Monday, 15 December 2014

Basic Vegan Fruit Cake + I'm on Instagram!

I used to feel a bit of an instinctive cringe when faced with fruit cake. The fruit cake I ate when I was younger was filled with dried citrus peel, which I dislike, and had a strong alcohol taste. It always seemed like a poor runner-up type of cake (not chocolate!), a cake for grown ups.

I love it now! It's just so festive, isn't it? It tastes like Christmas. I love the spiced flavour of the cake with the dried fruit. Or maybe I'm just old...

The great thing about this recipe is that it's a kind of "build your own" fruit cake. I adapted this recipe from a recipe someone shared with me years ago. You could vary the type and amount of dried fruits you use (more dried fruit for a denser cake), add other ingredients such as nuts or even chocolate and change around the spices.

You could ice the cake with a cinnamon icing (double the recipe for this one if you use it for this cake), a vegan buttercream icing or just sprinkle icing sugar on the top if you're short of time! 

I love using a combination of sultanas, dried blueberries and cranberries in this cake because I'm not a fan of the citrus peel and preservatives found in the standard mixed dried fruit you buy in the supermarket. 

couldn't resist the santa!
This cake takes two hours to bake at a low temperature, but is very easy and quick to prepare.  

Basic Vegan Fruit Cake

3 cups self raising flour
2-4 cups dried fruit (I used 1 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup dried blueberries and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. More dried fruit creates a denser cake)
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 - 2 1/2 tsp of spices (I used 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cardamom)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 2/3 cups water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 heaped tbsp treacle or molasses

Preheat oven to 150C. 

Combine all dry ingredients. Stir in the water, oil and treacle/molasses until just mixed.

Pour into a greased and lined round cake tin (make sure it's deep enough, it's quite a high cake). 

Bake for 2 hours until firm, risen and golden brown. 

On a different note, I'm now on Instagram

One of my best friends from high school (she has nearly 30K followers!) signed me up when she was visiting recently. I seem to need to be dragged reluctantly towards new technology, but I'll admit that I'm having fun sharing and recording photos of my food that don't warrant a blog post of their own or I just don't have time to blog about. There are so many amazing photos of vegan food in Instagram - as if I needed any more fuel for my cooking obsession!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Vegan Family Lunch

There is a scene in an episode of Six Feet Under where a "crunchy granola" vegan character serves some omnivores a "tofu meatloaf". It is subsequently secretly flushed down the toilet by one of the diners, who then (after one vegan meal) craves to eat something "that has walked the earth" from a fast food restaurant. Sigh! (although I do love the show...)

Well, thankfully my family is not this picky or clich├ęd! Nor am I, for that matter. I generally don't launch into a speech about the global slavery of animals at any chance (not that there's anything wrong with that).  

I've been vegan for about ten years now, so my family and friends are used to vegan food and are open-minded about trying my vegan versions of dishes. Having said this, I do agonise over what I will cook when I'm entertaining! In the end, I seem to cook a combination of new recipes I've had my eye on and tried and true favourites. 

Anyway, here's what I made for my mum and dad for lunch to celebrate Lexie's second birthday (I figure I'll give him a proper party next year when he can actually demand it!).

Starting with the most important (and prettiest) part of the meal, I made this pear frangipane tart from the PPK for dessert.

It was so hot in my kitchen when I was making this, not great when working with margarine, so I had to change around the quantities of a few ingredients. It turned out brilliantly, rich and almondy. 

I served it with the cashew cream from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which is cashews, water, oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt blended until smooth and placed in the freezer to thicken. It was delicious!

My mum also made this amazing vegan cherry cake. I'll be sharing that recipe on the blog soon!

On to the savoury, I made this spinach, mushroom and sun dried tomato quiche from Oh She Glows. I've made this previously with great success. I love it!

I made the always popular sausage rolls from Where's the Beef. The. Best. 

I also made roasted potatoes from this recipe. Lovely and crispy.  

I made my favourite salad at the moment - kale and carrot salad with the balsamic vinaigrette from Appetite for Reduction. I can eat this dressing with a spoon! It's cashews, spring onion, balsamic vinegar, mustard, agave, salt and water blended until smooth.

So there you have it! A lunch that no one flushed down the toilet, to my knowledge...

Monday, 24 November 2014

Raw Rice Pudding

Here's something I've been enjoying for breakfast recently, adapted from a recipe in Rawsome Vegan Baking

It is kind of reminiscent of rice pudding due to the texture of the chia seeds and flavour of the cinnamon and sultanas

In any case, it's a really lovely and quick breakfast!

Raw Rice Pudding (serves 2) (adapted from the Chia Vanilla Pudding in Rawsome Vegan Baking)

1/2 cup soft medjool dates
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 sultanas, or to taste

Blend the dates, almonds and milk until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the chia seeds, cinnamon and sultanas. 

Ideally, let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour before eating. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Vegan Lemon Cheesecake made with millet!

I love it when I discover a new way to use a basic ingredient. A while ago I discovered that you can use uncooked soaked red lentils to make delicious koftas. And now, I know that cooked and blended millet can be used to make an amazing cheesecake!
topped with mango - yum!
You'd never guess that the filling of this cheesecake is made with millet. It has a beautiful light creamy texture, softer than the often firmer texture of raw cheesecakes made with cashews. 

