Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sunshine Pancakes

Do you know how hard it is to flip a sunshine shaped pancake!  I used to follow Jim's Pancakes and admire all his miraculous pancake creations - a ferris wheel, a carousel and even a toilet.  It all looked so easy.  So Sylvia and I made pancakes on a weekend, loaded up our squeezy bottles and created chaos in the kitchen.

We wanted squeezy bottle art.  Our usual pancake recipe is too chunky.  Instead we turned to a recipe as used by Veganopoulous.  She says she always makes pancakes using the Vegan Brunch recipe.  When I checked out the recipe, Isa is apologetic about having already published the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.  It must be good to republish it.  Like any pancake professional - ha ha - we had two colours.  One coloured with a little turmeric.  Another coloured by blood orange juice.

Squeezy bottle amateurish chaos followed.  We made a sun - most of the rays fell off but were stuck back on for the photo; a flower and of course Dolly - who looks like she belongs in a horror film.

Sylvia loved driving the squeezy bottles.  She loved the whole pancake making.  It was possibly the first time she has flipped pancakes herself.  She burnt herself on a frypan while trying to flip a while back so her childlike confidence has a touch of caution.  She was very proud of herself.  I just wonder how long until she can make me breakfast.

And finally because I have this silly theme of The Letter S for Vegan MoFo, we made an S - which fell apart in the frypan!  The S might not be sensational but the pancakes were.  I have tried a few vegan pancakes and found them too soft in the middle.  These pancakes were brilliant and could become my go-to vegan pancakes.  Especially when we want a bit of squeezy bottle fun.

We loved these so much we have already made them again and this time the pancakes were not quite so coloured but we made the layers a bit fancy. 

One of my favourite blog events is We Should Cocoa run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog.  Each month bloggers share recipes featuring chocolate.  This month the event is 4 years old and the theme is Jam.  So we made a celebratory pancakes stack sandwiched together with layers of choc chips, jam and banana slices, all drizzled with maple syrup.  So simple and so yummy. 

We always have pancakes for breakfast but when I was young we always had them for dessert so I am also sending the pancakes to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for Dead Easy Desserts (overseen by Maison Cupcake and Feeding Boys.).

More  sweet vegan brunch ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Isa's Vegan Pancakes*
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

6 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp turmeric (for yellow colour: optional)
1/4 tsp salt (forgot this)
6 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp and 2 tsp water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Margarine for frying

Mix together all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Heat heavy bottomed non-stick frypan over medium high heat.  Rub some butter over the frypan (it should be hot enough that it melts right away).  Spoon pancake mixture into the pan to make small pancakes, use 1/4 cup measures for medium pancakes, or use a squeezy bottle to draw shapes.  Fry until a few bubbles appear and flip over.  Cook about another minute or until golden brown.  Eat hot.

*NOTES: I halved Isa's recipe because we wanted two colours.  I doubled the maple syrup as I was concerned there was a slight spicy taste from the turmeric.  To make the purple pink colour we added juice of blood oranges (about 2) instead of water and milk and didn't use the turmeric.

On the Stereo:
The Trip: Various Artists: curated by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey. 

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Spaghetti Pie and Random Notes

Readers and friends often comment at how much work I put into cooking.  Here is my secret.  Leftovers!  Yes I love to cook up a big bake or lasagne and let it feed us the rest of the week - if we run out I make a simple soup.  So when I share this pasta bake which took quite a lot of time, bear in mind that the extra effort on one night meant very little effort for a few nights afterwards.

The crazy idea of spaghetti pie comes from Kate of No Meat and Three Veg. I saw her post at the end of August when I was thinking about dishes starting with the Letter S for Vegan MoFo.  The vision of this dish would not go away.  Finally I had some leftover vegan cheese sauce and a cauliflower I had bought on special for $1 that needed to be used quickly.  Suddenly the dish presented itself. 

