Hurom Juicer and Pasulj (Serbian beans)

My Hurom Juicer finally arrived today! I have been madly checking the post tracking ever since I bought it for myself. It is my early graduation present. I bought HU500 ???????????????????????????????after I saw it advertised on the Food Matters website. The demonstration videos looked quite impressive and I really liked that it yields more juice with more nutrients.

The post man was so early this morning that he woke me up, but I couldn’t go back to bed I had to try it out my new baby. Albie took advantage of my sleepiness and impressed me with giving me each paw to shake and then sat with his adorable sad face. He is not well at the moment, he has injured himself so we are off to the chiropractor on the weekend. So while I was madly trying to figure out my juicer, he helped himself to my mum’s leather lounge and took a long nap.

After taking the juicer apart to see where it all goes I put it back together and started chopping fruit and veggies. I only had a pear, small beetroot, few sticks of celery and one large leaf of kale, so I wasn’t expecting a lot of juice. I just place a glass under the spout, like they do in the video and started to juice. Before I got near the pear I already had a full glass of green juice. I had to get another glass to catch the rest. I was really impressed with the dry pulp and I really love the little cap on the spout that the juice comes out of, which makes sure you don’t spill any.

The juice consistency was really nice. It wasn’t too watery or too pulpie. To clean the juicer you just have to rinse it with water and use the brush to get off any excess fruit, so easy. I ended up making juice again after dinner tonight to demonstrate it to Marco. He is in love with it too now. Unfortunately we had to go back to his tonight, so we won’t see the Hurom again till tomorrow.

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While I was enjoying my juice I was watching the Today Show and saw that David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe is here for his Australia Tour! He is  coming to my city in Brisbane next week. Unfortunately I couldn’t convince anyone today to go with me, so I will be going to his evening lecture and day conference by myself next weekend. It is a bit pricey but for the amount of hours it good value. To see a show or do a cooking lesson would cost just as much and thats only 2 hours. I first saw David on Hungry for Change documentary and he really influenced me to get back into juicing. So I can’t wait to see what he says and to learn more about raw food and nutrition.

With such a healthy start to the day I continued with a healthy Mushroom and Baba Ganoush Salad Wrap for lunch. I tried out the new Organic Mountain Bread that I got from Woolies yesterday. It doesn’t have any preservatives, which is great as its hard to find any wraps or lebanese breads that don’t. It also tastes really good and doesn’t have that strange wrap after taste.

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Mushroom and Baba Ganoush Salad Wrap (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large flat mushroom sliced

1 teaspoon diced basil/parsley

2 pieces of mountain bread/gf wrap

2 tablespoons baba ganoush (store bought/homemade)

1/2 small carrot grated

1/2 small lebanese cucumber thinly sliced

1 radish thinly sliced

1 small tomato sliced

small handful baby spinach

1 roasted capsicum

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add mushroom. Saute on each side, when it starts to brown add the basil/parsley and sea salt.

2. Place 1 piece of mountain bread on a plate, then spread baba ganosh and top with carrot, cucumber, radish, tomato, baby spinach, mushroom, roasted capsicum and sea salt.

3. Close the ends of the mountain bread then roll it closed. Wrap another mountain bread around the wrap.

4. Wrap the mountain bread with baking paper and twist the ends of the paper. Then slice in the middle and serve.

* Serves 1

After lunch I started on dinner. I always get so much done when I am procrastinating my uni work. I really wanted to try make another Serbian bean dish that I tried at ???????????????????????????????Marco’s sisters Slava.  It is prepared the same way as Prebranac, which I made with lima beans. However, is stove cooked instead of baked. To thicken the beans and water into a sauce you just add a mixture of flour and water. She also told me that leeks, carrots and capscium can also be added.

According to an article I read this stove cooked Serbian beans is called Pasulj (Пасуљ) and is more like a thick bean soup. It is traditional dish in Serbian, Bosnia, Albania and other parts of the Balkans. Like Prebranac it is made white or brown beans, onions and sweet Hungarian paprika as well as bay leaves, carrots, leeks and other vegetables. It is often prepared with smoked meats, such as smoked bacon, smoked sausage and smoked joints. But the meat is omitted during times of fasting.

Although this dish takes a long time to make its really easy and is a perfect comfort dish for cold weather. I had to add a bit of sugar to mine, as my sweet hungarian paprika was a bit bitter. We enjoyed this soup with some crusty sour dough and sauerkraut.

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Pasulj (Serbian Bean Soup) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g great northern beans (soaked/un-soaked)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large leek, diced

3 onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 red capsicum, diced

2 tablespoons Sweet Hungarian Paprika

3 bay leaves, pinch of raw sugar (if too bitter)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1/2 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (or other flour)???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Place beans in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to the boil, then strain beans and remove water.

2. Place beans  in the same pot and fill with water. Bring to the again boil, then strain beans and remove again water.???????????????????????????????

3. This time place beans back in pot with water to cover (about 1-2 finger tips). Slightly cover the pot and bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cook for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until beans are quite soft.???????????????????????????????

4. In a large pan heat olive oil and add the onion, garlic, leeks, carrots, red capsicum, paprika, bay leaves, sea salt, black pepper, sugar and liquid smoke. Cook for 1o mins or until onions are translucent and all the vegetables have softened???????????????????????????????

