Friday, 30 December 2011

Blackberry Coulis


There is something very luxurious about coulis, probably all the fresh berries. The other day I noticed that fresh blackberries were coming out in my local supermarket and thought to myself that I had to make some things with them while I could! The special touch to this coulis is the addition of parfait armour, a very fragrant violet liqueur which adds a fantastic aroma to the coulis. You could substitute any berry-based liqueur or just use a tsp of vanilla extract instead.

This is an all purpose recipe, you use it however you like - I've got it above drizzled over freshly sliced mangoes. You could also use it to drizzle over any fruit, ice cream, cake or pudding that you like, or even just to decorate your dessert plates.

Ingredients
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp parfait amour

To Make:
1. Put the blackberries in a small saucepan along with 1/2 cup water and the sugar.
2. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
3. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the blackberries have softened and cooked though.
4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
5. Add the parfait amour and then process in a blender/food processor or with a stick mixer.
6. Allow to cool completely and drizzle over whatever you like.

Probably makes about enough to drizzle over 2 desserts of your choice.




Friday, 23 December 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts Part 4: Orange & Pistachio Shortbread


Christmas? No Problem, Man. I've just finished making all my Xmas presents today - and man it feels good to have it all done. Above we have (L-R): Cranberry and Almond Biscuits, Orange and Pistachio Shortbread and Tahini and Lime Biscuits - all vegan of course because that is what we do here at G w/ A & K. My family and friends will also be getting a lovely array of home made jams, for details and recipes see Edible Christmas Gifts Part 1.... and apologies to any family who are reading this and just got their Xmas gift surprise ruined....

So when I sat down to plan my Xmas biscuit jars I immediately remembered A-dizzle's delicious Spiced Vegan Shortbread recipe posted up recently. So I decided to use that and to make a variation on this great shortbread, so that I could offer up another Xmas gift idea: Orange and Pistacho Shortbread. 

Ingredients:
1 cup of nuttelex or other non-dairy butter/margarine
½ cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp orange essence
2 1/4 cups of plain flour 
1 tbsp orange zest
1/3 cup shelled pistachios (measure first, then chop finely)

To Make:

1. Preheat your oven to 180° (conventional) or 160° (fan forced).
2. In a large bowl, cream the nuttelex, sugar, orange extract and vanilla extract together with an electric mixer. Add the orange zest and mix again.
3. Add the flour and spice mix (1/2 cup at a time) to the nuttelex and mix well with a spoon or your fingers until a smooth, even and firm dough has been formed. This should only take a couple of minutes.
4. After lining a tray with baking paper, roll small balls out of the dough and press each down gently with two fingers. After pressing down each ball, you can press down on each side of the biscuits with a fork to create a design.
5. Place your shortbread in the oven for 20-25 minutes. They should still look nice and pale and feel a bit too soft to touch (don't worry they will firm up as they cool), if they feel hard and biscuity straight out of the oven they are over cooked.
6. You can now remove your shortbread biscuits from the oven, cool them for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Makes about 26 biscuits.

Want more Special Edible Gift Ideas? Check out the rest in this series of posts:
Edible Gift Ideas 1: Jams!! (several of them!)
Edible Gift Ideas 2: Super Gingery Gingerbread People
Edible Gift Ideas 3: Spiced Shortbread

And if you are in the Xmas spirit:
Chocolate Ice-Cream Christmas Pudding
Mulled Spiced Cider


Monday, 19 December 2011

Chocolate Ice-Cream Christmas Pudding


To be totally honest I've never really liked Xmas pudding, which is the main reason that I've never even bothered to try and make it vegan. In Australia Xmas is so damn hot (although probably not this year, damn climate change) that boiled fruit cake is really not the most appropriate of desserts - the solution is Chocolate Ice-Cream Christmas Pudding! Not only is it much tastier but it is also a LOT quicker and easier to make. So think outside the box this year and surprise your family with this rich and chocolatey Xmas treat. 

Initially my plan was to do the whole thing and make the ice-cream myself but then I thought 'hey! Xmas is stressful enough so nobody wants to be making freaking ice cream, right?' - so this is the quickie version with store bought ice cream, but I promise that soon I will post an ice cream pudding recipe with home made ice cream (I'm thinking Passion fruit, Mango and Vanilla Bean Ice-cream Pudding - what do you think?). But back to the point in hand:

Ingredients
300g mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel, cherries)
100g glacé cherries (I used red but go red and green if you want to be festive)
2 tbsp brandy
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1.5L vegan chocolate ice cream
100g dark vegan chocolate
3 tbsp soy milk
2 tsp maple syrup
Slivered almonds, to garnish