I had already decided that I would use puff pastry rather than shortcrust like Kate's.  I had a huge packet of vegan puff pastry in the freezer.  So I was surprised to find myself running short on the pastry.  It seems that  the three batches of sausage rolls made a bigger impact on the stash than I had expected.  Hence the lattice topping.  I never planned for it to look that pretty.

And the verdict!  This was great.  I was a bit nervous about using the puff pastry on the bottom of the pie.  I even rang my mum for advice.  She suggested I use a metal tray and bake it on a pizza stone.  The double carbs of pasta and pastry made fantastic comfort food.  I wished that I had more and less intense cheese sauce.  I made Ricki's walnut and cauliflower mince meat which gave the back a really rich flavour.  A light milky cheese sauce would work well with it.  I also considered grating my vegan bio cheese on top but didn't have quite enough left.

Indeed it was a very substantial pasta bake.  (Note that the above slice was actually a bit too generous!)  It is a recipe with lots of components that requires lots of time.  Yet it is worth the effort and it can be made ahead of time if you are entertaining or going to a potluck.  I would recommend eating it with lots of salad or green vegies.  However, if like me, you don't have lots of energy leftover to prepare sides to eat with it, you can console yourself that it has lots of vegies in it.  Even if it does get drowned in tomato sauce.

I am sending this pie to Shaheen's combined Eat Your Greens and Pasta Please blog events with this month's theme being pasta with green vegies.  Jac is the coordinator of Pasta Please.  I am also sending it to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for the Extra Veg blog event that is overseen by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.  Though the pie looks like a lot of carbs, it hides a head of cauliflower, carrot, zucchini, tomato, onion and spinach.

And now for a few random notes:
  • Last night we watched a really interesting tv show called Brilliant Creatures about intellectual Aussie icons and I was surprised to find I had seen three of them live.  I saw Germaine Greer speak at Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Barry Humphries perform as Sandy Stone at The Athenaeum in Melbourne and a live taping of the Clive James Show at the BBC Television Centre in London.  I have never seen Robert Hughes live.  And the show made me think about how we hear so much less about The Female Eunuch than when I was younger.
  • I am enjoying reading Tony Blair's autobiography.  It is surprisingly readable and gives great insight into government.  I have been surprised that Sylvia seems to like me reading it out loud to her when she wakes late at night and I am reading it.
  • On the weekend my dad and I test-drove a car.  The guy at the car sales lot had to charge the battery before we started.  We forgot this when I turned off the engine midway through the drive so we could swap drivers.  Then my dad and I had to search for the car sales lot on our phones so we could ring them to come and recharge the battery.  We are not buying the car but not because of the battery.  The search for a new car goes on.

More vegan spaghetti and fettuccine recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Spaghetti Pie
Serves 8

1 batch of cauliflower and walnut mince meat
1 batch of tomato pasta sauce (below)
500g spaghetti (I used wholemeal)
2 cups of vegan cheese sauce*
4 to 5 sheets of puff pastry (I used vegan)**
milk to glaze pastry

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Place a baking/pizza stone in the oven.

Cook and drain spaghetti according to package instructions.  Mix "mince meat" and tomato pasta sauce with spaghetti.  (I used my stockpot and pasta insert to cook the pasta and then mixed the sauce into the pasta in that pot.)

Grease a roasting tin (about 13 x 9 inch) and line with puff pastry.  Tip the spaghetti mixture into the lined tin and spread out evenly.  Spread cheese sauce over the spaghetti mixture. (I didn't have much cheese sauce and it resulted in a pleasing marbled effect but I quite fancy more cheese sauce.)  Cover with either full sheets of pastry or a lattice of pastry strips.  Brush pastry with milk.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and flaky.

* I used 1/2 batch of hurry up pumpkin alfredo but would probably do a simple white sauce with seasoning, nutritional yeast flakes and seeded mustard for a simpler flavour.  I think more cheese sauce would be good so I have specified 2 cups.  You could always just do a simple margarine/flour/milk white sauce and cover with a vegan cheese like biocheese.

