Thursday 30 October 2014

Gnocchi with Mexican Corn

Tonight Sylvia started reading a chapter book in bed.  It wasn't planned.  She just happened to find a crochet blanket down the side of her bed.  Under it was The Folk of the Faraway Tree.  I came into her room and found her reading the book and telling me that I don't need to read to her any more.  Life can be like that.  Unexpected.  Yet obvious when it happens.  Like this gnocchi dish I made this week.

I happened to come across the interesting pasta salads at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.  In particular the Mexican Street Corn Salad took my interest.  It was something fun to make with the corn in the fridge.  And I had yoghurt, the lime, the avocado and some tofu feta.  I wanted it less creamy, less spicy and to use the gnocchi I had in the pantry.  Mine looked like a distant cousin of the Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice salad.

In fact it didn't look like a salad at all.  Despite my good intentions.  In fact I got fixated on making the corn for some Stuff and Stand taco shells that had been too surprising to pass up in the supermarket.  They were just right for stuffing with lots of interesting food.  I had the lettuce and refried beans for colour.  Then I remembered the pasta and was unsure. 

I threw in the pasta with the corn and left the taco shells until the following night.  In my imagination they had become massive taco bowls.  A quick look reminded me they were not that big.  Pretty but never made to hold a meal!  They were also unexpectedly soft.  A nice little addition to the meal but not the star that I had expected.

I am sure the gnocchi and corn would be satisfying on their own.  However I highly recommend serving it with the lettuce, refried beans and yoghurt.  It adds colour, texture and nutrition.  This meal could be made in a dairy loving kitchen with Greek yoghurt, parmesan and feta.  Or it could be made vegan with vegan gnocchi, vegan yoghurt, nutritional yeast and tofu feta.  Mine was a bit of both, according to availability and whim.

I am sending this pasta to Rachel Cotterill who is hosting Jac's Pasta Please event this month with the theme of Fusion pasta dishes.  I love the theme and am pleased to be part of the event, albeit a little late (thanks Rachel).

More fusion pasta dishes at Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Gnocchi with Mexican Corn
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 4

3-4 tbsp olive oil, divided
kernels of 3 cobs of corn
500g packaged gnocchi
2 spring onions, sliced
1 handful parsley (or fresh coriander), finely chopped
1 tbsp hot sauce (I used Franks)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste 
1-2 pinches of chilli powder
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup tofu feta or feta
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes or parmesan
juice of 1-2 limes
2 dessertspoons plain yoghurt

To serve:
Refried beans
Plain yoghurt

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high  heat in a large frypan and fry for a few minutes or until the corn until cooked.  (Alternatively you could BBQ or roast the corn if you had time.)  Remove cooked corn from frypan and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the frypan.  Fry gnocchi for about 5 minutes or until cooked and soft with some crispy edges from frying.  Add more oil if needed.  Return corn to frypan with spring onions, parsley, hot sauce, smoked paprika, salt and chilli powder.  Stir for a minute or so to heat through.  Stir in remaining ingredients and remove from heat.  Check seasoning.

Serve gnocchi with refried beans, lettuce and extra yoghurt.

On the stereo:
Live Concert Recordings: The Dead: Dec 30 and New Year's Eve Oakland CA. (The Grateful Dead)

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Loaf and Lounge: Camperdown bakery, and the road to Port Fairy

On our recent holiday, it was amazing to find a country cafe (The Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe in Port Fairy) that served kale salad.  Yet I was even more surprised on the way home when we discovered the Loaf and Lounge bakery in Camperdown which sold kale salad, raw cauliflower salad and green smoothies!  It was a pleasure to eat good fresh honest food that was more homely than mass produced. 

But let me backtrack to the start of our trip.  On the way down to Port Fairy, we stopped at the Winchelsea Shire Hall Tea Rooms where we had visited last time.  This time it was behind deep roadworks but charming nevertheless.  I had a korma pie with salad and chutney.  It was very nice but the salad was mostly greens.  Spending $13 seemed a lot for a pie with some lettuce leaves.  Yet I was still enjoyed being there and having a good meal.  Sylvia had the chips which were very good too and E had a focaccia.

