Tuesday, October 24, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #24: Recipe Round-Up: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

24th: Party! – Canap├ęs, finger foods, something to share.

I don't go to a lot of parties, I am not one for large groups. But I do like to bake things to share. And I like to bake things for bake sales. And really, what is a bake sale if not a large sharing party that people pay for? While I am taking a break from organising bake sales, I have still been doing a bit of baking here and there from other bake sales. Fun bars and slices are always well received! Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is a great place to start if you are looking for something fun to make and to share. As well as a zillion cookie recipes, they also have some awesome slices. Here are four I have made recently.

Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars: These are a lovely not too sweet snack, with spelt flour in the base and crumble. I used frozen blueberries for the filling, and added an extra teaspoon of cornstarch to make sure it thickened up enough. I just made a half batch of these bars, which fit perfectly into my 8 inch/20 cm square pan.
Rating: :)

Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars

Call Me Blondies: I needed to bake these for an extra 15 minutes, and they ended up perfect. They rise high in the oven, but then flatted down when they cool. What this leaves is amazing crunchy edges and a wonderfully gooey inside.
Rating: :)

Call Me Blondies

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Brownies: These are a combination of the Deluxe Cocoa Brownies for the base and then a yummy cream cheese topping, which is all baked together. I had to cook this an extra 10 minutes for it to set. These are wondefully fudgy and gooey, and have a great cheese cake flavour. They get sticky fast, so good to keep these in the fridge until they are ready to go.

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Brownies

Pumpkin Pie Brownies: These gave me a bit of trouble, but it all worked out OK. I had used frozen and defrosted pumpkin puree, which had separated out a bit. When I added it to the rest of the pumpkin layer ingredients, it got a bit lumpy. I should have given it a quick blitz with the hand blender to emulsify, but I foolishly did not. The other thing was that there seemed to be a lot of liquid in the pumpkin layer regardless, I googled to see if this was an error but I couldn't find anything. It meant that I couldn't keep the pumpkin pie layer within the borders of the brownie layer, so it didn't look quite as cute as the book. I also had to bake this twice as long, for almost an hour, before it set enough. I was worried that the brownie layer would dry out, but thankfully it did not, and it turned out wonderfully. Pumpkin pie is not something we usually get here in Australia, so this was a fun treat!
Rating: :)

Pumpkin Pie Brownies

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara


Speaking of pumpkins, Sahara had the best little Pumpkin Belleh around. I loved how she had the paler apricot fur mixed in with the cinnamon fur on her tum tum. And she let me rub it as well!

Monday, October 23, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #23: Put it in a Martini Glass.

23rd: Fancy af – Dazzle us with your haute cuisine or gourmet dishes

Due to OzComicCons and illness, I was running a bit short for MoFo planning time. And I got a bit stressed about this fancy business. I didn't have time to go out somewhere fancy, and I didn't have time to make a big fancy menu with all the other things I had planned to make. What to do? What to do? Thankfully, my wonderful friend Michelle came to the rescue with an idea. Well, her idea was to make mousse and serve it in martini glasses. I did not make mousse. However, what is more fancy than food in a martini glass? Very few things. So I thought I'd experiment and see what sort of every day foods would suddenly look fancy pants. The answer is almost anything.

But what is this? Is this some sort of fancy, exciting cocktail or other beverage concoction? Negative, it is just some cloudy apple juice. As this is a liquid, you can actually sip this out of the glass. So sophistication.

Fancy Martini Glass - Apple Juice

Next up, a tin of baked beans. There is nothing fancy about that. Until you put it in a martini glass! The pants of fancy are on!

Fancy Martini Glass - Baked Beans

Craving a snack? Doesn't apple slices and sesame cheese sound good? But this isn't just regular vegan cheese, this is beautiful and locally made artisan vegan soft cheese. You don't want to just put that on a regular plate or bowl, do you? No no no, it wants something worthy of it.

Fancy Martina Glass - Apples and Sesame Cheese

Finally, something that maybe looks like it could be served in a martini glass. What sort of delightful pudding or treat might this be? Negative. This is WeetBix slurry. Take weetbix, brown sugar, peanut butter and non-dairy milk of your choice (mine is oat milk), put it in a microwave safe bowl, nuke it until everything is slushy. Stir it around. Pour into glass. Add blueberries. Oh so fancy!

