Wednesday 28 May 2014

Golden Potato Salad

Golden Potato Salad with Lemon, Turmeric and Cumin. Vegan and Gluten Free.

First some news! I have finally caved in and set up a facebook page for maplespice :-) It's something I have held back doing for many years now as I just felt it would have been *too* much social media to handle, haha - I had this blog, the daily blog, twitter, pinterest and I am quite active on my personal facebook account and felt another one would be too much. BUT, now that I'm not doing the daily blog and really don't use twitter anymore I feel it will be a great way to interact with everyone, especially since I've not been having much luck with the commenting system here on please do like my page, share it, come and say hello....I'm hoping I'll use it for much more than just posting links to new recipes on the blog, like what I'm experimenting with, product/restaurant reviews, random photos of Ireland, trips we take, what I'm up to in life etc...anything and everything :-) Hope to see you there!

Now, I whipped this up the other day when I had some new potatoes to use up and as we are approaching potato salad season felt it was as good as time as any to blog :-) I was inspired by this Lemony Potato Salad recipe on BBC Good Food but made a few changes - I omitted the chilli as I wasn't after anything spicy here, increased the turmeric to get it really golden in colour, (and also added turmeric to the water to boil the potatoes in) omitted the ginger - but really, only because I didn't have any, swapped the black mustard seeds with regular as again that's what I had on hand, and reduced the lemon juice a bit.

It's a lovely light and lemony potato salad with just a hint of cumin and turmeric to give it a lift and would be a wonderful side dish to summer barbecue meals.
Golden Potato Salad with Lemon, Turmeric and Cumin. Vegan and Gluten Free.

Golden Potato Salad:

450g new potatoes, preferably fingerling, halved lengthwise, skin on
½ tsp each toasted mustard seeds and toasted cumin seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice (I was lazy and used bottled!)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper - about 6 grinds
Bunch of fresh chives, chopped

Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil, add 1 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp salt. Boil the new potatoes for 15 mins or until tender, drain then plunge into a bowl of ice water just so they are cool enough to handle. Remove from the water and if the skins are falling off then go ahead and remove the skins, if not, just leave them on. Transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, turmeric and pepper. While still warm, gently toss the potatoes with the dressing, seeds and chives. It may seem like it's swimming in dressing but it'll absorb more as it sits in the fridge. Cover and pop in the fridge to fully cool, giving it a stir once or twice.

Nutritional Information: for the whole recipe, serves 4 as a small side dish.

Calories: 614
Protein: 10.1g
Fat: 29.1g
Sat Fat: 4.2g
Fibre: 10.6g
Carbs: 84.2g
Sugar: 4.4g
Sodium: 1201mg

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Tuesday 20 May 2014

Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice

Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice - vegan.

Back in my vegetarian days I used to order this "vegetable katsu curry" from a Japanese restaurant back in London. It was mixed vegetables, breaded and deep fried served over steamed rice with a thick curry sauce and oh my word, I loved it! I've been wanting to have a go at making my own for awhile now and am so glad I did. Here, I've opted for just mushrooms instead of mixed veg - in this case portobello mushrooms mostly for their good size when sliced and because they are simply one of my favourite mushrooms!

What I am most excited about is the breading recipe here, I used to do my breading with cornstarch then my homemade egg replacer, then the breadcrumbs. I decided to try replacing the egg replacer with straight up unsweetened soy yogurt and wow! This makes the absolute BEST breading for deep frying. Tasty and SUPER crispy, with a nice thick breading that does not fall off. It's just perfect.

Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice - Vegan.
The sauce took a couple of goes to get right, my first attempt just wasn't very good at all! I then saw this recipe on allrecipes and decided to try it (with a little adapting to my personal tastes) and thankfully it worked perfectly! Great flavour altogether, in fact, I couldn't stop "testing" it while I was waiting for the mushrooms and rice to cook :-)

For the rice, when I first made this I simply used boiled white basmati rice and it was fine but as this is a Japanese curry dish I felt it should really be with sushi/Japanese rice. I've always had problems getting sushi rice just right when I'm not using it for sushi, in other words when I'm not adding sushi seasoning afterwards. Thankfully, The Kitchn has come to the rescue with their tutorial on "How to make Japanese Rice on the Stove" - finally I'm getting it right everytime - tender rice with just the right amount of stickiness. I'll post the recipe here for my quantities but do click on the link for their full tutorial if this has been an issue for you as well.  
Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice - Vegan.

Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice

Breaded & Fried Portobello Mushrooms:
2 - 3 Portobello Mushrooms
½ cup or so of unsweetened soy yogurt
2 cups breadcrumbs or panko
¼ cup cornflour (cornstarch) to coat 
Vegetable oil to fry

Coat the mushroom slices in the cornflour, tapping off any excess flour. Turn over in the yogurt until coated and then coat in breadcrumbs. Note: it may seem difficult at first to coat them in the yogurt but just keep turning them in the yogurt - they will coat eventually :-) Set aside. Heat the oil to 350F and deep fry until golden brown – ensure mushrooms are cooked through by testing one. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt.

Curry Sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ tsp turmeric
300ml vegetable stock – I made mine with 1 tsp Marigold Vegan Bouillon Powder
1 teaspoon light sweet freedom syrup (or light agave)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 small bay leaf

Heat the oil in a saucepan until melted, add the onion and carrot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli for the last couple of minutes.

Add the flour, turmeric and curry powder; cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, I added about a quarter of the stock, stirred well, then another quarter etc..until all added. Now add the syrup, soy sauce and bay leaf. 

Bring to the boil then turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency. Pour the curry sauce through a sieve and discard the vegetables. Return the sauce to the saucepan and heat on low heat until it thickens a little more. If it seems a bit runny just remove from the heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes. It'll thicken up a bit without getting cold, stir it now and again to keep smooth.

Sauce adapted from: allrecipes: Chicken Katsu Curry.

Japanese Rice:
125g sushi rice (1/2 cup)
140 ml water (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp)
1/8 tsp salt

Wash the rice really well, several times until the water runs clear. Place in a non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid with the water and salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Set timer for 10 minutes then turn the heat on to high. When it is boiling, reduce to the lowest heat to simmer. When the time is up, remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes – do not lift the lid! Toss the rice with a rubber spatula to loosen before serving.

Rice method source: The Kitchn - How to Make Japanese Rice on the Stove.

Spoon the rice onto plates, spoon over most of the sauce, lay the breaded mushrooms over top and drizzle some more of the sauce over the mushrooms. (Don't put all the sauce over the mushrooms like I did here or you will lose all of the crispiness!)
Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice - Vegan.

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Thursday 15 May 2014

Vegan Parmesan

3 Ingredient Vegan Parmesan - no food processor or blender needed!

Why has it taken me so long to make my own vegan parmesan style cheese? This stuff has transformed our lives, well, our culinary lives anyway! I actually made this ages ago and I've been using it in EVERYTHING - so much so that I feel like I should go back and update a lot of my recipes! I furthermore have so many recipes to blog that call for some of this stuff that I had to hurry up and blog this one so I can clear the backlog, haha! So yes, expect this to feature in a LOT of upcoming blog posts :-)

Now there are a lot of recipes out there for vegan parmesan cheese and they are all pretty much based on the same formula - nutritional yeast, nuts and or seeds and salt/seasoning. I didn't follow any other recipe here, I just kept experimenting with different ratios until I was happy with the outcome. In the end I found simple was best - just 3 ingredients with a nice balance of flavour. 

I absolutely LOVE the taste of this and while I am not going to say it tastes "just like parmesan" (because it doesn't, although close!) I will say that it works as a perfect replacement for parmesan in pretty much any recipe. You know all those risotto recipes that call for "1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese"? Yup, just use this instead - it's perfect for risotto, sprinkled over pizza, pasta (of course!) but we even love it stirred into baked beans to make them cheesier and creamy. Loads of possibilities here! 

The other great things about this recipe? Only 3 ingredients and no food processor or blender needed! Simple.
3 Ingredient Vegan Parmesan - no food processor or blender needed!

