Friday, 27 July 2012

Cheater Pad Thai

At the moment, I'm loving week day dinners that I can prepare in half an hour or less. 

Some days I feel inspired to make more involved meals that Sylvia enjoys helping me with, such as these pierogi with mushroom filling:

But usually, there are so many other things to do like play games with Sylvia or sneak a solitary walk when my partner gets home. Nope, nothing practical like cleaning the house!

This is one such quick and tasty meal.

I started off making the Pad Thai recipe from Vegan Planet. It is a great recipe but over the years I've changed it quite a bit based on our tastes and the ingredients we usually have on hand. This is one of our standard dinners, and is usually a hit with Sylvia too!

Cheater Pad Thai (Serves 4-5)
(inspired by Robin Robertson's Pad Thai in Vegan Planet)

3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 block of tofu (about 350 grams), cut into small cubes
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 small bunch of scallions/spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
half a red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 carrot, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 packet of rice noodles

2-3 tbsp natural peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
about 1/4 cup of water to thin it out

Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the packet, drain and set aside.

Fry tofu in 1 tbsp of oil until lightly browned and add 1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce. Stir around a bit and set aside. 

In a separate large saucepan, fry the vegetables in 2 tbsp of oil until cooked to taste.

While vegetables are cooking, mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. My measurements for this are not exact - I just taste as I'm going and try to reach a nice balance. 

Add the noodles, tofu and sauce to the vegetables and stir around until heated through.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Vegan Goodies

Like Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh, I recently visited the new Cruelty Free Shop on Glebe Point Road in Glebe (Sydney) and picked up some vegan goodies.

It is so exciting (and slightly dangerous) to go into a shop where I can buy anything! They have a fantastic selection of vegan food and other products and I really hope they do well and are supported by the community.

Here is our loot:

Soy chocolate milk for Sylvia, plain soy yogurt, cookies and cream ice cream made with coconut milk, white choc chips, chocolate bar, lip gloss and peanut butter cups (empty packet!)
We didn't quite manage to photograph everything before we ate it...
Empty packet of vegan ham
We also bought some raspberry jelly crystals, which I forgot to take a picture of. Sylvia had been asking for jelly for ages because a character in one of the stories we read eats a "big bowl of strawberries and red jelly". Funnily enough, she wasn't at all interested in trying it (maybe I overdid the excitement), but it didn't go to waste!

The ice cream made with coconut milk was divine. I like that it is soy free and doesn't have any nasty artificial things in there.

I was surprised at how much I liked the "ham" as I'm not normally one for the fake meats. It was great on sandwiches with mustard and pickles... or is that my pregnancy talking?

I used the white chocolate chips in these "Banana Everything Cookies" from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and they were delicious.

Does anyone have other ideas on how to use white chocolate chips?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Apricot Ripe Slice - toddler approved

I used to love Cherry Ripe bars when I was little. These bars reminded me a bit of them, except of course that I used dried apricots and they are reasonably healthy! 

These are so simple to make and we found them to be a great snack on the run. Sylvia absolutely loved these bars - partly I think because I called it "chocolate slice" and she loves anything chocolate. Whatever works! She's pretty picky with her food these days, so I was happy that she liked something containing dried apricots.

Apricot Ripe Slice (adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe's Apricot Delight)

250g dried apricots, chopped (I used organic)
3/4 cup boiling water
2-3 tbsp rice malt syrup (you can buy it at Coles)
1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
1 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted

Place half the apricots, the boiling water and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan. Soak for about an hour. Bring to the boil and gently simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. 

Puree apricots in a blender and add the rest of the apricots and the coconut. Spread into a lined square cake tin. 

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove and spread over the top of the apricot mixture.

Put in the fridge or freezer until set and cut into bars.

We kept these in the fridge, but they only lasted a day or so!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Brown Rice Sushi

I overcame my irrational fear of the bamboo sushi rolling mat and made some brown rice sushi the other day. It worked, and it was delicious!

The thing I wish I had known about sushi before is that it still turns out fine even when you roll it pretty badly like I did. To think of all these wasted years that I haven't been making sushi! It is such a fresh, light and yummy dinner. And the filling options are endless.

I followed the tips here about seasoning the rice and making the ponzu dipping sauce. I also included the "sanctuary dressing" from Appetite for Reduction in the filling, made with silken tofu, a touch of mayonnaise and some other seasonings. It added a lovely tang if you like that mayonnaise-y taste in your sushi like I do.

Brown Rice Sushi

Brown rice

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar  


1-2 avocados, cut in strips
1 red capsicum, cut in strips
lettuce, shredded
2 cucumbers, cut in strips
a packet of shittake mushrooms, sliced and fried in a bit of oil
"sanctuary dressing" from Appetite for Reduction 

 Ponzu sauce for dipping 

3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp mirin 

Other stuff

5-6 sushi nori sheets
Bamboo rolling mat

Bring rice and water to the boil, then simmer until cooked (about 40 minutes).

While rice is cooking, prepare filling ingredients and make ponzu dipping sauce. 

Combine mirin, sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir into the rice when it is cooked and set aside to cool (my rice was still a bit warm when I made the sushi and it turned out fine).

Put a nori sheet onto the bamboo mat, spread a layer of rice over the sheet leaving a little space along the top edge, add fillings and roll the mat away from you, pressing firmly. Dab on a bit of water to seal. Repeat as necessary!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tasty tales

As I mentioned in the last post, Theresa passed on the Food Stories blog award to me which asks that the recipient share some random facts about themselves as well as pass the award on to five other bloggers. So here are a few of my random facts...

Before Sylvia was born, I ran some community vegan cooking classes. It was such a rewarding and fun experience to connect with new people and share plant-based food ideas with them. I would love to do it again one day. 
I've always liked pretty unusual combinations of food. But now that I'm pregnant again I think my tastes are actually more subdued. Does this snack of apple, peanut butter, strawberry and sultanas seem odd to you?
At the moment, I'm enjoying Sylvia's imaginative games. Most of them are related to cooking and food, such as this "picnic" with "chocolate chip biscuits" made from play dough.  
I love cupcakes, making and eating them... need I say more? Here are some Christmas cupcakes we made at my cooking classes.
Here are the great blogs I'd like to nominate:

Friday, 6 July 2012

Birthday cake and recipe testing

Computer problems have stopped me from blogging for a while, but hopefully the technical issues are solved and my computer will cooperate from now on!

I've been looking for an excuse to make this cake for ages, and my partner's birthday was the perfect occasion.

I present the 'Beesting' cake, along with Sylvia's delicately placed candles:

It has an almond toffee on the top, a custard filling and the cake has almond meal in it. It looks pretty and is quite light, but still feels indulgent.

This is one of Leigh Drew's recipes from her book Vegan Indulgence. I've also volunteered to do some recipe testing for Leigh for her upcoming 'around the world' vegan cookbook.

It is so much fun trying these recipes, which have so far been mostly Indian and Pakistani inspired. They are quite different to the food I normally cook. I don't generally use chilli in our food because of Sylvia and I guess I haven't come across such exciting recipes for vegan versions of food from this region of the world. Eating these dishes is like having a night out in a great restaurant, not something that really happens with a two year old!

Here are the dishes I've cooked so far:
Baigan Bharta (Eggplant curry)

"Butter" Tofu

Aloo Gobi

Mamoul (shortbread stuffed with pistashios and walnuts)
Lastly, thank you to Theresa from the Tropical Vegan for passing along the Food Stories Blog award. I've been following Theresa's blog for years and I always love reading it, so it's a lovely surprise! I will be sharing some random facts about myself in the next post...