Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters with Sumac Yoghurt

Quick, easy and delicious.

Initially I had planned to go with the first thing that came to mind with this theme – a stir fry (classic!). But when thinking about my go-to easy week night meals of late, I realised that I more often turn to variations of vegetable fritters for something fast and delicious. A great way for using up those veggies on their last legs, welcome additions to veggie fritters include corn, spinach, carrots and crumbled broccoli – whatever’s going.

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The combination of sweet potatoes and sumac is a match made in heaven, and the fresh herbs and yoghurt just round the meal off. If you can’t be bothered with the yoghurt, they are just as yummy with a simple squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters with Sumac Yoghurt
(makes about 15)

3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 large zucchinis)
2 cups grated sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
2 cloves garlic, minced
cup brown rice flour
2 tsp sumac
2 Tbsp flax meal + 6 Tbsp water
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil for frying

Yoghurt:
cup vegan yoghurt (I used homemade cashew based yoghurt)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp sumac
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced

In a small bowl, mix together flax meal and water, along with the oil and lemon juice and set aside.

Using a clean towel or your hands, squeeze as much liquid from the zucchini and sweet potato as possible. Don’t go crazy, just get as much out as you can. Place in a large bowl. Add flour, sumac, parsley, mint and lemon zest and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Add the flax mix to the large bowl and stir to combine. The mixture should be quite thick and ‘gluggy’.

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat, and place spoonfuls of mixture into the pan, pressing them flat with the back of a fork. Cook for a couple of minutes, until golden, then flip and cook the other side.

For the yoghurt, simply stir all ingredients together. Voila! Dinner is served!

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Vegan MoFo 2015 – Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Coulis

Good morning lovely readers, old and new! Welcome to the very first day of the vegan month of food! Who can believe it has already been a year since the last one? Goodness gracious me..

This year, things are going down a little differently. Rather than each participant choosing their own theme to stick to throughout the month, the MoFo team have posted a list of prompts for each day so that everybody participating is chatting about the same thing. I think this has definitely simplified things and perhaps made it easier for more folks to get on board. So without further adieu, today’s prompt:

Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.

Now unless you closed your eyes for the title of this post or even skipped it entirely in a mad rush to get to the rest of this quality post, you’ll see that I’ve gone with a classic – pancakes. I don’t eat a hell of a lot of pancakes, as they have always seemed like a special occasion food because they always appeared for mother’s day or father’s day or christmas or birthdays. But seeing as though it is day one of MoFo, what the hell! 
 
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Hello sweet goodness! If only every day started like this…

If you’re like me and have some serious troubles with flipping pancakes, think about making smaller pikelet sized ones like this! I’ve never made such perfect looking pancakes in my life.

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Coulis
(makes 10-12 smaller pancakes)

1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup mashed banana
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 ½ cups non dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla
Coconut oil for frying

Coulis:
1 ½ cups blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp agave
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp chia seeds (optional, for thickening)

For the pancakes, mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the oil). Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour the wet mix into it, stirring to combine.

Heat a fry pan over medium heat and melt a small amount of coconut oil in it. Scoop pancake batter into the pan – for these smaller pancakes I used a ¼ cup to measure it out. Allow to cook until bubbles have started to form and pop all over each pancake. Carefully flip them using a thin metal spatula and cook for a further couple of minutes, until golden. Continue with the remaining batter.

For the coulis, place blueberries, lemon juice and agave in a small pot and heat over medium low heat. Gently simmer for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries start to break apart. Mash some with a spoon so that they separate. I like to keep some chunk in mine, but if you prefer you can blend and strain the mix later.

Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if necessary. For a thicker sauce, add 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, stir through and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.

Serve pancakes with coulis, fresh fruit, yoghurt, ice cream, or whatever you damn want.

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Simple Hummus

I don’t think I’ve ever posted just a plain old hummus recipe, so here you go. I shouldn’t say ‘plain old’, the humble hummus is a friend of many, loyal and reliable, delicious and nutritious, saving vegans from hunger at parties since forever. Let’s hear it for hummus!

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I’m sure you all know the drill with old mate hummus – flavours can be altered with the interchanging of spices and the addition of other tasties like roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and herbs. But this here is what I’d call my standard hummus.