To Make:
1. Chop the mixed fruit up into smaller pieces and place in a bowl. Add the brandy, glacé cherries, orange zest and spices and leave to soak for at least an hour (you can leave it over night if you like).
2. Line a small-medium pudding bowl with plastic cling wrap (my pudding bowl was abut 21cm diameter and 11cm tall - only makes a smallish pudding but you won't need more because it is very rich).
3. Take the ice cream out of the fridge and leave for about 5 minutes to soften a bit (but not too melty).
4. Mix the chocolate ice cream into the fruit mix, mixing very thoroughly.
5. Pour into the plastic lined pudding bowl and put in the freezer to set overnight. You can also make this several days in advance (saves you doing all your cooking on Xmas eve!). 
6. When ready to serve, heat the soy milk in a small saucepan until hot but not simmering or boiling. Remove from heat and add the broken up dark chocolate and the maple syrup. Stir continuously as the chocolate melts and you should end up with a lovely glossy ganache (the ganache topping is optional but it does make the final product look more impressive).
7. Just before serving remove the pudding from the freezer and turn out onto a flat serving plate (the plastic wrap should make this nice and easy). 
8. Drizzle the ganache down the sides and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Serve immediately!


Should serve about 13-15 people.


More great Xmas ideas?
Try our Edible Christmas Gifts Specials:
Spiced Christmas Shortbread

Or try our Mulled Spiced Cider - because Christmas is a time for spices!

This post is part of the Festive Favourites Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by 84th & 3rd.





Saturday, 17 December 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts Part 3: Spiced Christmas Shortbread



A plate of these babies will look and taste great on the table at Christmas. Better yet, fill a jar with your awesome and easy to make shortbread, tie a festive ribbon around the top and... BOOM! You have an inexpensive and tasty gift to give!

Ingredients:

1 cup of nuttelex or other non-dairy butter/margarine
½ cup of brown sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 cups of plain flour (white or wholemeal)
4 tsp of ground cinnamon
½ tsp of ground cardamom
½ tsp of ground cloves

To Make:

1. Preheat your oven to 180° (conventional) or 160° (fan forced).
2. In a large bowl, cream the nuttelex, sugar and vanilla extract together by mixing until smooth. I find it is easiest to do this with a fork (or an electric mixer if you have one).
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and spices together until combined.
4. Add the flour and spice mix (1/2 cup at a time) to the nuttelex and mix well with your fingers until a smooth, even and firm dough has been formed. This should only take a couple of minutes. If it is too sticky you may need to add a bit more flour.
5. After lining a tray with baking paper, roll small balls out of the dough and press each down gently with two fingers. After pressing down each ball, you can press down on each side of the biscuits with a fork to create a design.
6. Place your shortbread in the oven for 20-25 minutes and...
7. You can now remove your shortbread biscuits from the oven, cool them for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Note: Feel free to sprinkle these with icing sugar and/or cinnamon.

Makes 25-30 biscuits.

For a variation on these, try K-bobo's Orange and Pistachio Shortbread!


Friday, 16 December 2011

Vietnamese Claypot Eggplant with Glass Noodles


To be fair this is actually eggplant sans the clay pot. You can use a clay pot if you have one otherwise any other heavy based pot will do instead. This version is a bit different from the type that you get in Vietnam - I've added the glass noodles because I love them (and that's a good enough reason as far as I'm concerned) and I added the bok choy as well. Neither of these things would appear in the traditional dish but I like to add them so that this becomes a complete one pot meal - and a very quick one at that.

Ingredients
2 small eggplants or 4 skinny Asian eggplants
1/2 cup oil for frying
4 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1x 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
1x 4cm piece fresh lemon grass
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp mushroom sauce
Cracked black pepper
2x 100g cakes of died glass vermicelli noodles (also known as bean thread noodles)
1 bunch baby bok choy
Fresh coriander

To Make:
1. Combine the oil for frying with 2 tbsp of the sesame oil and heat in a wok. Slice the eggplant into long strips and fry in batches until soft and browned. You will need to replenish the oil a bit with each batch as the eggplant really soaks it up.
2. Heat a small saucepan of boiling water beside the wok as you are frying. As each batch of eggplant is ready transfer the pieces into the boiling water for about a minute and then remove with tongs or a slotted spoon into a bowl. (This is done to remove some of the oil that the eggplant has soaked up so that you don't eat it all - makes it a bit healthier)
3. Grate the ginger and garlic very finely. Peel the thick outer layer off the lemongrass and finely mince the inner section. Combine the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cracked pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, mushroom sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1/3 cup of warm water in a bowl and mix well.
4. Pour this marinade over the eggplant and marinate for about 30 minutes:

5. Line the bottom of your "clay pot" with the bok choy


6. Add the glass noodles


7. Place the eggplant slices on top. Mix the marinade left at the bottom of the bowl with 2 cups boiling hot water and pour over the eggplant and noodles.
8. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes and then remove from the heat. Let stand for a minute and then sprinkle with chopped coriander and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve.

Serves 2-3.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts Part 2: Super-Gingery Vegan Gingerbread People Biscuits


Gingerbread Men and Women are generally awesome - and are even more awesome when they are made to look like your friends (ok, not actually like them very much) as gifts to give to them for Xmas. For example, in the above picture we have (starting from top left and going clockwise): K-bobo, Katie-Cuddlepot, Daniel, Ben, Super Sophie, Chris, Paolo, Leobean and A-dizzle.

