This recipe is as vegan as a cake can be that has honey in it. I don’t actually know any vegans who eat honey, but I’ve heard they exist. But don’t worry – honey could easily be swapped out in favour of agave nectar, or possibly even golden syrup, though I would be inclined to reduce the amount for that. There’s no dairy or egg to worry about, and in a pinch, you could probably just use sugar.
I must confess that this is not the recipe for the cake I currently have cooking in the oven. You see, I started making this based on a recipe from Less Meat, More Veg, but didn’t have enough bananas, so I replaced two bananas with 200g frozen raspberries, which I think will be lovely, but less unified in its flavour than the recipe below. The combination of coconut milk, sweet spices and banana makes me want to play with the Indian theme some more – not that I know anything about Indian cooking! Still, if I had mango puree or a really mild mango chutney I’d be tempted to swap out a banana for 100g of it, and if not, I’d be tempted to replace the chocolate with dried mango. Or pawpaw. Or maybe add some lime juice somewhere. Or go a bit Carribean with rum-soaked raisins, allspice, nutmeg and maybe a hint of chilli, just to be daring. Think of this, in fact, as a template for a lovely, nearly-vegan, banana bread with a tropical twist, and have a ball!
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3 overripe bananas (or 1 banana and 200g raspberries)
75g raw sugar
240g light coconut milk
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, pounded in a mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp ginger (freshly grated, or dried and powdered)
100g dark, dark chocolate, chopped
Posted in cakes, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged banana, cakes, cardamom, chocolate, coconut milk, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Still feeling too seedy to really be creative, so here’s a really short, easy recipe, inspired by The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. This recipe makes me feel a little sad, because right now is absolutely not the season for it – indeed, dinner tonight was semolina gratin with a wintry stew featuring mushrooms, cardoons, carrots, broccoli and cannelini beans, so heavily improvised that I haven’t the faintest clue what the recipe would be. But for you sun-drenched Northern Hemisphere types, here’s something lovely to have on good Italian bread while you are waiting for the weather to cool down enough for cooking to be tolerable. Or else, just make a dinner of bread, tomato salad, cannelini beans puréed with lemon and roasted garlic, some minted cucumbers or grilled eggplant or roasted capsicum, or cold chicken or whatever other nice, cool foods your fridge and pantry have to offer, and this lovely refreshing spread to just make your bread wonderful.
Jack Bishop says you should toast the bread to go with this, but I think if bread is good enough to be worth eating, it deserves to be eaten as it is – soft and fresh to go with the softness and freshness of the ricotta. And please – make sure it’s good bread, not that cotton wool stuff. Putting this spread on a white sandwich loaf insults both you and it – and you both deserve better.
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250g good ricotta – the best you can afford, so go to the deli counter or your Italian food shop, and do not even think about making this with something that comes in a tub. You’re looking for something solid, not runny – in a pinch, you can drain slightly watery ricotta through cheesecloth or paper towels for an hour or two, but it’s better to start with the good stuff.
1 small bunch of basil
1 small bunch of mint
1 loaf of good Italian bread – pasta dura is ideal for this. French bread will do in a pinch, but no cotton wool. I mean it!
Posted in egg-free, everyday cooking, gluten-free, low fructose, low glycemic index, nut-free, Recipes, sauces, toppings and frostings, side dishes, vegetarian
Tagged basil, egg-free, gluten-free, low fructose, low GI, mint, nut-free, ricotta, vegetarian
A few years ago, I decided that it was time to move beyond my six favourite vegetables, and accordingly, I arranged to have a box of fruit and vegetables delivered each week. The vegetables were whatever happened to be in season, and there were a lot of them – in fact, I quickly realised that the only way we could eat all these vegetables was by skipping the meat several times a week. Which, as it turned out, also made me feel healthier. Bonus!
Still, one can only eat so many vegetable risottos and tuna-pasta-bakes-without-the-tuna, and beyond that, my vegetarian repertoire was fairly scant. Also, I wasn’t really sure how one should balance a vegetarian meal to make it nutritious. So I began looking for vegetarian cookbook that would have the sort of food I like to eat in it, preferably one which would give me some ideas of how to plan a vegetarian menu. Ideally, a vegetarian menu that involved cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli, since by this time it was winter and my veggie box was turning into a brassicas box with depressing regularity.
