Wednesday 25 February 2009

Cinnamon Toast Shortbread Cookies

cinnamon toast shortbread cookies
These were featured in the 2008 Canadian Living magazine holiday baking edition, which my mom sends me every year, and just looked soooo cute! I love cinnamon toast (which is simply a mixture of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled onto hot buttery toast, in case it's a uniquely North American thing) so just had to make these. The cookies themselves were already vegan as long as you replaced the butter with vegan margarine, no eggs even! They are very good too, I was surprised how little sugar went into the dough but it works, the icing counters that quite nicely.

I did change the icing recipe though. The original called for cooking butter until browned then mixing in the icing sugar, cinnamon and cream. I tried this with margarine but it turns out that margarine cooked this way ends up tasting like very old deep frying fat - it was not good, trust me! So I just whipped up a regular buttercream and added cinnamon to it - worked very well.

I can't find the recipe on their website so here it is, I'll post a cut in half version as the original made tons of cookies. Also, I ran out of plain flour so used self raising here, worked just fine.

Makes about 16 small cookies:

1/2 cup vegan margarine (110g)
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
2 Tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
135g plain flour (that's half of 1 3/4 cups)

Beat margarine and sugar together until smooth. Stir in cornstarch until smooth, stir in flour. Roll into a 9" long log, wrap in cling film and chill for at least half an hour. Flatten 3 sides of the log, leaving one side rounded then using chopsticks or similar press indents into 2 opposing sides of the log. (This is the recipe authors complicated way of saying, make the log look like a loaf of bread.) Wrap again in cling film and chill for at least another half hour. Preheat oven to a low 140C, slice dough into generous 1/4" slices and place on a paper lined baking sheet. You will have to touch up the slices to make sure they look like toast again as slicing can make the shapes a little wonky. Place 2" apart on the sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to fully cool.

Cinnamon Butter Cream:
3 Tbsp vegan margarine
2 cups icing sugar
1 - 2 Tbsp oat cream, or soy
1/8 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
tiny pinch of salt

Whisk all together till smooth, add more cream or icing sugar until soft spreadable consistency.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Hot Cross Buns

vegan hot cross buns

** 2012 - Edit: Easter is fast approaching and I will be trying these again soon without the egg replacer as I no longer bake with it and I'm sure these will work just fine without :-) Stay tuned!

Success! For a new variation without egg replacer I've now made Apple and Cinnamon Pull Apart Hot Cross Buns with Maple Icing!

Now I know you can buy what appear to be vegan hot cross buns in the grocery stores but I'm very picky about mine. I hate peel. Can't stand the stuff in my baked goods, and I much prefer icing piped into the cross over dough strips. So, after being tempted by all the hot cross buns in the shops decided to make my own. I used, as my mom does, the recipe from the brilliant Purity Foods Cookbook, a 1960's Canadian cookbook with fantastic bread and baking recipes in it. It did call for 1 egg which I used egg replacer but I really don't think it would be missed in this. The recipe was supposed to make 18 but I made 12 underestimating how much bigger they would get during the second rise and baking. So I made rather huge hot cross buns, but worse things have happened! They are delicious too, only have raisins and spiced with cinnamon and cloves with just a hint of sweet icing on top. I further borrowed an idea elsewhere to get the nice shiny glaze on them by brushing them with warmed, sieved apricot jam - worked brilliantly as they did come out much duller than what you see.

Makes 18 (normal sized buns)
3/4 cup (180ml) dairy free milk, I used rice
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup vegan margarine (55g)
1/2 cup sugar (118g)
20g egg replacer (this is probably omitable)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup raisins (80g)
2 - 2 1/4 cups more flour
apricot jam
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 - 2 Tbsp oat cream or soy
1/4 tsp vanilla

Heat the milk until just about simmering, pour into a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp sugar, stir till dissolved and set aside to cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile dissolve 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup warm water and sprinkle over the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, it should get nice and bubbly. Add this to the milk mixture and stir. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and whisk until very smooth (also add the egg replacer at this stage if using). Cover and let rise until light and bubbly in a warm place, about 45 minutes.

Cream together the margarine and sugar and add to the mixture with the salt, cinnamon, cloves, raisins and if using egg replacer about 50ml water. Then add another 2 - 2 1/4 cups flour working the last of it in with your hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until nice and elastic, adding more flour if needed. Shape into a smooth ball and place into a greased bowl. Cover with cling film and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour in a warm place.

Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface, cut into 2 equal pieces and shape into smooth balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Divide each ball of dough into 9 equal pieces and shape each into a slightly flattened bun. Arrange on lined baking sheets 2" apart. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. These last 2 risings do not have to be somewhere warm. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Brush each bun with diary free milk then slash the tops with a cross. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and sound hollow when tapped.

Let cool on wire racks then whisk together the icing sugar, oat cream and vanilla. Place into piping bag and pipe over the crevices. Leave to set, although you can still ice and eat these when they are warm, the icing doesn't melt too much!

Lemony Artichoke, Mushroom and Pine Nut Spaghetti

Well I've not been doing much cooking lately, been fighting a nasty cold instead. We had tons of filling leftover from the valentines ravioli but was in no condition to make more so thought it would be nice just tossed with some spaghetti. Made a really nice, light, easy dinner although some black olives would have been nice in this. While I found this too lemony in the ravioli it suited spaghetti really well. Recipe is in the valentines post below, just spoon some filling mixture over cooked pasta and stir well, about two tablespoons per person and top with loads of black pepper - it counters the lemon taste really well. If using the filling fresh you probably won't need any more liquid but I was using it chilled from the fridge and did need to add a splash of pasta cooking water until creamy.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Valentine's Dinner

vegan ravioliArtichoke Heart, Mushroom and Pine Nut filled Ravioli (heart shaped because vegans can be cheesy) with home made garlic bread.

Tiramisu Layer Cake

Decided to go with an Italian theme for Valentine's Dinner and try something with artichokes, as like the eggplant posts below, not something we have that often. I based the filling recipe on one I saw online but made quite a few changes. It was delicious even on it's own but way too lemony - so I will adjust that here and the pasta is the same recipe from my last ravioli post. It was very good as a filling but didn't really go with a tomato based sauce, both are quite acidic and the tomato flavour overpowered the more delicate flavours in the ravioli. It would be best kept simple, a 'cream' sauce or just some garlic olive oil drizzled over would be nice.

The 'tiramisu' isn't very traditional. I've seen recipes for vegan tiramisu's around but I'm really not that keen on vegan cream cheese except in Vegan Cupcakes take over the World's cream cheese frosting. So I thought I would try a standard vegan white cake, bake it twice to dry it out, soak it with a Kahlua and espresso mixture then frost it with the cream cheese frosting. I was worried this might get too sweet and rich, and, well - it is. It was delicious but has a bit too much frosting and not enough cake so I would adjust that next time. Also, due to it's richness it needs to be cut much smaller than the usual size square of tiramisu. Otherwise a success, just needs some tweaking.

Pasta recipe is here but half would do for 2 people.

Artichoke, Mushroom and Pine Nut filling:
88g mushrooms, sliced
50g shallots, chopped
100g marinated chargrilled artichoke hearts, chopped*
30g vegan margarine
4fl oz white wine
1 tsp olive oil
25g toasted pine nuts
1/2 tsp chopped fresh lemon thyme (or regular)
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp salt
black pepper

Fry the shallots in the oil until soft. Add the artichokes, mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper. Fry until mushrooms are soft and it is dry. Deglaze with the white wine then add the margarine, lemon and thyme then season to taste. Cook over medium high heat and reduce till there is no more liquid. The margarine may separate a bit but that's ok. Tip all of this into a food processor with the pine nuts and whiz until smooth. Set aside.

Roll 1 segment of the dough out till very thin on a floured surface - set aside. Roll out another sheet about the same size. Using whatever cookie cutter you like gently mark the dough without cutting through. Spoon some of the mixture on this leaving the edges bare:

With your finger wet the plain edges of the ravioli with water then place the other sheet of dough over top making sure to get out all air bubbles before pressing down around the edges to seal:

Then using the same cutter you marked the dough with cut around the mound all the way through.

Set these aside on a floured plate then re-roll the scraps and continue. Boil 4 at a time for about 5 minutes (they will rise to the surface) in salted, slightly olive oiled water. How many you need for a main meal depends on the size of your cutter, these were quite large and 4 per person was sufficient (with the garlic bread).

*a lot of artichoke antipasti in jars have lactic acid, which may or may not be vegan. For those of you in the UK I used Waitrose cook ingredients Apulian grilled artichokes in olive oil. No lactic acid and marked 'vegan' on their website.

