Saturday, 29 December 2012

Savoury muffins

A while ago, Sylvia and I made rice paper rolls after seeing them made on Play School and they were a great success. Recently, Sylvia decided that she wanted to make savoury muffins after seeing them on the show.  

Sylvia is quite picky about the foods she will try at the moment, so I seized the opportunity to make something she was enthusiastic about. New baby Lexie (he's four weeks now, explaining the lack of posts lately!) was put into his hug a bub wrap and we made all them together. 

Sylvia was very specific about what she wanted in the muffins - zucchini, corn and carrot. She loved making and eating these. I enjoyed them too, although I am so accustomed to sweet muffins that the first bite was a little confusing for my taste buds. I got over it, though.

These muffins are tasty and moist. The basil and parsley make them taste really fresh and the corn adds some nice sweetness. They would be great for school lunches and snacks on the go.

Savoury muffins (based on this recipe) 

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal flour
7/8 cup plain flour 
1/4 cup nutritional/savoury yeast
2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
200ml soy milk 
2 tsp apple cider vinegar 
100ml sunflower oil 
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
corn from 1 cob of corn 
handful of basil and parsley leaves, chopped 
2 tbsp water, or as needed

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredient in a small bowl. 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until partly combined. Add the water if it's too dry.

Add the zucchini, carrot, corn, parsley and basil and fold through until just combined.

Spoon into greased muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. 

Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Vegan Bounty Balls

I was a big fan of Bounty chocolate bars as a child, so as soon as I saw this recipe on Veggieful I knew I had to make them.

The coconut filling is so similar to the original in flavour and texture. These are really, really yummy! They are simple to make and would make great gifts for Christmas.

Make them now!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Best salad ever: Kale salad with sunflower seed dressing

The cliche is that vegans live on salads. Although I like most salads, I don't make them very often. When I do, I usually use brown rice or quinoa to make a more substantial and interesting salad.

However, in the last few months of this pregnancy I have craved the freshness of salads. I created this one completely guided by my cravings. I have made it a few times a week for the last month or two and I am still not sick of it! 

The salad contains kale. I have made kale chips, which I enjoy, but I much prefer the taste of raw kale. I have come across a few types of kale - curly, flat and purple. They all work in this salad. The sunflower dressing is very creamy, almost like mayonnaise, and the apples and sultanas add a bit of sweetness. It is not fancy or pretty, but it is delicious!

Kale salad with sunflower seed dressing (serves 2, or 1 pregnant woman)

2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 granny smith apple, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cups of kale leaves, ripped up
1/4 cup sultanas

Dressing (based on sunflower thyme marinade from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
dash of water to thin it out (but it should be fairly thick, not runny)

Put the celery, carrot, apple, kale and sultanas in a bowl.

Blend all dressing ingredients together until smooth and desired consistency.

Add the dressing to the bowl and coat all ingredients well. I usually do this with my hands, it works best!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hungarian Chocolate Chestnut Cake - no bake!

As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a cake that my mum veganised from my great grandmother's recipe.

This delicious combination of chocolate and chestnut is indulgent and rich - a family favourite for a very good reason! It is often that final piece of food that sends us into a food coma at family gatherings and parties...

It consists of two layers sandwiched with jam and coated in chocolate. No baking required, just freezing overnight.

Here is the recipe, courtesy of my very talented mum. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Hungarian Chocolate Chestnut Cake

1 15 Oz/450 gm tin of unsweetened chestnut puree (French the best)
7-9 vegan biscuits crushed, such as Arnott's 'Nice' biscuits or vegan arrowroot biscuits
120 gm caster sugar + a few more tbsp for the topping
120 gm Nuttelex or another unsalted/low salt vegan margarine
120 gm vegan dark cooking chocolate + about 80 gm for the topping
1-2 tbsp of rum (or brandy)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp apricot, strawberry or cherry jam

Melt/soften the margarine and blend with the chestnuts, biscuits and sugar until it forms a creamy paste like consistency.

Halve the mixture into 2 bowls.

In one bowl, add melted chocolate together with a dash of coffee if available.

In the other, add vanilla and rum and mix well.

