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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Ethical Ocean’s Vegan Recipe Contest

I’ve entered my Pear Coconut Custard Creme into Ethical Ocean’s Vegan Recipe Contest! You can vote for me, as often as you like everyday. Voting entitles you to many fabulous prizes to be won daily. So, please do vote for your chance of winning.

View the recipe and vote here.



Tuesday, 24 July 2012

King Soba Noodles



For the food-shopaholic that I am, these black rice noodles didn't go unnoticed though on the bottom shelf. Indeed any unusual ingredient would magnetise my attention (as Boyfriendlovlie would put it!); I'd just grab, read the label for any non-vegan culprits, and simultaneously grinning mentally at the thought of the creations I could be making with this. If I happen to see a vegan logo on the package, it's tossed in the basket, no second thoughts whatsoever!

Well this was the fate of these King Soba Black Rice Noodles along with the Brown Rice and Wakame variety. I just couldn't not taste those!



Noodles, the rice ones are my favourite type. I love them in miso soup with veggies. Crunchy and juicy, that's how I like my veggies with my noodles!

These noodles taste really nice on their own. So, not much flavour is required for the rest. I only tossed some vegetables in a pan with a bit of teriyaki sauce, pan fried some tofu, topped the boiled noodles with them and voilĂ ! I like my noodles in miso soup, so I also had some miso to go with them.

I found these noodles in my local Spar in Dublin, Ireland. I've also seen them in some health shops. Do give them a try if you come across them. They are also gluten-free! There are a few more varieties in the same brand that I have yet to try.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sweet Potato Bread - A Recipe Video



Ever since I've made this bread for a previous Daring Baker's Challenge, it has become a regular at the Lovlie Cocoon! It is THE only way Boyfriendlovlie actually ENJOYS eating sweet potatoes. I try to sneak a few pieces of roasted sweet potatoes on his plate from time to time but there is just something about their sweetness which he thinks doesn't go with other savoury food. I enjoy eating sweet potato in various dishes from salads to desserts. But this bread is surely my favourite of them all!

Bread-making is something I never really gave much time into before until I started feeling the grubbiness of store bought ones. Those breads don't get any moulds for over a month! What do they put in them, I wonder!

The recipe in the video is more or less the same I used for the Daring Baker's Challenge with a slight variation - I omitted the rice milk and just used water.
Also, in the video I am using quick yeast which does not require proofing. If you are using active dry yeast, do proof it first by dissolving it in 100ml warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes until frothy. (Then this is the water you are adding into the recipe).



Easy Sweet Potato Bread
Ingredients (1 bread loaf - 12 slices)

2 1/2 cups (275g) strong white flour
2 medium sweet potato (350g)
1 sachet / teaspoon (7g) quick yeast
80 - 100ml warm water (depending on moisture content of sweet potatoes)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melt first, if hardened, then take 2 tablespoons of the liquid oil. Vegetable oil should also be fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Place sweet potatoes with the skin on a deep pan. Fill with water until 3/4 the level of the sweet potatoes. Boil for 15 -20 minutes or until soft. Prick with a fork to test.
  • Peel and discard the skin. Mash the sweet potato to a fine puree. Use while still warm; it actually helps the dough to rise.
  • Add yeast, salt and sugar to flour. Mix well.
  • Add sweet potato to the flour. Mix and knead to combine.
  • Add the warm water. Mix and knead.
  • Add coconut oil and knead. The dough should come together better by now and should be less sticky.
  • Then, transfer onto a floured board and knead for 8 - 10 minutes. You may want to add a little more flour if too sticky or 1 - 2 tablespoons more water if too dry. (This also depends on the moisture content of the sweet potatoes.)
  • Oil a large bowl and place in the dough. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 and a half hours in a warm place.
  • The dough should double in size.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Take one part and roll into a log. How long or thick you roll it will depend on the size or length of bread you want. Repeat with the other 2 pieces.
  • Join the 3 pieces at the top and start braiding. Press to secure them at the end, then reshape to nice rounded smooth ends.
  • Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (rotate bread 180 degrees on itself halfway through for even baking).
    When bread is baked through, it will make a hollow sound when tapped on the top, otherwise it will sound a little 'compact'.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before slicing.

