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. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Spinach, Mushroom & Sesame Udon Noodle Soup

We just came back from travelling in Singapore, which we absolutely loved. We had such a good time and I think it's probably the coolest Asian city I've ever visited, with a great vibe to the whole place. We will definitely be going back there. While we were there we did a bit of street market shopping. Singapore is by no means a cheap place to visit and travel, but I picked up a few knick-knacks to remind me of our time there. One of them were these cute pairs of chopsticks. My partner and I are both year of the Rabbit, so we picked up two pairs of rabbits and I got a pair of dragons for my best friend. In hindsight I should have got a pair for everyone - but maybe next time I'm in Singapore!

This beautiful soup is quick, easy and so very tasty and is a favourite go to quick lunch or dinner for me. Spinach is not a common addition to an Asian noodle soup, but the flavour and colour are so well suited. Don't scrimp on the sesame seeds, they are more than just a garnish!

Spinach, Mushroom & Sesame Udon Noodle Soup

6 dried shitake mushrooms
2L vegetable stock
5 tbsp soy sauce
250g button mushrooms
150g oyster mushrooms
1 small tin of bamboo shoots
4-5 leaves of spinach (silverbeet)
2 small bunches of bok choy
2 tbsp mirin
4 x 200g packets of fresh udon noodles (or a large 800g pack)
4 tbsp white sesame seeds
Sesame Oil

To Make
 1. Put the dried mushrooms, soy sauce and the vegetable stock in your wok and set it to simmer while you do all the rest of your prep.
2. Prep the ingredients: slice the button mushrooms, slice the oyster mushrooms into strips, drain the bamboo shoots, chop the spinach into thin strips and chop the bok choy finely horizontally.
3. Once you’ve done all that (will take about 10 mins depending on how fast you chop) remove the whole shitake mushrooms from the stock and slice them.
4. With the stock simmering add the ingredients in the following order: shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, bamboo shoots, oyster mushrooms, spinach.
5. Simmer for about 2 minutes once all the ingredients are in and then turn off the heat and add the bok choy and mirin.
6. Rinse the udon noodles gently under some hot water and put about 200g in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the hot soup on top of the noodles in each bowl.
7. Heat a non stick frypan over a medium heat and dry toast the sesame seeds until just golden brown.
8. Drizzle some sesame oil over each bowl and top generously with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 4 .

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Corn & Tofu Soup

About a week and a half ago we flew home from holidaying in The Maldives, which looked like this:

Back home now and it's officially "unseasonably cold". Sad face. There is only one upside - for the last week or so we have been having soup for dinner most nights. It's perfect on four fronts - warming, easy, cheap and healthy! We overindulged a lot while travelling (of course) and although I have absolutely no regrets, it doesn't hurt to have a healthy couple of weeks now that we're back.

I made this delicious Corn & Tofu Soup when we had people over for dinner the other night and it was incredibly popular, including some people saying they 'don't usually like soup' (causing me to question why I'm friends with such people) but loved this one. A few asked for the recipe, so I've made sure I blogged it nice and quick.

It only takes about 15 minutes to make, which it another point in it's favour. You could also opt to puree it at the end, if you like creamy soups, but then you'll loose the nice texture of the pieces of tofu.

Corn & Tofu Soup

1 onion, diced
1 tbsp margarine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tomato, finely diced
200g hard tofu, cut into small cubes
500g corn kernels (use fresh, frozen or canned)
1 x 400g can of creamed corn
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make
1. Heat the margarine in a large soup pot and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and grated fresh ginger and give it about another minute.
2. Add the tomato and the tofu and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Then add the corn, creamed corn and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. 

Serves 4. If you're big soup lovers, make a double batch and eat it for lunch as well!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Vegan Nutmeat Bolognese with Zucchini and Carrot Spaghetti (low carb)

Like every other Australian kid, I grew up eating a lot of spaghetti bolognese. It's so commonly cooked in Australian homes that it's practically a national dish. Nobody in my family was vegetarian or vegan at the time, but my father used to switch around between making our bolognese with meat or with nutmeat. Even as a kid, I loved the nutmeat one more than the meaty one. When I grew up I learnt to cook it for myself and made it often. I introduced it to my Italian best friend and even he loved it more than the meat version. He wasn't a vegan then, but he is now and it's become the lunch we always cook whenever we catch up at, in either of our kitchens. So, it's a sentimental dish for me, and one I probably should have shard on the blog earlier.

Usually, I'd have it with thin spaghetti (the thinner the better!), but cutting back on my carb intake has meant experimenting with other options. These zucchini and carrot noodles taste wonderful with this sauce, and make for a much lighter meal. I've left mine raw, and then ladled the hot sauce over them which cooks them just slightly. You can also blanch them for a minute before eating to soften them up, but don't cook them much or they will break apart and become mushy. You'll want a julienne slicer to get them nice and noodle-y, but I seem to recall mine cost less than $2 from eBay.

Vegan Nutmeat Bolognese with Zucchini & Carrot Spaghetti

Ingredients1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 x 400g can of nutmeat, chopped finely
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes (or even better - 1 can diced, 1 can crushed)
1 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped finely
Cracked pepper, to taste
1 zucchini, julienne sliced into noodles
1 carrot, julienne sliced into noodles

(or, use spaghetti)

To Make:
1. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion until just starting get translucent. Add the garlic and carrot and fry for a moment. Then add 1/3 cup water and simmer, covered, until the carrot is cooked through.
2. Add the chopped nutmeat, cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce and nutmeg. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered,  for about 15-20 minutes by which point the sauce should have reduced and thickened nicely. Stir in the fresh oregano and add cracked pepper to taste.
3. Shred your zucchini and carrot into noodles using a julienne slicer and divide between two bowls. Ladle the hot sauce over them. If you like, sprinkle with some (vegan) parmesan cheese.

Makes enough sauce for 3-4 people, and enough noodles for 2.