Friday 25 February 2011

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes

I have Isa Chandra Moskowitz to blame for this latest addiction. I follow her on twitter and she tweeted about 'carrot cake pancakes' - complete with link to the ppk recipe. I had never even heard of carrot cake pancakes up till that point but immediately knew I would be making these. Soon. The only problem was her recipe used flax seed for the egg replacer. Try as I may I have never been able to get on board with flax seeds. I know, I know - remove this girl's vegan membership card - stat!! 

I'm sure like everything she makes they are super yummy so if you get on with flax seeds go have a go. I don't, so decided to have browse online for non-vegan carrot cake pancake recipes I could veganise myself. Turns out these are quite popular - loads of recipes out there but all pretty much the same concept - carrot cake flavoured pancakes. In the end I decided to just carrot cake up my standard pancake recipe, which, I shockingly now realize that I haven't posted yet! We've only been having pancakes every weekend since becoming vegan......well, expect a 'Back to Basics' Pancake post soon! Update: here is the recipe for my basic pancakes :-) 

Anyway, these turned out sublimely good, taste just like carrot cake and just like, well, pancakes - go figure! I just can't believe they have escaped me for this long, so thank you Isa Chandra and thank you twitter, our pancake weekends just got a little more yummy!

Carrot Cake Pancakes:

Yields about 15 pancakes

280g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
300ml rice milk
120ml sparkling water
50g light brown sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp ground ginger
1/16 tsp ground nutmeg
about 100 - 150g grated carrot

First, the carrots, as both Isa Chandra and others have stated the carrots need to be quite fine as pancakes don't cook as long as cake or muffins would. I followed their advice and put the carrots first through the shredder on my food processor then switched from the shredder to the blade to chop then even smaller. If you don't have a food processor just shred as fine as you can then chop the shreds up even finer.

Second, I ground up the brown sugar in a mortar and pestle to get it as fine as possible as pancakes don't get to cook very long and I didn't want any undissolved sugar in there. This is, however, probably not that important. Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl whisk the milk, oil, vanilla oil and carrots. Lastly whisk in the sparkling water then quickly add this to the dry ingredients folding in until just mixed. Do not overmix or whisk this until smooth, lumps are good!

Heat your pan or pans on medium heat then brush or spray with a little oil, more if you don't have non-stick pans. Add about 1/3 cup per pancake and cook until they start to bubble then flip over and finish cooking the other side. Make sure the heat isn't high so that they get too golden before the inside cooks. I kept mine warm in a low heat oven while I cook them all. When all done serve with your favourite vegan margarine and loads of warmed up maple syrup - essential, of course ;-)

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Sunday 20 February 2011

Chocolate Mint Zebra Cake

Vegan Chocolate Mint Triangle Zebra Cake
Or as my son rightly pointed out "triangular prism cake" 

This cake is amazing. I absolutely love it, reminded me of what I would imagine a mint flavoured cadbury mini roll tasting like, but better - much, much better! My husband mentioned missing some triangular shaped chocolate cake and proceeded to show me a picture of one. Looked just like this but had whipping cream between the layers. Now, I have yet to find a vegan whipping cream that tastes good on it's own so decided to go for a mint frosting between the layers. It really does give this an 'after eight' flavour -sublime! My first instinct was to cover it in a ganache but when he explained that it's usually a hard chocolate covering decided to go for it. So glad I did, forgot how much I love crisp chocolate over cake. In a way I wish I hadn't made this as I will have to make it again and again.....oh, and it's a bit of a bitch to make!

About that, I really had intended on this being the practise run then I would make it again taking loads of photos of all the complicated steps for you. Alas, these are all the photos I have, I'm sure when I do make it again I'll get more for you but it was just too yummy not to post right away. So bear with me and I'll try my best to talk you through the assembly :-)

150g plain flour
120g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
25g cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
65ml vegetable oil
2 1/4 tsp apple cyder vinegar
190ml cold water

Mint Frosting:
40g vegetable fat (shortening) room temperature
265g icing sugar
1/2 tsp mint extract
2-3 Tbsp dairy free milk, I used rice.

