Sunday, 28 March 2010

Easter Egg Cakelets

Happy Easter!!!

Sure! They look cute, and I can assure you they taste fantastic, but mark my words - I will NEVER make these again!!! Sigh....I had such good intentions: making my snowball cake pops into egg shapes, colouring melted vegan white chocolate in pretty pastel colours and coating them, then decorating the cakelets like traditional easter eggs. Sounded like a good idea and a great way for vegan kids to get into the fun of decorating easter eggs.

Well, here's what went wrong - as you can see in the picture they are not smooth at all!! Some came out ok but mostly they are lumpy and stringy looking. That's not the cake - they were nice and smooth but rather the chocolate went on like that. Now this did NOT happen with the snowball cake pops - they were very easy to make. I think it may have been that the cakes were well chilled from the fridge and the chocolate still warm from being melted. So when I tried to dip them the chocolate instantly started to set and I couldn't get a smooth finish. I also think the cake pops were easier to coat as they were on sticks. I had to dip these by hand and the thick sticky chocolate made it very hard to even get them out of the bowl! I started off coating them all in plain white chocolate then set about dipping them in coloured white chocolate.

Problem two. Some of the colours incorporated into the melted white chocolate just fine, others, caused the chocolate to instantly seize up rendering it unusable and had to be dumped. The yellow was the particular problem here - not only did it seize up but it was a 'natural' yellow colouring made from turmeric which made the chocolate taste absolutely disgusting!! You can see some yellow eggs there but they were made by me taking the seized up chocolate and warming it up in my hands then pressing it over the egg, just for the photo. Seriously.

Now those of you who read my blog regularly will guess that I am really a very patient cook. I have no problem taking a couple days to make french fancies or other such fiddly creations but even I had to admit defeat here! So I stopped after colouring them as faffing about decorating them just seemed pointless.

On the plus side, like I said, they tasted fantastic, as did the snowball cake pops and I finally got to try making these non-alcoholic. The recipe in the Canadian Living magazine said to replace the rum with apple juice to make non-alcoholic. I was quite sceptical about this as naturally those two things taste very different. I'm happy to report it works just fine - they tasted wonderful! Personally I did prefer the rum soaked cakes, especially with the coconut, but these were very good too.

Recipe is the exact same from my Snowball Cake Pops but made into egg shapes and not put on a stick. I also didn't coat them in coconut or anything and used apple juice instead of rum. Which, by the way, I accidentally had the rum listed at 180ml, it's supposed to be 80ml!!! Good god, I hope none of you tried to make them with that figure, those would be some very rummy cakes indeed!! (Or some of you had a good Christmas ;)

Nutritional Analysis: per 1 cakelet if you get 23 out of the recipe (approximate as I'm unsure exactly how much white chocolate I ended up using, having to dump so much)

Calories: 92
Carbs: 11.9g
Fat: 4.5g
Sat Fat: 1.7g
Protein: 0.9g
Fibre: 0.6g
Sugar: 3.8
Sodium: 48.2mg

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Easter Cookies Snowball Cake Pops

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Best Spicy Beanburger Wrap!!

Vegan Spicy Beanburger Wrap
Spicy Vegan Beanburger Wrap
Oh my this was so good!!! I have already blogged this burger, it's our standard beanburger recipe and hands down my favourite. I felt it needed another post however in it's recent incarnation as a wrap as it's that good! I kept the pineapple like last time as it just goes so well with the soy and worcester sauce flavours in the burger. But, have since discovered that adding Levi Root's "Reggae, Reggae Sauce" (labelled vegan!) to this takes it to a whole new level!! Seriously, all you need is a wrap, the burger, a pineapple ring and the sauce.

I do apologise for another blog post calling for a UK specific ingredient. A good replacement is HP sauce which basically tastes just like the reggae sauce but without the spice, although, I think that is regional specific too! I suppose any type of spicy barbeque sauce would work here. One more thing that made this even better this time around was the smoked paprika I used. My last jar must have been quite anaemic as my new one, tesco's own label, packs quite the punch - nice and spicy. A note on the vegan Worcestershire sauce - my favourite is Geo Organic Worcester Sauce but it seems hard to find these days. I used Tiger, Tiger brand from Sainsbury's this time around and found it quite good. Just try and steer clear from that Life Free From one made with that LoSalt crap - yuck!.... Ahem...sorry for the retail bossiness there ;)

