Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pumpkin and apricot tangine

The Age newspaper says that we are experiencing a cold snap right now.  We are eating lots of soups and stews that last for a few nights.  One of these is a pumpkin and apricot tangine that I have had bookmarked for far too long.  It was a hearty stew that is perfect for this weather.

Before I tell you about the stew, let me say that it was great to have a weekend without many plans.  It opened us up to impromptu activities.  Firstly my dad rang to say he and my brother would help with making some cat steps that we had be discussing.  Our cat Zinc is getting old (14 years) and sometimes gets up on the fence and seems unsure of getting down.  We hope this might help.  She seems a bit unsure of the steps but hopefully they will be useful next time she finds herself on the fence.  And if not, then I am sure E will appreciate somewhere to put his cuppa.

Today I read chapters of Harry Potter to Sylvia during the day, had a bike ride and took Sylvia's bike for a ride.  It has been a while since she has ridden her bike what with one thing and another.  I hope we might have some bike riding now that we are into the school holidays.  We found that the back tyre was quite flat and took the bike to the petrol station to pump it up.  Now she is all set.

Sylvia is quite keen to bake.  I hope we might do some baking over the holidays.  Our days are already filling up and these days I have to make sure that there is time to just hang out at home.  Unfortunately she is not into making dinner, though she is quite good at putting together a platter of bikkies, hummus and vegies.

She is very fond of dried apricots but not in savoury food.  I quite like dried apricots in savoury dishes.  It was the reason I was initially attracted to this recipe.  The apricots contribute to the flavour rather than appear as sharp sweet fruity nuggets of flavour.

Like many stews, I enjoyed this more the second day, though I made more of an effort with garnishes the first day.  I wasn't sure I got the seasoning exactly right, because the apricots and pumpkin made it so much sweeter after cooking that it wasn't easy to taste until done when it can be harder to adjust.  However the tagine was packed with lots of vegies and lots of flavour that kept us enjoying it across a few nights.

I am sending the tangine to Jac for Meatless Mondays, Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays and Corina for Cook Once Eat Twice

More recipes with dried apricot on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot and cheese balls (gf)
Apricot chutney (gf, v)
Apricot delight (gf, v)
Black bean and apricot chilli non carne (gf, v)
Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
'Morroccan' chickpea barley salad (v)
Overnight sourdough fruit bread (v)  
Tahini, quinoa and apricot toasted muesli (v)

Pumpkin and apricot tangine
Adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff
serves 6-8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
400g / 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g / 14 oz can chickpeas, drained
2-3 large leaves kale, destemmed and chopped
16-20 dried apricots, chopped
1 tbsp honey or other sweetener
2 tbsp harissa
1 tsp salt

To serve:
Couscous 
Flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Shelled hemp seeds (optional)
Fresh parsley, chopped

Fry onion for about 5 minutes over low heat or until translucent.  Add carrot, red capsicum and garlic and fry for another 15 minutes until vegetables are soft.  Stir in spices and pumpkin.  Cover and sweat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about an hour.  (Note that the seasoning should be tasted at the end rather than the start of simmering because the pumpkin and apricot will release sweetness as it cooks.)  Serve on couscous with nuts, seeds and parsley.

On the Stereo:
Sergent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Beatles

Friday, 24 June 2016

My personal vegetarian 100 - the second list

Years ago bloggers were sharing lists of the top 100 foods you must try.  Of course it has a lot of meat so I posted my Personal Vegetarian 100 list in 2008.  It is time to revisit and update the list.  (And why not today when you might just want to take your mind off the Brexit!)