Line a sandwich tin with greased baking paper, leaving enough to cover the cake on top.

Spread the vanilla half into the tin.

Spread the jam gently over the mixture. You may need to warm the jam for easy spreading. 

Then spread the chocolate half of the mixture evenly on top.

Fold the paper over the top and push gently down.

Freeze the cake overnight or until needed. Before serving, take out the cake, tip upside down onto a plate and remove the paper. 

Cover with a thick sauce made with the 80 gm chocolate, and about 4 -6 tbsp caster sugar, and a splash of water or coffee. The topping needs to be smooth and very hot (remove when it starts to bubble). 

Cool slightly and pour over the frozen cake. Allow to defrost further, but keep cool and serve with vegan cream or ice cream.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Mountain High Pies

Mountain High Pies
293 Great Western Highway Wentworth Falls
Blue Mountains
Phone (02) 4757 3737.
I was nearing a large pie shop that I regularly go past on my way to work, on the Great Western Highway in Wentworth Falls (a couple of towns before Katoomba), for some reason I decided to go in. To my suprise, they had a great range of vegan pies - they even had vegan cake! One of the chefs is vegan and she is passionate about creating them.
If you come up to the mountains for the weekend, it's worth a drop in. Also, remember Rubyfruit (vegan bakery in Leura with to die for cakes) and Papadinos Pizza in Katoomba.

Papadinos Pizza in Katoomba

Papadinos Pizza
48 Katoomba St, Katoomba
(02) 4782 1696

Papadinos is a great pizza shop in Katoomba, Blue Mountains. Although they are not fully vegan, they have vegan pizza (yes, cheese included) and a couple of other dishes which look fabulous. The person I was with was guten free as well as being vegan and they accommodated us. To top it all off, they made us vegan, gluten free donuts for dessert. Excellent meal, great atmosphere, highly recommended :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Doughy adventures: Chocolate coated play pretzels and playdough

Sylvia had the idea recently to make 'chocolate pretzels', which were made on a television show she watches.

We used the recipe for Play Pretzels from Vegan Lunch Box. They are simple, include wholemeal flour and you don't need to wait for the dough to rise. 

There is something irresistible about freshly baked dough coated in chocolate. Sylvia had so much fun making different shapes out of the dough. She loved eating them, too! We've made these several times in the last few weeks. 

Post chocolate
These are not fancy, and I probably wouldn't make these to serve to people, but they are yummy and it is a great activity to do with kids. For the times when chocolate simply must be consumed (often at our place), these pretzels are great as they are pretty healthy when compared with most other chocolatey sweet treats.

S for Sylvia!
And on the topic of dough, for all those in search for the perfect homemade playdough recipe, try this one from Green Gourmet Giraffe. It's the best one we've made yet - thanks Johanna!

Chocolate coated play pretzels (slightly adapted from Play Pretzels in Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann)

2/3 cup all purpose white flour
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
1 sachet of yeast (7gm)
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 220C.

Mix together the yeast, sugar and water and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flours and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix well. Knead for a minute or so until smooth. The original recipe says to leave the dough for 10 minutes. We did this the first time, but not the other times and they turned out fine so I don't think this is essential.

Break off bits of the dough and roll into long strips to make shapes. Bake for about 10 minutes. 

Leave them to cool for a few minutes, then coat in the melted chocolate. Leave to set or eat immediately!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Random deliciousness

With all the other things happening in our lives at the moment, my cooking has been a bit fragmented. I find myself making dishes from random cookbooks and blogs, depending on what idea jumps into my pregnancy-addled brain. I'm still as feverish about cooking as ever!

Here are some yummy things we've eaten lately:

Vegan mayo

It was quite a revelation making this mayonnaise from Vegan Dad's recipe. It was so creamy and much much superior to bought vegan mayo.... and cheaper and no funny additives. It is made with soy milk, oil (I used sunflower oil), white wine vinegar, sugar and salt. I'll never buy vegan mayo again!

Savoury spinach pancakes

These are from Vegan Mother Hubbard and I loved them. I used fresh spinach instead of frozen, some different herbs and spices and left out the vegan cheese, and they turned out beautifully.

