Nanna James’ Shortbread

Today is going to be quick and simple as it is sunny outside and the banana lounge is calling.

Veganise an old family recipe.

I recall as a child Nanna James’ shortbread, or at least versions of it cooked by other family members. I would help at Christmas time cut little tiny pieces of red and green glacé cherries and arrange them into little hollies on top – some of my favourite memories.

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After the retro recipe theme of the other week, I stumbled across Nanna’s handwritten recipe in the back of her CWA cookbook.

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I did not do anything to change the shortbread itself (other than convert measurements and use vegan butter, oh, and add a dash of vanilla). Of course Nanna’s shortbread did not have chocolate and sea salt on top, but I thought I’d zazz it up a bit for MoFo. The shortbread itself is not super sweet, so the chocolate is a nice addition. If that’s not your thing, just leave it out.

0M4A0542bI didn’t use cutters to shape these (obviously) as this is how we did it when I was little, unless we were rolling out Christmas shapes in which case you might see stars, hearts and trees. The little misshapen logs please me.

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Nanna’s Shortbread
(makes about 24)

1½ cups vegan butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
150g dark chocolate
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with electric beaters. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Add flour and cornflour, and rub with fingers until a dough is formed. Either roll out your dough and cut shapes if you swing that way, or simply mould little logs and place on the prepared tray. Use a fork to put a few pricks in the top.

Bake for approx 20 mins, or until slightly golden.

If using chocolate, melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip each shortbread in, then sprinkle with a little sea salt.

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broccoliweb

Crumbed Eggplant Bánh Mì

I’ve been kind of absent the past few days, I had hoped for a few more posts with good intentions of sharing some lamingtons with you. Unfortunately the time pressure meant that said lamingtons never saw the light of day. Oh well, some other time. But for now, today’s prompt:

Lunch on the go.

I am usually at work when I need to get lunch ‘on the go’, and there are two things I usually pick from to fit the bill – bánh mì (from one of the multiple places along Smith st) or sushi from Wabi Sabi Salon. My favourite place for bánh mì is Trang Bakery as they have a range of vegan options on offer. Unfortunately it is down the far end of Smith st to me, which means it can be a bit of a challenge to get to in my half hour lunch break. But as I do outreach work, I’m often driving from or back to the office and can stop at Trang on the way/back. My favourite bánh mì there is the tempura eggplant – it is the absolute bomb diggity.

So today, I’ve made my own eggplant bánh mì as an homage to Trang. This is certainly not something speedy to make (although if you had all the constituents made ahead it is quick to throw together) but it’s definitely something you can eat on the run. Well I can anyway.

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At Trang Bakery, they put a colourful relish-like spread on the rolls in place of pâté, which is both mysterious and delicious. As I did not have the willpower to try and replicate it, I’ve created my bánh mìs with a mushroom pâté and a sriracha blended mayonnaise. I’m a big fan of all the extras – plenty of chilli, crushed peanuts and fried shallots. They also drizzle something out of a squeezie bottle on them at Trang which is a little sweet, and I suspect might be hoisin or a blend. I did some drizzling of my own of hoisin and it tasted great. It’s a keeper.

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Try not to be alarmed by the great ingredients list – all the processes are simple, and only involve a little time. The most consuming activity is the battering of the eggplant, but once that’s out of the way it’s all smooth sailing.

Crumbed Eggplant Bánh Mì
(makes 4)

4 bread rolls
1 Lebanese cucumber
, julienned
¼ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
4 chillis, sliced (optional)

2 Tbsp crushed peanuts (optional)
2 Tbsp fried shallots (optional)
Hoisin sauce for drizzling

Eggplant:
2 Japanese eggplants
1/3 cup cornflour
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
¾ cup soy milk
¼ cup flour
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper
Spray olive oil

Pickled veg:
½ cup carrot, julienned
½ cup daikon, julienned
½ cup warm water
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Mushroom Pâté:
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups cremini mushrooms, diced
1 small onion, diced (about
¼ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½  cup cashews, toasted
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Sriracha Mayonaisse:
¼ cup vegan mayonaiise
1 tbsp sriracha
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce

For the eggplant:
Peel eggplants and slice them diagonally into rounds. Salt them and leave them in a colander over the sink for about 15 minutes to allow some of the liquid to drain. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with paper. Place cornflour in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together soy milk, flour, garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper. In a third bowl, place the breadcrumbs. Take each piece of eggplant and coat with cornflour in the first bowl, before dredging it in the batter mixture and then coating in bread crumbs. Repeat with each piece, then spray with olive oil. Flip and spray the other side. Place in the oven for approx 30 minutes – flipping once – until lightly browned.

