Monday 2 April 2012

Spinach crackers and hummus for a potluck

After the unravelling of my plans for a green vegan potluck for bloggers on St Pat's Day, it was postponed until the last weekend in March.  Which was fine.  The purpose, after all, was to eat lots of yummy green food and get together with some local bloggers.

In an attempt to plan ahead, I had a practice run of spinach crackers and zucchini cake ahead of time.  Yet the day of the potluck still found me up early baking cake, making crackers, riding to the supermarket for a last minute purchase, whipping up cream cheese frosting, whizzing up some green hummus, chopping vegies and tidying up, while E kept our dishes and young child under control.

I'd instantly bookmarked the spinach crackers that Angela had posted on Oh She Glows recently.  I loved making the green sludge of spinach and water that held together the flour and butter.  As with Angela's crackers, the mixture was greener raw than cooked but still retained enough colour to please. 

I was also very pleased with my new purchase of French lavender salt (salt, coriander, aniseed, lavender, fennel, chilli pepper, garlic, ginger).  It gave amazing depth of flavour to the crackers.  They were an instant hit with everyone in the household.

I also made some spinach hummus.  It didn't have the brilliant green of Angela's but it was rather tasty so I have included the recipe I used below.  In addition to crackers and hummus, I chopped up green vegies and had purchased a few green snacks.  We loved the pea snacks from Miaow Miaow - E said they were a bit like cheezels (think flavoured fibreglass!) but greener and tasted more of pea than cheese.  The green tea pumpkin seeds were less successful but interesting to try.  I bought wasabi peas for others because they are too spicy for me.  Lastly I bought a packet of edamame.

Our guests added to the spread of green food.  I asked them to bring vegan food as the majority of people I invited were vegan bloggers.  Mel of Veganise This! brought along spinach arancini with tofu bacon stuffing - she knows how much I loved tofu bacon.  Michael of Where's the Beef not only brought along a spicy but tasty Green Couscous Salad but also wore a green t-shirt with a giraffe on it! 

You might notice not all the food was green.  I didn't want to be didactic about green as a theme so I left it to bloggers to interpret it.  Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen took a lateral approach and interpreted it as environmentally green and bought a hearty Cannelini Bean Casserole that complemented the other dishes perfectly.
Dessert also had plenty of interesting flavours and textures.  Alexe of Soy and Chocolate (and partner Steven) brought along an impressively high vegan gluten-free chocolate cake with green avocado frosting.  Cindy made delicious mint choc chip ice-cream (my favourite flavour as a girl) that astounded us because it was dyed green with spinach.  I made a very soft zucchini cake with green cream cheese frosting (post on this to come).  Cakelaw made some healthy and berry nice Buckwheat Apple and Berry Muffins.  Mel brought along Pistachio Burfi - a lovely soft nutty fudge (not pictured).  E loved it even better than most Indian sweets because it wasn't tooth achingly sweet.

It is always a joy to share a meal with bloggers, taste their recipes and meet some new faces.  We chewed the fat over Blogger, captcha codes, urls, copyright, travel, recipes and where to buy liquid smoke and edamame in Melbourne.  Cindy had kindly brought me a bottle of liquid smoke.

Sylvia was very shy when Cakelaw first arrived but warmed up.  She and Dolly had a lovely time entertaining everyone once Sylvia had eaten all the edamame she could.  Sylvia slurped her melted ice cream.  Dolly beeped.  Sylvia sang.  Dolly cried when she was hit by another doll.  Sylvia threw Dolly to me to catch.  Sylvia threw herself to me to catch.  Dolly jumped.  Sylvia asked why cake need icing (to which Cindy replied with great sweet tooth wisdom why does icing need cake)!  She was so enthusiastic about our visitors by the time Mel left last, that Sylvia was begging to go home with her. I was also sad to see everyone go.  It has been a good lunch.  I hope we might do it again.

I am sending the Spinach Crackers to Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes for her Bookmarked Recipes event.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Nut roast renovation: raw and rescued
This time two years ago: Eating by colours – orange burgers
This time three years ago: Marvellous Mars Bar Slice
This time four years ago: Seduced by Strawberries and a Pudding

Spinach crackers with French lavender salt
Adapted from Oh She Glows
Makes about 36 medium crackers or 60 small ones

1 and 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 and 1/2 (scant) tsp of french lavender salt
55g vegan margarine (I used Nuttalex)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water
30g baby spinach

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F) and line three medium baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.