White bean and spinach wraps

This is a winning combo if you love garlic - smooth white bean spread based on this recipe, and spinach wilted with a bit of olive oil and garlic. These are still not as popular as our standard tangy bean wraps, but lovely nonetheless!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Food ideas for toddlers

I have heard that some toddlers eat whatever is placed in front of them. Although my little two and a half year old girl eats pretty well and generally tries most foods, she is definitely not one of those toddlers.

Vegan or not, most of my friends with toddlers share my experience.  

I am always trawling blogs on the lookout for new ideas for food that Sylvia might enjoy, so I thought I'd share some of our recent food successes - hopefully they work for someone else too!

Guacamole face

Borrowing yet another idea from the TV show Play School, I made guacamole dip with avocado, chopped tomato, garlic, red onion, lemon juice and salt and cut up a variety of veggies. Whoever said you shouldn't play with your food?

This is Sylvia's creation: 

Healthy cinnamon crackers

This is a great recipe from the blog Peas and Thank You. It is actually meant to be a cereal, but Sylvia just loves them as crackers served warm from the oven. They are made with chickpea and millet flour, so pretty nutritious!


I've blogged about brown rice sushi before. It was delicious, but Sylvia wasn't too keen on it. She prefers this version made with regular seasoned sushi rice and filled with avocado, capsicum, cucumber and carrot. Dipped in large quantities of tamari or soy sauce, of course!

Pesto pasta and broccoli

I made this pesto with basil leaves, olive oil, nutritional/savoury yeast, garlic, walnuts and lemon juice. I mix the broccoli with a bit of salt and Nuttelex.

Like adults, children have their likes and dislikes. These might change. They are still exploring tastes and textures. I understand them feeling reluctant to try new and unfamiliar things, especially when they feel pressured to do so.

I think it's a lot about control and independence. I find that Sylvia is more likely to try and eat food if the setting is relaxed and she doesn't feel compelled to try it. She is more interested in the food if she is involved in making it.

Toddlers test boundaries and I don't think food should be a battleground. I'm fine with giving Sylvia the freedom to occasionally have not so healthy foods containing sugar etc. and to try foods that may not be 100% vegan in social settings if it means that she has a relaxed and healthy attitude toward food and is happy eating our vegan food at home most of the time.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Almond-jam muffins using leftover almond pulp

I am still chasing down the recipe for my mum's Hungarian Chocolate Chestnut Cake. In the meantime, I wanted to share these delicious almond-jam muffins:

I have been making almond milk quite a bit lately - I seem to be craving it! I hate to waste all that leftover almond pulp, so I googled ways to use it and came across this recipe on Veg Web

I loved these muffins. This is the most successful recipe I have found via Google in quite some time! And I have had some disasters, believe me.  
I used cherry jam for the filling and a couple of tablespoons of apple sauce for the egg replacer. 
To make the almond milk, I soak 1 cup of almonds overnight, then blend it with 4 cups of water, a bit of maple syrup, a dash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt until smooth. I then pour it into a fine strainer (straining it though cheesecloth would create a smoother, less grainy result but I don't mind the tiny bits of almond). It's really easy and tastes so much nicer than bought almond milk.  
Now, I think I will probably make the almond milk just to have the pulp to make these yummy muffins!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Quinoa and cupcakes for meat eaters

I often agonise over what dishes to make when we are entertaining or to take to parties and gatherings. Is it too vegan? Too healthy? Too unusual? Over the years, I have discovered that taste wins out every time, and the fact that something is vegan is soon forgotten.

I took this quinoa salad and these cupcakes to my brother's birthday celebration on the weekend.

This is my go to quinoa salad recipe, based on a recipe from the wonderful Veganomicon. I find that a lot of people are intrigued by quinoa and haven't tasted it before, so it is a good opportunity to spread the vegan love!

I was also pretty delighted to discover that Sylvia loves this salad too. I can just never predict which foods she'll go for!

Quinoa salad (adapted from Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 bunch of scallions/spring onions, chopped
1/2 cup sultanas
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tin of beans (mixed beans or red kidney beans are good)

If you don't have any leftover quinoa, bring one cup of uncooked quinoa and two cups of water to the boil and simmer until cooked and all water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool a bit.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill. That's it!

