Saturday, 19 March 2011

Minted Green Bean and Gnocchi Salad

Finally a savoury dish!! And a healthy yummy one at that :-) This was delicious and is going on the regular summer salad rotation for sure, starting now of course - I'm not waiting till summer to have this again!! I've used store bought gnocchi here which is usually not vegan, most are made with eggs. For those in Ireland, Super Values own label ready made Gnocchi has no egg and is vegan! Yay! It's also very, very good. If you can't find ready made vegan gnocchi there are loads of recipes out there, looks dead easy too - just have a google :-)

I've essentially followed the recipe for BBC Good Food's Minted Green Bead salad, which had great reviews, but added the gnocchi. I had a bit left over and couldn't decide what to do with it but wanted to do something different than cooking it and adding a tomato sauce. Thought they would be really nice in a salad, as really they are potato! The combination of green beans and gnocchi went really well as did the balsamic vinegar, crispy fried garlic and fresh mint - gorgeous!

Serves 2: or 1 for main dish or if you're just rather peckish ;-)

150g trimmed weight green beans, washed and cut into about 1" pieces
168g fresh gnocchi
1/2 Tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 fat clove garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
pinch salt

First, heat up the 1 tsp of olive oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic, fry quickly until the garlic just starts to turn light brown. Scrape it all into a bowl and set aside to cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the green beans. Boil for 2 minutes then add the gnocchi, boil both for 3 minutes more. The beans should be just fork tender and the gnocchi should be floating now. Drain then gently rinse under cold water, I immersed mine in cold water to quickly cool as rinsing was a bit hard on the gnocchi. When hand cool let drain well. The gnocchi likes to stay a bit too wet so I tossed everything around in a clean dishcloth, just to get all excess water off. Now tip it all into a large bowl.

Now place the 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a small bowl and slowly add the balsamic vinegar, whisking all the while until incorporated. Stir in the mint and salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the dressing over the salad with a rubber spatula and gently toss. Now pour over the garlic and oil and toss again. Check seasoning and serve.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving of 2, will differ depending on brand of gnocchi.
Calories: 219
Fat: 6.2g
Sat Fat: 0.9g
Protein: 4.4g
Fibre: 4.5g
Sugar: 1.8g
Calcium: 31mg
Carbs: 37.1mg

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I've also been selected by the stylish Aine at Pea Soup Eats for a 'Stylish Blog Award'!! I feel very honoured to receive this from her as although I've only recently discovered her blog, it truly is a thing of beauty with loads of vegan yumminess!! It was a lovely surprise, so thank you again!!

Now I'm going to be the rebel I am and just post 5 here, but, completely keeping with the theme of the award, these are 5 of the the most stylish blogs out there. (vegan too of course ;-) The ones I am most jealous of and make me want to run off and take a photography and art class! Also, if she didn't already have two of these awards I would have added Pea Soup Eats here!

1. The Vegan Stoner
2. Madcap Cupcake
3. Vegan Visitor
4. The Gluttonous Vegan
5. Manifest Vegan

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Irish Potato Candy

vegan Irish potato candy

A fun treat to make with the kids this St. Patrick's day!

vegan Irish potato candy

A Happy St. Patrick's Day post to you all!! :-) Although I must first explain that there is nothing at all Irish about these. You might be thinking as I live in Ireland these are some sort of traditional sweet. No. I never even heard of them before but came across them online searching for something else entirely. They are a completely American invention but a cute and yummy one at that ;-)

**Edit!** Or so I thought!! The lovely Penny at Scottish Vegan Homemaker mentioned in the comments here she and her husband bought them as kids in Scotland in the 50 and 60's! So.... not American after all, their history is now a mystery!


Now, almost every recipe I read for these was different from the others but they all called for a coconut filling. I immediately knew what I would make mine with - my bounty bar recipe filling, for two reasons:

1. It's a sweet coconut filling and
2. Mine actually calls for potato!! Which means of course that my Irish potato candy is made with real Irish potatoes, which is pretty darn cool ;-)

Making these also meant I got to make my bounty bar filling again and take photos of all the steps which I didn't before. They are dead easy but it's nice to see what happens to the potato when you add the sugar. So, here we go:

Irish Potato Candy: makes about 11 small 'new potato' size sweets

2 Tbsp cold mashed potato
120g or 1 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
70g or 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
For coating:
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp icing sugar

First cook your potato, you will need about 1 medium sized potato, a floury type you would normally use for mash, not a new potato! You can peel it before boiling or after, doesn't matter, just make sure you do NOT salt the water :-) Boil for about 20 minutes or until very soft, drain and return to the pot. Let it sit on low heat about 1 minute to dry it out further then mash well. Set aside to cool or pop it in the fridge if your impatient, it cools down very fast. 
Now you want to push the mash through a fine mesh seive to get it extra smooth as you don't want any little potato bits in this:

Keep pressing it through until it's all out then scrape off the bottom of the seive to get it all out. Give it a good stir till smooth. Now measure out 2 Tbsp of the mash and place in a bowl.

