Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie

Something I really miss since going dairy free is ricotta or feta and spinach pastries. I often use to buy one for a quick breakfast before work. However all that dairy was not doing my hips a favor. This version has creamy texture and mild cheesy flavor of ricotta without the lactose and casein. The filling would also work well in a hand held filo pastries, which can be prepared in batches and froze before being baked fresh.

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Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

3 cups tuscan kale leaves, chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

375g firm tofu

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon white or barley miso paste

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2 cup vegan mozzarella or cheddar (I used Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

7 filo pastry sheets

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil a fry pan on medium heat. Sauté the tuscan kale leaves in a few batches. Only cook the leaves for a few minutes until they start to wilt, then place on a dish or a tray to cool down.

3. Use the same fry pan to sauté the chopped brown onions, until they are transparent. Place the onion on a dish to cool down.

4. Place the onion, garlic, and tofu in a processor. As it blending add the sea salt, black pepper, miso paste, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast. Blend until the onions and garlic are broken down and the mixture becomes like a moist crumbly ricotta texture.

5. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir through the tuscan kale and vegan cheese. Add more salt and pepper if you need.

6. Take a 20cm-round springform pan and brush the base and sides with with some olive oil.Take 1 sheet of filo sheet and place on a flat surface. Brush the filo with olive oil, then place the oiled side on the base of the pan, letting the edges hang over the edge. Repeat this, layering 5 more sheets on top of each other in a clockwise pattern.

7. Place the tofu ricotta and kale filling in the centre of the pan, making sure its equally distributed.

8. Scrunch the sides of the filo sheets to form a border around the filling.

9. Brush another sheet of pastry with oil on both sides, then scrunch the sheet over one side of the filling, within the pastry border. Repeat with another sheet on the other side of the filling.

10. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan and serving.

*Serves 6

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Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions

After seeing my naturapath yesterday I realised I really have to amp up my bean intake and make more of an effort to combine plant-based proteins for the baby. As much as I love eating beans I always forget to put them to soak the night. Although I don’t enjoy lentils as much, they are really handy when you have limited time and are out of bpa free canned beans (which I have been relying on). I was also craving pearl couscous after that delicious dish I had from East Elevation a few days ago in Melbourne.

This dish was inspired by Mujaddara but with a few alterations. I used pearl couscous for a different texture and some kale and pepitas seeds for an extra nutritional boost. This dish usually calls for crispy fried onions on top, but I decided to not over cook the onions, to  leave as much nutrients as possible. It was a delicious combination. I hope my little one is enjoying some new flavours.

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 Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green lentils (you only need 1 cup of cooked lentils, so cook 1 cup dry for leftovers)

2 cups diced brown onion (about 1.5 onions)

olive oil

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pearl couscous

1.5 cup liquid vegetable stock (chicken or veg flavoured)

2 cups sliced kale, tightly packed (about 2 large kale leaves, large stems removed)

3 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Place the green lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and bring the boil. Then place on a simmer and cook until tender. Once cooked leave to the side.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion. Cook on a low to medium heat until the onions have browned and caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes. Once they are browned remove from the skillet and place to the side.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, all spice and sea salt. Cook for a future 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the couscous and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender. Add more stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and then add the kale. Lightly saute until the kale has wilted and is a vibrant green colour.

6. Toast the pepitas seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop a little then place to the side.

7. Make sure the couscous is off the heat and then add 1 cup of cooked green lentils, 2/3 of the caramelized brown onions and kale to the pot. Stir through.

8. Serve the couscous with extra carmelized onion and toasted pepitas seeds.

*Serve as a main for 3 or as a side for 4

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Winter Warm Risottos

Unless your living in Brisbane you probably don’t believe me that I am freezing right now. Winter in the sunshine state is has become bone chilling. To stay warm I’ve been drinking lots of herbal teas and warm meals of roasted vegetables, soups and risottos. These are a couple non traditional risotto’s that I have been enjoying over the past week.

I’ve never added quinoa to a risotto before. But I often cook a quinoa brown rice blend which is delicious and a pain to clean out of the rice cooker. Quinoa gives an extra protein kick to this risotto and doesn’t compromise the taste at all.

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Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/4 kent or butternut pumpkin, sliced into thin pieces

1/2 large or 1 small head of garlic

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1 cup quinoa

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

italian parsley to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.

