Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary & Shallot Sausages with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

I like to think of these as a "veganized and poshed up" version of Glamorgan sausages ;-) I was inspired here by a recipe created by my dear chef friend Stacey's recipe for "Pan Seared Aged White Cheddar Sausages  with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy". I had them when I was working with her back in my vegetarian days and they were just gorgeous, especially with that gravy. (And a huge thanks to her for permission to post!)

In order to veganize the sausages I've had to change a lot but followed her recipe as a guide. I have made them tofu based and added my Vegan Parmesan recipe of nutritional yeast, ground almonds and salt for a cheesy flavour.

The gravy is pretty much the exact same though, I just swapped onions for shallots (as I had them for the sausages, you can use onion if you prefer) and used soy cream in place of whipping cream. It's a stunning gravy and goes perfectly with the sausages, perfect for a nice dinner with some mashed potato and side of broccoli.
Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy


Now, I have made these sausages with both soft and firm tofu. Either work but you have to prepare them differently and you do end up with different textured results depending on which type you use. In the photos you see here I have used an extra firm tofu.

First, with the soft tofu, and I do mean soft, for those of you in the UK/Ireland I used Cauldron's original tofu which is so soft it borders on silken (but don't use silken here!) Anyway, you end up with a softer, looser textured sausage much more reminiscent of traditional Glamorgan sausages which I always remember being very soft. They still hold together and fry up fine but are a little more tricky to shape.

With the extra firm tofu, and I have used quite a firm one here, Taifun's tofu which is even rubbery in texture; you end up with a much firmer sausage, more reminiscent in texture of traditional sausages. This makes them MUCH easier to shape and thus they have less margin of error.

Either way, both turn out well and taste great and I'll post both versions and let you decide which one to make :-)

Lastly, I do apologize for the not-so-great and rather "samey" photos here....I even failed to get a shot of them cut open! My family were eagerly standing in the background waiting for me to finish shooting this so they could eat so I was rather rushed ;-) My poor family always eating lukewarm meals, lol!
Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary & Shallot Sausages:

• 200g extra firm OR soft tofu *see above
• 2 cups (100g) breadcrumbs
• ½ cup (65g) finely chopped shallots
• 1 tsp dried mustard powder
• 1 tsp fine smoked sea salt
• 12 grinds freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 2 Tbsp finely ground nutritional yeast flakes
• 2 Tbsp ground almonds
• 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond or soy milk (omit if using soft tofu)
• olive oil to grease and fry



Instructions if using soft tofu:

Drain the tofu (there is no need to press). Place everything except the milk into a large bowl and just get in there with your hands, squishing the tofu through your fingers to mush it all up. When well mixed and thick in texture wash then grease your hands with some olive oil and shape into 6 sausages. I find it easiest to grease a 1/4 cup measuring cup and press the mixture in, scoop it out then squeeze and roll into sausage shapes. Lay out on a plate lined with cling film, cover with cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.

Instructions if using extra firm tofu:

Crumble the tofu (no need to press) into a food processor and add the milk. Process until fine in texture and well mixed. Add everything else except the shallots and blend well, it should just come together like a dough and should be able to grab a bit of the mixture and squish it together easily. Now add the shallots and pulse a few times until well mixed and the shallots are a little smaller - you still want bits of shallots in here though so don't overmix.

Grease your hands with olive oil and shape into 6 sausages. Lay out on a plate lined with cling film, cover with cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.


Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

To Fry:

Add 1½ Tbsp of olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan and heat to medium. Add the sausages, turning to coat in the oil and fry, turning frequently until equally golden brown all over.


Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy:

• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 70g shallots, sliced (about 4 large shallots)
• 50g sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (about 7 pieces)
• 2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock*
• 2 Tbsp soy cream
• 10 grinds freshly ground black pepper

*First, a note on the vegetable stock, it provides a lot of the flavour in this gravy so make sure you use one you really love the taste of. I've used a Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot here FYI.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then gently fry the shallots and pepper until the shallots are really soft and caramelized, a nice golden brown will do. 

Tip into a blender (I used my Froothie Optimum 9400 for the silkiest results) with the sun-dried tomatoes and half the vegetable stock. Blend until really smooth then add the rest of the stock and blend again. It will be really watery looking at this point, that's ok!