** This bake would work well without the pastry but then it would be a pasta bake not a pie and that wouldn't be so much fun!

Tomato pasta sauce

2-3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
750g passata (pureed tomatoes)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp salt flakes
handful of chopped spinach

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry onion and carrots for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegies soften.  Add zucchini, passata, tomato paste, red wine, tahini, maple syrup, mustard and salt.  Use about 1/2 a cup of water to rinse out the passata bottle and add to saucepan.  Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until mixture has thickened.  Season to taste.  Remove from heat.  Stir in spinach.

On the Stereo: 
Jack White Presents The best of Third Man Records (MoJo freebie) - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Simple vegan chocolate cupcakes

Sylvia had just arrived home from school.  She was hungry.  Usually she is happy with bikkies and hummus as a snack.  Instead she suggested I make chocolate chip and cola muffins.  Those muffins were great but quite rich.  I wanted something lighter.  I remembered the vegan chocolate cupcakes that I baked for her birthday.

Back then I had accidentally added only half the flour.  They were good but very soft.  I decided to make them as the recipe said.  Then I tweaked them.  They were excellent.  More substantial and satisfying this time.  We all loved them.

Somehow Sylvia has gone off icing (frosting) on cakes.  Perhaps she has picked up on my dislike of it.  Too sweet, she says.  I just sieved a bit of icing sugar (powdered sugar) on top.  Somewhere - Pinterest no doubt - I saw someone had placed lace over their cupcakes to make pretty patterns with icing sugar.  It didn't quite work the same with me.  Possibly my cupcakes were too small or the paper doily not lacy enough.  It just looked like a light sprinkling of snow.  Which is not a bad thing.

I am sending these little cakes to Stuart of cakeyboi for September's Treat Petite blog event.  The theme is Anything Goes.  He runs the event with The Baking Explorer.

More vegan sweet treats from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Vegan chocolate cupcakes
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World via Chow
Makes 24-30 mini cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 plain white flour
1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup of choc chips
icing sugar, for sprinkling

Mix soy milk and vinegar in a large jug and leave aside to curdle.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line two to three mini muffin 12 cup tins with mini muffin papers.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium large mixing bowl. Whisk the sugar and oil into the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers, filling about 3/4 to the top.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out cleanly). Cool on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with icing sugar or frost if desired.

On the Stereo: 
Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers: Chicken Tractor Deluxe

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sesame Hummus Bites

The truth is that I find Sylvia's lunches quite boring.  It makes me a little guilty for not giving her more interesting food.  Yet she seems quite happy with them and has little desire for new ideas.  Every now and again I try a little harder.  Like when I made Emma's Sesame Hummus Bites.  She resists my new ideas.  Then I think why bother and happily eat the leftovers of yet another failed lunch attempt.

Honestly I thought I might be onto a good thing with the Sesame Hummus Bites.  Sylvia loves hummus and she loves carrot.   Perhaps I should have factored in that she wont eat my homemade hummus.  It has to be from the shops.  Yet I still didn't expect a huge list of other women she would prefer to be her mother when I insisted that she try these little balls.

On the up side she ate two of them.  (She seemed to like the sesame seed coating!)  So there was some justification for reducing the spring onion and spicy flavours!  On the downside, it just seemed too much to expect her to eat any at school without my gentle persuasion.

At least I enjoyed them.  And forgot them.  And rediscovered some left in the fridge a week later and enjoyed them all over again.  So I can confidently tell you that they last up to a week very well.  They are great little snacks.  They would work brilliantly in a platter, or a picnic, as well as in a lunchbox of someone less fussy than Sylvia.  They are just the thing for a hot summer's evening when you don't want to turn on the stove.  And I can confirm that they are great with salad and work well in a salad sandwich.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #12, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

More vegan finger food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sesame Hummus Bites
Adapted from Coconut and Berries
Makes 20 balls

400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 spring onion, white part only, finely sliced
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1-3 Tbsp water, or as required
3 tbsp chickpea flour, or as required
1/2 cup sesame seeds (white, black or a mixture)

Mix chickpeas, spring onion, lemon juice, tahini, paprika and salt in food processor.  Stir in carrot by hand.  If required add water or chickpea flour to make a firm paste/mixture that you can roll into balls (make a little ball to test if it holds together).  I found my mixture very wet even with only adding 1 tbsp of water and added 3 tbsp of chickpea flour to bind it.  Lightly dry fry sesame seeds.  Roll chickpea mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in sesame seeds.