These particular gingerbread people are extra gingery with a double ginger hit so if your friends and family don't like ginger...... well...... don't make them these.... or divorce them. Don't worry A-dizzle will be posting some awesome Xmas shortbread recipes for those of your family and friends that don't do ginger. 

Ingredients
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup blackstrap molasses (just fill a 1/4 cup measurement halfway)
1/4 cup almond milk or soy milk
2 cups plain wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup crystallised (or you can also use glacé) ginger, chopped very finely

To Make:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, or about 160 if your oven is fan forced.
2. In a bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, molasses and milk until well combined.
3. Add one cup of flour and whisk through. After this you will want to put the whisk aside and get a wooden spoon because the mix will get too stiff.
4. Add the bicarb, baking powder, spices and the other cup of flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon (this will help develop your huge biceps so you may like to even out the other side by stirring a bit with your left (or non dominant) hand). Stir through the finely chopped ginger.
5. Wrap the biscuit dough up in plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a thick disk. Refrigerate for about an hour and a half (or as long as it takes before you have time to make them - you can leave in the fridge for up to 2 days, but make sure you take it out of the fridge 10 mins before using to soften it up a bit).
6.Flour your benchspace and roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick (keep the piece of plastic wrap aside though as you will use it again). Use a person shaped biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits and transfer them carefully to a tray lined with baking paper (you will want to do this with a thin spatula). Continue until you can't fit any more out of your rolled dough.
7. Grab up all the little extra bits of dough and put them back in the plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and knead a bit before flattening out into a disc shape again (this will smoosh all the pieces together). The roll this piece out and cut some more.
8. Keep repeating step 7 until as many biscuits are cut out of the dough as possible. Here they are before cooking:


9. Bake each batch for about 8 minutes (if you know your oven is very hot you will probably want to reduce that to 6-7 mins, or reduce the temp) and then transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before icing.

Makes 22 Gingerbread People (may vary depending on the size of your cutter).

Now the icing...
How much effort you want to go to really depends on how much time you have. You can make do with just eyes and mouth or you can go the whole shebang and give them little outfits.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups soft icing mixture
2 tbsp soy milk
Food colourings (of your choice)
Coloured sprinkles (if you want - I used them to make A-dizzle's awesome colourful tights because she always wears awesome tights)

To Make:
1. Put icing sugar in a bowl and add 2 tbsp soy milk. Mix well with a butter knife. 
2. Consistency should be like toothpaste, nice and thick but easy to pipe. If it is too dry add 1/2 tsp more soy milk, alternately if you find it is too runny you can add a little more icing mixture.
3. Split icing into 3 containers and add a different colour to each one (I used green, yellow and hot pink).
4. Put into piping bags with the thinnest nozzle you have and go crazy on the little divas!
5. If you want to use the coloured sprinkles just smear some icing on first so that they stick (I made a small amount of brown icing using a bit of cocoa powder to use for sticking sprinkles to - but you can use the coloured ones too).

Here are all the other ones that I made too:

And all of them together:




Sunday, 11 December 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts Part 1: JAM!! (Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam)


Buying Christmas presents can be not only hard but stressful. But here is the secret - home-made edible Christmas presents are not only cheaper and cooler but are also a lot more special and personal to the person you give them to (they also show off your rad kitchen skillz! and we all know that girls only want boyfriends who have great skills...). Jams are particularly special gifts if you give them flavours that they can't buy anywhere else - like the four listed below.

So, pictured above we have plenty of jam varieties for you to choose from:
Tangelo and Goji Berry Jam (I know, tangelos are a bit hard to get your hands on but if you can then definitely pick this one because it has a delicious tart freshness to it)
Strawberry and Mulberry Jam (you can't go wrong with this one - and if you can't get the mulberries just substitute raspberries or blackberries)
Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam (recipe below - it pretty much blew my mind)
Tomato and Pineapple Jam (for those a bit more adventurous, this is both mine and my partner's favourite type of jam - probably the main reason we are together)

So - here are the steps to awesome gifts that everyone will love: 
1. Make your jams
2. Bottle them up 
3. Add some nice handwritten labels
4. You can put some Christmasy fabric on the top
5. Tie some ribbon around it to make it festive
6. Give at Christmas
7. Get ready to accept some serious praise

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients
750g fresh strawberries
750g fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into about 1cm pieces
1.5 kg sugar
1 packet of Jam Setta (for info on Jam Setta see this other jam post)