Makes 2 burgers for wraps:
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, hot is good here
1-2 Tbsp potato or cornstarch - optional

Wraps, I used white but wholewheat would be nice too
Pineapple rings
Very good with "Reggae, Reggae" or HP 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. Now, like the burgers before if you are using burger buns you might want to add the cornflour to help bind these together as the mixture is soft. If you are using a wrap or a pita this really isn't necessary though as it won't matter if they fall apart a bit. You also may have to add some cornflour depending on how wet your carrots were, they can vary tremendously. Just eyeball it, if it seems so wet that you can't shape it, then add some cornflour. The ones in the photos here I didn't add any and they were quite wet, still turned out well. Now lightly grease your hands and shape into a long log type shape that will fit your wraps. Preheat the 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, carefully flip, brush with oil and grill the other side for 5 minutes.

Place the halved pineapple rings over the top and pop back under the grill for a couple of minutes. I'm sure just chopping the pineapple and adding on top of the burger before wrapping would be fine too, I like it warm and slightly grilled though :)

Nutritional Analysis: (for 1 burger - just the patty)
Calories: 250
Protein: 8.4g
Carbs: 32.2g
Sugars: 13.5g
Fibre: 7.5g
Fat: 4.5g
Saturated Fat: 0.4g
Sodium: 522mg

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Roasted Vegetable Calzone with Creamy Pesto

Vegan Calzone with Roasted Vegetables and Creamy Pesto
Served whole with a side salad and brushed with olive oil

Vegan Calzone with Roasted Vegetables and Creamy Pesto
Roasted Veg and Creamy Pesto Filling

Roasted Veg, Pizza Sauce and Cheezly Filling

I can't believe it's taken me so long to make calzone!! Both these versions were very good, I would happily eat either - and I have, we've had this for either lunch or dinner about 4 times recently!! The dough is very good, my basic pizza base recipe but for the calzones I've added some mixed dried herbs and some garlic powder for extra flavour. The amount of dough here will make 3 good size calzones or 2 very generous sized calzones, I of course make 3 as that's how many is in my family (and for calorie reasons!)

For a dinner I served this with a simple leaf side salad with my most favourite balsamic dressing - it really goes nice with the roasted veg.

The first time we made these we made them "pizza like" with a store bought pizza sauce and supermelty cheezly mozza. It was very good but I got to thinking that pesto would be lovely with the roasted veg. So I decided on a creamy pesto using soy cream instead of olive oil so it wasn't overly oily and nice and creamy.

Altogether it was very, very good!! I still can't decide which one I prefer though, the pesto one probably is nicer, certainly 'posher' but they are both delicious ;)

Roasted Vegetable Calzones - makes 3.... or 2 huge ones!

225g extra strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast, or 1 sachet quick rise yeast
150ml hand hot water
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs - optional
1/4 tsp dried garlic powder - optional
extra olive oil to grease the bowl

Filling: (2012 Edit - I now add some diced zucchini, about 1/2 a medium one and tend to omit the artichoke.)
1 large red onion, chopped
200g white mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 large cloves garlic, leave in their skins
1 large red pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
-chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
-sliced black olives
-chopped artichokes in oil (optional)
-chopped fresh basil (if not making the pesto version)
-mozza cheezly, optional (if not making the pesto version)
-store bought pizza sauce (if not making the pesto version)

Creamy Pesto: this is so good you may want to make more to have on hand!
10g pine nuts, toasted
30g basil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
30ml soya cream
2 1/4tsp nutritional yeast, if you have one, grind it up in a pestle and mortar to make finer
1/2 tsp lemon juice
black pepper

First make your dough. In a bowl weigh out the flour, salt, mixed herbs and garlic powder (if using). Mix well and set aside. In a large bowl add the hand hot water and the sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves then sprinkle over the yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes - it should get really foamy on the surface. If it doesn't, your yeast is 'dead' and you'll need to dump this and get some new yeast! After 10 minutes, whisk it up well, add the olive oil and whisk again. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until a dough comes together.