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to medium heat, reduce to low and simmer with the lid off for about 20 minutes until it has reduced in volume and is thicker. Pour in the cream and stir well.

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links to Froothie UK.)

Nutritional Information:

Per sausage (after frying):

Calories: 122
Protein: 5.6g
Fat: 6.4g
Sat Fat: 1.0g
Carbs: 11.1g
Sugar: 1.1g
Fibre: 1.1g
Sodium: 337mg

Per 1/3 of the gravy (a generous amount for a serving of 2 sausages and sides):

Calories: 118
Protein: 2.1g
Fat: 9.4g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 7.1g
Sugar: 2g
Fibre: 1.8g
Sodium: 787mg

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Trio of Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary

A Trio of Vegan Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary. Soy and Gluten Free.
Well, finally - a new blog post! I've just been so busy lately and these have been sitting on the rather large "to be blogged" pile for quite awhile now :-) These are all variations on the Almond Chive Cheese which is actually already on the blog from way back in 2009. It's one of our favourite homemade cheeses but I decided to make a few changes this time around. Mostly I usually find myself without any sweet white miso paste whenever I want to make this so I've omitted that here, swapped the rice milk to either unsweetened soy or almond (both work well) and then tried a couple more flavours.
A Trio of Vegan Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary. Soy and Gluten Free.
First I tried a Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil version and we both absolutely loved it!! Wonderful flavour and such a nice variation. I was just going to blog the two flavours but figured everything should come in threes right?? So I thought a spicy version would be nice and opted for one of my favourite flavour combinations, chili and rosemary (similar to my socca recipe). Really love this one as well, good heat coming through with the chili but not too overpowering and I love the rosemary there, this one will become a regular as well. The great thing about these cheeses as well? They are SO easy to make and set and chill within an hour, no waiting days or even overnight for these!
A Trio of Vegan Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary. Soy and Gluten Free.
All of these cheeses are based on ground almonds, nutritional yeast, olive oil, unsweetened soy or almond milk, flavourings and set with agar flakes. Using agar can be a little hit or miss but the great thing with these is it doesn't matter if they have trouble setting, you simply end up with a spreadable cheese instead :-) Mine end up as you see in the photos here, you can slice them, carefully, but they are also soft enough to spread - the best of both worlds! But please note these are not grating or melting cheeses. We love them simply sliced/spread onto crackers or bread in the evening with either a nice red or white wine and my husband loves them in sandwiches.


~ Recipe Notes ~
Ramekin dishes for cheese
• The recipes make small portions of the cheese. Above are the ramekin dishes I use to make mine, they fit perfectly and measure 3" across on the bottom, 2" high and hold 180ml/ ¾ cup liquid. I just give the dishes a spray of cooking oil and the cheeses always come out easily after running a knife around the sides. If you are using a different type of dish and are weary of the cheese coming out, simply line the dish with cling film.
• All recipes can easily be doubled or tripled if you would like more.
• I used dried chili flakes for the rosemary and chili cheese as you get more consistent heat levels with those as opposed to fresh chillies which can vary wildly in heat levels. That being said, you can easily use fresh chillies and rosemary, I would say 1 small red chili finely chopped and 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary and just use as per recipe.
• As mentioned above, don't fret if they don't set, agar can be fickle and these are just as good spreadable :-)
• When I say to grind the nutritional yeast flakes to a powder I always use a mortar and pestle but you can easily just use your hands.
A Trio of Vegan Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary. Soy and Gluten Free.

Almond Chive Cheese:

• 40g ground almonds (5 Tbsp + 2 tsp) also known as "almond meal"
• 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, ground to a powder
• ¼ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 100ml unsweetened almond or soy milk (3.5 fl oz)
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp agar flakes
• ½ tsp lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the ground almonds, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan whisk together the milk and oil. Sprinkle on the agar flakes and let it sit for 5 minutes (off the heat). Give it a good whisk now and turn the heat on to high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking all the while, then reduce to a simmer and switch to a wooden spoon to stir. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring often.

