Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes and Peas

A couple of days ago I finally received my copy of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I didn’t even know Chloe Coscarelli had written another book, but as soon as I found out I added it to my Amazon order. I have a been a long time fan of Chloe and have previously bought and cooked recipes from her other books, Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.

I am really excited about this new book because it combines my two favorite things, italian food and guilt free delicious vegan recipes. You probably noticed on my blog that I have many Italian inspired recipes that are recreations of the food I grew up with and other traditional dishes that I have eaten in Italy or always wanted to try. So I am so excited to get some ideas on how to better veganise my favourite recipes.

You can see a sneak peak of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen on Amazon and Google Books.

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: My Vegan MoFo Cookbook of the Week

This recipe below was adapted from Chloe’s White Wine Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peas from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I used dried shiitake mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in mine. Both have really strong flavours that really shone through. Marco was a bit scared when he saw the shiitake mushrooms, but he ended up being really happy with the taste of this risotto and wanted to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

DSC03179Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Peas (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable liquid stock

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (soak for 10 minutes and slice in strips if large pieces)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take medium pot and heat the liquid stock.  Leave it on a simmer while you start cooking the rest of the recipe.

2. Take a large skillet and heat olive oil on medium to high heat. Then add the onion and shiitake mushrooms. Saute until the onions have softened and are translucent.

3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Saute for 1 minute so that the garlic is fragrant.

4. Add the rice and the white wine. Stir through and cook until the white wine has been absorb.

5. Begin to ladle about one cup at a time of liquid stock into the skillet. Stir frequently. Add another ladle of liquid stock once the first has been absorbed and continue until the rice is cooked and there is no more stock. This should take about 20-25 minutes.

6. Add the peas, italian parsley, sea salt and ground black pepper. Stir through until the peas are warmed through. Adjust seasoning if you need and then serve.

*Serves 4

DSC03183So far I have made a couple more dishes from my new favorite cook book. Last night I made Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans (Cannellini all erbe e limone) with Spinach and Mash Potatoes with Garlic and Sea Salt (Purè di patate con aglio e sale marino).  This was the most delicious creamy, cheezy bean dish I have ever had and was really simple and quick to make. The main ingredients are cannellini beans, garlic, nutritional yeast, plant milk and lemon juice. The Mash Potatoes were also really creamy and delicious thanks to the fresh garlic and plant milk.

For dessert I made Olive Oil Pancakes (Frittelle all’olio di oliva). I’ve never cooked pancakes with olive oil and I usually don’t use that much baking soda, but they came out so fluffy and delicious. For a recipe with only 5 ingredients I was really happy with the results and so was Marco. Usually he lathers his pancakes with nutella, but was content with natural maple syrup. Can’t wait to serve this the next time the mini-Marco’s come to visit.

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Korma Curry with Pumpkin and Peas

I miss ordering Korma Curry when I go out to Indian. I don’t order it any more as it is always made with cream. I usually opt for Vegetable Madras, that is made with coconut milk. This recipe uses coconut cream instead and ground cashews to give an extra rich flavour.  I used pumpkin and peas as they are quick to cook and give the curry a nice sweet taste.

What’s your favourite vegan Indian curry?

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Korma Curry with Pumpkin and Peas (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ginger, diced

3 tablespoons (or more) Korma Paste (I used Mudgeeraba South Indian Korma Paste)

1 tomato, diced

1 small green capsicum, sliced into thin strips

3 cups pumpkin cubed

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup cashews, ground into a powder

1 can coconut cream

sea salt to taste

brown basmati rice, steam to serve

Method:

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and korma paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions start to go translucent.

2. Add the tomatoes and green capsicum. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add some 1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

3. Add pumpkin and stir through. Then add 1 cup of water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then leave on a simmer for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin starts to soften.

4. Add the baby green peas, cashew powder, coconut cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Bring to a light boil, the leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Season again if you need and serve with steamed brown basmati rice.

*Serves 4

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Below are some dishes I made from my favourite Cookbooks.

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Baked Peaches with Gooey Nut Crumble, Kind Mama, by Alicia Silverstone

Since I bought Kind Mama I’ve been excited to try Alicia’s Baked Peaches with Gooey Nut Crumble. It contains peaches topped with rolled oats cooked in brown rice syrup and water, raisins, black sesame seeds, chopped walnuts and chopped almonds. Although the recipe didn’t call for it I added some panela (evaporated cane sugar) on top to bake. Marco found it wasn’t sweet enough for him so I added some extra agave syrup when I served it. It was quite delicious for a healthy clean dessert.