Nutrition facts based on 1 slice of this bread, one bread loaf yielding 12 slices.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (66.2 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
143
Calories from Fat
23
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
2.6g
4%
Saturated Fat
2.0g
10%
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
108mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates
26.4g
9%
Dietary Fiber
1.7g
7%
Sugars
2.4g
Protein
3.3g
Vitamin A 115% Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 2% Iron 8%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Smoothie with Basil Seeds (Tukmaria)



Chia seeds, now classified among the top superfoods, is widely used in a lot of recipes from smoothies to desserts and even in cakes as a binding agent. But this post is not about the already famous chia! So no, I didn't get the title wrong! It's about a similar seed which are basil seeds. The latter look very much like chia seeds and also swells in water to form a gelatinous coating.



Basil seeds are more popular in the Mediterranean and Asia where they are mostly used in juices and desserts. They are popular in Mauritius too, where I grew up.
Well, unlike chia, basil seeds haven't yet made the hit among the 'super duper' foods. I kind of chuckle at these food classifications anyway. The thing is these superfoods are actually normal food consumed by some communities around the world as part of their usual diet until some company decides to make them the next big thing and start praising about their amazing benefits to make a business out of it... Well, then prices go up...

Chia does have its benefits, I'm not denying that but I am more so referring on the overpricing of superfoods in general...

Back to the basil seeds then, I've been used to having basil seeds (also known as tukmaria) in flavoured milk since I was a kid, what we call 'Alouda' in Mauritius (Falooda in other parts of the world). I have a recipe of it on this blog here (scroll down this post).
Despite this seed being a regular part of my diet I have never really researched on its benefits or side effects. Apparently there are no reported side effects from consuming basil seeds (unless if you might be allergic to them...). As for their benefits, according to this website, they aid in digestion, can treat cold, cure respiratory diseases, can relieve stress and are good for treatment of skin infection.

Well, in any case, I remember basil seeds to be a very fun thing to eat or drink as a kid. Their jelly coating would make them slip around the teeth and I would make it a challenge to bit through the tiny seeds! While I still do enjoy these seeds in flavoured milk (now non-dairy), I now also include them in my smoothies. They add some protein, since I'm allergic to nuts and various seeds. The basil seeds don't seem to give me any trouble.
And basil seeds are cheap! So just grab some and try them out. I get them at the local Asian store.

Here's a refreshing Cucumber Peach Smoothie with Basil Seeds:

Ingredients (serves one)
1/2 cup green cucumber, cut into small pieces (peel if not organic)
1 sweet ripe peach (peeled)
1 - 2 dates, pitted (or 1 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup)
2 - 3 mint leaves
Enough coconut milk to dilute (I use the carton coconut milk that is suitable for tea, not the canned ones. Other non-dairy like oat or almond milk is also fine)

1 teaspoon dry basil seeds

  • Cover the basil seeds with about 4 - 5 tablespoons water and allow them to soak.
  • Stir them a bit, then you can discard any seeds or dirt that remains floating at the top.
    The seeds will soak up the water and swell with a jelly coating around them.
  • Blend all other ingredients together, except the basil seeds, until smooth.
  • Stir in the basil seeds (do not blend, leave them whole).
    The smoothie is ready to be served.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

How-to: Homemade Tempeh



For all that is being said about soy and its negative counter parts, this grain still remains widely used and does find its way into numerous foodstuffs, mainly processed ones. While most soy nowadays is GMO (Genetically Modified), in Europe luckily we do have some organic non-GMO grains available. That said, for my part, I still do try to limit consumption of soy to once or twice a week. I consume soy mostly in the form of tofu, miso and tempeh. The latter two being the most popular. Of soymilk, I have brought consumption of it to a complete halt, oatmilk being now my major non-dairy substitute.

