Thursday, 19 January 2017

Black Tahini Baba Ganouj

Dips are definitely a comfort food - but depending on what kind they can definitely be good for you too in moderation! One of my favourites is baba ganouj, I could eat a bucket of it. Tahini - an important ingredient in baba ganouj is  a great source of protein, calcium, B1, and fibre, as well as many other minerals such as copper and magnesium. You don't have to use black tahini, however use unhulled tahini if you can - it contains a much higher amount of the vitamins and minerals you are after!

1 large eggplant
2 Tablespooons black tahini
2 tablespoons unhulled tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 large lemon (approx 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (extra for garnish)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch salt
1 /2 cup chopped parsley (extra for garnish)
EVOO for drizzling

1.Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the eggplant, whole, on a baking tray and bake for 20 -30 minutes, until soft.
2.To get the smoky flavour you can either use a BBQ hotplate to finish it off, or if you have a gas stove using tongs turn the eggplant over the flame frequently until the skin blackens. Allow to cool.
3.Cut the eggplant inot large chunks, and place into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until smooth and well combined.
4. Put into a bowl or jar, sprinkle some extra paprika and parsley over the top, and drizzle with a little oil.

Serve with some good bread or crackers, on its own or part of a platter!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Comfort Food: Pulled Mushroom Burger with Wasabi Cashew Sauce

It has been quite a while since I have done a post. If you don't want the boring details skip to the recipe. It's great, I promise! I'll be doing a series on comfort foods over the next few weeks, and not all of them are the "give me something deep fat fried and smothered in chocolate" variety although those do have their place occasionally. I'm talking about comfort foods that nourish the body as well as the spirit. If you're in Australia remember that ad for Uncle Toby's oats where the kid tucks into a bowl of warm porridge and eating it is "like having a hug"? That's what I mean. Food that gives your body a hug.

To put this into perspective, life has been extraordinarily busy and somehow I lost time to do things for myself. I do a lot of volunteer work which is quite demanding, and this coupled with a Series  of Unfortunate Events  has left me a frazzled burnt out human. Word of warning here folks: self care is not optional. How can we take care of others if we don't take care of ourselves? No matter how demanding the world is, if you don't take time for yourself and recharge, you won't be a help to anyone! You know when you hop on a plane and the flight attendant gives you the instructions for emergencies? The first thing you do is put your oxygen mask on before you assist anyone else. That's what I need to do, and right now that oxygen mask is taking time to do the things I love.

So, about this burger....

Oyster mushrooms when cooked take on a silky texture like slow cooked pulled meat. It's been a very long time since I had meat, but I think it's a fair approximation. Cooked with ginger, garlic, and coriander root it sucks up the flavours to make a great vego version of Vietnamese banh mi thit. With a crunchy slaw it's a pretty healthy looking roll. Admittedly wasabi isn't Vietnamese but with cashews it makes a very tangy dressing. The Beloved really liked them and wants them again, so give them a bash and enjoy!

Makes 6 rolls

Tip: Make everything ahead but slicing up the apple, cover and store in the fridge to make up a snappy dinner or lunch!

6 crusty rolls

For the Filling:
300g oyster mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 thumb piece ginger
5cm piece of lemongrass
1 bunch of coriander (including root and stem)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 sliced Lebanese cucumber
1 shredded apple
1/2 cup sliced spring onions (I'm talking about the long thin variety which some people call shallots).
rice wine vinegar
vegetable oil

For the Dressing:
125g raw cashews
2 tsp veg stock powder (I used massel)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 tube wasabi (used in increments to get the desired heat)


1. Put the cashews, veg stock, and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it has reached a boil turn down and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

2. While the cashews are cooking, cut off the leafy part of the coriander and set aside. Finely chop the roots and stems and put into a small bowl. Crush the garlic,  zest the lemongrass and ginger, and add to coriander stem with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to make a paste.

3.In a deep frypan or wok fry the spice paste on low heat until fragrant. Add the spring onions, and then add the oyster mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes more.

4. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan  and put the lid on, turning the heat down to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

5. Remove the lid from the mushroom mixture and keep cooking until all the liquid has evaporated (if it hasn't already). Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

6. Shred the cabbage, carrot, chop the coriander leaves roughly and toss together ina bowl with a little rice wine vinegar. Shred apple and slice the cucumber and put into a bowl and toss two tablespoons rice wine vinegar over it, set aside.

7. Blitz the cashews with the stock in a blender until thick and smooth (You can use a stick blender but it will take longer). If it is too thick just add a little more water. Blend the wasabi a little at a time until you reach the "heat" you're after. I put a whole 45g tube in, but you might not want that much!

8. Shred the cooked mushrooms with two forks to pull them apart, it will look a lot like shredded meat.

9. Cut your buns in half and spread a thin layer of margarine if desired. Put a layer of slaw, and then a a couple of spoons of the mushroom, topping with a generous dollop of wasabi cashew sauce. Serve on its own or with chips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Vegan MoFo: Crying Onion Tart

Well, I got lost a bit the last week as we took a much needed short break without the foster hounds, and arranging everything for a just a few days off seemed to be a titanic task.  My planned post for today is somewhat interrupted by the Aussie politics of the last 24 hours. How could I possibly resist a bon voyage post to outgoing PM Tony Abbott when two years ago I posted about his election?

