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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I won't go nuts again!

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It was what I was thinking, I had a nut allergy and slightly more serious than the usual hayfever. And if that weren’t enough for this festive period, BoyfriendLovlie had it too! By the end of Christmas day, we were both sick with a swollen throat and lungs for the past few days but, we are slowly recovering now. We can both tolerate nuts to some extent but I think we crossed our limits without realizing. Well for sure, we’ll refrain from nuts for a long while now.

I haven’t been able to take any photos apart from the chocolate cake I had made for Christmas Eve. This was the best chocolate cake ever! I have to remember what I did so I can reproduce the recipe and post it here! (Recipe posted!) It was so moist and light! It was more like a dark chocolate-mocha cake as I put some coffee in it too.

I also managed to get a picture of the cornbread (using this recipe from the PPK) that I made on the Christmas morning (when I was still feeling ok-ish). The few changes I made were that added some turmeric to the batter (as I did not have any canola oil and wanted to have a nice orangey colour) and I sprinkled it with some dried basil and vegan parmesan.

It came out very nice, slightly crispy on the outside and moist inside! We had this with baked beans.

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So, that was it. Hopefully, we should be able to have happier New Year! And, oh, thanks for all your really nice comments; I will catch up on commenting on your blogs soon!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Semi-sweet cookies and updates...

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I made those semi-sweet semolina cookies about 2 days ago. There are still quite a lot left. They are very crunchy and granular, and light on sugar. I sometimes like them light; I feel overstuffed when they are too sugary.


I’ve been having too many nuts these few days with them being on promo at the health store. I bought this big bag of mixed nuts and dried fruits which also had goji berries and dried cranberries! So now my nut allergy is kicking off! I have a terrible sore throat. I am hoping it is just an allergy reaction (which will go in a day or two) and not the beginning of a cold.

And then, second thing I have to say is that BoyfriendLovlie has found a job! It’s a temporary one starting in January but it is still something and we are both very happy. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll remember I was talking about us staying up until late and doing applications. So, now I just need to find a part-time job for myself and everything will be great!

If you want the recipe for the semolina cookies, here it is. (Feel free to add more sugar if you like).

Ingredients (about 3 dozen small cookies)

Cookie dough

¾ cup coarse semolina
¾ cup all-purpose flour
7 leveled tablespoons margarine
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup demerara sugar (or any granular sugar)
1-2 tablespoons soymilk
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon allspice

Chocolate and nuts coating

75 g (or 12 squares) plain cooking chocolate
Handful of nut of your choice, finely chopped

  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Mix semolina, flour, baking powder and allspice together.
  • Add margarine and work between the fingers to obtain the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the sugar. Mix well.
  • Pour in the oil and knead to form a dough.
  • Add soymilk (1 tablespoon at a time) and knead to make the dough easy to roll.
  • Divide into small balls and roll on a board (very lightly floured if required).
  • Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. (Mine was a small one, about 3.5 cm or 1.5 inches in diameter).
  • Place on an ungreased baking tray.
  • Bake for 13 – 16 minutes.
  • Remove and let cool on a rack.
Chocolate and nuts coating:
  • Melt the chocolate by placing it in a saucepan over low heat.
  • When completely melted, remove from heat.
  • Then wheel each cookie into the chocolate to only coat the edges. (You will have to be quick with this so the chocolate doesn’t go hard again).
  • To glue on the nuts, I found it less messy and easier to sprinkle them on with a big bowl underneath to catch the surplus.
  • Place each cookie on a rack at room temperature until the chocolate solidifies.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Ratatouille Christmas Tree Pie

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Ratatouille in a pie! And it was delicious! They tasted very homemade and comforting. The good thing about ratatouille is that you can use any vegetables that are in season and it actually tastes better the next day. So you can make it ahead of time. I actually used what I had on hand, cauliflower, green peppers and I added some chickpeas.

Maybe you’re not going to serve this for Christmas but I think it can make a good brunch, no special occasion needed.

For this braided Christmas Tree Pie, I was inspired by one of the Daring Bakers Challenge where the participants had to do a Danish Braid. I don’t participate in Daring Bakers (yet!), but I remembered being really impressed by some of the participants work and especially Marika’s braid (from Madcap Cupcake). I had bookmark this to try one day.

