Friday, 27 November 2015

Vegan Treacle Tart

The most fun thing about featuring recipes from the UK was certainly getting to try all the classic desserts. I've never had a treacle tart before, so was glad to get the opportunity to make one. Actually, it was very easy because the traditional treacle tart recipe is generally already vegan. I wasn't sure if it was going to be sickly sweet, but it actually wasn't that sweet at all. I was really pleasantly surprised. Even though it's full of sticky sweet golden syrup, it's offset by the fact that the pastry isn't sweetened at all and there is lots of lovely fresh lemon juice to cut through the sickliness. The amount of lemon juice you use is really 'to taste' - some people like less lemon juice so the tart is sweeter, some like more juice so it's more sour. This recipe uses quite a lot of lemon juice, but you can add less if you like less tang and more sweetness.

Treacle Tart

250g plain flour (I prefer wholemeal, but you can use either)
125g vegan margarine 
3 tbsp iced water
400g golden syrup
150g fresh breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of 2 lemons

To Make
1. Put the flour in a food processor and cut in the margarine. Pulse it until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can also do this without a food processor - just put the flour in a bowl and rub the margarine through with your fingertips. Gradually add in the iced water until the mixture clumps together. Test the consistency, it should be a firm dough, but not sticky when you touch it. If it's too crumbly to form a ball, add a little more water, if it's too sticky add a little more flour. 
2. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (you can also make the pastry the night before). In the meantime, grease your flan tin (one with a removable bottom is really easiest) well. 
3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
4. Set aside about 150g of the pastry to make the lattice. Roll out the rest of the pastry into a large thin disc and line the greased flan tin. Prick the base with a fork to prevent bubbles while cooking. 
5. To make the filling, heat the golden syrup in a saucepan until runny. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice and lemon zest and remove from the heat. The filling should be fairly thick, if it's too runny - add more breadcrumbs. Pour into the pastry base.
6. Roll out the reserved pastry and cut into thin strips to make the lattice top. Once the lattice is complete, trim off any overhanging edges by pressing them down on the side of the metal tin. 
7. Place in the oven on the preheated baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180 degrees C and cook for a further 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, to firm up and to allow the filling to cool a bit. 

Serve warm or cold, with a dollop of whipped coconut cream if you like. 

I'm featuring lots of recipes from the United Kingdom,
Check out my other recipe posts here:

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mushroom & Guinness Pie

I'm currently making and sharing lots of recipes inspired by the United Kingdom. As spring here has had plenty of chilly days and nights, the stodgy comfort food has been quite nice. I felt it was important to include an Irish inspired dish loaded with Guinness - so here it is. Unfortunately, Guinness itself is not actually vegan, so if you're making this dish and you're a vegan or a vegetarian you can just swap out the Guinness for a vegan/vegetarian friendly stout (such as Coopers).

I never do things by halves, so I've used almost a whole can of Guinness in my pie. This makes for a lovely strong Guinness flavour, which may not be for everyone. If you like it a bit milder, just substitute one of the cups of Guinness for some more beef stock (I've used Massel beef stock, which has no animal content).

Mushroom & Guinness Pie

2 onions, finely chopped
4 gloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 tbsp butter or margarine (vegan friendly)
500g large field (portobello) mushrooms, washed and cut into medium chunks
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups Guinness (or stout beer)
1/2 cup strong hot 'beef' stock (no animal content brand)
1 tbsp soy sauce
cracked pepper to taste
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Sesame seeds, to sprinkle

