Monday 28 September 2009

Vegan Cream Puffs!!!

Vegan Cream Puffs Choux PastryWith a coconut fondant filling and chocolate glaze.

Wahey!!! Ok, these new egg replacers are turning out great!! Really didn't think choux pastry could be veganized but these turned out really well. I have fond memories of both cream puffs and eclairs. My Danish grandmother used to make them now and again and it was always such a treat, remember running over to house whenever she would make them, as did half the kids in the neighbourhood! Now, I have never made choux pastry before, even before being vegan so when I say this was an experiment - I mean it :) I also haven't eaten cream puffs for years so I can't really say how close this is, I feel it's pretty damn accurate. What I do know is they are absolutely delicious!!!

For the filling, if I wasn't off the soy I would have just bought a can of soyatoo spray cream, stuck the nozzle in and given it a squirt! However being off the soy made the question of what to fill these with a little more difficult. I decided on the filling I used for the Bounty Bars but made it floppier and not as stiff. I thought a coconuty filling would be nice and it's almost as much fun freaking people out that it's made with mashed potato as it is telling some omnivores their dessert is made with tofu ;)

It definitely worked out well, the coconut filling is very yum in there, with the pastry and the chocolate on top it reminds me a bit of what deep fried bounty bars might taste like (as I don't have a clue, honest!) Just a note on the dough, it is a lot stiffer and heavier than what choux dough should be. I was unable to drop with a spoon and swirl the tops, instead having to roll them into balls with my hand. As they don't puff up like choux (of course they won't without 7 eggs!) you have to pull out some of the soft filling. What you are left with though is very similar and does the job nicely:)

Choux Pastry: (makes about 7 smallish cream puffs)

1/4 cup vegan margarine (50g)
1/2 cup boiling water (4 fl oz)
1/2 cup plain flour (75g)
1/8 tsp salt
----2 "eggs"----
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp potato starch (for those in UK -available at any tesco, simple!)
1/4 tsp baking powder (I may experiment next with doubling this)
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
100ml water
2 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. First make your "eggs" by whisking the dry ingredients together then whisking in the water until smooth, then the oil. Whisk again until slightly frothy. Bring the margarine and boiling water to a boil in a saucepan until margarine is all melted. Add the flour and salt all at once. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball that cleans the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk up your "eggs" again and add half to the dough, mix very well, until smooth and glossy. Repeat with the remaining liquid. Take blobs of the dough and shape into even size balls. Place on the baking sheet spread apart and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. They should be golden and crisp on the outside.

After baking.

Once they have cooled, carefully split them open with a serrated knife and pull out the gooey centre, leaving the crisp shells. Next time I may pop them back in to the oven at this stage to help dry out the inside, but they were perfectly fine this way.

(after cooling and insides pulled out, toothpicks in just to show you the inside)

Now for the filling, again, if you are fine with soy you may just want to fill these with soyatoo spray cream. Here is my recipe for the coconut fondant I filled these with:

Coconut Fondant:
2 Tbsp cold, unsalted mashed potato
1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (20g)
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

Cook the peeled potato in unsalted water until ready to mash. Drain and return to the pan to dry out a couple of minutes. Mash well then push it through a fine sieve until there are no lumps at all. Let cool and measure out 2 Tbsp. Place this in a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of icing sugar. The starch from the potato reacting with the sugar will turn the mixture to liquid. Add the vanilla then keep adding the icing sugar until the mixture turns white and fondanty. Stir in the coconut - you should have a thick but slightly floppy mixture, think of the thickness of pastry cream....

Once the puffs are cool fill with the coconut mixture, about 1 Tbsp per puff.

Puffs filled.

Chocolate Glaze:
75g dark vegan chocolate
1 tsp virgin coconut oil in solid state - this works so well here, if you don't have it just use vegetable oil

Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool just enough that it's thick enough to spoon over without it running down the sides of the puffs. Spoon over each one, spreading it out a bit and leave to set!

Vegan Cream PuffsFin!

Vegan Yorkshire Pudding

vegan Yorkshire PuddingServed with 'Veganomicon's infamous 'Chickpea Cutlets', mashed potato, steamed veg and a mushroom gravy.

