Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings with Millet, Sunflower and Flax Bread

Mmmm. . . chicken-less n' dumplings!

I have read that if you bake bread prior to a storm or when a low front is coming through--your bread will rise more. . . I'd say this bread loaf rose perfectly!

I set my machine on "medium crust color" and was really pleased with it's golden hue and nice crunch to the crust--not too dry, but just right.

This is a carbohydrate addict's dream dinner! Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings with a great homemade bread: Millet, Sunflower and Flax--and even better--made in my bread machine (probably the second most used and most favorite kitchen appliance next to my stove)! I went through my vintage cookie baking yesterday and then turned to some down home re-creations of food I like to classify as "the good stuff." A side of bread may seem like overkill, but honestly, this is how you eat in the South--bread on the side. . . with everything. And what is not to love about a dumpling? Hold it. I never liked dumplings as a youngster--who am I kidding? I met many I disliked, just like I met many of those so-called pot pies I disliked (and was sent to my room for not liking--thanks a lot Stouffer's). So, I was in the mood for a throw back recipe, must have been the moon or the lack thereof. We suffered through like a two hour thunderstorm last night--made the windows shake in my little house. What's not to love about living in the middle of the country when you can have ice one week, then a thunderstorm the next?

So vegan chicken-less n' dumplings were in order. This is a recipe that doesn't require a lot of "special ingredients"--you probably have these items on hand in your pantry. Personally, I have several recipes for this meal scattered throughout my cookbook collection. I created this from a smattering of ideas. I went from the Joy of Cooking, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry (which is a vegan delight to own!), to Martha Stewart to coming up with my own take on the recipe. I am not a "boiled dumpling" sort of gal, in fact that idea of a boiled dumpling sort of makes me ill. So I had to find an alternative to that whole concept. I found the cornmeal dumpling to be my answer. Then there was the question of the protein I would use--I went with tempeh. I like to work with it once in a while, but not often--it works nicely in this dish. If you are not into tempeh, maybe try tofu or seitan. The results will be the same. I think my recipe and method worked very well--and for those lover's of leftovers--we just had this for lunch today and it rocked.

I have one photo of this because once the spoon enters the picture, that's all she wrote--there is only so much the camera can do for a dish like this. Either you want it, or you don't--but I thought I'd share my take on this southern delicacy. Along side we enjoyed the most amazing bread I think I have ever made in my bread machine--and want to give great thanks for the idea of the bread to: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. You've seen her name in my blog before--I heart Beth's breads! I made modifications to the ingredients and added flax seed--I think all breads benefit from a bit of flax.

Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings
*dumpling recipe below

For the tempeh:
1 block tempeh
3 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil
3 tablespoons tamari
For the onion mixture:
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 celery stalks sliced thin
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Spike or S & P to taste
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
dash of good Italian seasoning
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups veggie stock
2 tabelspoons corn starch
4 tablespoons water
1/3 cup white cooking wine
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter

First,  prep your tempeh. Place a small pan of water and add the tempeh to it--slice the tempeh into long pieces about 6 of them. Bring the water with tempeh to boil, then turn to medium and let simmer for about ten minutes. Drain the tempeh. Chop it into about 1" pieces. Add oil and tamari to it. Let it set for about 10 minutes to marinate. (Chop your veggies up now or something to pass the time.) Place the tempeh in a small skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil and cook, turning often to brown it. When it is cooked, remove it from the heat and set aside. Next, add your oil to either a dutch oven or a large saute pan with deep sides. Add veggies. Cook until onions and carrots begin to soften--about five minutes. Add seasonings. Now, add veggie broth and white cooking wine. Let simmer while you remove the tempeh from the saute pan. Place tempeh into the veggie mixture. The liquid should have reduced a bit by now. In a small bowl, whisk the water and soy milk into the corn starch until starch is dissolved. Now, slowly drizzle this into the veggie pan. The mixture will begin to thicken. If you think it is getting too thick, add more broth to your desired consistency. Now, whisk in the Earth Balance one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Turn heat to low or off while you make the dumplings.

Cornmeal Dumplings

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
dash of dried Italian seasonings--not a lot
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter
2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Now, chop up your Earth Balance pieces. Add to the bowl and cut into the flour with a fork. Get it pretty crumbly. Next, add the milk. Mix well--but don't over mix. Now, take a tablespoon of the mixture (it will be semi-runny) and drop by teaspoonful on top of the veggies in pan. If they are cooled, reheat a bit and bring heat to medium. Have lid ready for covering to allow dumplings to bake. If you'd like a lot of dumplings, you will end up using most of the batter. Just eyeball it--and cover and leave undisturbed on medium heat for about 15 minutes. If you hear bubbling and find that the pan is too small (like I did) and drippings are boiling over--just turn the heat down and allow for a longer steaming time for the dumplings. I served this in a bowl with our bread!

Millet, Sunflower and Flax Bread
*for a 1 1/2 lb. loaf of bread in a bread machine

1 1/8 cup of water (80 degrees)
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons millet (soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, then drained and mixed in with flours)
2 teaspoons ground flax seed
1/4 cup polenta or corn meal
3 tablespoons sunflowers
1 1/2 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 active dry yeast

Add ingredients according to your bread machine directions. Most say to add liquids first, then place all dry ingredients in a bowl, sift together, then carefully pour over wet ingredients. Then last, add the yeast and press start. I used the Whole Wheat program for mine.

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