Friday, December 23, 2011

Cauliflower risotto

Christmas can be a logistical nightmare for trying to get families together. For many years, we would have a lunch with one family followed by a dinner with the other family on Christmas Day which was quite exhausting. In more recent times, our first family gathering kicks off on Christmas Eve with my side of the family. Christmas Day is relatively quiet consisting of a brunch with the man's family followed by a proper lunch on Boxing Day. It feels more relaxing to have the festivities spread out over a few days and it also gives me plenty of time for cooking!

Over the last few years I have made a couple of nut roasts from Johanna's Green Gourmet Giraffe blog, a tofurkey discovered on Where's The Beef and Carla from easy as vegan pie's cauliflower and caramelised onion tart amongst other things. This year I wanted to mix it up a little. When my sister announced that she was planning a BBQ on Christmas Eve, I had to put my thinking cap on because veggie burgers or sausages didn't feel special enough for the occasion. I threw a few ideas at the man and the one that we both happily agreed on was arancini.

Arancini or risotto balls are best made with day old risotto so I decided to make a double batch of risotto, serve some for dinner and use the remainder for the arancini. A smooth textured risotto suits arancini best as it makes rolling the balls much easier. A cauliflower risotto recipe had been sitting in my drafts for several months as I didn't record the recipe properly when I initially threw it together and also felt that my first effort needed a bit of tweaking. I knew that the texture would be perfect for arancini so it was time to give it another try.

This risotto starts off by cooking the cauliflower in vegetable stock and then blending it with a bit of stock. The thick cauliflower puree is reserved and added to the plain risotto when it has finishing cooking which makes it a very creamy dish. We like to eat this risotto garnished with sun-dried tomatoes and olives. I have also sampled it with toasted slivered almonds and fresh parsley which gives it a lighter taste and a bit of crunch.

I was out of of white wine and fresh herbs which I would usually include in a risotto. I had prepared a very simple basil pesto so this was used in place of herbs. My mum has shocking allergies to every variety of nut so I had made this batch of pesto only with basil, olive oil, nutritional yeast and salt. The man adored this risotto and I had cunningly made it on a night when our son wasn't home for dinner. I've mentioned before that he doesn't care for risotto and olives are another pet hate of his. Sun-dried tomatoes are tolerable for him but they are not something that he is mad about. The man requested this meal to become a regular so I suggested that it could be a regular when it's tea for two.

I would like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope you all enjoy the festive season and devour some delicious food with great company.

Cauliflower risotto

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
8 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon basil pesto
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped sun dried tomatoes and olives, for garnish

Cook the cauliflower in a saucepan with the vegetable stock until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a colander and reserve the stock. Place the cauliflower florets in a blender with 1//2  - 1 cup of the vegetable stock and process until it becomes smooth and creamy.  Pour the rest of the stock back into the saucepan and simmer over a low heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large wide pot and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute then stir through the rice ensuring that the grains are coated evenly with the oil, onions and garlic. Add 1 cup of stock and stir until the stock has been absorbed. Turn the heat to low and continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often, until the rice is almost tender.

Stir through the cauliflower puree, nutritional yeast and basil pesto and cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh herbs if desired.   

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Smoky Alfred

Hurry Up Alfredo has been a unanimous household favourite over the last couple of years. The recipe comes from Vegan Yum Yum which was one of my first vegan cookbook purchases and the alfredo was the first recipe I tried. I have probably made this more than any other vegan cookbook recipe as it's so quick and easy to prepare and such a crowd-pleaser at home. The first time I made the recipe as stated in the cookbook and then the tinkering began...

Smoked paprika was the first alteration and after enjoying it so much in this sauce I could never go back to making it without. Ingredients were omitted from the sauce every now and then which didn't seem to have a significant impact on the meal. After reading Cindy from Where's the Beef and Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe's posts about Hurry Up Alfredo and seeing their photos, I realised that my version had become quite different to the original recipe as well as Cindy and Johanna's adaptations. It's probably not so much of an Alfredo these days but we do still fondly refer to this meal as "Alfred".

I always like to add some greens to it which is usually broccoli, spinach or in this case broad beans. Left-over tofu bacon is a welcome addition too. This meal always satisfies our creamy pasta cravings and the smoky flavour is what makes this meal such a hit.

On an unrelated note, the plums on our tree are ripening which has been prompting these stunning rainbow lorikeets to visit on a daily basis. My week has been brightened up by these gorgeous birds chatting away and feasting on the plums a couple of metres away from my work desk.

Smoky Alfred (Adapted from the Hurry Up Alfredo recipe in Vegan Yum Yum)

300g frozen broad beans
1/3 cup cashews
1 1/3 cup soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
250g pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/3 quantity tofu bacon, chopped
handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Place the broad beans into a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Squeeze the beans out of their pods and discard the pods. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then drain in a colander.

Process the cashews in a blender until it becomes a powder. Add the soy milk, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, tahini, lemon juice, dijon mustard and smoked paprika and then blend until everything is combined.