The rest of the drive to Port Fairy went rather quickly past the windmills and cows and green green fields.  No doubt it felt like we sped along because we didn't detour down the Great Ocean Road as we have on previous visits.  I had to stop to photograph the Stony Rises which, as I wrote about last year, make me all nostalgic for childhood trips down this way.  In fact driving along this part of the Princess Highway brings me past many places that bring back memories of people I have known throughout my life.

The trip home had not a hint of sunshine.  It was the sort of day on which we were just relieved if it stopped raining.  We looked at another cafe that looked interesting called Snout in the Trough but I had seen the Loaf and Lounge (above) which looked cosy and full of people enjoying their meal.  We had just got in there when the rain came on, so heavy and blown almost horizontally by the wild winds.  It was good to be on the inside.

It was obvious when we stepped in that this was no ordinary country bakery.  The sort that rely on lots of icing and cream and custard with a bit of pastry or bun in between.  I have been in enough of those (like these).  This one had the standard pie warmer and loaves of bread and a counter display of colourful cakes.  Yet the walls were brightly painted and the room was furnished in elegant eclectic old tables and chairs that would be at home in a Brunswick cafe.  The juices on the blackboard looked really interesting and Sylvia was able to have sushi.

I spoke to the woman behind the counter and asked for advice on what to eat.  I could have had a sandwich or baked beans but wanted something else.  She advised to have some salad with a pastie.  I was amazed that the salads were kale salad and raw cauliflower rice salad.

Even the pastie wasn't the usual pastie with the regular bakery flaky pastry.  This pastry seemed home-made and more substantial.  If only every pastie came with such healthy salads.  My only problem was that they served the salad without any dressing.  When I asked a waitress she returned promptly with a little bowl of dressing.  The salads weren't full of lots of interesting ingredients like in the Farmer's Wife but they were packed with fresh vegies.  It was great to feel like I had eaten well on the road.

E had sausage roll and chips which he spoke highly of and he enjoyed his coffee.  Sylvia had her heart set on a strawberry milkshake which came in a huge paper cup she could not finish.  I was delighted with my green smoothie made of banana, apple, kale, orange juice, chia, water and ice.  Like Sylvia's drink, it was huge but so good.

After lunch, though we had eaten well, the cake cabinet beckoned.  It was full of colourful sweet treats.  Sylvia chose a green stripey doughnut, I had a coffee scrolls and E had a vanilla slice.  The doughnut was lovely and fresh.

At the counter there was some discussion of whether coffee scrolls have coffee in them.  I don't like coffee so I check, though I know most don't.  It was not the usual puffed up soft sweet bread roll.  It was denser and more chewy.  I enjoyed it though it had too much icing for me.

E hit the jackpot with an amazing vanilla slice.  Vanilla slice is something that gets done really badly in bakeries too often. The custard can be a colourless gell.  (Why else do they call them snot blocks!)  This one had magnificent creamy thick custard with a thick layer of good flaky pastry and pink icing. I am not usually a fan of vanilla slice but when I tasted his one, I almost wished I had ordered one myself.

I did think about buying my dad a piece of vanilla slice and perhaps purchasing some of the jams and chutneys on the shelves.  However I got distracted by the drama of the little girl locked in toilets and the burly tradie who used his screwdriver to get her out.

Then we got back into our car and headed back home via my parents' place in Geelong.  We were glad to go home given that the lovely sunny days of our holiday had gone all gloomy and grim on us.  I didn't take any photos on the way home but will leave you will a photo I took of the impressive clouds on the way to Port Fairy.

The Loaf and Lounge
223 Manifold St
Camperdown, Victoria
Tel: 03 5593 1521

The Loaf and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday 26 October 2014

GF Baked lemon cheesecake

Sometimes a recipe defines a weekend.  I have make great sourdough flatbread wraps, stewed rhubarb, experimented with frying the filling from these sausage rolls (not a success).  Yet it is the baked lemon cheesecake that took most of my attention this weekend.  I haven't made a proper cheesecake for years.  Which meant I worried at every step but it was all worth the effort.  Every mouthful!

The cheesecake was made for a birthday tea for my celiac sister.  I found a recipe for a baked lemon cheesecake. When I came home from the farmers market with lemons, the recipe wasn't quite what I had in my mind.  I searched and nothing else fitted the bill.  So I returned to my original recipe which had to be close enough for jazz.  I used mostly gluten free biscuits for the base.  I stuck to the Freelicious brand which I know.  I bought eggs, which I haven't had in my kitchen for about a month.

