Now that I own a food processor, have I gotten around to “processing” some food or is it collecting dust as my coworker hints at? I’m very proud to say, I’ve made some very real efforts to cook and I just made some “Almond Pesto” with it.
I know I’ve spent nearly an entire blog entry gushing about The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook already, but I really can’t show enough appreciation for this book. Peter Berley has a thing for cooking everything from scratch and it truly is a rewarding experience if you enjoy cooking with raw ingredients.
In his Almond Pesto recipe, there’s not exactly a lot of cooking involved, but he starts the recipe with raw almond. With the raw almond, you’re supposed to boil it for a minute or two then douse it with cold water which causes the almond skin to separate and you squeeze the almond to remove the skin. After the almond dries, you lightly toast the almond. The results of this recipe is so amazing, the pesto is a nice creamy paste and it tastes like a cross between almond butter and pesto without all the oiliness of store-bought pesto (and it’s vegan for those that are suspicious of cheese in pesto). I steal a bite from the jar (this would be gross with most of the store-bought pesto) every time I walk near the fridge. I plan to combine this with his made from scratch noodle recipe this weekend.
I’ve also mentioned how much I love his seitan recipe and I’ve tried looking up more of similar recipes to get different stocks to cook the seitan in, because that’s what gives it its base flavor, and I was very disappointed by how none of the recipes start you from basic flour. I’m posting the seitan cooking part of the recipe here because I think making gluten from scratch is an amazing experience (my coworker thinks this is stupid tedious, so it’s definitely not for everyone).
2 lbs white bread flour,
2 lbs whole wheat bread flour,
4-5 cups of filtered cold water
- Combine flour and mix in just enough water to form a nice workable dough.
- Knead dough for 15 minutes on a flat surface.
- Return dough to bowl and cover dough with luke-warm water and let it rest for 30 minutes. (cook a soy sauce heavy vegetable stock during this time)
- Now commence rinsing the bran and starch from the dough. Put dough in a colander. Rinse in cold water for 5 minutes. Rinse in warm water for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water for 5 minutes. Rinse in warm water for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold for a final 2 minutes. Yes, that’s five rinses total. During the rinse process, squeeze and stretch the dough to work most of the starch out, don’t overwash because the seitan will come out rubbery-chewy.
- Take the leftover ball of gluten and pinch off golf ball sized chunks of it and drop it in the stock then simmer for an hour.
That’s it. I was extremely skeptical that you can get meat-like textured food out of white and wheat flour, but it actually works. The results are delicious little balls of protein that you can slice up (if the protein ball is white in the center, you’ve over-kneaded the dough in step 2) and put into any kind of stir-fry to give it some extra protein and texture. I prefer seitan over tofu because I don’t have to worry about the tofu breaking up too much in stir-fry, tofu tends to keep its own tofu taste (which is good in some cases, but not all) and most importantly, I like having something substantial to chew on.
All this new craze for cooking got me thinking maybe I’m a late bloomer for nesting instincts. Watch in another month or so, whenever I visit my friends with babies, I’ll coo with delight and ask if I can poke it with a stick.