Turn off the heat then quickly pour it over the almond mixture. Add the chopped chives and lemon juice then mix really well. You should have a fairly thick mixture. Scrape it all into the prepared ramekin dish then gently press it in using a sheet of cling film until it's nice and smooth on top. Wrap the whole dish in cling film and chill until set. They set pretty quickly, 1 or 2 hours.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Cheese:

• 40g ground almonds (5 Tbsp + 2 tsp)
• 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, ground to a powder
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 100ml unsweetened almond or soy milk (3.5 fl oz)
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• ½ Tbsp tomato paste
• 1 Tbsp agar flakes
• 2 Tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the type packed in oil)
• 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the ground almonds, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan whisk together the milk, tomato paste and oil. Sprinkle on the agar flakes and let it sit for 5 minutes (off the heat). Give it a good whisk now and turn the heat on to high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking all the while, then reduce to a simmer and switch to a wooden spoon to stir. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring often.

Turn off the heat then quickly pour it over the almond mixture. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and basil then mix really well. You should have a fairly thick mixture. Scrape it all into the prepared ramekin dish then gently press it in using a sheet of cling film until it's nice and smooth on top. Wrap the whole dish in cling film and chill until set. They set pretty quickly, 1 or 2 hours.

Chili and Rosemary Cheese:

• 40g ground almonds (5 Tbsp + 2 tsp)
• 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, ground to a powder
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 100ml unsweetened almond or soy milk (3.5 fl oz)
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• ½ tsp dried rosemary
• ¼ tsp dried chili flakes (also known as red pepper flakes)
• about 6 grinds of black pepper
• 1 Tbsp agar flakes

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the ground almonds, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan whisk together the milk, oil, chili flakes, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle on the agar flakes and let it sit for 5 minutes (off the heat). Then give it a good whisk and turn the heat on to high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking all the while, then reduce to a simmer and switch to a wooden spoon to stir. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring often.

Turn off the heat then quickly pour it over the almond mixture and stir well, you should have a fairly thick mixture. Scrape it all into the prepared ramekin dish then gently press it in using a sheet of cling film until it's nice and smooth on top. Wrap the whole dish in cling film and chill until set. They set pretty quickly, 1 or 2 hours.

A Trio of Vegan Almond Cheese: Chive, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Chili & Rosemary. Soy and Gluten Free.


Nutritional Information
(all per 100g and using unsweetened almond milk)

Almond and Chive Cheese
Calories: 385
Protein: 12.3g
Fat: 33.3g
Sat Fat: 3.4g
Fibre: 7.3g
Carbs: 12.2g
Sugar: 1.8g
Sodium: 619mg
Calcium: 138mg

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Cheese:
Calories: 308
Protein: 9g
Fat: 26g
Sat Fat: 2.7g
Fibre: 6g
Carbs: 12g
Sugar: 1.8g
Sodium: 502mg
Calcium: 106mg

Chili and Rosemary Cheese:
Calories: 411
Protein: 12.1g
Fat: 35.9g
Sat Fat: 3.8g
Fibre: 7.5g
Carbs: 12.6g
Sugar: 1.5g
Sodium: 665mg
Calcium: 151mg

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Monday, 25 August 2014

Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous

Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free
I really can't believe I haven't thought of this before - combining my two most favourite foods, pesto and houmous, into one! I was inspired by this Bean and Pesto Mash on BBC Good Food which was just a can of beans mashed with some store bought pesto and a little olive oil. For my version here I've used my pesto recipe and added some of my homemade vegan parmesan
Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free
Further I wanted a really super smooth and creamy spread as opposed to a chunky mash so I threw everything into my Froothie Optimum 9400 blender which did an amazing job! It's absolutely silky smooth and I didn't even have to make the pesto first, just threw all the ingredients in and blended :-)
Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free
We've been loving this as a late night snack with some vegan butter grilled french bread slices but it would also make an excellent sandwich spread, filling for wraps with some roasted veggies or as a dip with crudites. 

Note that I would recommend omitting the water if you will be using this primarily as a sandwich spread so that it is thicker.
Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free

Pesto and Cannellini Bean Houmous

1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (about 215g drained weight)
50g/ 2 cups packed fresh basil, washed (remove thicker stems)
2 cloves garlic
25g/2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
60 ml/ ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt 
about 9 grinds freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup/ 4 Tbsp vegan parmesan* recipe below
1 Tbsp water to thin if needed 

Add everything to your blender in the order given. For my Froothie Optimum 9400 I used the tamper tool to mix as it blended. Start on low and turn up to medium-high speed. Blend until super smooth and bright green. 

