Tuesday 16 December 2014

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
I can't quite believe that after blogging since 2006 (including my vegetarian blog) I haven't posted a basic cream of mushroom soup until now! We are so in love with this soup, it's thick and super creamy with a velvety texture and great mushroom flavour. My husband, a huge fan of anything mushroom based was always disappointed by tinned cream of mushroom soup back when he was vegetarian as they never actually taste of mushroom - just  that rank artificial mushroom flavour. Well, he's  described this one as 'hands down the best cream of mushroom soup he's ever had' - so, yay!
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
I have made several cream of mushroom soups before but none have compared to this one. I think the reason for that is the outright simplicity of this recipe, I was probably trying too hard before, roasting the mushrooms, using exotic mushrooms, tons of fresh herbs etc.. when all it really needed was mushrooms, stock, cream, onion and garlic. Simple.

It's a great basic cream of mushroom soup recipe and would also work well in all those old time recipes that call for 'a can of cream of mushroom soup' that we all call old school and a bit naff but secretly love ;-) Remember noodle casserole made with a tin of cream of mushroom soup? Haha - delicious!

~Recipe Notes~
• For the mushroom stock I have used 1 Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock Cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water. If you can't buy this brand then I would use another brand mushroom stock, from either a cube or powder to make 500ml (2 cups) OR I would recommend you make your own mushroom stock (sorry I don't have a recipe but there are loads online). I wouldn't really recommend not using a mushroom stock here - you need that extra mushroom flavour happening.
• I have kept this simple with no herbs but if you like, thyme, marjoram and parsley all go brilliantly with mushrooms. Fresh would be best.
• Recipe makes 4 small servings or 2 large. We always go for the small servings as we have lots of bread with it, in fact I almost treat the soup like a mushroom fondue! Plus the soup is thick and rich so I find the small serving just perfect but keep in mind it doesn't look like much in the bowl. These photos have a large serving in them.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp vegan butter
1 onion, chopped
250g white mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
500ml (2 cups) mushroom stock
250ml (1 cup) soy cream
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg

All the ingredients!

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and give it a good stir. Sprinkle over the salt and add about 12 grinds of black pepper. 
Fry until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are cooked through, about 10 minutes. You also want *most* of the liquid cooked off but not all of it, stop before you've cooked off all the liquid. Now add the garlic and give it a good stir then turn the heat down to low and add the flour. Stir well and fry gently for about 1 minute.
Dissolve the stock cube in the 500ml of boiling water and add a little bit to the pot, stir well to deglaze any flour then add a bit more stock, again stir well and keep adding more stock until it is all added. Now bring to the boil then reduce and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Do this with the lid off so that the stock reduces a bit. 
Stock being added.

Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

...after the 10 minutes, reduced.

Now add the cream (for those of you in the UK and Ireland this is handily a whole 250ml carton of Alpro single cream). Mix well then turn off the heat.
Transfer the soup to your blender and blend on the highest setting until velvety smooth. I used my Froothie Optimum 9400 blender and as always, it did an amazing job here. Absolutely no "mushroom graininess" in this soup!

Return to the pot, add a couple gratings of fresh nutmeg (not too much, it can overpower!) and bring the soup back up to heat.

Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with bread of your choice, a nice 'fresh from the oven' French crusty bread with some vegan butter spread on is ideal :-)
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Source: adapted from this recipe.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 4 (small bowls)
Calories: 176
Protein: 3.9g
Fat: 12.7g
Sat Fat: 2.2g
Fibre: 1.3g
Carbs: 10.4g
Sugar: 2.9g
Sodium: 607mg

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliated links to Froothie UK, however all views expressed are my own.