Back in 2008 I thought I had the definitive list of food I had discovered as a new blogger.  Now I know that the food trends and discoveries just keep on coming.  Eight years on I have a list of a further 100 foods that comfort, fascinate and inspire.  It is a mix of popular and quirky with some personalAussie classics thrown in.  Many of these were unknown to me back in 2008 though not all.  As with my previous list, I have bolded those I have tasted and linked to all I can
    1. kale cake
    2. apple rose tarts
    3. nutritional yeast flakes
    4. cuitaloche
    5. fresh truffles
    6. cactus
    7. chickpea chips
    8. vegan cheesecake
    9. foam
    10. fresh chickpeas
    11. kefir
    12. yellow watermelon
    13. aquafaba meringues 
    14. coconut whipped cream
    15. vegan 'pulled pork' jackfruit tacos
    16. orange flower water
    17. warrigal greens 
    18. banana soft serve ice cream
    19. kale chips 
    20. black rice
    21. arepas
    22. watermelon curry
    23. parsnip cake
    24. beetroot powder
    25. macarons
    26. nutella doughnuts
    27. hedgehog
    28. raw brownie
    29. vegan french toast
    30. fresh sourdough bread
    31. scrambled besan
    32. maca
    33. crumbed avocado fries
    34. CLT (Coconut bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich)
    35. liquid smoke
    36. israeli couscous
    37. chocolate with 100% cocoa solids
    38. black bean brownies
    39. cauliflower rice
    40. Japanese curry
    41. zucchini noodles
    42. cauliflower pizza base 
    43. hominy
    44. kombucha
    45. haggis nachos
    46. natto
    47. purple carrots
    48. zaatar pizza
    49. cronut
    50. harissa
    51. roast cabbage
    52. chermoula
    53. french lavender salt
    54. chia seed jam
    55. golden syrup dumplings
    56. poached quinces
    57. cranachan
    58. gooseberry fool
    59. redcurrant jelly
    60. chokito chocolate bar
    61. tamales
    62. buffalo cauliflower
    63. bush tomatoes
    64. no knead bread
    65. oatcakes
    66. gingerbread house
    67. lemonade scones
    68. cheeseymite scrolls
    69. lacuma
    70. ramen burger
    71. chocolate salami
    72. pikelets
    73. gomashio
    74. hemp seeds
    75. potato scones
    76. grilled lettuce
    77. yacon syrup
    78. fresh fenugreek
    79. dried inca berries
    80. black tahini
    81. dried rose petals
    82. edamame
    83. salted caramel sauce
    84. sriracha
    85. forestberry
    86. steel cut oats
    87. poblano chile pepper
    88. beet greens
    89. Chinese five spice powder
    90. treacle tart
    91. tumeric latte
    92. dandelion greens
    93. maple sugar
    94. jerk seasoning
    95. smoked salt
    96. coconut nectar
    97. white balsamic vinegar
    98. raw cheesecake
    99. dried barberries
    100. activated nuts

    Which of these foods do you really love?  Are there foods on the list you want to try?  What would you add to the list?

    Tuesday, 21 June 2016

    Banana anc coconut cake

    Occasionally people ask if I have thought of writing a cookbook.  More often I feel that I am far more suited to blogging than cookbook writing.  Cookbook authors have to make the same recipe over and over with great precision.  It is not the way I cook.  I tinker and tweak recipes.  Take this banana cake.  I have made it twice.  The first time I veered from the recipe on veganbaking.net and the second time I changed it again.

    Manky old bananas like these are the reason that I have so many banana cakes on my blog.  Sometimes I return to old recipes and sometimes I want to try something new.  Many banana cakes ask for 3 bananas.  I was particularly drawn to this vegan banana cake because it only needed 2 bananas.  Which was all I had.

    The first time I made the banana cake was just before I picked up Sylvia from school.  We met a friend of hers.  When her little sister told me it was her birthday I was pleased to be able to offer her a tub of sliced cake.

    The second time I made the cake I was in a rush to leave the house and took it out without even testing it.  The cake was slightly soft in the middle after 40 minutes in my slow oven but it tasted lovely.  I love cakes warm from the oven but the texture of this one is better after cooling.  Sylvia and E were very pleased to get home and find fresh cake waiting for them.

    This is a lovely soft cake with a slight texture from the coconut.  Enough texture to make me happy but not enough to alienate kids who do not like bits.  It is vegan and low in oil.  I am looking forward to making it again.

    More banana cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Banana and yoghurt cake
    Banana cake with maple syrup (v)
    Choc caramel banana cake
    Healthy banana bread
    Mum’s banana cake

    More banana cakes online:
    Banana skin cake - Not Quite Nigella
    Chocolate chip banana cake (v) - Chef Chloe
    Gluten free banana bread - The Healthy Chef
    Jamie Oliver Figgy banana bread - The Quirk and The Cool
    Karen Martini's sisterly banana bread - The Age 

    Coconut and banana cake
    Adapted from veganbaking.net

    1/2 cup soy milk (or sub 2 tbsp aquafaba)
    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

    3/4 cup banana purée (about 2 bananas)
    1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    pinch cinnamon

    1 1/4 cups plain flour (I used half white, half wholemeal)
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (ie baking soda)

    1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)

    Mix milk and vinegar or lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.  Mix banana, sugar,  oil, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  By now the milk mixture should be slightly curdled and can be mixed in.  Add flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda.  Stir until combined and then briefly stir in coconut if using.  Scrape into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin.  Bake at 180 C until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (25 to 40 minutes depending on your oven.)