Martini Glass Fancy - WeetBix Mush

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara


Just casually surrounded by toys.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #22: Recipe Round-Up: The Great Vegan Grains Book

22nd: Unconventional grains – Cooking with freekeh, buckwheat, sorghum, etc – try something you wouldn’t usually!

I enjoy using all sorts of different ingredients, and I love playing with different grains. When The Great Vegan Grains Book came out, it was a natural fit for me. This book covers all sorts of grains! There are your old standards like rice, polenta, barley and quinoa, as well as a huge array of others - freekeh, farro, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, rye... and a lot of something called einkorn. I have never found einkorn, and I can only imagine the cost of it if I ever did, but the book has plenty of suggestions for alternative grains to use in most recipes.

Cost is also an issue when playing with fancy ingredients. Years ago, I used to be able to buy boxes of freekeh at Coles for a pretty reasonable price, however since it has become a 'super grain', it is now harder to find and much more expensive. There has been a bag of cracked freekeh sitting at the health food market near my work for many months now... it costs $16 for 350g. No thank you! So it becomes a matter or finding some good deals on certain grains where you can. I wanted to play around with some new to me grains for this challenge, and I was very happy to find both sorghum and rye berries at super reasonable prices last month.

So let's see what I have been making in this mini-round-up for MoFo. I haven't blogged about this book before, so there aren't any other posts to check out, but there will be more in the future. I have chosen recipes with four different grains.

Tempeh and Buckwheat Bowl: I was sold on this bowl because of the peanut sauce, plus the earthy buckwheat and tempeh. It sounds like a great combination. The sauce is nice, but you need at least a double batch to make it saucy enough for me. I added a splash of veggie broth and Braggs to the tempeh and vegetables while they were cooking to give a bit more flavour and so it wasn't too dry. I got three servings from this.
Rating: :)

Tempeh Buckwheat Bowl

Roasted Radish Freekeh Bowl with Mustard Miso Sauce: Holy yum this is good. I had never roasted radishes before, but I am a convert of it now. The radishes are roasted with the broccoli, served on top of cooked freekeh, and then topped with a delicious sauce. I also added some chickpeas to bulk it up a bit, and got two very filling serves. I also made a double batch of the sauce, it was so good.
Rating: :D

Roasted Radish Freekeh Bowl with Mustard Miso Sauce

Rye Shakshuka: This is a tasty, warming dinner. Cooked rye is added to a tomatoey sauce and topped with eggy fried cubes of tofu. The sauce is meant to have capsicum in it, I used carrots. I also decreased the heat by using just 1/4 tsp of harissa rather than the full 2 tsp. I followed the suggestion of making this with double the rye, rather than serving with bread, as I wanted to have a decent amount to get leftovers. As you can see, even with double the rye it was still very saucy! I liked the rye a lot, it was a nice and chewy grain.
Rating: :)

Rye Shakshuka

Hearty Sweet Potato Sorghum Curry: The recipe says to cook the sorghum first until it is completely tender, with no chewiness, but after an hour mine was still a bit chewy. I ate it and it was fine, I liked it. This is a comforting curry, I made it mild by using 2 tsp of mild curry powder and just a sprinkle or harissa. It gets thick pretty quickly, so I had to add a bit of extra liquid. I had already added some water by diluting out a 270mL tin of light coconut milk to 400mL (the recipe actually calls for full fat, but not for my intolerances), so I added some oat milk as the extra liquid to keep it creamy. I also added some peas, and lots of cilantro (rather than just using the cilantro as garnish). This made 3.5 smallish serves.
Rating: :)

Hearty Sweet Potato and Sorghum Curry

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara

Sahara and her Kickaroo

Sahara absolutely loved her Kickaroo! I allowed her to release the wild cat within, and she would grip it and chew it and kick it with so much joy.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 # 21: Potato Wedges from My Cat Loves Daiya

21st: Making the humble potato the star of the show

If you ask me, potatoes are always the star of the show. They are definitely one of my favourite foods, in all their forms. Potato is queen!