Vegan Parmesan: (makes the 1/4 cup you need)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, finely ground in either a blender or a mortar and pestle
2 Tbsp ground almonds (almond meal)
¼ tsp salt

Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free

Butter Grilled French Bread:

Slice a baguette in diagonal slices. Spread with vegan butter on both sides and fry in a grill pan until golden both sides.

Pesto Cannellini Bean Houmous - vegan, gluten-free and soy-free



Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links, if you purchase a Froothie blender through my link here I receive a little commission which helps fund my blog. Thanks!

Nutritional Information: per 100g

Calories: 245
Protein: 6.6g
Fibre: 4.8g
Carbs: 11g
Sugar: 2.0g
Fat: 20.8g
Sat Fat: 2.6g
Sodium: 410mg

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes

Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes - vegan

Now I know I just said on my side bar there that I am on summer holidays until September and that is still technically true but I've been wanting to get this recipe up for a couple months now so thought I would squeeze it in amongst my crazy busy summer :-)

These are so good and easy to throw together. Chickpeas are processed with garlic, chilli, ginger, spring onions, lime, soy sauce and crunchy peanut butter. I've thrown in some breadcrumbs to help bind then they are coated in sesame seeds before frying, baking OR grilling - nice and versatile!
Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes - vegan
I was initially making these as a burger but they honestly just aren't as nice in a bun. I much prefer these on their own with a good drizzle of lemon-tahini sauce. I'm thinking they would also be nice with some sort of miso gravy but I haven't gotten around to trying that yet :-)
Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes - vegan
As mentioned above you can fry these in some peanut oil until nice and crispy (ideal) but they can also be baked with no oil at all - they don't get as golden and crispy that way but still taste great. Furthermore they can be grilled without oil.

Whichever way you make them they are perfect over a bed of brown basmati rice, some veg on the side - asparagus and green beans a good choice as I did here, and a drizzle of the lemon-tahini sauce for a great meal :-)
Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes - vegan

Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes:

(Makes 5-6 good size cakes)

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (240g drained weight)
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
grated zest 1 lime
75g fresh white breadcrumbs or panko (1 cup)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter 
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
peanut oil, for frying - optional

Tip the chickpeas into a food processor and processor until flaky looking. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it all just comes together, it should have the texture of thick peanut butter. To shape the patties I press the mixture into either a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure then scoop it out and shape with lightly greased hands. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. You will get 5 larger patties with 1/3 cup measure and 6 smaller ones with 1/4 cup measure. 

Spread the sesame seeds onto a plate and place a patty on pressing the seeds in lightly, repeat on the other side.  

Heat a little peanut oil in a frying pan and cook the patties for 3-4 mins each side until golden and heated through. You will lose some sesame seeds but as you can see from the pictures enough stay on!

Note: can be baked for 10 minutes a side at 200C/400F or grilled until golden and crispy both sides - keep an eye on them if grilling, sesame seeds can burn fast! 

Lemon-Tahini Sauce:
• 2 Tbsp tahini
• 2 scant Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 small clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1-2 Tbsp hot water

Whisk everything together except the hot water until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp of the hot water and whisk again until smooth, add the other Tbsp if needed.

Source: Heidi Swanson's Lemon-Tahini Sauce
Crispy Sesame Chickpea Cakes - vegan




Nutritional Information: based on 1 cake out of 6 (prior to frying).
Calories: 115
Protein: 5.9g
Fat: 4.4g
Sat Fat: 0.7g
Fibre: 2.8g
Carbs: 13.4g
Sugar: 1.3g
Sodium: 351mg

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"A Modern Way to Eat" by Anna Jones (and her amazing Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie!)

