitely made the cut.

Seitan tacos

Seitan tacos

Seitan (six servings)

Ingredients

Seitan
Broth
  • 4 cups stone soup or other broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp tamari sauce
  • ½ inch ginger
  • 1 thick slice of onion
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions

  • Warm 4¾ cups of stone soup broth over medium heat.
  • Remove ¾ cups of the broth to make the seitan. Add in the tamari, lemon juice and crushed garlic.
  • Put the flour in a bowl, pour in the spiced broth, and mix.
  • Take the elastic glob that forms out of the bowl, squeeze out any excess liquid, and knead it for 2 or 3 minutes until it gets tough.
  • Shape it into a loaf, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • While the seitan is resting, add the water, tamari sauce, ginger, onion and garlic to the remaining broth and bring to a low boil.
  • Cut the seitan loaf into ¼ inch slices, then boil those in the broth for about an hour.
Seitan cutlets

Seitan cutlets

Rescued mushroom risotto

A few months back, I wrote an entry on stone soup, which suggested that people freeze vegetable peels and bits that they would normally compost or throw away, and then use them to make stock. If you followed that advice, you will have noticed by now that you generate a fair amount of stock. We end up making about 8 cups of it a week.

This week, I found myself with about six cups of stock to use up, and was in the mood for something heartier than soup. We also had a few oyster and porcini mushrooms that were drying up in the vegetable crisper – all of which added up to the perfect excuse to make a white wine and mushroom risotto.

I started by rehydrating the mushrooms in white wine, which not only made the mushrooms nice and plump, but also gave me a rich-coloured mushroomy liquid to start the risotto with. (Bonus! That wouldn’t happen with fresh mushrooms.) That, plus a stone soup broth that had strong corn, beet and celery notes made for a dish with a complex palette of flavours and a creamy texture. Not bad, considering that the slightly shriveled mushrooms and stock ingredients were all things that would have ended up in the bin in many homes.

Of course, we ended up with more risotto than we could eat in one sitting – but the leftovers made for very good risotto cakes.

One thing I should mention is that making risotto the old-fashioned way takes time (about 45 minutes) and much that time is spent stirring. If you don’t have time for that, you can make it in a rice cooker with a lot less fuss (there are a few recipes on-line). I’ve tried that, and the result was quite good, though not as good.

Mushroom risotto

Rescued mushroom risotto, served with faux meat balls & salad

Rescued mushroom risotto (serves 6)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried mushrooms
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups stone soup (or other) stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Directions

  • Cover mushrooms in wine, and allow to reconstitute. This can take up to 30 minutes, depending on how dry the mushrooms were to begin with.
  • While the mushrooms are reconstituting, heat your stock in a deep skillet, and keep it warm over medium low heat.
  • When the mushrooms are reconstituted, set the liquid aside for later use. Sauté the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until they are tender – then set those aside for later use.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat, then toss in the sliced onion and crushed garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  • Add in the Arborio rice, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add in the liquid from the mushrooms, and stir until it the liquid absorbed.
  • Add in the warm soup stock, one ladleful at a time, and stir until the liquid is absorbed. When you’ve used up about ¾ of the stock, add in the mushrooms, and keep going. After each ladleful is absorbed, you should taste the risotto. When the the rice is al dente, and the sauce is creamy, it will be done. You may need a little less stock than indicated, or a little more. If you need more, and have run out, just use water that has been boiled and is still warm.
  • When the risotto is done, stir in one tablespoon of butter, the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately.
Fun facts
Amount of shriveled mushrooms saved from landfill per six portions of rescued mushroom risotto. 1/4 cup
Approximate volume of shriveled mushrooms that could be saved from landfill every year if everyone in the US had 4 servings of rescued mushroom risotto a year. 12,000 cubic meters
Approximate volume of the Tower of Pisa. 10,000 cubic meters

Stone soup dahl

About a month ago, I wrote an entry on what I call stone soup. The recipe in that entry is simple:

…whenever I peel or chop vegetables or meats, I toss any bits that would usually be destined for the compost or garbage bin into a colander, wash them, then put them in a container in the freezer.  When I want to make stock, I throw the stone-like frozen scraps into water and boil.