5. Add the vegetables to the beans and stir through.

6. Mix flour with 4 tablespoons water in a small bowl then add to the beans.

7. Cook beans for a further 30-1 hour, so that they break down a little more and become a thick soup. Season and serve.

*Serves 6-8

Pasulj <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasulj>

Cord Magazine <http://www.cordmagazine.com/images1/pdf/cord77.pdf>

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Here is an update on my garden. My herbs are looking a bit sad and my veggies are getting a few bites, but they are all growing nicely. I have started using the pak chop and lettuce. Any advice natural ways to stop bugs? I am using this natural chili garlic spray. Its only the broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts that are getting attacked.

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I’ve also started growing a pineapple plant with the top root. I will have to plant it soon.

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Russian Mushroom Madness

Tonight I made some traditional wholesome Russian dishes for the family. I have never really made or eaten Russian food before, but I was inspired by this recipe Veg Russbiff from Veganwiz.com. I have been wanting to try these cutlets for ages and today was finally the night to do it. I am not sure of the origin of this dish or its name, as the boyfriend of the blogger  found this recipe somewhere. I slightly adapted this recipe and worked out the amounts for all the ingredients. Marco and I both really loved this recipe. These cutlets are made with primarily mushrooms, onion and rice. No it doesn’t taste like meat, but it does have a great taste and texture, that will not leave you feeling like you are missing out. I would love to make this again with a delicious sauce or gravy to make this even more spectacular.

The side dishes I made to go with the Veggie Cutlets are also typical Russian dishes, that complemented them well. The recipe Buckwheat Pilaf with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion is by Bois de Jasmin. This traditionally dish is from Belarus and uses butter and is served with boiled eggs on top, but this was omitted to be vegan. Many recipes also use vegetable liquid stock to cook the buckwheat, or you can just use water as I did. This is a great nutritious dish that will leave your tummy very content on a warm winters night.

The last dish was adapted from Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage from Bon Appetit. This is a popular dish in Russian and throughout the Balkans. The sweet and sour flavours are strong, but they really complemented the rest of the meal.

The only other Russian dishes that I have attempted are Borscht & Pirozhki. I just love Slavic food and I can’t wait to bring you all some more dishes. Tomorrow I should hopefully be learning to make a Serbian bean dish… ??????????????????????????????? Russian Veggie Cutlets (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

200g mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup medium grain rice

2 teaspoons sweet hungarian paprika

2 tablespoons diced italian parsley

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3/4 cup oat milk (whole soy milk if you can tolerate)

1 cup unbleached plain flour

1 cup quinoa crumbs or other gluten free bread crumbs

olive oil or grapeseed oil to fry

Method:

1. Cook rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. Cook 1 cup of rice with 1 1/2 cups of water. Leave on warm until ready to use.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan, then sauté mushrooms for 5 mins or until browned. Remove from pan and place in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add another tablespoon olive oil, then sauté onion for 5 mins or until browned. Remove from pan and combine with mushrooms in the mixing bowl.???????????????????????????????

4.  Add cooked rice, paprika, parsley, sea salt and black pepper.  Mix well and taste to make sure there is enough salt.

5. Place the mixture in a processor and add soy milk. Blend so the mixture is thick, but the contents have been broken down. Add more soy milk if you need. If its easier do in two batches.

6. Place mixture back into the mixing bowl and add flour and quinoa crumbs.

7. Make 10 – 12 large balls with the mixture.

8. Place them one at a time in a hot pan with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Press them down while they are in the pan with a spatula or with your fingers, so they are flat. Cook on each side for 2 mins. Repeat until you have cooked all the patties.

*Makes 10-12 Veggie Cutlets ??????????????????????????????? Buckwheat Pilaf with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups raw buckwheat

6 cups water

2 onions, sliced thinly

8 cups thinly sliced white or brown mushrooms (about 450 g)

5 tablespooons vegan butter

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons minced parsley

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Place buckwheat in a bowl and stir through 3 tablespoons of vegan butter. Then place buckwheat on a tray and toast in the oven 20 min. During this time give them a stir, so they toast evenly. If you have pre-toasted buckwheat you only need to toast for 10 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Bring a large put with 6 cups of water to the boil and add salt.

4. Add toasted buckwheat and stir through. Bring to the boil, then place on a low heat and cover. Cook for 20 mins or until the water has absorbed into the buckwheat.

5. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the sliced onion for 10 mins or until browned. When finished remove from pan and set to the side.

6. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté mushrooms for 10 mins or until they have absorbed any water they have released and browned.

7. Add onions, mushrooms, sea salt, pepper, parsley and 2 tablespoons vegan butter (omit butter if you prefer) to pot with the buckwheat (water should of absorbed). 8. Fluff buckwheat with a fork, then cover pot and leave on the lowest flame for 15 mins. After this serve.