Chocolate Coating:
220g dark vegan chocolate
3 tsp vegetable oil

You will need one 7" x 11" jelly roll pan - grease the sides and line the base with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 190C. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. In another bowl or pyrex measuring cup mix all the liquid ingredients together. Pour the wet into the dry and whisk well, until smooth. Pour into the prepared jelly roll pan and bake in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes. It should be coming away from the sides and bounce back on top. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack to fully cool. Remove the baking paper.

Once the cake is fully cool, trim the hard edges away with a sharp serrated knife. Eat them ;-) Now slice the cake into 4 equal pieces widthways (not the long way). Now make your frosting. Beat the fat until soft then add some of the sugar and the mint extract. Alternate sugar and milk until all is added, you should have a thick but softly spreadable frosting. If not, add more milk and or sugar until you do.

Place one of the cake slices on a large plate and spread with some of the frosting, repeat with all the slices but do not frost the top of the cake. Make sure you have a bit of frosting left over.Wrap your 4 layered cake up in cling film and chill for 2 -3 hours. Remove the cling film and if it needs any trimming to even it up do - make sure you use a sharp serrated knife. Now it gets complicated. Stand the cake up so it's standing tall and using the same knife cut it diagonally in half. Place both sides on a plate and match up both long flat ends so that the frosting layers all line up. You will need to frost the 2 sides together. You should now have something that looks like the above - a triangular prism. It won't be very tidy at this point and the 2 sides may not look very together - that's ok. Wrap it tightly in cling film and place back in the fridge for 2 - 3 hours. 

Place the chopped chocolate and vegetable oil together in a large bowl and place on top of a pot of water. Bring the water to the boil and melt the chocolate and oil together. When all melted, remove the bowl from the heat and let cool. You will not be able to pour this over the cake until it thickens up quite a bit. Don't be surprised if this takes awhile - up to an hour even. Keep stirring it now and again to check it's not getting too thick. You want to spoon it over the cake without losing most of the chocolate. When it's ready take the cake out of the fridge and unwrap. Place it on it's side on a plate with the bottom showing. Spoon the chocolate first over the bottom so that it is covered. Pop it back into the fridge to quickly set the bottom. When it's hard remove from the fridge and place the cake the right side up on the plate and spoon the chocolate over the rest of the cake. Make sure it fully covers all areas, including the front sides. When all covered, pop it back into the fridge (no cling film!) and leave it to fully set.

After about an hour it should be nice and crisp, remove from the fridge about 1/2 hour before slicing so it's easier to slice through the chocolate. You should get anywhere from 8 - 12 slices from this, depending on how big you slice :-) Hopefully I'll get back to this post soon with some step by step photos, I'm sure it won't be long till I make it again ;-)

Post now featured on Lisa's Sweets for Saturday

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Friday 11 February 2011

Puy Lentil, Portabello Mushroom and Baby Spinach Free Form Lasagna

Puy Lentil, Portabello Mushroom and Baby Spinach Free Form Lasagna - vegan

Puy Lentil, Portabello Mushroom and Baby Spinach Free Form Lasagna - vegan

Ok, from a 'back to basics' post to something altogether more complicated! This was seriously good. I'm so glad I'm getting this in before Valentine's Day too as it would make a great entree for two. The idea of a free form lasagna has been knocking about in my head for quite a while now, I saw it done once before in a cookbook somewhere and loved the simplicity of it.

Back when we were vegetarian my favourite lasagna was a spinach and mushroom one so decided to base this on that. I opted for a puy lentil tomato sauce, as the puy really is the king of lentils, portabello mushrooms as they were a good size in this (although, technically I think those are large flat mushrooms!) and some baby spinach - not too much as you don't want it to overpower the dish. For an extra sauce I also made a mustardy nutritional yeast sauce and it goes so well in this. *2012 Edit - I have changed this sauce to my new favourite creamy garlic sauce as it works even better!*

I will be making this one often for sure, even as I'm typing this my belly is full up with it! Although there are a lot of steps if you get everything weighed out and ready before hand it'll go smoothly enough :-)

Recipe serves 2.

