Tag Archives: apricots

Recipe: Vegan Florentines

Don’t be scared of this recipe.  It’s much, much easier than any non-vegan Florentine I’ve ever attempted, and tastes just as good.  Though I might use a bit more in the way of fruit and nuts next time.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar – the recipe was for macadamia lace cookies, and I looked at the picture and thought, ‘That looks like a proto-Florentine to me’.  And then I thought ‘Hey, I bought a whole lot of glacé fruits and also some pistachios yesterday… and I still have some Lindt chocolate and a bag of macadamias in the pantry…’

And really, that was the end of that.  My sister in law wanted vegan desserts for tomorrow – clearly vegan Florentines must be on the menu. 

The amazing thing about these Florentines is how buttery they taste and look, despite having no butter, nor any kind of weird margariney proto-butter.  Mine are a little lop-sided, but if you were the kind of person who likes to make their biscuits super-pretty, you could have at them with a round cookie cutter halfway through baking, to shape them. 

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100 g macadamias
135 g brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar (this is the equivalent of four tablespoons – if you measure the oil first, and the agave next, the agave won’t stick and it will take the last of the oil with it)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
65 g flour
1/2 tsp cornflour
pinch of salt
50 g chopped glacé cherries
50 g chopped pistachios
25 g chopped glacé ginger
50 g chopped glacé apricot or pineapple150 g good dark chocolate

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Recipe: Herman the German Peach and Apricot Cake

I have a Herman the German sourdough cake starter!  Does anyone want one?  (No, seriously, I mean it – Herman is a delightful fellow, but I think he was a Tribble in a past life, and as a result, one must constantly find new Herman acolytes who want a Friendship Cake bubbling away on their benchtop during the week…)

Anyway, he’s a lovely, healthy, vibrant Herman – I think he really likes brown sugar, because he froths and bubbles with enthusiasm at the slightest provocation – and he made me a lovely apple cake with the original recipe a couple of weeks back, but one cannot live on apple cake alone, and also, I found his apple cake rather sweet, so I decided to have a bit of a play with what was in the pantry, and see what happened.

The first thing in my pantry was an awful lot of almond meal left over from last week’s baking extravaganza, as well as a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate-coated coriander seeds, which I had forgotten to add to one of my recipes.  An interesting start.  Apricots and almonds are a natural fit, and I felt that apricot and coriander also gets along fairly well – and I also had somehow acquired no fewer than three half-empty packets of dried apricots, so that seemed to be an obvious choice already.  I still needed some ‘wet’ fruit, and I’ve got a surprising number of tins and bottles of peaches lurking around the place, so they seemed like the best idea for that.  At this point, I gleefully remembered my peach schnapps, and got that out, too.

Does this combination work?  You know, I can’t decide.  I love, love, love the zings of coriander with the dried apricots, but the peach is perhaps a little wet for my taste.  And the whole thing tastes so very alcoholic, far past what I would expect for that amount of schnapps.  On the other hand, all the Germans in my lab absolutely adored this, and said it tasted like a proper German cake (“Like Stollen, only not dry”), so evidently it works for some tastes, if not for mine.  I think next time, I’d use fresh peaches, however.  And maybe a bit of cardamom in the batter.  See what you think.

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250 – 300ml Herman starter (i.e., about a quarter of your Herman on day 10 after his second feed on day 9)
2/3 cups sugar – any kind, but I used half castor and half coconut sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
160 ml canola oil
2 tablespoons peach schnapps, + 2 more tablespoons for the glaze
400 ml tinned or bottled sliced peaches, which you probably should chop, but I didn’t
1 cup dried apricots, ditto
10 g coriander seeds in milk chocolate.  Or just a teaspoon of coriander seeds, just for fun.
115 g icing sugar

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Recipe: Vegan Choc-Cross Buns with Tahini and Apricots

I take Easter, and particularly Good Friday, very seriously.  It’s not just because of the sheer number of professional commitments I have around Easter (and Good Friday is pretty much the peak of these, as I tend to have a late service on Thursday evening, then help lead the Way of the Cross procession through the city all morning on the Friday, before settling in for an afternoon service somewhere – Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are relaxing by comparison!), or even just about the religious aspect, though this is important to me, too. 

