Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Delia's Marbled Energy Bars

Vegan Marbled Energy Bars

I've been wanting to make these for years, I never got around to it when I was vegetarian simply due to the ingredients in these. You need like 3 different types of cereal and a lot of chocolate and I could never justify the cost! Then when I became vegan ruled them out due to the white chocolate. Well, now that the fab vegan white chocolate buttons are available decided to have a go. I also bought tesco value for all the cereals wherever I could to help with the cost factor ;)

They were almost vegan anyway except for the white chocolate and whole condensed milk. I debated for a long time what to do about the milk. I even tried making my own condensed milk, I don't know if it turned out like condensed milk but what I did end up with was an almost perfect, incredibly yummy dulce de leche!

I think I may have ended up with dulce de leche more than condensed milk due to using sweetened almond milk and still adding the sugar, I actually cooked it far less than the recipe called for but it really couldn't take any more cooking. This stuff was so amazing and I can't wait to try it in recipes, it was too runny for bars but potential is there! I decided not to use it in place of the condensed milk in this recipe though as I thought it would be too sweet - this was essentially caramel.

So in the end I decided to just sweeten some oat cream with maple syrup and I replaced the molasses with brown rice syrup. Not that molasses isn't vegan, I just didn't have any ;) Now I had to guess completely on how much to sweeten the cream with and feel it's just about right. The bars can certainly be sweeter and if you are not going to add the chocolate on top (although why on earth would you want to do that?? ;) then you will need to sweeten it up a lot - in fact the dulce de leche would work well there. But with the sweet chocolate on top I feel this is just right, after all these are energy bars, not chocolate bars or cookies (although I've tagged them as such!) or a dessert, they shouldn't be overly sweet so work well this way. In the end, I love them :)

Makes 16 bars:
150g dark chocolate
110g pecans
110g dried apricots
150g porridge oats
25g rice krispies
25g bran flakes
75g raisins
100ml oat cream (or soya)
50ml maple syrup
1 tsp brown rice syrup (or molasses, golden syrup)

Preheat the oven to 180C and then toast the pecans for about 7 minutes, until slightly golden and fragrant. Chop them up, not too finely then add to a large bowl. Chop the apricots to roughly the same size and add. Slightly crush the bran flakes then add them and the rice krispies, oats and raisins. In a small saucepan warm the cream with the maple syrup and brown rice syrup until warm and mixed well. Add to the bowl and mix well. Press into a 10 x 6" non stick pan lined with baking paper - overhang the paper to make it easy to remove later. Once evenly pressed pop it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan.

Now melt the dark and white chocolates separately. Marbling with the vegan white chocolate is tricky due to it melting much more runny than dark chocolate. I suggest melting the white first then leaving it out for a bit to thicken up, stirring now and again to keep it smooth. Then melt your dark chocolate. You may have to do the same for the dark, once they are of similar consistency then it's ready. I even had to chill my white chocolate briefly to get it right.

Pull the bars out of the pan and turn upside down onto a chopping board. Place Tbsp's of the dark chocolate randomly over the surface then do the same with the white chocolate, filling up the spaces left. Using a knife in a zig zag motion, marble the chocolate, careful not to push it all over the edges, best to leave some edges bare than to lose any chocolate! Now just pop it in the fridge to set - about an hour. I pulled mine out after about 1/2 hour to cut them, then put them back in to fully set. Or you could pull them out after the hour, let them get to room temperature and cut them then. But if you try and cut them when cold the chocolate will just shatter.

Original recipe and source: Delia Online.
Vegan Condensed milk recipe: Vegan Baking .

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

This sauce is so amazingly good! I would love to take credit for it but it's an only slightly adapted version from Heidi's blog, which I love! Please go to her original version here for the full recipe. I'll still post it here as I've provided weights and made a couple changes.

The obvious carrier for this sauce is pasta but it would equally be good as a sandwich spread, in wraps, rice salads, quesadillas etc.... it's very versatile. The pasta I've used here is the new vegan fresh pasta available at Waitrose. Many thanks to Steven from Lustrous Musings who tweeted about these! I have seriously missed fresh pasta and although I do make my own now and again, love the convenience of these. Yay for fresh vegan pasta!!!