These are the Lemon Macadamia Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I think this is one of the best recipes from that book. They are a bit different, sophisticated, moist and really delicious. And pretty! 

My mum also made her Hungarian Chocolate Chestnut Cake

My mum has veganised my great grandmother's recipe. It is a rich and decadent no-bake recipe, and is a much loved favourite within our family and circle of friends. I'll post the recipe for this next time!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Fast comfort food

Often, I feel like eating something sweet and comforting but I don't have time to make anything too elaborate. This stewed rhubarb and apple was my quick and highly effective solution the other day:

I ended up eating the whole lot (not in one sitting) because Sylvia turned her nose up at it and my partner is not keen on tart/tangy fruity things.

Stewed fruit is the ultimate comfort food to me. It's warm, soft, sweet and feels very wholesome somehow. And it has that baby food texture!

Rhubarb doesn't seem to be a very popular fruit, but I have grown up eating it. It has a unique, tart flavour and transforms into a silky and vaguely stringy jumble when cooked for long enough. 

It is delicious in crumbles and cakes but this is definitely my favourite way to eat it, simple and undisguised.

Stewed Rhubarb and Apple (makes 2 pregnant woman servings)

1 bunch of rhubarb (about 5-7 large stalks), leaves and ends removed, chopped
3 large granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
quarter of a lemon with rind, pips removed

Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Cover and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 20 minutes. Stir it every now and then to make sure there is enough liquid. Remove lemon rind and serve warm.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Cheater Pad Thai

At the moment, I'm loving week day dinners that I can prepare in half an hour or less. 

Some days I feel inspired to make more involved meals that Sylvia enjoys helping me with, such as these pierogi with mushroom filling:

But usually, there are so many other things to do like play games with Sylvia or sneak a solitary walk when my partner gets home. Nope, nothing practical like cleaning the house!

This is one such quick and tasty meal.

I started off making the Pad Thai recipe from Vegan Planet. It is a great recipe but over the years I've changed it quite a bit based on our tastes and the ingredients we usually have on hand. This is one of our standard dinners, and is usually a hit with Sylvia too!

Cheater Pad Thai (Serves 4-5)
(inspired by Robin Robertson's Pad Thai in Vegan Planet)

3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 block of tofu (about 350 grams), cut into small cubes
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 small bunch of scallions/spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
half a red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 carrot, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 packet of rice noodles

2-3 tbsp natural peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
about 1/4 cup of water to thin it out

Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the packet, drain and set aside.

Fry tofu in 1 tbsp of oil until lightly browned and add 1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce. Stir around a bit and set aside. 

In a separate large saucepan, fry the vegetables in 2 tbsp of oil until cooked to taste.

While vegetables are cooking, mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. My measurements for this are not exact - I just taste as I'm going and try to reach a nice balance. 

Add the noodles, tofu and sauce to the vegetables and stir around until heated through.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Vegan Goodies

Like Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh, I recently visited the new Cruelty Free Shop on Glebe Point Road in Glebe (Sydney) and picked up some vegan goodies.

It is so exciting (and slightly dangerous) to go into a shop where I can buy anything! They have a fantastic selection of vegan food and other products and I really hope they do well and are supported by the community.

Here is our loot:

Soy chocolate milk for Sylvia, plain soy yogurt, cookies and cream ice cream made with coconut milk, white choc chips, chocolate bar, lip gloss and peanut butter cups (empty packet!)
We didn't quite manage to photograph everything before we ate it...
Empty packet of vegan ham
We also bought some raspberry jelly crystals, which I forgot to take a picture of. Sylvia had been asking for jelly for ages because a character in one of the stories we read eats a "big bowl of strawberries and red jelly". Funnily enough, she wasn't at all interested in trying it (maybe I overdid the excitement), but it didn't go to waste!

The ice cream made with coconut milk was divine. I like that it is soy free and doesn't have any nasty artificial things in there.

I was surprised at how much I liked the "ham" as I'm not normally one for the fake meats. It was great on sandwiches with mustard and pickles... or is that my pregnancy talking?