Vegan Parmesan:

2 Tbsp ground almonds
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp salt

Grind up the nutritional yeast flakes in a mortar and pestle until they are a fine powder. If you don't have one you can easily just powder the flakes by hand or by placing in a zip-lock bag and running a rolling pin over. Add the ground almonds and salt and mix. That's it!
3 Ingredient Vegan Parmesan - no food processor or blender needed!
Notes:  Recipe makes just 1/4 cup of parmesan which I find is the perfect amount for meals that serve 2-3 people. If I am making say, just a pasta for myself I will make up half this recipe to throw in. If you want a large jar of this then simply double, triple, quadruple or more! Personally, I tend to just make this up as I need it as it's so easy to do :-)

....and for another variation - Smoked Vegan Parmesan! This stuff is gorgeous thrown into anything you want to add a cheesy, smoky, almost dare I say, "bacon-y" flavour to? ;-)

Smoked Vegan Parmesan:

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, ground
2 Tbsp ground almonds
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Make as instructed above.

....there will be a dedicated pasta blog post coming up featuring some of my favourite simple recipes using the parmesan!

Nutritional Information: full recipe

Calories: 102
Protein: 6.0g
Fat: 7.2g
Sat Fat: 0.5g
Fibre: 3.0g
Carbs: 5.5g
Sugar: 0.5g
Sodium: 586.4mg

Monday 5 May 2014

Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with an Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with an Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce - vegan.

I was going over some old blog posts with the intention of deleting some of them. You see, in the early days I would blog almost everything I made - successful recipes and the experiments. I would always state in those old posts when something didn't quite work out and what I would do next time, etc...Of course for the past few years that has not been the case - I only post tried, tested and perfected recipes but I was simply more casual in the start. 

I came across this post for "Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with Plum Sauce" from October 2008 and while reading the post remembered that although they tasted great it just wasn't a very successful recipe and decided to delete it but then noticed that it has been pinned over 600 times!!! What the frack?!?! I really have no idea how that could have been, it's a terrible photo and I even mentioned in the write up that it was a bit of a botched up experiment. I mean it's appreciated of course but baffling! :-)

Well, I decided I couldn't very well delete a post that's been pinned that many times but I could definitely get in the kitchen, experiment some more and get this one right! 
Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with an Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce - vegan.
Originally this recipe came from "The Asian Vegan Kitchen" cookbook and called for some pretty obscure ingredients like dried wood ear mushrooms and straw mushrooms. I decided to make them with just regular ol' mushrooms to make things easier and also changed the process quite a lot to get the texture just right (they were like raw dough balls before!) Now, I am very happy with this recipe and am so glad I returned to it - these things taste incredible - packed with flavour, crispy on the outside and soft inside... So good, in fact, my husband boldly claimed that these are the best savoury things I've ever made! I think I have to agree with him :-)
Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with an Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce - vegan.
For the dipping sauce, the old post just called for store bought plum sauce and I thought I could probably do a bit better than that now :-) Apricots actually go really well with mushrooms and I just happened to have a jar of apricot jam in the fridge not doing anything so I thought about making a plum-style sauce but apricot flavoured instead. I found a recipe for plum sauce that called for plum jam and based this one on that. 

OMG - I can safely say that I will never buy plum sauce or even Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce again. It is incredible: sweet and spicy with a good flavouring of ginger - it is the perfect accompaniment to these balls and best of all - incredibly easy and only takes 10 minutes to make.

Recipe Notes
• If you can't find white rice flour you can use cornstarch (cornflour in the UK/Eire) but I do find the rice flour gives both a better texture and taste.
• I did try baking these as well as I know a lot of people are not keen on deep frying and basically, I can't recommend it. A lot of the breadcrumbs fall off, they don't get that crisp shell which is so important and the filling goes a bit chewy. Just fry them and enjoy these at their best! Fried they have 53 calories each and 3.2g of fat. Baked they have 38 calories each and 1.5g of fat. Really, it's not so much to worry about! Treat yourself :-)

Vietnamese Mushroom Balls with an Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce - vegan.