On the Stereo: 
A Story to Tell: Starbucks presents powerful songs from the coffee house - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Mondays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Smith and Daughters: Sunday Brunch

It seems that all of vegan Melbourne has been raving about Smith and Daughters.  It boasts a sophisticated and exciting Mexican-style menu.  This is a new breed of vegan restaurants that attracts a broad range of punters with excellent food rather than just a vegan clientele.  We went there for brunch a few weeks back.  I wish it was easier to visit more often because it is an amazing place.

The decor is a mixture of eclectic kitsch and simple rustic charm.  I loved the little salt and pepper shakers on each table and the back wall hung with all manner of artwork.  E and I noticed the old wooden tennis racquet in the wooden frame (below).  My first tennis racquet was wooden.  I was told not to let it get wet because it might warp.  We had one of these frames to keep the racquet head in shape yet I don't remember if we used it.  But I digress.

We arrived at midday for brunch.  The place was packed.  I feared that we had finally got to Smith and Daughters only to find there was no room.  The staff were just lovely and suggested we sit at the bar until a table became available.  It wasn't long.  During our brunch the service was really welcoming and friendly. 

First up we ordered a drink.  E had a latte with almond and coconut milk.  He enjoyed it very much and was very pleased to try a new milk combination in his latte.  After watching the juicing at the bar, I had to try one.

The first juice on the menu is called a Brutal Green.  It consists of kale, celery, cucumber, spinach, mint and lime.  Other combinations are available that mix sweeter juices with the Brutal Green.  My Easy Green was apple, lemon, ginger and brutal green.  Only I am not so keen on ginger in juices so I swapped it for passionfruit.  It was lovely: tangy, leafy, a little spicy and just sweet enough for me.

Until 3pm on a weekend, Smith and Daughters offers a brunch menu.  I chose the breakfast burrito.  It was full of so much good stuff: scrambled tofu, crispy chorizo, black bean, garlic kale, cashew cheese and served with a dollop of guacamole.

I was so excited by the good stuff that I forgot I am not so keen on burritos.  I find that everything is too mushed up.  It was nice, though quite smoky andintense, but I would have preferred everything to be more separate.  However I have seen enough others who have loved it to claim this is just a personal preference rather than a reflection on Smith and Daughters.

I love how Smith and Daughters challenged us with unsual dishes.  While I was not bowled over by the burrito, I was unexpectedly smitten with the Horchata rice pudding with grilled pineapple.  It was so soft and gently spice and not too sweet.  With the pineapple it was just right.  Actually E ordered the rice pudding but did not eat it all.  I quite fancied just a small dessert and polished off his leftovers.

By the time we left at 1pm, it was a lot quieter than when we arrived.  Which was more relaxing because it was quite noisy when we arrived.  I can't wait to return.  I really loved the friendly staff, the beautiful space and the chance to eat fancy hipster vegan food.  Hopefully one day I can try out the dinner menu as well.  It looks amazing.

Smith and Daughters
175 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Tel: 03 9939 3293
Open: Tues-Fri 6pm-1am, Sat 10am-3pm, 6pm-1am, Sun 10am-3pm, 6-11pm.

