Cucumber Soygurt Sauce Recipe

cucumber soygurtCucumber Soygurt Sauce is a vegan take on the Greek classic, Tzatziki.

1 6 oz. carton plain unsweetened soygurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped fine or grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tspn fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together soygurt, cucumber, lemon juice, mint, sugar, and salt.
  2. Keep refrigerated; use within 3 days.
Recipe courtesy of Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold

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Onion Garlic Naan Recipe

naan breadMost naan you find at the market or out at restaurants are made with buttermilk, an ingredient that's verboten for vegans. It's not a problem here, as I've found a way to create the same light texture while bypassing animal products altogether. Use as a base for a pizza, dip in hummus, or munch on its own. Either way, it satisfies a bread craving.

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted
1 tspn salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

  1. In a medium sauté pan over high heat, cook the onion in the olive oil, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. When the onions are translucent and just golden brown, remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl using a wooden spoon, combine the onion-garlic mixture, water, melted margarine, and salt. Begin adding 3 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time. Add the extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour only if you need it to form a smooth dough that doesn't stick to your hands.
  3. Form the dough into a large ball and cut into 16 equal pieces; roll each into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into an 8-inch circle.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place each naan in the pan for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side.
Makes a dozen naan.

Recipe courtesy of Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold

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Spinach and Orange Salad Recipe

spinach and orange saladThis recipe for Spinach and Orange Salad is an easy salad to serve any time of the year. It goes well with almost any meal and with spinach, garlic, oranges, and olive oil, it is also extremely healthy.


1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

2 oranges, peeled, sectioned and halved
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Mix together all of the ingredients. Stir occasionally and let stand for at least a half-an-hour before combining with the salad.
salad dressing

After the dressing is ready, in a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and serve.

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Bolo de Maracujá (passion fruit cake) Recipe

bolo de maracujáThe first time that I tried Bolo de Maracujá was at a birthday party in Piracicaba located in the Brasilian state of São Paulo. The Bolo de Maracujá is one of the most common desserts in Brasil. The cake itself is mildly sweet from the passion fruit juice. The bolo (cake) is then topped with whipped cream made from scratch along with a sweet and tart tasting fruit glaze.

The most challenging part of making the Bolo de Maracujá is getting your hands on the 2 to 3 passion fruit that you will need to make the bright yellow glaze for the topping. Passion fruit is native to Paraguay and Brasil but can be found in select produce markets around the World throughout the year. You will find these fruit either fresh, big and shiny with a yellow to purple hue or old and shriveled. The fruit in either form will work as the nectar and seeds inside are not affected by the fruit's outward appearance.

Recommended Equipment:
9 inch spring-form pan

2 tbsp butter + butter to grease pan
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup passion fruit juice (I made it from frozen pulp and a little water)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder

whipped cream

passion-fruit topping:
2 to 3 passion fruits
1 1/2 cups confection sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the spring-form pan. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites into two bowls.
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat egg yolks, sugar, and butter.
  3. While mixing, add the passion fruit juice, flour, and baking powder.
  4. Slowly stir in the egg whites and beat until the dough is smooth and creamy.
  5. Pour the dough into the greased spring-form pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. When a fork can be inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out clean, the cake is done.
  6. Let the cake cool for an hour, then cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 2 hours. Then transfer the pan to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. This process helps lock the moisture into the cake.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and remove the cake from the spring-form pan.
  8. Using a serrated knife, cut a horizontal layer off of the top of the cake if needed to make it flat and level on top.
  9. Prepare the whipped cream. Cover the cake with a smooth layer of whipped cream.
  10. In a medium saucepan, add the pulp and seeds from 2 or 3 passion fruits along with the confection sugar over low heat. Whisk until the mixture thickens.
  11. Let the passion fruit mixture cool and then spoon it evenly on top of the cake and serve. The seeds on top of the cake can and should be eaten as they add to this cake's exceptional flavor.
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Aqua Velva Recipe

Aqua VelvaThe Aqua Velva is named after a brand of aftershave that has a similar hue and was apparently consumed by sailors for its high alcohol content. It was also the signature drink of one of coolest, eclectic bars in Chicago - The Artful Dodger. The Aqua Velva is not the greatest tasting drink by any means but it did get you "gooned" and it came with one of the best props possible for a dark and dingy dance bar - The Glow Stick!!

