Sunday, 30 August 2015

Vegan banana french toast

I have had a great night of comfort with a documentary on Countdown on the telly while I baked a batch of favourite chocolate tahini biscuits.  For those who didn't grow up with Countdown, it was a legendary tv music show which was where the youth found out what was going on in music back in the 1970s and 1980s.  Not to be confused with the Countdown game show in the UK.  Countdown: Do yourself a favour is such a fun show that fills me with nostalgia.

Yesterday morning we had another comfort - fried bread!  French toast to be more specific.  And if you want me to be really accurate, it was vegan French toast, which probably sounds less of a comfort to those who love their eggs.  I don't love eggs and never ate French toast as a child but have had some good experiences with the vegan variety.  I found it works quite well with homemade sourdough bread.

While we often use up an old banana in pancakes in the morning, it sometimes seems wasteful to make pancakes while we have bread that I have baked.  When Sylvia asked for French toast and we had a manky banana I decided I must be able to use up old banana and 2 day old bread.  There are few recipe ideas that I can't find someone hasn't done before.  And mostly I check out their recipe and then do my own thing.  As I did yesterday.

I had success with a vegan french toast last year which was coated in desiccated coconut.  We had fresh pineapple and so I said to Sylvia that we should pair it with coconut.  She must have remembered and decided we would dip the french bread in coconut before frying.  Unfortunately she is not quite up to caramelising the pineapple in the frypan so the dish wasn't quite as I would have done in an ideal world.  But we were hurrying and it was really nice with pineapple. 

At least they weren't doused in cinnamon.  At one stage I gave Sylvia a half cup to measure some milk into.  She was still focussed on needing more cinnamon and seemed to think I was directing her to add half a cup of cinnamon.  Luckily I realised the communication breakdown before she added too much cinnamon into the measuring cup.

Maybe a little maple syrup drizzled over the top would have been good.  The French toast was not as sweet as I expected given there was a banana in the mixture.  I did have a little of mine with some peanut butter on it which worked.  Seems that we will now have French toast as an alternative for weekends when we have the manky banana in the fruit bowl.

I am sending this vegan french toast to Elizabeth for her No Waste Food Challenge and to Healthy Vegan Fridays #62.

More vegan breakfast ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes
Chocolate muesli (granola)
Potato scones
Roasted vegetable tofu scramble
Smoky apple baked beans
Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble
Super smoothie with berries, pear and banana  

Banana  French Toast
Adapted from The Minimalist Baker and Green Gourmet Giraffe
1 banana mashed
1 1/4 cups milk
1-3 tsp chia seeds
good sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Sturdy bread slices, such as sourdough
coconut, to sprinkle (optional)
margarine to fry

Mix banana, milk, chia seeds, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow dish.  Dip bread into mixture and sprinkle with coconut on both side (if desired).  Heat frypan over medium heat and melt about a tsp of margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on each side.  Repeat until the mixture is finished.

On the Stereo:
Best of Bowie: David Bowie

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Carrot almond sauce for bowl food - and random moments

This carrot almond sauce started as bowl food and ended as dip.  I really love bowl food that looks gorgeous and is full of healthy food.  I used whatever I could find for this meal.  Also important is that putting together the bowl was quick and easy.  Strangely I am enjoying celery lately.  Which is probably a result of buying bunches of celery that I must eat through one way or another.  Fresh crisp celery is so refreshing. 

I made some changes to the carrot ginger almond sauce I found at Coconut and Berries.  Emma used almond nut butter.  I had no nut butter on hand so I used whole almonds which blended easily in my Froothie high powered blender.  I also found it easy to use sriracha rather than fresh ginger.  I forgot the turmeric but left it in the recipe as I will use it next time.  And I added some milk to help it blend, which still resulted in quite a thick sauce.  More dip than sauce actually.  But what's in a name.  It was light and really tasty - spicy, smoky, sweet - and lifted a bowl of grains, beans and vegies.

And I will end with a few random moments:
  • Last week I rode past a nursing home and smelt that they were making a pea soup kind of lunch.  It made me wonder about nursing homes for Sylvia's generation which had so many food allergies.  Will they remember their food allergies in old age?  Will nursing home staff spend lots of time labelling and keeping food separate?  Will there be a spate of food allergy related deaths in the eldery?
  • Last night I made sweet potato and lentil soup for tea.  I had told E that I was making it.  Yet when he arrived home late and went to heat up his tea, he still looked under the tea towel into the rising bread dough rather than going to the saucepan on the stove!  Curiosity?  Confusion?  Hope?
  • Recently there was a story in the news about the Victorian Liberal Party's missing millions of dollars.  What horrified me was the suggestion that if they had had that money in the election last year they might have had more chance in the marginal seats and of winning the election.  I know our electoral system is not ideal.  Yet I still feel despair at the suggestion that money can win elections.