Puy Lentil Tomato Sauce:

200g passata (sieved tomato sauce)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped - or 2
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
50g dry weight puy lentils (OR 1/2 a 400g can of lentils)
freshly ground black pepper
4 lasagna sheets - about 75g

You will need to cook the lentils first and they do take 45 minutes. I did them on the day but it would make your job easier to do this a day before. Wash and rinse the lentils well and place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Put a lid on and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes. Check the water levels now and again. Drain and rinse in cold water and set aside or place in the fridge, covered until needed. *If using tinned lentils, omit this step and simply add them as stated below.*

Gently heat the olive oil and fry the garlic just until fragrant. Add the passata, herbs, salt and pepper and stir well. Simmer this with the lid on while you cook the noodles. After it cooks down a little bit add the lentils, stir well and continue to simmer until it thickens up a bit.

Put a large pot of salted water on high heat. When boiling add the noodles - place them in different directions so they are less likely to stick together. Boil for about 10 minutes or whatever the package says. I used the type that you are to use dried in a baked lasagna but found 10 minutes to be perfect for boiling. If you are cooking for guests you might want to cook a couple extra sheets here in case they break or tear while cooking.

Cheezy Garlic Sauce:

15g vegan margarine
10g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, about 7g
150ml unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

First, I like to grind the nutritional yeast flakes in a mortar and pestle to get them into a fine powder so it melts into the sauce easier. Add the salt, garlic powder and dried parsely to this and mix well. Add it to the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the margarine to a saucepan and add the milk mixture. Turn the heat on and sprinkle over the flour, start whisking and keep whisking until the margarine melts and the flour has dissolved. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir until it thickens up. Add the agave and lemon juice then turn off the heat and give it a stir now and again to let it thicken up even more as you don't want this sauce very runny.

Source: Based on Chloe Coscarelli's Mac and Cheese sauce recipe.

Mushroom and Baby Spinach Filling:

2 portabello mushrooms, or about 150g (I've also used 200g regular white mushrooms)
50g baby spinach, stems removed (OR 150g frozen spinach, cooked)
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a wok then add the sliced mushrooms and a sprinkling of salt. Fry on high heat until they start to shrink and look cooked. Place the baby spinach on top, place a lid on and let it steam for a couple minutes. Stir well - the spinach should be wilted now and the mushrooms cooked with no liquid left.


Place a lasagna sheet on a large plate and top with half the lentil tomato sauce

Now place half of the spinach and mushroom mixture over top

Then spoon over half of the Nutritional Yeast sauce

Finally, top with another sheet of lasagna, drizzle with an extra drizzle of olive oil and some finely chopped fresh basil. Repeat with the other sheets and serve! If they happen to get a bit cold while doing all this they can be heated up in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds without anything bad happening to the pasta.

Nutritional Information: per serving

Calories: 385
Fat: 8.1g
Sat Fat: 1.5g
Protein: 16.1g
Carbs: 49.7g
Sugar: 12.2g
Fibre: 6.3g
Sodium: 1020mg
Calcium: 139mg

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Thursday 10 February 2011

Back to Basics - Houmous

I debated whether to post this at all, not that it's not good, it's fantastic and I no longer buy houmous it's so good. Rather I find that people are very particular about their houmous and this one is very particular to me. I have tried making my own houmous so many times and have never been happy with it. It's either bland or too bitter, too much tahini, not smooth enough etc. The first time I tried this it was almost spot on perfect except for one strange flavour, I kept blaming the tahini and tried to adjust that but then realized it was the olive oil. Yes, I know it's traditionally what is used in houmous but I found the flavour too strong and unique here. I then thought I would check the ingredients in what has always been my favourite houmous - tesco's own label regular houmous (for real!) and yes, no olive oil - they just use vegetable oil.

So, I tried it again with vegetable oil and ... perfection! Well, for me, and my husband who concurs this is the best houmous he's had. It's very much like tesco's but with more flavour, like a pimped up version. I even tried to recreate their quantity of chickpeas vs tahini by percentage. Commitment. I also do one thing which is a bit of a time consuming hassle but worth it. I peel the chickpeas - yes, all of them. I think it makes for a smoother less bitter houmous. And of course, you can always replace the vegetable oil with olive oil here if it just seems sacrilegious to you without it ;-) I also wanted to keep the calories down in this but if you don't care about that and want an even creamier houmous you can double the oil and reduce the water to 1 Tbsp.

