Posts tagged feb2012
Baked Chocolate Fudge Custard Tarts

I’ve been looking to make a healthy vegan ‘custard’ for some time. Ever since my egg nog experimentwhere the warm and spicy flavours of vanilla and nutmeg enveloped me.

I was recently inspired by this recipe for a cashew custard by Quirky Cooking, it looked deliciously simple but since I was in a ‘tart baking mood’ at the time I decided to modify it a bit to create a thicker custard that would suit a tart or pie filling. I also added a little nutmeg for a warming spice kick. If you want a thinner custard suitable for pouring you could reduce the amount of cashews and chia a little and slightly increase the water (or simply follow this recipe).

I had fun playing around with tart case options.  Originally I wanted to go with a basic pastry shell and then pile the tart with fresh fruit berries, but as it happened I didn’t have any berries or suitable pretty fruit. So then I began thinking of ways to flavour the tart case in interesting ways.

Options…options!   Either gingerbread and chocolate initially sprang to mind. Since I also had planned to make some of my healthy chocolate fudge to snack on during the week I thought it would be a good opportunity to test it out as a baked crust!

So, the tarts in the photos have a baked chocolate fudge crust, but you could also use your own tart case recipe. Baking the chocolate fudge seems to work really well as a sweet ‘pastry substitute’. It was really easy since the dough itself is very soft and easy to mould so I flattened a ball of it in my hands and then pressed it into a tart case with my fingers, or you could roll the dough and use cutters.

Taste test for the sweetness of the custard as soon as it’s mixed before you spoon it into the cases and add extra agave or a little stevia as necessary. I used a sweet tart case so the custard itself didn’t  need to be overly sweet, if you were using a less sweet tart pastry style case then you may prefer a sweeter custard filling.

Recipe: Baked chocolate fudge custard tarts

Makes 1 medium bowl of thick custard

Ingredients- custard

  • 100g raw cashews
  • 400g water
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste or powder (best quality)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbs ground chia
  • 70g agave (plus a pinch of stevia if you require additional sweetness to taste)
  • 30g cornflour

Method

To make the custard, grind the cashews to get a fine meal. Add all ingredients along with the cashews to medium pan and bring to the boil for 5 minutes stirring continuously.

Alternatively using a Thermomix, grind the cashews for 10 seconds speed 9 and then add all ingredients to the bowl. Cook the mixture at 90C speed 4 for 5 minutes.

Lightly grease the tart pans and line with your chosen tart case. Spoon the custard into the prepared tart cases (if using the chocolate fudge crust line the tart pans with a 3mm thick layer of raw fudge dough) and bake at 180C  for  approx. 10 minutes until the tart tops are on the verge of going golden, keep a close eye so they don’t brown.

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Gingerbread Loaf Cake

My second Daring Bakers Challenge reveal has arrived. 

This months challenge...Quickbread. 

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavour profiles.

You can see the challenge details hereIt was a very versatile challenge in which we had to come up with a recipe for a loaf, muffin or popover (i’d never even heard of that word before!) that didn't use yeast but instead used baking powder/soda as the raising agent. I fancied making a loaf, and as much as I love a good old banana bread (and was very tempted), that is something i’ve made many times before and my veganised banana plantain loaf was even one of the first recipes on my blog.

So, I had another think and a riffle through my folder of scribbles, notes, cutout, printouts of various recipes from all over.  I came across a gingerbread loaf that I had already written a few notes against with ideas for veganising.  I went a little further than this to bump up the healthy factor and used grated pureed carrot to sub most of the oil. The result was amazing, not at all dry but also not at all gummy as i’d sometimes found previously when just using agave nectar as the sweetener. It wasn’t too sweet and was a cross between a cake and a delicate bread with its fine texture.

I baked the ‘mixture in three mini loaf tins so I could vary the toppings. The other reason for this was to reduce the risk of any issue with the loaf browning on the top before being cooked in the middle. Judging by the texture of the loaf I think this may not have been an issue anyway, but I would still suggest using mini loaf tins or alternatively a shallower cake pan if you have them.  

