Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vegan Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

This is an interesting bread. Containing both yeast and baking soda, it’s sort of a cross between a quick bread and regular bread. It is intended to a have a somewhat craggy, holey texture reminiscent of an English muffin, and to toast very well. Apparently similar recipes have been around a long time owing to the fact that many people find homemade English muffins to be an upgrade on basic toast taste-wise but not labor-wise. Enter an easy hybrid.

I would say that I don’t actually think it’s an identical approximation of an English muffin, just a rather interesting and nicely textured bread in its own right. Although, to be fair I did modify the original recipe to be whole-wheat and dairy-free; perhaps the original is a closer facsimile.

It’s a fairly fast and easy bread, with short rising and baking times and no kneading. I’ll definitely be making it again for that reason alone.

As a recipe designed for toasting applications, this recipe makes excellent croutons, such as in this Caesar Salad recipe.

Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

2 ½ cups whole wheat bread flour
2 ¼ tsp rapid rise yeast
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 2/3 cup warm water (115-120 degrees F)


Mix together all dry ingredients. Heat water to the appropriate temperature (If it is too hot, you may kill your yeast, which would result in total recipe failure. If it is too cold, your dough may not rise adequately in the time allotted.) Stir water into rest of ingredients until completely incorporated (you do not need to knead). Cover mixing bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warmish place for half an hour.

Punch down between 1st and 2nd rises
Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. When the 30 minutes rising are up, briefly stir dough to punch down and then scrape the dough into the loaf pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise again for another 20-30 minutes, until dough rises to top of pan.

Before Second Rise
After Second Rise

Fresh out of the oven
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F a few minutes before rising is done. Remove plastic wrap and bake loaf for 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned. Using oven mitts, flip out of the pan to cool. Let cool at least 45 minutes.


Slice and enjoy!

Vegan Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread, sliced and made into Cinnamon Toast

Fancy Vegan Caesar Salad

My family is very patient when it comes to all the exotic cuisines, strange flavor combinations, ingredients they’ve never heard of and just plain excessive, gratuitous unconventionality I bring to the dinner table. A reasonable amount of the time they even like the results. But nothing quite brings out their enthusiasm like familiar, long-loved favorites that have been successfully re-imagined—going from rare comfort food indulgences into healthy foods you can eat on a regular basis.

And this particular salad received a level of raves that is normally reserved for dishes involving copious amounts of gravy.

It would certainly be more creative to invent a new salad with all kinds of unusual ingredients and methods (and I often do). But some combos are classics for a reason, and this made for one of the nicest, most  restaurant-quality salads that I’ve had in some time.

This dressing was quite a satisfying facsimile—the capers, which I have seen in some other recipes, do indeed make a very good substitute for the traditional anchovies. The tofu lends creaminess and a neutral enough background for the traditional lemon and garlic flavors to shine through, and the other seasonings round out the flavors without requiring too much salt or fat. Which means you don’t have to be too stingy with the dressing—always a good thing.

The homemade croutons were easier than I though they would be. And with whole grain bread, they’re not too bad for you either.

Vegan Caesar Salad with faux chicken and homemade croutons

Fancy Vegan Caesar Salad

1 12 oz package soft silken tofu
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp capers, drained
2 tsp minced garlic
¼-½  tsp soy sauce
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp mustard powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
2-3 tsp olive oil (optional)
1-2 tsp sugar or sweetener

3-4 thick slices of whole grain bread
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp lemon pepper seasoning (or salt & pep)

Vegan parmesan substitute (can use store bought if you want):
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp sesame seed, slivered almonds or cashews
¼ tsp lemon pepper

Vegan faux chicken strips OR baked tofu or seitan, 4 servings worth

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

Enough greens for 4 salads (8-12 cups), romaine would be traditional but iceberg, spinach, kale, mixed greens, etc would work too

Tossing bread cubes with spices

First make the croutons: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice bread slices into 1 inch squares, and toss with oil and seasonings. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread bread out in a single layer. Bake about 12 minutes, stirring and flipping halfway through. Let cool.
Croutons, hot out of the oven

Vegan parmesan sub

Next, make the faux parmesan: place nutritional yeast in blender with lemon pepper and sesame seeds or nuts. Grind until powdery. Scrape out into a bowl.

To make dressing: Without washing the blender after making the faux parmesan, puree all dressing ingredients together until completely smooth. Taste and adjust salt, lemon and sweetener to your taste. Can be thinned with water or soymilk if desired.

To assemble: Place a pile of greens on each plate. Drizzle with a little dressing. Arrange
artichokes, faux chicken or tofu and croutons on top. Drizzle with a little more dressing,
then sprinkle with vegan parmesan sub. Enjoy!

Serves four (with leftover dressing & parmesan sub)

Vegan Caesar Salad


Any fresh vegetable that you like on similar salads could be added, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, peppers, radishes, sprouts etc. Fruits such as pears might be interesting as well.

Olives, wholes capers, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and sautéed mushrooms would all make highly flavorful add-ins as well.

Cooked sliced potatoes might create an interesting, nicoise-like effect, particularly if combined with green beans and olives.

Toasted or spiced nuts could be sprinkled on top for flavor and crunch. So could toasted nori.

Making the croutons with homemade bread, as I did using this recipe, is a nice touch. And the leftover bread can be served at the table with the salad.

Piled onto a whole wheat tortilla

This recipe is also very nice in wrap form. Just arrange all the components, sans croutons, on your favorite flatbread and roll up.

Caesar Salad in wrap form

Double Cucumber Hummus Wraps

This is a nice warm weather meal for those days when you don’t want to be slaving away in a hot kitchen. These wraps are both refreshing and filling. The lemony marinated cucumbers add a particularly nice zing.

Note: I needed about 1 ½ large cucumbers to produce the 2 cup chopped and ½ cup sliced cucumbers called for in the recipe.

Double cucumber hummus wrap

Cucumber-Hummus Wraps

Lemony Marinated Cucumbers:
½ cup cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Cucumber-tofu sauce:
1 12 oz package firm silken tofu
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups cucumber, chopped into ½ inch dice
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

4 whole grain flatbreads

About ½ cup hummus, homemade or store-bought

Fresh greens such as spinach, kale, lettuce, etc.


Marinated cucumber slices
Whisk together lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. Add cucumber slices. Let marinate while you prepare
the rest of the ingredients, tossing occasionally.

Cucumber Tofu Sauce

To make the cucumber-tofu sauce: puree tofu with lemon juice, seasonings, and 1 cup of the chopped cucumbers until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in remaining cup of chopped cucumbers. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

To assemble: Spread 1-2 tablespoons of hummus in an even layer over each flatbread. Place a layer of marinated cucumber slices on top (shake off any excess marinade). Lay a strip of greens down the middle, and top with a few spoonfuls of cucumber-tofu sauce. 

Flatbread spread w/ hummus
A layer of marinated cucumbers

Greens in the middle

Ready to roll up

Fold up the sides and enjoy!

Makes 4 wraps with plenty of sauce leftover.

Rolled up and ready to eat

Fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, or peppers can be added to the marinated cucumber mixture.

Different kinds of olives, capers, or artichoke hearts would make flavorful additions as well.

Fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, tarragon and/or dill could be blended into the cucumber sauce for a Green Goddess effect.

A different bean spread, such as a white bean-herb puree, could be substituted for the hummus.

Hummus-Cucumber sandwich

This wrap can be made in regular sandwich form, as well.

Note: The cucumber tofu sauce from this recipe also makes a good substitute for both tzatziki in falafel or gyro sandwiches and for raita in Indian meals.