* Serves 4-8, depending if it is a main or side dish serving. ??????????????????????????????? Sweet-and-Sour Red Cabbage with Apple (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2.5 tablespoons vegan butter

1 onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tablespoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

2 whole cloves

1/2 head red cabbage , sliced into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1 large green apple, cut into thin slices

1/4 cup apple juice

Method:

1. Melt butter in a  heavy large pot, over medium-low heat.???????????????????????????????

2. Add sliced onions and sauté  for 10 mins or until they are translucent.???????????????????????????????

3. Add red wine vinegar, bay leaf, raw sugar, sea salt, black pepper and cloves.

4. Add red cabbage and cook for 5 mins or until it starts to wilt. Stir often.

5. Place on a simmer and cover pot for 15 mins or until cabbage is tender.

6. Remove lid and add apple sauce, apple juice and apple slices. Cook for 10 mins or until apple is tender.

*Serves 4-6 as a side dish ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Risoni with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms in Creamy Pistachio Pesto Sauce

I made this dish a couple of nights ago, before we flew to Sydney. Creamy Risoni pasta with Chicken and Pesto is one of my favorite dish that I use to often get at my fathers restaurant when I was a teenager. I haven’t thought about it in years, but I was really craving it. I tried to make it with a Pistachio Pesto, which I have never tried to make before. I used italian parsley instead of basil and less oil. The pistachios didn’t break down as quickly as pine nuts usually do, but the end result was still delicious. To make the cream sauce I used Aldi’s Organic Soy Milk, which becomes so thick, if its been sitting in the fridge before opening, that its great for creamy sauces.

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Risoni with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms in Creamy Pistachio Pesto Sauce (vegan)

Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto:

2 garlic cloves

40g shelled pistachios

1 cup italian parsley

2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Remaining ingredients:

2 serves of risoni pasta

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

6-8 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Fry’s Chicken-style Strips, chopped

1 cup thick organic whole soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. First make the pesto by first adding the garlic and pistachio to processor. Process until mostly broken down, then add italian parsley, olive oil, water and season with salt and pepper. Keep scraping the sides and continue to process until it becomes a pesto. May take up to 10 mins.

2. In the mean time heat the water to boil for the pasta, dice the onion and mushrooms. Roughly chop the Chicken-style strips.

3. Cook the risoni pasta according to packet directions, then strain. ???????????????????????????????

4. In a pan add about a tablespoon of olive oil, then cook mushrooms until they have browned. Remove from pan.

5. In the same pan, add some more oil, then saute onion for 2 mins. The add the Chicken-style strips. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until golden.

6. Add the mushrooms, thick soy milk and pesto and heat through, until it comes to a light boil. Place on simmer then season with salt and pepper.

7. Lastly, add the risoni pasta to the pan and heat through, then serve.

*Serves 2

*Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto makes about 1/2 cup

???????????????????????????????As I mentioned, we flew to Sydney yesterday to pick up a car. It was a really, really early 4 in the morning that we had to get up to get a 6 am flight. We left from International airport, which ended up being a lot more daunting then a domestic flight. Luckily we didn’t need our passports, but there were lots of checks done and waiting in lines. Anyway after we got the car we made our way back to Brisbane. On the way we stopped at a place we have stopped before and I really loved, Oliver’s Real Food. This is a natural, organic fast food stop that has 3 locations through New South Wales, outside of Sydney. They have heaps of vegan options for breakfast, lunch, sides, snacks and drinks. Some include Fresh Seasonal Fruit Salad, Organic Wholemeal Toast, Vege Patch Pita Pocket, Vegetarian Suishi, Organic Pumpkin Soup, Steamed Edamame Beans, Raw Organic Nut Mix, a range of fresh juices, coffees and bottled drinks. They also have a large range of Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Lacto-ovo Vegetarian options, as well as meat dishes.

Last time we picked up a car I had the Vege Patch Pita Pocket. Unfortunately this time I wasn’t quite ready for lunch just yet. So I got the best and most expensive fresh juice I’ve ever bought. After seeing the ingredients of this juice I really didn’t mind paying $9.90. It included raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, goji, carrot, beetroot, tomato, rosehips’s echinacea, cranberry, blackcurrent, passionfruit, blackberry, coconut water, orange juice and banana. I can’t believe they managed to cram that much goodness in one serve of juice. It really woke me up and kept me alert for most of the trip. Marco really regretted getting the MacDonalds after I told him off, but I still shared my juice so he could get some nutrients in his body. So lucky me didn’t miss out on a juice day.

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Antioxidant Red Miracle

Today I tried something different. I added pumpkin to my morning juice. It was quite nice and didn’t have an overpowering taste. I also added orange, apple, ginger, cucumber, celery and carrot.

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The last thing I wanted to share is an Ice cream shop that I went to with the kids today, that serve vegan ice cream at Southbank! Geláre is a quality ice cream cafe, that is along the main drag in Southbank on Grey Street. They have dairy free vegan Sorbets, such as Mango, Raspberry and Lemon. The kids both had Mango Sorbet and the really loved it. I had the Naked Coconut Ice cream, which is organic, dairy free, vegan and naturally Sweetened with Organic Agave. This was the best Ice cream I have had in Australia. I was really impressed. They also have Vegan Dark Chocolate and Cappuccino Bliss (soon), which are also vegan, organic and naturally sweetened with organic agave. I am looking forward to meeting friends here and actually getting to have Ice cream out again.

Mango Sorbet

Mango Sorbet

Naked Coconut

Naked Coconut

Caesar Salad with ‘Bacon’ Maple Mushrooms

In Australia you will find Caesar Salad everywhere. In Italian restaurants, cafes, family lunches and even pre-made in the supermarket. It usually includes romaine lettuce, bacon, hard boiled eggs, croutons, anchovies, parmesan and caesar dressing. I have never really liked it, or any salad with  cheese and bacon.