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Monday 1 December 2014

Ginger & Spice Cakies

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Yes! Cakies - kind of a cookie, kind of a cake...kind of a marriage made in heaven ;-) I was after a very soft cake like cookie with all the flavour of gingerbread and these hit the spot perfectly, especially with a little drizzle of vanilla glaze on them! They are also a great addition to the holiday baking season, now fervently upon us :-) 

I based the recipe on a recipe in my old childhood favourite cookie cook book, Scholastic's "The Cookie Book" - I've referenced it before on the blog, it was purchased about 1983 through my school and I do still use it! If anyone else in Canada remembers this book, do let me know :-)
In the book these were called "Molasses Cookies" and the name must have put me off as I never made them. They were descibed as soft and a quick read of the ingredients indicated this recipe was probably just what I was after, a big soft gingerbread spiced cookie.

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Naturally I made a few changes: omitted the egg altogether (and it wasn't missed), omitted the raisins, swapped the molasses for Golden Syrup and added a drizzle of vanilla glaze. Now, I love molasses but I was after a more delicate flavoured cookie here, molasses can sometimes overpower things I find. Plus, I already have a gingerbread recipe I absolutely adore and make every Christmas and didn't want something similar here. 

That being said, I know Golden Syrup is hard to find (if at all) for those in North America so molasses can be used instead. You will end up with a darker cookie with a different taste to these but I have no doubt they will still taste great :-

Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Ginger & Spice Cakies:

-makes 15 cookies

1/4 cup / 50g vegan butter
1/4 cup / 60g golden caster sugar, granulated is fine too
1/4 cup / 90g Golden Syrup
1/4 cup / 60ml unsweetened soy milk
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup / 200g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2 - 3 tsp unsweetened dairy free milk (I used almond milk here)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Measure out the soy milk and add the vinegar. Give it a stir then set aside to curdle. In another bowl mix together the flour, salt and spices - set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until well mixed. Add the syrup and mix well. Add the baking soda to the milk and vinegar mixture and give it a stir, it should get a little foamy. Add this to the butter mixture and stir. WARNING: it will look like a disgusting curdled mess at this point but that's fine - it is actually what you are after :-)

Tip in the flour mixture and stir just until there is no more flour showing but do not over mix. You should have a soft dough, slightly more akin to thick cake batter than cookie dough.

Drop by heaped tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, about an inch apart. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 12 minutes. They should be lightly golden around the edges but still soft to the touch.

Let cool on the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to fully cool.

Glaze: mix together 2 tsp of the milk and the vanilla with the powdered sugar, stir until all the sugar is dissolved. If it is too thick add a bit more milk - I needed just another 1/8 tsp. You want the glaze thick but "drizzable"- let it fall down from the spoon and if it's falls in ribbons that's about right.

Keep the cookies on the wire rack but place a sheet of baking paper underneath and drizzle the glaze all over the cookies in a back and forth motion. Leave for about an hour for the glaze to set then they are ready!
Vegan Ginger & Spice "Cakies" - soft cake like cookies

Nutritional Information: based on 1 cookie out of 15

Calories: 121
Fat: 2.4g
Sat Fat: 0.5g
Protein: 1.5g
Carbs: 23.1g
Sugar: 8.0g
Fibre: 0.4g
Sodium: 72.9mg

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Monday 20 October 2014

Smokey Vegetable Chowder

Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe
Well we are definitely into the season for warming soups and stews now! Cork has turned decidedly cooler and stormier lately which I love, autumn is easily my favourite season especially as I get to make warming comforting meals like this one :-) Rather shockingly, up until making this I had never had chowder before! I think it's probably because I grew up by the coast and chowder for us meant clam chowder and even when I ate meat and fish I drew the line at shellfish (too much like bugs, bleh! haha) So I was very excited about trying the clam chowder alternative of sweetcorn chowder. 
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe
Most sweetcorn chowders seemed to call for potato as well and a lot called for bacon. I went even further with the veg as I felt this was calling out for some carrot and also added leeks which are really nice here. To honour the bacon factor I added both smoked paprika and smoked sea salt which is what gives this it's smokey angle and a wonderful flavour.

