Thursday, 31 January 2013

9 Vegan Southern USA Recipes to round out 2012!

All of 2012 I've featured a different country each month, except the month I was travelling in Sri Lanka. All the countries were requested by readers. We've had Croatia, Chad, Bosnia, Iran, Scotland, Cambodia, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, Indonesia and finally, in December I featured Southern American recipes.

I posted seven delicious recipes in December inspired by the Southern states of the USA. But with all my Xmas cooking and other posts, I unfortunately didn't get the time to make and share all the things that I would have liked - so I ended up posting a couple more in January. I took a month off the featured countries this month, as I fancied having a break. Infact, this blog has been a bit quieter than usual in January while I take some time to cool off (figuratively and literally - as it's been super hot here!).

Starting tomorrow - the 1st February - I'll be back on the World Food Challenge for another year. Tomorrow we'll start delving into the delights of Costa Rican cuisine! I'm very excited and I've been busy consulting people who know more about it than I do to devise a delicious array of veganised Costa Rican dishes.

But first - here is the recap of the Southern USA posts I've had over the last two months. AND two very important questions which I've love your feedback on, if you have a moment to spare.

1) Which of the 11 countries have you enjoyed the most in 2012?
2) What dish do you think looks the best from the Southern USA?


Chilli Pone
This is a dish that I had never heard of until a reader suggested that I try it for USA month. I'm so glad they did because it was wonderful and I'll definitely be making it again! It's an American "chili" style casserole - the chili is made from bulghur instead of mince meat - with delicious light and crispy cornbread baked on top. As soon as I ate it I wondered why I hadn't always been putting cornbread on my casseroles! Possiibly my favourite dish of the month (though, that is a tough call and I may change my mind later...) Check out the recipe here

Remember that cartoon character that used to say "Sufferin' Succotash!" (I think it was Sylvester?) Well, I can't imagine how succotash could cause suffering to anybody! At first glance I thought it looked a bit plain and boring - it's just a big pot full of beans, corn and tomatoes. But I gave it a go and goodness was it good! It's lightly but perfectly spiced, and a good reminder that vegetables are simply delicious just the way they were made and stand up perfectly as the main event of a meal! The succotash was a huge hit with my dinner guests. Check out the recipe here.

Vegan Mushroom and Bean Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a new favourite of ours now! This jambalaya is special. It's jam packed full of flavour and you don't miss meat in it at all - why would you when you've got juicy field mushrooms, two types of beans and tasty vegetarian sausages all through it? This dish can be made with white or brown rice and tastes just as good with either! Check out the recipe here.

Vegan "Fried Chicken" and Waffles
This is the kind of dish I never thought I would cook! But it was very enthusiastically requested by several readers when I asked about dishes from Southern USA - so I obliged. Fried chicken on waffles is apparently a Southern American classic, and I do relish a challenge. It sure was a challenge! Once I had decided on a method to cook some tofu in the same batter and spices of Southern Fried Chicken - I then had to get my hands on a waffle maker and make up some vegan waffles. Well, mission was accomplished and it tasted great! Good news is, now I own a waffle maker - so look out for more waffle recipes coming your way! Check out the recipe here. 


Peach Bourbon Cobbler
Cobbler is a gift from American to the rest of the world. There was no way I was going to feature USA without making a cobbler! Peach seems to be the classic cobbler fruit in the USA, so I stuck traditional but with a twist of bourbon to give it an even more American feel! Check out the recipe here.

Pecan Pie with Whipped Pumpkin Cream
Pecan pie was up very high on my list of things to make for December. I decided to make a slightly adult version though - using thick luscious blackstrap molasses in the place of sweeter thing like maple syrup. The result is a pecan pie which is much less sweet than usual and has the slightly adult taste of molasses. It is perfect accompanied by the spiced pumpkin whipped cream, which offsets the richness of the molasses. Combining pecans and pumpkin makes it a perfect autumn dish (or "fall" as the yanks would say), but you can enjoy this one any time of year. Check out the recipe here.

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes - also called Candied Sweets or Candied Yams - seemed like a bit of an odd dessert to me! But this world food challenge is all about trying new things so I went ahead and made them anyway. They're very easy to cook and make for a unique and cost effective dessert. Definitely worth a try, although I can't see these catching on much in Australia! Check out the recipe here.


Mint Julep
I'm always keen for an excuse to try out a new cocktail, so I was excited to find several cocktails when I started to research the cuisine of the Southern USA states. The easiest one was a Mint Julep, apparently popular particularly in Kentucky, where they use spearmint. It was very refreshing served over lots of ice, perfect for a hot summer day! Check out the recipe here.