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Simple Hummus

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tbsp unhulled tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt (optional)

Making hummus isn’t rocket science – you can just chuck all the ingredients together and blend them up. But I do have an order of preference – I start with the lemon juice, garlic and oil and blend until smooth. Next add the tahini and blend again until combined. Then add spices and chickpeas and blend until smooth. If mix is too thick, try adding a little more oil or some of the juice from the chickpeas (or water). Taste for seasoning, and serve with some olive oil and fresh parsley.

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See you in a few days, MoFo’s!

Baked Rice Paper Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce

Winter is usually about soups, curries, stews and other hearty dishes, but sometimes you just need something a little more colourful. Rice paper rolls are the ultimate summer dish, but no longer are they banished to hot weather alone.

The great thing about rice paper rolls is how versatile they are – you can pretty much make them with whatever you have on hand. As a result, each time I make them they are slightly different. While I’ve only included veggies in these ones, I often add a strip of marinated tofu or tempeh to each roll, or even some edamame beans or avocado (though I haven’t tried avo in the baked version). When I am making fresh rice paper rolls, I always tend to separate out each ingredient and place them neatly in the rolls, but with these I’ve just mixed all the bits up in a bowl and chucked them in – perhaps more reminiscent of a spring roll filling. Easy as bro.

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Like the filling, the dipping sauce I use varies each time – sometimes I just grab some sweet chili or rice wine vinegar and soy straight from the bottles, or sometimes I feel inspired to whip something up especially. I initially intended to do a peanut dipping sauce, but after finding there was no peanut butter (sacrilege!) I improvised with cashews and sesame oil, which had quite a similar effect.

I did have a go at pan frying these dudes, and then tried baking them – while they were both good, I preferred the texture of the baked ones which seemed to get a little crispier while still retaining some chewiness, as well as being less oily.

bakedricepaperrolls1Baked Rice Paper Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce
(makes about 22)

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup spring onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrot, julienned (about 1 large carrot)
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
100g brown rice vermicelli noodles
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 chili, finely chopped
Rice paper sheets

Olive oil for brushing

Cashew dipping sauce:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sriracha
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

Preheat oven to 180C, and line two baking trays with paper.

Place vermicelli noodles in a bowl, and cover with warm water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together cabbages, spring onions, carrot, mint, coriander and bean sprouts. When noodles are tender, drain them and using kitchen scissors, roughly chop them so they become smaller pieces. Add to the bowl with the veggies.

In a small bowl, mix together chili, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the veggie mix.

Now prepare a large bowl with warm water to dip the rice paper sheets in. One at a time, lay out the sheets, place filling in the centre and roll up, folding the sides in first then rolling away from yourself. If you aren’t familiar with how to wrap rice paper rolls, jump on youtube and do a quick search.

Lay rice paper rolls down on the prepared trays, then spray or brush with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 10-15.

To make the dipping sauce, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If too thick, keep adding water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

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Apple, Rhubarb and Orange Crumble

My idea of a what constitutes a good crumble goes something like this: LOTS of crumble. Getting enough crumble that you have enough to take you to the last bite is an important balance to create, much like ensuring the ice cream will last the distance. Of course I always need to add a little extra to account for the crumble I will inevitably eat off the top before I’ve even served it as well. The last time I made crumble, I was so set on having enough topping that I ended up with a container of it left over that I physically could not fit on top. Luckily it was put to good use with some banana crumble muffins later on.

This is the perfect way to use some of that rhubarb that is going gangbusters at the moment, and the perfect dessert to have on a cool winter’s evening. In fact, it even works well as a breakfast (though you probably shouldn’t include the ice cream like I did the other morning – it IS kind of like the milk on the cereal of crumble, that makes sense right?)

applerhubarborangecrumbleWhile I am also a fan of a simple crumble topping, I also like to pack it full of goodies, and I tend to just throw whatever I have on hand in – sometimes various nuts, seeds and even the odd gingernut biscuit. I like the combination in this one, but you can quite easily substitute more preferred items in place of the ones I’ve used.

applerhubarborangecrumble4It makes me laugh how spherical the ice cream is in this photo – it’s almost too perfect. Is there someone I can talk to about that?