nna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie

Oh my word. You really wouldn't believe this was a healthy dessert! Sticky nut and date base, sweet, gooey banana toffee and fluffy whipped coconut cream topping. It is truly amazing and just one of many incredible recipes from Anna Jones' new cookbook "A Modern Way to Eat" (Harper Collins publishers).
©Harper Collins
From the publishers: 
"Anna Jones is a brilliant young cook and food writer, who worked with Jamie Oliver for many years. Her first cookbook is a totally modern take on vegetarian eating – recipes that are healthy, nourishing, truly tasty and satisfying, introducing new dishes that are simple to make. Based on how Anna likes to eat day to day, A Modern Way to Eat covers everything from a blueberry and amaranth porridge to start the day to a quick autumn root panzanella or avocado, butterbean and miso salad for lunch; a tomato and coconut cassoulet, pistachio and squash galette, or mint, ricotta and courgette polpette for dinner. Packed with recipes that explore the full breadth of vegetarian ingredients – different grains, nuts, seeds and seasonal vegetables – and alternative approaches to cooking that avoid too much dairy or heavy carbs and gluten, this is a cookbook for how we want to eat now.
©Harper Collins

Anna Jones is a cook, food writer and stylist. One grey, late-for-the-office day, she decided to quit her day job after reading an article about following your passion. Within weeks, she was signed up on Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprentice programme. She went on to be part of Jamie’s food team – styling, writing and working behind the scenes on books, TV shows and food campaigns. Now freelance, she has worked with some of the country’s biggest food brands, including innocent drinks for whom she wrote the recipes for Hungry?: the innocent recipe book for filling your family with good stuff. She has also worked with other well-known chefs, such as Henry and Tom Herbert (The Fabulous Baker Brothers), Stevie Parle and Antonio Carluccio, and cooked for royalty, politicians and LA school children alike. A Modern Way to Eat is her first solo book."
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie
I was more than happy when asked to review her cookbook as it sounded right up my alley. It is vegetarian but don't fret vegan friends, there are over 75 naturally vegan recipes in the book (Anna often cooks for her vegan brother and sister) and many more recipes are given vegan alternatives. Furthermore there are many gluten-free recipes, all listed in the back so no one is excluded.

Another great aspect of this book are they "how to build a...." pages which breaks down how to make almost anything in an easy formula using a huge variety of different ingredients. There are 'how to' pages on:

• Smoothies
• Morning Fruit
• Hummus
• Quick Sandwich ideas
• 1000 variations of soup
• How to make a great salad
• Go-to pasta recipes
• Pestos
• How to make a killer roast dinner
• Roasted Roots and 5 dressings
• Nut milks and butters
• 10 ways with avocado toast

It is a truly beautiful hardcover book with stunning photography and is just a joy to sit down with a cup of coffee and read. This would make an excellent gift to give to friends and family as it is so beautiful and the recipes are top notch. There are so many recipes here I can't wait to try like:

• California miso, avocado and butter bean salad
• Banana, Blueberry and Pecan Pancakes
• Deep Crusted Leek and Greens Pie
• Dosa Spiced potato cakes with quick Cucumber Pickle
• Maple Peanut Tempeh California Wraps
• Smoky Walnut and Cumin Muhammara
• Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Brownies
• Sage, Pumpkin and Potato Bake
• Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup
• Lady Grey Fig Rolls
• Carrot and Black Pepper Soda Bread
• Crispy Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Dipping Sauce
• Sweet Tomato and Black Bean Tortilla Bowls
• Walnut Miso broth with Udon Noodles

....and the list goes on and on! There is also a vegan burger in this book which looks pretty much like the most amazing vegan burger I've ever seen, based on portabello mushrooms and brown rice it looks to die for! I can safely say this will become one of my "go-to" cookbooks.

Now whenever I review a cookbook I like to pick a recipe from it and make that my tester. Needless to say just choosing one from this book was very difficult! There are so many mouthwatering sounding savoury recipes but once I got to this Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie I knew I had to make it. I've been wanting to try a banoffee type pie for years now and this one sounded perfect.
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie
....and it is! A dessert that actually makes you feel good with a sticky nutty date base, banana caramel and fluffy whipped coconut cream topping (I mean, who doesn't like coconut whipped cream???) It's altogether a gorgeous pie, each ingredient compliments the other, right down the little bit of lime juice the banana slices are tossed in - that little citrus kick is a beautiful addition, a nice counter to the rich toffee and cream. Another nice thing about this dessert is that although it is sweet it's not cloyingly so. Just perfect :-)

Disclaimer: Harper Collins sent me the book for review. All views expressed are my own.