I always assumed the name of this salad came from the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. But actually it was invented by an Italian migrant and restauranteur, Caesar Cardini.  He had restaurants in both the USA and Mexico during the 1920s. According to his daughter, he was living in Tijuana, to  avoid Prohibition, when he invented this dish. It was the 4th of July in 1924, when Cardini had such a busy rush in his restaurant, that it depleted many of his ingredients. So he found what ingredients he could and began making table-side salads “by the chef.” Julia Child even recounted that she too tried the Caesar Salad at Cardini restaurant, back in the 1920s.

According to Cardini’s daughter, the original recipe included whole lettuce leaves (meant to be lifted from stem and eaten with the fingers), coddled eggs, and Italian olive oil. Although she said this in the 1970s, it was in the 1950s that there were trademark brands for the dressing used for this salad, such as “Cardini’s”, “Caesar Cardini’s” and “The Original Caesar Dressing”. Since then there have been numerous different versions of the Caesar dressing, which include different ingredients, such as mustard, avocado, tomato, bacon bits, garlic cloves or anchovies. Anchovies are another essential ingredient to modern Caesar salads, that never appeared in original recipe. Rather Cardini apparently used Worcestershire sauce, since he didn’t like anchovies in salads. Today you will find this salad with the additions of chicken (popular in Australia), steak, seafood and even tortilla chips (in Mexico). 

So why did I want to make this salad when I have never been a fan? Well I saw the recipe for Caesar Salad in the recipe, The Kind Diet. I liked the idea of the sourdough croutons and dressing made of almonds, dijon and tahini. Luckily I also had some romaine lettuce in the fridge. So I went up to the shops to get a few extra ingredients and a few other things I didn’t need and tried to make this salad. I also decided to add the addition of ‘Bacon’ Maple Mushrooms, to mimic bacon, that is usually used in the Caesar Salads I have always known.

It was really, really delicious! I loved the croutons, I couldn’t stop eating them. I made them with fresh sourdough bread and they were just prefect. The dressing was also amazing too. I had quite a tang to it that mimic that anchovy taste and it was made of very healthy ingredients. My dressing is probably a bit darker, since I have unhulled tahini. The mushrooms also tasted great and added more flavor to the salad. This was  really filling meal that gave me heaps of energy for a hike me and Marco did after this. The dressing is also gluten free, so just use gluten free bread for the croutons.

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Caesar Salad with ‘Bacon’ Maple Mushrooms  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 slices of sourdough or gluten free bread

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

extra virgin olive oil,

2 tablespoons almonds (to roast/pre-blanched)

3 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoons hulled/unhulled tahini

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon maple syrup/agave,

1 romaine or cos lettuce

vegan parmesan (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

2. Roast Almonds for 10 mins. (skip this step if using blanched almonds.???????????????????????????????

3. Combine rosemary, garlic powder and sea salt in a bowl. Then add the bread and drizzle with olive oil. Toss so that the spices and oil is gone through all the bread.

4. Place the bread on a tray and bake for 10-15 mins.

5. In the meantime make the dressing in a processor/blender. Place almonds, garlic, dijon mustard, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice and process  until smooth.

6. Take a bowl and combine the mushrooms, liquid smoke and maple syryp.

7. Saute the mushroom in a pan with olive oil on medium heat.???????????????????????????????

8. To put the salad together combine wash and roughly chopped lettuce leaves in a bowl, add mushrooms, croutons and dressing to taste (about 2 tablespoons).

*Serves 2, although the dressing is enough for 6 serves. The dressing can keep in the fridge for another serving.

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Caesar Salad <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_salad>

Creamy Mushroom Pot Pies

I had so many mushrooms after mum and I both bought mushrooms last week. Marco’s not a big fan of mushrooms, but at least he’s eating them now. One thing that he did like was Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies, that I made a few months back (A little bit British). So I tried to make my own mushroom pies. Instead of making a pastry base I just put them in ramekins. They were really delicious and so creamy. If you aren’t vegan but just want to avoid dairy I promise you won’t be disappointed if you make your own cashew cream. Its so easy and guilt free.

I didn’t make use pot pies, I made a couple of pasties with the mixture so they would be easier to eat for lunches. On the side I just made some simple roasted potato, sweet potato, carrots, with garlic and thyme and steamed green beans.

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Creamy Mushroom Pot Pies (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews

olive oil

1 large leek, sliced

2 garlic cloves, diced

500g mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 cup vegan beef/chicken/vegetable stock

1 tablespoon corn flour

sea salt & black pepper to taste

1.5 puff pastry sheets (use gluten free puff pastry if you prefer)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Boil the cashews for 10 mins. Then strain the cashews and rinse in cold water. Place them in the blender/processor. First grind till the cashews break up as much as they can. Then slowly add the water and process until it becomes a smooth cream. Leave to the side.

3. In a pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil then cook the leek and garlic for 5 mins or until leeks are soft. Then transfer into a large pot.???????????????????????????????

4. Add a bit more oil and then cook the mushrooms in two batches until they are soft and some of the juices have released. Place the mushrooms in the pot with the leeks.

5. Add the cashew cream, liquid stock (I used vegan beef), corn flour and sea salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 8 mins or until it has thickened.???????????????????????????????

