Monday, January 2, 2012

vegan holidays

The holidays are pretty much full of dread for us vegans. Besides having to explain to relatives AGAIN why the 'little bit of egg' in the salad does in fact make a difference, just generally being the odd one out in a room where no one respects your position (or wants to understand it) can be pretty soul-destroying.

family xmas lunch
Thankfully this year my family xmas lunch (a week before the 25th) was hosted by my sister who has recently moved back from overseas. Not only did she organise the food so there would be something for me to eat, she also incorporated felafel wraps into the menu (because she knows I love them). It was a really great meal - a shame there was no vegan dessert, but I didn't have time to make four dishes, and heaven forbid anyone else (besides my sis, who did heaps) try to make something vegan.

I made a green bean salad from a recipe I found in a magazine, a summer coleslaw recipe that was at the bottom of this article about Meat Free Mondays from a few weeks ago, and my own baked potatoes recipe that I posted recently. They all turned out really well and I think everybody enjoyed them.

leftover felafel lunch
My sis made some amazing felafels from scratch (which she'll be teaching me how to make soon and is happy for me to share here!) and some beetroot chutney to go with them. We had them in wraps with rocket and olives - they were absolutely delicious. 

Not only that, but she gave me some to take home so I got to enjoy them the next day at work for lunch! In fact, I ate them every meal for two days - and didn't get sick of them - that's how good they are.

I hosted a small New Years Eve soiree at my apartment this year. I have a good friend who's recently had shoulder surgery so wasn't up for a big night, and another friend from Korea staying at my place, so I decided to have a small night at home of nibblies and drinks. My bestie and I have an ongoing joke about pickled veggies on toothpics, so I went a bit retro on the nibbles. I also made some polenta squares and topped them with mushrooms and ratatouille.

polenta squares
It was a great evening, totally vegan, and we could see the city fireworks from the balcony.

Overall, these holidays haven't been too painful. I've had some great food and enjoyed preparing and sharing some vegan recipes.

Something I hope to continue doing in 2012! Happy Vegan New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

bundles of basil - pesto that is

I live in an apartment with a balcony so I can't grow the world of veggies I want to - but I have managed to grow some herbs (parsley, mint, coriander, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme and vietnamese mint). 

I've also got some tomato plants, a couple of cucumber plants and a dwarf lemon-tree ... and no, I don't have room to sit on the balcony!

Anyway, the last few weeks the basil has just gone CRAZY! It's growing faster than I can think of ways to cook it, so I decided to make a few batches of pesto for holiday gifts. 

There was so much I had to fill the sink to wash it. Needless to say, I got a few batches outta this lot!

I made two variations, one with a crap-load of basil, a few sprigs of parsley, cashews, a few pine-nuts, olive oil and some Parmazzano (vegan parmesan substitute). The other was the same but instead of the cashews I had some blanched almonds so added them instead. (I thought later that I should have roasted them first, but it was super hot today and I didn't want to turn the oven on!)

They turned out great, I just made a delicious bruschetta by slathering the pesto on some toasted whole-wheat sourdough and topping it with tomato and cracked salt and pepper.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

unbeatable roast potatoes

I make the BEST roast potatoes. Hands down. And here's how to make 'em. First of all, use small potatoes, I use organic baby chats. Put them in a pot of salted tap water and bring it to the boil. Boil them until they're almost cooked through, then put them on a tray and press down on them til they break open. Drizzle good olive oil over them and sprinkle fresh rosemary and rock salt (be generous). Roast in a hot oven for about 20 minutes - making sure they're cooked through and have that delicious brown crunchy crust. They're so moreish and are the highlight of a dinner party.  

radish summer salad

Today at my work there was a bag of radishes in the kitchen with a sign saying "PICKED FRESH THIS MORNING - PLEASE TAKE".

Well how could I resist? Here's a yummy salad I whipped up with them.

In the salad; radishes, red kale, carrot, beetroot, lentils

In the dressing; mustard seed, crushed garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice

Was so good - yay for work colleagues with abundant veggie patches!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

chocolate ... aaaaaaaaah

My bestie Cara and her partner came round for dinner last night - and brought dessert. Oh what a dessert! I just polished off the last bit of it and thought I'd better share the love.

