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

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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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Zucchini, Onion & Parsley Eggless Fritata and Spelt Pomogranate & Almond Biscotti

These two dishes were last nights dinner and dessert. My frittata didn’t set right,  because I used too much tofu. I had a block of 500g, so I made two with an extra 50g of tofu in each. So for the instructions below I gave my original measurements to make one. You will be able to slide it more easier in a baking tray, which is what I struggled with. Nevertheless it was still creamy and delicious.

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Zucchini, Onion and Parsley Eggless Fritata (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

200g soft silken tofu

2 tablespoons vegan butter

3 tablespoons cornflour (or arrowroot flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon onion flakes (or onion powder)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 zucchini, grated

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 bunch italian parsley, roughly chopped

Method:

1. In the processor blend the silken tofu, vegan butter, cornstarch, baking powder, sea salt, black pepper, turmeric, onion ???????????????????????????????flakes and garlic powder.

2. Heat pan with olive oil, then add the red onion and cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Take off the heat then add the zucchini and italian parsley and stir though.

4. Add the tofu batter to the pan, coat the vegetables, then level the batter and let it cook for 15 mins on medium heat.???????????????????????????????

5. Preheat grill in the oven.

6. Slide the frittata onto a circular baking tray with baking paper and place into the oven (grill). If you have the right pan you can put the entire pan into the oven. Grill for 3 mins or until slightly golden brown on top.

*Serves 2

Since I still had half a pomogranate worth of seeds left from the salad I made for Sally’s 60th, I decided to try and use it to make Italian Biscotti. I have never made it before, although I have eaten my fair share of it. I adapted the recipe  Vegan Almond Biscotti, from Food.com. I used spelt flour, so I needed more apple sauce to make a moist batter. I also tweaked some of the other ingredients. They came out really well. Mine are a tad softer, as I only baked them once after slicing them and I used more oil. For a more drier biscotti, use less oil and bake slices on both sides.

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Spelt Pomogranate & Almond Biscotti (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 cups wholewheat spelt flour

1 cups unbleached plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1.5 cups raw sugar

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup pomogranate seeds

3/4 cup almonds, dry toasted and roughly chopped???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat oven the 180 degrees. Take two nonstick cookie trays or grease two normal cookie trays.???????????????????????????????

2. Take a large mixing bowl and combine spelt flour, white flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.???????????????????????????????

3. In another mixing bowl add raw sugar, apple sauce, olive oil and vanilla extract. Whisk together.???????????????????????????????

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir well, then add pomogranate seeds and toasted almonds.

5. Place 1/2 of the batter on one of the cookie trays and shape into a 3 inch wide log. Square off the ends. Do the same with the rest of the batter on the other tray.

6. Bake for 25 mins in the oven. Then remove from oven and turn oven down to 160 degrees. Place both logs on cooling trays for 15 mins.

7. Now that the logs have cooled down, use a shape knife to cut the logs into 1/2-1 inch wide slices.???????????????????????????????

8. Place slices back onto the cookie trays and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until it is golden on the bottom side.

9. Then turn the slices oven and cook for a further 5-10 mins. (I skipped this step because I forgot).

10. Place on cooling racks before serving.

*Serves 30-40 depending on how thick you cut them.

*keep in airtight container for two weeks

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Spelt and Amaranth Wraps

Hi guys, I didn’t say anything yet till I found out for sure, but I finally have a paying job! I have been putting my resume out all these holidays and haven’t got any calls. Then I got an email about working at my university as a mentor. I have done similar work before at uni, but it was unpaid voluntary work. This new job however is paid. I did a whole day yesterday, but still have training to do. It will only be a causal job but its better then nothing and I’ll be there anyway for one more semester.

???????????????????????????????After working yesterday I didn’t  feeling like eating or cooking last night. I had left some chickpeas that I had soak from the morning, so I cooked them up. I decided to make a huge batch of hummus. I made about 4 cups and put it in airtight jars. So I had hummus for breakfast on gluten free bread and then hummus again for lunch with wraps, cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery. I can’t get enough of it!