For the tops I kept one loaf plain, decorated the second with chunks of crystalized ginger prior to baking (ok I accept that does have a little refined sugar), and covered the third in a thin sticky layer of chopped up crystalized ginger and agave syrup once baked but whilst the top was still warm.....all three options were delicious!

I served the loaf warm with a dollop of soy youghurt.

Recipe: Gingerbread Loaf

Makes 3 mini loaves (or 1 large)

Ingredients-

  • 1 ½ cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbs ground flax/chia and 2 tbs hot water
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • ½ cup agave syrup and ¼ tsp stevia
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 2 carrots grated/pureed
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • Chopped crystallized ginger for top- optional

Method

Mix together the wet ingredients. Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the wet. Mix through lightly and then pour batter into three mini greased/lined loaf tins (approx. 15cm length).

Sprinkle finely chopped crystallised ginger over the top of the loaf if desired.

Bake at 180C for approx. 30 mins. Check with a skewer to see when done.

Note: I used 3 mini loaf tins to eliminate any potential issue of undercooking/gumminess in the centre. In the past when I have used larger loaf tins the centre has not cooked before the top begins to brown.  This cake crumb was very light and so may not present any problem with a larger pan.

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Sweet Potato Cakes

Yesterday, I met up with a friend for lunch. It was a nice treat as usually all my friends work during the week and so I just have Fridays to myself to do my ‘baking things’ along with all the self-development and learning I’m taking some time out to appreciate.

I had my Pilates class as usual first thing then met up with my friend late morning. The loveliest thing about it was that she cooked lunch for us both….vegan style.  It was great!

It’s so nice when I can share the way I eat with others and it not feel like they are just accommodating me. I think a lot of that has to do with me still feeling a little self-conscious at times when I’m out with others, when it’s not simply me cooking for myself.  I’ve still only been eating this way for a relatively short amount of time (just over a year) and so habits, routines and assumptions are hard to break and I do still sometimes feel as though I’m ‘putting people out’ when chances are they are more than willing to accommodate. When people get interested and excited to share the way I do things it is a great feeling.

So, Friday’s lunch was sweet potato cakes with spicy beans and tomato. The potato cake recipe recipe was modified to use sweet potato instead of regular potato and then veganised so as to not use the egg and butter that the original recipe called for. The butter was easy to sub with olive oil but the egg was proposed as a glaze to coat the cakes before coating in polenta and frying, however we figured that since the potato cakes were soft and sticky as they were, the egg wasn’t really necessary. For those of you who are not vegan feel free to add the egg.

The polenta coating gives a lovely crisp crunch. I have often used polenta (I use the quick cook variety) as part of my flour mix in my baking to give added crunch to cookies. These chocolate shortbread cookies are a great example.

The potato cakes were served with a spicy bean topping, based on this recipe from way back right at the beginning of this blog! (note- awful photo with my compact camera under the fluorescent kitchen light!). The potato cakes themselves are very versatile and could be used to top a salad, with a variety of different toppings or even mixed with beans and used as burger patties in a bun or pitta bread pocket with salad.

Here you have it… Sweet Potato Cakes, courtesy of Fatima Cassim.

Recipe: Sweet potato cakes

Ingredients

  • 700g sweet potato- peeled and cubed
  • 25g olive oil
  • 1 onion- peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove- peeled and crushed
  • Pinch each of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
  • 50g quick cook polenta
  • 2 tbs mild oil

Method

Cook the sweet potato for approx. 15 minutes until soft. Drain and mash well.

Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to a saucepan and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add  the mashed sweet potato to the pan along with the seasoning. Stir together until mixed thoroughly.

Allow to cool before shaping into 4 circular patties approx. 1 inch thick. Coat in a generous, even layer of polenta. Refrigerate for approx. 30 minutes.

Heat a mild oil (such as rapeseed) in a frying pan and cook the potato cakes for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden.

Serve with your desired topping or sides.

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Double choc cookie dough balls and batter

Some months ago, at around the time I first discovered the ‘magical powers’ of chickpeas, I made a cookie dough dip , and subsequently some half-baked cookie dough balls.

