Monday 31 August 2009

Plum Crisp

plum crisp

So as well as a plethora of zucchinis we were also kindly given a ton of plums - which we love but could not eat that many! So, I decided to make something with them and was thinking pie, crumble, cake, tart.....but decided on a simple crisp. I've used the recipe from my fantastic 1960's Canadian Purity Cookbook - love this book for basic baking and desserts! Now I kept the sugar levels the same as these plums tasted quite sweet but it did cook up a little tart, now, I like it that way - reminded me of rhubarb crisp, my fave, but you may want to adjust. With the sweet ice cream it was perfect though. Mine also went a little juicy due to the plums being so fresh, again I like it that way....

The topping is a basic recipe usable for all fruits. When growing up my mom always used this recipe when we had apple crisp (with apples from our tree) or more commonly, peach crisp with peaches from our tree - delicious! So feel free to swap whatever fruit you have an abundance of in here :)

Serves up to 8:
1000g plums, stoned, peeled and sliced thickly (you'll want about 800g prepared)
150g/1 cup plain flour
120g/1 cup rolled oats
125g/1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
115g/1/2 cup vegan margarine

Grease a large oven safe dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 190C. In a large bowl stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the margarine until mixture is crumbly - you may want to use your hands near the end. Take a quarter cup of this mixture and toss it gently with the plums then toss them into the dish. Spread the rest of the topping over top and even out. Pop in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes, the top should be golden and crisp and the filling bubbling up the sides a wee bit. Let cool about 10 minutes then serve warm with vegan vanilla ice cream.

*note- it's not part of the recipe but I had some flaked and ground almonds that needed using. I tossed the ground almonds in with the fruit and sprinkled some flaked over top, optional but it was nice. I think it was only about 20g ground almonds I used.*

Friday 28 August 2009

Crusty French Loaf

Crusty French Bread

Well I did promise the recipe for the crusty French loaf I used in the soup post below....and here it is! Recipe comes from Country Living Magazine but via Vegan Dad . I am so glad he posted it as well as it is a fantastic basic recipe. It comes out really nice and light with a proper crunchy good! The original recipe was for rolls but I just fancied a loaf so did that. Like Vegan Dad I'll also post the recipe here as I would like it for my own reference, plus I'll scale it down to make 2 loaves or 8 rolls and have converted to grams for us over here :)

Just a note on flour - I purchased a bag of this Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour awhile back, just for a laugh really.....but it really does make a great loaf of bread!

Makes 2 Loaves:
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
300ml warm water (make with 2 part cold and 1 part boiling)
455 - 525g strong bread flour
1/2 Tbsp salt (I may cut back a little on this next time)
1 Tbsp cornmeal (just for the baking sheet)

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand 5 minutes. *note - I followed the instructions for my yeast and whisked first, let sit 10 minutes until foamy all over, then whisked again.* Add 280g of the flour and the salt and beat with the paddle of an electric mixer or by hand till a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms - about 10 minutes. *note - mine never did 'pull away' - didn't seem to make a difference.* Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining 175g of flour and knead for another 5 minutes, or by hand for 10 minutes. Add more warm water or up to 70g of flour to form a soft elastic dough. I did mine by machine but still like to hand knead a few times to get a feel of it. I didn't need any extra water, only a bit of the 70g. Form into a ball.

Grease a warm large bowl and place the ball of dough in, turning to coat all sides. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. *note - mine was ready in 1.5hrs.* Punch the dough down, reform into a ball and place back in the bowl to rise again, in a warm place until doubled again, about 1.5 hours.

Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor or bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 230C. Do not skip the water as this is what gives your loaf the crusty crust! On a lightly floured surface, punch down and knead the dough a couple times. Form either into 8 rolls or 2 loaves. Place on a baking sheet that you have sprinkled with the cornmeal. Loosely cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Rub a little flour over the tops then cut a 1/4 inch deep slash on the top of the rolls, or along the length of your loaves. Please note they mean 1/4 inch deep - I had trouble slicing my soft dough the first time and ended up with this:

I aimed for cross slices but didn't cut deep enough, so for the second time I used a serrated knife and really slashed it - don't be timid with it :)

Bake for about 25 minutes, they will be a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then as with all freshly baked bread, it really is best then and there! Store for up to 2 days in airtight container or freeze up to 1 month.