The Artful Dodger, named after the pickpocket in the Dickens novel Oliver Twist, was like two bars in one. The front room contained a long antique bar along with 5 or 6 booths. The room was decorated like New Orleans with beads hanging from the ceiling and there was also a mural of jazz musicians and instruments. The bar would even have a Cajun buffet on Fat Tuesday with beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya. Hurricanes were also available at the bar. On normal nights, however, this room was more like a traditional Chicago neighborhood corner bar. The drinks were affordable and the beer selection was superb.

At the back of the room was a set of swinging wooden doors like you see in an old-west saloon. On the other side of these doors was a small dance floor with DJ. The walls in this room were painted black with strange Day-Glo Murals. If you can picture this room packed with an eclectic crowd clutching their Aqua Velvas and dancing to some of the best dance music of the day, you can understand some of this bar's appeal. There was no pretension, everyone was just having a great time!!

Unfortunately, the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhoods in Chicago have changed dramatically since I lived in Chicago in the 1990s. One of the victims of the gentrification was the Artful Dodger and the building that it occupied at the corner of Wabansia and Wood. A modern McMansion now stands on this corner. But on days like Mardi Gras or when I'm buying aftershave, I often find myself reminiscing about all the great times that we had at the Artful Dodger.

the Artful Dodger

Recommended Equipment:
cocktail shaker
2 pint glasses

3 shots vodka
3 shots gin
1 shot Sprite
2 shots Blue Curaçao
2 glow sticks
+ additional Sprite to top off drinks

  1. Add the shots of vodka, gin, Sprite, and Blue Curaçao to a cocktail shaker. Add crushed ice and shake until your arm hurts.
  2. Strain equally among the two pint glasses. Top off with additional Sprite.
  3. Add a glow stick to each glass and serve.
Makes 2 Aqua Velvas

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Blackened Chicken Muffuletta Recipe

MuffulettaThe first Muffuletta sandwich was constructed in the early 1900s in New Orleans when a group of Italian immigrants were having their lunch at the Central Grocery. They were eating their bread, meat, and vegetables separately in the traditional European way. The grocery's owner offered to combine all of the ingredients in a sandwich to make it easier to eat and the Muffuletta was born! The Muffuletta gets its name from the large, round Italian bread from which it was originally made.

The first time that I ever tried this sandwich was in Chicago at a small restaurant on Kinzie Street called Club Creole. This restaurant has since closed but its memory still lives on in the hearts and minds of many Chicagoans especially around the time of Mardi Gras.

Central Grocery

Although most people think of Po-Boys and Gumbo when they think of New Orleans and Mardi Gras, the Muffuletta has its place in the Big Easy too. The Muffuletta is one monster of a sandwich. If you can't make it to the Central Grocery this Fat Tuesday, you can make one in your own kitchen instead.

You can either make your own bread or use a round loaf from your favorite baker. Although the thought of baking your own bread might seem kind of crazy, it actually is very easy if you have a dutch oven. For this recipe, we baked a loaf of Easy Artisan Bread, basting it with a light coat of extra virgin olive oil topped with a dusting of sesame seeds before baking.Muffuletta roll

Recommended Equipment:
Dutch oven (if you plan to make your own bread)
cast iron skillet

olive salad:
1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained, chopped, pit removed
1 cup green olives (with pimento), chopped
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup cocktail onions, chopped
1 tspn dried basil
1 tspn dried oregano
1/2 tspn celery salt
1/2 tspn fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
olive salad

Cajun seasoning and blackened chicken:
2 to 3 chicken breasts, butterflied
4 tspn sea salt
5 tspn paprika
4 tspn onion powder
4 tspn garlic powder
1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 tspn fresh ground black pepper
2 tspn dried thyme
2 tspn dried oregano
blackened chicken

Cajun style mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

additional ingredients for the sandwich:
8 oz. mortadella, thinly sliced
8 oz. soppressata or Genoa salami, thinly sliced
8 oz. cooked ham, thinly sliced
8 oz. provolone cheese
1 round loaf of bread

