Friday 27 January 2012

Pan Fried Chive Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis

Vegan Gnocchi

Vegan Gnocchi

Oh my this was good, and  it would make a great Valentine's meal, especially with some homemade Garlic Bread ;-) Or any day of the week as it's been kid approved too - my son loved this and he's never liked store bought gnocchi, so yay for homemade!

I do love gnocchi and you can buy vegan ready made gnocchi in the shops, at least I was able to in London when we lived there and here in Ireland Super-Value's own label gnocchi does just happen to be vegan. But I've always wanted to make my own and was inspired here from watching Catherine Fulvio make this Spinach Gnocchi on her fab cooking show awhile back.

Not only did she make it look so easy but I loved the idea of adding chopped spinach to the dough and I really loved the way she just cut them into rustic diagonal shapes as opposed to the traditional forked orbs you usually see. It might just be me, but as much as I love gnocchi that look and shape always made me think of bugs and it put me off slightly! I think this is a much more pleasing shape and look :-)

As you can see I opted for chives instead of spinach here, I love spinach but chives and potato are just such a classic combination. The further step of pan frying was just a thought I had, I think I must be missing pierogi's (common in British Columbia) because I was craving that slightly crisp buttery outer layer you get when you fry them in butter after boiling.  Delicious!

I debated for a long time what kind of sauce to serve this with, I already have some great sauces on here that I thought of using like the Creamy Tomato Sauce or the Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce would both be great but not one to pass up an opportunity to create a new sauce, made this one up. It does go really well with the chive gnocchi with rich tomato and subtle sun-dried tomato flavours and I love the smoothness of it. 

A good tip here is to make the sauce in advance, either the day before or earlier in the day then it simply needs heating up once you fry the gnocchi. If the sauce has thickened up too much just add some water, it has so much flavour in it it can take it!

Vegan Gnocchi

Pan Fried Chive Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis - serves 4

600g potatoes, about 4 large, I used regular white mashing potatoes here of uniform size.
150g '00' pasta flour or 1 1/4 cups
1 Tbsp potato starch (can use cornstarch)
1 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
10g or 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped (I've also used finely chopped spring onion)
~ vegan butter to fry ~

Place the potatoes, whole and unpeeled into a large pot and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook until the centres are tender, I tested with a knife, this took about 30 minutes but will depend on the size of your potatoes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Drain and then peel the potatoes while hot. This is easiest done with a fork to hold them and a knife, unless you have unfeeling callous prone hands! The skins should just fall off.

Place the potatoes into a oven safe dish and just break them up a bit, cover the dish with foil and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. I have added this step to Catherine's recipe as it's recommended by Giorgio Locatelli in his gnocchi recipe to help dry out the potato. It's also good to finish off cooking the centres of the potatoes if they are not quite cooked after boiling.

Remove the dish and foil and mash really well. The Giorgio Locatelli recipe said to push the potato through a sieve but I know from experience this takes a long time and arms of steel. Thankfully Catherine's recipe didn't say to do this so I was happy to omit it.

Measure out 500g of the potato and place in a large bowl (I cook 600g to make sure I end up with 500g as you will lose some while cooking, peeling and mashing.) Mix together the potato starch and water (this will replace the egg as a binder in the recipe) and add it to the potato with 100g of the flour (about 3/4 cups) or enough to make a dough . Mix well then add the salt, pepper and chives. Taste and season as you see fit and transfer to a flour dusted surface (using some of the remaining flour.)

Knead the dough adding more of the remaining flour until you have a pliable dough, you will most likely need all of the flour stated. Divide this dough into 4 equal pieces:

Using your fingertips roll each piece out to a rope about 2" thick (sorry, didn't get a picture at this stage!) Then cut the rope into about 2" size diagonal pieces and keep on a floured surface, don't let them touch each other too so they don't stick.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and drop the gnocchi in, give it a stir then let them boil for about 3 minutes or until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and either place in a pot with sauce and stir to coat OR get a non-stick frying pan hot then add some vegan butter, when it melts add the gnocchi and fry, tossing the gnocchi about by shaking the pan until they are golden and crisp on both sides. Note: if you don't use a non-stick pan and grease it these will stick!

Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis

400g passata ( 1 3/4 cups) this is sieved tomato sauce
60g shallots, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic, about 2 large cloves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Gently fry the shallots and garlic in the olive oil with a few grinds of black pepper until the shallots are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add the passata and sun-dried tomato puree, stir, then simmer on a low heat with the lid on for about 10 - 15 minutes. Let cool slightly then scrape it all into a blender and blitz until super smooth, transfer back to the pot and either use right away or let cool to reheat later.

Notes: First, the sun-dried tomato puree I use comes in a tube, it's by Epicure and has salt, chilli, oregano, capers, garlic and oil added. Second, the passata I use also has salt added, because of both these I haven't added any salt here as it didn't need any more. Depending on your brand of passata or puree you made need to add salt, just go by taste.

To serve, spoon some of the Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis onto a plate and place the gnocchi over top, scatter with fresh chives and serve. We found this a satisfying meal on it's own but my Garlic Bread would be a lovely side to this, especially to mop up some of that delicious leftover sauce!

Vegan Gnocchi

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 4, fried gnocchi and sauce.

Calories: 380
Protein: 9.6g
Fat: 12.1g
Sat Fat: 1.3g
Fibre: 4.7g
Carbs: 60.7g
Sugar: 7.4g
Sodium: 413mg

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Tuesday 24 January 2012

Cumin Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Wrap with a Chilli Lime Yogurt Dressing

So I don't think I mentioned it but I got a lot of great foody gifts for Christmas this year. People know me so well ;-) I got Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Bible Cookbook, which I can't wait to delve into, The Flavour Thesauraus which is very interesting, a spice grinder, the waffle maker of course and "Plate to Pixel"  a book on food photography by Helen Dujardin who blogs at Tartelette. It has fantastic tips in there that I am already utilizing and I will hopefully get my photos as best I can with a point and shoot camera. Oh DSLR one day you will be mine!

As well as being a great reference book there are a few recipes in it to accompany the photos and one of them was a sweet potato and black bean wrap. Of course being a book on food photography it just looked stunning and as I had a huge bag of sweet potatoes to make my way through I instantly set about veganizing and making it my own.

This was so delicious and satisfying, I absolutely loved the cumin roasted sweet potato in there with the black beans - which might just be my new favourite bean (watch out Mr. Flageolet!) They both went beautifully with the Chilli Lime Yogurt Dressing which is basically soy yogurt, lime juice and zest and a bit of this spicy inferno chilli sauce by Mic's Chilli - an Irish company, yay!

I just love the bottle - how cute is that label?!?! As you can see, I bought the 'lite' and OMG it is still fierce!! I dare think what the full strength is like, but then again, I'm not the strongest when it comes to spice ;-) This sauce went so well in this as I definitely picked up flavours of cumin in it, it's very 'Mexican' flavoured but as this specific sauce will be hard to find for those outside of Ireland any spicy chilli sauce would do, possibly even Tabasco.

Cumin Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Wrap with a Chilli Lime Yogurt Dressing: 
makes 1 wrap

1 small sweet potato, about 100g peeled
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp salt
1 spring onion, chopped
40g drained and rinsed tinned black beans, about 1/4 cup
50g soy yogurt, about 3 Tbsp
lime zest
1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chilli sauce
1 large wholemeal wrap

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F. Peel and dice the sweet potato fairly small, remember this is going in a wrap so you don't want them too big.

Place the sweet potato in a small bowl and toss with the olive oil, cumin seeds and salt. Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, tossing them once. They should be fork tender and some edges turning golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Make your dressing by simply whisking everything together. Cover and chill in the fridge if you have done this beforehand. The soy yogurt does make this fairly runny, using tofutti sour cream would give you a thicker sauce but I'm trying to use ingredients these days that more people can buy, and I'm hoping soy yogurt is more readily available than sour cream. That being said, both will work here.

Take your wrap and heat it gently on a dry non stick frying pan, just until warm as this will make it more pliable to wrap.

Lay it out and place your sweet potato (make sure you add any wayward cumin seeds) down the centre and leave a space at the bottom for wrapping. Lay the beans beside the sweet potato then spoon over some dressing and finally sprinkle over the spring onion.

