Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Week 7: Pumpkin Tomato Curry and Chandra Malai Kofta

Pumpkin curry

This was a surprisingly easy recipe from a random Penguin curry book I have, that I discovered when flipping through my cookbooks for something to do with the Pumpkin I had.

Oh man, I wish I could transmit scent through this blog because it smelled amazing, with just the Pumpkin, vegan butter and Cumin seeds. Mmm.

Quick, easy and delicious, this is going to be one of my new staples, along with the chickpea curry I love. The only ingredients in this really are Pumpkin, ghee, Cumin seeds, onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric and Chili. I also added amchoor powder because I had it and thought it might add to the flavour.

I was craving the Pumpkin Lakhnawi from my favourite Indian takeaway place and this really hit the spot.

Malai Kofta

This was actually a lot easier than I'd thought, providing you remember to soak the nuts or as Isa says "always be soaking"! Which I am not, but luckily I did remember.

I like that this is made mostly from ingredients I usually have on hand (except Panko Crumbs). :-)

The kofta mixture came out a little too wet, so I added some more Panko Crumbs, but then it didn't hold together super well when frying (side note: I am always frying with Coconut oil from now on. Yum.), maybe because I tried to chop the Zucchini instead of shredding it finely due to not being able to locate my grater. Oh well.

The sauce was super thick and creamy and amazing. If anything, maybe slightly too rich, but so worth the time put in. It would be equally as good just poured over some steamed veggies. Definitely making again!

Time for food porn photos:

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Week 6: Black Rice and Cashews

This week's dish is from Robin Aisbell's Big Vegan. (I have a beloved sweet potato gnocchi recipe from this book that I make regularly, it is divine.)

Big Vegan

It's been a long week, so I decided to go for something a little easier - black rice with cashews. I also added in some other veggies (zucchini, red Bell peppers and mushrooms) for some colour, but the rice kind of overcame all their colour and in the end the whole thing was black. Oh well!

In the end it turned out a little too salty for me, what with the Miso as well as the vegetable stock. I probably wouldn't make this again, but I would like to try black rice in more dishes. :-) 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Week 5: Dosa deliciousness

Potato Dosa from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats

This week's dish was a little ambitious, but I didn't realise how much so until I actually read the recipe properly. ("Wait what, you mean I have to soak it for eight hours then let the batter ferment for eight hours??") So yes, definitely not a spur of the moment dish, but definitely worth the effort.

I went to a bit of trouble a while ago to find the right kind of dal - urad dal - for the dosa pancake, then stored it in my cupboard and forgot all about it. I remember looking at it and remembering that I'd gone to a lot of trouble to find it but having no idea what recipe I'd bought it for, until recently when I remembered, hooray!

As I'm the queen of substitutions (and had trouble finding ground fenugreek powder), I used asfoetida in this instead, after making friends with a lovely Indian guy at the supermarket, who assured me that the internet was lying to me and no neither fennel seeds or mustard powder would make an adequate substitute. (And because I'm not gluten free I just used normal flour in this recipe, as opposed to the two types of rice flour suggested)

So a lot of planning is involved in this dish. First I had to soak the split lentils overnight, then make the batter and let that ferment for another eight hours. Here is the interesting bubbly effect that happened the next day:

In the meantime, I made the potato and leek filling: 

Maybe because I didn't cover them properly, but the potatoes took way longer than expected to cook. (Pro tip: don't try to cook these in the morning before having to leave for a family lunch, it will be very frustrating.)

The hardest part though, proved to be making the actual dosa pancakes. It took many failed attempts (and a lot of swearing) to get the technique of swirling the batter with the bottom of the ladle so it spread wide and thin across the pan, without breaking or lumping up. The key seemed to be keeping the heat at an even medium-high, and a slow, light touch as I smoothed the ladle around. One thing that still bothered me though was that it didn't bubble and have little holes in it like with regular dosa (and in the picture in the book). I'm not really sure why this was, maybe because of the flour I used, or it didn't ferment enough.

I served these cut in half with lots of mango chutney at the family lunch and vegetarians and omnivores alike seemed to enjoy them, so I'll call that a win!

Smith & Daughters

So for mothers' day brunch today I took my mum to Smith & Daughters, so she could see what I've been raving about. At first I was disappointed they weren't serving the dinner menu and paella, until I ate this:

Mmmm, Spanish-style omelette with chorizo, sweet peppers and soffrito, with avocado on top. Yum.

Mum chose the French toast with poached quince which was also very nice:

I am determined to go back soon for dinner and taste more of that amazing paella!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Week 4 - Green green risotto

Alas, time got away from me again last week, who would have thought just one new recipe a week was such a challenge?! But I did come through with another delicious dish from Isa Does It:

Pesto Risotto with Roast Zucchini

Isa is the first to admit that risotto can often go awry and though I haven't had a lot of experience with cooking risotto, this one turned out to be mostly foolproof. Like many Isa recipes, it takes a little longer, but is so worth it.

I always love recipes that are not only rich and delicious but also filled with things that are good for me (which doesn't always go hand in hand in my kitchen). I liked how green and appealing my shopping trolley looked with all the herbs and zucchinis!

There's several steps involved in this, but if you're good at multitasking (and make the pesto ahead) it shouldn't take much longer than 30-40 minutes.

The pesto hit a bit of a road bump when I got home and realised I'd picked up parsley instead of coriander by mistake, which is far too pungent to add into this kind of combination. I also couldn't find fresh thyme so I substituted fresh marjoram, which still seemed to work pretty well.