To Make
1. Chop up strawberries, I like to do about half of them small and the other half chunky. Chop the rhubarb into pieces about 1cm long. Put all the fruit in a big saucepan (ideally the jam should only take up about 1/3 of the saucepan so probably use the biggest one you have).
2. Add the sugar and stir through. Put the pot on a low heat (you don't need to add any water!) and stir a bit until the juice starts to come out of the fruit and the sugar starts to melt. Once there is enough liquid in the bottom of the pan you can stop stirring and cover the pot over to bring it to a simmer.
3. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the jam setta and simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Check the jam has set. To test this do a set test, place a tsp full of jam (preferably not a chunky fruity bit) on a saucer and put it in the freezer for about 30-40 seconds. Take it out and run your finger through it. If the jam crinkles then it is ready. If it doesn't boil the jam for 5 more minutes and try the test again.
5. Once you have a successful set test remove the jam from the heat.
6.Wash empty glass jars in hot soapy water and rise well. Dry and fill with hot jam. Screw the lids on very tightly.
7. Line a huge saucepan with tea towels (so the glass jars don't touch the bottom). Place your tighly sealed jam-filled jars in the saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Cover and bring to the boil. Boil for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat.
8. Once they have cooled a bit remove the jars from the water, dry and label them.

Makes 6-8 jars (depending on the size of your jars).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Vegan Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins (plus variations)


This is a basic blueberry muffin recipe with the added specialness of the oat bran, which gives it a delicious porridge kind of flavour. These blueberry muffins are also incredibly healthy overall and make a great breakfast or afternoon tea. I'm eating them for breakfast right now in fact. Given that these ones are your basic plain blueberry muffins I have added some variations down the bottom for those of you who fancy something a bit different.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 cup oat bran
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup soy or oat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp canola or rice bran oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (You can also use fresh blueberries, however, I prefer to use frozen because a) they are more cost effective and b) fresh blueberries should be eaten fresh and not baked with)

To Make:
1. Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees C.
2. Put the flour, oat bran, sugar, bicarb, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well to combine and remove lumps (a whisk or a fork work well for this).
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the soy milk. Mix well to combine. Add the apple sauce, canola oil, vanilla and lemon zest and mix well.
4. Just before cooking stir through the blueberries. You have 2 options here, you can either mix them well to make your muffins come out a  purpley-greeny colour or you can mix very gentle and sparingly so that your muffins come out slightly marbled/swirly looking - either way make sure the blueberries are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
5. Either grease a muffin tray well or cheat a bit and use cupcake liners (which I did - it's just easier!!). Fill the tray/liners to the top and then bake for 23-25 mins. 
6. Remove from the oven when they are golden on top and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Variations:

Orangey Blueberry Muffins:
Substitute 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice for the soy milk and use orange zest instead of lemon zest.

Mixed Berry Muffins:
Substitute frozen mixed berries for the blueberries.

Blueberry Pecan Muffins:
Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the batter just before adding the blueberries. Top each muffin with a pecan for decoration.

Double Blueberry Muffins:
Add reduce the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup blueberry jam to the mix.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins:
Reduce the amount of blueberries to 1 cup and include 2/3 cup vegan white chocolate chips.

Blueberry Wheat Bran Muffins:
Substitute wheat bran for the oat bran.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice, Zucchini and Broad Beans


These tasty stuffed tomatoes look fiddly but take surprisingly very little time to make. They're a delicious combination of crunchy baked on the top and deliciously juicy inside. They make a perfect (and very healthy) dinner with a salad or vegies on the side. When we had this (pictured above) I just made a basic salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, olives and continental parsley drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and then sprinkled with some sumac. They went together perfectly.

Ingredients:
6 large round tomatoes
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 cup shelled fresh broad beans (substitute frozen if fresh is unavailable)
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 zucchini, grated coarsely
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

To Make:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the rice and broad beans. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Then drain and rinse thoroughly.
3. While your rice is cooking away prepare your tomatoes. Cut a wide hole in the top of each one (like carving a pumpkin to make a lantern) and discard the top bit (and by discard I mean give it to your guinea pig). Scoop out the contents of each tomato and put aside.
4. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the grated zucchini and garlic and sauté until softened. Chop the tomato middle bits up and add to the pan. Turn down low and simmer gently.
5. Pick the broad beans out of the rice and put aside (if you don't want to have to do this you can cook them in a separate saucepan but I just use the same one to save washing up). Peel the broad beans (just make a little cut or tear in the wrinkly outer skin and then just squeeze gently and the bean will pop out). Cut each bean in half.
6. Add the rice, broad beans, herbs, soy sauce and salt and pepper to the pan. Stir well and heat through.
7. Fill each tomato as full as you can with the rice mixture and place upright in a slightly oiled baking dish. You will have a bit of mix left over (unless you managed to find awesomely huge tomatoes in which case kudos) but just eat that while you're waiting for them to bake :)
8. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the dish around about half way through. Serve with a salad or some vegies on the side.

Makes 6 tomatoes so serves 3 adults (or 2 adults and 2 kids).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Icing


These delicate little cakes are something I created to celebrate the end of an era - the end of my 6 year double degree!! That's right I have finally finished my first 2 degrees and now I am free to a) earn proper money (a concept very foreign to me) and b) spend more time cooking and blogging! Hurray! 