Heat the olive oil in the pot you cooked the pasta in and fry the garlic for about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce from the blender and then add the cooked pasta, broad beans, tofu bacon and basil. Stir for a couple of minutes until heated through. Serve immediately with freshly cracked black pepper.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breakfast burritos

Breakfast burritos have always sounded like a fantastic idea to me although I must admit to never eating one before. Last weekend I decided it was time to give them a try with a tofu scramble filling. Smoked tofu seasoned with cumin, oregano, chipotle chilli powder and lime juice felt like a good combination of ingredients, along with some mushrooms and the man's favourite vegetable - broccoli. The broccoli seemed a little out of place but it was purely there to keep a promise.

After making the scramble, it was just a matter of filling the tortillas, folding them up and then grilling for a minute or two on each side. I had some sofrito, cashew cream and guacamole leftover from dinner which were perfect condiments for the burritos. This was a slightly different kind of brunch to ones I usually make on weekends but it is a meal I am very likely to make again as it was fairly quick to prepare and we loved it!

Mexican inspired tofu scramble burritos

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup water
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chilli powder
300g smoked tofu, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-4 teaspoons lime juice (I used 4 which I might reduce to 3 next time)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 flour tortillas

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the broccoli and cook, stirring for a few minutes until browned. Pour in 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for another minute. Transfer the broccoli to a plate.

Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the shallots/onions and garlic on medium for about 5 minutes or until soft. Stir through the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and juicy. Add the cumin, oregano, chipotle chilli powder, smoked tofu, tomato paste and 1/4 cup water and stir well to combine. Cook for a few minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice to your desired taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Place spoonfuls of the filling in the centre of the tortillas and then wrap them up to enclose the filling. Heat a non-stick grill pan or frying pan over medium heat and cook the burritos for a minute or two on each side. The burritos should be cooked seam side down first and carefully flipped over when slightly browned. Serve with cashew cream, guacamole and hot sauce.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recipe testing - Part 2

My posts have been few and far between recently as I am still knee deep in recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook. The experience has been fantastic and as the focus of the book is based on cuisines from around the world, it suits me perfectly. I love making food from different countries!

Thai jungle curries are completely different to the standard red and green curries that are on the menu at every Thai restaurant. I was so excited to try this recipe as I have been wanting to try a jungle curry for a while. This hit the spot for me but some people would find it too spicy.

It was a bit foolish to attempt these Jamaican curry seitan and potato patties on a weeknight but they were well worth the effort. I haven't really eaten Caribbean food before but these patties made me want to try more.

I have loved all of the Mediterranean recipes I have tested and this pastichio was no exception. A little bit goes a long way as it's a really filling meal.

I haven't photographed any of the soups I have tested apart from this asparagus, potato and leek soup. It wasn't my favourite of the soup recipes but other testers have raved about it.

The Belgian beer bathed seitan stew with oven frites won the hearts of the man and son. It was so rich and hearty and really tasty.

Cauliflower stuffed parathas with okra masala was a delicious Indian meal. I love making flatbreads and although the stuffed ones can be a bit challenging to put together, they really are worth it. This was my first foray into cooking with okra and we enjoyed this curry a lot.

This tomato, olive and garlic socca was an absolute highlight and will be on our weekend brunch rotation from now on. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Spicy Broccoli Risoni

Risoni is also known as orzo in other parts of the world. It's a small type of pasta that is shaped like rice which makes it perfect for using in pasta salads, soups, oven bakes and one pot pasta dishes. I haven't tried out any new recipes with risoni/orzo for quite some time and when I saw a post during Vegan MoFo called "Spicy Broccoli Orzo", I bookmarked it immediately.

The recipe from Big Mike Eat's interested me on a few different levels. The ingredients were certainly an appealing factor and I was also fascinated that Micah had used a wok to cook his meal in. I was tempted to follow suit but rather than pull out my wok, I stuck to my standard pasta cooking method using a large saucepan. I made a few changes to Micah's recipe by adding in an onion, using fresh garlic rather than powdered and swapping the dried rosemary and thyme for some basil.

This quick and simple one pot meal was declared to be a success by 2/3 of the household. My son and I loved it and the man was not so keen. We enjoyed the combination of chilli, lemon and basil but the man thought that the lemon flavour was too strong and also grumbled about there being too much black pepper. He really dislikes pepper so I usually put minimal amounts in dishes and add more to my own plate at the end. At least there was some home-made garlic bread on the side to keep him happy!

Spicy Broccoli Risoni (Adapted from Big Mike's Eats)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup risoni/orzo pasta
3 cups water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 head broccoli
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and black pepper, to taste

Chop the head of broccoli into small florets and cut the stalks into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium and fry the onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir through the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the risoni and stir thoroughly.

Pour in the water and add the dried basil, chilli flakes and sea salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir through the broccoli and tomatoes and cook uncovered for another 3 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed after this time. Add the lemon juice and season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tamales with refried beans, mushrooms and corn

Last Saturday was perfect weather to stay indoors as it was an extremely rainy old day in Melbourne. This wasn't to be the case as the man and I had several errands to run which included a visit to USA Foods in Moorabbin. The main reason for our visit to USA Foods was to purchase some more liquid smoke but I was also delighted to find some Maseca flour for making tamales. As soon as I had this wonderful flour in my hands, I knew we would be having tamales for dinner that night.