As soon as I started making the cheesecake, Sylvia wanted to help.  She juiced and measured and drove the food processor.  She even read a bit of the ingredients list for me.  She also decided to weigh her hand and wave the kitchen scales around.  The display was giving very odd information so I estimated the ricotta and yoghurt weights.  Then I thought to take out the battery and put it back in again.  That fixed the scales.

It didn't stop my cheesecake inexplicably sweating.  It was dry when I turned off the oven.  I cooled it in the oven with the door ajar.  Then it started to sweat.  I mopped its brow with a kitchen towel once or twice.  I am not sure if this helped.  It had dried in patches after overnight in the fridge.  Any advice on why this happened is welcome.

In the morning, Sylvia worked on a birthday card and I checked the cheesecake a few more times to see if it was still sweating.  Finally I put the cheesecake in the boot of the car and drove to my parents' house.

My mum had been very busy preparing a gluten free afternoon tea for Susie.  She made an impressive sponge cake, a childhood favourite jelly slice, meringues, zucchini fritters, spiced chickpeas, chocolate cake and scones.  She loves to experiment and made a Jamie Oliver gluten free scone recipe which was amazing.  The recipe only made a small amount of scones so mum also made some regular scones.

As you can imagine, we ate very well.  The cheesecake was very good after all my worry about it.  (I sprinkled it with icing sugar and mum decorated it with some borage flowers from her garden.)  I was relieved it was the sort of cheesecake I had envisaged.  Dense and yet light and fluffy.  It had a distinct lemony tang and a little texture from the zest.  A small slice was quite enough.

I enjoyed chatting to my niece Quin who knows every Dr Who episode but had never heard of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.  We also talked about books (lots of classics as well as How to Live Forever and Molly Moon) Sylvia played cafes with her cousins and then they disappeared down to the park. 

I am pleased to report that the birthday girl enjoyed the cheesecake.  When I took some leftovers home to E, he asked if it was possible to make a lighter version of the cheesecake.  I sighed and reflected that this was one reason I don't make cheesecake so often.  I do love cheesecake but it is rich and takes me out of my comfort zone.  Yet this is a reminder that I really should bake cheesecake more often.

I am sharing this with the Shop Local event at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary because I bought lemons for this cheesecake at the local farmers market.  (I wish they had come from our lemon tree.  It has quite a few lemons growing but none are ripe enough to pick yet!)

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Tempting Fete and Easy Lentils
Two years ago: Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers
Three years ago: Nut Roast Lasagna
Four years ago: Pea pate - sandwiches
Five years ago: Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times
Six years ago: WTSIM: of cats, ukeleles and enchiladas

GF Baked Lemon Cheesecake
Adapted from Baking: 100 everyday recipes

125g GF (Freelicious) tea biscuits
30g dessicated coconut
20g ground almonds
75g butter

2 large lemons*
300g ricotta*
200g greek style yoghurt
4 eggs
100g castor sugar
1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)

Icing sugar to serve

Grease a 20cm springform tin* and lay some baking paper across the base before fitting into the side of the tin.

Use a food processor to finely grind biscuits.  Add in coconut and almonds. Process briefly until mixed.  Melt butter in a mixing bowl.  Tip in biscuit mixture and mix.  The mixture should clump together if pinched between fingers.  Press into the base of the prepared springform tin.  Chill in fridge while you prepare filling.

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Place all filling ingredients in food processor and blend until combined.  My mixture was quite runny.  Pour on top of biscuit base.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until filling is set and golden on top. Turn off oven.  Leave to cool in oven with the door adjar.  Chill in the fridge overnight.  Leave out of the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with icing sugar.

- My springform tin is 22cm so I used it but a 20cm tin would give the cheesecake a bit more height if you have one.
- The recipe called for 3 lemons but mine seemed large so I only used two which seemed to be enough. 
- I bought the firm ricotta from the deli rather than a tub off the fridge shelves. 

