Monday 26 October 2009

Creepy Halloween Food!

Severed Fingers

Halloween Food
Shrunken Head Punch

Eyeball Pasta

Oh I do love Halloween!! I also love freaking my kid out and certainly succeeded with these! I've been wanting to do something fun with food for Halloween for awhile now, I know I'm a little early but wanted to give you all some ideas before hand. The severed finger cookies are very common, I think I first saw them in a Canadian Living magazine about 25 years ago! However, this was the first time I made them and loved the way they turned out. In fact they were so effective we've all slightly gone off almonds now :)

My favourite is the shrunken head punch - apples are carved, slightly preserved then baked until they shrink -they turned out so well and look great in the "blood". For the photo I just used wine, obviously for children you'll want to use red grape juice or blackcurrant - whatever looks 'bloody'. Original recipe used cloudy apple juice which I had them in first but as they are the same colour as the apples it just didn't look as good.

The eyeball pasta was fun to make, but, a major waste!! I got the idea from BBC Good Food where they used mozzarella balls for the eyes and a bit of basil for the pupil. I decided to replace that with silken tofu but due to the size of my 'scoop' only ended up with 2 eyes out of 1 block of tofu! Obviously I'll use the rest for something else but I was hoping to get lots of little eyes out of it. As it's plain tofu it's not too yummy as is but the idea is to mash it up with the tomato sauce before eating - if you dare!!

Severed Fingers:

112g vegan margarine
14g vegetable fat/shortening (1 Tbsp)
90g icing sugar
20g egg replacer
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
whole blanched almonds
red decorator gel*

In a bowl beat together the marg, sugar and extracts. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and egg replacer. Form together into a ball, slightly flatten wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes. Working with half the dough take about 1 tsp of dough and form in to a finger shape. Make sure to start off small here, I made my first ones too big - remember they spread out in the oven. Press an almond in for the nail and slice 3 lines for the knuckle. In some I put some dots for hair but don't think those look as good. Place on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool on sheet for 3 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Lift the almond off and squeeze some gel around then place the almond back on. Also squeeze some gel at the end of the biscuit.

Despite the way these look they are very good - a crisp almond infused biscuit, and the best part is actually the nail! The almond gets nice and roasted in the oven - lovely :)

*for the gel, I found mine in Hobbycraft, it was full of E numbers so was sure it wouldn't be veggie but bought it anyway. When I checked them all out online at home it appears to be fine! It's even set with carageenan instead of gelatine. Now, I'm not happy about all the E numbers but not much is used here. If you can't find this or are worried about it, just use seedless raspberry jam - wouldn't look as effective but at least it would taste nice!*

Source: Canadian Living Magazine

Shrunken Head Punch:

8 firm apples
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp salt (yes, that's not a typo!)

OK, no recipe for an actual 'punch' here as you can use whatever beverage you like - mulled wine for adults, juice based for the kids. Note that the shrunken heads are too salty too eat but just too much fun not to make! For the shrunken heads - In a large bowl combine the salt and lemon juice with 1 cup (250ml) water until the salt dissolves. Peel the apples, cut in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds and core. Turn into the mixture to stop them browning. Using whatever tools you have carve out the eye sockets, nose and mouth - I have a pumpkin carving kit that was perfect for this. Return them to the mixture turning to coat. Leave them in there for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

Pat them dry and place on a wire rack over a roasting tin or rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 120C (250F) oven for 2 - 3 hours, until they begin to shrink and edges are lightly browned. I think I pulled mine out after 1.5 hours though. Let cool on rack. You can make them ahead and refrigerate now in paper towel lined airtight container for up to 24 hours.

Source: Canadian Living Magazine .

Eyeball Pasta:

No real recipe here, I just cooked up some spinach pasta, spooned over some fresh ready made tomato and basil sauce then added the 'eyes'. For them I used a scoop and carefully scooped out some firm silken tofu. Place them on paper towels and gently pat dry. For the pupils, slice some green pimento stuffed olives and place a black peppercorn in the centre. Carefully (the silken tofu will crumble VERY easily!) scoop out a hole for the olive and place it in. To make them look bloodshot I added saffron threads but you'll need to remove these before eating so it's a bit fiddly - they still look good without them. I also brushed on some glycerin to make the eyes look 'wet' but again that's not essential.

Recipe inspired by: BBC Good Food .

Thursday 22 October 2009

Beanburger with Grilled Pineapple

Beanburger with Grilled Pineapple

Well, after all the almost unbloggable posts I decided to go back to an old favorite. This came from an old Tesco Vegetarian magazine - years ago - remember those?? Anyway, it's been tweaked a few times and is one of our favourite burger recipes. I added the pineapple as the Worcester and soy sauce flavours in the patty reminded me of an old 'Hawaiian Burger' I used to do with pineapple. It goes really well with this but feel free to make a 'traditional' burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup etc... it's equally as good :)

Original recipe was egg free and thus prone to breaking apart a wee bit but as it was initially put inside pita's - not a problem. As I made this one a burger, in a ciabatta roll at that, I added some potato starch to help bind it up a bit more. It was still soft but held together just fine.

