Tag Archives: cashews

Recipe: Walnut and Chocolate biscuits and a fundraiser

Every year, I organise a team of colleagues to do the Global Challenge, a pedometer-based challenge where you have to get a certain number of steps per day.  My team of seven has changed every year, but there are three people who have been in it every time, and more who have taken a year or two off and come back.  This year, we have my three regulars, someone who is back from last year, someone who is back from four years ago, and two newbies.

During the Global Challenge, there are certain weekends where we have ‘mini-challenges’, that encourage us to beat our personal best, or reach some arbitrary number of steps as a group, etc.  Traditionally, I try to organise long walks for these challenges – we’ve walked from Black Rock to Saint Kilda, up along Merri Creek to Fawkner for doughnuts, from Parkville to Williamstown to go on a ghost tour, from Brunswick to the CBD to go on a chocolate walk, and all the way from the mouth of the Moonee Ponds river up to Pascoe Vale, where we got caught in a thunderstorm. 

I was looking for some activities for us this year, and after getting a hard no on my belly-dancing plans, and establishing that several of our walkers couldn’t do really long walks this year for health reasons, I started looking around for more sensible options.  Which is when I spotted the ad for the Cancer Council Relay for Life… which just happened to fall on one of our challenge weekends.

This is a 24-hour relay to raise money for the Cancer Council, but it’s also about remembering people lost to cancer, and it has a fair bit of symbolism attached, in that nobody walks for 24 hours straight, but teams try to have someone on the track at all times.  If one person can’t continue, someone else will carry on for them.

I suggested this, only half-seriously to my lot. (Fine.  You don’t want belly-dancing.  How about a 24-hour relay, then?)  They were in.  And I mean, IN.  I was… appalled.  But also the team captain, so I got us signed up, and went recruiting for more team members.  My feeling was that we wanted two people rostered on at all times, in case someone needed a break, and ideally, I wanted the shifts to be offset so that someone was always fresh.  Fortunately, I was able to recruit 13 people, with two more joining us on the day, which meant that we each did two 2-hour shifts, and most people stayed on a bit before or after their shifts to help out.

Teams are encouraged to have costumes, themes, etc.  I was still recovering from the conference I’d just finished organising, so I was pretty much planning to just make sure people showed up and leave it at that, but I organised a bake sale to fundraise, and during the bake sale, our team plan evolved.  We would wear lab coats!  We would Engage With The Community!  We would have a science fair booth, with experiments that people could participate in!  We have a purple and yellow dragon onesie which is the same colours as the Cancer Council’s logo!

And we did.

I have to say, the day was a lot more fun than I had expected (I had not expected it to be any fun at all – I have dodgy knees which were playing up that week, so I knew it was going to be painful, and that’s about all I knew).  Cancer Council was delighted to have medical researchers participating.  The other participants – especially the children! – were delighted by our activities.  There was a silent disco overnight, which was hilarious to watch – between the people singing along and the people dancing to music only they could hear as they went around the track, it was quite something.  The lab coats turned out to be both warm and highly visible.  We realised early that we wouldn’t be winning the 4x100m sprint activity, so we turned it into a onesie costume relay with the costume having to be worn by each successive participant – and lost convincingly, dramatically, hilariously, and to sustained commentary from the organisers, who found the whole thing hysterical. 

Me, pretending to be a scientist. You should see me pipetting!

There were also some serious moments – the carers and survivors lap at the start, and the candlelight ceremony in the evening, which remembered people who were fighting cancer and people who had passed away from cancer recently.  It was very moving.

And I was very proud that, while other teams slowly shrank in size over the course of the event (I felt bad for one team where almost everyone went home at 9pm, leaving three people to carry the subsequent 13 and a half hours alone), my team mates all turned up on time, full of energy and enthusiasm, and walked, ran or danced their shifts, no matter what hour of the day or night. 

You probably didn’t come here for an extended report on Relay for Life, and I promise that the recipe is coming up next.  But while you are here… if you are currently feeling inclined to support a really good cancer charity in Australia, I’d love it if you’d sponsor meOr my team, who really were fantastic.

My awesome team, who totally deserve your sponsorship

And now for the recipe!  Which is linked, tenuously, to this post by the fact that I invented it for our fundraising morning tea.

This was a bit of a pantry special – I needed something for the people who couldn’t eat lactose or fructose or gluten (of which I have quite a few at work), and I needed something that was quick and wouldn’t require me to go to the shops.  I had half a packed of crushed walnuts and half a packet of cashews.  I had cocoa, and cinnamon.  And I had leftover vegan chocolate ganache from making Sachertorte cupcakes.