In fact, these days I have a personal Good Friday ritual that involves fish and chips and a re-watching of the really good 1971 Jesus Christ Superstar film – because I spend so much of Easter feverishly keeping track of how many more rounds of chant I need to do, or where in the pew sheet I am, or how to make that hymn scan in Italian, or concentrating feverishly on using my voice efficiently so that it actually lasts through four days of epic singing, that there really isn’t much room for personal religious observance.  I’m too busy concentrating on doing my job right!  And that’s totally fine, but I then need something that will let me stop and contemplate the season, and it turns out that JCSS is great for that.  Especially this year, when I’ve spent so much time living in Passion land, between St Matthew, and the readings this week, and listening to the St John Passion sent to me by my pen-friend’s mother.

I just got totally distracted from what I was going to say, which is that for me, Good Friday is also sort of a birthday.  I was born on Good Friday in 1976, so I tend to view the entire Easter Weekend as fair game for birthday gatherings, if there is no time on the day itself.  And the first thing my mother ate after I was born was a hot cross bun, so I am undoubtedly pre-disposed by the conditions of my birth to take hot cross buns seriously, too!

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Anyway, after doing the Hot Cross Bun class at Gewürzhaus, I was consumed with the need to make hot cross buns, repeatedly.  And when I saw the recipe for the choc-chip kind (which I actually view as Not Proper Hot Cross Buns, but never mind that), I was immediately seized by the conviction that these needed to be veganised.  Of course, I then got totally overwhelmed by singing commitments, but yesterday’s afternoon service, in addition to being long, was also fairly inaudible from the organ loft, and so I found my brain turning to recipe design.  As one does.  In particular, I could not help thinking that chocolate tahini would make an amazing substitute for all the butter and eggs that one normally finds in hot cross buns.  Oh yes, indeed.  And since there is at least one vegan in the choir I’m singing with tonight, this is clearly exactly the right time to unleash vegan chocolate hot cross buns on the world!  

Happy Easter to you, if you celebrate it.  As for me, I’ll be singing…

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Reflection and Recipe: Life-affirming apricots with pistachio butter and chocolate

Today was the last of a sequence of strange and difficult days at work for me.  You see, a couple of weeks ago, a member of staff – not one of my scientists, but a long-term member of my little work choir – passed away.  We were not close, though we chatted regularly about music and her cats, and so, while I was shocked and saddened, it would not be true to say that I was deeply emotionally affected by her loss. (It sounds rather cold to say this, but it would feel self-aggrandising and dramatic to claim a strong emotional reaction.  I liked her, I liked singing with her, and we spoke occasionally outside choir.  Others were much closer to her than I was, and I don’t want to belittle their grief by claiming otherwise.)

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Recipe: Strawberry, Lemon and Apricot Cake

You know when you are doubling a recipe, and you think that because you do this all the time you will be totally fine doing this in your head, and then you randomly go and forget to double some ingredients and then, for some mysterious reason, somehow quadruple other ingredients, and this doesn’t even count the fact that you had, in any case, done that usual thing where you take out the icky walnuts and replace them with something random and also don’t measure the lemon zest properly, because seriously, who measures lemon zest?, and also you added extra strawberries because STRAWBERRIES, and…

Yeah, that’s what happened here.  I was wondering why the batter was turning out so oddly, and then, as I was carrying the cakes to work last Thursday morning a little part of my brain went “wait, 15 times 16 is 240, not 480, and definitely not 500, which is what I actually used because I couldn’t be stuffed measuring the butter properly so late at night…”

Oops.  But, as it turns out, doubling the butter just turns the cake from a tea-cake texture into more of a pound cake one, and the whole thing was absolutely delicious, and best of all, I actually get to write up the recipe in my blog, because I assure you, the recipe as I adapted it, both deliberately and inadvertently, is definitely not the recipe in Nicole Routhier’s Fruit Cookbook.  Not by a long way.

So there you go.

Incidentally, this is also why there are very few photos and they are all of the cake in pieces.  I really didn’t think it was going to work.  Sorry.

