Vegan Savoury Shapes

Today I’m supposed to be packing and cleaning, so naturally I procrastibaked instead.

I was trying to come up with some interesting snacks for the big road trip, and decided to try my hand at some savoury biscuits. I’ve been making a lot of Italian christmas biscuits lately (little twists and rings flavoured with fennel and pepper), so I thought I’d meddle with the recipe to turn them into vegan knock-off Savoury Shapes.

The result was good enough for me to want to bring the blog out of retirement (temporarily) to tell you about them.

The recipe is as follows, but please be aware that I’m not the most diligent measurer at the best of times, and today is not the best of times. They could be a little saltier in my opinion, but the amount in the recipe below should suffice for those who aren’t salt-fiends.

A pile of vegan savoury shapes.

A pile of vegan savoury shapes.

Vegan savoury shapes

Makes about 30.

  • 1/2 tsp flaky salt
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs (I used basil, sage and oregano)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour, plus more for dusting and rolling
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water (a little at a time, I’m not sure how much)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the salt, herbs, nutritional yeast, baking powder, sesame seeds and olive oil until well mixed.
  3. Add the flour and rub with your fingers until it resembles crumbs.
  4. Add the water a little at a time and mix until a soft, but not sticky, dough forms. Don’t over knead or you’ll make chewy gluten strands.
  5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, until it is about 3mm thick.
  6. Cut the dough into shapes, using cutters or a knife, and prick the shapes with a fork.
  7. Bake the shapes on a tray for 10 minutes? (this bit is sketchy – watch them and take them out after the bottom is getting  little brown, but before they burn).
  8. Cool on a wire rack and either eat immediately or store in an air-tight container.

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Time for a change

Hi there!

Things have been pretty dead around here lately, and I thought I should drop in and tell you why.

Since going back to work full time I haven’t had nearly enough time to research all the fabulous recipes I’d like to, and I’m no longer the main cook or grocery-shopper in our little two-person family. What this means for the blog is that I rarely have anything to put into it.

I’m not quite ready to give it up wholesale, so I’ll be leaving it here in case I change my mind (and I probably will, because I’m nothing if not indecisive), but I won’t be coming back regularly for the near future.

I also wanted to tell you that cooking has given way to gardening as my favourite hobby, and I have set up a new blog about that (I thought it might be confusing for people who find this blog if it morphed into one about seeds and dirt). The new blog will have photos and stories about my veggie gardening exploits, and will have recipes for in-season vegetables.

If you’re interested, you can check it out at www.notyournansveggiepatch.wordpress.com.

See ya round!

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Versatile Blogger Award

So it seems that while I was away (from the blog) A Girl and Her Thumb nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks Jo!

I’m feeling particularly undeserving, given I haven’t been here for months and months, but I’ll play along :)

versatile-blogger

The rules of the award are that I must now divulge 7 mildly interesting facts about myself and then nominate 15 versatile blogs.

Here are some curious facts about myself:

1. My favourite thing right now is vegetable gardening (I read heirloom seed catalogues before going to bed)

2. I am 3 centimeters too short to be a flight attendant on international flights. Or at least, that was the rule when I was a kid and desperately wanted to have that job. I think it worked out for the best.

3. I HATE misuse of the word ‘random’, but catch myself doing sometimes anyway.

4. Every piece of furniture I own is second-hand, bar one: a cube-style bookshelf I bought from Target and put together myself when I was 20.

5. I’ve have 10 varieties of allium (onions and garlic), 3 types of kale, 4 types of carrots, and 5 radish varieties growing at the moment, among other things.

6. A large scarf or pashmina is my must pack item. You can use it as a blanket on cold planes, a head-scarf in churches and mosques, a modesty-helper on buses in the tropics when your skirt keeps riding up, and a pillow in any situation.