Fold the end over then roll the wrap up and enjoy! I had mine with some extra dressing near by to spoon over as I ate simply because I love that dressing ;-)

Nutritional Information: approx based on 1 wrap, will vary depending on brand/size of wrap and how much dressing used.

Calories: 391
Fat: 13.5g
Sat Fat: 3.7g
Fibre: 10.3g
Carbs: 58.1g
Sugar: 5.6g
Protein: 11.2g

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Thursday 19 January 2012

Healthy Wholemeal Waffles with Bananas, Pecans and Maple Syrup

Wholemeal or Wholewheat Vegan Waffles
Ok, if these don't get you up and going in the morning nothing will!

Wholemeal or Wholewheat Vegan Waffles

Well, as you know I got a waffle maker for Christmas and have been loving it, I've been making loads of plain waffles and freezing them, great for my son in the mornings as they can just be popped in the toaster for a quick and yummy breakfast. However, as mentioned at the start of the year I have also been aiming at eating healthier this year, mostly with less sugar but also really cutting back on the white flour and white sugar.

So I thought I would have a go at making my standard waffle recipe healthier and it turned out fantastic. These contain all wholemeal or whole wheat flour, are sweetened only with maple syrup (in the batter as well) and I have replaced the vegetable oil with extra virgin coconut oil. I'm sure there are healthy fat free waffle recipes out there but I'm not part of the fat free brigade, although that's probably a blog post on it's own so I'll leave it at that!

The waffles are delicious. They are sweet enough and although I thought the wholemeal flour would be weird here it's not at all. They don't taste of coconut either from the oil but simply have a wonderful flavour and texture. To up the nutrition I always serve these ones with slices of banana and some chopped pecans or walnuts and a minimum amount of maple syrup on top, less than you see in the picture here - more poured out while I was trying to get that classic "syrup pouring over top of waffles action shot" ;-)

Healthy Wholemeal Waffles: makes 4 rounds from a 6" waffle maker

280g wholemeal or wholewheat flour, that's 2 cups
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
300ml dairy free milk, I used soy here
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, in solid state
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml sparkling water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan add the milk and coconut oil and heat gently together until the coconut oil just melts then stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract and remove from heat. Pour this and the sparkling water over the dry ingredients and whisk until it all just comes together. Do not over mix, little lumps are ok - overmixing will yield tough, rubbery waffles.

Using a scoop pour onto your pre-heated and lightly greased waffle iron and cook according to your waffle makers instructions. The batter here is quite thick so don't be worried you've done something wrong. Once cooked remove and then you can spread them with a little vegan margarine or solid coconut oil, top with slices of banana, chopped toasted pecans or walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup and you'll be more than set up for the day!

Healthy Wholemeal Vegan Waffles

Nutritional Information: based on a serving of half a round, just waffles.
Calories: 219
Fat: 8.2g
Sat Fat: 6.1g
Fibre: 4.4g
Protein: 5.3g
Carbs: 32.8g
Sugar: 7.4g
Sodium: 301mg
Calcium: 180mg - depending on brand of milk used, mine is fortified.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Greek Style Orzo, Spinach and Almond Feta Bake

Well, I couldn't go far into 2012 without a recipe featuring the blessed almond feta could I? :-) This was a complete experiment but turned out so well and is a MUCH quicker and easier way of using the almond feta - no straining and no cheesecloth - you can use it immediately so it doesn't take days to make, just the same amount of time as any pasta dish would. After blitzing all the feta ingredients in the blender you just mix it with cooked orzo and spinach, also some fresh oregano and spring onion, spread it into a buttered casserole dish and bake it, skipping the straining step altogether. Brilliant.

The end result is something that tastes remarkably like spanakopita but with orzo instead of phillo and I almost called this an Orzo and Spinach Quiche as you slice the end result, it's not a saucy pasta dish, more like one of those pasta quiches, sans pastry ;-) Whatever you want to call it it's absolutely delicious and so super easy to make. You get pretty conservative servings out of this, mostly as it's rich and although the almond feta is pretty healthy it's also pretty calorific, so I cut 6 servings out of my 8" square baking dish. That being said both my husband and I were full and satisfied after this.

