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Friday, August 25, 2017

Chocolate Skillet Cake

You'll notice a piece is missing. It's hard to get a picture
of a whole chocolate skillet cake. You go get the camera
and by the time you get back it looks like this.
Today's recipe is not low fat, sugar free or vegan. It goes a long way because it's kind of rich. You need an iron skillet to cook it properly. I make it pretty regularly, but it never lasts very long. It's a nice moist, crumbly single layer cake. Just leave it in the skillet and server it from there. This one you'll want to take to a potluck sometime for the dessert table. Just cut it in pretty small pieces. Like I said, it's kind of rich.

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk (as needed for consistency)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt together and set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, bring the butter, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, and water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the dry ingredients well. Mix in the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Bake in the skillet cake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  3. While the cake starts to cool, make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil. Remove them from heat and add the icing sugar, nuts, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over the warm cake, spread with a spatula, and serve with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce or whipped cream.
Serving suggestions:
  • Ice cream
  • Caramel sauce (this one is delicious!)
  • Whipped cream

It's as good as it looks.
It's kind of a cross between chocolate cake and a brownie.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Make Your Own "Wheat Meat"

Wheat Gluten

Kneading the dough
If you're vegetarian or an Adventist who wants to not look like a heathen at church potluck, you probably eat tofu or soy products. Tofu is easy to find. Most grocery stores carry it and it's a good protein source that is relatively easily to find. You can get it in most grocery stores. The trouble is that tofu is not really firm enough to work with as a meat substitute. Wheat gluten is a great addition to a vegetarian diet. Like tofu, wheat gluten is a vegetarian protein source. Like tofu wheat gluten or "seitan" also originated in Asia. Unlike tofu, however, seitan, sometimes called "wheat meat", has a satisfying, firmer texture that makes it work in ways tofu doesn't work well. Seitan can be used in casseroles, on the grill, or cooked up and added to Chinese food or on sandwiches. Seitan isn't seen very much in most supermarkets, but fortunately, it's easy to make your own wheat gluten steaks at home. Grocery stores that sell bulk items often carry high gluten wheat flour that makes it way easier to make your own seitan. If not, you can make it from unbleached flour by washing it. I know that sounds weird, but this recipe shows you how.

: If you do have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities should not eat wheat gluten. Otherwise it's an excellent source of vegetable protein.
Let stand for five minutes after the water is white and opaque.
How to Make Your Own "Wheat Meat"
Ingredients and Tools Needed: 
  • All-purpose unbleached flour
  • Whole wheat flour 
  • Water
  • Chicken, beef or other seasoning according to taste (you'll have to experiment)
  • A large mixing bowl (Kitchen-aide mixer is even better
Basic Recipe (multiply amounts as desired):

  1. Mix two cups unbleached white flour with two cups whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add enough water to make the flour the consistency of bread dough. 
  3. Knead the dough about 20 minutes with a dough hook or by hand to fully develop the gluten. 
  4. Put the dough ball in a large bowl and cover it with water.  Place in the refrigerator overnight. 
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge, pour out the water you soaked it in and cover it with lukewarm water. 
  6. Knead the gluten dough under the water. The water will turn white as the starch is released. Wait five minutes, pour out the water and refill the bowl. Knead the dough again till the water is white. Wait five minutes, pour off the water and knead again. Keep repeating until the water no longer turns white. 
  7. Cut the gluten dough into pieces. The dough should be a little rubbery by now. Cut it into the size and shape you have in mind - patties, cubes, strips, or balls as desired. The gluten will grow almost double in size during the next step. 
  8. Make a big pot of boiling water with seasoning added so that the gluten will absorb the flavor. Add the gluten pieces to the pot. Make sure they are fully covered by the broth. Simmer the gluten for about two hours. You will need add water the gluten soaks up the broth.
Serving Directions:
Keep pouring off the starch water till it runs clear.
Once it's done you can chicken fry it, chop it and saute' it with vegetables, barbecue it or use it virtually anywhere you'd use meat.  It has the texture of meat and costs you just a few pennies to make. You can store the gluten in a plastic Tupperware or glass container with a sealed lid. Pour some of the liquid you simmered it in over the gluten pieces and seal it up. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge.  You can also put it in freezer bags and freeze it.  It does take a while to make, but if you learn how to do it, it's worth your time.
Roll out the dough and cut it up in pieces
then simmer for two hours (picture at top of page)
If you go with the high-gluten flour, you don't have to wash the flour. You just make up the dough, knead it, cut it up and boil it in the pot with seasonings. It's a lot quicker and less time consuming.

Anyway, it's nice to know you can make it up and don't have to drive all the way to the ABC or wait for the ABC truck to come to the church or pay Amazon's exorbitant prices. And it's fun to do at least once so you can brag at potluck that you've made your own gluten (not that you'd brag about that sort of thing or anything).