Nothing could taste sweeter than freedom but these cupcakes come pretty close.

Ingredients

The Cupcakes:
1/4 cup soy milk (or almond milk)
1 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup canola or rice bran oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cooked pumpkin, mashed finely
1 1/4 cups plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
Extra cinnamon, to sprinkle on top

The Icing:
1/4 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
2 2/3 cups soft icing mixture
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest


To Make:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Combine the soy milk, sugar, oil and vanilla essence in a bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and mix well.
3. Sift in the flour, bicarb, baking soda, lemon juice, zest and spices. Mix well to combine.
4. Fill a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill liners just over half way full and bake for 17 minutes. Test that they are done by ensuring a knife comes out clean when stuck into the middle of them.
5. Mix the cream cheese, nuttelex, lemon juice and zest and icing mixture together in a bowl using either an electric mixer or a knife and some good old elbow grease (nice bicep workout).
6. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before icing. To ice, pipe the icing on in a spiral on the top of the cakes and sprinkle with cinnamon to prettify.

Makes 18 small cupcakes or 10 large cupcakes.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chilled Watermelon Salad with Ginger and Passionfruit Syrup


This salad is perfect for a light and refreshing snack on a hot day. The cool, juicy watermelon paired with the slightly spicy ginger and the zingy, flavoursome passionfruit makes for a most lovely combination. Elegant and sophisticated enough to take to party, and easy enough to make and keep in the fridge for when you're feeling peckish, this salad has all occasions covered.

Ingredients:
3kg watermelon, chilled beforehand.
The pulp of 1-2 passionfruits

Syrup:
3 Tbsp of freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh ginger
3 Tbsp of agave nectar or maple syrup

How to make:
1. In a small saucepan, add all syrup ingredients and bring to the boil, simmering for 3 mins.
2. Take saucepan off the heat and let sit for 15mins. Chill for 1 hour.
3. Prepare the watermelon by either chopping into cubes or scooping out small and delicious spheres with a melon baller (this is way funner!). Add to your serving bowl/s.
4. Strain the ginger from the syrup and drizzle over the salad, adding a few of the reserved peices of ginger if you like.
5. Top with the passionfruit pulp and enjoy!

Serves 4

Sunday, 13 November 2011

World Food: On a Mission

image from shutterstock.com


This blog is now officially on a mission!

I'm determined to cook and blog foods from countries all around the world - particularly those countries who don't get a lot of media coverage for their food. We've all read a million cookbooks on Indian Food and seen a million pseudo celebrities doing food tours of Italy, but what about a documentary on food from Botswana? What about trying some recipes from Tahiti or Cambodia? Therefore I'm asking you, as readers, to suggest countries for me to tackle. Each month I will pick a new country and make sure my blog posts include some recipes inspired by that country (possibly not authentic cuisine - as we will have to make it vegan!), and of course I will definitely screen them to make sure that only the tastiest ones get blogged! Don't worry I'll also keep blogging all the other tasty every-day recipes!

So please help me out by commenting below and suggesting some interesting countries which you think the cuisine of doesn't get enough attention!

Can't wait to hear from you!
~ K-bobo

UPDATE (January 2012) - 
Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions guys! I now have a big list of countries, one for every month of 2012! But please keep the suggestions coming as I love to hear what you guys want and adding it to the list! A-dizzletron and I are having so much fun exploring these cuisines that we previously knew nothing about and I hope that you are enjoying reading them to! We have just finished our last entry for January - Croatia Month, which was requested by an anonymous commenter and we would firstly like to thank him/her/it for such a great suggestion - it was delicious! I'd also like to thank all the fantastic people who helped us out by providing their knowledge of Croatian food. If you'd like to check out the recipes we came up with, here are the links for the 9 Croatian dishes we posted up this month:

Poppy Seed and Almond Kolache
Yumuşacık Poğaça (Fluffy savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles - one of my favourites from the month)
Paprenjaci (Cracked Pepper Biscuits)
Posna Sarma (Rice filled cabbage rolls)
Makovnjaca (Poppy Seed Strudel)
Croatian Pizza (with "kulen sausages" and vegan feta cheese!)
Kupus Na Zagorski & Blitva (2 delicious vegie side dishes)
Šljivovec (AMAZING plum pie)

It's quite a list of recipes! All of them were delicious (of course, otherwise we wouldn't have posted them!) but I would have to pick my top 4 as the Yumuşacık Poğaça, Paprenjaci, Croatian Pizza and the Šljivovec. But then the Posna Sarma and Makovnjaca were pretty special too... you see I just can't pick! So you'll have to give them all a try!

So - we are leaving Croatia behind (for now!) and moving on to our February featured country which was requested by Sophie - CHAD! Yes, in February we will be delving into the Northern African landlocked country of Chad (something tells me there will be less sea food then there was for Croatia!). We can't wait to share what we find with you and I hope that if you know lots about food from Chad then you will contact us and let us know! 