And the queen of potatoes has to My Cat Loves Daiya! So for MoFo I thought I would make these tasty Potato Wedges. I was just serving me, so I used two large potatoes cut into six-eight wedges (one was larger than the other). I used grapeseed oil rather than coconut oil, and I did have my oven a little hotter (just because I know how my oven works). Oh my gosh, these were perfect! I had seasoned them with a seasoning blend I had made previously and had kicking about. They were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Oven Fries

I made some Green Dip from The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes to dip them into. I just made a half batch. It is a silken tofu based dip, with onions and herbs. Because I don't like lots of raw onion, I used some onion powder instead of raw onion and I only used 1 scallion instead of the full amount. I also used garlic powder, and added extra dill because I love dill. I used baby spinach instead of arugula, and left out the hot sauce. It was really nice. Good with the hot chips, and I also dipper some cucumber and celery in as well.
Rating: :)

Green Dip

Here they are together, a very nice dinner.

Oven Fries and Green Dip

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara

Sahara's 7th Birthday

Sahara was always an active kitty, and she loved to play with toys. When she got older, she couldn't play quite as much due to arthritis in her elbows, but she still played where she could. This is a photo of her and her ladybug on her 7th birthday.

Friday, October 20, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #20: Sushi Bowls

20th: Deconstructed dish – Hipster style food. Serving it on a slate is optional.

Super deconstructed hipster food leaves me a bit meh. Not to say it can't be good, and often does look very pretty. But I don't have time for fussing like that at home. So here are a few sushi bowl recipes I have made from different books. I love sushi, and it is not that hard to make, but for a quick and easy meal, a big sushi-inspired bowl is certainly welcome. No slates here, just big bowls. I that these three recipes all sound very similar, because they are, but it is a classic combination!

(Spicy) Sushi Bowl from Vegan Bowl Attack by Jackie Sobon: Of course I made this unspicy. The spicy comes from a homemade spicy silken tofu based mayo. I skipped this all together, and used some kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of shichimi for a subtle spice. As well as the usual suspects (cucumber, radish, avocado, nori, edamame), this also includes mango, which was a lovely fresh addition. Served over seasoned sushi rice. The recipe calls for daikon radish, but I just used some sliced regular radishes (I needed some for another MoFo challenge). This says it makes 4 servings, but we finished it off between two of us, served over baby spinach.
Rating: :)

(Spicy) Sushi Bowl

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad from Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: This yummy, big salad has chopped cos lettuce, brown rice, cucumber, carrot, edamame, nori and avocado. It also calls for quite a lot of sliced green onion, but I just used a sprinkle. It is topped with a Green-Onion Miso Vinaigrette, which has 1-2 cups green onions (I used the lower amount). This dressing is made using red miso, but I have made it a couple of times and it also works well with white miso, so whatever you have on hand.
Rating: Salad: :), Vinaigrette: :)

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl from But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan by Kristy Turner: Sushi rice is topped with our regular friends: carrots, cucumber, avocado, nori and radishes (though these radishes are lightly salted first). The radishes were meant to be watermelon radishes, but we don't have anything that pretty here, so regular radishes it was. Instead of edamame, this bowl calls for lemongrass or chile-roasted tofu. I chose the lemongrass option, and it was lovely. It also has a simple dressing of tamari, vinegar and mirin, and was topped with pickled ginger and sesame seeds.
Rating: :)

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara

Sahara on the bathroom sink

As well as sitting not-on-tables, Sahara also sat on the bathroom sink every morning to supervise me having a shower. Also to make sure I could never forget that she was waiting for her breakfast. It is strange showering now without her presence.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #19: Toast of the Town

19th: A dish with five ingredients or fewer (not including cooking oil and salt and pepper)

I made toast. Toast is a dish! Toast is a meal! Toast is delicious. And five ingredients can give you a whole range of exciting toast creations (well, four ingredients once you count the bread). And you don't even need that many, peanut butter and toast is two ingredients and is one of the best things ever! But what if you want to go a bit more adventurous?

Peanut butter, banana, blueberry and cinnamon is one of my favourite pre-yoga fuels.

Peanut Butter, Banana, Blueberries, Cinnamon on Toast

Vegemite, avocado, turmeric and fresh tomato is how I start almost every twelve hour work day.

Work breakfast

A recent craving recently led to hummus, roasted broccoli, BBQ sauce and nooch.

Hummus toast

And I experimented with some Vegemite, tahini, nooch and shichimi.

Tahini toast

There are endless combinations of toppings to choose from. What are some of your favourites?

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara

Sahara on the table

Did someone say toast? Sahara loved to be involved, and could often be found sitting on things to watch on. Technically she was not meant to sit on the kitchen table (according to my mother), but as you can see she is clearly NOT on the table here, she is sitting on some newspaper.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

VeganMoFo 2017 #18: Cheerful Chocolate

18th: Chocolate – Today is Chocolate Cupcake Day, but you can make anything you want with chocolate!

