Monday, July 30, 2012

Carrot and medjool date and spice cake

This recipe was inspired by one I found on the fat free vegan blog which I adapted to suit my own taste buds, (ones that don't care for cloves) and tweaked here and there. It works nicely served with a little fresh minty fruit served on the side and a hot cup of tea. Note the lack of sugar for extra brownie points! The perfect amount of sweetness comes from the dates, the grated carrot and the apple sauce.

8 medjool dates, pits removed
2.5 C grated carrot (~ 4 large carrots)
1 C apple sauce
1/2 C sultanas
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 T chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
good pinch salt

Fruit side:
1 punnet strawberries, finely sliced
5 slices pineapple, finely sliced
5 mint leaves, finely shredded
1 tsp brown sugar

Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with baking paper or use a non stick silicone pan and preheat oven to 180 degrees. 
Pulse pitted dates in a food processor until they become a thick paste and battle through the task of scraping their stick mess into a bowl. 
Add the grated carrot, apple sauce, sultanas, vanilla, walnuts and all the spices and mix thoroughly with a fork. If you're feeling slightly frustrated, get in there with your hands, it's the fastest way to get things to come together.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and good pinch of salt into a bowl and then add to the carrot mix, combining everything well.
Spoon into lined baking dish and gently press the mix into the corners and smoothing the top.
Bake for ~ 45 minutes until a skewer comes out fairly clean, it may have a few crumbs on it, but no stickiness. The top will look a little dry, however when you turn it out, the top becomes the bottom, so disaster averted. And it doesn't taste at all dry. It's moist, subtly sweet with just the right amount of spice.

Just before serving throw the fruit together to serve on the side and make your cup of tea :) 
Delicious and guilt-free sweet treat!!

Eggplant, tomato and beet leaf linguine

This recipe was a 'use up the aging ingredients' winner, featuring an eggplant that had seen better days, a few aging tomatoes and a bunch of beetroot leaves going spare, that would have been a crime to waste. Thanks to a few capers and a hint of lemon zest... this became quite a delicious meal.

Serves 4


1 pk linguine

2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, peeled and finely diced
1 massel imitation chicken stock cube
splash white wine (optional)
salt and pepper
1 C water
6 tomatoes, finely diced
small bunch beetroot leaves, stems included, shredded
2-3 T capers (to taste)
zest 1 lemon

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a very generous sprinkling of salt and then add the pasta, stirring well and from time to time to prevent sticking. Cook according to time specified on packet, usually about 7-9 minutes, and making sure not to overcook.

For the sauce:
In a large non-stick wok, add the minced garlic and sauté briefly before adding eggplant, massel stock cube, the splash (or two) of wine, salt and pepper.
Cover, til the wine is absorbed and then add the cup of water and replace the lid.
Once eggplant is cooked (this will take roughly 10 - 15 minutes depending on your dice size) toss in the diced tomatoes, beet leaves and capers and check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as necessary and give things a quick stir. Immediately add the cooked pasta, including a few spoonfuls of pasta water and just before serving add lemon zest. Enjoy!
This dish becomes a lovely color as the pasta absorbs the color from the beet stems :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hearty barley and veggie soup

Hearty barley and veggie soup
This soup is scrumptious. The barley gives it a lovely smooth and creamy texture and the veggies and corn give it subtle sweetness. It's a good winter or early spring soup and, like many of my other recipes, the flavor is even better the next day. Chopping the veggies is the most laborious part of this recipe, however then you just throw them in the soup pot and the only other step to take care of is cooking the barley, which i like to do separately, if i haven't remembered to pre-soak it the night before. Cooking it separately on the night seemed to save time.

Serves 4 (as main size)

125 g pearl barley
1 C water + extra as needed.
1/2 massel imitation chicken stock cube
juice from the can of corn used in the soup below

1 spanish onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely sliced
salt & pepper
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 sticks celery, diced
1/2 C water + 4-6 C extra
1 super sized potato, peeled and diced
2 massel imitation chicken stock cubes
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1/2 bunch italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 large zucchini, diced
1 can corn
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed well
1 small bag of green beans, top and tailed and then cut into small circles

I begin with the barley, and once it's on the go then i begin to chop my veggies.

In a medium sized pot, add the barley, the 1/2 stock cube and water and put it on the stove on med-high heat. Bring to the boil and then once the water begins to absorb, add more and repeat the process until the barley is cooked - this will take about 30 minutes. For the last water addition, add the juice from the can of corn. The barley when cooked should be creamy, smooth and soft to bite into - it almost takes on an oatmeal consistency.

