January 5, 2014

FRAGRANT VEGAN LAKSA


laksa is one of my favourite quick dishes for when i am stuck for dinner ideas, or craving something creamy and spicy. for some time i have been searching for the perfect paste... this time i think i have found the winner! 

how? 

the paste:

2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
½ teaspoon of sweet paprika
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 brown onion
2 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
5 cashew nuts
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
½ vegetable bouillon cube 
1 cm width strip of dried nori (the sheets used for making sushi) 

add coriander, paprika, cumin and turmeric to a small frying pan – toast over medium heat (cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant). allow to cool

add chilli, onion, lemongrass, ginger, nori, stock cube and spice mix into a processor and process until finely chopped . add the oil and process again until a smooth paste is formed


the rest:

½ medium red capsicum, cut into strips
1 medium carrot, halved lengthways and cut on the bias
1-2 sticks of celery, cut on the bias
1 cup of frozen whole green beans, defrosted
1 stick of soba noodles 
270ml can of coconut cream
½ - 1 cup of vegetable stock
¼ cup of peanuts, roughly chopped and toasted

stirfry the carrot, capsicum and celery in a wok with a little vegetable oil (or dash of water if you are limiting your fat intake). add the green beans, vegetable stock, laksa paste, soba noodles and coconut cream. heat gently until the noodles are cooked. 

serve topped with toasted peanuts – enjoy!

serves 2

December 28, 2013

HOMEMADE SEITAN FAUX TURKEY SUCCESS


despite living in australia, where the weather is likely to be well above 30°c (86°f) on christmas day, my family religiously opt for a hot dinner – in homage to the mother country i guess! having a family that, apart from my mum, do not follow an even remotely vegan diet also adds a little extra ‘heat’ to the day. i am sure anyone that who has been vegan for long enough to have encountered a holiday will know what i mean. especially if you have an uncle like mine, who considers provocation an entertaining pastime!

this year was challenging for many reasons, but surprisingly food was not one of them. my mum and i prepared each component of our hot christmas plate and bought it along to enjoy with the rest of the family. we had the standard steamed greens along with crunchy roast potatoes (that we par boiled and ‘ruffed-up’ before roasting in the oven), homemade sage and onion stuffing, tasty corn pudding and a few slices of homemade seitan ‘turkey’.

having previously bought a commercially made version of faux ‘turkey’, i was stoked to have successfully reproduced my own at home! for anyone seeking another trimming for his or her plate, i definitely recommend giving it a go! the cooking time may seem long, but your seitan ‘turkey’ can be cooking away in the oven whilst you get busy with other christmas preparations.

how?

start by making a seasoning blend containing:
1 tsp of dried sage
¾ tsp of dried thyme
½ tsp of dried majoram
½ tsp of dried rosemary
¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
¼ tsp of black pepper corns

add all ingredients to a dry mill and grind together

next add the following ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth:
150g of silken firm tofu
1 cup of water
1 tsp of salt
½ tsp of black pepper
2 cubes of chicken-style (vegan) bouillon (i use massel brand)
½ tsp of your seasoning blend
½ tsp of garlic powder
½ tsp of onion powder
½ tsp dried thyme

in a large mixing bowl combine the following dry ingredients:
1 ½ cup of glutinous wheat flour
1/3 cup of soy flour (i ground my own dried soy beans to produce a flour)
1 tablespoon of rolled oats
1 tablespoon of polenta

pour the wet mix over the dry mix and knead together for 2-3 minutes. set aside for 1-2 hours.

preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F).

take a 60 cm x 30 cm piece of muslin cloth and fold in half (to form a square). wet and ring out the cloth and layout on your bench. roll your seitan ‘turkey’ into a short log shape and place into the middle of your muslin cloth. roll up the seitan loaf like you are wrapping a sweet (twisting the sides to tighten the cloth). place the wrapped loaf in a soufflé dish or other small baking dish. if you are using a soufflé dish it may be a good idea to place this into a larger roaster to avoid any drips or spills in the oven.