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. 
2. Melt the butter in a frypan and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the chopped  mushrooms and 1/2 cup Guinness and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked.
3. Add the flour and stir vigorously. Next, gradually add in the remaining Guinness and the beef stock, stirring continuously to make a gravy. Adding gradually and stirring lots should prevent it forming lumps and keep it nice and smooth. If it's looking a bit too dry, you can add a touch more stock or beer to slacken in a bit (this can vary, depending on how juicy your mushrooms were in the beginning). 
4. Season with soy sauce and plenty of cracked pepper.
5. Grease a pie dish and line the bottom with one of the sheets of puff pastry. Pour the filling in and top with the remaining sheet of pastry and crimp the edges firmly together using your fingers, or a fork. If you want to use cutouts, like I did, cut them out of the pastry before you put it on the pie. If not, just use a knife to make a few slits in the top to let the steam out while it cooks. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
6. Set your oven to the 'bottom only' setting and bake for 20 minutes (ensuring that the bottom is properly cooked) and then switch to the normal baking setting (top and bottom) and bake for another 10 minutes. It should be golden brown on top. 

Makes 1 pie, serves 4-6.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Summer Pudding

I wish I had managed to get some better picture of this dessert - it's such a special one! Luckily it's also absurdly easy and actually fairly healthy, so I have no excuse not to make it again to try and get some better shots :)

When I first read about this very simple English dessert, I thought it sounded way too simple to actually work. I toyed with whether I needed to make changes when I made it to make it stay together (I was really worried the whole thing would fall apart when I cut it!), but this very simple method was so prevalent all over the internet that I figured it must work. I sceptically made it in the traditional way and was slightly amazed at how well it worked. It stays together beautifully when you cut it up into slices!

It made for such a refreshing and healthy dessert that I ate the leftover with vanilla yoghurt for breakfast the next few days.

I was a bit unsure about using white bread, because I really don't like white bread in general. I've used it, because I followed the traditional recipe faithfully. It was nicer than I expected, although I wonder if it might also work with other types of breads?

Summer Pudding

1 kg mixed berries, fresh or frozen
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh white bread with the crusts removed

1. Set aside a handful or so of the berries for garnish and place the rest in a saucepan with the water and sugar. Cook for about 8 minutes or so, until the berries are no longer frozen and the juices run (you may need a bit less time if you are using fresh berries).
2. While the berries are on the stove, line a small pudding bowl with the trimmed bread slices. Press the edges together well, plug any little holes and make sure there are no gaps. 
3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the berry juice and pour the berries and remaining juice into the pudding bowl lined with bread. Cover the top with more sliced bread and press down gently.
4. Cover the pudding with a clean saucer that fits just inside the pudding bowl (if you've got one!) and put a weight on top (like a can or something similar).
5. Refrigerate the pudding overnight, or for at least 5 hours. 
6. To serve, remove from fridge and take off the saucer. Place a serving plate over the bowl and invert the pudding onto the plate. Use the reserved juice to cover up any white spots on the bread. Decorate with the reserved berries and drizzle any remaining juice over the top. 

Serve as is, or with whipped coconut cream or vanilla yoghurt. 

Serves 8-10 people. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is a bit of a household classic in any Australian home and, I imagine, any other country with a strongly British-influenced cuisine! This next month or two I'm going to be featuring dished from the United Kingdom, and I thought cauliflower cheese was a great way to start. It might sound like a bit of a contradiction to make vegan cauliflower cheese, but really, the key to cauliflower cheese is white sauce rather than cheese itself. If you're not a vegan, feel free to top with some grated cheese for an actual 'cheese' experience. To be honest though, this recipe tastes exactly like the cauliflower cheese that I used to eat as a child so I don't actually think the cheese is necessary.

For a good vegan white sauce, I prefer not to use soy milk because it has such a strong flavour which can dominate the mild creamy sauce. Any mild flavoured milk substitute should be fine, I prefer oat milk but almond milk would work well too.

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine/butter)
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup vegetable stock (hot)
2 1/2 cups unsweetened oat milk (or rice/almond milk)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

To Make
1. Parboil the cauliflower until only just tender and then drain and transfer to a large baking dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan and then add the onions and garlic. Cook until softened and translucent.
3. Add the flour and stir vigorously to make a roux. Gradually add the hot vegetable stock, stirring as vigorously as you do to keep the roux smooth. Once all the vegetable stock has been added, start adding the oat milk, also gradually and while stirring.
4. Once all the milk has been added, stir the roux over a low heat and add the lemon juice and the nutritional yeast. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you probably wont need to add salt, as vegetable stock is usually already very salty). 
5. Pour the white sauce over the top of the sliced caulifower and smooth over evenly. Top with bread crumbs and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for just long enough for the breadcrumbs on top to get lightly browned and crispy (you can switch your oven to the grill setting for this, in which case it will only take a few minutes). 

