Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli

This dish is an adaption of one of my favourite recipes, Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans, from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. This is one of my go to recipes when I’m in a hurry and need a creamy beany comfort dish. For my recipes I decided to add fresh broccoli and broccoli leaves, which full of Vitamin K and Vitamin C. Vitamin K is something I’m really focusing on increasing in my third trimester. I also added mine and Marco’s new favourite pasta, Gemelli. I just love the texture of this pasta. Its tender and chewy and catches the sauce really well. You can find it at good deli’s.

DSC03809

Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli (vegan, gluten free option, soy free option, nut free option)

Ingredients:

2-3 serves of gemelli pasta or other short pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon italian herbs

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup broccoli leaves or baby spinach

1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cooked cannellini beans

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (or more to taste)

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet directions.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat, then add garlic and italian herbs. Saute for 1 minute.

3. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for few minutes. Add more olive oil or some pasta water if the broccoli sticks to the pan.

4. Add the broccoli leaves and saute for another minute. If your using baby spinach add in the next step.

4. Add plant milk, sea salt, cannellini beans and nutritional yeast. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

5. Add lemon juice and add more seasoning if you need, then serve immediately.

*Serves 2-3

I have been having mad craving for sweets since halfway through my second trimester. Apparently that’s typical when your expecting a little girl. But I feel really guilty every time I indulgent in something that’s got too much sugar or not so vegan. Plus I don’t want my baby to be born a sugar fiend like her father.These Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites from The Oh She Glows Cookbook really hit the spot. They are sweet enough with only the additional of a little bit of maple syrup and some dark chocolate chips. Other then that they only contain oats, almonds, peanut butter, sea salt, vanilla and coconut oil. They are a great snack you can keep in the freezer when your sugar tooth strikes.

DSC03817

Another recipe I made from The Oh She Glows Cookbook is this Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge. You can see a similar recipe for the Raw Buckwheat Porridge on the author, Angela’s blog. I made this recipe ages ago and forgot how good it was. I added some fresh organic strawberries, coconut yoghurt, toasted pepitas seeds and toasted shredded coconut. The perfect easy breakfast for a hungry mama.

DSC03812

Advertisements

Tempeh in a Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti

I have had the worse flu this past week. I haven’t been this sick in over a year. I never take medication for the flu or get the flu shot and and normally I’m only sick for a couple of days. This time however it has been  a lot harder for my body to spring back from. Perhaps because I’m pregnant. But slowly I’m getting better and less reliant on my tissue box.

So I haven’t been that inspired in the kitchen this past week. Today I was feeling a little better so I tried to create a delicious tempeh dish that Marco would actually eat. Marco hates tempeh with a passion. So I haven’t cook it in a while. Luckily I took a gamble today and he actually enjoyed lunch.

Tempeh Piccata from Chloe's Kitchen (Chloe Coscarelli)

I was inspired by Chef Chloe’s Tempeh Piccata that I made a while ago. I absolutely loved that dish. But haven’t made it again after the reaction I got from Marco and his mother. I assured them they would like it but they really didn’t. They aren’t big fans of capers or acidic flavors which I think made it a lot worse. I wanted to try making something similar but with a tomato based sauce with lots of flavor so that no one knew they were eating tempeh. Marco’s dad certainly didn’t know what he was eating. He asked what meat is this and then asked that I leave him some for dinner. So it was a tempeh success!

DSC03124

Tempeh in Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

300g tempeh, sliced into thin triangular pieces (I used Nutrisoy Organic Tasty Tempeh)

1 small red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tomatoes, diced

sea salt and black pepper to taste

250ml good quality tomato pasta sauce (I used Aldi’s Just Organic Basil and Garlic Pasta Sauce)

250ml filtered water

4 serves of spaghetti to serve

Method:

1. Take a large heavy based pan and heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium. In batches brown the tempeh on each side. Remove from the pan and leave to the side.

2. Add some more olive oil and then add red onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and once it starts to brown add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute for a couple more minutes.

3. Add 1/4 cup of red wine to the pan. Once it has been absorbed, return the tempeh to the pan, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and another 1/4 cup of red wine.

4. Once most of the wine has been absorbed add tomato pasta sauce and water. Allow it to come to a lite boil, then leave on a simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. If it starts to dry out add some pasta water to the sauce.

5. Cook the pasta according to packet directions and serve with the sauce.

* Serves 4

DSC03112DSC03116

 

Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

After that lovely living lasagne yesterday I was really in the mood for one of my favourite things I use to prepare with Marco before I stopped eating dairy. We use to often make spinach & ricotta or pumpkin & ricotta cannelloni together. I was originally going to make a spinach tofu filling with a creamy bechamel, but I had no unsweetened plant milk in the house. So I tried to make a filling of ‘ricotta’ using cashew and tofu with some fresh spinach and topped it with a home made tomato sauce. It definitely had the texture of ricotta. I was convinced it tasted like ricotta. Marco not so much, because he still indulges in dairy products, but he said it was still very delicious. He had seconds, so that’s always a good sign. Unfortunately I was not able to get a good picture of the cannelloni, but trust me what it lacks in aesthetics it made up for in taste. Looking forward to having leftovers again tonight!