now prepare a seasoned broth containing:
2-2.5 cups of hot water
1 tsp of black pepper
½ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp of onion powder
½ tsp of your seasoning blend
½  tsp of dried thyme
2 cubes of chicken-style (vegan) bouillon

pour the seasoned broth over the seitan loaf, cover the soufflé dish with an oven safe plate (to hold the loaf down and reduce evaporation of your broth) and place the roasting dish into the oven. reduce the heat immediately to 120°C (250°F) and leave to cook for 3 hours.

remove from the oven and transfer your loaf to a cooking rack. once cool, remove the muslin. you can now slice your seitan ‘turkey’ and reheat for serving (or enjoy it cold). i rubbed my seitan ‘turkey’ loaf with a little oil and left over seasoning blend before roasting it in a moderate oven for 20 minutes to make a crispy skin.

serves 4-6

VEGAN CERTOSINO (SPICED ITALIAN FRUIT CAKE)



this vegan spiced fruit cake is a christmas staple in my house. vegan or not, even fruit-cake-lover or not, this certosino will blow you away with its blend of fennel seeds, cinnamon, bitter chocolate and aromatic marsala!

how? 

75g of raisins (or sultanas)
30 ml of marsala (i used a fruity white (vegan-friendly) port)
350g of plain flour
2 tsp of bicarbonate soda
150g of rice malt syrup
150g of raw caster sugar
40g of nuttelex (or other vegan butter alternative)
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
375g of apples (2-2.5 medium red apples), roughly grated
200g of blanched almonds, roughly chopped
50g of pine nuts
75g of dark bitter (dairy-free) chocolate (i used whittakers), roughly chopped
75g of walnuts, roughly chopped

soak the raisins in the marsala for 20-30 minutes (you could also leave them overnight if you have the time). preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

add the rice malt syrup, sugar, nuttelex and water to a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. add the fennel seeds and cinnamon. combine the flour and bicarbonate soda in a large mixing bowl. pour the spiced sugar mix over the flour and stir to combine. 

add the remaining ingredients, including the raisins with their soaking liquid, and stir to combine. spoon the mix into a lined 25cm springform cake tin and place into the oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour (or until a screwer comes out clean - keeping in mind that the chocolate will melt and may skew this assessment). keep an eye on your cake if it needs the full 1 hour, covering it at the 45 minute mark to avoid the top from getting too browned. 

once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool. 



to finish your certosino:

4 tablespoons of apricot jam, or orange marmalade
1/2 - 1 cup of blanched almonds (pecan halves would also work nicely)
1/2 cup of glacé cherries (or other glacé fruits of your choice), halved

once cool, heat a little apricot jam or orange marmalade in a small saucepan and, using a pastry brush, paint the glaze over the top of your cake. use this sticky surface to 'glue' on some glacé fruit and blanched almond 'decorations'. brush the remaining glaze over your decorated cake. 

serve a thin slice of your gorgeous certosino with a small glass of rich fruity liqueur, espresso or even a cup of tea - merry christmas everyone! 

November 5, 2013

TOFU, KALE + BROCCOLI BOWL


after a “blah” day at work i felt that some comfort food was in order! ok, sure!… so salads aren’t in most people’s comfort food category but this one is hearty, flavourful and - with a 90’s classic french-onion-dip style dressing – ticks all the boxes for me.

plus – despite having only six main components – this salad bowl packs in over 50g of protein, a solid dose of key minerals calcium and zinc, and a bounty of phytochemicals – winner!


how?

1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 cup of cooked lentils
1 cup of broccoli florets
2 cups of kale, roughly shredded
2 tablespoons of raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 block of tofu, cubed

for the dressing…

¼ cup of vegan sour cream (I used toffuti)
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
½ teaspoon of onion powder

pan fry the tofu until golden brown and set aside. sauté off the kale and broccoli until tender (but retaining a little bite and their vibrant colour). toss it all together and drizzle over the creamy french onion style dressing – enjoy!

serves 2

November 4, 2013

MIDDLE-EAST INSPIRED SALAD BOWL


i was a little disorganised and lacking motivation tonight... so a creamy cashew based dressing was off the cards. instead i tried a vegan mayo + baharat spice mix blend dressing with my middle eastern (or more so mediterranean) salad bowl medley and was pleasantly surprised. 
how? 