For the pickles:
Dissolve sugar in the warm water in a small bowl. Add rice wine vinegar, salt, carrot and daikon and submerge the vegetables. Set aside.

For the mayo:
In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together. Set aside.

For the pâté:
Heat sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute for five minutes. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a blender or food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

To assemble:
Slice open bread rolls and spread pâté on the bottom and sriracha mayo on the top. Arrange eggplant on the bottom, followed by eggplant, pickled veg, coriander and chili. Sprinkle with fried shallots and peanuts if using, then drizzle with hoi sin sauce.

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cornweb

Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta

What’s your favourite late summer food?

It’s been a little easier to remember what summer food is like after the last weekend of weather. A taste of warm sun rays have brought about the craving for fresh food and cold beers. There were a few things that I thought of sharing today, including barbecued veggie kebabs and rice paper rolls, but I decided to do another revamp of an old one, one that was a staple during our van year. And yes, we had a spiraliser in the van. What of it.

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When I first started eating zucchini noodles, I was surprised at how much more filling they seemed when created in this shape. I’m sure I wouldn’t feel quite as satisfied from eating a whole zucchini. We have eaten many variations on this dish, usually with whatever’s on hand and sometimes going as far as to lightly saute them to heat them up (with satay sauce, mmm). Pretty versatile. This is a particularly easy one – perfect for those late summer nights when you just don’t want to deal with putting any extra heat in the kitchen.If you already have some pesto prepared, it comes together in a matter of minutes.

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Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta
(serves 2)

2 smallish/medium zucchinis
3 Tbsp pesto, like this, this or this!

1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp pepitas
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the ends off your zucchinis, and using a spiraliser, create noodles with them and place in a bowl.

Combine pesto and lemon juice, and mix through noodles. Taste for seasoning.

Separate noodles into two bowls, then top with cherry tomatoes and pepitas. Voila!

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tomatoweb

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan.

As I start to have less and less time to keep up with MoFo, I have fallen back on some old favourites to get me through the days. Besides, for some time I have been meaning to revisit some older posts to give them a bit of a revamp – since I have gotten a new camera and learned a little more about taking nicer photos. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to delete the old gems, that would be like Silverchair being embarrassed of their Frogstomp songs (I’m pretty sure they said they were).

Despite trying to revamp it I still was not happy with how it came out – turns out it is bloody hard to make cannelloni look good, particularly when under time constraints. Oh well.

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I didn’t share this with a non-vegan today, but I have many times before. I’m going to quote my original cannelloni blog post now as it seems to fit:

“This is one of my favourite meals to cook when people are coming over for dinner, as it’s so easy to do a big pan full to share. It’s also a go-to when cooking for meat lovers as it never fails to impress – it’s one of those ‘see how normal/delicious vegan food is?!?’ dishes. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but is totally worth it.”

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni
(serves 6-8)

1½ cups button mushrooms, diced
½ tsp oil
1 cup walnuts
250g frozen spinach
1½ boxes cannelloni tubes (the type that don’t need pre-cooking)
Vegan cheese, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Sauce:
½ tsp oil
1 medium brown onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
600g crushed tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Handful fresh basil, torn
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper

Tofu ricotta:
450g firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup nutritional yeast
Handful of basil, torn
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.

Toast the walnuts in a pan over low heat, then chop finely and set aside.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in ½ tsp oil for about 3-5 minutes until soft, and set aside.

Defrost spinach and set aside.

For the sauce, saute onions in ½ tsp oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir in tomato paste, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for five minutes, then take off heat. From here, you can whizz up the sauce in a blender/with a stick blender if you’d like a smooth consistency, or else leave it chunky.

For the tofu ricotta, crumbled the tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Don’t worry about pressing any liquid out of it, as a wetter mix is better for to ensure the pasta tubes to cook. Add garlic, oil, lemon juice, yeast flakes and basil and stir well. Add mushrooms, walnuts and spinach and mix through. Taste for seasoning.

To assemble, spread a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce across the bottom of a large baking dish. This is important as the dry cannelloni tubes need to come in contact with some moisture on all sides to ensure they cook properly.