2. Place pumpkin and garlic head in an baking tray and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until both are soft.  Once both are cooked well place in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Keep it aside to add to the risotto.

3. Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

4. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion. Cook till it softens

5. Add aborbio rice and quinoa to pot and let it toast for a few minutes.

6. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

7. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock to the rice and constantly stir. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice and quinoa is cooked

8. Add the mashed pumpkin and garlic. Stir through and then add baby spinach. Continue to stir until the baby spinach has wilted.

9. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and season with extra seasalt and black pepper. Serve with some chopped parsley.

*Serves 4

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Cauliflower has historically been one of my most hated vegetables from birth. My mum use to steam or microwave it with cheese and bechamel. I never liked cheese and always found cauliflower to be strange in texture and bland in taste. But I have a new love for cauliflower now. I love using it in Italian pasta dishes to coat pasta. It also tastes amazing in soups, on pizza, roasted and in a pie.  Here are some of my favourite cauliflower dishes that get the Marco tick of approval.

Pasta al Cavolfiore

Penne al Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza

Roasted Cauliflower, Beets, Capsicum and Chickpeas with Tahini Sumac Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

Broccoli & Cauliflower Pakoras

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

For this Cauliflower Risotto I used both the stalks and florets of the cauliflower.  I diced the stalks and sautéed them with the onions and added the florets to the vegetable stock which I ladled to cook the risotto. I stole this idea from Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower risotto (Risotto ai cavalfiori). Its a great way not to waste any of that cauliflower goodness.

Oh and by the way in case you haven’t tried Kale with Pine nuts and Raisins put it on your to do list. The bitter, sweet and nutty flavors make it one of my favourite side dishes and goes great on top of this Cauliflower Risotto.

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Cauliflower Risotto topped with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins 

Cauliflower Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups arborio rice

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 medium cauliflower, dice stalks and chop the florets, keeping each separate

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

handful italian parsley leaves, diced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper

Method:

1.Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and cauliflower florets and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

2. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic and diced cauliflower stalk. Cook for a couple of mintues.

3. Add aborbio rice and let it toast for a few minutes.

4. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

5. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock with the cauliflower florets to the rice. Stir constantly and mash the cauliflower florets as it cooks. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice  is cooked

6. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and italian parsley. Season with extra sea salt and black pepper.

7. Serve with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (recipe below)

*Serves 4

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Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

bunch tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons

1-2 tablespoons golden raisins

1-2 tablespoons pinenuts

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Then add the garlic cook for about a minute

2. Add the kale, raisins and pine nuts. Saute until the kale has wilted.

3. Serve on top of the Cauliflower Risotto or as a side dish.

*Serves 2-4 as a side

For more risotto recipes check these out:

Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Green Spring Risotto

Risotto alla zucca (Pumpkin Risotto)

Risotto ai funghi porcini (Mushroom Risotto)

Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach

French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta

Another week has nearly gone by and I just can’t wait for the weekend. Today was the kind of day that made me want to run away from my responsibilities and crawl into my cupboard. Normally after a day like this I go home and become a couch potato. However today I came home inspired to cook a healthy wholesome meal for one. Probably because I spent my long bumpy bus ride home reading my new book that I just couldn’t put down. This book is Starch Solution, by Dr John A McDougall and Mary McDougall.  If you haven’t heard of it look it up. Its a great book for anyone looking for answers on how to be healthier and shed some pounds. I was just happy to have someone agree that carbs should be on the menu tonight. Especially since I’ve been eyeing the organic polenta in my cupboard ever since I bought it and been putting it off for a lighter alternative. And boy did it make me feel better. I also got to use left overs vege in my fridge, right in time for my organic set box delivery tomorrow from Home Fresh Organics. I just found out earlier this week that I won a free box, after attending the Inspiring Living Events last week. Looking forward coming home to fresh produce tomorrow! 

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French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients: 

1/2  cup french lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

4 large tomatoes, diced or 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock/water

1/2 cup white or red wine (optional)

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup filtered water

2 cups tightly packed curly kale leave (chopped)

1 cup intant polenta, preferably organic

3 cups filtered water

1/2 cup home-made pesto (more to serve) (made from pine nuts, garlic, basil, evo, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper)

italian parsley to serve (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method for the French lentil and Kale Ragout:

1. Bring a small pot to the boil and add the lentils. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

2. In the meantime heat olive oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until they soften.

3. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and wine. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer.

