Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fifty Shades of Elf

Well, this has been a really fun week in the Elfin Kitchen...found some lovely new cookie recipes to try and both of them turned out quite nicely. We made a ‘family sized batch of The Gentle Chef’s Shredded Chikun and at least two batches of his Bacun (see the blog post of 5.10.15 titled Gone With the Elf for a blow by blow account of how to make the Bacun). There were NO epic fails this week, for which The Elf was truly grateful. We’ll recap the stuffs we made with some pictures after our EXPERT RECIPE OF THE WEEK is shared.
This week we’d selected the Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu from Susan Voisin’s awesome site FatFree Vega
We totally enjoyed this dish and high recommend it if you are a fan of Thai food. As usual, we made it spicy. As we practice our kinky cookery, we are trying to become more organized with preparation activities. So, we’re off and cookin’!
Here are the ingredients for the recipe with the exception of the tofu. It had been squished by an iron skillet to get the excess water out, cubed and placed in a plastic bag with the easy to fix marinade. You’ll see a picture of the tofu shortly
 And here’s the tofu that had been pressed and cubed. We let ours marinate a pretty good while since we are lovers of intense flavors—for example, when Susan’s recipe calls for a range of Sriracha sauce, we go the maximum and then wind up adding even more! There are two pictures here, one of the tofu ready for the oven and a close-up of a couple of the cubes to give you an idea of how the peppery marinade looked.
As the tofu was baking, we began cooking the veggies. We opted for broccoli florets rather than the kale along with the onions, mushrooms, bell pepper and asparagus. We sautéed the onions and added the remaining vegetables in our little wok pan.
And the final dish looked like this. We served it over brown rice but our picture of the plated dish was awful…all blurry and cloudy (so we guess that was our epic fail of the week). You can get an idea of just how delicious this was just by the wok view!
 The recipe selection for this coming week (OMG--IT’S JUNE ALREADY!!) was really a no-brainer for us! When Susan posted it as a featured recipe, we were ON IT! It’s the Seitan Saltado Peruvian Stir Fry with Potatoes. Just the sight of the word Peruvian in the recipe was enough to titillate our taste buds.
The cookies we tried this week were so much fun! You know, we love to bake sweet stuffs (we are indeed all about FIFTY SHADES OF TASTES AND FLAVORS) and share them with folks. Well, we had run the table, in our mind, on variations of oatmeal cookies to take to the fine folks at the Animal Rescue Fund of MS (ARF/MS) and wanted to offer them something a bit different. So, here are the two recipes we found. First we made Vegan Lemon Sugar Cookies. One of the comments at the end of the recipe speaks to the amount of oil that is in the original recipe...3/4 cup of canola oil. The reviewer suggested that ½ cup of oil (we used coconut oil instead of canola) and ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce would work well and reduce the amount of oil. We did that and it worked beautifully. In fact, next time, we may go ½ and ½ oil and applesauce to reduce it even further. In any event, these were quite lovely and luscious IF you are into lemony stuffs!
And while we thoroughly enjoyed the Lemon cookies, we were totally captivated by this next recipe! When we saw them during a search for something new and different, we knew we had to try them. They are called Grandma’s Cornflake Cookies. As we were making them, we kept thinking…uh-oh, this isn’t going to work. The dough was really soft and we felt like it just wouldn’t hold together and would most likely spread out all over the pan. What a delicious surprise!! We could hardly wait for the first batch to cool off enough to try one! Holy Yumminess!! Try them—you’ll like them!
A couple of other offerings from the week. One night, we had just a plain ole Southern dinner of sautéed cabbage, black-eyed peas and vegan cornsticks. We just LOVED it and especially the cornsticks. We thought we’d made enough to share with some friends but lo and behold, we ate them all over the next day or so. No recipes or links, just good old chopped up cabbage sautéed in a bit of peanut oil (or you could use grape seed) with some liquid smoke flavoring. We also infused our oil with some of the Bacun ends that were cubed. The black-eyed peas were also seasoned with some chopped onion, liquid smoke and Bacun ends. The cornbread recipe is just a veganized version of regular buttermilk cornbread (using cashew milk and lemon juice for the buttermilk). If you look closely at the picture, you can see the flax meal from the flax egg substitute.
And finally, we decided to try our hand at making our own vegan version of Nutella. We had the hazelnuts and all the other ingredients, so we thought ‘what the hell, let’s go for it’. The Minimalist Baker had a recipe posted for their version of Nutella but we opted for a different recipe. It turned out well but we may try the Minimalist Baker version next. We also used the Cuisinart processor instead of the VitaMix to process the spread to the point where we felt comfortable putting it in the VitaMix (I’m still phobic about that machine). The VitaMix did blend it some smoother but we are not sure it was worth all the transfer effort. So it’s not perfectly smooth from the food processor…it was damn good to eat. Big Solid likes a ‘newtella’ and banana sandwich.
And FINALLY, we have DISCOVERED smoked sea salt! It’s one of the ingredients in the Bacun recipe that really really adds a great flavor to the end result. Now, we use it on just about everything. In fact, we just bought a salt grinder specifically for it. One of the brands we saw at Fresh Market was WAY EXPENSIVE and we passed on it; however, this one was more reasonable. It’s in crystals so the grinder is important to get the most bang for your buck. In fact, we just ground a bit on a fresh cucumber/tomato sandwich for lunch. The Elf’s taste buds were thrilled.
And you know WHAT!! This little blog is now a YEAR OLD!! We began it last May. WOW for The Elf! And so we begin our second year with the month of June...this is the month when farmer’s markets in the south begin to overflow with fresh vegetables and fruit. So get out there, enjoy Nature's bounty and do something really good for your body, mind and spirit. Ain’t NUTHIN’ in the world better than a fresh summer tomato. So, til next week, breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a lot and love life.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dances with Elves