Yours deliciously,
~K-bobo


UPDATE (February 2012) -
February has been a truly delicious month!! Special thanks to reader Sophie for suggesting such a great country for us to feature - Chad! I didn't know a single thing about Chadian food before I started this quest for Chadian recipes and now I feel a whole lot wiser on the subject! It was a much bigger challenge than Croatia Month was because of the general lack of recipes from Chad out there (possibly something to do with the fact that they are one of the poorest countries in the world) and because I have absolutely no contacts with anybody who has been to Chad (not surprisingly really). However, here are the 7 recipes we managed to find and post up:

Chadian Breakfast Bouille (Rice and peanut porridge)
Millet Balls with 3 dipping sauces (Chadian Peanut Sauce, Saka Saka Sauce and Harissa Lime Sauce)
Chadian Irio (Mashed beans, potatoes and vegetables)
African Loz (Almond and Pistachio Bites of Amazingness)
Kachumbari  (Light and delicious African salad)
Maharagwe (Kidney beans in a lightly spiced coconut sauce)

We did also have two other dishes that we made which didn't end up posting, one because it just wasn't really up to standard and the other because it was absolutely delicious but the photographs didn't turn out very well so I will have to make it again and post it later! It was a thoroughly delicious month but I have to say that my favourite was definitely the African Loz - those little bites of almond, pistachio and orange blossom water were out of this world!! They also went down an absolute hit at out Chadian dinner party and we had guests fighting over the last one (we ended up having to cut it into six pieces so we could all have a bit!!). My other favourites, however, were definitely the Chadian Sweet Potato Fritters and the gorgeous Peanut Sauce which I made to go with my millet balls! The Maharagwe was also a huge hit with dinner guests!

So! Onward with the next theme! I'm excited to announce that March will be Bosnian Food Month, a country suggested in the comments below by an anonymous reader. Firstly thank you to him/her/it/them for your great suggestion! To start the month off I have posted my first recipe: Bosnian Zeljanica (Vegan Spinach and Cheese pie). I also have to announce that this month I will be doing it solo, as A-dizzle has decided to move on to bigger and better things (and the best of luck to her!) - so bear with me while I adjust to this blog being a one man show!

Yours hungrily,
~K-bobo


UPDATE (AUGUST 2012)
I have stopped adding the recipe links in this post, as it just would have gotten too long! Instead I have made a recipe index which you can check out by clicking here or by going to the World Food Challenge Recipes link at the top of the page.

~K-bobo

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Marinated Tofu, Broad Bean and Broccoli Salad with Tahini Dressing


There is nothing quite like a good salad and a glass of wine out on the deck in warm weather. This salad is the perfect mix of 'light and refreshing" and "surprisingly filling", and isn't that just what you need in summer? The real beauty of this salad though is that the marinade doubles as the base for the dressing because you're not using meat - so nothing goes to waste!

In this salad I added something a bit special which I call 'mature snow peas' - which means that I left the snow peas on the plants in my garden until they became big fat pea pods and ate the peas. I realise you'll only be able to do this if you have a vegie garden (and if you do then you should try it because they are lovely sweet peas!), if you don't then you can either add plain fresh garden peas or just leave that bit out.

Ingredients
300g hard tofu
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup shelled fresh broad beans (has to be fresh for this one!!)
1 thing of broccoli, cut into florets 
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 spanish onion, sliced thinly
1 cucumber, diced
2 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp capers (drained)
1/3 cup fresh peas (see note above)
Baby spinach (plenty)
2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon

To Make
1. Drain the hard tofu and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Cut into chunks about 2cm by 1cm and put in a flattish bowl. Add the soy sauce, crushed garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Roughly chop the chilli and add that too (including seeds). Mix well. Marinate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally to evenly spread the marinade. 
2. Preheat the oven or grill to 150 degrees C. Toast the sunflower seeds until lightly browned, this will only take a few minutes so keep your eve on them the whole time! Put aside and turn off the oven.
3. Steam the broad beans and broccoli until just cooked (but not overcooked!) then remove from the heat and allow to cool in a strainer (I recommend doing this step while your oven is preheating). When they are cool enough to touch peel the outer skins off the broad beans (they should have gone all wrinkly during steaming so all you have to do is cut the outer skin open and squeeze them out). 
4. In a large bowl combine the baby spinach, spanish onion, chopped cucumber, sunflower seeds, capers, cold steamed vegies and tomatoes. Mix to combine.
5. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a fry pan. Scoop the tofu out of the marinade (and keep it!) and fry until crispy and golden - you will have to turn them over with tongs a few times to make sure they are crispy on all sides.
6. Now, take that marinade (that you didn't throw away!) and add 1 tbsp tahini and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix very well to combine. (Hint: if you are down the bottom of your tahini jar and the tahini is a bit dry then you should add some oil to the jar and mix well to make it nice and liquidy again before adding to the dressing - otherwise you will get big lumps of tahini in your dressing which is not ideal). 
7. Divide the salad you have mixed evenly between 3 bowls and drizzle 1/3 of the dressing over each bowl. Add the still warm fried tofu and eat it immediately! (Preferably out on the deck with a glass of wine).