1/2 cup of red capsicum, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
6 medium cos lettuce leaves, roughly shredded
2 cups of brown rice, cooked
1 cup of lentils, cooked
6-8 olive, sliced (i used kalamata as this was all i had on hand... but green would work great!)
2 tablespoons of raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup of vegan mayonnaise (i used praise 99% fat free mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon of baharat (i will post the recipe for this shortly for those keen to blend their own)
sprinkling of nigella seeds (optional) 

blend the mayo and spice mix together. toss everything together. dig in!

serves 2

November 3, 2013

PROBIOTIC + PROTEIN POWER BOWL


with over 50g of protein [per serve], 885mg of calcium [per serve] and a probiotic punch - this power bowl is not only super healthy but super tasty and super satisfying! 

how? 

1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 cup of cooked puy (a.k.a french) lentils (i whacked mine in the pressure cooker with a few bay leaves for 10 minutes) 
400g block of extra firm tofu, cubed and pan fried (i drizzled mine with a little black cherry vincotto for a bit more bite)
2-3 cups of roughly shredded cos lettuce
** amended - 1/2 cup of cucumber, diced

for the dressing... 

2 tablespoons of miso paste (i used white)
2 tablespoons of tahini (i used hulled)
1 small clove of garlic
1/4 to 1/3 cup of water

blend all dressing ingredients together in a wet mill (or with a bamix) until thoroughly combined. toss everything together with a generous drizzling of the dressing and enjoy! 

serves 2

BEET + LENTIL SALAD W/ GARLICKY CASHEW DRESSING


after a few unpredictably wet and cooler days... october has finally started to heat up! in keeping with the warmer weather (and my default ♥ of salads) i piled up some nutty brown rice, thyme-infused green/brown lentils, refreshing cucumber slices, crisp cos lettuce leaves, julienned raw beets and a generous dolloping of punchy, creamy, garlicky dressing - yum! 

how? 

2 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of cooked green/brown lentils (i whacked mine in the pressure cooker with a few sprigs of fresh thyme - kindly donated from a friends front garden - for 8 mins) 
2 cups of cucumber slices (i like mine cut on the bias with a bit of the seeds removed - which i snack on whilst prepping the rest of my salad)
8-12 baby cos lettuce leaves, roughly torn or cut on a bias
1 fresh medium beetroot, thinly julienned on a V-slicer/mandolin 

for the dressing...
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of spring onions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of cashews, soaked and drained
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes

place all your dressing ingredients into a small food processor (i used a bamix and wet mill) and blend until smooth. you can use it straight away or store in the fridge for later (the dressing in my photo was from the day before and has thickened up from being in the fridge). 

pile up the layers, or toss to combine - top with a generous dolloping of dressing and dig in! 

serves 2 for a filling main or 4 for those less hungry/entrée-size meal

November 1, 2013

"ISA DOES IT"'S CURRIED PEANUT SAUCE BOWL


this tofu and kale (i used silverbeet [a.k.a swiss chard]) combo is such a winner. i am a big fan of satay - so i was sold from the get-go! if you haven't already grabbed your copy of isa's book then definitely hit up your fav book store and get this one on your shelf a-sap!

if you are anything like me, you may have trouble not 'taste-testing' the sauce so much that you almost run short when it comes time for smothering your crispy tofu and wilted greens - but, if willpower prevails you will be rewarded with a tangy, creamy, dish to-die-for! 

October 27, 2013

RAW DECADENT DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHEESECAKE


october marks the end of birthdays for the year in my family. so i felt it fitting to go out with a bang! with no nasty refined carbohydrates and a decent whack of heart-healthy nuts, antioxidant rich raw cacao and some all-round vitamin-and-mineral-good-guys, this rich and decadent double choc cherry 'cheesecake' was super easy to make and fits the bill for a healthy dessert (if there is such a thing). 

how?