(Note - if using quick rise yeast, simply add it too the flour mixture and make sure your water is a bit warmer than usual, about 120 - 130F then add it and the olive oil to the flour mixture and proceed as below)

Flour your work surface then knead the dough for 10 minutes. Keep adding more flour until the dough no longer sticks to the surface or your hands. When it's close to 10 minutes you should notice that the dough becomes very smooth, soft to the touch and is no longer floury or sticking to anything. Now wash out the bowl the dough came out of with really hot water and dry. I like to add the dough to a warm bowl to 'kickstart' it's rising. Add 1/2 tsp of olive and grease the bowl then add the smooth ball of dough, turning it to cover in oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to double in bulk - about 1 hour.

Now prepare your roasted veg. Preheat the oven to 220C. In a non stick roasting tin add the garlic, mushrooms, red onion and peppers.

Drizzle over the olive oil and toss with your hands until it is all coated in oil. Sprinkle over the salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Resist the urge to add more oil - the mushrooms will release water while roasting and it's not necessary. Pop it in the oven for about 20 - 30 minutes, giving it a stir a couple times.

Slice the tops off the garlic and squeeze out the roasted garlic, mash it well with a fork then add to the roasted veg mixing well until all the garlic is spread about evenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

If making the pesto version, now make your pesto: Either use a food processor or pestle and mortar, whatever will give you the finest texture result. Place the toasted pine nuts, garlic, salt, lemon juice and basil in and grind until nice and fine. Slowly add the soy cream until all added and nice and creamy. Stir in the finely ground nutritional yeast and some ground black pepper. Set aside.

Now, remove the dough from the bowl, punch down and cut into 3 sections. Roll out both sections into rough circles, not too thin. If you are making 3 calzones here then they will look small, but as you can see from my pictures, it does all get in there!

This photo from 2012 with slightly different veg and added zucchini.

Either spread on the pizza sauce or half the pesto, then top with the roasted veg, black olives, sun dried tomatoes and chopped marinated artichokes. 

Again, this is from 2012 :-)

If you are making the pizza sauce version, add some cheezly if you like, I've made these with both melty and regular, they both melt fine but the mozza gave the best flavour. I also added some chopped basil to the pizza sauce.

Now take 2 sides and bring it together over the top and seal well, do the same with the other sides then make sure you seal all the edges. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the calzone seam sides down. Brush with a little olive oil and bake in a preheated 200C oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

*Note - the first time I made these I didn't brush with olive oil before baking and they came out a little, anaemic looking so I brushed them with olive oil after they came out. As you can see from the top picture they look a little too oily but I can assure you they weren't. Still, the way to go is to brush the dough before they bake and they should like like this ^ and don't brush them after.*

Let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly then serve with a simple leaf side salad.

My most favourite balsamic dressing:

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, pureed
1 tsp dijon mustard
black pepper

Measure the olive oil into a small bowl. With your whisk ready slowly start adding the balsamic vinegar in a steady stream, whisking all the while until it's all added and thick and creamy. Whisk in the dijon, salt and garlic. Add a few grinds of black pepper and whisk again. This will make more than you need for a side salad but it will keep a couple days. Just whisk it up again.

Nutritional Analysis: (for 1 out of 3 calzones with the creamy pesto)

Calories: 485
Protein: 13.8g
Carbs: 72.3g
Sugars: 7.3g
Fibre: 7.1g
Fat: 16.8
Saturated Fat: 2.2g
Sodium: 668mg

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sweet Ginger Tofu with Pak Choi and Jasmine Rice

Sweet Ginger Tofu with Pak Choi and Jasmine Rice
This was SO good! Recipe comes from Ching He-Huang on the BBC Good Food website, it was already vegan and I didn't have to make any changes. For that reason you'll have to click on the link there for the recipe. I love Ching, she always makes the most amazing looking food and love her show Ching's Kitchen - I could seriously watch that all day!! I'll be making this one again and again for lunch I'm sure, such nice flavour with the ginger and soy and a nice simple dish.

I thought I would get fancy and try pressing my rice in a mould as I've never done that before. It was dead easy, I just lightly greased a little pudding mould, pressed it in, waited a few minutes and it just popped out onto the plate like that. Oh, and don't think I just do that for photos or company - I'm having this for lunch today on my own and will definitely plate it up just like that!! I like my food to look good but feel free to dump all this together into one big bowl!! It will taste good all the same ;)

Recipe is here. (I cooked up 50g dry weight of Jasmine rice for one serving.)