7. I am in a constant state of indecision about whether I will grow my hair out or not (I shaved it 2 years ago now).

 

Here are some blogs I love. I suppose they are versatile, in that I use them for info, laughter, community and sometimes recipes etc. They are not in any order particularly, but I have categorised them as food-related and not food-related:

Not Food-related:

  1. http://newswithnipples.com/ News-analysis, feminism and very, very funny
  2. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com.au/ Okay, so it is mostly comics – but she’s great!
  3. http://milkwood.net/ Permaculture everything!
  4. http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com.au/
  5. http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/blog/
  6. http://themoonbat.com/
  7. http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/ Funny and angry. The blogger bans, but sometimes the comments still get unsafe for trans* people.
  8. http://suburbantomato.com/

Food-related:

  1. http://www.olivesfordinner.com/ I only found this blog recently – such gorgeous food!
  2. http://www.onearabvegan.com/
  3. http://simplybreakfast.blogspot.com.au/ Not vegan, but it always makes me hungry.
  4. http://veganmenu.blogspot.com.au/
  5. http://www.maplespice.com/ So pretty!
  6. http://nami-nami.blogspot.com.au/ Not vego, but very good.
  7. http://inthemoodfornoodles.blogspot.com.au/

 

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White pudding, deconstructed.

When I read the description of white pudding, I assumed that A) it would be easy to veganise and B) I knew what it was.

I was wrongish on both counts.

On closer inspection it turns out that white pudding is actually made of suet and oats and spices, which are then stuffed into a sausage-tube-thing. I’ve replaced suet before, usually with margarine and copha, but I’ve got no idea how to substitute a sausage-tube-thing.

But the show must go on, and dinner must be made, so I had a crack at white pudding, deconstructed.

White pudding (sort of), clapshot and veggies

White pudding (sort of), clapshot and veggies

The recipe is below, so rather than go into detail about all the guessing and substitutions, I’ll just tell you how it was. It was good! I don’t know if I’d make it again, considering the trouble, but it was honestly very tasty, and certainly different to what we’d usually munch on.

I served it up with some sautéed vegetables, and clapshot, which is mashed potato, swede and chives.

Vegan, deconstructed, white pudding
Serves 3

  • 1 cup oats, ground
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup tempeh, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup copha, grated
  • 2 tbs vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs dried sage
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp massell vegan beef flavoured stock
  • more oil, for frying
  1. Grind the oats in a coffee grinder or food processor.
  2. Soak the oats in the milk for 30 minutes.
  3. Fry the onion in the olive oil, until soft.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until sticky and well combined.
  5. Wrap the whole mess tightly in some foil, baking paper or plastic wrap, and steam in a double boiler or bamboo steamer for 10 minutes.
  6. Let sit until cool.
  7. Attempt to cut the unwrapped ‘sausage’ into pieces (mine did not like being chopped).
  8. Heat some extra oil in a non-stick pan, and add slices of sausage. Fry until lightly browned on each side.
  9. Serve with a full breakfast, or with potatoes.

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Rumbledethump!

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Rumbledethumps with vegan sausages

 

This is a very quick post, because it’s about a quick and simple dish: Rumbledethumps.

With a name like that, I had to make it, and it’s really just lucky that it’s delicious as well. Really though, you can hardly go wrong with mashed potato, and adding alliums and cheese can only serve to increase the tastiness.

What is it? Mashed potato with leek, kale or cabbage, and cheese, brought together and baked in the oven. I used Cheezly vegan cheese, and a teensy bit of kale and a lot of silverbeet because my kale plants aren’t big enough for whole meals yet.

We ate it with some vegan sausages care of the Radical Grocery Store. It was divine.

Rumbledethumps is one of several potato recipes I intend to try from the UK. The next few weeks will also feature Clapshot, Neeps and Tatties, and maybe also Colcannon.

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Scotch broth and oat cakes

Time does tick on, huh? Lucky for me I’m home with an unstoppable cough today, so I can catch up on blog writing between coughing fits.

The very first Scottish-ish meal I turned my hand to, in the distant past of about two and  half weeks ago, was Scotch broth accompanied by some oat cakes.

Scotch broth is made of meat, leek, root vegetables and barley – what I grew up just calling “soup”. Obviously I didn’t use any meat, but instead flavoured mine with fake beef stock from Massell. I was also unable to find any leek, it not really being the season for them, so I used lots of spring onion, shallot and garlic tops from the garden instead.