I am sending this to Meat Free Mondays and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Vegan flourless almond choc chip cookies
Two year ago: Mini baked doughnuts and fun stuff
Three years ago: NCR African Curried Coconut Soup
Four years ago: Potage St Germain
Five years ago: Florentines, salads and what's in a name
Six years ago: Potato boston bun
Seven years ago: WTSIM ... Beer Bread
Eight years ago: Blues Clues Birthday Cake

Carrot Almond Sauce
Adapted from Coconut and Berries
serves 2-4

1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tbsp raw almonds
1 tbsp smoked almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp white miso
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp sriracha
1 small clove of garlic
1/4 tsp ground turmeric

Cook carrots and blend with remaining ingredients.

Serving suggestion:
Heat some cooked black beans with tamari and old bay seasoning, add warm cooked brown rice, chopped celery, snow peas and spinach.  Top with a generous spoonful or two of sauce.  It also makes a great dip.

On the stereo:
Turn turn turn: Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell with you are my flower

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Urban Revival Market, Pentridge, Coburg

On Saturday the sun shone kindly on our wintery world.  Sylvia and I hopped on our bikes and rose along to the Urban Revival Market in the D Division Block of the former Pentridge Prison.  This was an opportunity to see inside the old gaol and check out some artisan market stalls.

Pentridge Prison (aka "Coburg College") was built in 1850 and officially closed in 1997.  D Divison has been a female prison, the site of the last hanging in Australia and a remand prison.  It now is available for weddings, kids parties and sleepovers.  And hosts the occasional market like this Urban Revival one which was on the ground floor of three levels of cells.  It was both unsettling and impressive when we turned the corner and saw the rows of cells before us.

One of the first stalls we saw was the Luda Vintageware.  They had old crockery, vintage fly spray cans and a pile of suitcase.  I was most amused by an old bag of silverware that looked like exactly the sort of thing that might have helped criminals find their way in here when it was a functioning prison.

I enjoyed looking at some of the old crockery and linen.  Sylvia loved rifling through the marbles and sampling a Minions banana chocolate macaron from the friendly Colette at Chocolette Patisserie.

As we walked along looking at the stalls, we also peeked in the old cells.  Most were empty.  A few were dumping grounds for odd stuff like what looked like a huge deflated blow up mattress.  Some of the stall holder used them for storing goods.

One stall holder even had their wares on display in a cell.

The market didn't have much in the way of food.  Macarons, a Silician stall and the Twisted Mac stall.  We shared a plain macaroni cheese ($8) and it was so delicious.  I was pleased to find something simple that Sylvia could eat.  You could also buy macaroni cheese with fancy toppings.

We ate in what I think was the old exercise yard, complete with a watch tower and barbed wire at the top of the walls.  It was the least impressive part of the market because there weren't many stalls there and at one side was a heap of rubble.  We arrived as a band was ending.  It might have been a bit more lively if the music was still playing.

As it was, we headed back inside to check out more old crockery, buttons and fun socks.  E had been at a gig and was late to join us.  He was pleased to see some crates of used vinyl LPs and found himself a Peter Paul and Mary record to purchase.

This necklace was my favourite item on display.  The swirls of green and purple in the glass were so gorgeous.  I didn't buy it.  I probably should have.  I might not have worn it a lot but would love to see it catching the light in a window.

It was great to get out on a sunny winter afternoon and interesting to see inside the old prison.  It is very atmospheric.

This Urban Revival Market was a one off.  This is perhaps just as well.  There have been a couple of attempts to hold regular markets here but neither have gained the traction they need.  However as this area of Coburg continues to develop, perhaps the time will come when it is viable to have a regular Pentridge market.  Meanwhile there are a couple of cafes in the old Pentridge complex: the Glass Den and the Boot Factory.  I hope to visit and write about these some time.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Chocolate carrot cake

Today was a cake stall to raise funds for Sylvia's school.  We brought home baking to add to all the leftovers in the freezer.  Thank goodness Sylvia didn't bring a party bag of lollies home from the party at the zoo today.  Because I also have some of this chocolate carrot cake left in the freezer.  I had planned to make it for a special occasion but then I ended up making it when I could find time to make it.  Well almost.

