Saturday, 29 October 2011


Vegan Barmbrack

Happy Halloween!! Vegan Irish Stylie!! ;-)

Vegan Barmbrack

So, a slight change from my previous Creepy Halloween Food post from a couple years back ;-)

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish Halloween yeast bread made with raisins and sultanas, slightly sweet and spiced with mixed spice and so very yummy. Traditionally various objects were baked into the brack and used to tell ones fortune: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring. Since we have moved back to Ireland my husband has been pretty outraged that the barmbrack for sale in the shops have only carried the ring. In his day all the items were there and I got it into my head to not only make one but to make it vegan (of course) and add ALL the items, just for him.

Then I read what the pieces mean if you were to find one:

The Pea - the person would not marry
The Cloth - the person would have bad luck or would be poor
The Coin - the person would have good fortune or be wealthy
The Ring - the person would wed within the year
The Stick - "to beat one's wife with" (would have an unhappy marriage) :-O

Yes, you read that last one right, suddenly it became apparent why the modern ones just go with the ring! Blimey. I also decided that it would be much easier to just shove a ring in there than all the other stuff. So apologies to my husband who was hoping for a proper traditional "Báirín Breac" but I think that stick is best left out of the bread ;-) I was also not very comfortable baking a ring in there so I inserted a very well washed plain old ring of mine deep into the bread after it baked and cooled with a wooden skewer.

Vegan Barmbrack

Vegan Barmbrack: makes one large loaf

500ml strong black tea
140g sultanas
140g raisins
250ml dairy free milk, I use Kara Coconut Milk
100g vegan butter
520g - 600g plain flour
75g sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 package instant yeast

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the tea for at least 1 hour, it can even be left overnight.

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly, if you have a thermometer you want it to be between 120F and 130F. If you don't have a thermometer you want it to be hand hot, if you stick your finger in it's hot but you can leave it in there comfortably.

In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, spice and yeast and give it a whisk. Pour in the milk/butter mixture then with the dough hook attached knead for 5 - 8 minutes until you have a ball of dough, slightly sticky. Do the same if kneading by hand then transfer to a floured surface.

Drain the fruit well and add to the dough a small amount at a time kneading the fruit in. Continue until all the fruit is added, it may seem like it won't all go in but just keep at it. Meanwhile keep adding more flour when it gets sticky. Once all the fruit is added and you have a nice non-sticky ball of dough transfer to a greased bowl, grease the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with cling film and place in a warm place to double in bulk, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Give it a few more kneads, shape into a large flatish ball then place in a greased 8" cake pan. Loosely cover the surface with greased cling film and place in a warm place again for about 1/2 hour until risen slightly again, it should fill out the pan.

Preheat the oven to 200C and pop the bread in. Bake for between 35 - 45 minutes, or until golden brown, risen and it should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then insert the ring (if using) with a wooden skewer then slice and serve with vegan butter. It's also beautiful lightly toasted the next day, spread with butter for breakfast with a nice mug of tea. :-)

Vegan Barmbrack

Friday, 21 October 2011

Chilli Roasted Butternut Squash with Soba Noodles and a Creamy Miso-Tahini Sauce

Chilli Roasted Butternut Squash with Soba Noodles and a Miso-Tahini Sauce

You know what I love about this dish? Besides it being absolutely delicious of course, is that it's one of those dishes only a vegan could come up with... Ok, maybe that's a bit bold of a statement, but: miso, tahini, soba, squash, chilli, mirin....I love that we can and do brazingly use such ingredients together. I'll say it again, my food repertoire has skyrocketed since turning vegan and I love it. Back when I was vegetarian this squash probably would have been with spaghetti and a cream sauce. This dish proves that being forced to think outside the box definitely has it's advantages.

The butternut squash is roasted with olive oil, bit of thyme, salt and lots of chilli, the natural sweetness of the squash comes out here to balance the heat. Another counter to the heat is the sauce: sweet white miso with a touch of sweet mirin balances really well with the chilli squash. Oh and it's amazing too, super creamy and sublime! Then the nutty tahini and soba noodles simply add another taste dimension here and brings it all together.

For a fancy looking dish this was so easy to put together and feels like it has more calories than it does. With all the lovely butternut squash in the shops right now it's a perfect autumn dinner. The garnish of black sesame seeds and chives are entirely optional but do make a really nice touch.

A note about the chilli, I initially used 1 tsp as I've written in the recipe here but that was probably my heat limit here. You might want to use 3/4 tsp if you don't like things too hot, although I am a bit of a heat wimp!