???????????????????????????????

Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

250g cannelloni shells (use gluten free cannelloni if you prefer)

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Prepare the sauce first. Heat olive oil in a medium size pot and then add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till transparent.

3. Add the passata sauce, water, raw sugar and season. Bring to a boil and then leave on a simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. If you haven’t soaked the cashews, cook in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

5. Place cashews in a kitchen processor. First break down the cashews a little, then add water while it is running. I used my processor instead of my Vitamix so that there would still be the texture of ricotta, rather then cream.

6. While it is running add tofu cubes.???????????????????????????????

7. Once tofu has broken down a bit add olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, while the processor is running.???????????????????????????????

8.  Add 2 cups of spinach leaves to the ricotta and let the processor run until they break down into the ricotta. Then add the next to cups but don’t break down the spinach too much.???????????????????????????????

9. The sauce should be ready now, so add diced basil leave and leave to the side.

10. Put a couple of ladles of the sauce into a large baking tray, so that you can’t see the bottom.

11. Fill the cannelloni shells with the filling and place into the baking tray. I managed to use all the filling except for two shells.

12. Top with with the sauce and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the cannelloni shells are cooked. If you have plenty of leftover sauce use to reheat leftovers the next day.

*Serves 6

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts

Over the past week I have managed to get back on the juice train and juice everything in my fridge. This is how my latest favourite pasta dish was born. With only green beans and onions I tried to make something appetizing enough, that keep me away from my mums Rigatoni Bolognese. I ended up making this again for Marco and I. Even though he though he would hate it, he ended up liking it.

DSC06590

Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 serves penne or other short pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic, diced

2 handfuls of green beans, topped,tail and cut into thirds

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1-2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a non-stick pan, then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 mins till they are slightly browned. Turn down the heat while cooking so it doesn’t burn.

2. Add the green beans and cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the capers and pine nuts. Continue to cook until the green beans are tender.

4. Take off the heat then add the hot pasta, nutritional yeast, sea salt and black pepper.

*Serves 2

???????????????????????????????

Revisit The Shady Palm and discover the Flamingo

I can’t believe how fast this weekend has gone. It’s been lovely weather for winter. It’s been really hot during the day, so no needs for jackets and tights. I have been trying to get as much Vitamin D as I can, hoping it will make up the weekdays. It was also perfect weather for brunch. Over the weekend we revisited The Shady Palm Cafe for lunch and tried another new discovery Flamingo Cafe for Sunday breakfast.???????????????????????????????

This was our third visit to The Shady Palm Cafe, however it was our first for lunch. When we arrived it was just as busy and bustling as usually. We already knew what we were ordering. For lunch they have two vegan options, one shared dish and one main. I didn’t know what to order, so I had to order both. I ordered the Crispy Plantain and Peanut Fritters with Mojo and the Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, black beans and corn salsa. Marco ordered the Handcut Fried Potatoes with Chipotle Mayo and three Sliders with different meats fillings.

Crispy Plaintain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

Crispy Plantain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

These fritters were really delicious. I don’t know how to describe the flavor, because I this was the first time I have tried plantain. I think was the sweet tomato sauce was the ‘mojo’, This sauce was amazing and really brought the dish alive. Marco really liked these fritters too. We definitely would order these again.

Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, blackbean and corn salsa

Fried Okra Tacos with Chimmichurri, ranch, black bean and corn salsa

Handcut Fried Potatoes

Handcut Fried Potatoes

I really loved my main dish. Like the fritters, it was like nothing I have had before. I was expecting hard shelled tacos, like you get out of the box. But this was a nice surprise. I am a big fan of okra, but I have only used it with Asian dishes before. All the flavors of the components went really well together. The potatoes were also great accompaniment too. They mayo wasn’t vegan, but they were great without that anyway. It was actually meant to accompany Marcos sliders, but I can never say no to hot chips. Its my one weakness which I have never been able to kick. So we had a great experience yet again at The Shady Palm Cafe. Although they only have a couple of vegan options, they were good enough for me to come back especially for.