Home Made Smoky BBQ Sauce
Last but not least - home made BBQ sauce anyone? You won't believe how easy it is to make your own delicious BBQ sauce, free of chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavours or artificial colours. Perfect for a summer BBQ or as a marinade for just about anything. Get this stuff on your burger! Check out the recipe here.

That's all folks!

Are you ready to start 2013 with a Costa Rican bang? Well, keep your eyes on this blog and I hope ya'll like rice and beans and corn. Sleep tight and I'll see you tomorrow in Central America!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Home Made Smoky BBQ Sauce

I made this sticky, sweet and smoky BBQ sauce as part of my American food month, although, to be honest, I'm not really sure where BBQ sauce originates from! A quick glance at wikipedia sheds no light, as it states that "the precise origin of barbecue sauce is unclear". I think that USA BBQ sauce and Aussie BBQ sauce are pretty similar, the difference lies in the way they are used. In Australia, we tend to use BBQ sauce as a condiment - it's added to foods (particularly ones that have just come off a barbie) after they are cooked. In the Americas, it's used more as a marinade or a cooking sauce.

Whichever way you use your BBQ sauce, you'll never buy it again one you have tried this delicious and easy home made version. It whips up in about a minute and tastes great on burgers! Why make your own? Because this BBQ sauce doesn't contain preservatives or chemical additives. It doesn't contain anything that has numbers in it's name either. No artificial colourings or flavourings.

Home Made BBQ Sauce

2 tsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp agave nectar (can substitute maple syrup if you can't find agave, just has a slightly different taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp smoky paprika (add more if you like is super smoky)
1/4 tsp hot paprika (you can adjust this to taste, add more if you want hot BBQ sauce)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp arrowroot powder

To Make
1. Grab a small bowl and a whisk (you could also just use a spoon). Add the ingredients in the order that they are listed, mixing well after each addition.
2. When you get to the arrowroot, sprinkle it gradually over the top and whisk through. Don't add it all at once or you'll end up with lumps.
3. Pour into a jar (or a squeeze bottle for easy use) and it's done!

NOTE: as this BBQ sauce has no preservatives, you'll want to keep it in the fridge. It should last quite a long time in the fridge though - I've had mine in their for about a month now an it's still fine.

Check out my other Southern USA recipe posts:

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Lentil and Sweet Potato Hummus

I rarely ever make the same dip twice. There are so many wonderful opportunities for delicious combinations! Making dip is easy, quick and a nice safe place to experiment if you're creative but not sure about your flavour combining abilities! It's also lovely to share communal food with friends. Bringing a home made dip when you visit a friend is cheaper than bringing bought food, more fun and shows that you thought they were worth a bit of effort (even if it was just a little bit!)

Dip can also be a great way to use up ingredients if you don't know what to do with them! Got a quarter of a cauliflower languishing in the fridge? Dip it. A ridiculously small amount of lentils left in the bottom of a packet after you made something else? Dip it. A tin of beans at the back of your cupboard? Dip it. A spice which you have no idea what to do with? Find a vegetable that fits it's flavour profile and DIP IT!

If that isn't enough - here are something else awesome about dips. You can use leftover dips to smear on your burgers, sandwiches or wraps. You can use this leftover dip to add thickness and flavour to a vegetable soup or a lentil soup. You could even mix it up with some fresh herbs and olive oil and make a salad dressing out of it. Endless possibilities!

How do you use up leftover dips when you entertain?

Lentil and Sweet Potato Hummus

1/2 cup red lentils
2 carrots
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sumac, to sprinkle on top

To Make
1. Dice the carrot. Peel and roughly chop the sweet potato.
2. Place the lentils, carrot and sweet potato in a small saucepan. Add the cumin and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables and lentils are all well cooked. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Combine the lentils and vegetables (including any cooking water remaining), tahini, soy sauce and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth consistency. 
4. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle liberally with sumac.

Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Happy Australia Day! Are you celebrating anywhere this year?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Vegan Mango and Passionfruit Strudel

There are a lot of desserts on my "work out how to make it vegan" list. I try and limit how often I make desserts though, so often the list doesn't get looked at for a long time. The monthly Sweet Adventures Blog Hop usually makes me get out my list and give one of them a go, although I'm not sure if that is always a good thing. This week I'm starting a new weights and exercise routine, along with a bit of an increase in protein intake and a definite decrease in dessert. This, obviously, is not a good start! Oh well. Wish me luck for the next 12 weeks of not making stuff like this!