First of all, she found a vegan cake mix from 'Naturally Good'. It's called Deliciously Free Moist Chocolate Mud Cake Mix and is nut free, wheat free, gluten free and dairy free. It has a vegan option in the instructions where you can replace the 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon of golden syrup and 2 tablespoons of rice flour. If that's not brilliant enough, Cara in her wisdom, felt it necessary to add a handful of Sweet William choc chips to the mix too! Delish. 

Instead of icing she used a smear of Sweet William Chocolate Sauce and some fresh strawberries to top it all off. These things were AMAZING. She said they were like a self-saucing pudding straight out of the oven, and when they got to my place they had hardened up on the outside and turned into yummy brownies on the inside! Even today, after being in the fridge all night, the leftovers were fantastic.

Cupcakes are a good idea with this mix as it's super rich! I'm not usually a sweet tooth but I was dreaming of these things last night.

Thanks Cara xx

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

world vegan day cake

Happy World Vegan Day! I thought I'd share an amazing banana cake recipe in celebration. 

This is a variation on a friend's traditional family recipe. I've tweaked it a little and used that fabulous of fabtastics 'no egg' natural egg replacer (pictured). I found it at my local Coles, in the the health food section. It's in most health food shops so shouldn't be hard to find. You just mix 1 teaspoon of 'no egg' with 2 tablespoons of water for each egg in a recipe.

Okay, so let's get to the recipe! Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celsius (a bit lower for fan-forced).

Here's what you need;
1 cup of sugar
125 grams of vegan margarine
3 mashed bananas
2 'no eggs'
2 tablespoons soy milk

Dry ingredients;
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

For frosting;
1/4 cup tofutti better than cream cheese
1/4 cup vegan margarine
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Squeeze of lemon

Here's what you do;

1) Cream sugar and margarine together. Separately mash the bananas and add the soy milk and 'no egg' mix. Combine this with the sugar and margarine.

2) Sift the dry ingredients into the mix and beat with electric beater for a few minutes.

3) Rub margarine in to cake tin and then line with baking paper. Put the mix into the tin and put in the oven for around 50 minutes to an hour. When it's done, take it out and let it cool completely.

4) Mix your frosting ingredients together and put the mix in the fridge while the cake's cooling so it hardens up a bit.

5) Slather the frosting over the cake and EAT!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

good advice salad

My friend Jane Willcox, along with her friend Rosemary Cadden, have made this excellent little book, Making a Meal of It. No, it's not a vegetarian cook book, in fact, it's not altogether a cook book at all. It's a handy how-to guide with hints and tips about using up perishables in the kitchen - from fruit and veg to herbs, meat and eggs. 

Even though there are lots of meat/dairy recipes, it's actually really good for vegos. After all, who has more wilting greens and fermenting fruit in their kitchen? Any way, I've been poring over it for the last few days and it inspired a gorgeous salad I made tonight, so I thought I'd share it with you.

To begin with, these were the things I desperately needed to use; a sad looking cucumber, half a bunch of parsley, a half a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil and some just-about-to-sprout garlic.

In the parsley section of the book there's a great little pasta sauce mix. I varied it a little, putting the garlic, sundried tomatoes, parsley and a little oil in a blender. I then added some olives, a tablespoon of the vinegar from the olive jar and a dash of lemon juice. This turned out really lovely, but it made heaps, and I didn't really feel like pasta tonight - also, what about that cucumber? So I split the mix into two, added a bit more oil to one half and put it in the fridge to make pasta with tomorrow.

So, I heeded the book's good advice and used up some other stuff I had lying around the kitchen. I mixed the pasta/pesto whatever-it-is with a tin of canellini beans. I then added the chopped cucumber and a rogue tomato from the bottom of the fridge. I put in some tinned corn for good measure, and finally added some capers - which gave the whole thing that little kick of awesome.

It truly turned out amazing. I now have a refreshing, summery salad in the fridge, ready for me to take to work tomorrow. I'll probably put a few slices of avocado on top, seeing as that's the last thing in my kitchen that needs to be used up before I go to the market on the weekend!

Thanks Jane :)
Check out the book - there's a preview of it here, or you can buy it online through Wakefield Press here.