Now the magic happens, actually no, it's not magic, it's purely scientific - add some of the icing sugar and stir well. The potato will almost immediately dissolve into liquid like this:

Keep adding and stirring in the icing sugar until it starts to thicken up like so:

Now add the coconut and stir well...

Keep stirring, how do you think I'm the one people come to when they need a pickle jar opened??

Add more icing sugar and or coconut until it comes together in a ball like so: don't worry if it seems 'loose' - the mixture stiffens up in the fridge later.

Now make your potatoes, I went for randomly shaped little new potatoes, each one there is about a tsp of mixture. Remember these are sweet candy so don't make them too big. If you are making bounty bars out of this just make them little bounty bar shapes instead. That's mounds to my North American friends ;-)

Now mix together the cinnamon, cocoa powder and icing sugar and roll the potatoes generously in this. Also don't worry if this mixture seems a little bitter, the sweetness of the filling counters them quite nicely.

Now if you like pop some pine nuts in for 'eyes' and chill in the fridge for an hour or so then enjoy :-)

Also, those little dirty looking spuds reminded me of a sign at my old favourite farm shop back in England:

Love it!!! :-D

Nutritional Information: 1 'potato' based on making 11
Calories: 111
Fat: 5.5g
Sat Fat: 4.9g
Protein: 0.9g
Sugar: 11.4g
Fibre: 1.7g

Vegan Bounty Bars

Monday, 7 March 2011

Raspberry Almond Clafoutis - Soy Free

Vegan Clafoutis

I mentioned I picked up some almond cream in the post below and this was another test with it. Again, I know the almond cream can be hard to find so I have also made this with soy cream in place of the almond and it was just as good. In that version I also used the more traditional cherries, it was good but I do have a love of raspberries and almonds together so this is my preferred version. A clafoutis might seem to be a difficult thing to veganise but I found this egg replacer worked really well. It had that similar texture of an egg based clafoutis but more importantly tasted great. It's also quite a light dessert which is nice :-)

Soy Free Vegan Raspberry Almond Clafoutis - serves 6

50g plain flour
15g gram or chickpea flour
1/4 tsp salt
100g caster sugar
90ml almond cream
90ml rice or almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
80g fresh raspberries
-2 'eggs'-
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
100ml water
2 tsp vegetable oil

vegan margarine to grease
icing sugar and sliced almonds to serve

Preheat the oven to 220C. Grease an 8 or 9 inch pie plate well with vegan margarine and put it in the oven to get hot. Next make up your 'eggs' - whisk the cornstarch, baking powder and xantham gum together. Mix the oil and water together. Slowly add the liquid to the dry whisking all the while. When all added give it a good whisk until it thickens up and is a little frothy. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flours and salt. In another bowl whisk together the almond cream, milk, sugar and extracts. Give your 'eggs' another good whisk then add this and the liquid to the dry and whisk well, until slightly thick and well blended. Remove the hot pie plate from the oven and pour the batter into it. Drop your raspberries into the batter, well spaced out. Place back in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until puffed, set and edges are turning brown.

Vegan Clafoutis

Let cool on a wire rack then dust generously with icing sugar. Serve with extra raspberries and sliced toasted almonds if you like.

Vegan Calfoutis

Nutritional Information: - Based on 1 serving out of 6
Calories: 161
Fat: 3.7g
Sat Fat: 0.4g
Protein: 1.7g
Carbs: 30.8g
Sugar: 18.3g
Fibre: 1.9g
Calcium: 53mg
Sodium: 146mg

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Berry Almond Muffins

Vegan Berry Almond Muffins

So I've been messing about with muffins lately and am quite in love with these. They are light yet super moist and taste fantastic - best muffins I've made. They are quite versatile, so versatile they were almost a 'Back to Basics' post :-) I first made them raspberry almond and loved them, as I do love raspberries and don't bake with them enough. I never got a photo of them though as they were too yummy! 

These are just as good, classic blueberry muffins with a hint of almond extract. I picked up some almond cream down in the Quay Co-op in Cork. I had never seen it before and was keen to try it. The first batch was with full almond cream and fantastic. The second batch I used half soy cream, half rice milk and honestly was just as good - I couldn't tell the difference. Which is good as I assume this almond cream will be hard to find ;-)

Berry Almond Muffins - makes about 10

200g plain flour
100g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100ml soy cream and 100ml rice milk OR 200ml almond cream
100ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
130g fresh or frozen berries - raspberries particularly good!

Line or grease 10 muffin tins or cases. Preheat the oven to 190C. Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside. Whisk all wet ingredients together then pour over dry ingredients and fold in quickly with a spatula - do not overmix, lumps are ok. Spoon in to muffin tin or cases about 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until slightly golden and springy to the touch. Let cool on rack in tin for 10 minutes then remove from tin to fully cool. Dust with powdered sugar if you like.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 muffin out of 10

Calories: 225
Protein: 2.3g
Fat: 11.4g
Sat Fat: 0.9g
Fibre: 1g
Carbs: 28.5g
Sugar: 11.8g
Sodium: 134.8mg
Calcium: 82.9mg

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