For the soup toasts, I sliced this, spread vegan margarine on one side, pan grilled it to golden lines appeared then did the same on the other side. Great when this bread is a day old, and fantastic with soup :)

Curried Zucchini Soup

curried zucchini soupwith homemade crusty French bread, butter grilled...

More Zucchini!!!! We got 2 more or these big round zucchini's - such generous home growers! Again, I was thinking what to do with such a large quantity and of course thought of soup. I've based this one on my Carrot Curry Soup (still my fave!) and it turned out really well. I kept the quantities the same and as zucchini has more water this soup turned out a bit more liquidy. As I like my soups thick I quickly cooked up some potato and added that to the soup before blending and really liked the result.

Serving it up into the other round zucchini was just me being fancy ass but don't worry, nothing was wasted. I used the empty shell to make the same soup again the next day and froze the 4 quantities. Now we'll have summer fresh zucchini soup some time in the cool autumn - nice :)

Serves 4:
15g vegan margarine
1 large onion, diced
2 1/4 tsp mild curry powder (or use hot if you like)
1 litre veg stock, I made mine with 4 tsp marigold vegan stock granules
500g roughly chopped zucchini
1 medium potato, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice - optional

Melt the margarine then add the onion and fry till just soft. Add the curry powder and gently 'toast' for 1 minute. Add a splash of the veg stock to de-glaze then add the rest. Bring to the boil then add the potato and zucchini. Boil with the lid on for about 15 minutes or until veg is very soft. Let cool slightly then blitz in a blender in batches till very smooth. Return to the pan and season with salt and pepper. (I would add pepper but no salt as the stock I use is salty enough) If you feel it needs it, add the lemon juice, adds a little 'freshness'. Also if you feel it's too thick, or spicy or both you can both thin and tone it down with some reduced fat coconut milk.

Recipe for the Crusty French bread to follow......

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Spicy Ginger Tofu, Soba Noodle and Avocado Salad

Spicy Ginger Tofu, Soba Noodle and Avocado Salad

I absolutely love this salad, it's based on Heidi Swanson's Otsu salad and this is the 4th variation I've made! When I first made this I followed the recipe as is but didn't like the cucumber or spring onions with it too much. So the second time I just had it with avocado figuring it's cool creaminess would go so well with the spicy dressing. Then I had the idea of marinating tofu in the yummy dressing and found it to be the best tofu I have ever had - and I stand by that!

So this time I thought I would bring both of those dishes together and this is now perfection for me. Nice and spicy with the avocado providing just enough cooling and that marinated tofu - drool! Like last time the recipe for the dressing/marinade here makes a lot, more than you need for a couple salads but it keeps in the fridge nicely :)

Spicy Ginger Tofu, Soba Noodle and Avocado Salad

Spicy Ginger Tofu, Soba Noodle and Avocado Salad

Dressing and Marinade:
Zest of 1 lemon
35g of peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp caster sugar
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sesame oil

Grate the ginger finely and add to a bowl with the lemon zest. Whisk in the sesame and veg oils then slowly whisk in the lemon juice and rice vinegar. Whisk in the rest.

Soba Noodle Salad: serves 2
115g dry weight soba noodles
125g firm tofu
1 hass avocado, sliced or diced
2 tsp black sesame seeds, or regular sesame seeds lightly toasted.

Cut the tofu into 8 thin triangles, or whatever size you like and press in some paper towels to remove most of the excess water. Place in a shallow bowl then pour over the marinade and let sit for 15 minutes, flip them over once. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions then drain well and rinse under cold water until cool. Set aside to drain well. Heat up a non stick frying pan then add the tofu, there is no need to add oil as it's in the marinade. Fry until deep golden brown then flip over and repeat. Once golden on both sides take a small teaspoon of the marinade and spoon over each segment and let it sizzle away, it should get glossy and slightly caramelized around the edges. Toss the cold noodles with about 2 Tbsp of the dressing (whisk before measuring) and place on plates. Top with the sliced or diced avocado and tofu. Spoon about 1 Tbsp more dressing per plate over top the avocado and noodles then sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Place leftover dressing in the fridge for future use.

spicy soba noodle and avocado salad with pan grilled tofu
Another option is to pan grill the tofu like I've done here.
Source: Based on Heidi Swanson's Otsu Salad.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Vegan Danish Pastries

vegan Danish pastriesAh, my Danish Granny would be proud!