These wraps I made to go with the hummus are an adaption from the gluten free Amaranth Wraps from Multi-Allergy Cookbook, by Lola Workman. I swapped the gluten free flour for wholemeal spelt flour, used regular baking powder, less salt and added fresh parsley. I made the original recipe a few years ago, when I was off gluten because of my intolerances from leaky gut. As I have said before I have only been eating gluten since I went to Italy last year and I haven’t had any side effects, so I try to stick to whole meal  flours, whole grain products and I try to have variety of grains, rather then the same ones. These are really easy and quick to make and you can make them gluten free if you prefer. They are really soft and delicate, so be careful when you flip them!

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Spelt & Amaranth Wraps (vegan, gluten free option, nut free soy free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons egg replacer

1 cup warm water (plus extra)

150g wholemeal spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons amaranth cereal

2 tablespoons minced parsley

olive oil spray

Method:

1. Place the egg replacer and warm water in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer, till frothy.???????????????????????????????

2. Add spelt flour, baking powder, sea salt and olive oil. Whisk it well until smooth.???????????????????????????????

3. Add amaranth cereal and whisk through. Add another 1/4 cup of warm water if the batter is too thick.

4. Heat a pan and add olive oil spray. Use a soul ladle to spoon the mixture into the hot pan, let it spread so it covers the pan. Cook for 2-3 mins on both sides, being careful when flipping, as the wraps are very delicate. Continue till all the mixture is used.???????????????????????????????

*Makes about 6 wraps

*Serve as a bread or a wrap with hummus, salad, soup or a stew.

*Store in the fridge in an airtight container or in aluminum foil.

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Weekend of International cuisines: Part 2

So for tonight dinner I wanted to try out something I haven’t made before. I decided to make some Indian inspired dishes. These included Pumpkin and Lentil Coconut Curry, Yellow Split Pea  and Brown Rice, Coriander Mixed Mushrooms and  Savory Pineapple Spelt Muffins. It all turned out well, but for me it didn’t taste like the food from my local Indian.  Most importantly though my family loved it  and all had seconds. I have never cooked with fresh curry leaves before. The aroma was so delicious. It did give a more authentic fresh taste as well.

For the main dish, the Pumpkin and Lentil Coconut Curry, this was adapted from Jamie Oliver: Pumpkin, chickpea and coconut curry MFM recipe. I didn’t change that much, I just improvised for the ingredients I didn’t have and made a bigger portion. For the Yellow Split Pea and Brown Rice I used similar spices to the curry and seasoned it with lemon. The Coriander Mixed Mushrooms was a spare of the moment dish of ingredients that needed to be used. The Savory Pineapple Spelt Muffins were adapted from Savoury Chutney Muffins from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. I tried to make my own chutney and altered a couple of the ingredients.

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Pumpkin and Lentil Coconut Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

5 cups kent pumpkin (cut into cubs)

1 teaspoon minced ginger

60g frozen minced coriander leaves

sunflower oil

4 garlic cloves, diced

2 small fresh red chilies, diced

4 shallots, diced

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

20 fresh curry leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tin diced tomatoes

400ml  coconut cream

1/2 cup water

1 tin brown lentils (400g)

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium  heat. Then add ginger, garlic, red chili and shallots. Saute for 3 mins or until slightly browned.???????????????????????????????

2. Then add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and coriander. Cook until curry leaves go a bit crispy.

3. Then add turmeric, canned tomatoes, coconut cream and water. Bring to the boil.

4. Then add pumpkin and place on a simmer. Cook for 30 mins or until the pumpkin is soft enough to put a fork through. Add more water if dries out.