Smoky Beanburgers: I tend to get 3 regular size burgers out of this.

50g onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, pureed
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 x 210g tin red kidney beans, 130g drained and rinsed
50g finely grated carrot
40g rolled oats
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp smoked sea salt (or regular)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 Tbsp potato or cornstarch

Ciabatta, Burger, Pitas OR Wraps (my new favourite!)
Pineapple rings
Vegan Mayo
Very good with "Reggae, Reggae", HP sauce or BBQ Sauce.

Place beans in a large bowl and mash well. Add grated carrot, oatmeal, sauces, salt and paprika. Stir well. Fry the onion in half the oil until soft, stir in the garlic. Add this to the mixture and mix well. If making burgers as opposed to pitas add 4 tsp potato or cornstarch. Oil hands and shape into 2 patties or whatever you like. The great thing about making your own here is you can shape them to fit whatever size bun your using. I made 8 mini ones once to fill pitas for example.

Preheat grill to the highest setting and brush a baking sheet with oil. Place patties on then brush the tops with more oil. Grill 5 minutes one side, flip, brush with oil and grill the other side for 5 minutes. Meanwhile grill the pineapple rings on grill pan until black lines have formed - both sides. Pop the split ciabatta under the grill until lightly toasted, top with the burger, pineapple, mayo and sauce.

Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Lemon Quinoa with Red Kidney Beans and Pine Nuts

First of all let me explain that I did quite overcook my quinoa here! I mentioned in the post below - losing my cooking mojo!!! So don't cook yours until you end up with quinoa porridge like I did :) Despite that, this was delicious and so nutritious! I was inspired by Susan's recent post over at The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash.

I will just direct you over there for the recipe but I made these changes to suit my tastes and what I had to cook with. I replaced the butternut squash with zucchini as butternut's not my fav and I had some zucchini to use up. Roasted the chopped zucchini, shallot and garlic and fresh thyme with 1 tsp olive oil and salt and pepper for about 20 minutes, added about 65g drained red kidney beans per person to make it more a main dish than side and increased the lemon juice as I do like things very lemony :) I also just cooked the quinoa in water, not stock. At the end I drizzled another tsp of olive oil around just before serving. Lovely, and can't wait to make it again without overcooking the quinoa! (note - changes are for 1 serving)

Banana Custard with Biscuit Crust

Banana Custard
Now like the last soup recipe this is another attempt I wasn't going to blog. What can I say? I've had about 4 cooking and baking attempts lately that have just been....meh, or bad photos, things just not going right...sigh, it's like I've lost my cooking mojo.... That being said I don't know why I wasn't going to blog this, I actually really liked it, as did my husband and the boy liked it so much he asked for more once they were all gone! As I initially wasn't going to blog these I didn't take a picture showing the biscuit crust - sorry! But, it's just a basic digestive (graham cracker) crust pressed in and baked.

It all started just trying to think of something to do with a couple very ripe bananas I had. Tired of the usual muffins, banana bread and cupcakes I started thinking of pies, particularly banana cream pie. This is what I ended up with and it is really good, it has a very strong banana taste though so this one is for banana lovers only :) Please excuse any odd quantities, I made this one up not following any recipe, adding things as I went. I got 5 servings from this using individual serving dishes like you see in the photo.

Banana Custard:
200ml reduced fat coconut milk
300 ml rice milk
220g very ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
60g golden caster sugar
60g "Bird's" custard powder
1 tsp vanilla

Biscuit Crust:
120g vegan digestives
1 Tbsp golden caster sugar
35g vegan margarine, melted

Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz till very crumbly(no large chunks). Tip into a bowl with the sugar and pour in the melted margarine. Stir well then spoon into dessert dishes, pressing down lightly with the back of a spoon. Pop into preheated 180C oven and bake for 10 minutes - let cool on wire rack.

