Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sayonara Vegan MoFo 2014

So after a long month of Vegan MoFo, we find ourselves saying Sayonara, So Long, Stay in Touch!  It has been a blast but exhausting.  For the final day of Vegan MoFo, I bring you some reflections on the month, some collages of my Vegan MoFo photos, and some random photos of recent food.

The final day of Vegan MoFo means all sorts of dishes I never got to share
 such as this delicious bowl of stew, roasted pumpkin and cauliflower,
raw spinach and sprouts, and leftover Mexican tofu crema.

I have had fun with my nominal theme: The Letter S. It has given me a challenge and a focus. I have made soup, salad, sushi, scramble, sauce, smoothie and sweets*. Dishes have been sweet, sticky, smoky, stuffed, spicy, speedy, savoury, surprising and scrumptious. Ingredients have included spinach, strawberry, sourdough starter, sauerkraut, smoked paprika, salsa, sprouts, squash, sweet potato and sesame seeds.

I had lots of ideas for posts that I never had time for.   However I do find that Vegan MoFo inspires me to try innovative recipes and experiment with vegan cooking.  I love seeing all the other crazy ideas and hope to be trying some of the great recipes I have encountered.

The breakfast roll at True North in Coburg.
Very impressive that a roll of eggs, bacon and bubble and squeak
 can be veganised.  And tasty too!

This year I was possibly the most organised of my 4 years of doing Vegan MoFo.  It was probably my busiest Vegan MoFo too.  I spent too much of it whinging about my stolen car.  As I write we are getting close to buying a new car, god willing!  I am much fitter for riding my bike more but still disorganised and most displeased.

This month also kept me busy because unusually for me, I was away at least one night every weekend.  School holidays and out of town trips have really limited my time and energy for MoFo.  Even this post is scheduled in advance because we headed off on holiday for the last few days of the month.  There is no way I would have posted so much if I hadn't written most of about half the posts before the start of September.

Perhaps the craziness of life gives me a good excuse for feeling that my Vegan MoFo posts list was not quite right this year.  Usually I list posts in order of the day of posting.  This year I had a silly idea to give each day of the week a theme and list posts in that way.  I don't think it quite worked as there was too much overlap and not enough discipline on sticking to the daily themes.  I may reorder the page if I find time.

One of my favourite vegan biscuits (or cookies):
Chocolate Tahini Cookies made with
oodles of tahini, maple syrup and choc chips.
I was delighted to be featured during Vegan MoFo, as well as all the lovely bloggers who gave me a shout out in their posts:
  • Featured in Day 2 and Day 18 round up on the veganmofo blog.
  • Mentioned on the PPK Forum (Thanks Rosie's vegan kitchen for telling PPK that there are "so many pretty photos" on my blog.  How sweet of her - just don't look at the old posts!)

As always with Vegan MoFo, many thanks are due.  Firstly to E who puts up with it keeping me so busy and washes so many dishes.  (When I told him I was doing Vegan MoFo again, he joked it must be in spite of his many letters requesting they cancel it this year!)  Secondly thanks to all the lovely folk who organise Vegan MoFo.  It is such a huge and fantastic effort.

And last but not least, thank you to everyone who shared, read my posts and made comments.  I really love the flurry of community spirit during Vegan MoFo and the welcome extended to me as a vegetarian.  I wish I could have spent more time on random mofo, visiting mofo bloggers and commenting but that is the nature of Vegan MoFo.  Too much good food and too little time.  Yet I have loved being part of the craziness. 

I will be back next month with more about my holidays, my new blender and many more recipes.  I am looking forward to blogging at a more leisurely pace.

*Sweets is what we called dessert when I was a kid.  I am not sure how many others used that term but we often would ask my mum "what's for sweets?" 

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sayonara.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble

A week or so before these school holidays arrived, Sylvia had a curriculum day.  We didn't need to get up early and get her to school but there were other appointments.  I had seen Emma's recent chickpea scramble and was inspired.  After all there was all the chickpea flour I had recently bought.
Suddenly I looked at the clock and the hands were wooshing around a bit too fast for my liking.  We had to be at the doctor very soon.  I chopped up the vegies, mixed up the chickpea omelette and had it all in a scramble in minutes.  Sandwiched it in a bun and chomped through it quickly.  It was very satisfying.  For more so than racing to the doctor only to have to wait for 30 minutes.

It was far better than tofu scramble which can be watery and floppy.  The soft chunks are such great comfort food.  I never liked eggs and am not even sure how to scramble one but somehow I still like it with that smelly black salt that is there to give an eggy taste.