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smith and Daughters.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Smith and Daughters on Urbanspoon

Friday, 12 September 2014

Stuffed squash with tex mex rice and beans

We are almost halfway through Vegan MoFo.  How are you finding it?  I confess that I have less energy for it than previous years.  Less energy to visit other Vegan MoFo blogs, to comment and engage.  Less time for my new Green Gourmet Giraffe Facebook page.  Less time for visiting the blogs I visit regularly.  And between you and me, I don't think I would even be getting up so many posts if I hadn't prepared ahead so much.

I had known it would be a busy month with three weekends out of town.  I just hadn't counted on the stolen car really turning it into a horror month.  We now find ourselves in the position of trying to find a new car so that we can go away on holiday at the end of the month.  (And I hope there are no thieves reading this and deciding to find out house and break in while we are away .  I couldn't bear it!)

But when you see these cute little squashes you will know that I shouldn't really complain.  After all I am lucky to be able to go to our local farmers market and buy such cuties.  I couldn't resist.  And while I probably should have been talking to the farmer about where they were grown and what variety of squash they are, instead I was asking how to make them sit up straight and  been told that maybe I would like square squashes like those square watermelons in Japan.

It was a shock to me when I started food blogging to discover just how narrow the definition of pumpkin is outside Australia.  What we call pumpkin is often called squash elsewhere.  Those funny orange halloween pumpkins from America are rarely seen here though the imports are now seen in the shops each October.  I have always thought that "pumpkins" (eg Butternut Pumpkin, Queensland Blue and Jap Pumpkins which are similar to kabocha) have lovely orange flavoursome flesh whereas squash has pale bland flavourless flesh.  These little squash definitely were quite bland and stringy.

Truth be told the squashes were all about style and elegance rather than taste.  I wasn't so keen on eating the stringy flesh but I loved the filling.  Fortunately I had so much filling that I baked the leftovers in a casserole dish.  It served as handy leftovers for E when I was out to dinner with a friend.  You might notice in the above photo that I used biocheese in it.  I love that stuff.  So yummy and melty.

In case you are wondering about how I made them sit nicely, I took out the stem and was able to sit them on their heads so the peaked bottoms were at the top like little pixie hats.  So cute. Perhaps this might explain why Sylvia felt the need to surround it with her little and tiny things while I took some photos the next morning.

I am sending this to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for her Shop Local blog event, that celebrates bloggers cooking with locally sourced food.  The squash and leek came from the farmers market and the lemon from our backyard.

More stuffed recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe: 

Squash Stuffed with Tex Mex rice and beans
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 4-6

2-3 small squash
Slurp of olive oil
1 large leek, washed and chopped
2 cups brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tbsp chipotle sauce
100g vegan cheese, grated
400g tin corn kernels, rinsed and drained
400g tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp lemon juice

Bake squash for about 1-2 hours at 180 C until they feel soft.  Chop off the top and scrape out seeds.

Fry the leek for about 10-15 minutes until soft.  Mix with the remaining ingredients and taste to check seasoning.

Stuff as much stuffing as possible into the squash and bake for about 1 hour at 180 C.  If you have remaining filling, bake in a greased oven dish until top is crispy - possibly a bit less time then stuffed squash.

On the Stereo:
Together Through Life: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze

I wanted to make a nut roast during this Vegan Month of Food.  As I chose The Letter S as my theme, it somewhat narrowed down the nut roasts I could make.  Initially I wanted a strawberry glaze, strawberries being cheap in the shops and jammy in my house.  I had all sorts of crazy ideas like using purple carrots, making a green spinach tofu filling or even a savoury chocolate nut roast but then my stolen car took up my energies.  Sweet potato and poppy seeds would have to be inventive enough.

I liked the look of Kevin's Roasted Strawberry BBQ Sauce on Closet Cooking as the inspiration for the glaze.  He said that the roasting tin should be lined with foil to catch the juices of the strawberries.  As you will see in the above post, catching strawberry juices wasn't something I had to worry about.  I was more concerned that I put too much mustard powder in the strawberry glaze.  It was too spicy when cooking but worked well on top of the nut roast.