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2 cups of plain flour
1 tsp bicarb of soda
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 large eggs
 1/2 cup caster sugar + 1/3 cup for the syrup
250 g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
zest and juice of two lemons
500 g strawberries, hulled and cut into 1 cm pieces, or thereabouts.

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Recipe: Sticky Apricot Cardamom Scrolls

After I made those cinnamon scrolls last week and bragged about them to the internet, I had a few requests for the recipe.  Well, I can’t give you the recipe, because for once in my life, I was actually following a recipe properly, and that recipe came from The Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook.  Incidentally, I hope some of you saw the bake off when it was on, because it was enormously fun – like someone took all the interesting parts of Masterchef, condensed them into one hour a week, got rid of the endless repetition and commentary, and added amusing musical stings and a very cute, playschool-like pastel coloured kitchen for everyone to work in, in the gardens of Werribee Mansion.  Oh, and it was all baking, no annoying savoury dishes with everyone nattering on about protein, where protein must always and only mean meat.

Anyway, much to my surprise, this cookbook turns out to actually have all the recipes from the show that *I* wanted to try, which is very clever of them.  Clearly whoever put this together shares my tastes to a remarkable degree.  I want to bake everything in the book. 

Hello, digression!  Getting back to the point, rather than share a recipe that wasn’t mine, I decided yesterday to modify the recipe to something I could share with you.  So instead of coffee scrolls, we have these sticky apricot and cardamom buns which are absolutely gorgeous, if I say so myself.  They do have quite a strong cardamom flavour, so if you like your spices subtle, you might want to halve the quantity. 

The dough, incidentally, is absolutely beautiful to work with – so soft and tender to the touch, just delicious.  And I love the method, which is spread out over a lazy few hours… or a frenetic few hours as you run into the study between kneads in order to write endless political posts (only six left now, hooray!) and food blog wrap-ups.  It’s strangely relaxing to make.

And the results are glorious.

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275 ml milk (low fat milk or a non-dairy milk are both fine here)
7 g dry yeast
1 egg
450 g bread flour
25 g caster sugar + 1/4 cup for the syrup
1 tsp salt
50 g unsalted butter, plus another 50 g for the filling
1 1/4 cups chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cardamom
50 ml blood orange juice – from about half an orange
2 cups icing sugar

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Recipe: Apricot and Peach Schnapps Shortbread from Annette’s Subconscious Mind

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I mean, for starters, there’s John Lennon, though I don’t believe that imaginary biscuits were ever on his agenda in a big way.  Perhaps they should have been, but I can already feel this post tugging at the reins, trying to head off into La-La Land (sounds like a Eurovision song, I’m only waiting for it), and it would probably behoove me to get this recipe out there before things get too crazy around here *.

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Anyway, speaking of dreamers, my friend Annette accused me on Thursday of corrupting her subconscious.  She had apparently dreamed about me making biscuits with peach schnapps and dried apricots in them, and she blamed this entirely on me, because she doesn’t bake and there was no good reason she should be dreaming up recipes. 

Personally, I don’t really mind who dreams up the recipes if they come together like this one, so I’m happy to subcontract the job out to Annette’s subconscious any time.  It’s nicer than mine anyway.  The last really vivid dream I had that involved cooking of any kind – well, suffice it to say you don’t want to know what went into that blender, but it definitely wasn’t vegetarian.  It did come out very, very red, though.  So yes, let’s go with Annette’s subconscious for now.

My first thought when considering Annette’s recipe was that one would start by soaking the apricots in the peach schnapps, but Annette was very definite that the schnapps should be added as a separate liquid ingredient.  This is not exactly common to biscuits, so I chose to compromise by doing both (this is always the best way to compromise, don’t you think?).  I based the recipe on a shortbread biscuit, because Annette doesn’t get on well with eggs, but I think this would have been a good move regardless – a more solid, chewy biscuit would have drowned the subtle peach flavour.  And speaking of subtle peach flavour, do make sure you get a peach schnapps that actually tastes like peaches, not like peach flavouring.  This is going to be the main flavour in your biscuit, so you want it to be a good one.  (I used De Kuyper, which turned out to be a good choice.)