Instead of puff pastry though, I just used the same pastry dough from the 3am Curry Pies.

Ingredients (5 large pies)
3 cups cauliflower florets (broken or cut into small pieces)
1 small green pepper (capsicum), diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup boiled chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ can tomatoes, finely chopped (or use tomato puree if you prefer)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive oil)
Salt to taste
Soymilk with a pinch of turmeric (optional) for glazing

  • Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a deep fry pan or wok.
  • Add onions and garlic. Stir and let fry for a few minutes.
  • Add cauliflower. Stir and cook until starting to brown lightly but not mushy.
  • Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Stir and mix well.
  • Cook uncovered (adding water occasionally as required) until cauliflower is almost tender (but again not mushy).
  • Sprinkle the dried thyme in.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Lastly stir in the peppers and mix well. Remove immediately from the heat.
  • The heat from the sauce will cook the peppers slightly. (They will cook more while being baked and there’s nothing worse than soggy peppers in a pie!)
  • Allow to cool completely before filling in.
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  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Using the pastry dough from here, divide in 5.
  • Roll each one out on a floured board and brush with some oil.
  • Sprinkle with some dried thyme.
  • Fold in 3 lengthwise and again in 3 across the width to make a square. Roll out again into a square approximately 15 x 15 cm (6 x 6 inches).

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  • Fold 2 opposite sides towards the centre to create a rough mark on the dough.

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    Fold sides back. Make cuts (about 1cm wide) perpendicular to the mark.
  • Cut the bottom like in the picture to form the tree trunk.

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  • Place some filling in the middle on the dough; don’t put too much filling on the stem part.

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  • Begin closing by folding over the strips and alternating from the top.

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  • Fold over the bottom to close and form the trunk. (Press on either side to enclose).

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  • Place on a greased baking tray. Brush with soymilk (I added a pinch of turmeric in the soymilk to obtain a nice golden colour).
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  • Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until pastry is a nice golden colour.
  • Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
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People who have made this:
Becks from I am not a rabbit! - Her trees were so cool!
DJ Karma from VegSpinz who made a variation with puff pastry
Vegan4One - Tourtière Tannenbaums
Foodtravelandwine
Sin salir de mi concina

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Steamed Mugcakes with Blackcurrant Jam

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Mugcakes?! You’ve guessed it, they are made in mugs! And they are steamed, not baked.

I’ve had Chinese steamed cakes before in my childhood days. I remember they would come in white and red. I preferred the white ones at that time. They weren’t my favourite cakes as a child. They were a bit bland and too plain for a child! But I did like them sometimes.

And so they came to my mind. But when I looked for a recipe online, all steamed cakes that I found actually contained eggs. (I thought they would!). So the challenge was to make them steam well and rise without eggs.

They turned out good on the first try and I am well pleased with them! They are much softer and moister than baked cakes and they were actually nicer than the ones I used to buy even when eaten plain.

The reason why I used mugs to steam them is because I did not have anything else! (My new kitchen is still not well equiped yet). Silicone cupcake moulds would have been perfect but then my mugs actually did an awesome job for me!

You can use silicone or metal cupcake moulds if you have them or just use mugs like I did! Make sure your mugs will stand the heat for about 35 minutes without breaking.

If you are using smaller moulds, they might take less time to steam. So, do the toothpick check (well you know, insert the toothpick in the centre and if it comes out dry, it's done!)

For steaming I used a deep pan and arranged a metal rack inside it to hold the cups.

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A bamboo or normal steel steamer can also be used. My pan wasn’t tall enough for the mugs though and I finally had to turn the rack upside down, just so the mugs weren’t directly in contact with the pan, and filled the pan with water. The mugs were slightly within the water. So it was more like a bain-marie but it was fine. The cakes turned out good!

If you don't want fruit cake this Christmas (I don't know about other parts of the world but in the UK and I guess in Ireland too, fruit cake is the traditional dessert for Christmas), you could have a go at these. And if your pan is big enough you could steam more than 2 at a time.


Ingredients (2 mugcakes)

Cake:

Dry mix -
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt

Wet mix -
½ cup (100 ml) soy milk
1½ tablespoon vinegar (I used malt vinegar)
¼ cup (50 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon black currant jam (well whisked to liquefy)

Jam glazing:

2 tablespoons blackcurrant jam (or any of your choice)
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon tapioca starch or potato flour or cornstarch

  • Start heating water in a deep pan with the rack in place.