6. Fill ramekins with the creamy mushroom mixture.

7. Brush some oil around the top of the ramekin, then place circle cut outs of pastry on top of the ramekins. Brush pastry with oil and bake for 20-25 mins.

*Serves 6

*If you don’t have ramekins you can just use more pastry and make pasties.

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Pumpkin Soup Mantua Style, Broccoli Salad; Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Pesto Spelt Pizza

I have heard about liquid smoke from other blogs for a while, but its not something that is easy to find in Brisbane. I really miss smokey flavour that cured meats bring to soups and stews. I have noticed in a few Italian recipes and many Serbian ones, that smoked meats or bones are often added to dishes for flavor and then removed before serving. However, the food wouldn’t really be vegan if I added them just for that reason.The only place I have seen liquid smoke is the Green Edge Vegan Supermarket, as it is imported from America. So I finally remembered to buy some a couple of days ago before they close for their move.

First thing I want to try with the liquid smoke was this hearty pumpkin soup from Mantova, Italy. I found this recipe in my mums old recipe book, Giuliano Bugiallis Foods of Italy. According to Bugiallis, this soup is famous in Mantova/Mantua. There are many variations of this soup, although most use milk. This version with the broth instead and is made in nearby towns.

I adapted the recipe slightly, adding liquid smoke instead of prosciutto and using vegan butter and vegan beef stock. The  liquid smoke really gave that smokey taste that cured meats bring to soups. Together with the ‘beef’ stock this soup tasted fantastic. Its was unlike any pumpkin soup I have ever had before. I couldn’t stop eating it and the rest of the family loved it. They couldn’t figure out what was in it and when I told them they were surprised. Marco especially loved that smokey flavor, as that is what he has grown up on.  If you can’t get hold of liquid smoke, I still recommend trying pumpkin soup with ‘beef’ stock for more heartier flavor.

Another recipe I found in Giuliano Bugiallis Foods of Italy was Broccoli in insalata. I haven’t made a salad like this before, but it was quite easy to put together. Suprisingly Marco really liked it. I didn’t mind it either. Broccoli and lemon go really well together.

The Pizza is adapted from In Vegetables We Trust, Rocket pesto cookie sheet pizza. I didn’t have any rocket or pine nuts left, so I tried it with spinach and walnuts, which worked really well together. I also used spelt flour, so it would be more nutritious. If you haven’t checked out In Vegetables We Trust, then you should! There are so many delicious dishes you wouldn’t know are vegan by looking at the photos.

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Minestra di zucca alla mantovana (Pumpkin Soup Mantua Style) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

800-900g pumpkin

8 tablespoons nutlex/vegan butter

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

3 cups vegan beef liquid stock (I used Massel)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

basil/oregano leaves to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin. Cut it into small pieces. Then place it in a bowl with cold water for 1/2 hour.???????????????????????????????

2. Melt nutlex in a large heavy based pot over a low heat. Once it has completely melted add pumpkin pieces and liquid smoke. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add vegan beef stock, then cover it again and simmer for 15 mins or until pumpkin is very soft.

4. Take the pot of the heat and puree it. Then adjust seasoning with sea salt and black pepper. Cook for a further 10 mins then serve.

*Serve soup topped with a few basil leaves. I didn’t have so I used oregano leaves.

*Serves 6

DSC04201

Broccoli in insalata (Broccoli Salad) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of broccoli

2 small carrots

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Soak broccoli in cold water for 1/2 hour.

2. Bring a pot of cold water to the boil. Meanwhile separate the florets from the broccoli stems and cut into bite size pieces.

3. Place broccoli stems in boiling water and cook for 5 mins.

4. Then add the brocolli florets and cook for a further 4 mins.

5. Remove all the broccoli and place into cold water for 10 mins.

6. Peel and grate the carrots then place in a bowl with cold iced water and leave for 5 mins.

7. Combine the oil, lemon juice, chili flakes, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

8. Strain the broccoli and carrots. Then combine half of both into a bowl, add half of the dressing. Then add the rest of the vegetables and dressing, then serve.

*Serves 4 as a side dish

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Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Pesto Spelt Pizza (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients for pizza base:

1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour

1 cup tipo 00 flour

2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for pizza topping:

2 cups baby spinach leaves

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6 medium/10 small mushrooms sliced

Method:

1. Combine the spelt and 00 tipo flour in a bowl.

2. Combine the warm water, yeast, salt and suger. Leave for 5 mins or until it has bubbled.

3. Add olive oil and yeast water mixture to the flour.

4. On a floury board knead the dough for 10 mins. Then leave for at least 1 hour in a warm spot.

5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place the spinach leaves, garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper in the processor. Process until it is all ground together.???????????????????????????????

6. Stir in the walnuts then set to the side.

7. Once dough is read, spread it onto a rectangular pizza pan.

8. Saute the sliced mushrooms with a little bit of oil in a pan for a few minutes.

9. Lather the pesto onto the pizza base, then top with mushrooms. Cook in the oven for 20 mins, then slice and serve.

*Makes 1 pizza base, cut into 12 smal slices

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Spaghetti ai funghi e olio di tartufo

???????????????????????????????I made this yesterday for lunch and I have been craving it so much since that I had to have it again today. I really love the taste of truffle oil with mushrooms. My brother is a chef and he left his truffle oil behind. I didn’t realise it was here till the other day.