To balance the richness I served this with a simple fresh side salad, just crisp lettuce and tomatoes with this amazing mustard dill vinaigrette we've been loving lately. It's quite sharp - that's how I like it and goes absolutely perfectly with the pasta dish. 

** Update - this recipe is proving to be very versatile, read the comments to see changes others have made. I just made this again swapping the spinach with grated zucchini and the oregano with lots of fresh basil and it was just as good! I added the raw grated zucchini and basil to the cooked orzo and poured the sauce over then baked as per instructions. A delicious variation, somewhat light and "summery" :-) **

Greek Style Orzo, Spinach and Almond Feta Bake - serves 6

200g or 1 cup orzo, dry weight
200g chopped fresh spinach
4 spring onions, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

1 recipe Almond Feta:
150g ground almonds or 1 1/2 cups
60ml lemon juice or 1/4 cup
125ml water or 1/2 cup
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Get a large pot of salted water on the boil for the orzo and cook according to package instructions. Mine said to boil for 17 minutes and I cooked mine for 15, it was just al dente which is perfect as it'll get another cooking in the oven. Good thing about orzo is it seems to be pretty difficult to overcook ;-) When there is just a couple minutes left add the spinach and cook until it just wilts, it'll only take a minute if that. Drain it all together.

While it's cooking make the almond feta by simply placing everything in a blender and blitzing until super smooth.

Tip the orzo and spinach back into the pot and pour over the almond feta, add the chopped spring onions and fresh oregano and stir well. I added a splash more water here to make sure everything was coated and creamy, actually I added some water to the blender and turned it on to make sure I got all the feta stuck to the sides of the blender ;-)

Vegan butter up a casserole dish, any size that will look like the pasta will fit in will do, I used an 8" square dish. Sorry I got no photos of this, it's too dark at dinner time to take photos this time of year - you're seeing the leftovers for lunch here! Spoon the pasta into the dish, level off the top and pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes. It won't really change colour but the top will look dryer and it will be 'set', crucially what happens when you bake it is that graininess the almond feta has when first made goes away when baking, otherwise I would say just eat it without baking!

Slice into 6 servings, or less - up to you, but we found this a satisfying serving with the salad and I do highly recommend the mustard dill vinaigrette here, the sharpness and flavours of dill and mustard go so well together.

Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette:

2 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
couple grinds black pepper
chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

Measure the olive oil into a small bowl then slowly add the vinegar whisking all the while until the mixture is emulsified. Add the dijon, salt and pepper and whisk until thick-ish and creamy, there should be no specks of dijon left. Whisk in the dill. 

I opted for simple fresh lettuce here, you want something really crisp, romaine and butterhead would be a nice combination, add some chopped tomatoes and spoon over some dressing. The rest will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Source: Dressing based on Tea and Cookies Blog's brilliant ratio advice.

Nutritional Information - Orzo bake only, 1 slice out of 6
Calories: 341
Protein: 10.5g
Fat: 19.7g
Sat Fat: 2g
Fibre: 4.7g
Carbs: 33g
Sugars: 2g
Sodium: 519mg

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Tuesday 10 January 2012

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

These turned out so well and made such a lovely healthy meal with the salad and sauce, some lightly steamed broccoli or asparagus on the side would be a nice addition too. I rarely cook with quinoa, in fact I think this is only my second post using it, but have to say a cake or patty is a great way to use it. I also don't normally have sweet potato about, buying it only at Thanksgiving for some reason but found myself with a large bag of sweet potatoes recently and thinking what to do with them.

Everyone seems to love sweet potato and black beans together and we have been having some really nice spicy sweet potato, black bean and kale stews lately but I wanted to try something else and came up with this. The cakes are quite simple and just spices, onion, sweet potato and quinoa, I was going to add the black beans to them but thought a simple black bean salad on the side would be nicer. I'm glad I did as I absolutely love that salad and will be making it again on it's own, another great addition to the salad repertoire!