Fall Harvest Vegetable Chowder, Forks Over Knives

Fall Harvest Vegetable Chowder, Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook

I really haven’t cooked much from my Forks Over Knives cookbook. I am usually missing on main ingredient, or don’t have enough of the ingredients the recipe calls for. I ended up halving the serving so that I could make this dish. It contains yellow onion, celery, carrots and vegetable stock, zucchini, yam/sweet potato, bay leaves, thyme and corn which are cooked till vegetables are softened. Then blended and heated through with some extra corn and spinach. It was very easy to make and satisfying on a cold night.

Labor weekend recipe roundup

Happy Labor Day weekend fellow Queenslanders! The heat has finally arrived! This weekend has been hot and humid, but really breezy as well. I spent this long weekend with house hunting and spending time with the Mini Marco’s. Below are some of the meals I have prepared over the week.

I finally tried some recipes from Crazy Sexy Diet over the weekend. I adapted her Cornmeal Banana Walnut Pancakes. Since I didn’t have any banana or walnuts, I used dairy free choc chips, which of course the kids loved. I really loved the batter for this recipe. The polenta/cornmeal really gives the pancake a crunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get any photos. Another recipe I tried was her Tofu Country Scramble. Marco and I really loved this. After a year on a plant based diet and I was yet to make a tofu scramble. This tasted really similar to a real egg scramble, but better.

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We also visited The Green Edge with our Living Social Lunch Vouchers. I got Spicy Seitan Burger and a Peanut Butter Milkshake. Marco got the Satay Tofu Burger and Chocolate Milkshake. It was all so good, but I ordered far to much.???????????????????????????????

While I was there I bought a couple of new vegan products. Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener is made of apples, grapes and carob. Its a great substitute to maple syrup and much more cost effective. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder is an organic dry vegan stock, which i really makes a really flavorsome stock and is the best one I have tried. It is also a lot more cost effective then buying liquid stock.

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Over the past couple of weeks when I haven’t felt like cooking I have been bring home takeaway from Vege Rama on my way home from work. For a less then $10 you can get the most delicious vegan thai, indian curries or even a lasagna, which is big enough  for two. Tonight I tried to recreate one of my favorite dishes from there.

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Easy Thai Pumpkin Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons thai red curry paste

1 small red capsicum, chopped

4 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 cups carrot, chopped

2 teaspoon vegan vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups of water

400ml coconut cream

1 tablespoon soy sauce

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

1. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then add onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the oil separates from the curry paste. Then add 1/4 cup coconut cream and heat for few more minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add capsicum, pumpkin and carrot and saute for a 5 minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add coconut cream and soy sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soften.

*Serve with brown rice or another other gluten free grain, or some wholemeal roti

Ever wondered how asparagus risotto gets that beautiful green color? I found this tip in an Italian cook book, to blend the stems of the asparagus spears with the liquid stock before cooking the risotto. I always find that I need more then a litre of stock, so added some of the steamer water to make use of the vitamins that get lost in the water. I haven’t made risotto in so long, so this was a nice treat.

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Green Spring Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunches of broccolini

1 litre vegan chicken liquid stock

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

2 cups risotto rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup frozen peas

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Cashew Parmesan/vegan parmesan (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and the broccolini. Then cut into each spear into 4 parts.

2. Place the asparagus and broccolini in the steamer, except for the tops of them. Leave them to the side for later. Steam for 5 mins or until tender.???????????????????????????????

3. Place steam asparagus and broccolini in the blender with the liquid stock and blend until smooth. Then place on the stock to boil, so that it is ready for the risotto.

4. Heat butter in a large pot, then once its melted add the risotto rice. Toast for a few minutes.

5. Add white wine, onion and garlic to the risotto and allow it the wine to absorb into the rice.???????????????????????????????

6. Now begin adding boiled liquid stock, a ladle at a time. Allow it to absorb into the rice, until adding more. Stir the risotto continuously.

7. About 5 minutes before the risotto is ready, steam the tops of the asparagus, broccolini and the peas. If you need more boiling water for the risotto, you can used this steam water once your finished with it.

8. Take the risotto off the heat and add in the steamed asparagus, broccolini and peas, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

9. Serve with some home-made vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4 main serves, or 6 entree serves

I love eggplant, but I find I don’t it as much as I like because I need to use so much oil to cook it. This recipe is a bit lighter on the oil, but is just as flavorsome. Its also really easy to prepare and is gluten free.