So that was easy.  This is basically my almond biscuit recipe in yet another iteration, but I found that without almonds, it made a pretty sticky, sloppy dough, so I added some rice flour to help hold it together.  I did find that I needed slightly damp hands to shape it, even so.  But the results were really delicious, so it was worth the minor hassle.

Very few pictures, I’m afraid – I was too busy trying to make the biscuits in time after a very long day at work – but if you scroll down to the bottom I *will* tell you how to make a rainbow carnation. 

Your shopping list

100 g walnuts (crushed is fine, you will be pulverising them anyway)
100g cashews (ditto)
50 g cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
75 g caster sugar
1 egg
1-2 tbsp rice flour, if needed
1/4 cup soy milk
125 g Lindt 70% chocolate
30 ml maple syrup Continue reading

Recipe: Super Nutty Snickerdoodle-doos (Gluten-Free)

What sort of word is Snickerdoodle, anyway?  A silly one, that’s what.  And these are silly biscuits.

No, actually, they aren’t all that silly.  In fact, as biscuits go, they are quite responsible.  They are not too sweet, a little bit chewy, and have a nice, nutty, cinnamon sort of taste that begs to be paired with a nice glass of milk.  I don’t actually like walnuts very much, but these biscuits somehow sneak around that, despite being really rather walnutty, and convince me that I want to eat more.  This is perhaps less responsible biscuit behaviour, but then, it is probably unfair to blame the biscuit for the fact that I want to eat it, don’t you think?

The mix of nuts is based purely on how much was left in a bunch of open packets of nuts that I found on my kitchen bench.  I think walnuts, pecans and cashews make a nice mix, and have the sort of dark nutty taste that pairs well with spices (I think of pistachios or almonds as having a lighter nutty taste.  Cashews are somewhere in the middle and could go with either) but the proportions could easily be varied, as could the nuts themselves.

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Your Shopping List (or leftovers list, as the case may be)

100 g walnuts
60 g pecans
40 g roasted cashews
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g caster sugar
1 egg
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle

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Recipe: Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Tofu Mousse and Scream de Menthe

I made these cakes for a Big Number Birthday yesterday.  The brief was that they had to be gluten-free, low-FODMAP and vegan, which does, in combination, take a lot of the fun out of things – but fortunately, nuts were allowed, giving me a bit more leeway in terms of flavour and texture.  They are based on my insanely spicy Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes with Smoky Chipotle Mousse.  This time, instead of insane heat, I went with insane alcohol levels. 

Apparently, there’s just something about these cupcakes that brings out the insanity in me… 

I have no idea why he filling is called Scream de Menthe, but for some reason there is no other possible title for it.  None whatsoever.  Some things just are, and one cannot deny them.  I suspect it has something to do with the positively poisonous green colour and the undeniably alarming alcohol and sugar content.

The really important thing to know here is that these cupcakes were yummy.  And alcoholic.  And should probably be kept out of reach of children…

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Your Shopping List

1 cup cashews (raw, or at least, not toasted)
1 1/3 cups almond milk + 30 ml for the mousse
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (or cider vinegar, if you are less worried about FODMAPs)
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cups rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2/3 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup crème de menthe
225 g dark chocolate
250 g silken tofu
30 ml crème de cacao

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Living Below the Line: Pasta Bake Recipe!

I’m sure you are just itching to know how these recipes work, so allow me to share with you the first of my ‘famine’ recipes.  Actually, this one isn’t so famine-ish, because it contains actual fish, and came in at just under $1.10 per serving.  Luxury!

75 g cashews
1/4 cauliflower, coarsely chopped, including bits of stem
5 garlic cloves
salt3/4 cup water, plus more for the vegetables
1 enormous beetroot, or two medium ones
3/4 of a butternut pumpkin
1/2 cup of mixed frozen vegetables
185 g tinned tuna or salmon
550 g pasta
1 slice bread
 

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Recipe: Raw Zucchini Spaghetti with Sicilian Nut-Meat Balls

Oh, God, it’s hot.  It’s hot, it’s hot, it’s hot.  I hate this weather.  I had this enticing introduction all planned to tell you about how I came up with this recipe and why I think it is just too unutterably clever for words and why you should make it right now but my brain has melted in the heat, and basically all I want to do right now is sit in front of the air-conditioner and eat ice-cream.  I just went to the supermarket to get groceries for tomorrow, and I nearly curled up in a corner and built a little house there, because it was so blessedly, wonderfully *cool* and even if it isn’t full of books, at least it’s cold enough that I can breathe.