Tamales have been intriguing me since I purchased Viva Vegan. They are parcels of masa dough filled with savoury or sweet items which are wrapped in corn husks and steamed. As I had no idea where to buy corn husks, I decided to forgo this part and wrap my tamales in foil instead. The man loves his refried beans so to please him I made up a refried bean filling and added some mushrooms and corn rather than following one of the tamale recipes from Viva Vegan.

When it was time to make the masa dough, I let out a big sigh. I didn't have any vegetable shortening! The rain was still bucketing down and I couldn't bear the thought of going out in the weather again. Instead I spent of bit of time reading about masa dough recipes for tamales and discovered that any type of fat can really be used so I settled upon using some olive oil in it's place.  

After the filling and masa dough were prepared, I set up an assembly line of sheets of aluminium foil. The dough was placed onto each sheet and shaped by hand, then spoonfuls of the filling were placed down the middle of the dough. The trickiest part was the rolling. There's a lot of great tamale making advice and tips in Viva Vegan but it is centred around using corn husks so I just did what felt right and hoped for the best. Next time I would use slightly smaller sheets of foil as they were a bit cumbersome to roll.

The refried bean filling on it's own was rather spicy although the heat level dropped considerably when it was combined with the masa dough. Never mind, a few splashes of hot sauce took the spiciness back up to how we like it. I really enjoyed the soft but hearty texture of the tamales and the flavour of the corn in the masa dough was delicious. The tamales were served with a simple side salad drizzled with Creamy Ancho Chile dressing which is also from Viva Vegan. I'm looking forward to trying out some other tamale recipes now that there is a big bag of Maseca flour in my pantry.

Tamales with refried beans, mushrooms and corn
Makes 10 tamales

Refried beans with mushrooms and corn

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons finely chopped pickled jalapenos
100g mushrooms, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ancho chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Heat the peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium. Fry the garlic for about 10 seconds, then add the onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes or until soft. Stir through the cumin, oregano, ancho chilli powder, salt and bay leaf. Place the kidney beans and water in the pot, bring to the boil then reduce the heat slightly.

Cook uncovered for 20 minutes, then remove the bay leaf. Break the beans up with a potato masher and then cook for another 5 minutes. Stir through the frozen corn kernels 2 or 3 minutes before the filling is ready. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before filling the tamales.

Masa Dough (Adapted from Viva Vegan)

1/4 cup dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups Maseca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm vegetable stock

Place the margarine and olive oil in a bowl and use a hand-held mixer to combine the ingredients together. Add the maseca flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt and beat for a few minutes until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Pour in the vegetable stock and beat until the liquid has been absorbed.

The dough should have a consistency that is comparable to thick mashed potatoes. If it appears too wet, mix through a couple of tablespoons of extra flour. If it's too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water and stir thoroughly.

Tamale assembly

Tear off sheets of aluminium foil or baking paper and spray lightly with olive oil. Place about 1/4 cup of the masa dough on the centre of each sheet and use your hands or a spatula to mould the dough into a rectangular    shape of approximately 12 x 8 cm. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the filling down the centre of the masa dough leaving 1 cm at each end without any filling.

Prepare each tamale by pinching the sheets of foil/baking paper together along the outsides of the masa dough, then roll up the foil and secure the ends. The parcel should be fairly tight but needs to allow a bit of room for the masa dough to expand whilst steaming.

Place the tamale parcels into a steamer basket and allow to steam for 55 minutes. To check whether the tamales are ready, remove one from the steamer and carefully peel back the wrapper. If the dough appears to be sticky, continue steaming for another 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fasolia Ksera (Broad bean salad)

Broad beans are something that I don't cook with often as they take a while to prepare. Time never seems as much of an issue when home-grown produce is in the picture. When my mother in law presented me a big bag of broad beans from her garden, rather than adding them to a dish as a supplementary item, I looked for a recipe that would give them a starring role.

Broad beans, green peas and mint were common themes popping up all over the place, but the man and son aren't particularly fond of mint so I kept hunting further for something different. My searching came to a halt when I found a recipe for Fasolia Ksera, a salad of Greek origin. This caught my eye as it was a combination of broad beans, olives, lemon juice and parsley.  

After an initial podding, the starting weight of 600 grams of broad beans dwindled down to 180 grams. The final weight ended up as a measly 100 grams after being blanched and having a second podding. The amount wasn't really sufficient for three people as a side dish and I could have bulked it up with some frozen broad beans, but I wanted to relish the taste of this fresh home grown produce on it's own.

The slight tang of lemon and saltiness from the olives were a perfect match and complimented the beans without being overpowering. We really enjoyed this salad and I was regretful that there wasn't more to go around. Next time I'll definitely be making a double batch!  

Fasolia Ksera (Broad bean salad) - Adapted from this recipe
Serves 2 as a side dish

600g fresh broad beans or 180g frozen broad beans
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
6 kalamata olives, cut in half
freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

If using fresh broad beans, remove the beans from the pods first.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the broad beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove and discard the skins by making an opening with your fingernail and squeezing the broad beans out.