These were both pretty yummy...but... this week I had another thought and knew I could do even better!

Enter the super (super) healthy double choc chip cookie dough dip and half baked balls!

Even healthier? How?

Chickpeas and sweet potato!

My blondie and sticky toffee pudding recipes both use a combination of chickpeas and sweet potato as their bases and judging by the amount of times I have made both these recipes...and eaten spoonfuls of the mixture before adding the dry ingredients...it would indicate that this batter is in need of a little recognition all of its own!

The batter can easily be transformed into half baked balls with the addition of a few extra dry ingredients so feel free to whip up a few of each. You will note that the recipe is now ‘double chocolate’. Apart from giving it an even more indulgent twist, the sweet potato turns the batter quite an orangey colour which doesn’t so much give the impression of cookie dough, but with the addition of a little cocoa powder it all becomes so much more!

I baked my balls for around 8-10 minutes and they still have a soft cakey centre. I think they would probably have even more of a half-baked feel to them with a shorter baking period. So I would suggest you take one out after 5-6 minutes and cut through it so see if the centre is how you like it, if not leave them in a few extra minutes. Just be sure not to overbake, otherwise you’ll have regular cookie balls- though I guess that is not necessarily a bad thing either.

One more note, the cookie ball batter with the flour added is still fairly sticky and needed to be dolloped onto the baking sheet although I then lightly used my palms to form a more rounded ball. You could of course add more flour (or less sweet potato) to the mix to make a firmer dough that could be scooped/rolled but I would imagine the centre would not be so soft- if you try this you could add a big choc chunk to the centre so that it goes all melty when heated (Ooooo that’s an idea!).

Makes 2 ½ cups batter or approx. 12-16 balls (depending on size)

Recipe: Double Chocolate Cookie Dough Balls & Batter

Ingredients- batter

  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato
  • ¼ cup coconut butter- melted
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup agave plus ½ tsp stevia
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • 3 tbs cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼- ½ cup dark choc chunks

Ingredients- half baked balls:

Add all above ingredients plus:

  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour (spelt or GF) I used 1 cup ground oats, ½ cup tapioca, ½ cup ground almonds
  • Add extra choc chunks if desired

Method

Blend together all ingredients (except choc chunks) until a smooth batter is formed. Add the choc chunks last and lightly mix through.

For the cookie dough batter it should be soft and easily spoonable- served into a medium bowl.

For the balls the dough should be fairly stiff. Spoon dollops on to a greased baking sheet and lightly roll in your hands to get a smooth shaped dollop. Bake for 5-10 mins at 180C. The outside should be cooked and the centres soft.

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Lentil dhal with aubergine

I thought I’d throw in another simple savoury recipe to interrupt the recent flow of sweet treats. Also since today is Pancake Day and I just know that I will indulge later on…I am hoping that posting a super healthy savoury recipe will go some way to in re-addressing the balance. That’s how it works, right?

So for a cheap and easy protein kick, we have…lentils.

Lentils are a little underused in my kitchen. Crazy really , since they are so versatile and so full of protein (a nice change from beans!). Similarly aubergine (eggplant) is also an unknown entity to me.

Both have been put to good use in this recipe. The simple principle of the dhal can easily be combined with other vegetables.

One of the things I like most about the dhal is that it creates a lovely moist ‘bed’ for the topping in a similar way to how rice, quinoa or cous-cous would otherwise be used. It is a lovely light meal on its own or can be combined with some carbs by way of potato or some bread on the side.

Aubergine works really well here and provides a really substantial almost meaty texture and not at all mushy (the mushiness in some recipes has put me off aubergine in the past). I added some tomatoes at the last minute which give an amazing sweetness. I served this dish with my flatbread which can be made gluten free.

This lentil exploration came about as a result of my other lentil experiments - namely this dip recipeNow I want to explore further and try out all the variations… green, brown, puy, beluga, and not just stick with the regular red split lentils that are found most commonly here. I’m also curious to see whether lentils could be used in any sweet dishes….well, chickpeas and sweet potatoes do lend themselves to the cause so why not lentils?