5. Add the lentils and cook for a further 10- 15 min, then serve.

*Serves 6

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Yellow Split Pea  and Brown Rice (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes

12 whole curry leaves

4 whole dried red chilies

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cups yellow split peas

4 cups filtered water

2 cups cooked brown rice

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Take large pot and heat oil on medium heat. Then add mustard seeds, cumin, garlic powder, onion flakes. Cook for 3 mins or until fragrant.

2. Add curry leaves, red chili, turmeric and yellow split peas. Coat split peas in spices and cook for  2 mins. ???????????????????????????????

3. Add water, bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cook for 20 mins or until split peas are cooked.

4. Add cooked brown rice, juice of 1 lemon and sea salt, then serve.

* Serves 8

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Coriander Mixed Mushrooms (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoons onion flakes

1 teaspoons garlic powder

1-2 cups mixed mushrooms sliced  (I used white & oyster mushrooms)

2 tablespoons frozen minced coriander leaves

Method:

1. Take a pan and heat oil on medium heat. Then add cumin, onion flakes and garlic powder. Cook for 2 mins or until fragrant.

2. Add mushrooms and coriander and saute for 5 mins or until cooked.

* Serves 4

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Savory Pineapple Spelt Muffins (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pineapple salsa

1/4 cup tahini

1 tabelespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 cup spelt flour

3/4 cup plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ingredients for 1 cup pineapple salsa:

400g pineapple (fresh or can)

10 sun dried tomates

2 garlic cloves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease trays for 12 muffins

2. Take a mixing bowl and add pineapple salsa, tahini, sesame oil, coriander, cayenne and cumin. Stir all wet ingredients together.

3. Then sift spelt flour, plain flour and baking powder onto the wet ingredient, then add salt. Stir dry ingredients through wet ingredients. Add more soy milk if too dry.

4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray and bake for 20 mins.

* Makes 12 muffins.

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Finally hit 100th post

Hi all, it’s been a rainy, windy couple of days in Brisbane. Everyone’s on alert for flooding and cyclones. Everything should be fine for us for flooding, but it’s a bit scary knowing that the rain isn’t going to stop for another couple of days. Our house has a couple of leaks from some screw ups from tradies that were working on our roof recently. We also have few little waterfalls flooding into our property from our neighbors. At least the dogs got a shower and a blow dry so they could join us inside. They are very happy chappy.

On the brighter side this is my 100th post. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far already. A big thanks to all the people who follow, comment and visit on my blog. You have no idea how much of a difference it has made to my life. Although I have had some slips this is the longest I have stuck to any kind of lifestyle change, so I am really proud to share it with you guys. You visits, likes and comments really help to keep me going on my transition, even though I often feeling like giving up.

Since I started this blog back at the end of September I have received a lot of positive feedback from many people. I have received a lot of great advice and praise from many regulars bloggers, many of which have given me awards for my efforts. I’ve also had views from from 77 countries to date. I can’t believe people from all over the world have found my blog and taken the time to check out out. So thanks again for all your support!

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Tonight I cooked an African Stew. The recipe is adapted from Spicy Peanut Soup with Chicken from Bon appétit website. I adapted it to be vegan and gluten free. It was really nice comfort food for a cool, windy night and everyone loved it. I haven’t used peanut butter in a stew before, but it tasted really good. To go with it I made Spelt Buttery Biscuits. Marco, mum and Ted haven’t had these before. Last time I made them it was for the Marco’s niece and nephew, who also loved them. They all really like the buttery biscuits and they went really well with the warm stew.

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Spicy Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Eggplant (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

450 g sweet potato, cut into cubes

1 tablespoon hot sauce

sea salt & pepper to taste

4 cups vegan chicken/vegetable broth

1/3 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5 tablespoons vegan butter

1.5 cups chopped onion

1 cup carrot, grated or diced

1 medium eggplant, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (tapioca)

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

Method:

1. Place the sweet potato in a large bowl and coat in the hot sauce, salt and pepper.P1000577

2. Take another large bowl or jug (big enough to hold 4 cups) and combine the stock, peanut butter, and tomato paste. Whisk it till it is all combined.