For the custard, mix the custard powder and sugar together in a bowl and set aside. Mix together the coconut, rice milk and vanilla and set aside. Place the bananas in a blender and add just enough of the milk mixture so that it will blend - blend till smooth. You shouldn't need much of the milks here, it's just to 'make it go'. Pour some more of the milk into the powder/sugar mix just to make a paste. Heat the remaining milk until nearly boiling then pour into the custard mix, whisk well. Pour this back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring and whisking constantly while you bring it to a boil and it thickens. Add the pureed banana and whisk well, you should have a smooth and thick mixture now - note this will be thicker than traditional custard. You are after a pudding here, not a pourable custard. Spoon this into the cooled bases and set in the fridge to fully cool. We had these as is but they would be nice with some vegan whipped cream on top

Friday 16 October 2009

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake

vegan coconut lime bundt cake
vegan coconut lime bundt cake
I have a new favorite cake! This is so yummy, I got the recipe from BBC Good Food where it was already vegan :) Well, providing you replace the butter with vegan margarine... Only other changes I made was to replace the lemon with lime, as I think coconut and lime should always be together....and added some lime to the frosting as well as I felt it needed some acidity to cut through the richness. Further, the recipe called for coconut cream, I did have some but mostly had full fat coconut milk that I needed to use up so I did a combo of both. I do think the cream can be fully replaced with full fat coconut milk though and still be good.

Some of the comments on their site mention this being quite crumbly. Well, it is, but I have to say I really like that in this. With the coconut in there the crumbliness gives it a macaroon feel and as I feel a lot of vegan cakes can actually err on being too moist - this was a nice change. They cooked it in a regular springform tin but I have this bundt cake ring that doesn't get used too much so thought I would try it. Only thing is I had to take it out of the oven with about 20 minutes left - it didn't need anywhere near the 1 hour cooking time they called for.

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake:
140g vegan margarine
140g golden caster sugar
50ml coconut cream, heated just until liquid (just replace with more milk if hard to find)
100ml full fat coconut milk
juice and zest of 1 lime
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
85g fine cornmeal (polenta)
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
140g plain flour

Coconut Lime Glaze:
210g icing sugar
juice and zest of 1 lime
about 4 Tbsp full fat coconut milk

For the cake - 'butter' and flour a springform pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 180C. Cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the coconut cream, lime juice and zest and whisk well, add the rest of the coconut milk a bit at a time until all incorporated. Combine the flour, cornmeal, coconut, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add this to the milk mixture and whisk until just combined and you have a soft but not too wet mixture - it will be 'thick-ish'.

Spoon into your prepared tin and bake for 30min. If using a different size tin this may take longer, or less - it will look golden on top and a toothpick inserted should come out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan on a wire rack. Then remove from pan and insert onto a serving plate.

For the glaze just whisk together everything until you have a thick but slightly pourable mixture. Spoon it over the cooled cake letting it pour over the sides a bit. Leave it too set then slice and serve. I got 16 slices out of my bundt pan for this.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Lentil Bolognese

Lentil BologneseWith homemade vegan garlic bread

This has been a standard in our house for years. I have already blogged this on my previous vegetarian blog but it was already vegan as long as you omitted the parmesan on top.

It's a great basic sauce recipe that is not confined to pasta, anywhere you would use a meat sauce you can use this: in lasagna, in baked potatoes, shepherds pie etc.. It's very versatile and so yummy. This is one of Finn's favorites, I first gave it to him years ago with rotini pasta and I guess the stripes of the rotini and the brown/orangy sauce made him think of tigers as he instantly dubbed it 'Tiger pasta' which it is now of course always referred to in our house!

I actually got the recipe from 'Baby and Child Vegetarian Recipes' by Carol Timperley a cookbook I still use a lot and found indispensable when Finn was younger. It's basically a standard bolognese sauce recipe replacing the meat with brown lentils. The recipe makes a lot, 8 adult servings, which is really handy as it freezes really well making it an easy dinner standby.

Lentil Bolognese:

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Pinch dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped (optional – use 2 carrots if not using)
175g button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons tomato puree
150ml red wine or water (I use water when Finn is having it...which is always!)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (make sure to use dark, should say dark on the label)
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
1 large tin (400g) chopped tomatoes (recipe called for a half tin, I use a whole as I find it needs it)
2 x 400g tins brown or green lentils, drained and rinsed (can't find 'brown' lentils here, the tins labeled 'green' are actually brown in colour inside)

Heat the oil, add the onion, basil, oregano and bay leaf and cook till onions are transparent. Add the garlic, stir, then add the carrot, celery and red pepper, cook for a few minutes then add the mushrooms. When the mushrooms begin to wilt, stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, add more water if too dry but it shouldn't be overly 'saucy'. Allow to cool slightly, remove bay leaf, transfer to a food processor and blend till smooth.

I serve this with about 67g of pasta per person, as the sauce is quite filling on it's own. Some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top before serving is nice too. Lovely meal with the garlic bread and a nice glass of vegan red wine ;)

Makes 8 adult portions, 16 child size portions.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!!

I usually love preparing my thanksgiving feast and was looking forward to it this year as I really wanted to try and perfect the pumpkin pie and try another entree. However, I just couldn't get my act together this year and I've run out of time!