For the soup:
In a large cast iron pot add the onion, leek, salt and pepper and stir to prevent sticking. Add the carrots and celery and then the 1/2 C water so things don't catch.
Add the potatoes, stock cubes and 4 C water.
Bring to the boil and turn down the heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the diced red capsicum and parsley. Add extra water as needed. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Add the cooked barley and then stir through zucchini, corn, butter beans, and green beans. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let sit for a further 10 minutes.
Serve with some extra parsley sprinkled on top :)

African sweet potato stew

African sweet potato stew

This is a vibrant winter's stew, extra comforting and super good for you. Don't be put off by the somewhat extensive looking ingredients list. Once you have everything assembled you throw everything into one large pot and it couldn't be easier. It also makes great left-overs for the next day :)

Serves 4

1 spanish onion, finely diced
1 small knob ginger, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon grass stick, finely diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander seeds
salt & pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
2-3 C water
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely diced, stems included
1 large sweet potato, chopped into rough square chunks
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 massel imitation chicken stock cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into circles
1/2 C peanut butter
5 stems silver beat, roughly chopped
1 can butter beans
1/2 red pepper, cut into squares
1 C cooked wild rice
1 can drained corn (optional).

Steamed rice to serve.

Turn the stove to med-high and to a large non stick wok add the diced onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, cumin, sweet paprika, gram masala, coriander seeds, salt and pepper and brown sugar. Stir roughly and don't let the ingredients catch on the bottom, adding a little of the water to help.
Add cilantro and sweet potato. Stir. 
Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
Stir in massel cubes adding 1 C water.
Add carrot. Stir.
Once it's bubbling, turn the heat to medium and cover with a lid for about 15 minutes, checking from time to time and adding more water along the way. 
Add the peanut butter and stir it through until it dissolves into the sauce, making it quite creamy.
Add the silver beat and cook another 5 minutes.
When the sweet potato is cooked (which will take between 20-30 minutes depending on your dice size), finally add the butter beans, red pepper, wild rice and corn. Cook another few minutes and then serve on steamed rice, either white or brown.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brace yourself...vegan pizza!

Vegan pizza
This is cheats pizza, as i used a ready-made pizza base, however it's still delicious.. and i made the tomato sauce from scratch. Admittedly the first pizza i made was the most successful, however we ate it too quickly to allow time for photos. The key to remember - less is more. The pizza photographed had slightly too much of everything which made things taste a little steamed, rather than sizzled. So less of everything will lead to a more delicious result. 

1 ready-made pizza base.

Tomato Sauce:
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 massel imitation "chicken"stock cube
1 tsp oregano
1 jar tomato passata 
1 tsp sugar

sliced mushrooms
sliced spanish onion rings
sliced green pepper
halved cherry tomatoes
pineapple pieces
zucchini ribbons
kalamata olives

For tomato sauce - in a large non stick pan add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté for a few minutes, watching closely so they don't start to burn. Add carrot and massel stock cube with a splash of water so that things don't begin to stick. Stir. Add the oregano, passata and sugar. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat down and let it cook for about 20 minutes to reduce. Take it off the heat and set aside while you prep your toppings.
Slice up a storm to ready your toppings.
Spread a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on your pizza base and then begin to layer up with veggies, remembering less is more.
Pop into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until the base is toasty and the veggies slightly crisped. 

Coconut, cranberry & pistachio scones

It's freezing cold.. again... and a raw carrot to cure the afternoon munchies just ain't gonna cut it, not today. I'm tired, i'm a little over it, i need to bake to switch my mind off damn it... but what, within the new confines of the oil-free, plant-based ingredients list is one to do???
And then i got a scone brainwave. A coconut one.
So here we go... and i promise the result was quite delicious.

3 C all purpose flour + extra
1/3 C caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 good pinch salt
1/3 C cranberries
1/3 C pistachios 
3/4 can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Put a square of baking paper on a flat oven tray (no greasing required).
In a medium-sized bowl combine all the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk.
Stir roughly until it just begins to come together.
Flour a board and then turn out scone mixture and shape it together into a ball with some gentle kneading, using some extra flour if the mix is still proving too sticky.
Instead of the traditional way of rolling out the dough and cutting out scone circles, i found the dough is a little too soft for this, so i used an ice-cream scoop to scoop the right amount out onto the baking papered tray before popping them into the oven.
They don't take too long to cook, between 15-20 min (enough time to clean up and pop the kettle on for the much needed cup of tea to accompany the scones).
Serve immediately, drizzled with a little of the remaining can of coconut milk and sprinkled with a little brown sugar!
The coconut flavor is just delicious :)

Had to also include a shot of the inside :)