This morning for brunch we decided to try somewhere we haven’t been before. I’m not sure how I found out about Flamingo Cafe. They were listed as vegan friendly, so we had to go and check them out. They are in Fortitude Valley, just off the main shopping strip on Ann Street, in a tiny side street. They are surrounded by shops with independent designers and alternative fashion. We decided to sit inside since it was extremely sunny and were greeted by really friendly waitresses. The decor was really quirky and retro, from the vibrant pineapple wallpaper to the artdeco chandeliers. It is like no other cafe in Brisbane. I have read many review from others who say its their favorite hangover cafe, but I’m not sure I would want be hungover in a place like this. However, being sober I really enjoyed the visual appeal of this little oasis.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

The menu is not very long, but it does change regularly and they have daily specials. I was happy to see a vegan option that didn’t have to be altered. I ordered the Slow Cooked Beans with English Spinach, Herb Salt and Toast. Marco ordered the MSA Minute Steak with Caramelized onions, Fried F.R Egg, tarragon mayo, tomato relish and Rocket. I also ordered the Flamingo Ice Tea to drink.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

My slow cooked beans included a variety of beans, including lima, chickpeas and cannelini beans, with lots of fresh herbs. It was really nice. The only thing I would say is that I would of liked the flavor of the tomato stronger and pack more of a punch. Luckily I had plenty of sea salt to add. The bread was really nice and crispy and the serve was really generous. The signature Flamingo Ice Tea was really amazing. The flavor of  mint, lemon and ginger were really strong and made this drink really memorable. I usually get a coffee, but it was nice to have something so refreshing. Marco was quite happy with his dish. I have to say that his caramelized onions were pretty good. Overall it was a good experience and I would go back with friends. Only con was that the parking in that area is a bit risky and mostly a tow away zone.

After brunch we went over to one of Marco’s new discoveries, Flour and Chocolate. His friend took him last week for Cronuts. Even though I couldn’t eat anything there he wanted to get something for the ‘kids’ (his nieces and nephew). It really is a lovely little patisserie. While we were there I asked the owner about vegan options. She told us about the amazing baguettes and sourdough loafs they do in many different flavors throughout the week. So I don’t Marco visiting them during the week, so long as he brings me some crispy French bread. While he was choosing treats for the ‘kids’ I spotted something I haven’t seen before, Organic Bread Flour. Looking forward to making some focaccia or cinnamon scrolls very soon.

DSC06563The last thing I wanted to share was the most creamy guilty free vegetable pasta I made a couple of nights ago. I had heaps of cooked bucatini leftover and I was craving something creamy. It was also a great way to use a heap of green veggies that had been neglected in my fridge. I also made a cherry tomato foccacia with left over pizza dough. However I wasn’t too happy with it, since it was more like a biscuit then a pizza bread. It wasn’t thick enough and over cooked. I will try this again soon and include the recipe. Its something I really miss that I use to eat really often as a quick lunch in Milan.

???????????????????????????????

Creamy Pasta Primavera (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 serves of long pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1 cup cashews (soaked or raw)

1 cup water,

1 cup frozen/fresh broad beans (and/or peas)

olive oil

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 large zucchini, sliced in batons

1 bunch asparagus, chopped half

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

3 leaves of curly kale, without stems, sliced

1/2 tsp nutmeg (more to taste)

1/2 almond milk

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked your cashews, boil for 10 mins. Put in high speed blender and break down cashews, then gradually add water till you get cashew cream.

2. In the meantime boil the broad beans for 5 minutes. Then remove from hot water, rinse to cool down, then remove skin. Put to the side.

3. Heat large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.

4. Add zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes. ???????????????????????????????

5. Add asparagus and wine. Let the wine absorb and continue to saute until the zucchini and asparagus are tender.

6. Add kale and sea salt. Saute for a minute so that the kale is no longer dry and is bright green in color.???????????????????????????????

7. Add the broad beans, cashew cream and almond milk (add more if cashew cream sticks to pan). Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Cook until the cashew cream and almond milk combine and become nice and creamy.

8. Add the cooked hot pasta to the sauce and coat in the sauce and serve

*Serves 3

???????????????????????????????

Bucatini all’amatriciana and Verdure grigliate

The past couple of days Marco and I have been going into work really early. When I say early I meet leaving the house at 6 am. It wouldn’t be so bad if I went to bed a little early and didn’t get woken up by students showering at 3 am and getting up to turn off the fridge beeping twice around 4 am every night. Strangely enough once I get up I actually feel pretty good. Yesterday we decided to have an early breakfast at a local cafe near my work. While we were waiting for our meals I lrg_2400was flicking through an old addition of Jamie Olives Magazine from April/May 2010. Marco was looking over my shoulder and when I went past Jamie’s Bucatini all’amatriciana he snatched the magazine and said I am making this tonight!

Considering he only knows how to cook eggs and toast I was surprised about his enthusiasm. Then I realized that it was because he wanted this dish because it had meat. He knows there no chance I was going to make something with Pancetta. Besides the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore, I also remember the sweet delicious flavor of Italian pancetta and proscuitto and quite frankly its still too temping for me to prepare for someone else.

Later that afternoon we went to the supermarket on Marco’s mission to buy Pancetta. We went to two big supermarkets and once we finally found it I managed to talk him out of it. From a health persective I don’t understand why ingredients like gluten, soy, lactose, sodium nitrate, glucose, preservatives, etc, need to be included. Italian hams do not include any of this. So after scrutinizing the ingredients he agreed to go with my promise of making a vegan alternative.img30l

Bucatini all’amatricana is famous traditional dish from the region of Lazio in Italy. L’amatriciana (matriciana in Roman dialect) gets it’s name from the Italian town Amatrice, Lazio. The dish is made from the ingredients typical of Lazio, cured pork jaws (Guanciale di maiale), pecorino cheese, and tomatoes.

