Tuesday, 18 June 2013
I keep my recipes fairly simple for various reasons. For one, money doesn't grow on my back, so if I can get all the ingredients as cheaply as possible from a local shop, so much the better. Secondly, I don't necessarily have a lot of time on my hands (although I do enjoy pottering around the kitchen on a gloomy autumn day, and let's face it, what else is there to do when the British summer is just so effing rubbish). But most of all, and let's be completely honest for a minute, sometimes most of the time, I just cannot be bothered to make a fancy recipe.
But sometimes... sometimes, I do feel like treating myself to something slightly more luxurious. Like crême brûlée (well, I haven't made a vegan one yet, but I will! Some day. In the future. Perhaps.) Or, failing crême brûlée, panacotta.
The best thing about a fancy recipe? Proving to sceptics that it is possible to make something delicate without eggs or dairy. And out of only six ingredients. In hardly a quarter of an hour. *insert smug face*
Prep time: hardly any!
Cooking time: 15 minutes total
500ml (2 cups) thick coconut cream (SunPride is the best in the UK)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agar agar flakes
100g (4-ish oz.) white chocolate buttons
1 peach, stoned and sliced in half-moons
1 tbsp agave syrup
Place the coconut cream, vanilla, agar agar and white chocolate buttons in a saucepan. Bring almost to the boil (this will take about 7-8 minutes), then remove from heat. Keep stirring throughout to prevent the cream from burning to the bottom of the pan or boiling over. Reduce heat if it looks like the cream is going to boil over.
Pour the cream into 4 little ramequins or cups. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
In a small saucepan, simmer the syrup and peach slices for 5 minutes until the fruit is tender and has soaked up some of the syrup.
Carefully turn over the panacotta cups onto saucers. You may need to let them come to room temperature or wriggle them loose with the tip of a knife. Take your time to do this. Or just eat straight from the cup. Pour over the peach syrup and serve immediately.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
I like serving mine in a salad :)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
A good pinch of coarse sea salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
Olive oil spray (or other kind of neutral oil)
Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF. Line a tray with baking parchment.
Wash and cut the carrots down the length. (I don't usually peel my vegetables because 1) I'm lazy like that and 2) all the good stuff's in the peel. Don't peel your pretty vegetables, they feel so naked without their skin.)
Spray the sliced carrots with some olive oil, sprinkle over the rosemary and salt (and pepper, if desired), then toss it all together with your hands (get in there!) Spread over the tray and bake for 40-45 minutes until magically tender yet crispy on the edges.
Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Friends, it did not go well. Not the first time, and not the second time, either.
I wanted to create a gluten-free banana bread with pistachios and raspberries and a hint of coconut flavour, so I used coconut flour and Doves Mill rice flour. Every damn time the bread was uber moist, beyond the point of mooshy. It tastes good, sure, and the top looked pretty, but the inside? I'd never serve that to anyone.
I even broke my spatula the firs time around :'(
So I am reaching out to you. If you have any experience in gluten-free baking, tell me what you know, please! Leave your tips and recommendations in the comments below.
a very desperate wannabe gluten-free-baker Vegan Cookie Fairy
Monday, 10 June 2013
I am quite jealous of raw vegans. Eating all that vibrant, colourful, living food. Cheerfully munching on carrot sticks and sipping on their alien green wheatgrass shot. I'm going to tell you a little secret: I don't like most raw vegetables. I. Just. Don't.
I'm always drooling all over Emily's photos at This Rawsome Vegan Life and have even tried a few of her recipes; they're all delicious! Most of them anyway. Once I tried one of her raw soups, which looked so gorgeous. I thought 'I'll finally be one of those people, drinking a blend of raw vegetables, check out my glow, y'all!' but I hated it. My tastebuds just wouldn't have it.
I refused to throw in the towel. Just because one recipe didn't work for me didn't mean raw foods were off the menu. I've learnt to simply trust my palate and eat whatever feels and tastes best for me.
Last week I had a little bit of fresh mint left lying round in my kitchen and my mind suddenly jumped back to that raw soup. What if I gave it another shot? This time I would choose my favourite ingredients to see if I liked them raw just as much as I liked them hot.
Granted, frozen peas are not raw. (I believe that the usual process is to blanch them before freezing them, but if you could get your hands on a few cups of raw peas, go you!) But avocados are, and the mint is raw, too. So it's a kinda raw soup. For me, the raw food fiend, I find that good enough.
Little bit of advice: do not eat your soup without a plate underneath the bowl, on the pice of fabric you use a backdrop for your photoshoot. Bad idea. Food will inevitably be spilled.
On the other hand, it is a most delicious idea to slater some hummus and fresh avocado slices on your toast and then dip in the soup. Double avocado goodness.
Prep time: 5 minutes
1 big handful of spinach
200g frozen peas (3 cups)
500ml hot or warm water (2 cups)
1 tbsp fresh mint, stalks removed (a very small handful, add more if you want a very minty taste)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve with rye toast or a big beautiful chunk of sourdough and a dollop of hummus.