Apple, Rhubarb and Orange Crumble
(serves 4-6)

3 Granny Smith apples (approx 2 cups)
4 stalks rhubarb (approx 2 cups)
Juice of 1 orange (approx 1/3 cup)
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp arrowroot + 2 Tbsp water

Crumble topping:
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup flour (I used spelt here, but have used various flours with no problems)
1/3 cup nuttelex (or coconut oil)
2 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

Chop your apple and rhubarb into manageable chunks, and place them in a medium saucepan along with the orange juice and zest, coconut sugar, spices and vanilla. Heat over a medium-low heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened.

In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot and water. Take fruit off the heat and stir through arrowroot mix. Pour into a baking dish – I used a large ramekin for this.

To prepare the crumble, place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Throw in the nuttelex in small chunks, and using your hands rub it through the mix. Sure, you could do it with a spoon, but I like to get amongst it. Distribute the crumble evenly over the fruit mix, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden and the fruit mix is bubbling a little at the sides. Serve with ice cream, cream, yoghurt, or any damn thing you like.

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Smoky Minestrone Soup with Pesto

As we reach winter solstice and the temperature keeps dropping, there’s nothing quite like a hot and hearty bowl of soup to keep you warm. It’s been a while since I’ve had minestrone, my main memories of it are from cold weekends when Mum or Nanna would cook up a big pot for the family. It always seemed a bit special to me that there was cooking going on for lunch, and we’d all sit at the table to eat.

Smoked paprika gives this one a little more depth of flavour, and the pesto just ties it all together beautifully. I like to sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top too just for good measure (not to mention those B vitamins!)

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Smoky Minestrone Soup with Pesto
(serves 6-8)

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 400g cans diced tomato
6 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, diced (approx 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (approx 2 cups)
1 large zucchini, diced (approx 2 1/2 cups)
2 potatoes, diced (approx 2 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 cup macaroni or other small pasta
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pesto:
1 cup tightly packed basil
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery and saute until softened – about five minutes. Add zucchini, potato, green beans, paprika, chili flakes and thyme and saute for another minute.

Add tomatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until potato is tender – about 15-20 minutes. Turn up to bring to a boil again and add macaroni, chickpeas and cannellini beans. Reduce heat and continue to simmer until pasta cooked, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom.

While cooking, prepare the pesto: place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined. Set aside.

Once pasta cooked, stir in tomato paste, fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve up and top with pesto.

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The Best Smokey Vegan Sausage Rolls

Doing photo shoots with food is a funny thing. It’s not something I know or pretend to know much about, I just have a go and see what happens. I haven’t quite found my own style yet, I am quite haphazard and while I like warm rich tones, natural light and shadows that would indicate inside shots suit me best, I am often rushing to snap something before the sun goes down and as a result often photograph outside to catch the last remaining light.

I had to laugh at myself when I found myself frustrated that I didn’t know how to make sausage rolls look good. Does one stack sausage rolls, or line them up in a neat little line?

Who cares how they look? They taste great!

srolls1I find myself doing strange things to try and get a photo that I’m happy with. Grabbing random props, whatever is within arm’s reach. This time some fresh lettuce from the garden for some colour. I don’t know why you would serve a whole stack of sausage rolls with two leaves of lettuce, but I was not pondering the realistic nature of the arrangement at this time.

As I said – I am no photographer, though I have come a long way since the first posts on this blog, where we were living and traveling in our van, cooking on a little gas stove and snapping photos with a phone on the grass outside our van door. Those were the days! Hopefully one day I will be able to bring round two of van life cooking to you, but for now you’ll have to settle for these awkwardly captured sausage rolls.

srolls2The Best Smokey Vegan Sausage Rolls

3 sheets prepared puff pastry
450g tempeh
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 carrot, grated
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprkia
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp soy milk
Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C and grease or line a couple of baking trays.

Crumble tempeh with your hands into a large bowl. Mix in onion and garlic.

Put walnuts in a processor and pulse a few times or roughly chop so that they are smallish. Add to the bowl. Do the same with the oats – pulse a few times. You could use quick oats or leave them whole, but this is how I roll.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Cut each piece of puff pastry in half. Place filling down the centre of each half and roll up. Cut to the desired size. Lay out on baking trays (give them a little space to puff). Slash the top of each sausage roll a few times with a sharp knife, then brush with soy milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cook for 25-30 mins, until puffy and golden brown.