4. Add raw sugar, basil and sea salt to taste. Leave sauce to simmer for 25 minutes or until it has reduced and tomatoes have completely softened.

5. Add another cup of water and the kale and lentils. Stir through until the kale has wilted.

6. Serve French lentil and Kale Ragout over Pesto Polenta with some extra pesto sauce and italian parsley

Method for Pesto Polenta:

1. Place polenta and water in to a pot on a medium heat. Stir polenta continuously for 3-4 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the polenta has become thick.

2. Add the pesto and sea salt to taste.

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Brunch at Grub Street and Tofu Scamble with Sundried Tomatoes and Kale

What I look forward to most on the weekends is doing brunch with Marco. In the area that we recently moved to there are lots of funky little cafes that offer different unique breakfast options. This weekend we visited Grub Street, a popular suburban cafe in Gaythorne. This was our first visit, so we were curious  to see why this little cafe is always so busy and has such great reviews. I was also very excited to try their vegan option.

I ordered the Carrot pancakes with roasted corn puree, rocket, corn relish and avocodo. Besides being dairy free and vegan, this dish was also gluten free. From what I could tell these pancakes were made of carrot, red onion, capscium, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and chickpea flour. They were so dense, but not really heavy. The corn relish was also amazing and sweet, so it perfectly complemented the savoury pancakes. It was absolutely delicious and definitely made Grub Street one of my of new favourite cafes.

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When we don’t brunch out on the weekend, there is one special dish that Marco always likes me to make. This recipe is Tofu Country Scramble from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen recipe book. In fact last weekend I made it for some visiting meat-loving tofu-fearing family members. They actually preferred my tofu scramble over my mum’s scrambled eggs. So you guess which one was left over and which was gobbed up quick.

This morning we decided to do brunch again. But by the time we drove over and realised that the cafe we wanted to go to was closed because they hadn’t reopened for the new year, Marco was about to murder me. So  I suggested another cafe, however they had already swapped to the lunch menu. I was willing to stay but Marco really wanted eggs. Instead he suggested we go back home and he would ‘help’ me make tofu scramble. So thats what we did. It was so satisfying and the money we saved in eating out paid for 4 bags of groceries.

I slightly adapted the original recipe and added kale, red onion and shallots. I love the flavour combination of the nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes and tofu. I think this recipe taste better than regular scrambled eggs, which can be rubbery and tasteless and other tofu scrambles that can be watery and not really convincing. It is a great way to include some green vegetables first thing in the morning. I usually enjoy this dish with grilled turkish bread (like Marco did this morning), but today I just enjoyed it with some creamy avocado and it was just as good.

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Tofu Scramble with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Kale (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

2-3 shallots, diced

10-12 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

500 g medium-firm organic tofu (pressed and crumbled)

1 large handful of red or curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons gluten free organic soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat a pan with olive oil  on a medium heat. Then sauté the red onion and shallots for a couple of minutes before adding sun-dried tomatoes. Continue to sauté till the onions start to soften.

2. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for another couple of minutes until the tofu starts to brown a little.

3. Add the kale, soy sauce, turmeric and nutritional yeast, sea salt & black pepper and cook until the kale has wilted.  Serve immediate.

*Serves 4

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with a Creamy Turmeric Dressing

Turmeric is so good for you. It’s anti-inflammatory and is packed full of manganese, iron, vitamin B6, fiber and potassium. Scientists believe that Turmeric wards of Alzheimer’s disease, prevents cancer, reduces risk of heart attacks and strokes, flights colds and flu, helps digestion and weight loss and can help people with diabetes. But unless you eat Indian food regularly, you probably don’t include this ingredient in many of your daily meals. This little salad dressing is creamy, raw and can be paired with almost anything. Hope you like it!

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Roasted Sweet potato, Purple Carrot, Red Cabbage, Kale and Spinach Salad with a Creamy Turmeric (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

6 small sweet potatoes

olive oil

sea salt to taste

3-4 purple carrots

1/4 red cabbage

2 cups baby/other kale

2 cups baby spinach

1 cup Creamy Turmeric Dressing (below)

1-2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Chop sweet potatoes in round pieces and toss in a mixing bowl with olive oil and sea salt. Then bake for 30 mins or until cooked. Turn once while cooking.

