Happy (kimchi) Pancake Day!

Apparently it’s pancake day (according to IHOP). Or if you could care less about IHOP, at the very least next Tuesday is as good enough as any to prepare yourself for celebrating everyone’s favorite flat, round tasty thing.

Pancakes may be my favorite food group: dosas, crepes, blini, gimme. Say no more, I’m coming over.

Here’s a nibble from Vegan Eats World to add to your pancake recipe treasure trove (you do have one, don’t you)? Gluten-free, Korean-style pancakes bursting with kimchi are just what you need on a cold Feburary day like today. Use store bought vegan kimchi or make your own; if possible use “old” kimchi that’s very juicy and soft as those juices will go straight into the batter.

While you can show off and make huge round pancakes, my advice is to take it easy and make lots of small pancakes. Use about ½ cup of batter per cake and spread it to slightly less to 1 inch thickness.

Gluten-Free Kimchi Pancakes (kimchijeon) from Vegan Eats World

Makes up to 3 thick, 10-inch pancakes or a bunch of little pancakes!

For a fast dipping sauce, serve this kimchijeon with a sauce 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar and a dash of toasted sesame oil.

  • 2 cups cabbage kimchi, drained of juices (reserve it) and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mixture of kimchi juice and water (use whatever amount of drained juice is reserved from the kimchi, the rest should be water)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, root ends trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
  • Additional cooking oil spray

1. Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 6 minutes. In a large bowl combine kimchi, kimchi juice/water mixture, oil, scallions, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper powder. Pour in the rice flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to form a thick, chunky batter.

2. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet, then tilt the skillet to spread around the oil. Spread a third of the batter over the griddle, using the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the kimchi chunks throughout. Fry for 5 or 7 minutes, occasionally shifting the pan to evenly brown the pancake. It’s ready to flip when the edges appear dry and bubbles have form all over the top. If the pancake begins to stick, use a little more oil on the next pancake or spray the pan with additional cooking spray.

3. Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake to loosen the bottom and check the color; it should be golden brown and firm. Using a large wide spatula, carefully but quickly flip the pancake; if it’s too difficult, try sliding the pancake onto a plate first, then flipping it over into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the other side is golden. Loosen the pancake with a spatula, then slide it onto a dinner plate, slice into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce.

Feliz navidad con mucho pan

Truth be told, I have been slacking on that Christmas spirit. The summer and fall have been something of blur and I’m just happy to be home and settling in before winter officially kicks in. There’s a pink tinsel Christmas tree I may drag out of the closet by the weekend, I have a batch of cranberry bitters lurking in the corner of the kitchen, but let’s face it, I’m super-lazy about the holidays.

And for the most part, “holiday” food hasn’t been really on my radar. I’ve been obsessed with soups, curries, pizza, growing kombucha babies in tangy tea, gathering supplies for making bitters and pickles. I roasted a batch of chestnuts for kicks last night, and wondered why I don’t do this more often.

But sometimes all it takes to kindle a little holiday cheer is baking up a childhood holiday favorite. But for me it’s not gingerbread or cookies or sugary cakes, but a special savory bread my dad would make (and still does) around Christmas.

This time of year Venezuelan many bakers and home chefs make a rustic, soft bread stuffed with a combination of ham, olives, raisins and capers, not surprising called pan con jamon (ham bread). This sweet, salty and smoky mashup so typically Spanish and tastes great any time of year, but for me it will always taste and smell of Christmas. Or even just feel festive when I’m buying up bottles of olives stuffed with pimentos or capers. But I’ll let you in on a terrible secret: as a miserably picky child, I loathed olives. I’d scream if you got one near me. Yet once a year, this bread would coax the reluctant olive-fan out of me!