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
serves 4

90g sun dried tomatoes in oil (I use one in a marinated oil)
2 medium garlic cloves
1/8 tsp red chilli flakes
60ml extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

300g pasta 

Add the sun dried tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes, olive oil, thyme and salt to a food processor until fine and crumbly. Add the pine nuts and process until fine and crumbly. NOTE - my food processor is crap at coping with small quantities. I process the sun dried tomatoes in there but grind the garlic and pine nuts in a mortar and pestle, otherwise they just whirl around underneath the blades and never get processed. I then add everything else to the M&P and process that way.

It should look like this in texture.

Now simply cook your pasta in salted water, drain - reserving some of the cooking water, return to the pot and toss with the sauce. Add some of the reserved water to make it more saucy. Season with salt and pepper and if you have it, finely grate some extra mature cheddar cheezly on top.

~ 2013 Update ~
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Mushroom and Spinach Pasta - Vegan.

I've also made this adding some fried mushrooms and baby spinach for a delicious version. For 2 people simply fry 150g of mushrooms, quartered or sliced, in 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil with some freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt until cooked. Cook 150g of pasta then drain saving some of the cooking water and return the pasta to the pot with half of the pesto, 50g of sliced spinach and the mushrooms. Stir over low heat until well mixed then add a splash or 2 of cooking water to make it saucy (ooo-er!). Stir until the spinach wilts, taste and season as need be then serve :-)

Vegan Pan-Grilled Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Avocado, Baby Spinach and Basil Sandwich.
This pesto also works beautifully as a sandwich spread. This sandwich in particular is stunning!

Pan-Grilled Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Avocado, Baby Spinach and Basil Sandwich

• 2 slices good quality bakery bread
• about 20g of the pesto
• half an avocado, sliced
• fresh basil leaves
• handful of baby spinach
• vegan butter
• smoked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Get a grill pan nice and hot. Spread one slice of the bread with the pesto then top with the avocado, a tiny sprinkle of smoked sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, basil leaves and a good handful of baby spinach. Sandwich together then spread the top of the sandwich with the butter. Place butter side down onto the hot grill pan and grill until golden brown. Spread the top of the sandwich with butter and flip over and fry until golden brown.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Vegan sugar and spice cookies
So I'm stuck in the house on a cold rainy day, no baking supplies like chocolate chips or anything fancy and really need something sweet. After a search through recipes I decided to turn to my trusty "The Cookie Book" cookbook circa 1973. This may bring back memories for people around my age and from Canada, possibly America as well. Now, I was born in 1973 but probably bought this book in 1983? That's my guess anyway. Scholastic used to sell books from my school out of an order form then they were delivered to your school. This is the only one I kept through the years and quelle surprise it's a cookbook!

The Cookie BookOriginal doodling all my own ;) I now treat my cookbooks much better!

I used to make so many cookies from this book and although it's a kid's cookbook everything turns out perfect and delicious! This was always the book I turned to for peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles. All the recipes are separated by months, so there is a 'cookie for the month' and January's cookie was the 'Sugar and Spice'. Yes, I know it's February but I had all the ingredients for these and couldn't remember making them before.

After a few vegan adaptations I made them and oh my - they are so good! A nice and light cookie, crisp on the outside, soft and nicely spiced inside then tossed in icing sugar which sets it all off nicely. They remind me of a Christmas cookie due to the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg but really, they would be nice any time of year :)

Makes 9 cookies:
50g (1/4 cup) vegan margarine
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 Tbsp brown rice syrup*
70g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp arrowroot or cornflour (cornstarch)
icing sugar to coat

*original recipe called for light or dark molasses but I had neither in the house so used brown rice syrup. It worked really well but I'm sure molasses (treacle) or golden syrup would be fine.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix together the arrowroot and water then add to the butter mixture a bit at a time whisking. Add the brown rice syrup and whisk well. In another bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter/sugar mixture and mix well with a rubber spatula. Line a baking sheet with baking paper then using a tablespoon spoon the mixture onto the sheet, you should get 9 cookies out of this. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave them on the tray for a couple minutes then transfer to a wire rack. They will at this stage be very soft, don't worry, they crisp up when cooling. Let them cool a bit but while they are still warm toss them in the icing sugar and place back on the rack. Best a bit warm like this :)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Vegan Bacon and Petite Pois Risotto