vegan Danish pastries
I have been wanting to try Danish pastry for awhile now, I do miss them now and again but figured it would be way too difficult or impossible, after all, the butter is rather necessary. I was also daunted by all that folding in of butter thinking it wouldn't really work with margarine as it's too soft. Anyway I was looking through my favorite baking book, "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book" by Beatrice Ojakangas and she had a 'quick method' Danish pastry. Instead of folding in cold butter you cut it in like you would a pie pastry and then just do a few folds after the first rise. This seemed to be a lot easier and I decided to use shortening in place of the margarine as it would be firmer and stay colder.

Well, they turned out fab! The texture isn't like traditional Danish pastry, of course not without butter and eggs, but equally delicious! These were my first attempts and I can't wait to try more styles. I got most of these ideas from the fantastic pastry baking blog Joe Pastry - it's seriously fantastic, with step by step photos on how to fold and shape everything. I just worked in the kitchen with my laptop open to his blog and worked away :) I'll post the pastry recipe here then instructions for the individual styles below.

Quick Method Vegan Danish Pastry:
255g plain flour (2 cups)
135g chilled shortening (3/4 cup)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast ( 1 package)
60ml warm water
60ml soy cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
20g egg replacer
50ml water

Measure 225g (1 3/4 cups) of the flour into a large bowl add the egg replacer and mix well. Set aside. Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Whisk in the cream, salt, sugar and extra water. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture roughly until about the size of kidney beans. Add the liquid to the dry and stir with a rubber spatula until just moist. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.

Measure out 30g ( 1/4 cup) of flour and dust the work surface. Take the dough out and using the extra flour gently form into an 8" square. Fold into 3rds like you would a business envelope, turn the other way and fold into 3rds again until you have a square again. Repeat this 3 times finishing with an 8" square, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30min or overnight.

Remove dough from fridge and cut in quarters, working with 1 quarter at a time roll the dough out 1/4" thick and cut this into quarters. Most of the shapes below start off from 1 square.

vegan cheese DanishThe Cheese Danish

56g tofutti cream cheese
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1/8tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 tsp cornflour

Mix all together well and chill. Next take 1 dough square and place a heaping teaspoon of the 'cheese' filling in the middle. Bring the 2 points together and seal, then the other 2 together and seal with some of the cheese filling. Place on a baking paper lined sheet and brush with the cornflour mixture, cover loosely with cling film and leave for about 1 hour at room temperature until a bit puffy. They won't double.

vegan sweet rollsClassic Sweet Roll

This one is the most complicated to form. You'll need some vanilla buttercream, I made a tiny batch of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World's vanilla buttercream. Using half your dough roll out to a rectangle 1/4" thick. Spread the buttercream over half and fold it over towards you. Cut 1/2" strips from this and slightly elongate the strips. Twist the strips up and then twirl them around in a circular shape. This is very hard to describe but Joe Pastry shows step by step photos for this. When formed place on a baking paper lined sheet, brush with the cornflour mixture, cover loosely with cling film and leave to get puffy, again, about an hour. When ready, make a little bigger hole in the centre and spoon in raspberry jam.

vegan pinwheelThe Pinwheel

Using one the dough squares cut lines in to the dough from the corners to almost the centre. Fold the cut points up to the centre and gently press down to seal, forming a star shape. Place on a baking paper lined sheet and brush with the cornflour mixture. Cover loosely with cling film and leave to get puffy for about an hour. When ready make an indent in the centre with the back of a spoon and then spoon in some raspberry jam.

vegan bear clawThe Bear Claw

This one was also featured in my Scandinavian Baking Book and is usually filled with an almond paste. As I already had too much on the go I just filled this one with chocolate chips but will certainly try the filling next time. Taking one of the dough squares place your filling down the centre in a strip. Roll the dough over sealing the end with some of the cornflour mixture. Cut 'toes' into the leftover dough and then bend the whole pastry back till it's curved. Brush with the cornflour mixture, cover loosely with cling film and place on a baking paper lined sheet to get puffy for about an hour. When ready to bake press almond slices into the 'toes'.

vegan maple pecan plaitMaple Pecan Plait

Now this one I may have to get back to you on as I haven't tried it yet and my filling was a complete test! When I try it I'll post the recipe if it was a success, if not - back to the kitchen for me:) Take half of a quarter of the dough and roll out 1/4" thick in a rectangular shape. cut slanting cuts into both sides of the rectangle leaving the centre plain. Spread the filling down the centre then take the strips and fold them over creating a braid. Brush with the cornflour mixture leave on a baking paper lined sheet, cover loosely with cling film and leave for about an hour until puffy. When ready to bake sprinkle with chopped pecans and if you have it, maple sugar.