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Fruity Leathers

Since my parents invested in a dehydrator, whenever I’m going on a camping trip I like to pop around and make up some goodies (only to have to return a day later to retrieve them). I usually do a couple of variations of crackers, a few variations of fruit leathers and some fruit or veggie crisps – it’s a great way to pack nutritious snacks that are easy to transport and keep well, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to making up different flavour combinations.

fleather1These are my latest three fruit leather blends. Instructions are very straight forward and apply to whatever combination you go with. I’m still working out some things with different fruits producing different textures – when I’ve used apples the mix tends to separate a bit and crack, others produce a stickier mix – regardless, all I’ve done have been tasty.

Cherry Vanilla Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chia seeds

fleather2Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 pears, chopped and cores removed
1 apple, chopped and core removed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice

fleather3Banana Berry Mint Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 x bananas
250g strawberrys, hulled
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint

fleather4Instructions:

Chuck all your ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth and of spreadable consistency. If it is too runny, try adding some chia seeds, and likewise if too thick add some liquid – either citrus juice or a spash of water. Pour mixture onto a teflex sheet on a dehydrator tray and spread evenly, to about half a centimetre or just a little more in thickness. Dehydrate at 60C for 1 hour, then reduce to 40C and continue to dehydrate for about 8 – 12 hours. The time will vary depending on the fruit, thickness, etc, so just check in every now and then to see if it’s ready.

I have seen some people instruct to peel and flip the leather part way through – I have not tried this method yet, but can verify that it seems to work just fine leaving on the one side.

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Orecchiette with Lemon, Mint and Peas

This seems more like a spring recipe to me, but with the weather we’ve been having here you would hardly know it’s summer so I’m going to sneak it in anyway. Spring is usually when gardens have an abundance of lovely fresh peas, so if you have some growing, you might want to make use of them in place of the frozen ones I’ve used here.

I love the fresh flavours in this dish, and I especially love that it can be thrown together in no time for a satisfying weeknight meal. Almost a year into my ‘real job’, I’m really finding the value in speedy weeknight meals. Gotta love some down time in the evenings!

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Orecchiette with Lemon, Mint and Peas
(serves 4 – 6)

500g dried orecchiette
1 Tbsp rice bran oil (or other cooking oil)
2Tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups rocket
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
Pinch salt
Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and add orecchiette. Cook according to packet directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat rice bran oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for a couple of minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add peas to the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes – until heated through – then remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes.

In a larger bowl, combine drained orecchiette, pea mix and lemon juice blend and stir to combine. Add mint and stir through. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Separate into bowls and top with a handful of rocket before serving.

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Hello 2015 and Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad

Hellooo everyone and happy 2015! I’m back! I was never really gone, but I’ve had a busy couple of months – moving house, festival-ing, having family over from Perth, going on a mini-holiday, Christmas, New Years, ALL THAT JAZZ. It’s hard to believe that one and a half months slipped away from me just like that, but it’s been lots of fun and I’m now feeling a lot more relaxed and grounded in my new home. Our house has lots of light, lovely floorboards, a rocking kitchen, an outdoor patio and a BACKYARD. I am still very excited by this and I have been here a month now.

I have so much to share with you, but I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed with it today and instead I’ll just hit you with a lovely simple noodle salad recipe. This is a great one for summer because there is pretty minimal cooking involved. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a bunch more summer-friendly recipes. I’ve always been a fan of stronger flavours, and this one packs quite a tangy punch thanks to the combination of rice wine vinegar, sriracha and ginger. Nothing like a good hit of ginger to boost the old immune system!

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Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad
(serves 4)

3-4 carrots
1 medium red capsicum
6 spring onions
2 cups frozen edamame
2 cups snow pea tendrils
200g buckwheat soba noodles
3 Tbsp black sesame seeds

Dressing:
4 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sriracha
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

Prepare your veggies – using a julienne peeler, a mandolin or a really sharp knife and a bit of patience, cut your carrots and set aside. Julienne the red capsicum, and chop your spring onions into 1cm chunks.

Cook your noodles according to instructions, and in the final minute or two, throw in the edamames.

Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside, and lightly toast sesame seeds in a pan over low heat until fragrant.

Drain noodles and edamame, and place in a large bowl along with carrot, spring onion, capsicum and snow pea tendrils. Pour over dressing and toss to combine. Top with toasted black sesame seeds.

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