Fill tubes with tofu mix, however you please. I used to use a butter knife to poke it in but these days I just get my hands dirty as I find it’s quicker and easier. Lay the tubes side by side in the dish

Cover with remaining sauce, and poke a knife between each tube to allow a bit of sauce to seep in between them. Pop in the oven to cook according to packet directions. I like to cook mine for about 30 minutes, add cheese and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until tubes are tender.

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broccoliweb

Kitchen Tour

This weekend has been a bit of a blur for me – one of my housemates is moving out and we’ve been busy holding ‘interviews’ for the room. Unfortunately that has meant I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to check out all the MoFo posting going on, but I hope to be able to sneak a bit more in this week. Funnily enough, I’m actually really looking forward to taking tours of peoples’ kitchens to see where the magic happens. I’m kind of a creep like that.

It’s kitchen tour time!

And with that I’ll give you a whirlwind tour of my kitchen! I live in a rented sharehouse (with 5 other people including my boyfriend) which boyfriend and I got the lease on late last year. Sometimes we dream of winning the lottery so that we can buy the house ourselves, though the chances of that are pretty non-existent (seeing as though we never buy lottery tickets…)

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The kitchen is a strange combination of modern and retro – you can tell that in it’s time it would have been pretty swish-o.

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We’ve got this rad old oven. When we moved it in was one of my biggest concerns, however it works really well and I’m now in love with it. Everything is in fahrenheit, despite the fact that we do things in celsius. There’s a rotisserie and some other random switches that we’re not quite sure about.

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There’s remnants of some really old school features like this old dishwasher ‘interface’. I bet dishwashers were a total luxury back in this time. My bad for not cleaning this very well.

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Also this – we think it may have been a sweet blender dock thingy. It’s build into the bench top and there is evidence of where power used to connect to it in the cupboard below. If anyone can confirm this or offer another theory we would love to know.

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My pride and joy in the form of a spice rack. I build this out of an old pallet. I talked about it for months before I finally did it. Now I tell everyone about it.

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Being on a role, I also build a hot sauce rack to keep our ever-growing collection of hot sauces (including a few homemade ones). Unfortunately this was full before it was even built and we already have an overflow of botles.

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Our little succulent teacups – these are mostly teacups that got broken but I didn’t want to throw away. I have a collection of these Japanese stacking mugs which I love – I’m very fond of Japanese, Norwegian and Danish crockery.

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My yoghurt maker! My brother got this for me one birthday years back. I love it. I always have some cashew yoghurt in the fridge, which is far more delicious than any vegan yoghurt alternative I’ve found on the market.

kitchen7This makes me laugh – one of my housemates tore this out of a catalogue for me. It’s a poke at the fact that I panicked when I heard there may be a disease hitting Australian banana crops and I thought the prices would skyrocket. I froze about four containers of chopped bananas “just in case”. The disease and price hike never happened.

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A little snow pea harvest from our garden. Yum.

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A peek into my pantry. Only a peek as the rest is too messy for prying eyes. I like to keep a lot of staples like nuts, legumes and dried fruit in jars. Also vegemite.

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Finally some beers. We enjoyed a couple of these this afternoon in the backyard as spring as started to bring us some warm rays. Ahhhhhh.

And that concludes today’s kitchen tour, hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. Until next time!

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Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Families and a Giveaway

Tell us about your favourite cookbook.

Today’s theme was a little difficult for me – I have so many cookbooks I love for so many different reasons. However I decided to go with my newest cookbook, Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Families. For full disclosure, I was lucky enough to actually win a copy of this book through Of The Kitten Kind’s blog, but I had been eyeing it off for some time as I have long been a fan of Dreena’s books that I already have – Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and Let Them Eat Vegan.

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Plant-Powered Families boasts “over 100 kid-tester, whole-foods vegan recipes”. Now I don’t currently have kids, but I can sure appreciate simple, wholesome and satisfying recipes, particularly when they are creative enough to make health whole foods seem decadent. While the flavours are fairly mild in the recipes, they are easy to tweak if you prefer a little more kick. I also love how quick the dishes I’ve tried have come together – even without kids I enjoy being able to whip something up to have on the table within half an hour, leaving me plenty of time in the evenings to get on with other things.

One of the great things about Plant-Powered Families is that there is a beautiful photo to go with each recipe. You heard me. A PHOTO WITH EACH RECIPE. I totally eat with my eyes, and when I’m flicking through a cookbook I love to be able to see what I am making. The photos I’m sharing today are straight from the book.

Plant-Powered Families also has a lot of extra useful information included like nutrient charts, example meal plans and info on how to make and cook staple items, making wholesome eating that much easier.