    On the Stereo:
    The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses

    Sunday, 19 June 2016

    Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato and Mushrooms

    The solstice is upon us and winter has well and truly set in.  What better way to keep warm than with a bowl of split pea soup.  It is one of my favourite winter comforts.  I was glad of it this cold weekend.

    It has been an odd year for us.  We had a warm summer followed by a plunge into the chilly climate that is the Scottish Spring and then back to a very mild autumn in Melbourne.  Cruelly the temperature did not drop significantly until the last week or two of autumn.  When we were faced with cold temperatures, wind and rain.  In fact last weekend I was so cold at my parents house that in the middle of the night I had to turn on the electric blanket.

    Here in our home we have taken out a large warm blanket we often put on the bed in winter.  Ever since my nose has been running like a tap and I assume it must be the dust in the blanket.  Tonight it is hanging inside after a spin in the washing machine and a day out on the line.  I hope this will deal with my dust allergy.  (Though I always think this a very odd allergy given that surely everyone reacts to dust!)

    I made the soup on Thursday when seeking some inspiration for dinner.  Usually I make split pea soup with onion, carrots, celery and potato and at the end I blend it to be smooth.  I always thought split pea soup was smooth, despite my mum adding chunks of ham to it when I was a kid.  When looking at split pea soup recipes online I noticed that many people didn't blend theirs.

    So I set about making a split pea soup with more vegies than usual - sweet potato, courgette and mushrooms.  It meant that I could use up lots of vegies from the bottom of the fridge, something I don't usually do with split pea soup.  And it was brilliant.  At first I thought I had used too much water.  Within hours it had thickened and by the next day it was even thicker.  (See photos in collage above.)   Most of the vegies and split peas broke down a lot but I liked the slight texture of the mushrooms.  And it still had the great comfort of split pea soup.  The soup is great with bread, with some leftover rice stirred through it or just as is.

    This weekend has been quite a split pea soup weekend.  We had planned to go to Fitzroy Market and then to an outdoor Winter Solstice celebration.  But we were snuffly and it was wet and cold outside.  So we bunkered down with a bowl of split pea soup.  Today I baked bread and made lemonade with lemons from our tree.  Sylvia asked me to make recipes from her cookbook so we made her choice of cheese twists and chocolate cupcakes.

    The chocolate cupcakes were a lesson in making do for Sylvia.  She was great at following the recipe for the cheese straws but I think finding that I kept veering off course from the cupcake recipe was a bit unsettling.  I said we could make them but we didn't have any butter or margarine left so I used oil.  Then I used some old milk chocolate chips that seemed hardy enough to withstand a nuclear explosion and would not melt.  I reduced the sugar from 400g to 250g and upped the flour from 250g to 350g, and then added some cocoa and wheatgerm. 

    I think the cupcakes have worked but am still not 100% sure.  I love the feeling of having plenty of bread and cake to face lunches for the start of the week ahead.  If only we had not finished the split pea soup it would have made Monday's dinner a cinch as well.

    I am sending this soup to Lisa for My Legume Love Affair and Kimmy and Mary for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

    More split pea recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Potage St Germain (split pea and green pea soup) (gf, v)
    Shitake and star anise split pea soup (gf, v)
    Smoky lime split peas (gf, v)
    Split Pea and Lentil Soup (v)
    Split Pea Soup (gf, v)

    Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato and MushroomsAn original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe
    Serves 6

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp mustard seeds
    1 onions, chopped
    4 stalks of celery, chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    180g (3 good handfuls) mushrooms, chopped
    1 medium potato, diced
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 tsp smoked paprika
    8 cups water
    1 1/2 cups green split peas
    1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
    1 large zucchini, diced
    3 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp ground white pepper
    Bouquet garni (ie 2 bay leaves, 2 twigs tyhme, 2 twigs rosemary, few stalks of parsley tied together with string)

    Heat the oil over medium low heat and scatter mustard seeds in it.  Leave a few minutes until they start to pop.  Add in onions, celery and carrot and fry for about 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms and fry another 5 minutes.  Add sweet potato and fry another 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and smoked paprika.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 1 hour.  (Note that it will be a bit on the salty side because once the vegies cook they sweeten it.)  I think I could have done about 10 minutes less but wanted to make sure it was all nice and soft.  When the heat is turned off remove bouquet garni.  It will initially look like a thin soup but will gradually thicken up.

