Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan MoFo - Day 30 - Vegan MoFo Wrap up

As much as I love Vegan MoFo, I'm quite relieved it's the final day! Given I haven't been finding as much time for blogging this year, it's been a struggle to keep up with the pace and it really wasn't a wise idea to make a personal commitment to posting daily. Amongst the chaos, it has been yet another enjoyable MoFo following fun themes, connecting with new bloggers and drooling over many wonderful food posts.

I've always followed a theme during Vegan MoFo although this was my first time writing daily theme based posts rather than a single month focussed theme. The best part about these posts was managing to accomplish a few personal goals via some of these daily themes - learning to appreciate tempeh in new ways, clearing out old ingredients from the pantry, cooking bookmarked recipes from past and present Vegan MoFo, baking new sweets and continuing my virtual around the world travels.

Once again my bookmarked recipes have grown considerably and rather than post the full list I've accumulated, here is a condensed version of some of the recipes I'm keen on trying.

Spreads and snacks

Fermented garlic cashew cheese - Veganosaurus
Broad bean pate - Self Sufficient Cafe
Tofu nuggets from a Vegan Dollar Menu - KZ Cakes 
Chickpea nuggets - Vegans Eat Yummy Food Too

Soups, salads and wraps

Mulligatawny soup - Flicking the Vs
Corn chowder with edamame and tofu bacon - Green Gourmet Giraffe
Chipotle tofu tortilla salad -  The Cookbook Aficionado
Injera wraps stuffed with Kik Alicha - A vegan obsession
Spanish rice, buffalo tempeh, kale, bell pepper wraps - Vegan Richa

Main meals

Stewed okra and tempeh - Laughfrodisiac
Chiles en Nogada - Eating Appalachia
Baked eggplant rollantini - Veg-am
Creamy mushroom and eggplant studel - Luminous Vegans

Sweet things

Apple pie pancakes - Cupcake Kitteh
Chocolate chip double doozies - Cadry's Kitchen
Croissants - Culinary Interpretations

I had intended to write more summary posts throughout the month but ended up needing a breather every so often. In these summaries I was planning on sharing some videos of our clever little pup Ollie for all the dog lovers out there. The below video is my favourite which was taken earlier this year whilst on holidays in Perth. The house we rented came with the added bonus of a pool which Ollie enjoyed swimming in every single day. He even learnt how to boogie board...

Thanks everyone for reading along, posting a comment, linking back to a post or bookmarking a recipe throughout the month. Hope you enjoyed the Vegan MoFo too, I'm heading off to catch up on the last of the posts now!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 27 - Free Fridays - Faking it hot dogs

Last week's Free Friday was a big fat F for a failure to post. I had so many posts planned for Free Fridays although I just didn't have the energy to write one up last week. Fried Friday and Foraging Friday were some of the other ideas I had in store for Fridays but as this is my final Friday post for Vegan MoFo I've chosen to write about Faking it Friday.

Hot dogs always used to be a favourite with my fellows yet I was never the biggest fan due to the mysterious nature of the ingredients involved in the meaty varieties. The boys survived without them for many years until Redwood's hot dog style sausages became available and ever since they have become one of our preferred fast food meals to make at home occasionally. I contemplated making my own a while ago and looked up a few recipes for making hot dogs from seitan although I never got around to trying it out. When Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe posted some MoFo Quicklinks a few weeks ago I was interested that she had included a link for a hot dog recipe on Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan.

I was intrigued about where this adapted recipe had stemmed from and after clicking back on a few links I arrived at the original hot dog recipe on Thrifty Living which was one of the hot dog recipes I had bookmarked many years ago. The version I made was fairly close to the recipe on Thrify Living with some tweaks from other bloggers adaptations and a twist of my own thrown in. My only disappointment was with the sizes of the hot dogs as they didn't quite fill up our rolls, the flavour and texture was very impressive which made up for the sizing issue. I'll post a recipe with my adaptation next time I make them as there is one more minor ingredient tweak I would like to try as well as getting the sizes right.

We enjoyed these hot dogs with vegusto piquant cheese, fried onions, ketchup and american mustard on one occasion and another time they were served up as chilli dogs with a lentil and vegetable chilli base. cheesy sauce, ketchup and american mustard.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 26 - Tidy-up Thursdays - TVP for Caribbean patties and "bacon" bits

TVP has been cluttering my pantry for years and although it may not be the strangest pantry ingredient for a vegan to hoard I've included it in Tidy-up Thursdays as I rarely cook with it these days. By the time I came to the decision that TVP wasn't the most exciting ingredient, I had accumulated a few bags of the stuff which I've slowly been working my way through. The final remaining bag of TVP has a best before of December 2012 which doesn't deter me from using it as I don't believe this stuff can go off anyway. 