**Edit - see comments for filling recipe!**

vegan pain au chocolateWell, it's kinda a Pain au Chocolat!

Yes, this was supposed to be a pain au chocolate. It doesn't look like one and the pastry isn't like one but it is very, very good in it's own right! I'll have to think up a new name for it, chocolate cigars maybe? Anyway, taking one of the dough squares lay chocolate chips down the centre and fold the top over, then the bottom then place seam side down on a baking paper lined sheet. Brush with the cornflour mixture, cover with cling film and leave for 1 hour to get puffy.

vegan cinnamon swirlsCinnamon Swirls

These ones I weren't too happy with, they taste great but they are really just like mini cinnamon buns, not like the cinnamon swirls I used to get from bakeries. For some reason mine stayed quite thick and didn't cook down. They still taste great of course, just wasn't what I was expecting! Using half of a quarter of the dough, brush with melted vegan margarine and sprinkle on dark brown sugar, some cinnamon and chopped pecans. Roll up towards you and cut into 4 slices. Tuck the end bit underneath and place on a baking paper lined sheet. Brush with the cornflour mixture cover loosely with cling film and leave to get puffy for about an hour.

vegan Danish envelopeThe Envelope

Yeah, that's supposed to be an envelope, not a cross!! It was my last piece of dough and didn't really turn out very well. I couldn't possibly describe how to form this one so have a look at Joe Pastry's website for the step by step instructions. When ready, place on a baking paper lined sheet and brush with the cornflour mixture, cover loosely with cling film and leave to get puffy for about 1 hour. When ready spoon raspberry jam in to the centre square and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Cornflour Mixture:
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Mix the cornstarch with a bit of water to make a paste. Add the rest of the water then pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil until it looks glassy. Let cool.

This is a great egg wash replacer courtesy of the PPK forums (thanks to cperry!)

Almond Icing Drizzle:
icing sugar
soy cream
almond extract

No quantities here, just add enough of icing sugar and soy cream until drizzly - you want it to run off a fork. Be careful not to add too much almond extract, you don't need much.

Apricot Jam Glaze:
100g apricot jam
20ml water

Stir together then heat up in the microwave - about 20 seconds. Push through a fine sieve and use warm.

**For all of the pastries, cook in a 190C oven for about 13 - 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and while still on the baking paper transfer to a wire rack. Brush generously with the warmed, sieved apricot jam then move directly to the wire rack to cool. When cool drizzle some with almond icing and sieve some icing sugar over some.**

Friday 21 August 2009

Pointed Cabbage and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Pan Fried Tofu

Pointed Cabbage and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Pan Fried Tofu

Well, I had a lot of cabbage left over from the Jamaican Veggie Patties - it only called for 1/4 cup shredded and had a look to find what to do with the rest. I added some shredded to a curry we had the other day - very nice, made a huge batch of coleslaw and still had some leftover! 

Then I saw this Gordon Ramsey recipe and had a fiddle with it. Replaced the prawns with tofu, oyster sauce with thick, sweet soy sauce and the egg noodles with soba, but really only because that's what I had on hand, use any noodles you like, or rice. I also wanted to try soba noodles warm as I've only used them in cold noodle salads before.

It turned out very nice, if not a little bland - I think this was down to large and therefore quite mild chillies, but will certainly make again whenever I have some cabbage in the house (and hotter chillies!). You can use any type of cabbage, I bought pointed as that's all that was available at the time, and found it very nice.

Pointed Cabbage and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Tofu
serves 1 generously

• 75g dry soba noodles
• 3/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
• 3/4 Tbsp peanut oil
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
• 80g mushrooms, sliced (I just used regular, use 4 shiitake if you have)
• 100g pointed cabbage, sliced thinly
• 1 Tbsp soy sauce
• 1/2 Tbsp sweet soy sauce
• 1/2 red chilli, sliced
• 1/4 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
• 50g pressed tofu, cut into whatever size you like
• 1/4 Tbsp rice vinegar
• 1 spring onion, finely chopped

Mix the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce and rice vinegar. Marinate the tofu for about 15 minutes, save the marinade. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu until golden on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside. Cook the noodles according to package instructions in salted water then run under cold water till cool and toss in the sesame oil. Set aside.