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During the week, the Bear and I came home from the gym with tummies rumbling, and we combined forces to make the Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry (page 166). This came together very quickly (as any good stir-fry should) and we served it on soba noodles. It was tasty and satisfying, the Bear particularly liked it which says it all – he is not a big fan of stir-fries, they have to be something rather special to get a compliment out of him.

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We’ve been making our own peanut butter, so I jumped at the chance to use it in something different like the Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl (page 177). I made a batch of these for the Bear and I to take to work for an afternoon treat. I already had some homemade berry chia jam in the fridge, so I used that in place of the berrylicious swirl. These puddings were super decadent, and a few spoonfuls were enough to stave off those afternoon sweet cravings that I tend to get. I would be interested to try the alternative suggestion of almond butter with orange zest in it, so will have to put that on the list.

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We also made the Saucy BBQ Chickpeas with Green Beans, which we served with some quinoa and some hot sauce for an extra kick. With permission from the lovely Dreena herself, I’m sharing this recipe with y’all.

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans
Serves 4This is a very unassuming recipe, but the final dish is something more than its parts, full of bold flavor and very satisfying. Serve over rice or quinoa, or in wraps with avocado (have I mentioned avocado goes with just about anything)?1½ cups green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup natural ketchup
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 medium cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce (optional; see note)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup minced shallot or onion
2½ cups chickpeas (see note)
 
First, blanch the green beans. Bring 2–3 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the beans, let cook for just a minute or two until vibrant green, then strain and run under cold water. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a bowl, whisk together the ketchup, tahini, Dijon mustard, garlic, vinegar, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, and chipotle hot sauce, and then whisk in the water. Once well incorporated, stir in the shallots.

Add the chickpeas and stir through. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.

Add the green beans, stir through, re-cover, and bake for another 4–5 minutes (not much longer, or the beans will turn a gray color). Remove and serve.

Hot Sauce Note: Chipotle hot sauce adds more smoky heat than spicy heat, but if you think the kiddos will be sensitive to it, feel free to omit.

Beans Note: If you are a little short on green beans, you can sub extra chickpeas—for example, you can use 1 cup of green beans and 3 cups of chickpeas. Or, if you prefer more green beans, you can do that too, and use less chickpeas! It’s a flexible recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Serve over a cooked grain like basmati brown rice, quinoa, or millet. A little chopped avocado on top is especially delicious!

Next on my to-make list are the Crazy Brownies (page 182), Polenta Pizza Crust (page 137) and the Umami Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Burgers (page 144 and pictured below)

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In light of my love of this cookbook (and my luck at getting a free copy), I’ve decided to purchase another copy to give to one lucky reader from anywhere in the world. If you’d like that lucky reader to be you, check out the competition widget below. Winner will be chosen Sunday 20th September.

For further information about Plant-Powered Families and to keep up with what Dreena is doing, check out her website at Plant Powered Kitchen.

Plant-Powered Families Giveaway
tomatoweb

Golden Kraut

Focus on a nutrient.

I may be bending the rules a little on this one – I don’t know if probiotics quite fit into the nutrient category but in terms of beneficial things for your body I definitely think that they are up there. Probiotics are good bacteria that help your body with digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as prevent bad bacteria taking over your system – they are our little buddies that like to help keep everything in balance. I’m sure that’s a very layman’s explanation, but that’s my understanding (also I often picture the little blue dudes from the probiotic ads that battle all the baddies for us).

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So since I did a couple of fermentation workshops I have been pretty obsessed with fermenting stuff. I haven’t experimented a whole lot, in that I’ve really stuck with the things I know – kim chi, sauerkraut and salsa. I try to remember to have a little bit of fermented goodness every day, often I will treat it as though it’s a salad dressing, packing it in my work lunches.

One thing I have played around with though is variations of sauerkraut. After having a few store bought versions from the health food store, I started scanning the ingredients lists for ideas. One of the ones that I had enjoyed most included carrot and turmeric and was a beautiful vibrant colour. Turmeric is well known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties, so I like to incorporate it into my diet as much as possible.

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Golden Kraut
(makes 2 large jars)

2 small green cabbages (about 1.5kg)
3 large carrots (about 600g)
1 Tbsp fresh turmeric
2 Tbsp fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp sea salt
1½ tsp celery seeds
Pinch of chili (optional)

Sterilise two large glass jars in preparation for the kraut.