Serves 3 (or two people with slightly bigger serves)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Rocket Pesto Fettuccine with Tomato, Olives and Artichoke Hearts


Having the rocket pesto already made up in a jar in the fridge makes this seriously a 10 minute dinner - and it tastes so special you would never know you spent less time on it than in your morning shower. 

Ingredients
1 packet fettuccine
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tomatoes, diced
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup kalamata olives
2 tbsp fresh lime (or lemon) juice
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste.

To Make
1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
2. Add the olive oil immediately and stir through the pasta - this will stop it drying out and sticking together.
3. Stir through the rocket pesto until it coats the fettuccine evenly.
4. Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Stir through and serve immediately!

Serves 4.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Strawberry and Mulberry Jam


Jam is a fantastic way to enjoy seasonal fruits all year round so as soon as strawberries get cheap and mulberries come out - this jam is on. Like Donkey Kong. If you don't have mulberries substitute blackberries or raspberries.

Ingredients
750g fresh strawberries, trimmed
750g mulberries, washed and stems removed
1.5kg sugar
1 packed Jam Setta (For info in Jam Setta see this other jam post)
1 tbsp lemon juice

To Make
1. Chop up strawberries, I like to do about half of them small and the other half chunky. Halve some of the mulberries and leave the rest whole. Put all the fruit in a big saucepan (ideally the jam should only take up about 1/3 of the saucepan so probably use the biggest one you have).
2. Add the sugar and stir through. Put the pot on a low heat (you don't need to add any water!) and stir a bit until the juice starts to come out of the fruit and the sugar starts to melt. Once there is enough liquid in the bottom of the pan you can stop stirring and cover the pot over to bring it to a simmer.
3. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the jam setta and simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Check the jam has set. To test this do a set test, place a tsp full of jam (preferably not a chunky fruity bit) on a saucer and put it in the freezer for about 30-40 seconds. Take it out and run your finger through it. If the jam crinkles then it is ready. If it doesn't boil the jam for 5 more minutes and try the test again.
5. Once you have a successful set test add the lemon juice and remove the jam from the heat.
6.Wash empty glass jars in hot soapy water and rise well. Dry and fill with hot jam. Screw the lids on very tightly.
7. Line a huge saucepan with tea towels (so the glass jars don't touch the bottom). Place your tighly sealed jam-filled jars in the saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Cover and bring to the boil. Boil for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat.
8. Once they have cooled a bit remove the jars from the water, dry and label them.

Makes 6-8 jars (depending on the size of your jars).

For more awesome jam check out our Tangelo and Goji Berry Jam.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Apple and Mulberry Crumble


Mulberries are just starting to become available in shops now so it's the time to seize the season and indulge in berry-tastic dishes! The amazing crumble topping is the star of this dish, so much so that I feel a bit sorry for the delicious berries underneath. This is made in a fairly shallow baking dish so if you have a deeper one then double or triple the quantities of fruit to make it more fruity! Serve with some vanilla soy ice cream. 

Ingredients
5-6 green apples
2 cups mulberries
1/4 cup water
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup walnuts
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (linseed)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2/3 cup Nuttelex (or any other vegan margarine)

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees C.
2. Peel and roughly chop the apples and put in a saucepan. Wash and remove stems from mulberries and add to the saucepan as well with the 1/4 cup water. Put on a low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the apple is cooked.
3. Roughly chop the walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pepitas (this is best done using a really big knife and keeping your fingers well away!). 
4. Combine the oats, nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, flaxseed and dessicated coconut in a big mixing bowl and mix well to combine. 
5. Melt the margarine (either on the stove or in the microwave). Make a well in the middle of the dry mix and pour the margarine in. Mix very well until all the ingredients are coated in the marg. 
6. Grab a baking dish and  pour the cooked fruit into the bottom of it (including any cooking juices), spread out to make an even layer. Layer the crumble mixture on top evenly, spreading it all the way out to the edges.
7. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven, or until the top goes hard and crunchy (just touch the top with you hand to check - if it feels hard like a biscuit then it's done, if not give it another 5 mins).
8. Serve immediately (preferably accompanied by vanilla soy ice cream).

Serves 6 (or 3 people for 2 nights).

NOTE: The thing about crumble leftovers is that you CAN'T microwave them because it is a crime and the top will go all soggy. So when you want to eat your leftovers just pop it back in the oven for 15 minutes or so to warm up.



Saturday, 29 October 2011

Homemade Vegan Rocket Pesto


This little jar of heaven is a must to keep in the fridge a) because you can smear it on your sandwiches and vegie burgers and b) if you stir it through some hot pasta it makes a seriously sensational and super quick dinner or lunch.