So I spent the afternoon in tears. Not because I'm unhappy about Tony being given the flick by his own party, but because I spent some of it slicing onions. How fitting for me to do a tribute to Tony in the kitchen in the form of an onion tart. I can't see he can complain as I'm only doing my wifely duty poised over the kitchen stove since I loathe the other housewifely activity of being bent over the ironing. ( If I'd had a waffle iron I could possibly have done a recipe with that instead, also fitting for our stumbling mumbling waffling Tony). I suppose I could then thank him for getting rid of the carbon tax so that it lowered the cost of electricity associated with using my iron - but in any case we have solar and I had no problem with the carbon tax to begin with. Yes, he really did say that.

If you aren't aware, Tony is famous for his somewhat bizarre raw onion munching activities, so in a humourous tribute yesterday before the result was even in, social media was alight with #putoutyouronions.  So, my contribution is this delicious rustic chilli onion tart (the chilli is the crying part). Serve with a large helping of bright greens...the leafy kind that is, not the political party ;) So long Tony - now every time I slice an onion, I'll think of you.

One quantity of vegan savoury shortcrust pastry
One quantity of vegan bechamel/white sauce
3 large onions
1 cup sliced sweet potato
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch salt
1/4 - 1/2 rsp chilli powder
few bayleaves

1.On a low heat saute the onions in a little oil with sugar, salt, and chilli powder until soft and caramelised (about 30 minutes).
2. While onions are cooking preapre your pastry and press into a greased tart tin. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes, this helps prevent the pastry shrinking during baking.
3.Steam sliced sweet potato until just beginning to soften, and set aside.
4. Prepare you bechamel sauce, and while it is cooking out, blind bake the pastry shell for 10 minutes.
5. Take out the tart shell and put the potato on the bottom followed by the crying onions, and then pour the bechamel over the top evenly.
6. Bake for a further 20 minutes. Leave for 5 minutes to cool slightly, and then serve.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 3: Quick & Easy Green Fettucine

Thursday is usually a longish day for me.It's kennel day, so that means it's an hour and a half drive down the mountain and by the time I head home it's the same time back and I'm so beat I want something quick and easy for dinner. Today I was lucky it was a short day but with the Beloved being away and one of our fosters being "extra needs" at the moment I just wanted a simple dinner for one. Which is good since today's prompt is quick and easy!

Basically, I just cooked some fettucine and threw in any green vegie I had with some melted non dairy butter, garlic, chilli powder, and lemon zest. I go a bit overboard with lemon while the hubby isn't here because he isn't fond of it in savoury dishes. I had plenty of kale from the garden, parsley, peas, broccolini, and some avocado. I squeezed a bit of the lemon juice over the top with some pepper and voila! dinner.

I would like to say I ate it at the table but in in reality I just ate it on the sofa watching QI with Lady Poppy for company who was too busy wrapped in a food comatose of her own to be worried about what I had. Any dinner is a quick dinner if you're a greyhound - your mum makes it for you!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 2: Stuffed French Toast

Today's theme is to recreate a meal from your childhood. I decided to try French Toast. I also wanted to make stuffed French toast, because let's face it, if it's in a sandwich you don't have to use a knife and fork and you can eat it with one hand. Plus, the filling doesn't fall out when you flip it over - bonus!

This one sticks out in my mind so much because it was tied to a book. My very first cookbook of sorts. It was called Debbie Learns To Cook and I was five years old. I loved it, with its beautiful illustrations of Debbie learning to cook with a cat and dog by her side, and a few very simple recipes that children can make or help to make. Perhaps I've unconsciously been living by this book - except I installed doggy gates to keep inquisitive snouts out of the kitchen... I remembered I still had the book and it is just as I remembered it.

My first problem while pondering this was the egg replacement. I've tried a few methods, including batter, and silken tofu, but the batter was too heavy and tofu just doesn't quite do it for me as an egg replacement. Don't get me started on scrambled tofu... I've never liked it, however its made. So I decided to give aquafaba (tinned chickpea juice) a try! The result? Fluffy french toast slightly caramelised from the sugar :)

How I styled It: As Above - cute napkin and fork, etc etc...

How I Really Ate It: I ate half of one shooing Kimiko Cat off the table and having a cup of tea - but as I'm still feeling slightly off colour  and no way can I eat all of that, the remainder went to the dogs...Baz really likes banana :)

1 unsliced loaf of bread  (I used sourdough)
1/4 cup aquafaba
 1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
vanilla to taste
few strawberries
1 banana
coconut oil for frying

1.Whisk the aquafaba until it foams like you are making a meringue, and add the sugar. Keep beating, and then quickly whisk in the almond milk to combine, and vanilla, and pour into a shallow dish.

2. Cut the bread into thick slices about 3 cm thick. and then using a sharp knife, cut a "pocket" into the top of the slice, leaving the bottom and sides unopened.