A handful of TVP recipes were spotted in my exciting new cookbook Caribbean Vegan and following the success of the first meal sampled from the book, I was very keen to give another recipe a try. I picked out some patties (filled pastries) filled with a spicy TVP mince and used frozen puff pastry sheets rather than the home made pastry in the book to shorten the preparation time. The filling was flavoured with a jerk seasoning, onions, garlic, green capsicum, curry powder, Vegemite (yay for an Aussie ingredient) and habanero chillies. I sampled the filling prior to constructing these patties and it almost blew my head off! I'm not shy about spicy food but this was right up there amongst the hottest meals I've made. We still loved the patties even those our noses were running madly but I'll be a lot more cautious when using habaneros in the future.

Another TVP based recipe which has been on my mind to try for ages is TVP "bacon" bits. I spotted this recipe in Vegan Diner where it is credited to Joni Newman, the recipe is also posted on her blog . The TVP granules are rehydrated with liquid smoke, water, salt and optional food colouring (I used beetroot powder) before being pan fried on a low heat until they are totally dried out. The "bacon" bits are very smoky and not quite salty enough for me so I would probably increase the salt next time and possibly add a touch of sweetener as well. I haven't used the "bacon" bits in a recipe yet but have plans for them in the next couple of days.

That's it for Tidy-up Thursdays! I'm not sure that my overflowing pantry has benefited much from these four posts but it was a fun exercise to find new recipes for a handful of neglected ingredients.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 25 - Worldly Wednesdays - Stopover 32 - Solomon Islands - Sweet potato and parsnip fritters

Sourcing recipes for around the world cooking has proven to be tricky for some countries, the Solomon Islands was one of the more challenging ones. The food from the Solomon Islands has been influenced by the trade of exotic fruit, vegetables and spices from Asia and India as well as it's colonisation by the British. Coconuts, cassava, sweet potato, breadfruit, bananas and taro account for a large portion of the fresh produce intake on the Solomon Islands.

The first recipe I found that was linked to the Solomon Islands was called Kara which is a portion of corned beef smothered in coconut cream surrounded by an outer layer of grated cassava. It is typically wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed. I was keen to give this a try especially as I already had corned beef seitan sitting in the fridge, the only problem was that couldn't find cassava so I continued searching for other recipes.

Finding a recipe that used accessible ingredients proved to be difficult so I was relieved to finally discover a recipe for sweet potato and parsnip fritters linked to the Solomon Islands. The recipe was almost vegan as it only required one egg to be substituted and it was gluten free as it used rice flour. It was a simple recipe to make although the mixture didn't hold together well when I cooked the first batch of fritters so I added additional rice flour and the next couple of batches turned out much better. The ground cumin, cayenne pepper and curry leaves in the batter gave the fritters a nice amount of heat which were lovely paired with some mango chutney, rice and steamed asparagus.  

Sweet potato and parsnip fritters (Adapted from Veria Living)

250g sweet potato, peeled and grated
250g parsnip, peeled and grated
25 - 30 curry leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup ice cold water
oil, for shallow frying

Place the grated sweet potato and parsnip in a large bowl and add the curry leaves, rice flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and sea salt. Pour in the flaxseed mixture and water and stir well until the ingredients are combined thoroughly.

Heat some oil over medium-high in a deep sided frying pan. Drop small portions of the fritter mixture into the oil and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula, ensuring they have some room to spread out. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown then drain on paper towels. Place the cooked fritters in a warm oven while you are cooking the rest of the batch.


Did you know?

Plum Pudding Island in the Solomon Islands was renamed to Kennedy Island after Lt John F Kennedy, the former US President. During World War II the patrol torpedo boat John F Kennedy and his crew were aboard was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. Two soldiers died in the incident and JFK aided the remaining crew members to this island.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 24 - Tempeh Tuesdays - Tempeh bacon for risotto

As I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about the latest recipes I cooked for MoFo Mondays another day of posting was skipped and now it's time for my last Tempeh Tuesdays post. Tempeh bacon was one of the first tempeh recipes I made years ago, I'm not sure which recipe I used but don't recall the tempeh being pre-steamed and have a clear memory of almost destroying a good frying pan in the process! My first impression of tempeh bacon wasn't a good one and as tofu bacon was already a household favourite I've stuck with it for many years. This felt like the perfect time to revisit tempeh bacon as my other three experiments for Tempeh Tuesdays were successes so I wasn't going to be upset if the last one ended badly.

The same marinade that I use for tofu bacon (which was adapted from a recipe on veggieboards) was whisked up to use in the tempeh bacon although I didn't bother adding water as I wanted the flavours in this marinade to be stronger. I fried the slices in my non-stick grill pan that I use for cooking tofu bacon to give the tempeh slices some nice grill marks.

