Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Yummy tom yum and savoury samosas

This weekend I was out with a friend and we had some vegetarian tom yum soup from an Asian noodle place and it was delicious, so I decided to try making it myself. What could be more warming and happy than spicy soup in cold weather?

I didn't manage to get the taste exactly like I remembered it, but it was still pretty tasty! I used this recipe and substituted what veggies I had, which were carrots, red pepper and bok choi, and some chick'n pieces. I also added some vegetarian fish sauce in place of half the soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons more lime juice because I like it sour. :-)

Earlier this weekend I also made some sweet potato curry samosas to freeze for my bento lunches. I found this great simple recipe and substituted sweet potatoes because that's what I had on hand. I also added some peas, corn and carrots. The pastry was relatively easy and they turned out delicious! Definitely making again, and may adapt for potato pierogies. I had some in my bento lunch today (pictured below).

The best foods for warming the soul in Melbourne pre-winter!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Chocolate Frangelico Macarons

So after reading a lot about chickpea juice and its amazing similarity to egg whites for vegan meringue baking, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I used this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Macarons, and substituted Frangelico for the liquor in the icing.

And so my first attempt* at macarons was a moderate success!

It worked! Mostly... I think I added too much vanilla and piped some too big so they spread too much. Also they are a little gooey and undercooked inside, but otherwise very yummy!

I think next time I need more chickpea juice (everyone is calling it aqua faba now), less vanilla essence, and to pipe them smaller and bake a little longer.

(*There was one other attempt with a packet mix, but that was such a dismal failure that melted all over my oven that we don't speak of it)

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bento fillers

So I know I've been AWOL for a while, I've been recovering from ankle surgery and busy getting back into work. But I'm still bento-ing!

Here are some photos from my recent efforts, including epic cooking day today in which I made spicy lentil balls, carrot and parsnip kinpara, mini green pea burgers, and teeny muffin pan tofu omelets with red bell pepper and mushrooms (from Isa Does It, this is the easiest and best way to make omelets ever). [Not pictured: mini black bean burgers and daikon radish pickle.]


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Bring on the Bentos

So lately I've gone on a bit of a bento binge. Watching lots of anime has inspired me to cook more japanese food, and to buy more bento boxes. (My favourite sites are Bentoland and Bento and Co). I recently bought a shikiri compartment bento (pictured below) and an adorable book-shaped one.

So while I haven't cooked anything new this week, I have enjoyed yummy lunches packed with various dishes I made during a day-long cooking frenzy last weekend.

Behold, my delicious lunches:

Peanuts, currants and pumpkin seeds, easy sesame carrot salad, nasu dengaku eggplant, and rice.

Dumplings steaming!

Omelettes are harder than they look...

Imo yokan jelly snack (from Daiso), tofu, currants, potato salad, spinach, tamagoyaki, pumpkin water chestnut wontons, and rice.

New Shikiri bento box!
Pesto risotto with garlic roast zucchini, spinach, tamagoyaki, tofu, potato salad, Bio cheese flowers, and mushroom steamed bun. 

For the buns, I used the sauce from Terry Romero's BBQ seitan buns to cook the mushrooms in, and the simple dough from Jamie Oliver that I featured in the Tofu Dim Sum post.

The dough for these is genius in its simplicity, the only hard part is getting the bloody things closed so they don't leak!

Pumpkin wonton, spinach, tofu, Bio cheese, carrot salad, and sweet potato latkes with apple sauce. I used Isa's regular latke recipe for these, swapping some of the potatoes for sweet potatoes.

Has anyone else ever made bentos? I would love to start up a vegan lunch box photo pool on Facebook. :-)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Kitsune udon

Today I've been feeling under the weather, so I made a simple and comforting kitsune udon soup, inspired by an adorable anime I've been watching. In Gourmet Girl Graffiti, the main character cooks this for her cousin when she has a cold.

It was very warm and filling! Definitely something good to whip up on a weeknight.

Recipe here. I also added some wakame seaweed for extra nutrients.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tofu dim sum with coconut buns

Since Jamie Oliver has started to offer quite a few vegan recipes on his website, I've been getting more interested in him lately. Recently I was browsing his 15 Minute Meals cookbook and came across this recipe, which intrigued me. 
Originally it had chicken, but veganising it was pretty easy,  as every other ingredient was vegan. What I really liked about it though was the genius idea of two-ingredient coconut buns. This reminded me of a great tip someone offered on one of my Facebook food groups for the easiest vegan cake ever: tin of coconut milk, packet of vanilla cake mix, sliced apricots (or other fruit) on top, baked. 
This was super delicious (although it didn't take fifteen minutes of course) and I'll be making the coconut buns again, possibly with a filling next time. 
I've included the modified recipe below. 