The zucchini went into the oven while I started the onion and rice mixture:

After that it was just alternating the adding of stock and pesto until they were all absorbed and it was very creamy:

I also had some pine nuts slowly toasting in a pan so I could add these for garnish with the zucchini on top of the risotto:

In a word: yum. The garlicky zucchini was simple but delicious, and the risotto so flavourful and pretty. Would definitely make it again, if I had some pesto pre-prepared. A great warm and hearty meal for cold days. What's your favourite winter recipe?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Week 3: Take a Bao

So after not feeling well for the past few days, a big steaming bowl of spicy Pho was just what I felt like last night. I've always adored BBQ buns, so I wanted to try my hand at them too, though I knew it wouldn't be easy. Both of this week's offerings are from Terry Hope Romero's Vegan Eats World.

Terry Hope Romero

BBQ Seitan Buns

These were just as involved as I'd imagined, and the only way I was able to get them done last night, sick and tired, was because I'd made the seitan ahead of time, earlier in the week. 

After some quick conversion from ounces to grams, and staring in consternation at the 35g packet of yeast ("Surely she doesn't expect you to use all five sachets? The box says only one is needed to make a Tea Bun..."), I decided to just follow what the recipe said. I ran into a minor snafu early on, when the dough was not 'tacky' and moist as described in the book, but decidedly dry, with quite a bit of flour sitting around it. I added an extra half a cup of water and tablespoon of oil, and it seemed to start behaving better.

After letting it sit for an hour and then 'punching down' the dough (I've always loved that instruction, I have a photo of one time I made bread, where I've left an actual fist mark in the dough. :-D), I rolled and cut it into small balls:

In the meantime, I cut up the pre-prepared seitan and baked it with the marinade while the sauce thickened on the stove. When they were combined, then came the fun part, shaping the bao:
(Quite a bit of the seitan mixture may have made it into my mouth rather than the bao, sooo yummy.)

After fiddling around in different batches whether to steam with the lid on or off, I decided to leave it on, reasoning that slightly wet bao were better than half-cooked ones.

And voila, the finished product! Om nom nom. They did taste a little more... yeasty I'm going to call it, than store bought bao I've tasted, but still yummy.

 "Did she really make fresh Bao? Quaint!"

Sizzling tofu Pho soup

This was a lot more involved than I expected it to be, with a lot of simmering time and cooling time and several different parts all to be assembled, so I may have taken some shortcuts. I used a packet of pre-marinated tofu instead of making more seitan from scratch, and fried it in a pan. The broth was by far the most complex part, with a lot of different spices (some of which I had to substitute, will try again another time when I have all of them to see the difference). After frying the onion and ginger, I added the shitaake mushrooms and other sauces and simmered for 45 minutes, after which you are supposed to strain the veggies out and add soy and vinegar, but I forgot to do this until it was already in the bowl so I added some in there.

The best part was assembling the bowl in layers, first the noodles, then chopped bok choy and carrot, then tofu and the broth poured on top. Definitely not a weeknight meal though, unless you'd made some of the parts ahead of time, but I will definitely be making it again!

Spicy and sour and delicious.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Week 2: Super sandwiches

So despite all my best intentions, I ran out of time this week to make the Bao like I'd planned. But! I did receive two new cookbooks in the mail (hooray! you know, sometimes I just type 'vegan' into book depo to drool over all the shiny cookbooks I don't yet own. But anyway): Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day, and Artisan Vegan Cheese. So I present for you now two of the delicious and inventive sandwiches from Vegan Sandwiches:

Oreo Wafflewiches

Oh wow. Yes, just as good as they sound. AND, it is the kind of recipe you can make from ingredients you almost always have on hand, which is only like my favourite kind of recipe ever (seriously, few things make me happier than reading an awesome recipe in a book and thinking, hey, I can make that recipe right now). These are actually surprisingly easy to make, if you own a wafflemaker (mine was $30 from the supermarket a few years ago, still going strong). All you need to do is mix, pour and wait, then fill with melty icing.

Don't be jealous.

Peanut Butter Banana Bacon sandwiches

Wait, don't run away! I know this sounds kinda weird, but it totally works. I love really original recipes that try new combinations, which is why this one caught my eye. The smokiness of the chickpeas, creamy peanut butter and sweet banana meld into this warm, gooey comforting thing when grilled together. I used a frypan to make the chickpea bacon because I don't have a broiler but if I made it again I would cook them for a bit longer, to let the flavours meld more. 

Next Week! Hopefully BBQ Buns and Pho (shizzle).

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Week 1: Puffy Pillow Pancakes

Hello and welcome to the Kate Cooks Actual Recipes From Her Too Many Cookbooks challenge! (Otherwise known as Challenge Accepted)

When I came to realise recently that I own over 40 cookbooks (and counting), yet have probably only used two or three recipes from many of the books, I decided to challenge myself to cook new things, and this project was born.

After seeing Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's live cooking demonstration recently, this week I decided to make Puffy Pillow Pancakes from my (brand new) Isa Does It cookbook.

Now, my previous attempts at pancake making have resulted in at best, soggy crumbly piles of dough, so I was a little sceptical that mine could turn out like the inch-thick pancakes in the book.

The first batch didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd hoped, were difficult to flip and resulted in a few pieces of reject pancake (which then prompted a cloud-shape type debate on Facebook over what they looked like):

(Feel free to add your guesses in the comments)

But! When I actually followed Isa's advice about not crowding the pan with more than two pancakes at a time, they turned out almost perfectly! Voila:

Mmmm, pancakes.

Next time I think I might add some different flavours in the batter, like orange zest. :-)

Next Week: Steamed BBQ Buns from Terry Hope Romero's Vegan Eats World.