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl, Add the broad beans, onion and olives and mix thoroughly. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tempeh Lasagne

Tempeh, you either love it or hate it! For me, it's the latter the majority of the time but I'm starting to learn ways that I can appreciate it. The first few times I tried tempeh at home, it was in chunks that had been marinated and then baked or fried. Even after following tips and steaming the tempeh prior to marinating, I still found that these chunks had an unpleasant taste that the marinade didn't disguise.

Cindy from Where's the Beef tentatively pointed me in the direction of her tempeh lasagne recipe recently as I haven't been totally satisfied with any of my previous vegan lasagne attempts to date. I was delighted to find that the tempeh in this recipe was cut into tiny mince-sized pieces and I was particularly interested in trying the cashew cream sauce.    

A few adjustments were made to bulk up the tempeh sauce portion as Cindy mentioned that the lasagne could have used more of this. Some eggplant was added to the tempeh sauce as there was some around that needed using up. I also made my own lasagne sheets using a mixture of semolina and wholemeal flour.

The lasagne turned out to be really delicious and full of flavour. My son is not that keen on tempeh either but he really liked this meal. The man adored it and everyone was keen to have a share in the leftovers. I found that a few bites here and there still had a hint of the tempeh taste I'm not fond of. This was totally my fault as I increased the amount of tempeh in the recipe but didn't change the amount of soy sauce and liquid smoke that the tempeh needs to soak up. That is the only thing I would change next time around and there will be a next time because this lasagne is now our favourite!

I would love to hear about more tasty tempeh recipes. Let me know if you have any favourite recipes that use little bits of tempeh.  

Tempeh Lasagne (Adapted from Where's the Beef)

Pasta dough (or skip this step and use pre-made sheets)

3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
pinch of sea salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil

Place the flours into a bowl with a pinch of salt, mix together thoroughly and make a well in the centre. Pour the water and olive oil into the well and work the flour into the water slowly until a slightly wet dough has formed. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

Tempeh Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
300g tempeh, chopped into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce (will add an extra tablespoon next time)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (will add an extra 1/2 teaspoon next time)
250g eggplant, chopped into 2cm cubes
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pepper, to taste

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the tempeh, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until the pieces are browned. Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke and fry until the sauces have totally been absorbed by the tempeh. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan and cook the eggplant for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the eggplant is soft and golden. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, until the onions are very soft. Add the tinned tomatoes, eggplant, dried basil, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and simmer while you are making the cashew cream sauce. Stir the tempeh through the sauce just prior to assembling the lasagne.

Cashew Cream Sauce

1 cup cashews
1 litre oat milk
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Place the cashews in a blender with 1/2 cup of oat milk and process until it becomes a smooth paste.

Melt the dairy free margarine in a saucepan then stir the flour through. Cook, stirring for a few minutes until the mixture browns a little. Add the rest of the oat milk, slowly at first, whisking through the mixture to ensure that no lumps remain.

Bring the mix to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Add in the cashew cream/oat milk paste and nutritional yeast flakes then stir until combined. Simmer for another 5 minutes, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Lasagne Assembly

Use a pasta machine or rolling pin to roll out thin sheets of pasta. Cut the pasta to measure the width of your baking tray.

Spread enough cashew cream sauce to cover the bottom of your baking dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then spread a 1/3 of the tempeh sauce followed by enough cashew cream to cover the sauce. Repeat the layering another 2 times, finishing with a layer of cashew cream. Bake in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes until the top layer has browned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recipe testing

Since I haven't been doing much cooking apart from recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook, I decided to gather some photos together and show you what I have been up to. The following is by no means all of the recipes I have tested but should give you an idea of how diverse the recipes are.

This French caramelised apple tart was a perfect way to finish off an evening meal with family last weekend.

Roasted gnocchi with a tomato caper sauce and roasted broccoli with lemon and sage. This was a really nice meal but my boys prefer a soft home-made gnocchi to the chewy gnocchi in this dish.

This kimchi tofu eggplant stew was different to anything I have eaten before and features home made kimchi.

The man told me that the curry laksa was restaurant quality. It was so good that I convinced him to come home for lunch to enjoy the leftovers. This has been one of my favourites so far too. I have also tested a Vietnamese pho which was really nice.

Chinese claypot seitan and mushrooms didn't really push my buttons although several other testers have enjoyed this and it was pretty easy to make.

Gyros roasted seitan, lemon garlic roasted potatoes and greek salad with cashew feta. I was quite excited to try a gyros seitan recipe during MoFo so when I saw a gyros seitan listed in the recipe index, I had to try it to compare. Terry's gyros is definitely superior and the greek salad is also fantastic.

Hope you enjoy these pics, I'll be back soon with a recipe post!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cauliflower alfredo with tofu bacon

Last week I took a few nights off recipe testing for various reasons. The man and son had been overwhelmed with so many new dishes, leftovers were getting out of control and my vegetable crisper needed a darn good clean out. Half a head of cauliflower was begging to be used which reminded me of Johanna's recent post about Cauliflower Alfredo. It sounded like a perfect way to use up the cauliflower and pasta is always a good way to keep my boys happy.