For the Coconut Buns
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
2 heaped coconut milk tins (500g) of self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
For the tofu, pickle & garnishes
400g tofu (I used puffed tofu pieces)
140g mixed mushrooms
3 tbsp hoi sin sauce, plus extra to serve
2 limes
200g tenderstem broccoli (I used bok choi and red cabbage instead)
1 cucumber
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
½ a bunch of fresh coriander
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
Pickled ginger
1 – 2 fresh red chilies
Pour the coconut milk into a food processor with 2 heaped tins worth of self-raising flour and a good pinch of salt, whiz to a dough, then tip on to a flour dusted work surface. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, cut into 8 even sized pieces, then place each one into a double-layered muffin case, and squeeze those into one layer of the steamer. Pour 5 cm of boiling water into a large wok or on top of a medium saucepan. Put the basket of buns on top with the lid on and leave to steam until firm. 
Toss the tofu in a bowl with the roughly torn mushrooms, hoi sin sauce, juice of ½ lime and a pinch of salt. Mix with your hands.
Tip the tofu and mushroom mixture into the second steamer basket along with the trimmed broccoli and pop underneath the tray of buns for 5 minutes until cooked through. (I cooked the tofu and vegies in a wok as I don't have two steamers)
Peel the cucumber into ribbons (I used a vegetable peeler), toss into a bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar and a few torn coriander leaves, then with clean hands squeeze and scrunch everything together to make a pickle.
Toast the sesame seeds in the frying pan on a low heat until golden, then tip into a little bowl, cut the remaining 1 ½ limes into wedges, and serve with the pickled ginger and extra hoi sin sauce in little bowls.
Serve the buns and tofu scattered with the remaining coriander leaves and finely sliced chilli.
Serves 4

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Food pics!

And just for funsies, I thought I'd post some random pics of other things I've made and eaten recently, including baba ghanoush, pumpkin spring onion pancakes, and mejadra (lentil rice dish with fried onions and cucumber coyo sauce, also from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem)  made by my friends for a dinner party last week. Yummm. 

Chermoula aubergine

My last aubergine post for a while, I promise! I've just been excited that the footscray market has them super cheap.

Today I made Chermoula aubergine with bulgher and yoghurt, from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.

I used a spice mix from my favourite Middle Eastern market, Oasis Bakery. It's a little way away from where I live, but whenever my friends and I head down that way, we always stop there for falafel wraps and yummy Lebanese donuts. They stock an amazingly diverse range of spices, each of which have funny little stories printed on the lid. :-)

The Chermoula mix (which contains paprika, cayenne, black peppercorns, among other things) had instructions on the pack to blend it with some onion, fresh mint and coriander, and garlic. I also added some chopped preserved lemon, and oil, as per Ottolenghi's recipe. This mix was spread on the aubergine halves and then they were baked for about 40 minutes.

The bulgher was really easy, I've never made it before but it turns out to be a lot like couscous: just pour a cup of boiling water over a cup of the grain and let it sit to absorb. Then I added some currants instead of sultanas because that's what I had on hand, flaked almonds, some more fresh herbs, spring onion, lemon juice, and salt. The recipe also calls for chopped green olives but unfortunately I'd run out. It was still tasty though. I served the aubergine and bulgher with some plain coyo coconut yoghurt.

Overall, the Chermoula was maybe slightly too spicy for me, next time I think I'll use less of it in the blended mixture, or make my own spice mix with less cayenne.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ash Reshteh - Ottolenghi

So, following the Middle Eastern theme I've been on recently, tonight I made Iranian Ash Reshteh soup from Ottolenghi's Plenty More. Ash Reshteh is made with chickpeas, lentils and noodles, served in a thick soup, with lime juice and sour cream. 

Apparently, the reshteh noodles bring good luck, and are often eaten before a big decision or journey, like the one to Mecca. I used soba noodles in my dish, as they were the only ones I had. This was fairly easy to make, as I already had all the ingredients - my favourite kind of recipe! (Well, except for some parsley that I borrowed from a friend.) 

The soup is very rich, a small bowl was enough to satisfy me. I think this will be a good standby for the cooler months. As you can see, Plenty More is easily veganised, and definitely recommended! 

Recipe follows: 

Serves 8

125 g dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight with 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
[Note: I cheated and used two cans of cooked chickpeas instead.] 
125 g dried butterbeans, soaked in water overnight with 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large onions, thinly sliced
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
80 g clarified butter
1½ tsp turmeric
Salt and black pepper
225 g yellow split peas
Roughly 2 litres vegetable stock
35 g chopped parsley
35 g chopped coriander
15 g chopped dill
100 g spring onion, thinly sliced
150 g baby spinach
100 g reshteh (or linguine) broken in half
150 g soured cream, plus 1 tsp per portion to finish
1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
4 limes, halved

Drain and rinse both the chickpeas and butterbeans, then either boil them separately in lots of fresh water until almost cooked – anywhere ­between 25 and 55 min, or cook under low pressure for around 2.5 min for the chickpeas and around 5 min for the butterbeans, once they come to pressure – and drain. Reserve a few of each legume as a garnish

In a large, heavy-based pot, sauté the onion, garlic and butter on ­medium heat for 20 minutes, or ­until soft and golden-brown. Stir in the turmeric and some salt and ­pepper, then lift a third of this mix from the pot and transfer to a dish for use later.Add the chickpeas and butterbeans to the pot, then add the split peas and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the froth occasionally, or until the peas are tender. Add the herbs, spring onion and ­spinach, stir and cook for 15 minutes more; add extra stock (or water) if the soup is very thick. Taste and season generously.

Add the noodles and cook for about 10 minutes, so that they are just done. Stir in the soured cream and vinegar, adjust the seasoning and serve at once, garnished with extra soured cream and the reserved cooked onion mix. Serve lime halves to squeeze over every portion.