Remove outer layers of cabbage and put aside for later. Chop cabbage finely and place in a large bowl. I actually had to use two bowls for this recipe as my bowls were not large enough. Grate carrots and add to bowl. Use a microplane grater to grate turmeric and ginger, and add to bowl, along with garlic, salt, celery seeds and chili (if using).

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You may want to use gloves for this part as turmeric can leave you with lovely yellow stains on your skin. Using your hands, squeeze and mash the cabbage mix. breaking up the fibres, for a good few minutes. You will notice that the mixture will reduce in size and liquid will start to release from the veggies. When it’s about half the size it started, put a heavy bowl (or a lighter bowl with some heavy items in it) on top of the mixture to weigh it down, allowing more liquid to release from the mix. Leave for 15-30 minutes.

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Come back and remove the bowl. Pack the cabbage into your prepared jars, making sure to push the mix below the liquid. Leave about an inch of free space at the top of the jar, as the mixture may expand during the fermentation process. It is also important that the cabbage mix remain submerged in the liquid so that mould does not grow on top. If there is not enough liquid, add a little water. Once packed, you can press one of the outer leaves of cabbage into the top of the jar to help keep the kraut submerged. From here, you can either place the lid on top or put a weight on top of the mix (a jar full of liquid, or one of those awesome ceramic weights) with a clean damp towel covering it. Leave out of direct sunlight for 5-7 days, checking each day to ensure the kraut remains submerged (if it is not, just push it back under with a clean utensil). Remove cabbage leaf, transfer to fridge and begin to enjoy! Make sure you always use a clean utensil when dishing out the kraut.

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broccoliweb

 

Raw Blueberry Cheesecakes

Something blue.

I’m probably taking the easy path here, but I was struggling to come up with an idea for something blue that wasn’t drowned in food dye. I get that blueberries are not particularly blue when used to cook with, but blue makes up part of the word so I’m going to go with it. Also it’s pretty late and I don’t have time to come up with anything else. And these are pretty.

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This may look more complex than it is because of the subsections of ingredients, but raw desserts are often very straight forward and easy. It’s just a matter of blending ingredients and pouring them in. The most time consuming part is the soaking and waiting for them to set.

I’ve got a bunch of these stored in my freezer now which I’m bringing out sporadically when I want a quick treat. As you can probably imagine, I’m sure these would be great with raspberries, strawberries or a combination of all of them.

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Raw Blueberry Cheesecakes
(makes about 20 mini cakes)

Base:
¾ cup dates, soaked
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup almonds
pinch of salt

White layer:
1½ cups cashews, soaked
¼ cup agave nectar
¼ cup coconut oil, liquified
2 tsp vanilla
1Tbsp lime juice

Blue layer:
1½ cups cashews, soaked
1½ cups blueberries (I used frozen)
¼ cup coconut oil, liquified
¼ cup agave nectar

Chia jam::
2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Start by preparing the base – combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until they form a thick mixture. If it’s too dry, you can add a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together – it should be tacky, but not so sticky that you can’t work with it. Break of small pieces of mixture and press into bases of mini muffin tray, making the base a couple of millimetres thick – I used a silicone tray as they were easier to pop out at the end.

Blend white layer ingredients until smooth. Pour evenly on top of the prepared bases, filling each case to about half way. Put tray in the freezer to set.

Now do the same with the blue layer – blend until smooth and fill up each case until it is level with the top – smooth over to make even. Return to the freezer to set.

To prepare the jam, place blueberries, agave and lime juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries start to come apart. Using the back of a fork or spoon, mash some of the blueberries. Add chia seeds and stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to sit – the chia seeds will absorb a lot of moisture and thicken the jam. Allow to cool.

Once the cheesecakes have set, pop them out of their moulds and top with a spoonful of jam and some extra blueberries. I find it best to keep these dudes in the freezer, taking them out 15 minutes before you want to eat them to allow them to soften a little.

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Golden Syrup Dumplings

Most retro recipe.

In trying to plan for today’s theme, I was flicking through old Women’s Weekly Cookbooks from the ’70’s, looking for outdated and kitsch recipes (preferably with a pineapple and toothpicks) but nothing really grabbed me. Then I was over at my mum and dad’s place, and mum handed me a Country Women’s Association cookbook from the 1940’s that once upon a time belonged to my great Nanna James. The CWA is the largest women’s organisation in Australia, and since 1922 have been well known throughout the country (mainly for their jams, chutneys, knitted goods and lamingtons amongst other baked goods). The CWA initiated with the goal of improving conditions for women, particularly those living rurally, and have since assisted with emergency relief, education funds and workshops, amongst other benevolent things.

