Monday 31 October 2011

Pumpkin dip and Vegan Mofo Wrap-Up

Today is the end of Vegan MoFo.  I am partly sad to finish the fun and partly relieved to have a break from a month of daily posts.  It seems fitting to end the month with some reflections and a recipe inspired by MoFo.  I have made more food than I could post in a month.  I am including photos of some of the dishes I had hoped to post (and may do so in the future).

Zucchini Lasagna inspired by Ordinary Vegetarian to use up faux mince meat
My aim in joining Vegan MoFo was to challenge myself to post lots of vegan food.  I wanted to move outside my comfort zone both in what I cooked and what blogs I read.  At first I found the Vegan MoFo blogroll (658 blogs) overwhelming.  I still feel like I have only scratched the surface.  I only found out about Random Mofo yesterday (it generates mofo blogs at random).

It seems to me that you do nothing for the whole of the month except bunker down reading blogs, with assistants, and still not get through all the posts.  (Nor find time to participate in MoFo Iron Chef Challenges or other blog events or comment on all your favourite blogs.)  For a while it was unsatisfying wading through lots of blogs that just didn't interest me.  Not because they were terrible.  They just weren't my cuppa tea.

Tomato, Chickpea and Avocado Pasta from Limes and Lycopene
(next time I wont add spring onions and parsley)
I like blogs with recipes that I might make, with some nice photos and thoughtful chatter.  I don't seek the basics or reviews of foreign restaurants or giveaways or recipes full of processed vegan meats and cheese.  Though if I have developed a connection with bloggers or if they are really well written, I don't mind any of these.  Mostly I find it hard to connect with bloggers without time to get them know them and their blogs.  Rapid scrolling through a feed reader feeling overwhelmed is not conducive to developing such connections.

Despite this, there were many wonderful discoveries on the blogosphere.  I loved some of the MoFo themes on blogs.  For example: Candies and Halloween ideas on Fork and Beans, Orange coloured recipes on Heathen Vegan, 1 recipe 5 ways on Veg-Am and A-Z on Veganise This.  See my MoFo recipe round-ups for more interesting blogs.  I have added quite a few new blogs to my feed reader.

Excellent smoothie of kiwi fruit, blueberries, banana, avocado and soy milk
Posting vegan food for a month was a challenge.  I am not vegan.  However, with an aversion to eggs and milk and creamy food, some days the idea of being vegan doesn't seem hard.  Indeed I quite enjoyed cooking vegan at home, most (but not all) of the month.  Eating out and cooking for others made it hard to do the vegan thing.  I did enjoy spending time in a (MoFo) space where being vegan was normal and having the chance to try more vegan cooking than I would usually.

Country grain and soy bread from Julie Stafford
It also gave me a chance to think about what parts of cooking I find most challenging when it comes to vegan cooking.  Baking without eggs still feels awkward.  Though I enjoy my clumsy attempts.  It is hard because - like replacing meat - there are so many options for replacing eggs.  I enjoyed experimenting with tofu, chia seeds, flax seeds, soy flour and even agar.  What I love about baking without eggs is not having to deal with icky raw egg.  Plus the substitutes are so much easier to halve than eggs.  So many interesting options!

Harder still for me is going without cheese.  I was pleased to make my first cashew goat cheese.  It was excellent.  I was really pleased to find this led to a vegan pizza that worked well for me.  I read a few people note that they found that home made vegan cheese sauce was better than anything they found in the stores.  I think this would be the case for me, given that I prefer home made meat substitutes.

Oven Baked Coconut Tofu adapted from French Fry Conundrum
(good with tomato sauce and pasta but needs some tweaking)
Apart from the goats cheese, other highlights included being nominated twice for a Leibster award (thanks Jeni Treehugger and K and Toby), a spike in my blog stats when Veganasaurus linked to my vegan gluten free pumpkin cheesecake brownies, and JL Goes Vegan linked to my goat's cheeze in her weekly MoFo round-up.  I have a wealth of recipes ideas swirling about in my head.  Today as a final MoFo farewell, I will share one with you.

I was inspired by Scissors and Spice's Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Pub Cream Cheese recipe but I wanted to use pumpkin and smoked paprika.  I am doing better with making cashews into creamy sauce since I got my little blender attachment to my hand held blender.  My problem with the dip was the overwhelming sweetness of pumpkin and cashews.  I felt I added quite a bit of salt and smoked paprika to compensate.  I am not sure I quite got the right balance but it was very moreish.  In fact, it was all but gone at the end of the day after having family over for lunch.