  1. If you plan to make your own bread from scratch, you will need to start the recipe for Easy Artisan Bread a day in advance. If you decide to buy your bread, skip down to making the olive salad.

olive salad:
  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together then transfer the mixture to a glass container. Add additional red wine vinegar, olive oil, and canola oil to cover the vegetables if needed.
  2. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

Cajun seasoning and blackened chicken:
  1. To prepare the blackened chicken, mix all of the ingredients (except for the chicken) in a mixing bowl. Then butterfly the chicken to that the pieces of chicken are 1/2 of there original thickness. Apply the Cajun seasoning to both sides of each piece of chicken. (Be sure to reserve a tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning to use in the mayonnaise). Place the pieces of chicken on a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. When the skillet is hot, place the one of the chicken breasts on the skillet and return it to the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes without flipping the chicken. Remove the chicken and set it aside for later. Repeat this step for each of the chicken breasts.

Cajun style mayonnaise:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil a little at a time while whisking.
  3. When the mayonnaise reaches the desired consistency, add the Cajun seasoning.
  4. Refrigerate the mayonnaise until you are ready to assemble the muffuletta sandwich.

Constructing the Blackened Chicken Muffuletta:
  1. Cut the round loaf of bread horizontally like a hamburger bun. Remove some of the excess bread from the interior part of the loaf to make room for the filling.
  2. Spread a layer of the Cajun style mayonnaise on the bottom piece of the bread.
  3. Next, add a layer of the mortadella.
  4. Followed by a layer of Genoa salami or soppressata.
  5. Next, add a layer of cooked ham.
  6. Top this with a layer of provolone cheese.
  7. Next, place two of the pieces of blacked chicken on top of the cheese.
  8. Top this with as much of the olive salad that you can fit on top of the chicken.
  9. Place the top piece of the bread loaf on top and your Blackened Chicken Muffuletta is complete.
  10. Cut it into 6 to 8 wedges with a serrated knife and serve.
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Taiwanese Sweet and Spicy Wings Recipe

Taiwanese sweet and spicy wingsTaiwanese Sweet and Spicy Wings are fast and easy to make. They feature many of the classic ingredients used in East Asian cuisine such as garlic, ginger, mirin, fish sauce, and soy sauce.

Recommended Equipment:
cast-iron skillet

1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tspn crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tspn ginger, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp dry mustard
8 - 10 wings (cut to make 16 to 20 pieces)

  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the chicken wings.
  2. Place the chicken wings in the skillet and then pour in the sauce.
  3. Place the skillet over high heat until the sauce begins to boil then reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Cook for about 40 minutes, turning the wings frequently to coat them with sauce and cook them evenly. Remove the wings from the heat when the sauce becomes thick and sticky.
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Book Review: Clean Start - Inspiring You To Eat Clean and Live Well

clean startWe are barely into the new year and many of us have already ditched our New Year’s resolutions. Well don’t despair. Author Terry Walters gives us a second chance to improve our diets with her latest book, Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. This book features over 100 vegan and gluten free recipes organized seasonally. Each recipe uses only healthy, fresh ingredients and most are quick and easy to prepare. Many of the recipes also feature full page photographs by Gentl and Hyers.

