Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Delicious odds and ends

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

Overnight Oat Parfaits

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

Chocolate Covered Apricots

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

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

Friday, 25 May 2012

Golden Syrup Dumplings

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

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

Golden Syrup Dumplings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sweeter side of life

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

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

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

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Tangy Bean Wraps

These wraps were our favourite dinner in a while. Sometimes I get sick of stew-type meals served with rice or pasta, so these were a welcome change. 

The bean filling tastes much more interesting than the bare ingredients would suggest. It has a kind of tangy Mexican flavour from the lime juice and cumin, and tastes delicious with fresh tomato and lettuce!

Sylvia loved these. She concentrated very hard on arranging the filling in her wrap and she managed to eat most of the wrap before it unraveled.

They are pretty quick to make. Making the wraps takes a little bit of time, but they are so easy. You could use store bought wraps if you're pressed for time. 

Tangy Bean Wraps


3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tin of mixed beans
juice of 1 lime
1/2 - 1 tsp cumin
salt to taste

Fry onion and garlic in oil until lightly browned. Add the beans, lime juice, cumin and salt and cook for a further few minutes. Transfer into a blender and puree (you can leave it a bit chunky if you prefer). 

White Flour Wraps (based on flat bread recipe from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson - great book!)

2 cups white all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water, approx

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add just enough water to bring the mixture into a dough. Knead for a few minutes and divide into six portions. Roll each out into a circle, stretch a bit with your hands, and fry in a bit of oil (I add a bit of oil before frying each one) until lightly brown on each side. 

Put the bean filling in a wrap with chopped fresh tomato and lettuce, roll and devour!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Cinnamon Buns

We had friends arriving in two hours and the house was a complete mess, so of course I decided to make not only something I'd never made before, but something involving yeast - cinnamon buns!

I made them from this recipe, which is actually about 4 pages long when printed out! I do like to have precise instructions, but I also rarely have time to read them very thoroughly and really take advantage of every detail. 

I think that these buns would have been perfect if only I'd left them in the oven for a bit longer. I baked them for slightly longer than the instructions prescribed, but they were a bit doughy and slightly undercooked although they were lightly browned on the top. They were still pretty yummy and I had no complaints from anyone eating them! I would definitely make them again, just bake them for longer and maybe add some sultanas and ground nuts to the mix.

I didn't have any Tofutti cream cheese in the house so I made this icing out of icing sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and soy milk, which turned out really well.

This recipe calls for quite a lot of Earth Balance margarine, which is not available in Australia so I substituted it with Nuttelex. I wonder if this made a difference? Has anyone else had experience with this?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Rice Paper Rolls and Play School

Play School is Sylvia's favourite TV show. I have to say that I love it too. The hosts are so energetic and enthusiastic, it's kind of contagious. They do lots of great cooking on there such as fruit salad, sandwiches, salads, wraps, muffins, jam and ... rice paper rolls!

We haven't made rice paper rolls for a while and I was only reminded of their existence when they made them on an episode of Play School - sad but true!

Anyway, I forgot how simple, fresh and delicious they are. I've made them a few times recently when we've had someone over for lunch and they've been a great success. Mine don't look too pretty, but I'm pleased enough when they hold together and it's the taste that counts!

Having seen them on Play School, Sylvia is always excited to make them. She enjoys the process of putting all the different ingredients in the roll, sampling along the way, and most importantly dipping them into the soy dipping sauce (she is an absolute salt fiend). 

a bit of a dark photo, but you get the idea!

 Rice Paper Rolls

1 packet of Vietnamese rice paper rolls
2 carrots, grated
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into sticks
1 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 avocado, cup into strips
bunch of coriander, chopped 
block of tofu, prepared as detailed below
half a packet of rice vermicelli noodles, cooked as per instructions

Dipping sauce

A mix of tamari/soy sauce and maple syrup is a lovely and simple dipping sauce - Sylvia's favourite one. You can also add ginger, garlic, peanut, chilli, vinegar, whatever you like. I also really like just plain old sweet chilli sauce from the bottle as a dipping sauce.

Cook your noodles and cut tofu into strips. Fry tofu in a bit of vegetable oil for a few minutes until they are turning golden brown, then add a few dashes of tamari/soy sauce and cook for another minute. Take off heat and line up with the rest of your filling ingredients.

Soak rice paper rolls in hot/warm water as per packet instructions until a bit soft (but not too soft or they will rip), fill them and roll! You get into some sort of rhythm as you go.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Vegan Fried Rice with Omelette

I should probably call this dish un-fried-rice-with-pretend-omelette-and-only-vegetables-that-Sylvia-will-eat-at-the-moment but it's not very catchy...

It is funny because Sylvia wouldn't even taste it after I'd made a point of only putting her favourite veggies in there! Next time I'll add carrots and peas.

These omelettes are really delicious, especially served with fried mushrooms for breakfast. I think they make a great addition to this dish. They're made with silken tofu, chickpea (besan) flour and a few other things and have quite an eggy texture but in a good way. It's another one of those recipes, like the sausage rolls, where unlikely ingredients create a pleasant and unexpected result!

What are your favourite rice dishes?

Vegan Fried Rice with Omelette

2 cups basmati rice, cooked
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
knob of ginger, minced
2 cups chopped mushrooms
corn from 2 cobs of corn
1 vegan omelette, chopped up
2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce
salt to taste

In a large saucepan, fry garlic, ginger and vegetables in the oil. 

While veggies are cooking, make the omelette as per instructions and set aside to cool.

While on low heat, add the rice, tamari and salt and stir together. Add the omelette and give another quick stir, and you're done! 

Note: You may want to add a little more/less oil according to your taste, but don't skimp too much because the oil makes it taste more like fried rice!