I've been buying so much asparagus recently as I get terribly excited when it comes into season. When I was trying to think of something more interesting than a BLT (or TLT) sandwich as a partner for tempeh bacon I remembered an asparagus risotto that was a favourite a few years ago and thought that it would be lovely with additional smoky facon flavours. I'm so glad I gave tempeh bacon another try as I really enjoyed it this time and it complimented the risotto perfectly.

Although I still haven't progressed to cooking big chunks of tempeh, this series of posts has definitely achieved it's goal. I've grown a lot more comfortable with cooking tempeh, discovered some new recipes I'll definitely make again and won't be intimidated by tempeh recipes any more!

Tempeh Bacon (Marinade adapted from a recipe on veggieboards)

300g tempeh, thinly sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
oil, for frying

Slice tempeh into thin strips then steam the tempeh slices for 15 minutes. Whisk the soy sauce, maple syrup, ketchup and liquid smoke together in a dish. Place the steamed tempeh slices in the marinade ensuring they are coated evenly and allow to rest for a minimum of 2 hours.

Heat a frying pan or grill pan over medium heat, add some oil and fry the tempeh slices for a couple of minutes on each side, until slightly crispy and lightly browned.

Asparagus risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, fined diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (325 grams) arborio rice
6 cups vegan chicken stock
2 bunches of asparagus (400 grams), woody ends removed and cut into 2-3cm lengths
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup MimicCreme, cashew cream or tofutti cream cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
tempeh bacon slices

Heat the olive oil in a deep sided pan over medium-high heat and fry the onions for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute then stir through the rice ensuring that the grains are coated evenly with the oil, onions and garlic. Add a few ladles of stock and stir until the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding a few ladles of stock every time the stock has been absorbed, stirring often, until the rice is almost tender. This should take 15-20 minutes on medium-high heat.

When the rice is almost tender, stir through the asparagus along with some more stock. Continue stirring until the stock has been absorbed then add the nutritional yeast, optional cream and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve topped with tempeh bacon slices.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 21 - Sweet Saturdays - Apple-Blueberry Grunts

I'm not sure how everyone else is faring at this stage of the month but honestly Vegan MoFo is starting to wear me down. My intention was to post daily throughout Vegan MoFo, yesterday was the second time in less than a week that I've missed a post. Rather than throwing in the towel I'm aiming to get through the rest of the month with as many posts as I can manage. I'm going to give myself a breather tomorrow and skip Summary Sundays and the following Sunday I'll be posting a round-up of bookmarks from the month.

This week for Sweet Saturdays I actually baked something to please myself which meant it involved fruit and wasn't overly sweet. The main apple eater in our house has always been the young man - the time he spends at home has decreased recently due to a lady friend in his life which resulted in our fruit bowl overflowing with apples. There were a few different recipes I could have used them up in but I turned to Blueberry Grunts in Vegan Yum Yum last night as I've wanted to try it for years and it seemed like an easy recipe to make.

I modified this recipe a bit, obviously I included apples in my version. The sugar that was added to the apples and berries was decreased by a substantial amount and a small amount of sugar and cinnamon was added to the biscuit topping. As the baked apples and berries turned out to be a little too runny, I added a touch of a cornflour paste to thicken them up slightly. The only thing I would do different next time around is to use a slightly larger baking dish, the one I chose was a square 20cm dish and the quantity of biscuit topping was too much for this so I've indicated to use a 24cm dish in the recipe below. Alternatively this could be baked in individual ramekins.  

This dessert was not quite sweet enough for the man but it was perfect for me so if you have a sweet tooth you may wish to increase the amount of sugar. My preference was to enjoy this on it's own although it could also be served with some nut-based cream or a scoop of non-dairy ice-cream.

Apple-Blueberry Grunts (Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum)

Apple-Blueberry base
5 red apples, approx 500g (I used a mixture of pink lady, fuji and royal gala apples)
250g frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with enough water to make a thick paste)

Biscuit topping
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raw sugar
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1 cup soy (or other non-dairy) milk

Preheat oven to 200C.

Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores, then cut into thin slices. Place the apples, half of the blueberries, water, sugar and cinnamon into a saucepan. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the apples have softened, stirring occasionally. Stir through the remaining blueberries and cornflour paste, allow to cook for a few more minutes, then turn off the heat. Transfer the berry mixture to a 24cm baking dish or spoon into ramekins.

Place the flour, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large mixing bowl then add the dairy-free margarine. Use a fork to cut the fat through the flour then pour in the soy milk and continue mixing until a rough shaggy dough forms. Tear off small portions of the dough with your hands and arrange them on top of the apples and berries.  