Of course, my version is entirely hamless. But my dad’s bread deserves better than factory-made faux ham. There’s where juicy, smoky roasted red bell peppers step in and provide the perfect sweet, savory base. I douse the generous pepper-olive-caper-raisin filling with plenty of extra virgin olive oil for fatty goodness and sweetened it up with a touch of brown sugar and a dash liquid smoke. A touch of thyme, garlic and oregano round out the flavors

Typically pan con jamon is either shaped like a big long rolled up tube, stromboli-style, or formed into small individually round shaped buns. For batch I opted for cinnamon-bun style pinwheels for single-serving ease with with a festive look. And since I’m a huge fan of no-knead bread, I suggest you opt for the overnight fermentation for the fullest-flavored, semi-no knead dough, but you could speed the process along and get shaping the buns after a 2 hour rise.

If you’re looking for a savory alternative to holiday breakfasts or brunches, do give these pan sin jamon pinwheels a go!

Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups gently warmed unsweetened plain almond milk or rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • One 1/4 oz packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers
  • 5.75 ounce jar pimento-stuffed green olives (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2.4 ounce capers (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 2 tablepsoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a microplane grater to a fine pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra olive oil for brushing
  • Smoked salt for sprinkling

1. Pour the warm almond milk into a bowl, whisk in the brown sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.

2. Whisk in the melted coconut oil, then stir in the flour 1 cup at a time and stir for a few minutes into a thick, slightly sticky dough. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with a double layer of plastic wrap and set aside overnight for about 12 hours, or for a minimum of 2 hour or until doubled in size.

3. While the dough is done rising, drain the peppers very well, dice and transfer to a large colander. Drain the olives, roughly dice and add to the peppers. Drain the capers, add to the olives and peppers and using your hands firmly squeeze everything to remove as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a small bowl, add the remaining filling ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil and combine thoroughly. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Generously flour a large work surface and use your hands or a rubber spatula to transfer the dough to the work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough generously with flour, then dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 16 x 10. If necessary, sprinkle the dough with flour to stop any sticking. Brush the olive oil over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of space around the edges.

5. Use your hand to press down on the filling in the bowl and drain away any excess liquid that may have collected. Spread the filling in an even layer over the olive oil. Carefully roll up the dough like a jelly roll and pinch the along the seam to seal, then pinch and tuck in the ends. Place the dough log seam side down and slice into pieces about 1 1/2 inches thick.

6. Carefully transfer the slices (they may be a little fragile, loaded with filling) about 2 inches apart on the paper-lined baking sheets. Gently re-shape the slices if necessary. Cover buns with a damp, clean kitchen cloth and set aside for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F.

7. Gently dab a little olive oil on top of buns and sprinkle with a little smoked salt (just a touch, this is optional but adds another smoky dimension) Bake for 35 minutes or until golden and crusty. Cool slightly before serving. Tightly wrap leftovers and store in the fridge. These are best reheated before serving.

A world of vegan Thanksgivings

I’m hesitant to suggest entire menus for Thanksgiving. They’re everywhere this time of year in magazine spreads and websites, promising to make this year’s feast special. But really, practically everyone I know who cooks on that day takes a patchwork approach toward menu planning: it’s a hodge-podge childhood favorites (from lasagna to spinach pie) and American tradition merged with contemporary trends (chipotle tequila cranberry sauce anyone?), not to mention catering to an assortment of dietary needs from gluten-free to sugar free to my favorite, vegan.

The most traditional Thanksgiving meal I’ve eaten wasn’t with family in the U.S., but in Paris with friends old and new, a few days before I presented a cooking demonstration at Vegan Paris Day in 2010. On a candle-lit boat docked on the Seine, we savored a dinner by The Gentle Gourmet vegan B&B (I believe currently transitioning to a full service restaurant). It was a comforting plate of nostalgia I never thought I had: seitan mushroom roast (drove in from Germany that morning), herbed cubed bread stuffing, stewed fruit compote and sage gravy followed by pumpkin cheesecake. All the Thanksgivings I’ve ever eaten (pre and post vegan) featured black beans, vegetarian sushi, empanadas, arepas, pierogi in addition to the usual suspects. I love that I had to travel to France to finally get a taste of real Americana, vegan-style.