The sauce is simply soy yogurt, lemon juice and zest and fresh mint and goes perfectly with the spiced cakes. The idea though was that it would be a coolant to what was supposed to be a spicy cake but in the end mine were quite mild. Next time I would double the amount of chilli flakes and cayenne but I will post the original recipe here as they were still delicious without the heat and you can adjust to your own tastes.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes - makes 4 large cakes

100g quinoa, dry weight
500ml water
1 stock cube, I used Kallo Organic Vegetable
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated - I had 200g once grated
1 large onion, diced fine - about 150g
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt
fresh parsley, chopped

Rinse the quinoa really well and bring 500ml of water and the stock cube to a boil. Add the quinoa, stir, cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the stock is almost all absorbed, you don't actually want to cook the quinoa 'properly' here, it's essential it's slightly overcooked and dare I say, mushy? Reason being it's this mushiness that helps the cakes bind, the second time I made this I did cook the quinoa properly, so that it was fluffy with separated grains and the cakes did NOT hold together like they did this time, bit of a nightmare flipping ;-)

Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes then stir with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool, give it a stir now and again so it doesn't stick together.

Wash and peel the sweet potato then grate. I used a food processor with the grating attachment but you can do this with a hand grater. I then swapped the grater attachment for the blade and pulsed the sweet potato a few times just to chop up the strands, it makes it easier to make the cakes later if they are not so long, again, you can do this by hand with a knife. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic and measure out your spices.

Heat the olive oil in a large wok and add the sweet potato and onion, fry over medium to low heat until the onions are soft and transparent and the sweet potato is soft and cooked, they should also change colour to a softer yellow, about 10 minutes. When they are cooked add the garlic and spices and fry gently for 2 minutes. If you find the mixture dry and you have some spices cooked on the wok, add a splash of water to deglaze. 

Add this to the quinoa with some chopped fresh parsley and give it good stir, the mixture should be thick but fairly wet, something you won't think you can make patties with but it's ok, we're doing the bake then fry method here ;-)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Fill a 1/2 cup measure with the mixture, patting down slightly then invert onto the baking sheet. Using a fork gently press down on the mound to make a 1" thick large patty.  Repeat with the remaining mixture, you should get 4 large cakes out of this. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and carefully flip over, they will still be soft at this stage but you should be able to flip them, albeit carefully. Bake for another 15 minutes for the other side.

**Note, this is the same bake and fry method I have used for the Gardenburger recipe and there are step by step photos in that post for it. I also used the same method for the Curried Carrot, Zucchini and Almond Feta Fritters. It's a great method to get egg-less burgers to hold their shape and be fried :-)**

Now that they can hold their shape you can fry them, of course you can eat them now but they both taste and look better fried. Heat 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and simply fry on both sides until crisp and golden. They are already hot and cooked, you just want to crisp up the outside.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

That's it! We loved these with the lemon mint yogurt sauce and the black bean salad but I also had a leftover cake, gently reheated on a dry non stick pan, sliced in half and placed in a wholewheat pitta with the yogurt sauce and baby spinach and rocket - delicious!! (They would be nice in a wrap too but would be too soft for a burger bun.)

Wholemeal Pitta with a Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Patty and Lemon Mint Yogurt

Black Bean Salad - serves 2 or 3

150 - 200g drained and rinsed tinned black beans (for me it's one 400g tin)
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lime or lemon juice
little lime or lemon zest
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl add the olive oil then slowly add the vinegar, whisking all the while until it is emulsified, add the lemon or lime juice and whisk well, then add the salt and zest and mix well.

In a frying pan heat up a little olive oil, about a teaspoon and add the onion, bay leaf, clove and a grinding of black pepper until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the ground cumin and garlic and gently fry for another minute. Remove the bay leaf and whole clove.

Transfer to a bowl and add the black beans, give the dressing another whisk then pour over, toss well then leave to marinade and cool down in the fridge for a couple of hours.

**Edit: I just made this salad again with lime zest and juice instead of the lemon and a shallot instead of onion, all fantastic changes and stuffed the salad into a warm wholewheat pitta with some baby spinach - beautiful!**

Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce

130g plain soy yogurt, about 1/2 cup
2 tsp lemon juice
bit of lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Simply whisk all together.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cake with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

You know, recipe development isn't always straightforward!
~Click to Enlarge~

Nutritional Information: 

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cake - based on 1 cake prior to frying as it will vary depending on                               how much oil you use.