Note: I don't always peel, I only do this when the tinned chickpeas skins are already falling off when you wash them. Sometimes tins of chickpeas are smaller with tighter skins - I don't bother then.

200g drained, rinsed and peeled chickpeas (One 400g tin drained and rinsed)
50g tahini
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic - smallish, pureed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp water

Add everything but the oil and water to a food processor. Process until well mixed, stop a couple times to clean down the sides. Then while the processor is running on low add the oil, again stop a couple times to clean the sides. Again, with processor running slowly add the water. Increase speed till high and process until super creamy. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate. As it sits it may get thicker, I then add a few more drops water and beat well to get the creaminess back.

2012 Edit:  I have been making this all the time but the worst thing has happened. I appear to have developed an intolerance to chickpeas! Not to get into the details but through process of elimination they seem to be the culprits. As I couldn't imagine a life without houmous I made this using a tin of haricot (navy) beans and it turned out delicious! I really had trouble telling the difference and I had no reaction to it, you have no idea how happy this makes me :-)

I also made this with the Cannellini beans - the more traditional chickpea replacement in houmous and it was equally delicious. So if you have issues with chickpeas too or simply don't like them, this is a great alternative:

White Bean Houmous:

1 x 400g tin of haricot OR Cannellini beans, drained & rinsed. About 200-225g drained weight.
50g tahini
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt  (use less if your tinned beans are in salted water)
1 clove garlic, pureed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp water - optional, you may only need it if the houmous needs to be creamier.

Add everything but the oil to a food processor and process until creamy, then add the oil and process until super smooth and creamy. Add water if need be.

Nutritional Information: per 100g (chickpea version)
Calories: 232
Fat: 17.6g
Sat Fat: 1.8g
Protein: 6.8g
Fibre: 3.1g
Carbs: 13.5g
Sugar: 0.4g
Sodium: 515mg
Calcium: 41.7mg

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Friday 4 February 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

So I'm still on the 'diet' and it's still going well, just we all need a treat now and again, right?? I absolutely LOVE my regular scone recipe, we have them breakfast probably once a week. However I wanted to try replacing the vegetable fat (shortening) that I use in them with healthier extra virgin coconut oil. When cold it's a solid fat like shortening so should give the same lightness in the scones, but of course, would make the scones taste 'coconutty'. I just decided to embrace that and replaced the rice milk with organic coconut milk and through in some chocolate chips for that 'bounty bar like experience'. Altogether so happy with these, I cannot convey to you how amazing the kitchen smelled while these were cooking! Now, you may notice these don't have any actual coconut in them. That was quite deliberate on my part as I didn't want that texture in these - just a softly infused natural coconut flavour, the type you don't get from extract. However if you like, some dessicated coconut could certainly be added, about 1/3 cup or 30g would suffice at a guess.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones: makes 6 large triangles but I've also gotten 14 mini round scones here.

300g plain flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
50g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
80g extra virgin coconut oil, in the solid state*
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
200ml coconut milk - I used full fat as that was all I had, can use reduced fat
50g chocolate chips
60g dark chocolate, for drizzling on top

* First a note on the coconut oil. It must be in the solid state, mine was naturally firm in the cupboard so that I was able to cut it into the flour using a pastry cutter. Had it been chilled in the fridge I would have used my food processor to cut it into the flour. I once tried using my pastry cutter to cut fridge chilled coconut oil into flour before and it was so hard it dented my pastry cutter. My mom's almost antique pastry cutter. Was.not.happy. So if you are cutting it in by hand, make sure it's firm but not rock hard, otherwise use a processor.*

Preheat the oven to 190C/380F. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the coconut oil using a pastry cutter or by food processor until it is crumbly *see note above on this; stir in the chocolate chips. Mix together the coconut milk and vanilla then stir this into the flour. Mix quickly until it just comes together. Bring together into a ball and place on a floured surface. Shape into a large flat disc, about 1 1/2 " thick. Cut in half, then cut each half into thirds. It's most important you don't handle these very much - don't knead it or your scones will be heavy and tough. Place each triangle onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for about 20 minutes. You will have to toothpick test these as they don't go very golden, all that white coconut oil and milk I presume. Let cool on a wire rack. When hand cool simply melt your dark chocolate in the microwave, or in a bowl over simmering water, until melted. Use a teaspoon and drizzle back and forth over the scones. You could also just dip the entire tops in chocolate, the amount of chips in these is not excessive so they can take it!