Serve as a side dish or as a main accompanied by some steamed green veggies.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Berry & Rosehip Iced Tea

Spring is here now and the warmer weather seems tantalisingly close. Yet not quite in reach. It's lovely and warm in the sun and the temperatures are not too bad, but as soon as the sun disappears behind a cloud the chill sets in and you're reaching for a jumper. Evenings are still cold enough for heaters and blankets (in our cold house especially) but in the day I can cling optimistically to the promise of warmer things to come. It's about this time of year that I find myself optimistically digging out a t-shirt to wear and starting to think about summer foods. I can't wait for mangoes and stone fruits to become cheap & plentiful, but until then I can celebrate with summer style drinks, sitting out in the sunshine on my back deck.

This iced tea is caffeine free and unsweetened, so it's great if you want to enjoy a refreshing drink on a hot day without the caffeine and sugar. The berry teabags give it the sweet tang of berries without the sickliness of canned berries or berry juices. This recipe uses freshly squeezed orange juice, but feel free to get creative and add any juice you like. And if you have a bit of of a sweet tooth, some elderflower or ginger cordial can certainly be added. It can also be lovely with a small splash of orange blossom water or rosewater.

If you're celebrating or entertaining, add a bottle of champagne and thank me later :)

Berry & Rosehip Iced Tea

3 berry tea bags (any kind you like, I used a 'forest fruits' one, but any mixed berry type thing is great)

2 rosehip tea bags
2 litres of boiling hot water
1 litre of freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of 1 fresh lime. 

Optional garnishes - fresh berries, mint leaves, orange or lime slices. 

To Make:
1. In a large jug, add water and tea bags. Allow to cool to room temperature and then fish out the teabags Place in the fridge to chill. 

2. Remove from fridge and add orange juice and lime juice. Stir.
3. You can chill it again if you like, or just serve it straight away (with or without ice, as you prefer). 
4. You can add fresh berries, if you like and if they are in season, or even fresh mint leaves to garnish. 

Makes 12 cups (3 litres).

Friday, 28 August 2015

Jerk Sweet Potato Chips

Things have been quiet here lately, as I've had so many things going on. I've been hanging on to this very special and very easy recipe for some time (since Jamaica month) so that I still had something absolutely delicious to share with you at a time when I have no time to cook or photograph food! These baked jerk sweet potato chips, inspired by Jamaica's ubiquitous jerk seasoning, were simply superb. I couldn't stop eating them and they were all gone very quickly!

They're great for when you're entertaining, because you can chop up your sweet potatoes and have them coated in your jerk seasoning and ready to go nice and early. Then just spread them out on a tray and stick in the oven for just 20 minutes or so before serving. If you're making for a group though, I advise making plenty because they were so very popular when I made them.

You can play around a bit with the quantities of the seasoning mix, according to your personal preferences. Make all the teaspoon and tablespoons nice and generous though :)

Jerk Sweet Potato Chips

2 tsp allspice  
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1/2 scotch bonnet chilli, very finely minced (substitute 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if you like)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Combine the allspice, cinnamon, thyme leaves, brown sugar, garlic and chilli and mix well. Add the olive oil and stir into a smooth paste. 
3. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chip shapes, keeping them all roughly the same size (otherwise they will all need different amounts of cooking time). Toss the sweet potatoes in the jerk seasoning, coating well. At this stage to can put them in the fridge, and cook later.
4. Spray a baking tray lightly with cooking spray and spread the chips out evenly. Try not to crowd them too much, you may need two trays. 
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until soft on the inside and a darkish caramelised brown on the surface (see picture). Serve hot. 