Garlic Bread:
I just used my previous recipe but used a par baked baguette, slice it diagonally (not all the way through) along the top of the entire baguette. Spread the 'butter' in between each slice and spread some more over the whole top, wrap it in foil and bake for 10 minutes in 200C oven. Unwrap the foil and baked again a few minutes more or until golden.

Sorry, but all recipes came from current cookbooks. Used 'My Sweet Vegan's' cake recipe from her green tea tiramisu, Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World's cream cheese frosting and soaking liquid from the tiramisu cupcakes. For the cake though, after cooking, cooling and slicing in half, I put them back in a very low oven (150C )for about an hour to dry out. I wanted them to get more ladyfinger like to soak up as much of the espresso/Kahlua mixture as possible. It worked really well, too well maybe as I could have done with more soaking mixture! Serve small as it's so rich, you could get 12 servings from an 8x8 inch pan.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Sticky Pecan Buns

vegan sticky bunsright side up

the bottom side (just so you can see that they are cinnamon rolls under all that sticky toffee sauce!)

I saw this recipe for sticky buns, which were cinnamon rolls baked in a tray of sticky toffee sauce with pecans and had to try it. The bun recipe wasn't vegan so just used my cinnamon roll recipe but doubled it to fit the whole tray. The filling and topping ingredients were vegan anyway. They turned out fantastic, was quite worried when it came to getting them out as you turn the whole pan over but they all came out together with almost all the sauce and pecans. Altogether easy and delicious!

For the buns, sorry but I've got a nasty cold and have no energy so I'm redirecting you to my link above for the cinnamon buns - just double it.

2 Tbsp/ 35g vegan margarine
3/4 cup/ 75g chopped pecans
1/4 cup/45g packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup/170g packed brown sugar
1/2 cup/ 115g vegan margarine
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup/ 112g whole pecans

After the first rising of the dough, punch down and roll out on a floured surface into a 15" x 10" rectangle. Spread with the margarine then after mixing the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle all over. Starting at the long side, roll up tightly, pinching the seams to seal. Cut into 15 pieces.

For the topping, bring the brown sugar and margarine to a boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly - you may have to whisk at one point. Remove from heat and stir in the corn syrup. Pour into a 13" x 9" non-stick pan.

Place the rolls in the pan in 5 x 3 rows, lightly cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350/180C and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Leave in the pan for 3 minutes then on a wire rack lined with baking paper carefully turn the pan over onto it and tap the bottom a few times. It should all just come out easily. I also ran a plastic spatula around the edges first to make sure.

Leave to cool although they are best still warm with a cup of coffee. Also, it may be a good idea to separate these while still warm, might get a bit sticky later. For the next day they are best heated up in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Monday 9 February 2009

Eggplant Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

eggplant potato moussaka with pine nut cream
So, yet another entry from Veganomicon! I still had some eggplant and silken tofu leftover from the Veganniversary on friday and saw this in the cookbook. I had a quick look online to see what others thought and everyone seemed to love it - rightfully so, it's delicious....BUT, as a few bloggers have noted the quantities of eggplant and potato are seriously out of whack! Even knowing this beforehand and cooking up extra potato and eggplant I didn't have enough to do two layers, hence my vertically challenged moussaka you see here....

Anyway, it didn't impede the flavour at all and the dish is lovely - the cinnamon in the tomato sauce is a nice addition and that pine nut cream will certainly be used in other dishes as well, it's fantastic. The recipe has been re-printed with permission on Vegan Peace HERE , just make sure you at least double the quantities of eggplant and potato!

Furthermore I don't know why I took a picture where you can't see the layers, must be cooking exhaustion! The sprinkles you see on top is some of Veganomicon's 'almesan' that I had leftover from the eggplant rollatini - it went really nice with this.

Saturday 7 February 2009

A Veganomicon Veganniversary!!!!

eggplant rollatini Eggplant Rollatini with Tofu Basil 'Ricotta', Toasted Pine Nuts, Spinach and Olive Marinara Sauce over spaghetti.

In the pan post fried and rolled but before baked, some of these are breaded with panko and some with paxo breadcrumbs - I couldn't decide which to use but felt the paxo being finer worked better with these.