Heat the peanut oil and fry the ginger, garlic and chilli until lightly coloured at the edges. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes until soft and wilting. Add cabbage and a splash of water. Toss well then cover and steam for a few minutes until cabbage wilts. Add the noodles, marinade and tofu and stir fry until noodles are heated through and it all comes together, stir in spring onion and serve.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Bryant Terry's Jamaican Veggie Patties with Hot Pepper Sauce

Jamaican Veggie Pattieswhole with a simple side salad

Jamaican Veggie Pattiesopened and served with his 'Hot Pepper Sauce'

I finally got around to making something else from Bryant Terry's "Vegan Soul Kitchen". I am loving this book and wanted to make these patties right from the start. The second thing I made from it, the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, were unfortunately for me, a disaster. The balls formed together just fine but when I placed them in the coconut oil to fry they acted like little meteors burning through the earth's atmosphere, starting off large and completely disintegrating!! Sigh...don't know what I did wrong but it wasn't all a loss, the Hot Pepper Sauce that went with them turned out fantastic, I make it regularly now and slather it on everything - gorgeous!!!

Well, back to the patties - these turned out equally as fantastic and I will be making these quite often! The pastry is made with coconut butter (solidified coconut oil, I used extra-virgin organic) and turmeric and came out very flaky, gently infused with a taste of coconut and very yummy indeed:) The filling of carrots, potatoes, peas, corn and cabbage is nicely spiced with cinnamon, allspice, cayenne and cumin. Now I personally found them too hot to have with the hot pepper sauce so had vegan sour cream with mine, but the pepper sauce goes nice with it as well. Although you don't need any sauce/dip with these really.

Recipe for the Jamaican Patties reprinted with permission on Heidi Swanson's Blog , and the recipe for the Hot Pepper Sauce on Bryant Terry's Website . His website also has the recipe for the Black Eyed Pea Fritters which sadly did not turn out for me :( Note - he has changed his website and it's now gone.

Notes: The recipe on Heidi's site is the full version and makes 6 large patties, I halved it and made 3 the size you see. You can also make lots of mini ones for snacks/appetizers. I served mine with a simple cooling side salad of leaf, avocado and tomato in a lime vinaigrette. I also didn't have any lemon juice for the filling so used lime which went really well with the tropical flavours.

Recipe for the salad dressing I used:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, pureed
1/8 tsp salt
1 quick squeeze of 1/2 a lime
few grinds black pepper

Slowly whisk the vinegar into the olive oil until emulsified, then whisk in the rest.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Yotam Ottolenghi's Fiery Black Pepper Tofu

black pepper tofu

This dish was featured in The Guardian's "New Vegetarian" section back in October 2008. I immediately cut it out as it looked so good and filed it away to make some other time. Totally forgot about it until I was looking through my recipe file. He explains that the original recipe called for double the amount of chillies but that even this version was very hot and you may want to tone it down again.

Man, he wasn't kidding, it's not just hot it's 'Oh My God, I think I'm being cooked from the inside out hot'!!! So hot in fact that I couldn't finish mine....I was even getting the upper lip heat sweats and my mouth was burning for hours after. Shame as the flavours were wonderful and I loved the tofu prepared this way. So I will definitely be making this again, just with far less pepper. I don't think it was the chillies doing it as I only used 2 de-seeded which weren't very hot and I would normally use that amount for 2 people, but a tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns was just too much for me! **(I highly recommend making this with just a good grinding of black pepper and not measuring out so much.)

