Saturday, 24 January 2015

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Well, yes - I got a spiralizer for Christmas! I am loving it too - I've been "noodle-izing" everything and eating so healthy as a result. Now I don't know why noodle shaped veg taste better than any other shape but they do. Much in the same way diagonally sliced sandwiches taste better I suppose. I even prefer apples spiralized - I just noodle one up, toss it in a little lime juice to stop them browning and eat the apple noodles from a bowl. It's great!
~ spiralized apple with fresh lime juice ~

This is a variation on one of the first things I made with the spiralizer and have had many times since. As soon as I got it I kept thinking my Raw Summer Rolls with Spicy Cashew Butter Dip would be really nice as a salad using the dip as a dressing. So this usually has spiralized carrot, red cabbage and sliced red pepper in it as well, adding nice crunch and colour. But, I found myself without those ingredients one day so I just embraced the all-green theme and kept it simple with lettuce, cucumber, basil and avocado. Basically, I love both versions but I think this one has a slight edge. I just prefer the simplicity of just a few ingredients and they go wonderful together. Definitely a case of 'less is more'!
Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe
Of course, what really makes this is the dressing, it's so packed with flavour with cashew butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger a little sweetener and some cayenne to taste. It would go with a lot of different veg so really you can put what you like in this salad but this is my personal favourite :-)
Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing:

Yields 2 servings

1 cucumber
1 avocado, sliced
several leaves of butterhead lettuce
2 spring onions, chopped
chopped fresh basil

2 Tbsp cashew nut butter (or other natural nut butter)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free option)
½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
½ Tbsp Sweet Freedom Syrup (or light agave)
1 clove garlic, finely grated
½ tsp finely grated ginger
scant 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste - note, I just add a dash or 2 when I am making a half serving of this for myself and find that just fine.

Make the dressing by simply whisking everything together really well until creamy. Add about ½ tablespoon of water to thin and whisk well. 

Wash the cucumber and slice off the top and bottom. Cut it in half then spiralize using the large noodle cutter, or blade 'C'. Repeat with the second half of the cucumber. 
Spiralizing Cucumber

Transfer the noodles to a clean dish cloth or lots of paper towels and pat dry to get all the excess water off - you don't want that watering down the dressing!

Take a large plate and tear some lettuce leaves on it. Pile the cucumber noodles on top of the leaves then place the avocado slices over top of the noodles. Sprinkle the chopped basil and spring onions all over then drizzle over the dressing. This salad is actually easier to eat with chopsticks.
Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Nutritional Information: (1 serving of dressing only - with salad figures in brackets)

Calories: 106 (220)
Protein: 3.3g (6.3g)
Fat: 7.4g (15.4g)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (2.6g)
Carbs: 8.5g (20g)
Sugar: 3g (6.6g)
Fibre: 0.4g (5.5g)
Sodium: 452mg (462mg)

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley - vegan recipe

Well hello again! And a rather late Happy New Year to you all! I do apologise for the extended break, I found myself quite ill over the holidays and thanks to the lupus/immune suppression it's just taken me forever to get over it. I'm still not out of the woods yet but am getting better, thankfully.

So, back to the recipes :-) I wasn't really intending on posting yet another soup/stew like dish as there have a been a few of them lately but came up with this the other day and just loved it. I've been wanting to do an Irish stew inspired dish for years now anyway and really love this version with deeply roasted baby vegetables and pearl barley. I was considering replacing the meat in Irish stew with some sort of faux meat like seitan or some beans but opted in the end to add lots of baby mushrooms and just keep it simple with the veggies. The mushroom broth, roasting the veg and Worcester sauce all give a richness to the dish that you will not miss either the meat or faux meat here :-) 

You may notice that I have not added any stout here. I'm just not a huge fan of stout in my stews and would much prefer having a pint of it with the dish instead. Plus, as my Irish husband told me "We NEVER had Irish Stew with stout in it..." So there you go! Personally, I would prefer a bottle of my favourite dark ale with this dish instead. In my case, Chimay blue label - that stuff is gorgeous!