Sadly the theft of my car also robbed my time to look over recipes for ideas.  Instead I spent time talking to neighbours and insurance company about boring stuff about cars.  So I just threw in ingredients that I usually use in nut roasts.  I find the texture most challenging with vegan nut roasts.  They are usually too soft.  As was this one.  Once baked the loaf was like warm sausage filling.  But nicer.  Which is not terrible.  (I hope I am not the only one who loved raw sausage filling as a kid!)

I was also concerned that I shouldn't have simmered the sauce for 10 minutes.  It looked rosy red when going into the oven but a little overcooked after baking.  Perhaps I just needed to cover it with foil.  Though my oven is slow to crisp and char the top of any bakes.  It didn't taste charred.  In fact the topping was the best bit of the loaf.  (NB the below photo is at night and the glaze looks much darker than the photo at the top taken in daylight.)

The glaze was great and I would repeat it.  I would like the nut roast texture to be more cooked.  What I think I got right was making the loaf quite firm to carry the glaze.  This is especially important if you want it to look appetising.  I have had my fair share of nut roasts that just collapse into mush and could not be transferred to a serving platter or sliced up.

All too often I get the side dishes right on the second night but throw side dishes together hastily on the night of baking.  This was no exception.  On the first night we had mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with the nut roast.  It was a little plain.  The second night I served it with a colourful salad and some overnight focaccia.  So much better!

Nut roasts are good for the soul.  They nourish and comfort in the most satisfying of ways.  This nut roast was most pleasing despite the soft texture.  It sliced up well, which makes for excellent sandwiches as well as a prettier dinner.

I am sending this nut roast to Ros at the More Than Occasional Baker for Alphabakes, a blog event she runs with Caroline of Caroline Makes, challenging us to bake focusing on a different letter each month.  This month the letter is K and so I have K for kumara (aka sweet potato).

More vegan nut roasts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Christmas walnut version
Golden beetroot nut roast
Lentil and walnut roast
Parsnip nut roast 
Purple nut roast
Tomato nut roast with buckwheat and seeds 

Sweet potato and poppyseed nut roast with strawberry glaze
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 6-8

Strawberry glaze:
250g strawberries
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp strawberry chia seed jam (or 1 tbsp regular strawberry jam)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp strawberry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika or more
1 garlic clove (I forgot)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Nut roast:
450g sweet potato - baked 1 hour til soft - cool, peel, mash
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 small parsnip, peeled and grated
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup almond meal
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt flakes
1/4 tsp stock powder

Ahead of time: 

Bake the sweet potato for about 1 hour at 180 C or until soft.  Cool, peel and mash.

Make the strawberry glaze: Roast strawberries at 210 C in a lined roasting tin at for 15 to 25 minutes until soft.  Place roasted strawberries and all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened.  Puree with a hand held blender (or your regular blender).

When you are ready to prepare nut roast:

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a loaf tin with baking paper so there is a generous overhang of the paper over the long edges.

Fry onion over medium heat in olive oil for a few minutes until soft.  Add parsnips and carrot.  Fry for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  Stir in garlic cloves briefly and remove from the heat.

Mix mashed sweet potato, onion mixture and remaining ingredients to make a thick mixture.  Spoon into prepared loaf tin.  Smooth with the back of a spoon.  Pour the strawberry glaze over the loaf and spread evenly over nut roast mixture.  If your oven likes to burn the top of anything, cover with foil for most of the baking time.

Bake for 45 minutes.  Cool in the tin for 15 to 30 minutes.  Carefully life the loaf out of the tin using the overhang of the baking paper and place on a chopping board to slice and serve.

On the Stereo:
On A Clear Night: Missy Higgins

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Smoky walnut and zucchini chocolate brownie

I made my first foray into smoky chocolate treats earlier this year when I made chocolate bark with coconut bacon.  It combined two of my favourite flavours.  So no surprise that it was an amazing experience.  The chocolate bark disappeared far too quickly.  It was only a matter of time before I tried the combination again.  Enter a tub of smoked walnuts and a fat free vegan zucchini brownie recipe.  I was inspired!  And most pleased!

