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.




Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Spring Blossom (Sake and Lychee Cocktail)


This cocktail is one that my partner and I made after we found this amazing pre-mixed drink called a Tsunami. It was described as a Sake/Lychee/Muscat drink and it was pretty much amazing. However, like all pre-mixed drinks it wasn't exactly what you'd call a bargain - plus it isn't available in any bottle shops so we have to head to the brewery every time we want to get it, which, to be honest, is only about 20 mins drive away but it's still 麻烦. So, the solution was that we made something similar and absolutely delicious at home, which I call a Spring Blossom because it is so light and refreshing and just perfect for spring and summer.

Ingredients
(for each serve, so times by how many people you are making them for)\
1 measure good quality Sake
2 measures lychee juice 
Soda water to top up
1 slice of lemon (not just decorative - tastes great!)

To Make
1. Put the sake and lychee juice in the bottom of a wine glass or highball tumbler.
2. Top up with chilled soda water to the top and then add the slice of lemon.
3. Drink. You may want several of them...

Makes 1 serve


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


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mulled Spiced Cider


Mulled cider is just nice. That's all there is to it. Try to pick a cider that isn't too sweet, scrumpy is preferable but something like Strongbow Dry (not sweet!) is also a good pick because it isn't too sweet and I believe Strongbow is vegan friendly. If you want to use another brand of cider you will have to check with the company to make sure it is vegan friendly.

Ingredients

2x 375ml bottles of cider (or one for each person drinking the cider)
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
10 cloves
2 cardamom
2 strips orange peel (use a potato peeler to peel two big strips off the orange)
1 tbsp brown sugar

To Make:
1. Empty cider into a saucepan and heat gently until warmed.
2. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, vanilla bean, cloves, cardamom (crush slightly first with the side of a knife), orange peel and brown sugar.
3. Simmer gently for about 8 minutes.
4. Line a tea strainer with 2 layers of muslin or cheesecloth (or cotton would work fine too) - this just strains out the cardamom seeds and vanilla bean seeds, but if you don't have any cloth handy you can just strain it normally and you will have some seeds which slip through.



5. Strain the cider directly into the glasses/mugs or strain first into a glass teapot or jug and serve. You may like to add the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean into the serving glass for garnish.

Serves 2.

A-dizzle and I drank this with her lovely Spiced Christmas Shortbread and they just went beautifully together - so I recommend you try them as a combo!

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.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Berry, Rosehip and Orange Iced Tea














It is now the second day of summer over here, and what better way to celebrate it than with some refreshing and rather delicious iced tea? This iced tea is caffiene free, so it's great if you want to enjoy a refreshing drink on a hot day without getting dehydrated. This recipe uses freshly squeezed orange juice, but feel free to get creative and add any juice you like. And if you have a bit of of a sweet tooth, some elderflower or ginger cordial can certainly be added.

Ingredients:
3 berry tea bags ( I used cranberry, rasberry and strawberry)
2 rosehip tea bags
2 litres of water
1 litre of freshly squeezed orange juice
Lime wedges, to serve.

To Make:
1. In a large jug, add water and tea bags. Place in the fridge to infuse and chill for atleast 1 hour.
2. Remove from fridge and add orange juice. Stir.
3. Serve with lime and enjoy!

Makes 12 cups.