Calories: 192
Protein: 4.8g
Fat: 5.1g
Sat Fat: 0.7g
Carbs: 30.4g
Sugars: 3.7g
Fibre: 3.8g
Sodium: 478mg (depending on stock cube used)
Calcium: 37.8mg

Black Bean Salad - whole recipe

Calories: 270
Protein: 9.7g
Fat: 14.6g
Sat Fat: 2g
Carbs: 32.1g
Sugars: 3.5g
Fibre: 8.8g
Sodium: 1102mg
Calcium: 81.7mg

Lemon Mint Yogurt - this will pretty much just be the nutritional information on your brand of soy yogurt.

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Friday 6 January 2012

Back to Basics - Pancakes and Waffles

Vegan Pancakes
Proper Canadian style thick, light and fluffy pancakes!

Vegan Waffles
Guess what I got for Christmas??

Now I know I just said in my last post that I was going to be focusing on healthy eating, less baking and reducing my white flour and sugar this year and I assure you I haven't failed already! My standard pancake recipe is something I have been meaning to blog for years, we do after all have them once a week and have done so for a few years now. I even based the Carrot Cake Pancake recipe on this one and still didn't manage to blog it!

Well, this Christmas my lovely in-laws got me a waffle maker - something I've wanted for a long time and while there are a lot of vegan waffle recipes out there I just had to try my standard pancake recipe in it first, and guess what? They turned out beautifully! This gave me the perfect opportunity to not only finally blog the pancake recipe but a waffle one as well :-)

Funny thing about my pancake recipe, the waffle maker is a Gordon Ramsay one (yeah, I don't like him either!) and it came with a recipe book and his basic waffle recipe is almost identical to my pancake recipe but with eggs... if I had that recipe blogged already I'd have thought the dude copied me! :-D

Vegan Waffles

~Recipe Notes~

A few notes on the recipe, it uses sparkling water to help give lightness and rise by reacting with the baking powder. I always use the sparkling water at room temperature but I'm not sure chilled will make any difference. As for the milk, I've only used soy milk so far with the waffles, I have used soy, rice and coconut with the pancakes and they all work great but you get the thickest pancakes with soy milk (as in photo). This is down to the higher protein content in soy milk, almond milk is similarly high in protein and would work too :-)

Pancakes or Waffles - makes 5 seven inch round waffles or 10 medium / 15 small pancakes.

280g plain flour or 2 cups
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
30g caster sugar or 2 Tbsp, can also use granulated
300ml dairy free milk - see notes above
120ml sparkling water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the dry ingredients together. In a pyrex measuring jug mix together the milk, vanilla and oil give it a mix with a fork then pour over the dry ingredients. Now pour the sparkling water over and whisk the whole lot together gently until it all just comes together in a batter. Do not overmix or whisk until it is super smooth, little lumps are ok, over mixing will give you tough rubbery pancakes or waffles. I also like to add the sparkling water last like that so it first reacts with the flour and fizzes up, if you add it to the wet ingredients first I find it already loses some of it's fizz action.

For waffles simply use as per your waffle maker's instructions.

For pancakes I lightly grease non-stick pans and preheat, when hot pour on the batter, I like smaller pancakes and use a 1/3 cup scoop. 1/2 cup scoop will give you slightly bigger pancakes. When they start to bubble on top have a little peek underneath that they are golden brown then flip over. I usually turn the hob down to minumim when I flip to ensure these cook thoroughly, as they are quite thick you do have the risk of golden brown pancakes on both sides but with a raw, doughy centre - not good!

For both waffles or pancakes I always have the oven preheated quite low, 80 - 100C, and keep the cooked ones warm while I make the rest, then we can sit down and eat together :-)

These also freeze beautifully, for waffles just let them cool completely, separate into 4 wedges then place in freezer bags as you can toast them straight from the freezer for yummy instant vegan waffles! Just slather them with your vegan butter of choice and fill those little pockets with lots of maple syrup! We also like to have the pancakes with some raspberry jam, and have had the waffles with some raspberry compote that you see in the picture there, just some defrosted frozen raspberries mixed with some caster sugar - it makes it's own sauce, easy!