L’amatriciana is actually derived from another older dish, La gricia. This is also one of the most famous Italian dishes from the same region. This dish is considered its ancestor, as it predates the importation of tomatoes to Europe. La gricia is also made with cured pork jaws and pecorino cheese. It is  believed that it was named after the Grici, who use sell bread and groceries to the Romans. The were perhaps called Grici because they had emigrated from the Swiss canton of Grisons. Alternatively it is thought that the dish was named after the hamlet of Grisciano, which is in a comune of Accumoli, near Amatrice.Apicius_1709

Tomatoes were not introduced to Europe until the 18th century. In fact the first written record of tomatoes being used as a sauce with pasta was from the 1790 cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. The L’amatriciana later became one of the most famous sauces during the 19th to early 20th century in Rome. This was perhaps because of its close proximity  between Rome and Amatrice. Thus, it became a classic dish of Roman Cuisine. Although La gricia is still prepared throughout central Italy, the L’amatriciana is more well known throughout and outside of Italy.

The recipe of the sauce does vary throughout Lazio. The main ingredients are pork jaws, tomato and pecorino and olive oil. are always used, Olive oil is generally used, but some recipes call for strutto (canned pork lard) instead. The cheese type of pecorino cheese used is Pecorino romano or Pecorino amatriciano. Other ingredients such as black pepper or chili pepper, onion (not used in Amatrice)  and garlic are also acceptable.bucatini

This dish is typically prepared with Bucatini pasta. This is a thick long pasta with a hole through the center. The name is derived from the Italian word ‘buco’ meaning ‘hole’. This type of pasta is very common throughout Rome and Lazio. It is made of hard durum wheat flour and water. It usually takes about nine mintues to cook and is often served with buttery sauces, pork jaws (guanciale), pancetta, vegetables, cheese, eggs, anchovies or sardines. This dish is also typically prepared with Rigatoni or other dry pastas, but never fresh pasta.

I remember that we did eat this pasta somewhere when we were in Italy, so I was going back through my photos and found these (below). This is in a restaurant in Trastevere, Rome. We ordered Bucatini all’amatriciana, Patate arroste and Polla alla Romana. The pasta was definitely the best part.

Rome

So how to make this vegan? I used tempeh as a meat substitute. This is my favorite thing to substitute bacon, meatballs and sausages. To give it the smokey taste I used liquid smoke. After marinating the tempeh and frying it it really did have that smoked meat flavour. Then with the wine and tomatoes and really helped it come together as a delicious sauce. Marco loved this dish and said he was happy to have this instead. He was a bit worried while I was cooking it but once he tried my sauce he was very pleased.

???????????????????????????????

Bucatini all’amatriciana (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

150g Tempeh pancetta (ingredients below)

1 red chili, diced

6-7 small tomatoes, diced

1 can good quality Polpa (Italian diced tomato pulp)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

4 serves of Bucatini/gf long pasta (400 g)

Ingredients for Tempeh Pancetta (150 g):

2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp agave

sea salt to taste

Method:

???????????????????????????????

1. First make the Tempeh Pancetta. Slice the tempeh into thin strips, then slice it the other way so they you have small strips. Place the tempeh in a bowl and drizzle liquid smoke, soy sauce, agave and sea salt. Toss through so that it coats all the tempeh. Leave to marinate at least 10 minutes.

2. Bring a small pot to the boil, then drop in the whole tomatoes. Boil for 1 minute or until the skin slighly brakes. Then remove them from the water and plunge into ice water. Peep the tomatoes, remove the seeds then dice the flesh.

3. Heat a large pan or pot with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Fry for 3 minutes or until translucent.???????????????????????????????

4. Then add Tempeh Pancetta and fry for another 5 minutes.???????????????????????????????

5. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates. Should take about 5 minutes.

6. Add the diced tomatoes, chili and can of polpa. Fill the half the can with water and add that to the pan as well.

7. Season generously with sea salt and bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer and leave to cook for 30 minutes.

8. Before the sauce is ready cook the pasta in boiling salty water, until al dente. Then move the pasta from the water straight into the hot sauce. Toss through and serve with cracked black pepper.

*Serves 4

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

On the side I made grilled vegetables. This is also something we ate a lot in Italy as contorni (side dish). Although I was still eating meat back then, I still craved vegetables. So simple to prepare and really delicious!

???????????????????????????????

Verdure grigliate (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

sea salt to taste

1 eggplant

2 bunches asparagus

2 zucchini (any other vegetables you like)

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

1. First slice the eggplant into thin strips and then halve again if you like. Add salt onto the eggplant and leave for at least 10 minutes to remove the bitterness. After wipe off the moisture and the salt from the eggplant.