~Recipe Notes~

♥ Where the recipe calls for honey or agave I used maple syrup, because, you know I'm Canadian and throw that stuff in everything ;-)
♥ She states that if you don't have medjool dates to use other pitted ones but to soak them first in hot water and use a couple extra. I didn't have medjool so did exactly that. I just soaked them until the edges turned white, maybe only 5 minutes or so.
♥ Instead of the seeds from a vanilla pod I used 1/2 tsp natural vanilla paste.
♥ As you can see I also opted for her recommendation of grating some dark chocolate over top - beautiful!
♥ I was a little impatient in cooking the caramel and it could have cooked longer and gotten firmer - that was my impatience and not a fault of the recipe! Just make sure you cook it as she states, until it is thickened and deep golden brown :-) Although, it doesn't matter if your caramel is a little runny like mine, the slices still hold together and the taste is still spot on perfect!
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie

Anna Jones' Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie:

serves 6-8

FOR THE CRUST
75g almonds
75g pecan nuts
120g medjool dates
(6 fat ones, pitted)
1 tablespoon set honey or agave
a good pinch of ground ginger

FOR THE BANANA CARAMEL
12 tablespoons unrefined light demerara sugar
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed well

FOR THE COCONUT CLOUD CREAM
2 X 400g tins of full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon set honey or agave
seeds from 1 vanilla pod

TO FINISH
2 bananas
juice of 1 lime

First of all, make sure that your coconut milk is in the fridge chilling.

Next, get on with your crust. Put the nuts into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky crumble. Add the dates, honey and ginger and pulse a few more times, until the whole thing comes together.

Tip the mixture into a 20cm springform cake tin and use your fingers to press it all over the base, making a lip around the sides about 1cm deep. Put into the fridge to chill.
(My personal note: I found it easier to grease my hands with some coconut oil while pressing it into the tin and stop the mixture sticking to my hands.)

Now make your banana caramel. Put the sugar into a pan with the mashed banana, place on medium heat and allow to bubble away until the caramel has thickened and is a deep brown colour. This will take between 3 and 5 minutes.

Peel the bananas and slice them into thin rounds. Toss them in the juice of the lime, then lay them evenly on top of the crust.

Once the caramel is cool, pour it over the bananas, spread it evenly and put into the fridge to chill.

Scoop the thick white top layer from your tins of coconut milk and put it into a bowl. Add the honey and vanilla seeds and whisk until thick, like whipped double cream. Put it into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

When you are read to eat, give the coconut cream a final stir, then spoon it on top of the caramel and use the back of a spoon to create pretty swirls.

If you like, top with some grated dark chocolate or, if you are feeling fancy, some chocolate curls.
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie


Recipe reprinted as is from the book with permission by Harper Collins Publishers. Food photos are my own :-)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Zucchini Bhaji and Tarka Dal

Zucchini Bhaji and Tarka Dal - vegan and gluten-free!
vegan•gluten-free•soy-free•nut-free

Anyone else have a glut of zucchini in their garden right now? Yeah, thought so :-) I actually came up with this bhaji recipe last summer when we were in a similar situation and we just absolutely love these. They have great flavour and texture and best of all - they use up a LOT of zucchini! I made loads of these last summer and I suspect the same thing will happen this year. It's taken me so long to post them as I kept thinking I should blog them with something even though I usually just make these on their own to snack on, preferably with some mango chutney and a chilled beer! 

I decided they would be nice dipped into my tarka dal which is just a very basic version using common cupboard ingredients, probably not very traditional but certainly has far less fat than the versions you get in restaurants ;-) I keep my dal mild for my son but feel free to throw in some chillies, with seeds or not - up to you!
Zucchini Bhaji - vegan and gluten-free!
The bhaji's are good hot or cold so would be great to pack on a picnic and they are perfect with some mango chutney. They would also be good used like falafel in a wrap or a pitta with some salad and chilli sauce, lots of options! They also freeze and reheat beautifully, just defrost and lightly pan fry till warm :-)
Zucchini Bhaji and Tarka Dal - vegan and gluten-free!

Zucchini Bhaji

makes about 10 fritters.

