Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Avocado, Rocket and Almond Salad

I made this salad as an accompaniment to some fried tofu a while back and I couldn't believe how special it was with so simple a set of ingredients. The key is, of course, beautiful fresh ingredients. It's a very quick and easy to make and it's texture is fantastic, chewy & bitter rocket with fresh crisp cucumber, creamy avocado and crunchy flavourful almonds and pepitas. Use fresh lime juice for the dressing, bottled stuff just really doesn't cut it!

Avocado, Rocket & Almond Salad

2-3 cups fresh rocket (you can sub baby spinach, if you prefer)
1 large lebanese cucumber
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry roasted almonds
2-3 tbsp pepitas
Cracked pepper, to taste

To Make
1. Arrange the rocket in a wide serving bowl. Roughly chop the cucumber and spread over the rocket. Dice the avocados and arrange on top of the cucumber.
2. Combine the lime juice, soy sauce and olive oil and then shake or whisk to combine well. Sprinkle over the top of the chopped avocado.
3. If the almonds are already dry roasted, simply sprinkle them on top. If they're not, dry roast them in a pan for a minute or two until just golden, shaking the pan often to ensure they don't get burn't spots. Sprinkle on the salad.
4. Dry roast the pepitas over a medium to low heat until they start to pop, shaking the pan regularly to prevent burning. Once they start to pop you can remove from the heat and sprinkle on the salad.
5. Garnish with cracked pepper if you like.

Serves 2 to 4, depending on what you're serving it with.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Chocolate & Grapefruit Marmalade Vegan Cupcakes

Today I'm baking. It's a big, big baking day involving loads of cupcakes. Why? Because I'm donating my time and my delicious cupcakes to the wonderful Swopera. Swopera is a great event created by best friend to raise money for promoting equal marriage rights in Australia. It's a really fun night in which singers choose arias from opposite gender roles to perform. You can get all the details on the Swopera facebook page. I'm really excited about it and am thrilled to donate my time to a cause I feel so passionate about.

If you're in Sydney this weekend & not doing anything on Saturday night then come on down to Paddington Uniting Church (Oxford St) for a really fun night. You can also get one of these badass cupcakes to go with your bitchin' cup of tea. You know you want to!

I used my own homemade grapefruit marmalade for this, but you can use store bought (if you can find it anywhere). If you can't get it anywhere I recommend making your own, it's very easy and the grapefruit marmalade gives the cupcakes a delicious depth. The hint of bitterness of the grapefruit rind compliments the chocolate beautifully and makes a really sohpisticated flavour. If you don't want to make the grapefruit marmalade you can try substituting 1/2 cup grapefruit juice instead of half of the oat milk.

These can also be made with other marmalades - try it with orange, lemon & lime, or even ginger marmalade (yum!). I've iced mine with orange buttercream icing, but you can use chocolate icing if you want to make them even more chocolatey.

Chocolate & Grapefruit Marmalade Cupcakes

1 cup oat milk (or soy milk)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup grapefruit marmalade
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the oat milk, sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and grapefruit marmalade.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until all combined.
4. Fill your cupcake baking tray with liners and fill them 3/4 full of batter.
5. Bake for 23 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool. To serve, dust with icing sugar or ice with orange buttercream icing (recipe below) or chocolate buttercream icing.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Orange Buttercream Icing

The Icing:
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
2 2/3 cups soft icing mixture
1 tsp vanilla extracty
The zest of 1 orange

1. Mix the nuttelex, lemon juice, zest and icing mixture together in a bowl using either an electric mixer or a knife and some good old elbow grease (nice workout).
2. Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe the icing on in a spiral generously on the top of the cakes and decorate as you like (I used fresh blueberries).

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