Tuesday 25 March 2014

Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles - Vegan and Gluten Free

This has become one of our favourite stir fries lately, it just has wonderful flavour with curry, garlic, spring onion, spicy chilli, ginger and tamari; loads of crisp vegetables with green beans, red pepper, carrot, sweetheart cabbage and shiitake mushrooms and your protein coming from both chickpeas and a turmeric and toasted sesame oil tofu scramble all mixed in with rice vermicelli noodles. Yum!

I've based it on Felicity Cloake's recipe, featured in her Guardian article on How to make perfect Singapore Noodles. I opted to keep most of the vegetables the same but added some thinly sliced carrot and omitted the peas and water chestnuts; kept the flavourings the same and obviously had to completely change the protein aspects!

Singapore Noodles - Vegan and Gluten Free

Here, I opted to add chickpeas as they go perfectly with curry flavours and swapped the egg with a scrambled tofu flavoured like in my egg fried rice (coincidentally, also based on a Felicity Cloake recipe!) For the 'egg', a soft tofu is scrambled with turmeric, toasted sesame oil and some salt and pepper. This is then tossed in at the end of stir frying. As a result you just get small specks of tofu egg throughout the stir fry, with some larger pieces, which I think is nice.

Recipe Notes
The "mystery" chilli I used :-)
Original recipe called for a green bird's eye chilli, every time I have made this I've used a mystery yellow chilli and have found the heat level perfect. It came in a bag of mixed chillies and described as having a 'medium' heat. Bird's eye would be hotter than what I used, so just use what you can take! I also de-seeded mine.
I had wanted to add Chinese cabbage but had trouble finding it so I used sweetheart cabbage, simply because I love the mild taste of it. Again, you can use any cabbage you like here.
Any of the vegetables can be swapped with your favourites but try and keep the quantities the same.
I love the subtle coconut flavour which comes from the coconut oil here but you can swap that with peanut oil if you prefer.
Original recipe stated that this serves 2 but I would find that quite excessive! We get 3 comfortable servings out of this...but hey, if your starving, go for it!
For gluten free, use tamari in place of soy sauce and a dry sherry in place of the Shaoxing Rice Wine which I understand is hardly ever gluten free. Please also double check your ingredients for things like the rice noodles and curry powder as your products may differ from mine. Also - Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry is vegan as far as I know but you'll have to check any other brand. 

Singapore Noodles - Vegan and Gluten Free

 Singapore Noodles

• 150g rice vermicelli noodles (dry weight)
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin unrefined coconut oil
• 2½ tsp mild curry powder
• 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic, about 2 large cloves
• 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
• 1 finely chopped chilli - see notes above 
• 2 spring onions, sliced thin on the diagonal, white and green parts
• ½ red pepper, sliced thin (about 100g)
• ½ carrot, sliced into matchsticks
• 100g fresh or frozen green beans
• 100g sweetheart cabbage, sliced (about 2 cups)
• 100g fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
• ½ cup/ 88g chickpeas, from a tin - drained and rinsed
• 3 Tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free version)
• 2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (use dry sherry for gluten free *see recipe notes above)
• 1/8 tsp sugar
For the "egg":
• 100g soft tofu, not silken
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
• 1/8 tsp salt
• some freshly ground black pepper

As with all stir fries, you'll want to get everything chopped and measured and ready to go before you start cooking!

First, soften the noodles: bring a pot of water to the boil, add the rice noodles, cover then turn off the heat and let them sit for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse them with some hot water and set aside to drain. Give them a toss now and again to stop them sticking together.

Next, make the tofu scramble: Crumble the soft tofu into a dry frying pan and add the turmeric, sesame oil and salt and pepper. Turn the heat on to medium and fry, stirring the mixture until well mixed and heated throughout - about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Prep all the vegetables and seasoning's, measure out the chickpeas and mix together the tamari or soy sauce, rice wine and sugar.

To Cook: Heat the coconut oil in a large wok until very hot. Tip in the garlic, ginger, chilli, curry powder and spring onion and stir fry for about 30 seconds (the smell at this point is gorgeous!!)