Chocolate Cupcake Day... sure thing America! I am endlessly amused by the different food days that the US always seems to have, they sound like so much fun! Some are also oddly specific (I'm looking at you spicy guacamole day and blueberry cheesecake day...).

Child slave labour is a huge issue in a lot of chocolate production, and since the beginning of the year I have been trying to only buy chocolate that is truly 'fair trade'. The Food Empowerment Project's Chocolate List has been hugely helpful with this. The good news is that all of my favourite chocolates (Justins, Theo, Endangered Species, Eli's Earth Bars...) are on the approved list! The bad news, none of these are available in Australia. But I have been having fun exploring some of the options that we do have here. A note, I am a very picky chocolate eater. In general I like my chocolate dark, angry and bitter with the world. I find a lot of the vegan 'milk' chocolates to be far too sweet, and don't even get my started on the abomination that is white 'chocolate'. Even a lot of supposedly dark chocolates are not dark enough.

Alter Eco chocolates are quite widely available, even in supermarkets! Most of their dark chocolate varieties are vegan, and I am happy to report that their very dark chocolate (not pictured here) is excellent. Although they could be a little darker for my idea world, I also very much enjoy their sea salt chocolate and crunchy quinoa chocolates. There is a decent amount of salt in the salted one (I love salted chocolate, but a lot of them don't have enough). The quinoa one in any other incarnation would be on the too sweet side, but it is redeemed by the delicious, crunchy quinoa puffs through it. It is super fun.

2017-09-13 19.09.56

Seed & Bean is a British (I am pretty sure) brand that is very hard to get (I only seem to find it in Melbourne) but that I really like. Smith & Deli normally have some flavours in their shop, but last time I was in Melbourne I stumbled into a random shop that seemed to have almost the entire range! Most of the dark chocolate ones are vegan. Again, they could be a bit darker for my tastes, but their flavours make up for that. My favourites are the sea salt and the fennel (tastes like liquorice bullets!).

I never through I was a raw chocolate fan (Prana is a popular brand here, but I just don't enjoy it), but Loving Earth converted me. They have a range of flavours in blocks and single serve hearts, and they recently released a fancy pants range as well. My favourite is the Buck and Berry in the fancy pants range, and the Turkish Delight is very nice as well. They also do a very good 85% dark chocolate block. They have a lot of other fun flavours as well, though they tend to err on the side of too sweet for me. But I don't mind a little snack on a raspberry or hazelnut heart now and then. Loving Earth is becoming pretty widely available here, so that is good. Speaking of raw chocolate, The Chocolate Yogi also makes an amazing dark salted Astral bar that I love.

Chocolate Haul

I was sent this amazing care package from my amazing friend Dana, who lives near Boston. Dana is one of the researchers for the FEP, and sent me a fun selection of local to her chocolates. So far I have eaten the chocolate orange one (always a good combination) and the lavender sea salt one (really nice and floral!). I have been saving the maple pecan one for last because I suspect that one will be my favourite, but I haven't gotten to it yet. She also sent me a bunch of other fun stuff - Buffy, cats, Hufflepuff. She knows me well.

2017-09-01 15.06.55

There are a couple of local chocolate makers that I also enjoy (Treat Dreams, Noosa Chocolate Factory), their information indicates that they use fair trade chocolate. However as I have discovered from FEP, just saying something is fair trade doesn't necessarily make it so. I am going to ask FEP to contact them to confirm. I really hope they are! I bought this stash of Treat Dreams chocolate on the last Vegan Day Out, and I am looking forward to trying them.

2017-10-12 07.05.01

This is a work in progress for me, I certainly am not perfect at it. I still sometimes order chocolate desserts when I am out at restaurants or cafes, and who know where that came from. Sometimes if I need to make something chocolate-heavy for a bake sale I will use a chocolate brand from the 'working on the issue in various ways' list because of the amounts involved (also very hard/impossible to find a FEP chocolate chip here). I subscribe to a vegan mystery box for the first half of the year, and it includes chocolate sometimes that are not on the FEP list. But I have definitely come a long way and I am going to keep on trying.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post - Month of Sahara

Sahara serious face

Sahara has her serious face on to remind you that even if they are FEP approved, no chocolate is approved for cats as it is toxic to them!