Vegan Waffles with Maple Syrup

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Tuesday 3 January 2012

Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap with Chilli Sauce

Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap with Chilli Sauce

Well, Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope you all had a great Christmas and holidays, we had a nice quiet relaxed one this year. As you can tell I decided to not blog over the holidays and as much as I love blogging, it was lovely! It's nice sometimes to not have to set up a photo shoot every time you eat ;-) Plus I got a nasty cold on Christmas Eve which is still plaguing me, gutted as I seriously have not had a cold in years! 

So it's on with the healthy eating! Of course we are always pretty healthy anyway, a wonderful side effect of being vegan, but I am going to make a concerted effort this year to reduce the sugar. This will mean less baking of course which is something I love but we really do need to cut back. So hopefully there will be a bit more healthy savoury dishes this year and maybe even some healthy baking options with wholegrain flour and no white refined sugars :-)

Now, this wrap has become one of our absolute favourites. Whenever we go into Cork we almost always get the Lebanese Houmous Salad Wrap, grilled, from Cafe Gusto. It's absolutely amazing and comes with this incredible chilli sauce which we almost always ask for more of it's so good! I knew pretty quickly I was going to have to try and recreate this wrap and this is my take on it. While it's certainly not spot on, it's pretty damn close and equally as delicious. 

The only thing I couldn't even get my head around was the chilli sauce, we contacted them to find out if it can be bought but they make their own. Thankfully I found something really close to it - Blue Dragon's Chilli and Garlic Sauce, it's more garlicky for sure but otherwise really close and really makes this wrap, I wouldn't have it without it. So if you can find that brand do pick it up if you make this, if not any smooth chilli sauce for dipping (i.e - not a lethally hot chilli sauce meant as an ingredient) should do well here.

Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap with Chilli Sauce
With the chilli sauce as a dip on the side, I  used to do these like this, now I tend to always put the sauce inside as it's easier to eat 

Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap with Chilli Sauce: 

50g couscous, dry weight
vegetable stock, cube or granules, I used 1/4 of a Kallo Organic Tomato and Herb Cube.
100ml water
red onion, diced - or shallots or spring onion.
tomato, diced
red or yellow pepper, diced 
cucumber, sliced thin and halved - optional
houmous, store bought or homemade
large wraps, any flavour, these are half white/wheat. Pitta bread would be nice too!

The wrap takes a little forward planning as you need to make the couscous first, I usually let it cool to room temperature but it's not essential, the wrap is being heated anyway. The quantity here makes enough for 3 wraps but it's nice to have leftover extra cooked couscous in the fridge so you can whip up this wrap quickly.

Bring the water and stock cube/granules to the boil. Measure out the couscous in a shallow wide dish and pour over the boiling stock, stir and quickly cover the dish with cling film and leave for 5 minutes to absorb the stock. Fluff with a fork then scrape into a bowl to let cool. Keep fluffing it now and again so it doesn't clump together.

Take a wrap and quickly warm it on a dry hot frying pan, this will make it more pliable to wrap. Place on a flat surface and add about 2 Tbsp or 30g of houmous, spread it out along the centre of the wrap. Spoon some couscous over the houmous, again about 2 Tbsp or 40g. Top this with the tomato, pepper, onion and cucumber. Top with lettuce now and wrap it up by first folding in the sides then rolling it up as tightly as you can. 

It's good to eat now but we love it toasted, to do this get a grill pan really hot and place it first seam side down and give it a gentle press, when it has grill lines flip it over and do the same on the other side. It's important that the pan is really hot here as you just want to quickly grill this, any longer and you'll end up with hot wilted lettuce, not a good thing!

Remove, slice with a serrated knife on the diagonal and serve with about a tablespoon of chilli sauce. Enjoy!

Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap with Chilli Sauce

Nutritional Information - approximately, depends on houmous and wraps used
based on 1 wrap with 1 Tbsp sauce.

Calories: 373
Protein: 9.2g
Fat: 15.8g
Sat Fat: 3.4g
Fibre: 3.9g
Carbs: 43.7g
Sugar: 5.9g
Sodium: 738 mg

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