Watch this space!

Recipe: Lentil dhal with aubergine

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 120g red lentils
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs curry paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion- sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 cm ginger- grated
  • 1 tsp garam masala/curry powder
  • 1 medium aubergine- cut into 1cm rounds
  • Large handful of cherry tomatoes- halved

Method

Cover the lentils

turmeric and curry paste with 500ml water, add a pinch of salt. Boil for 15 minutes until the lentils soften.

Meanwhile cook the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder/garam masala along with the lentil mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile griddle the aubergine in a little oil plus seasoning to taste if desired. Cook for approx. 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Add the tomatoes to the griddle during the last couple of minutes cooking time.

Serve aubergine and tomatoes on a bed of the lentil dhal, with a naan/flatbread side dish for a more substantial meal.

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Choc Chunk Breakfast Cookie

I love the weekend mornings…all the more because I can spend a little longer in my PJ’s, spend a little longer pondering how to fill the day, spend a little longer contemplating breakfast…..

Mmmm….Saurday morning breakfast! Today we have another new twist on my oats (you know I love oats, right?!) This breakfast snack (or any time of day snack) was inspired by this recipe by Ashley at the Edible Perspective, such a perfectly simple concept and with a few tweaks of my own I was ready to roll.

Please let me introduce  the ‘Choc Chunk Breakfast Cookie’

A super speedy, healthy but ever so slightly indulgent breakfast cookie….made in minutes. Ticks all the boxes, right? You could of course double or triple this recipe and form into two or three patties but for me the one was enough to fill me up and give me a morning boost (until my next snack in a couple of hours!)

This cookie is soft and ‘cake’ like with a lovely chewy moistness and contrasts of the chunky nuts and melted chocolate adding to the cakeyness. Without the chocolate it might be  a little dryer so feel free to add a tsp of oil to the mixture if this is more your thing.

You could make this recipe with other fruit and nut combos and omit the chocolate chunks if you were wanting to be really virtuous, (I am planning on testing this out soon) but for me the melty chocolate really hits the spot… and it is the weekend after all. The recipe below contains no additional fats (other than the choc chunks and good fats in the nuts,  and with its whole grains it’s still healthy and filling…so go ahead and enjoy your chocolate moment and start your weekend with a (chocolatey) smile!

If you're already done with breakfast and fancy a super speedy mid morning snack....treat yoursef to another little indulgence of the microwave variety....may be my chocolate mug cake or raspberry cheesecake will give you a bit of inspriation.

Right, better get on (and out of my PJ’s) I have lots of plans to investigate today, too soon to give anything away but I will hopefully be able to fill you in on all the happenings in a few weeks time!

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Recipe: Choc chunk breakfast cookie

Makes one fat cookie

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup oats
  • 2 tbs buckwheat flour (other flours would probably be fine too)
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs ground flax
  • Ground cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste (approx. ½ tsp each)
  • 1 tbs choc chunks
  • 1 tbs chopped nuts or your choice
  • 1 tbs agave or maple syrup
  • 3 tbs soy yoghurt (or regular yoghurt for non vegan)

Method

Mix and mash all ingredients together well to form a thick sticky ball of dough. Roughly flatten the ball with your palms and place on a small microwaveable plate.

Cook on full powder in the microwave for approx. 1 minute. Press with your finger and if it springs back and there are no visibly sticky bits you’re done! Eat immediately whilst chocolate is melty!

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Classic British Pancakes

I love pancakes of all kinds….but especially the typically British thin pancakes with thin crispy edges and bubbly holes across the surface.

But even though I love them I rarely make them this way! I think that’s partly because I look forward to Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras if we’re going to be proper about it) every year and for me the novelty and the excitement just wouldn’t be the same if I ate these pancakes all year round.

Last year was my first attempt at making vegan pancakes in this traditional style. Bearing in mind I only was only just getting into the vegan lifestyle and so my experience and maybe more importantly my intuition was simply not there….so the pancakes were an absolute disaster!