Chilli Roasted Butternut Squash with Soba Noodles and a Miso-Tahini Sauce

Chilli Roasted Butternut Squash with Soba Noodles and a Creamy Miso-Tahini Sauce: serves 2

1/2 a med/large butternut squash. I used about 380g prepared weight
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/8 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp sweet white miso
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1/2 Tbsp mirin
1/2 clove garlic, pureed
1/8 tsp salt
50 - 100ml water

100g dry weight soba noodles

fresh chives
black sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 220C. To prepare the squash, slice it in half lengthways then scoop out any seeds and fibrous parts. Next slice it into 1 " slices. Peel these slices then chop them into chunks, about the size you in the picture there. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, thyme, salt and chilli flakes. Tip the squash into a roasting tin then pour over the oil. Toss it well until the squash is well coated then pop it in the oven. Roast for about 20 - 30 minutes giving the pan a shake now and again. I also pulled it out and turned each squash about halfway through as shaking wasn't flipping them over. You want them soft and some edges getting nicely charred.

Meanwhile cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. You want them warm here so don't do it too early, they tend to only take about 6-7 minutes to cook.

For the sauce simply add everything but the water to a small saucepan and bring to heat stirring all the while. Add the water, 50 ml first then add more if needed until it is a thick yet pourable sauce. Taste and check seasoning.

When everything is ready simply place the soba noodles onto plates, top with the squash then spoon over the sauce, you probably won't need all of it here so you can leave any extra on the table for family/guests to add more if they like. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh chives and black sesame seeds and serve warm.

Source: Sauce recipe based on Clearspring's Miso-Tahini Dressing.

Chilli Roasted Butternut Squash with Soba Noodles and a Miso-Tahini Sauce

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving
Calories: 443
Fat: 16.2g
Sat Fat: 2.2g
Protein: 11.9g
Fibre: 6.1g
Carbs: 67.9g
Sugar: 6.7g
Sodium: 1312mg
Calcium: 114mg

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cranberry Almond Tea Cake

Cranberry studded almond infused cake with a simple almond glaze.

This was always one of my favourite tea cakes and is on my old vegetarian blog, why it has taken me so long to veganize it I don't know! I kept the veganizing pretty simple here, threw in some cornstarch to help bind and increased the baking powder to help rise, then of course swapped the milk with dairy free and the butter with vegan butter. Simple. It turned out fantastic too, great flavour and lovely texture, light yet moist and no gumminess at all. 

My original version had chopped almonds on top and the glaze just drizzled on top. I was unable to put nuts on top due to this batter being runnier than the last so opted for a whole covering glaze instead. It was a good call as I like this even better :-)

Cranberry Almond Tea Cake:

260g flour
120g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
175ml dairy free milk
4 Tbsp cornstarch
110g vegan butter, melted
2 tsp natural almond extract
100g sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup or 75g icing sugar
1 Tbsp dairy free milk
1/2 tsp natural almond extract

Grease an 8.5" x 4.5" x 2" loaf pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190C.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cranberries in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together the cornstarch and milk until dissolved and no lumps remain. Whisk in the almond extract then slowly whisk in the melted butter until well blended. Pour the liquid over the dry and mix with a rubber spatula in a folding motion until just combined - do not overmix.

Pour into the prepared tin then bake for about 45 minutes or until risen, golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with dry crumbs on it. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove to cool completely on the wire rack.

For the glaze simply whisk everything together and spoon over the top of the loaf pushing it out gently over the sides. Make sure the cake is no longer warm when you do this. Allow the glaze to set then slice and serve! Beautiful with tea :-)

*Sigh* Blogging with a Doctor Who mad child running around. THIS is why you never see the "larger picture" with my photos! 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Gateau

Vegan Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Cake

Light and fluffy chocolate cake, scattering of Frangelico candied hazelnuts and topped with silky smooth Frangelico Chocolate Mousse - heaven!

Vegan Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Cake

Oh my this was good! Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile might recognize some aspects of it as it is a variation on the Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake that I made for my son's 8th birthday.  I was inspired to do 2 large layers of cake and mousse from BBC Good Food. They had this Chocolate Cherry Mousse cake as their cake of the week and it just looked too good. I love cherry flavours but my husband doesn't so I opted for his favourite flavour of hazelnut using Frangelico. He was away in London at the time and thought it would be a nice 'welcome home cake; ;-) I have made my mousse with Frangelico before with the Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart and knew it turns out really nice. For the cake I stuck with my standard chocolate cake recipe, it's just the traditional 'wacky cake' recipe that's out there. It has a fantastic moist yet light and fluffy texture and always turns out well.

