For some strange reason, nobody ever gives me hampers. Possibly, they have some idea that my house is full of food already and a hamper is the last thing I need. I can’t imagine where they would get such a notion. Fortunately, I have aunts who are, if anything, even more determined to feed everyone than I am, so this Christmas they both gave me hampers! I haven’t actually seen hamper #2 yet, but that’s just fine, because I have by no means exhausted the charms of hamper #1.
And hampers are endlessly exciting – I tend to spend a lot of December eyeing them off in shops. There’s something utterly and compellingly desirable about a big basket of enticingly arranged and interesting foodstuffs that you haven’t chosen yourself. Often, there are things you would not normally eat in there, but you know, if they are in a hamper you have to try them, and you never know – they might turn out to be excellent!
Anyway, this hamper is especially good because it contains Panettone (the Italian New Year’s Eve food of my youth), and a fascinating Sri Lankan lentil curry mix (just lentils and spices and you add water and coconut milk), and a chocolate and aniseed vincotto (which I mistook for something you drink when you get home from the funeral and Really Need A Drink, but turns out to be something you then ladle out of your wine glass and pour over icecream, where it is equally efficacious), and then there is my all-time favourite brand of herbed salt (how did she know?), and jam, and good olive oil, and all sorts of other stuff, but also a bottle of really nice passata and a couple of packets of good pasta. Which, when it comes down to it, is just what you need when you are just exhausted after a very long month and don’t really feel like making an effort for dinner.
The following recipe is just tonight’s version of an endlessly varied pasta meal that I make with passata and whatever vegetables I have to hand. Sometimes, I toss it through pasta, sprinkle it with cheese and bake it. Sometimes, I stir chunks of feta cheese through it. Or bocconcini. Or, if I’m feeling particularly well-behaved, chickpeas. But this is the straightforward version. You should try it.
Your Shopping List (or garden list, ideally – this recipe works best if you start by wandering around the garden, seeing what happens to be ripe)
4-6 cloves of garlic
1-2 smallish zucchinis, any colour, and hail damage is fine
1-2 capsicums, ditto
oregano, chilli, salt and pepper, or Italian herbed salt
1 1/2 cups passata (this is an Italian tomato sauce, which is basically just tomatoes cooked down and pureed into a thick sauce which isn’t quite a paste)
a handful each of basil and parsely leaves, chopped
200-300 g good pasta
grated parmesan or feta to serve, optional
(this amount serves 2-3 people, I should think)
Posted in cooking with vegetables, dairy-free, egg-free, everyday cooking, gluten-free, Italian, low glycemic index, main courses, nut-free, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged basil, capsicum, dairy-free, egg-free, garlic, gluten-free, low GI, main courses, nut-free, passata, pasta, recipes, vegan, vegetarian, zucchini
I can see you all looking at me rather oddly at this point, but zucchini cake is actually surprisingly good. My Oma used to make one with nuts in it, which in fact I didn’t like, but that wasn’t the fault of the zucchini (I still detest walnuts). Anyway, it isn’t something I make very often, but I accidentally ignored my zucchini patch for a week and when I went and had a look at it on Saturday, I found this:
Astonishingly, my zucchini plant had a zucchini on it…
Or, to be more precise, this:
Imperial marrow! (and yes, that really is to scale).
As the zucchini afficionados among you will be aware, zucchinis are not really at their best once they start getting big enough to be used as blunt instruments. They get all mealy and lose what little flavour they had to start with. There are basically two uses for them at that point – you can brandish them at people and make them giggle (this works surprisingly consistently), or you can grate them and make them into cakes, quickbreads, or muffins.