Throughout the book, Terry Walters stresses the importance of eating “Clean Food” – food that is whole, minimally processed, and close to the source for maximum nutrition. She is, indeed, dedicated to this pursuit. In addition to her books on this subject, she also has a blog, “Eat Clean, Live Well,” she serves on the board of directors of Urban Oaks Organic Farm – one of the largest urban organic farms in the country, and she has trained at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Clean Start begins by making a compelling case for “Eating Clean.” It lists a simple set of recommendations for improving your diet and also provides a litany of benefits for both you and the environment:
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow. The more colorful your diet, the more nutrient rich.
  • Eat dark leafy greens every day. Try using a variety of greens to amp up the nutritional value of your salads, soups, sauces, stir-fries and even smoothies.
  • Eat all five tastes. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent are all found naturally and nutritionally in clean food.
  • Eat foods that are grown, not manufactured. Clean food comes from a green plant, not a processing plant – a farm, not a factory.
  • Skip the package. A package is the first sign that you’ve moved away from the source. Look for foods that don’t require a label to reveal what is inside.
  • Buy clean food and leave the rest behind. Make the difficult choice just once at the store so you’re not faced with making it every time you open your cupboard.
  • Buy and try one new clean food each time you shop. One new clean food a week and by the end of a year you’ll be feeling the benefits of eating clean and living well.
  • Know the source of your food. Make friends with your grocer, your farmer and your local producers. Understanding where and how food was grown or produced is essential to making healthy choices.
  • Buy local and organic when you can. Clean food is fresh and nutrient-rich. What you see is what you get – without a host of unwanted contaminants and byproducts that often accompany conventional growing, processing, and shipping.
  • Be nourished by your food and make peace with your choices. Make conscious choices, enjoy every bite and let your food and mealtime nourish your entire being.
Benefits of a Clean Start
  • The best benefit of a clean food diet is that you’re going to love your food and your mealtime. Here is just a small sample of what else you stand to gain. Other potential benefits include increased energy and vitality, a strengthened immune system, reduced inflammation, reduced acidity, greater heart health, improved mental focus, reduced risk of diabetes, healthy weight control, better absorption of vitamins and minerals, less exposure to genetically modified foods, pesticides, and growth hormones, and fewer complications from food sensitivities.
  • Impact on the environment include less packaging, less waste, less contamination, improved local environment and economy, increase in local jobs, maintains unique local foods, maintains crop diversity, creates a sustainable food system, less overproduction of soy, corn, and beets and less dependence on genetically modified food.
Finally, Terry Walters helps you get there by describing the tools needed, how to build a Clean Start pantry, and by providing valuable information about basic grains, legumes, greens, and vegetable stock. She also provides links to websites that can help you to source local ingredients for your recipes. These include:
In our review of Clean Start, we tried three recipes: Herb Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake Mushrooms, Pear Cake, and Asian Spinach with Peanut Ginger Sauce. The Herb Roasted Cauliflower was a fast, easy, and healthy dish. This method of pan roasting is gaining popularity among busy, working families (see interview with Chef Tyler Florence) and a key technique to master in order to prepare fast and healthy meals. The Asian Spinach was another all-around great side dish that works with almost any meal. Walters also provides a variation of this recipe if peanut allergies are a concern in your family. The steps required to prepare the Pear Cake were a little more involved but the end result was an outstanding dessert with just the right amount of natural sweetness provided by the grated pears and mashed bananas. We give Clean Start four stars out of five.

Related Posts:
Slow Fish Challenge

Chocolate Cake Pop Recipe

This recipe for Chocolate Cake Pops involves making 2 recipes: Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. You will also need your choice of Candy Coating. We chose Dark Chocolate melts from Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates. Here are the recipes and how to assemble the Chocolate Cake Pops:

Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake
This recipe will yield 25 pops with the addition of ¾ cup of frosting and 18 ounces of candy coating for dipping.

Recommended Equipment:
8 inch round cake pan
a block of Styrofoam
lollipop sticks

1 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tspn vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix with a hand-held mixer at low speed until just combined. Increase speed to high and mix for 2 minutes. The mixture will lighten and become thick.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Rich buttercream frosting made with cocoa instead of baking chocolate means no messy melting and easy one-bowl mixing. This frosting is perfect for icing cupcakes, decorating cookies, and adding to cake pop mixtures.

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup milk
1 tspn vanilla extract

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients at low speed. Increase mixer to high speed and continue mixing for 3 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.
Candy Coating
Also known as confectionery coating, candy melts, or candy wafers, this is a chocolate substitute with a low cocoa-butter content, making it more stable and easier to use than regular chocolate. Candy coating also sets faster and harder than regular chocolate, which makes it perfect for dipping pops. There is a wide variety of brands, in a range of colors and qualities. Some popular brands include Wilton Candy Melts, Make ‘n’ Mold, and Merckens Confectionary Coating. We used Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates. You can find candy coating at specialty cake- and chocolate-making stores, craft stores, and many online stores including Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

Assembling the Cake Pops
Once you have your cake and frosting, you’re ready to begin the cake pop creativity. Crumble the cake into very fine pieces with your hands into a large wide shallow pan. Rake your fingers through to find any large pieces left and crumble them up as well. Show the kids how to do this and then let them finish the job.