I used the white chocolate chips in these "Banana Everything Cookies" from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and they were delicious.

Does anyone have other ideas on how to use white chocolate chips?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Apricot Ripe Slice - toddler approved

I used to love Cherry Ripe bars when I was little. These bars reminded me a bit of them, except of course that I used dried apricots and they are reasonably healthy! 

These are so simple to make and we found them to be a great snack on the run. Sylvia absolutely loved these bars - partly I think because I called it "chocolate slice" and she loves anything chocolate. Whatever works! She's pretty picky with her food these days, so I was happy that she liked something containing dried apricots.

Apricot Ripe Slice (adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe's Apricot Delight)

250g dried apricots, chopped (I used organic)
3/4 cup boiling water
2-3 tbsp rice malt syrup (you can buy it at Coles)
1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
1 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted

Place half the apricots, the boiling water and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan. Soak for about an hour. Bring to the boil and gently simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. 

Puree apricots in a blender and add the rest of the apricots and the coconut. Spread into a lined square cake tin. 

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove and spread over the top of the apricot mixture.

Put in the fridge or freezer until set and cut into bars.

We kept these in the fridge, but they only lasted a day or so!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Brown Rice Sushi

I overcame my irrational fear of the bamboo sushi rolling mat and made some brown rice sushi the other day. It worked, and it was delicious!

The thing I wish I had known about sushi before is that it still turns out fine even when you roll it pretty badly like I did. To think of all these wasted years that I haven't been making sushi! It is such a fresh, light and yummy dinner. And the filling options are endless.

I followed the tips here about seasoning the rice and making the ponzu dipping sauce. I also included the "sanctuary dressing" from Appetite for Reduction in the filling, made with silken tofu, a touch of mayonnaise and some other seasonings. It added a lovely tang if you like that mayonnaise-y taste in your sushi like I do.

Brown Rice Sushi

Brown rice

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar  


1-2 avocados, cut in strips
1 red capsicum, cut in strips
lettuce, shredded
2 cucumbers, cut in strips
a packet of shittake mushrooms, sliced and fried in a bit of oil
"sanctuary dressing" from Appetite for Reduction 

 Ponzu sauce for dipping 

3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp mirin 

Other stuff

5-6 sushi nori sheets
Bamboo rolling mat

Bring rice and water to the boil, then simmer until cooked (about 40 minutes).

While rice is cooking, prepare filling ingredients and make ponzu dipping sauce. 

Combine mirin, sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir into the rice when it is cooked and set aside to cool (my rice was still a bit warm when I made the sushi and it turned out fine).

Put a nori sheet onto the bamboo mat, spread a layer of rice over the sheet leaving a little space along the top edge, add fillings and roll the mat away from you, pressing firmly. Dab on a bit of water to seal. Repeat as necessary!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tasty tales

As I mentioned in the last post, Theresa passed on the Food Stories blog award to me which asks that the recipient share some random facts about themselves as well as pass the award on to five other bloggers. So here are a few of my random facts...

Before Sylvia was born, I ran some community vegan cooking classes. It was such a rewarding and fun experience to connect with new people and share plant-based food ideas with them. I would love to do it again one day. 
I've always liked pretty unusual combinations of food. But now that I'm pregnant again I think my tastes are actually more subdued. Does this snack of apple, peanut butter, strawberry and sultanas seem odd to you?
At the moment, I'm enjoying Sylvia's imaginative games. Most of them are related to cooking and food, such as this "picnic" with "chocolate chip biscuits" made from play dough.  
I love cupcakes, making and eating them... need I say more? Here are some Christmas cupcakes we made at my cooking classes.
Here are the great blogs I'd like to nominate:

Friday, 6 July 2012

Birthday cake and recipe testing

Computer problems have stopped me from blogging for a while, but hopefully the technical issues are solved and my computer will cooperate from now on!

I've been looking for an excuse to make this cake for ages, and my partner's birthday was the perfect occasion.