3. Slice the strawberries and bananas and stuff into the pocket.

4. Place each pocket into the aquafaba mixture and allow to soak for a minute on each side.

5. Heat your coconut oil on medium heat in a heavy bottomed frying pan, and place each pocet in the pan. Cook until lightly browned and flip over to the other side. Don't do this on a high heat or the sugar gets too hot and it will stick to the pan. Slice in half so you can see the stuffing, or eat with one hand as is!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Vegan Mofo Day1: Breakfast Mushroom Sandwich

Rise and Shine it's Mofo Time! Not only is it MoFo time it's Spring here Down Under woot woot!

This year I'll be posting the "pretty" blog photos, and then I'll put photos of how I actually ate it. And at times, it might just be how I ate it. Because let's face it, we don't all wear nice frocks and eat tiny sandwiches under bunting with vintage picnic rugs and baskets. More often than not, it's a vegie burger in the car, a bowl of something in pj's (while perching on the 5cm of couch  left to me while being carefully watched by 8 hounds) or eating something one handed while typing with the other.

I don't know about you, but sometimes real breakfast is a luxury item that I can't afford with the little time I have. So often, by the time I've fed the houndies, fed the cats, checked the chooks, and got ready it's time for me to leave and all I've managed is a cup of tea or a juice as I run out of the door. Or, I fall back on toast, which let's face it, quite often isn't really nutritionally optimal, and doesn't keep me full for long. So, this morning, although I knew I had to leave in good time to take The Baz (our fourth canine child) for his therapy appointment -it's about 1 1/2 hr drive in peak- I made sure I was going to have a good brekky to keep me going through the morning. At the moment I have the task of making sure fosterkid Murray Hound has some physio before I leave as well. Breakfast was something I was going to have to eat in the van on the hop. 

A Mushroom Sarnie seemed like a pretty good idea to me - throw two field mushrooms on the sandwich press to use as the 'bread'  and I could wrap it up and take it with my travel mug of tea.  I spread them with coconut oil, and then put chopped tomato, avocado, kale, tahini, and some pepper between the mushrooms. Voila!

I had the presence of mind to prep everything ready to go the night before too, so all I had to do was throw it on and wait for it to "toast" while I sorted out something else. By that I mean Baz, who is usually quite reluctant to get up when he knows he is heading out for an appointment and would rather stay in bed next to the heater (wouldn't we all?!). That said...30 seconds on the table for his "back tickle" and acupuncture and he's out like a light...what a dog!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Roasted Tomatillo & Lime Salsa

5 years ago, we started growing tomatillos as I could not find them anywhere in Australia, other than a few tinned ones through a Mexican food importer. I could however, find the seeds. Loving Mexican food I really wanted to try this fruit that pops up so much in recipes from the US. Now, I can find jars of tomatillo salsa in the supermarket but once it was not so easy! They are a very pretty plant and I love watching the "lanterns" grow and in the autumn, finding the skeletonized husks - they're just so delicate and lovely.

That first year I coddled and coaxed and crooned to my tomatillo seeds, begging them to sprout and then grow into strong seedlings for me (Ok, so maybe I didn't croon to them but let's just imagine for a moment that I did). Liking a warm climate like tomatoes which are notoriously late to ripen in our mountains, I didn't hold out a lot of hope, but I perservered. They were covered and kept warm, and dutifully planted out after the last frost, and covered at night - all of those things a desperate gardener will do for a prized plant. Four out of the twelve plants survived and fruited, and although I liked them, I just thought they would be too laborious for the following year. They didn't like our cooler summers, and it seemed a lot of effort.

The following year, much to my surprise, volunteer seedlings popped up mid spring, and flourished. So much so that every year since the plants have been stronger and fruited earlier, acclimatising themselves to our alpine region and this year, completely invading the garden. Today I decided to pull them all out, the nights are getting quite cold already (that's the Blue Mountains for you, two seasons - winter, and February LOL). I ended up with a bit over 9 kilograms of them (that's about 20 pounds for those using Imperial measurements).  I picked a couple of kilos off some early plants but this is definitely a record! So roasted salsa it is! I've divided the recipe into a manageable and smaller batch for those that don't have  a ridiculous amount like me. I also omitted chilli powder this time as not everyone likes chilli as much as me.... but that's ok feel free to add siracha when you serve!

2 kg tomatillos
2 large onions
3 cloves garlic
1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt
1 bunch coriander leaves (cilantro)

Dehusk and thoroughly wash the tomatillos
Quarter onions, peel and halve garlic cloves, and cut and quarter the lime
In a baking dish, put in the tomatillos, onions, garlic, and lime, and roast on 180C n a preheated oven until tomatillos collapse.
Allow to cool and then pulse onion,garlic, and the flesh of the lime in a food processor.
Add tomatillos and pulse a couple of times to chop, not puree.
either in a slow cooker or a saucepan, put in the tomatillo mixture and add cumin, salt, and coriander leaves. 
Simmer until reduced and thick and chunky (I used my enormous slow cooker and left in on low overnight with the lid slightly askew for the vapour to get out).

Serve with your favourite chilli or use as a dip with corn chips, or slather on some hot warm soft tacos