The filling is made with cooked millet, a small amount of cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla. It is not overly sweet but is perfect combined with the crust and fresh fruit. 

The crust is baked first, and is made of oats, walnuts, rice flour, cinnamon, oil and maple syrup.

And best of all - wait for it - Sylvia loved it! She ate hers with icing sugar and mango. I had to leave the room after she asked for a second piece to contain my glee so I didn't turn her off eating it! She actually asked me to take a photo of her half eaten piece for my blog, so here it is:

I had this cheesecake for breakfast this morning. Cheesecake healthy enough for breakfast - enough said!

This recipe for Lemon Teasecake is from Raising Vegetarian Children. I found the recipe for the filling online here (lime juice is used instead of lemon juice) for those interested in trying it with a crust of your choice.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Raw Banana Custard Pie

I made this pie last night in desperation for something sweet and healthy. Also to use up bananas that were going brown!

It was so good. I never get over the seemingly endless magical combinations of ingredients such as dates, nuts and seeds. And this coming from a cupcake fanatic with more than just one sweet tooth! 

The combination of banana and tahini in the filling reminds me of custard for some reason, especially when the pie is eaten before it has frozen too hard. Very silky and smooth. 

This pie comes together really quickly, if you don't count the freezing time. I don't mind fiddly raw sweet recipes if I have the time, but it is nice to make a straightforward one every now and then. 

If I was serving it to people, I would probably double the filling ingredients and decorate the pie with fresh bananas and shredded coconut.

Raw Banana Custard Pie (inspired by Chocolate Banana Cream Pie from Rawsome Vegan Baking)

1 1/2 cups whole nuts (I used combo of cashews, walnuts and almonds)
1 cup soft medjool dates, packed
pinch of salt

2 large bananas
1/4 cup tahini (I used unhulled)
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/8 cup non-dairy milk
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla

To make the base, blend the nuts until they are a coarse powder. Combine with the dates and salt in a food processor until the dough starts sticking together. Press into a cake tin (I used a small round one). 

To make the filling, blend all filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour on top of the base and put in the freezer until firm (about 2 hours). 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Nutty Chocolate Slice

I didn't grow up eating "normal cakes" with spongy layers and fake cream icing. My mum made deliciously rich and dense Hungarian-style cakes loaded with nuts and real chocolate. 

Of course I did love eating these other kinds of cakes at birthday parties, etc - it was such a novelty!

This slice reminds me of my mum's baking. It is quite dense (it has no raising agent) and has a ganache icing. The rice flour gives it a lovely almost grainy texture, which is delicious with the nuttiness of the slice. 

Peter and I loved it and kept stealing pieces each time we walked into the kitchen. Sadly, Sylvia refused to try it (I think it was my enthusiasm - I still haven't learned) and Lexie licked the icing off and threw the remains on the floor with great gusto. But please, trust the adult's reactions!

Nutty Chocolate Slice (adapted from Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies from La Dolce Vegan!)

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup agave nectar (maple syrup would also work)
1/4 cup oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1/4 non-dairy milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup each of whole almonds, walnuts and cashews
pinch of salt

Ganache icing
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
2/3 cup pieces of vegan chocolate

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly oil a cake tin (approx 8 inch).

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, agave, oil, milk and vanilla and put aside.

Place all the nuts in a blender and blend until they are powdery. Stir these into the mixture, along with the flours, cocoa and salt until just mixed. 

Spread the batter into the cake tin (the mixture will be quite thick). 

Bake for 20 minutes - no more or it will dry out. This slice is better slightly undercooked.

To make the icing, heat the oil and milk in a saucepan on the stove until almost bubbling, then add the chocolate pieces and stir around until it's all melted and thick. 

Spread the ganache icing over the slice when slice has cooled. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

No-Bake Raspberry Cream Bars (cashew-free)

I'm one of those people who cooks through a crisis. It's therapeutic and a great distraction. And out of tension and worry, lovely and nourishing food is created.

My dad recently had a pretty major operation and is still in hospital. I created these raspberry cream bars one night to cheer myself up (or numb my anxiety by eating, you be the judge!). 

I love using cashews for raw cheesecake type sweets, but I didn't have any handy this time. Using coconut milk makes these bars lighter and less rich than the standard raw cheesecake, but still lovely and creamy. 

Peanut butter, banana, raspberries and coconut - yum! 

Other recipes containing raspberries from the blog:
Raspberry Cake
Raspberries and Cream Overnight Oats

No-Bake Raspberry Cream Bars

1 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal from a packet as I had some leftover)
2/3 cup soft medjool dates, packed
1/3 cup peanut butter
pinch of salt

1 banana, thinly sliced

1 cup of raspberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
1 cup coconut milk (from tin)
3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp icing sugar (or to taste)
juice of half a lemon

To make the base, put the ground almonds, dates, peanut butter and salt in a food processor and process until the mix sticks together as a dough. Press into your cake tin, cover with the sliced banana and put aside.

To make the topping, blend the raspberries, coconut milk, coconut oil, rice malt syrup, vanilla, icing sugar and lemon until completely smooth. It will be quite runny. Pour this on top of the base.

Put it in the freezer until the topping is set. After about 2 hours, it is set enough to eat but may still be a bit soft. I liked it like this, but it's also nice when left longer in the freezer and the topping has hardened completely. 

Store in the freezer.