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Stuffed Eggplants with Sun dried Tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 Italian eggplant

olive oil

2 small red onions

3 garlic cloves

10 sun dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pine nuts

small handful of basil

2 tablespoons quinoa crumbs (or gluten free bread crumbs)

sea salt to taste

Method:

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

2. Slice eggplant in half, then use a pairing knife and a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh from the eggplant, just leave the shells.???????????????????????????????

3. Brush the eggplant shells with olive oil, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime chop the eggplant flesh into small pieces and dice the red onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and basil.

5. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until they start to soften.???????????????????????????????

6. Add the eggplant flesh to the pan and saute for 5 minutes, until its cooked. Add another tablespoon of olive or water if the eggplant is too dry.???????????????????????????????

7. Take off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, quinoa crumbs and sea salt. Stir through till combined well.

8. Take out the eggplant shells from the oven and fill with the eggplant stuffing.

9. Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes.

* Serves 2 to 4 depending on the size of the serve.

What to do when you have heaps of canned pineapple leftover from pizza night? I made this delicious dressing for my work salads. Well it only turned out to be one work salad, since I accidentally poured most of this dressing on my kitchen bench.

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Pineapple Poppy seed Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup pineapple pieces

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

3 tablespoon olive oil/other mild oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients, except the poppy seeds in a high speed blender.

2. Stir in the poppy seeds last and serve with salad.

*Makes 250 ml

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Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

Hi all, happy Worldwide Vegan Bake Week! I have been looking forward to this day all week. Today we went to the new Green Edge store in Lutwyche, Brisbane, for their Bake Sale. I don’t eat baked sweets that often, so I was really looking forward to eating a whole lot of sweetness in the name of  our furry friends. I took along Marcos little nieces and ???????????????????????????????nephew and spent a small fortune on brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Here is just some of what we bought today, which included Berry Patch Brownies, Fairy Bread Cupcakes (GF, SF), Pecan Slices, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. We managed to eat it all between 4 1/2 of us and now I am feeling a little sick, but it was so worth it.

Was their a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in your city? What did you eat?

I can’t believe how many people showed up this year. Last year their weren’t as many people, at least when I was there. We??????????????????????????????? had a wait in line for a while and tried to keep those sticky little fingers away from the sweets which we hadn’t purchased yet. While I was there I bought a couple of dry goods that I haven’t tried before. I got a few organic spices for 50 cents each, The VEGG, All Natural Custard Powder, Texas BBQ Primal Strips (meat free jerky) and more Nutritional Yeast (can never have enough). I can’t wait to try out The VEGG, as I have heard its very good. Also I am looking forward to using the Custard Powder to make one of the only desserts I ate as a kid, custard with fresh fruit. I’ve never liked jerky, but it was at the counter so I thought I would try it out.

This dish below is something I made a couple of nights ago. I have been staying at Marco’s house, to keep the dogs away from my house and spend time with the kids, which has been great, but I didn’t bring much supplies with me. This was something I came up with, after it got to dark and cold to walk to the local supermarket. The sauce I made was more like of a soup consistency, as the bar mix I used didn’t blend very well and I ended up just placing half the gnocchi into the sauce. Marco didn’t like it when he first saw it, but it grew on him. He said it tasted more like a Serbian dish that his mother use to make, which was probably why his parents and niece loved it. I would have liked to use vegan chicken stock, but without any the nutritional yeast gave the sauce nice flavor.

With the leftover Gnocchi, I frozen them on trays and then used them the next day in a spicy tomato sauce with spinach. Marco much preferred this as it he loves tomato sauces better. I liked both ways. I did also find that after the gnocchi had been frozen they were more firm and cooked much better.

Another Gnocchi dish I made a while ago is Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi, which was really delicious! The gnocchi from this batch was also really good, after it had been frozen and cooked. I hope to experiment with some more different recipes soon. I much prefer making my own gnocchi, as store bought have so many preservatives and ingredients that I really prefer not to eat.

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Gnocchi with Creamed Pea Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, soy free nut free)

Ingredients for Gnocchi:

6 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup unbleached plain flour, plus more for dusting (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

500g frozen peas

2 cups unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice, soy or almond if you can tolerate)

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

To make Gnocchi:

1. First boil potatoes in a large pot of water for 20 minutes or until they are soft enough to mash.

2. Strain potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Make sure their are no lumps Season with plenty of sea salt.

3. Add 1 cup of flour and work into a dough on a floury board. If its easier split dough into 2 or 4 batches. Add more flour if the dough is too soft.