So that's it for Vegan MoFo 2011.  Thanks all those who shared great posts and were generous with commenting.  See you around the blogosphere.  Wishing everyone a happy halloween and a great festive season.  I'll be back soon, albeit not as frequently as this month, and with some of my lacto-ovo vegetarian recipes as well as more vegan ones.

Other great dips on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Finnish green bean paté
Pea Paté
Roasted pumpkin and garlic hummus
Vegan queso dip 
Voracious Vegan Paté  

Smoky Pumpkin Dip
Adapted from Scissors and Spice

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 8-9 hours
1/2 cup water
1 cup diced roast pumpkin
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 - 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 - 1 1/2 tsp salt (according to taste)
dash cayenne pepper

Blend cashews and water until smooth.  This took a while for me and even after minutes of blending it got better but still could be smoother.  Blend with other ingredients or if you are using a tiny blender, blend cashews into cream separately and then blend other ingredients and mix cashew cream and other ingredients in a bowl.

On the Stereo:
Time Out: Dave Brubeck Quartet

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Vegan MoFo recipe quicklinks II

And now the end is near ... Yes, folks!  Vegan MoFo finishes tomorrow.  But I will be left with lots of recipes to try out and reading to follow up on.  Here is a sample of some of the recipes and other posts that I have bookmarked.

I want this for dinner
Baked apple dijon tofu - The Urban Vegan
Banana corn fritters - Veg-Am
Cauliflower potato burritos - Vegan Cookbook Aficionado
Moo Shu Vegetables in Chickpea Pancakes - The V Word
Nut and Mushroom Loaf - xgfx
Smoky corn, red potato and kale chowder in a bread bowl - Vegans Eat Pencil Shavings
Spanikopita with almond feta - Kitchen Operas
Vegan pasta alla vodka - El Paso Veg Snob
Vegan Yorkshire Puddings - Heathen Vegan

Baking and Sweet Treats 
Caramel Sauce - Dine Well
Carrot Pineapple Cake with Tofu Cream - Aliens Day Out
Choc Nut Frozen Bananas - Veg-Am
Fennel and Black Pepper Bread - The Winged Snail
Peanut Butter Popcorn Cake - Cookbrooke
Raspberry and Lime Raw Cheesecake Truffles - Of the Kitten Kind
Vanilla Slice - Veganise This
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies - Kale and Cookies

Pumpkin biscuit rolls - The French Fry Conundrum
Pumpkin Graham Crackers - Vegan Mainstream
Pumpkin granola - Tye dye files
Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies - Scissors and Spice
Pumpkin spinach quiche - West Philly Vegan

Halloween Fun
Blood and Bones (pretzel bones and tomato sauce) - Cookbook Aficionado
Guacamole bats - Fork and Beans
Peppers as jack o lanterns - Spabettie
Spider crackers - PB and Kelly

Great Ideas
Cookie bouquet - The Spade and Spoon
New favourite way to freeze soups and stews (in muffin tin portions) -  Craft Aftermath
Spaghetti and Meatballs Cake - Mo Betta Vegan
Tofu meat - Scissors and spice 
Using spinach to dye mint choc chip ice cream - In the Mood for Noodles

ABCs of Vegan Food survey - This is What I Eat
Comments on Vegetarians in Punch c1848 -  Mr Apes World of Crepes
If the government thinks we should eat more vegetables, why don’t they put cash money behind it? - Veganasaurus
Interview with Carol J Adams (author of The Sexual Politics of Meat) - The V Word
Interview with a four year old vegan - Vegan Linda
My thoughts on being vegan (it's complicated)- Star City Vegan
XGFX survey - Sketch Free Vegan (and lots of other blogs)
I also read a great post about how it is a privilege to be able to chose to be vegan but I have lost the link.

For more, go to Vegan Mofo recipe quicklinks I

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Vegan pumpkin scones

There are people who will wonder why I should even consider veganising my favourite pumpkin scone recipe.  Then there are those who will wonder why the scones needed an egg in the first place.  Well, I am no fan of eggs and this version gave me a chance to bake more with those lovely chia seeds and to write more about pumpkin scones for both Vegan MoFo.