Vegan Yorkshire Pudding
I was going to post this a Sunday roast but really it's the Yorkshire puddings that I'm focusing on here! I have tried a few of these before, I can get them to rise a bit but something was always not quite right. I'm very happy with these ones though, only problem is their bottoms didn't get fully cooked, they are a little gummy there. I didn't mind it though and as they don't contain any egg - not a health problem ;)

I based this one on my mom's popover recipe, popovers are an American thing (mommy's American :)) but very similar to Yorkshire puddings. I guess the only thing is they rise even better than Yorkshire's so thought they would fare well veganizing. I swapped the eggs with this new egg replacer I've been enjoying using xanthan gum and replaced the water with sparkling water. I find the taste very similar AND the texture, minus the bases not fully cooking. I think I can get around that by cooking longer at a lower temp perhaps.....I'll mess around with them I'm sure but at this stage I'm very happy with these!! Always loved popovers/Yorkshire puds and am so glad to have a replacement :) :)

I also absolutely love the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, I know they are all over the vegan blogging sphere and rightfully so! They do call for vital wheat gluten which is very hard to find here. I had a box of harvest direct seitan mix and used that. It's not straight vital wheat gluten but a mix however it works just fine in the recipe.

Yorkshire Puddings - makes 8
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp oil (I used peanut, veg should be fine)
just under 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup rice milk (180ml)
1/4 cup sparkling water (60ml)
1 Tbsp vegan margarine, melted
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp flour (120g)
1/2 tsp salt
more oil for the muffin tin

Place 1/2 tsp of oil into each of the 8 muffin tin holes and place the tin in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375F/180C to get the oil hot. Next make your 'eggs', in a large bowl whisk together the cornstarch, potato starch, xanthan gum and baking powder. Add the water and whisk well until no more lumps (there may be a few, that's ok). Add the oil and whisk well again until slightly frothy. Whisk in the rice milk and sparkling water until well incorporated. While whisking pour in the melted margarine in a steady stream until all added. Add the flour and salt and whisk until combined but lumpy. Remove the pan from the preheated oven and pour the mixture in until almost full. Pop back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove and slice the tops and slightly open then bake for another 20 minutes. Check after they have had 1/2 hour but they may need longer for the bottoms to fully cook. Let cool slightly in pan then remove and serve with lots of vegan gravy of your choice!

Mushroom Gravy:
15g vegan margarine
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
60g button mushrooms, finely sliced
15g plain flour
1/4 litre veg stock, I made mine with 1 oxo veg cube
some fresh thyme, a few strands - optional

Melt the marg in a saucepan and fry the onion gently until golden, add some black pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and fresh thyme and fry for a couple minutes until they start to sweat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute on low heat. Slowly start adding the hot stock, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Keep going until all added then turn the heat up and cook until thickened. Remove the thyme and serve.

Source for the egg replacers .

Sunday 27 September 2009

Banana Pecan Cake with Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl

Banana Pecan Cake with Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl

Sometimes a complete experiment turns out something altogether new. This cake for instance, I wanted to make some banana blondies then thought the peanut butter caramel from Veganomicon's 'Smlove Pie' swirled throughout would be yummy. I envisioned banana flavoured blondies, brownie like not too cakey with yummy caramel swirled I went creating what I thought was a cookie recipe but ended up with banana cake.

It is however one of the best banana cakes I've had, so not a total loss! As for the caramel.....I placed dollops of the caramel over the dough then swirled it in with a knife and baked it. It was very resistant to swirling in and stayed at the top. This resulted in it getting baked and losing the 'caramely'-ness I wanted it to have. But, again, it's still good! You get the taste of the peanut butter caramel on top, slightly crunchy which is nice. Oh, I also placed this in a much too small of tin - should have used a 9 x 13" pan not the 8" pan I did - hence the height of it :)

So, it's not what I went about making but still decided to blog it as it's good and I may still return to this - back to the drawing board!!

Makes about 16 squares:
115g vegan margarine
175g caster sugar
310g very ripe bananas, mashed well (about 3)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/8tsp salt
50g chopped pecans

Peanut Butter Caramel:
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp natural peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown rice syrup

Prepare your pan and preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the margarine, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix together the flour and salt and set aside. Mix the bananas and baking soda together and let sit a couple minutes. Stir this into the margarine mixture - it will go curdly, that's ok. Fold in the flour until it just comes together, fold in pecans. Spread into pan and even out the top.

For the caramel, place everything into a saucepan and heat up, stirring all the time until it is thick and falls like ribbons off a fork. Place dollops over the cake and swirl with a knife. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan but it is nice warm too.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Banana French Toast and Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from 'Vegan Brunch'

Vegan Brunch"Banana Rabanada" or (Brazilian French Toast)

This definitely falls into the category of 'I can't believe I didn't think up this!' - using bananas to make a french toast 'dip' - brilliant! I do love my French Toast recipe but as I have mentioned I'm cutting soy out of my diet. Long story short - I think excess amounts have been making my lupus flare up and just want to try without for awhile. So I was very excited to see this soy free recipe in there.