Vietnamese Mushroom Balls:

1 Tbsp peanut oil
200g mushrooms, diced small
1/2 carrot, diced small
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch cube ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 fresh hot red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1/2 tsp sweet freedom syrup (or light agave)
6-7 grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup white rice flour
30g breadcrumbs or panko
~a little more peanut oil to coat the balls
~vegetable oil to fry

Heat the peanut oil in a wok. Add the mushrooms carrot, salt and pepper and fry until cooked and any liquid is gone. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and fry a few minutes more, until fragrant. Add the soy sauce and syrup and fry until most the liquid is gone, it’ll be wet looking but you don’t want any pools of liquid. 

Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and sprinkle over the rice flour, toss with a fork until everything has a coating of flour.

Have a little bowl of peanut oil ready. The best way to make the balls and ensure they stick together is to press the mixture into a tablespoon (a measuring tablespoon, not a cutlery tablespoon) once it's pressed in, scoop it out then take some of the peanut oil to grease your hands and press and shape into a ball, ensuring that the ball is coated lightly in the peanut oil (this will help ensure the breadcrumbs stick). Repeat until all the mixture is used up - you should get 12 balls. 
Note: photo is from when I made a half recipe, hence only 6 :-)
Wash and dry hands then roll each ball into the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs lightly into the ball. Repeat until all the balls are coated.

Heat a pot of vegetable oil to 350F. I use a large pot and about 1 litre of oil, make sure the oil is only about halfway up the pot. Carefully lower 6 of the balls into the oil and fry until crisp and deeply golden brown – this should only take a few minutes maximum. With a deep fry safe slotted spoon, scoop them out and place in a paper towel lines bowl to drain. Repeat with the other 6 balls. Let cool slightly and serve with the Apricot-Ginger dipping sauce.

Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce
Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce:

113g apricot jam (¼ cup + 1 Tbsp)
½ Tbsp rice wine vinegar
¾ tsp dark brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon finely grated ginger
2 Tbsp water

Place everything into a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, whisking all the while until smooth. Once it just comes to a boil, turn off the heat. If you want the sauce right away then transfer the sauce to a bowl and place the bowl into another bowl of ice water (with ice cubes) to cool quickly. Give it a whisk now and again while cooling to keep it smooth and even. Serve at room temperature or chilled, cover and refrigerate leftovers. After chilling you may have to add a splash of water if it's gone a bit too thick.

Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce for Vietnamese Mushroom Balls

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Friday 2 May 2014

Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Shells

Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Shells - vegan and soy free
Well, after the Baby Spinach Salad with Sage Roasted Sweet Potato, Walnuts and Almond Feta recipe consider this part 2 of things to make with leftover almond feta!

I actually have a LOT of really simple, easy pasta recipes that I make quite often but are not on the blog...I guess I always think that they are far too simple to publish, but now, I've decided that's crazy - I mean who doesn't like an easy recipe?!?

This one in particular, is one of my favourites - I will almost always whip this up whenever I have some of the almond feta in the fridge.  It involves minimal chopping, only uses one pot, the sauce is made while the pasta cooks and is absolutely wonderful :-)
Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Shells - vegan and soy free

Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Shells
(serves 1)
• 75g shells
• 1 large clove garlic
• 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
• 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
• about 30g almond feta
• salt and pepper to taste*

* I love to use ¼ tsp of Spike seasoning in this dish instead of salt - I believe you can only buy it in North America, I brought some home last time I was in Canada. It's a seasoned herbal salt and just goes perfectly with tomatoes! If you have some, do try it in this, if not regular salt will be just fine :-)

Bring 1 litre of water to the boil with 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the shells, stir and boil according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, add the chopped tomatoes and garlic to a mortar and pestle and pound them until them are all mushed up. Add the basil and seasoning and give it another mix.
Drain the pasta well and return to the pot. Add the tomato, garlic and basil mixture and simmer on low heat until it's less watery, stirring all the while - you don't want ALL the liquid gone but it should reduce a little bit. Crumble in the almond feta now and stir until it's all mixed in and creamy. Taste and season as need be.
Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Shells - vegan and soy free

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 437
Protein: 14.9g
Fat: 14.5g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Fibre: 5.8g
Carbs: 63.9g
Sugar: 7.3g
Sodium: 537mg

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