On the Stereo:
His 'n' Hers - Pulp

Thursday 23 October 2014

Watercourse Foods Tempeh Burger

I would love to tell you I decided to make an Aussie burger in dedication to the great Gough Whitlam, former Australian Prime Minister, who died this week.  Sadly I was not so organised.  I searched my cookbooks, found a recipe where I had the ingredients - well I had arame but not onion - and threw it together.  The first night I served the burgers on toast.  The second night I served it more traditionally in a bun.

I did not choose the recipe because it was quick and easy.  It took a while.  It presented challenges.  The wild rice didn't go soft.  Measuring arame was hard so I eyeballed it.  My tempeh comes in a bigger package (which I have recorded in the recipe).  I meant to blend some of the mixture with my hand held blender as a nod towards the recipe that said to blend half of it.  But I forgot.  The mixture held together anyway.

It was a warm day and my oven would never have done the burgers justice in 20 minutes so I fried them.  I had visions of lovely sides but they were substantial and my energy was low.  So it was a humble affair on toast the first night.  Then I bought some garlic focaccia buns.  (A little fancier than the burger with the lot that would have been in vogue at the time of Gough Whitlam!  And who would have had a vegetarian burger at that time.)

Not only did I have buns on the second night but I also had some biocheese from a visit to Mad Cowgirls Vegan Groceries.  You can see how lovely and melty it is with a little time under the grill (broiler).  I also grilled and buttered the buns.  A little trick I learnt from my mum.  It makes a difference.  Then I added tomato sauce, the cheese topped burger, tomato slices, lettuce and beetroot (from a tin).  It was only later I thought that fried onions would have been great.  However it was so filling and so delicious that they weren't necessary.

I ate the bun with my hands.  It was so good.  Probably would have tasted even better if Sylvia hadn't lain down and gone to sleep halfway through her dinner.  That was worrying.  I think we are all a bit under the weather this week. Am sure the burgers are full of healthy stuff that will help us along.  And they tasted delicious.  (Yes, delicious - do not be afraid of the tempeh!)  Really intense and tasty, a little umami and lots of interesting texture.

And now for some random notes:
  • I sang at an event with the Victorian Trade Union Choir at RMIT Story Hall where Gough Whitlam was a guest of honour.  It was a long time ago but I still treasure the memory.  For a prime minister who was given the sack, he achieved a huge amount of change to make Australia a better place.
  • Sylvia asked me recently if we had electricity and water when I was young.  I guess she thought it was a great day when we discovered water and finally had a drink and a wash.
  • Christmas decorations are creeping into the shops.  So soon!  We have sent our Christmas presents to E's family in Scotland.  Although we missed the Australia Post deadline that guarantees they will be there on time.  And after they went I found a few things that should have gone in the package!  I am still glad to have sent off the parcel.
  • As a nut roast enthusiast I am delighted that Nik at The Peace Patch has designated today National Nut Roast Day and featured my blog. 

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Pancakes, Mellow Music and Family Get-togethers
Two years ago: Raspberry Oat Slice and Craft Show and Tell
Three years ago: Vegan pad see ew - with tofu omelette
Four years ago: Potluck, Salad and Car Trouble
Five years ago: Vegan feta crackers for sleepless nights
Six years ago: My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

Watercourse Foods Tempeh Burger
Adapted from Veggie Burgers Every Which WayRecipe online here
Makes 6 burgers

1/2 cup wild rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped (I used spring onion, finely sliced)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp fennel
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper (I used 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning)
300g tempeh
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp arame, rehydrated, drained and chopped
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2-3 tbsp rice bran oil (or other neutral oil) for frying

Cook wild rice in a small saucepan with 1 and 1/2 cups of water until soft and cooked (about 40 to 50 minutes) and for another 10 minutes until mushy.  Cool. 

Meanwhile heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat.  Fry onion, carrot, celery and red capsicum for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.  Stir for about a minute.  Crumble in the tempeh and add lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook another 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to touch.  Use your hands to mix in cooked wild rice, arame, nutritional yeast and chickpea flour.

Form mixture into about 6 patties with your hands, using a little water to keep them damp so the mixture does not stick to you.  Heat frypan over medium high heat and add 1-2 tbsp of oil.  Fry patties for 3-5 minutes each side or until golden brown on both sides.  Add a little extra oil if needed.