Notes: I did make one small change - I halved the amount of red chilli flakes and found this to be a perfect amount. Nice heat but not overpowering. Also my sauce cooked down a little too much or too fast so I added a couple splashes more water to loosen it from the wok and get a bit more sauce. Otherwise I made no changes at all.

This dish is also a calcium powerhouse with the tofu and pak choi. If you use calcium set tofu, one serving gives you 487mg of calcium! I also had mine with a glass of calcium fortified orange juice and together that gave me 670mg of calcium - in just one meal!

Nutritional Analysis:
Calories: 418
Protein: 21.1g
Carbs: 51.5g
Sugars: 7.1g
Fibre: 1.9g
Fat: 14.5g
Saturated Fat: 2.4g
Calcium: 487mg
Sodium: 1030mg

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Friday, 19 March 2010

Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

Vegan Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

Happy 8th Birthday to my lovely son!!!

Vegan Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

Chocolate cake, layered with chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate ganache and white chocolate curls, yes, all vegan!

Vegan Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

Phew, this might just be my most mammoth blog post ever! It was my son's 8th birthday yesterday and I've been thinking what kind of cake to do him for awhile now. Ever since his epic vegan burger cake from last year it's been kinda hard to think of things that can top it! I had intended to do something else 'fun' with fondant, like the burger cake, but first couldn't find the coloured fondant I used last year; then when I did find it noticed that they changed companies and that it was not only no longer vegan friendly but not even vegetarian!! This didn't make it impossible, I would have to buy ready made plain fondant and colour it myself with vegan colours, but I really wasn't into doing that! So......I decided to just make him a regular cake but make it rather extravagant, all chocolate, uber-rich and over the top. After all, if anyone can have no problem eating so much sugar, it's an 8 year old ;)

This is basically a combination of two types of cakes I've already done. The cake itself is really just the 'wacky cake' that's out there and the one I used in my quadruple layer chocolate cake, and the mousse filling and ganache topping taken from my chocolate mousse dome cake . I then decided to have a go and making some white chocolate curls to decorate the top. It was my first time making curls, and I love that I had to buy a cheese slice to make them! They turned out ok, some looked better than others as it was so dependent on the chocolate being just soft enough, but looked the part in the end :) This took me 2 days to make but I really could have done with 3!! So if you fancy having a go here are the step by step instructions:

Chocolate Cake:

375g plain flour
300g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp vanilla extract
160ml vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
480ml cold water

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F and line the bottom of a high sided 7 or 8" non stick cake pan with a removable bottom or springform sides. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together all the liquid ingredients separately. Make a well into the dry and add the liquid and whisk until it all just comes together. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. This cake normally just takes half an hour to cook, but as this recipe is doubled and being cooked in 1 pan, not 2, it takes a lot longer to cook. I had to cover it with foil after 1/2 hour to ensure it didn't over cook on top and had to keep checking it with a toothpick. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and let fully cool in the pan. Best to leave it overnight.

Next day, remove it from the pan and if you have to, slice the top off so that you have an even cake. Although my top wasn't even I chose not too slice it off, with that crevice I ended up with I would have had to cut too much off, and it was sitting even enough so I didn't worry about it.

Then carefully and evenly slice the cake into 3rds, placing all layers on the wire rack.

Chocolate Mousse Layers:

300g dark vegan chocolate
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp icing sugar
300ml soya whipping cream, in a carton, chilled
3 Tbsp Kahlua, yup, in my child's cake....oh the shame!

Melt the chocolate and set aside to get to room temperature. Whisk up the whipping cream with the icing sugar until light and airy. When the chocolate is still melted but no longer hot and more or less similar in temperature to the cream, whisk it in quickly. It's important to do this fast so that the chocolate doesn't seize up, it will also seize up if the temperature difference between the two is too great. Next whisk in the vanilla and Kahlua.


Take the pan that you baked the cake in and fully line it in cling film.

Place the top 3rd of the sliced cake and place it upside down into the cake pan.

Spoon over half the mousse and level it out. Place the middle slice of cake over top the mousse, then add the other half of the mousse.

Now place the bottom slice of cake on top, or whatever slice has the smoothest top for you as this will be the top which you want as flat as possible. Wrap the excess cling film over the top, gently press down to get out any bubbles in the mousse, and add more cling film if necessary to fully cover the cake.

Place it in the fridge for the mousse to set - about 3 hours.