To make the cake:

  • Mix all dry ingredients together.
  • Add the vinegar to the soy milk and let it thicken. Then add in the vegetable oil and vanilla.
  • Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix well. Do not beat.
  • Mix gently but thoroughly until no dry ingredients are left at the bottom.
  • Add the jam.
  • Fill each mug halfway. (*I just thought of adding this: it's a good idea to grease the mugs with a bit of vegetable oil or vegan margarine)
  • Place both mugs in the pan of boiling water (be careful with the steam).
  • Cover and steam for 35 minutes.
  • When uncovering the pan, lift the cover so the steam is directed away from you and avoid droplets of water from falling back onto the cakes.
  • Test with a skewer until it comes out dry. Remove from the stove and carefully remove the mugs and let cool before turning them out.

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  • Arrange on serving plates.

For the glazing:

  • Place the jam and 1 tablespoon water in a saucepan over low heat. Stir and mix well until a smooth liquid is obtained but do not boil.
  • Mix the tapioca starch with 1 tablespoon water and add this in the saucepan.
  • Continue to stir until the liquid thickens.
  • Remove from heat and pour immediately over cakes.
  • Enjoy warm or cold!

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Monday, 15 December 2008

Mushroom and Broccoli Quiche with Potato Crust

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I wanted something different for dinner today; different from rice and curry or noodles and stir fry. I thought a quiche might be nice. But I did not want to be rolling pastry to make a crust and my freezer is too small to keep any frozen pastry dough, which means I can never store the ready-made ones. So I thought of veganising this potato-based quiche from the Gluten Free Cooking School blog I saw the other day. And it was really nice. My version is not gluten-free but it is easy to just omit the flour I’ve included in the recipe.

This quiche was so quick to make and it could even be cut nicely without falling apart. Everything held together nicely! It was so tasty too and very filling! We had this with some fresh salad on the side. I’ve put the recipe down as four servings although there was just a little bit left after BoyfriendLovlie and I had seconds!

Ingredients (4 servings)

2 potatoes
1 small broccoli (cut into florets), approx. 2 cups
1 onion, chopped
4-5 large mushrooms, sliced
½ cup canned sweet corn (drained)
1 block tofu (or 375 g, get a smooth one)
½ cup soy milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (although I think this can be omitted if you want this to be gluten-free)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

  • Peel and slice the potatoes thinly. Grease a rectangle (or round) dish with some vegetable oil. Arrange the potatoes at the bottom in 2 layers or so. And put in the oven for 15 minutes.

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  • In a wok or deep fry pan, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Toss in the chopped onions, broccoli florets and mushrooms.
  • Stir fry for a few minutes.
  • Add salt to taste and let cook until half done. Set aside.
  • Mash the tofu until very smooth. Then add the soymilk and whisk well to obtain a very smooth consistency. (I haven’t bought a blender yet since moving to Dublin, but you can use a blender if you have one.)
  • Add salt (about 1 teaspoon or to taste), thyme, pepper and flour. Mix or blend well.
  • Spread some of the tofu mixture in between the potatoes (that you would have removed from the oven). This is optional but I found that it helped the potatoes to hold together better. I lifted a layer of the potatoes and spread some of the tofu mixture then placed the potatoes back.
  • Add the rest of the tofu mixture to the vegetables. Add the sweet corn.
  • Pour this mixture into the dish onto the potatoes.
  • Sprinkle with some dried thyme and pepper.

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  • Bake for 40 minutes or until firm. I covered the quiche with some foil halfway through the baking as the top was starting to over-grill.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, 8 December 2008

I finally bought it!

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I haven’t had much time for blogging these days. Hopefully I’ll be more regular soon. (I keep saying that!)

Well, I’ve had a new addition in the virtual kitchen corner of my computer - Hannah’s Mission: Impossible Pies EBook.

I’ve been telling myself that I need to buy this for a while now and I finally bought it! I’ve only tried one of the pies so far and I am well pleased with it. Pumpkin Pie. I did make a few changes to the recipe but too minimal to post here. I also added raisins and some chopped almonds. It was nice with a mug of hot chocolate!

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