500g grated zucchini (you'll need about 600g prior to grating)
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mild curry powder
1 fresh red chili, finely chopped, I de-seed mine, if you want them hotter leave them in.
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped 
1 large onion, diced
1 “egg”:
     1 Tbsp cornstarch
     1/8 tsp xanthan gum
     1/8 tsp gluten free baking powder
     1/8 tsp turmeric
     1 tsp peanut oil (or melted coconut oil)
     50 ml water
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened soy, coconut or almond milk
140g (1 cup + 1 Tbsp) Gram flour*
1½ tsp gluten free baking powder 
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

*Gram flour is also known as chickpea flour, garbanzo bean flour or besan.

Top and tail the zucchini then grate, preferably in a food processor with the grating attachment. Tip the zucchini into a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and toss well, massaging the salt into the zucchini. Don't worry about the amount of salt as it will be rinsed off, this is to draw out the water from the zucchini so you don't end up with soggy bhaji! 

Leave for 20 mins then rinse under cold water. Now take handfuls of the grated zucchini and squeeze as much water out as you can then spread out on a clean dish towel. Cover with another clean dish towel and press down getting the zucchini as dry as you can. Tip into a bowl and separate it all with a fork.

Gently fry the chilli, garlic and onion in the coconut oil with some black pepper until soft. Add the curry powder and fry gently for 1 minute more. Set aside. 

Make the "egg": In a small bowl add the cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder and turmeric and whisk. Mix together the water and oil in a small glass. Slowly add the liquid to the dry whisking all the while until it is all added then whisk really well until the mixture is really thick and gloopy. This takes a little while - if your arms don't hurt, you haven't whisked enough! Now start whisking in the milk a little bit at a time again whisking really well after each addition so it stays on the thick side.

In a medium bowl add the gram flour, salt and baking powder. Add the zucchini, “egg”/milk mixture and fried mixture and stir with a fork until really well blended. There should be no more flour showing and you should have a thick mixture.
Preheat the oven to 120C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Pour enough peanut oil in a medium size fry pan to cover the bottom and drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the pan. Flatten slightly with a fork and fry until golden then flip and fry the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up adding more oil if need be.

When the fritters are cooked transfer to the prepared sheet to keep them warm in the oven. I also do this to ensure the fritters get fully cooked in the middle. They will keep happily in a low temperature oven for even up to half an hour. I usually make the fritters first and keep them warming in the oven while I make the dal.

EDIT: I've since discovered that these can also be BAKED! Just line a baking sheet with baking paper and lightly grease. Preheat the oven to 200C and drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the sheet. Shape and press down lightly with the spoon. Bake for 15 minutes or until fully cooked and lightly golden brown on top. They come baked really light and fluffy, like little bhaji clouds :-)
Zucchini Bhaji - vegan and gluten-free!

Tarka Dal:

serves 2 generously, 3 as a small side

240g (1¼ cup) dry red split lentils
250ml (1 cup) water
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp mild curry powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, cored and finely chopped 
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp vegan butter

Rinse lentils well, place in saucepan and cover with cold water (not the 1 cup listed in the recipe, just cover them with water). Bring to boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with hot water and place back in the pot with the measured water, turmeric and curry powder. Simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes adding more water a bit at a time if need be until the lentils are fully cooked and there is very little water left.

Meanwhile heat 1 Tbsp of coconut oil and fry the cumin seeds a few seconds. Add the onion and fry until slightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. With a few minutes left add the garlic (you can add a finely chopped chilli now if you want more heat, keep in mind this is a mild dal). Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down.


Stir this into the lentils along with the garam masala, salt and 1 Tbsp vegan butter. Stir until the butter melts and everything is well blended. 
Zucchini Bhaji and Tarka Dal - vegan and gluten-free!



Nutritional Information:

For 1 Bhaji out of 10:
Calories: 103
Protein: 4.1g
Fat: 4.7g
Sat Fat: 1.2g
Fibre: 2.3g
Carbs: 11.7g
Sugar: 3.1g
Sodium: 138mg

For 1/2 of the tarka dal:
Calories: 300
Protein: 11.4g
Fat: 13.3g
Sat Fat: 7.3g
Fibre: 7.4g
Carbs: 36.6g
Sugar: 6.8g
Sodium: 904mg

Still have too much zucchini?? A couple of my favourites...
Zucchini, Lemon and Dill
Soup with Orzo
Beer Battered Zucchini Sticks
with Ranch Dip