When set, remove from the fridge and gently pull it out of the cake pan by the cling film.

You may notice some of the mousse sticks out a bit more than the cake. If it does take a palette knife and smooth the mousse all around so that it's nice and even.

Now, make your ganache:

Chocolate Ganache:

200g dark vegan chocolate
170 ml soy or oat cream
20g extra virgin coconut oil, in the solid state, or a vegetable fat like trex
2 tsp kahlua (again!)

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat up the cream and fat until it melts and it all just comes to the boil. Quickly pour over the chocolate, leave it a few seconds then whisk it up until smooth and glossy. Whisk in the kahlua. Leave it out at room temperature, stirring now and again until it thickens up slightly. It will be too runny to pour over the cake right away, you want it pourable but thick enough that it will coat the cake nicely.

When it's ready, place the cake on a wire rack with some baking paper underneath to catch any drips. Now simply pour the ganache all over the top and using a palette knife push it over the sides and around the cake. When it is all covered check for any missing bits, or lumps and smooth it out. The ganache does start to set quite quickly, if it gets a bit too thick on the cake you can dip your finger in some warm water to smooth out any lumps or bumps.

White Chocolate Curls:

You will only use about 100g of white chocolate for the cake, but you will need to melt about 300g in order to make the curls.

300g vegan white chocolate buttons

Melt the buttons in the microwave until smooth. Pour into a flat pan with small sides in a rectangular shape that you will be able to run a cheese slice over to get curls. I used a jelly roll pan but made it smaller with some foil, otherwise it would have needed even more chocolate to fill up!

Pop this into the fridge to harden. To make the curls you will need to bring this back up to room temperature, if the chocolate is too hard you won't get curls, just shavings, and if it's too soft your curls will be too thick. You can see in my pictures that I ended up with both those and some just right - it's all experimental!! You simply run the cheese slice over the surface with good, even pressure, try a few and you'll soon realize how much pressure to use and how soft the chocolate will need to be.

Once your curls are made simply place on top of your cake in whatever design you like. I opted for a circular fashion but I'm sure they would have looked good just piled on on top :) It's also best to place these on while the ganache is still soft so that they have something to stick too.

Then, that's it! Two or three days later, your done! Now, servings, we first cut this into 12ths but found as it's so rich and sweet that they were too big, so 16th's or more would be best - the smaller the better really ;) Keep in the fridge and bring slices to room temperature before serving.

Vegan Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

You might also like:

Quadruple Layer Chocolate CakeChocolate Mousse Dome Cake

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Macaroni Cheeze with Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach and Spring Onions

I'm clearly on a creamy pasta kick these days! Like the one below this one also calls for faux cheese - sorry if you can't find it where you are or if they are not your thing!! My son's birthday is this thursday so I promise a rather decadent over the top cake recipe soon :)

Anyway! This recipe is featured in this months Sainsbury's Magazine, as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to veganize it, it just looked sooo good! In order to make vegan I used vegan margarine, swapped the milk with a mixture of soy cream and rice milk, and swapped the cheeses with cheddar and mozza cheezly. It worked out perfectly :) We had this for dinner last night, all of us - it's perfect for kids, and then I made it again for lunch today. Not just so I could get a nice picture in the daylight you understand, I really wanted it again!!

Hands down my new favourite mac and cheeze recipe, the spring onion gives a really nice flavour and I can't recommend enough getting really good cherry tomatoes here. I picked up some 'piccolo' cherry tomatoes on the vine from Tesco and they are amazing. So full of flavour, especially when roasted in this, and a perfect counter to the fairly rich sauce. I got 4 small servings out of this as we did have a side salad with it, as a main you would probably be better off with 3 servings, OR if you have a rather massive appetite, 2. ;)

Macaroni Cheeze with cherry tomatoes, spinach and spring onions:
175g elbow macaroni (easier to find over here these days!)
25g vegan margarine
25g plain flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
few grinds of black pepper
6 spring onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts!)
1 large clove garlic, minced
250ml soy cream
250ml rice milk
65g mature cheddar cheezly (I have also used the super melting mozza here, just as good)
2 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
100g baby leaf spinach, optional
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
50g super melting mozza cheezly - for the topping

Preheat the oven to 180C and 'butter' a 1.25 litre ovenproof dish - set aside. Cook macaroni according to package instructions but leave it a little firm - it will cook some more in the oven. Meanwhile, melt the margarine in a saucepan and gently fry the spring onions and garlic. Mix together the flour, salt and pepper and add to the margarine. Fry gently 1 minute then slowly add the soy cream and rice milk, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. When all liquid is added turn the heat up and bring to a gentle boil. Add the cheddar cheezly and stir well until all melted. Now stir in the mustard, reduce heat to a minimum and season to taste.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and gently stir until all coated in the sauce. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Scrape everything into your prepared dish then scatter the tomatoes over the top, followed by the melting mozza cheezly and some freshly ground black pepper.