When I first made this I made it as a Vegan Chicken and Sweetcorn Chowder. Same recipe as here but with some added vegan chicken pieces in there. It was really good but I just felt that the 'faux-ness' of the vegan chicken was letting down the veg so I decided to omit it and just let the veggies shine on their own here. That being said, go ahead and throw in some fried vegan chicken pieces or some chickpeas or beans for added protein if you like. Just reduce some of the veg to make room for them, or increase the broth.
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe

Smokey Vegetable Chowder:
~serves 2~

1 Tbsp vegan butter
80g sliced leeks ( 2/3 heaped cup)
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
500ml unsweetened almond milk ( 2 cups)
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder*
160g peeled and diced potato (1 cup)
80g peeled, sliced and halved carrot ( heaped 2/3 cup)
180g frozen sweetcorn ( 1 cup, heaped)

*As always I use Marigold Organic Vegan Bouillon Powder which has added turmeric which gives this a nice colour. If you are using a different brand bouillon powder then 1/8 tsp turmeric might be nice added to the milk. If you can buy a vegan chicken style stock where you are then I would recommend that.

Whisk the milk with the flour, stock powder, paprika and salt in a bowl or jug and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan then add the leeks, bay leaves and some freshly ground black pepper. Fry gently until just soft, 2-3 minutes should do. Pour in the milk mixture and add the carrots and potato. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potato is tender, and the broth has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir it now and again and don't worry if you see little white dots of flour or milk. It's not separating and as you can see by the photos it goes away by the end :-)

When there is 6 minutes left add the sweetcorn, turn the heat up to maximum to bring it back to a boil as the frozen corn will bring the temperature down. When it's at a boil again, reduce to a simmer. Check that the potato is tender then turn the heat off, take the lid off and let it sit for 5 minutes. This helps cool it down a bit and thickens the chowder a little more. Check the seasoning then remove the bay leaves and serve. 

This chowder is hearty enough on it's own but as with all soups, great with some crusty rolls or French bread.
Smokey Sweetcorn Chowder - vegan recipe

Nutritional Information: for 1 serving out of 2
Calories: 286
Protein: 7.8g
Fat: 10.7g
Sat Fat: 1.9g
Fibre: 6.7g
Carbs: 39.4g
Sugar: 6.3g
Sodium: 900mg

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Monday 13 October 2014

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
Like my previous post this is another variation on a recipe already on the blog. I have been making loads of different versions of the Cranberry Almond Tea Cake for quite awhile now but haven't gotten around to blogging them.

First, a couple summers ago (!) I made a Blackberry and Lemon version which was so good, and great for using up all those buckets of blackberries we always seem to get in August :-) Then I found myself with some pears that needed using up and made a Pear and Almond Loaf Cake, also wonderful and now, a blackberry and apple almond loaf cake.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
What I'm trying to say is: this recipe is VERY versatile ;-) You can basically put in any fruit or berries you like, I never add nuts but they would go nicely as well. A cinnamon, apple and pecan version sounds pretty tasty actually...as does a cherry and almond version or strawberry vanilla etc... etc... As long as you keep the cake recipe the same and the weight/measure of fruit about the same you can do what you like.

For this one I was given some apples, not sure what kind to be honest, I think they were a mixture of cooking apples and golden delicious and as they needed using up threw them in with some frozen berries I had. I kept the almond flavouring here as is in the Cranberry Loaf Cake as I simply love almond flavoured cakes, easily my favourite and it goes very well here.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.

Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake:

260g plain flour
120g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
180ml unsweetened almond milk
4 Tbsp cornstarch
110g vegan butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract
150g frozen blackberries
200g peeled and thinly sliced apple, toss in lemon juice to keep from browning

100g icing sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190C / 380F and grease a loaf tin.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together the milk and cornstarch. Whisk in the almond extract then slowly whisk in the melted butter. Toss the fruit in with the flour mixture then pour over the liquid and fold with a rubber spatula until mixed. Be careful not to over mix.

Scrape into prepared tin, level off the top and bake for 45 minutes. It should be risen, golden brown on top and make sure a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf cake comes out clean. (I have pulled this out too early before and had a doughy centre!) Cool in tin 15 minutes then remove cake from the tin to fully cool on a wire rack. I like to place it on it's side to cool.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients until thick but just pourable, add more milk or icing sugar as need be then pour and spread on top letting some drizzle over the sides.
Blackberry & Apple Almond Loaf Cake. Vegan recipe.