My adaptation was a bit different as I left out the white beans, kale and sun-dried tomatoes and added in some tofu bacon, broccoli and baby spinach leaves as they also needed to be used up. I included a larger quantity of smoked paprika which is something I have loved when playing around with the Alfredo recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. It turned out to be a fantastic meal that pleased everyone immensely so this pasta sauce will definitely be repeated in the future.

Cauliflower Alfredo (Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Cupcakes and Kale)

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 1/4 cups soy milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g baby spinach leaves
10 strips tofu bacon, chopped
250g pasta of your choice
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan filled with water, bring to the boil then simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until very soft. In the meantime, steam the broccoli florets until just tender and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the cauliflower in a colander. Put the cauliflower, soy milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and smoked paprika in a blender and process until it becomes a smooth mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the spring onions and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Pour in the blender mixture then add the broccoli, baby spinach, tofu bacon and pasta. Stir everything together thoroughly and heat through until the spinach has just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegan MoFo - Roundup

Vegan MoFo has been such a busy month but not without reward! It has been fantastic to get to know some other bloggers and the abundance of gorgeous creative food posted throughout the month has truly been mind boggling. I was honoured to receive Liebster awards from Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh and ZuckerBaby from Tales of a Vegan Food Fetishist.

I'm glad that I posted some links halfway through the month as the volume in my bookmarks is pretty huge. Here are a few more recipes that I am looking forward to making one day:

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my posts throughout the month, I really do appreciate it. I'm looking forward to a quieter month of blogging in November but definitely won't disappear completely. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan MoFo - Z is for Zaalouk

I wanted to revisit an old recipe for my last alphabet post as it's one I have been meaning to make for a while. Zaalouk is a slow roasted eggplant and tomato combination finished off with harissa, cumin, caraway, fresh coriander and mint that can be served chunky or pureed. I chose to puree it and serve it as a dip with pita bread but when left chunky it can also pass for a salad. It's not a quick dish to make although there is plenty of downtime throughout the process and the end result makes your efforts worthwhile.

The original recipe sourced from a Sunday paper makes a huge quantity and as I only had one eggplant around, I made a third of it this time which resulted in about a cup of dip. It was just as delicious as I had remembered it and one I will definitely make again.

This is my last Vegan MoFo post for the A - Z of golden oldies and newbies. I managed to meet my original goal of posting at least 2 new recipes per week, 12 for the month and ended up posting 15 new recipes, so I'm pretty happy about that. The full list of alphabet posts can be found on this page.

I have had a lot of fun with the theme and ventured into cooking with new ingredients like jackfruit, daikon and fava beans. My favorite new recipes to come out of the month were Hot Potato Salad, Imam Bayildi, Pinwheels, Rendang Nangka, Seitan Gyros, Vanilla Slice and Yassa Tofu.

I hope to get one more post in quickly to share some of my bookmarks from the second half of MoFo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vegan MoFo - Y is for Yassa Tofu

Yassa tofu has been one of our favourites to come out of recipe testing so far. It's a baked tofu dish cooked with carrots and onions in an African inspired marinade. Lemon and mustard are the dominant flavours and it also has a spicy kick from the chillies. This meal smelt absolutely gorgeous whilst baking in the oven.

Terry suggested serving this with rice or millet and I daringly picked a millet dish that I strongly suspected would not be popular. I had never eaten millet before and was keen to give it a try but the dish I selected contained mango and peanuts. Both the man and son aren't fond of sweet items in savoury meals so I knew they wouldn't like the mango, and the man doesn't like nuts in salads or stir-frys so it was a bold choice indeed.

We all adored the Yassa tofu and the boys begrudgingly ate their millet. There were some complaints at the end of the meal about how there was none of the delicious tofu left for seconds but heaps of the millet remaining. Yassa tofu will definitely be on the menu again!

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegan MoFo - X is for Xiang Luo Bu Si

X was always going to be the trickiest letter so I spent a bit of time hunting down recipes and came across this interesting Chinese side dish called Xiang Luo Bu Si which translates to Sounding Radish Slivers. The main ingredient of this recipe is daikon radish which is something I haven't cooked with before but I am always interested in experimenting with a new ingredient.

As this was only a side dish, I looked for a Chinese noodle recipe from the recipe testing pool to make it a full meal. The most challenging part was managing two woks and getting the timing right. Although I only have one wok burner, my other largest burner seemed to do a decent job of cooking the daikon side dish in my small wok. I didn't take a shot of the noodles but they were really nice and a little different to others I have made previously.

The daikon wasn't a hit with my son but he loved the noodles. The man loved the daikon and I thought it was alright but not fantastic. It wasn't until writing this post that I realised I had forgotten to finish it off with a drizzle of sesame oil. I had to go back and drizzle sesame oil on the leftovers which really did make a world of difference.    