I first fell in love with the flavor of truffle oil a few years back when I had a pizza with ham, spinach and truffle honey, from Sugo mi. I hope to recreate this dish as well soon.

If you don’t have truffle oil, you can still make this pasta dish and it will still be very delicious. Also cashew nut parmesan goes really with this dish too.

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Spaghetti ai funghi e olio di tartufo (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 serve of spaghetti or long pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

5 mushrooms, sliced (about 50 g)

1 teaspoon truffle oil

1 tablespoon minced basil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions.

2. While it is cooking, heat a pan with 1 tablespoon of oil oil and saute onion and garlic. Cook for 2 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add mushrooms and saute for 3 mins or until they have softened and browned. If they get a bit dry add a little bit more olive oil.

4. Add truffle oil, basil, sea salt & black pepper. Cook another minute.

5. Take the pan off the heat and add the hot pasta, straight from the pasta pot. Serve immediately.

* Serves 1

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Lentil & Potato ‘Meatballs’ and Spaghetti in a Creamy White Wine Sauce with Mushrooms & Kale

Hi all! These recipes are inspired by the leftovers in my fridge. I love using leftovers, because it means its time to go food shopping again.

The recipe for the ‘Meatballs’ is adapted from this Italian vegan recipe, Polpette di lenticchie, from Veganblog.it. I just tweaked some of the ingredients and the method a bit, so it was more like the meatballs I use to make. I have never used potatoes in meatballs before, but it bound the ingredients really well and tasted really good fried. I was going to make a sauce, but my family really liked them the way they were.

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Lentil & Potato ‘Meatballs’ (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

400g of cooked green lentils

250g of boiled potatoes

1 carrot grated

1 red or brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

3 tablespoons diced parsley

1/2 tablespoon sea salt

4 tablespoons corn crumbs or breadcrumbs

plain flour (use gluten free plain flour if you prefer)

grapeseed oil for frying

Method:

1. If you haven’t already cook the lentils and boil the potatoes with water in separate pots.???????????????????????????????

2. Take a large mixing bowl and place the lentils inside. Mash the boiled potatoes then add to the lentils.???????????????????????????????

3. Heat a drop of oil in a pan on medium heat and add the onion, garlic and carrot. Cook for 3 mins or until softened and slightly browned. Stir constantly, so its consistently cooked.???????????????????????????????

4. Add the onion, carrot and garlic to the mixing bowl. Add parsley, corn crumbs and stir and stir through. Add more corn crumbs is the mixture is too wet.

5. Form a small balls with the mixture and roll in flour. Repeat until mixture has been used. You should have about 40 balls.

6. Heat a pan with oil to fry. Then fry the balls for 2-3 mins or until they are golden brown on all sides.

*Makes 40 balls

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Spaghetti in a Creamy White Wine Sauce with Mushrooms & Kale (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

4-5 serves of spaghetti or other long pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

10 white mushrooms, thinly sliced

leaves from three large leaves of kale

1/2 cup white wine

2 teaspoons vegan butter

2 cup soy milk (more if too thick)

2 teaspoons arrowroot flour

4 tablespoon vegan parmesan (or nutritional yeast)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water. When its ready strain and set to the side.???????????????????????????????

2. In a large pan heat olive oil, then add garlic and mushrooms, saute for 2 mins.

3. Add the kale and saute for another minute. Then add white wine and cook for 3 more minutes. Then take off the heat.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime heat vegan butter in a small pot then add soy milk and arrowroot. Cook until it has thickened, stirring constantly.

3. Place mushrooms back on the heat and add the cream sauce. Add vegan parmesan and sea salt. Add more soy milk if it is too thick.  Cook until heated.

*Serves 4-5

*I really recommend making some vegan parmesan, rather then using nutritional yeast. The cashews give the sauce creamy sweet taste.

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Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach, Vegan Parmesan and Turkish Bread Pizzas

Good evening guys, hope you had a good weekend. We just caught up with friends and finally celebrated our engagement with my parents. So didn’t do a lot of cooking. I have been feeling really tired lately. It’s not as hot as it was, but still a bit sticky. I have been finding myself craving meat, chicken mostly. Its strange because I really don’t want to eat it and it’s been the only thing I think I haven’t even tasted since I stopped eating it all together. I am still eating a bit of fish, but I know my body is craving whole grains and fresh greens. So I have been trying the past couple of days to get back on track.

I have also been trying to get back into exercising. Six months ago I was walking every where all day and all night. Now I have been barely walking, except for the occasional dog walk. It’s started to cool down as I said so there is no more excuses for not going for more walks and started back up with pilates. I went for a couple of walks today and it was really nice to get out by myself. The sun stays out till 6.30 and there are lots of people about walking. I won’t take the dogs by myself again, after what happened a couple of days ago. My dogs went crazy at a woman who walked too close to us, then they saw a cat, then a man walking a baby, then two people walking two boxes, then another couple walking a dog. They were out of control. I still have sore arms and blisters on my hands from them trying to pull away from me and attack all these ‘threats’. It was very embarrassing and scary situation. They were scared and they knew I didn’t have full control of them. But it is not their fault, so more walks are needed for them to get more social and for me to get back in shape.