3. Take a large pot and melt the vegan butter on medium-high heat.P1000578

4. Then add the onions, carrot and eggplant.  Saute for about 8 min. Then add the sweet potato and saute for a further 3 min.

5. Add the stock, tomatoes and flour to the pot and stir it through.  Cook for 30 mins, or until the sweet potatoes are soft enough to put a fork through.

* Serves 8

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Yesterday I had another try at the Eggless Fritata. Last time I made it I used firm tofu instead of silken tofu. I also didn’t have a nonstick pan. So it didn’t turn out as smooth as I would of liked. Since then I tried to make it again, but unfortunately I dropped it when I flipped it. This time was a success! I had silken tofu and my new neoflam pan I got for Christmas. I found the silken tofu made the batter a lot smoother and cooked more like an fritata, instead of a scramble. The pan also kept it together and didn’t let it stick, so that I could easily slide it into a baking tray to grill before serving.

I adapted the recipe this time and used sweet potato, red onion and carrot. It was incredibly fluffy and according to both me and Marco (the egg lover) this tasted much better then an egg fritata. The potato really makes it creamy and less plasticy then egg. Although this breakfast took me a lot longer to prepare it was definitely worth the wait. It is also great to pack for morning teas or lunches, which is what I will be doing for Marco for work next time.

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Sweet potato & Carrot Eggless Fritata (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

200g soft silken tofu

2 tablespoons vegan butter

3 tablespoons cornstarch/arrowroot

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon onion flakes (or onion powder)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion diced

3 tablespoons grated carrot

Method:

1. Peel and cut the sweet potato in thin slices, then put it a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Then strain and leave cool. DSC02685

2. In the processor blend the silken tofu, vegan butter, cornstarch, baking powder, sea salt, black pepper, turmeric, onion flakes and garlic powder.DSC02686

3. Heat pan with olive oil, then add the red onion and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Then add sweet potato and grated carrot and cook for another couple of minutes.

5. Add the tofu batter to the pan, coat the vegetables, then level the batter and let it cook for 15 mins on medium heat.DSC02687

6. Preheat grill in the oven.

7. Slide the frittata onto a circular baking tray with baking paper and place into the oven (grill). If you have the right pan you can put the entire pan into the oven. Grill for 3 mins or until slightly golden brown on top.

*Serves 2

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Last night we had Marco’s niece and nephew stay over, so I made them Black Bean Brownies. I got the recipe from Happy Herbivore, you can find it here. I used 1/4 cup of oats more then recipe said as the batter a bit too thin and added vegan chocolate chips. I also cooked for about 10 mins more and then had to let it set in the fridge, so that I could slice it. It was nice, but the texture of the black beans was a bit strange for me. Luckily the kids loved it. They had two slices and even took the rest home, so it was a success after all. This recipe is gluten free, so if you don’t mind beans in your brownie, this is a nice recipe.

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The only other exciting thing I have had to eat this week was on thursday night. Marco and I meet some friends at our favorite Indian Restaurant, A Night in India. I  have been visiting the Toowong location for ten years. Seems like just yesterday I was there with my newly legalized girlfriends, eating Indian and drinking wine, before hitting the clubs. I’ve change a lot since then, but the food hasn’t. It is still fantastic and fresh. Since then I have also discovered the Carindale location, which is owned by the other brother. Depending what side of town we are on, we visit both regularly. They both have many vegan, dairy free and gluten free options. So after I was forced to give up dairy and gluten a few years back and now eating vegan, this place was a god send to me. I don’t have to order the one boring vegan dish on the menu, because there are many exciting, delicious dishes to try, which are ‘Vanessa friendly’.