On the Stereo:
Home ... where the music is: Taliska

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Farmer's Wife Harvest Cafe, Port Fairy

When eating out in the country, my expectations of the food are lower.  I am always delighted to be surprised by good food.  As was our experience at The Farmer's Wife Harvest Cafe at Port Fairy.  We got there after a day of travelling when I was ready for a decent meal.  The salads beckoned.

We had originally intended to go to a pizza cafe.  Only once we got there, the place was empty and the music was loud.  E took umbrage at the prices but it was really the lack of atmosphere that got us.  Instead we followed the sign on the main street and wandered down the little alley to the Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe.

As I look at the writing on the blackboard it occurs why it appeals to me.  It reminds me a bit of Mollie Katzen's writing in the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, one of my first loves in vegetarian cookbooks.  It is quirky, attractive and welcoming.  Even more welcoming is the message "Vegetarian, dairy free, vegan or gluten free.  Just ask.  We can help."

I also love a cafe with some quirky items of interest.  These shelves looked really interesting.  Then we decided to eat our lunch outside in the sun and forgot to inspect more closely.   E ordered a ham and cheese croissant.  Sylvia had a cheese and vegemite sandwich.  Seems that I was the only one missing vegies and needing salad!

I had one of each salad: kale, farro and broccoli.  I was so happy with my meal.  It was a big delicious bowl of goodness.  Lots of crunch and sweet and savoury.  I remember cranberries and nuts and feta cheese but I cannot tell you which salad they came from.  In my limited experiments with kale salad at home, I haven't been impressed.  But I loved this kale salad with the sweet and sharp dressing.

I'd promised Sylvia a smoothie after she ate her sandwich.  She chose a banana smoothie with soy milk.  It was really nice with a hint of cinnamon.  The only problem was that it was so huge it took her ages.  I could not resist one of the rich gooey brownies.  And a pot of detox liquorice and hibiscus tea.  (Was it irony or habit that they served the detox tea with a smartie!)  Both were delicious.  Though the brownie was so rich that it was probably just as well we all had some.

Sylvia and I took quite a while over our dessert so E decided it was time to do a bit of op shopping.  While he was gone we played a game inspired by the Ramona books we have been reading.  We had to take it in turns to draw three pictures and then the other person would circle which picture was the odd one out (usually based on the first letter).  E got back and found us still playing our game.

When he returned he took Sylvia off to explore the laneway in which we were sitting.  They discovered that the old stone wall had little toys in the crevices.  It was great fun spotting the toys.

I really loved this cafe and was sad we never got to return.  The menu wasn't extensive but the food they made was fresh and inspired.  The prices were reasonable and we were able to find something to suit each of us.  It had a friendly and welcoming ambiance.   If you are in Port Fairy, look out for the blackboard on the main street (Sackville St) beckoning you down the alley (midway between the library and Dariwell Farm Shop).

The Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe
47a Sackville Street, Port Fairy
Tel: 0438 227 240
Opening hours: 9am to 3pm, 7 days a week

The Farmers Wife harvest cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday 19 October 2014

Vegan savoury seedy french toast, Coconut french toast, and Our weekend

French toast always has been a mystery to me.  I never liked eggs enough to want it in my life.  Hurrah for vegan french toast!  I tried it once.  It was ok.  But thanks to Isa Does It, I discovered last weekend that if you coat it in coconut, it is amazing!  Then I wanted something more savoury and thought how much I love a seedy crust on bread.  So I coated the French toast in seeds.  So very good.

When we made the French toast last weekend, Sylvia wanted pancakes.  I convinced her that French toast was actually bread in a pancake.  She was happy to call it "French pancakes toast".  Yesterday when I said we could make French toast she was delighted.  Seems I have won her over.  She loves it with some berry sauce.

One reason I wanted to make the French toast is that I had a heel of a loaf of sourdough bread to use up.  But I also wanted to experiment with savoury French toast.  E says he used to eat it with tomato sauce.  That seemed wrong.  I fried up some tomato and some chickpea scramble.
Last weekend Sylvia loved helping.  Yesterday she had suddenly fallen in love with her dolls house furniture all over again and had to set up some rooms.  E was still asleep.  It was very relaxing to potter about the the kitchen, even though it was a bit of work to make a sweet and savoury version.