Pop into the preheated oven for 20 - 30 minutes. It will be bubbling up the sides and the cheeze on top will have melted and be golden.

Let sit for 5 minutes then serve. (Please note the 2 pictures above are just 2 servings - I halved the recipe for lunch the next day.)

We had this with just a simple leaf salad with my all time favourite balsamic dressing - just omit the puy lentils for a side salad.

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Creamy Linguini Carbonara

Vegan Linguini Carbonara

This was so good! I don't normally like posting things with too many 'faux' ingredients, or UK specific ingredients, so forgive me for this post! It does call for vegan bacon and tofutti cream cheese, I don't normally have them in but had some cream cheese left from the dip post below and really fancied a creamy pasta. I don't think I ever had pasta carbonara before in my life and realize this won't be traditional in any way shape or form! But it was damn good.... and quick - my two favourite things in a meal ;)

Creamy Linguini Carbonara: serves 1

80g linguini
30g tofutti cream cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
50ml veg stock, I made up 125ml with 1/4 tsp marigold vegan stock granules, in case I needed more
1/8 tsp smoked sea salt
1 rasher vegan bacon, I used vegi deli, diced.
1 shallot, diced
10g vegan margarine
black pepper
Spinach, sliced, I didn't weigh this, maybe 40g? Just eyeball it.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile melt the margarine in a small saucepan and gently fry the shallots and bacon until the shallots are soft and bacon is cooked, just a couple minutes. Stir in the garlic then add the veg stock, cream cheese, salt and some grinds of black pepper. Stir until all combined and nice and creamy. Drain the pasta, return to the pot and pour over the sauce. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Serve at once with maybe some grated cheezly on top and some more black pepper.

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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Blue Corn Chips

Vegan Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I used to love this dip back in my, well, both omni and vegetarian days. It's a very common appetiser in restaurants back home but I have never seen it over here. Now it's not a very vegan friendly dish, calling for usually, cream cheese, parmesan and/or mayo and sour cream! There are so many recipes out there with tons of variations but I decided to veganise one that looked fairly straightforward by simply replacing the dairy versions with their vegan counterparts.

Well, I absolutely loved it!! I can't say how much it tasted like the 'original' as it's been years since I've had it but I can say it was very good in it's own right. What doesn't come through in the picture is how light and creamy it is! No broken chips dipping into this dip ;) Now, certainly I didn't like the vegan cream cheese, mayo or cheezly when I first had them 2 years ago but now love them, and this recipe calls for all three!! So, do make sure you like the replacements although I was thinking nutritional yeast would be a good taste with this so may try at some point making it with a nooch based alfredo sauce - I'm sure it would be just as good :)

Whenever I had this in restaurants back home they would be served with warmed red and blue corn chips. I've never seen them over here until I saw this bag at Asda of all places, and they're organic to boot! This range had other flavours too, a flax seed and soya one looked nice too, but the blue chips go perfectly with this dip.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

125g raw spinach, washed
125g artichoke hearts, I used chargrilled marinated ones in a jar
85g tofutti cream cheese
35g vegan garlic mayo, I use plamil
25g super melting mozzarella cheezly
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Boil the spinach in salted water until tender, just a couple minutes. Drain well pressing the spinach a bit as you do. Place the artichoke hearts into a food processor and just process until it looks finely chopped. Add the spinach and process until it just comes together. You could just pulse a few times if you want the spinach 'chunkier'- I wanted my dip a bit smoother. In another bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients then add to a small saucepan with the spinach and artichoke mixture. Heat gently and mix well until the cheezly melts and it's nice and warm.

If having with the corn chips, heat the oven to 200C and place some chips on a baking sheet. Just heat up in the oven until nice and fragrant and warmed up - shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes. Serve at once.