Check out my other Jamaican recipe posts:

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Vegan Jamaican Patties

If, like me, you spend all winter dreaming of being in the Caribbean instead, you can do what I do and enhance your dreaming with delicious Caribbean delicacies.

Jamaican patties are quite different to what we call patties in Australia (and many other parts of the world). We use the word patty to refer to the meat or veggie fillings in burgers, but in Jamaica a patty is more like what we might call a pasty - a savoury pastry with filling. The pastry of a Jamaican patty is golden yellow from turmeric and curry powder, and the fillings can vary. They're most commonly filled with meats of various types, but can also be filled with vegetables or cheese. Tofu isn't a traditional filling, but the curried crumbled tofu and potato in these ones are so delicious, they were a huge hit (even with traditional tofu-phobes).

In Jamaica, it's common to eat a patty sandwiched in a bread roll as a full meal. I find that the pastry and bread together might be a bit of overkill, so just ate mine as they were. But if you'd like a traditional Jamaican lunch, grab yourself a bread roll (in Jamaica it would be coco bread).

Jamaican Curry Tofu Patties

3 cups plain flour
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g vegan margarine/butter
3/4 cup ice water (give or take a bit)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
375g hard tofu, as much liquid pressed out as you can
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 scotch bonnet chilli (optional)
1 potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp dried or fresh thyme
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped shallots

To Make:
1. To make the crust: combine the flour, curry powder, turmeric, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Chop the vegan margarine up and add it to the food processor, pulse it until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Gradually add in the ice water while you're processing until the dough starts to clump together into a ball. Turn it out onto a bench and dust with flour. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. To make the filling - heat the oil in a large frypan (or wok) and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is cooked. While it's cooking you can crumble up the tofu with your hands into a 'mince-like' consistency. Once the onion is cooked, add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add the crumbled tofu, curry powder, chilli, potato, and the herbs and spices along with  1 1/2 cups water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until all the liquid is gone and the potatoes are cooked through. Turn off the heat and allow the filling to cool and then stir though the chopped shallots. 
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. 
4. Get the dough out and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each piece to a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Each circle should be about 6 inches diameter. Place a generous amount of filling in the centre of each circle. Moisten the edges with a bit of water and fold them in half, crimping the edges together to seal them well. Continue with the remaining pastry and filling. Poke a couple of holes in the top of each one to allow the steam to escape while cooking. 
5. Line a baking tray with non stick paper and bake the patties for about 20-25 minutes, until golden. 

Makes 12 patties. 

Check out my other Jamaican recipe posts:

Monday, 29 June 2015

Chocolate Oat Hazelnut Chewy Biscuits (Vegan)

Oh, chocolate biscuits - how heavenly you are. I try my best not to cook biscuits, because there are only two of us here and of course that means we would eat them all. Very easily.

But sometimes you just need a big giant home made chocolate biscuit, the kind with everything in it and which is chewy and fudgy and rich and spectacular. These are those biscuits, they were incredible.

Chocolate Oat Hazelnut Chewy Biscuits

2 tbsp ground flaxseeds (linseeds)
2/3 cup oat milk (you can sub soy or almond or hazelnut milk)
2/3 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups wholemeal flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
3/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate chunks

To Make:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Whisk together the ground flaxsees and oat milk and then add the oil and the vanilla extract.
3. Add in all the dry ingredients, leaving the hazelnut and chocolate chunks til last and then folding them through.
4. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Drop about 3 generous tablespoons of batter onto the paper for each biscuit, leaving plenty of space between them (at least 2 inches) for them to expand as they cook. I could only fit six onto my rectangular tray. 
5. Bake for 12 minutes (they should have spread out and be cooked on the outside, but still a bit soft in the middle when you gently press on them), then remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 
6. Continue until you have used up all the batter.

This makes about 8-10 really big biscuits, but you can make them smaller if you like, just reduce the cooking time by a couple of minutes.