The recipe came from Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella who had made a magnificent two layer round cake frosted with nutella and cream cheese.  I wanted a simple one layer affair and when we have cakes at home, I find it easier to bake a square cake that can be cut into square chunks rather than wedges.  And I wanted to justify the purchase of a new square cake plate.

I convinced myself that if I baked it in a larger square tin, it would bake faster.  I even increased the temperature from 160 to 180 C.  However I had a tight deadline with needing to pick up Sylvia and her friend from netball.  As it was, the cake was still uncooked in the middle when I needed to leave.  I turned the oven down low and left.  It was raining hard, Sylvia was playing under a bbq in the undercover area, and I got home to find that the oven had turned itself off.

After 45 minutes at 180 C, an hour with the oven turned off and 40 minutes at 160, the cake was baked!  After that I needed a piece of chocolate cake.  I did have the patience to cool it, decorate it and photograph it (with the light box) before eating it.

The cream cheese frosting I used was a simple one based on a frosting I had made many years ago.  It is the sort you make when you want cream cheese frosting but nothing too decadent.  I also added strawberries because I had just bought some.  However I think it might have been more relevant to just sprinkle some chocolate flakes on it.  I also made a chocolate macadamia butter (sort of like this) that would be a really nice rich ganache for a special occasion, so I have included it below.

The reason I initially loved the sound of the cake was that it was nubbly.  I love texture in cake.  Lots of veggies, fruit and nuts.  Carrots, pineapple, chocolate chunks and toasted coconut.  (I had a great idea of using some carrot jam but it was beyond use.)

I used the coconut instead of nuts because Sylvia is not so keen on nuts in cakes.  Thing is, I have now discovered that she is not so keen on toasted coconut in cakes either.  E wasn't so keen either.  He guessed that there were nuts in the cake.  I really liked it.  I thought I might have the pleasure of eating it all by myself.  E managed to eat some but part of the cake has ended up in the freezer.

It is such a dense cake that a little goes a long way.  I am slowly making my way through it but we have heaps of other leftovers to attend to right now.  However it is lovely to have it in the freezer for those days when nothing but chocolate cake will do.  Meanwhile I leave you with some photos from our visit to the zoo today for Sylvia's friend's party.

I am sending this cake to Choclette for We Should Cocoa.

More interesting chocolate cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate porridge cake
Chocolate pumpkin spice cake
Fruitcake with chocolate chunks
Honey, yoghurt and chocolate cake
Mashed potato chocolate cake
Mulled wine chocolate cake
Nigella's nutella cake
Paragon chocolate orange cake 
Walnut fudge cake

More interesting chocolate cakes from elsewhere online:
Black sesame and chocolate cake - Not Quite Nigella
Cherry Ripe coconut fudge cake - Apples Under My Bed
Chocolate cauliflower cake with salted caramel icing - Veggie Desserts
Chocolate, lavender and raspberry cake - Sew White
Chocolate prune cake - David Lebowitz
Chocolate and violet cake - Allotment to Kitchen
Coconut cake with chocolate chunks - The Tolerant Vegan
Eton Mess chocolate cake - Tin and Thyme

Chocolate carrot cake
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella

Dry ingredients:
200g (1 cup) dark chocolate chunks
3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Wet ingredients:
400g tin crushed pineapple, drained*
250g (about 3 medium) grated carrots (half finely grated, half coarsely grated)
1 1/4 cup fizzy drink (soda water, cola or beer)*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Chocolate cream cheese frosting:
185g cream cheese
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa


Chocolate macadamia coconut ganache:
1 cup raw macadamias
1 tbsp maple
1/2 cup chocolate
1/2 cup coconut

To decorate:
coconut flakes

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl or a large jug.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Scrape into a greased and lined 20cm square cake tin (or a 20cm round cake tin).  Bake at 160 C for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Frost either with the cream cheese frosting (hand mix ingredients in a bowl) or the ganache (blend in high speed blender until creamy) depending on if you want it to be light or decadent!  Decorate with strawberries and/or coconut flakes.

On the stereo:
Love: The Beatles

Friday, 21 August 2015

Cocoa bites

These cocoa bites were made on a day when I felt like baking but wanted quick results, I wanted chocolate but not too unhealthy, I wanted to snack but in a sensible way.  So I made these cocoa bites that are packed with good stuff.  They are the sort of snack you feel ok feeding to little girls who have just been to netball practice or having before doing a body balance class at the gym.