2. In the meantime prepare the rest of the vegetables. Chop the zucchini in half, then slice into thin strips. Remove the woody end of the asparagus then chop in half and slice in half again, so they are thin and long.

3. Brush the griddle pan with olive oil and heat. Brush the vegetables with olive oil, then add in batches to the griddle pan. All the vegetables have difference cooking time, between 2-5 minutes. I cooked the eggplant first and brushed with extra oil while they cooked if there were dry parts. Then I cooked the zucchini and asparagus in batches.Season with sea salt while cooking or after the vegetables are cooked to serve

*Serves 4

Amatriciana, 2013 <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amatriciana>

Bucatini, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucatini>

Jamie Magazion 2010 April/May 2010, Amatriciana Pasta Sauce, 2010 <http://www.icanhascook.com/amatriciana-pasta-sauce/>

National Bacon Week – Bucatini Amatriciana, 2013 <http://www.loverofcreatingflavours.co.uk/category/features/food/vegetables-food/grow-your-own/herbs-grow-your-own/parsley/>

Sugo all’amatriciana, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugo_all’amatriciana>

Tempeh Tempations

I can’t believe another week has gone by so quickly. I have been counting down the days to my graduation. On Tuesday night I will finally be graduation (after I don’t even want to think about how many years) from university. I will be finishing with a Dual degree in Business and Arts, majoring in Marketing, Italian Language and History & Cultural Heritage. I have also just received an award for Academic Excellence for 2012-13. I am sad that my university days are finally coming to an end, but its nice to get the awards to finally show something for all these years. Not sure how long I will be able to stay away from studying though. I have been spending all my free time at work looking up Honors courses I want to take in the ‘future’ and have been reading anything I can get my hands on.

Will all this free time you would think I would have time to be creative in the kitchen, but actually I am usually very tire after work and have been making a lot of meals that get eaten over days for dinners and lunches. Marco doesn’t like having the same thing more then twice, but the days of having a different meal every night are over. Well at least for the moment. I have been cooking a fair bit with tempeh lately. I really like the chewy texture and the trying different ways to use it. Something I didn’t post recently was a vegan massamam curry with tempeh and potatoes. I wasn’t so sure about that combination. But for making sausages, meatballs, steaks or just to add to a chew texture to a pasta sauce it works really well.

If you don’t know what tempeh is don’t feel silly, I only discovered it a couple of years back when I read about it in my first vegan cookbook. After I while I finally got the courage to use it and now I love it. “Tempeh is a traditional soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. It originated in Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue”. It tastes and looks completely different to tofu. There are also many differences, which you can see below (source).

tempeh

My Shiitake mushrooms have been doing really well. I finally have a few that I could try out. I though they would have a really strong taste like the dried variety, but they are actually quite mellow. They are more flavorsome then the regular white mushrooms and have a kind of meaty chewy texture.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

Last night we had the kids over. They all wanted to have pasta so I made them a delicious tomato sauce with red onion and capsicum. For Marco and I wanted to make something a little more interesting. So I decided to make a pasta dish with tempeh, shiitake mushrooms and french lentils. I thought that it would be like a vegetarian bolognese. It didn’t really turn out like I thought, but it was really tasty. I felt a bit bad that the kids was so simple, but that’s what they wanted and I was too scared they wouldn’t like ours. Marco was a bit envious of the kids, until he tried ours. On the side I made some Frys Meat Free Pops. Everyone loved them and they were a good incentive for everyone to finish their dinner. Not that they needed much, all the kids had seconds of the pasta.

???????????????????????????????

The kids pasta dish

Frys Meat Free Pops

Frys Meat Free Pops

DSC06288

For this pasta I used an Italian brand of finely diced tomatoes, Mutti from Parma. I am pretty sure this is the same one that we were cooking with when we lived in Italy. I asked my Aunty in Milan what her secret was to her delicious pasta sauce and she told me it was the quality of the diced tomatoes. She showed me this brand that she used and I finally found it in Coles of all places.

???????????????????????????????

DSC06282

Pasta Shells with Tempeh, Shiitake Mushrooms and French Lentil in a Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 serves pasta shells (use gluten free pasta shells if you prefer)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 red capsicum, diced

3/4 cooked french lentils

100g tempeh

3-4 shiitake mushrooms

1 can good quality finely diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar or more to taste

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

???????????????????????????????

1. Heat olive oil then saute red onion and garlic for 5 mins on medium heat. Then add capsicum and saute for another few minutes till all is caramelized.

2. Add tempeh and shiitake mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes.

3. Add the french lentils,  a can of finely diced tomatoes and oregano. Season with sugar, salt and pepper and cook for 30-40 mins (the longer the better).