Tonight I wanted to make something with a little bit of barley I had in the cupboard. I didn’t have enough so I also used brown rice to make a risotto. I adapted this recipe, Red Wine Barley Risotto with Silverbeet & Mushrooms, from Madison. I was a bit scared using merlot in the cooking, so I used a bit less then I could have, but it turned out lovely with a mild hint of the wine and gave the grains a beautiful color. Although not a traditional risotto, the vegan butter really brought a creaminess to it at the end.

Since I couldn’t use parmigiano, I looked for a vegan alternative. I found this lovely recipe for a Vegan Parmesan Cheese from Veggieful. It is made from cashew nuts and nutritional yeast and it tastes amazing. I actually never liked parmesan. Even my Nona knows not to put parmesan on my pasta from when I was a little girl. I always thought it smelt like throw up. But this parmesan is delicious! It is soft, with a creaminess to it and a bit of a cheesy salty taste. I really recommend it, even if you don’t like parmesan either.

Lastly, I put in a simple recipe from the night before. We weren’t going to have dinner, since we had such a late lunch. We made turkish burgers with Fry’s Traditional Burger patties (can’t get enough of these). But after a long walk with the dogs we got really peckish late that night. So this is what we came up with.

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Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4.5 cups (1 Litre) vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

1.5 cup filtered water

1.25 cup merlot

1 cup pearl barley (use another cup of brown rice instead to make gluten free)

1 cup brown rice

4 tablespoons olive oil

20g dried skiitake mushrooms, soaked & sliced if not already

5 white mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 red onion, diced

200-300 g baby spinach, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, diced

50g vegan butter

sea salt & pepper to taste

vegan parmesan to serve (optional, recipe below)

Method:

1. Take a large pot and bring to the boil the liquid stock, water and wine. In the meantime rinse the barley and brown rice.P1000605

2. Once pot comes to a boil, add the barley and rice and let that come to a boil. Then let it continue to boil uncovered for 30 mins. Most of the liquid should be absorbed during this time. Remove any excess material from the top of the liquid as it cooks. Once it is finished take off the heat and put the lid on it and leave it for at least 5 mins before adding the rest of the ingredients.

3. Take large pan and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Then add the red onion, garlic and all the mushrooms. Cook for 10 mins. P1000606

4. Add the baby spinach and parsley to the mushrooms and cook for 2 mins or until spinach has wilted.

5. Then add the barley, rice and any extra liquid from the pot to the large pan and stir through.

6. Add the vegan butter  and season with sea salt & pepper. Heat through on a medium heat for 1-2 mins

* Serve with vegan parmesan

* Serves 5-6

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Vegan Parmesan (from Veggieful) (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea saltP1000604

Method:

1. Whiz in the processor or grinder until it becomes a powder.

* Makes about 1 cup

* Store in the fridge in air tight container. Should last a few weeks.

Turkish Bread Pizzas (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 whole turkish bread

olive oil

cherry tomatoes

garlic, crushed

roasted capsicum

marinated buffalo-style tofu mozzarella (or store-bought vegan mozzarella)

baby spinach, chopped

fresh basil or parsley

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to grill.???????????????????????????????

2. Slice the turkish bread in half, lengthwise.

3. Combine the tomato, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Then spread onto the turkish bread base. Then add roasted capsicum, tofu/vegan cheese, baby spinach, herbs and sea salt.

4. Grill in the oven for 5 mins or until the bread is toasted

* Serves 2

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Il festino lombardo

Morning guys. Last night I finally made a couple of the dishes that I learned in Milan, when I was doing my Cuisine course last year. It was a really challenging course, which included 6 cooking lessons at Teatro 7, with Chef Gualtiero. My Italian wasn’t very good, but I still really enjoyed the cooking lessons. I also really liked that after we finished the lesson that we would eat our creations. Since didn’t eat dairy and there were a few vegetarians in the class, I usually had a dairy free and/or vegan meal.

On our first lesson we made Mondeghili, Risotto allo zafferano, and Sbrisolona. Mondeghili is Milanese polpette (meatball) and is typical dish of the poor. It uses all different cuts of meat, which is cooked off and then processed and then shaped into patties, crumbed and fried. Clearly not a vegan dish, but if you are a meat lover this was probably the most delicious meatball I have ever tasted. It is full of flavor and very delicious. I am satisfied I have tried it, but knowing all the meat that is needed to make this dish, is enough for me be content not to have it again.

Risotto allo zafferano is also a typically dish of the Lombardia. This dish dates back to 1574, when a Valerio da Perfundavalle, Flemish master of glass making, was called to Milan to work on the magnificent Duomo. He came with family and his apprentice, who was nicknamed ‘Zafferano‘ (saffron). He was nicknamed this because of his talent of mixing yellow powder from saffron to create brilliant golden tones. Zafferano fell in love with his master’s beautiful daughter, who was already betrothed and on her wedding day (8th of September 1574), Zafferano was so jealous that he put saffron in the wedding risotto. Instead of being a catastrophe, it was praised because of its beautiful golden color and the strong aroma of the saffron. Since then this dish became a staple of Milanese cuisine and saffron became one of the most widely used spices in the Middle Ages. Today there are many variations of this dish, which use mushrooms, seafood, sausages or beef shanks. One of the more famous variations, which is often confused with this dish is Risotto alla Milanese or risòtt giald , which you will find in many restaurants in Milan. The this variation uses beef marrow and doesn’t use white wine.

