Friday 18 October 2013

Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks

Vegan Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks - a no-bake cookie
So, if you follow the daily blog you'll know I've been loving these lately. Haystacks are a 'no-bake' cookie type confectionery that I had often growing up, usually with oats, cocoa, sugar and coconut. They've been around for AGES....there are even versions in a 1950's cookbook I have! To be honest, I forgot all about them until I saw them again on Pinterest but with peanut butter which was a new addition to me and I had to try them.
Vegan Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks - a no-bake cookie
Well, the peanut butter was definitely a welcome addition - they were gorgeous, but, I found myself missing the coconut. Haystacks for me must have coconut, SO, I threw some coconut in as well. I also swapped the vegan butter with coconut oil and upped the cocoa powder from the original recipe as I felt it needed it. 

Now, I'm so happy with these, great flavour and nice candy like, almost fudge like texture...and the best thing? They are so quick to whip up!! There have been many days the past couple of weeks I have needed something good, sweet and chocolatey and these have come to the rescue in no time at all. Perfect.

Recipe Notes

• Almost all recipes out there for these call for quick cooking oats. Honestly, I didn't bother and mine turn out fine. I do use Tesco value porridge oats though which have a very small flake which probably does make a difference. If you are not using that brand then you'll probably want to stick with quick cooking oats.
• I've used unsweetened peanut butter, soy milk and coconut here as there is enough sugar in them as is. If you use sweetened versions of those you may want to reduce the sugar a bit.
• If you use vegan butter in place of the coconut oil you can omit the salt.
Vegan Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks - a no-bake cookie

Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks

• 40g / 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp solid coconut oil (or vegan butter)
• 150g / 2/3 cups white sugar, I used caster
• 40ml / 1.5 fl oz unsweetened soy milk
• 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder - measure then sieve so there are no lumps.
• 40g / 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp unsweetened peanut butter
• 70g / ¾ cup oats* see notes above. 
• 20g / ¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• tiny pinch of salt

Line a chopping board or flat plate with baking or parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl add the oats, coconut, peanut butter and salt. Don't mix it - just set it aside.

In a small saucepan add the coconut oil, sugar, soy milk and cocoa powder. Stir and slowly bring to the boil, if it starts to boil before the coconut oil melts then turn the heat down. Keep stirring and once the oil and sugar have melted, turn the heat up to high to bring it to a rolling boil. Once at a rolling boil, stop stirring and let it boil for exactly 1 minute. Now, take it off the heat and give it a good stir until it is no longer foamy. Add the vanilla and mix well - it will sizzle a bit. Scrape it all into the oat mixture and quickly give it a really good mix until the peanut butter and everything is very well blended.

Working quickly as these will set pretty fast, take a tablespoon of the mixture and drop them onto the paper lined board/plate. Use another spoon to push them off - not your fingers as the mixture will be VERY hot! You should get 9 large haystacks out of this, or 12 smaller ones. Tip - get some hot water into the saucepan now for easy cleaning :-)

Once they are all on the sheet pop it into the fridge for them to cool and fully set. I've not timed this but they do actually set and cool pretty quickly. Usually I keep these in the fridge but they keep out of the fridge just fine too.

Vegan Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Coconut Haystacks - a no-bake cookie

Source: based on Chocolate Oatmeal No-bake Cookies from One More Moore.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 large haystack out of 9

Calories: 199
Protein: 3.6g
Carbs: 27g
Sugar: 17.1g
Fibre: 2.2g
Fat: 9.2g
Sat Fat: 6g
Sodium: 19.1mg

...more no-bake treats:
Bounty/Mounds Bars
Monkey Squares

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu & Mexican Rice

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mexican Rice.

This was a lovely meal! I've been wanting to try this chili cornmeal tofu since 2007. I kid you not, that might just be a new record for me....sigh, I do get around to things, eventually :-) 

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu

It was featured in a Canadian Living magazine back then as a coating for catfish but I thought it would make a really nice crispy coating for tofu and it does. Great flavour with a crispy crunchy coating, they were perfect dipped into some salsa. I used a soft but not silken tofu here (Cauldron brand for those in the UK/IRE) but I'm sure any non-silken tofu would work well. I opted to marinade mine in some vegetable stock for added flavour - I used my standard veg stock - Marigold Organic Vegan Vegetable Bouillon powder, but just use whatever stock you like.

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu and Mexican Rice.