Now add all the vegetables and chickpeas and stir fry until well mixed. After a couple of minutes I sometimes add a tablespoon or two of hot water if I find the curry powder sticking to the wok - it all depends on how much water comes out of the veg. 

When the veg has softened and in particular the cabbage is wilted, then add the tamari/soy sauce, rice wine and sugar. Give it a good stir then add the rice noodles. I like to turn the heat down to low at this point and stir fry until everything is well mixed and there is no more liquid. Now, stir in the tofu scramble until well distributed.

Serve immediately! This is really lovely with a light refreshing lager like Cobra, Tiger or Asahi :-)

Singapore Noodles - Vegan and Gluten Free


Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 3

Calories: 386
Fat: 10.4g
Sat Fat: 4.9g
Protein: 12.7g
Fibre: 7.7g
Carbs: 59.6g
Sugar: 5.5g
Sodium: 1033mg

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Friday 21 March 2014

Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

Vegan Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

Hello again!! I know, it's been ages...it started off with me just taking a break from blogging and ended up with me having a myriad of health issues - not all of which lupus related. Basically, January and February in particularly were the worst ever and again I apologise to all who tried to get in touch with me during that time but hopefully you can understand. I'm still not 100% - still a lot of tests and investigations to do and I'm still not sure I'm back to blogging for good but I thought I should touch base at least, especially with such a fun post as this one!

It was my son's 12th birthday recently and those of you who have been following the blog for awhile know that I like to make him a novelty cake or at least a special cake of some description. There has been the Veggie Burger Cake, Minecraft Cake, 10 Layer Chocolate Orange Cake and the Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake.

Vegan Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

I've seen these spaghetti and meatball cakes around and thought they just looked so fantastic and really, they are so simple! Just cake, piped buttercream frosting, some chocolate Kahlua cake balls and raspberry coulis for a tomato sauce. What I really love about them is that they don't call for any fondant frosting. Fondant is wonderful for creating really creative and accurate looking cakes but lets face it, the stuff tastes gross. When we were eating the Minecraft Cake we flicked off all the tiles :-) This is just all luscious vanilla buttercream frosting - yay! I should also add that although it looks like it's covered in a shed load of frosting, it's really not:
Slice of Vegan Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

Taste wise, this cake is amazing, that combo of deep chocolate cake, fluffy vanilla buttercream and punchy raspberry coulis is just gorgeous! This is definitely a cake I would make again, even just plain and without the novelty factor ;-) 

Now, I'm afraid that I was still in a "not blogging" zone when I made this so failed to get any how to pictures. Sorry. But it's really such an easy cake you shouldn't need any. I'll post the recipes I used for the cake and frosting but really you can use any chocolate cake and vanilla frosting recipe here :-)

Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

For the Chocolate Cake(s):
• 375g plain flour
• 300g caster sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 60g unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 tsp vanilla extract
• 160ml vegetable oil
• 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 480ml cold water
optional - a few drops of vegan friendly red food colouring added to the water.

First a word on the bowl I baked this in. I thought this would look most effective baked right into a pasta bowl and thankfully my Denby dishes are oven safe. I have even baked a cake in these before as it's the bowl I used to make the burger top on the Veggie Burger Cake! It's 8.5" wide at the top and 1.5" deep (5.5" wide at the base). If you don't have an oven safe pasta bowl a pie dish would work as it has slanted sides, if not, others have just made this in an 8" cake pan - just have a google search to see.

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F. Grease and flour the pasta bowl AND an 8" cake pan. (One cake will be your spaghetti and meatball cake, the other you will use to make the meatballs.) 

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together all the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. I did add a few drops of red colour here as I thought it would help make the cake balls look a little more "meaty" but it's entirely optional.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, whisk until it all just comes together and there is no more flour showing. Pour into the pasta bowl almost full - about 3/4 then pour the rest into the 8" cake pan. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 - 45 minutes. I found that the 8" cake was ready after about 30 minutes but the pasta bowl cake took about 45 minutes. Just keep checking with a toothpick - it should come out clean with no batter stuck to it.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool - leave them in the bowl and tin.