Where do I start to tell you about this wonderful brownie?  Let me start with some generosity towards those of you who aren't convinced that chocolate can benefit from a hint of smokiness.  The smoked walnuts aren't strictly necessary.  I only sprinkled walnuts over half the cake.  Sylvia chose without.  I was pleased enough that she tried the brownie, despite knowing it was made with zucchini.  (She said she couldn't taste it.)  She is only young.  There are many years ahead of her to learn to love smoky chocolate flavours.

Even without the walnuts, the cake was beautifully soft and intense.  My changes made it less healthy but nevertheless it is on the healthy end of the scale.  I added more sugar, found it too sweet so then I added more cocoa and salt.  I also used oil rather than applesauce.

I had some oven problems.  Halfway through baking I discovered that I hadn't put on the fan.  In my slow oven that makes quite a lot of difference.  So it probably baked at the equivalent of 160 C for 25 minutes and then more at 180 C minutes.  It was a little on the cakey side around the sides but dense and fudgy on the inside.

Next let me tell you have much I loved the chocolate frosting.  I would go as far as to say it is life changing.  It is incredibly simple, easy and delicious.  I loved that it just used milk rather than cream and it only made enough for the cake.

I seem to constantly be confronted with a chocolate ganache frosting using oodles of chocolate and cream.  This frosting is mostly chocolate with just a few spoonfuls of milk and nut butter.  It is soft and sticky and tastes as good as any ganache.  It doesn't set much so if you want a frosting that will not stick to the roof of a cake tin it might not be for you but if you want a frosting that tastes like melted chocolate, embrace it.  Since making it for the first time, I have made two different versions of it. 

And finally let us return to the surprisingly sweet and smoky nature of this brownie.  When it was hot, the smoky flavours were not overly noticeable.  Once cooled and stored in a cake time, the flavours strengthened.  Taking the lid off, the cake would hit you with smoky scents.  Which feels all wrong as you look at a chocolate cake.  Take a bite and you are hit with the flavour of the smoked walnuts.  Then as you continue to chew on the cake, the sweet chocolate flavours make themselves known.  The sweetness is all the more pleasing for the smoky start.  It is a strange yet exhilarating experience.

The last comment on the cake is a note on cake plates.  As a child we only ever used a round cake tin or a loaf tin.  Perhaps that is why I now only have round or oblong cake plates.  I mentioned to E that I need a square cake plate.  He tells me they are unnatural.  Yet when a cake it this good, it deserves a fitting plate.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #12, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

More vegan chocolate bakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Zucchini chocolate brownie with smoky nutty ganache topping
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan

1/2 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates (about 6)
3/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup rice bran oil, or other neutral flavoured oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup cocoa 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (not drained)
1/4 cup smoked walnut pieces, optional

Chocolate Nut Frosting:

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips*
3 tbsp milk (I used soy)
1 tbsp cashew butter or other nut butter

Soak dates in the hot water for half an hour.  Blitz in blender with oil until smooth and creamy.  I used my hand held blender in a jug.

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin.

Scoop date mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in brown sugar, cocoa and salt.  Stir in flour and bicarb soda, then zucchni.  Spread the mixture int the prepared cake tin - it will be quite thick.

Bake cake for about 25 minutes until cooked around the edges and no longer liquid in the middle.  It will still feel quite soft but a skewer inserted in the middle will come out clean.  Cool in the tin.

Tip cooled cake onto cake plate.  Melt choc chips, milk and cashew butter in a small mixing bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds (or melt on the stovetop).  Spread warm chocolate frosting on the cake and scatter with smoked walnuts.

*Note:  I looked up how much this chocolate is by weight, as I often just use a block of chocolate.  It seems to be between 75 and 90 grams.

On the Stereo:
Times Aint What They Used To Be, vol 1: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.