It's absolutely delicious too, the first time I made it I followed the recipe and dusted cocoa powder and cinnamon over top but wasn't too sure. This time I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the liquid and omitted the cocoa. Personally I preferred it that way.... once cooked I spread with vegan marg and lots of maple syrup. Only thing I found was that they stick to the pan quite badly. I used a non-stick pan and greased it but they still stuck. Would be interested to hear if anyone else has this problem! Still, it's worth it and I'll definitely be making this again :)

vegan brunch"Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins"

And another hit! These were so good, really, really lemony - like a good lemon poppy seed muffin should be. They came out so light in texture too - perfect! I really thought the amount of baking powder was going to be too much but it's fine. We all loved these, Finn having his after school everyday :)

So, just a couple tests from the cookbook for now, I have loads more bookmarked to try and will add to this post when I do. So far love everything!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Sesame Bagels with Cashew Chive Spread

vegan sesame bagels"Why Miss Maple Spice, I do believe you've made the world's biggest bagels!"

Toasted bagel with Cashew Chive Cheese SpreadToasted and spread with vegan margarine and the super yummy cashew chive cheese.

Yes, I made some comically large bagels!!! Why I always miss-judge how much these things rise is beyond me..... Anyway, these turned out lovely, even the largest ones there are light as feathers and with just enough chewiness to make them 'proper'.... I did live in Montreal for a couple of years, prior to being vegan, consuming vast amount of bagels and feel quite qualified to use the term 'proper' here ;) Despite store bought bagels here already being vegan I think I'll be making my own from now on!

I'm even more excited about that cheese spread, it is so, so good!! We currently can't get enough of it, I like it way more than any store bought vegan cheese I have ever bought and it's so easy. The recipe is also very versatile, I have made it with both cashews and almonds, rice and almond milk..... all good, hardly any difference. Next I'm going to try it without the miso to make it soy free, maybe just omitting, maybe replacing with some tahini. Love it!

Bagels - makes 6 (I made 4 out of it, but they really are too big)
250g strong white bread flour (must be this type, the higher protein count the better)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 Tbsp sugar, brown sugar or barley malt syrup (I used regular sugar)
1 tsp vegetable oil
125ml warm water, make up with 1 part boiling and 2 parts cold
2 Tbsp barley malt syrup (for the poaching liquid)

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and give it a whisk. Leave for 10 minutes, it should have a couple cm thick foam over the surface. Give it another whisk then add the sugar and oil and whisk again. In the bowl of your electric mixer add the flour and salt. Pour in the liquid then with the dough hook knead the dough on slow speed for a good 10 minutes. When done knead a couple times by hand to get a nice ball shape then place in a greased heated bowl, turn over to coat and cover with cling film. Place in a warm place free of drafts for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down a few times then give it a good knead. Now roll into a log and cut out your 6 pieces. Take each piece and shape into bagels - either by poking a hole through the middle and stretching out, or by make a rope and sealing the ends together, I did both and preferred the latter. Place these on a greased baking sheet, cover with cling film that's raised slightly and place in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 250C or the hottest your oven will go and put a large pot of water on. When the water boils add the malt syrup and stir well until melted. Drop the bagels into the boiling water 2 at a time cooking for 2 minutes on one side and for 1 minute on the other. Scoop out draining the excess water and place back on the greased sheet. Keep the boiled ones covered with cling film while you cook the rest. When all done sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 10 - 15 minutes. They should be golden but really, really light :) Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

sliced open prior to toasting to show texture...

Cashew Chive Cheese Spread:
*note - this is a scaled down version, good for trying the first time. Also, the original recipe called for agar flakes, I only had powdered so used that. It set nicely for a cream cheese but didn't set hard to be able to grate. If you want a hard cheese you'll need to experiment with the levels of agar - I suggest you follow the original recipe for that :)*

35g finely ground raw cashews or almonds (2 1/2Tbsp)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
105ml rice milk (or any dairy free milk)
1 1/4 tsp agar powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 Tbsp sweet white miso paste
3/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
fresh chives, chopped finely

If using already ground nuts, just mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a small saucepan heat the milk, agar and oil until it comes to a boil. Cover and simmer until thickened and the agar is dissolved. This doesn't take long using the powder, if using flakes, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly add to the nut mixture, whisking all the while, when all added give it a good whisk until nice and creamy, then add the miso and lemon juice and whisk again. Stir in the chives then place in a dish, cover and chill.