When we arrived the other night, our friends were running late and we were really hungry. So we ordered Vegetable Samosa. I asked if they were vegan and yes they are. The mint yogurt sauce that it came with was not, but I still ordered it for Marco. They were probably the best samosa I have every had. They weren’t greasy at all. We usually order Pakoras for entree, but I am happy I took a chance ordering this. For main I usually order the Vegetable Madras, as it is a creamy, dairy free dish, that has coconut milk. Tonight I decided to be different and order the Mushroom Sabji. It is a creamy curry with mushrooms, potato and peas. Although it isn’t vegan I asked the waiter if I could have it dairy free and the chef agreed to make it for me. On the side I ordered my usually Roti made of wholemeal flour and is dairy free. As much as I miss naan, when I eat the roti I forget about naan.

Vegetable Samosa

Vegetable Samosa

Mushroom Sabji

Mushroom Sabji

Roti

Roti

Roasted Cherry Tomato, Spinach, Lentil & Buckwheat Stew and Pumpkin Spelt Loaf

For this stew and the Roasted Cherry tomato Sauce I used Sweet Solanato Cherry Tomatoes. They are probably the best cherry tomatoes I have tasted in Australia and are exclusive to Woolworths at the moment. They just became available, so I picked up heaps of these 200 g punnets for only $0.48 each. They are really, really sweet and are addictive to eat fresh. They are a new variety, bred in the Netherlands and are grown hydroponically in Bundaberg, Queensland and Gosford, New South Wales. If you are in Australia and want to find out more about them I have included a nice clip below.

This is a really easy stew to make and full of flavor. I think roasted the tomatoes first really makes the different in the taste. I tried to make use the white parts of the spinach. Initially I sauted them with the onions, carrots and chili, and then pureed them with the tomatoes, so that they wouldn’t be crunch in the stew. I wanted to leave the leaves whole so I added them at the end, but if you have picky eaters you can puree them as well and they will be none the wiser. The red lentils and buckwheat went really well as they are both soft, quick cooking ingredients that are really healthy and have a mild taste.

For the Pumpkin Spelt Loaf I took some inspiration from this Taste recipe, but I changed it a lot so I could utilize my spelt flour. I added the dry ingredients to the pumpkin, rather then the other way around, which made it a lot less bread like, but I got rave reviews at home. So maybe it was a good mistake. It was even better the next day once it had set more in the fridge and we toasted in the sandwich press and served it with butter.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato, Red Lentil & Buckwheat Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

600g cherry tomatoes

8 garlic cloves

sea salt

1 onion

2 carrots

2 small red chili

4 leaves of silverbeet (3 stems chopped and 4 of just green leaves)

½ cup red lentils

½ cup buckwheat

3 cups of vegan chicken liquid stock

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. DSC01119

2. Wash and cut in half all the cherry tomatoes.DSC01121

3. Take a baking tray and add cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook for 15-20 mins, so that garlic is soft.

4. In the meantime, dice the onion, carrots, red chili. Separate the white stems and spines of the spinach from the green leaves. Then dice white stems (from 3 of whole leaves, discard one).

5. Take a pot and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Then saute the onion, carrots, red chili for 3 mins. Then add the spinach stems and saute for a further 3 mins. DSC01122

6. Once tomatoes & garlic are ready, peel the garlic and place both in to the pot. Then use a bar mix to blend all the vegetables together with the tomatoes to form a sauce (can also be done in a processor.

7. Put the buckwheat to cook in another pot. This should take 20-30 mins according to packet instructions.

8. While the buckwheat is cooking, add the red lentils and liquid stock to the pot with the pureed sauce. Bring to the boil, then place on simmer for 20-30 mins or until lentils are cooked.DSC01128

9. Lastly, cut the green spinach leaves (from 4 whole spinach leaves) into ribbons. You can do this by scrunch them up and in a cigar shape, then cutting them thinly.