Friday, 7 June 2013
It's time for a story, children. When I was a little girl, growing up on a farm in a bucolic little Belgian village, my mother grew figs in her garden. And one day, she showed me one and said: "They rather look like a pair of bollocks, don't they?"
This little girl was inevitably traumatised and was never able to even consider eating a fig. Squishy, blasphemous, bollocksy figs. Thanks, Mum.
But this little girl is now twenty years old and it's about time she started to learn to like figs. I like the dried version, although they look like squashed brains that have been left in a dehydrator too long, which, admittedly, doesn't sound much better than a pair of you-know-what, but I'm no Freud, so what do I know about the ins and outs of childhood trauma. What I do know is that 1) figs are chockfull of calcium and heaps of other vitamins and minerals necessary to a healthy and fully functioning body, and 2) apparently figs are the fruits of a carnivorous plant and so they're not really vegan?(!)
But nevermind that last one, figs are still fruits and so I shall continue eating them (sorry, little bees, it's just the circle of life, I guess.) I'm still rather grossed out by the look of them, so I've thought of a clever little plan to add them to my diet: just blend them into a smoothie! They have a mild taste, so pair 'em with a few other fruits and some yogurt to add a bit of zing to your smoothie.
Prep time: 5 minutes
3 small figs, quartered
1 peach, stone removed and chopped
1 frozen banana, chopped
250ml (1 cup) plain soy yogurt
2 tsp chia seeds
a handful of spinach (optional)
Place everything in the blender and blitz till silky smooth. Add some spinach to make this into a green monster.
Tuesday, 4 June 2013
The sun is finally OUT and I have been enjoying it all weekend long. Taking it easy, going with the flow, visiting South London (hard to admit for a North Londoner but dang, it's pretty down there.)
It is packed with protein and has a lovely zingy flavour thanks to the lemon zest and juice. And it is just very, very pretty because it's so green (my favourite colour!)
Friday, 31 May 2013
I know it's very self-indulgent to call one's own recipe 'the best [insert name of meal] ever', let alone 'the best thing you have ever eaten and ever shall eat, end of', but... This really is the best thing you've ever eaten or ever shall eat. End of.
I've tried making vegan tiramisu once before, using tofu as a substitute for mascarpone, but the result was utterly disappointing. It had none of the luscious creaminess of that ex-favourite Italian cheese; instead my tofu 'mascarpone' was grainy, hadn't blended well at all, in fact, and it just tasted of tofu. I would never eat that again, and if it's not good enough for me, it certainly isn't good enough for my guests.
But this... there were no guests to share this delight with because I couldn't bear sharing even one teacup of this heavenly dessert with anyone. I kept it all to myself. And you will too.
I used Bourbon biscuits (aka the new love of my life) because I couldn't find any dairy or egg-free ladyfingers in my local supermarket and was not at all feeling inclined to traipse all around London hunting down ladyfingers. I got sh*t to do, y'know. And then that not-so-little packet of cheap-as-chips Bourbon biscuits was ogling me from a lower shelf in the biscuit isle, crying "me me me, pick me, pick me!' How could I resist?
Best decision EVER.
I'm not sure I would ever make tiramisu with ladyfingers again after creating this. The deep chocolotey creaminess, soaked in extra strong coffee, is a match made in heaven. A party on your tongue that will leave you smiling for the rest of the day. Walnuts blended with coconut cream create a layer softer than a cloud, better than mascarpone (oh yes, I said it!). Dip in a cheeky Bourbon and lick the coconut whipped cream off it, dunking the biscuits as if in a cup of hot cocoa. It just doesn't get better than this.
If you do feel so generous to share this dessert, it would make the perfect ending to a decadent Italian feast. Serve in teacups with a biscuits and whipped cream dusted with cocoa powder for extra va va voom. Your guests will adore you forever.
No baking required, you can make this recipe in 20 minutes flat. Over-stressed party host? Not you, baby. You can glide serenely into the room and smile smugly when your guests' jaws drop, wiggle your eyebrows when they ask you how you did it, and pretend you slaved away all day whilst still looking radiant and relaxed.
Prep time: 20 minutes + setting overnight
cocoa powder, to dust
In a high-speed blender or food processor, blitz the walnuts, water, stevia and Kahlua until you obtain a smooth cream.
* I used Kahlua instead of Marsala because I just adore its coffee flavour. It goes fabulously with the Bourbon biscuits. But do use Marsala if you prefer.
* SunPride is the BEST coconut milk I have found so far. When left overnight in the fridge, the contents of the entire can actually turn to solid coconut cream. There's that much fat in this milk. If you're worrying about your calorie intake at this point, you might as well close this page. This one is not for the faint-hearted or the dieters. You need a good thick coconut milk to make cream thick enough for whipping. It also means the tiramisu will set well.
* If you don't have any stevia powder, you can just use regular brown sugar. Maybe extra fine brown sugar, if you don't like feeling little grains crunching underneath your teeth.
I think I'm falling in love with Italy. I dream of going there and eating luscious pizzas day in, day out (minus the cheese... soupir.) Where is your dream foodie destination?