For the Meatballs:
• the 8" cake you baked earlier
• about 2 tsp Kahlua (you can also use apple juice)
• you will also need a food processor

Crumble half of the cake baked into the 8" cake pan into a food processor and process until it's fine crumbs. Sprinkle on the Kahlua and process again. Test the mixture by pressing some between your fingers, if it sticks together it's ready, if not, sprinkle a bit more Kahlua on and process again.

Tip the mixture into a bowl and squish and roll into meatballs, whatever size you like, and set them aside on a plate. How many you like is up to you - lots of little meatballs or just a few large ones, either would look good.

Crumble the other half of the cake into the food processor and also process into fine crumbs. Tip this into a shallow bowl.

Take a cake ball and dampen it with water, now roll it into the cake crumbs so that they stick to the cake ball. It's the crumbs that make it look more like meat in texture. Plus, the chocolate cake mixture goes almost black when rolled into balls and the crumb coating is a better colouring. Once they are all made just set aside and make the frosting. Note: there will be leftover cake crumbs.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
• 185g vegan butter
• 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
• 2 Tbsp dairy free milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract, the regular dark brown vanilla helps the pasta colouring here. Don't use a clear vanilla extract.
• a few drops vegan yellow food colouring, preferably a paste

Place the butter in a large bowl and soften, add some of the icing sugar and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix well then the rest of the icing sugar with the milk when needed until you have a thick and creamy frosting. Now add a tiny amount of yellow food colouring, I used a paste as I prefer how they don't upset the consistency of the frosting. Just make sure you add a tiny bit at a time as you don't need much. Actually, depending on how yellow your vegan butter is, you may not need any. Just go by how "pasta-ey" the frosting is looking.

Note: you won't need all the frosting but it's best to have more, particularly if you do want to pile it on, then you won't run out and be left with trying to get the colour the same in the next batch.

Buttercream recipe source: foodequalshappyme.com.

• raspberry coulis*
• vegan white chocolate or fine desiccated coconut

First, frost the top of the cake with a thin layer of the buttercream.

Place the meatballs on top of the cake using toothpicks to hold them into place. I placed the toothpick where I wanted a meatball, then skewered the meatball on top.

Spoon the frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a small rope tip (whatever size looks like spaghetti to you) and pipe all over the cake and around the meatballs until there are no gaps anywhere and it looks like a big bowl of spaghetti :-)

Now place the cake in the fridge - this is important to keep the frosting firm - you don't want it getting soft and losing it's shape. Also make sure you don't have anything smelly like open onions in your fridge as the cake will absorb the flavours!

Vegan Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

Just before serving, spoon over some raspberry coulis, especially over the meatballs and around the top of the cake then grate some vegan white chocolate over top to look like parmesan cheese. If you can't find this some fine desiccated coconut would work too.
Tip: refrigerate the white chocolate before hand to make it easier to grate.

* For the raspberry coulis, I actually decided I had enough to do on my son's birthday as I was also making several pizza's by scratch  SO I cheated and bought a store made raspberry coulis. I am so glad I did though as it was absolutely gorgeous!! For those of you in the UK and Ireland it was Tesco's Finest Raspberry Sauce and I just ran it through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds, then added a tiny bit of vegan red food colour paste to deepen the colour a bit (but that's really not essential). My only qualm with it is that it was quite thin in texture, it would have looked better if the sauce was thicker as most of mine trickled down below the "spaghetti". That being said, it tasted so good I didn't mind!

•To make your own, this recipe for raspberry coulis looks very good: http://foodequalshappyme.com/2013/08/11/spaghetti-meatballs-cake/ This is also where I got the buttercream recipe from, I wanted to make sure it was a frosting recipe that would be firm enough to hold it's shape as "spaghetti" and yet be soft enough to pipe with such a small tip.

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