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the biscuit topping is slightly browned.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 19 - Tidy-up Thursdays - Mung beans for Hummus

In the past two weeks Tidy-up Thursdays has involved an obscure flour and some old tinned produce which had past it's prime. This week it was time to play with a legume so I selected the most neglected one in my pantry - mung beans. At the moment my pantry is home to 14 different varieties of dried lentils and beans - black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, brown lentils, black lentils (urad dal), yellow split peas, red lentils, chickpeas, puy lentils, cannellini beans, soy beans, black eyed beans, Egyptian broad beans and mung beans. That's a lot of legumes! Most of them are used fairly regularly but I haven't been game to use mung beans since my fellows took a dislike to everything I made with them.

To be fair I didn't experiment with them broadly enough and only tried them in a handful of Indian curries. Curries are generally hits rather than misses so it was a bit disheartening that I was the only person enjoying these cute little green legumes. The mung beans were relegated out of sight next to the black eyed beans which are my least favourite. A recipe for Mung bean hummus posted on 101 Cookbooks caught my eye a few months back - there are heaps of different hummus recipes around using so many types of legumes but this was the first one I had seen using mung beans.

Mung beans are a lot easier to prepare than chickpeas as they don't require to be pre-soaked and only take around 30 minutes of cooking to soften so this hummus was pretty easy to whip up from scratch. Heidi's version didn't include cumin but I added some to mine and only used around half the amount of tahini as I was almost out of it. I also made a slightly larger quantity as I had cooked up a very big batch of mung beans. 

My fellows were none the wiser when I presented them with this hummus. They could tell that it was different to my standard chickpea hummus yet they had no idea what the secret ingredient was. It did have a slightly earthy flavour although it didn't taste anything like the mung beans we had eaten in the past. The hummus was spread on homemade pita bread along with falafels from Oasis Bakery that had been sitting in the freezer for a while to make falafel wraps. The remainder of the hummus disappeared rapidly mopped up with more pita bread and some baby carrots that had been pulled up from the garden. As this was so successful and I still have lots of cooked mung beans in the fridge I'll be whipping up another batch in the next day or two. Veganosaurus wrote a helpful post about sprouting mung beans a couple of weeks ago which is something I would like to try in the future too.

Mung Bean Hummus (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

2 cups cooked mung beans
1/4 - 1/2 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (or more) water
olive oil, sliced spring onions and smoked paprika, for garnish

Place the cooked mung beans in a food processor and process on high speed until the beans have broken down into a coarse mixture. Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, garlic clove and 1/4 cup of water into the food processor bowl and continue processing. Add 1/4 cup of water (or more) slowly while the food processor is running until the hummus reaches the consistency you are happy with.

Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with olive oil, spring onions and smoked paprika.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 18 - Worldly Wednesdays - Stopover 31 - Bardados Tofish and cou-cou

My next stopover was in Barbados which was another exciting prospect as the small amount of recipes I've made so far from the Caribbean islands have all been wonderful. The food of Barbados has influences from West African, Indian and British cuisines and their national dish is called flying fish and cou-cou. I wanted to attempt this meal more than anything even though it sounded tricky to pull off. Whilst hunting around for inspiration about how to achieve this I discovered that there was already a published recipe called Tofish and cou-cou in Caribbean Vegan by Taymer Mason. Thankfully I had drawn the four countries that would be appearing during Vegan MoFo prior to the start of September as this gave me enough time to order Taymer's cookbook online.

When the book arrived I flicked straight to the recipe I was interested in and decided that this would be a weekend project as there were several elements involved in making the dish. A couple of Bajan sauces that are integral parts in many of the Caribbean Vegan recipes needed to be prepared first. The rest of the components were a marinade for the tofish, a creole tomato sauce, a sauce to pour over the frying tofu as well as the polenta and okra dish called cou-cou. As I approached the meal in stages it didn't end up being as much work as I envisaged although I'm still glad that I didn't attempt this on a weeknight.

There were a large array of herbs and spices throughout the different elements in this dish but most of these were pantry friendly. Fresh parsley, thyme and basil provided the sauces with flavour along with plenty of onions, garlic, madras curry powder, paprika, ground cloves and black pepper. The only ingredient I had to track down was habanero chillies which are an integral part of Caribbean cooking and one of the hottest varieties in the world. I was able to purchase dried packets of habaneros at USA Foods

We have never been fans of polenta so the cou-cou gave me the most angst as I wasn't sure if we would enjoy it and I also wasn't confident about being able to cook it properly. This turned out a lot nicer than any polenta dish I recall and combined with creole sauce it really was quite delicious. This meal was definitely worth the effort and the leftovers were gobbled up enthusiastically the next day. Although I've only had a quick glance through the cookbook there are plenty of recipes in Caribbean Vegan I'm looking forward to making after Vegan MoFo ends.