Strudel was one of the things on my list. I haven't eaten strudel for years! It wasn't hard to veganise the creamy filling. The secret, as with many vegan creamy things, is nuts. Soaked nuts can substitute almost any creamy thing you can imagine, and it works beautifully here. The fruits I normally associate with strudel are apple, apricot, peach and cherries. However, since the summer weather is in full swing here (it's been hot!) I thought I'd give it a summer tropical twist by using mango and passion fruit. The results were delectable!

1 cup raw blanched almonds
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 tbsp maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (tip: zest lemon before you juice it!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
2 passionfruits
1/2 cup flaked or slivered almonds
1 mango, thinly sliced and skin removed
6 sheets filo pastry, thawed
1/2 cup vegan margarine (nuttelex), melted
Icing sugar, to dust

To Make
1. Soak the almonds over night, or for at least 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
3. Place the drained soaked almonds, agave nectar, maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and water in a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides often. This may take a little while, depending on your food processor. Should take between 5 and 8 minutes to get it completely smooth.
4. Remove the pulp from the passion fruits and fold the pulp through the creamy almond mixture.
5. Slice the flesh off the mango (you can suck on the seed while you cook), remove the skin and slice.
6. Lay out two sheets of filo next to each other with the edges overlapping (see pictures).  Brush all over with melted margarine and layer another two sheets on top. Layer with melted margarine again and add the last two pieces of filo (so you should have three layers all together).
7. Layer the almond cream in middle of one of the sheets of pastry (once again, see the picture). Top with sliced mangos and slivered/flaked almonds. Fold the bottom and edges over onto the filling and gently flip the strudel over and "roll" it up right to the end. You'll probably want an extra pair of hands to help you with this, as it's a little bit delicate. But if you rip the pastry a bit it doesn't matter, you'll hide it when you roll it all up.

8. Brush the top with the remaining melted margarine. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden on top.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool. You can serve it warm (let it sit for at least 15 minutes) or at room temperature (don't chill!), dust with icing sugar before serving.

Makes 1 strudel (serves about 6).

Friday, 18 January 2013

Vegan "Fried Chicken" and Waffles - A Southern USA Classic!

Despite the fact that Southern USA month was last month, I had a few loose ends to tie up so I'm carrying a couple of dishes through to this month. I know you'll look at this and think that it's weird, to be honest I'd agree. Fried chicken and waffles is not the kind of dish I'd normally go for. But when I featured USA, I asked some readers to suggest what they'd most like to see featured. Since the majority of my readers are American, I got quite a lot of suggestions. One of them came up often - Fried Chicken (Kentucky style) with waffles. Apparently this is a speciality of Southern USA and the enthusiasm to have this dish "veganised" was resounding. How can I say no to that?

It took me a while to get to this one, for a few reasons. Mainly because I had to get my hands on a waffle maker! To my great fortune a friend gave me one which she didn't want anymore, which mean't all I had to do know was to find the right mix of herbs for the batter.

I will confess that I'm not in the best position to replicate the exact flavour of true American Fried Chicken - chiefly because I've never eaten such a thing! Indeed, I've never even eaten the fast food franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken (although I've been told that even if I tried to replicate that flavour, I wouldn't be able to without getting my hands on some MSG). There are a lot of recipes on the internet, all of them use different herbs and spices, so I don't really know whether or not this tastes like 'authentic' Southern Fried Chicken. I'll look forward to some Americans trying the recipe and telling me what they think!

You can also make this recipe with seitan or with a commercial chicken substitute. I don't have any available that don't have egg in them, so I just used tofu.


The Fried Tofu
400g hard tofu, drained and squeezed gently to get as much liquid out as possible
3 cups soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 cup of the soy milk used to marinate the tofu

Seasoned Flour
1 cup flour
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp hot paprika (or chilli powder)
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp oregano

The Waffles
1 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup soy milk
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

To Make
1. Whisk the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside to thicken. Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces and submerge them in the soy milk. Marinate for 2-3 hours, or longer if you have the time (you can marinate overnight).
2. Combine all the ingredients for the batter in a bowl and set aside.
3. Combine the ingredients for the seasoned flour in a separate bowl and set aside.
4. Mix the dry ingredients for the waffles together in yet another bowl. Make a well in the middle and gently stir in the soy milk and oil. Heat up your waffle iron (be sure to spray with oil to prevent sticking) and make the waffles according to the instructions of your waffle maker. This batter should make 4 waffles, although this may vary slightly depending on the size of your waffle maker. Place the cooked waffles on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
5. Heat about a cup of peanut or vegetable oil in a fry pan (you can also use more oil and deep fry instead of shallow fry). Take a piece of tofu and dip it in the batter, coating liberally. Then coat in the seasoned flour and drop into the hot oil. Cook for a few minutes and then turn over to cook both sides (if you deep fry, you don't need to turn them over). Remove and drain on a piece of kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining pieces of tofu.
6. Serve the fried tofu on or next to the waffles, with maple syrup to taste.