The Mexican rice has been a standard in our house for months now. I got the recipe from FOOD.COM, (submitted by Pot Scrubber); as you can see it had an average rating of almost 5 stars and nearly 600 reviews so I knew it had to be good! It's absolutely gorgeous, great flavour but more importantly, amazing texture as you end up with perfectly separated grains of rice. 

Mexican Rice

I have made a few changes, mostly I reduced the amount of oil as I found it unnecessarily high and a little too oily the first time. I also used the option of a can of tomatoes over fresh as it's easier. I replace the cilantro with parsley, I know it's not traditional but I despise cilantro! For the chillies, I just use whatever chillies we happen to have growing in our poly-tunnel so I've used different chillies every time; as a result, sometimes it's hot, sometimes not! This time I also added a green pepper simply as I had one on hand but that is optional. Basically as long as you keep the amount of rice and liquids the same you can do what you like with this one.

Crispy Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu.

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu - serves 2.

• 200g tofu, soft or firm but not silken.
• 2 Tbsp cornmeal or dry polenta
• 2 Tbsp flour
• ½ tsp hot chili powder 
• ¼ tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp corn oil to fry
• 1 tsp vegetable stock to marinade
• salsa to dip
• fresh lime wedges to serve

Please note: The chilli powder I've used here is Schwartz brand Hot Chilli Powder. It's actually a mixture of: chilli pepper, cayenne, cumin, salt, oregano and garlic.

Mix the vegetable stock with a splash of hot water and stir until dissolved. Top up with 125ml of cold water and mix well. Set aside.

Slice the tofu into whatever shape you like, I went with sticks. Make sure they are not too thick, about an inch should do. Press the tofu between sheets of paper towel, changing the towel as necessary until the tofu is fairly dry, mine takes about an hour and a few changes of towel. Soft tofu will take longer than firm here.

Pierce the tofu a few times with a fork then place in a shallow dish and pour over the vegetable stock. Cover and let marinade for at least 1 hour, turning them once or twice.

Mix together the cornmeal, flour, chilli powder and salt then tip onto a plate. With one hand, remove a tofu stick out of the marinade and let the excess liquid drip off, place into the cornmeal mixture and using your other hand press the mixture onto all sides of the tofu. Continue with the rest of the sticks keeping one hand wet and the other dry - it's just tidier this way!

Tip - make sure you only coat the tofu right before you fry them, otherwise the mixture can get absorbed into the tofu and you won't get a nice crispy coating.

Heat the corn oil in a frying pan until hot then fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Transfer to a couple sheets of paper towel to drain away any excess oil.

Serve immediately with some salsa to dip into and a wedge of lime to squeeze over.

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice - serves 6 as a side dish/3 as a main.

• 1 can (400g) plum tomatoes with juice
• 1 large onion, diced

~ Add the whole tin of plum tomatoes and raw onion to a blender and blend until smooth~

• 225g white long grain rice
• 2 Tbsp corn oil
• 1 green pepper, diced small - optional
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 red chillies or jalapenos, finely chopped. (De-seeding is up to you!)
• 1 cup/ 250ml of the tomato/onion puree
• ¼ litre water mixed with 1 tsp marigold vegetable bouillon (or equivalent vegetable stock of your choice).
• ¾ tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley

~wedges of fresh lime and slices of avocado to serve~

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash the rice very well until the water runs clear. This step is very important to give you perfectly separated grains of rice - do not skip it! I put my rice in a fine sieve and place it in a bowl, fill it with water and wash the rice with my hands then lift the sieve out of the water, empty the bowl and repeat until the water is clear. I finish with placing the rice in the sieve under cold running water. Let the rice drain very well.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the rice. Fry on a gentle heat until the grains look fairly clear, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili and green peppers (if using) and fry for a few minutes more.

Add the tomato/onion purée, vegetable stock and salt and bring to the boil. Transfer to a large greased casserole dish with a lid - make sure there is room for the rice to expand. Now pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Give it a stir halfway through and stir in the finely chopped cilantro or parsley at the end. 

The rice should be perfectly cooked at this point with all liquid absorbed and nicely separated grains BUT all ovens are different. If there is still liquid left then cook it a bit longer; if it is dry but the rice is not cooked then add a bit more water and cook a bit longer.

Serve immediately with a wedge of lime to squeeze over. To store leftovers safely, spread the rice out onto a large plate and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a suitable sized container and get it into the fridge within 1 hour. Reheat well either in the microwave or on the stove top with a splash of water.