I take great pride in my pumpkin scone recipe.  I wish I knew where I found it.  It has been in my recipe notebook far longer than I care to remember.  I have been eating a similar pumpkin scone for far longer.  I suspect the recipe came from my mum.  These pumpkin scones seem to be unique to Australia - using what we know as pumpkin.  The scones are small, round and fluffy.  I make them often.  A vegan version didn't seem too difficult.  Some silken tofu and chia seeds seemed a good substitute for the egg.

It wasn't my finest moment in baking.  The egg substitution wasn't a problem.  But I misread the amount of milk.  I was hurrying between picking up the car from the mechanics and getting Sylvia to sleep.  A neighbour dropped in.  The rain poured down.  No excuse!  I know this recipe so well.  Well enough to know it wasn't coming together the way it should.  I added tablespoon after tablespoon of milk until it felt right.  The dough could have been slightly softer but it was close enough for jazz.

Coming out of the oven they seemed bland.  I toyed with ideas of more maple syrup (for sweetness), a pinch of salt (for taste) and some soy flour (for added richness).  The scones were so pale compared to my usual scones.  Maybe the pumpkin hadn't been at its best!

As the scones cooled the flavour came through.  I was pleasantly surprised.  They were great eaten warm with melting margarine but even better at room temperature with goats cheese.

Other vegan-friendly scones on Green Gourmet Giraffe
Chocolate blueberry and ginger scones
Orange and date scones  
Treacle scones

Pumpkin Scones
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 18 small scones (or 12 medium)

60g margarine
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ cup cooked and mashed pumpkin*
2 tbsp silken tofu
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp soy milk
6-7 tbsp soy milk
2 ½ cups self raising flour

To glaze:
1 tbsp soy milk

*Note: I had 160g pumpkin (probably about 200g before I peeled and trimmed).  I cut it into chunks and microwaved it in a tub (covered with a vent) until the pumpkin was falling apart.  I mashed it lightly with a fork.  It made a scant half cup.  Ideally the pumpkin should be cooled to room temperature before adding to mixture but it wasn't when I made these.

Preheat oven to 230 C.

Mash up silken tofu with chia seeds and 1 tbsp milk.  Set aside.  Cream margarine and maple syrup. Mix in pumpkin. Gently mix in the tofu mixture and 6 tbsp milk. Sift flour (optional - I never do it) and stir into the mixture to make a soft dough.  Add extra tbp of milk if dough is too dry.

Lightly knead and roll out dough into a 2-3cm thick round on a lightly floured surface. Use a scone cutter (or if you want to be traditional, a vegemite glass!) dipped in flour to cut out scones. Roll out any scrapes of dough and cut more scones until no dough is left. Place on a baking tray. I like placing them close together so they all join up and have to be broken apart once cooked but you can space them out if you prefer.

Brush scones with milk. Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Wrap in a clean tea towel until ready to eat.  Eat warm or at room temperature.  Best on the day of baking but I love them the next day too.

On the Stereo:
The colour of white: Missy Higgins

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

Friday 28 October 2011

Vegan pizza with goats cheeze

A few weeks ago I tried a vegan pizza.  I topped it with vegetables and seasoned tofu.  It was merely ok.  Last Friday I tried again.  This time I had some cashew goats cheeze and asparagus sauce in the fridge.  I roasted pumpkin and chopped up red capsicum.  It was a great success.

E thought it a bit odd.  He likes his pizzas to be traditional.  I love pizza adventures.  The sauce was a nice change from a tomato sauce, the pumpkin was sweet and the goats cheeze was tangy and smooth.  All on Isa's pizza base.  An excellent combination.

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Nut Roast Lasagna

Whenever I make nut roasts, I often have leftovers.  Some days we serve them with more vegetables on the side.  Other days I enjoy finding creative ways to use the leftovers.   When I saw Mel of Veganise This making a cheezy nut roast lasagne, I was keen to try it.

Yet again, I am digging into my blogging backlog here.  I saw the recipe in the middle of the year.  Around the same time that I made the Green (pea) Nut Roast.   So my nut roast was chopped up and thrown into a tomato sauce with heaps of vegies.  I also added buckwheat for a bit more body.

I've never been one for lasagna with lots of meat and cheese sauce.  I love lots of vegies, a generous serving of protein and merely a layer of cheese sauce on top.  I experimented with tofu ricotta and tofu sour cream.  These vegan dairy alternatives made lasagna a far lighter dish.