This book hit the nail on the head – so much so that I think I cooked from it three or four nights a week for two months straight. (Then I remembered that I had several hundred other cookbooks that were languishing for attention, and calmed down a bit.) Part of me would still like to do a Julie/Julia with this cookbook, as there isn’t a single thing in there that I wouldn’t be willing to eat. (But then all my other cookbooks would get lonely…)
After you all egged me on to make rice pudding the other day, I found myself compelled to give it a try. The difficulty was, my evil, chocolate-loving side wanted to make a completely decadent rice pudding with chocolate and coconut milk and raspberries (why yes, I *am* fond of that particular flavour combination), but my Christopher Robin purist side was fairly sure that rice pudding is supposed to be fairly plain and full of plump raisins. And, while I demonstrate very little common-sense when it comes to culinary experimentation, it did seem to me that it might be a good idea to start with a traditional version when making a pudding that I’ve never cooked or even eaten before.
This recipe is taken from The Women’s Weekly’s Sweet Old-Fashioned Favourites cookbook, and modified quite a bit, because it sounded way too rich. The baked rhubarb is, I think, initially a Nigella thing, though I’m no longer following a recipe for it – rice pudding seemed to demand stewed fruit, and with the oven on already, I wanted something I could pop in to cook above the pudding and forget about.
And what was it like? To my surprise, it tasted absolutely and exactly the way my imagination had pictured it – hot, mushy, creamy, full of plumped-up raisins and sultanas, and a hint of spice, and with the rhubarb providing a sharp tartness that made the creaminess manageable. I don’t think I’d want it for dinner it every day – I’m just not that fond of rice – but for a hot, comforting, winter dessert when you aren’t feeling well and don’t want to spend more than five minutes in the kitchen, it would be hard to do better.
(Oh, and if you are wondering why I am going on and on about Christopher Robin etc, this is why)
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1/2 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
2 tbsp (40ml) raisins
2 tbsp sultanas
2 cups milk (I used a low-fat, but not a no-fat, milk)
1/2 cup water (you can use all milk, but this sounded really rich to me)
nutmeg, 1/2 a cinnamon stick
1 bunch rhubarb (approx. 700g)
175g vanilla sugar, or plain caster sugar
2 tbsp caster sugar (optional)
marmalade or orange jam, to serve
Posted in desserts, egg-free, everyday cooking, gluten-free, nut-free, Recipes, vegetarian
Tagged dairy-free, desserts, egg-free, gluten-free, milk, nut-free, raisins, recipes, rhubarb, rice, sultanas, vegan, vegetarian
The Christopher Robinish breakfast didn’t work, so it’s time to resort to my ultimate virus-fighting weapon: onion soup. What what could be stronger, heartier, or more pungent? No virus would dare colonise a body with this many allicins in it, or at least, that’s my theory. Plus, hot liquids are fabulous for soothing a sore throat.
I’ve based this soup on a beef stock, but you can also use the vegetable stock from my Three Roasted Vegetable Soups post – but add a few dried mushrooms, or a spoonful or two of porcini powder if you have it; you want your stock to have a good, strong, ‘brown’ flavour.
Best of all, you can make this soup in steps, with long rests in between, during which you can stagger back to bed: first the stock, which needs to simmer for an hour, and is even better if it simmers for two; then the sliced onions, which need to cook, slowly for another hour or so without much attention from you; then the combination of both, which simmers on the stove until you are ready to eat. That virus won’t even want to enter the *house
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For the stock
1kg beef bones, with some meat on them
1 onion, peeled and cut in quarters
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 celery sticks, with their leaves, chopped into large chunks
4 cloves garlic
a few black peppercorns
a teaspoon or two of dried rosemary
salt, to taste
porcini mushroom powder, if you have it, or throw in a few dried mushrooms
125ml white wine
For the soup
75g brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 kg of onions, approximately – use a mix of red, white and yellow, and maybe some shallots if you can find them
6 cloves garlic
salt, pepper and porcini powder (optional, but yummy) to taste
Posted in dairy-free, egg-free, everyday cooking, gluten-free, low glycemic index, nut-free, Recipes, soups, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, low GI, nut-free, onion, recipes, soups, vegan, vegetarian
Who came up with that expression, anyway? Whoever they were must have been talking about hard-boiled eggs, which I agree are pretty straightforward. Well, relatively straightforward – hardboiling them is not too tricky, provided you don’t crack the shell by putting a fridge-cold egg into boiling water, and provided you know the mystical incantations that prevent it from cracking anyway. (Everyone, knows the mystical incantations, right? I don’t need to repeat them here?)