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Flicking through the pages, it is clear that most recipes have similar and basic ingredients, created prior to much multicultural influence in Australia. Common ingredients include butter or dripping, flour, breadcrumbs, sugar and eggs. There are some mock meat recipes which initially had me excited, however I soon discovered that the mock goose was made of liver and the mock brains made of left over porridge and egg. It was certainly an age of ration and limited wastage.

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There are some pretty neat ads to take note of, including the one repping this kerosene operated fridge.

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And this one from the dried fruits board (awesome) spruiking currants, sultanas and raisins. Amazing.

Anyway, I digress. When I found golden syrup dumplings I knew this was the recipe for today, as it fits the retro bill and also brings back nice memories from childhood when mum used to make this for us. Boy were they a treat with their sweet sticky sauce and a dollop of cream or ice cream. Initially when I veganised this recipe directly from the CWA book it did not turn out how I remembered enjoying golden syrup dumplings as a child. The sauce was not as thick and caramel-y, rather a bit too thin. Then I recalled Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe posting a recipe for golden syrup dumplings a while back that I had made and it had turned out wonderfully. So I tinkered with the CWA recipe, adding some sugar to the syrup which made all the difference. Ahhhh sugar.

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Golden Syrup Dumplings
(serves 3-4)

Syrup:
3 Tbsp golden syrup
¼ cup coconut or brown sugar
1 Tbsp vegan butter
cups water

Dumplings:
1 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup vegan butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
3 Tbsp water or non-dairy milk
Pinch of salt

Place syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, rub together flour and butter with your hands. Add remaining ingredients and mix to form a thick dough. While it will be tacky, you should be able to use your hands to roll it into balls. Get heaped dessert spoonfuls of dough and roll into small balls. Drop the balls into the syrup mixture, and simmer, covered, for approximately 10-15 minutes, until dumplings have increased in size and sauce has thickened. Serve with cream or ice cream.

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tomatoweb

 

 

 

 

Oven Roasted Ratatouille Beans with Toasted Breadcrumbs & Basil Oil

A bit of a mouthful, but a totally delicious one.

Re-create a restaurant meal.

Today I am recreating a dish that I have only eaten once from a cafe that I have only been to once, however my experience there was so memorable that I have talked about it several times since. The cafe is Mixed Business in Clifton Hill, and I went with a group of about 15-20 people from work for a group brunch on a weekday. The service was outstanding and friendly, and I was just awed by the fact that they were able to bring out all of our dishes at the same time with so many of us there. Not only that, they were freaking delicious.

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I had avocado on toast with a side of slow roasted ratatouille beans. The beans were topped with toasted crumbs and a drizzle of basil oil. Outrageously good. Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the dish on the day, nor do I have a photographic memory, so I was trying to recreate the idea in my head here. It worked out great, and this will definitely be a rotation in our weekend breakfasts.

Note, I started out using fresh tomatoes and then added crushed tomatoes to make the beans more saucy. I’m sure if you wanted to use a whole can of crushed tomatoes and omit the fresh ones it will be much the same.

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Slow Roasted Ratatouille Beans with Toasted Crumbs and Basil Oil
(serves 3-4 as a side)

1 medium eggplant, diced (roughly 3 cups) skin on or off
1 red capsicum, diced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp oil
cups cooked butter beans
3 Tbsp tomato paste + ¼ cup water
200g crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Breadcrumbs:
2 slices of stale bread, crusts removed

Basil oil:
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 220C. Place onion, garlic, eggplant, capsicum, chopped tomatoes in a large baking dish and toss with olive oil. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste and water. Add tomato paste mix, crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Return to oven for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check that the eggplant is tender, and the sauce is nice and thick. If it needs a little longer, you may want to add a little more liquid to keep it at the right consistency.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the basil oil. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the basil leaves for no more than a minute. Transfer to icy water to cool. Blend basil, oil and salt as best as possible, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

To prepare the breadcrumbs, tear up the pieces of bread and place in a food processor. Process until crumbs are formed. Spread crumbs out onto a baking tray and pop in the oven, bake until crumbs are golden – 5 – 10 minutes. Make sure you stir them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and put aside.

To prepare, serve up some beans, sprinkle on some breadcrumbs and top with a drizzle of basil oil. Serve with a side of avo on toast, of course.

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