We ate these as they are, without slicing open and spreading with marg and jam as they are sweet and yummy as they are, possibly more big cookie like than scone like, but I can see some raspberry jam mingling with the dark chocolate and coconut flavours there just fine :-)

These have also been linked up to the lovely Lisa's blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies as part of her 'Sweets for a Saturday' - go have a look at all the other yummy treats! :-)

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Wednesday 2 February 2011

Bloody Mary Minestrone

Vegan Bloody Mary Minestone

Ok, craaaaaap photo but this is so good we've had it for dinner now 3 nights in a row. Just a simple bean, pasta and veg soup but spiked with a little vodka and worcester sauce. I then added some ground almonds like from the vodka pasta recipe (nod to Veganomicon) to add some creaminess and body. 

Bloody Mary Minestrone 
serves 3 - 4

• 80g carrot, diced small - about 1 medium 
• 50g onion, diced small - 1/2 a medium
• 100g new potatoes, diced - about 2 small to medium sized ones.
• 1 stalk celery, diced small
• 1 large clove garlic, pureed
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
• 200g passata - about 200ml 
• 1/2 a 400g can of beans, I use flageolet or cannellini - about 3/4 cup
• 500ml veg stock, I made mine with 2 tsp marigold vegan granules
• 70g dry small pasta shapes - about a heaped 1/3 cup, I used orzo here, sometimes small macaroni or shells. 
• 1 Tbsp vodka
• 1 tsp vegan worcester sauce, I love Biona Organic 
• 1/2 tsp dry mixed herbs
• 1/4 tsp dry basil
• 2 Tbsp ground almonds/almond meal or flour
• freshly ground black pepper

First chop your carrots, celery, onion and potatoes and set aside. 

In a pyrex jug measure out the passata. Add to this the paste, vodka, worcester sauce, pureed garlic and herbs. In another jug make up your veg stock with hot water. 

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil up over low heat and add the veg. Fry with a few grinds of black pepper until the onions are soft, about 5 - 10 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and veg stock, stir well and bring to the boil.

Add the pasta and stir well, pop the lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes. Now, it may have been my stainless steel pot but I did have a terrible time with the pasta initially sticking while this was cooking and had to stir quite often. Just something to keep in mind - don't just leave it for 20 minutes! It tends to only stick in the beginning.

When there is 5 minutes left add the beans and stir well. When there is 2 minutes left add the ground almonds and stir well. You may need about 100ml more water near the end. Just make sure you add the extra water after the almonds as they will blend into the soup better when it's a bit thick.

Check seasoning - I don't need any salt in this as my veg stock is salty enough, but they are all different. If you do need some salt, celery salt would keep the bloody mary theme going. It's quite filling and satisfying as is with the pasta, beans and potato in there but as with all soups some bread wouldn't go amiss ;-)

Just a few notes:
♥ I parboiled the carrots the second time I made this as despite simmering for 20 minutes the first time, they were still crunchy.
♥ Passata is seived tomatoes, ingredients are 99.4% tomatoes, salt and citric acid and it is completely smooth - no lumps but NOT a paste.
♥  I used orzo for my pasta as I love it and the size and texture is perfect in this but any small pasta would do.
The flageolet beans are really perfect in this but any smallish bean would work.
Don't drink? Simply don't add the vodka ;-)

Nutritional Information: per 1/3 serving 

Calories: 248
Fat: 6.6g
Sat Fat: 0.9g
Protein: 8.7g
Fibre: 5.7g
Carbs: 37.3g
Sugars: 6.4g
Sodium: 783.2mg - will vary pending brand of stock

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