Today, I did both. But I haven’t provided the recipe for the brandishing part, because I’m fairly sure you can figure that part out on your own. Dirty jokes are optional (giant zucchinis are pretty inherently amusing even without a gutter mind, I find). This recipe is adapted from one I found in an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe book, but it’s personality has changed a bit in the meantime, partly intentionally and partly because I was rather tired and forgot to add some ingredients and then added a whole bunch of others that I could have sworn were listed but in fact were not. My version makes two very large loaf cakes, because I had a lot of zucchini, so you might want to divide this by 1/3 and make one medium loaf. It all depends how out of hand your zucchinis are getting, really…
Your Shopping List
270 g unsalted butter, softened
grated zest of one large orange
3 cups raw caster sugar, or half caster, half brown sugar
3 3/4 cups self raising flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cardamom
3-4 cups grated zucchini
200 g dark chocolate, chopped
Posted in baking, cakes, cooking with vegetables, dairy-free, desserts, everyday cooking, gluten-free, low fructose, nut-free, Recipes, vegetarian
Tagged big cakes, cardamom, chocolate, dairy-free, gluten-free, low fructose, nut-free, recipes, vegetarian, zucchini
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Actually, I would rather be baking things right now. But since my kitchen currently contains about 50 mince pies, two Christmas Puddings of the traditional kind, about 10 of the raw vegan kind, plus chocolate cherry raw truffles and the … Continue reading
Hannah over at Wayfaring Chocolate keeps on putting up these fascinating raw vegan truffle recipes. Today was supposed to be my day for making mince pies (and the day isn’t over yet…), but I thought it might be fun to try making her Anzac truffles and her chocolate and cherry truffles as well. Anyway, as I was out and about getting my mince pie ingredients and wondering what to blog about today, it suddenly occurred to me – maybe I could cross Hannah’s truffle recipes with my fruit mince recipe and make teeny tiny Vegan Christmas puddings!
(Incidentally, this also counts as reason 43,586 why Catherine is insane, because I already have a house full of confectionery leftovers, as well as seven separate packages and boxes of chocolate, cookies and stollen given to me by lovely people in my lab, and there is no way I’m having Christmas without my mince pies, so making three kinds of vegan truffle is probably excessive. On the other hand, I’m not really eating properly at the moment and all I really want is sweet stuff, and at least these are a healthy form of sweet. Says she, rationalising madly.)
Anyway, I’m rather proud of these. Not only do they look incredibly cute, they do taste very Christmas-puddingy, and not too regrettably healthy. Best of all, they take about ten minutes to make – much more suitable for the Australian climate than the traditional variety.
Your shopping list
60 g raw cashews
60 g almonds (I cheated and went with roasted, but raw would work)
30 g desecrated coconut
1 small carrot, grated
50 g raisins
50 g currants
50 g sultanas
50 g mixed peel
4 dried figs
2 dried or glacé peaches or apricots
zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch each of nutmeg and allspice
30 ml brandy (or orange juice)
30 ml agave nectar
1-2 tablespoons orange juice
150 g icing sugar (yes, I know, icing sugar doesn’t seem to be something that raw food people eat, but these look so cute with icing!)
red and green glace cherries, finely chopped
Posted in confectionery, dairy-free, desserts, egg-free, gluten-free, low glycemic index, raw, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged brandy, carrots, cashews, coconut, confectionery and sweetmeats, currants, dairy-free, egg-free, figs, gluten-free, low GI, mixed peel, mixed spice, oranges, raisins, raw food, recipes, sultanas, vegan, vegetarian
Hello! Have you missed me? I’ve missed you, she says, feelingly, looking at her terrifying list of un-read blog posts. I’ve got a few posts to catch up on, but I’m still rather exhausted from the confectionery and also from a rather sad and taxing day yesterday, so it may take me a while.
So this is a cake I made last weekend for a three year old with a lot of allergies and food sensitivities, hence the carob, which I would not otherwise touch because it is disgusting. Feel free to substitute in cocoa powder – it’s what I’d do. It’s a very quick and easy cake, because I didn’t have terribly much time on my hands last weekend, for some reason, but it was well-received.
The little marshmallow mushrooms are my favourite part, and if you actually made them with chocolate, they’d be fabulous.
Your Shopping List
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vanilla bean sugar
1 cup butter, softened (you can use dairy-free margarine if you are really avoiding dairy). I left mine out on the bench all day in 30° weather and that did the trick nicely…
1 cup soy milk
2 1/2 cups white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/4 cups carob powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 regular marshmallows
12 large marshmallows – the kind that are somewhat domed in shape
hundreds and thousands
150 g carob buds
Posted in baking, cakes, dairy-free, low fructose, nut-free, Recipes, Special occasions, vegetarian
Tagged big cakes, carob, dairy-free, low fructose, nut-free, recipes, spelt, vanilla, vegetarian
I have finished, wrapped and packed all the confectionery. I’m not going to hunt up the spreadsheet now, but last time I checked, I had around 200 orders, plus gifts. At 12 pieces per order, that’s more than 2,400 pectin jellies.
