Thursday, April 07, 2011

JOT#13: margarine...and butter...and ghee...and cupcakes

Margarine, butter, and ghee are two separate items, but I'm lumping them because, after all, they're similar in purpose. The cupcakes? Just for fun.

After going vegan, I used real margarine for a short while, until the idea of that many trans-fats gave me chills. I deftly jumped on the Earth Balance bandwagon - trans-fat free, healthy spread that is vegan and organic. Win-win, right? But sadly, it, too, comes in a plastic tub. I was okay with oil for a while until an amazing cupcake recipe (see below) left me drooling and Earth Balance-free. Rather than shell out, cheapskate that I am, I tried a simple margarine recipe that is all over the internet. I improvised wildly and thought I'd failed until the lemon juice did its magic (you should see it!). It certainly isn't thick and stiff like the store-bought stuff, it tastes like the oil I used, and sometimes still separates, but it is way better than not having margarine, and is actually quite yummy on bread with my farmer's market "Sweet Heat" berry pepper jam.

To whit, worth a try. Here is the veganized version:

Vegan Margarine

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy, I suppose non-vegans could use regular)
1/2 cup oil (I used olive, probably better to use a light one)
1 tsp mustard seeds, crushed (or 1/2-1tsp dry mustard powder, or 1tsp lecithin)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice, or as needed
dash turmeric
salt to taste

Place soymilk in blender and pulse, then add oil and blend well until emulsified. Add mustard powder and tiny dash of turmeric for color, blend to mix. Add lemon juice and blend - it should become thick and creamy. Add salt, if desired, and blend again to mix well. Store in airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 weeks.

Butter (and buttermilk)

I store the cream from my Strauss Milk bottles in a little cup in the fridge, usually with a spoon stuck to it, unless my Little One licks it off first. After a while, I have a decent amount of cream, which I used to just boil into ghee (see below), which lasts indefinitely outside the fridge. But I'd never made fresh butter, much less cultured (unless you count the time we dressed up as pilgrims and churned butter in grade school), until my mother gave me courage. She told me how her grandmother used to keep it submerged in water, and she and her siblings would sneak some from time to time.

Also much easier than I thought, especially with the convenience of a blender. Here you go:

Leave 1/4-1/2 cup fresh cream out to soften.
Add 1-2 tbsp yogurt, preferably runny and stir well to combine thoroughly.
Leave cultured cream in oven or someplace warm for the day or overnight.
In the morning (or night), place cream in blender and add at least 2x volume cold water. Add 1-2 ice cubes if the weather is warm or your blender tends to heat up.
Blend by pulsing. As you blend, the butter will rise to the top and the liquid will become a light runny white.
Stop blending when the butter is a solid mass and no solids remain in the lower portion.
Separate the butter from the liquid with a slotted spoon and allow to drain, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The buttermilk can be used for baking, or as a drink with a dash of salt, asafoetida, and a few curry leaves.

[Edit: forgot the ghee! Recipe below:


Place softened butter in small saucepan.
Heat on VERY low heat (as low as possible) until butter melts
Continue to heat on low, and butter will come to a boil. There may be some scum forming at the top - skim it off. Allow the butter to boil until it is a bright golden color without stirring and being careful not to let it burn.
Remove from heat and let pot sit - the separated parts will settle to the bottom. Let cool no more than 15-20 minutes.
Pour off the liquid ghee into another container, straining. Store in a closed container at room temperature.
To use, you may wish to heat ghee briefly over a very low flame to melt. Serve with rice, idlis/chapatis, or for cooking. ]

Vegan Cupcakes

Ricekernel has wooed me to her site yet again with her vegan cupcakes. I had to try for myself. Now that I'm not buying all-purpose flour, I subbed the whole wheat flour. I used vegan sugar (powdered in the blender, ok, lazily), local olive oil (Big Paw). For the frosting, I used the vegan margarine! It was runny, so I omitted both the shortening and the soymilk - still hardened up nicely when chilled. The frosting recipe frosts LOTS of cupcakes, so I will be hiding the rest in the fridge.

I topped them with vegan chocolate chip eyes and a dry apple smile. They ARE ultimate. Happy!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you tried them! Hopefully they were still moist and chocolately? =)I'm really intrigued by your margarine/butter recipes.... may have to try soon. Going under the knife for more dental surgery over the weekend so I'll have to get back to you on it! Hope you all are well.

rani said...

very moist and chocolatey!

good luck with the surgery - you are brave! let me know if you need any help.