I based my recipe around this one from Jamie Oliver, and this one from Angela Hartnett from the Guardian. I have since found that vegan versions abound, so my apologies if my recipe is exactly the same as other peoples’.

Vegan Scotch Broth

Vegan Scotch Broth

The broth looked pretty, and tasted pretty good in that nourishing, wintery kind of way. I don’t think this sort of soup is ever going to win my heart back from curried carrot or creme of cauliflower, but it made a fairly decent attempt. To make it look pretty, and not go too stodgy, I mucked around a little during the preparation and soaked and boiled the barley in its own pot before adding to the soup. You don’t really need to do this, I was just trying to ensure I didn’t accidentally make porridge.

I served the broth up with some oat cakes. I first tried them in Scotland, and fell in love. For those who haven’t tried them, they’re basically just a dry biscuit (or a cracker, for the yanks) made of oats and oat flour. And they’re very tasty and moreish.

As with the broth, I based my recipe around several others, including this one from TriniGourmet and this one on the Bob’s Red Mill site.

I won’t post a full recipe, but will add that:

  • I veganised by using plain old vegan marg, and it worked out well, so no need for shortening if you don’t have any, and
  • I used a coffee grinder to make the oats into rough oat flour. I did this for about 3/4 of the oats called for in the recipe.
Home made oatcakes

Home made oatcakes (pictured with mushroom pate)

I was impressed with how easy they were to make, and how tasty and dry they were, and think I think I’ll add them to the standing rotation. (Actually that probably won’t happen, because I always say that and I never do it, but what the hell, why change now?).

They seemed to go down well with Mr also – he didn’t realise they were home made.

 

Vegan Scotch Broth

Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/2 cup lentils, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 2 tbs vegan margarine
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 swede, diced
  • 2 radishes, diced (you don’t have to do this, I just have a radish glut)
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1 leek or 1 cup of chopped spring onion, onion tops, shallot tops and garlic tops
  • 2 litres of stock (I used massell beef stock powder)
  1. In a pot of boiling water, cook the barley and the lentils. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the margarine and fry the onion until soft.
  3. Add the vegetables, including leek if you have it but leave the onion and garlic tops out if you’re using them instead. Add the stock ad bring to the boil. Return to a simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the onion etc tops if using, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with bread (or oat cakes).

 

 

 

 

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Introducing – Scotland!

Last weekend I started the first in a series of kitchen sessions devoted to the UK.

I started with Scotland, home of (some of) my ancestors (and some second cousins).

My pop was Scottish, but as he didn’t cook I was never really exposed to the food, just the accent. And the tartan. And the occasional bagpipe occurrence, although this wasn’t his fault – he lived up the road from the bagpipe school.

I’ve been to Scotland with Mr., but as self-catering vegans, we didn’t really experience a lot of Scottish food per se. I wrote about what we did experience back then, and you can read it here.

Anyway, before we move on to the food, lets start with some facts and figures.

Scotland – Where is it?
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, which also includes England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

It is the northern-most part of the island of Great Britain, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea, the North Channel and the North Sea.

People and economy
Population: approx. 5.3 million people
Life expectancy: Men 76, Women 81
Ethnic groups: 88.09% Scottish (white), 7.37% Other British (white), 2.49% Other white, 2.01% others
Languages: Scottish English, Scottish Gaelic, Scots.
GDP per capita: US$43 492

Statistics from Wikipedia and Soctland.gov.uk

Did you know…?
Scotland is made up of 709 Islands.
Scottish English is an official language, different than just plain old English.
This week, 3-10th April, is Scotland week in the US and Canada.
28% of the Scottish population report having no religion.
The Scottish flag is the oldest national flag still in use.

The Menu

  • Oat Porridge and sweet tea
  • Oatcakes and Scotch Broth
  • White pudding, with Neeps and Tatties (or Clapshot, which is the same but mashed together with chives)
  • Rumbledethumps (because check out that name!)
  • If I find any leeks, I will also make Cock-a-leekie soup
  • Shortbread and Caramel Shortbread

Just a warning – I’m not making Haggis. This is because I ate the real thing once when I was little, and a veggie version in Scotland in 2011, and it was nice, but I wasn’t particularly moved either time. But you should check out Johanna’s recipe on Green Gourmet Giraffe if you’re keen.