4. Roll  dough into logs about 2cm-diameter and 30cm long. Cut dough into pieces with a lightly floured knife. Then form small balls and place on a tray with baking paper. Press a fork on the top of the balls so that they form an oval.

5. Bring a pot of  salted water to the boil, then cook gnocchi for 3 mins or until they are floating on the top of the water. Strain and add to the sauce.

*If you are not using straight away place in the freeze on trays until they harden, then place into airtight bags until ready to use.

*Makes 8 Serves

To make Sauce:

1. In a large pot heat olive oil, then add onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes or until onion has soften, but not browned.

2. Add frozen peas and saute until the peas have lightly cooked.

3. Add milk, then blend with a bar mix or processor. Leave it a little bit chunky or puree.

4. Add nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper  and bring to the boil. Then let it simmer for 5 to 10 mins.

5. Add cooked Gnocchi and serve.

*Sauce makes 6 serves with Gnocchi, or 8 if you want a bit thinner consistency.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetables

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! It doesn’t really feel like Easter for me. Without chocolate or gifts its just another weekend. We use to celebrate by having a picnic and gorging on chocolate, but this year everyone’s been busy. In a way I am happy I didn’t get any unwanted chocolate. No one ever buys me dairy free chocolate. I don’t know if I should just be grateful that people think to give me something or I should be annoyed that they know I can’t eat it and give it to me anyway. Marco usually eats any dairy gifts I get so he’s happy either way.

Since Marco has had a couple of days off with me, we finally watched the new documentary Hungry for Change (trailer). If you haven’t seen it, I really recommend trying to get a copy and taking the time to watch it. If you know me personally I would be happy to give you a copy. According to their Facebook page “HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.” If you need some guidance or a refresher to get you back in the right direction it is really motivational. I really needed a refresher to get back into a routine of increasing my fruit and leafy green vegetable intake and exercising more. Marco needed a reminder to stop eating so much sugar and consider eating more fruit and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????So after watching this doc, Marco and I decided we need to start juicing. I haven’t pulled out my juicer for over a year. I originally got it to make cocktails, when I use to love to drink, then I started using it to make juices to loose weight. Now I really want to juice so I can get more vegetables and fruit into my diet for overall wellness. It really doesn’t take long to do, so I am making a commitment to start juicing more. Its back on my counter top now, so no more excuses.

This morning I made a delicious juice for us, made of watermelon, apple, carrot, lime and ginger. It was so refreshing. Still it didn’t have a lot of vegetables, but I am going to work us up to it. I felt really great after and didn’t need my usually morning coffee. In fact I am trying to cut down on coffee, if not for the sake of my insides, but for the sake of my teeth. I noticed about a months back I didn’t have coffee for a few days and my teeth were looking so much whiter. So it was incentive to consider cutting back. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, only one flat white once day, but I shouldn’t be relying on that boost. I should be getting from enough sleep, more nutrients and not forgetting to take my pyroluria medication.

Although it was raining all day we still managed to get some exercise  We went to Forest Lake to walk around the lake. Even though it rained the whole time it was really worth getting out of the house. After that we were quite hungry, so I made this comfort dinner. Marco begged me not to add in the vegetables to the pumpkin ‘cheese’ sauce, since he loved it so much, but in the end he was happy he ate them together, rather than apart. This is a great dish to sneak in some vegetables for your kids or veggie hating partners. It is also low fat and gluten free. I also baked the seeds from the pumpkin for some extra Vitamin E. For more info on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds check out WHFoods.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetable (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g thinly sliced pumpkin (I use kent and butternut)

4 serves of gluten free macaroni or other short pasta

olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

1 tablespoon corn flour (or arrowoot flour)

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

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups baby spinach

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place slices of pumpkin in a tray and toss with olive oil. Cook pumpkin for 30 mins or until soft.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan on low heat. While it is melting combine the almond milk and corn flour and whisk. Then add the plant milk to the pan with the melted butter.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, tumeric and whisk until it thickens.

4. Add the nutitional yeast, salt and pepper and whisk.

5. Cook the macroni according to packet directions.

6. Add the roasted pumpkin to the cheese sauce. Use the whisk or potato masher to blend it through. Alternativly you could put it in the processor if you want the sauce to be smoother.???????????????????????????????

7. Heat another pan with olive oil, then saute the broccoli and frozen peas until tender.

8. Add the broccoli, peas and spinach to the cheese sauce. Heat through until the spinach has wilted.

9. Stir through the macaroni then serve.

*Serves 4

*I garnished mine with pumpkin seeds from the butternut & kent pumpkin. Just coat in canola/olive oil, salt & pepper and bake for 5 mins or until golden. Also makes a great snack.