10. Before serving add the spinach leaves and buckwheat and heat through, so the spinach goes limp.

*Serves 5

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Pumpkin Spelt Loaf (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

500-600 g butternut pumpkin

1.5 cup wholemeal spelt

½ cup white unbleached flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 eggs worth of egg replacer

5 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup soy milk

1 big sprig of rosemary

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

1. Wash and cut pumpkin into small pieces, remembering to remove the seeds and skin.

2. Place pumpkin in a steamer and cook for 20 mins or until soft.

3. Mash the pumpkin with a fork.

4. Take a large bowl and mix the spelt, white flour, sea salt, baking powder, fennel seeds and 2/3 of the rosemary leaves.

5. Then add egg replacer, melted butter and soy milk. DSC01115

6. Lastly add the pumpkin and mix through.

7. Place the mixture in a loaf tin and top with the remaining rosemary leaves.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 60 mins.

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Fresh Food Update – Sweet Solanato, http://cooking-recipes4u.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/fresh-food-update-sweet-solanato.html

AU: Spring into Sweet Solanato tomatoes, www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=102489

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup and Spinach & Mushroom Galette

Last nights dinner was inspired by what was left in the fridge. I had vegetable stock, coconut ceam,  cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and heaps of kiwi fruit. I went a bit over board with dinner, but now I can relax for a couple of days.

Since I had time, I  decided to roast the cauliflower and garlic before making the soup. It payed off, as the soup had the flavors from the roasting. Marco wasn’t a big fan of the soup last night, as he doesn’t like cauliflower. But today he said it tasted better. I think he just needed to get use to the taste of cauliflower. I have heard you need to try something at least 10 times till you develop a taste for it. After forcing mushrooms, spinach and avocado on him for last 5 years he has finally came around. I really like the soup. I don’t usually like cauliflower at all. My mum use to only make it steamed with a bechemel and cheese, which I hated. But lately I have been exploring more ways to cook it and have found that it is quite a tasty vegetable. It is also extremely healthy. It is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and is high in fiber.  It also has a broad spectrum of antioxidant, which ‘helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells’. It is a cruciferous vegetable from the same family as broccoli  kale and cabbage. It originates from the Asia Minor as a wild cabbage and later evolved and became a important vegetable in both Turkey and Italy in ancient times [1].

The garlic tasted really, really good roasted  I often dice it and add to roasted vegetables, but I don’t often roast it on its own. I bought heaps of Spanish garlic from Aldi the other day. I prefer it over Chinese garlic. China exports about 75 % of the world’s supply of garlic and accounts for about 90% of garlic in Australia. Chinese garlic is very white and and very cheap. The problem with this garlic is that it doesn’t meet the food safety protocols in Australia. According to Henry Bell (Australian Garlic Industry Association), Chinese garlic  is drenched in chemicals in order to stop sprouting, to whiten it, and to kill insects and plant matter. He even states that it is often grown in untreated sewage [2]. If you can find local garlic that is probably the best option. I also prefer garlic that have a purple color, as they have a strong flavor the the whiter ones.

I recently bought wholemeal spelt flour, as I have been eating too many things made of regular flour and I needed more variety in my diet. Spelt is an ancient grain that was used Europe and the Middle East and is still used today. It is very special, because ” unlike wheat, where vital nutritional nutritional bran and germ are usually removed during milling, the vital substances of spelt are found in the inner kernel of the grain”. “Spelt also has high water solubility, the grain’s vital substances can be absorbed quickly into the body. The nutrients are made available to the entire organism with a minimum of digestive work. The body cells are then nourished, strengthened, and prepared for their optimal performance while the body is flooded with vitamins and other nutritional substances. Spelt contains more protein, fats and crude fiber than wheat and also has large amounts of Vitamin B17 (anti-carcinoma). It also contains special carbohydrates which play a decisive role in blood clotting and stimulate the body’s immune system so as to increase its resistance to infection.”