Cashew Chive Cheese Spread
Bagel recipe is based on Nigella Lawson's from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess'
Cheese recipe is based on Ann Gentry's on Heidi's blog .

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Cooking"

So any of you who were concerned that I had to make my own birthday cake, don't worry - I was well spoiled this year! Vegan leather jacket and boots, tickets to Nick Cave AND 2 new cookbooks - Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Cooking" and finally, "Vegan Brunch".

Well, regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Heidi's website, 101 Cookbooks, having made several dishes from there and loving every one. Truthfully, I've made way more too, but couldn't blog them all risking this site turning into a copy! I've wanted her cookbook for ages and am so glad I finally got it. Lots of recipes in here that are not on her website and the whole book is simply gorgeous! It is vegetarian, not vegan but it really does not matter. Most things are vegan or very easily vegan adaptable, ie -just don't put the parm on top! Only in the back where there are baking recipes is it more tricky but us vegan's can easily move around that :)

I immediately got started making anything that appealed to me in this book and have LOVED everything. It's all so healthy and natural too, no faux anything and I direction I will enjoy going. I will post a few pictures of things that I have made with any notes on changes etc. but no recipes here as they are from a cookbook (sorry!) but really, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans"Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans"

This is one of those dishes that might not look too pretty but OMG what it lacks in photogenics it makes up for in taste! I got this book not even a week ago and have made this 3 times already. It's hands down one of our favorite meals. I used dried cannellini beans which are, after soaking and cooked with onions, garlic and fresh thyme, pan fried till crispy on the outside and soft and creamy in the middle. I added fried portabello mushrooms and more fresh thyme, felt it was calling out for mushrooms! Her recipe called for swiss chard but I used kale as I almost always have that in the house. It is so, so good, I like to salt this one until just about 'too much' - naughty but works well :)

Spring Minestrone with brown rice"Spring Minestrone with brown rice"

I have a confession to make - I've never made my own vegetable stock. Shocking I know, well, until now that is! This recipe, also featured on the cover, called for homemade veg stock, I immediately thought, well, I'll just use marigold, but when I read her version only took 1/2 hour and looked dead easy thought I would use it. Well, it's not only easy but sooo good, and so much healthier than others having about like half the sodium. This was delicious, really fresh and light (although hearty!) and I will make it again and again. The stock has proved invaluable in my fridge as well, so handy to throw into this and that, in fact I added some to the bean dish above last night to help with dryness.

Peanut Butter Krispie Treats"Peanut Butter Krispie Treats"

You gotta love a healthy treat - I have always loved rice krispie squares, the traditional ones with marshmallow but these were just as good. The ingredients are simply organic brown rice cereal, natural peanut butter, maple syrup and agar agar. I will make these again for sure, in the photo there you'll see some with chopped pistachios on top. She recently featured this recipe on her website and added the pistachios, I wasn't sure so made them all plain and just added some on top to taste. Well, both my husband and I loved them in there and next time I will definitly add them throughout the squares.

Recipe is here .

Big Curry Noodle Pot"Big Curry Noodle Pot"

Now really I've probably made so many changes to this one I could morally post the recipe but as all the taste is in the broth (which I haven't changed) I won't. Loved this, originally it called for tofu, which I love but am cutting soy out of my diet, plus my husband hates tofu so it works well for us. Changed that with chick peas as they always go nice in curries. Once you have cooked onion and chickpeas, or tofu, in the creamy turmeric curry coconut milk sauce you stir in the brown rice udon noodles and top it all off with peanuts, cilantro and shallots. Now I hate cilantro so added parsley the first time which didn't go, husband loved the peanuts and shallots but I wasn't too keen on the texture of having peanuts in a soup. So this time I omitted all that and stirred in some baby spinach until just wilted. Loved that in there!

Altogether have loved everything I have made in this book and can't wait to have a crack at 'Vegan Brunch'!!!!!

Thursday 10 September 2009

Vegan Red Velvet Cake

vegan red velvet cake"It's my party and I'll bake my own cake if I want too...."

vegan red velvet cakeSo, yes it was my birthday yesterday on the rather special day of 9/9/9! I know it may seem pathetic to make my own birthday cake but I've been wanting to try this for so long now and my birthday was a good a time as any :) Plus it's hard being the only baker in the house and unable to just pick up a cake at tesco!!