Serves 4.

I've entered this dish in the Vegan Virtual Linky Potluck.

Check out my other Southern USA recipe posts:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cambodian Cucumber & Vermicelli Salad

I've been looking forward to sharing this salad with you since June last year! I made it originally for Cambodian Food Month, but I was so anxious to eat it's deliciousness that I quickly snapped a quick photo without bothering with good light or good styling and then I gobbled it all up. Sooooo good!

But then - I had a look back at the photo and it was pretty dreadful. The bad light made the salad look very soggy and yellow, which is a far cry from the bright fresh and crunchy salad that it is! So when I got together with friends at the end of last year to celebrate by eating some of the dishes that we had enjoyed the most from the world food challenge, I wanted to make this salad because then I could get some better pictures and because honestly it was one of my favourites. Guess what I did the exact same thing again! Anxious to eat quickly = terrible photos! See what I mean?

Attempt 1 - June 2012
Attempt 2 - December 2012
So - I had to make it again (not so much of a chore - I was happy to eat this salad three times!). What do you think? A big improvement? Either way this is such a wonderful salad that I'll be making it again and again and again. So there will be plenty of other opportunities to get more photos - if I can hold myself back from eating it for long enough!

Cambodian Cucumber and Vermicelli Salad
1 x 250g packet rice vermicelli
3 lebanese cucumbers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tbsp soy sauce
1 red chilli, finely chopped (you can remove some of the placenta if you want it less hot)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
2 shallots, chopped

To Make
1. Soak the rice vermicelli in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and then soak in hot water (just tap hot water - not boiling water) for 10 minutes. Drain again and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. Thinly slice the lebanese cucumbers. To get these nice and thin and ribbon like I like to use a potato peeler  to do this, peeling strips off the cucumber on all four sides until you are just left with the squishy middle bit which it too soft to cut with the peeler, then I just finely slice the middle bits. If you prefer, you can just cut the cucumber as thinly as you can using a knife.
3. Combine the chopped garlic, soy sauce, chopped chilli, sugar, vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl.
4. Place the vermicelli in a big bowl and toss the shallots, peanuts, dressing and cucumber through it.
5. Top with more chopped peanuts and drizzle with extra sesame oil to taste. Eat immediately!

Serves 4 as a meal or 6-8 as a side dish.

Check out my other Cambodian recipe posts:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tirk Salouk Swai (Cambodian Mango Chilli Salsa)

In June last year, I had a month of Cambodian/Khmer food as part of the world food challenge. Unfortunately I didn't really think ahead to the difficulties of having Cambodian food in June - namely, that it was winter and that Cambodian food makes use of a lot of delicious tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. I've learn't my lesson on this now though, and when people request new countries I try and place them in an order to suit the seasons, rather than just the order that people request them in!

When we had our delicious month of Cambodian food, I found some recipes for Tirk Salouk Swai and I really wanted to try it! Combining fresh sweet tropical fruit with sour tangy lime juice, hot chilli and fresh herbs is so far up my alley that it's set up a shop there. Unfortunately, mangoes in winter is a problem. I was determined though, and I found a fruit shop selling mangoes from Mexico for $10 each. The price hurt but I bought one anyway to make the salsa. Sadly, the mango was of an awful quality. I couldn't cut it up into cubes, it just disintegrated into a stringy mango mush. There was no way I could post it up on the blog. So, I vowed to try again when summer came around and beautiful Aussie mangoes were cheap and in season.

To celebrate the new year and the festive season, I had a group of my fabulous friends and faithful tasters over to have some of our favourite dishes from the year again. It was a great excuse to have another go at the Tirk Salouk Swai. It turned out perfectly this time (phew!) and was the perfect fresh accompaniment on a hot summer say. This salsa would go down very well if you brought it to a BBQ or family lunch, plus you can knock it together in a matter of minutes. 