4. Cook the pasta until al dente and then serve with the pasta sauce.

*Serves 4

After dinner we made New York-Style Crumb Cake from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts. This was amazing! I will be definitely making this again. It tastes store bought but completely vegan. If you don’t have the book, you can see the recipe here.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

During the week I made Baked Rigatoni with Tempeh Sausage. I made a similar combination to the Tempeh Sausages from Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole. However I didn’t add any oil or flour to the sausages and just form the mixture into balls. The tempeh gave that meaty texture that I really miss from my mums baked pasta with sausage.

???????????????????????????????

Baked Rigatoni with Tempeh Sausage (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages:

300g  tempeh

3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/4 cup tamari or light soy sauce (more to taste)

Ingredients for Italian seasoning (makes 1/2 cup):

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel (grinded fennel seeds)

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Rest of Ingredients:

500g rigatoni (use gluten free rigatoni if you prefer)

1 tablespoon olive oil

700 ml passata sauce

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves

1 red capsicum

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar to taste

vegan mozarella, grated (I used Notzarella)???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. To make the Tempeh Sausages, cut the tempeh into cubes and steam for 15 mins. Then allow it to cool or if your impatient rinse with cold water. Then break up into crumbs and place into a mixing bowl.DSC06246

3. Add the Italian Seasoning and tamari, add more to make more salty.

4. In the meantime, take a pot and saute red onion, garlic and capsicum with olive oil till caramelized.  Then add passata sauce, oregano leaves sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer for 20-30 mins.

5. While the sauce is cooking bring a pot to the boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.

6. Take a baking tray and put some sauce on the bottom. Then add the pasta and some more sauce and toss though, so the pasta is coated in sauce.

7. Form balls with the tempeh mixture and place them on top and between the pasta.

8. Lastly top with more pasta sauce and grated notzarella. Bake for 30-40 mins.

*Serves 8

???????????????????????????????

For more Tempeh recipes check out my Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage CasseroleLoaded Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Tempeh ‘Bacon’, Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’ with Red Wine Tomato SauceFettuccine alla bolognese and Mock Tuna Salad.

Last thing I want to share is the amazing Cherry Pita that I had at Pitstop Pastries and Pizza over the weekend in West End. Best part was that it was completely vegan! I think I am going to have to order some more to keep for mid week morning teas.

DSC06266

Best Baked Cheezy Butternut Pumpkin Pasta

Hi all, over the weekend I had one of the mini Marco’s come stay with me. On Saturday I took him to the city and we got to see the Scottish march for Tartan Day. Apparently we have had the Tartan Day celebration for the last 17 years. This was news to me. Although I do remember a few years back when I was living in Spring Hill and a parade of drums and bagpipes marched past my bedroom window. I thought my housemate had gone mad and was trying to torture me by turning up the music louder and louder. Marco’s nephew was really excited to see the bagpipes the Scottish dogs marching too.

DSC05935

DSC05934

After that we went to the Modern Art Gallery and got to make Kangaroo masks, hop around the enclosure and make posters. Not sure who was having more fun.

???????????????????????????????

For dinner I wanted to make something that was kid friendly. I have tried out vegan cheesy nutritional yeast sauces before with Marco’s niece and nephew, but this mini Marco really didn’t like it. But I am persistent and I figure eventually he would get a taste for it. I have trialed this approach with big Marco and usually by the 6th try he will eat it happily.  Well I was in luck because tonight he really liked it.

I think I have finally perfected this recipe too. My vitamix also really helped to get the cashews and pumpkin really creamy and the panko crumbs gave it a nice crunchy top. The only thing he didn’t like was the crunchy top, but this was big Marco’s favorite part.

This recipe can easily be made gluten free with gluten free pasta and gluten free panko crumbs (or no crumbs). I always thicken vegan cheesy sauces and other sauces with Arrowroot flour (tapioca flour), because I prefer it. It is also gluten free. You can find this in any Coles or Woolworths in the baking section. You can also buy Nutritional yeast at any health food store. I love this stuff and really recommend it to anyone who wants to try out dairy free cooking. It also has lots Vit B, so its good for you and won’t stick to your pots.

Although this was the best Baked Cheezy Butternut Pumpkin Pasta, these are not the best photos ever. But trust me this tastes a lot better and looked alot better then what my photos portray.

???????????????????????????????

Best Baked Cheezy Butternut Pumpkin Pasta (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews

4 cups chopped butternut pumpkin (peeled)

2 tablespoons vegan butter

2 cups almond milk

2 tablespoons tapicoa flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

500g penne or macaroni (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

3 tablespoons panko crumbs

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. If you haven’t soaked cashews, then boil them for 10 mins. Then place in the blender with 1/4 cup of water and blend to make cashew cream. Add another 1/4 cup of water if you need to help break down the cashews to make them more creamy.???????????????????????????????

3. In the meantime, steam the pumpkin until its soft. Then add the steamed pumpkin to the cashew cream and blend till smooth.

4. Cook the penne according to packet directions.

5. In the meantime prepare the cheesy sauce. Melt the nutlex in a large pan on low heat. While it is melting combine the almond milk and arrowroot flour and whisk. Then add the almond milk to the pan with the melted butter.