Did you know?

The Barbabos cherry contains the highest content of Vitamin C of all the fruits in the world. Eating one cherry a day will give you the full daily requirement of Vitamin C.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 17 - Tempeh Tuesdays - Thai larb salad

Making a Thai larb salad has been on my wish list ever since I sampled an unforgettable version at the Thai Vegan stall in the Fremantle markets during my travels earlier this year. It hasn't been the type of weather for salads since then, so when we had a short burst of warm weather a couple of weeks ago it was good enough reason to give this meal a try. Tofu had been my initial choice of protein when I first thought about making this meal but after all the success I've been having with tempeh recently I figured it could also work well with the strong flavours in this salad.

I looked at many recipes online as I wasn't impressed that the recipe in my copy of Thai Food by David Thompson omitted lemongrass. I distinctly recalled this flavour from the salad at Thai Vegan as well as in other larb salads I had eaten in Thailand years ago. Every recipe I looked up seemed to have one thing or another missing and in the end I wrote out the ingredients I believed should be components and followed my gut instinct.

This was a sensational meal bursting with flavours from the garlic, shallots, chillies, lemongrass, lime juice, Thai thin soy sauce, mint and coriander. It wasn't as perfect as I hoped due to both my local Asian supermarket and green grocer selling out of Thai basil that day which is my favourite herb that is used in Thai food. I longed for some of it's aniseed flavour and also regretted being a little heavy handed with the lime juice. With my notes on hand I'm sure it will be spot on next time at which point I will post the recipe. Another wonderful thing about this meal was that it was another tempeh win so it's been 3 out of 3 so far with only one more Tempeh Tuesday to go!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 16 - MoFo Mondays - Cheddar stuffed black bean burgers and Sindhi bhindi masala

Yesterday was the half way mark of Vegan MoFo, it was also the first day I have missed a post! Weekends are generally pretty hectic around here and as the one that just passed was busier than most, I couldn't find time to sit down and condense my growing bookmarks into a Summary Sundays post. 

This week for MoFo Mondays it was time to get stuck into some recipes from the last couple of weeks - first were Dawn from Veg-am's cheddar stuffed black bean burgers. As I'm not a big fan of commercial BBQ sauce and didn't have a homemade one on hand I switched it up and used Frank's Red Hot sauce to give the burgers a buffalo flavour. This change worked well for me and the other minor things I did differently was to use cheezly mozzarella in the burgers (as it was the only melting type of cheese I had in the fridge) and a little bit of rice flour when the burger mixture wasn't quite holding together. I was quite excited to discover that asparagus had come into season so the burgers were served with oven baked potato wedges and asparagus. These burgers had a great texture and I loved the buffalo flavouring but regretted not stuffing a larger quantity of cheezly into the centres. 

We have been right into okra curries lately and I've made a handful of different recipes over the past couple of months without being able to find a favourite. When I saw River from Wing It Vegan post about a gorgeous looking sindhi bhindi masala I simply had to give it a try. The recipe is posted at The Lotus and the Artichoke and includes a few handy tips about how the curry can be customised. This was just the sort of recipe I needed, after tinkering with it slightly it turned out to be the okra curry I've been searching for. The gravy was richer than the other recipes I've made and the spices packed a decent punch. I'll definitely be making this one every now and then to have on our regular curry nights.   

If you read last Monday's post which talked about a corned beef seitan you may recall that the seitan wasn't quite what I was searching for. More than half of the seitan was remaining as well as heaps of sauerkraut so I combined them with a cheesy sauce into a oven bake I named Reubenesque casserole. We enjoyed the seitan in this casserole more than we had in sandwiches and this casserole kept us going for a few meals. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 14 - Sweet Saturdays - Choc-banana cheesecake slice

Several weeks ago I received an email from the man containing a link to a recipe - this was a total shock as I don't think he hasn't ever sent me a recipe via email before. His food requests usually come verbally and are repeats that he loves. Prior to looking at the recipe I decided that I would come through with the goods regardless of how I felt about making it. After clicking on the link I was excited that the recipe was for a chocolate banana cheesecake slice as I've never made a cheesecake, vegan or otherwise, in my life before.

One thing that was unusual about this recipe (to me anyway) was that the bananas were cooked in the oven while the base was being cooked. Apparently this is to intensify the flavour of the bananas yet we thought the banana was rather subtle in the slice so I'm not so sure about this theory. The cooked bananas were totally black on the outside after being roasted yet the banana flash within was still it's usual colour and bit softer in texture.

The slice was a big success with everyone at home, myself included, which means that it wasn't overly sweet (in case you are new to my blog, I don't have a very sweet tooth). I was requested to use Sweet William dairy-free chocolate rather than dark chocolate that was stated in the recipe which made the slice slightly less rich than it would have been with a dark chocolate. It was intended to be topped with chopped roasted almonds which isn't the most popular topping choice with my fellows so we all agreed that strawberries were an equally good option. This recipe is a keeper and one that definitely will be seen around here again.