The original recipe is here but I'll post a scaled down version here that serves 2 people. I'll also post the original spice levels too as there are lots of people out there who can take their heat a lot more than I can :)

EDIT - I have re-blogged this one and toned down the heat levels - it's perfect now! 
Crispy Fried Tofu in Spicy Teriyaki Sauce
Please visit the new recipe, unless you like things lethally hot!!! :-)

Serves 2:
200g firm, fresh tofu (he recommends getting the fresh tofu that's set in a tub like in Asian Grocers as it has a silky light texture) I also lightly pressed mine.
Cornflour, to dust the tofu
Vegetable oil, for frying

15g vegan margarine
3 small shallots, sliced thinly
2 red chillies, thinly sliced (I de-seeded mine)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns, ground in pestle and mortar or spice grinder, coarse.**
1 1/2 tsp sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
4 spring onions, sliced thin and about 3cm long

Steamed rice to serve

Cut the tofu into 3cm x 2cm blocks and toss them in cornflour, shake off excess. Pour enough oil to come 1/2 cm up the sides of a large frying pan, I used my wok, and bring up to frying heat. Fry the tofu in batches until golden and with a thin crust. Transfer to paper towel to drain.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan then add the margarine. Once melted add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger and saute for about 10 - 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until shiny and soft. Add the soy sauces and sugar, stir, then add the pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute then stir through the spring onion. *I found there wasn't quite enough sauce with this, you may want to double the soy sauces and sugar*

Serve hot with plain steamed rice.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Perfect Vegan Scones!

vegan raisin scones

This recipe makes the most lightest, yummiest scones. It's based on the same one from my old blog which came from Joy of Baking . Now that called for 1 egg, butter and cream so I thought I would first try with no egg, shortening (veg fat) and rice milk instead. They turned out almost perfect, the only thing is they are so light and delicate they do crumble rather easily.

So the next time I made them I added some cornflour to help bind and that solved it perfectly! They stayed light and delicious but held together a lot better. Furthermore I love Joy of Baking's idea of dusting icing sugar on top and grilling them just until it caramelizes. It gives a sweet crunchy topping which is lovely :) I probably make these for breakfast every Saturday or Sunday - they are seriously the best scones, vegan or not, I've ever had!

Scones - makes 6

280g flour - 2 cups
2 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
50g caster sugar - 1/4 cup
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
80g cold shortening (vegetable fat) - 1/3 cup
1 tsp vanilla
150 - 180ml dairy free milk (180ml is 3/4 cup)
50g raisins (optional) - I no longer add these as my son is not keen!
icing sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 190C/ 380F. If using raisins, pour some boiling water over the raisins and let sit until their edges start to turn white. Drain and pat dry and set aside. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and whisk well. Add the fat and cut in with a pastry cutter until the mixture is like coarse crumbs.

Stir in the raisins (if using) then add the milk and vanilla - stir quickly with a fork until it just comes together - do not overmix! You may just need 150ml or the full 180ml, I find it depends on what type of milk I'm using. It should be moist but not sticky and initially will not come together into a ball. Bring the dough together with your hands and place on a lightly floured surface, turn over and shape into a 1 1/2" thick circle. Do NOT knead it or handle it too much or your scones will be tough. Cut into 6 triangles, separate and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. If not grilling the tops you can brush the tops now with some dairy free milk. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

For the optional topping: Turn the grill on and get the rack in the upper half of the oven. *Remove the baking paper from the sheet!!!* and sift a generous amount of icing sugar on top of the scones. Place under the grill until it just starts to bubble, melt and is golden. Watch constantly as it will burn fast. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then serve warm with vegan margarine and jam.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 plain scone out of 6

Calories: 352
Protein: 4.8g
Fat: 14g
Sat Fat: 5.5g
Fibre: 1.3g
Carbs: 50.8g
Sugar: 9.9g
Sodium: 106.9mg

Quick and Easy Vegan Fudgsicle

vegan fudgsicle
This was just an idea I wanted to test out. I do miss fudgsicles, which you can't even buy here vegan or not. British readers might not know what I'm on about but they are basically a rich chocolate ice cream on a stick, but not ice cream, more fudge like.... Anyway, I got wondering if Alpro's dark chocolate soya pudding (my fav) would freeze well and it does! This wasn't exactly like fudgsicles but was a nice cool chocolaty treat - perfect in the heat. Oh and dead easy, just spoon the pudding into popsicle moulds and freeze :)

Friday 14 August 2009

Mushroom Sesame Fried Rice

mushroom fried rice
Just a very simple, albeit yummy, mushroom fried rice recipe I made up to use up some mushrooms I had. Of course if you have shiitake's or other more exotic mushrooms go ahead and use them - I was limited to what I had in the house before a big shop! Also, I know the 'rule' in fried rice is to use leftover rice but I never understand that, it always turns out just fine for me cooking it up fresh for a dish and is much easier for planning reasons :)

Serves 1:
75g Thai rice (dry weight)
1/2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, diced
80g mushrooms, diced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
40g frozen petite pois
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 - 2 tsp lightly toasted sesame seeds

Rinse the rice under cold water and tip into a pot of boiling salted water. Stir, reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until just lightly golden. Remove and set aside. Heat the peanut oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, reduce heat slightly and cook stirring often until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have released liquid and reabsorbed. Stir in the peas for a few minutes.