Add the suggested amount of frosting. Scrunch the frosting in with your hands until the mixture is evenly distributed and holds together easily when you press it together. If the mixture is too dry, it will not hold together properly and crumble; if it is too wet, then the balls will not be able to hold their shape.

Shaping the Pops
Once you have the mixture at the correct consistency, it’s time to shape the cake balls. There are two different methods: hand rolling and pressing the mixture into small cookie or fondant cutters. Before beginning either method, line a tray with parchment paper to hold the shaped cake balls.

To hand-roll the mixture, measure out 4 teaspoons , which should make a round of around 1 1/2 inch diameter. Scrunch the mixture together lightly in your hand and then roll it between your palms to make the ball as smooth as you can. The rolled ball should be firmly packed so it will hold its shape. Using light pressure when rolling will be sufficient; you will not need to press your hands together very hard.

The ball is a good starting point for making other shapes. If you need an oval, just manipulate the shape by rolling your palms back and forth a little. A teardrop shape can be made by pinching one end and lightly flattening the sides. Once the cake ball is shaped the way you want it, place it on the tray lined with parchment paper.

To make the cake ball shapes using the pressing method, place the shaped cutter on the tray lined with parchment paper and press about 2 tablespoons of mixture into the shape. Turn the cutter over to see if the underneath is smooth, with no holes or gaps. If there are holes, turn the shape over again and press the mixture down firmer.

Once you are happy that the underneath is smooth, use your thumb and lightly press out the mixture onto the parchment lined tray, being careful not to break the shape. Once you have released the mixture, turn it over so the smooth side is on top and then gently press down on the shaped cookie mixture. This should help to flatten the other side.

When all of the mixture is shaped to your satisfaction, pop the tray into the refrigerator and chill for around an hour.

Dipping in Candy and Attaching Lollipop Sticks

Once you’ve made the cake balls, it’s time to dip them in candy coating and attach the lollipop stick.

Melting Tips

Melt your candy coating in the microwave on medium low at short bursts of 60 to 90 seconds. This might seem like a lot of work, but the coating can be very delicate and overheating will ruin a whole batch. If you prefer, you can use a double boiler on the stove top, but that involves a lot of extra cleaning up and is not so safe for the kiddies. If using the stove top, always use a double boiler; never use a saucepan directly on the heat.

If you’re using a block of coating, cut or break it into small pieces before melting. Candy melts or buttons are good to go as they are. Use a clean, dry, microwave-safe dish for melting and a clean, dry, metal spoon for stirring. Wooden spoons may have a little moisture in them, and you really don’t want to get any water in with your candy coating. Water will seize the coating, making it unusable for dipping.

Candy Coating Consistency

One of the most important things about dipping pops and other sweets on a stick is the consistency of the melted candy coating. Most brands, when melted, will be just a little too thick for a really smooth finish. Add some paramount crystals or vegetable shortening (like Crisco) when you melt the candy coating. The amount required will vary depending on the brand of candy coating you use. Start off with around 1 ounce of crystals per 14 ounces of candy coating during the melting process and add more as required until the mixture is fluid enough for dipping.

Securing the Stick

Is there anything worse than dipping a treat and losing the whole thing in the bowl of melted candy coating? Well, maybe, but with this simple trick the chances of it happening will be minimal. Here’s the secret: Make sure you dip the end of the lollipop stick in a little melted candy coating before you insert it into the cake pops, marshmallows, cupcakes, or other treats. Then pop them into the refrigerator to set for 10 minutes before continuing with the coating. How easy is that? It’s like yummy glue.

Dipping and Getting a Smooth Finish

Okay, you have your coating at the right consistency, the sticks are secured….time to start dipping. Make sure your dipping bowl is deep enough for the candy coating to cover the whole pop. Dip the pop and then lift it out of the melted candy. Holding the pop over the bowl to catch drips, gently tap the stick against your hand or the side of the bowl to remove excess candy coating. Remove as much excess as possible before you put the pop into the Styrofoam block to set.