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A little bit British

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies. I’ve never been a big pie eater, preferring to eat pasta then Aussie Beef Pies and Sausage Rolls. I have always equated meat pies to unhealthiness and thought it to be more like a tradey’s food. My mothers ex-husband was a tradey, so meat pies and ice coffees were a typical daily lunch from the snack truck. But since I have stopped eating meat I have been open to look at foods like this in a different light. So when I saw this product on sale at Coles, I thought I would give it a go.

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This is not a meat pie, but rather more like a vegan version of a mushroom & chicken pie. Mushroom & Chicken Pie is a British classic and is one of the most popular pies in Great Britain. It has pastry on the top and bottom, the top being puff pastry and the center holds the chicken and mushroom in a nice creamy sauce. They are commonly bought from fish and chip shops across the country. Pies-Box-Country-Mush

So after trying out Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies I think I would definitely purchase it again. I made this dinner for Marco, my mother and her partner Ted and they all really liked it the pie. They all said they liked the puff pasty top and the pie filling was nice and creamy and tasted just like it had meat in it. I thought it was good too. Only thing I can say was there wasn’t that much filling. The picture on the box and on the website makes it look really full, but it doesn’t all ooze out when you cut it. However, I think if it was really full it may have been too much and I would of felt too heavy after eating it. The pastry top was also really nice tasting and was not greasy at all. It was easy to make. The packet instructions said 20 mins  in the oven, but for my oven took about 25-30 mins. All in all it was a easy main to prepare and great for a lazy vegan dinner.

Before baking

Before baking

After baking

After baking

To get into the spirit of eating a British classic I thought I would prepare some sides to go with it. So I made Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic and Mushy Peas. For the roasted vegetables I didn’t add the lemon, thyme and garlic until 15 mins before they were ready. A lot of recipes suggest added fresh thyme when you first put in the potatoes, but I saw on a Jamie Oliver show recently, that he recommends not added them till towards the end, as the oven will burn them to a crisp. It turned out really well this way. The lemon flavor was also really nice and everyone said they preferred this flavor to my usually roasted vegetables. Below is the recipe.

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Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1kg chat potatoes

5 carrots

1 garlic clove

olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon

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Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cut the potatoes in halves, chop the carrots in chunks and place in a baking tray. Coat with olive oil, sea salt & pepper, and cook for 30 mins or until you can at least get a fork through the potatoes.DSC02609

3. In the mean time remove skin from garlic and juice the lemon.

4. After 30 mins add the garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Add more olive oil if the potatoes and carrots are too dry. Cook for a further 15 mins or until vegetables are slightly browned.

*Serves 4

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As for the Mushy Peas, I got the recipe from here. I really love this recipe. It was my first time making mushy peas and they just tasted so fragrant and delicious. Only thing I had to change was use shallots instead of eschalots, nutlex instead of butter and used vegan chicken stock. Only thing I would do differently next time is make more, because this portion size was not enough. It was so morish. It was also really easy and quick to make.DSC02612

Firstly I cooked diced shallots and garlic in nutlex for few minutes.

Then add the stock and brought it to a boil. After that I added the peas and cooked them until they were soft.

Once the peas were soft, I added the apple cider vinegar and mint leaves and cooked for 1 more DSC02614minute.

Lastly, used the bar mix to make the peas mushy and then it was ready to go.

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Another vegan product I just tried today is Macro Moroccan Pumpkin Dip (Free from Dairy). It is also gluten free and free from artifical colours, flavours or preservatives. The fact that their are no artifical preservatives is really great since most of the dips available have something in it to last longer. I do prefer to make my own hummus and other dips, but when you are in a hurry its always great to have good products like this on hand.

Today I made a snack pita with this dip. I just used half a pita bread and filled it with the pumpkin dip, cucumber, baby spinach and mint leaves and toasted in the sandwich press. It was a great healthy snack to have between lunch and dinner.

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Sizzling ‘Chicken’ with Kale, Peas and Noodles

Now I am back home I am back to cooking.  Don’t have much left in the fridge, but making use of the fresh kale and basil that I got from the farmers market at Murwillumbah yesterday  I wanted to make something different then my usually standard stir fry. I was looking through a Chinese cookbook and found Sizzling Beef dish. I used similar flavors for the sauce, but adapted the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have vegan mock chicken strips, like  Fry’s Chicken Style Stripes, then you can substitute with tofu or shiitake mushrooms.