Anyway.  This is a slightly fiddly, but entirely worth it, raw pasta dish.  It doesn’t involve turning on the stove, and it’s actually even nicer if all the components are kept in the fridge until you are just about to combine them.  The tomato sauce is fresh and light and sweet and the nut-meat balls are rich and full of flavour with sudden bites of caper or currants to keep them interesting.  Also, it looks really cool.

And that’s all I’ve got.  Sorry, I really am melting right now.

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Your shopping list

6 tomatoes
a handful of basil, or a squeeze of basil from a tube
1 fresh date
salt, pepper
125 g sun dried tomatoes
80 g pistachios
40 g almonds
80 g walnuts
80 g cashews
15 g dried mushrooms or 100 g fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup water (optional)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
15 g capers
30 g currants
30 g pine nuts
3-4 small zucchini or two ginormous ones

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Recipe: Stuffed Silverbeet leaves with nuts, cheese and zucchini

I believe I have today achieved new levels of overcatering.  We are positively drowning in leftovers, and I am already plotting ways to sneakily bring some along to the family gathering tomorrow, even though I’m technically not supposed to bring anything.  A big bowl of roast pepper antipasto doesn’t count as bringing stuff, does it?  It’s not like I’m bringing three trays of pizza, cannoli and canneloni and require two people to help me unload the car…

This is not dessert, this is just the platter that goes with dessert...

This is not actual dessert, this is just the sweet platter that goes with dessert…

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Recipe: Raw Raspberry Truffles of Extreme Yumminess

doneYeah, I think we all knew that I wasn’t going to miss Raw Food Day just because I’m not supposed to stand or walk much on this silly possibly-broken toe.  Besides, I needed chocolate.  And I had freeze-dried raspberries!

Like tinned snails on Bastille Day, some things are inevitable (though I still blame the person who threatened to come to dinner wearing an Eiffel Tower hat for that particular inspiration).

These raspberry truffles are based on Amber Shea Crawley’s Cacao Truffles, but as usual, I’ve messed with the proportions and changed the flavours, and now they are mine, mine, all mine, my precious!

Really, though, all you need to know is that they taste like raspberries and chocolate, take about five minutes to make, and are vegan, gluten-free, and almost good for you.  What more could you want from a truffle?

Your shopping list

1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa butter, melted
1/4 cup agave nectar (but maple syrup will work, too)
scant 1/2 cup (about 100 ml) cashew butter or almond butter
1/3 cup cacao powder
30 g freeze dried raspberries
 

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Recipe: Lentil, Mushroom & Cashew Bolognese That Really Tastes Alarmingly Like the Meaty Kind

pasta3Honestly, I’m so ridiculously pleased with myself right now.  I’ve tried the odd lentil bolognese or lentil moussaka recipe before, and the results have been entirely edible and all, but this one actually tastes like the real thing.  Well, my version of the real thing – it’s been a standing joke in my circle of friends for a while that my standard bolognese recipe is practically vegetarian, because the meat gets so thoroughly outnumbered by all the tomatoes and red wine and onions and herbs…

Anyway, this is good, hearty, winter food (which is to say, I put what I thought was a standard-sized helping on a plate and it was *way* too much, though the wholemeal pasta probably added to that effect), just right for a rainy night, and pretty straightforward to make.  It’s also the sort of recipe I’d make if I were trying to feed vegetarian food to someone who really doesn’t like meals that don’t have meat in them – it somehow gains a meaty flavour from the cashews and mushrooms and red wine.

Did I mention that I’m really, really impressed with myself about this dish?  Because I am…

Your Shopping List

8 sun-dried tomatoes – the kind you buy dry, not in oil
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
4 garlic cloves
dried herbs and spices of your choice, but probably rosemary, thyme, black pepper, oregano, chilli, marjoram – I used rosemary and thyme plus a pasta and pizza blend from Gewürzhaus, but I think that everyone has their own idea of what bolognese herbs and spices are supposed to be, so this is very much your call
125 g mushrooms (one or two large ones would work best)
1 cup of cashews
400 g tinned tomatoes (chopped or whole)
90 ml tomato paste
250 g red lentils
200 ml red wine
300 ml water

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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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Your shopping list:

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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Recipe: Raw Vegan Mini Christmas Puddings!

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
pinch salt
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
 
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