Place flour and salt into a medium to large bowl and rub in the butter until you have the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.  Blend water and spinach until smooth and add to the flour mixture.  Stir until combined and then knead lightly on a floured surface.

Cut dough in half and roll out one half until quite thin.  Cut out shapes or cut into rectangles with a sharp knife and transfer shapes/rectangles to prepared trays.  Prick with a fork (or I found that they develop air pockets in the oven).  Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake until lightly browned and dried.  Angela suggested 9-10 minutes.  They took 12-14 minutes in my oven which is not very powerful.  A few got quite brown and were quite crispy rather than slightly chewy.  Cool on a wire rack.  Ours have only kept a few days.

Spinach Hummus
Adapted from here

2 spring onions
1 handful of parsley (thanks mum)
2 garlic cloves
85g baby spinach
2 tins of 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1 small to med lemon and 1 lime
1 tsp French lavender salt
3 heaped dessertspoons of tahini
dash of cayenne
about 1/4 cup olive oil (or two very generous splashes)

Process the spring onions, parsley and garlic until finely chopped.  My food processor couldn't cope so I finally took it out and finely chopped it.  I returned it to food processor and added remaining ingredients.  Puree.  Check seasoning and adjust until the flavours were balanced nicely.  Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a week or two.

On the stereo:
Sleeping Beauty - 23 Alltime Favourite Songs & Stories: Jack in the Box


  1. What a lovely catch up - and what a perfect collection of recipes for your blog! I like the look and sound of all of them and am very intrigued by the French lavender. It sounds wonderful.

  2. Thanks for organising the potluck Johanna, it was great to see you and your family again and meet up with others too. I really enjoyed your crackers and the hummus, I might give the hummus a try one day.

    I hope to get a post up about it soon, have had such a busy week so far! I didn't realise Sylvia wanted to come home with me, she is so adorable and highly entertaining!

    1. Thanks Mel - I have been thinking I should do it for ages so was glad to finally do it - was great to see you again and will look forward to your recipes - (sylvia was funny when you left saying, I want to go home with Mel)

  3. Oh my gosh, that salt is herbs as well as lavender? Be still my heart! :) What a gorgeous, gorgeous spread! Green was my favourite colour as a child (which doesn't mean it's been replaced; more that I don't really think about having a favourite colour any more). I so hope the pistachio burfi recipe comes out soon. That's my kind of treat!

    1. Thanks Hannah - the salt is amazing - I want to have it on everything at the moment! Of course I thought you would love green - my favourite was purple as a kid but I went through a phase of loving green as a student and never got over it :-) The pistachio burfi was indeed amazing and I am looking forward to that recipe too

  4. Thanks for organising this potluck and inviting me - I had a great time! Sylvia was absolutely adorable. The crackers you made were so cute - definitely a keeper.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - was so lovely to meet you - and the crackers are a current favourite - while sylvia is a perennial favourite in our house and now you see why :-)

  5. Johanna - thank you so much for hosting! I loved all those crunchy green snacks, when it comes to savoury food I am a snacker at heart. :-)

    1. Thanks Cindy - I love a good spread of snacks - glad you enjoyed them - but am wondering what to do with the green tea pumpkin seeds as they are not getting much love

  6. I can't thank you enough Johanna for organising this potluck and for inviting Steven and me! I had such a good time tasting all of the delicious food and meeting everyone! I definitely hope we can meet again soon! :)

    1. Thanks Alexe - was lovely to meet you and steven - always fun to meet up with other bloggers and taste the marvels I see on the blogs - we must do it again definitely

  7. I love your blog always feels so warm and homely. Am making hummus for Sunday lunch have now decided to give your Green version a go. Have a lovely Easter :)

  8. Lucky you! That would have been lots of fun Johanna

    1. Thanks Brydie - I always feel I am lucky to be able to meet with other bloggers nearby - and wish I could meet with some who live further away :-)

  9. sounds like lots of amazing food, a ahame I missed it.

    1. Thanks K - we had a lovely time - hopefully catch up with you another time soon!

  10. Wow, what a lot of delicious looking green food! I think you've made it all look amazing - and it just goes to show how many shades of green there are when they're all put together! Sounds like you all had great fun too.

  11. Oooh, these are lovely! So much green! I love green! :)


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