    On the Stereo:
    Reading, Writing and Arithmetic: The Sundays

    Saturday, 18 June 2016

    Tea Towels IV

    As I have mentioned before, my late mother-in-law was an enthusiastic collector of tea towels.  She bought us plenty.  We bought her plenty.  And every tea towel purchase reminds me of her.  When we visited Edinburgh and Paris in March we bought a few souvenir tea towels but most of the ones we brought home were from E's mothers collection.  So present you with a fourth installment in our tea towel collection.  Including a New Zealand tea towel my friend Kerin brought for us.

     Bryon

     Comrie

     San Franscisco

     Bronte Country

     Edinburgh Dungeon

     Charles Rennie Mackintosh

     The Isle of Arran

     Paris buildings

     Another Paris tea towel

    New Zealand

    To see more, go to my first, second and third post on my tea towels.

    Friday, 17 June 2016

    Portuguese fried rice, National Celtic Festival and quicklinks

    It has been a short week because we just had the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend.  We had some time in Geelong with my parents, spent a day at the National Celtic Festival in Portarlington, had a couple of Sylvia's friends over and then finished the weekend with Portuguese Fried Rice.

    We had lovely pizza at my mum's on Saturday night but the great excitment was having Scottish food  at the National Celtic Festival.  This is our third year visiting the Festival (check out my 2014 and 2015 festival posts).  This is one of the few opportunities while eating out in Australia that we find haggis, tattie scones and irn bru.

    The above kilted van pleased me with its vegetarian hot dogs.  (Mind you they cost $8 - twice as much as the regular ones.)  At least I was able to get something for Sylvia that wasn't just chips.  I complimented one of the staff.  Then I suggested vegetarian haggis and he said it was a contradiction!  Strange how there was no problem with vegetarian hot dogs! 

    We had a great time at the festival.  Each year I promise myself next year I will buy a ticket rather than just going to the stalls and the free acts on the Village Green Stage.  Realistically we are only there a few hours and I am not sure it is value for money to buy a day ticket nor is there enough time just for the free stuff.

    We love all the craft stalls, the Irish dancing, the Scottish dancing, the fencing, the food stalls.  E was delighted to have a really good haggis burger.  Sylvia and I helped him eat some tattie scones.  I had a cheese and onion pastie which was bigger than I expected so that when I got to Jerry's Vegie Burgers, I wasn't that hungry.  I bought a burger because I loved them so much last year but my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

    We were pretty tired when we got home on Sunday night.  Then on Monday Sylvia had some friends around so I made sourdough flatbreads for lunch.  It was lovely to have some quiet in the house when she then went to the park with her friends and their parents.  By then, I wanted something simple for dinner.

    I'd had my eye on the Portuguese Fried Rice on Not Quite Nigella and decided it was just the way to enjoy a vegetarian pepperoni sausage I bought in Scotland.  I also had discovered an open jar of olives at the back of the fridge and wanted to make omelette with some silken tofu that needed using.  (NB I only had half a tub of silken tofu so I halved the omelette I usually make.)  Having leftover rice clinched it.  E and I loved the rice, though I found it quite strongly flavoured.  It was a nice alternative to our regular fried rice with lots of lovely add-ins and it lasted for a couple more meals.

    The long weekend meant more time for reading so I am sharing a few quicklinks:

    I am sending this Portuguese fried rice to Kimmy and Mary for Healthy Vegan Fridays, to Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays and to Jac for Meatfree Mondays.

    More rice dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
    Italian rice and beans (gf, v)
    Mexican rice (gf, v)
    Paella with brown rice (gf, v)
    Tahini lime rice with kale and cashews (gf, v)
    Veggie crumble 
    Zucchini flowers with rice (gf, v) 

    Portuguese Fried Rice
    Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
    serves 4-6

    Vegan omelette (see below), diced
    Oil for frying
    1 onion, peeled and diced
    1 carrot, diced
    handful cashews
    50g vegetarian pepperoni sausages, sliced thinly*
    4-5 cups day old cooked rice
    4 tablespoons tomato paste
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    good pinch white pepper
    1/2 cup pitted black olives
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 cup peas

    Fry the onion, carrot and cashews on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until soft and the cashews brown a little.  Add in the veg pepperoni and cook about a minute.  Turn the heat to medium high .  Now add the rice, tomato paste, salt, sesame oil, pepper, olives and paprika.  Stir until mixed and heated through.  Add the cup of peas and cook until they are warm.

    NOTES: to make this meal vegan check if your veg pepperoni sausage is vegan - I had thought this one was vegan but upon checking I found it had egg in it.