So yes! It was our 1 year veganniversary on vriday (sorry, couldn't resist!) and I decided to make a big deal out of it and prepare an entire meal straight out of 'Veganomicon' (which has yet to fail me - amazing cookbook - buy it!). Normally I would make small changes here and there but this time I followed everything to a T and made everything by scratch (well, bar the spaghetti!). The eggplant rollatini is thinly sliced eggplant, breaded and fried in olive oil then rolled up with spinach, toasted pine nuts and their tofu basil ricotta - which is amazing! The breading mixture is also flavoured with their 'almesan' - a very tasty parmesan type recipe. They recommended the marinara sauce in the cookbook but specifically the olive variation one which has chopped black olives added to the sauce. As for what to serve it with they recommended just some steamed broccoli to keep it light or some spaghetti with more sauce for a bigger meal - clearly, we did the latter!

It was amazing! We have been very anti-eggplant in the past having had it only a couple times in restaurants clearly poorly prepared. As a result I have never actually bought any myself, or cooked with it. It was a wedding we went to in the summer where our vegan meals contained eggplant rolls, cooked properly, that we realized what we were missing out on. So glad I tried this as it's great for fancy dinners and I can now safely say I love eggplant! Out of the whole recipe, the only thing I would change next time is to add a tiny bit of sugar in the sauce just to take the acidic edge off as it was quite sharp. Otherwise, everything was perfect.

smlove pie
Their uber rich and delicious 'Smlove Pie' for dessert...

It's a chocolate amaretto pie in a digestive crust with a peanut butter caramel and maple candied pecans drizzled with a chocolate ganache...

And for dessert.....this was amazing, I guess it's somewhat of a turtle pie... The tofu base originally called for frangelico which is hard to find in this country for some reason, looks like Waitrose sells it but there's not one near me. I had amaretto though so used that - it was still delicious, in fact I could easily eat that filling before it got baked. I had a small problem with my crust though - it was too small for my dish which is a very large 10 inch pie plate. The filling went up over the sides while baking then there wasn't much room for the caramel etc... Not a big deal, just ascetics...

The caramel is particularly good, as are those maple candied pecans! I will definitely be making those again just to snack on, I wasn't sure there was going to be any left for the pie as I couldn't stop eating them.... so good!

No recipe for the main as it's from a cookbook, but Isa herself has posted the recipe for the lovely pie on her blog HERE !

Monday 2 February 2009


I have never made gyoza before, or even worked with dumpling wrappers so had to give these a go as I do absolutely love them. They were so easy to make and work with, I was a bit confused as to how to cook them, methods online talk about just boiling, boiling then frying, steaming, frying then half boiling/steaming, or just frying! I decided to go with the pan frying then adding some water and steaming them as it seemed to be the norm. While I loved them this way, K wasn't as keen on the texture of the wrappers so will try just frying them next time for him.

For the filling I just went with some soya mince flavoured with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce with lots of spring onion, aiming for the ground pork style filling. I didn't have any cabbage to add so used some shredded brussel sprouts - yes, brussel sprouts - I love improvising! They are part of the whole cabbage family, so not too crazy.

Regardless, they turned out really, really yummy, will be making these often and can't wait to try other fillings, like lots of finely chopped veg and little tofu cubes. For the dipping sauce, I improvised again as I didn't have any chili oil which seems to be traditional so it's a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce with vinegar and prepared English mustard with some finely chopped spring onion. It went really well with the gyoza but I also loved them with some Thai sweet chili sauce.

Makes about 10 gyoza:
10 fresh dumpling wrappers
1 tsp sesame oil
20g shredded cabbage or sprouts
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
ginger, finely chopped, about the same amount as the garlic
60g fresh or frozen soya mince
1 Tbsp soy sauce
50ml water
1 large spring onion, finely chopped
black pepper
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup water

Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan and add the ginger, garlic, cabbage, black pepper and soya mince. Fry for a few minutes then add the soy and water. Stir well until the water evaporates and it's not too wet. Turn off heat and set aside. Take a dumpling wrapper and moisten the edges, place a small teaspoon in the centre then seal up pleating the edges, make sure they are well sealed. I was probably a bit too conservative here and could have gotten more filling in. Repeat until all the filling is used up. Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan that you can fit a lid onto. Place the gyoza in and fry until golden on all 3 sides, starting with the bottom. Place them back right side up then carefully add the water, if there is too much oil left remove this first so it doesn't splatter too much. Put the lid on and steam, shaking the pan now and again, until all the water evaporates. Serve with dipping sauce and some finely sliced spring onion for decoration.

Dipping sauce:
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp chili sauce
1/8 tsp prepared English mustard

Whisk all together well until no lumps remain then add some sliced spring onion.