Tirk Salouk Swai

1 large ripe mango
1 long red chilli
Juice of half a lime
2 shallots (scallions), chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
2 pinches salt

To Make
1. Peel the mango and slice as much of the flesh off the seed as you can. Dice and place in a bowl. Now, because you're the cook, you get to suck on the seed and get any remaining mango off it.
2. If you don't want the salsa too hot, slice the chilli lengthwise and remove some of the placenta (that's the pale bit that the seeds are clinging to) before finely chopping. Otherwise, leave it all in and finely chop the whole chilli.
3. Add the chilli, lime juice, shallots, coriander and salt and stir well. Set aside for at least 20 minutes before serving, to let the flavours develop. You can make several hours in advance and keep refrigerated, however, best not to make it the night before as the fresh herbs will wilt and start to brown.

If you're making it for a big gathering, I would suggest doubling the quantities, this recipe makes enough for a party of about 4-5 or a party of 6-7 which includes a couple of people who don't like chilli :)

Check out my other Cambodian recipe posts:

Monday, 7 January 2013

Salsa Verde Potato Salad (otherwise known as Green Potatoes)

Around the holiday season you find yourself often in the position of being asked to "bring a dish" to any number of events. Potato salad is a classic, but give the tired old mayonnaise dressing a miss and try out this fresh and tangy salsa verde.

1kg chat potatoes
1 bunch parsley
1 tbsp capers
1 dill pickle, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 shallots, chopped (scallions)

To Make
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the parsley, capers, pickle, lemon juice, vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil in a food processor. Process until you get to your desired consistency. You can either leave it a bit chunky (like a traditional salsa verde) or continue until it's smooth. 
3. Cut any of the larger potatoes in half, if desired. Stir through the dressing. Sprinkle with chopped shallots (scallions) and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. There is no need to add salt, as the capers are quite salty already. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Celebrating the New Year with Favourites

Happy 2013 to everyone! This blog has been a bit quiet over the last week or so, as I decided to take a bit of a holiday from blogging over new years. I've also decided to take a month off my World Food Challenge, so that I can relax a bit in January and not have to worry about deadlines and getting everything up before the end of the month. There are a few dishes that I didn't get around to trying from Southern USA, so I might keep experimenting with some USA dishes and keep sharing them with you. I'll get back on track with the countries in February though - and we have a delicious year ahead. I've had so many requests from readers that I already have a full list for 2013!

I hope you had a wonderful Xmas and New Years? What did you get up to? I celebrated with friends over food, of course! As you may know, every month I get a group of lovely people around and force them to try all my experimentations from whichever country I'm featuring. So, for an end of year party I asked each of my food tasters to pick one of their favourite dishes from any of the countries featured this year and make it. The result was a delicious mish mash of foods from all over the world! Want to know what they picked?

Amy picked the Croatian Pizzas from Croatia Month (no wonder, as she was the consultant on them, having just travelled in Croatia). Sophie made Sweet Potato Fritters from Chad Food Month (also no wonder, as she picked Chad as the country to be featured!).

Daniel chose the Rendang Tofu from Indonesia Month, which this time I made with dried coconut instead of fresh as cooked it a slightly more traditional way - by simmering it for 1-2 hours instead of being impatient and eating it after 20 minutes. Ruth requested Rohkostsalat a refreshing salad of cabbage and fruit with a creamy dressing (a bit like a fruity coleslaw) from Germany Month.

Heather was game enough to tackle the impressive Smörgåstårta (Sandwich Cake) from Sweden Month. The above picture is her spectacular creation,, and below is what it looked like after we demolished it's deliciousness!!

As for me, I decided to take the opportunity to remake some of the World dishes which never made it onto the blog, either because the recipe didn't turn out quite right or because I didn't get any good photos. So, for savoury I made Cambodian Cucumber Vermicelli Salad and Cambodian Mango Chilli Salsa (recipes coming soon!).

I also made some Razlevjak, cornbread from Bosnia Month - because it's so easy and delicious!

And for dessert?

Amy 2 brought little bites of heaven from Chad Month with the Almond and Pistachio Loz, Paul brought a gorgeous Sholeh Zard (Rosewater Rice Pudding) from Iran Month. I made a creamy tangy southern USA inspired Key Lime Pie, which I'm saving up to feature in my upcoming cookbook (so keep your eye out) and, following my earlier philosophy of remaking dishes which has failed in the past, I made a Croatian Bajadera. I'm happy to say that the amended version was an absolute success! It was also quite spectatularly  tasty, recipe coming soon. Here is how it turned out:

It was a huge feast from all over the world! Dishes from Chad, Croatia, Bosnia, Sweden, Germany, Iran, Cambodia, Indonesia and the USA, and I have to say we ate it alllll! I can't wait to see what delicious dishes we have in store for 2013's World Food Challenge!

What delicious foods did you eat this holiday season?