    Omelette
    adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

    150g silken tofu, drained
    3 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour),
    1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 tablespoon mirin
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon turmeric
    1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/8 teaspoon onion granules
    pinch black salt
    1 tsp oil, for frying

    Mix everything together (I usually use a blender but I just did it briskly by hand and I think it was fine).  Heat a heavy bottom frypan over low heat and swirl the teaspoon of oil about it.  Scrape all the mixture into it and spread about with the back of a spoon.  Fry for 10 minutes.  Then cover (I use a large saucepan lid) and fry for another 10 minutes.  Use an eggflip or spatular to push around under it to check it is not sticking to the pan.  The flip onto a large dinner plate.

    On the stereo:
    Garbage: Garbage

    Tuesday, 14 June 2016

    Apple pie

    A while back I bought a new cookbook.  Sylvia browsed through it and marked the recipes she wanted me to make.  They were all sweet.  She is far more adventurous with sweet recipes than savoury.  When she turned 2 years old, a friend gave her a cookbook for kids.  Sylvia loves reading it and has marked lots of recipes to make.  Including an apple pie.  I recently promised Sylvia to make it while she was at school last week.

    But let me backtrack.  Apple pie is often associated with American.  You know how people say as American as apple pie.  Yet I think it is very popular across the Anglicised world.  When I was little my mum made apple pie regularly.  She still has the enamel dish that she used to make pies in.  So for me, apple pie reminds me of childhood dinners finished by my mum cutting slabs of pie from this dish and pouring cream over everyone's slice except me.  I still don't like cream on my apple pie.

    I don't make pies often so I am still a bit unsure of myself when it comes to a) getting the apples cooked until soft but holding their shape, b) knowing how thinly to roll out the pastry and c) finding the right dish.  I didn't have a 20cm dish but the 18cm seemed fine for the amount of apples I had, even if it meant I had a little pastry leftover. However by the time it came out of the oven I was pleased with it and couldn't wait to eat it.

    I picked up Sylvia and her friend and asked them to guess what I baked.  "Apple pie", they said in unison.  I think there had been some discussion about it at school.  They were pretty excited so I let them have a piece after school.  By the end of the evening it was gone and we were very content with our lot.

    I am sending this post to Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations for her Cookbook Wednesdays.  (Also check out her Cookbook Wednesday post to find out about her virtual Picnic Game that she is planning to start this weekend.  It is great fun.)

    More pastry desserts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Apple and pumpkin pastries with spiced red wine (v)
    Apple rose tarts (v)
    Apricot and almond tart
    Plum almond tart
    Treacle tart (v)

    More pastry desserts from elsewhere online:
    Caramel apple smoked gouda galette - Eats Well with Others
    Golden quince almond tart - Allotment 2 Kitchen
    Raspberry meringue pie with lime and pistachio pastry (gf) - Gluten Free Alchemist
    Salted caramel chocolate tart (v) - Baking Ginger
    Strawberry pistachio galette - Last Ingredient
    Strawberry tarte tartin - Not Quite Nigella

    Apple pie
    Adapted from Baking for Kids: yummy sweet and savoury recipes for you to make and bake

    Pastry:
    1 cup plain white flour
    2/3 cups plain wholemeal flour
    3 tbsp castor sugar
    150g butter
    1 egg

    Apple filling:
    650g granny smith apples (about 4 medium large)*
    1 tbsp butter
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1/3 cup brown sugar*
    pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon

    Rub butter into flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix in egg and briefly knead to make a smooth soft dough.  (I did the rubbing in and mixing in by hand but it is quicker and cleaner in a food processor.)  Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile make apple filling.  Peel, core and chop apples.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in chopped apples and cover.  Cook on low heat until apples are soft - this can happens quickly (5-15 minutes) so they need to be checked regularly.  Once cooked stir in sugar and spices.  Set aside to cool.

    Preheat the oven and grease pie tin before taking out the pastry to line the tin.  Roll out pastry to almost 0.5cm thick using quite a bit of flour to dust the surface and pastry (mine was quite sticky).  When pastry is rolled thinly I floured it and looped it over the rolling pin to transfer to a greased 18cm round pie dish.  Pat down to line pie dish.  Prick the base with a fork.  Spoon in apple.  Roll out remaining pastry to cover the apple, trim if required and pinch the edges together with your fingers.  Decorate with pastry offcuts if desired.

    Bake pie at 190 C (or 200 C for slow ovens like mine) for about 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Serve hot.

    NOTES: I have reproduced this recipe as I made it.  The original recipe said to use a 20cm pie dish but I didn't have one.  There wasn't that much apple even for a smaller dish than intended.  I think that next time I would double the apples but could possibly use a bit less sugar.  I would try and use a 20cm pie dish rather than the smaller one.

    On the Stereo:
    The best of the Andrews Sisters