I also wanted to have some brown soda bread to go with it. I didn't have any soy yogurt to make my basic Brown Irish Soda bread so I tried my beer bread recipe, replacing the white flour with wholemeal (whole wheat flour) and used a bottle of the Chimay blue label instead of a lager. It turned out nice, the texture was wonderful - really light and fluffy which was surprising for a brown bread and it was really nice with the stew, but a little bit bitter on it's own. I think this is down to the fact that Chimay blue label is a 9% beer. Still, it's a nice bread option for this stew although I would recommend a less powerful beer ;-)
Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley - vegan recipe
~Recipe Notes~

This recipe isn't overly 'brothy' - it is a stew after all - not a soup. So it's something you kind of eat with a knife and fork as well as a spoon.
If you can't buy mushroom stock cubes you could make your own mushroom stock or if you able to buy vegan 'beef style' stock cubes or bouillon I would recommend that here. (I swear I'm not being paid by Kallo, lol - I just use those cubes a lot in my cooking).
Leave the veggies whole if you are able to buy ones that are small enough. If not, slice them in half. I halved my shallots, new potatoes and carrots as I could only find fairly large 'baby' ones. I left my baby mushrooms whole as they shrink up so much.
The length of time roasting with depend on many things - the size of the veggies you've used, the heat of your oven, type of pan you have, even how much water is in the veg is a factor. So, use my times only as a guide and check yours regularly. Note that the shallots will fall apart - that is fine :-)
Initially I roasted the rosemary and thyme with the veggies but found they got a little burnt and added a bitter taste to the final dish so I now add them to the pearl barley while simmering.
The Worcestershire sauce adds a nice flavour dimension to the dish but if you can't buy it or don't like simply don't add it.

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley - vegan recipe

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley:

Recipe yields 4 small servings.

Roasted Vegetables:

150g shallots, peeled 
300g baby new potatoes, washed, scrubbed and dried. 
300g small or baby carrots, peeled 
300g baby button mushrooms
1 large clove of smoked garlic, left in skin (you can use regular garlic here)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
½ Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
pinch of sea salt 
some freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 220°C

Whisk together the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Place the carrots, shallots, mushrooms, clove of garlic and potatoes in a roasting tin and pour over the oil mixture. Toss well. Roast for 40 minutes tossing a few times. Test them with a fork to ensure the potatoes and carrots are soft. When done, remove the clove of garlic and squeeze out the filling into the pan.

Pearl Barley:

50g raw pearl barley
2 bay leaves
sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (1 of each)
1½ Kallo mushroom stock cubes
750ml water

Wash the barley really well. In a small-medium saucepan bring the water to the boil and dissolve the cube in it. Add the barley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Bring back to the boil then cover and reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Stir now and again.

Finishing the dish:

Combine the pearl barley (with stock) and all the roasted veggies into a large saucepan. De-glaze the roasting tin with a little hot water, scraping the tin to get all the flavour off. Pour this into the pot as well. Note: if for some reason your roasting tin ends up really burnt don't deglaze, only do this to add some of the roasted flavour into the dish. Bring to a simmer then cook gently, covered, for 5 -10 minutes for the flavours to meld. Taste, season if need be and if you have to add a bit more water do. Keep in mind this shouldn't have a lot of broth. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary and thyme stalks (leave the leaves). Stir in most of the chives then divide among 4 bowls and sprinkle with more of the chives.

Beautiful served with some brown soda bread and a pint of vegan stout or dark ale.

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley - vegan recipe

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 4

Calories: 275
Protein: 6.5g
Fibre: 6.1g
Fat: 11.2g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 37.5g
Sugar: 6g
Sodium: 853mg

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
I can't quite believe that after blogging since 2006 (including my vegetarian blog) I haven't posted a basic cream of mushroom soup until now! We are so in love with this soup, it's thick and super creamy with a velvety texture and great mushroom flavour. My husband, a huge fan of anything mushroom based was always disappointed by tinned cream of mushroom soup back when he was vegetarian as they never actually taste of mushroom - just  that rank artificial mushroom flavour. Well, he's  described this one as 'hands down the best cream of mushroom soup he's ever had' - so, yay!
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
I have made several cream of mushroom soups before but none have compared to this one. I think the reason for that is the outright simplicity of this recipe, I was probably trying too hard before, roasting the mushrooms, using exotic mushrooms, tons of fresh herbs etc.. when all it really needed was mushrooms, stock, cream, onion and garlic. Simple.