I made these in my high powered blender rather than a food processor.  They were really good but in a nut butter sort of way rather than finely chopped nuts because I think I got a little enthusiastic with the blender. So they were soft and fudgy, sweet but not overly so, and easy to take about with me.  Maybe not too different from a whole lot of energy balls I have blogged here but I think they were exactly what I needed.

I am sending these cocoa bites to Healthy Vegan Fridays #61 and Gluten Free Fridays #156

More energy balls at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Almond, date and cranberry truffles (gf, v)
Almond energy snacks (v)
Chocolate almond and coconut balls (gf, v)
Chocolate bliss balls with banana and oats (v)
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
Wattleseed cashew truffles (gf, v)

Cocoa Bites
From 86 lemons
Makes about 24 small balls

1 cup dates
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1 tbsp flax seeds (linseeds)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Soak dates in hot water for 10 minutes.  In a high speed blender (or your food processor), blend nuts until ground.  Add coconut, cocoa, seeds, agave and vanilla and continue to blend.  Add drained dates.  Roll mixture into balls.

On the stereo:
Tales of a Librarian: Tori Amos

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Honey joys, gluten free sausage rolls and a birthday

When there is cornflakes in the pantry, a birthday on the weekend and not much time for baking, honey joys seems just the thing!  As a child I often encountered them at parties and cake stalls.  They were always popular.  As an adult I have discovered that they are cornflakes covered in a light toffee sauce.  No wonder they are still loved by kids.

The event as my niece, Stella's third birthday.  I had said I would bring sausage rolls.  Serendipitously while checking out the new Coles at Coburg North I found this Genius gluten free puff pastry.  I decided to make half gluten free sausage rolls (with sesame seeds) and half regular (with poppy seeds).  Which was just as well, given that the packet of pastry was only enough for half the batch of sausage roll filling.  I probably could have rolled it out a bit thinner but not too much more. 

I have tried a few gluten free pastry recipes in the past and found them hard to work with.  This pastry was really good.  It was dairy free but had egg in it.  I amended my usual vegetarian sausage roll recipe to be dairy free and gluten free by substituting 1 cup of silken tofu for the cottage cheese and gf breadcrumbs and quinoa flakes instead of wheaten breadcrumbs and oats.  I had to add a bit more breadcrumbs and quinoa flakes than when I make my regular recipe.

The honey joys were far more straight forward to make gluten free, even given that I made two batches.  It was a matter of boiling up butter, sugar and honey and then stirring in cornflakes and baking.  I always find honey joys great when I start eating them and then halfway through they are too much.  I am obviously not the only one if the amount of half eaten honey joys left about at parties is any guide.  So I made them with mini muffin cases.  They were the perfect size.

I used different coloured mini muffin papers to make it easy to tell the two batches apart.  There wasn't much difference between the traditional and gluten free honey joys.  The gluten free cornflakes were more sturdy and didn't rustle as much as the traditional ones.  Yet everyone seemed happy to eat either (other than the celiacs).  I also added coconut sugar to keep down the refined sugar.  This worked really well and probably added to the toffee flavour.

We rushed down to Stella's baking party (run by Little Wren Cookery School).  Her little friends and cousins decorated chef's hats, donned striped aprons and got to work baking while the parents went down the road for a coffee.  When we came back at the end they had made pizza, decorated cupcakes and made freckles on sticks. 

We then returned to Stella's place where my sister Fran had a birthday cake for Stella with more of her cousins.  I heated up the sausage rolls.  They went down very well.  Fran is a big fan of them and the coeliacs in the family were impressed by the gluten free pastry.

The honey joys also went down well.  I knew Sylvia would love them because I had had to keep her away from them the night before when I had baked them in advance.  I was surprised to find that my niece Maddy was very fond of them.  My parents could not be there but I am sure my mum would have appreciated us having honey joys which is the sort of thing she might make.

Fran had also made cupcakes with Peppa Pig toppers and had ordered a gorgeous gluten free chocolate cake with a Peppa Pig scene on it.  Stella was delighted and had fun blowing out the candles.

I think this is the age when kids start to really notice parties.  Stella was so delightful to watch with her sense of wonder and excitement at all the food and presents and company.  She checked over a toy cow with her new doctor's kit and danced to a card that sang happy birthday.  Sylvia and I stayed the night at Fran's.

The next morning Fran had guests for more birthday celebrations but we just stayed for green and pink pancakes for breakfast, a game of hide and seek and some fun on the kiddie keyboard.  Then we headed home, well rested and with not a leftover in sight!

I am sending this post to Gluten Free Fridays, Free From Fridays, Inheritance Recipes and Recipe of the Week.