I haven't seen a white sauce like Mel's before.   No milk or margarine/butter or cheese in sight.  Not even a slab of tofu.  The white sauce was lighter than a traditional bechamel sauce but had a bit too much seasoning for my tastes.  Once paired with the tomato sauce its intensity was somewhat diminished.  Definitely one to revisit.  Overall, we loved the lasagna and it lasted us a good 3 or 4 nights.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
This time last year: Potato and Kale Enchiladas
This time two years ago: The joy of mouldy soy cheese and other quirky note...
This time three years ago: WTSIM: of cats, ukeleles and enchiladas

Nut roast lasagna
Adapted from Veganise this
serves about 6-8

1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 leek
1 medium carrot
2 medium parsnips
5 largish button mushrooms
700ml passata (pureed tomato)
2 cup water
1 cup of diced pumpkin
1 medium zucchini
1/4 cup dried buckwheat groats
1 bunch basil, roughly chopped
1/2 quantity of green (pea) nut roast
2 cups boiled cauliflower and broccoli
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
lots of black pepper

Cheezy sauce:
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup unbleached plain flour
1 teaspoon onion powder (I used granules)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Massel vegetable stock powder
2 cups water
1 teaspoon seeded mustard

To assemble:
1 box of instant wholemeal lasagna sheets (250g?)
2-3 handfuls of cornflakes, crushed

To make the filling: heat oil is a large saucepan and fry onion, leek, carrot parsnips and mushrooms.  I just put them in as I chopped them and took about 30 minutes.  Add passata, water, pumpkin, zucchni, buckwheat groats and basil.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Stir in nut roast, cauliflower, broccoli, and season.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.

To make the sauce: place the nutritional yeast, flour, onion powder, garlic powder and stock powder in a medium saucepan.  Gradually stir in the water.  Stir in the mustard.  Bring to the boil so that the sauce thickens.

To assemble: Splash a little tomato sauce from the filling on the bottom of a rectangular lasagna dish.  Layer lasagna sheets, 1/3 filling, lasagna sheets, 1/3 filling, 1/3 cheezy sauce, lasagna sheets, 1/3 filling, lasagna sheets, 2/3 cheezy sauce, crushed cornflakes.  Bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 45 minutes or until topping is golden brown and when you push a knife inside the lasagna, the sheets feel soft.

On the Stereo:
Hal David and Burt Bacharach: the Songbook Collection: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Vegan Mofu Burgers, Sauce and an Award

This is a post that demonstrates the best of Vegan MoFo: sharing food with bloggers, finding great recipes, veganising favourite recipes, and making connections in the vegan corner of the blogosphere.

One of the first recipes I spotted on Vegan Mofo that took my fancy was the Quinoa and Sun-dried Tomato Burgers on Miranda Writes.   I've never made burgers with quinoa before but have meant to.  I love sun-dried tomato.  The minimal amount of flour made them easy to de-glutenise when K and Toby came for dinner.  They went down a treat with some asparagus sauce and salads.

The burger recipe is one of those ones that is not quite as quick as it looks.  While it just directs you to blend up all the ingredients, shape and fry, a few of the ingredients require preparation - such as cooking quinoa and chopping sun-dried tomatoes.  I changed around the flavours and grilled them rather than frying.  They were delicious, though I found the sun-dried tomato flavour quite intense.  The mildness of the asparagus sauce was exactly what they needed.

Fortunately the burgers and sauce were fairly straightforward to put together, if not as quick as I would like.  Mymain energies were saved for the cheeze for the pumpkin cranberry walnut and goats cheeze salad.  The asparagus sauce was based on one I have made a few times before with yoghurt.  It was incredibly easy to veganise.  I also tossed some tomato, cucumber and avocado with lemon juice.

Fortunately I had prepared quite a bit ahead of time.  It can be slow going when there are small children about.  When I thought I would quickly run out to the backyard to get the washing, Sylvia suddenly took fright.  She was even anxious when I tried to go outside because there was something "really scary" out there.