It seems like we had just pushed the ‘publish’ button on the blog site when lo and behold, it’s time to do it again. The Elfin kitchen has been busy doin’ lots of fun stuffs this week while KEEPIN’ to her pledge of ONE grocery trip a month (notwithstanding those items we cannot find at our local Kroger). Some things have been yummy and some things have been mediocre and ONE thing was a damn near disaster (salvaged on a wing and a prayer and some brown sugar). First things first, though…our EXPERT (and that would be Susan Voisin’s awesome site of FatFree Vegan Kitchen) recipes for this past week were fun and good.
As we have been doing lately, we prepared two FFVK recipes this week—trying to keep things on the lighter side. Our fist recipe was Roasted Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes
with the added bonus of the Fat Free Balsamic Raisin Dressing which is embedded in the following recipe
This was a warm salad made ever so yummy by the dressing. Too bad we’d already used up our crop of asparagus from the garden/yard but asparagus are plentiful right now and we found some nice smaller and tenderer ones.  We roasted the asparagus, small wedges of onion and a large clove of elephant garlic (the original recipe calls for 2 to 3 cloves of regular garlic, but we had this on hand, so gave it a go)
 added the chickpeas and potatoes
 made up the dressing (and I’m here to tell you that stuff is AWESOME!) Actually, that clove of roasted elephant garlic is mashed up and whisked into the dressing for a little extra sumthin’ sumthin’
 and mixed it all up (more at room temperature than actually warm)
Next up was the TLT sandwich (Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato)
We marinated thinly sliced tempeh (your own choice and there are some really good ones out there now)
 picked some lettuce from The Garden of the Elf and made up a really nice sandwich on whole wheat bread.