for the base…
1 ¾ cups of raw almonds
½ cup of raw buckwheat
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
¼ teaspoon of cherry oil
1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder
¾ cup of raisins


for the filling…
3 cups of cashews, soaked for 1 hour, drained
1/3 cup of raw dark agave syrup
6 prunes, pitted
½ cup of fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of water
½ teaspoon of cherry oil
1 cup of coconut oil
¾ cup of raw cacao powder


add the almonds, buckwheat and salt to a food processor. blitz until coarsely ground. add the cacao powder, raisins and cherry oil. blend until the mixture comes together. (you may need to add 1 teaspoon of water if the mix is a little dry). press into a 9-inch springform pan lined with baking paper. place in the freezer whilst you make the filling.

add the soaked cashews, prunes, lemon juice, agave and water and blend until smooth – scarping down the side of the processor bowl as required. add the coconut oil, raw cacao and cherry extract and process until creamy. pour the filling onto the base and freeze until set.

remove the cheesecake from the freezer at least 1 hour before serving. for a little extra glam, top with mashed berries and a drizzle of agave – yum!


makes one 9-inch/23cm cheesecake (enough to serve 16-20)

SPICY LENTIL SOUP W/ PUMPKIN, TOMATO + SNOW PEAS


if you are a fan of spicy flavours and looking for something to warm you up, this sambar is a delicious dish that will tick all the boxes. you can hearty it up with a serving of brown rice or enjoy this flavoursome soup all on its own. 

how?


1.5 L of water
100g of red lentils, rinsed
1 small brown onion, diced
100g of carrots, diced into 2cm pieces
100g of pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2 cm pieces 
100g of snow peas (or green beans), cut into 2cm lengths
1 medium tomato, diced
1 ½ teaspoons of turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of salt



for the masala…
50ml of canola oil 
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
10 dried curry leaves
1 teaspoon of asafoetida



for the tarka…
2 teaspoons of canola oil, extra
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons of fenugreek seeds



bring the water to the boil in a large pot. add the red lentils, onion, carrots, pumpkin and tomato and lower the heat to a simmer. cook uncovered for 30 minutes. add the snow peas, turmeric, sugar and salt and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. 


add the fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, dried chilli and curry leaves to a spice grinder. grind to a rough powder. heat the oil for the masala in a frying pan over medium heat. add the spice blend and asafoetida and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. stir the paste into the pot of vegetables. 


heat the oil for the tarka in a frying pan over medium heat. add the onion, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry off for 10 minutes. add to the vegetables and stir to combine. 



serve as a soup or, for a more filling meal, over rice. 



serves 4-6

October 14, 2013

GÖZLEME W/ SILVERBEET + CASHEW FETA


for those who are not familiar with this tasty turkish dish - gözleme (pronouced goes-leh-meh) are hand-rolled bread-like pockets filled with a variety of ingredients, which then are cooked on a hotplate. perfect for entertaining or as a delicious homemade 'takeout' treat, these gözleme are packed full of goodness - such as vitamins C, A, K, and the B-group; as well as iron and a good dose of omega-3s. 

you will need about 40-45 minutes all up - from set up to chow down

how?

for the dough …

1 ½ cups of white flour
pinch of salt
150ml of warm water
4g of dry yeast
½ teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil

for the filling… 

5-6 large silverbeet (swiss chard) leaves, shredded 
½ medium leek, diced 
3 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon of olive oil 
pinch of salt 

for the cashew feta…

½ cup of raw cashew pieces 
1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes 
pinch of salt 
1 tablespoon of water 
½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar 

combine the water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture forms bubbles. sift the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl, add the salt, yeast mixture and olive oil. bring together and knead for 5 minutes to form an elastic dough. divide the dough into two balls, return them to your mixing bowl and cover with a clean tea towel before setting them aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes to double in size.

sauté the garlic and leek in a large cast iron pan (this will add extra iron to your food) with the olive oil. add the shredded silverbeet and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until wilted. remove from the pan and set aside until you are ready to fill your gözleme. wipe out your cast iron pan ready for cooking your gözleme
add all your cashew feta ingredients to the bowl of a small food processor (or wet/dry mill) and blitz together. 

once your dough has doubled, roll out one of the balls to rectangle of 2-3mm thickness. place half your silverbeet mix at one end of your rectangle. dollop on some of your cashew feta. bring the other side of the rectangle over the top of your filling and seal the parcel by rolling in the edges. 