In fact I liked it so much that I made it for a quick lunch for E shortly afterwards.  He loved it, perhaps not as much as me.  E had his over an English muffin with chilli sauce, but I ate mine with some crackers and beetroot dip.  Such a great healthy quick meal.

More savoury brunch ideas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
My breakfast burritos
Pea and sun-dried tomato porridge
Potato, sausage and tomato brunch 
Potato scones
Sausage patties  
Tofu scramble

Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble
Coconut and Berries and Ricki Heller
serves 1-2

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1-1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup soy milk or water
1/8 tsp dried mustard
1 tbsp tahini
Large pinch of black salt (or regular salt)
1 tsp olive oil
1 handful spinach, chopped
2 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp snipped chives, chopped with scissors
Black pepper

Mix chickpea flour, nutritional yeast flakes, milk, mustard, tahini and salt.  It should be a thick mixture that you could just about pour.  (The second time mine was really thick and I added an extra splash of milk to loosen it.)

Heat oil in the frypan over medium heat.  Pour chickpea mixture in and cook a minute or two like an omelette until it starts to dry out.  Break up into chunks with a spoon (don't worry if there is a little golden brown colour on the chunks.)  Add the vegies and cook briefly until spinach is wilted.  Serve hot.

On the Stereo:
Metals: Feist

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Mondays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Splendid Vegan MoFo Quicklinks 2014

Vegan MoFo is about community, visiting blogs, meeting new people and discovering new recipes.  Here are some posts that made me think, wow I so want to make that!  And a few themes that I loved.  As my theme this year is The Letter S, you might notice that every category starts with S.

Savoury fruit recipes 

Starters and snacks

Substitutions such as vegan cheeses

Soups and stews

Substantial dinners

Sweet and indulgent

Sweet and surprising

Fun Vegan MoFo themes in 2014:

Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks (great quirky recipes) - Hasta La Vegan

Music for Your Mouth (brilliant marriage of band names and recipes) - Little Vegan Bear

Will My Kids Eat It (hilarious kids' commentary) - Veganopoulous

Magical Meals of Harry Potter - The Miss Kitchen Witch Recipe Blog

Soup with bread - Stairway to Vegan

Cooking from the Swabian Region of Germany - Life by Six Mile Creek

Completely Board (finally cooking from Pinterest Pins) - Veg-Am

Apologies to those whose gems I have missed.  There are so many great posts and themes for Vegan MoFo, it is an effort to keep up!

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sayonara Sunday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Smoky Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base

When I was younger and learning to cook I wished to be the type of cook who regularly made pizzas as one of my stress-free meals.  I am happy to say I have arrived.  Pizza is regularly on the menu in our house, often on a weekend when we have tea on the knee in front of the telly.

Now that I have a starter, it felt only right that I find a reliable sourdough pizza base recipe.  Previously I have made a pizza base that uses sourdough and commercial yeast.  I still make my fast track pizza base occasionally.  Yet I bake with my sourdough starter so regularly that I wanted a base using just my starter for days when I have time.  I have made this one a few time.  My notes are fairly scrappy from the first few tries but this one worked a treat so I am recording it here.

Ideally I would have taken the starter out of the fridge a few hours before mixing up the dough to give it time to come to room temperature.  I could feel how cold it was while kneading.  I made this dough on a day in winter when the house just refused to warm up.  In summer I suspect it would rise a lot faster.

However, pizza is so good on a cold day.  The day before I made this pizza, it was one of those typical Melbourne days that we call "four seasons in one day".  It was a lovely balmy winter day of 19.5 C until we had a drop of 10 degrees in an hour.  I suspect I was feeling the cold on the day I made it because of the sudden change.

I have dreamed of making a good tex mex pizza for some time.  In this one, much past experience came together.  My experience of making rapid refried beans, pizza sauce and Mexican crema helped, as did my recent discovery of poblano chillis.  It was the poblano chillis that really gave me the inspiration I needed.  I am in love with their mild flavour.  While normally I don't use much in the way of chilli I wanted to have rings of these chillis featured.  So pretty.

I decided that a thick bean base might help to keep together the toppings.  One of my major issues with vegan pizza has been that everything falls off in my lap without the cheesy glue to hold everything together.  This one worked so brilliantly that it was only after dinner that I realised nothing had fallen off.  I credit this to the brilliant meltiness of bio cheese.  The paste at the bottom and the sauce on top no doubt helped too.  The only other change I would make to the topping would be to add some crumbled corn chips like one of my old time favourite pizzas.