3. Grate the purple carrots and cabbage. Massage the kale with sea salt and chop the baby spinach.

4. Combine all the salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

5. Serve salad topped with roasted sweet potato, drizzle Creamy Turmeric Dressing and top with some black sesame seeds

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Creamy Turmeric Dressing (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 medium avocado

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

2 tablespoons turmeric

couple pinches ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon agave (more to taste)

4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons filtered water

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Add in the ingredients in to a processor/mixer. Mix until you have a delicious creamy dressing.

2. Serve topped with black roasted sesame seeds and top on a fresh salad or roasted vegetables.

*About 1 cup

Falafel, Tabouli, Pita Pockets…

I have been a bit lazy lately with cooking. I have been eating out a lot more on the weekends. So this weekend I wanted to make something healthy and special. I’ve had this bag of Fava beans for a while now, so I wanted to try making Falafel. I have never made it before, so thought I’d give it ago. The Fava beans took nearly 24 hours to soak, as they are very hard and need time for the skin detach from the skin. It took me nearly an hour to peel the skins off 500 g of them, but the results were worth it.

I decided to bake my Falafel so that they would be a bit more healthier. I also filled the mixture with heaps of fresh herbs from my local Asian market. To go with it I made Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Pockets,  Lemon Cashew Yoghurt and Kale & Quinoa Tabouli. By the time I got our late lunch on the table it was dinner time, so the whole family got to eat with us. Everyone really liked and had seconds or thirds.

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Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Bread (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cup warm water

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3.5 cups wholemeal flour (more for board)

2 teaspoons ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon olive oil

canola spray oil

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Method:

1. Take 1/4 of warm water and add yeast and sugar. Leave it for 10 mins.DSC06658

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds and sea salt.???????????????????????????????

3. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture.???????????????????????????????

4. Gradually add more the rest of the flour and warm water until you have a dough.

5. Knead the dough for 10-15 mins, until it is nice and elastic.

6. Brush a bowl with olive oil and leave the dough to rise for an hour or more (the longer the better).

7. Divide the dough into 10 balls. Then roll each ball out into a flat circle shape.

8. Heat a pan on high and spray with canola. Place the flat dough onto the pan and cook it till it puffs up. Make sure you turn it regularly so it doesn’t burn. It should only take 1-2 mins per pita.

9. While the pita is still hot, slice it in half.

*Makes 10 Pita Pockets

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Baked Fava bean Falafel (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g fava beans (soaked 24 hrs, then peeled)

6 garlic cloves

1 brown onion

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 bunch coriander

1/2 bunch dill

1/2 bunch parsley

sea salt & black pepper

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. After soaking the fava beans, peel off the skin and boil for 30 mins or until softened.

2. Finely chop the garlic, onion and all the herbs.

3. Place the fava beans in a process and make into a paste. Then add all the spices, onion, garlic, herbs and sea salt & pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

5. Make the mixture into balls and place on a nonstick tray. Bake for 20 mins.

*Makes 25-30

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Lemon Cashew ‘Yoghurt’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (pre-soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t soaked the cashews then boil them for 10 mins.

2. In a Vitamix or high speed blender the cashews. Break them down, then slowly add 1/2 a cup of water. Blend till it becomes creamy.

3. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and blend. If you need add more water to break down into a cream, but not too much, it should be thick.

*Makes 1 cup

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Kale & Quinoa Tabouli (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5-2 cups kale, chopped

4 shallots or green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cooked quinoa

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Then strain and allow to cool.

2. Massage the chopped kale with sea salt to break down the fibers.

3. Combine the kale quinoa and all the remaining ingredients and serve.

*Serves 4 as side salad

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Over the weekend we ended up visiting The Green Edge on our way to visit hopefully our future house. I decided to try something different so I ordered the Noodle Bowl. It had soba noodles with twice-cooked pumpkin, served in a soy sauce-miso-shiitake broth. I doesn’t look like much but it was really nice. There was pumpkin all under the noodles as well. The rest of the family had their amazing vegan burgers, chips and salad. This was the first time my mums partner had been there. Of course his response was ‘I can believe its vegan’.

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My new favourite drink at the moment is this Frozen Peach Smoothie. I forgot about all the peaches that I froze a while ago. With the kiwi, banana and milk it tastes just like a peach ice cream.