We had a lovely time with K and Toby.  They brought along amazing raw cacao fudge cake pops for dessert.  As they left, Sylvia warned them that it was "really dark" outside.  I suspect it was just a ploy to stop them leaving because then next day she was making a house for them on the verandah!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
This time last year: Pea pate - sandwiches
This time two years ago: Snags, coleslaw and Julie/Julia
This time three years ago: My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

Quinoa and Sun-dried Tomato Burgers
Adapted from Miranda Writes
Makes 8 small burgers

1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (mine had been in oil)
1 cup lightly packed chopped baby silverbeet (microwaved 30 minutes and wrung out of all water)
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp linseed meal (flax meal)
2 tbsp millet flour
1 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
1 tbsp arrowroot
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder (I used 1 tsp onion granules)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste (I didn't use any)
oil spray, for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend well.  The recipe said to blend it until smooth.  Mine was mostly paste but still had some chunks of sundried tomato and some texture from the quinoa.

Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  I left mine overnight.  Form into 8 small burgers (or 4 larger burgers).  Have some water on hand to keep your hands damp so that mixture doesn't stick to them too much.

Lay out burgers under the grill (broiler) and spray with oil.  Grill until crisp and browned.  I didn't time but you need to leave them for 5-10 minutes, checking every now and again.  Turn over carefully (they will be very soft underneath) and spray uncooked side with oil.  Grill until this side is crisp and browned.  This side will take less time.

The burgers are great with asparagus sauce and salad or Miranda suggests garlic aioli, lettuce and tomatos in a bun. 
    Asparagus sauce
    inspired by this recipe

    2 bunches of asparagus, chopped - about 2 cups
    70g silken tofu
    1 tbsp white miso
    squeeze of lemon juice

    Cook asparagus until soft but still green.  I cooked mine for about 4 minutes in the microwave with a little water.  Blend with remaining ingredients until smooth.  Check seasoning.  Serve warm.

    And now for the Leibster Award!

    Lastly I was delighted to be nominated for the Leibster Blog award by Jeni and K and Toby.

    “Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!

    The rules of winning this award are as follows:
    1. Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
    2. Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by commenting on their blog.
    3. Post the award on your blog.
    4. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!

    I have chosen some of the great new bloggers I have discovered during Vegan Mofo.  There are so many that I have tried to pick ones that haven't already been given the award. 

    Kitchen Operas - gorgeous photos and fascinating foodie ideas
    Liz Lemon Nights - interesting reflections and delicious food
    The Crabby Crafter - attitude and adventure in the kitchen
    Scissors and Spice - glorious colours and fantastic flavours
    Corrina Darling - creative baking and great advice

    On the Stereo:
    Transparency: Frank Zappa

    This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

      Tuesday 25 October 2011

      Cauliflower alfredo pasta sauce

      Creamy isn't my preference for pasta sauces.  Yet I still get fascinated every time I see a vegan alfredo.  Tonight I tried one from cupcakes and kale.  It was an unlikely combination of cauliflower, beans and milk.  An easy dish for a night when I was low on energy.  It was creamy but not as we know it.  I really enjoyed it.

      Sylvia hasn't been sleeping well.  Not good for getting up the MoFo post I intended!  Not good for serving small children.  I was so tired that I forgot to put some plain pasta aside for Sylvia before stirring in the sauce.  Dinner became the Battle of the Pasta Sauce!  She tried it.  For a while it worked.  Then she hit a bit of cracked pepper.  I never heard the end of how spicy it was.  I tried wiping sauce off the pasta.  She broke the pasta into pieces to decorate her plate.

      Fortunately young children aren't really expected to eat well.  Especially not when they are unwell with a cold!  Their role at dinner is to entertain.  We got the biggest laugh when Sylvia called the cauliflower, which she did eat, "dollyflower".

      E also wasn't so keen on the pasta sauce.  He is not into creamy sauces either.  I find too much dairy heavy but creamy is such comfort food.  So perhaps it wasn't surprising that I found myself wanting to taste the sauce over and over before it went into the pasta.  Was it surprise at how creamy cauliflower and beans could be?  Or just that it was so tasty?  Either way I will keep trying these vegan creamy pasta sauces.