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Xiang Luo Bu Si (Slightly adapted from a recipe on

400g daikon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 bird's eye chilli
2 spring onions, green part only
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon rice flour
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Peel and cut the daikon into finger-sized thin slices, then cut each of these pieces into slivers. Combine in a bowl with some salt and set aside for 15 minutes. Finely chop the chilli and slice the spring onion into slivers of a similar size to the daikon. Mix the rice flour and water into a paste in a small bowl. Drain the moisture from the daikon and squeeze dry.

Heat the wok until smoking, then add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok with oil. Stir-fry the chilli for a few seconds then add the daikon and soy sauce and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the spring onions and vinegar and stir well, then add the rice flour paste and stir rapidly until it thickens and becomes glossy. Remove from the heat, drizzle with sesame oil and serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vegan MoFo - W is for White Rice & Black Beans

A few posts back I mentioned that I have just started some recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook. I don't think I conveyed how thrilled I am to have this opportunity as my stress levels were rather high at the time. When I initially checked out the recipe index for testing, I searched for a couple of things that would fit in with the remainder of my MoFo theme to ease my workload a little.

Last night I tested a recipe called White Rice & Black Beans which was nice enough but it hasn't been a standout meal from testing so far. I found myself comparing it to Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Refried Rice and Beans) from Viva Vegan but the flavours in this meal weren't as interesting. It was one of the simplest recipes I have tested, with minimal prep work and a fairly quick cooking time so from that perspective it was a win.

I served the rice and beans with guacamole, cashew crema and hot sauce although half-way through the meal I remembered there was some left-over sofrito in the fridge and we found that this was a really good addition.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegan MoFo - V is for Vanilla Slice

Several times on my blog I have mentioned that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, although if I see something smothered in passionfruit icing it's more likely to get my attention. A vanilla slice posted by Cindy from Where's the Beef and K from In the Mood for Noodles about a year ago was exactly this type of sweet.

Vanilla slice was always a favourite treat for the man and son. They would frequently be tempted by these sweets that commonly appear in bakeries. This recipe had been sitting in my bookmarks for way too long so I took the opportunity to try it out for the letter V.

It's quite easy to put together, the puff pastry sheets are lightly browned, a custard is made, the slice is assembled, refrigerated and topped with icing a few hours later. The only issue I ran into was running out of cornflour but I had some rice flour in the pantry to make up the difference.

It's quite surprising that I am the only one in the house to have sampled the slice so far but I know that my boys will adore it. I thought it tasted just like a vanilla slice should even though it has been such a long time since I have actually eaten one.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Vanilla Slice (Adapted from Where's the Beef and In the Mood for Noodles, originally sourced from IVU)

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted


1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup custard powder
1 litre soy milk
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla essence


2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon dairy-free margarine
pulp from 2 passionfruits
2-3 teaspoons water

Heat an oven to 200C. Cook the puff pastry sheets on trays lined with baking paper for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornflour and custard powder. Add about a cup of soy milk and whisk thoroughly ensuring there are no lumps. Whisk in the rest of the soy milk and margarine. Heat the custard over medium, stirring all the time to ensure that there no lumps. The custard will eventually become very thick which is when you need to turn off the heat and add the vanilla.

Cut one of the pastry sheets to fit your baking dish and place gently in the bottom of the dish. Spread the custard evenly over the top. Cut the second pastry sheet to size and place on top of the custard, then press it down gently so it sticks to the custard. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

To make the icing, place the icing sugar in a bowl and add the passionfruit pulp and margarine. Mix together and add teaspoons of water slowly, stirring as you go, until a thick but spreadable paste results. If the icing ends up too runny, add some more icing sugar. Spread the icing over the top of the pastry evenly. Return the slice to the fridge in order for the icing to set.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan MoFo - U is for Upside Down Blueberry Microwave Cake

A minor cooking mishap in an attempt to make a chocolate mug cake that K from In the Mood for Noodles posted about last week wasn't enough to deter me from trying again. The disaster was totally my fault, I should know by now that microwaves can vary when it comes to cooking times and I still don't understand how I managed to turn my back at that crucial moment. It was only a matter of seconds from when that delicious chocolate aroma turned into a horrible burnt smell and the microwave starting smoking!

I felt very stupid for failing at such a simple recipe so I had to give it another try. This time I made the berry almond variation and checked the Facebook page for further hints before getting started. I made the cake in a ramekin rather than a mug as the sizes are similar and initially set the microwave for 2 minutes (watching it like a hawk the entire time). The middle looked slightly underdone so I zapped it for another 20 seconds and the cake was done.

My son really enjoyed the cake and fruit isn't his favourite thing so I have promised to make good with a chocolate one for him soon! This is the type of dessert I would usually like but I was way too full from dinner tonight so I'll have to try one for myself soon.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Upside Down Blueberry Microwave Cake (Adapted from In the Mood for Noodles)

2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
1 tablespoon almond meal
1 tablespoon applesauce
Handful of frozen blueberries
A drizzle of maple syrup

Cook the margarine in a bowl for about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir through the sugar, self-raising flour, almond meal and applesauce and mix until well combined.

