Saturday, April 26, 2008


CASSAVA OR YUCA! What is it? What's the code? This is the question I always get when I buy yuca/cassava at Whole Foods market. The cashier scrambles to ask other cashiers to know what is this 'thing' called and to search page after page in her or his book for the code to enter. If I buy it at an Asian or a Hispanic market, of course, the cashier usually knows what it is. No question was asked. It is not very American at all, isn't it?

I grew up eating yuca in Indonesia. It's a root that tastes very similar to potatoes. There is a waxy film covering the root (I think it is to preserve it's freshness). After it is cut horizontally into chunks, the brown and waxy outer layer can be removed easily with a knife.

I like eating yuca, deep fried, just like thick French Fries. Indonesians have many ways/recipes to prepare yuca. We eat them as snacks. It can be prepared salty or sweet (as desserts).

I usually boil yuca in salty water for about 20 to 25 minutes. I tried the pressure cooker, too, which only take 3 minutes (under pressure). Below is my garlicky yuca recipe. This dish can be eaten just like it is (boiled). Or, the gravy (sauce) can be drained and then the yuca is deep fried until they are crispy. DH who loves fried food loves deep fried yuca. Boiled yuca looks soft but it becomes hard and crispy when it is deep fried.

Garlicky Yuca/Cassava

1.5 lb yuca/cassava (prepared as pictured)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tsp. table salt
3 cups water or enough to cover it entirely
1 tsp. oil

In oil, sauté
garlic until fragrant. Add the yuca chunks, water and salt. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. The water will become a bit thick like gravy.

I have other recipe I adapted from Bryanna's recipe. I receive this recipe after I emailed Bryanna about the Peruvian restaurant we visited one day, called Inka Mamas. One of their menu items is called YUCA ALA HUANCAINA. Of course, Bryanna has a recipe for this dish with potato, instead. She said I can replace it with yuca. It's an appetizer consists of lettuce, corn, carrots, olives, and deep fried yuca smothered with 'cheezy' warm sauce.

(adapted from Bryanna's recipe)
Serves 6

1 Garlicky Yuca/Cassava recipe (above), deep fried

White Sauce ingredients:
1/2 pkg. Mori-nu Silken Tofu, Firm
1 cup soy milk
1/2 to 1 cup water
2 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine/Earth Balance
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour

1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, minced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tsp. minced jalapeño
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of white pepper
2 Tbsp. Bill's Best Chiknish
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt

6 to 8 large lettuce leaves
18 black olives
12 2"-long chunks of cold cooked corn on the cob
12 2"-chunks cold cooked carrots

White Sauce:
Combine silken tofu, soy milk, and 1/2 cup water in a blender. Blend until smooth/not grainy (take a few minutes). Melt margarine/Earth Balance in a small sauce pan on a low heat. Add flour and combine until thickened. Scrape flour mixture into the blender. Blend until smooth.

Sauté the chopped onion, hot peppers and turmeric in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Stir in the white sauce, chicknish, spices, salt, and nutritional yeast. Keep warm. If the sauce is too thick, add the remaining water (or add more) a little each time until desired consistency.

On each serving plate, place a lettuce leaf. Place a few chunks of deep fried yuca (still hot) on each lettuce leaf. Place a few olives, 2 chunks of carrots, and 2 chunks of corn around the yuca. Drizzle the yuca with the sauce, distributing evenly. Serve immediately with more sauce, if desired.

I used the left over sauce on top of Tofu Benedict(toast, tofu, vegan sausage, caramelized mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes) for breakfast and it's delish!

Yuca tastes just like potatoes. If you can find it, don't be afraid to cook it and try it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vegan Pecan Sticky Buns - Move Over Cinnabon