We enjoyed both of these recipes and would more likely go with the salad again than the TLT…and that’s primarily because we LOVE the Bacun (see the post of 5/10). However, since the Bacun is not gluten free and tempeh is, this recipe makes a very worthy sandwich.
Our EXPERT selection for the coming week is Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu
We love Thai food and will look forward to this recipe!
Other kinky cookery this week consisted of a FABULOUS looking recipe from The Minimalist Baker
So we thought we’d give it a go for the great staff and tireless workers at the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi. While the recipe says it’s a one bowl bread, there are a LOT of ingredients that go into that one bowl. In the Elf’s elf-fort do get über-organized, we got all of our ingredients out, measured in little plastic shot glasses (for the smaller amounts) before diving into the actual preparation. WELL, as the stirring and whisking and adding of the ingredients all commenced, we felt damn near Martha Stewart-ish UNTIL we reached for the little cup thingie that had the baking powder and salt. We picked up the container of sea salt (it’s a small white ¼ cup container) and dumped it in the batter INSTEAD of the actual ingredients. OMG!! Was The Elf ever upset…said a number of words that were not Elf-worthy and then proceeded to figure out what to do. Fortunately, we had not stirred any of this catastrophe, so we decided to try to remove the EXCESS salt. Also fortunately, the salt container was not FULL. Slowly and meticulously, we scooped as much of the excess salt out as we could and plunged forward. When the batter was mixed, we tasted it and OF COURSE, you could taste the salt…so we whipped out some additional brown sugar and added enough to have a decent tasting batter. Then we held our breath until the bread came out of the oven, cooled and was sliced. Now we aren’t sure what the ‘real’ bread is supposed to taste like but this was pretty darn good. We sure were glad and we hope the folks at ARF enjoyed it as well. Holy cow—what a feeling when The Elf realized what had happened!!
Since that FFVK Balsamic-Raisin Dressing was such a hit, we decided to steam a couple of really nice artichokes one night and paired the artichokes and Balsamic-Raisin Dressing with the Za’atar Roasted Chickpea salad for a light evening meal. We found a substantial supply of the Za’atar at the Mediterranean Grocery locally.
This week, we also received a long-anticipated cook-book!! Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen! We had pre-ordered it months ago and are delighted to finally get it. There will be some awesome aromas headed toward our olfactory places.
  Saturday night, we went to the Strawberry Cafe here in downtown Madison MS. They have a lovely spinach and walnut stuffed portabello entree that is vegan (other options such as goat cheese and/or chicken are available). It was delicious. So NICE to have restaurants now including vegan entrees!! Thanks Strawberry people!!
Lastly, we always enjoy our little backyard garden and this year is no exception. We don’t have a large variety of stuff growing but do have two kinds of zucchini, some tomatoes (heirlooms), lettuce, white radishes, cilantro, basil and okra. There is just something really fun about picking food you grew yourowns-elf!
And finally on this Memorial Day weekend, we include a picture of Mail Order Annie as she celebrates graduations of the Class of 2015 AND the sacrifices of the thousands who made it possible for graduations to occur.
 Y’all have a safe and meaningful weekend and remember to breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants and love life.
~~The Elf~~

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Fair Elfy

The Elf has a good, interesting, fun, entertaining, anxious (sometimes), busy, and did we say FUN week. That’s why Monday turned into the following Sunday like THE NEXT DAY!
And last week’s post was so long, we’ve decided to give y’all a break this week and offer the KISS version of The Elf in the Kitchen.
Our EXPERT (that bein’ SUSAN VOISIN of FAT FREE VEGAN KITCHEN) recipes this week were 
 and as usual we were not disappointed.
The more interesting dish of the two was the Pav Bhaji or Spicy Mixed Vegetables on Buns. The Elf will use any excuse to visit Patel’s Grocery in Ridgeland MS. In fact, we have been talking to Mr. Patel hisownself to see if we might feature his Indian Grocery in an upcoming blog post. He has graciously consented so we are lining that up. Just to wander down the spice aisles is a blast.
In any event, we needed to get the primary spice for this dish…the Pav Bhaji Masala
We then spent a while chopping, dicing and preparing the ingredients for the dish itself. It was then The Elf decided that she needed a sous chef to do all the knife work. However we did get it done in advance of the actual kinky cookery phase of this effort. We REALLY REALLY like to do that so we don’t discover at the last minute we are missing an ingredient IN SPITE of our (mostly) diligent efforts to shop for everything we need for our EXPERT recipe(s).
So, here you go…all the ingredients (except we forgot to put the diced onion in this picture as it sat in its baggie on the opposite counter). Keep in mind that the recipe calls for these veggies to be diced or chopped (except the peas…it’s kinda hard to dice those) – so you’ll see carrots, green bell pepper, tomato, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, and cabbage. Just pretend that you see a baggie of diced onion. Those two larger green chiles played a very important role in the flavoring/spiciness of this dish and were halved instead of diced.
We cooked the vegetables (except for the bell pepper, onion and tomatoes) in a small amount of water until they were soft and then used a potato masher thingie to mash them up a bit…not to smithereens but a nice texture with the vegetables still identifiable. Next we sautéed the onions until they began to slightly brown and added the minced ginger and garlic. We actually jumped the gun with adding the turmeric, so that’s why the picture of the onions has a yellow cast. Oops on The Elf! This cooked for a little longer to allow those flavors to develop before adding the bell peppers. Following that, we added the Pav Bhaji masala, red chili powder (remind me to tell you about THAT one!), turmeric (had we been on pointe with our turmeric) and salt. Last vegetable added were the diced tomatoes.
Lastly, we added our mashed vegetable medley, some water and let that simmer for a bit at a low temperature. The last ingredient was a small bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice to perk up things and bring out the flavor. We adjusted the salt seasoning slightly since we are salt conscious in this household. Actually, we have gone nuts over a smoked salt that adds wonderful flavor to a dish and can be used very sparingly. We had toasted some whole wheat potato buns on which to serve the vegetable mash-up. You’ll see a final plated picture shortly.
Next up was the Lentil Soup with Coriander and Cumin…no big deal here other than it’s a delicious soup, easy to make and set up our EXPERT evening quite nicely. Here’s a shot of it simmering with the carrots and spinach. The soup is quite nice and when we make it again, we may up the coriander/cumin slightly. Also, you’ll see further below how we added additional spice to it.
 Also, we’d mentioned that red chili powder..well, we bought some at Patel’s Grocery and got the EXTRA HOT!
And we are here to tell you that this stuff will blow the top of your mouth completely UP if you are not careful. The recipe calls for a teaspoon of red chili powder BUT we (very thankfully) chose to just use a half-teaspoon and increase it if we needed to. We didn’t need to…in fact, we could have probably used 1/4th teaspoon and been just as happy. It was a wee bit on the spicy side, even for us. Here’s the final plated meal.
One thing you need to know about both of these recipes is that (aside from being very very good), you get an abundance of food. We knew we’d have lunch for a few days from these two recipes. THEN The Elf got a notion on Monday to combine some of the lentil soup with an equal portion of the Pav Bhaji mixture and HOLY MOLY, was that ever good!! Toned down the heat of the Pav Bhaji and added extra spice to the soup.