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Sizzling ‘Chicken’ with Kale, Peas and Noodles (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup mock chicken strips

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar

1.5 tablespoon corn flour,

soba noodles or prefered other noodles

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small red chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

10 pieces tuscan kale, chopped

1/3 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce

Method:

1. Place mock chicken in a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and corn flour. Stir through so that the mock meat is all covered and let it marinate for a few minutes

2. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions then place to the side.

3. Heat sesame oil in the wok then add garlic, chilli and shallots. Cook for 2 mins.

4. Add the mock chicken and cook for few more minutes.

5. Add kale and peas, vegan oyster sauce and cook until peas are tender.

6. Add noodles and cook only till noodles are heated through and coated in the sauce. Take off heat and serve.

This makes two large serves. If making for four you can use the same amount of ingredients for marinating the mock meat, increase by a little bit or double it. It depends how strong you want the taste to be.

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For dinner I used the huge bunch of basil to make pesto. I make the same recipe that I did last time for the Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, but I used 1/4 pine nuts, 1/4 pecans, couple of pinch of cayenne and only pulsed the sun dried tomatoes through. I just served it with some hot fettuccine pasta. So simple and so delicious.

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Before I go a big thanks to Miss Marzipan who nominated me for the Blog of 2012 the Year Award. She nominated back in on 31 December last year and have been meaning to thank her since then. If you haven’t seen her blog she is a very creative girl, who lives in Sweden and blogs about her diy projects and her delicious recipes. I especially love her sweets recipes!

Thanks to her I have received my 6th star for the award! I promise I will reply to the other awards my blog has been nominated by fellow bloggers and share the love soon!

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

Penne Alfredo with mushrooms, peas, spinach

I have finally got over my fear of making my own nut cream. I know it’s easy, but I kept putting it off. I thought my hand-mixer wasn’t up to the job and I guess it probably isn’t if I intended to drink it. I have made my own cashew pesto and cashew cheese before, but with only 10mins of boiling the cashews, they were still quite chunky. This time I finally remembered to soak my cashews overnight, so I could make cashew cream. Ever since I saw Ellen and Portia’s chef making meatless “southern fried chick’n”, I have been eager to try it. Although I’m happy how it turned out, I think it’s still not as creamy as their looked.

Anyway it was pretty easy. Just a cup of cashews soaked in water for 8 hours, then blended with 1/2 cup of water. I didn’t add anything as I thought I would do this when I went to use it. It was still a little lumpy, but after I re-blended it today and added a bit more water it was much less dense.

I think using the cashew cream made was a lot closer to real cream. I’ve tried vegan cheese sauce, soy carnation and rice cream, but this was definitely the most thickest and creamiest of the lot. My boyfriend gave it the tick of approval, so I think it was a success. I served it with garlic french stick. I used my favorite vegan butter, Melrose Organic Omega Gold Spread. As far as I know its the healthiest dairy free butter we can get in Australia and it contains palm oil or hydrogenated fats. It probably taste the best as well. Another new discovery for me was Enoki mushrooms. I saw them on sale finally at the supermarket, so I thought we would try them. They are Japanese, but they are very versatile and can be added to any meal. They can be served raw or cooked.

Penne Alfredo with mushrooms, peas, spinach (gfo, sf)

Ingredients for Cream Sauce: 1 1/2 Cashew cream, 1/2 water, 1 tsp white miso paste, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp onion flakes, sea salt & cracked pepper

Cashew cream, mushrooms and garlic bread

Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 onion finely chopped, 3 tbsp olive oil, mushrooms sliced chunky strips (I used large 6 white mushrooms &  1 bunch enoki), 1 cup frozen peas, 2/3 cup baby spinach chopped, 1 tbsp basil, 1/2 cup almond milk, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, sea salt & cracked pepper to taste, penne or gf pasta.

Sauteing mushrooms

1. Boil water for pasta and cook according to pack instructions. Also boil small pot of water, to cook peas for 3 mins.

2. Heat large pan, add olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook for few minutes till the onion have browned. Then add the mushrooms and saute for 5mins. Then turn off the heat.

Heating sauce

3. Add to cashew cream (already prepared) water, miso paste, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt and pepper and then blend. Add more of any ingredient to adjust the taste.

4. Turn back on the heat to the pan and add the peas, cream sauce and baby spinach, basil, almond milk and nutritional yeast. Bring to the boil then put on a simmer. Add seasalt & pepper to taste.

5. Heat pasta through the sauce and then serve.