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The last feast

It probably isn’t fair to use ‘first’ and ‘last’ when there are only two, but I started with it last week, so now I gotta finish it.

The second/last dinner with an Iranian bent at my place consisted of a polow (rice dish), an attempt at vegan kebab, and some salads.

I used the recipes from Saraban as a guide, but changed them so much they are no doubt unrecognisable to their creators by now. For the jewelled polow I used a half-half Persinan/Central Asian rice cooking method. I soaked the rice and parboiled it, as per the Persian method, but I did not make a crunchy bottom. Instead I sort of stir-fried the rice with the fruit and nuts, with some turmeric thrown in for colour.

It tasted good, and looked good too, although it was missing the distinctive Iranian crunch.

Jewelled polow and 'chicken' kebab

Jewelled polow and ‘chicken’ kebab

For the kebab, I drew inspiration from a recipe for chicken kebab with lemon, mint and chilli.

The original recipe called for chicken soaked in yoghurt and the flavourings. As I chose to use Fry’s strips I avoided this soaking concept. The strips DO NOT like being cooked in liquid, as I found out many moons ago when I turned them to mush in an attempt at making Malaysian red-cooked chicken.

Instead of soaking, I fried the strips with some turmeric, a teensy bit of lemon and some cumin and dried mint. I then made a serving sauce to go with it, that was sort-of yoghurty. I served it up with some lime wedges to add the tang without melting the strips.

It turned out to be totally delicious, and is something I’ll make from time to time in the future.

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Vegan kebab and polow

The salad was a thrown-together affair of petal, purslane, lettuce and herbs from our garden. Mr found the basil too strong, but I thought it was just right.

Garden salad

Garden salad

So that’s it for Iran. I’m sad to say goodbye to the yummy flavours, but I’ll be happy to go back to easy and quick rice dishes :)

Next up on Around the World Vegan, a foray into Egypt, Sri Lanka, Germany or China – I haven’t decided yet!

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Beakfast, lunch and sweets

Try as I may, I’ve never been able to knock out a great loaf of bread. Sometimes I might accidentally turn out an OKish flatbread or a decent pan-fried roti but that’s as close I get to fluffy, tall, slice-able thing. So when I read that in Iran bread is king, and is chowed-down upon at every meal, I was not optimistic about my ability to master the dish.

And I was right to be pessimistic.

I followed a recipe in Saraban for Barberi, or breakfast bread. It’s a flat bread, so I thought it wouldn’t be too elusive. It smelled divine while it was rising, and it actually did rise (!). I pulled it into ovals and I pre-heated trays and I baked and I pulled it out of the oven and it smelled great and was fluffy… but was lacking any flavour at all. And it was hard as stone within about 30 minutes.

Ah well, a baker is one of things I am not.

In any case, we had ate it for breakfast, with jams and tea. At least is was photogenicish:

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Yes indeed that IS margarine with jam and bread. (Mr style)

For lunch on the same day the bread got another run as a side-kick for the soup. I found a recipe for beet and lentil soup on Turmeric and Saffron, and since our garden is chock-full of beetroot, and I love lentils in soup I decided to give it a go.

Again I was not optimistic about beetroot soup. I’ve eaten beet soup in the past and found it creepy – too sweet, too grass-flavoured.

This time my spider sense was wrong – this soup was really nice. I changed it a little but so little that you should really check out the original recipe here.  To veganise I used vegan stock instead of chicken stock. I couldn’t be bothered with dumplings at lunch so I threw in some little noodles at the last minute, and I left out the beetroot greens, to avoid the grassy flavour. I used dried dill because I didn’t have fresh. and I added some parsley.