Ingredients
200g fresh rocket
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli (most seeds removed)
Juice of 1 lemon
70g pine nuts (1 pkt)

To Make: 
1. Put the rocket and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Add the garlic, chilli, pine nuts and lemon juice and process again until all ingredients are finely blended and it looks nice and pasty.
3. Use immediately or store for up to 2 weeks in a jar or sealed container in your fridge.

Makes 1-3 jars (depending on the size of your jars). Makes nice gifts too :)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Vegan Spinach, Walnut and Sumac "Sausage Rolls"


These are absurdly simply and make a tasty snack food or if you serve them with a nice salad on the side it's dinner for four. Although they are so damn tasty that you might just want to make that dinner for two so you get to have seconds :)

Ingredients:
1 onion, finely diced
Olive oil, for frying
3 vegetarian sausages, chopped up
1 generous teaspoon sumac
7-8 big spinach (silverbeet) leaves
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
1/3 cup walnuts
2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry, thawed
Soy milk, for brushing
Sesame seeds

To Make:
1. Preheat oven to a moderate 180 degrees C.
2. Add a splash of olive oil to a saucepan or frypan (preferably non stick because you'll need less oil) and heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until completely cooked.
3. Add the chopped vegie sausages and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Wash and remove the thick white stems from the spinach and chop finely. Add to a saucepan with 1/3 cup water and cook, covered, on a low heat until the spinach is completely wilted (takes 5-10mins). Drain spinach in a strainer (but don't squeeze as it will mush up your spinach).
5. Break the walnuts up with your hands. In a bowl combine the onion and sausage mix, spinach, sumac and salt and cracked pepper to taste. Mix well to combine.
6. Cut each of the pastry sheets in half. Add 1/4 of the mix to the centre of each pastry strip and fold the edges over the top of it to make a large sausage roll (will be bigger than the kind of sausage rolls you buy at bakeries!). Place each sausage roll with the fold side down on a tray lined with baking paper.
7. Brush the top of each roll with soy milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until nice and golden on top (you will probably want to turn the tray around about 10-15mins in to make sure that all4 rolls cook evenly).
8. Devour!

Makes 4 sausage rolls.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Vegan Pumpkin, Maple and Walnut Scones



If only Autumn was edible...wait, it is edible! In the form of these delicious nutty, pumpkiny, maple syrupy scones. To make the most of these scones, serve them warm with vegan margarine and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Better yet, mix it up a little and serve some with K-bobo’s homemade tangelo and goji berry jam (as in the picture above)!

Note: these scones don’t rise as much as others, so don’t worry if they aren’t as tall as usual.


Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups of wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of soy milk (or any milk you like!)
1/4 cup of ricebran oil
1/3 cup of grated pumpkin
2 Tbsp of maple syrup
1/3 cup of finely chopped walnut(or pecans)
Nuts for garnishing (we used almonds)

How to Make:
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, oil, maple syrup and pumpkin.
3. Add all dry ingredients (other than your garnishing nuts!) and mix with a butterknife until well combined.
4. Dust your scone making surface (e.g bench, chopping board, a large book you never really liked...) with a generous amount of flour.
5. Place the scone dough on the floured surface and knead gently for about a minute.
6. Flatten the dough and cut out circles (or any shape) with either a cutter or a glass, and adorn with nuts.
7. Place your freshly cut scones on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15-17mins.
8. Serve warm with vegan margarine, jam and maple syrup.

Makes 10-12 scones.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Spicy Rice with Pumpkin, Broccoli and Fresh Peas


The chilli in this might not be to the taste of everyone but if you like things milder just add less or no chilli and you'll find it is still very delicious.

Ingredients:
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1.5 litres vegetable stock
250g pumpkin, cut into small cubes
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground Peri Peri (or if you don't have Peri Peri substitute Cayenne Pepper or chilli powder)
1 thing (someone tell me what the measure word for broccoli is??) broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh peas
1 tbsp soy sauce

To Make:
1. Heat a drizzle of oil or 2-3 tbsp water in a wok or large non-stick saucepan (I say nonstick because rice is VERY prone to stick to the bottom and if you don't use nonstick I predict you will be going at your saucepan with some serious steel wool at the end of this cooking process). Add the onion and garlic and sauté til transparent. 
2. Add 2 cups of the vegie stock and the pumpkin and simmer until the pumpkin is soft, about 15 minutes (you may need to cover it). 
3. Then add the rest of the stock, the spices, the tinned tomatoes, the broccoli and the rice. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
4. Simmer, mixing VERY often until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, probably about 15 mins again. At this point test the rice to see if it is cooked. If not, add a couple of more cups of water and simmer again until all the liquid is absorbed. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked.
5. About 5 minutes before the rice is finished cooking add the fresh peas.
6. Once you have got the rice cooked to the right consistency turn off the heat a stir through the soy sauce. Serve immediately (if you leave it for a while you'll end up with a large rice cake stuck in your saucepan, however, if you do this then just add another half a cup of hot stock just before serving and mix well to loosen it up a bit.).

Serves 4 easily.