Blackberry & Lemon Version:

Swap the almond extract with lemon extract
Omit the apple, can increase blackberries to 200g if you like.
omit the almond extract
increase vanilla extract to 1/2 tsp
add the zest of 1 lemon

Pear & Almond Version:

Make as per the Blackberry, Apple and Almond cake but omit the blackberries, swap the apple with diced pear and increase to 200g.

Nutritional Information: (Blackberry, Apple and Almond version, per 100g)

Calories: 244
Protein: 2.8g
Fat: 7.4g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Fibre: 1.7g
Carbs: 41.7g
Sugar: 19.1g
Sodium: 250mg

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Thursday 2 October 2014

Cheesy Parsnip & Sage Beer Bread

Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread (vegan recipe)
This is a variation on the Herbed Beer Bread already on the blog which I've been making for years (and it was always vegan!) The other day my father in law came up with some parsnips from his garden and truth be told they are not my favourite veg. I do love them maple roasted as part of the Christmas dinner but that's usually as far as I go with them. He brought so much I did make a curried parsnip and carrot soup which was good but not bloggable good.

Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread (vegan recipe)
I then decided to try something different altogether and was inspired by a Delia Smith recipe for Parsnip, Parmesan and Sage Bread. That flavour combination just sounded wonderful and as hers was also a quick bread recipe (baking soda/powder not yeast) I immediately thought of my Herbed Beer Bread and just decided to adapt that one.

....and I am so glad I did, this is SO good! The addition of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavour has really added to this recipe, in fact, I don't think I'll make this beer bread now without adding some :-) The parsnips give a nice subtle flavour, you do taste them, this isn't like carrots or zucchini in cake where they are just adding moisture, but, it's subtle and the sage is just perfect in there.
Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread (vegan recipe)

Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread:

2 ½ cups plain flour (350g)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (20g)
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 x 330ml can or bottle of lager of your choice, I used Grolsch
150g grated weight parsnips (about 2 small/medium parsnips)
• vegan butter to brush over crust and to serve

Note: I used my food processor to grate the parsnips as it was easier but you can just use a cheese grater.

Grease a 1.5 ltr loaf pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375F / 180C.  Whisk everything but the beer and parsnips in a large bowl. Stir in the parsnips with a fork until well mixed then pour in the beer then stir and fold in with a rubber spatula until fully mixed. It will be very thick! Scrape this mixture into the loaf pan and even off the top. 

Pop into the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. 

Optional - I like to now brush vegan butter all over the top while it is hot to melt in, it just adds a lovely flavour.  Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes then remove onto a wire rack to fully cool.
Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread (vegan recipe)
Not optional - TOAST the slices then slather in vegan butter. Seriously, toasting is essential here!! 
Cheesy Parsnip and Sage Beer Bread (vegan recipe)
I mean look at that! :-)

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary & Shallot Sausages with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

I like to think of these as a "veganized and poshed up" version of Glamorgan sausages ;-) I was inspired here by a recipe created by my dear chef friend Stacey's recipe for "Pan Seared Aged White Cheddar Sausages  with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy". I had them when I was working with her back in my vegetarian days and they were just gorgeous, especially with that gravy. (And a huge thanks to her for permission to post!)

In order to veganize the sausages I've had to change a lot but followed her recipe as a guide. I have made them tofu based and added my Vegan Parmesan recipe of nutritional yeast, ground almonds and salt for a cheesy flavour.

The gravy is pretty much the exact same though, I just swapped onions for shallots (as I had them for the sausages, you can use onion if you prefer) and used soy cream in place of whipping cream. It's a stunning gravy and goes perfectly with the sausages, perfect for a nice dinner with some mashed potato and side of broccoli.
Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Now, I have made these sausages with both soft and firm tofu. Either work but you have to prepare them differently and you do end up with different textured results depending on which type you use. In the photos you see here I have used an extra firm tofu.