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Beetroot and lentil soup

On the same day I made some baklava, Persian style. I used my normal recipe for baklava (which has not measurements, so I wont post it), but used rose water in the syrup, and some cardamon in the nut mix to match it to Iranian recipes I’ve pondered on the net.

the resulting pastry smelled gorgeous, but I missed the lemon tang I’m used to. It also had that slightly odd flavour that rose water gets when it’s been heated too long – my fault, for adding it earlier than I should have. Next time I might add a little rose and a little lemon, and see how that goes. That said, even sub-optimal baklava is pretty fabulous.

The verdict? Beet and lentil soup is going into my stack of recipes for extra garden produce. I’m not making bread ever again, I will buy it like we’re supposed to. Baklava is always good, but zi prefer mine with a teeny bit of tang.

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The first feast

The first Iranian things I tried making were from the dinner selection.

The menu went as follows:

  • bread
  • herb salad
  • pickles
  • kashk-e badenjan
  • chelow
  • khoresht – sour tofu and herbs

I read in Saraban that Iranian meals usually begin with flat bread and a basket of herbs and cheese. These are then followed by pickles, lie or lemon, then the ‘main’ component, either soup or stew and rice.

I actually went and made the bread (which is a BIG DEAL because I have tried and failed at bread many times over), but I bought the pickles. The bread I made was barberi, or breakfast bread – I made sure we had some left for breakfast the next day.

I used the recipe from Saraban and it turned out…okish. It was fluffy, but also had that slightly bland, tough thing going on which my bread always has. I’m doing something very wrong with bread, but I just don’t know what it is. Imma buy it instead.

There are no photos of the bread, but there will be some from breakfast.

The herb salad came mostly from our back yard veggie patch, but our eggplants are still pretty weedy looking and haven’t fruited yet, so I bought the eggplant too.

Salad, pickles and khask-e badenjan

Salad, pickles and khask-e badenjan

The eggplant side dish was the star of the evening. I have added a veganised version of the Saraban recipe below, because it was so fabulous it really must be shared.

The chelow, which is Iranian rice, is another riff off of the pilaf theme which pervades the cuisines of central asia, southern europe and the middle east, this one with a very crunchy bottom. The crunchy-bottom concept is a concept I came across a few years back when I covered Azerbaijan, but I didn’t have the right tools to replicate it then.

Now, with my hard-anodised pan of non-stick wonder, I was able to turn my attention to an appropriately crunchy-bottomed rice dish.

It turned out beautifully – lovely and golden, crispy and fluffy. Sadly though, the crispiness was actually a little too crispy for Mr and I. I think we prefer our grains with a little give. It was gorgeous though, I’ll give it that.

Khoresht and chelow

Khoresht and chelow

The stew, or khoresht, was from this recipe for sour chicken stew at Turmeric and Saffron. I followed it for the most part, subbing fried tofu for the chicken, and making a much smaller dish over all. I also used lime instead of bitter orange, because I don’t know where I would get a bitter orange in Melbourne.

Frying tofu - looks tastier than it was.

Frying tofu in the wonder-pan – looks tastier than it was.

I enjoyed the stew especially the sour part,  but Mr was not so fussed about it. The tofu didn’t really take in much flavour, and if I made it again i would marinate it a long while before frying it.

 

Eggplant with sour creamy sauce

  • 1 large eggplant
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • dried herbs (the original recipe specifies mint, but I had none so used some dill, tarragon and oregano)
  • 3 Tbs tofutti better than cream cheese
  • 100ml water
  • 2 Tbs vinegar
  1. Peel and slice the eggplant into rounds. Salt and leave to sweat for 20 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
  3. Fry the onion and garlic in some oil until just soft. Set aside, but don’t clean the pan.
  4. Wash and fry the slices, then fry in batches until just coloured on each side in the same pan as used for the onions.
  5. Put all the eggplant, onions and garlic into a baking dish with some pepper and dried herbs and bake for 20-30 minutes. (Mine were 30 minutes, but that was while I waiting for something else to happen, so it might not need this long)
  6. Pull the eggplant out of the oven and mash with a fork. It will be a bit lumpy.
  7. Put the mashed eggplant in a serving dish, with some room left over.
  8. In a small saucepan which the tofutti, water and vinegar and bring to the boil. Return to simmer, stirring constantly until it is a little thicker.
  9. Pour the liquid on top of the eggplant and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

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