6. While the sauce is heating add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, tumeric and whisk until it thickens.

7. Then add the nutitional yeast and whisk.

8. Take the sauce off the heat. Then add the pumpkin and cashew cream to the sauce and whisk through.???????????????????????????????

9. Place a couple ladles of the sauce on the bottom of a large caserol dish. Then add the pasta and add the rest of the sauce. Stir it through, so that all the sauce is coating the pasta.

10. Top the pasta with a panko crumbs, then bake for 30 mins.

*Serves 6

???????????????????????????????

For more similar recipes check out my: Baked ‘Cheesy’ Fusilli Bolognese (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free), Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetable (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

BBQ Tofu Bagel and Linguine with Kale in a Pumpkin Cashew Sauce

I’ve still been quite busy with uni. Yesterday I had my Italian exam, which I hope will be the last exam I ever sit. Not sure it went too well, so I am praying for a pass. All that’s left to go now is to hand my last assignment for history. By friday or maybe sunday I should be finished for good and I can’t wait! Then I can put more effort into cooking. My mum has been cooking more for us lately or I whip up something quick and simple for us.

Yesterday I got a chance before my exam to go back down to Fundies Wholefood Market for their Friends day. Once a month they offer 15% off, so I thought it was worth buying up on organic fruit and veggies. I recently saw the EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Although this data is from the USA, in Australia we do use a lot of the same pesticides. In fact I did an assignment a while back and I found that we use a lot of pesticides that are illegal in other countries.

In the last couple of years since I have been buying and growing more organic produce I really notice the difference in the taste. I notice that particularly conventional apples, zucchini, green beans, rocket and other leafy greens have a really bitter taste. Marco can taste it as well now and enjoys the taste of organic vegetables much better. Before I went to Europe we were regularly going to the Organic Markets on Sundays, but I have gotten slack since I got back. But this latest shoppers guide has really reminded me why I want to buy organic. We can’t afford or find everything on this list of the Dirty Dozen, but I am going to make a conscious effort to try to buy organic or avoid these ones. So you can see what I bought below. I got most of this stuff for juicing since its something we do every day.

197623_185182908303782_1864708054_n

???????????????????????????????

We also bought these Bagel Boys Sesame Bagels from Fundies. They looked too good to pass up. Coles and Woolies have just recently got bagels, but they are full of preservatives. These ones have completely natural ingredients.521441_10151054742632292_1369225709_n

When we were living in Milan we use to often go to The Bagel Factory for breakfast or lunch, when we were sick of pizza or pasta. We would chose a whole wheat bagel and usually get the Bagel con uova all”occhio di bue  filling, that was full of egg, ham, capsicum and onion. When I wasn’t as hungry I would order the  hummus filling instead. They were both really delicious. In case you didn’t realize I wasn’t vegan this time last year. But now I look back and I can’t believe I use to eat this bagel with all that egg and ham. I remember how good it tastes but I think I ate enough of them to live without them. Marco still has fond memories of these bagels.

Marco really wanted to recreate this breakfast bagel, but instead I made some veganised versions. Yesterday  since we were in a hurry, we quickly cooked up some Fry’s Traditional Burgers, prepared some fresh salad items and stuffed them into our bagels. These were so good! The Bagels were not as good as the fresh ones in Milan, but toasted they still good.

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Today I had a bit more time to think about lunch so I made us these BBQ Tofu Bagels. I still had heaps of homemade BBQ, that I used to make the Sweet and Sour Meatballs from Chloe’s Kitchen a while ago. You can find the recipe for both the sauce and the meat balls on Smith’s Vegan Kitchen blog. I marinated the tofu and the onions in this sauce then cooked them in a griddle pan. These bagels were even better then the day before. This tofu is also really good on its own.

???????????????????????????????

DSC05388

BBQ Tofu Bagel (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

200g organic firm tofu

1/2 homemade BBQ sauce (recipe above)

1 brown onion olive oil

3 bagels (wheat flour/gluten free)

1 tomato sliced

1 small carrot grated

1 small beetroot grated

1/2 cucumber sliced

3 lettuce leaves

1 handful of alfalfa???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Press the tofu, then slice it into 6 pieces.

2. Marinate the tofu and sliced onion in the BBQ sauce.

3. Heat a griddle pan with olive oil, then cook the tofu and onions for 7-10 mins. The onion should be softnened and the tofu should be heated through.

4.Slice the bagels so you have two halfs, then brush them with olive oil and toast them in the griddle pan.

5. Add some extra bbq sauce onto the bagels, then fill them with tofu, onion, sliced tomato, grated carrot, grated beetroot, sliced cucumber, alfalfa and lettuce.

*Serves 3

???????????????????????????????