The idea of homemade tempeh came from one of our discussions in the Vegan Temptivists group on Facebook and was suggested by Susmitha from Veganosaurus. Feel free to join us in this group by the way (but please do read the group requirements first). Until now, I’ve only been buying tempeh at the health store. Some research on homemade tempeh however, inspired me further into attempting this at home.

Tempeh is a fermentation process of cooked soybeans with Rhizops moulds (the tempeh starter). This fermentation binds the soybeans into a compact white cake. A search on where to get a supplier for the tempeh starter brought me to a few sites of which I found this one to be the most convenient for me. They infact also supply a free sample (with 2,00 EUR administration and shipping fee) to get you started. So, I ordered the free sample to try it off. Since this was my first time making tempeh at home I literally followed the recipe they supply on their website.

Their recipe is as follows:

Ingredients
600g whole dry soybeans (I used only 500g however)
5 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon (about 5g) tempeh starter

Soaking and Dehulling
The recipe says to crack the beans first but since I don't have a grain mill, I just omitted this step and proceeded straight onto soaking the grains for 12 hours. I then dehulled them by hand, rubbing the beans together and sometimes individually pressing the hulls off the grains. I must say, this was quite a lengthy process and did requite a bit of patience when done by hand.

Cooking the Beans
After dehulling, I proceeded to boiling the beans. The recipe suggests half an hour but I boiled them for twice as long since the beans were nowhere soft after just 30 minutes. Even after an hour, they could still do with a bit more boiling. I didn't boil any further because I thought the fermentation process might soften the beans but it didn't. So, if you are attempting this, make sure the beans are boiled to the softness you would usually consume them.

So, as per the recipe, put the beans in a cooking pot and add enough water to cover them. Add the vinegar and cook for 30 min (or until soft but not mushy). Drain off the water and dry the soybeans by continue heating them in the pot on medium heat for a few minutes and until the beans are dry. Allow the soybeans to cool down to below 35°Celsius.



Mixing with the Tempeh Starter
Sprinkle the soybeans with 1 teaspoon of tempeh starter. Mix well and evenly with a clean spoon for about 1 minute. It's very important to mix the tempeh starter very well: it reduces the risk of spoilage and the fermetation will be faster.

Incubating the Beans
The beans are incubated in plastic bags and it is important to perforate them so that the mould can breathe. I used 3 plastic bags about 21 X 25 cm and perforated them with a metal skewer ( a normal pin / needle is too thin, you can also use a clean nail).

Portion out the soybeans in the three bags and seal them (I used cellotape).



Press them flat, making sure that the total thickness of the beans is max 3 cm (about 1-inch).



I sandwiched the bags between two wooden boards and placed the packed beans in a warm place (I left them close to the radiator. You can also use an incubator at 30°C if you have one) for about 36 - 48 hours during which the tempeh fermentation takes place.



Then the container should be filled completely with white mycelium and the entire contents can be lifted as a whole piece. Mine took 36 hours to be completely fermented.



Storing the Tempeh
I froze two of the bags for later use. Tempeh will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Cooking the Tempeh
After fermentation, I decided to cook one portion straightaway. I sliced the tempeh cake.



The result was very pleasing but as I said before, the beans still remained a touch too hard. So, I decided to steam the tempeh first.





After steaming, I pan fried with only a drizzle of vegetable oil.

I made an easy cranberry soy sauce as follows:

1 tablespoon cranberry preserve / jam / sauce
1 tablespoon shoyu soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon mirin (or rice vinegar), adjust to taste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Dash paprika or cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and bring to a gentle heat in a pan.

Arrange fried tempeh on a bed of steamed vegetables and salad. Drizzle with the cranberry soy sauce to serve.

If you are looking for other tasty ways to use tempeh in recipes, check out The Tempeh Cookbook.



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