(also, I have now empirically experienced reason #1 to be wary when contemplating herbal medicine – about every fifth or sixth batch of confectionery I made turned out to be jam, due to the differing levels of acidity and sugar in individual pieces of fruit. Suddenly the whole thing about how yes, herbal remedies work, but they can be dangerous because you just don’t know the concentration of the active product in any given leaf or piece of root makes a lot of sense. Though that may be the 2am talking.)
I was going to post photographic evidence of this, but since I have to be at work in seven hours, you’ll have to use your imaginations.
And now I’m going to have a shower to wash off the sugar and glucose that I’ve somehow managed to get all over my face, hair, arms, nose, legs, and goodness knows where else. I found glucose on my glasses earlier.
And so to bed.
Well, second easiest. The easiest is just eating the apricots.
This recipe is so easy it doesn’t even need quantities.
What you do is you get a lovely fresh apricot, and slit it open just enough to get the stone out. Replace the stone with a square or two of good dark chocolate, then press the apricot back together. Repeat until you have enough apricots (2-3 per person works for me), and then microwave for a minute or two until you have soft roasted apricots with chocolate saucey centre. This works best if you microwave individual serves in microwave-friendly plates, otherwise you might miss some of the excellent chocolatey juices, which would be a crying shame.
You can serve these with icecream, but you really don’t need to.
This works with any stone fruit and is fabulous with plums and nectarines in particular, but if you use a clingstone variety, you will be cursing the day you ever read this blog. Which would make me very sad, so please don’t. My host mother in France used to microwave apples with chocolate replacing the core, but this was many years ago and I have no idea how long she microwaved them for. And surely she must have let the apple cook a little before putting the chocolate in? Hard to say.
Also, if you try this with cherries you are pretty much insane and do not get any sympathy from me, because you must have known that that was a bad idea when you started.
Posted in dairy-free, desserts, egg-free, everyday cooking, gluten-free, low glycemic index, nut-free, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged apricots, chocolate, dairy-free, desserts, egg-free, gluten-free, low GI, nut-free, recipes, vegan, vegetarian
This is just an apology for lack of posting past, present and yet to come. It turns out that working full-time and making at least three batches of confectionery every evening doesn’t leave much time for contemplating other kinds of food, let alone writing about it. I expect it will be quiet around here for another week or so, but I will try to at least get a few short recipes up here so that you don’t feel completely abandoned.
My normal loquacious style will undoubtedly return by Christmas…
I am such a lunatic right now. I’m bouncing off the walls and giggling madly at the completely insane set of tasks ahead of me this month. And then someone sends me an email mentioning shiny metallic food paint and I want it right now! I don’t need red food colouring – this is all natural. Lucky Andrew… But December is never for sleeping if you’re a choir person, so it’s really hard to convince myself that this is a bad idea.
I’m also bouncing off the walls because I made a really, really delicious dinner, which included perfectly cooked steak (always surprising, since I make steak very, very rarely) on a lovely salad with asparagus and roasted peppers and and homemade roast garlic aioli, just in passing, because I had roast garlic and an egg yolk to use up, and it was all *really good* and the flavours balanced perfectly, but alas, I’ll never be able to replicate it, because I made it up as I went along. So that’s not the recipe you’re getting.
Instead, you are getting the one which I actually bothered to measure and photograph as I went. I even dictated all the quantities to my long-suffering Andrew. I haven’t actually eaten this yet, because we only had dinner half an hour ago, but I know already that this is going to be one of the good desserts. The apricots are beautifully fresh – my former boss’s wife has a cherry and apricot farm, and she brings produce into work to sell (I swapped a bag of jellies for a kilo of apricots), and I couldn’t resist using the lavender sugar I bought yesterday. And then I thought, I haven’t done a gluten-free recipe for a while, so it’s gluten-free, too. It’s a close relative of the Spring rhubarb crumble, but we’ve moved on from spring now. I hope you enjoy it as much as we’re going to.
Your shopping list
1 kg apricots
2 tablespoons lavender sugar (or just add a teaspoon or two of dried culinary lavender to the rest of the sugar)
1/4 cup caster sugar + 50 g sugar for the topping
75 g butter or nuttelex
150 g coarse almond meal
50 g popped amaranth (it was in the pantry)
25 g shredded coconut (and I didn’t even know I had this, but why not?)
Posted in desserts, everyday cooking, gluten-free, Recipes, vegan, vegetarian
Tagged almond meal, amaranth, apricots, coconut, dairy-free, desserts, egg-free, gluten-free, lavender, recipes, vegan, vegetarian