I made a big batch for me and the Boy to share but they just weren’t edible.

I think the main issue was the amount of baking powder I’d used. I looked up a number of recipes which called for 2 tablespoons of baking powder but that was just too much. The pancakes were beyond ‘fluffy’ with big crater like holes and the taste, well, it simply fizzed on the tongue! I’ve learnt a lot this past year and a lot of that has to do with trusting your instincts.

So, based on this intuition I put together a recipe that works a treat. Lightly, fluffy pancakes that holds together well and spread nice and thinly. I have used white spelt for a lighter pancake but wholemeal spelt or other flours should work fine also.

I have some more gluten free and superfood pancake experiments up my sleeve over the next couple of days ready for Pancake Day on tuesday…but for now the perfect simple classic pancake which reminds me just how far I’ve come!

Ooo yes toppings…I almost forgot!

I have shown a classic lemon and (coconut) sugar combo, as well as a PB&J mix made from a tablespoon each of sugar free raspberry jam, homemade peanut butter and soy yoghurt- mix these together then spread on to your pancakes and top with cherries or cranberries of you fancy.

Recipe: classic pancakes

Makes 3 medium pancakes (serves 1 if you are greedy like me!)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white spelt flour
  • 1 tsp ground flax or chia seed
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • tiny pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup soy milk (reduce to half if you prefer a thicker pancake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs melted coconut oil/vegetable oil

Method

Mix dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients. Mix well until you have a smooth batter with no lumps.

Meanwhile heat a medium sized frying pan with very light covering of oil (I used rapeseed oil lightly rubbed over the surface with kitchen roll). Once the pan is hot add a large spoonful of batter to the pan and move the pan in circular motions to spread the batter into a larger circle. Cook for approx. 2 minutes and then carefully flip to cook the reverse for approx. 1 minute until both sides are lightly brown. Run a little more oil over the surface of the pan and then repeat for two more pancakes.

Serve hot with toppings of your choice.

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5-Minute Veggie Noodle comfort

Sometimes the simplest meals are the nicest purely for that reason. A quick, healthy, hot and comforting snack…made all the better with a quick 5 minute turnaround so no slaving over a hot stove. You can sink down into the sofa and relax after a long day when you most need it.

This was actually an accidental dinner that came about as I was prepping a batch of dried chickpeas (I’d soaked them overnight and was just finishing cooking them ready for freezing in small batches) when I realised the time was getting on and I needed to eat…and fast…before I had to head out of the door. I threw some ingredients together and this is what came out!

One of my favourite meals (yet to be featured on the blog) is a peanutty stir fry affair, and this is an even easier speedier version of that principle. Veggies, beans, PB and rice noodles all come together in a nice bowl of winter comfort…well not just winter, any time of the year will do!

To speed everything up I used rice noodles that take just 3-4 minutes to cook, along with some grated carrot, courgette and spinach- which literally took a couple of minutes to heat through, and I also threw in a handful of the chickpeas I’d just finished cooking but you could use any canned beans. Some nice drippy PB and a touch of soy milk if necessary to mix through and you are away. You could also sprinkle some chilli flakes or thai spice seasoning if you fancy…jazz it up any way you like.

Recipe: 5-minute veggie noodles

Serves 1 (easily multiplied)

Ingredients

  • 1 portion of dried rice noodles
  • 1 smallish carrot
  • ½ medium courgette
  • Large handful of any beans
  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1-2 tbs soy milk (or any non-dairy milk or water) as necessary
  • Spicy seasoning to serve if desired

Method

Bring a smallish pan of water to the boil and cook rice noodles for 3-4 minutes (or according to packet instructions). Meanwhile grate carrot and courgette get the beans and spinach ready. Drain the noodles and place back in the pan on low heat, mix through the peanut butter and ‘milk’ if necessary. Once the 'sauce' is warm and drippy add all the veg and mix through for two minutes until just cooked through/wilted.

Serve in a bowl with some extra seasoning sprinkled over as necessary. If your PB has no added salt you may wish to add some soy sauce or a slightly salty seasoning to give a flavour boost.

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