These biscuits have quite a short texture, and taste subtly of peach, with lovely chewy bits of apricot through them.  They aren’t all that sweet, so I so I decided to ice them with an evil mixture of pure icing sugar and more peach schnapps.  Yum.  They really are quite delicious.  Good call, Nette!

Your Shopping List

135 g dried apricots
30 ml peach schnapps for soaking, 15 ml for the biscuit, 55 ml for the icing
300 g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
50 g icing sugar, plus 245 icing sugar for the icing
350 g plain flour
40 g rice flour
silver cachous to decorate, if you like
 

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Recipes: Warm Winter Fruit Salad

swollenThis dessert was inspired by the wintry weather and all that lovely dried fruit I bought from Happy Fruit a few weeks ago at the Coburg Farmers’ Market.  And then I ordered some freeze-dried fruit from TasteBom and it arrived with a little note saying that I was their 200th customer, and a few extra goodies, including the most luscious, plump-looking vanilla beans I’ve ever seen.  A perfect combination.

It’s a bit of a nostalgia dish for me – warm and comforting, and faintly reminiscent of my childhood – I think my mum used to make a more alcoholic version of this for dinner parties back in the 80s.

Best of all, the recipe is very simple, and quite delicious – the dried fruit plumps up and becomes pillowy-soft and infused with flavour from the vanilla and marsala, but mostly it just tastes wonderfully of itself.  And, I have to say, it’s pretty exciting to see the dried nectarines swell up until they actually look like nectarine halves.  But then, I am perhaps easily amused by such things…

dessert

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100 g dried apricots
100 g dried apples
100 g dried pears
100 g dried nectarines or dried peaches
50 g raisins
750 ml water
50 ml sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) marsala
half a vanilla bean
 

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Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food: Orange!

Today is the first day of my new pantry, which is just another way of saying I accidentally spent nearly $100 on spices and salts and infused sugars this morning.  It was very, very tempting to make spices my theme for this month, but I did that in April, and one wouldn’t want to be repetitive.  Then I thought about all the dark, leafy greens coming into season and got all enthused about a green leafy vegetable theme, only everyone thinks that vegetarians eat nothing but rabbit food anyway.

Green was clearly right out.  Let’s do a different colour instead.

The JUNE 2013 theme is ORANGE!

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Recipe: Raw-ish Vegan Sachertorte Pistachio Truffle Tart

chocolate tartI know, I know, that’s a terrible title, but what else could I call it?  It has a raw nut-and-fruit crust, heavy on the pistachios and the apricots, it has a vegan chocolate mousse filling, with more apricot jam to give it a bit of a lift, and the whole thing is rich, rich rich.

But (mostly) good for you!

I mean, think about it – the nuts and dried fruit are full of protein and vitamins and iron.  The bitter, dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants and happiness.  The tofu has more protein and is undoubtedly healthy in other ways that I’ve forgotten.  It’s practically a tonic!  You should eat it for breakfast!

OK, maybe that’s taking it too far, but I am ridiculously proud of this tart.  You see, it was my turn to bring cake to our monthly admin meeting this week, and, as you might possibly have intuited, it has been fiendishly hot around here.  I really couldn’t face baking anything, but I couldn’t do something sensible like cheesecake, because my admin group also includes a couple of people who can’t eat lactose or gluten.  At this point, a sane person would have given up and gone and bought something for the meeting, but, as we have previously established, I’m not a sane person, at least when it comes to food.

So I crossed a chocolate mousse recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World with a whole lot of different raw truffle and raw cheesecake recipes from people like Hannah at Wayfaring Chocolate and Kiri at Bite Sized Thoughts, and came up with this – a decadent dessert that takes less than an hour to make.  It may be more like half an hour if one is organised and not wandering around the kitchen foraging for likely ingredients.

Incidentally, it tastes amazing…

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1/2 cup cashews
1 cup pistachios (plus a handful more to garnish)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seed meal, or ground pistachios, or almond meal
1 cup fresh dates, pits removed
1/2 cup dried apricots (plus a handful more to garnish)
20 ml maple syrup, plus 60 ml for the filling
750 g tofu (a firm one with a fairly silky texture would be good here)
125 ml orange juice
60 ml apricot jam
5 ml orange flower water
650 g dark, dark chocolate, oh yeah.

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