OK, for our next elf-fort at the EXPERT’S recipes, we have selected the following two recipes
Roasted Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes (we’ll also use the FFVK Balsamic Raisin Dressing for that salad. We are including that link as well even though the recipe is for a different salad. The recipe for the Balsamic Raisin Dressing is embedded)
TLT Sandwiches (Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato). We have lots of fresh lettuce in the garden that we need to eat before it gets too hot and the lettuce bolts, so this was an ideal companion to the salad.
Another recipe we tried this past week that was swoon worthy was Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce. OUTSTANDINGLY good! And it’s pretty darn easy. First, you roast some cauliflower that you’ve whittled down to bite sized portions
Then you cook up some spicy lentils seasoned with cumin, chili powder, sautéed onions, garlic and tomato paste
Whip up some chipotle sauce with began mayo, chipotle hot sauce (or adobo sauce) and some lime juice
Run out to the garden and pick some cilantro
And serve it all up in a warm soft taco. We did not get a good picture of our finished product but the link will send you straight to Cookie+Kate’s site where the recipe originated. This is a terrific site as well. There you will see this yummy vegan version of tacos! You can also find it on The Elf in the Kitchen’s Facebook page.
Our ARF (Animal Rescue Fund) cookies of the week were variations on the traditional oatmeal cookie (veganizing the recipe on the back of the box) including Coconut, Pecan, Raisin and Cherry Craisin and Chocolate Chip. These never last long.
And, remember the little foster Poodle dog we mentioned last week--Charlie? Well, he has found his forever home. Here. With. Us. Warts and all, we decided to keep the little guy and work with him on his issues. Just couldn’t stand the thought of him being shifted to yet another home. His foster days are over. He seems to be settling in with his little (emphasis on LITTLE) sister, MiniPearl
 And that, my friends, is the way it rolls at the Elf’s house. See you next week.
Til then, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gone with the Elf