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Frozen Peach Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 golden kiwi

1/2 banana

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Blend in a High speed blender and serve

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Over the weekend I finally tried something else that’s been in my cupboard for a while. Celebrate Health is a new brand that started appearing on supermarket shelves. Their range includes flavoured lentils, quinoa, recipe bases and stock. All their products are Gluten free, Wheat free, Dairy free, Tree nut free, Peanut free, 100% natural and Preservative free. Most are also vegan and Soy free. I had the Indian Marsala Lentil Packet. So I made this with some brown rice and Indian spiced greens. I just followed the packet directions, which were easy to understand. I ended up having to add alot more water, as it dried out quickly. They had more of a bite then I thought they would. Usually when I made red lentils they dissolve a little, but these ones didn’t.

So the verdict? Well they were quite salty and the spices weren’t that strong. They were definitely not as tasty as if I made them from scratch. However, they were quick, convenient and healthy side dish. I think I will definitely try some more of their products for those nights when I am too tired to cook anything fancy.

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Corn and Kale Chowder with Sour Dough Croutons

I don’t know where I got the idea to make chowder, but I’ve always wanted to try it and never had. Since becoming dairy free I rarely order soups out and only eat creamy ones at home. I wasn’t sure what makes a chowder different to a soup so I did some research and it has quite an interesting history.

Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew or thick soup. It is usually is made creamy but adding milk or cream and is eaten with or thickened with broken up saltine crackers. Famous chowders you may of heard of are the New England clam Chowder and Manhattan clam chowder. However corn and potato chowders are also very popular in American cuisine.

Chowder originally originate in Europe. There are a few theories to where the word chowder originate from. Perhaps it was originally derived from the Latin cuisine[1]word calderia means a place to warm things, which later came to symbolize a cooking pot or a cauldron. Perhaps it originated from the French word chaudière  means a cooking or heating stove; or from the old English word jowter, which means fish peddler. Or maybe it originated from the French dish chaudrée (thick fish soup from Charente-Maritime and Vendée. Nevertheless chowders were prepared in fishing villages along the coast of France and Southwestern England.

Although this dish has its roots in France or England it has become quite famous in New England and Atlantic Canada. It was brought to North America by early settlers. They would of originally used fish, salted pork and ship’s biscuits. Later shellfish, like clams became more frequently when they were in season. CVR_SFS_ClamChowder_article

There are numerous different clam chowders from different regions in North America. Famous ones include New England Chowder (milk based), Manhattan Chowder (broth & tomato based), Rhode Island clam chowder (clear broth). Obviously non of these are vegetarian. However, the Corn Chowder which I have tried to emulate is vegetarian.

The Corn Chowder is very similar to the New England Chowder, in that it is a thick creamy milk based soup. However instead of clams, corn is used. The main ingredients include corn, milk or cream, potatoes and onions. Potato chowder is similar except that cheese, sour cream or bacon is often added.

To make this recipe I consulted a few vegetarian and vegan recipes, including Jamie Oliver’s Corn Chowder and Cheeking Kitchen’s Vegan Rich & Hearty Corn Chowder. I decided to use kale, lemon thyme and garnish with chives, as my mum brought me heaps of lovely produce from the Eagle Farm Markets. My soup didn’t turn out as thick as I would of liked. I think it may have been the gluten free flour. Rather then adding more flour I left it a bit thinner. With the delicious croutons it was a delicious hearty meal. All my family commented how nice it was. This recipe can be made nut free if you prefer to use soy milk instead of almond. It can also be further thickened by using a cashew cream or more flour.

Have you made Corn Chowder before? What ingredients do you like to add to make it shine?

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Corn and Kale Chowder with Sour Dough Croutons (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onion diced

2 sticks celery, diced

700 g red potatoes. cubed

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup lemon thyme

2 litres vegan chicken liquid stock

3 tablespoons gluten free flour or corn flour (use unbleached plain flour if you can tolerate)

2 cups plant milk (coconut or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

4 cups tuscan kale,  chopped

sea salt to taste

chives to garnish

Ingredients for Croutons:

1/2 loaf white sour dough bread,  chopped into cubes

olive oil

sea salt

garlic powder

ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

1. Take a large pot and heat olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook for a few minutes, until onions are translucent.