Choc-banana cheesecake slice (Adapted from Frank Camorra's recipe on

Anzac biscuit base
100g plain flour
90g brown sugar
60g rolled oats
50g desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon sea salt
80g dairy-free margarine
20g golden syrup
2/3 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 bananas
250g vegan chocolate (I used Sweet William dairy-free, use dark chocolate if you prefer)
400g tofutti better than cream cheese
150g brown sugar
A punnet of strawberries, cut into halves
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20cm square dish with baking paper, allowing the paper to come up the sides then grease lightly with some margarine or olive oil spray.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, oats, coconut and salt. Place the dairy-free margarine and golden syrup in a small saucepan and heat gently until the margarine has melted. Add the bicarbonate of soda which will make the mixture foamy, then remove from the heat. Stir the contents of the saucepan into the bowl containing the dry ingredients thoroughly then press this mixture into the lined dish. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and crisp.

Cook the bananas in the oven at the same time as the Anzac base, then remove and allow them to cool down. Peel the bananas and place them into a food processor along with cream cheese and process until the mixture is smooth. Add sugar and continue processing until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times to incorporate all of the ingredients. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl, placed over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Add the melted chocolate to the food processor and scrape down the sides so it mixes evenly.

Spread this onto the cooled biscuit base and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. After the slice has set, use the baking paper to lift it out of the dish. Cut the slice into square pieces, top each piece with a halved strawberry and dust lightly with icing sugar. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 13 - Free Fridays - Creamy green pasta sauce with homemade gnocchi

This week my theme for Free Friday is called Flashback Friday. Back in my vegetarian days I used to make a decadent cream and parmesan based pasta sauce to serve over potato gnocchi on a semi-regular basis which was a favourite meal with my fellows. The gnocchi was hand made if I could afford the time as it was so much softer and lighter than any gnocchi that came out of a packet. In my early vegan days and prior to discovering the almighty powers of cashews I made a vegan version of the pasta sauce which turned out rather well. This dish had slipped my mind until I started to crave gnocchi recently (my gnocchi cravings are similar to pizza and taco cravings, once they resurface they have to be fuelled).

The creamy sauce used to be stirred through sautéed garlic, mushrooms, spring onions, sun-dried tomatoes and wilted spinach leaves before it was poured on top of the gnocchi. I was all set to recreate it this way until Kari from Bite-sized thoughts posted a recipe for a pureed spinach and white bean pasta sauce recently. I adored the colour in Kari's pasta sauce and even though I still made my own cashew based sauce I changed up the method and blended the spinach in with the rest of the sauce ingredients which resulted in a vibrant green sauce.

The mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes were hidden by this colourful sauce and I will be tempted to omit them next time I make this as the sauce is flavourful enough without them. I loved this sauce so much I won't be waiting until I can bothered making gnocchi again as the sauce would be great with any type of pasta. As I don't have time to post a version of the gnocchi recipe right now, here is the link to the recipe I have referred to for many years which always results in extremely soft gnocchi that almost melts in your mouth.

Creamy green pasta sauce 

½ cup raw unsalted cashews
1 1/3 cups soy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
30 fresh basil leaves
100g baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Optional extras
100-150g button mushrooms, sliced
50g sundried tomatoes, drained of oil and cut into thin strips
4 spring onions, sliced
freshly cracked black pepper

Place the cashews, soy milk, nutritional yeast, sea salt, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in a blender and process until no chunks of cashews remain and the sauce is smooth. Add the basil and spinach leaves and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times of necessary to incorporate any stray pieces of basil and spinach.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant and starting to colour slightly. If using mushrooms, add them to the pan and saute until they have softened and released their juices. Pour in the contents of the blender then rinse out the blender jar with ¼ - ½ cup of water and add this to the pan. Stir through the sundried tomatoes and spring onions (if using) and allow the sauce to heat through. Serve with pasta of your choice garnished with freshly cracked black pepper.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 12 - Tidy-up Thursdays - Green Chili Stew

This Green Chili Stew posted on Tales of a Vegan Food Fetishist a couple of MoFos ago was initially supposed to be a part of my first MoFo Mondays post. After scanning through the recipe I realised that it was going to utilise two sorely neglected ingredients in my pantry - tinned tomatillos and hominy. It's safe to say they had been sitting there unloved for a couple of years and although I did go through a period of cooking with tomatillos a while back I had never eaten hominy before.