The rice is a perfect side dish to the chili-cornmeal crusted tofu and salsa, just serve with lime wedges and sliced avocado. A side salad wouldn't go amiss either!

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mexican Rice.

Nutritional Information

Chili-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu - 1 serving, including oil to fry:
Calories: 193
Protein: 9.8g
Fat: 10.8g
Sat Fat: 1.8g
Fibre: 2.1g
Carbs: 14.3g
Sugar: 0.8g
Sodium: 294mg
Calcium: 112mg

Mexican Rice - 1 side serving out of 6:
Calories: 215
Protein: 3.9g
Fat: 7.9g
Sat Fat: 1.2g
Fibre: 1.9g
Carbs: 32.6g
Sugar: 2.5g
Sodium: 461mg

Dessert Option
Coconut - Lime Bundt Cake

Sunday 29 September 2013

Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

Vegan Raspberry Bakewell Tarts
Flaky pastry, raspberry jam, moist almond cake and a vanilla glaze.

These came about quite accidentally. The other day while my husband was working in the garden he handed me a small bucket full of blackberries that just happen to grow wild in the bushes on our property. I had been massively craving a good old-fashioned berry pie for days so I very happily whipped up a blackberry pie (which was so pretty, really wish I took a picture!)

Anyway, I had some pastry leftover sitting in the fridge and thought I would make some tarts. The pastry is my standard pastry recipe with a little added sugar. The cake recipe more or less comes from this cherry bakewell cake recipe on BBC Good Food with a little veganizing and scaling down to make tarts.

They really are incredible, I've made them a few times now and they have become a firm family favourite.  Flaky pastry, raspberry jam and a moist almond cake topped with vanilla icing. Absolutely lovely :-) Scroll down for step by step photos!

Vegan Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

• 140g plain flour
• 1 Tbsp caster sugar
• ¼ tsp salt
• 75g vegan butter, frozen in blobs
• ½ tsp white vinegar
• 2- 2½ Tbsp ice cold water

• (about) 2 Tbsp Raspberry Jam

Almond Cake:
• 50g vegan butter
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 “egg” – 1 Tbsp cornflour, 1/8 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp oil, 50ml water
• 50g ground almonds
• 1/2 tsp almond extract
• 25g self-rising flour
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• Tiny pinch of salt

• 100g icing sugar
• ¼ tsp vanilla
• (about) ½ Tbsp water to make a thick glaze 

First, freeze the vegan butter, this will help the butter process into the flour properly and help make the pastry really flaky but you will need small blobs of butter instead of a solid block. Just drop teaspoons of butter onto a plate lined with cling film then freeze until the butter is firm and frozen, it will take a few hours.

Place the flour, sugar, salt and frozen butter in food processor. Process until it's like fine crumbs, transfer to a bowl thin stir in the vinegar and enough of the water so that it just comes together.Tip out onto board and shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour. 

*cheat code - just buy vegan friendly ready made shortcrust pastry. In the UK/IRE Jus-Rol brand is vegan (last I checked) *

Remove the pastry from the fridge and give it a little quick knead - this will make it easier to roll out. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles using a cookie cutter that is about the same width as your tart pan indents and place into tart pan. Return the pastry lined tart pan to the fridge to keep cool while the cake batter is made. 

Almond Cake:
Preheat oven to 180C/ Fan:160C. First make the "egg" - whisk together the cornflour, xanthan gum and baking powder. Slowly add the oil and water whisking all the while. Continue to whisk briskly until it is VERY thick. Then add the almond extract and whisk again.

Cream the butter and sugar together, beat in the "egg" and extract. Whisk in the ground almonds then fold in the flour, salt and baking powder. Spoon a small teaspoon of jam into each pastry case then spoon the cake batter over top of jam, spread it out so it covers the tart then bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden and firm to touch. Let fully cool in pan on a wire rack then remove the tarts to the wire rack. 

Vanilla Glaze:
Mix the icing sugar, water and vanilla until you have a very thick glaze, spoon over each tart and spread out gently just to the edges. The glaze should be thick enough that it doesn't run over the edges of the tarts but just runny enough that it will spread out. I drop a small tablespoon of the icing right in the centre of the tart then give it a gentle push out the edges with the back of a small spoon.

Yields 12 tarts.

Step by step photos! 
(well, except for the icing part - ooops!)
 Freeze the vegan butter into blobs for about 4 hours.

Add the flour to a food processor, then add the sugar.

Add the salt.