Cake Pop Storage

Once decorated and set, cake pops should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Undecorated cake ball mixture can be frozen wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in an airtight container for 4 weeks. When ready to use, completely defrost in the fridge still in the airtight container.

Recipes courtesy of Sweets on a Stick by Linda Vandermeer

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Review: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer

cinnamon rolls inside prooferA couple of months ago, we were asked if we would be interested in reviewing a folding proofer designed by Brød & Taylor. Until that point, we had never used a proofer before. We simply sought out the warmest location in the kitchen and hoped for the best. As you can imagine, consistency was thrown to the wind. And as anyone that has attempted to do a substantial amount of baking can attest, consistency and exact measurements are the two most important keys to success. So we decided to review this product to determine if it actually makes the process of baking any easier.

The proofer itself measures 18 inches by 14 1/2 inches. It was designed so that it could be easily stored in a drawer or cabinet and consume minimal space. When it is folded, it has a height of only 2 1/2 inches (see below).
proofer - folded

When you unfold it.....

proofer - unfolding - 1

proofer - unfolding - 2

proofer - unfolded

it has a height of 10 1/2 inches. This height was high enough to place a mixing bowl from a standard Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer inside with an inch or two to spare. The base, walls, and lid of the proofer are made of sturdy, reinforced polypropylene. There is an aluminum heating plate built into the base. The heating plate has the capacity to heat the inside of the proofer to temperatures between 70 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can be set to the nearest degree using a digital control located on the side of the proofer.

proofer - digital control display

An aluminum water tray rests on top of the heating plate and can provide humidity levels between 60% and 80%. A stainless steel wire rack that sits above the water tray is also provided.

For our evaluation of this product, we wanted to try it out on a variety of baking applications. So we used it to make Breakfast Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Crumb Cake, Neapolitan Pizza Dough, Schnecken, Hungarian Bundt Cake, and Easy Artisan Bread. We also tried each of these recipes without a proofer as a control group. In each case that we used the proofer, our dough rose more (sometimes twice as much) than it did for the same recipe without a proofer. As a result, the recipes in which we used the proofer resulted in dishes with more complex flavors as a result of the enhanced activity of the yeast and the texture of each dish was lighter and chewier.

We never thought of a proofer as a necessity. However, after trying this product on each of these recipes, we found that we wanted to use it for all of our baking applications. If you do any kind of baking at all, this device provides a consistent, controlled environment and eliminates much of the uncertainty involved in developing properly formed dough. We recommend this product 100% if you are seriously interested in further developing your skills as a baker. We say "seriously" as this product currently has a retail price in the range of $150 (US).

Ivar's Clam Chowder Recipe

ivars clam chowderAbout 20 years ago, I spent a summer working at Ivar's Captain's Table Restaurant on Seattle's Elliott Bay. The restaurant always seemed to be busy that summer. By closing time, we would be exhausted but laden with tip money from our labors. To lighten the load, we would spend most if not all of our tips on Henry Weinards or Red Hooks in Pioneer Square usually at J&M Cafe.

Reflecting back on those days, I remember one of the many benefits that employees enjoyed at the Captain's Table was all the clam chowder that you could eat during your (short) lunch or dinner break. The clam chowder at Ivar's was (and still is) so good that I never got tired of it. This is not the exact recipe used at the restaurant, but if memory serves me correct it comes very close.

2 6.5 oz. cans minced clams
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced yellow onion
3 cups diced potatoes (about 3 Idaho potatoes)
3/4 cup flour
12 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups half-and-half, at room temp
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn dry, ground sage
1/2 tspn dry, ground thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan, add the juice from the cans of clams. Set the clams aside for later.
  2. Add the celery, onions, and potatoes to the saucepan. Add enough water to the saucepan to just cover the ingredients that you have added previously.
  3. Place a cover on the saucepan and heat over medium heat for 30 minutes.
  4. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and whisk until the mixture becomes golden brown.
  5. Whisk the half-and-half into the butter and flour mixture (roux). Continue to cook this mixture over medium heat until it thickens (about 5 to 10 minutes).
  6. Add the vegetable mixture to the cream mixture along with the clams, sugar, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  7. Simmer over low heat until you are ready to serve. Serve with fresh sour dough bread.
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