So in the spirit of whatever traditions fill your holiday table, here are a few suggestions from the pages of Vegan Eats World. These are recipes that feel right at home for any meal from the 22nd of November until January 1st, and well into the new year. I surprise myself sometimes by how many recipes I cranks out inspired by fall flavors; apparently this is my favorite food season of the year. Browse through the index for the page numbers for these beauties:

Bisteeya
This show stopper entree is a huge Moroccan savory pie wrapped in filo dough; mine is stuffed with chickpeas and cauliflower brimming with aromatic spices. I plan on baking up this beauty for Xmas myself. It’s best served warm and let guests carving out big warm chunks for themselves. It’s really a meal on its own, simply served with a kale or carrot salad dressed with lots of lemon and olive oil.

Seitan, Almond and Sesame Tagine
The rich and mellow Moroccan spices reminded so many of my recipe testers of fall. I love this hearty seitan dish loaded with dried fruits, almonds and toasted sesame seeds. Traditionally paired with couscous, it could saddle up beautifully next to a mellow whole wheat bread stuffing.

Rhubarb cranberry chutney
I originally made my first batch two springs ago upon finding a few stalks of rhubarb in my CSA box. Much to my delight another CSA member confessed to me that her Indian mom did exactly the same thing, “it’s sour, so of course she made chutney”. If you can find frozen rhubarb, this red zesty chutney will also make great sandwiches with that leftover nut roast.

Pumpkin Kibbe
This veggie spin on a Middle Eastern favorite is holiday ready! This rich and hearty pumpkin casserole with bulgur wheat and a rich walnut filling is a beautiful centerpiece that serves 6 really hungry folks, or 8 with lots of sides.

Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad
Sometimes that holiday table looks so brown. Or beige. Lighten things up with a mound of fluffy emerald green kale salad dotted with roasted sweet potatoes and rubyl-like pomegranate arils!

Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Dukka
Dukka is a nutty, aromatic Egyptian spice dip. Typically served just with bread and oil, it’s sometimes sprinkled on mashed cooked veggies, like this dish featuring roasted mashed squash.

Pumpkin churros
Pumpkin pumpkin everywhere! These pretty Latin-style doughnuts are just that. Maybe not so much for the big dinner event, but perhaps a light brunch the next morning.

Tenacious Tart Tatin
Of course you’ve been eating nothing but pumpkin for months now, so sometimes it’s too easy to forget our other autumn dessert darling, pumpkins. Try this rustic French spin on pie, tart with a rich olive oil shortbread crust smothered with deeply caramelized apples.

But of course, if it’s traditional pumpkin pie you crave, you can’t go wrong with our tribute to the best recipe vegan pumpkin pie recipe ever from Vegan Pie in the Sky on The PPK blog right now.

Join me on G+ this Tuesday LIVE

Even if you have all your tofu turkeys in a row and cranberries counted, there’s no telling what can happen when you’re getting ready for a vegan thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting at your home, or just bringing along a butternut squash casserole to dinner, join me and special vegan food experts for a live Google on Air chat this Tuesday 7-9pm EST.

If you’re not familiar with Google Hangouts on Air chats, you can watch it live via my page (you’ll need to add me to your circles to enter the hangout)

Event:
https://plus.google.com/events/clfeuq35f3arhg5ckee3c24ifto

COMING ATTRACTIONS: book signing, vegan Thanksgiving hotline, flan

Hey New Jersey! Join me this Thursday 7pm at B&N in Clifton, NJ for a talk and book signing all about my latest, Vegan Eats World.

Also, get ready for a super-exciting LIVE Google Hangout next week, just in time for all your meatless and plant-based Thanksgiving questions! Details delivered piping hot as soon as I get ‘em!

And just in case you missed it, there’s some Maple Pumpkin Flan waiting for you over at Powell’s, for a light and tasty final to any fall meal.