Another great reason for you to eat spelt is, if like me, you have had or have a gluten intolerance you should be able to tolerated spelt. This is due to the “larger quantities of available protein found in spelt are soluble and, therefore, can be easily assimilated by the body with the minimum of digestive work” and therefore can be tolerated by people with gluten intolerance [3]. In many cases you can use it to substitute wholemeal flour, but I always like to check online before substituting for everything. When making pizza dough with the spelt it stuck to my tray. So sometimes its better to mix it with other flours.

Anyway, when I was looking online for some ideas to use my wholemeal spelt flour, I came across this recipe, Spinach Galette with Wild Mushrooms, on Yummy Supper. So I adapted it with the ingredients I had on hand. I used spelt flour instead of plain flour for the crust. Since I couldn’t use Parmesan in the crust,  I made a paste with water and nutritional yeast. Also to make the filling more creamy and cheesing I used Tofutti cream cheese, mixed with nutritional yeast and soy milk. It turned out really well. It was also good cold today. This is definitely something I want to recreate with some different ingredients.

As for all the kiwi fruit, you can see my dessert on the next post.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup (vegan, gluten fre, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1 head of spanish garlic, unpeeled (about 18 cloves)

rosemary leaves from 5 sprigs of rosemary, minced

1 yellow or white onion, diced

4 small potatoes. peeled & diced

3.5 cups vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3/4 cup coconut cream (about 1/2 can)

Method:

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1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Take a baking tray and add cauliflower, garlic and 2 tbsp of oil. Cook for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower is tender. Once cooked peel the garlic cloves.

DSC010262. Take a large pot and add 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and rosemary and cook for 3mins or until garlic is browned.

3. Add potato and cook for another 3 mins. (add a little bit of  water if it begins to stick.

4. Add cauliflower, garlic and vegetable stock, salt & pepper.  Cover and bring to the boil, then let it simmer for 30 mins or until vegetables are soft.

5. Blend the soup so that it is smooth and silky.

6. Add coconut cream to the soup and heat through, then serve.

*Serves 5

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Spinach & Mushroom Galette (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Crust:

1.5 cup wholemeal spelt  flour

pinch of sea salt

5 tablespoons cold nutlex (vegan butter)

6 tablespoons ice water

Ingredients for Filling:

olive oil

1 medium red onion

160 g baby spinach

100g sliced mushroom

3 tablespoons nutrtional yeast

1 tablespoon water

5 tablespoons toffutti cream cheese

2 tablespoons soy milk, sea salt to taste

Method:

1. First you need to make the crust. Take a large mixing bowl and add flour and salt. Stir through. DSC01028

2. Then add vegan butter and use your hands to mix it all through.DSC01038

3. Add water and make it into a dough. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven 180 degrees.

3. Take a pan and heat 1 tbsp oil, then add onion. Cook for 3 mins, then add baby spinach. Cook for 1-2 mins (till soft) Place in a strainer, to strain out the water.

DSC010404. In same pan heat 1 tbsp oil, then add mushrooms. Cook for 3 mins then add to strainer.

DSC010415. Take large chopping board and place parchment paper with sprinkle of flour and roll out dough on top. Roll into a large circle. Trim edges and add to the centre and roll into dough.

6. Take two small bowls. In one bowl place 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of water and make into a paste. In the other bowl add 5 tbsp tofutti cream cheese, 2 tbsp soy milk and 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and stir with a fork.

7. Place the paste around the outside of the dough, leaving a little bit of room around the edges. This will be in the crust of the galette.

DSC010438. Take the pan and add the vegetables and cream cheese. Stir through and adjust seasoning.

9. Place the mixture in the centre of the dough and then fold the edges up to form a crust.

10. Cook in the oven for 35-40mins. Serve warm or cold.

*Serves 4-8, depending on the serving size.

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[1] WHFoods, Cauliflower,  <www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13>

[2] The Age, Fresher and smellier, <http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/fresher-and-smellier/2005/07/18/1121538895265.html>

[3] Bio-Distributors, Spelt grain, <http://www.biodistributors.com.au/ProdInfFiles/spelt.php>