I made a few substitutions to Leigh's recipe to suit the vegetables I had on hand and included cooked black beans in place of crumbled tofu. I wasn't sure about the quantity of tomatillos that was used in her recipe as the tin size wasn't specified but I'm tipping it was larger than my small tin which meant that my stew didn't end up with a green colour. On the other hand I had more than enough hominy in my giant sized tin and after doubling the amount there was still plenty leftover.

The man loved the aroma of this meal when he arrived home from work and enquired what I was making for dinner. I warned him that the meal contained quinoa as he isn't the biggest fan and cleverly marketed it as a "Mexican meal" rather than a stew to keep him interested. Stews are one of his least favourite kinds of meals so I always keep the liquid to a minimum as he really doesn't enjoy soupy styled dishes. I adored the strong smoky flavours from the ancho chilli and smoked paprika throughout this dish and also enjoyed the mild corn flavour and chewy texture of the hominy. The only bothersome aspect was that the meal contained a slight metallic undertone which was most likely due to using such old tinned ingredients.

Susan from Kittens Gone Lentil posted about recipe testing for Leigh Drew's new cookbok "Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food" last week, which will be released on the 15th of November and can be pre-ordered from booktopia now. I couldn't finish a post about one of Leigh's recipes without mentioning her book as I was also involved in some of the phases of recipe testing. As well as many of the curries and tandoori cauliflower cheese that Susan mentioned in her post, I was most excited by the above dish - Tostada Tofu Rancheros with Scrambled Tofu, Blackened Tofu and Roast Potatoes accompanied by Mint Salsa Verde and Guacamole. This meal was amazing! For a sneak peek of other delicious foods from Leigh's new cookbook, make sure you check out Susan's post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 11 - Worldly Wednesdays - Stopover 30 - Uruguay

I was pretty excited when Uruguay turned out to be the next stopover on my virtual trip around the world as I haven't had the chance to cover many South American countries so far. The traditional cuisine of Uruguay is based on European roots, particularly Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Britain as well as influences from African and indigenous sources. Uruguayan barbecues, known as asado, are well known around the world. This is also a popular style of cooking in the neighbouring country Argentina.

After searching through my cookbooks I came across a couple of dishes that sounded like they would pair well together, a pie called Torta Pasculina in World Vegetarian Classics and Tempeh asado in Viva Vegan. Tempeh asado was the first tempeh dish I ever made and the only dish from Viva Vegan that I haven't been particularly fond of so I was keen to give it another try using tofu instead.

The original version of Torta Pasculina which is also known as Easter Torte comes from Liguria, Italy. The Italian filo covered pie is usually filled with Swiss chard or artichokes. The Uruguayan/Argentinean version in World Vegetarian Classics contains spinach, marinated red capsicums, olives, parmesan cheese and eggs and uses a shortcrust pastry. I had planned to make a pretty slack replacement for parmesan by throwing in a heap of nooch plus some salt and finally break open my packet of the Vegg to use as an egg replacement.

A number of things went wrong during the making of this pie. The shortcrust pastry I've successfully made before didn't hold together when it was being rolled out so I had to pull some puff pastry sheets out of the freezer to use instead. In the cookbook version of this pie the eggs were broken into indentations made on the top of the filling. I've had no experience with using the Vegg before and and for some reason I was under the illusion that the Veggs would set in the pie when it was baked. When the pie was cut after being baked in the oven the Vegg mixture ran everywhere and made quite a mess!

I didn't hold much hope for this meal given all of my tribulations but by this stage it was late and everyone was ravenous. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise when the pie actually tasted great. The saltiness of the olives paired with the sweet marinated capsicums worked really well together and it wasn't just our hunger talking as the leftovers were just as enjoyable. The tofu asado was much nicer than the tempeh version I don't have fond memories of although there are other recipes in Viva Vegan that hold more appeal for me.

Did you know?

The national anthem of Uruguay is the longest in duration of any country in the world. Orientales, la Patria o la Tumba contains 105 bars of music with a duration of approximately 6 minutes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 10 - Tempeh Tuesdays - Tempe Panggang Bumbu Rujak

During last Vegan MoFo my around the world cooking theme introduced me to an incredibly tasty fried tempeh dish from Indonesia which has totally slipped my mind since. For my next Tuesday tempeh challenge I thought it was time to try out another dish from Indonesia as it is the home of tempeh after all. Earlier this year I had been flicking through a friends cookbook called The Best of Indonesian Cooking and took the opportunity to jot down a few of the tempeh recipes to try at a later time.

The dish I settled on making called Tempe Panggang Bumbu Rujak sounded interesting as the tempeh slices were initially cooked in an aromatic paste, and then finished off on a grill. The remainder of the cooking paste was to be served over the grilled tempeh. The paste was made up of candlenuts, red chillies, purple shallots, garlic, galangal and tamarind and coconut milk with a bruised stem of lemongrass and a couple of kaffir lime leaves add to the simmering mixture.