2. Add the potatoes and white wine. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.

3. Add lemon thyme and liquid stock. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer for 15 mins, or until the potatoes have softened.. While its simmering, take about 1 cup of the stock out of the pot and whisk it with flour, then add it back to the pot.

4. Add almond milk, tuscan kale and sea salt. Cook until kale has cooked.

5. In the meantime, place bread in a mixing bowl. Coat with olive oil, garlic powder and sea salt. Then in a medium hot pan toast the bread until it is crunchy.

6. Serve soup with chives and croutons on top.

*Chowder serves 8, croutons serve 4-5

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Something new that we bought over the weekend was a Santa Claus melon or Spanish melon. I have never seen this kind of melon before. They had samples at the fruit shop and we really liked it. The flesh is a yellow-white color  and the skin is green with yellow. Apparently the more yellow the skin the sweeter it is. It doesn’t taste like a regular melon, its really sweet and a bit firmer.

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I made us some smoothies for work using the melon, parsley and spiralina. It was delicious, but a little thicker then I expected. I recently bought these nice glass drink bottles for juicing. Now its worked up a little I’m hoping to get better use of of them.

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Sweet Potatoes and Kale: Two Ways

The last couple of nights meals have been quick easy meals using two of my favorite ingredients, sweet potato and kale. I also finally made use of the organic wild black rice that I bought from Fundies two months ago. I have a habit of collecting beans and grains and storing them for a rainy day. This was the first time I have tried wild black rice. I quite like it. Surprisingly Marco was a fan too, even though he hates brown rice. It is quite chewy, but it has a nice flavor. I combined the rice with sauteed onions, kale and spices and stuff it in a whole baked sweet potato. I topped it with the Lime Cashew Sour Cream that I made over the weekend and served it with some Baked Spicy Panko Crusted Tofu and Guacamole.

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Whole Sweet Potatoes with Wild Black Rice, Kale and Lime Cashew Sour Cream (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

4 sweet potatoes

1/2 cup wild black rice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1.5 teaspoons garlic powder

1 bag baby kale, roughly chopped

sea salt to taste

Cashew Sour cream (recipe below)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Wash and scrub any dirt of the skin of the sweet potatoes. Stab them a few times with a fork then bake for 40 mins or until the inside flesh is soft.

3. In the meantime cook the wild black rice in the rice cooker and leave on warm till ready to use.

4. Heat coconut oil in a pan, then add onion, cumin, cayenne and garlic powder. Cook for a few minutes or until onion has softened.

5. Add wild black rice and kale and saute until kale wilts. Season with sea salt.

6. Slice a slit across on side of the sweet potato, then stuff with the wild rice and kale. Serve with Lime Cashew Sour Cream.

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Lime Cashew Sour Cream (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews (soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2-3 tablespoons lime

1 teaspoon garlic powder

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked the cashews, then boil for 10 mins.

2. Place in a blender and grind until cashews break down.

3. Add water (little bit at a time), lime, garlic powder and sea salt. Process until smooth.

*Makes about one cup

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Tonight’s recipe was inspired by the last whole baked sweet potato that didn’t get eaten last night. I considered making sweet potato gnocchi, sweet potato pasta, sweet potato burger or even sweet potato pancakes. I was pretty tired so I just decided on Sweet Potato Hummus with kale and vegetables. Since I already had my Vitamix out I made a dressing using the hummus and peanut butter. That was the best part! I ended up drizzling a lot more then what you see below. Now I am so full and looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow for Ekka public holiday.

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Sweet Potato Hummus Salad Bowl with Peanut Sweet Potato Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Sweet Potato Hummus (recipe below)

2 handfuls baby kale

chopped salad and vegetables (cherry tomato, broccolini, avocado, capsicum)

sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons Peanut Sweet Potato Dressing (recipe below)

Method:

1.  Steam broccolini or other vegetables. Rinse with cold water to cool down.

2. Massage the baby kale with sea salt, until it breaks down.

3. Place baby kale on the bottom of a large bowl and top with chopped salad & vegetables, hummus and drizzle with the dressing.

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Sweet Potato Hummus  (vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

1 whole roasted sweet potato (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves

1 tablespoon tahini

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Peel the Sweet potato, then place all the ingredients in the processor. Whiz until combined.

*Makes 2 cups

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Peanut Sweet Potato Hummus Dressing  (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons Sweet Potato Hummus (recipe above)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon apple cinder vinegar

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and whiz till combined.