The Frangelico candied hazelnuts were entirely my addition and creation and honestly, they make this cake. I have always loved the maple candied pecans from Veganomicon and have used them in many recipes, as well as just to snack on. I wanted to candy some hazelnuts for this cake but didn't want maple flavour here. I started to wonder if you could candy nuts with liquere but was worried there wouldn't be enough sugar in them to candy. Well, there is and they turned out beautiful! Nicely roasted then crisply coated in Frangelico but not too sweet making them a perfect addition between layers of cake and mousse. While eating this cake the best bites definitely had the nuts in them.

As for layering the nuts between the cake and mousse, this was flavour wise the best place for them as it meant you can get all three layers while eating...BUT...they do cause the mousse to seperate from the cake when serving on a plate. If you are making this for guests and are worried about that then just sprinkle the nuts over top instead. Whatever you do, do not omit those nuts! They really do bring this cake together into something very special indeed.

Now the mousse....I have made this mousse many times, in the Double Chocolate Mousse Layer cake, the Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart, Chocolate Mousse Dome Cake and many other times when we just wanted mousse for dessert. In all my instructions I always say to wait until the chocolate cools to room temperature before adding to the whipped soy cream or else it will seize up and you will get little flakes of chocolate in your mousse. This happened to me the first time I made this. I got cocky. I thought, "I've made this loads of times and it's never happened....." Yes, because I usually listen to my own instructions!! *Sigh* So please, do I as I say not as I do here and wait. Be patient. The chocolate must be closer in temperature to the whipped cream. I'm glad I didn't dump this and start again though as even though you could see flecks, it did not affect the taste at all, nor could you feel them while eating. I still had a perfect tasting mousse, it just didn't look as smooth as it should have. Oh, and this is proper mousse here - not pudding, it really has that moussy texture!

Vegan Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Cake

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Light and Fluffy Pull Apart Rolls

Rosemary Pull Apart Rolls
Rosemary and Smoked Sea Salt

Garlic and Herb Pull Apart Rolls
Garlic and Herb

Dilled Cheeze and Onion Pinwheels
Dilled Cheeze and Onion Pinwheels

Well, as promised here is the pull apart roll recipe from the Puy Lentil Soup post below. These are all absolutely gorgeous and are going in the same blog post here as they are all based on the same basic recipe.

It's such a versatile recipe and the possibilities are endless but these are a few I've made with it so far and loved. Their texture is just stunning, really light and fluffy,such a joy to tear them away from each other! (That sounds awful!) They are really easy too and I've been whipping these up to go with homemade soups and my son loves the garlic and herb ones as a snack after school ;-)

Rosemary Pull Apart Rolls

2013 edit - I also used this recipe to make these cute bunny rolls to go with our Easter dinner! Instructions below...

Puy Lentil Soup with Rosemary Pull Apart Rolls


Well, I really just whipped up this soup so I had something to go with these stunning rolls, or rather, to stop myself eating a tray of freshly baked fluffy buns! That being said, it turned out really nice and is a soup I will certainly make again. Beautiful roll recipe post coming next ;-) ! *Edit - here it is!*

Puy Lentil Soup:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced, about 130g
2 shallots diced, about 40g
2 small leeks, sliced, about 100g
2 smallish new potatoes diced, about 150g
4 cloves garlic, pureed
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock, I made mine with 1 oxo cube
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
100g dry weight puy lentils, about 1/2 cup
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt, or to taste, can use regular salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped - optional

First give the lentils a good wash then place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and fast boil for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Add the carrots and potatoes and fry on low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic with 1 minute remaining and stir well. Add the stock, tomatoes, herbs and lentils stir well, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the veg and lentils are soft. Stir in the smoked sea salt to taste and parsley if using.

Puy Lentil Soup

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Curried Carrot, Zucchini and Almond Feta Fritters

With homemade ketchup! 
(But I can't share the recipe yet as it needs tweaking, but was still very good)

This recipe is based on one in a quite old vegetarian cookbook I've had for years. I made them once before back when we were vegetarian and absolutely loved them. It's one of those flavour combinations I never would have thought up - curry with feta and poppy seeds?? It's odd but they were so, so good! I haven't' thought about having a go with them again since being vegan as they had egg and feta cheese, but since discovering that almond feta I have been on a quest to veganize them.

It's taken a few go's to be fair but I have finally gotten there. The problem was getting them to hold together and not stick to the pan whilst cooking, which I recall even being an issue with the egg based version. I got around it all but draining the grated carrot and zucchini well so they are not so wet, and crucially, taking the idea from my veganized Gardenburger post, oven baking the fritters first till they dry out and can hold their shape then frying until crisp and golden brown. Worked perfectly, even if that first flip out of the oven can be a little precarious!