Add the frozen 'butter'.

Process just until it is crumbly.

Transfer to a bowl and add the ice water and vinegar, mix with a fork until you have a shaggy dough like this.

 Bring together into a disc.

Wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Whisk the "egg" ingredients together until thick, then add the almond extract.

Add  the "egg" to the creamed mixture. (Note how thick the 'egg' should look).

Whisk the "egg" into the creamed mixture.

Add the ground almonds.

Whisk in the ground almonds (ignore the spatula, I used that after!)

Add the flour, salt and baking powder.

Fold in gently with a spatula until just mixed.

Use a round cutter that is the same size as your tart pan as you don't want the pastry going all the way up the sides - that's for the cake!
Roll out the pastry and cut out circles.
Place each pastry circle into the tart pan. Note the different thickness in my tarts as I suck at re-rolling out dough consistently!
Fill each tart with a teaspoon of raspberry jam.
Top each tart with a small tablespoon of cake batter. It will be thick.
Spread the cake batter out, making sure it goes right to the edge of the pastry. The easiest way is to spread out from the centre using your 2 index fingers.
Bake for 30 minutes at 180C/ Fan:160C then leave to fully cool in the tin on a wire rack.
Once cool transfer to a wire rack then ice them....which I didn't get a photo of as it's messy business! Just drop a blob of the thick glaze in the centre of the tart and gently push it out to the edges. It should be thick enough that it doesn't run over the sides. If it does stop and add a bit more icing sugar to the mix.

Vegan Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

Wait for the glaze to set, pour yourself some tea or coffee and enjoy!

Vegan Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

Nutritional Information: per tart (out of 12)

Calories: 155
Protein: 1.7g
Fat: 7.7g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 20.5g
Sugar: 12.9g
Fibre: 1g
Sodium: 118mg

You Might Also Like:

French Fancies
Summer Berry and Almond
Cheesecake Tart

Monday 23 September 2013

World Food Café - Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey

Moros Y Cristianos and Mojo Sauce from the World Food Cafe Cookbook
Cuban Moros Y Cristianos with Mojo Sauce

So, my second cookbook review and recipe excerpt for you comes from Chris and Carolyn Caldicott's "World Food Café - Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey".

This is a simply stunning book, I mean look how gorgeous it is??
World Food Cafe, Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey.

From the back:
"This is vegetarian cooking at its most delicious and imaginative. For over twenty years Chris and Carolyn Caldicott have been travelling the world, collecting recipes from home kitchens, street stalls, restaurants and roadside cafés - as well as taking atmospheric photographs and picking up travellers tales.
World Food Café Quick and Easy gathers together dishes from some of the world's most fascinating places, with a wonderful diversity of flavours. And each and every recipe is quick and easy to make at home..."

It really is a beautifully made book with gorgeous photos of both the food and of their travels. The book is organised into chapters by places: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki and Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam. I was initially concerned with this being a vegetarian cookbook that there might not be a lot of vegan recipes but that was quickly quashed - the vast majority of the recipes are actually vegan and those that are not are dead simple to veganize. It's also so much more than a cookbook, full of stories of their amazing travels and it really is an excellent read.

Moros Y Cristianos and Mojo Sauce from the World Food Cafe Cookbook

For my tester recipe I was drawn to the Cuban section of the book, in particular to the "Moros Y Cristianos" described by the authors as the following:

"Literally translated as Moors and Christians, this dish of black beans and white rice is still the mainstay of Cuban cuisine. The beans and the rice are either served separately or combined, usually with a simple fresh salad and fried plantain. Or you can enjoy them as we did, mixed together, topped with a fried egg and doused with zesty mojo sauce..."

Now, I obviously wasn't going to add the fried egg, and plantains are not too easy to come by here but I sure as hell wanted to try the gorgeous sounding Mojo Sauce! Which yes, I *do* keep saying in my head with an Austin Powers accent....Anyway, they describe it as the following:

Mojo Sauce from the World Food Cafe Cookbook

"Mojo sauce, originally from the Canary Islands, is one of Cuba's most adaptable signature recipes. It adds zest to black beans or cooked cassava, makes an exciting marinade and is the perfect dipping sauce for malanga fritters and grilled Cuban sandwiches. There are many recipes for Mojo, often depending on what the sauce is being used for that day, but it's essential ingredients are Cuban bitter Seville oranges, garlic, a little cumin, black pepper and salt. For vegetarian dishes olive oil is also an important addition as is  finely chopped onion for a dip or condiment. The sauce is also delicious with chopped fresh oregano or coriander leaves stirred into it.
When Seville oranges are out of season, simply mix orange juice with lemon and lime. It's not quite the same but a good second best."