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Early birthday gift…

Hi all, hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. Mine has been nice and relaxing. I got my early birthday present this week from Mum and Marco. They both put in to get me a Vitamix! So I finally got to try it out last night and have been blending ever since.

Last night I made some cashew cream, which was so lovely and silky. It was much nicer then what my Kenwood blender usually produces, plus it didn’t leak, which was a bonus. I showed my mum, who is also dairy free, but not as strict as me that cashew cream can be used just like cream for pasta. She was amazed. Sorry no photos of the actually pasta, we were so hungry by the time it was ready.

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I’ve only had a week of early mornings but my body clock has already changed which is great. This morning we got up early and went to the Northey Street Organic Markets at Windsor. We haven’t been here since before I went to Europe, which is over a year ago. I was really big on organics back then and am trying to get back into buying organic.

Before we left I made a special morning smoothie, with my garden Tuscan Kale. This is a Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie. I was delicious! Mum and Marco weren’t keen on the kale for breakfast, but they agreed it was a good way to get the kale in firs thing.

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Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch tuscan kale

3 cups almond milk

2-3 tablespoon peanut butter

2 tablespoons cacao

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons agave or honey

Method:

1. Whiz all the ingredients in your blender until all the kale has broken down and the smoothie is nice and smooth. Then serve.

At the market I didn’t buy too much. Just two bunches of Red Russian Kale ($6 plus free bok choy), daikon, cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts. Unfortunately there was no more organic vegan brownies left, so we better be a bit earlier next time. I love these markets there are always so many interesting people and great food.

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I did get to see this in action and it looks like hard work to earn your smoothie.

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I have seen purple carrots but never these golden ones before. Regretting now that I didn’t get any.

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There are also a communal veggie patch here and the grounds are quite nice too.  This is mum and Marco as we are leaving.

For dinner I thought I would try out a few more meals with my new Vitamix. These patties are similar to my Red Lentil Patties with Kale Pesto, but I used cannellini beans and sweet potato puree. I also tried to make my delicious Kale Pesto. As beautiful as it looks, it came out really bitter. I think next time I won’t use the stems. On the side I made this a delicious mash to make use of my green cauliflower and a sunflower sprout salad. So in love with my new Vitamax! So expect to see it around a lot more.

Do any of you guys have one?

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Cannellini Bean & Sweet Potato Patties (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

1 tablespoons grapeseed/olive oil

1 medium red onion

1 tablespoon cajun spices/other spices you prefer

sea salt to taste

1/2 cup quinoa crumbs (or other gluten free breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Method:

1. First cut and steam the sweet potato, until soft. Transfer into a bowl and place to the side.

2. Meanwhile,  preheat oven to 180 degrees  and heat a pan with olive oil. Saute the red onion and garlic for 5 mins or until the onion has softened.

3. All the  sweet potato, cannellini beans, red onion, garlic, cajun spices (or other spices)  and sea salt into the processor. Blend until smooth.

4. Place the mixture into a bowl then add quinoa crumbs and stir through the mixture.

5. Form the mixture into 10 patties. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl and dust the patties in the sesame seeds.

6. Place patties on a nonstick cookie tray, then bake for 20-25 mins. Turn once while they are cooking so that the seasame seeds on both sides get a little browned.

*Makes 10 patties

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Green Cauliflower, Potato & Leek Mash (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 small green cauliflower

3 potatoes

1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 leek

Method:

1. Cut the cauliflower and potato into small pieces, then place them in a steamer until tender.

2. Dice the garlic and chop the leek.

3. Heat a pan with oil, then saute the garlic and leek for 5 mins or until lightly browned.

4. Place cauliflower, potato, leek and garlic in the processor and blend until smooth.

5. Transfer into a pot and add sea salt to taste (and water if too thick). Heat through then serve.

*Serves 5-6

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Sunflower Sprout Orange Salad (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of sunflower sprouts

1 handful snow pea sprouts

segments of 1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon agave

sea salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Wash all sprouts and roughly chop the snow pea sprouts. Place all in a bowl.

2. Juice orange for the orange juice and cut the segments from 1 orange.

3. Add the orange segments to the spouts.

4. In a small bowl, add the orange juice, sesame oil, agave and sea salt.

5. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad.

6. Dry toast the pepitas seeds in a pan. Then top onto the salad and serve.