It's a great basic cream of mushroom soup recipe and would also work well in all those old time recipes that call for 'a can of cream of mushroom soup' that we all call old school and a bit naff but secretly love ;-) Remember noodle casserole made with a tin of cream of mushroom soup? Haha - delicious!

~Recipe Notes~
• For the mushroom stock I have used 1 Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock Cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water. If you can't buy this brand then I would use another brand mushroom stock, from either a cube or powder to make 500ml (2 cups) OR I would recommend you make your own mushroom stock (sorry I don't have a recipe but there are loads online). I wouldn't really recommend not using a mushroom stock here - you need that extra mushroom flavour happening.
• I have kept this simple with no herbs but if you like, thyme, marjoram and parsley all go brilliantly with mushrooms. Fresh would be best.
• Recipe makes 4 small servings or 2 large. We always go for the small servings as we have lots of bread with it, in fact I almost treat the soup like a mushroom fondue! Plus the soup is thick and rich so I find the small serving just perfect but keep in mind it doesn't look like much in the bowl. These photos have a large serving in them.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp vegan butter
1 onion, chopped
250g white mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
500ml (2 cups) mushroom stock
250ml (1 cup) soy cream
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg

All the ingredients!

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and give it a good stir. Sprinkle over the salt and add about 12 grinds of black pepper. 
Fry until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are cooked through, about 10 minutes. You also want *most* of the liquid cooked off but not all of it, stop before you've cooked off all the liquid. Now add the garlic and give it a good stir then turn the heat down to low and add the flour. Stir well and fry gently for about 1 minute.
Dissolve the stock cube in the 500ml of boiling water and add a little bit to the pot, stir well to deglaze any flour then add a bit more stock, again stir well and keep adding more stock until it is all added. Now bring to the boil then reduce and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Do this with the lid off so that the stock reduces a bit. 
Stock being added.

Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

...after the 10 minutes, reduced.

Now add the cream (for those of you in the UK and Ireland this is handily a whole 250ml carton of Alpro single cream). Mix well then turn off the heat.
Transfer the soup to your blender and blend on the highest setting until velvety smooth. I used my Froothie Optimum 9400 blender and as always, it did an amazing job here. Absolutely no "mushroom graininess" in this soup!

Return to the pot, add a couple gratings of fresh nutmeg (not too much, it can overpower!) and bring the soup back up to heat.

Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with bread of your choice, a nice 'fresh from the oven' French crusty bread with some vegan butter spread on is ideal :-)
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Source: adapted from this recipe.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 4 (small bowls)
Calories: 176
Protein: 3.9g
Fat: 12.7g
Sat Fat: 2.2g
Fibre: 1.3g
Carbs: 10.4g
Sugar: 2.9g
Sodium: 607mg

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliated links to Froothie UK, however all views expressed are my own.

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Monday, 1 December 2014

Ginger & Spice Cakies

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Yes! Cakies - kind of a cookie, kind of a cake...kind of a marriage made in heaven ;-) I was after a very soft cake like cookie with all the flavour of gingerbread and these hit the spot perfectly, especially with a little drizzle of vanilla glaze on them! They are also a great addition to the holiday baking season, now fervently upon us :-) 

I based the recipe on a recipe in my old childhood favourite cookie cook book, Scholastic's "The Cookie Book" - I've referenced it before on the blog, it was purchased about 1983 through my school and I do still use it! If anyone else in Canada remembers this book, do let me know :-)
In the book these were called "Molasses Cookies" and the name must have put me off as I never made them. They were descibed as soft and a quick read of the ingredients indicated this recipe was probably just what I was after, a big soft gingerbread spiced cookie.