I gave up and added pectin, because I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, and I didn’t trust it not to spontaneously become toffee instead of jam.
And then I had to strain my syrup through a sieve, because it was indeed lumpy (fortunately, I retained enough sense of self-preservation to add the pectin to just a small portion of the syrup, otherwise I really would have been in a jam) (sorry).
But! It set!
Of course, after all that, it tastes exactly like marmalade. This is extremely annoying, because I already know how to make marmalade, and it is much less labour-intensive. Also, I don’t really like marmalade.
You win some, you lose some…
(Of course, now I want to make croissants, because they are one of the few things that really do go well with marmalade, but I am *not* embarking on another 48-hour cooking project when I have to make 100 cupcakes for a party this weekend. I may be crazy when it comes to cooking, but I’m not quite that crazy.)
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Today is the shortest day of the year here in Melbourne – a mere 9 hours and 32 minutes from sunrise to sunset. Tomorrow, the sun will set just one minute later, and in a month or so, perhaps it … Continue reading
When I saw those glorious mushrooms at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday, I knew exactly what I’d be having for dinner sometime this week. This is basically a particularly glorious toasted sandwich, but I tend to think of it as a vegetarian hamburger, which means I get to serve it with salt and vinegar chips (any excuse is a good excuse for chips). The cheese, while luscious, can easily be omitted if you are avoiding dairy – believe me, there’s plenty of flavour left, though I’d probably consider adding some caramelised onions or some grilled eggplant or both. Then again, I considered adding both those things today, too, but sanity (and the realisation that we would never be able to fit the sandwiches into our mouths) prevailed. I suspect this would be nice as an untoasted sandwich, but it’s so, so, good just as it is!
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Two red capsicums – try to get ones with fairly flat sides, it will make your life easier. This will give you leftovers, but you can always find a use for roasted capsicums.
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of greens – I used chinese broccoli, but spinach or kale would both be wonderful
2 enormous, gorgeous mushrooms
1 sprig of rosemary
4 thick slices of mozzarella – Gruyere or Jarlsberg would be phenomenal here. About 150g – you’re eating lots of healthy vegetables, you can afford to be indulgent!
Four large slices of pasta dura or sourdough bread, or two good bread rolls
Posted in cooking with vegetables, egg-free, everyday cooking, main courses, nut-free, Recipes, vegetarian
Tagged bread, capsicums, chinese broccoli, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, low GI, main courses, mozzarella, mushrooms, nut-free, recipes, spinach, tomatoes, vegan, vegetarian
I made this recipe up because the recipe I had for five-spice ginger biscuits required overnight standing and I wanted biscuits *now*. So I got a gingernut recipe from the Women’s Weekly and played havoc with it, and the results are rather good. Nice and spicy, and just with that hint of weird that you get from biting into a gingernut and getting five-spice flavour too.
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75g brown sugar
60g golden syrup (not corn syrup. I don’t know what it is called in the US, but it is quite a different colour and tastes very different. More brown sugarish)
60g treacle (molasses would be nice too)
200g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice mix (this is a mix of ground fennel, aniseed, ginger, licorice, cinnamon and cloves)
1 1/2 tbsp ginger – or 2 tbsp, if you are feeling daring!
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Posted in biscuits, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged biscuits, dairy-free, egg-free, five spice, ginger, gluten-free, low fructose, nut-free, recipes, treacle, vegan, vegetarian