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)

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.