I made mine with freshly squeezed navel orange juice, limes and lemons, I didn't add the chopped onion as there was already onion in the Moros Y Cristianos, and I didn't have fresh oregano and can't take coriander so I added some chopped fresh leaf parsley, really just for colour and so those of you adding coriander could see how it would look.

And our verdict overall? An absolutely gorgeous meal!! My husband tucked into his while I photographed mine and his positive exclamations had me rushing the photoshoot! 
The Moros Y Cristianos is spicy and packed with flavour, went perfect with the rice and that zesty mojo sauce was just lush drizzled over top. 
I followed their suggestion and served it with a simple salad with leaf, tomato, onion and avocado but found myself drawn to taking the avocado from the salad and putting it on top of the black beans and I'm glad I did - it went so well with the whole dish. Of course, you could still add avocado to the salad as well - the more avocado the better I say!

Moros Y Cristianos and Mojo Sauce from the World Food Cafe Cookbook

Furthermore, like all the recipes in this book this was so simple and used all easy to find cupboard ingredients. You might worry that a "World Food" cookbook would be jam packed with ingredients making you run all over town trying to find or needing to buy online but no, that's not the case with this book at all which is a refreshing change.

Moros Y Cristianos and Mojo Sauce from the World Food Cafe Cookbook

Moros Y Cristianos
serves 4 - 6

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, diced
2 dessertspoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 ½ tins (400g/14oz size) of black beans, drained and rinsed
300ml / 10fl oz vegetable stock
1 ½ tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
long-grain white rice (approximately 350g / 12oz, depending on appetite)

To garnish
finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
a generous drizzle of olive oil

To serve
a simple side salad of lettuce leaves topped with thin slices of plum tomato, radish, avocado and red onion, dressed with seasoned olive oil and lime juice.
fried plantain slices

     Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper until soft but not brown. Add the paprika, ground cumin, thyme, bay leaves and chilli flakes, cook for a a couple of minutes and then stir in the tomato purée.

     Add the beans and gradually stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer on a low heat until the stock has reduced by half, and mash the beans until they start to break down.

     Add the red wine vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a further few minutes, and then serve either on top of or combined with cooked white long-grain rice. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve the simple salad and fried plantain alongside.

Mojo Sauce

180ml / 6fl oz Seville orange juice or 120ml / 4fl oz orange juice, 30ml / 1 fl oz lime juice and 30ml / 1 fl oz lemon juice
1 flat teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ small onion, very finely chopped (optional)
60ml / 2fl oz olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
chopped oregano leaves (optional)
chopped coriander leaves (optional)

     Combine the citrus juice, salt, black pepper, cumin and (if you want a thicker sauce) onion.
     Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. When hot, add the crushed garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft but not brown. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before pouring in the citrus mix (stand back a little, just in case it spits). Return to the heat and bring to the boil; then remove from the heat once more and allow to cool, when you can add the herbs if you wish.
     The mojo sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

Excerpted with permission from "World Food Cafe - Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey" ©2013 Chris and Carolyn Caldicott. Published by Frances Lincoln. 
Published with permission of Frances Lincoln

My Notes

For the Black Beans:
• I used a regular onion in place of a red onion and an orange pepper in place of the red, simply as that's what I had on hand.
• I was only making the bean dish for my husband and I so I halved the recipe and cooked up 150g long grain rice for the 2 of us. This served us generously.
• I didn't have any fresh thyme so added ½ teaspoon dried thyme (for half the recipe).
• I just used 1 tin of black beans for the half recipe I was doing.
• I didn't add the garnish as I was drizzling on the Mojo Sauce.
• I also used the Mojo Sauce as my side salad dressing - it was perfect for it!
For the Mojo Sauce:
• I used the fresh orange juice, lime and lemon juice option.
• I didn't add the onion.
• I used chopped fresh parsley in place of the other herbs.
• Make sure you stir it up well before drizzling as the garlic, pepper, cumin and parsley like to settle on the bottom!

Disclaimer: While I was given this cookbook to review I was not paid to review it and all views expressed here are my own, as are all the photos.

....and coming up next on the blog...
Vegan Raspberry Bakewell Tarts

Raspberry Bakewell Tarts!!
(my own recipe)