WELL!! What a great week The Elf has had!! We have a couple of things to bring to you today. Namely, our report out on our EXPERT recipes we prepared this week AND a lengthy ‘show and tell’ of The Gentle Chef’s recipe for plant-based Bacun.  If you remember from last week’s blog, we had written to Chef Skye Michael Conroy to ask permission to post some pictures of the Bacun. Well, not only did he give his blessing for that but also gave permission to post the entire recipe. So, ‘let’s get all up in it’!
This week’s EXPERT recipes from Susan Voisin’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen were
Old Fashioned Tofu Chicken Salad
Brussels sprouts and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
The Old Fashioned Tofu Chicken Salad is a worthy effort at chicken salad and we most definitely enjoyed it on crackers. We THOUGHT we had royally screwed it up, though. When we baked the tofu in the marinade on parchment paper, we watched carefully and made sure it was cooked til the edges were brown-ish. We took it out of the oven and started to remove it from the paper and IT STUCK!! I mean like GLUE! So, I immediately messaged Susan to see if she’d ever run into this…I mean PARCHMENT paper??
Well, she messaged back quickly that she’d not run into that at all and hope that I would be able to salvage enough non-stuck tofu to make the recipe work. As it turns out, The Elf’s enthusiasm for making the recipe got in the way BECAUSE after the ‘stuck-on’ tofu had cooled, it just came right off that paper like it was supposed to. Now, had The Elf WAITED and let the tofu cool, there would have been no sticking!
So, here we have the tofu all sliced up (and I even left a step out of THAT by not reading the recipe all the way through but we survived). The recipe calls for slicing the tofu as you see here and then slicing those 8 slices in half…that’s what we forgot to read.
 Next, you see our ‘stuck on tofu slices…GEEZ, if we had JUST waited a little bit, this would have all been avoided.
 You’ll see the end result of the chicken salad on the last picture and believe when I say it was quite delicious. The rest was a very easy recipe of celery, sweet relish, vegan mayo (or making Susan’s tofu-cashew mayo).
Then we prepared the Brussels sprouts and Shiitake Soup. Some people just naturally love Brussels sprouts and some take their own sweet time to warm up to them. Regardless of how you come to know and love them, when combined with yummy shiitake mushrooms, brown rice and this quite lovely broth, you have a winner. The recipe gives you the option of adding white beans to make a complete meal but we chose not to add them.
We started by sautéing onions (of course!). This is where we took a slight liberty with Susan’s recipe quite serendipitously…we had some Bacun ends that we didn’t know how to use when it dawned on us to throw them in with the onions to add some of that smoky flavor. So we did.