Tonight Mum went out, I was nearly not going to cook, but I felt guilty having all this food in the fridge. I really wanted to try out this Red Russian Kale that I got from Fundies, so I came up with this. Marco loved this dish and was disappointed I didn’t make enough for seconds. Luckily I have some left over sauce so this will be lunch again tomorrow.

???????????????????????????????

Linguine with Kale in a Pumpkin Cashew Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients for Pumpkin Cashew Sauce: 

3 cups chopped butternut pumpkin (or 2 cups mashed pumpkin)

3/4 cup cashew (raw or presoaked)

1 cup almond or other plant milk

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional for cheezy flavour)

sea salt to taste,

Remaining Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch red russian kale (or other type kale/spinach), roughly chopped

4 serves linguine/other long pasta

2-3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (optional)

italian parsley (optional)

Method:

First Prepare the Sauce:???????????????????????????????

1. Steam the pumpkin in a large pot of water until it is soft. This should take about 20 mins. Then remove the pumpkin and mash it.

2. In the meantime if you haven’t soaked the cashews already, boil them for 10 mins.

3. In a processor, add the cashews and blend them until they are mostly broken down.

4. Add the pumpkin and almond milk and continue to blend. The cashews should be braking down now. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl so there are no pieces of cashew that aren’t being blended.

5. While the processor is on add the dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and sea salt.

Now prepare the rest:

6. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

7. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Then add the kale, sea salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes or until it begins to wilt.

8. Add the pumpkin cashew sauce to the pan and heat through.

9. Serve sauce ontop of hot pasta and garnish with lightly toasted pumpkin seeds and italian parsley.

*Serves 4

The Forest Food Lounge and a new Aldi buy

In between studying this past weekend I found the time to drop into The Forest Food Lounge at West End for some vegan sweetness. I have been here few years ago, when I first went dairy free. We just happened to be walking down Boundary street and I saw the word ‘vegan’ and decided to see if they had any sweets. So when Marco talked me into coming for a drive to West End and mentioned taking me for afternoon tea, I bribed him with ???????????????????????????????The Forest.

The Forest offers a variety of vegan burgers, wraps, sandwiches and pies to order. They also have a salad bar and hot box of different dishes that you can order, such as ‘Fish’ Marsala, Vegetable Thai Green Curry and Ginger Dahl. They often have different faux meats dishes as well. In the dessert window they offer a variety different vegan cheesecakes. I remember a while back I had tried the ginger coconut cheesecake and it was so delicious, after been starved of sweets for so long. Yes I do remember exactly what I had as this was such a monumental day.

This place actually reminds me a lot of the New Leaf Cafe in Murwillumbah, which we visited the day before we got engaged! Another great thing about this place is that its open everyday and they stay open most nights till 10 pm. Which for Brisbane cafes’ that offer vegan food, is a rarity.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

So I ended up ordering the Chocolate Cheesecake. We were going to have it there, but Marco was hungry and didn’t want to eat there. So we took it take away and went to a the sustainable Fish and Chip place, called Swamp Dog, which by the way has great chips! I wasn’t hungry, otherwise I would of insisted on that ‘Fish’ Marsala  dish from The Forest.

So the cheesecake was nice, but I am sorry to say no where near as nice as some of the vegan cheesecakes I have had elsewhere, like the Green Edge or The Cardamom Pod. However, I still recommend this place based on the cheap vegan hot food, that I saw others enjoying and the vegan sweets options for a late night dessert.

???????????????????????????????

As I said I have been studying a lot. Only a two weeks for  my Italian exam and three more week for my research assignment which I am yet to start writing. So besides juicing and buying out local Asian food, most of my meals are ???????????????????????????????pretty boring. When I was at Aldi last week I saw this Giant Baked Beans (Gigandes plaki) and figured they would be a healthy, can free quick meal. They are actually Greek version of Baked beans is quite a popular dish, that I would like try to make soon from scratch.

So yesterday I made a pasta dish with them and this morning I had the rest heated and topped on gluten free toast for breakfast. They are not as saucy as regular baked beans, but they have a nice flavour, are in a glass jar and the actually beans are really delicious. I really hope Aldi keep carrying them, as they have a habit of not continuing some lines.

???????????????????????????????

Wholemeal Fusilli with Giant Baked Beans and Spinach (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 serves Aldi organic wholemeal fusilli/other gf pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 red capsicum, chopped

280g jar Giant Baked Beans

3 handful baby spinach, chopped

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. ???????????????????????????????

2. Heat olive oil in a pan, then add onion, tomatoes and red capsicum. Sauté for a few minute, or until onion has browned and tomatoes have softened a little. ???????????????????????????????

3. Add a 1-2 ladles of pasta water to the pan and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

4. Once the tomatoes have softened enough, so that it has become saucy, add the giant beans (including the oil and sauce from the jar) and season with salt & pepper. Add more pasta water if its is too dry. Cook for a couple more minutes.

5. Add the baby spinach and cook until it wilts.

6. Add the hot pasta to the pan, stir through and serve.

???????????????????????????????