I present the 'Beesting' cake, along with Sylvia's delicately placed candles:

It has an almond toffee on the top, a custard filling and the cake has almond meal in it. It looks pretty and is quite light, but still feels indulgent.

This is one of Leigh Drew's recipes from her book Vegan Indulgence. I've also volunteered to do some recipe testing for Leigh for her upcoming 'around the world' vegan cookbook.

It is so much fun trying these recipes, which have so far been mostly Indian and Pakistani inspired. They are quite different to the food I normally cook. I don't generally use chilli in our food because of Sylvia and I guess I haven't come across such exciting recipes for vegan versions of food from this region of the world. Eating these dishes is like having a night out in a great restaurant, not something that really happens with a two year old!

Here are the dishes I've cooked so far:
Baigan Bharta (Eggplant curry)

"Butter" Tofu

Aloo Gobi

Mamoul (shortbread stuffed with pistashios and walnuts)
Lastly, thank you to Theresa from the Tropical Vegan for passing along the Food Stories Blog award. I've been following Theresa's blog for years and I always love reading it, so it's a lovely surprise! I will be sharing some random facts about myself in the next post...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sometimes you just need cake

And I mean cake. With the sugar, white flour and fat not replaced with healthier alternatives.

Here is the cake Sylvia and I made yesterday, for no other reason than that we felt like making and eating it:

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make a cake for no particular purpose or occasion. Normally when I make cake like this, it's for a party and I can't really sit down, relax, cram a piece into my mouth and truly enjoy it. I love baking healthy breakfast-y things like muffins, but there's just something special and frivolous about making a cake with absolutely no nutritional value.

On the topic of cakes, I've had a lot of fun making Sylvia's birthday cakes over the past two years. I made this tiger cake for her first birthday: 

Of course, she was too little to request anything in particular, but she was born in the year of the tiger and has always loved toy tigers so that was enough for me. Also, it seemed like one of the few decent cakes I could make with my limited cake decorating abilities!

For Sylvia's second birthday, I made this cake:

I hope that you can tell that it's a rabbit! In case you're wondering, it has a bow tie. It does look slightly demonic. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, Sylvia alternated between wanting a rabbit cake and a 'moon and stars' cake, but finally decided on the rabbit cake.

I used the same recipe for both cakes, as well as the one we made yesterday. It's a chocolate cake because Sylvia loves chocolate. Like mother like daughter. I found it here online. It is a fantastic, simple recipe and always turns out very moist and delicious. Kids especially love it. I use the 'chocolate buttercream' from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

I also have to include a link to an amazing beetroot chocolate cake from Nuts and Seeds which I've also made several times. It's so nice not to have to use artificial colouring to make the pink icing - just add a bit of beetroot juice! I'll never use red colouring again.

It will be interesting to see what kind of cake Sylvia requests for her third birthday. With her will and determination growing stronger by the day, I am just hoping it's nothing that requires any engineering/construction ability!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Hungarian Cabbage Noodles

My mum is Hungarian so I grew up eating a bit of Hungarian food. It is quite a heavy cuisine - lots of meat, cream, butter and rich delicious cakes. It evokes lots of happy childhood memories for me, so I've tried to veganise a few Hungarian dishes over the years. 

I have to mention that my mum is a brilliant and versatile cook and has also veganised many amazing dishes for me, including an incredible chestnut chocolate freezer cake. I'll have to post the recipe up here one day!

Hungarian noodle dishes often blur the lines between sweet and savoury, combining onions, sour cream, sugar, pepper and cottage cheese. I created this recipe after I made the sour dressing from Vegan Deli, which immediately reminded me of these flavours. It was an exciting discovery because it is such a comfort food for me!

This may not be to everyone's taste, but I love the combination. I've made it at family gatherings and it is pretty popular.  I have also tried it out successfully on non-Hungarian friends! 

If the amount of sugar and pepper scare you a little, just add a bit at a time and keep tasting as you go. I usually add less pepper when I know Sylvia will be eating it.