I love both Risotto allo zafferano and Risotto alla Milanese. In class Chef Gualtiero didn’t add the butter or Parmesan to  dish mine so it was dairy free. Although a simple modification, I had trouble asking for that from restaurants in Milan, so I usually just ate it home or with family. I did however share the Risotto alla Milanese and the Cotoletta alla Milanese, with Marco on his first week in Milan. We wanted to sample the regional dishes of every city we visited. On this particular day it freezing as it was in the was the middle of winter and it was snowing outside. It was so nice to have a hot meal in a warm restaurant in Cairoli. Although it was more expensive then having lunch in a trattoria, it was a nice experience. As you can see they were very generous with the portions and the Parmesan. Below is also a picture of  my aunt and I in front of the Duomo, on my first day in Milan.

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La Cotoletta alla Milanese

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Il Risotto alla Milanese

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Duomo in Milano

So for dinner I tried to recreate the Risotto allo zafferano. I served with Funghi trifolati (mushrooms sautéed) and a Fry’s Schnitzel. It’s not exactly a Cotoletta, but it was the closes thing I had. I had to use imitation saffron for this dish, since the only saffron I found was $14 for 5 g from Coles and I thought it was a bit too much to pay for a few threads of saffron. So it didn’t have the aroma, but it did give it the beautiful golden color and it tasted amazing. For dessert I made Sbrisolona, which you can see below.

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Risotto allo zafferano (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3-4 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

1 cup diced onion

500g aborbio rice

1 cup white wine

1 -1.25 litre vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

few saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon imitation saffron

Method:

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1. Take a large pot and fill with the liquid stock and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

2. In the meantime take another large pot and melt butter. Then add the onion. Cook for 3 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add aborbio rice to pot and coat in the butter and onions, let it toast for 3 mins.

4. Add the wine to the rice 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 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.

6. Add saffron and stir through. The rice should change colour to yellow. Continue to add stock and stir, until the rice is cooked.

*Melt more vegan butter before serving and serve with or without vegan parmesan

* Serves 6-8

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Funghi trifolati (Sautéed Mushrooms) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1 packet dried mushrooms, soaked in water  for 20 minutes, then and roughly chopped

fresh minced basil & italian parsley

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil in a pan, then add garlic. Saute for 2 mins. ???????????????????????????????

2. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 mins or until golden brown.

3. Take off the heat and add fresh basil, parsley and season with sea salt.

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Sbrisolona or Torta Mantovana Sbrisolona, is a traditional crunchy cake from Mantova (Mantua), Lombardia. It gets its name from the mantovana dialect sbrisciolare, which means to crumble, which is the best way to describe this cake. It is made of white flour, corn flour, almond meal and butter. Traditionally it was a peasants sweet, so they used lard instead of butter and the cheapest nuts, rather then almonds. But since then the recipe has become more refined and has become a famous abroad. This cake is not cut in slices, rather is it crumbed in to pieces.

This cake dates back to as early as the 5th century and was first written about by the Gonzaga court. The House of Gonzaga ruled Mantova from 1323 to 1708, which is relatively long, compared to other royal families and duchies in Italy. The court cooks gave this humble cake a remake, added sugar, spices and almonds. There are many variations that have been developed over time, including using olive oil instead of butter and adding dark chocolate.

When I was in Italy I took a course about Leonardo Da Vinci and Renaissance Art. Da Vinci worked for the Sforza court in Milan, who were allied with the Gonzaga court in Mantova. I was intrigued by the Gonzaga family and the pictures of their magnificent castle. So I went to the city of Mantova, where I found not only the most beautiful castle I have ever seen, but found some amazing dishes as well. We tried the Tortelli di zucca and the Risotto alla mantova. I tried to recreate the Tortelli di zucca in one of my earlier posts. It is one of the most exquisite dishes I have ever tasted. We also tried a small version of the Sbrisolona there, but it was nothing like the one we made fresh in class with Chef Gualitero. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of them or inside the castle.

Pasta and cakes in Mantova

Pastas and cakes in Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

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Tortelli di Zucca

Risotto alla Mantova

Risotto alla Mantova

For my Sbrisolona I changed the ingredients a little bit so it would be more healthier vegan version. I used coconut sugar and vegan butter. I also used soy milk instead of egg yolks to moist the cake. It still turned out very delicious and crumbly, but I did brown it a little too much. I should of put foil on it while it was cooking in the oven oven, which I didn’t do until the last 10 mins. It is extremely easy to make and a great sweet to have with coffee after a meal.

Sbrisolona (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

100g tipo 00 flour

100 g corn flour

100g coconut sugar or evaporated cane sugar or raw sugar

80g ground almonds

zest from 1 small lemon

100g vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

30g whole almonds

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare a round baking dish with baking paper or take an aluminum pie  pan.

2. Take a mixing bowl and sift the flours.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the sugar and ground almond and stir through.

4. Add lemon zest, vegan butter, vanilla extract and soy milk. Use your fingers to mix the dough. It should be slightly moist.

5. Press the dough into the baking dish, firmly with your fingers. Then push the whole almonds into the top. Bake for 40-45 mins.

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Il “risòtt giald” 2013, <www.aismilano.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1085:park-il-risott-giald&catid=3:ricette&Itemid=276>

Sbrisolona – The Italian Cookie 2011, <http://mariomatassa.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/sbrisolona-italian-cookie.html&gt;