Place the blueberries in a ramekin or large mug, drizzle with some maple syrup then cover with the cake mixture. Put the ramekin or mug on a plate and cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until the cake has set in the middle.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake, then invert onto a plate and enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vegan MoFo - T is for Tortilla Chips and testing for Terry

I found it strangely coincidental after deciding to make tortillas for the letter T and a suite of accompanying Viva Vegan recipes that an email would land in my inbox notifying me that it was time to start testing recipes for Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook! It was so exciting but the timing a little frustrating as I have come so far with my MoFo theme and still want to see it through. My remaining MoFo posts will be briefer and slightly altered from my original plan to compensate and may also include a couple of photos from recipe testing.

On Friday night, I made blue corn tortillas, refried beans, sofrito, guacamole and cashew crema although due to a mishap with the hot sauce I decided not to post the photo. Instead I whipped up another batch of blue corn tortillas to be made into tortilla chips. I tried a oven-baked version of tortilla chips a while ago which turned out alright but ever since I have wanted to try them again, this time deep fried.

I used a wok with peanut oil to fry the tortillas wedges in and after they were cooked, seasoned one batch with nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, chilli and salt and the other batch simply with salt. The texture of the tortillas chips turned out to be inconsistent with some a bit too soft whilst others had the right amount of crunchiness. I was a bit concerned about burning the chips initially and definitely undercooked the first batch or two. The ones that turned out the best spent about a minute in the wok.  

Since Friday I have tested three of Terry's recipes which have all been really good but this has meant that I haven't had time to catch up on MoFo posts or reply to comments for a while.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vegan MoFo - S is for Seitan Gyros

When I spotted Rachel's post about Seitan Gyros a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to try it straight away! Unfortunately G had already been posted so there was an agonising wait until the letter S came around. The mixture of herbs and seasonings that Rachel used in her seitan sounded interesting and I loved how thinly her slices looked.

I made a few minor adjustments to the ingredients, by adding in some chickpea flour and slightly more salt and lemon zest. The method was also adjusted to allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes after an initial knead so that the gluten develops. This was inspired by the Viva Vegan seitan recipes which have been highly successful for me in the past. I always make seitan at least a day before I am planning to use it as the texture improves after an overnight chill in the fridge.

On the day I only had to make pita bread, garlic sauce, finely slice and fry the seitan, and chop the lettuce, tomato and onion. One thing I noticed with this garlic sauce as it was my second attempt making it, is that the garlic flavour develops a lot after the sauce is chilled for a while. I should cut back to 2 cloves next time and see how that fares as 4 makes it rather pungent.

The pitas were lined with lettuce, tomato, red onion, gyros seitan and topped with garlic sauce and sriracha. I don't think this would fool a hardcore omnivorous gyros lover but I really enjoyed the herbs and lemony flavour throughout the seitan. The man and son thought they tasted pretty good too and devoured them rapidly.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Seitan Gyros (Adapted from I Eat Grains!)

1 1/4 cups gluten flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Grated zest from one lemon
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons ketchup

Place the gluten flour, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic power, rosemary, oregano and lemon zest in a large bowl. Mix ingredients thoroughly then make a well in the centre.

Combine the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, liquid smoke and ketchup together in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the well then mix with your hands. Tip the dough onto a clean bench and knead for a couple of minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then knead for another 30 seconds.

Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a loaf shape and wrap the loaves in separate pieces of aluminium foil. Ensure that there is a bit of room for the seitan to expand. Bake in the oven at 180C for 1 hour, alternatively the seitan loaves can be cooked for 35-40 minutes using a steamer. Allow to cool completely then store in the fridge until required.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegan MoFo - R is for Rendang Nangka

R was a difficult letter because I couldn't decide what to make. Rice paper rolls were my original idea as I have wanted to make them for a long time and then I thought about making a risotto but that seemed a little mundane. On the morning I was due to cook something for R, I read this interesting post on I Eat Grains! about how green jackfruit has a very meaty texture and neutral taste and decided to try it out in a Rendang curry. I even stumbled across a rendang recipe using jackfruit in my copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown.

World Vegetarian Classics contains chapters of regions around the world and each chapter starts with a page about an expert in the regions cuisine. I was interested to find that the expert for South-East Asia was Sri Owen, a cookbook author that Cindy and Michael from Where's the Beef have been posting about in recent times. Cindy and Michael have posted a Sri Owen recipe for rendang using tempeh instead of beef which apart from being doubled in quantities looked very similar to the ingredients in my cookbook. The main difference between these recipes was the latter part of the method.

Cindy and Michael mentioned a few tweaks they would make next time around which was to increase the ingredients in the spice paste and/or reduce the amount of coconut so I took this on board and altered the World Vegetarian Classics recipe a bit. I used the stated amount of chilli but decided the leave the seeds in to make it spicier, increased the shallots, garlic, ginger and galangal and cut back on the coconut milk a little.

Reducing the coconut milk decreased the cooking time by about 30 minutes which was fantastic as the curry still took a good 2 hours to cook. The initial preparation doesn't take very long but once that is out of the way, it's just a matter of stirring every now and then. After about an hour, a crust develops on the bottom of your pot which you need to scrape off a few times and mix in with the sauce. These crusty bits were a highlight of the curry as they contained so much flavour.