Hungarian Cabbage Noodles

Sauce (Sour Dressing from Vegan Deli by Joanne Stepaniak)
1 1/2 cups silken firm tofu (I use a whole 300g packet)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of ground coriander
2 tbsp canola oil

Cabbage noodles
Half a cabbage, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sultanas
1 tsp black pepper or to taste
salt to taste
pasta of choice, about 300g

Make the sauce by putting everything except the oil in a blender and processing until smooth. Slowly add in oil and mix until smooth. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Fry onion and cabbage on medium heat until slightly browning and soft, about 15 minutes. In the meantime, cook your pasta.

Combine the pasta and sauce in the large saucepan along with the sugar, pepper and sultanas. Heat on low heat for a few minutes. Stir to combine and serve!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Delicious odds and ends

French Toast
We don't normally have ciabatta bread in the house but we had some leftover from another dish so I decided to make French toast with it. This bread was perfect for French toast, I'll never use any other (healthier) bread to make it again. I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance which has besan/chickpea flour in it. Served with bananas and maple syrup = indulgent breakfast!

Overnight Oat Parfaits

These are so fun, healthy and convenient for breakfast. Just mix up some oats, chia seeds, sweetener and anything else you'd like to throw in like dried fruit or nuts, put it in the fridge and it's waiting for you in the morning to serve with fruit. I always have visions of a sophisticated parfait with perfect layers as pictured here but it usually ends up in mild chaos like this: 

Chocolate Covered Apricots

This seems like such a simple idea but they are so delicious! The chocolate kind of changes the taste of the apricot. It reminded me a bit of cherry ripe for some reason. This idea is from Vegie Head

The funny story about these: I'm always trying to get Sylvia to eat dried apricots. She doesn't mind them, but usually just has a nibble and loses interest. I thought coating them with her favourite thing, chocolate, would entice her but when she was helping me make them she ate about 4 plain apricots, tried a chocolate coated one, sucked off the chocolate and spat out the apricot! Lesson: never use logic with a toddler...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Golden Syrup Dumplings

This was one of the first recipes I ever cooked on my own. I was about eighteen and had had very little cooking experience. Although it is a pretty humble dish, I was thrilled with the results. The dumplings are sweet and comforting, and so nice on a cold night. 

According to Google, there are more gourmet versions of this dish but this recipe I veganised works perfectly. It's fun to make because it has the feel of a camping recipe, like damper, that looks a bit rough and is made using staple ingredients. I may not be making these for a dinner party, but these dumplings are surprisingly delicious and much more than the sum of their basic ingredients.

Golden Syrup Dumplings

1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Nuttelex)
enough non-dairy milk to form a dough

2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup water

Place the flour into a bowl and rub the margarine into the flour. Slowly add the milk until the mixture forms a manageable dough. If you put in a bit too much milk, just add some flour to balance it out.

Knead the dough for minute or so until it is soft and smooth, then roll into eight balls and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the golden syrup, sugar and water until it is simmering. Throw the dumplings in and keep on medium to low heat until they are cooked, about 10 minutes or so. 

The sauce will thicken quite a lot during this time and the dumplings expand. Roll them around very gently every now and then to make sure they're evenly cooked in the sauce. It's best to take out a dumpling to test to make sure they are ready because they're awful when they're still doughy. They should be cakey in texture. 

I serve the dumplings with a bit of sauce and soy milk over the top. Some kind of vegan cream would be perfect because that sauce is pretty sweet!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sweeter side of life

I post mainly about savoury food because I tend not experiment as much with dessert recipes. I usually stick to the recipe. However, I probably enjoy making sweet things the most and I have a massive sweet tooth. Over the years, I've baked so many dozens of vegan cupcakes to take to parties, dinners, etc. that it's kind of expected of me now!

I made these marble cupcakes with buttercream icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for Mother's Day. It's the first time I've made these and I loved the swirly marble effect. They are a nice simple tasting cupcake, not as moist as my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe from the same book, but good. The almond essence gives them a nice flavour. The book suggests having a small amount of icing on each one so you can show off the marble effect, which is true. I think they look beautiful, but I think next time I'll put chocolate icing on them and more of it!

These are the Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Sylvia and I made these to take to playgroup. They are always a winner - like a brownie in cookie form. And they contain oats so are practically a health food! They disappeared so fast, and were especially popular with the kids.