This is another one of those things I never tried before becoming vegan but always wanted to. Red Velvet Cake always looks so visually stunning and as I'm a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, figured I would like this. The cake is subtly flavoured with chocolate and traditionally the cake would turn a browny red from a chemical reaction of the cocoa powder and acidic vinegar, but these days red food colouring is often added for extra oomph.

Well, it turned out very well, I based mine on Joy of Baking's as I loved the look of the quadruple layers and the addition of the coconut. I was able to find natural flaked coconut at my local farm shop which is perfect in this, desiccated would be ok but I would recommend unsweetened as the cake is sweet enough. Also if you can find shredded coconut that would be good too.

Red Velvet Cake: (makes two 8" layers)

250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
15g cocoa powder
113g vegan margarine
300g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
240ml vanilla or plain soy yogurt (natural unsweetened)
4 tsp vegetarian red food colouring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
Egg Replacer:
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
scant 1/2 cup water
2 tsp vegetable oil

Grease and line two 8" cake pans with baking paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C. First make your 'eggs' - mix the dry ingredients together then add the oil and water whisking until a bit frothy - set aside. In a bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder and salt - set aside. With an electric mixer or with a whisk beat the margarine until soft then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy - about 2 minutes. Add half the egg replacer, mix well, then add the other half and the vanilla, mix well.

In a measuring cup whisk the soy yogurt with the red food colouring. With the mixer on slow speed, or by hand, alternately add the flour mixture and soy yogurt mixture to the margarine/sugar mix in three additions, starting and ending with the flour. In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda, allow it to fizz then quickly whisk into the batter.

Working quickly divide the batter evenly between the two pans and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in their pans on a wire rack then turn over and let cool completely.

Cream 'cheese' frosting:
110g tofutti cream cheese
110g vegan margarine
650g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla

In a mixer or by hand mix the cream cheese and margarine until well combined. Slowly start adding the icing sugar a little at a time beating well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Add more icing sugar if needed till of a spreading consistency. If you add too much add some dairy free milk to thin.

To assemble the cake, carefully slice the two cakes in half - use a serrated knife and slowly go around the cake then slice the middle. Place one half on a serving plate and spread some of the frosting. Repeat until you place the nicest looking cake quarter on top. Spread the top and sides with the frosting then cover all over with the coconut (if using). We got 12 good size slices out of this, it's very rich though so - it's up to you! :)

Sources: Joy of Baking
Frosting based on 'Vegan Cupcakes take over the World'.

Monday 7 September 2009

Summer Rolls with Spicy Nut Butter Dip

Vegan Summer Rolls
With a spicy ginger garlic soy dipping sauce.

Vegan Summer Rolls
Opened and with a peanut sauce.

So I think I may be the last food blogger on Earth to use rice paper wrappers!! Hurrah, I've finally done it!!! Seriously though I've been wanting to try using these for so long, having never even tasted them before. There are so many recipes out there....and names! Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Summer Rolls, Crystal Rolls etc.... I opted for 'summer rolls' here as my fillings are indeed very summery and really, I don't think these ones are authentically Vietnamese in any way:)

Well, they turned out delicious and I'll definitely be making them again. Loved the basil in there - yes, basil! They just had such a light fresh taste and went well with the dipping sauce. Now, about the sauce, the recipe I loosely followed called for a peanut dipping sauce, which sounded great.... I wasn't keen though - way too sweet! I much prefer my dipping sauces salty/spicy and savoury so whipped up a dip of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and birds eye chili. We both much preferred that one to the peanut one, but to each their own! 

Vegan summer salad rolls with spicy nut butter dip

2013 EDIT - I have now perfected the peanut sauce - you can use any natural nut butter you like and I have updated the recipe below, it's gorgeous!! I based it loosely on this recipe from the rawthentic facebook page where I also made her summer rolls using large green leaf instead of rice paper and stuffed with carrot, cucumber, red pepper, red cabbage, avocado and fresh basil and mint - they are gorgeous!!! The largest leaf I could get in the shops was romaine which are not very wide so mine are not as thick as hers but they are delicious - another great summer roll option :-)

Rough recipe for the rice paper rolls:
rice paper wrappers
thin rice noodles
carrot, cut into matchsticks
red pepper, cut into matchsticks
spring onion, thinly sliced vertically
whole fresh basil leaves

Soak the rice noodles in hot water until soft, drain well then toss in some sesame oil. Set aside. Prep all veg and set aside. Soak the rice paper wrappers in room temperature water until soft. Place on a flat surface and place some noodles, carrot, pepper and onion in the middle, slightly closer to you. Fold the end close to you over, then the sides. Place the basil in the middle then roll up.