Sylvia loved her sweet version with raspberry sauce.  Last weekend I found I preferred mine with maple syrup.  Did I mention I experimented with some chia seeds in the sweet mix too.  Inspired by Kari's French toast.  Perhaps this is what sent me down the seedy path!

Meanwhile I tried frying my savoury French toast in seeds.  It wasn't quite as light and fluffy as last weekend.  Possibly the seeds weighed it down, or the sourdough bread was that much heavier than bakery bread, or I didn't use as much milk.

I think in future I would leave the vanilla out of the sweet French toast and use the same dipping mixture for the sweet and savoury.  Or I might just mix the seeds in with the dipping mixture rather than dipping in a mixture of seeds and scattering seeds over the gaps on the toast.  I also have this crazy idea of spreading the bread with vegemite before dipping and then just serving with a few slices of tomato on top.  The possibilities are endless.

The chickpea scramble (which I made as before but without the vegetable add-ins) was great but I made it first.  In retrospect I think I should have made the French Toast first which takes longer to make and stays hotter longer.  Despite this, it was a delicious breakfast   And so filling that I didn't feel the need for a big lunch.

Lunch was at the Fitzroy Market.  We met some friends to enjoy ukeleles, sausages, plants in gumboots, paisley cookware, pad thai and icy poles (those pineapple, coconut and lime ones were amazing)!  The kids always love the playground and E can't resist a bargain secondhand CDs.

After the market, a few of us went to Little Creatures on Brunswick Street for salted caramel doughnuts, a cheese platter and chatter.  Or giggling, as was the case with the kids.  Once they had finished drawing on the chalkboards the staff gave them to play with.  When Sylvia's friend was told it was time to go, she asked if she could do one more silly thing with Sylvia before they went! 

Sylvia would have had French toast again today but I was saving my energies for helping out with a Mellow Music in the park this afternoon.  It was a great relaxed day enjoying local musicians, Iranian food, kids toys, catching up with friends, and a pedal powered Singer sewing machine.  Lots of fun but lots of work too.  I am exhausted.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Healthy spaghetti hoops, caramel popcorn and a cardboard computer
Two years ago: WSC Chocolate Pumpkin Digestives
Three years ago: Chia bread: revising olive oil bread
Four years ago: SOS Tahini Muesli Bars or Mama Mia!
Five years ago: Chocolate cookies, bbq and mum’s sponge
Six years ago: Lysy’s smoky burgers

Savoury Seedy French Toast
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 1-2

1 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp chia seeds
2-3 tbsp soy milk
pinch smoked salt
2 slices of sourdough bread
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp poppy seeds
1-2 tbsp margarine

Mix chickpea flour, cornflour, chia seeds, milk and salt in a shallow dish.  Soak for 30 seconds.  Scatter sesame seeds and poppy seeds on a plate or lid and dip bread in it.  Heat frypan over medium heat and melt 1 tbsp of margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip over and fry another 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown - add more butter if needed.  Serve hot.

Serving suggestion: serve with tomatoes fried with a bit of seasoning, chickpea scramble and chopped greens of spring onions.

Sweet French Toast with Berries
Adapted from Isa Does It (See the original recipe)
Serves 1-2

1-2 handfuls of berries
Slurp of maple syrup
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp margarine

Heat berries and maple syrup in a small saucepan until berries soften.  Set aside.  Mix flour, cornflour, chia seeds, milk and salt in a shallow dish.  Soak for 30 seconds.  Scatter coconut on a plate or lid and dip bread in it.  Heat frypan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip over and fry another 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown.  Serve hot with berry sauce.

On the Stereo:
Alas I cannot swim: Laura Marling

Thursday 16 October 2014

Vegan choc chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs

There is great satisfaction in being organised in the kitchen.  I can  go for days and days without the right vegetables or snacks and then I suddenly switch into domestic goddess mode.  It happened yesterday.  I baked choc chip cookies and sourdough bread and put a lot of it in the freezer.  I've done all the grocery shopping I need.  I feel unusually virtuous.  (Just don't look at my carpets.  I'll do them later!)*

These chocolate chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs were actually a repeat of those I made on my visit to Adelaide.   I feel good about that.  It can often take me ages to repeat a recipe despite good intentions.  Yet fate took a hand when I found a neglected packet of smoked almonds.