First, with the soft tofu, and I do mean soft, for those of you in the UK/Ireland I used Cauldron's original tofu which is so soft it borders on silken (but don't use silken here!) Anyway, you end up with a softer, looser textured sausage much more reminiscent of traditional Glamorgan sausages which I always remember being very soft. They still hold together and fry up fine but are a little more tricky to shape.

With the extra firm tofu, and I have used quite a firm one here, Taifun's tofu which is even rubbery in texture; you end up with a much firmer sausage, more reminiscent in texture of traditional sausages. This makes them MUCH easier to shape and thus they have less margin of error.

Either way, both turn out well and taste great and I'll post both versions and let you decide which one to make :-)

Lastly, I do apologize for the not-so-great and rather "samey" photos here....I even failed to get a shot of them cut open! My family were eagerly standing in the background waiting for me to finish shooting this so they could eat so I was rather rushed ;-) My poor family always eating lukewarm meals, lol!
Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary & Shallot Sausages:

• 200g extra firm OR soft tofu *see above
• 2 cups (100g) breadcrumbs
• ½ cup (65g) finely chopped shallots
• 1 tsp dried mustard powder
• 1 tsp fine smoked sea salt
• 12 grinds freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 2 Tbsp finely ground nutritional yeast flakes
• 2 Tbsp ground almonds
• 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond or soy milk (omit if using soft tofu)
• olive oil to grease and fry

Instructions if using soft tofu:

Drain the tofu (there is no need to press). Place everything except the milk into a large bowl and just get in there with your hands, squishing the tofu through your fingers to mush it all up. When well mixed and thick in texture wash then grease your hands with some olive oil and shape into 6 sausages. I find it easiest to grease a 1/4 cup measuring cup and press the mixture in, scoop it out then squeeze and roll into sausage shapes. Lay out on a plate lined with cling film, cover with cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.

Instructions if using extra firm tofu:

Crumble the tofu (no need to press) into a food processor and add the milk. Process until fine in texture and well mixed. Add everything else except the shallots and blend well, it should just come together like a dough and should be able to grab a bit of the mixture and squish it together easily. Now add the shallots and pulse a few times until well mixed and the shallots are a little smaller - you still want bits of shallots in here though so don't overmix.

Grease your hands with olive oil and shape into 6 sausages. Lay out on a plate lined with cling film, cover with cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

To Fry:

Add 1½ Tbsp of olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan and heat to medium. Add the sausages, turning to coat in the oil and fry, turning frequently until equally golden brown all over.

Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy

Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy:

• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 70g shallots, sliced (about 4 large shallots)
• 50g sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (about 7 pieces)
• 2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock*
• 2 Tbsp soy cream
• 10 grinds freshly ground black pepper

*First, a note on the vegetable stock, it provides a lot of the flavour in this gravy so make sure you use one you really love the taste of. I've used a Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot here FYI.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then gently fry the shallots and pepper until the shallots are really soft and caramelized, a nice golden brown will do. 

Tip into a blender (I used my Froothie Optimum 9400 for the silkiest results) with the sun-dried tomatoes and half the vegetable stock. Blend until really smooth then add the rest of the stock and blend again. It will be really watery looking at this point, that's ok!

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to medium heat, reduce to low and simmer with the lid off for about 20 minutes until it has reduced in volume and is thicker. Pour in the cream and stir well.

Vegan Parmesan, Rosemary and Shallot Sausages (Glamorgan Style) with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links to Froothie UK.)

Nutritional Information:

Per sausage (after frying):

Calories: 122
Protein: 5.6g
Fat: 6.4g
Sat Fat: 1.0g
Carbs: 11.1g
Sugar: 1.1g
Fibre: 1.1g
Sodium: 337mg

Per 1/3 of the gravy (a generous amount for a serving of 2 sausages and sides):

Calories: 118
Protein: 2.1g
Fat: 9.4g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 7.1g
Sugar: 2g
Fibre: 1.8g
Sodium: 787mg

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