Vegan Bacon and Pea Risotto
So, back to the food! As I've not been feeling to well lately I've been eating rather simply. When my lupus flares I go through waves of nausea affecting my appetite but the one thing I can always eat is rice. Any type - basmati, jasmine, arborio, sushi etc... doesn't matter. I had this for lunch 3 days in a row! I got the idea from BBC Good Food where Mary Cadogan starts off saying, "not for risotto purists!" and no, it's not - it doesn't even call for wine :0 But it's simple, very yummy and as quick as a risotto can be ;)

Serves 1:
75g risotto rice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
50g diced onion
2 slices vegan bacon, I used redwoods vegi-deli rashers.
50g frozen petite pois
1/4 litre vegetable stock, I made mine with 1 tsp marigold vegan bouillon powder
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, I like to grind mine to a finer powder in a mortar and pestle so it dissolves more easily into the risotto.
smoked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan then add the onion, fry on low heat until soft and transparent. Add the dry rice and stir, making sure all grains are coated in oil for about 2 minutes. Start adding the stock a little at a time, making sure all liquid is absorbed between additions.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a tiny bit of oil until heated through, about 1 - 2 minutes a side. Remove from the pan and chop up.

When you have a bit of stock left add the petite pois and when all the stock is added and the rice is tender stir in the nutritional yeast and bacon. You may need to add a bit more water if the rice isn't cooked. Season with the smoked sea salt and black pepper.

*optional - finely grind some extra mature cheddar cheezly on top - it goes well and gives it that 'parmesan' look.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Favorite Photograph Meme and Happy 101 Award

I know, I’ve been a bad blogger lately….those of you who have followed me for awhile here, or follow me on twitter will know I have lupus. It comes and goes and has been rather active lately meaning I’ve just had no energy for baking/cooking etc… I’m sure I’ll be back in the kitchen soon but until then I was asked by the super lovely Mangocheeks over at Allotment to Kitchen to participate in a Photo Meme. Like her I don’t usually do these as I like to keep my blog just recipes but as this one included a photo I just couldn’t resist! Plus, with me having nothing to blog about these days it was a perfect time!

So, which photo???? That was hard but my first reaction was something from my childhood. Now, living over here I don’t have many childhood pictures so called my parents who scanned and e-mailed a few over. I knew this was the one as soon as I opened it. I grew up on the west coast of Canada and every summer we would head up the coast in our boat, often staying over night in unbelievably gorgeous locations. I have the best memories from these trips, especially whenever we would stay in Refuge Cove , where that photo is taken. I’m on the boat there playing with ‘Toba’ - he was the resident dog there and would always come running up to our boat when we docked. I LOVED that dog, him and copious amounts of sweets from the little shop there what I looked forward to the most! My brother is in the background there fishing and I’m thinking I’m about 7 or 8 here, making this around 1980/1981? It was fun thinking of which photo to use and looking at old pics – thanks for thinking of me for this one Mangocheeks!!

I was also recently (or not too recently, eek!) selected by Stephanie over at Purple Frog to receive a Happy 101 award- thanks again!! Here are the rules:

"List 10 things that make you happy, try to do at least one of them today, and tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, you must link back to my blog!"

So, better late than never ;) he is mine:

1. Going ‘home’ to Canada for holidays – last time was 3 years ago, don’t get to go often so it’s a treasure when we do!
2. Walking my son to school – it’s a half hour walk and just a nice quiet time with him to chat.
3. Reading new books by my favourite authors – Douglas Coupland, Banana Yoshimoto, Margaret Atwood, Wally Lamb, Miriam Toews
4. Cooking and Baking – obviously!!
5. A slice of cake and a cup of coffee – simply the best!
6. Being with friends.
7. Eating out in restaurants – either vegan or with fantastic vegan options.
8.Opening a nice bottle of red and staying in watching a movie with the husband.
9. Road Trips – still love them!
10. Photos – not taking them, something I consider a necessary evil being a food blogger, but looking at others photos, receiving them in e-mails etc… I love photos :)

So I hope you all didn't mind this slight distraction from recipes, I actually quite enjoyed it, and hope you all got to know me a bit better :) Thanks again to Mangocheeks, Stephanie and my folks for sending me the photos!! Back in a bit with my nominations :)