Although it wasn't stated in the recipe I opted to steam the tempeh slices prior to cooking them in the broth to remove any bitterness. I'm not sure whether this was entirely necessary given the robust flavours in the paste but I wanted to play it safe. The only part of the recipe I was unsure of was the stated quantity of tamarind. Tamarind is available in many forms and I'm not sure that the half teaspoon of puree I used was what the recipe intended as this flavour seemed to be non-existent.

On the other hand the coconut was a bit too dominant for my liking and I will probably play with this recipe a little when I give it another shot. The meal was another great way to enjoy tempeh and the man thoroughly enjoyed this dish so I'll post a version down the track when I tweak it to my liking. I'm pretty happy that the tempeh recipes I've cooked in the past two weeks have been really tasty dishes I would be happy to make again, hopefully the next two will work out just as good!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 9 - MoFo Mondays - Corned beef seitan and Pudla

Last Monday saw me rummaging through my Vegan MoFo bookmarks from 2011. This week for MoFo Mondays, I'm focussing on a couple of bookmarked recipes from Vegan MoFo 2012.

First up is corned beef seitan from Inspired Eats. This is the second time I've made a corned beef seitan and both times the recipes haven't been exactly what I'm searching for. The corned beef I used to eat in my youth was quite salty with a slight amount of clove flavouring which used to be accompanied with roast vegetables or mashed potatoes. This recipe and the one I tried previously have been a bit too heavy on cinnamon and allspice and not seasoned enough to please my salt tooth.

Having said that the seitan did work really well in a reuben styled sandwich (on white bread rather than rye) loaded with sauerkraut and the homemade mustard from The Vegan Ronin I posted about last Monday. Something I really liked about this recipe was how the thinly sliced pieces of seitan were cooked in a broth containing beetroot powder to give them a pinkish colour.

Kittee Bee Berns from Cake Maker to the Stars had me drooling over her Indian pancakes called pudla during Vegan MoFo last year. I'm kicking myself that it took me so long to get around to making these as it's such a quick, easy and tasty recipe which is adaptable to the vegetables you have on hand. 

These savoury pancakes are based on chickpea flour and have a few spices added to the batter. I gave the pudla a little extra heat by adding a chopped red chilli in with my chosen vegetables - shredded baby spinach, grated carrot, finely chopped mushroom, tomato and sliced spring onions. They are perfect for a weekend brunch and will be a regular around here as the man and I loved them. Next time I'll try to get my act together and serve them with a homemade cilantro chutney rather than the store bought mango chutney we had them with on this occasion.

Now that I've gone through a few Vegan MoFo bookmarks from the past couple of years I'm looking forward to getting stuck into some inspirational recipes from 2013!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Vegan MoFo Day 8 - Summary Sundays - Week 1

Hey there, hope you have all enjoyed the first week of Vegan MoFo and aren't doing your heads in trying to keep up with the pace! There are heaps of inspiring recipes floating around and once again my bookmarks are getting out of control but rather than share some of them today I'm going to give a shout out to some of the themes I've been enjoying so far.

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe, one of my fellow Melburnian bloggers is baking TV Dinners this month. She has been recreating some lovely looking meals inspired by a range of television shows.  

Seinfeld still remains as one of my favourite shows ever so I'm loving Seinfeld MoFo - A blog about nothing over at Naked Vegan Lunch. Crystal and Trevor have already covered one of my favourite episodes The Soup Nazi, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a calzone will pop up during the month too.

Joey from Flicking the Vs is veganising British meals for the month and has had my mouth watering with her lovely looking Chelsea buns and Mulligatawny soup.

Cadry from Cadry's Kitchen is revisiting favourite foods from her past travelling around in a virtual DeLorean fuelled by a Flax Capacitor. Check out her Back in Thyme posts - her graphic is fantastic! 

Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh's MoFo Mimic is similar to my Monday theme except she is taking inspiration from her favourite bloggers and bookmarked recipes for the entire month. 

Lazy Smurfs month long taco cleanse sounds exactly like the type of cleanse I would like to embrace. These posts stirred up my taco cravings so badly I had to whip up our favourite combination of refried beans, tofu adobe with cashew cream, guacamole and hot sauce on soft corn tortillas for dinner last night.

What are your favourites themes so far? It's easy to miss things with so much going around!


In my theme intro I mentioned that I was going to have a surprise on Sundays. Well here it is for all you animal lovers - a short video of our 14 year cat Monty showing young Ollie who is the boss of the house. This was taken not that long after we rescued Ollie who has settled down so much in just over a year after having a pretty confusing start to life. It took a little for us to integrate these guys but thankfully they get along quite well these days.

Hope you are all having a great weekend!