heat the olive oil in your pan over a medium-high heat, add the gözleme and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

remove from the pan and cut into diagonal slices. serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the top of your crispy gözleme – yum!

serves 4

October 2, 2013

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD W/ CESAR CHAVEZ DRESSING


simple but oh-so-delicious! this is a fab way of incorporating cauli into your day. with a quick bake in the oven, this roasted cauliflower salad will put a smile on your face. toss some roughly torn cos lettuce leaves into a bowl, top with 1/2 a cup of your fav wholegrain (i used burgal), whack on some of that amaze roasted cauli and smother (in moderation of course) with cesar chavez dressing (from the amazing isa chandra's appetite for reduction). get ready to swoon!

July 11, 2013

SPICY MORROCAN PUMPKIN + WHITE BEAN TAGINE


winter has really set in. today was rainy and dreary, so i spent my most of my lunch break sitting in the lunch room with a few of my colleagues staring blankly out of the window at the drizzle.

between extended silences of quiet day-dreaming we chatted about the weather and how "we need the rain"... it was good to be inside out of the weather... but work dragged! so it was nice to come home to a steamy bowl of spicy pumpkin and white bean tagine, my little old cat and a pair of fluffy socks.

how?

1 onion, diced
1 tablespoons of oil (i used canola)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
500ml of vegetable stock
2 carrots, diced
240g pumpkin, diced
1 cup of frozen green beans, thawed
12 prunes, halved (and pitted if you have unpitted prunes)
400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to season
½ a preserved lemon, diced (optional)

for the spice mix…
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom

for the couscous…
1 cup of couscous
1 cup of boiling water

sauté the onion in the oil until translucent. add the garlic, ginger and the spices, cook until fragrant. add the carrots and pumpkin. add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. cook for 15 minutes (or until vegetables are tender. add the green beans, prunes and butter beans. cook until heated through. season with salt and pepper and add in the preserved lemon.

pour the boiling water over the couscous, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. fluff with a fork before serving.

serves 4

PALAK TOFU


ever heard of palak paneer? well here is the delicious vegan alternative to that gorgeously green indian dish! served with brown rice, this dish packs in plenty of protein, all-important iron, as well as manganese, vitamins A + K, and magnesium. 

how? 

1 block of firm tofu, cubed
1/2 brown onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoon of garam masala
1 packet of frozen spinach (200g), thawed
1/2 to 1 cup of vegetable stock
2 cm chunk of ginger, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon of ground chilli powder
1 teaspoon of oil (i used canola)

fry off your tofu in the oil in a medium saute pan until golden brown. remove and set aside. add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute until translucent. add the turmeric, garam malasa and chilli powder and stir to combine. add the spinach, ginger and enough vegetable stock to bring the spinach mix together into a 'sauce'. cook for 5-6 minutes until thick and saucy. return the tofu to the pan and stir to coat and heat through. 

serve with some deliciously nutty brown rice - yum!

serves 2

July 10, 2013

TANGY VEGAN LAKSA W/ TOFU


its winter down-under and that means its time to whip out the ol' stock pot and get creative with some hearty winter-warmers! i am a laksa fan and this one is really simple to pull together if you have some asian flavours on hand

how?

1/2 brown onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 carrot, sliced 
1 small potato, diced
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (or 1 small thai chilli, finely sliced)
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
5-6 kaffir lime leaves (i have a tree in my courtyard that i steal a few off)
5 cm chunk of lemongrass, finely sliced
5 cm chuck of fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
1/2 tin of coconut cream (135mL)
500mL of vegetable stock
1 block of tofu, cubed
bunch of fresh coriander
1 teaspoon of oil (i used canola)

saute off the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. add the potato and cook for 2-3 minutes. add the carrot, capsicum, turmeric, ground coriander, chilli, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves. cook for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavours. add the stock and bring to the boil. reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. add the tofu and coconut cream and cook until heated through (don't boil). stir through the fresh coriander and serve on top of some fluffy jasmine rice - enjoy!

serves 4