      Other vegan pasta dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Avocado Pasta
      Mafaldine with kale and walnut pesto
      Tofu-ricotta, zucchini and pumpkin lasagne 
      Pumpkin and almond filled ravioli
      Vegan sausage, cheese and vegetable pasta

      Other creamy vegan pasta dishes that I must try:
      Butternut squash mac 'n' cheeze - oh she glows
      Hurry up alfredo - vegan yum yum
      New age carbonara - diet dessert and dogs
      Pumpkin alfredo - manifest vegan
      Roasted red pepper vodka sauce - el pasa veg snob

      Cauliflower alfredo pasta sauce
      Adapted from cupcakes and kale
      Makes 3 1/2 cups of sauce

      1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
      1 tbsp olive oil
      1 small brown onion, chopped
      1 cup cooked white beans
      1 - 1 1/4 cup soy milk
      1 clove garlic, finely chopped
      1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
      1 tsp lemon juice
      1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
      1/4 tsp smoked paprika
      lots of black pepper

      To serve:
      1 cup black kale, chopped - from our garden :-)
      1/8 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
      1/4 cup green peas
      250g uncooked pasta

      To make sauce: steam cauliflower for about 20 minutes or until it is so soft it is falling apart when a fork even looks at it.  While cauli steams,  heat oil in a medium saucepan and fry onion until golden.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Turn off heat.  Add other ingredients to the saucepan, using only 1 cup of milk initially.  Once cauli is cooked, add it to the saucepan.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  (I used my hand held blender).  Add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick.

      Meanwhile: Cook pasta according to instructions.  Lightly steam kale and green peas.  Drain and chop sun dried tomatoes.  Mix kale, peas and sun dried tomatoes.  Reheat sauce if required.  Drain pasta and toss with sauce.  Serve in bowls and top with kale mixture.

      On the Stereo:
      Wonderland soundtrack: Michael Nyman

      This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

      Monday 24 October 2011

      VT Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

      It started with a trip to the city to buy cheese cloth!  No.  It actually started earlier with a quaking in my boots at the very idea of trying vegan cheese.  I avoid draining anything in cloths.  Too time consuming.  I also haven't had much luck with getting a creamy texture from cashews.  A new blender and a recommendation gave me the courage I needed.

      My aim was to make vegan goats cheese.  That is cheese made without any animal products, rather than cheese made from the milk of vegan goats.  Just so we are clear!

      Even buying cheese cloth was a challenge.  The recipe said cheese cloth.  I went to a fabric shop and asked to see cheese cloth and muslin.  I was surprised at how different they were.  I got one of each.  If you are as ignorant about cloths as me, you may find the above photo interesting (cheese cloth on left).  My mum said I should have just used a tea towel.  But when I am out of my depth, I tend to follow the recipe closely. 

      Unless I make mistakes.  Which I often do.  I soaked and blended and dumped the mixture into my cheese cloth.  It was very firm.  Well, cheese is firm, I reasoned.  The recipe said to strain out liquids.  Mine wasn't about to release any liquids.

      It was only the next day that I remembered that I didn't add the extra 2 tablespoons of water (as well as leaving out a bit of oil).  Did that make a difference?  The mixture still tasted strongly of salt and lemon.  Sharp!  I worried some of the saltiness should have drained away.  I washed my cheese blob that was fastened in the cheese cloth.  Still very little water came out.  Even after a few more hours.

      I searched for others who had made itVeg-Am had already made it this Vegan MoFo.  It was reassuring to read someone who had made it a few times advising that liquid does not always drain out of her mixture.  In fact, mine didn't look or taste terribly different after 12 hours of draining.  See photo above.

      Then the recipe called for shaping into a log.  Easier said than done.  I mushed mine into a long slick (for want of a better word).  It looked pleasingly creamy.  Then I rewrapped it with the same cloth and used the cloth to help me shape the log.  I put it in the fridge to cool even though I wasn't sure how necessary this was.

      Even baking the log was not easy.  It was to be baked at 100 C.  My oven only goes as low as 120 C.  And the oven flame went out a few times while baking it.  Possibly as a result of the oven going out I baked mine for closer to 1 hour than the 35 minutes.  On one side of the log, the cloth was dry but it was still slightly damp on the other side.  I finally took it out when I thought it might dry out too much rather than when the cloth was evenly dry.

      I was a bit half-hearted about rolling it in black pepper.  Next time I will coat it more thoroughly.  The cracked pepper is great with the tangy salty taste of the cheeze.  I was unexpectedly smitten with this cheeze.  I've never been a huge fan of goats cheese and I think I prefer the cashew version.  It is tangy and salty but smooth and easy to spread.  I have enjoyed it on salad, pumpkin scones, pizza and in a sandwich.

      This is not a quick recipe.  It requires planning ahead.  It requires lots of patience.  It took me almost 48 hours to soak the cashews overnight, blend, drain, chill and bake the mixture.  But it is worth the effort.

      Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
      This time last year: Potluck, Salad and Car Trouble
      This time two years ago: Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times
      This time three years ago: Lysy’s smoky burgers

      Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese 
      From Vegetarian Times, 1 April 2009
      Makes 10 oz or about 280g

      3/4 cup raw cashews
      6 tbsp canola oil (I used 4 tbsp)
      1/4 cup lemon juice
      2 tbsp water
      1 tbsp tahini
      1 1/4 tsp salt
      1 tsp cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

      1. Cover cashews with water in a medium bowl and soak overnight.

      2. Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again. (Oops, I only drained once!)  Purée cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 tbsp water in food processor for 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. (I read that it really makes a difference to do it for 6 minutes so I timed it and got a sore hand because I was using the little food processor bowl that comes with my hand held blender so I had to hold the blend button down for 6 minutes!)

      3. I simmered my cheesecloth in boiling water for 20 minutes, wrung it out as much as possible with rubber gloves and hung it on the clothesline.  Then I placed a strainer over the large saucepan and lined it with (damp) cheesecloth folded in three.  Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth.  I didn't read the instructions to make it into a log and fasten two ends with two rubberbands and I just made mine into a round with one rubberband securing the ends of the cheesecloth together.  Sit in strainer over bowl for 12 hours.  Discard any excess liquid but don't worry if there isn't any.  Chill (I left mine in the fridge a few hours).

      4. Preheat oven to 100 C (200 F). Line baking tray with baking paper. Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. (Easier if you make it into a log in the first place!)  Rewrap, and twist ends to secure. Place on lined baking tray. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally.  Mine took 50-60 minutes.  Cool.

      5. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle with peppercorns and press them into the cheese - roll the log on the peppercorns that scatter on the ground. Chill and keep in the fridge.  Mine only lasted a few days because it was too good to hang around long.

      On the Stereo:
      Mothermania: Frank Zappa

      This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

      Sunday 23 October 2011

      Vegan pad see ew - with tofu omelette

      This dish is not authentic.  No meat.  No fish sauce.  No egg.  Not even peanut oil (due to Sylvia's allergy).  An interesting experiment.  I have never eaten a proper omelette.  I went vegetarian before fish sauce became trendy.  I can never even remember seeing pad see ew on a menu (I glaze over at meat dishes).  So I bravely (or stupidly) went about making a vegan version.  We enjoyed our dinner but I couldn't possibly tell you how it compares to the traditional version.

      I first saw the Pad See Ew recipe on Eats Well With Others.  Joanne had removed the meat.  I wanted to veganise her recipe completely.  I considered leaving out the egg.  Then I wondered about making a tofu omelette instead.

      You can see I wasn't a great success at doing the omelette.  I started to use the eggflip to lift it from the pan too early.  I couldn't resist flipping it for fun.  But it was so soft.  That surprised me.  I always find it a challenge to veganise egg dishes.  I've never liked egg.  I couldn't think of anything worse than eating an omelette.  Unless it was filled with tofu instead of egg.

      I despaired of the omelette.  No matter what I did or how long I cooked it, it stuck to the egg flip.  My greatest sense of success was when I dropped the egg flip to the floor.  The omelette mixture stuck to the floor just like egg does.  I figured I was doing something right.  I found it easiest to let the omelette cool and pull it into pieces.

      I had a few other hiccups.  The tofu didn't get crispy as I expected.  It was rather tasty though.  I forgot to add garlic. I used umeboshi vinegar to add a bit of fish-sauce-like piquancy (so I have been told) to the soy sauce.  At one point I accidentally found myself shaking a few drops of worcestershire sauce rather than umeboshi vinegar.  When you are in a hurry the bottles all look the same.

      I quite liked it.  I was unsure if the taste was right.  It seemed a lot of soy sauce (which makes sense when I translated the name as soy sauce fried noodles).  I wasn't sure if I got the balance of salty, sour and sweet quite right.  I think I did.  The egg worked well to be both a bit of gluey texture throughout the stirfry and also rubbery chunks.  And added extra nutrition and texture.  E wasn't as keen.  He liked the tofu but the broccoli was a bit undercooked for him and it wasn't spicy enough.  The second night I added the garlic and spring onions and used rice rather than noodles.  He preferred it that way.  Not a bad effort for a complete novice.