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Naturally I made a few changes: omitted the egg altogether (and it wasn't missed), omitted the raisins, swapped the molasses for Golden Syrup and added a drizzle of vanilla glaze. Now, I love molasses but I was after a more delicate flavoured cookie here, molasses can sometimes overpower things I find. Plus, I already have a gingerbread recipe I absolutely adore and make every Christmas and didn't want something similar here. 

That being said, I know Golden Syrup is hard to find (if at all) for those in North America so molasses can be used instead. You will end up with a darker cookie with a different taste to these but I have no doubt they will still taste great :-

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Ginger & Spice Cakies:

-makes 15 cookies

1/4 cup / 50g vegan butter
1/4 cup / 60g golden caster sugar, granulated is fine too
1/4 cup / 90g Golden Syrup
1/4 cup / 60ml unsweetened soy milk
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup / 200g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2 - 3 tsp unsweetened dairy free milk (I used almond milk here)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Measure out the soy milk and add the vinegar. Give it a stir then set aside to curdle. In another bowl mix together the flour, salt and spices - set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until well mixed. Add the syrup and mix well. Add the baking soda to the milk and vinegar mixture and give it a stir, it should get a little foamy. Add this to the butter mixture and stir. WARNING: it will look like a disgusting curdled mess at this point but that's fine - it is actually what you are after :-)

Tip in the flour mixture and stir just until there is no more flour showing but do not over mix. You should have a soft dough, slightly more akin to thick cake batter than cookie dough.

Drop by heaped tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, about an inch apart. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 12 minutes. They should be lightly golden around the edges but still soft to the touch.

Let cool on the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to fully cool.

Glaze: mix together 2 tsp of the milk and the vanilla with the powdered sugar, stir until all the sugar is dissolved. If it is too thick add a bit more milk - I needed just another 1/8 tsp. You want the glaze thick but "drizzable"- let it fall down from the spoon and if it's falls in ribbons that's about right.

Keep the cookies on the wire rack but place a sheet of baking paper underneath and drizzle the glaze all over the cookies in a back and forth motion. Leave for about an hour for the glaze to set then they are ready!
Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Nutritional Information: based on 1 cookie out of 15

Calories: 121
Fat: 2.4g
Sat Fat: 0.5g
Protein: 1.5g
Carbs: 23.1g
Sugar: 8.0g
Fibre: 0.4g
Sodium: 72.9mg

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Smokey Vegetable Chowder

Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe
Well we are definitely into the season for warming soups and stews now! Cork has turned decidedly cooler and stormier lately which I love, autumn is easily my favourite season especially as I get to make warming comforting meals like this one :-) Rather shockingly, up until making this I had never had chowder before! I think it's probably because I grew up by the coast and chowder for us meant clam chowder and even when I ate meat and fish I drew the line at shellfish (too much like bugs, bleh! haha) So I was very excited about trying the clam chowder alternative of sweetcorn chowder. 
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe
Most sweetcorn chowders seemed to call for potato as well and a lot called for bacon. I went even further with the veg as I felt this was calling out for some carrot and also added leeks which are really nice here. To honour the bacon factor I added both smoked paprika and smoked sea salt which is what gives this it's smokey angle and a wonderful flavour.

When I first made this I made it as a Vegan Chicken and Sweetcorn Chowder. Same recipe as here but with some added vegan chicken pieces in there. It was really good but I just felt that the 'faux-ness' of the vegan chicken was letting down the veg so I decided to omit it and just let the veggies shine on their own here. That being said, go ahead and throw in some fried vegan chicken pieces or some chickpeas or beans for added protein if you like. Just reduce some of the veg to make room for them, or increase the broth.
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe

Smokey Vegetable Chowder:
~serves 2~

1 Tbsp vegan butter
80g sliced leeks ( 2/3 heaped cup)
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
500ml unsweetened almond milk ( 2 cups)
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder*
160g peeled and diced potato (1 cup)
80g peeled, sliced and halved carrot ( heaped 2/3 cup)
180g frozen sweetcorn ( 1 cup, heaped)

*As always I use Marigold Organic Vegan Bouillon Powder which has added turmeric which gives this a nice colour. If you are using a different brand bouillon powder then 1/8 tsp turmeric might be nice added to the milk. If you can buy a vegan chicken style stock where you are then I would recommend that.