 We then added the Brussels sprouts and sliced shiitake mushrooms
 Let that all simmer in a yummy vegetable broth with thyme and a wee bit of sage (I’m not a big sage fan, so usually add only a microscopic amount)
 And pretty soon, it was soup YET!! Now, The Elf loved it but the true test of this recipe was Big Solid’s comment, “This is awesome soup!” We were so excited, we messaged Susan right away.
 So, our two EXPERT recipes for this week were both very good with the soup being the clear preference. Our recipes for next week offer a similar theme of soup/sandwich. It’s nice to have a lighter supper and not go around the rest of the night feeling AND; looking like a stuffed pillow.
Pav-Bhaji Spicy Mixed Vegetables on Buns
Lentil Soup with Coriander and Cumin
A couple of other cool recipes that we tried this week were a redemptive effort at some lemon cookies after our fiasco and EPIC FAIL from last week and a chance to use one of our favorite kitchen gadgets (the spiralizer). Look ON!
Lemon Thumbprint cookies with raspberry jam. Holy PUCKER-UP, these were good! Next go around, these will be filled with vegan lemon curd and some will be filled with orange marmalade. We found this recipe (which was NOT vegan) and made it vegan by using an egg substitute instead of the large egg, vegan butter, and filled the thumbprints with raspberry jam instead of regular lemon curd. Need we say more!
 And finally, after glancing in the pantry to see if we had an extra jar of pickled red cabbage to fix Seitan Taronja, we were completely dismayed to find out we’d mistaken a jar of pickled beets for the cabbage—so THAT recipe was out. We quickly scrambled for a new supper plan and settled on zucchini noodles with FFVK’s Spicy Peanut Sauce (not the whole recipe but the sauce. We sauteed our noodles with veggies and then added the sauce).
 We always love zucchini noodles and the sauce is to DIE for…we threw in some broccoli and onion and had a delicious light supper.
Zucchini noodles from two zucchinis (WHAT FUN!!)
 An easy and delicious supper
OK…now it’s time for the 'piece d’resistance'…or at least I’d like to think of it that way. We understand that many vegans are not supporters of plant-based meat alternatives. Well, we are and use them frequently. This recipe for the plant-based alternative to the ‘to die for’ taste of bacon follows. If you expect the exact same taste, that ain’t happening BUT if you want a really nice alternative to bacon, this is your option. The Elf would like to support this recipe…and while it looks long (and it is) and labor intensive, it is actually NOT. Once you make it, you understand that Chef Skye’s extensive guidance is not only helpful but absolutely necessary for this to turn out well. We make this recipe weekly and BELIEVE us when we say that IF it was too labor intensive or difficult to make…we would NOT be that invested. The comments noted in parentheses () are The Elf's and not part of the original recipe. The rest of the text IS the original recipe from The Gentle Chef's Cookbook...again reprinted with permission.
Bacon has a flavor and texture that many people miss when they transition to vegan or plant based eating. There are several steps to this recipe, but because this vegan version simulates the appearance and taste of real bacon fairly well, it's worth the extra effort. I think it's actually better than the commercial brands. This recipe really isn't as complicated as it appears, so give it a try. It's wonderful served with tofu scramble at breakfast and especially for BLT sandwiches. For the best texture, you will need to refrigerate the Bacun for a minimum of 8 hours after baking before slicing and browning slices in the skillet; so plan accordingly.
In this recipe you will be making two batches of seitan to create your Bacun. Dough 1 is for the darker marble layer of the bacun. Dough 2 is for the lighter marble layer of the Bacun.
(These are the basic dry ingredients from The Elf's pantry -- yours may differ)
 (and these are the wet ingredients that The Elf used -- again, the brands you have may differ)
Thoroughly stir together the dry ingredients for Dough 1 in a large bowl:
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 T nutritional yeast
3 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper 
Mix the liquid ingredients for Dough 1 in a bowl or measuring cup:
1/2 cup water
2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
2 T real maple syrup
2 T tomato paste
1 T liquid smoke
1 T vegetable oil
 Thoroughly stir together the dry ingredients for Dough 2 in a medium size bowl:
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Mix the liquid ingredients for Dough 2 in a bowl or measuring cup:
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (substitute with sea salt or kosher salt)
1 T liquid smoke
1 T vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Dough 1 Technique:
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. (When the dough was thoroughly mixed, it was weighed in grams to ascertain equal amounts for the three separate layers. The bottom photograph is representative of the three layers of dough 1)
 Dough 2 Technique:
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate. Divide the dough into 2 pieces (same process for the second dough layers)
 Now you will begin the layering process which will create the marbling effect for your Bacun. Take a piece of Dough 1 and flatten and spread the dough on your work surface with the heel of your hand until it is about 1/4-inch thick. You don't need to worry about the shape. Place the flattened piece on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Next, take a piece of Dough 2 and repeat the process. Lay this on top of Dough 1 on your foil. Repeat the process again with another piece of Dough 1, then with a piece of Dough 2 and finally with the remaining piece of Dough 1. If they don't stack perfectly, that's good - if you are too precise, the Bacun will look like it was made by a machine.

With the palms of your hands, shape the dough into a rectangular "slab" about 1 inch thick. Once again, don't worry about being too precise; the dough will expand during baking to conform to the shape of the foil package. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and wrap (don't roll) the slab of bacun in the foil. You want to create a rectangular shaped package. Wrap again in another piece of foil. Place seam side down in a shallow casserole dish and bake for 90 minutes.

Cool the Bacun in the foil at room temperature and then refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, or for up to 10 days, before browning in the skillet. You can also store the Bacun in the freezer for up to 3 months. Now unwrap it, slice it thin (but not too thin, or it will tear when trying to turn it in the skillet) and fry in a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil until lightly browned and crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot any excess oil. Serve or use on your favorite sandwiches. 
Copyright ©2012 by Skye Michael Conroy
Reprinted by permission
(The Elf's rendition of Bacun--slab and sliced. As instructed, the baked dough was cooled and placed in the refrigerator overnight. This is an important step to assure the best texture for your bacun!! ENJOY! And thanks again to Chef Skye!) 
We have our menu set for next week and have already been to the grocery store on this Mother’s Day. The Elf wishes to thank Big Solid and my step-son Powell for both making donations to the Animal Rescue Fund of MS—that’s the best gift you could have given. And we’d like to close out this week’s blog with a picture of our latest foster dog, Charlie. Charlie has some challenges and demons to conquer but we will work hard to help him do just that. Here he is visiting The Elf in the hammock...he's a character.

Until next Sunday, The Elf wishes all of you a Happy Mother’s Day and a good week ahead. Til then, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life.