More gluten free party snacks on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Baked rice paper spring rolls (gf, v)
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gf, v)
Cheesy almond muffins (gf)
Pea, quinoa and feta fritters (gf)
Sesame hummus bites (gf, v)
Sushi with vegan salmon pate (gf, v)
Voracious vegan pate (gf, v)

Apricot delight (gf, v)
Cherry Ripe cake pops (gf)
Coconut ice (gf)
Donna Hay brownies (gf)
Gluten free gingerbread cut out cookies (gf, v)
Maple meringues (gf)
Vanilla cupcakes (gf)

Honey Joys
Adapted from Kelloggs
Makes about 18-20 mini honey joys

3 tbsp butter or margarine*
3 tbsp coconut sugar*
2 tsp honey
2 cups corn flakes*

Melt butter, sugar and honey and gently bring to boil so that mixture is bubbly.  Remove from hat and mix in corn flakes.  Spoon into mini muffin (or patty pan) tins that are lined with papers.  Bake at 150 C for 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

*NOTES: traditionally honey joys are made with butter, castor sugar and Kelloggs cornflakes.  I used margarine to keep it dairy free, coconut sugar because I could and I made one batch each with Kelloggs cornflakes and gluten free corn flakes.

On the Stereo:
Flood: They might be giants

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Strawberry and smoky chickpea salad

Tonight I wanted to bring you a long winded post with lots of photos.  However I don't have time and, even if I did, my computer would not let me bring you the photos.  So instead I am posting a simple salad.  (I had more photos but I had problems with a few of them!)

But let me ramble for a moment.  I have recently started a Healthy Bowls Pinterest board.  All these bowls of beautiful vegies have given me Pinterest envy.  I want my dinner to look this beautiful.  Perhaps wee Sylvia is onto something when she asks for her vegies to be separate on her plate.  It could even be that I disliked lots of vegies as a child that I could only learn to love them when mixed up and now I am finally beginning to just enjoy them, albeit with a salad dressing so good that Sylvia was happy to eat her vegies with it.

I thought the vinaigrette was helping her to enjoy eating spinach.  Then a few nights later I serve her baby spinach with no dressing expecting her to leave it.  Instead she picks up a great big pile and takes a big mouthful.  The child in me is still amazed at her love of vegies.  Fortunately the adult in me was ready for some healthy vegies after a carbs and chocolate trivia night.

The salad was just what I needed.  It started with cheap strawberries.  I fossicked around in the fridge, made a lovely vinaigrette from an Eats Well With Others roasted berry salad and made smoky chickpeas using my tofu bacon marinade.  The chickpeas were a bit salty so I think I would reduce the tamari next time.  Otherwise I was smitten.  With a savoury muffin on the side, dinner was ready.

I am sending the salad to Healthy Vegan Fridays #58, No Croutons Required, Eat Your Greens, Gluten Free Fridays #155 and Meatless Mondays.

More healthy main meal salads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado, pickled ginger and tofu soba noodle salad (gf, v)
Couscous salad with chermoula (v)
Gado Gado with marmalade (gf, v)
Leon superfood salad (gf)
Mock tuna (chickpea) salad (gf, v)
Morroccan chickpea and couscous salad (v)
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad (gf, v)

More healthy main meal salads elsewhere:
BBQ Roasted chickpea summer salad - taste space
Chickpea nicoise salad - Eats Well With Others
Chopped BBQ tofu salad - Delicious Knowledge
Diane Henry's Crazy Salad - Kahakai Kitchen
Greens salad with creamy avocado dressing - Two Peas and Their Pod
Kale, brown rice, red quinoa salad with miso dressing - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
Power salad wit orange vinaigrette - Tina's Chic Corner

Strawberry and smoky chickpea salad
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe salad with vinaigrette from Eats Well With Others

Strawberries, halved
Carrots, cut into batons
Cucumber, cut into batons
Cooked beetroot, cut into wedges
Baby spinach
Smoky chickpeas (below)
Balsamic vinaigrette (below)

Smoky chickpeas:
1 tbsp nooch
2-3 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp maple
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
400g tin chickpeas

Balsamic vinaigrette:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
salt and black pepper, to taste

To make smoky chickpeas, mix all ingredients except chickpeas to make marinade.  Fry chickpeas in marinade over medium high until marinade is absorbed and chickpeas are slightly sticky.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk all the balsamic vinaigrette ingredients together.

Arrange chickpeas and other ingredients in individual bowls and drizzle with vinaigrette.

On the Stereo:
The Velvet Underground and Nico