Then I bought choc chips on the way home and was all set.  Except for eggs.  I haven't had eggs in the kitchen for a few weeks.  Perhaps they just haven't felt so necessary in my life after seeing Kari could even make lemon meringue pie without eggs.  Though Sylvia recently has expressed a fondness for boiled eggs so they might reappear soon.  Meanwhile a couple of flax 'eggs' worked well.

When I made these biscuits at Yaz's place, they were quite darkly coloured.  After the suggested 10 minutes, they still looked quite pale after cooking in my oven.  (If only I could compare ovens for every recipes I blog!)  So I left them a few more minutes.

They came out and looked slightly domed.  I have written before that a good choc chip cookie looks slightly wrinkled like the skin of a pug dog.  After 5 or 10 minutes the cookies sunk pleasingly.  They were wrinkly delicious.  I was really pleased with their texture: slightly chewy about the edges, firm enough to keep their shape but soft and nubbly with the nuts, nibs and chips. 

The cookies are quite sweet but I think I should have followed Joanne's lead and sprinkled the dough with smoked salt.  I have tried sprinkling smoked salt on a cold cookie and it works well.  I have added the smoked salt to the recipe even though I didn't use it.  And even with the extra salt I think less sugar would be fine in these cookies.

These cookies aren't technically vegan because the choc chips I used were not vegan.  I used dark choc chips and also some caramel chips that Sylvia requested.  I don't think I would use the caramel chips again.  They probably contributed to the sweetness of the cookies.  If you want vegan cookies you could easily do this by using vegan chocolate.

So I can highly recommend these sweet, smoky, salty, nubbly cookies to you.  We have a pleasingly large stash in the freezer as they make heaps.  They are up there with the almond butter choc chip cookies as the most successful vegan choc chip cookie I have made.  We all loved them.  In fact I have a feeling this will not be the last time I make these cookies.  After all if they are good enough to make twice in a few weeks then that is proof this recipe is a keeper!

I am sending these cookie to the Biscuit Barrel Challenge at I'd Much Rather Bake Than....  This month the theme is Comfort.  And aren't choc chip cookies always comforting!  I am also sending it to Vohn's Vittles for Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary's No Food Waste Challenge.  Not only did the smoked almonds need using but the cacao nibs were bought in 2008!

*Update: the domestic goddess feeling never lasts long - today I forgot about some soup I had simmering and when I came home 3 hours later it was very burnt.  Dinner was like a mash that we scraped off the top.  I hope (and think) my saucepan will survive!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: The Getting of Wisdom Birthday Cake
Two years ago: Vegan Sweet potato and cheeze scones
Three years ago: CC Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles
Four years ago: Spinach Rice Gratin
Five years ago: All About Apples: history, culture and soup
Six years ago: Milestones and Rissoles

Chocolate chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs
Adapted from Eats Well With Others
Makes about 36 medium cookies

2 tbsp ground linseed (flax)
6 tbsp water
250g vegan margarine (I used Nuttalex)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (or less)
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 cups plus 3 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups choc chips (I used 1 cup dark and 1 cup caramel)
1 cup smoked roasted almonds, finely chopped*
1/2 cup cacao nibs
smoked sea salt, for sprinkling

Put together the 2 flax eggs by mixing linseed (or flax) and water in a small bowl.  Set aside so it becomes gloopy.

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Line a few oven trays with baking paper.

Cream margarine and sugars (I used electric beaters).  Add flax eggs and cider vinegar.  Beat until combined.  Stir in flour, bicarb and salt.  Gently mix in choc chips, smoked almonds and cacao nibs.

Drop slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of dough onto lined trays leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  I only put about 8 onto my smaller oven trays which usually bake about 12 biscuits.  They will spread.  Sprinkle dough with smoked salt

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

* I find smoked almonds easy to find in the shops but from the comments it seems this is not the case with everyone.  If you don't have smoked almonds you could make some using this smoked nuts recipe or just substitute roasted almonds and maybe a drop of liquid smoke as well as the smoked salt.  The smokiness of the smoked almonds isn't that detectable but I think it does add to the depth of flavour.

On the Stereo:
Son of Evil Reindeer: The Reindeer Selection