It has been almost a year that I didn't post a new blog. This doesn't mean that I haven't tried new recipes or cooked. I have. It's just that there are so many blogs out there that I enjoyed reading so why repeat what they did, I thought.
Although someone may have blogged vegan pecan sticky bun already, this blog is all about learning to make bread the easiest way. I grew up with rice and noodles so making bread is something I am not good at. I threw away dough that will not rise time to time then I got frustrated.
Recently, I learned that it's easy to make bread and it's nothing to be scared about. I learned about no-knead yeast bread from my friend Bryanna who recently blogged about it. I bought this recipe book that she recommended. S he found out about this book from Julie Hasson from Everyday Dish who also blogged about it. Word of mouth (or blog to blog) is a powerful thang! This book is titled Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. You can throw away your Kitchen Aid mixer or your expensive bread maker. You can just go back to the basic: a very large bowl and a wooden spoon. I successfully made artisan breads from the recipes. It was so easy, no kneading. I mixed the ingredients in 5 minutes and let the dough rise in the fridge for 24 hours or more. I went to bed after mixing the dough and the next morning it will be ready for bread baking. Or, if I don't want to make bread that day I'll let it rise in the fridge until I am ready.
Being successful with bread, I wanted to make more exciting bread such as vegan sticky buns; especially, after tasting the most delicious vegan pecan sticky buns when we were at Flagstaff, Arizona. We had them at Macy's International Bakery. We went to this bakery twice just for their sticky buns. That was last December. After that experience, I craved for this sticky buns so did DH although he may not admit it. The dream for having sticky buns didn't just started last December. It started after I stopped eating eggs. Whenever I passed Cinnabon at malls, my mouth watered smelling and seeing the cinnamon rolls they displayed. Of course, those are not vegan. It's loaded with eggs and butter. I thought that there must be a way to make them without eggs and butter, the vegan way. At last......I found this good recipe in this cookbook with the help of Bryanna who veganized it.
There are two recipes listed below. One is the dough and the other one is how to convert this dougo to delicious Pecan Sticky buns.
I ended up making it in a 13 X 9 pan and used 3/4 of the dough.
Veganized Master Enriched Dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day*
* Veganized by Bryanna Clark Grogan The book contains several master dough recipes, and this is an enriched, sweet dough, perfect for a loaf of Challah (the braided dough) and the Sticky Rolls. You start by mixing the master dough first, Let that rest overnight in the refrigerator, then the next day, pinch off a cantaloupe sized hunk-o-dough to make your Sticky Pecan Caramel Cinnamon Rolls! Return the rest to the refrigerator to use for another day.
 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbs instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup soymilk, warm, whisked with 2 Tbs. Ener-G Egg Replacer (I used Bob's Red Mill egg replacer)
1/2 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, melted
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, mix together the soymilk/Ener-G mixture, water, syrup, melted EB, yeast and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add in the flour. STIR, BABY STIR!!! Stir until you don't see any more dry bits of flour (about a minute). Cover (not airtight) and stick it in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 4 days. The longer you let it rise in the refrigerator, the better tasting the dough will be.

Cooking Tips NOTE: When you let the dough hang out in the refrigerator, it's not going to "rise" like a normal dough Think of Cinnabon, that chain store found in every American mall, except EVEN BETTER.

VEGAN PECAN STICKY BUNS* The Dough above: A cantaloupe sized chunk of the Master Dough (about 1.5 lbs)
The Gooey Sticky Caramel Topping:
6 Tbs Earth Balance, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar 3
30 pecan halves ( I chopped them)

The Heavenly Sweet Cinnamon Butter Filling:
4 Tbs Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
13 by 9 inch baking pan
  1. The first thing you need to do is take that master dough out of the refrigerator, grab a small cantalope sized chunk of dough. Return the rest of it to the refrigerator to use another time (psst...get the book for all the other recipes using this dough!).
  2. Generously flour your hands and the dough. Shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough and tucking it to the bottom all around, rotating hte ball a quarter-turn as you go. This creates a taut, smooth surface. Let the dough rest, covered with a towel to take the chill off while you prepare rest of ingredients.
  3. While the dough is unchilling, mix the topping and the filling. FOR THE TOPPING: Cream together the EB, and sugar. Spread this topping evenly on the bottom of the cake pan. Scatter with pecan halves (I used chopped pecans). FOR THE FILLING: Cream together all ingredients except the pecans. Set aside. Dust your counter with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin to 1/8" thick rectangle. Try to get it 13" x 17" I had trouble with the rectangle shape, so I we just rolled it into a large oval. Spread the sweet filling evenly on the surface. Scatter chopped pecans all over.
  4. Roll it up, starting with the long side. Flour your serrated knife and cut roll into 9-12 even pieces.
  5. Set it in the pan on top of the caramel, cover with towel and rest for 1 hour Preheat your oven to 350F. The book says to bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and well set in the center. But take a peek at the rolls around the 35 minute mark.
  6. While still hot, run a knife round the edge of pan and invert immediately onto a plate. If you wait until it cools, the caramel will harden and it will be difficult to turn out. YUM. Soft, pillowy dough. Sweet cinnamon and nutmeg butter dribbling down your chin. Sticky, gooey caramel. Crunchy pecans.