And the sourdough pizza base?  Oh yes it was brilliant.  I have been making my fast track pizzas a bit thin of late so a thick bready base was such delicious comfort food.  In every respect it was a great pizza - great base, hearty satisfying fillings, and pretty to look at.  You can't ask much more than that.

More vegan pizzas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 3-4

Pizza crust: (enough for 2 large pizzas)
300g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
350g white plain flour
200g water
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sweetener
1 heaped tsp sea salt flakes
extra flour and oil for kneading
polenta, for trays

Tex mex topping (enough for 1 large pizza):
2 dessertspoonfuls of pizza sauce* or tomato paste
2 tbsp chipotle sauce or hot sauce
400g tin kidney beans, mashed with fork
2 tbsp tomato paste
75g grated bio cheese
Poblano chillis and red capsicum, sliced
Mexican crema
mashed avocado or guacamole

Mix all ingredients and knead for 20 minutes.  Ideally you will reach the stage where you can stretch the dough thin enough to have it transparent (window pane stage).  Knead on a floured surface if sticky and once it comes together and not too sticky (about 7 minutes for me) rub a little oil on surface from time to time to keep dough from sticking to surface.

Wash and oil the mixing bowl and turn the dough around so it is evenly covered in oil.  Cover with teatowel or clingwrap.  Leave to rise for about 5 hours or until doubled in size.  (Mine rose a lot - I am never good at measuring doubled in size.  It was a cold day - on a warm day it would rise more quickly.)

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Cut the dough in half.  Stretch out each half into a circle on a lightly floured surface.  Scatter large pizza tray with polenta.  Carefully life up circle of dough and pat onto tray.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Top one pizza base with tex mex topping (below) and other as desired.

Tex mex topping: Mix pizza sauce, chipotle sauce, kidney beans and tomato paste into a thick paste.  Spread over pizza base.  Scatter with grated bio cheese.  Top with slices of poblano chillis and red capsicum. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  (After 25 minutes mine was quite brown around the edges.)  Remove from oven and use a spatula/eggflip to loosen pizza around the edges.  Transfer to wire rack until ready to slice up.  Top with avocado and Mexican crema just before serving.  It is best fresh but can be reheated the following day.

* I make my own pizza sauce like this one.  It is a mixture of tomato paste, baked beans and seasoning.

On the Stereo:
Way to Blue - Nick Drake

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sticky cranberry and orange glazed tofu

I had to throw out a jar of cranberry sauce a couple of months ago.  It had sat there since Christmas.  When I bought another jar for our Christmas in July, I was determined not to let this one linger quite so long.  Hence my interest in a recipe for a Leftover Cranberry Soy Sauce Tofu.

I misread the recipe and put in apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider.  Oops!  No wonder it was quite sour tasting.  I added some orange juice from some manky old oranges.  That seemed to fix it.

The first night I served it with rice and steamed broccoli.  It was good but I had fried the tofu too much and there wasn't enough sauce.  The second night, with a bit more time for sides, I made a carrot salad (like this) and fried the tofu so that there was plenty of sauce.  It didn't look as good under the blanket of sauce but tasted so much better.

I am sending this tofu to Healthy Vegan Fridays #14, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.  Meanwhile I am off on holiday but have scheduled my last few Vegan MoFo posts to round off the month.

More tofu recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sticky cranberry and orange glazed tofu
Adapted from Healthy Happy Life
Serves 4

500g firm tofu
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
juice of 2 oranges
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp olive oil, for frying

Press tofu (I did this for an hour but more would be better.)  Cut into 0.5cm slices.  Mix remaining ingredients in a shallow dish.  Marinate tofu in this mixture for about 1 day (I did this for about 6 hours.).  When ready to fry, heat oil over medium heat in a large frypan.  Lay tofu slabs side by side (I had to do it in two batches to fit into my frypan that is about 22-23cm in diameter.)  Spoon a little marinade over it.  Fry tofu until well browned on each side.  Pour in remaining marinade and cook until the marinade has reduced to a thick sauce.  Serve tofu with marinade sauce.

On the stereo:
Blonde on Blonde: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vegan macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese

A while back I was at my parents' place, chatting to my brother who is a lover of carnivorous carbs.  I told him I had made a macaroni cheese.  He looked at me as though the food I eat was finally something he understood.  Then I ruined the bonding moment by adding that my macaroni cheese had sauerkraut, cauliflower and vegan blue cheese.  He told me he would never ever eat at my place.