Anyone looking for ideas can go here for my last Thanksgiving dinner and for our last Christmas dinner we had a Tourtiere which was delicious and would make a lovely Thanksgiving centrepiece. Or, how about some Vegan Haggis to work around! See, lots of cruelty free options ;) Enjoy!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Creamy Lemon Garlic Tagliatelle

Vegan Creamy Lemon Garlic Tagliatelle

So I had some leftover coconut milk from the hot chocolate and really fancied some creamy lemony pasta. I haven't yet tried using coconut milk to substitute cream in a sauce, I thought it would taste too, well, too 'coconutty'. Well, I'm happy to report that it doesn't. This turned out so well :) :) Once you add the rather strong flavours of lemon, garlic and basil the coconut flavour gets a little lost and you are just left with a lusciously creamy sauce. And to be honest what coconut flavour is left is actually really lovely! Lemon pasta has always been one of my favorites and I will definitely make this again!

*EDIT* - just made a mushroom version of this, add 250g sliced mushrooms that you fry with the garlic and margarine until soft. Replace the basil with finely chopped fresh thyme - lovely creamy garlic mushroom sauce!

Serves 2:
10g vegan margarine (2 tsp)
200ml reduced fat coconut milk (guessing regular fat will work too, it's just what I had)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large cloves garlic, pureed
handful of fresh basil, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
150g tagliatelle, or whatever pasta suits you :)

Put the pasta on to cook. Meanwhile melt the margarine in a small saucepan and add the garlic, stir over low heat for a couple minutes then add the lemon zest. Add the coconut milk slowly and stir well, add the salt, basil and some pepper. Stir over low heat while the pasta is cooking. When pasta is ready, drain well and return to the pot, pour the sauce over and over medium heat cook stirring until thickened up a bit. Serve immediately with some more black pepper. I also sprinkled a little nutritional yeast powder over top which was nice.

Monday 5 October 2009

The Ultimate Vegan Hot Chocolate

The Ultimate Vegan Hot Chocolate*see edit below*

I am so happy. You see, I have always loved hot chocolate, not those pissy watered down instant jobs but real decadent hot chocolate. Finding an acceptable vegan version has been a bit of a nightmare as so far I have hated the taste of all dairy free milks heated up. That was until I tried coconut milk. OMG. This is not only the best vegan hot chocolate I have ever had but hands down the best hot chocolate I have ever had - and believe me, I've had a lot!!

Now I do need to warn you all here. This makes a very, very rich and thick hot chocolate, it's how I like it - yes, you are seeing the cinnamon stick actually dent the beverage there!! Think of this more like a dessert than a casual drink, hence the claim of 'ultimate' ;)

Now I'll post my version here but I have made it by adding some hot water to thin it out and that works just fine, the drink doesn't lose any flavour that way and is more like "regular" hot chocolate. So, if hot chocolate's that are so thick they take awhile to get to your mouth are not your kind of thing, do just add some water:) For me though, this is perfect!

Serves 2:
50g dark vegan chocolate, chopped (I used Bourneville's baking chunks and didn't need to chop)
200ml reduced fat coconut milk
1.5 fl oz kahlua
1 cinnamon stick

Place the chocolate, milk and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until the chocolate fully melts and there is no graininess - take your time it will all come together. Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in the kahlua and serve!

*Edit* - I wanted to make a thinner, more casual, not as rich non-alcoholic version of this that my son could enjoy. Keep in mind he's never liked hot chocolate but he loved this. As did we, it's no where near as rich as the one above but still super chocolatey. I first made it chocolate mint with peppermint extract, then chocolate orange with orange extract - lots of possibilities!

50g dark vegan chocolate, I use bourneville chunks
100ml reduced fat coconut milk
100ml rice milk
1/4 tsp extract, peppermint or orange, whatever you like
more rice milk to thin

Place the chocolate and milks in a saucepan and heat up gently until all the chocolate melts, whisk up until super smooth, you don't want any little flakes of chocolate left. Stir in the extract and heat up till hot. Pour into 2 mugs then top up with some more cold rice milk to thin out and cool down a bit. Drink right away!

One Lovely Blog Award

Thanks so much to Truestarr for the "One Lovely Blog" nomination! Here are my nods:

Scottish Vegan Homemaker Love Penny's blog, lovely vegan food and just has such a warming and welcoming feel to it :)
Allotment to Kitchen Mangocheek's Vegetarian (but largely vegan too) blog is fantastic, frequent updating and just beautiful :)
Taste my Plate an omni blog I like and a fellow Canadian!

To get your award just copy the photo on my site here and paste onto your blog (if you want to!) and then pass the award to whoever you like! I decided to just give 3 otherwise this list would never end as I love all the blogs I follow, but felt one omni, one vegetarian and one vegan was the way to go :)