Spicy Nut Butter Dip - serves 2

• 2 Tbsp nut butter - (all natural, I use cashew butter but peanut or almond would work too)
• 1 Tbsp soy sauce
• ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
• ½ Tbsp Sweet Freedom Syrup*
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ½ tsp finely grated ginger
• cayenne pepper to taste - I used a scant 1/8 tsp and it was nice and spicy.

*Sweet Freedom is a vegan fruit based syrup which tastes incredibly like honey. If you can't find it any syrup sweetener will work - agave or maple syrup for example.

I place all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and grind and mix it up until smooth but I'm sure a spoon or whisk would work just fine ;-)

Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce:
soy sauce
few drops of sesame oil
slices of ginger, garlic and bird's eye chilli (deseeded)

Mix all together and let sit a little while. Sorry for no measurements but it really doesn't matter too much here. Just make sure you don't add too much sesame oil, really just need a few drops for 1 little dipping bowl.

Recipe based on BBC Good Food's

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Asparagus, Almond and Chickpea Brown Rice with a Lemon Tahini Dressing

Asparagus, Almond and Chickpea Brown Rice with a Lemon Tahini Dressing
This is another gem from Heidi Swanson where she had posted it as 'Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice'. However she uses pre-cooked brown rice which I've never seen here so with brown rice taking about 25 minutes to cook I had to call it something else!

It is so, sooooo good - especially that dressing! I'll be using that in loads of things, I'm thinking drizzled over falafel in pita would be yummy.....and last night I was dipping stuffed vine leaves into some of the leftover dressing and that was very good too :) I also loved the asparagus quickly stir fried like this, I usually always steam my asparagus but the crunchiness was really nice this way. I used brown basmati rice, simply as I prefer it to regular brown rice but as she says you can use any grain you like, even pasta.

Recipe is here .

2012 Edit - I am actually going to post my version of this now as we have it so regularly now I've made quite a few little changes along the way, mostly with calories and portion size as we initially found it way too big but also with the instructions and ingredients.

Also, her recipe stated that it serves 4 - 6, if you get 4 servings out of that recipe it comes in at 826 calories per serving, that's more calories than a Big Mac and small fries!! Obviously this is bags healthier but calories are calories. With 6 servings it comes out at 551 calories and my made over version is 384 calories, is nice and filling and JUST as tasty :-)

Asparagus, Almond and Chickpeas with Wholegrain Basmati Rice and a Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Serves 2

1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g chickpeas, drained and rinsed (from a tin)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, halved and sliced
150g asparagus, cut into 1" segments
1/8 tsp salt
25g flaked almonds, toasted

1 Tbsp tahini
1 scant Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp hot water
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
zest of 1/4 of a lemon

75g dry weight wholegrain basmati rice

First make the dressing by whisking everything together but the hot water until smooth then whisk in the hot water. Set aside.

Toast the almond flakes in a dry frying pan until just golden and set aside.

Get a large pot of salted water on for the rice and cook according to package instructions. For mine, once the water comes to a boil tip in the rice, give it a stir and put the lid on. When it comes back to the boil reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain and put back in the pot, put the lid back on and let it sit off the heat for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile get the olive oil heating up in a wok or frying pan with a lid, when it's nice and hot add the chickpeas, shallots and a good grinding of black pepper and fry until the shallots are soft and the chickpeas start to brown slightly. Initially keep the heat quite high then reduce to low. The chickpeas may pop a bit here so take care. Add a splash of hot water to deglaze the pan and stir well, making sure you loosen up any cooked on bits. Add the asparagus and the salt give it a good stir then cover and let steam until the asparagus is bright green and tender, and any residual water is absorbed, about 3 - 5 minutes. When there is about a minutes left add the garlic and stir well.

Uncover and stir in the rice and flaked almonds and stir well. If the dressing has thickened up a bit too much you can add a touch more hot water to it. Turn the heat off and add the dressing and stir well until all the rice is lightly coated. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving

Calories: 384
Protein: 11.8g
Fibre: 7.1g
Carbs: 44.9g
Sugar: 3.7g
Fat: 20.2g
Sat Fat: 2.2g
Sodium: 295mg