By now the rice should be done so drain it well and add to the wok. Stir and add the soy sauce and spring onion. When heated through and a bit drier stir in the sesame oil and some of the seeds. Give it a quick stir then serve sprinkling more seeds on top.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart

chocolate frangelico mousse tart

the whole tart pre-sliced

OMG this turned out so well!!! It was a complete test, I saw this recipe on BBC Good Food and started to think of ways to veganize it. Really all that had to be exchanged was the whipping cream, but that is a pretty hard item to replace. I had tried Granovita's Soya Whipping Cream before but thought it was absolutely disgusting! However I was hoping that the dark chocolate and adding Frangelico would mask this yet still benefit from the texture of the 'whipping cream'. (Of course if you like this product this isn't an issue for you, but it wasn't my cup of tea!)

Well, when it first came all together I could still taste that odd 'beany' taste from the whipping cream but chucked it in the fridge to set hoping that it would mellow out. Thankfully it did, after chilling and flavours mingling there is no odd taste at all, just yumminess, AND it has a perfect mousse texture. So much so that next time I'm going to make this just as a mousse, without the cookie crust, in individual bowls - so yum!

the inside showing the texture

Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart:
200g vegan biscuits (cookies) I used Hob Nobs
50g vegan margarine
1 Tbsp (25g) golden syrup
200g dark vegan chocolate (I used Bourneville Baking Chunks)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Frangelico (Amaretto or Kahlua would be nice too!)
2 Tbsp icing sugar
200ml soya whipping 'cream' (see notes above)

First, the original recipe was a 'no-cook' one, this won't work with the base using margarine. Butter will harden up in the fridge, marg won't - so you need to bake the base.

Line a 12 x 36 cm rectangular tart tin (or 23 - 25 round flan tin) with foil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190C. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or by bashing with a rolling pin in a strong plastic bag until there are no large chunks. Melt the margarine with the golden syrup and stir into the crumbs with a fork. Press into the pan until even and up all the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When cool, make the filling. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at half power, stirring frequently. When melted set aside to cool slightly, it will need to be close to temperature to the cream which will be chilled. Otherwise the chocolate will seize. Pour the 'cream' into a large bowl and whisk well, adding the icing sugar half way through. It will get light and slightly airy but not like dairy cream does. Whip it well. When the chocolate is room temperature but still melted scrape it into the cream and immediately whisk it up fast, again, you don't want it to seize up. Gradually add the vanilla and frangelico, whisking as you go.

You should have a light moussy chocolaty concoction but like I mentioned before, don't worry if it tastes funny now from the soy cream. Spread it over the cookie crust, cover and chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

To serve, remove the tart from the pan by simply lifting the foil lining out. Remove the tart from the foil and place on a cutting board. Take a large knife and heat under hot water and cut into 10ths, or more or less if you like. I decorated with grated chocolate and some chocolate sauce, but raspberries and icing sugar would be nice too, or chopped hazelnuts.

Garlicky Grilled Avocado, Tomato, Red Onion and Basil Toasty

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Sandwich
I know this isn't very original, but it is so good, and after some consideration - certainly blogworthy! I do add some little changes - like garlic 'butter' and smoked sea salt which set it apart just a little bit :)

2 slices white bread
1 clove garlic, pureed
10g vegan margarine
1/2 avocado, sliced
plamil garlic mayo
tomato slices
20 - 30g mature cheddar cheezly or other vegan cheeze
fresh basil - lots, you want to cover it
red onion, sliced or shallots or regular onion, I've made it with all 3 - all good :)
fresh black pepper
smoked sea salt
more vegan margarine for frying