Whisk the milk with the flour, stock powder, paprika and salt in a bowl or jug and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan then add the leeks, bay leaves and some freshly ground black pepper. Fry gently until just soft, 2-3 minutes should do. Pour in the milk mixture and add the carrots and potato. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potato is tender, and the broth has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir it now and again and don't worry if you see little white dots of flour or milk. It's not separating and as you can see by the photos it goes away by the end :-)

When there is 6 minutes left add the sweetcorn, turn the heat up to maximum to bring it back to a boil as the frozen corn will bring the temperature down. When it's at a boil again, reduce to a simmer. Check that the potato is tender then turn the heat off, take the lid off and let it sit for 5 minutes. This helps cool it down a bit and thickens the chowder a little more. Check the seasoning then remove the bay leaves and serve. 

This chowder is hearty enough on it's own but as with all soups, great with some crusty rolls or French bread.
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe

Nutritional Information: for 1 serving out of 2
Calories: 286
Protein: 7.8g
Fat: 10.7g
Sat Fat: 1.9g
Fibre: 6.7g
Carbs: 39.4g
Sugar: 6.3g
Sodium: 900mg

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
Like my previous post this is another variation on a recipe already on the blog. I have been making loads of different versions of the Cranberry Almond Tea Cake for quite awhile now but haven't gotten around to blogging them.

First, a couple summers ago (!) I made a Blackberry and Lemon version which was so good, and great for using up all those buckets of blackberries we always seem to get in August :-) Then I found myself with some pears that needed using up and made a Pear and Almond Loaf Cake, also wonderful and now, a blackberry and apple almond loaf cake.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
What I'm trying to say is: this recipe is VERY versatile ;-) You can basically put in any fruit or berries you like, I never add nuts but they would go nicely as well. A cinnamon, apple and pecan version sounds pretty tasty does a cherry and almond version or strawberry vanilla etc... etc... As long as you keep the cake recipe the same and the weight/measure of fruit about the same you can do what you like.

For this one I was given some apples, not sure what kind to be honest, I think they were a mixture of cooking apples and golden delicious and as they needed using up threw them in with some frozen berries I had. I kept the almond flavouring here as is in the Cranberry Loaf Cake as I simply love almond flavoured cakes, easily my favourite and it goes very well here.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake:

260g plain flour
120g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
180ml unsweetened almond milk
4 Tbsp cornstarch
110g vegan butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract
150g frozen blackberries
200g peeled and thinly sliced apple, toss in lemon juice to keep from browning

100g icing sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190 C and grease a loaf tin.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together the milk and cornstarch. Whisk in the almond extract then slowly whisk in the melted butter. Toss the fruit in with the flour mixture then pour over the liquid and fold with a rubber spatula until mixed. Be careful not to over mix.

Scrape into prepared tin, level off the top and bake for 45 minutes. It should be risen, golden brown on top and make sure a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf cake comes out clean. (I have pulled this out too early before and had a doughy centre!) Cool in tin 15 minutes then remove cake from the tin to fully cool on a wire rack. I like to place it on it's side to cool.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients until thick but just pourable, add more milk or icing sugar as need be then pour and spread on top letting some drizzle over the sides.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.

Blackberry & Lemon Version:

Swap the almond extract with lemon extract
Omit the apple, can increase blackberries to 200g if you like.
omit the almond extract
increase vanilla extract to 1/2 tsp
add the zest of 1 lemon

Pear & Almond Version:

Make as per the Blackberry, Apple and Almond cake but omit the blackberries, swap the apple with diced pear and increase to 200g.

Nutritional Information: (Blackberry, Apple and Almond version, per 100g)

Calories: 244
Protein: 2.8g
Fat: 7.4g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Fibre: 1.7g
Carbs: 41.7g
Sugar: 19.1g
Sodium: 250mg

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