The man and I were so impressed with the jackfruit in this rendang, my son was a little less enthused about the jackfruit but still liked the curry. The texture of the jackfruit was rather meaty and the pieces were mostly intact after 2 hours of cooking. I think jackfruit is a great mock meat alternative for gluten and/or soy free people and it's something I will use more often, perhaps in my "butter chicken" next time. You can find green jackfruit in tins at asian groceries but be aware that they also sell ripened jackfruit in syrup which is sweeter and softer and wouldn't produce the same result.

The rendang was served with basmati rice and choy sum steamed with minced garlic drizzled with a touch of sesame oil at the end.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Rendang Nangka (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics with some tips taken from Where's the Beef)

4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
3 red chillies, roughly chopped
1cm piece galangal, roughly chopped
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed
1 teaspoon salt
2 x 540g tins green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, chillies and galagal into a blender with about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and process until smooth. Pour the blender mixture into a large pot along with the rest of the coconut milk, turmeric, bay leaf, lemongrass, salt and jackfruit and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat to medium and allow it to simmer, uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 60 minutes the gravy will become very thick and will require more frequent stirring. A crust will begin to form on the bottom of your pot which should be scraped with a metal spatula to allow a new one to form. After scraping the crust a few times, the gravy should be almost totally absorbed by the jackfruit. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 30 minutes, scraping the crust a few more times. There should be no liquid remaining. Remove the lemongrass and bay leaf before serving.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan MoFo - Q is for Quinoa Stew (and an award)

This quinoa, lentil and vegetable stew has to be my favourite recipe from the Fat Free Vegan blog as it's the one I have repeated the most. It's from Susan's "Ridiculously Easy" category as she used frozen vegies and tinned lentils for convenience. I have blogged my adaptation of this recipe before which uses fresh vegetables and larger quantities of quinoa and smoked paprika.

It's a great recipe which is simple to prepare and you can throw in whatever vegetables you have around. This time I used pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and added spinach right at the end. The flavours improve over time as it tastes even better the next day. I have also mixed a bit of harissa into the leftovers before and made quinoa stuffed peppers which were fantastic!

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

I was both thrilled and extremely honoured to receive the Liebster award (German for favourite, beloved or dearest) from Mandee at Cupcake Kitteh. Mandee's blog is full of beautiful photos of the many things she has made from Viva Vegan which is what initially attracted me. I also find it inspiring how she manages to cook such amazing food with ease that doesn't contain any soy or gluten. Head over and take a look if you haven't been there already!

My job now is to hand out the Liebster award to 5 bloggers that have less than 200 followers if this can be judged from the site. I decided to give the award to bloggers I have discovered throughout Vegan MoFo 2011 that haven't already received this award to the best of my knowledge.

The bloggers (listed in alphabetical order to keep in line with my MoFo theme) I am awarding are:

The winners can pass the award on if they feel inclined to by:

  • Showing your thanks by linking to the person that gave you the award
  • Choosing 5 bloggers to give the award to and leaving a comment on their blog to let them know 
  • Post the award on your blog 
  • Enjoy spreading the love around

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vegan MoFo - P is for Pinwheels

Pinwheels were one of the finger foods my mum used to serve at big parties throughout my childhood. I used to love helping out with making them as it meant that I would get to snack on the ones that had slight imperfections. Pinwheels are made from puff pastry sheets spread with finely diced toppings which are rolled up, sliced into bize-sized pieces and baked in the oven until flaky.

Mum's pinwheels always used to be made with tomato paste, onions, bacon and cheese. I wanted mine to taste fairly similar so I used tofu bacon and vegan cheese and mixed a bit of pesto with a store bought pizza sauce for an extra dimension of flavour. They are a little bit fiddly to make but once you get used to the process, it does becomes easier. The recipe includes some step by step photos to guide you through although the late afternoon light streaming into my kitchen interfered a little.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.


3 vegan puff pastry sheets
1/4 - 1/3 cup tomato paste/pizza sauce
3 teaspoons vegan basil pesto
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 batch tofu bacon, finely diced
3 large button mushrooms, finely diced
200g vegan cheese, grated
olive oil spray

Place a sheet of frozen puff pastry on a large chopping board and cover with approx 2 tablespoons of tomato paste/pizza sauce mixed with a teaspoon of pesto. Try to spread the mixture evenly and ensure that the left and right sides are covered as close as you can get to the edges. The sides closest and furtherest away from you can be left plain.

Sprinkle a 1/3 of each of the onion, mushrooms and tofu bacon on top followed by 1/3 of the vegan cheese. (The photo below was taken prior to cheese being added).

By this time the puff pastry sheet should have thawed out just enough for it to be rolled up. Starting at the end closest to you, roll the pastry over to 1/4 of the length of the sheet then continue rolling tightly until you get to the end. With a sharp knife cut sections of about 1cm width along the sheet.

Place the pinwheels onto a tray lined with baking paper and cook in the oven at 180C for about 15-20 minutes or until they are flaky. Repeat the process two more times and enjoy your pinwheels!