First mix the margarine with the garlic and spread on one side of the bread. Spread the other side with the mayo and top with a few grinds of black pepper. Top the buttered side with the avocado and tomato and grind some smoked sea salt over top. Top with the cheezly, red onion and basil then place the mayo slice of bread on top. Spread the top of the sandwich with margarine and place this side down on to the hot grill pan. Place something heavy on top and when golden with dark lines underneath, spread the top half with more margarine and carefully flip over. Again place something heavy on top and cook until golden and the cheeze melts a bit.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Minted Petite Pois and Potato Soup with 'Butter' Grilled Ciabatta Slices

Minted Petite Pois and Potato Soup with Butter Grilled Ciabatta

I know, I complain that it's too hot too cook then I go and make some soup.... well, the thing is I came back from holiday and found my rather large sack of potatoes desperately needing using up (I refuse to throw out food!) So found this recipe and thought it looked nice, plus figured the flavours of pea and mint made it more of a summery dish anyway.

Well, it turned out so good!!! A few of the comments on there from others mentioned it being bland so I did add a couple cloves of garlic as recommended and seasoned well. When I first tried it before adding the mint, it wasn't necessarily bland but it was lacking something. Then I added the mint. Oh my god, that completely brought all the flavours out and totally makes this soup. So do not do like others on there and omit the mint or replace it, seriously.... Man I'm bossy today :)

The ciabatta toasts went really nice with this too. Grilling makes the ciabatta nice and crisp so you can break it into your soup and have like croutons. Nice.

Minted Petite Pois and Potato Soup:

25g vegan margarine
1 large onion, diced
700g potatoes, peeled weight, cut into small dice (you will be reserving some so don't cut too big)
1 litre vegetable stock -I made mine with 4 tsp marigold vegan powder, not the low sodium one.
350g frozen petite pois (or regular frozen peas, that's just what I had)
2 large cloves garlic, pureed
good handful of fresh mint, chopped
lots of freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste, I don't add any extra as my stock powder is salty enough.

Heat the margarine in a large saucepan and fry the onion with a few grinds of black pepper until the onion is transparent and soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic until it's incorporated and not a big lump then add the potatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Add the peas when there is about 6 minutes left.

Use a slotted spoon to remove about a quarter of the veg and set aside. Blend the remaining soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pan. Add the salt, some more pepper and mint and taste, adjust the seasonings if need be. Add the reserved veg and heat through, you can add a splash more hot water if it is way too thick but note that this is a supposed to be thick soup.

Serves 4-6, we generally get 5 servings out of this.

Ciabatta Toasts:

1 ciabatta loaf or 2 ciabatta rolls, sliced about 1" thick
vegan margarine

Spread one side of the slices with the margarine. Place the slices on a hot grill pan and cook until golden with darker lines. Spread the other side, flip over and cook the other side the same.

Monday 10 August 2009

Irish Soda Bread

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

So yes, I'm back from holidays! We went to Ireland for a little while, a usual trip for us to visit family. Whenever we are in Ireland I absolutely love the brown soda bread which is almost always made with buttermilk. We were able to buy some that were dairy free and very good - I brought a couple loaves home and they are in the freezer :) However I always wanted to try my own replacing the buttermilk with soy yogurt as it should do the same function - an acidic, thick liquid that would react with the baking soda. 

Well it works brilliantly, this recipe is a very basic one which is what I wanted, today I made it white instead of brown as the boy won't eat brown bread :( I will however post both versions and will get back to you how the other fares - sorry about the cups measures for the other one, I'll adapt it when I make it. *edit* the brown was really good but I forgot to weigh the measurements!

White Soda Bread:

450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
350 - 412ml soy yogurt

Brown Soda Bread:

6 Cups wholemeal flour (preferably stoneground)
4 Cups plain white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 1/4 Cups soy yogurt

Instructions for both: whisk all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the centre and add almost all the yogurt. Using your hand mix it together until just moist but not sticky, add more yogurt if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and gently shape into a round, turning over once, about 1 1/2 - 2 " thick. Cut a large cross over the top and place on a paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 230C/450F for 15 minutes then reduce the oven to 200C/400F and bake for a further 30 minutes. It should be risen and crusty golden on top and should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Cool on a rack briefly, slice and serve. *note* when I made mine I halved the amount and thus it didn't take so long in the oven, just 15 minutes for the second bake, so keep an eye on it.

Source: Recipe is based on Darina Allen's from here and here .