As one friend noted, though, “Ive started my stone soup freezer bag! Once you start, it grows quickly!” Very quickly – and the challenge is to find varied ways to use up all that stock (we end up making about 8 cups of it every weekend). Last week, I did something based on this great dahl recipe from  Wolfgang Puck, and it’s definitely a keeper.

For the version I made, I used brown lentils, rather than orange ones – and stone soup stock rather than chicken stock. The stock that week was made with a healthy amount of beet peelings, and was dark colored with earthy tones, which worked perfectly in this recipe. I served the dahl with some homemade dosa (a rice and lentil batter pancake), kale salad, a spicy coleslaw, and some watermelon rind chutney – a satisfying, warming meal.

One thing to note: unless you’re catering a wedding, I suggest that you make about a quarter of the recipe at the link. That makes about 4 normal sized servings.

Stone soup

A hungry traveller arrives in a village, and asks the people there if they have any food to share. They all say no. It is an all too common a story.

This particular traveller, however, does not leave the village defeated and hungry. He does not go on to die by the side of the road – though countless others in his situation certainly have. Instead, he fills a pot with water, pulls a stone out of his travel bag and drops it in, and places the pot on the fire. 

One by one, the villagers come to him, and ask him what he is doing. He explains that this is a soup stone, and that he making stone soup, which he would be happy to share – and which would be even better with the addition of some small ingredient. 

The villagers, who not so long ago claimed to have nothing, each add a little something to the stone broth, eventually creating a feast together – one which they share.

In case you never heard it before, the above is a boiled down version of the story of stone soup. I can still remember the first time my mother read it to me. Something about it moved me. The traveller was cunning, and the moral of the story resonated – but more significantly, I was amazed that that’s all there was to soup. I quizzed my mother to make sure I understood properly – that all you had to do to make soup was boil stuff. I was three or four years old, and am quite sure I’d never thought about where soup came from before. Soup, to me, was a rich flavored liquid, origins unknown, that warmed and satisfied on a cold day. And all you had to do to make it was boil stuff. That felt like magic to me.

All these years later, the ability to extract the essence of foods, and to combine them into complex, layered flavors still feels like magic. For years, I started with whole vegetables and chickens, but have had better results lately using food that used to go straight into the compost or garbage.

What I do is this: whenever I peel or chop vegetables or meats, I toss any bits that would usually be destined for the compost or garbage bin into a colander, wash them, then put them in a container in the freezer.  When I want to make stock, I throw the stone-like frozen scraps into water and boil. I made the last batch with corn cobs, chicken wing tips, carrot greens, onion skins, celery and carrots ends, carrot peels and some cauliflower leaves and carrot tops that didn’t make it onto the menu a few weeks ago. It was complex with a hint of sweetness – and, in the spirit of stone soup, it was a broth made in what some would perceive as the absence of food.

I used three cups “stone soup” broth to make one of my favorite soups – a spicy beer and cheddar soup. The final product really benefitted from the multitude of flavors in the broth, particularly the distinctive flavor of corn imparted by the corn cobs.

Spicy beer & cheddar soup (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 serrano pepper (with seeds), sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup beer (I use a white beer)
  • 3 cups “stone soup” broth
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix mustard powder into vinegar and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion, serrano pepper and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until onion is translucent.
  3. Add in the celery and carrots, and sauté for about five minutes.
  4. Add in the beer and stone soup broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Melt the butter over medium heat in a deep skillet, and whisk in the flour.  Continue to whisk over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to turn a light shade of brown. Whisk in the milk, and heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Stir in the cheese, and once it’s melted, pour the cheese sauce into the soup and blend.
  6. Add in the mustard mixture, and salt and pepper to taste.