      Other Asian-style noodle dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Avocado, pickled ginger and tofu soba noodle salad
      Fried ginger rice noodles
      Mee Goreng
      Miso soup with tofu, vegetables and noodles
      Pumpkin and Tofu Laksa
      Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles 
      Thai Style Salad with Noodles
      Pad Thai

      Vegan Pad See Ew
      Adapted from Eats Well With Others
      Serves 4

      320g packet of firm tofu, pressed and cut into large dice
      3 tsp soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
      1 tsp umeboshi vinegar
      1 tsp sesame oil
      1 tsp canola oil

      200g (1 packet) flat rice noodles
      1 tsp canola oil
      1 tbsp soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
      splash of umeboshi vinegar

      450g (about 1 lb) broccoli, chopped
      1-2 capsicums, sliced (I used a mix of red, green and yellow)
      2 spring onions, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 tsp canola oil

      To bring together:
      1 serving of vegan omelette (see below), chopped
      2-3 tbsp kecap manis (or soy sauce and brown sugar)
      2-3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

      Firstly prepare tofu.  I used a firm tofu that didn't need pressing but if you need to press it for about 30 minutes, do this first.  Then mix soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar and sesame oil and marinate the tofu in this mixture for about 15 minutes.  When the tofu is ready, fry in canola oil over high heat until the tofu is darkened and slightly charred around the edges.  This will take a bit of time but mine never got crispy as I expected.  Set tofu aside. [You could prepare the omelette while the tofu is pressing and marinating.]

      Next turn your attention to the noodles: Soak dried noodles for about 20 minutes in hot water.  (Or follow instructions on your packet - I soaked mine about 15 minutes and had to add a bit of water to soften the noodles while frying.)  Heat oil over medium high to high heat.  Add noodles and toss to coat with oil.  Add soy sauce and vinegar.  Fry noodles until crisp around the edges.  Mine were really clumpy - maybe because they were still a bit dry so I added a little water which loosened them up.  Set aside.

      Meanwhile lightly steam or microwave broccoli and capsicums separately.

      Heat oil in frypan. Add steamed vegetables, spring onion, garlic, tofu, noodles and chopped omelette.  Splash in 1-2 tbsp each of soy sauce and kecap manis or soy sauce and 1 tsp brown sugar.  Stirfry the whole lot briefly until warmed through and some of the sauce is absorbed.  Some of the tofu omelette will break down a little.  Check seasoning and add more as required.  Serve hot.

      * Note: instead of noodles you could cook rice and add to the pan (or wok) when you add cooked tofu, vegies and seasoning.  Of course then it would not be pad see ew which means "soy sauce fried noodles" in Thailand.

      Vegan omelette
      Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
      equivalent of 2 eggs

      150g silken tofu
      1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
      1 tablespoon arrowroot (or potato starch or cornflour)
      1 teaspoon almond butter (or tahini)
      1/4 teaspoon onion granules
      1/8 teaspoon turmeric
      1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
      1 shake of smoked paprika (optional)
      about 1 tsp olive oil

      I blended it all together in a small blender attachment to my hand held blender and poured it into large frypan that had been sprayed with oil and heated over high heat.  I covered and fried for 2-4 minutes So far so good.  If all you want is an omelette.  Then I folded it and it looked good but too soft so I just tried to flip it over to fry on the other side and that is where the trouble began. I added oil.  I pushed it around with the eggflip (spatula) which just got covered in more and more goo.  Finally I just let it cool in a bowl.  It dried a bit as it cooled, which made it easier to carefully cut it into dice size chunks.

      On the Stereo:
      Peter and Sophia: Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren

      This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

      Saturday 22 October 2011

      Beautiful Things

      Beauty in Baking: Inspired by CityHippyFarmGirl, I made my chia bread into a sunflower today.  Great achievement for a lazy morning!  Good with baked beans.

      Beautiful but impractical crockery: I have long coveted a tiered cake stand.  Finally I gave in to temptation at a local store.  Now I understand how impractical these plates are.  Impossible to wash.  It takes up half the dishrack to dry.  Too big for our cupboards.  And when will I ever use it?

      Beauty in nature: A rose in our front garden.  Tended by my mum.  A joy to see when we step out the front door.

      More beautiful things: My Delicious bookmarks account restored to me.  Our car being fixed after someone ran into the back of it.  Sylvia in her purple raincoat with pink hearts. 

      This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.