So yes, this pasta dish is not one to impress your friends who are dubious about your vegan lifestyle.  Save it for the adventurers in your life. Or just make it on a night like I did when I had scraps of vegan cheese to use and was determined to finish the bottle of verjuice that had taken up valuable kitchen real estate for too long.  Actually I didn't have enough sauerkraut so verjuice seemed close enough for jazz.  The cheeses are not essential but this is a good way to use up those heels of cheese that kick around aimlessly.

I made this pasta bake on a day when E's train was cancelled and Sylvia got her Frozen DVD and CD.  The gas flame went out while cooking, Elsa was singing 'Let It Go' on the tv and I got so flustered while cooking that I didn't take notes on timing as I often do.

The mac and cheese tided us across a weekend when I went to the farmers market, only to find I had the wrong date, and then headed off to Ikea and had a dilemma about how to wrap a wardrobe that was from the As Is section, because Ikea does not insure home delivery of off the floor furniture.  I was given three different pieces of advice about how to wrap it.  I stressed over what to do.  The wardrobe arrived in one piece anyway!

The pasta bake had been on my to do list for a while.  It had been one of the inspirations for this vegan cheese.  The sauce had a sharp flavour rather than that mild creamy taste I expect of a cheese sauce.  I asked E what he thought and was told he had added so much Tabasco he couldn't say.  Though I had intended to bake it, on the first night it was quicker to eat it as a stovetop mac and cheese.  I then baked a lasagna dish full of the leftovers.  It made a lot.  Which was fine because it improved over the next day or two.

More vegan pasta bakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Fennel and lentil lasagne
Nut roast lasagna
Pea lasagne (with tofu sour cream)
Pumpkin sage pasta bake
Pumpkin and tofu ricotta cannelloni
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne 
Vegetarian enchilada pasta bake

Vegan macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
Serves 6-8

450g small pasta like shells, macaroni or chiocciole
1 small cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
4 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tsp vegetable stock powder, divided
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup sauerkraut, drained if necessary
1 cup verjuice (or more sauerkraut)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Several dashes fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tsp mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all purpose flour, or more
100g Vegusto blue cheese
50g Notzarella vegan cheese
seeds to sprinkle

Cook pasta and cauliflower in salted water for about 7 minutes or according to packet instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Blend (drained) cashews with 1 cup of water and 1 tsp stock powder until as creamy as your blender or food processor will do.  (Isa of Post Punk Kitchen soaks her cashews because her machinery is fairly basic.  Mine too.  My cashews were a grainy sort of creamy.)  Add another cup of water.

Fry onion in 1 tbsp of oil until soft.  Stir in garlic and sauerkraut for a minute or two.  Tip mixture into the cashew cream in the food processor or blender.  Blend.  Add in verjuice, turmeric, pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, mustard, salt and lemon juice.

In an extra large frypan, fry remaining 2 tbsp oil and the flour until golden brown.  (I added a bit more flour so it was quite thick and was glad I did,)  Gradually add in remaining 2 cups of water plus 1 tsp stock powder, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps forming.  Bring to the boil, stirring frequently until it thickens.  Now stir in cashew mixture and blue cheese.  Heat until it has thickened and is bubbling at the corners.  Turn off the heat and stir in pasta and cauliflower.

At this point you can just eat the pasta with sauce or spoon it into a greased lasagne tin and bake for 25 minutes at 200 C or until the top is golden brown.

On the stereo:
Frozen soundtrack

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Simple salad with sprouts

On a bad day, lunch is a peanut butter sandwich.  Sometimes I am quite proud of my lunch.  This salad started with a craving for bean sprouts.  It was just what I wanted.  Leafy, colourful, crunchy, juicy, sharp and sweet.  It is a bit like the crunchy salads that I posted about years ago.  I still make those sort of salads occasionally and this is one of them.

I am sending this salad to Deb for Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.

More simple vegan salads from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot with lime and mint 
Carrot, walnut and cranberry salad 
Cranberry and mustard coleslaw
Japanese snow pea salad
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad
Warm pea and lentil salad

Simple Salad with Sprouts
Serves 1 for a light lunch

handful rocket (arugula)
handful sprouted legumes (mine was a mix of legumes)
1/8 each red and yellow capsicum, sliced
1 mushroom, sliced
3 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 small spring onion, sliced
3 tsp cider vinegar
1 good tsp coconut nectar
1 tsp olive oil
1 scant tsp seeded mustard
generous pinch salt

Lightly whisk together dressing and toss through with salad ingredients.

On the Stereo:
Don't Try This at Home: Billy Bragg

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.